Choose Your Own Adventure

Recently I was talking to a friend – single, early 30’s (not me, although I could definitely relate to what she was talking about) – and she was telling me about how down she was getting with everyone constantly asking her when she was getting married and having babies.

As a single woman, I cannot even begin to tell you how offensive it is when people do this.

  1. It’s nobody’s business.
  2. Not everyone wants children, and that’s fine!
  3. Not everyone wants to get married, and that’s fine!
  4. Sometimes people can be privately struggling with fertility issues, and asking them when they’re going to have a baby is incredibly insensitive.
  5. It’s nobody’s business.

Also, how come nobody asks men these questions?! We love to talk about feminism, and yet society is still hung up on imposing these traditional roles on women.

The only man I can think of who has maybe come close to enduring the kind of scrutiny women constantly face about marriage and babies is Prince Harry. And he’s rich AF. At least he gets to go home and cry into his piles of money at night.

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Now I’d just like to say I have nothing against married couples or people with children, but as a single woman, it’s hard not to think they have an issue with me.

You often get the impression married people or people with families assume they’re better than single people. As if they’ve tapped into the true meaning of life and they pity you as you wander aimlessly on this Earth. A lost soul.

I’ve even had people tell me it was a “pain” and an “inconvenience” trying to seat the single people at their wedding. How quickly they forget…

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If I had a dollar for every time a coupled up person asked me, “Why are you still single?” It’s like, “F***, Gina, I don’t know! Why do birds fly?”

Or every time someone told me I was going to “die alone”. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Uncle Phil, but unless we go out in a terrorist attack, we’re all going to die alone. Do you think this is the f***ing Notebook or something?!

Could you imagine if childless singles had the upper hand in this situation?! I imagine the flyaway comments would sound something like this:

“How’s your marriage going? Has anyone dropped the D-bomb yet?” *leans in and whispers* “Divorce.”

“Don’t you miss your freedom and independence?”

“So how old were you when you realised you wanted to spend your life driving kids to extracurricular activities?”

“No more spontaneous nights out for you!”

“When was the last time you were able to take a dump in peace?”

“What’s that screeching sound? Oh, it’s just your kids. Sorry.”

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“You have three kids?! I’m so sorry.”

“Is the station wagon your dream car?”

“Do you ever feel like you settled?”

“Can we talk about something other than your kids? I mean, do you even have anything else we can talk about?”

“Please, tell me more about the last poo explosion you encountered. I’m fascinated.”

“Wow! So you haven’t slept in six years?! How does that feel?!”

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“No, I don’t have kids, I have a life.”

“Do you ever look at your spouse with anything other than regret and resentment anymore?”

“The good old ball and chain, huh… How does it feel to be serving a life sentence?”

“Do you ever wake up, look around and wonder, ‘How did I get here?’”

“Oh, I see you’ve accessorised with snot today. It looks good.”

“Uh, I think your daughter just spat at that lady…”

“You’re married! And you have kids! Well, you must have all of life’s answers… Please, enlighten me with your wisdom.”

“Do you ever wish you’d held out for Ryan Gosling instead?”

“Tell me more about the art of the 30-second shower. It sounds soothing.”

“Don’t you feel like you’re missing out on, like, fun?”

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“I slept in until 11am today. What did you do?”

“Aren’t you worried about looking back and regretting all the things you didn’t do? I mean, tick-tock, you won’t be climbing Machu Picchu in your 70’s.”

I apologise if this offends anyone… Actually, I don’t. I’ve been offended plenty of times by unapologetic smug marrieds (yep, everything Bridget Jones talks about is true), and now you know how it feels.

I refuse to perpetuate this myth that being single and childless means being sad, desperate and alone with cats. Well, you know what, I’ve lived alone on the other side of the world, and it’s been pretty damn great having no one telling me how I should live my life. People have tried, sure, but the sound of the Pacific Ocean has drowned you all out.

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At the end of the day, there’s no “right” way to live your life. Everyone has their own hopes, dreams and aspirations. If your dream is to live off the grid and spend the rest of your life sketching wild animals on grains of rice, I fully support that. I hold some concerns for the future of your eyesight, but that’s your business.

Everyone is on their own path, and just because they may be venturing down a different path to you doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one. Some people are single, some people are in relationships but don’t want to get married, some people are married but don’t want kids, some people are married with kids… None of it is wrong, and nobody’s path is fixed. You do you and quit worrying about what other people are doing. To each their own.

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Dear America,

We need to talk.

Next week is six months since I moved here, and if I’m being completely honest, it hasn’t gotten any easier. I’d be lying if I said I loved it here. At best, it’s been meh.

I think you know where this is headed, so I’ll give you a moment to grab a pint of ice cream and some tissues. Ready? Okay…

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It’s not me, it’s you. I really think you need to take a good, long look at yourself.

For too long, people have been telling you you’re amazing, the greatest, the “promised land”… and now your ego is completely out of control.

Not to go all Will McEvoy on you (The Newsroom, people!), but when people tell me America is the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** they’re talking about!

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Sure, there are some good things. You’d be hard-pressed to find a L’Oreal mascara for $7 in Australia, and you guys do have Disneyland – I’ll give you that. But here is my advice if you’re planning on moving here – don’t. Basically, you should fly in, buy your mascara, go to Disneyland, and then piss off back to wherever you came from. Trust me, it’s better that way…

Think of America as the really hot one-night stand you once had. It was fun while it lasted, and you’ll always have the amazing memories, but that’s all it should ever be. If you enter into a relationship with them, pretty soon you’re going to discover they bite their toenails.

It hasn’t all been bad – I’ve had some really great times, too. But if I’m being honest, every day has been a bit of a struggle.

For one, I am poor here. Legitimately poor. That’s not just me being melodramatic either. Believe me when I say I am barely making ends meet. I did the math yesterday, and I discovered my salary has almost been halved since I moved here. People just earn less over here, it’s a simple fact. I’ve actually been told I’m on “good money” by comparison to most others. Most people you talk to are having to work two jobs just to get by! But financially, I feel like I’m running on a treadmill.

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Consider this: the minimum wage in California is $10.50 per hour compared with $16.88 in Australia. There are no penalty rates in the US, so it doesn’t matter if you work weekends or public holidays, you’re always paid the exact same shitty amount.

Listen up, Australia! I know you’ve been cutting penalty rates while I’ve been away (tsk, tsk), and let me tell you now – I’ve been to the other side and the grass is not greener. In fact, it’s kind of brown and dying.

Also, what is up with your holidays, America?! Two weeks annual leave a year and you can’t even take it in a block?! That’s it?! No wonder most Americans don’t even own a passport…

There is no middle class here in LA. People are either really rich or poor. I’m talking ridiculously rich! These people don’t just live in mansions, they live in castles. And then you’ve got the other extreme… I once saw a homeless guy sweeping the gutter in front of his tent.

But it’s not just a matter of money. People kind of suck in America… Now, before I go on, I’d like to offer up a disclaimer. I have actually met a lot of lovely, amazing people who have embraced me and welcomed me into their lives. I appreciate these people so, so much and will be forever thankful for them. Unfortunately I don’t get to see them often enough, because everyone is so busy just trying to survive in this crazy place.

Having said all that, I have also attracted an obsessive, somewhat manipulative stalker and a raging alcoholic in the time I’ve been here, so you know, there’s that…

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Also, most people aren’t genuinely warm and friendly in America. It just doesn’t seem to come naturally to them. Australians are so damn nice! That’s something I’ve only realised while living here.

I’ll be chatting with someone, feeling like we’re connecting, and then all of a sudden, they’ll slip me their business card. You know, just in case I’m ever looking for a life coach/DJ/motivational speaker/photographer/interpretive dancer/want to check out their YouTube channel… It’s really hard to make friends here. Trust me, I’ve tried – and I can generally befriend anyone. People love me!

A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I went to San Diego. This man started talking to us and then offered to take our photo. We obliged, and then shortly afterwards, he asked us for a tip. Here’s a tip: don’t be such an asshole! My sister sheepishly slipped him a couple of dollars, but I was fuming. You could probably see the steam coming out of my ears for the next 15 minutes.

See, the thing is, I explained to my sister, people like that guy aren’t even the exception over here – they’re the norm. Almost everyone who does something nice for you expects something in return. I’ve experienced it over and over again.

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As a result, I’ve learned to rely on myself. I’ve had to harden myself to the world. I now question everyone and everything.

Anyone who knows me knows I am generally quite a cheerful, easygoing person. Well, congratulations, America – you’ve managed to take someone who was potentially the happiest person in the world, and you’ve turned her into a miserable bitch!

I’m stressed out 90 percent of the time. I have legitimately developed anxiety just from living here. I am lonely and, for the most part, I am alone.

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On the plus side, I’ve also become much tougher. I feel like if someone wanted to take me on or give me shit, I’d now tell them to get f***ed. But probably not in America, because, you know, guns…

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Also, what is up with your healthcare system?! How has this not been fixed yet?! I know someone who went to hospital recently for 90 minutes to get a few X-rays after he was hit by a car, and he got a bill for $5700!

And speaking of cars, people can’t drive for shit in LA. I’m reminded that I’m still in the Wild West every time I get onto a freeway. Except they’ve now replaced horses with cars… Rarely a day goes by when I don’t see an accident. The other day, I saw a seven-car pile up (I counted). Now that takes some serious skill and commitment. Seven cars! Wow. Someone give them all keys to the city – and then point out which pedal is the accelerator and which is the brake.

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And don’t even get me started on Trump…

So, at this stage, unless Steven Spielberg discovers me and asks me to write his next movie or something like that, I will be returning to Australia in November. Which is a shame, because I’m really going to miss Target in America…

Yours sincerely,

Demeter

The American Dream

After “Are you dating Jake Gyllenhaal yet?” (To which my answer is, “I’m working on it.”), the question I’ve been asked most by my family and friends since moving to the USA in November is, “What’s it like over there? You know, now…”

The best answer I can give is it’s surreal. I feel a bit like I’ve run into a burning building. It’s like going over to your friend’s house and arriving right when they’re in the middle of a heated argument with their spouse. It’s awkward as hell, my timing couldn’t have been worse (seriously – I got here one day before the election), and you’re not really sure if you’re welcome anymore or if you should just leave and go home.

California is predominantly a Democrat state, so I can honestly say I am yet to meet a Trump supporter. At best, they’re cautiously neutral on the topic, but not one person I’ve encountered has been like, “YAYYYYY! TRUMP! He’s that guy who’s making America great again!”

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Also, I can practically wave at the Mexican border from my apartment, so there’s that…

Most people are angry, disbelieving, frustrated and scared. The vibe is a bit like a death. Probably the slow, painful death of a nation…

As you may have noticed, this is not my first time at the rodeo. I’ve been to America many, many times before. Now, I understand visiting a country is completely different to actually living in it, but one of the things I loved most about the US – aside from the diversity of its people – was its energy. It was always vibrant, colourful and fun! Then again though, I’d usually just go to Sephora, stock up on makeup, visit Disneyland and then piss off back home to Australia.

Since the election – but more so since the inauguration – the vibe has completely changed. People walk around shell-shocked now. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Trump has brought about so much contention and so many changes in such a short amount of time, most people are so overwhelmed by the situation, they don’t even know where to start. (Hence the many protests, which some people are starting to call disorganised.)

The other night I met a young Iranian man who has been living here for eight months on a green card. He’s studying at university, but he told me he was worried he was going to be deported back to Iran.

“I just have to wait and see what happens now,” he told me, visibly stressed and saddened by the whole situation.

What Mr Trump needs to remember is that we are all more alike than we are different. Most people – no matter what their nationality, race or religion – are good. And they just want to create a better life for themselves and their families. I know that’s what my grandparents were doing when they migrated to Australia in the 1950’s.

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I took a DNA test last year and was surprised to discover I was nine percent Middle Eastern. (I’d be interested in seeing Trump’s DNA results… He might even discover there’s some Mexican and Middle Eastern mixed in there.) If my family had never migrated from the Middle East into Greece and then eventually into Australia, would I be banned too?

I obviously have some strong opinions on the whole situation, but I am going to put my journalist hat on and try to remain as objective as possible, mainly because my family is genuinely worried I’ll get deported. Even though last time I checked, freedom of speech was still a thing in America – or has he abolished that, too? I can’t keep up. He’s been moving so ferociously…

I’m not saying America was perfect before Trump came along. Obviously there were and still are many problems. The cracks were already there. But what he’s done is rip them wide open. And instead of working to mend the problems and rebuild the bridges, he’s building walls.

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Fight Like a Girl!

I don’t want to say it’s been raining ever since Inauguration Day, except it’s been raining ever since Inauguration Day… There were actual storm warnings on Inauguration Day, and heaven knows it hasn’t stopped raining today. Not once. In fact, the only day the sun came out was yesterday – for the Women’s March. It’s like even God thinks this whole Trump as President thing is a bad idea.

But it did stop raining yesterday – thank God – because it made it a whole lot more pleasant to be charging the streets of Downtown LA.

When I first found out about the Women’s March, I really wanted to go. Obviously. I think anyone with any integrity and decency would want to go. But I was so tired from my first week at work, especially after almost a solid week of waking up at 5.30am everyday to get there. (Anyone who knows me knows I am legitimately allergic to mornings.) Would I have rather spent my Saturday morning sleeping in? Yes. But I felt like this was important.

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You can’t talk politics with Uber and Lyft drivers as much as I do and then refuse to put your money where your mouth is when you are given an opportunity. It’s time to DO SOMETHING! We can’t afford to be complacent anymore. Not now. Not when there’s so much at stake. Complaining just won’t cut it.

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So I showered, dressed and made my way over to the train station in Universal City, bound for Downtown LA. The train was packed, and I spent the commute talking to the African-American gentleman beside me.

“This is what it’s all about,” he told me. “We come from different countries, our skin is a different colour, but we’re finding common ground…”

“In a weird way, I’m kind of glad Trump won the election,” I replied. “Because he’s been so divisive with everything he’s said and done, but in trying to tear people apart, he’s actually pulled them closer together and blown open the lid on a lot of issues that were simmering under the surface, things that probably would never have been addressed otherwise.”

As usual, I was right. Marching yesterday was so many things – powerful, moving, inspiring, beautiful. There was nothing but actual love in the air. You could literally feel the energy! A complete stranger wished me “nothing but luck in life”, and her kind words, along with the complete sincerity with which she said them, left a huge smile on my face for the rest of the day.

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It was such a surreal experience. I had several moments throughout the day where I thought, “Holy shit! We’re making history right now! This is HUGE.” I wasn’t around in the ’60s (not in this life, anyway), but it reminded me of the movements happening back then. It was such an incredible day – one that I’ll never forget.

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A part of what made it so special was not only seeing just how many people turned out for it (approximately 750,000 in LA alone), but also how diverse the crowd was… There were women, of course, but almost as many men turned out. I cannot even begin to describe how it felt to see so many men – young, old and everything in between – down there. Not only do gentlemen still exist, but they’re willing to stand with us AND fight for us! It was incredible to witness.

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There were people of all different races, all different religions and all different sexual orientations peacefully coming together. It was beautiful! I saw humankind at its very best yesterday. Is this what John Lennon was talking about when he wrote, “Imagine”? Probably.

The reality is, we’re stronger when we come together. It may seem idealistic, but I witnessed it up close yesterday. We’re currently living in a world where fear is at an all-time high. Fear of terrorism, of globalisation… Fear of “the other”. And then you’ve got a select few, like Donald Trump and Lord Farquaad, the guy behind Brexit (I can never be bothered remembering his actual name), who have used this fear as an opportunity to advance themselves and their agendas. Our responsibility – as citizens of this world – is to not cave into the fear. Don’t believe the hype! For the most part, people are still really good. No matter who we are and where we’ve come from, we’re all just doing our best to get by in life. Live with kindness and compassion.

So, this is why I marched…

1. There’s that whole feminist thing…

I’ve been a staunch feminist for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I used to have a lot of discussions/arguments with my dad about gender equality. (Yes, these are the things we argue about in my family.) Frustrated, my dad would usually say to me, “Geez, you’re such a feminist, Demeter!” Like it was a dirty word. “YEP,” would be my proud response.

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2. As women, we can’t expect others to stand up for us until we learn to stand up for ourselves…

This is a conversation I’ve had a lot with my friend, Sylvia in recent months. While it was amazing to see so many men out there yesterday, it was just as good to see so many women standing together and supporting each other. As women, we can often be our own worst enemies. We often tear each other down unnecessarily, instead of lifting each other up. If we banded together, we’d be unstoppable. How can we expect anyone else to stand up for us when we won’t even stand up for ourselves and each other?!

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3. Because women are pretty amazing…

We’re kind, powerful, beautiful, strong, gentle, complex, intuitive, opinionated, smart, brave, valuable, and it’s about time we all started realising it! I was reading a book the other day, and there was a line that really resonated with me: “The closest thing to God on this earth is a woman’s body – it’s where life comes from.” Powerful stuff.

4. Because women are still treated like second class citizens…

We’ve come a long way, sure, but we still have such a long way to go! I want to feel safe when I walk down the street by myself. I want to earn the same amount a man earns for doing the same job. I want to be able to go out without feeling hungry eyes on me. I want to have ownership over my body. I don’t want to have to grit my teeth whenever someone makes a sexist or suggestive comment… And don’t even get me started on our sisters around the world, who are often still systemically abused and discriminated against solely because they happen to have been born female.

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5. Because if we’re having to deal with periods and having babies, we shouldn’t have to deal with misogyny, too. That’s just the cherry on a shit pie.

6. Because we’ve gone from having a kind, self-confessed feminist as President of the United States to a racist man who boasts about sexually assaulting women…

This is NOT okay, and ALL women should be shocked, outraged and offended by the fact he was elected to office. It shows how little America – and the world – values its women and minorities.

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7. Because I believe ALL people are equal…

I don’t care if you’re black, white, male, female, gay, straight, disabled and everything in between. We are all the same, and we should all have the same rights and opportunities. We all belong to one race – the human race. In fact, why are we still even having to discuss this?!

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8. Because we’d be letting down the feisty, determined women who came before us if we DIDN’T do something! We have a responsibility to the sisterhood and to humankind to not just sit idly by.

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Dear, well, everyone…

I’m sorry I haven’t been in contact much… I promise I haven’t gone “all LA” on you. I’m still the same person I was when I left Australia in November, except now I’m a little bit poorer.

I think about you all often, and I mean to message and call, but I usually think of it while I’m in the shower, and then by the time I’m out, I’ve forgotten.

Bottom line is, I really, really miss you all. Today, as I stood in the queue for the checkout at Marshalls, I found myself thinking, “I could have a good life here in LA… If my family and friends were here, too.”

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Don’t get me wrong – I’ve met some really great people over here (shout out to American Steve, mainly just because I like saying “American Steve”), but they’re no substitute for the people I left behind at home.

Also, it’s been really hard keeping myself alive! I don’t mean for that to sound melodramatic, but when you move overseas, the safety net is pulled right out from under you. If you can’t pay your rent, that’s on you – there’s no one to bail you out. Speaking of bailing me out, who would I even call if I got arrested over here…?

It’s been terrifying and exhausting, and I’ve challenged myself in ways I couldn’t have even imagined…

For one, I’ve recently realised that I’m going to have to drive in LA. Despite trying to avoid it for the last two-and-a-half months, there’s really no way around it. If you don’t drive in LA, you’re basically screwed. I was really nervous about driving over here for a few reasons…

1. Everything is opposite – opposite side of the road, opposite side of the car…

2. Traffic is a nightmare in LA, and if I’m being honest, so are the drivers.

3. Have you seen those freeways?! They’re like the Costco of freeways! Six lanes on either side, and cars and trucks flying past you!

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Feeling stressed about the whole situation, I decided to book myself in for a two-hour driving lesson, just to familiarise myself with the roads and rules over here. I even drove on the freeway! I swear to God, when I entered the freeway for the first time, the car suddenly smelt like a church. It was probably just the instructor’s aftershave sweating off him, but I think something holy was happening in that car. I must’ve done okay though, because the instructor felt comfortable enough to take personal phone calls while I was switching up lanes on the freeway.

And in other news, I’ve finally found a steady paying job over here! I’m going to be freelancing at the Daily Mail down in Venice Beach. That means I don’t have to prostitute myself out just yet… I can (hopefully) pay my rent for another month!

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If you’ve been wondering what the hell I’ve been doing over here, I assure you, it has not been all crazy days out at Disneyland. (I’ve only been once, FYI. And it was a crazy day!) In between going on supermarket runs to Trader Joe’s, I’ve spent the majority of my time looking for and applying for jobs. It’s been a hard slog, and can be demoralising at times – especially when some of the only people contacting you for work are people who want you to sell retirement insurance or replacement windows. How did these people even get my number, and did they even bother to look at my resume?! It’s made me question my career path, if I want to be a journalist anymore, and if I even should keep writing!

It really hasn’t been easy over here. A lot of people have told me that LA is a city that will “make or break you”, and from what I’ve experienced so far, I wholeheartedly agree. Most times I feel like I’m just barely treading water, but I haven’t drowned yet. I won’t let LA break me!

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So I just want to apologise if you haven’t heard from me in a while… I promise I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve just been busy with, well, life.

Love you and miss you,

Demeter xx

It’s a New Year…

Yes, I know we’re already almost a week into 2017, and this blog post might have been better if it was posted, say, last week. But I’ve been really busy, and now I need closure on the year that was 2016, so screw you and your judgemental opinions! Here’s a rundown of my last year. Month. By. Month…

January

In true Demeter style (I’ll try to refer to myself less in the third person this year, promise), I started the year off in a sling. Typical. I also went to Hawaii in January, so it wasn’t all bad…

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February

This month is really just a big blur… I probably just slept through it, to be honest.

March

I had shoulder surgery (again) to hopefully fix my dodgy shoulder for good this time!

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April

I was made redundant (well, look at that – there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…) and I celebrated my birthday – in a sling. For the second consecutive year.

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May

Still slingin’ it…

June

I started working as a freelance journalist, which has been interesting… Not having a steady income has been bad. But finally getting that whole work/life balance thing down has been good.

July

Lots of physiotherapy on my shoulder. And sleep.

August

See July.

September

I announce I’m moving to the USA after qualifying for a Green Card… Shit just got real.

October

This month was really just one big farewell party. Oh, and my sister turned 30, so more parties…

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November

I flew to America with my mum in tow and proceeded to set myself up for a life in sunny California.

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December

Turns out California isn’t so sunny after all… Also, it’s cold! Why is it so cold here?! My friend, Cathie flies into LA and spends Christmas and New Years with me. In return, I show her the sights and let her use up all my toilet paper.

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I have no idea what 2017 will bring, but so far it’s been interesting… Here’s hoping for a happy new year! xx

There’s No Place Like Home…

Moving to LA has given me a new appreciation for Sydney and Australia – one I almost certainly wouldn’t have developed if I’d never left.

Having been born and raised in Sydney, I spent my first 33 years there, and – especially recently – certain things were starting to grate on me. The increase in crowds seemingly EVERYWHERE (Seriously, do people have nothing better to do than drive around for 45 minutes looking for a parking spot, only to then line up for an hour to order an overpriced and overhyped gelato?!), the endless traffic (It’s Sunday, people! Get off the roads!), unaffordable housing (So, I guess I’ll just live at home forever…), the high cost of living (“$16 for a toasted cheese sandwich?! Is it cheaper if you don’t toast it?!”), the high rise apartments popping up everywhere (Oh, look – another crane…), expensive and unreliable public transport (Signal failure? Again? Really?), the pretentious douchebags mixed in with our heavy drinking culture (“I’m gonna get really pissed tonight!” said no American ever), and an out of touch government (If we all ate less avocado smash, we’d be able to afford houses apparently. Problem solved. You’re welcome, Australia!)

You get the idea… Sydney was beginning to feel incredibly hostile. I was drained, exhausted, and tired of fighting a battle I felt destined to lose. It was time for a change. Time to step out of the bubble, get off the treadmill and set off on a new adventure…

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What I didn’t expect though was just how much I would actually miss Sydney. It turns out my old foe was actually also my friend. Let’s just call us frienemies… And while I’m sure all the things that aggravated me about Sydney haven’t changed, putting some distance between us has made me able to appreciate the good things!

For one, it really is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, something which is easy to take for granted when you’re constantly surrounded by it. It’s also clean! That was one of the things I found most shocking when I first arrived in LA – there’s so much rubbish littering the streets here.

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Collectively, we’re also incredibly laidback and friendly. No problem is ever too big for Australians (except for legalising gay marriage and accepting refugees, but that’s another blog post…). I noticed this while attending a movie screening in Hollywood with my Aussie friend, Tade recently. The lady on the door was being especially snappy with all of the guests. Her rudeness was actually shocking to me.

“Well, she seems delightful,” I murmured to Tade.

“Are people still nice in Australia?” Tade replied excitedly. “Oh my God! They are, aren’t they?!”

Tade has been living in LA for two-and-a-half years, and in that time, she hasn’t gone home once. She said even just listening to my accent was making her homesick.

“I’m going home in January, and I can’t wait!” she told me. “The first thing I’m going to do is stick my head under the tap and drink the water!”

“What’s wrong with the water here?!” I asked her, a rising level of panic in my voice.

“You haven’t been drinking the water, have you?!” she shot back.

“Yes!” I practically shouted at her.

No one drinks the water in LA! Everyone drinks bottled water!”

More than an hour later, I was still obsessing about the water situation… No wonder I’d had a funny stomach for the last four weeks. What the f***, America?! This is a first world country!

“I just ran into Nicole Kidman in the toilet!” Tade told me after returning from the bathroom.

“That’s great… Seriously, what’s wrong with the water?!” I asked her again.

The film just so happened to be an Aussie movie called Lion. There was a scene where one of the characters says, “Australia is a great place!” That was it – I was gone. Tears started streaming down my face, as I silently told myself, “It really is.” I cried even more when the camera panned across the iconic Australian landscape.

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A few days ago, I went into Bath & Body Works – a shop in the US.

“Are you Australian?” the shop assistant asked me.

“What gives me away? Is it my accent or my Akubra hat?” I replied.

Despite the fact I was being a smart ass, we spoke for a bit, and she told me how she’d lived in Sydney for seven years. I asked her if she’d ever move back there.

“No, because my family and friends are here – this is my home,” she explained. “This is where I belong.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” I told her.

I’ve met some amazing people in my short time here, and I know I’ll meet some more along the way, but they don’t erase the family and friends I have waiting for me back home. As cheesy as it sounds, home is where the heart is, and – much to my surprise – my heart is still very much in Australia.

So while I’m determined to make the most of my adventure in the US, I know that one day I will return home, and Sydney and I will just have to find a way to get along. Because even though you’re beautiful, you don’t have to be a bitch about it, Sydney…

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