Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Three-Day Grape Escape - aka - the Blacktress Goes Sideways

I'm writing on location from the Hunter Valley, the nearest wine country outside of Sydney. The HV (not to be confused with the HPV) is magical, and every vineyard has a "cellar door," where they conduct free tastings. I got up at about 8:30 this morning and arrived at the HV at 11:30, and had about 10 minutes to use the loo and apply lipgloss (you know it's got to be poppin'!) before heading off on the afternoon wine tour.

The itinerary: 2 wineries, break for lunch, 2 more wineries, and then a cheese tasting.

My buzz is just wearing off.

I came solo, but connected through the IEP program's many hook-ups. I'm loving the fact that they let me come to their offices, dominate their internet, ask them endless questions, and haven't kicked me out yet. I also appreciate their willingness to get drunk with me without judgments (more on their "Canada party" later).

There were 4 other people on the tour, 2 pairs of pals who were all.... FRENCH CANADIAN!!! As they spoke their native French-Canadian tongue, my pulse began to quicken, for me all know how I feel about Canadians. I wasn't sure how to interact, and was already feeling awkward and lonesome.

Luckily, this changed after the first winery.

We headed to Drayton's, where the shopgirl was working her first day, and seemed to be quite generous. We tried, like, 7 wines and 2 ports, and were already giggly and tripping after 30 minutes, and our love of liquor acted as a cross-cultural bond that could not be broken. I was on the hunt for some Pinot Noir for BCB as a thank-you gift, so I tried to stay focused--which was nearly impossible considering I hadn't eaten breakfast and we were on to the ports before 12:15pm.

Our tour guide was Mike, a fair dinkum Aussie bloke who wore a loud Hawaiian shirt partially buttoned, allowing his tufts to gray chest hair to have some air. He and I chatted alot, seeing as I wasn't French Canadian and didn't have anyone else to talk to. He pointed out fun facts and cool locations, adding a hint of color and class to the tour.
"Oi, guys," he said as the FCs chatted, "over there is the Broken Back Range--that's where the gay cowboys hang out."
Oh, Mike, you're hilarious!!

At the second vineyard, we tried about 5 wines, but this lady was a pro, so we couldn't coax more tastings out of her. However, I did get a sample of the Aleatico, a wine so old that it's known to be Napoleon's favorite.
I think this makes me a dictator.

Over lunch, Mike and I chatted about the election, and about how I'm "not a normal American" because I'm traveling for so long by myself. "Most Americans come for a few months, over vacation, then head back. You're breaking the ice, Sojourner!" I'm all about the old weathery Aussie blokes, cause they are really friendly and random. Take, for instance, our trip to the third winery, the Bimbadgen Estate...

As we drove up, Mike told us about the concerts and events they often hold on the grounds, such as the upcoming concert with "Alicia Keys and that girl from American Idol--you know, 'No air, No air.'" Mike then proceeds to sing snippets from Jordin Sparks' "No air" for the rest of the afternoon in this really high-pitched voice, and for some reason, it never ceases to make me laugh.

Graham, the host of Bimbadgen, is another bloke, and as he gives us tastes he chats us up and ends up taking quite a shine to the blacktress. I tell him I'm staying for a year and he says, "I think you'll be all right here," after I make him chuckle with some one-liners. I reveal that I'm a blacktress, which he dubs a "very clever" term, and tells me their opening up a new theater in Cessnock--a town of about 5,000 just next to the wineries. He suggest I be their opening act.
As we head out (I unfortunately buy no bottles because I already picked up bottles at Draytons), Graham shakes my hand and says, "Blacktress, it was a pleasure meeting you. When you take over Australia, remember you started here first."

I think Graham is going to be president of my fan club.

I now write from the YHA common room, where I fight the urge to open a bottle of port--after all, I have been drinking for 4 hours already and it's just now 6:30.

Um, who am I kidding? I have an addiction.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Think I'm Turning Sudanese, I Think I'm Turning Sudanese...

I really think so.

So, yesterday, I was standing at a traffic light and rearranging my heavy weekend bag when this guy walking towards the corner and smiles at me as though we're old work pals. He then says, "nice hair!" in the same manner that a teammate might congratulate someone for a really good throw or something.
I smile weakly, as I've learned to do as a solo traveller, and he keeps going. "Yes, nice hair indeed.... Are you by any chance from Sudan?" I said no and smiled weakly again, and was grateful for the WALK sign.

This was not only odd because of his randomness and over-friendliness (I mean, even for Australia, it was too much), but because this was the second time someone had asked me if I was from Sudan. A couple days earlier, I was waiting for the train and I can feel this guy staring at me. Of course, I make sure to make no eye contact, but as the train comes I look in his direction, which provided him with the in he needed.
"Are you from Sudan?" he asks.
"No," I say as I board the train.

I think "are you from Sudan?" is code for "Are you a lady of the night?" cause it's just the most random of questions, and there are mad ladies of the night up in the city center.

Aside from perhaps being considered a prostie, things are ok. I spent the weekend in Kiama, a small beachside town 2 hours south of Sydney, where I hung out with my "Aussie mum." I met "Aussie mum" back in August in NYC, at the 50th birthday party of my favorite Australian. Aussie mum had a cig in one hand and a glass of red in the other and as we all danced to Michael Jackson, she said, "Oh, when you come to Australia, call me--I'll be your Aussie mum!" I knew right then that she was the one for me.

Her house is on an acre of rainforest in this tiny town complete with a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker (seriously--candles). Her son is an actor, and he and his gf happened to be around this weekend too, so I got to meet them both. Her husband was also around briefly (and he is a silver fox, I must say), and we discussed the election and how lame McCain is. They're very down for Barack here.

It was a very Australian weekend, complete with my first meat pie (surprisingly good), lounging on the beach, dinnertime barbie (bbq--not the doll), and midday cocktails at a town pub where a bush band played. Most of the time it was just me and Aussie mum, and she cracked me up. As I took advantage of her free internet, and profusely apologized for being online, she assured me she understood, for she too was an internet addict.
"It's just so great," she said. "You can find anything you need to know. I just love finding answers. I'll just be sitting around and I'll wonder 'Who invented hi-lighters?' and just go find out."

God bless her soul.

It was a really nice, relaxing weekend, and it was great to get out of the city and see more than just the tourist spots. Kiama's claim to fame is a giant blowhole--i kid you not--which can send water shooting up 3-4km.
I don't know if that's high or not, since I don't know anything about kilometers.
I also don't get the whole Celsius concept, which means I'm inappropriately dressed every day, unless I can google, "Sydney current temperature in Fahrenheit" the day before.
I'm so lost in translation, just call me ScarJo.

In random news: I got the following text from the Random Older Fellow this morning: "Want to come have steaks with me and my mum?"

This is not the first time he has invited me out to join him and his mother, people. I do NOT understand it one bit. Why would I want to hang out with his 90-year-old mom? And, like, what would he say? "Mum, this is the blacktress who was sleeping in the hostel I work at part-time when I'm not fighting fires or trying to woo younger women."

I joined him and some firemen buddies last Friday at a pub, and he told me that he didn't like Australian women. I mean, I understand ruling out a whole group (you know, like actors, or Greek men), but he lives in Australia. If he doesn't like Australian women, then he's in for a bit of a problem. He says they aren't "challenging," which is ridiculous--since when do grown men who quote lines from Anchorman want to be challenged?

He's pretty fun to talk to, and his fellow firemen friends were strapping as all get out!!! Many of them were in my demographic, and I wished ROF wasn't cock-blocking my flow, cause I could have been in there like swimwear. I was so tempted to say, "You boys should do a calendar," but being out of my element, I wasn't ready to put such things out there. Well, that, and the fact that I have no sexual desire whatsoever.

I kid you not. I do not want sexual eruptions of any kind, with anyone. On the rare occasion I do see someone attractive, the recognition only lasts a second before I just shrug it off and imagine how boring he'd be, or what little we'd have in common. I don't know what has become of me. Hopefully I'll get my mojo back soon so this blog can get really juicy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back to BCB--And More

So, I've received many emails and gchats regarding my new guiding light, BCB. Seeing as every day she teaches me something new (and I'm hoping we will soon watch the film "Something New"), I must elaborate on this woman.

So, last night, the friend I was supposed to meet up with was a Kellog's Frosted flake and never called. Luckily, BCB took me under her wing and invited me along to a local pub to meet some her mates. BCB is a fashion stylist, and needless to say is always looking fierce--even when she throws on, like, a $5 top and some Converse Chucks. She even manages to find EMPLOYED musicians, which is seriously like finding a needle in a haystack for the blacktress.

Anyway, I sit down to dinner and dranks with her 2 lesbian women from Perth (the most remote city on earth--Wiki that shit)--it was like United Colors of Benetton meets the L Word. One is a hilarious Asian lesbian (a hotter, cooler Margaret Cho) and and her homegirl is a mysterious South Asian woman(let's call her Parminder Nagra, just for reference), and we end up talking about going to Arrows-- a sex party for women somewhere in the nearby gayborhood.

These chicks are stone-cold sober, and yet somehow we end up discussing Vs, Ps, and that time Margaret Cho tried to kiss BCB--you know, cause everyone else was making out and she didn't want her to be left out.
I think we all know that scenario all too well.

On the way back to BCB's house, she pointed out a brothel nestled among the quiet homes on the street. I guess it wasn't exactly undercover, seeing as a random beefy dude was sitting outside, and just as we walked by, a man exited, as a tiny Asian woman in a bra said, "Thank you, good night!"
From my vantage point, I could see that the walls were red.
Note to self: if you need a red light special, roll Sydney-side, cause this place is Lefty Lucy, Loosey Goosey, y'all! Just brothels on residential streets, men rolling through like it ain't no thang.

Oh, speaking of Loosey Goosey, I saw THE AUSTRALIAN last Friday.
I know, I know, I'm keeping secrets from you, gentle readers.

I'd been on the fence about seeing the fool, but in a moment of weakness/loneliness, I texted him my Aussie number. I soon after fortified myself, but he kept texting, and I figured it was best to get it over with.
He met up with me Friday, as he walked up, I was pleased to see that he'd gotten a little chubs, for, as you know, nothign helps ease the pain of scorn like seeing the man you wanted to marry looking bloated and knowing he's single.
We drove around the city, seeing the sights under the cloak of night (so, of course, I have no clue where anything he showed me actually is). We talked for a while, and it was mostly silly. I realized he possesses one of my least favorite traits in a human being--over-confidence. He just thinks he's the jam and the jump-off, when really he's a self-righteous hot mess who's not all that bright.

I'm over him, I swear. The bitterness is just residual.

As our drive wound down, we reached a crossroads--literally. We were at an intersection that could take us to my hostel or to his apartment. He goes, "Okay, I'm just gonna put it out there--do you want to go back to my place?"
I thought for a second, which felt like forever. I mean, his bed would probably be comfortable. There'd be no Swedes to wake me up at 7am. I wouldn't be doing anything I hadn't already done.

But I wasn't even trying to go down that road. I did not come all the way to Sydney to get into some old drama! I came to get into some NEW drama! Besides, does this fool really think a couple of litres of petrol (god, how Ozzie am I now?) are gonna get me to drop my panties?! In the words of Whitney: Hell to the NO!

Unfortunately, it seems that the Ozzies aren't really as down with the brown as I'd hoped--unless you count the girl who was standing next to me in SES (a clothing store in the mall). I was waiting to go the fitting room and she was passing by me and stops, RUBS THE BACK OF MY HAND, and says, "Oh, look at your beautiful skin!"

For serious, y'all. This chick touched me. I was 'bout ready to cut her.

Or, what about the Ozzie guy in the pub that I went to with United Colors of Benetton? I was ordering my bev, and he leans over and goes, "Your hair is quite nice," leering like the OVER 50-year-old that he was. I just gave a light smile and tried to will the bartender over to me as fast as possible. I gave him my order and as I waited, the old guy goes, "The rest of you is quite nice, too."

I grabbed my drank and ran back upstairs.
Lefty-Lucy, Loosey Goosey, y'all!!!

Re: Your Ad Seeking a Shared Apartment

Here's an email I got in reply to my ad on (Ozzie Craigslist, basically):

The home is under 3 years of construcion. We have each convenience that you could always wish. We have a friendly community of neighbors. Portions of activities such as passages, bingo, klutch of the coffee, divided groups that roll and for every holiday. The restaurants, supermarket, the post office and the warehouses are within distance that walks. But now I am on a christain mission in west african and thats the main reason for which we are looking forward to give out this apartment for rent for $150 every week to a family who can take good care of our house as his own I will like to solicit for your absoulute maintenance. and also please fill in the rent details and get back if you are really interested in having our apartment so that i can know all about you before giving you the address as soon as you fill the form i will get back to you with the address of the house.

Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can have it in my file incase of issuing the receipt for you and contacting you.Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the document and the keys to you, please am giving you all this base on trust and again i will want you to stick to your words, you know that, we do not see yet and only putting everything into Gods hand, so please do not let me down in this my property and God bless you more as you do this,

Best Regards.
Yours Faithfully

Who is this "Yours Faithfully"? Does he/she/ze have a real name?
And "the warehouses are within distances that walks"? What does that mean?
How about, "Portions of activities such as passages, bingo, klutch of the coffee, divided groups that roll and for every holiday."

Dude, this is why apartment hunting is so tough. Religious missionaries who speak ESL demand your bank details for their "files," and the next thing you know, the blacktress is turning tricks at the base of Uluru to pay for her hostel fee.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I just got back from my Bar Service Skills (BSS) course, which taught me the basics of bartending. We weren't allowed to use real liquor, but we worked the beer taps and practiced our fancy wine-pour technique.

We had to wear black pants, white button-down tops, and black shoes. As I walked to the class, I felt like I was on my way to a high school jazz performance, where we would funk up such classics as "America the Beautiful." I was a dash late, since I'm still getting turned around, but only one other student was there when I arrived.

Let's call him Crazy Eyes. 

He had those wide eyes that make you think you've just handed him an amazing present and he's about to say, "For ME?!" He was very fidgety, which is always suspect, and I avoided eye contact. Two minutes later, I hear a hissing sound, and look over to find Crazy Eyes applying spray-on deodorant to his pits. 

I kid you not.
This is happening in a waiting room.

I knew those eyes were a sign.

Only 5 of us are in today's clas, and we headed down to a bar in Darling Harbour, where we got down to biz-nass. Our teacher was a cool older woman who owns a pub outside of the city. As she went about the lesson, Crazy Eyes interjected whenever possible to tell us unnecessary information. For example,
"At home in New Zealand, you can go to a pub with an empty Cola bottle and just say, 'hey, mate, fill this up with some beer,' and they do it."
Um, really? 
Apparently, he tried it in Oz, and they turned him away.

As I walked behind him, I noticed that his haircut was an even hotter mess from the rear. It was almost like a cascade, with the top level being short and spiked, and the back divided into two tiers. However, this wasn't a mullet--it fell just below his ears. Oh, and I should mention it was dyed orange. I know it was a dye job because he was rocking 1980s, Judith Light in "Who's the Boss?"-style dark brown roots. 

Anyway, while I managed to tune him out and avoid looking in his mouth (don't get me started on the teeth), I learned much about pouring dranks/enabling addictions. The highlight was the role-playing at the end, when we each played a barman and a customer, and had to order 3 drinks. Of course, being the blacktress I am, I love a good RPG. As the shy Norwegian girl prepared to serve me, I put on my best "sleazy older gentleman" vibe.
"Hello, pretty lady, how are you today?"
[She laughed]
"Oh, by that laughter, I can sense a bit of an accent. Where are you from?"
"Ooh, precious. It gets cold there, eh? Do you want to snuggle?"
Then it stopped being funny.

Tonight I begin the couch-surfing lifestyle, and will be staying witha strong black woman from NY who moved to Sydney about 8 years ago. My mother knows her father, and I've basically been email-stalking her for the last 2 months. We met for the first time last week, and she is my shero.
She is the black Carrie Bradshaw--only without the whining and lameness.
She works as a fashion stylist, has a gay entourage to rival that of Bette, Liza, and Cher, and has taken the young Sojourner under her wing with no questions asked. 
God bless her soul.

She's even started reading the blog, which proves she can indeed handle the TRUTH. 
I told her of my dreams to be on Neighbours, and she told me that they're actually looking to diversify--holla at a blacktress' big break! Her son is an aspiring blacktor, but has already renounced Neighbours for more serious work. I think he has the chops to become the next Sydney Poitier.

I hope I won't put too big of a dent on her sofa, but when it comes to interim housing, Australian advice from BCB (as we're calling Black Carrie Bradshaw), is a hell of a lot better than tiptoeing around random Swedish girls, who seem to enjoy nothing more than crinkling plastic bags at 7:30 am. 

Checking out 2 more apts. this weekend. Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Homeless Blacktress?

Hey gang,

I am starting to panic a bit.
On Wednesday, October 22, I will officially lack accommodation.

I've only seen three apts., and it's not looking too good. No one has gotten back to me on any of them, and they weren't even so great to begin with. I think, keeping in the European vein of small portions, the apartments are also made to be petite. In one, I actually felt like the Old Blacktress Who Lived in a Shoe--only, instead of the shoe being large and full of children, it was tiny and would just be me and an Asian girl.

Nigel's cousin hasn't called me, so I'm going to have to just lay my cards out there and get desperate. It's only 10:30am, but believe you me, homegirl will be getting a textual eruption in about an hour's time.

I must be honest: I don't know how much I like Sydney. It's reminding me alot of New York (with a splash of Shanghai, Seoul, and Singapore), but it's not very easy to get around. Public transportation costs alot, and it is perfectly normal to wait 30 minutes for a train. I feel like everywhere is a tourist trap, and last night's quest for a normal pub to just grab some dranks and chill with locals turned out to be impossible. I went to bed at 11:15pm, feeling like I may have been in the West Village, where I could at least get free stuff and talk to people I know.

Okay, sorry for the complaints, but this is where the blacktress is emotionally. I'm trying to work out some travel plans--if I'm going to be homeless, I might as well see some things, right? I mean, I do have a year-- it's not like time is of the essence. A 15-hour bus ride to Melbourne is totally worth my time.

Well, unless it's likely that I'll be fondled by a drifter.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

So It Begins.... 17/10/2008

I told you I'd go into my male suitor, right guys? Well, I practice what I preach (TRUTH, for those of you who were confused), so here it is. For the purposes of this blog, let’s call him Random Older Fellow—ROF for short. He works at the hostel I’m staying at. I met him the night I arrived, after hanging out with J-Date. I was on a high from my first social interaction and the viewing of the Opera House, so I was feeling chatty. I went over to the desk, because I’d left paperwork there, and asked if he’d found it.

He looks around for my missing folder and says “Sorry, mate, I don’t see it.”

“Okay, no worries, just wanted to check.”

I notice as he goes back to his seat that he’s got a glass of red wine on his desk. I tell him I took a cab roughly 10 blocks because I was so jet-lagged and he goes, “Oh, you’re a lazy bugger, aren’t you?” as he takes a sip from his glass.

“You’re insulting and you drink on the job. I like you,” I said.

We started chatting some more, and I asked him about neighborhoods and good places to live and find work. I went to bed shortly thereafter, happy to have a nice conversation with a friendly local.

The next night (Tuesday), I saw him as I came in from dinner, and he tells me he extended my stay at the hostel. “I just made you a reservation because I saw you only had 4 nights, and we’re getting a bit full up,” he says matter-of-factly. I hadn’t even asked about this or even told him I was trying to figure out how to get more nights.

Of course, this is when I knew he wanted to marry me.

He gets me a glass and we chat and drink red wine as he works. As various guests come to check in and ask questions, ROF reveals his knack for languages, speaking to guests in Japanese, French, and—wait for it, wait for it—FLEMISH. Who does that?! I learn that he’s a rolling stone who has traveled for years all over the world, and he works as a full-time fireman when he’s not checking in people at the youth hostel. A man of many trades, of course I find this suspect—and also secretly wonder if he uses his fireman’s uniform for stripping or role-playing games.

He offers to show me around the next day, which is his day off. Not having any other plans and glad to have company, I immediately agree. We end up cracking open another bottle of red after his shift ends and are just shooting the shit, very low-key. However, I start to realize that he may be drawn to Sojourner’s Nubian essence. He asks what made me decide to come to Australia, because “we don’t get too many people like you.”

“You mean, blacktresses?” I say, mockingly. “Or women with vagina dentata?”

He later asks if I’ve considered modeling. I think we all know my weakness for being told I could be a part-time model (even though I’d probably still have to keep my normal job). I just laughed it off, and we ended the night with plans to meet tomorrow.

Wednesday, after my boring orientation, he met up with me. His car wasn’t out of the shop, so he’d been biking around, and I come out of the building to find ROF in short black exercise shorts, a black tank, and a white, yellow, and black track jacket, with black sunnies (sunglasses—they abbreve everything here). I cracked up, because he is the most random ever.

Oh, did I mention that in addition to being a fireman and random hostel worker, he was also a fitness instructor, and worked at a Fat Camp in Massachusetts?

Anyway, we had a good time walking around the city. We checked out the botanic gardens (where cockatoos roam like pigeons, and there are FLYING FOXES hanging from the trees!), and he knew the names of all this random flora and fauna; you could definitely color me impressed. Then again, he could have been making it all up, and I wouldn’t have known the difference. When asked how he acquired such knowledge, ROF said nonchalantly, “I read a book.”

Nice one.

We were discussing meats (don’t ask), and somehow it led to him saying, “you should come over tomorrow and I’ll cook some steaks and we’ll have some good cab sav.” I wasn’t sure what to say. I mean, food and wine are my weaknesses, and I’m sure it would beat the nasty hostel food I’ve been eating. But he’s a random 40-year-old man I’ve just met in a city where I know no one. If going to his house doesn’t sound like the beginning of a Law & Order episode, I don’t know what does. But how do you explain to a man you just met that you worry he may be a serial killer or sexual predator without him getting offended? I have a hard time navigating these things.

Since Wednesday, he has been blowing up the blacktress’s phone and sending me textual eruptions. I’m hesitant to respond, however. Not only because all my outgoing calls and texts cost money and incoming are free, but because I don’t really want to get caught up in something, and this is not the first time an inappropriately older gentleman has been drawn to the blacktress. I wonder why my most persistent suitors are always 40+, and I can't find a young, first, attractive man in my age bracket. Is it because I’m old and weary and the trials of age can be seen behind my eyes? Is it because I have the attitude of a 40-year-old divorcee? Is it because, by 40, most older Caucasian gentleman want nothing more than to bed a blacktress before they reach the winter of their life?

I know, I know, 40 is not the “winter of one’s life”—I just love using that phrase.

Anyway, this is all swirling in my head as I head into the weekend. He discussed seeing a comedy show, which of course I want to go to—but would I be leading him on by going? Sojourner’s not trying to hurt any feelings—I’m just trying to meet some Aussie homies and keep my nose clean.
And keep my nose to the grindstone. Or, wait, is it ear? I’m always mixing metaphors.

Seriously, guys, look at this. FLYING FOXES!!! They look like giant bats, and they swoop from tree to tree under the cloak of night. I can’t handle it. I was really scared they’d smell my fear or sense my evil and swoop down upon me.

PS: Eli Reed, I would love to grab a drank, a la T-Pain.

Learning and Growing, the Aussie Way

Blacktress’ Log, Star Date 16/10/2008, 11pm.

I think things are looking up, gang. I found the gays!!! This is a crucial step towards not only getting acclimated, but becoming an Oprah or RuPaul-like figure in the community.

I just got back from Surry Hills, a happening gayborhood in Sydney. I met up with a friend of a friend who’d I’d never met (you know, in true Blanche Dubois fashion), and she introduced me to her crew, which consists of elite gay visionaries and kindly heteros. It was a mix of Ozzies and Americans, so I got a lot of great advice, both from people who had been through the transition and those who have been in the know all their lives. It was the highlight of my day, the majority of which was spent in a dank room partaking in a Responsible Service of Alcohol course, which I needed to take in order to work with booze.

The interesting thing about the class was that the old Ozzie guy who was teaching it—in addition to looking like the Monopoly guy would after getting a bad hit with Community Chest—was really into booze. Although the main goal was to teach us not to let people get intoxicated and fuck up shit, he really just made me want to get a drink and engage in other vices.

Such gems included:

“Drink, Drink, Drink. That’s the Ozzie motto. We’re not here to stop this. The main goal is CYA—cover your ass.” Good to know. We’re not here for ethics, we’re here to avoid litigation.

“Okay, 15 minute break guys. You have time for approximately three cigarettes and a cup of coffee.”

He also spoke of the perils of both “drink driving and drink walking,” which I’d never heard of.

I think the best part was that we were told there’d be an exam at the end, and we had to pass in order to receive RSA certification. Instead of making sure we perked our ears up and really focused, our instructor would preface his important points with, “there will be a question on this, so listen,” and repeatedly reminded us that we could use our coursebook during the exam.
God bless the Ozzie ethic.

Although I was bored, I was prepared for this seminar after Wednedsay’s 3-hour orientation on the basics of the IEP program—what they offer, tips for finding a job, an apartment, etc. Like the RSA course, it was one of those typical meetings one often dreads in the workplace or in school: a person speaks aloud while navigating a PowerPoint presentation that shows exactly what is being said onscreen. You then are told toward the end that there is an accompanying book which reiterates all information covered both verbally and on screen. This would have been highly boring and irritating if the presenters didn’t have magical accents and random asides that really drove the whole “no worries” concept home.

Gems from the orientation presenters included:

Re: Choosing an apartment. “Bad smells don’t go away, both in life and in an apartment. If you walk in it’s a bit whiffy, don’t think it’s a coincidence. It’s not, and the smell will probably get worse.”

Re: Beach Culture.
“This is a great time of year to be in Sydney, and everyone will be on the beach. If you’re not on the beach, you’re not normal.”

In Defense of Vegemite. “We don’t do peanut butter and jelly. That is the most disgusting, most foul thing on earth.” [Note: when asked about my personal thoughts on Vegemite, I simply said “It’s…not the most pleasant flavor I’ve experienced.” Why Peter couldn’t be as diplomatic is beyond me.]

On Australian Wildlife.
“It’s not a koala bear, okay? It has nothing to do with a bear!” [He was quite adamant about this, actually. I got a little uncomfortable.]

“We’re the only country that eats its national animal [kangaroo]. But they are delicious, seriously. You should eat them—and don’t feel bad. There are 21 million people in Australia and 140 million kangaroos, so we’re really trying to get through as many as possible.”

On Beach Safety. “The colors of the uniforms and flags are yellow and red, just like on Baywatch--we can’t pull it off as well as Pam and the Hoff, but we do what we can.”

“Alcohol makes you think you’re good at all sorts of things—like swimming—but you’re not.”

So far, I’ve been keeping pretty busy, getting back to the hostel (which is, seriously, the tricked out Cadillac of hostels—it’s out of control) really tired and feeling like I’ve accomplished something. I even looked at my first apartment yesterday, and although it’s only a 6-month lease, I think I want it—not only because it's a 3-minute walk from the train in a great area, but because the woman I’d live with is first cousins with none other than America’s Next Top Model photographer/judge Nigel Barker!

Seriously, there were pictures of the two of them on the mantel. There's even one with her, Nigel, Ms. Jay, and Twiggy.

When the other woman pointed it out, I reacted like any normal person would—by jumping up and down and squealing, of course. She really appreciated the enthusiasm, and even said she was excited to meet someone from New York. They say they’ll have a decision in a week, but I think I’m in there like (red-and-yellow) swimwear. Seriously, I must make this woman (and her apartment) mine.

Until then, I’m just roaming around the city, trying to be as friendly as possible. Today I met a lovely Italian man named Alberto, who showed me where to get free internet during the day. Because I hadn’t brought my laptop, he totally let me borrow his, which was tender. I knew I had him firmly in my grasps when, after hearing he was from Italy, I spoke the only phrase I knew: “Ciao, tu sei divortziato?” which means, “Hello, are you divorced?” He laughed, and asked me if I knew what I’d just said. I translated it, and explained that I don’t know much, but I know what I know. He has a bit of a hair gel issue, but I’m willing to overlook it because he’s too precious and nice, and I’m hoping we can do a language exchange.

Sonya, the German hippie in my hostel, is a gem. I actually make her laugh, which I always find to be an accomplishment when I'm dealing with a non-native English speaker. I told her the story of THE Australian, and she said, "You're"

I think she gets me.

Okay, well, my internet time is limited, but soon I will discuss my first male suitor. You can take the blacktress out of Harlem, but you can’t take the crazy-attractant off the blacktress.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I Am Blanche Dubois

For, like, Blanche, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

It’s day 2 in Sydney, about 11am on Tuesday morning, and it’s raining. I don’t really mind this because it gives me an excuse to be lazy and prevents me from being touristy. Yesterday took a positive turn, and gave me the boost I needed to keep my head up.

I first got a text from my Ozzie friend who was supposed to meet me, saying that she couldn’t come after work because of an event. I immediately got stressed and upset, wondering when I’d get my massive bags out of the hostel (seriously, the room is so tiny, there’s not even room for all my crap. I’m feeling very “Troop Beverly Hills,” compared to the other three girls’ “Outback Jack” vibe). I then realized I’d have no one to hang out with. I texted a friend of a friend who also lives in Sydney, and he said he wouldn’t be able to meet until Wednesday. Boo. Hiss.

I then went to the IEP office, where yesterday’s post was created, and then came back to the hostel, where I tried to look breezy and social while reading David Sedaris in the lounge area (which is huge—this hostel is hard core!). My eyes started to droop, but being only 2pm, I knew I couldn’t give in. My energy briefly peaked when I noticed a scruffy-faced bald man sitting on the couch. We made eyes a couple of times, but it was unclear whether he was looking simply because I was looking, or because he was feeling a blacktress’ sleep-deprived flava.

I worked up the nerve to chat up the foreign hottie as we waited for the elevator (my opening line: "Is it good?" I asked, as he ate an ice cream cone. For serious. I've got more game than Milton-Bradley). I learned that he was German, and actually working on building some big... building not too far from the hostel. I still, however, don’t know his name.

I simply planned to put my book down and take another walk, but all hope for beating jet lag went out the door when I went back to my room and saw that no one else was in there. I instantly went into freshman-year-of-college mode, where you immediately do something you hadn’t planned on doing simply because you now have the privacy to do it.* I went to lay down, and I was out. I figured sleeping was better than lamenting being lonely and wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into. Soon, though, I received a call from my Ozzie friend, just checking on me. This instantly warmed my heart, and I felt like someone did care whether or not I was dead in a ditch.

Shortly after that (time is unclear when one is half asleep), I received a call from a young man I’ll call “J-Date.” I will call him this because he’s Jewish, we discussed J-Date at one point, and he said he really didn’t want his name on the blog.

A friend I haven’t seen in years put us in touch before I left, because J-Date was coming to Sydney on business for a couple weeks and would gladly hang out with me. We’d exchanged some emails, and I gave him my Aussie number, but was unsure whether or not he’d use it. One of the benefits—or downfalls, depending on how proactive you are—of my new Aussie pay-as-you-go phone is that incoming calls are free, so I’m pretty much waiting for everyone else to make the first move for financial reasons.

J-Date asked if I wanted to hang out, and noticed I sounded groggy. He urged me to wake up and fight jet lag, and said he knew exactly what I needed to see on my first night. I immediately woke up, put on something half-decent, and chatted with roommate Sonya, who I discovered is not Dutch, but German.

“I met a really hot German boy in the lounge,” I said, to connect with her culture.

“Did you?” She said.


She laughed. This could be because she didn’t know what else to say, or because she actually could handle Sojourner’s truth.

J-Date arrived 20 minutes later. He immediately ushered us into a cab, and told the driver “Opera Bar.” It was very bad-ass and James Bond-esque. He’d explained that he’d been to Sydney several times on business, and knew what was what, and “we’ve got to get there before sunset.” I mean, of course gut reaction was, “Will J-Date propose me? He is moneyed, and lives an international lifestyle. Granted, I’ve only known him 4 minutes, but we could make this work.”

We got out of the cab and there I was, in front of the Sydney Opera House. It was gorgeous. It was the icon. We managed to catch the final minutes of sunset, and the Harbour Bridge looked all magical and dynamic as the sky turned.

It finally hit me that I was actually in Australia. I got excited. It felt good.

We got drinks at the opera bar, which has a beautiful view, and J-Date and I chatted. I could tell I was pushing his boundaries, making him refer to me as “blacktress” at all times, and telling him I wanted to become an Oprah-like figure, but he rolled with the punches. He even revealed to me that he secretly watched “I Love New York,” and he agreed with me when I called her a tranny hot mess. He’d only arrived the day before, so we were equally tired, but managed to entertain each other and find a random outdoor burger place for dinner. As he asked me about “my plan,” he assured me that I’d be okay, and at times even told me I could probably be a stripper or turn tricks if things ever got really dire. I appreciated the vote of confidence.
I headed back to the hostel at 10:00pm, proud to have made it through my first Aussie day, and not having to go it entirely alone. I managed to sleep pretty well, although I was woken up by another vagabond who’d taken the bed below me and seemed to just be crumpling plastic bags, for, like, half an hour.
Today is looking up, and I’m feeling energetic enough to try and make out with a foreign stranger. The hot German guy is sitting next to me, using his computer. Wish me luck……teeehee.

Here's me. The direction from J-Date was, "Japanese Tourist."

*No, I don’t mean masturbating—but, whatever tickles your pickle (in this case, it would be you).

Sidebar: as I write this post, the radio in the lounge is blasting BeyoncĂ©’s “Irreplaceable.” If that’s not a sign that I’m a strong black woman, I don’t know what is.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I've Reached Down Under!!!!!

Blacktress' Log, Star Date 13/10/2008. 

I am writing to you from the future.

Saturday, October 11, 2008, at 10:00 pm, I boarded Quantas Flight 74 to Sydney, Australia. 
I arrive this morning--Monday, October 13, 2008-- at 8:00 am. 

I don't even know what's happening. 

I write to you from the main office of the IEP Program that's helping me make this all happen. I can barely lift my shoulders from carrying over 140 pounds of luggage, but enjoyed the hostel shower far more than I expected to. I'm in a 4-person room, and so far, the only person I've met is a Dutch hippie named Sonya who had dreadlocks and an open heart. She lent me her nail scissors so I could open the plastic that kept me from reaching my padlock.

So, I already managed to lose my IEP program files--luckily I had copies made and hidden in another folder. The Australian SIM card I purchased is not hooking up to my Nokia as planned, and I'm hungry, but unsure of what to eat. But I'm feeling oddly relaxed--perhaps it's because I didn't sleep on the 15-hour flight, and am in a state of delirium. 

I initially had a whole row to myself and thought things were looking up until the flight attendant told me some old broad across the aisle was going to sit in my row, because she'd just had foot surgery. I thought maybe she'd forget, but as soon as that fasten-seat-belt sign went off, she came right over. She quickly removed her boot and put her old-lady foot up on the seat between us.  I tried to make the most of it, and watched Iron Man, Get Smart, and even Arj Barker stand up performance. I even managed to drown out the TWO crying babies sitting parallel to me. After all, it's all in your outlook, you know?

The granny went to sleep for most of the flight, but when she awoke, she wanted to talk to me about the election. Turns out she's a geriatric playa supporting Obama (holla!) and proceeded to tell me about an organization she's a part of that is "all about peace." 

"Are you about peace?" she asked.
"Yes, of course," I said, as though she'd caught me brandishing a firearm and I was caught sheepishly.
"Well, so are we. We go to the conventions, go to DC, make sure maintaining and promoting peace stays on people's minds!" 
She then proceeded to sing me a song she and her group had made up about Sarah Palin. 
If I wasn't so loopy right now, I'd be able to remember it. 
She also told me the name of her organization--and was also very careful to tell me to add the word "Alert" when I was searching for it, or else I'd be brought to a porn site.
"Oh no!" I said, pretending to care.
"Well, it's not so bad, depending on what you like," she said matter-of-factly.

So true, granny--so true. 

Please note, guys: This is the beginning of the blacktress's blog down under. If you don't see a post at least every 4 days, call the authorities--lord knows what could have happened to me down here all alone with no one to care about my whereabouts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Overheard In San Francisco

I'm moments away from heading to the SF International Airport, and had the pleasure of having my final American meal with my life partner/wifey. As we walked back to fetch my baggage, we overheard two fabulous gay men chatting in the Castro.

Guy 1 (matter-of-factly): Just text him and say "What is your penis doing tonight? Does it want to be inside of me?"

Naturally, my gut reaction was to fall to one knee and propose to this man. Unfortunately, I have a flight to catch and a long-distance marriage to a homosexual is just more baggage that qantas surely wouldn't let me have on board.

Okay, gang, that's all for now. The next time I write you, it will be from Sydney, Australia--14 hours head of NYC. I'll be writing from....THE FUTURE.

Wish me luck-- I don't want to end up re-enacting scenes from LOST.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Baggage: INXS

Greetings from California, gang!
I got in yesterday, and boy are my arms tired!
(Has that joke ever been funny?)

Traveling is always jarring to me, especially when there's a time difference involved. I woke up at the ass-crack of dawn and my mom and I headed to JFK for me to catch my flight to SFO. Seeing as this is a stop on the way to Oz, I had two huge bags to check. I was worried about the weight limits, but thought that since I was only packing my cutest outfits, there was no way I could have more than 70 pounds in my bag. You can imagine my surprise when my spring/summer bag was placed on the scale and came in at 82.5 pounds!

Luckily, the lady at the check-in desk was feeling generous. The name on her tag read "Glo," and she kept calling me "Darling" and "Sweetheart." As my mother and I lamented the $100 fee, Glo covertly whispered, "Oh, just go ahead," all full of tenderness!

Upon arrival in SF, I was lucky enough to have my friend the Elite Gay Visionary pick me up in his ride. As we maneuvered my bags, we realized the first stop would have to be finding a third suitcase. Luckily, my former freshman year roommate came to fetch me and we roamed the streets in search of a duffel/sports bag.

As we climbed up treacherous hills, I started to freak out about this whole thing. Why am I going to Australia? I can't even pack properly! I'm certainly not cut out for a nomadic, backpacking, hippie lifestyle. As I started to feel tears well up (seriously), I realized that I had way more emotional baggage than clothing!

Would Qantas airlines refuse to let me on because my emotional baggage was too much? Would I tip the plane in unsavory directions with my worrying and freaking out?

Then, the following Australian tourism ad was brought to my attention last night.

I mean, racist leanings aside (what is with the barefoot Aboriginal youth coming to the confused white lady and showing her the way?), I guess I could find a boost from this ad. Perhaps I, too, will push my madness aside and jump into clear waters that got Nicole Kidman pregnant.

As I wait for my third bag to arrive, I shake off the annoyance of having to pay extra, and fight the urge to curse out Qantas representatives (how can I move to a foreign land for a year and NOT bring everything but the kitchen sink?!), and remember that soon I, too, will be finding myself through the help of a native.

For more on that cray cray commercial, check this out.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

In Harry's Defense

Look at this comment I got on the HP post:

Andr said...

If you really saw the play you know the theatre is very cold, there is cold smoke on stage and thousand of people looking at him and he is averange, so imagine when there is a normal temperature and a normal situation: it's big, very big guys, deal with it, you have it smaller than Radcliffe.
And calling him Harry is not funny, it's lame. It only shows you are immature and retard.
The boy has talent and is brilliant in the play, deal with that too.

Do you think this is Harry? This person is angry! I'm a "retard"! This blows my mind.
I love it.
What does it mean to "have it smaller than radcliffe"? Is he saying my penis is smaller than his? if so, he is RIGHT!
Cause I don't have a penis.
And, if that's what we're discussing here, then yes, Harry has one-upped me.
Who knew this post would be so divisive?!

Friday, October 3, 2008

I Can't Let This Go

I was alerted to candid photos of J-Hud and Punk (I'm only calling him by his reality show name) by a friend, who shall remain nameless. Unfortunately, J-Hud will not remain SHAMEless.
Look at these fools.

How did this photo get leaked? Are they playing dress up? What are they trying to convey with this imagery?

Jennifer's looking like she's ready to punch anyone who talks shit about her reality-tv man. Should I take this as a challenge? I love how she's already taken on her man's style, like one of those girls who loses are personality once they get a boo. She really has let me down--it's like she only became famous so she could become a tragedy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Tale of a Boy and His Horse

I saw him, guys.
I saw Harry Potter live and in the flesh last night.

From row B in the orchestra, the boy who lived was practically in my lap. Here's the breakdown:

For those of you who don't know, Equus is a straight play written by Peter Shaffer in 1973, based on a true story of a young boy who blinded six horses--well, the incident itself is true, but Shaffer went on to create a portrait of a young person who would do such a thing. Told through the narration of the boy's psychiatrist, we jump back and forth through time as we piece together what could drive him to be so cray.

HP is the first onstage, and he is SHIRTLESS. I knew this was going to be good--although I was already in hopes when, before the lights dimmed, my mother leaned over to me and whispered conspiratorially, "We're gonna see Daniel Radcliffe's balls."

I've never head my mom say "balls." This is what bonding is all about.

Anyway, the first thing I noticed were the crazy connections between Equus and the HP story.
1. The psychiatrist is played by Richard Griffiths--the very actor who plays UNCLE VERNON in the HP films!!! OH EM GEE!
2. With HP's nudity being a major selling point, his wand is just as vital in the stories as it is in this play.
3. At one point in the play, Alan Strang (HP's character) is reliving the moment leading up to his terrifying act, and he says, "He was in the way!"
"Who?" says Uncle Vernon.
"You know who!!!!" Alan screams.
Um, if that's not Voldemort, I don't know who is.

The character of Alan Strang is a troubled boy with a sexual fascination/love for horses. In the play, 6 male actors who wear large metal horse heads represent the creatures. When Alan is with a horse, he strokes their chest and rubs his hands all over their body, which in turn gave the blacktress a sexual eruption! Note to self: be willing to play a non-speaking role in a Broadway show, on the off chance that it will entail being stroked by Daniel Radcliffe.

When he remembers a moment of riding a horse, Harry/Alan is orgasmic as the animal gallops. He speaks aloud to the therapist, describing the feeling of preparing the animal for a ride.
"No saddle?" the therapist notes.
"Never," Harry answers seductively.
Holla! HP likes to ride bareback!

From my close vantage point, I can tell you that Harry is quite petite, probably 5'6" tops, and is built like a soccer player--strong, compact legs and a little torso. GOD, this is so frustrating!! How are we supposed to have a mixie master race if he's going to be height deficient?!

He also had facial hair--a sort of chin strap that did not do him justice. I can't really handle his attempt at aging. Being the Brit that he is, he is obvi pasty pale (all parts of him, my friends), I could see a little rash on his upper arm--do you think he's been in communal showers lately?

And, of course, the information you all want:
the peen.

All I can say is this: While Harry was dynamic and mesmerizing on stage, I believe his penis must have had a case of stage fright.

Seriously, it was tiny.
I know the theater was a bit chilly, so my immediate thought was, "Okay, Sojourner, it's just shrinkage. He's freezing. It's okay."
But then, like, as I looked at it more and more, I realized that it was just mini.
And then my heart died a little.
I'm sure any men reading this will be offended and hate me, since penis size is such a sensitive subject. But, like, really, size isn't a make-or-break attribute. However, when you've dreamed of a boy wizard--nay, the BOY WHO LIVED--you want him to LIVE up to your (s)expectations!

After the show, my mother and I were on the train reading our programs. Suddenly she says, "See what good self-esteem men have? That's why women need to stop hating their bodies. Harry did not even need to take off his drawers."

Oooooh, third-degree burn, mom.

But she was kinda right.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Oh Happy Day!!

In T minus 2.5 hours, I will be in the 3rd row orchestra of the Broadway play "Equus."
Or, as I like to call it, "Harry Potter Penis."

I don't think I could be more excited.
Wait, does that make me a pedophile? Don't answer that.

I'm going to see the show with my mother, because she's really into bonding before I leave (one week left--aaaahhh!). However, we usually go see musicals since we love a good spectacle. Although we've been talking about seeing Wicked for ages, I just felt it was behoovy of me to see the nude frame of the only man I'll ever love.

The play is a bit strange and involves horses, bestiality, and psychotherapy. I've already been sent several links to blurry camera-phone pictures of Mr. Potter's magic wand, but they do not do the boy wizard justice.

My mother is a bit put off by my interest in HP's...P. How does it make you feel? I think was gets her the most is that I refuse to call him by his real name. She says, "It's as though you can't separate Daniel Radcliffe from the movie character. They aren't the same."

"Um, YOU'RE not the same, lady!"

Sometimes I'm not very clever.

I'll be sure to provide a detailed synopsis and play by play of...the play--and Harry's um, major prop first thing tomorrow.