Australia, 2007 Journal: Part 1

Part 1:

I feel I won’t try to be as verbose as normal because instead I want to concentrate on the important highlights. I also want to point out how much I miss you right now. Having not seen you since New Year’s Day, I know it has been awhile and that it is frustrating. There is a part of me that feels very uncertain right now. I do have regret about not going to UT. In a way it seems disloyal against my school, my state, my family, my fiscal situation. But I chose Georgetown to challenge myself. I knew I’d get comfy at UT but Georgetown will throw me into city-living, a class of amazing people much more talented and accomplished than me, and a curriculum that will test me muchly.

I hope you can read this!

I am also insecure because I feel like I should be closer to you by now. Grad school became a certainty and McGill probably wasn’t a realistic option. I don’t know when or if you’ll be able to move. Thus I feel responsible for not being nearer to you. Is this fair (can’t read)? Doesn’t matter, I feel the (can’t read) endless. So, sorry.

Today was an uneventful day. I watched the stock market and packed. My mom made me a sandwich. I talked to you on the phone and noted how affected you sounded.

-Flew to LA via American, waited in crappy international terminal there, had a caesar chicken wrap & lemonade. Most people seemed to be Americans, which was odd. Not more Aussies? Some Polynesians, Chinese.

-Flew to Auckland. Had open seat next to me; I was in the window seat. The woman in the aisle was a brick. She went to sleep and never woke up. I had to tap her to get up so I could go to the bathroom! She gave me her orange juices though. I pretty much just read my book, “The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth”, which is long and small print. It is a grind, but convincing in its explanation of the conflict between economic growth and progressive policies. Basically, a country that constantly improves peoples’ optimism (relative to others) about their future is more likely to support progressive movements for civil rights, welfare, etc. It’s written by a Harvard economics professor.

-I’ve seen lots of Harvard shirts. Did those people actually get in?

That’s all for now.

12 Apr 07

My love, I’m switching pens because I think that it was hard to read and takes up a lot of space. As a result, my handwriting returns from flowing elegance to chicken-scratch! I want to say that I feel as though we should only travel together as I see all these couples here. I feel incomplete without you. Mostly my doubts about being here rest on the fact that we are having such separate experiences right now, but little is shared. I have the feeling deep-down that this is not where I should be. I hope I don’t have the same feeling at Georgetown. On the good side, I had as imilar feeling when I was waiting to go to basic training, standing in line being processed. I am hoping it is just anxiety for a completely new situation. More importantly, I am doing it alone. But we should be together now. I know I can do anything on my own but I do miss the sense of security and comfort that I have when you’re with me.

-Auckland is fiercely green, much colder and overcast than Australia. It looks like a dreary shepherding place. The airport was pleasant and clean. Polynesians & Fijians & Samoans everywhere. Very imposing men who look like warriors. Overweight, powerful matrons also. I opted not to buy overpriced jade, kiwi-filled chocolate, strange new Cadbury flavors like Black Forest, stuffed koalas, kiwis, wallabies, etc. I will buy them after my tour.

-Qantas is great. Free movies with big selection. Great food like soufflés. Snack bags with chocolate chip cookies. Pleasing Aussie Sheilas who are very polite, unlike the old dominatrices that American employs. How does Qantas provide such a more pleasant service than the money-pinching American?

I talked to you on the phone before leaving to Melbourne.

-Lost two hours to Melbourne, longer flight than I thought. Sat behind Chinese women who looked like my mom.

-Cheap bus into city, plus free hotel shuttle, nice!

-Dumped my bag and called you, arrived too early for check-in.

-Walked into downtown across Yarra River. Walked up Swanston during lunch hour. Very stylish people! Went all the way north to State library.

-Checked in, over-slept in a very spacey room! Even had a couch and nook table.

-Stopped in arcade, bought Arabic newspaper and a bite to eat. Cashier girl asked, “Stee oh carrwhey?” I asked, “What?” a few times. “Egg whey?” She insisted on her terms that I didn’t obviously understand. Oh! Carry-away! Uhh no, I’m eating here…

-Learned that “busking” is street-performing. A “tucker box” is a microwave.

-Australia is now energy-conscious. A factory chimney had graffiti: “Dead Planet No Job”. Lots of notices to conserve and recycle. On the news, the US and Australia have been slow to adopt but have advanced rapidly recently.

-There is always rugby or soccer on. “Friday Night Footy” on Foxtel, a company of FOX. Bleah.

-Toilets have manual- and full-flush. Showers have tile, no tub. Makes more sense to me!

-Melbourne is instantly inviting to pedestrians. Well-designed with streets easy to cross. Dimensions allow foot traffic and stores. Store fronts have overhang to protect from the elements. Arcades are cozy, very tight. Contrast with Dallas, very unappealing to walk in.

-Businessmen wear awesome suits. Pinstriped dark navy or black with bold CBGB like-shirts. Tailored to make form taller, narrower. I want!

-I love Cadbury. The US is exclusively Nestlé and Hershey but Cadbury tastes better. I buy a new one every time I hit a convenience store. I had Cadbury Flake Mint. The mint is like the normal chocolate. Somehow they layer in the mint so thin you can see a billowy inner texture with air gaps. The bar needs more chocolate and more sharp mint. Cadbury Dairy Milk Triple Decker is milk chocolate, white chocolate, and raspberry liquor on top. Yummy combo! Eaten in squares.

-On the news: Iraqi Parliament bombed, bridge blown out. Concerted Sunni effort to show lack of security. Pre-positioned bomb vests in Green Zone? Limited impact on Americans because they already distrust all Iraqis. Oz banned jihad/resistance literature. Report by Sky News on soldiers who tore down Saddam statue and where they are now.

-I ventured out for food late. Walked up the river past the Crown Casino which is massive. Large rectangle pillars spewed out varying degrees of fire you could feel from the ground. The hissing gas and echoing blasts sounded like some War of the Worlds monstrosities. Saw the river and aquarium at night. Ended up only getting water.

13 Apr 07

-Back on a normal sleeping schedule already. Walked ot the nearby National Gallery of Victoria, past the performance hall and its spider web tall spire.

-Enjoyed the Hindu bronze statues the most. Beginning to favor that style also. Great legends and myths. Also enjoyed busts of Roman emperors and red-black potteries. Saw a cool Frank Gehry chair made of warped cardboard layers. Expo on sneakers including Shaq’s. One big open space looked like inside a cathedral, with stained glass ceiling. Children were putting colored blocks onto a curvy symmetrical pattern the organizers had chalked onto the floor. Great photo of Canadian man untying rope in his workshop: amazing color and detail in the camer’s photo. I hate settling for my camera but $900 for a good one sucks. Also liked Staffordshire blue jasper jars and urns with white steize-like Greek detailing.

-Had meat pie and Red Bull for breakfast!

-Walked down the same street which visually leads straight to Shrine of Remembrance, a large sanctuary dedicated to ANZAC’s (Australia, New Zealand Army Corps) fallen troops. Eternal flame outside.

-Tried to walk over to Melbourne Park where Australian Open is played but it’s locked up. Saw Rod Laver Arena and the huge cricket field. Walked through well-tended royal lawns with jogging trails. I want to go run there!

-Used Internet cafe in Chinatown. Pirated Windows copies with one computer obviously Trojaned. Yikes. Some Starcraft Asians there. About $2/30 mins. In the US you usually have to subscribe to T-Mobile Hotspot ($20/mo) or a data plan. No cafés except in big cities.

-Walked through Federation Square, very modern with curving walkway open area for spectators, large ferris wheel on one side, Flinders Street Station and its yellow bricks on another, and St. Paul’s (Peter’s?) Cathedral on another.

-Forgot to mention I saw a Bollywood show at the Gallery. Had posters, boardings, short clips of Indian movies through the decades. I want to watch more now and I especially love the good-natured dances. “Sholay” had a great dance scene with colored powder thrown everywhere. “Flames of the Sun” by Ramesh Sippy also looked good.

-Papua New Guinea shields were cool. One had a license plate and a car brand plate on it. Phantom shields: phantoms stand for invincibility. Saw a cool bread plate that said “Waste Not Want Not” which strikes me as a nice efficient slogan for energy or my project or whatever.

-Went to Rialto Towers, highest point in city on observation deck. Beautiful! gardens, the ocean, the river, downtown. Met Markus and Raini, a German couple in their thirties. Told me about their long summer vacation travels. Were driving everywhere. From Stuttgart. Said Sydney was more spectacular and cleaner than Melbourne!

-Walked over to Federation Square to catch final comics of the night. Right now is the month-long famous comedy festival. Saw the Brothers Juan and the Amazing Bull Circus. Bad accents, toy bulls, bad puns. Still funny. One Juan called the city Montréal! Oops!

-Went to hotel’s side of river and found an Irish pub, PJ O’Brien’s. Got a table on my own. All the waitresses were Aussie blonde. The blokes at the next table asked if I was eating and I said yes. I found out later that I guess it’s rude to smoke if someone is eating. Had sausages and mash. They invited me to sit with them. Turns out out of the seven guys or so, most were Army or Navy. We talked about our respective militaries — Guinness kept coming. They like John Howard because he grew the military but don’t like Bush. They feel something must be done. They were lufftenants but former soldiers and seemed to value leadership. They told me to go to ANZAC Day and say I was a soldier. Too bad I will be in the bush; the day is pretty big nation-wide. Two guys’ names I remember: Rob and James. Traded e-mail addys. More Guinness. We got so rowdy that they told us to keep it down. James and I traded quotes from the movie 300. More Guinness. I learned about cricket rules and the difference between Rugby League and Union. At around midnight I started heaving, went to the bathroom and puked. Then I excused myself, gave soldierly goodbyes, and staggered back to my nearby hotel. Crashed into bed. Luckily the puking kept my drunkenness subdued. I woke up early enough to shower, use the internet, pack, get a meat pie and apricot nectar, and take a cab to the Skybus terminal, going to the airport with plenty of spare time.

-I just want to interject here. We are supposed to believe that the Administration accidentally lost 5 million e-mails that weren’t even stored on federal computers as the law requires but on party resources? Karl Rove, career mastermind who probably okay’d using RNC e-mails, didn’t know his e-mails were being deleted?! This is like the Nixon tapes without the public outrage. This episode seems mainly the media’s interest thus far. Fucking outrageous. Corruption!