The first step is the hardest

Pictured: Again, not medicine.

Pictured: Again, not medicine.

I didn’t mention this when I posted last week’s column, but it wasn’t what I had intended to submit for the newspaper.

I wrote that on the Thursday night before Friday’s deadline, and churned it out in about 45 minutes. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a column idea until then; I just wasn’t happy with the other one I’d put together the night before.

The original submission was based largely off this post, in which I bemoaned how tentative I’ve been in being a grown-up, biting the bullet and setting myself up as a patient of a doctor’s practice, just in case I ever need treatment.

I scrapped the column mostly because I felt it didn’t go anywhere, and also because it wasn’t really grounded in Maine or anything recent. Well, that definitely changed.


The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems

Ill just take a couple of cases.

I’ll just take a couple of cases.

There’s an old joke that gets passed around back home, and probably around the world, in which the U.S. is the target. It goes:

“What do American beer and sex in a canoe have in common?”

“They’re both fuckin’ close to water!”

Geddit? I think the first time I heard it, I probably laughed, because until that point in my life, all the experience I’d had with American brews was what could be found in your average Australian bottle shop was Budweiser and Michelob Ultra, the latter being somehow less flavorful than breathing air.

But in this long-awaited and uneducated (but not unsolicited!) critical analysis, I’m here to tell you: that joke is full of shit. American beer rules.


Out and About: Skowhegan State Fair


A place of whimsy. And stomach bugs.

A place of whimsy. And fried stuffs.

So as it turns out, I can predict the future via this very blog.

Bear with me – I haven’t gone completely insane (I think). My last entry, last Thursday, was basically one great big “I hope I don’t get any sicker than your average head cold” prayer.

And sure enough, what happened sometime over the weekend? Stomach bug. NICE.

That rendered me too useless to put the proverbial pen to paper over the last couple of days, which caused a logjam in stuff I actually wanted to post.

Also, tune in later this week (or perhaps early next week) for some particularly introspective stuff that I wasn’t going to post here – it was book-exclusive content, but I’m using a little bit of it. OOH, EXCLUSIVE STUFF.

Anyway here’s a look back at my latest trip to the fair. There’s a slideshow below, too!


Is there a doctor in the house? An affordable one?




Unless my traffic stats and social media prompts are filthy liars, it appears that you guys love you some “compare Australia to America” writing.

Truth be told, that’s becoming a little harder to do on a regular basis, because for the most part I’m fairly acclimatized to my new surroundings, and there wasn’t a great deal of culture shock to begin with, given my proclivity for vacationing here for so many years.

But while “American cheese versus Australian cheese” is a good thing to know about, this one is probably a little more important to my health. And yours, if you’re thinking of following in my green card footsteps…


Time to start being original again

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been relying on a cache of pre-written pieces for my column every other Sunday. 

I hadn’t actually sat down and written a fresh one from scratch for the paper since late June, when I banged out three in basically one sitting so that I would have a couple less things to think about in an otherwise busy month.

All throughout last week I kept reminding myself to double-check the production system at work to make sure the column – my last in the backlog – was still there and read just fine. Of course, I didn’t do that until about two hours before deadline on Friday afternoon…to discover it had disappeared. SHIT.

Thankfully I remembered the basic format of what I’d already written, and it was built around a section of a blog post I wrote a few months ago. It turned out to be fairly solid, and even elicited a few laughs from the bartenders at the Liberal Cup over screwdrivers on Sunday morning before we went golfing, so that’s good I guess?

Anyway, this one may be a little familiar to the dedicated readers among you, but hey – read on and find out!


When ‘not enough’ is too much


That's a whole lotta bullshit.

That’s a whole lotta bullshit.

A couple of weeks ago, I overheard two of my coworkers – both who’ve written and published books – were discussing their experiences with non-work-related writing projects.

They were mostly discussing the editing process (which I’m absolutely not looking forward to), but I saw my opportunity and idly inquired as to what self-publishing platform they used. I say “idly” because, while I’ve mentioned it on the blog and social media before, I don’t know who does and doesn’t know that I’m writing a book about my first year here.

The summer months, while great for getting out and doing fun stuff and seeing Maine (and terrible for my bank account), have been tough on my motivation to sit down in one place for hours at a time and write, or pull together content for the book.


Out and About: Pittston Fair

Looks familiar...

Looks familiar…

I was a real indoors kid growing up in the suburbs of Brisbane. I was perfectly content to spend my spare time reading, writing and playing the odd video game.

When I got to high school, after an unfortunate instance of being mugged for my fundraising chocolates at the train station, I befriended the biggest guy in my grade, a kid from the country named Wayne.

Wayne and I were polar opposites but we soon became good mates, and he brought me a little ways out of my “stay inside, don’t get dirty” shell.

Wayne lived in a more rural area, one which hosted a yearly fair called the Dayboro Show. It had everything you might expect: agricultural exhibits, a car show-and-shine, baking, craft and preserves competitions, fried foods (some on sticks!), people of all ages in jeans and boots that looked not like fashion statements, but like they’d been born in them.

The last Dayboro Show I went to was in 2009, when I took my ex from New Hampshire to see what I’d seen when I was a kid. But today, I took a step back into my adolescence at the Pittston Fair.


Tell me where to go (because I can’t work it out)

Same same...but different.

Same same…but different.

One of the more obvious differences I faced when I first moved over here – and hell, when I was making my yearly visits, too – was the whole “driving on the opposite side of the road” factor.

In the handful of instances where I actually drove in the U.S. on vacation – 2010, for the amusement of a friend, and in 2013 out of sheer necessity for the Rhode Island Seafood Festival, where I had to help return various rental vehicles I wasn’t technically licensed to drive – it was a pretty nerve-wracking experience.

When you drive exclusively on the left side of the road and right side of the car for 28 years, it’s tough to know which shoulder to look over, where your blind spots are, and how much vehicle you have on the opposite side of you.

But those aren’t the only factor that I’ve had to consider – the roads themselves are entirely different beasts as well.


A face only a mother could love


Lucky I've got a great personality, right?

Lucky I’ve got a great personality, right?

For as long as I’ve been of legal age to drink (that’s over a decade…holy hell), I think my parents’ greatest fear is that, at some point on a big night out, I’m going to end up on the wrong end of a punch.

Truthfully, it probably should have happened at some point. People say I’m pretty quick with a comeback, and I’m a wise-ass at the best of times, even though I’ll wear an “I’m obviously kidding” grin while I’m joking around. I even wrote, very early in this blog, that I had a niggling concern in the back of my mind that one of these days someone’s going to take umbrage to my Australian schtick and let me know what’s what.

But despite being 6’2″ and 210lb with a shaved head and an unshaven face – or perhaps because of that? – I’ve thankfully never found myself in that position.

However, this makes the story of how exactly I woke up Saturday morning with a black eye and a split cheek even more embarrassing. But it’s a story that includes elements that basically perfectly encapsulate the small-town Maine experience.