19 August 2009

Meeting and Greeting

Thursday, 13 August 2009

We took it easy this morning, although I woke up earlier than I normally do at home. For breakfast, Shelley fed me my first crumpet (with golden syrup) and I taught her how to make iced tea. Ice is not a creature comfort here, either, even given the warm climate, so maybe my ice-crunching teeth will get a break for a few weeks…. We downloaded our photos from the coast and from our fun dinner, and then thought about all that we could get done on our “free” day. Justine (of the Photo of the Day fame) arrived at Shelley’s house in the late morning and we called a cab to deliver us to our apartment hotel where we would be staying for Showcase.

When we got to the Meritton, our rooms were not ready, so we checked our bags and went next door to Zozo, a little Korean restaurant, for a bite of lunch. Shelley had this rice cake soup that came in a bowl big enough to mix a batch of cookies in, and Justine and I had meals that came in something sort of like a bento box. I had beef bulgogi, which was delicious. After lunch, we checked into our apartments. This is a very typical arrangement in Australia – we had a lovely three bedroom unit with two bathrooms, a large lounge room (in this case, a living room and dining room combo), a full kitchen, and a laundry room! Each of the rooms had king beds that had been separated into twins, so we had plenty of space. Did I mention that we were on the 70th floor and in a corner apartment? We had INCREDIBLE views of Darling Harbour and most of Sydney!! About the only things we couldn’t see were the Sidney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, because they were blocked by tall buildings.

Throughout the afternoon, our apartment mates arrived. In our unit were Claire, Shelley’s upline and longtime friend; Fiona, who is from Sydney and is also Claire’s downline; Pattie, who is Fiona’s downline and is from Dubbo, in the center west of NSW; and Linda, who is from Goulbourn, which is southwest of Sydney. Across the hall were Pam, who is American but has been in Australia for about a dozen years; Shelley’s good friend Ann, who is from Sydney and is in Pam’s downline; Leanne, from Sydney and Ann’s downline; Robyn, who is Pam’s downline and neighbor; Justine, who is from Bega; and Meagan, Justine’s downline from sort of near Justine. So now you have an idea who we partied with all weekend!

Although we had aspirations of getting to registration around 2:30 or 3:00, by the time we got going it was after 4 and registration closed at 4:30! We bought our three-day monorail passes and popped over to Darling Harbour, all dressed in black on black for our Meet and Greet costumes. Once we found our way to registration, we found out that I was supposed to have been there for rehearsal at 3:30… I’m not sure I ever got that memo – and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! At any rate, I went in for my rehearsal (completely unprepared to rehearse) and they let me speak anyway! It was a good thing I had sent my talk in ahead of time – it was all ready for me on the teleprompter and the technical crew was stellar! They made everything so easy for me, and after seeing what the procedure was, I was confident that all would go well on Friday.

We had a little time before we were to meet Susan Wilmot (Shelley’s up-upline and consultant #1 in Australia) and the rest of her team for Meet and Greet, so Shelley and I went to the Aquarium, which was right on Darling Harbour. We took tons of photos (a shocker, I know!) and thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the native Australian fishes. I even learned about a brand new sea creature – the dugong, which I’d never heard of but looked suspiciously like a manatee! From the aquarium, we took off for the Lindt Café (yes, that would be Lindt chocolate, as in those yummy Lindt truffles!) to meet the rest of the black on black team!

Kylie and Mandy were already at the café – they were supposed to be rooming near us but instead ended up around the block. I really enjoyed talking to the both of them and wished we could have stayed closer!! Soon Susan and another Exec Dir, Amanda Bergin, arrived with a giant picture frame. Since the theme for Showcase AU was “You Complete the Picture” it was a perfect ‘costume’ for us. You should have seen us all trying to get in the picture (we decided we could be like one of those moving Harry Potter pictures) and walking down to the Meet and Greet venue with the giant frame!

The Meet and Greet was the official start of Showcase, and it is for everyone who is attending. Generally, teams dress up in a costume that befits the overall Showcase theme (although Shelley tells me that there is a Village People group every year, regardless of the theme!) and everyone enjoys drinks and lovely entrees and just has a relaxing time catching up with CM friends. We came in and huddled together for our ‘official’ team shot (thanks for including me, Susan!!) and then we made the rounds, meeting and greeting! Some of the facebook friends I met were the other divas, Kerrianne Hobbs and Janice Gilhooley, and Anne Cook from WA. I met Brian O’Callaghan, who is President of CM Australasia (and looking fine in his faux mustache and artist’s garb) and I found Mark Mizen and Eve Millar from CM US and compared notes with them. Jenny was not feeling well, so she stayed in, but Jan and her crew were in attendance. I met LOTS of other new Australian CM friends and just had a grand time.

You’ll get a feel for the creativity of the costumes when you see the photos posted on facebook. Sorry, but I doubt they’re going to make it onto the blog, as internet connections have not been consistent enough for me to load them here, and as you can tell, I’ve barely had time to write, much less add photos! Check my profile for the album “Jan Down Under” – if you’re not on facebook, let me know and I’ll send you the phanfare link and you can see the photos there!

So, another big day came to a close and we caught the monorail back to our apartment where we found we still had the energy to talk some more. Some things are universal, I suppose! Pam kept us in stitches with stories about her early days in Australia, since she had another American to vouch for the foreign-ness of some of the language and expressions. One of the funniest stories was about when her daughter joined a Brownie troop and Pam was asked to bring “a slice” to one of the meetings. She was happy to do that, but she wasn’t sure what kind of slice to bring, so she asked. She was told to bring whatever she wanted, so she’s thinking, “slice of bread, slice of tomato, slice of cake, slice of bologna, slice of pie….”???? Finally, when pressed, someone told her to bring vanilla!! WHAT?!?!? So for all you Americans out there, next time you are in Australia and asked to bring a slice, just bake a pan of brownies or something and you’ll be in good shape!! Another good one was when she was asked to come for a bit of a barbie and to bring a plate. Imagine her surprise when she and her family arrive, each with their own empty plates (and silverware, in case it was needed, too) only to find out she was to have brought a dish to share!

After laughing until I was crying, I crawled into bed to rest up for another fun-filled day!

Appropriately met and greeted, not to mention rehearsed and regaled,


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