Looked at my kingdom, I was finally there…

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Well, it has been a little while, hasn’t it? I sort of had a spell of blog fatigue there coupled with a spurt of seasonal affective social networking withdrawal, but really I’ve just been too busy. Yeah, yeah, everyone’s busy but for those few loyal readers/family members here’s a litany of excuses:

  1. I have a new job. Well, not a new job per se, but a new contract. A lovely, long term, stable contract. Tenure track. Serenity. With that new job, however, comes new responsibilities and new expectations. Establishing a research program, supervising graduate students. No more money though. But security is priceless.
  2. I have, under my academic tutelage, about 600 nursing or pre-nursing students who take up a surprising amount of time. You wouldn’t thing that several hundred 18 or 19 year old (mostly) girls would be that high maintenance, but by jiminy they are. Don’t get me wrong, they’re lovely. After a couple of semesters of teaching them, I’m absolutely enchanted with my charges. They aren’t the most academically rigourous students in the world, but they’ve signed on to do what has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world and they’re great fun to teach. And the lecture halls smell much better after the nursing students have been in there then some of the more co-educational courses. But, man do they require a lot of attention around exam time. I’m glad we’re in the waning days of the semester and three months of summer break is on the horizon.
  3. IMG_8484I’m writing a book. Well, not a book per se, but some chapters in a text book. Chapters that I’ve had six weeks to do before the due date (Monday) and decided to start approximately two days ago. In fact, what the hell am I doing right now? I should be writing about intracellular signalling.
  4. I have two kids under four and a puppy. Enough said.
  5. (Deep breaths). We’re buying a house. I know people buy houses every day. Well, maybe not anymore in the U.S., but in much of the world I know people buy houses every day. But when our landlords told us they we’re selling our house and Dr. O’C decided it was time to get on that mythical property ladder, my stomach spontaneously twisted itself into a knot that I can’t seem to untie. We went through weeks of looking at horrible overpriced houses – the property market hasn’t dropped out in Australia – weeks of debate about passable houses. Then, one weekend we shuffled into the house. The only one that we both loved. Then there were weeks of haggling and hair pulling with the estate agent from hell. But today, the contract is signed, the loan is approved and we’re on the verge of being homeowners.

I think I’m as frightened as I am excited.

Those of you who are locals and recognise today’s song of the day, which has been on an endless loop in my head for the last few weeks, may be able to work out the neck of the woods in which we’ll be laying our head in a few short weeks.

Well, that’s my litany of excuses. I don’t know if I’m back for good or just popping my head up for a quick hello. Either way, in the words of the Fresh Prince, I might as well kick it.

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“You’ll never take me alive”, said he.

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Saturday was our two year immi-versary, the anniversary of our immigration to Australia. I stumbled off of a 24 hour flight into to the blazing South Australian with Dr. O’C and a seven month old Boy Z. I’d never been to Australia and despite befriending several natives (including the one I had lived with for seven years) and doing extensive research into my Antipodean future home, I hadn’t a clue what to expect of the place. I was jobless, carless and clueless. It certainly wasn’t my first move, it wasn’t even my first international move. But I’ve never felt so lost.

We arrived the day before ANZAC Day. I hadn’t a clue what an ANZAC was, nevermind why he/she/it/they had a day. All I knew was that when I managed to wander my way down to the closest grocery store to the faceless suburb into which we had landed was that it was closed up tight.

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Two years later I’m not quite as lost. Inexplicably I’ve still got Dr. O’C. I’ve got a two-and-a-half year old budding fascist dictator in Boy Z and his rapidly growing lieutenant, Not Max. I know my away around my adopted city like I’m a native. I’ve got a job that I love a car that Dr. O’C keeps bashing up and a place to lay my head with a sea view when I wake up. I even know where to buy a carton of milk on ANZAC Day.

More importantly, I’ve come to feel at home in my home. I don’t feel Australian, but I feel comfortable among the Australians. I feel a part of Australia, that I can participate in things Australian. I feel a part of, something that I haven’t in the six and a half years since I left the country of my birth.

And I can tell you about ANZAC day. It’s a day of remembrance for the Australian and (less importantly) New Zealand Army Corps that fought at Gallipoli in World War I. The Battle of Gallipoli involved allied British and French troops landing in Turkey in a futile attempt to take Constantinople from the Turks. It involved a significant Australian presence and something like 8,000 Australian casualties. They tell us on ANZAC Day, that Gallipoli helped to established Australian national identity. I find it a bit odd that a thrashing at the hands of the Turks marks the beginning of Australian national consciousness, but it’s one of those idiosyncrasies that make Australians such a winsome people.

So the groceries stores are closed and there are dawn services around the country and in Gallipoli. And we have biscuits. And football. And I’ve learned, on this my third ANZAC Day and the second anniversary of my arrival in this enchanting corner of the world, that if you get out of the way and let it, life keeps getting better from one year to the next.

April 2008

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April 2009

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April 2010

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Consider what he says to you, consider what’s to come

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Back in the the days B.C., a four day weekend was all about rejuvenation of body and spirit. I used to gloat to friends and family about the liberal amount time off for Easter we were privy to in the Commonwealth while they were slaving away in their American sweat shops.

These days, the days of parenthood, a four day weekend for Easter is all about trying to stay sane around a toddler whose had chocolate for breakfast and to fit in a bit of sleep around a baby who doesn’t recognise the sanctity of night time.

And counting the hours until I get to go back to work and relax.

Late summer and early autumn is festival season in Adelaide. We’ve got the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Womadelaide, Writer’s Week. Err, the Clipsal 500 if we stretch the definition of ‘festival’. With the arrival of autumn in earnest, and the anticipation of the brutal South Australian winter, most of the festival events have tailed off but we managed to make it out to the last evening of the Northern Lights with a strung-out toddler and sleeping baby in tow.

For those of you who haven’t visited our fair city, most of the buildings of any historical/architectural significance are clustered together on the northern side of the city center. The festival folks project images onto the buildings – slam, bam Northern Lights. Sounds a bit naff, but it is pretty spectacular in real life. Especially if you’re two. Or 38 in the realm of a 2 year old. A realm in which nothing is naff.

Anyway, I – and by ‘I’ I mean Dr. O’C – took some pretty nifty photos, here are some of my favourites from the Northern Lights:

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There isn’t a lot of ‘Easter music’ out there, but I went back to Sufjan Stevens‘ “Seven Swans” with its unapologetic Christian overtones. I was feeling a bit bad about having been so flippant about Jesus and all.