Monday, December 17, 2012

Built of living light

I realised today that I haven’t even been home a month yet. It feels so much longer. And I know that makes what I’m now going to say sound completely nuts but, well, I’ve decided to go back to London.

For weeks before I left I was wavering over whether or not coming home was the right move for me – I had panic attacks, the whole lot. Even the day before I got on the plane, I still wasn’t sold. But I missed summer, and my family, my friends, and my dog – so I told myself it’d be fine. It was an amazing career opportunity and I couldn’t just turn it down because I was having a good time…so I left.

The problem is, no matter how great an opportunity it is, I cannot for a moment say that I find any satisfaction in the job. I’ve been desperately unhappy. And it’s not just the relentless stress of editorial work – I’ve actually managed to get a decent hand on the work involved in being an editor – it’s just the whole culture of the industry. I know what this type of work involves, I’ve done it before and I was utterly miserable. I don’t know why I thought it would be different this time, but I’d hoped. Sadly, it wasn’t the case though. I’ve already been working extra hours, getting in at 8am, taking work home with me, working through lunch. And you know what? I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be stressed all the time, and work extra hours and constantly be pushed beyond my limit. I don’t want to wake up in the mornings dreading the day, and spend every moment counting down to a moment when I can escape. I don't want to live like this if I don’t have to.

Surely there comes a point where you have to ask yourself if an opportunity is worth what it will cost you. And then suddenly I heard there was a position going on the team I worked for in London and my first thought was ‘oh thank god, I can go back.’ Thankfully, it turned out that they’d have me back. It all happened over two days, which I know seems very quick, but I did put a lot of thought into it. I canvassed opinion. I was afraid I was being crazy. But my instincts told me to do it, and so I did. After all, my visa will only last one more year. If I don’t do it now, I won’t have the opportunity again.

I must admit that I’ve been surprised by the response I’ve gotten. Most people actually seem to think I’m doing the right thing…I just assumed people would think I’m nuts, but hey. Apparently some people even think it’s a very mature thing to do. What. Even. The worst prospect was telling my team and handing in my notice. I thought for sure I’d be run out of town after putting them through this – but everyone has been so incredibly accommodating.

The thing is, I made a mistake. It’s as simple as that. I wasn’t ready to come home. I wasn’t ready to take on a job that would cost me my life, not when I had just started to finally have one. I love Sydney, obviously, and I love my friends and family, but I just need to do this.

This morning as I left for work my dad said to me that I was so much happier now that I’d decided to go back. And it’s true. After I handed in my notice, it was like a weight had been lifted from me and everything just made sense again. As dad pointed out, I will have to come back eventually. But by then, hopefully, I’ll be ready.

Music: The house that heaven built - Japandroids

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Leaving your home, knowing you won't be back for months, is hard.
Coming back is also hard.
Letting yourself become invested is hard.
Falling for someone is hard.
Making serious decisions is hard.
Leaving people behind is hard.
All evidence suggests life is hard. (Ten points to Gryffindor for pointing out the obvious)

And it's so annoying when all you want is to be a carefree twenty-something, but your brain never really shuts up long enough to forget all these things.

You think taking a year off to indulge in that carefree side is going to make everything easier, get it out of your system, but really once you get a taste for that life, the "reality" you knew before becomes this weird alien concept. And trying to get back into that is...well, hard.

Frankly, I don't even know why I'm trying. Part of me just wants to pack up and get straight back on a plane to London. Another part of me wants to pack up and go straight to NZ for a new adventure. And then there's the part of me that knows no matter where I go, or what I do, I'll always feel like this. I'll always struggle to consolidate my life into a whole. I've had lives on three continents, crossed oceans, and every journey irrevocably changes you, and every time you return, the places have changed too. It's transient. And if you're always coming and going, then you can never belong anywhere.

So, what do you do? Do you give up and lose yourself to mediocrity because it's easier? Do you continue to flit about the world, tearing yourself into little pieces every time? Do you wait for someone to give you a reason to stay?  What do you do?

I love Sydney, I do. I love the beaches, and the harbour, and the history of my life here - my friends, my family, the familiarity of growing up. My restlessness is not a reflection on any of that. But I hate the job, and the complacency, and just how narrowed life becomes.

I don't know. I guess I feel like I discovered a part of me overseas that I feel I can't sustain here, and I really liked that part of me. The thought of losing it devastates me. And I felt part of something, something fun and filled with so much energy. There were days that were utter shit, yes, but there was potential. And now I'm just treading water. And for what? I'm doing it so I can get "experience", so I can put it on a piece of paper that will one day lead to a career, something I don't even want.

And I know what you'll say. That's growing up. That's life. That's reality. But why? Why should that be it? Who decides these things? And why do we just fall in line with it?

It all seems so ridiculously contrived.

Music: Skinny love - Bon Iver

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Happy Hour: Grandma's Bar, Sydney

After spending the better part of the year loitering in London pubs, I was quite bereft at the thought of returning to Sydney’s characterless pubs. What can I say, you get used to a certain lifestyle when you’ve been falling out of Soho pubs on an alarmingly regular basis (stand by for the future thesis on London’s terrible influence on one’s liver). I had barely been back a week before I was already desperately missing it.

Luckily, in my absence, small bars have popped up all over Sydney like little cocktail-fuelled mushrooms. I say in my absence, I think some of them were around before I left, but I was obviously not quite hipster enough back then to be in the know. But now that I do know about it, I have made it my mission to visit as many of these bars as I can. Sure, it’s not remotely the same as the London pub scene, but it is pretty cool and much better than sitting at home, alone, crying into my whisky.

So, in the interest of not being a sad loser, I gathered some friends and headed off to Grandma’s Bar on Clarence Street. I’ll be honest and admit that my fascination with laneway/basement bars comes mainly from the difficulty in finding them. So clandestine! Fun! Grandma’s doesn’t disappoint on that front, it’s in the basement beneath a guitar shop with the barest slit of window facing the street. Try giving your friends directions to that. “No, not that guitar shop, the other guitar shop! The one across from the Games place!” And then it’s down the stairs and into a world of exposed brick, tropical wallpaper and an almost pseudo tiki bar charm.

First observation, the place is tiiiiiny. The second, the bar staff are all incredibly nice. From the friendly welcome to the excellent service all through the night, I really couldn’t fault them on anything. They also seem to be quite the talented bunch who know what they’re doing; I loved watching them make our many cocktails, you can just tell when someone actually cares about doing it right.

Grandma’s is so called because it takes its inspiration from the sort of cheesiness you’d find in a dusty house that has remained unaltered since the 70s – or as they say on their website “retro-sexual haven of cosmopolitan kitsch and faded granny glamour.” It could have gone horribly wrong, but it works brilliantly. And, cliché as it may sound, the place does feel very homey. Elegantly dishevelled, if you will.

The cocktail menu is decent enough, with the average price being around $16. My favourite was the Fa’fafene, I have absolutely no recollection of what was in it except for the overwhelming memory of grenadine and mint, but it was exactly what I needed on a hot, humid Saturday night. Very refreshing. I also had a wonderfully well-balanced Rum & Rye Sour, while my friends sampled the Paloma #2, the Wibble, Thunderclap and Mango ‘Ting – no complaints about any of them. Oh and for the non-drinkers and designated drivers, they’re happy to mix up a mocktail of your choice.

The main party trick at Grandma’s is the Ultimate Mai Tai. Yep, they set them on fire. And when my friend discovered this she would not rest until I ordered “a Flaming Moe.” It was quite the spectacle as the rum is lit and then poured into the drink, leaving the lime flaming. All served in a tiki mug. I was handed a straw and told not to stick it in the flames…I’m sort of sad that it’s even necessary to tell people that. Really? No plastic in the fire? Outrageous. I’m not a massive fan of Mai Tais, I think it’s the Curaçao I don’t enjoy, but I’ll put this one up there with one of the better ones I’ve had.

As for food, the menu is a bit sparse. Going on its size, it’s probably not the sort of place they want people wasting time eating. Bar snacks aside (which for some reason includes biltong), there are four different kinds of jaffle available. I sampled the vegetarian one and it was tasty enough. Who doesn’t love a jaffle?

If you can tear yourself away from the cocktails long enough (something I’m struggling with because I’m still adjusting to the price of beer in Sydney – wait, you want how much for that??), Grandma’s has a variety of beers and ciders available as well. So go forth, and be merry. Just don’t tell everyone cause I don’t want to have to line up.

Grandma’s is in the CBD at 275 Clarence Street, they have a sparse little website.

I’m really thrilled by all these lovely bars tucked away all over town. It’s so Melbourne, but better, because it’s Sydney. Sorry, I am biased, can’t help myself.

Originally posted at Savannah Sunset

Music: I can't make you love me - Bon Iver (cover)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Faded jeans and faraway eyes

Long, frantic day featuring a photo shoot, proofs and articles. Only thing I wanted to do when I left was take my dog to the beach and just chill for a bit.

Would you come for a drive?
You can lean into me
If you ain't been in love for a while

Music: Mae - The Gaslight Anthem

Monday, December 3, 2012

On a wire

The weather today is mostly apathetic with scattered bouts of self-loathing.

Music: The River - PJ Harvey

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Things we used to rely on

Blogging at work as I've already fallen back into my old habit of procrastination. Writing is such a strange thing to do for a job. For me it's always been arbitrary and I struggle having to do it because, well, I have to.

First week isn't going too horribly though. Panic is starting to set in over the sheer amount of work I'm going to have to get my head around very quickly. I don't even know where to start so I don't want to start at all. But if I have any hope of getting on top of things, I need to finish writing this intro and three interviews today, and then we can worry about this whole editor nonsense.

Can't believe I'm back to this. Everything feels weird. Twilight Zone-y. All the same, yet subtly different. Just enough to be unsettling. I am baffled by what a timid creature I was when I first started here, nearly three  years ago. And I'm absolutely refusing to become the run down, stressed out, desperately unhappy person I was when I left.

I don't know. Everything feels strange at the moment. Transitional period, I suppose. While I'm finding my feet on a professional level, I'm dissatisfied on a personal one where I'm still not entirely sure coming back was the right move for me. But that's life, I guess. What can you do.

In the meantime, I'll just listen to lots of loud music and get on with it.

Did you sleep last night and do you remember dreams?
Do I ever cross your mind and do you ever think of me?
When you think about your life are there things you would reverse?
I still remember holding you, just out of sight of her
In the deep, dark parking lot pressed up against my car
With your hands around my neck I felt the pounding of your heart
And the summer night was giving in to the lure of autumn’s sway
I can’t seem to forget that night or how I heard you say

That I’d just die if you ever took your love away
Oh and I'd just die if you ever took your love away
Would you miss me if I was gone and all the simple things were lost?
Would you ever wait on me to say
Oh that I’d just die if you ever took your love away

Music: Mulholland Drive - The Gaslight Anthem

Monday, November 19, 2012

The pros and cons of leaving

My lungs are staging a mutiny. I fear that I am yet again going to be taking home a chest infection as my main souvenir from London. We clearly have an abusive relationship.

I've finally made my peace with going home - not much to be done about it after all, everything has been settled now. I can only resign myself to my fate. Had my last day on Friday followed by leaving drinks and some overenthusiastic karaoke. We were all out again last night as well - completely mental.

Things I am looking forward to:

> Seeing my dog again
> Getting a huge hug from the parentals
> Beach!
> Going to the hairdresser for the first time in basically a year

And so on and so forth. There are some definite pros to this going home business. I just have so much shit to sort out though, sort of makes me want to curl into a ball and cry. Not only for finalising things over here but also for getting organised back home - for example, how to get to work? Gah.

In other news, love this song...

He's already on the outskirts
I'm still pulling at his sweatshirt
He says, fate is not a factor
I'm in love with every actor

Music: Want it back - Amanda Palmer

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cause it's all you can be

I'd forgotten how much I loved London like this, the cold and the dark. It's seem contrary to my innate dislike of the cold but it's gotten to the point now that I wear loads of layers without fear of overheating later and once I'm wrapped up in a thick scarf and gloves, it doesn't feel that bad at all. It's only been one day since the clocks went back and it just feels different somehow. The world is muted and you can sense the change in the way people live, everyone turning inwards and settling in for the long stretch of winter.

I moved back in with F on Saturday and I can't think of a more lovely way to spend my last couple of weeks here. It's comfortable and I love this area, in all my tourist romanticism. I'll be walking to work, and though I know there will be horrible days of cold and rain, it's a beautiful route and just such a snapshot of London that I'm glad for the opportunity to do it. And I'll try to remember that when I lose feeling in my face because the wind is blowing straight off the north pole.

It's been a pretty hectic couple of days - today has felt weirdly warped and out of proportion. I watched the clocks change last night at a Halloween party with Abbi and co, a lovely night with fun people, where I did my best living dead impersonation. Slept on their couch because of course it would be the day I'd just moved out of my old place and the thought of navigating night buses at a chilly 2am (new 2am) was entirely too much. That was only the tail end of festivities as Friday was quite a big night out for a work friend's leaving do (boo) that played out across many places, on many cold streets, and through some dubious decisions. At least I managed to get the last train home that time. And there was Thursday, more impromptu festivities with work friends. My scarf smells of cigarettes and aftershave.

This is what London does to you. The thought of leaving becomes harder every day. But is it only because I've decided to go that it now suddenly seems so impossible? Viewed through goggles of premature nostalgia, everything is somehow more amazing, and everything seems like a good idea.

Life would be better if I could think about things less. Turn off my brain and just let things fall as they may. What does introspection help anyone, anyway?

Back in Sydney, summer awaits. Family, and (of course) my puppy. A challenging new job. Old friends. New friends. Adventure.

And I want it, I do. But my heart aches at the thought of leaving all this behind. I suppose in a way it's better, better to leave when I feel good about things, rather than hating it all and being driven out by misery. So that's why I just want to make the most of these last few weeks, enjoy myself and not worry so much. There really isn't time for all this thinking.

You cannot always be torn in two.

In other news, went to Belfast with Lizzie, which was great. And went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour with Abbi, which was, hell I'll say it, magical - as you would expect. Life went on - I watched films, Abbi fed me delicious things regularly and I started a Dance with Dragons, leading to numerous moments of near book-throwing frustration.

Today I sat in cafes reading Sylvia Plath's poetry and probably looking pretentious. I read a brilliant short story in the New Yorker called The Semplica-Girl Diaries and wrote maybe a page and a half of my own stuff. And that is one of the great things about staying here, in particular, everything becomes much more writerly.

I'm a couple of chapters into Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, this month's book club book (for Friday, so I should really hurry up), and I am really enjoying the writing so far. So yes. Tea, book, early night. Perfect Sunday evening wind down.

Music: Me vs Maradona vs Elvis - Brand New

Thursday, October 18, 2012

From my heart to your distress

Here, in the dark, I cherish the moonlight
I'm in love with the way you're in love with the night
And it travels from heart, to limb, to pen

Music: Handwritten - The Gaslight Anthem

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Busy bees

Exhausted Jen is exhausted! I have had a very eventful week showing the delightful Kat around town. She was visiting from Germany for a week, so I took a couple of days off work so we could hang out and soak up some culture. And we got up to all sorts!

We kicked things off with a visit to the Science Museum which has a brilliant interactive area for kids, aka us. Magnets and electricity and water are all waiting to be messed with. We timed it well, getting in there just before the school groups arrived so we could try out a whole bunch of things. I was quite pleased with myself as I managed to get us tickets to Twelfth Night at the Globe, with Stephen Fry. It’s been sold out for weeks and it was pure whim that managed to get me the tickets. I admit, I was very chuffed. It was for the Wednesday matinee, which luckily stayed rain-free (apparently it was pouring for the evening show), and the production was riotously funny. Made even more so by the loud, booming laugh of one of the audience members.

It was all luck that day - I had also managed to leave my bag at Wagamama at lunch but they still had it when I went to retrieve it some five hours later. Inadvertent free cloaking service! The ever wonderful Abbi and Paul very kindly had us over for dinner that eve, and I think it was a great way to kick off Kat’s London adventuring.

Of course, there was plenty of shopping to be had and we spent most of Thursday trawling Oxford Street, Soho and Covent Garden looking for the perfect pair of winter boots (and we found them too, when we’d all but given up.) We quickly discovered that we’re both quite fond of finding pubs to just loiter in for hours – but then, as my foursquare will attest, I am overly familiar with the pubs of Soho. Makes me feel vaguely like an alcoholic. Pubs aside, I couldn’t resist introducing her to one of my favourite places, Yumchaa. Tea goodness!

Hmm, Rooibos, king of the teas.
Kat went exploring on her own and I headed off to see Killing Them Softly at a charming old theatre in Notting Hill. It was actually very good, quite brutal but with some funny moments. Interesting juxtaposition of themes and tone. But hey, I do love an assassin film and Brad Pitt was great.

Friday we decided to get out of town and so headed off to Cambridge. Despite every single person we came into contact with suggesting that we go punting, we didn't. Frankly, it was too cold. Instead wandered the winding streets, dodged cyclists, ventured into antique stores and op shops and sat in pubs/coffee shops when we needed to defrost. As you do.

T'is very picturesque.
Most of the colleges were closed to the public but we did take a stroll through the small but gorgeous Clare College. Oh, and we visited the Fitzwilliam Museum, housed in a frankly stunning neoclassical building. The town was beautiful and well worth visiting. We were both knackered by the end of the day though and did not appreciate the torrential downpour awaiting us on the return to London. But nothing some good Italian food can’t cure!

Despite the ominous rain of the previous evening, Saturday was a beautiful clear, crisp autumn day and so we went cycling in Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park. Absolute brilliant idea! We rented a couple of Boris bikes, lacking in all manner of suspension and a general desire to remain upright, and set off all over the park. It was really good fun and a great way to get around. There was ice cream and cider and watching squirrels climbing on tourists. Fun times!

I believe the word is autumnal.
Following lunch in Chinatown, I thought it my duty to introduce Kat to the manic, sugary goodness of M&Ms World – even though it was like the tourist apocalypse in there on a weekend. We then got so distracted by shopping and trying on dresses that we ran horribly late to get to Abbi’s for the start of the girls night out she’d planned. But never mind, we got there in the end, and proceeded to have more cocktails than was perhaps wise and danced until our legs ached. We got home on the wrong side of two am, clearly the sign of a good evening.

Blood & Sand. Very Game of Thrones, I thought.
Needless to say, things were a bit dire the next day and mainly involved sleeping and avoiding loud noises. When we finally emerged, all plans to go to Greenwich had been abandoned and instead we traversed the streets in search of a dry cleaner and pizza. We nearly saw Lady Gaga outside Harrods (couldn’t be bothered waiting) – if you do venture out towards Knightsbridge, check out Harrods’ 007 inspired window displays. They’re pretty swish.

My brief holiday was over so it was back to work again yesterday, where complete chaos and mayhem ensued, but Kat did meet me for dinner though (Thai! We’ve covered all the Asian cuisines during her visit), followed by a trip to Foyles. I got nostalgic over the stack of critical and philosophy books they had on display. That’s right, I was getting sentimental over Foucault and Bordieu. I am that lame. Just made me miss uni a lot. Oh uni, my one true love. I think we also made the cashier’s day by cooing over one of their bags (it has a monster on it) as apparently most people don’t really like it – “I always liked them,” he said. The bags are cute. People should stop being so literary all the time and indulge in a bit of cutesy fun every now and then. It’s good for the soul.

And that was it! I had to farewell Kat as she headed off to Scotland this morning to continue her UK sojourn. It was a really lovely week and it was so nice to have someone around who sympathised with me being cold all the time, rather than just rolling their eyes at me. I’m really hoping to make it out to Germany to visit her at some point (It’s times like these that I really appreciate how small the world really is.)

Next up – Belfast this weekend! Excitement!

Music: Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National

Friday, October 5, 2012

Sullen load is full

I tell my love to wreck it all
cut out all the ropes and let me fall
my, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
right in the moment this order’s tall

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
in the morning I’ll be with you
but it will be a different “kind”
I’ll be holding all the tickets
and you’ll be owning all the fines

now all your love is wasted?
then who the hell was I?
now I’m breaking at the britches
and at the end of all your lines
who will love you?
who will fight?
who will fall far behind?

Music: Skinny love - Bon Iver

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Over it

I had the most trying day today. My useless housemate has never been outside Wimbledon/Earlsfield and I was so horrified by this that I agreed to take him to Camden. What followed was the most tedious, dull day of my life. It was just a ginormous waste of time and he is such. hard. work. And a complete narrow-minded, contrary twat. UGH.

I am so sick of all my housemates. I feel like I'm going to snap and murder them all in their sleep with the dirty cutlery they refuse to wash.

Music: The Thick of It (Malcolm knows my rage)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Now you're just some blog that I used to know

I am a terrible blogger. Thing is, I just can't be bothered turning on my laptop when I get home after work and I'm usually out at lunch so, you know, nothing gets done.

But! I've done stuff. A couple of weeks ago I went to Scotland for a few days - first, to explore the Scottish Highlands and then to hang about Edinburgh. I had such a lovely time and I have to admit that by the time I had to get on the train back to London, I was feeling quite bereft. Everyone in Edinburgh was just so nice and the place is beautiful, I can completely understand why Lizzie wanted to live there!

Isle of Skye - so breathtaking.
Then last week, we went to a taping of the Jonathan Ross show and I finally managed to get into the Olympic Park as I went to see the 7-a-side football with Abbi and her lovely mother-in-law. If ever there was a summer to be in London, this was it - the weather might have been shit for the most part but all the Olympic and Paralympic spirit was epic. Luckily the aforementioned shit weather stayed away for our event, and we even managed to get sunburned. Considering that a lot of the Olympic Park will be re-purposed and re-developed, I'm glad I got a chance to see the place and be part of such a wonderful event.

Woo! Sport!
That weekend I also went to visit some of mum's family in Reading. In typical me style, I nearly went on the wrong day but then since I was up early on Saturday anyway, I headed out to the South Bank to see what was going on. Turns out a lot. The Thames Festival was happening and with it being the last weekend of the Paralympics, the place was packed. Many athletes were out enjoying the festivities, along with what felt like every tourist in London. I do love the South Bank though, for some reason I am the happiest here when I'm near the river. I made the most of the lovely day and completed the Red and Blue Mascot Strolls while I was out.

A sunny day in London town.
This week was reserved for movie watching with Abbi. We saw Anna Karenina (booooooring! Stylistically it's quite interesting, but the story remains dull and it felt about 20 hours long), The Imposter (a strange, thought-provoking doco) and Lawless (so good, so very, very good - brilliant on all levels, best film of the year to date.)

I actually want to see it again.
And then Friday, I was reminded that I currently work in what is arguably one of the most fun offices ever. We had an extra long lunch, complete with free drinks, and our usual Friday afternoon Wine Club was enhanced by the quite random introduction of a 90s board game called Dream Phone. Hilarity ensued...not that I think we ever actually figured out how to play properly. Following this, a bunch of us decided to continue the festivities elsewhere well into the evening. Fun times.

Wine Dream Cheese Phone Club
Apparently I've been lacking in sleep though because today I only woke up at 12.30. Insanity, I know. But it's the first time in five days I haven't woken up with a headache. Definite plus. Now I'm waiting for the new episode of Downton Abbey to start. That's a pro of living here, no waiting for your tv shows. I've been watching Doctor Who as it airs each week - unheard of!

Music: The Big Bang Theory

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Places of power

'It's perfectly simple,' said Wednesday. 'In other countries, over the years, people recognized the places of power. Sometimes it would be a natural formation, sometimes, it would just be a place that was, somehow, special. They knew that something important was happening there, that there was some focusing point, some channel, some window to the Immanent. And so they would build temples, or cathedrals, or erect stone circles, or... well, you get the idea.'
'There are churches all across the States, though,' said Shadow.
'In every town. Sometimes on every block. And about as significant, in this context, as dentists' offices. No, in the USA, people still get the call, or some of them, and they feel themselves being called to from the transcendent void, and they respond to it by building a model out of beer bottles of somewhere they've never visited, or by erecting a gigantic bat-house in some part of the country that bats have traditionally declined to visit. Roadside attractions: people feel themselves being pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognize that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that.'
- American Gods, Neil Gaiman p129

I love this book so much. Big thanks to Lizzie for lending me her copy.

Music: Paralympic Swimming

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chase the wind and touch the sky

Aaaaah! This morning I got the proof for the Venice article I wrote about Carnevale and I am so thrilled with it. I'm sort of surprised by my reaction as it's not like it's the first time I've been published, but I can't stop grinning over it. The layout looks so pretty and it's four pages of my photos! I think that's the thing that makes this different - my photography is being showcased as well. Also, as I'm not the one working on the magazine, I didn't have to do the copy edits or any of the annoying fiddly bits that go into putting an issue together. So it's all the rush and none of the annoyance!

So yes. I am very pleased. Who knows, maybe I'll manage to have a crack at being a travel writer after all.

Music: Nevermind the Buzzcocks

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ain’t it just like the present, to be showing up like this

Homesickness set in this month. Although I’m not entirely sure if ‘homesickness’ is the right word for it. I’ve been homesick before – when we first moved to Australia, I struggled a lot with letting go. It resulted in depressive episodes where all I wanted to do was sleep and ‘home’ was a weight, dragging me down ever further.

This feeling I have now…it’s different. It’s like a song being played in an empty auditorium, the final note hanging in the air long after playing has ceased. The echoes of home lingers in my blood, sings through my veins in a longing that is practically magnetic – pulling me back to where I belong.

That is not to say I don’t like London, I do. Especially in moments like the one I had on Tuesday night after I attended the production of Henry V at the Globe Theatre. Walking back to Waterloo station along South Bank was perfection – a balmy summer night with the city all lit up on the banks of the river, it was magical. In moments like those, moments I mostly experience here when I am near the river, I love this city. I love everything it is, its complications and contradictions. All its history and all its pride. It’s flawed and it’s beautiful.

But it was also in that moment that I realised that it wasn’t enough. I love London, but not as much as I miss home.

In comparison, Sydney may lack many things. It’s so much smaller, so much less sophisticated. Its history is negligible, its culture practically insignificant next to a force like London. We don’t have the same level of access to music, fashion, art. We are miles away from anything, no quick trip to Paris for the weekend for us.

But god how I miss it.

I miss the summer. I miss lying in my hammock in the garden, reading and slowly melting. I miss the incessant noise of the cicadas. I miss being able to go to the beach whenever I feel like it, and the feeling of sand between my toes. I miss driving. The late nights speeding along the M5 home, blasting my music way too loudly. And the bush, the smell of eucalyptus heavy in the air. I miss the blistering heat, the humidity that makes moving too much effort and how I’d spend those days on the couch with dad just watching Top Gear. Those days when you think you’ll spontaneously catch fire just by stepping outside. And though it’s kind of wrong, I miss the smell of smoke, blowing in from some bushfire somewhere.

I miss the extremity of nature. The ups and the downs. And I miss the city. I miss catching the train to Town Hall simply because I miss emerging from the tunnel at Circular Quay and seeing the harbour glittering in the sunshine - the way the sun plays across the water and the wind catches the flags on the Harbour Bridge. I miss that feeling I used to get whenever I emerged from that tunnel, that weird swell of pride because, damn, it’s a beautiful city.

And I miss my family. I miss joking around with my dad, though he often drives me insane. I miss the hours-long heart-to-hearts with my mum – Skype is just not quite the same. I miss my dog, oh so much more than I can even explain. I miss going for walks around the lake every evening. I miss just lying in bed with Oreo curled up beside me. I miss her happiness at seeing me whenever I get home. I guess I miss feeling that wanted and needed and loved all the time. And completely superficially, I miss my room, my wardrobe, my books, my dvds, my study, my graphics tablet, my theory notes.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself these past seven months I’ve been gone. As one would expect from travelling, and from being away from home. I’ve learnt that I am a lot more self-sufficient than I anticipated, that I can cope with sharing space with other people a lot better than I thought I would. I’ve learned that I’m not a spoilt princess of an only child, that my parents have raised me well-prepared for things. I’ve learned that I can co-habit with a bunch of boys, that I can handle being completely broke, that I can go hungry and not complain, that I can deal with not getting my own way. I’ve learned that all relationships require work and communication, and that if someone can’t show you that you matter to them, they’re not worth your time. I’ve learned that some friendships are superficial and sometimes what I think is communality is really just affectation.

There are other things, of course. I’ve changed. I’ve grown. And I think, overall, I’ve done well and I am quite proud of myself, silly though it may sound.

In that sense, part of me feels like there isn’t really that much for me back home - there are moments when I don’t want to leave here at all, but in the same turn I don’t really feel like there is much for me here either. I’ve done a lot of self-reflection over the past week and it simply comes down to what I want out of life.

You’d think at almost 25 I would have sorted this out by now, but I haven’t. Though I do I feel like I have gotten closer this year. In basic terms, there are two things I want:
1. A PhD
2. To travel to world
And maybe somehow, somewhere along the way, I’ll finally be able to write something that matters to someone. This may seem simplistic, and perhaps that’s true, but it is what it is. You might say it’s being naively whimsical – everyone wants to travel, but it isn’t practical. And that is the crux of my ambition. So-called normality holds no appeal for me. Nothing I say or do is a reflection on anyone else’s life choices; it’s just that it isn’t the right fit for me. That’s all.

And people may scoff and dismiss it as nothing, but I’ve always been acutely self-aware and I know in my heart, more certain after this year than I’ve ever been before, that there will be no happiness for me in convention. And isn’t that what life is supposed to be, “the pursuit of happiness”?

It’s sort of terrifying to make the decision to follow this path, to commit to it (Fuck Plan B as Amanda Palmer would say) but I feel like I’m finally strong enough for it. And the fear, the hollow feeling in my stomach that comes from knowing that no one (except my mum) understands, is just something I need to stare down. Because fear cannot rule your life.

So having come to this realisation, I had to ask myself where I need to be…and it’s not here. As much as I enjoy London, as I enjoy being close to people who are important to me, this is not where my destiny is.

Yes, yes, I know it sounds absolutely fucking ridiculous. Destiny. Talk about sounding delusional…not to mention conceited. But bear with me here, cause it’s hard to put words to the chasing of a shadow. I know, I know, there is something out there for me, I just need to allow myself to find it. Happiness, not boredom or submission.

So it makes sense to pursue the first of my goals – a PhD. I can’t stay here, can’t put it off for a year, because the longer I put it off the less likely it is to happen. Life has a way of sweeping us along after all, and time is going alarming quickly for me these days. No, I’d like a PhD before I’m 30. That would be good. And it would be better if I could study in New Zealand because another thing I’ve learned about myself this year is that I’m not really a city girl at all, not the way I thought I was.

My life has sort of emptied out this year but in some strange way it’s also become more defined. And it’s not going to be easy, but I feel like I have to try.

Music: Blood bank - Bon Iver

Monday, August 13, 2012

Making promises you can't keep

Too much momentum
This room feels like it's going to explode
Too many angles
Too many factors to cover
Waiting for signal
Just searching for a network
You have to fight to stay in control of the situation

Music: Borne on the FM waves of the heart - Against Me! feat Tegan Quin

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

You want nothing to do with me

It’s been a bazillion years since I last went to a gig…in fact, I think my last gig was the trial in patience that was We The Kings/You Me At Six at the Roundhouse. So needless to say I was quite looking forward to getting to see some live music again. Or I was, when Abbi reminded me that we did actually have a gig to go to, since I had entirely forgotten. Ah, life.

Anyway, point is, we went to see Head Automatica at The Garage last night. I was thrilled to finally be going to a gig in London that wasn’t in a stadium. Living the life, people! Apparently The Garage isn’t classed as a small venue here, but I thought it was by Sydney standards – imagine a Metro Theatre if you stitched the floor and the bar together, and took out the tiers. That was pretty much the size.

Ab’s had been researching the opening act prior to our arrival and we were not filled with confidence – they were called Worship and was classified as Doom Metal. We were afraid. Very afraid.

Completely needlessly however because it turned out Worship is rather brilliant. And really not doom metal-y at all. Their sound is quite different, definitely, but riveting. The lead singer has a voice reminiscent of Ville Valo, but entirely his own. The overall effect is heavy and melodic, with lots of electronic touches weaved throughout (according to the band's Facebook page the Guardian described it as "a sonic cathedral", so you know, there's that.) I think it’s actually the closest I’ve ever come to identifying the sound of our fictional band Evil Spacemonkey – the way we described their sound really sort of resembles what happened on stage last night. I'd recommend checking them out.

So, enthused by a decent opening act, we were looking forward to getting our upbeat dancing on with Head Automatica. Ha. Hahaha. What actually happened was the strangest gig I’ve ever been to. Mainly because they insisted on playing material no one had never heard of, and which sounded like it had been written under the careful supervision of the Spirit of Jazz, but also because Daryl Palumbo seemed to take offence that the audience wasn’t 'participating' enough. I’d go so far as to say he resented having to play old material. Except to us it’s not old material cause they haven’t released an album since 2006’s Popganda. So Daryl, while you may have written and recorded an album three years ago, it was never released, so you can’t expect us to know it, okay? You may also want to consider actually facing your audience a bit more while you’re performing. Just a thought.

People left the gig in droves. I’ve never quite seen anything like it. And then while some folks were diligently waiting it out, hoping that some old material may surface from beneath the unknown noise (not that the new stuff was bad, it’s just hard to engage with something live when you have no idea what’s going on and while new material at a gig can be brilliant, you don’t want the whole set to consist of it), they decided not to come back out for an encore. I imagine they were having some sort of band dispute backstage… that’s what I would have done (and let’s be thankful I am not in a band.)

The moments when they played songs we actually knew, it was pretty epic. The version of The Razor was fantastic, and while Beating Heart Baby was a bit different, it was still more listenable than most of the other stuff. That’s why it’s so disappointing that we couldn’t have more of that to balance out the new stuff. I really think the crowd would have been more engaged if it didn’t feel like such a spectacular act of self-indulgence.

Bizarre. That is really all that can be said about.

In other news, London crowds are much more respectful than Sydney crowds. No one shoved into me once without apologising. This is unheard of! But poor Abbi did get a shoe full of beer… I guess you can’t have it all.

Hey, that seems like a good way to sum up the Head Automatica performance – it was like getting a shoe full of beer. One moment, you’re blissfully unaware of any impending doom, the next you’re uncomfortable and just want to escape.

Perhaps not the best imagery anyone’s ever come up with, but I am tired, so it’ll have to do.

Music: Olympics, of course.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My war on commentary

Unless you have been living under a rock, or you are a member of Hermits United, you will know that the Olympics are currently on, right here in my northern hemispherean home of London.

Despite endless complaining leading up to the event, everyone seems to have embraced it wholeheartedly. My house mates and I got together to watch the opening ceremony. I found the whole affair a bit dull, best bit being the Mr Bean scene, but it was nevertheless fun. I was the only one to push through right until the very end so I feel I deserve some kudos for that (come on, you kind of have to, the whole point is the cauldron being lit.) The expected transport-apocalypse hasn't hit either, with trains being way emptier than they normally are. Either it's going to go absolutely nuts next week or the British are just psychotic scaremongers. I'm leaning towards the latter.

I've been enjoying all the sport. Having grown up in a house that's very sport-friendly, I'm used to watching pretty much all of the Olympic events. The tv was always on in our house during times like these, so it's a bit weird for me having to set up my laptop and then choose what I want to watch... but you know, such is life. I had a lovely day at Abbi and Paul's on Sunday, just camped out on the couch watching all sorts of random things - from table tennis and badminton to judo, gymnastics, beach volleyball and water polo. Fun times! 

Somehow, in all the madness, I have turned intensely patriotic. This is worrying. I have always been rather against all kinds of overt patriotism and nationalism, mainly because I think it's vulgar and just causes trouble. In the past, I've always been pretty apathetic about all this support-woo-my-country-is-awesome business. But apparently moving to the other side of the world completely negates all my arguments. Suddenly, I care. A lot. I even get defensive when people start knocking the team. I am completely baffled by this change of heart. 

I keep an eye on twitter for most of the event news, but the only thing I've been following religiously is the swimming. I feel like I have been culturally brainwashed into caring about it. Thing is though, I was introduced to Australian Olympic swimming madness during the golden era of Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett, so now I just expect that all the time. All of the medals! I want them! Sadly, we don't really have sure-fire winners like that on the team anymore, but somehow I keep hoping anyway.

Unfortunately, swimming appears to have been assigned the world's worst commentating duo. It's a miracle Tweedledum and Tweedledee manage to find their way to the commentating box each night, they're so incompetent. They are constantly getting mixed up by what's happening in the pool, retell the same tired anecdotes a thousand times and fawn over Michael Phelps to an embarrassing degree. When the US team won the 200m freestyle relay, I though for sure they'd be heading down the the podium to propose to the guy. Just take a look at my twitter stream between 7.30pm and 9.30pm and you'll see just how much they annoy me. They frustrate me so much, the only thing that ends up running through my head is that scene from the Simpsons where Ned is bugging Apu about the octuplets. Shut up! SHUT UP!

So, on that note...

Music: Shut me up - Mindless Self Indulgence

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The ground below is crumbling

I am so stupidly in love with this country, it defies common sense. Arrowtown, New Zealand.

Music: The last day on earth - Kate Miller-Heidke

Friday, July 20, 2012

Walls securely insulate my heart

I finished reading The Great Gatsby today and, surprisingly, did not hate it. I fully expected to, what with my dislike of pretty much all 'classics'. I suppose the fact that it was written this side of the 1900s helped. The characters are generally unlikeable, but it is just so beautifully written. Gorgeous imagery and lovely turns of phrase. Want.

Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was reminded of something - an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere long ago. For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man's, as though there was more struggling upon them than a wisp of startled air. But they made no sound, and what I had almost remembered was uncommunicable for ever. 

That's just... that's not even fair.

And then there's stuff like,

When we pulled out into the winter night and the real snow, our snow, began to stretch out beside us and twinkle against the windows, and the dim lights of small Wisconsin stations moved by, a sharp wild brace came suddenly into the air. We drew in deep breaths of it as we walked back from dinner through the cold vestibules, unutterably aware of our identity with this country for one strange hour, before we melted indistinguishably into it again.


Although curiously, while reading it I kept imagining Tom Hiddleston's Fitzgerald sitting somewhere writing it (he was not, after all, the most humble of writers) and congratulating himself. And that reminds me of a quote from Midnight in Paris' Hemingway that's quite fitting in these situations -

If it's bad, I'll hate it. If it's good, then I'll be envious and hate it even more. You don't want the opinion of another writer.

Hemingway and Fitzgerald doing what writers do best - drinking wine.

Music: I am a heart a heart, Watson. The rest of me is mere appendix - Forgive Durden

Sunsets over the beaches from now on

I have a new travel blog. Well, no, it's not a blog. It's more of a travel site...or at least I hope it'll take the form of something decent along those lines as I add more to it.

It's called Savannah Sunset. I've actually had it for a while, originally getting the domain for it in June 2011. I was inspired after my trip to New Zealand to try my hand at travel writing again, but then I never actually did anything with the site because I wanted to write everything first before I told anyone about it. Yes. Cause that's practical. I am an idiot.

Anyway. I've now decided to rather just put it out there and start posting to it regularly. Like I said, it's not going to be a blog really. There won't be any chronological rhyme or reason to what I do. I'm just going to write posts about places and then put them out there. See, the problem with travel journalism is that everyone wants to do it. It pays even worse than normal journalism and I figure I might as well just create my own platform if I'm going to do it for free anyway.

I hope to post about all sorts of travel related things on there. I'm making playlists, and writing about books that somehow relate to travel and I'll talk about films as well. I'm also going to do a bunch of fangirl guides to places because hey, why not? It's the sort of thing I do. And there are times it'll probably get a bit academic as I lose myself in the theory of place and travel and all that stuff for el PhD research purposes. But that's why I wanted to start my own site, so I can talk about these sorts of things, the things that interest me about travel.

I chose the name purely because I was suffering from acute nostalgia at the time. It's almost pathetic how much I miss the wildlife in Africa. Sometimes, I'll even get misty-eyed watching the Lion King, that's how pathetic it is. So when it came to choosing a title, sentimentality won out. I think it's quite appropriate for a travel site though. The header image was taken in the Kruger National Park the last time we were there... must be almost five years ago now *sob*

I don't know if anyone who actually reads this blog will be interested in reading Savannah Sunset - I know travel writing can be a bit dull if you're not planning a trip or interested in that side of things. But I do hope to add enough other elements in there, and update regularly, that it's not completely a case of eyes-glazing-over-please-stop.

Do me a favour and check it out when you have a chance though, and let me know what you think. I think I might change the layout in the near future. I just don't have the patience for it at the moment. Also, I'll post more photos to brighten the place up a bit just as soon as my mum sets me up with access to our server again (yes, we have a family server, my mum works in IT, what can I say?)

Music: Not Sunsets by Powderfinger, although I am thinking about it now.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Adventures with Henna

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been contemplating dyeing my hair again. Don’t get me wrong, I like my natural hair colour (especially in summer - proper summer – when it gets decent golden highlights) but I miss my red layer. It was a statement of sorts, and it’s sad when everything is plain and boring again.

So, whenever I’m in a shop, I’ll pour over the hair dyes, particularly the Schwarzkopf Live range as it has the ultra violet colour I liked so much last year, and that I hoped to copy before my hairdresser wanted to bleach my whole head. Um. No. But that’s the problem with hair dye, it’s not really good for your hair. Even without the bleach, it’s still quite harsh. And frankly, my hair is in too much of a state. It’s the first thing to go to hell if I’m under any sort of pressure or in a state of emotional instability. I don’t really want to put more stress on it.

The solution appeared to be henna. So off I went to Lush to acquire some. They do a variety, including one that’s supposed to go properly red, but I chose the Marron – promising chestnut tones, nice reddish highlights in the sun (haha, sun. What is this thing.) Now when you hop on google to look up Lush henna, you’ll find all sorts of people moaning. This is because people suck. But we'll get to that.

I’m not going to lie to you – it’s a hellishly messy process. First there’s the issue of quantity, as Lush henna comes in a slab of 6 smaller blocks. The girl at the shop told me to use the whole lot but in the end I just went for three and a half blocks – it was more than enough (for those of you playing at home, my hair is halfway down my back.) To prepare it, you have to melt and mix it. The henna is a lot tougher than it looks, so I chopped it up into smaller pieces first. Then it went into a heatproof bowl over a pot of water (bring it to the boil, then turn it down) and then I gradually added boiling water to the henna, mixing it until it was a smooth paste. This didn't take nearly as long as I expcted it to.
That was the easy part.

Now it was time for application. It pays to be prepared for the worst. Seriously. Most importantly, gloves are a must. This shit stains like crazy. If it gets on your skin, get it off straight away (if it’s dried a bit, I recommend eye make up remover pads). I placed a towel over the surface I was going to place the bowl on, as well as on the floor. This was good foresight on my part. I also sectioned out my hair before the paste was ready as you need to apply it as hot as possible. So, starting from the back of your head, you pretty much just grab some paste and work it into a section of hair. The thing is, as the henna starts drying, it starts flaking, so you get little bits of it everywhere. Apparently if you add enough water, it won’t do this…but, you know. It’s going to flake at some point. It’s pretty much exactly what I’d imagine coating your head in mud must be like. Fun times.

I actually wouldn’t recommend doing this if you haven’t had your hair professionally dyed. Not because of colour issues (in fact, henna can react really badly with hair dye so it’s best not to do it if you have any chemicals in your hair) but just for the process. I’ve watched my hairdresser section and dye my hair many, many times, so I felt prepared to do this and deal with the mess. If this was your first introduction to hair dye, I think you’d be absolutely horrified by this whole process.

Anyway. Once I’d managed to coat my hair, and thankfully not my ears and face, in the stuff, I then wrapped my head with cling film. I have trouble with cling film at the best of times, so this was quite the adventure. Next time I am definitely getting a shower cap to put on too. The girl in the shop had advised that it was best to do this in a hot environment for best results. Where she expected me to find this in London, I do not know. So I just wrapped a towel around my head as well.

The packaging says to leave it on for 1-4 hours, and I’d read online that the longer you left it on the more vivid the tones. Because I’d only started the whole process around 5pm, I didn’t go for the 6 hours I’d originally planned but rather left it for 4. This is about of time it takes to clean up anyway so… No, no, I exaggerate. It wasn’t that bad. I had been careful. So I made dinner and read etc etc.

Now for the worst bit – getting it out. Actually, before I washed it out, I first used my hairdryer on it. I don’t think this is the recommended thing to do, but I know from experience colour always lasts longer if it’s been stuck under a dryer for a bit first *shrug* But yes, it was absolutely awful washing this stuff out of my hair. Foul. Plus I kept panicking about staining the shower, so I’d spent just as much time hosing down the walls as trying to wash my hair. It looks absolutely vile. If you're doing this, I recommend just closing your eyes and hoping for the best. Shampoo, condition, it’s not too much of a hassle to get out – it just gets everywhere.

In this whole arduous process, I didn’t stain a single thing. I am so proud of myself.

The difference it has made to my hair colour is negligible. My hair is dark brown so I can’t really say I’m surprised, most things in my hair are negligible, like the purple I put in it last year. I notice the difference, because I know it’s there. Simply, where I had golden brown bits before, it’s now red brown. I can see the red pigment when I look at it in the light. If I do this a couple more time, it’ll get more vibrant, until I have a red halo if the sun hits me just right. It’s nothing remarkable, nothing to write home about.

But! My hair feels amazing. I can’t remember the last time my hair felt this good. It’s so incredibly soft. And shiny. Sleek, even. And yeah ok, I never had frizzy hair, but still. It feels so healthy. And I even think I’m having less hair fall than I normally do, and it’s not getting greasy as quickly. For these reasons alone, despite the effort, I’d keep using Lush henna.

Which brings me back to the point about people sucking… nearly everyone online complains about the mess and effort involved in this, and often about the colour not being vivid enough. It’s a natural product, what did you expect? It’s about building up pigment, not dyeing really. So if you’re after some instant, noticeable-oh-you-dyed-your-hair results, this probably isn’t the product for you. But if something subtle will do, especially if it makes your hair feel awesome, then don’t let the effort involved put you off. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and it’s kind of gross and smells funny, but hey. Think of it as a mud mask for your hair, with a nice pigment-y payoff at the end.

I think I may actually try the Rouge variety when I finish the Marron henna. See how red that goes. Plus I think this will be a much less painful process when I get back home – someone on a forum somewhere suggested hosing it off in the garden and that sounds like a brilliant idea to me. I'm sure my dad will love assisting with that…

Music: Sweet Tangerine - The Hush Sound

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm in love with every actor

It doesn't matter if you want it back
You've given it away, you've given it away
It doesn't matter if you want it back
You've given it away, you've given it away
It doesn't matter if you want it back
You've given it away, you've given it away
It doesn't matter if you want it back
You've given it away, away, away, away, away
By AliceXZ
He's already on the outskirts,
I'm still pulling at his sweatshirt
He says "Fate is not a factor"
I will let you go if you would let some
I will let you go if you would let somebody
I will let you go if you would let somebody love you
I will let you go if you would let somebody love you like
I will let you go if you would let somebody love you like I do.
Like I do, like I do.

Music: Want it back - Amanda Plamer & The Grand Theft Orchestra
(The motioncap vid for this is pretty cool btw.)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A complicated lifestyle

Cue long exhale. Busy week was epically busy.

Everything has gone by in a mad rush. In fact, this evening was the first time I've actually been home to cook dinner all week! My emails have mounted up to a scary number, heaps of research I need to start and laundry I need to do. But I can't be bothered to do any of it (and starting on my emails seems to daunting) so here we are.

First off, this week was SO LONG. It was painful. I thought it was Friday on Wednesday already, which left a whole two days to suffer through. Do not want. This was mostly due to work drinks on Tuesday evening. One should never have a night out so early in the work week, it just snowballs terribly. But yay, free cocktails!

The whole delightful experienced was marred slightly by my usual incompetence as I lost my oyster card somewhere along the way. Fail. Luckily, they won't sell you a monthly travel card without you registering it first so I could simply ring up and have it transferred to a new card. Took a couple of days, but it's better than losing heaps of money for my stupidity. You have got to love this oyster card system - paper tickets are for the weak! I even accidentally put mine in the wash once and nothing horrible happened to it. If it had been a paper ticket, I'd have been crying over soggy mush. Not ideal.

Other than that, I headed out to dinner with a friend from Twitter on Thursday (all hail the powers of social networking) and last night, after a day of drinking with work mates, I decided in my infinite wisdom to trek out to Sheperds Bush to watch some Super rugby - specifically the Crusaders game. Of course, I would be seated at the same table as a bunch of Chiefs fans (even though the game happened earlier in the day, none of us knew the result so we could pretend we were watching it live) so there were a number of lively disagreements. And my boys won, so all arguments are invalid as far as I'm concerned. It's really weird, but I miss kiwi boys. And when I say kiwi boys, I mean Maori boys, and islander boys. There is a distinct lack of them here and they always make things much more fun. Moan.

Anywhoodle, have been busy hunting more BT Artboxes in the rest of my free time. From Heathrow to Stratford, we're canvassing London. The great thing about this is I get to see parts of town I wouldn't generally wander into. I think I'll do a post on the travel blog about the whole experience once we're done. In the meantime, hop over to Abbi's blog as she's recapping it all in wonderful fashion whereas I'm too lazy to get myself organised at the moment. Today we started in Hyde Park, crossed the London Pride Parade and headed up Baker Street in our noble quest (and also stopped for some shopping, as you do.) Tomorrow, it's another day of hunting around Shoreditch and South Bank. We're going to pass through Old Spitalfields market, so no doubt there will be more shopping. All hail the first weekend after pay-day. Such a joy.

Tiredness has now descended with a vengeance. After all the box hunting (and Oxford street crowd dodging), I cleaned my room, went to the gym, did some grocery shopping and cooked a proper meal for a change (schnitzel with my mum's signature cheese sauce - which again, was not as good as when she makes it, but fine all the same.) I think it may be time to head to bed with some tea and A Feast For Crows. Oh, the horrors that await.

Music: Chop Chop - The Academy Is...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

We're going fast

Right, let's round this up, what have I been up to? Well, good question, cause I have absolutely no idea. Apparently not having a routine is good for your memory (very organised people with set habits supposedly don't need to remember things as much as people who have no idea what they're doing one day to the next) so I suppose that counts for something, right?

Made lasagne last night which was infinitely disappointing... it's just not as good as my mum's. Sad. My mum's lasagne is pretty much my favourite thing ever so I while I was eating mine, I just kept thinking how woefully subpar it was. But it was nice to eat something baked for a change. While I was slaving away trying to put this all together, I watched In The Loop and since I was at it, I followed it up with the first season of The Thick Of It. It's such a random show but oh, so many good insults.

I sort of want to start a list of movies I've watched, it's growing rather rapidly. Ah, what not having a television does to you. Thing is, I already can't remember what I've seen...I mean, yeah, I remember when I see their names but off the top of my head, it's not something I can really recall. But not the end of the world, as I see most of my films with Abbi and she already catalogues them in her excellent Film Friday write up (check it out if you get a chance, t'is always entertaining.) I do however know that we watched Attack The Block this week... and I thought it was very good. Well worth all the buzz it had. So yeah. There's one thing I did this week.

I got paid on Friday from ze old job, huzzah! Had a moment of panic when I thought they hadn't actually paid me but no, crisis averted. I have spent most of it already. Oops. But not all frivolously! Some has gone into my savings, and I also bought some groceries and my monthly train ticket. So you know. Responsibility. I have it. Sort of. Sometimes.

Anyway. Definitely didn't have responsibility Thursday evening when I was up until 3am writing a travel article that I've known about for oh, three months? Longer? Fail. Epic fail. And then I accidentally switched off my alarm Friday morning instead of snoozing it, meaning I woke up at 8.30. Eek. Miraculously somehow made it to work on time. I have no idea how that works. Sometimes I catch a train 10 minutes later than normal and arrive at practically the same time. What witchcraft is this? I held up pretty well too, wasn't too useless at work and went for drinks afterwards, so yeah. Not bad.

I just remembered what else I did this week - book club! Thursday in the St James's Park, so lovely. As I mentioned before, we read 50 Shades of Oh God Someone Edit This Please and A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. It's such a good discussion group with everyone really getting into talking about the books, so that's lovely. I've ordered my next lot of books, can't wait for them to arrive. I'm so thrilled to be reading again. It feels like it's been ages for some reason. Yay!

OH! I almost forgot what was arguably the most exciting part of the week! We got free money! I know, I know, sounds insane, but it happened. A promotional team had set up shop near work and after pandering along to their marketing scheme, you'd get a code that generated a random sum of money between £3 to £100 for you. I got £20, absolutely thrilled. I love working in the West End, there's so much happening and you're always getting free stuff. Sure the crowds of tourists are frustrating, but I think it's worth it.

Anyway, to celebrate my new found disposable income (this was pre-pay day, so things were pretty dire), I recruited Abbi for a trip to M&M world...where I got completely carried away, but it's okay since this was also when we found our first BT Phone Boxes. New project alert! I've always followed Ab's previous  < insert appropriate painted object > hunting, sad that I couldn't join in cause it seems like such a fun way to get out and about town, discovering new places. And now I get to do it too! Two days of official hunting and 26 boxes down.

Colour me your colour, darling

The upcoming week is looking pretty busy - plans for practically every evening. But now if you'll excuse me, I have to go ummm and aaaah over a t-shirt buying opportunity for a bit.

You can sit beside me when the world comes down 
If it doesn't matter then just turn around 
We don't need our bags and we can just leave town 
You can sit beside me when the world comes down 

We say, we do 
The lies, the truth 
And all I need is next to me

Music: Mona Lisa - The All American Rejects

Friday, June 29, 2012

Top 10: Picks for Future Travel Destinations

I feel like I’m stagnating when I’m not planning a trip, so it should come to no surprise to anyone that I was back to planning pretty much within a month of settling down in London. America isn’t happening for me this year, but that doesn’t mean I am going to wallow in self-pity. Places to go, things to do, let’s get started – my top 10 picks for my next destinations

  • Edinburgh/Scottish Highlands
This makes top of the list because it’s easily achievable – I’m looking at the end of August when we have another delightful bank holiday. It’ll be a quick visit but at least I’ll get there…Scotland is the only country in the UK I haven’t visited yet.

  • Santorini, Greece
Again, achievable aim. It’s not too difficult to get to Greece from London and if I simply fly into Santorini, I cut out all that pesky ferry business. Might try and do this before I go home too, provided imanage to save enough money.

  • The Serengeti, Kenya

The only part of Africa I miss is the wildlife and I would so happy to spend two weeks just on safari. Alas, it’s ridiculously expensive but I’m hoping knowing the right people might make it more afforable. Hopefully in 2013.

  • Kolmanskop/Sossusvlei, Namibia (The Namib dessert)

Namibia looks amazing. I love the idea of the dessert ghost towns being reclaimed by the dessert – it’s just poignant and beautiful in a way. Completley different and desolate and awesome. I’ve decided that next time I’m due for a visit to SA, I’m not going to stay in Joburg. I’ll head off and see Namibia, Botswana (and the aforementioned Kenya) instead. Why waste the opportunity?

  • Tokyo, Japan

Cherry Blossom time! That is my main motivation.

  • Hawaii

Stunning beaches, dramatic landscapes, laid-back people. What’s not to love about it?

  • Morocco

It seems like a fascinating places and a couple of people I know have been there, and loved it. So, hey. Why not?

  • Tromsø, Norway (Northern Lights)

Definitely at the top of my bucket list. I want to do this with my mum one year. Somehow, we must make it happen. (Save! Save like the wind!)

  • Machu Picchu, Peru

I do love all that ancient wonders stuff and this seems so remote and amazing. I am thrilled to discover there is potential to go in January (um…save like the wind?)

  • Canadian Rocky Mountains

Cause I like me some mountains, okay? It’s a toss up between Canada and Alaska for the last spot really, but I’m going with the Rockies cause I’ve always kind of wanted to see them.

Related -
Top five places to visit in the US: New York, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, Denver.

Of course, New Zealand will be my main destination next year. Hopefully. It worries me how completely I’ve given my heart to the country… I doubt I’ll ever love another places quite as much as I love it.

Music: Read My Mind - The Killers

Monday, June 25, 2012

Every vessel pitching hard to starboard

I was having weird stomach pains pretty much all day today. I suspect this might be my body’s way of telling me that Heineken, a kitkat, an aero and donuts are not a suitable weekend diet. So I had to suck it up and make a proper meal this eve - and by proper I mean fry up the last of my potatoes in an attempt to recreate the surprisingly delicious potato meal from two weeks ago. It worked too, the were golden and crispy and nommish.

But I was again struck by the fact that, except for the times when Abbi feeds me, I pretty much live entirely off bread, cheese, pasta and potatoes. I am, for all intents and purposes, eating like Martin Crieff.

I can't afford to go out, to buy nice food - I live on toast and pasta - sometimes, for a treat, I have a baked potato!

This is my life. I am more of a student now than I ever was when I actually was a student. I'd like to think it's character building. And good practice for next year when I will be student again, without the benefit of living at home. If I get in, of course, which is highly unlikely if I don't start doing some research instead of just sitting around in the evenings, watching movies.

But this chair is so uncomfortable. Moan.

Anyway. Tomorrow I have a full day of induction, it'll probably involve some sort of hideous team building exercises. Joy. But on one hand, it's good that I'll be away since I've finished all my assigned work and nothing else has come in that they can give me. Oh, the curse of being too efficient.

I need to find a place I can loiter during lunch that is a) not at my desk, and b) not somewhere I have to buy something. I suspect this will prove tricky. I kind of miss the library I used to frequent back in north London - so convenient!

In other news, last week of the month means I am completely and utterly broke. Hate this monthly pay business with a fiery passion. I just hope my old job don't forget to pay me otherwise I will be completely screwed *crosses fingers* Can't wait for the end of the month - pay which means food and new things, bigger room, and tax refund time back home. All positives!

Oh, hey, spoke to the parental unit last night and discovered that they were embarking on a road trip with my aunt and uncle, driving all the way to Cape Town. 'Driving?' I exclaimed, in horror. 'Jesus. Why?' Cue manic laughter from the other end of the phone. Now, I know lots of people who have driven to Cape Town. I personally have never done it - coming from the aviation-privileged life that I do - can't say I've ever really wanted to either. But whatever. Their plan is to do it over three days (I suppose 1,603km isn't so bad divided) I'm envisioning some sort of Darjeeling Limited family quest of sorts. It's giving me novel ideas.

Actually, I just spoke to them and they are here now -

The Three Sisters. 1,066 km from where they started. In one day. So much for taking it easy and stopping along the way. Although knowing them, it was all probably achieved by excessive speeding (speeding runs in the family, we are terrible. In SA, pretty much all of my dad's side consider a good average to be 160km/h on highways. I think my dad once drove us to the coast in four and a half hours, a 630km journey which according to google should take 7-8 hours.)

Now they have to drive through the Karoo -

Which should be... different. I am sort of jealous, except for that bit where I'm terrified of deserts. Not desserts, for they are delicious. (Haha, I'm so witty. No? Oh. Okay.) Anyway. I'm quite interested to see how this little adventure pans out. They're having another ceremony for my granddad in the Cape and scattering the ashes. It's very appropriate since it's the place he was always the happiest and where he always wanted to go back to, but couldn't. So that should be special. Will see, I suppose.

Anyway. I suppose I have procrastinated as much as I can on this blog. Time to write something...

(This chair really is uncomfortable though. Severe back pain. Gah.)

Music: Don't carry it all - The Decemberists

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Put another dime in the jukebox

I’ve had a bit of an emotional rollercoaster of a week – all internalised of course because I clearly have issues. But I don’t really feel like getting into it. Let’s just say it was my grandfather’s funeral yesterday and it was quite tough to find myself sitting on the other side of the world to my family and being unable to support them. That’s really what upset me more than anything. I mean I feel pretty useless in those situations in general, but now it was a thousand times worse. Who knew that was possible? But yeah. Not getting into it.

So what have I been up to this week? Um. Good question. New job is still going well, I’m definitely enjoying learning new stuff…although learning more stuff right about now would be a plus. The team is really nice too, which is always a bonus. Friday was pretty hilarious as we were all working away so we could leave early, resulting in some classic one liners.

I also managed to finish three books in a week and a half, so I’m pleased with myself. It’s been so long since I’ve just read. It amuses me that one of the books (High Fidelity) actually dates back to January – I bought it in Paris when we first started our trip. But then I was of course sucked into reading A Song of Ice and Fire so it was forgotten. Lugged all over Europe, but forgotten. It’s so similar to the movie though, dialogue is virtually identical. One of my uni tutors once remarked that Nick Hornby didn’t write novels, he wrote screenplays. You can see where he got that idea from. The other two books I read was for book club - I’ll save my discussion for that. One of them is Fifty Shades of Grey so it'll no doubt be lively o_O

What else? I am terribly disappointed I missed the All Blacks game yesterday. I wandered down to my local pub to watch a replay of the Australia v Wales match, hoping they’d play the AB game afterwards but no, it was not to be. See, I would go to see it live but since it’s in 8.30 in the damn morning, it’s kinda hard to find a pub that’s open. I should just trek out to the Walkabout but…but…but. So. Yeah. I suppose I should be glad that it’s almost Tri Nations (Four Nations? What is it called now?) time, at least when they play in South Africa it’s a reasonable time here.

Other than that, I’ve spent this weekend watching movies. I feel like I watch a lot of movies lately. Since last Sunday, I’ve watched Rock of Ages (soooo much fun), Fast Five, The Muppets, Ratatouille, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (so good, I don’t understand how people think it’s boring), War Horse (despite my better ‘this is going to be so emotionally manipulative’ judgement), and Breaking Dawn Pt 1 (skeletal Bella is kinda terrifying.) I’m also still working my way through Homeland (oh, Damien Lewis, you are so amazing) and trying to finish off Merlin season 4 – that’s taking a while mostly cause I’m lazy and they’re just recycling the same story tropes which is a bit frustrating, but the show still has some desperately awesome adorkable moments so I’m trying to persevere.

And…yeah. That’s about it. My friend A was in town on Monday so we had dinner and I did one of those blitz tours – I’m getting quite good at those. It amazes me that since I’ve been here, I’ve had four sets of friends visiting. The world’s really quite a small place. But sadly she was the last of the planned visits. When I was first organising this year away business, there was talk of my parents dropping by in June/July but that’s obviously not going to happen now.

I have to do some writing today but I’m going to have to build up to it slowly, I think. Bit of a headache. Bit of an extreme laziness. Might watch another film first…

Music: I love rock n roll - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts