Thursday, April 28, 2011

Creative Writing #4

Write a short (2-4 pages) piece about travel/immersion. If possible go and do something that is out of the ordinary this weekend and write about. Perfect, I thought, I'm going to Coachella; I'll write about that.

Actually I considered writing about Japan/Korea again and how I felt I should have been able to understand more of the language and how Pat and Yuki always spoke in Japanese in front of me which pissed me off and then how when we got to Korea I couldn't understand anything and neither could Pat and how relaxing that was. And and and! But when I sat down to write itnothing happened, so I went through all my photos from the trip (for the gazillionth time) for inspiration but it just made me sad and miss the people I traveled with.

You can read the story first and then I'll put the comments from my workshop and teacher at the bottom.

Eighteen Thousand Kilometres Away

The redhead walked into the crowd and looked above the thousands of heads to the horizon lined with distant mountains and palm trees. She could feel the festival ground throbbing with music from surrounding stages. The crowd absorbed the energy and vibrated with excitement. The desert sun warmed the air which felt thick and heavy around her. The sun stung the back of her neck as she looked down at her program and decided where to go next.

A twenty-something year old girl with her hair in high pigtails walked past. She was wearing purple fishnet stockings, a matching thong and black strips of tape over her nipples. She's headed for the raver tent, the redhead thought.

Her muscles already ached from the journey halfway across the country and lack of sleep. The people she was camping with had soon disappeared into the sweaty, heaving crowd as they waited for their drugs to kick in. They wanted to see different bands anyway. She sat down on the dry compacted grass to watch the festival goers mill around her. Bronzed bodies (naturally or otherwise) casually strewn with minimal amounts of clothing waltzed in the early afternoon sun. A girl in a blue floral print dress and new, expensive looking boots danced past her. The redhead looked down at her own worn denim shorts caked with dust and the sweat of hundreds of others. Her skin was oily and felt thicker than usual. Her hair felt like straw as it bristled through her dirty fingers. She watched a group of girls walk around her, hand in hand and suddenly felt alone and isolated. Two boys to her right took turns smoking from a glass pipe. They looked no older than fourteen. The air was constantly filled with the unmistakable balm of weed; sometimes it was hard to breathe.

On her way to one of the smaller tents the redhead passed the festival bar. She remembered that similarly hot summer festival day at home when she spent half the day drinking over priced beer in the shade with her curly haired friend. She wished he was here now.

Pushing her way through the restlessly waiting crowd she felt the skin on her left heel burn under the pressure of her shoe. The redhead continued her way to the front even though she wanted nothing more than to sleep. As the roadies tested the instruments for the next band, a bald man next her danced slowly to the music playing in the background. He appeared to be too stoned to stand up on his own and kept leaning on the redhead. His warm, broad arm stuck to her sweaty, sunburnt shoulder and she winced. She realised he was out of time with the music and seemed to be dancing to a beat of his own.

Suddenly the crowd erupted into screams. The redhead looked up and saw the band taking their places on stage. A wide grin spread across her face and she screamed with the thousands of fans around her. The scruffy lead singer in skinny jeans picked up his shiny black guitar and counted his band mates in. As they broke into the melodic chords of their first song she remembered why she was here. The bass notes pushed on her ear drums and she swayed with the people around her.

She could have thought about about listening to this song on a night bus from Tokyo to Osaka, one iPod ear piece in her ear and one in the ear of the brown haired boy sitting next to her. She put her legs on his lap, rested her head on his warm shoulder and watched the city lights flicker past out the window. She could have thought about the road trip she took back home when she was too hungover to do anything except focus on the songs from this album to distract herself from the welling sickness in her belly. Dry Banksia bushes whizzed by her in a green and brown blur so she stared at the stationary car floor and listened to the singers voices mix in harmony as the keyboard notes bounced around in the back of her head. She could have thought about writing essays with this album playing in the background, getting distracted and singing along in between each sentence. She could have thought about watching the rain fall down her car window driving along the river that runs through her city as this song blared from her tinny car radio. Her car speakers seemed to struggle with the bass melody. The drops chased each other down the glass, sometimes bumping into each other and changing shape and speed. But here, at the festival, the drum beat filled her chest and the music was all she needed.

It didn't matter that her blister was raw and weeping, that her shoulders ached from travel, that the back of her neck stung with the threat of skin cancer or that she had lost the only people she knew hours ago.

Her skin tingled, although it had nothing to do with the sun. The redhead threw her body around and clapped in time with the thousands of people behind her. Although it could have just been her and the band. Right there in that hour and a half, while the music filled and surrounded her; she was home.

I was pretty proud of myself for being within the page limit, but most people went over it which I thought was kind of unfair. I could have done that too and given so much more detail like they did. I decided to write in third person because...I dunno...I thought it would be cool for a personal piece. I wanted to do it for the Meat story, but when I started writing it came out in first person and I couldn't be bothered changing it. Some people liked it and some people thought it didn't work. I was deliberately vague about the details of where I was and what bands I was seeing because I thought it would make it more relate-able but the general consensus seemed to be that this didn't work and they wanted to know more. That's cool, I guess. I tried. I can change it pretty easily. My teacher said he couldn't see it being published (gee, thanks for saying I suck) because it was kind of a piece about "I saw some cool music once" (thanks for making fun of me) crossed with the kind of texture-rich piece that it should be. Although he did say my prose was adequate, which I think is a compliment coming from him. Most people's comments were that it was nice and cute and the thematic arc worked well, so that made me feel warm and fuzzy for a bit.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I have to go to class in 10 minutes

I forgot to add in my Coachella post that while I was sleeping for ~20 hours, I slept through a tornado that apparently went through downtown Champaign, a couple of kilometres from where I live. I remember waking up, seeing the horizontal rain hitting my window and thinking "wow, mad storm outside," then going back to sleep. Apparently people in the gym, a couple of blocks away from me, were told to go to the basement for safety.

It makes me think of The Great Storm of March 2010 in Perth and how the peacocks at uni went on to the Arts building roof to get away from the hail and then they some/one of them died. It was published in the guild paper and emails were sent out in memorial.

So last Friday night Liza, Kristy and I went to the movies downtown. On the bus on the way there I asked them what they're going to miss about Champaign/exchange. The general consensus seemed to be the sandwich shops. Liza sad she's looking forward to having the opportunity to do something other than drink and go to class. I agreed. Then I realised that's all I did in Perth (in fact I did more drinking than going to class, the opposite of what I do here) and laughed to myself. We saw Water for Elephants an average chick flick with Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. There's some cool stuff with animals and it was funny every now and again but I assume it will get most of it's viewers from Twilight fans. The bit I enjoyed most was the experience of actually going to a cinema which I haven't done in aaaaaages. Since Harry 7? I feel like I might have seen a festival film/art house one since then with Moomah but I can't remember. I generally watch movies in my room on my laptop. I forgot how much better it is to sit in front of a huge screen and be completely absorbed by the experience. Even if it does mean parting with my ever disappearing money.

Saturday night I saw Girl Talk. I was pretty excited about it and I think maybe it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I had fun and sweat (-ed?) an insane amount with everyone else in the crowd, but it felt like it was over too quickly.

When we walked in, he was already playing so I'm wondering how much I missed. Hopefully not much. Silly Sian didn't charge her camera after Coachella so I have very limited footage (four seconds of video and two photos) before my battery died.

He had a whole lot of paper confetti and balloons fall on the crowd at the end. I totally stole a pink balloon.

Giles looking very seedy

Other thoughts:
I'm getting quite stressed about money for my travels in summer. I've worked out transport up til New Orleans ($871.40). Getting to Chile will be the most expensive ($1078.30 one way from New Orleans to Santiago) and then getting to New York after that($1043.80). I went to a travel agent today to get some help but the woman was super rude and told me to leave my details and she'll get to it later. Without making eye contact. You work in a customer service job, maybe you should try a little harder, woman. We're all busy. Plus I have four weeks of accommodation to book (subtracting 3 weeks in Chile with Sam's family and any time I can crash on a friend's couch/do actual CouchSurfing). Anyone need a kidney?

Illinois spring is pretty much a Perth winter. I love it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coachella Weekend

Coachella is a music and arts festival in Indio in south eastern California. It's a few hours out of LA and about half an hour south of Palm Springs.
The opportunity to go to Coachella was a big motivation to choose America for exchange for me. It was a mantra I had in Perth while all the summer festivals were on and I couldn't afford to go to the them. I still can't really believe I went to one of the biggest music festivals in the world (google is being very difficult in telling me what the official biggest one is). I bought my ticket back in late January when tickets sold out in five days - apparently a record. I bought it after seeing the line up and not knowing if anyone else I knew was going; that was an insignificant detail. Thankfully, a few exchange friends were also going.

Nearly 100, 000 people attended which is supposedly less than previous years thanks to the new micro chipped wristbands which significantly reduced people jumping the fence. I got this info from this site which also has some cool photos, much better than mine anyway. Or you can check out the official site if this post doesn't do it for you. You can also watch the webcast from here, as they were streaming it live over the weekend. I thought you could watch it all from here, but it doesn't look like it, so I recommend just searching normally in youtube with the word 'Coachella' if you're that desperate, which is what I did for the links I have put on here (some of them are shitty quality). No I don't actually have this much time on my hands - I really should be sorting out my life.

Getting to the festival involved a bus to the Illinois terminal, Amtrak train to downtown Chicago, subway to O'Hare Airport, a plane to LAX, a bus to Union Station in LA, a taxi to Greyhound station, a bus to Indio, and a taxi to the camping entrance after a failed attempt to walk the 5km at 3am.

Waiting at the Illinois terminal on Thursday morning, Chris and I watched/made fun of Rob while he struggled with the mother of all hangovers on his 21st birthday.

Chatting with Rob over breakfast/lunch I commented that I hadn't seen that many buskers in America, which I thought was kind of sad. I realise now that it's probably because it's been too cold. They were out on force in Chicago that day. There was a group of five guys playing upturned buckets with drumsticks; a man covered in silver paint setting up for his act next to them; a guy with a guitar played for quarters next to what I assumed were his own chalk drawings on the pavement - including a statement that read "EVERYONE IS AN INDIVIDUAL EXCEPT ME"; a man in the subway tunnel played the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song on an electric keyboard; a man next to the train tracks covering power ballads. There was one cool moment when a man standing about twenty metres away joined in and combined his own booming voice with the busker's raspy voice. It made me smile. The busker didn't seem that fazed by it, but the other guy was loving it. I wish I could remember what song they were singing. I thought it was appropriate to witness on our way to a music festival.

I bought the Greyhound tickets pretty much because they were cheap ($20 return) and because the website said they would pick us up from the airport and take us to the festival site. The latter was a lie. False advertising! We got to Indio at about 2am (I think? ish?) and planned to get a taxi to the festival and meet Rob's friends (Sam, Nick, Juckes and Giuff (like Joo-ff)) who had driven from Phoenix, Arizona. We were told that there were only two taxis driving around that night, so we joined the pilgrimage that was somewhat aimlessly walking into town. We had a group of about nine people from the Greyhound bus - one of them had an smartphone which told us we had 3 miles (nearly 5km) to walk and that the battery would run out very soon. We had no choice but to walk. We got about half way before a taxi was hailed and everyone got in except Rob, Chris and me. It was depressing walking without our pilgrimage. We eventually got a taxi of our own and were dropped off at the camping entrance. Upon hearing that Rob's friends were about an hour away we decided to put a sleeping bag down and sleep on the side of the road while we waited.

At first it was a funny, character building, bonding experience: sleeping in a ditch on the side of the road. Then we realised we had put the sleeping bag on a pile of horse poo. Sleeping in a ditch on the side of the road on a pile of shit. Then at about 4am it got impossibly cold (we may have been in California - but we were in a valley in the desert). Sleeping in a ditch on the side of the road in a pile of shit, freezing our respective sexual organs off. Rob said his friends had got lost and were still a couple of hours away. It had become a complete joke. Fuck character building, I thought, I want something to go smoothly for once.

We eventually found them in the line at about 7am when it was already pretty hot. We set up the tents and played drinking games until a band came on that we were interested in. Punters are allowed to bring in 'a reasonable amount of alcohol' which translates to one case of beer per person in the car, provided no one is underage. I walked in, but no one checked their IDs anyway. So lax. I think Southbound should allow alcohol as well. It's going to happen anyway. And it would have saved me an hour and half putting vodka into Mt Franklin bottles, 30mL at a time, like I did last year.

The only shower he had all week.

At about midday we decided to go into the festival and have a look. We were patted down and had to empty our pockets before scanning our wristbands to enter. I had put mine on correctly before we left Champaign, like the instructions said. It was broken already and I had to get it fixed before I could go any further. I was pissed off. I asked directions to the customer service tent and was sent in three different directions. I eventually found it on my own. I joined the hundreds of others who also had broken wristbands on the first day. In fact, there were different lines depending on what your problem was. I joined the longest one and waited for an hour in the sun to have it "fixed" with super glue, before it broke again and I fixed it myself by tying it in a knot. I payed $320 for that wristband and that's what it did? Ridiculous.

At about 3pm I went with Nick (AUS), Rob's friends' friend, to see !!! (chk chk chk). Unfortunately we only caught the last half of their last song, but I was told later that their set was really good. We met up with his cousins, we both bought shirts before I went off to see The Drums and they went to the bar. The sunstroke had hit me pretty hard by this point. Standing/enjoying life was a struggle. I mean, I hate summer (I don't care how unAustralian that is/'lame' it makes me; summer blows) and I'm used to Illinois winter now, but it was fucking hot. I left before they played Saddest Summer, one of my fave songs, and went back to the tent and slept for a few hours.

I got up just in time to see Interpol, one of the main motivations to go. I split off from the guys as they wanted to see Cold War Kids, who were also on my list, but Interpol won out by far. I was still tired and grumpy but as soon as they started playing; the bass drum vibrated through my chest, their deep melodies ringing in my ears, I remembered why I had wanted to put up with all this crap in the first place - to see live music. Part 1/ Part 2/ Part 3. Then I watched The Black Keys, Crystal Castles (I saw them at Parklife in Perth, but Alice Glass broke something and left the stage half an hour early - it was extremely disappointing and shit, much better this time even though I sat down for most of it as it felt like my legs couldn't support me), a bit of Robyn and bit of Kings of Leon. I was too tired to stay for The Chemical Brothers, that night's headliner's, so I went back to the camp and went to bed.

Stolen from Giles' fb

I didn't get much sleep that night but lying down for eight hours was better than nothing. Oh by the way, Southbound goers should be grateful for the port-a-loos we get. At least they flush. The loos at Coachella were pretty much the same except the seat was over a tub. You could clearly see what the 4000 people before you had done. Having said that I think they were still cleaner that the ones at Southbound. None of the dunnies I went to had shit/piss on the floor.

We all agreed not to drink in the sun that day because we all suffered from sunstroke - it happened anyway. I got told off for being too negative and tried to explain that I'm not actually that negative/complaining makes me feel better. They didn't understand. Whatever.

Chris and his Fucking Jingle Hat

3:15pm at the Mojave stage was the reason I had come to this festival. Foals. Part 1/ Part 2/Part 3/ Part 4/ Part 5/ Part 6/ Part 7/ Part 8/ Part 9. We went together as a group and it was nice to wait with others, but once they started it could have just been the band and me. When the band walked on stage, a broad grin spread across my face and didn't disappear until fifty minutes later when their set finished.

They were am-ah-zing. I spoke to people who didn't know who they were and even they said they played an amazing set. I took so many videos so I can relive it over and over again. I wish their set was longer. Next band was Two Door Cinema Club who similarly awesome.

Two Door Cinema Club

Walking out of the tent I said to Rob, "that was the happiest I have been since I left Perth." Which seems like a depressing overstatement now, but maybe I was right. The point is - they were very good and I was very happy for that hour and a half.

I'm going to have his babies, one day.

I watched the end of Broken Social Scene's set from the grass behind the crowd and then joined them for Bright Eyes. I had an awesome spot. It was about 8pm. The crowd got a little more intense just before Mumford and Sons. I noticed I got really hot and started sweating way more than I should have been in that situation. For some reason I imagined fainting. My vision went weird, like a low budget production company simulating a drug trip (no, I wasn't on anything). Next thing I know, I was on the floor and strangers were trying to pick me up. I could hear people saying "Is she with you? What the fuck?" Who is she?" I walked over to the edge to get to the barrier and be lifted out. I still couldn't see anything. The girls I walked passed were complete bitches and complained that I was stealing their 'wicked spots'. "I just fainted," I replied, to shut them up. A girl asked me something but I couldn't hear (or see) her properly so I didn't reply. Everyone around us laughed and then she said "I guess so," so I'm thinking she asked me if I had taken something. I thought I was going to faint again and freaked out. Eventually a guy behind me lifted me over the barrier as all the bouncers couldn't hear/were ignoring the three people yelling to get their attention for me.

I walked away from the crowd, bought a Gatorade and sat on the grass. I always (as in the first time and this time) get emotional after I faint, but something about being on my own made it particularly enjoyable. When Mumford and Sons started I was still upset and sang along with tears streaming down my cheeks.

Too upset to zoom in.

It was a weird experience. I haven't wanted a hug from a Perth friend more than that moment. I had such a perfect spot in the crowd and I lost it because my body decided to pussy out on me, for whatever reason. I was so confused and disorientated. I was obviously super dehydrated (I had a Red Bull before Bright Eyes which I knew probably wasn't a good idea at the time) and exhausted but I hadn't had enough beer that day for it to be purely alcohol related. I've definitely been drunker, more dehydrated, in worse crowds and in the sun and not fainted before. I'm wondering if maybe it was psychosomatic as I imagined it first. Very strange. At least I have seen Mumford and Sons before.

Animal Collective were next, and kind of shit. I'm sure it would have been awesome if I was on something, but it was a bit boring really. They didn't even play My Girls.

Recovering from fainting, Arcade Fire was just what I needed. They played for over two hours. I've seen them before at Big Day Out, but that set was what got me into their music - I love it when that happens. Anyway, amazing. They played three encore songs. And most of the songs off their new album, The Suburbs, including all the old faves. If you haven't already, check out this interaction video. During the last chorus of Wake Up, over a thousand white balloons/balls dropped onto the crowd which lit up in different colours in time with the music. Their set had this amazing family, warm fuzzy feeling. I guess because they were headliners most people there were likely to be big fans rather than waiting for the next act.

Stolen from Dan's fb

There was this sulking woman next to me who kept asking her boyf/husband if "this is the last song? Have they finished now?" I wanted to punch her the ovaries for ruining the show for her boyf, although he seemed to be pretty absorbed in the music and not give a rat's arse about her. Go him. Win Butler, the lead singer, was constantly smiling and kept noting how beautiful the crowd looked from the stage. He said Coachella was the first festival they played and this was the first time they had headlined so it was a special performance for them too. You could tell he was having as much fun as we were. Definitely a highlight of the festival for me.

I slept so well that night. On the Sunday I decided not to drink, fearing another distressing faint. I met up with Allan (AUS), Dan (UK), Katy (US) and Eliza (AUS) at Angus and Julia Stone. Their set was very average which was disappointing because I was really excited to see them. It was as if it wasn't loud enough. They didn't play Big Jet Plane (did anyone know the video has Emily Barclay in it??) or Paper Aeroplane, which was a little odd, seeing as they're both huge crowd pleasers. If Kings of Leon can play Sex on Fire (no I'm not linking that one. If you don't know it then it's probably for the best) again, A&J Stone can play those songs.

Stolen from Giles' fb

We watched Ellie Goulding, and English pop star who was actually pretty good. Plus she had an undercut, so she had my approval. Then we sat and chilled in the sun. It was nice to do that with other people as I'd spent most of the festival on my own up until then. I wasn't that bothered by it, seeing as I was pretty much prepared to come on my own when I bought my ticket. I didn't realise I had become so independent (is that independence? Whatever). I mean, I know I can book flights and get around on my own but I'm pretty sure I never would have gone to see music by myself in Perth. Particularly dancey music. But I'm still alive. I even had fun.

I smiled at the wrong moment. Dan, Allan, Katy and Eliza at the back.
Stolen from Giles' fb.

I saw The National with Allan, Dan and Eliza while Katy and Giles (AUS) went to Duck Sauce. We joked about them playing Barbra Streisand for the whole set - seriously, what else do they play? The National were really good. They were one of those bands that I didn't know much about but really want to listen to more of their music after seeing them live. I left the others to see Ratatat but I had a shitty spot so I joined the people walking out right in front of me to get a decent spot for The Strokes.

The Strokes were one of the first bands I ever saw live. They played so well. I was sorrounded by people [losers] who were just waiting for Kanye West - but I got over it. Especially when Julian Casablancas, the lead, made fun of Kanye. I was only half listening but he said something about having "only just arrived on my diamond encrusted jet" - another highlight of the festival for me. It made me love The Strokes a little bit more. I'm going to sound so lame saying this, but they felt like real rockstars. A huge crowd with awesome rock music and a casual carefree interaction. I probably din't explain that very well. The screens often focussed on their Converse shoes which I guess helps add to the classic rockstar image.

Stolen from Giles' fb

I stayed for Kanye West even though he embodies something I really dislike: dickheadishness just because he's rich and famous (and no, I'm not talking about Taylor Swift, I didn't like him before that). I knew it would be a good show and it was. His set up was ridiculous and only made him look like more of a douchebag. Not wanting to sound negative again, I kept this to myself, but Rob brought it up later, so I feel better about being super cynical about his show now. He didn't come on stage for over five minutes even though there was music playing and girls dancing on a Greek theatre style stage. There was a puff of smoke and he rose over the crowd on a slowly spinning platform/ramp contraption.

Stolen from Dan's fb

There were also fireworks. What a waste of money, I thought, which is my general reaction whenever I see fireworks. He barely spoke to the crowd, but often demanded they raise their hands/"do the power clap" etc, although apparently he acknowledged that everyone hates him, so I guess that's something. It was such a contrast to Arcade Fire, who asked people to donate money to Haiti (they have a song of the same name). Maybe I'm being too cynical (is there ever such a thing?) and I would have felt that same family like atmosphere if I actually liked Kanye's music. I kind of hope so.

I left after the first three or four songs - soon after the fireworks started (which erupted every time he said "power" - ew) - to go and see The Presets. I know they're festival whores at home but that's exactly why I haven't seen them play before. And I figured I'm probably not going to be home for a while, so now is a good time. Plus I actually like their music. Their set was awesome. It was a party.

Stolen from Giles' fb

I'm pretty sure 90% of the audience were Australian. Halfway through their last song, My People (how fitting), a guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder. It was Michael, an Australian we had met at Two Door Cinema Club the day before. We did the whole "YEAH AUSSIES!" thing with the other people around us while dancing like mad before heading back to the main stage to catch the end of Kanye West. He finished just as we got there. No encore. His opening was bigger than his ending. How lame.

There were some retards who thought Daft Punk would show up for his Harder Faster song; I bet they were disappointed. Then again, serves them right for thinking Kanye West would headline above Daft Punk. Pretty sure they're bigger [better] than Kanye. There were also rumours that Rihanna would show up. It was actually Bon Iver, who also played with The National earlier than night so I didn't really miss out on anything.

I walked back to my tent with Michael talking about traveling and how I hadn't showered in four days and wouldn't able to for another two. We found more Aussies in the crowd and laughed about how easy we were to pick out. We actually look different to Americans. There were so many in the camping areas, identifiable by the flags, of course. It was strange to be surrounded by so many Australians that I hadn't met and weren't on exchange. It was cool but at the same time most of them seemed to be the kind of festival douchebags that I left Perth to get away from. Rob and I agreed that they seemed to think they were awesome because they were Australians at an American festival which is obvz not cool. Many seemed to have planned short traveling trips around Coachella, which I can totally relate to.

During the festival I was shocked by how familiar everything felt. The heat and the dirt and the layout of stages. But mainly the types of people there. Guys in fluro singlets (Rob and his friends), girls in bikinis (too many), ravers in fishnet stockings and a g string (not kidding), hipsters in dresses that seem way too nice to wear to a filthy festival (how do they do that? I'm jelly), people wearing band shirts that weren't on the list, people wearing the festival shirt that they bought the day before (Allan and Eliza), people wearing the same clothes all weekend (me) etc. I pointed this out to Rob but he said it makes sense - these fashions have to start somewhere. Totally didn't think about it that way, but it was still fascinating and strangely comforting.

Sam, Giuff, Nick, Chris, Juckes and Rob

There was also an unbelievable amount of weed. It was hard to breathe sometimes. I wondered if this was what Woodstock was like. But with acid.

One of the 13(?) camping areas looking towards the festival.

Some of it was pretty poorly organised. I already mentioned the stoopid wristbands, but there was only one place to get free water (which I found out about on the last day), and no where in the camping areas (that was a main gripe actually). There was no free suncream, you could buy sachets of 10mL for $2 and that was it. There was a male and female line to be patted down to enter the festival. It took way longer - we know you're not going to rape us, in fact half the time they just let us straight through. I thought it was kind of childish. Probably the result of a stupid American suing someone about it. There wasn't enough shade but that's pretty normal for a festival. I seem to remember thinking it was a lot worse but I guess I was pissed off about my wristband situation.

Mysterious Coachella Rash. It doesn't show up very well here but it was bad enough for the hypochondriac in me to freak out, which I admit doesn't take much but it was still redder and grosser than it looks here. In fact, I think it still is. It's too cold in my room to look right now.

It was pretty cool for Rob that he could be there with his close friends from home but I have to say it made me a little bit jealous. Festivals are so much fun with your friends and because Coachella reminded me of summer festivals in Perth, I wanted to be with friends from Perth too.

Man love

It was pretty cool that they had car camping (another thing Southbound should do), which meant among lots of things, people had written all over their cars, including where they had travelled from, and that alcohol was allowed in. Anyone could enter the camping area, so as many people as you could fit could sleep in your tent. It was confusing at first, but probably also better than Southbound. You buy one camping ticket per car (only one car per spot) which cost $75 and then everyone buys a general admission festival ticket. Pretty clever really. Also the festival grounds are surrounded by mountains (thus the Coachella Valley) and palm trees. People said this was really awesome before I left, but I wasn't convinced. They were right. It was an amazing sight, especially at sunset when the lights came on and they lit up the palm trees.

Dan's photo during The National

Apparently there were quite a few famous people there. Michael had a photo of David Hasselhoff, someone else had a photo of Paris Hilton (supposedly) and that news site I linked said Danny DeVito was there (in the section I walked through after I fainted! I should have stayed!). I saw an Australian actor and thought I was super cool because of it, I guess not. I walked past Joel Edgerton (he's in Secret Life of Us, Animal Kingdom and apparently Star Wars, among other things) twice. He was with some floozy in a fairy skirt. The second time we totally made eye contact. It still counts.

He's not there. This is a random crowd shot.

Our homeward journey seemed to last for days, in fact it was over twenty four hours. I woke up with a cold on Monday so I really wasn't feeling up to it. We spent twelve hours at LAX waiting for our flight back to Chicago. I slept in the corner, while Chris did an assignment and Rob...texted his girlfriend, I assume. Finally I got back to Sherman, where I welcomed the shower like I never have before. I'm used to my shampoo foam not being white from dying my hair all the time. It's usually pink. This time it was actually grey from the dust.

Good quality hair wax: $40.
Not washing my hair for a week: free.

I slept for about twenty hours in a cold room as Sherman has turned the heating off. People complained that it was too hot so they switched it to cooling. Ridiculous. It's still in the low 40's (about 5 degrees Celcius) and I'm pretty sure my room is about 10 Celcius at the moment. Heating is still needed! What a retarded system.

I went to class today (Wednesday, I think? I'm so disorientated) still feeling exhausted and not sure if it's because I'm sick or still recovering. I still feel weird actually.

So Coachella was pretty amazing. I wish I took more photos but for some reason I only thought it was necessary for the day Foals played. But hey, I've got a t-shirt, a calender, a poster on my wall, sticker on the back of my laptop (I'm like a mac user without a mac!) and a dirty, uncomfortable $320 bracelet. It had some pretty shitty moments, which seems to be a running theme in my life at the moment, but it was worth it (I have to say that now, or I'm going to get super depressed) for those few orgasmicly awesome moments listening to some of my favourite bands perform.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Naive Australian

So I re-wrote my blog post about spring break and handed it in as an Anatomy piece for creative writing. An anatomy is like a piece of writing that is about different things but all linked together through a common theme/person/event/emotion/etc or about the same thing in different settings or something. When I first saw it on the syllabus I started thinking about writing about my ridiculous hypochondria. Not that kind of anatomy. I left the assignment to the last minute and copied and pasted a lot of my blog post instead of writing it properly, so it kind of sucked. I should have expanded in several places and revised sentence structure rah rah rah.

Anyway, it was workshopped today and the class all wondered whether I thought the homeless man was spinning these stories to take advantage of me. It had honestly never occurred to me. Which they laughed at. Did anyone else think that? I can see now that it was entirely plausible; he probably wasn't that genuine. I've spoken to other homeless people and been like "yeah you just want something from me, go away now" but I didn't get it from this guy. I guess I was so tired that my cynicism had shut down. Yeah, that tired. I feel I could rewrite it now with a completely different spin on it.

Also I added this bit:

When I was eleven or twelve in year seven at Davallia Primary School, I noticed that during class activities there was always the option to choose the Christian themed colouring in worksheet. I was curious why this was and politely asked my teacher.

“Excuse me Mrs Mistillis, why do government schools assume that all the students are Christians?”

She laughed at me. “Why? What are you?” She asked rudely.

“Um. I don't know. I guess I'm an Athiest.”

“But what about God?”

“I don't believe in god.”

“So what do you think happens to someone's soul when they die?”

I hadn't really thought about it before, “I don't know. They die and then their body rots and decays or if they're cremated then their family spreads the ashes in the ocean. The soul stays with the remains,” I said, thinking about my grandfather who had just had his ashes released over his favourite beach. Suddenly, the idea of a soul didn't make sense to me.

“So their soul drowns?! That's horrible!” She laughed raucously.

I remember crying and running out of the classroom.

Someone said I was too young to have those thoughts which I thought was interesting. Not everyone agreed though. There were just two guys in the class who were all "how can an eleven year already know they're an Athiest! Before puberty! That's too young!" Sorry about the black lines I have no idea how they got there/how to get rid of them. I probably spent more time trying to get rid of them than I did writing the story, though.

People said they were also happy to see me writing about Yuki again. Well. Huh. Savour it, I thought.

I added screen shots of my facebook statuses in because I've become obsessed with this blog which does it a lot. It combines two of my favourite things: blog stalking and facebook stalking [myself]. Oh and procrastination because I searched through my wall posts to find these instead of writing about how to re-establish motivation among factory workers. And I recently worked out how to use the Snipping Tool - by worked out I mean finally opened the program and did what it told me. I know I should probably black out people's names but you all have access to my facebook page/have already seen these updates anyway. Also my profile is on the most public security settings available (down with private profiles!) as shown by the following status:

The question marks are next to people who are parents of my friends on facebook (I have never met them) and are not actually one of my "facebook friends." Oh, the world we live in.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tres Bored Again

Mum emailed me this video and I thought I'd share it with you because I can't be bothered doing my Industrial Organisational Psychology essay. Seriously, I/O psych is more boring than stats. At least doing statistics has helped me look at the world more logically and shizz, I/O just makes me hate Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.

I feel like if I ever met Tim Minchin we would get along very well.

Also I found this video while feeding my addiction to I'd like to think when I get the ages of these women I will dress like they do. But let's face it, I'll probably just wear jeans and a t-shirt I slept in like I do most of the time now.

Today Liza and I went to a craft fair which had been put on for Mom's Weekend. It's like Mothers' Day on crack: most people's mothers come to campus for the weekend. The campus is so busy today! It seems most people take advantage of the opportunity for a free weekend and take their mothers to outlet stores and blitz their credit cards which I think is pretty sad really, but hey I can't say I wouldn't do the same if Moomah came here. Apparently there is a Dad's Weekend which is on during football season. I think that's a tad sexist but I get it, I guess. Everyone is nut's about sport here so I suppose it makes sense to them.

So anyway, the fair. We were both excited about it but it was a total let down. Most of it was tacky crap but was more expensive than stuff you can buy at the mall any other day of the year. We did find one stall that was selling sterling silver rings and bought a few, so it wasn't a complete waste. Still not what I was expecting. And it made me crave Freo Markets.

For some reason I generally spend most of my weekends being a complete hermit. I think it has something to do with going out and then needing to catch up on sleep during the day. I'm pretty sick of it. There's about a month left before it's summer break and I don't really want to spend most of that time on facebook and watching videos like these. As awesome as they are.

I'm currently trying to organise travel plans for Summer Break. I have a feeling that I'll be doing a lot of it on my own because everyone is sort of splitting up and travelling with other friends. This bummed me out at first but I think I'm pretty happy with it now. I'll get to do my own thing. And I'll hopefully be able to meet up with people in various places.
So my rough plan so far consists of:

mid May
  • Vancouver or maybe Montreal(so I can drink, legal age is 20, and also because I've heard Vancouver/Montreal are super cool)
  • Seattle (can visit Dave and this awesome sounding city)
end of May and early June
  • San Francisco (do I really need to explain why?)
  • maybe Vegas/Grand Canyon (I'm not super keen on these places but I feel I have to go/I could meet some interesting people and write about them, particularly in Vegas even though I find casinos more depressing that hospices. Although apparently accommodation and flights to Vegas are really cheap)
  • Denver, Colorado (I have family there)
early June
  • road trip to Texas and New Orleans (such a bitch to organise)
rest of June/early July
  • Chile (with Sam and her family, can save lots of money and travel around South America relatively safely)
early July to 10th
  • New York (I'd love to spend more time in NYC but I know I won't be able to afford it)
10th July

It's possible I won't be with a lot of friends for my 21st but eh whatever. It's only a birthday/if you think you might be around these places around May 22nd - let me know! Or if you want to join me/meet me at any point let me know! I'm going to have to miss out on seeing so much because of money and time constraints but that's okay. I can always come back when I'm not a Poor Uni Student. I'd rather spend more time in places that I'm interested in rather than a few days doing super touristy things everywhere, anyway. Also I need to work out what to do with most of my luggage. I can save $25 every time I get on a plane if I don't have check-in luggage. I could leave it here, but then I have to come back to Champaign, which could end up being more expensive. I could send it home but I'm going to need all this stuff in London. Dad suggested sending somewhere in London and then picking it up when I get there but that is going to take a lot of research. If anyone has any suggestions that would be greatly appreciated.

*** Okay so I'm adding a bit more to this post about Mom's Weekend. I went out last night (Saturday night) and the Mums/Moms were everywhere! We went to Red Lion, a club that is kind of similar to Capitol and there were a number of mothers there. Including a couple belonging to the people in our group, sitting with us at the table. It was all nice and cute for the most of it except that the club was playing the same skanky, dirty, grinding music that they do every night. Which, of course, in America, comes complete with people grinding. And in Red Lion it's not just on the d-floor. Dancing on tables in popular for some reason. The table behind us had a couple "dancing" on each other to such a degree that I'm sure they would have been to race-y for a modern day hip hop video. It's quite confronting when people do that normally, let alone on what I thought was a somewhat wholesome weekend.

I found it strange that people took their mothers to a club. I mean, chilled pubs and bars, sure. But a club? That's kind of weird and gross. No offence, Mum but I would never take you to a club, although I'm pretty sure you'd have no interest in going anyway. If I was someone's mother I feel pretty sure that I wouldn't want to see what my daughter/son got up to after they'd had several shots etc etc.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


In my last post I mentioned fourloko and as I was trying to get to sleep last night to the sounds of drunk skanks yelling at each other outside my window, it occurred to me that some people in Australia might not know what that is. Fourloko is an alcoholic beverage that has been banned in several states of America. It was part of the reason that I wanted to come here for exchange; so I could try the controversial drink.

One can is 12% alcohol and also contains caffeine. They're $2.50 each. People used to hallucinate and one girl/a few people even died after drinking more than one, thus why it is banned. Apparently they changed it, presumably to make it less lethal, I heard they took the caffeine out but there is still a warning on the can and you can feel your blood rush a few sips in. I was under the impression that it was a vodka based chick drink type thing with added caffeine. Like Pulse. It's not. It's a malt liquor so it essentially tastes like Guinness mixed with Pulse, although there a several different flavours. It tastes kind of disgusting, but is worth putting up with the flavour for the alcoholic effects and the unbelievable price.

Before I had my first one, people asked me if I was sure I wanted to drink it and that there was no way I would want more than one. I was actually nervous. Once I got over the gross flavour, I didn't see what the fuss was about. I could tell I was drinking something that had more than just alcohol, sugar and caffeine in it but I didn't feel like I was about to lose my mind or anything. When I finished it I felt between tipsy and mildly drunkish and definitely not like I couldn't handle another one. Maybe it's the second one that really fucks you up. I drank more normal alcohol when I went out and thought maybe a fourloko hangover would be worse than that time I had alcohol poisoning after drinking double vodka lime and sodas all night. It wasn't. It was just a regular cotton mouth, slightly headachy, slightly sickish hangover.

Karley Sciortino, the author of Slutever, one of my favouritest blogs (seriously, I emailed her last June telling her how much I loved her and her blog) did a post about the drink last year. It's actually quite short, I just wanted to share the magic of Slutever with you. Heads up: her blog is um, somewhat...racy, I guess? She writes about sex, porn, masturbation, dating, drugs and when I fell in love with her love she was writing about squatting in London. She's kind of awesome.


So this morning I woke up to the sounds of some kind of insane siren. Being mildly drunk and somewhat hungover I thought I had gone to bed in Champaign 2011 and woken up in London 1942 during an air raid. I clarified with Jess and Felipe that they had heard it too and I wasn't hallucinating due to the half a sip of Joose I had last night (like fourloko). They said it was a tornado alarm test or something. A quick google search tells me that communities in Illinois do a Tornado Warning Test at 10am on the first Tuesday of every month. I'm glad it was only a test because I went back to sleep, instead of into the hallway as I'm apparently supposed to do if it's the real thang.

Also I forgot a bit the homeless guy said to me in Chicago. I only remembered it when I started writing about that night for creative writing.

He asked me 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 how often I read The Bible. I smiled, thinking this could get awkward.

“I'm an Athiest,” I said. He didn't know what that meant. “I believe there is no god.”

“What?'re a Catholic?”

I laughed. “No. I'm an Athiest. I believe there is no god.”

He took it a lot better than some people I've spoken to about religion. He said it was my opinion and it wasn't his place to change my mind. He completely respected my beliefs, even if he didn't appear to understand them. I liked him for that. He said he had met “a lot of people like me” and he thought we were okay. Gee, thanks, I thought.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Creative Writing # 2

The assignment this time was to write a food essay. Once again, the only rule being that it is true and good writing. While writing this story I went through phases of thinking I AM THE GREATEST WRITER OF ALL TIME and then would switch to WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I WRITTEN - THIS IS A COMPLETE MESS! Thankfully during my workshop session, my class did not agree with the latter. In fact there was general agreement of "this is fantastic" which made me pretty happy, especially as this was just after I got back from Spring Break. There are a few mechanical problems and some contextual stuff that I need to clarify but I probably wouldn't change much else. I've added photos here that obvs weren't in the essay I handed in.

Before I started writing I emailed Yuki and Chris to clarify details of the day. I asked Yuki about the Korean cultural stuff and said I had to get it right because there is a Korean girl in my class. The Korean girl said I had stuff wrong - if I talk to her again, I will enjoy telling Yuki she was wrong. My teacher pointed out that the truthfulness of this story is questioned with the huge amount of dialogue I have and I admit that I made a lot of it up. But it happened more or less like that. Apart from some bits that didn't happen at all. Some bits I've just blurred the truth a tad (for example, Chris often wore his 'Lamb of God' shirt but wasn't on this particular day. I added it because it was vaguely related to meat). In the bit where I talk about the Earth being swallowed by the sun one day, one girl commented "it sounds like you need religion not vegetarianism" which frustrated the hell out of me. Mainly because I'm talking about existentialism and totally okay with the idea that the world (and me) won't be around forever. That's basically what existentialism is, you loser. One guy commented that the funny lines aren't funny enough and lack "a bit of punch" which confused me at first. I wasn't trying to be funny, so I guess it's good that I can be funny when I don't mean to be. Mildly so, anyway. Or maybe that's the difference between American and Australian/my retarded humour.

Here it is:

We woke late on my last Thursday. Groggy and suffering from cotton mouth from last night's Cass beer and soju, I stared out the window as I waited for my body to catch up with being awake. Yuki rolled over next to me, in her cousin's bed on the seventh floor of her aunt’s apartment in Seoul, Korea. She groaned at the sight of me already sitting up and closed her eyes again. Chris surfaced and croaked a “'morning” in my general direction from the other side of the bed. The three of us comfortably slept in the same bed for weeks. I thought about the people lying next to me; I was so used to spending every moment with them. To my left was Yuki, my half Japanese, half Korean high school classmate, who I barely spoke to before this trip. And to my right was Chris, Yuki's seventeen year old family friend, who I didn't know existed until he introduced himself to me when I got off the plane in Tokyo about a month ago. I watched Yuki yawn slowly and I knew I had to wait longer for both of them to wake up properly. I thought about my dog at home, a three year old Hunterway cross Kelpie, Bobbi, and how she would probably be crying outside my bedroom door if I had taken this long to get out of bed.

We slowly dragged ourselves into the world of the living; hacking and coughing as we put pants on to have breakfast with Yuki's family. We sat at the bench at the cramped kitchen table as Yuki's aunty served us bitter black coffee.

“I feel ill,” I said to no one in particular.

“I feel like death,” someone added.

“Euuuugggghhhhhhhhhh,” was the general moan of agreement. I thought about how dehydrated I was as I stared at my haggared reflection in the black coffee. I felt drained.

Yuki's uncle called out from the next room in Korean. Yuki dished out three servings of her Miracle Pills, a Japanese herbal medicine that cures hangovers among everything else. They had been our main dietary supplement for the past month and a half.

“Oh. He's looking up locations where you two can eat dog,” Yuki casually translated for us.


“Ugh, I dunno if my stomach can handle eating controversial food right now.” I knew I had no choice. It was either now or never. Maybe I would be okay with never.

“C'mon, let's do it. We may as well. And they're going out of their way to help us,” replied Chris with enthusiasm.

“Yeah, true. Okay. I'm having first shower.” I tried to shut out the image of Bobbi while I waited for the water to heat up. She would sit on the bathroom mat while I showered and then lick my feet as I dried my body.

Walking to the restaurant, Yuki told us about mal bok, the first of the hottest days of the year, when it's common for Koreans to eat dog.

“Dog meat is supposed to be very nutritious so that's why it's popular on hot days, when people need to replenish their vitamins and minerals or whatever.”

“Huh. Okay, cool.”

“Not everyone eats dog, though. You're just supposed to eat healthy stuff, so that's why some people eat dog. The dog restaurants often run out of meat so they break into people's apartments and steal their pets.”

“Really?! Holy shit.”


As my polyester dress stuck to the sweat on my back in the midday July heat, I asked Yuki when the hottest day of the year usually was.

“Ugh. I dunno.”

As we approached the restaurant I was glad I had my fringe tied back as it was particularly hot and humid. Great. Next door was a pet shop; cute fluff balls barked happily at us as we passed and entered the restaurant in a stunned silence. I bent down to take my sweaty green boots off at the front door. I came eye to eye with a collection of smiling dog figurines. The blood rushed to my head and a wave of nausea swept over me. I hoped the Miracle Pills would start working soon.

We were seated at two low black tables in the corner. I sat next to Chris against the wall, Yuki sat opposite us and her aunty and cousins sat at the table next to ours. Two fat, sweaty, balding Koreans were laughing at a table across the room. They stopped to slurp their soup and fill the lettuce leaf in their hands with more dog meat.

I stared at my worn socks as Chris asked me how I felt.

“Oh god. I've never felt this nervous before a meal before. It's like the Last Supper or something. It's intense. Maybe I'm just too hungover.”

“Yeah I know what you mean. We've been eating meat every day, though. This technically shouldn't be any different.”

“Well...I guess. I know the meat we're about to eat has been bred especially for this purpose know...” I imagined two men in checkered chef pants breaking into an apartment and dog-napping a small puppy like the fluff balls we'd seen next door.


“Like, I've grown up with dogs as pets. I've never not had a dog. I'm pretty sure my parents love Bobbi more than me. They call her my sister and everything.” Chris and Yuki laughed. I chewed my fingernails.

“When my uncle first came to Perth,” Yuki began, “he exclaimed that Jiro looked exactly like an eating dog! I freaked out! You can't eat my dog!”

“Well, of course not. No one wants to eat your dogs, guys,” Chris said in a calming voice. “But this meat is no different to the beef we ate for dinner last night.”

“Yeah I know. But this is still weird.”

“Yeah it is,” Chris agreed with a weak smile.

I turned to Chris and looked at the giant black earring he had through his stretched ear lobe. I was instantly reminded of the ring a bull has through its nostrils. I imagined a big cow lumbering around a field, doing nothing but eating grass and scratching itself against the fence post all day.

“Dogs are intelligent. Even if they were bred to be eaten. It seems wrong to eat something that can fetch and obey commands and stuff.”

“And they're cute,” added Yuki.

“Cows can be cute, can't they? Lambs and piglets definitely are...”

“You guys are so gross. I can't believe you're actually doing this,” Yuki stated flatly.

A middle aged Korean woman with crooked, yellow teeth brought out our meal. I pulled out my battered camera which I had found down the back of a couch in our hostel in Tokyo. The waitress screeched something in Korean, which Yuki translated as “No photos. Don't put them on the internet.” I uploaded them to Facebook that night.

Yuki pointed to each dish and said, “That’s intestine wall, that's the meat and that's a soup with the flesh. Okay. Go. Ew.”

I picked up my metal chopsticks and a lettuce leaf which I filled with intestine wall and red sauce, called ssam jang. I crammed the whole thing in my mouth, turned to Chris and gazed absently mindedly at his 'Lamb of God' T-shirt as I chewed.

“This kind of reminds me of the smell of sheep brains cooking.”

“The taste reminds you of a smell?!”

“Yeah whenever my grandmother cooks sheep brains, I feel sick.”

“You're still drunk aren't you?” Chris asked with a smile.

“No! I'm being serious. Maybe it's the...wrongness of eating dog that makes me think of that...”

“Mmmm, fair enough. It just kind of tastes like strong lamb. It's really chewy.”

The two fat men were still happily slurping their soups. I tried some of our soup with the flesh. It tasted significantly better. The meat was soft and had absorbed the salty savoury flavours of the broth.

“It's not bad, really. Like...generic red meat flavour, I guess.”

Yuki watched us with disgust as her cousins grew restless and hungry at the table next to us.

“You guys don't have to eat it all, you know.”

“Yeah but it's a waste.” Something about travelling with a teenager had encouraged me to eat way more than I normally would.

“You just said you didn't really like it!”

“Hahahaha, I know. It's okay really.”

“We just like torturing you, Yuki-chan.” Chris said as he shovelled several pieces of the chewy intestine wall into his mouth.

“Well, hurry up. They're hungry,” she added as she gave us that Yuki Glare that we were so familiar with.

“I'm glad we did that,” Chris said as he tied the laces on his ripped Vans.

“Yeah, me too. I'm not doing it again though,” I said, stepping into my boots.

“I'm going to have nightmares tonight,” added Yuki.

The next day Yuki said her aunty threw up just from watching us eat dog and still hadn't eaten anything. I felt guilty that I didn't have a similar reaction.

We made our way to another restaurant that served meat that had (most likely) never been someone's pet. The next meal consisted of pork dipped in soy sauce before it was barbecued on the hot plate in the table in front of us. It was delicious. I immediately regretted eating so much dog. I gazed at the meat while Yuki put whole cloves of garlic around the edge of the hot plate.

“You know, I worked for this catering company a couple of years ago and I got severe food poisoning from eating their undercooked chicken.”

“Woah. How ironic. Wait. Is that irony?”

“I dunno, no, maybe. I know what you mean, though.”

“Yeah, it was pretty horrible. So the next year I was there again and made sure I stuck to the vegetarian options for lunch.”

“Fair enough,” laughed Chris.

“Anyway, just before our lunch break, I was talking to this other girl I was working with about vegetarianism and how I kind of agree with some of the morals behind it.”

“What do you mean 'morals'?”

“Like they're treated so badly before they're killed and force fed hormones and so we shouldn't eat them blah blah blah,” I said quickly, so I could continue with my story.

“Okay, yeah, go on,” said Yuki as she shoved a handful of lettuce, garlic and pork into her mouth. I played with the rice and kimchi in front of me and kept going.

“Yeah so this stupid girl goes 'I dunno, but, like, they're gunna, like, die anyway, so it doesn't really matter, I guess.' I just looked at her.”

“Hahahahaha! What an idiot.”

“Yeah. I dunno. She kind of has a point, though. Existentially speaking. I went through this dark teenage phase of thinking it didn't matter what I did with my life because we were all going to be dead sooner or later anyway.”

“You're going agree with cruelty to animals because of a few bad moods you had when you were an angsty thirteen year old?” questioned Chris.

“I love that the teenage Metal head has picked me up on that.”

Yuki chuckled.

“No okay, look. I go to uni, I'm travelling. I'm not lying in bed debilitated by depression. But I'm still going to be dead in eighty years. Probably sooner. And the sun's going to swallow the Earth eventually. Nothing matters. I just think there might, maybe be something there. I don't completely agree though. I'm not going to suggest it to PETA or anything. If we're going to eat animals they should be treated nicely before they're slaughtered horrifically for my dinner.”

I thought about my parents' friends, who were fairly strict vegetarians for moral reasons, which I have nothing against, particularly because they cook amazingly delicious food. They believe it's wrong to kill an animal for our benefit just because we're at the top of the food chain, or just because we can. Yet they fed their dogs meat, which always made me wonder how and where they could draw the line. Surely if it's okay for animals to be killed to feed their dogs (so the dogs stay alive which is for their benefit – to have company in pets), its okay for animals to be killed to feed them? Incidentally they were not impressed when I told them I ate dog, half jokingly stating that I had been added to their “nuke list.”

“But if meat wasn't so damn delicious I'd totally be a vegetarian.” I picked up a piece of pork from the hot plate, dipped it in ssam jang and put it in my mouth. “Socially, morally and ethically acceptable meat, anyway.

“My Dad has this theory that if you eat street food in South East Asia, you're probably eating dog meat, regardless of what you ordered.”

“Eurgh, that's not cool.”

“Yeah I have issues with that. At least we explicitly chose to eat dog and knew what we were eating.”

Yuki shuddered. Chris and I grinned.

“Maybe it wasn't dog meat...” Chris hummed the X Files theme song.

“What else could it have been?”


Yuki glared at him again.

“You're hilarious,” I replied sarcastically as I chewed the pork and lettuce in my mouth. “Actually that reminds me of my favourite Roald Dahl short story.” I stopped eating and sucked in my bloated, meat filled stomach. Yuki's cousins ate with unbridled enthusiasm next to us.


“Roald Dahl. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matil-”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“So the story is called 'Pig' and it's about this vegetarian, Lexington, who lives a really sheltered life while his aunty raises him. She teaches him about the horrors of eating meat and that it tastes disgusting. When he's a teenager he develops an interest for cooking and so when his aunty dies he goes out into the world and experiences lots of different food. One day, he unknowingly orders pork and is blown away by the flavour. He talks to the chef, wanting to know what it is and how to prepare it. The chef says it's usually pig, but he can never really tell because sometimes they get human meat.”

“What? Ew.”

“Yeah, so the chef tells Lexington that in order to understand how to prepare pork you need to witness the slaughtering at the abattoir. So he's taken to the abattoir and waits to be called into the first chamber. He's waiting with some other people, a father and son and a couple with a woman wearing long white gloves.”

Yuki and Chris stop eating to listen to my story.

“When he's in the first chamber he notices a pen full of pigs. Every now and again a chain comes down from the ceiling, hooks around one of the pig's ankles and takes it up through a hole in the roof. He turns to comment on this to the tour guide when a chain is attached around his left ankle and he is suddenly upside down, being lifted through the roof. 'There's been a frightful mistake!' he exclaims as someone slits his throat and blood pours over his eyes. As the rest of his blood is drained from his jugular he notices a pig that appears to be wearing white gloves.”

“That's a fucked up story.”

“I know; I love it.”

Yuki told us that several years ago she ate live baby octopus in Korea. Chris and I were instantly intrigued. She said you pick it up with your chopsticks, while its happily swimming around in your bowl, then you have to grab its tentacles with your other hand and wrap them around the chopsticks to keep it still.

“And when it's in your mouth the tentacles stick to your tongue and cheeks. And you have to chew it properly and make sure it's definitely dead before you swallow it.”

“Would, kill you if it was still alive?”

“Yeah I think so, 'cause it sticks to the walls of your throat and lodges itself there. Suffocating you.”

“Let's do it!” Chris exclaimed with excitement. I imagined an ill-chewed baby octopus somehow strangling my heart. The idea that it could kill me after I failed to kill it fascinated me. Survival of the fittest, significantly to my advantage.

“Yeah, can we try it, Yakitori?" Yakitori was a nickname I had made up for Yuki after eating a meal of the same name.

“Um, maybe. I think you have to go to the coast, though. We don't really have time. I'll ask my aunty.”

We never did have time to try the live baby octopus. When we returned to Tokyo, we wanted to try uma (raw horse) but we couldn't find the restaurant and were too exhausted from the eight hour red eye bus trip from Osaka to put a lot of effort into the search. Growing up with a sister who loved these beautiful animals (which had rubbed off on me, the impressionable younger sister), I was uncomfortable with the idea at first, but soon wanted to see what the fuss was about. Before I got to Japan, Chris and Yuki had tried whale meat. I could never decide if I would have tried it, if I was given the opportunity. Whales are greatly endangered and the rest of the world seems to hate Japan for their “scientific research.” I didn't want to contribute to that, no matter how small my impact would be. But at the same time I was curious. When in Rome, right?

I recently read a PostSecret postcard that said If I was given the chance to try cooked human flesh, I would do it. The ultimate controversial food. Cannibalism. I was disgusted at first, like most of my friends were when they heard I'd eaten dog meat. And then I thought “Maybe I would, too.”