Monday, July 27, 2009

Ramblings 27.7.09

- When I started this blog, I was of the belief that I would be coming to Australia for a fixed period of time, which would be ending around August. Therefore, a blog seemed like an appropriate way to keep in touch with people back home and to have a means of writing consistently. However, now that my time here seems to be more permanent, I wonder what will become of the function of this space? I never wanted to be one of those people who just kept a blog about their everyday life… I was going away to the other side of the world for nine months and I would keep friends/ family abreast of my situation for that time, but now I am faced with the dilemma of finding an appropriate way/ time of ending the blog; OR do I become one of those people who just writes incessantly about their life. It would be one thing if I were writing a memoir and some publisher were going to pay me to do so… but that is clearly not what is happening here.

- 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

Welcome to my Head

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, 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

Independence Day.

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.

 2.  “Fella.”

- 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.

 3. “Reckon”

- 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.

Take care,