Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Random Thoughts on 12-8

I have a backlog of entries to post, so here come a handful written over the past week or so.

My brain is scattered. I have so many things to write down and I don’t think any of them will be enough for a coherent entry. So this entry is more for myself as a clearing exercise. It may or may not be of any interest to anyone else.

The library here has wifi, reading rooms aplenty and lovely architecture. I love that about here.

Graffiti is an art here. There is some controversy about that still, but there are entire laneways given over to it.

Laneways – this city has long blocks for the major roads. In between them come the lanes. Small alleys at points, reasonable thoroughfares at others. Some are pedestrian only, some are actually for vehicle access. A number of them are lined with cafes and restaurants, al fresco dining in an alley. And it works. It works so fantastically well. The whole of the city doesn’t have that feel of most other major cities. The feel of one coherent face, of walking down the streets in a coherent fashion, of seeing the 5 major highlights and heading on to the next place. The alleyways merit exploring. What joys may be found down each can only be found by wandering. Some are large and expensive, and can be right across the street from some that are small, cozy, crowded and cheap. It is part European, part Bohemian, part street bazaar, part Chinatown. The downtown area is not just a hub of activity like it is in DC or so many other places. It is not a checklist to go through. The downtown is a maze, an eccentric place to be dallied through, a city to take your time to get to know. I really like it here even though I haven’t been making many friends.

More important than making friends, I’m learning here to make my own way. Productive days on my own clock, a clock that actually starts at a reasonable hour and involves a reasonable amount of work. Then nights out seeing the city, be it by myself or with friends. I’m starting to learn how to fend for myself, how to make my own entertainment. I am learning how to be comfortable as a solitary creature.

We saw penguins coming in to feed their young at St. Kilda. They are protected there but you get within a meter of them. Penguins are adorable.

Sunset over the ocean is pretty. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen it happen, but I don’t seem to ever get sick of it.

I might join the Occupy movement here. I need to figure out exactly what they stand for, but the couple people I talked to seem to give me a similar concept to the ones back home. I support raising awareness of the divide in society and hoping to motivate enough people to demand change. I support peaceful, non-violent protest. And I support having a place to camp out in a central location that I don’t have to pay $25 a night for. Unfortunately for all of those, the situation here doesn’t seem to be working so well. They have been moved from their original location already, several people arrested, and a few assaulted by police. Their stuff has been thrown away. Their tents have been confiscated. The question of whether setting up a tent is considered an act of protest is unanswered. People wearing the tents as clothing have been forcibly cut out of them, resulting in one woman being somewhat exposed to the public. I need to do a bit more investigation because being arrested for protesting is not necessarily going to work out well for my visa.

The botanical gardens here are amazingly beautiful.

We walked around much of the city and downtown area. It has an art house vibe. And we checked out the bohemian district, which certainly is.

I’m smoking too much. When I was starting to get stressed in the lead-up to leaving, I turned to nicotine. Alyssa warned me that I was just associating the chemical with my stress response and that it would make it harder when I was here. I knew it at the time but didn’t really change it. She was right. I find myself reaching for the packet whenever I’m tense.

Meeting people can be hard.

I’ve been reading through the local music rags and have started to compile a pretty impressive calendar of free and cheap shows I want to see. There are quite a few. This city might work out very well for seeing and doing things. As long as I just keep pushing myself to go out and check things out regardless of my company.

I need to evaluate my time and its value better. I sat through a rather painful package tour sales session to learn about what the country has to offer. Not worth that. And to have a chance to win a bungee jump for free. I didn’t, and even if I had it wouldn’t have been worth it. Malcolm Gladwell made the point in Blink that you can tell very quickly if you are going to like a presentation or not. And I need to listen to my instincts better and just get up and leave when something isn’t working for me. I wasted 2 hours, found out very little about the country, and would have been better served reading a guidebook for that time.

I spent several hours in the gardens near the hostel which are not of major importance but are still nicer than nearly all of them in DC. Bowling greens, BBQs, courts, grass, trees. I just sat and read on writing and on Australia. So relaxing. It is also where I met a guy wearing a tent and found out there is in fact an Occupy movement here.

Marco, Alex and I caught the free tourist shuttle around town, hit the Botanical Gardens, café, took pictures, wandered back towards the Eureka building, got chips at Lord of the Fries, wandered Fitzroy (the bohemian area), looked for graffiti, back to Eureka for the 88th floor viewing experience, while they did that, I wandered, took pictures, watched the sunset, watched the casino’s fire-show, played with a giant theramin, listened to music, decided which festivals I want to go to, met up with them again at a casino, watched people playing roulette, and came back home. 12 hours of walking can really wear out your legs.

I got booked on the Spirit of Tasmania. They found a spot. So now the plan is back on. Leanne and I are heading over, seeing Falls Fest, doing New Year’s Eve in the festival, then on for a week of camping and hiking. I’ll stay on past then for the month of January, hitting the mainland in time for the Big Day Out festival.

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This entry was posted on December 15, 2011 by in Australia, Victoria (Melbourne).

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