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On the Left versus the Right

I don’t agree with them kinda labels because I think it’s very prohibitive and will prevent us advancing, so I would never condemn anyone as being not a nice person – But like that brilliant Russian writer, who spent most of his days in the ol’ Gulag as a consequence of this kinda belief system, said, he was called Solzhenitsyn, he said, “the line between good and evil runs not between culture, religion or creeds but through every human heart.” So I recognize in myself the capacity for selfishness, for lustfulness, for egotism, and because I recognise those qualities in myself I would prefer a culture that didn’t celebrate, exacerbate, stimulate the most negative aspects of our species; inculcate them, reward them financially, till we get to a kind of cultural hysteria where we destroy the planet.
– Russell Brand

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Maunderings

A few weeks ago, I was taking the ferry back to the city after a gorgeous day spent in Manly, and I was surprised to discover, upon thinking about how I would feel if I were to leave here, that I would miss this place; this city. Not just miss, in the way that one misses the beaches of an all-inclusive in the middle of winter, but in the way that one misses the familiarity of chatting with a friend while enjoying your petit déjeuner served by les garçons at the café on the corner by the bakery with the amazing brioche glacée while the market buzzes around you in the square… ahem.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Sydney…

There are times when I still do not feel as though I belong here; yet, as I looked at the twinkling lights from the hundreds of little houses on the harbour while we cruised along the ferry route, I did not feel like a stranger just passing through anymore (Of course it didn’t hurt that on the way there I had a few tourists follow me to the ticket queue because I “looked like I knew where I was going.” The people turned out to be Canadians, because the world is minuscule, and we had a great chat the whole way to Manly). The routine of second semester has begun, too, and the inspiration of a new school year, while lacking the usual smells of September’s crunchy foliage and sticky grape skins, is driving me forward.

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Earlier tonight, after another remarkable thunderstorm rolled in and then out of town, I went outside to my back step and sat for awhile, breathing in the amazing post-rain wet soil smell; the petrichor. Life is so much about scents, for me. The crisp air was so refreshing, the stars and crickets were out, and as I watched the silhouette of a small mouse run across the far dividing wall between the neighbouring property, I made up stories about the lives of the people living in the many-storied apartment building in the distance, where I could just see the varied lights, illuminating random squares on a massive grid in the sky. Then I remembered that there was a delightful cinnamon rooibos chai brewing inside for me, and I moved from one small joy to the next.

*****

This past summer in Aus has been a fairly introspective one. It was the first summer in over a decade where I haven’t had a job, so I spent a lot of time by myself, and I read a lot of books. I always read about these characters and I think, “That person is just so cool. They are so true to themselves. They are Authentic. I want to be just like them.”

Oh, the irony.

I’m trying to figure out what authenticity means to me, and how to make sure it infiltrates my everyday. Suspiciously, a number of articles have popped up on my online radar that claim to assist in just such a quest. They throw words around like “passion” and “beliefs”, “uncompromising” and “loving yourself”, as if figuring out what you believe in, what your passions are, and learning to love yourself and be uncompromising in any of those things is as easy as reading an article about it.  They’re good articles, sure, much better written than anything I’m attempting here, but I feel like authenticity is still elusive. I’ve been composing this post for quite some time, too, and I’m still not certain how much insight I have on the topic. Just when I think I’ve figured out who I am and what I stand for, something changes. For example, I recently turned 28, and one of my oldest and best friends from home just had a baby, and suddenly I feel like I’m not entirely sure I know myself as well as I thought I did.

Then there’s this picture I’ve seen go around on Pinterest a little, and it sort of irks me (I’ve censored it for, you know, propriety or whatever):

ImageI mean, is this really the answer? I’m not convinced.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

He also said that “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” If words truly are our most inexhaustible source of magic, why do reading quotes like this or how-to articles not seem to work?? Help me Dumbledore!

I think it’s deceptive and facile to do things for the sake of it making you happy, or to give up the things that don’t. I don’t think happiness equates with worthiness. Some of the most worthwhile things take a lot of really hard work, times where you regret your decision, times where you want to give up for being so remarkably tired and seemingly unhappy. You might get to the end, and you might feel at last happy, or you might not. You might never feel happy about it, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have done it, that you should have given up. There are a lot of reasons to do things, I just don’t think happy cuts it.

I do, however, fully and wholeheartedly support things like happy ‘hour’, and those little moments in life that make things just a little better. Moments that, however fleetingly, remind you of what it means to be alive and to feel the joy of communion with humanity and the earth.

I need these moments, sometimes desperately. The things that need to be accomplished in this world are so huge, so monumental, that I become paralysed at the vastness of the feat, at the insufficiency of myself to do anything about it and at the lack of knowing even where to begin. It’s like David versus Goliath, except I don’t even know how to use a slingshot, and the crowd around me can’t even see Goliath so they think I’m crazy. I see images like this:

Imageand I think about how late I slept in today (and yesterday, and the day before) and it takes everything in me not to despair at the mountain ahead of me and rush back to the bottom so I don’t have to stare at the incline anymore. I don’t think that’s the intended effect of that mug, for some reason….

*****

Why it always takes such a circumlocutory path for me to remember that I believe in a God that moves mountains, that is directing all creation to His glory, a God who is bigger than my fumbling and floundering, my doubts and fears, and who takes on our burdens and loves unconditionally, is beyond me. Immediately, the weight is lifted. Joy fills in the gaps of heavy doubt and weariness, like molten steel over a crevice-ridden surface, and I remember that it isn’t all up to me.

*****

I attended a lecture the other night, purely out of interest’s sake and a lack of other plans. It caught my attention because it said ‘environmental’ and ‘lawyer’ on the flyer, and when none of my friends could join me, I found myself sitting in a large lecture room on campus with less than 50 other strangers waiting for another stranger to get up and speak. I couldn’t possibly have known how monumental an evening that would be for me when I decided to attend, and I’m sure I don’t fully appreciate it even now. But it was one of those evenings that I am certain will stick with me forever. Perhaps a watershed moment, even. Time will tell. As I sipped my wine at dinner later beside the speaker, at a table with a small group of like-minded people who’d all been in the audience too, listening to the world-changing ideas go back and forth, the possibilities were palpable. Everything I’ve been working towards thus far was reinforced and I felt optimism surge through my veins (I’m sure it wasn’t just the wine, either).

I felt like I was doing the right thing after all, and you know, I felt happy, and true.

Hm. Isn’t that interesting.

Christmas and beyond in Ozland

I’m here in my apartment, it’s 10am. My coffee, with beans freshly roasted from Gnome café in Surry, is beside me in my beloved Pantone 624 mug. I believe the colour is called ‘Minty Pine’. That’s nice. The sun is shining. It’s going to be a healthy 32ºC today, but for now a cool breeze is meeting me where I sit on the couch by the open window, listening to the traffic and the birds – and the distant planes coming and going at the airport, relieved finally of their overnight curfew. The cicadas are in full orchestra, buzzing at first slowly, then getting faster until at last they let out a steady hum, like a crowd clapping for an encore at the Opera House. I feel really lucky to be here right now. Life in Sydney has become mostly normal as my six month anniversary of being here approaches, and though I have not settled in to a routine on this summer break yet, I have nevertheless ‘settled’, so these moments of self-aware gratitude are welcome.

This past Christmas was fantastic. I missed partying in Parry Village with the snowbird family and friends, but I was still surrounded by palm trees and loved ones, so I can’t complain. The Poole family graciously welcomed myself and my visiting nomad to celebrate Christmas with them. It was a wonderful day, a full house of lovely people and amazing food, flowing wine, pups, prezzies and enough cheer to make us all forget how drizzly and dreary it was outside. A rare day of grey that didn’t seem to bother any of us. Who could mind the rain on Christmas when stuffing our faces with spot prawns, duck, ham, smoked salmon and caviar? Or a dessert salmagundi of chocolate cheesecake, passionfruit pavlova, Faroese rice pudding, ginger biscuits and figgy pudding with rum sauce? There’d be plenty of time for the beach in the coming summer months.

We were also spoiled with packages in the mail, and I would be remiss if I didn’t thank mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, Nick and Robin (and Sean and Danielle!), Mary and Mike (and Laura!), Kahlin and aunt Janice for brightening my/our Christmas season with snail mail! ❤

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Thank you to Aaron’s family for sending us this amazing gourmet food package, which sustained us in the grocery department for quite awhile!

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A veritable smorgasbord at the Poole house for Christmas!

In fact, the next two and a half weeks were spent playing tour-guide and tourist with Aaron around Sydney and beyond. We more than made up for the lack of sun at Christmas with trips to Coogee and Palm Beach, Shark Bay, Jervis Bay and Canberra, and lots of walking around Kensington, Circular Quay, Surry Hills and Newtown in between. One afternoon we hit up the fish markets, and sat on the pier eating fresh oysters and fried fish, trying to ignore the jealous eyes of gulls and those prehistoric looking ibis‘. After that we got Starbucks and people-watched at Darling Harbour, but something felt wrong there. Starbucks doesn’t belong here in the land down under, in the land of boutique coffee shops and independent cafés, where even the worst coffee is still probably better than most that we find at home. So we rubbished the remains and meandered home for another evening spent with friends, this time Josh and Jono.

We were also able to return the hospitality we’ve been given by helping out some friends from back home for a few days. Janelle Thiessen and her boyfriend Brandon, while here on a short stopover from NZ to home, had the bad luck to have all their ID stolen while taking a swim in Bondi (watch out, peeps!), and were forced to stay in Sydney until their new passports could be processed. For whatever reason, I did not take even one photo with them (?!), but suffice it to say that it was really great to be able to spend a bit of time with them, while they made the best of an unplanned situation, and left us some fantastic cookies. Worth it! 🙂 This also means, friends, that my apartment is now prepped and ready for hosting guests. Hint hint!

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Sydney CBD view from The Gap, before Shark Bay Beach with friend Stu

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Careel Bay/Pittwater Harbour, before catching a fab dinner with Jade and Alex at Cranky Fins in Palm Beach

We grabbed brunch and dinner with many other friends throughout Aaron’s stay here, caught a flick at the outdoor Moonlight Cinema with Holly and Mitch, and spent a particularly memorable New Year’s Eve with my friend Carol, her boyfriend Tom and a small mélange of friends from all over. Carol’s apartment building has a killer rooftop view of the city and the Harbour Bridge, so we watched the fireworks from there and partied until I started falling asleep sitting up. Oh the joys of my late twenties…

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Sydney NYE fireworks from Carol’s rooftop!

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Aaron, Mitch and Holly reclining pre-show for Moonlight Cinema

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Not a bad way to spend an evening

We also caught a Bonobo concert at the opera house which was celestial. Then we rented a car and headed south – in this country that means it gets cooler, not warmer – just a few hours though, to Jervis Bay. On the way we took a detour into Kiama to grab a coffee with an old friend of mine from home. Austin took us around the charming town of Kiama for a bit, and then we made our way to JB to hang with some of the fine folks I met the last time I was down there. A wicked BBQ at Green Patch in Booderee National Park was had, where we were joined by some kangaroos, a wallaby, ducks and a cheeky kookaburra or two. The next day we drove a windy, gum-tree-lined, beautiful but sometimes eerily deserted three hours to Canberra, and were given the grand “Georgia’s Favourite Places Tour” of the small, land-locked capital city. Like any good law student, I made sure we went to the High Court, of course, and Aaron was even able to meet up with a long lost friend he met while travelling Europe a couple years ago.

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Bonobo at the Opera House

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‘Roos at Green Patch beach in Booderee National Park!

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Back at Murray’s Beach, still not very sunny, though! 😦

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Park paths

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Myself, Aaron and Georgia at the High Court of Australia, Canberra

By the time we arrived back in Sydney, it was only a couple days before a tearful goodbye at the airport, until the next time. Long distance is always hard, especially in those few days right after departure. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful group of friends here now, though, and I have not felt neglected. A day of chick flicks and cookie-eating is all the wallowing I allowed myself.

One thing I love is that Aaron and I both cannot resist book shops, and we found a fair few in our amblings. My to-read stack is high again, but I must be good while I still have an essay due from my summer course back in early December. I’m on the job hunt, as well, certain I will find something, not certain I will necessarily find my dream job… In the end, though, uni begins again in March and I am trying to ready my mind (and spirit) for round two of year one. This long break will be sure to leave me refreshed and caught up on sleep, and more acquainted with this wonderful place in which I currently live.

I have a few other blog posts cooking in me melon, which will have to wait. For now, the rest of the photos from my holidays are up on Flickr (linked at the top), and my sincere apologies to those to whom I owe emails, I have not forgotten you! And, Happy New Year to you all! May 2014 expand your mind and horizons, teach us all more about love, and maybe give us a little adventure, too.

One semester down, five to go…

I write this post from the future… from a week today, when I will be too busy enjoying some post-final-exam-drinks with friends to bother posting this. Also I’m going to knock on wood that I have not spoken too soon about finishing this semester, I do have two (difficult) exams yet to write. Ahhhh!

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I still have these moments when I am struck with how wild it is that I am here. Maybe they will never go away. I think back to making the decision to do this, it took a long time and a lot of vacillating. I had already moved (temporarily) to different countries twice, and in particular my 10 month stint in France really helped prepare me for all the work and cost required to move overseas (French bureaucracy, I shake my fist at thee!!). In a way, though, I still felt like I was just going through the motions. Apply to uni. Pay money. Apply for visa. Pay money. Sort out bank accounts. Renew passport. Pay money. Scan important documents. Make lists. Make doctors appointments. Fill out forms. Book flight. Pay money. Get insurance. Pay money. Visit lawyer. Pay more money. Hang out with friends. Cry a bunch. Tell people you’re leaving over and over. Quit job. Cancel phone. Pay money. Pay some more money on other stuff. Call credit card companies to tell them you’re leaving, even though it’s ridiculous that the NSA has probably tapped all my emails and phone calls and for goodness sake they should just do half this stuff for me as I don’t know what else they’re good for. I could almost write a book, but, then, I just gave away most of what I’d write so now there’s no point.

Anyway, in all of that I am not certain I stopped to really prepare my own mind for what was happening. For fleeting, brief moments, I got butterflies. Nerves and anxiety were here and there, in the background, never quite sure why but you knew it was something. I just didn’t have time or emotional energy to expend on that part.

Hence, one semester in, I’m still going, “Is this real?” Like, what is happening here? It has definitely felt real. I mean, I just spent the past two weeks in my first exam season. This shit is real. My first exam morning, 8:45am three hour Criminal Law exam in the Ballroom at the Royal Randwick Horse Racecourse. I completely miscalculated where the main gate was to the grounds, walked the longest possible way to get there, and ended up running, in the rain, with my backpack, umbrella in one hand and coffee in the other, and made it literally as the exam was just starting.* Pitiful. 27 years old and I still have to run to things. Adulthood evades me, I cannot figure this game out.

Now I am finished one semester. Thrivin’ and survivin’, as they say. I’m practically a graduate at this point! (*sob* …no, I am not, and boldfaced exaggeration will not make it so!) It just amazes me what you can do when you finally make a decision and stick to it. Doesn’t make it easy though, gosh no! I’ve already spent many a lonely Friday, and Saturday…and Sunday..Monday…Tuesday…. night in, reading cases and writing papers. interspersed with episodes of the West Wing, forming unhealthy relationships with fake people in the show because they were the only people I saw for days… You know, normal, Law School stuff. And that was just first semester!  Five more to go!

I’m getting really good at my maniacal laugh. Wanna hear it? Sorry you’ll have to wait ’til I get my course outlines for next semester.

It really is true that the more you learn, the less you realise you know. I am also surrounded by a mass of really incredibly intelligent and talented people every day, which is both humbling, and inspiring. To think, somebody looked at my application and determined that they were going to give me a chance at being amongst these other people. I hope I live up to it…

This next little while will see me taking a short breather, then diving in to an intense, 10 day summer course at the beginning of December to help make the load a little lighter next year, and then preparing for an incredible Christmas and summer break. Eventually I need to find a job. These law school tuitions, ha, they don’t pay themselves you know! Ha ha ha. Funny right dad? Ha ha ha.

Maybe I should quit law school and get in to comedy? Nah, this is more fun…**  (*crickets*)

Anyway, cheers! From the one-week-in-the-future me!

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*why does this scenario sound so familiar…..

**Actually, I caught myself saying to a colleague yesterday, whilst discussing our essays that were due earlier today, that I think it’s ‘fun’ to put little ‘asides’ in footnotes in my essays. NERD ALERT.

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Orange Sky

Annnnd, reconnect.

Today I needed to take a moment to calm my brain (which was threatening to unravel very rapidly), and put things in to perspective again. Tree pose, crow, wheel, breathe, pray… aided by the ever melodic and tranquil tones of Alexi Murdoch, and I was on my way again.

First exam in a week. (Lord, help me)

Wonder

I do not know why I go so long cooped up inside feeling trapped and anxious about all the things left to do when I can step outside to feel the breeze, smell the flowered perfume on the air, see the sun cascading through tree canopies and be instantly well again…

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If my bags weren’t always so heavy with books I wouldn’t take the bus so often to class, either. Not only is bus transit here unfailingly late, but walking releases so much stress (and doesn’t require carbon fuel). It’s one of the reasons I think I was born in the wrong climate zone, because I walk so much less frequently at home when it’s cold, despite knowing how much I enjoy it and how beneficial it is. Where I am in Australia, it never freezes. It also never ceases to amaze me the different flora I encounter even just on my 20 minute stroll to campus. Fuzzy spiky flowers, purple trees, jasmine blossoms that smell like orange blossoms and only come out after a decent rain, hibiscus, honeysuckle, ombréd bougainvilleas, other tropical plants I can’t name… this earth is so wondrous!

And yet, we are ravaging it every day as a species. Every purchase seems to be marred with the destructive processes by which the product came to be, and even when you try to be conscientious, someone will point out that in fact the parent company is a subsidiary of some evil monoculture-promoting, diversity-destroying corporation that is wiping out entire populations of endangered animals and slowly taking over control of our entire food-production system for its own profit.* Or they’ll point to a study that says the way you’ve chosen to eat and be good to your body actually kills children in the Amazon. Well that’s an exaggeration, but I mean, how do you know for sure? (and really, people, stop doing that). How do you make good decisions without having an anxiety attack every time you pick up an apple that says ‘organic’ but doesn’t have a seal of certification?**

voting with your dollhairs

If you’re like me, it can easily become overwhelming. It’s a daily struggle to remember that I cannot and will not change the world single-handedly. I can only change myself, keep my heart, mind, and motivations in the right place, let my actions flow from there, and remember that the rest is not in my control. We are called to be stewards of the earth, and I hope it is not too late for me to make some impact, however small, in prolonging our ability to inhabit this earth well. What legacy will we leave here? I know my beliefs have undergone a lot of questioning and a lot of changes over the years; I’m not always sure about everything I’ve been told by the Church, or school, and I can’t always be sure about everything we’re told by science either, but I can feel the ground beneath my feet and see the sky above and it is wondrous to me. If we stop questioning, if we stop caring, we are lost.

Aaron would say, just grow your own food already and stop buying things you don’t need. Simplify, dammit!*** Sounds deceptively easy…hmm… (and yet, I’m the Mennonite here, how does that make sense?)

Hang on let me just finish my law degree. Uggghhh.****

I need a walk.

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*Everybody now: Mmmmmonsanto! That was too easy.

**Because, well, without certification, are we just falling prey to marketing divisions that know most consumers won’t scratch below the surface of what a simple change in label-wording actually means? And anyway, who owns the rights to that certification and what boards of directors does the CEO also sit on, what think-tanks do they sponsor and which political parties do these give funding to??. That’s not even to get remotely in to the topic of resource extraction to support our insatiable appetite for non-renewable energy, or the fact that the ocean is dying and full of so much garbage that it can be seen from space! Argh!!

***He might also say, stop thinking about this in a problems-oriented frame and start thinking about it in a solutions-oriented one! Mmm, buzzwords…

****Actually I love law, don’t worry, parents.

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Revolución

Revolución

A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

  – Walter Benjamin

100th Post!

In honour of this, my 100th post on this blog, Sydney had a massive firework show!!
Happy 100th Blog Post, Robyn Thiessen!

Well, no, it was actually the 100th Anniversary of the… well, just read this excerpt from Australian Aviation online: “A international naval review and the next Pacific International Maritime Exposition will be held in Sydney in October 2013, to coincide with the centenary of the arrival of the first Royal Australian Navy fleet into Sydney in 1913.” There. Supposedly it was the biggest event in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics (not to mention that two One Direction concerts were in town the same day and the NRL the next day…Sports!). Prince Harry came, as per custom, to kick things off and represent the Queen, and over one million people were there to watch. I was very fortunate to be invited by a friend, Holly, and her boyfriend Mitch to join them in watching atop the Glenmore Hotel from its rooftop patio in the Rocks (the original landing point in Sydney Harbour of the colonists…/convicts). We were packed shoulder-to-shoulder with other people, but the view was well worth it. I’ve never seen anything like that. They had images and videos of the Navy’s achievements and actions through the 100 years displayed like magic on the side of the Sydney Opera House, there were light shows along with fireworks, tall ships in the harbours, and even fireworks dropped from flying aircraft overhead. I think I stood dropped-jaw the whole 30 minutes. I don’t even want to know how much money goes in to producing an event of that scale…. it would no doubt be a staggering amount. Frivolous, absolutely…. but still spectacular.

Here is a short video clip found on youtube of the fireworks in action, if you’re interested!

And a few poor-quality phone pics I took from the Glenmore Hotel…

Aussie flag displayed on the side of the Opera House
More Fleet Review fireworks
 

I’ve been thinking lately about all the people in my life who have helped get me to the point where I am right now, as well as who make the journey incredible along the way. I feel so fortunate to know the people I know. Even with an event like Saturday night’s, I would never have gone or seen the show from the vantage I did if it hadn’t been for Holly and Mitch, who I wouldn’t know if it hadn’t been for Caitlin (since Holly is one of Caitlin’s oldest friends), and I wouldn’t know Caitlin if I hadn’t gone to France and been put in the residence I was, (I wouldn’t even be in Sydney if it weren’t for her and Josh and Stu and Shaz…as well as encouragement from numerous people at home) and I wouldn’t have been to France if, well, the deconstruction could go on and on. It really makes me pause and consider my own actions and influences on my friends and acquaintances, whether I am a good friend or not and what I can do to be a better friend and person. Because I just… I just couldn’t do this on my own. Not figuratively – literally. When I get down – and I do get down sometimes – I remember this, I remember all the wonderful people, I think about the goals I’m working towards, and I am able to pick myself up and refocus.

Amazing what a little break from school can do for one’s outlook, isn’t it?

Speaking of, this two week mid-semester break has been just what the doctor ordered. I practically feel like a new person. I’ve been out! I’ve been to the beach numerous times, I’ve organised my class notes in prep for exam time, I’ve caught up on [some of] my reading and I’ve watched the first season and a half of the West Wing (where has that show been all my life?). I went to a little island in the Harbour called Cockatoo Island, where Holly and I drank a jug of cocktail and shared a pizza whilst sitting in the sunshine watching sailboats go by all afternoon… and last night I saw a show at the Opera House with my roommate and her boyfriend (Cinematic Orchestra with 40 musicians from the Sydney International Orchestra). It’s been a good break. Today is Labour day, and uni resumes tomorrow!

Today is also my amazing mother’s birthday!!! Happy birthday mom – you and dad are at the very top of my list of people without whom I couldn’t be doing what I am doing, and I am increasingly grateful for all you have done for me and the love you’ve shown. Your retirement is about to get amaaaazing (when I get a real job, that is).

Cockatoo Island!
This is Holly, she is wonderful!
My first visit to Coogee Beach – about a 10min bus ride from my place.

The weather has never been awful in this fine country, but it’s been even better since spring began. I found myself walking home from the bus stop late one Friday night a few weeks ago. My feet were killing me so I took my heels off and walked barefoot on the sidewalk. My usually busy street was very quiet, and the cement was still warm. I wrote earlier this year about spring in a cold climate; new life after a barren winter, and how one really must experience it at some point. Well, spring in a tropical climate is equally intoxicating, even if life never ceased for most of the flora. Warm soil, crab grass, palm leaves… jasmine blossoms, orange blossoms, faint salty air from the ocean only a short drive away… It’s ethereal, magical, yet I feel those smells viscerally. I smile involuntarily. No jacket and no shoes. Divine. Memories of my childhood March breaks spent in Florida flash by and I am overwhelmed again with how blessed I have been.

This little blossom is the potent origin of one of the delightful scents I experience on my walks.
Sydney city line at night, from the Manly Ferry
The Harbour Bridge, as seen from a ferry
Reunited at last! Caitlin and I at Middle Harbour.
Lots of days look a little bit like this….
…and lots of nights look sort of like this (dinner for one?).
Brunch with friends to see off Stu (far left) who moved to Melbourne 😦
 
A shot with me, further proof that I have friends.

It’s not always easy being this far away from home and from my close friends and family. And despite being in the same hemisphere, Aaron is still very far away with a time difference and an equally busy schedule which makes staying in touch difficult at times. But little bursts of happiness and kindness (and modern technology…) give me strength to brush off the bad and move on to the next good thing.

New motto. Heh.

Now, will someone remind me of this next time I’m despairing? (I estimate this to happen shortly before exam season in one month).

Peace, love, blessings and good vibes.

Picking daisies

Just so you aren’t under the impression that sunshine and daisies abound in my life, a little grounder: although it is nearly perpetually sunny here, the grass is still always greener on the other side.  Maybe it’s because I literally haven’t strayed from the direct path between my apartment and my university classes in two weeks, or because I haven’t done anything other than homework in my spare time and am still behind, or because I’m spending money I don’t actually have, or because I’m on the other side of the planet from my family (ie, my adorable niece and nephew who I miss so much) and friends and, although in the same hemisphere, still a long flight away from my boyfriend.  Maybe it’s because I knew it was going to be hard but that knowing doesn’t make it less-so.  Maybe it’s because all things worth doing require hard work.  I’m feeling the strain, I’m dreaming about mistakes, and that fear of making the wrong decision that plagued me before my arrival in Sydney has not completely subsided since. 

If I could write assignments as easily as I can whip off blog entries, I’d be a lawyer already, but it’s certainly not all bad.  I’ve got a great apartment, an awesome roommate, friends at university, food in my belly, coffee in hand and more new knowledge than I know what to do with.  It’s spring here, the days are getting longer, and the biggest decision I need to consider at the moment is whether to fly to Indonesia for Christmas or convince Aaron to fly here.  As I said to him, “Isn’t life grand?” And it really is.  It’s just that when you zoom in, those daisies still need to be picked, and that takes work.

I guess, in the end, asking “what if” really doesn’t get you anywhere; the unknown remains the unknown, and all those clichés that go with it. That house in Halifax I keep dreaming of owning and decorating is what I had to tell, “Wait”, in order to dive in to law school here in Australia, but “Wait” is not the same as “No”.

One month in

I know I’m due for an update. Or, at least, some friends have stressed to me that I am. Though, I’m sure you’ll believe me when I say I’ve been busy. Law school is, as I expected, not easy. There is a serious amount of reading to do and I’m almost never quite on top of it. Some people in the program think that those of us completing a full-time degree (four courses per semester, essentially) is impossible. Many people have dropped down to three already, some have dropped out entirely, some are only doing one course and with all their other obligations, work, family, etc., still find even one hard to do. I have the immense luxury (one which I do not take for granted) of not necessarily needing a job right away – although any work I do now helps me pay off my student loans faster in the end so I fully plan on getting a job after this semester – and so, so far, I am doing alright. Although, I cannot overstate just how much reading there is. Ha! It’s comical really. Oh and midterm assignments are coming up first week of September. And one of the assignments requires I spend at least three full days observing proceedings in court (an experience I found incredibly fascinating). Fortunately I have made some friends in my program, and now that I’m living on the south side of the Harbour Bridge, I have regained a number of commuting hours in my day so things certainly could be a lot worse.

One major item I have at least ticked off my list now is finding an apartment! It was a long and somewhat frustrating search, but what I lost in expediency I gained in quality. I moved in yesterday to a place just around the corner from the university. It’s really quite centrally located to a lot of places I wanted to be close to, and the girl I am now living with, Georgia, is so lovely. We are continually discovering new similarities with each other, and she might – might – be even more tidy and organised than I am (!!). Not only did she take me to Ikea yesterday and help me close out the store (and then build my bed), but we went for a fantastic brunch this morning, and then did some grocery shopping too. Roommate win! I’m currently drinking a really delicious cup of loose leaf tea in a double glass-walled bodum cup (she knows), sitting on the back fire exit door step of our 2nd level apartment while the sun slowly goes down behind some gum trees. Avoiding reading about the tort of negligence, I need not add.

Despite the workload, I am enjoying myself. Law is interesting and stimulating. Australia is busy and beautiful. Also, two words: palm trees. Also, every cafe begins at a level of quality that the best I know at home strive for, it would seem – plus, you don’t have to tip your servers because they already get paid well. Taxes are built in to prices. Sure, things are expensive, but at least you don’t then get to the checkout and have an additional small fortune tacked on. The transit system is complained about by locals, but I find it perfectly adequate, and half of it is by ferry. That’s like, boats, guys. When I was living up in Manly with the Pooles, I could take a boat home from school.

Speaking of the Pooles, gosh, I just cannot say enough how wonderful they are. My goodness. It was like being in a home away from home. Except this time I got a little sister! (Two, in fact, with their exchange student!). And a dog that was allowed indoors just like we always begged mom and dad for! But I don’t know just how to express to them how thankful I am. I still have a key to their house….  maybe I’ll just sneak back here and there. Put supper on in a crock pot, bake some muffins, clean up, sneak out. It’ll be like the Mrs. Doubtfire ghost! Heh heh heh…

Anyway, tea’s done, readings remain. I don’t have any more photos to add yet (just click on the instagram link at the top right of this page if you haven’t seen what I’ve posted there). Aaron has arrived safely in Indonesia, so we’re in the same hemisphere now and you can follow his adventures on his blog if you’d like! I’m pestering him to take photos as well, though he is notorious for not listening to that sort of pleading… ahem. In any case, I don’t know when the next update will be and you’ll have to forgive me if I’m absent for a while (until mid-terms are complete, perhaps?). As always, much love, and please keep me updated as well!

Cheers (mate)