Moving


You guys are so nice. You left me nice comments and sent me nice messages, and I appreciate it so much. I’m feeling better now, actually. Funny enough, the very next day I got my first temp assignment, and then today I got a call from a recruitment firm! Small victories, but the important thing is that things are finally moving forward. I have learned what true frustration tastes like, and I’d rather lick a tub full of baking soda. I’m starting to see a little sunshine behind the clouds, which makes patience so much more attainable.

Anyway, on Friday Stan insisted that I take the day off, so I did (after I applied for a couple jobs). What did I do on my day off? I did what a lot of homesick Americans would probably do: I went to Ikea! I didn’t buy anything besides a double chocolate sundae. (It tasted like slushy sweetened condensed milk… not the best sundae of my life.) Whoever invented chain stores was a genius, because the emotional, familiar aspect gets even the most skeptical consumer. When I go to Ikea, I might as well be in Draper, Utah (as long as I don’t listen to the conversations around me). I might as well be home! Pretty lame day off, I know. So then I went to the beach.

The nice thing about Adelaide is that if the temperature dips below 50° F, people start hunkering down with their scarves and tea. So I had the beach completely to myself.

But eventually even I got rained out, but I went home feeling refreshed and pretty happy. Does anyone else love rainy days when they’re sad? A sunny day when you’re sad is so mocking. A rainy day makes you feel like a good friend is empathizing.

The next day we decided on a whim (after I made us some delicious French toast) to drive down to Victor Harbor. It started as a major whaling site in the late 1800′s and, like many other poorly-planned human endeavors, the people quickly ran themselves out of product (whales), and therefore out of business, in about a hundred years. Blubber and lots of other whale parts were used for common items that are all petroleum based these days.

Anyway, it’s a really beautiful spot. It was rainy on and off, but that just gave us some pretty skies and moody light to play around with.

There’s a little island called Granite Island, aptly named for its geology. It was used a lot as a whale sighting spot. A horse-drawn rail tram still carries people out there. (It must not run in the late autumn, though.)

Some pretty scenery.

No island is complete without a pile-o-rocks with some birds on top. Put a bird on it!

Here is another cute bird. Stan tried to figure out what it was, but to no avail.

There are some cool eroded rocks. This rock looks like a seal:

Stan would like me to add that as a geologist, he is particularly talented at taking photos of rocks. I mean, look at this beauty!

Don’t you want to go there?? The water looks so inviting, but then again the next piece of land is Antarctica.

The island also has Little Penguins, and they offer penguin tours at dusk. Otherwise, you can stroll around on a self-guided walk of the island. It took us a little over an hour, I’d say. Then just as the rain picked up again, it was time for us to walk back across the causeway.

It was around 3:00 and we still hadn’t eaten lunch, so we went to see what Victor Harbor had to offer. As you may expect in a small, off-the-beaten-road town, most restaurants have stopped serving lunch, but don’t serve dinner for another couple of hours. We found a semi-deserted deli and ordered some wraps (think quesadilla)  and an enormous “small” order of “chips”. American-sized portions, my butt! Here I am waiting for the greasy goodness in all my greasy rainy goodness.

After lunch we decided we needed a little more grease, so we went and had our first Australian donuts. They weren’t bad, but they were no Banburry Cross. (Oh, what I wouldn’t do for a couple [dozen] Banburry Cross donuts right now.) Then we hung out in the park.

Although Stan is not a biologist, he is talented at taking photos of living things such as trees in addition to rocks.

Then we went to the South Australian Whale Center. The people at the desk were very super friendly, and were excited that we were from the USA. (Although the guy was a little sad that he still had to put “Adelaide” on his tourism survey form, since that’s really where we live.)

Here is Stan standing next to a Southern Right Whale skull.

Although encountering any being that size would likely cause me to soil myself, there is no real reason to be alarmed. Their throats aren’t even big enough to swallow an orange. They have baleen, which are basically big comb-shaped keratin shields that filter out their true culinary delights, which are plankton, krill, and other tiny organisms.

Here is Stan again being very frightened that the shark behind him might be able to fit its pointy head through the cage:

Fun fact: The guy who invented the shark cage, Rodney Fox, was attacked in a big way some years earlier. The shark gripped his whole left side and arm, and the only reason he lived is because he had the presence of mind to poke the shark in the eye. Can you believe that? The lady at the museum animatedly told us more details, like how he surfaced and found himself surrounded by bloody water, only to look down to see the shark surging up for another go. See above re: soiling myself. 400 or so stitches later, good as new (if you dare, Google Image “Rodney Fox”).

The lady also talked about how her husband had been bit by a shark, but it was “just a little nip”. You know, one of those love bites that pierces your diving suit and your flesh.

Lastly, I just loved this guy. He is a Port Jackson shark; endemic to Australian waters.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but I didn’t want to flash him. Aren’t his markings incredible? Stan pointed out that they look just like water ripple shadows. Evolution at its finest.

It was a great day. Just what I needed. Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

The sun keeps trying to poke out, which feels like a lame metaphor for my life right now. (Yes, I totally just retreated to an angsty corner of my teenage bedroom.)

Job-hunting is the soul-sucking worst. It’s hard. I have been living the past five years under the delusion that a great boss (who took a chance on me and was even so generous as to “pick the hayseed out of my hair”), and great co-workers,  in a job that provided a lot of variety and stimulation, was just a normal part of my life that would always be there. I thought I had a lot to offer, and I thought I was pretty okay at conveying that in a non-cocky way. Sure, I realized the importance of a having a “network”, but hey, I’d broken through cold-turkey before, and I could do it again! Oh, three-months-ago-me, how naive you were.

I haven’t even joked about wanting to sit at home and eat bon-bons lately, because it’s no longer funny to me. Right now, if you gave me the choice between a room full of bon-bons and every Oprah episode ever, and a job (any job) where I got to leave the house and be a productive member of society and have a life; believe it or not, I would choose the job!

Stan tells me I should chill out, maybe take a break, and maybe my days need more structure. (What is it with guys always trying to fix everything? JK, love ya hun.) I should try that out. Meanwhile, I started volunteering, I registered with a temp agency, I’m continuing to fill out applications, exercising, cooking a lot, and generally keeping myself busy. That’s all fine and dandy, it’s just that every other waking moment of my life involves waiting. Ugh. Isn’t waiting the worst?

I even went to a social event that I heard about (gasp!) online! It was outside my comfort zone, but actually really fun. A lot of people made me feel better about my employment struggles, because a lot of them have had similar problems. It’s hard, but at least I’m not the only one.

So for now, I’ll try to concentrate on the encouraging words from the librarian who noticed I was printing off resumes. (Seriously, thank you, lady.) I’ll try not to concentrate on the not-quite-rude-but-not-anything-close-to-nice-and-slightly-annoyed responses from some people when I follow up on an applications.

I’ll try to be happy for my friend Candice’s upcoming wedding, instead of selfishly feeling sorry for myself that I can’t go. Skype is a wonderful thing, but after you close the computer and it’s just you and everyone else is so far away and together and happy… well, unleash the floodgates.

The hard parts are harder than I anticipated.

I like to think that our marriage is free from binding traditional stereotypes that could hinder our progress. Case in point:

Yeah, I’m the truck driver in our relationship. I’m okay with that.

But you may notice that my smile in the above photo is more of a forced smirk. I was not having fun that day. I was having so much not fun, that later when politely asked how moving went, I couldn’t even lie. I think I just made a face and shook my head and commented on the weather.

It all started when I had to walk 6.2 kilometers across the city to get to the rental place. It’s supposed to be fall here right now, but it’s more of a swampy  sunshiney summer feeling. Walking almost four miles across town with my sunscreen melting off into my shirt collar wasn’t a good way to start things off. Then, when I got to the place, I couldn’t see the entrance. It was surrounded by a big iron fence, and finally I had to make an idiot of myself (AGAIN) and call the guy and say, “I’m standing outside and there’s no way in, mate!” It took two phone calls.

When I finally got in the “ute”, I felt like someone was pranking me. It is sooo weird to find yourself in a situation that is weirdly familiar, yet totally different from what you’re used to. Everything was there- the gear shifter, the blinker, the rear-view mirror… but I was like “Whoahhh… this is not correct.” People who say opposite driving is not that different must have superpowers. It was different.

I turned on the GPS and after a silent prayer I was off! I’d arranged to go and buy a bed and a washing machine that night, off of Gumtree. The GPS, which was still on pedestrian mode, was useless. After turning on the windshield wipers instead of the blinker about six times (trust me, you feel like a total idiot with your wipers on in an intersection, on a blistering hot sunny day) I pulled over and called Stan, sobbing. (By the way, the utilities people were supposed to come and we had to be home at all times between the hours of 7am and midnight. I know ridiculous. So that’s why he wasn’t with me.) He told me it was okay, that I didn’t need to go get all that stuff tonight, we’d just extend the rental, and to just come home. He’s such a gem. But being the cheapo that I am, and also being a flighty human whose emotions are capable of turning on a dime, told him that I just needed to bawl to him a little and then I would be fine. And it’s true- I was fine. So the bed and a washing machine/dryer combo purchases were a success. Go me.

Here is our bed.

And here is our washer/dryer combo.

It’s interesting. It doesn’t vent like a regular dryer and it takes like 3 hours to dry clothes. I’m sure we’ll be using the clothesline on our patio most of the time, but it’s nice to have this ol’ pig for when it’s raining.

The next day, we were scheduled to go look at a couch that we’d also found on Gumtree. I’d been told that it had “some marks but not too noticeable! :-)” but it looked pretty good from the pictures. You guys, it’s gross. The “marks! :-)” turned out to be where someone had apparently lain down every day for six months after a long hard indoor workout with no ventilation. But we’d driven so far, and we only had the ute for a little while, so we felt pressured to just get it. Ugh. I regret it, but not enough to rent another ute and try to get rid of it and get a new one. I bought a slipcover and it’s not a nice one like I had before (they’re not paying me to say that). So if anyone has any suggestions on how to make a dumpy slipcovered couch look a little nicer, I’m all ears.

The last big thing we needed was a fridge. Everyone I’d called the night before was flaking on me, so I started calling on any and all fridges on Gumtree. We found one, picked it up, and drove home. Then we drove the ute back and walked home. Then we collapsed or something- I can’t really remember.

Sigh… I’m just so glad the big stuff has all been moved. I feel like we’ve just been bleeding money, even though we got everything used and I feel like for pretty good deals. Here’s the tally:

$280: Solid wood bed including mattress (sorry if you’re sicked out by other people’s beds)

$350: LG washer/dryer combo

$100: Gross couch

$190: Fridge

Plus a bunch of stuff from Target and Ikea.

And there was another exciting development this weekend, which will make it a lot easier to get the rest of the things we need/want, like a dining table and chairs, coffee table, chairs, etc!

Here’s a sneak peak:

Representin’ with our UofU sticker! And Science, of course.

We made it! After a few travel delays that made our trip stretch to about 48 hours, we landed safely in Adelaide, South Australia and were greeted by Stan’s new boss. I’m sure I made an excellent impression, looking much worse for the wear even hours after this photo was taken:

I remember babbling on about something, and him telling us that if we wanted ketchup for our fries to ask for “tomahto sauce”, but that’s about it. That night, we tried to stay awake as long as possible, and we lasted until 5:30pm. I was nervous that we were going to wake up in the middle of the night and not know what to do with ourselves, but nope- we slept until about 7am the next day. I guess five fitful hours of sleep on the plane the night before wasn’t enough.

Since our arrival, we’ve been scrambling around to get our lives set up again. We set up our bank account, but naively left most of our money back home. We, uh, kind of need that for a deposit on an apartment and stuff. Good thing I have a nice brother-in-law who is going to wire us some of our money (and we’ll pay a nice $40 fee to have that done- awesome). I really didn’t think it would be that complicated to send money between accounts- I was wrong!

Next, we tried to set up cell phones but we have no credit here. So we’re going old school and buying prepaid minutes, which actually isn’t bad. It was nice to get a phone, because then I could call people about their posted apartments and they would know that I was a real person.

They do rent by the week here instead of by the month. It’s funny how easy it is to convince yourself that a $30-50 difference between apartments isn’t that much, but then you remember that monthly, that is actually a $120-200 difference. A lot of apartments posted online will have a time period where you can go “inspect” it, usually for only 15 minutes. So there’s you and a bunch of other people walking through and talking to the realtor (yes, pretty much all the ones we’ve looked at are being handled by agents, instead of just by the landlords themselves). Then you ask for an application and give everyone else the stink-eye hoping they will leave and not apply.

I really hope someone accepts our application. I’m nervous, because we don’t have a strong rental history (less than a week here in Australia, and owning a home back home with no one to put down as our landlord except ourselves). They also require lots of identification, and most of ours is obviously American. The temporary place we’re staying in now isn’t bad, but I’m excited to get our actual home set up.

Also, did you know that here, “unfurnished” means the apartment doesn’t come with a fridge? So add that to the list of things we need to buy, as well as a washing machine, bed, couch, ALL furniture… sigh. It might be a slow accumulation.

There are a few things about Australia that you may have heard, that are in fact true. Such as… the toilets flushing the other way, and people driving on the left. Proof:

I’m happy to report that as a pedestrian, my relationship with traffic has gone from a near-death experience due to forgetting which direction the cars come from, to maniacally spinning my head in every direction possible to check for cars when I’m even thinking about crossing the street, to intuitively knowing where I need to look before crossing. Although I sometimes revert back to the maniacal head-spinning, because one can never be too cautious.

Speaking of traffic, I saw the cutest thing yesterday. An out-of-service bus had a sign that said, “Sorry, out of service”. I don’t know why I love that. It’s just so polite, and you feel like the bus driver is sincerely feeling very sorry that he can’t pick anyone up.

I have managed to make an idiot of myself quite a few times, simply because I’m not really afraid to be a clueless American. Just today at the grocery store, I was looking for arugula and I kept seeing this leafy green that vaguely resembled arugula but was labeled “Rocket”. What the H is rocket?? So I asked the produce guy, “What is rocket? Is it like arugula?” and he replied, “No,” followed by an explanation of what rocket is that I couldn’t understand, either because his accent was particularly thick or because my brain is particularly thick. So I just walked away and put the rocket back.

Now that I’m sitting at a computer, why don’t I google it?

Googling… googling… googling…

Well darn that produce guy! Rocket IS arugula! Thanks a lot. Oh well, now I know.

One thing I love about this place already is the Central Market. Good, cheap, fresh, local produce. Check out this red bell pepper! It was only 50 cents! One half this size is like $1.59 back home.

BUT. I can’t find Cholula, and toothpaste is like six bucks. Life is about tradeoffs, I guess.

This post is taking me forever to write because I feel like it’s boring, even though I’m really having a good time. Since I started this post, we got approved for an apartment! It’s in a really cute neighborhood and it’s nice but a little generic, so I’m excited to tackle the challenges of decorating it and making it our own. One of the biggest challenges is going to be that since we’ll only be here for three years, we don’t really want to invest in super nice stuff. However, we’re also trying to move away from buying cheap crap. Somehow I’m determined to make the two go together.

I’ve been revisiting Apartment Therapy, and the fact that we’ll be actual apartment dwellers again gives me new eyes through which to see that site. Some of my fave shelter blogs are written by non-homeowners, and I’ll happily take suggestions for more!

Also this is a call-out to Crystal and Emily who live here in Oz and commented on a post a while back. Let’s be friends!  (Not to creep you out… we can just be internet friends if you want. :-)) Sometimes I’m bad at responding to the comments but I’m going to be better.

And lastly, here are some pictures.

I realize the following statement isn’t 100% geographically correct, but it’s more or less true: The next land mass across the ocean behind me is Antarctica. Craaaaazy.

Kristin, this last one’s for you:

Thanks for reading!

I’ve been horrible about updating you all on our move progress. That’s probably because I’ve been procrastinating and hadn’t done much until very recently. Bless his heart, Stan is much more… conscientious?… than I am, and has been starting to go through stuff and make home repairs for weeks now. I’m more the type to put it off, and then pull a couple all-nighters right before a deadline. Healthy, right?

Anyhoo, we’re still over the moon about this adventure. But along with procrastinating the tasks, I realized that I have been procrastinating the sadness. I’ve been having mini-breakdowns at very inappropriate times (while sitting at my desk at work, gassing up my car, etc.) thinking of all the stuff that we’re going to miss in the next three years. My brother brought his family down from Idaho to visit us one last time, and squeezing those little kids’ cheeks really set me off. When we return, so much will be different. Their cheeks seem to dramatically reduce in size with age, and I’m not okay with that happening without me being here to test the progress with a pinch every once in a while.

So far, I’ve mostly thought of our new life. I’ve thought about what it will be like to live near a beach, in a city that’s a little bigger and more urban than my current one, and to have to start from scratch to make friends. At the same time, I’ve also had a mental block and my subconscious has convinced me that it’s just a vacation and I’ll somehow magically not miss things like my friend Candice’s wedding and family trips. We’ve been making the rounds with family, including my mom coming to stay with us which was so much FUN and reminded me that I’m never too old to need my momma. Life is good. Too good. And I’m starting to realize the limitations of Skype.

Skype can’t transmit sticky fingers or endearingly awkward side-hugs. IPads don’t have cute pigtails.

You can’t use Skype to clean your grandpa’s house and go to lunch with him like you’ve been doing once a month for over a year.

No more calling or texting Jonny on a whim to say something like “Metamucil is sure an amazing product.” You know why? Because when I get that urge, he’ll be asleep, and besides that text messages probably cost an arm and a leg!

And as much as I want to force the girls to take me along via Skype/iPad to every girls’ night and bachelorette party, I admit that could get cumbersome.

 

It’s true that moving overseas is a lot less scary now than it probably was 20 years ago. But I think I’ve been falsely comforting myself with that fact. The truth is I’m going to miss this place and the people in it, no matter the technology. I’m going to miss out on stuff. I know I’m whining and this is an awesome opportunity and there’s no way we could say no and everything. I truly do, and I am very very excited. Just keepin’ it real.

Here is a photo of two sad things: patches in the wall where our artwork was, and the empty guest bed where my mom was staying, with her on a plane.

This time in two weeks, we’ll be in our new city probably recovering from jet lag, and I have a feeling I won’t know what hit me. Wish me luck?

Who?

Us.

What?

Moving to Australia. Didn’t I already say that?

When?

Stan’s tentative start date at his new job is March 5, but it all depends on when the visas come through. So, somewhere in that ballpark.

Where?

A little city called Adelaide. It’s on the southern coast, near beautiful vineyards and miles of undeveloped coast line (think California in the 1920s). It’s about the size of the Salt Lake City metro area, with a population of about 1.2 million. It’s the 5th largest city in Australia.

Why?

The biggest reason is that Stan got a job down there. Like, a real job doing what he’s been wanting to do. He just finished his master’s degree in geology, and this job will use his skills to study groundwater management. They want him bad, too. 🙂

Other reasons include:

  • Why not?
  • We’re young with no kids (and wouldn’t it be fun to come back in a few years with a brood of little Aussies? Right Stan?)
  • Skype- it’s easier than ever to keep in touch when you live halfway around the world
  • I’ve always wanted to make Vegemite a staple of my diet

Of course, there are plenty of reasons to stay, too.

  • We’ll miss our families and friends (seriously, don’t even get me started, holy crap).
  • We love our house (although my bro-in-law will take good care of it while we’re gone).
  • We love Salt Lake City and will miss being able to drive 20 minutes and be in the mountains, or a few hours and be in a slot canyon in southern Utah.
  • I’m picturing myself wandering the streets, moping and loner-like, begging anonymous people in coffee shops and the gym to be my friend.
  • We may have to live like college students again for a while, buying a bunch of furniture from Ikea and eating off the same two plates.
  • We can’t take the animals. Please, before you freak, rest assured that both Jesse and Blanche are going to good homes and this was not a decision we made lightly at all. If you’re my friend IRL, you can vouch for my tears and stress over this topic. But ultimately we know it’s the right decision. Look for a possible future blog post on this.
  • You know those facebook status updates where people are all, “I freaking LOVE my LIFE!!!!!!! Best everrrrrr!!!” That’s how we feel. And it’s hard to leave it behind.

How?

I have no idea! So far we’ve been starting out by making some inquiries about shipping costs, submitting everything for the visas (Stan’s covers me, so yes I can work), and browsing online a bit for places to rent. I’ve also been reading a ton about Australia, and I’m going to be the geekiest, most informed person on the history, climate, culture, flora, fauna, and geology by the time we get there. I hear it’s about a 24-hour journey that will most likely go SLC – LA – Sydney – Adelaide. Stan is looking forward to listening to me whine about how long the flight is. We’ve also been going through stuff, getting rid of a lot, packing some stuff up, finishing up projects around the house, etc. Now that the secret is out, I am able to share the process with you guys more on the blog.

Other questions include:

How long will you be there?

Stan’s job term is 3 years. So, 3 years and then we’ll see. Stan thinks it might be fun to stay longer, and I think it will have gotten old buying $2000 plane tickets to visit home by then. We’ll see.

What are you going to do down there?

Sit on the couch and eat bon-bons. I’m married now- isn’t this what I’m guaranteed? That, or be a trophy wife. My schedule is going to consist of getting mani/pedis, going to the gym, preparing and delicately eating 200-calorie meals, and making lip-injection appointments.

Of course that’s just me being hilarious. I’m not sure what I’ll do yet. I enjoy my current line of work which allows me to write, design some stuff, plan events, etc. But I also kind of wouldn’t mind building roads or working in a nursery (the plant kind) or something totally different. The world is kinda my oyster right now, which is both exciting and scary.

Do you have any other questions for us? Any suggestions from anyone who has moved further than just across town (something I haven’t done since starting college)?