Thursday, March 20, 2014

Employed at Last

Back in July 2012 I announced on this blog that I finally got a job.  Hooray for me I get to make that announcement again!

I was hired back in June 2012 for one year to cover a maternity leave, and the mother decided to stay out an additional 6 months, which means I got to keep my job longer than originally planned.  All good things must come to an end, though, and at the end of 2013 I was out of a job after 18 straight months of income earning (as you no doubt have heard from my recent bitching).

Seven "short" weeks later I got an offer!  It's a wild story, I went from zero prospects to two job offers (and verbal acceptances) within two hours.  I interviewed quite a few times in my 7 weeks of unemployment, which leads me to believe I have an amazing resume but crappy interview skills.  It was a crazy twist because I didn't even apply/interview for the job I got.  They knew me from my previous job, knew I was looking, called me on Friday and asked if I could come in on Monday.


So that's the story of my glorious re-employment!  I'm working at the same university, but in a completely separate department than I was before.  I had worked with my new team on a peripheral level, but not a ton.  I'm just so happy - and relieved - to be employed again.  This mean we can resume traveling, so stay tuned for some major (major) adventures!

It's good not to be poor anymore.

In honor of my grand ascent from poverty I'd like to show you around my campus.  It's a real purdy one, and I've gathered quite a few pictures on my phone over the last almost 2 years (time flies!) working there.
Jacaranda trees around the Great Lake
Wild trees outside my new office building
The Great Court
Buildings made of sandstone
Also a fixture on our campus: bush turkeys!

These poultry can be found aplenty 1) in the wilderness and 2) on campus.  I love following them around with my phone and taking pictures.  Add me to Snapchat and you'll see just how much!

You think I got this job looking like a hobo?  Here's a selfie I took before one of my myriad interviews:

I clean up real nice
And one I took at the welcome reception of a conference I presented at in November:

OMG booooooze
I was so proud of/pleased with my free champagne, which I drank with gusto all. night. long.  I always tell Martin there's a reason I work in education and not in big money industry or consulting.  If I had a steady supply of free booze there's very little chance I'd still be alive, and an even smaller chance I'd still be employed.  I love free hooch!  And rarely get it working in higher ed.

I commute to work by bus.  Two buses, actually, one to get through the city and another one to get out to campus.  It takes between 25 minutes (good day) to 45 minutes (bad day) and costs $37.26 per week.  

It's (usually) not so bad, but I love it when I find myself in the magical phenomenon I call limo bus!

Limo bus is when you find yourself the only person on the bus.  Hence the name, your bus has turned into a limo.  Awesome sauce!

I am not a collector of 'things'.  I move a lot, and don't take much stuff with me, so I like to keep my crap collection to a minimum.  That is, until I realized how freaking awesome novelty paperclips are!

Fact: I don't ever clean my work space
It started as just one, my very favorite one even to this day (the hanger on the far right).  Then it became two, then three, and soon my entire computer screen was lined with them.  Then people started grabbing them for me when they saw an interesting one. Then my sister in North Dakota found a good one and mailed it to me from around the freaking planet.

And then TLC contacted me about filming an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive.

I kid, I kid.  But I do very much enjoy my new hobby and get unnecessarily excited when I stumble upon a new one.  This addiction is well suited to me, who pushes a lot of paper.  Along with the turkeys, paperclips are another Snapchat favorite of mine, so get on the Snapchat train with the cool kids and add me!

I swear I actually work at work, and not just Snapchat.  But there's a lot of Snapchatting, too.  I'm only human.

To wrap up this quasi-professional post, I would like to brag about the company I keep at work, namely the Ambassador of Portugal!

Our meeting was all official (name placards!) and brunch-y.  When did I get so old and, dare I say it, respectable?

After 7 weeks of not-that-(f)unemployment I'm just happy to have any job.  But to have a really fun, interesting job in a growth field, at a top university in an incredible location?  Well, it's safe to say that I'm the luckiest working girl in the world.

But not that kind of working girl!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Until my dying breath I will proclaim that Queensland is the quintessential Australian state, and that Queensland is Australia.  A big reason I feel this way is because of the myriad islands dotting the coast, which stretch untold hundreds of miles to the far north of the country.

We've done a bit of island going, because in many cases it's easy and affordable to get to them.  In other cases, not so much.  Since we can go from our apartment to an island in less than two hours, we have no excuse not to enjoy the tiny land masses of the Sunshine State!

Stradbroke Island
We've been to Straddie before, and unlike last time we got to sleep in a proper bed.  Exactly like the last time, however, it has pissed down rain on us.  I swear that island has its own heinous weather system, as all three times I've been there I've gotten rained on.  It's a beautiful place:

You just need to be prepared for some sucky weather.

We went for a friends birthday weekend.

So when the weather got too foul we entertained ourselves indoors with booze.  So the crap weather wasn't a total loss!

There are 'roos on Straddie, which I think is kind of rare for an island.

I wonder how they keep their population from becoming horribly inbred?  I guess we could just ask Alabama (ziiiiiiiing!).

We did some swimming in the ocean.

So much fun riding the waves!
Unsuccessfully tried fishing...from the shore (this is not the first unsuccessful fishing attempt).

And watched a surf competition, while Martin creepily took pictures of the competitors in bikinis.

Coochiemudlo Island
Coochie is where we took Martin's parents for the first week of their stay here over Christmas.  But the family vacation wasn't the first time we'd been to The Cooch.

Our Australian friend BJ's parents have a house on Coochie.  A house with a denim couch!

We went over Labour Day long weekend and hung out with the owners of this fine couch, BJ's parents.  This is his dad:

And those are the fish heads we used to try and catch fetching footwear!

Alas we didn't catch any crabs we could keep, as only male crabs can be taken/eaten.  The lady crabs carry the future of the species in their wombs (do crabs even have wombs?) so they had to be put back.

I can't find what the circumference of the island is, but Martin kayaked all the way around it with his big muscles.  While I relaxed on a floating noodle (funoodle!) and enjoyed a few of these:

Because we had a few couples staying we wanted to spread the task of feeding eight mouths equally.  I was assigned a lunch, so I thought long and hard about a tasty, portable dish that could preferably be eaten at the beach.  And you know what I came up with?

Taco in a bag!

Surprisingly nobody had heard of this fine delicacy before, and there were 3 other Americans in the bunch.  Tacos in a bag were a staple at my high school basketball and football games.  Give everybody a crushed up mini bag of Doritos, scoop in some taco meat and let everybody add their own fixings like lettuce, salsa, etc.

Pro: Super easy clean up.  Once the bag contents have been consumed, into the trash it goes!  Also, delish.

Con: In Australia, mini bags of Doritos have about one fourth the amount of Doritos in them as American ones.  Had I known so few chips were in each bag I would've budgeted 2 per person.  I guess this explains a thing or two about America...

Taco in a bag was a huge hit, and I'm chuffed for coming up with such an easy, tasty, convenient, fun lunch.  Go forth, my people, and spread the gospel of the taco [in a bag]!

Final Coochie comment: Go to their official website.  Trust me, you won't regret it.

King Island
Can an island still be called an island if it's accessible by foot?  Indeed it can.

Those trees are on King Island, which you can walk to during low tide.  You'll still get wet up to mid-calf, and also tear your feet up in the process.  Man, that sand was the rockiest, most painful sand I have walked on here!  Usually it's soft and fine enough to polish silver in (for reals).

We watched some dudes kite surfing, which looks like the most fun sport ever!

I told Martin I wanted to take lessons, which he promptly shot down.  He said that you have to be a really good surfer in order to kite surf.  I've never even tried surfing, and know if I ever do I will fail at it epically, so...kite surfing is probably not for me.

But what does Martin know?!  I might be a professional level kite surfer, which I'd never know if I never try.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Live Like a Local

Because Australia is so isolated from the rest of the world, a lot of quintessential Aussie things aren't known to the outside world.  After 2 years here it's hard to differentiate what's funny/different/crazy and what's just normal daily life.

But there's one thing I can never wrap my head around, even after all this time.  I gawk, cringe and publically shun whenever I see it: It is socially acceptable to go shoeless, absolutely anywhere (shirtless, too).  Even grocery stores!

Martin's flip flop broke so he went into the store barefoot, which is no big whoop.  I have always been a bit scandalized/horrified by this cultural norm.  That is...until I tried it myself.

OMG going shoeless in public is amazing!  It's so freeing!  And the crazy thing is, nobody even notices it!  We both went into a mall - a mall - barefoot!  I should note malls aren't carpeted here, and gliding over the cool marble is like a holiday for your toes.  Here we are at a butchers shop!

You can buy meat in bare feet!  I love it!  And plan to continue going barefoot in public places for as long as I'm here.  Because heaven knows you can't do it anywhere else on this planet.

Also curious, but not nearly as enjoyable, of a phenomenon is lack of pay-at-the-pump gas stations.  In fact, gas pumps here are seriously like 80's gas pumps in the US.

You have to go inside to pay for your gas!  And you do so in a 30 year time warp.

I'm a fat ass, so my favorite part of living in/traveling to new places is the food.  When living in the UK, for some reason I - foolishly I might add - avoided eating a tasty Commonwealth treat: meat pies!

Flaking pastry filled with meat and other tasty fillings = brilliant!  The one on the right is also topped with potatoes, gravy and mushy peas, so it's a proper meal!  These are sold on every street corner, and are eaten in place of fast food.  As much as I love Macca's (the Australian term for McDonald's) I'd pick this every time.

Curiously, they don't eat pie as I know it (cherry pie, banana cream pie, etc.).  I think we should combine forces to create a three course pie-filled meal: quiche pie for starter, meat pie for a main and sweet pie for a dessert.  Diabeetus genius!

Every September here in fabulous Brisbane, to finish off the Brisbane Festival they hold an event called Riverfire.  As far as I can tell it's called this because they just blow shit up.

Back a few years ago, they would dump gas out of a fighter jet and light it on fire, creating a flying fire ball behind the plane.  It's a real shame they don't do that anymore, but they did keep the fighter jet fly over:

The jet flies over a few times throughout the day, and thanks to Martin's obsession with aviation we didn't miss a single one!

They also have a fireworks display over the city, and I've got to say it's the best fireworks I have seen anywhere!

We had an amazing vantage point at a friends apartment, which aided in my enjoyment of the event.  Tons of people flock to the areas where the fireworks are set off, which is actually several points along the river.  My idea of hell is being crowded by thousands of people with no seat, toilets or booze.  *shudder*

Another awesome community event is Brisbane Open House, which opens tons of public buildings to schmucks like me for free.  I really wanted to see the Parliament House, which houses the working parliament of Queensland.

It was completed in 1889, 25 years after they started building it.  Fun fact: that is the year that North Dakota became a state.  Did anybody else in the US have to take a semester (or was it a quarter?) of state history in 8th grade?  Or was that just us?  At one point I could name all 53 counties in North Dakota.  This knowledge, though quickly forgotten, has gotten me exactly nowhere in life.

Here are some pictures of the pretty, ornate state house of government:

Events like these make Brisbane a great place to live.  There's always stuff going on, and free stuff to do.  The Brisbane City Council does a damn good job at what they do, and I hope they know that.

One can't live in Australia without running into a few creepy crawlies.  Even though we live in a totally urban setting, we have had a run-in or two to make us realize that nature really is all around us.

This little feller was under my friend Laura's house, in a cupboard by her washing machine.  It's a possum!

Possums are a pest here, and everybody hates them, yet for some reason they're protected.  You can't kill them, but you can evict them if they're illegally squatting under your house.  I think they're adorable!  This one had a baby that was even cuter than its adorable mama.  They are very different from the super fug American possums.

My favorite animal here, without a doubt, is our "pet" Lizzy:

Lizzy Lizardo is a water dragon that lives in the courtyard of our apartment complex.  Every time I walk outside and see her sitting there she scares the living daylights out of me, but then like a crazy person I just say out loud "Oh, Lizzy, it's just you. You scared me!"  She's about 3 feet long, and seeing a mini dinosaur in your peripheral vision has a primal way of freaking you out.

When I don't see her for a long time I get worried.  One time there was a crazy guy pitching a fit in the courtyard and my first thought was "OMG, I hope Lizzy is safe!".  I don't know where she lives (there is a lot of foliage around) or what she eats (heaven knows there are enough bugs). We don't even know if it's a she, and she's certainly not ours, but I like her a lot.

It's going to be a sad, sad day when we have to leave Lizzy and the incredible lifestyle we've been enjoying these past two years.  But that day will come, so I need to mentally start preparing for it now.