On the Road Again (or, for the first time)

I remember my very first time on the open road. I turned 15 and 9 months – the state of Maryland’s minimum age for obtaining your learner’s permit – and scored my learner’s permit on the first try. Continue reading “On the Road Again (or, for the first time)”

Ticket to ride

After 2ish years of avoiding the Australian equivalent of the DMV, I finally got my Australian Driver’s license.

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My real license, complete with Extra Terrible Photo arrives in a few weeks. Whee!

 

I’m not sure why I put it off for so long – maybe I was equal parts scared of waiting in line forever at the Service Centre, taking a right handed drive driver’s test, and maybe it was all just WHAT IF A HUNTSMAN GETS IN MY CAR?! (this happened to me with spiders in the States a few times, it’ll sure as shit happen here. Just much bigger.) Also we have public transport and I’ve really been enjoying not having a car payment or related wallet-crushing expenses.

But the wheels went in motion the other night as Joel and I were having our 500th conversation about when we should get a dog. And he might have said “We can get a dog when you get your license, because we’ll need a car to take him places.” And I might have had my application filled out and ready to go the next day.

(#motivation)

And today, we got an unexpected early release from work, so I found the Service Centre that’s about 6 minutes away from our place and walked on over. I waited about 5 minutes, showed a few documents and my application, took a 10 second eye test, took yet another ID photo where I look like a meth-faced criminal who can’t decide which gender he identifies with (seriously, I look like a man in all but 2 of my ID photos. Thanks for the strong genes, Dad.), and $56 and 10 minutes later I was out the door, with my unrestricted license (albeit temporary) in hand.

That’s it? That’s it. No road test, no knowledge test – nothing. I have never driven in the right side driver’s seat and I haven’t even sat behind the wheel of a car in over 2 years. Don’t they know I’m American? And that I learned to drive in Maryland, home of nationally renowned terrible drivers? So this will surely be exciting. And now that I have my license, Joel can finish is permit (#citykids). So, double exciting.

I can’t wait for more road trip adventures and not waiting for the bust to take us to the beach and most importantly – GETTING A DOG PAL! Well, one day.

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vroooooooooooom

Summer goals: 1 down, 100 to go!

 

“You got out while you could.”

When the rumours started swirling that he was going to run for president, I laughed. That’s ridiculous. He’s a piece of shit, there’s no way he’d make it.

And when he officially announced his intent, I still laughed. Lots of celebrities have tried to run, but they got knocked out in just a few weeks. I laughed, but I was slightly terrified at the momentum he appeared to be gaining. People were taking him seriously. What?

And then, he won the candidacy. He had more momentum. He had an opponent who people hated. He had an opponent whose party was split between her and Bernie Sanders. And people loved him. They didn’t care that he was mocking disabled people. That he wanted to register and deport Muslims. That he wanted to build a wall to keep out Mexicans. That he wants to wipe Syria off the map. That Putin is all “I’m with him.” That he bragged about not paying his taxes. That businesses in his name failed and he denied ever having being a part of them. That he bragged about objectifying and assaulting women. He preached about tearing down all the progressive measures that America is making, swore vengeance against ISIS, and it didn’t matter. They still loved him.

I saw his name on the ballot as I voted for Hillary. I thought, this is all a joke. There’s no way such a horrible man would be elected. There’s no way he’s actually on the ballot. But there he was.

There’s no way America is that reckless.

I woke up with the same anxiety stomach pains and hot/cold flashes I’ve had all week. All morning, I was glued to my phone, refreshing the results every time my boss looked away. I don’t live in America anymore, but the election was all my coworkers wanted to talk about. Election coverage has been on the news all year, but today it was on all the channels. It started out promising – she was in the lead, narrowly, but in the lead. It felt good. The official numbers started coming in around 3:00. And by 4:00 I had to put my phone down and get up and walk away from my desk. I couldn’t focus on anything. He was leading, and it steadily grew. And then it was basically over.

When I got home from work, he was still leading. I was destroyed, but still holding out hope that maybe some miracle would come through and give her the 35 electoral college votes she needed. I was trying to get a list done for my Thanksgiving shop but once again, kept checking my phone every few minutes. I decided to go out, in a mild thunder storm, to get bacon and eggs and sausage and hash browns for dinner 1) because it was time to eat my feelings and b) I couldn’t sit still anymore. And there, in the frozen food section, while wearing sweat pants and rubber rain boots, I found out that Trump had won. Clinton conceded and he won with 276 electoral college votes. He won. I cried.

I’m still in a state of disbelief. Like, I can’t believe this has actually happened. I am so disappointed, bewildered, and outraged. Out of all the elections I’ve been able to vote in, none have felt so pivotal, so important. And I feel like we failed. We have taken a man who embodies ALL the terrible qualities of America – bigoted, impulsive, angry, rapey, bad hair – and put him in the highest position of power. Worse than that, we’ve given him a gaggle of like-minded hate bags to support him in the Congress and the Senate. What the fuck! Did this actually happen? HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?

I’ve heard quite a few times today that I’m lucky I left when I could. But it doesn’t matter. There or here, I’m still an American. I didn’t vote for him, but this man is now my president. And I’m still subject to him. As much as I am loathe to say it, he represents my country. I’m already judged when I tell people I’m American. But now I feel like I have to say, “I’m American… but I didn’t vote for Trump!” The words “President Trump” are going to follow me like a fart cloud – crop dusting no matter where I am. I will be judged by my government. One that I didn’t choose. And that’s haunting.

I’m really scared for the next four years. I’m scared for everyone – women, LGBT, minorities, immigrants, small business owners, disabled, terminally ill, people of other countries that no doubt will be invaded by Trump’s America – everyone. I’m just scared. And I keep telling myself that if we survived 8 years of George W. Bush, then we can survive Trump. I hope we can just ban together to prevent as much sliding ass-backwards into a cave of homo/xenophobia and tax breaks for the 1%.

Today was disappointing. I feel like that one time my manager quit and was replaced by an arrogant, misogynist jackass with no experience who delegated all his work to us because he refused to learn it, and I was like, “Well, this sucks. Just gotta do the best we can.” Eventually, things evened out and he gave a promotion*. So maybe this won’t be the worst thing that’s ever happened.

Or maybe it will. I guess time will tell.

But really, I hope America learned a valuable lesson – when we say “a vote for neither is a vote for either”, it’s because it’s fucking true. Thanks heaps.

 

*wait a minute – it was a promotion without a pay raise. Man, this might be the worst thing that’s ever happened.

A Year in Review

September 3rd brought about my one year anniversary of living in Sydney with Joel. We celebrated with Netflix, champagne and sweatpants.

One of Joel's customers gave a bottle of bubbly. Free champagne is the best champagne.
One of Joel’s customers gave a bottle of bubbly. Free champagne is the best champagne.

Like every milestone that’s passed since I’ve been here, it’s still a little hard to believe that it happened. Like, how did all the holidays pass, all the seasons change, and all the shit that’s happened happen when I only got here like, 2 days ago?

Moving overseas was a huge process, and in the excitement of it all, I underestimated every step of it. I knew I’d miss my friends and family, but I didn’t know how devastatingly I’d miss them or how much I’d kick myself for not calling them every day when I was back in the States. I knew living in a new country would be an adjustment, but I didn’t account for the little things, for the crushing despair I’d feel from not being able to do a walk around Target when I’m feeling down, or for having to stand in the grocery store Googling “what is this ingredient called in Australia” or having a question about dinner and not being able to call my mom for advice. It didn’t occur to me that I’d feel like such an outsider in a first world, english speaking country, and I didn’t think about how feeling like an outsider would make it harder to make friends. I didn’t know how helpless and frustrated and angry I would feel when I’d hear about being able to do nothing about problems back home. I didn’t think about how scary it would be to count every dollar in my budget because I can’t just borrow $50 from my parents anymore. And I really didn’t think about the “hey, only I can talk shit about my family, ok?” reaction I’d get when I’d hear shit talk about the States and American policies – that was the most surprising.

So this year has been the biggest adjustment I’ve ever gone through. But, I can’t think of an adjustment that has been more important or more necessary. And for all the internal challenges I’ve faced this year, my support system has been incredible. I’ve met some great people through Joel and through work, and my parents been there for me, offering me endless support and turning a blind eye to me buying American TV shows through their Amazon prime (they also gave me a gift of temporarily taking over my student loan payments, which I’ll never be able to thank them enough for). My friends have never been more than a message or an impromptu Skype session away, which I’ve never been more thankful for.

I’ve also had a constant source of support and friendship and general badassery here, and it was from one aspect of my life that I knew I never had to worry about: Joel. For the first time ever, I feel like I have a partner. I have someone who isn’t just invested in me, but who is invested in us. I hadn’t realized it before I moved here, but I had always had him as my number one priority in life. Since being in Sydney, though, our life together has become the number one priority. And it’s been an eye opening experience. It’s our money and our problems and our home and our holidays and our life. He’s helped me to be more conscious of my spending, to be healthier, to be more patient and supportive of myself, and to let go of situations I have no control over. Of course, we’ve had our stumbling moments, but now, it feels effortless. I wake up every morning feel grateful that the universe knocked us together.

A whole year. Damn. It took a lot longer than I expected, but I feel like Sydney is becoming my home. I’ve met some great people, I know how to get around town more, I know what to expect from the seasons (i.e. how to dress and live during summer when you don’t have air conditioning), I have cheat sheets for the metric system, I’m determined to learn how to drive, I’m going to hit the beach way more, and life here doesn’t feel so lonely anymore. At the end of every month, I learn a few more lessons about living here. My visa is finally finished and turned in, and I’m employed full time. Basically, I finally feel ready to worry less and do more.

Time flies. At jet speeds. And it feels like so much has happened, even if it doesn’t look like it. Because all the things that happened were little. I realized the value of a dollar. The value of a phone call or even a text message to loved ones. The values of patience and consideration. The value of putting myself in someone else’s shoes. The value of eating healthier and moving more. The value in dropping bad habits. The value of letting go and forgiving. All these little realizations all added up to something huge: I finally grew up.

Happy anniversary, Sydney. Thanks for everything. xo

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Independence Day!

I love my country. My rambling drunk girl at a party of a country. I don’t always like Independence Day, though, because it’s always on the swampiest day of summer, and hanging around sweaty, drunk ‘Mericans rarely comes through on the promise of awesome that it implies.

I spent my last 4th of July in the States alternately taking care of my sick mom, grilling and watching war movies with my dad, and making a baby quilt for my nephew, who was due in mid-July. It was great, as I haven’t always been big on celebrating. In and around my college years, the 4th of July weekend was yet another reason to get Star Spangled Hammered for 2 days straight. But, for the last 5 years or so, I almost always had either an injury or house sitting gigs that kept me in the comfort of my own air conditioning, not getting eaten by mosquitoes and hornets. And it was awesome, because humidity sucks and some of us don’t like sweating and sunburn and getting heat stroke. Also, being hungover at work on July 5th is terrible.

But I have to admit, seeing the pics of everyone dressed in their red white and blue, and their cook outs and their hanging out in grassy back yards, grilling and drinking cold beers and wearing shorts and flip flops pulled at the ol’ nostalgia strings in my heart. Especially as I put on another layer of clothing and turned the space heater up a notch. For a hot minute, I actually missed the stupidly hot days of an East Coast summer, and all my drunk ‘Mericans.

But then, I remember how I’m a fan of not sweating through my clothing, and I felt much happier with a winter 4th. I gladly put the heater up on full power and relished my mosquito bite free skin. Ahhhhh.

We paid tribute to my forefathers in the Continental Congress by drinking American beer, devouring bacon cheeseburgers with American style bacon, watching Mark Whalberg movies, and getting down on some Red White & Blue cobbler while sitting under a blanket and huddling around the space heater. It was awesome.

Every day should start with Nutella-banana scrolls.
Every day should start with coffee and Nutella-banana scrolls (basically a cinnamon roll with mashed banana instead of cinnamon, topped with Nutella. Fucking delicious.)
Joel put up a flag to celebrate.
Joel put up a flag to celebrate. “I feel like we live in American History X now.”
Someone lost his prescription sunglasses.
Someone couldn’t find his prescription sunglasses.
Fuzzy leopard print boat shoes? America.
Fuzzy leopard print boat shoes? America. Specifically, New Jersey. Or Texas.
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Freedom Happy Hour in the hour or two that it was warm enough to sit outside.

There are three different liquor stores, or “bottle shops” close to our apartment. At these three different stores, 4 different American beers can be found: PBR, Sam Adams, Budweiser, and MGD. I was going to get some MGD for Joel, who requested it, which meant I had to make a special trip to the bottle shop furthest from us. As I grabbed cash from my wallet, I thought, “Should I bring my ID? Nah.” Fun fact, I’ve been here for 10 months, and I haven’t been asked for ID once when buying booze. However, yesterday, I was carded when I tried to buy some shitty American beer. I thought about trying to talk them into it, trying to convince them that I just left my ID at home and I promise I’m 30, but I didn’t want to add more layers of sadness by begging for them to sell me MGD. I sulked out of there, happy for once that I didn’t add insult to hobo injury by wearing sweat pants in public. Clearly, Sam Adams won out.

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“streaky” bacon.
AMERICAN BACON YES
AMERICAN BACON YES
We don't have a grill yet, but we have a stove, and Burger Master Joel, which is the next best thing.
We don’t have a grill yet, but we have a stove, and Burger Master Joel, which is the next best thing.
the Yum Helm
the Yum Helm
Life changing burger. I wish I was still eating it.
Life changing burger. I wish I was still eating it.
Cobbler town! I got a little carried away with the whipped cream, so these were basically bowls of diabetes
Cobbler town! I got a little carried away with the whipped cream, so these were basically bowls of diabetes
yummmm
yummmm

My first wintery Independence Day among countrymen who are still in cahoots with the monarchy we told to piss off was a grand success. We didn’t have fireworks (which was a first) but Jesus, Freedom, and America was felt from sun up to sun down. And I think we’re both diabetic as a result.

Hope everyone had fun endlessly sweating! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get another sweater.