i haven’t really updated my life in terms of my travels and i’ve done a lot of it. i’ve suffered a lot too if your faith in measurement liberally includes a plebeian drama queen. i’m never sure if i enjoy travelling, because i get exhausted after i return, and i’m always lukewarm about whether or not i want to come home. i want to come because i get overwhelmed by the income inequality, and i am reluctant to return because of the weather.
things i’ve realized
- i am more inclined to give homeless people money when i’m abroad. i think part of it is the relative income inequality, and i feel like it will make a greater difference because in my head, i think there are fewer support services available to them than in canada. is that fair? am i being unfair?
- i still haven’t been able to “relax” while travelling. there is too much to see, there is never enough time to reflect. maybe it’s an ROI thing?
- i like meeting new people, i like meeting them for a short period of time. i don’t like growing attached.
- i hate exploring canada. i’m not really sure what it is… maybe it’s too close to home? the weather? i hated vancouver and am certain that i would never, ever move there. i didn’t like the vibe, it’s not fast enough for me. it also feels like too small of a city. it feels like a fake city. the skies are also grey all the time. the tourist attractions like that lego whale statue feels like a pathetic attempt at public art, perhaps because it’s situated in too touristy of a setting.
- i don’t think i would enjoy europe much… we made a pit stop in Zurich and i just hated it. things are too old, too cramped for my liking.
- a full water crisis is gonna hit the world, and it’s gonna be ugly.
i wish i had longer in birmingham. great food, way too much walking, very hot and humid and i stuck it out. it wasn’t even as humid as home, so i didn’t mind it too much and don’t know why i pointed that out since it sounds like i singled it out as a gripe. i just spent too much time outside, walking, exploring, refusing to pay for transportation. loved the bird scooters, which is a source of internal conflict, because I am staunchly against tech because of the hyper-masculine, super-white work cultures and the entitlement that emanates from tech firms, but they were sooo fun to ride and they’re way cheaper than cabs or ride shares. birmingham is very segregated, not only in where people live but what shops people eat and shop at. it’s very desolate. on weekends, it’s a ghost town. you could traverse the middle of the road if you wanted. you’ll always see a couple of cars, but the weekend sidewalks can be your kingdom if you want to claim them. i don’t think i could live there… i’ve been thinking about it, since the cost of living would be so much lower and all my friends and family would consider that out of left field if i literally uprooted myself and settled down in alabama. maybe i would love the shock value, however short-lived that might be.
should we visit places that are known to be racist? i kept thinking about that. should we visit places that we think are backwards, not progressive? when we visit them, are we complicit? i say you should visit them, i say maybe you are complicit and you have to accept that. there are victims of that racism who live there, who deserve to be acknowledged, and their stories and history deserve to be acknowledged. birmingham was a learning experience. i went to the civil rights museum and learned SO MUCH, i walked the streets, i spoke to houseless people, i ate at places where everybody was white, i rode bird scooters, i conversed with a lyft driver who told me that he worked as a greyhound driver for his entire life but came back to alabama to retire because alabama is truly “sweet home alabama”. i’m complicit to that segregation, but i’m not sure you could not be… like if i don’t help “solve” it, i couldn’t possibly win. alabama’s history is complicated, its politics are complicated and so problematic, but tourism can’t be strictly perceived as visiting places for “fun”. we visit new places to experience and learn about them. and birmingham was kind, it had that lucid, hot summer swagger (in the most erudite definition), and it made pity the world for overlooking birmingham and alabama as somewhere unworthy of visiting. sitting at the greyhound station for a bus that ended up being delayed by 2 hours was eye-opening in seeing the people that come through the station, and thinking it looks a lot like how i grew up in the suburbs. i read Our Towns shortly after my visit; birmingham isn’t on a recovery from a decline, but it’s on its way up, at least for its white Millennial residents. there’s a Southern creative class there that’s emerging, and i got to see it because my decision to walk home from dinner led me to the arts festival that was going on. birmingham is slow, it wants to talk to you, it has an ugly history that should never be forgotten.
cape town was beautiful. i’m not sure what i expected when i went. i thought maybe it would change me as a person, and perhaps the mark it leaves on me is still pending. the oceanside views are breathtaking, the best i’ve seen, but that doesn’t say much because i haven’t traveled to many capes. but Chapman’s Peak man…. I could sit there all day. The views were so gorgeous, the pace of life is slow and chill (typical oceanside!), the poverty is at times hard to stomach though I know it’s probably a lot worse in Sub-Saharan Africa. The water crisis makes me think about how precarious potable water really is, and how much we take it for granted living by the Great Lakes.
i don’t enjoy travelling with other people and that’s something i haven’t been able to change, even though i made a true CONCERTED effort to be more affable and pleasant, but i am by nature very impatient, self-absorbed, and unable to make compromises. i don’t think i can stay at an AirBnB for the rest of life, because they have always disappointed me, but that says a lot more about me than anything else. I loved seeing Muizenberg, climbing Table Mountain and Lions Head (at least for the first couple hours). it sucked that i got my period while travelling, but i knew it was going to happen, and i feel like that ordeal could have been a lot worse, so maybe it was the best it could have been but i would make sure not to travel at that time next time around.
i’ve been more open to new foods… got to try ostrich meat, which i would definitely try again. i also tried brisbok, a type of antelope, and would look for local fruits and foods when i could. i got annoyed with these Dutch tourists who weren’t interested in learning about the history of Bo-Kaap at all, because Bo-Kaap is shaped by the effects of apartheid, mild islamophobia, and colonialism. It’s actually really sad that South Africa’s official languages are English and Afrikaans, because as our Robben Island tour guide pointed out, they’re both languages derived from the colonizers. What does it mean to undo colonialism? Is that even possible? Is language the greatest weapon for ensuring that the legacy and consequences of colonialism endure, because it becomes impossible to unravel: it becomes a literal matter of survival. I really enjoyed the tour of Langa, the oldest township where ostracized Black South Africans were forced to live during apartheid. you see the genuine sense of community; the homes in the community were the most run down i’ve ever seen, but that’s because i haven’t travelled to any other third-world countries. it wasn’t shocking per se, because we can see a lot of those types of images online and through documentaries, but it made it real. Some people live in literal shacks, and there is litter everywhere. This is the legacy that the racist white South African government has left, and we are in awe of how messy, ugly, and terrifying it is.
i started subscribing to the Yeah but Still podcast, although I should probably stop next month because it’s costing me a lot. I need to budget better given my reckless spending and I don’t get a lot of exclusive content for the amount I pay. I learn a lot about the creative industries of Los Angeles, about the alt scene, and I love that, but is it worth $92 a year? Hmmm…. maybe if there is a return on investment? Like if I got involved in the creative industries then yes, it’s almost like exclusive insider information. I only subscribed because I wanted to see Crissy’s powerpoint anyway, and now that I’ve seen it, maybe it’s time to say adieu. we’ll see.
Jack is so intelligent and observant, and I really respect that. When I listened to the calamari algorithm episode, I thought this was ingenious and something I would do. Both Jack and Brandon are very eloquent, funny, and engaging, and I enjoy hearing about their lives in LA. it makes me look at LA differently and makes me want to go back even more. I’ve always felt like I would enjoy living in LA, ESPECIALLY because there are fake, fame-hungry people there, because at least you KNOW that going in. it’s not like a surprise, and it allows you to play that game to your advantage. i always said i would love the South even before I visited, and surprise, surprise, I fucking loved it! And that was after I went to Charleston, which people said wasn’t even the true South, so people better not tell me that Alabama is not the true South. Yes, I could go to rural Alabama, but if I were to do that, it would just be to prove a point (which I’m not going to waste energy doing), and I think it would make me really depressed since Alabama has some of the poorest residents in the entire country and living conditions are known to be comparable to third world countries (with things like no plumbing, clean water, etc).
i’m not alt enough for East LA, but I’m currently too poor to belong in Abbot Kinney so I’m not sure where I would fit in? One of my favourite book series, The One by Ed Decter, painted a realistic portrait of Hollywood that I knew I would love to be a part of… which might sound rather insidious, but it’s a hustle game, and if I’m placed in a stressful enough situation, I would fucking thrive in this take-no-prisoners style of Hollywood.
now i’m at the starbucks reserve writing this post. i just downloaded the newest final draft, so maybe i’ll start that screenplay i’ve meant to write years ago, thanks to Jack for rekindling the creative intrigue that’s always burned in me. Hmm….
hopefully will do some analytical work. maybe start that application for the fellowship. hopefully i feel better after i’ve written this. i’m listening to Khalid’s Vertigo and feeling the calm. i miss writing. i think i’ve gotten worse at it out of a lack of practice. i got a subscription to The Walrus but now I regret it. I am a closed-eyes, brackish-water cliff jumper and i’ve spent quite a bit of time sunbathing at the top, which is all well until i realize how much i’ve eaten while laying on my towel and how much weight i’ve gained, and how sad and complacent i’ve become. the sunbathing has been great, my endorphins have never soared so high, but now i’m not sure if i can make it over the edge. but i have to. sometimes we have to sink down in order to come back up again. it’ll get messy i’m sure. but sometimes we gotta fall down, and not just move forward, in order to get somewhere. and i’ve been in limbo far too long, afraid of where to go because it will hurt me, because it takes just that extra bit of effort. i need to be better.