Why I’m not going to Burning Man

When I started mentally drafting this post, it sounded a lot like a defense.  “Lady’s and gentleman of the jury, let me explain.”  It read like a persuasive rather than informative and (hopefully) encouraging speech.  Gross.  Why do I feel like I’ve got to defend myself?

Then I got annoyed at myself and decided I wouldn’t write it at all.  Eph you, fake audience, you don’t get an explanation.

Then I got annoyed again and realized this was an actual thing that needed to be addressed.  Mostly I want to address the fake audience we’ve all got, and the image we try and project.  I know you do it too.  I’m not that unique.

So here it is; why I turned down a free ticket to Burning Man this year.

It all started when I was homeless after camp and a friend of a friend let me move in.  Mollie lives in Phoenix (so I do too) and does theater-y stuff.  She’s friends with e’erybody, and while I peaced out for California to go on a #postcampportland road-trip with Camp friends, Mollie’s friend offered her a free ticket to Burning Man.  Mollie’s a real adult with a real job and things, so she declined, but gave this friend of hers my phone number and convinced him that not only am I totally un-psycho-y, but that he should give that free ticket to me.

So there I was, somewhere in Napa Valley with a belly full of wine, and I recieved a text offering me the ticket and the ride and a bunch of new friends.

To BURNING MAN.

Naturally I said yes.  My method is to agree to All The Things first, and then think them over.  We all stumbled to bed and the next morning, my camp friend and I headed back down the 5 toward Los Angeles. We debriefed our weird week of driving and camping and discussed the foreseeable future.

The more we talked about Burning Man, the more anxiety I felt about it.  For those of you unfamiliar, Burning Man is a week-long festival sort of thing in Nevada.  Lots of nakedness, lots of drugs, lots of “art”.  Then they burn a giant man.  Its supposed to be this spiritual thing and its really popular.  It used to be free but now tickets range from a couple hundred to (I fuck with you not) six-hundred dollars.

Its many people’s dream to attend, but for some reason (the price?!?!) I’ve never actually cared to go.  I’ve never had this burning (har har har) desire to experience it, and especially after my physically and mentally exhausting two months at Summer Camp, followed by being a bridesmaid for my old roommate, and then this weird West Coast Roadtrip, I’m just tired.  I’m homesick.  I want to buy a bike, get a job, start writing for my newspaper again, frequent my coffee shops, run around with my real friends, and not live out of a backpack for a while.  Plus I’ve already played around in Slab City and at the Rainbow Gathering, both of which aren’t total sell-outs yet.  (Want some ice for that wicked burn, Coachella?)

The problem is, this was free.  And what a way to cap off the summer!  And how envious, on a scale of envious to super envious, would this make everyone?! And how consistent with my wanderlusting, constantly curious, random and hyperactive lifestlye!

I tried to find the source my my decision-making anxiety and this is what I found; going to Burning Man upholds the image I project to my fake audience…but I didn’t actually want to go to Burning Man.

*gasp*

Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely am fairly adventurous.  I like spontanaiety and I like new places and people.  I genuinely like Kerouac.

But here I go defending myself.

The painful truth is that I want you all to think I’m this carefree Dharma Bum, endlessly adventuring and having a ball everywhere I go.  I want you to think I’m beautiful and fun-loving and never tired.  “Eyes incapable of anything but wonder…” just running around the world digging everything.

Its this totally one-dimensional idea I’m safe hiding behind.  If they think I’m a gypsy, they won’t question me.

Gross.

Because friends, people are all kinds of dimensions.  You are not a description, you’re a human being.  Sometimes you may like to hop in a van with strangers (see west coast roadtrip to the Rainbow Gathering, circa 2011) and sometimes you want to watch New Girl re-runs all day.

I don’t know why I pressure myself to be so easilly defined.  People mentally categorize everything because it makes processing them easier.  If I were to describe myself to you, I’d hand you some adjectives and you could file them away.  When I cross your mind you could quickly pull out my binder and see “vegan” and “writer”, along with a paragraph or two on “chronic depression” or “logical theism.”  There might be a whole page dedicated to “wanderlust”.

But those are just neat little adjectives and they’re one-dimensional, the way that we are not.  There’s more than two sides to a story, and there’s more to a person than the About Me description would have you believe.

I don’t want to categorize people like that.  I am consistently surprised by people wrecking my simplified judgments of them, and I’m learning not to put anyone in boxes anymore.  I want to extend that same curiosity and authenticity to myself.

All this to say, I’m not going to Burning Man.  I’m going back to Arizona.   Here’s to busting out of the box.  Here’s to not being impressive.

jess1 <tired selfie on the train.

(Last week I bussed from Phoenix to LA, caught a cab to Union Square, and was quite pleased with myself on the train toward my dad’s house.  Two days later three friends and I drove to Portland, camping in Big Sur and spots like it along the way.  Sometimes life is really good.)

 

SXSW and Food for Lovers

Sometimes life is awesome and gives you a tax refund, then an opportunity to go to a gigantic music festival for a week.

Oh yeah, South By South West baby.

hashtag-me-happy^because all the coolest still have bloody flip phones.

I took my tax refund and hopped in a van with two friends of a friend, and the three of us peaced out of Phoenix for Austin, Texas the Sunday before last.  The whole thing was one random hilarity after another, with little nuggets of soul-searching beauty and small revelations.  For instance, you know what I would rather be than funny?  Authentic.  I realized on this trip that while I used to take pride in the shit I could talk, lately I’m more into truth than sarcasm.  I’d rather be an instrument of love and peace, as cheesy as that sounds, than someone known for their sense of humor.

…speaking of cheesy, at SXSW I actually met the creators of the World’s first Vegan Queso.  You know me; I love decadent vegan food, and I love people who make a living doing something they believe in, so I totally ditched a concert to hear their story.

Meet Crystal and Chris Tate, the most adorable little vegan couple to ever take the country’s Mexican food-lovers by storm.

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I seriously just wanted to be their friend, they were that cool.  I talked with Crystal the most (over nachos, of course) about how this Austin-based queso found its way all over the country’s stores, as well as numerous restaurants.

A little background; When Crystal and Chris met, he was already vegan and she was already Hispanic, so their friendship formed over a love of tamales, burritos and the like.  Then it became more than friendship and she became vegan, and voila, the two were hanging out in Texas trying to live on a budget and eat delicious food reminiscent of Crystal’s background.

“We were so poor,” Crystal laughs.  “We used to walk to Taco Bell and split a bean burrito; that was our ‘going out’”.

Crystal, since feeling so much better on a plant-based diet, started a food blog where she shared tips and recipes.  One recipe in particular (this is where it gets good!) started getting an absurd number of hits a day.

Queso!

Chris got all entrepreneur-esque and suggested they take the recipe offline and start selling it.  Eventually the owner of Bouldin Creek Café, in Austin, had a taste and went absolutely nuts for it.  The three worked out a plan, and Bouldin started selling Crystal and Chris’s queso.    Within the first year they café sold over 300 gallons of the off-menu queso, just from mentioning it to customers.  Word spread, and in December of 2010 Whole Foods realized they needed to capitalize on this as well.  They called up our favorite couple and the rest is history.

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Today?  You can find this stuff anywhere.  Its sold all over the country, in tiny health-conscious restaurants (like Green!) and in huge health food superstores like Sprouts and Whole Foods.  Crystal and Chris come off like two kids who just won a prize at the state fair; they’re all wide-eyed about their success, totally humble and overflowing with gratitude for the supportive “love letters” their fans keep sending.

“Ten years ago we had, like, soy milk, and that was it for vegans,” Chris said.  “It’s just so cool to see this movement toward a more conscious way of eating, and people are realizing it doesn’t have to be plain and boring.”

And its queso that is a soy-free, twenty calories per serving (two tablespoons) and is naturally cholesterol-free.  AND your purchase supports individuals, not just some huge corporation.

The only sad thing about it is the gluten-free version hasn’t hit the shelves yet, but it will this summer.  You’re going to hear a shout for joy across so many GFV tables.

I asked the Tates what they would say to the general public about this whole thing, and both were in agreement; if their story is any testimony to the rest of us, its that you certainly can be the change you want to see in the world, and be successful doing so.

She says the most rewarding part of this entire whirlwind experience has been when they’re giving samples away in grocery stores.

“People will hand us their regular queso and buy ours instead.  They think it tastes better and they’d rather eat something healthier than not.”

That’s pretty awesome.  The more people find out about the food choices we have, the more they’re likely to chose a more sustainable and cruelty-free option.  Its all about exposing people to what’s out there.  This was honestly one of the highlights of South By; I certainly don’t want to punch numbers all day for the rest of my life; I want to work at something independent, geographically un-tethered, and consistent with my beliefs.  If these two can do it, why can’t any of us?

“Its not just huge companies that can do things like this,” Crystal insists.  “We were just making this out of our kitchen, and now look at it.  It’s in restaurants I didn’t even know existed.”

Find these loves on Facebook and go check out their website, http://foodforlovers.com/.  And let’s support people who are doing things.

100_1834^cheesy as peace and love on the way home

Getting restless

I’m getting poop-your-pants excited to start traveling again  Life here and now is wonderful, it really is, and I love the stability and friendships and dancing to silly Flo Rida tunes at Robbie Fox’s…but I am not done.  I am not done exploring and hostel-ing and wwoofing.  In fact, I only just got started.  Oz gave me a taste, showed me that it is possible and that I’m not alone in this yearning.  Its not only possible; it is good and holy.  Ask me why and I’ll tell you.

travel-Via Pinterest.  Follow me, if you please.

On Tuesday I was asked why; why travel at all?  How are people in Nepal any different than people here?  I blinked and tried to find an answer, but really we’re not that different.  Its not the differences that make me love them and love traveling, its the similarities.  How we’re all created by the same God who’s mad for us, and how we’re all doing our lives the best we know how.  That’s at least part of why I love traveling; it shows you how we’re all connected.  Its like reading Postsecret, only three-dimensional.  Do you know what I mean?  About aching for human connection?  You do, don’t you?  You feel it too, right?

I don’t know exactly how and when the next excursion is happening, but happen it must.  I’m looking into organizations that will help, and researching airline credit cards, and reminding myself that I am here, in this house with these roommates, until August, and I am not missing out and I am where I need to be.  And really, I do love it.  We do have fun…

rulabula-time of your life at Rula Bula.

That being said…here’s a cool link to other cool links.  Travel safe and do good.

In here and now news, my friends and I rode bikes all over Tempe with a boom box for the “Tour de Taco”, the boy and I broke up (apparently I just really, really like being single) and I’m completely unprepared for our girls-only camping trip this weekend.  Also, I’m getting off my ass (metaphorically speaking) and applying for writing gigs, as well as trying to volunteer with an urban garden in Phoenix.

Go travel.  Take silly pictures and go with the flow.  Learn and teach.  Remember to be intentional.

And keep it simple.

commute-essentials-commute essentials.

Tour de Taco!-tour de taco

 

Fossil Creek

 

My potential new roommate, her brother, and I went spur-of-the-moment to Fossil Creek yesterday.

Fossil Creek is amazing. I don’t know how I’ve lived in Arizona the past eight years and not experienced it. It’s near Strawberry and Payson, and you drive on this dirt road and park up at the top of this desert/forest mountain to start. I’m not used to that; I usually hike up to a destination and down, exhausted, to the car.  Fossil Creek tricks you.

It took about an hour and fifteen to get down the mountain, poor Kira running from one shady spot to another. The trail comes down to an oasis, where a couple people stop and just play in the creek there.

Don’t just stop and play in the creek there.

It gets so much better! We walked another fifteen minutes or so and came to a waterfall, where other twenty-somethings were throwing themselves over into the churning water beneath and then floating to a boulder.  I carried Kira to the other side since the current was too strong, and oohed and ahhed at the waterfall.

The Potential New Roommate and her brother were at the top of the fall getting ready to jump in. I’d already pardoned myself for not jumping; I hadn’t brought a swim suit, I wanted to stay with Kira, blah blah blah.  However, watching the PNR and her brother up there, encouraging her to jump, wasting my camera battery keeping it poised for the moment of truth…I knew I had to do it.

Its not that I feel like I have something to prove, or I want to be a badass and jump off waterfalls.  I just need to do these things, for me.

When I was a little kid we went to a beach in California where elephant seals migrated to every year. They beached themselves on the shore to have their babies, fight each other, and mate. No particular order. The first time we discovered this, my family did the whole “no trespassing sign? What no trespassing sign?” thing and hung out on the beach, feet away from these massive animals.  My dad even got my brothers to sneak up and touch the things.  He tried to get me to do it, but I was, like, six, (and wise!) and wouldn’t do it.  We left that afternoon and I remember feeling sick to my stomach with regret; I should’ve touched one of the seal’s tails. My dad would’ve protected me! I would’ve been fine! My four-year-old baby brother did it!  I burst into tears and begged to go back, but we were too far.  And the rest of migration season we couldn’t make it back.

Finally, the next year, we made the drive and I determined to touch a flipping elephant seal.

Do you know what’s coming? Are you already disappointed? Ugh, I am just telling you about it.  We arrived at the beach and, lo and behold, there was a fence and a park ranger patrolling that fence.  There was no way to get around him and his khaki shorts.  Every year thereafter there were khakis and that damned fence, and I will probably never get another opportunity to touch an elephant seal.

All this to say, I found a stranger to hold Kira’s collar and I propelled myself off the waterfall.  Twice.

It was terrifying standing up there! It was exhilarating to free-fall.  It was fulfilling to float with the current to the boulder everyone was chilling on.

I was congratulated and then shown this massive cave in the water, with another cave under the water in the big cave.  We’re planning on returning with goggles and more snacks (adrenaline apparently makes you hungry like the wolf), and a completely charged camera battery.

You need to check this place out! Fossil Creek is amazing, a little known heaven away from the crowds of easier-to-get to play areas.  As PNR’s brother observed, there were no whiny kids running around* or jerks leaving their garbage everywhere.

We even found a tarantula on the way out. For the win!

*Um, when I bring my children here they won’t be whiny.  Pinky-promise.

America; the Southerly regions.

Got this burning, burning, yearning feeling inside me.

I want to go to South America.

Two days ago I was melancholy thinking about it, because is there anything more selfish than traveling?  And yes, I realize this is the same ground I’ve trodden and crawled over and examined before, but it resurfaces every time wanderlust gets the better of me.

“Wanderlust is not passion for travel exactly; its something more animal and fickle – something more like lust.”
-Elizabeth Eaves
Wanderlust; a love affair with five continents.

“Travel is like adultery: one is always tempted to be unfaithful to one’s own country. To have imagination is inevitably to be dissatisfied with where you live. There is in men, as Peter Quennell said, “a centrifugal tendency.” In our wanderlust, we are lovers looking for consummation.”   
-Anatole Broyard

My melancholy is for this; traveling has virtually no “kingdom value”; its not explicitly blessing other people and the intentions for it are entirely self-centered; I want to see the world. I want to experience other cultures. I’m going to spend this money on my adventure.  Even I want to learn is selfish.

Then I realized, hello, do like all my friends do and volunteer abroad!! I started googling volunteer opportunities in Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, etc. Orphans, widows, wildlife, oh my!  I even, to my shame, looked into short-term missions trips.

This didn’t last very long because my conscience won’t allow it.

For one thing, I don’t believe in short-term missions trips. And neither do the real missionaries. Sure, we of the white western descent love to serve the less fortunate. Every summer you can see the suburban missionaries parade into Mexico, Argentina, Belize, etc. with their kids’ crafts and their Jesus stickers, leaving in their wake some good memories, emotional highs/lows, and a quiet dependence. We the Fortunate bring home good memories, emotional highs/lows, and lessons learned. We may even carry along a gnawing feeling that our missional vacation didn’t actually do any lasting good.  Maybe we’re the only ones who benefited from it.

Plus, all that money raised and spent on our “life-changing” mission trips could fund a real missionary’s family for months, possibly the whole year.

Check out; http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/2011/09/using-your-poor-kid-to-teach-my-rich.html

Enough on that for now.

The second reason I despaired over my voluntourism ideas is because its just that – voluntourism. Its simply a way for me to go do my selfish traveling and feel justified in doing so. “Its for a cause”, I whine. It would just be a way for me to feel good about myself, maybe a bit self-righteous too.  Its not that I actually care about people; I just don’t want to feel guilty.

The revelation of which caused more despair, and I threw myself onto the couch.

“Woe is despicable me!”

Also, I don’t believe our volunteer efforts do much good.  We ought to be empowering and building community from the inside out, not strutting in and laying out the blueprints.  We usually ought to not do for the poor what they can (and should) do for themselves. Check out http://www.whenhelpinghurts.org/

I’m reading the book and it is blowing my mind.

So where does one turn? What does one do?

We’re supposed to live in service to others, as blessings to others, and point them away from ourselves and to the Lord.  So how?  And what do you do with wanderlust?

So I phoned a friend.  That friend being, of course, my father, who quoted Slingblade at me (“That Frank, he lives inside of his own heart. That’s an awful big place to live in.”) and told me to just go to South America for kicks and giggles.

Not that my dad is the authority on all things moral, but it’s nice to have parents who are encouraging.  Even if they’re encouraging a directionless, experience-grasping existence. ;)

In all seriousness though, how do you feel about traveling for fun?  How do you feel about short-term missions and voluntourism?

I came to the conclusion in Oz that traveling wasn’t sin and in fact does much good.  For example, teaching appreciation for all people and learning that Amurica’s way of life is not only not the only way out there, but also not necessarily the best.  And remember Warriuka? I was able to volunteer at two camps, one of which was dangerously low on leaders.  So what do you say to that?

I would rather be honest with myself, with God and with you, about my reasons for going somewhere or doing something. I can’t pretend its for anything other than learning, fun, and to experience the complexities, the beauties and tragedies, of creation. I’d rather not try to pull one over on you, on God, and even on myself.  I want truth at any cost.  I’d feel more guilt as an imposter.

And you know what? I even have a friend who wants to go with.  He’s a complicated friend, but a friend nonetheless, and I can’t imagine a better vagabonding partner.

All this to say…

I have four dollars in the account now, but the account is called Chile, and friend, it will grow.

http://www.wwooflatinamerica.com/

Retrospect whale sharks

As promised, here’s some whale shark pictures.  The first one is of Matt and I fulfilling my Aussie fantasy of jumping off a cliff into the marina.  It was taken by this awkward and adorable little boy who’s countdown began with “ten” instead of “three”.

Longest ten seconds of Life.

And the whale sharks? Every picture is more stunning than the last. If you’re wanting to see more, let me know and I’ll post a couple others. I have more snorkeling shots too

One week left

Well friends, the final countdown has officially begun. In a week I’ll be suspended in the air somewhere between Australia and Burbank, Ca.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. I realized last night that, as real and present as everyone around me seems, and as perfectly I hear their voices and can watch movement on their faces, in a month’s time they will be memories. They will be Facebook likes and one-dimensional instagrams. Draw Something will be my most consistent form of communication.

I wont hear them anymore. How weird is that?

The trade-off? Frick, I miss my friends back home. I see how I’ve taken them for granted, how I sacrificed my relationships with people so as to save money for this trip to Oz. I see how I’ve taken my state for granted. How often do I take advantage f the natural beauty and free Fun in Arizona? Why the hell don’t I talk to my sister on a regular basis?

And I actually am excited to be in my own space. I’m excited to walk into a room and not have an accent. I’m excited to not have to explain myself to anyone in the room. I’m stoked to order an iced coffee and receive an iced coffee. I’m excited to rest and not look so haggard.

Although…and more on this later…but I do, in fact, hope to look tired by the end of my life. I’d rather be used up than wasted. I’d rather be tired than bored.

Update;
I stayed over at Matt’s house the other night, and the next morning his mother and I got to talking about what traveling is really like. We talked about how no one back home has the attention span to listen to the things that actually meant something, and how it doesn’t matter since those experiences don’t translate anyway.

I’ve done a lousy job of keeping you posted. I was busy. I was learning. I am still growing. It wouldn’t have translated anyway.

My last week in Oz is packed. On Saturday we had a pre-Easter party that involved and abandoned train tunnel in the forest, and on Easter I shared a bike-ride with the fore mentioned friend into Fremantle. We sampled organic fruit and then jumped off cliffs into the marina. We met our friends at the park for a chocolate Easter egg hunt and then a few of us went to a house (the one I’m currently crashing at, actually) to watch Iron Man 2. Then there was church and dinner, and today (Monday) was for building tepees for Janet and Alex’s combined cowboys and Indians birthday party. We then got a group and saw the Titanic, in 3D.

And tomorrow? Pete is bringing me to the airport for my flight to Exmouth, and on Wednesday I am snorkeling around Turquoise Bay and swimming with whale sharks. (impulse tour buy) I fly back to Perth on Friday and am peacing out for Margaret River until Sunday. Sunday is Brittany’s going-away party (girl’s moving to Fiji for a year) and that’s the last time I’ll see them all. (in the foreseeable future).
I’m staying at Janet’s and she is hugging me goodbye at the airport by four am.

See? I can’t make it translate. I can’t make it more real than it is.

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Disaster!!

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From reading my blog (which…you are doing) one may conclude this trip o’ mine has been one happy-go-lucky, adventurous fairy tale, complete with instant best friends, quokka-kissing, and free farm-stays. I’ve even bottle-fed wallabies and walked dingos on a leash. And while I’ve certainly been too preoccupied to chronicle my day to day details (and my god, would you read that? I’d be bored to tears reading that.) it hasn’t been all fun and games.

At Uralla, I met an Italian girl named Marty who had two contradictory words you could count on her saying, depending on the situation. The first was “beautiful”, like, the salad is beautiful, the French boys in the vineyard were beautiful, your feelings for the kangaroos were beautiful. There we’re also “disasters”, which were situations ranging from the bumps in the road while we braced ourselves in the back of Ian’s truck, to the visa complications (eh, fraud) Marty was having with the Australian government.

Anyway, I’ve left Uralla but can’t stop declaring everything to be either beautiful or disastrous. (I do so with with Italian flare; don’t you doubt it.)

I’ve told you a lot about the beautiful here, but now that I’m over the halfway mark of my Australia trip, I’d like to take a break from all that oohing and ahhing. I want to tell you about the disasters.
I’d rather read somebody’s goofs than their vacation play by play, and I assume you’ve got at least similar sadistic tendencies as well.

So here goes. This is by no means conclusive, and if the rest of this trip resembles the first half, this will be frequently updated. Hope you enjoy my disasters as much as I hated them.

January 16th
Was awesome and got to the airport two hours early. Kissed my teary-eyed father goodbye and made friends with a photographer from New York.
And my flight was cancelled.
Disaster!
There were airplane complications, so they rebooked me for a flight the following night. I used my new friend’s phone to call the only people i knew in California, and couldn’t at first get a hold of my dad, my mom, my anyone, except my friend Ryan. He was planning on picking me up, and then my dad called back. He was going to send my poor Nona to pick me up. MUCH complication here’ trying to coordinate my pickup with both Ryan, my Nona and my father, when all the sudden they were calling my name in the airport speaker. There was a spot open on the next flight, and if I got p there now they would get me to San Francisco in time to catch another flight to Sydney.
I told my new buddy to tell my dad, and then I raced through Security and onto the plane. I didn’t find out until later the panic I caused everyone.i think they thought my photographer friend had ‘napped me.
Oy

January 18th
In the chaos of the aforementioned airport disaster, I’d had just enough time to post a cursed status on facebook that I’d be in Perth a day late. I was literally running through the airport in San Fran, and then customs in Sydney, and never really had time to contact people and tell them otherwise. There was a quick blurb I was able to post while I stood in the boarding line at one airport, but it only seemed to confuse my Australian friends more. Poor Brooke; she couldn’t tell if I would be there Wednesday or Thursday, and I was helpless on an airplane for fourteen hours, unable to put her mind at ease. I was able to get online in Perth and contact her, but it was hot mess. She and her two friends were amazing about it though.

January 19-21ish
Um, guess who’s debit card wasn’t working anywhere? Yes. Mine. I had to borrow money from my new best friend to get through a few days of trial and error. Some ATMs work, most do not, with Wells Fargo visa cards. This is one of those you need to discover before being alone on another continent. Foresight, Jess Moran, foresight. Also, I did in fact need a phone out here and had to buy a cheapo little thing in town. I spent more money that first few days than I did in the following two weeks. Not exaggerating.

January 20
Definitely thought I was a badass and decided to ride a rented bike from Perth city centre to Fremantle, where I was to meet friends for a concert. Definitely can’t read a map (I am American). What could have been an hour and a half cruise along the coast turned into an almost three hour, panicky, dehydrating excursion by bike through neighborhoods, yacht clubs, dirt paths, up stairs, to a pub…where I was not a badass and I asked for directions please fortheloveofgod. Oh, it was noon when I left Perth. Oh, it’s summer out here.

It gets better. Wait for it.

I finally made it to the fricking city of Freo and basically passed out into my smoothie at the only cafe with Internet. They were closing in an hour (disaster) and as I struggled to my bike to leave, I discovered I had no idea where I’d placed the bike lock key. The baristas and I searched all over the sidewalk, in the bathroom, under couches, through the fruit bowl, to no avail. I my heatstroked haze I’d somehow lost the key.

Enter new best friend, Josh, who was with Brooke when she picked me up from the airport. He showed up on a white horse with a sword (ish) and lifted my bike over the sign post it was locked to, and wheelied it to the brewery, where my sweaty mess of a Self met his family and drank all their water.

The concert friends? They saved me from the brewery by taking apart the bike and depositing it at the house we were having pre-concert dinner and drinks.

The concert itself? I’ve heard it was interesting. I wouldn’t know; I passed out for real In the back bedroom of the pre-concert house.

January general
I keep losing things. Like Kristen’s cooler, my nalgene, my camera charger, Kristen’s silverware, etc etc. So embarrassing! And inconvenient for everyone. I’m not ditsy, I’m just distracted. Right?

February 1st
The bus stop I was told to get off at by my first WWOOF host did not exist. At least not the way I understood it to. (Read; I misunderstood) And the driver was frazzled, as the bus had broken down for half and hour and he had to deal with this smartass teenager in the back. He basically threw up his hands in despair and brought me to the bus station in the kalamunda hills, where I was not meant to be. I had Kristen email my host the situation. She called, fuming, and we, you know, sorted out the confusion and I got onto a new bus with a more knowledgeable bus driver. (He took my haphazard description of where I was meant to be and deducted the exact location of my pick up.) That started off my first WWOOFing on shaky grounds, wouldn’t you think?

February 17
Em, that combative nature I was talking about? It is exasperated by my tendency to be…snarky. I think snarky is the word.

Confronted with racism like I’d never experienced, (was asked, genuinely, if i had noticed an intellectual difference between my black ex and my white ex, and did I understand that there was, in fact, a great divide in evolution between we civilized whites and the aboriginals…but they may catch up one day if we help them) I not only caused GREAT awkwardness at the dinner table by arguing back, but great offense to the racist. And then instead of relenting and allowing him the last word, I went all snarky on his ass and grinned; “you’re the boss, applesauce.”*

I was declared “quite rude”.

I took him outside and apologized, trying to explain that the use of the word “nigger” got me all bristly, and then went to my room and cried and wanted to go home. He brought me a glass of wine. All was well (ish) from then on out.

February 27
Felt cool checking into My First Hostel. Tripped up the stairs.
Still a dork, even in foreign countries.

Oh, that camera charger I lost? Can’t find a replacement, save for the SIXTY dollar universal charger in Albany. Defeated, I bought the damn thing, couldn’t figure out how to work it, cried, couldn’t return it, figured it out, ate cereal and went to bed.

February 29
Was really cool with my vegan, gluten-free box of muesli on the bus en route to Northcliffe. Was much cooler than those who are Under Law, the law being “don’t eat on the bus”. Was not too cool to spill half the contents of my cereal box on the floor beneath me. (Not. Exaggerating.)

No worries; I am quick-witted and covered that mess with my bag. What my driver can’t see, isn’t
disaster.

March 3
I’m WWOOFing at a berry/vegetable farm in Northcliffe, and we are also painting my hosts’ new house. (It’s been in the works for four years, as they’re doing virtually everything themselves.) the other day we got started and needed to dump the previous days’ buckets of paint-soaked water. I picked one up, but was distracted by something floating inside. I touched it, but got weirded out. Diana, my host, said, “heh, a rag” and grabbed the dead mouse full-on. She shrieked, and I became dramatically female and flung the bucket away from us.
Blue water all over Roy’s car, their ceiling, the lawn…frick frick frick.

I spent the rest of the afternoon up on a ladder, straining my neck like a brontosaurus, wiping the absolutely baked-on paint drops off the ceiling. Such a backtrack; there was no progress from me that day.

“Fucking mouse,” I lamented. “Who thinks its ok to drink that color blue water?!?”

To be continued. Hopefully not when I climb the bicentennial tree in Pemberton tomorrow…

*I’m not very original. That line is from the movie, Factory Girl, which portrays the rise and fall of Edie Sedgewick. At one point in the film, Andy Warhol humors something Edie has said by affirming that she is the boss (applesauce). I always found the line wonderfully, playfully cynical, and have never had the right opportunity to copy it until now. I should probably learn to grit my teeth instead, but that’s a topic for another day.

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On a lighter note…

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I am having a great time. I am meeting so many people whom I genuinely enjoy and already care about. I’m trying not to think about how pitifully I’ll cry when I leave this place; it’s that good. Circles of friends keep intertwining; I meet a handful of people on Aussie day, and get re-aquatinted with them at Laneway Music Festival two weeks later. Or I meet a couple new best friends camping, and meet up again after my farm stay to play beach volleyball. I’ve gone to St Matthew’s church twice with Kristen, Brittany, and my other new friends, and tonight I’m going out to dinner with a few more.

And everyone knows each other. Seriously. You can play seven degrees of separation with everyone you meet.

Tomorrow I leave for a wildlife sanctuary near Albany, which I am obviously stoked about. After that I’ll spend two nights being touristy in Albany before heading off to a vegetarian berry farm in Northcliffe, and from there to an alpaca stud farm in Denmark.

After that, and here is the real climax of this trip, I can already see, I am volunteering at two Christian camps with ANOTHER friend of a friend. I won’t be back in Perth again until April sixth.

I’m so nervous to go out on my own! I’m in another country, on another continent, but I’m actually more anxious about leaving the comfort of this city and the friends I’ve met than I was to leave America.

Weird.

Hope you enjoy the pictures! And seriously, I appreciate you reading this messy, jumbled little blog of mine. It really means a lot to hear your feedback, whether in the comments or privately.

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We don’t really drink Fosters.

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I’m going to try to write more regularly; it’s just difficult to create a schedule because I never know from day to day when I’ll be preoccupied. I guess traveling is that way.

Although, more than traveling I’ve just been hanging out with new friends in Perth. Yesterday was Australia day so while my current host, Kristen, worked on a mountain of psychology paperwork I fought the crowds and went snorkeling at Mettams beach.

The fourth of July has nothing on Australia day. Australians get rowdier, start drinking earlier, and take their characteristic friendliness to the utmost level. While snorkeling I met a middle-aged man who, upon hearing my “accent” (what?!?) took it upon himself to show me all the cool areas of the reef. He named fish for me, caught me a starfish, and shared an apple with me on the sand later.

I love Australians.

After this, I grabbed lunch at the marina and Kristen picked me up to go barbecue hopping. The first was mellow, and the record-defying heat suddenly turned into monsoon-like drizzling. Word of advice; do no drink Emu Exports. Nastiest beer I’ve ever tasted. It’s a joke here, the only day they drink the stuff is on Australia day. Yuck yuck yuck.

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Kristen’s parents had given me a bottle of wine, just for keepsies (they like me) and another for the parties. We broke that sweet nectar out at the second BBQ.

Which was so much fun!

Being a vegetarian can make BBQs a bit awkward sometimes, and I usually have clif bars stashed in my purse. This time I’d brought trail mix. But there was no need! Our lovely hostess had made six of the most elaborate and delicious salads ever; my plate looked like a rabbit’s wildest fantasy. Bliss.

The sky was getting angrier but we loved it. Ever since I’ve arrived here Aussie’s have been telling me how unusual the weather has been. It’s been getting more humid every year, and the past few days we’ve found ourselves in a heat wave. Over a hundred fahrenheit everyday, and then the storm last night? Absolutely wild.

A number of us forsook the fireworks over the river for dancing under the lightning. Favorite moment; coming back from the bathroom to the dance “floor” and one of the guys flailing his arms in exagerated dance movements and shouting, “Are you excited?! Get excited! You’re in another country! Dancing in the rain on it’s national holiday!”

How true.

It’s Friday now, and this weekend is shaping up to be an excellent farewell to Perth before I leave for my first wwoof host, which happens to be a free-range chicken farm. (Guilt-free eggs!) I’m going camping this afternoon until tomorrow afternoon at Wedge Point, a place you have to four-wheel drive to get to. Saturday evening is a girl’s Hen party, which, because she is Australian I was invited to. Sunday we are snorkeling again, going to church at night, and wandering around Kings Park in the city just afterwards. First and foremost I need to retrieve my hired bike from Brooke’s house, (which is a bus to a train to another bus away, except that a Canadian-turned Australian at the party last night offered me a ride to the last bus station), ride it to the train station, take train into the city, return it, and bus/train/bus back to Kriten’s.

You need to know something interesting about Australians, something I’m planning on elaborating on soon; (my ride to the station is almost here)

Australians travel. They’re almost expected to. While in America it’s perfectly acceptable not to have a passport, Australians can’t fathom such a thing. They spend their gap years in the UK, the spend holidays in Bali, they road trip all over their country. They take a more relaxed approach, it seems, to this whole young adulthood thing than Americans do.

I have a friend who has no real career aspirations just yet. All he wants to do is explore. However, his sense of responsibility and moral obligations to his family prevent the kind of traveling he would like. His trip to Europe, a relatively tame excursion in lieu of say, certain Australians who have biked around Vietnam, practically broke his parents’ hearts. They want their boy to be a successful business man.

Because he loves them and doesn’t want to break their hearts, and because he cannot invest in a lifestyle he doesn’t feel, the boy feels stifled and stagnate. He isn’t doing what he loves and he isn’t doing what they love.

Is this right? How are we supposed to maneuver through our twenties fulfilling cultural expectations without even experiencing other cultures? Are we that positive we’re doing it right?

More later. More pictures too. Probs of Wedge Point.