USA, Chapter 1

We covered A LOT of ground on our trip. Here’s what went down:

Sydney to Dallas, Texas
Dallas to Northern Virginia (Gainesville and Fairfax)
Northern Virginia to Central Virginia (Bedford and Madison)
Central Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia to Wernersville, Pennsylvania
Wernersville to New York City
New York City to Salem, Massachusetts
Salem to Portland, Maine
Portland to Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor to Washington DC/Northern VA
Northern VA to Dallas
Dallas to Sydney

Our first stop in the land of the free was good ol’ Virginia. Northern Virginia, to be specific. The People’s Republic of Northern Virginia, to be exact.

But first, the flight. A few days before we left Sydney, Joel realised that Qantas allowed only 90 minutes to collect and recheck our bags, go through customs, security, and make it to our next gate. He contacted Qantas to see if this was a mistake, but they advised that it’s the minimum time allowed for airlines to provide for connections. For international flights. Through Dallas Fort Worth. The second largest airport in the States. So we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. But once our initial flight out of Sydney was delayed by 30 minutes, we knew we were chancing it. And of course, even with rushing and running through the airport with our expedited LET US THROUGH passes, we still missed our next flight by 5 minutes. So, after a 14 hour flight, our choices were: wait 5 hours in the airport for the next flight; spend $900 on a flight with another airline that would get us home 1 hour sooner; spend $70 taxi to take us to Dallas and $70 to take us back. So we spent 5 hours waiting… waiting… waiting… for the next flight. Thanks, Qantas!

IMG_8182
3 hours in – Joel meets the Dunkachino

We eventually landed in Dulles around midnight. My sister and her friend Brian picked us up from the airport, and my friends Kristin and Kate surprised us there as well, so it was kind of amazing to have a homecoming squad at 12:30 in the morning, waiting for us at baggage claim. We spent a week with my parents, sister, and nephew in Gainesville, where we went to the Virginia State Fair (oh boy), saw an advanced screening of A Star is Born, I drove my family’s very fancy new cars, I picked through my storage room belongings (I thought I had 4 boxes. I actually had 2 carloads. Whoops!), Joel bought a fancy outfit for the wedding, we took a road trip to my dad’s pet project, The Kernstown Battlefield and then went to Harper’s Ferry, W VA, had a visit with the newlywed Odie and finally met his wife, Carrie, and had general hang times with my family and Mz Bill Purray, eating my mom’s cooking and watching almost every episode of 90 Day Fiance (WHY SO GOOD). I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed my family.

On Friday, we packed up our rental car and trekking 4 hours to Bedford, VA for Kris and Kate’s wedding (Fun fact: renting an economy car will get you a tiny roller skate car that will barely fit two adults and their luggage). I love Kate and I love Kris. They’re the most generous, hilarious, and lovely couple you’ll ever meet. And they throw a hell of a party.

43260411_2136620129701679_8991539477562261504_n
Kate and Kris by the lovely Michael Strange

I met them through my bestie Kristin, right after college when I was a certified Train Wreck, and I bonded with them through too many drunk, late night conversations at parties. Kate also saved my ass during one of the many times I was soon to be desperately unemployed, by scoring me a job where we ended up sharing an office together, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had working. Their wedding was +10 gorgeous, and even though it was 900* and humid, I loved spending the day before setting up and hanging out with my Ashburn pals, and Kate and Kris’ amazing and fun families. On the wedding day, everyone looked drop dead amazing. The vows were so heart felt and beautiful that I sobbed through the ceremony. The food was delicious, bar tenders funny, laughs non-stop, dance floor was fire, the bourbon was flowing, and I had a very hard time waking up at 6AM to get back on the road the next day. (Actually, the hangover was only part of it. It was mostly that Joel and I drunkenly mowed through two ham and cheese sandwiches that I unknowingly made with spoiled ham and we had mild food poisoning for the next 3 days). I’m mad I didn’t get more pictures, but we were both too busy dancing until my feet blistered and reconnecting with old friends – i.e. we had an amazing time.

After the wedding, we trekked (slowly, with great struggle and hangover) back north to Madison, where my bestie Daron lives – as I found out – on a farm on the top of a mountain. We figured this out as we were driving up, and up, and suddenly realised my foot was pressed almost down to the ground and we were still only going 15 miles an hour. Daron is a sweet angel baby and hooked us up with her neighbour’s Air BnB cabin, so I could nap (hangover) and have 3 rounds of toilet time (food poisoning), before she took us to Wal-Mart where we bought slippers, pumpkins, junk food, and bullets. We took the bullets and put them in her guns and made shooting happen at the pumpkins.

IMG_8551
Winchester, baby. Also my new most fave slippers. #wheninrome

I know, I know, America = guns. But Daron lives on a farm on the top of a mountain. It’s important to be able to defend yourself against bears/coyotes/foxes who wander in, won’t leave, and get aggressive when you try to scare them off. I’m terrified of guns, and was a terrible shot with the small pistols (in fact, I dropped the .9 millimetre as it was firing – whoops!). Joel, on the other hand, was basically a natural. I got talked into shooting the Henry rifle, even though I really, really didn’t want to. But something magical happened – I made 3 shots on the target in a row, and I loved it. I loved the feel of the rile, I loved how smooth and quiet it shot, I loved how the smoke escaped the barrel, I loved pulling the gold lever to cock another bullet into the chamber (is any of this correct terminology? I have no idea), and they basically had to pry the gun out of my hands. I only missed once. So if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse and I have a Henry rifle, you’re all in good hands. (oh man, just writing about shooting it makes me want to shoot it again)

Our cabin, which was even higher on the mountain top, was freaking adorable. After our shoot em up spree, we all retired to the cabin for dinner, a few hours gossiping, and Keeping up with the Kardashians (it’s not a Daron/Audrey hang time unless there’s bad reality TV or vampires involved), and once the stars came out, there was goddamn magical star gazing. We were so far away from civilization, that we saw the motherfucking MILKY WAY. It was beautiful. And I didn’t get a single picture of it.

DSCF8967
But I did try to get one of the sunset, so hey

From Daron’s mountain, we ventured northward still, to Philadelphia. We were meeting up with my parents there and staying for two nights. I love Philadelphia for two reasons: history, and cheesesteaks. We stayed in an vintage hotel, showed Joel where our country shook free the yolk of the monarchy, toured a submarine and a historic war ship, and ate some damn good food. My dad and I got matching cheese steak t-shirts, my mom nearly got swindled by a street hustler, and we wandered onto the wrong side of the tracks to get the best Philly cheesesteak. All in all, we had an absolute blast. We also lost about 20 lbs in sweat, because it was 90*, SUNNY, and with extreme humidity on the day we went sight-seeing. And, there were more laid out junkies on the sidewalk than I’ve ever seen in any city, anywhere.

We bid a sad farewell to my parents, and after missing a couple turns getting out of the city, headed an hour-ish out of the city to Wernersville, where my bestie Leah’s parents live. Leah, her husband William, and their two (two! when I left the States, there was only 1) kiddos flew east to meet up with us and spend a few days at Camp Lanphar: where you’re never hungry, rarely sober, and spoiled within an inch of your life.

The last time I saw Leah was two days before I flew to Sydney, and she was in Struggle City with her first born, who was 6 weeks old. To see her and William as real life, functioning parents to a 4 year old and a new 2 year old was weird. Like, it’s weird to see the kids I grew up with as actual adults. Weird in that I-know-this-is-what-is-supposed-to-happen-in-life-but-how-are-we-already-this-old kinda way. We spent two days, hanging out, laughing, playing with guns, talking way too much about poo and mudslides, watching kids be kids, drinking too much wine, but most importantly – eating ribs. Leah’s mom makes My Most Favourite Ribs In The Entire World, and always cooks a batch when I visit. This time around though, Leah entered the ring and we had a blind taste-test rib-off. Basically, it was the happiest night of my life, and I probably could have polished off both pants of ribs and died of stomach explosion with a smile on my greasy, rib coated face.

img_8706.jpg
The holiest of holy: ribs by Leah and Paula

If I’ve learned one thing from our entire trip, it’s that no time with my friends is long enough. And goodbyes still suck, but they don’t mean forever. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have friends who are family, and whose families have become my family. It feels good, man.

While we were visiting Leah, a big storm came through and the temperature dropped dramatically overnight (I saw a meme that put it best: “The weather dropped from 90 to 50 like it saw a cop.”), so it was blustery and cold. So we rolled out of Camp Lanphar in 49* weather and headed up to New York City. On the way, we stopped by Valley Forge to get our National Park Passport stamped (oh, we are SO cool now) and so we could see the sights. I told Joel the same thing that my parents told me before we visited Valley Forge in ’96 – that the troops there were snowed in and ran out of resources, so they had to resort to cannibalism. Except I forgot that was just legend, and the look of disappointment on Joel’s face when he read “No cannibalism was officially documented at Valley Forge” was probably the same look I had as a 12 year old. heh heh.

And I, in all my wisdom, thought “if it hasn’t cooled down yet, it’s going to be this hot forever, therefore I won’t need these sweaters and this winter jacket for the rest of my trip.” WOMP WOMP. I was very, very cold at Valley Forge, in the one sweatshirt I brought just as an afterthought. And I had a feeling it was just going to get colder.

STAY TUNED FOR CHAPTER 2: NEW YORK CITY AND MASSACHUSETTS!

USA: 1 Second Everyday

We’re baaaaack!

35 days, 6 states, 3 seasons, 2 vicious bouts of jet lag, and only 4 hangovers.

I’m still going through photos, but for now, here’s the 1 Second Everyday flick I put together. In true Audrey style, there are multiple seconds per day, because I hate making decisions.

And as I was loading all the videos, I kept thinking, “shit, I missed that, and that, and that,” and getting annoyed, because I seemed to not film some great moments on the trip. But, I didn’t catch some moments because I was being an actual person and engaging with other actual people, making memories, and I wasn’t glued to my phone. And thinking about that, I’m totally ok with the shit I missed.

So enjoy the smattering (and no where near comprehensive) of seconds from our trip. Tune in this week for Part 1 of PARTY IN THE USA


xoxo,
Aud

A Year of Pancake

We adopted our sweet little mama cat one year ago today!

unnamed (15)

And we have been obsessed with her ever since.


Happy anniversary, you sweet nasty cat, you moody goof ball, you sleepy little bean face, you tub water drinkin, cat nip dosing, carpet scratching ball of fluff. You’ve made us the happiest cat people, ever. Now, please don’t wake up with head butts at 4AM and I’ll feed you all the treats you can stand.

xoxo,
your humans

 

Catchup.com: winter?

ah, haha. September. It feels like I was just writing “I can’t believe it’s July!”

In four years, this blog has evolved from what cool new things are happening to me in my life in Australia to a “holy crap time has passed and I’m still surprised” post followed by 6 weeks of silence. So, if you’re still following this, thanks for hanging in there (hi mom!). Continue reading “Catchup.com: winter?”

Procrasti-baking

I’ve been doing really well this week at writing for a little bit every day, so I thought “I’m going to set aside Sunday to do nothing but write!” And as Sunday came around, I sat down with my laptop and BAM: no motivation. No ideas. I was very nearly about to force myself to just write something when Joel asked if I was going to bake the cookies I had sorta kinda thought about baking yesterday but didn’t. And suddenly the cookies became Priority One Must be DONE RIGHT NOW.

And I’m glad I dropped everything to make them, because they are the most delicious chocolate cookies ever. I’m going to post the recipes in a more detailed blog when I’ve made them absolutely perfect (Not the taste, because these are goddamn brilliant, but I need to work on the texture, baking times, getting fresher baking soda, and rolling them in to better shapes).

So here ya go, enjoy my procrasti-baking. And now, my procrasti-blogging.

DSCF8579

DSCF8582

DSCF8584

DSCF8583

DSCF8586

DSCF8587

DSCF8588

DSCF8589

DSCF8594

DSCF8600

Seriously, these cookies are so good – they’re worth blowing off your entire schedule.

Happy Sunday, folks!

xoxo,
Aud

Paint Skillz

Almost exactly a year ago, I got the crushing news that Microsoft Paint would no longer be a supported app.

WHAT THE FUCK? I thought, a year ago, as a wave of nostalgia swept through me. As you know, I am a professional, accomplished, envied drawer person (available for hire).

1
By Audrey, 8 years old. I am really good at art, and always was. 

A year ago, I planned to reveal my secret talent in this post. For you may or may not know, before I became a Very Important and Distinguished Professional drawer person, and even before I became an Internationally Renowned,  Marginally Proficient Adobe Illustrator illustrator:

Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 9.12.22 PM
Work in Progress – aka my magnum opus – aka all my favourite things

I was an A++ Certified Badass in Microsoft Paint. True story!

giraffe
“Audrey: Very Good At Art” – the world 

Back when computers were only a thing for my friends whose moms re-married rich tech guys after leaving their philandering husbands, all we did was play Oregon Trail and draw things with Paint. And when my brother Josh got Mario Paint for his Super Nintendo, I didn’t think life got any better. That was, until we got our first family computer in 1997, and I had free reign over my MS Paint domain. I think I went through a ream of paper printing out every single doodle that came to me.

I mean, I loved drawing, and I really loved drawing with computers. And with all that hard work, all that determination, all that training, and all the wrist surgeries from the “holding mouse at precise angle so as not to make crooked lines” carpal tunnel I suffered, I progressed to the before-unheard of skill set of “Kinda Mostly ok”. And that’s an honour I carry with me to this day.

So, a year ago, when I got the sad news that MS Paint was going to kick the fill bucket, I thought of writing this blog. And I decided to put together a collection of my greatest MS Paint hits. And it took 363 days, but by golly I did it. I wish I could find the stuff I did when I was a sad 13 year old on the ol’ Gateway 2000, but alas. That’s a blog for another day (perhaps next year?). For now, though, enjoy this carefully curated gallery of my greatest works:

picnic_phixr
“Having a Nice Time” – which I printed on a t-shirt as part of world famous t-shirt range (so famous). The non-watermarked (ha, watermark. Way to go, Audrey) version is somewhere on a hard drive I can’t access from my Mac (that’s security!)
raptor
“Velociraptor Sobotka” – I felt like merging some of my favourite things, which happened to be Ziggy from The Wire season 2, and velociraptors (I am very predictable)
dad sheep
“Do Android Larrys Dream of Electric Sheep?” a portrait of my dad in his college days. 
blue ranger
Kristin’s bachelorette party t-shirt designs (it was Dinosaurs and hula hooping on May the 4th and we were also watching a lot of Drag Race at the time
audrey
crude artist rendering of me in my 20’s

 

1484709_10151925712259735_1925403507_n
The birth announcement I made for my sister’s little guy
collage
Leah’s dinosaur bachelorette t-shirts (I didn’t draw the dinosaurs, they were templates. But I added the accessories)

And entertain yourselves with these illustrated stories from the vault:

re-enactment
“Hello 4AM” — How Bill Purray almost got himself thrown out a window (featuring Gary Busey monster)

 

shoes 3
“Shoeless Aud” how I lost my favourite shoe down a drain

I don’t care if it’s a “deprecated” app, and “not in active development and might be removed in future releases”. It’s still #1 in my heart. And I’ll always love it. A year later, and I’m still bummed. Me and this 87 year old Grandmother will be here in the corner, rocking the shit out of steady hand line drawing with our mouses, and revelling in the 10 different colour choices and no less than different line widths.

CHAMPION.

*btw, to prove how efficient and awesome I am, here’s a screen shot off my phone. Not only am I very good at art, I am also very good at ignoring deadlines.

unnamed

 

See you next year! Probably.
xoxo

5 years and a permanent resident

On Mother’s Day, we got the best news: I was granted my hella goddamn PERMANENT RESIDENT VISA. Continue reading “5 years and a permanent resident”

Party in the USA

Seriously, how is it July already?

I still feel like it’s January, like I’m still reminding myself not to forget that Valentine’s Day* is just around the corner. When really, my friggin birthday is right around the corner, and around the corner from that, is our big USA trip. That’s right, we’re headed back to my deep fried kingdom, my bullet ridden homeland, my red, white, and blue stomping grounds. And to say I’m excited is a wee bit of an understatement.  Continue reading “Party in the USA”

Spoiled milk tales

I work with some chatty people. Like, Chatty. At least once a day I fall down a tangent trail that started with a legitimate work question, how do you adjust a doctor’s diary, but ends up in a full on discussion of whether a good corn bread recipe has sugar in it (spoiler alert: it does). And for someone like me, who hasn’t met a person I can’t swap a story with (I was born to be a grandma, spinning tales), sometimes I get lost for the better part of half an hour, and I have to forcibly remove myself or I will spend my entire shift sharing anecdotes.

(Hi, I am a blogger)

Today, I walked into a conversation about losing a bottle of breast milk under the seat of a car, and not finding it for a few days, and the resulting curdled horror that was found in its place. I was under a tight deadline so I couldn’t stay and share my most horrifying, disgusting spoiled milk story. So I’m going to share it with you, here since it so happens to basically be the 10 year anniversary of this revolting story. Aren’t you glad you’re following me?

 

Flash back ten years ago, I had finished college in January, and I was about to start my first real, full time office job. I was finishing up work for my part-time job, which included running errands like dropping off mail and picking up his groceries. So I go to the store, pick up the eggs, bread, milk, meat, etc, buy them, bring them to my car, and head to his house to deliver. But when I get all the groceries inside, I can’t find the milk! So I check my car, and nothing. I think, ok, I must have left it at the store, no big deal.

I go back to the store, and take my receipt to the counter where I was doing self-checkout. I asked the cashier manning the stations if she saw the milk I left behind. She hadn’t seen anything. Strange, I bought a 1/2 gallon of milk, as you can see, but I don’t have it, it’s not in my car, so I really feel like I left it here. She asks if I checked my car. I said it was the first thing I did. She directs me to customer service, because clearly I am trying to scam my way to a free gallon of milk (90% sure I was in my pajamas with dirty hair, which was my standard uniform of my post-college, full on depression days). I go to customer service, she asks if I checked my car, YES I HAVE. I end up fussing very sternly to the manager (something I don’t normally do), and she finally let me take home another milk. I deliver the milk, get my last paycheck, and go home to pack for Los Angeles, because the next day I was leaving to visit my friend Leah for a week. I tell my parents the story and we all scratch our heads. My dad asks if I checked my car. My brain deflates.

Anywho, I leave for my trip on the first day of a heat wave. I left my keys to my car with my mom, incase something happened with my car. About 4 days into my trip, I get a call from my mom.

“Audrey!”
“Hello!” (we always answer the phone in exclamation points)
“We found… the milk.”
“What?!”

My mom then proceeds to tell me the story:

She and my dad were going to visit my grandpa in Ohio, and they decided to take my car (without asking, btw) since it had better gas mileage. They opened the doors and were hit with an especially foul smell. They figured it was just because the car sat in extreme heat for four days, and that it would air out once the car got moving and the air conditioner turned on. They got about 2 minutes down the road before they had to stop at a gas station, because it was evident that something had crawled inside my car and died, and the vomitous the smell was not going to go away. They both got out, and my dad inspected the trunk – nothing. Under the driver’s seat? Nothing. Under the passenger seat?

Oh. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

The half gallon of milk hadn’t disappeared. It was on its side, in a puddle of rancid, boiled, cottage cheese diarrhoea. Apparently the milk slid under the seat when I put the groceries in, and I didn’t see it. I didn’t have any idea that could happen. And with the heat wave, the jug exploded. And with the continued heat wave, the milk just turned into every form of vile, globular, sulfuric acid baby shit mixed with hot spoiled eggs that it could.

Lovely.

So they (somehow) drove the car to a detailer, where the poor workers cleaned out the putrid shit lake, and cut the upholstery out of the floor, because there is no other way to get rid of spoiled dairy smell.

She wasn’t calling me just to let me know they fixed my car. She was calling from the road to complain to me that the botulism bomb I left had seriously delayed their trip. ARE YOU KDDING ME? I told her that decomposing dairy dump was an anti-theft deterrent, and also, you know, KARMA for stealing my car for a long distance journey.

Right? Am I right?

All summer, that car vaguely smelled like rotten milk. But I learned something valuable. 1) it is possible to lose a half gallon of milk under the seat of my car
2) soured, putrid milk lake isn’t a very effective theft deterrent when gas is nearly $3.50/gallon

So there you have it, my putrid dairy story. Happy Monday!

xo

Idiocy

I can be quite the idiot. Like, I should get a special prize kind of idiot.

My idiocy is never more apparent than when I’m trying to rush through something. it’s like, “That’s future Audrey’s problem” is my prevailing mantra (Present Day Audrey is a real dick to Future Audrey). And Thursday was no exception.

I was running late (typical) to catch my bus, and thus was rushing through closing up the clinic. The last thing I do before I leave is wash out the milk jug. When I got to the kitchen, someone else was at the sink, washing a stack of plates. I didn’t want to wait for her to finish, because I was already late, and I only had like, 2 minutes before I was really late, so I saw the boiling water tap in the tiny sink next to the girl washing dishes, and thought “oh I’ll just rinse it out with that tap, and I won’t have to wait. Cool!”  And so, I went to the tap.

IF I had taken even a split second to think about things, I would have realised the following:
– the boiling water tap produces BOILING WATER. That’s what it does.
– the milk jug has a round, flat spout and a lid that fits into the spout, that you have to flip up with your thumb using the little thumb lever
– the boiling water tap isn’t very tall, so you would have to put the jug under the tap before you turn on the tap, otherwise the BOILING water will bounce off the flat round spout and splash BOILING water everywhere
– you’re already really late, so what’s being a few more minutes late
You could politely ask if you could cut in for a second because you’re running late (nope, that’s terrible manners and I can’t do that)

But no, I marched to the boiling tap like I was on a clear mission. I turned the tap on first, put the jug under the tap, and THE HOTTEST WATER CAN GET – BOILING HOT water shot everywhere – across my hand, into the dishes in the drainer, and possibly on the girl standing next to me. It was the worst .3 seconds of my life. I instantly turned the tap off and the rational side of my brain – which was suspiciously absent 10 seconds ago but was now forefront and center — was all “SEE I TOLD YOU DON’T YOU FEEL STUPID”.

The girl next to me said, “Oh my god are you ok? That’s boiling water.”
“Yeah, it is. I’m sorry, I didn’t think it’d be boiling straight away” (this, this is what I came up with?)
“Nope, that’s literally all it does.”
“Welp, I know that now!” (once again, this, this is what I came up with)

I put the jug under the tap AGAIN (to save face?) and then put only a little water in the jug and this time didn’t spray everyone with SCALDING HOT BOILING WATER. I dumped the water out, put the jug in the drainer promising I’d give it a proper soapy clean tomorrow and ran out of there as fast as I could, all the while holding my not even burnt hand as my bully brain pummelled me with omg that is the worst thing to ever happen ever you are now the laughing stock of all the doctors you work with.

When I got outside, it was dark, raining and windy, and I was braving the elements with my shitty $5 umbrella. I got to the big intersection I have to cross before I get to the bus stop, and out of habit, I walked straight up to the edge of the curb to wait for the light to change. As I saw a car coming toward us, my rational brain finally kicked in and said “WHOA BACK AWAY FROM THE CURB OR THAT CAR WILL SPLASH THE HECK OUT OF YOU” and I turned around and took a few steps away from the splash zone, thanking my brain for being on it’s A-game.

There was a woman standing near me with her giant umbrella, who had watched me walk to the edge and back. Great, someone else saw me fuck up, I thought, as we made eye contact for a second. She smiled and said “Good thinking! Yesterday I got splashed with a wall of water that was as tall as me!” I laughed and said something about idiot brains. She laughed and agreed, and I told her the water tap story. “Some days, huh??” she said as we crossed the street. And as we parted ways, she said “Get home safe, ok!”

I don’t know if it was the commiseration, or just the niceness of this complete stranger, but I instantly felt better. Some strangers are sent to confirm your idiocy, and some are sent to say “hey, me too. It happens.” You can guess which one I appreciate more.

Some days, huh??

Edit: two hours after posting this blog, I locked myself out of the apartment and had to take an Uber to the city so I could get Joel’s keys. #somedayshuh