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I had a nice little existence once, far far away. Living in a squalid but very cool little attic apartment, painting and building freebie websites, doing a bit of part-time book-keeping and temping to pay the rent in between exhibitions... but then fate intervened. Or to be more specific, the Olympic$ intervened. My landlords got offered some obscene amount of money for their apartments during the Game$ (by Americans, of course). They had to renovate them immediately, though. Rich Americans wouldn't be happy with mouldy carpet and collapsing ceilings. And my lease had long since run out - so like thousands of other inner-city Sydneysiders, I got kicked out on my arse.
Co-incidentally, at the same time I got a small settlement from my long-ago and very amicable divorce. Just enough to buy a Round-the-World ticket. So I packed all my stuff into a friend's basement and jumped on a plane. Fellow webmasters around the world had been kind enough to extend me invitations, and since I certainly couldn't afford hotels - or even hostels - I've been hopping from couch to sofa ever since.
Landing in St Paul on a rainy night, I fell in love with the place. Old European-looking buildings, trees everywhere - so beautiful. Then there was the fact that my hosts turned out to be even cooler than I'd guessed from their sites (and my expectations were fairly high in that regard, so obviously they're super-dooper cool in real life). Add to that the discovery that the nearest supermarket was packed full of vegetarian and organic stuff - after six weeks in Phoenix, where anything is deep-fried if it doesn't move fast enough to get away, well... St Paul seemed like heaven. I wanted to stay.
Admittedly, I was probably looking for a new life, being homeless, and my divorce being all finalised and everything (he was a musician, need I say more?). My Mum commented when I left Australia that she didn't expect me back when my ticket said. I've lived in the UK before and love cold weather, so that was where I was most likely to stay. But then... St Paul, St Paul. (I think I'd love NYC too, but that's a bit beyond my meagre means)
There is one little catch - the US government isn't exactly welcoming of 'aliens' - unless you're from Cuba, or perhaps looking to get dissected in a hangar at Area 51. So even though I have people wanting to help me stay, offering me jobs and the like, I have yet to see if I can make it through the red-tape. You'd think this country was overrun with unemployed US web designers, considering how difficult the government makes it for an employer to take on a foreigner to do the job. *sigh*
Well, wish me luck! My current visa goes until early August 2000. What will happen then is one of life's great mysteries... Meanwhile, if you want to help, do anything you can think of to get my hits up. The 0.3c I get for you looking at each ad banner is my only income!
UPDATE: Back in Australia! May 2001