Valentine's Day in Australia is remarkably low-key -- everyone pretty much mostly ignored it, in favor of the super major interesting holiday coming up, Easter. We're talking about Easter egg hunts and all the grocery stores have fabulous Easter candy displays with six thousand things that are very bad for you, like chocolate-covered Turkish Delight eggs from Cadbury's and...well, mostly just stuff like that.
In the meantime, I have been trying to cut back on eating so much sugar again, which is difficult because it seems like everyone is surviving entirely on carbohydrates and sugar syrup. I've never seen a nation that doesn't drink diet soda quite so much. Everyone puts loads of butter on pretty much every bread product known to mankind, including their hamburger rolls before they put hamburgers in them, and piles of crackers with Vegemite on them are considered a nutritious meal for school students. There's this thing called "cordial", which is basically sugar syrup, and is pronounced "cord-ee-all", for those of you who might be convinced it's pronounced "corjal", as I pronounced it until I was corrected by virtually everyone...cordial is brightly colored sugar syrup that you mix with water and drink. It doesn't even pretend to have health in it.
last night I spent about twenty minutes amusing some kids by repeating words they asked me to say in my American accent. "Darcy," for example. And "marshmallow" had them in hysterics for several minutes. Then they asked me if I would swear for them, and I pointed out that cussing is funny no matter what accent you have, with which they concurred. Two points for me!
I've been really remarkably busy, a state of affairs I'm actually pleased with, although I'll have to start turning down social engagements when school starts. Note to self: just because you CAN say yes, doesn't mean you SHOULD say yes. I've been speaking at Rotary clubs pretty much every Monday and Wednesday since I got here, and I'm starting to feel a little bit dazed...they're all very nice, but meeting so many new people is moderately confusing. After so long in LA, where people said they wanted to hang out and never did, it's a bit of a shock to see the cascading effect when people say they want to see you and they actually really DO want to see you, so you end up with ninety-two invites. I never knew I was so popular. I'm not sure I *am* popular, or if it's mostly just novelty.
I've also started taking aerialist classes, so I spend an hour and a half every Wednesday hanging upside down, very badly, from strips of silk or a trapeze. I think it's really beautiful and I love the idea of it, but I really could use more practice, and short of hopping around on the bus poles, I'm stuck with once-a-week practicing, which as everyone knows, does not make you an expert. Whatever is the opposite of expert, that is what it makes you. Probably a quadriplegic, given that if I am not an expert, I slip off the silks and fall on my head.
I have been spending a lot of time on the beach, listening to waves and walking around and watching surfers. I met Natasha, a couchsurfer looking for a fun partner, and we drove to Margaret River on Friday, which was a seven hour round trip. It was worth every minute of wonderful conversation, delicious vegetarian food consumed while staring out over the ocean and watching surfers get smashed on rocks.
Also Ken got me a gift certificate to dive in the shark tank at the WA aquarium, which is the best present I think anyone has gotten me for a very long time. And I learned how to say bad words in some Aboriginal language, but I don't know which ones. And then the kids laughed at me some more.