Thursday, June 26, 2008


One year ago today, I stepped off a plane and into a world entirely unknown to me. With one American in Sydney and an Australian in Melbourne as my closest connections, I started the process of discovering Australia and myself.

Now looking back a year, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. A new culture, a new job, a new climate, and learning to be by myself. It wasn't always easy, but it's always been good.

Shortly after arriving, I read an article on the difference between "friends" and "mates". Friends you take or leave. You meet, might be friends for the night, or a month or even a year, but the bar is low to become a friend, and it's easy to go back to not being friends. Mates on the other hand seem to take on some meaning from the verb form of the word. Being a mate is more intimate. It takes time. I was friends with people in Cairns pretty quickly, but it took time to really develop into mates. Now, with most of them spread across Australia, I keep in regular touch with them in some cases more than with my American friends.

Coincidentally, today I sent my laptop back to BCG and I received a package from BCG with the remainder of the items I left at my desk in Boston. Now, a year from my arrival, I am completely severed from BCG. And isn't it great!

I looked back at my first post. My predictions. They seem sort of silly now, in light of the fact that Australia is no longer just a trip for me, but it's my life now. Of course I have more shoes, I've read more books, and still have not had a venomous attack. When I moved to Brisbane I still had my four bags, but now I had 3 boxes, and none of them a bike box. And I was ridiculously over the weight limit. Now I own silverware and plates, towels, and sheets. All the little pieces of a life here.

I'm still living a bit of a hybrid life. Still in a mostly furnished apartment, with a lot of my time spent thinking about or skyping to the US. Maybe that's the way it will always be, whether I'm in the US or Australia, always with a connection to the other.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Amendment: Slowest of the slow

Today I rode with the slow group, and I still couldn't keep up. I brake when going down hills or around corners or when there's a car anywhere in my sight. And then I'm constantly playing catch up.

Fastest of the slow, slowest of the fast

I've joined a tri team. The Brisbane Tri Squad. It is far more serious than my training in Cairns, and it should be since I have to pay a monthly fee. But it means that I have coaches to oversee my program and improve my technique.

Last week I did my first ride with them. They break into three levels. Level 1 being super fast, Level 3 being entry level. Or as the bike coach defines them "Fast, Very Fast, Incredibly Fast". So I decided I'd try out the "fast" or entry level ride. This ride felt a bit slow. Granted, one of the girls got a flat in the first 10K or so. But still, I thought it wasn't really challenging. I decided to take on Level 2 this week.

Fastforward to last Sunday. I wake up with some pretty tired legs after an hour of twenty minutes of hill running the previous morning. But decide to go ahead and join up with level 2 anyway. There are only 4 other riders and the head coach when I arrive. We take off at a good pace, but we're heading through the city, so there's lots of lights, clipping in and clipping out. I'm still not especially good at that, so I always have to catch up from the lights. Then we start hitting the hills. And my legs just don't have it in them. The coach is great, riding along with me, several meters back from the pack, and giving me pointers (really got my money's worth out of this ride), but still, it's obvious, I can't hack it. He and I turn back early, catch up with group 3, where he drops me off.

Now I'm of two minds about this. One says, I should stick with the group I can hang with, a less humbling and far more enjoyable ride. The other says, if I want to improve I should ride with the fast group and be challenged. I'll get faster faster. I think after this week, I'll go back to level 3 for a few weeks til I build up the courage to try them out again. Maybe next time with stronger legs.

Similarly, I've been swimming with the UQ adult swim squad. There are three lanes. I tried the slow lane the first time, and I was faster than the rest. But this time, I didn't get too encouraged by this. I stuck to the slow lane, and I was the only one. So the coach moved some medium swimmers into my lane. And I was back to being the slowest of the slow. Yay.

I want to use this coaching time to really improve my technique. Take stroke improvement classes, I've been doing an indoor ride (where I bring my bike and put it on a wind trainer - which makes it into a stationary bike) to get technique improvement on my cycling.

Oh, and I signed up for my next olympic distance triathlon. November 2, in Noosa (2 hours north of Brisbane). It's the largest olympic distance race in australia, and it's supposed to be a crazy awesome party. Woo hoo. A few shorter tri's between now and then, and of course the Gold Coast half marathon coming up in a week and a half.

Friday, June 13, 2008

For serious

I continue to settle in. Starting to figure out a routine, which sessions to go to at the pool, going for a ride tomorrow with a tri squad. But I keep feeling like this is for serious now. It didn't hit me when I changed the subtitle of the blog from 6 to 9 months, or even when I made it say "ongoing." But now, working and living in Brisbane, it seems like this is no long an adventure, it's my life. I live in a foreign country. I work here. Sorta freaky.

People ask me how long I'm here for, and I say "indefinitely". It's not that I don't think I'll ever come back, it's just that I no longer have an end date.

My Australian anniversary is in 2 weeks. And after that I'll look to celebrate another fourth of July and a second birthday abroad. It is still the right thing to be here, I just have to remember that the clock doesn't stop just because I'm away.

In related news, the two other Americans at work and I are trying to figure out how to celebrate the fourth. I was thinking tiny American flags on every one's desks. Perhaps pigs in a blanket. Maybe trying to scare up some Sam Adams and some reese's cups (no I still don't eat peanut butter, but I'm thinking of the Aussies). Any suggestions? Volunteers to ship American goods down under.

And finally, I bought this recipe magazine. It seems unlikely that it is entirely created, photographed and edited by gay men. But, I can see no other possible explanation for this photo:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Contact info


I moved here are my new details:
2402/6 Manning St
South Brisbane QLD 4101

My mobile remains the same +61 438 632 855

And my new work address is:
Level 7, General Purpose South
Staff House Road
The University of QLD
Brisbane QLD 4072

work is still the best address for packages.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Settling in

Four days of work and a new bike. So far, so good.

It may be a bit early, but work seems pretty awesome. I work with the techology commercialisation team (which is about half the company, ~40 people), but I sit with the school of IT and electrical engineering 3 stories downstairs. I come up to UniQuest several times a day for meetings and lunch. I've been wandering the corridors introducing myself to grad students and researchers. And otherwise looking at a few technologies that some profs have brought my way. My office is huge, though relatively bare (I'm thinking of taking my digital picture frame into work). The people are all welcoming, the hours are officially 8:30 to 5:30, though the office is empty at 8:30 and pretty vacant again by 5:15. But most importantly, I feel pretty comfortable, even though I still don't know what I'm doing. I feel confident I can do this job well. What a change from BCG.

I live a 5 minute walk to the big bus station where I can take the express bus which takes about 12 minutes to get to campus, then it's another 5 or so minutes walk across campus to my building, General Purpose South (and I thought MIT had a bad naming scheme). The only problem with the commute is that there seem to be 4 different schedules for the bus: there's the online one, the one that's published at the stops, the digital one that flickers up at the stations, and then the one they actually run on. None of them is particularly indicative of the others. But in general, they run every 5 minutes in the morning and every 10 minutes in the evenings. So... Not so bad.

I need to do some work clothes shopping. I didn't bring a lot of "work clothes" over to Cairns, and the office is actually an office, unlike CYI. Plus I've shrunk a bit since I bought these work clothes, so things seem to hang off me. Guess this means more shopping this weekend. Thank goodness for Queen's Birthday sales! That's right, I have Monday off for the celebration of the Queen's birthday. It should be noted that the Queen Elizabeth II's birthday is actually on the 21st of April. Of course it's not the Queen's birthday in Western Australia, cause it's celebrated there sometime in September.

The apartment is coming together. Still needs a different TV stand, a BBQ on the porch and a bit more decor, but it's good. The curtains help a lot.

And then there's the bike. I just picked her up today, and she's a beauty. Small and stealthy. I'm thinking her name might be Leticia. Not luh-ti-sha, but la-tee-see-ah. Despite being an American bike, she just seems exotic. Tomorrow morning I'm gonna take her to the indoor bike studio for her first ride. I'm still nervous about riding her. She's so new and shiny. And I will try to do better by her than my LeMond, but I can't promise that she won't take a beating. I'm still learning.

I haven't joined a tri club yet. I'm still trying to figure out with my work schedule what will work best. The ride tomorrow morning is with the Brisbane Tri Squad and the studio is just down the street from me. But they swim in the Valley which is too far for me to go. There is a tri club at UQ, but I'm not sure if it'll work either: they practice at UQ at 5:30am which means I'd have to ride to work everyday in the dark, cause buses don't run that early.

So slowly, I'm starting to build a life here.

Living in Brissie

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