Aussie, aussie, aussie … oi! oi! bully!

Growing up, we lived our life fairly simply. I didn’t realize that at the time, but I’ve come to appreciate that the summers were a time to be outside playing with your friends, reading a good book out in the back yard under the plum trees, and walking to the fish and chip shop for potato cakes and dim sims. Simple.

Another part of growing up was the lack of bigotry that was evident in our town. I may have been naive and unaware of its existence, but there wasn’t a mentality that we were different from the other kids, or they were different to us. I had friends whose heritage came from Greece, Italy, England, Asia and Indigenous Australia.  Having a different background or cultural genome, didn’t mean that much when you were playing football or other sports with your friends. Unless you were gay (or what others labeled as gay).

The reality is that when I look back at school photos, I now see those who were different much more clearly, but what stands out to me are the guys who were the bullies. The guys who I feared getting too close to for fear of being attacked, or the guys who made the threats somewhat loudly, but often in whispers as you were held against a fence or a wall. And what I notice is that they appear to be the same: white, academically challenged and – what I now know – full of self loathing.

I escaped the country, went through some challenges with “finding myself” and realized that being gay was okay, and that I could have a life that resembled normalcy. I didn’t look back, or give much thought to those bullies that I left behind in that town. I do wonder about some of these guys when I hear they have died (it is kind of weird to write that), and their struggles with their own issues (maybe their own sexuality), and whether that was a factor in their decisions to leave this earth; but it is only a fleeting thought. I’ve moved on.

But today, I am reminded that those bullies still exist, and I cringe a little (well, maybe a lot). What concerns me is that some of these people are in politics, and are in positions to bully a country. “What the hell is he talking about,” some of you may ask.

Over the past few weeks, there has been an increase in the debate about allowing marriage equality in Australia. In Australia, the federal government “controls” the laws relating to marriage and has the power to make changes to the Marriage Act that would permit the recognition of all marriages (including same-sex marriages) and would permit Australians from marrying the person they love regardless of each other’s gender.

Unfortunately, the bullies that are in power are ignoring the pleas of the Australian people (between 62% and 70% of Australians support marriage equality). They have the option to allow a vote in the parliament, but they are choosing not too. These bullies are so fearful of something they don’t understand (or agree with) that they want to keep it from everyone. They also threaten their colleagues that if they try to support it, they will be punished.  Let me spell it out B-U-L-L-Y!

Today, I am in a unique position where my marriage to Chris is fully recognized in every state in the United States, but I’m still a legal stranger in my home country. This reality is too surreal for me to fully comprehend. Sure I am provided many of the legal rights of other married couples, and I used to think that was enough, but it’s not. Not anymore. I’m disappointed in my own country for failing to live up to the standard (of my youth) of “live and let live.” I’m embarrassed that people that I grew up with and were involved with in my young political life are not fighting harder to bring this issue to the floor of the Parliament. If they did, they would win. And that is how you teach a bully a lesson. You take away their power!

2014 Year in Review

As I reflect on the year that was 2014, I am reminded that (1) it was actually a pretty amazing year [with one exception]; and (2) we did a lot more than I could recall prior to sitting down and writing this.

The following is a just a brief insight into the year that was 2014 for me (and Chris); our 2014 Year in Review.

First the sad part of the year: April 28 was a sad day for both of us, as we said goodbye to our sweet dog, Colby. We had two amazing dogs and both will forever be in our hearts.

While Chris and I had both been to New York individually, we had never traveled together, and we corrected this in January. I was heading to a conference and we decided to take a couple of days to explore the city that never sleeps. While there were many highlights of our trip, watching Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot was high on the list, along with our visit to the Intrepid Museum and the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The trip was also full of snow and cold, and both Chris and I agreed it was the coldest we have been ever.

Trey - 6 years
Trey

March came and went, and we realized that it is a full month of celebrations. Chris and I celebrated fifteen years together (and our first wedding anniversary), our sixth anniversary as Big Brothers to Trey and Chris’s birthday. March also saw our first Scavenger Hunt organized with Trey for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Road Trip
Road Trip

April arrived and we journeyed off to Los Angeles to collect my mother, sister and aunt for a road trip back to Frisco. Our itinerary included Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Sante Fe, and Amarillo (Texas). We even managed to drive along part of the old Route 66 along the way. It was a great trip, and even though I nearly killed my mother by hurrying her up to walk up the hills at the Grand Canyon.

May seemed to be our music month with us attending the Suburbia Music Festival in Plano. This was a great event, and introduced me to a number of new artists, especially Alabama Shakes. We also go to experience a David Guetta music experience during the festival. We enjoy it so much that we have been waiting for the 2015 tickets to go on sale (sadly, the festival will not be held this year).

Paris!
Paris!

June through August were our major travel months. I joined Chris on his travels to Europe which coincided with my birthday. After a few days catching up with our friends Fruitbat and Dave, we spent a few days in Paris (where I got to dine for my birthday), and then head to Canterbury (where Chris was attending a conference). I got to explore a lot of the area with Fruitbat as he chauffeured me around in Britannia (his home on wheels).

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On Mt. Vesuvius with Nick, Burt, Tim, Greg, Chris and I

We were back home for the month of July and then off on our trip of the year, a Mediterranean Cruise. What a trip! We flew to Barcelona and then sailed for 10-days to Malta, Sicily, Rome, Florence, Naples, Ibiza, Monte Carlo and then back to Barcelona. We spent a few days after the cruise in Barcelona to explore the city, and both of us fell in love with the friendly people, amazing food, phenomenal coffee and all the sites. We documented our trip through Facebook, but will have to created a travel page sharing our highlights from the trip (I’ll add this to my goals for early 2015). We had a great time with our friends Nick and Greg, Burt and Tim, and Michael and Ryan.

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NOLA Trip with Aakash

As our year started to wind down, we had a few notable happenings. Qantas started to fly their A380 direct to and from Dallas/Fort Worth, which we watched land for it’s inaugural flight. In early October, we headed to New Orleans to celebrate our friend, Aakash’s 21st birthday.

A&M Game Weekend
Trey, Chris and Tong in College Station

And then came Tong! In late October, we added a family member to our household, Tong. He is an exchange student from Thailand and will be with us until early June (when school is finished). While living with us, Tong has had a number of firsts including an A&M game, a trip to Austin, 1st Thanksgiving, 1st Christmas and 1st haircut. Tong is in 11th grade at Independence High School.

Sophie - Our New Family Member
Sophie – Our New Family Member

As we ended our year, the time had come for us to consider adding a new family member of the pooch variety. After checking out Operation Kindness website, we took a journey to meet a new pooch – who we didn’t adopt. Instead, sweet Sophie (Sophia) leapt into our hearts and she is now very much a part of our family. Even Max is coping with her being around (though I won’t go so far to say that he loves her … yet).

The Year That Was 2013

What an amazing year 2013 has been. After a rocky start with the lingering effects of loosing our dog Bosley on Christmas Day 2012, the year that has become 2013 turned out to be a pretty great year.

The year started with my mother and sister continuing their visit, and us taking a couple of road trips as part of their “experience America” tour, including a trip to New Orleans. Chris and I love that place, and it was the first time I had been back since Katrina devastated the city.

The biggest news of 2013 was Chris and I getting married. It was an amazing adventure as we trekked off to Vancouver and then continued our journey through Hong Kong to Australia. We had a great visit with my family and our friends. We also had time to get away from it all with a week in Palm Cove and found a new place to re-visit (we added it to the places we could retire to). Oddly enough, married life has not been that different to our previous 14 years of life together (which reinforces what our friends have said many times: “you are just like a married couple”). To me though, I still feel that it is different, but in that good way!

During the early part of the year, we also put a pool in. We both love it and very happy with the end product, even with some speed bumps in the journey to get it finished. We put this down to a learning experience, and blogged about some of the things you should look for when building a pool. All the issues have since faded away as we have spent countless hours enjoying our new backyard environment. We still need to do landscaping, but little steps.

2013 has also been a year of transitions, and we are very thankful for our friends who remain an important part of our lives. We are super thankful that we have developed some new friendships, and look forward to continuing to build those relationships. Over the past year, I have learned the true value of friendship, and plan on building on the foundations that we have established over the coming years.

Our year has also seen our continued relationship with our Little Brother, Trey develop. Both Chris and I have seen him grow up and he is has moved from being this cute shy kid, to an amazing young (tennis playing machine) man. Trey has become such a part of our lives and we both continue to be thankful for Big Brothers Big Sisters for making this possible.

Another huge change in our life this year was my transition to a permanent resident. As I explained in my earlier blog post, this “little” change has had a major impact on our lives. None of this would be possible without Chris, and we both often sit there blinking as if we are in a dream. The great thing is that it is not a dream!

A month or so ago, I made a post about the things that I am thankful for. Since making that public I have resolved that these are the important things that I should be focusing on in the new year. My next post will be about resolutions for the new year.

2013 has been a year of change, and for the most part, this has been a very positive year. This is the first year (in a long time) that I can report I’m content. And that, is a good thing.

 

Being Thankful

Different to other years, this year’s celebration of Thanksgiving Day seems to be more meaningful. As I reflect on the year that has gone by, the emotions are running higher than normal, and I realize that I have so much to be thankful for.

For my amazing husband for his love, support and being a part of my life for over 14 years. This year marks our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, and the fact that so much has changed in the USA to be able to say that is something to be very thankful for.

For the ongoing health of my family – both local and distant. While the year has had some experience health issues, everyone seems to be healthy and keeping their spirits high. Happy that my mother and sister (and aunt) will be returning to visit in 2014.

For our furry family members. Colby is slowing down a little, but he continues to bring us joy every day. Max has become a part of the family, and adds some humor to the household (yes, we laugh at him [he can’t read]). It is our first Thanksgiving without Bosley. I still miss him every day, and am thankful that he shared so many Thanksgivings with us. Our lives changed because of him.

For our friends – both old and new. We have been very fortunate to meet some amazing new people this year, and build on our friendships from years gone by.

For everyone that has touched our lives this past year, thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!