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…”


otrey3 said...

Ahhhh, a blog entry!!! I think the trip to the store must have helped. Retail therapy can be very useful. I'm so glad you told the story of the close-talking Venezuelan. It was great talking to you and checking out your neighborhood via Google Earth. Has that already been a couple weeks? Good grief. I love the shot of Eric. WE MISS YOU, TOO!!!

amybonnema said...

My sentiments, exactly, Laura! And, I'm constantly reminded that life can sometimes be the most happy (or in some cases bearable) when you consider all of the little things... Sometimes it is captain crunch. I might have to say no to butterscotch pudding.

amybonnema said...

Would you ever consider letting people know that you've posted a new blog entry on your facebook account? (Since you two sucked me into it, I use it pretty regularly...As do several others I know...) Hmmm...

Anna said...

February is OVER! In comes March, and soon, hopefully, your version of Fall. It's hard to read about you guys being homesick... It's such an overwhelming feeling that feels like there is no remedy, other than apparently disgusting butterscoth pudding. When we lived in Reunion it was Kool-Aid... equally as disgusting when made with a cup of pure cane sugar instead of granulated sugar. You can only imagine the taste! No Kool-Aid for us since then...
The "drying room" was hilarious!!! I laughed hard as I remembered the stiff (and sometime stinky thanks to the lack of dryer sheets) towels that you cringe when you dry yourself off with. In England we had a washer and dryer in one machine! That was treat, let me tell you... Nothing like semi-dry clothes being hung out to "dry" in rainy, wet Liverpool.
We still miss you guys terribly. February was a very long month here too as everyone struggled with cabin fever and the ever lingering cold weather (it's March 4th and we woke up to 9 degrees). How are the life-size cut-outs of you guys coming along? I am eager to take cardboard Eric and Elizabeth on many adventures, or maybe just have you guys peak out the top of the fence while I have imaginary conversations with you as Brandon and I pick up Sally poop. I could even wrap the Eric and Elizabeth cutouts in fluffy towels and feed them butterscotch pudding and/or captain crunch... Sounds theraputic for both of us : )