Thursday, March 31, 2011


Due to the fact that I write in quite a lot of detail and this is about an entire week, this is going to be a long post, so I'll give you a couple of minutes to go to the toilet now, get a cup of tea and find that comfy position in your Ikea desk chair.

Ready? No? Too bad.

After several fuck ups during various stages of Spring Break planning, I was off to a slow start to the week. I was going to go to San Francisco, which didn't work out, then camping in the Ozarks, which didn't work out, then after booking flights to San Diego I was going to spend the first weekend in Chicago, which also didn't work out. So I spent the first four days in deserted Champaign. I went out with The English girls on Thursday night - I had to celebrate the arrival of my fake ID and my successful visa application! A chunk of the night was spent telling me how awesome London is, which got me super excited. I spent most of Friday sleeping and then wrote an essay. I had a few quiet drinks with Grace and Mish on Saturday night, walked home and spotted a fat rabbit (or a squirrel which has really let itself go) near Sherman which only ever appears to me after I've had a few beers. The rest of the the four days were spent watching shitty movies and drinking beer on my own.

Finally, Tuesday came and I was pretty happy to be leaving Sherman the Shitbox. At the amtrak station I sat oposite a woman who reminded me of Wendy, the lollypop lady at my primary school and someone who had recently escaped from a psych ward.

When I got to Yuki's apartment in Chicago, she was dog sitting a big white husky, called Dante. I melted. We took him for a walk around the city, which was actually kind of depressing, although he seemed to love it, and then played tug of war with him. His original dog sitting owner picked him up and Yuki and I stayed up all night drinking Chicago beer and talking about true love (whatever the fuck that is). At about 5am I got the subway to the airport and was on my merry way to San Diego, via Phoenix.

Just before landing in Arizona I checked my connecting flight ticket and realised I had twenty minutes to get off this plane, find the gate and board before the plane took off. I ran from gate B6 to A23 as fast as I could with my heavy bag, no sleep and complete lack of fitness. Those two gates sound like they could be somewhat close-ish but I swear they were on opposite sides of the airport, which seemed to go on forever. Anyway I got there, sweating up a storm, and saw that a different flight was boarding - so I must have missed it. Swearing audibly and thinking about how much a new ticket would now cost, I approached the customer service desk to buy another. The woman said I had read my ticket incorrectly (I was looking at the boarding time, not the leaving time, so I still had time left) and that it had been relocated to gate B7. I ran back with as much enthusiasm as I could muster (not much) to board the plane just in time with a platoon/infantry/gaggle (?) of marines. I was intrigued by them at first, but I soon realised they were a bunch of uneducated twenty-somethings who acted like high school boys and were excited about the opportunity to shoot someone.

From what I could gather, by unwillingly eavesdropping as they yelled at each other across the plane, they had completed some form of boot camp and were now going to San Diego to finish the next level of training before being shipped off to Iraq, Libya or France. Most of them wanted to go to Libya because "there is nothing to do in Iraq and France." This was in between talking about which guns were their favourites, how to wear the uniform correctly (just like St Mary's!) and bitching about their sergeants. Someone behind me said "a civilian had the audacity to ask me if I was in the army..." and the guy was made fun of for about five minutes for using the word 'audacity'. They joked that the only words they knew were "uh," "what?" and "sir, yes, sir!"

I met Dave at the airport in San Diego and we got a bus to our hostel, Lucky D's, in the East Village. We found our room, sharing with two German guys, dumped our shit and met his friends a couple of blocks over. There was Jeremy (Aus), Verity (Aus), Hannah (Aus), Elise (Aus), Nicky (German), Dan (US) and Will (UK). They were all studying in Seattle at the University of Washington. Seattle sounds awesome and hearing about it made me wish I had more time to research places for exchange. Dave and I had a Californian Burrito which was amazing because it had beef, chips plus all the Mexican goodness you could ever want in a burrito. I also hadn't eaten since 4am when Yuki gave me a small bowl of rice and soy sauce with my 5th (ish?) beer.

Chipotle won't seem the same after eating these.

We explored the streets for a bit before heading to a bar called Dick's. A place where you tip them to be a dick to you. It was particularly annoying with my complete lack of sleep, but I can't imagine it would be something I would enjoy normally. Maybe when completely wasted, which I'm guessing is the point. San Diego has a relatively strict rule about travelers using passports as ID so I was bit worried mine wouldn't work. I think the fact that I was with eight 21 year olds with passports, and that the photo is actually me helped. She almost caught me out though. I'm so bad at lying at when people are expecting a lie. We played drinking games, moved to another bar before heading back to Lucky D's for a free dinner of Beef, Mac and Cheese (not as gross as it sounds) and then passed out at 8pm.

The next morning (Thursday) we had a few beers before heading to the zoo, which seems to be what San Diego is most famous for. As far as zoos go it was pretty impressive. We saw a huge range of animals including a jaguar and polar bears, but the whole day all I could think of was how sad it was that these amazing animals were locked up in tiny cages. I love zoos! But it was so depressing to see them just sleeping or sadly watching the kids with their faces pushed up against the glass.

Australia AND Tasmania.

That night we pre-drinked at the hostel to save money and headed out to the Gaslamp District which was three blocks from where we were staying. The first one didn't accept my ID and the second bar confiscated it. Due to the hefty pre-graming (including two Tequila Suicides - snort the salt, take the shot, squeeze the lemon in your eye) I reacted much the same way as a child would if you stole it's lollipop. With tears. Dave and Elise tried to argue with the bouncer for me, but to no avail. Dave and I went back the next day with a plan. We told the manager that I needed it back as I was flying out the next morning and that was the only form of photo ID I had on me. He asked me why I didn't have my passport and I said because I was renewing my visa so it was in New York at the consulate (which is partially true, I had only got my passport back just before I left Champaign). He didn't believe me and made fun of the fact that I wasn't a US citizen and was travelling without a passport which I'm pretty sure is the law. I said "Yeah I know I need, it but I need a visa too and this how you get one."

HE STILL DIDN'T BELIEVE ME. HOW THE HELL DOES HE THINK YOU GET VISAS?! Well, he's probably never left the country for longer than a week (if that) and has never needed one. I continued to try and argue my case but he wasn't having a bar of it. He was pretty much one of the most smug (and ignorant) guys I have ever met. He would smile like a bastard and then not look me in the eyes. I wanted to jump over the bar and kick him in the baby makers just for being a shit. I knew he had my ID even though he said he didn't. So I walked out, once again defeated, "underage" and hating America a little bit again. The worst bit was that he didn't believe my story about my visa, which was the most truthful thing I said.

It was nice while it lasted. For a week.

That day we went to lunch at a place that has a Big Burger Challenge. For $19.95 you get a two and half pound meal, including a burger the size of your head and half a plate of chips. If you finish it in half an hour you get the burger for free, a plaque on the wall and a t-shirt; if you do it in an hour get the plaque and shirt. Dan and Nicky accepted the challenge. It was huge. The patty alone was one kilo of meat. Dan chowed down and almost made it by thirty minutes but decided to redirect his goals, to avoid vomiting. Nicky gave up very early in the game despite a huge amount of enthusiasm and confidence. Dan had a handful of chips left to go with ten minutes to the hour before he got up, ran to the toilet and threw it all up. The waitress said someone had done it in sixteen minutes and a girl who weighed about 50kg had done it in an hour. I felt sick just watching them.

That night we played more drinking games in the hostel, the others went out, and Dave and I stayed in and a good D&M and made plans for the world's coolest bar before they came back completely wasted.

Friday we had a late start, eventually got out shit together and headed to Tijuana. It was half an hour trolley (tram) ride to the boarder where we just walked straight through. The town was amazing. I don't know what I was expecting but it was so different to everything else. The buildings were colourful, flat and smooth. The streets were busy, dirty and chaotic. It felt really summery, even though it was overcast. The streets were filled with pharmacies and dentists. Dave explained that Americans often cross the boarder to go to the dentist because it is so much cheaper. I can't imagine having a root canal (which was advertised on many of the windows) in dodgy, dirty Tijuana. Trying to find our way around, we stumbled across a street that felt more like 'the real Mexico' than the rest of the touristy town. We were all a bit taken back by the sketchiness at first. Fat, ugly prostitutes walked the streets; pregnant, mangy dogs followed and I half expected to see someone shitting on the corner. I love that kind of culture shock, although I'm sure if I was on my own I would have flipped out. We were constantly aware that we were the only tourists/white people there - I think we saw seven other Caucasians?

We enjoyed $1 tacos and $1 beers while people approached us with jewelry and souvenirs. The first bar we went to came complete with a man with a whistle and bottle of tequila. He poured the tequila into your mouth followed by your own beer and then shook your head and blew his whistle really loudly as you swallowed. If you were lucky enough to be the last person in the group (me) you got three times as much tequila complete with obscene hand gestures to the tequila bottle while he poured it into your mouth. Think: a thin bottle neck with liquid spurting out into a girl's mouth.

We left Tijuana at 7pm, spent over an hour in the queue at the boarder (after spending ten minutes in the wrong line) and then had to catch three different trolleys/buses to get home; we made it back to Lucky D's by 10:30. More pre-gaming ensued before everyone went out and I had no choice but to stay back.

I woke up the next morning with a cold. I was miserable, sick and didn't feel like doing anything. Everyone else was super keen to go to the beach so I reluctantly tagged along thinking the fresh air would do me good and I would only get bored if I stayed at the hostel on my own. We ate burgers on the pier at Pacific Beach and watched as dolphins swam passed.

A view of Pacific Beach from the pier.

Sitting on the beach I swang between regretting wearing jeans, wanting to sun bake properly and absolutely hating the sand and being outside. Then a seagull/pelican/pterodactyl thing shat on my Yeah Yeah Yeahs shirt and I really wanted to go home. By the time we did get back, I was exhausted. After going out for Phad Thai for dinner, I sat out on that night's pre-drinking and got an early night while I was drugged up on paracetamol and vitamin C.

Dave and his friends left really early Monday morning while I was still asleep. I got up about six and half hours later and started my solitary day of op shopping (something I have been looking forward to do doing in America). I asked a woman at the mall where I could find some thrift stores and she sent me in the direction of Carolyn's - a pre-sourced designer clothing store that sold items that were charging more than I spend on new clothes. I went home and googled. I walked an insane amount (had to go home and change into my Doc's because I was getting blisters from my new flats) in about a six block radius all around the hostel. I walked further south (I think?) than I had been on foot and became very aware of being a white girl on my own. I bought a blazer from Salvo's but didn't find much else at the three other thrift stores I went to. It wasn't a completely wasted day though; a homeless man did call me beautiful when I passed him on the street.

While reading a street magazine over pizza lunch/dinner at 4:30pm, I discovered the library had a free screening of A Fond Kiss. I wanted to see it ages ago, so I thought what the hell, I've got nothing else to do. I also wanted to avoid being harassed by the drunk black guy in the hostel's common room from the night before. He kept asking me if girls date "brothers" in Australia, while I was happily wallowing in my sickness and watching some of the worst television ever.

Walking into the auditorium I realised this was one of more depressing activities I could have chosen. I'm pretty sure I was the only person there without hearing aids and wearing clean clothes. Still, the movie was good, if a little dramatic at times and it kept me occupied and from spending money for ninety minutes.

The movie was set in Glasgow and as it was for an American audience it was subtitled. In English. People actually cheered when this was announced at the beginning. It made me think - no wonder some Americans can't understand my accent, as soon as they're given an opportunity to hear someone else speaking English they're TOLD what they're saying. Okay, so sometimes a Scottish accent can be challenging to decipher but when we watched 49Up in my psych class, it was subtitled too, which featured English accents. And an Australian accent, actually.

My last day, Tuesday, was pretty chilled. I finally decided to purchase some Vans (I need something to wear to Coachella since my volleys were destroyed after climbing Mt Fuji last year). The mall I bought them from was like a maze and it would have been really cool if it wasn't almost impossible to work out how to get to the next level/work out which level you were on. I then decided to go to the harbour and read my book (Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs - I bought it for $3 from a second hand bookshop at the mall) in the sun. Unfortunately I only made it to the grass outside the Hilton opposite the Convention Centre as my bag was stupendously heavy and lacked wheels. I soon realised that I was lying on a patch of grass where people bought their pedigree dogs to shit. I felt I should have been more bothered by this. But I was loving life in the sun.

I walked back to the main street of the East Village, had my fourth Californian Burrito for the week and got the bus to the airport. I sat in a rocking chair while I enjoyed my Jamba Juice (like Boost but with less options). More airports should have rocking chairs. I lost my suncream bottle at customs even though it was fine on the way over. I hate it when that happens. Be more consistent, damnit! The guy making the boarding calls at the gate made jokes with every sentence including "every passenger needs their own boarding pass, unless you have multiple personalities like my ex."

I really like San Diego even though I only saw a really small part of it over a short period of time. Before I left a lot of people said it was like Perth so I was naturally a bit reluctant. But I think they were referring to the laid back atmosphere, one of my favourite things about Perth. It still felt like an American city but without the over-the-top-ness of LA, as Dave said. Particularly where we stayed, the East Village, there were a lot of hipsters, hippies and alternative people. It was nice to know there are Americans who wear skinny jeans. And not getting stared at for having asymmetrical hair and wearing over sized woolen granny cardigans. In fact, I got strange looks when I wore my Illinois hoody. Although we possibly stood out because we were not covered in tattoos. I have never seen so many tattoo parlors in such a small area. There were often several on one block. Some of them you could see and hear people being inked from the street which I thought was a bit invasive but I got used it. As medical marijuana is legal in California, it was not uncommon to smell the unmistakable balm of weed while walking down the street. One day, a group of guys were talking to us while casually passing a joint between them. Dave said that even in Seattle, another liberal city, it's easier for underage people to get pot than alcohol.

I wouldn't be adverse to going back to San Diego, if only to actually catch up with my cousin and his family which didn't happen because we both got sick. Maybe also to go to Mission Beach, the one place a guy in my creative writing class told me to go to. The day Dave and his friends went, I was too sick and tired and went to the harbour on my own instead. I sat on the grass and hacked, coughed and sneezed with the other bums around me. I'd also like to go to Orange County and Newport, the setting of the show that took up the majority of my obsessions during high school. And actually I want to go to Mexico again. It was cheap, dodgy and I could drink. It was also another country, so that's obviously a plus.

I got back to Chicago at about midnight. I had been texting Yuki all afternoon, during various stages of my travel, letting her know how far away I was as I had organised to stay at her's that night before getting the first train back to Champaign. She didn't reply to any of my texts. I only got worried when I called her from outside her apartment building and her phone was off. Her doorman tried calling her too. And then tried her flatmate too, which I felt really guilty about. But there was no answer. I freaked out. I turned on the waterworks and got her doorman to let me up to her apartment even though he said he could lose his job for it. I banged on her door and yelled out her name before he dragged me back downstairs saying I was going to wake the neighbours. I kind of knew that would be pointless because she's the world's deepest sleeper. Now I was really scared. Yuki is the only person I know in Chicago. It was 2am. I decided to go to Union Station because I needed to be there in the morning anyway, and her doorman said it was open all night. He asked me if I was getting a taxi and expressed concern when I said I was going to walk the six blocks in the cold, on my own. I said if I could afford a taxi, I'd be staying in a hotel, wouldn't I? Union Station is not open all night. Eventually a taxi driver took me to the Greyhound Station where I hung out with the other homeless bums.

All night I felt like going up to people and going "I'm not actually homeless. I'm not like them. Please take me somewhere safe and warm." But I was homeless. Just for the night. I looked at my thrifted clothes, and thought about how much I probably smelt. My hair was dirty and messy, and eyes were red and puffy from crying (maybe I looked stoned). Walking to the station, I was talking to myself being super angry and upset. I probably fitted in more than I thought. I was seething that this had happened to me. Having spent the week in sunny San Diego, I wasn't dressed for the cold Chicago night, which was pretty awesome. Even though it was heated in the station, I was still cold in my tights and shorts and lack of Michelin Man coat.

At about 4am a homeless man came and sat at my table and started talking to me. I told him what had happened to me and he felt sorry for me. He said he would never do that to me if we were friends and he was pretty sure I would never do it to him. There's something particularly heartbreaking about a homeless bum feeling sorry for you. He said his sister had kicked him out for the night because she was drunk, so he had come here. He also said he knew most of the workers at this station because he had spent so much time here, so either he gets kicked out a lot or he is actually homeless. He told me a story about his best friend being shot by police and how his friend's son often says "you were with my Daddy when he died, weren't you?" He started crying.

This man seemed to be one of the nicest and most genuine people I have ever met. He said he would never hurt a woman and he hated violence of any kind. He smoked a bit of weed and drank every now and again (but doesn't everyone?). He kept saying I must be really clever and that he could just tell. He commented on the book I was reading and I said he could have it because I had finished it that night. He seemed taken aback my kindness (mostly I was too lazy to carry it anymore). Or maybe he couldn't actually read, I don't know. He was impressed with how much I had traveled and plan to travel and said he was going to come with me during summer because he hated this place. He then said he was going to come and visit me in Champaign so we could "just kick it" so I gave him a fake number and said I would meet him at the station, thinking he was joking. I don't think he was. He said I had to make sure my phone was charged so I didn't miss his call. I almost regretted giving him a fake number because he was so excited.

He asked my why I wasn't wearing a ring and I said because I'm not married. He asked why not and I said because I'm only twenty, which didn't seem to be a good enough reason for him. He asked me if when I see men and they see that I don't wear a ring am I "seeing him"? I had no idea what he meant. He brought up god after that, so maybe he meant "seeing Him." He asked me if my boyfriend knew I was out on my own, traveling on my own. I said I didn't have a boyfriend. He asked why not and I said because I don't want/need one. I'm being an independent woman (something he had previously said he liked). He laughed.

He said a bunch of other stuff too. A lot of it I couldn't understand because he mumbled with his hands in front of his mouth and I was too tired to care that much, so I nodded and smiled in response. It struck me how horrible it was that this man was so genuine and gentle yet his life was so shit. Bad things happen to good people and all that. He mentioned Karma when I told him I had also lost my fake ID. If that's true the universe is probably punishing me for the hundreds of dollars worth of stuff I stole from work, but I never asked him what he did. It seemed impossible that he could have ever done anything wrong. Although now that I think about it, if his friend was shot by a policeman when he was with him - something illegal must have been happening if the police were involved. Then again, illegal isn't always bad. Whatever.

After a while I just wanted him to go away so I could wallow in my misery, which seems so pathetic in retrospect. He got up to go to the toilet at about 6:30am and I left (I think I was kind of scared he would want me to hug him. What a bitch.) and walked back to Union Station. I felt rotten for just leaving him like that. Then again, maybe he was completely bat shit crazy and forgot I was ever there. Maybe I was so tired that I fell asleep and dreamed the whole thing. Waiting at the amtrak station I was so tired I was scared that if I fell asleep I would miss the boarding call. So I constantly shook my leg or rocked back and forth to stay conscious. I must have looked nuts. In fact, a police woman came and told me to take my hood off at one point.

When I eventually got back to Sherman I welcomed the overheated halls and my shitty private room with a bed that I could stretch out on and blast the heater. A room that I didn't have to share with a weird Turkish guy who went to bed at 3am and got up at 6am or a bald man from Miami who closed all the windows and got up at 7am and re-organised the contents of all his suitcases every morning. A room where I could dump my bags and not worry about a fellow homeless person stealing them, although I doubt that really would have happened. A bed that didn't creak every time I rolled over, and made me feel guilty for waking the others in the room. I crashed for a couple of hours, woke up just in time to shower and sit my Psych of Aging exam. I definitely failed it. Not so much because I hadn't studied but because I was so exhausted that I couldn't remember more than one sentence at a time. It's near impossible to do a multiple choice exam that way. I went home and passed out again.

So. I didn't have the greatest Spring Break ever but it was still fun (at times) and great to get out of Illinois and be in the sun. While I had fun with Dave's friends, crashing another group of friends' travels made me miss my Chambana friends. I know one day I'll be able to look at the whole homeless thing as a great character building adventure and maybe even laugh, but for now I'm still pretty angry and upset that it happened. Maybe I'm overreacting. Am I? Well, it's definitely a good story, regardless of how I feel about it, and I'm currently trying to work out how I can turn into an essay for my creative writing class.

So. Yeah. Peace out.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Warning: May Contain Offensive Material

It has come to my attention that Americans have been reading my blog and getting offended. If this is the case, I'm sorry, that was not my intention. Chances are you don't know me very well; I'm sarcastic, cynical and I often say things that can be misconstrued as insulting although I rarely mean it that way. Most of the time. Sometimes.

As I say in most posts, I'm massively generalising and I know it's based on a very limited experience of American culture, so most of the time I know I'm possibly wrong. This my opinion based on what I have experienced. If something I've said has irked you, leave me a comment or hit me up on facebook (there's a link to my profile on the right hand side), I'd love to hear your opinion.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Everything's coming up Milhouse!

Happy (fake) 21st to me!


Jerk Magnet

Today I emailed a guy from craigslist about a few Girl Talk tickets he had scalped (you read craigslist and totally freaked out, didn't you?). He posted the add about a week ago so I wasn't sure if he still had them. This is how our email conversation went:

Me: Hey, do you still have Girl Talk tickets? I only want one!
Him: Yeah it's $75.
Me: They're cheaper on StubHub (which is true).
Him: Buy them there then.
Me: You don't want to make me another offer?
Him: Yeah I do. I just sold one for $75. My last one is $100. Want it?

I was tempted to reply with a one word insult along the lines of "dickhead" or even "shove it up your bum" but I refrained for some reason. Freaking out slightly that I was going to either miss out or be forced to pay four times the original price to see him, I decided to just buy one from StubHub. How many times am I going to be able to say that I saw one of my favourite bands on campus? Probably never again, seeing as this is my last semester and there's not long left until Summer Break and I am now way too poor for luxuries such as 'anything other than food when I'm really hungry'.

While setting up a PayPal account, I was talking to Mish (also a Girl Talk fan) about my email encounter. She commented that it seems very unfair that this has happened to me again and that I must be an American Jerk Magnet. Whatever. I have a ticket now, suck on that Hipster Douchebag and Email Jerkface.

The other reason I am now so poor is that I booked flights for Coachella and Spring Break. Rob managed to find flights to LA for ~$200 return and then we can get a bus to Indio, the site of the festival, for $20 return. Transportation is cheaper than the ticket! San Francisco plans for Spring Break kind of fell through thanks to rising flight prices but I've ended up going to San Diego anyway. I'm going on my own, but will be meeting David, a friend from uni on exchange in Se-mother/fuckin'-attle, and hopefully family members who I haven't seen since I was about twelve. It's going to be an expensive week, but it will be fun and worth it. David also keeps mentioning going to Tijuana ("it's pronounced Tee-ho-whana, Mom. God, you're so white!") so I hope my passport (currently with my visa application in New York) comes back before the 22nd when I fly out.

This week is midterms, so most people are studying and being super nerdy. I only had one midterm and it was last Friday. I sat it hungover, sleep deprived and little drunk after going out on the Thursday night to some cool bars downtown that didn't ask for my ID. It was so refreshing to be able to buy my own drinks! And drink nice beer on tap! Four dollars for a pint of Stella! I got up two and half hours earlier than I normally would have to get some study done but instead I watched all the clips of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The exam was super easy. I could have drunk more and slept in. So now I only have one essay to do (which is actually due just after Spring Break, but I will obviously be doing it now, particularly because I get back 3 days after it's due, when flights were cheapest) and am somewhat bored and little bit lonely. Sometimes when I get like this I can't be bothered going out, even when I have an invitation and I've been going mad with boredom all day (my only accomplishment today was minor grocery shopping, discovering that frozen meals are both disgusting and depressing and waxing my legs). I made myself though. After two costume changes, when I knew it really wouldn't matter, I left Sherman the Shitbox and went to a charity event in Urbana. I was invited by my friends who live in the co-op house. It was a fundraiser for an organisation which repairs the damage from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. It was at this cafe called The Red Herring which was small, cosy, had mix-matched art on the walls and torn paper clippings decorating the four circular columns in the room. There was an abundance of people in woolen jumpers, with beards and dreadlocks. We payed $5 and had all-you-can-eat rice, beans and cornbread while we listened to live jazz and bluegrass bands. The food was delicious, the bands were really good and it was nice to talk to actual human beings, so, as usual, I'm glad I dragged myself out of my hovel.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Massive Uninformed Generalisations

In Australia when I first learnt about the American custom to move away for college (I'm thinking O.C days - about 14 or 15, but I must have known before then. Whatever. Sometime before now.) I always thought American kids must be really mature to do that. As a pre/pubescent weiner I thought it sounded really scary. Pretty much as soon as they finish high school they cross the country, where they probably don't know anyone and start again on their own. Comparing it with young adults in Australia who generally live at home as long as they can stand and have all the same high school friends at uni. However living on a campus town I have realised I may be wrong. While a lot of people do live in apartments or share houses here, thousands of students choose to stay in residence halls past their first year (when it's compulsory). I realise there is a social advantage to living in dorms, particularly the six pack ("party dorms"), but I'm guessing most people do this because they don't have to cook or clean their bathroom. Liza and Kristy who are staying for a year, have said that's why they're going to live in residence halls again next semester. Also, most of the Americans I have met are from buttfuck nowhere towns in Illinois or the suburbs of Chicago. They go home on weekends so Mummy can do their washing for them. They haven't even left the state, let alone crossed the country! I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this, just that my impression was wrong. I guess this all depends on the meaning of the word mature. I don't think I'm mature enough to know. Maybe Americans are mature in a different way. I haven't spoken to an actual American about this, maybe I should have before I made this massive, somewhat uninformed generalisation.

Personally, I'd rather cook and yes, even clean my own bathroom. Obviously I can't assume this is the case for everyone on campus and I know some people's parents can be scarily and pointlessly strict, but I have way less freedom living in Sherman than I did living at home with Moomah and Moopah. The negatives far out way the positives for me, particularly considering I want to be able to cook. Given that Sherman doesn't have the social advantages, the only reason people choose it over apartments (which is cheaper) must have something to do with the weekly bathroom clean. It has a pretty awesome location on campus actually, but so do a lot of the apartments.

In the same conversation, Liza, Kristy and I were talking about how Americans all look the same. We can pick them out at parties. Even if it weren't for their lack of fashion, their faces all look the same. Everyone is average looking. I mean this in the nicest possible way, of course. It's strange. We decided that it's because America is so much older than Australia. So everyone is 400th generation American compared to Australia where it's generally about 5th generation, although most Australians have close connections to other nationalities in their blood line. It's kind of boring, really.

Man Made Illusion

Unlike the retards in Perth who believe "the curtains will fade" with Daylight Savings, Illinoisians can see that it is a valuable time change. I'm now thirteen hours behind Perth.

Actually I was talking to my Chinese neighbour, Daisy, about the time difference between here at Perth, the other day. She asked me about the 75 time zones we have in Australia and I commented how it's a bit stupid really; we should either all change our clocks forwards or no one at all. Anyway, she said that China is all the same time zone. Nothing to do with Daylight Savings, it's all Beijing time, even though its nearly 6000km from one side of the country to the other. My phone always tried to set the clock to Beijing time, even though Perth isn't on the same longitude as Beijing, it aaaaaaall makes sense now. Confused, I asked her how this works. She said it means that the sun rises at 10am in the far east. So they get out of bed, at like midday-ish (just like me!) but for 'normal people time' its 7am or 8am. I like that. Time is a man made illusion, kind of thing. Trust China play around with that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dear Diary, Mood: Apathetic

I have a feeling that a certain type of person goes on exchange. I haven't worked out who he or she is yet, but I don't think it's me. I'm okay with that, though. This has been a lesson in being friends with people I wouldn't normally be friends with. Sometimes I hate it and miss friends at home like crazy but most of the time I'm like "hey, this isn't so bad. I like these people." A learning experience and all that jazz. I guess that's the whole freakin' point to exchange, though, innit?

I've pretty much decided that Champaign isn't for me. I was under the impression that a town filled with 20-somethings all enrolled in university would be kind of a cool place. It's not really. As a whole. It just sort of means that people walk around in ugg boots and trackpants. I have met some cool people, who are more like what I had in mind. I had this naive high school view that university would be like full of young people pushing society's expectations and shit. I blame the stereotypes of the seventies for this. You know, inspiring each other, having a purpose to getting out of bed other than to check your facebook (I'm guilty of that, I know you are too). Maybe it's because I'm in America, maybe it's because Chambana is basically a country town. I guess that's why I get so excited when I go to Chicago. A variety of people! Who don't wear trackpants in public! As a girl with short hair, I'm no longer in the extreme minority! Yes! Sometimes when I'm walking down the street, passing hundreds of people who look and dress the same I feel like going "yes, I have red hair, yes, it's asymmetrical, yes, I'm wearing something other than ugg boots, trackpants and an Illinois hoody. Stop staring at me." Only sometimes, though. Because occasionally I wear ugg boots and an Illinois hoody, too.

This slight dissatisfaction makes me really look forward to travelling during Summer Break and (hopefully) moving to London. In my current Creative Writing assignment, I'm writing about travelling in Japan and Korea and I can't wait to have that lifestyle again. I wish I could travel with Yuki, Pat, Chris and James again. Drama and all. But I know we'll probably never be all together again. And it wouldn't be the same if we were, anyway. Maybe because I'm a bit apprehensive about Summer Break. I don't have any solid plans, and feel like I might be legging a whole lot of it on my own at this point. Which totally could be fun, too.

More to the point, I can't wait to move to London. I'm going to be pissed if my visa application is unsuccessful (and then I'll probably go out and get pissed). As nice as it's been to not have to work since New Years Day or whenever my last day was, I can't wait to have a steady, disposable income again. I hate budgeting. And because I'm travelling later, even if I can afford something now, I have to think about my suitcase weight and bulk during Summer Break.
Here is a small list of things I have thought about buying when I settle down (ew, why did I just put it like that?):
  • Shiny, coloured Doc's, maybe patterned
  • clothes
  • an iPhone
  • more clothes
  • a toaster - I miss toast so freakin' much
  • jewelry
  • another piercing - although my tragus is infected, so maybe I should learn to look after this one first
  • tights - I had an awesome collection of patterned tights in Perth but I could only bring a few with me
  • op shop possesions - so much op shopping is to be had
  • pointless stuff - I miss being surrounded by all the junk in my room.

Doing Creative Writing here has reminded me how much I enjoy writing. I'm toying with the idea of doing English/Literature (I need to read more!)/Writing for post grad study. By this, I mean it occurred to me today. At the very least, I'd like to find writing work in London. For a crappy street magazine doing those opinion columns that I only ever get half way through reading (unless the author has new ideas after the second paragraph. Does anyone else get pissed off with how repetitive newspaper/magazine articles are??), reviewing restaurants that no one is ever going to go to or even doing the freakin' contents page. Paid or not. Either would be cool. Psych (classes, assignments, study) has become something that gets in the way of me writing, now. I'm currently writing this during a Psych lecture. Earlier today I was doing my Creative Writing assignment instead of studying for a midterm on Friday (multiple choice, I'll be fine). I think this is kind of sad because I was such a passionate fresher (weren't we all, though?) and even in second year I was still sure I was going to be the world's greatest therapist. And now I have next to no interest in something which could have been a very productive, respectable and economically supportive career. Maybe I'll get re-inspired. Maybe I won't.

Also the longer I am here, the more I realise that Australia is pretty great. Yeah, I was shocked too. I can't really remember what made me think that; I had a wave of it at Unofficial so maybe it was just about the drinking styles and American's ignorance about the origins of bag pipes and St Pat's Day. Or maybe it was completely incoherent to a sober mind. Either way, I definitely felt it. Proud of me, Dad?

Peace out, Diary (which isn't exactly private), sometimes I feel you're the only one that gets me.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A+, Hipster Douchebag

I just got an essay back that I wrote for my film class. It was about Elvis Presley's movie, Jailhouse Rock which I watched on youtube, after getting really frustrated with not being able to torrent. I had a really basic argument and used super simple language. I wrote it when I was really tired and hungover and wouldn't have given it much more than 60% myself. I also waffled a whole lot to make the four page requirement. My teacher obviously thought it was pretty good and didn't have any negative comments or even constructive criticism notes. I got an A+. I was genuinely shocked. I guess now that I think about it, it's not a HUGE surprise. I have a friend, David, on exchange in Se-fuckin'-attle, who got 102% on an exam. Go American marking. What a shame they don't count towards our degrees at UWA.

Today I went on a hunt to find Girl Talk tickets. They went on presale last week but I was busy with assignments so I decided to wait for the general sale on Saturday. Unfortunately, thanks to Unofficial and cheap shitty American beer, I was too hungover to be wearing pants, let alone be trusted with my credit card, so I left it until today. I walked to the concert venue after class, The Canopy Club, which was closed. So I walked back home to find out where else I could buy them. The pizza shop next to the concert venue. Great. Walked back. They had sold out. Was told to go downtown. Couldn't be bothered walking so I went back to Sherman to look up bus routes (or ROWTS). I got the bus to downtown Champaign, got off two blocks too far and was reminded of a deserted town overrun by zombies. Very aware of the fact that I was a girl on her own, looking lost and without a heavy blunt object to protect myself from any approaching zombies, I walked quickly back to the street I needed to be on. I found Exile on Main and entered. I asked the Old Hipster Douchebag counting vinyls behind the counter, if there were any Girl Talk tickets left. He said no, they had completely sold out. I said "faaaaaaaaaaarrrrk" under my breath. I know I smiled. It clearly wasn't AT him. He said "yeah, scalping is the only way to go now." I said "oh okay, it's just that your website said they were still available today." He was a dick, patronised me about how the internet works and then rubbed it in my face that I had several days to buy the tickets. I walked home thinking about how much I would have liked to have ripped his already stretched ear lobes in retaliation. Dickhead.

Yeah, sure I should have been more organised but he didn't have to be rude.

Must. Find. Scalpers.

Häagen-Dazs All Natural Mango Sorbet

You are the best dinner ever.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

An Unofficial Post

March 4th was Unofficial (St Patrick's Day) in Chambana (Champaign-Urbana). Because St Pat's day is during our Spring Break when everyone goes to Miami to get drunk in a bikini on the beach, we have our own celebration. When I first heard about it I had no idea what it was so I consulted google. According to Urban Dictionary there is a theory that more alcohol is drunk on Unofficial at UIUC than at all other American schools during the rest of the year, combined. Students come from all over The States and alumni return to join in. Police patrol the streets and check your bags before going into classes (yes people actually go to classes, yes I skipped mine). We were told we weren't allowed to have non residents come into our rooms and dining halls. Apparently people die ever year. Last year someone jumped off a third story building, someone else was in a motor bike accident and there were plenty of cases of alcohol poisoning. I had big expectations.

Everyone wore green and a lot of people even had shirts designed. Most of them had pretty cheesy phrases on them, but I think my favourite ones were "It's Unofficial, bitch!" above a picture of bald Britney Spears and "It's always Sunny in Chambana." Or maybe it said "I'm always Drunk in Chambana" because that would make more sense. Whatever, it had something to do with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Chris even bought a Gumby suit and wore that. I bought my shirt from the bookstore. It said "UNOFFICIAL" with a four leaf clover underneath. The letters U, OF and I (as in University of Illinois) were bigger, but blogger isn't letting me change the font size so I did it in bold.

Walking along Green street at 11am to have breakfast was pretty cool. The streets were filled with people in green. It reminded me of a festival. Or walking around the Royal Show. Kai, Mish (the owner of the Britney shirt), Liza and Kristy came back to my room to commence drinking. No one stopped them even though they aren't residents of Sherman. By 2pm I think I had only had about 3 beers. Thinking about End of Semester Show at UWA and how my hippocampus has generally given up by 1pm, I was a little disappointed in our efforts. We tracked down others who were on an Apartment Crawl, which I was only informed about the night before. You bought a ticket for $20 and had access to free beer at ten apartments over the whole day. Although apparently everyone was too drunk to check for wristbands after the first few, so we joined for free.

There were guys playing bag pipes who followed The Crawl. I'm not sure if Americans realise that St Pat's day is Irish and bag pipes are Scottish. And that they're different countries. Braveheart was also playing in the background at one of the apartments. We weren't sure if we should have pointed this difference out or not.

I spoke to a guy from Iraq, who said my name means "garbage water" in Arabic. So that's a nice thought. We got kicked out of a party because some guy was being a dick and attempted to make Rob pay for the beer. Actually I think we crashed that one. Whatever. There were plenty of others. I commented on someone's Modest Mouse shirt, saying I love their music. He then asked me what song the picture on the shirt referred to, which I hadn't heard before. So that was a bit embarrassing. At the apartment where we had the Australia Day party, all the international students were on the balcony drawing on each other. You can imagine what we had written/drawn on our faces (hint: It starts with 'P' and ends in 'enis'). At the end of the night Rob and I went to John's (from The Netherlands) and made pasta. It made me realise how much I miss drunk cooking. Or cooking in general. It was good pasta too.

I have red hair, therefore I am from Mars.

I took a photo of the back of this guy's shirt which I think sums up the difference between American and Australian drinking styles really well.

Whoever said it's a marathon and not a sprint was probably just a bitch. Happy Alcoholidays.

Drinking all day happens all the time in Australia. And it IS a marathon. Sure sprinting is a pretty cool talent but it takes way more training to survive a marathon. We know how to pace ourselves and drink all day. And still be completely drunk but alive at the end of it. I think that might be why Unofficial has so much hype surrounding it. Because drinking for them is about drinking as much as you can in short amount of time, so the opportunity to drink constantly all day is a novelty. Whereas, it's a pretty common thing to do in Australia. And I think this is directly related to the legal drinking ages. We have so much more time to practice and learn what our limits are. This is from my limited experience of American culture, of course. I'd love to be proved wrong.

I don't really know what else to say about Unofficial. It was a fun day, but it wasn't as big as I expected, which seemed to be the general consensus among the international students.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tuesday Night

I dyed my hair again. It's this awesome deep, ruby red now. Anyway, as usual the colour ran as I was washing it out and the shower floor filled with red water. Unfortunately, 36 hours and 4 or so showers later the white tiles are still tinged with pink. Woops.

In other news I just got a confirmation email that my visa application reached New York and is now being processed. Hazaar for sending it to the right building this time!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Project Don't Become a Flat Slob

While being forced to wait for over 45 seconds for the lift the other day, I walked up the stairs instead. Realising it's not that far to the fourth floor (although I did have to breathe heavily for a while in my room - yes, I'm that unfit) and is probably faster than waiting for the lift (one of them is almost always out of order, so I have to wait twice as long sometimes) and I could escape the awkward frontward stare with whoever else is in there, I decided to do this more often. I walk everywhere on campus but my classes are all within a two block radius of where I live, so it's not exactly taxing getting to class. And considering the staples of my diet consist of coffee (made with milk that lasts way too long and makes me wonder if it ever had anything to do with an actual living cow), black fizzy shit (fountain coke/pepsi), corn syrup and MSG, I think this is a good idea.