A subjective collection of perceptions. Things might impinge on our senses but still fail to register in the brain. Our internal filters are far more powerful than we might like to think. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was convinced that what are to us obviously faked photos of fairies were in fact real fairies captured on film. He believed that the photo shown below was real until the end of his life. So the mind’s eye (and ear) is a truly variable thing. What one person hears and sees is not necessarily what another perceives.
Every so often when your head is a mess and your sister says “do you wanna come to Tasmania with me tomorrow morning” and it means she books a flight and you head on five hours later you just gotta say yes to the lot and count your blessings.
My week involved meeting my new cousins, Aunty, uncle, family friends, eating scones, picking plums, lone driving up Tasmania to see the seahorse farm, and as a whole finding the serenity that can often only be found when removing myself from my daily situation.
Today my movie date with me ended in an Egyptian milk & honey bath.
“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.”
I very much love being with other humans but I receive my energy from being alone, daily. It’s been a little more than usual lately.
I specifically went to the shops to find something that will give me a milky bath and The Body Shop did not disappoint (and the girl told me I’d feel like an Egyptian princess, which I do).
Here’s some flicks because tbh when you have milky baths and a waterproof camera everything is copacetic. ❤️
I have some of my favourite conversations with a bunch of people while ubering. As soon as you start reading about or specifically learning about something your ability to draw those common interests out of others heightens. So this week there’s been a bunch of talk about real estate investment, music production, the importance of not only having friends but having mentors… how good home made pasta is. A lot of talk about the appreciation we have for our parents now that we know better than we did as teenagers and how they’re the most relatable humans and not to mention our heroes. I love looking through old flicks and genuinely knowing I have nothing in common with who I was or what I used to care about. I do appreciate where I’ve come from and how it’s shaped me, however. I’m happy to never be cool and to continue to be less and less cool daily if it means I get to follow my ultimate hero and Saviour Jesus Christ. I love change, I love progression, I love the reality in infinite and eternal progression because of Him.
Photograph is by the ever lovely Kristen Shaylee the gem, in 2012, the year the world didn’t end but the life of my hair did. #restinpieces
As some and not so many may be aware, my present and only form of income at current is as an Uber driver (of a month). I’ve heard a bunch of mixed reviews on the fact, generally positive, but if we were to narrow it down to specifics -yes, some people would be the worst for it and others would just be stoked with their life doing it (which I am). For this period in my life it is genuinely the best job I could consider having (involving and not limited to factors including flexibility, accountability, location, study schedule, ability to build projects elsewhere.. and let’s be honest, it is good money if you’re specific and smart with the hours you choose to do it). There’s a bunch of questions people ask in and outside of rides concerning the work and life in general, and a significant amount of repeated conversations I have (and no complaints here- because this makes the job that much easier) so I thought I’d scribble some rubbish concerning possible conversational themes/ non-conversations or relationships I continually have and will without fail continue to have at least once each journey with future passengers for the remaining duration of my driver life. If you were to respond to the exact same question another person asks with the exact same answer does it make you any less genuine? Nope. There’s no reason to change your responses if your opinions or life experiences still stand.
Concerning small talk
I knew coming into the passenger-vehicle work small talk would be a great deal if not the bread and butter spoken content within the confines of my car. Initially I wasn’t too keen but to be honest it’s really a very very easy thing to do. A person gets in your car, you are literally whoever you decide to be every time. It’s amazing. They don’t know you would prefer to not ask bland questions about their day and the weather and their job but honestly it’s become one of the most rewarding parts of being a driver. I think it pretty much reaffirms in a very simple way how capable we are of doing things we dread initially and loving it in turn. It’s whatever. I like talking about and asking about peoples’ lives because I feel like my social skills are amplified daily and my ability to relate to others is forever increasing. And to be honest, the rating system doesn’t affect the way your drivers treat you or speak to you, btw. We’re not going to get any less work if somebody every now and again doesn’t like us (or our lack of navigational skills… a recent heart ache).
“Do you like it?”
I actually love it. I don’t know how many jobs I have had (those requiring no qualification) and I can confidently say this is the best one. How does it work? I turn on my app, I am now online. Give or take 10 minutes I’ll get a ride request in the area to pick somebody up. During the ride I’ll usually get my next ride request. The ride ends, I rate the passenger, I drive to my next passenger. I keep doing this until I feel like finishing. I then click offline. I also can track how much I’m earning per ride throughout the time in which I am driving and see how much I’m earning daily, weekly, etc. It’s all there. I get paid weekly, or I can get paid daily if I click that option. I choose to work nights because I prefer to capitalise on my awakeness. Since the age of 14 I’ve had trouble sleeping at night (or deliberately have chosen to be awake dependent on how you look at it).Without fine details I am always awake at night. On my mission I lay in bed every night for several hours and listened to my companions sleep (or sleep talk, sometimes in Swedish) and eventually sleep a couple of hours before the 6.27am alarm. So at this point if I’m awake I may as well make money doing it. I also love how grateful people are when you come grab them from the middle of nowhere at 3am. SO grateful. It’s really cool, like it feels like I’m performing some kind of life changing service but really I’m making money where I can and other human beings are just awesome at being kind to me. It’s nice. I also get to have siq convos with a generous amount of interesting people.
“What’s your other job?”
I change my response to this every time because it does get boring walking around salary taboo, or explanation of my position concerning my age. (Side note: I actually prefer to share my income with people because it doesn’t bother me.) It also depends on how long the trip is going to be. I don’t have another job, at current. I just quit my last job of six months. Prior to that I was a volunteer proselyting missionary in Sweden for 18 months. Prior to that I studied and worked in voice and acting and television and makeup artistry and did a tiny stint being a photographed human being (the word model is one of my least favourite, we are all some kind of visual representation of at least one person’s aesthetic ideal, are we not?). I’ve never specifically planned on being one thing or doing one thing for the rest of my life. I care about developing in whatever ways feel right, and somehow for me that means constant change employment and location wise. It feels good and it always has. I’m moving again soon, and I will be studying music production/ audio engineering shortly. The flexibility of my job kills me in the best way possible, I can’t even believe how blessed I am.
“Do you feel safe?”
I probably get more of this question because I am a female and prefer to drive at night but the simple answer is yes. I feel very safe. It’s a safe system. I drive on the Central Coast which I feel is a contributing factor as opposed to doing the same thing at the same times in Sydney city. But working for Uber as a whole all our rides are tracked, and your credit card/ paypal details are stored in Uber’s system so you’ll always pay and never be not found should you be a creep. As many people have been creepy passengers as times as I’ve been a creepy driver. I feel pretty confident in my discernment abilities and it works out great. I’m allowed to reject as many rides as I see fit should I feel it wouldn’t be a safe one.
The taxi haters
I actually feel sorry for taxi drivers because ‘the most popular taxi company doesn’t own any taxis and the most popular hotel company doesn’t own any hotels.’ They had their stint and everyone would just rather pay less to get a ride home, with a friendly driver, no less. I’ve met some great taxi drivers but the general consensus of those entering my vehicle and choosing to talk about cabbies is that they’re all grumpy old men who hate their job and hate Uber drivers. I’d be displeased too, I didn’t have to fork out anything further than $29 to get my passenger vehicle license and start picking up passengers. Sure I had to have my full license, years of experience, no criminal record and a car <10 years old with four doors aircon and radio but really, it’s actually just too bad for them. Especially since Uber doesn’t accept remodelled taxi vehicles or Ford Falcons in order to steer away from the Taxi brand should they ever decide to convert to Uberism.
“Do you ever get any idiots?”
The funniest thing about this question is that EVERY person who asks it also points to their mate in the back seat and says something like ‘aside from Gary over here’. They all laugh like it’s the first time anyone’s ever said it. I still laugh every time, but only because my life gets funnier with repetition, not the joke. Ofcourse I get idiots in my car. They’re all pretty good at respecting the vehicle and me so bad jokes or singing or any alcohol induced behaviours are the least of my concerns.
The existential conversationalists
I’ve probably been handed some of the most beautiful conversations and insights by faceless strangers in the dark of my vehicle late at night. From life goals to how we’re going to change the world to solving world poverty to lessons learnt through travels to reasons we live in a blessed country to philosophy to conspiracy to moral and ethic—every conversation is to be had, and you’re going to have it in my car. It’s just as important to absorb others’ information as it is to share it.
The discloser of secrets
There’s something magical about entering a strangers’ car and having them be a listening ear for 20 solid minutes in the dead of night, knowing you’ll probably never see them again. I’ve had people tell me secrets they’ve never disclosed nor have been willing to discuss with people closest to them and I feel like it’s making the world a lighter place in an interesting way. It was like that as a missionary as well. People just trust you when they know you’re living an elusive life or have fleeting presence. It creates a wall between anyone and really knowing you but builds a bridge for everyone you’d like to know. That’s why my hair is so big (it’s full of secrets).
The non-talkers/ the rides where the driver doesn’t exist
I’ve had conversations about where is considered a courteous place to sit yourself in the vehicle as a passenger and generally I’m told: sit in the front if you’re alone in an Uber car, and sit in the back if you’re in a taxi. Whenever people sit in the back (when it’s only one person) it feels kinda unsettling to be honest. I still do my regular small talk with them but you can generally tell if they don’t feel like talking, which is completely cool and I like that, too. Nothing better than a bit of comfortable silence. I’ve also concluded that in my car having the radio/ Spotify volume at 24 is the perfect level to have it at warranted there’s no conversation. There’s nothing unsettling nor rude about a little white noise. When there are groups of people who get in the car and don’t talk to you that’s chill, too. It does get confusing however when you think they’re directing a question towards you but they’re asking a friend sitting behind them. It’s good to be a little fly on the wall and get paid for it.
Your best mate
There’s always one or two who get in your car and decide they’re your bestie immediately. They’re keen to converse about everything and anything, and ask you questions in return (important detail!) because interested is interesting. Can we make some detours? Ofcourse. There’s always a maccas run or a servo stop or a couple of places they hadn’t put into the map initially. It doesn’t super matter because just so everyone knows: We still get paid for every kilometre and minute you’re in the car. There’s really no big favour involved. Pretty sure a lot of people think they pay for an Uber before it comes to pick them up but really, Uber give them a ride estimate and then as soon as the driver ends the ride on their app the physical amount comes out of your account.
We’ve got a big year ahead of us, my friends! Before everything gets up and running and approved I won’t be able to expound too much on the v v v exciting development regarding my upcoming Uber travels but know there are cool things coming my way and your way- blog reading wise and your own life wise. Keep your eyes peeled (which means to open your eyelids, not physically peel your eyeballs) gr8 x
For the past two weeks I had the opportunity to be in the ever beautiful, charming, tropical island of Sri Lanka and consequently had the blessing of meeting the most incredible human beings on planet Earth. The more I know the more I know how little I know. The more I see the more I realise how little experience, knowledge and culture I have or have been exposed to. No photograph nor words will do my time justice, but read on to see my attempt.
I consider myself very minimally travelled. I haven’t set foot on too many lands let alone discovered my own (tba coming soon though~). Because it is fairly arbitrary to end up in Sri Lanka of all countries, the simple explanation is my sister Buddy who lives in the EU was on photography assignment in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka for several months. Sri Lanka being her last of this particular job she invited me along and we decided to meet while she work and I tag along. Dopest decision, too.
Throughout my time in Sri Lanka I wrote a small journal in the notes on my phone, often one-line here and there with very little detail so I promised myself when I had physical keys and a deskspace I’d expound asap. We stayed in 7 different places over the duration of our time, some of which were hostels, some with locals, and regrettably (only for historic purposes, but thankfully) one hotel. (It was one time!)
We began in Colombo, then Unawatuna, Udawalawe, Ella, Kandy, back to Colombo then Negombo.
I think the one thing I couldn’t stop saying in my first day (and constantly throughout my time) over and over was, ‘Wow, I know nothing. I’ve been living under a rock.’ In Australia I’m a middle-class citizen– I earn money, I spend money, I have a car and a bed and normal things- I’m not particularly rich nor poor. That’s what I thought, anyway. I’ve never visited a developing country and I was sharply reminded of how high (not comparatively, but genuinely high) my monetary status is and my lack of worldly knowledge and experience in general. I don’t feel it’s a proud nor boastful statement to make to say I am an extremely wealthy citizen of Planet Earth, just an educated one. They say, ‘If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.’ My western friends, I dare you to stay in a developing country for a week- and do not stay at an anything-star hotel because you’ll learn nothing new about your living circumstances or socioeconomic status. The wider my eyes open the less closed they become. I will spend the rest of my life reducing my ignorance. I still have much to learn.
I have come to discover a lot of things in my time, not only about the world, but about myself. More than ever have I unearthed without having controlled my having been born into a Western society first world country: how white I really am.
Tuk Tuks (pronounced took took)
These are my absolute favourite mode of transportation on Earth. A three-wheeler, motorised vehicle with the driver in the front and what I thought should probably fit 2.5 (or 10 tiny) humans in the back. Sounds like a lawnmower. You will take rides with these vehicles everywhere, they are the popular taxi choice because most people don’t have cars. Oh and they fit on half a lane. And road rules don’t really apply, for anyone. Despite the crazy traffic and movement of vehicles and how close we were to every other truck or tuk tuk or motorcyclist or stray dog sitting on the road and the constant beeping and being able to sit your feet out the side and fall out if you wanted to- I felt completely safe the whole time (considering we’d catch 3-7 tuk tuks a day). The drivers are different over there, and based on their environment I’d say far better skilled, too. The most important thing was to ask if the driver had a meter, because if not your gleaming white skin would scream the desire to be ripped off 25 times the cost of a local. No exaggerate, bra. Otherwise you’d have to bargain yourself out of that one. And nobody has change for 5000 rupees- nobody but the bank. And a bank will not be easy to come by. But a random gem store will be! We often found ourself taken on an inconvenient detour to a gem store by multiple tuk tuk drivers. Where we’d get the ‘come in, just look, no buy.’ I mean we do have money, but not for gems. We’d then walk out after having been given the whole spiel about how genuine these items are and what price we’re willing to buy them for and deciding despite the effort these salespeople make, we still don’t want gems- the convenient walk through a tea store (the ONLY way out) and given another set of reasons to buy this time all kinds of tea we’re not going to use. It was genuinely exhausting having to bargain your way out of just getting to your destination you requested of your taxi driver in the first place. It was amusing upon finally leaving the gem store we didn’t request to come by only to see another tuk tuk roll up with another unsuspecting white sucker in the back. Hahaha.
Bargaining/negotiating the cost of your Western money
My sister taught me a lot about how far our money is meant to go, and how to be the least ripped off possible. At the end of the day you’re still going to be spending more rupees than the locals but far less dollars than you would in your own country for the exact same item or service. It’s a fair trade for the experience. And it makes absolutely no sense how grand the two ends of the economic spectrum are on Planet Earth. Additionally I never really thought things I would consider law or ethics could be malleable or negotiable but it’s just another indicator of my lack of worldly experience. At the beginning of the trip Bud would be doing all the bargaining and I would just watch (she had already learnt the ropes for a couple of months in India and Nepal). Simple rules, ‘If they quote 1000 rupees, say 500. Negotiate to half the cost they give you and take it from there.’ You’ve got a good place to start. It was also wise to have smaller notes on hand because ‘that’s all you’ve got’. And keep your 1000 rupee notes out of sight because they’ll conveniently have no change for you. I remember the first time I bargained alone and I felt like a boss dog. I was sitting on the beach romantically watching the sun set alone in a very tourist area and a Sri Lankan woman came up to me and tried to sell me these bed sheets (?) but they were actually pretty cool so I thought it would be a great place to start. In the words of the notes on my phone, ‘Woman tries to sell me bed sheet for 2000 rupees, I say 1000, she says two for 3500, I say two for 2000, she says one for 1500 I say one and a top (she was selling a bunch of tops too) for 2000 she agrees to both for 2100. This is wild.’ And it started there. I feel like I got better, and with being a little more aggressive about it, too. But only a little bit, ha. I lost my mind (in the best way possible) when we would enter a store with fixed pricing. It’s an exciting day when you don’t have to make an effort over purchasing simple items locals are clearly getting for a tenth of the price. There was no break, ever. As soon as they see you they greet you, they’re kind, but when they’re selling things it’s a deal breaker in terms of holding a casual conversation- you WILL walk away having bought something. It was also strange receiving what seemed like a person being kind and then the expectation to pay up for ‘happy fun’. When it boiled down to it, however, with the knowledge of how far the Australian dollar goes in their country, and their living circumstances, I was alright with chucking a bit of happy fun money around. I felt like I was throwing money like a high roller on a regular basis.
International celebrity enters town
The most awesome thing was how much people just adored the fact that you weren’t from there. As soon as they see the white skin, they all smile and wave and leave their homes and surround you and come up asking to get photos with you, even if it’s just on your phone and they’ll never even see it or you ever again. I think the cutest thing is this one time we visited a school and an entire room was filled with kids, all eyes on you, waving and smiling and giggling to their friends when you waved back, and then they get to practise their English asking you your name and just being plain STOKED that you respond and even showed up to their school or took the time to wave back. It’s crazy, it’s cool, it’s unwarranted but it’s beautiful.
Food in general
I’m not going to spend too much space on this, the food is what I expected. Rice, curry. Boiled eggs. Breakfast lunch dinner. The curry is hot no matter how un-hot they say it is. We haven’t been conditioned to spice the way they have. I’m also certain I gained weight in Sri Lanka, not because of the food I was given, but the amount of effort I made to buy additional Western food on the side to eat. It just didn’t feel right eating rice and curry for breakfast despite the educational/ cultural experience it provided. I ate a lot of extra meals. I discovered about myself I have a very comfortable way of living and doing and being and the food I have readily available to me is no exception. I’ve become more flexible in a lot of ways I see important but I’m pleased to continue to eat spaghetti and salads and sandwiches and cereal in cold milk.
Water, showering & toilet sessions
The water is not in drinking condition there so most people had a filter or we would just buy it bottled. It was different brushing my teeth with a bottle and trying to limit the amount I’d use based on how much I wanted to drink. I’ll admit I gave up on brushing my teeth for extended periods of time. A Westerner invented that anyway. Hygiene to the extent we observe is a social construct.
I didn’t get the bucket of water experience like a lot of people do because the places we stayed did tend to have running water, sometimes just out of a tube, no less. Often if not only cold water. That threw me off showering. I tried to be a brave clean girl and shower from time to time but it just ended up being my standing there and quickly putting one limb after the next under the cold water for a half second at a time. It was chill. No, actually. It almost felt pointless showering knowing I was going to somehow get dirty while doing it because I was in an outdoor shower or somebody was burning their rubbish nearby or I was in mud or being eaten by mosquitos or just about to put on dirty clothes shortly thereafter or just walk in dirty air in general. I’m astonished by how conditioned I am to my Western life but there it is.
A lot of places Western people stay they’ll provide toilet paper. Sometimes it was there, often it wasn’t. There’s a (sometimes very high pressure) hose hooked up next to all the toilets and you use it to blast yourself after you’ve done your business 🙂 An exhilarating experience every time.
The animal experience was something else. I think the most excited I got was when there were monkeys on the roof. Or monkeys playing on the road, or monkeys jumping across the trees. I like monkeys a lot. I even stashed some bananas just in case I got to feed one, but it didn’t happen. I also wasn’t sure what I was meant to do about my clothes drying outside on the balcony if monkeys were going to steal them. I have no clue what they do or if it’s a thing they would do. But exciting no less. There were heaps of elephants in the most wild parts and we got to see many happy ones on our safari. The birds are cool too, but I wasn’t excited about them because we have a lot of cool birds in Australia. There were stray dogs every other metre on the road, it was very interesting to see. Considering myself a dog enthusiast it was like looking at a completely different animal altogether. I never saw them happy or frantically greeting people or wagging their tails. Just sleeping or scrounging for food or just in sight or sitting on the road not getting hit by tuk tuks. They weren’t dogs like I know dogs, just blank.
The weather was more humid than I’ve ever known. I wasn’t aware my hair could get so boofy either. We arrived during a monsoon and it was dope. It was cool never knowing if it was going to be boiling hot or thick rain belting down the next minute.
A tiny favourite experience
We took a four hour train from Colombo to Unawatuna and ended up talking to a man towards the end of our ride who gave us some mangoes out of his bag as a gift. Shortly thereafter he got up and quickly told us it was our stop and making our quickest exit to the door with our luggage in all the hands we had and mangoes in the other non existent hand, Buddy and the man got off the train while I was still lugging my stuff over to the door. In a strange fuzz of fuzzy I realised the train was no longer at a holt but was moving at an increasing rate, all while I’m standing at the door, with a suitcase in one hand, bag and mangoes in the other, looking outside into the darkness with my sister slipping out of view in the middle of a tropical nowhere in a foreign land. In some unprecedented flash of unmeasurable time I realised I needed to jump off the moving train- the man who had given us the mangoes started to run alongside the train and reached out his hands from the platform, took my hands and mutually decided it was time for me to jump, pulled me off with all my stuff, the ground moving beneath me- and all in the same breath he ran and jumped straight back on the train in order to get to his destination. I looked up immediately into the trees wondering what had just happened and saw fireflies for the first time in my life. Later that evening when we had dropped off our stuff at the hostel we went to the beach where they had restaurants in the sand and a fire and it felt like a scene from the OC (specifically when Ryan just moves to town and Luke beats him next to the fire on the beach and colourfully says, ‘Welcome to the OC.’). I then danced interpretively with a Russian woman while waiting for dinner.
To end my highly condensed account, and to add to my bank of experiences I will only get once in my life is that of a full body (yes.) massage and paying a woman for something I never anticipated in my life. I’ll tell you in person.
Here’s a tiny speck of photographs