Some Might Say My Obsession is… Unnatural*

I have a confession to make.

This trip to Canada I took had an ulterior motive (and it wasn’t for me to kidnap and smuggle as many squirrels as I could back into Australia in a vague attempt to begin a formidable squirrel army that will eventually help me to conquer the world.)

I have to get this off my chest this before everyone gets the wrong idea and starts thinking I’m this fanciful creature who travels to places on a whim, following her adventurous spirit wherever it may lead her,  who wakes up and decides, “I’ll go to Canada for a week!” in an adorably flighty manner, all while most likely rocking some sort of fringe and a variety of quirky outfits.

No, I am very much not that girl. I spent at least 90% of my life indoors on my computer and when people invite me to visit them at the bar across the street from my apartment I have to seriously consider whether or not it’s worth me putting on pants and going. An ‘on a whim’ trip is not exactly my “thing.”

Also, I’m not that rich.

Soo not that rich.

Anyway, so. Canada. The ulterior motive. It all traces back to this small, wee, mild obsession I have with Supernatural.

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And in answer to your first two questions: yes, the television show, and yes, it is still on.

It’s funny because I can actually trace back to pinpoint the first time I ever watched Supernatural – namely due to my teenage devotion to keeping a diary of even the most mundane of activities. I had a quick look through and managed to locate my entry:

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This picture proves that apparently the roots of this obsession trace back to 2006/07, that I’ve always written extremely long, pointlessly rambling stories and also that for some reason I wrote my diary like someone was ever going to read it.

Also, way to rock the comic sans unironically, Teen Shae.

Anyway, that diary entry aside, the true obsession probably actually only started about four years ago (which to be fair is still a fairly sizable chunk of time). The thing about this television show is that the fan-base for it is kind of extraordinarily huge and mind-blowing, to the extent where they hold a fair few conventions throughout the year, solely dedicated to the show itself. The actors fly in, host Q&A panels, take photos and sign autographs and fans pay exorbitant amounts to be there and take part. Fans like me. I’ve been to the two most recent ones in Australia, and it’s actually a pretty awesome experience.

So you’ve been to two already, I hear you say, you don’t really need to go to another right?

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Ah, you sweet, innocent soul.

So, when they announced there was a convention in Vancouver, Canada, where the television show is actually filmed, I made the decision to follow my heart (read: obsession) and visit Canada and attend the convention. And then if anyone asked, I’d be like, “what? No I just rocked up to Canada and – OH WOW WHAT A SURPRISE THERE WAS A SUPERNATURAL CONVENTION ON. So I totally just went. Totally on a whim. Totally not even planned. Totally didn’t even buy tickets the minute they came on sale months ago. ISNT LIFE JUST A CRAZY SERIES OF COINCIDENCES??”

When I was actually at the convention, I started off, when people would ask where I’m from, muttering “…Australia” as if terrified someone would judge me for paying so much money and travelling so far for a convention. What I failed to realise is that I’m at a goddamn convention for Supernatural; these people understand obsession. People started responding that they’d travelled from far off places as well, from all over Europe, from Asian countries.

And coming from Australia transformed from something I mumbled behind my hand to something that was a sort of badge of honour where I’d literally shout it at people like, “OH YEAH, WELL I CAME FROM AUSTRALIA BUDDY, ALL THE WAY FROM AUSTRALIA, 24 HOUR FLIGHT MATE, YEAH BEAT THAT” and then when it came to other Australians (after feeling mildly irrationally annoyed that they’d also travelled from Australia because, HEY, that was MY thing how dare you copy ME) it’d be an even fiercer competition like, “OH YEAH WELL I CAME FROM PERTH, DIDJA COME THAT FAR, HUH, FROM WA, HUH, YOU STUPID MELBOURNITE, OH YEAH, FIGHT ME, COME ON BRING IT.”

Ahem.

I never said fan-girls were sane.

Anyway, so the convention started on the Friday and went for the next three days, but on that first day I had a little bit of time to kill before the day officially began so I decided I’d use that time for things non-Supernatural related, and so I said to myself, “hey why don’t I walk to Granville Island Public Markets then?” And Google Maps said, “hey, you can’t walk there, you have to take a ferry, did you not see the word island?” And I said, “WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT” and embarked on a mission to prove Google Maps wrong.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t

The very fact that it was impossible to walk to the Granville Island Markets became increasingly apparent to me about halfway through my trek. I had looked at the map and seen a long, large bridge that seemed to span from main Vancouver and – to my incredibly untrained eye – looked like it went right over Granville Island so my logic was that surely I’d be able to somehow get from the bridge down to where I needed to be.

I use the word “logic” but I’m pretty sure what I mean is the exact opposite.

What became painfully obvious midway through walking across the bridge was that there were no exits on it. It was one long bridge, straight from one side to the other – one really, really long bridge. I quickly realized that there would be no way for me to get off and down to the Granville Island Markets. What I should have done at this point, was turn around and head back the way I came. What I actually did, was continue to walk across this massively long bridge, still telling myself that maybe – maybe – when I got to the other side there would be a way to double back around and still get to the markets.

Spoiler alert: there wasn’t.

Fifteen minutes of walking later, upon reaching the other side of the bridge and realizing that there was very definitely no way of reaching the markets I had to concede a very tired, very sweaty defeat. I was also paranoid someone might’ve seen me walk the whole way there for no reason so I pretended that I had crossed for a reason and pretended to inspect the tiny, generic park that was on the other side like, “oh yes, this is a nice park, oh yes indeed, so worth the trip, yes” for about five minutes before sheepishly ducking my head and crossing back over the bridge.

On my way back, I looked over the edge and resist the urge to give this the finger:

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Yeah, I see you, you smug bastard.
In conclusion: you win this round, Google.

Out of spite (stupidity), I disregarded Google Maps attempts to direct me back to where I needed to go and decided to make my own way. Apparently I don’t learn lessons well.

I probably added at least 15 minutes onto my trip back, and my route also took me into the more dodgier side of town, as evidenced by the sudden increase in smashed bottles, shifty-looking people, the occasionally screaming homeless and the types of stores around:

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Stay classy, Vancouver.
BUT, when I ducked into a 7-11 for water, I came across the most wondrous thing ever.

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A GUARD CAT
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“Who would cross into the 7-11 must answer me these questions three…”
I’m like 90% sure all stores should have a guard cat. And also that because my route allowed me to discover said guard cat, I win this round against Google. Or sort of win. Give me 0.001 of a point at least.

Anyway. So the convention. I will say one thing off the bat: the people I met there were incredibly and overwhelmingly nice and friendly. There was an amazing sense of camaraderie and togetherness that really impressed me. I made friends, never had to spend a moment alone if I didn’t want to and in general felt very welcome and accepted.

It was an interesting mix of people – I wouldn’t be able to tell you if it was predominantly old or young people to be honest. There were older fans who had probably been following the show for a long time, and younger fans who’d maybe just started watching. And really young fans, who dressed in heels and pretty skirts and batted their eyelashes at the lead stars as if hoping that yes, YES, this married-with-kids-famous-actor absolutely IS going to see you, FALL INSTANTLY IN LOVE AND LEAVE EVERYTHING BEHIND TO BE WITH YOU.

I know better.

… NO INSTEAD WHAT’LL HAPPEN IS I’LL MAKE A FUNNY JOKE AND THEY’LL THINK I’M HILARIOUS AND BE MY BEST FRIEND AND WE’LL HANG OUT AND HAVE INSIDE JOKES AND DRINK TOGETHER AND –

I’m just kidding.

Ahem.

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I mean, in any case, for my plan to work I’d have to actually be able to talk to the dudes, which is something I’m apparently incapable of doing. I had a photo-op with one of the stars of the show and my particular favourite, and spent the time in the line, slowly inching closer, with my eyes most likely extremely creepily staring at him, noticing that he was in a particularly chatty mood, conversing with most of the people at least sparingly, and in my head I was crowing, “yes, YES, I will talk, I WILL DAZZLE HIM WITH MY WIT, JUST YOU WATCH.”

And then it was my turn, I had a fleeting look up at his face, thought, NOPE, and centred my gaze somewhere at chest height in a pointed attempt to keep from hyperventilating.

“Nice shirt!” he said. “Aren’t you hot though? I’m sweating like crazy in this shirt!”

I replied with something along the lines of, “I – no – shirt – sweater – I – ok” and dissolved into vaguely hysterical giggles.

Good job, Shae.

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Yes, he’s that tall. Yes, I’m that short.

Aside from the day-time panels, the photo-ops and autographs, and a merchandise area that I spent far too much money in, the convention also had a few nighttime events, including a karaoke night on the Friday and a concert on the Saturday night.

As was the running theme of the whole trip, I made friends with a girl in line for the karaoke night, who introduced herself as being from Ireland. I couldn’t have asked for a better karaoke companion, because a few minutes in, when the inevitable “Bohemian Rhapsody” played and we swayed in the crowd, she turned to me and said, “Have you ever seen Father Ted?”

To which I squealed, “YES!”

And then we both simultaneously shouted, “GRAHAM NORTON!” and proceeded to quote back and forth. For those who have no idea what I’m referring to, do yourself a favour and watch this:

And now you will never hear “Bohemian Rhapsody” the same way ever again. You’re welcome.

The concert on Saturday night was preluded by a pub crawl of sorts. I had read about the pub crawl on Facebook and was dithering in the hotel foyer, debating whether or not to attend, worried because I knew no one, worried because the pub they were going to was about 10 minutes away, worried because I didn’t know where the group was, wishing there would be a sign to tell me what to do –

A woman walked up to me and said: ‘hey, if you’re going to the pub crawl, follow me.’

As far as signs went, it was pretty straightforward.

At the concert itself, I nabbed myself a position in the “mosh pit” of sorts near to the side of the stage. The usher/organizer rattled off some rules to us in the mosh pit (the usual: don’t run on stage, don’t push and shove, don’t kidnap celebrities, I’m looking at you, you crazy Aussie chick, yeah I see you) and then gestured to the side and told us that the deaf patrons would be next to us with their translators. “So be aware of them,” she finished, and then added, “and if you’re anything like me you’ll probably end up watching the translators the whole time because it’s really cool.”

Right, I snorted to myself, I’ll stare at the translators rather than celebrities, right.

So, I stared at the translators rather than the celebrities.

Look, it was fascinating. They were getting into it – these translators were amazing, rocking out as they signed; one girl was a rockstar. People actually watching the real show kept jostling me and I’d shoot them a glare as if to say, “look, buddy, I’m trying to watch these sign language translators ok? Just calm your farm.”

It wasn’t until people started screaming “JENSEN ACKLES!” – one of the stars of the show who was making a rare appearance to sing –  that I figured I should probably pay more attention.

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You’ll notice the video cuts off at the end as he turns to face us. That was the point I got shoved to ground and trampled in a fan girl rampage. I’m kidding of course.

… Kind of.

Like I said, no one ever said fan-girls were sane.

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*Wait. I think I missed a pun opportunity here?

 

 

Canada, Eh? Pt 3

So yesterday I went on a search for bears.

See, contrary to promises made to people back home about not actively seeking out a creature that could possibly maim and kill me, I was determined I would see a bear before I left Whistler. It seems like everyone in Whistler has seen a damn bear. Every second person you talk to will have some tale of a bear randomly crossing their path, entering their condo, appearing somewhere. Half these people didn’t even want to see a bear. And here I was, actively seeking out a bear, with arms outstretched, and no dice. Some of those people had even seen three bears. I mean that’s just being greedy.

Anyway. So I decided to hit the trail and going hiking. Someone had reccomened Lost Lake as a good hiking place so I headed in that direction. Without a map. Because clearly going hiking in the wilderness without a map is an entirely sane and good idea.

To be honest, it’s a wonder I didn’t end up somehow turning into the guy from that movie In To The Wild… except, you know, he actually had plans to be lost in the wilderness and supplies and all I had was a packet of gummy bears and my phone charger because apparently I still chuck my phone charger into my backpack despite the fact I’ll be in the middle of the woods. Woods have charging facilities right? 

Anyway. It was all ok, because some helpful person had left markers to help guide stupid people like me who go places without maps.

It occurred to me whilst blithely following each of these very obviously hand-written signs that this would be an excellent way for a serial killer to lure people to their deaths – everyone would just happily following these deaths and then, boom! Killed with a machete.

It wasn’t a particularly comforting thought to have at the time.

But back to the bear search. In an attempt to maximise chances of sighting a bear, I decided to take every little side path or path off the beaten track that no other people were on. The ones that led deeper into the woods. The ones that, y’know, were probably more likely to see me killed by the Crazy Forest Hermit. I mean they didn’t explicitly tell us there was a Crazy Forest Hermit, but, c’mon, of course there is. Mind you, if Crazy Forest Hermit did try to kill me, chances are I’d scream, “WAIT, DON’T KILL ME, I HAVEN’T SEEN A BEAR YET!” And the Hermit would pause, look incredulous and say, “you haven’t seen a bear yet? Dude, it’s Whistler” because it would be just like the Crazy Forest Hermit to rub it in like that.

In the first hour, I saw a grand total of zero bears, but I did manage to see… squirrels! Look, I know a lot of you don’t understand this obsession with squirrels, but it’s just: we don’t have them in Australia. And they are these teensy creatures with poofy tales and big eyes and how can you not love them!?!

Also, apparently, as I learnt that day, they are also extremely angry little creatures.

Come closer, motherfucker. I dare you.

Honestly, the closer you get, the more they chatter and dance up and down like they’re literally going to lunge for you. My thought process went from “awww what a cute little thing!” to “holy shit is that thing about to leap from the tree and gouge my eyes out?!?” At which point, I felt genuine fear and quickly scuttled away.

Which didn’t really bode well for if I did come across a bear, because, well if a squirrel could scare me…

Although that point was irrelevant, because, alas, I encountered no bears on my three hour hike. I encountered many squirrels, one chipmunk, one disgustingly oozy slug and also one man who I swear was sunbathing in the nude on the jetty, and I went to take a photo to be like, “is this dude naked?!?” and then it occurred to me that I was trying to zoom and focus my camera to take a photo of a naked man and I quietly put my phone away, walked away and reevaluated my life choices.

So I was resigned to leave Whistler this morning without my desired bear sighting. I loaded onto the bus, settled in my window seat and watching the scenery fly by. A sign came into view as we drove: “CAUTION: BEARS NEXT 60M” and I thought to myself, “PFFFFTTTT, as if, what LIES, there are no bears, this is a conspiracy I bet, a Canadian conspir – OH HOLY SHIT THATS A BEAR THATS A BEAR OVER THERE ITS RIGHT THERE OH MY GOD OH MY GOD.”

Yes, in the distance, a black trundling figure, a GODDAMN BEAR. Just as I was leaving. I squealed and gasped and got excited and pointed it to other passengers who looked slightly bemused and very disinterested and I can only assume they are bear sighting aficionados.

So I arrived in Vancouver early morning and decided that, after so much nature and beauty over the last few days, I really needed to balance it out with some good old fashioned retail therapy. I checked google maps and it told me a particular store I wanted to visit was a 1 hour and 40 minute walk. People told me it was a significantly less amount of time if I actually took a moment to figure out public transport and to them I say, bah! If I didn’t need maps in the wilderness, as if I need public transport!

And, in any case, to all those believers in so-called “public transport”, a bus ride means you miss on vital sights.

Like more squirrels.

“Listen, human, you better have food or I’m going.”
“No food? WE OUT.”

See my walk to the shops took me right through the gorgeous Stanley Park, which, as well as being picturesque and peaceful, was also apparently home to a lot of squirrels. And not just the little squirrels I’d been seeing either: there were grey squirrels and black squirrels and red squirrels. It was like “one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish” but with squirrels.

Unfortunately the grey and black squirrels didn’t seem to understand that I meant them no harm and was not a danger, because they all fled instantly from me, not realising all I wanted to do was to love and cuddle and smuggle them to Australia to live with me for all eternity like some sort of crazy squirrel woman. 

… maybe they did realise that.

Canada, Eh? Pt 2

I’m not going to lie: heights is one of my biggest fears. It’s right up there, not quite on par with spiders, but pretty damn close. 

(But, I mean, truly, what could possibly ever beat spiders? Spiders are terrifying. They are frightening, highly unnecessary creatures with too many goddamn legs and a habit of vanishing the split second you take your eyes off them  and then you don’t know where the bastard has gone and IT JUST DISAPPEARED, IS IT ON ME? I FEEL LIKE ITS ON ME?!? OH MY GOD ITS PROBABLY ALREADY BURROWED INTO MY SKIN & LAID EGGS and at that point it’s generally best to just pack your things and leave because your house belongs to the spider now. It’s Spidertown.)

Anyway.

Back to heights. They are a huge fear of mine. But, weirdly and probably somewhat perversely, I always seem to book some activity involving heights at least once per trip. On my trip to New Zealand it was two activities – zip lining and a helicopter ride. I should apologise to that helicopter pilot sometime because I was so utterly terrified the minute we lifted into the air that I instantly put my head down and refused to look up or out the windows the entire ride. The poor guy was pointing things out – “and if you look to your left, you’ll see something amazing” – and I was just like, “NOPE, NOPE, NOPE. I AM NOT HERE, I AM NOT IN A TINY FLYING CONTRAPTION THAT IS FREQUENTLY BUFFETED BY WINDS. NOSIREE. HAPPY PLACE HAPPY PLACE.”

Anyway. This trip however, the heights thing was somewhat unintentional. I decided to head to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains & bought tickets for a gondala right up and though the peaks. Oddly enough, gondolas do not frighten me, even despite the height. 

(Note: this is actually extremely odd because while gondolas are fine, apparently when you put me on a slow-moving Ferris wheel ride, I will freak out, start crying and have a mini panic attack. Which an ex-boyfriend once discovered in what would undeniably end up a misguided attempt to surprise me with a romantic activity. I’d like to remind everyone that Ferris Wheels are glass boxes as well, with a crowd at the bottom, and everyone had full view of my crying, snot-based meltdown. A few of the children in the other Ferris Wheel boxes actually turned away from the view to watch with the crying girl mild fascination instead. I should’ve have gotten off & claimed to everyone that it was “performance art” and demanded payment.)

I managed to somehow make friends with a girl on the gondola ride up, which turned out excellently in my favour because while I was basically winging it, she actually had a plan & knowledge of the mountains & basically became my unofficial tour guide. She invited me to join her on a hike to the peak of Whistler mountain & I was like, “pssh, hiking, for sure, I’m super fit, this’ll be a breeze!” Annnd then we cut to about mid-way through the hike and I was more like, “oh Jesus, I’m dying, this is so hard, I’m so unfit” because the thing that I didn’t realise about hiking to the peak of a mountain is that it’s entirely uphill.

Totally surprising, right?

Anyway, so by the time we reached the top and after I had established that no, my legs were not going to fall off into a jellied heap, we did what you always do once you hike up a huge, strenuous hill; basically go straight back down again (sometimes I stop and think, man us humans have some strange hobbies.) Luckily, you didn’t walk back down from the peak. 

… And that’s when it was revealed that the descent down was not via gondolas, but in tiny exposed, open chair lifts. Which is about the time I turned to the girl and casually mentioned, “oh hey, yeah, so, I have a pathological fear of heights. No biggie. Except the part where it is a biggie & I’ll probably start crying on the way down.”

But, I’m going to be super proud of myself and say, no, I did not cry. I did, however, as the chair lift took off, have, “oh holy fuck this is fucking terrifying” tear itself from my mouth extremely loudly before I could stop it. Which is less embarrassing though, I think. 

“And if you look below, you’ll see imminent death should you fall.”
Me: “THIS IS FINE.”

We reached the bottom, and I was overcome with relief and satisfaction that I did not freak out (mostly relief). We were at this stage back to the original place we landed, still up on a Whistler Mountain, and we boarded another gondola across to Blackcomb peak.

Side note: not mist you see, but smoke.

And this is where the most glorious thing to happen all day happened. 

We. SAW. A. DEER. 

…. Kinda.

Anyway, still on a high from the deer sighting, I bounced off the gondola beaming, which is when my companion turned to me and said, “so, uh, I forgot to mention, there’s another chair lift down again.”

Here we go again…

But I mean, on the plus side, all the chair lifts from today mean I’m a total pro at them now. Hell, I’m not even scared of heights anymore after today.

…This is a lie. I’m still terrified. 

Canada, Eh? – Pt 1

The only downside to living in Australia (the endless killer animals, hideous summers and terrible accent aside) is that, if you want to go anywhere that isn’t Bali, it basically takes eleventy trillion billion years to get there. (And approximately eleventy trillion billion and ONE dollars, but that’s a whole other complaint).

My biggest mistake in booking these trips is that I will always, always book a late night flight, saying confidently, “that way I’ll sleep on the flight and wake up in time to land, all refreshed & ready to explore!” I have no idea what reality I’m existing in when I make this decision; it’s certainly not this one, because if countless, countless experience has taught me anything, it’s that I will not, cannot, am incapable of sleeping on a plane. Incapable.

Anyway. This Canada trip I booked a late night flight because that way I could totally sleep on the plane and wake up refreshed & ready to go when I land.

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Me to Myself
What I didn’t take into consideration when I booked my flights (the whole “YOU CAN’T SLEEP ON A PLANE SHAE FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST STOP MAKING THAT MISTAKE” thing aside) was that because it’s Australia & getting somewhere from Australia is time consuming and roundabout, there was a 7 hour flight to Hong Kong, 8 hours to be spent at Hong Kong airport, then another 12 hours to Vancouver. So basically my sleep was going to be out of whack no matter what I did.

It didn’t help that at the last second the 11.30pm flight leaving Australia got delayed and became a 1.30am flight. By the time I got onto the plane I was already so tired that I wasn’t tired anymore. I had trascended tiredness. I was beyond tired and was now awake. Only not actually 100% awake because my brain was clearly not functioning judging by those previous sentences, all copied & pasted from my own late night notes at 1am. Clearly I was in a philosophical mood.

So I didn’t sleep on the plane once we finally did board. No surprise. The only time I have managed what might be considered sleep on a plane was one trip when I decided that pre-flight wine was an awesome idea, got carried away with said idea to the point where, after making friends in the lineup to board, I was like, “what? I can totally skull this entire glass before we board! Challenge accepted!” and everyone looked confused because no one had actually said I couldn’t or challenged me, but I had already chugged the wine. Sooo… by the time I got on the plane it was more a “pass out” than an actual sleep.

Anyway. By the time I reached Hong Kong I was very tired and semi-loopy. I was basically a half-functioning zombie, leading to interactions such as the following when buying a drink at the Hong Kong airport. As a backstory, my outfit of choice for flying was overalls covered in burgers:

What? You don’t wear fast-food covered overalls to travel in?
Cashier (jokingly): Madam are you a fan of Madonna?

Me: Umm? Sorry?

Cashier: Madonna

Me: I… guess? She’s ok…?

(There is an awkward pause. The cashier looks at me like I’m crazy.)

Me (tries again): Her music is pretty good?

Cashier (slowly): It’s just I see a lot of Madonna in your clothes

Me (is confused): …

Man (is probably worried for my intelligence): The burgers…?

Me: The…? Oh. OH. (suddenly realising) MCDONALDS! Right! Yes! Oh my god! (starting to laugh too loudly) YES! Burgers! Right! I get it!

Cashier (now a bit awkward): Um. Here’s your receipt madam.

Me (repeating): McDonalds. Oh god. (To the cashier, meaningfully) McDonalds. 

Cashier: … good day madam.

And I took that as my cue to leave. The cashier was infinitely relieved.

In any case, another 12 hour flight and I arrived in Canada. By this point I was extremely sweaty, tired and the bad kind of hot mess that literally is just that: a hot mess. I was ready to get the hell out of the airport. The only thing standing in my way was waiting on my luggage.

So I dutifully took my place with the other travellers, watching as bag after bag emerged, feeling my temperature and irritation rise in the stuffy confines of the airport, a trickle of sweat running down my back, sticking my shirt to my skin. I started to huff audibly, roll my eyes, drum my fingers. In my head was a continuous mantra of “oh my god, what is taking so long, this is ridiculous, I can’t even believe this, god dammit” on repeat. I checked my phone, sighed again, looked to the baggage carousel and had a sudden realisation.

I was looking for the wrong bag. Namely my old suitcase

Which is the point where I very meekly, shamefacedly, tugged my new suitcase from the carousel that it had been steadily rotating on for about, oh, probably the last 10 minutes.

In any case, luggage in hand, I strode from the airport, intent on getting some fresh air at last, after so many hours either on a plane or indoors. I charged outside, breathed deep – and got a lungful of smoke.

As it turns out there’s been fires in Canada and the whole place is shrouded in smoke.

Anyway. I successfully managed to get on my bus to Whistler and I am now comfortably situated in my hostel. Very comfortably. As in I was like, I don’t even care it’s only 6pm, I will put on my sweat pants and Homer Simpson tshirt & collapse on the communal lounge.

ITS CALLED FASHION, LOOK IT UP

Death By Moose

So, I’m leaving for Canada this weekend.

And just to clarify I’m not leaving for the weekend, because the flight time to Canada from Australia is basically 24 hours, so to go “for the weekend” would involve arriving, stepping off the plane, stretching, then getting on another plane to go straight back home.

Although, that being said, the trip itself will not be excessively long; I’ll only be going for 11 days all up. Originally, I had planned to go for three weeks, but a change in jobs meant a loss of annual leave time (and, also now, looking back, I realize if I took that much time for a holiday, no matter how good my intentions would be to keep up with university work during that time… it really wouldn’t happen. But, ah, these 11 days, for sure. I’ll definitely study over them. Oh yes. Totally. Ahem.) Anyway. So yes, I had to cut the trip short.

But, you know, the reduced time just means that all the extra money I saved for the extended trip, I can now sensibly and responsibly put aside to save for a future trip. Like a mature adult.

Jokes. I’m just going to spend twice as much in 11 days instead. Of course.

Anyway. So I booked this trip last year some time, and because when I booked it was such a ridiculously long way in the future, I told myself to not think about it and to forget about it so the time would pass quicker.

So I did.

And it worked, it really did, the time just totally flew by!

Except.

The time just totally flew by and now the damn trip is in 2 days and I HAVE NEVER FELT LESS PREPARED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.

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Panic – A Tale in 3 Messages

 

And then, of course, because someone up there clearly thought that I just needed that little bit of extra stress, I also was contacted by my real estate agent and cheerfully advised that I would be having a rental inspection whilst I’m away, meaning that I also need to find a way to clean my apartment prior to leaving in 2 days.

I less-cheerfully responded back to them, “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?” And then scream-cried hysterically for a while.

(I didn’t. I said, ‘thanks for letting me know!’ and then smiled blankly whilst self combusting internally. It was much less satisfying).

My natural inclination was to immediately make a list of the things I need to do, because whenever I’m stressed I always make a list. I find it helps to have everything broken down and laid out in front of me, and plus I always feel super great about myself when I tick things off. So, yes. A list. Should help.

It did not.

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I have made an attempt to start on the list – I dragged my suitcase out and tried to start packing last night.

After about 20 minutes of packing, I stood back, looked at the suitcase and said, ‘so, that’s like my entire closet.’

Packing is not my strong point.

The prospect of sorting through what I’d just packed to cut it back to what, you know, I will actually need (I packed jumpers. It is 30 Degrees Celsius in Canada. I will not need jumpers. Why did I pack jumpers) seemed incredibly daunting at that moment, so my natural response was to retreat into my living room, pour a glass of wine and purposefully ignore the suitcase for the remainder of the night.

Natural responses are also not my strong point.

But, organizational issues aside, I am truly excited to be going on my trip. It’ll be my first time visiting Canada and I have to say I have extremely high expectations. These expectations relate mostly to moose and bear sightings. Going by what I have seen on television, I can only surmise that these creatures are roaming the streets and I will 100% definitely see one. Some of my friends have pointed out that in the interest of my safety and wellbeing it may be better that I don’t see a bear or a moose in case they, y’know, maul or kill me, but I told them to go away and stop standing in the way of my dreams.

But, that being said, if you do hear a story of an Australian girl killed in a rampant moose attack in Canada… it’ll probably be me. Just know I died doing what I loved.

Crash Test

So recently I paid a visit to my parents because it’s been far too long since my last visit, the guilt has been steadily eating me up inside and I miss them terribly. And also because, well, free food!

But mostly the guilt and missing them thing.

My parents live a hefty trek away from my apartment, in a suburb about 50 km from me. (That little titbit is for people who need to know distances. Those people are not me. I couldn’t tell you where anything is. I’ve lived in Australia all my life and still when people ask where a certain suburb is located, I will simply reply, tentatively, “… Aus…tralia?” with a question mark at the end of the sentence like I’m not even sure it’s in Australia because it might be a trick question, and you just never know.

Anyway.)

So my parents live a while away. It’s about a 50 minute drive. Or, alternatively, it’s also a 30 minute train ride, 5 minute walk to another train, and then a 50 minute train ride, and then either a 25 minute bus or a 15 minute, $35 taxi.

So you’d think the obvious option is to drive there right? Seems a simple decision to make?

Wrong. You are wrong my friend.

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What you have not yet factored in is the fact that I hate, loathe and despise driving, am simultaneously scared to death of it and am also absolutely terrible at it.*

Driving and I, we have a history. A long history. It’s not a good one. It’s a tumultuous history fraught with ups and downs. Like the celebrity romance stories you read in the $4 gossip magazines that you know are 100% totally true because a “friend of a friend” is quoted and, based on how much I’ve read about this “friend of a friend” they are totally experts and should be believed. So yes, like one of those stories. But minus the rich good looking people and the scandal-making nannies.

It all began when I was fresh-faced gal of 17 years old, first going for her license. A bundle of nerves and high hopes, unaware of the trials and tribulations to come, simply eager to gain the independence and freedom that having the ability to drive a car would grant her. A simpler time for me. I’m going to go ahead and label it BC, as in Before Crash.**

So I went for my driving test. For the most part, it was going quite well, with only a minor hiccup when the instructor told me to turn left and I after I turned he said, somewhat confusedly, ‘you do realize you just turned right instead, right?’ and I laughed somewhat hysterically and tamped down the urge to tell him that, no I didn’t know that because I hadn’t checked the left and right thing with my hands (making the L on my left hand for “left”) and had in fact just gone 50/50 with my guess. Instead what came out was, “oops.”

But it was a minor misstep and I still, still might’ve scraped myself a pass, had it not been for the car-park and the instruction that spelt out my doom:

“Ok, now reverse park next to one of these cars.”

Reverse parking is not my strong point. You might even go so far as to say it is the exact opposite of a strong point for me. It was the part of the test I had been dreading. But, in any case, I dutifully picked a spot, said a quick prayer, contemplated asking if I could also make a small human sacrifice to the Gods for good luck, thought the better of it and then attempted the manoeuvre.

Apparently the Gods were angry at the lack of sacrifice because I basically went straight backwards, too fast, and smashed directly into the back of the other vehicle.

There was a terrifying pause after I slammed the brakes on and we both sat there. I don’t know who was more shocked, the instructor or me.

The first thing he said was, ‘why did you do that?!’

To which I casually replied, ‘Oh, just wanted to spice the test up a bit, y’know?’

… OF COURSE I DIDN’T SAY THAT.

I didn’t say anything because, to be honest, there isn’t an actual reply to such a ridiculous question because I very clearly, obviously, did not do it on purpose. So while I floundered, panicked and tried to refrain from saying, “oops” again because I don’t think that would’ve gone down so well this time round, the instructor took charge.

‘Drive away’ he said.

I was sure for a moment I may have misheard.

‘Drive away’ he repeated.

So, still somewhat in shock, I restarted the car and proceeded to do just that, leaving behind the crumpled car in the carpark.

And that my friends, is the tale of how I both spectacularly failed my driver’s test and also became a quasi perpetrator/accessory to a crime.

It took years before I got back behind the wheel and attempted the test again. We’ll call this time AD – “After Dramatic-Fail.”

The second time round,  I drove about 300 metres down the street, almost pulled out in front of a 4 wheel-drive in a move that would’ve caused a spectacular, probably five car pile up, had the instructor pull the emergency break to stop me and then turn to me in the shocked silence and say, ‘so… that’s the end of the test now.’

It was about 3 minutes in.

I’ll assure the other drivers out there that, after going and successfully getting my license the third time round, I am a bit better than I was. I mean, the real turning point was when I asked my dad, ‘hey, Dad, so… roundabouts. How do they work? Do I just, like, go?’ and he very emphatically explained to me that “NO THAT’S NOT HOW THEY WORK JESUS CHRIST SHAE YOU GIVE WAY TO THE RIGHT, ALWAYS GIVE WAY TO THE RIGHT.”

So that helped.

But still, 50 minutes of sweat-inducing, tense driving vs a teensy*** bit longer on public transport, but the entire time I can spend reading a book in a relaxed manner? Yeah, is it any wonder which I pick?

I’ll add that my Dad says, every time I arrive, that I’m neglecting my poor car by never using it. He has successfully made me feel bad for my car that spends at least 28 days out of a month simply sitting parked. If cars could look forlorn, I’m pretty sure mine would be right now:

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My car giving me the silent treatment. It even has it’s back to me.

 

*Looking at this now, I realise the three factors may all be somewhat interrelated.

** Can you see where this may be going?

*** I’m aware that “teensy” may be an understatement. Just go with me on this one, ok?

It’s A Puzzle*

*no literally. This post is about a jigsaw puzzle.

 

The past month I’ve been on break from university, which is absolutely amazing and every moment has been a precious, precious gift from the Gods of Relaxation. See, I made the decision that university on it’s own was not stressful enough, so instead I would take on a full-time study load, fully online, whilst attempting also to work full-time, and possibly, in between the studying and the working and the studying and the mental breakdowns, possibly, possibly also find the occasional moment to sleep.

I try to tell myself that it’ll all be worth it when I come out the other side with my degree, but I’m doing a degree in History & English, neither of which have any real career guarantees and limited career options, so chances are when I graduate I’ll just come out the other side with a well-overdue severe mental breakdown from three years of balancing intense work with intense study. But hey. I’ll be the only mental patient with an Arts/Humanties Degree, so that’s something, right?

(It’s worth noting that I’ve had a few wine-fuelled conversations regarding what career path to take with my degree, and after someone pointed out that my usual response of “I’ll totally become like the female Indiana Jones!” was incorrect because he was an archaeologist, not a historian, I’ve had to now revise my answer. Someone has suggested something similar to that Nicholas Cage movie where for some reason he had to steal the Declaration of Independence (maybe? I may be misremembering… possibly because I tend to avoid Nicholas Cage movies on a whole). The most we came up with was “history degree + declaration of independence + Nicholas cage + ?? = profit.

…It’s a start, ok?)

But back to my university break.

At around the second week, I decided that I should try to do something to keep my brain functioning and in relative working order (a small attempt to counteract the inevitable brain cell death that all the red wine was causing), and I guess I was feeling a bit guilty for the fact that the majority of my weekend days were being spent reading fanfiction on the couch and eating junk food. Relaxing, sure, but also, when people asked what I was up to or what I did on the weekend, it was getting awkward to avoid eye contact and say “…uh nothing much” every single time.

So, naturally, I decided to go out and buy a jigsaw puzzle.*

I’ll preface by saying I haven’t done a jigsaw since I was probably 10 years old, if not younger, so my skills are… rusty, to say the least. And apparently, along with choosing the most stressful mode of study ever, I also enjoy taking simple pleasures like jigsaw puzzles and making them as difficult as goddamn possible:

Let’s choose the one that’s basically an all greenish ocean with a blue sky! As many solid blocks of indistinguishable colour as possible! Let’s choose an $8 puzzle so the quality is less than stellar, therefore making the puzzle itself just that tiniest bit different in colour to the box so you can’t even really match it up! Let’s spill water over the jigsaw pieces the first night so they swell & warp!

I messaged Lucy throughout the gradual deterioration of hope and enthusiasm:

 



At one point – after about three glasses of wine – frustration won out and I decided jigsaw puzzles were stupid, everything was stupid and that the manufacturers surely, surely left some pieces out of the puzzle box – surely. Which culminated in me shoving the small amount I had accomplished into a pile and pouting.**

The next morning I shamefacedly re-pieced those sections back together and managed to progress a little further over the next week:

But I’m still in the midst of a love-hate relationship and swing wildly between thinking, “I can’t wait to get home and attempt some more puzzling!” and sitting on my couch, pointedly not looking at the puzzle, as if the inanimate object would understand that I’m giving it the silent treatment.***

My aim is to have it finished before university starts up again in a week, because I’m nothing if not an optimist. I’ll keep you guys updated on how it goes, how many times I give up and throw the thing across the room, how many times I come close to calling the manufacturers and demanding the location of the “missing pieces, I just know they’re missing, you bastards planned this,  DON’T PUT ME ON HOLD!” or how many times I petition the government to put “warning: may cause mental breakdown in some individuals” as a disclaimer on all jigsaw puzzles.

But yeah. A week. Totally doable. Right?

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*Because apparently answering the question with, “a jigsaw puzzle!” was somehow… better?

** Not for nothing am I not the stereotype of a youngest child.

*** it doesn’t.