Category Archives: Learning

Coronavirus Can Kiss My Arse

Coronavirus can seriously kiss my arse. And if it did, I am sure that I wouldn’t end up with an arse infection that would warrant the amount of toilet paper that the masses of people around my country are currently are hoarding and fighting over in the supermarkets. That is because it is a respiratory infection. And last time I checked, excessively shitting from your lungs isn’t a thing.

A few bits of information, just for perspective. The percentage of people dying is way less than the most recent outbreaks of SARS or Ebola. The level of contagiousness is also not that much greater than influenza and certainly not as contagious as diseases such as chickenpox, measles or even SARS. Here is the biggest point. There are more people on a daily basis dying of cancer, heart disease, suicide, diabetes and all manner of other things, and yet these things don’t seem to be a problem. The global fat pandemic doesn’t appear to be creating the same hysteria about eating apples instead of deep fried chips for fear of having a coronary. Through swine flu, bird flu, SARS, Ebola, there was never such a massive meltdown within society.

Here is another fun fact. Within the first 9 months of 2019, there were over 40,000 confirmed cases of influenza in Australia and 4,000 deaths due to complications from this. Currently in Australia we have 59 cases with 3 deaths from coronavirus. Hardly a comparison….. So why the fuck is everyone going mental?

The reality is, the media is creating a hysteria by pushing its agenda of fear. A scared population is easier to control and manipulate and in this case the manipulation is manifested in the opening of people’s wallets. At a time of economic crisis, the best thing to get people doing is spending. But the thing is, not all people have money in their wallets and are living paycheck to paycheck, like uni students, pensioners, homeless people, people on welfare and disability. These people do not have the luxury of being able to bulk buy toilet paper, pasta, nappies, 4L drums of oil, frozen fruit, eggs or flour (all things I have seen evacuated off supermarket shelves in the last week). So if you are one of the bulk-buying hysterical people, consider not being an arsehole and having respect for others that have needs as well. You are not the only person on the face of the planet with needs and I have seen people with less in poorer countries behave with more dignity than people here fighting over a trolley full of toilet paper on the news.

I actually laughed with a friend earlier this week about devising a plan for a Darwinian-style cull at the supermarket. I will take one for the team and get the coronavirus and then go stand in the supermarket aisle and breathe on anyone who even attempts to try and take more than one pack at a time. Look, I get it, the coronavirus situation is ‘shitty’. It is needlessly scaring the ‘crap’ out of people. But if you could just be a respectful human, stop ‘taking the piss’ and do the rest of us a ‘solid’ by taking only what you need off the supermarket shelves, that would be fabulous. Thanks.

Secondly, this fear is stoking the fire of racism against people of Asian ethnicity within Australia. China is a heavily populated country, and the origin of this disease. But Chinese people didn’t go about engineering this mutant virus just to kill off a large number of thier own fellow countrymen and then to spread it to the rest of the world in a hostile takover. They are victims of this like everyone else. Moreso. And by creating hysteria and animosity in this situation, the massively religious, far-right fossils that run the government are using it to push their racist, anti-immigration agenda across the country either by garnering support through fear or pushing the agenda while nobody is watching because they are too busy having a massive meltdown. It is unnecessary. It is uncalled for. And it is unfortunately a trend within western society right now.

Regardless, people need to calm the fuck down. It is not the dire situation that the media is making it out to be. I personally am not going to change how I am living my life right now just because 2 out of every million people in Australia have a disease that will kill very few other than the elderly or immunocompromised people in a country with a world-class health care system. Have fun hanging out inside your house with all your toilet paper. I am going to bypass the hysteria and go live my life.

 

 

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.

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.

 

Trying to Retain Your Second Language

In the last year, I worked my arse off to become proficient in Spanish. Speaking another language was not something that was held in high regard as I was growing up because in rural, very white Australia, it was not something that people ever used or valued. But as I started travelling the world I learned that there was real value in learning a new language because it allowed you to communicate effectively with so many more new people in the world, and these people have so many different things that they can teach you. Not only this, but studies have shown that learning a new language can change your brain and help to ward off dementia and other issues later on in life. So off I went to Spanish school and I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could.

After four months of studying in the school and another eight months of travelling around Spanish-speaking countries, I would think in Spanish, eat, breath, and sleep Spanish and it came so naturally to me. I didn’t have to really concentrate too hard on what I was doing anymore because it became a habit. And then I went home……

After family members getting in my grill about not wanting to listen to Spanish music because it sucks and annoying me while I was trying to watch movies or TV in Spanish, I felt like my language skills were waning. My biggest fear of losing something I had worked so hard to gain was rearing its ugly head. It was most evident to me when I made the massive screw up in conversation talking to a friend of mine in Spanish. We were talking about me going out on the weekend and I said to him “No hay problema, voy a compartirme…. (There is no problem, I am going to share myself)” Comportirme in Spanish means ‘to share myself’. As opposed to ‘comportarme’ which means ‘to behave myself’. Which is what I meant. This was a monumental fuck up and one that I was aware of and I knew. As we continued to text, I realised just how many mistakes I was making because I wasn’t practicing. It made me sad and frustrated. So I set about a program to try and keep it. Here is what I have been doing:

Watching Television

I started out watching Money Heist on Netflix, also known as La Casa de Papel. It is originally in Spanish so I thought it would be great. However it is in Spanish from Spain so at first I found it super hard to decipher and found they were speaking too fast, so I had the subtitles on as well. There were a whole bunch of new words that I learned, having to stop the show all the time to look it up. For example ‘joder’ which means ‘fuck’, or ‘follar’ which means ‘fuck’ or ‘coger’ which means ‘to take’ but also ‘to fuck’. So I am now well-versed in the art of Spanish vulgarity. For listening purposes without subtitles, I find The Good Place a great one because the voice overs in Spanish are quite slow and easy to understand.

Reading Books

I got a bit ahead of myself before leaving Colombia and decided that I would buy a whole bunch of second-hand Gabriel Garcia Marquez books for about a dollar each. The only problem is that Gabo (as he is so affectionately called in Colombia) is a really difficult read in Spanish to a native reader let alone to somebody who has only been speaking Spanish for a year. I took to the online library and found a whole bunch of kids books and started reading about a kid that ran away from home. Great read….. I also recommend newspapers, online articles and reading books in Spanish that you have already read in English, such as Harry Potter because familiarity with the story helps when you get lost.

Online text conversations

One of the best ways to keep up the language skills is to have online text conversations with friends that you have made that speak the language also. These may be friends from language school, online communities or my personal favourite, boys I have met on Tinder that are just passing through or now live here. Talking online gives you time to be able to process what has been sent to you and then to have time to think about how you are going to structure your response. It also allows you time to look up words that you don’t know.

Meet-Up Groups

This I find is the best way to get involved in keeping your language skills. In this setting you actually have to think fast enough to speak and while having text conversations are great, the speed of thought involved with face-to-face conversations is much faster and it is one of the first things to go when you stop living in a place with native speakers. With the large abundance of people looking to meet one another, Meet-Up has become a great way to find communities online that allow you to go along and engage with people that speak the same languages and want to practice. I have met some great people in these groups and they also teach you different slang from their native language while you teach them the same for your native language. It is a great way to make friends and get involved with people who have the same passion in common.

Learning a language and keeping it is hard. But if you put in the hard yards and keep plugging away at it little by little, you will be able to retain most of what you learned and then continue to progress. Good luck with it all!