Thursday, 28 February 2008
And I am so happy.
Tonight was a rubix cube party, the first I've ever been to, and fantastic fun. University is turning out to be one crazy ride, and I'm loving it pretty much all the way.
So much has happened since I moved in on Sunday, and a complete lowdown is soon to come, as my schedule between now and the weekend is planned to a t.
I had my doubts about the tradition called O Week when it began, but you get into it, meet people, make friends, skin your knees and have a great time.
Just a girl
Thursday, 21 February 2008
Indeed, this is the first post in a series of many (expect many photos to come) detailing my two week trip to visit my grandparents on the fair island of Hawaii, where they just so happen to live.
I finished school on Thursday 15th, and flew out of Melbourne at 2pm (thankfully) on Saturday 17th. My parents drove me to the airport, helped me check in and ate lunch with me in the airport lounge, before walking me to my gate and awaiting the boarding call. Being the slightly over-anxious parents that they are, waving farewell to their daughter on her first big overseas adventure – all alone! – they were constantly double checking that I knew which passports to use (I have dual citizenship for Australia and the US, which is so convenient), which customs forms to fill out, which terminals to check in to, etc, etc. Fortunately I was able to check my bags through to Honolulu from Melbourne; one less thing to worry about. They stressed that I was to look after my passport and to call them at 8 am, shortly after I would land in Honolulu (though, of course, it would be Saturday morning there) and arrive at my grandparents’ house, so that they would receive the call Sunday morning at 11 am.
It wasn’t until I hugged my parents goodbye (I suspect my mother was crying) and continued to wave until out of sight as I made the long walk onto the plane that I choked up a bit myself and the enormity set in that this was it. I was really travelling to Hawaii by myself.
H o l y s h i t.
I was flying Jetstar, and the flight to Sydney was short and uneventful. I had an isle seat, but the window seat next to me was vacant (which was a whole lot more spacious.)
At Sydney airport things became a lot more hectic. My flight got in on time around 3.30pm and my flight to Honolulu was at 6pm. I switched terminals easily enough – that bus and I are old friends – and then had to check in, which was awfully time consuming – I waited nearly an hour in line, desperately busting to use the toilet but not willing to sacrifice my place in a line that stretched all the way around the airport, or might as well have.
Whilst in line, a suitcase behind me appeared to be abandoned, right next to some American students, who were talking about. One girl was saying if no one claimed it, she’d take it, while her friends were warning her that it could be bomb (she dismissed this). In any case, no one was willing to stand too close to it. Pretty soon security was sniffing about,
I got confused as to which passport I should present, and ended up showing both of them (I’d worked out that I needed to use the one that corresponded to the country to which I was travelling, which worked for the customs forms, but I forgot this in my eagerness to leave the country) which made for a minor stuff up when presenting my boarding pass, but fortunately didn’t prevent me from boarding the plane.
The flight itself is 9 hours, and I’ve done it often enough, but it never gets any shorter. Although it was a night flight, I found it hard to sleep (I’m not great at sleeping on planes, though I’ve gotten better at it); again, in an isle seat, with another young guy next to me. It was funny, because he seemed to sleep quite a lot, but he told me that he thought I slept the whole time! Poor guy; my ticket was a package deal, so that I got meals, a blanket and a video screen (all extras on a Jetstar flight), and he wanted the latter two but they ran out. As it was, I watched Surf’s Up, which was funny but predictable, ate something chicken that was actually edible, tried to estimate the value of the gifts I was carrying for customs and waited impatiently for touch down around 7 am, Honolulu time.
Because of my American passport, I was able to zoom through Customs like Roadrunner (beep beep!) to find that my suitcase had already been pulled off the carousel (thank you, airport personnel!). As I had expected to be waiting at the curb at the front of the airport for my grandparents – I was early – I walked straight out of the airport and didn’t see my grandmother until she approached me, with a huge smile on her face, her arms spread wide to hug me. I could only feel immensely relieved to have arrived.
The timing of my stay could not have been better. My uncle had recently moved out, and so I stayed in his room on the second floor of my grandparents’ house, instead of in the pool nice. The pool house is very nice – it’s where my family and I usually stay when we visit; it’s two bedroom, with a kitchen area and bathroom – but my uncle’s room is so much more convenient, being in the house and just an intercom call away.
Now that I’d made all the necessary time zone adjustments, I realised my – and my father’s – error in our arranging the time for a phone call; we’d confused the 21 hour time difference as being forward, not back, so that at 8am in Hawaii, Saturday morning, it was only 5am in Australia, Sunday morning. I figured I’d wait until around lunchtime to give my family time to wake up. As it was, my father also figured it out and rang around 11am (Hawaiian time) to confirm that I’d arrived safely, on time, with my luggage, passport, etc.
And so the first day was spent catching up, unpacking and being able to truly relax; there were no more exams to be had, no more flight connections to worry about missing, baggage and passport to be stressed about losing, only two weeks of bliss stretching ahead of me.
That night my grandparents were taking my 18 year old cousin out to dinner for her birthday (though a couple of weeks late) to the Pacific Club, which was a really nice way to spend my first night. Of course, the first problem that arose was “What’s ounces in grams?” I wanted to order a steak and – knowing 300-350grams is about my limit – needed a conversion to ascertain the appropriateness of ordering a 14 oz. steak. Nobody knew exactly, except that it was 16 oz. to a pound and about two pounds to a kilo. (My family later suggested I could relate this to a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder. Except that I don’t eat hamburgers.) I took a punt, ordered the steak and enjoyed it thoroughly.
My cousin stayed over that night, which was great fun and just like a sleepover (as she shared my room.)
The next morning saw brunch at the Kahala Hilton restaurant, Plumeria, a beautiful hotel which is right on the beach and serves a fantastic brunch. The hotel also has a dolphin pool, in which guests who pay can swim alongside dolphins, and passers-by can also enjoy a dolphin show, as I have several times. It was here that I was introduced to a delicious breakfast treat called a malasada, which is like a jam donut, but filled with chocolate cream (or something more savory), and yummy.
And in typical Hawaiian style, it rained before our meal came (dampening the bridal party enjoying the beach front) but was sunny – and mostly clear – by the time we were served.
And now, let me show you my grandparents' house:
This is the view from my room of the pool at the front of the house, behind which is a small spa. Even though it was winter, I swam in it most of the first week, because the weather was so humid and mild.
This is a view of the room over the garage from the balcony off my room.
When it rains in Hawaii - as it often does in the mountains, where my grandparents live - it is a beautiful thing. Obligingly enough, there were showers on Sunday morning at the house that I enjoyed during breakfast.
Again, taken looking up through the lanai roof.
This shows the large tree in the backyard, the stream at the bottom of the garden and the mountains behind it. At top is the edging of the lanai roof.
Coming soon: a shopping trip, an iPhone, and a walk up Diamond Head.
Just a girl
I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to read your article in Monday’s The Age about your pledge to stay sober in the face of drunken party scenes. I may be the only other person in Australia (or so it would seem) who is not only in the same situation, but understands your decision.
I’m not a party girl, I’m a nerd, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to let my hair down every once in a while. I enjoy going out with my friends or to a party, but I’ll chose lemonade over a lager any day. It’s not (as many might believe) because I’m 17, and therefore underage. It’s because I’d rather have fun and be in control – of myself. I want to be able to have a good time without compromising my ability to think and act responsibly; I want to be able to go to bed at the end of the night, not lie passed out somewhere or in a puddle of my own vomit; but most of all, I want to be able to remember the fun I’ve had with my friends, and not just be told about it the next morning.
I agree most with your statement that “I can cool without a stubbie in both hands.” Some may ask, what’s the point in going to a party if you’re not going to drink? How do you have fun? My answer is this: I do what everyone else does – talk, dance, meet new people, flirt, catch someone’s eye and make out with them if I chose to – all of which can be immensely enjoyable without being drunk.
A drink probably would loosen me up – I’m a shy girl, particularly around people I don’t know – but I’ve tasted beer and champagne, and there’s no attraction to the taste. I also have no desire to drink myself silly in order to have a good time or relax. There are consequences to drinking in excess, a syndrome I call “regret and forget,” whereby a drunken person becomes involved in circumstances their better judgment wouldn’t allow in sober hours, and/or cannot recall the night’s events.
There are also two worrying issues that tend to go wrong with drink; sex and driving. I don’t want to put myself in a situation where I can be taken advantage of, or where caution or refusal on my part becomes recklessness. Driving under the influence has much more devastating consequences, and not just for oneself.
I’ve promised a good friend that she can get me smashed for the first time – just not on a regular basis.
So in the meantime, I’ll abstain, look after my friends, drive them home and be able to remember it all in the morning with a smile on my face. Here’s a non-alcoholic toast to being sober!
Just a girl
Monday, 18 February 2008
My earliest memory is…learning how to swim
At school I…studied hard
My first relationship was…long-distance, if that even counts
My father always told me…the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree. Moral: be honest.
I wish I had…stayed awake until midnight when in Paris, 2004, to see the New Year’s celebrations, even if they were subdued because of the tsunami
I wish I hadn’t…done what I did to get into trouble in year nine
My happiest moment was…the two weeks I spent in Hawaii with my grandparents before Christmas
At home I cook…very little except dessert
My last meal would be…macadamia nut and coconut crusted lamb chops with garlic roasted mash potatoes, followed by a chocolate dessert, at Alan Wong’s
My favourite gadget is…my camera or my iPod – but it will be soon my new iPhone, which combines the best of both!
I’m very bad at…being patient
When I was a child I wanted to…compete in the Olympics
The book that changed my life is…To Kill a Mockingbird – it crystallised my views on racism
It’s not fashionable, but I love…Target
Friends say I am…a nerd
The song I’d like played at my funeral is…Collide, by Howie Day
My greatest fear is…not succeeding
The hardest thing I’ve ever done was…complete the final 5km leg of 160km relay-style run I did as part of a team in 2006 for charity, of which I’d already run 20km.
The last big belly laugh I had was…before Christmas, when playing doubles with my family and my father accidentally hit the ball into the back of my brother’s head – I had to sit down, I was crying so hard
What I don’t find amusing is…intolerance in all its forms, particularly regarding race, sex and sexuality
I’m always been asked…how I’m so skinny/nerdy
Cat or dog…cat – more independent, less effusive
My favourite work of art is…Monet’s Waterlilies
I often wonder…what expectations, downfalls, achievements, trials, wonders, joys and tragedies life holds for me
Just a girl
Thursday, 14 February 2008
So did anyone give or receive any dramatic gestures of luuuurve? Confess their secret feelings? Propose on bended knee?
I have done - nor been subject to - nothing of the sort. Though I will admit that I have a crush, on a boy I met at a party who I have nicknamed Joel. Unfortunately, he's going to a university in a different state to me (absence makes the heart grow fonder!) but my very good friend Gemini will be going to the same uni, and so will (subtly) keep tabs on him for me. ;-)
I should introduce Gemini properly, as I have mentioned her previously. We met in year 9, and we've been close friends ever since. She's big on procrastination (the Queen, you could say), and updates her blog occasionally, but when she does, it's bound to be amusing (even if her most recent post makes you wince with pain.) She's a poet - and a published one! - and one of the kindest people I know. She's also a great masseuse. Her love of chocolate is perhaps only equal to mine, but her love of marshmellows is far greater. She's also a terrific actress. She's going to be a famous name in advertising & TV one day. You'll see.
Valentine's Day was a somewhat bigger deal at my previous high school, where there was the tradition of sending roses on The Big Day to friends or crushes or lovers (or whoever) for $2. I never sent any, though I received several from kind friends. It could be very competitive, with girls (generally) sussing out how many roses other people had received (as compared to their own, of course.) If I recall correctly, one girl (K) received 13 in year 10 (am I right, Gemini?)! In any case, it was a large number. She was quite pretty.
I hope you all have a lovely day.
Just a girl
Corruption: it’s a thin line between the law and crime, and often blurred. The true story of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) – a black drug lord who crossed the warpath of an “honest” cop (Russel Crow) in a crooked force - played out in American Gangster proves just this. The struggle between the man who controls the New York drug black market out and the cop hell bent on bringing him down moves seamlessly from the production line of heroin in the jungles of Vietnam to it’s injection in the streets of New York. Ridley Scott’s film is raw, violent and evocative in its portrayal of desperate junkies and a corrupt police force, both of which must eventually be overthrown in a climatic battle in which good prevails over evil, but not without both sides uniting.
Just a girl
Saturday, 9 February 2008
You’d be wrong.
My mother can remember a time when I was tiny – and I don’t think my brother existed – and a snake got into the house, into our sun room. She was on the phone, looked down and saw it. She ran to get my father and a shovel and until our floor was retiled just last year, you could see the shovel marks in the floor where they killed the snake.
I remember when I was a bit older – perhaps 6 or 7 – and my mother found a snake at the back gate. She told my brother and I to watch the snake from her sewing room window, which faces the gate. I’d been watching something on TV, and as soon as my parents went outside, persuaded my brother to come and watch it too. The snake slithered away, and my parents were furious with us – me – for not watching it.
When my brother was a young t(w)een, he and my father were walking along the irrigation channels when they saw a snake. My brother crossed over to the other side, while my father went back to the truck to get his trusty shovel. Then the snake began to swim over to my brother (who was, by this time, my father says, shaking). So my brother crossed sides – again – while my father took care of business.
On Thursday I was walking a bag of rubbish down to the tip (a short walk from our house) with my iPod in, convinced I wouldn’t see a snake because although it was a sunny day, it was cool and windy. I had my camera with me to take some photos of the creek, as the tip is on a rather pretty bend. Several metres from our shed (east of the end of our house, towards the tip), I stopped to take a photo of a feather in the grass, turned around and resumed walking. I looked down and saw – only a few feet away – a snake.
It was a brown snake, and long enough (a metre?), looking at me with its beady eyes, its head held up off the ground. I froze momentarily – my heart may have stopped – in absolute shock, before I began to walk backwards, slowly. My mind was blank, and I had no plan if it came towards me. Luckily enough, it didn’t. After a few seconds, it turned around and slithered out of sight.
Needless to say, I didn’t walk up to the tip, but dumped the rubbish in the shed (to do the next day) and retreated inside, legs weak. I suppose what freaks me out a bit is that I was squatting in the grass with my back turned to the snake for a while, taking photos, and I don’t like to imagine what would have happened if it had come much closer while I wasn’t looking.
It might sound like a relatively minor incident, but it was a fairly big scare. Snake stories are something you don’t forget.
Last Sunday saw another university phone interview, with a Yale alumnus ringing me for a “chat.” He was really nice; very laid back about it, cracking jokes, asking me about where I lived. Here’s an excerpt* from our conversation that probably didn’t follow any kind of script he’d been set:
Him: Do you plan to go back to the country after university?
Me: I’d like to work in the city, there are so many job opportunities, and then come back to the country, because I know I could get a job with the local newspaper or write from home.
Him: I was just thinking that in a town of only 1000 people** there’s not much chance of meeting the love of your life.
Him: I was just wondering if you were going to return to the farm and write about the country.
Me: Well, after I meet the love of my life.
Not your typical chit-chat in an interview, I can imagine. He was very entertaining though, made me very much at ease. Asked me mostly typical questions about my academic interests, other interests, ambitions, why Yale, why should Yale choose me, etc, etc; none of those tricky Columbian questions. And for anyone who has read Gossip Girl, it certainly wasn’t as terrible as Blair’s Yale interview. Overall I think it was pretty good, although one thorny point was that he called me “reasonably articulate.” I’m pretty sure he was trying to be flattering, but all I heard was a backhanded compliment. Nonetheless, he wished me luck at the end of the interview and told me that if I didn’t get in, I shouldn’t take it personally, because there are 20,000 other people just as good as me applying for 2,000 places.
I think of all of the three US universities that I applied to, Yale is the one I want to go the most badly. I don’t know if I will (go), even if I’m accepted; the parents remain an obstacle (and so does the cost.) I applied to Rochester because of the choice of degrees and flexibility of class and timetable structure; I applied to Columbia because of their renowned writing and journalism faculty. But Yale is a dream I’ve had for a long time. My father went there; my grandfather before him, and my grandmother’s father. So there’s a connection, but I don’t just want to go there because of a legacy; I want to go because I believe it is one of the best universities in the States, and I want that experience, and the opportunity to learn at such an elite level.
Finally bought the Juno soundtrack when I was in Melbourne dropping off my brother at school.**** Felt so weird that he’s now in year 11 and all the other
Just a girl*****
*or a general recollection
**Yeah, tiny, right?
***Deep, I know.
****Have been listening to it ever since and love it – it’s a fantastic album as a whole, a collection of alternative songs and classics, such as Buddy Holly and The Kinks
*****I’ve taken a
Friday, 1 February 2008
8 Verbs for ’08:
Listen to: Radiohead
See: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
My Fair Lady
Singing in the Rain
Some Like it Hot
Eat: more fruit
Get: a job
Be: more patient
8 Favourite Film Soundtracks
Walk the Line
The Lion King
10 Things I Hate About You
8 Favourite Travel Memories
Climbing Ayers Rock, 2007
Safari, Botswana, 2006
Tongabezi, Zambia, 2006
Disney World, Florida, 2002
Catching an on and off tour bus in Rome, 2004
Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, 2001
Lake Como, 2004 (trolley ride and lake cruise)
8 countries I want to visit
Egypt – I have wanted to go there for almost as long as I can remember. I have always been fascinated by myths and history, and Ancient Egypt and their religion is steeped in it
Canada – has long been of interest to me, though I’m not sure I can pinpoint exactly why. It is a beautiful place; I would love to see Autumn there, the Rocky Mountains, to ski at Whistler; perhaps Anne of Green Gables is to blame
Spain – the beaches, the food, a chance to use the language – a fantastic, sunny European destination
Brazil – the Amazon, Rió de Jenero, the Incas...I’ve never been to South America, but would love to, and Brazil seems a good place to start.
Japan – I have never really travelled through Asia – spent two days in Bangkok exploring temples on a stopover from Rome – and Japan
Norway – when I was much younger, a Norwegian man came to stay with us (a friend, I think), and his descriptions (and the book he left of his home country) – great sweeping fjords, Viking mythology, snow capped mountains, country cottages covered by wildflowers – intrigued me. Plus he gave us some chocolate, which was fantastic.
Greece – I’ve been reading a book about Greece (about a woman who moves there) and although she’s having a fairly hellish time, it has captivated me rather than deterred me. Again, the history, the monuments – the centre of civilisation, indeed! – and the images of sun soaked beaches (perhaps a visit to Ibiza?) entice me.
Peru – the Andes, Machu Piccu, Incan history, and a river called Madre de Dios (mother of God) are all attractions.
8 Countries I’ve Visited
8 Hottest Male Celebrity Actors (according to me)
Jake Gyllanhaal (yeah, I know, I've got a J thing going on here...)
8 Favourite Girls’ Names
8 Favourite Boys’ Names
Just a girl