Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Library Lounging

I'm in what was previously the "Sydney Customs House," what I'm guessing is the Australian equivalent to Ellis Island, where they have established a very fancy library with art exhibitions and all. Feels more like MOMA than WPPL, aside from the general slowness of the computers - I type and then the words appear several seconds later.

The libraries here have been remarkably open to having me as a part time resident - I've been to three. The first has a waiting list for Michael Chabon's new book "Yiddish Policeman's Union" which is probably longer than the book itself. The second doesn't lend books (but remarkably has somewhat fast wireless Internet for free). This third one doesn't have YPL, and it's been on order for about 50 days. "We don't have a very good system" the librarian admitted.

On the brighter side, the weather has improved - nope, wait, it hasn't. It's actually still raining, but this didn't stop Rupal and I from stripping the paint off some furniture we found, sanding it down, and painting it purple. That was not a typo, but it did appear to take longer to display on the screen, as if the computer actually hesitated to document the fact that we chose purple as the color we wanted to paint a piece of furniture which looked like the remains of a shipwreck to begin with. But alas, we needed something to match our bright blue couch. We are trying to give our flat a "Clockwork Orange" meets "2001 Space Odyssey" meets "The Pursuit of Happiness" motif.

The pictures I upload at some point will give this previous sentence some meaning, someday, when we actually move in fully - which is dependant on the painter coming, which is dependant on Aussies not working 4 day weeks from now until this completely fictional "drought" forces Sydneysiders to abandon the city (evidently this is eminent by 2009, so I was told). Here is the progression of my discussion with our painting professional, the lovable old James:
  1. Tuesday: Landlord sends James email requesting work, formally known as a Job Request
  2. Wednesday: James reads "Calvin and Hobbes" and eats Twinkies all day
  3. Thursday: Landlord calls James to follow up on email*
  4. Friday: Josh calls James to schedule a time for James to paint
  5. James is at a pub, but will sort out his schedule and call Josh back - but before saying anything he needs Job Request email from Landlord (see #1)
  6. Monday: Josh calls James to follow up
  7. James is at a job/pub, but will sort out his schedule and call Josh back. "Look mate, I need a job request before anything - but my email is broken. Plus I'm working a 4 day week."
  8. Josh's head explodes, painting the walls in a vivid red spat

*This could be fictional

Ta for now!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Curious about the weather in Sydney?

Click here, and bring a raincoat.

Brief apartment update, and some more visuals

Things are steadily moving along - our apartment is feeling like home little by little - baby steps. For example, on Monday I go to our leasing agent and ask him to have our blinds fixed. The next Monday two lads come by to take measurements. The following Monday our landlord receives an estimate. The next Monday, the blinds get fixed. And so on.

By the time we move out, I assume that all of my initial requests (ie new paint job) will be considered. Life has at least a 2 week lag here. Getting broadband internet in Sydney is a nightmare.

In accordance with the general mandate that everything in Australia be difficult, I had to carry all of these packages across the street and up the stairs with zero help from UPS guy

Our first homecooked meal!

I wanted to do an entire blog entry on why Ikea is the best store on the planet, until I realized that we actually bought these things to store ice.

Storm photo of the day

Laksa soup photo of the day

Rupal crossing ahead

You know repeating paterns sweatshirts are done when knockoffs appear at Paddy markets
In case anyone is interested, it is still raining. It's been raining for almost two weeks. "Most rain in 45 years."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Birthday Ambivalence

It's my birthday today and it is odd celebrating so far from home. I should preface this by noting that I think I have had some kind of party / get together every single year of my life. I didn't want to make a production out of it, forcing people who just met me to feel obligated to celebrate me, and I don't to reveal my age at work, so it was an intimate dinner with Jodi and Kai in Surry Hills with a 'surprise outing' to come (Josh makes everything a 'surprise', even the Sunday paper).

I think this weekend was the first weekend that Josh and I felt a bit homesick. More accurately, 'friends and family'-sick. We don't miss the United States (except for the luxurious customer service that every business offers), we miss people. It's sad to not talk to my parents on my birthday. It's hard keeping in touch with all the friends that you love. I predict that it's going to be very difficult to leave Sydney in a couple years, but we're going to be ready to.

It is nice to have a birthday on the first weekend in Sydney that we're relatively settled in as an engaged couple. This birthday came at the perfect time for me to reflect at how exciting and positive the last year has been.

Happy birthday, Paul McCartney.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Chuck Dollarsign

Chuck$ is getting serious

Buy U A Drank (Chuck Dollarsign Edit).mp3

I'm reading Bill Bryson's Under a Sunburned Country and he repeatedly writes about how Australians are truly at the mercy of the climate. The last five days were an almost comical example of that. It hasn't rained at all since I've been here (nor had it in months), and then it came. Starting Thursday, the Great Flood part deux arrived. It rained. At some points, we though our apartment would collapse. It was raining from the floor.

The Aussies love to complain about the weather should it hit anywhere below 75 degrees or if there are more than two clouds in the sky. I think they like to complain just for the sake of complaining, because as they're bitching about the weather, they embrace it. No matter what the weather, there are always people drinking their long blacks and eating their chocolate cake outside (and blowing smoke in our face). It's pretty great.
It's beautiful here. Unbelievably, unconditionally beautiful. The weather, the flowers, the trees (little known fact: the trees here were imported from Jurassic Park), the birds, the shop(pes).


The Up Side of Down Under

While Josh has only covered about half of the hell we went through over the last 8 weeks, I want to fill the glass at least half way up. A few random bits of happiness that Sydney has already offered:

-Sushi costs A$3.00 for the freshest salmon you've ever tasted. And the soy sauce comes in little squeezable plastic containers shaped like fish with red screw on tops.
-The dogs here are extra hilarious. See pics for examples.
-"Winter" here gets down to a bone-chilling 50 degrees.
-Starcom Sydney has a high end espresso / cappuccino machine
-Cockatoos are very common
-We live about 3.5 miles from a surfable beach
-The most amazing harbor in the world
-It rained on Thursday and some people here don't own umbrellas (I dont know if it's stupidity)
-It's strange if you don't drink at business lunches

Friday, June 8, 2007

Minor Update

I'm going to teach Rupal how to update this over the weekend, so expect some fun stuff from her in the next few days.

I'm sitting in the Hotel Altamont borrowing some internet until we get set up with ours. The people here are AWESOME. I just wrote a great review on TripAdvisor, and if you are in town I highly recommend it here. Keep in mind we checked out like 5 days ago, and they chat me up every time I walk in. Great people.

No photos to document our new flat yet, but I'll get on that once we are completely set up. For now, just a list of things we have acquired (from 6 independent sellers, who were extremely nice to us):
  1. washing machine
  2. refrigerator
  3. couch
  4. patio glass table and chairs
  5. bed
  6. 2 bedside tables
  7. 2 large dressers
  8. 4 large plants (I should say trees)
  9. a desk (which we probably will get rid of)
  10. solid oak shelf unit
  11. a tiny tv and a tiny table
  12. a rug
  13. 2 lamps
  14. glasses and bowls
  15. road bike
  16. bad backs
I just sealed the deal on our round kitchen table and chairs - will be delivered in the next few days - which means all we are really missing is a coffee table. If you know anyone... Also the 13 UPS packages I sent, whch are over a week late. They are held up in customs (obviously).

Note - the exchange rate has worsened, which makes spending Rupal's money even easier.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Coachella Propels Us Forward

Here are two sad testaments to abruptly leaving a country - the chair had a "FREE" sign on it.

Rupal and I are in Sydney, Australia. Describing the events leading up to this would be incredibly boring due to the administrative nature of packing, selling, shipping, and moving; we will try our very best to keep this from being a laundry list of things that have happened, and rather paint an engaging (get it, engaging) story of how drasticly our lives have been altered, and hopefully shed some light on the whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa, Osama Bin Laden, and perhaps Waldo.

Here is the first rule of moving internationally - I think it was invented by a physicist. It's called Murphy's Law. Basically whatever could possibly go wrong in any given situation will go wrong. I think Murphy's law is dependant upon making assumptions, because he was a physicist. And a complete jerk.

Assuming these are good ideas would lead any mathmatical formula to blow up:
  1. Rupal moving to Sydney without Josh
  2. Rupal moving to Sydney without a visa
  3. Rupal moving to Sydney without a return ticket
  4. Josh moving to Sydney without a job
  5. Josh selling all of the crap he has accumulated from being a packrat for 26 years
  6. Josh spending his last 2 weeks in the US traveling MDW->LGA->MDW->ORD->ALB->LGA->ORD->MDW->STL->CHI (via train)->MDW->LAX->NAN (FIJI)->SYD
  7. Just to clarify, that is 13 airports in about 16 days
  8. Shipping over 500lbs of womens shoes and pashminas
  9. Dr. Veramendi getting a doctorate
  10. Dr. Veramendi sending chest x-ray's the the Australian government when this is his sole responsibility
  11. Dr. Veramendi being one of two doctors in Chicago who are certified to do this task
  12. Dr. Veramendi not being the most incompetent doctor on planet earth
  13. Giving Josh enough free time to have any creative expression whatsoever
  14. Proposing to the woman you love 3 days before she flys to another country, continent, time zone, date, and season
Things we've told ourselves:
  • "Making false assumptions is a part of living, right?"
  • "Some day we'll look back on all this and laugh laugh laugh" (What Rupal said at 9pm when I was on the floor pinned between the two wheels of my new bike while trying to move it down stairs with a heavy spider plant).
  • "Why is everything so difficult in this country?"
    • Why do all apartments come with dryers, but not washers? Actually this is a government mandate. Any flat's which have a washer connection must have a dryer in the apartment.
    • Why do no apartments come with fridges? No reason. Just to make things difficult.
Best Idea I ever had:
  • Starting a joint bank account the minute I'm unemployed
Just so you don't stop reading now, here is our photoblog. fotblog. Picturlog. Pictures:

Why my last day of packing was so difficult

Welcome to Fiji

Welcome to the Blue Mountains

Welcome to Asian food paradise

Cut Copy - Bring Like Neon Love Is Right

We live THATAWAY about 4 blocks East of Hyde Park

Randoms of Sydney - Paddy Markets, crazy tree sculpture, and MC DONALDS?????

If you were wondering why our visas were held up:

Rupal killed this poor baby kangaroo. The Aussies weren't too happy about that.

So now we are busy with setting up our new flat. Last night the "relocaters" made 4 stops! We now own a fridge, a washing machine, a bed, a patio table and chairs, and a tv that is basically hand held. Send some love!