Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Shocker number One: A few years back Cate and I caught a taxi to LaGuardia Airport and our driver was unbelievable. He was an erratic driver to begin with, swerving from one side of the street to the other, apparently disdaining the use of his indicators and instead, preferring to just yell at other cars and, of course, blow his horn. Unfortunately, this asinine style of driving perturbed one of the "Gypsy" cab drivers, who our driver had previously expressed his disgust with. These two gentlemen proceeded to spend the rest of our trip to the airport in some sort of jousting- for- position, nausea inducing, race to the finish. At one point, our driver nearly drove up onto the sidewalk to gain position on his opponent. They were THAT serious.
I recalled this episode from my past this morning as I rode the BUS to work. In defence of my driver, he was running five minutes late once he arrived at the busport to pick us up, so clearly he felt obliged to drive a lil recklessly to begin with. This liberty went to his head as I literally felt like this man was driving a Formula1 racer; he darted in and out of places that no bus ought dart. Then he felt disrespected by another bus driver, who was evidently stopping too quickly in front of us. Again, in his defence, the other driver was stopping to abruptly, but this is absolutely no excuse for tailgating whilst driving a 40 foot metal cylinder filled with people. Thankfully, after an expletive soaked diatribe (I didn't want to say, "expletive laced tirade," but I feat that "expletive soaked diatribe" might be just a cliche... ANYway), he pulled astride and then in front of the his rival bus driver and we were able to finish the trip in peace. Shocking.
Shocker number Two: During the aforementioned bus ride, I passed the Burswood Dome (the premier concert/ event venue in Perth... Britney Spears, Beyonce, Coldplay, Pink all performed there when they came to town) and saw the signs for Hulkamania. Now, I am not one to disparage my new home town, and to be entirely honest, I have no idea what the level of, for lack of a better phrase, Hulkamania is in the US... but seriously? Hulk Hogan still matters to anyone? I was actually curious so I looked up just how old he is... 56. He is also apparently, 6'4" and 302 pounds?! And his real name is Terry Gene Bollea, it's funny what you never think of, but I digress. Hulk Hogan is bringing his seven ring wrestling circus to Perth! And judging by the advertising saturation, we should be excited about it! I guess in my mind, Hulk Hogan stopped being relevant in the mid 1990's... All I can think of is him in his red/ yellow jumpsuit, ripping his rubbery shirt from his ripply chest... These images along with more recent ones of Hogan sporting a two tone moustache/ beard combo ring true with his fans and I have no doubt that however many shows he puts on will sell out. That's Perth. Shocking.
Ok. I promise, pictures of my new home are forthcoming... eventually.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Cate and I have taken out a lease on our first place together! Cate's family has moved from their family home to a large modern apartment (those of you coming down under in December will get to know this apartment well!) Thankfully, most of the things from the family home do not flow with the contemporary ambiance of the new place so Cate's parents needed to get rid of a few things. Thus the birth of "Operation Scavenge." Cate and I have managed to fit the following items into our two bedroom apartment: Cate's brother's bed frame, her parent's mattress, a couch, her brother's work desk, a bookcase, her family's television, her family's bbq (on the balcony), her sister's chest, and two wooden coffee table- esque boxes with drawers (one of which is the resting place for the television). We also did a couple of IKEA runs and bought another bookshelf and a dinner table with four chairs :) Now, for the fun part.
In order to move most of these items and a few others over this past weekend we rented a "ute," (utility truck; like a pickup truck with bed walls that fold down for easy access) and got down to business. One of our first big attempts was the Taylor family computer desk. It is a beautiful, solid Pine desk with plenty of storage space for disks or documents. Cate and I carried the massive hunk of wood out to the ute and loaded it up into the bed. We drove it the 90 seconds to our new place and looked at the two flights of stairs that we would have to traverse and summoned every muscle fiber Tommy Sheehan finely crafted for us in the bowels of Columbia's athletic complex. We heaved and lugged for what seemed like 45 minutes, but finally reached our door which we opened. Then we maneuvered the desk into position. The desk did not fit. We tried several other arrangements, but the desk was just too wide, deep, and long to fit. Dejected, we took the desk back down to the ute and to the Taylor home where it rests to this very day.
Having learned a valuable lesson in the previous story, we measured the Taylor refrigerator before attempting to haul it over to our place. Naturally, it was too large as well. So we engineered a swap with the Taylor's next door neighbor in which they would get a nearly brand new fridge and we would take their disco- era one and a few hundred dollars to sweeten the deal. We were in no position to complain since we still got a free refrigerator out the deal, however all of this transpired over the past couple of days... a couple of days after our ute rental had expired. Apparently, refrigerators must be transported upright, so putting it in the back of a long car was out leaving us with just one option; putting the fridge on a handtruck and wheeling it over to our place. Now, as I mentioned before, it takes about a minute and a half to drive from the old Taylor home to our new place, but we found out that it takes about 30 minutes to walk whilst wheeling a refrigerator. Undoubtedly, we were a bit of an odd sight in the late evening traipsing through the suburbs of Perth pushing and guiding a fridge down the sidewalk. Goodtimes.
I will post pictures of the completed apartment when I get a chance and I'll try to write more frequently, but who knows how often I'll feel compelled to write on this blog anymore. Like I mentioned in a previous post, this blog was really great when there was a set time on my journey to Australia and my life was very much an adventure, all the time; but now that I'll be living here for at least a few years, the thought of chronicling my day- to- day existence does not appeal to me at all.
But, only time will tell.
Friday, September 11, 2009
With all of that said, I am going to just give a lil rundown of my life events over the past month or so...
- All four of my groomsmen have booked their flights to come to Perth for the wedding! Now all I need to do is find a place to live so they won't have to get hotel rooms! Sweet!
- I had a car crash. I was exiting a freeway and we had a green light, but the car in front of me stopped for some reason. Naturally, I stopped behind him, however the car behind me had other ideas and decided to keep driving right into my back bumper. Thankfully, no one in any of the cars was injured, but, my 20 year old Ford Laser is no longer with us. Although, the crash did highlight one of the little known safety features of the vehicle; upon impact, both of our seats flattened into the back seat preventing us from smacking our heads on the front dash. Ingenious.
- I have applied for temporary permanent residency in Australia! At our interview with the immigration department we were told that everything was in order, except my police clearances. My American background check was not sufficient, so I had to get fingerprinted and mail off the prints and 18 US dollars to the FBI to ensure my squeaky clean-ness. I also had to get a police clearance from the Australian Federal Police; which struck me as odd since I submitted my Western Australian police clearance which said, "Your name does not appear on the records of any Australian jurisdiction." And I had also been cleared for a working with children permit... ANYway, once I get and submit those two clearances, I was told that I should have my new visa and immigration status within a week!
- Because of my current immigration status (one year work visa, but only six months at any given employer) today is my last day for the City of Belmont. However, Monday is my FIRST day with Belmont City College! The great thing about this job transition is that my unused vacation days from the City of Belmont get paid out to me in a lump sum along with my final paycheck!
- Cate and I have booked a photographer for our wedding! http://www.paperandlace.com.au/ Now all we need is: someone to organize flowers and a cake! And there's a chance that both of those aspects might be handled this weekend! Haha, obviously, I'm pretty excited about all of this, but really, I'm just excited for all the planning to be over and to just be married. To go on our honeymoon, to be able to take vacations together, to share a home... just a few more months!
- Cate and I are coming to America! Our flights leave Perth at 12:05am on September 23rd and arrive at 8pm on September 23rd. We are planning on filling nearly every waking moment with friends, food, and fiestas! Shoot me an email if you'll be in Saint Louis from the 23rd of September to the 6th of October or in New York City from October 6th to 10th.
- Both of our basketball teams made it to the playoffs and won our first games, but we both fell in the semi-finals. But looking on the bright side; Cate made the all- star team... without even practicing and/ or playing the whole season! She's just that dominant on defense, in rebounding, passing, and shooting that they had no choice but to select her! Well done.
Ok, I think that covers my life. I hope all is well where ever you are.
See (most of) you very soon!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
- I have been sick with some sort of cold/ flu on and off for the last five days. I have missed two days of work and did not get to participate in my basketball game this past weekend. I am not pleased.
- On a slightly related note, I have a medical examination tomorrow. I need to get a chest X-Ray (for Tuberculosis) and an HIV/AIDS test for my visa application. Once I get the results from tomorrow we can FINALLY lodge the application that will determine my “temporary permanent residency” status, haha. The official word is that the process could take six to eight months to complete, but friends in a similar situation heard back (favorably) in about a month. So hopefully, we’ll hear back in a month or so and I’ll be able to continue working with the young people at the alternative learning centre, but if not, then I guess it’s pretty clear that I need to go in a different direction.
- I am moving… for the fourth time! Our lease runs out here on August 7th, but thankfully I was able to find a co- worker who has a two story house and they are renting out one of the rooms on the bottom floor! It is actually quite a perfect situation since I only wanted to rent a place for about the next six weeks because we’ll be coming back to Saint Louis on September 23rd! The new place is a little smaller and older, but it’s also cheaper… and just for six weeks.
That’s about it, but take care and start your countdown for our return to the northern hemisphere!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
That's right kiddos; for a whopping two days I had a mohawk. Just hold your breath til Halloween when I break out my masterpiece. Two words for you, "Mister" and "T."
Frankly, I just thought this little sticker was pretty funny.
This is a picture of us before we headed out to the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO, in case that ever comes up again). Dapper swagger; or as I like to call it, dap swag. Ugh, sorry.
I thought it fitting to don my knitted cap to match Cate's and I let my facial hair grow out a little as well.
If you are expecting a coherent stream of well thought out paragraphs, you have come to the wrong place (at least for today); this is just an attempt to update ya’ll.
- I’m listening to “Once Around the Block” by Badly Drawn Boy right now (on repeat), here’s a link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAtcJ954TjQ check it out, then buy it; really great song that has been applicable in multiple phases of my life.
- Today is one of my off days during the school holiday program. Yesterday we took the kids to an indoor rock climbing center; three to four of them managed to break a cement slab covering a hole in the ground before we were even strapped into our harnesses. Goodtimes. Tomorrow we are heading to the Perth Zoo if the weather cooperates; if not to, “museum,” they don’t tell me anything except when to show up.
- With all my free time I had begun my visa application to grant me, “temporary permanent residency,” which will be rolled over into permanent residency in two years; so that’s pretty exciting. This whole process is a little silly though, we have to gather up all our emails, pictures, statutory declarations of people who know us and can vouch for the legitimacy of our relationship, then present our case to the immigration authorities so they can tell us that our partnership is, “genuine, monogamous, and long-lasting.” Thanks.
-I am also in the process of filing my first Australian tax return, however because I have been in the country for such a short period of time (exactly 6 months today!) there are no agencies (governmental or financial) with which my personal details can be matched against yet, so I have to wait a few months to file. Don’t you just love beauracrcies?
- I’m about to go head to the gym for some nice cardio work followed by three to six sets of some sort of pectoral exercise. After that, I’m going to come back home, shower, and drive up to Joondalup Mall with Cate to enjoy one of the two nights of “late night” shopping so graciously afforded to all Perthians (on Thursday nights shopping centers outside of the city are permitted to stay open til 9pm, the ones in the city stay open til 9pm on Friday nights; all other nights of the week most stores close between 5pm-6pm); so naturally, we take advantage of our opportunities to get out of the house on Thursday and Friday nights.
-Saturday is a day I have been waiting for since I arrived in Australia; the start of the Tri-Nations (Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) Rugby competition. Six matches for each nation, three against each of the other two countries in a no- holds- barred smashmouth affair betwixt the three greatest rugby playing nations on this planet! And I just found out that I can actually watch the matches at Cate’s house instead of trying to scrounge around Perth to find a place that is showing the game each week.
- So… a guy that my track and football buddies and I used to regularly outsprint just won the 100 meters at the US Championships. In case that means nothing to you, this man, Mike Rodgers, is the fastest individual in the United States, also meaning that he is one of the fastest people in the WORLD. Big congratulations to Mike and all the work that you have done over the past six years or so!
I think that’s about it and it’s time to go for my run, so take care and keep in touch!
P.S.- depending on when I post this/ when people read it, it might be my father’s birthday (July 17th), so Happy Birthday Dad!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
That’s about as patriotic as I get on the fourth of July.
I have always been somewhat conflicted about the best way to celebrate the American day of independence. On one hand, we managed to wrench ourselves from the grip of our British oppressors and in doing so craft a nation around the highest ideals; on the other, we stunningly massacred, raped, and pillaged hundreds of tribes of people who lived here for generations and generations and there was that little slavery thing going on too. So, yeah, a soccer jersey and a six- pack of Bud is all the fourth of July celebrating you will get out of me.
In lighter news, Cate and I did have a lovely day this past Saturday, especially since I have just begun the July school holidays. I am essentially off work for the next two weeks (I’ll still work three days each of the next two weeks, but only in the capacity of a camp counselor for the activities that we’ll be running at the youth center)! We grilled up some bacon cheeseburgers (burgers in general are apparently a very American food, I guess I have never lived in any other country, but it’s fascinating what one learns away from home) and washed them down with our frosty Budweisers.
Speaking of Budweiser, for some reason those old “wasssssssup?!” commercials popped into my head and I showed them to Cate. They are JUST as hilarious nine years later… don’t believe me? Take a look.
ANYway. In my musings about the fourth of July, I was really trying to come up with something clever/ witty/ not too cliché to write, but for some reason, all I could think of was a miniature list of Australian words/ phrases that amuse and/ or confuse me.
1. “Sweet as!” commonly followed by, “bro!”
- Contrary to my initial impression, my backside was not constantly being complimented, and this is just an expression of deep approval. Like, ‘That car was as sweet as brown sugar, bro!’ But, the phrase is just shortened to sweet as, bro; in all fairness, this one might be of New Zealand (Kiwi) origin, but I hear it here, and not in the US, so it stays on my list.
- Clearly the word ‘fella’ is heard in America, but generally not out of the mouth of someone under 65 years of age. Yet in Australia, many of the young people I work with use the word fella every day. In case the context is lost on you, “fella” is like the movie Goodfellas, or perhaps Rocafella for any hip-hoppers out there. This one is used most prominently by my Aboriginal students and often as a racial term, like blackfella or whitefella, no distinction made for gender might I add.
- Not a force to be reckoned with, but rather, ‘I reckon that if we don’t round up these kangaroos, they’ll cause some serious problems for those koalas.” Haha, sorry, that was a stupid sentence, but I don’t care, I’m just flowin now. Reckon is one of those words that is again, a babyboomerism, if not older; like it’s the sort of word that my 85 year old grandfather who was born and raised in a small town in Mississippi uses frequently, yet here I am in Perth, in 2009, and it’s everywhere. Crazy.
4. Usage of the word “the” in a sporting context.
- Certainly we all know that the name of the team that Michael Jordan played for was The Chicago Bulls, however, if we were exhorting the team on to victory in the stands, we would shout, “Go Bulls!” In Perth, and I believe all of Australia, they would say, “Go The Bulls!” Perhaps we do it all wrong in America, but I had never heard of such a thing before I got here and no one I talk to can give me an explanation as to why the, “the” is left in front of the team’s name when cheering. Sweet as, bro.
5. Usage of the word “colored,” but since this is Australia, “coloured.”
- I debated whether or not to include this one, but like I said, I’m on a roll. Yes, coloured, is used here, by both whites and non-whites to describe non-whites as a group. No, it is not 1950. Clearly, coming from my background as an African- American who majored in African- American Studies, who may or may not have a tendency to passionately pursue an argument or two, it is a struggle to hold my tongue when I hear people using the word. However, in the wisdom of my old age, I have learned to listen and think before launching into a verbal assault because we all know that I am more than equipped to wage that war. But, why is the usage of the word coloured so offensive? OK, by calling all non-white people ‘coloured’ a direct assumption is inherent, that all white people are in some way grouped together and that all non- white people are all grouped together. The deeper implication is that “whiteness” is the standardized, maybe even “pure” racial category and the other group (us coloured fellas, ha, that was good hey?) has impurities; that whites are normal and everyone else is somehow abnormal. Now, we all know that ALL of that is a load of garbage, which is why the word “colored” is no longer used in America (except by ignorant folk). Today, we use words like, “minorities” or my favorite, “people of color.” Really, what this all boils down to (hold on, I’m about to get off my soapbox) is a need for us as humans to stop classifying people by “racial” groups, because let’s face it, “race” is something that was constructed by those in power to tighten their grasp on those whom they oppressed. That is not to say that we shouldn’t acknowledge and appreciate cultural differences because, I wholeheartedly am in favor of that, we just need to stop worrying so much about lumping people into groups for the purposes on classifying.
Thanks for taking time to read through all my thoughts, I appreciate it.
Monday, June 29, 2009
What have I been up to as of late?
Nothing too much really, just slogging through the winter months of Australia (the seasons in the southern hemisphere are opposite to the northern hemisphere, just a little geographic/ climatological info for ya :) This winter really isn't that bad, especially compared to some of the subzero (Fahrenheit), snowfilled days in NYC; but it's still down in the 40's and upper 30's, plus this is the RAINY season. Sorry, I'm talking way too much about the weather and that's how you know I'm bored, but I'm going to keep ranting for just a few more lines.
I hate rain.
Yeah yeah yeah, I know we need it to sustain life on this planet, but in my mind, I thought coming to Australia would be just about the closest thing I could get to my ideal climate, namely, hot and dry, year round. The fact that Australians have deluded themselves into thinking, "it's only cold for a few weeks a year... we don't need insulation in our homes... or heating," doesn't help.
It has come to my attention that I use the segue, "ANYway," more frequently than most, some have even called it a trademark of my informal writings. It's not a conscious thing, it just happens, but now whenever I DO use it there is some mental awkwardness for me... in case anyone was wondering.
But I digress; I met some African- Americans the other day. Where, you ask? On the basketball court, of course. It was actually pretty funny because one of the guys is the ex- husband of my coworker, so I had heard a good deal about him. However, that's where the humor stopped. These two were the worst kind of Americans, OK, not the worst, they weren't jumping around in cowboy boots waving confederate flags; certainly the worst kind of American basketballers. First of all, this game was in a church league so you would expect a degree of civility even though everyone who participates is not necessarily a believer, but why join a church league if you are a loud- mouthed, trash- talking, braggart, who can't even back it up? Secondly, these guys only had four players, their fifth was suspended because he lashed out at a referee last week by calling him a feminine hygiene product; yeah. So, we decided to play the game 5 on 4 rather than have them take a forfeit and it just wasn't fun. We won by about 30, but the whole game was just an exercise of self-control. They complained about every single call the refs made, which was pretty impressive because they never got out of breath. Even during free throws when everyone else was taking a breather, these two brothas kept on flapping their gums. But like I said, we won by thirty so that was a bit of vindication, except that it didn't even feel that great because they complained that they only had four players so of course we should have beaten them so badly. Some people just don't know how to lose with dignity, but thankfully, we get to play that team again and I can just hope that they will be at full strength, allowing us to administer a proper beatdown :)
Well, that's about it for now... Everyone back in America, make sure you set off some extra fireworks for me this weekend, apparently for some reason, they are illegal here. On a related note, how about the US men's soccer team? Beating Italy, Spain, and Brazil (for a half) in one week? Watch out world...
Bye? How do you end a blog post? It's not really a letter or a message, it's just floating out there in cyberspace...
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
So, Cate's parents decided to throw us an engagement party (several weeks ago... sorry for the late update) at our favorite Aussie restaurant; Mela, an Indian restaurant.
The photographic evidence follows.
This cake was actually made for us and presented by a friend before the engagement party, but I just thought that I would throw it in too.
These are two of the approximately five glasses of champagne consumed at our party. We thought people would want to celebrate with some bubbly, so we bought TWELVE bottles; whoopsie daisy.
The two of us with a comically angry Vono and cheery Shannon.
(1) Us with church friends; Aleesa, Seb, and Giles. (2) Us with work friends; Jorge/ Allison (the hosts of the Latin American dinner mentioned in the previous blog), Jane, Jen, and Wavey.
Cate with three out of four brisdesmaids; Kate, Rae, and Jess.Excellent chocolate cake... looking forward to more at the wedding? Maybe? Hm, I guess I actually have a say in that, hey? haha
Monday, June 15, 2009
Man, it is pretty difficult to believe, but as of tomorrow afternoon I will have been living in Perth (on the other side of the planet from Saint Louis!) for a full FIVE months! This is just about the longest I have ever been away from home and I'm starting to miss the little things (I've been missing the big things all along). I'd also like to take this time to apologize for not posting more frequently or with updates about my life here... I'm busy living it... but I really will try to write on a more regular basis about more general topics instead of my deep musings about life and sociocultural cycles that are playing out here.
Without further ado, my weekend.
Friday Night!- We meant to go to a friend's birthday party, but we were tired, so we just went home and played Scrabble with Cate's mom. Haha, a great start to a jampacked weekend!
Saturday Morn- I picked Cate up and we drove deep into the heart of Belmont to coach our little basketball kids (she coaches the under 8's and I coach the under 11's). Somehow, I was roped into running the show for one of the under 8 teams, and funnily enough, my team was matched up against Cate's. It was certainly a battle of coaching prowess as we cajoled our respective teams of five and six year olds to, "get off the floor... you can't be sleepy," or warmly remind them that, "there's no reason to be afraid of the ball." Needless to say, these kids are cute. Frankly, I think the result of the game could also go without a mention, but I'm too petty! I won 12-1! Yeah baby, yeah! My older kids aren't as cute or funny, but THEY think it's hilarious to use me as their personal jungle gym... but we won that game too and we are on a hot streak (three out of the last four games, gearing up for the playoffs!)
Saturday Arvo (Australian for "Afternoon")- I dropped Cate off back at home so she could go fabric shopping with her mother and jetted off to play some basketball of my own. We squared off against another team from our church, and to be entirely honest with you, I have no idea what happened. Somehow, I managed to hit five of six jumpers in the first half! I have never shot that well in my life, but I just couldn't miss. Sadly, I thought that my streaky shooting would continue in the second half, but I just kept bricking. Oh well, we won that one too!
Saturday Evening- Cate and I geared up to head down to Mandurah to have a slumber party with Rae and Shane (the genders were separated, no worries), but first we made a stop at an Irish pub to watch the Australian national rugby team (the Wallabies) manhandle the Italians. Because neither Cate's family nor my housemates and I have the requisite cable package, we are forced to go out of doors to watch some high quality rugby... but for some reason the concept of sports bars (a la Buffalo Wild Wings) has never taken off here! I have gone on this tirade before, but it really doesn't make any sense that a country which prides itself on its love of drink and sport could have gotten this so wrong, but I digress. After the game we joined Rae and Shane at a Mandurah cafe called Moka (great hot chocolates and potato wedges for those of you taking notes for when you come here in January for the wedding :) to watch/ listen to a friend perform. Her name is Cherith. She was awesome.
Sunday Morning- Back to Moka for breakfast, wonderful and not that pricy! We drove back up to Perth, changed, and then prepared for that afternoon/ evening.
Sunday Evening- We pre-empted church last night because one of Cate's co-workers invited us to a Latin American themed dinner party. Her husband is Venezulan, so we knew it would be too legit to quit, hey, hey. We decided to prepare a spicy chilli con carne, which turned out alright for our first effort. But at the party we had shredded pork, black beans, chicken with a chilli/ chocolate sauce, nachos, and of course, rice. It was all very tasty, but I think the best part of the night was the pinata. Becaue several of the couples had young children a Dora the Explorer pinata was purchased. The kids gave it their best whacks, but just couldn't break through. However, one of the mommies had a few swings and before you could say, "Dios mio," off flew Dora's head. High comedy.
Ahh, and here we rest on Monday night just counting down the days til we touch down on American soil. Another post is coming within the next couple of days, so stay tuned!
Love/ miss you all!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Last weekend was three days because in Western Australia it was ‘Foundation Day,’ or in other words, the day to commemorate when Europeans first settled Western Australia. While I was not celebrating such a momentus occasion, I did reap the benefit of a day off work by attending SYG (State Youth Games). SYG is a pretty big event on the Western Australian Christian calendar as it is a three day festival that draws its competitors from churches all around the state. I went with a friend’s church and signed up for Badminton, Dodgeball, Indoor Beach Volleyball, and of course Scrabble.
Badminton was an interesting selection for me since my experience with the game is limited at best, however, I had a great deal of success against all comers from the Taylor family a couple of years ago so I thought I would be decent. What I did not realize was that there were actually people my age who apparently play this oddly named sport as more than a backyard leisure activity. I managed to run into a church that featured three teams of two such players, needless to say, they thrashed us and in the process forced me to explain on multiple occasions that just because we played some very good badminton athletes who happened to be of Asian background, that in fact, all Asians did not possess some badminton/table tennis superiority gene. Ugh.
Dodgeball is a game in which I possess many talents at a very high level thanks to my years of working with annoying children who loved to play the game (leaving me with no choice but to hone my ability to the highest possible levels so as to maintain an air of invincibility… it’s true). Unfortunately, I am not quite sure that all of my teammates took quite the same approach to the tournament. We took a loss in the first game which I will chalk up to rustiness on the part of my brethren and sistren, but then we reeled off four victories in a row until we played our final match of the preliminary round. Now, for those of you who know me at all, you know that I play to win, no matter what the game/ sport, I always give it 110%, but with that said I never play dirty or trash talk. Being the fantastic dodgeballer that I am, I must have rubbed some of the people on the opposing team the wrong way because they jeered me! They actually shouted taunts at me at a Christian sports festival! I tried to play on pure adrenaline alone, but alas, it was not enough, my team fell in the contest, and narrowly missed out on a spot in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Cate had just led her team to the final of the basketball competition, but had come down with a terrible migraine. That night, we contemplated heading home so Cate could sleep in her own bed, but she decided to stick it out for the second day which began with Indoor Beach Volleyball. She made a full recovery for our last day :)
The premise of Indoor Beach Volleyball is an interesting one for me, but I guess there are people who must play beach volleyball year round even if the weather would not usually permit it. This event was primarily a mess around one for our team since none of us actually play volleyball, let alone beach volleyball. Yet somehow, we managed to compile a 3-2 record, which again, left us just short of advancing past the prelim round.
In my final event, I planned to make up for the rest of the weekend’s disappointments by shutting up all of the critics and winning Scrabble. Yes, I actually had critics; for some reason, I suppose I do not strike people as the Scrabble loving type of individual, but whatever the reason, I felt like I had something to prove. The preliminary rounds consisted of six 20 minute games, which is really quite taxing on the brain and nerves, but I pushed through the first four games with an unblemished record. My fifth game was against a formidable foe who was one of the few others who had yet to lose a game, I thought I could handle her because she challenged the word, “spurn,” which led me to believe that she could not possibly beat me with such a limited vocabulary, and yet I lost. My final preliminary match was against a chap who seemed particularly nervous and fidgety, but he played the game with a great deal of strategy and skill, so I knew it would be close; and it was, but he won. 4-2. Not a very impressive record, but I managed to squeak into the quarterfinals only to face, the anxious fellow again. He knew he was in for a big match and I was more than ready for the challenge, but as with scrabble and life, sometimes things just don’t go your way, and I lost again.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The teacher, Marnie, of the classroom in which I work asked one of our students, Claude, about his dreams and aspirations. He mentioned wanting to move on to TAFE (a program that seems to fall somewhere on the spectrum between American community colleges and universities) and playing wheelchair basketball in the Paralympics. Marnie quickly threw in that she wanted desperately to head back to the US for a vacation, namely to New York. I said that I wanted to cover college football for Sports Illustrated and instantly I realized that I was not following this dream with any degree of passion.
In reflecting on that little conversation, I took pause to look back over my personal history of dreams.
Jordan the Weatherman.
5th- 10th Grade, with a brief flirtation at the beginning of college:
Jordan Davis, Attorney at Law.
10th- 12th Grade:
Jordan “Ice/ WRbooyah” Davis, Collegiate Football Star Extraordinaire.
Freshman-Junior Year at CU:
Senior Year at CU:
Jordan P. Davis, freelancing, blogging (how is “blogging” still a spelling error in Microsoft word? Get with the times…), journalist.
And here we are, May 2009. What are my dreams now? I know my goals, hopes, and aspirations, but have I let my dreams die? I definitely put writing aside because I was unable to find gainful employment in said field, but trust, if for some reason Sports Illustrated, or even ESPN came a callin, I’d come a runnin.
Maybe I’m not dreaming because I’m living THE dream. I could not have even foreseen the life path that I’m headed down before I left, heck, I still don’t even know the exact path I’m traveling. But I’m here on the other side of the world with my beautiful fiancée at my side and I can’t complain about anything in my life. I have stable housing, employment, entertainment, sporting pursuits, and friends… I live in Australia! Just 15 minutes from the beach; I’m getting married in about 7.5 months! Why am I yelling?
This is exciting.
My life is exciting and challenging; maybe for the first time in my life, my dreams are not about some career I want to pursue, but they are about settling down with Cate in a community and becoming part of its fabric; changing lives and cultures; showing/spreading the love of Christ everywhere we go and in everything we do.
I guess that’s a pretty good dream afterall?
I should probably stop messing around and get back to stuffing envelopes, but to paraphrase a great man, Larry Kindbom,
Keep dreaming of championships, in whatever you do.
Or maybe a far greater man, Paul, would be a more appropriate approximation,
If we live, then it is to the lord. If we die, then it is to the lord. So, whether we live or we die, we belong to the lord.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Let that sink in. Those thoughts rolling around your head right now. Although, chances are if you are reading this you already know the beautiful news I am going to share in the next line :)
She's my fiancee.
We are engaged!!!
And therefore, we are getting married!!!
Ok, the real reason for this post is to share the proposal story because I am already tired of telling it, haha, just kidding, I don't think I'll ever get tired of telling it :)
Once upon a time, it was actually this past Tuesday, a dashing and clever young man named Jordan gallantly rode into the city to pick up his gorgeous and gifted/great/ generous girlfriend Cate. He suggested that they go sit on the beach and read the bible together. Because they were in the process of trying to develop a habit of reading the bible together at the beach, this struck Cate as a wonderful idea and not at all suspicious even though both had full evenings planned.
Upon their arrival at the beach, Jordan guided the couple to the approximate spot where she first took him nearly two years ago. They spread out the beach blanket and plopped down to start their study. As Cate fumbled through her purse in a vain attempt to find her bible, Jordan seized the opportunity to surreptitiously slip the engagement ring from its box into his pocket. After several minutes of searching, Cate dispiritedly told Jordan that she didn't have her bible, but Jordan retorted,
"Don't worry, that's not why I brought you here." He then took out his own bible and read Proverbs 31:10-31 (from the NIV),
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
He then told her that the woman described was the woman that he saw in her. That she already possessed so many of the aforementioned attributes and would grow into others and THAT was the sort of woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with; her. He then asked her for a hug and told her how much he loved her, but the hug was rather awkward, as he knew it would be because they were sitting on the sand. So he had them stand up and embrace, then he knelt down on one knee and said, "Will you marry me?" She sank down to him on the sand and started kissing him and crying as the small group of people seated relatively nearby began applauding. Jordan, with no answer yet for his question, inquired, "Is that a yes?" Cate laughed and replied, "Of course it is!"
The two happily cuddled on the beach and watched their first Australian sunset of 2009. For they had attempted to see several others on the beach, but were thwarted by cloud cover and long lines for fish and chips. The happy couple, now engaged, set about calling just about everyone in the world to let them know of their changed status. And they started ACTUALLY planning for their wedding, which they are still doing to this very day.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I haven’t had a single problem with my car that is most likely older than my younger sister (I know how old Nicole is, but I have no idea when in 1989 my car was manufactured, but it might have been before February 24th or even in 1988, but this is a silly tangent).
However, in the time that I have put the bulk of those kms on my car I have: grown another inch or two of dreadlocks, moved into a new (semi- permanent) house, started to get comfortable at work, and played enough rugby to realize that I know absolutely nothing above an elementary level, and maybe not even that much.
Rugby. Considering that the name of this blog is “gridder turned rugger,” I have certainly been skimping on the rugby commentary. There are a few of very good reasons for this. 1) I was just using rugby as a device to document my experiences here, and I will write more about the game and my transition into its ranks as the season progresses. (Last preseason match this Saturday, regular season begins next Saturday!) But, just as I tried not to view my gridder-ness as my defining character trait, I could not even begin to primarily identify myself as a rugger now. 2) Going into this trip I expected to have as much leisure time as I did back home and therefore be able to write on this blog as frequently as I posted on my other sites. I was clearly wrong on both counts. 3) I drastically underestimated just how much one must know about a sport to accurately and legitimately document it. With the exception of my foray into tennis writing, I have only written about sports and subjects that I was intimately familiar with. Yet, I am coming dangerously close to an even games watched/ played ratio. I couldn’t even begin to count how many football or basketball games I have watched and when juxtaposed (gotta find a way to use juxtapose more consistently and less pretentiously, but is it possible?) with my relatively vast game experience in both my watch to play ratio must be around 10 or 15 to 1. Alternatively, I have now played in exactly four rugby games (including sevens and one match at Columbia) and watched five or six. What’s the problem? You might ask. Well, I’m glad you did. The problem is that I watched probably half of those football or basketball games before I ever played in one. Football and basketball are arguably the two most popular sports in America, pretty much every red-blooded male knows them inside and out, but I’m way behind the curve when it comes to rugby, even in the lukewarm rugby state of WA. I am trying to attend as many matches as possible and watch on television with commentary so I can soak up the little details. Right now, I am playing a simple version of a simple game, (on that note, one of my teammates was terribly confused and told me he thought that rugby was a lot more complicated than American football. I rationally demonstrated the thickness of our playbook with my fingers and he began to understand that football is some sort of super-computer chess to the checkers of rugby) essentially just running fast and hard forward when I get the ball and running hard and fast into my opponents when they have the ball. My biggest problems occur when set plays break down, I understand the concepts but to use a Maddenism, I have a low rugby IQ; but in case any of my opponents are reading… it’s growing. Exponentially. Watch out. Haha. But seriously, don’t blink.
Work. Goodness gracious. I could probably write a memoir about my experiences over the past nine months about working with at- risk young people; but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet here. Like I mentioned before, my job is split into three parts: community service coordinator (boring and tedious, paperwork galore), drop-in attendant (lots of fun, just hanging out with kids), and youth worker in the Alternative Learning Centre (definitely the most difficult, but, then again I never thought it would be easy). My thoughts about my primary position, in the ALC, are not fully formed and I don’t suppose they will be for quite some time. With that said, there is one striking difference between my time at the Boys and Girls Club back in Saint Louis and the ALC; genuine, meaningful cultural differences. In America, for the most part, the vast majority of people are reading from the same cultural script. Sure, there are different accents, food preferences, styles of dress, etc, but none of these things severely impact the interactions that people have on a daily basis if both parties are open minded. Another way to look at it is that I might have come from a different background than another person, but generally in an American context, we will hold similar baseline values and traditions (obviously, I’m generalizing here, but you see my point, I hope?). This is probably the case for most western nations, including Australia; honestly if you didn’t hear people speaking or pay attention to centRe’s or coloUr’s you couldn’t tell the difference between mainstream Australia and America’s beachy cities. This is where the indigenous or Aboriginal peoples of Australia and the rest of Australia have an issue. Before I really delve into this touchy subject that I will admit that I am not fully informed about, I just wanted to clarify that these are all personal observations and inferences drawn from behaviors and texts I have read. Over the past six or seven years since I started working with the kids from Aim High then moving on to working with at risk youth in the Bronx to the Boys and Girls Club, I have developed different techniques for dealing with the children I was to teach/mentor. When I first started, I was just about 16 myself so I was never more than a year or two older than the oldest students I was interacting with so I pretty much just looked at the position as me hanging out with other kids from a different part of Saint Louis. As I grew older and gained more responsibility I began to understand the kind of impact I could have on these kids who were craving a role model, particularly one who was male and looked like them. My perception of my role shifted into mentor and role model more than friend, even shifting into the disciplinarian at times because I saw something (lots of things actually) lacking that my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents had instilled into me from the start; respect, courteousness, discipline, a love of learning, motivation, perseverance, civility, and did I mention respect? I thought that these kids had plenty of friends, but what they didn’t have was an older male figure to help them along in life, to be a mentor, heck, even just to throw around a football with. I certainly got static from lots of kids at first, but when they realized that I wasn’t just being hard on them because I could, but because I cared about them and wanted to see them succeed, the friendships came in time. These principles I put forth in my childcare experiences were crystallized at the Boys and Girls Club because it was really the first time that I spent more than just a few weeks consistently with the kids. The kids still liked to poke fun at my lack of ebonic speech, but there was a constant mutual respect that was developed over time. I was all for having a great time with the kids, but they knew never to cross that proverbial line with me because I meant business. ALLLLLL of that brings us to the present day in Perth dealing with predominantly indigenous children in the ALC. These kids are very much like the young people I dealt with at the Boys and Girls Club; many are from single parent homes, lots of drug/ alcohol/ physical abuse, high teenage pregnancy, low literacy, poverty, you name it, they’ve got it. But the literature I have read and the people I have talked to explicitly state that the relationship one forms is paramount when dealing with indigenous young people; this genuinely leaves me at a loss sometimes because it is damn near impossible to build a relationship with someone who has absolutely no respect for you as a human being, let alone an authority figure in a classroom. One of the things I read dichotomized the western educational/social model versus an indigenous Australian model. This in itself was problematic for me because a teacher cannot have a separate set of rules for one group of students and a different one for the other. Even if a socially marginalized group is the exception to the rule, this is not conducive to leveling the playing field in education. One of the most troubling differences that the document drew out was that in the western system, children are expected to follow their parents’ commands, whereas in the indigenous system, children have far greater autonomy (this point was to illustrate why indigenous students might get up and leave a classroom setting without notifying a teacher). This document was extremely biased in a way that seemed to excuse and justify the behavior of indigenous students, rather than looking at real problems and real solutions. Indigenous students might have a greater degree of autonomy at home, but it’s not because this is a cultural feature that differs from western society, it is because so many indigenous children are just being raised by their mothers who are statistically very likely to be an alcoholic or a drug addict and/ or have many other children to look after.
There really is too much to process with all of this. As of tomorrow, I will have been working in the ALC for three full weeks, haha. My background experience and Columbia degree focus on an entirely different situation with a different set of variables; I want to apply what I have learned and what I already know to this time and place, but I’m just not sure that I can. However, I have been praying that God would show me to best way to communicate with and ultimately be effective in the lives of these young people. I started doing this sort of work out of a desire for social justice, but as my faith grew, I realized that, yes, this is about social justice, but more specifically, it’s about showing young people the love of Christ in all of my actions and thoughts. Maybe that means that sometimes the kids will just need a swift proverbial kick in the pants and other times they will just need someone to talk to. No matter how God wants me to love these kids, that’s how I’ll do it.
I’m finished writing now; I have gotten myself in enough trouble already; then again, I still owe that confederate flag waving car dealership a phone call…