Why Write?

Sometimes the psychology behind our compulsions is clear: We want to eat because we are hungry, or perhaps we link the idea of food to comfort, or freedom or simply the chemical satisfaction of a sugar rush, however short-lived.

We want a cold shower because we are over-heated or feel uncomfortably dirty, or because for us it marks the end of another day; it has become a mental cue that we can relax and enjoy the remainder of our evening.

We want to fuck because millions of years of procreating tells our crocodile brains this is how we continue for another million. And because society tells us, relentlessly, that we should all constantly want sex (then slaps our wrist and calls us a slut for having it. Dick move, society).

But there are other things we feel compelled to do, and it can take us a long damn time to sort out the root (heh. Root. It’s funny if you’re in Australia) of the drive, if ever we do.

I feel compelled to share stories from my travels in a public forum, and it’s taken me a long time to figure out why. It finally came to me upon returning to Mellish Park, the North Queensland cattle station on which I worked four months of last year.

Photo credit to Bridget Webber. I feel this photo rather successfully portrays exactly how entriely in the middle of absolutely nowhere I am right now. (Let’s ignore, for the moment, the sequence of events that led me back here and focus on the epiphany regarding my desire to blog.)

Photo credit to Bridget Webber. I feel this photo rather successfully portrays exactly how fully in the middle of absolutely nowhere I am right now. (Let’s ignore, for the moment, the sequence of events that led me back here and focus on the epiphany regarding my desire to blog.)

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A Holiday Service Announcement From RTI:

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I do not celebrate Christmas.

This is not news to anyone that has known me for some time but, because I move around a lot, there are some people I’m currently close with who have not known me for some time. This message is for you.

I haven’t celebrated Xmas for a number of years now. I used to be quite (read: very) soap-boxy about my hatred of all things yuletide but throughout the years that fanaticism (like most of my fanaticism) has relaxed to more of a dulled disdain.

Or, in some instances, evolved into a disturbing embrace of holiday iconography.

Embracing the holiday iconography perhaps more than peeps intended me to for an Xmas KitKat party in Köln.

There are facets of holiday celebration I’m more than happy to partake in; the parties and get-togethers and the like. I like spending time with people I like so, really, whatever the excuse – boom hells yeah lets go.

I will not decorate. I feel for the Earth, poor struggling whelp that she is. It does not bring me joy to string sparkly reminders of our diminishing rainforests from one corner of the room to the other.

I don’t do carols. They are terrible and make me want to kill myself. Or at least stab myself in the ears.

But above all else – I don’t do gifts. This is not exclusive to Xmas. I do not do gifts for any calendar occasion. I do do gifts, occasionally. . . just not when I’m supposed to.

This confuses a lot of people. Allow me to explain more fully: Continue reading

Hey There Victoria + Thoughts On Mental Excrement

One last ride: Saying bye to my boy ❤

In the end, I spent five months in Northern Queensland: four months working as a jillaroo for Mellish Park, and one month working as a ‘resort assistant’ (I had to come up with a title for ‘vagabond that lends a hand with the kitchen/housekeeping/meteorology stuff’ for my CV. That is what I went with) at Sweers fishing resort in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It has been six years and 30 countries since I first left Canada to ‘see the world’ and I would rate my time in Queensland among my richest travel (hell, life) experiences to date. I have learned more about myself these past five months than ever before. Continue reading

So Here’s What Happened

I was living in Melbourne, Australia. At first I was working in a cafe but eventually got sacked for no other reason than everyone got sacked when the owner decided to hire all of his friends to replace us. Which, as is becoming a recurring theme with most shit things that happen to me, turned out to actually be good: it meant that I ended up getting hired on at Absolute MMA and Conditioning, where I’d been training to fight in Mixed Martial Arts. Because becoming a cage fighter is totally a legitimate career change for a 30 year old woman. Continue reading

Catalyst

A short while back, the founder of Australian Girls in Gi (if you’re a woman practicing Jiujitsu in Australia, get in on this awesomeness) posted a before and after (training Brazilian Jiujitsu [BJJ]) pic of herself that prompted a very moving thread in the group’s Facebook forum. In it, a large number of women came forwards with their stories; of how BJJ had helped them in battles against everything from anxiety to overcoming childhood trauma to adult hardships like difficulty conceiving. It was inspiring to have so many women come forth to speak openly about their issues, insecurities and the ways in which they were battling them to create healthier, happier lives for themselves.

Inspirational: She is it.

But a weird thing happened upon reading it. At the same time I felt inspired, I also felt very, very depressed.

Because I tried a couple times to add my own contribution. I’m a big fan of sharing openly the things we typically hold inside, whether that hesitance to share comes from a fear of rejection or social conventions we were raised with and just can’t shake off. But each of these gals, even the ones still in the heart of their issues, came across as success stories whereas I was feeling like I was. . .still failing. Continue reading

The Enviable Art of Letting Go

Let go

(Photo credit: Brandon Doran)

Several months back I was given a stellar piece of advice from a friend who has, throughout the years, given me many stellar pieces of advice. I was attempting to write a submission for a travel writing scholarship that I badly wanted and was having a lot of difficulty with it. When I would write casually, words would come easily, and I’d enjoy the process. But, in striving towards perfection with this submission on which so much was riding, I found myself staring at the screen of my computer with a head full of useless static. Words blurred, sentences ceased to make sense and the harder I tried to focus the more my brain responded with a chorus of ‘no no no no CAN’T’. I was upset and disheartened that the times I most needed my fancy wording skills seemed to be the times they saw fit to wage a surly strike.

My friend, a writer herself, sympathized. She knew the feeling of wanting to polish the shit out of something, to do the absolute best you could with it and, in putting that pressure on yourself, ironically strip yourself of the confidence and focus necessary to do so. The trick, she pointed out, was to relax, and to accept the fine art of ‘good enough’. Which boiled down to her very quotable conclusion – “Care deeply. Then let it go.

I am not good at letting things go. I am good at wanting things. Fiercely. Continue reading

You Are (t)Here

Some of you may have noticed the discrepancy between the date on which the events of the last post occurred, and when it was actually posted. That 3 month gap has been, I’ll admit, a bit of a digital thorn in my side.

I am waiting in line at immigration. The power in the airport fails and a collective groan sounds from the line. Several minutes later, I am in conversation with an Irishman just returning from a trip home, and he is giving me tips on finding a flat in Melbourne.

But it’s been a whirlwind couple of months. And through it all I was making notes, snapping shots and writing down post ideas like a good little blogger. But I arrived in Australia already lagging behind, a chunk of my time in India still left to upload and I just never. . .quite. . .caught up. Continue reading

Our Heads Are Assholes

Thurs, Jun 21, 2012

My head was screaming at me in a language of shrill white noise, a tangle of displaced emotion and swirling, half-finished thoughts. When I wasn’t fighting off the urge to go and sob uncontrollably in the corner or just stop and ragdoll in the middle of the floor, as though someone had flipped my emergency ‘off’ switch, I was drowning under the dual crushing weights of self-doubt and self-reproach (In the very moment I originally typed this, I was actually fighting off an insistent urge to just curse, and hurl the computer across the room. This is fucking useless. I suck at writing. I LOSE AT LIFE).

What catastrophe, might you ask, was looming on the horizon? What could compel such a strong, crushing emotional response from this shining example of human strength and stability?

I had just booked my flight to Australia. Continue reading

So. . .This Isn’t a Travel Blog?

Uh, well. . .sort of. Whether or not you can call On the Road to Ithaca a ‘travel blog’ depends a great deal on what you consider travel to be. I would call it a travel blog, for two main reasons.

One, the shoe fits. I am traveling. I am from Canada. I was in India. Now I am going to Australia. But what about once I arrive in Melbourne? Once I find an apartment and a job and settle in for a bit am I still traveling? How long can you stay in a foreign country before ‘travel’ becomes ‘immigration’? Continue reading

Wait. . .What?

As absurd as it sounds, there was a logical process of thought behind my decision to try prize fighting. I had reasons for choosing to do this, now.

First, there was sheer curiosity. Which is admittedly a stronger driving force for me than is perhaps healthy. But when I get a question in my mind it fucking burns until I get an answer, man. Especially when it’s a question of ‘Can I [insert task here]?’ I need to know. And this one had been nagging at me for a long time: could I hold my own in a cage fight?

I’d trained in martial arts before. But I’ll admit readily – not a lot. There was some Shotokan Karate back in my last year of high school and some half-assed Jeet Kun Do back in my short-lived university days. But the style I really loved was Muay Thai, in which I had trained during my early years of tattooing in Newfoundland, as well as for a while in Ireland back at the start of my travels.

And I loved it. Which brings me to my second reason: Desire. Continue reading