In November we are heading to America for three months. It's a 'sabbatical'. The inverted commas are because, though initially our intention was to have an extended stay combined with work or study, after browsing online various courses that would be professionally advantageous, I decided that a course in Advanced Advocacy Skills or a three day Negotiation and Witness Preparation workshop sounded like not much fun at all.
I've decided that I prefer this definition from Wikepedia: "In recent times, "sabbatical" has come to mean any extended absence in the career of an individual in order to achieve something. In the modern sense, one takes sabbatical typically to fulfill some goal."
I have some goals, at this stage all fairly vague. Think. Read. Slow down. Listen. Contemplate. Decide.
I am not much of a planner, in life or craft. I am thinking, though, that some planning about what I want to achieve is in order, otherwise I can see twelve weeks slipping through my fingers in a delightful, indulgent, sleeping-in-and-staying-up-late haze.
It is easy to think that we know all about America. I was raised on American TV and movies, I've figured out what 'riding shot-gun' is, what a 'rookie' is, when you'd use a 'side-walk' - all terms not at all familiar to me as a child. I remain appalled at the normalisation of 'gotten' but I know this marks me as an old fogey. When I delete it from draft letters at work the young solicitors look at me as if I'd just requested they use 'doth' or 'whence' or something. But the cultural familiarity with America must, I suspect, be pretty superficial. If your idea of Australia was derived from watching Australian films you'd think the place was full of knock-about larrikins living in the outback and murdering people.
If someone came to my home town I'd take them to a house auction for the bizarre drama and the ability to sticky beak someone else's life we'd go to a footy game at the MCG, even though I'm not a huge footy fan, and I'd buy them a four'ntwenty pie with sauce, and maybe we'd go out for dumplings in Box Hill, or yum cha in town and time permitting I'd take them on a drive down the Great Ocean Road and stop in at Freshwater Creek bakery for a passionfruit sponge or a strawberry kiss, then maybe we'd go to the japanese bathhouse in Collingwood for a soak and a shiatsu massage and finish up with a paella at the Robbie Burns.
My American friend has given me some names of icecream to look out for. She bemoans the (poor) quality of Australian icecream. My other American friend told me I have to have a Philly steak which I have to confess sounds disgusting to me (he insists the cheese must be fake to be authentic).
So if you are American, or know America well, what would you tell me that I absolutely have to do in the twelve weeks we will be there? We'll be in Hawaii for a week and then based in Boston, but will be travelling around, including to Arizona for thanksgiving and to New York in December.
Any thoughts, ideas, tips, suggestions greatly appreciated.