Days 62-66 – The King and I and J.P. Morgan

On Monday night I saw The Giver with some girls from the bible study group. I really like them. They’re just honest, real people of faith and I enjoy our conversation. The Giver was a beautiful film. It made me cry and not many films can do that. It makes you think about life and the human experience. After the movie we went to a place across the street for crepes!

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Nadia and Karyn with their chocolate drizzled art food

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Mine was ham, spinach, and feta.

On Tuesday I ended up writing a lot of long emails to my family and friends including this one which I sent to Cheryl Young:

To Cheryl

I’m loving Australian life. It’s so much fun to be a foreigner in this city because I don’t feel like a foreigner. I’m meeting some native Australians, but mostly international people. It was surprising to meet so many non-Australian people when I first came here, but now I’m used to the cosmopolitan feel of the city. Sydney is such a beautiful city full of culture, history, and natural beauty and I feel much more at home here than I ever did in LA. City life is a new experience for me since I’ve always been a nature-loving, small-town girl, but now I’m discovering my love for the city life. I’m able to explore and appreciate the area more than LA since I actually have free time here. Every week it seems like I discover some new delightful niche! I also go out with friends sometimes and have experienced a taste of the nightlife culture. To be honest I’ve consistently had a really good time at the few bars and nightclubs that I’ve visited even though the darkness of that lifestyle is very real.

God has been teaching me a ton over the past two months. My glimpses into the party culture here have made the pain and confusion of that lifestyle much more real. Since the people I hang out with are mostly non-Christian I can no longer gloss over these individuals or discount their behaviour as mere rebellion or youthful foolishness. No, the spiritual warfare and lies of the enemy distract them from the Love of their Creator. The focus of this culture is transience, living for the moment, and forgetting about pain. Each soul and each forgotten truth must be fought for in, not just a battle, but a war. There is no simple remedy for a lifetime of pain and believed lies, but I can still continue to love and relate to these people even as I am accountable to God. This growth has made me so grateful for parents who introduced me to Jesus and for friends who discipled me and continue to encourage my relationship with the Lord.

I don’t pretend that I haven’t struggled with rebellion and dabbled in alternative ways of thinking since I’ve been here. My primary struggle is not excessive drinking or an obsession with acceptance by the opposite sex, but rather a fundamental shift in thinking which would condone such behaviour. I’ve done my “experiment in criticism” (never read it but it’s on my list) already, and one could say that my time so far in Australia has been my “experiment in hedonism.” For the first time in my life, I have leisure time and outlets to enjoy this leisure time in all the wrong ways. As a rather impetuous individual who always searches for novelty in experience, I am tempted to say “what the heck” and venture into situations which are neither healthy nor entirely safe. It is not my actions which have been necessarily wrong, but my heart. I am reminded that “the human heart is the most deceitful or things, and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?” I am learning that my heart’s desires can lead me astray. I really do not understand it, and neither can I control its leadings. I still maintain responsibility for my actions, however, and pray constantly for God’s protection and wisdom. He can make within us new desires (Psalms 37:4) and to this promise I hold fast.

This week I got in several good workouts which felt amazing! I love the challenge of physical fitness and the incredible mood lift that I get after exercise. I think that exercise and health will be something I gain more discipline for throughout my life. I’m going to be one of those super-grannies that does yoga every day and can still piggyback her nine-year-old grandson.

On Tuesday I skipped out on my HCI class and went dancing instead. Good life choices. (Recall, if you will, the five reasons why this is a terrible class. If you’ve forgotten please refer to last week’s post)

I met my friend Bekkah downtown and we went to Pancakes on the Rocks (Trip #4) before the dance. Just as divine as ever.

The dance took place at a bar called “The Basement” which is very close to Circular Quay. The dance floor is actually in the basement, but they also have an upstairs portion which charmingly is called “The Upstairs.” This place was simply fantastic. For $8 you can dance to a live band on a not-too-crowded floor for two hours! And this happens every week on Tuesday nights! Did I mention how much I love Sydney? I also love the fact that this discovery provides me with a moral justification for leaving my HCI class early each week for the remainder of the semester. Since I was new, I didn’t dance as much as I would have liked, but I still enjoyed listening to the band and dancing a few songs with Bekkah.

We got to know a gentleman named John who has a very interesting life story. He is a sailor and he recently arrived in Sydney via Tall Ship. Yes, this guy had boarded a ship in America (Texas I think) and sailed around the world for the past 8 months before finally making it to Australia. According to John, his Australian friend had asked him to be a groomsman in his wedding, but John couldn’t afford the plane fare to Sydney. The wedding wasn’t for a year though and this was more than enough time to sail to Australia if you weren’t in a hurry. From what I understood, John had learned the craft of sailing straight out of high school despite growing up over eight hours from the nearest body of water. It may sound like a tall tale, but John looked the part I didn’t doubt him. He told us that he was currently working at the tall ships in Sydney running tours for kids. Dude, you totally need to travel abroad. You meet the craziest people….

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On Thursday I met two girls from Macquarie, Sydney and Bethany, and my friend Kelsey and we saw The King and I at the Opera House! First we had a nice meal at the Opera Bar (OK not so nice; I had pizza), but it was still fun to sit along the waterfront and share our excitement about the show.

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Bethany and her sampler tray of beautiful food.

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The King and I was one of my Grandma Umlauf’s favourite musicals and I have happy memories of sitting on her giant water bed watching it with her. We’d sing “Shall we dance” and laugh about “et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…” This time, as an adult, I noticed many more serious themes in the musical alongside the gilt costumes and Anna’s enviable full-skirt dresses. At the end of the show, which was spectacular, the guy who played the King addressed the audience and announced that tonight they had a special guest in the audience. The CEOs of J.P Morgan for Australia and Thailand were both there, and the CEO from Thailand was actually the great-grandson of the Prince who succeeded the dying King of Siam in real life! I suspected that the The King and I was based a true story, but this news made it 10x more real. How cool is that!? Go abroad, I swear these things will happen to you too.

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Inside the Joan Sutherland Theater

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After the show I took Kelsey to the Ivy since she wanted to see what it was all about. We didn’t stay long, but my second experience was pretty good even completely sober. It is certainly a ritzy place. One of my friends who has experiences with such things told me that I’ll be disappointed with every other nightclub I ever go to. Where is the rooftop pool? Where are the private cabanas and the leather furniture? Guess this is the high life?

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Saw this on our trip home. Neat way to decorate an alleyway.

On Friday the only exciting thing that I did was Zumba. We had this amazing woman for an instructor who could shimmy like no one I’ve ever seen. Maybe someday my core will be able to vibrate that quickly, but right now it’s not happening.