Tuesday, February 10, 2015

For now.

So I have been home just over a week now. Here is a small list of some of the things I have been doing: I went to a meditation group, I did a yoga class, I threw a party, I went to the beach, I taught myself how to do yoga head stands, I started doing two shifts a week of baking cakes for three hours, I went to a buddhist group, I wrote some poetry, I went to a poetry night in order to see if I was up to scratch for a reading, I organised my subjects for university, I ate a lot of pho, and I saw my girlfriends for a lot of 'wine tastings' (aka we drank a lot of wine.)


Thats what life has been like while I've waited for uni to start. You know all those books you buy but never get around to reading because your too busy? I've been reading them all. At night I've been falling asleep (and actually being able to sleep without waking up thinking about work) with the curtain open so I can see the moon. It reminds me of the time I slept under the stars when I was fourteen, and I could hardly sleep out of joy. I was too full on life.

Its so sunny in Melbourne at the moment and Im so happy to be warm again after shivering away in Amsterdam and Paris. My friends and I are planning picnics and I have been taking long afternoon naps. I drink beers in the garden with my housemates, as we watch the seedlings I planted this week grow.

Life will not always be this simple. I am aware of this. Uni will soon start and I will have to find more work to support myself. For now though, Im happy to ride my bike around, content that everything is just as it should be.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Coming home!

So I am back in my home, back in my bed, and it feels pretty good. Everyone keeps warning me about the 'post travel depression' that will seep in, but I've decided I wont have any of that. Its surprisingly good to be home, in my own space, surrounded by the books and life I have acquired here. I can not put into words how good it felt to sleep in my own sheets last night.  I'm so excited to see all my friends and have started planning a little belated birthday party where we can all drink wine under the stars, and I will bake a lot of cakes.

So here is the thing about travelling that I learnt. Its sort of the same as not traveling. I mean you see new things and meet new people, and eat a lot more food, and shop a  lot more, but in a lot of ways its similar. I guess I expected to go overseas and feel different. The thing is though, I just felt like myself, but somewhere else. I drank some good wine, I bought some pretty dresses, I ate some amazing food, I went on date, and I saw beautiful things, all of which I do at home as well. Im not saying in anyway that traveling is not worthwhile. I feel like the experience stretched me in a lot of ways, and being on my own two feet in a new place was challenging at times. The whole experience simply cemented within me a stronger sense of self which I already was quite suspicious that I had.

As much as there were so many things I was excited for in Europe, Im also excited for a lot of things here. I cant wait to see all my friends, those wonderful people who keep me sane and love me even when I don't act sane. I cant wait to go back to yoga, and stretch out some of the knots I have in my back from sleeping on bad beds and lugging around that heavy case I brought home, stuffed full of new clothes. I cant wait to start uni. Going to Burgundy made me so excited to get back to study. Seeing all those beautiful vineyards stirred up something in me, that felt very similar to the excitement I felt when I first became a chef. I remember that feeling of wanting so badly to be part of the cooking world. To work long hours, put your whole life into food, have tattoos, drink too much coffee, dink to many knock of drinks, get angry, get sad (but never show it), and wear the cuts and scars from the kitchen like medals. Im now excited to feel this about viticulture, but the lifestyle will hopefully be a little different. I cant wait to discuss wine with other people who get excited about it to, to learn about the quality of soil, to work outside, to have dinner parties with other wine makes, to taste, to sip, to write tasting notes, and of course work long vintages. Burgundy made me so keep to start all this.

My trip also inspired me to get back into doing a little meditation. I met a girl in Amsterdam who reminded me of how much I used to enjoy it, and on my twenty fifth birthday I mediated until I felt like I would float off my bed. Im also so excited to ride my bike. I've missed my bike so much. I'm excited to type up the book I wrote while I was overseas. It was such a fun project, and gave my wrestles hands something to do while I sat alone in cafes. Im so glad to have written the last chapter after planning it for two years. Im excited to explore Melbourne more. Before I left I feel like I got a little stale. Work got so busy, and I was tired a lot. I started to feel like I was forgetting how to have a life. I think this year I'd like to work on that a little bit more. Have more dinner parties, paint more, write more, meet more people.....just live a little more.

So that is coming home for me, and none of it, feels depressing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Brussels.

So today is the second last day of my trip, and to be honest I'm not sad. Im in London in a little hotel, which I accidentally booked an hour out of the city. Its small and not great, but I'm not too concerned as tomorrow I'll be heading into the city for an all day sourdough bread making workshop. My trip really feels like it starting to wind up, and I'm looking forward to things like sleeping in my own bed, seeing my friends, calling my parents, and riding my bike.



Over the last few days I was staying in an apartment in Brussels. For some reason the city didn't really gel with me, and it was the first time in this trip that I didn't feel safe walking around alone. One night a man stopped me on quiet street to ask me where I was going and if I was alone. He insisted he wanted to help and loomed in at me. I smiled at him briskly and told him I was meeting 'my boyfriend' who was waiting for me just up ahead, the man suddenly seemed disinterested and hurried off. This was the first time in traveling that I encountered anything like this, and never felt worried to walk the streets of Paris and Amsterdam alone, looking for places to eat out, and searching for bars. I'll go back to these two cities for sure. I wouldn't mind living in Amsterdam for a while. It felt like home. I could see myself working in one of the tiny cake shops there, ridding my bike to and from work, and going to yoga classes. The idea appeals a lot.

Back to Brussels though! Despite not liking the city, I was staying in a great apartment. It was on the top floor of an old building and you had to climb a huge stair way to get there. The stairway looked old and derelict. Their was paint falling off the walls and it was often dark. Every time I walked in there I felt like it would be the perfect set for a murder mystery. I tried to shake this out of my mind, but the idea stayed. Once you reached the top floor, there was a door behind a curtain (which yes again felt kinda weird and creepy) but inside was this amazing apartment. The guy that owns the place makes sets for movies, so I guess he had used the same creative flare in his living space. The bathroom had plants growing everywhere, and felt like a garden. It was beautiful and lush and relaxing.

Most of the time that I was there I was pretty sick with a cold so one of the afternoons I spent curled up in bed, with the owners pet cat, who kept me company. So I'm not going to lie, I got pretty homesick in Brussels after my birthday. I longed for the sunshine, and my family and friends. I got sick of eating alone in restaurants about a week ago, and have mostly been eating dinner in. I even ordered room service at a hotel once just to avoid having to sit alone. Mostly I don't mind. Its not the actual being alone that bothers me, more the having to deal with people in restaurants who are confused about why you are alone, and seem to forget you sitting there, or give you slower service.

One night I got so confused in Brussels looking for a bar friends back home had told me about. I stopped to ask for directions four times, and everyone seemed to point me in a different direction. I was about to give up, and go back to bed without dinner (I was so disheartened that I couldn't be bothered looking for a place to eat) when I stumbled upon the bar I was looking for. I walked inside and the bar tender laughed at me for looking so sad "Don't give me that! I said to him! I've been lost in the cold for hours," I told him. He smiled, and got me a drink and chatted to me, trying to guess where I was from. The thing I've found while traveling, is people often don't think I'm Australian. The first guess is Swedish usually, but never Australian.

While I was sitting at the bar, I was joined by a lovely stranger, who started up a conversation with me. We sat there drinking our Belgium beers and talking, until he asked me for dinner. This of course turned into wines as well, and then nightcaps of whisky.

This is the thing I love about traveling. Is you never know who you will meet. Even when you are lost, and a little homesick, and tired of being away from the people you love, something nice will happen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The things I have learnt by 25

The things I have learnt in my 25 years of being alive:

  •  Spending time alone is one of the best things you can do for yourself. 
  • It is of the upmost importance to have a group of wonderful people who you love and love you in your life, so that you can ring them up at 2am broken hearted, or invite them over to drink wine for breakfast (its a thing, don't judge.) 
  • Always eat breakfast. 
  • Most things taste better than skinny feels. Dieting only leads to unhappiness. 
  • Doing yoga makes me feel like I'm extra alive. 
  • Your exboyfriends are your exboyfriends for a reason, and no matter how much you love them, you probably will not run off into the sunset together, even if sometimes that sounds like the most wonderful thing in the world to do.
  • Set your own levels of what self respect means. If people don't agree with them, its none of their business, its your life, your body, your responsibility.
  • Throw a lot of dinner parties. This will be one of the greatest keys to happiness.
  • Always be ready to admit you are wrong.
  • Boys that don't message you the next day after a date, or even that night, to tell you they had a totally rad time, are not at all worth your time. Life is too short for games.
  • Speak your mind, all the time.
  • Be romantic, even if it is just for yourself. Go out on a limb for love, and if it doesn't work dust yourself off and laugh about it with your friends (we have all turned up at someones work place with a rose on valentines day only to be rejected.....right! right?)
  • Your friends don't have to like the same things as you. They don't need to dress the same as you, live the same as you, or care about the same things. They do need to be encouraging, strong individuals who don't care if your a mess, and will always help thatch a plan when you are a mess.
  • Call your parents....like a lot. 
  • Don't date artists. Its just so much work, and they might make you cry a lot.
  • Don't date chefs. They are all alcoholics, and are probably dating three other girls. 
  • Don't date wine makers. You will never have their full attention. Wine is so romantic and lets be real, no one can compete with a grad cru Burgundy. That is their first love, not you. 
  • Fall head over heals in love as much as you can. It may end badly, but who cares, at least you lived!
  • Remember that life is short. Ponder this. Act on this. 
  • Doing things leads to thing happening. So do things. Even if they seem insignificant. 
  • Everyone always says 'follow your gut' but sometimes you just wont know what to do in a situation and will have no gut feeling, and thats ok too. Choices are just choices and its ok just to make decisions randomly at times when you don't know what to do.
  • Its also ok to do things that aren't the 'right decision'. The number of times I have said "This is a really bad idea, and Im super excited for it" is ridicules. Sometimes messing up, or not doing the conventional thing can be fun. Life doesn't need to be plotted out in a logical sequence of events. 
  • When grown conservative grown ups ask you if you are going to get married soon, put on your sternest face and tell them you have three boyfriends and can't pick one. It will throw them off topic and confuse them. 
  • Don't feel obliged to fit in. 
  • When you make bread make sure the water isn't too hot or too cold. 
  • Do the things that sound wonderful to you, like becoming a pastry chef/winemaker/writer. 

Romance and Amsterdam

When I was eighteen I went to a psychic. She told me that 24 would be a very romantic year, maybe even the most romantic year of my life. At eighteen I took this to mean that maybe I would get married when I was twenty four, or meet the person who I would be with for the rest of my life. Tomorrow is my twenty fifth birthday, and today I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the year I just had. Obviously I am nowhere near ready to getting married, and my na├»vety as a young girl makes me smile. I think I thought I'd be 'grown up' by now. I am however alone, in Amsterdam, and very aware that I am not yet a grown up.  This does not mean it wasn't a romantic year. 

All day I have been going through all the lovely things that happened in the last twelve months and pondering if they are what made my year romantic. There was that wonderful boy I dated who took me to some of Melbourne's most lovely restaurants and bars, and one morning when I was asleep he went to fetch me coffee. He had no idea how I took my coffee though, so instead of waking me to ask he bought a selection of different coffees and a juice just incase I didn't like coffee. There was the boy who made me a picnic in his garden with such lovely food, and we sat talking for hours until it got too cold and we went inside to build a fire. There was also the boy who would bring me a different wine every time he came to visit, and would always explain in detail how the wine was made and who made it. There was also someone who would take me on picnics and bring old records to my house so we could sit late into the night listening to music and drinking wine. Then there was the boy I met in Paris, and how we kissed under the Eiffel tower, and of course the boy who invited me to stay for a week in a wooden cabin he built with his own hands. This year had a lot of romance. 

The most romantic part though was not at all with any of these lovely gentlemen who spoilt me, but was the things I did, alone. Obviously going to Paris was ridiculously romantic. Also walking the canals of Amsterdam was beautiful. The thing though, that I found the most romantic was working as a head chef in a Cafe. The time I spent doing this was the hardest and most rewarding time of my life, where I felt simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated all the time. In this kitchen alone, before the sun came up doing prep for the day, I feel like I found myself. Doing something creative that I love, and putting every ounce of myself into it felt to me like one of the greatest romances. 

So the lady was right, in some regard. This year has been romantic, but I plan on continuing the romance throughout the rest of my life. I plan on continuing to grow. To learn more, and to continue to settle into my skin. Thats what I believe your early twenties are about. Learning how to be alive. Learning how to survive. Learning how to like yourself. I think I mostly have that all down, and I'm pretty excited for the rest. Im excited for a romantic life. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Amsterdam

"So what are you doing in Amsterdam?" I asked the cute boy in my hostel, who had just moved into the bunk above me. He smirked at me and said knowingly "I think Im here in Amsterdam, doing what everyone here in Amsterdam is doing." I smiled in the best friendly smile I could muster while freezing cold and day two into what seemed like a pretty bad flu. I held my tongue, and mumbled "yeah great," or something of the sort. Really what I wanted to say was "Oh wow! You're hear for the same reasons as me? You came to Europe for a month to write a book on relationships, feminism, and the way we know longer have strong cultural practices that shape the way we form relationships with each other in a western society? You also wanted to go to vineyards to drink wine because you believe becoming a wine maker is one of the most inspiring lifestyles you can think of? And you took a quick trip to Amsterdam because you heard it was beautiful, fell in love with the canals, the great food scene, and visited art galleries because you were raised by an artist, and wanted to see some of the pictures she raised you to believe are important to your education, and when you saw them, you knew she was right, and then you felt so thankful to your mother for installing these believes in you."

I was pretty sure that my reasons for being in Amsterdam where not his version of "what we are all doing in Amsterdam." It quickly became apartment to me in my sick haze of bad sleeps and runny nose that it was time to take some advice from good old Bob Marley when he sang "If you don't like my fire then don't come around, because I'm going to burn one down." The fact that I even knew this song hints at a more open minded past, but right then, in that moment, in that backpackers I had an epiphany. If I decided I no longer wanted to spend a minute more in this busy dorm room, with its tiny beds, that have plastic mattress protecters, being woken up by drunk girls who want to talk to me at 3am, I did not have to. I realised that I never had to have another conversation with some arrogant white dude, who has made the effort to travel all the way to an extremely beautiful country just so he can smoke a heap of weed. So I packed up my bag, booked myself into a hotel room that I found last minute and jumped into a cab.

In a few days I turn twenty five. This is an age where you no longer get to say that you are in your early twenties, which is code for "I have no idea what Im doing, but I don't have to because Im not a real adult right yet." When I walked out of that hostel room tonight I realised that that wasn't something I would have done in my early twenties. In my early twenties I probably would have drunk two pints of beer, suffered through boring conversations with the stoned guy and spent a night not being able to sleep because I was too sick to be able to breath properly. Mid twenties me wasn't having a bar of this. Sitting in my hotel room, overlooking the boats on the canal, I had a feeling that I was going to like my mid twenties.




The other thing I realised that I have loved (despite my small complaints) is Amsterdam. This city is amazing, and to be honest Im a little sad I didn't spend more time here instead of in Paris. This is a city I could see myself living in, with its beautiful cake shops, creative life style, yoga classes, health foods, bike riders everywhere and wonderful scenery. The whole time I was in Paris I was waiting for the moment where it would hit me and I would think "Oh my goodness, I have to move to Paris!" but it never came. In Amsterdam I felt at home though. When I walked the streets I never really felt lost, but more found than anything. I walked into a little cafe off a side street today for lunch only to realise that the couple who served me had not only cooked all the food themselves, they had also grown most of it. This kind of thing is normal here, and the standard of living seems so high.

The city is really strange in that when I came here I thought it would be just sex and drugs. These are the things Amsterdam is known for, and yes they are here. They are also right in your face (I accidentally found myself in the red light district one nigh.) At the same time though everywhere feels so safe. I think the fact that the cities 'darker side' is so out in the open actually helps the city. Its like they have made peace with the reality of what people will do, let them do it, and then get on to focus on other things like art, and music, and amazing cake shops!

I think I'll be back to Amsterdam, and I'm glad I visited this place in my mid twenties.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hanging out in Dijon

Tonight I wrote a list of some of the most happy points in my life. I put down on paper all the moments where I just felt very alive. They ranged between laying on the beach in the middle of the night looking up at the stars, sitting in a little cabin that was made by my first love as fairy lights flashed and lit up the whole room, sitting on a crate out the front of a tiny house I lived in in Melbourne while I smoked cigarettes and wrote into a notebook, spending a weekend in a bed and breakfast up in the mountains, playing house with the first boy I even lived with in an old wooden house in melbourne, we constantly ran out of food, had to store our food on the window sill in winter because we had no fridge, and dried all our clothes on the vents in the floor. All these moments happened at very imperfect times in my life. I was poor, or working too many jobs to pay my way through pastry school, or life was simply complicated. These moments however were perfect to me. They were all the moments that I know I will look back on when I am old and be glad that I lived life exactly the way I did. I think I will be grateful of all the people I loved and the adventures I went on.



Tonight sitting in a little cottage by a fire I have had a similar moment. It is freezing cold outside and I am in the middle of no where in a tiny town out of Paris, and it is perfect. I spent my day wondering the streets, looking in art galleries, eating pastries, and shopping. The town is so beautiful here it feels like a set from a movie. All the streets are cobble stone, and old men walk about with baguettes under their arms. I want to stop them in the street and ask "Are you for real? Are you really wearing that outfit in this town, walking around with a breadstick? Or is someone paying you to do this just to make the town more quaint?"

I stumbled upon a beautiful little park today with a fountain and huge pond in it today. It looked so magical, like a mermaid would pop out of it at any moment. Its hard to believe places like this exist. I saw an exhibition in a castle today.......A CASTLE.

Apart from all this beauty though, mainly I've just been wondering around feeling pretty happy. Maybe its all the good wine I'm drinking, but I think there is more to it than that. I think I'm just so glad that my life has been so full of beautiful moments, and even more so, that I've created all these beautiful for myself to live in. I've been looking back over all the choices I have made over my life. I think its hard in your early twenties to have any clue what your doing at times, and feel so completely lost.  The older I get though the more I realise that none of the things I chose were missteps, but just roads leading to all these happy times I have had.