Do your dharma.

Today I was sitting at work thinking about completely non-work-related things like the fact that I need to move out of my house in the next month, leave for a trip home to the U.S., come back and wrap up all ties to Australia over the next month and a half and then move back to the U.S. and get married.  It should be a relaxing few months, eh?  And then I started thinking, “Hmm, Kat, what should you do for a living when you get home?”,  and “When will you get home after your several months of intended bike-touring honeymoon?”, and “Where will home be when you return?”, and then finally, “Do you actually qualify as an adult?”

This isn’t an unusual train of thoughts.  In fact, I think about it most days. And, it’s slowly driving me mad.

Truly.

Meanwhile, I am nearly done with my yoga immersions.  In a few weeks I will complete the last of them, which means I will have all the hours behind me to move forward into teacher training.  It also means that I’ve re-read the Bhagavad Gita and dabbled in the Yoga Sutras.  I’ve begun to more seriously meditate and I’m feeling pretty excited and energized by all of this.  I had a new break-through in opening up my psoas.  It was life-changing. Only serious yoga-types can say stuff like that unironically, which means – I’m in.

But with all these pieces of my life swirling around me, I still wonder what direction I should move in on the larger plane.  I’m still stewing over whether the current course of my life is what I’d like and what I’ve envisioned for myself.  It’s kind of funny that I was mulling over this today, because in an unrelated search of my gmail account, the following conversation, which took place several years ago, came up.  It felt symbolic and a bit sad.  Names have been changed to protect this innocent:

me: i just remembered talking to you last night

Mystery person: well i remembered it at the time

me: haha, i was asleep!

Mystery person: sorry it was so late, but you go to bed early

me: it was like 12:20

Mystery person: well, that’s when i worry the most about you

me: oh mystery person.  just calling to check in? making sure i’m safe in my bed?

Mystery person: no that’s not why i called if you remember

me: i don’t

Mystery person: because i was thinking about how different you would be if you lost your idealism, and that maybe being a teacher would help you with that because you wouldn’t be corrupted by monetary success

me: do you think i am very easily corrupted?

Mystery person: no i don’t think you are easily corrupted, but given enough time, I think you could get worn down

me: hmmm

Mystery person: and then one day you would just become part of the system
me: never!

Mystery person: ok, i was just worrying that’s all

I read this conversation, looked up from my computer and found myself in the office of a major oil and gas company, developing on of the largest coal seam gas to liquefied natural gas projects in the world.  I wondered if perhaps the mystery conversant was perhaps a bit clairvoyant.  I got a little squeamish in my seat.

So, I thought some more about it.  And yes, I work for a gigantic multi-national oil and gas company of the variety that I regularly skewered in papers and presentations throughout college and beyond.  But, on the other side of that,  I am part of a small and dedicated environmental team, working to ensure the project complies with all environmental laws and permits applicable to it.   That is a good thing right?  I actually care about this.  I don’t want to see this go pear-shaped.   I subscribe to the credo that you can’t say damn the man unless you can turn around and go off the grid tomorrow.  Until you’re there, you need to work with the man and get what you want through the proper channels.  And, I truly think that some of the best change comes from within.  So, am I doing what the idealist within me believes is right? Yes.

Should I continue on this track?  That’s a tougher question.

You see, I’ve learned in my yoga training about a concept called dharma, which was previously unknown to me. Dharma is the idea of doing what upholds the good and right in the world, and which an individual is uniquely suited to do.  It is what fits, feels right, and works in your life. For example, if your dharma is to be a garbage man, you’d go out and be the best you can be at it because that’s the right spot for you in the greater scheme.  Some people actually believe that when you do your dharma, the road opens up before you and what felt stuck suddenly begins to flow.

In that sense,  there is a part of me that feels I have always been in line with my dharma career-wise because I have been unusually lucky in my life. Doors have opened for me over and over again at just the right moment.  People have walked into my life and touched it perfectly, and then moved on.  But yet, I have a constant sense of being not fully committed to my plan.  So, is it my dharma?  Does it fulfill me and make me feel whole?  I’m not sure whether it does at the moment.  I know that I enjoy my job.  I feel like I have a path forward, an appropriate level of influence, and I am surrounded by extremely knowledgeable people to gain experience from.  I get to work in environmental law on a daily basis, I have ample opportunities to write (which makes me happy), and I communicate and work with all aspects of the project which makes me feel aware and engaged on so many levels.  So, why do I question my choices?  Does my sense of turmoil over working in oil and gas stem from anything inherent to it, or does it come from a place of internal judgement that I should be in a more creative, cutting-edge role?  That’s where I need to focus my analysis.

So, as I consider where to move when we go home and what my next steps will be (and the pressure is all on me here, as Rick is changing course completely and is totally flexible) I have to consider what is my dharma?  What makes me feel whole and right in the world? What inspires me and makes me passionate?  I have to also consider these questions without too much regard to monetary reward – which is hard for someone like me who often uses external metrics like grades, salary, and position as indicators of my own progress in lieu of more subtle things that are less easily measured.  I need also to, on the flip side, consider whether I am particularly judgemental about my personal career choices (despite being quite happy in my role) because of external influences such as my college experience, my liberal bias, and my own internal pressure to do something more selfless

I sometimes wonder why I impose these periods of deep reflection on my life in what appears to be two-year increments.  It’s insanely stressful, especially when you add a wedding and a transoceanic move into the mix, but I do feel most alive in these periods of massive change.  I do love the process of really stopping to consider what I want and how I want to achieve my goals.  I do like waking up in the morning with the knowledge that I’m walking away from what I know and rebuilding, again.  There is something cathartic and beautiful in the process of creation and destruction that goes with these moments.

As much as I want to settle a bit in my life, I feel most awake in a state of flux.  Is that my dharma?

The Edge

My blogging here, began with a goal to explore my relationships and emotions through my experiences in the natural world; a fitting lens through which to gaze, as it so markedly shapes my outlook.  But I’ve struggled with it!

Oddly, I have found that though my life in Brisbane takes place outside proportionately more than my life most other places has, I feel a shortage of reflective time to think on the world I move through each day. I’ve suffered a bit of writer’s block in the last few months. I’m not sure if the block was due to lack of time, lack of inward reflection, or the simple fact that I’m just happy.

I once interned with a former stand-up comedian during college.  When I asked him why he no longer did stand-up, he told me it was because he was finally happy.  I wondered at first if he was joking – an ironic answer to make me laugh and maybe see if he still had it – but he wasn’t.

Perhaps the creative muse lives, for many of us, in the seat of discontent.  I know mine has at times.  Why do people ponder their lives, their partners, their direction, if not a gnawing seed of unsettledness?  And isn’t that pondering at the root of creativity?  It seems to me to be.  But then I have been known to paint beautiful things only to cover them in black paint because I prefered its texture.  I’m a weirdo and it’s possible I have a dysfunctional muse.

That being said, I felt inspiration to write for the first time in months last weekend – and it came from something other than discontent.  I took my sisters up to northern Queensland to the city of Cairns for a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and to see the Daintree forest.  We spent the day on a small sailboat and swam with some beautiful reef sharks and sea turtles.  It was a bit choppy so the water wasn’t perfect, but I love the ocean and the chance to swim with creatures that never cross my path for want of feet.  It calms me to undulate with the movements of the water around me and offer myself up to a universe where I’m at the mercy of so many things beyond my control.  It seems to appropriately align the world – at least to my view.  I could spend my life in the water without complaint.

We had motored out to the reef in the morning, but as the afternoon drew to a close we clambered back into the boat and put it under sail for the ride home.  Now, I haven’t done a lot of sailing, but I am not a total novice either.  I raced a legitimate regatta on Lake Michigan once, and I had the bruises to show for it for weeks. After last weekend though, I wish it was a bigger part of my life because when the wind bowed the sails, and our masts leaned against its force I felt unchained.  My hips rolled with the boat into the swells and my body let go in a way I have felt in only a few other contexts; tearing down a powder run, riding my bike fast down the mountains of Colorado, and paddling big waves in a canoe.

On the Ocean Free

Maybe it’s the speed or the wind in my face that lights me up, but the feeling is as if my body is filling up with honey; pure bliss seeping through me with slow, gooey, goodness.  I say honey both for the fact that it feels like it creeps out from my core to my fingers with this languid viscousness that quells any mental chatter.  And because it sticks. You can call the feeling up after the fact and bask in the glow of it.  You’re in the right place, you’re flying,  you’re not scared, you’re on the edge – and loving it. I’ve heard the feeling referred to as flow.

It’s in those moments that I feel like a conduit between the world below me and something bigger. At those moments I’ve tapped into the source.  It’s a high like no other.

Lately I’ve been dancing with the edge of this sensation on a near-daily basis. I wish I could share it with the people around me because it feels so damn good.  I think I’ve been able to access it through a combination of a lot of yoga and the work I’ve been doing with my friend and ayurvedic doctor who is helping me to work with my diet to regulate my inflammation and moods.  I don’t really know what is happening, but I’m sticking by it.  I feel too good not to.

I have a sense of mental calm that I’ve never really experienced in any sort of sustained way before.  It’s like I’m accessing a better version of me, and one that I was keeping under wraps for a long, long time.  I realize I sound like a new age hippy and I don’t mind if you laugh at me for this post. Whatever. I will do weird breathing exercises and eat dirt twice a day if I can continue to feel awesome indefinitely.

But seriously, I feel so good that I worry I may become a happy jerk. You know the type. The person whose rose-colored glasses make you want to shoot them?  I’ve encountered the type before and I have come close to pulling the trigger on them.  I mean, who do they think they are with their preachy radiance and tranquility?

Sadly, I think I pulled a happy jerk move just recently trying to share my experience with someone who wasn’t open to it for various reasons.  Long story.  Needless to say, I think it exhibited a lack of compassion on my part, and I need to watch my predisposition to be the uncompassionate happy jerk.

I don’t know. In times of great joy I think it’s worthwhile to remind yourself of the fleetingness of the feelings we experience. Which is, I guess , why it’s so tempting to overshare one’s jubilance.  I’m going to work on just observing the feelings and being happy with the little slice of world before me.  Like sadness, these feelings are just waves we each ride.  Take it as long as you can ride it and hope more comes your way.  I’m riding this wave for all that I can.   I feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my skin, and goddamn, it’s amazing.

(P.S. I realize that in the very act of posting this I may be jinxing this.  But it’s still worth sharing.)

The Seat of Exhaustion

I’m writing from the seat of exhaustion – where exhaustion starts, ends, and returns to.  I am there, literally and metaphorically.   My body’s aversion to gravity, while never very strong, is weaker today than is typical.  It feels as though my skin is sinking off my bones, seeking its angle of repose: a horizontal pool of Kat on the ground.

This deep weariness is rooted, as weariness often is, in imbalance.  My scales have weighted heavily towards work in recent weeks, but that alone wouldn’t have brought me to this place.  It was the relentless pursuit of fun, on top of the imbalanced work, that has brought me here.

Last night I stood in an outdoor amphitheater in my polka-dotted work dress, sipping Bundy and coke and listening to Mumford & Sons.  It was a little bittersweet as I had bought the tickets as a surprise for Rick, but knowing his work schedule can be so unforgiving, I told him in advance of the show so he could plan to be here.  Nonetheless, this week came around, and he was unavoidably stuck in Cunnamulla, Queensland drilling holes in the ground while I was left quietly singing the words to songs that have been a recurring soundtrack for the last few years of my life, surrounded by masses of that unique brand of concert-goer who stands, arms crossed, face stern, assessing a show through thick-rimmed glasses, rather than enjoying it.

That’s not to say the show wasn’t fun – it was lovely.  My feet in the grass of the outdoor amphitheater, my friend Krystle laughing with me at the stodginess of the crowd, my heart cascading up and around the crescendos of banjo and lyrical whirligigs.  It was beautiful.  When the show ended, Krystle and I retired to her apartment and drank guava drinks and chatted into the night, before I teetered back to my yellow steed and let her guide me home through the night.  I bumbled around my house, exhausted, watering plants and cooking eggs as I had skipped dinner, and then collapsed into my bed for a few brief hours.

This morning, as they do, the birds began to squawk. . . at 4:30.  It’s hard to emphasize enough how god awful the caterwaul of the avian beings here really is.  It’s like they were put on Earth to destroy peace and happiness, and instead, replace it with a persistent rage that the laws of evolution denied this continent a branch of the Felidae tree.  Please, someone import a tiger up in here to shut these birds up!

But, the beauty of being awake at the crack of dawn is the chance to enjoy the crack of dawn.  I have been doing a lot of enjoying it, recently.  I wake up and immediately head (pajama clad)  to the porch where I uncover all my plants from the blankets and grocery bags that I use each night to protect them from possum teeth.  I then wander down the steps to the garden I cleared in front of the house and water my seedlings, beans, and the native garden that I put on top of the hill where it’s dry.  It’s a pleasant way to start the morning, dwelling barefoot in dark loamy soil of the garden, assessing the growth of my little shoots and stalks and trying to figure out how the whole thing works.  I can’t wait until Rick finishes building my greenhouse in the back where I can keep them protected.

And with that description, it seems the exhaustion has finally caught up with me.  I didn’t even get a chance to talk about our surprise surfing trip last weekend or the beach, or the debates, or anything else I’d hoped to touch on.   So, we’ll have to hope I have the stamina next go round.

Goodnight friends.

Global Warming: Are We All Screwed?

Left: August 21, 1985. Right: August 29, 2011. The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest landlocked body of water, and it’s getting bigger. In the past couple of decades, heavy rains in the greater Volga Basin have greatly increased the incoming flow from the Volga River, the Caspian’s primary source of water. These images show a small portion of the shoreline. In the 2011 image, coastal settlements have been flooded, displacing inhabitants and shutting down industrial facilities.

The other night, as I lay in the darkness awaiting sleep’s arrival, R’s voice broke the quiet “Do you think we’re really all f*cked, Kat?”

I paused, wondering at the context of the statement.  My first thought, without any context to base it on, was  “Yes.  Yes, we’re all f*cked.”  But, I cautiously asked him what he meant.

“You know, with global warming.  Is it too late to change it?”

I rolled over to face him in the dark and sighed. “Probably.” I replied.

As we both let that fact sink in a bit, I felt uneasy.  The fact that global climate change, as it’s more properly called, has fallen out of the public consciousness isn’t news.  Recent research from the Pew Research Center shows a 13% decrease in those who consider climate change to be a top campaign priority.  It ranks at a dismal 22 in voter’s lists of policy issues they want addressed by the next president, below such nebulous topics as “moral breakdown” and “crime.”

I can’t really speculate as to the reasons for this decline, but Sara Peach, a professor at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill has written that google trend data show that searches for “unemployment” have eclipsed “climate change” and “global warming”  since 2008.  This corresponds with the 2008 financial crisis and a subsequent re-ordering of priorities away from climate change and towards the ongoing recession.

Though we can see that the issue of climate change has fallen from the collective consciousness in recent years, I can’t help but observe the stirrings of a re-emergence of the issue here and there.  On January 13th, a pilot cap and trade program was announced for the Chinese cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing and Shenzhen, and the provinces of Hubei and Guangdong.  This follows in the footsteps of similar programs in the European Union, and a voluntary cap and trade scheme  that operated in the U.S. from 2003-2010, called the Chicago Climate Exchange.  This appears to indicate that while Americans may not be thinking too hard about climate change, the Chinese are and they’re willing to experiment with some methods to combat it.

Yet, I sense that Americans, though they might not be talking about it, are sensing that things around them are changing.  Many parts of the United States have seen unseasonably warm temperatures this winter, which has had people raising the question of what exactly is going on?   While some suggest that this is an indication of global warming, a more likely cause is the increasing occurrence of extreme temperature events, a consequence of climate change that was predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as early 1990.

So, what is happening?  And are we all f*cked?  If we are, then do we need to be asking ourselves some serious moral questions about how to confront the challenges that climate change will present us?

Over the next few posts I want to explore some of my own thoughts on the matter, and would love to have feedback from people as to what other issues I should research and discuss.

The Essence

This had to be shared. Whoever put this together did a great job!  I wish they had more video from  the long and remote trips Manito-wish offers, but this really captures a good portion of why people love this place and keep coming back.

Watching it made me very nostalgic for my time at camp.  While this video focuses on the fun and learning that happens at camp, my personal take on it is that the real learning comes on trail.  I can remember my first year at camp, unaware that we even took a camping trip, let alone for three days (I was 11, so this was back in 1994 or something and it was a big deal to me.)  I was terrified.  I had never been camping outside of my backyard, and in my backyard I was scared of raccoons.  But before long I was packed, given a talk about how sometimes girls get their periods on trail for the first time, and pointed towards an orange canoe with some unknown, antiquated looking name on it.  Thankfully for me, my mom had taught me how to stern a canoe from an early age and though hardly anyone in our group could steer the boats, I could.  This made me a hit with my leaders, and even though we got in late, crashed a campsite somewhere on the Manito-wish River, and many girls were unhappy, I glowed inside.  THIS was cool.

The next year when I returned I did a 6-day trip.  I was in heaven.  I distinctly remember that it rained incessantly, but one morning we got out and it was mercifully only drizzling– there was a fog over the lake and we paddled out into the rising mists on glassy waters.  Again, I thought, now THIS is cool.  I get it.

We ended up sharing a campsite that night with another trip group, which was good because our fire-making skills were not cutting it in the rain.  But the leader of the other group told us that the previous summer she had done a 5-week trip in Canada (we called the trip a “Canuck”) and she helped show us how to make a fire so we could all cook dinner.  She smiled out from under the hood of her raingear and she was genuinely happy to be outside, cooking dinner in the rain.  I was inspired.

Following those summers, I went on to do a 2-week paddling trip in Quetico Provincial Park with a group of girls that I still keep in touch with today.  We paddled hard, we portaged a ton, and we all giggled at each other and marveled at each other’s strengths.

The next summer, I did a Canuck as a 16-year old.  5-weeks of camping in remote Northern Saskatchewan with 4 other kick-ass girls and a leader who seriously changed the way I saw the world.  We were a good bunch who liked to challenge ourselves, work hard, and test our limits.  I learned how to cook creatively over a campfire, how to bushwack a portage with a compass and a map, to to raise a tarp and sail on a 100-mile long lake, and how to paddle whitewater, expeditionary style. I learned how to be quiet, to meditate over paddle strokes, and to ride the windswept rollers on turbulent lakes.  I came home from that summer tanned, lean, and different.  Stronger.  More self-assured.

The girls on that trip became some of the people who I most related to in the world.  We planned to do a Staff Instructor’s Course (S.I.C.) in 2-years time. We went back to Manito-wish as staff and spent a summer passing forward some of the skills and lessons we had been taught as campers.

In the time that passed between my Canuck and my S.I.C., some things changed in my life.  I applied to colleges and the process taught quite a bit.  I remember sitting in a dorm at Dartmouth with my host who told me ” I love it here, it makes the Friday nights that I stayed home to do schoolwork seem worth it.”

To me, this was a life-altering revelation. I had never stayed home on a Friday to do homework. I had always done well in school growing up and I never  learned good study habits as a result.  I was in the advanced track throughout school, placed at the top in standardized tests, won scholarships, but didn’t know how to simply do homework or study for a test.  I was a mess of unmet potential.  I had been resting on my laurels as an intelligent kid since elementary school, without putting in the time to really improve myself.

This realization led me down a strange path involving a lot of re-evaluating.  I imposed a grounding on myself, staying in for nearly six weeks instead of socializing.  I tried out for a play and got the lead.  I did my homework and did well.  I started bringing home the grades I should have been from the beginning.  In this quest for perfection, however, I stopped eating.  I got compliments and someone even suggested I consider modeling.  I lost sight of my priorities– big time.  I deferred from Macalester.  I took a year off to go figure out what was happening.

The following summer I headed out on my S.I.C., to spend 55-days paddling from Northern Saskatchewan to Arviat, a small Inuit village on Hudson’s Bay.  I hadn’t completely come to terms with some of the things that had happened in my life, but I knew that I always felt most like myself on trail.  I spent 7.5 weeks of that summer in the tundra and taiga.  I was challenged mentally and physically as I had never been before.  Worrying about my weight was an afterthought– I was worried about whether I could shoot a polar bear if I had to.   I was filleting Northern pike.  I was fending off the ever-present buzz of black flies.  I was portaging a canoe blown sideways by the unmitigated tundra wind.   I was reminded of my smallness and impermanence.  I was healing.

I came back to work at Manito-wish for 6-years.  I could have stayed longer.  Every year there I learned more about people, nature, and myself.  I never stopped growing.

Everyone has their own story about Manito-wish, but the uniting feature of those stories is that through Manito-wish people figure out who they are and what makes them tick.  They learn to appreciate the natural world and it’s intricacies.  They grow into good people.

Extraction Distraction

It’s 4:41 am, tomorrow, for most of my readers.  Yes, that’s right.  I’m coming to you from the future.  And let me say one thing about being in the future, it can get a little lonely at times.  Times like 4:41 am.

I woke up from a dream that I want to call a bad dream, but was really more of a confusing dream.  And then, well, I laid in bed for about 2 hours before getting up to read the New York Times.  Gail Collins has a way of making me feel connected to home – like she’s the practical, liberal family friend who shares a conspiratorial laugh with you when the dinner party gets a little too politically conservative and you’re not sure whether to put up a fight or go do the dishes. I love that about her.  Especially at 4:41 am on the other side of the planet.

There’s been a lot happening recently.  Like, well, moving to Australia, finding a place to live, applying for jobs, and all that you would expect to go with that.  But there’s been more too.  I won’t go into all the details, but some recent events have gotten me into a reflective mood about what I want and who I am.  I think Australia may be a great opportunity for me to change direction in certain parts of my life – and I am pretty excited to begin.

I ran a 5k with R and his company yesterday.  It was insane.  There were so many people that you couldn’t exactly run, but you could shuffle.  So, I alternately shuffled and sprinted a 5k.  I don’t think I PR’d.

Anyway, the 5k was a bit different than in the states because so many companies in Brisbane supported teams to run it.  Huge teams.  People are so much more fitness oriented, and group-oriented.   There’s a very distinct pack mentality.  But, back to the running.  Here in Oz, they don’t give out t-shirts to identify all the members of a team.  Nope.  They give out singlets.  Ooh yeah.  Sexy singlets.   Sexy singlets with names like Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Peabody, Hancock…

If you’re not aware of who these companies are, let me bring you up to speed.  Ever heard the song “Paradise” by John Prine?  Well, it laments the loss of a boy’s childhood paradise in Appalachia to coal mining.  Coal mining carried out by Peabody.

Or Rio Tinto? Well they’ve been associated with espionage in China and the company is named after a river in Spain that runs red from runoff of nearby copper and gold mines.   The Government of Norway officially divested from Rio Tinto saying the following:


Exclusion of a company from the Fund reflects our unwillingness to run an unacceptable risk of contributing to grossly unethical conduct. The Council on Ethics has concluded that Rio Tinto is directly involved, through its participation in the Grasberg mine in Indonesia, in the severe environmental damage caused by that mining operation.[66]

Kristin Halvorsen, Norweigan Minister of Finance (Wikipedia)


BHP Billiton?  Well, they have run into many of the same criticisms.  In South Australia, their Roxby Downs uranium mine gets it’s water for free from the Great Artesian Basin.  This is the driest state in Australia and has suffered from serious droughts in the last 5 years, so it seems questionable to give free water to a mining company, but it happens through the Roxby Downs Indenture Act, the same act which allows the company to override the South Australian Aboriginal Heritage Act.  The company is also involved in some extremely controversial water projects aimed at providing inland mining operations with a consistent water source.

But enough of this dredging up dirt (oh, for more on dredging check out this article on the Gladstone LNG Project), my point is that Brisbane, and Australia in general, is a superhub of natural resource extraction.  Based on my reading, this is both fueled by China and in many cases funded by China.  Of course, the companies I just mentioned aren’t Chinese.  They are British and Australian and have links to Canada.  They’re multinationals.  They are many headed hydra with obscene negotiating powers based on their size, their promises of economic boons to local communities, and their multinational status.

I thought about this as I ran this 5k yesterday.  Good people all around me were running for charity in their Rio Tinto singlets and I’m guessing based on how crowded it was, that a lot of money was raised.  That’s fantastic.  But what of the larger issues?  All these good people working for Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Peabody – are they thinking critically about the environmental impacts of their work?  Is their work done with an eye to the precautionary principle?

There is much to learn here in Australia, both about the culture and about environmental ethics here, and I don’t want to make any snap judgments on the culture, but I find it worrisome being in such a pro-extraction milieu.   I hope I can find work that doesn’t compromise my environmental ethics.  I also don’t want to work in the relatively cavalier environment of extraction because there is significantly more racism and sexism there than elsewhere in Australia – already a fairly racist country. R relayed to me that when he was doing  driver training for work, his instructors entertained the class by sharing lewd and racist jokes throughout.  Incredibly offensive jokes that I won’t repeat.  So, it’s kind of a different world here and I am hoping I can find my place.

There is some good news on the horizon though – I found a yoga studio that will let me do cleaning around the studio in exchange for classes.  Score!!!

These are the things I think about at 4 am when I can’t sleep.