Late Night Thoughts in Stockholm

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’”

– Sylvia Plath

This evening I watched a movie – The Intern. It was great in that feel-good manner, where you feel that inspirational lift and your thoughts get that extra dash of optimism. It made me think about who I want to be when I’m older, and what kind of person I want to be. 
De Niro’s character is so full of genuine life advice, coming from a mix of a history of being successful and a benevolent quiet observation. And I realised – that’s the kind of person I want to be, if I make it that far. I want to be someone who makes younger people go, “Wow, they really lived.” I want to be able to chime in with crazy tales of adventure, mishaps, and romance. I want to have truly lived, not just for the opportunity to tell others, but for myself. 

That being said, I suppose I’m very much on the right track to get there. I’m typing this in the dark on my phone in a bedroom in Sweden. Two nights ago I was in Poland. Tomorrow night my head will come to rest on a pillow in Amsterdam. I decided earlier this year that I was going to take myself on more of a solo adventure (I had money saved up for another holiday that didn’t happen), and so here I am. 

I’m finally getting out and throwing myself into the things I want to do, and it feels so good. 

I am so overwhelmed with how well the trip has gone so far. In London I stayed with my eldest sister and my nieces, who I haven’t seen in far too long. In Poland, I stayed with a work friend who I’ve known for less than a year but who is my ultimate partner in crime. Right now I am staying with a girl I met while she was on exchange in Australia. Our time over there was fleeting but getting to see her again has been so wonderful. In Amsterdam I will be staying in a place by myself, but I’m meeting up with another Australian friend who I’m long overdue a catch up with (and hey, why not do it in Amsterdam? Such a privileged position to find oneself in). Then I’m off back to Scotland for the first time in years with my family, before finally coming back to London and then on to Melbourne. 

It’s been non-stop and I love it. Up early, out late. Rinse and repeat. I think once I fall into bed when I get back to Melbourne, I will not be leaving it for a week. I’m exhausted but in the best way. I never want to forget this feeling, nor take it for granted. Never ever. 

How to survive a 23 hour journey.

 

My goodness, I’ve missed travelling. I’m writing this from on board a flight from Dubai to London, having just done the Melbourne to Dubai leg of my journey in this same very seat. It was so kind of past-me to keep the seat warm. Though she probably farted in it. Yep, she definitely did. There’s a reason I call these things flying-farty-tin-boxes.

Anyway, that’s enough of that. Going for long periods of travel like this solo means I’m left alone with my thoughts for probably far too long, which is quite wonderful but also slightly maddening.

I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to have such times rather often. I’ve travelled for as long as I can remember, I’m pretty sure at some point I would have been that crying baby they shove up at the front of the cabin. For this, I apologise. But the world is a terrifying place when the air is stale and your ears feel like they’re going to explode. Even as an adult I wince at the discomfort.

Thankfully I have formed a set of unspoken rules for myself when I travel, a few life hacks that are probably not all completely sensible but they make for an easy and lazy long-haul journey. Disclaimer that most of these tips are born from a Hong Kong/Melbourne to London kind of journey, a flight-path well travelled by yours truly.

ONE: Be tired.

This one usually kicks in when I’m booking the flights. If you can avoid it, never do a long-haul day flight. You’ll stay up the whole time and watch fifteen movies and have a blast but then jetlag will come and kick you in the gnads and it’ll wreck you for the next few days. I’m not the kind of person that can force myself to sleep when I’m awake, so I always opt for a flight as close to midnight as possible. I like to think I am the ideal passenger – I rock up, take my seat, and pass out as soon as we take off. Forget dinner, I’m out long before the seatbelt light has gone off.

TWO: Be intoxicated (…within reason)

If you can drink, alcohol CAN be your best friend in times like this. Ahead of this particular journey, I hit up my second home, Strike Bowling Bar in Melbourne Central (that non-sponsored promo hey?). I had some food and drinks, then some more drinks and a game of laser tag and bowling. Side note, playing laser tag before a 12+ hour flight is not the wisest idea. Thank goodness for deodorant.

But the drinks definitely helped me fall asleep. I have ‘within reason’ up there for two reasons. Firstly, do not take this tip as the go-ahead to be that drunken douchebag on the plane. Nobody will have a good time if that happens, least of all you. Secondly, alcohol is a diuretic. The last thing you want is to be tipsy, tired, and needing to tinkle. Especially if like me you seem to always get locked into the non-window non-aisle seats. That said, I could do with a bit of magic right now…

THREE: Bring shorts

This is where my inner lazy shines through as what people have called both genius and stupid. Jeans are no fun to sleep in, and thus I have made it a habit to bring PJ shorts on my journeys. I have my Australian boxer shorts in my bag right now, though I’ll admit I was too tired to go put them on during the last flight.

Those in first class get complimentary PJ’s (sometimes), so why not bring your own? For the price of your dignity on the walk to the bathroom and back, you too can live in moderate luxury on the plane. Well, as much luxury as a long-haul flight where someone may drift and sleep on your shoulder repeatedly can be.

FOUR: Be hydrated (but only just)

Dehydration on a plane is killer. But being too hydrated is also killer. Who wants to go to the teeny cubicle with the world’s loudest vacuum sound seven times in a flight? Not me, that’s for sure. So instead, I drink probably just under the amount I should. I mean, sure, it’s probably not the smartest decision to not drink heaps of water. But when it means I don’t have to get up, it’s a choice I’m willing to live with. Just make sure to make it up and chug some water once you’ve started the descent to land, or once you’re through the long lines at customs. I have stuffed up on the timing in both of these situations, which I can safely say is not a mistake I wish to repeat.

FIVE: iBreakfast.

Ahhh, plane food. I’ve had fantastic meals, and I’ve had meals where I needed to put quotation marks around the “food” that I was served up when I described it to friends. Either way, my tip here is to skip the coffee or tea and get apple juice. I realize this bias is here because I’m not much of a coffee drinker and I have to be in a particular mood for tea, but hear me out.

Sugar! That’s literally it. I think the sugar hit helps get through the dreaded-day-one of a holiday, where jetlag is snatching at your heels and all you want is the comforting embrace of a pillow and blanket. The juice is not enough to make you crash, but enough to wake you up from the certainly-not-the-best sleep from the journey. Plus, tea (and probably coffee?) is a diuretic. It’s like a cruel joke to serve half the plane something that will need to make them pee an hour before telling them they have to return to their seat and hold it in for an agonizing thirty minutes. Don’t be a sucker, treat yo’self to some juice. Mmmmmm.

SIX: Groove on the move

Plane media archives are a wonderful thing. Sure, there are the latest blockbusters and albums, but I always seem to find nostalgic gems that have me lip-synching and grooving in my seat (probably to my seat-neighbours confusion). On this flight so far I have listened to the entirety of Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Thing, and am currently on Gwen Stefani’s The Sweet Escape. Wind it up! *NSync is up next; my inner 15 year old is having a blast.

Anywho. That’s all I got for now. Time for another nap. Happy travelling, and Merry Christmas! (I don’t know why either.)

“What does happiness mean to you?”

This question comes up strangely often in my life, as I am the kind of person that skips right past small talk with people. I don’t truly care for what you think of the weather, nor do I care for the blasé filler conversation that usually ensues when two strangers are left idle. Why would I, when behind the shallow dialogue lies a mind different from mine, with thoughts and beliefs built up over their lifetime? I don’t understand the point in holding back, with time so fleeting and chance encounters with interesting people so potentially short.

That might make me somewhat of a forward person, but I much prefer to get right into someone’s mind, if they are willing, of course. I have always been fascinated by what makes people tick and understanding the human condition. What values they hold close, how they define themselves, how they perceive the world around them. What their idea of happiness is.

I find happiness itself is such a strange mistress. She comes and goes throughout your life, sometimes with clear reason, sometimes without. To me, how I define happiness constantly changes. Sometimes it is simple – win a game, spend time doing things I find rewarding, nurturing relationships with friends and with myself.

Today, happiness for me is about purpose. It’s about finding it, understanding it, and appreciating it. Not just your own prerogative, but in the things around you. Having said that, finding one’s own meaning is a rather daunting challenge, but one we are constantly questioned on.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“What do you want to study at university?”

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

It starts right from the beginning, as children are handed often-gendered toys, and imprinted with what is perceived as their role in society. How we respond to such impressions over our lives end up showing who we actually are. Or at least, who we are at the time.

It’s the very flexible nature of our ‘self’ that leads me to look outwards for happiness. I know I am content in my self, but there’s a constant change in my experiences and wants that means I could never see myself becoming stagnant. So I look outwards. I go through phases, obsessions, and put all of my energy into them. Be it people, places, things, I will almost start to define myself with what I do. I seek out purpose, and give it my heart.

It’s not just about personal purpose either. Seeing those I cherish and appreciate go after the things they want is one of the most gratifying sights to see. Even if things don’t go as planned, just seeing the passion and drive within someone else – regardless of what it is – is infectiously inspiring.

To take it a step further, to me it’s not even about purpose within people. Clichéd as it is, I hold it very close to me to remember to stop and smell the roses. Nature itself is a testament to beauty in purpose, and too often we pass it by and take it for granted. The world is so balanced, factors on every level working together to further itself as a whole. It disheartens me when I think about the way humans throw this out of balance, and how much selfish destruction we cause to further our own agendas.

But with that said, everywhere you look in the man-made world someone has put effort into the things around you. Be it the sofa you’re sitting on, the game you’re playing, the instrument you have tucked away in your bedroom, someone put the time into bringing that thing into being. And for that reason I always want to uphold it. So I try to appreciate each detail, each choice that was made. I note the intricacies of the things around me, though only when I am not too distracted by the world at large.

There was one time someone wanted to throw a coin off the edge of a boat we were on. I became genuinely upset, which initially surprised me. I was mourning the loss of an object that had no emotion, no sentience. What I realized was I was mourning the loss of purpose. For a mere few seconds of entertainment, that coin would be left to bury beneath the sands a thousand meters below the ocean surface. After all the hands it had passed through, it would never be seen again.

I suppose that is a metaphor that I placed squarely on myself from then on. The worst feeling would be to settle, to be resigned to doing nothing, being nothing. Stagnant. So instead I push the other end of the spectrum, sometimes too hard. I actively collect experiences, as it were. I never want to stop feeling new things, however they may end up turning out.

I don’t think I’ll ever have a set answer for what happiness means to me. But for now I know I am content in not knowing. I will carry on pursuing the things I feel are right, and that will be good enough.

WebFest Launch!

One of the internships I am lucky enough to be doing is being a part of the Communications team for the Melbourne WebFest. We recently had the official selection announcement at the Jasper Hotel, which was heaps of fun.

My role on the night was to be in charge of Facebook Live with co-host Ash, though it turned out that I hosted the thing solo for the bulk of our stream, which you can watch below:

 

Aside from that, we got to mingle with content creators, actors, and other members of the digital web series community. It was a great night! It was so genuinely inspiring to be in a room full of people who are passionate about creating. I spoke to a lovely man for a while about some of my own creative projects, and he was very receptive and supportive of my ideas.

On the night I was also interviewed by Marilena from upstartLIVE, which was really fun. I even made the thumbnail! Huzzah! I genuinely thought we were just testing the audio levels at first, then I asked if she wanted to do a proper one and I was told that we had just done the proper one. Whoops.

 

All in all it was a fantastic night, followed by a couple more drinks with the rest of the MWF crew. I can’t wait for the actual festival!

Honey, I’m home!

Hello!

I’m not sure if I’ll keep this up, but I’ve missed blogging, so I think I’m going to give it another go. I’m also hoping to turn this site into a bit of a portfolio, so examples of my published stuff might start popping up in the near future. That is, if I get around to it. I am currently studying full time at Uni, working part time, and I am fortunate enough to have gained not one but TWO internships. So yes, feeling super-mega #blessed, but also severely lacking that whole sleeping thing everyone raves about.