Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bracelets and Memories

I leave for Bali on Saturday.

As usual, I'll be doing my packing on the morning of my flight. As usual, I expect to lose items of clothing, and a few brain cells. I expect I won't be getting my hair braided though. I may or may not come back with Bintang singlets for various loved ones. (Ev's reaction to my suggestion that he'd love one: "...nahbro.")

Anyway, during the long and traffic-filled drive back from work today I thought to myself that it might be wise to take off the many bracelets I've been wearing on my left wrist for the past many months. After all, they're my constant reminder of South America, and I don't want their colour and thread to fade to oblivion in the sun and sand of Indonesia. However, immediately after thinking that taking them off might be a good idea, my heart began to race and my mood shifted in a big way. The thought of taking them off and saying goodbye to them (in a sense, as I won't be throwing them out) was both saddening and terrifying. Terrifying in less of a horror movie way, more in a NOICAN'TDOTHATYET kind of way.

The ones that have lasted the distance.

As you may or may not know, one of the things I acquired in South America was a bracelet in almost every city I went to. I came back with about eighteen/nineteen (at least three were lost along the way), and slowly they've dwindled to ten still on my wrist (and one on my ankle). I remember where each one was bought/found/given, and from whom, and in what circumstance. They all have a story, along with each location they represent.

My Santiago bracelet is a orange and green affair, lovingly made by Dani, the kind-hearted, hard-drinking Argentinean living at the Moai. He was one half of the Porteño double team, the other being Guillermo. I lived there for about a month, with them, Jesse, Taylor, and the other crazy Chileans that inhabited the sprawling house. I offered Dani money for the bracelets - he was selling them, after all - but he said that all he wanted from me was that I "do a favour for a stranger who needs it". In case you're interested, I did do what he asked, by rescuing a dog while in Chiloé.

My bracelet from Potosi is orange, yellow and blue, because those colours remind me of the tshirt worn most days by Sam, the English boy I was traveling with at the time. Salta's bracelet is a kind of vomit-coloured yellowy green, because I was nursing one of my worst hangovers in history that morning. Valparaiso is bright blue, because the sky and the sea and the street art of that town were just as bright. La Paz sports the colours of the Bolivian flag, Cordoba is the blue of the Argentinean flag (it was my first big Argentinean city taken on solo). And so on, and so on. When there weren't any guys on the street selling bracelets, I improvised. In Castro, I bought some mittens from an old lady, and I asked her for some wool. I've been wearing that around my wrist until today, when it broke while cleaning the coffee machine.

Am I being overly sentimental? Probably. Definitely. To be fair, I don't think that under normal circumstances I'd be feeling like this upon deciding to take off my bracelets. However, circumstances are somewhat out of the ordinary at the moment. Remi's in town. Anyone who knows me will have noticed my constant "REMI'S COMING SOON!" and "I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE REMI!" screeching in the days leading up to his arrival. Now that he's here, South American adventure memories seem to be continually rushing back to me. Places and things I hadn't thought about in months are suddenly front and center in my brain, as Remi and I constantly end up strolling down memory lane with a beer in hand. Oh MAN, do I miss it. I don't think I've ever missed anything like I miss the road in South America (more about that another time though).

Okay, I've taken three off. So far so good. I feel weird though. Like I'm doing something that can't be undone, something cheesy like that.

A few left on. I kind of have this feeling, along the lines of, "Euuuuurghhhh, I shouldn't have done this. I want them all to be back on again." I mean, it's probably the best move ... they're disgusting. They smell, they're faded and dirty and probably crawling with germs. But I don't want to not be wearing them.

Last one. It's the one from Cordoba ... the guy I bought it from burnt the ends together, so it wouldn't ever come off. Don't want to cut it. Will struggle for a bit.

Wrestled with the burnt knot for a while, then went into Ev's room and used a stanley knife to cut it off. Quite a moment, I'll say that much. I feel naked. I felt like I'd cut off a link to a part of me. Or something. Something like that. I definitely feel naked. And I have a giant tan line on my wrist. A very, very white patch between two brown bits. 

The result. The tan line. The drama. Probably a much bigger deal than I should have made over something that really shouldn't be momentous in the slightest, but I can't help it if one of my best pals from Peru is here to reminisce with. COME ON. Extreme circumstances. Anyway, let's see if I can't even out this white patch while under the Balinese sun.

Farewell, bracelets.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Remi's in town, a non-stop weekend begins. 

And so, I give you a video of Werner Herzog talking about chickens. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

So Many Things. ALL the things.

This week is going to be large. The next few weeks are going to be large. Hell, the next couple of months are going to be morbidly obese. The next couple of months should have a good hard look at themselves and their eating habits and the point at which everything turned so .... huge. Flabby, in the best, most amazing possible way.

Why are the next couple of months going to be so big?

This week one of my favourite people, Remi, is coming to visit. A very tall, very sweet Dutch boy, he very quickly shot towards the top of the list of Favourite People Met in South America. We met in Cusco, at the Spanish school we were both attending. It was marvellous to be at that particular school, given that myself and my travel pal were the only Australians in sight. I don't know if you've ever encountered Australians whilst on the old dusty trail of overseas travelling, but Australians can either be awesome as hell, or horrid as shit. Australians are everywhere overseas. We're like a plague. A (very often) loud, drunken, bogan plague wearing board shorts in even the harshest of climes. Thus, it was lovely to be surrounded by Dutch, German, Belgian, Canadian and English folk. Remi and I soon bonded over a shared love of David Lynch, Dan Deacon, arthouse films and beer. Remi and the Amauta crew play a vital role in the vast majority of my favourite Peruvian memories, and it was with a truly heavy heart that I bade goodbye to them and the city after so many weeks of seemingly being unable to leave. Remi especially, was incredibly difficult to say farewell to. We hugged goodbye about five times, every time just not feeling like an adequate expression of how much we'd miss each other. Colin and I walked back to my hostel, and I couldn't help but quietly wail "But.. but... REEEEEEMIIIII" after walking a few blocks in tear-stifling silence.

AND SO it is with great excitement that I await his arrival in a few days! Daggy as it may sound, I actually really get a large kick out of showing friends around Melbourne, giving them tours of all the laneways and cafes and bars. After endless travel guide TV shows about Melbourne the whole "HIDDEN LANEWAYS" things gets a little old, but there's no denying that's one of the best things about the city I'm so glad to call my home.

As far as the other things that are making the next two months so big, we can add to the list a week-long sojourn to Bali with the uni girls, my little brother's birthday and subsequent trip to New Zealand, St Kilda Festival, attempting to cram house-hunting into the mix, continuing to have a full-time job, and Mitch's trip back to Melbourne for ten days of madness.

I almost feel a little overwhelmed. Overwhelmed in the most delightful way possible. Where oh where am I going to find the time to watch The Wire???

Anyway, here are a few things worth watching to contribute to a less painful Monday.

OK Go never cease to amaze when it comes to upping the music video ante. The mind truly boggles at the time and effort and planning it would have taken to get this done. Ridiculous. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Another time I've climbed something then thrown myself off it.

Being ungraceful, I succeed at it.

In a previous post I mentioned a certain propensity of mine for climbing tall objects while under the influence of a good time/a few drinks/a few good friends. I wasn't kidding when I described it as a full-fledged habit, as you'll soon see.

I'm not sure what it is exactly. It could be put down to inhibitions being dashed with the addition of alcohol to a night out. I'm going to take a wild guess and maybe say that plays a part in it. That being said though, it's not as if I have any definite aversion to heights or climbing to great heights whilst sober. Maybe it's the inherent skill I have for falling over at opportune moments and the way I lack anything resembling grace? A little from column A, a little from column B methinks. I climb statues, fences that happen to be unlocked (that's actually happened a few times), trees, boulders, other peoples' bikes, abandoned Chilean rodeo rings. Let me at it. I'll climb it. 

Look, I am actually one of the least graceful people I know. One of the clumsiest people I know. I'm not kidding, yo. My legs are a constant warzone of bruises and cuts and scrapes. I walk into chairs, dishwasher doors. I trip over my own boots. I walk into doors, while giggling like a schoolgirl at the lame jokes of co-workers. While working in hospitality you can bet that I'd break a glass during most shifts. I suppose it's some consolation that I know others get so much laughter and joy out of the many tales of woe and injury that I can tell. You got a story about being clumsy? Pfft. Kiddo, shush. The adults are talking now. Listen up, I'll tell you some stories of clumsiness that'll make you cringe till your face hits your palm.

I recently related this story to some people I don't know that well. I'm sure they think I'm much less cool than they initially did, but at least I got a few lols out of it! You'll have to forgive the fact that this is a blog, I find there's more lulz to be had if I'm acting out the various stages while telling it. 

I was walking down some stairs. Metal stairs, the kind that get slippery when wet. I was descending said stairs with two friends of mine, a couple of friends I considered to be a couple of the more interesting and intelligent guns in my arsenal of pals. It was winter, so I was wearing that old reliable jacket, my cold weather darling companion. I was also wearing thick woolen gloves. Perhaps you can see where this is going? Oh, you're so astute. When the inevitable slip and tumble occurred, it was a slow motion comedy of errors. 

A choked cry erupting from my face, I slipped down the stairs. I couldn't get my hands out of my pockets in order to grab at something to steady myself, or to break my fall. My nimble (read: ungainly) footwork saved me though, as I fell down the stairs. I flung myself against the wall, hands still tightly within my jacket pockets. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to stop the momentum, or my seemingly-on-strike feet. So I kept half-falling, half-staggering down the stairs, my skirt no doubt giving those still standing an eyeful of unpleasantness. Lacking in options, I flung myself against the other wall, like some sort of herping, derping clumsy human pinball. Hands still in my pockets. If there was ever a time for a photo to be taken, and for DERP to be written underneath it, that was it. I kept falling, and landed in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. I finally steadied myself enough to stand up and near-hysterically attempted to laugh off my inability to walk down stairs. I had a lump on my leg for weeks.

ANYWAY. I didn't exactly climb those stairs and willingly throw myself down them, so I guess that's kind of an inaccurate example to give you all, taking into account the title of this post. Apologies.

It was 2008, it was Adelaide. Laneway was on, I was with some friends. My pal Jimmy was within the confines of the festival, having paid for a ticket like some well-meaning and honest member of society. I spoke to him on the phone, and realised the fence I was walking past was in close proximity to his location. So to the strains of Girltalk's set, I clambered up the side of Adelaide University, up a fence, up a wall, till I was hanging off the railings of a balcony, face to face with Jimmy. It was like some sort of reverse, platonic Romeo somewhat drunkenly yelping at her grungy and male Juliet.

"Good night?"
"Yeah! Good festival?"
"Fuck yeah!"

I looked past Jimmy to see a security guard striding across the balcony/walkway while looking pretty displeased.
I let go of the railings and launched myself into the night sky. It was then that I looked down and realised how high up the fence I had scaled actually reached.
You can see a pattern here, right? I climb something, have reason to jump, then realise mid-way through the air how much my landing will hurt. Hell, I even climbed a volcano in Chile, then only realised later on that I'd have to get down, and that I don't really like steep descents, or ice.

Back to Adelaide. The AUUUGH in question was the holler that echoed through the night, beneath the sound of Girltalk as I landed on the concrete in a crumpled heap. Not a good move. It hurt, and my side remained black and blue for a long time after returning home to Melbourne. Whatever, it's okay. Just part of a day's activity for me.

One day I'd like to be able to go for a week without tripping over an invisible crack in the footpath, or my own feet, or a chair that's plain to see for all apart from me. One day I'd like to meet someone more prone to walking into things than I am. Until then though, I will continue to not wear high heels, as well as not bothering to pose in photos (whenever I do, it inevitably ends in laughter).

I wear these because they're easy to walk in, and walking is a skill
I often have a questionable mastering of. Note the mismatched socks.

I will continue to refuse to hold your precious objects and small children - I will break them.

I will also continue to always carry bandaids with me. Fences and concrete beware, I'm proudly hurtling towards you, whether or not you're locked, unlocked, ready, comfortable or otherwise.