Daily Archives: December 5, 2012

Lose the ego, this is Byron Bay <3

The energy in Byron is irreplaceable. It has created so many great revelations for me…not necessarily good ones, but ones that will only be repaired if they are faced head on. I’ll pre-warn you that this post may jump around, be spacey, make no sense at all, or make me look like a terrible person…but I know that there is a bit of learning in it for everyone if you’re willing to take a gander.

My introduction to Byron Bay went a little like this…

Arrived at 6pm Sunday, just missing the monthly markets, to be greeted by my friend Anna that I met in Noosa. We stocked up on flavored tuna and headed to the beach where there was to be a drum circle. Drum circle there wasn`t but new found friends there were. Frederic is the only name I remember. Upon meeting him he asked `what is your sport?’ Admittedly a bit put off by his insinuation that perhaps I was butch I asked why he would ask that when he replied ‘those are the legs of a strong woman, an athlete’. And I looked down and read the graffiti ‘lose the ego, this is Byron Bay’ and instantly I knew Byron would be a place of realizing some uncomfortable insecurities about myself. He told us there wouldn’t be a drum circle because they were tired from the market, but invited us to a party with their friends. Following suit with my ‘say ‘yes’ when you would normally say ‘no’’ mantra for my travels, we went. For some reason Frederic requested that Anna drive…initially he said it was because there was loads of cocaine in the back seat…we weren’t really sure if he was joking, but we took the risk anyway. We went to the hostel bar at the Arts Factory then headed to the northern part of Byron “the industrial” place. Where we entered a house that smelled of curry, chai, and a hint of B.O. which was showing independent films projected on one wall and through a door we saw dancing. We entered what looked like a room for spiritual dance and found that as well as a nude woman being painted, many adults in costumes dancing with eyes closed, and communal painting canvases. All of this being recorded attentively by several video cameras, one in particular a mother filming her 11 year old daughter as she interacted with the unique ‘live art party’. I will never know if my company that night was high on drugs or life, but either way the energy let my little worries float away for an evening.

A day, maybe two, later…I’ve really lost track…I had a conversation with Anna about friends that was enlightening in both good and not as good ways. I realized that travelling has brought me together with people I ordinarily wouldn’t associate with back home…not because they are a world away, but because I have become so judgemental that without realizing, I am very picky with who I associate myself with at home. I could argue this as a positive…I am after all a master at bullshit…but let’s be honest, those who I hold near and dear are those who know my crazy and love me more for it, so who am I to judge. Without realizing how problematic, even rude it is… The first questions I ask most people at home are “What do you do?” “How old are you/how long have you been doing that”…so I can instantly judge whether or not that person is successful enough to be ‘worth my time’…when clearly with that mentality I really wasn’t worth theirs. When I’ve been travelling, it’s taken me weeks to find out what some people do for work at home. It’s like we all have the commonality of not working at the moment because we prioritized travel, and for whatever reason we chose Australia, and that is a reason to be friends. I have spent nights becoming friends with 18-45 year olds, self-employed hippies to business men, book worms to bar stars…We often have very little in common…but that’s not our focus. And as people who have chosen to open our minds, to travel, to throw ourselves in uncomfortable situations with the hope of learning and coming out even a little better off in the end, we accept and learn from traits we don’t share. I look at the collection of people I’ve met…and to somewhat of a bittersweet realization see that I wouldn’t have given most of them a time of day had I met them while in the midst of the career grind I call home.

As I vented about my [actually irrelevant in the grand scheme of things] problems to my friends Anna and Danny whilst walking along Byron’s beach to the most easterly point in Australia to watch the sunset, Danny said, “Forget the plan and just be your crazy self”. Sometimes I really like the slight language barrier (he’s Italian) as it can hyper-simplify concepts. Quite an interesting piece of advice though, as so often in our social or romantic lives we create plans [maybe its just me] to make sure we fit into the status quo and act socially acceptable…or ‘not crazy’. Society has created a picture that women are crazy because they are over emotional and vulnerable creatures that act on our emotions. As a woman who has always been super career focused and determined to play on even playing ground with the men, I’ve found myself attempting to ‘act like a man’ in any emotional situation. I’ve grown up seeing crying as weak, making fun of over-clingy girls with my guy friends, and being on a mission to be the one that cares the least in the relationship. As a few [now realized to be] poor decisions would teach me…that’s not necessarily always a good thing. I may have been burned badly in the past for expressing feelings, but just as I don’t want to be generalized as the negative stigma of a girl, I suppose I can’t do the same generalizing about men. So all of that abstract out loud [in print] thinking to rationalize the oh so simple statement by my new found friend in Byron bay. Forget the plan, be your crazy self. Sooner or later it’s going to come out. Planning to keep it hidden is only wasting your own time impressing people who don’t [and may not like] know who you really are. And really…why is any given trait impressive…I am such an advocate for being opinionated, but I’ve come to realize half of my opinions [these beliefs I think make me strong, independent and unique] are opinions I’ve adopted to impress somebody…and tried to live out for so long that I almost genuinely believe they are true.

That can sound a bit depressing, but as I quoted Liz Gilbert in my blog prior to my departure, it is these [sometimes disturbing] realizations of self that lead us to the answers we want…and I will say, that I’m sure they aren’t answers we want…because once you let go and open your mind, you see that there were questions you didn’t even know needed to be posed. It goes with ‘say yes when you would normally say no’. If you plan a whole trip, if you only stick to what you know, you will only ever know what you do right now. I know not everyone’s heads are as busy as mine…but that’s a boring and terrifying thought to anyone. I would have never agreed to get in the car with Frederic and his friends…but my choice to say yes granted me the most unique experience to date in Australia.

On a sunnier note, I have also realized who my real friends are…who I can tell every embarrassing, perhaps shameful, or totally inexcusable things I’ve done, and who will make sure I still feel amazing. Those who know the crazy inside and out and love it anyway. The people that even met under the circumstance of judgmental pre-friend screening, are legitimately good people. For that I give myself some credit. So to those of you, you know who you are, thank you…for being one of my most prized accomplishments; because without you to share life with –and of course family—what does the job, house, and handbag mean anyway? I feel honoured to say that when asked who my best friend is I struggle to come up with a single name, as [although it’s only a handful] I have a good group of people that I would trust with my life…that I run to, to share my triumphs, tears, and biggest of dreams. I look at my post about the wedding theory…it still has merit…but I’d say I’ve moved on to the crazy theory. Whoever has seen it all, full blown Anika craziness….and is still around….they can come throw some rice in my perfectly coiffed hair and eat well-planned poorly executed catering…because they will be willing to listen to me complain about it later. …and there’s still a week left in Byron.

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Brissie and the Gold Coast

First, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are regions, not cities. And you’re welcome for saving you the embarrassment of saying you are going to the Gold coast after you go to Surfers…(surfers is in the Gold Coast). I am sitting in a café/bar/bistro/casino/bottles shop across from the airport because I missed my first bus so I now have 4 hours to kill. Additionally I’m icing my slowly un-numbing new stitches on my left knee…Good life choices this week. Also, I wrote as I travelled, sorry about the mix of tenses…just imagine I’m German, there you have the FULL Aussie experience.

Brisbane: Great city. Gorgeous. It’s unreal how much artwork you can have when you don’t have to worry about how it will survive in -30 and 3 feet of snow. There were sculptures everywhere and everything painted. It was super clean and had tons of bike paths AND rent-a-bikes like in Europe! The bus driver went on about how it had very little population and clean water, but after being there I believe whatever miniscule number he was rambling about. Headed out to some live music in the valley, watched Breaking Dawn pt 2 for SIX FIFTY in the south bank, ran over story bridge to Kangaroo point, ate lunch in the Botanical Gardens…in two days. It was gorgeous and I’d love to live there with a career…but as a tourist the sites are minimal. Oh, they also had PRIME outdoor shopping and I resisted…only to come go nuts in Surfers. Also they call it Bris-vegas…I don’t know why…Surfers should be the Aussie [Jersey] Shore, though.

Surfers: Schoooooooolies. If this is ‘not that many left’ I don’t even want to fathom what it was like a week ago. The good news, I am past the point of attempting to impress 17 year old boys with BMIs that match their age. The bad news, my ‘schoolie free’ hostel….isn’t. However, Surfers is great fun. Has an UNREAL esplanade. Everything is within 2 blocks of the ocean. There was a storm when I got here which yielded some sick waves which meant I got to watch a sweet bunch of surfers actually in ‘paradise’ as I walked through the night markets (Wed and Fri night on the esplanade). I also had some double dipped dark chocolate cherry bar…yes, it was as amazing as it sounds. I figured it would motivate me to run 12 km of seawall tomorrow =) (done! Sore as hell, but done!). As for tonight, it is ‘the big backpackers night out’ which is a pub crawl for 30 bucks including drinks and yadda yadda…I have a ticket…it is 8pm…I’m fairly positive I’m an average of 5 years older than the group going…I am hoping the hostel sells out so I can scalp it (ended up going and losing half of my second toe to the worlds sharpest stiletto). Good news, finally a hostel with open use of kitchen things and the prepubescent schoolies don’t cook, so tons of fridge and cooking space for me (there’s also an oven!! Hostels never have ovens…frozen pizzas are 3 for 10 at coles…guess what’s for dinna). Tomorrow I’m running, then shopping, getting a 30 cent cone and watching the miles of beach….because I can.

Coolangatta: unfortunately I’m hitting up Coolangatta because my travel agent made surfers sound terrible even though it seems amazing…at least I will see more of the coast I suppose. It’s supposed to be more relaxed than surfers, so at least it should be schoolie free. There aren’t many backpackers that hit it up so I’m afraid I’ll probably be wifi free until Byron (travel agencies are where cheap internet is to be found. I might lie to everyone and say its beyond amazing so they feel like they missed out…but I predict that my camera will be full of photos and that my runners will have another 20 some odd kilometers on them. [Now for the post Coolie Post] It actually IS amazing! Such a hidden gem on the coast!! The only tough part is that it legitimately becomes NSW at the end of the street which is a new time zone…not good when you’re trying to find a surgery. Surgeries are what they call medicenters…rewind. Friday night, I arrived to what is probably the best hostel I’ve been in to find awesome people in my room and happy hour. I made girlfriends! (Mom, you should be pleased).

We first messed up the time difference so waited outside the bar for 30 mins for happy hour to start, then drank cider and vodka like water for the next 2 hours (til 7:30). My new friend Rachel had just arrived in Australia so we decided we had to get goon! [Side story: my German friend Yvonne shared that the reason its called goon is because it means pillow in the aboriginal language…and after you drink the bag/box of wine you can blow it up into a pillow] We then went to 7-11 where we were provoked to steal 4 slurpee cups as the guy wanted to charge us 2.50 per cup! Headed to the beach…what happens there –for the most part-stays there. We saw guys on the rocks and decided to go join them. I IDd one of them, born in ’92…’so much older than a schoolie’ he said…I tried to run away from the group I was disinterested in and fell (didn’t really notice at the time). Walked another 2 minutes and realized my legs were covered in blood from the knees down. Then I proceeded to tell a bouncer about young children “ruining my life” before heading up to the handicapped bathroom to clean up my wound. My 3 new friends sprayed out the sand/rubbish and covered me in antiseptic and bandaids (the doc was impressed the next day). We got yelled at for being too loud because I was screaming hysterically…not because it hurt but because I knew it should…The next morning I was at the beach when lifeguards told me to go to the doc, who then was shocked at my nonchalance as he popped 4 stitches into my gaping wound that was probably from an oyster shell. I’ve only become upset about it today as I realized I might not be able to do surf camp if it gets infected, I have to buy bandages, I can’t work out, be near water or sand, and probably shouldn’t drink while in arguably the best city on the coast. Also, my shin is still numb…I’m hoping its left over local anesthetic, because paralysis is not cool, man. Oooh, my glass half full: It’s a super cheap travel tattoo…right? On that note I bought a book called ‘what are you optimistic about’ which is a compilation of passages from academically/politically important people on why they believe it’s ‘all going to be alright’. So far it’s unreal, even for a realist…borderline pessimist.