Powered By Props! Part Two!

When I'm in his room I stare at every corner, scan every wall; I try and memorize the colors and size and shape, intent on remembering exactly what it looks like. I would like to think that this behavior will afford me the ability to remember what it feels like to lay in his bed, and so to remember what it's like to lay and stare at the midnight greyscale contours of his back and shoulders. The nape of his neck. The slope of his arm that leads to his bass-string calloused fingers.  The way how, in the morning, he will look me full in the face with these bright blue eyes and his cheeks will dimple when he smiles.

Things here are not going as planned.

It was the week I left Brooklyn, I think, when I first began to wonder how this place, this country that I had dreamed of visiting for so long, would actually measure up to all of my expectations. I feared finally arriving and having to feign delight on the internet, that I may just have to push through these few weeks and return home accomplished, but glad to be home. Unfortunately, that's not what happened at all. It's much, much worse.

My friends here, Ben and Thao, grew up together; they've known each other since they were children and have a huge circle of friends who have all known each other since high school. And it's weird, because I've seen them, I feel like I already know them. I have watched their photos populate on the internet for years, I've seen the results of all of their parties, seen them hold their birthday gifts to their faces while posing for photos that I have seen all the way in San Francisco or Seattle or Brooklyn. Now I'm here, and I've met them, and they are all twice as wonderful as I ever thought they might be, and I never anticipated that they would welcome me so warmly and I definitely never thought I'd end up in one of their beds.

"Bang an Australian for me," Acacia messaged me before I left. My girlfriends back home are all so concerned with my heart these days, of it's fragility and how I will fare like this, and Acacia is one of those, like me, that believes in taking an active hand in such recoveries. "Yes, I will, tenfold," I told her, and that first morning, my first Sunday here when I woke up in his bed, I assumed it would be the first and last time, that I would move quickly on to the other nine.

We didn't part until early Tuesday morning.

Things here are definitely not going as planned.

"You're amazing," he tells me, often actually. I say 'he' like I still live under this weird requirement of secrecy surrounding who I'm sleeping with, but I don't these days. Not anymore. So I can tell you that he, Ryan, or Raz as he is colloquially called in his circle of friends, tends to purse his lips after he says this, tilts his chin down just a bit, and then stares right through me in this way that fucking kills me every time. I think it was about a week ago, last Friday night, when I countered with a long, drawn out "Fuck."

"What's wrong?" He asked, his brow a bit furrowed with concern.

"It just occurred to me that I actually like you. I really like you. And I don't live here."

The next morning when he dropped me off at home he mentioned how weird it was that we had only known each other a week. He meant it kind of jokingly, just to note this crazy turn of events.

It was incredibly sobering.

This isn't what I wanted, this is too hard. I didn't plan on meeting some perfect boy, I planned on meeting many seemingly perfect boys, boys with Australian accents and no last names and no consequences and who gives a fuck. I wanted to drink beers with my friends and then rifle through some unaffiliated locals, and now, instead, I flew back from Sydney eight days early to lay the long night next to this slight bassist and pretend that I never have to leave.

And it's not fucking fair, you guys. You know how you're always telling yourself that you're going to turn a new leaf, you're going to fall for better men, that you are no longer willing to settle, but then you inevitably do it again? What if you found that man that ticks all of those boxes for you--that one who is kind and gentle, who knows what he wants, who looks out for his own future, is creative and complimentary and dynamite in bed--what if you found that man and you were two different nationalities? And what if you knew full well that this might not even be real, that maybe it's just some manifestation of this foreign city and everyone in it; what if it's just his accent, or his beautiful house, or the way that he leans back lazily in his bed and aimlessly picks out an AC/DC song on his guitar? But what the fuck you guys, how am I supposed to tell the difference when this feels identical to the real thing, but I wont have enough time to find out for sure?

Things here have not fucking gone as planned, this wasn't supposed to happen. I just did this, I just left another boy in Brooklyn and cried all the way to Shanghai, and I can't handle this again. I just can't. And I think about returning to China and I can't handle it, and I can see New York in my minds eye and I want to cry, and the only place I can even imagine being other than right here in Melbourne is down south, in Atlanta, in my sister's spare room in the basement, where there's no chance that I would meet anyone new and have, again, to leave them.

I can imagine that room, the room where I stay when I'm down in Atlanta. I can see it exactly as it likely sits right now in my minds eye, and no, this isn't what I had planned. But I can remember what it feels like to be under my sister's watchful eye, under her roof, in her care. The way that, in the morning over breakfast, she will look me full in the face and smile.

We've decided were not going to talk about it, Ryan and I. Not until 16 hours before I leave. 16 exactly.

Things here are not fucking going as planned.

So my only plan now is to trade his room for hers.


Walkabout Part 3: I'll be coming home soon.


So last Sunday afternoon I found myself sitting at a booth at The Northcote Social Club with my mouth wrapped around a kangaroo burger and my mind wrapped around the then burgeoning idea of not coming home. Sitting across from me was Ryan, he went to high school with my friends here, and he was explaining to me how he wished he’d never decided to become a musician.

“Worst. Career choice. Ever. I don’t know what I was thinking, I mean, musician? Who does that.”

“I do,” I answered, “I mean, I’m not a musician. But I want something I can’t quite put my finger on, and I’d rather look for it forever than not look at all. And this year, this next one I mean, I want to do something amazing.”

“Like what?” He asked.

“Oh. Oh, I don’t know yet.”

Five Americans checked into my room last week, for three days, and it was the worst three days of my life. They were so fucking loud and obnoxious and kept calling me fucking Mandy, and didn’t seem to understand how much everyone fucking hated them. Their first night here, they came back home at three or four in the morning, screaming drunk and singing and banging about and turning the light on in a room with two German girls and I who are desperately trying to sleep.

“I’m worried about the Germans, dude. We prolly need to shut the fuck up soon.”
“Yeah,” another one of them responded, “but Mandy’s cool, she’s one of us.”

The first day was hard. I got interrogated for three hours coming through customs and lost my wallet, including passport, in the ladies room before I had even left Tullamarine. But you know that part. I've told you already, haven't I? I'm just pretty sure I haven't exactly said that it was sometime Sunday afternoon, after eating kangaroo for the first time, that I was positive that I would absolutely and without question fuck off my plane ticket back if I could figure out a way to stay. 

I fucking love it here Noah, this place feels like home. You would love it too! It's like a mix of my hometown and New York and my friends here are amazing and and there are rivers and bridges and late, late nights and chilly mornings and whenever I even so much as think about coming back to New York I want to fucking cry. I would do anything to stay here in Melbourne. 

Well, almost anything.

"Just marry an Australian! That's my plan when my visa expires." That's my girlfriend Gina's advice, and our Welsh friend Laurrie concurs. Seriously, that's really their plan. They each have already chosen a hopeful, in Cairns and Perth respectively, and should everything go as planned they'll be well on their way to Australian citizenship long before their work permits expire. 

But that seems completely insane to me; in fact, it all seems insane--staying here, going home, flying to Florida, coming back to Greenpoint in February. It all seems so weird when I feel like a completely different person after having finally come here, and now I'm just trying to decide what exactly that amazing thing is that I should be doing next year.

I'm on my way to Sydney for a couple days, so I decided that for my last night in Melbourne for a bit that I should cook Ryan dinner. I was getting ready to roast a chicken, so I put a few stalks of Rosemary on a cutting board and began to chop it finely with a chefs knife.

"Well look at you! That's just how Jarrod taught me how to do that. You can really cook, huh? You're like...not really American, are you?"

"No," I said, shaking my head, "I'm not really like a lot of them. I mean, I'm here. How many Americans do you meet routinely in Melbourne?"

There are Canadians, there are Brits. There are Irish and French and Germans. But Americans are so sparsly represented here that I stick out like a sore thumb, and yet, Noah, I fit right in.

I'm flying to Sydney right now, I'm at the airport, actually. I was supposed to stay ten days, but the boys were very adamant about me coming back.

"Go. I mean, you have to go to Sydney. Go see the Opera House, take a peek about," said Ben to me a few nights ago with Thao and Ryan's agreement, "but then just come home in a couple of days."

There's so much, Noah. There's the minutia of being here and then there are the big things of being here and neither can I quite put words to yet. But I'm trying to stay calm, to just focus on my freshly re-booked flight back to Melbourne on Wednesday and not the big looming plane on the 30th back to Shanghai.

I think of your fucking perfect face and I hate that you are far away; I miss everyone in New York and I wish you were all here, but I don't feel like one of you right now, and I'm not sure exactly who I'd like to be.

I love and miss you.



Powered By Props!

So there I was, in St. Kilda, Victoria, watching the sunset over the bay while seated at a corner table draped in painfully bright white starched table linens, and pouring the absolutely most delicious oyster I may have ever tasted onto my tongue straight from the shell.

"The weirdest thing, Miranda," This is Ben Quick speaking from his seat across from me, "is that we're like old friends! We have so much to catch up on!"

Ben, or Quicky as I've always known him, spent a year in Vancouver B.C., and has been to both Seattle and San Francisco. But that's not how I know him. Not exactly.

It's probably time for a little history lesson.

You see, years ago, back in 2005 soon after I first started IAAJD, some friends and I were putting together a multi-con blog called Team Tenderloin when I found a little South Carolina based blog called Four Ninja Food Groups. It was the funniest thing I had ever read so I was, of course, immediately obsessed. As I read it, I kept noticing that this one amazingly hilarious kid was commenting on post after post, so I linked to his blog through his profile, read his entire annals in one sitting, and wondered how he had stumbled upon a South Carolinian blog all the way from Melbourne. That was Thao Nguyen, or Thaozee as I've always known him, and through his involvement in a Canadian Blog War I mediated that spring, we've been buds online ever since. Quicky, whom Thao had blogrolled, is his best friend.

Excuse me: mate. Best mate. Lord, I'm so bloody American.

Within a year or so, half of the Four Ninja Food Groups kids, whom we all kept in touch with, moved to San Francisco to join our gang. You heard that completely correctly--Pant, Kristen, and Moto were all part of Team Tenderloin within about a year, and to this day I think the only member of FNFG that I haven't met in person is Muffin.

Let's just pause and appreciate handles, just for a moment. Mine back then, if you were wondering, was Milkshake.

Anyway, Thao and I have birthdays very near each other, and almost every year be it on Blogger or MySpace or Facebook, we've always made these elaborate plans to meet one day and have an incredibly extravagant joint birthday party involving capes and masks, plastic weapons, skateboards, garbage trucks, all night indie punk rock, and lots and lots of laughing with our fists stretched to the sky.

So there I was, last Friday, on Tattersalls Ln. in the Melbourne CBD, and I'm snaking my head around a hundred moving bodies looking for a familiar face. Near the bar, in the back, I finally saw someone flash me a peace sign, and my face erupts into a smile when I realize, for the first time ever, I am gazing upon my dear friend Thao.

Some of you are new and some of you are old, and you may not have read us all back then or maybe you did, but in a way, none of that really matters. This blog, as silly as you may deem it, is real. It describes and leads to very real relationships and that's just one reason I'm not so keen on giving it up again these days. And hey, maybe you only read me because you're friends with one of my exes and you need info to report back. Maybe we were once best friends and you'd like to know what I'm up to. Maybe I sat on the edge of your bed inside of two weeks ago and watched your face flush when I told you I was in love with you and now you're trying to fill in the blanks between my scant text messages. Whatever. I love all of you, read away. Just know that sometimes, because of this little site right here, people take rights when they might have otherwise taken a left, and now I am an American in Melbourne surrounded by friends. And you are reading the very blog that has made that possible.

And maybe those friends introduced me to more friends. 

So you should expect a part 2.


p.s.--There are some alarmingly funny and cool links peppered throughout this post. Click away.


Walkabout Part 2: We are all over the place.


I don't even know what to say.

In fact, I'm not sure what day it is there--was it five nights ago? It was the night of the fifth, right? When I left you on a cold street corner in Billyburg a little too early having sighted an empty cab. I just wasn't ready, and it's weird because I'm here, I made it, and I don't feel ready to be here.

My whole body hurts. I've walked miles and miles in the last few days, and I'm just so goddamned tired, and I got my period the other day and fuck if I could figure out how to buy tampons in China. People [obviously] speak English here so tampons are brilliantly easy to purchase, but like everything they're so expensive that while standing at the checkout counter I pondered whether or not they were composed of solid gold.

I've made some friends. Canadians tend to gravitate toward me and thankfully they're everywhere. Last night I met this girl Dayna from Toronto and we went to this warehouse bar called Workhouse--upstairs there's this enclosed deck with a half-open leaded glass peaked skylight, and it reminded me of an odd hybrid of Tandem on Starr and The Hemlock on Polk. But Sally, those two places are 3000 miles away from each other and I'm even farther than that from either. And I miss you so much that it hurts.

Last night, underneath the Brooklynesque skylight on the San Franciscan smoking deck, Dayna asked me what, if anything, had I left behind in New York.

"Do you have a boy back home?" she asked me after relating a similar story of leaving a boy in Italy for the repose of the southern hemisphere.

Not exactly, I tell her. No, I guess not, I say. It's complicated, it's so fucking complicated for me, and when I left you on that street corner I knew that no matter where I went that night I was bound to regret not making the opposite choice, so I shut myself in the back seat and rode silently to South Brooklyn already missing your face.

A few nights previous I was laying in Noah's bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering what it is that I would miss the most of New York. The view from The Penthouse maybe, or a PBR in a frosty glass on a sunny patio, that stroll up 1st to 12th when I'm coming to the East Village on the F. What will I remember the most fondly? After a while, what will really stick with me?

I knew it would happen, but I had to decide so quickly and I didn't know what to do. So I left my bag there promising to return, and I left your goddamn angelface on a fucking cold street corner and traded it for a couple hours of hormonal freedom, a firm grip on my hip, a strong hand about my shoulder, a thick shock of my hair wrapped tightly in his fingers, and fuck. Sally. It was just so goddamned wrong. It was all so fucking weird and yes, I mean the fucking. It just felt so foreign and strange and completely unlike anything that one might imagine sex might be with someone you've been sleeping with on and off for seven or eight months, and I mean, I knew I would regret leaving you in Williamsburg that night. But I never thought the regret would set in as soon as a couple of hours later.

But I'm here, Sally. I'm on the continent that has graced my dreams for 26 years, and all I can think of is your perfect little face and your puffy coat and red curls, your overstuffed couch and the bottles and bottles of wine, and the way that you might, if you were near, tell me that this too will pass, that this tangled web will soon unravel and we will stand triumphant. Because we are young! We are all over the place, and we are restless. We are 32 and we are Brooklyn. We are San Francisco. We are both coasts and hemispheres, we are curly, curly hair. We are art, we are craft, we are so fucking smart, we are sad and poor and laughing fucking faces.

We are love, Sally.

And I miss you like a heartbeat.