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Queen of the Poo

I’m done… Done with Perth… Forever. Never to return. Ok that’s dramatic—I’m 100 percent certain I’ll find myself back here, probably sooner rather than later, but we’ll say I’m done and with the option of never returning.

Quite a lot has happened since my last blog—including the conclusion of my time in Perth. I’ll do my best to go back through and recount those moments for you. This will also be a blog of truths. Truths I’ve been sugar coating.

Where the last non-grandma-related blog left off, we finished our second clinical rotation… Thank baby Jesus. Although we were originally assured we would be on a neurosurgery unit, we were actually given aged and delirium care (sub-acute). This is all well and good, as I believe all medical professionals should be forced to see this side of healthcare. However, whilst our friends were at home on acute medical-surgical wards doing actual, relevant stuff, we were (literally) chasing demented old people around, measuring pee, getting physically assaulted by patients, doling only PO meds and reminding old people who they were, where they were, and who the PM of Australia is. Nichole and I found ourselves with quite the mix of people for a clinical group, in which there was only one Aussie. Everyone else was foreign born. Among the mitigating factors of that rotation were said people, though—Hannah became our new Welsh friend who we could always count on to be at least slightly more “confused” than us, and then there was Kim and Seo, the Korean students, who were not at all shy about expressing their distaste for the Australian concept of the nursing profession (which we agreed with entirely, but presented in a much less blunt manner). Also, there was our guardian angel, Carol “Queen of the Poo” Teo, our clinical supervisor. If not for Carol, Nichole and I might have literally called it quits in the middle of the clinical rotations, taken the fails, come home and happily dropped back a graduating year. The benefit of Carol was she was also foreign trained (in Singapore, which is modeled after the American system), so she understood our struggles in reconciling the differences between the two systems. She recognised very quickly that the rotation was far below our skill level and agreed to allow us a fair bit of autonomy in order to “just make it through” the rotation. The last two days she even did us the high favour of taking us upstairs to the staff café and taking upwards of five hours to complete our evaluations, just to save us from being on that horrible floor with nothing to do. Then, the icing on the cake was when Carol called her ex-sister-in-law that works in the morgue at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and got us a VIP tour of the facilities. Despite Carol’s claims that we were a sick, twisted bunch for wanting to go down there, we very much enjoyed our time in the morgue. Much akin to the morgue back home, which I’ve visited many times, the staff of the SCGH morgue (also the main morgue for the state of WA and the seat of the coroner’s office) were some of the nicest, most bubbly and entertaining people I’ve met. We were taken through all of the rooms, the main autopsy room, and the autopsy theatre, and then to a room with hacked up body parts that had been preserved plexiglas, that were kept for the soul purpose of playing “guess the cause of death” with the new morgue employees. From that I learned two things: avoid drinking cyanide, and always chew your chicken completely before swallowing—or breathing. No but really, I learned more in that hour at the morgue than I did at my entire clinical rotation. It’s difficult to learn in a hostile environment where you’re clearly not wanted, nurses take the fact that students sat in chairs during handover to upper administration and you’re left to deal with patient’s poo for 90 percent of your duties, all within a building that was clearly built by a Russian architecture company from the Stalin era… However, I will say this… I did make it through the entire two week rotation without wiping a single ass. Not one. I had it down to a science where I knew the signs of when my patients were about to crap, at which point I’d find something to do on the other side of the floor such that others had to deal with it themselves. I’d say I’m not proud of it, but I am.

Once that hell was over, I was reminded of how nice a hospital floor in Australia could be with a reunion dinner/drinks night out with the staff from good old Ward 2K from Royal Perth Hospital… I believe that’s photographed above at the bottom. Such lovely people. Too bad that by the time I get home and send out a card, more then half of them will have fled psych for other, less insane floors.

Following that was exam week, which was actually a joke, and just confirmed that this has, in fact, been a five month vacation… One of those vacations where nothing goes right and is full of hassles and annoyances. I had two exams, and if I get anything less than an 85 on either of them, I’m checking myself in to a psych unit upon returning home, because then clearly it means my perception of reality is skewed.

Finishing exams, though, meant everything was done… No more. That was on 13th June, I believe. Since then, it’s just been the beginning of the end. One by one, the one-semester-wonders here at ECU have started to leave. First there was Tina from Norway, then Matt from Canada, then Marie, Andreas and Atle from Norway, then Nicolina from Canada. At that point it was literally just down to me and the WAAPA kids, who where in their final two weeks of assessments, which is a highly stressful time. I put my new-found psych skills to work well more than once, providing crisis management to distraught WAAPA dancers experiencing stress breakdowns and early-midlife crises. I’m personally taking credit for the like six cases of people that were about the drop out but have since decided to come back next semester… Regardless of whether or not I had anything to do with it. I’m banking on at least one of them having a very successful career now—so I can take credit for that, also.

This last week has been beyond hectic. I thought I was going to have nothing to do, but I was oh-so-wrong. It started off with a goodbye party for me with all the dancers. A dancers’ night out (DNO), if you will. That was followed by my last day at work—I don’t even think they needed me. They were just being nice and let me come in to say goodbye to everyone… I then rendez-voused with the cardiac techs at a lovely restaurant called Clancy’s Fish and Chips pub, which is in the suburb of City Beach and had the most magnificent views of the Indian Ocean… I have a picture of it, but I can’t be bothered to upload it from my phone.

With that the WAAPA kids began to pick themselves off one by one… Many of them without even saying goodbye to anyone, knowing they’d be back in three and a half weeks, forgetting that I wouldn’t. There was one, however, that wasn’t going to be able to so easily. Julia, like the rest of them, had to return to her homeland of Canberra. This called for expensive sushi… A picture of “The Last Supper” can be seen above at the bottom. The expense was well worth it, as it was by far the best sushi either of us has ever experienced. We agreed it was a fitting end to my time in Perth. Julia and I had been through a lot together, in Perth. She was one of the ones I provided counseling to, and she was many times my wing-woman, henchman and general go-to person for when I needed to complain about how much my life sucked. Needless to say, I was dreading the looming end to our time together.

Finally, tonight, I had my last Australian dance practice. I leave directly from Sydney to the North Americans in Chicago, so there wasn’t much time for sadness and goodbyes—there was work to be done! But not really… I’m feeling good about my dancing and the NANs will be what they will be. Although I don’t have pictures back yet, I will say the goodbyes were fitting. Short, sweet and to the point… And involving cake. People involved in the Irish dance world at such a high competitive level as I am, are fortunate in that we still get to see our friends from all over the world at the major international competitions—so my departure from the WA Academy of Irish dance wasn’t so much a goodbye as it was a thank you, and see you soon. Honestly, I couldn’t have hoped for a better school whilst abroad. They took me for what I was, and did with me what I could. I’ve made some friends I hope to know for life there, and I’m proud to represent them at the North Americans in Chicago, on my home territory, as a Western Australian dancer.

Unfortunately tonight didn’t end there, though… Julia had to be shipped off on the red-eye flight to Sydney. It was probably the worst goodbye I’ve ever had to say to someone. We became friends unexpectedly, ended up living together, and just like that it was over. The goodbye hug probably lasted a good three full minutes and resulted in my 2010 North Americans shirt getting stained with her mascara and the poor Indian cab driver being very unsure of what to do.

It’s strange to think: for me, this whole experience has been an isolated event. I came from a life back home, I had my time here, and I’ll return to my life back home as if nothing happened. I knew everything about this experience was temporary, and I knew that it wasn’t reality. For the majority of the people I’ve met here, though, I became part of their reality. For many of the WAAPA people, which I called my best friends, this was their first year and first semester in Perth and at university… I was one of their first uni friends in their real life, not their fake life, like it was mine. I was part of what they knew as part of their uni-verse (excuse the pun)… When they return next semester, I’ll be gone. Julia said multiple times that it’s always harder for the one that’s left behind—but I’m not sure of that anymore. Only time will tell… Also, it’s funny that I just wrote about her as if she’s now dead… She’s not dead, I’m watching her plane fly from Sydney to Canberra right now, and we’ll probably skype very soon. I need to get a grip.

So yes—tomorrow final arrangements and packing. I believe the plan is close up my room and say final goodbyes to my Perth friends… Really the people is all I’ll miss of Perth. Perth, itself, I’ve hated… Passionately. It’s a nice place, and I see why people can enjoy it, and why it might be a nice place to grow up, but none of its nice things appeal to my interests, it lacked a culture with history and/or character behind it and it looked like Florida… Those of you that know my feelings toward Florida will understand why that’s a problem.

I leave here Friday the 29th at 10:40am and jet off to Sydney again, to stay for three nights with my one WAAPA friend whom I’ve thankfully not had to say goodbye to, yet. That’ll be fun, and I’m actually looking forward to it. I’ve always felt as if I’d have been able to do my semester in Sydney, I’d have thoroughly enjoyed myself. It’s much more “me” than Perth. Oh well, can’t change the past, but certainly can have a kick-ass time in Sydney for my last few days in Australia such that I can leave on a high note! And as for the goodbyes—they’re really not goodbyes, are they? This is just a temporary inconvenience.

Now, the pictures, just briefly. At the top is the main building of ECU Joondalup… It houses the chancellery (akin to Owlrey) and admin offices. Why anyone thought it would be a good idea to make it look like that, I don’t know. I suspect illicit drug involvement. Also, apparently it’s made out of wood that they discovered after it was built, can’t withstand the weather here. The next building is the nursing building, where I spent most of my time. The picture including the random man is the view into the campus after just having descended the grand staircase into the centre of the campus—it’s something of a pit with water in the middle and the buildings around the outside. Then there’s the stadium seating on the other side of the chancellery… Why they need stadium seating there, I don’t know… It doesn’t face anything, nor is there any sort of functioning event field in front of it—so I suspect it was a “because we can” type deal. Next there’s a picture of the Joondalup Shopping Centre, which I spent many a cumulative hour waiting for a train to take me back to Perth… The local describe that centre and it’s patrons as “dero”… I never saw it though… And the people you can find outside the main entrance day after day after day loitering—I’m just calling them misguided. Finally there’s the picture of the plant debris that was swept off the road the day after the Perth tornado. Yes, that’s right, I almost died… The odd thing about Perth weather is how compartmentalised it is. It can literally be pouring the hardest you’ve ever seen it rain where you’re standing, and have it be dry as a bone with clear skies three feet to your right… Until the cloud moves. So yes, there was a tornado in Perth, yes it did strike my suburb, no I didn’t have any clue that it happened until after the fact. We did have some pretty crazy weather, though… I think I have a video of it somewhere… I’ll upload that when I can—it’s pretty amazing/funny.

That’s all for now. I’ll blog (probably from Sydney) about my actual final moments in the wonderful city of Perth, as well as get that “bonus material” posted ASAP. Now, if you’ve made it this far (2500 words) I’ll leave you with this parting video titled “This is Perth”:

http://youtu.be/PDhmdbVk0l4

Oh, also, cantaloupe is called Rock Melon here… And People from New Zealand are frequently confused as to whether a cantaloupe is a melon, or an African animal.

Drifting to the… Oh who the hell knows…

Remember that thing I wrote a few months back… I believe it was called “Drifting to the right”… It was the title of one of my earliest blogs upon my arrival in Sydney… At the time, I thought Australians walked on the left side of the sidewalk, much like how they drive. That was based on my narrow observations of the general walking trends in the city after just a short time. However I have since come to realise that Australians haven’t the slightest clue which side of the street they walk on. Some of them walk to the left, some walk to the right, some walk down the dead centre and refuse to give way to other centre-walkers… And then there are my favourites who walk in a zig-zag pattern spanning the entire breadth of the sidewalk… I never appreciated the American tenancy to keep right as much as I do now. Of all things, simply walking in Australia has become my biggest frustration in the last few months.

Suggestion to Australia: time for a referendum on standardised walking practices.

Mania Warshaw, 24 January 1918 (maybe 1920?) - 17 May 2012


I should probably address the elephant in the room that many of you readers are aware of. My last remaining grandparent passed away whilst I was awkwardly here in Perth, and I was unable to make it home to the funeral—leaving me four for four, in terms of grandparents’ funerals I was unable to attend. Whilst it was a shitty situation, we did what we could and skyped me in to all the services which was nice, and my facebook status update was what my dad used to conclude his eulogy. Given the circumstances, I felt very included, and only served to make me look forward to seeing all my family at home more upon my return.

All that’s important about her passing is that it was natural, very quick and at home (which is how she wanted it) and she clearly had a good run of it whilst she was around. She’ll be missed, but she wouldn’t want anyone to be too sad.

As many of you know, she was a lady with quite a story. It’s impossible to put in a dinky blog post even a fraction of her history or what she experienced, but I’m going to try to give you an overview. Grandma was a Holocaust survivor and was in Nazi concentration camps for five or six years in Poland, where she was born and grew up. In my junior year of high school, I took a history of the Holocaust class, during which we were all given a Holocaust victim’s “timeline” to follow… As the class progressed, you’d receive more pieces of of your person’s story, until on the last day of class, you found out whether or not they survived, where they’re buried/what they’re doing now, etc. As my final project, I decided to use my amazing living resource to create a “timeline” for grandma. I’m glad I did it when I did, because obviously now she’s gone. I’m pleased to say, though, that grandma’s story was added to the timelines that are handed out in that class year after year, and hopefully her legacy will live on at South Burlington High School for years to come. For your reading pleasure, here it is, in a very very small nutshell, The Life and Times of Mania Warshaw.

Rest happily, grandma.

MANIA MENARSKA
Born Miechów, Poland

24 January 1918/20

 

Mania was first born Malke Menarska but changed her name a bit later on because Malke was such an identifiable Jewish name. She was fifth in a line up of six children born to Sylvia and David Menarski. Miechów was a mid-sized town and was no more than 40km from the big city of Kraków where David Menarski conducted his business as a flour merchant. Although the family lived simply, they were considered wealthy. Mania grew up with mainly Polish, non-Jewish friends and completed her education entirely in Polish, speaking Yiddish only at home.

 

1933-1939: Mania remembers for the first time her Polish friend Wanda refusing to come over to play with her because she’d made friends with a new girl in town (a teacher’s daughter) who was anti-Semitic. Adult, non-Jewish friends of the family remained loyal and supportive. The family continued to feel the encroaching anti-Semitic sentiment of the town.

 

1940-1944: A small ghetto was established in Miechów in 1940 with about 500 families. Mania remained there until 1942 when her mother instructed her and her older brother Menny (Mendel) to leave and look for gentile friends willing to shelter them. Unable to go into hiding, Mania and Menny relocated to the larger Kraków ghetto. Mania voluntarily took work in the laundry department of the Płaszów concentration camp as she’d been told Menny had already begun work there (he was already dead), but later became a full inmate. She was sent out of the camp frequently to work at outside locations. In 1944 with the Russian front fast approaching, Mania was one of the lucky 1,000-2,000 Płaszów prisoners that were transferred to a smaller munitions factory when the camp was liquidated. Prisoners not in that small group were either on Schindler’s list, gassed or sent to Germany where the Holocaust continued for an extra five months.

 

1945: Mania was liberated from Częstochowa munitions factory and after returning briefly to Miechów, went to a displaced persons camp in Germany where she married her older sister, (killed early on) Ethel’s fiancé. After the birth of their daughter, Sylvia, Mania, now Mania Warszawska (later shortened to Warshaw) moved to New York where their son, David Warshaw was born—father of Zack and Alex Warshaw, SB classes of 2009 and 2014. Tragically Mania and her eldest brother Raphel (nicknamed “fool”) were the only two members of her family that survived. Her husband, Morris Warszawski (Warshaw) and his younger brother Meier were the only two survivors from his family of two parents and six children. Mania lived a full remainder of her life, running a successful chicken farm in New Jersey. She lived to see her great grandchildren born. Mania passed away peacefully in her home at age 92 of natural causes in 2012. She has been laid to rest in Freehold, New Jersey along side her husband and brother-in-law. Her family misses her sorely.

We found her in a fig tree on Hay Street…

Alright, time to catch you all up, I suppose… Finally there’s been some action! Where the hell to begin… I suppose chronological order would be best.

I was greeted with 88F degree (31.1C) heat upon my return from Ireland. Before my Aussies jump down my throat about that being “nothing”, don’t forget I was here for that two week streak of  100F plus degree (40C) heat right when I arrived in Perth—I understand the concept of Australian heat… And it’s still not as bad as Las Vegas heat… So ha! This 88F degree heat, however, was unwelcomed, as I’d left Ireland at a comfortable 42F degrees (5.5C) and would have preferred it stay that way until I died. No such luck, though… Wait—just writing that, and realising how “cool” it is here, now, it just dawned on me that that was nearly two months ago… I’ve not blogged in ages! Holy crap you’ve missed so much! Not really… But sort of.

Sorry—got side-tracked just then. Right—so blah blah blah home from Ireland blah blah blah heat blah blah. Once I got back, I only had two more weeks of university lecture left… This was strange as I’m used to a 14-week semester back home, with lecture all the way through. For those of you that don’t know, nursing school is structured a bit differently here… Instead of having clinical mixed in with lecture all through the semester, they do all their lecture at once and get it done in nine weeks (which is a joke, as each lecture only happens once per week) and then students go out on clinicals for solid two week blocks, until the exam period starts… There are pros and cons to both system. I honestly don’t know which I prefer. It’s just been different. On our last day of skills workshop, our lovely instructor, Janelle, made us cupcakes. She designs cakes semi-professionally in her spare time… During our time with her, she did a wedding cake, and several other professional-quality cakes. She half-jokingly promised us cupcakes for our last class, but ended up getting bored and actually going through with it. They came in lots of different races—so naturally I selected the one that I felt I identified closest with, culturally… See above.

Once that was out of the way, the next order of business was moving apartments. An opportunity arose for me to move into a six bedroom apartment with my Australian best friend, Julia (a WAAPA ballet student)… By ourselves… Needless to say: party house. And by party house, I mean sit at home on weekends and discuss our life problems, not drink, and go to bed at reasonable hours due to needing to be awake early the next morning for work or dance competitions. It’s a good life, we feel. So yes, that’s been a nice change. Even though we moved into the old part of the village, which can be heard fondly referred to as “the ghetto”, “the Bronx”, “Detroit” and “the peasant village”, my room is actually far larger and far nicer than my previous jail cell, and I’m no longer on ground level. It makes being a peeping Zack so much easier.

No sooner than I’d sorted out my apartment, I started my first clinical rotation, or “prac” as they say, at Royal Perth Hospital in central Perth. Don’t let the lofty name fool you. The building itself was clearly transported from sub-Saharan Africa to Perth sometime in the 1970’s, and hasn’t been given a facelift since… It sounds harsh, but it’s true. The current plan is to demolish it in about a year and a half’s time, when the new Fiona Stanley Hospital opens. During my self-guided walking tour of the hospital on my first day, though, I did manage to find my mum’s Australian brethren in the basement (see above) so that was kinda cool. She found it typical that Medical Illustration was also in the basement in Australia—much like it was in the States “back in the day”.

Our rotation at RPH was inpatient Psych. Needless to say, I have some stories, but also needless to say I can’t share many of them here. Just know that it was good fun, we got to meet some “interesting” people. The patients were pretty “interesting” too. Highlights of the experience I’d say were tea breaks, administering 2mg of Benztropine IM to reverse a dystonic reaction to Haloperidol, finding two different patients on two different days, with two different diagnoses, escaped and up two different fig trees in downtown Perth, and assisting in two days of Electroconvulsive Therapy (see above)… Yes, they still do that. Yes, it helps the patients that elect to try it. No it’s not like One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest.

Sadly, our days on “Ward 2K” at RPH came to an end all too soon, and we’re now onto our second prac at “other locations”… That’s all I’ll disclose about it for now until our evaluations are done, and they can’t fail me for anything I say…

Oh, yes, I also did two feiseanna since returning from Ireland. They went wellish… But nothing to write home about… Oh wait…

There are a lot of details I just sloughed over, but honestly I can’t be bothered. If I think of anything interesting I missed, I’ll tell you, but beyond that, nahhhhhh… I’m “charting by exception” here. More to come after these two final prac weeks are done and I’ll have my life back! Until then!

Oh, and also, you don’t make a grilled cheese in Australia—it’s a cheese toastie… Wtf…

When in doubt, create a butterfly garden

As many of you I’m sure have guessed, by now, my jaunt up to Ireland and back was less than enjoyable. All I really have to show for it is a damaged psyche, and Silver Elite status on United Airlines.

I’m not going to go into too much detail, because it’ll just piss me off. Bottom line is, it didn’t go well, and there’s no use dwelling. I’m moving on with some [what I think are] positive changes in my dance career and we’ll just see what the future holds.

I’ll just take this blog to explain the pictures from the trip—which should be fairly easy, seeing as how there are like five of them, total.

My mode of transport to Belfast from Perth was Singapore Airlines, which is a nice escape from reality, where Asian Stepford Wives give you hot towels and more food than you could ever consume on a 14-hour fight. Although, they do have some very un-Stepford moments, should anyone cross them. The example that comes to mind would be seeing one of the lead flight attendants full-body tackle a large Saudi man into his seat after standing up prematurely after take off to retrieve work from his overhead luggage. Their parades through airports does come across as something of a military exercise, though, which is what I photographed in the first picture. The next is just a picture of the Airbus 380 aircraft, which is what I flew both directions between Singapore and London. It’s the largest passenger aircraft in the world, and an act of God each time is gets off the ground—I actually think Jesus might be personally involved.

The following picture is just of the casual butterfly garden in the Singapore Changi airport… You know, as you do… In an airport… Honestly, Singapore has more money than God, and their airport made it clear that they don’t even really know what to do with it… So when in doubt, create a butterfly garden… See my facebook for more pictures of it.

The last two pictures were taken from the Belfast Waterfront Hall… The view of the city is right from the practice area upstairs… A hell of a view to have whilst just practicing. Almost makes me wish I could dance there regularly (not). But no really, I do always enjoy a good panoramic, all-glass vista of a city. The final picture is obviously of the main stage at the Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne (Worlds)… That’s where I danced quite well… And got nothing to show for it. This is not to be confused with the repulsive fish-market nextdoor, to which the majority of the céilí competitions, as well as the girls and boys 15-16 age group were relegated to.

I definitely have more to blog about—mainly my commencement of Australian clinical rotations and move of apartments, but at the moment, it’s 2:30am, and I need to be awake in two-and-a-half hours for clinical, so I’d best be off… More later!

Oh and also, only in Australia can people seem to validly use “oh I’ve run out of credit” as an excuse not to contact someone… Stupid.

Mícheart, Aer Lingus! Mícheart!!!
Spot the error…

Mícheart, Aer Lingus! Mícheart!!!


Spot the error…

The Government of the Autonomous Principality of Zack has issued a MORATORIUM ON BLOGGING effective SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, to be enforced until FURTHER PROGRESS IS MADE ON UNI ASSIGNMENTS. Please contact Grace Starr Wolcott (Miss), MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR with specific enquiries.
But no really—I know it’s been ages and ages, but I’ve not forgotten you, I promise. I’ve just been spending upwards of seven hours per day in my room trying to get these two damn assignments done for next week, and that’s really all I’ve had the attention span for. Once these great works of academic writing have been slayed, I’ll write you a grand blog.

The Government of the Autonomous Principality of Zack has issued a MORATORIUM ON BLOGGING effective SEVERAL WEEKS AGO, to be enforced until FURTHER PROGRESS IS MADE ON UNI ASSIGNMENTS. Please contact Grace Starr Wolcott (Miss), MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR with specific enquiries.


But no really—I know it’s been ages and ages, but I’ve not forgotten you, I promise. I’ve just been spending upwards of seven hours per day in my room trying to get these two damn assignments done for next week, and that’s really all I’ve had the attention span for. Once these great works of academic writing have been slayed, I’ll write you a grand blog.

The Vermonster Within!

I’ve arrived in Ireland inbasicallyone piece… I didn’t have any access to wifi on the way, which was obnoxious, so you’ll get a travel update later… I took a few dorky pics along the way.

However, I just had to share: it’s so cold here than I can see my breath, and I never thought I’d be so happy for that to be the case in my entire life. Total system heat tolerance reset status: COMPLETE

Wanted: embossing machine

As you can see, I’ve not been up to much. People keep writing to say I’ve not updated the blog recently and that they need more entertainment reading material at work… I understand that, but I can’t write about nothing!

I’ve had dancing competitions every weekend for the last three weekends. You already knew about the first highland competition I did… So after that was just a little feis run by the WA Irish Dance Association—the details of which I won’t go into, at the risk of sounding bitter. Oh wait.

This past weekend was the WA State Highland Dance Championships, at which I danced abysmally and scraped a 3rd in the Seann Triubhas—and that’s all I have to show for it. I’m realising now more than ever that it’s very seriously getting to be that time to hang up the highland ghilles for good, and get behind the judge’s table. The Western Australian queen of highland dancing, Kerry Grosser, hosted a wonderful BBQ at her house after, where I met some of the most delightful people, including the judges from the championship, and two WA highland dance moms that have every intention of coming to the Quechee highland games this year and entering as adults—probably intoxicated… They’re expecting my embossed invitation by post shortly after my return to the states.

I suppose you could say I have yet another dancing competition next weekend, as well. The only minor detail is, it’s the World Irish Dancing Championships (42nd edition) in Belfast, Ireland… It’s 1:18am now on the 3rd of April, and doesn’t my flight depart for Singapore at 3:55pm “today”… But have I done anything at all to prepare for said departure? Absolutely not. That includes laundry… Awkward. Busy morning ahead, clearly!!! I’ll do my best to post regularly on the way like I did coming here, because I’m going through Singapore and London: places where hilarity is known to frequent…

So that’s really all for now—much more to come within the next 48 hours, I’d say. As for Perth itself, really nothing to report. Pretty boring, so just keeping my head down, shutting up and doing my thing.

Very good—send me good vibes for first class upgrades on the way! That’s a command, not a request.

Blog soon!

Oh, and also, when an Australian toilet gets clogged, you apparently don’t use a plunger to fix it, because the hole is too big and the water is too shallow… You poke the blockage further down with the toilet brush… Go figure.

Dead commuter eyes

Things are well underway by now. My “rabbit in the headlights” (they say rabbit, because they don’t have deer here) look whilst commuting to work and school has been replaced with the jaded, dead eyes of a city commuter, my daily routine is now managed by my autonomic nervous system, and I know just enough about the city to butt into Swedish tourists’ conversations and answer their questions, på Svenska.

Finally the extreme heat has broken, and I’m praying they don’t get it fixed until well after I’ve left the country. I realised I’d been here too long when it was 88F (31C) over the weekend and found myself thinking, “man it’s getting cool out!”. I’m hoping all this heat exposure won’t be able to suck the hearty Vermonter out of me. The trip to Belfast in two weeks will be a good system reset, I think.

Speaking of which, holy tits, Worlds is two weeks away. It doesn’t even seem real this time around. Normally I’m just minding my business doing my usual thing back home, and Worlds is the only thing I’m building up to, this time of year. The newness of Australia has sort of put my Worlds mindset out of whack. I’m hoping I realise where I am and what I’m doing sometime before I get on stage in Belfast.

Speaking of dance, I did my first dancing competition abroad this past weekend. Note it was highland dancing, not Irish, but still—I competed overseas. I came second, which was a nice little surprise. It was a small competition, but for not having done a single highland dance since the New England Championships in September, I’ll take it. I don’t have high hopes for the WA state highland championships two weeks from now, though. I have an Irish dance competition this coming weekend too… I’d just use my weekends to sleep in, but I didn’t use my entire baggage weight allowance for nothing—those costumes are getting used!!!

The student village has also all discovered by now that I’m a competitive Irish dancer, given our residence director’s failed attempt to have me teach Irish dancing lessons in the common area around St. Patrick’s day… Three people came, and one of them had been coerced into being there (Tina, the Norwegian). The event did, however, lead to me meeting Tara, a recent Iranian immigrant studying voice at WAAPA, which lead to me meeting the WAAPA gang… Namely Ben (pron. Bin), Julia, Harry, Olivia, Rob, Sam and Tyler. They’re the ones that understand the mentally ill dancer side of me the best, here—because let’s face it, Dance is being added to the DSM-V as a mental disorder under the personality disorder section. To understand more clearly, I go to Edith Cowan University, which has three locations. One in Bunbury (which we won’t acknowledge) one in Mt. Lawley and one in Joondalup. Joondalup is the largest and most post-modern campus. It’s about 40 minutes north of the city centre, and where the head offices are, as well as all of my classes (convenient, no? No.). Mt. Lawley is about five minutes from the city centre, and generally the best location—however the only courses hosted in the Mt. Lawley campus are the technology ones, education (I think), communications, artsy stuff, and some other stuff… I think. Also to be found on the Mt. Lawley campus is WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts), which you might consider the Australian version of Julliard. Heath Ledger is a notable graduate of WAAPA, if that says anything about it. As I understand it, WAAPA is a subsidiary college within ECU—so their buildings are fully incorporated on the ECU Mt. Lawley campus, and the WAAPA students that hail from distant locations live in the same housing as the rest of the relocated ECU students—hence my proximity to them (convenient, no? Yes.). I’ve also managed to convince the WAAPA management, that my situation is odd enough, to let me use their studio space at odd hours of the evening to practice even more, so that’s turned out well.

I’m running out of interesting things to say now. Actually, I think that happened two paragraphs ago, but I like giving you a lot to read. I know people at work back at FAHC certainly need something to fill their days with, during slow times in Stress… I’ll just explain the “pretty” pictures… Perth is known for its beaches… Which is misleading because Perth is actually a fair bit inland. The beaches are north and south of the city itself and go on for miles and miles. Obviously the body of water they are graced by is the Indian Ocean, which I’ve been lead to believe has a dearth of good sized fish, given the propensity for the sharks here to eat people. It’s honestly weekly. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about that, though, seeing as how I hate beaches. Just looking at them out the window of a moving vehicle is good enough for me—as in the pictures above. They were taken on the coastal road up by the suburb of Hillarys, which is lovely. See map above to understand the geography of all the locales mentioned in this post a bit better.

That’s all for now, I think. I’m off to WAAPA to practice my jig until I die… Which will probably be after like once. Wish me luck.

Oh and also, Australian Tragedy #882: Hulu doesn’t work here.