AUSTRALIA DAY.

…it’s a big deal over here.  And by big deal, I mean it’s a huge frat party.  I am currently sitting in the living room kinda watching “Friends” and kiiiinda watching all the half-naked drunk people walking to or from the beach.  One guy actually turned around in circles before walking into our yard!  He figured it out eventually.

Yeah, so I thought Australia Day would be like the 4th of July… kind of… but not really.  There are a LOT of people at the beach… but more so it’s just a LOT of drinking and a LOT of Australian flag paraphernalia.  I only saw college-aged people hanging out… not so much families.  Oh and by “hanging out”, I mean I saw a lot of people in kiddie-pools and squirting each other with beer-loaded Super Soakers.  No thanks.

Annnnnywho, this weekend was a real interesting one.  NOTHING went as planned, but it was a weekend filled with finding happiness in the little things…

One of the many times that I got lost this weekend, I found myself walking through a cemetery that was a little bit creepy but mostly beautiful.  The greenery was overflowing and I felt like I was walking through the Secret Garden (don’t make fun of me… you know you read it when you were 12).  Then I saw something that I will always, always carry in my heart.  An elderly man was sitting on the ground, next to a tombstone, reading a book… aloud.  It was the sweetest thing I have ever seen.  I tried not to stare as I briefly passed, but I was mesmerized.  Love.  Wow… how beautiful.  LOVE.

this person.

I must recommend this book…

yes.

…but not to everyone.

My first encounter with this book was reading the story “This Person” in this bookstore:

puss 'n books.

puss 'n books.

I finally finished the book yesterday… then quickly flipped to the front and started it again.  I never wanted it to end!  I stretched out the time between stories so that they would never leave.  Miranda July is brilliant.  All the short stories were beautiful, simple, shocking and comfortable.  I found myself thinking, “Man, Miranda July really understands me… but she is waaaaay more messed up than me… but I still want to be her best friend.”

So I do recommend this book to many of you… but not all of you.  She really is quite shocking.  I’m afraid that you’ll read it and then think, “Golly jee, Rachel!  This book is wretched!  You are a dirty girl for even liking it!”  So if you’ll do that, don’t read it.

You might know Miranda July from the movie Me and You and Everyone We Know.

me and you and everyone we know.

me and you and everyone we know.

She wrote, directed and acted in it.  It’s also a great movie.  I recommend it to the same group I recommended the book to.

And if you do get the book, know that there are four colors to choose from.  I got the orange.  I think three other of my friends should get the yellow, pink and green and then we’ll all get together and have a Finer Things Club meeting.

Here are some more photos of Miranda July because I think she is beautiful:

pensive.

purdy.

yellow.

If I could concentrate right now, I’d put some excerpts in from my favorite stories… but it’s not going to happen right now.  Maybe later.

It is a lovely book.

…and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

My first wander into the proper city of Sydney was because of Barack Obama.  I took a 40 minute train ride to get to Sydney University where I found that there would be a get together to watch a screening of the Inauguration around lunch time.  I found out about it from Facebook… big shock.  All of three people had RSVPed as “attending” when I found the page.  And since it’s summer here and school’s not in session, I really didn’t expect much to come from this venture.  I just wanted to watch some history with some people that care.

When I walked into the Manning Bar, I could hardly even get in the door.  There were hundreds upon hundreds of people there!  People from all over the city came to watch!

look at all those people!

this is the only picture i took... because i was embarrassed... because i was by myself.

It was incredible.  Seriously.  There was an hour of student projects [summer school] that were played before the speech aired.  It was hilarious to see how Aussies make fun of Americans.  I started to get scared that this would be just a bashing of Americans and then I’d have to order another drink with my best Australian accent before sneaking out, but it didn’t turn out that way.  A lot of videos were about admiring America for being a country where ANYONE can be the leader of the country… no matter their bloodline.  It was very inspiring.

Then the President of US Relations gave a very interesting speech about Obama’s facial expressions and his change of tone.

Then they played the video and I cried.

Then, during the national anthem, all the Americans stood up and sang and I cried again.

The whole thing was a lot more emotional than I had planned on.  Hearing a true recognition of a brokenness in our country was refreshing and devastating and the same time.  Obama displayed a vulnerability that can only come from honest strength.  I don’t know if that makes any sense to anyone else, but to me, it was something that struck hard inside my chest.

And then I sat down for an Obama burger and another drink [much deserved after the last two weeks, trust me] and I got to talk to some great people.  Okay, two great people… okay, I actually talked to two people and they were great simply because they were around my age, in Sydney and talking to me.

It was a breath of fresh air… the whole day.

Then I finished my Obama burger, my 20-minute-friend, Micheal, directed me to a really cool bookstore near campus, then I headed home.

sitin', waitin', wishin'.

sittin', waitin', wishin'.

And then I couldn’t find the bookstore because I’m horrible with directions which made me relatively bored waiting for the train.

great day.

all’s i’m saying.

hyam beach.

hyam beach.

The mornings in Australia have proven to be a renewing force close to a religion in themselves.  Sights and sounds here are more beautiful and exotic than I could have imagined.  Every morning I wake up and go out by myself (whether it’s a run or a stroll) and I breathe deep the peace.

The vacation with the Vincents was lovely.  I went surfing, saw dolphins, sat on beaches, cooked delicious meals, ate my weight in amazing fruit, went for beautiful runs, read multiple books… all in a week.  It was magnificent.

vacation.

vacation.

But I must say… All of this is not as lovely as I thought it would be without loved ones around.  [insert cliché that I can’t quite remember.]  I know it’s only been a week, but it has been ridiculous how homesick I have been for people.  All this time I’ve wanted to travel to Australia…

I know I’m probably speaking too soon here… Next week I’ll probably fall in love with a group of friends here and never want to leave.  All’s I’m saying is this: My life has been blessed by beautiful sights and amazing adventure, but they are only a fraction of the blessing of my gorgeous friends and family.

Goodnight, Loves.

i made it.

I made it to Sydney!  It’s great!  Well maybe not great, yet.  I was kinda in shock/a funk all day.  But I can tell you this, the family I’m working for is awesome.  Better than I imagined, actually.  It is such a breath of fresh air.

A story from the flight:

I’m boarding the plane to San Francisco, when I walk by a row of young siblings.  The oldest girl is telling her younger brother and sister, “You really need to start being more responsible with your toys!”… Mind you, the youngest must’ve been about four.  I laughed out loud at the whole situation and thought a bit about Anna Davis.

…So turns out I was sitting next to these kids’ parents on the plane.  And at one point, the referenced girl, we’ll call her “Fanna”, was sitting next to me.  She and her father were playing Hangman and this is when I discovered that Fanna is as dumb as bricks.  She was striking out left and right guessing letters.  She made her dad add eyes, ears, a nose and a beard to the hangman before she lost.  And when her dad told her to start guessing more common letters she guessed “Q” and then “V”… at one point she guessed “10”… I KID YOU NOT… she guessed the number ten.  And her dad just laughed and shook his head saying, “Fanna, ten’s not a letter!”…but on the inside he was thinking, “Fanna, you dumb as a brick!”

That was the most entertaining part of my flight.  I slept 12 of the 16 hours on my flight to Sydney… holler.

The Family (in order of appearance):

Marc, The Dad:  Really funny and easy to talk to.  Smiley.  He’s the one who takes care of lots of meals, although I will start doing that, and he schedules the kids’ appointments and such.  Seems like a good guy… AND he gave me all the dirt on past au pairs.

Craig, 13:  Shy.  He did warm up to me after I gave him a sweet wind-up toy I bought him from Toy Joy (the best toy store in the world).  His favorite thing he got for Christmas is his Wii and he plays it everyday, all day… at least that’s what he told me.  Come to find, he also surfs a lot… holler.  He does not like pasta, anything in his tuna or anything green.

Hazel, 14:  Real cool girl.  Not shy at ALL.  We have already been joking around and making fun of how we would both look if we always pulled our hair straight back and had no bangs.  She just got a brand new laptop and spends a lot of time in her room on MSN… when she’s not at the mall.  She’s going to take me there tomorrow… we’re going to bond.

Barbara, The Mom:  She works a lot.  We leave on “hols” in two days and she’s already stressed about missing work… not awesome.  She’s real sweet though.  We talked about all kinds of things while Marc yawned because he thought we were being boring… I’m already one of the fam!  Here are some examples…

Things I Got Made Fun of For by the Family:

• Not knowing exactly what a dingo is… I know, I know… I’m an idiot.
• Guessing that airplanes are made of Titanium.
• Never seeing a kettle that boils itself… not on the stove.  Am I the only one in the world who didn’t know these exist?
• Pronouncing all kinds of things differently.
• Getting REAL excited to see a cockatoo fly and then sit on a telephone wire… apparently, they are pretty common.

Welp, I’m off to snooze.  I hope all’s well, America.

i miss you already,
rach.