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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'sculptures by the sea' is a thing

Every year some really creative people come up with some really interesting art installations and plonk them down by the sea and along a coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach. It's a mad mob of people and iphone cameras and sand and, this past Saturday, us.

Here is just a really tiny snippet of this very free event. 

File this under: Sights Bears Will Never See.

big circle of tiny flags


blow pop

old mattress spring maze

led. zeppelin.

baby cheeks!

some guy on a bike with a ball

the crowd went wild

snowless globe

that way

mandatory kid coast shot

There are rather nice pictures of this event on their website. They don't have my children in any of their shots so they're not great. But don't let great get in the way of good.   

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

home again

It was the dead of winter. In Sydney. So probably can't really use 'dead of.'  

It was August.

Sure, it was two months ago but that's not the point, this is.

We were going home for a visit and we were experiencing some serious pent-up excitement. It was to be the first time this family four pack had been back since we left the country in 2010. In Charlie years, half his tiny adorable life. One third of Max's dimple time. We couldn't wait to see our people.

Second up on the emotion list:  scared shitless.

The thing about moving away from LA, with every intention of returning to live in LA, is doubt exists and when enough time and moments and TV seasons have passed and you can't remember for the life of you if The Grove is on 3rd or Beverly, it shows up on your doorstep. Unannounced. With a key. And a real mean point to make.

Doubt:  (real mean-like)  Seriously? LA? LA LA? You're actually thinking of one day leaving Sydney -- this picture perfect postcard place that has those people you now can't live without and those ferries you're always on -- to move back to Los Angeles?

Me:  (suddenly full of doubt)  Huh? Well. One day.

Doubt:  (now way meaner)  LA DOESN'T HAVE FERRIES!

Me:  (still trying to figure out where The Grove is)  What?

Doubt:  Dumbass.

Did doubt just call me a dumbass?!

And with that, you'll throw doubt out the door and chase it with a slam. Because no one calls you dumbass in your own house. To your face. But it will be too late. The damage will have been done, and any time you try to think anything, you will always end up back at the same place:  'Am I a dumbass?' So you'll call your husband to find out the answer only to learn that doubt swung by his office and called him a dumbass too.

Dumbass 1:  I mean, our plan was always to move back. Our friends, our family, my--

(career cut off again)

Dumbass 2:  I know we've always said that, but.

Dumbass 1:  But what? What if we no longer like LA?

Dumbass 2:  What if we hate it?

Dumbass 1:  Or.  (real mean-like)  What if it hates us more?

And that is how a pact between two dumbasses is born. We decided this and nothing else:  We'd go, we'd see, we're reassess.

We landed at 6:15 am in Los Angeles after departing Sydney at 9:30 am on the same exact Saturday. Try to explain that to a six-year old. The husband and I had four blinks of sleep between us because the airport chemist sold me a mislabeled why-am-I-still-awake?! pill. We were exhausted and in no condition to judge a potato chip much less the fate of an entire city but from the moment we were jostled out of LAX, judge we did.

The air. Had thick layers of not blue. Should air have layers? The 405 had no answers for us because it was under construction. Again. How much wider could a freeway get and still be called a freeway? We didn't know so we got off and made the mistake of going through our old neighborhood. Brentwood adjacent. When we lived there, it felt like almost Brentwood. Now that we don't, all we could see was the adjacent. Multiple closed down businesses left for dead. A new ihop restaurant in old Blockbuster bones felt offensive. Abandoned shopping carts desperate for a push. It was depressing. And if Giggles and Hugs couldn't make it in West LA, what made us think we could? That was rhetorical but Coffee Bean didn't care. The giant cup of hotness they served me that made my tongue mad was a statement. A statement that said, "Get out!"

So we got out. Out of Santa Monica. Out of West LA. Out of Brentwood adjacent. And started our journey to Sherman Oaks, to our friends' house, in traumatized silence. Only one hour into visit home, I had bad thoughts. I know my husband had bad thoughts too. My children verbalized other thoughts: "When will we be in America?" Things were clearly not going well in our assessment process.

I stared out the window with worry and not enough sunscreen and WHERE WERE THE FERRIES?!

And then.

We saw our first friend. Our first family. Our children played with their children like it was what they were born to do. The parade of people and all four parents and parties and dinners and cousins and so many kids and the W and birthdays and dogs and my sweet little 96-year-old grandmother on her very last day on this planet.

And that was it.

We were homesick for it all.

Mr. & Mrs. Dumbass

Target visit #3.

The airport where one of our children declared to another passenger
in the Southwest boarding line:   Guess what. I'm an American!

J Crew at The Grove.
Corner of Fairfax & W. 3rd.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

one wedding and a family reunion (with a side of legoland and a whole mess of birthdays)

Sixteen hours.

That's how long it will take me to get back home.  To get back to Target.  To get back to my friends and family and the 405.

For sixteen hours I will be on a plane.  Up in the sky.  I will watch a lot a lot of movies.  Random TV shows.  Eat some airplane food.  Think about Deep Vein Thrombosis maybe once or twice.  Do some ankle/leg exercises immediately after.  Drink a lot of water.  Go to the lavatory too many times to count, or maybe less, but probably more.  I will break up some kid fights.  Smile at my husband.  Make nice nice with the flight attendants because I was once a waitress and I know.  I will sit in only one seat with not enough leg room and wish I had more.  And then wish I was in my pajamas.  And then wish I was horizontal like those horizontal people somewhere way in front of me.  And then I will stop wishing because those wishes aren't coming true.  Not on this flight.  And so I'll start piecing together all the little unfolding stories around me.  Him and her and how are those pants comfortable?!  And then I will get bored and notice my family is asleep.  So I will moisturize everything.  And find my glasses.  And take out my contacts. And adjust my multiple blankets -- because of the nice nice earlier, I will have at least two.  And this is when I will pull it out.  One half of my tiny over-the-counter sleeping pill and it will be in my mouth and down my throat and absorbed into my bloodstream as I pray beg hope for sleep. And, in this version of that story, I will sleep.

And just like that, I will be back home.  And at Target.  And with my friends and family and the 405.

And that is what I will be doing for sixteen hours in August.

In comfortable pants.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

door 13 (@ tedx sydney)

I am more or less inspired by five things.  My friends and family.  People who write well.  The others who don’t.  Actual puppy breath.  Not my hair.  And all of those free on-line TED talks.

Last month TEDx came to Sydney.  I had to go.  I tried to get a ticket but somehow ended up with a filled-out application to volunteer instead.

I nailed it.  

My day started early that Saturday.  Too early, I thought, until I got to the Sydney Opera House and saw the sunrise.  Oh my breathtaking.  If you’ve never seen morning come up over the Opera House, put on your pajamas and look at the picture below.  Look at it!

I am not this pretty at 6 am.

It went uphill from here.

All the food on this day was grown or bred or made by locals specifically for the event.  Produce, meats, butter was whipped up on the spot.  Actual bees were set up in the neighboring park to make honey for the conference.  The food was donated on Thursday and from this edible pile of randomness, the chefs made the most amazing, fresh, healthy meals for Saturday.

I ate a plum the size of a water balloon and the innards of this box.  


My job that day was Door 13 of the concert hall.  Behind my door was where you wanted to sit. The sweet seats.  But you only got through Door 13 if this was the door number listed on your ticket for that particular session.  I assume it was to prevent melees and the stampeding of me. Welcome to Checkpoint Charlie.  Only Door 13 people came in Door 13.  Some disoriented Door 14 people were not happy.  All Door 13 people were the opposite.

But I was probably happiest of all the peoples because once the doors were closed, it was an inside job. I got to stay with my Door 13 people.

With the sweet seats.

And with these five badasses.

Joost Bakker.  A fifth-generation tulip farmer intent on saving the world with recycled pee, minimal waste and growing food everywhere.    

David Sinclair.  An Aussie biologist from MIT and Harvard who wants me and you to stop getting old.  But really me.  

Tom Thum.  A beatbox genius who definitely spat on his microphone.  

Ron McCallum.  Adorable, interesting, blind.  Standing ovation by everyone.  

But the unexpected prize of the day and the reason for this post:  the irreverent Kate Miller-Heidke.  A classically trained singer from Brisbane who became an alternative pop artist.  Her voice is magic.  Whether she's doing a cover of The Real Slim Shady or original material.  "The Tiger Inside Will Eat The Child" will make you eat your child.

And my very very very favorite song of Kate's: "Sarah." About a friend of a friend who went missing at a music festival.  It is hauntingly beautiful and a perfect follow up to her lady part story.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

my nude scene

There is no such thing as an annual physical in Australia. You go to the doctor and ask for it, and they look at you like you’re some overindulgent yahoo who wants her bones counted. Here, and in New Zealand, you are considered well until you come forward with a cough, lump, or plague to prove you’re not.

Or. You’re of that age and you get a letter.

I recently got a letter stating it was time for my health check. It opened with how as we get older, many of us become more vulnerable to disease and it ended with me. Their records showed I was within the “age rage” for a health check. A perfectly placed typo. Old me was furious. I didn't like being of that age. But if you add up all the cakes, I was. So I made an appointment. My bones couldn't wait to be counted.

Now I’ve been to my doctor here before for a sore this and a swollen that. The specifics of this and that or my incessant need to Google it all is not important. What is important is my doctor and I have a relationship. One based on respect, honesty, and both of us being fully dressed. 

That relationship changed on health check day. 

Things you should know at this point:
  • No nurses at doctor’s offices here.
  • None of the doctors I have encountered wear a white coat or drape a stethoscope around their necks like they do in the movies or America. 
  • Most family doctors’ offices are in old repurposed buildings. Craftsman houses. Terrace apartments. Mine screams low-performing brothel. 

Things I didn't know at any point:

I was called into my doctor’s room by my doctor. Her office is old, wooden, creaky. There is no sink even though I (and all those girls before me) wished there was. An examining table is pushed up against one wall. A desk occupies the opposite one. In between the two, so much space you could twirl.

What happens next is what nightmares are made of. You know the ones where you show up to an exam, your in-laws’ house, your work four jobs ago and find you have no clothes on. This is that guy but with more gravity.      

Standing in the so much space, I twirl to face my doctor. In her floral dress. With no doctor’s coat. Or stethoscope. Or medical anything anywhere on her person. And this is when I realize that my doctor, as competent as she is, doesn’t look like a doctor. She looks like she could be anything. And this exchange we’re about to have? Well. It could be between me and just about anyone.

Doctor:  Okay, so I’m going to need you to take your clothes off.

Me:  Okay.

Anyone:  Down to your underwear.

Me:  Right. 

I wait for some sort of gown to be offered to me and privacy.

The bookstore clerk offers me nothing and waits.

I awkwardly take off my top. 

The accountant awkwardly watches me fold my top.

I hope a curtain will soon be pulled. But I notice there is no curtain for the off duty security guard to pull. 

I unbutton my denim.

The librarian doesn’t.

Confused but compliant, I pull my jeans down, all the way down, and step out of them. I try not to trip over my shoe as I trip over my shoe.  

The bus driver looks away to check her bus schedule as I discover I’M WEARING THE WRONG UNDERWEAR!

I am mortified.     

The florist looks up and sees my inappropriate thong. 

I apologize for my panty selection.

Astronaut:  No worries. 

Oh but I am worried. Because I am nearly naked! Just standing there. 

The CEO of a Fortune 500 company, also just standing there, reminds me:  Bra too.

Bra too? I think out loud with words.

The farmer nods.

I begrudgingly take off my bra. And, yep, there are my boobs. I am now super naked.  

Your sister:  Let’s get started. 

I cannot believe we’re not done. 

The very not naked human resources manager walks over to the examining table and pats the piece of hygienic paper covering it.

I want to Project Runway that piece of hygienic paper into a robe but it is too small to turn into anything besides a thong, which would be inappropriate and redundant, so instead I sit on it. 

Not Google:  Lie down so I can count your bones.

End scene.

I wish I could say the above word jumble was a one-time dealie, but it wasn't. It happened again weeks later at my mammogram and again at my mole check with varying degrees of me being nude in front of people who weren't nude and had no gown cover up drawer. But that's okay. With experience comes confidence. I now take off my bra before I'm even asked. And I can rattle off my chicken sausage pasta recipe with my pants off. Which is good because I am of that age.  

Tomorrow I go to the ophthalmologist.  

Thursday, February 28, 2013

our tom cruise to tasmania (part two)

The Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania is interesting and fun and weird and shocking and unexpected and irreverent and special and very much like the HBO show "Girls."  You don't think you want to see Lena Dunham in a see-thru yellow mesh top with no bra on but then you do and there's something appealing about it all.  Her.  The show.  Even that top.

MONA's just like that.

Located in Hobart, MONA is Australia's largest private museum owned by David Walsh.  His bio says that his mother named him Glen at birth but then found God and changed his name to David.  He has a dog named Bruce and a cat named Christ.  And he is, he says, a prick. Glen/David came up with some sort of mathematical gambling equation that he applied to poker and ponies and made millions.  With this money and that backstory and no allegiance to God, he built a museum.

It is free for locals and $20 for me.

But.  Beware, socially conservative toddlers.  It's not for everyone or children or my dad, as it does dabble in the disgusting and inappropriate, but it is so incredibly amazing and not many things are these days.

Lena Dunham should definitely put a bra on and go.

You can take a bus or ferry there.
Take the ferry.   

The three-level, cliff-face museum, carved out of the very sandstone it sits in, starts here.

An artist buying stories on the street for a dollar bought this one.

A dark room with one light.
And the blurry, hard-to-articulate/impossible-to-photograph, mesmerizing aura that surrounded it.

This is a scalp.  And that is a bullet hole. 

I loved this painting.

Of tiny little things that I couldn't or wouldn't stop looking at.

Choreographed rain.

Erect bubbles in rubbish bins that moved when you blew on them but just stood there when you didn't.

The human digestion system in machine form.
Food scraps go in, number twos come out.

A socioeconomic statement with backs.

The ones that I thought were the happy rich backs were actually the sad poor ones.

God's mistress drives a really nice car.

The entrance and tennis court and view.

One of the cottages on the grounds you can rent if your name is Brett.
It comes with a peacock, Brett.


Thursday, January 31, 2013

our tom cruise to tasmania (part one)

Does Tom cruise?  Who knows.  But we do.  And just did. 

It was an eight-night cruise.  Sydney to Melbourne to Tasmania.  It was beautiful.  I saw a lot of fat people.  I became a fat people.  I had no choice.  Sydney then sea then Melbourne then more sea then two days in Hobart then a whole lot of sea back.  I ate the entire time.  Never because I was hungry; mostly because it was there and free; once because I had to see what kanga tasted like.


The point is, there were freestanding automated hand sanitizers everywhere.  Purell® is no dummy.  If you entered a dining room, one of the many bars, the casino, or stood in line at the buffet at Windjammer's, you had to sanitize.  If you stopped by the gym, the spa, or contemplated climbing the rock wall and then kept walking, you had to sanitize.  If you had to go to the bathroom, thought about going to the bathroom, or actually went to the bathroom, you had to sanitize.  This coupled with the army of railing and button wipers that Princess employed meant that if you were hoping a gastrointestinal illness might do you some swimsuit favors, you were on the wrong cruise.

Still.  It was super fun.  Even if I didn't climb that rock wall.  The boys gave us a preview of the teenage years and spent all of their non-eating hours at kids' club.  I got to have peace and quiet and read Joan Didion's lovely little sad perfect memoir about her year of magical thinking, and eat bacon.  American bacon.  My husband played basketball and didn't comment on me eating American bacon.  And my in-laws, who were in the cabin right next to ours, were just there. After a couple of years of no relatives anywhere, it was really nice to have the opposite.

And American bacon.

Nine days and an unmentionable amount of extra pounds later, I was back home.  With 99.9% germ-free hands, some nice mid-summer abominable squish, zero Tasmanian Devil sightings, and my new found museum crush:  MONA!

To be continued whether any of us likes it or not.


My boys, some ferries, and that Opera House I can't stop taking pictures of.

Friends who happened to be loitering nearby the day we left.
From tiny left to tiny right:  Sheila, Claire, Bob, Coops, Dave, Nikki, Sally, Tyler, Fin, Toby.
Possibly not in that order at all.

 The other angle:  Me, at the top, between the golf balls, arms up, pre-bacon.

Goodbye, you.

Unsolicited cop face.

Boys who love lanyards.

Port Melbourne.

Puffing Billy aka a really old steam train in Melbourne.

Our VW camper van/cabin #3558.

Our bed's POV.

This is not a time out even though it looks like one.


Royal Tasmanian Botanical Garden is a place.

Our ride back to Sydney.

The reason why I do anything ever.