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.
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