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Melbourne men,

If you carry a leather shoulder bag or briefcase, ok. You’re saying “I’m a professional” or maybe “I’m into male fashion”. All good, especially if you’re wearing a suit. Tres chic.

If you carry a backpack or sleek messenger bag, goodonya. You’re showing it’s comfort that matters to you, as you’re probably carrying a heavier load. Maybe you want to say “I’m sporty” or maybe you’re carrying your gym clothes and know that sweaty socks and leather don’t really mix at the end of the day.

But, if you carry a black linen shoulder bag with a large cat and a few French words emblazoned on it, you my friend, are carrying a man purse. I’m not judging, and dare not guess what was running through your head when you walked out of the house this morning. In any case, your murse has definitely caught my attention.

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Mixed among the classic English gardens favorites–roses, gardenias, lavender and rosemary–the Richmond suburbs have an abundance of fruiting trees:  heaps of lemons and limes, but also apples, olives, figs, apricots, tangerines, and yes, even pomegranate.  

And I’m not talking about the greater Richmond area here, these are the trees I’ve spotted in a 4 block radius around our house.  These tasty trees have peaked at different times of the season and offer an eyeful to the watchful dog walker (and mouthful to the homeowners I’m sure!)  As we transition into fall, sweet yellow-skinned figs and rotund green olive fruit are the main morsels dangling from the stems of the trees, so this splash of red in the afternoon sun caught my eye.

But, while these urban gardens are a beautiful addition to the sidewalks, they are also, a public nuisance.  Like the apricot tree whose owners have a “not-on-my-side-of-the-fence” mentality and don’t pick up the rotting fruit that collects on the sidewalks for two weeks in December, the stench of which hits you when you round the corner as it mixes with the hot breeze.  Or the birds that inhabit the neighborhood to feast on the tasty fruit, and announce their presence at 4am with a cacophony of squawks, squeaks, and squeals.  Or the down right menace to society that is the combination of birds + rotting sidewalk fruit, which I have the battered hand, scraped spine and 4-inch diameter bruise on hip as proof of.

On Friday, Steve had to “put in a few extra hours” with the guys at work (aka, happy hour).  Scrambling home at 8pm to a very anxious and pent-up little dachshund, Bentley tore off in a near-sprint down the sidewalk with me in tow, clicking in my high heels I hadn’t had time to change out of, and towards the nearest patch of green 2 blocks down.  We approached the corner, which is covered overhead by a large fig tree that spreads out from the neighbor’s front yard into and over the streetcorner, and Bentley lunged into the “bathroom”.  These antics startled a bird roosting in the lower limbs of the fig, causing it to fly directly into my face at the precise moment my heel came clicking down into a fallen fig fruit.  Fast forward 5-7 seconds later, I am dizzily looking up from the square of my back, trying to remember what happened, while a very confused dachshund at the end of a red rope stares back. 

Fruit trees = public enemy number 1.

We’ve had a series of anonymous letters  slipped under our door quoting things like the City of Yarra noise ordinance and containing handwritten things like “NOT AFTER 10PM!!!”  And no, Steve has not been transforming our alleyway into a nightclub with his turntables.  After multiple anonymous notes and continued confusion as to (1) the subject matter, and (2) the author of such notes, one was finally good enough to spell out in detail the troublesome offense – use of an air conditioning unit after 10PM.  Apparently it’s very noisy.  And my neighbors have nothing better to do than sit around and complain about others enjoying a bit of fresh air on 38°C (100+°F) nights in the middle of the summer.  

This is laughable for two reasons.  One, we’ve used the aircon like 6 times this summer due to a combination of lower humidity, more air circulation in the new digs, and an attempt to minimize our carbon footprint and electricity bills.  Compared to the freezer locker that was our D.C. apartment from April to September, this is pretty impressive.  Two, it’s not the first time we’ve ever received an anonymous letter for something completely ridiculous to complain about.  Our neighbors in D.C. actually slipped one under our door citing the D.C. case law on public nuisance and noting that the use of a WIND CHIME on our patio was disturbing the quiet and peaceable enjoyment of the building.  That’s right, a wind chime.  Otherwise known as a set of delicate metal pipes that, when rustled by the soft waves of the wind, produce a melodic and calming sound.

Upon hearing about our anonymous letters, Mel pointed me at this blog.  Which is perhaps the most hilarious blog I’ve read in a long time.  Seriously, had me giggling mid-afternoon down the halls of 101 Collins.  So, I had to share.  http://www.27bslash6.com/matthewsparty.html

Ahhhh, the golden art of sarcasm never fails.  It’s a bit off the cuff, so I’m not endorsing all posts.  But here are a few other funnies:  missing cat;  paying the bills;  and bears.

I know you’re out there. I know that you’re reading this blog (at least a few of you, at least occasionally). How do I know this? The blog tells me when you’re reading it. For example, we’ve had over 100 views on the latest post (and related photo pages), including two consecutive days of all-time high views of the blog.

So here’s the thing. Yes, I may be sending these cyber-ramblings out into the great world wide web for the sheer fun of it. But I also do it to regale you with my witty stories from Down Under. And to share pictures of all the beautiful things we are seeing and experiencing. And to stay connected. (that one’s probably the most important).

So, when you don’t gimme some comment love, you’re basically getting a free pass. You get to read my witty posts and view my phototastic pages, and you don’t have to give anything in return.  There’s no connection made.   How many comments did I have on the latest post?  One (thanks dad!).  

These posts don’t write themselves people; this blog takes work!  And getting your comments makes the work worth it, and inspires me to keep writing (to try and impress you further and get more comment love). 

Here’s a few things you could try to increase your blog-reciprocity:

  • Sign up an email alert. See that little button to the left that says “Sign me up!” Go ahead, click it! Then, when there is a new post, you can check it out at your leisure. Or immediately. Comment with whatever random 5 words come into your head after reading the new post. (try to avoid profanities in the public sphere; extra points for cohesion and grammatical correctness).
  • Integrate me into your weblife generally. Set up an RSS feed.  This one’s as easy as a click too – see that little orange and green button in the upper lefthand corner that says “subscribe to feed”? It’s a bit more complicated than an email alert though, and makes more sense if you regularly check a number of blogs.  Read about RSS feeds here.
  • Make a habit out of it. For you lawyers, make it a routine to check into An American in Australia on those boring, I mean pointless.. uhhh, I mean “long” conference calls. I know you’re probably playing brick-breaker or checking CNN anyways.  There’s 2-3 hours a day that you could be logging both billable hours and friend credit. That’s what I call multi-tasking.
  • Have your Sunday morning coffee with Oz. I pretty much always post something on (our) Sunday night, especially if we actually did something fun on the weekend. That means you can read all about it over coffee on Sunday am U.S. time. Once the caffeine kicks in, your jittery fingers should just take over. Place on keyboard, and GO!

To the woman who took a bath in floral perfume this morning and got on the 8:56 75 tram:

It is unacceptable to disturb the olfactory senses of 95 people packed into a tram when the stifling heat has already reached 39 degrees by 9 am, and there is zero air circulation. Seriously, can’t you see the beads of sweat on everyone’s faces? It’s 9 am. And it’s 39 freaking degrees!!

They make this thing called body spray. It’s light, refreshing even. A subtle smell, one that reminds the man sniffing your neck that you’re a lady, but doesn’t cause coughing spasms for persons unlucky enough to be in your general vicinity, or two blocks downwind. Or, cause me to get off the tram three stops early and walk to rest of the way in the sweltering heat, because the smell of you for 3 more minutes just might make me pass out.

Unacceptable.

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.

This east coast – down under workday has got to go… On a regular day I wake up to anywhere from 15 to 40 emails from overnight during U.S. east coast business hours. This week, I’ve stayed up til 3am for conference calls that keep getting postponed another day (but really, seriously, tonight’s the night). I’ve learned to play in the joints and take advantage of mornings, when you can actually talk to NY lawyers without a 1 day delay. And this lucky Friday night, my awesome social schedule involves a 1:30am call and reviewing and turning documents from 4-6am. Oh and it’s 9pm now, my pestering NY emails started at 5am this morning, and I’m slinking home to soak in the hot tub and try to work in a nap before midnight.

So I finally took the good doctor’s advice. It’s 10pm, on a Thursday, and I’m just off work. I am headed to a bar. That’s right, its mid-week (end-ish) and I’m drinking alone after work. Keep reading and I think you’ll agree, I deserve it after the past two weeks. After passing a few places that looked as if you’d get shived for wearing the wrong colors, and a few places with nothing but old men and young ladies in dark corners, I found the spot–a corner table outside (it’s a lovely 20 even at night today) at City Wine with views of the parliament building.

Where to start? Work I guess, since that’s always the most time demanding constraint on my life. Last week, a seven day marathon of 2-3hrs of sleep from roughly 6am to 9am in an effort to finish an offering document for a large (think B not M of $$) issuance finally finished up on Saturday afternoon, for which I was tasked to turn the offering document each day through the commercial printer and act as liaison with a client who thought it was perfectly acceptable to send 100+ pages of edits at midnight and expect a new version available at 8am.

After one day of “rest” (during which, in a frenzy of residual adrenaline, we unpacked 75% of the boxes littering our new apartment so we could actually walk around without a knock on the shins and spent $800 at IKEA on a new desk an assortment of other $20 things that somehow always seem to add up to hundreds of dollars), it was somehow Monday again.

My task this week bright and early Monday morning — a form check of a 80 page SEC form against a company’s Australian disclosures to determine what additional requirements would apply if the registered with the SEC. At least the client seemed pleasantly surprised today at the “extremely thorough job” when I handed him a 100 page detailed chart of the differences / similarities.

For those of you blissfully outside the corporate lawyer world, these two tasks involve (1) decent penmanship necessary to transcribe 100+ pages of comments in 25+ one-liner emails from clients and other counsel by hand onto a master markup for the printer EVERY DAY (or should I say night) and a reasonable level of judgment to reject the occasional immaterial or just plain wrong comment from opposing counsel, and (2) menial monkey skills to match up section to section in separate documents and perform endless control+F key term searches, an appreciation for Where’s Waldo pictograms, and a whole lotta time.

Add to this:
1) 3.5 hours and two trips to Richmond midday for a literally 5 minute, $60 “doctors appointment” to get a script filled;
2) Four trips to the bank to try and get a certified check to pay the security deposit on our new apartment, culminating in me withdrawing $4k from the ATM, walking down Collins in apprehension, and using Westpac (NB: we bank with Citi), my stern lawyerly tone and a hint of desperation to get the job done;
3) hours on hours of continued unpacking;
4) a house with over 27 light-switches, including 5 automatic timers switches that tick constantly and sound like rats scratching and running up the inside of walls at 10pm; and
5) the magpies. Magpie — n., a type of bird as common as the pigeon in Melbourne which has a cackle that sounds like a cross between fighting ferral cats, a dying opposum, and a distant chain saw. The magpie is most active and vociferous between the hours of 2 am and 5 am, and nests en mass in a tree directly behind 1/10 Hosie Street, Richmond. 

No surprise here, two glasses and one exquisite tasting of cheese down and audience-less ranting complete, and I’m already feeling better. Just what the doctor ordered.