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Of lasts and firsts….

Today is my last day at work for 6 weeks, the longest time I’ve had off from work since I became a full-time lawyer.

Today is my last day (and night) in Melbourne, Australia, one of the greatest cities I’ve ever lived in.  

Today is the last day I will post on this blog…

 

Today is the first day I am officially on Facebook.  (Yes, after years of gurumbling about the failings of Facebook and the happiness of my non-virtual life, I’ve decided it’s too darn hard to keep up with a global network of friends without Facebook.)

Tomorrow is the first day of an international adventure to New Zealand, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Vancouver, WA, CA, CT and NC.

Tomorrow is the first day I will miss Melbourne, and look forward to the journey home.

 

csw

11.04.2012  

What I’m listening to this week:  A variety of songs that remind me of the great journey that awaits us, and our return back home…

Way back home, String Cheese Incident; American Girl, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers; Travelling Song, Passenger (feat. Gabrielle Huber & Cameron Potts); America, Simon & Garfunkel; On the Road Again, Willie Nelson.

Any suggestions for my mixed playlist?  I need a little variety – this playlist has to last me 6 weeks with many, many, many hours spent on trains, planes and in automobiles….

As much as we are happy to be coming home (and trust me, we really are so happy for that moment), we have really loved living in Melbourne.  The friends we have made here are no small part of that.  In fact, they’re a huge part of it.  So it’s pretty depressing to think that we won’t see some of them again.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had when leaving D.C.  See in my law firm life in D.C., there were the three musketeers (me, Laura and Mark, who all summered and started at the law firm together) and the wise sage who (with some reluctance) took us under his wing and guided us through the hard weeks with plentiful martinis.  As one might gather, junior associate life at a “big law” firm is pretty much akin to torture. Our exit plans were a frequent topic of discussion; it was no secret that we all wanted out, it was just a matter of time. 

So when I decided my “out” was moving to our firm’s Melbourne office, I was frankly surprised my fellow musketeers took the news so hard.  After all, we all talked about leaving one day, right?  But as the wise old man pointed out, I was doing the leaving first.  I was leaving them behind.

It honestly hadn’t occurred to me to think of it in that way.

Recently, I’ve been in the uncomfortable position of being both the deserter and the deserted.  My dear friend and companion in the Melbourne office has decided to cut her losses and run.  Literally.  Out of law firm life, out of Australia, back to a life that resembles what so many think of as normal — where things like family, friends and sanity take priority. 

Which honestly, has shook me. After all, it was supposed to be her farewelling me in November.  And now in a few short weeks, I’ll be the one left behind.

And a few short months (weeks really) after that, we’ll be leaving. Leaving great friends we’ve made in Melbourne behind.

(it all sounds a little apocolyptic, I know)

So in between moments of feeling like a deserter (again), I’m just trying to savor the moments with friends.  Lunch, movies, coffees, dinner parties in Richmond, pubs, cheap eats in Chinatown, after dinner drinks on Tuesday, Wednesday…is it Thursday yet???

This is probably the real culprit for my lack of blogging in the past few months; I’ve been spending too much time having fun in the real world.  (see drinking English cider like it’s going out of style). 

Which really, when you think about it, is a pretty good reason.

Death happens. I don’t mean it cavalierly, but inevitably. 

But somehow, even though you know it is inevitable, even if you’ve known it was coming for years, somehow, that doesn’t lessen the pain.  You would think, honestly, that it would.  After all, you’ve had time to prepare for it, come to terms with it, ask why; maybe even receive an answer in your own time.

And sometimes, death is welcome.  There are many people who suffer in old age.  So there’s the almost ironic feeling of relief when someone has been delivered peacefully after a long struggle.  But even that relief doesn’t displace the ache in the heart of those left behind.

It was two years ago when my grandfather told me cavalierly (and it seems, inevitably) that he thought he had Alzheimer’s.  We were having lunch at a burger joint in Seattle, and I was set to embark on a grand adventure in a far away place (Australia).  (He himself had lived a life full of adventures in far away places, like Okinawa and Anchorage.) 

As it turns out, he was right.  He was, after all, a physician. So I fear for him, in the beginning, there must have been so much pain at the inevitability. 

I hope there was also, in the end, relief.   And peace.

(Elliott Boisen; March 14, 1925 to August 6, 2012)

So after a year and a half searching out a decent bagel in this city, finally, we have struck gold!   I managed to drag Steve to Beans and Bagels in Fitzroy this Sunday, despite pelting rain, and oh man was it worth it.  Bagels made in the proper NY style (boiled then baked), thick creamy schmear and a buffet of bagel sandwich-making items.  We each got a sandwich, devoured it, and then got another.  Yep, we love (and have been craving) bagels that much…

Fellow American-Melbourians, take heed, Beans and Bagels is where it’s at!

One of the things I loved about D.C. was that there was always someone protesting something.  Especially in Lafayette Park, at the back of the White House, which I passed through every day to walk to the office.  Through rain and snow, you could always count on the anti-nuclear war guys; been there every day since 1981 and still going strong.

Some pictures from a blog called “Ordinary Places, Ordinary People” of NYC street protests.  

You don’t have to agree with the message.  You don’t have to stand out there with them.  But to me, there is no more cherished right of free expression than the ability to stand in the street with a sign and speak your mind.  And I have such admiration for those willing to stand proud and express themselves, even (or perhaps especially) when I don’t agree with the message. 

Seeing these pictures of people lining the streets of lower Manhattan to speak their minds made me proud to be an American today, and a bit nostalgic for home.

It’s officially the Fourth of July in (east coast) United States.

Oh to be eating corn off the grill and sweet sticky BBQ right about now…  For our part, we’re having apple pie this afternoon at the office (freshly baked by our latest ex-pat addition, Kelly) and singing the national athem quietly inside.  Happy Fourth to all back home!

Leah and Jordan have left us after an exciting three weeks of adventures.  Let’s just say, the month of May = most memorable.

Also, Leah and Jordan have just left us.  Let’s just say, sad face.

Bah humbug, I am so acting Scrooge- like this Christmas and I need to break out of my funk! Its clearly Christmas all around–from the decked out streets and laneways to the near-constant flow of cocktail dresses post-work as office Christmas parties rage all over the city–and I’m just not feeling it. The weather’s all wrong, I have no Xmas tunes playing on the radio (well, no radio for that matter), no tree or lights or festive decorations adorning our apartment, no Christmas cheer. One of the ladies at work has brought in something yummy for everyone each day this week, and I haven’t even bought Steve any presents yet!

(to be fair though, that one’s not my fault. I fell yet again for the “agreement to not buy presents” where we agree to spend money on a vacation or joint gift and then I find out 3 days before that Steve’s actually bought me tons of presents and rush out and buy something totally stupid and thoughtless but accessible in my mad rush to have something to exchange…)

Oh well, maybe next year.

So were having Thanksgiving at our house this weekend (we sadly don’t get Thursday off) for some Americans and Aussies. It’s a bit potluck–there’s two other cooks for the main meal–and I’ve got the essential but boring tasks: turkey, mashed potatoes and salad.

So I’ve decided to make a few creative “classic American” dishes for starters. I’m definitely making deviled eggs, fried mac n cheese balls, fried pickles and a granny smith apple cocktail. But I’m in need of a meat to round it out. So tell me, what do you think is “classic American cuisine”? Help a cook out!

It’s harder than you’d think, especially without having the whole of it be southern food and giving everyone a heart attack before the main course…