Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Experiences in the Empire State Building

Here are some stories which I hope will sum up the tourist experience.

Today I went to the Empire State Building. I managed to sort of sleep-in this morning, so I figured if I went to the ESB it'd probably be the only thing I would end up doing that day. I had seen how bad the line could be from the last time I was in the area. So I wandered down there, and in my customary fashion, accidentally came at the building from the completely wrong side and had to walk all away around to get to the end of the line. This can be a good thing. It lets you know what you're in for.

I had come prepared with a novel, my mp3 player, half a bottle of water and a medium coffee from Dunkin' Donuts.

I got to the end of the line at about 11 o'clock and prepared for a long wait. It was one of those lines that struck disbelief into the hearts of bypassers. Several people stood in it for awhile thinking it was just regular foot traffic for the area. Others stormed off in a huff at the thought of a line so long. I read patiently.

As we inched up the line, we had to endure the gauntlet: a bunch of people on the street from one of the bus tour companies. They begged, bargained and cajoled anyone who would listen, promising that for a nominal fee we could jump the queue on their particular tour, and be able to see the observation deck and more! Some people went for it. To entice the others they tried scare tactics, telling us it would be a 3 hour wait on the line. That seemed to not help their cause all that much but it helped mine, as some people would throw up their hands in digust, whip their scarves around their necks and head away from this madness.

I am not as opposed to waiting as some are, but then I had come prepared. The tour people started telling us to ask the ESB staff just how long the wait would be as if to justify themselves. One lady did, and they told us it would be about 45 minutes from now. At that point we were at the entrance to the building. Ha! I thought. 3 hours my arse. Not that I would have minded all that much. I had come prepared.

The line twisted and turned inside the building like the lower intestine of a metal giant. Each time I turned a corner I smiled as the people around me groaned. It went on and on. Thankfully I had come prepared. At about 12 o'clock I passed through the metal detectors. During the wait to be processed by security, I looked out one of the second floor windows and saw something in the third floor window of the building next door. It was a man in a turban, speaking on what looked like a walkie-talkie and looking in my direction. An old English couple nearby spotted this also and started talking and joking about terrorism in hushed tones.

At 12.33 I bought my entry ticket. Here I ran the second gauntlet: the EBS staff trying to sell us city maps and audio guides. I waved one of them away and she started sassin' me.
"What you gonna do then? When you get up there you'll see there ain't no signs or nothing. How you gonna know what you're lookin' at?"
It seemed scare tactics were the order of the day. A lot of people, unsettled by this threat of lost knowledge, reached into their wallets and purses to fork over 8 dollars for a map, 8 dollars for an audio guide, or 13 dollars for both.

At 1 o'clock I finished my novel. For this I was not prepared.

At 1.30 I got onto an elevator and thought "this is it!" The lift took me from the 2nd floor to the 60th floor in no time at all. I stepped out into the upper intestine of a metal giant. The line stretched on endlessly. I was now out of reading material, out of coffee, out of water and a little tired. My bag strap cut deeply into my shoulder like it was a spongecake. Now I was groaning along with everyone at each turn of the line. I started getting really angry inside at the people around me. Kids kept getting into my personal space and being little shits. Old people walked to slow when the line was moving. People were stepping on toes and heels. In a controlled environment, with security and concierge's everywhere, people are still hopelessly unorganized. Disorderly. As we climbed a set of stairs I pondered this, and, thinking back to my trip to Ground Zero yesterday, I had a real sense of just how horrifying it would have been trying to get out of the towers on 9/11. If people are this bad when nothing's wrong just imagine the worst nightmare of a situation.

Eventually I got on to a second elevator. I was skeptical, but this time I was pleasantly surprised to be actually on the observation deck on the 84th floor. The elevator from 60 to 84 took only about 5 seconds.

The view was pretty amazing, but was it worth it? I felt like the day was a bit of an anti-climax. It was good to do, but I didn't have that sense of wonderment I had in Chicago when Chris took me to the top of the Hancock Observatory. I guess that was because it was the first time I'd been to the top of a building like that. Still, the ESB was cool. It was different to be outdoors that high up. Windy as hell, freezing, but pretty cool. There's a certain satisfaction also in surviving the lines, and achieving a goal after enduring huge waits. I think what satisfied me the most though, was finding out I was right not to purchase a map - on each of the coin-operated binoculars up there was a list of what sights you could see from that spot. No signs up there my arse. There is a lesson in this: don't give in to terror.

After about 20 minutes up the top, I got out of there. It was too cold to stay too long, and it was pretty crowded up there. I headed to the exit signs, and discovered a queue to exit the building. I was not prepared for this. A concierge said we could walk down 6 floors to the next set of elevators which would be less crowded, so I did that. 6 floors later I was sitting in an even longer line. I groaned. What a day.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Thoughts on a city.

What determines whether you like a city or you don't? I have no idea. I've been on the road 6 weeks, and seen about as many cities, but I still can't put into words why I feel the way I do about a place. Often I don't even realise I feel anyway about somewhere until after I'm gone. I thought I had a ball in LA, but after leaving I realised I hated it there. It's strange. But it's even more strange how much I love New York.

I feel really alive here. I feel like I could live here. I feel at home and not at home at the same time. And I can't really explain why. A woman asked me the other day what I thought about NY compared to the rest of America that I'd seen and I told her it was a million times better but I couldn't explain why. I guess that made me look kind of stupid considering I also told her I wanted to be a writer.

Some guys in the dorm were talking last night about what makes a good travel experience. The consensus was that any place on earth could be great one week or awful the next, and that it all depends on the people you're with and the people you meet. Everything about an experience will boil down to the people involved. Normally I would agree with this. The people around me made my experience in New Orleans awesome. The people around me in Miami made it shit. But that theory just isn't stacking up for me here in New York city.

Here's why. I'm avoiding everyone. I haven't made any friends here. I'm not trying to. I'm avoiding everyone, especially other Australians (shudder). And yet, I'm enjoying this city at least 10 times more than the rest I've visited.

I definitely need a new city theory.

All I can come up with though is gut instinct. I don't know what it is I love about this place, but the important thing is that I feel it. And I feel it. Just seeing the city as I flew into LaGuardia had my heart pumping. Seeing the Statue of Liberty today sent a charge through me, and seeing the skyline, sans the WTC makes me feel hollow inside. Tears welled up in my eyes at Strawberry Fields. Seeing the buildings, the streets, the incredible diversity makes me smile inside every day.

I <3 NY

Saturday, 27 December 2008

When the ordinary gets strange.

Today I walked over 200 New York blocks as I explored the city. On the way back to the hostel, only about 2 blocks away, I looked down at my boots and noticed a shoelace was untied. As I bent down to tie it back up, it occurred to me that this event was the first time in this trip that one of my shoelaces has come undone. In 6 weeks, only once. How odd.

What does this mean? Am I becoming unravelled?

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

This is what the cold is like.

You step off the plane. You've been used to temperatures in the mid 20s to early 30s (Celsius) and the cabin of the plane you were just in was really hot. You step off the plane and its maybe -20 degrees. That's a conservative estimate. The wind probably makes it waaaaay less. But let's not worry about this now, because so far all you're doing is walking across from the plane to the terminal.

Your body hasn't really realised it's cold yet, but you feel something strange going on in your nose. That's your snot freezing. Crystallising. Next you exhale and notice that it looks as though you were blowing cigar smoke. You start to realise that it must be really cold. Around you other people are laughing. The cold makes people amused. You smile too.

You get your shit together at the airport and then you step outside. Again, it's okay at first because you're pretty rugged up. But pretty soon you're extremities start to get that tingly, freezy feeling. You wish you had thicker gloves. You wish you had something to cover your face. In a shop window you notice your reflection. Your face is flushed. You look pretty terrible, which is unfortunate because you just got yourself looking the way you like before you came outside. It was the first time in weeks you considered your appearance acceptable. Oh well.

Even though you have a beanie on your head, your ears hurt. You are fairly certain you already have a cold, even though you were perfectly healthy an hour ago. You aren't wearing jeans today, opting instead for thinner, more comfortable pants for the plane ride. You start to regret this decision. It's not that your legs feel cold. Let's face it, when do your legs ever feel cold? But pretty soon they start to ache. Your bones hurt, but you don't understand the sensation.

After a train ride, you have to walk a few blocks to the hostel. For some reason, the cold is making you grin like an idiot. In the train station, there's a black guy walking towards the next train. He whoops suddenly, rubbing his hands together in the cold. You smile again. As you walk up the ramp to the exit, another black guy is coming in the other direction and he isn't wearing any gloves. "Oooooohh! Woooooo! Daaaaaaaamn!" he is exclaiming loudly. You smile again, and join in.

There's something so fun about the freezing cold.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Materialism is a funny thing.

The ground shakes as the fat Hawaiian guy begins his arduous climb to the summit of Mount Bunkbed. On the bottom bunk, I look around me in fear wondering which of the beds four corners will be the first to buckle. Somehow, by some divine will, I am still alive as he manages to hurl himself into his bunk. He shuffles around to get comfortable. This shakes me so hard from side to side I feel like I’m in a hammock. Surely now is the time I’m going to die. I survived one night and then two. Surely tonight the bed will give in. This could be it.

And though every night I sit and wonder if my own death is imminent, it’s not this that concerns me all that much. Becoming a pancake wouldn’t be great, but all that’s on my mind is the safety of the new Macbook Pro sitting next to me on the bed.

Materialism is a funny thing.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Strange Thought # 327

Today I became alarmed when I couldn't remember what colour an Australian 20 dollar note was.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Australia, and my thoughts on it.

So I haven't been missing Australia as much as I expected myself to at this point, one month into my travels. Sure, I miss the some of the home comforts from time to time... or should I say place to place? Generally though, I've been feeling pretty okay about being away from the only place I've been for 21 years. Which is why I was quite surprised by an experience I had on the Greyhound between Mobile and Orlando.

No, I'm not referring to my experiences with the rednecks in Alabama. Nor am I speaking of the crazed, drugged up Floridian felon that sat next to me for several frightening hours. Rather, I'm talking about a hallucination of sorts that I had late that night. I was so tired that I didn't know if I was still in Exhaustion County, or whether I'd crossed the border into Delirium State. In this near-sleep state, I looked up at the moon and was surprised to see John Howard's face was there, looking down at me.

Now, I should be clear here. The craters of the moon didn't look like regular John Howard. They in fact looked just like his caricature: the image I've seen time and time again in the political cartoons in the West Australian. The likeness was uncanny, and as Johnny Eyebrows looked down his glasses at me, I wondered not for the first time on this trip whether I was losing my mind.

I shook my head and rubbed my eyes to see if it would fade away, as some hallucinations do. It didn't. For the rest of that night, each time I looked out the window, little Johnny was there looking down on me.

I wondered what this meant.

Anyway, at some point over the following 48 hours, the idea fermented in my mind that I needed to go to the movies and watch Baz Luhrmann's Australia to see if I was secretly pining for the homeland. To see if it would affect me at all.

So I saw it. To be honest, it didn't offend me. I know. I'm as surprised as you to hear that. I was bracing myself for it since it came out. I really thought it was going to make my cringe factor break Mach 3. So now I'm not sure what to think. I came out of it neither hating nor loving Australia, which I guess sums up also how I feel about the homeland now that I'm not in it. This is a step up I think, because I really didn't like the place very much when I left.

I also tried to gauge the reactions of the Americans that were watching it with me. This was hard to do. I was the first person in the cinema, and wasn't expecting any more, but in the end it was almost full. It's hard for me to make an assessment. Most of the people were speaking about it in Spanish when we exited. A lot of the women were teary and emotional. Most of the guys didn't seem to give a damn. The she-male looked decidedly undecided in her/his opinion, which I found fitting.

One thing I do know though, was at the end, when the screen said something about Australia abandoning the assimilation policy in the 1970s, a surprised noise filtered through the audience. And when the final words on the screen said that the Australian Government apologised for this in 2008, about 90% of the audience gasped.

Make what you will of that.

Oh, and also, everyone cheered when the Aboriginal elder speared David Wenham good. He makes such a good bad guy....

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Should I stay or should I go?

I'm meant to be leaving New Orleans in 2 days for Miami: where the weather is warm, the guns are numerous, and the coke is as available as cola. As cool as that all sounds, I don't really want to leave the Bourbon House. It's too good here. All the other hostels I've stayed at have been cold and alienating, or had some sort of fatal flaw, but this place is amazing. The people here are the best.

Last night I stayed up playing Trivial Pursuit: The 90s Edition with Damon (from Florida) and Rachael (from Belfast). We were all pretty hopeless, so we ended up staying up til about 3am just talking. It was great. Today the bunch of us plus Rachael's brother Aaron, and James (New Yorker) went out to lunch on Decatur St at some place that had 1 dollar daiquiris.

This place is everything I hoped a hostel could be. I've never felt so comfortable and at ease with a bunch of strangers before. There aren't any uncomfortable silences. Even dodgy things that go on here are just a laugh to everyone.

The owner Reese, or Randolph as he is sometimes known, has a bunch of stories to tell. A series of unfortunate events kept occurring last week as he was checking in new guests. One night a car exploded down the road just as he was talking up the safety of the area. Two nights later, in a similar situation, a factory houses down was set alight in an insurance fraud scam. There were also more stories about a bus crash, and teenagers shooting at the building with BB guns. It sounds scary on paper, but all these things were such a hoot to hear about. And there wasn't much real danger for any of these situations.

I'm going to miss this place. I'm pretty much decided that I have to move on, but I really don't want to. If I stay I'll run out of things to do and get bored. I'm already a bit antsy. But I won't soon forget the fun I've had here and the awesome people I've met. I think I have most of them on facebook now, which is good.

I should be optimistic. Each city I've visited so far has been better than the last. Maybe the next place will be even better...


It's been pissing with rain, and the dodgy shade cover thing out the back collapsed under the weight of the rain that had accumulated on it. All the metal pylons are warped and snapped. A bunch of us went out there and salvaged the furniture and outdoor lighting, laughing as ice cold buckets of rain hit us at random intervals. Not to mention the hidden buildups on the non-collapsed parts that we inadvertently dumped on ourselves. This place is fantastic.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Let's do the time warp again.

Today the weather has been miserable. Light rain, high humidity. My hair is all messed up and after venturing out a few times I'm sweaty and smelly. So I've spent a lot of today on the couch, reading, working on the Sudoku book Paige gave me (that thing is driving me nuts) and trying and failing to write anything decent for my current story (I've never had so many ideas in my life! But more planning is necessary.)

In my comings and goings from the Bourbon House, the same few people have been sitting around doing whatever they do in the common room. The tv has been on all day on this one channel that seems to repeat the same episodes of CSI over and over and over again. I saw them all at least twice throughout the course of the day. And even though I'm ensconced in my book or whatever, I feel the repetitiveness of it driving a little teensy tiny wedge of insanity into my brain.

I was getting irritated. Antsy. I wanted to change the channel but for some reason I didn't. But what was really getting to me was that the other people in the room, who had been there as long, if not longer than I, didn't seem to notice at all that they were watching the same 3 episodes again and again. They reacted as normal people do when watching something for the first time.

Is everyone that inattentive? Or have I simply lost my marbles?

Maybe I need more sleep. My current lifestyle involves staying up all night talking about what's wrong with the world with a New Yorker and an Irishman, getting up before 11 to get my free pancakes, and going back to bed until I can be bothered moving.

Free breakfast is the greatest luxury of the modern world.

The perfect blog title, too late.



The perfect title for a travel blog from an Aussie abroad. But the url is already taken.


Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Need For Fresh Food: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Walmart.

Today I finally managed to find a Walmart within walking distance. This feat has taken me over 3 weeks to achieve, and has made me so happy I'm a little scared. Being in the centre of world capitalism, I would have thought it would be easy to find anything I need at any time, but it hasn't been like that at all. Sure there are plenty of stores. Lots of little corner shops, convenience stores, and Walgreen's (each more identical than the last). But in all of these places, the ratio of real food to candy is like 3:1 in favour of candy.

So you go about your business being a tourist. You're hungry, you look down the street. You see McDonalds, Starbucks, Subway, Popeye's everywhere. You begrudgingly have to settle for these things more often than you'd like to, unless you want to break the bank. You crave fresh fruit. Broccoli. Salad that isn't incarcerated within a greasy burger prison.

It's funny how my mind works. In the back of my mind I've been worrying quite a bit about eating right (which I haven't been accomplishing well since LA). But it doesn't manifest itself in the way I would think. I don't worry about feeling sick, weight gain, weight loss, or any long term health problems. No sir. I walk down the street and I think to myself:

I am going to die because I haven't eaten an apple.

If I don't find a salad, I will die.

But it's all alright now. Today I found Walmart. It may be costing me an arm and a leg to eat right in this country but it sure is worth it.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Union Station Blues

So yesterday I spent the better part of a freezing Chicago day waiting for my train to New Orleans at Union Station. As I sat around I noticed several groups of Amish folks milling around. There was a couple with a young baby girl. The parents looked about 15. It was kind of scary to think about.

So I'm watching these strange people with their beards and their funny hats and I'm reflecting on the oddness of seeing a people who churn their own butter standing in a concourse with LCD screens and motorized machinery, when I notice one of them is carrying a thermos. A thermos?! Are they allowed to have a thermos? Or do the rules change when they're outside their normal commune?

This was disturbing me. I went for a walk, came back and went into McDonalds. The Amish were there. In McDonalds. Eating their Happy Meals and their McCafe coffees.

I'm thinking: 'this is insane.' I think about going over there and striking up a conversation, but then a group of black guys sit at the table next to them. These guys are wearing some bling and have cool hoodies. The Amish, as one, turn and angle their bodies away from these newcomers. After a few awkward moments they rise and move steadily away.

This is the only moment of my Amish experience that makes sense.


Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Strange feelings I am having

Life has been strange since uni ended. I feel like I'm in stasis. Neither here nor there. Time is passing, but nothing is really happening. Everyone else dances around me while I'm fixed to the floor in the centre of the room. It's comfortable, and fun most of the time, but nothing is really going anywhere. I'm just waiting to go on my travels. But in the lead up to my exodus from Perth I feel even stranger.

I'm filled with this strange nostalgia. I have all these loving feelings for the people around me. I guess these are the sorts of feelings one normally gets in there last few days of uni or school when they are about to end a chapter and start a new one, but I've never felt them before. I couldn't wait to leave the crazed zealotry of my high school, and I cruised through uni with about as much emotional investment as you find in a basic Jean-Claude Van Damme movie.

So it's all new to me. I go to work and I feel like giving Jen a big hug. I feel like kissing Maria on the forehead. I feel like staying up all night talking to Kayleen. I have strange and symbolic dreams about James and Todd. I want to fondle Ben gently under the starlight. I'm going to miss that place.

Haha, I must be crazy.

But I will miss it. There were a lot of dreadful times and pathetic fights, and bickering, and all kinds of injustices, but in the end I can't help but feel that there aren't too many jobs I'll get in the future that will have me working alongside such cool young people, and hilarious old crazies. I'm pretty grateful to have worked at IGA and to have lasted so long. It's weird to think of the friends and workmates who have fallen on the wayside and been fired or asked to move on. I'm glad I can leave on my own terms.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Is it really all that simple?

What makes a good person? Today someone said to me:

"You are a good man."

Just exactly like that. No contraction of the 'you are' to a 'you're'. No slang. It's a definite statement. And all because I showed some guy in a supermarket where the pesto was.

If only I could believe him.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

If I found a really good hairdresser I would probably marry her

I got my haircut today: a grisly task that requires much mental preparation. Haircuts are a hit-or-miss affair, and most of the time you end up looking like a ridiculous man-boy. And even if by some miracle you've pleased the Gods enough to somehow incur a good haircut, it's likely that some work jerk or another will give you shit for it. Even if he is balding. And has disgusting looking psoriasis on his exposed scalp.

So after a lot of childish whining, I sucked it up and went down and got my haircut. It hasn't turned out too bad this time. Which is pretty good considering its likely to be the last haircut I have for at least 6 months. That's my style by the way, cut hair really short, then wait several months until it gets long enough to annoy me. Thus limiting the hairdressing experience as much as possible.

Anyway, I'd probably marry a good hairdresser if I found one. It would make my life so much easier. I wouldn't have to go through the psychological ordeal of going to the hairdresser, as I could get a cut in my own home. Also, she'd be awesome at it, so she could make me look halfway decent, and prevent me going into a hair-induced shame spiral. All sitting in the bath, biting down on the soap to hide your wails from your brothers in the next room.

Ooh, and she would tussle my hair, and give my scalp a good scratching. Man that feels good. There's some sort of ancient genetic coding inside me that loves a good head scratch. Maybe I was a dog in a past life. Dogs have it pretty good.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Ok, so I secretly love going to IKEA

I admit it. Think of me what you will. I went down there on the weekend with my friend Todd to pick up a few things for his place. I haven't actually been to IKEA since they slightly changed the location, but I must say I was impressed by the new store. It was enormous. Cavernously huge. Almost inescapable. When it came time to leave, we asked two female staff members if they knew how to get out of there, and they said they had no idea. They told us they had been stuck there since they started working at IKEA and told us we were doomed to wander forever unless we were pure of heart. For only the pure can find the path to the enchanted carpark.

It's such a fun place. The nice food in the IKEA restaurant. The cheap IKEA coffee with the free IKEA refills. The tiny, yet efficient IKEA pencils used to write the cute IKEA Swedish names on the convenient IKEA shopping list forms. The self-serve IKEA warehouse with the fun IKEA trolleys which you can ride down the enormous aisles as if they were IKEA go-carts. I love it.

So Todd needed a few things, large and small. He needed some pots and pans (long story, involving Todd's former roommate stealing his old ones and holding them hostage in an attempt to gain access to Todd's new place). I wanted to get the Skänka cooking kit, but we agreed that in the end it would probably only disappoint him by being cooked with by another man, and might even leave him a 'nasty surprise' after it left.

In the end we did pretty well. Got some pots and pans, a dishwashing holder thingy, and a set of desk drawers. We did however miss out on the main event, a chest of drawers or wardrobe for Todd's clothes. The one he wanted was sold out when we got to the warehouse section. It's a shame, but I don't mind so much. It gives me an excuse to return to IKEA.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

So I've been thinking about Italy

Rome, specifically. I'm going to be there next year, sometime in March probably. I'm pretty excited about the whole traveling thing, though to be honest it's getting hard to keep up the optimism when every single person you interact with asks you the same question. I can't even like get on a bus these days in case the driver asks me where I'll be staying in America, or what I think of the financial crisis. In fairness though, I can't really get on a bus without asking the driver how his life came to this, so I guess it's probably even.

But yes, Rome has been on my mind lately. I think it's worrying me on a subconscious level, more so than any other place on my to-go list. Well maybe not Rome but more the Vatican. Yes, it is definitely the Vatican that is worrying me. It's really just because of the Pope. The idea of being in the general vicinity of the Pope is really wiggin' me out. It's not like an irrational fear of papacy or anything. It's just that if I'm in the same sovereign nation as the Pope, that means there is a definite slightly higher than normal chance that we might cross paths. Which in turn means that the opportunity might arise for me to, you know, assassinate him.

Now the Pope isn't really all that high on my list of popular assassination targets. I mean, you kill a Pope and a new Pope grows back. I definitely wouldn't go out of my way to kill a guy like Ratzinger, but if the opportunity presented itself, I'd really have to think about taking it. It'd be much the same as if you stumbled drunkenly into a cheap motel and found Barack Obama inside. You'd just have to make love to him, otherwise you'd probably regret it for the next seven years. He's just too cuddly.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Memorable roasts

So last week I went to work and while I was talking to the boss I noticed a book on her desk entitled 'Memorable Roasts'. It looked to be your basic instructional cook book alright. But just what in the hell is a memorable roast? How many roasts have you eaten in your life, and can you even remember any damn one? I had one tonight. It was pretty good I guess, but will I remember it? No. Tomorrow I'll get up and go about my daily life and the roast that was will fade away, blurring and merging into the pleasant brown memory that is every roast you've ever had. Filed away in the brain's reference library, never again used except to conjure up the mental picture of what a roast is, in the event that you forget, or need to explain it to a hungry German backpacker whose English is "not so goot."

How can a roast be memorable? Maybe the occasion itself could be memorable. Like a particularly good Christmas which just happened to involve a roast. I guess a roast could be memorable if you got salmonella, or a similar enterobacteria from it. All attached to the toilet for several days, crying out curses at Yellow Jack as you check your stool for blood.

A memorable roast might be feasible if something outrageous happened at the time. A knife-wielding maniac enters the room, declares his love of the Scissor Sisters, then insists you feed him his share. Your sister confirms the family's worst fears: she has become a Freemason but refuses to share the secret handshake with any of you except Cousin Dale. You know, the usual family stuff.

All these possibilities sure would be memorable, but not because of the roast itself. And certainly none of that sort of material would be in that book. God, what secrets could that book contain? I better Google this.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Little ducks

Today I watched ducks in the park. Little adolescent ducks, doing the usual things they do. Nipping at each others heels. Flap-running across the water. All following their mother around, asking for gas money. There's something soothing about little ducks. Here and there, quack-quacking. Come to me little ducks. Follow me. Together we will take over the world, one bread crumb at a time.


In four weeks time I'll be heading off on a great journey: 6 months abroad, totally alone in another hemisphere, where I know almost nothing and almost nobody. And as a loafing, Generation Y guy who lives at home, and doesn't cook or clean much of anything, this is a pretty big deal. There are going to be some massive changes.

Personally I love change, even though it frightens me. A little fear is good sometimes. It annoys me the way most people try to resist change, even in its simplest, most inoffensive forms. I guess it's just easier sometimes to cling to a comfortable past, even if that past isn't relevant anymore. I guess I've been guilty of this at times, but no body's perfect. I think coping with change is the greatest thing you can ever do. Anyone who wants to fight the signs of aging should be big on change. It seems like the older people get, the harder it is to deal with it. I guess that's why I get so annoyed when my parents get me to help them with the computer, or other simple tasks that your average supermarket employee could perform. Nobody should give up on learning something new. No-one should get stuck in their ways. And my parents shouldn't act like oldies when they're still in their 40s.

I feel sometimes like I need to go to the extremes of change. I struggle with myself constantly. I want to break every expectation I've ever had. I want to challenge everything I've ever believed. It's the only way I can live with myself. I can't rest until I've looked at everything, I can't know myself until I've pushed me to all my limits.

I love change.

If the stubborn, changeless types ran the world it would be awful. Governments would never get anything done. Fax machines would rule the world. Beck would remake Odelay over and over and over again.

Monday, 13 October 2008


Hello there.