Tag Archives: Australia

Lynx, cleans your…(yeah, I can’t say it)

One of the things my husband particularly enjoys about Australia is that he finds it a fairly liberal society. No one is talking at election time about gay marriage, abortion or things of that nature. Issues on the table are jobs, taxes, environment, ‘boat people‘ (illegal immigrants) and so on. Personal ethics are not publicly debated as profusely on the political platform here as they are in the USA.

He finds the culture here very free, unpretentious, a live-and-let-live kind of mentality that he enjoys. That said, they may be such a thing as being a little too liberal.

The latest example was presented to him recently on prime time TV during a major rugby match (free to air) by LYNX shower gel.

(Please if you are easily affected by sexual innuendo, do not watch this ad – I’m certainly not trying to offend anyone here, but if you think you can take it, this is an ad well worth seeing – if only for the discussion it will probably inspire within your household!)

Here’s the ad in its entirety:

So now you’ve watched the ad, what did you think? Would you be surprised if I told you that after a few weeks (yes, weeks) of airing, the ad was pulled due to complaints?

You probably wouldn’t be.

What would probably shock the hell out of you (as it did me) was the reason it was pulled.

First, let me tell you the advertising commission had a total of 150 complaints about this ad from a population of about 25 million people (another nod to our liberal society) and they were ‘taken very seriously’ by all accounts.

The advertisement was finally pulled on the grounds that it was ‘ageist’. That’s right, this ad’s biggest faux pas was that it discriminated against the elderly!

Other than this glaring act of discrimination, it was a perfectly acceptable ‘prime-time’ advertisement according to the advertising watchdog. (I’ve been laughing about this for weeks.) Here’s the best part – the statement they made about why the ad was being pulled:

The advertising watchdog has banned an ad for Unilever deodorant Lynx for demeaning older men – but was cleared of degrading both sexes, racism and bad language.

The part of the ad deemed unacceptable came at end, when an old man produced two deflated medicine balls and asks, ‘Can you help me with these saggy old balls? Nobody’s played with them for years.’

God bless Australia.

We may not be the smartest country, the largest country, the richest country, the most progressive country.

But if you ask me, we sure are the most entertaining country – the country that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever – and yet to us, we think we’re perfectly lucid and capable of making such mammoth judgement calls for the betterment of the self esteem of our aging population.

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Sneaking in the Back Door

A barnstar given to people as an apology

(Nothing says "I'm so sorry'" like an apologetic Barnstar)
Image by Wikipedia

You know that friend you have that seems to disappear off the face of the earth?

You wonder where in heck she’s gone, leave a few voicemail messages, wonder if she’s alive or dead and eventually give up on the whole thing. You refer to her as some kind of urban legend in your subsequent conversations with your group of friends for years to come.

Then one day you’re at an event and she comes sneaking in the back door, quietly trying to meld into the crowd and pretend she was never missing in the first place. She doesn’t want a scene and she thinks she may have gotten away with it as she cheerfully joins in on conversations.

As you watch her, you’re annoyed. Agitated. You called for goodness sake! You left messages! She couldn’t even put themselves out for a simple reply?

You and your group of friends lock eyes and give each other a simple nod.

You all know what’s going on. You head on over to the person with a determined look on your faces, you will get an explanation and it better be a *doozy. (Secret CIA mission would probably be acceptable…or astronaut duties, coma, lost at sea, or even becoming a monk would scrape them by. That about covers it though.)

She knows it and you know it. It’s going to be addressed.

As she watches you all head her way, her palms become sweaty and she starts to rehearse in her minds what she’ll say. It all comes down to this. How they handle it will make or break the friendships. (Talk about pressure!)

I’m that person.

I wasn’t sure what the blogging equivalent of ‘sneaking in the back door’ was, but I wanted to attempt it and have you all forget I was ever gone.

I spent at least 4 excruciating minutes thinking about it, trying to figure out how to make it work.

I had nothing.

Zilch.

At the 5 minute mark, my mind started to wander and I ended up thinking about that special I saw in my email inbox about J Crew shipping to Australia for free. That in turn became a marathon online shopping hour at J Crew, and that got me thinking about a winter wardrobe for my son.

I was completely off course.

Trying to be clever clearly wasn’t going to work, so I had to get focused. I visualized the equivalent of the group ‘heading on over’ (and might have peed my pants a little).

I imagined Eleanor and Carrie and Elyse and maybe even UC and  SSM storming over with that ‘you owe us an explanation missy‘ look on their faces… (it bears mentioning, you people are considerably frightening when I think of you banding together in some kind of ‘pack’ mentality.)

(Just saying.)

So I decided to pull up my big-girl panties and grab the bull by the horns and address it directly. Like a grown up. One that isn’t afraid or anxious. Or worried. Or considering wearing combat gear.

“I’m just a really bad person. I’m inconsiderate, irresponsible, selfish, lacking discipline and uncaring. I have no excuse that will give me a clean slate, I’m just plain terrible… so…. is there any chance I can play again? Be one of the gang? I’ve really missed you – I have – but life just has a habit of getting in the way sometimes. Work, study, the end of summer holidays and getting kiddo back into school, planning an 8th birthday party, hubby expanding his business and a house move. 

I actually have 3 posts that I started to write but was never able to finish, I’ll use them one day. (They were good!)”

Well? Where are we at? How was it?

Pass?

Fail?

How about a little sucking up as well?

“On a positive note, I’m nearly all caught up on reading your posts, I’m good on UC, Carrie and most of Elyses. I haven’t even started Eleanors (this weekends treat!) and SSM and Dor’s I will be reading later this week. We are actually going on vacation (thank God) this week, so I will have plenty of time for my favorite bloggers gems of wisdom.”

C’mon that had to help, at least a little?

I’m moving into ‘pretend-I-was-never-gone’ mode, let’s see how that works…

It’s Easter this week as you probably know, and in Australia we have 4 public holidays in a row. Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. The only places that are really open are restaurants and of course the shops will be open Saturday – Monday for shorter than usual hours. All other businesses are closed. It’s a favorite weekend of the year here – the only one with 4 consecutive holidays – so many people go away on vacation.

We’ll be heading to Sydney again.

Sydney is kind of like the New York of Australia. If you able to go there, why go anywhere else?

It has so many fabulous things to see and do, the weather is great this time of year,  and we can be there within a day. Other people go to the beach for vacations, we live at the beach, so to us the city is our ultimate vacation destination!

Many of you will be in church celebrating the meaning of Easter this week. I will be in a restaurant somewhere celebrating with a good-quality meal and some not-often-seen family. It will be the first time these particular family members have been together since before my son was born – 8 years ago! A nice way to celebrate such an important holiday.

My son offered up an excellent ‘modern day’ Easter story to me last night that I think I’ll share with you as I shuffle out the door with the crowd, laughing and joking as though I was always a part of the party and never really left…

My 8-year-old:

“Mummy, I learned about Lazarus and Jesus in school  today. They both died and they were wrapped up in material like mummies and their bodies were placed in a tomb, and a rock rolled in front so no one could get in there. But God rose them from the dead, and when they walked out of the tomb, people were really freaking out because they would have looked like some of those guys from **Plants vs Zombies.”



Plants vs. Zombies

Out of the mouths of babes…eh?

* Doozy is a slang word that I think is only used in Australia?? Doozy:  something extraordinary or bizarre, difficult or daunting.
** Plants vs Zombies is a computer or ipad game that has these ugly-looking zombies and mummies that you have to ‘kill’ to ‘save’ your garden from being destroyed by them. It’s a huge game amongst my 8-year-old and his friends (and my 38-year-old husband).
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Halfway Dead

Cover of "Happy Birthday to Me"
Cover of Happy Birthday to Me

I am 38-years-old today, that’s right 38-years-old! 38 years!!

Happy Birthday to me, right?

This reminds me of Bill Cosby on the ‘Himself’ tour, talking about being in first class on a flight, and little ‘Jeffrey‘ running up and down the aisles announcing “I’m Four Years Old! I’m Four Years Old! I’m Four Years Old!” throughout the duration of the flight, driving everyone crazy for hours. It ensured they got no sleep, and it was the worst 2 thousand bucks they have ever spent traveling between New York and LA.

I reminded my husband of this when I repeated my age 12 times before breakfast; “It could be worse, at least you aren’t on a plane with little Jeffrey.” He didn’t seem to feel there was a whole lot of difference.

By far my favorite line from the show was this one;

“I said to a guy, Tell me, what is it about cocaine that makes it so wonderful, and he said, because it intensifies your personality. I said, Yes, but what if you’re an asshole?”

I know a few of those cocaine snorting assholes, and so the statement rings even more true now than it did back in the 80’s, when I first saw the show. It never loses its humor to me, and that’s one of the many brilliant things about Bill.

Bill Cosby - Quinnipiac Law

Bill Cosby, comic God.

I’ve seen that “Himself” video (yes video, it was released in the dark ages, otherwise knows as the 80’s) dozens of times – and if you haven’t I highly recommend you rent it out – I guarantee your sides will hurt for days for having had the experience, and it’s much more enjoyable than a Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred workout (yes, I speak from experience on this one), with arguably the same result.

Moving on.

I’m 38-years-old today, and my husband tells me I don’t look a day over 37 and 11 months, (he really knows how to flatter a girl). 38 is kind of a big deal, because in just over 2 years, by the law of averages, I’d potentially be halfway dead.

In fact, though I like to pretend our move to Australia was for more noble causes, the actual reason I hopped up and moved, was I saw the latest life expectancy statistics in the US.

The average life expectancy for a woman in America is 81.3 years, but here’s the kicker, the average life expectancy for a woman in Australia is 84 years, the third highest in the world following Japan (not sure that it’s accounting for the recent disasters) and Hong Kong.

Do you see what I just did there? I added almost three years to my life, just by packing up and moving to the other side of the world!

Genius? I think so!

Right now, I am a full 4 years from halfway dead! So awesome! (Of course this precludes terrible accidents like being hit by a bus, or my stalker hiring a hit man to take me out.)

It’s weird isn’t it, when you begin to see your life in terms of how long you have left.

Granted, there probably aren’t a lot of 38-year-olds that think this way, but they should. I suspect people would be a whole lot more productive in life if they made decisions based on how it’s going to affect them in the afterlife – or in the few months or years before they get to the afterlife.

I for one, am determined to be a lot nicer to my son.

After all, it’s he that will make or break me, when it comes to crunch-time. When I’m begging him to let me live with him, and not send me to that dreadful home – promising not to soil my adult diaper ever again – I’m going to remind him of all the times I let him have a day off school just because, and the times I paid out his pocket money even though his table-clearing and dishwasher-packing skills, left a lot to be desired.

And I have a backup plan – you simply cannot be too prepared when it comes to your inevitable demise – I’m going to be rich.

In the unfortunate event that I do a terrible job raising my son, and he wants to dump me in a home quicker than I could say “geriatric neglect,” I will use the undervalued power of manipulation. I will wave the all-desirable will in front of his face with threats to leave it all to the pygmies in Africa.

I don’t actually know who, or what, the African pygmies are, but my grandmother has spent her lifetime sending them all her money, and they still don’t seem to have enough, so they seem as worthwhile of a cause as any.

As for the riches, I don’t actually have a concrete plan for how I will be building the massive wealth, but you know, you can’t get too caught up on the details – do you think Steve Jobs made his money overnight? – Of course not! So I’m not sweating the small stuff in my master plan, all in good time.

Well, I’m off to enjoy my 3rd January on a beautiful summers day here in Australia, Happy New Year to all my friends all over the world who followed in the footsteps of Australia and finally made it into 2012.

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The Real Blog Post (Not The 7-year-old Clicked Publish Before I Was Done, Post)

English: Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Q...

Image via Wikipedia

***Apologies to those that received an unfinished version of this post earlier today. My son was playing around on my computer and I had my account open and somehow he hit the “publish” button. (Note to self: lock the office door when I am not around, to avoid nervous breakdown and desire to strangle child)***

I can’t believe we are this close to the end of year! We have now officially been living in Australia for just over 1 year and my husband and son are starting to jive with the culture and seem a little less out-of-place.

A few weeks back we took a trip to Sydney.

Our first stop was my Holistic dentist where I had my last two mercury fillings removed. Not the most fun thing to do, nor was it as bad as I had anticipated. An excellent practice, incredible staff and safely getting rid of those toxins once and for all, made for an all-out pretty pleasant day and they we’re done in under an hour – impressive!

Next stop was our hotel in Double Bay.

One of the most affluent suburbs (often referred to as Double ‘Pay’), it is also an incredibly beautiful place with designer shopping, quaint cafes and bars, located (as is indicated by its name) in a bay on Sydney Harbour.

It’s only a short train or ferry ride into the city (great for kids)  – for those of us not wanting to pay Sydney’s $50+/day parking fees. (That would be me.)

Double Bay, (Sydney) Australia. I took this photo as we were heading out of the bay towards Sydney Harbour on the ferry.

Even as a former Sydney-sider, I delight in taking friends and family members on a ferry ride on the Harbour. There is something completely magical about it. I have lived in a number of places over my lifetime and so many of them have that “special something”. Sydney’s “special something” is its Harbour.

As we boarded our ferry along with the business people on their way to work, I wondered how great it would be to sit outdoors in the sunshine with the sea-air blowing in your hair as you traveled your mode of ‘public transport’ to work – not too shabby!

The Harbour Bridge in the Distance, Taken From The Ferry

We then took in some of the sites of Sydney and had a blast, I highly recommend spending time in your “home” city as a tourist. Stay at a hotel, see all the sites and you may be surprised at how cool it is and what’s on offer!

Charlie Chaplin Reincarnated?

The Big Smoke

We started by wandering down “The Rocks” area, it’s on the edge of the Harbour, full of historic buildings, Australian artifacts, tourist shops, artwork etc. I love the rocks, its quaint and historical.

"The Rocks"

Next we watched an aboriginal play a didgeridoo on the foreshores of the Quay. (HA!) This guy is about as “authentically aboriginal” as I am.

I’m not saying he doesn’t have aboriginal heritage, but I promise you, he goes home to his big screen TV, and judging from his pecs, he eats plenty of McDonalds and drives his 4wd to ‘work’ everyday.

But, the tourists love it. (As did my son and husband. I just snorted in disgust and took photos for my blog. Note the gold rimmed glasses. My husband named him “Kanye Dundee” )

"Kanye Dundee"

We took a walk to Darling Harbour (about 25 minutes walk from Circular Quay – where the Sydney Harbour Bridge is located), and discovered a cool playground with a mammoth climbing structure (amongst other things), that my husband declared. would never exist in any playground in America.

His reasoning? “It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen”. We wouldn’t sue here, we’d just brush little Billy off after his fall and tell him he’s “fine”, and to “stop complaining, you’re scaring the other kids.”

Regardless, it proved hugely popular with the kids, including ours who in this photo is perched on the top left.

"Lawsuit Waiting to Happen."

Next to the playground was a water park that had an awesome array of lessons. How water works, ways to pump, divert, spray and more. It was the perfect place on a warm summers afternoon and we spent hours there.

Cool toes on a hot day can only be a good thing!

The afternoon had worn on and we left the water park behind.

Father and Son Are Insperable!

On our way out of Darling Harbour we saw Santa trying to escape the city unnoticed.

Someone needs to tell him when you are this big and jolly, incognito is not really possible.

We decided to walk back down to the Circular Quay (where the Harbour bridge and ferries are located) to eat. On our way we passed a floating Sunglasses Hut store, my husband thought it was ingenious.

The ultimate transferable store

And motorbike parking that was markedly cheaper parking (reason to own a motorbike when living in the city).

We grabbed a quick dinner at Mad Mex, a place my husband had been dying to visit since we moved to Australia. It had rave reviews as fast food Mexican, and as we haven’t found any decent Mexican in Australia ( I don’t think Mexican restaurants even existed here when I left to move overseas in 2000), he was desperate.

It was as good as he hoped it would be and their frozen margaritas were as authentic as any we’ve ever had. The most spectacular thing was the Corona beer bottle chandelier, something we had never seen before, but a totally cool idea!

We decided to put an end to the day and caught the train back to the hotel, much to our 7-year-olds delight.

"Train Expectation" - Town Hall, Sydney, Australia (Iphone Photo)

All in all, we had a fun day, and after a good nights sleep, we took on the city again the next day!

________________________________________________________________________

While I was on my SIBL (Self-imposed Blog Leave), my all-time favorite red-haired blogger (C’mon Carrie, don’t be thinking you’re the only red haired blogger, their must be plenty!)  had a surprise waiting for me when I returned.  A blog award!

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty un-talented. I’m not good at much of anything, which has resulted in a gaping empty space in my awards cabinet (What? It’s weird to buy and awards cabinet in the hope that it will karmic-ly cause awards to be bestowed upon you?? Apparently NOT, because it worked!)

No more!

Carrie from A Sassy Redhead has broken my 37 11/12th years drought, and given me an Liebster Blog award that I will be forever grateful for.

(That one in Kindergarten for “best talker” doesn’t count because we all know what was the five -year-old equivalent of a backhanded compliment from the teacher).

(In all seriousness, Thank you Carrie, you rock! )

(And not just because of this.)

(Really)

My job is to now send you on your way, to explore the wonders of five other awesome bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve your support. So this I shall do, as I bid you adieu.

1. The Unknown Cystic – He and I get each other. (Which kind of sucks for him, because I’m pretty odd.)

2. Fifty Four and A Half – She is the most interesting writer, and she uses her age in the title. Being another person that cares not a whit about telling people my age, I think this rocks  – and that’s all before you start reading her awesome blog!

3. Spit and Spirits – He doesn’t post as much of late, he’s getting married and preparing to be under the thumb (kidding!!) but his posts are awesome, and he assures me he will be back, so you gotta love you some Jake J Fox.

4. Good Food 4 All – I just found this blog in the past few days. It’s awesome, all about toxins in our day to day life, organic living etc. For all those that don’t know I’m a closet hippy (if you want to see more of my activist-hippy side you can check out  Natures Conspiracy or This Dish Is Veg). Before you do check out GF4A.

5. Meg’s Simple Life – Meg has a family friendly blog about life, love and family. It’s wholesome, interesting, and she seems sweet as pie.

(Note to Mark at Yelling Near You. Wanted to add you, but I couldn’t because Carrie stole you first.)

She has it coming now…

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I Was Flamingoed (and more of my week)

Kana from Kana’s Notes flamingoed me last week. What does being flamingoed mean? Well, I suggest you read her highly entertaining post for yourself.

In short, I happened upon her blog and read it religiously and comment when its worthwhile – and of course because she’s such an awesome blogger, its always worthwhile. So I got flamingoed (its all very logical).

Here is my flamingo.

In turn she asks that I flamingo my supportive blogger friends and so I have elected my chosen few.

[As an aside I think Australia is the only continent that doesn’t actually have native flamingos, so what are the chances that you would be flamingoed by an Australian girl with no native flamingos? I know. If this isn’t a sign from the heavens to purchase a lottery ticket, I really don’t know what is.]

Without any further ado…

Carrie, at A Sassy Redhead – Shes  hilarious and she comments on all my posts – she might well be the perfect woman (and she’s currently single boys, so line up)!

UnknownCystic – He’s deep thinking, reflective and funny, and he manages it all while living next a gun-toting neighbour. He deserves an award for that alone!

Tinkerbelle at Laughter Is Catching – She reminds me of me, when I was in my 20’s, I just love her and her outlook on life. Plus she featured me in a Halloween blog post, so she has excellent taste.

Eleanor from How The Hell Did I End Up Here? – The kind of woman I hope to be when I’m a little older. Fun, energetic, full of fascinating stories and gorgeous!

I know I have so many more friends that I have met recently, and please don’t think I don’t appreciate you all!

Thank you to Kana for the awesome idea, and I do hope that now your flamingo has gone global, your fame doesn’t change you. 🙂

Onto other news…

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I jalk. A jalk is a term I have coined that describes the hour + that I spend jalking (jogging + walking) around the beach, almost every day. (And by almost every day, I mean twice a week on a good week.)

It basically means I jog for a while – until my eyes are seeing double, my lungs feel like someone cut through them with a blunt spoon, the sweat has stuck my hair to my neck and my shirt to my back, and my feet no longer face in the direction in which I am headed – then I start to walk. (This typically happens after a credible 40 to 50 seconds of jogging.)

At this point, I walk for a while, and when I have determined that I am not in fact, going to die, I start to jog again and the cycle continues.

Jalking. And yes, it really is as awesome as it sounds.

Anyway, it really is beautiful where we live and often I will see whales or dolphins out playing in the ocean, and so I thought it would be cool to take along my iphone and take pictures of the path I take on my jalk, to give you an idea of what I see and experience. These were taken last Wednesday.

The beginning

 

This is where the gasping starts

The end of jogging as my feet start to wobble in the wrong direction. Here's where death is nigh and I move to walking to ensure I stay upright and lucid.

Walking upright and relatively coherent

Love this rockpool

Perfect dolphin and whale-watching vantage point

I actually saw someone crawling up these once, they're so intense. Sure, it was a toddler, but still.

Almost there

This is where I have the team of paramedics waiting. I'm kidding. At this point I turn around and have to go all the way back to my car, and I often consider flagging down a teenager on a skateboard for a ride I'm that desperate at this point for it all to be over.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into life in coastal Australia, and for one last treat, I will leave you with a photo I took last year from the vantage point of a whale playing out in the ocean – I had my zoom camera with me, sadly I cant get anything decent with the iphone.

Love.

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You Say Tomato

You see allies, I see language barriers

My husband is American and I am Australian. Though one may be deceived into thinking this union is uncomplicated by social and language barriers, one would be very, very, wrong.

Despite both countries being English-speaking, we use many different phrases that mean very different things, and it has created more than a few unnecessary arguments between us.

Until last year, I was always the one considered weird and strange. I lived in the USA, and thus had to acclimate to the American way of things. I had to change the way I spoke and the phrases and slang I used, ensuring my American counterparts could understand me and that I would retain my sanity.

More recently, we moved our family to my home of Australia and it has provided me with many hours of entertainment watching my husband struggle with the language barrier, as I did in my first years in America.

Early on in his business he noted clients made reference to a guy, ‘Colorado Bob,’ and wondered who this other American was that frequented the same circles, seemed to always be around but was never actually spotted, and surprisingly, came from the very same state he did.

One fine day the realization hit that they were in fact, talking about him! Australians in their typical fashion, had decided to give him a nickname. The culture here is that you’ll get a nickname soon enough, whether you like or want a nickname is of no real consequence. You are given it – and this will be your new name forever and a day – so there’s no use arguing the point.

Given he moved from Colorado his nickname was prefaced by the state, and because no one could ever remember his actual name, ‘Bob’ became his new first name, and thus ‘Colorado Bob’ was born. He’s now gotten so used to it when doing business he will often say, “tell ‘em Colorado Bob came by!”

Now talk to me about integration and tell me it cant be done.

Other common nicknames you will find here are Shazza for Sharon, anyone with red hair may be nicknamed “Blue”(because that makes so much sense), or if they aren’t liked they often use the term “Ranga.” Incidentally, if someone calls you a bastard, it’s almost certainly a term of endearment – except when it’s not, and it’s assumed at the time you should know the difference – we’re fair and reasonable like that.

Far from us to be exclusionary, nicknames are not just reserved for people.

Afternoon is arvo, McDonald’s is Maccas, Acca Dacca is AC/DC (the band), anklebiter refers to a child, servo is service (gas)  station, and though not a nickname, I have to mention one of my favorites – the ever-whimsical ‘fairy floss’ – replacing the very ordinary and obvious ‘cotton candy’.

Cotton candy

Cotton candy may make logical sense, but fairy floss is so much more creative and everyone knows that Australians don’t make sense. (Image via Wikipedia)

We call the kitchen counter a bench here. I cannot tell you the countless times I have told hubby, “The keys/purse/water bottle etc. are on the bench.” Inevitably, I will find him outside in the garden searching on and around the bench for the offending missing item, when it is to be found lying quietly, and very obviously on our ‘counter’.

Last night we had a babysitter arrive. Hubby was talking with her as I was getting ready, and asked her what she’d been doing.

“I’ve been flat chat,” she said.

“Oh, I haven’t heard of that place…Flat Chat… is that where you work?” he responded.

She graciously suppressed her laughter, as she explained to him that the term means ‘busy.’ (Why say a simple word like ‘busy’ when you can jazz it up a little and call it ‘flat chat?’)

He has come home on more than one occasion looking confused and perplexed while trying to recount for me a conversation he had that day, so that I might possibly be able to ‘translate’ for him and he would know what the hell actually went on – while he was smiling and nodding like a bobble-head-doll – his go-to response to nearly everything that confuses him.

Possibly my favorite incident was him telling me he had been sent to see a man ‘Bernard’ about some work. Anyone that knows Australian’s, know we often talk fast and run our words together. This resulted in my husband hearing the man in question’s name as ‘Bertie’.

To be fair, though we would pronounce ‘Bernard’ as ‘Ber-ned‘, in the USA it would be pronounced ‘Ber-Naarrd’. So he could not have possibly correlated the two in such a fast exchange. He apparently asked the referring guy the man’s name twice, he was so unsure of what was said. He didn’t want to ask a third time and risk looking like a moron, so he didn’t.

‘Bertie’ it would be.

He walked to the appropriate department and asked for ‘Bertie’,’ as he explained to me later, “I mumbled the name, hoping they would understand what I meant, because I really wasn’t sure Bertie was correct either.”

Having them realize his confusion and be gracious about it was not going to happen in this lifetime. These are Australian men, ‘paying out’ on someone (laughing at them) is somewhat of a national pastime, and the new American guy would not be exempt from their mockery.

Bertie,” the guy said in a ‘Ernie and Bert’ style voice. “You’re looking for Bertie? Hey guys, Ernie here is looking for Bertie!” Laughter ensued all round when it was made clear who he was searching for, and how it all went so wrong. It was of course all in good fun, and to this day whenever he walks into this particular place of business someone always says in their best ‘Sesame Street’ voice, “Hi Bert!”

I can only imagine his pleasure.

My personal enjoyment has come from the term ‘serviette’ instead of ‘napkin’, which refers instead, to a lady’s sanitary item. This has understandably resulted in my husband getting more than a few odd looks, when he asks for one in a restaurant. (Though I will concede the times, they-are-a-changing, and more people are using this term in the cities.) His issues have come about primarily in our country town more often than the cities, where they are a little more forward and with-the-times.

I didn’t tell him for the first few weeks, it was just too much fun to watch.

Once I caved and confessed the actual meaning and thus the reason for the odd and distasteful looks he was receiving, the term ‘serviette’ became his new best friend. As a result, I imagine there are a lot less waiters on their breaks talking about the weird American dude and his penchant for ladies personal items to be supplied with his dinner. Sadly though, it’s not nearly as much fun for me.

His integration to this country became solidified, a few weeks ago at a local poker game in a pub.

Some guy called across the table and asked what part of Ireland he was from. He told me he hesitated at first – vaguely unsure of himself – before responding that he was not in fact from Ireland, but from the USA (a fact that would be obvious the moment he opened his mouth almost an hour before when the game started).

It was clear to me as he retold this story, that the guy was just being an ass.

“I waited a few minutes for the next hand to be dealt out” he continued.  “Then I cheerfully turned to the same guy and said, “So what part of New Zealand are YOU from?” The crowd broke up into gales of laughter and I was slapped on the back more than a few times.”

(Calling an Australian a New Zealander is akin to calling an American a Canadian or vice-versa. In other words, it’s not too appreciated at best, and insulting at worst. You can imagine how it was intended for our fellow poker player. Touch’e was the comment that came to mind.)

I looked at him in that moment with a kind of awe. “You’ve done it,” I said, “you’ve successfully become a real Australian in less than 2 years, all on your own! You’re like some kind of phenomenon.”

Call me crazy, but knowing what mineral we mine the most of, who the prime minister was in 1943 and how long our dingo fence is, shouldn’t be on the citizenship test. I don’t know the answer to these questions and I’m as ‘dinky-di-true-blue’ (Australian) as they come.

The test should instead be a melding of theory – Can you read and write English? Can you recite the lyrics word-for-word of Jimmy Barnes “Working Class Man?” – And the practical.

The practical can be a scenario just like this one. Pick up on the social cues and give as good as you get. If you fail, you are sent back home immediately, because if you weren’t, you would drown a slow and torturous social death, in the aftermath of your social confusion anyway.

We’re thoughtful like that.

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The Humble Iron is Not Like An AK-47

Image by John Kasawa

A few weeks after we arrived in Australia, my sister and her boyfriend came to spend a weekend at the beach with us. They live inland and don’t get to the beach often, so it was a great weekend of sun, sand, surf, and catching up.

It was the last day of their trip, and the boyfriend pulled out an ironing board and iron, to iron his shirt.

My kiddo walked by, and asked him what it was he was holding.

“What, this?” said the boyfriend,  holding up the iron. “It’s an iron!”

“What does it do?” kiddo asks in all sincerity.

(The boyfriend is flabbergasted by the turn of events.)

“You iron things with it. It makes your clothes neat. Have you seriously never seen your mother use an iron?”

(Kiddo is somewhat perplexed, but losing interest fast, given that the strange object wasn’t a toy, chocolate or a something to pull apart.)

“No, she doesn’t use that thing, our clothes are already neat.”

I actually heard this conversation from the other room and tried to dodge the proverbial bullet, by escaping into the kitchen – without a confrontation – but had no such luck and was  accosted by an incredulous boyfriend near the refrigerator. He gave me the rundown, and demanded an explanation as to how an almost-seven-year-old did not know what an iron was, nor what it did.

Valiantly, I explained about the miracle and wonders of dry cleaning in America, (where I had lived for the preceding 10 years). In the USA dry cleaning is cheap, efficient, easy to access (most have drive through windows) and thus, used regularly by me. If the truth-be-told, my son had probably never even seen me use an iron.

Here in Australia, (The boyfriend will be pleased to know), I iron all the time and the kiddo has now become intimately familiar with it, as I curse my way through his school shirts. Some bright spark on the board of his institution – in their infinite wisdom – decided that it would be a fantastic idea to put 7-year-old boys in white, button up, crisp cotton collared shirts, for school (along with a tie, no less)!

This necessitates me washing and ironing on a weekly basis. These shirts get indescribably dirty, requiring the use of industrial-grade stain remover (and shirt replacements every couple of months), due to the stubborn marks that appear and defy all laws of stain removal.

My grandmother always says; “You’re never to young to learn,” and since my love of old quotes is far greater than my love of ironing, I’ve decided to pass the baton and allow kiddo to experience the thrill himself.

That said, can anyone tell me the legalities involved in allowing a 7-year-old to use an iron? I mean, it’s not like it’s an AK-47, I couldn’t get arrested, right?

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How To Fit In, In Australia

2006 WSOP Main Event Table

Image via Wikipedia

My American husband has been playing poker on Tuesday nights almost since we moved to Australia 9 months ago.

One of the things that really stood out to him when he first started, was the lack of people asking what he did for a living.

In our experience in the US when you meet someone new, pretty much the first question out of their mouth is; “What do you do?”

It’s so different here in Australia. People just aren’t judged by their job, we  have a completely different system for sizing people up and its pretty simple and unique; you fit into category A or category B.

A. Is he a wanker?

A ‘wanker’ is pretty much the equivalent to being an ‘asshole’ in the USA.

or

B. Is he a ‘good bloke’?

A ‘good bloke’ is generally defined as someone with nothing to prove, who isn’t trying to impress anyone and who ‘bashes’ (trashes) the Kiwi’s (New Zealander‘s) and loves beer.

So hubby starting going to this weekly poker match about 6 months ago and for the first few weeks he didn’t say anything about this. After about 2 months he came home and it was as though he couldn’t contain himself any longer…” Its been months now and no one has ever asked me what I do for a living!” he exclaimed.

He was really quite fascinated by the whole process. Everybody chatting, playing cards, drinking and having a laugh. No station or prestige, just guys being…well, guys. Its been about six months now and he just recently found out that he’s playing every week with a Doctor, a judge, a trash collector and a newspaper reporter, amongst others. What a fantastically eclectic bunch!

I really love this about my country. No matter who you are, what your situation is in life, you’ll be given a ‘fair go’ by strangers just as long as you keep downing those beers and blasting those kiwis!

Ok, I jest a little, being a ‘good bloke’ is much more than this. Being able to laugh at oneself, not being ‘up yourself’ (pretentious) and being affable and willing to lend a hand are all traits that will take you far. Things like telling people you come from a ‘good family’, or announcing some prestigious sounding job, or showing off a fancy car or watch, will take you to category ‘A’ faster than you can say ‘friendless!’

Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not the fact that you might have a prestigious job, wear a fancy watch or drive a luxury car that’s the problem. It’s the need to make people aware of it that turns us off. We are always happy for a ‘mate’ to have success and good fortune. As long as he remains a ‘good bloke’.  Confused yet?

The overwhelming message here is that what you do, what your title is or where you come from, is not important. Who you are, what you stand for and how you treat others, is. And to us, it defines you.

It’s a message I am so happy to be instilling into my son as I watch him grow up.

* Disclaimer: I know that not everyone is the US judge people by these values, and of course not everyone in Australia doesn’t. This is just an observation from the snapshot of our lives and the experiences we have had overall. My husband is American and we love all of our many and varied American friends!
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Tylenol PM – The Gateway Drug?

Open bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol and Ext...

Image via Wikipedia

Having some trouble getting to bed and sleep as early as I should and so last night I took the pro-drug plunge (I hate to even take Asprin for a headache, prefer to keep my body as chemical-free as possible) and took one Tylenol PM tablet.

WOW! I have never been into illegal drugs, my teenage years of rebellion consisted of smoking at 13, and trying some southern comfort in a chocolate milkshake (I had no idea what it was supposed to be mixed with) at 14.

I tried marijuana at about 19 for the first time at a friends party. I don’t remember the experience except that my friend has never let me forget that I was found in the laundry room having a full-on conversation with his parrot. I’m guessing it was one sided, but cant be sure.

At 24 at a Bristol-Myers Squibb sales conference my boss handed me a bong and I had my second experience with marijuana.

Writing this now it seems a pretty politically incorrect thing to do, the boss hands you illegal drugs at a multi-national pharma company-funded conference? How many laws were broken here? In America I could have sued his ass and made a fortune – in Australia I worked like a dog for him for the next 4 years trying to save up for a vacation.

This was the same boss that was eventually fired for putting his penis in the ear of another employee at yet another conference. Clearly hotel stays and power point presentations caused him to lose all sense and reason. Regardless, he got his own in the end which was a shame, he was by far the most laid-back boss Ive ever had. (I wonder why?)

That’s my illegal drug history, clearly not one of note.

I digress.

I took this one PM last night and slept like a log – my son has been sick and my hubby asked me this morning if he woke again last night. I had no idea! I vaguely remember hubby saying goodbye at 8:30 this morning and the next time my eyes opened it was to my son in my room at 10:20am asking for breakfast because he was getting really hungry – parenting at its best!

I dragged my butt out and got him cereal and tried to remember the past 12 hours. Nothing. Not a damn thing.

It was the most bizarre experience, to have 12 hours go by with no clue of anything that happened. I’m a light sleeper and a frequent waker, so this…this was as though I took some kind of drug and blacked out. (Frankly, its very appealing).

I really have to watch myself now, you know what they say – Tylenol PM can be the gateway drug. And I cant afford rehab.

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I’m A Tourist In My Own Country

I have lived for the last 10.5 years abroad. First I moved to Belfast, Ireland, then near Oxford in the UK, then stayed for a brief spell in London and Cambridge. Finally, the majority of my time was spent living in Colorado with my now-husband.

We have recently moved back to my home country of Australia, though one would never know it, I’m so inept at functioning here. My first issue is a frighteningly simple one. Walking. Yes, really.

In Australia, as far as I remembered people walked on the left. Moving people walkers, or escalators go up and down the left. Cars drive on the left. I am left handed for Gods sake! Left, left, left.

This seems so simple, take what I have been doing for the past 9 years and reverse it, but I am seemingly incapable of this simple task.  I start out OK, yet a few minutes into my walking I seem to be bumping into people or simply getting in their way…. I do a lot of dodging people and saying things like; “pardon me”, “I’m sorry” , “excuse me” and the ever cheery “my fault, whoops!” on my excursions out to the pavement.

Sadly, it doesn’t stop there. I was in the grocery store the other day and looking for some Tylenol (or Panadol as its known here). For the life of me I couldn’t find it and after a lot of frustration I started second guessing my knowledge of my country….’do they even carry Panadol in a grocery store in this country? Is it perhaps something that is only available in pharmacies here, like a prescription in the USA? Have been gone so long I’ve forgotten what the simple staples at the grocery store should be?? ‘

My quandary was finally solved when I took a deep breath and asked a lady with a baby (hoping that her brain cells were also fried and she wouldn’t judge me) “Excuse me, I cant seem to find the Panadol, I’m not from this country (lie!) so I wasn’t sure if they carry it in a grocery store here?”

Her look was total judgement as she pointed to the 15 foot long display of panadol-style tablets in the aisle I had just come from. It wasn’t until I was leaving that I realized that saying I wasn’t from this country probably doesn’t really come across as plausible when I say it with a perfect Australian accent. My bad.

My final and most humiliating example (yes it really does get worse) was this sad little display:

Uggs On The Beach...Really?

I wore Ugg Boots on the beach. I may as well have worn a sign over my head saying; “I have lived inland in a cold and wintry climate all my life and know nothing about beach etiquette, or common sense for that matter.”

Now in my own defense we live super close to the beach right now, so it wasn’t as though I was getting ready for a day at the beach and packed up my bag; ‘Sunglasses? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Towel? Check. Ugg Boots? …’

I literally was in shorts and just went down for a few minutes and the Uggs were closest to the door, but still.

To add to my defense, as soon as I stepped into calf-high sand and it started pouring into the top of my boot I realized my mistake and took them off. See? I’m not a complete idiot, despite what you’re thinking of me right now.

Walk To The Beach

Needless to say, top of my schedule today is to get to the local bookstore to find the book titled; “how to fit in like a local and not look like a complete moron in a newish country even though you spent 26 of your formative years here.”

I’m hoping they aren’t all out of that title.

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