Hollywood Walk of Fame ( Shame)

As Catch up with a Mate month 2017 come to an end – a nostalgic post.

Picture this: a 23-year-old Austinmer girl catches a plane from her temporary home in London, bound for the US, to reunite with a best friend, studying at San Diego University.

After much socialising and sight-seeing, best friend encourages solo travel to L.A, and proposes a nights stay at the Venice Beach Cotel ( Hostel). Girl from Austinmer, via London takes advice to heart and catches a grey hound bus L.A bound.

Girl from Austinmer is lost for words, over come by the sights, sounds, smells and size of the concrete monstrosity that is L.A. Venice Beach is her refuge, along with countless vodka and oranges downed at the hostel bar. Venturing out into the night with new-found friends, she is refused entry at a Santa Monica Bar. Aussie charm open’s doors, but no sooner had she entered the club, that the urge to be sick is overwhelming.

Sitting the gutter, feeling somewhat better, being comforted by ….someone….she is escorted back to the hostel.

‘ Girl do you want a tatoo?’ is the last thing she remembers being asked, before vomiting, into her hostel room bath tub.

Girl from Austinmer, sits feeling so sorry for herself the next morning on a bus tour of Hollywood. Jumbo sized lemonade from 7- Eleven in hand, as the tour weaves and winds its way across the city. She is sick countless times.

At midday, the bus tour sees her alight at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is underwhelming, it is dirty, it smells. The glitz and glamour of the movie industry is nowhere to be seen.

She walks up and down the boulevard, glancing over names in pavement,  Michael Jackson, Shirley Temple, but the heat of the day forces her to take shelter under the cover of a shop awning.

Then a voice: smooth, velvety, deep, croons in her direction:

‘ Girrll, you qualified!!’

The effects of her hangover takes hold, muddled head, slow comprehension – did he mean her?

The voice comes at her again ‘ Oooo Girrrlllll, yes, you, You qualified!!’

The girl from Austinmner realises the man’s comments are intended for her. He points at her lower back, smiling broadly, revealing a sea of white teeth.

She swivels at pace, turning her back towards the reflective glass of the shop front, pulls up her t-shirt.

Bunnies, two humping bunnies, making sweet sweet love have been drawn in thick black texture at the base of her spine.

Face red, she pulls down her t-shirt, hikes up her pants, holds head high, composes self and heads to towards tour bus.

Bestie greets girls from Austinmer at San Diego Grey Hound Bus terminal. The ‘ tatoo’ and the story surrounding its origins are retold.  Camera lights flash – paparazzi. Laughter, plenty of laughter.

Yet all I could hear was that  deep velvety voice ‘ Girl, you qualified’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tokyo City

20160504-085200.jpgI have been swept across city streets by the sheer momentum of people power.
Bright city lights have blinded my gaze, stopped me dead in my tracks,transfixed.

Fascinated by plastic window displays, I have been lured into food halls & restaurants.

Tastes, smells, textures foreign to my western palate have delighted- each mouthful savoured.

The natural beauty within the city has welcomed me with open arms when I needed respite.

The lush green parks, clear ponds and the countries ‘celebrity tree’ ,the cherry blossoms restoring my energy levels so as to navigate with ease outside the manicured gardens.

I have been reacquainted with old friends and reminisced over wine & coffee, laughed, cried and created new memories.

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I have toured to new places, via train, monorails, and on foot, meeting new people and many cats along the way.

Tokyo, you have exhausted and overwhelmed, amazed and inspired me.
The frenetic pace to which you operate has me puzzled- that I could survive you is something I am grappling with.

Each time I craved solitude you just up’ed the volume, increased the numbers.
You constantly surprised me and for that I am thankful.

I came unprepared, unaware & with no expectations.
I leave with a head full of possibilities and grand ideas about our next encounter.

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B is for Brazil

Smiles all round- Brazil Brazil Brazil

Smiles all round- Brazil Brazil Brazil

It is strange in life, when you become fixated on an idea; something becomes a driving force, a goal, dream, a passion…

Ask me 6 months ago about my interest in the country Brazil, the idea of travelling there, its people, its cuisine…I would have simply shrugged my shoulders and rattled of a list of other places round the world I longed to visit. I could have given you diverse reasons for my desire to travel to Spain, Italy, the ever familiar UK or NYC.

But Brazil…no….It has long been a place I wanted to travel too….one day…someday….When exactly? Not fussed. Who with? Not sure. Why? No particular reason.

Ask me now about my interest in Brazil and the idea of travelling there…..And you would struggle to shut me up.

Yes, it is strange how the passing of time, the willingness to be open to opportunity and challenge…creates a space for one to explore, ponder and dream.

Six months ago, I started a job at Sydney University as an Internship coordinator, placing International student’s in a broad range of workplace internships throughout the city. I worked with students from the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden and Norway….Brazil…not so much.

Fast forward a couple of months, and due to a Brazilian government scholarship fund, which enables Brazilian students to study abroad all expenses paid…. I have placed in excess of 190 Brazilian students in research internship placements…and the program isn’t showing signs of slowing down in 2014.

Through this student group, the interaction with academics and peers…my love of all things Brazil has grown…..I might not speak Portuguese but I have can speak Portuguese English VERY well….

‘I have a doubt’ means ‘ I have a question’
‘Worked’ is pronounced ‘ Work – ed’ eg I work-ed at the bank in my home country.

And so on….

Yes, I am no longer content to sit in an office block in Sydney; working with this student group without having visited their home country…I need to work out for myself why their smiles are so bright, their laughter infectious and their love of friends, family and home country so evident……

May the day soon dawn when I turn the computer off, put down the data entry….put on my Havaiana flip flops…and board the next plane to Rio….

Click on the link below to read about the Brazilian student group at the University of Sydney, the student group that make me smile xx
B is for Brazil

Eat Pray Love….Vomit

In 2009 I attempted to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s international best seller ‘ Eat Pray Love’.

I did not get past page 50.…the book repulsed me, or to put in more kindly, did not agree with me.

The fact that I was unable to loose myself in Gilbert‘s story concerned me slightly…every where I looked in 2009, on buses and trains, commuters were engrossed in HER book, dinner party conversations and work place chit chat were dominated by three words ‘ Eat, Pray, Love‘…followed by ‘ Have you read it?’

I despaired….Why could I not be caught up the ‘ Eat Pray Love’ phenomena?…What was wrong with me?  If I took Oprah’s word for it, Gilbert’s book represented the  voice of the modern women.

Yet this voice did not define ME

I could not relate to Gilbert’s tale of woe, the collapse of her marriage and the state of detachment she found herself in as a result.

The reality I know is that when life events throws you of course, be it through divorce, illness, death, heart-break, …is that things get tough…really tough

Things get worse before they get better.

But they get better.

And I for one could not relate to the luxuries that Gilbert’s lifestyle afforded her at a time of crisis. If only the everyday women could be provided the same opportunities for personal growth and development, healing and discovery…spending months on end in ashrams in India, eating Gelato in Rome, finding divine peace through yogic practice in Bali.

When shit hit’s the fan I reach for a block of chocolate and watch Anne of Green Gables on repeat…on my couch…at home.

No one has EVER offered me a book deal to document MY healing process…or suggested I take a year off to FIND myself!

The end, enough said…moving on! I just sound bitter!

Bali in 2012– I have returned for the Ubud Writers and Reader Festival…it is day three of the four days festival…and I have once more been seduced by its charms, its literary wonders, music, film and dance spectacles, charged conversations and powerful ideas.

And as I lay awake this morning ( the result of a SUGAR hangover)  I wrote this post in my head before I committed it to print….The effects of sugar on my body I am learning, is an over active mind and an inability to be still / find peace.

Try as I might to refute it…I am living 10 days a la Elizabeth Gilbert…. hence the words below shall fall under the heading ‘ Eat Pray Love….Vomit’ ( self-indulgent writing warning below)

Maybe Ms Gilbert you did have a point after all…We all have a duty of care to ourselves, to do just that, look after ourselves, within whatever means we are allotted in life.

And just like Ms Gilbert, I find myself writing about MY journey ( but without the million dollar book deal!)

28th September – Pre Bali

I was tired

I was agitated

I was unsure of myself

I was underestimating my abilities

I did not smile at the small things

I had forgotten my motto for 2012 was to  ‘ expect the unexpected’

Yet, despite the presence of these feelings…I was HAPPY

Mid way through Ubud Holiday –  5th October

I was still struggling to let go of pre-concieved ideas….I was wondering around Ubud thinking…this just isn’t the same as last time?

Then it came to me….

It was NEVER going to BE

And upon realising this….I became aware that….

I know more about myself than I had been prepared to give credit for

I have come far, changed so much, since my 2010 trip to Bali

There is still a long way to go….

Bring it ON

And as a result I enjoyed immensely day two of the festival…the writers, film makers, singer song writers, the company of my fellow volunteers, the festival patrons…

It all just came together…..day two of the 2012 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival

Today is day three…I am so excited…I have the hottest ticket in town in my hands, cocktails and conversation with the one and only : Mr Nick Cave….I don’t understand the allure…But I want too!!

To be continued

Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2012

In a couple of hours I will board a flight, an international flight….I am bound for Ubud, Bali.

I am excited about my 10 day holiday.

But I just got home from a café breakfast, walked home through the parklands, collecting my laundry from the laundromat on the way…

And with each step I took on my morning stroll, I felt self-assured, mindful of my sense in inner calm and inner peace…I guess you would call it HAPPINESS?!

You know you are in a GOOD place, when you are faced with the prospect of 10 days in a tropical paradise and you realise your happiness levels would remain unchanged if, instead, you stayed home for the same period of time!

Don’t get me WRONG…I am getting on that PLANE…there is nothing more I would rather do!….

But personal happiness and joy comes from within…I FINALLY get it…after many years of looking outward for joy, blaming my unhappiness on everything OTHER than myself….Not willing or strong enough to take accountability and ownership of the direction my life was taking…

Well that was the PAST

So today take a PLANE, and on this journey I take with me my new outlook and perspective, my suitcase packed to the brim with two particular travel items : Happiness and Mindfulness

Off to the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival 2012, a literally festival set in the tropical paradise. I am volunteering to work there, have been assigned the role of Main Area Supervisor for one of the festival venues…

Check out the Festival website…be inspired and transported to a place in which happiness is plentiful:

www.ubudwritersfestival.com

I can’t wait to immerse myself in the festival vibe, feel the hot humidity of the Balinese climate on my skin, take in the sights, sounds and smells of my holiday surrounds….be captivated by the smiles of the Balinese people.

I hope to write about my experiences in UBUD daily, keep a personal journal…When I get back to Australia I will share some to the wonderful tales that will no doubt have transpired….

Then again…I might not be able to help myself…So inspired I might be that I won’t be able to stop writing post blog posts at a rapid rate, 3 a day?

Who can say…But to truly enjoy a holiday, and the respite they provide from the everyday,  you have to be present in the moment, open to new experiences….not sat in front of a computer screen diligently recording events as they happen around you!

Happy Days Ahead!!

Bon Voyage to Me!!

On this day one year ago…..

I am painfully aware of what I was doing on this very day last year.

I was boarding a plane, first stop Paris, then onto Denmark, NYC and London.

365 days later I find myself desk bound, in an office block in Darlington, Sydney.

What a difference a year makes!

Life events such as holidays, birthdays, weddings, anniversary, deaths are reminders to all to just pause for a minute and remember….pay attention to a moment in time that has passed, the feelings associated with the event, the sights, the sounds, the smells.

  • I remember the excitement I felt about my impending trip and the tinge of sadness that I would be leaving Flora the cat for a one month sabbatical with cat-sitter extraordinaire, Astrid.
  • I remember that I ordered a double shot cappuccino the morning of the flight, as I had yet to pack my bag and needed a kick-start.
  • I remember that the weather that day was sunny, Sydney was in full bloom and I was questioning whether it might be nice to just stay home, bask in the sunshine, take a month holiday in my home town instead.
  • I remember feeling slightly nervous about 5 weeks solo travel…Sure I had catch ups locked in the various locations around the world, but I knew their would be alone time…that kind of scared me.

But it is with utmost fondness that I look back on the adventure that was….

I caught up with long-lost friends, truly beautiful people who I am fortunate to have in my life. The same holiday enabled me to add  few new ones to my social circle.

I saw Denmark through the eyes of my Aussie friend Liz, who now calls the place home…Going to Liz’s sons preschool was a real highlight…I was a real life ‘ Aussie Girl’ for ‘ Show and Tell’ that morning!

I discovered even more things to love about my three favourite cities in NYC, London and Paris.

Looking back it is hard to believe that with the passing of just one small year, so much has changed….I have lost loved ones, gained a new family member in the form of a sister-in-law, babies have been born, friendships have continued to grow and change, Flora the cat is 500 grams heavier and I too have changed…

I have changed because of the trip I took, the people I meet and the adventures I had.

I have changed because a year has passed…as with the passing of any year, change is inevitable.

I am a year older, a year wiser ( that is questionable!), more worldly, more certain of things the direction I am heading and the people I want to take with me on lifes journey.

Taking time to reflect on the events that make up my life story, is both necessary, important and vital.

On this day, one year ago I was boarding a plane…..

Happy Days in Cornwall, UK, September 2011

Happy Days in Cornwall, UK, September 2011

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16 posts under the category ‘ International Travel’

On this day one year ago

CUWAM- Words, Music and a roll call of thanks

The musical soundtrack swirls round and round in my head…I have been listening to these tunes on high rotation for the last 72 hours for they are capable of transporting me back to the fabulous locations of my Europe / UK and USA adventure…..and today, as I am desk bound….back at work…these tunes act as a life support!!

The effects of jet lag prehaps, coupled with obsessive compulsive tendencies ( and some would argue questionable taste in music!!) the tunes below will always be special to me…for they are powerful reminders of catch up with friends, old and new, is far from home places, the summer sun, indulgent meals, the wine, the cider , and for better or worse….long haul plane rides….

Leona Lewis : Collide

The songs of summer…..Listening to Leona Lewis whilst road tripping with Steve and Andrew along roads that hugged the Cornish coast line…a song that will always transport me back to this magical part of the world…the rolling green country side, the glistening aqua blue ocean…what a treat!!

Moves like Jagger : Maroon 5 feat Christina Aguilera

Another  song synonymous with our Cornish road trip…thanks for the memories….using an i-phone for backing vocals, a better rendition of this song there will never be than that performed by Steve in beer garden of the Gurnard’s Head Pub, St Ives.

All for One : I swear

Whilst eating at a Chinese restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark…I was lucky enough to hear an instrumental version only of the classis love song…I Swear…by All 4 One

Rhianna : Whats my name

Boyzone: No Matter What

Angry Anderson : Suddenly

Brooke Fraser : Something in the Water

And the four songs listed where my inflight entertainment….I listened to these tunes over and over again…I offer no excuses…I love boy band music for one thing, the other tunes….I am lost for words…the songs have left me speechless!!

P.S I really like the Brooke Fraser song

It can be said that this holiday was somewhat sweeter than most…I had indeed had a truly wonderful time abroad…..the trip has helping to strengthen a newly formed opinion on the benefits of travel….

For me travel is no longer escapism, I am no longer a traveller who leaves home, with the desire to leave my old life behind, a former believer happiness could only be found in places far removed from the every day.

Today, travel now confirms a new-found happiness I feel with life in general and that feeling seems to be coming a little more constant with the passing of each day….and the joy of travelling is now not confined to just places like the Eiffel Tower or Brick Lane, it can be to my local supermarket in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs…god forbid….even the workplace!!

So to Paris, Odense, Copenhagen, NYC, Bristol, Cornwell and London.. Thank you for being the wonderful, life infusing, confronting, alarming, inspiring and magical places that you are….Cities I hold close to me, like a good friend….Cities that as I write, I am already fantasize about our next catch up

To the people I caught up with during my travels, without these catch ups my holiday landscape would not have been so colourful and bright…I have such great memories of the times spent with friends, old and new, couple that with the kindness shown by complete strangers…and I have enough fond memories till last me till 2013 ( when I next hope to jet set!!)

To people in OZ who loaned me there friends in Paris and NYC….thank you Caz and Elena…I love partaking in a bit of friend stealing now and then!!

And to the cats and dogs, parklands, restaurants, shopping centres, flea markets, coffee carts and tourist attractions…for providing my holiday with the all important stocking fillers…

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