Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day

Today is Boxing Day here in Australia. No, it has nothing to do with fighting your relatives. There are many different theories as to the origin of Boxing Day and what it means, which you can read about here. For Australians, there are three big events that happen: the after Christmas sales at department stores, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and the Boxing Day Test cricket match at the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG). About 72,000 people turned out for the first day of the test match against South Africa. As for myself, I went to see King Kong this evening. The movie is great and the special effects are incredible. I thought Naomi Watts did a really wonderful job acting and making you feel sympathy for King Kong. Definitely check it out on the big screen- you'll walk out amazed.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Chrismukkah!

I have survived my first Australian Christmas. The morning began with a phone call from my family. They were kind enough to FedEx me my Christmas gifts this week, as well as send a floral arrangement for my table since I didn't get a tree. Mom tortured me by reciting the menu for Christmas dinner and brunch the following day. I'm jealous I can't be there to eat all the yummy food! After getting off the phone I headed to mass at St. Ambrose's Church. I spent the afternoon relaxing at home, and then went out for dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant with my friend Ben (he took pity on me). Weather wise, it wasn't a hot Christmas as today was partly cloudy and mild. That's ok though- I'll have enough hot days to deal with in the upcoming months.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy Birthday Michelle!

Today is Michelle's 28th birthday, so she decided to celebrate with a barbecue at her place. We started with snacks in the backyard and then moved on to salads and a cornucopia of barbecued meats. Desert was a stack of Krispy Kreme donuts (with candles and sparklers) that Ruth and Danny brought back with them from Sydney airport.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Crack Up

Last night I went to the HiFi Bar for an evening of comedy. During this time of the year, laughter is very important. The show featured a wide variety of comedians: straight stand-up, character driven pieces, and musical comedy acts. It was a top night of entertainment.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Kalorama Christmas

Today I went up to Peter and Mark's house for a Christmas party. Rosemaree was kind enough to let me ride up with her. The weather today was showers, so there was some debate as to whether we should eat outside or in. Peter decided on outside, but we ended up moving the tables under the overhang when raindrops started to fall. A minute later is was pouring rain and hailing! After the deluge the sun came out for a bit, and then we had more spots of rain. However, it didn't matter, because Peter and Mark had cooked a huge feast for all of us to eat. All the food was delicious and I was so full by the end of lunch! Presents were opened in the games room by the Christmas tree. I got the boys a lantern from Dusk (the Australian equivalent of Illuminations) that they can use outside. After relaxing and chatting for a bit it was time to head home. Thanks Peter and Mark for such a great afternoon.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Channel V Bus Show

This afternoon I headed down to Federation Square for the free Channel V Bus show. Channel V is a music station here in Australia (like MTV). Today's show featured Rogue Traders and my faves The Living End. There were about 5,000 people who turned up for the show in some very hot weather. I staked out a spot near the side of the sound board along a railing. It was a good spot because I avoided all the overexcited teens and had a view of the big screen above the stage. VJs Andrew G and Sumi did interviews and crowd segments between videos and the bands playing. They did their best to keep the crowd calm and safe.

Rogue Traders played four songs and had to deal with some boos from the crowd (not deserved at all). Once The Living End came out the place went nuts. Security was a bit slack because several people made it up onto the stage- guitar tech Matty was having to tackle some of them. It was a rocking 45 minute set, so if you have Channel V, check out the repeats over the next few days.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Driver's License

You would think that getting a driver's license here in Australia would be difficult. After all, in California you have to do the written test, and then a driving test. They check your eyes and make sure you have driving insurance. When you pass through all those hurdles (and pay your money), then the state sends you your license in the mail. Well, today I went to VicRoads and after about 20 minutes I walked out the door with a driver's license in my hand! Even though they drive on the other side of the road and have different road rules, I didn't have to take any tests. All VicRoads needed was $42, and proof that I live here and already have a valid license in the US. That's it! Who knows when I'll actually use this driver's license, but at least I have one now.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I flew into Sydney on Thursday, December 1st around midday and then hopped onto the Airport Link train for the 12 minute ride into the city (I wish Melbourne had public transport to and from the airport). I got off at Museum Station and walked up the street to the Y Hotel. The Y Hotel is great because it is centrally located and cheap. I stayed there way back in 1996 with the University of California group when I arrived in Australia for the first time. After checking in and unpacking some stuff, I headed out for a walk. First I went up Oxford Street, but they were doing sidewalk construction, so after a few blocks I turned back and headed toward Hyde Park. I walked past the ANZAC War Memorial, and down to the Queen Victoria Building. There are lots of great shops in the QVB, so I wandered around and got some Christmas shopping done. I also checked out the great architecture in this historic building. After a couple of hours it was time to head back to the hotel and get ready for the Finn Brothers concert that night.

On Friday I spent the day being a tourist. I walked past St. Mary's Cathedral on the way down to the Sydney Opera House. From there I walked to Circular Quay, and then onto The Rocks. It was incredibly hot and humid (31 degrees C/88 degrees F) and I was dying outside. A breeze did start to kick up in the afternoon, which made it a bit more bearable. I had a delicious chocolate thickshake from the Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream stand to cool down. The Rocks area has lots of shops and restaurants, but I refrained from spending money in them. When I couldn't handle the heat anymore I made the long trek back to the hotel. I walked past the Domain so I could check out the situation for Homebake. That evening there were huge thunderstorms, so I spent the night indoors.

Saturday I was at the Domain enjoying the Homebake Festival (see below). On Sunday I had some time to kill before my flight home so I checked out a Scottish Heritage celebration in Hyde Park, and also looked at the Christmas windows at David Jones. They have animated "The Night Before Christmas" this year. Myer in Melbourne has done The Santa Kid. Animated windows are big for the department stores here. Around 11:30 am I headed to the train station and caught the train back to the airport. The flight to Melbourne was a bit rough because of high winds, but I made it home in one piece. I will post pictures once I get my film developed.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Today was the Homebake Festival at the Domain in Sydney. After a night of thunderstorms, thankfully the weather held today. It was warm with periodic cloud cover, which provided some time out of the sun. The show was sold out (20,000 tickets) and the lines to get in were huge when the gates opened at 11:00 am. Once I entered I had a wander around the grounds. Along with the stages there were merchandise and food tents scattered about. The food was pretty good considering it was a festival show, and not overpriced.

As you can see from the timetable, there were four stages going at the same time. I spent most of the afternoon at the Dome Stage and caught sets by Expatriate, Architecture in Helsinki, The Go Betweens, and Sarah Blasko. I then headed toward the Main Stage for the end of Wolfmother's set, and stayed there for the rest of the evening. I got a nice spot by the sound board along a front barricade, so I could lean against something as well as watch the big screen. Ben Lee was his usual optimistic self and threw flowers to the crowd when he came out. The Living End rocked and the place went nuts, which wasn't that surprising considering how drunk a lot of people were. I got to hear a couple more new songs from their upcoming album, which was cool. The evening ended with the Finn Brothers, and I made my way up to the front of the stage to get as close as I could. Their set was pretty similar to what they did at The Enmore Theatre on Thursday night. The crowd sang along to the Crowded House and Split Enz numbers, but didn't seem to know the latest material. They played for an hour and a half and then the show ended at 11 p.m. because of curfew. It was an amazing day of music, and I was exhausted by the time I got back to my hotel.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Finn Brothers

Tonight I got to see another fantastic concert- this time by the Finn Brothers. This show was a secret warm-up for the Homebake Festival on Saturday. They played at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney, which is a lovely art deco venue. Now, for those of you who don't know, I am a huge fan of Neil and Tim Finn. Their musical careers go back to the 1970s, starting with Tim's band Split Enz (which Neil joined in the late 70s). When the Enz broke up in 1984, Neil and Paul Hester went on to form Crowded House. I have been a massive Crowded House fan since 1987, and have followed Neil's solo career since Crowded House broke up in 1996. Last year Neil and Tim released their second brother's album "Everyone Is Here," and these are the last concerts they will be performing as the Finn Brothers for a while.

What made this show extra special was the band the Finns had joining them. On piano was Eddie Rayner, who played in Split Enz, and on bass was Nick Seymour, who was in Crowded House. For the drums they brought in Joey Waronker, who has played with Beck and REM. The concert was amazing. It had an energy and looseness to it that had been missing in previous shows because with Eddie and Nick there is a lot of history to draw on. They played a mixture of Split Enz, Crowded House, and Finn Brothers songs. Tim was his usual frantic and slightly psychotic self on stage as he let the music take him over. There was joking and lots of banter between the songs, and the crowd was really into it because it was mostly an audience of hard core fans. The boys played two encores and could have gone on the entire night. The show ended with a touching crowd sing-along to "Four Seasons In One Day," which was dedicated to Paul Hester, who committed suicide in March of this year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"The Long Necks"

Tonight I went to see "The Long Necks" aka The Living End at the Corner Hotel. This concert was part of the Corner Hotel's 10th anniversary celebrations under the current ownership. The boys played for an hour and a half, and the set list was a mix of old material and five new songs off the upcoming album, which is due out early next year. My favorite of the new ones was "Nothing Lasts Forever." As always, The Living End rocked- they are one of the best live bands out there. If you want to check out the latest single and video for "What's On Your Radio," click here. I can't wait to see them again this Saturday at Homebake in Sydney. Yes, I am heading up to Sydney for a few days. Should be a fun trip.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Art Show

Last night I attended the opening of an exhibition for artists Alice Byrne, Peter O'Doherty, and Susan O'Doherty at the Span Galleries, 45 Flinders Lane. Michelle, Will, and Helen came along as well to check out the art and enjoy the free drinks. My favorite pieces were all of the different trams that Peter O'Doherty had painted. Too bad they aren't in my price range. Susan O'Doherty's work is much more abstract, but still interesting and also not in my price range. After the exhibition we had dinner and then Michelle and I headed for home.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Today I helped Peter and Mark move some boxes to their new house in Kalorama, which is located in the Dandenong Mountain Ranges. It was only about a 50 minute drive from Prahran, and the place is gorgeous. It was built in the 1920s and was a boarding house before it became a private residence. The photo above was taken around 1940. The grounds are beautiful and lush, with lots of birds flying around- including parrots! The inside of the house is huge. The top level will be their residence and the bottom level the office. They will officially be living there as of Tuesday when the movers come to take all the artwork and furniture out of Greville Street in Prahran. I hope to be able to visit them and relax on the veranda.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Living Room

The good people at Freedom have finally delivered all of my living room furniture. I have a couch, tv stand, coffee table, side table, and desk chair now! At last I can lounge and watch the telly. Happy day indeed. I'll put up some pictures soon so you can see what it looks like.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Walk About

Today was a lovely day in Melbourne- perfect weather. My friend Matt is in town from Canberra for a conference this week, so we spent the day walking around town. We met up for lunch on Lygon Street in Carlton, and then walked downtown, going past Medley Hall, where I lived when I was at Melbourne Uni, and also where Matt and I first met. We went through stores in Melbourne Central and Bourke Street (I refrained from buying anything). Next we hit Southgate along the Yarra River. They had a little market on there with various crafts. In search of coffee and dessert, we headed back to a cafe on Little Collins Street.

After our break we walked back across the Yarra to the Royal Botanical Gardens. If you are ever in Melbourne the gardens are a must see. It's just beautiful and there are many places to lay out on the grass and relax. You forget you are in the middle of the city as you look at all the plant collections and see the wildlife. Oddly, we did not spot any fruit bats this time (where have they gone?).

Around 7:00 p.m. the sun was starting to disappear, so we walked back to downtown and had Chinese food at the Post-Mao Cafe Chinese restaurant on Little Bourke Street. How can you resist eating in a place that promises to serve you Chairman Mao's mysterious recipes? There were statues and posters of Chairman Mao all around the restaurant. After dinner we hopped on the tram and I headed for home while Matt caught the train to get to his friend's house. It was a fun day.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Democratic Republic of San Francisco?

Conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly is at it again. He feels that San Francisco should no longer get federal funding just because voters passed propositions on Tuesday against handgun ownership and military recruitment in public schools. Oh, and the City shouldn't expect any help if terrorists attack. O'Reilly said, "And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead." Can you feel the love? And people wonder why I left the US. Read more details here.

On a completely different note, I had no idea that the video for Night Ranger's massive 80s hit "Sister Christian" was filmed at my old high school. I wish I could see the video again to spot locations. Read all about it here.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Day At The Races

Today was the last day of the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne, so I decided to head to the races. I walked over to Michelle's house in the morning and we packed up a picnic basket with lots of yummy food. Fashion is very important and Michelle was kind enough to let me borrow a hat to wear for the day. Once we were ready, we headed out to catch the tram.

It was Emirates Stakes Day at Flemington Race Course, and we arrived around 12:30 p.m. and met up with Felicia, Donna, and her husband Brenton. After buying a bottle of champagne, we staked out a place on the grass near the finish line. The weather was perfect- not too hot and a breeze blowing most of the day. I placed bets on horses in two different races, but didn't win any money. The others were luckier than I was though. Race 7 was the Stevie Nicks Plate, and yes, Stevie Nicks was there to award the winner. It's the most unique way of promoting yourself that I think I've ever seen.

Besides the horse races, it was amusing to check out what other people were wearing. There were a lot of girls in some unfortunate Paris Hilton-esque dresses. We also had a sunburn watch going on as some people became lobster red as the afternoon went on. I did pretty well and only got a bit sunburned on my shoulders. It was good that we had sunblock and a parasol to keep us protected.

After the last race we packed up our stuff and headed for the trains. After a bit of a wait we got onto the platform and traveled to Flinders Street Train Station. From there Michelle and I hopped on the tram and headed back to Brunswick. It was a great day even though the horses let me down.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Melbourne Cup Day

Who would have thought that a horse race could cause a public holiday, but that is the case today with the Melbourne Cup. They say that it is the race that stops a nation, and today was no exception as Makybe Diva became the first horse in history to win three Melbourne Cups in a row. It was an exciting race with 24 horses competing for the $5.1 million purse. Over 100,000 people turned out at Flemington race course in their finest dress to enjoy a day at the races.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Culture Vulture

Tonight I headed down to the ABC tv studios in Elsternwick to watch the taping of this week's episode of Vulture. I met up with Will, his mother and sister, as well as Helen's parents. The topics this week were the convict miniseries "Mary Bryant," the Australian architect awards, "raunch culture," and the death of copyright. The panel had good discussions on all the topics, and even though it was a bit more academic this week it was still interesting.

After the taping, Helen, Will, and I met up with host Richard Fidler, and audience warm-up comedian Justin Kennedy at Grossi Florentino on Bourke Street. We had a delicious dinner, a couple bottles of Shiraz, and entertaining conversation. It was a good night.

Happy Halloween to all my US friends. I can't say that I really missed dealing with 20 hyper second graders loaded up with energy and sugar this year. I hope the Wilson School Harvest Festival was a success and that you made lots of money for your classrooms.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Christmas in October

You thought the American stores were bad with jumping the gun for Christmas shopping, but they have nothing on Australian ones. I was shopping at Myer today after finally enrolling in Medicare (government health insurance), and you would think it was the middle of December. There are Christmas trees with ornaments everywhere! So, in the spirit, I bought my Christmas cards early. I also got some picture books to send to my old school (be on the lookout for some Aussie-themed reading, my Wilson friends). And I bought an umbrella because it will never stop raining here- four seasons in one day indeed.

Happy 28th Birthday to Natasha in London. Have a great day!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Happy Birthday Ruth

Last night Ruth's birthday celebrations continued with a big night in downtown Melbourne. We started off at the cocktail bar Murmur on Warburton Lane. They had lots of designer drinks which were quite tasty, and a cool vibe. After staying there for an hour we headed over for dancing at the Chaise Lounge on Queen Street. Saturdays are 70s, 80s, and 90s nights, and considering he had three decades to choose from, I wasn't that impressed with the DJ's music selection. The place was packed though, with a line out the door when we left around 1:00 am.

Today is a mellow day of relaxing and building furniture for me. My IKEA items arrived yesterday, so I will be assembling bookcases, a desk, and file cabinet. Yesterday I got my chairs and dining room table put together (I finally have seating!). Tonight the ARIA awards are on tv. These are Australia's Grammys. Should be a good show.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

All Moved In

I am officially at my new residence now. Last night Michelle and I brought over all my luggage, and today I unpacked while waiting for deliveries. I got my bed, fridge, washer/dryer combo, microwave, tv, and recordable dvd/vcr. I was quite proud of myself for the prices I was able to get for these items. Now if only I had some furniture to sit on.... that stuff doesn't come for another couple weeks. I didn't make it to IKEA today to order the rest of my furniture to get delivered, so I will be doing that tomorrow. However, the cupboards are now stocked with food. At least I can eat!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Music For A Cause

Tonight my friend Julie and I went to a show at the Corner Hotel in Richmond which was a benefit for the Edmund Rice Camps, which offer holiday programs for some of Victoria's most disadvantaged children. The artists performing included Deborah Conway, Rob Clarkson, Jaimi Faulkner, Things Of Stone and Wood (duo), and Paul Kelly. All the acts did about 30 minutes each and there was a lot of diversity between the sets.

Things of Stone and Wood were fantastic. It's been a while since I last saw them, and tonight it was just Greg Arnold and Justin Brady. They played a wide selection of songs, and I was amazed that the young crowd was so familiar with the older material. There was a big sing-along to several of the songs. I also learned that TOSAW had released an album a couple years ago, which I will need to go buy. I'm not sure what the other members of the band are up to- I did enjoy Michael Allen's solo albums (maybe there are more?).

Paul Kelly finished off the show. He is an amazing Australian singer/songwriter who has been recording for over 20 years. Paul's songs always tell an interesting story, often featuring things about Melbourne. It was great to see him perform solo in such a small venue with just his guitar and harmonica. Justin Brady came out and played violin on a couple songs as well. The crowd were really into his set and sang along nice and loud to most of the songs.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Place To Call Home

This is the outside of my new home! Since the search for a decent house was taking too long and not very successful, I decided to check out some of the new apartments that have been built in Brunswick. I got word today that I have been approved for an apartment. It is in the Brickworks development, which was an old brick factory. There are apartment buildings as well as townhouses. It should be a good place to live, and it's located near both the trains and trams. I get to pick up the keys on Monday.

Since the house hunt is over, it's all about furniture and appliances now. I went with my friend Will to IKEA today and picked up some kitchen stuff to tide me over until the boat arrives with the rest of my belongings. I've also priced out some furniture, which I will be ordering for delivery.

Besides the trip to IKEA, I had brunch with Will, his girlfriend Helen, and their dog Bella. It was great to catch up with them, and I got to see their house in Abbotsford. If you are in Australia, you can check out Helen on Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. on the ABC tv show Vulture. She is a panelist on the show, which discusses art and culture.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wandering Around

This week I have been busy doing various things. Besides the house hunt, which has switched to an apartment hunt, I opened a bank account at an Australian bank. I also went down to the Victorian Institute of Teaching to register to teach here. It should take about a month for them to process my application. I cannot do any teaching jobs until I am licensed in Victoria.

Today I headed down to Prahran to catch up with Peter and Mark. I last saw Peter on the Finn Brothers tour in Austin, Texas last year. It was nice to see them and spend some time in their Greville Street property, which will be going up for auction at the end of October. It's such a great house and I will miss it a lot. You can check out the listing here.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Swing, Baby

Last night I went out with Michelle, her roommate Ruth, and Ruth's boyfriend Danny to a swing dancing event sponsored by Swing Patrol at the Malvern Town Hall. It was a performance ball where different swing groups from around Melbourne performed routines, and there was time for social dancing as well. Ruth takes lessons with Swing Patrol Brunswick, so she was in a couple of numbers. It was amazing to watch how talented everyone was and some of the costumes were fantastic. I'm a bit inspired to start taking dancing lessons myself.

After the event, we headed over to a house warming party in Prahran for Danny's friend Luke. It was a good night and I got to meet some new people. We made it back home around 3:00 am. As a result, today we are taking it easy. I'm having tea, eating Tim Tam cookies, and watching the cricket. How much more Australian can I get?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

House Hunt

The past few days have been an adventure trying to find a place to live. I have been all over town getting keys from real estate offices and looking at properties. This is a bit difficult to do without a car. I checked out all the places I could on foot by myself, and today my friend Fran helped out by driving. I've seen some good places and some real shockers. The worst had to be a place in Fitzroy where over half of the power plugs didn't work! There are two places in Brunswick where I have submitted applications, so I'm hopeful that I will get one of them early in the week. It will be exciting to move into my own place. Next I'll have to deal with furniture and appliances. I did do some preliminary pricing on appliances, so I've got an idea of what I want. Hopefully the sticker shock from all this stuff won't kill me.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Flights

The journey to Melbourne began on September 30th with tearful goodbyes to my family and friends. The first leg from San Francisco to Los Angeles was delayed a half hour, but I still landed pretty much on time. I had to take the shuttle over to the international terminal at LAX, and it was hot and humid even at 9:00 p.m. I checked in at Air New Zealand and met a woman who was taking the same flights as I was, and was also a teacher. We made it through security and chatted before boarding the next leg- Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand. I had an aisle seat on an emergency exit row, and was next to the kitchen area. It was nice to have leg room though. The 12 hour flight was long, and I didn't get much sleep. Once we landed in Auckland (on October 2nd), it was a quick walk over to another gate for the final flight to Melbourne. I got my second breakfast meal of the day on the flight, and was very happy when we landed 3 1/2 hours later. Customs was quick and easy. After about 24 hours of traveling, I was ready for a hot shower! My friend Michelle picked me up at the airport and we headed over to her house in Brunswick.

After cleaning up and eating lunch, we took a drive around Brunswick and checked out some of the places I had bookmarked from the real estate websites. The next step is to set up inspections and hopefully I will have a place to live in the next two weeks. There are several promising properties. I still can't believe that I'm in Melbourne, and I don't think it will click with me that I'm here to live permanently and not on vacation until I have my own house.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Ski Jumping in San Francisco?

Jonny Moseley celebrated his 30th birthday earlier in the year with a very unique event. Read about it here.

Auf Wiedersehen

I bought my Volkswagen Jetta in 2001. It has been a fantastic car and I will miss driving it so much. However, it is staying in the family since my parents bought it from me. I get to visit it whenever I return to the States. Now we will see how long I can hold out without having to buy a new car in Australia.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Restaurant Tour

Today I had lunch with Angie and baby Katie at Chevys. I'm not going to be getting much Mexican food in Australia, so I have to eat it while I can. After lunch we went to Old Navy and Target for a bit of shopping. I then left them and headed to Macy*s to buy another suitcase for the trip. I also got some Australian currency and an International Driving Permit today.

This evening the family and I had dinner at Pier 6, my favorite Chinese restaurant. My fortune cookie read, "Among the lucky, you are the chosen one." Tomorrow is packing day- here's hoping everything fits in the suitcases!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Long Goodbye

Sunday was the big farewell party thrown in my honor by my parents. The theme was Australia, so we had Aussie beer and wine, lamb for dinner, and various bits of Australiana decorating the house. Guests were family and friends of both my parents and myself. It was a fun evening and nice to see my aunts, uncles and cousins. I would like to give thanks to everyone for coming and for all the kind wishes.

Monday was my last day of work. I have been substitute teaching at my old school since August. Various students of mine have come up to me over these past few weeks telling me that I can't leave and that they want to come in my suitcase. They have been very sweet- running up to me whenever they spotted me on campus. My favorite reaction was from Jonathan. He asked me if I was really moving to Australia, and when I said yes, his response was, "YIKES!" My co-workers, who I will miss terribly, gave me a beautiful clock engraved with my name on it. I'm going to do my best to keep in touch with the school, and maybe I can get a pen pal program going once I am employed.

Tonight I had dinner at the Glisson's house. I have known them forever since Lynne and I went to St. Raphael's Grammar School and my brother and Mikey played on soccer teams together. We had a yummy dinner and I helped Lynne and Mikey set up their iPods, which have sat in boxes since Christmas. At last they will get some use. The Glissons gave me a great photo book on San Francisco by Morton Beebe, who is the uncle of someone Lynne and I went to high school with. I will miss my evenings at the Glisson house watching reality tv and basically trashing the contestants. We always had a good laugh at their expense.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Thomas Wolfe said that you can't go home again... but I have! The past weeks have been spent packing up my belongings, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, and putting things into boxes. Yesterday the movers came to put my stuff into a container that will be taking the "slow boat" to Australia. The good news is that everything fit (and there was extra room)! Unfortunately, I was not able to bring any furniture, but everything else will be coming with me to Melbourne. This gives me a good excuse to have fun buying furniture and decorating my new place- when I find it.

Now I am back in my old room at my parents' house. It's not that bad being home again. My dad and I did some cleaning at the apartment today, and took care of financial stuff. Trying to tie up all those loose ends before I leave. I only have one week left in the USA. It's all a bit scary.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Meet the Yusters

Lynne and Jeremy's wedding on August 27th went off without a hitch. It was a beautiful day in Saratoga, and although it was hot, the temperature was perfect for the evening festivities. The wedding party arrived at Villa Montalvo at 2:00 p.m. to get dressed and start taking pictures. There was also a videographer to capture the event. Lynne looked gorgeous in her Amy Kuschel bridal dress.

Before the wedding, the wedding party and bride and groom's families met in the library for the Ketubah (marriage contract) signing. This was the first time that Lynne and Jeremy saw each other. When the signing was finished, we headed outside to line up for the procession. I was the first of the wedding party to head down the aisle. The ceremony was officiated by both a Catholic priest and rabbi. It was a mixture of traditions from both faiths. Lynne and Jeremy's vows to each other were heartfelt and beautiful.

After the ceremony was cocktail hour for the guests and photographs for the wedding party. By the time we were finished it was time for the sit down dinner outside on the veranda of the estate. The food was amazing and there were many wonderful toasts from family and friends. Lynne's dad brought small dixie cups and gave many of us shots of slivovitz (plum brandy). That stuff is deadly.

Dancing commenced around 8:45 p.m. Lynne's 4 year-old cousin and Jeremy's 8 year-old nephew were the stars of the dance floor. Unfortunately I did not catch the bouquet- that honor went to Lynne's aunt! For desert we had the wedding cake (strawberry shortcake) as well as a gelato stand. The whole evening was so much fun. It was nice to catch up with everyone and chat with friends from high school. The party ended around 11:00 p.m. I helped to clean up as much as I could. We got the cars loaded up, and I took Lynne and Jeremy back to their hotel.

The next day Jeremy's parents had brunch at the house they are renting in Redwood City. It was a fully catered affair with omelets, crepes, and all sorts of other delicious food. The bride and groom arrived fashionably late. I said my goodbyes around 12:30 p.m. and headed home. The Yusters are currently honeymooning in Italy, along the Amalfi Coast. I'm sure they're having a fantastic time.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom's ____ birthday. We are having dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. I've never eaten there before, but I'm sure it will be yummy. And yes, they do serve other food besides cheesecake.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

It's Wedding Day!

Today my lovely friend Lynne is getting married! Last night we had the rehearsal dinner at the Hotel Los Gatos and Spa, thrown by the Yusters (Jeremy's family). It was an evening of toasts, roasts, and some vaudeville acts! Fun was had by all. They closed the evening with the engagement video, which was sweet to watch as I had not seen it before. I spent last night with Lynne at the Toll House Hotel. This place rocks because they have wireless internet service and serve fresh chocolate chip cookies in the foyer at 5:00 p.m. everyday! Stay tuned for the wedding ceremony report.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Whatup Kaysar?

Big Brother is my summer tv crack. Every year I get sucked into the show. I try to convince myself that I won't, but after a few weeks I am glued to my computer reading the live feed updates to see what is going on in the house. Big Brother is shown all over the world, but what sets the US version apart is the fact that house guests vote people out- not the public. This leads to lots of strategy, backstabbing, and alliances. In other words, drama and great tv!

This season the house has been deeply divided between two groups: the evil "Friendship" cult and the Sovereign 6, who were led by my favorite player, Kaysar. Kaysar turned the house upside down in Week 3, but unfortunately got voted out in Week 4. However, it is the "Summer of Secrets" on Big Brother, and America was allowed to vote back in an evicted house guest. Kaysar was saved with 82% of the vote and triumphantly reentered the house. After 14 hours of holding down a button in the Head of Household competition, and promises that he would be safe, Kaysar let go and allowed Jennifer to become HOH. This turned out to be his undoing, as Jennifer is in the "Friendship" cult, and she lied and went back on every promise she made to Kaysar. As a result, Kaysar got voted out again this past Thursday. I was not a happy camper.

Revenge is sweet though. Janelle won HOH and since it was a double eviction week, Jennifer was voted out of the house less than 48 hours later. While she thinks America loves her, she will be very suprised to see that her famewhore dreams have been shattered due to her unethical game play. The power keeps shifting back and forth between the two groups, and who knows who will end up the winner of Big Brother 6? As long as it isn't one of the cult, I will be satisfied. Check out all the action on

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Redneck Fabulous

On August 13th I attended the wedding of Tena and Pete. Tena is my best friend Angie's sister, and I wasn't going to miss this wedding for the world. Oliver and I were "baby wranglers" for the event since Angie and Andy were in the wedding party and needed someone to watch Katie. When we arrived at Tena's house for pictures at 10:00 am, the bridesmaids were still getting ready and already drinking hard liquor. Soon the photos were completed, and Oliver and I headed out to the wedding site.

You would think that we drove Angie's car because we had the baby, but the real reason was that we needed a 4-wheel drive to get to the wedding site. The wedding took place on a ranch, and we had to drive over a couple hills on a nonexistent dirt road to get there. Another first for me was seeing people tailgating before the wedding started. I had never thought to do that before! Oliver and I carried Katie's stroller over to the hay bales and took our seats.

The ceremony started with a skit. Pete rode up on an ATV and gave a monologue about women, sarsaparilla, a baby being born, not getting trapped into marriage, and that there would be no wedding. He then took off over the hill. In the distance we saw a man on a horse (the best man) chasing after Pete. Unfortunately, he fell off the horse, which wasn't planned. However, Pete didn't get away because he was forced back to the aisle by the gun toting groomsmen and Tena's dad, who came down the hill to the sound of the dueling banjos from "Deliverance." I'm totally serious.

Next the bridesmaids entered on the back of a pick-up truck to Gretchen Wilson's "Redneck Woman." As they walked up the aisle, they handed off a Coors Light to the groomsmen and got their bouquets. The start of the ceremony was typical of most weddings. Before the vows, Pete took out a flask and had a drink, then Tena grabbed it out of his hands and took a drink herself. Claiming they were ready, the bridesmaid spoke up that they were not, and each of them grabbed a small bottle of liquor that they hid in their tops and took a drink! The handwritten vows were heartfelt and sincere. Then the ring bearer brought up the rings... well, was led up the aisle with the rings. Why? The ring bearer was a cow.

Angie, Katie, and Andy

At the end of the wedding everyone posed for pictures. Then we headed off to the reception at Kodiak Jack's- a honky tonk bar that most of the guests frequent. There was a buffet afternoon lunch, dancing, and cake. Unfortunately, the groomsmen thought it would be a good fashion statement to walk around in their vests with garter belts on their arms. The evening really kicked into gear when Kodiak's opened to the general public at 6:00 p.m. You see, Saturday is karaoke night, and the regulars were out in force. They were joined by a very drunk party guest who was doing interpretive dance to various numbers, much to our amusement. The "daisy dress lady" had been busy propositioning couples and trying to lure them back to her hotel room earlier. She was eventually removed from the premises. All in all, it was an entertaining and certainly original wedding day.

Non-Rednecks Nicole, Oliver, and Tenaya

Friday, August 19, 2005

The start of the end

After much pressure from my blogging friends, I have finally decided to start a blog of my own. Why now, you might ask? Well, life will soon be taking a major turn. After months of waiting, I received word in August that my permanent residence visa to Australia had finally come through. At the end of September I will be leaving the USA and migrating to Melbourne. It is an exciting and stressful time as I try to figure out how to move my life half way around the world. This blog is here to capture the adventures and keep all my family and friends updated on current events in my life. Let the journey begin.
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