Commute

I really like my commute in the morning. Yes, it takes just over an hour for me to get to work and sometimes the train or the bus is crowded and sometimes I end up running down the street to catch my bus, but overall I like it. Even on those days when it takes me 2 and a half hours to get home because of electrical problems on the line at Carseldine or when I hear an announcement about the evacuation of the central office and end up sitting at Central Station for an extra 5 minutes. I can read or check email or chat with friends online or just stare out the window at all of the suburbs I fly by.

One of my favourite things to do, however, is watch the people on the train. And I have a couple regulars I keep tabs on.

1. Cop and wife

When I catch the train at Dakabin, the cop and his wife are always in the carriage I choose. They sit close together and chat occasionally. She texts or reads and he reads legal documents or stares out the window. She gets off at Fortitude Valley and he usually gets off at Central.

2. Sleepy Guy

This guy cracks me up. When I get on the train, he’s already asleep. Some days his head bobs up and down and other days, like today, he sleeps soundly without a movement at all. I figure he must have some kind of narcolepsy or other medical issue that causes him to fall asleep as soon as he sits down on the train. The other day he bobbed up and down for 40 minutes, but when we got to Central he was sound asleep. It was a good thing we were stopped at the station for an extra minute because all of a sudden his head shot up, he looked out the window, realised where we were, grabbed his bag, and rushed out the door just as the doors were about to close on him. Now I’m prepared to wake him at Central in case he doesn’t wake himself up.

3. Kids in straw hats

There are lots of kids who ride the train or bus to get to school, but there are a couple schools that must require their students to wear straw brimmed hats. I feel like I’m in some kind of old-timey film whenever I see one of these kids wearing the hat and uniform. It would be more convincing if they weren’t texting or listening to music on their phones, but it still makes me smile.

I also like that when I get off the bus at uni I can walk to the coffee cart, order a large flat white, and walk the couple hundred metres to my office to start the morning.

-C

No more Mondays at the beach

I suppose I can say this: I started a new full-time job last week Wednesday.

I waited to apply for jobs until we knew we had permanent residency, and this job was the first job I applied for. It took a couple months for the process to start, but when it did it went fast. I was contacted for an interview on a Tuesday, interviewed on a Thursday, was offered the job the following Wednesday, and started a week later. So last Wednesday, I was up at 6am, at the train by 7:20, and getting a cup of coffee at the cafe next door to my new building by 8:30. It’s been a blur of orientations, accessing new systems, getting id, learning names, and taking in new information. I alternate between knowing exactly what people are talking about and having absolutely no clue. It’s interesting and challenging work. And it doesn’t involve teaching my own classes, which is strange. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a job that didn’t involve grading and prepping. I’d tell you more about the job, but the details are too overwhelming for me to talk about even now.

Perhaps the strangest thing I’m acclimating to is the commute. I’ve always liked public transport; I have fond memories of riding the bus with my friends and colleagues at MSU or exploring the city using the NYC subways and buses, but it wasn’t something I did in Iowa. There I drove to work every day. I hated those early mornings in the winter battling snow and ice and fog to get to school – especially when I was driving out to Dunkerton on county roads.

My current winter commute is nothing like that. I may stand on the chilly platform early in the morning wearing a fleece jacket, but when my train arrives I get to find a seat and open a book or take out some grading to do for my online classes or get out my phone to text Kayla or FBChat with Trudy. I ride the train to Roma Street, walk from platform 10 to platform 2, and catch my bus to UQ. When I get to UQ, I walk by two small lakes, past gardens filled with native grasses and trees, watch out for bush turkeys, and make my way to my building.

One of the mannerisms that I find both fascinating and completely adorable is the way people exiting the bus call a “thank you” to the bus driver. It’s not something I recall happening when I took the bus to MSU for all those years, but here it’s normal and expected. I’ll admit that I haven’t done it yet (partly because I exit at the middle of a really long bus), but one of these days I’m going to shout my own thank you to the driver for getting me to work on time.

Last night as I was packing my lunch and getting my clothes and bag organised for the morning, I realised that normally I would have been thinking about which beach we would be visiting the next day. While I’m definitely going to miss the freedom I had for the past year, I’m happy that 364 days after I arrived in a brand new country, I was able to start a job that is letting me explore a whole new part of my home down under.

-C

One Year

On June 24th, I got on a plane in Chicago, flew to LA, stopped in Auckland for a couple hours, and arrived in Brisbane at 10am on the 26th. Those three flights were a blur, and when I look at the calendar and see that it’s been a year since that first flight, I can hardly believe it. This past year has been a blur.

Holy crap, people. Seriously.

I moved halfway around the world, sold or gave away or stored just about everything I owned, I quit my job (sort of), learned more than I ever wanted to about filling out government paperwork and got permanent residency, and I can now drive confidently on the left (wrong) side of the road.

What have I learned?

About Australia

Australia is a beautiful beautiful beautiful country. The beaches in Queensland are pristine, the waters are a turquoise that I have never seen, the sand is fine and white, and every time I visit a new beach I am shocked that I get to live here. The mountains are not subtle. As we drive on the M1 north, the Glass House Mountains rise up suddenly in the distance. The rain forests are cool and hide giant fig trees, choking vines, and little wallabies that hop across your path when you least expect it. In the morning, I am woken up by lorikeets squeaking or kookaburras cackling like monkeys in the trees. And that’s just the stuff I’ve seen within two hours of my home. I am currently making plans for a bush trip to the Red Centre. I desperately want to see the stars sans light pollution.

And the people. Oh the people. Every time I meet and talk to a new person, I’m thankful that I live here. I’ve had so many fascinating conversations at church, at the gym, at the grocery, and, yes, even at the Medicare office while applying for public health care.

We’ve had visitors – Dan’s parents and my mom – and it’s been a pleasure to take them around and show them this beautiful place and introduce them to our new friends. You should come visit. Really.

About Myself

I’m a worrier. Filling out all that visa paperwork kept me up nights. Applying for new jobs and interviewing, kept me up nights. Attempting to complete my US taxes, well, that’s still keeping me up nights. But what I’ve learned most about myself is that I can handle this stuff. I can do this. I mean, it helps that I’m not doing this entirely alone. Dan’s been wonderful and funny, as usual. But this move has given me a bit more faith in who I am and what I believe. I highly recommend big changes.

About the Future

Stay tuned!

-C

Feels like winter

You’ll totally roll your eyes at this one, but today it finally feels like winter.

What does that mean exactly? Well, here’s the current weather:

today

 

What does that mean in Fahrenheit?

66 degrees.

Yes, it’s currently 66 degrees F. and I am cold. It is a bit breezy and cloudy today, so I think that’s making it feel cooler. I’ve been mainlining hot coffee all morning, and I’m about to go put my wool socks on or take a hot shower or go to the gym just to warm up.

queen birthday

Today is also the Queen’s Birthday and a public holiday. Well, technically it’s not really her birthday. Her birthday was in April, but for some reason most of Australia celebrates her birthday today. You can read more about that here. In honour of her birthday, I will probably empty the dishwasher, clean the kitchen, go to the gym, do some school work, and see if the sushi bar is open at the Woolies at the Rothwell roundabout.

-C

 

In Summary

I’ve been MIA for the past month or two from here. I suppose I have been busy – finishing up the semester, welcoming my mom here for a 3 week visit, and just going about my regular routine.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing to keep myself entertained.

1. Visiting tourist spots with mom

We took mom to some of our favourite locations including the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. I love that place. If you visit me, we are going there, no question about it.

Giant koala!!!

Giant koala!!!

2. Shopping

My mom likes projects, and one of them involved a trip to Ikea. We picked out a nice chair to compliment the rest of the lounge room. Thanks, mom!

New chair

New chair

3.  Exploring

On one of mom’s last days, I took her out to Bribie Island to walk on the beach. On the way home, I stopped just after the bridge to the island so we could walk across and take some pictures. I’ve driven over the bridge many times, but that was the first time I’d noticed the Glass House Mountains in the background.

Bridge to Bribie

Bridge to Bribie

4.  Cooking

I love a good recipe, but I also love an easy recipe. This pannenkoeken was perfection. Who doesn’t love a puffy pancake?

Pannenkoeken!

Pannenkoeken!

5. Origami

Well, I haven’t been doing origami, but the little girls at church are really into it.

Origami turtle

Origami turtle

6.  Missing friends

A package arrived, and it was perfect.

Fun packages from friends

Fun packages from friends

7. Keeping my head down

My walks back from the grocery or the gym are ALWAYS interesting. I didn’t flip this over to see if it was good news for the test taker because gross.

Litter

Litter

8.

9. Beaching it

I’m not complaining about the weather right now. It’s unseasonably warm for the end of fall/beginning of winter.

10. Reading

With summer school starting, I’m relishing the time I can take to read. This week I’m reread some Harry Potter at Mudjimba Beach.

Rereading Harry Potter

Rereading Harry Potter

-C

SOLSC Day Thirty One – Things to do

sliceoflifeicon

Another month of slicing has come to an end. It’s been lovely getting to know a whole new group of bloggers (my Feedly list of slicers has tripled and now I have a whole bunch of excellent blogs to read), and it’s been great motivation to write more frequently here. I tend to forget that writing about daily life can be interesting, introspective, and important. Slicing again this year has been a great reminder.

Now that slicing is over, I should tackle my to-do list:

  1. Update cv so I can start applying for jobs here – getting that permanent visa made this possible
  2. Make birthday cards and Easter cards
  3. Send snail mail to friends back home just to let them know I haven’t forgotten about them
  4. Finish/start the puzzle – for some reason, I decided to start working on a 2000 piece puzzle that I picked up at Salvos. Buying a puzzle from a thrift store does not guarantee that every piece will be present. So far I’ve gotten all of the edge pieces done. Only 1950 pieces to go!IMG_4131
  5. Proof and send out my “reading drafts” survey for my quality faculty plan. Interested in filling it out? Check it out here and share your responses.
  6. Do laundry! The sun is shining today and should also be out tomorrow, so I should be able to get all my laundry done this week.
  7. Write out my lesson plan for my homeschool English class
  8. Clean my office
  9. Return some books to the library and pick up one I have on reserve
  10. Go to the gym (aka The James)
  11. Finish up sending all my tax stuff to my accountant back in the States – at least I have until June to file!
  12. Have a nice day!
    Thanks, Jack.

    Thanks, Jack.

    -C

SOLSC Day Thirty – Bloom

sliceoflifeicon

After days of rain followed by sun and humidity, our new hibiscus bloomed. The orange and yellow and red are deep and luscious. The best gift you can give someone, aside from time, is definitely a plant. I’m okay with plants – meaning I usually don’t kill them. Plants in pots are especially good because they require no weeding, and I can move them into the sun if necessary.

I’ve had this plant for just over a week and the results are already in: this plant is perfect.

Hibiscus in bloom

Hibiscus in bloom

-C