The start of March means….

the start of the Slice of Life Story Challenge!Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Some years ago I first participated in this challenge. The challenge requires that participants post to their blog every day during the month of March and then share a link to those posts on the Two Writing Teachers blog. I think I participated for two years in a row a couple years back. I can remember one day I was traveling to Minnesota so I found myself sitting in my car, using someone’s wifi, in order to make sure that I got my “slice” in for the day. It was hard some days, but I stuck with it.

Through this challenge, I ended up connecting with my lovely friend, Elizabeth, who writes HERE and HERE. She even graciously hosted me and another friend when we were out in California doing research on Japanese internment during World War II. Well, my friend was doing the research; I was just tagging along to explore parts of the country I hadn’t been to before and ¬†helping her look through yearbooks from the internment camps at the Japanese American National Museum in LA. It was an amazing trip and getting to meet Elizabeth was definitely a highlight!

I’ve decided I’m up for the challenge again this year, so on March 1st be prepared for 31 days of posting. I think I may need to brainstorm some ideas now so that I’m ready to write.

-C

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How are you going?

This is the question that just about everyone greets me with. When I am at the grocery, when I talk to the neighbours, or when I come into contact with random strangers. Everyone asks, “How are you going?” The English major in me cringes a bit when I hear it. I don’t know if there’s really anything grammatically incorrect about it, but it’s just such a different way of asking someone how they are doing. It seems to be a cross between “How are things going for you?” and “How are you doing?”

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Lately I’ve been teaching one day a week for a family who homeschools. I teach one of the daughters, she’s 13, and we meet for about an hour and a half to talk writing and composition. It’s a challenge to go from a classroom of 20 students to one student in a dining room, but it helps that she’s extremely bright and funny. I like writing out my lesson plans, coming up with homework, and spending that hour and a half with her each week. She does bust me when I spell things incorrectly (harbour not harbor, realise not realize), so she keeps me on my toes. I’m always proofreading my work to make sure that I’m using the Australian spelling of things.

The other day she and I watched a bit of the Sochi Olympics – the competitors were snowboarding – and we got to talking about snow. She has never seen snow and is dying to experience it. I told her that it can be pretty, but after a while it gets really old (and cold and a pain and annoying and frustrating). She doesn’t care; she wants to see snow. Unfortunately, if she wants to see snow up close and in person, she’s going to have to travel a bit, which is a challenge for a 13 year old.

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Today it’s 80 degrees, sunny, and a bit humid because of the rain we had last night, and I’m starting a week of conferencing with my online students. So far, I’ve Facetimed two students and Facebook chatted one student. It’s been amusing because they all had a snow day today, and I’m sitting here in shorts and a tank top trying to stay cool.

-C

A reminder: Australia is a HUGE country

When I found out I might be moving to Australia, it seemed that every time I turned on the news, listened to a podcast, or read the paper something about Australia was mentioned. You’ve probably experienced this, too. Your ears have all of a sudden picked up on any mention of this land down under.

You may have heard about the bush fires, sharks tweeting, or Cyclone Dylan. I heard about all of those things, too, but I’ll tell you that not a single one of those things (or the many other newsworthy items you may have heard about) affected me because Australia is ¬†HUGE country.

Australia is as big size wise as the continental US. This means that if I wanted to drive to Sydney from my house in Brisbane, it would be like me driving from Waterloo, Iowa, to Cheyenne, Wyoming. And the roads wouldn’t be nearly as good as they are in the US. It would take me about 10 hours to do it.

We recently had some visitors here who had originally talked about visiting all of the big places in Australia while they were here. They wanted to visit Brisbane, Sydney, Cairns, Perth, Melbourne, and Ayer’s Rock. They were thinking they could drive and spend the week before their cruise exploring the continent.

And then they looked at a map.

Go ahead and zoom out of the map below. I’ve marked Ayer’s Rock for you. Note the highways – there aren’t that many – and imagine the routes you would have to take to get to all of those locations – there’s no direct way. Now zoom in to figure out where all the major cities are. They’re on the coasts and they are far, far apart from each other.

There are currently over 22 million people who live in Australia. Compare that to the over 300 million people who live in the continental US. 22 million people occupying the same amount of land that 300 million occupy; the difference is that no one really lives in the middle here. We all crowd the coasts.

If living these past 6 months in Australia has taught me anything, it’s an appreciation for geography.

-C