Thursday, 5 July 2012

My American Crush

I don't know if Americans are aware, of if they even feel the same, but when you're Australian born and bred, it's hugely politically incorrect to love the USA.

Sure you can holiday there, and you can have a good time. But when you return, you must have a couple of 'stupid american' stories, a couple of "australia does this better" comparisons and you must promise sincerely that "It was fun, but you could just never ever LIVE there"

Just quietly, I don't really feel that way.

I've never been very patriotic about my own country. Not that I hate it, of course not, this is a wonderful place to live and I wouldn't have given up my childhood here for anything, but I'm well aware that the world is a big place, and I'm not ready to claim 'greatest place on earth' just yet. Not without seeing everywhere else first. And I'm also aware enough to know there are things about my motherland that make my blood boil, and damage it's 'greatest place on earth' ranking. Namely, our track record with our indigenous people, our appalling attitude towards refugees, the lack of legalised gay marriage and the inherent racism that still permeates our society outside the centre of our major cities.

So when I came to visit the States, I wasn't prepared to apologise for liking it so much.

The list of things I've loved is ridiculously long, but the revised version is as follows:

1. Macaroni and cheese is a valid meal, and one people make from scratch, using actual recipes. In Australia mac and cheese is a microwaved instant meal. It's on the same level as 2-minute noodles, and you should feel insanely guilty for eating it...and you may as well end it now if you feed it to your kids. I love mac and cheese. I'm all for legitimizing it.

2 Thanks Giving. Whatever criticisms one might have of the US, you cannot argue with Thanks Giving. I think it's a lovely tradition. One day I really want to make Turkey and sides from scratch and have my whole family together with the sole purpose of celebrating what we're grateful for. What a lovely thought. Thanksgiving doesnt exist in Australia, and Christmas is in the middle of summer, so it's waaaay to hot to eat roasted turkeyness. I'm thinking a Thanksgiving in July, when it's cold and rainy and we all need some comfort food.

3. Almost limitless cities to explore. Australia has two worth living in, and a handful you could consider as a second choice. Sydney and Melbourne are it. I'm in Sydney. I've lived in Melbourne and Brisbane too, and visited Adelaide and Perth. Theyre nothing special. I was bored after a week.
In the states, I could go to a different city every week and in a year I would still be discovering and learning new stuff. The cities I visited in the month I was there were all completely unique, and I was enamoured with every single one.

In conclusion, I left my poor heart behind in New Orleans. It yearns to be back there more than any city I've ever been to.
I still crave the sun in Miami. Australian sun stings in summer. It burns through your skin in just a few minutes. In Miami the sun warms you to the core, but you never burn. It's blissful. And the people are beautiful, bouncy, shiny things.

San Francisco treated me good. Wanted me to read, write and paint. Wanted me choose discerningly what cocktails to drink, sourdough to buy and wanted me to lean Juliette style out of the fire escape of my dollshouse terrace and be courted by an artist. And San Francisco definately wanted me to buy a puppy.

And New York. New York. He's like an enourmous old chandelier. It shines so damn bright that it's dazzling, and all you want to do is get amongst. The city never sleeps because nobody in it wants to miss a single second of it's sparkle. And the grime and the flaws only make me love it more. The same way I'm drawn to antiques with cracks and fading plaster, the Bronx, the darkness in Harlem, the graffitti in the subway call to me.

Last years adventure part 1: San Francisco

 I don't know recall ahow much I've told you about my Big USA Adventure.
It consisted of San Francisco, New Orleans, Miami and New York. In that order. 

San Francisco wasn't on the original agenda. LA was, but people kept warning me against LA, the hotels I looked at there were so exxy the weekend I flew in, so I decided last minute to bypass LA and go straight to San Francisco, a city so many people raved about.

It turned out to be the perfect choice. The achitecture in Frisco is adorable! The houses are these whimsical dolls houses in gelato colours. I'm also slightly enamoured with fire escapes on the outsides of buildings (they just dont exist here!) and San Fran is full of them.

 The first night I arrived I went wandering. I was staying on Lombard Street, so all around my hotel were gourmet cheese shops, dog groomers and pretty antique shops. Total love. I stayed in three different hotels, in three different parts of the city, went to China town, and the italian food/strip club area, to a bar you needed a password to get into that looks like a library, and where the drinks are super strong and mixed by dapper gents in hats...and the coolest part (and I'm setting myself up for a bit nerd ribbing now) was the nature museum!
 Entry into the museum's exhibits is by raised walkway above a series of manmade swamps, rockpools and rivers. At one point  I was walking over glass with a stingray swimming along underneath me
 The museums draw card is a four story, man made, indoor rainforest, with a spiraling walkway all the way to the top, and a deep pool at the bottom full of fish and oceany creatures. The natural levels of the forest are explaind as you ascend, with each layer's plants and animal life explained so you know what to look for.
 The whole place is full of pretty little birds, two austere macaws and when you reach the very top, you find yourself literally surrounded by swirling butterflies!
 I should mention at this point that my Iphone had a lot of photos on it too, but that it was lost before I could back it up, so these are the best of what I could take with an ailing old normal camera.

 photographing butterflies isn't easy! This one just wanted to hang out though.


I'm busy trying to search for a passion to pursue still. I'm changeable and I get bored easily, but when I'm passionate I'm unstoppable.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Perks of This Job...

The spoils of working for a florist - bundles of roses to fill all my vases and wrap up for lucky favorite friends.

A Real-Estate-Orgaphy, Part 1.

I've found a sure fire way to make myself instantly dissatisfied with my life.

It involves apartment hunting in Sydney, Aus, while simultaneously reading Real Estalker. (Go on, torture yourself: )

It's like eating mi goreng instant noodles while you watch Master Chef. Totally depressing.

We're geating a head start on the apartment sourcing, because we're planning to move again at the end of the year. Several reasons. We want downsize pricewise just a *teeny* bit. We're spoilt with our apartment right now - it's this huge modern one bedder with a courtyard, in this condo type block with a pool, gym, spa, sauna and BBQ area, 24 hour onsite management, two security doors and swipe card access to get into our hallway or underground parking. 

 The bedroom, dining/study/extra cooking space part of the living room, and the comfy, in front of R's giant mansized TV part of the livingroom.

My issue with it is that theres only two of us, so we don't quite need this much space, the kitchen is on the smallish side of tiny, and we both like to cook....Mr R especially likes to cover every possible surface with okra and semolina powder. We also dont use the facilities nearly enough to be paying for them, the suburb we live in is barely a suburb yet - theres no cafes or restaurants or shops or anything. It's literally a train station, dentist office and chinese grocer amongst all these highrise apartment blocks.

I don't dig it. It lacks character.

My last home was a bedroom in a split level Victorian terrace with ornate cornices, archways and my bedroom was massive with an original marble fireplace, and shitty flatmates aside, I loved that room. That house was just on the city fringe, walking distance to the city and to the harbour, full of hipsterish cafes and second hand bookshops, wine and tapas bars and 5 minutes from the job I had managing a boutique stationary store in a historic landmark mall. Like I said, shitty flatmates aside I loved it there.
Livingroom/hallway in the terrace. Note mosaic female bust, and doorway to shitty flatmate #1's bedroom :P


Original marble (plus Ikea wardrobes, tonnes of candles, vintage smoking stripper poster and suitcases)

Before that I had a room in a two bedroom, blonde brick 1970's deal with an ageing bathroom and kitchen. BUT it was in a gorgeous suburb my lovely late father lived in, where I have fond memories, where the man at the indian diner and the boy at the fruit shop used to flirt with me/give me fresh flowers on the weekends, where I used to buy sweet potato chips at the deli and order woodfired pizza from the rival italians on the main street. My flatmate hadn't turned shitty yet, and my apartment had a wrap around balcony I could access from my bedroom, on which I kept two pet bunnies (Othello and Iago....Othello was the black one), and  a table and chairs for noodles and drinks with a dreadlocked interloper we used to host. We used to have mass sleep overs there with my old Uni friends. Once we lost two of the girls, one of them was sitting on the doorstep when we got home, the other showed up a few hours later with "Harry from Lewisham" who's cab she'd stolen and then invited in for a shower.

Mass sleep-overs in the teeny livingroom.
baby Iago, who lived in a vintage suitcase when he was inside
Before that was my parents modernish, glassish, gorgeous coastal house. And before that was a 100 year old farmhouse - complete with farm, stables converted from an old milking shed and a swimming pool.

 My mother's ah-mazing house, two blocks from the ocean, swimming room, huge gourmet kitchen. That woman has worked her butt off raising me and my sister on her own and working insane hours at an insanely stressful job. Moving into a home where she can watch whales from her balcony in the morning is a more meaningful triumph than anyone can imagine.

 So now we (I) want to go back to the Inner West of Sydney, where theres a bit of a village-y vibe, nice cafes, nice delis, trees, pretty terraced houses, where everyone has a puppy and you're never more that 15 minutes to the city.

The problem with that is that R has his little heart set on modern, clean, shiny...and the Inner West is mostly Victorian terrace houses or fairly ugly boxy brick 60s/70s apartment blocks. The terraces we can't afford, and the boxy brick things are mostly unrenovated and R would sooner camp than pay for their ugliness. So needless to say I'm struggling to find the few modern apartments in the area, and the few nicely renovated terraces, semis or art deco units in our price range. And in the meantime I'm torturing myself with multi million dollar Manhattan penthouses and Miami condos. Dammit!

Something else photo-ey coming soon.