30 Things You May Not Know About Me

It is funny because I meet people from all over the globe and I feel like there are some things that my home people know that my traveller friends don’t and some that my traveller friends know that my home friends don’t. So I thought this week, I would disclose some fun facts that you may or may not know about me. You definitely won’t know any of this if you don’t know me….. anyway, here goes.

  1. I was born on a Tuesday, premature, still a 9 pound fatty and had no name for four days as my parents spent that long arguing about it.
  2. Over the years, sports I have been involved of included ballet (8 years), netball (year 8 premiers in the C division… lol), springboard diving and boxing.
  3. I play piano, ukulele and sing. I have been singing since I could talk. The first albums I learned were Vision of Love by Mariah Carey and Whispering Jack by John Farnham. I knew all the words by the time I was 4.
  4. I write my own music and have recorded 2 EP’s. I am currently thinking about my 3rd, which is daunting because it’s been 10 years since my last.
  5. I have visited 55 countries at the time of writing this. 56 within the next month. Hopefully 70 by the end of 2017.
  6. Quite often I will buy bananas or bread rolls at the supermarket and give them to homeless people on the way home to remind myself to be kind and to remind myself of how fortunate I am.
  7. As much as I do not like to admit it, I have OCD tendencies like my mother. I have a need to pop the fuschia flower buds on the neighbours bush everyday when I walk past it down the road. I have to systematically travel around an area and do all of it before I consider it done and can move on. I have fifty lists of things to do.
  8. I spent 6 months driving a crane in an aluminium smelter for work when I was 18-19.
  9. I have a forklift licence.
  10. When I was 17 I applied to study medicine at University. I got a place and I turned it down in favour of a science degree instead.
  11. When I was 15 I went on work experience as a teacher and after an embarrassing and disgusting come on by a year 6 student  swore that I would never, ever become a teacher. Yeah well that happened…. not.
  12. Foods that I absolutely cannot stand are coffee, beer and olives.
  13. I go through waves of suffering from depression and anxiety.
  14. I am a genetically predisposed hoarder which is not exactly the most amazing quality for a backpacker. Especially considering that I am like a pack horse and can carry quite a lot of heavy things…. which leads to backpacking problems with hoarding because instead of throwing things out I carry them.
  15. I have an obsession with pretty bras and underpants. As a teenager they were rare in larger sizes and so now I just buy the whole store out. I still however feel that most of the time they are too pretty to wear.
  16. I cook meat really well, I cannot cook cakes to save my life.
  17. I hate rings. I cannot stand wearing them and feel like I have finger claustrophobia. If I ever get married I even doubt I will wear one then.
  18. When I am sad I listen to Mr Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan and it makes me feel better.
  19. I thrive on change and hate routine. For most people it is the opposite. I however find that if the routine isn’t changing and I am not doing something new to challenge me I will go crazy.
  20. I do not fear much at all and if I do, I push myself to face it. My greatest fear is of not being able to breathe.
  21. My favourite animals are elephants, owls and otters.
  22. I can quote the movie Clueless word for word from start to finish.
  23. At 5, my favourite book was ‘There’s A Hippopotamus On My Roof Eating Cake’. At 16 my favourite book was Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. At 25 my favourite book was Memoirs Of A Geisha by Arthur Golden. At 31 the best book I have read lately is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
  24. My house cleaning music is Wolfmother. There is nothing like vacuuming to Joker and the Thief.
  25. I often do puzzle books when I am travelling to keep my brain sharp. Not Sudoku though because I find them boring.
  26. I cannot sleep on my back. Always on the side or front.
  27. Growing up, I hated both Play School and Sesame Street. I preferred to watch Fat Cat and absolutely loved Alf and Young Talent Time! I had Alf everything.
  28. I used to hate country music but after a stint of living in Calgary I now love it.
  29. The only bones I have ever broken are the stress fractured metatarsal bones in my feet. Fractures I acquired after backpacking in flip flops. Lesson learned. Now I cannot wear high heals anymore and spend most of my days in Asics running shoes with orthotics.
  30. I have made at least 4 different costumes for costume parties from duct tape alone.

So there you have it. A small insight into my lunatic mind. Until the next one, peace out! x

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What I Reckon: About Being On A Diet

*WARNING – Prepare for somewhat rant…..*

A while ago I decided that I was sick of being at the size I was at and that it was time to do something about it. Seven years ago, I was boxing, tiny and felt great about my body. After a glorious bout of pneumonia which cut me out of exercise for a year and then a nice long stint in the bread basket of Canada where everywhere you look is a processed food, I finally found myself in the position to be able to do something about the weight. And so after 3 months of boxing and getting into a decent fitness routine, I started on the Atkins diet (because my body retains water when I even look at a carb). I lost the weight, then under the stress of work and more travel, it happened again and I ballooned. So back on the bandwagon I go. To make myself do it, I booked a cheap Groupon photoshoot for fun.

One of the biggest challenges I have found to weight loss is not even the strictness that is required to stay away from the carbs. I got to that point now where I was 3 weeks in I don’t crave or want them anymore. My biggest challenge to dieting is other people’s attitudes. It is a sad thing to say but for most people, the biggest challenge that they will face is lack of support from other people. I used to have this all the time when I was living at home with Mum and Dad because they didn’t want to eat what I was cooking and I wasn’t being considerate of others. I now cop it from work colleagues who seem to correlate levels of fun with the amount of alcohol you consume. One colleague even finds pleasure in putting carbs under my nose on a daily basis and I want to punch him, not because I want his bread roll (the thought of which now makes me want to puke) but because he is being such an unsupportive turd. Fun also seems to be correlated with excess consumption of not so healthy food also. If you refuse to consume you are then ‘antisocial’.

And so I pose this question… While everybody says that they are happy for you when you lose weight, are they actually? Or are they annoyed that they themselves do not have the strength and willpower to go out and do what they want so they find comfort in bringing you down to see you fail.  And more so, is this not a reflection of society in general and the need to cut down the tall poppy instead of embracing and encouraging the strengths that we have. I see it on a daily basis in the school system with the smart kids getting bullied or attacked for ‘enjoying science’. You will see it in the media with every celebrity attacking each other through Twitter about the clothes they wear or the things they say and do. It makes me angry. And what makes me even more angry is that people tell me that I must be angry because I need a carb. The truth is, it makes me angry that we cannot as people support the positive decisions that others make in their lives because we fear that it somehow makes us inferior or less of a person if we are then not making these same positive decisions.

Truth be told, I don’t want to progress up the chain of command at work. I don’t find the trade off of the title for the extra stress beneficial for me as a person. But I will support those who do because I can appreciate the work and dedication it takes to step up. I don’t want to be an Olympic boxer. But I will support and appreciate those I meet with the natural ability and hardcore work ethic that want to go all the way. Hell, I will support people in whatever positive decisions they want to make in their life. Because it is their life. And whatever makes them happy is whatever makes them happy. Majority of people will support these ventures… but weight loss? Why is this such a different thing for people to come to grips with and support. Why is there such a peer pressure to drink more and eat more rubbish over the peer pressure to avoid clogging your arteries, live longer and be healthy? Is it because we feel less bad ourselves about trashing our bodies if there are others engaging in the activity too? And then somehow we can vilify our behaviour knowing that it is because others do it we can too, guilt free. Therefore anyone who chooses not to engage is labelled a ‘loser’, ‘downer’, ‘spoil sport’ or ‘boring’ and hopefully it will push these people back into the hole of conforming to peer pressure so that everyone can feel good about themselves? So many questions. I don’t know the answers. But what I do know is this….

Please, if you are reading this and you have a friend that is trying to lose weight, please be a good human and support the positive changes they are making in their life. Support the fact that they don’t want to die and early death due to heart attack or obesity. Support the fact that what they are doing is hard. Even if you don’t agree with it. Even if you feel that it imposes on your social life and the things you can do with them. Even if you feel inferior because you think you can’t. Support it. Change your attitude about the idea of ‘fun’ to not include copious drinking and broaden your horizons to include something new. Who knows, you might find something new that you enjoy and feel better about yourself in the process.

And to those on the journey of dropping the pounds, congratulations for making a change! I am with you all the way and we can do this with or without the support of others because we are strong enough and courageous enough to make change on our own. We deserve this. And so we will have it!

Shit I Learned In Serbia

Serbia was one of the first countries I travelled in my trip around the Balkans and it was probably a good idea that I went to Serbia first. I think if I had have gone there last and heard some of the things come out of locals mouths that I heard while I was there I may have just slightly lost my shit at them. For the most part, Serbians are very lovely and passionate people. However it is an interesting place to travel if you want to see just how far government propaganda and media can place some of the most nonsensical and ridiculous ideas into a people and have them believe that these notions are true. Today the Serbs still fight for their pride despite losing the war and face in front of the world at the hands of Slobodan Milosevic. On the other hand, the Serbs also faced massive atrocities at the hands of the Turks from the Ottoman period and their five hundred year occupation. Add it all together and you have an interesting country that should be observed with a critical eye.

Here is some super trivial shit I learned in Serbia….

  • The Novi Sad staple diet must consist of popcorn and ice cream because I failed to find any other form of food while I was there. (Maybe this happened on purpose.)
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Sunset over the fort at Novi Sad

  • I learned to read the Cyrillic alphabet. Hooray!
  • The name ‘Belgrade’ comes from the Serbian ‘beo grad’ which means ‘white city’.
  • During the NATO bombings of Belgrade, the animals in the zoo got out and were roaming the city. This includes the elephants and tigers…. shame they didn’t find and a) stomp on or b) eat Slobodan Milosevic.
  • Serbs are unimpressed with nudity. So much so that this statue was shunned and removed from the town centre to where it could not be seen by the public.
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Naked man…tehehe…..

  • Nis was home of Constantine the Great. It was where eventually build his house the Medijana.
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Constantine’s mosaic floors

  • Back in the days of the Ottomans, the more windows you had on your buildings, the more taxes you had to pay.
  • Nikola Tesla is apparently Serbian…. he seems to be claimed by many different places around the Balkans, but his ashes rest in Belgrade’s Tesla Museum despite him never actually visiting Belgrade when he was alive.
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Getting electrocuted at the Tesla Museum

  • There is a sign in the city centre which has an arrow pointing to the moon so that when people get super drunk on rakija they still know which way is up
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The moon is up apparently

  • Tito was a cool guy who was loved by many and had a rule of communism that was way less harsh than that of many other communist regimes of the world….
  • The Yugoslavian National History Museum in Belgrade is a joke and gives no insight into anything that happened in Yugoslavia except for the fact that Tito was an ‘awesome dude’.
  • And of course my glorious tour guide told everybody that it wasn’t Serbia’s fault that Yugoslavia broke apart and that everybody else decided to leave because of ‘religious differences’ and whatever anyone else tells you about it is false. She was also fairly adamant that NATO had no right to be in Serbia and couldn’t understand why it is that they bombed a few buildings because they were all innocent. Again, it was lucky that I hadn’t yet been to Bosnia or I would have been enlightening her with a few facts about say, the genocide at Srebrenica…. but anyway, I guess I learned that ignorance and propaganda reign supreme.
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A destroyed building from the 1996 NATO Bombings

Despite some of the negative emotions that I had towards the Serbian government and the ignorance of some of the people that live there, I did find the local Serbians to be an incredibly generous and lovely group of people (well unless I was trying to by Bulgarian money at the exchange – the Serbs don’t seem to like any of their neighbours). I enjoyed my time here and wished that I had more time to get out into the countryside and explore further.

 

Shit I Learned In Lithuania

In my half term break from school I decided to go visit the Baltics and from when I decided this was an excellent idea in March until when I went in late October, I still thought this was a fantastic idea. Then I got there and froze my arse off because it was so cold. At one point I was chasing snowflakes around outside with my tongue hanging out for entertainment to forget about how I couldn’t feel my face. So the first thing I learned here was this.

  • Don’t go to Lithuania after September.

Here is some other random shit I learned whilst I was making my way around the wondrous Lithuania:

  • You cannot buy tinned soup in Lithuania

I tried. I failed. When all you want when you are sick and snotting all over the place is a large can of chunky soup and all you can find are Maggi sachets, life is going to get a bit disappointing.

  • You can be polite sneezing here.

The word for thank you is aciu, pronounced ‘achoo’ like the sneeze sound. Also a plus when you are sick.

  • There is an independent country within Vilnius

There is a country within the city of Vilnius known as the Republic of Uzupio. They have their own constitution and it is hilarious. “A dog has the right to be a dog”, “everyone has the right to be loved, but not necessarily”. Amazeballs….. anyway, everyone who lives here has a passport and they have an independence day party every year.

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The constitution of Uzupio

  • Other countries love occupying Lithuania.

There were the Danes, the Swedes, the Poles, the Russians, the Nazi’s and again the Russians….. pure ridiculousness. In 1989, whilst under the occupation of the Russians towards the end of the Cold War, over 2 million people joined hands on the road that stretched from Tallinn to Vilnius in one massive straight line to demonstrate unity and a want for independence. This is the longest human chain recorded in history. They had to wait a few years, but they eventually came out from under the Russians to claim their independence and have been their own country ever since.

  • Religious pissing contests are funny

Under the reign of the catholics, no other buildings were to be taller than the catholic church in Vilnius. So as an ode to ‘screw you’ the Jewish decided that if they couldn’t go up, they would go down. So they dug out two floors in the basement to make sure that they had the “tallest” building in city. Cheeky shits!

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Stunning gothic church in Vilnius

  • Lithuanians love basketball

I mean they are totally obsessed with basketball. Any other sport that would otherwise be played here falls to the wayside compared to the Lithuanian love of basketball.

  • Churches are not just useful as churches

When the French arrived, this particular church was turned into a storage facility for Napoleon’s guns. Then after the French departed, the Germans spent a stint here changing all the shapes of the windows so they could get the bells out and melt them down to make more guns. Then after that the Russians came in and banned any religion whatsoever and it commissioned to be an ‘atheist museum’. What do you even put in an atheist museum?? Odd.

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The church where Napoleon kept his guns

  • You can get baptised more than once.

In fact, to encourage people to become baptised upon the arrival of the religious folk into this area and the shunning of the pagan folk, they used to give all people being baptised a woollen t-shirt. So good and warm was this wool that many people went back to get baptised a good three or four times so that they could get more woollen t-shirts.

  • The first massacres of the Jews in World War 2 started in Lithuania

When I was travelling in Kaunas, I went to a very sobering place known as Ninth Fort. It was originally a part of the fortification structures in the area but during the Russian occupation and the Nazi occupation, the place was used as a prison. It was here that the first of the massacres of the Jews began by the Nazi’s in World War 2 after they were bought over from Gdansk. You can still see the bullet holes in the walls. There is a monument to remember these people by that is quite haunting and beautiful.

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The memorial at Ninth Fort

  • There is a Devils Museum

It is full of different statues and paintings of the devil doing all kinds of wicked deeds and is in fact, quite cool. Devils pouring vodka down the throats of helpless individuals, fornicating devils, international devils, devils having an all round great time.

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Cheeky devils!

  • Zeppelins are the bomb

The local food is like a giant ball of potato with meat in the middle that is then either boiled or fried. It is served with a sauce and bits of bacon. It is amazing and super good for the cold months. And it also sits like a bomb in the bottom of your stomach once you’re done eating it.

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A tasty traditional lunch

Well hopefully this was interesting. Based on my adventures with a cold whilst roaming around outside trying to catch snowflakes with my tongue I did actually managed to learn some stuff in my pharmaceutical induced state. Until the next!

 

 

The (Mis)Adventures of Dano: Getting Hit On

Well a great way to start your morning is with a marriage proposal. This one came from a friend who is looking to leave the US if Donald Trump manages to become President as he feels that he no longer wants to be there if this horrid fate is to eventuate. Romantic I know, and I told him as much. Which is when he points out to me that at no point with me would life ever be boring if I was to ever take on a ‘pity wife’. Of course he would be the wife because I wear the pants, kick arse on a weekly basis and he even agreed that we’d keep my family name. Anyway, he calls my life ‘The (Mis)adventures of Dano’. Which got me to thinking…. how is it that one seems to constantly find themselves in situations of ridiculousness? Do I have ‘crazy magnet’ written on my forehead?

This week alone I have spent majority of the week unsuccessfully trying to hide the black eye I got on Sunday at jiu jitsu. Apparently this makes me a crazy person as I am willing to get physical and fight with others.

So anyway, in another Steve-inspired segment, here are some “crazy hit ons” from the (Mis)adventures of Dano.

  • Weird, creepy guy is driving down the road screaming out of his car window at me about how fat my arse is. Apparently telling him to fuck off wasn’t quite enough for him to decide that he was going to leave me alone. Instead he just kept on rolling with the fat arse comments and my personal favourite line “God wouldn’t have given it to you if he didn’t want you to have it”. God clearly didn’t want you to have a brain either. Arsehole. Despite me telling him it’s impolite to comment on people’s arses and to disappear out of my face, hits were not quite making their way through the neural network. He kept going and going and going until thankfully someone came up behind him and honked their horn at him to drive normal speed and the arse clown moved on. 
  • I am cooking quietly in a hostel and get into a conversation with some new people. The couple upon five minutes of meeting me have literally told me they haven’t seen each other in 3 days and there will be sex. But that they were all about free loving and that they would like me to come on over and join in with them…. ummm…. yeah… no. After pointing them in the direction of the bathroom, they proceeded to tell me I have a nice arse and queried about my underpants choice. I of course for shits and giggles told them I wasn’t wearing any and ran off to hide somewhere where they couldn’t find me.
  • Once upon a time I was in my local Boots Pharmacy store and looking at heat packs. I like the ones with wheat in them. None of that gel shit. Anyway, I am shaking the box when the huge arse security guard starts giving me the 20 questions about what I am doing. He then uses this as entrance to try chat me up. I manage to wrangle my way out of the conversation “oh look at the time,  gotta go” and escape the Boots. About 5 minutes and a good 200m down the road this guy taps me on the shoulder panting heavily because he had just asked his boss for time out to go get my number. What the hell do you even say to that?! I was so taken aback that I gave him the wrong number and kept going. It will take a good 6 months before plucking up the courage to go back to the local Boots.
  • Add to this that in the following week or so after this, another random guy I’ve never met decides that upon looking at me that I must of course be amazing and that he just has to get to know me. This fucker is also out of breath from running. I must have said no about ten times while walking past my house and then had to double back to make sure I lost the dude before I went home.  Can’t be too careful in the presence of weirdos.
  • Sitting in a bar nursing my eye after one guy who has thrown a coaster at my head with his phone number on it has hit me in the eye. I am approached by another man who’s line is ‘Hi! Have a drink with me? I just got out of prison and I have no friends. Ummm….. no. Thanks. I’ll pass.

This all is rather odd to me. I would like to know where the normal men of society are? They certainly aren’t asking me out in a spectacularly normal and respectable manner. Or maybe I just have “crack job magnet” written on my forehead.

Got any crazy stories of your own, share them below! Until the next (mis)adventure!