What I reckon: Gawking at people in need

So I’m festivally sitting in a nail salon on Acland St getting my fluoro greens for Christmas when a homeless man outside the shop takes a turn. All of a sudden there are two people on the phone to an ambulance and are trying to help keep him down. They came in for gloves to help him with first aid until the paramedics arrived. From my point sitting in the store, I couldn’t see the homeless man. But what I could see was everyone else in the general public and their disgusting behaviour.

I watched a woman pull out her phone and start filming the man who was disoriented and had just wet himself in the street. There was zero respect for him as a human being, only for what would make a good Instagram post. When she saw me death stare her down for doing it, she stopped. She clearly knew she was wrong to do so, but still did it anyway.

Like sheep, people crowded around the man within meters of where he was just to get the first hand gossip and once the paramedics arrived it got worse. Everyone needed to know what was going on, and everyone needed a piece of the action.

But not a single person at that point other than those who were originally helping him and the paramedics were there out of genuine concern. Most of them were displaying behaviour that was completely disrespectful. If it was you passed out in the street, how would you feel if a crowd was amassing about you so they’ve got some gossip to share with their buddies and videos of you at your lowest to share online. I was disgusted. And voiced as much to the people I was sitting in the salon with.

The thing is, yes, he is a homeless person and yes, he has hit a pretty low point in his life. Most of the time these people are happy enough to ignore this, put their heads down and keep on going until there is some drama we can stand about and judge. But who are we to judge another when we have zero idea what they may have been through to wind up there?Who are we to decide that this person isn’t worth mattering about unless the paramedics are there and it’s providing petty entertainment?

The point is, this man is a human being, not an animal in the zoo to be gawked at for the purpose of the entertainment of others.  To do this is to take away his humanity and those that stood around filming him should be fucking ashamed of themselves.

Things I Wish I Could Do Right Now That I Can’t

Nearly two weeks ago I wound up in the hospital having myself a glorious appendectomy. Ok, it was fucking shit and definitely not glorious, and the recovery has definitely taken it’s toll. I’ve been told there are things I’m not allowed to do. And i hate not  being able to do things with the entirety of my fierce and independent being. Whilst not doing those things, I’m also left to ponder all the other shit that I want to do but can’t either. Here is a non-comprehensive list of shit I wish I could do right now but can’t.

1. Lift more than four kilos.

2. Go to boxing and hit the bag ferociously.

3. Go salsa dancing and boogie the night away.

4. Drink the five bottles of wine in my car.

5. Book the secret flyer £200 return flight to London for 2 weeks next March.

6. Move house without having to beg others for help.

7. Eat a Tim Hortons chilli with a Canadian maple donut.

8. Drive somewhere far away, pitch a tent and hike a mountain.

9. Sing a song properly without losing my voice.

10. Further investigate the wonderful(ly fucking strange) world of speed dating.

11. Wake up not exhausted and manage more than a long-arse trip to the supermarket without having to take a four hour nap to recover.

12. Concentrate long enough to read a book.

13. Do anything other than watch Netflix and by watch Netflix I mean put it on in the background whilst surfing the internet for flights.

14. Bungee jump.

15. Stop eating the pile of chocolate in my snack drawer because I’m too lazy to cook.

16. Wear pyjamas outside in public because I’m too lazy to dress myself.

17. Be a popstar billionaire.

18. Build something without it being a total disaster.

19. Go for a walk without hurting myself.

20. Stop complaining.

I think that’s pretty much it. Actually it’s not, but you get the idea….

 

Shit I Learned On The Way To Adelaide

My friends were getting married and so I figured that instead of flying over, I would drive and spend the better part of the week hanging out and helping and this also meant that I could go to the wedding and the hens party. But in the grand tradition of “This could only ever happen to you, Dano”, life had other plans for me.

1. Fill your tank of petrol when  you’re half empty.

I decided that I would go via Mount Gambler to see a few of the sights and stop over for a night. So if that was as far as I  was going, I may as well take a detour to the start of the Great Ocean Road to the chocolaterie place that serves ice creams as big as your head and call it a double and has a giant bowl of free chocolate button samples. This was all well and good. I plugged Mount Gambler into the GPS and set off. But GPS at this location decided back roads and gravel were way more efficient and fun and I agreed up until the point where I hadn’t seen a petrol station in over 400km. I am about 60km put of Mount Gambler when my fuel light is on and I know I’m not making it so I Google petrol station in the nearest town and go there.

When I arrive I can’t find the fuel station and I hit the local pub to ask where it is, only to be told that I can’t get fuel without one of those cards specific to that station. “Fuck fuckity fuck….”. The man in the pub then mentions to me that he may have four litres of fuel in a jerry can in the back of his truck and that I could have it. Thank you to the kindness of strangers. If it weren’t for this man I’d be sleeping in my car til morning until someone came to open up the fuel station. Turns out 4L was more than sufficient to get me there.

2. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Namely when you read that the hostel reception is open between 4 and 9pm and you get there at 7:30pm, pick up the phone on the wall to buzz in and get told they all went home an hour ago and you can’t stay there. Great. Time to go down the road to the local pub instead. In all honesty, five bucks more and my own space. Probably a good thing with what was to come next.

3. Never underestimate Murphy’s ability to fuck you over.

So I spent the night sweating through my bed until I drowned it and woke up with my throat clamped over and unable to swallow. Cool, it’s Thursday. The first one of the school holidays and like clockwork, I am sick. But like always, I think I can manage this fine and I set off on my way to go see the Umpherston Sinkhole, Blue Lake and the Naracoorte Caves and finally get myself to Adelaide.

This is what actually happens. I drive to Blue Lake in shit weather, get out of the car for thirty seconds to look at it and get back in the car. I drive to the  sinkhole, I stumble around the sinkhole for ten minutes feeling like I’m going to fall over and get back into the car and start driving. I get as far as twenty minutes down the road to Penola before I am shaking behind the wheel and concede that I need a doctor so I pull into their hospital/clinic and they have an appointment.

The doctor upon taking one look at me says “Yeah you look pretty septic right now and pills aren’t going to hit this quick enough and before you know it I’m on a table getting a penicillin injection in my arse and suffering a dead leg as a consequence. “No driving” he says “you will drive down the road in thirty minutes to get your pills and find somewhere to sleep and that’s it.”

Well fuck. So much for the hens night. Getting to Adelaide, or any of it. I got to the caravan park in Padthaway and passed out. The next day I spent most of the day in a state of unconsciousness. I missed the hens party. I missed the AFL grand final. I missed being able to consume water.

Three nights in Padthaway later and I was able to eat and had my energy up. I left to drive towards Adelaide.

4. Giant wombats and kangaroos are well fucking cool.

I hit the town of Naracoorte first, slightly backtracking as this is the home of some of the most impressive fossil remains of the megafauna that once roamed the Australian continent about fifty thousand years ago. They have about six football sized fields of fossil remains from where these animals fell through the cave holes and died in there. There were two-ton wombats, round-nosed kangaroos, all manner of super cool and massive animals. They assume their demise was based on an ice age and human hunting.

5. Galahs are evil mofos. 

Get out of the car to the bathroom in the national park after a nice walk around the Chinaman’s Well circuit to have a bunch of Galah’s swoop at you to the point where you can feel them grazing the side of your head and you’re yelling “alright, I get the fucking point. I don’t want to eat your goddamn babies so fuck off and leave me alone!” whilst calmly trying to navigate your way to the car without your brains getting spilled on the dirt path.

6. But mosquitoes are the worst kind of mofos.

I pulled into a free campground a couple of hours out of Adelaide right before sundown and went about trying to set up my tent. I’ve got the hatch open and I’m pulling things out and getting the tent set up real quick when I realise I’m in a mosquito cloud and they are biting my arse through my pants. After getting it all set up, I jump into my car and shut all the doors to realise that my car is full of mosquitoes as well. And then all of a sudden I’m like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill slaughtering anything in the car that moves and screaming “dead body, dead body!” down the phone to my friend who is obsessed with murder shows. About three hundred dead bodies later and I feel I can rest easy in the car but am afraid to run to the tent. But when I got out they were gone. Turns out it was just a dusk affair.

7. The church on the fifty dollar bill is in Raukkan. 

Can’t get into it. I tried. But it was pretty to look at from the outside.

And then I got in my car and finished the leg to Adelaide. Arriving only five days later than I said I would, and with more stories to fuel the Stories nickname….

When The Right Choices Feel Like Shit

Choices that feel like shit. I’ve been making a lot of them lately, both good and bad. And not any of them made in an emotionally rational state, mostly caused by stress, insomnia and anxiety. And every time I have made this much of a mess in my life before, I have promised myself that next time I will make better choices, be more rational, handle things with grace. And then I wind up back here. Feeling like shit, and unsure where to go from here, and feeling isolated and alone. For the most part, with all the difficult decisions that I have had to make over the last month, my biggest regret is not in making the choices, but in how I chose to execute those choices.

One of the hardest things for me this year was learning to value myself enough to not accept substandard behaviour from others. And then I moved in with a girl who could barely make space for me in the house I was renting from her and didn’t respect me enough to care when I asked her to have consideration with cleaning and making some space. I lived in filth. And despite gentle prodding, she never got the hint and then I exploded. Needless to say I’m moving out but I live in constant barrage of abusive text messages and in an awkward space I feel I can’t relax in.

I made the decision that if I was to date a man, he would be respectful and make time for me and want to be with me. Then I chose guys who were leaving the country, guys who were emotionally available, and guys who would breadcrumb me by text to tell me how amazing I am everyday and then choose to fill in their spare time with everyone else before considering me, never really seeing them.  And I left all of those situations too. Which was the right decision in every case because my gut always told me the right intentions  weren’t there but I chose to listen too late, and then blew all those things up when I was hyper-emotional instead of dealing with things calmly, promptly and rationally. I don’t regret my choices to end things in any case, but I do often regret how I’ve delivered those choices. It has caused more angst and awkwardness than I have needed to deal with in my life with everything else going on.

I said after my last job that if I ever felt as stressed as I did then I would just quit. But now I’m in a job I actually like and still finding that my body is responding to this by not letting me sleep any. And the less I sleep, the more irrational and irritable I become. I become less positive about me, about everything and then I’m in a state of burying myself to hide myself from others or afraid they won’t want to be around me because of my crankiness. I feel worse about myself for this too.

The cycle of stress becomes hard to break and the hard but right decisions weigh down on you and they don’t feel nice. But even though everyone is quick to advise self love and care, I know that a hair cut and colour, new nails and losing weight because you have barely eaten in two weeks don’t make you feel better about those things. You have to turn inward and really reflect for that, and when you really look, the truth is more painful than you can deal with. The hardest choice is to forgive yourself the hurting others. For not loving yourself enough in the moments you lose yourself and forget to maintain your standards with grace. For losing your shit at people when you shouldn’t. The hardest choice is to forgive yourself the mistakes that you make that wind you up here in the first place. But like all the other decisions I have made that have been hard and horrible, I know that this is also the right one. It’s the hardest one because it is the only decision that won’t make you feel like shit. It will liberate you from it.

Always Remember You

Today I sat on the shower floor and cried.

I cried and cried until there was nothing.

And then I cried some more.

I cried more than two years ago when you left.

I cried because I miss you.

I cried because I am afraid.

There were so many things I wish that I could have shared with you.

I wish that I could have played you one last song.

Your favourite.

Just like you loved.

Just like the last time I saw you.

I wish I could hear your voice.

Your laugh.

I wish that I could see your face.

One last time.

Just the way I remember it.

And will always remember it.

And will always remember you.

Awful Shit I’ve Said Drunk Tindering

I know, I know, I have previously sledged the dating institution that is Tinder. But my motto was if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, and if you can’t even do that well you may as well just get together with your girlfriends, get drunk and laugh about the whole situation whilst not taking any of it seriously…. So for those of you shacked up ladies and fellas, here’s a snippet of shit said whilst drunk Tindering.

  • Me: “Ahhhh…. Man, the dude loves Vegas. I can’t even begin to bring myself to like someone that loves Vegas enough to want to go back. He needs to go”
  • At a friends house having a lovely conversation with some dude who sexually suggested he is a fan of stamp collecting… Me (egged on by my pretty much married friends): “so do you like collecting franked or unfranked stamps?” Him: “oh I have a franked stamp, if you know what I mean (wink face). Do you like franked stamps?” Me: “Not really. Once you frank them, they lose their value.”. …. And clearly that comment was also lost on him.
  • Me: “Mmmm…. Hello Perry! Perry is a hottie…”, Friend: “like how hot?” Me: “Like Cheeky Nando’s Peri Peri Chicken hot!”
  • Me: Check out this dude on a tricycle… Friend: “Oh he’s riding a Thomas the Tank Engine tricycle, that’s so cute!” Me: “I’m practically Thomas the Tank Engine. They called me that at school to be mean. Do you think he’d ride me?”
  • Me: “What is it with this dude changing his photos every two fucking days and then changing them back. It’s like he’s got a schizophrenic bio. Can’t even write back to my witty opener. Stop jamming up my feed arsehole!! Prick’s gotta go.
  • Friend: “What have you been up to?” Me: “Oh I just went out with a mattress from Tinder.” Friend: “What?” Me: “Yeah his job is to stand on the street corner dressed as a giant mattress.”
  • Me: “Why do all musicians have unwashed hair?”  Friend: “Dano, that was you for the last three days up until noon today.” Me: “Yeah but dude, I am a musician.” Friend: “Point made….” Me: “Yeah but I don’t go outside like it and post photos on Tinder like it….”
  • Me: “Hey this guy seems normal. We are having an actual normal conversation!” Ten minutes later…. “What? Where the fuck did he go? Oh, ghostingly unmatched?! Excellent! Next!”
  • Why the fuck is your entire profile description emojis? Are you illiterate? Five year old picture book profile….
  • “Why hello Long-Schlong George from Frankston.  Your picture is just wonderful. I am so glad you had to clarify in your bio that you have a ‘monster D’ with eggplant emoji, just in case I was blind enough that I couldn’t see your giant dick through your underpants in the up close photo. That thing looks damaging. No thank you Long-Schlong George, I think I will pass. Send me back Torso Tom.”
  • “Ugh, fuck this shit, I am over it! Ok, just one more swipe….”

Is This All There Is?

Every single morning I wake up to a giant wall of photos that remind me of the adventures that I have had in my life. Facebook sends me memories spanning eleven years and majority of those notifications are of me being somewhere else in the world doing something amazing. Today’s memories consist of photos from hiking the Ciudad Perdida in Colombia a year ago, visiting Charles Darwin’s house three years ago, being drunk in my new cowboy hats and boots at Calgary Stampede singing away to Vance Joy four years ago as well as dressing up as Shaun and Timmy the Sheep for work and having kids pull my tail. Seven years ago I was standing under a bridge watching a free Cirque du Soleil show in Quebec as a part of their summer festival and eleven years ago I had uploaded photos from the night when I sang with Santa in front of 20,000 people at Carols By Candlelight. Every single day I see these things and I feel like I have nothing exciting right now to add to it. Nothing that would make me feel excited to see in a year’s time from now. It has left me with this horrid feeling; ‘Is this all there is? Did I sprint so hard at the beginning of my race that I forgot to leave something else in the tank to finish it?’

The truth is, nobody ever knows when their race is going to finish and I know of far too many who have had their races cut short and didn’t do half the things that they wanted with their lives. Me? I took heed and just went and did everything I could. And honestly, I regret nothing, because if I did die tomorrow at least it was a life lived fully. But looking back compared to now, I don’t know where to go. I have been so spoiled for experiences in my life, I don’t know what new ones to seek in a place that is settled.

In the last week I have taken up the new hobby of axe throwing in a hope to meet new people and hone a very fun but yet somewhat useless skill. My aim is to be as cool as Justin Timberlake throwing two axes at once, one in each hand, at two separate targets and hitting them both. My hero! I go salsa dancing every week. I go to my meet up group and speak Spanish. I box three days a week. There is no shortage in my life of things to do. But when I was doing this in England, school holidays consisted of the opportunity to offload every six to seven weeks on a new holiday somewhere to explore and Australia doesn’t really offer this opportunity from sheer size of the country and because of cost. This is the first school holidays I have ever had where I have stayed somewhere. I thought about driving somewhere random on my own and going camping and hiking, but then the busy schedule of things to do and the wretched holiday sickness set in and that put a stop to it.

I guess one of the things that I have learned and started to embrace since returning is the idea that I have to find new and wonderful things to do and people in one place and that will take a little more active effort on my behalf. If I am to continue living a life full of adventure and meeting new people, I need to actively go about seeking these things out and saying yes to every opportunity that comes my way, just like I did on the road. I need to find people like me who are willing to also seek out and say yes to all these crazy things with me…. like axe throwing.

At the end of the day, you get out what you put into it.  And so if I make the intrinsic decision to love hard, work hard and play hard, I can make this work. Maybe I can find more in a place where I have sat for so long wondering ‘Is this all there is? Is this as good as it gets?’ Because honestly. how good it gets, well that is up to me.

 

A woman's lifelong aversion to the word 'No'….