Sunday, November 30, 2008

Remember, Remember, the 1st of December

I'm really happy that today is December 1st. Primarily because it brings an end to the Australian month of MOvember. The Movember event raises awareness around men's health issues, with a focus on prostate cancer and depression in men. Basically, dudes all over the country grow intense facial hair and people sponsor them to do so, raising money for the organizations.

This is a wonderful thing for men to be doing, and it's cool to be able to look at a guy and see that he's about supporting the cause (separate the wheat from the chaff),* but the drawback is that for the last month 1 out of every 3 Australian men has looked like a pedophile--or Burt Reynolds. Imagine walking down the street or hitting up the club and seeing a bunch of this:

Okay, well, not as bad as the guy on the right, but I'm trying to paint a picture here. You should see what google showed me when I image-searched 'pedophile'.

I'm also glad because my birthday is in 6 days. Although I'm going to be celerbating it when I'm back in NYC in 2009, turning the big 4-8 (or 25, or 211, depending on which of my alter egos we're going with) will be fun. And it'll be the first time my birthday isn't during freezing weather, which makes dressing sluttily so much less awkward.

* or, you know, tell which guys really likes to keep his upper lip warm. Sometimes it's just a dude rocking a mustache and they don't get why everyone else has been stealing their look.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tell-tale Signs, II


Answer: Every man I've ever dated.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Be Thankful You're Not THIS GUY

Or a blacktress.

So, as you can imagine, being a foreign woman of color down under can sometimes be a doozy. It's amazing how many things people have said to me that could be deemed offensive. Luckily, having attended an elite private school where people never left the 20-block radius of the Upper East Side, I'm not easily offended. More often than not, such comments just reveal the speaker's ignorance in a manner so blatant that I'm shocked that they don't feel shame.

And not all of these comments have to do with race (though most do). When I mention I'm from New York City, people suddenly get excited, as though the little man inside the TV has stepped out of the little box and joined them on their couch for evening tea. I mean, we all know America and it's major cities--New York in particular--have appeared all over the world in the form of television and movies. But I guess I didn't realize how deeply these images were emblazoned in the minds of millions.

For instance, while sitting in a car with some random stylish Asian students on our way to a club downtown, we made small-talk. I told them I was from New York, and one girl got really excited. She didn't speak English very well, and first began pointing at me with her thumb up, jumping up and down in the car. I was sorta confused, but waited for her to find her words.
"Do you have a gun?" She asked, sincerely and excitedly.
"What?!" I burst out laughing--not at her, but just the thought that I'd have a gun. Did she mean, like on me at that moment? She seemed to happy for me to be a criminal, so that couldn't be it. I was dying to know more.
"In New York City, everyone have guns," she said matter-of-factly.
"No they don't!" I was cracking up now, trying not to make her feel bad and keep it light, but quite eager to clear up the situation. "New York's not really more dangerous than any other place. If you know how to behave, you're fine. I mean, it's not like I walk down back alleys, pull out my wallet, and start counting my earnings. You have to think a bit, and you're all right."
She nodded, her wide Hello Kitty eyes understanding.

The thing that's so interesting is that I can't get away with shit like that. If I said to her, "Do you know tae kwon do?" I'd be seen as a racist, ignorant American--so typical of a person from the land of the Big Mac and George Bush. I can't express a lack of knowledge because it would come off as insensitive and stupid, yet for some reason my blackness seems to warrant a display of foolishness--why do we think that is?

Take, for instance, this conversation I had online with an Aussie bloke earlier today. We met through an online dating site-- I know, I know, guys, I need to stop, but old habits die hard! Lord knows I can't even try to find a man til I handle my own scandal (get a job, get my head right), but I want to meet new people and I'm thoroughly bored, being jobless and all, and can't keep talking to the same 4 people I know here. Besides, I want to see who's out there and what my options are.

Well, turns out, not many. Much like late-80s crooner Lisa Stansfield, I, too, have been around the world and I-I-I, I can't find my baby. All I'm finding are completely inappropriate cray-crays who think it's acceptable to say whatever, whenever (uh-oh, now I'm getting all Shakira on it). Check this out:

me: so, tell me a bit about yourself
kanchan says: you look good and sexy for a black lady
me: "for a black lady"? are we normally unattractive?
kanchan says: it's how African's are generally referred as, isn't it?
me: no, i wasn't asking about the word black
kanchan says: nothing intimidating I guess
kanchan says: oh, people genrally dont get attracted, that's true
kanchan says: go on please
me: go on with what? i asked you to tell me a bit about yourself. you just told me i was attractive, despite being black. it's still your turn to take this conversation to a good place.
kanchan says: but i've seen some beautiful girls going to black dudes and some handsome white men going for black women
me: what is your point?
me: i'm not sure what you're getting at with this whole subject line
kanchan says: I mean some peple get attracted or for them physical beauty is not important
me: ok
me: i don't think we'd get along very well. bye!
kanchan says: I just wanted to chat with you

Okay, am I on glue, people? He "just wanted to chat," yet his conversation topic involved a discussion of me as some sort of exception to my normally hideous, monkey-like race. He also insinuates that those who date black people could perhaps be doing so because physical attractiveness is a non-issue--because perhaps you're only with the negress for her witty banter.

This dude completely had no clue how idiotic and offensive he was being. And, alas, he's not the only Aussie to go there. I'm finding those that are attracted to me are in it for the thrill of....well, I'm not sure what exactly. Transgressing? Going to the dark side? If I'm out with a guy or having a flirtatious conversation, I have to keep in mind that his interest in me may simply be physical.

"Well, duh, Sojourner, you weren't born yesterday!"
No, of course not, I was born in 1797 on the Hardenburgh estate. But, it's not simply the possibility of a man going after a hook up. It's that he may not even be attracted to me so much as intrigued by me. Excited by the opportunity to go there. That he may very well just want to be able to tell his mates he slept with a black woman.

Now, don't get me wrong--this could totally be the case in the land UP OVER, and in the city that never sleeps. But I guess, lacking a sense of PC-ness, it's a bit more blatant down here, and it touches a nerve in a way that gets me a bit riled up (as you can tell by the length of this post).

Let me hand it over to Lisa and Barry.

(I chose this youtube clip of this song because I think it fits in with the interracial issues)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blacktress' Horoscope, According to CLEO Magazine

November 23 - December 22

You are entering a critical position in which trying conditions of anxiety and worry may be experienced. Changes are par for the course, resulting in a break-up of existing conditions or separation from close ties. Social activities may be at a standstill or prove to be a disappointment.

I think Australian magazines may be on to something here. But, to be fair, they're about 6 months late.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Addictions Uncovered

Here's an email I just got from my mother today:

can i drink the rest of the jim beam that was in your room? it's straight jim with nothing else in there, right?

I don't know what makes me more uncomfortable: my mother cleaning my room; her finding Jim Beam in there; or her asking to drink it.

And, to be honest, I can't even remember if there's anything else in it. I do tend to pre-mix.

My response:

"hahahhahah1 wqhat? jim beam in my room? um, yeah."

You can tell by the typos that I am so embarrassed, I could just die.

Do you think this email is some sort of reverse psycholoogoogoly* she's trying to work on me across the international date line? How can she make me feel ashamed when I'm on the other side of the world?

Damn her, it's working!

*not a word.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Career Moves

The premiere of Australia is taking place mere metres away in downtown Sydney. This means that Hugh Jackman--or, as I like to call him-- HUGE JACKED MAN-- is as close to me as he will ever be.
I must find a way to get inside him. I mean, inside the PREMIERE--yes, that's what I meant.

Anyway, I digress.

As you know, I've been down under over a month, which means being funemployed is no longer as fun as it was upon arrival. The boredom, coupled with my dwindling funds means I'm going to have to find work, stat.
The thing is, though, I don't really like working. Or waking up early, or not getting alot of money. So I'm starting to think outside of the box when it comes to means of employment. I chatted about it with my Elite Gay Visionary, and I think I may have found the job for me.

me: oh, and i may be going in to interview with a GENTLEMAN'S CLUB!
EGV: really??? i thought you nixed that idea?
me: i don't know should i just go in for the meeting?
EGV: you are naomi campbell
me: she may tell me i'm fat and kick me out immediately
EGV: you obviously have to go
me: think she'll make me strip? and then make me put ice cubes on my nipples?
EGV: maybe she'll give you ice cubes and ask you to impress her
at which point you take out a nail file and turn it into a miniature dolphin
you're just too amazing, elite gay visionary.
or maybe she'll give me a flute, tell me to spread my legs and play the australian national anthem
EGV: hahahaha
me: there are so many possibilities
EGV: i love how we've combined circus act and gentlemen's club.
we've obviously never been in one.
you should tell her you have great director skills and will stand on stage and tell girls what to do
me: i would love that
be in the wings just yelling at them "step, ball change!! now lick it....LICK IT.....LICK IT!"
EGV: haha step ball change
dance magic dance!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tiamo, Te Amo

"Thou canst be harmed by man nor sword, for now Macbeth is an undead Lord!!!!"

This is a line from "Macbeth Re-Arisen," the production I had the privilege of seeing Wednesday night at Trades Hall, in Melbourne. As previously stated, it likes to think of itself as a cross between "Shaun of the Dead" and Shakespeare--you know, as natural a combination as peanut butter and jelly.

Prior to the show, I had dinner at Tiamo, an Italian restaurant recommended to me twice over by both "Let's Go!" and a lovely shopkeeper at a clothing store where I bought a $10 skirt. After miscalculating the distance and walking in scorching heat, I arrived to find the restaurant packed, but luckily there was a bar with seating. I sidled up between two older gentlemen and asked for a menu. The older waiter pointed to the chalkboard behind him, where there roughly 10 options. I like that they keep it simple.

"You support him?"

I looked up from my book to see this older man looking at me expectantly. I stared blankly, caught off guard. He then pointed to the Obama pin I was wearing (I said I'd never take it off and I mean it) and raised his eyebrows.

"Hell yeah!" I smiled.
"He's a good-looking man, that Obama." He smiled in a knowing, sorta pervy way.
I didn't know how to respond.
"Him and his wife. That's a good-looking couple."
I don't know if you've ever heard of a "red flag," but if you were to look it up in the dictionary, it would probably show the line above as an example. In general, when one begins a discussion of politics with a comment on the physical attractiveness of the people involved, it indicates there's little knowledge of the issues. When you stare at a black woman and tell her Michelle Obama is sexy as she sits alone in a possibly Mafioso restaurant, there is little doubt that the flag must be raised and waved fiercely.

He asked where I was from, and introduced himself as Sam. He shook my hand and it felt a little greasy, and I made a mental note not to break my bread with my right hand. Just then, another older waiter came over and Sam said something to him in Italian while looking at me. They share a laugh, the waiter leaves, and Sam says, "He knows I love black women!"

I smile lightly and go back to my book, but Sam does not get the hint. He asks what I do for a living (which annoys the shit out of me), and I tell him I'm a writer.
"You want to write about me?" he says, crazy eyes bulging.
"What you got for me?"
"Have you heard of Toyota?" I nod. "Well, I know some things about them."
Sam is clearly a high-ranking Mafia official.
"I don't know if that'll be interesting, Sam," I say, trying to keep it light lest he pull out a pocket knife and put me in my place.
"Well, I got another one. You can write about the break down of my marriage."
I am uncomfortable.
There was an empty seat between us, and just when Sam asks if he can sit next to me, another older fellow enters and takes the seat. I silently thank black Jesus ("hair like lamb's wool"!)and wait for my rigatoni ragu to arrive. After I start eating, Sam leans back and says to me, "I'm gonna apply for a bank loan tomorrow morning so I can take you out for dinner!" chuckling to himself.

I looked down at my plate. I mean, I was at an Italian restaurant; it was a hearty portion, but nothing out of the ordinary. I silently wished death upon Sam, who up until then was just a slightly sleazy but relatively harmless old man. Now, he was single-handedly responsible for rekindling my 8th-grade eating disorder.

The man between us started chatting with Sam, and I was left to enjoy my rigatoni in peace. After about 15 minutes, he turns me and says, "So you're a writer?"
Clearly, Sam's can't stop talking about me.
I nod, and for the next 5 minutes he proceeds to spew titles of great Australian novels, asking if I've read them.
"Have you heard of Honeybee? It's about real things, like honey."
Seriously, he said this.
I failed him yet again and he became bored of me. He looked down at his empty bowl of minestrone soup and settled his bill and left.
Just then, a hyperactive 4-year-old took his place. He jumped on the stool and poked my boob, before turning to Sam and saying, "you're a stupid-head, mate."
From the mouths of babes.
Although I was thrown by the boob touch, it was more action than I'd seen since I'd arrived in this country, so I figured I'd let it slide. Besides, the kid--who I learned was named Nicolas--was like a cross between Crocodile Dundee and Problem Child, and I could not stop watching him sit up at the bar stool like he owned the place.

I went to tally my bill when the manager gave me a glass of wine and told me that Nicolas' dad would give me a ride to the theater where "Macbeth Re-Arisen" was playing. Completely stuck on this "balls to the wall" lifestyle, I had no qualms with getting in a car with a stranger and his 4-year-old child if it meant staying out of the heat.

While my meal cost $16--more if you count the wine I didn't ask for--the manager simply asked for $10 and then asked if I knew of any vacant apartments in Sydney. He explained that his son, Roberto, is a producer on The Bachelor, and needs to be on location for three months starting in January. I gave him some info and my cell number, and before I could even hop off my stool, he put his Iphone to my ear so that I could chat with Roberto.

Roberto and I were equally awkward and confused, but he appreciated the information.
As I headed out with the stranger and his child, the manager said he'd call me Friday and take me out to lunch.
I found this confusing but agreed, fully planning not to answer my phone for the next 48 hours.

I managed to make it to the theater with 10 minutes to spare, and was immediately directed to a bar area. I guess they knew the show benefited from a sauced audience. Done completely in Shakespearean verse, it took place after Macbeth's death, with him returning from the grave as a zombie, bent on resurrecting his wife and raising an army of zombies. The real crescendo was when Hecate gives him a chainsaw (to which he replied "groovy."-- i don't think that's Shakespearean) to slice and dice as he wished.

With no one to talk to, I sat in the theater at intermission and wrote down stuff, prompting the producer to ask me if I was from an international publication. I thought that was quite bold of her to assume that "Macbeth Re-Arisen" had somehow gained international notoriety in it's first week of performances, and I had been dispatched immediately to see the magic for myself. Although the beauty of crossing the international dateline alone is the ability to create any identity at any time, I said no, and she quickly got bored of me.

I went home that night feeling slightly drunk, a little violated, and more than a little confused. I have to go back to Tiamo and see how I can get on The Bachelor.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Free Walking Tours - You Get What You Pay For

Yesterday I went on a free walking tour of Melbourne's CBD, sponsored by the city of Melbourne. I was really proud of myself for not only finding something free, but for actually showing up at the visitor's centre and taking part in it. This tends to be the running theme of my travels thus far. I look up activities 24/7, read through my 'Let's Go! Australia- On a Budget' and 'Lonely Planet' guide while taking notes on what's cool, and trying to memorize the city map so I avoid looking like a tourist in public (although my nubian nature gives me away). When I reach a destination listed in my book or recommended to me by a friend, I feel as though I'm super human, as though I was able to bring something from the pages of a book to life, causing it to materialize in front of me exactly where the map says it's going to be.

I arrived at my tour with energy, ready to get the inside-scoop from a Melbourne resident. As I waited for the group to gather, Glenn came out to wait. Glenn was a 60-70-something year old pensioner (retiree, in Australian) who gives tours simply for the love of the game. The other two members of my tour were Anne, a middle-aged Swedish woman, and Tibia, a large German woman.
Both wore sensible walking shoes and had harsh accents.
Glenn asked us our interests so that he could tailor the tour to our needs. I told him I was interested in the arts scene, as well as seeing the tiny sidestreets for which the city is famous.
Anne and Tibia* said they were interested in history.

Ugh, way to start a snooze-fest, guys.

We headed out at 9:30 and started off strong, with views of St. Patrick's Cathedral, the historic Flinders Street station, and the architectural schizophrenia that is Federation Square.
Soon, however, it devolved into what I can only describe as getting what you pay for.
At one point, we walked through a shopping center, into the entrance of a hotel. Without explanation, Glenn took us into the elevator, up to the 35th floor, and we exited onto a floor that held restaurants and a bar.
"Believe it or not, this is the best view you'll get of the entire city," Glenn said. "But, to really see it, you have to go into the bathrooms. [beat] so I'll just wait out here while you ladies duck in and have a look."

I kid you not.

We all went into the bathroom, which had a floor-to-ceiling window through which you could indeed see most of the city. It was quite nice, was in a hotel bathroom. How were we even allowed in here without being guests? Where's the security?

Apparently, we weren't the only ones who knew about the view. After a minute, in walked three elderly women. One of them was tiny and Asian and I wanted to put her in my pocket when she said, "This is the most beautiful bathroom view I have ever seen."
I was dying to know what she was comparing it to.

We then walked through the restaurant, which was just finishing up breakfast, and looked out of the window from there. At one point, to illustrate Melbourne's penchant for "hidden gems," he took us down an alleyway into a small store that sold hats.

Seriously. We just walked in, he showed us the hats, and we left.

Glenn later tried to show us the banquet hall of an old hotel that used to be Melbourne's biggest and best, but there was a conference being held inside. Instead, he just described what it looked like.

At around 12:30, Glenn explained that if we wanted to see more, he just had to pop back in to the visitor's centre and sign out because he was only allotted 3 hours, but "was happy to continue on my own time." I wondered if Glenn was running from something in his sordid past by constantly giving walking tours, but refrained from asking. I politely explained that I had errands to run and thanked him for his time while Anne and Tibia decided to stay on board Glenn's derailed party train. While I think it's totally tender of Glenn to offer his time and loved the idea of getting a free overview of randomness, I couldn't give my whole day over to posing as a hotel guest so that I could admire architecture.

But the city really is awesome. Tiny side streets with hidden bars (it's like having a Bourgie Pig on every corner), delicious foodstuffs, and cool stores. It's all there, and I am feeling the Euro vibe. Tonight I'm seeing a play called "Macbeth Re-Arisen," which touts itself as "Shaun of the Dead meets Shakespeare" (finally! thank god someone is reading my memos!), and tomorrow I'm heading on a wine tour of the Yarra Valley--Melbourne's nearest wine country. Let's hope I'm not surrounded by French Canadians.

Monday, November 10, 2008

You Can Still Find Me in the Club....

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

Greetings from Melbourne!!

Fun Fact: Melbourne and Sydney, although they appear close together on a map, are actually a 15-hour drive or 90-minute flight apart.

Note: objects on map are farther apart than they appear.

I hopped on a cheap flight on VirginBlue today at 15:00 and arrived at 16:30--you know, 4:30pm in foreign and military time. As I made my way through the airport, I anticipated a long line, perhaps some questions as to my origins (no, I'm not Sudanese), or at least a baggage check.
However, I got from check-in kiosk to the gate in about 6 minutes.
I plugged in my confirmation number, chose a seat, and got a printed boarding pass. I then walked right to the security check-in, and was shocked to see that I didn't have to take off my shoes immediately. Not until I caused a beep from the machine was I asked to remove my boots. I took them off, walked through, and that was that.
No one once asked to see identification or a boarding pass.
There was no question about who I could be or whether my bags had been in my sight at all times.

I was shocked and baffled. I had to jump through more hoops to get a new pre-paid SIM card for my cell this morning. On a flight from NYC to Detroit, MI, I'd have to show ID, strip down to my undies, and probably submit to a retinal scan--and that city doesn't even have anything to destroy!

Is this relaxed approached because of Barack? Does everyone just feel safer now? I mean, I figured he'd get me black immunity, but I didn't think it'd kick in so soon overseas.

It's about 8:00 pm now , and I'm writing this post at the State Library of Victoria, where they have free internet, and about 50 computers for random vagabonds to use. Of course, I did not happen upon the library by accident, but looked up my free internet options well in advance of my trip. As I walked into the large, majestic library, where students are frantically studying for exams, I realized yet again that no matter how far across the world you go, some things are all the same.

The library is always going to be a club.

Why do you say this, Sojo? you may ask. Well, back in my days of higher education, I worked at the university library, or, as I was wont to call it, "the club." This is because, surrounded by a bunch of like-minded individuals similar in age and desperate for procrastination, there were more pheromones wafting around the place than at a summer camp social. The library became a place where bonds were forged and broken, where hook ups were reunited and ignored, where bad pop music played, much to the chagrin of other attendants.
If that's not a club, I don't know what is.

And here I sit, in Melbourne, Victoria, as couples whisper and giggle. As the guy to my left IMs some chick, asking her to meet him when the library closes (after the party it's the after party!). As randos eye-fuck the shit out of each other and call it studying.

I love it here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tales From a Table For One

WARNING: The following post is totally random and makes no sense. Hopefully I'll have better stuff when I get to Melbourne.

Yesterday I walked about ¾ of a mile to get to Norton Street, the closest strip of activities to my new place in Lilyfield. Technically, Norton Street is in Leichhardt, a neighboring suburb known for its Italian restaurants and dubbed “Little Italy” in all my aussie guidebooks. Being a foodie, I am dying to try one of these fine establishments, but also being a solo diner, I prefer to attend eateries with the fewest amount of people.

So there I was, en route to Bombay Grill, the only Indian restaurant in Little Italy.

And it was 4:15pm

Sure enough, there was no one inside. In fact, the only staff member to be seen was mopping the floor, and I wondered if this was one of those quaint places that closed between lunch and dinner hours to “prepare.” Frankly, those types of places annoy me, as I don’t think a restaurant’s responsibilities should involve telling me when I can and cannot be hungry and decide to satiate that hunger. As I hesitantly crossed the threshold, he waved me in, but warned me to be careful of the wet floor.

There was a row of several hot options already prepared, which often turns me off--I mean, how long has that daal been simmering, and is it even fresh? However, in this lonely awkward state, I appreciated having my food immediately ready, avoiding the awkward wait for my entrée that sometimes makes me so nervous that I lose my appetite. I took a seat facing away from the street so that I wouldn't have to endure looks of pity from passersby.

Not content to simply eat my food, I immediately took out my latest book—one of the many I’d brought with me for moments such as this. As I re-read David Sedaris for the umpteenth time (he helps puts my own insecurities in perspective), I start cutting my chicken tikka massala with one hand while holding my paperback with the other. Suddenly, my fork decided I was not going to sit in peace, but rather embarrass myself completely. It was as if it was fighting my direction and said, “you know, you may want to appear nonchalant and comfortable being alone, but I know the truth, and I am going to out you.”

My fork slipped from my hand, fell into my plate, which was piled high with rice and sauce, causing some of my meal to splatter onto my lap, shirt, and even my glasses.As I began to wipe myself up, I thought, Thank god this place is empty and I’m alone. At least I can suffer shame in peace.

I then look up and see that the waiter, who I thought was in the kitchen, was actually staring at me from the back of the restaurant. Apparently, I’d caused quite a commotion, with the clatter of cutlery and all.

Great. Not only did I look like a toddler who’d just thrown a tantrum, but my klutziness was now real, having been seen by another party.

He brought me over new cutlery and napkins, and I thanked him sheepishly. Sometimes, I feel about as awkward as a middle school dance.

Today, an aussie friend of mine called me and asked if I wanted to see some stand-up comedy at a pub close to where I live. Even though I'd just gotten home, I raced back out the door to try to catch the next bus so that I could make the 7pm start time.

I end up arriving 30 minutes early.

I'm sitting at the bar, enjoying the rare chance to actually chat with the bartender (they don't do barstools in Oz--I think by making it unpleasant and awkward to sit alone, they're doing what they can to curb alcoholism). I'm not too worried about my friend and her BF showing up, and just grab a drink and chill. At 10 minutes to 7pm, I order food, so that it's ready by the time they arrive.

At 7:05, I get my meal and go to the back room where the performance is to take place.
I am still alone.

At 7:10, the show starts, and I'm sitting at my 4-person table, trying to eat my sandwich and provide moral support to the comedians. For some reason, when it comes to watching stand up comedy, I'm a total mom, smiling and nodding intently at each performer as though they're performing in their school's production of A Christmas Carol.

At 7:24, my friend and her bf arrive. I do not hide my annoyance, but I shake it off and proceed to watch the insane shitshow that was the Sunday night open mic at the Roxbury. Her bf takes a seat on the couch behind us, which I think is odd, but try not to overanalyze. My friend sits next to me for a few minutes, and then she gets up and joins her boyfriend on the couch.
I am confused.
I stay at my table for 4, which also happens to be under a glaring light, and finish my tofu burger.
Yes, tofu burger.

During moments of hilarity, I crane my neck in an almost Exorcist-like turn to make faces at the two people who had asked me to attend this event, but at some point on the way over decided that sitting with me wasn't part of the bargain. It seems, even when I am with friends, I am still at a table for one.

At 7:48, I left. The show sucked, and if I wanted to sit alone, I would have stayed in my room in Lilyfield. You that old saying, "I can do bad all by myself"? Well, quite frankly, the blacktress can do awkward all by her lonesome--even in an Indian restaurant while having an early-bird special.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We DID!!!

There were news cameras everywhere. When CNN showed images of Sydney, Australia, it was where I was. I got a text message from my Aussie mum saying I was on Australian news tonight. I traded numbers with countless people, suddenly bound by this camaraderie--so many of us joked that if it didn't go well, we were staying in Australia. I even asked one rando Aussie if he'd marry me. He laughed, then said "I don't know your name."
"Don't get caught up in details; this is a marriage of convenience."

I didn't think I would be crying today, but I was. Repeatedly.
When the jumbo screen tuned to CNN said "President-Elect Barack Obama" I felt more than I thought I would.
I felt a pride unprecedented. I felt as though who I was is now somehow more right, more worthy, because of what happened today. When I saw the First Family walk out and greet their crowd, my tears started flowing again. I couldn't stop. That this is finally America, this is seen as worthy, intelligent, beautiful, strong, powerful, positive. It's, as Sam Cooke sang, been a long time coming.

And maybe I don't have the right to feel that. Of course, there are still many red states, and I am not Obama.
But today, in Sydney, Australia, at the Democrats Abroad election coverage, I was surrounded by Americans, Australians, even Brits and Danes--and there was a sense of, as Aussies would say, "Good on ya, America."

Check out this shirt, worn by an Aussie guy:

Western Australians for CHANGE.

Since I've been here, I've gotten into so many conversations about the election. As I discussed Obama with one Aussie, she said something that stuck with me: "Like it or not, America's a superpower. When America sneezes, the whole world catches a cold."
With that kind of thinking, we owed it to ourselves to at least try something different. And today, not only did that happen, but we undermined the very foundation on which this country was built.

I missed being at home today, but I also felt, for the first time, that I was not alone over here. I hugged Aboriginals, I cried with people I'd never met. One Aboriginal man said to me, "You know, when there are whites and blacks at a party in Australia, the room is divided. You are seeing right now, what change is."

It seems that this time, America is spreading something that people actually want to catch.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Lady of Lilyfield!

Today's a big day, guys. I'm writing this post in my pajamas while eating my own place!!!

I moved into my place in Lilyfield 2 days ago, and so far so good. Well, except for the fact that I don't have a comforter and have been sleeping in 3 layers. Other than that, it's perfectly fine.
I'm in a part of a house that has been made into a precious apartment by an older couple. They rent out 2 bedrooms--one to a blacktress, and another to a cute German guy who has been here studying for 6 months.

I have never lived with a guy. It makes me fearful of being seen with morning breath and makes it near impossible to make a tooty--if you know what i mean. Luckily, I think I've scared him, too, because he doesn't hang out much and keeps his bedroom door closed. Yesterday, I got in at almost midnight (after helping BCB style the cast and extras for a TV pilot), and was shortly followed by the German boy, who clearly likes to hit the streets.

Lilyfield is a suburb in the "inner west," connected to the city by bus and light rail (a tram, basically). It's very quiet and boring, but I tried to see the bright side and remind myself that back home in Harlem, I journeyed at least 20 minutes when trying to see friends and have good times. However, the biggest difference is that I could get a train or bus 24 hours a day back home, and here, I have to rely on cabs after midnight.

And no cabs know where I live.
And, being foreign and new and all, I can't give them directions.

It makes for a really high fare and great frustration on the part of the blacktress.

I think the hardest thing about moving to another land is the little things--not knowing where to shop, not knowing how to get places, and not being able to just find a nice, cheap place to grab lunch. Making new friends is always rough, and being lonely isn't a shock. Neither is not having a job, or the fact that it will likely take me a while to get one; these things are rough whether I'm in NYC or NSW.
But when I'm searching on the internet for a grocery store and can't find anything closer than a mile, I lace up my walking shoes and wonder how the hell I'm going to make it a whole year here.

Okay, off to buy food and shampoo--nothing too heavy, though--I have a long walk back.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tell-tale Signs

So, I'm not much of a photographer. I don't like having my picture taken, and traveling solo, I find it awkward to ask a stranger to take my picture in front of a building. Whenever I am around someone, I make them take my photo just so I can send something to my mother and show her I'm alive.

However, I do really enjoy taking photographs of random humorous things. Luckily, Australia is chock full of them! Take, for instance, the snapshots below.

This sign, which I saw while driving through Kiama with my Aussie mum, means Brake for Wombats.

This sign was spotted in Surry Hills, where I was crashing with BCB. Remember all the ladies of the night I was telling you about? Well, apparently, they've got a union!
(What do you think I'd have to do to become part of the $carlet Alliance? Could I transfer credits from my NYC escapades?)

This sign was spotted in the Hunter Valley. I mean, I don't know who this Lindeman character is, but he's a doctor, so I don't doubt him.

"Children Left Unattended Will be Sold as Slaves"
This was in the beer garden at a pub in a town called Jamberoo.

Okay y'all, this next one isn't a sign-- it's actually the cover and a single page from a book I found while wandering through the Rozelle Markets this afternoon. Sydney neighborhoods are big on flea markets, where people mostly sell clothing and used books and dvds. I wandered over to one woman's table and lost my mind when I saw this:

I kid you not, gentle readers. This is for real!!! It basically teaches kids to count to 10 and learn the alphabet using the shenanigans of 10 black children. I really wanted to take pictures of each page--hell, I wanted to buy the book!--but the $20 price tag and the woman's growing suspicion of me meant I could only take one more snapshot. After learning to count to 10 ("ONE went to Africa and then there were NONE") it went on to teach the alphabet.

Does this make your heart hurt a little bit? This book was published in London, by a British company. Who do you think was the target audience?