May the Fourth be with you

Today is my third Fourth of July as a real USAian. I took citizenship on July 20th, 2016, although I don’t know for sure when I’d started to be more American than Australian. I still sound Australian, and the Oz upbringing is still very much a part of who I am.

It’s been an interesting journey, learning just how much of my normal vernacular is/was Australian and needed to be suppressed or replaced with the American equivalent. Some of it is obvious, some isn’t – and some is really surprising. One thing I did notice – quickly – is that in general (more or less polite) conversation, Americans are rather less tolerant of casual swearing than Aussies. Not that ‘Merkins can’t be foul-mouthed when the occasion warrants it but the Aussie vernacular is rather more… robust even in polite-ish company.

The way I describe it is that Aussies call it the toilet when they’re being polite. And there are all of two four-letter words that Aussies consider inappropriate for general conversation (although most will tone it down if they’re talking to the boss at work or in mixed conversation). Not to mention the frequent use of “bloody” to replace any and all parts of speech including punctuation and at times emphasis.

Or, to quote an Australian poet, “up in Tumba-bloody-rumba shooting kanga-bloody-roos” isn’t all that unusual although since the Oz government decided to be bloody stupid about firearms the shooting is much more likely to involve a camera. And yes, Tumbarumba exists.

In any case, shifting the way I think from Australian to American has been a long journey, and it’s one I’ll never be finished. There’s always that sense of not quite fitting, although I fit much better here than I did in Oz. The culture here is still, despite the best efforts of certain parties who shall not be named, much more tolerant of those who don’t fit in, especially the oddballs who achieve something despite – or because of – not fitting in. At least, I feel that way.

It’s a relief to be able to think of Americans as “we”, something I’d repeatedly caught myself saying in the years before I took citizenship. I still occasionally think of Aussies as “we” too, but it’s more likely to happen in the context of events that occurred while I lived there. I’ve put down roots here. I belong.

That journey is in its way its own hero’s journey, although I don’t really know who I’d put in the various roles of the journey. Still, I wouldn’t change it, not when a little less than three years ago, I came home.


  1. Happy Fourth, Kate! ~:D Looks like everybody is out watching the tanks roll by. How genius a troll is it for Trump to put tanks in the parade? I love that!

    Oz always struck me as what happens when you turn a bunch of Englishmen loose on an island with no adult supervision. Lots of bad language and rowdy sports.

    Canada is of course what happens when you do the same thing, but with Scots. More bad language, and ice hockey.

  2. Well, I was born in Arizona, of parents who came from Kansas. As far as my Mom could trace, my last immigrant ancestor set foot on American soil sometime in the late 18th / early 19th century.

    Yet, I use “bloody” a lot. Maybe the associated image is just more satisfying… such as when I was dealing with one of the family Windows 10 machines yesterday, and thinking about the idiots in Redmond that created that abortion and called it “good.”

    1. “…dealing with one of the family Windows 10 machines yesterday, and thinking about the idiots in Redmond…”

      [rant mode activate]

      Networking, at a guess. Windows 10 out of all of the Windows is the best at getting the network to hook up, and it is utterly horrible. Two machines sitting next to each other, and ethernet network can’t “see” them. But Samba can, and the router can, so you know its just Windows being Windows.

      On the bright side they seem to have stopped BREAKING EVERYTHING every time they update the damn thing, so that’s nice. A short holiday, I’m sure.

      For a while there I was having to make a trip to each office every month to fix network printers and scanners, because Windows 10 updated. Full re-install of software, every time. Same issue every time, “Windows can’t see the printer”. In the office the ladies sneaker-net files to each other because the computer can’t see the other one in the same room.

      What annoys me the most is that I KNOW there is a file in there somewhere that if I edited it, those computers would show up. In Linux there is a way to find out the name of that file, you look it up on the Internet and you’ll find 40 youtubes of pimply nerds hacking their way to networking victory. Hell, I managed to set up an SGI Octane with antique 1990’s IRIX on the network once.

      But a new WIn10 box? Obscenely difficult.

      [rant endeth here]

      1. Hah! Yes, printers (well, just one, thank Ghu I don’t have a corporate network of ’em to deal with).

        Simplest way I have found is to have the printer on one system and shared. Then you only have to dig down through four dialog boxes (and the oh so helpful “automatic discovery” that does NOT work), to get to where you can type in the sharing system name and whatever the printer name is. All after being woken up with a bare hour’s sleep by a semi-hysterical wife who’s been printing everything to either One-Note or the Microsoft document “printer.”

        1. Oooh, I’ve gotten caught in the “print to PDF” thing a time or two!

          Mostly because I use it all the time, it’s better than having hardcopies for the kids to destroy…but I do forget to look.

        2. I have three printers on-line all the time, two high-output Brother units and a crappy old HP in case the first two break. Which they do, with disturbing regularity, and always due to networking bullshit with Windows 10.

          I can’t imagine what a large office would be like. Keeping 100 PCs plus printers fed and watered would be a nightmare.

        1. Whatever the basic version is called these days. Used to be the Home version.

          We don’t need the bells and whistles of Pro, because we’re not a big office, under ten PCs. The networking that comes with Home -should- be sufficient, and it -says- that it will be sufficient… but its not. Not because it lacks features we need, but because it is consistently broken. It also has a very disconcerting habit of “healing” itself, where a computer that’s been invisible for three days suddenly becomes visible.

          Compare and contrast a Linux network made of US$45 Raspberry Pis and a couple of Samsung televisions, plus a random Mac, a router and my fricking Samsung phone. It all WORKS, immediately, and it didn’t stop working until I took it apart. It was a series of televisions re-purposed as display signs, and I built it myself out of what I had lying around the place.

          For a laugh I decided to see how much it costs to upgrade from Win10 Home to Win10 Pro. After looking for 10 minutes, making four queries, I can’t find that information out. I could have found the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow quicker than that. (24 mph, one query, first listing.)

    2. “Those bloody Microsoft programmers…” Yeah, I can see the appeal there.

  3. Thank you for joining us, Kate. The states needs more Aussies running around. I am sure there must be one or two who are unpleasant, but I have yet to meet one.

    Happy fourth to you and everyone else!

  4. Or, to quote an Australian poet, “up in Tumba-bloody-rumba shooting kanga-bloody-roos”

    Sounds very much like American military, although the sections thereof where I have occasionally lost my temper and asked if they could possibly expand their vocabulary.

    (No insult intended. I wouldn’t claim to be able to offend an Australian, but I could intend insult!)

  5. I looked it up. As a native Southern Californian, my family were among the first 2000 settlers of Los Angeles. Other ancestors were among the first 2000 settlers of what became the USA. I welcome anyone who wants to be an American.

  6. Did you tunnel under the border? Or swim across? (Kidding.)

    Heads-up: “fanny” means something completely different here.

    There is something special about being an American-by-choice. Congratulations and welcome!

  7. The USA, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are the only countries that were built from scratch. Congratulations on joining us.

  8. May there be many more fine Fourths for you. Glad to have you here. I’m still trying to tone down my daily language after a number of years in situations where cursing was the norm.

  9. ‘Merkins
    Ummm…. Kate, you might want to put another vowel in that. Or do the ‘u as e’ thing.
    “Merkins” are something wholly different from “Americans”.
    I’m not offended; I’m laughing. But, still….. 🙂

    Welcome to America (belatedly)!

  10. Kate,

    The most important question you can ask an Aussie, is what footy club they barrack for…

    (This Texan family likes the Hawks and the Pies, but don’t ask my spouse about yesterdays match. At least Mason Cox scored a goal.)

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