Category Archives: happiness

A quick note to myself

Next time I am scared, or hesitant; next time I underestimate myself or an experience, next time I judge or class something before experiencing it, next time I try to play it safe, next time I attempt to follow someone else’s formula or rules, I should remember exactly how it is that I feel at this moment.

There isn’t anything in life to stop you from happiness except yourself and the way you look at the world around you. At this moment my heart seems to balloon up out of my chest so that is almost hard to remain on the ground. These travels teach me what a stunningly beautiful and good place the world is, and on a basic level, the people in it as well. Meeting all of these people and hearing them speak their minds, seeing the colours of the world; the golden hue of Central Park, the fading greys and blues of the snow-topped mountains around Seattle, the inexplicable texture of a cloud as it slips past a plane window makes me feel tiny and giant simultaneously. I want to be able to express the goodness that radiates out of great big huggable Gareth, or Olga, proud and defiant, the nuttiness of Zak who is all giggles or Anna whose flair for drama makes me look tame. Amazonian Bree who somehow thinks on the same train tracks as I do, or quiet, self effacing Sa’adia who makes people love him without saying a word.

These people show me that there is no cause to be scared or sad or hesitant in a new endeavour. With so much good around to be discovered, all that I can alter is how good my response to it all is. The most important part of the friends you make overseas is that though you might never see them again they will always be able to colour that part of the world for you. San Francisco is not just the sun on the bay or the pearls of the bridge at night; it is the swirling colours of CZ’s walls and the people within them. It’s the way Alex’s eyebrows make a teepee when he asks if you’re alright, and that feeling when you hit the end of a cracking swingout on the 9.20’s illegally slippery floor. The people whom you treat as special treat you in the same way. And that’s what makes you become a person who is valuable. The world can dwarf you but the people in it make you a giant.

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

So my housemates are seriously discussing an intervention into my apparent dancing madness. It’s probably a good thing. A vague hiking trip to Lake Tahoe is planned, as are a few shopping days in San Francisco. I’m excited. This week I have a midsemester exam, and an assignment due, which is good. I’m coming to like the way things work here; there are always things due, but they are never worth very much, so you are never too stressed for an assignment.

The weather is still holding strong; it’s about 30 degrees every day which is lovely. This makes evenings in our house hot tub, or sleeping on the roof with 6packs of beer possible. I’m telling you, this is the life! 🙂 I’ve spent many lazy afternoons in the sun on campus lying on the grass.
The Campanile (giant Clocktower) at night, from below

The Geodome on the 30o’s roof where I have been sleeping the past couple of nights 🙂 isn’t that pretty?~

Last night was Oktoberfest at CZ so there was folk-y German music playing in the commonroom and a lot of beer. Fun times!


In other news; I’m very torn and trying to extend my stay here a little, if possible…. 5 months isn’t nearly enough! But am waiting to see what Melbourne Uni says about it. If not, I’ll just have to go on exchange again during postgraduate. Lau, we should totally go to the same place at the same time.
Otherwise, last weekend was boogie by the bay, a giant West Coast Swing event with a little Lindy Hop on the side. It was an experience, I’m telling you that!
What I learned:
• West Coast Swing is like the awkward niece of Lindy Hop who has gone off the rails a bit and no one likes to talk about.
• If you want to West Coast, you should quickly attain some fancy work pants, an off the shoulder sparkly top, and an ability to act out the words of a song as you hear them, charade-style. Also learn how to backlead.
• Many of the people who dance West Coast are Cougars and creepy old guys
• Listen to a lot of top 40 music. As a dj, play the same song more than once in a night, perhaps even in the same set.
• Learn how to body roll a lot and flip your hair. Learn how to stare deeply into your partner’s eyes without blinking whilst dancing.
• Learn how to dance lyrically and learn amazing spin technique.

As far as I could tell, that’s all you need to know to be able to fake it decently at west coast! Westies all dance down the line a lot which makes their dance floors very organized, with few collisions. We earned many dirty looks when we danced a bit of Lindy on those floors (Lindy is far more circular and disorganized, it moves around creatively as it wants to. Leads have to work far harder in Lindy to protect their followers from collisions.)

how wonderful are Bearded Rhythm?!

So the weekend was grand heaps of fun, a small event Lindy-wise, but still good times! This weekend is Sacramento Lindy exchange, which should be small and heaps of fun!

Finally, Laura, you know how when I was packing you let me bring hardly any clothing at all? Remember how you said I would go shopping and buy heaps of stuff?

Well you lied! I haven’t had time to yet, and I’m having to do washing almost every week! I’m practically wearing the same thing every day, and its more than a little frustrating! Gah!

the sun this morning over campus 🙂

To wrap up, MAZEL TOV to Bonnie for getting principal bass In the Australian Youth Orchestra, you should ALL go catch her playing sometime, she is a rockstar. 🙂

Also, Hannah, your package is the light of my life, and my room is fully adorned with glowsticks. You’re truly excellent!

Mbali: how were October tests? Not quite as good as Oktoberfest? (bahaha, hilarious me.)

Wow, bad jokes means it’s time to post this! xxxx

chairs atop the watermelon slice

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

I really, really do. I can’t remember who it was that said, before I left, “Oh! New Orleans! I know that place! We studied it in my geography class as the city most likely to be destroyed by natural disaster!”

Wow, I really hope that ever happens. This city, for lovers of jazz, is like going home. I was staying 5 minutes walk from the French quarter, where every thirty meters there is a veritable vivi-trap, in the form of live music, amazing live jazz. Combine this with an abundance of amazing, hardcore Lindy Hoppers, and you have vivi-heaven. New Orleans is my Vegas. After five days of solid dancing, very little sleep, and one hundred new friends, it has really captured my heart!

a random band jamming 🙂

First though, I have to thank Dad for my MAD AIRPORT SKILLZ. My first flight, to Houston, was delayed two hours, because of some technical fault. Whilst this distressed me, as it meant I would miss most of the Thursday night dance, I wasn’t really worried. Surely I would make it to New Orleans that night.

When it looked like we were going to touch down after the last flight to New Orleans left, I began to panic. Staying overnight in Houston, alone in a hotel when I could be dancing? aaaaagh! I thought; what would dad do? (if he was sitting in economy). He would do SOMETHING, for sure. So I worked myself into a bit of a state, went to the stewardess and with big earnest eyes said “Please, mate, I’ve come all the way from Australia for my brother’s wedding at 9am tomorrow in New Orleans. If I miss it, it will be completely devastating!”

The river and the city form the plane window!

They found me a spot on the plane. Thank goodness! no staying overnight in texas, in an airport!

Other than that, the weekend was incredible. A pool party in the French quarter at 2am Thursday night, a giant, second line parade with a big band on Friday – we danced through the streets of the city – it was CRAZY! There should be a parade like that every day, oh my goodness. We were solo jamming all the way around New Orleans 🙂

The firday night dance was my FAVOURITE. We danced on the Creole Queen riverboat on the MISSISSIPPI. Wow. Wow. How magical, two dancefloors, so much beautiful space, the riverboat, the river, the lights, the wind, the night. I was entranced. And then Meschiya Lake and the Little Big Horns for the late night, and when she sang Everybody Loves my Baby the floor went nuts! I got so injured; there was absolutely NO space to dance 🙂

Saturday was dancing outside in the markets. They set up a floor suspended higher up like a stage. But under the weight of so many people pulsing and bouncing on it, it was constantly bouncing! I loved it; it felt like you were dancing simultaneously with everyone on the floor!

The competitions on Saturday were fierce. Two Swedish girls were in the showdown semifinals against Sharon and Juan, and they brought it so hardcore. It was nuts! The judges were undecided twice and they just had to keep dancing, in the sun, in the heat. They were dying, but they didn’t show it!

Saturday night at the wax museum upstairs dancefloor; please, just watch Bobby and Chance dance off 🙂

Sunday early morning (6.30 am after the amazing late night finished) we went and got beignets, which are traditional New Orlean-ian donuts! They are COVERED with icing sugar, and when Raj (trouble maker) realized I had never had them before, he picked up the full plate and just blew icing sugar right into my face, and all over me! I looked like it was snowing, or I had severe dandruff, or I was on crack or something 🙂

the beignets!

sweet and sugary

Alex, Jenny and I

And as you can see, he got it all over my pretty pretty hairdo which Alicia, a new friend of mine did for me. Check out the 20’s pin curls! I NEED to learn how to do this. I’ve never felt so pretty!

(when I took the bottom out!)

Sunday I took classes with Chazz Young and Sugar Sullivan, some original Savoy ballroom dancers! I also met Norma Miller. What a sweetheart. That lady sure does love her fried chicken though.

There was so much more – a venue hop on Sunday afternoon where all the different bands were playing at once all on the same street. You went from bar to bar and danced and drank and talked. It was wonderful. And then Tuba Skinny playing Sunday night at the House of Blues was just my favourite. Amazing blues, amazing competitions, amazing dances. A beautiful space, to top it off! Tuba Skinny rock my socks. More beignets, because they are just amazing, and then a bike ride through the city in pursuit of the perfect frock on Monday, as well as a baseball game (hilarious, so all American!)

(before the dancing really got started)

What an adventure! It wore me out, inspired me SO much, and showed me just how amazing Jazz and Lindy Hop are all over again. I guess it’s getting to sound a bit obsessive to you all, but all I can really think of doing now is dancing. It is so full of joy, and everything I love! I have been on the biggest high all week. And I made so many great friends there 🙂

(porch swiiiing!)

After all that, I just wanted to say that to Lib and the people who keep checking this, I know you’re there, and I love you!

To Michael, who sent me a mug all the way from Budapest, you are WONDERFUL.

I saw these in NOLA and thought of you :)!

To Mum Dad and Mbali; I miss you!

To Poshi, aka. Sholecia, Happy Birthday lovely!

And to Hayden, just because I know you don’t like being left out: hi! 😉

Xxx

And that’s all I have to say about that.

from the plane window, sunset over the mississippi….

The Berkeley Diaries Cont….

Lots of wonderful things are happening! Small moments of productivity, big discoveries, down time, too much up time, but most of all this is a wonderful place to be.

Last night Kyle rocked up at CZ (literally, he broke in, I looked up and there he was in the living room) and kidnapped me into a concert at a place called Freight and Salvage. It was totally unexpected, and totally wonderful! This traditional Irish band was playing, 5 guys; an Electric Bass, a fiddle, a guitar, an Irish Piper and a flautist….. it was amazing! They were so together, and I loved the Irish accents. After only hearing my awkward Australian-ness in the midst of the American drawl, it was super refreshing!

A beautiful thing here is the afternoon sun. It catches on the buildings in campus and on the redwoods in the Berkeley hills and makes them glow in a golden sheen, as if someone has draped a gossamer blanket over the world. It kisses your face and makes you feel as if you have energy when you’re running on empty. I love the afternoons here.

So, also, I am helping vamp up the dancing scene at Berkeley. There is an amazing structure in place for introducing new dancers to the scene; they have a troupe for newer dancers, as well as the SwingCal subject that I’m helping teach! But they don’t have anywhere for students to practice, for whomever to come and just dance, because there is no equivalent here to the Unimelb student union which lets us use rooms with wooden floors…. And after 3 weeks of dancing on concrete, I have had had enough!

So I am using my copious inside connections, (thankyou, co-op with 126 roommates!) to book us a room, as well as the super sneakiness taught to me by S.C.U.M to help break us into empty rooms when we have no booked ones 🙂 it is fun!

Also, teaching is heaps of fun. It’s really nice to be able to give people dancing tips in a constructive way that doesn’t make them upset. When you’re put in a position of a teacher, people listen to you! It’s exciting to see people improve and get excited about Lindy Hop.

What else? I had to drop my Harry Potter DeCal 😦 I really needed the time in the week to do other work and catch up on sleep, especially as I have about 4 dance exchanges coming up in the coming month. There are only 3 days left until ULHS and I really can barely contain excitement….

but here are some people playing land quidditch, for all you furious Potter fans who are now out for my blood 🙂

I went to San Francisco the other day, and went on this cable-car tour ride thing for free with a friend, behold some of the photos!

Also, we went up the clear elevators in Union Square. They are magnificent and amazing…! You get this rushing view of the city as you zoom up, and suddenly pop! You’re at the top with a full moon and shining city out in front of you. Incredible. Sadly, it’s not the kind of thing you can capture on camera, which, in some ways makes it better.

Right now I am sitting in Zak’s room doing work and listening to his electronic music/ DubStep….. well, by doing work I mean procrastinating.  Zak has a fluffy dresser. It looks like a muppet with drawers. Odd.

Last night we had Human Chess in the common room, but apathy won. The pieces who didn’t get developed early enough soon got bored and left…. Boo! I was getting really into it. I’ve become somewhat of a chess addict whilst being here. People are always invariably sitting on the balcony playing chess, and so I have become sucked in…. ditto for foozball, the ‘gentleman’s sport’.

Also, I went to a frat party! My first, and hopefully my last one…. I knew a couple of people who lived at the frat, so that was fun, but the place was filled with overly drunk individuals who either have no intelligent ability left, or simply want to take advantage of the people with no intelligent ability. The average age was a little younger, and everyone was dancing all up in each other’s business in a way that I had just ever seen so blatantly before. I went to dance but soon had to leave because I was just going to have to hit too many people in order to get my own space 🙂

The Frats and Sororities here are apparently not all as bad as we see in Legally Blonde, but I haven’t seen it yet…. It’s pretty much a Jocks and their Gals kind of culture that I don’t really get, a kind of voluntary idiocy with the aim of hooking up with randoms…. *sigh*

I also went to a blues house dance party…. (Isaac and blues co, emulate this please!) It was awesome! Just a beautiful big hardwood floor, fairy lights, nibblies and good music! And a sukkah out the back, with these beautiful hanging candles. I got excited because I didn’t think I’d be in a sukkah this year, what with living at the coops etc. It was really the perfect venue, and I enjoyed myself super much-ly.

Lastly, handed in my first big Berkeley paper (assignment) today…. Eep!

Now, it is more than time to end this, it is getting egregiously long.

Xxxxx SO much love to Hannah and Amy, for their amazingly wonderfully beautiful letters which made me so ridiculously happy!

Update of Hooray-ness!

awesome things that have happened:

  • I painted my room! its not quite done yet, but it doesnt look as bad as my ‘art’ usually does! i love random art projects, hooray!

You can only see clearly with your heart…what is important is invisible to the eye…..

this is Fat Jan, my favourite bird that I painted. She is chubby from too many twinkies 🙂

  • they restocked the fridge with blueberries. enough said!

  • our house has an amazing hot tub. I love it. a lot.
  • rhythm lounge on the weekend with a random workshop with thomas and alice mei was so so sweet! – its ridiculous how many dance superstars are around the place all the time here!
  • have already finished all my workshift for the week, woop! 🙂
  • have plans to build a loft for my bed, go dancing 5 nights this week, and finish my assignment early.
  • i got fro yo on the weekend. i am fat, and happy.
  • I had a LOVELY yontef dinner with Allison and Paul, and Viv and Howard for Rosh Hashana. Happy New Year everyone! xxxxxxxxxx Shana Tova Umetuka.
  • Today it is a month since I left for the second time. I wish I could stay here a year, not just a semester. it is WONDERFUL.
  • I got a love package of tim tams and chocolate teddies in the mail. I distributed some to the other two ozzies here, but the rest are mine mine mineeeeee…. 🙂 *jealously hoardes tim tams*
  • I am going to try blues dancing again tonight. this is its last chance!!!
  • I went to my Film DeCal class. we watched Citizen Kane and then discussed it for ten minutes. I get University credit for that! AWESOME! 😀

thats about all that is interesting at the moment! lots of love to everyone, thankyou to Zoltan for the marvelous postcard!

Now I should go to class 🙂

x’s and o’s!

Sunday Night Shenaigans….

So last night we got a little bored…?

David Spinning up a storm…

and me!!!

Brianna, after playing Kings Cup.

yes, yes that is our house’s giant salad bowl 🙂

Sleepless, in Seattle

I love Seattle. I could live on Capitol Hill. it is beautiful and green and well thought out, with views, and parks and dancing and meteors.

and they dance FAST. brilliantly. until 5 in the morning. oh yes, I was sleepless. dead on my feet, in complete and utter heaven. happy like a bee in honey.

not to mention it was 40 degrees sunny the entire weekend. not ideal dance weather for a city which should promise super amounts of gumboot rain. everyone looked like sea monsters approximately 30 seconds after they entered those sweltering ballrooms. and even then, the band and djs were merciless. 200 bpm an average pace. STFO heaven for Vivi.

the live music made my weekend. dancing to live music is so much more real. It is just so much more… dancing! the give and take of energy between dancers and a band playing the music you want to hear makes the room feel a little electric. zingy, in the tips of your fingers.

But I especially love Seattle because of the people. what a warm, welcoming, down to earth bunch. I felt so immediately at home, and most importantly, able to chillax and be my wacky self 😀 a far cry from LA where the number of superstars and competitions lent a tense atmosphere to the dancing. this was just about the lindy hop…. and boy can they hop!!

so three days of intense dancing flew by, leaving me sleep deprived, on another plane with muscles not talking to me….

but here I am in the east bay of San Francisco!

expect many a post on the beauty of Berkeley and how ridiculous this whole shenanigan is, but for now,

here is our stadium…

and here is a group of us relaxing n the sun in front of the Campanile (giant clock tower thing with views like heaven.)

Berkeley is something else…

so, on another note, they have this idea in the bay area that science learning should be joyful and fun. (Harris: “but science IS fun!!!”) they express this in the form of several museums around the place, in which they teach weird and wacky magical/science things in awesome ways. I play in there for hours.

today we hiked up a RIDICULOUS hill, 3 new friends and I, to this museum. I will have thighs of STEEL upon my return, I swear it. the landscape here never considered a naive australian tourist, used to miles of flat flat flat.

one of my new friends is Nathan, whose favorite sandwich is chicken salad. the other one is Joy, with whom the reason for my friendship is self explanatory 🙂

on the way up the hill, I found cherry plums, fresh off a tree, and nearly broke something scrambling to pick them. they were warm in the sun. there was juice on my fingers. 🙂