Highlights of a Year in Australia

  • Swam in the Indian Ocean


  • Taught a three-year-old Australian to speak like an American


  • Pet a kangaroo


  • Befriended a kangaroo


  • Ate a kangaroo


  • Met a dinosaur tamer


  • Hung out with Bret & Jemaine

If you squint really hard you’ll see that it really is them.


  • Learned to dive


  • Jumped out of a plane


  • Jumped out of a boat


  • Found Nemo


  • Found Bruce


  • Explored Bali


  • Attended the opera


  • Made a dent in my bucket list



It was


a great




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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Uncategorized


What It’s Like to Spend Three Days Diving in the Great Barrier Reef



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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


Things to do When You Suddenly Have a Hotel Room to Yourself

  • Jump from bed to bed without your mom yelling at you


This photo was really hard to get


  • Take a bubble bath for the first time since you were four

Note to self: hotel shampoo is not an acceptable replacement for bubble bath liquid


  • Order as much room service as your free food voucher will allow (even if you can’t finish most of it)


  • Ding dong ditch!


  • Call the front desk to see if they want to chat 


They don’t.


  • Try to figure out how to secretly eat the food from the mini bar without getting charged


  • Try to decide between the news, cricket, or Frasier


  • Play dress-up with your own clothes 


This will be very brief as it’s not fun at all


  • Try to decide between the soft pillow or the firm


  • Pretend you still have a MySpace and take duck face mirror photos of yourself


  • Write a blog.

Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


A Detour to the Great Barrier Reef

After a year of packing lunches, attending playgroups, and (shudder) feeding ducks, I am currently unemployed and out of Perth.

The plan was to fly to Sydney, get a connecting flight to Cairns, and spend three days aboard a diving boat in the Great Barrier Reef. Afterwards it’s back to Sydney for a week, then on to America.

So this morning I finished packing, said the rest of my goodbyes, and checked in for my noon flight to the east coast.

Going smoothly so far.

However (isn’t there always a however when travelling?), right before boarding time, we were told that there was going to be a twenty minute delay in the flight. Seeing as I only had one hour to get from one plane to another, this wasn’t great news. But I’ve dashed onto planes before with barely seconds to spare; as long as I get on, that’s all that matters. Although it was still quite inconvenient.

I guess this was one of those times that I was supposed to realize that it can always be worse.

Two and a half hours after boarding the plane, we took off.

You read that correctly.

Things to do while sitting on a stationary plane for two and a half hours:

  • Look out the window at the runway
  • Look at runway employees
  • Hope they do something interesting
  • Look at fingernails
  • Wonder why one fingernail is longer than the others
  • Bite it down so that it’s even
  • Wonder why one fingernail is shorter than the others
  • Bite the rest down so that they’re even
  • Start up a conversation with 76-year-old seat partner Betty
  • Catch only half of what she’s saying as she is very soft spoken
  • Realize that she’s catching only half of what you’re saying as well
  • Realize that you’re having two completely different conversations
  • Pretend to be really interested in runway
  • Remember that it’s not interesting
  • Look back at Betty
  • Remember that she’s not interesting
  • Make a paper airplane
  • Throw it at the row in front of you
  • Blame Betty

Apparently there had been a glitch in the system and there were now more passengers than boarding passes, or vice versa, or something like that. Or maybe the pilot was in the middle of a movie. I couldn’t really hear them. But whatever it was, this was all being done to “ensure the safety and best interests of all passengers.”

The first time, the flight attendants had to walk around the entire plane doing a head count. The second time, they came around to do another head count, in addition to checking our boarding passes and IDs. The third time, I almost stood up and offered to do it myself; I do have a college degree after all. And counting to large numbers is a mandatory skill for obtaining it.

As they were doing the second head count, the flight attendants started sounding like one of those pull-string dolls, giving the same lines over and over.

“We’ve been sitting here for hours.”

Pull the string. “I do apologize for the delay.”

“I’m getting really bored.”

Pull the string. “We thank you so much for your patience.”

“You have a bit of lipstick on your teeth.”

Pull the string. “We are doing this to ensure the safety of all our passengers.”

We finally made it out of Perth, but I did the math and realized there was no way I was going to make it to the Great Barrier Reef in time. I was due to be on the dive boat by 6:30 the next morning, and the next flight out to Cairns wasn’t until 8:55am.

And no matter how many times I asked politely, the pilot refused to make a 1,500 mile detour to drop me off.

Exhausted, starving, and excessively caffeinated (the airline tried to make it up to us by bringing around the beverage cart more often), I landed in Sydney. We were given a hotel room, meal vouchers, and (pull the string) “sincere apologies for any inconvenience.”

By sheer luck, there’s a dive boat going out the day after when mine was set to depart, and I have been transferred to that one instead. But in the meantime, I’m stuck in Sydney.

Now what to do with an entire hotel room to myself…

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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


Is This Fate’s Way of Telling Me I Have Too Much Stuff?

On my flight out here, I was allowed two pieces of luggage, both up to 50lbs each. To most people, that means one suitcase for the big things, and one for anything extra. To me and my never-been-to-Australia-therefore-I-have-NO-idea-what-I’m-going-to-need thought process, that meant cramming as much into my two suitcases as the weight limit would allow.

All I had to do was not purchase anything in the next year, and I would be golden.

Two things ruined that plan; first, I did make many purchases this past year. Second, my flights home are not quite as lenient and only allow one piece of luggage.

Plan B: mail a suitcase home.

Not as extreme as it sounds…if you ship it through sea mail and are willing to wait three months to receive it, it’s fairly reasonable.

As long as it’s under 20 kilos and less than a meter long, they can send it anywhere in the world.

So last night I threw in armloads of winter clothes and postcards and books, all the while weighing and re-weighing (and Googling pounds to kilograms conversion), and praying that it would all fit in and stay under the weight limit. When I finished, I was delighted to find that I had managed to keep it under 20 kilos (or 44.09 lbs).

This morning I strolled through the neighborhood to the bus stop. Sidenote: outside of an airport, it’s really embarrassing to be seen with a suitcase. Especially a large red rolling one.

I made it to the bus stop (stares), onto the bus (more stares), and to the shopping center (don’t you guys have anything better to look at?)

I felt like I was in the middle of a Where’s Waldo? page. Find: the boy eating an ice cream cone, the man in a convertible, the American rolling a suitcase down the street.

I wheeled into the post office, and stood in the line. When my turn came, I walked up to the front, and put my suitcase on the counter. “This is less than 20 kilos, going to America, here are my forms, let’s put them on, tell me what I owe and we can continue with our day.”

But Brenda, the postal worker, didn’t want me to come out of this so cleanly.

Apparently, the postage forms wouldn’t stick to the fabric on the outside of the suitcase. She told me I had to find some way to make them stick and then come back later in the week.

Come back later in the week? But I need this done as soon as possible! Well, the day is young, Brenda. You haven’t seen the last of me.

So there I was, back in the streets, bitterly rolling my suitcase around the Saturday shoppers.

My mind was scraping for possibilities; could I tie the tags on? Could I staple them? Could I wrap the entire suitcase in plastic? Could I claw off the outer cloth?

All of a sudden, it was like a dazzling light shone from the sky, and I knew where to go. My feet abruptly started walking towards Bunnings (American translation: Lowes); I didn’t know what they would do or say, but I somehow knew that they would have a solution.

When I got there, my first priority was to find a shopping cart to wheel my suitcase around in. The stares instantly ceased. Girl with a suitcase: outlandish. Girl with a suitcase loaded onto a shopping cart: acceptable.

I walked around a bit, hoping to maybe stumble into the “Things to Put on Your Fabric-Coated Suitcase to Ensure Adhesiveness of Important Postage Forms” aisle, but to no avail.

I then found the closest Bunnings employee, Phil, and explained my dilemma. Out of sheer luck, he was in the middle of selling a lawn mower, and informed me that the box was just the right size for my suitcase.

Bunnings employee of the month goes to: Phil.

After the box was emptied, I laid my suitcase down to realize that it fit almost perfectly. With a few inches of space on either side, Phil told me he could get some stuffing to put in so that it wouldn’t slide around.

I was escorted into the “Employees Only” section of the store, where the employee of the month pulled out handfuls of plastic to line my box with. As he was filling it up, I managed to slice my finger on the edge of the cardboard. Comparing it to a paper cut would be like comparing a shark bite to a scratch from a declawed kitten.

But I wasn’t in the mood to be deterred.

The blood spattered along the length of the box is a reminder to everyone of the tribulation I underwent in order to get this suitcase out of the country.

Don’t let my body’s rapid healing abilities fool you. It was a ferocious gash.


Spurting hand aside, I taped up my box, bid Phil farewell and went to pay another visit to Brenda.

Back to the post office. Back in the line. I handed the box over to Brenda. She put it on the scale.

“Sorry ma’am, but it’s about two kilos overweight.”

Oh Brenda! Did Phil call you? Did he put you up to this? That Phil! He knows exactly how to push my buttons. I mean come on, there’s no way a cardboard box could possibly weigh that much. Good one guys! So can we ship it out now?

But Brenda showed me the scale…21.87 kilos.

Once she convinced me that the scale wasn’t broken, I was escorted to the corner of the post office where I could rip open the box that I had so carefully taped together and pull out two kilos worth of my belongings. Two kilos worth of stuff that I was certain I would NEED when I got home, that I was sure I could live three months but not a day longer without. Button-down that I hadn’t worn all year but still mostly fit and never needs ironing? Out. Sky blue dress that expertly hides love handles? Out. Vegetarian Festival 2011 t-shirt? As if I would ever discard that.

I finally weeded out enough weight, taped it all back together, kissed my belongings goodbye, and shipped it back to America.

My suitcase was out of my hands, but I had to walk around the rest of the day with two kilos of my possessions. Two kilos that should have been en route to America, but were strapped to me, walking the streets of Australia instead. It was like a haunting reminder that this is the last time I would ever see them again. It felt like I was taking a puppy for her last outing before dropping her off at the pound.

They had no idea they wouldn’t be accompanying me back to America. They had no idea their fate was to spend the rest of their lives in Australia, being passed around from second-hand store to second-hand store, eventually ending up in a landfill and never making it out of the country again.

“Don’t worry guys, I’ll take you to all your favorite places one last time. You love the washing machine! And the dryer? I’ll put it on extra fluffy like you like it.”

So, the good news is, my 19.92 kilo suitcase is currently on a ship to America.

The bad news is, it doesn’t really have seemed to make a dent in my wardrobe.

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Posted by on August 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


Dear Mother…

Dear Mother,

I hope you are well. How is the weather in Virginia? I’ve got some very exciting news that I wanted to share with you immediately.

I will not be returning home in a few weeks as planned. I’ve met the love of my life here in Australia and have decided to stay.

It was late at night yesterday evening. I was waiting for the bus home, when a man standing a few feet away from me asked the time. It was something about his dreamy accent, the way his white ribbed tank top hit every curve at exactly the right spots, how his chest hair peaked out just enough to spark intrigue, the way his jean shorts were cut off at just the right length on his upper thigh. I know I’ve always said I don’t believe in love at first sight, but Mom, that’s changed. I met The One last night, I’m certain.

It wasn’t a trail of smoke from his cigarette that was encircling him, but a celestial cloud from above. It wasn’t the intense glow of fluorescent lights from the bus station, but most certainly a halo hovering perfectly above his head.

As fate would choose, we were getting on the very same bus and ended up getting lost in conversation the entire way home.

And Mother, let me tell you, you would LOVE him. He’s everything you ever told me to look for in a man.

He’s in his mid 40’s, so you know that he’s mature, wise, and full of life experience.

He’s employed, so would inevitably be able to look after me and all of our future children. And he works hard Mom! Some weeks he told me he puts in three full hours, but on busy weeks, he’ll be at it for four. That kind of dedication is rare these days, as you know.

I don’t want to be shallow, but just by looking at him you can see how much of a catch he is. He obviously respects the customs of an older generation, plus the convenience of a modest hairstyle. I’ve always felt that the mullet had yet to go out of style, and he’s proven me right.

And that’s not all you can tell from his appearance. His dark, wiry mustache made me realize how much he loves children.

It was right before the bus pulled into my stop that he asked the question that would change my life forever.

I had revealed to him that my time in Australia was quickly coming to an end and how regretful I was to leave. I hoped that he would get my insinuation, and Mom, he did! He somehow knows the ins and outs of the Australian government, and informed me that, were we to get married, I would be granted citizenship. My heart fluttered out of my chest and I said yes immediately.

Because of his economical nature, he doesn’t want to waste money on an expensive wedding. We will be wed next week to avoid my impending deportation.

I know you always wanted to be a part of my wedding, but I’m afraid you’ll have to settle for photos.

I’m sorry to give you this news so suddenly, but as you’ve always told me, love comes when we’re least expecting it. Once you meet him, you’ll understand.

I hope this letter finds you well.

All my love,                                                                                                               Rachel

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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Uncategorized



It has come to my attention that the last post I wrote about Bonnie’s playgroup was perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. Last September when I arrived here, I observed that all these women do is drink coffee and complain about their husbands. Now that I’ve been attending playgroup for nearly a year, I realize I was horribly mistaken. There are tons of other important things that moms talk about:

  • How to make Play Doh from scratch
  • Casseroles
  • Best ways to get pregnant
  • How to ensure that you’ll have a boy
  • Santa Claus
  • The best local day cares
  • The best local schools
  • How expensive day care is
  • How pregnancy has affected our bodies
  • Things our kids will eat
  • Childbirth
  • The Wiggles
  • The cute things our kids do
  • How developmentally ahead our kids are
  • The best hospital to give birth
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
  • How we never have time for makeup anymore
  • How we never have time to do our hair anymore
  • The illnesses we encountered during childbirth
  • How many more kids we’re planning to have
  • Breast feeding
  • Facebook
  • The most annoying kids shows
  • The most educational kids shows
  • The most trippy kids shows
  • Birth control
  • Teething
  • Why we’re better mothers than our own mothers
  • What we were doing when our waters broke
  • C-sections
  • The best child names
  • The difference between having a boy and having a girl
  • Morning sickness
  • Twilight
  • The benefits of amber necklaces (I still don’t get it.)
  • Weight Watchers
  • Gluten-free
  • Potty training
  • The best diaper brands
  • How all our money goes to our kids
  • How old is too old for a pacifier
  • Ironing
  • Soap operas


But don’t worry, they still have time to complain about their husbands.

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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Uncategorized