There’s no getting around it; my laptop is dying. I’ll be working along, minding my own business, and all of a sudden the screen will go black and my work will disappear behind a dark, impenetrable screen. Every tenth time or so I’ll get the Blue Screen of Death. It’s rather tiresome and it’s happening all too often, but it’s better than the alternative. No laptop at all.
If I had an employer I’d ask them to kindly replace it. There has always been an employer; a staff member savvy in IT who can pump another year of life out of the device, or be the one to give the official word that you’ve earned a replacement. You’ve killed the sucker. Continue reading →
The flight from Bangkok to Frankfurt was half-full, and I had three seats to myself, room to stretch out, in theory. Yet even when the seats are empty, they are so rigid that it’s hard to relax and succumb to sleep.
In the row ahead of me was an older German couple. They both had white hair, and though I couldn’t hear most of their words, I could hear them each say “Bitte?” frequently. They sat with an open seat between them, her by the window, him in the aisle seat, and with the loud noise of the engine they could barely hear each other and had to keep repeating their words. I love the word bitte for its many uses—“please,” “you’re welcome,” and the way they were using it, more like “Pardon me?” or “Come again?” They sounded kind and respectful when they said it; they never devolved into an annoyed “Was?!” Continue reading →
The Great Ocean Road along the southern coast of Australia. Photo courtesy of Melbourne.visitorsbureau.com.au
We set out for the coast later than planned. Deb and I arrived at the car rental place in downtown Melbourne at 10 a.m., as requested, but the line for the second-floor office went all the way down the stairs to the street. Ned showed up with his backpack and rolled a cigarette and stood outside with me in the strong sun until Deb emerged over a half hour later with the keys to our blue Holden Cruze with New South Wales plates. Continue reading →
We landed within hours of one another at Melbourne Airport, arriving from opposite ends of the earth. My sister was returning from Denver, her other home, having been called back to handle a work crisis only she could solve. She flew west through California, crossed the Pacific, the equator, and the international dateline to return to her apartment.
Meanwhile I flew east, stopping in Bangkok, one 10-hour flight after another, heading east and then south to join her in the steamy mid-summer of Melbourne.
We were each exhausted in different ways, droopy eyes blinking in the blinding sun. She trundled in to work that first Friday, pushing past lack of sleep to greet her colleagues, bring them news of the ailing project back home.
“I’ve left some bags of clothes I’m going to donate,” she said before she left. “Feel free to take anything you want.” Continue reading →
A view of Melbourne from the south shore of the Yarra River.
Rowers are a social breed; they’re happy to row but most are even happier to grab a coffee afterwards, or sit in the fading light and enjoy a beer, or plan a weekend outing far from the boathouse. Friendships form quickly; people who never would have looked twice at one another on the street now have a shared, private experience. It may be the early light of a glorious sunrise as you drift along the shore, or a game of cat and mouse with a river barge, or a boatloading that throws you together rigging boats for a spell. Rowing abounds with casual interactions that reinforce your familiarity until one day you wake up and realize they’re your friends, and you don’t know quite when it happened, but it has. Continue reading →
It’s official; we’re halfway through our time in Berlin. M has studied the calendar backwards and forwards and determined that this week is it; from here on out we’re on the other side.
To celebrate I’m traveling halfway around the world, literally—I landed in Melbourne last night. The rest of my family will be in the UK soon enough as well, though the four of them will be staying with friends south of London, while I’ve gone a wee bit farther than that. Continue reading →