December 15, 2010

Time for a Break

Christmas looms.

I'm having a ball, but simply finding it too difficult to spend time here at the moment - so I'm going to take a break now and will be back on the first Wednesday of 2011 with fresh material.

Until then - Merry Christmas - and may you have a happy, quilty New Year!

December 7, 2010

The Australian Citizenship Test (Test Anxiety)

Four years ago I came to Australia (from the US) as an immigrant. I was granted permanent residence and on November 12th (the anniversary of my arrival as an immigrant) I became eligible to apply for citizenship.

In the months leading up to this I have reflected many times about what citizenship means, what I feel for my native country and what I feel for Australia. At the end of the day I find that taking this step is the most natural thing in the world. It's time for me to stop talking about Australians as "they" and start saying "us" instead.

Becoming a citizen involves three steps:
  1. Submitting an application (and documentation to prove identity and legal residence)

  2. Passing a "citizenship test"

  3. Participating in a formal citizenship ceremony

The first step I completed on November 12. Easy to do that, really, as much of it involves answering a few simple questions about yourself and getting certified copies of birth/divorce/marriage documents (for identification purposes).

The third step will be an absolute delight. I understand that the ceremonies are lovely and meaningful.

But that second step... oh my...

Let me say right now that I have never had trouble with "test anxiety." I graduated from high school, attended universities (and graduated with a bachelors degree and an MBA). I don't recall ever being freaked out over an exam before. But this is different.

The Australian government makes it pretty easy for you to prepare for this. There is a pre-test study guide available which covers all the information required. I downloaded a copy and started a regime of reading bits of it every day. At first I was OK with it all, but starting about two weeks ago the anxiety started building. What if I flunked the test? It happens, I understand. Not a lot, but sometimes. Oh heavens... what if I flunked?

I received a letter from the citizenship office informing me that December 7th would be my testing date. That was y'day (for those of you confused about how December 7th could be yesterday... well... this blog is hosted in the US and I'm in Australia... so a post set to publish on Dec 7th posts on Dec. 8th in Australia... we're 16 hours ahead of the US).

I arrived at the building about 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled time. The letter I had received instructed me to go to the testing office on the 2nd floor. Entering the ground floor of the large office complex I saw the very well-marked reception area for "Immigrant and Citizenship Reception." There was a huge line of people in the "reception line" just inside the doors, so I got my place in line and waited. The line was moving very slowly. I started looking around and began to wonder if I was in the right place. My letter had specifically said to go the the 2nd floor - this was the ground floor. Getting more nervous, I pulled my cellphone out and rang the citizenship office and asked them about the exact location. The woman who answered my call confessed she had no idea because she is in Sydney - but her coworker (who had worked in the Melbourne office) might know... so I waited as she asked the coworker. Sure enough the coworker confirmed that I should find "the elevator" and go to the 2nd floor.

OK. I get out of the line and walk past the reception area - looking for an elevator. No elevator. Luckily there was a woman at a desk who was not engaged with a client, so I asked her for directions. She told me to go back out to the street and go into the building via a completely different door. I did as she told me, found the elevators, and headed to the 2nd floor. When I stepped off the elevator I saw lighted professional signs for professional offices, but nothing saying "citizenship". I was sure I was in the wrong place again, so I turned to go back to the elevator. That is when I spotted an 8x10 paper "sign" (looked like it had been made on someone's home computer) taped to the wall beside one of the elevators saying "Citizenship" and pointing down the hall.

Greatly relieved, I headed in the direction of the arrow and found the office I was looking for.

There was one rather young-looking man working the reception desk. He was helping someone else, so I stood behind him. After 15 minutes there was a line of 6 other people behind me also waiting. Finally a second assistant came up and said "I'll help whoever is next". She asked me the reason for my visit, looked at my letter, checked on the computer to verify I had an appointment, and gave me a slip of paper with "T033" printed on it and said I should have a seat.

It took a while, but as I sat there waiting I became more and more calm about it all. (Now... I have to laugh... there was a TV in the waiting area showing an old rerun of "Gilligans Island." Very, VERY weird and surreal feeling to be waiting to be interviewed for Australian citizenship and watching Gilligan and the Skipper arguing.) By the time I was called to be "interviewed", I felt like I had both feet on the ground. The woman who took my papers and processed them was very pleasant - we chatted amiably and I started to feel really good.

Then the moment came - she took me into the testing room, sat me down in front of a computer terminal and started the test for me. I'd have 45 minutes to finish. No worries. I was done in 7 minutes.

The questions I was so worried about were, well, not so bad. I did miss one question - but because I'd studied so hard the others were a breeze.

And so there you are. I'm done with the test. Now I have to wait for the gov't authority to contact me and let me know which citizenship ceremony I will be scheduled to participate in.

Can't wait!

And I'm hoping it will happen on Australia Day.

(Side note: I've talked about this for years, told all my friends. I'm so surprised at how many of my US friends think I have to give up my US citizenship to do this. No... I don't. I will have dual citizenship, which is legally allowed by both Australia and the US.)

December 1, 2010

Quilt 8: Disaster City

What was I thinking?

I found these 3 adorable green-and-white prints and thought they looked fabulous together:

I played around with my quilt design software and came up with this design:

And gleefully went about cutting the bits and pieces out. I pieced together the first block for the top and... oh... disasterous. That center print (the swirls and flowers) looks just awful in the design. The print is too large for the small triangles that go on the outside of the dark green blocks. The overall design disappears and looks like a blob.

Well... I could show you a photo, I guess, but it's too depressing. It really looks horrid.

Had I done a simple strip quilt it would have been OK. And I think it would have been OK if I'd had that center fabric surrounded by the dark green. But sandwiching it between the dark and light prints - AND making the bits so small, well... awful.

What I'll need to do is find something else - a much smaller print - to replace the blocks for those triangles.

For the moment, though, I'm just depressed about this and have shoved all the pieces into a plastic bag and pushed them to the back of my UFO closet.