So today is the last full day in Australia before flying out to Dallas and a whole new lifestyle. I've been spending the last few days with my family, catching up and spending time together before heading off. It has been very relaxing, sitting watching the view out over the hills, playing cards (and winning) and trying the espresso at every café in the town.
Most of my family live in Alexandra, a former gold-mining town about 2 hours drive northeast of Melbourne. It's a beautiful little place, nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range. It's great to go for runs and get some of the fresh country air tinged with smoke from the wood fireplaces that are almost compulsory in these parts. It's important though to keep clear of the kangaroos, of course.
It has also been great to take some time to mentally recover after leaving my job in Canberra. The nature of the work I was doing and the general mood of the place was really affecting my outlook. There was a lot of negativity and hostility around, and you'd find yourself being snarky and pessimistic for little or no reason, and usually directing it to your friends and family who least deserved it. Having a week away from that environment has been reassuring in that I'm already feeling more energised and positive. I'm going to need all that energy to succeed in the USA, though in itself, the prospect of working hard, learning new things and meeting new people is energising.
That said, I'm still not feeling "excited" in the conventional sense, possibly because there has been so much to do in preparation, but more probably because I'm yet to believe that it is actually happening until I'm on my way. When I moved to Germany in 2004 to study, the excitement didn't really kick in until I walked through the entrance to passport control at Sydney Airport. It's like a point of no return. I'm figuring that same thing will happen tomorrow when I pass that same place.
Pre-lagging schedule - the bars represent waking hours.
On a peripherally related topic, I've been trying to prepare for the long journey (15 hours between Sydney and Dallas alone) and the 9-hour shift in timezone. The best way I've found to do this is through "pre-lagging", a gradual readjustment of waking and sleeping times to the new time zone.
Three to five days ahead of travelling, you wake an hour (or 90 minutes) closer to that of the destination timezone, and go to bed an hour closer to bedtime at the destination. By the time you fly over, you should be within a few hours of the timezone of your destination, and ideally you are in the timezone of the destination. When you arrive, you are already adjusted and the effects of jetlag are far less pronounced.
It's extremely easy to do when flying east-west (i.e. Australia to Europe), as this simply means staying up later at night and sleeping in late. It's the best excuse for partying ever. Unfortunately, going the other way (i.e. Australia to the USA) is much more difficult, as it involves getting up earlier and going to bed earlier. This is tricky enough at the best of times, but the combination of a cold winter and the Tour de France has made it virtually impossible this time around. You don't want to get out of bed in the morning, and the Tour is far too compelling to miss (at least for me it is, it has been a July ritual for the past few years to stay up and watch the beautiful French countryside roll by).
The last two days have been complete failures as far as pre-lagging is concerned. Yesterday I set the alarm incorrectly and slept in; today I woke up at the right time (0430), tried to read for half an hour, but slowly drifted back to sleep. The next thing I knew it was 0800. I should have known something was up when I was reading the same sentence over and over again without it sinking in.
Tonight will be a write off as far as pre-lagging is concerned. The combination of the final game of the State of Origin, followed by a hilly time-trial stage in the Tour will make things tricky. It's also the last chance for a while to sit down to a family dinner with my parents and my brother, and I can't pass that up. Jetlag be damned.
In any case, the next post will probably be from Dallas. See you on the other side of the world. :)
Observations on music, coffee, and the occasional controversial thought.
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