Helping Australia

Australia bush fire

As most people know, Australia is battling some of the worst bush fires. Some of them are burning uncomfortably close to places I called home for many years. It’s incredibly heart-breaking.

If you’d like to help, please use one of the links below then let me know so I can give you a thank you.

Two Years of Marriage Equality in Australia

Two years ago, on this date… well, not really because I’m about 17 hours behind or something, marriage equality was made law in Australia. Time sure does fly. I thought I’d reflect on that a little bit and share a little bit of a story with you about my marriage.

One of the things that my partner and I made clear is that we didn’t want to end up in something that would run its course in a month or two, then fade away. I told him that I was still a little jaded by a certain previous relationship and I think it would take some time for me to come to the realisation that I would ultimately want something long term. I still have an aching feeling of mistrust sometimes and it’s not because of who he is, but what I’ve gone through in that particular relationship.

When we first got together, it was great and I found myself to be pretty happy and wanting to be with or around this person all the time. One of the things we realised is that we attended the same university and so we’d sneak in lunches and things together when we could. I also told him that he’s welcome to stay with me on his early days because he was living about an hour and a half away from the university, whereas I was about 2 or 3 suburbs over from the university.

I guess things were pretty solid. Then, while I was here in the USA, I got a video of him proposing to me (on Valentine’s Day–too predictable if you ask me). I watched it and thought about it for a few days. I told my closest family members and my friends and I had to explain that it was about 8 months after we met and I am a little weirded out about getting married so early.

I eventually said yes, but to buy myself time, I said that we probably should wait a while and test the water a bit before we dive in. That wait ended up being a few years. Because…

I finally realised that I was getting older and who knows if this opportunity of a lifetime would happen again. I think that my family members probably didn’t want to see me alone and well, I didn’t want to be alone. Being single has it perks, but sometimes I just crave someone to lay my head on at night. I also told him that we’d go to New Zealand, where, at the time, same-sex marriage was legal. I started thinking that I don’t have an emotional attachment to NZ, so if I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t do it there. Then, I said we would do it when we go to the USA together. (I time my visits every 3 years now, so it would have been a wait, but at least I could get people to attend.) I know my partner was starting to get a little impatient and I think he was thinking that I was just going to disappear one day. Then, I finally said, let’s do it in Australia if and when it becomes legal. When it does, and we haven’t done it yet, we’ll get married in Australia.

Well, the debates were getting hot and it looked like it was going to happen. I had to have other people surveyed to see whether my relationship was valid enough to get married or not. Well, the Australian people spoke and said ‘yes’. A few months later, we were taking our wedding photos and planning for a very small ceremony in Melbourne.

In July 2017, it happened. And it’s been great. I am so incredibly happy and proud of the man I married and even happier because I got to do it in the country I love. (I love the USA too in its own way, don’t get me wrong, but my life had almost entirely shifted to Australia.)

And so, we’re going on two years of marriage now and about 5 years of being a couple. It’s been a great few years. My mental health is a lot better being with this guy who, strangely is a mental health warrior. Every day I feel so lucky being with someone who I don’t fully ‘get’ all the time, but he’s been an adorable, wonderful guy regardless. I freakin’ love him to bits and can’t wait until he’s here on US soil.

So yes, two years of it being law. I hope anybody who reads this who fought for the right to marry someone of the same sex in Australia knows how extremely thankful I am for the opportunity and for working so incredibly hard to make it happen.

It’s Great to Be in Australia

What kind of person would I be if I didn’t say “Happy Australia Day” to you? Well, I don’t really know. Around this time every year, there is talk about changing the date because this is pretty much “Invasion Day”. I am not really knowledgeable about Australia Day itself, but I know that it’s usually a day for me to be lazy and believe me, I’ve been super lazy today. I pretty much sat in a chair in front of the computer the whole time since lately, my significant other has taken a liking to only talking to me when I’ve done something wrong, when he wants me to do something, or to try to guilt-trip me. I needed a break from it.

Back to Australia Day. I do think that every country needs a day to celebrate, well, being a country. A lot of countries have quite a few nasty spots in their histories, and I guess the way that I’ve heard it, you can’t really celebrate anything because something bad always happens for us to get where we are today.

I’m one of those people who really feels sympathy for Aboriginal Australians. I’ve been lucky enough to have learned a lot of stuff about them over the past year and it is absolutely incredible and unfortunate what they’ve had to go through. I wouldn’t want to celebrate anything like that. I know that things have changed since then, but I still feel like there is a lot more that could be done and I think the ONLY way for good changes to happen is to start conversations with the original owners of this country.

So I’m not really sure where I stand on this whole thing. I think Australia and BEING an Australian is a wonderful thing. I’m so happy, lucky, and fortunate to be able to live in such an amazing place. I’ve said this so many times because I really and truly mean it.

That’s all from me for now.

I guess it’s also India’s Republic Day so I guess we’d be double celebrating if we were talking to each other. lol

Hot, Hot, Hot!!!

I know I’ve said this before, but I really hate summer. Right now, most of Australia is in the middle of a heatwave. The temperature has been near 40ºC/104ºF everyday (43ºC/109ºF today) for a while and I don’t think we’re actually going to get a break from it for a while. I’ve had to step outside once today and I really hope I won’t have to do that again! (I do… I have to water our grass or it will just become a fire hazard and believe me, I don’t want our grass to catch on fire.

I also haven’t been feeling that great lately either. I am getting incredible headaches/migraines every few days. My husband wants me to go to the doctor… in Melbourne since I like that doctor a lot more.

Anyway, I hope everybody is doing well and staying warm if you’re in the middle of winter (and sane if you’re in the USA), and cool (and hydrated) if you’re in Australia! Much love my freezing (or sweating) friends!

Where’s the Sausage Sizzle?

Today, Victorians headed to the polls. I was one of them. For those of you who are unaware, Australia has compulsory voting. That means that if you don’t go vote (and you don’t have a valid reason why you didn’t or an excuse), you get a fine. Actually, you get up to 1 penalty unit and one penalty unit is currently equal to a fine of $180. I read somewhere that it was $20.

Since I live in a regional area, I didn’t have easy access to an early voting venue, so I had to get up today and vote. It was a little hard getting up and leaving though, so I made it to the voting center (a church) at about 1:30 pm. The polling centre was about a 20 minute walk away and the flies were out in full force. (I hate flies.)

It was the first time that I’ve voted in a regional area. I was expecting it to be like Melbourne was. I was expecting lots of people, lots of people asking me to vote for candidates I don’t like, and sausage sizzles. There wasn’t a lot of any of those things and there weren’t any sausage sizzles. I brought cash with me for that very reason.

Wait, I hear you non-Aussies and non-Kiwis asking: what’s a sausage sizzle? Well you can check out the link or I’ll save you the time and explain it to you. It’s basically throwing some cheap (or donated) weiners on a grill, barbequing them and then serving them with a slice of bread, sauces, and grilled onions. People usually sell them at events to raise money for charities, schools, sports clubs, and other organisations. A hardware chain here called Bunnings Warehouse does them every weekend. I don’t much care for the smell of them, but it’s a nice idea. Anyway, I was expecting one and didn’t get it. I was a little sad.

Anyway, I voted and left. I got home and now I’m hungry for cheap hot dogs. I don’t want to go to the store and brave the flies. They drive me insane.

I sometimes ask myself if compulsory voting should be a thing in the USA and on paper and in conversation, that seems like a great idea. It gives, theoretically, a better representation of people’s feelings towards the way they think governments should be run. Australia’s population is only a fraction of what the USA’s is, so I think it’s a lot more doable here. Elections are expensive. I couldn’t imagine how much it would cost the USA if everybody had to vote. The traffic would be horrible and I doubt a lot of people would put in a real vote… because not everybody really cares.

Anyway, I’m pretty comfortable that the state will retain the same government, but I do get surprised sometimes.

I hope everybody’s having a good weekend. I’m trying to chill the fuck out for a while. I’m finally getting there.

TIP #16: Restarting

It took me a few tries to record this… sorry if it’s disjointed and random. In this episode, I talk about:

– I’ve started a new job 
– Campin’ in the Grampians, a mountain range in Victoria, Australia. 
– My hatred towards the ‘bad’ air and my need for some more immunotherapy (or I’ll have to move back to the city as soon as I can). 
– The guilt of calling in sick in the USA. (I’ve already taken a sick day because I can’t breathe.) 
– I’ll be cutting down the number of episodes I do until I get some indication of who’s listening.

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  • NOTE: This post uses the new web player so it might not function or look correctly. I’ll be working on it when I have time. (The default is to use the built-in browser media player. If you’d like to switch to the themed player, look at the preferences by clicking the menu button in the upper right, and change the themed player setting to ‘Yes’.)

When Negative Things People Say Influence Your View on People (And it Shouldn’t)

I’m going to admit a few things in this post that I am not so proud of. I’m just warning you about that right now.

For those who don’t know, I was not born and raised in Australia. I was born in one of the USA’s biggest cities and ended up being brought up in a small town that, uh, let’s say hasn’t always been the friendliest when it comes to people from different from my own ethnic group. Thankfully, my parents didn’t push any racist ideas on me. I think that they were maybe a little bit, but they didn’t say much and it was nothing compared to the town around me. It always really made me sick and after I realised there was a whole world out there to explore, I met some really cool people. I will admit that I had “reservations” about meeting some people because I was unfamiliar with their cultures and religions, but once I met them, talked to them, and everything, I started to understand that everybody shares a common bond and there are good people and bad people out there.

Something that I’m not so proud of is how I listened to my ex talk about the Aboriginal people of Australia. I allowed him to “teach” me certain negative stereotypes, and you know something? I believed him. I basically had this automatic negative thinking about people who I had never really gotten to know. I said some really nasty things to other people (not often though) which I really wished I did not say.

Surprisingly, I didn’t learn much about the Aboriginal people until I took my citizenship test. I just didn’t have much exposure to them up to that point. I learned what I had to (and a little more) and passed the test. Years later, as part of my training, I took a class about the Aboriginal people and I really found it to be quite interesting. It pushed me to want to learn more about these fascinating people. It encouraged me to go to museums and really enjoy the artwork. It gave me opportunities to talk to and learn from them. It gave me a very basic overview of how society was before this country was invaded (because I really believe this is what happened). I think about how different things would be if the people who came here were more open-minded and lived in harmony with the people who were already here. I have a better understanding now of what they’ve had to endure for over 200 years and it’s really, really sad. I cannot imagine having someone take me from my mother and father, and bring me somewhere I didn’t know, tell me that my way of life is wrong and force me to change it. That would be incredibly difficult and heart-breaking. (And you know something? It’s still happening today. I’m not lying.)

I find it really depressing and unacceptable that the life span on the Aboriginal people are around 10 years less than they are of non-Aboriginal people. They’re still underrepresented in the government and I think they need people within their culture(s) to help us all work together at least, to lessen the unfair gaps between so many things, life expectancy, income, education, etc. I really believe the oldest culture in the world needs preservation and I know we can learn a lot from them.

I am not an expert in this country’s history and as much as I would love to talk about it here, I don’t think I’m qualified. I do know that the Aboriginal people here have a really rich, interesting, and beautiful culture and I am so ashamed I have let someone influence my thinking about them in a negative way. I don’t expect for my learning process to stop now.

If you’re curious about Australian Aboriginal culture, you can go to the Creative Spirits website. The information there is quite good, but it seems to try to push an eBook on you every page you visit, twice.

There’s really so much to say but I can’t fit everything here. It’s all really interesting. I feel a little bit guilty for that reason.

Why Being Gay in Australia is Better than the USA

I don’t really intend to make this a weblog about marriage equality, but the excitement is still lingering for me and many other Australians. I was thinking about something though about being gay in the United States. The lawmakers in many states (and probably nationwide) are constantly thinking of many creative ways how they can make marriage equality a little less equal and etch discrimination into the laws to make it a lot less meaningful. They essentially think like “well, we have to live with it, but let’s make it as hard as possible for them, so we can still believe that our marriages are still superior”. So, you have all these lawmakers scrambling to allow states to remove benefits for same-sex couples and how to make it harder to get weddings done. I’ve already explained my stance on that, which is basically if someone isn’t going to put their whole heart and energy into my plans (because of who I’m with) then someone else will. Again, let me iterate that I don’t think that’s nice and under most circumstances, it shouldn’t be legal to withhold products and services from someone just because you don’t like them or agree with them.

Anyway, the point of this is that here in Australia, I don’t think I will be seeing much of the “waaaaah, I have to bake cookies for a newlywed gay couple” stuff like there is in the USA. But, I’ve also told many, many, many people here that whether they realise it or not, the USA (its people and laws) is deeply entrenched in religion. You don’t really see that until you’re American and go somewhere else that 100% guarantees freedom from religion (which I think is GREAT). (Even during Christmas, may I add: no one is whining about red cups. No one is bitching about people saying Happy Christmas or Happy Holidays. Do you know why? Because people have better things to do.) Also, people in the USA, or at least where I am originally from, are really eager to gag and choke others with their religion.

You can understand why it’s so difficult for me to want to go and live in the USA where a few years later, people still aren’t over the fact that people of the same sex can marry. The laws that the state governments and federal government make or change proves that. I don’t need to have my feet on US soil to see that. I hear it directly from people, not from “fake news” websites. It’s really sad.

Australia’s discrimination laws are so much better than the USA. You can’t do half of what some of the states in the USA can get away with. No one gives two shits about trans people using restrooms (tee-hee). No one can discriminate, COUNTRY-WIDE, based on sexual preference, gender identity, religion, etc. It’s all been law basically since I’ve been here. That’s because people don’t get their knickers in a twist. That’s why I love Australia. The marriage equality, which is law now, meaning people could get married today if they could, is just the icing on the gay cake baked by someone who doesn’t care who they bake a cake for. It’s just another reason why I love my adopted country like I do and always will.

I do think that there will be some “protections” happening in Australia at some point, but at least the government is actually looking into how things stand at the moment or in the distant future before any of those “protections” become law. (Discriminatory laws DO NOT AND WILL NOT PASS here, Americans.)

It’s kind of hilarious because people think I have this real hatred towards the USA. I’m always making points why life is so much better over here than here, but seriously, it is a great place to live and I’m honestly a lot more happier here, but home is where my family is and I don’t hate it. I dislike quite a few things about it right now, but when I have a chance to move back, I will. (I really wish I could just move everybody here.) The USA has given me a lot of great opportunities in the past and it was all I knew until I first came here. I’ve seen the other side of the fence and love it, that’s all. I wish the USA was more progressive and really wish that people would stop latching on to all their fears to vote in inexperienced, weak leaders who want to spend more time telling people what they can’t do to make themselves feel better. Oh well, hopefully one day people there will wake up.

Australia Says “YES”

yesfest
Australia Says Yes… like everybody knew they would, but apparently it takes wasting $122 million to figure that out. Pic is from Equal Love.

Exciting news! The Australian people have voted in favour of marriage equality.

Over 61% said yes. [Australia votes ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage.]

It’s a little funny though. I really thought that it would have happened before it did in the USA, but even despite that, I didn’t have too many problems with it because Australia is such a laid-back, relaxed place and even without marriage equality, same-sex couples still had a lot more rights than they did in the USA (and still do, honestly).

Something important to know is that it is not legal yet. It basically gives everybody in Parliament the right to a free vote (and hopefully, if they aren’t douchebags, vote with the rest of the country). A Bill needs to be written to make it law and the politicians have to vote on it.

It’s also a bit funny when the people on the “No” side said that the country shouldn’t cater to minorities when it comes to same-sex marriage. Do you know who IS the minority now? Them. Now they’re wanting to make it as hard as possible by writing discrimination into Australian law. They say “Oh, but we have to get our way too since we lost.” You know what would happen if the result was the other way around? Exactly. I don’t feel bad for them. Not. At. All. That’s why I don’t like religion and why being in a country that’s not so religious is great.

It’s also nice to see that Australians don’t have shit for brains like their American counterparts. Thank you, Australians!

Sorry that this was posted so late. I wrote this for Wednesday and forgot to post it! I made a few changes to this post though. (Also true: I’m infuriated, bored, and tired.)

I Said ‘Yes’ to Marriage Equality in Australia

You guys and girls remember how I feel about the voluntary, non-binding, postal marriage equality survey the Australian government is mailing out, right? Well, last week, I got mine. I reluctantly filled it out and posted it back to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

It’s no secret how I answered it.

surveyform
Other countries have let people of the same sex get married for years now and the world hasn’t ended. Nobody, that I know of, has been forced into a relationship with someone of the same sex. No one has had their “traditional” marriages invalidated.

Even if I was straight, I’d answer it the same way because, seriously, how would it affect me and my relationships? The answer is that it wouldn’t.

I’ve seen some posts about how this is a slippery slope. Who says that it wouldn’t lead to any of these things:

  • Someone wanting to marry their toaster, microwave, cake mixer, refrigerator, pasta machine, or any other kitchen appliance.
  • Someone wanting to marry their cat, dog, ferret, a pear tree, or the neighbour’s chinchilla, or some other living thing.
  • Someone wanting to marry their dad, mom, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, or some other blood relative.
  • Someone wanting to marry 12 people at the same time to partake in Hot Pocket- and Mountain Dew-fueled orgies every second night–okay, every night.
  • Someone wanting to marry someone underage.
  • Someone else getting married to someone of the same sex is against my religion. I’ll be forced to marry someone of the same sex.

Let’s think about that list a little bit, shall we? First off, objects, places, and things can’t sign the required documents for it to happen. Plus, that sounds really boring. Who would they argue with? Siri isn’t an option. She’s not interested. I’ve asked.

Animals also can’t sign documents unless they’re really talented. They can’t consent either. What would people say? “Lick my face if you want to get married, chew off my face if you don’t.”

Relatives? Gross. There are a few moral and ethical issues here; issues that I shouldn’t really have to explain. Yes, some people have questionable morality and ethical reasoning and want to do this, but it shouldn’t be legal.

Polygamy? Having multiple boyfriends/girlfriends is hard enough. Having multiple husbands/wives would be much, much harder. Not worth the effort. Not worth the jealousy. Just not worth fighting for. (Hot Pockets sound good though. I like the ham and cheese ones. I haven’t had one in a long time.)

Underage… that one came up quite often. Not only is this dumb, it’s also stupid. Most people know that morally and ethically this isn’t something you do. Plus, you can’t enter in a legal contract with someone who doesn’t have the capacity to do so. You can’t get consent to do something like this from someone that’s not a legal age. Plus… why would this be equated to someone wanting to be with someone of the same sex for the rest of their life?

So, what I’m saying is that same-sex couples aren’t looking for any of these things. They’re just two consenting adults who want their relationship validated legally so they have the same protections as someone who is married. Nothing more, nothing less. I’m not asking for a second birthday or my own island. I just want to be with someone for the rest of their lives. I want to be able to make important medical decisions (if it comes to that) in the case they can’t. I want to be able to call my relationship a marriage when and if it gets to that point. I just want equality, really.

Now, there are people who say “no” for religious reasons. That’s okay. I totally get that the Bible can be translated and interpreted any way that suits them. However, it’s my firm belief that religion and religious teachings shouldn’t be shoved down people’s throats because not everybody follows the same religion or even has a religious affiliation. I firmly believe of a total separation of church and state. It’s sad that the states in the USA don’t really believe in something so silly. If you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex, you don’t have to. Just don’t think about it.

Basically, I think if two adults love each other in a deeply romantic way and they both want to marry each other, they should be allowed to marry. Religion has nothing to do with it.

Let me add that this survey feels like one of those “vote for your favourite” on a reality TV show. It’s really dumb and it’s a huge waste of money.