Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Census 2010

While going through my pile of mail I found my Census 2010 form. I'm realizing now that my kids were never counted in a census and never will be - it's almost like they weren't here, at least not officially according to the people who count people. That's just wrong. :(

the dichotomy down under

I apologize for my recent prolonged lack of blogging. I've just returned to Pittsburgh after what may have been the most incredible trip of my life: three weeks traveling through three different parts of Australia. I spent time sunbathing on beautiful beaches and exploring picturesque mountains, interacting with exotic animals, eating at incredible restaurants and staying in some of the nicest accommodations I've ever seen - thanks, entirely, to my brother. For the first time ever I didn't get homesick while on vacation, in fact I didn't even want to come home. Though if I have to come home to somewhere, I'm glad I get to come home to Pittsburgh.

We started our trip in Sydney, where my brother lives. We saw the basic sights, like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, went shopping, biked through Olympic Park where the Olympics were held in 2000 and saw some of Sydney's finest beaches.

Bondi Beach is Sydney's most famous beach and the subject of the Australian hit TV show, "Bondi Rescue". Let me tell you - the lifeguards at this beach don't mess around. There are huge waves, strong rip currents and sharks to deal with. During both of the days I spent there I saw lifeguards dragging people out of the water. If you are swimming where you shouldn't be they will get on their megaphones and tell you to get your ass out of the dangerous areas. And if there's a shark in the area you will see a low flying helicopter tracking it and hear an air raid siren warning everyone to get out of the water. Pretty crazy, but cool. And it's a "topless optional" beach so in the midst of the hundreds of people and organized chaos there are boobs everywhere.

I caught a rainbow at Bondi (and yes, after taking the picture I noticed the two people laying on top of each other in the foreground - oh well, what can you do?):

From Sydney we flew to Tasmania, the southernmost state of Australia. Tasmania is a beautiful island with mountains and beaches, and of course, cute little Tasmanian devils.

Here are a couple of pictures from the top of Mt. Wellington, outside the city of Hobart:

Some views along the coast:

Some of the animals we saw:

From Tasmania we flew to Queensland, where the Great Barrier Reef lives. We went snorkeling around the reef and saw reef sharks and giant clams the size of Volkswagen beetles (unfortunately I didn't take pictures). We traveled through the rain forest and ate crocodile and kangaroo (kinda felt bad about that). What we didn't do was go to the beach and swim, for the following reasons:

From Queensland we headed back to Sydney where we spent the remainder of our trip. We went to a concert at the Opera House and climbed the Harbour Bridge, the largest steel structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

So. what can I say? The trip was amazing. I had the time of my life. But then there's the aforementioned dichotomy...

What I noticed was this - the more fun I had, the more sad I became. It makes absolutely no sense, really. Each day I thought,"my kids should be here, they would love this" and this giant pit of sorrow in the core of my existence grew. It got to the point where I wished it would just swallow me up and get it over with already. I would go snorkeling and climb bridges by day, then go back to my room and cry myself to sleep at night. And I'm still doing that fabulous thing where I wake up in the middle of the night panicking, not believing reality is real.

I'm not complaining, how can I complain after having such an amazing opportunity to see a beautiful part of the world? I'm just saying it like it is. I don't know if I will ever really be happy again. I mean, how can I be happy? My kids are dead.

I have to go on, so I will. One day at a time...often one breath at a time. I'm grateful to my brother for helping me have as much fun as possible in the moments when I wasn't overcome by sadness. And I'm thankful for all of the family and friends and blog readers who are here for me when I just can't deal with it anymore.

Friday, March 5, 2010


So here I am, on a plane, flying to the other side of the world. I'm on my way to visit my one and only brother who has lived in Sydney for the past 5 years. Everyone always asks me why he moved there. He spent a semester in Australia when he was in college and, I guess, fell in love with the country. He always knew he wanted to go back, so he did.

I have never been down under to visit him. He moved there right after Kate's 3rd birthday so, unfortunately, didn't get to spend a whole lot of time with my kids over the last few years. He was, however, a wonderful uncle. We spent lots of time talking with him via skype and he never missed a birthday or holiday. He always sent balloons or cookies or presents. And when he did visit Pittsburgh we had a blast. Kate and Peter loved him very much.

The night of the accident, when I couldn't sleep, I found his cell phone number and called him while he was at work to tell him what happened. He dropped everything and was on a plane the next morning. He stayed in the States for almost a month. (fortunately his employer was understanding and encouraged him to take as much time as he needed) He helped me and my parents immensely during that time. I can't thank him enough. He's a great guy and I'm very lucky to have him as my brother!

I have no idea what to expect from this trip, which for me is often the best way to approach something new - no expectations. I don't think I've ever heard someone say they had a bad time in Australia so I'm sure it will be a fabulous and exciting adventure. Maybe I'll want to move there too! Except I love Pittsburgh too much.

Here are some random things about my traveling experience so far:

I've never been on a plane with stairs before, it's so cool...and my seat is upstairs :)

My seat is, more or less, a Craft-matic adjustable bed with a built-in back massager so I have no business complaining about being on a plane for 23 hours.

There's a nifty little flight path computer thingy built into the back of the seat in front of me. At any time I can find out exactly where I am (which currently is somewhere over Arizona), how long before I arrive at my destination and what the outside temperature is. At the moment it's -59 degrees F. Damn, that's cold!!

And yes, I realize I'm a big dork to be so amused by such things, but I am amused and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Flying south for the rest of the winter...

I apologize for my recent lack of blogging. I've been preparing for my next big adventure - a trip to Australia to visit my brother, Chris. I'm currently in New York, getting ready to spend 700 hours on a plane - ok, I exaggerate - it's only 23 hours. I will have plenty of free time in the next couple of days so I promise to write more soon.