2018, America, Gay, Gayblog

6 months later…

It’s been six months since we moved here to the US, and this past week I’ve felt really up and down. I guess as we’ve reached that six month mark I can;t help but reflect, and as humans we tend to frame our lives through measurements of time.

I’ve felt up as the weather is becoming great; the sky is clearer, the sun is out and little by little there seems to be a bit of warmth in the air. Not much as yes, this is San Francisco, and as I continually get educated by the locals, there is no Summer here. Again and again I seem to be told this.

However, Spring slowly seems to be encroaching upon us, little feelers slowly creep in. A flower blooms in the park, a leaf grows on a tree outside our flat in the drab back alley.

The seasons are changing, and its a good thing to see. We came to San Francisco right in the middle of a blustery and grey Winter. It really did seem to colour our time here initially. I can see that in hindsight. We can learn so much from looking back, and looking back to our first couple months here, I see that we really did struggle.

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like, had we moved here at this time of the year, or perhaps in the middle of Summer, when everything is at its heightened best, and more things are happening. Perhaps we would’ve dealt with the change of moving countries much better than we did, perhaps not. All I know is that we moved at a particularly tough time, and now that the seasons are changing, my mood is perceptibly far loftier.

On the other side of things, I’ve felt a bit down as I still feel a bit purposeless here, having been waiting for my EAD which is a document which allows me to work here in the US to come through which took months.

However, that brings me to another stumbling block: I’m unsure of what I should do here, what job I should go after, and what it’ll be like to work here. I’ve now been out of work for almost six months so its going to be tough to readjust. I’m genuinely quite anxious about this. But, I will deal with it when I get to this.

The other big thing is I’ve also started as a volunteer extra in the opera. Which is fucking mental to be honest. I never thought I would be an on-stage extra in a professional production. I’m literally acting and running and even tumbling around on stage with professional opera singers, decked out in costumes. Crazy. As is the giant blue bruise featured on my right butt cheek from all the tumbling.

Doing something like going to an audition on a whim and getting it, and being a part of an opera is something so unlike me to do. I have never acted in my life. I’ve really tried my best to say yes more the last few months. I do this in order to grow and to experience as much in this town as I can. I’ve tried my hardest to get out and experience more and not hole myself in my flat too much. Although I still have days where I do just that.

I’m really glad I took a chance and applied to audition for the opera. It is something so unlike me that the Sydney version of me would never have done. I’m happy I didn’t just pike out and not turn up like the voice in my head was telling me to do on the day of the audition.

And that’s the thing really. This whole endeavor of moving here to the US has taught me that I need to consciously rally against that negative persona that sometimes comes to the fore in my mind. I have to willingly and purposefully fight against it, tell it to quiet down, and do the opposite of what it says. Otherwise I won’t get to do anything fun, and I’ll just be forever more in my comfort zone and miss out on so much.

The last six months have been so full of ups and downs. I’ve missed my home and family and loved ones; I’ve grappled with coming to a new country and city as well as the tasks of building a new home, a new life here.

Looking back, I start to see that I’ve done a great job of it. It has been a monumental task, but I can truly say I’ve made the most of it.

I sometimes feel like it’s almost like a strategy game that I’m playing. Like Civilization. I start with a small town, and after a while it grows and expands. Our little home here is like that. It’s a bit small now but it’ll grow month after month.

Our life here is like that. Right now it may be on the smaller side, but I know with each month as we become more established, it’ll grow more and more.

Advertisements
Standard
2018, America, Gay, Gayblog, Life

Decision Making

What’s the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make? How did you make it? Was it the right choice?

 

The biggest decision I’ve ever had to make was to decide whether to go with my partner of 8 years to San Francisco, possibly for an indefinite time, or stay home in Sydney Australia. It’s really been the biggest, monumental and life-changing decision I have ever had to make. We’ve had to make. It was tough. It was draining.

 

It was also exciting and something to look forward.

 

It’s been just about six months since we moved. I still can’t believe that we’ve done this. I still can’t believe that I’m here. That we’ve made this seismic shift, this gigantic earth-shaking change that has indelibly transformed our lives. It’s not been easy. There have been second thoughts, concerns, arguments and fights.

Moving with a partner to another country is a very challenging thing, especially when you move so far from your home. Home for us isn’t a short plane trip away. So far from the familiar, from the known and from what is comfortable. You only have each other for support and guidance, and that can be quite a lot for just two people.

There are times when I miss my family, my home city and friends and logical family too. I’ll see a post on instagram and my heart breaks a little. Blue skies, beaches, Victorian terraces, pubs filled with people and queer parties where everyone looks so happy and bright.

We came to this decision after months and months of unending talks and discussions. Almost a year of back and forward in fact. We went over everything. Every possible outcome, scenario, issue and challenge. Pros and cons. At one point the entire thing was cancelled out as we thought it wasn’t going to happen.

We spoke and spoke and disassembled, had little tussles about it, and tried to be as honest to each other as we could. Even once it was all confirmed, we had months and months to go till we moved, as the move date kept getting pushed back. So yet more time to think and deliberate. Originally we were to move in April. Then May. Then September. And then finally November came around, and our ticket was bought. We had so much to do and take care of.

I remember the printed calendar I made and all the tasks we needed done for each day on little post-its.

No wonder we both felt so frayed and worn once we finally arrived here in SF. And in the middle of winter to add. We really don’t give ourselves enough credit.

 

Yes, at times, we have both questioned what we have done, and the choice we have made. The first few months here especially so. It felt as though we were thrown into a washing machine, spun around, rinsed repeat spun, then thrown out into this new and strange place.

We fought, we got on each others nerves, emotions became frayed as we tried our hardest, our best, to keep ourselves and our lives together. We tried hard to stay upbeat and positive, to get out more and meet people. It wasn’t easy at all. Again, really this move has been the hardest thing I personally have ever done, considerably so as I’m quite the reflective person. It is in my nature to think upon life, choices made and those encountered upon the way.

 

But, do I think this was the right choice we made, to come halfway across the world, and leave all those we love and all that we know?

 

Yes. In a heartbeat.

 

Sometimes I imagine what life would have been like if we stayed in Sydney, and the opportunity to move to America never came up. Life would be sublime. Comfortable. Bucolic. Fun. Always full of laughs and light and sun. That rhymed. I actually didn’t mean for it to.

 

But, nothing would have changed. I know this. I would have stayed in this comfort zone for such a long time. I feel as though my growth would have been stunted, and we would be in static. As much as I miss the place and the loved ones there [really I do], moving to another country and town has been the best thing for me. You need change in life in order to evolve and experience. Sometimes we need to be picked up and shook about.

 

My regret would be if we didn’t do this. The regret would be impossible for me to live with. I would hate myself for not giving it a go. I picture myself in this alternate world where we never moved, and I imagine myself living in San Francisco, and I can feel the envy.

I’m in the right place. I can feel this with every part of me, and I don’t regret our decision for a second.

 

What’s the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make?

Standard
Uncategorized

Ten years ago.

We often look ahead without taking the time to look at how far we’ve come.

Today I thought on what my life was like ten years ago.

 

Ten years ago, in 2008, my life would have looked like this:

 

I would have been about a year into my Photography degree back in Sydney, which I can say I remember fondly. I did have a lot of fun going to the art college I attended, and living the life of an art student.

Relatively carefree, at the peak of my creativity. Living life in a light and harmless manner.

Sometimes, I do miss that carefree aspect of life that many like myself were lucky enough to have had, even for a few short years. I really do wish I had made more out of it and experienced more of life back then, but I refuse to put myself down anymore, as life only gets better with each passing month and year.

I remember the flexibility, the freedom, the time spent working on tasks that felt so very important in my life. I remember the staff there, including the sweet and amiable head of photography, as well as the arrogant teacher whose ideas were terrible and lied about his past experiences [he once claimed to have taken photos of Twiggy and designed an Electric Light Orchestra cover], as well as his almost opposite in the form of the most capable, sweet and genius teacher whose skill in lighting was phenomenal.

How to light something correctly. How to edit something with finesse in photoshop.

The irony is, all of that is pretty much now done away with.

It’s a funny thing, realising you may have wasted years of your life on a discipline that was dying, and now a decade later, really kind of is in its death throes. Instagram really did a number on photography. At times, I do regret having not switched over to graphic design as I know it would have been far more applicable and adaptable for a career. Mistakes are made to be learnt from.

However, the truth is, I write this in another country and in a relationship with a guy who would change my life just a year later.

Had I not attended this art school or even did photography there, the chances are we would never have met, and I wouldn’t be writing this in San Francisco. Most likely I would not be writing this at all.

Ten years ago I would have been right in the midst of agonising depression. I spent years living with this without any help or assistance or outreach, and it would be a very long time indeed until I would work on this part of myself. My moods ran to darkness very easily; I found it difficult to enjoy life. I found it difficult to make lasting friends.

I felt so isolated and alone. This is the aspect of this time in my life I recall vividly. I craved any human contact with anybody, and by this point in life I was almost entirely celibate. I worked weekends at restaurants owned by relatives; a gruelling, thankless and difficult line of work I now refuse to go back to. I rarely had the opportunity to go out as after a shift on a Saturday night I tended to head home from exhaustion. Sometimes, we may have gone to a local pub for a drink perhaps. I think I may have been to a gay bar only a few times at this point.

Besides attending bars and clubs, back then there was really no way to meet people like today with apps and social media. All of that was still in its infancy and only just starting to gain traction. I still had a flip phone Motorola Razr which I absolutely adored and consider the best phone I ever had.

So, meeting people was tough.

I did have a friendship with someone in this year; which in hindsight meant something very different for the both of us. It was a very heightened, almost manic friendship. We hung out a lot and did a lot together. This time was replete with emotion, and confusion, and a lack of awareness and intention that I subsequently learned from. We had a lot of fun, yet this friendship ultimately ended for a number of reasons, and did not end in the most positive manner, which took quite the while for me to work through and process.

But, like everything, we all learn from our past transgressions.

Thinking back to this point in my life, it was rife with aimlessness, a sense of airiness, confusion, insecurities. And a lackadaisical attitude generally towards the future. It’s difficult for me to reflect too much on this time. Yet I can see just how far I have come.

Physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m a far more centred and relaxed person. I am far more confident in myself and my abilities. I am in a great relationship. I have lived and experienced life in as best a way I can and will continue to do so.

 

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Standard
2017, America, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Thoughts, writing

My Writing Process.

My writing process is quite simple. I try to set aside some time, preferable each day, and preferably somewhere light and airy. My work space will typically be quite organised, clutter free and minimal in what needs to be there. The less ‘stuff’, the better.

I find that I write best and most effectively when I have a clean and clutter-free space. To me, this is paramount. My mind works best when everything is organised. I tend to concentrate more, gain inspiration and let those streams of thought enter into the room. I guess I’m a creature of order.

Some prefer a degree of chaos and a ‘organised mess’ as it were, in order to get inspired and to really get those creative juices flowing. To me, a chaotic mess means an unorganised mind, and an inability to analyze or complete tasks.

And that’s my biggest fear, as well as a massive motivator for having such a precise and agreeable workspace. It seems that without this, I can’t get a thing done.

Having only just recently moved countries, all the way to San Francisco from Sydney, finding a place to sit, work and process has proved to be challenging. For the last 6 weeks we were staying in a temporary flat, and to be honest, as lovely a building and place as it was, it felt uninspiring, dull and not amenable to me feeling comfortable or uplifted enough to write. It had an air of being generic. Knowing that its sole purpose as a temporary abode felt disheartening to me.

This space proved its worth as a short-term home, but even so, trying to get off my backside to write was incredibly difficult in this time.

I really did drop the ball. As part of my day, I wanted to write for even at least a half hour. I would bring my husband’s unused laptop downstairs to the luxuriously appointed common lounge, which looked like a ski lodge, replete with fireplace and comfy oversized chairs.

I’d set the laptop up on the communal table, get myself a glass of water, and try my hardest to put words to screen as it were. Yet I found myself more often than not simply staring at a blank screen, somehow unable to get thoughts into the laptop. I was at a roadblock.

And as it stands, in that whole time, I only ever managed to get two posts out.

In some six weeks.

Funnily enough, I ended up using my old back-up of a small Moleskine notebook and started writing thoughts in it every couple of days. It’s proved to be invaluable, having that small innocuous notebook around. I make sure to carry it about wherever I am.

I always remember my old photography teacher would say you must carry a camera everywhere you go in order to consider yourself a true photographer. Well, to be honest, I’m not going to lug an insanely cumbersome [not to mention expensive] piece of equipment about in my semi-sketchy neighbourhood.

Rather, I’m happy to carry about my small and highly portable notebook, which in a way is far more valuable than any camera.

We just finally found and moved into our new place, and have finished unpacking and setting it up. We’ve taken everything from home and brought it here, including my trusty desk and now ancient, ten-year old iMac which I’m using to write this post. Which to its credit, just keeps on truckin’ along.

My desk now resides in our bed room, a far cry from my little alcove back home. Our bedroom is a simple room with large windows that face the sun and let light great big dollops of light into the room. The room itself is simply appointed. Two bedside table flanking our bed, a mirror leaning against the wall and my desk next to that. All I have on my desk besides my computer is a desk lamp, an old camera as a reminder of the past, a hard drive, and a glass of water [on a coaster of course].

I feel some affinity with my favourite author, Haruki Murakami, whom also keeps a quite understated and a simple set-up desk. Everything he needs is there, as well as some decorative items of significance. There are no piles of books or paper, or anything that appears out of its place. I feel as though his desk is therefore a reflection of his manner of writing, which is everything I admire: simple yet effective, minimal and understated yet so subtle and with an intrinsic inspired genius who will make you spellbound in his prose.

I love his writing, as he makes the simple act of cooking a meal for one alone a grand affair.

My workspace, as you can see, is my writing process incarnate. If I’m somewhere attractive, relatively peaceful and homely, I am able to get myself writing and more importantly, posting for the world to see.

If you write, what is your process? Like me, do you need your own space, your own aerie, or do you prefer to be out in the world?

Standard
2017, America, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Giving Thanks

Wednesday last week was the hardest day of my life.

It was a day filled to the brim with emotion. It left me completely exhausted, and it’s taken me this long to bounce back. I’ve had to pull myself back together again, as though different disparate parts of me detached only to have to be searched out and popped back into place, and it’s only now that I’m feeling myself again to write this post.

Wednesday 15th November 2017 was the day that we moved from Sydney, our lifelong home, to our new home here in San Francisco, which still I’m in a bit of shock about. It was a warm and sunny day. I almost wanted it to be overcast and unpleasant, but Sydney being the smartarse it is, really turned it on for our last day. It’s still so strange to think that not much more than a week ago I was walking down King St in Newtown, or going downstairs to the cafe that was under our apartment block. And now I walk down different streets. With different people. Different cars. A different sky above me.

But things change, and I’m finding that it is best to move along with them and to let the waves take you.

Our departure day was no surprise; we knew it was to come for months, and I had been preparing both mentally and logistically for it, in almost a feverish manner. Yet as the day crept closer I found myself become more and more nervous. Anxiety played up and I couldn’t sleep due to the unyielding internal monologue of tasks still to be done and thinking on those I would miss.

Not only were we to be leaving friends, family and loved ones, all people whom we have spent years getting to know and connecting with, and whom we love to bits, but it was the day the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite result was announced. Of course, we didn’t choose for our day of departure to coincide with this. However, everything had been prepared months ago and it was far too late to change dates.

As we stood in Prince Alfred Park surrounded by friends new and old, as well as my sister who also is part of the community, I really was overcome and fraught with frayed emotion.

I felt so much of everything. Excitement that we were not only to finally find out the result, but hope and fervent optimism for the future. I wanted our home to join the 21st century; I wanted dearly and desperately for our country to go back to its former happy, life loving self. It feels as though the last couple years our home has become more of a dark and judgemental place. Those who would have us not be equal seemed on the verge of ascension. Their morals, ethics and hypocrisy has appeared to be the status quo today, as opposed to relegated to the shadows.

I felt love. Love from those around me. I don’t think I’ve ever had quite the same feeling before. Being literally surrounded by those whom care about you and whom you care about was quite a singular and spectacular feeling. I felt so much gratefulness that I have got to know such fantastic people, tinged with a bittersweet sadness at us leaving this group of loving, supportive and unique people.

I felt anger. Anger at what our government had put us through, this indignation of a non-binding postal vote; an archaic motion put forward by the diabolical religious right as a stalling tactic. a postal survey costing us $122 million, when conversely that money could help our long-suffering indigenous communities, or to assist women gain equality, or go towards helping out those less fortunate.

I felt nervous despair should the No side win out, and what this would do to our community.

The rise of the unreasonable and irrational Christian and subsequent epoch of moralising judgement seemed upon us. It felt like a dark looming shadow creeping across the grass and trees of the idyllic park we were in.

Yet, as the announcer finally revealed the results, it was clear to all that love won the day after all.

You can’t stop a tide, and 62% of us decided that YES, love should be for all of us, regardless. Full stop.

As I write this in a new city, in a new country, I’m starting to tear up. Sitting here in this strange place, I still feel so connected and so privileged to know and be a part of such an amazing social circle of friends and family. As well as a wider community that really did show it’s best and pulled together during this whole ordeal. I still feel as though I am there in spirit, and no matter what happens, no matter how many cheeky and colourful Queer murals are defaced, we will prevail.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Another artefact and quirk of this place that I am fast coming to consider my new home. Another, [to my foreigner eyes at least], experience to delve into and enjoy.

The whole point of Thanksgiving is exactly that, giving thanks. Giving thanks for what we have, and taking stock of our lives. Despite my complete cynicism for this kind of thing, I see how it can be a good thing. When it comes my turn to say what I’m thankful for, I’ll say that I’m thankful that love won. That we are turning a corner towards a brighter, loving and caring future where we think of others more than we think ourselves. I’ll say that I’m thankful for my family, both by ties of blood and ties of love and friendship.

I love and will miss you all.

Till the next time I’m back there in Sydney, everyone look after each other and may love be everywhere x

Standard
2017, America

Moving To America

I write this about 2 and a half weeks from our day of departure from our home, Sydney Australia, across the Pacific to San Francisco. An almost mirror image of our home here in the South Pacific. It still feels rather exhilarating and a little bizarre that this is happening at all. I get the odd panic attack over things that need doing, or picturing myself arriving. Perhaps because to me, it is yet to feel real. Our home is to be packed up by removalists 3 days from our departure for instance. Adrian is behind me in the kitchen in our flat discussing how to cook capsicum. I’ve had about 3 beers and feeling slightly buoyant and reflective at the same time.

I’ve felt a gamut of emotions, since receiving that fateful call from Adrian saying that his work has offered him a transfer and position in San Francisco. My heart was fluttering, my nerves going into overdrive. My mind working hard to make sense of it all like those old clunky pc’s from when you were a kid. And this was months ago. It’s been such a big year. Full of change, full of discovery and full of seismic shifts and flux. We got married in New Zealand over a weekend, for instance. We went to Italy for my cousin’s wedding; traveling there was such an experience that helped me grow my confidence, as well as my respect for my ancestral culture of Italy.

So it’s been quite the year. I feel all at once very blessed yet at some moments completely overwhelmed. It’s a time of reflection and sentiment for me.

Very soon our lives will be packed up and we’ll leave our home for an indeterminate time. It could be for a year or two, it could be 5 or more. We leave a comfortable home behind; a homely flat that we spent years putting together. We leave amazing friendship circles that we are so incredibly lucky to be a part of. Family that love us. We have both worked very hard to build all this, and it is difficult for us both to say goodbye to it.

It’s very easy for me to forget the fact that we have both worked hard [Adrian exceptionally so], to get to the position we are at today. He has gone from a casual working a few days a week to the head of his brands visual department globally in five short years. [!] It still blows my mind thinking about this, and just how much ambition, determination and self-confidence the man I married has. He doesn’t see it as much as I do.

For myself, success has meant something different. I know I don’t have a fantastic job or career. It’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed being at my current job. It’s been exactly what I needed out of a job, compared to my previous workplace which caused much mental anguish and difficulties. I’ve loved being here, and this job has helped improve and develop me. But I’ve improved in other ways. Namely, my working upon fixing my mental state and improving my mental health, as well as overcoming social anxiety and depression. These are things I still struggle with, but I find that I am slowly getting better every day.

Someone on social media recently asked why I would want to go to America, in a rather sensationalist and hyperbolic manner. This person questioned why anyone in fact would want to go to such a place as it currently is, violence occurring daily, controversial politics et al. It did get me thinking on this topic. Why would anyone indeed want to move there at all as America currently is?

Well, nothing is ever quite so simple or black and white. Yes, the United States is currently convulsing with much pain and torment. I see and hear about so much pain and suffering, anger and sadness radiating from that country. [EDIT: as I’m editing this, another violent attack has occurred, this time in New York].

Yet, I still believe there is good inherent in everything and everyone. Call me a hopeless existentialist if you must, but I truly do have faith in humanity. I have met some of the warmest people who are American, whose warmth and genuine interest and sense of hospitality puts me to shame as an Australian.

The United States appears to be in a state of unrest. That much is evident. It’s quite something, reflecting back upon the changes and perception of the United States’ from the perspective of being a foreigner. I grew up in a fiercely Eurocentric household. Our food was primarily Italian, our cars [if preference allowed] German and media consisted of world news or foreign non-English films]. My father wasn’t anti-American per se; he just truly had reservations on anything American. We grew up therefore in a home where anything and everything non-American was upheld above all else. European design, food, architecture, history, literature was all given the highest regard. Middle Eastern and Asian culture was always highly espoused and respected as well by my dad, who would always remark upon how one culture was so much more close-knit and community based than our own, or how another culture was proud of its traditions and able to retain its cultural heritage.

I always recall whenever my sister and I wanted to watch an American tv programme dad would always remark on it, always desultory and always with a dismissive and unimpressed tone.

He may have been right, as Melrose Place wasn’t exactly the height of culture.

He would get us to watch SBS most of the time, which is a government-run tv channel catering to immigrant audiences and featured many arthouse and foreign films, if you’re not from here in Australia. SBS really did become a staple of many immigrant families, including ours. I always recall watching the San Remo Italian music festival as a kid on Sundays, as well as Italian news.  I remember one such film dad made us watch was about the life of a German family in cold war Berlin. It was all very strange and arthouse-y in black and white with subtitles, grim and bleak, urban and gritty, focusing on this family’s troubles and woes, where he excitedly exclaimed in his thick Italian accent:

‘This! This is what life truly is, none of this bullshit American rubbish…’

In hindsight, my boisterous, loud Italian dad really did have a lot to do with the formation and coalescence of my own opines about art, culture and society. Anything British for a long while in my 20’s reigned supreme, for instance.

I’m excited and intrigued to think what may come of our big move.Like I said earlier, it does at times feel completely unreal, like something in a film, or a book like Julia Child’s ‘My Life In France’, which is aptly about her, [pre-fame], moving to France from her homeland America and recounting all her adventures.

It just seems so surreal that we have this fantastic opportunity. I literally have no idea what to expect from the place, the culture, the people. I don’t know what I’ll do, who I’ll meet, where to go for dinners, or where to shop for groceries. Guess that’ll be part of the fun. Finding a new supermarket to go to, or a local spot for dinner. I’m fortunate to know the language and come from a similar culture, yet I know I’ll be analyzing every nuance and quirk and characteristic of life and the people there, and viceversa. I want this move to be the start of new experiences. I want it to shape me into a more worldly and confident person. Speaking to a colleague at my workplace, she told me that:

‘You become a new person every time you move overseas; look at me, I’ve had to learn English, learn the customs, learn the lifestyle. I wouldn’t change it for anything at all.’

Like my coworker, whose kind words were so compellingly thought-provoking, I know that this move will make me into a new person.

Standard