All posts by Thomas Takes On....

An avid ambassador of the word 'yes', I am a life traveler and experiencer that winds up in all kinds of mischievous and somewhat hairy situations. When I am not gallivanting or doing ridiculous things around the world, I am a super responsible high school chemistry, science and mathematics teacher. I am also a singer/songwriter who released an EP, Yours For The Keeping, in 2006. Delivering performances in many places around the world, one of my favourite places to perform was with the drag queens of Toronto's Church St in 2010/2011. These days I just chill with my ukulele, does the odd cover gig for fun and writing ridiculous jingles. Other favourite activities are Crossfit, boxing training, cooking a million and one different varieties of pie, growing vegetables, International Spy Missions and hiking. Oh and travel. But I consider that a lifestyle, not a hobby! So Follow me through life as I take on the world and whatever challenges are thrown my way!!

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.

 

The Wasteful Society

In a time where combating climate change, managing resources and waste reduction are hot topics that will define the outcome of the future of our planet, I have never been more disgruntled. Everywhere I look driving down the suburban streets of Melbourne are piles and piles of shit that people are offloading onto the nature strip. This phenomenon is known as “hard rubbish”, and back in the day it was used to put out larger items of very broken things for the rubbish man to collect, such as couches, beds and bookcases. These days, people are so lazy that they are dumping all manner of things on the nature strip for people to illegally forage or because they can’t be fucked driving down the road to donate it to Vinnies or the Salvos.

Outside the front of my apartment block sat a tub of plates, cups and bowls of a more olden style for a good week, getting rained on. The truth is, somebody less fortunate could have used those and they should have been taken to a charity organisation so that they could be given away to somebody in need. God knows there are enough homeless people on the streets of Melbourne right now that could use a hand with some free furniture, heaters, vacuum cleaners, kitchen ware, bookcases, chairs, prams and all other manner of quality things people are throwing away to “upgrade”.

Handbag, neck pillow, trolley to fucking carry them in… All things that could easily been walked ten minutes down the road to a charity bin instead of getting fucked on the side of the road in the rain and are now not usable.

I can now trot down the road and buy a shitty new bookcase at Kmart for twenty bucks, which is less than an hours worth of work, and when I’m bored of the colour or the shape or need a mix up in my house cause I’m bored as fuck and have nothing else meaningful to spend my money on that I work so hard for, I go to Kmart and buy another shitty bookcase, or better yet, I upgrade to another less shitty brand for the point of being seen to be more trendy. People are buying for the sake of buying instead of for need and then when they have too much shit, they chuck it and clear it all out for the next haul of shit to incorporate into their lives.

Gone are the days of darning holes in socks, reupholstering couches or even bothering to move most of your furniture to your new house when your lease is up. May as well toss that shit to the curb and get the Ikea man to deliver a new batch, because of course, it is a new chapter.

As someone who still wears underpants with holes in them and gets told off by my mother for it, the idea of getting rid of anything still functional to anywhere other than a charity shop appals me. It is the laziness and disregard for the resources that are becoming more and more limited to us each and every day. It is the constant need to feel like we aren’t a failure if everything we own is new and shiny so we can keep up appearances to others. It is the complacency of our easy lives where you don’t even have to drive to KFC to get it when hungover anymore because someone will just bring it to you. So why should I drive my junk to a charity shop for someone else’s benefit. If they want it, come and get it. I’m just going to leave it here, the shortest distance from my door away and if the council gets to it to dump it into landfill before you do then stiff shit. It can go to landfill with all the rest of the shit I turfed out last month.

More than ever before, we need to take action. And while people are up in arms about plastics and biodegradables and cutting waste, fighting the good fight, majority are too lazy to be bothered because of the selfishness of not seeing past themselves. And that right there is not just a sad thing to observe, but a waste of the fucking planet and a waste of the life that won’t exist in as short as a few thousand years because of it. As convenience replaces having a conscience, we collectively give less of a fuck about each other, the environment or the future outside of our direct selves. We waste our opportunities to have a positive mark on the world and our society with our complacent and lazy attitudes. And while it isn’t everybody, there are a number of people who fight the good fight, many can’t be bothered and procrastinate the now. Because I’m not going to know about it when I’m dead and then the waste can be someone else’s problem for good.

As someone who has travelled around the world and seen how little that others have globally, my frustration for the constant moaning by members of developed societies about how hard it is that they have it because they can’t upgrade to a larger television or get pissed this weekend without shelling over a hundred bucks is infuriating. Even students I used to teach in England would snap the pencils I loaned them in half and then tell me to get over it because I can replace it for ten pence. Smash their phones? Whatever, their parents will give them another new top of the line iPhone to replace it as long as they throw a large enough tantrum. There is no inherent value in the possessions that we have anymore and we are more than ever becoming consumption machines that are taking in as much as we can and spitting out what doesn’t suit us anymore without thought or consequence.

The biggest questions I guess from here are to what consequence? And exactly how long can we keep going at life like this until these consequences seriously set in. My friend has convinced me that to survive the impending apocalypse we should go and learn which native plants we can forage so that we will live when there is no food on supermarket shelves left over. My other friend who worked in natural land management suggested not to do so if I didn’t want to die of heavy metal poisoning. Apparently we are wasting our soil by dumping our toxic products into creek streams without stress of repercussions either.

Nothing makes us sit up and pay attention. Nothing makes us listen. And as our society becomes more and more involved in themselves and how to make themselves look good to millions of others on the internet, or how to make millions of dollars to not share with others, I am wondering what it will take to make this happen. I am wondering how far this is going to go before all hell breaks loose and our option to be so wasteful is taken from us. Maybe I will see it in my lifetime. Maybe I won’t. I fucking I hope I don’t. But somehow I feel this is a large possibility right now.

 

 

I Probably Should Be An Adult By Now

Yep. At 34, I probably should be an adult by now. That said, I don’t currently feel like an adult, nor do I feel like I am ever going to progress towards being one. I write this as I sit on a camp stool at my desk. My desk is not actually a desk, but a whole bunch of storage boxes that I stacked up, threw a piece of $5 MDF from Bunnings over the top of and then covered it over with some $2 a metre material from Spotlight. No. I didn’t sew it. I used a whole bunch of pins to keep it there because I couldn’t be bothered dealing with superglue. As you can see, I am at the height of adult bedroom decoration. I don’t even have a proper bed, just a mattress on the floor. And you know what? I am actually quite happy this way in my kiddie fort built out of non-adulting materials. For some reason, I find something comforting about it.

Maybe this has something to do with values. I spent quite an amount of time in the last few years pondering what all of the stuff actually means. I certainly can’t say, to quote Marie Kondo, that having a bookcase “sparks joy” for me. What “sparks joy” is being comfortable enough in an environment that is mine but without the feeling of being excessively tied down with stuff. That feeling makes me feel tied down to one place way too much. Maybe I am not quite ready to let go of nomad lifestyle just yet.

Adulting also requires a job. And I am about to start one. And that is scary. But not as scary as signing into a job forever because I have chosen for my job to be flexible and at times of my choosing. In any life adulting requires paying bills and that requires making money, but career focus is not something I can say that I give too much of a fuck about which is also strange for a 34 year old. As I always say, “was great at their job” said nobody’s tombstone ever. Mine will probably say “never effectively learned to adult”.

Dating is also an inherently adult trait and I have been doing a fair bit of it in recent months. I can’t much say I have the adult feeling of having to put up with many of them for too longer a period of time. The truth is, I just can’t see myself adulting enough to be in any kind of serious relationship. Especially if it requires adulting enough to look after another human. That is high level adulting and not something I am capable of while I am sleeping on mattresses on the floor and working at makeshift desks and stealing fruit to eat from trees down the road that overhang the sidewalk.

But then what is adulting? For the better part of my grown life I have made my own money, fed and looked after myself and travelled a very large proportion of the world. Sure I don’t have a lot of impressive furniture, I am fairly makeshift, I don’t have a permanent job but I still manage to pay the bills, and I haven’t found a person I consider worthy enough to keep around for a long period of time. But does that make me less of an adult? Just because I choose to do it differently from the everyday societal norms? So I pose to you….. What even is adulting anyway? Because screw it, I think we need to redefine.