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Baseball’s Back!

Baseball is finally back.

I returned to AT&T Park last week with my team (once again) being the reigning World Champions.

Even though the team has changed, there’s something about this field. It’s one of my favourite places in the world to spend an evening.

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What’s More American than Guns? (Pt 1)

I have never held a gun.
I have never learned how they work.
Up until now, I haven’t wanted to know.

But this week, I have an opportunity to get trained by experienced marksmen and range-masters. It’s something that has never been open to me before, and I’ve decided to take them up on the offer. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I am interested to see what it’s all about and to understand more of my adopted country in the process.

The little I know about guns, I learned from TV

If there’s one thing everyone knows is that, stereotypically, Americans love guns. They love the flag, their constitution, and their perceived ‘right’ to access these weapons. But that idea of Americans is a far cry from what I see in the Bay Area. We’re a little more liberal in these parts, but guns are still currency.

The extent of my knowledge about guns comes from watching a tonne of Law & Order, with little comprehension of what “Glock 9mm” and “semi-automatic” and “cop killer bullets” actually means. But now I work in law enforcement. I see the outcome of what three bullets to the forehead looks like when I accidentally collect someone else’s photocopying.

Things are quite different in Australia. Following the massacre at Port Arthur and the one much closer to home at Strathfield, things changed. The Federal and State Governments cracked down on gun ownership, severely limiting their availability and use. For me, guns were only associated with murder. How anyone found any enjoyment in their use was worse than distasteful, and those folk were to be distrusted.

This lack of exposure to weapons (and I’d argue that this is a good thing) always made me nervous when there were guns around. A family friend with a penchant for hunting weaponry and a rather unstable mental history also reinforced this for me (and we will never get back those four horrific hours he made us all watch footage of his buffalo hunt in Montana). And I certainly never took the touristy option in South East Asia to shoot an Uzi.

So to go from a nation with an enviable record on guns to one with a massive problem is a stark contrast. Now I see guns on a daily basis at my place of work, and am surrounded by a group of smart men and women who can use them on my behalf should it ever come to that. But at first, just their heavy holsters made me so uncomfortable I found myself scratching my skin with discomfort anytime I saw them. Now? I don’t even think about it. It’s my new normal. Welcome to America!

But have you tried it?

But for years, when I had discussed my stance on guns with others, some would say things along the lines of “you really can’t have an opinion until you stand at a range and pull that trigger for yourself.” And I always thought they made a reasonable point: how could I stand up and have such definitive and unyielding ideas about guns and gun control, yet I’ve not had any experience with them?

So I jumped at the opportunity.

I think it’s going to be like…

As I type this, I don’t know what I will think or how I anticipate I will feel when I step out on to the range. Contemplating this in my lounge room, I can only conjure up whispy ideas and dream-like imaginings. But honestly, there’s a part of me that has always wanted to know.

Will I secretly enjoy the rush of adrenalin?
Will the whole experience make me ill?
Will I be indifferent?
Could this even be something I am good at?

I always thought that if I had an opportunity to learn more about them and to experience it for myself, that I would take it. And so, once again, I am choosing adventure and experience.

But what if you had a chance to get closer, to get more informed, to experience another world for yourself? Would you take it?

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Freshening Up

For a long time, this space has needed a makeover. And not just a cosmetic one. A down to the bones type one.

For a while, it hasn’t felt as welcoming or as inclusive of me with a person of ever evolving opinions and tastes, and that’s because I was afraid of saying what I really thought. Why? Because like every evolving human, I change my mind. And in this new online world, your thoughts on subjects from when you were younger and far less experienced are there, searchable, for all to see. That makes me uncomfortable. But is it the perception of being labelled a hypocrite? Perhaps it is that, in part. But perhaps it’s also about the unseen, unenunciated labels I have placed on myself and the categories I have put myself in. I’m not what I once was.

I want to keep writing, but I also want to showcase more than just my thoughts and opinions on living a life in a different country. I want for The Rebecca Project to be a space that reflects more than just expat issues. I want to share more of my varied interests. And I want it to still be a space for me to evolve and develop as a human.

Quote Andy Warhol

From my window, I watch the big, puffy clouds roll in over the bay. They’re ever-changing, evolving, too. The deciduous trees are starting to gain their first few green buds. The air is still crisp (for the Bay Area). So this is a spring clean, of sorts — both internally and externally. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of it.

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Back in California

Little has changed in the Bay Area since I’d been gone — aside from rents that have increased exponentially, something everyone complains about on a daily basis here. And really, the rents are ridiculous.

Getting settled always takes longer than anticipated. But I knew what to expect.

I’ve taken plenty of walks, shot plenty of time lapse down by the bay. Started my new job. Mapped out the new projects for 2015. Taken a roadtrip up the coast. Reconnected with old friends. Started to catch up on the overdue obligations. It’s a interesting time.

It’s still home.
One of my homes.
And it’s nice to be back.

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Make It Count

When I sat down to write this afternoon, I felt overwhelmed by all I wanted to say. So much has happened, but where to start? What did I want this to be about? What did I actually want to say? What can you say that isn’t hollow and superficial after you’ve seen something incredibly traumatic?

I wanted to say how sorry I am for those taken hostage yesterday in Martin Place, and their family and friends, who are trying to come to terms with such a violent act.
How much it hurts knowing that two people died, and that the gunman clearly targeted women.
How thankful I am for those in the emergency services who put their lives at risk to help people every single day.
For the cautious reporting of the ABC and AAP.
For the backlash against that horrendous behemoth of a publication called the Daily Telegraph, and (more importantly) the total arseholey-ness of Rupert Murdoch.
And for the solidarity of Sydneysiders who are living the virtues of tolerance and respect through the vocal #illridewithyou hashtag.

Here’s a snippet from Tessa Kum, the woman who started the hashtag after seeing an act of kindness reported on social media:

‘It just seemed that a simple way of promoting that kindness would be to say if anybody catching public transport didn’t feel comfortable just because of what they were wearing, I would sit next to them, so they weren’t alone.

If anything, for any horrible reason should happen, they’re not alone. I don’t think it’s anything that needs to be restricted to Muslims or religious garb—this could go for anybody who has a visible presence which automatically singles them out for attention.’

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But the recent felling of a young cricket star — Phillip Hughes — in the middle of the SCG, and the emotional fall out from it, it’s always a timely reminder that we have no idea what is going to happen in our lives. And 2014 has been full of such events — losing two Malaysian Airlines planes, the Brown twins dying, Crimea/Ukraine/Russia, 276 girls abducted in Nigeria, the deaths of Robin Williams and Maya Angelou and Gough Whitlam — to make you sit up and declare “Enough killing time! Let me just get shit done for I may not have tomorrow”.

I scribbled that on a piece of paper this morning, and now I’m going forth and achieving the things I need and wanted to today in a city that is safe, capable and measured.

Life is short.
I’d best get cracking.

PS: He’s a beautifully writen tribute to Katrina Dawson, one of the two people slain in the siege.

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How is it Almost December?

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As quickly as November was ushered in, it has been rushed out. Things seem to be moving faster now, and I find myself worrying again about time. Where did this year go? How is it possible we’re a month today from Christmas? I’m running out of time.

Healing

But recovering from this broken wrist has forced me to slow down, to sit. To ponder. I’ve spent mornings reading, enjoyed lunches at my mate’s cafe, afternoons writing and walking the dog, and casual dinners with friends. I tried to listen to what my body needed, and taking care of myself has reignited my creative spark.

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There’s a real buoyancy and energy I’ve felt as I’ve progressed through the stages of healing. I’m still months off regaining reasonable movement in my wrist, but it’s slowly coming along. Each time I am able to do something for the first time again, I take note. Three seconds of downward dog? Check. Putting my hand on my hip? Check. I am feeling reenergised in a way that had eluded me before. I can’t put my finger on why, but I’m not questioning it. More please!

The Land

This land recharges my spirit in a way that I so desperately needed. The overexposed summer days. The infinite blues of the sky. The cool green/blue waters. The smell of an impending thunderstorm. The purple Jacaranda flowers carpeting the green lawns. The searing heat with kiln-like winds blowing in from western NSW. The colours are the first thing I miss when I’m overseas. They cannot be duplicated, replicated.

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The New Year

I’m returning to the Bay Area in the new year, but not before I have my fill of blinding sunshine and roasting hot sands of summer. I am looking forward to going back, but know that it’ll be harder to leave Sydney, my family and friends this time around. It gets infinitely harder every time.