Zuihitsu Noodle-Soup

“You’re Still Young”

I’ve had this phrase batted around at me for a good while. I’ve always been the youngest of my friends (till I met some amazing people online, but more on them later), and the only child, so this phrase is one I know in my sleep, upside down, inside out, ad nauseum.

Don’t worry. You’re still young.

In regards to finding a life partner, traveling the world, experiencing something scary, jumping out of a plane, eating haggis, anything and everything in every range and spectrum. Don’t worry, you’re still young. And I understand the sentiment there, I understand that it is to encourage me not to worry about not having experienced some things because I “still have time” to. Because I am still young.

Now, as much as I understand the sentiment, it annoys me somewhat.

Obviously it’s never meant to be malicious or cruel. Teasing, perhaps, but never outright unkind. But in its own way it feels like a way to stop someone doing something. Because hey, you have time, because hey, at your age I hadn’t done it, so you can survive not having done it either. Fair, true, but at the same time restricting. You get told more and more that “don’t worry”, and you stop, for a while, and suddenly you’re not eighteen anymore, you’re not twenty anymore, you’re twenty five, and the things you had wanted to do seven years ago you still haven’t done.

Because you’ve got time.

Now, I always panic before birthdays. When I was younger it was because I wanted a certain gift, or a certain person to show up to my party. Now I don’t have parties anymore, contented to stay home and do what I usually do, on any other given day. But I panic, now, because of age. Because my personal view of what is ‘young’ is slowly slipping away to something different than what it was before. I am still at the childish age where I feel that 30 is the official end of your life, where you are too old for uni, too old to have kids, too old to find a partner and that if by 30 you have not done things, you are officially dead.

Yes, I know how lame that sounds, considering most of my friends, now, are in their 30s this year or damn near close to it. And they are doing just fine. But that said, most of them have significant other, have traveled, own a house, have a child. The things that I am terrified I will not manage in 5 years, they had had when they were my age, and it’s stuck. So I’m scared. And hearing over and over that I am still young doesn’t fly anymore, because back when I could say it was 12 years till I turn 30, there was no worry there, now I have 5 years left and they are looking the size of a peanut at a shooting range.

There are a lot of things I want to do. I want to travel, I want to meet new people, I want to meet my person, I want to write and get published, I want to get out of NZ for good and live and work elsewhere. And from the perspective of someone who has been 25, of course this is laughable, because of course I will have done all of this and more by the time I hit the terrifying 30, of course I’m still young.

But like the idea of a labyrinth being different for those walking within and those looking above, I can’t accept that mindset with a calm composure. For me, being nearly 25 is terrifying, because I don’t feel young anymore. I don’t feel that I have time anymore. I feel like this is it, and if I don’t do something this year I have officially failed as a person. If I don’t travel far and I don’t get published and I don’t find someone I will be alone forever, I will be unpublished forever and I will be stuck here forever.

For me, forever is 25 years, because that’s all the lifetime I’ve known.

I don’t have the safety of a perch to know that I will be okay. I don’t know if I will be okay. I suppose no one does.

It doesn’t help that I have an impulsive personality, that I am impatient and scared of things. It doesn’t help that I can’t save, that the concept of “putting money aside for a few years” sends me into a cold sweat, and it’s nothing to do with the person who has told me this, or that I don’t trust them. It’s that I suppose I trust the words but do not believe them. Like being told, as a child, that there is no monster under the bed, you know there isn’t one, because your mum bent to look, but you still don’t believe that once the door closes the monster won’t magically come back.

It’s such a silly fear, and I know I will look back on this in 5 years and – hopefully – laugh at myself. I hope I do. But right now, with a month till I turn the dreaded 25, I am scared shitless that I have done nothing up till this point, riding on the reassurance that I shouldn’t worry, I am young, I have time. I don’t anymore. I am not young anymore. I am a quarter of the way through my life and I have done nothing in it that is worthy of much mention.

I just want that to change, this year, even a little. And I really hope it does.

Going to go panic in silence, now. Hope everyone is well.

Ciao,

BANDIT


Brain Bugs and Recommendations

I’ve had a rant about this on Tumblr already, and I suppose ‘rant’ is the more negative connotation of what it was that I did. I ‘talked at length’, say, ‘got irrationally sentimental over’ this particular topic so I have decided it warrants its own blog entry, because why not? I’m not holding a weekly blogging schedule anymore, I have time and freedom to post what I like, why shouldn’t I?

What I have found, in recently months, is that I adore people giving me recommendations. Not just because I get to discover something new and fun, but because of how people approach the concept of recommending something to another person. I guess, I never really thought about it in such depth before, because it had never felt so significant before. The thing that triggered this was two amazing people in my life recommending things to me that I would usually never touch.

Weird, right? You would think, with them knowing me, but that’s not quite what I mean either.

Let me explain.

Last year, a wonderful artist friend of mine (let’s call her Ego) and I got talking about books we enjoy. Ego and I have an age difference of several years – I’m older – and a vast difference in experience. I shan’t disclose any information here, since she has not granted me permission to, but I can tell you that we are a world apart when it comes to things we fear, things we find normal and things that we find triggering. Regardless, we got talking, and decided to do a book swap, one book for another, through Book Depository.

I sent her A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, she sent me House of Leaves by Mark Z Danieleswki.

To be honest, I had no idea what to expect from Leaves. I had never heard of it before, I had never thought to even look it up, but the way Ego talked about it, how it was such a great read, and so exciting and wonderful and well worth the time and money investment, I couldn’t not give it a try. So I read the forward.

I had very, very twisted dreams after that forward.

The next morning, I got talking to Bee, and I find out that Leaves scared her intensely when she herself read it. This, already, is a warning sign. Bee is scared of nothing. Bee is a fearless dragon woman. If Bee got scared by this book, I was doomed from the get-go. So, as any clever person in my position would, I continued to read the book. I am halfway through and I can’t read it unless someone is home, and I can’t read it if I want to sleep that night.

To say the book is outwardly horrific? It isn’t, not at all. In fact, quite literally nothing happens, and perhaps that is what makes it so frightening. I can read it without responding at all to the content beyond taking it in, but as soon as I put the book down, as soon as the light is out – it no longer ever is – I feel absolute, cold, bone-deep terror down to my soul. I see what Bee means, the surrealism of the entire experience is both super gratifying and entirely impossible to describe. I suppose it’s my equivalent of adrenaline junkies or extreme sports: extreme reading.

Now, the reason I went on such a tangent, will be explained a little later on, just several more paragraphs of verbosity, but you’re used to me, I’m sure you can handle it. Let me add one more experience to my repertoire before we discuss.

Several months later, I got a recommendation online to watch a film called City of Lost Children. Again, something I had never heard of before, something I had never looked up, but it came highly recommended and so why not, right? And Bee said I would like it too, so I went to check it out.

Immediately, red flags pop up: I may not have heard of the film but I have certainly seen the cover before, and the cover made me feel exquisitely uncomfortable and nervous, so I never clicked the film to see more about it. It is warned as being horrific, frightening, not for children et cetera ad nauseum, and again I had to wonder, for just a moment, why would Bee, who knows how much of a yellow-bellied thing I am, recommend me something that would make me – in theory – wet myself?

“Because it’s like a fairytale, and you like those” came the reply.

Now, here is where we start the actual discussion of this entry, now that the pre(r)amble is out of the way. First up, I guess it’s fair to ask why I got so excited over the fact that things that I would never like or never did like, were recommended to me?

Because they thought about this before they recommended it to me, but they thought about it from their perspective.

Ego, who has vastly different experiences, found House of Leaves a good, enjoyable read. To say it’s not enjoyable would be false, but I do have a lot of trouble sleeping after it, I have a very hard time being alone at home with that book, I have a hard time being anywhere without people and light. She did not respond that way at all to the story, but she wanted to share the experience of a surreal novel with me, because she thought I would enjoy the mental gymnastics.

Bee, who can stomach anything, thought I would enjoy City of Lost Children because I like fairytales, never once thinking that the creepiness of the film itself would be enough to put me off ever going near it. And this is what I find interesting, and this is where I sat up like a little dork and decided this was worth over 1000 words of your time. This is not an intentional blindness, this is something else entirely, this is an experience blindness, and it is entirely involuntary.

As we all grow and have our own experiences, we begin to take them a little for granted. Not in a bad way, but it does happen. I forget, sometimes, that people I know cannot ride a bike, and although I myself couldn’t until I was 12, I taught myself and it fell immediately into my mental list of ‘done that, don’t matter’. It is filed under my personal experiences, I have done that and been there and no longer fear falling down and grazing my knee, say, where some people who have not ridden a bike before, may.

My friends, in their experience, did not see either the book or the film as frightening, because to them, with their experience, they were not. Perhaps they had seen worse, perhaps their personal fears are entirely different, but for one reason or another, they did not find these mediums at all disturbing, whereas I find both to be. To be fair, I have not yet seen City of Lost Children, I admit myself to scared to, I will seek more advice from those who have seen it and gauge my way that way (apparently it is not as frightening as Pan’s Labyrinth, which simply means it was not reality-based violence, entirely different to something like Silent Hill, which is fully computer-game-violence and still chills me to the bone. You see my dilemma).

So I guess in short, after 1300 words, I find it amazing that people recommend things with an entirely different imagining of the end result than the person who they recommend it to. I’ve noticed this with myself, recommending a much-loved book only to have the person I had thought would love it to tell me they never finished it and got bored, explaining to someone that the end of the film Solaris (the Tarkovsky one not the shitty American remake) gives me chills and endless nightmares only to find that my mother thinks it is a beautiful and hopeful ending.

I think it’s amazing, honestly, I think it is so cool.

So I suppose I wanted to share that. Have you ever been recommended something that you felt was entirely not your thing, and found it to be? Had the opposite? Where you thought you would adore it and ended up thinking it was awful? Have you had success? Transcending between the two? Have you had opinions match up?

Let me know, always keen to!

Ciao~

Bandit.


This Is The New Age

This year, so far, has genuinely started off well.

I say that while knocking on wood, and crossing all my fingers in hopes it continues to remain that way as days unfold to weeks in 2015.

I usually avoid new year’s resolutions, because they end up hounding me like devils on my shoulder when I fail to fulfill them, but I though I could, instead, make myself some new year’s suggestions.

I’m learning a language again.

Yep, thanks to inspiration from the lovely Jack, I’m going to pound up my brain and get my German up to scratch. That, at least, I have an app for. What I only have the starter app for is Greek, which I have found incredibly enjoyable, and am seeking now to work my way around nitty gritty paying-$166-for-a-language-course protocols to get the full lesson plan for. If all goes well there, I will have basic Greek by mid year, and average German by March. If all goes better, Icelandic is next.

I tried Danish.

I don’t think I want to try Danish again.

Also, Hebrew is proving near-impossible, I am a shame to my ancestors.

I’m returning to my love of photography

Yes, yes I am. I’ve opened up an Instagram account where I try to post daily photos, some I took that day or week, others from a while back but re-edited and livened up. So far so good, I am rather proud of a few. There are a few amateur photography contests that I plan to enter, if only for the sake, so we’ll see how that goes.

Perhaps I can brush up on Photoshop too, if I can coerce the Twins to help me. Photoshop and I are acquainted in that I know how to shake hands with it. Otherwise we hit critical communication error and I meander my way through the basics trying to keep my head above water.

Should be fun.

I’m attempting this ‘movement is good, body appreciates’ thing

AKA my ‘suggestion’ regarding exercise. I hate exercise. Far as I’m concerned, it can go burn in nasty places, but alas, I need to look good for May so I find myself at a crossroads. Swimming maybe. Something solitary. The thought of joining a group or gym makes me genuinely cry so that is on the list but far below the last point (which was swimming, a lot of blanks follow). Either way, something will happen.

I’m going to be fearless

Yea, I laughed too.

This concerns personal image and confidence, trying new things, trying scary things. My best friend is a junkie for all things amazing, I cannot be like her but I can take baby steps. Super baby steps. Like taking the subway in NYC and hoping I don’t get mugged or murdered.

I’m going to travel

This year, I am off to Florida, New York and Iceland! Meeting amazing people and hanging out with my bestie. Yes good. Now just to count down the 130-odd days till my flight leaves, save up for a transfer flight from Florida to NYC, and for the ticket home. That last one is optional though.

I’m going to write, get published, and be proud of all my work

This has a lot to do with bestie (let’s call her Bee here). Bee and I work 2 full time jobs, she’s at Kickstarter and I’m where I am, and together we write as well. Upwards of 10 hours a day, every day. Blogging and scheduling has become an actual job, I feel busy again, and I am incredibly proud of the work we do together.

I haven’t felt this confident in a long time.

Publication… I will keep my lips sealed, knock on more wood and hope. Always bloody hope.

-=-

So the year is looking fairly busy and exciting so far, I’m feeling good, I am surrounded by supportive and positive people in my life and I want to try and keep this confidence up. We’ll see how it goes, I suppose.

What are your new year’s ‘suggestions’? Let me know in the comments, I’d like to ressurect this blog again if all goes well, and it would be great to see you guys again.

Ciao!

Bandit.

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Live, Learn, Rinse, Repeat

What airports taught me:

– most of the plugs don’t work. If you find a plug in an opportune place, more likely than not it will be inactive. Charging stations must be found and defended with your utter indifference to everyone else. That said, everyone’s indifference wavers fairly quickly.

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– if you’re hungry, you’re probably just bored. Unless you are in the middle of a 9 hour layover. Then you’re not only hungry but half alive too.

– you meet the nicest people at the airport bars. Like 4-year-olds who climb onto a stool that is their height to sit next to you, and hold long, indepth conversations with imaginary barmen. “I would like a cocktail, please, with alcohol. As you can see, I am eighteeneen. And a chicken sandwich. And chicken salad. And roasted chicken. And an alcoholic cocktail please, yes.”

– the carpets are not at all exciting.

– the slow moving flat pathways are very exciting.

– there is wireless internet if you know where to look. It actually works in countries outside of NZ.

– USA airport security is almost funny with how ridiculously overdone it is. You remove shoes, bags, jackets, go through three scanners, two more scanners and then a handheld one for good measure. Also if you decide to take an empty shell casing from the firing range with you, be prepared to call Washington to ‘make sure it’s not a threat’.

 
What the desert taught me:

– there are many types of desert. But similar rules apply in all of them. Namely:

– absolutely everything has thorns. So don’t touch it. That cactus? Don’t touch it. The bush? Nope. The grass? You guessed it. Also fire ants. Everywhere there are fire ants. Don’t touch those either. I think they have thorns too.

– absolutely everything is alive. There is nothing dead in the desert. All the plants and shrubs and gnarled branches are thriving with life, if not their own, then sustaining another’s.

-tumbleweeds are really big. And very fast.

– you don’t feel the heat. BECAUSE IT IS DRY HEAT. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SWIM IN IT. Your body registers that it is hot, but it is not difficult to endure. Unless you’re in Blyth. I have no idea how people live there.

– wear sunscreen.

– it is quiet. The silence of it is one of the most incredible things in the world.

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What the Grand Canyon taught me:

– there are no words to describe the magnitude of it.

– if you see three guys standing on the edge of the canyon that is quite obviously past the safety fence you should not jump… You overcome your absolute terror of heights and you jump the damned fence. And you stand on the edge and spread your arms and you feel alive for a change.

– mule deer are quite literally everywhere. Look for white butts in the shrubbery.

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– when watching the sun set, do NOT watch the sun. Watch the canyon. Watch it come alive with color and light and space. And breathe.

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What camping taught me:

– when it gets dark it stays that way. Use a torch. Unless you have a fire pit going. Because then, if you trip gracefully over the grille you had set meticulously to the ground not moments before and promptly forgot about, all you need to do is avoid falling into the aforementioned fire pit itself.

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– the stars are endless. Find a place to lay down and watch the sky grow simultaneously darker and brighter with more stars than you can possibly imagine.

– a camera, no matter how spiffy, cannot catch the starlight

– sometimes one must pee in the forest.

What the open road taught me:

– in America, people drive backwards. Remember that. That’s a good thing to know.

– likewise, your indicators and your windscreen wipers are now reversed. Congratulations on wiping your way into a passing lane.

– Route 66 is a long stretch of light-colored road that goes on forever. It is a roadtripper’s dream.

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– everything unravels slowly, like watching a photo develop. First, the mountains. Then they grow, and fill with color and detail, and you realize there are more mountains in front of those, and valleys under those still. And you really are not a stone’s throw away, but miles and miles.

What Las Vegas taught me:

– everyone is nice. Everyone.

– each casino is a city. Some are a country. Caesar’s Palace? Welcome to Rome. The Venetian? Canal rides through Italy. They are stunning and intricate things, and built like a maze.

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– there will inevitably be a store for everything. Granted, it will be the designer version of what you need, but it’s there.

– every slushie on sale has alcohol in it.

– if you have to leave the Bellagio for a Cirque show in the MGM Grand, give yourself half an hour to walk there. It looks like it’s right there. It’s not.

– believe it or not, parking is free everywhere.

– a performance by the Bellagio fountains if worth a standing ovation.

– if you walk past Elvis outside the Bellagio, say hi. Really, do it. Because he will end up inevitably being originally from your home town, speak your language, and the nicest guy. Thanks, Ukrainian Elvis, you actually made my day that day.

– going to a firing range for the first time in your life will prove not only fun but successful. I now have a higher chance of surviving a zombie apocalypse. When you go to the Strip Gun Club, ask for Chris.

What San Francisco taught me:

– THE WEATHER IS THE SAME AS AUCKLAND. IT ISN’T THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT.

– you can see for miles from any hill.

– houses cluster on every hill like ants, and they are all different colors.

– you can get everywhere on the Bart.

– sadly, the gorgeous red bridge is too far to go for one day of exploring, but Pier 39 is well worth that sacrifice.

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– the Rock is popular. Book in advance.

– Chinatown feels like China. Explore it. And definitely find a place to eat.

– the cable cars are adorable and utterly beautiful.

– stop at the cathedral, listen to the organist practice for Sunday. Close your eyes. Put your head back. Breathe.

What the Last Bookstore taught me:

– look for the neon sign you walked past 3 times. It might help.

– it is a maze, a labyrinth, a hideaway and my new favorite place in the world.

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– it actually has books by the Strugatsky brothers, by Clifford Simak, by Alfred Bester amnd Poppy Z Brite. Or it did, before I bought most of them.

– it is in a dodgy part of town. Make sure, when walking home through it at 11pm, that your paper bag of books has at least one hard cover one.

What Los Angeles taught me:

– Big Man Bakes is the most appropriate and delicious breakfast.

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– driving in L.A. sucks.  also Figueroa st is the longest street in the world.

What airplanes have taught me:

– you fly in em enough and they are not so scary.

– there is never, ever,  enough leg room.

– use the butt end of a plastic fork for the touch screen menus. You will have more luck than with fingers.

– the food isn’t bad anymore.

What this trip has taught me:

– my online friends are the most incredible people in the world.

– this is not like New Zealand where it takes, at most, 15 hours to drive the LENGTH OF AN ISLAND. You will still be in one state if you drive that long.

– don’t underestimate the desert. If you think you have a pebble in your shoe it’s probably a thorn the length of your knuckle joint.

– embrace everything. Except the cactus in front of your motel.

– live.

– learn.

– rinse.

– repeat.

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And trust me on the sunscreen.

Safe travels,

Bandit, OUT!

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This City Never Sleeps

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Las Vegas is the city of insomniacs and daydreamers. Of sound and color and light. Its heart beats with the footsteps of hundreds and thousands and millions of people.

It is a living city.

The best word to describe it is Alive.

Las Vegas truly is alive. It never sleeps but always dreams, is not afraid to push and pull and twitch within itself, against the desert around it.

Las Vegas is loud, it’s exhausting, it’s hot and busy and filled with people.

I’m in awe of this place.


A Grand Big Hole

There are no words to describe the Grand Canyon.

The sheer magnitude of the place, the power it holds…

You see it in glimpses and it’s beautiful and the excitement is palpable, but then you step up. You hold the railing and you breathe in and then you don’t breathe out again. Because in front of you is this:

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I actually climbed to the edge of it and sat with my feet hanging off. Photos later but… there are no words for how small you feel. How dwarved. How utterly humbled.

I will never forget it.


And miles to go…

Today marks the first day of the official roadtrip from Arizona!! First stop: Grand Canyon.

Tomorrow morning.

Right now we are kicking it Winchester style in a motel room. But at least we know what state we’re in:

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Since I, too, am slowly close to passing out for a nap, I will do my utmost to narrate the last few days for you quickly and well.

Yesterday,  cognomen took me to Tombstone, an awesome little wild west town out by Sierra Vista. It’s a place where you show up and see people dressed as cowboys, with spurs and Stetsons. Old taverns and inns, gorgeous horses, old stagecoaches and a gentleman’s club unchanged since the 1880s.

That place was amazing. It looked like the Moulin Rouge set and god, it was all so tiny!! I can’t even imagine the place when it was full, with smoking and drinking and screaming and sex. Everywhere sex. Ah the wild west.

Honestly, I haven’t had this much fun in ages.

I am now a proud owner of a Bailey felt hat, an 8 ft bullwhip and a rock, gifted to me by an absolutely wonderful guy who led a tour through the Good Enough silver mine, as a “person who travelled farthest to see Tombstone” trophy.

Now, sadly, the gentleman’s club is allowed to be photographed but no photos may be posted on public media, so I can only leave you with my new favorite ad from 1881to keep your spirits up:

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After, we drove a little way out to a ghost town called Fairbank.

Utterly gorgeous place, and I will post photos when I’m on a computer and not the tablet – my camera memory card can’t fit into this one – but it was also a place of a tragic personal injury.

Tragic. Simply appalling.

For those who remember the Lord of the Rings special edition DVD interviews, I would like you to recall the story of Billy Boyd’s splinter incident. In short, something that hurt SO MUCH that he was certain he had cut his foot off. Turned out it was a splinter so small you could barely make it out.

Mine is the opposite to that.

We were walking through the old cemetary – incredible place – and back through dust roads like this:

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When I felt a stone in my shoe. Just something uncomfortable but nothing to write home about.

And yet.

The further we walked, the more it hurt.

Turns out, at the end of all things, I had had something a little more intense in my shoe. To be more accurate, piercing the bottom of my boot. I had this:

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Little tomahawk of doom. Was shoved right into the flesh of my foot. Needless to say it hurt.

Ah well. Injuries won’t stop me now!!

And with that, darlings, I leaveyou for the night. More to come. Here’s hoping our weather remains just as good as yesterday.

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Bandit, OUT!!


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