A feather in the cap

IMG_8952I got to announce some pretty cool news on the weekend; Saturday night, to be precise.

The Maine Press Association awards were held in Portland, and my barely-10-month-old column was awarded second place in the Local Columnist – Daily/Weekend category. I’d known for a few weeks but it was embargoed until the awards ceremony.

I’m not sure who won first place, but needless to say I’m pretty elated and extremely humbled by the recognition, especially seeing as how it was judged on work produced before March 31, 2014. That means it was my earliest work for the KJ that was on show, and it was good enough for second place.

I feel like I owe some thanks to my readership here too, for encouraging me along the way as I’ve fine-tuned my “voice” since moving to Maine. Thanks, y’all!

Anyway, here’s this weekend’s column. It’s about my trip to Canada two weekends ago, but it’s not based on the blog post so it’s pretty original. Enjoy!


30 for 30: Pre-birthday beers via the internet


Like this, just on a webcam instead of in a bar. Yeah?

Like this, just on a webcam instead of in a bar. Yeah?

I’ve never been too big on birthdays, but being overseas permanently and away from so many of my friends and family has made them a little more sentimental for me I guess.

But there’s no two ways about it, really: I’m going to be turning 30 on American soil.

Unless I hit the lottery or end up in a job offering six weeks’ paid vacation in my first year (the lottery is a better chance), I’m just not going to have the cash or the opportunity in 2015 to get back to Australia to visit.

And while I wouldn’t expect all of my favorite people who don’t live in the same state as me to come to me, I’ve decided on a way that I can celebrate with all of you. Or some of you.


Onwards and upwards, from Maine to Canada


Pretty spectacular, right?

Pretty spectacular, right?

It’s only been like five months since I wrote it, but I finally crossed another thing off my to-do list…and even then I really half-assed it.

Drive into Canada. Somewhere. Just cross the border, buy a weird bag of milk, and come home

Despite my well-documented lack of enthusiasm for long car rides, this weekend I drove literally all the way off the top end of Maine and into America’s northern neighbor.

That’s right, sports fans. This weekend, it was Crawfin’ Canada. (This is a long one, gang. But it’s a fun one. Cultural comparisons ahoy!)


The more things change, the more they something something

Oh Augusta. Never change (I don't mind)

Oh Augusta. Never change (I don’t mind)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about change. Hey now, don’t go calling the police.

Maybe it’s sparked by the beginning of my 30th year, or knowing that there’s no longer any birthdays as a buffer between me and that milestone of adulthood.

Or perhaps it stems from the realization that the months are changing faster than I can keep up with them, the cold weather is coming and I’m approaching both the anniversary of my immigration and starting work in Maine.

Either way, it’s an unstoppable force, and it’s been on my mind. Fair warning: this is an idea I’ve been kicking around for a future column, and you’re about to be the lucky* guinea pig.


A green card lottery primer for Aussies wanting to immigrate to the U.S.

Want one of these? You're not alone!

Want one of these? You’re not alone!

When I woke up this morning, I noticed a solid uptick in visitors to this site over the preceding 10 or so hours.

That can only mean one thing: Green card lottery season is upon us again.

Less than an hour ago (at the time of writing), at 12:00 p.m. ET on October 1, the 2016 Diversity Visa program opened its doors to the world.

I’ve always wanted this blog to act as a strong resource for Aussies in the lottery, so after the jump I’ll give you all a nice rundown of what’s what.


Older but none the wiser

Bonnie said she wouldn't let me eat all of these on my own. IT'S MY BIRTHDAY, MAN.

Bonnie said she wouldn’t let me eat all of these on my own. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY, MAN.

My first few weeks here in Augusta were pretty surreal. With all the snow and ice, and the various processes of getting set up to live somewhere new, it was tough to get my head around the fact that this was my home now.

I remember one of the first times that that realization really sunk in. It was in the parking lot at Applebee’s, of all places, when the thought popped into my mind: “I’ll be spending my birthday here.”

Not the Applebee’s parking lot, mind you, but central Maine. And 10 months later, here we are!


One slip of paper, a million memories

Little piece of paper, big implications.

Little piece of paper, big implications.

On Tuesday night, I was finally getting my life in order after returning in the wee hours of the morning from two friends’ wedding in Nebraska, and subsequently being unable to do anything other than watch TV and yawn.

I was cleaning out the pockets of my suit, desperately hoping that the pair of Ray-Bans that I lost over the weekend would reappear, when I pulled out a little folded slip of paper.

I almost tossed it away without a second thought, assuming it was a receipt, a cocktail napkin or (wishfully) a scrap of paper with some lucky lady’s phone number scrawled on it.

All of my guesses were pretty far off, though. It was the piece of paper that ended up changing the course of my life.


Road-trippin’ with strangers

Home sweet home. Ish. Only an hour away. (courtesy Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr)

Home sweet home. Ish. Only an hour away. (courtesy Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr)

After landing at Chicago’s O’Hare airport Sunday afternoon, having taken a beer-induced nap on my flight from Omaha after my friends’ wedding two days earlier, I got a couple text messages from United, telling me my flight had been delayed twice in succession.

With almost four hours up my sleeve, I briefly considered getting the train downtown to have dinner and wander around for awhile to kill some time. I mean, why waste my Sunday in an airport when Chicago is, like, right there?

But I chickened out when I found out the train trip from the airport to the city was over an hour each way, and I didn’t want to miss my flight, so instead I had an overpriced beer and burger at a bar in one of the concourses.

I was two bites through my dinner, and commiserating flight delays with someone sitting next to me, when I got another text.

Flight’s canceled. I’d been re-booked on the next plane to Portland…Monday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

Well, shit. That just won’t do. But as it turned out, passenger power managed to get me home a lot sooner than that.