Thursday, July 21, 2011

Saves the Day

Or Save the Date, in this case!

This is the post card that MOTH Dude and I are going to use for our Save the Dates. We are custom designing them through Zazzle so down in the water section of the card we will have "Save the Date" and then all of the whos and the whats and the whens on the back. MOTH Dude really loved this image when I came across it and we think everyone here will get a kick out of it, too.

I know we are still about 14 months out from the wedding, but we are doing a dorky little slide show for our friends and family here sometime in September letting them know about the wedding and what things might cost them should anyone decided to come out to California to celebrate with us. I know traditionally S.T.D.s don't go out that early (not that S.T.D.s are really traditional to begin with, but you know what I mean) but for such a big trip, we feel it is important to give everyone a full year to be able to think about it/save up. We won't send out the Save the Dates to people back in the States until about 4 months out or whenever you typically send them out.

Anyway, I promise not to completely turn this place in to a wedding blog, but it is one of the happier elements of my life right now-planning for our wedding. Plus, it is freezing cold here right now (like "I can see my breath in my bedroom right now" cold) and it's been raining non-stop for the past few days so not a whole lot of other excitement has been going on lately.

Although, I do have some recipes I should get posted up that are amazing! And tomorrow night we are celebrating our 3rd Annual Christmas in July with all of our friends...yay!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Every Thug Needs a Lady

Edited To Add- I forgot the funniest part of the proposal story...see further down in bold
Mine, Mine, Mine courtesy of MOTH Dude

I realize I still need to write about a million things that happened in Kauai, but I finally took a picture of my new engagement ring to send to one of MOTH's cousins (they asked to see it, I wasn't showing off like I am on here) so I thought I'd share it with you guys and tell you how it is that I came to be in possession of this new e-ring.

So on a perfectly ordinary Friday night in Santa Cruz, MOTH and I made plans to head to one of our favorite restaurants ever, Saturn Cafe, in downtown Santa Cruz. We had an amazing, but simple, dinner there as always and then we headed out to watch the sunset so that MOTH could get some photos.

I had forgotten that with the shape of the bay, nowhere in Santa Cruz proper has a good view of the sunset on the water, so we drove as far north on West Cliff as we could until we hit the parking lot of Natural Bridges State Beach. We still weren't going to be able to see the sun sinking in to the ocean but it was pretty and the lighting was still nice. I had forgotten my jacket and it ended up being FREEZING outside even with a beanie in scarf so I hopped out of the car for only a few minutes and then left MOTH on his own to take pictures.

When he got back in the car we decided we would head to the wharf so that we could see the sea lions- a tradition any time we head downtown. As we are driving back along West Cliff, we get to Steamers Lane and the Lighthouse and MOTH says, "Let's pull over here and go for a quick walk, I want to take pictures of the Lighthouse at night" or something so I say, "Sure." We walk along and check out the waves and water, I run ahead when I spot a sea otter in the kelp and leave MOTH behind to take pictures. He finally catches up and I say, "Alright, I'm freezing, let's head back to the car." He says, "Fine, but let's walk back along the water" so we start to and then I say, "Let's take funny pictures together!" So we do that, too, and I'm ready to go and give MOTH Dude a hug and he says, "What's this in my pocket?" or something like that and I look at it in the fading light and think, "Why did he bring his camera charger with him?" but then I see it's not a camera charger at all and he says, "So do you still want to marry me?" And I say, "Yes, awesome, is that for me? Can I open it?" And rather than give him a kiss or be romantic, what do I do? I high-5 him! (which is dorky and not very romantic, but totally us so it was still perfect, I guess) He says of course I can so I open it and immediately start spazzing out: "Oh my Gawd! Holy Smokes! Oh wow! That's really for me? I get to keep it? Oh my Gawd! Oh my Gawd! Holy Shit" and have a mini freak out for a good 3-4 minutes and he's just laughing and loving it the whole time.

I put the sparkler on and can't get over how big it is. I still can't! We marvel at it all the time. And I'm no girly girl either so it sticks out on me since I don't wear much other jewellery ever.

After we went and checked out the sea lions, MOTH proceeds to tell me how he and my Dad had spent out two days in San Francisco looking at loose diamonds, finding the perfect one, and then finding the perfect setting for it to go on. They had made up some bogus story about my Dad losing his hat at the movies on Monday to get away from the condo on Tuesday to buy the ring that they had contemplated on Monday. I thought it was pretty rad that MOTH and my Dad did it together.

When we got home, I ran up to my parents' room and showed them and they were all excited (even though they both had seen the ring before then and knew the re-proposal was going down that night). Mom couldn't get over the size of it and said that MOTH must really like me and she also said how good he is to me, which I agree (obviously above and beyond the things he buys me).

It was a really, really special night. I didn't get the whole "surprise!" with our first proposal/engagement ring and this was the perfect do over. I liked that we went out to a simple dinner and were just doing things that we'd normally do in Santa Cruz . I also like that we'll always have the memory of getting engaged at Steamers Lane since it's one of our favorite places in the world.

Since my old e-ring is a simple band with some small diamonds on it and actually looks more like a wedding band, I suggested that he give it back to me on our 5 year wedding anniversary, if he still loves me. I think then it becomes an "eternity ring"? All of our friends here seem to get them after they've been married for a year or two. I told MOTH if I don't get it back, then I'll take that as a sign, haha, but I have a feeling in 2017, it'll be back to sitting on my finger.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Face It, This Is What We're Up Against


So there was this one time I went for a new job in secret (working with U.S. college students coming over for study abroad) and I really, really wanted this job because I really, really needed something outside of MOTH Dude and our friends that I loved about Australia and that would keep me distracted from missing my family and California and just because it sounded fun and like something I'd enjoy doing and then...

I didn't get it.

And on the same day our oven decided it wasn't going to work properly anymore and instead spewed noxious brown smoke that filled the house in under 7 minutes, leaving our furniture, bedding, and clothing all smelling like burnt plastic.

Keep those punches coming Australia, I'm slowly learning to roll with them. I mean letting things go right for once would just be too easy, huh? Yep, I thought so, too!

Today, I'm picking myself back up again- appreciating all the hugs I received from people at work, washing the sheets and hanging our comforter out on the line since fresh laundry rocks anyway, and having all the windows open, letting in the light and the fresh air.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hold Me Close When Tradewinds Blow

Me (in the distance) on the grass area in front of our condo watching for whales.

So the day before we were due to leave for Kauai, I was still not feeling well. I went to my regular doctor and he checked my ears after I told him my symptoms and he said I didn't know how I was able to hear anything as my one ear was completely blocked up.....ewww! He said I should get some ear drops to loosen the stuff up and then the next morning to come back before we left for the airport and they would clean it out. He also gave me a doctor's note since I'd need to keep putting the drops in my ears every hour and couldn't really be wearing my headset and doing that at the same time. I knew it looked really, really bad to have the two days before a month long holiday off so I drove my sick note the 45 minutes in to work and explained to the girl acting as manager that week what was going on and to prove that I was still physically in the country and not already in Kauai.

Saturday morning, I got up, made sure I was packed and then headed off to the doctor's office. They ended up squirting both of my ears out and it was a pretty weird sensation, but they got the right ear unblocked without bursting my ear drum so I was excited.

I rushed back home and just before noon the shuttle came to pick us up to take us to the airport. The guy was a super slow driver and kept taking these backroad routes that were bumpy and windy and making me kind of nauseous. We finally made it to the airport and up to the counter where MOTH Dude proceeds to read the screen above us that says you can pack a gun in your checked luggage and jokes, "Oh man, so I can't bring it loaded?" I was like, "Ummm, you idiot, did you not see the screen before that one that said 'Please do not make jokes' about weapons or terrorism? Do you want to get arrested or cavity searched? I'll tell them you need a cavity search!" After that, he stopped joking around.

The plane ride was long and uncomfortable and the food that we had to pay extra for was pretty awful. We flew JetStar and I'd recommend a)not flying with them for long flights b) don't buy their food (we prepaid), bring your own on and c) don't bother to buy the comfort/entertainment package. Bring your own blanket and load movies on your laptop. All the ones on their hand held players were old or we'd never heard of them.

We had a 2 hour layover in Oahu and a quick flight over to Kauai. I thought for sure we'd have to wait at the airport for my parents to pick us up, but they were to our baggage claim area within 5 minutes of me calling them. A first for our family, I think! Mom came up behind me and gave me a big hug and had tears in her eyes. MOTH stayed to watch for luggage and I went out to the curb to drop off a bag and give Dad a hug.

Once we had our luggage, we made our way to Walmart and bought some reef walking shoes and some fins for Mom. We then made our way to Koloa Town to have lunch. We went to a place called Tomkats Grille. MOTH Dude got the plate lunch with kalua pork and poke (like ceviche) and thought it was awesome.

This was part of the view from our balcony and from that point we could watch dolphins coming in and whales going by!

After lunch, we finally made our way to our condo at Whaler's Cove. We dropped all of our stuff and hopped in to our bathing suits and hit the pool and jacuzzi. When we got back to the condo, Mom spotted whales from our balcony. Later, Dad, MOTH and I went grocery shopping and then made tacos for dinner and we all sat outside on our balcony to eat and watched the stars and lightning.

The next day, I got up by 7 or 8 am and sat outside with Mom and Dad. Not long after I came out, a huge pod of spinner dolphins cruised past and did a few leaps and spins for us. I then got really tired and passed back out for an hour or two. When MOTH and I finally got up, we decided to make the most of the sunny weather and go swimming and bronzing. As we were laying there, we saw people watching the water. A few minutes later we looked up again and everyone was still watching the water so we figured there must be something really cool out there. We walked to the edge of the pool area and saw the most incredible sight. About 100 yards, if that, off the pool area were three humpback whales cruising along. They were very active and began tail splashing and bringing their heads out of the water and seeming to look back to where we were. All of a sudden one did a full jump out of the water. Then a few minutes later two jumped out of the water back to back. I had never seen wild whales so close before and I had never seen them do so many leaps at a time. We must have seen them breach 5 times or more. It was a pretty incredible experience. We felt very special to have witnessed it.

After that, we decided to head to Costco and MOTH and I were so excited to get pizza and a chicken bake. We also picked up some really nice steaks to barbecue for dinner. When we got home, we all threw on our bathing suits and headed to a nearby beach to snorkel. We must have been out there for over an hour and we just couldn't get enough of all the brightly colored fish we were seeing. We only got out after we started getting the shivers from being cold.

When we got home, we started prepping dinner and mai tais and Dad turned on the news. We were all pretty blown away by the news of Osama bin Laden being killed and sat and watched it for awhile. Dad and MOTH headed out after awhile to cook up dinner and just as they did a quick, heavy rain came over. After a few minutes, it passed and Mom went to go check on them. I spotted some whales in the distance from our balcony so I went down to the pool/barbecue area to let the others know. I think those were the last whales of the trip that we ended up seeing.

Over the next few days, we bronzed a lot, went souvenir shopping, drank an insane amount of mai tais, tried some new restaurants, snorkeled or swam whenever we could, and MOTH Dude went for a scuba dive where he saw a bunch of sea turtles just hanging on the sea floor and taking a nap. It was the perfect, relaxing vacation.

Next up, Part 2 of our trip to Kauai including our adventure paddleboarding, sight seeing at some waterfalls, and a trip to the start of the Napali Coast and one of the prettiest beaches in the world.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

You Put Your Arms Around Me and I'm Home

Sorry for the large video, it's more for the music then to wouldn't let me resize this one for whatever reason and I have no idea how to fiddle with the code.

I heard this song the last day I was in California and loved it.

I never thought that you would be the one to hold my heart
But you came around and you knocked me off the ground from the start

You put your arms around me
And I believe that it's easier for you to let me go
You put your arms around me and I'm home

How many times will you let me change my mind and turn around
I can't decide if I'll let you save my life or if I'll drown

I hope that you see right through my walls
I hope that you catch me, 'cause I'm already falling
I'll never let a love get so close
You put your arms around me and I'm home

The world is coming down on me and I can't find a reason to be loved
I never wanna leave you but I can't make you bleed if I'm alone

You put your arms around me
And I believe that it's easier for you to let me go

I hope that you see right through my walls
I hope that you catch me, 'cause I'm already falling
I'll never let a love get so close
You put your arms around me and I'm home

I tried my best to never let you in to see the truth
And I've never opened up
I've never truly loved 'Till you put your arms around me
And I believe that it's easier for you to let me go

I hope that you see right through my walls
I hope that you catch me, 'cause I'm already falling
I'll never let a love get so close
You put your arms around me and I'm home

You put your arms around me and I'm home

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In Rain and Regret

So you get another round of cheerful Little D today (sidenote: sarcasm!). Vacation posts to come soon.

You know what blog post I want to read from another expat? The post that says, "You know what? America is more awesome than Australia and I wish I could go back." It seems like everyone else thinks this place is all rainbows and puppies. How come no one writes the honest blog post that says "Today I didn't want to get out of bed because I'm sad that it's summer in the U.S. and freezing cold here and I really miss my family." You never see that post.

Well, I'm here to write it. America is better and I wish I was there right now. America has my parents. America has a higher standard of living, at least my American lifestyle did- no living in a tiny, cold shack. America has cheap baseball and movies. America has more variety. America seems to be more open minded, at least in Northern California where I'd be living does. America is bigger and has bigger things and faster things and better infrastructure.

If not for work, I'd probably not have gotten out of bed since we've been back yet. Is this fair to MOTH Dude? No, not at all. I DO realize that. I try to hide my sadness most days from him and sometimes I do a really bad job of it and I know it makes him feel bad, but I can't help it.

And, by the way, where is it written that just because we met here we have to stay here? That seems to be the consensus among his family members. I don't get the logic in that at all. MOTH Dude is a bit more open to change than they are and thank god because he'll have to be the one to move someday, not them.

We talk about moving to California or Hawaii in 5 years, but sometimes I wonder if I can make it another 5 years. It's only been about 6 and a half so far.

If I look at things objectively, I can see our 5 year plan is a good one since we both have decent paying jobs here right now and our current focus is saving as much as possible for the wedding and a down payment for a house, thus living in this crappy shack and paying the least amount of rent possible. After we get married then we'll probably take a year to just hang out and be married and then start trying for kids. I figure I should pop them out here since I can do it on the free health care system. After kid having (or shitting out kids as I lovingly refer to it), then we plan to move back to California.

I just worry we won't ever make it there. Then what will I do? I don't want to be bitter, bitchy, or angry (or crazy as my mental state from a month and a half ago shows I could easily by on my way to). I don't want to have that regret in my life, that we never moved back.

In saying that though, I don't regret moving here. I don't regret staying with MOTH Dude with the price tag of having to live here for a few more years. We've talked extensively about it and we love each other too much to walk away. Even before we were engaged we decided this.

And I know the U.S. isn't some magical land where all problems are solved and money grows on trees, or all rainbows and puppies, but I come from a really small family unit (me, Mom, Dad, Nae, and a crazy Gma a few hours away) and that's all of us there are in the world. I just don't like the feeling that I've abandoned the family for so long and I don't think growing older necessarily means you have to abandon your family. I know they don't feel abandoned, but what do you call it when you miss everyone's birthdays and all holidays and aren't ever there? I'm not a part of my family anymore except for that month a year I get to go home and I hate that feeling. My family is awesome and I want to be there for all the events, big and small. Even though our kids will have MOTH Dude's last name, I want them to know my family and be close to them because they are pretty rad. I want them to have the upbringing I had. I want them to have the privileges and experiences I had and I just don't see that happening in Australia.

Alright, so I'm feeling better now that I've spilled my heart and my guts to the internet so I'll stop now. I hope that at some point this post can help someone else, too, because they'll know they aren't alone in their craziness or sadness in missing home.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Life in the Fast Lane

Oops, So I believe I said in my last post that I would update again from Kauai, but now here I am, with 2 days and 1 night left of my trip back to the States, and I'm only just getting around to posting. Typical me!

I have a ton of stuff to write about and not much time to write it today since I still have to look for work pants and shoes to bring back with me and stock up on a few more food products MOTH and I will be desperate for as soon as we get back to Aus where they are either a) not available or b) god awful expensive and then I should clean the guest room since my parents have people coming to stay with them a few days after we leave.

Since I keep reading on people's Facebook statuses how cold and miserable it is in NSW already and since high bill season is about to start at my work, where I know I will spend multiple 8 hour shifts getting yelled at and verbally abused by customers, reminiscing on my vacation through blog posts will be a very nice distraction in the coming weeks.

Here are some of the topics I hope to have posts up about shortly:

Our amazing, wonderful, fabulous, exquisite, relaxing, and fun trip to Kauai

Our time in San Francisco, including meeting our fabulous wedding photographer

The time I got ripped off by some guy at a gas station and got in to a verbal confrontation with him

Wedding plans including our wedding planner, our menu, and our location

How MOTH Dude upgraded my engagement ring in a very BIG way

Anyway, I'm off to start my errands. Wish me safe flying thoughts and a speedy recovery from my jet lag since I am hitting the ground running and starting back to work on Monday!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Had a Taste of You, Threw Up All Night

Of course my body would let me down right before we're due to leave for vacation! I seem to always get sick or hurt right before I head back home- last year I was sick from a wicked spider bite and the year before that I could hardly walk through the airport after stepping on a bee. This year my ears are hurting, my head is killing me and I'm either nauseous or vomiting. It started yesterday morning, but I thought it'd go away once I got up and moving for the day so I drove up to the mall near work to get a few last minute gifts for people back home but I soon realized that the waves of nausea were not going away and with my head pounding, there was no way I could put up with talking to anyone on the phone, let alone people screaming at me. I was also feeling really, really spacey and had trouble concentrating. I knew it would look really bad to have a day off right before my month long vacation, but I called in sick anyway and headed to the medical center located near the mall. Other than noting my headache and nausea, the doctor was not interested in my medical history at all and within 2 minutes told me my problem was tension headaches and sent me off with a prescription for muscle relaxers. I knew that this probably wasn't the right answer, but I had my doctor's note for work, so I went home to sleep and hoped I'd wake up feeling better. Instead, I woke up feeling even worse and went out in to the backyard to sit in the cold air. That didn't help so I threw up in some bushes. That didn't help either so I took a shower and sat under the hot water for awhile. That didn't help so I drank some tea. That didn't help because I threw up again. Then I had some gingerale. Then I threw up again, then again until there was nothing left to throw up. I thought once it was all out of me, I'd start to feel better but the nausea stayed with me all night and I've still got it (although to a lesser extent, thank god) as has my headache. MOTH suggested that maybe it was vertigo that was causing my headache and nausea. I was a little unsteady on my feet yesterday but didn't have the spins, but it got me thinking that I have been having trouble with my ears the past couple of weeks so maybe that is throwing off my equilibrium a bit. Sure enough, this morning when I woke up, both ears were sore and through the night I couldn't get comfortable lying on either one of them. Luckily, the medical center I normally go to had an appointment open for this morning so I'm heading out the door for that now. Fingers crossed I just need some ear drops and maybe they'll throw in some anti-nausea medicine for good measure, too. Don't know if I'll work today, especially since my ears are so sensitive and my headset doesn't seem to help that, but I will go in physically to the office so that if nothing else, they can see how crappy I actually look and know that I'm not faking being sick right before I go away on vacation. I'd trade being on the phones for the afternoon for the way I'm feeling right now in a heartbeat! So wish me luck that this all gets cleared up by flight time tomorrow and wish me safe travels. I'll update again from Kauai!

Monday, April 25, 2011

One More Day to Leave it All Behind To Go Where You Have Never Even Tried

So welcome back to the roller coaster that is my mind and my emotions. Today you find me in a good mood and my spirits high. I am on the final day of a 5 day long weekend and I only have 3 more days left at work before I am off for a whole month!

MOTH Dude and I have spent the weekend cleaning, doing laundry, gardening, visiting friends and family and catching up on much needed sleep and our favorite TV shows.

We are both nearly giddy at the thought of our upcoming travel plans! Saturday we are having a van pick us up and then we are off to SYD to catch our JetStar flight to Honolulu. We arrive at about 6:30am Saturday morning where we will head through customs and then catch a flight to Kauai where we will meet up with my Mom and Dad. From there we will head to our favorite condo ever (see image above, it's called Whalers Cove and it's in Poipu) and spend 8 days snorkeling, tanning, stand up paddle boarding, and hanging out.

After that we head to San Francisco for a few days where we plan on walking over the GG Bridge again, eating at our favorite restaurants, doing some shopping, meeting with a potential wedding photographer, and hitting up an SF Giants baseball game-MOTH's first ever!

After San Francisco, we will head down to Santa Cruz to hang out, visit potential wedding spots, meet our wedding coordinator, hang with some of my parents' really fun and nice neighbors, beach walk, meet other potential wedding vendors, and eat at all of our favorite places. Bun and Markie may also come up for a visit so we can show them around and so that they can finally experience staying in the awesome pool house at Mom and Dad's.

We are also planning on a very quick road trip down to Orange County to meet with our other potential wedding photographers, as well as to visit my Gma and ask my Godfather to be our wedding officiant!

We have so much to do in the three weeks we will be back in California and I really want to get as much wedding stuff nailed down as possible because it may be the last time we/MOTH Dude will be there before the wedding (eeeek!). I'm sure we will be coming back from our trip as worn out as when we left, but in a good way. I can't wait to meet all the people who are potentially going to make our wedding day so special. I also can't wait to see how much all of this is going to cost us. I am sure we are in for some sticker shock!

I really wish Nae could be with us in Kauai and for wedding planning since she's my Maid of Honor (or as I like to call her, the Maid of Horror since she thinks I'm going to be a bridezilla, haha), but she is swamped with tracking sharks and working on her dissertation so I am hoping that MOTH Dude and I (or at least I) can get back at Christmas time when she is planning on a visit.

In other news, my sister who is not really my sister, aka the Camp Counselor is going to be watching the pets while we are in Kauai. She is then leaving with her real family for a trip to Australia the day after we get in to Santa Cruz and as (bad) luck would have it, she'll be arriving back to the U.S. on the day that MOTH and I arrive back to Sydney! I can't believe the timing of it!

Stay tuned for all the exciting (at least to me) updates and photos.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

And I'm Sure the View from Heaven Beats the Hell Out of Mine Here...You Won't Be Coming Back and I Didn't Get to Say Good Bye

Very late last night/early this morning, MOTH and I got in from hanging out with our friends for the last time before we leave for the States. He had a little bit of work he wanted to finish and I wasn't tired so I decided to look at one of my wedding websites. In one of the real wedding posts, a girl had on a dress I liked so I clicked on the link to the shop where she bought it and this song came on:

I hadn't heard it in years, but it immediately reminded me of my 8th grade graduation because it was the song we walked in and out of the church to. For whatever reason it got me thinking about my friend Noah and I hadn't really thought of him in months so I tried to google his name because it used to bring up a picture of him from right before he died. Whoever used to have the picture on their blog, must have taken it down or closed their blog because it didn't come up this time so I did a general search of Noah's name and as soon as I saw the first link related to him I burst out crying. I was so freaked out because the text from the link said Noah Oct 3 1984-April 17 2002-9 years ago today! I couldn't believe the coincidence or the timing of it all. I also couldn't believe that it had been 9 whole years since we lost him.

MOTH and I stayed up even later, just lying in bed and talking about Noah and a friend MOTH had who died under similar circumstances when he was 13, and about all that lost potential and wondering what our friends would be like today had they made it to 29 and 26, rather than ending it all at 14 and 17. I still count April 18 2002 as one of the worst days of my life and even though the shock of the coincidence from this morning has left me a bit sad today, I feel like I am finally moving on from his death. The wound is no longer so fresh and raw. While I hate his decision, I realize he didn't make it in a rational or sane state of mind, and I think that I have finally accepted it and that he is gone.

Although it has taken me a long time to get to this point and it is a good place to be, now I feel a bit scared. Scared because I'm afraid of forgetting him. Scared because I'm getting older and he'll forever be 17. Scared because I'm moving forward, while he let himself get stuck in a moment. Scared because if I'm starting to forget him, who else is forgetting him or has forgotten him already? I guess I needn't be scared, though, because even if I don't think about him as often as I used to, it doesn't mean I don't love him any less than I did then and I'll always hold a piece of him in my heart. And although I totally don't believe in that kind of stuff, maybe he is looking out for me somehow and gave me a little subconscious poke that brought him in to my mind today, on this particular day of all days?

I'll leave you with a video and the lyrics to a song I used to listen to on repeat right after he died:

Yellowcard "View from Heaven"

I'm just so tired
Won't you sing me to sleep
And fly through my dreams
So I can hitch a ride with you tonight
And get away from this place
Have a new name and face
I just ain't the same without you in my life

Late night drives, all alone in my car
I can't help but start
Singing lines from all our favorite songs
And melodies in the air
Singin' life just ain't fair
Sometimes I still just can't believe you're gone

And I'm sure the view from heaven
Beats the hell out of mine here
And if we all believe in heaven,
Maybe we'll make it through one more year
Down here

Feel your fire,
When its cold in my heart
And things sorta start
Remindin' me of my last night with you
I only need one more day
Just one more chance to say
I wish that I had gone up with you too

And I'm sure the view from heaven
Beats the hell out of mine here
And if we all believe in heaven
Maybe we'll make it through one more year
Down here
You won't be comin' back
And I didn't get to say goodbye (goodbye)
I really wish I got to say goodbye

And I'm sure the view from heaven
Beats the hell out of mine here
And if we all believe in heaven
Maybe we'll make it through one more year
I hope that all is well in heaven (well in heaven)
Cuz it's all shot to hell down here (we need you)
I hope that I find you in heaven
Cuz I'm so...
Lost without you down here

You won't be coming back
And I didn't get to say goodbye (goodbye)
I really wish I got to say gooooodbye

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wearing Your Black Eye Like a Badge of Honor

(Or: Is This the Way a Toy Feels When Its Batteries Run Dry?)

Today during a guest presentation at work, the speaker told our group that overseas Australia is known as the fight capital of the world..."If you want to go to a country and get beat up, go to Australia" is what he said news programs in other countries report about Australi to which I was very emphatically (and internally) nodding my head. He later wrapped up his talk by bringing it full circle back to this idea that Aus is a perpetual fight club by saying, "Other countries who think that of us are crazy. We are about being good mates to each other....blah blah blah....built of each other.....blah blah blah, mates." And I was thinking, "I think the foreign news stories have got it right about it here," but of course you can't say that as the only non-Aussie in the room!

For all the shit I get from Australians about our lack of gun control in America, I can honestly say I've never felt as unsafe in my life as I have living here and no one I know back home even owns a gun. Granted, I lived in a lot nicer neighborhoods than I do here, but even walking around big cities in the States I felt a lot safer than I do here in my home in Australia.

Before living here I guess I didn't realize the polite segregation that still happens in our society back home. There you have your ghettos, your working class neighborhoods, your middle class neighborhoods, and your upper middle class and then rich neighborhoods. I don't know if city planners here are just dumb or what, but you can have a decent middle class neighborhood and then someone will decide it's an awesome idea to stick a group of housing commission homes (Aus' version of the ghetto) or some kind of pub/club on the corner so you can never just have a safe, quiet neighborhood.

MOTH Dude and I currently live in a neighborhood I'd describe as working class with the immediate houses around us occupied by families and senior citizens. We could afford to live somewhere nicer, but we're saving for the wedding and just saving, in general, for the future so we don't have to buy a place in a neighborhood like the one we are in now. And really with housing commission blocks everywhere it doesn't seem like there are a ton of "nice" neighborhoods for us to move in to anyway. We could spend $100-$200 more per week (that's how rent is paid here, by the way-still find that strange) and we'd be having the same problems we are having now. I should know, my parents' paid a lot of rent money when I was living in a nice place in Newcastle during college and I was still woken up most weekends by people fighting in the street.

This past week I've had to call the cops twice and also heard a horrific story about an incident that happened to one of MOTH Dude's Uncle's friends. Last Friday night, MOTH stayed back at work to have drinks with coworkers so I was home alone and watching a movie in bed, when at about 11, I heard a couple arguing in the street. When I first moved to Australia, it would've been something I would've really tensed up over but now it's kind of a common occurrence so I kept watching my movie, figuring they'd move on. A few minutes later I could tell that the couple had moved in to the little park across the street from us and I heard the girl yell, "Ow, stop, you're hurting me!" so I paused my movie to listen to what was going on and the girl continued to yell this a few more times so I decided to call the cops in case the girl was really getting hurt. I heard her boyfriend tell her, "I'll pull you by your f*ing hair if I have to" and it sounded like that was what he was doing. I spoke to the cops, but at that point it sounded like the couple was moving on. The dispatcher said she'd still have officers come check the park to make sure everything was ok there. I waited 10 minutes at the front door and they never showed up. I looked out the window any time a car drove passed for the next 30 minutes...still no cops! Glad the girl wasn't getting totally beat up in the park or she would have been in serious trouble. It also made me angry because it was obvious that none of my neighbors had called the cops to report the incident, either, even though they were all home, including the family who lives directly next to the park where the girl's screams were coming from.

Tuesday night we ended up having a late night since I got dinner going later than usual and it took longer to make than it should have and we decided to watch a movie while we ate dinner which finished later than we had expected. So by the time we checked emails, MOTH did dishes, and I got settled in to bed to read for a few minutes and he jumped in the shower so he wouldn't have to before his 4:15 leave time in the morning, it was after 11. At some point a car pulled up, but I just assumed it was our neighbor pulling in to his driveway which is right next to our bedroom window and that he must be saying good bye to some friends. They talked on and on and on and I thought, "Alright, Dude, it's nearly 11:30 on a Tuesday night, wrap it up" but then when I really started listening the voices didn't sound like they were coming from behind my head, they sounded like they were coming from directly in front of our bedroom windows. I got up and went to our front room and peaked out of the windows and there was a station wagon with a bunch of guys standing around it, blocking our driveway. Out of all the places to park on the street, they didn't pull over in front of the park or the vacant block/nature strip next to our house or even properly in front of our house, they parked across the end of our driveway. Something about it creeped me out and I turned on the porch light so the guys got the hint, like, "Hey, we're in here, you can shut up and leave now" and they did get in their car, but then they just sat out there in the dark. I went in to the bathroom and told MOTH about them and when he got out he went to the front and peaked out, too. We turned off all the lights to try and hint at them again that we were there and were wanting to sleep, but the car just sat there and we were like, "Are these guys the dumbest/loudest burglars alive or what?" MOTH Dude decided to go out to our laundry room and make sure it was locked up and I sat on our bed waiting for him to come back in. As soon as he got out of the back door, the doors of the car opened and I heard people walking around in our front yard. I started to panic about them going in to the backyard where MOTH was but I couldn't move. Luckily, MOTH came back in and said as he was locking up, he saw the guys walking up the vacant block all the way down to the end of it where there is nothing, but easy access in to our backyard so I said, "Okay, I'm calling the cops." So for the second time in four days, I put in an emergency call and the dispatcher said she'd have someone out here quickly. We waited 5 minutes, heard the guys throw some cans and stuff on our lawn and then their car started up and they pulled away. I started to feel like an idiot for being paranoid and called the dispatch back and they said they would cancel the call out. For the next hour, every little cricket chirp or bat screech had me sitting up in bed and looking out the window to make sure no one was out there. When MOTH's alarm went off at 3:45, I had already been lying awake for nearly 20 minutes. As it got light, I was able to get about an hour's sleep before my own alarm went off. Not a fun way to spend a night and I was a zombie at work on Wednesday.

To just pull up to someone's house and block their driveway when the whole street is wide open and full of regular spots to pull in to is just weird to me. As a teenager, I'd sometimes pull over with a friend to have a chat in front of a random house, but it was always in a spot in front of the house, not blocking anyone's driveway and we hardly ever got out of the car so the people inside the house would not be woken up by us.

Finally, the last concerning incident happened Sunday night: Before we got in to bed, MOTH said, "Oh by the way, Uncle B's friend left the local club the other night to walk his friend, who had had too much to drink, back to his house which was only about 300 feet from the club when people started harassing them from a car. They must have yelled something back and 3 people (including a girl) jumped out of the car and immediately knocked the drunk guy out and proceeded to beat and stab Uncle B's friend. He is now in a medically induced coma." The club they were walking home from is about 2 miles from our house and is in a really quiet neighborhood. I was shocked and felt sick to my stomach. Luckily, two women came out and stopped the attack and managed to get the license plate of the car and all 3 people who were a part of it are now in jail. The police think this attack is linked to another one that happened about 5 miles in the opposite direction from our house a few weeks back where a guy was walking home from another club and a car randomly pulled over and beat him with a metal bar. These people were just out cruising, purposely looking for people to hurt.

WTF?!!? I feel like at least at home if I got shot it would be because I walked in to the middle of a gang showdown or in front of a deer a hunter was about to take down, but here I am hearing about random, violent attacks like that one more and more often. I'm starting to get really paranoid. I'm afraid to go out in to our laundry room which is right outside the back door at night, even though MOTH has just installed a flood light for me. Every bump in the dark has me immediately awake and on edge waiting for someone to break in and hurt us, especially since for awhile we were having problems with people stealing stuff out of our laundry room or I'd go out there and notice something random was out of order or that the toilet in there had been used. So creepy to think someone was out there walking around our house while we were asleep!

My fears (however unfounded they may be) coupled with the stress I am feeling from work and my general blues from not seeing my sister in over a year and my parents in nearly a year have caused me to start compulsively picking at my arms in an attempt to comfort and soothe myself, something I haven't done to this degree since I was about 14 years old. My arms have multiple gaping, and in some cases, infected holes on them. I know they look awful and I know I should stop, but I haven't been able to. I've finally decided to cover the spots with bandaids and wear long sleeves so I can't get at them through the day. I still find myself unable to stop picking tiny little bumps I think I see on my shoulders before bed, though, but at least my arms are starting to heal. MOTH was getting really, really worried about me and honestly, I was starting to get worried about me, too.

I think I just need a breather. I need to get out of Aus for awhile. I need to see my family. I need to get away from customers telling me I'm incompetent or a f*ing asshole because they don't like the privacy laws I have to follow in dealing with their or their husband's or their grandma's accounts. I need to get a solid month's worth of quality sleep in a place where I can fall in to a deep sleep comfortably. I need to just get away with MOTH Dude and have some fun, rather than be like roomies who see each other at the end of a long day for an hour before passing out, which is how I feel our weeks are going right now.

I'm not sure what the solution will be once I get back here, but, for my sanity's sake, there may need to be some changes put in to place. Every day I wish the solution could be moving back to California, but that is not an option at this point so I'll just need to do a better job of sucking it up.

I also know this post has me coming off timid and weak and probably a smidge (or more?) crazy, but I'm exhausted and beat down to my core and beyond caring right now.

Four weeks from tomorrow I will be in Kauai and as I stated as my Facebook status the other day: "Hoping the next month will fly by and I'll magically wake up in a jacuzzi in Kauai with a mai tai in hand, hanging with my parents and Moth Dude."

Here's hoping for nicer, saner things to blog about soon...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Because the Positive will Always Overcome the Negative

Although my last post was fairly negative, I generally try to write about things from a positive perspective. I may talk about something negative if it has been affecting me for some time, but if MOTH Dude and I get in to a little fight or if someone at work or a friend says something that hurts my feelings, I don't come on here and lash out at them right away. I know it is a momentary bump in the road in our relationship/friendships. Don't get me wrong, there have been times I've wanted to be immature and air some dirty laundry on here, but once it's on here anyone can read it and even though I give psuedonym's to everyone, if you know me, it is easy to figure out who everyone is.

The benefit of technology is that it allows people to have a voice and to share that voice with a wider audience than was ever available before. The downside to technology is that people seem to forget that what you put out in to the internet never really goes away. So if you put something out there, you have to be willing to own it.

I'll get to the specific event I'm speaking about in just a moment here, but when called my Mom on advice on how to proceed on what I had found, she talked about how one of her friend's daughters had broken up with a boy and the boy got so mad he started a website about what a drunk and a slut this girl is. Now, whenever you Google the girl, that stuff comes up about her. How horrible, right? Even if these things were true, does the girl deserve to have that out there for future employers to see?

I, myself, Googled someone the other day who had been really, really mean to me for no reason just to see what was out there about him. With only his first and last name, I found out a ton about him and on the very first search result linked to his name found his cell number and his personal email address. If I was a vindictive person, there's lots of bad stuff I could do with that information alone.

Technology is changing so rapidly and is such a useful tool, but sometimes we get complacent about what we put out there about others and the information that we share to the world about ourselves.

So on to why I'm posting about this today: MOTH Dude and I are heading back to California in a month and a half to visit family and friends and to start looking at wedding venues and meet with potential vendors. I've made a wedding inspiration board and have a good idea based on our style and our budget on what we are after. In conjunction with the wedding planning process, part of my daily internet routine now includes checking out a couple wedding blogs to see if any of the weddings featured are using the colors or details we like in a way we haven't thought of. I also read a forum site where brides ask each other things like where to find the perfect blue shoes or what a reasonable cost in NY is for a wedding cake or what should they do to make their DIY centerpieces nicer. Part of the forum is dedicated to family topics and bridesmaids and honeymoons, as well. What I generally do is go on and look at the first 5 pages of forum topics. These are all the posts from any of the sections (honeymoons, shoes, family, etc) that have been commented on most recently.

This morning, while MOTH was at church and I was waiting on the first load of laundry, I scanned through the first 5 pages as per usual and opened in a new tab any topics that were relevant to me and a few about people venting about problems they are having in planning their weddings. One of the topics I opened was "MOH from Hell". (For those not in the throes of wedding planning, MOH = Maid of Honor.)

I'm reading through the post and the author was frustrated with her Maid of Honor because she thought she was being too controlling, too negative, and wanted to go on a $500 cruise for a bachelorette weekend (which may sound extravagant to some, but I've had a few friends in Orange County do this now, so while it does seem like an expensive party, it's not so far fetched for our area/friend group) but then was worried about how much being a bridesmaid was going to cost her. The friend asked the bride to provide her with a spreadsheet on what she should be expecting to pay to participate in the wedding, which is a contrast to being able to drop $500 for a weekend cruise, but not an unreasonable request. The bride first writes that she is unsure 12 months out from the wedding how much everything will cost, (which I can relate to because I have no idea how much I'll be asking my girls to spend, but want to keep it low for them) but then the bride writes out how much the bridesmaid dress she likes costs, how much for the shoes she wants them to get are, and how much for their hair/makeup and comes up with a figure of $256.

She then rips in to her Maid of Honor saying she thought she'd be the perfect person to pick as she works in the industry. She then starts to talk about the friend's family's financial background and talks about how it shouldn't worry the Maid of Honor as they are well off. Then things get really nasty and the bride starts to talk about really personal things that have happened to the girl, once again, on a public forum where anyone can read it.

Well, as I'm reading the post, I think to myself, "Gee, that sounds like the life of one of my friends as far as school and work goes and she does come from a comfortable family, but I have never heard a negative word from her about anything and when I showed her my wedding idea board she had nothing but nice things to say and made some cool suggestions, too." So I went on Facebook and was going to link to the forum post on my friend's wall for a laugh, but then I thought, "Nah, I'll private message her."

So I'm writing this note: Hey Hottie, How's life? You're not a Maid of Honor for anyone are you? There is a post on this website (link to website) about some girl, but I don't think anyone could ever write something like that about you. Anyway, there is someone else in your city, living your life, and they also went to your same college...Better find out who your competition is! ;)

But before I hit send, I get a funny feeling and think I should check out the bride's profile to see if there was any link between her and my same age or high school or neighborhood. I click on her Bio page and there is a description and picture of each of her bridesmaids and lo and behold, my friend is at the top under Maid of Honor. It doesn't give her full name, thank god, just her first name but there she is in picture form for everyone to see who exactly the bride has been talking about.

I didn't know what to do so I called my Mom. I gave her a general run down of what I had found and my Mom said that this was the trouble with technology and that I should just sit on it. And I said, "Really? Don't do anything? Let me just read you exactly what was written." So I did and then said again how my friend's picture was easily linked to the post. Mom thought it was pretty awful and suggested that I wait to see if the bride posts anything later because the last thing the bride wrote was how she was going out with the Maid of Honor and another bridemaid tonight, to see if maybe she and my friend get things worked out, and if not, to contact my friend tomorrow to let her know this information is out there on the internet about her.

Whether what the bride wrote about the friend is true or untrue (I really don't know), I don't think she had the right to post those things about my friend, when there is a picture that everyone can see of her on the same site.

So two questions for you:
1) How would you proceed from here? (Would you only let my friend know if they bride continued to post negative stuff about her? Or should she know what is already out there about her?)
2)Would you want to know someone had written stuff about you like that online or since it won't come up in a Google search of your name, would you rather be left in the dark?

Ok, how about a third:
Have you ever found something written online about you, bad or good, that you didn't know existed? How did it make you feel? What did you do?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Riverside, Mother F....

Where I grew up, just about the worst place in the world a person could say they were from was Riverside. The only thing as bad as being from Riverside, was being from Fallbrook, and that was just San Diego's version of Riverside.

Riverside was everything us kids from near the coast thought was wrong with the world (Have you seen the SNL skits where Gov. David Patterson always talks about "New Jersey!"? It's like that): they drove lifted trucks with big, shiny rims. They went to "The River" (aka Lake Havasu) on Spring Break to get drunk. Their chicks wore thong bikinis and had long, fake nails. They hung out in the desert and dirt biked. My friends and I were more about driving whatever our parents let us, going to our local beach for Spring Break, wearing bathing suits that were at least semi-functional while we surfed, and getting a manicure or pedicure a few times a year for school dances.

Typical person you'd see walking around Riverside or Fallbrook

We hated when people from Riverside (aka the 909) decided to come to the beach. You could always tell who they were because they had a Famous Stars and Straps hat on sideways or Famous boardshorts and sometimes they wore socks and sandals. They'd also bring a surfboard or bodyboard that someone in their extended, redneck family had and try and go for a surf. I'm not in to localism or anything (surfer mentality of- this is my home break, no one else can catch a wave here unless I know them and say they can), but I am all for respecting the rules of surfing, such as not snaking (stealing) a wave from someone who is already on it. Not being a part of the culture, most of these guys didn't seem to get the rules so we mostly had this mentality (though we didn't vocalize it-well, at least not to them):

So, how come I'm talking about a group of lame people from an area I haven't lived in for 6 years (as of today, it's my moving to Australia anniversary and also the anniversary of MOTH Dude and I meeting! This time 6 years ago I was pounding shots with Bun, hoping to get up the nerve to meet him! eeeeeee!)? Well, see, this is how my train of thought has gone...Today, I had to listen to a recording of one of my calls in the call centre with my manager and we talked about what a direct person I am and that I have a certain way with words (and then she suggested, really nicely, I promise, no sarcasm) that maybe this wasn't the right line of work for me (anyway, a story for another day perhaps? and are all of these asides in parenthesis starting to make you mad? sorry!). So then I got to thinking about a certain incident that went down at one of my sister's water polo tournaments during a game against none other than the University of Riverside. So then I got to thinking about Riverside, in general, and thus, this rambling post.

So the incident at the Water Polo Tournament...

I'm sitting in the stands with my Mom at one of my sister's many tournaments; I often went to Nae's games throughout high school and then as often as I could when she became a Banana Slug for UC Santa Cruz. The game between UCSC and UCR is on in the water and the Riverside girls are playing really, really roughly. They're winning, but they are playing really dirty and you can see the Santa Cruz girls getting dunked and punched and overpowered by these beasts from (have I mentioned this yet?) Riverside. There are people behind me who are UCR supporters and they are starting to talk crap about UCSC and I'm listening and listening and listening and finally I turn to my Mom and say as loudly as possible, without actually yelling it at her, that, "At least the one thing the UCSC team has going for them is that they don't have to live in a hole of a place like Riverside. Isn't it awesome that we don't have to visit Nae in a place as crappy as Riverside? God, Riverside is shit!" And my Mom is looking at me at first like, "Why are you saying this to me right now?" and then as the Riverside supporters start commenting back she gives me the death stare that says, "Please kid, shut your mouth before we get rolled by this riff raff from Riverside" (well maybe it was more just the "Please, shut your mouth" part. My memory is a little fuzzy,but I'm sure my Mom hates Riverside, too. Right, Mom?). I ended up getting the UCR supporters so riled up that my Mom made us get up and walk to the other side of the pool during the game so that the war of words would not turn in to a full on brawl. In the end, I think UCSC ended up getting their asses handed to them by UCR but I know Nae appreciated that I had stuck up for her and the girls and that I had put those Riverside people back in their places.

And I'm assuming after reading this, you'll all hate me (unless you're from Orange County) and think of me as the entitled and spoiled brat from the OC and I guess, in a way, you'd be right. But let's bring this back full circle and I'll finish by saying that part of the reason for staying in Australia 6 years rather than the 4 months I had planned to, other than MOTH Dude, is that coming here was a reality check. I have friends here now that dirt bike and think lifted trucks are rad (though none of their chicks wear thong bikinis, thank God) and would have fun at "The River" and that doesn't make them bad or wrong or whitetrash. They're just different. So I went away a little princess from the OC and I think I've hopefully matured in to a (not so) young lady who is more accepting of others.

Oh man, did I take that full circle stuff too far? Are you throwing up in your mouth a little bit after those last few cheesy sentiments? Well, I'll just leave you with this then: I still think, 6 years on, "Thank God I don't live in a hell hole like Riverside!"

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Just Wanna Be Alone with Your Smile...Because When I'm with You, There's Nothing I Wouldn't Do

One year ago today below the Bay Bridge and right next to the Bow and Arrow sculpture on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, MOTH Dude asked me to marry him. It's still pretty surreal to think that we've, at least partially, entered in to this commitment to try and make this thing we've got going work for the rest of our lives! I think it bodes well for our future that we've made it through the first year without killing each other, right?

So what does a couple do to celebrate the anniversary of such a special day? Well, if you're us, you drive an hour and a half to IKEA to browse, buy some shit you don't really need, eat some meatballs, and escape the heat by being in their free air romantical!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Go Your Own Way, I'll Be With You. Make Mistakes and I'll Forgive You. Home Is Waiting Here For You When You Return

Six years ago, I set out to do a study abroad program for 4 months in Australia and I've never (permanently) left. Next week, my little sister sets out on her own journey, this time to South Africa with an open ended time line...might be two years, might be three. I am proud of her for living her dream, but afraid of what she might encounter. I'm fine with her being up close and personal with huge Great White Sharks, that doesn't worry me, it's the people that do. She has been mugged once already, I hope it's not a re-occurring experience for her there.

Because she doesn't need a lecture from her big sister and because I am trying not to be sad that she is leaving, rather than send her a big, smoochie boochie letter, I got her the sweatshirt pictured above. I hope she likes it and wears it all the time and thinks about me.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Well How Do You Do, I'm the Language Police

I know that I use parenthesis and run on sentences far too often so I'm probably not in the best position to judge other's writing, grammar, punctuation, or pronunciation, but Come On! You guys are killing me! I've heard two different people at work say "pacifically" or "pacifics"....they aren't talking about someone doing something calmly and they aren't talking about two parts of the Pacific Ocean; what they are trying to say is Specifically and Specifics. Whenever I hear it, my hackles rise and I have to bite my tongue to stop myself from correcting them. The worse part is, they won't say it once. They will get on a role and use the word/s in their conversation in every other sentence. That's how I've been able to ascertain I didn't just mishear the word to begin with. They really like to remind me/the customer that they are using the word incorrectly!

Alright, take out your pens and proofread my posting now. Hahaha, oh man, you all must hate me at this point-no new entries to read for nearly a month and then I come on with a quick rant about pronunciation.

My apologies!

I guess I could leave you with a quick run down of what has been going on with me since my houseboat trip:

-My Christmas was not bad. We had a busy day going to different family members' houses and baking, but it didn't feel like Christmas so Nae texted me at 4:15 on real Christmas morning and I got to watch on the webcam as everyone opened their presents back home. My family sent us two different packages filled with some basic necessities we were running low on like Mexican food stuff and underwear (hahaha, we are spoiled! MOTH only wears Old Navy ones now and I only wear American Eagle...tmi??)

-We went nuts at the Boxing Day sale, but with our engagement present gift cards, we ended up getting a lot of stuff without being out of pocket (except for the bed and dryer we bought!)

-I got told my last week of annual leave got rejected so it's kind of thrown a spanner in the works for our trip to CA to wedding plan and visit family and friends, but I'm working on some solutions.

-Nae is leaving at the end of the month for her 2 year trip to South Africa to study sharks and I won't get to see her before she goes...pretty devastated! She has made up for it a little by sending us an 18 month calendar that is all about her that is pretty hilarious though.

-I got tentatively diagnosed with not full blown Celiac Disease but a "sensitivity" to gluten that the doctor thinks is causing all my stomach problems and headaches so I've started a gluten free diet (as of Tuesday) to see if a month of being gluten free cures me.

-We spent New Years with the majority of our friends at a pretty town called Forster about 3 hours north of where we live. We fished, we swam off of sand bars, MOTH Dude caught and then lost a fish, we tooled around on the boat, we watched fireworks, we walked...good times and very, very strange to be sweating on New Year's Eve!

-We've decided to start our trip back to the States with a stop over to Kauai with my parents (MOTH's can't make it due to MOTH Dad needing some intense shoulder surgery that he is hoping will be scheduled finally in April) and I just booked the flights from Kauai to Oakland tonight!