Saturday, January 31, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I'm watching the sunset from a place I've arbitrarily chosen as the best in the area. I walked across a stretch to find the best place, but none were great. SO I'm sitting at the base of a lighthouse on Rottnest Island, watching the sun set over a wind farm.
Sunsets are supposed to be the bringer of calm and serenity: on my small search, I came upon a group of people on the beach, mid half-lotus; a man floating in the cool water, and a surfer with an acoustic guitar, strumming for the sea. Everyone is finding peace at this time but me, I'm sore, sunburned, have sand on my sunburn, furthering the irritation, but most importantly, my uncle Lindley has just passed away.
I reckon I should be grateful that I am watching the sun go down on this Indian Ocean paradise, but a big part of me wishes I was in Missouri, providing support for the family. Lindley has been a pillar of the family, entertaining us with his great stories, or even better, creating great stories for others to tell of him. I'm sure the Tiger's Basketball team felt a shudder today.
From what I heard, he went on his own terms, and that definitely helps me find peace knowing he went peacefully. Lindley has lived a long happy life, not that it makes things unsad, but it does help. This is a notebook blog I am writing, and by the time this is read, it may not be too relevant, but I extend my deepest sympathy to everyone and am extending a long-armed hug to all.
The sun has set and I still hear the distant guitar, maybe this can be my elegy for Lindley, knowing he is at peace like the sea.
No visit to Perth is complete without a visit to the nearby Freemantle. By just looking at the map, it appears that Perth is a coastal city, but it is in fact Freemantle that is along the ocean. The original settlement of "Perth" is the Freemantle port.
I wasn't really too enthralled with the popular destination. My nautical interests are slim to none and Freemantle did little to pique these scant interests. To me, all these port cities seem the same. It was a beautiful town though, even with all the docks. Apparently the night life is better; too bad I won't take the time to see it.
I visited the old Freemantle prison, but I decided to pass on all the tours. Much like freight shipping, the penal system is not too interesting to me. There is a late night ghost tour which I hear is fantastic, but none of them fit my schedule. Tasmania is supposed to one that is even better though, so I'll do that one in May. One tour that looked fun took tourists underground into the work mines under the prison; it was unfortunately, out of my budget (even by normal people standards). I visited a free gaol museum that was neat. The historian there sent me to Tasmania for seven months because I was an accessory after the fact for petty theft. Sadly, I had already booked my tickets for a seven day trip to Tasmania in May. Jetstar's super save tickets don't allow cancellations, so I had to eat the costs.
Seven months later, I headed back to Perth to meet with Jess's cousin Troy. We each had a little Creatures Pale Ale, a western Australian microbrew. It was the best beer I had so far in Australia. Actually, earlier in day, before even trying the beer, I stumbled upon the brewery, no tours though. Troy was a cool guy; we just gabbed for a while. So far, I've really liked everyone in Jess's family. He will be doing almost the same tour I am, only his starts tomorrow. (This was written a week ago, my tour really does leave tomorrow as it being published). I guess I can get some warning if it is terrible.
Later, I checked out the WA gallery of art. Most of it was a mixture of traditional western and aboriginal art. I forget the name of the featured artist, but he used western art language to show the oppression of the indigenous Australians. The paintings were good, but I didn't 100 of them to get the point.
My day ended with a barbie with Erin's family. You all remember Erin Watt! Oh the fun times. Her family seemed like good people. My ramblings of how much I love Australia were mirrored by Erin's brother's ramblings about the states. He only just returned from a month in Chicago. I guess we are all attracted to the exotic. It is always neat to meet the family of our exchange students. Often, it is union that is quite special. It is as if EF has made our family a giant worldwide network of great friends.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Despite the lack of "attractions", I still found it to be a beautiful city and I had no problem walking around there for six hours. I started walking along the Swan River with the sparse skyline to my right. I saw the Western Australia government buildings, which weren't as architecturally interesting as such things often are. My walk took me passed the bell tower, a sailboat shaped building (or maybe swan shaped) that houses twelve bells from 1450 given as a gift a few years ago to some guy. It was a neat building that is apparently quite awesome at night. It wasn't very high, so I didn't feel the need to pay $10 to go to the top. Instead I went a few kilometers in search of my big excursion for the day, King's Park.
Just getting to King's Park was an adventure. It is located above the city, on top of Mt. Eliza. There are numerous trails going to the summit, but recent rain had made them all too hazardous due to falling rocks; honestly I worry more about snakes. It also didn't help that I had no clue how to get there, just a vague idea of its general direction. I followed the signs along the paths, but everyone let me to a dead end. After about 3km of randomly walking at the base of an embankment, I finally worked up the courage to ask for directions. "Just take a left at the bottle shop, mate!" I had to climb Jacob's ladder which was an endless steep staircase up the side of a cliff. Erin said later, "People don't climb those stairs to get anywhere, it is just a masochist's workout." It really wasn't that bad.
King's Park was worth the trouble. It is the largest city park in the world. Bigger that 1000 acres, it dwarfs Central Park. Do not come to Perth and miss it!. It has many spectacular views of the city and the swan river. It houses the Perth Botanical Gardens with its sampling of plants from all over Australia. It has a tree-height elevated walkway over a chunk of the park. At the highest point stands a double spiral staircase aptly named the DNA Tower. The majority of the park is an Aussie bush restoration project, which is the true star of the park. Only a few meters into the trails, you completely forget you are in the middle of a large city. I probably walked 20km the whole day. Perth really does have a lot to see!
Our first day was quite relaxed; we mainly sat around and enjoyed a few beers by a nearby lake. By four, we all fell asleep from the beers and the hot sun. I awoke nearly five hours later (don't underestimate the crappiness of sleeping in a seat for two nights). We enjoyed a quiet barbie and hit the sack early.
Day two was more active. I awoke and did my morning exercises, then headed for a walk. After I returned, Damian, Chevy, Erin and I headed for a a drive to the Indian Ocean. Let's say that it was quite exciting to come over the hill for my first glimpse of a new ocean. The Indian has an incredibly dark blue color.
We started at Hilary beach. After a huge buffet (I tried my first taste of kangaroo and emu. The kangaroo was ok, but it was bascially gamey, red meat, kinda like bear. The emu rissoles were delicious. The meat had the tenderness of bird meat, with the flavor of a red meat), we walked to the beach for a swim.
I bobbed for a while in the water and the first big wave knocked my sunnies off my face. After a bit of searching, I still couldn't find them. I couldn't believe they wouldn't stay on my face. They were the tight fitting kind that barely move, even when I'm jumping up and down. There were women with double D's and a bikini made of two sugar packets and some fishing line who could keep their boobs contained, but I couldn't keep my sunglasses on my face. We went to another beach with waves three times the size. Damian had his sunglasses ripped off, but he found his in a quick 30 seconds. My are probably out there, providing eye protection for some shark someplace.
The second beach was amazingly fun. The wave were 2-3 meters high and just bowled you over. They were so strong that a wrong leg positioning could have resulted in a break. We spent nearly seven hours on the beach. I've never had more fun at the ocean in my life.
I got on the Indian Pacific at 8:30. I said goodbye to everyone and got out of Broken Hill. I was glad to see that my seat has plenty of leg room; I can extend my legs fully and barely hit the seat in front of me. This is more than twice the room of the other seat in the car. Yay The train is slowly departing the station. The woman next to me seems nice. Her name is Helen and she has travelled all over the world. We've been talking for a few minutes and it seems to be going well. There seems to be some cute girls on the train as well. This may be a fun trip.
Ok, i guess Helen's travel stories have already died. Odd, since she's been all over the world. Time to try out this new MP3 player. It took a few minutes to get it on random shuffle. Should be a good choice, there is nothing but good stuff on this baby.
Train seems to be moving slower than expected. I thought we'd be cruisin'. I'm seen this stretch of landscape three times already, but this time is a bit different. The recent rain has turned the endless red dirt into endless red dirt with green plants. I should probably take a photo, but my camera is in my bag. Maybe I'll do a logic puzzle.
Maybe I'll read a book. Papillion or Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Mmmmm. I love saying that name. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gabriel Garcia Marquez.......
I chose Papillion.
The dining car looked like a dining car. I think I'll have a candy bar.
Just got back from playing solitaire in the dining car with my cribbage board obviously showing. No takers.
Ok, I'm ready to get off now. How many hours are left? oh, 46 more. Not too bad...
Insanity has waned a bit. I'm slowly getting used to the endless, mild boredom. It matters not because we now docking in Adelaide. Do trains dock?
Downtown Adelaide only took an hour to see, if you exclude the 30 minute walk each way from the train station. I stopped in a food court in Chinatown right at close and was able to get a huge bowl of random old Chinese food for only $4.00! It tastes even better knowing it is cheap. I approached the train station to find it driving away! Thankfully, it was refueling or something like that.
Been on the tracks for the last two hours and they've gone quite quickly. I finally found some people to play cards with, but we couldn't find a place to play. It was a dinner time, so the dining car is closed to non-eaters and the empty seats in front are off limits, even though nobody will be sitting in them for at three more hours. I watched a beautiful sunset over the rolling hills and gum trees of the Adelaide plains.
Woke up after eight hours of terrible chair sleep. The neck pillow sharon and les lent me helped though. My dreams were nuts though. The highlights were me being a terrible fill-in announcer at a hockey game that eventually cancelled due to an ice-melt delay. ("I just don't get what happened with you Aaron, you do such a good job at announcing the soccer games!" Uh yeah?). The other was the Brittany Spears falling in love with me. Apparently, I was the only person she could trust. I don't like Brittany. I don't respect Brittany. I don't find her attractive. The landscape was too pretty to let me fall back asleep. Stretching as far as I could see was a forest of scrub, broken by occasional patches of Belah trees. All was set against the characteristic Aussie red dirt. The general beauty of the Aussie countryside is often breathtaking in its uniqueness (To Texas and Southwest US residents: please hold back your comments your dirt is yellow. To Mojave and New Mexico residents: your trees and scrubs are different.) This is why I chose the train: to have the opportunity to see the beautiful, seldom seem part of the country. There are pine trees out there which I find odd, I though pines hated the desert. Helen tells me that it is a very ancient and native conifer that somehow found a way to live in this harsh environment.
The landscape is not hilly, by ridgey. Just endless ridges, on after another for miles and miles. The soil is not just red, but yellow and orange as well. I never imagined so much color with such a limited palate. Monet would have fun here.
Flat, completely flat. Flatter than Nebraska.
Still incredibly flat. I've seen such flat before, but it is stunning that it could be so vast; at least the great plains have some hills. This is the Nullarboor. It was once a large sea when Australia was part of Antartica. The soil of the plain is composed of mostly broken up seashells. We stopped in the ghost town of Cook in the Western end of South Australia. Like most ghost towns, there isn't much. When the rail industry flourished, it was once a thriving town, full of people. It even had its own golf course, even though grass can't grow here. The stretch of track the longest straight stretch of tracks in the world, it stretches for hundreds of miles without a single turn.
Slowly, the landscape changes. The ground went from red to yellow, then back to red. The scrub became very sparse for an hour, then started getting thick again. At the most empty point was ironically named town of Forrest, Australia, population 2. It is just an airstrip in the middle of nowhere for refueling. An hour after we hit Forrest, an actual forest started to emerge and hills too! I am surrounded by dense forest by Australia standards.
Landed in a small mining town of Kalgoorli. Don't pronounce the "r" though, or else the Aussies won't know what you are talking about. My first impression was wow, Broken Hill pt. 2. My next impressions weren't too different. It had all the staples of a mining town: relaxed atmosphere, a big skimp dump, and a pub at every corner.
A group of foreigners and I hit up one pub that looked quite happening. We must have chosen right, because the entire town was drinking there. We swapped stories and I picked up some tips on what to see in Australia. We decided to move on and hopefully find some karaoke. Our first stop was the Public Bar. We were greeted by a poorly sung rendition of "You make loving fun" by Fleetwood Mac. Sadly, this was not karaoke, just bad professionals. We didn't want to stay and given the cold-unwelcome stares of the five patrons at the bar, this Public Bar seemed quite private.
Our next step was the Wild Wild West. After five minutes there, I thought I was hallucinating, but a second glace proved otherwise; all the bartender women were in their underwear, even though none were attractive enough to really warrant this. Ben, our Perthian companion explained that many small town bars have "Skimp" nights, typically on Sundays. Leave it to the Aussies to find ways to get poeple out to the pubs on a sunday. We finished our evening with a few hours of cards on the train until 1AM. None of us really wanted to go to "bed".
I awoke too early after too poor of sleep. Perth is not too far away. The countryside reminds me of Missouri, only brown, though with more rain, I'm sure you'd be fooled (just pretend the gum trees are maples!)
The train ride is done and I am actually a little sad. I've gotten used to the cramped space, lack of mobility and inability to do anything. I met some cool people. I even plan to do a Perth road trip with a few people from the train. Goodbye Indian-Pacific.
I still however was not willing to purchase an iPod. I'm a purist when it comes to music. With the exception of those artists who only put out good singles, I like to keep the albums intact. Music and especially albums are going downhill though. It started with the invention of the CD. Once the CD came out, it gave musicians the unneeded freedom of making 60+ minute albums. With LP's, 45 minutes was all you got, so space was not wasted; bad songs were canned. Once CD's came around, bands started throwing in whatever song was catchy enough to make it to a demo, not matter if it was good or not. Albums as an art suffered. Seriously, I dare you to name a great 60+ minute album from the last 20 years (Blood Sugar Sex Magic excluded), or at least one that would not become better from some editing.
The iPod (or iTunes) took this one step further. Now, you don't even need to make an album anymore. All you need is one lackluster song, then you are destined to be heard as a cellphone ring in the back of the bus for at least one week. Now "artists" don't even have to be good to make it and nobody cares about making more than three ok songs anymore. Plus, now that the kids can just download Stairway to Heaven (they won't though, because it is not on Guitar Hero), they will never even learn that is is only the fourth best song on Led Zeppelin's untitle 4th album. Wow, that was a bit of a digression from the original topic!
Given my future travels alone, I figured I'd need some music. I will never buy an iPod...never. So, I spent days doing research, picking just the right one. I narrowed it down to something by Creative. I wanted a 30+GB player, but they only had a five year old refurbished one I could afford. In the end, I purchased the Zen Mosaic 16GB. Now before we continue, look back to the earlier paragraphs. Considering that 150GB was a compromise for me, imagine what only 16GB would do to me. That is only 1/10 of my music collection!
It came in on Monday. Well, here is where it gets annoying. My external harddrive spontaneously stopped working on the home computer a month ago. It still works on other computers though. Tuesday, I set up an afternoon to borrow the neighbor's computer to do my transfers. Didn't work on his computer either. Sucky.
Turns out, ti doesn't wokr on any PC's, but on Mac's, there are no problems (dad, wipe that dopey smug grin off your face right now!) So, I called Stefen, local reporter for the paper, all around good bloke, probable Mac user since he's a newspaper man. I was right on this. (coincidentally, he doesn't use a mac at work).
So, Wednesday at lunch, I rocked up to his house on the opposite end of Broken Hill, plugged in the harddrive and succeess! So, I plugged in the MP3 player to the the other USB and nothing. I went to install the drivers, but the damned mac wouldn't run the mini-CD ( why are these even made?) My best solution was to buy a flashdrive, transfer the music a little bit at a time to the flashdrive, take it home, put that music on the MP3 player, then repeat until I've filled the 16GB. 20 minutes adn $40 later, I get back to Stefans to begin this assenine process.
One hour and two computer crashes later, I'm stuck with only A Tribe Called Quest's discography and Wire's first album. I need to leave because Stefan is to start work. At least I had two completely different styles of music.
Sharon was able to help me though. At four, a mac at her work was open for my use. I was ready to leave at 3:30, b ut Jonathan was borrowing his bike from me. Jess lent me her car so I could hunt him down, finally catching the bike two blocks from Sharon's work. Sadly, I did not have my things with me.
So, Jess gave me a ride with the bike back to Sharon's work, saving the time and potential death from riding a bike two miles up and down hills into the wind in 100 degree heat. At 4:30, I started frantically transfering files, the only obstacle was my shift at work coming in a hour. In the end, I only ended up with 7GB of my original 150 for my trip. That's only five days of coninuous non-overlapping music. My life is a tragedy.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
For the second time in a few months, I'm leaving an established home to do something different. First, I separated myself from my friends and family to come to Australia. Now I am further separating myself from my Aussie friends and family to explore and grow. There will always be a home to return when things get tough. Plus, nobody is more than a phone call away. I glad I have a safety net. Just the idea of it makes me more likely to be successful.
I am also extremely excited! In the next few months, I will be seeing more of the country than many Australians never get a chance to see in their whole life. This is a beautiful and vast nation with so much to see and do. I standing at the front of a once in a lifetime experience. I'm not one for horoscopes, but last week, my daily horoscope said that I should travel in the next eight weeks. Then, my 2009 horoscope said that this is a great year for traveling! Coincidence? Of course not, because I made that link in my head. I was just interpreting these things to tell me what I want to hear. I love horoscopes and their vagueness. Either way, they did say to travel.
My posting will become sporadic from here on out. I'll put something up when I get a chance, but it may not be regularly. You'll see nothing for week, then bam, five posts will magically be there. I will be keep a journal on my travels, so I'll be preserving my thoughts, stories, emotions, etc while on my solo travels.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Les and Sharon
Les is Jess's father. He works for the government through the water department, specifically in sewage treatment. In his spare time, he is a licenced paver and tiler and does an amazing job. His perfectionism feeds his completely word of mouth job and he does great work on all of his projects. In his life, he's done every hands-on job a person can imagine, including butcher, baker, candlestick maker. Seriously, every time he tells a story, he is working on something different. Les is very friendly guy that everyone in town knows. He'll give the shirt off his back to help out a friend and is just a good bloke with whom to have a beer.
Sharon is Jess's mother. She works as a medical receptionist at a local clinic. She has a passion for many television shows across many genres. Above all though, she is a hard-working, caring mother and wife and does so many things around the house. She shares more than just a name with my mother. Just like my own mom, Sharon is one of those people who is easy to approach to talk about anything that might be troubling you. Much like the rest of the family, she is extremely caring.
Making the transition to living in Australia has been amazingly easy given all the support I've received from the Eyles family. It is really neat that Jess and I have been in a very literal sense doing an exchange. This time though, it wasn't through an organization, they just opened their home to me without any questions. The part I respect the most is that I was still welcome, not only in their home, but in their family after Jess and I broke up. I will never forget their rare kindness and I have no trouble actually calling them my family.
So basically, it is in the middle of the outback. It is a small desert town of about 20,000 people. It is quite isolated, the nearest city of any substantial size is Midura, Victoria about 2.5 hours away. It is basically at the outskirts of where people can really survive in the middle of the country.
It was founded in the 1880's by the local celebrity, Charles Rasp. He found some silver deposits and decided to begin a large mining operation. From this, Broken Hill is often called the "Silver City". Despite its 20,000 person population, its mining companies is one biggest money makers in the whole country and produces a lot of zinc, lead, and silver among others. It also draws many workers from around the world. Even Herbert Hoover worked on the Broken Hill mine. The rest of the local economy is driven by tourism. Broken Hill oddly enough is a huge draw to both domestic and foreign travelers. It is basically a great way to see the outback without going bush. Between the big picture, the sculptures, mining museums, Silverton, and many local national parks, there is plenty for visitors to see for a few days.
The people here are very friendly as expected from rural towns. The town was famous for having a pub at every corner and really, that is not far from the truth. The scary part is, there are significantly less pubs here than the used to be. I enjoy the town a lot. People love to make fun of it, but I could see myself living here for a while (a year would probably be the max).
Sunday, January 4, 2009
If somebody offers a cup of coffee at home, they will be giving you instant coffee. That space on the counter typically reserved for drip coffee pots or percolators is occupied by an electric tea kettle here. I can't believe that people here think instant coffee can even pass for coffee. I make my morning cup using a french press (which they call a plunger here). It is probably the best way to make a coffee anyway. Sadly, there is not much variety of coffee in the stores. The whole aisles of vanilla coffee, Colombian, Ethiopian, french silk chocolate, cinnamon, morning blend, french blend, hazelnut, etc don't exist here. The best you can hope for is a choice between arabica and robustico, if that. Most of the ground coffee beans are an espresso blend. It doesn't make a bad cup of coffee, but it really doesn't taste quite right.
The vast majority of coffee being consumed comes from cafes. Again, very rarely will there be the option of good ol' fashioned drip. Everything is espresso. They have mostly the same things as in the states, but the names and preparations are different.
A cappuccino in Australia is our lattes with chocolate powder on top. A latte in Australia is like our lattes, only with less foam. They serve something called a flat white, which is like a latte with no foam. An Americano is called a long black. An espresso shot is called short black. Nothing too different, but the first time people ordered some of these things from me at the Astra, I returned with blank stares and excessively foamy cappuccinos.
Others don't feel the same way. A couple of weeks ago, a coworker of mine pulled me aside and told me, "Aaron, I think your American accent is actually getting thicker as time goes on." I am starting to sound Aussie in my word choices though. The Aussie slang is really penetrating my speech. My father was paying me out recently about it (AH! there it is "paying me out"). Bloody is one of my favorite new words. I think I'll keep that one. I've used it a fair share in the states; Never have I been one to let my locale or generation make certain slang off limits. Bloody, Poof (a gay guy), Fag (a cigarette) have been a part of my vocabulary for years (thank you BBC!). I am starting to talk Aussie enough that most people think right away that I've been here for a while, even though my accent gives me away.
It shall be a very funny occurrence when I go back to the states, especially if I pick up an accent. Jess started sounding very American by the time she went home; she caught a lot of grief. Slowly, one week at a time, I heard her sound more and more Aussie again. Suddenly, one day while on the phone, I could barely understand her. I think though that I will find myself more resilient than that. Maybe I'm like my father. He's been living outside of Missouri for forty years, yet everybody knows he's from the Show Me state. Or maybe it is just an American thing; most American ex-pats seem to keep their accent around here.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Aussies take their karaoke much less seriously, which is very refreshing. Karaoke in the states can often be an unofficial American Idol practice. I try to do well, but most of the time, I'm just going to have fun. No song is off limits, whether it is in my range or even if I know it. If I get the bug to sing something, I just do it. Most of the time it works out, but I hit a dud ever once in a while. There were some great singers there, but most people weren't concerned with singing well; they just wanted to have some fun.
I sang my old stand-by joke song, "With Arms Wide Open" by Creed, complete with excessive gravel and mumbled lyrics. Scott Stapp is my official least favorite singer in the whole world. He can't actually sing, instead, he resonates every note off the side of his mouth to create the sound of a powerful deep voice. I honestly think that one day, he was sitting around getting stoned with his buddies and listening to Pearl Jam. He started making fun of Eddie Vedder and just didn't stop. His buddies then started poking him to do his Eddie Vedder at parties. Eventually, it went to his head that maybe he can sing. So, he started a terrible band with his Eddie Vedder impersonation. The sad part is, he took a dump on Eddie Vedder who can actually sing. When I do my thing with this song in the states, typically I get the whole crowd laughing. The joke was lost on the Aussies. After I was done, the host was complimenting my voice. Random people were approaching me and telling me how I'm an amazing singer. This made it especially funny to me cause I was just ripping Scott Stapp apart and singing out of my cheek! Thankfully, I have the good sense to not start a terrible band with my pseudo-Scott Stapp voice.
It was a good time. I went alone, but was adopted by a group of Aussie tourists. That is one great thing about Australia. If you are sitting by yourself someplace, somebody always approaches you to talk. It makes going out solo much less intimidating.
Friday, January 2, 2009
"I reckon the Hawks are gonna do great in the footy this year." (please ignore the very non-Aussie sounding sentence).
"Oh bloody oath they will!"
Now, I wish I had some witty commentary on the use of this or some sort of wacky made-up explanation, but sadly I don't. It just doesn't sound like it should make sense. That's all I got. Can I get a bloody oath from my Yankee brothers and sisters!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I rang in the new year in a much different fashion this year. After years of hosting New Years Eve parties, it was odd to be working while others are celebrating. That's right, I worked a shift cooking at the Royal, followed by washing glasses for 2.5 hours at the Astra. Thankfully it was a slow night, so I was able to hit up a party at one. For once, I was decently close (if you want to consider 800 miles close) from the world famous Sydney New Years celebration at the harbor, but was not able to see it. Oh well, this will just give me another excuse to visit Australia again.
I doubt I will miss 2008 much. This has been an intense year for me in so many ways. Now, don't get me wrong, I had a lot of good times. I discovered my love for karaoke and had many a great night singing. For the first time in years, I met some really good new friends both home (shouts out to the Gallardos, Caleb, Laura, Stephanie, Ben, Leah, Emily, Steve, Dan, Jacob, and anyone else not directly written on this list) and away (shouts to Kat, Stefen, Jon, Em, Tay, Nick, Pennie, Mitch, Leigh, Ryan, and the many other friendly faces that aren't listed here, but not from lack of love). I saw casual friendships blossom into what will hopefully be lifetime friendships (no direct shouts here, you know who you are). Most importantly, I was adopted into another great family that I care about a lot. I survived living nine months in the ghetto. I got a big promotion at my job and made the jump to do something I never thought I could. Actually, I think this summer was one of the happiest of my entire life. I was enjoying the company of those I care about so much because I knew I was leaving in September.
On the other side, I've had my fair share of crap this year. I lived in the ghetto for nine months and got myself mugged in my own backyard. Then had the landlords try to sue me when I moved out because I didn't feel safe. I saw one of the people I care about most in the world hop on a plane and fly away. Then I hopped on a plane myself to fly 10,000 miles away from all my friends and family for a year. I experienced my first real heartbreak.
It is a really bad practice to look back on the year and tally the ups and downs and try to label the year as good or bad. Though, here I find myself doing it once again, only this time publicly (deal with it). Much like changing the calendar, this is something I do every year. Honestly though, I don't think I've ever really had a good year of my life. At the same time, I don't think I've really ever had a bad one either. My good and bad lists always seem to be about the same length. The new year is supposed to be new beginning, but really it is only the number that is changing. Life is just life. And as much as when you look back and sometimes just want to chuck the year into the garbage, you can't, cause you just don't have the heart to throw away the experiences.