Friday, December 30, 2011


"Is there anything you want to say to 2011 while you still have the chance?"

The question fell out of the radio speakers and landed on Our Hero's lap one Boxing Day afternoon; The Host, driving the car and utterly oblivious to what had happened in the passenger seat, continued flipping through the stations.

Our Hero stared at the question as it wrapped its tendrils around his stomach, settled into a comfortable position, and looked up into the traveler's eyes as if to say,

This might take a while.


"If you could, what would you change about yourself?"

"You mean, right now?  Like, if I had a switch for it?"

The Host took a drag on his cigarette, blew it into a stream away from Our Hero, and nodded.

Our Hero paused for a moment to recollect the quote he had seen a few weeks ago, and recited, 

"There once was a man who became unstuck in the world.
He took the wind for a map,
He took the sky for a clock,
And he set off with no destination.
He was never lost."

"Where did you hear that?"

"Someone wrote it on a pillar in the hostel kitchen back in Byron Bay," Our Hero said, squinting off and staring into the garden, "I really liked it.  Still do."

The Host took another drag, waiting for Our Hero to continue.

"Philip, I want to become unstuck.  In light of everything we talked about, I just want to stop caring."

"Stop caring?"

"About what people think.  You were right when you said that I hold myself back.  A lot.  It sucks."

"And you know its keeping you from growing, from changing."

"... Yeah.  I know."

"Joshua, it's time to let go."


"So we're pretty set on heading to the beach on New Years Eve?  Probably 7 or so in the evening?" Jesse asked.  

Matt nodded in agreement, and Our Hero agreed by rubbing in more sunblock.

"And what about afterwards?"

"I don't know," Matt said, "I think we were pretty keen on getting back into town and probably going to a pub.  Josh has been to Mars a few times, how about we go there?"

"Look at you, Josh.  You have a haunt here already."

It was true, Our Hero had been to that bar on several occasions since he had arrived in Adelaide.  He couldn't help it; the bar was the first to which he was introduced in Australia, and the one in which he had met a considerably diverse collection of characters [including an ex-circus performer in a wheelchair, a part-time go go dancer and first year dance student, a woman who had moved to Adelaide because the job market in Chicago was terrible, and a drag queen named Malt Biscuit].  Our Hero wouldn't turn down the chance of going back to Mars, although Jesse's choice of words had slapped him across the face at the last second.

You have a haunt.

As expressed before, Our Hero had despised the idea of developing habits, running in circles, becoming predictable.  The idea of anchoring himself to one place during a year like this was more than undesirable and embarrassing, it was 


Maybe this would be the first year he would follow his resolution, whatever he decided it would be.  

He didn't want this feeling to stop, whatever this feeling was.  Feeling like he was in the right place at the right time, doing the things and meeting the people he needed to, hearing, seeing, and learning things that would help sculpt him into the Prince he was destined to become.  worldlyfearlessconfidentsereneexperiencedknowledgedserene.  Feeling that fire inside rage every day, every time he practiced, every time he saw a performance, every time he felt the hard wooden floor beneath his feet vibrate from too much bass.

He wondered what it would be like when this would all stop.
That is, if it would.

He, Our Hero, The Boy, The One who would lose then find his way in India, who was adopted and beloved in Uganda, who smelled of sunblock and tasted of sea salt in Australia hoped this would never end.  The destiny he had chosen had taken him this far, and for the first time in his life, he would dare to see how much farther this rabbit hole would go.


When 2011 would leave, he wasn't exactly sure what he would say.  Goodbye?  Thanks for the ride?  Call me?  2011 would always be a landmark; he had always known it would be the year he left college, entered the real world.  But what came after that?  What happened after the end?  He never would have guessed he would be traveling, dancing, living.

This past year was all about knowing what would happen next, having a plan, and watching as it all fell into place.  2012 should be different.  And it would.  Everything was already changing; why should he let it stop now?  If there was any time to let it all go...

... it would be now.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011


"You've already made a choice." Adriano, director of Ranters Theatre, said over a glass of Cooper's Dark Ale.

This, the Boy had never heard before.

"There is no 'choosing between dancer or doctor' at this point, mate.  You're traveling for a year studying dance, not how to become a doctor.  Spend it learning as much as you can, and see where it takes you.  At the end of the year, you'll be in a place where you know whether or not you'll continue down this road.  By then, there'll be no more 'I'll have to make a choice between this or that,' but more of a 'I've already gone down this path, so I'll go a little further' or 'I might backtrack a bit.'"

The Boy nodded, and reached for a salt and vinegar potato chip.

"I can see that this is something you really want to do.  That much is obvious.  So why keep questioning what you want?  You made the choice when you took on this year.  Let yourself explore it as much as you can."


Saturday, December 24, 2011

If The Fates Allow

To play whilst reading.  [ I know, I know.  The Frank Sinatra version is my favorite, and in my opinion the best.  But hey, why not go for something a little alternative this year? ]:

| Far Away |

He knew his troubles were far, somewhere beyond the sea.  Wherever he was now, [ uncle: "Hello joshua. Where are you this time?" ], he was living.  Living.  As much as he didn't want to admit it, he would.

I don't remember being this happy.

Yes, this year had plenty of setbacks.  But wasn't that all part of the experience?  Missed appointments, wandering for kilometers, questionable healthcare, shattered self-confidence, and insecure isolation were all absorbed and relished.  In the long run.  Sure, he could have gotten this back at home, but instead, it was all in india/uganda/australia.  For the first time in his life, he could do everything without regret.  Win and lose, it was everything he ever wanted and more.

So why ask for anything this Christmas?

| Golden Days |

All was golden.  He realized, as soon as he had landed in Australia, that the fuzzy heartwarming feeling of Christmas wasn't going to come, not this year.  What he didn't expect, however, was how fine he'd be without it.  Maybe it had something to do with the trips to the beach, the optimistic sun constantly blaring, the moments in which his nasal cavities had enough ocean water, the hilarious accents, and the incredible talent he had seen onstage, offstage, and everywhere in between.  Although he didn't want to say it out loud, he knew that somewhere deep down, he missed snow, Christmas trees, and hot cocoa.

He was getting everything he needed, that much was obvious.

What he wanted, however, was certainly lacking.

| The Fates |

He remembered his mom always telling him, "If it doesn't happen, it's wasn't meant to happen.  It will when it does."  And although there was more than enough pressure from his host parents to have an Aussie Flame before he left - and remember, the Christmas season is during the summer; ergo, it would be considered a summer fling - he just didn't see that happening.

Really, he was okay with that.

Cutting back on expectations was a HUGE part of the things he'd learned during his few months abroad, and it was proving to make this trip even more incredible than it already was.  In addition to decreasing his chances of disappointment, it was teaching him how to deal with it.  And to be honest, the world was chock full of it.

What he needed would come to him, and what didn't come to him taught him to wait.  Everything would get better in time.  And the interesting thing was, as soon as he didn't get what he'd want...  Something else would fall out of the blue and tell him that it happened

| Near to Us |

He knew that his back was always covered.  The invisible hands of friends and family back home and around the world would always be there to catch him.  Small messages here and there were more than enough to remind him that somewhere, someone was waiting for him.

Everyone deserves to know that.

They would tell him what he needed to hear, not what he wanted.  He would be told the right thing at the right time.  It was the ones who mattered the most that ended up surprising him.  And it was these for whom he would momentarily allow himself to feel homesick.

| Now |

This wasn't the most well thought out post, but I guess I haven't really been writing in this very often.  It's not that nothing is happening right now... things are always happening.  I guess it's just that I haven't really been interested in writing in this.  It's kind of exhausting.  And as with most people who keep a blog while they're abroad, there's always a sudden decline in how much they write.  To wriggle against that, I guess I've just decided to slap together something in honor of the holidays.  Sorry for the inconsistency/lack of comprehension/elements of a train of thought.  But if you've gotten this far, hey, I think I've entertained you enough.

In short, I'm still having an incredible time.  Difficult, hilarious, gut-wrenching, smile-making, but most of all incredible.  

Merry Christmas, Friends.

[ Gifted ]

p.s. Oh, I took a day of dance workshops a couple of weeks ago, and this was a song used by one of the teachers at Adelaide College of the Arts.  A new addition to my growing list of favorite life songs.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Hitch Hikers

|| one ||

"I used to do it all the time," Philip said, "It was how I got around Australia when I was your age."

The Boy and his friend, The Companion, looked at each other.

"So, are you going to do it?" Philip asked.

The Boy and The Companion shrugged shoulders.  They were in Pottsville [no association with marijuana, actually] for the next five days with next to nothing planned before the dance workshop with Restless and Heartbeat would take place.  Why not?

"Yeah, we'll hitchhike today.  All the way to Byron Bay, and back.  It'll be today's adventure."

|| two ||

The Boy and The Companion had been waiting for half an hour on the side of the road, thumbs sore from being held erect for an unusually uncomfortable amount of time.  Philip had dropped them off at the midway point between Pottsville and Byron Bay, just to get a 'running start.'

"This is humiliating," The Boy said, "It's like all of my attempts at relationships in college.  All rejected before they even get to know me, based on just a passing moment."

"I don't know," The Companion replied, "Isn't it kind of exciting?  It's like an adventure!"

The Boy did not share the same opinion about rejection as The Companion.  "Maybe we should make a cardboard sign like they do in the movies."

The two searched the side of the road before finding a reasonably-sized piece, which The Boy picked up.

The cardboard already had the words "Byron Bay" written across it.  Whether this was [literally] a good or bad sign, they would find out soon.

|| three ||

"So you're a carpenter?" The Companion asked Driver the First, who bore an uncanny resemblance to John Locke on Lost.  A business card lay on the dashboard, and The Companion had taken the opportunity to strike up conversation with the kind man who had offered both travelers a ride to Byron Bay.

"Nope." He replied.  

Silence followed, and an awkward one at that.

"Oh.  So you're a farmer?" The Companion asked, noticing a second set of business cards on the dashboard.

"Nope." Driver the First replied again.

Another silence followed, more awkward than the last.

Please, please, please stop asking him questions.  The Boy mentally shot at his friend.  This guy clearly does not want to converse with strangers, [even though he did pick us up].

"... But you do like chocolate?" The Boy realized this came out of his own mouth, regardless of what he had been begging his friend to do.  Driver the First looked down at the dashboard, and there lay a semi-full wrapper of chocolate.

"Actually, no." He replied.

|| Four ||

Driver the Second was a delightful man from Copenhagen, Denmark, and moved to Australia with his wife three years ago.  He just had to move to Byron Bay, as he had momentarily saw it years ago when he traveled as an flight representative.  In addition to Australia, Driver the Second had been to the Philippines, Malaysia, and generally a good part all over eastern Asia.

He had never been happier in his life.

|| five ||

It had started to rain, and The Boy and The Companion had been standing on the side of the road for twenty minutes.  It was decided that the weather was the reason she had picked them up.

"Thanks heaps," The Boy said, trying out a recently learned Aussie mannerism.

"'Course," she said, "It started raining.  Felt bad for the two of ya."

"Yeah, it would've sucked to walk home all the way to Pottsville from here."

Since that morning, The Boy's learning curve for bringing up conversation with the drivers had improved exponentially.

By end of the relatively short drive, The Boy and The Companion knew all about Driver the Third's time in Byron Bay: how it was a fantastic place before the tourism made its way there, how she used to be able to sleep on the beach without having to worry about beach patrol, how she had gotten into seed collecting/agriculture, and what she was doing with a mysteriously large sack of goji berries [making jam], and how her boyfriend had come to live in the area [started an aboriginal artwork shop].

This was key: although part of the hitchhiking game was getting a driver to trust you in their car, the real trick was learning about as much of the driver as possible.  In the end, the one behind the wheel would be more interested in talking about themselves than learning about the crazy morning or weekend or month or year of travel you had.

|| six ||

Driver the Fourth and Last - a considerably free spirit with blonde dreadlocks - would bring them less than a couple of miles away from where The Boy and The Companion had started that day.  With The Companion in the passenger seat, The Boy found himself in the fetal position in the back amongst a propane tank and four dirty tires.

White shorts were a poor choice that day.

"Sorry about that, Man." Driver the Fourth and Last apologized, and The Boy only nodded and waved him away.

|| seven ||

"Hi," The Companion began, "Today's our first day hitchhiking, and we're actually really lost now because we can't get a ride, and we've already walked ten kilometers, and we're still a ton of kilometers away from Pottsville, and we were just wondering if we could use your phone so we could call a friend to pick us up at a pub nearby."

The Boy looked away from The Stranger's doorway and grimaced.  The introduction, the charm, the buildup, the explanation, and the request for a favor weren't as eloquently executed as he imagined, but then again, The Boy wasn't the one who was at the doorstep.  The Stranger tilted her head in suspicion, and led The Companion upstairs.

"I'll just stay here," The Boy said.  No one was going to offer him drugged water.

|| eight ||

"Sorry, Philip," The Boy and The Companion said, looking up from their half-empty glasses of beer, "We tried, and we failed.  We suck at hitching."

"No, no no no.  Today was good.  It was a good effort for a pair of first timers."

"Really?  Thanks, Philip.  You know, at one point, we were thinking of what it would be like to hitch around Australia for a year."

Philip shook his head.  "Yeah, at the rate you were going, it would be ten years before you made it around Australia."


COMING SOON:  Hitch Hiking, A How To!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Byron Bay

In short:

I'm off for the week in Byron Bay for workshops held by my host/the artistic director of Restless Dance.  Ergo, internet frequency and use may be close to none [Uganda].  Hurray!  To leave you with some food for thought, here's what I've learned/done during my last week in Adelaide, all of which may or may not be further described in later posts.
  • I've eaten kangaroo steak.
  • I've come to the conclusion that I am terribly behind in technical dance, but that doesn't mean much.
  • I've learned a considerable amount of Australian slang, but next to none of the accent.
  • I've watched the final performances of two classes at AC Arts, and left jealous.
  • I've gone to the South Australian Museum and Art Gallery.
  • I've eaten at Hungry Jack's [which bears an uncanny resemblance to Burger King] and people watched.
  • I've received public transportation advice from a bogan, who didn't try to rob or stab me.
  • I've heard meaningful life advice from professional dancers and actors.
  • I've performed with dancers with down syndrome.
  • I've sang in a group, not unlike a caroling group, in the middle of a mall.
  • I've cooked a dinner of pork loin roll, baked plums, and green beans with sunflower seeds, successfully and succulently.
  • I've frolicked around many black swans.
  • I've been to the Napa Valley of Australia, and most days of the week, I get to enjoy the wine this land offers.
  • Finally, I've lost the charger to my camera battery in Uganda.  Ergo, pictures and video documenting may be impaired for a bit.

[ Off ]

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Sometimes you wonder what could have been.

If your parents had enrolled you in dance classes instead of karate, if you had realized your dreams earlier, if you had gone to a different college, if you had not majored in neuroscience, if you had been born into a family that supported whatever you wanted to do instead of what you needed to do.  You realize, that down some other rabbit hole, on another earth, in a parallel universe, you live a life where you're more talented, funnier, and better looking.  You don't appear as sad, as in much doubt, or as financially in need as you do in this one, and the unavoidable pang of regret hits you in the stomach full-force, throwing off your motivation to keep doing whatever it is you do.

You wonder if you could ever become a tenth of the successful person/people you see before you, a tenth of whatever it was that sent you into this state of being in the first place.  To see someone your age doing something you couldn't fathom doing - performing on stage, for instance, professionally - is more than just a moment of amazement.  It a disappointment as well.

This cold slap of [questionable] reality sends you tumbling down a considerably dark path of regret, paralyzing you from realizing that there may be a version of you who's a lot happier now than you are right now.  Which, in some cases may be hard to imagine, but in most cases incredibly easy.  At times, you wonder if it's not too late to try changing the path you're on, to try becoming this other person you momentarily imagined in the back of your mind.

To learn why this isn't possible, please watch the following educational video:

I like to think that I'm living without regrets, that every choice and mistake and success I've experienced happened for a reason.  That being said, I can't say that I don't experience jealousy.  When I see incredibly talented dancers perform at my age, I immediately get a sense that somewhere, I'm doing that.  Instead, I'm living this version of myself, who apparently daydreams all the time of things he'll probably never be.  A friend once told me,

"When I look at you, 
I see something that didn't happen to me, 
and won't ever happen to me." 

Of course I felt guilty.  I never wanted him, or anyone, to feel like that.  I'd like to believe that when I feel the same way, the person/people of whom I get jealous never wanted that to happen either.

However, a part of me is convinced they only feel pity.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade this year for anything.  I'm learning a ton, and I've made it all seem like it's all been one hilarious fleeting encounter after another.  But please please please remember that there's been a ton of dark times, and there'll continue to be a lot more.  I suppose I just don't like writing about them as much.

I'll finish with one comment: a lot of people have thanked me for the vicarious living I've apparently given them.  While I'm flattered, please don't think of it like that.  Don't try living through someone else's experiences, peeking through the rabbit hole, attempting to see the other version of you.  Live in the life you have right now, and make it as incredible as you possibly can.  You never know if a version of you is out there, wondering what could have been if they were living your life.

[ O|O ]

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Phoenix

"Wanna see it?" Matt asked.

Our Hero nodded, unsure if this was part of the workshop that the current actors, from Ranters Theatre, wanted the pair to discuss.  Regardless, Matt lifted his shirt.

"I designed it myself." he said, proudly.

Our Hero stared at the outline of black feathers that turned into flames, and at the center of its chest, a detailed heart surrounded by a  rib cage.

"It's a phoenix, you know.  You probably know the story, but it's a bird that dies and rises from its ashes.  I think I really do associate with this animal...  Every time I broke one of my bones, it healed."

When he was born, Matt had been diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease.  Matt had spent a considerable part of his life in a wheelchair, until about 8 years ago when he had taught himself to walk.  Up until that point, he had "literally broken every bone in [his] body, and then some."

Ever since leaving the wheelchair, he's continued his studies in theater, performs and works at Restless, practices ninjutsu, and dresses in the occasional pimp suit or ninja garb.

Matt continued, "Sometimes it healed incorrectly, and sometimes it healed too much.  Like my shin; I have one hell of a shin."  To demonstrate, he rapped his knuckles against his left shin, and the sound of hollow wood echoed through the studio.  "I'm in no big hurry to get the rest of the details in.  Actually, I need reasons to keep adding on to this one.  Every time something big happens in my life, I add some more detail to this."

Our Hero asked if the tat made Matt happy.

"It does.  When I look in the mirror every morning, I'm reminded of why I got it done in the first place.  I was born with weak bones, but now look at me.  After breaking them and letting them heal a million times, my bones are too strong now.  I really am like the phoenix, you know?  Every time I die, I keep coming back stronger."


Monday, December 5, 2011


Of the first 4 days in Australia:

1.  Vegemite, contrary to popular belief, does not taste terrible on toast, or at all.

2.  Australia is not America Part 2: it has its own strange customs, quirks, and even slanguage [slang + language] that make it lovable, terrifying, and hilarious.

3.  If you live with someone that has a garden, prepare to de-snail and de-slug it at nighttime, which is the best time to pick up these almost-liquid things that you feed to the chickens that poop out eggs for you in the morning.

-| Tupperware full of snails and slugs.  Be glad it's of poor quality. |-

4.  Orion is also visible from here.

5.  The summers are also cold here, but that's just because of global warming/climate change.  I had to wear my L. L. Bean microfleece to bed one night.

6.  The amount of t.v. you watch skyrockets, but the quality remains the same [awful].  The music videos are just as terrible, the documentaries ["When Teenage Meets Old Age"] say just as little, and the British dramas ["Upstairs Downstairs"] don't make any more sense.

7.  Walking around without shoes is popular here.  Especially in grocery stores.

8.  Candy is expensive, even without the conversion rate.  i.e., Mentos for 2 AUD | 2.05 USD.  Sad.

9.  Slang is hilarious, and like most, doesn't make sense.  "Chucked a wobbly" means "flipped a sh*t," "gone off" means "gone crazy," and "look at that gullah" means "stare at that idiot."  More to come.

10.  The toilets flush in the opposite direction.  Video update soon to follow.

11.  Kindness abound.  i.e., Free copy of Paulo Coelho's "The Pilgrimmage" from store owners, kind directions from strangers at the airport, invitations to birthday retreats in the country of South Australia, and amazing rooms and meals from dance directors.

12.  The currency is plastic.  The bills are partially see-through.

13.  Australians apparently shoot their national animal.  Farmers believe them to be pests.

-| If you look reaaaal close, you can see the Joey hanging out! |-

-| Exhibit A |-

14.  The flight here is INCREDIBLE.  The blankets [one of which is now in my possession], the food [Haagen-Dazs for dessert and an asian-style breakfast in the morning?], and the entertainment [Batman Returns, Another Earth, Mean Bosses, and Friends With Benefits was all viewed in a span of 8.5 hours] are waaay above par.  And, you get a whole row to yourself.

15.  When you live with a fashion designer and a dance director, all conversations become witty, dry-humored, and overly cultured.  And filled with many glasses of wine.


17.  BONUS:  in Hong Kong, Nicholas Cage is still a thing.  And his forehead sells watches.

18:  BONUS:  in Hong Kong, you can get plenty of knock-offs.  Even Cloud Gate / the Bean.

[Aspiring Aussie]