Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Here are a few thoughts I have had during this trip:
- I am terrified of pigeons as it is. Most birds are pretty scary (except cockatoos, they're fantastic. I guess any bird that can sing, dance and insult people is ok by me), but I especially don't like pigeons. People call this an 'irrational' fear, but they're wrong. It's not irrational, they're terrifying. I don't trust any creature that is incapable of feeling fear. But at least in some places I can look at the pigeons and be reassured that they're just fat, fluffy little morons who will probably leave you alone if you throw a crust of bread far enough away. But see, in Adelaide we feed our pigeons bread rather than heroin, which is the only way I can explain Melbourne pigeons. They look like the living dead, all scrawny and crazy-eyed and they fly right into your face. I'm not sure that they're not all actually zombies but no-one has noticed yet because they're so used to ignoring them. Terrifying.
- A thing that happened to me in the airport: I was walking through the metal detectors when a security guard starts looking at me funny and gestures for me to stop. I instantly got a bit nervous. I thought that I wasn't doing anything illegal, but you can never tell with airport security. He gestured to my water bottle and asked what it was. I stuttered out that it was water, remembering that water bottles have been banned in the past because of the possibility of liquid explosives. He glared it me and told me to take a drink, which I did without hesitation. He waved me through. I was relieved. The thing is, I would really like to know why they didn't just do that in the first place, rather than going through all the hoopla of banning water and then charging $5 for a tiny bottle on every flight. Commercial flight has honestly become a competition between airlines and passengers to see who can rip each other off the most, and as a result I no longer feel bad about stretching the definition of 'cabin baggage' to it's loosest possible terms.
- I have been a bit anxious recently. Well, ok, a lot anxious. Vegatrain has been telling me that I should take anti-anxiety pills and I kept telling him that I didn't have a social anxiety problem, it was just the fact that the majority of people who are in public places are totally and completely awful. However, then I had this assignment due for Psych 101. I had a lot of technological difficulties that I'm not going to go into, but the result was that I was too stressed to even look at what the subject of the assignment was. I eventually did look at it and discovered that it was on stress and coping methods. If there is one thing that is going to make me learn my lesson, it's poetic irony.
- I was in the backyard of Sally-Tsar's house (where I am staying) the other day and I saw a shape in the sky. I looked up to see whether it was a bat or a bird, because I have the same curiousity levels as your average five year old*. It was a goose. A motherfriggin goose, flying across the night sky. I asked Sal if this was a common thing to see in Melbourne and apparently it's really, really not. The problem with being a tourist is that if something amazing and unusual happens, you're not quite sure it doesn't happen every day there. Like the time I was in London and it started snowing while I was on the top level of a double-decker bus. I thought it was a very pleasant English scene, not realising that it's extremely unusual for it to snow in London at all, let alone in April. Wizardry, obviously.
- I really like Melbourne. When I was growing up and had to go to Sydney to see any major bands that came to Australia, I always thought I hated big cities. It turns out I just hate Sydney. Seriously, the only reason there is even a debate about whether Sydney or Melbourne is better is because there are so many people who live in Sydney. They seem to take pride in the fact that they can always pick a tourist on their turf. What they don't realise is that everyone else in Australia can pick when somebody is from Sydney and it's because they're usually awful. But they seem to think that their city is just the bee's knees, always going on about how they have the harbour bridge and the opera house. Yeah, well, we have human decency but you don't hear us harping on about it. Melbourne, let's be best friends.
- A list of people who have a show at the Comedy Festival that I would probably make out with: every person who has a show at the Comedy Festival. But especially Andrew Mclelland and Deanne Smith. Which is infuriating because I met her and spent the whole conversation trying to figure out why she looked so gosh darn familiar, then realised I have only watched all her videos on youtube. Friggin facial recognition issues.
But now, I'm leaving on a jetplane, don't know when I'll be back again. See you this afternoon, Adelaide.
*Coincidentally, I also have the shoe size of your average five year old. The shoes I am wearing now I just bought from the children's section of a shop down the road and they're pink boots and they're fantastic. Kids get the best clothing options these days. I made a friendly comment about how great it is to be able to fit into children's shoes to the woman behind the counter, who responded by developing an instant and irrational hatred of me. I really don't get why woman are embarrassed to have big feet. No-one cares, you guys. Admittedly, I do have feet small enough to qualify for a position as a geisha so I haven't ever experienced this first hand, but I still don't get why having big feet is apparently something to be ashamed of.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Probably the best source for cheap entertainment in the entire school was the librarian we had for the first few years of my time there. His name was Mr Cox, which led to a lot of very obvious jokes from the student population. But in my humble opinion, his name was the least funny thing about him.
We referred to him as the Book Nazi. His demeanor was very similar to the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld except instead of soup, it was books. There had to be total silence in his library at all times. God help you if you were chewing gum. I remember a friend of mine once accidentally dropped a book from the library's upper level and I will never forget how terrified I was for her safety.
But it gets better. Cox the Book Nazi was, in his spare time, a reasonably successful square dance caller. Seriously. A few friends of mine looked him up on the internet and found that he released his own recordings of him calling square dances, giving it a bit of the old 'Dosey Doe and around you go!'. And people actually bought them. When we discovered this, it was an incredible revelation. Word spread around the schoolyard pretty quickly.
At some stage the school found out about this hidden hobby and dealt with it the way that high schools are legally required to deal with this things. That is, the way they are required to deal with these things if you live in a Saved By The Bell-esque sitcom. They put him in charge of our PE class for a week. I don't know if you've ever been given square dance lessons by a psychotic librarian with anger management issues, but it's a strange experience. He would be up on stage in a cowboy hat, dropping phrases like 'square your sets!' and throwing in a few rhymes while intermittently screaming at any student who dared displease him. There were a lot of detentions given that week.
Another of my favourite staff members was a history teacher whose name I won't mention, because it was a bit less common. Like many of the teachers at my school she was widely regarded as being totally and completely insane. Personally, I quite liked her. I remember our first history class in year 7, she asked everyone in the room to tell the class two things about themselves. A simple 'getting to know you' exercise. The girl sitting next to me (the same girl who had the misfortune of dropping that book, now that I think about it) mentioned that her favourite food was tiny teddies. We moved on. But our teacher, not so much. The next class she came in with a huge box of tiny teddies and gave them out to everyone in the class. Except for the girl sitting next to me. I should point out that there was literally no reason for doing this that isn't simply messing with a new generation of awkward teenagers.
She also sent me on the single greatest errand I ever carried out when I was at school. I loved running errands for teachers and it wasn't a brown-nosing thing - it was more to do with the fact that it got me a free ticket out of class for as long as I could stretch the errand out.
"Sarah, can you take this note to the front office?" she asked me in class one day, "Tell them it's from me, they should give you something to bring back."
I nodded and wandered out into the corridor. Obviously, I read the note. I was a bit confused when it only had three words on it: 'Bag Of Money'. I wasn't sure what this meant. Had my history teacher finally snapped and was sending the school office a poorly worded ransom note, using me as a messenger? Or did she just fancy her chances of them assuming someone else had ok-ed giving her a free bag of money?
Either way, I handed the note in to the front desk, telling them who it was from. To my surprise the office woman simply nodded and handed me an actual bag full of cash. I considered trying this for myself many times, just going up to the office with a note that said 'Every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD' or 'Free Maxibons for life' and seeing whether they reached into that cupboard and pulled out what I wanted. I was never game.
I got along well with that teacher, probably because history was one of my favourite subjects. I was always extremely interested in the way that ancient people lived. As I have mentioned, my aunt in England dabbled in archaeology (or, as I like to describe it 'Jetting around Europe digging up ancient remains with Baldrick from Blackadder'. In other words, my dream life) so I had a bit of an inside scoop on this whole ancient history business. It seems impressive in Australia to find something that's more than 50 years old, but over in Europe they're falling over historical artifacts. They can't build a carpark without having to do a full excavation. I remember hearing the story from my mother about how one of my aunt's neighbours had been digging up his backyard and had discovered a human skeleton. It was quickly cleared as not murder due to it being thousands of years old, probably Roman. It was a small country town and the neighbour wasn't quite sure what to do with the discovery, but knew that my aunt was involved in archaeology. He just gave the skeleton to her to deal with. My aunt, being a very busy person, put the ancient human remains in a box under her bed until she could find a spare moment to deal with them. She was that chill, she didn't mind sleeping with literal skeletons in her closet. Although it was even worse because they weren't in the closet, they were under the friggin bed.
Because she lived on the other side of the world, I didn't get to see her that often but I did speak to her on the phone sometimes. I recall a few months later remembering the skeleton incident and asking her how she had ever resolved it. I will never forget her reaction.
"Oh yeah," she muttered, "I should probably get around to doing something about that."
Best relative ever, seriously. Hopefully she did end up remembering to deal with it, because I never did hear what happened with that.
But back to school. As I say, I was very interested in history, but was also a slightly sarcastic teen who didn't quite understand the best applications for her sarcasm. I was in class one day, passing some judgement on an ancient civilisation. My teacher decided to stop me to teach me a lesson, as they tend to do.
"You know, we live in a very different society today. You can't judge those people by today's standards," she mused.
It was a very good point, but I would put what I said next as the single greatest academic comeback I have ever used.
"Yeah? Well, watch me because I think I just did!"
At least that girl who sat next to me got a laugh out of it.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
When 2009 rolled over into 2010, I culled my friends list to delete all the people who hadn't made any effort to contact me in the last year. As a result, I got 99 friends but a bitch ain't one.
To be fair, that wasn't the only reason I deleted more than two thirds of my friends list in one hit. See, when people talk to me in person regularly they can kind of understand where I'm coming from. They know that most of what I say is a joke and that I find being inappropriate amusing. The problem is that my sense of humour doesn't always translate that well to brief conversations on the internet.
I have a file on my laptop where I write down things I want to say if they seem a bit suss, then think them over objectively and decide whether I can get away with them. I have mentioned it before. It seems like overkill, but it has saved my arse a few times now. My favourite example was when a girl I hadn't seen in awhile asked her friends list about skiing in Japan. Without thinking, I typed out the phrase 'I hear they've got some wicked slopes in Japan!' before realising what I'd said and hurriedly deleting it.
A second incident occurred when Buglustre's brother was being pressured into watching a movie or some such. I hadn't heard of whatever it was they wanted him to watch but I was kinda tempted to add to the conversation, for no reason other than to be creepy in the name of personal amusement. I wanted to chime in out of the blue with: "Yeah, do it or we will all gang rape you". In a lot of situations, I would have been fine with saying such a thing. But considering that I was on a mission to be the first friend of his sister's that this guy was not afraid of, I eventually decided against it.*
I have a few theories about Facebook. Not the people who use it, but Facebook itself. I have a sneaking suspicion that there's more to this beast than meets the eye. I have thought for awhile that Facebook has become a sentient being but I wasn't sure what it was that made me suspect such a thing. Not only am I now quite sure that Facebook has its own personality but, you guys, it's kind of a jerk.
My first clue came when they added those little word things that you have to retype to prove your humanity. There are a heap of websites dedicated to people who have read those two 'random' words and gone 'HEY! Hey, that's mean!'. There are the apparent insults, things like 'Smells Bad' and 'Fart Brains', or the strange and disturbing instructions such as 'Beat Wife' or 'Kill Everyone'. Admittedly I made all of those up, but I've seen the type of phrases that have appeared and none of these would surprise me in the slightest.
Another piece of evidence for my 'Facebook is a Jerk' file came when they introduced Friend Suggestions. It seemed like a good idea, finding people you might be interested in knowing based on your mutual friends. I have since suggested that the slogan for this feature should be 'Friend Suggestions: Reminding You Of Every Awful Thing You've Ever Done'. Facebook keeps suggesting that I contact old flames who I hurt kinda badly, family members I really should have contacted sooner, friends I lost because of some stupid reason and so on. Friend Suggestions is that guy at a party who brings everyone down by reminding them of all the things they'd rather forget about, then proceeds to get mind-bendingly drunk and mistake your TV for a urinal. Nobody wants to talk to that guy, but there is apparently no way to get rid of him.
But the real evidence that Facebook is alive and jerking comes when it glitches. Things get a bit mixed up in unpredictable ways. The biggest example of this that I can think of came when I was discussing something on someone else's photo. I was informed by the person I was talking to that they couldn't read my comments and all they could see was that Facebook was saying I'd posted them on January 1st, 1970. I thought this was a bit strange and inconvenient but didn't think any more of it. Until I had a quick look around me. I saw the lava lamp in the bathroom, the big reflective sunglasses on my desk, the flat shoes I was wearing that say 'Love' on one toe and 'Hate' on the other and heard the sounds of Hall & Oates drifting out of my headphones. I remembered that I write under the name Smackie Onassis, for crying out loud.
"Fuck me," I thought, "Facebook's having a go!"
I'm sure there are a thousand more examples out there of Facebook being a prick but if I had any doubt, that alone would be enough to convince me.
*I have now been informed that I have succeeded in my mission and it is mostly because of this blog. WHAT IS UP "MARY-ANNE"? :D
Saturday, April 3, 2010
It's hard to pull any kind of antic in a small town if you don't want everyone knowing about it by the morning. Believe me. Even the people you don't know are probably good friends with everyone you have ever met. It soemtimes makes it kind of hard to get away with... well, yeah, anything.
Here are a few things you should especially try to be careful with:
1) Online Dating
Some people still try to use websites like RSVP when they live in places where everybody already knows everybody else. Places like Newcastle. I know, because I tried it once. To be honest, I wasn't really looking for a relationship at the time, I was just kinda curious about the whole thing. As it turned out there were actually quite a few local profiles on there and I even started chatting to one guy. I thought he seemed nice, but then I asked him what he did for a living. It turned out we worked for the same people. In the same location. It could happen to you.
2) Repeating Gossip
Yes, people do this even more than usual in smaller towns. It's unavoidable. The problem is that they really shouldn't, because you never know who can hear you. I remember once I was waiting for a friend of mine at a cafe. There were two girls chatting nearby and even though I wasn't intentionally eavesdropping, I couldn't help but hear what they were saying. Because they were talking about me. They could see me perfectly well - the problem was that they didn't realise it was me they were talking about. They were telling a story about something I had done, not knowing that I was sitting a mere couple of metres away from them. I responded by feeling incredibly awkward and deciding to wait for my friend outside.
Cheating is a strangely powerful thing in relationships. Some people don't see it as a big deal, but others view it as some kind of dating apocalypse. It is strange to then see the things some people think they can get away with.
The bass player of the band I was in was just One Of Those Guys. When we would go touring he had this thing of saying "Not my state!", "Not my country!" or "Not my postcode!" depending on our current location. The implication was that he thought being in a different postcode meant he could cheat on his girlfriend and not feel bad about it. Someone really should have told him that this doesn't work quite so well if your girlfriend is in your band, something I found out about the most awkward way possible. I had joined only recently and we were on tour. He had drunkenly come on to me before we'd left and I'd told him I thought it was a bad idea. In an attempt to bond with the only other girl in the band, I mentioned this to her over a drink.
"Has he ever hit on you?" I asked.
"Actually, we've been going out for two years," was the reply I received.
Kind of awkward, yeah. Although, admittedly that is not so much a small town thing as a 'Don't cheat on your girlfriend who is in your band with the new girl you have hired to be in your band' thing. I think that's good advice regardless of where you live.