A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.

"You're a Refugee from America!"

So said one of the lawyers I met this week in my networking & job-hunting palooza. (Apologies to Spanish friends who ask, 'Where in America??' when people from the US say they're 'American.') Unemployment here is around 5%, and people are shocked when I say in the US to continue my career path I would be competing for unpaid internships. I've met a nice group of expats, including many Spaniards who stay here because of 20% unemployment in Spain. With the 1-1 dollar parity between Australia and the US, plus working hours and lifestyle here, Australia sure is attractive! (Photo: Royal Exhibition Building)

And so is the art scene & interesting population here. After attending a local "sexy" film festival Wednesday, wandering toward the train station taking pictures of graffiti in the rain, a prostitute tried to befriend me. It was her birthday and her boyfriend was in jail, her ex-husband was "giving her shit," so she was "a good sport at the party and let them hang things all over her." I'm not sure I want to know what that means. She left the party because her friend is paranoid and has 27 cameras in his house, and once she sling-shot them all out the window to make a point, but what she really likes to do is build and then rip out gardens, and now she's in the ripping out stage at her house. Her drunken companion asked me for a light. I said I don't smoke, so he asked if I smoke pot. I said no, and he asked if I drink. She chastised him that she was talking politely about gardens trying to make a new friend. She offered to take me to a neighborhood across town to show me "the good graffiti" after they smoke up at his house for just five minutes. I politely declined, and wished her a happy birthday. Then I miraculously found a Korean grocer open and bought some seaweed & kimchee. (Photo: nighttime exploration of art in the Fitzroy/Brunswick area)

My Thursday networking day was cut short due to monsoon-style rain resulting in a lack of presentability as my hair lost three inches in length and gained five in width, so I hung out with a friend and worked from her house, then met another friend at a Japanese restaurant with a gluten-free menu. They still managed to poison two dishes, accompanied by massive apologies ("Here's my card, if you get sick we'll pay, please call"). Luckily the headache didn't last long, and while we got those dishes free, I suddenly realized I was a bad Cinderella and was about to miss the last midnight train. My friend ended up driving me all the way on his motorbike, which was actually quite fun, since I got to see a new piece of the city. After a lovely eat-and-chat-for-hours-in-the-rain day, followed by dancing and discussing US politics (which people love to do with me here), despite checking train times, I missed the last one again, and the motorbiker came to my rescue to avoid the $60 taxi. Again. Oops.

So on Saturday I was determined to be social-lite and not out late. I spent the day emailing every registered family law firm in Melbourne, then enjoyed the new Harry Potter movie & a delicious lamb dinner. (And my friend helped me find an umbrella for $10 instead of the $30 I kept finding. Here's hoping it lasts at least 1/3 as long as those!) I was telling my friend that I am so ready to be working, and it feels like a silly use of time to search for appropriate work. She had such a good response: it's not a waste of time, because it's spent finding a way to continue your life's work. Hurrah for positivity, and to all my other un-, under- or unhappily-employed friends, here's to waking up every morning and believing, 'Today I am reaching the perfect job for my skills and growth.' (Photo: Chinatown, obviously)

Posted byValerie at 9:24 AM 1 comments  

Operation 'Make a Life in Australia' Has Begun

Monday I arrived in the Land Down Under. My bags decided to join me two days later. I woke up the second morning un-jetlagged and had a mini panic attack that I once again moved to a new country with no set job/friends/permanent housing/etc. My mom talked me down, saying, "You've been there 2 days. You are not expected to have a job yet." Still, I started networking meetings the following day, and everyone I've met & emailed with has been really positive and helpful, and suggest finding something before Christmas fever sets in when the country apparently shuts down to holiday on the beach. I hadn't realized how European the lifestyle is here: shop hours often 10-3 and closed one or two days a week, complaints about "working late" when staying in the office past 6. (Photo: Rush hour & typical modern architecture)

Melbourne is very, very, chill.

Not to say there aren't crowds, festivals, parks, interesting architecture, underground pubs, bike paths, hidden graffiti art, and loads of other interesting things to explore. In my limited experience of festivals (Spanish and Polish, so far), they seem to consist of small handicrafts (10%) and food and drink (90%). Australians like to eat, which is interesting considering how sticker-shocked I am at prices. Example: pecans grown in Australia $13/lb, lemons (in season) for $4/lb, even Target clothes start at $40/top. An ode to American stores--K-Mart, Safeway, Target, Borders, the list goes on--it's all here, for twice the price!

In addition to friends-of-friends and random newly-made friends, I have had some other love from this town. The first time I walked into a grocery store I was asked to do a survey on meat advertising, and 3 minutes of opinion netted me $5 (money is 1-1 with the US$ at the moment). Then two days later I met a nice local for a bike ride, and as I went to pay for a rental was asked to do a survey on the bike service, which has earned me unlimited bike access on those bikes-around-town for a week. I must look like a good little consumer. I've been taking advantage, cycling every day for hours, which would've cost more than $20/day and allows me to bide my time this week buying a bicycle. I've missed functional public transport, though the downside is one spends a lot of time in transit. So far that is more than offset by awesome hosts and ipod entertainment through fancy headphones from my newly-acquired not-in-Australia boyfriend. Two points to us for timing. (Photo: tram & downtown shopping area already decorated for Christmas)

My brother pointed out that this is my final frontier: I've now been to every continent (depending on how they're defined, and there are only baby penguins to work for in Antarctica). Thanks to support from wonderful people like you & friendly Aussies, I'm sure this will be another fulfilling year in the trenches. If Yogi Tea is right, and "Happiness is nothing but total relaxation," then Australia may be just the place to find it. (Photo: Busy Sunday in the Royal Botanic Gardens)

Posted byValerie at 3:56 PM 1 comments