Friday, September 30, 2011


So, I'm working for the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney at the moment as an acting program manager for a research grant on aging (don’t ask). I thought it might be a gig that would land me another contract, but looks like my visa duration is going to be an issue. It expires within less than a year, and they are looking for someone who can make a longer commitment. No bother, really, it's two and half days a week and looks like they will keep me on until they find someone they want to hire, which will be sometime within the next 3 or 4 weeks. The Director is American— he's been here since the 70s, so despite his accent he's kind of native. Well, he's been here long enough to know the culture inside and out. We joked about Americans and how we wear our emotions on our chests. You can strike up a conversation with any American and within the first 3 minutes you would not be shocked to learn from your conversationalist that his brother's wife used to be a hooker but got a job working at FOX NEWS and was recently fired for doing cocaine in the bathroom in between news sets, and now, she’s in rehab doing charity work for a local Baptist church in lieu of jail time. Australians are the opposite, you have to tease things out of them and it can take forever to learn anything good and juicy, but that’s another story. The current work gig is in a section of Sydney called Lidcombe, which takes me about 40 minutes to an hour one way, train then bus. It’s been many years since I’ve had a commute that far from where I live (and as commutes go, I know it could be worse). In the beginning, it was sort of an adventure. Now I’m like, if had to do this every day I would go insane. The good thing is that while most people are traveling into the city for their work, I’m going in the opposite direction. There’s a huge cemetery called Rockwood Necropolis that's close by. I can’t decide if it’s funny or creepy that the Faculty of Health Sciences is across the street from heaps of dead people.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Later that day...

I remember later that day David and I went to a bar in the Castro called The Cafe, which in retrospect is completely hysterical - I mean, it's like the last place on earth you would expect you would want to go after some traumatic event. We just wanted to be around other people, people we knew, and we knew would find them there. I remember we met these two flight attendants from United Airlines, both New Yorkers. They had arrived in SF the night before and had been scheduled to return the following afternoon. Luckily, the colleagues they had known weren't scheduled to fly that morning from the east coast, however they had been unable to reach some of their family members and friends who lived in Manhattan. I remember the phones not really working, because so many people were trying to make calls in and out of New York. I remember them saying how helpless they felt and that they both wanted to get back home as soon as possible. After some discussion with these two, David and I moved over and joined a crowd of friends. At some point, I don't remember how long afterwards, I noticed the flight attendant guys were in a heated discussion with another guy (who I only knew by sight - never knew his name but would see him out around the Castro all the time). He was blaming them for what happened; rather, he was blaming the flight attendants on those flights for allowing this to happen. I was dumbfounded. This guy was saying some really nasty things. I always thought he looked so sweet and innocent, but now he had morphed into something that was very disgusting to me. The guys from New York had had about all they could stand and it almost got physical. People jumped in and separated them and the two guys left - I never saw them again. However, I would run into the man who blamed them for years. I watched him age over that time. If I had to guess, I would say he was at least 10 years younger than me. I remember I saw him before we moved to Australia in 2008 and I recalled what had happened that day at The Cafe in September 2001 and I thought to myself, he really looks like shit.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Making Amends or 10 Things I Love About Living in Australia

So after yesterday's (failed) attempt at humor in writing about the things I hate about living in Australia, I thought I should make amends by writing about 10 things I do love about living here.

Drum roll, please...
  1. Aussie men have the best bums on the planet. Seriously, it's unnerving at times. 
  2. I love that Australians are apolitical (for the most part), which might seem ironic because I'm addicted to politics - but the truth of the matter is that I actually detest it. It's very nice to live in a place where every time I turn on the tele there's not some idiot politician trying to gain 15 mins of fame. 
  3. Speaking of tele, I love that when someone says 'fuck,' it isn't bleeped out. 
  4. I love that nudity is not an issue (see #1). 
  5. I love that religion doesn't dominate public life (or private life for that matter).
  6. I love that Australians are not neurotic (in the way Americans are). There are many reasons, but mainly it comes down to a standard of 4 weeks of personal holiday coupled with universal access to health care. 
  7. Late afternoon summer sun is absolutely phenomenal.
  8. The flora and fauna: it's like living in a zoo, but in a good way. 
  9. I love that it's an entire country of cheeky smart-asses. 
  10. Last, but not least...despite my disagreements with certain policies/methods of the current PM, it warms my special spot that she is an atheist and open about it. How long do you think it will be before the 'land of the free, home of the brave' elects an 'out of the closet' atheist for Pres?  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Asshole American or 10 Things I Hate About Australia

So, the other day on my way home from work, I tweeted:
I'm thinking I should devote the last year of 'notes down under' to all of the things I hate about Australia.  .
Of course, this would feed into all of the stereotypes about Americans: never happy, complain constantly, and completely full of shit. They don't call us seppos for nothing. So, in the spirit of being an asshole, here's my top ten:

  1. I hate that no one ever, and I mean ever, listens to anyone else. 
  2. I hate the way Aussie men treat women, but the women seem to enjoy it (mostly), so why should I give a fuck?
  3. I hate that you can't get a decent sandwich here. Seriously, they want to put butter on it instead of mayonnaise, and they go bonkers when you want more than one vegetable item. 
  4. I hate when people bump into you and say 'sorry' when they don't mean it. They are really just trying to move you out of the way. Apparently, the phrase 'excuse me' doesn't exist here. Whenever I say 'excuse me' people jump out of there skins and look at me like I'm the one who has done something rude.
  5. Don't get me started on women and their fucking hand bags.
  6. The drivers are completely and utterly insane. 
  7. I hate it when I meet people for the first time and they try to impress me with how much they know about American culture - trust me, there's more to it than what you've seen on Oprah and Dr Phil. 
  8. I hate when Australians point out how racists Americans are. True, slavery will be a stain on the US for eternity, but check your own goddamn back yard, at least we are trying to work through it. 
  9. I don't know why they bother having lids on toilets, the men never lift them. 
  10. The PM is an atheist, but doesn't support same sex marriage because she believes in adhering to bible stories. Yea, no one I know understands that one either.