We’re going, going … to Cali, Cali!

If anyone is looking for me in any of the usual places [home, work, under the bed] in the next little while, you won’t find me there because I will be in the US until mid-November.

You may find me the following places at some point though:

I don’t know how much I will write here when I’m gone, I think my only ‘net access will be my iPhone and seriously, I struggle with a regular-sized keyboard, let alone a tiny one that lags because I frequently throw my phone at other adults who annoy me.

I set up a Tumblr for the trip though, a place I can post crappy iPhone photos* and random thoughts from the road. You can find it here.

For those insanely curious types, who are hard of seeing and can’t make out the extremely professional map I made above, the trip goes:

LA > Vegas > Death Valley > Phoenix > Tuscon > Sedona > Grand Canyon > Monument Valley > Bryce Canyon > Capitol Reef National Park > Salt Lake City > Boise > Seattle > Portland > San Francisco > LA.

We are booked in to see Shellac, take a neon boneyard tour and shoot machine guns in Vegas (not all at the same time, no-one multitasks on holidays unless it’s signalling for more alcohol while drinking alcohol); take sunrise photos in Death Valley; visit the vineyard of Maynard Keenan; spend Halloween in Salt Lake City; check out the Twin Peaks sights in Washington; see the Corin Tucker Band at the Doug Fir in Portland and take an evening tour of Alcatraz.

For the sake of avoiding later confusion, here’s a break down of who’s going besides me:

* Fiona: what she lacks in height, she makes up for in personality. Fi is an avid photographer and a music nut. If I had to put money on it, I am willing to bet that any highjinks on this trip will be led by Fi, especially if alcohol is involved. Oh, and I am also her boss at work, so really, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

* Marty, partner of Fi. Martin is of German stock, which means he’s ridiculously organised and neat. So how does he work with Fi? Both of them are secretly trouble with a capital T. I think Marty will be our fearless leader and being by far the fittest of us, the one who will have to put up with three women whinging about being over trekking.

Both Marty and Fi are a lot of fun and I’ve had a small dose of travelling with them before.

* Kelly: Kel is my closest friend. We have lived and travelled together before. Kel is going to battle it out with Fi for the biggest personality award. She’s a former journalist, now sub-editor whose first trip overseas was to Kenya, where she lived for almost a year, working in an AIDs orphanage. She backed that up by moving to Laos for a year and working as a volunteer at a newspaper, an interesting task in a country with a Communist government. Kel has never met Fi or Marty.

I have to go now, Kel’s flight from Perth is about to land in Sydney and I’m not wearing pants or packed an overnight bag for our trip up the coast to see her parents (I love being showered with love by other people’s parents, fact). We fly out on Tuesday at 11:45am Sydney time and arrive in LA at about 7am the same day, so until we speak again, take care of your good selves!

* this post is not sponsored by iPhone or the Doritos I just dropped down my shirt.

The Birthday: It Was Celebrated.

Last week I turned 29/old. I didn’t want to make a big deal of it because I’m very elderly and because we leave for the States so soon that I felt the familiar pang of Catholic guilt at the thought of having a huge blow out so close to the trip. Why should people celebrate me when I have this awesome, huge trip coming up? I am like your superstitious grandmother, I don’t like to have too much fun in a short space of time, lest I accidentally will something to go wrong.

Turns out it was a pretty perfect day, regardless. I arrived at work to find the gorgeous flame-haired Nomes waiting outside for me with flowers from her and Monsieur Gorman. Lesson: if you want amazing flowers, be friends with lawyers, they have good taste. The bouquet was so huge I had nowhere to put it other than the kitchen, and so they’ve been slowly blooming (and smelling amazing) for a week now and I stand and enjoy them every morning while I wait for my toast to cook and The Wuz to have the ten minutes of quiet time under the sink that she demands, daily.

Also waiting at work was a cupcake of love, from Ms Michelle. I’d never had red velvet before, because I don’t think myself deserving of amazing food items (really, I am exactly like your emotionally manipulative grandmother, you know the type, a total Livia Soprano).

I’d asked Fi for suggestions for somewhere for dinner because if there’s two things Fiona is good at, it’s finding amazing places for dinner and finding me photos of Bruce Springsteen that hint at his having pubic hair. One of the places she suggested was The Dip, at the back of GOODGOD, which looked amazing. Hot-dogs! Pulled pork nachos! Cocktail jugs! Deep friend coke sundaes! My clogged arteries gave a weak pulse of joy, just looking at the menu. It did not disappoint.

It really was amazing. I can wholeheartedly recommend the hand-cut regular and salsa fries, the Lev’s Dawg and the jugs of Cherry Moon and The Coaster cocktails. Thanks to all who came along, it was a rad night.

<3 October 3 - 7, 2011

David Foster Wallace

I don’t know how David Foster Wallace didn’t make it onto my radar until last year. There are so many reasons he should have, not least because extremely dark humour is basically what gets me out of bed every morning. How could I not have known that there once existed an essayist with a really dark sense of humour, with some superb neurotic tendencies, who also wrote a work of fiction, disturbing scenes from which return me almost daily like some weird spectre or a bad acid flashback?

I had no idea who he was until my older sister and her husband gave me two books of his essays for Christmas last year, with knowing smiles (I’ve been reading DFW’s essay on linguistics and I know that this sentence reads like they gave me some books and some knowing smiles for Christmas, but if you’re here reading this, unless you’re one of the many Germans who have Googled ‘zoo sex’ and found my blog, then you’ve probably read at least one post before and you know sentence structure isn’t my strong point). Actually, it’s hard to tell if they were knowing smiles, they have a toddler, so my sister’s smile could have been that sleep deprived, maniacal kind and my brother-in-law is weirdly zen and I’ve seen him smile in some pretty hardcore yoga poses. Who knows why they were smiling, the point is, the essays are fantastic and have actually made my brain feel like it’s being exercised/exorcised.

Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

Back in the dead of winter, I was fairly drunk on red wine and cider one night, sitting on a bench in Fiona and Marty’s old kitchen in Camperdown, which looked out not on other apartment buildings, but on trees, and the twinkling lights of the houses below, and the dark shadows of planes coming in to land.

We were at the early stages of planning our road trip of the West Coast of the US, which we leave for in 11 sleeps now. We didn’t even know an exact route at this stage, so we each had a laptop and a list of things we had to figure out. Fi had this album playing in the background and probably due to the amount I’d had to drink, I didn’t  realise it was an album, not a playlist on shuffle, so every three or four minutes, I would be all, ‘Oh, wooooow. Who is this?!’ and Fi would patiently tell me it was still Kurt Vile and this was still ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ and I needed to own it.

She was right, it’s a fantastic album. I listen to it a lot when I’m home alone, looking out my own window. It’s a sad album, but for me it’s the soundtrack to my anticipation of everything I haven’t experienced yet. Did that make you gag? You gagged a little, didn’t you? It’s okay.

 

 

My Mum’s Subtlety

My parents have recently returned from the UK and while they were away, Fi, Marty and I went and spent a weekend at the farm. Before they left, Mum rang me and stressed the importance of making sure their cats were outside when we left, because the neighbours feeding them for a month didn’t have keys to the house. When we arrived, I found a note from Mum, stressing the importance of letting the cats out etc. So high was my level of stress about the cats, that I made them stay outside almost the entire time we were there and it was a freezing weekend. Anyway, when I got back to Sydney, I checked my email and found one from Mum:

Did you go to the farm with your friends Jules? This morning I dreamed we got home to find a huge pile of cat vomit in the hall – as the cats had greeted us outside I couldn’t understand why or how until I went into our bedroom to find Steph and Joel in our bed. Dad was busy drinking some poison called Spidercup – oh my imagination!

I put it to you that this wasn’t an oh my imagination moment at all. I put it to you that this was one final check that I had, in fact, put the cats out, pretending to be an oh my imagination moment. Mum? The cats were out.

This is England ’86

I never saw the film This is England, I remember it got very good reviews when it came out for being a realistic and gritty portrayal of the re-emergence of the skinhead culture in England in the ’80s. I like that I used the word ‘gritty’ there, like screenwriters have ever done a warm, fuzzy portrayal of skinheads. Gritty and skinheads in cinema go together like like Drew Barrymore and romantic comedies where she gets to do that weird lopsided mouth thing, which makes both her character’s potential boyfriend, and the audience, and let’s face it with her dating history, the actor who’s playing her character’s potential boyfriend all wonder what it would be like to make out with a luscious lopsided mouth like that.

I digress. I had to review the spin-off TV show This is England ’86 for work and I really liked it. It’s not cheerful viewing, but there’s dark humour in there and the casting is amazing, some of the actors are so odd-looking that they’re really compelling to watch. And some of the male actors are hot, there, I said it. This is my favourite scene, a fight between a moped gang and some skinheads:

I’m going to count down from thirteen.

Group shouts: thirteen?!

THIRTEEN!

[Group mocks Flip for starting at thirteen. Harvey stretches]

[Milky and Woody egg Harvey on]

[Harvey winds up]

[Harvey punches Flip in the face. Hard]

[Flip barely flinches]

[Harvey quietly pees himself]

‘ello

[Flip headbutts Harvey, chaos ensues]

30 Things Before I Turn 30

Today I turned 29. At about 3pm, Mum will be thinking what she tells me she thinks every 5th of October … that at this time x amount of years ago she was eating fish and chips. I guess the emotions would be too strong for her to be thinking about how her favourite child was born on this day, and she probably thinks about her favourite child every day, regardless of whether it’s my birthday or not.

29 seemed like a bit of a non-event, but when my friend Lucy turned 29, she decided to make a list of 30 things she wanted to do before turning 30. I love this idea and I’ve had a really good time reading about the adventures she’s had so I decided I’d like to do the same. At first I thought I’d make a list and carve it in stone, then I realised I’m a person who needs flexibility, there is no saying I’m not going to decide I hate item number 23 by the time I get around to doing it, so I’m not going to write out a definitive list of all 30 things here.

Mostly I don’t want you guys coming back to me this time next year and saying, ‘What happened to number 13: eating peyote and weakly vomiting into your own hair while you crawl around in a patch of dirt in someone’s suburban backyard, the closest approximation to Joshua Tree you could find?’ Maybe I’ll have too hard a time finding a peyote hook-up, who’s to say? I think instead, I’ll post things in lots of five and see how I go.

My first five range from completely mundane to amazing:

1 – Learn how to touch type. Sure, this is going to mean I’ll have to stop making ‘All my friends are in IT but I type with two fingers because I’m a Neanderthal, yuck yuck!’ jokes, but on the upside, I’ll be able to touch type!

2 – Complete a 365 photography project. I’ve barely used my camera this year, post-shooting the Swans. Either Michael Gira and Christoph Hahn really did steal my soul, or I got lazy (typically I would say I got lazy, but when Christoph smiled at me, I fell over, so I really can’t be sure I still have a soul).

3 – Drink coffee and eat pie at an American roadside diner. No big deal you might think. Well think again suckers, I don’t drink coffee and I love conforming to a good cliche!

4 -Celebrate Halloween in the US! Sure, I’ll be in Salt Lake City, but maybe this way I can kill two birds with one stone and also mark off number 11: become someone’s sister wife.

5 – Shoot a gun.

Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes for my birthday, you’ve made having a mid-week birthday pretty special 🙂