Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Love vs. Logic.

So J and I have decided to separate. Before everyone freaks, let me tell you it’s essentially exactly what we have been doing over the last nine months-living apart in different countries. The only difference this time is that instead of working on our relationship long-distance and trying to figure out plans while both of our heads were in no shape to do so, we are going to focus on ourselves.

This picture was taken in August 2008 on Magnetic Island. J and I were engaged, and I was in Australia meeting his family for the first time. There was so much love and happiness that it seemed nothing could break us down. I was on a high I had never felt before. Soon I was going to be a bride. A wife. Everything with us was so whirlwind-he proposed nine days after we met in person, and due to the Visa requirements had to instantly move in together and instantly get married after he was approved. There was never any turning back (not that we wanted to). I was doing so well and was so successful personally that it never occurred to me that having J actually in my world would be a massive change. I just naturally assumed that he would  fly over here and adapt to my life. I thought he would assimilate and I would take care of him until he didn’t need to be taken care of anymore. I forgot one minor detail: I could barely take care of myself.

On my days off of work, I slept. I ate take-out every day. I washed my clothes once every three weeks at best. I had bad days and loved to be left alone. As soon as J and I got married, I fell apart. I set up the wedding; picked out the house and the furniture; got him comfortable and tried to go back to my life and I couldn’t. It was almost like my brain went “what the hell now???” I was so depressed by Christmas (less than twenty-five days after our wedding) that I couldn’t even decorate the house or buy presents. By the end of January I was seeing a psychiatrist. By the end of March I was on medical leave from my work.

Everything got better on meds and then progressively worse. I was never put on a mood stabilizer for my bipolar so I got higher and higher until I crashed and took everything down with me-my job, my house, my finances. I haven’t worked since November 2009. I have been on my own since I was twenty and this is the first time in ten years where I have to rely on my husband and my parents to take care of me, and I hate it.

I have only been feeling better for the last few months, and while I was putting myself back together J started falling apart. It’s pretty common for spouses to suffer from depression related to stress-having to take care of their loved ones for so long and not worrying about themselves would wipe anyone out (like Catherine Zeta-Jones' struggle with Bipolar II after her husband’s cancer went into remission). I was so focused on myself and my pain that I was unable to see J’s own hurt. He’s now also in treatment and trying to deal with the guilt and loss of the last two years. It’s like we are constantly bouncing pain off of one another.

This is us back at Magnetic Island two weeks ago, nearly three years to the day after the first picture was taken. We are no longer in love-it’s much deeper and complex than I’ve ever felt for someone else before. I can truly say there is no one else I want but J in my life, and I know he feels the same. But is love enough? The last nine months I haven’t had him near to pull me up, and yet I was able to. I know now I am a better person when I am alone-I guess I am programmed that way. But my heart doesn’t want that. It wants J. We have a lot of things to work out, and we are going to do it separately. I’m torn on how I feel. On one hand, I’m already excited and looking forward to going back to the States and getting a damn job just to prove to myself that I can. On the other hand, I know that I won’t be able to fully move on until J and I have made serious decisions about our future, and that takes both of us.

I hate that I don’t know what the future holds. I want to press the “play” button on my life again. It feels like it has been on “pause” for so long, and I’m not getting any younger. I wish there was an easy answer. But there just isn’t, and it sucks ass. I’ve never been more torn in my life.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Magnetic Island, Part 2: The food!

In yesterday’s post you got to see how beautiful the island was-this post is all about how great everything TASTED! If you’ve read any of my past blogs about Australia or about me, you know I have some major food issues. Everything here tastes…different. You ask for bacon and you get this:
THAT..IS…HAM!!!!!
I always have to be careful what I order, otherwise something may get lost in the translation, like when someone asked if I wanted chips with my meal. “Potato chips, or ‘chip’ chips like French fries?” I replied (J told me chips almost ALWAYS means French fries). Or when I asked my mum once to get me tomato sauce for my soup and she brought me home ketchup. Doh! I’m happy to say the food situation at “Maggie” (what the locals call Magnetic Island) was an unparalleled success.
The trip to get to the Island from home is a little over 90 minutes, so I made sure not to eat a thing until we got situated (apparently that long of a drive makes me carsick if I eat). When we got to the ferry terminal, I noticed they had a gourmet coffee depot that sold sandwiches and pastries. Since I got here, I have been on the hunt for a caramel tart-something my mum makes perfectly (but she is in the UK right now!)-and haven’t been able to find one. Lo and behold, the depot had one! That was my breakfast. PS: Do you know a great way for people to know you’re a tourist in Australia? Have the barista yell out “soy caramel latte” and look your way!
Caramel tarts are like little kisses from angels. Serious.
After we got to our room, we asked the hotel owners where a good place to get a sandwich was, and he recommended a place about five minutes away called Sunbirdz. “It’s got a lot of frou frou stuff though, like bagels”. That’s EXACTLY what I was looking for! I ordered the special, a BLT (the B being HAM) with garlic aioli mayo and chips (French fries!) with scallions on top. It was excellent. Best sandwich I’ve had in Australia.

Our reservations for Man Friday were at 7pm, and it was the highlight of our day (yeah, we’re fat).

I talked J into trying their sangria, something he has never had before. It was really good, so much so we may try making a batch this weekend!

One of their appetizers were garlic feta stuffed mushrooms-something that sounded wonderful to me-J is not a fan of mushrooms at all. Of course he said I could have them since it was my birthday, and I’m so glad he did. They came out breaded-something I wasn’t expecting-and it made the feta all melty. J even ended up eating two because they were so good! He said they tasted like cheesy garlic bread.
We ate them so fast I didn’t get a picture! But this is what they looked like!
J was torn between getting Tex-Mex spareribs and a beef burrito,  but I knew what I was getting before we even got there-a Tasmanian eye filet mignon served over a bed of garlic mashed potatoes with garlic prawns. I got this last year when we came for our anniversary and it was the best steak I had ever had (except for my mom’s steak back home!). J ended up getting the burrito since authentic Mexican food is hard to come by in his neck of the woods.
Hee hee, love the Mexican flag!

The filet was a baseball cut, medium rare. UH-MAY-ZING.
The next day we got up super early to hit the Townsville farmers markets so I could hopefully find some chilies to make my tortilla soup while I’m here. Turns out types like “Anaheim” and “Poblano” are practically non-existent: I found more Serrano and Sweet Thai types more than any other. At the last stand I found a pack of red peppers that the lady said were “medium” that I still can’t figure out what type they are. They look like this! Anyone have an idea?

I think one of my favorite things to do while I’m in Australia is to see all of the different types of fruits and vegetables and the price differences to the American market. Happily I was able to find everything I needed for my soup except cilantro! I  ran into these MAMMOTH bell peppers (called “Capsicum” in Australia) that were 3 for $2.50.

Monday I prepared my soup as I watched the Emmys live at 11am (weird they were on in the morning!). I was dicing my peppers when Hugh Laurie came on and I glanced at the TV for a second and sliced the shit out of my thumb! That has never happened to me before! I started to sob and ran it under the water where it would NOT stop bleeding. Finally we grabbed a ton of paper towels and I put pressure on it. My angel of a husband who has never cut or diced anything in his life took over the reins and finished chopping the veggies for me. I went through three band-aids! The happy ending was my soup turned out GREAT!
*Look away if you’re squeamish about blood!!!*
Ow ow ow ow ow….
I keep promising that I will post my soup recipe here, by the way, since I ALWAYS talk about it-I’m pretty much obsessed with it. Stay tuned…
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Magnetic Island, Part 1: The Scenery!

Hey all, I had a WONDERFUL birthday! Thanks for all the birthday wishes on here, Twitter and Facebook!

J and I got to Townsville at 11am and hopped on the ferry to Magnetic Island. It was a beautiful day, probably around 77F (25C), and very clear.

Even though my hubs always looks goofy, in this shot he just couldn’t see. Derp!

 

 

The view from our room.DSC00132

The first thing we did was get food (of course!) and walk along Picnic Bay. The island was pretty beat up from Cyclone Yasi that hit this last February, but it looks like most of it had been cleaned up. We did see a few shipwrecks, though.

The pier was severely damaged from the cyclone.

 

It’s like walking on Gilligan’s Island!

 

 

 

The place we stayed at gave us a package deal with the room and a 4x4 to use for the day (OH HOW I WANTED A SCOOTER, but J was right-driving on the left in a foreign country is just an accident waiting to happen). We decided to make the most of it and take the dirt roads that were off-limits to regular cars and visit the roads less traveled. This was my favorite part of the trip (other than the food, which is a whole other blog post)!

 

 

West Point-this part of the island is only accessible by a 4x4.

 

Ooh, artsy! (My shadow is fat!)

 

Heading back from West Point, we found a creek.

 

 

And a “cricket-crow” that was really eerie looking on this desolate road…

We headed to the east side of the island to get to Horseshoe Bay, by far the most populated and touristy part of the island. Before we got there, I wanted to stop at Geoffrey Bay because the guidebook said it had such clear waters that the fish were almost docile. Unfortunately we didn’t see any fish…we pulled up and starting walking to the water when a man pointed at our car and said, “hey! Look at that! Look!” We looked back and what did we see? Rock wallabies everywhere!

 

Apparently they get fed so much by humans they aren’t scared anymore…DSC00204

 

Yes, I did say goodbye to all the wallabies. Yes, I am that dorky.

 

 

We headed over to Horseshoe Bay after our wallaby encounter and had some smoothies! Nothing says “I’m on holiday” more than a couple of smoothies, am I right?!? We just lounged on the beach and enjoyed the ocean. So beautiful!

That night after my AMAZING birthday dinner (that will have you all drooling in tomorrow’s blog), we went back to the hotel and watched “The Naked Gun 2 1/2” and “Changeling”. It was a perfect day!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Currently 70/30.

Hi all. I’m SO SORRY I don’t post regularly like I should. My brain just doesn’t seem to retain as many good ideas as it used to when it comes to writing. Sadly, I will take being on an even keel over having an overflow of blog posts. I hope my readers understand this! I’ve missed you guys!

I’ve been in Australia for 10 days now. As I posted last month, I was coming back here for six weeks to see my husband and hopefully get a fresh outlook on this country and really be able to steel myself in moving over here for good.

The plane ride was great-this coming from a person who HATES FLYING! Not a lot of turbulence, and the middle seat wasn’t taken by someone so I had a a lot of extra space. When I got here, it was different than before. It wasn’t like, hey! I’m in another country! Weird! It was more like I’ve been here before. Like this is my second home and I am familiar with it. Seeing my hubs after nine months was AMAZING. He got skinny! I cried when I saw him like a dork and was just happy all day long (and all night if you catch my drift OH YEAH).

The first couple of days here we just vegged out and spent time together. It’s all I needed, basically. By the weekend, though, I had caught an ugly cold and was miserable and bed ridden. We had gone to the grocery store before I got sick, and the same food issues I had last year are still there: everything is different and bland. There are minimal healthy choices in this town (like low-carb this or fat free that), and the staples I eat almost daily are nowhere to be found. I went to make my tortilla soup and the grocery store hasn’t had a shipment of chiles in weeks. I am trying to take it with a grain of salt, because this is a town of 7,000 with ONE grocery store. They are going to have a limited supply of food, and even that will be supply and demand. I’m hoping this coming weekend (my birthday!!!) when we go to Townsville (pop 200,000), I will be able to shop there and find more selection. (Side note-I bought bananas here and they were $10.97/kg which equates to $4.97/lb. CRAZY!!!)

Once I felt better, I was able to actually prepare food for J and I. On Saturday I made spaghetti via his mum’s recipe and it came out really well. Last night I made honey soy garlic stir fry, and it was excellent. I’ve been eating grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and bean burritos; I’m really just trying to not feel like I’m missing out on anything back home. Now that I am feeling better mentally, I think I am better equipped to find “copycat” recipes and make them as opposed to thinking I will NEVER HAVE NACHOS AGAIN (they don’t have nacho cheese sauce here! ACK!). My husband doesn’t understand why I can pretty much write an entire blog post about food, but I have food issues and he doesn’t get it. This is a big deal. See the “70/30” as my title? It’s the parts of me that think I can live here (70) versus the part of me that doesn’t think I will be able to (30). For a minute it was 60/40…then thinking about all the stuff I will miss it became 20/80, and I had to stop writing and have a big tear-laden conversation with the hubs. All is well though.

I miss my family, and I’ve been here less than two weeks. I know my hubs promises me that if I move here I can come back to the States once a year, but will that be enough? My grandpa is getting older and as it is now, I see him at least twice a week. My mom is still going through surgeries and we have gotten closer the more time we have spent together this year being bums (I got her hooked on “Grey’s Anatomy”). I see my niece and nephews more now than I ever have, and the more I spend with them the more I want to be in their lives.

When I am in Australia, I have to sleep with the light on. I have stupid superhuman hearing, and every bump in the night freaks me out SO MUCH. I look under the pillows, toilet seats, tables, in my shoes, etc. to make sure bugs aren’t lurking. The first night I was here, there was a roach in the bathroom, and now I have to scan the whole room in order to even pee. Today I was walking into the main bathroom to wash my hands and I ALMOST STEPPED ON A GIANT DEAD COCKROACH. Now I can’t walk around without shoes on, damn it. These are the mounting fears that make me want to go home to the comfort of my house and my country.

All in all, I’m pretty much coping. I love spending time with J, even if that means watching The Simpsons in bed or making a nice meal for us. Even though the birds wake me up at 5am, they are so beautiful to look at (and photograph with my new camera!). The cat sleeps in bed with us (and throws up in bed-gross), something I have missed since we had our two babies Sam and Portal. Everything is so laid-back and relaxed here-I can’t help but feel calm (except when I see giant cockroaches). This weekend (for my birthday!!!), we are going back to one of my favorite places on Earth, Magnetic Island, so I hope to have a lot of beautiful pictures to share with you. Here are a few I took a couple of days ago. Enjoy!

These birds are called “Peewees”.

 

This is called a “Butcher bird”.

 

Hanging out the wash-old school!

 

The uptown view of main street.

 

The opposite view of main street.

 

J got skinny and more handsome, if that’s even possible!

 

See you soon! Hed <3

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