There's this plateau phase after moving house where most of the boxes have been unpacked and most of things that moved with you have found new homes. You have some kind of routine going in the new 'hood. You've got your ports of call for things like coffee, takeaway sushi and bits and bobs. Heck, you've been around long enough to have a basic understanding of the peculiarities of the area. It's your new normal and after the months of carefully orchestrated chaos surrounding the move, you've earned a few quiet weeks of predictability.
And then my new storage units for the study arrived. As North America shivers through blizzards and snow storms, I've been doing battle with some snow of my own - the kind your toddler makes when he helps tidy up by breaking up the packaging into a gazillion little balls of packing foam. We unpacked the furniture yesterday and I've swept the floor about six times since then and mopped it but I've still got microblizzards of the stuff here and there. I have to admit that looking at it and the way it gets caught in my hair does remind me of snow. Perhaps that's one way of keeping your cool during a Sydney summer...
What a difference having shelves and drawers makes! Clutter has magically disappeared off the floor. Precarious piles of stuff have decamped to shelves behind closed cupboard doors. I've found stationery supplies I thought I'd lost forever. And now that everything has its place, I've finally managed to decide on a bit of wall to hang my calendar on.
My fledgeling potted herb garden has also benefitted from the return of my 'making my house my home' mojo. I've added some mint to my lemon tree pot. It's only been two days but the plant still lives!!!!!
One of my dearest friends from Perth made the move to Sydney via Melbourne this week and she bravely ventured down a few motorways and through some tunnels to visit us for a play date / long overdue catch up / good bubbles, cheese, fruit and ethically sourced snacks for the kids. The time since we'd last properly caught up seemed to disappear as we took up from where we left off. There were quite a few moments when we looked at each other and realised we were both forty with kids, mortgages and real jobs but also quite a few where it was almost like none of the above had even happened to either of us. But I think what warmed both of our hearts the most (besides the top shelf adult beverages and the giddying effect of its bubbles) was seeing how well our little ones got along.
Changing tack just a little, I thought I'd end today's post with links to a few podcasts I've found fascinating recently.
The first is Henry Rollins' interview for BBC's Hard Talk series, here's the link to the podcast. I'll preface my thoughts by saying that while I've heard Rollins' name mentioned many times in the news, I've never actually heard any of his music. What struck me with his interview was how arresting he is as the subject of an interview. There's something about his husky / gravelly voice and the way he can distil his complex observations on society into everyday words with real world context that made me sit up and take notice. A specific example is Rollins' take on why so many Americans are taken in by Donald Trump's solutions to the world and the USA's problems.
During the interview, Rollins told host Stephen Sackur his reasons for visiting the world's political hot spots. It wasn't to use his celebrity to try and save the downtrodden or purely to crusade for change but instead, to give himself perspective on his life in LA. To remind himself to never forget that what he takes for granted as part of his everyday life in the US is worlds away from the reality for millions of people who have had the misfortune to be born elsewhere. Rollins, of course, says this all with more passion and eloquence than I can muster which is why you should have a listen to his interview if you can.
There's been much discussion in the Australian media recently about the way gentrification of suburbs in Australia has impacted the schools in traditionally working class areas which are now seeing large numbers of wealthier middle class Anglo-Australians move in and settle into. While the new members of the community value the 'multi-culturalism' their children are being exposed to as school, the research suggests that what actually happens is that schools in the catchment area become polarised and unequal as one school becomes more desirable than others for a number of complex reasons. Also, the ethnic diversity that does exist appears largely to be that of 'cosmo-multiculturalism' - the experience of other cultures through its food and language for example, rather than through interacting with actual people from that ethnic group.
It's thought provoking research which challenges what many of us define as our multicultural Australia. On a more sobering note, the trends found in the research has significant implications for how effectively our current education system will serve all our children.
The Compass podcast series In Black And White looks at the issue of race and socioeconomic status changes in communities in the context of changes in Hartford, Connecticut. While the active abandonment of racially segregated schools in the area began 20 years ago, challenges still exist in removing unequal access to a quality education for African American and Hispanic children living in Hartford. 'In Black And White' is a documentary that presents a range of opinions, facts and voices about the transition that Hartford has gone through and the challenges it continues to face in order to achieve the same education for all its children. Educators interviewed for the series told of their joy at seeing more and more students of successive graduating years finding happiness in biracial marriages but this was tempered with the numbers of African American students lost to the system when school communities that advocated for them and had an appreciation of their social context disappeared.
Are you a podcast listener? Have you heard anything recently that made you stop, think and possibly google to find out more?