So stoked on 2014.

I went into 2013 with an air of haphazard chaos. No resolutions. No visions. I thought I’d had it figured out. What started out a fantastic year, an Australia Day hitting near the top of my most fun days ever, was really only the beginning of the downhill rush. I wouldn’t call 2013 a bad year; a year of change, definitely. I likely coasted my way through February but my return from Thailand in March, saw me standing at a crossroads. We already know which road I took and the stories that followed. I’m not here to rehash those stories, I’ve told them already too many times. But what it meant was that I as I stood on a grassy hillside in Byron Bay and The Roots counted me into 2014, I was fully conscious of how I was going to make this year about me. The crew just before the stroke of midnight. I don’t really like New Year’s Resolutions, I think they are tacky and cliché. If you want to make changes, why are you waiting for a specific month to feel as if it’s finally okay to do it? For me, the reason that these changes came at the turn of the year was because I spent the last few months of 2013 stuck in a rut of the things that were getting me down. For the first time since August, I was somewhere really different. In a place where the mundane and the memories couldn’t haunt me for a little while. So, I wouldn’t really call these resolutions, more, reasons that I’m making 2014 {and each year from now} conscious years. Well-being years. 1. Taking control. First and foremost for me, this year is about me. Although selfish yes, not in the way that you may think. I want to be conscious of myself in a number of ways, one of those being the way I treat and affect others. It’s also about knowing myself, and grasping for the things I want. To really think about each decision and why I’m making it, for me or someone else? Is it because I want to be a certain way or because I feel like I should be a certain way? And I’m going to stop wasting my energy on those around me who seek only to drain others. I have caught myself in a few of these…

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The Share House

I remember vividly the day that my dad dropped me off at the terminal. I had spent most of the day with my brother and his fiancé investigating the San Francisco airport map in an attempt to avoid getting lost and missing my first-ever international flight. Of course I was scared shitless, maybe more of saying goodbye to my family than actually uprooting to move to a new country all on my own. I hate goodbyes. To this day, a goodbye, in any form, is one of the things I dread the most. I managed a tear-free exit from Dad, James and Ashley but as I walked down what felt like the longest hallway in SEATAC to the international terminal, I knew that I didn’t dare look back. My first two days in Sydney were in a tiny youth hostel in Redfern, where I ate little {mostly out of the uncertainty of not knowing where to shop} and spent way too much money on public transport. Thinking about my state in those days and comparing it to where I stood just a short week later; in the kitchen of a share house on Newtown’s Alice Street, it’s amazing how quickly your entire life can change. My search for a place to live during my semester abroad was one of a 21-year-old who’d lived all her live in housing provided by her parents or her University. I had no idea what I was looking for. I only looked at three places. The first was old and L-shaped. The interviewer was an older man, very kind and easy to talk to, but I sat in the overgrown courtyard with fear that this was all that Australia had to offer. The other flatmates were full-time grad students, they weren’t going to want to hit up the local bars with me. I foresaw a semester of loneliness. When I got back to the hostel that evening, a new ad had popped up on Gumtree. A nice share house of ten on Station Street in Newtown. Newtown was the place I wanted to be, the place where the students were, where I’d feel like I was at home on the streets of Seattle. Stepping into the old, white terrace house on Station Street was likely the moment that everything changed for me. Joanne, the landlady who organized the house, had picked me up and brought…

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It started with a show…

I’ve tried so many times to write this post. The truth is that the wounds are still fresh, too fresh for me to know the best way to put them on paper for all of you to read. It’s not like it was total devastation, it honestly just caught me so off guard. I didn’t expect to care at all, let alone so much. Today I see the person that I saw back in November, December and all of the months in between where I knew that I wasn’t who I saw in the pictures I’d painted over and over in my head. Somewhere since then, I almost lost me. But I got tired of each action I took having an ulterior motive. There are humps in the road that are harder to get over, there are things that my rational brain understands completely, yet the receptors connecting that rational brain to my day-to-day, that connection is lost along the way. Finally, the rational side is taking over. And I’m starting to see all of the things that I wanted for myself. All the things everyone told me to stop and really see these past few months. They’re splayed across a Pinterest page, notes written in the notebook beside my bed, and in the smiles of everyone else around me. This story takes place simultaneously with my last. This story starts with a show… It was a reggae show. It was a whim, a last minute decision to go. Amanda had it all planned out but my motives were merely to not spend a Saturday night alone, it was in a time when my weekends were defined by the number of bars I could squeeze in. Amanda had already told me about him. The first time, we were sitting in a cafe, on the corner next to the bus stop in Bondi. We were vehemently avoiding going to work, pretending in the chilly sunshine of a July morning that we lived in some kind of summer dream. We’d run into a friend of a friend. A cute one. When she’d brought him up my thoughts were still with the tall, dark and handsome English man that had just sauntered into my life and just as quickly back out. The photo she showed me was blurry, something snapped at a house party she’d been to the week before. I have snippets…

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August & Everything After

I left you with a story that ended in August, and it’s now November. I didn’t actually tell the whole story, there have been a few bumps along the road. Some were fun, some weren’t. I’ll start with one… Finally, I’d convinced a fellow American, a fellow sorority girl to take the leap across the Pacific. Finally. Katie Mac was always a shoe-in for the one that’d finally take that plunge. I visited her in her new home in Los Angeles in December of 2012, and one night she’d turned to me, in the midst of a drunken version of Secret Santa and said, I feel like Australia is my place. At first, I just smiled, because Australia was my place. Then I laughed at this little adventurer who’d never even been to the sunburned country. But I knew as well as she did that she would fit right in. You could probably put Katie anywhere and she’d find a way to have a great time, but she thrives in cities that are vibrant, controversial, laid back and full of good people. It wasn’t even her that told me she was coming, it was our mutual friend Jenn, who’d moved to Sydney the year before. Thailand Jenn. When she’d told me, I wasn’t sure if I should be ecstatic at a new friend finally joining me down under, upset that she had failed to mention it to me or just plain satisfied that I’d actually managed to convince someone that the life is better down here. The day Katie arrived, I was in a state. The messages to Claire and Elaine as I sat on a very surprisingly full train early on a Saturday morning consisted of ‘One more bottle they said, it’ll be fun they said… you assholes’. It’d been a leaving drinks for a much loved workmate, where we were splitting one bottle of wine between the three of us. One bottle turned into three and some management sponsored tequila shots. It wasn’t long until I was passing a lanky {almost sure ginger} bartender my number and heading to the Beresford via a cab ride highlighted by a Celine Dion sing-along. My hands were shaking like a junkie as I tried to snap a photo of my Katie, finally in a Sydney taxi. We’d arrived at her hotel, where she was being put up for the next two weeks, and I…

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Life after Thailand…

I know there has been a bit of radio silence on this end. It’s not like it’s anything new to you all – in fact, *knock, knock* is this thing on? Probably not. But I’m still here. I know you’re all a bit surprised. A lot has happened in my life in the past year or so. Some of it I’ve put on here; but most of it I haven’t. I read an article recently about whether or not you should share personal information on your blog. My view is that this wouldn’t be me if I didn’t. I may hold back some of the finer details, for a number of reasons, but in the end, this is what I have to offer you, because this is my life and this isn’t my place to weave stories out of thin air. I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. Ever. I’ve been in a state of euphoria and belonging that I never knew existed in the world. I don’t think I’ve ever been that content, that sure of myself and my actions in all of the memories I have of myself. It was weird timing, it started around November or December of 2012. I was working like a mad woman, but I knew that what I was doing was good, I was doing it right. I was appreciated and I didn’t mind putting in the hard yards. It was summer, which never seems to fail in making the most bleak situation shine. I was living at the beach, something that I’d dreamed of for myself since being a little girl, growing up in landlocked Spokane, watching Blue Crush on TV repeatedly. Surely you’ve head this story already… But the strangest thing was, I was in a state of complete chaos. I knew that my relationship was ending. My friends weren’t people that I’d known my whole life, but I just knew they were my people. Like in the Meredith and Christina way. We were reckless and fun, the perils of young professional life, of lack of funds, of complicated relationships and families half a world away, those things didn’t stop us. You hear it said all the time, but the world was ours. It took another four months for my relationship to spiral to a point of no return. I don’t remember the exact day that I…

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Tackling the Thai Toilet

This is not a story about poop.  I just wanted to make the clear. The Thai sun was searing down through the lower deck window as I surveyed the hungover Brit and Aussie backpackers and young European families on the ferry boat. As we finally got off the swaying boat, and shuffled single file from one boat deck to the other, my suitcase banged against the ankle of the young women in front of me. She huffed unappreciatively as I apologized. Too bothered myself to care if a stranger thought I was arrogant or not. We stepped into a sea of Thai tuk tuk drivers, hollering to take us to the resorts, or wherever it was we were going. I pushed through, attempting to mumble ‘No, thank you’ but coming off slightly more rude as other travelers pushed past. Jenn and I quickly split off down a back road, where we could see souvenir shops and guesthouses. Walking just ahead of Jenn, I could feel the irritation of the 100 degree day seeping into my fallen smile. Jenn, the positive one, chirped that we should jump into a travel agent, and see if we can find a great guesthouse to stay in. That worked for me, anywhere out of the sun. We stepped inside, wary that we might be getting ripped off. I was grumbling, not-so-silently about our lack of planning, while Jenn continued to chat with the travel agent in her cheery California accent. When the travel agent suggested, Lanta L.D. Beach Bungalow on Long Beach, we said that sounded fine. At around 200 ($6) baht a night roughly, we weren’t sure what we might be getting into. We arrived via a capped tuk tuk ride of 100 baht and were greeted warmly by the young Thai lady at the front desk. When we were shown to our bungalow, we walked into what Thai dreams are made of; a tiny bungalow with a front patio and hammock, a double bed with a mosquito net (complete with a giant beetle sitting on top) and a bathroom with a simple shower head, toilet and sink. It took well into the first night for Jenn and I to figure out how to flush the toilet. Jenn and I warned each other that if we never figured it out, we’d forgive each other for what might happen in the next few days. Thankfully,…

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Bangkok; like a scene from a movie

I walked straight out of Singapore and into the bustle of Khoa San Road. There were tuk tuks whizzing behind me, Thai market salesmen yelling bargain pitches at the hundreds of passing backpackers in words I had yet to grasp an understanding of. I looked around, feeling an inward smile, Jenn and Johnny so far ahead of me. At the risk of sounding like every backpacker in the biz, I couldn’t help being overwhelmed by the feeling that I had stepped straight into The Hangover 2. It wasn’t about street fighting monks and face tattoos but the feeling that a movie montage was unfolding around me. I was weary of hanging out on Khoa San, afraid I wasn’t really experiencing Thailand. The truth is I probably wasn’t, but this didn’t strike me as the go-to for tourist and backpackers who, only after their favourite Western treats, were afraid to venture further. There was something special here. Jenn’s high school mate, Johnny who is on a bit of a world tour, offered to show us the good times of Bangkok. After multiple lengthy visits he is kind of a pro when it comes to navigating and negotiating. We headed straight for a little old Thai lady cooking up huge plates of Pad Thai in the middle of Khoa San Road. Johnny explained our options to us, we handed over our 60 baht (approximately $1.97), piled on the chili flakes and sat on the curbside to enjoy. Within the first ten minutes of being fully immersed in Bangkok I had eaten my first street meal and made my first purchase {haggling care of Johnny}. I had secured myself a little leather shoulder bag that would save my life not only for the rest of the trip but on many a night out in Sydney, for the bargain price of approximately $9. We started the night in one of many roadside bars, ordering a beer for 70 baht thinking I was getting a deal; when an extra large bottle of Chang arrived at my table, something clicked in my brain and I finally grasped the fullness of being so grateful for every little difference that this place held from the land I call home; Australia. As Jenn and Johnny caught up on the ins and outs of the years following high school I sat in a silent state of contentment, watching as backpacking…

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the surf.

Bondi Beach, Australia As the white foam approaches, I know there’s only one thing I can do if I want to avoid the searing pain of salt water in my sinuses. The break is coming too fast for me to flip my cumbersome, yellow longboard so I simply duck, dropping my knees until I feel the rush of the wave curl over my head. It must be over, I think, and in the same second I feel the force of the ocean pulling my body in two different directions. The soft velcro of my leash pulls gently on my right ankle as my precious new Rip Curl surfboard is sent tumbling on a ride of its own. The bum of my board shorts scoops the clean, sandy bottom of the Tasman Sea and I slam my foot against it to get to the surface. A tiny ray of the last remaining sunshine reflects through the water as I break the surface with a gasp for air. Once I’ve confirmed I’m in the clear, I hop back on the waxy surface of my board and begin the grueling paddle back out to the beginning. As the waves pull back, it feels as though I’m hovering on the surface of the water and I see my friend Lise waving to me frantically as she simultaneously checks the sets coming in. Finally I make it out to the group as I watch a blonde-haired, t-shirt clad man glide effortlessly in front of me. I bet he’s from around here, I think. I bet I’ll be totally crashing his wave if I don’t get out of here. I bet I look like a seal attempting to survive a shark attack flailing this way. He passes. I float aimlessly just outside the swell. There are just so many people, my mind says, surely I’m the only one stupid enough to head out into this without knowing exactly what to do when that wave gets to me. My board wobbles under my weight as I make myself a sitting duck. Just don’t fall off. Then they’ll know you don’t belong here. Wobble, wobble. I lay down and start paddling just as I feel that my abs may not be able to keep me upright. They didn’t catch me. A monster comes rolling in, and I breath a sigh of relief that I’m on the outside and all…

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When the foreign becomes the familiar.

A little over a year and a half ago, I wrote this post about leaving your childhood home behind, and it resonated with a lot of people. At that time, I was sitting in my sister’s kitchen in Kennewick, Washington. We were having a fantastic summer, swimming with my niece and nephew, celebrating birthdays and just enjoying being fun-employed and traveling the world. As happy as I was to be at home, I was still a little bit lost. Living out of a single suitcase, unsure of where I would be living in less than one month. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the travel, but let’s be real here, I’m not as tough as I look. What did I do? I got on that plane at LAX, after two very long and very tearful conversations, one with Mom and one with Dad. I don’t know what I was afraid of. I just missed them and I hadn’t even left yet. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. photo credit But Australia was about starting a new life in an already loved city. So, things were chugging along just fine. I was working 12 hour shifts as a waitress in a swanky hotel {with a less than swanky paycheck}, Lorenzo was designing his digital dreams as a digital media student and we were living with eight other people in a cold house in the hipster superb of Chippendale. But something wasn’t right. I missed my friends and family, I was too time and money poor to explore Australia and I was worried that I was running out of time on my year long visa. Then, I became the business woman of my dreams, sort of. I didn’t realize what had happened until I went home at the end of 2012. When I finally made the trip back home for Christmas, something felt different. Suddenly, it all felt a little more like visiting. Being someone that doesn’t always grasp understanding right in the moment it took me a few days of reflection to understand just what was going on. Here’s the thing. I missed my life. I missed my home. Sydney = home. I know, I know. What an insensitive daughter/sister/niece/friend. But really, I’ve built my life here and it took a trip back to the motherland for me to see it. You know when you’re first starting…

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Sculptures by the Sea – Bondi Beach 2012

I’m clearly not very great at capturing a moment and immediately putting the words down on paper, I prefer to think of it as ‘living in the moment’ and attempting not to fall victim to the well-known stereotype of a blogger who only sees the world through the lens of a camera{phone} rather than experiencing it fully. Some would argue that I still spend most of my days behind the phone, but hey, work is still work, right? Here’s one of my favorite things about living in Sydney. This city loves it some culture. Some call it snobby, but I see it as a door always open, if you don’t want to participate, there are plenty of other doors and windows around here to look through. Each year since 1997, on the famous stretch of coastal pathway between Bondi and Tamarama Beach, for three weeks, local artists install some of their famous pieces for all to see. Some pieces are… interesting… some are beautiful and some are the kind of modern art that makes you mumble, ‘Well, if that’s all it take for me to get rich…’. However you choose to feel about art, this is still on exhibit to see. I’ve made it to this exhibit both years I’ve lived in Sydney so far, if all else fails, look at the immense blue of the Pacific Ocean sprawling out before you. Even a short 10-minute walk from my doorstep to the start of the sloping incline that would lead me to the artworks wasn’t enough to convince me to make the trek on a particularly humid day, or enough to make me change my plans and get out on the path until the second-to-last day of the exhibit. It was 7:15am on Saturday morning when my alarm buzzed. Usually I would shun an alarm at that hour on a weekend, but the brightness of an already high in the sky {slightly blocked} sun, and the extra two hours compared to my usual sleep regime, meant that I was ready for action. Jenn and I made sure that we had a Bondi-perfect coffee in hand before we started the long walk to Tamarama, but we didn’t waste too much time, as to ensure that we didn’t get caught in a swarm of early-rising tourists. Our third companion was Jenn’s newly arrived (after 4 months of waiting) Chihuahua, Jameson. Much of…

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