everyone needs an outlet…

Do you realize that I’ve been in Australia for FIVE months? Yes, I woke up this morning, and it was October. Now, it doesn’t look or act like the October that I’m used to, so only the calendar and my computer are able to convince me of this. That means it’s three months til Christmas, and then I’m on the home stretch.

Not to make you think that I’m counting down until I can leave Oz. More like I’m keeping track, so I know how much time I have left to go visit places like Sydney, Alice Springs, Adelaide, the Great Barrier Reef, and New Zealand. That kind of counting. And yes, I already realize that I won’t be able to visit every place on that list, but I fully intend to be back for a visit, every year or three, after I go home! I can fit them all in, then.

I’m trying to think back at what all’s happened since I got here, what’s changed, what things I do or don’t notice anymore about being here. You know, what’s become old hat. Of course, it’s a trifle difficult to figure out things that you don’t notice. How do you take notice of what you don’t notice?For example, wall outlets and light switches. When I first got here, it took me a little while realize what WAS a light switch, because they don’t look like ours. American light switches are actual SWITCHES, that stick out from the wall enough to see them. And the switch direction is off. Up is on, down is off, at home. But not here. Of course, the part of the button that sticks out, doesn’t really count as a switch, so I guess it’s… if the top is pressed in (the up side), it’s on, if the bottom is pressed in, it’s off. Did I lose you yet? Yeah, me, too.

Now, the wall outlets and the plugs that go into them… well, they look like someone was trying to make plugs like we have in the U.S., but they were drinking a bit, when they put the metal parts in there. So, they’re crooked. But having the on/off switches for outlets is pretty handy, so I can leave the iron plugged in all the time, but have the wall outlet turned off.

It took me months of repeating a litany, every time I locked the car (“Left is not lock, left is not lock”), before I finally had my epiphany (apostrophe, for you Hook fans) over remembering how to lock or unlock the car. At home, you turn the key left to lock it. Here, you turn it right. Confusing? Yes. Three or four months in, I realized that I was looking at this wrong. The key (no pun intended) is that you turn the key to the FRONT of the car, to lock it. Whether the driver’s side is on the right or the left, it doesn’t matter. Turn the key to the front. My “left is not lock” litany went out the window, and I haven’t needed it since.

I’ve stopped hearing some of the Aussie accents. Oh, not all of them, but if I know a person fairly well, I’ve stopped hearing it, unless I purposefully think about it. Most complete strangers, I still hear it, but then, the Australian accent has become so normal to me, that I’ll leave a store before I realize that I didn’t hear the cashier’s accent at all. Then, you sit there wondering if they had one or not.

So, when I was watching the U.S. version of Dancing with the Stars, the other night, I realized that until the two Aussie professionals identified themselves as Aussies, I hadn’t realized where they were from. So, I either didn’t hear the accent at all, or maybe their accents are a little more “mainstream”, from living abroad. Makes me wonder if, when I get home and adjust to American accents again, will I be able to pick out an Aussie accent, then? I think I will, because amongst Americans, speaking pure (and wonderful) American-speak, the Aussies, Brits, and Europeans will stand out.

What else has changed since I got here? Besides the fact that my feet are always dirty, I mean. Yes, that’s what happens with the red dirt outside, running around barefoot, and tracking it inside. It makes me think of Biblical times, and how when they were visiting people, it was polite to offer water to wash your feet. But then, if someone did that here, I have visions of all the muddy water we’d be leaving at the door.

Then again, we don’t always run around barefoot. I try and remember to keep my flip-flops nearby, so I can put them on to go in the yard (stepping in chook poo is DISGUSTING), but I don’t always remember, and I’m often too lazy to run upstairs and get them. Oh, and I have learned to call them “thongs”, when I’m speaking to the kids. I know, you’re shocked. But if I can listen to the kids refer to mommy cats having tits, without blinking, then surely I can refer to flip-flops as thongs.

First day with her eyes open, she's too curious to hold still. Hence, the blurriness.

I assure you, the first time I heard Sadie refer to how cats feed their babies, I tried to get her to use a different word. I find that word to just sound COARSE, and it’s a little awkward, coming from a three year old. But after I tried to get her to stop saying it, she appeared to not hear me, wandered away, and suddenly said “My mommy is sooooo beautiful… and she says tits.”  That really made me laugh, and I shared that story with her mom. And so, I’ve grown accustomed.

I still take notice of whether there are frogs in the shower or toilets, but for the most part, I don’t have a problem doing “frog duty”. I discovered that if there’s one in the toilet, and you flush it, he’ll likely jump (rather than be flushed). So, reach for him with a washcloth in hand, he’ll probably jump all the way out. This might cause me to shriek, if he gets too close, but as long as he’s not in the toilet bowl, I don’t care. This is not a matter of being brave. I’m not. It’s just a matter of dealing with the problem, if I can. If someone else is available to help, or worse, if it were a snake, I would definitely be calling for help. I don’t deal with snakes. And no, I have never yet seen one in the house, or even in the yard, in case you’re worried.

There are probably other things that have changed in my outlook, since arriving here in Oz, but at the moment, they aren’t occurring to me. Oh, yes, I have discovered that life will be dull without potato wedges, sweet chili sauce, and sour cream, once I’ve returned to the U.S.  But these things can be survived (proof positive… I’m living for a year without Zaxby’s). When I think of some more, I’ll share.

But now, I’m going back to re-reading Tamora Pierce’s Trickster’s Choice. I had my one venture outside for the day, to the grocery store and coffee shop, so now I can settle down and enjoy my book. Perhaps next week, I’ll think of somewhere new and different to go on Saturday. Hope you enjoy some of the kiddo pictures. Bubby, like me, rarely wears shoes, either inside or outside.

One thought on “everyone needs an outlet…

  1. Love your post! It brings back memories – like turning the plug on so that the toaster will work! Ahhh…the fun of moving to a new country! When I first came back to Canada I had so much trouble to remember which side of the car to get into! I was forever going to the wrong side! But Australia was great, so totally worth it!

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