Sunday, February 24, 2008

6 Months In: Missing Home

I miss our dryer.

Our dryer back in St. Paul has one temperature – hot. We were never really crazy about it, but oh, what we wouldn’t give to have it with us now.

We are in the land without dryers. One never really considers the inconvenience of this until one has to live without a dryer. (My memories from living in Italy are coming back to me here). Most things are fine drying on a rack, but certain items such as sheets and towels are really good when fluffy. We say that our towels now serve two purposes; drying our bodies and exfoliating us at the same time.

Our apartment comes with a “drying room”. It’s a room down the hallway that is lined with heat pipes and a row of clothes lines. Eric currently has a rather large burn on his leg from the heat pipes that line the walls. It is a dangerous room indeed. We aren’t allowed to hang things outside, so the drying room is mandatory and we get one designated day per week to put our things in the ‘drying room.’ Our day is Monday.

Speaking of missing things from home, I will say that the first three weeks of February were particularly challenging. Loneliness set in and wouldn’t lift itself from our moods and hearts. It may have been compounded by several factors; my mom left at the end of January, I was ill for the first couple weeks of Feb, I had an on call stretch from work that lasted 12 days and included 4 product recalls, the weather was hot and we are so tired of summer, and we had bad news from home. Still feeling deep sadness about the death of Mr. O’Brien just before the Christmas holidays, we now also had news about the murder of one of my co-workers from Guidant and the tragic death of Annie LaFave. It’s awful to hear this news when one is at home; it’s particularly distancing to get the news via email. February winter blues don’t just affect those braving the cold. Apparently, if you are from Minnesota, it travels with you.

Things finally started to get a bit brighter last week and the malaise began to peel itself away. To get ourselves over missing home, we decided to have an “American Day.” We went to the US Consulate office in the morning. However, there were no American’s there – just Australian security guards. Next, we went to the USA food store where we bought brownies, Cap’n Crunch cereal, blue cheese dressing, butterscotch pudding, chicken wing sauce, Heinz 57 sauce, and lucky charms. We really wanted Hellman’s mayonnaise, but it’s in quarantine and it looks like the shipment will be returned to the US. Apparently, they are concerned about the egg content????.... The USA food store is a little place about the size of a 7-eleven and very overpriced (14$ for the Cap’t Crunch), but it is SO WORTH IT. I’m not sure you can sum up the enjoyment we had in eating instant butterscotch pudding from JELLO. You just can’t put a price tag on that sort of pleasure. We also began renting the “West Wing” series and are now almost finished with the third season. We particularly enjoy watching Hal’s sister as the character C.J. Cregg, mainly because she looks like her brother and we feel a connection to Hal when watching her.
We have actually gotten off the couch and out into the world this weekend, including hosting a dinner party this past Friday and going out to breakfast with two other couples this morning (Sunday). We even managed to laugh and smile a bit. Yea!

We made the error of attending a “newcomer’s network” in the height of the bluesy-time and it was a disaster. The newcomer’s network is designed for people who are looking to meet others and are relatively new to Melbourne. People can be from anywhere. We call it speed dating for friends. The only people who talked to us were those practicing their English, and one guy named Carlos who would be later known as the close-talking-bad-breath Venezuelan man. I did walk up to a group that looked interesting and most dispersed when I arrived, leaving me with two people who really weren’t very enthused about conversing.

We are sticking with the people we have met. We’ll just grow the circle from here. Forget the speed dating thing. Our friends thus far include one Australian, one Brit, two Germans, and five American’s. We should be able to come up with a good band name for that.

Well, that’s all for now. I promise to write more often from here on out….as Amy Brenengen so lovingly wrote in her last comment, “For God’s sake, how long do we have to wait for the next blog…”