If it doesn’t rain it pours

For the last three months, since coming here to Alice Springs, I have been feeling very time rich and under stimulated. This week however has been one of the busiest, most overwhelming weeks of my life…..

It started okay on Monday morning, got up late, had a relaxing breakfast, went to my poustinia to drop some things I am keeping there and had a bit of a quiet time. Then I went to town to meet my friend Sandi for a coffee at mid day. It was a good coffee (finally) but she has some pretty intense stuff going on so it was a fairly full on conversation. From there I went and had a haircut (I have really short hair now) and then to look at ovens, pick up taps and run some other errands for the house. At 4.30 I picked up Leonie, the woman from Darwin who had come to help me sort out what I was doing. We went straight to the office just for her to have a look at some things but didn’t end up leaving til 8.30. It was good though, we chucked out pretty much everything. Anyone who is a hoarder would have hated it but we found it really satisfying.

Picked up Leonie from her hotel the next morning and we were back in the office just after 10.30. Apart from a short lunch break, in which she continued to fill my brain with things I needed to know for the job, we worked all day. By 5pm my brain was so fried with all the new information (and more mess we had discovered from the previous person) but I had to run to an on call meeting and then run back for my evening class. That was totally chaotic again and by 9pm when it finished I was not feeling great.

Back at work by 8.30 on Wednesday for my 9.00 class. It went better than the previous evening but I still wasn’t thrilled. After class Leonie went through a few more things and then left. I was hoping that by this stage I would have everything all sorted but she had created almost as much work as relieved so I just kept going til 6pm. Then I went to class for three more hours and got home 9.15. 13 hours after I had left that morning. I was shattered.

Thursday, I had the morning off to clean, wash and do some paperwork. Then it was back to work for the evening class which as usual finished at 9pm. It was a lovely class though, I finally had a moment in which I thought, well I don’t totally suck at this, and I think the students actually learned something.

Today, I was in at 9.30 for an interview with a new student. I was only going to be there until noon but instead walked out at 4pm. That is a lot of hours especially as I am only supposed to be working 20 hours a week (from now on I hope). I was just really keen to feel like I was on top of things. And I do, at last! I am also home. I am totally exhausted but I am happy to know that I don’t have to think about work again until Tuesday afternoon. Lots of work to do on the house though.

Book Eight and Movie Five

Book 8: The Sound of one hand clapping by Richard Flannagan.
This is probably one of the most heart-wrencing books I have ever read. It begins in Tasmania in the 1950’s with a young girl whose mother committs suicide, and her immigrant, alcoholic father who is trying to desperately to escape his brutal past. He then bashes and beats his daughter til she finally leaves. 20 years later she returns to see him and the story resumes again. As you can imagine very depressing but it is beautifully written with redemption at the end. Transformation and redemption are key themse for me at the moment so it hit home in some ways and so I actually quite enjoyed reading it. Here is a quote I really liked:
“There was something about Bojan Buloh that strange evening something that approached the most curious innocence. As if innocence, thought Sinja, were not something one had before it was lost, a natural state into which one was born before life sullied it forever, but rather something that could only be arrived at after one had journeyed through all the evil life could manifest. He was lost and condemned to loss, he was damned and lived with the damned, but somehow, somehow because of what he had lived through he had acquired an innocence.”

Movie 4: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
I liked it although I was glad I had read the books. It missed so much which didn’t overly trouble me as I was able to fill in the rest for myself but Martin asked me a few questions after which made me realise that it would have lacked much without having read them. Like others have said I thought the first kiss was fairly poor but I can’t complain about anything else. I thought the child Voldermort was the freakist child and Snape and the other “baddies” as usual outshon the “goodies” but they didn’t do too badly either really.

First Week

I’ve started my new job. It is really intense I have to say. The woman before me left very quickly and unexpectedly so there’s been no hand over or anything. She was obviously not a very organised person as there are papers everywhere and no clue as to what they were for or anything. I truly have never seen anything like it in my life. On top of all this I am the only AMEP person in Alice, all my supervisers are in Darwin and they don’t really know much either. They have promised that someone will come next week to help me sort it all out and explain to me what I am supposed doing. Hopefully that will make this a little less overwhelming.

In the mean time I have just been attempting to teach some classes. I have had three classes and although they have not been great I think for my first attempts they haven’t been too bad either. Perhaps that’s more to do with the fact the students are lovely and very forgiving. They are a diverse group that is for sure. I have a number of Asians and Sudanese people, as well as an Afghani couple and a Cuban girl (there is also a Venezualen on the list but she didn’t come). There are no Europeans thus far at all though.

Although I feel fairly nervous all the time at the moment and very overwhelmed by it all, it feels good to be doing what I studied all those years for.

Movement at the station!

A few things happening here for me (finally) which I am very excited about. I have a job at Charles Darwin University with the Australian Migrant English Program. New residents and citizens are entitled to 501 hours of free English classes and I will be teaching and coordinating this program in Alice (although I am the only employee). I confess this is not what I had in mind when I moved here, was keen to get into Indigenous education, but I decided to take it for a few reasons. The first reason is that it is only 20 hours a week, but pays as much (perhaps more) as any other full time job I’ve had or applied for. Secondly, it is mostly in the evening, so my days are still free to do some tutoring work with indigenous students. I figure that given my limited experience and the complexity of the work this may be a better way to start off. I will be able to assist students in the classroom but another more experienced teacher will be in charge of the class who I can learn a lot from. Thirdly, I will also be doing some on call work with the Sexual Assault Service. This involves been available to go out on weekends or night times (can be 4am) to be with someone who has been sexually assaulted. This is probably only going to be about one week a month but it is much more sustainable if I don’t have to get up at 7am the next day to go to work. Fourthly, this work will still leaves me with time to work on the house or spend time with the neighbours and their children or get involved with things at the church. And finally, we thought that if we do happen to have children in the next little while I will be able to keep this job as it is mostly hours that Martin does not work. All in all I am very pleased with the job and the way it fits in with my life and where I am at.

I also have a church. After visiting most of the churches here in Alice I have decided to go to the Salvation Army church. This is the first church I visited so perhaps I should have just stayed (although iit was interesting seeing what all the denominations do). I have only been back once but I like it. I have say I do struggle with the the imagery of the Army such as members are called soldiers but I like the vibe of the place and everyonce seems pretty welcoming and inclusive and they are doing some good stuff around the place so I will try this out for now.

There is also some movement at the house. Painting has been done on half of it; electricity is in, tling is done in bathrooms and the septic is in. Tiles for the rest of the house have been ordered and are on their way, the kitchen guy is coming next week. We are hopeful to be in by the beginning of next month. This will be such a blessing I tell you what.

So overall things are really starting to fall into place. I am hopeful that this will all make me feel a bit more settled here in Alice, a bit more like home. In saying that though I think this time of waiting has been really valuable I have learned a lot about myself, about the culture here and about God that has been very important for me to learn.

Only in Alice Springs

I arrived home today to discover a kangaroo walking around the yard. There are builders here working on one of the cabins and it kept walking over the slab they are building on. The kangaroo is not wild mind you, its name is Bubba and he now lives here. A friend of our neighbours picked it up on the side of the road as a joey when it’s mum had been killed by a car. He has raised it ever since but now it is too big for his small place. However he doesn’t think it would survive in the wild as it has been raised in a house so he asked us to keep it at our place as we have lots of space. While I don’t know if any of us are thrilled about the idea of a pet kangaroo it seems like a better option than it living in a small house so we agreed. He and Keith patched up all the fences so that Bubba could live in one half of the property. He was dropped off today but it seems he had already got out.

Not knowing what to do I went and saw the neighbours. They came over and by looking for tracks worked out how the kangaroo had got out. It seems one of the gates was left open. That solved the first problem but we still didn’t know how to get it back in. So they called the owner and he came straight away. Mind you not fast enough to stop Bubba pulling down a few of Keith’s shirts off the line and pooing on them. When Bubba saw his owner they had a bit of a hug and then the owner carried him (and this is not a small roo) back into his half of the property. We shut all the gates and are hoping that Bubba will not escape again. I now have soy milk though which is apparently one of his favourites and I can use it to bribe him back in.

This is all so bizarre to me but very cool.

The nicest thing

Last week I went to the choir. I can’t really sing but everyone says that doesn’t matter and it seems to be the thing to do around here. I haven’t decided if I am going to join yet due to the not being able to sing factor but I had heaps of fun and the people are really cool so I am tempted.

The nicest thing though was the choir leader and his wife. They are both elderly but the choir leader is a bit younger and as a very dark skinned man hasn’t aged much and is still very attractive. He is also very charismatic and most of the ladies in the choir love him, some even flirt with him. He though pays no attention to this and remains very present and attentive to his wife. Without been over the top their love for each other is still really obvious after 42 years of marriage. It is so nice to observe.