31 August 2008

Celebrate Redfern!

Craig and I met last weekend's beautiful Saturday with laziness and boredom. We nearly wasted the entire day; our only saving grace was talking with my parents and Emma back home. Well, Emma was in Flint, not home...

Regardless, to make up for our boring day, in the evening, we thought to check out a flick at the Dendy Newtown, an artsy cinema in everyone's favourity artsy neighbourhood. But after much discussion, not excluding the fact that I am already in Newtown 5 perfectly valid days every week, we decided to look into Sydney's music scene.

Now, we have tried to figure out Sydney's music scene before; again, the licensing issues with bars and music venues thwarted our attempts. It turns out the coolest places to hear powerpop in Sydney are either hotels or art galleries. It's a little confusing. Trolling about myspace, we saw a flyer for a show featuring the Lovers (with former members of the Reigning Sound), The Pink Hits (who were connected to Eddy Current Suppression Ring), and M.O.T.O (a great band from Chicago that Gentleman Jesse "borrowed" from). We knew this was where we needed to be: The Reigning Sound is one of our favorite bands. Eddy Current were recommended by Valerie and Dave, whose recommendation is not to be taken lightly, and the Pink Hits were a top friend of several Aussie powerpop acts. And just the fact that Jesse liked something by M.O.T.O. enough to...ahem...reference it, meant we'd probably like them a lot. The show was at the Excelsior Hotel, in Surry Hills, a short walk from our place. Brilliant.

The show was tons of fun; I didn't realize how much I missed being in a dark room listening to loud music with a beer in my hand and going to bed with a ring in my ears.

The Pink Hits were pretty good:

M.O.T.O was heaps of fun, as the Aussie hipster would say.

Waking up on Sunday morning was not an easy feat, and I think we barely managed to stumble out the door around 1pm. But you have to understand: that's only because we were determined. You see, Sunday had been marked on our calenders for a long time. Ever since we moved to Waterloo, we've been looking wistfully at the green temporary fencing across the street. Redfern Park has been under renovation for two years, and we didn't think it would ever be done. My dreams of living next to a park would have to wait, oh, like so many others. But one day last week--oh wonder of days--we got a postcard: Celebrate Redfern! The park officially opened up on Sunday, with a huge festival. Free coffee, free food, free plants to take home. The Rabbitohs (South Sydney's Rugby League, who once had Redfern Park as their home) were out and signing autographs. They're way too huge for Redfern Park now, but it was nice that they were showing some home love.

They had a new playground built for kids, designed by a local Indigenous artist. She based all the structures on native Australian flora, and the playground looks really neat. The mist fountain's design is based on lotus stems.

One of the structures is 3-D type that says "Biami," which is one of the Indigenous names of the creator spirit. I noticed none of the kids were playing on the letters, and I thought maybe the kids were a little perplexed by it. Surely, kids grow accustomed to a certain number of basic playground structures. Clearly, kids would need a minute to figure out how to interact with one so strange as type.

Obviously, I was wrong.

But it turns out Craig wasn't the only one excited about crawling all over letters.

Of course, Australia can't call it a festival without some amount of terrifying spectacle. Behold the Return of Treeface--

I swear, it's enough to make me swear off festivals!

30 August 2008

The Unveiling: nijadesign.com!

You heard right: nijadesign.com is up and running--give her a look and let me know what you think!

And well, how are all of you on this gorgeous Saturday morning? Craig and I are shuffling along in this strange old town, and we thought this week, we might share our adventure on the

Spit Bridge to Manly Walk!!

That's right: we finally went to North Sydney! Craig and I live in South Sydney, and it's a well-known fact that Southsyders don't go to the North, and vice versa. North Sydney has a rep for being rich and yuppie; South Syd has a rep for being knifey. The real reason is probably the giant body of water between North and South making visiting difficult, but that might also be argument for North and South Sydney to be entirely separate cities. Regardless of all possibly nonexistent secession debate, we decided to go with a group from UNSW on this walk from Spit Bridge to Manly Beach. Manly is a really gorgeous beach, named for the manliness of the Aboriginal people that Europeans met here. I'm not joking. I still haven't figured out why the Spit Bridge is so named; I'm sure it's something equally ridiculous.

The Spit Bridge to Manly walk is a really famous trail, very well marked, and only about 9.5 k, which is like 6 miles. Now, I know that doesn't sound like much, especially for a stroll, but the first 3.5 K was entirely rock-cut stairs and slippery rocks, totally grueling. I was out of breath and exhausted. Once we got past that, the walk was really lovely and beautiful. It took us about 4 hours to finish the walk, because we stopped for little breaks and lunch. We are still in the middle of winter here, but the day was gorgeous, sunny and warm and a little windy. Clearly this guy wasn't going to let winter get him down.

But hey, fair enough. Craig and I were burning up by the middle of the walk, I had taken off my hat, my gloves, my scarf, my jacket, and my hoodie.

We still can't believe we're so close to so much water, so easily able to find all this pristine beauty, just a 40 minute ferry-ride away... I mean, look at all those boats!

Craig's Patio Project is well underway now, and he's making nice progress! Just compare these to the earlier pictures of the patio. Since yesterday, when these were taken, he's even gotten rid of the giant pile of leaves! We tried to use the leaves for composting, but they were too entirely intermingled with disgusting trash. Also note: super fat white cat, basking in the sun as if he's a king. And his kingdom is...that bucket.

Stay tuned for Celebrate Redfern!

23 August 2008

Jeremy Conquers the World

Well, friends, the game has ended, the votes have been cast, and there is a clear winner. With 60% of the vote, our pal Jeremy Varner has emerged victorious from the Name the Blog Challenge with his Risk(TM)-themed entry "Two Extra Armies Each Turn!" Way to go, Jeremy! For winning the Challenge, Jeremy will receive an astounding prize package valued at over AU$UNSPECIFIED AMOUNT (taxable)! And as per the premise of the contest, the name of the blog has been changed, as you can see. Perhaps we'll even change the layout soon to reflect the New World Order. I also move that we change the calendar in deference to the Victorious Emperor. Let Year 1, Annus Varnerus commence! (Katie, you poor thing. There'll be no living with him after this...)

Congratulations are also due to the dark horse candidate, Jon Wexler, whose suggestion "From the Bottom Up" came in second. Jon will receive a year's supply of Australia's favorite dessert biscuit, Arnott's Original Chocolate Tim Tams (taxable in NJ)!

Thanks so much to everyone who voted. And please, if your favorite didn't win, don't start a "shadow blog". We just don't have the resources to crush that sort of insurgency right now.

More to come soon, folks, including my New Bike Dork-Out (photos galore)!

20 August 2008

I work at the Apple Store!

heehee. I'll post more pictures of my idyllic workplace soon.

And there's even more exciting news--Craig finally got himself a new bikey! It cost about as much as our first week's hotel bill, but it's well worth it. He's already started zipping about town...look how proud he is posing with his brand new set o' wheels.

I'm not entirely sure why our flatmate's guitar and a fake flower got featured as well, but try to fix your attention on the shiny blue fixed-gear in front of those pale white legs. It's beautiful, and Craig's very happy these days...

19 August 2008

Golden Gaytime, Fangor Bangor

Craig's been keen to visit the Sydney Observatory for awhile; he took an Astronomy class once and fell in love with the dorkitude of knowing the difference between stars and planets. Apparently planets (every once in a while) explode and contract and leave Roombas in the middle of space, while stars are overused design elements. This all sounded desperately boring to me. I don't know why, but I've never been very interested in constellations. Maybe it's just that the patterns and sketches of the zodiac have always proven too elusive for my near-sighted eyes, or that I'm not superstitious enough to overcome myopia. Maybe it's all just too far away...

I will admit the night sky does hold a certain romance. But my breath has never been taken away by a message of light sent by a star millions of years ago. It's a gift I can unwrap every night, I know, but it's a gift I'm not sure I miss when my beloved city lights are bright. On a side note, it's been rather uncomfortable looking up at the sky here and not seeing the North Star and the dippers. I've never been camping, and I have thankfully never had to find my way home using the stars, but seeing them every night was remarkably reassuring.

Anyway, on Saturday we found ourselves in the Central Business District with nothing better to do, so I agreed to get my nerd on. After dark, the Observatory charges for constellation tours and planetarium type stuff, but it's free during the day, so I thought, "Ok. Stars. You know, planets, a telescope or two. I can handle this."

I was not prepared, dear readers. The Observatory is cool. I mean, well, it is nerdy. It's so nerdy, it's cool, and suddenly you start thinking it might actually be a little sexy. It is the Tina Fey of Sydney sightseeing. Ok, the Maritime museum is also nerdy and cool. And I haven't even been to the Powerhouse museum yet. So maybe Sydney as a whole is the Tina Fey of Australian sightseeing.

Regardless. The Observatory is filled with old-timey telescopes and wacky instruments that keep time based on Venus' movement. We're definitely going back. The Observatory also showcases some amazing views of Sydney Harbour.

The same day, we had a picnic lunch at Hyde Park, and luckily (oh, so luckily) Craig found his new favorite treat.

Actually, this here is another example of why Australians are just not flipping like us. They are simply not. We got home and giggled as we showed our housemate this picture, and she said, "Oh...you guys don't have Golden Gaytime?"

We responded like the sarcastic wankers we are. "Oh, sure. We have Golden Gaytime. We have Golden Gaytime everyday." Giggle. Giggle giggle. Before you ask, no, Craig did not actually eat the Golden Gaytime, mostly because we do not have the discretionary income for luxuries like hilarious ice cream yet. Wait until I get my first paycheck.

Australia is obsessed with environmental friendliness. Or at the very least, Australia is obsessed with acting like it's obsessed with environmental friendliness. We haven't seen any cool municipal recycling dumpsters like Barcelona had, but the parks here do have separate bins for rubbish and recycling. The government used to offer incentive rebates to defray the cost of getting solar panels put on your house, but they've ditched that program. Rumors have it Rudd will bring the rebates back, but we'll see.

The Live Green festival, held on Sunday at Victoria Park, was a giant eco-friendly orgy sponsored by the energy companies and local governments; it threw Sydney's slightly schizophrenic attitude toward sustainability into deep relief. There were tons of companies there, not only selling their minimally-packaged, eco-friendly wares, but also handing out tons of paper brochures. Energy Australia (an electricity company) was there, handing out free tote bags to all attendees, filled with paper advertisements for all the vendors. There was a band playing awful jazz all day, and their equipment wasn't even partially solar-powered. When I say awful jazz, I mean jazz-flavoured covers of Oasis, Kylie Minogue, U2, and perennial favourites, Moron 5.

Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed the festival. We learned about some really cool things going on in Sydney, like Sydney City Farm). We had fun. There was a local farmer's market, free bike tune-ups, vendors selling sustainable clothing and local honey, and of course, fodder for my nightmares.

After the Live Green festival, we thought it would be appropriate to jaunt on over to the Designboom and Youngblood Designers Markets, part of Sydney Design. We saw some amazing and beautiful products, met some amazing designers, and couldn't afford any of it. Some of it was a little ridiculous, as design can often be. One of the designers was selling broken teacups made out of untreated beeswax. She said she was removing the ordinary function from the functional object. She was charging $110 for a broken teacup that will melt when tea is poured into it. We raised an eyebrow in that way we do, you know, the one that makes you question your sanity. Other designers gave us free candy and are thus exempt from our snarky criticism.

One of our most comforting reminders of home is our beloved Dinky Rabbit, made by David Stephens, your friendly neighborhood puppeteer and banjo player. David asked us to take some pictures of Dinky in Sydney, so we took him out for the day, and I must say, Dinky is quite the outgoing rabbit. He made friends with two arty women, right quick!

Don't show the coppers, though, we don't want Dinky getting clapped for the poetry/graffiti we keep finding all over our neighborhood. Fangor Bangor indeed.

18 August 2008


This weekend, we decided to get our cheap on, hitting two (count 'em!) two garage sales. It was the first time I've ever done any serious yardsaling without a car, and I hope to never lie to you, dear readers, so I will say this particular car-free adventure did present some challenges. Imagine, for your pleasure, your favorite Sydneysiders carrying a picnic table and bench on our backs for several blocks. Then imagine us going to a second sale and walking back home again, this time with an office chair, a bag full of lampshades, and two trees. Haha! Delightful. It took us about six hours to get out of our neighborhood. I think I hurt myself. Anyway, our back patio is finally starting to shape up, but Craig still insists I call these "during" pictures.

The glorious picnic table:

Alvin posing with our beautiful compost bin:

Our two new trees: they are baby versions of the trees I mentioned earlier on the blog and are called Frangipani!

Our patio might be getting swank, but don't worry. We still keep it real – ATL-style – with our treacherous back steps:

For a closer look at our place, check us out on the ever-controversial Google Streetview!

Right! And while you're doing the bizarre things that Google has brought into our lives, check out the sofa that is (mysteriously) on our roof on Google Earth. It's baffling. We don't know how it got there or why. Craig tried to scramble up the wall onto our roof and only managed to bust his knee, so this might be definitive and long-awaited proof of alien existence.

Just a quick Home and Garden update for you today, dear readers. But watch out for tomorrow– Dinky on the town and Craig has a Golden Gaytime!!

09 August 2008

6 years later, he's trying on dresses...

Wish us a happy anniversary, friends; Craig and I are celebrating six whole years together! It was a beautiful warm Saturday here, and we decided to walk about and see what we could see.

Bourke St. in Surry Hills is not only a hip, gorgeous street with tons of greenspace and cute boutiques, but also has one of Sydney's architectural marvels. I hadn't seen much on Bourke St yet, so we headed that way. After looking at some boutiques, we found the Object Gallery, one of Sydney's high modernist beauties.

The split-level Gallery is entirely inside the upper enclosed part of the building, which floats above a glass-covered florist. The colored glass panels to the right are a walkway leading into the main gallery.

Sydney is currently showcasing tons of amazing design work in various galleries and museums, all part of Sydney Design 08. Check out the website. The Object Gallery is exhibiting some cutting-edge fashion design, and when I say cutting-edge, I mean these fashion designers aren't even making clothes. They're making artistic reference to clothes. They already know how to make cool clothes, and they're beyond that low endeavor. No, it's no longer interesting for them to be bound by the limits of what someone could actually wear. They want to develop new clothing systems, from reclaimed material like Tyvek. They want to examine the intersection between fashion and sex, by attaching a collar to a large flat piece of phallic-shaped fabric. They are, possibly, making high art sculpture out of fabric. I say possibly because I don't really understand what they are doing. I don't think I know enough about fashion design, and maybe Karen can explain this to me one day.

Regardless, we had a blast, because a large part of the exhibition was designed to be interactive, i.e. we got to try on these crazy sculpture-clothes. We pulled out our best Blue Steels and rocked it, Zoolander-style. I think I might have even turned left.

This is Craig wearing a curtain-dress. Isn't he statuesque? At the very least, he's a really good sport, as many of you know. Now he just has to figure out how to shake his Bollywood badonkadonk with this giant frame on him. Someone make Ashumi and Marshall read this, please.

Now, I'm not as tall or, let's face it, fierce as Craig, but I also did my best to make Tyra proud.

This is some kind of new clothing system called "The Envelope." It can be a dress, or a skirt, or a poofy top, or a cloak. I think. Again, we're not entirely sure. They were a touch uncomfortable, but then Craig took them to the next level. This is how you can tell that he's got talent, folks. He always does the unexpected. He's not afraid to get in your face and do something that looks really weird. I think it's his best shot this season.

Yeah, he's definitely still in the running to possibly become Sydney's Next Top...weird white guy wearing a dress.

For the Project Runway fans out there, I know I've missed some golden joke opportunities; forgive me, I've never seen the show. Feel free to post some referential humour.

Don't forget: we want you to pick a new blog title for us! Cast a vote for your favourite option now, or they might be going home. Results show: 12 days away!

07 August 2008

Planet Craig, a Star that Exploded 4.5 Million Years Ago

As if this journey of ours hadn't facilitated enough Flight of the Conchords references (e.g. the title of this post), Nija asked me if by deciding to sit down and write a blog entry to write about "what's going on with me right now" I was hinting that I'm going to start my own breakaway blog called "The Original Atlanta to Sydney." Wrong there, Nija. It's going to be called "Piggly Wiggly Down Under."

Actually, no, there'll be no splinter blog. I just like what Nija's been doing with the blog and felt like I should put in a bit of work myself.

Things have been going well here lately. Our lives seem to be progressing toward some kind of structure as we get further settled into our home. Today is Nija's first day of work (as the coordinator of Sydney's biggest food co-op; what a badass), and she's been busy with web design jobs from people in Atlanta. She still intends to investigate the prospect for a Master's program here.

Meanwhile, I've been doing my best to look like a busy research student, to little avail. Fortunately there seem to be enough regularly-scheduled events, like meetings, trainings and conferences to fill up my agenda. I finally got a desk of my own and have started to decorate it with the requisite political propaganda and band posters, and I must say it's shaping up. I'm surprised at the psychological effect having a desk has imparted on me. It's like the final confirmation that I am here to stay, at least for a few years. It inspired me to finally get on the ball and try to inject some structure into my otherwise free-wheelin' life here at the Centre [sic]. I got some books and have given myself something of a "lesson plan" to brush up on and broaden my grasp of the fundamentals (quantum mechanics, semiconductor physics, optics, etc.)

In the meetings I just keep wondering how I managed to hornswaggle my way into the company of some of the most outstanding and accomplished minds in science, people who win medals from presidents, for God's sake. Frightening! It's intimidating right now, but that's mostly in my head, because everyone has really been warm and welcoming, but maybe they just think I'm the janitor.

Oh, and another report on the fine textures of Aussie life. Sydney's best TV station is Television Sydney (TVS), the public access channel. Like most public access channels and radio stations, it is manned by a small group of committed weirdos who are pretty certain that their programming choices are both top-notch entertainment and immensely important contributions to the social tapestry. TVS, for its part, seems to be dominated by a group of Sydney residents of Indo/Pakistani extraction who produce talk and news programs on the cheap aimed at informing and entertaining the South Asian demographic. Of course, these shows are just as you'd imagine them, with bad clothing, almost no set design to speak of, and generally terrible production value with an overarching delusion of grandeur on the part of the hosts.

TVS also presents quite a few non-locally-produced shows, some of them quite good, like "Concert Hall" (Nick Cave this week) and "Euromaxx" (a wrongheadedly-titled pan-European daily news magazine show from Berlin). There are also quite a few movies, cooking shows, art instruction shows and so forth.

However, the highlight of TVS' schedule, without a doubt, is "Ma Cherie with Essan Laurent". The description on the website says "Ma Cherie is an Art TV Show that is devoted to Art, Music, Beauty, Photography and much more." Essan is a thirty-something German transgendered person who hosts the show, usually in a flowing red wig, in front of a psychadelic green-screen backdrop. Imagine if 60s David Bowie had never been famous or talented but instead got a public access show in Berlin and you're on the right track.

The first episode we saw featured Essan performing a "makeover" on an obese white woman, whom he dressed in a swimsuit and subjected to a photo shoot on some god-forsaken rocky beach. Watching her writhe around uncomfortably on a pointy boulder as Essan shouted instructions at her and took photos was a truly astounding moment.

The second episode we saw was mostly Essan performing a monologue of sorts (actually just a stream-of-consciousness ramble), except for a short film/music video of a lithe, nude young man wriggling around sexually in front of a psychadelic/"iTunes visualizer" greenscreen backdrop as short phrases like "I am all alone" flashed on the screen. We definitely saw this guy's pubic hair many times. It was a benchmark of quality TV, to be sure.

The best part is that the credits of the show are exactly what you would hope for: "Written and produced by Essan Laurent, Music by Essan Laurent, Directed by Essan Laurent, Film Clips by Essan Laurent, Wardrobes and Makeup by Essan Laurent." If you're really interested, check out www.essanlaurent.com. Please.

06 August 2008

Aerosol Killed the Paint Brush Star

Yet another lovely warm winter's day here in the SYD, and have I got some stories for you!

Australians really love diminutives; they call breakfast "brekkie" and biscuits "bikkies." This is sort of understandable, because cookies are often rather cute, especially before they swiftly meet their doom in my stomach. Even breakfast, you can sort of understand that kids might find it easier to say brekkie, and thus it becomes an accepted term. They even call themselves "Aussies" more often than "Australians." Football becomes footy, and yes, we love Australian Rules Football. It is a graceful and agile game, and likening it to rugby is as clever as likening a car crash to kite-flying. Forewarning: those who try will be forced to eat an entire burnt bikkie that we suddenly have a surfeit of. Our housemate has recently taken to experimenting in the kitchen.

More to the point, Australian even have diminutives for things that kids wouldn't normally say, and that you just wouldn't consider cute. Consider for a moment a mason. Like, a stone and brick mason. Now, these are people who do hard physical labor, people who work outdoors and with their hands, these are rugged people. This is not a cute job. Regardless, Aussies have determined that calling these workers "brickies" is completely appropriate.

And you thought Japan was obsessed with cute...

But wait! There's more: what you and I–what we–as completely sane speakers of a form of English, call "cheddar cheese" is (in this wacky upside-down country) called Tasty cheese. Can you believe it? It's on restaurant menus and everything: tomato, avocado, and tasty cheese on focaccia. Why? Why?! Maybe it's the lack of a North Star, they just can't get themselves straight.

So, what's going on with us? Well, not a whole lot since the last post, except that we went to the Royal Botanical Gardens and I (separately from the gardens) got a library card--AWESOME! For the first time in my life, I'm in reasonable walking distance to a city library. The Waterloo branch has an incredible Russian collection of books, CDs, books on tape, and DVDs, and suddenly, I'm considering learning Russian.

The Royal Botanical Gardens is beautiful and, of course, free...I might be getting spoiled in this city, what with its free museums and parks and gardens. You might already know that I am an avid tree photographer, and there are trees here that are outstanding. They look like part-time models. As in, when they're on the street, depending on the street, they would definitely be in the top three most beautiful trees on the street. Depending on the street.

This one looks like folded fabric, a stage curtain. Some of these trees form cradles with their roots that hold rainwater.

I don't know what kind of tree this is, but they are so bare and clean, they form exquisite shadows.

Craig took this one; I think it's just a gorgeous picture. Again, Sydney abounds with natural beauty...it's overwhelming.

We're really looking forward to going to the Botanical Gardens in the spring when everything's in bloom. It's a great place because they invite you to walk on the grass, hug the trees, and picnic there. It overlooks the harbor and is some of the best real estate in Sydney. But rather than building condos, they've just made this beautiful oasis of simple quiet green in the most citified bustling part of town. It's really lovely. Can't wait to take you there--come visit us soon!

Oh, and take a look at our Picasa page sometime...Craig got some great photos of Sydney University's graffiti tunnel, which explains the title of this post.

02 August 2008

The taste on the back of your tongue...

Living here in Sydney has been really interesting so far; there are so many things that are exactly the same as living in the States, but a few things are really different. Different enough to make me miss home...

1. The drinking scene in Sydney is absolutely deplorable. All the bars are in hotels that are really brightly-lit, they all serve the same six crappy beers, all have big screen TVs showing sports all the time and all have slot machines. All the bars double as liquor stores, as well. The reason behind this is Sydney's licensing laws. Basically the license to sell alcohol is really expensive, and if you're not a restaurant, you have to get a general "vice" license, which allows you to sell bottles and to have gambling. Even if you are a restaurant, the license is still really pricey, so most restaurants don't even serve alcohol, opting instead to let you bring your own. It's also really difficult to get a license allowing you to have entertainment and serve alcohol, so the music venues here have a really tough go. These licensing issues have basically led to the entire city of Sydney having hundreds of identical bars, all of which are wildly unpalatable to Brick Store regulars.

There is, however, hope on the horizon; don't despair, my friends, and don't cancel your plans to come visit us either. The situation is not as dire as it may seem! Sydney has just pushed through new licensing, based on Melbourne's, that will allow "small bars" to open up and will allow venue bars to open, as well. These are little places that are more comfortable to spend an evening at than the hotel bars. We are looking forward to it, and already one of these small bars has opened in our neighborhood! It's more geared toward cocktails than beer, but it's still a step in a better direction. Hopefully, someone will open a small beer bar in time for Nijaween!

The fact that I have to wait for a bar where I can feel comfortable just makes me miss the Brick Store and Twain's.

2. Pizza here is really lame. I mean, everyone says that America doesn't have its own cuisine, that it's just a mishmash from other cultures, and for the most part, I agree. But today Craig and I were talking about how pizza might not be from America, but America perfected it. Pizza is America's cuisine. Everyone in America has had good pizza and every town in America has a good pizza joint. We even have regional pizzas.

Sydney does not have good pizza. Every place we've been has been sub-par, at best. There are times when I catch myself thinking, "well, this wasn't good, but we'll find the good stuff." And today I realized, there just might not be any good pizza here. Because it's not America, because it is not possible for every single thing to be the same here. Sydney does not have Ethiopian restaurants. Sydney's understanding of Mexico is seriously lacking. Because Sydney is so much like the States, but crucially different. It is on the other flippin' side of the world. Because my life will not be exactly as it was.

And then, the first salty taste of nostalgia on the back of my tongue. It's good that everything can't be the same, I thought. This way I'll have something to miss.

Kommisar Rex, on the case!

Well, I've once again gone far too long without posting, which means my brain has accumulated a million thoughts floating about, all labeled "for the blog." Hopefully, I'll get most of it in without boring you something dreadful, dear readers.

First off, things are going swimmingly here! Not only have I gotten some paying work from my beloved and greatly missed workplace back home, aka SolDesign, but I have also gotten another design gig. This news gave me and Craig a breath of hope; there will be money coming in. I have also been applying for jobs; I put out around twenty applications, and I got two interviews so far! One was at the Alfalfa house food coop and the other was at Bird Textiles, which is a boutique that sells sustainable and pretty fabrics. I already did the coop interview yesterday...it was intense. The interview took 1.5 hours, and it was conducted by a panel of four people. They asked insanely difficult questions. What do you think leadership is and how do you lead? What is the difference between a coordinator and a manager? What would you do if several people came to you and complained about another staff member? How do you understand the differences between paid staff and volunteers? What would you suggest to the Management Committee if there was net loss over the last four months? How do you understand consensus decision-making?? And so on...

It was rigorous. And I rocked it. I got the job. It's full-time, it pays well. I'm very excited.
And I have the other interview on Monday; I figure I'll go anyway. It's part-time, and it might be a good option to keep in my back pocket...

Now, to the bad news. Craig has officially rendered his third (and last) pair of jeans unfit for evening wear. Since we moved to Australia, he has busted the left knee of every pair of jeans he owns. This is ridiculous, friends. The other night, he resorted to wearing a bandanna tied around his knee just to keep it warm.

We're keeping our spirits up through this trying time by watching Australian television a lot. Let's get this straight right now. Australian TV is terrible and miraculous at the same time. We get to watch programs here that are only on cable back home, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm or Flight of the Conchords. We just enjoyed our very first episode of MythBusters! They actually built swashbuckling robots. We fell in love.

We also get to see a lot more international programming. SBS is the channel geared toward a more sophisticated viewer, which means it's not owned by Rupert Murdoch. SBS airs Polish news, Saudi news, and Czech news during the day. Well, they may air other nationalities' news as well, I just can't always tell for sure. Happily, SBS doesn't just show droll international news. They also show wacky international TV shows, too! SBS is nice because you can get the experience of being in another country (crazy Austrians!) without having to embarrass yourself in another language. Take Komissar Rex, the show about an Austrian German Shephard (Rex) that regularly investigates and solves cases. I know you're all thinking this is a Turner and Hooch rip-off. That's what I thought, too. But no. No, no. This show is not a comedy. This dog is actually an investigator. He is allowed to jump, slobber, sniff, and generally act dog-like all over a crime scene. This is problematic, no? The cops aren't at all concerned that the dog might disrupt some evidence? In the episode I caught, a restaurant owner was murdered, and the dog just jumped on top of the stove and overturned a pot full of soup! The woman being questioned by the human policemen asked if the dog was hungry, and I thought for sure, for sure, they would all laugh and it would be clear that this show is aware of how silly it is. But the policemen just said, "No. He's looking for something." Completely serious. It's so bizarre. I'm riveted.