If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to see it, do you hear the sound it makes?

I know I would still be writing. And I would still be reading out loud. I think that if you are any kind of an artist, then validation is just sort of… it can be a result, but you’re going to do the work anyway. Because you’re just wired that way. It’s so engrained, it’s such a part of your personality that you don’t just stop doing it. Eventually I’ll retire on some level, eventually no one will want to buy my books or a ticket to see me read, it’s inevitable that’s going to happen. Uhuhuhuh fake cries But it won’t stop me from writing. I’ll just write about how sad I am all the time.

– David Sedaris on whether he’d persevere as a writer without validation.

If a tree falls in the woods, do you hear the sound it makes?  If you write and write and write but don’t get the feedback or recognition you need to push on, does it matter?

Yes and no.  I’d write anyway, just because it’s the only way I can organise my thoughts and when it’s quiet, I enjoy writing just for myself. I enjoy the tap-tap-tapping on a keyboard, I enjoy writing on a thick pad of paper and I enjoy the solitude writing gives me.

On the flipside, I don’t enjoy the solitude when all I hear are the voices in my head. If I write for myself, sometimes it feels selfish if I’m the only one getting anything out of it.  I would prefer if my writing was doing something for someone.  Probably because it’s been drilled into us in school and uni and whatever that if you love something, you should find a way to share it with the world.

I see how that works, but also … does it take the fun out of what you love, if you put a monetary value on it?

I love to write, but sometimes it doesn’t come easy. Right now I’m on fire, but I’m emoting and I feel like because this is just me on a rant, it doesn’t matter what I write.  I had a previous role where the writing tasks were draining, so much so that one Easter long weekend break I went home alone (while my husband and friends went out for a post-work drink), polished off a bottle of wine by myself, ate a wheel of blue cheese by myself and fell asleep in front of the TV watching old episodes of 30 Rock.  My husband came home and found me passed out on the couch like a chick flick cliche.

It was one of the worst nights of my life, and it was the beginning of the end for me with that role.

Ironically, though, I wrote about that experience in a long and frustrated entry in my journal the next day.

I decided I would write because I love it, and to stop focussing on the money and the recognition.  There is so much around making what you love the thing that you do for a living. It is hard work … but it has to be worth the hard work.  If you come home at the end of the day and the hard work just doesn’t seem rewarding anymore, then … what’s the point?

But writing is different. It’s kind of like a habit now. I’ve come so far from being someone who denied herself the right to finally embrace my love of writing, that I can’t abandon it now.  I wrote for myself before, but now I feel like I can share that with others.

If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to see it, does it make a sound?  Yeh of course it does. The reality is, a tree dropped from an upright position and crashed to the ground, and yeh, that makes a loud sound.  Whether anyone was around to witness it or not is irrelevant.

I want to make a sound with my writing though. I want people to hear the crash as a piece or post or article hits the ground.  I want people to come running into the forest to check out the noise, “What was that? Who did that?”.  They don’t need to be rich people. Or beautiful people. Or important people. Because I’m not one of those people.

So I’ve dropped something, which has taken me years to put together as it’s been germinating in my head for a long time.  I’ve finally knocked that tree down.

http://mylocalworld.com.au/

From my welcome note on my homepage:

Welcome to MY LOCAL WORLD, which I hope will soon become part of YOUR local world 🙂 Get outside the world you live in, and discover multicultural experiences right here in your own home.

This is about bringing the world to you, and in the process, discovering that it is, in fact, a small world, after all.

I’d be delighted if you could check out the tiny noise I’ve made. Maybe as more people join you in the forest, the sound, in hindsight, will just grow louder …

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The only thing you need for a trip is curiosity

Travel. But not just to “exotic” places.

You’ve got a 9-5′er.
You’ve got kids.
You’ve got debt.
You’ve got no money, seriously.
You’ve got an expired passport.

What you’ve got are excuses.

A walk beyond your front door is travel. The only thing you need for a trip is curiosity.

– Something I read off the Matador Network site

In 2009, I was debt-ridden and living back home with the parental unit (thanks Mum! xxx). While friends and family were traipsing the globe having wild adventures, I was stuck in Sydney shovelling money onto my credit card.

I could have lived like a hermit, but I chose instead to discover all the cultural places, food and events that Sydney had to offer, recreating a kind of mini world adventure in my own city. It’s become the way I explore my city now, and finally I am getting serious about it and sharing these amazing finds via a new blog, MY LOCAL WORLD. It’s not ready (yet), but it’s coming, and I can’t wait to see what else is out there, and discover more places with more people!

If you have any suggestions or contacts for anyone wanting to showcase their cultural cuisine, event or spaces, feel free to contact me here or at hello@maysays.com xxx

My Local World ... coming soon to YOUR local world xxx

My Local World … coming soon to YOUR local world xxx

Room in my brain to breathe …

Just arrived home in Sydney after a whirlwind trip to NYC and Chicago, two of the busiest, brassiest, badass-est cities I have ever had the privilege of visiting, and it was spectacular. I got to enjoy both with all the time and energy I could muster, and I now that I’m back home, I feel, despite all the sight-seeing and walking and constant late nights out, really, really really refreshed.

Why? Coz all I did while I was away was focus on BEING AWAY. I left work at work. I left all my responsibilities of home at home. All I had to worry about while I was gone was how to be gone and how to enjoy being gone.

I didn’t write. I didn’t take many photos (OK, some). I didn’t update my social media accounts often (semi-often, mostly just inane shots of weird stuff).

I just enjoyed being away.

It’s the first time since maybe July of last year that I have felt relaxed. Even though there was the Christmas break, countless public holidays and even days where I worked from home, I was running on all cylinders and I was burning out. I was still plodding along, but “plodding along” isn’t conducive to anything exciting, and I didn’t want to just go through the motions of work.

I NEEDED this break like I needed air to breathe.

Windy City Awesomeness
In Chicago, I was lucky enough to enjoy it with two great friends and my equally great boyfriend, who calls Chicago home (although he is now currently based in Sydney). Had I been half-assed about spending time with my trio of trouble, I would’ve missed out on how funny my friends are – every little stupid joke and every new “American” encounter cracked us up. I would’ve overlooked the pleasure on my boy’s face in seeing him traipse us around his hometown with pride – he loves his city and he was proud to show it off. I would have gone to bed the night we went to an improv show at the famed Second City comedy club (alumni include Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Bill Murray and the janitor from The Breakfast Club). I would have baulked at the crazed Chicago Blackhawks fans at the United Center (saw two pretty nail-biting games – and I don’t even follow ice hockey!). I would have clamped up at Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the 7th Inning Stretch at a game between the Cubs and the White Soxs at Wrigley Field. I would’ve turned down every Chicago down, every tamale, every piece of Deep Dish Pizza.

Blackhawks Game at the United Centre

Blackhawks Game at the United Centre

Breathtaking Big Apple 
Had I carried this “can’t be bothered” attitude In New York, I would have flat-out refused to walk the Brooklyn Bridge (“It’s too hot!” or “It’s too long!”). I would have insisted on cab rides everywhere instead of being adventurous (and money-wise) and catching the subway. I would not have waited in line to go up to the 85th floor or higher of the Empire State Building. I would not have discovered that Williamsburg was like Surry Hills, only a little more Brooklyn-ier (and everything Surry Hills wishes it was). I would not have tried for tickets to the David Letterman Show taping (imagine having a “we’ll never get tickets to that” – coz we got ’em!). I would not have walked around the East Village with no goal for the day. I would not have taken in the awesome-ness of the Big Apple. I would not have partied at the top floor of The Standard on a stormy night watching the city below light up. I would not have let the World Trade Center memorial affect me as much as it did. I would not have let anything affect me as much as it did.

Even my flight delay was a breathe of fresh air. I got to rest for free in LA and sleep in a bed in a hotel, a welcome addition to my travel plans considering my impending 14 hour flight from LAX to Kingsford Smith. I finished 2 books and started a third (reading, not writing).  I people-watched. I ate two meals consisting of pasta with a glass of wine each because I wanted to use up my travel money. I bought trashy mags and caught up on my celebrity gossip (is it just me or has Kim Kardashian been pregnant for like, FOREVER? Also, what happened to that moon-faced kid from Nickelodeon’s The Amanda Show?). I slept and napped. I got up to stretch. I read a little more. Then I napped again.

And now I’m home, and it’s not only the places I visited that I will remember fondly. It’s the fact that this time around, I did NOTHING but be away from home.

I know there will be a shit-storm of work awaiting me tomorrow, a flat to clean, luggage to unpack, groceries to buy, laundry to attend to and quite possibly apples I forgot to eat that are probably dying in my fruit bowl (gross), but I’ve come back with the lesson that I can be as busy as I want to be, but I need to take some time to breathe.

It’s good to be home ❤

Dee Why Beach, NSW

Dee Why Beach, NSW

It’s Not So Bad …

…And it’s not all about Boracay either.  I mean yes, it is still about the beaches and whatnot, but at least it isn’t Boracay (again).  Which is beautiful, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there twice, but it’s nice that a travel article set in the Philippines wasn’t about the weird shit the locals eat, or that tiny tiny island in the south somewhere, or about Manila.  Dirty, dirty Manila.  

In an effort to forget the fact that I start another year of the rat race tomorrow (OK, today, since it’s very early in the morning right now and I can’t sleep. OK, won’t sleep) I went online to search for new destinations to use my passport in.  It took an hour on Facebook and on my yahoo email account to finally find the information I was looking for.  The Philippines.  If Che Guevara can travel around his continent, why couldn’t I do the same with my country of origin?  Oh yeah, that’s right.  Coz there are zero means to facilitate that.

Or are there?  I found out about Tao Philippines and how it was started by two blokes who simply loved the place.  Well done to them.  And if it’ll bring in more tourist dollars and get people out of the fugly malls when they visit, then all the better. 

Ok *sigh* the malls aren’t fugly.  In fact, the really big ones are actually quite nice.  But you can kind of find the same thing anywhere.  And yeh ok it’s cheaper to get pampered in Manila than it is in Sydney but bloody hell there’s only so many mani-pedis a gal can have, right? 

Plus on TLC all they show about the Philippines is Anthony Bourdain’s disappointment in not being shown an “authentic” Filipino experience, and that weird bald dude who eats weird shit and how thrilled he was to try balutLook it up – it’s pretty nasty.  So it’s nice to have a fresh perspective on the country.

For the record, I’ll head to El Nido one day, if only for the simple reason that supporting another region of the Philippines would make me feel like I’m doing good, and giving myself a holiday too.  But for now I am wiiiiiiiiiiide awake and writing does nothing to relax my mind, only fire me up.  Hating getting back to reality tomorrow.  GROSS. 

Man I really can’t sleep …

A week flies by in ye olde Cusco town ….

… so i´m back at the internet cafe up the road again coz i calculated that with the exchange rate I am paying about 2-3 soles for internet usage, which roughly calculated (and I mean roughly) is about $1.00 AUS.  PER HOUR.  Bargain.  And I haven´t played bejewelled blitz yet!! Although I might tonight … my buddy in Calca ís coming into town tomorrow night, not tonight, so I have tonight to just laze about …

yesterday though i met up with my new buddy carlos who is a local and who showed me around the non touristy parts of the city.  don´t worry, i was like completely on my guard and i was all ready to make up a fake ass story about my fake policeman boyfriend who trained with the army and has a black belt in karate etc. etc.  Luckily it hasn´t come to that (we´ve met up twice).  he just wants to improve his english, his father owns a restaurant right off the plaza de armas where a lot of tourists go so i guess he needs it.  he makes me say things in spanish, i make him just tell me the answer.  last night it took me aaaaages to explain the difference between ¨stick¨ and ¨steep¨.  but he pronounced them both the same way so i had to really emphasise the p and the k.  gettin there …

anyway we went walking a little ways outside the plaza de armas to the san pedro markets and into other little plazas that kind of run off the main big one.  this month is fiesta month in cusco so in pretty much every little plaza there is a band playing, like trumpets and drums and all that kind of stuff.  all very good music to listen to but nobody got up and danced, they just kind of sit around and watch, and when the band finishes the song, they don´t even clap!!!  but they sit there and listen attentively, so i guess everyone is kind of diggin the music …

we also went into a monument that you can walk into and learn about the 12 incas who ruled peru or whatever.  anyway i didn´t take much in i was more interested in the view out the tower.  the monument is a massive inca king ( i forget which one) built on a big tower and you can walk all the way to the top and see a 360 view of cusco.  i haven´t gotten sick of the sight of the mountains yet.  being the massive westie that i am, i took a photo of the inca tupac amaru, look it up, wikipedia it or whatever, 2pac´s mother named him after that guy!

then we went a-walking again and we ended up in a big plaza where some schoolkids were practicing their dances for whatever fiesta they have to perform in and i asked carlos if he knew any of these dances.  he said he had to learn some in school for the same reason as these kids – to perform at a fiesta.  he said all schoolkids had to do it.  he asked me if kids in australia ever did that kind of thing and i said no.  then he asked me what traditional australian dances were like and i didn´t know what to say!! i mean it´s not like we ever learnt any aboriginal dances, and i hardly think the do-si-do at the vinegar hill woolshed counts in the same category!!!! then it got cold and carlos had a thin jacket (whereas i had my all purpose north face jacket which has been great) so he hailed me a cab and i went back home. 

they don´t eat big dinners here.  the big meal is lunch.  teresa prepares a massive lunch, which at the time of eating seems like i´m never gonna see the bottom of my plate but i tell myself to eat it all coz dinner doesn´t exist, traditionally.  you get a bit of bread (pancito con queso) and some mate de coca and that´s it.  so you better eat your lunch or you starve!!  breakfast is usually again mate de coca, a bowl of fruit, a bit of bread and a glass of juice.  it´s keeping me really regular hahaha.   sorry!!!!  lunch is usually sopas but really filling with veggies and some carne and then you get the main meal which could have a piece of meat like chicken and then there´s rice and then you might also get some potato or sweet potato or something.  the other day i had rice, a quarter chicken and this potato thing WITH FILLING.  potato reanos, i think??? anyway it was yuuuuuuuum!!!!

on thursday night there was a massive procession in town for Corpus Christie, which is this Catholic celebration where all the districts in the Cusco area bring out a float that represents something biblical. OK, not really anything biblical all I saw were floats with either Mary or Jesus on them.  But they were very decorative and again there was lots of music and in this case, there was a bit of dancing.  All the floats do a lap of the Plaza and then they make their way into the cathedral.  A lot of people were out watching the parade and I went nuts with the camera.  I tried to get into the cathedral too (coz I haven´t seen the inside of it yet) but there was a lot of commotion happening outside, and then while all of that was happening, a band would start playing their music so there was a lot to keep a gal occupied.  i´ve noticed though that of all the tourists here, the majority of them are probably from other parts of South America, and even from Lima.  So all you hear is Spanish from the crowds.  People tend to address or greet me in Spanish when i walk into a shop or whatever so I guess that´s why.  the non south americans like me are walking around in their north face gear and trekking shoes like their already hiking the inca trail.  the actual south americans look normal.  hahaha.

on the way home i could smell some bbq thing so i bought a bbq thing on a stick with like a mini potato on top.  i don´t know what animal the meat came from but it didn´t taste like pork or beef or anything.  i have a strange suspicion i may have eaten a llama!!!!!  but then again i could be wrong i saw the lady mix the marinade and she put a bit of coke in it.  coke??!?!?!? and you´re meant to put some sauce on the potato and it looked like gravy so i put some on the potato and it was a little bit spicy but it was not bad!!!  still, the meat did NOT have same consistency as beef or pork!

today (saturday) there was a fete at the school to celebrate the new part of the school opening.  again, i went nuts with the camera.  i´ve promised the teachers that I will give them copies of my photos on monday – lucky i brought my cord!!!  the mayor of the town was there and everything, and there were dances from the students and the traditional dance performances from other dancers.  even the teachers played a game of soccer/football – the primary school teachers against the high school teachers!!  the primary school teachers won and all the little kiddies were cheering their teachers on. that was pretty funny – that would never happen in australia!!!!!

the kids had to parade into the school grounds with the rest of their grade and they loved that i had the camera there – i´d wave and they´d wave back and yell ¨professora!¨or ¨¨proffe!¨.  it was pretty cool.  some of those kids are right lil posers hahah.  the teachers are all pretty nice and they´ve been pretty good at dealing with my really broken, slow spanish.  one of them refers to me as la filipina coz he knows i´m australian but he´s already asked ¨tu papa eres?¨and that´s when the mystery of why i don´t look typically aussie is solved.  it also confuses the hell out of every cab driver i´ve had. 

school´s still a little frustrating though.  sometimes the kids fight in class and they run to me and dob on someone in their class and i´ve got no idea what they´re saying or who to discipline so i just say, ¨no mas¨and lead them both back to their desks and i check their work.  they´re really proud of their work when they get it right and they´re really disappointed in themselves when they get it wrong.  like, they run to either me or the head english teacher to show us that they understand something and we very encouragingly go ¨ohhhh! muy bien! well done!¨  and then they smile and go back to their desks really proud of themselves hehehe.  i´m still getting stickers and hugs on a daily basis.  it´s kinda funny walking home from school with stickers on my jumper.  the other day i went into town with a massive ben 10 sticker on my tummy (that´s as high as the first grader could reach) and i only realised it when i got home!! d´oh!

after school once i went to a massive market near the schoo called el molino (which surprise surprise actually is in the lonely planet guidebook!) with the other english teacher and i hear this little voice go ¨miss eriiiicaaaaa!¨and it´s a little kid from school with his mother awwww!  it´s nice that kids here are so friendly …

today at lunch juan, teresa and i watched the game between usa and england.  juan even moved the dining table so we could see the tv better hahaha.  i honestly thought teresa wasn´t into the game but in the final 15 minutes she got very animated and started yelling at the tv hahahahah!!!  juan looked at me, pointed at teresa and shook his head, as if to say ¨this woman!¨¨.  lol too funny!!!  juan explained that he goes for any team that is american, so that´s any team from south or central america, and the usa.  peru didn´t make it into the world cup.  needless to say he was pretty chuffed that usa drew with england.  i was not impressed that england let that goal in!!!! 

teresa asked that i not call her senora or juan senor coz it´s too formal heheh. 

teresa told me that there is a mass at the cathedral in the plaza de armas and seeing as i need to buy a bloody boleto turistico to get into the place, i might as well go and say a little prayer in a church built in the 1400s .  you can get in if you´re attending a church service.  but the mass is at 8am so we´´ll see.  i´m not having a big night tonight so i should be alright.  then i´ll meet up with my calca buddy, and tomorrow night i will meet more buddies for dinner at some carne place. 

i signed up for extra spanish classes and it also includes salsa classes and that´s where my money has gone.  have not seen the sacred valley or sacsaywayman yet coz you have to buy a really expensive boleto turistico which gets you into all the big sites or you can pay separately.  untill i figure out my card situation i´ll wait a while.  there´s a lot of non touristy things to keep me occupied.  i start those classes on monday evening so it´ll be good i hope. 

the other guys from lima who i met during my first weekend in peru are coming up soon so that´ll be good.  i´ve walked past a few of the touristy pubs and clubs in town and they look a lot like places back home, only with the novelty of being in a foreign country so i´m in no rush to see them.  plus, i can´t drink that much due to the funds issue. 

anyway i am busting for a loo and i might have to find myself a packet of popcorn or something to tide me over untill dinner.  yes, they eat popcorn here and lots of it! unbuttered, unsalted.

=)

Hola muchachos!!!!

have made it to lima in one piece.  didn´t sleep for shiton the flight here but that´s ok.  i had to RE CEHCK MY BAGS when i got to LAX, which just makes me hate that airport more than anything elsein the world, can´t believe i had to re check it even though it was fuggin ticketed all the bloody way to lima!!!

anyway am overall feeling pretty good because i got a good night´s rest last night at the homestay in miraflores and also because once i was at the departure gate for LAN peru not one person spoketo mein english and i kinda got what they were saying to me!!!  i mean they spoke pretty fast buti got the gist of it. 

landing in lima veeeeery late  last night was a bit of tripput though coz i couldn´t find the guy picking me up but it took less than 5mins to find him and then i was off to miraflores.  his english was a thousand times better than what my spanish currently is. 

anyway took a little walk today just around miraflores areaand later on this arvo the homestay lady is gonna take us out.  actually i think she´s doing that now so i better go.

overall am damn happy to be here right now.  got lots of stuff swirling around in my head but i´m in a bit of a rush …

met the other volunteer though and he is a dickwank.  ´nuff said, 

they say it´s cold here but i dunno i´m pretty ok, i´çmin  long sleeves and i´m not cold, but the homestay lady (armina) and her maid (yes, maid) said they found it cold …

this area reminds me of makati except not pollutrf, not overcrowded and not dirty.  so the buildings are a mishmash like they are in makati but it´s so not like makati. 

ok i´ll write more later.

adios!!!!!!

Night before flight ….

… need sleep.  Am not as nervous as I was an hour ago.  I’m actually quite tired now.  Am fighting the urge to play “one game of bejwelled blitz” because it will turn into “seventy thousand games of bejewelled blitz”. 

Should do one last round of checking that I’ve got everything but really can’t be arsed because whatever I’ve left can’t be all that important anyway.  How much is a full-body alpaca snuggy anyway?  I can wear that to bed in lieu of actual PJs, right?

Flight is about 1-ish tomorrow arvo and I’ve already got plans for the 14 fuggin hour flight to LA.  I’ll brushing up on my Spanish.  And by “brushing up”, I mean “annoying the person in the seat next to me”.  Lo siento, buddy. 

Arriving in Lima will be the real test though.  But I’m not going to worry about that untill … I actually arrive in Lima. 

And I’m out … like I said this blog is in lieu of emails so this is it for now.

*Peace sign*

Packing begins ….

                                                              

… Packing $hit, that is …

I went on weather.com earlier today and weather in Cusco and Lima seemed ok, top temperatures for both places were 19 degrees celsius.  Not a problem there, Sydney gets that kind of temperature all the time.  And after the -21 degrees celsius I survived in Prague, I’m pretty sure I’ve experienced the very worst of my winter experiences.   The thing that got me about packing was the fact that I was packing at all.  I blame The Goonies and The Mysterious Cities of Gold for making me want to go to Peru.  All that wild adventure shoved in my face after school all those years ago made me do this.  And I thought helping a community would be kind of nice, instead of roaming around being a regular tourist.  So this is all kind of adventurous for me, and something I thought I would never do (i.e. could never afford).  But I’m three sleeps away from boarding first a plane to LA and then another plane to Lima.  So this is real.  THIS IS REAL. 

My Spanish could use a little work (I’m taking all my Spanish notes with me – classes are helpful, thank God!) and I haven’t ever taught a class but I’ll be ok.  I don’t really have a choice, I HAVE to be ok. 

So this blog is gonna be me just rambling about what I’m doing coz it’ll save on emails and I don’t even know if I can get global roaming up in Cusco.  We’ll see. 

I am hoping I will have a life-changing experience.  Life-changing in a good way, not life-changing in the “I now have no sense of smell” kind of way.