Road Trip Bedside Tables

One of my favourite things to photograph during my travels are the bedside tables in various places I stay. Bedside tables can tell you a lot about where you are, both physically and mentally.

This is a collection from 2011 and 2012.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #1: Holiday Inn Express, Seattle.

This was probably three weeks into a four week road trip. Every overseas holiday ends with a pile of small change you always insist you will spend before you leave and never do. Instead you leave the coins in your wallet, handing them out as gifts or frustrating baristas by trying to use them as legal currency once home.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #2: Hilton Hotel, Portland, Night 1.

My first thought revisiting this photo is that I don’t change much. I am wearing both silver rings pictured today, and although the phone has changed, I would definitely still use a Buzz Osborne picture as my wallpaper. I am still getting through that exact bottle of melatonin and the CD at the back of the photo is the Puscifer album, Conditions Of My Parole, which I still listen to at least once a week.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #3: Hilton Hotel, Portland, Night 2.

The Hilton was the only accommodation we stayed in which did not provide free wi-fi, hence the books, cough syrup, Black Russian and melatonin. I spent a few hours that day in Powell’s Books, which is the largest independent bookstore in the world. I was reading mostly essays in 2011 and was lucky enough to pick up collections edited by two of my favourite guys.  

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A Study in Bedside Tables #4: Hilton Hotel, Portland, Night 3.

At least on the third night I was mixing wine and cough syrup, not spirits … right? The cough syrup stemmed from an incident in Las Vegas, which having not smoked in about five years, I found myself in a city where you can, and everybody does, smoke inside. While I  managed to refrain from partaking, my body reacted as though I had a three pack a day habit: I had a constant cough and bleeding noses most mornings of the trip. Remember: smoking is cool.

The sunglasses were bought at a vintage shop in Portland called Magpie. I have a sunglasses addiction and had two other pairs with me on the trip, yet I still maintain these are the best sunglasses I’ve owned and it was worth the excess.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #5: Shilo Inn, Medford

*snort* As any travel mate I have ever had will tell you, I am obsessed with having the ability to wash my own clothes. While everyone else would race ahead to find out if the hotel had wi-fi, I would be anxiously sweating until I could confirm I could do a cold wash. I guess having the washing liquid on my bedside table was reassuring.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #6: The Historic Mayfair, Los Angeles

Had we not almost stayed in a crack den in Seattle, this would’ve been the worst hotel of the trip, easily. There’s nothing like spending your last night in a hotel which has taken obvious measures to prevent the self harm it provokes in even the more hardened traveller.

Baby food. What can I say? It started in Whole Foods, Salt Lake City, where I decided that baby food was the perfect travel snack: small, healthy (?), tasty. Every time I popped the lid on one of these bad boys, I was roundly mocked by my cohorts.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #7: Cottage on the Inlet, Porirua

A year later, a different country and there’s that little green bottle again. I love melatonin. Another memento of the earlier US trip is the giant skull ring, which I bought from a shop called Loved to Death in Haight-Ashbury.

The reading material is fairly standard fare. I have read every issue of Vanity Fair for a decade now, I love Bellow and Nabokov in that order.

 

Domesticity

I am learning about roses, currently the only patch of our garden I am interested in. I have learnt about “dead heading” them to make sure I get another bloom this season and I’ve bought special food to feed them and at dusk I go and pick what flowers have opened that day and carefully take their leaves and thorns off and mulch the previous flowers that have been in the Crystal Head vodka bottle I am using as a vase.

Our front yard also has a lime tree, which is slowly growing fruit I will use for gin and tonics later in the year.

I’m thinking of buying a comfortable outdoors chair so I can sit in its shade with a book.

The backyard is another story.

The backyard is very much Delilah’s domain.

Under the washing line is gathered a jumble of toys and bones and sometimes the outdoors broom, which she loves to drag around with her like she’s doing some sweeping.

The back garden patch now has a large hole in it, where she enthusiastically buries and digs up and reburies an assortment of bones and pig ears.

The backyard is also the only space Delilah and The Wuz coexist without too much drama. Both seem to want to claim dominance of the house as their own.

B has expressed interest in getting a worm farm, which we certainly have space for and I like the idea of mulching very much.

And so, slowly, we have become domesticated.

 

North Island, New Zealand

Today we are leaving America behind to fast forward to 2012, when I last visited one of my favourite countries: New Zealand.

I have been to New Zealand three times, most recently for the wedding of my dear friends Amy and Nicola.

We stayed in a cottage in a quiet inlet. Nights were spent watching movies and eating cheese, drinking gin and indulging in general merriment.

New Zealand is stunning in a tactile, earthy sense. It is a country I could spend weeks in alone.

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Erskineville

We’ve managed to build cranes taller than city skyscrapers, topped with glowing red lights to signal to the aeroplanes we have made, tonnes of steel and human souls that somehow stay afloat on air that barely seems to brush past us on the ground.

Yet we have not found a way to make power lines beautiful.

Instead we convince ourselves there’s something peaceful in the way they loop lazily, fragmenting a dusty rose sunset over the city.

- Erskineville, 27th October, 2014, 7:46pm or thereabouts.

LA to Vegas

Our road trip began in Los Angeles, after we flew into the barren LAX.

We stayed in Downtown Los Angeles at the Figueroa Hotel, notable for its Spanish influences, kama sutra decor and proximity to The Original Pantry Cafe.

We arrived, hideously jet-lagged and made the dubious decision to drive to Venice Beach to eat tepid nachos without sleep, a GPS or anyone who’d driven in America before.

That night we discovered America’s free-pour policy and sat around the hotel’s green-lit pool, drinking gin, planning our departure the next morning for Las Vegas and our first experience of the long, hazy highways of California.

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Devil’s Basin & Zabriskie Point, Death Valley

Death Valley is a dangerous place.

Signs warn you of deaths on the dunes where people have wandered out without water.

The dunes themselves are hypnotic: white sand rising in cresting waves, breaking against dark mountains far in the distance. It’s easy to imagine people being drawn to them against better judgement.

The flats are stunning. Sharp crystallised salt crunching underfoot, biting your fingertips as you brush them along its surface.

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♫ ‘In My Time’ – Kurt Vile

Monument Valley

This time three years ago I was in America, on a 10,000km road trip of the west coast.

We stayed in Utah and drank bourbon in our hotel room and gambled with a pack of cards printed on the back with warnings about bear attacks.

Monument Valley is vast and silent and when the sun sets, the shadows loom across the desert.

We sat in the dust and watched, as the air grew cool.

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♫ ‘Endless Summer’ – The Jezebels

Scareport

Yesterday I had to go to the airport to pick up a watch.

It sounds like a scene from Pulp Fiction, but I assure you it is real.

There I was, carrying a ticking parcel through an airport I had no business being at.

Airports make me nervous because they are run by rules and filled with people who will get angry at you if you break the rules. I am conditioned by 13 years of Catholic schooling and not just Catholic schooling but Catholic schooling by De La Salle brothers and by nuns and not just by brothers and nuns, but by ex-nuns, the scariest of all religious figures.

I have a few mildly offensive theories as to why ex-nuns are more terrifying than regular nuns. Everyone knows the horrid feeling when a relationship breaks down. Imagine that the relationship was a marriage and your husband was none other than Jesus Christ and it didn’t work out. That’s what an ex-nun contends with when she slips out of bed every day.

So I do not like to break rules and I have a healthy fear of religious figures and airports make me nervous.

I’m also not entirely sure how secure airports are. There seem to be a lot of signs telling you where you are not authorised to go, but nothing other than Catholic guilt preventing you from doing so.

I was alert and alarmed as I tried to find my way out of the domestic terminal to the DHL building where my watch awaited me. It was difficult, I’d never left the airport without jet lag before and there seemed to be a lull in the arrival of planes, so I couldn’t even follow the zombified crowds pushing their way to taxis and my GPS was telling me DHL was located in the middle of a runway.

Eventually I found an elevator hidden under a set of stairs next to a utility closet and a threatening unmarked door. I tried to work out the likelihood that the door led somewhere very important and that not signposting the door was some kind of panoptic-esque deterrent from entering. I didn’t touch it in case of electrocution.

Finally I found my way out and was hit with a blast of humid Sydney air, a precursor to much worse weather ahead.

I could see the DHL building shimmering in the distance. “Bonjour, DHL,” I whispered to myself. “Bonjour.”.

I began an approximate seven minute walk to the building, keeping my eye out for other security features to be alert and alarmed about.

I watched the expressions on the faces of the drivers swooping past me to pick up arrivals. “Poor girl,” I imagined they were saying. “No-one to pick her up and she’s not even got sensible shoes to walk home in.”. I considered briefly attaching a sign to my front which would tell these busybodies that actually I was just there to pick a watch up in an approximate 14 minute round trip and then I would be on my way, thank you very much but suddenly something very strange caught my attention.

There, beyond a green sign which told me I was not to enter unless I had proper credentials and that the area was patrolled regularly, was a sight that made me almost renounce my Catholic guilt and break the rules.

In a large, fenced-off carpark lay a small cafe, like a mirage of a pond in the desert. Many men stood around this cafe, chatting noisily to one another, gesticulating wildly. I crept closer.

Hundreds of taxis were parked neatly in bays in front of the cafe, some occupied by drivers doing any manner of daily tasks: eating a sandwhich, talking on the phone, clipping their nails.

Weaving around the bays were cruising taxis, all seemingly following a particular route which made sense to them, but which never seemed to leave the car park itself.

Around and around they went and I began to feel as though I had seen something I shouldn’t have, like this was a factory where taxi drivers were made, or the graveyard where they came when their operating system had become infected with bugs and all they could do was steer in circles.

A limousine with dark windows slowly cruised past, causing me to jump and hurry on my way lest I be bundled into the boot and tortured until a forgot what I had witnessed.

After picking up my watch to some small fanfare when my required photographic identification was produced and there was some discussion as to why in person I didn’t appear to be wearing a wig of very dry straw, I hurried back to the airport, taking great care not to look anywhere I shouldn’t.

With my ticking package I boarded a train, and melting into the crowd, hoping to lose any security detail I had picked up on the way.

Shutterbug

This morning I was reading the specs for the Lumix DMC-GX7 because I’ve wanted a Lumix for a while: a camera that takes incredible photos but isn’t as heavy or require as much gear as my DSLR. Then I remembered two things: my debts and my rule about not buying new tech before I’ve pushed my current gear as far as I can and I’ve barely scratched the surface of my Canon’s capabilities.

I think I probably will go down the Lumix route eventually, especially for travel, but in the mean time I can scratch the itch by putting down my iPhone and picking up my Canon. As best I can tell, the last time I really used it was 2012, and the amount I’ve forgotten since then is shocking.

Bare with me while I remember how to do this and how much I used to love it.

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Making It A Home

Today we went to Ikea to buy bedsides tables. They’re nice: a dark brown wood with two drawers, lined with blue and cream paper and a small shelf in the top one, which I plan to use to stow my rosebud salve and the gorgeous silver pen B got me for my birthday, which I am using in the first paper journal I’ve ever manged to keep. 10 years of blogging and I guess I’ve finally realised not everything should go online.

Not having bedside tables has really been bothering me, partly because our bedroom is quite big, but was so far empty of anything but the bed, which made it feel like a hotel room and the least homely room in the house, which is a problem for me because I still live like I’m sharehousing and spend a lot of time alone in the bedroom – reading, listening to music. I like a room I can shut a door to.

Another reason is that it takes a lot of medication to keep me going. Every day I have to take five tablets, an extra on Saturdays and Sundays, and my routine has always been to have them beside me and take them when I first wake up. If they’re not there, I forget to take them and only remember about three days later when my skin starts tingling and my brain starts to buzz.

My next job is to kill all the weeds in the old vegetable plot in the back yard and turn the soil. I’m not particularly interested in keeping it as a vegetable garden, so instead I’m going to flower bomb it with all different kinds of seeds, just mix a tub of ones I have been buying or gifted and just throw them in and see what comes up.

I start a new job on Monday, as does B. I’m looking forward to it. I always really enjoy the first six months of a new job where time flies by as you learn new things. It’s in Rosebery too, which has the benefit of being quite close to home, as well as a suburb I’m completely unfamiliar with. The role is quite independant, lots of working by myself in a (literally) soundproof booth. In a way, it couldn’t be more perfect, my last couple of roles required me to be contactable almost all the time and I am at a place now where I need a lot of space.

It’s been a very strange year.

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