Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fringe

Took a break from the studying and went out in Adelaide tonight! Wore heels and a dress, took the bus, went to see a comedy show. Ordered two beers each and hoped for the best.
Surprise surprise! Tommy Little, not just a pretty face! It was a good time, and we stopped by for $4 pizzas again on the way home, hooray for walking home! I had to take the heels off at a certain point and went barefoot, braving wild locusts and broken glass... In fact, the most horrible thing ever was sitting on the couch eating pizza and feeling some random crawling feelings, and ignoring it as one does, but then it really turned out to be a locust crawling on me...

Anyways, the best part about today was the BIKE! I went all the way to Para Hills (which was quite easy to get to, thanks to the train, which allows BIKES! onboard.) It was $50, including helmet, which I think was a very good deal. Almost new, very clean, just needed a bit of adjustment and a wipe with a dust rag. I'm so excited to bike to school on Monday.

The Fringe is a festival which brings a multitude of performing and visual artists to Adelaide, spicing up this quiet college/retirement town. It was nice to be out and about and walking around. I've only seen this one show so far, maybe tomorrow I'll make it out to the Garden of Unearthly Delights- that's a section of a park they've cordoned off and put up stages and ferris wheels and whatnot... There's also an outdoor stage set up nearby, with rather loud and enthusiastic amateur bands having a good old time. The show we saw was held in a large old house that I think had been abandoned in the middle of a deconstruction when Fringe producers saw the potential and put in a bid for a venue, but then ran out of incentive, so the place is rickety and dark, rife with locusts and no soundproofing... But then, such is the Fringe, I suppose!

Friday, February 25, 2011

L'Occitane

I splurged yesterday and bought myself a little hand lotion/lip balm/body wash set. I love that store! Ooooh the luxury!
It's always such a justification to buy anything from there, especially now that I'm a student again...
Scrimping and saving, it's such an ingrained notion. Even when I was working, I would constantly quiz myself on how I could get by on less, make do without, or stretch a dime. I'm not really sure where it came from, as I wasn't deprived as a child, (I'm sure I felt deprived since my mom never gave in to my whining and crying at Toys R Us, but in reality, our basic needs were always met.)
It's almost like a kind of game, and you "win" when you come out with more money in your pocket.
Then I was introduced to the pleasures of shopping sprees, and nights out on the town...
A splurge here and there won't break the bank, and is always fun to look back on.
Here though, I'm struggling with another dilemma.
I'm lazily contemplating staying here in Australia for a year and completing the Master's program. It sounds great, right? When I finish, I'll have a Masters in Manual Therapy. I'll have completed the entire program, including the Sports Physiotherapy and rest of the pain science module. I'll get to do more work on research (mixed feelings on that!), and learn how to treat athletes on the field.
However, the only thing I would really look forward to would be the pain stuff. Sports physio would be second, but I don't plan on really getting into sports physio in the future- although of course, you never know. And getting to work in the clinics under supervision, that would be really valuable as well.
But the big deal is the price tag. Not only the price of completing the program here, but the student loans I racked up with my doctoral degree in the states, which, currently languishing in Sallie Mae's deferral lounge, are earnestly acccumulating interest every month. I wanted to keep paying the interest, but if I stay another 6 months I'd have to stop paying, and I'd just watch those loans grow, fattening up like Thanksgiving turkey. And I'd have to take out more loans...
They say your loan payments shouldn't be more than 10 or 15% of your expected monthly income. At this rate I'd need to be earning a little (a lot! cough cough) more than I am now. I don't know how much I can expect my salary to increase based on this degree. It's retirement, health insurance and where I'm going to live when I'm old and grey that I'm really worried about. (Sometimes I worry a bit too much as well...)
I know, I can't let money run my life. But really, if you know me, I usually don't. I'll do it if I really want to do it. I guess I don't really want to do it.
Sorry if this has been kind of a boring post, but I've been getting asked this question a lot these days, mostly by my classmates who are staying the whole year. I feel fully justified in my decision not to, but it helps to write it out.
I expect to have other opportunities for learning in the future, and I don't want to compromise my retirement or my possible enjoyment of other fun stuff (like time off and vacations!) in the future. Sigh... Decisions decisions.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pain and the neuromatrix

Wow, that's a cool title, isn't it?

It just sounds so obscure and clever and potentially interesting. Just like this class I'm taking!

It just started this week, and it's called called Anatomy and Pain Science. (Another potentially deceptive title.) It's one class, but it's really like two. I don't get how either relates to the other. Each have separate teachers, separate assistant teachers, completely different examinations and assignments.

But what the hey, I love them both!

One of them entails looking at bones and cadavers, woo hoo!
And the other is about pain. The greatest part is that our teacher, David Butler, has mastered the art of overcoming the (some might say chronic) pain of sitting in a class and learning about pain. I don't know how he's done it, but the whole class was riveted. I'm pretty sure they were at least, and everyone who I talked to about it also really liked it. It's a shame there are only 3 face to face lectures and the rest online. See??? I'm actually feeling sad that I won't be sitting in class MORE! But seriously folks, I'm really hoping and expecting to learn a lot here. I'll tell you all about the neuromatrix, as soon as I do the reading.
And then there was the anatomy lab, donning protective gear and braving the formaldehyde, today we got to revisit the Brachial Plexus, the Subclavian Artery, and the Internal Jugular Vein! So cool to see all this now, after working on patients for a couple of years, to go back and see again what it all looks like under there. Pity we don't get a whole body to look at, but you take what you can get. We stimulated all kinds of interesting discussion in there, such as, how much lateral flexion is there at the occipital-atlantic joint? IS there any lateral flexion at that joint at all? and in what direction of movement would it be coupled with? (if there were any lateral flexion at that joint...) and so on...

And after all that, capoeira class, dance class, and delicious homemade dinner of lentils with cabbage and some nice sausage. Yum!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

$4 pizzas and Zumba

So I tried Zumba for the first time. I'm trying anything these days, anything to get me moving. It was a bunch of random salsa/cumbia moves, interspersed with random other ethnic dances, like Bollywood and bellydance. It was like ethnic dance lite, aerobics style. It was fun though, good to move around after 9 hours of class. It really made me miss LA- Achinta's Bollywood class on Wednesday nights, and Carlos from the bay area teaching samba and Afro-Brazilian... I was kind of sad leaving class, I have to admit. There's nothing like the real thing, and I have been spoiled for dance in my lifetime.

Walking home from the dance class took me through part of the Adelaide Botanical gardens. They are so beautiful, I'm going to explore them soon. There were some birds in the trees, making noises exactly like you'd expect to hear from a jungle movie soundtrack, or in Disneyland on the Jungle Cruise ride. Loved it!

Met up with Phil on the way home, he had come into town to see a comedy show. There's a big event going on for a few weeks called the Fringe. There's all kinds of performing and visual arts throughout town right now. Walking home we stopped to check out a rockabilly band, but they needed a little more practice. Maybe this weekend I'll try to find a really good show.

Home is about 2 km from school, so it's really not a bad walk. Saves on bus tickets too. And helps burn off the calories from the $4 pizza we got for dinner because we were too tired and too late to even think of making dinner. Yeah, not the most healthy or tasty of meals I've had in Aus. I do really get a kick out of how close everything is though, and how we can walk home from town.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Steak burger

So, Australia is a fun place to be. It's in the southern hemisphere, where winter is summer, and summer is winter, except for this year, when it's supposed to be summer but it's windy, wet and cold when it's supposed to be in the 90's, hot and dry. It did get pretty stifling for a few days, but now it's looking like fall is going to come early this year.

What else, oh yeah, the water is supposed to go down the toilet in the other direction. Well, honestly I never really paid that much attention in the states, so I wouldn't even know the difference. Not to mention the toilet just kind of explodes water from one end to the other here, so I don't really see any spiraling anyways.

So, in talking about differences, here's a new one! (other than the typical ones like different accents and driving on the wrong side of the street- oh yeah, and teachers cussing during lecture! haha but this is a family blog.)

So today I ordered the happy hour special, a burger and a pint for $15. The guy was like, do you want a chicken burger or a steak burger? Um, a steak burger? How about a ham-burger? Or would that end up being pork? Whatever, I was starving. I went with steak. And boy was it delicious. But it wasn't a burger at all- I was expecting some type of ground meat. It was sliced up steak, complete with bacon! Well, I wasn't going to complain, it was just what I needed, and the pint wasn't so bad either. Interesting though, I guess it might have been called some kind of hoagie or steak sandwich, but here I am splitting hairs. It was food, and it was good, and I'll definitely go back there!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Summer daze

It's been a bit of an adventure, moving in. A lot of time spent buying all the stuff it turned out we needed, like bed sheets and bowls, coffee mugs and water glasses. Moving in stuff. A sleeping bag, a mobile phone, forks and knives. Wine, gotta try that South Australian wine!
Lying here in sweltering heat, the room is a mess. Got Raul Campos bumping on the netbook speakers.
Making new friends.
Australia, USA, India, Taiwan, Singapore, Austria, Spain, Germany, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia.
I walk 15 minutes to the grocery market, it's called "Foodland" and it's right out of the Simpsons cartoon. Something about the logo...
There's a dollar store across the street, and a cash converters (like a pawn shop). There's a bunch of bikes for sale in front. A Greek bakery, a Greek church. We almost rented from a sweet old Greek couple, but it was a little too far...
There's a pizza place nearby, with a stone oven, and an Indian place next to that.
The downtown area is only a 10 minute bus ride and you could walk there if you really wanted.
There's a capoeira studio I'm going to check out, and I'm going to join the school fitness center, gotta stay sane :-}
It's a little pocket of an alternate life here, building new memories. I'm going to look back on this time with nostalgia! I can't wait!
But the present moment is calling me. I'm thinking about elbow articles I am going to finish tonight, and the shoulder lecture on palpation I am going to review... (It's important to think positively and speak affirmatively about the things you know you are going to do.)
And I'm also thinking, damn it's hot! I like living in the weather, as in, without the air conditioner... it makes me feel alive. But the effect is somnolent... I'd rather lie here like a slug instead of revving up the brain again, (in this heat!).
So I wrote this little update as a warmup.
I promise to start posting a photo a day, inspired by my friend Cookie...
Here, I'll write the captions.

Birds on a wire.

The black and white warbling synthesizer bird. What is this bird? It sounds unreal.

Me at school.

Ok, that's it for now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Superbowl Monday

(Written while watching the Superbowl on Monday morning at the hostel-the internet connection was really bad, so I'm only posting it now, a couple of days later.)

So you take the current time in Adelaide, add 5 and a half, then subtract 24... That's how I figure out the time in LA. Right now it's 6pm in LA on Sunday night, and 12:30pm Monday for us here! So we're watching the Superbowl at the hostel- unfortunately they've not included the commercials :-( Come on Steelers!

So yesterday was fun, we borrowed bikes from the hostel and used them as our primary vehicle to visit places for rent. Luckily Adelaide is a small town, and daylight lasts until 8pm, because we cycled around the entire town and were out all day. I think there's no better way to get to know a city than to house-hunt in it. We even had to take the train at one point.

It was like Goldielocks- the first place was horrible, the second place was really nice, and the third place was just right. Then we cycled around to a couple of other places just for kicks and comparison. So all in all, albeit stressful due to the uncertainty of not knowing the street names or suburb names, it didn't go too badly. Weather was great and the city is very bike friendly.

The weirdest part was an apt that seemed to good to be true. We got an email back from an ad we posted. The price was unbelievable for a fully furnished 2 bedroom apt, utilities included and even maid service. The pictures looked dreamy. But upon inquiry, the owner reveals that he is overseas, in London, so we won't meet him, and we wouldn't be able to inspect the place before paying the $$$. Hmmm, suspicious, no? But the place looked so dreamy! And so close to campus, right on the main drag. We tried phoning him and after a couple of seconds "the phone went dead." He wanted a $1000 deposit + 2 weeks rent before we could even get the keys to enter the place. No building manager to let us check it out ahead of time. And he didn't seem to need any personal details from us, as in, are we students, professionals, or unemployed party people? Too good to be true. Then we got the bright idea to look up apartment rental scams online and realized we were almost fooled. OMG what a scam!

Anyways, we're going to stay with Barry, a mechanical engineer from Malaysia who came here to study a few years ago and stayed. His house is clean and basic, with all the amenities, and close enough to campus, supermarket and bank. Plus he seemed like a cool guy. So we're settled, and I start school Wednesday. It's gonna be nice to have a couple of days to relax before gettin' back to the grind.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A day in the life...

The exchange rate here is pretty horrible. Prices are high as if value was low, but instead, I'm losing money when I trade in my USD! :-(
Food is outrageously expensive, but on the upside, I will probably eat healthier by preparing more food at home.
We made a beef ravioli with spinach and onions in tomato sauce, yum. The knives at the hostel are dull, like the knife Aron Ralston used to cut his arm off in that awful movie...
I went to school today to take a look around and felt like I was going back in time. I feel like I haven't seen anybody my age anywhere! Except some parents walking their kids to school this morning. I can't wait to see what this incoming class of graduate physiotherapy students looks like.
We walked around the Rundle Mall yesterday, it's a shopping street like 3rd Promenade but missing all the people... Phil reminded me that unlike the rest of the world, Australia is relatively unpopulated. Maybe it's more active on a weekend night?
There's a great Chinatown though, with Asian markets and boba tea shops, and yesterday there were Chinese dragon dancers to celebrate Chinese New Year!
That's all so far, it's a pretty quiet town. There is a square in the center of town with wide open spaces, statues and flags waving. It reminds me of Brasilia, capital of Brasil. It's 8 o'clock at night the sun is still blazing, and it's 31 degrees celcius out there...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Year of the Rabbit!

Hey everybody!
It's been almost a year since I last posted, please excuse the delay. After recovery from the ankle incident I started overworking myself to pay for this next adventure...

Australia for six months! Then onward, to SE Asia and who knows where else.
So, as some of you may know, the leaving was difficult. It was a wrenching feeling- when you've successfully rooted yourself in a place, and you feel connected by an invisible web of love and friendship to these people you have made an effort to see in person on a regular basis, to do favors for and be there for.

But now it's a different trip...

A 25 hour journey through time and space and I've tumbled out, refreshed and rested, on the other side of the world!

We are currently in a hostel in Adelaide, South Australia. The next step is finding housing, and it's a beautiful sunny summer Friday!