What I would do

6 weeks ago I was packed into the back seat of a car amongst boxes, luggage, pillows and food to travel for 9 hours from Melbourne to Sydney with my grandparents. THEN! trauma and chaos descended in a confusing, monstrous, MESS!! I was packed into a space where I could easily and happily lie down, stand up, turn around but for 30 hours I was alone, hungry and I’m sure I smelt pretty bad. Actually, I know I smelt pretty bad because that’s all my parents and brother could say when they picked me up from the airport in my dreadlocked glory.

Dad drove us back home and as soon as I got there, I jumped out the car and my feet hit snow for the first time in my life. Holy shit, it’s pretty cold and I have bare feet. I’m not sure if this is normal. I want to get inside the house, but it smells really nice and fresh out here so I’m going to cruise around for a bit. Eventually we all go inside because mum is complaining that she can’t feel her fingers. All good. First night in the new house and it’s cosy and I have a bed and I just crash out.

The next morning dad gets it into his head that he wants to play in the snow. Mum and my brother think it’s hilarious watching me run up and down through the snow. My brother has his snow shoes on and tramps through the soft snow that’s covered the entire backyard. This is ace. A whole acre of yard.

What I don’t see at first are the pink flags sticking out of the ground. It’s about the fourth of fifth day that I find out what the pink flags are. Let this be a warning my friends, those pink flags = a jolt of electricity when you cross over the line. DO NOT cross the line. Listen for the beep and back away. This is an invisible fence to keep you within the boundaries of the property. Now, I’m meant to be smart, but it took me about 3 goes (and 3 bejesus shocks) before I realised that these flags were not to be messed with. There’s meant to be a warning beep but I literally have wool growing out my ears and don’t really hear much.

Below is a photo of me. I’m the one in front.

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The next week dad tries to teach me how to stay inside the boundaries. Man, that lesson sucked! Where’s my mum and why is she laughing? This is bullshit! One day I just brace and I run straight through the line, I get shocked again but I’m free! It’s raining but it’s pretty nice and the earth smells good and I’m just walking walking walking…towards one of the busiest roads in the area. I can hear my mum hollering for me and I can see she’s in two minds about whether to come after me or whether she trusts me to turn around and come back home. Sucked in mum! Your indecision means I’m going to keep walking. Screw the pink flags! I walk on to the main road and mum can see that the cars have slowed right down. It’s still raining and I’m feeling pretty indestructible after beating those pink flags. Now I’m going to take on peak hour traffic and beat that too.

Mum’s on the phone to dad, “The dog’s escaped! F**k!”

Someone makes a call to the local police that I’m on the loose and for about 3 hours I’m like uberfamous because I’m all over the Brookfield Police Dispatch.  Woo! After a while though I’m kinda tired and cold and I think I’ve done something to my left fore paw. I cross a few more busy roads before I see that there is a convoy of cars that mum’s neighbour has rounded up and they’re all trailing me trying to herd me in. Mum eventually gets me and then I try to bite the guy who did most of the herding. Sorry mate whoever you are and I hope you didn’t get fired from your job because you were late after trying to help my mum out.

For the next couple of weeks mum watches me like a hawk. She goes a bit OTT at the pet store and buys rope lines, retractable leads, tie outs, stuff!

Then mum brings me to the vet. I don’t like the vet clinic (it smells like stale disinfectant covering up dog mess), I don’t like the vet and I don’t like the vet assistant (get this irony – the vet assistant is a behavioural specialist. If I could have done this  download I would have). Anyway, mum gets conned into giving me a vaccination against Lyme disease just because the vet’s got a bunch of stories about how bad the ticks are yadda yadda yadda. What do you know? I develop frigging hives and I’m itching and scratching. It’s driving me crazy and I’m pretty sure I kept the whole house up all night with me scurrying around trying to reach that stupid place between my shoulder blades. Really. This is so shit. Mum brings me back to the vet the next day who gives me a couple of shots and before mum can throw one more death glare at the vet, we get out of there. If things can’t get any worse, mum puts one of her old tshirts on me and socks on my feet so that I can’t scratch anymore and that’s really annoying because all I want to do is get that itch, and she posts the photo on social media. Awesome.

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See she’s done it again here. She just can’t help herself.

Ahh, it’s a dog’s life.

Shout outs from mum to: #BrookfieldPolice, all-in-one butcher and baker and candlestick-maker Jackie #neighbourextraordinaire #DENsoycandles and friends at
#LagottoRomagnoloClubofAmerica 

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Adjusting to Fahrenheit

Temperature4 weeks (!) have flown by since we touched down in the US. Life has settled into as much of a rhythm as you can get when half your life is still somewhere close to the Panama Canal aboard a cargo boat.

The expat life, as I emailed a friend recently, is a huge challenge when starting out. I’m pretty sure it’s not meant to be anything other when you uproot to a new country in which you have absolutely no base – financially, medically, friend-ly or even foe-ly. Being the citizen of a country should never be taken for granted. Yes, we have legal status (our visa says that we do), but for nearly all companies here we are huge liability without any “everyday status”. No credit history means we can’t get a credit card, we can’t get a loan, can’t get a mobile phone or utilities. Of course there are ways around all this, but these things in life, that we consider everyday necessities, aren’t easy to come by at all. There are hoops (some of them on fire!) that you need to jump through.

To give it further context, our neighbour wanted to get a rescue dog. Great! So he went online, found the one he fell in love with, proceeded with several interviews with the dog refuge, a police check, a background check, and two home visits before he was allowed to apply to get the dog. As he put it, “It’s easier to get a woman online than it is to get a rescue dog.”

kitchen-conversion-cutting-board (2)I almost feel that there should be a Welcome to America pack handed out to newcomers in the Arrivals Hall which contains (at the very least) the following:

  • a social security application form
  • a wallet guide for conversions eg Celsius to Fahrenheit, weights, distances, measures
  • a chopping board like the one to the right (utter genius available at Crate & Barrel)
  • three free driving lessons and/or if you live in a city where public transport exists, a travel pass
  • a glossary for US medical and insurance systems

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We speak the same language but the vernacular is different. It got to a point where I You Tubed how to say “water” after going to a Bucks game and it took about 5 minutes for the cashier to work out I wanted a bottle of water. [For those linguistically-minded, the ‘a’ is like in ‘father’ and the ‘t’ is like a soft ‘d’.] So I think this ICONSPEAK World Edition traveller t-shirt should also be in the Welcome Pack. It may also come in handy for non-Spanish speakers when travelling to nearby South America.

After 4 weeks, lessons learnt so far:

  • A day that is 70+ degrees is a no-socks-needed-might-need-sunscreen-day.
  • When your sat nav says “1000 feet” get ready to turn very soon.
  • A gallon of milk is heavy and cannot be carried in a single plastic bag.

America does good

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There is a lot of bad press about the US and its policy-makers at the moment. The populus and the media wait eagerly for any Trumphap (you know, like a mishap) so that it can be shared on the digital global stage.

What would I know though? I’ve only lived in the US for the past two weeks. What I DO know, hand on heart, is that America does GREAT at these:

  • Drive through Starbucks. OK, it’s Starbucks, but the pure concept of a drive through coffee shop is just awesome. (Incidentally, I actually don’t mind Starbucks. They do a great almond latte at Brookfield Square.)
  • Online shopping! Anything.You.Want. 24/7. Delivered the next day or sometimes even within 2 hours! Amazon, you already had me. And then you introduced me to Amazon Prime. You’re a keeper.
  • The choice and variety of products are mindblowing. Grocery shopping is nuts. Not just nuts, it’s 50 brands of cereal, 30 types of bread, 10 different types of almond milk (as a lactose-intolerant person this is pretty much like striking the lottery, gallons of water for $1.67/gallon, sugar-free Belgian chocolate that tastes like the real deal (striking the lottery for my diabetic son), 20 types of coffee that you can grind yourself to whatever size grounds you want.
  • Affordable organic food. Yay for Whole Foods and Trader Joes!
  • Right turns on a red light (the most common-sensical road rule ever)
  • School buses that pick your kids up and drop them off at the end of the driveway
  • Organised sport for kids and summer camps to get them (and parents through 3 months of summer break!)
  • Did I mention online shopping?
  • Barnes & Noble. I am a book lover. To be able to get my hands on books without wiping out my annual salary in the process – wow – I am a book glutton.
  • Double glazing and heating in every house
  • Friday night Fish Fry!

#goamerica #Trumphap #WholeFoodsMarket @wholefoods #Barnes&Noble @BNBuzz