My regular readers (and anyone else who stumbles upon my blog) will have to excuse my hiatus and this fairly jumbled blog post that will be my first in what feels like ages. I’ve been doing a lot of contemplating lately (admittedly mostly about food) and have been feeling fairly frustrated so am going to use this particular post to just sort my mind out before moving on to Ukraine posts. Some of the stuff I’ll ramble on about has to do with me apparently being a lunatic. See the below definition.

lu·na·tic

[loo-nuh-tik] Show IPA

noun

1.

an insane person.
2.

a person whose actions and manner are marked by extreme eccentricity or recklessness.
3.

Law . a person legally declared to be of unsound mind and who therefore is not held capable or responsible before the law.
Admittedly, most of my friends (actually most people who know me) would definitely say I fall under the first definition. Most every random I meet where I’ve been looks at me like a lunatic and treats me like I fall under the 2nd category (especially when I order vodka tonics) and almost all of the American’s I’ve met definitely think I fall under the 2nd category I personally think I should fall under the 3rd definition for if and when I am detained by police for street poling in front of government buildings. Hence, lunatic in the title.

Street poling in Moldova

Announcements

1. Happy Birthday to my amazing and beautiful Mum! She is the most wonderful woman I know and I would not have grown into the person I am today without her love, guidance, acceptance of my lunacy, support and teachings. While she fairly frequently doesn’t agree with many of my ideas and decisions, she has always loved and supported and encouraged me 100% through it all. I love you, Mummy!

Mum, Dad and I at graduation.
They flew all the way to Australia!

2. Happy Belated Birthday to my wonderful brother, Tanner! He has FINALLY turned 21 and can now legally drink in the USA! If you see him out, buy him a congratulations drink for making it to 21 without us killing each other. I’m so proud of you little bro!

My awesome, crazy brother!

3. My awesome pole dance instructer is engaged! Congratulations, Jacinta! Wishing you and James all the best! For those of you interested in pole dancing who live in Sydney you should check out Studio Exclusive! That’s where I started and the staff and students there are all supportive and friendly and wonderful people. You are guaranteed to get into better shape, love going to ‘work out’, and make heaps of friends.

4. My extremely talented best friend and her equally as talented mother have started their own craft business. I own A LOT of these crafts that they make and they are really seriously awesome and beautiful and I love every gift I get from them. If you are in the market for beautiful and unique crafts (excellent for gifts or just for having around your own house or wearing as jewelry) check them out! Their facebook page is La’Ma Ree Creations.

Travelers vs Tourists and the American Dream

I’m currently in Montenegro (yes, I am very behind on posts) and I am being a tourist. I don’t like it one bit, part of it is not being able to think of a polite way to say no, part of it is my current travel companions and what they want to do as tourists, not travellers and part of it is that I am on the coast during peak season when the only people here are tourists.

Being here has given me lots of time to think about the traveler vs tourist debate and talking to various friends and family has also given me time to think about that debate as well.

Generally I very staunchly fit into the traveler category. I don’t like the tourist category. I’m not a fan of it, I don’t enjoy it and it’s not for me. I’m not saying it’s wrong or a bad way to travel (pending on the type of tourist you are. Obviously drunken idiots who do nothing but destroy things and insult local culture are frowned upon no matter who you are) but I’m going absolutely insane.

I meet so many people who are in awe of me traveling for a year. They just can’t imagine it. I worked hard, I saved my money, I can afford to travel for a year. It’s really not that expensive. I don’t stay at all inclusive resorts (you may as well stay home), I don’t stay in expensive places (hostels and couchsurfing.org are excellent for meeting and making new friends) and are generally very comfortable and safe places to stay. The world is not a big and scary place. People are the same everywhere you go for the most part. The only thing that really differs is the culture.

I digress. So I was talking to a very good friend of mine the other day who said “I wish I could do that.” Now, I love said friend, but when someone says “I wish I could do that” or “I would love to do that” they never will. One of my favourite posts on this topic is by an excellent travel blogger, Nomadic Matt. It has to be something you really want to do. If you want it bad enough, nothing will stop you. Yes, she would love to travel and visit new places, but she never will for various reasons. That being said, there is nothing wrong with visiting a place for a couple of weeks at a time! You can still be a traveler without traveling long term!

Then there are the people who will always be tourists. My dear, darling boyfriend is one of them. I love him to bits, but the question “Is your boyfriend actually okay with you traveling for a year without him” is getting really freaking old. It’s not his decision. He has no say in it. As a matter of fact, he unfortunately does not believe in me as much as my wonderful mother does. He doesn’t think I’ll make it more than 7 months. I think he thinks I’ll run out of money, though my current budgeting strategy (and a nice little tax return) has actually put me AHEAD of where I thought I would be before I have access to my term deposit despite having my wallet and a fair amount of money stolen.

I digress again. Apologies. So I was speakng with Ivo the other day and he has a very good job that he enjoys that provides him with a very good paycheque every month. Considering I no longer am a drain on his resources and he lives with his parents he has a fair amount of disposable income. I was speaking to him on a beautiful summer day from my private balcony in Montenegro with a view of oceans and mountains and I made a comment about how life is amazing and he should totally be jealous right now. I won’t give all the gory little details of the conversation but his basic response was that he would rather be at home making money and only travel a couple of weeks per year than take a year off to experience the world.

Point is, Ivo likes to be a tourist. Stay in nice, expensive apartments or hotels (he loathes hostels and I really have no idea why because he is such a heavy sleeper), eat at nice, expensive touristy restaurants, visit all the tourist sites (nothing wrong with that, I enjoy it as well). Basically, he likes nice things. I can understand this as I have a shoe addiction. I own 12 pairs of sneakers. I don’t reamember the last time I spent less than $120 on a pair of shoes. Nothing wrong with liking nice things. But in the end, Ivo is a tourist and not a traveler. This is why we don’t travel together long term. We just don’t travel the same. If I travelled Ivo style I wouldn’t make it 3 months. As I said, there is nothing wrong with traveling this way, but it’s just not for me. Incidentally, this conversation got me to thinking about the American Dream and living to work rather than working to live. One of my favourite posts on this topic is by Steph at Twenty-Something Travel.

I will admit that I miss working. I miss the feeling of being productive at the end of the day. I miss being able to sit and eat lunch and chat about everything with my amazing mentor and boss who very graciously gave me my first law job when no one else would because of my international student status, supported and encouraged me in all my travels and endeavours and has never stopped believing in me and what I am capable of. She is truly one of the most amazing women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and being able to learn from.

She taught me that while work is great you have to take some time off to learn. You can’t just learn from work. There is so much out in the world that you will never learn it all, but you can sure try. Everytime she comes back on holiday we spend hours looking at her photos as she tells me about every one. The history of a place, the history of the people. We look at google maps and we CIA factbook the countries to learn more about them together. She is truly an inspiring woman. So if the American dream is your dream and you’d rather be a tourist than a traveler, kudo’s to you. It’s not for me, but if it gets you out there seeing the world then I support that.

Identity Crisis

I have no doubt that this will offend many of my American fellows. I’m not here to make you happy though, I’m here to record my travels, observations and thoughts. Not everyone will like them, but such is life.

I don’t really have an identity crisis. The world has an identity crisis with me. Many of you know that I aspire to Australia Citizenship. I have since I was 11 and my entire life has been with that goal in mind. I’m so close to that goal but am not quite there yet. I personally identify as Australian. I identify with the Australian culture, my home and most of my friends are in Australia or are Australian, I love Australia and the people and moving to Australia was the best decision I could have ever made for myself. I made sacrifices to be there. I gave up being able to see my family during holiday (though unless I’m very busy I get to speak to them almost daily so it’s not so bad), I gave up being able to see my 3 best friends in America (difficult to see 2 of them even when I am in the US because they don’t live near Montana), I gave up being with a person I love who meant everything and more to me.

What I learned/earned/received in return was worth it though. I’m not saying it’s easy being away from them so much and there are times when I wish I was closer because I want to be with them, but home is where the heart is and my heart is in Sydney. Australia has been good to me. Where many American’s reject me for my views, Australians embrace me for being critical and not accepting the status quo and wanting the world to be better. They embrace my love of travel and constant need to learn more about the world around me.

All well and good right? One would think, but no. I have had queries from people about my accent “but you don’t have an Australian accent?” so I have to explain that I am actually from the US but I immigrated to Australia 5 1/2 years ago. I also have an American passport so am traveling on that (great for Moldova and Ukraine who require Australians to have visa’s).

All this inevitably leads to questions about American politics and what American’s think of the government and the current joke that is the election campain of Mitt Romney. Thankfully, most people know that there is a difference between the government and the people. They don’t think Americans are all a bunch of evil bastards out to destroy the world. They think the American government (no matter which party is in office) is an evil bastard out to destroy the world.

Despite knowing this difference, they are not under any illusion about Americans. Everywhere I go people are generally surprised, if not downright shocked, that I am travelling behind the former Iron Curtain and that I know so much about the countries I travel to and actually go to the effort to know about these countries that frankly, most people have never even heard of. The fact of the matter is that 15% of American’s hold passports. Most of them never read foreign news (or domestic news for that matter), they get their news from one source. If you watch Fox, chances are you don’t watch CNN and vice versa.
Americans are predominantly clueless. Americans are known for their blind patriotism and most of the American population does nothing to quash this idea. Nowhere I have been (including Belarus) has even come close to the blind patriotism that Americans have. It’s the sad truth, but someone has to say it. I’m still hoping one day that this will change. Seeing how hard American’s are willing to fight for the things that really matter, I don’t doubt that this is an attitude that can change. I find it quite sad that there is this perception about American’s and I hope that with time Americans will be able to change this view of themselves.

So if you made it this far I congratulate you and you now deserve a delicious drink so you should go get one. I just want to leave you with this quote that was on a random page I like on facebook. No idea who made it up, but I liked it.

In the end we only regret chances we didnt take.The relationships we were scared to have and the decisions we waited too long to make. There comes a time in your life when you realise who matters, who doesnt, who never did and who always will.

What I’m reading right now: Dracula by Bram Stoker

What I’m listening to right now: Dreams album by Neil Diamond

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