Reflections on five weeks in a new country

This is my preliminary view on West Coast Americans ….. I am certain that over time it will change and I’m absolutely certain that middle America and the East Coast is all a completely separate matter – that said this is my personal blog and I’m only incoherently rambling so….

But let’s get to what I have learnt along the way and what’s been happening in my world.

  • Americans are very friendly, generally very intelligent and love their Starbucks.
  • They have extraordinary mathematics skills – they need them because every price you see excludes sales taxes or tips
  • They are pretty generous all round – giving time, money and emotional energy to a number of enterprises

Put simply, who would have thought that Americans are thoughtful, intelligent and all together lovely people to meet and know?!  I mean surely my prejudiced view of the world is the right one …. right?

I have learnt that government departments are terrible to deal with and that we have it very good ‘back home’ – however I also understand that built into every Americans DNA is a fundamental distrust of government – they are all for self empowerment and self-responsibility.

Having spent all of my life living in a country that regularly hands those responsibilities over to other human beings and organisations is a big thing when you come here and nobody asks for a handout – I must admit it’s refreshing.

  • Americans are an optimistic bunch
  • They think big – they see none of the worlds problems as insurmountable
  • They don’t suffer from the tall poppy syndrome

Oh yeah, they absolutely love things that everyone else should – AirBnB, eBay, Amazon, Yelp, Skype and anything and everything that makes life a little easier – they even embrace driverless Google Cars

  • Californians are most petrol conscious than any place i’ve ever been
  • They go a little crazy over Halloween – 7 BILLION dollars a year crazy…. uhhuh
  • They love their electric cars

You can’t look sideways in this town without seeing six Tesla’s driving down the road – yes, it’s awesome

So, that concludes ‘what i’ve learnt’ section ….. now we move swiftly along to the ‘how am I doing section’

In short, i’m doing ok – actually I don’t really think I could be better

Both my wife and I have had up and down moments – we have had a few doozy arguments and had to retreat to our respective corners a few times to just get our heads straight and our tempers under control – however that is both perfectly normal and a sign that change is real, it is happening and it is in progress – and that really is a good thing.

I realise I need a job – I need a job so I can interact with other human beings.  Because not interacting with other human beings is not the greatest thing in the world for me you see..

I have been lonely at moments however I am not lonely overall.  Keeping that in mind I wouldn’t change my decision even for a second.  Learning and absorbing a new way of life here has been exciting and engaging.  Travel is always good for the soul – moving to a new country is just good for everything and it forces you to see the world through a completely different lens.

I must admit I thought it would be ‘dead easy’ to meet people – when you don’t have a job, meeting people is anything but dead easy … it’s very, very hard and the people i’ve been connecting with are the local barista (but I think he’s in it just for the tips … ) and some expats i’ve met through my wifes netball club.

Yeah, they have absolutely no idea what netball is – not exactly fans of the commonwealth you see ……

Well, this post needs some serious editing, however it’s highly likely that will never be the case – but if I don’t just hit the publish button on this it will sit here for three months, unfinished, unloved and then discarded.

So publish away – besides nobody is reading this anyway except me :)




New beginnings or erasure of past?

So I have just spent the first of a number of attempts to cull down the number of posts that are on this blog.  This is of course in stark contrast to actually investing the time and emotional energy to write something of value and to at least provide some kind of meaningful content that people may wish to digest.

But i’m not sure that is, or has ever really been the point of this blog….

This blog has served – with some significant gaps in places as a outlet for me to vent who am I am and what my place is in the world.  It is a journey that has been filled with enormous joy and some pretty serious pain along the way.  That pain however is a reflection of the battles one must face into if they are to be (hopefully) become a respectable human being – well at least that’s what i’m telling myself.

Going back to the culling of posts though, as I walked around the beautiful Getty Museum in Los Angeles this weekend, a guide was sharing with us her thoughts on art and particularly the process of returning pieces back to one version of their former self in order to publish them in a gallery – the challenge is of course is which version of the truth is the right one?

Is your past version of the truth the right one, or does reflection provide for a more meaningful message?

I am pondering on this question now – I had/have around 800 posts on my blog – I would comfortably say that less than 200 of them have any value whatsoever, but in deleting 600 posts do I lose sight of what I was writing for in the first place, a chronology, unfiltered of my life at that moment in time.

I don’t have any answers – however at 36 I must admit I look back at some of my earlier work and I literally cringe – and I can’t help but think of my career (what if a potential new employer were to read this!?!)

So, sanitation will probably win, though I do wonder at what cost…..

So apparently i’m back ….. and living in the US … and re-married … and stuff

So to jump right on in the deep end – an extract of the email I wrote today to a work colleague and friend.

(more to come, promise)


Thank you good sir – paperwork is now on it’s way.

We’re settling in well – my days are filled with grocery shopping, cooking and dealing with government departments – I am literally living the dream :P

Christine is doing ok with the new job, needs to settle in to culture and different management style – however we knew that all along.

Government is making things challenging – mismatch of Christine’s middle name on her visa is delaying her Social Security number application. No social security number = no apartment to rent, no credit, no loan for car, no nothing …. so that’s nice. However we can’t say in good faith that we didn’t know that was going to be an issue – particularly as CA is broke and therefore services have been cut to the bone.

Overall for all the differences California is remarkably similar to Sydney/AU in terms of consumer laws and protection so not feeling overwhelmed at this point.

Off to SF for a weekends exploring and just not to think about paperwork and settling in for two days.

Also nabbed myself custom fitted ski boots yesterday from Berkeley – they be nice :)

Talk soon my friend – oh and just to let you know that our seasons passes just added another ski resort in Utah – Park City …. one more reason (and one of the best 5 ski resorts in the continental US) to come visit my friend …. skiing starts in December :)

p.s – wow, i expected to write two lines as a reply, apparently I had something to say ….. how unusual of me ……. :)

Another day, another half marathon completed

I suppose the title says it all really.  Today it was the SMH Sydney Half Marathon , attempt #6 and another successful one at that.

Starting off at the briskly time @ 7:30am, we (Hools, Lucy and myself) started on a good pace however this time around I was not feeling the 100% mentally that I usually feel, but more on that later.

Kilometres 1 through 5 went relatively well, though these are what most runners know as the hardest of km’s.  This is the time when your legs aren’t quite firing on all cyclinders and your brain is telling you that ‘you really don’t need to be out here at this time in the morning, just quit now and go back to bed!’ …. and I promise you every time i’ve run these things i’ve seriously considered it.

Kilometres 5 through 10 is where things started to get rough for me.  

….But before I get into that I want to provide short set of history on how I got to feeling dehydrated.  Over the past 4 months, our personal trainer has been providing advice and support on food, nutrition when running, dealing with psychological barriers and how to keep your body in one piece to see another marathon on another day.

So today, instead of having a Gu (energy food in liquid form, once you get used to the taste they’re quite good!) before I started the race along with a decent drink of water before I go to bed and before I get up, I listed to the PT and did neither of these.

…. and that gets us back to kilometres 8 through 10 … I was becoming dehydrated ….. and that’s not a good thing to be doing less than 1 hour into a 2 hour run.

By the time we clocked the 7 kilometre mark, Hools (poor thing) was starting to suffer with a sore knee and a body that just wasn’t coping with strain of having it pounded with hard bitumen for kilometre after kilometre.  And so at that stage, Lucy and I broke away (after a quick debrief with the fiance!) and that’s actually where things started to go wrong.  My body was firing on all cylinders, but the brain was feeling it has has never felt at the halfway mark, it was emotionally drained, finding it difficult to concentrate and completely lacking in motivation.

And once you’re dehydrated, there’s absolutely no going back.

Kilometres 10 through 15 turned bad for me as around km 11 Lucy started to break away from me and psychologically I couldn’t make myself keep the pace that was required to stay with her.  Of course once she disappeared around a corner, my spirits started to plummet and things started to head bad….. I actually walked for a total of 5 minutes over this break…… sad …… (that’s never happened before!)

Kilometres 15 through 21 were painful as this track is a dual-loop (a format that i *hate*) and I now knew how far we had left.

The only shining light in this was that The Picture magazine had a model who was getting her (very impressive) rack out for mini-lap-dances and taking photos for an upcoming shoot in the magazine.  While I was completely shocked with this it still gave me a bit of a smile (it was @ km 20, so close to the finish!) and I pushed on until I rounded the last couple of loops and onto the finish line.

I believe my time will run in at about 2 hours 9 minutes, and while that doesn’t seem like a great deal off 2 hours 6 minutes, it is a damn sight shy of 2hrs and 54 seconds that we ran 2 years ago.

My hope for today was around 2 hours 3 minutes – 2 hours 6 minutes so that I could trim down to sub-2-hours when we hit the Gold Coast half marathon in July (it’s an all-flat course so you probably save 3-4 minutes just from that in itself), alas it wasn’t to be.

As for Hools, she struggled and did some pretty serious damage to her knee which will require a few days of compression, ice and TLC from our chiropractor.

However, this is part of our bodies getting older, and while we choose this sport we need to accept the consequences.

c’est la vie!


I did something tonight that I should have done a long time ago…

I registered a new domain for myself, and started a new blog….

(and no, i’m not telling *anyone* about it).

I realise now that in some ways I made a grave error when I first registered this site. I told people about it.

And by doing that, all the great benefits of anonymity went flying out the window, leaving me in a position where to get the things off my chest that are really going on would be to compromise myself in ways that were both not in my best interest, but more importantly could and would be perceived by others as something completely outside of my ‘real’ reality.

And almost certainly hurt people unnecessarily.  And that’s just not cool.

(i’m not sure if that makes sense)

So i’ve done the best thing I can do, i’ve registered a new space and i’m not telling anyone about it.

And now that I have ….. i’ve started to write again …… and I realised how absolutely and utterly delightful it is to just write what I feel and not have the repurcussions other than to get it out of my crazy headspace, turn it into a pseudo-reality and then from there … discard it as exactly that, the crazy and incoherent ramblings of someone who’s just human, who has learnt to deal with most of his limitations but still fucks it up sometimes and somebody who’s not the bad guy, just needs to have his own headspace once in a while.

It feels good to write and only be accountable to myself, and by writing about all the craziness, i’m freed from it.

And the best thing is that all the people I love and care about won’t have to deal with me (so much) when I decide to have an unnecessarily selfish and crazy bout of self-doubt, self-destruction and self-loathing.

And i’m already starting to feel better about it.

So from here on out i’m going to try to write more about my life, try to use facebook less and write about the things that are good, that are interesting, that are hard and that are what I work for.

And i’m going to keep the insanity to someone where only I can find.

Hope you still drop back here from time to time to read about my ‘normal’ life.



In Bullet Points:

  • It’s hot… very hot (why do I keep forgetting this each time I go to SE Asia?)
  • I bought muchos clothes… muchos…
  • Things are cheap over there.. deceptively cheap…
  • I got Hools on her first ever ride on a motorcycle (well, scooter)…. she’s now in love with two wheels.
  • That’s one more reason why i’ll be marrying her later on this year.
  • We surfed, paddled, ski-ed, swam, white-water rafted, hike, sight-see’d (?),  fed wild monkeys, avoided malaria, lounged by the pool (with built-in bar and endless cocktails.. hmmm, cocktails), drank 8,000,000 long-island-iced-teas, purchased near on 500 DVD’s (serious).

…. and generally lived the life of someone who has afforded themselves the opportunity to relax.

Still, glad to be coming home, I miss the insanity of my normal life …. I think … :)


Stranger Than Fiction … Is this your life?

This is an extension of a post I wrote quite some time ago, right about here…..

Because the last time I saw this post I was in a different mindset.

The core of my post today is to encourage you to watch the movie : Stranger Than Fiction.  A brilliant tale starring two geniuses of the the screen (Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson, both supporting), and a lead in Will Farrell that was completely unexpected however brilliantly cast.

The movie I will not go into a great detail about.  The meaning of the movie I will indulge a little in my post here:

Stranger than fiction asks the basic question : If you knew you were going to die, how would you rate your life?  (ok, two questions, the second being: What might you do to make it the life you truly want?)

Sounds pretty simple in reality, but dig deeper and you realise that life is chaotic, difficult, mundane (and let’s be honest) inconsequential ….  and many would say that the biggest and most influencing items are really out of our hands…

What this movie does is go to town to challenge you that your life is something that you are active participant in, even if you choose to make no choices, you still make choices (know what I mean?).  For while you need to accept what you can’t be in control of, and while you can’t make it all turn in your favour, there are a huge number of things that you can do to make your life the life that you want them to be.


This view of the world has been synonymous with my view of my own life over the past couple of years.  After some pretty reasonable weight and alcohol issues, I have slowly, but surely put my life on a steady path, and the more steady this path becomes, the more I find that I ask myself the real questions.

– Am I a good person?

– Where do I fit in the world?

– Do I deserve all the shit i’ve accumulated?

… and for the most part you can either be ignorant, arrogant or terrified as the media and external influences generally tell you that you’re either wonderful and fabulous (and have you seen our new hair product to make you even *more* fabulous?!!?!) or that you’re morally corrupt and basically if you don’t repent (ie now!) you’re going straight to hell.

So what does one do?

You need to live your life.  You just need to live your life.  Make choices, take risks, be awed by those things you don’t understand and constantly curious about the things that you’d like to understand.

Go to space camp, learn how to back cupcakes, commit to something that scares you, walk away from things that are hurting you, take that new job, get a new car, give money to charity ….. and for something different, tell those that matter to you most that you love them

Because we all need to remember, none of us are going to make it out of this thing alive.



“With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations”
-President Barack Obama (2009)


Just for the record folks, speeches like the excerpt above are what make you great.

Back on the train

The train of pain! ….. i’m 5kgs heavier (97kg’s!), i’m slightly older and a heck of a lot slower.

So this year it’s more of the same in some senses, though today, right this minute, i’m finding it incredibly difficult to find the motivation to get out and amongst it.

I’m hoping the motivation comes sooner rather than later.