Thursday, February 21, 2013

Captain's log: Teleportation still not working

Today it seemed like everyone in the office was talking about their upcoming travel plans. It has made me incredibly restless. To travel! To go somewhere new! To be warm again! These are all things I very much approve of.

So I’ve spent a large part of today alternating between crying over my bank balance and researching potential holiday destinations. Somewhat ironically, none of them were warm. I still want to go to Helsinki and Tromso and Iceland, so those were my first thoughts. But if you’re going north at this time of year, you’d be mad not to fit in a Northern Lights experience and once I start factoring that in, everything gets kind of out of control. Plus I promised mum I’d go to Tromso with her. And I’m waiting for Kat to come visit so we can go to Iceland.

Casting those aside then, I realised I’m left with very little choice. I also realised that I can’t really talk about travel without sounding like a douche. Oops. Anyway, I don’t want to go somewhere I’ve already been so that immediately disqualifies most of western Europe. I also don’t want to go anywhere that takes longer than 10 hours to get to because that’s halfway home and feels like a waste of energy – which is really sad because most of the travel deals being pitched is for Fiji or Thailand. It would be incredibly lovely, but come on, it makes much more sense to visit those when I’m living in Sydney.

I thought about Turkey and Greece, but I’d prefer to do those with friends. I’m also quite keen to go to Morocco but again, it’s a bit of a drag to organise if you’re a solo traveller. And I’m lazy. And mostly driven by whimsy at the moment. So where can I go? Wheeeeere? If I’m not lured by the promise of fancy natural phenomena, then I want to be warm. I think maybe Portugal is the answer. I’ve only been to Lisbon, so there is scope for further explorations, and it was also surprisingly pleasant there around this time last year. So maybe there’s hope for defrosting after all.

Of course everything is hinged on budget flights, woe. I’m such a complete and utter airline snob. It’s horrific how bad I get about it. I disgust myself. I will sleep in a dodgy hostel and eat nutella out of a jar for dinner for a week, just don’t ask me to fly a budget airline. It is hell on earth.

Bizarrely, it would be cheaper for me just to go home for a two week holiday rather than go somewhere else. And because I am a lunatic, I am actually considering it too. Warmth!
Music: Bloodbuzz Ohio - The National

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Getting back into writing properly. Trying to decide which novel to focus on though so I'm going through some of the old bits. Can't believe I've basically not touched any of it in over a year.

None of this had been part of the plan. Granted, the plan had been pretty vague in a tour-record-???-success sort of way, but I could never have predicted how responsible I’d feel. Not just in terms of the band’s ultimate success or failure, but for them as people.

I hadn’t even known them at the start. Blake was just some prat in my French Lit class, and Chris was the tattooed guy he caused trouble with. Tyler was the stray they’d quite literally picked up at the side of the road, and Eric was the smart-arse in the bowler hat that gate crashed ESM’s practice sessions.

They were just caricatures, superficial, defined by their most obvious features. I even named them like that on my blog. Blake, due to his love of holey jumpers, his lip ring and shaggy hair, was Indie Boy. With his ever-changing hair colour and impressive tattoo collection, Chris became Captain Colour. I was the most unimaginative with Tyler who was simply The Drummer, but as he couldn’t focus on anything for more than five seconds and was allergic to shirts, he didn’t exactly give me much to work with. Eric became The Enigma because Goth Boy just didn’t cut it, despite his love of black clothes, The Sandman and Nine Inch Nails.

People judged, and boxed, and labelled. It was just instinct. I came to realise that the more time passed, the messier definitions became. Snap decisions were easy enough. It was getting to know them that made things complicated.

And it was complicated. The thing with Eric. The thing with Phoebe. Chris bouncing off the walls half the time, and Blake quietly trying to move in on my sister. And of course Tyler with the harpy girlfriend. I just wasn’t sure how it happened, or how I became personally responsible for making sure they emerged from all of this whole, and unscathed. Every day that passed made that feel like a greater impossibility.

‘Oli was in rehab, you know,’ I said, eyes fixed on the van’s stained roof. I hoped to never find out what could leave marks like that. ‘Record company paid for it. He lasted maybe two months when he got out.’ I pulled myself up again and glanced over at Eric. He was still down for the count. ‘I don’t get it. You’re a bloody genius and he’s The Badger Cult’s own Sid Vicious. What do you get out of it?’

He remained completely still. I sighed again and made my way to the door. We had four hours before we needed to head for the venue. If he couldn’t drag himself up by then, I’d just have to do it for him.

Movement stilled me just as I reached the front. Eric sat up on his elbows and looked at me from under his hair. ‘I like Oli,’ he said. ‘He makes me feel healthy.’

I slammed the door behind me as a reply. It bothered me that he said it so easily. Some people had an inherent darkness, a shadow they couldn’t quite shake. That was fine. I had no overwhelming urge to fix him. I just wanted to keep him alive. I was beginning to doubt whether he actually wanted that.

Music: My number - Foals

The opposite of love's indifference

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Not deep enough to never be found

Last week, I was lucky enough to have the chance to check out the one day only Frightened Rabbit Pop-Up Gallery on Carnaby Street. Ah, the joys of working in Soho!

For those who don't know, Frightened Rabbit is an amazing indie Scottish band. Their new album, Pedestrian Verse, was released yesterday and I cannot recommend it enough. Go. Get. It. I've been streaming it basically non-stop for a week, it is brilliant.

Anyway, the pop-up gallery was a promo for the album and featured loads of great prints, including the framed song lyrics from the new album, and objects used to create the album artwork. There were also guitars strewn about the place that were used to record the album, and docos projected on the wall. It was very cool, and an excellent use of our lunch hour.

There was also a free acoustic gig that evening. Now I've only ever seen Frightened Rabbit once (on NYE 2008, at the Purple Sneakers House Party at Manning House, instantly fell in love), so I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity - especially when I don't have tickets to their upcoming London show. So, off I went.

As I headed down after work, I had to stand around for quite some time (being a free show I figured it would fill up pretty quickly and I was definitely right about that) but it was well worth it in the end. Scott and Gordon played a selection of songs from Pedestrian Verse, including the brilliant bonus track 'If you were me' (and 'Holy', my personal favourite), as well as two old songs ('Old, old fashioned', yay!) Scott is such a charmer and with people sitting cross-legged on the floor, and spilling out through the doors into the courtyard, the whole set had a lovely communal atmosphere.

I'm just so thrilled I got to hear the new songs live, if only a couple of them. They're definitely one of my favourite bands around at the moment, such fantastic depth to the songs and often surprisingly twisted, which is the best kind of song, let's face it.

Do yourself a favour and check out Pedestrian Verse. Get February off to a good start for a change!

Music: Backyard Skulls - Frightened Rabbit

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sing, oh January

A whole month has passed since my arrival back in the UK and look, not a single emotional breakdown. Everything’s coming up Millhouse! Much has happened, however. The January blues well and truly blanketed the city, but nonetheless there is plenty to keep you busy. And keeping busy is key.

Most of the month was dominated by talk of a work trip to Frankfurt – I originally wasn’t meant to go, having just (rather sheepishly) returned, but was invited along at the last minute. Well, really, it was just a trip to Frankfurt airport (oh Frankfurt airport, how do I loathe thee, let me count the ways…) but hey, day off work, it’s all cool. Unfortunately, I had a horrendous wine hangover the day we flew out and proceeded to sleep through most of the presentations (that bit is actually not so unfortunate, they were very long-winded), but the festivities that evening made up for the suffering. It was a really fun time, even though it took approximately a week to recover from the lack of sleep and, what I liked to call, Frankfurt Flu. That was also the week of the snow. People freaked out. I was insanely gleeful. I can’t help it.

I don’t think the novelty of it will ever really wear off for me. And hey, it sets the perfect scene when I walk to/from work, listening to Bon Iver, breath puffing in the air. It’s actually all sorts of lovely. Even if it is freezing. And slippery. I was contemplating taking bets for how long it would take me to fall over but it didn’t really stick around very long and I somehow managed to remain upright. Somehow.

The only other major event was Australia Day, where I was the token Aussie in a group consisting of a South African, New Zealander and Americans. At least having a Kiwi in attendance meant that there were two of us to enthusiastically hound DJs all night to play John Farnham’s ‘The Voice.’ Cause it’s Australia Day, mate. It ended up being a very lively evening, even if it did lead us to the Walkabout. Still, was lots of fun. I shouldn’t be allowed on dance floors.

With things being otherwise quite sedate, I spent most of my free time on Abbi’s couch, indulging in all sorts of bad television/film choices. The most horrendous of the lot would have to be This Means War and Footloose, which we sadly watched on the same day. How can we endure such horror in such concentrated doses? You can read Ab’s reviews here. And when I'm actually home, and my lovely flatmate is in, I've been discovering why Wil Wheaton insists there's no such thing as too many dice.

Oh! I finally, finally, finished A Dance With Dragons. This is why we can’t have nice things! !! !!! See, it took me so long to finish cause I had to keep stopping when I became too enraged to continue. And now I’m caught up and have to wait with the other people! This is outrageous! I want closure! And happy Starks. Can’t we have happy Starks? *weeps*

But I digress.

I started watching Breaking Bad (so uber stressful) and Community (really enjoy it, but struggling to get into the second season.) I feel like I watch too much stuff. I need to cut back. Write more. Still, I haven’t seen any of the films that came out this month cause I am too flat broke, boo. I’ve never been this desperate for pay day in my life. Only two more days! There may be hope yet.

 Music: January Hymn - The Decemberists

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I want all that is not mine

It’s been ages since I blogged, and ages since I blogged anything that wasn’t lame and emo – I originally attempted to write something back in the second week of January and then got distracted…which I shamefully admit is often the way over here. Christmas, for what it’s worth, was brilliant. It was fun having family visit and getting to show them around Sydney, especially since most of them had never been overseas before. So yes, having a proper family Christmas at home made for a nice change.

Now I’m back in London and everything is great and lovely, and it’s baffling how this town feels so much like home. I don’t know how or when or why it happened, but somewhere around the end of last year it did, and so I find myself with a rather stupid grin on my face a lot of the time. It’s good to be back. I made the right call. Seems a bit pointless to do it now, but as I was on a plane on New Year’s day, I think I’ll allow myself this very (month!) late 2012 round up. So. Here goes -

Last year was pretty damn epic, all things told. I visited 14 countries, properly left home for the first time and set up a new life on the other side of the world (again.) There were some pretty significant downs during the year, but in the end it all evened out and I do not regret anything for a moment. Travelling, I think, is one of the best things you can do. And breaking out and standing on your own two feet is certainly a positive thing too. I think I’ve changed a lot, in a good way, so on that front, it was definitely a Good Year. And, to quote The Gaslight Anthem, I found that nothing truly matters that you cannot find for free.

Photo recap? Photo recap.

Best wedding ever?
Where it all began.
Because, Paris. Always charming. 
Lovely Lisboa, with it's many hills and sunshine and ginjinha.
Greatly overestimating the walkability of Barcelona.
Hobo-ing it up in Milan.
Freezing in Verona.
Because, Venice. Old school decadence.
Budapest. Unexpectedly amazing.
Hostel laundry night = despair.
Austrian National Library, Vienna. Want.
Neuschwanstein Castle in winter, so unbelievably picturesque.
Twitter exchanges about showers and shoe throwing. Ah, the madness in Prague. 
Being physically incapable of walking any further in Berlin.
Stockholm, natural habitat of the hipster...
...and hanging out with cool people.
Copenhagen. That's all. Just, Copenhagen.
London living.
Friends visiting and being touristy together.
And taking cool day trips with them.
Working in a ridiculously fun office.
Oh, and Olympic London. Pretty epic, really.

Also, drinking. Lots of drinking.
Halloween shenanigans.
Harry Potter fangirling.
Deep Scottish Love.
Multiple visits to pretty Edinburgh...
...and hanging out in Lizzie's fave cafe.
The realisation that, although things may change drastically in our lives, we'll always be a little insane.
Weekend in Northern Ireland.
Tourist life, yo.
Summer in Sydney. Still the best.
Afternoon beach walks with my dog. Missed it desperately.
Exploring new places and birthday celebrations.
The mayhem of a Sydney New Year's Eve.
No one does it better.
I’m not really one for making resolutions, but if I had to have a goal for this year, it would to finish one of my novels. And I want to get back to seriously researching, and applying for, my PhD. And I want to make the most of my year in the UK, just really get the most out of London living cause for all I know, this is the last time I’ll have this opportunity. I guess living life in the moment is the most important thing I learned last year, and that’s something I definitely want to keep up. And hell if you make mistakes or get hurt or find yourself disappointed, that’s important too, at least it means you’re actually living.

And, to end, here’s my top song of 2012. This band basically soundtracked the year.

Music: Smother - Daughter