19 June 2010

Rocky Mountain High

I'm supposed to be sleeping right now.  Somehow, however, jet lag hasn't set in yet (or maybe my body's just too confused to rebel), so I'm up, writing instead of drifting into an Ambien-induced slumber. 

Well, I made it!  Yay Colorado!  After 20 hours, five cups of (bad) coffee, four in-flight movies, three flights, two lonely apples sacrificed to the quarantine gods, and a partridge in a pear tree, I'm finally in the land of thin air.  Couldn't be happier.  I actually broke out into a huge grin when I walked off the massive A380 in L.A.  That should tell you something right there - why else would I be happy to be landing in L.A. other than it's one step closer to CO?

This is what I saw when I looked out my window:

Then, when I landed, I saw my fabulous friend Amy, who picked me up in her fabulous little red Audi and heroically drove me (in style) through rush hour traffic to the home of my other fabulous friend, Tetyana, who will be hosting me for the foreseeable future.  Just kidding.  Only until she decides to kick me out.  Then we ate melons and went to the dog park and oh, it was wonderful.

More later.  It's good to be back.

18 June 2010

Tourist, Take Two

Today is officially my last day in Melbourne!  I'm feeling a little bit happy and a little bit sad.  Of course I'm psyched to be heading back to Colorado for a few weeks before moving to Singapore, but I'll definitely miss it here - it's a very easy and fun place to live.  Great friends, great food, great coffee, great things to see and do...  Ah, I'm getting a little misty now.  Damn it!

I'll save the emotional stuff for another time.  Right now there's something even more important to document: my frantic last-minute attempt to do way too many random things I never got around to doing in the last eight months because "I'm living here so I'll have plenty of time to do it all... later."  Well, it's later.  Really later.  And as I sat last Thursday night looking over my list, it occurred to me that this whole thing might be a tad ambitious.  But then I ate some chocolate and the bad thoughts went away.

I've decided to document some of the the things I did this week - as well as some things I didn't get around to doing.  Just for laughs.  Also, because I have been informed that I owe it to my public (a.k.a., my husband and my mom and the possibly three other people who read this thing) to blog.  So blog I will - packing be damned. 

Here's my list.  I've also included whether I got around to doing the thing on the list, and some notes on how the thing did or did not get accomplished.  Also, if I felt like it, I graded the experience.

1.  Dandenongs.  Mountains east of town.  I use the term "mountains" loosely.  Pretty, though - smelled like eucalypts, one of my new favorite odors.  Hiked the Thousand Steps and ate scones with multitudes of cheerful Indian tourists.  Also, inexplicably, visited a puppet shop.  Unfortunately, did not purchase any puppets.


Thousand Steps!


2.  Melbourne Laneway Commissions.  Hint: look up.  More street art.  My fave laneway has been redecorated.  I still love it.  Grade: always an A+.

3.  Sensory Lab (a.k.a. one of the millions of coffee shops in Melbourne that I have grievously neglected, despite my best efforts).  It is no longer neglected.  In fact, they now have $6 of my husband's hard-earned money.  Good coffee.  Just the tiniest bit pretentious, but that was ok because of said magnificent coffee.

4.  State Library (inside).  I say "inside" because I've been "outside" the library lots of times, but never actually stepped through the doors.  I went inside this time.  There were guards.  One guard asked me what I had in my bag.  I said "gym clothes.  Is that OK?"  He said as long as i wasn't going to eat my clothes, it was fine.  Dodged a bullet there!  The library is large, parts of it are creaky, parts of it are modern, and parts of it are actually an art museum.  With red paint and very dead people hanging on the walls.  Verdict: Library: A (I have a soft spot for libraries); Museum: C (meh).  No photos inside, unfortunately. 

5.  Mr. Tulk (inside the inside of the State Library).  You guessed it, another coffee shop.  I liked it better than Sensory Lab, mostly because I got a piece of orange cake along with my coffee.  That's not really Sensory Lab's fault, but whatever.  Yes it is.

6.  Ian Potter Museum.  At Melbourne University.  Yeah.  I got halfway there on the tram and lost interest.  At this point... fuck museums.  Moving on!

7.  Black Light Mini Golf.  Rumored to have "one of Melbourne's most amazing holes" (clearly the selling point in this scenario).  In Docklands.  Therefore, was deemed unacceptably far away.  Reluctant fail.

8.  Eat a meat pie.  I've been here for 8 months and haven't tried one.  So, I tried one today at a shop whose sign said that its pies were "legendary."  Can't get much better than that.  Because I simply could not get past the image of mucous-y peas mixed with a few gristly lumps of gray meat, I got a "Chicken, Leek & Swiss Cheese" pie instead of beef.  Verdict: crust was good.  Chicken was ok.  Cheese was mucous-y.  Grade: about what I expected.  No grade necessary; I just won't be eating pies. EVER.  AGAIN.

9.  Victoria Market.  Had to revisit this one to pick up some crucial last-minute supplies.  Otherwise known as the most vulgar Australia souvenirs ever - think plastic boomerangs and continent-shaped ashtrays.  Or, you know, a mankini.  Friends: get ready for some awesome gifts!

10.  Burger Monster.  Supposed to have the best burgers in town.  However, I gave this a pass for two reasons: first, it was in the Docklands and, really, I couldn't be bothered even trying to figure out how to get there; and second, let's face it: Aussies don't do burgers.  Decided to wait (impatiently) for some quality at Southern Sun.

11. The Public Purse.  Kind of hilarious meta-sculpture outside the General Post Office, which has been converted into a high-end mall.  The sculpture was fun.  The mall was too expensive.  Boo.

12.  Brunch with Erin.  Yes, we got that done!  Yay!  Chris and I met up with Erin, Peter, and Peter's three adorable children at a place called the Blue Plate in Hampton.  Amazing food.  Got to see my good friend (and fellow nicnkamee) E.  Chris got to show off his latest gadget, and the kids got to tell us all about the latest Shrek movie.  Also, the food was amazing.  Did I already say that?


So what have I learned from this experience?  Without descending too far into cliche, that's more than I can possibly fit into this space (and I don't even know if I can actually describe it all anyway).  Maybe that's best discussed over time, over beers, over a campfire, over roasted javelina at Canyon Ranch... who can say?  I do know that I did learn something from my list: you can spend eight months in a place, trying to be a resident instead of a tourist, and at the end of it two things are evident: first, you will always have a little bit of tourist in you; and second, you can live here for years and still discover, almost daily, little (or big) things about this city that surprise and - just maybe - delight you.

Melbourne: it's been a privilege.  I already weep bitter tears over the thought of having to drink Starbucks for the foreseeable future.

PS.  Contrary to popular belief, I am NOT obsessed with food (as the photos above might seem to indicate).  Just coffee.  That is all.

11 June 2010

Told Ya!

Just in case anyone didn't believe my previous post about obedient Melbourne doggies waiting outside for their owners...


Let Them Eat Cake (etc.)

Let's talk about stress, baby.

People have different reactions to stress.  Some people eat.  Some read insipid women's magazines (BTW, do they really have to be filed under "women's interest" when everyone knows they end up as bathroom reading material for men?  Discuss!).  Some exercise obsessively.  Some troll the internet for vacuous articles about celebrity weight-loss secrets.  Some nap.  Some shop (or fake-shop by visiting stores over and over again, bitterly, without actually buying anything).  Some drink frightening quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Some burst into tears in the middle of a crowded noontime city bustle.  Some glare at smokers until they toss their cigarettes on the ground and scurry away in shame.  Some take craploads of Valium.  While I can't claim to be innocent of many of these particular vices, I also can't blame stress for them (let's face it: these are just regular daily activities for me).

When I'm stressed, I bake.

That's my dirty little secret.  And it turns out that emotional baking can actually lead to stress - especially if one consumes the end product of said baking frenzy in one evening/for breakfast/while on the phone to one's nutritionist.  See above re. obsessive exercising.

I try not to make the same thing twice, but (unfortunately for my non-chocolate-loving husband) I'm a sucker for all things chocolate.  There have definitely been encores of certain brownies and cupcakes.  My most recent endeavor is a repeat: yes, I'm talking about chocolate cake.  Doesn't need frosting.  Just needs to get in my belly.

The picture doesn't really do it justice, but who the hell cares?

I think my next project will be chocolate chip cherry cookies.  Why?  Two reasons: (1) I need some serious stress relief right now (screw yoga); and (2) um... look at them.

Why do I need stress relief?  Stay tuned: I'm still trying to figure out how to make it funny enough to post here.