I’m Younger Than That Now

I don’t really remember my first decade.

From zero to 10, a lot happens. We learn to walk and talk and go to the bathroom. Hopefully, we learn some of the basics of being a human:

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If we could follow this everyday, all day, what a better world we would be in.

Your next decade – double digits. 10 – 20. Big years. Developing an identity outside of your family, going to school, learning to drive, maybe moving out of  your parent’s house, working a bit, more school, romantic relationships. I actually found an old journal circa 2003 with a life plan in it. I should be finished law school, married with a child and well into my political career by now.

Because, just like that, myself and the other 1985 babies are 30.

What a weird bunch of 30 year olds we are. Some own houses and have babies and husbands/wives. Some own nothing. Some have careers, some are still finding themselves. We are the millennials, you know, and people that are not millennials (born in the early1980’s – early 2000’s) like to talk about us a bunch. Actually, I think millennials like to talk about themselves just as much. I love talking about myself.

Despite turning 30, I’m still planning on celebrating in a big way. A 30th birthday is enough of a milestone that regular excuses to miss an obnoxious birthday don’t apply. It’s already come up. One of my best friend’s husband’s agreed to forego their camping trip after he found out it was actually going to be my 30th birthday. The conversation was “It’s not like it’s her 30th birthday” … “Actually, dear, it is”.


Back to the last decade. The decade I am leaving behind – 2005 – 2015.

What do you have to show for it?

Well – my parents at 30 had bought and sold a home and bought another home, had two kids and were married. They went to Singapore (even though they had no business travelling and spending all that money ! (their words)). I remember when my parents turned 30 because I was 5 and my brother and I spent 2 weeks with my grandparents. I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone with my mom because we would both cry and it would take my grandma some time to get me calmed down again.

In comparison – I’ve been to Singapore twice. I’ve been to lots of places, actually. I am living on my own for the first time minus roommates. I have less debt than my parents, but also less house (or car) (by which I mean I own neither). I have two degrees – but I’m making less than my dad did with a two year diploma. No babies, no kids. I do have a job. I have vague plans to buy an apartment sometime in the next 5 – 10 years (although I’m not entirely sure how). I also have vague plans to maybe buy a car. I think the highest priority now would be to decide whether or not to continue living in Vancouver, and, if staying, acquiring a place that would allow me a dog.

I’m not going to complain about how shitty the world is for me because of the baby boomers. The men and women that came before us brought the millennials as a generation a lot of good things. Things like how I can work at any job I want ( it might still pay me less than a man – but I’m allowed out of the house) how there is less pressure to be a mom and a wife and more support to do whatever it is that I am doing. I’m reading a book called Gumboot Girls about women that moved to northern BC in the 70’s to literally live off the land. It was women that did those things 40 years ago that gave myself and my buddies the breathing room to travel, go to school  and authentically live our lives. Because of these boomers we discriminate against difference less. We talk about our feelings more. The internet ! Millennials changed the internet, but we did not invent it. I’m not going to call the Boomers the greatest generation, but I think it is important to also give credit where credit is due.

Many of these boomers supported their kids financially, emotionally and physically and are still supporting their “kids” well into their 20’s and 30’s. I had to borrow my parents car just last weekend (and my dad texted my uncle to make sure I got there ok). I love this. I try to support my parents too, although the ways and means i can offer support are different than what they may have done at 30. I can’t really write a check or pick up the tab for expensive dinners – but I can hang out with them, listen, and say thank you. I can be present. I can acknowledge how important our relationship as a family is.

I think we are richer, even though I’m probably poorer in a physical sense.

That is how I will describe the last decade. The expectations you have for yourself at the start of your 20’s – career, family, stuff are so much different than what you end up with, or even want, by the time your 20’s are over.

And you can understand what the hell Bob Dylan was saying when he said – I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

Travel isn’t, actually, for everyone

travel is not for everyone

Travel is not, actually, for everyone.

As a person that has travelled overseas, and lived overseas, it is very easy for me to say that travelling is one of the things in life that shouldn’t be put off. Given the opportunity to travel, you should take it – always!

I used to say.

Now, as a relatively settled person, working as an ESL teacher in Australia – I get to meet travellers from the perspective of someone that is calling the travel destination home (for now).

At my school we have students from all over the world, spending weeks or months living in Australia and learning English.

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 Teachers know that the first week is always the most difficult for students – a new language, new food, new climate– these people are also transitioning from working, or studying in their home language to learning a new one, all day every day. They may have been the CEO at home, but now they are a student, confused and a little lost, like everyone else.

The second week is when many start to feel homesick. They know that they can survive and get through the day and week, but now will start to miss their friends and family. Frantic phone calls home at awkward hours of the day (Australia is in the worst time zone for just about everywhere) usually don’t make things better. After conquering the fear of the first week, we start to see some emotion – some exhaustion, tears, stress and anguish.

By week three – we usually see a more positive change. Physically – most new arrivals now have a tan (of course this is specific to Australia in the summer). The adaptation to a new living situation has begun. Instead of finding a place to play floor hockey or practice jiu jitsu like at home, newbies have bought a skateboard, are making attempts at surfing or getting more involved with their new friends. Their confidence in English gets better. They are able to show new arrivals where to go and what to do. The concept of having to go home becomes a distant, and slightly off putting reality.

However, for each of these people – there will always be some that just aren’t able to adjust and cope. The food will never be quite right, the activities never exactly what they wanted, the new friendships as fulfilling as the ones back home. New experiences are immediately compared to what was available where they came from, or what was done in the past. Nothing is as good as where they left, which starts to beg the question – well, why did you leave in the first place?

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As Dorothy said, there is no place like home.

She knew what she was talking about.

To make the most of your time abroad, it is really worthwhile to keep this in mind. Nothing might ever replace your “home” but, you do get to see some interesting things and grow as a person after stepping out of this comfort zone. You really have nothing to lose in making the most of your time while away, that return ticket is only months or weeks away – and you’ll be back on that airplane before you know it.

Dorothy managed to have a decent time in Oz (aside from being chased by flying monkeys etc – she did make some neat friends, and see some interesting places).

If you are not able to let go of your preconceptions, your routines, your comfort zone, your fear of trying new things, travel might not, actually, be for you. Stay home and watch some travel documentaries on Netflix – you’ll save yourself some time and money !

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New Traditions

Happy Holidays and Christmas!

This year I was very fortunate to have my immediate family join us from Canada AND Korea.

Last year, having just arrived, I was taken in by friends and had a seriously traditional Australian Christmas. We went to the beach. I got rocked in the surf. Cricket was played, seafood was eaten. I left to find a washroom and everyone thought I had been swallowed into the ocean and was presumed dead for a couple of minutes. I don’t think many people down here believe that people from Canada can swim. Although, can we, really?

Yes, I know it’s just me likely, terrified of the ocean.

Anyway, this year, in our house, with our family – we discovered some new traditions.

My favourite was the “luminaria” up and down our street: Apparently, a tradition in the American South West, Spain, and Australia … on Christmas eve, families set candles out (in our case, candles in paper bags lined with kitty litter/salt/sand or dirt) up and down the street. The tradition started as a representation of lighting the way for Mary and Joseph, enroute to give birth in a manger. NOT Santa trying to find the homes of good girls and boys (the theory of our family) … apparently, our community has quite an active church going community – which we found out after meeting our neighbours and some discussion about what they were doing.

Prior to this, taking the dog for a walk – we found bags of sand with candles in them up and down the street. No one around, and no explanation. We thought we were missing something important.

It was a great chance to meet our neighbours, and with the warm night, bats, possums birds and bugs – it created a very unique Christmas eve atmosphere.

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Maybe I’ll invest in a better camera next year.

Next – not really a Christmas tree. A Christmas branch:

I wrote pretty extensively about this project on Kath or Kate – so click the link if you would like to learn more.

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We did see some “pine trees” for sale for 15 bucks outside the Salvation Army – however, I don’t think they were really pine trees – as they were more or less branches, but with needly leaves (and not dead).

Finally – after a barbeque on Christmas day (it’s waaay too hot to cook inside) we went to see a movie at the mall on Boxing day (because it is also waaay to hot to do much of anything).

Parking in Queensland is less of an issue because it is an unspoken, or spoken rule, that you can park just about anywhere, provided you are not blocking anyone. Essentially, this means that you can park on grass covered areas. Here was the mall today and not in the parking lot – up and down the road going to the parking lot:

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Christmas is just the best.

I don’t believe it …

Our dog Arkie has had an interesting couple of months with the cane toads.

Cane toads, for those unfamiliar:

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Cane toad in a bucket. My friends wouldn’t let me pick him up.

The cane toad (Rhinella marinus) formerly Bufo marinus is an invasive species in Australia. The cane toad is the largest species in the family Bufonidae. Adult cane toads are usually heavy-built and weigh an average of up to 1.8 kg. (4 lbs.). Their size may vary from 15–23 cm.(4-9 in.) and their skin is warty. The coloration on their back and sides may vary from olive-brown or reddish-brown, gray, and yellow while their bellies are semi-yellow or semi-white with darker mottling. Their body is round and flat, has prominent corneal crests, and light middorsal stripes. Their front feet are unwebbed, but their back feet have tough, leathery webbing. Cane toads have short legs and a ridged bony head that extends forward from their eyes to their nose. Behind their ears lie the parotid glands, which usually causes their head to appear swollen. These glands are used for defense against predators. The parotid gland produces milky toxic secretion or poison that is dangerous to many species. This venom primarily affects the functioning of the heart. Envenomation is painful, but is usually not fatal for humans.However, it does have some effects, such as burning of the eyes and hands, and skin irritation.

Predators:

Predators in Australia are not adapted to their toxin, which is the toad’s main defense mechanism. Because of this, toads don’t tend to hide and are usually targeted by predators, who then expose themselves to the toxic effects.

(From Wikipedia)

For a stretch of a few weeks, it seemed like every time we let the dog out, he would find a cane toad, and interact with it in a way that left him “exposed to it’s toxic effects”.

Travis found this article yesterday:

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Arkie – risking his life for a cheap thrill.

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Seriously, though – Cane toads are a HUGE problem. This was pretty interesting to see their progress – even from 1940 – 1980.

Cane toad progression 1940 – 1980