Monday, September 20, 2010


We are in Australia, starting our new life. Baby Sophie is taking it all in stride. Her parents have a little more work to do. Her dad is looking for a job. Her mom/mum is trying to decide whether to switch to Aussie spelling on this blog. Perhaps I should stick with American because I write my books that way.

I don't know if I've come home. Tucson had become my home in that I felt settled, but I was most definitely a foreigner. Australia, where I've spent most of my life, was supposed to be home but I always felt like a British import. England, where I spent my formative years, felt foreign when I went back there in the mid-90s to work for a year. I realized the reason for that was that I missed the 80s, so my peers weren't quite my peers.

Let's see how this all works out.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The big move

Ever seen a bookcase wrapped in brown paper? How about a baby swing? I hadn't either, until today. The movers are here, packing our entire house into boxes, with the help of miles of packing tape. They're leaving us the sofa and the air bed and some paper cups so we can survive the night. Then tomorrow they return to load our life into a 20-foot shipping container.

In 6 to 8 weeks, we'll see it all again on the other side of the globe. Then some Aussie movers will unpack the lot into a new house, assuming we have a house by then, which depends on whether MCP has a job by then.

Sophie is taking it all in stride, happily watching the activity when she's not unhappily grumbling for food or a nap. Right now she's asleep on my lap and MCP is doing a food run and last-minute errands like returning our cable box and taking a Nadine's cookie platter to our vet.

When he comes back with sandwiches from Jimmy Johns, we'll pack up the computers and I'll be offline for a few days, 22 hours of which will be spent in planes and airports. Hard to believe we'll soon be in Australia. It feels rather like the days before giving birth - the preparations take up all your energy, so you barely have time to think about what it'll be like afterwards. Makes it hard to believe it'll actually happen. But inevitably it will happen, ready or not.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Air travel in the 21st century

Checking our flight today, I discovered we're flying to Australia on the new Airbus A380. I tried to book this plane for our last trip, back in October 2008, but that was the month Qantas started using the Airbus and it was booked out. This time we got the Airbus without trying. It's not exactly futuristic, but it's new and shiny.

Compared to the 747, this plane has 50% less cabin noise  (perhaps not a good thing when one has a crying baby) and increased cabin air pressure -- both of which are supposed to reduce travel fatigue. It has larger windows and overhead bins, and lots more headroom.

The seats are 3.5 cm wider but I can't find any mention of more leg room. However, our current seat assignment is right in front of the self-service bar (we've been put there because there's a baby bassinet) and the leg room is much bigger than the average seat gets. I imagine there will be lots of traffic, but that just means more people to admire Sophie and more interesting things for Sophie to look and smile at.

MCP won't fly anyone but Qantas. I used to fly United because it tended to be cheaper, but there is indeed a noticeable difference in service between the two airlines. MCP says Australia is 20 years behind in many respects (no online shopping at Target!??) but in the case of flying, that's a good thing for us Economy passengers. On our last trip, our breakfast included a muffin in a fancy origami box and color-coordinated napkins. Wow.