The worldwide Augustana College experience

Houston we have a problem….




Wednesday was “Party Day” at the Sydney Observatory; day -to -day tours and events in the museum stopped while approximately 120 ambitious youngsters participate in numerous astronomical activities.  Rocket launch, an extensive paper airplane station, and face painting were set up outside, along with a harp player and gelato (ice cream meets sorbet) stand.  Inside, kids could watch a 3D movie, look through telescopes, build spacecrafts with legos, or venture down into the basement…


Ha. I was in the basement dressing hooligans up as little astronauts and snapping their picture!  I created an “outer-space” backdrop by hanging long pieces of black fabric from the ceiling and velcrowing cut outs of the Earth, Moon, and Mars to it.  I had arranged my 7 space suits and neatly lined up the matching white boots (they were UGs).  Kids and parents loved it! I asked each astronaut where they would visit first in space—most said the moon—and then I reminded them about the lack of gravity and encouraged them to act like they were floating…some even tried to moonwalk! Parents were tickled to capture this on camera.

Well, everything was under control until two little hyperactive banchees (probably 8 and 10 years old) started getting rowdy and kicking each other.  Their mother was preoccupied with her newborn baby (it could have only been 1-2 months old) so I passively suggested that astronauts probably don’t fight in space.  They completely ignored me, or perhaps didn’t hear me over the loud space sound effects they were making.  Suddenly, both boys crashed to the ground and the younger boy smacked his skull on the hard floor.  It was terrible sound—the kind that makes your head hurt by just hearing it.  He immediately started shrieking and tears gushed from his eyes.  His mother shoved the little baby into my arms.  Now, the thing is, I do NOT do well with children this young—I get extremely nervous and usually avoid holding them at all costs.  I now have my arms extended holding this small Australian baby—who is also wailing—under her armpits.  Just when I thought the situation could not get any worse, another round of overly excited kids came bellowing down the stairs.  As they charged through the room they obviously took little notice to the delicacy of my  backdrop and yanked the black fabric from the ceiling!  The Moon, Earth, and Mars also came crashing to the ground!  Chaos. I closed my eyes tightly and smiled to myself.  No worries, right?

Alright…in other news…a “quick” recap of week 2 down under…

Saturday (after my Friday night at Manly): I discovered Centennial park running. A group of us spent time at a Jazz festival downtown—drank wine and ate cheese—seemed like the thing to do? Later that night a group of girls headed out to Kings Cross—the “red light” district/Las Vegas of Sydney. Craziness. 

Sunday: We spentthe day at Bronte Beach—smaller quieter than Bondi and Manly, but has the same wicked waves.  Bronte also has a salt-water pool tucked in the rocks close to the coast. On the way home, Court and I tried a new restaurant—Fine Thai House.  We were skeptical since our last oriental experience turned out poorly, but this dinner was delicious. We’ll be making many trips back!

Monday: I sat through a marketing meeting in the afternoon than did a little shopping afterwards. There is still no sign of my luggage. For dinner, Robbin, Court, Emily and I went to Leichardt (a prominently Italian suburb) for some pasta! Bar Italia, the restaurant, also had delicious coffee and gelato.

Tuesday: On my way to the Observatory I realized I could not find my wallet but tried not to freak out. At work, I spent time preparing for tomorrow’s party day. Everyone was very busy and seemed very disorganized—I like chaos.  Needless to say Australian Astronomers do things differently than American business people.  However, at the end of the day everything was done and everyone left happy.  After work I met Rob and Court at Manly Beach.  Later, I found my wallet on our kitchen table.

Wednesday: Party Day! I had dinner with a Jackie, Katie, Cassie, and Amy.  We had our hearts set on Hard Rock Café—found it only to be closed down.  We ate at a place called Macchiato where we were approached my a man dressed like Jesus with a sign that said “Bring Bush Back.”  This is the first opposition to Obama I’ve experienced. 

Thursday:  I was running late for work.  As I stood on the corner of the street waiting to cross, my bus approached on the other side.  Knowing that it will probably be another 15 minutes until the next bus, I decided to make a dash for it regardless of the “don’t walk sign” and forgetting about the cars driving on the left thing.  Dumb. A car slammed on its brakes and its horn.  I think this is the first time I have heard a horn in Australia—it must be part of the “no worries” attitude.  I felt bad and slightly embarrassed, but was relieved to catch the bus and make it to work on time.
At work I drafted a brief for my project proposal.  I had to rewrite it three times. Welcome to the real world.  On the way back from work I spotted a large building with the United Airlines logo across the top.  Desperate to get my suitcase and belongings back, I wandered inside hoping someone would be able to help me.  After taking the elevator to the fifth floor, I awkwardly waited outside closed doors (you needed a code to enter).  A man in his mid 50s exited and promptly stated no one would be able to help me—“this is administration…. call our 800 number…” Well, this just about did it for me–I was on the brink of getting emotional—he must of sensed it because by the end of our conversation he ended up giving me his personal office number and told me to call him tomorrow. I was left with renewed hope, but still without clothes.

Thursday night I went shopping. Again. Court and I were on a mission to find me some jeans for the upcoming holiday weekend.  Well, the “skinny jean phenomenon” has taken over Australia.  Ha. The pants Court and the two salespeople talked me into getting were 2 sizes smaller than what I first selected.  I justified the un-Kate like purchase by telling myself it’s part of the “cultural experience” and reminding myself that United was paying for them…. and my sister would be proud.  Either way, I was ready for the weekend…

5 Responses to “Houston we have a problem….”

  1. Katie,
    You have real talent. Kathleen Parker has nothing on you. You should be a syndicated columnist. It pays well and you don’t have to work.
    Stay left! Please!

  2. great post hope to see some additional comments next Saturday…kisses 😉

  3. Hey Katie. I sure enjoyed reading about all of your antics and excursions. It sounds like you’re doing well and having the experience of a life time. Have fun! Love ya!!

  4. I wish I could have been there to see the space fiasco. You’ve written about it humorously but I bet it sure wasn’t funny at the time. You probably shouldn’t have taken the baby. If something similar ever happens again, use the DisneyWorld policy – “Sorry, we’re not allowed to physically assist the patrons”. I know what you mean about not doing well with children, and this one was small.

  5. Funny article, Kate. I love your writing style and look forward to reading more. Take care.

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