festival august 15-16th, 2015

where do you stand in the world?

A massive entry to cover the marriage equality rally, the film festival (MIFF), self-guided chocolate and coffee degustation, as well as some vegetarian dining options.

I did make it to the marriage equality rally - this is the first time I have attended a live political gathering. I only stayed about an hour and the reason was that I had a lot of trouble relaxing in the crowd with the omnipresent cameras, including videorecording devices, and television station cameras. However, this is a cause I have supported for a long time, and I think it was an important step to offer in-person support. Australia is a bit slow at present when it comes to this issue, but it is inevitable that it will catch up.

yes, i support marriage equality

When walking up Swanston to the State Library, there were many different people representing different political issues (everything from 'god loves muslims' to socialist and feminist issues and more). If you are in the mood to talk, or to join something, it could be very helpful. I thought it was good to know for future reference, but I also did eventually feel kind of bombarded by too much at once.

A woman came up to me at some point to discuss feminist issues in Africa, and I just nodded and smiled, and I'm sure I seemed like quite an idiot - but by that point, I was having a lot of trouble coping with the crowd situation. But it's not like I have trouble describing myself as a feminist, and many of these issues are things I write about on my own. What would it actually take for me to be able to speak in the moment, or find a way in to conversation?

And when it comes to marriage equality.. I've been a supporter of/ member of HRC in the US for many years (but other than making donations, signing online petitions and occasionally writing something on my site, I haven't really been a fully participating member). I can definitely see how the lack of legal and social equality has effects. In a crowded demonstration, how do I talk to people? No one there knows me or my history or beliefs, and so they have to start somewhere, and it is up to me to figure out how to express my personal status.. but.. I find it awkward or difficult. I don't want it to be like I'm trying to get a biscuit, but at the same time, how do I express where I stand? I didn't have a good enough plan when I showed up. I didn't spend enough time thinking about it. I think unfortunately I do have to prepare, because I know how conversations are likely to go when I factor in my own social awkwardness.

Yes, I was part of the support, because I was physically present, part of the numbers that were photographed, recorded, or at least observed.

People who attend these rallies are usually passionate, but many are patient, understanding that sometimes it takes people a while to become more aware of issues, and wanting to let them know that they have awareness that people have the potential to learn and change.. but they need you to give them something to work with. So next time, I think I need to spend some time preparing for conversation first..

lots of t-shirts and signs to read..

Another t-shirt I remember said 'I didn't vote for Abbott'. Some people really have the hang of these rallies.. Maybe if you go more regularly, you start to figure out how to begin conversations, and how to help the process out with a talking piece like a sign or t-shirt.

One problem is that if you wear an Anonymous mask (or in my case, maybe I would wear a Pussy Riot balaclava) you might be assumed to be doing something illegal, or to not fully believe in a certain cause, if you won't show your 'real' identity. This sort of sucks for camera- phobes who might want to support causes, because cameras tend to be everywhere at these things, and a mask (or costume) is one way to potentially cope.

what's the hold up?

I did take photos myself.. but it seemed like those I photographed were more comfortable with cameras than me. I can definitely understand that if you support an issue, you might be ok with photos, and any kind of publicity from television, to blog posts, anything that will raise awareness.

I'm usually conscious of not wanting to inflict photo-taking on people who might not want it.. but during this trip I have been quite a tourist. I know there are people who are annoyed by those who must take photos of their food, (food porn), and document every part of their trip and blog about it, and I guess I'm now one of these annoying people, but the thing is, my situation is at least a little unusual in that I haven't left the house in 7 years. What does such a person do and see, how do they process it when they go out at last? And how much anxiety and neurosis is present in that person's communication about what they're experiencing? Maybe I just seem like a regular tourist, and I blend in.

can we really blame this only on tony abbott?

To me, it seemed fairly obvious what he stood for in many areas before he was voted in. If people voted for him, what does it say about the education system?

As I compile this entry, I am again drinking. Having a good night.. and not eating 'too much'. It feels like I have the hang of things tonight. At the same time, it does seem like I'm accepting that writing about things after, compiling entries, is helpful to me, and part of what it is authentic for me to do. I am trying to share my experiences, in the only way I know how.

taking a stand

I did notice that people at the rally were a lot more polite, friendly and tolerant of being bumped or inconvenienced than most people.

I didn't have anything all that appropriate to wear, and in a way I felt kind of like when I was 17 and hadn't realized I was wearing an I Heart NY t-shirt for a Canada Day celebration. I wore this black, silver and white top (with geometrical patterns), a black boa, short black asymmetrical skirt.. but.. I did manage to pick up a colourful sign, which I carried around. Also, when I left the demonstration, and walked down the street, I kept holding the sign, and I think I was a lot more visible after I left the actual rally. At the rally, everyone is full of love, but when you leave the zone and walk down the street, it's lot more easy to see sour expressions or lack of support.

My lips and nails were quite red.

more people did arrive, and across the way it did seem there were more people checking it out

The problem I had with the rally relates to my usual social ineptness and inability to speak in the moment. Maybe I should have gone drunk. But, yes, I do see that part of getting better at it is that you have to go often, you have to accept that sometimes change only happens very slowly, over years, and you pay attention to how you can communicate more effectively when you attend. And possibly this relates to signs, symbols or t-shirts that allow for non-verbal communication, and partly it would relate to looking for those who maybe remind you of yourself at early rallies, or getting a feel for who might be most open to conversation with whoever. Many people do come with groups of friends, but I think you are also likely to find people who are at least in theory open to conversation with anyone, worldwide.

It would have been great if during my Progressive Degustation walking tour I had managed to photograph the various (exquisite!) vegetarian non-dessert items I tried, but unfortunately, early on my camera didn't capture things well, and I made the decision to just try to enjoy the degustation without trying to document. However.. I am a huge fan of degustation, and I highly recommend this sort of thing to those who might be curious about it.

Self-guided chocolate and coffee degustation, hitting some of the major places to get chocolate..

at gânache i had the hazelnut fan slice with a skinny latte.

I'm finding I'm really liking lattes.. I don't get the cough factor from the dusting of cocoa that accompanies a cappuccino. And I'm not sure, but although a flat white isn't bad, it maybe lacks something for me.

The hazelnut fan slice: wow!

belgian spoil tasting platter at koko black

Obviously I have been overdosing on chocolate lately.. but isn't this better than bingeing on supermarket chocolate in my room?

What we have here (left to right) is chocolate ice cream, something I'm not sure what it was (it had marshmallow and jam inside, I think), the Koko Black signature Alchemy cake, two chocolates, and chocolate mousse. What I liked best: the Alchemy cake and the chocolate ice cream.

The upstairs room at Koko Black (in the Royal Arcade) has the best ambiance of these three. (Gânache, Koko Black and the Lindt Café)

In Sydney, a Lindt café was the scene of a hostage situation/ terrorist attack. It does seem to make sense.. I suppose these spots are very touristy/popular. No, I didn't go here because I thought I'd be lucky enough to have the opportunity to volunteer to be the first tourist to die.. redeem my life, etc.. if another attack occurred. I am a fan of chocolate and coffee, and I thought I would try to compare some of the major hotspots.

A little bird was hopping around inside, and went onto the table, chairs, tweeting a little before flying off, when it seemed like no one was currently offering anything to it.

waffles with chocolate and an espresso at the lindt café

The espresso here was a little bitter, but the waffles were quite tasty, and I wanted to try something a little different from what I'd tried at Koko Black and Gânache.

I didn't really devise a fair test. I just tried different things at each place. But, Koko Black had a tasting platter that made more sense than the ones offered at the Lindt Café and I can't remember what Gânache offered when it came to tasting platters. And at the Lindt café I chose waffles partly because they were on special ($10 instead of $17.)

This entry is about catching up what's happened since my last entry, and will go all over the place..

how much chocolate and coffee have i actually consumed?

How much alcohol? And how much weight have I gained?

In 2 weeks, realistically, it's unlikely I gained 10 lbs, especially considering how much walking I've done. I do think it's realistic that I could have gained at least 5, but that if I went back to more structured eating for a couple of weeks it would be easier to tell what the situation is, once the bloated feeling and the general blahness and feelings of self-disgust subside.

But there is that feeling, that out of control feeling, and past experience has been that while at first it takes a while to gain back 10 lbs and it's maybe not that big a deal, it actually is a big deal because I can't stop it at 10, and by the time I'm out of control I'm not enjoying things any more, it all just feels like a run-on binge without suitable breaks. So, maybe I've had my 'moments' and that's what I get, and that will be what I have to remember over time. My mind will process it all in its own way, and there may be moments of colour, and glimpses of feelings, impressions, ambiance associated with this trip. How positive and colourful it will feel later is something I don't know for sure yet.

During my trip, I have for some reason found it easier to photograph desserts than savoury meals, but I have had some very delicious savoury meals.


I had walked by Maccaroni many times, and thought it always smelled very good.. but when I first tried to get in it was really busy. I came back early one day, and while my meal was very rich and filling (spinach canneloni with bechamel and marinara), it was extremely delicious. I also got some garlic bread that was very tasty. I didn't think I could take photos that would do it justice.

spinach arancini with parmesan

On Friday night on Lygon St, I had some arancini that was very tasty and looked really cute. After I saw the movie Amy at the Nova (with quite a quantity of wine..), I had some coconut gelato out on the street after.

When I ordered the arancini, I asked for a wine recommendation. The waiter suggested a pinot grigio which I found very nice, but somehow the second glass tasted a bit different.. strangely sweet.. and when I paid my bill I did comment, and the waiter said I had been given a riesling, but it was a Brown Brothers thing, and I'm wondering if it actually was a dessert wine, like a moscato, and not a riesling. I was given a 10% discount on my bill for the mistake.

guzman y gomez: mini veg/black bean burrito, 2 veg quesadillas and a margarita

I am going to see if I can make it tomorrow to see The Forbidden Room at the AMCI theatres.. [Sunday, the last day of the film festival.] because it sounds surrealist, and might be a good thing to see in a big theatre. If I don't make it, though, I think I have done well. [Made it. Completely awe-inspiring.]

I do think I am really absorbing the energy here, the vibes just in going out into the streets. At the same time, I know I'm not in control, and that my self-esteem has dropped. I don't think I can focus on making decisions or trying to get a place to stay. I can barely hold on to awareness or perception when I talk to anyone. I know I'm anxious.

I think it's part of the Melbourne thing that they want to keep some addresses more private, and it is likely that if I don't find some places, it's because I wouldn't be cool enough for them.. Also, when an address is listed, I think it's helpful not just to have the street number, but to mention the biggest intersection nearby - and almost no businesses seem to do this - but again, I think it's a Melbourne thing to make you work for it to find a cool place. While walking, yes, you can see street numbers at the corner, but if you are in a room without internet (because I don't have wifi) and you want to plan where you're walking, it can be helpful to know the intersections beforehand.

OK, yes, I see the problem.. I am a kind of dinosaur. I don't have a proper phone, I don't have wifi, I'm one of those women of a certain age who don't know how to change the wallpaper on their phones.

the lustre bar, right across the street from where i'm staying

On Friday night, I went to the Lustre bar which is right across from where I'm staying - for the $5 Happy Hour bubbles. I thought it was a very drinkable sparkling (called Jacqueline, something like that, which reminded me of a Franz Ferdinand song, which I like the lyrics to..). I then noticed a sign which said $10 for a shot of tequila with a sangrita chaser (the latter was described as spicy), and so I decided to have that with some quesedillas (I can't remember how to spell this at the moment, and the spellchecker doesn't offer any suggestions).. [quesadillas] but the bartender there said just hold on a moment for the free nibbles.. and he prepared me a little personal plate with three dips and some bread - there was hummus and I didn't recognize the other two, but it was all great. The sangrita was really spicy and made my nose run, and I ended up getting another sparkling to wash it all down. At first I thought it might be a gay bar, because when I first walked up I saw what I thought were a lot of male couples, and also the look of the place reminded me of maybe something sort of vintage. But it was exactly the sort of thing that I look for.. I just found it a bit overwhelming when there. Most people were in groups of friends, and had tables. I just stood awkwardly at the bar. At the rally, it was similar.. people were in groups of friends. At Lustre, a friendly guy talked to me for a bit and said I'd made a good choice (tequila shot and sangrita), and tried to engage me in conversation while he waited for a bunch of drinks he was picking up for his table, but I was pretty much a smiling vacant deadbeat. Something similar occurred at the rally when a woman tried to engage me in a conversation about women's rights in Africa.

the forum from outside

I am totally in love with The Forum, and extremely glad I went to see a movie there.

The film I saw there was Chronic. Tim Roth features as a carer who works with people at the end of their lives. He's compassionate and caring, and doesn't make the people feel like they are disgusting or a burden. Would he himself, and others like him, receive a similar level of care at the end of their lives, or would life throw them some kind of unexpected or unfair curve ball? And is it better to have compassionate care, or to die suddenly, without dragging things out? Which is more dignified and compassionate ultimately? Which is more meaningful to an individual?

street view near the forum

If I had clued in earlier, I probably would have got some kind of festival pass.. but because I only got organized in the last few days of the festival, I was only able to see a couple of movies. I would have also seen more popular movies like The Lobster, Queen of Earth and Mistress America, as well as many others including Wonderful World End and How To Dance in Ohio.. and probably a lot more.

more of the nearby area

When I left The Forum on Saturday night, it was still early, and so I went for a bit of a walk. I walked up Swanston and had it in my mind that I was in the mood for Mexican food and a margarita.. I stopped in at a place I had seen Friday night - Guzman Y Gomez. I tried a mini veggie burrito (my first ever) and two veggie quesadillas with a margarita. I felt very full after, and could only eat half the mini- burrito (I wrapped up the rest and took it with me). (The photo is up a little higher in this entry.)

I seemed to have found my feet, and was not feeling the need to b/p. I was very nicely, enjoyably drunk.

the forum vs regular theatres: if you have the choice..

While I sipped my wine and waited for my movie, I was kind of singing along to the Nick Cave songs they had playing. At one point, I think maybe an older gentleman might have been checking me out, but that he lost interest when I committed the cardinal sin of checking out my phone.. basically, I wasn't checking for messages, and I barely know how to operate the thing, and to boot it's an old-fashioned flip phone, but I was looking at it to see the time, so I'd know how long before my movie started. The Mandala bar was quite nice, I was already pretty drunk, and I wasn't sure about my sense of time.

hmmm.. kinda looks like a church..

I had a lot of wine before watching Chronic at The Forum on Saturday night (and a glass while waiting for the movie to start that was filled well above the line shown on the glass). The Forum is my favourite theatre of all time. I fell in love with it immediately. Even when it comes to Mandala.. you walk in, and they have these seating areas that look like pews.. the church of theatre/film.. I could imagine that speed dating here could actually be fun, and that I wouldn't have to lie about my situation. [They occasionally host events like speed dating nights.]

There are many different types of tables, but I really liked the pews.. You can bring wine into a movie with you, (at the Nova cinema on Lygon St, too). It seems like they are unemployed- and addict- friendly.

If we compare this experience with seeing a film at the AMCI buildings across the way..

There's really no comparison. I don't think I'd ever want to go to the AMCI cinemas again.

federation square and flinders station

The whole setup at the AMCI cinemas is unpleasant. It's hard to figure out where to actually go, they aren't very forthcoming when it comes to how to find out how to buy a ticket, and when you line up to go in, the queue ends up going down several flights of stairs and out the door.

When I got up on Sunday, it was like I was trying to plan one really extreme binge. I thought I'd go out and have coffee and dessert, and maybe bring a few things back to the apartment, go out and watch the movie as a final task/goal to complete, and then just let go. And stay in for the last few days, unless I am able to contact a psychologist. But.. I no longer have control. I binged on the food I had left here, and vomited, thinking this might pave the way for a 'better' drinking night, such that I'm not combining drinking with binge eating, but going back to my preferred way of doing things.

I wanted to try to get into the spirit of the movie.. I wanted to wear something surreal, or a little less 'normal'.. and there are the two dresses with black lace overlays.. the red, and the other ones, more coffee hued satin. And I could instead of wearing a beanie, wear my usual hat, and even fix a flower to it. But I tried things on, and while they didn't look terrible, I realize I'm starting to feel gross, like I'm oozing out of everything, bursting, and there is another problem, which was sort of scaring me..

I think it was too late for the library so I couldn't search, but I am having this scary thing with swollen feet/ankles. I think it started a couple of days ago. I need to find out if this just sometimes happens to 'women of a certain age' if they're excessive, drinking a lot, walking a lot, etc, or if it's more 'serious'. Pregnant women get swollen feet and ankles, don't they? I mean, without it being a serious health concern. And I do remember that in 2008, there was a time when one of my legs was swollen when I was travelling. I thought it was related to a knee injury, but what if that was something similar? could it be DVT? Am I drinking enough water? What can I do about it? Should I rest? Is elevation good or bad in this case? So, while I would be ok with actually dying, if it's something that will just add fear and horror, without death, it scares me.

As much as I love The Forum, I really don't like AMCI. That said, I think I chose the right movie for me for the last day of MIFF: The Forbidden Room. There were parts that much of the audience laughed at, and I didn't really laugh, or even found some things awkward, but I think when it comes to the guy talking about baths, I think what he was saying is that bathing, in the unconscious, and even in life, is a messier process than people think about.

lentil and vegetable soup at the amci café

Before The Forbidden Room started, I stopped in to the café/bar. I am finding that if I order a soup of the day, it seems to work well for me. Soup usually seems to sit well in my stomach, I don't feel too full, it's a satisfying meal, and I like it with a glass of wine. The bread with the soup above was described as having 'parmesan butter' or something like that. It was tasty, but I probably only ate about half the bread provided. It does seem that sourdough or turkish bread are commonly offered with soup at present. I'd be fine with some kind of whole wheat option.

I thought I'd have more wine, but I didn't like the setup there. You have to get into a line to place an order, and it didn't seem you could get more wine once you were already seated without going through this process. I think the soup might have been a good meal to restore balance to my system after vomiting earlier.

Anyway.. reading between the lines or inflicting the whole rorschach kind of thing, and just approaching it in a kind of surreal fashion that doesn't let people know the extent to which I analyze movies when on my own and can write down my thoughts immediately after watching a movie.. the movie was pretty much about what my journey to Melbourne was about. The women in the movie were the type I wanted to be, but I turned out to be a meatloaf, and even when I tried really hard and put in a valiant effort, on the day I saw this movie, I wasn't able to dress to get into the spirit - because my 'bones', my foundation are not like these women's foundations. It's always a 'not quite' kind of thing. I miss. And that is the story of how I came to wish to die. I am stuck on the island of misfit toys, not the island of the tragically pretty simmering volcanos just waiting to explode.

I did wear red lipstick. And even without consciously following some of what was happening, at times it felt emotional, and sexual. More sexual than anything I've seen in some time, because it is about the unconscious factors that shape our aims and desires, or the need to resolve not being loved. It's about stirring together the primal, the mundane, the hidden and the forbidden. It gets messy, but even in making an attempt to express the confusion, it's like taking a bath, and is necessary to some of us, at least once in a while.

Bones sometimes need to be broken and reset..

A theme was about 'women's bones' or skeletons.. stripped.. (sort of synchronistic, considering some of my recent diary entries) but it's not about something 'insubstantial', (or about lacking 'soul') it's about their foundations, who they are, and that even if they have forgotten who they are, there are always ways for these women to find their place, because it is 'in their bones'. We need beauty in the world. The kind represented here is a type, the type I am drawn to and would have wished to emulate or project.

When I had chosen the movie, I wasn't aware of who would make appearances. When it came to many of the women in the movie, it was like unexpectedly seeing old friends.

It might seem like I am putting myself down, but I think I understand who I am now, and I also see that I have tried, in my way, to be free. And although maybe I haven't yet expressed it all well enough, I think it's possible that I have transcended the meatloaf genre, and created my own..

yet another chocolate-caffeine fix

Even when bingeing, I am trying to make an effort to choose things I like, and to arrange them for my eyes.

My night will be about compiling one last massive entry, or breaking it into more than one. I have about 16 units of alcohol, and only small snacks (I can make mini margherita pizzas, I have some cashews, and a few limited edition Lindt cappuccino flavoured balls. There are also apples (a big bowl in the livingroom, they came with the apartment. I have eaten a few so far.) I feel sort of relieved, and am hoping I will enjoy the night. Sunday Night Safran is on in a while, and I will just try to get an entry together. I think overall I have done well on my trip, and this time I have done much more than I did in 2008. It does take time to get to know oneself, but I have also had to fight to feel more 'entitled'.

Most people keep waiting for unusual characters to force themselves into their lives or issue invitations of some kind. I know this, and I know that many people, if someone takes an interest in them, will get into the spirit - and in fact they are just waiting for their lives to become like a movie. So, if I played my role well, I would not have to be stunningly beautiful.. and I would still add something to someone's life. At the same time, I haven't waited to receive invitations. I have made decisions myself not to wait.

In the line to get into the movie today, I was actually caught off guard that somehow I just managed to be standing in the line next to the person I found most physically attractive I have seen on the whole trip. He seemed a bit shy or awkward, and I wasn't sure if he was trying to let me go in front of him, or talk to me, but I thought he was there before me, and also, I didn't have much confidence, because I had vomited that morning, I realized that from the alcohol, food, vomiting of the previous night(s) I might reek, and to top it off, I wasn't really dressed like a similar type as him. He looked more 'alternative' and I looked probably trendy or 'trying too hard'. (I'm too white bread for artists, and too complicated for neurotypicals, the 'normal', the logical and the sensible.) But it had occurred to me that after the movie, I could ask him if I could buy him a drink, and I was thinking he looks like he might want to try absinthe..And, prepared like a Girl Scout, I had the card for the bar with the address on it. But I didn't have enough confidence.

I am hoping that through the process of writing about all of this I will figure out what to do from here in the overall sense. Go back? Try to stay?

It is a pattern, yes, but I have tried really hard. It does occur to me that in many ways I am still like a kid who does what she can, but still really needs parental guidance to help connect me better to life and opportunities. My parents themselves probably didn't really know how to live, and couldn't pass it on. They lived from one fix to the next.

I was actually a bit surprised that I was able to 'fix my face' yesterday. I needed to wear red lipstick, but I don't think I looked all that bad without sunglasses. I tried the AMCI bathroom, and sort of liked it. Still, I wore sunglasses to get there, and again after I left, even though it was dark. I'm not feeling confident, and it could be that what's happening is that I know in person I look like I'm a certain age, despite photos which are a bit more flattering.

I called GK, he googled and said swollen feet and ankles, if you've been standing or walking a lot, are not usually cause for concern. And I would say that I have definitely been walking a lot. Either high on caffeine and sugar, or drunk, I can easily find hours have gone by.

I can try to elevate my feet. An issue might be that much more salt than I'm used to might have been inflicted on me (when I buy things like cashews, I eat them unsalted). I could also try to eat things like bananas.. (I actually bought some yesterday, as well as Up & Go and oatmeal and cinnamon.) Drink a bit more water.

It's funny.. it just seems like there are so many things to do here and places to try out that as I go along, more and more occurs to me, and even when I think I should stay in for a few days, my natural inclination is just to head out again.

But after this trip, what is there really to do?

Third week of a seven year binge. It's looking more like that now. But at least we'll always have Melbourne..

I do notice that I am experiencing a compulsion to eat more than I need. I had been free of this feeling for a very long time, and now I'm wondering if I can be free of it again. I'm uprooted here, and don't have access to some of what helps me to manage or utilize a certain structure. Part of it is that I need access to my collection of movies and tv, or to the SBS on demand website, but it could also be that it helps to have regular dinners with GK, and a schedule which includes various things, including visits with possums each night. But although that system worked in preventing the binge eating, I was not really coping well in the overall sense with my life.

At present, I kind of want to hide. I don't feel strong, and I don't feel in control. I have too much anxiety to really be able to look around properly.

Do I now feel I must try to get down to 98 lbs again? Is that the new standard? The thing is, though, that getting down to 98 lbs or less is not enough now. I know what the naked reality is.. and I think I probably look very old. In all the bathrooms I've seen myself in, the lighting is harsh, and my skin looks terrible in that light. Like I mean really terrible. In addition to that, my skin is loose in places, and I keep thinking of a Sex and the City episode where Samantha is dating a guy in his 70s, and she asks Carrie what her age ceiling is.. and Carrie is still in her low-to-mid 30s, and says '50?' anyway.. Sam is disgusted when she sees Ed's rear end and how loose the skin looks, and I can only vaguely remember it, but I'm thinking I probably look older than 70.. and it seems abnormal, or like 'my face is finished, my body's gone'. anyone who might momentarily be attracted to me is not going to like the naked reality. And how do you even discuss it? It seems the only choice is to shut up about it, keep the lights out, and hope for the best, but I don't really think I'd relax in that kind of situation, so it's probably not realistic I will have sex again.

It probably would be good to try the Naltrexone now. I am not sure I am up for much, and from now I might just concentrate on trying to get back to Brisbane where I can withdraw into my room. However, I do have awareness of GK's upcoming 50th birthday celebration, and I will try not to totally withdraw yet, because I don't want to screw up his birthday. Well, I actually want it to be a good birthday. [Note: I left the Naltrexone in Brisbane.]

I feel hideous, but it's different now. I know that even when I look my best I'm irrelevant. I have no context, no way of connecting to other people's lives. I can't bridge the gaps - I do not have enough energy to do so, or enough that's authentic to share. When people try to bridge the gaps toward me, they aren't usually aware of what they're in for, and I make it awkward.

Everybody is waiting for something or someone. I know that, and know that if I make the first move, I can be something interesting in someone's life. But, I kinda wanted to be the someone that someone noticed instead of it being the other way around, again. And when I notice people and approach them, it does seem to be that the relationship is very often based on how well I feed their ego. It is not about what is unusual about me, or my individuality, it is about how special I make them feel, or it's about them wanting me to concentrate on the parts of my personality that are more acceptable or reasonable in their eyes. It's not equal enough.

Having a bit of trouble organizing this entry today, but now mainly it might be about fixing the writing. I am annoying myself.. I keep going on about how I look, and the usual topics, and it does seem that I'm inhaling a ton of coffee and chocolate, and wine.. but if I'm going to binge, I might as well take the time to select what I want. I've had a lot of really amazing things. The photos will help me to remember.

I have managed to do a lot on my trip. I have tasted many things, I have pushed myself to do some things I haven't before, I've been excessively but enjoyably drunk. I'm not just checking things off a list - it seems that each day I can think of things I really want to do, even when I think I should stay in for a bit to get myself back in check, I still find it not that difficult to just get out the door. In fact, it seems more difficult to actually force myself to stay in.

But it does beg the question: how much of this relates to getting down to 98 lbs before my trip, such that I had more leeway in gaining? And, I stopped drinking for 8 months. I am now right back into it. Without stopping, it seems unlikely I would have been able to face the world, but without alcohol, this trip would not have been as enjoyable.

But what is the difference between me before and after? In either case, aren't I past the possibility of certain types of encounters or notice? Do I believe in the 'entitlement of the thin'? What I mean is, if I am more comfortable in large part because I am thin enough that people assume I am one of those people who do things in moderation, sensibly, 'take care of myself', such that their reactions to me are favourable or something, and this makes me feel less nervous? But if that is the case, it would be a kind of comfort based on false impressions. I am excessive, and maybe it's hard to identify clearly, but maybe part of what has to be done is to identify how all of this affects me, such that I can more consciously take a stand.

I do look like I'm 'trying too hard', and I wonder how other people achieve that effortless look of street cool fashion.. what I mean is, is it really effortless, or is there just an illusion in relation to it.. such that people always have awareness of not wanting to look like they're trying too hard? I'm not trying to be in fashion. I still have a kind of attachment to a certain kind of retro look (wanting to add my own thing to it), and I've never really pulled it off, but maybe at times when I've been lucky I've managed something that works for me as an individual.

I do notice tonight that I want to binge. And I wonder how to feel less overwhelmed.

(17th) My feet/ankles are a bit less swollen today. Maybe taking a break from walking isn't so bad, but I already feel like I want to go out again. I don't think my entry will be ready before library closing tonight, so I will wait until tomorrow.

It does make sense that my body might still want to compensate for months of 'starvation' (purposely reducing calories to change my body), but it seems possible that the urge to binge has other contributing factors. There might be something about how the excess messes with my system, such that whenever there's a big sugar comedown, the craving increases, there could be a kind of memory in my body of what happens when I'm out of control, and a kind of panic that it can't be prevented. But there might also be a kind of overwhelming fear and desperation that represents what I have no idea how to solve on my own. I do everything I can to try to move in the right direction, but I am hampered by some parts of my patterns that I just do not have enough energy to address because so much energy goes into addressing so many aspects of the overall problem.

I am not comfortable in the world, and I don't know how to find comfort. Interaction with people depletes rather than replenishes me.. or I don't know how to find some of the types of interaction I need. I think the urge to binge in part represents the missing aspects of social interaction and energy exchange. The chemical interactions or effects of drugs and food might be the closest approximation for what is missing. When I get out there, at a certain point I just don't have the strength to keep going. I need time to 'recover', but in that time, I might have not made the needed decisions to find a place to stay, and I don't know who to ask for help. I feel the need to hide, and no one is aware of what's happening with me, and there is no one to urge me to do this or that, or to offer suggestions.

While I am here I will mention some things that have not been great on the trip. I think it's good to leave feedback, but at times I have had to prioritize what I am up to putting my energy into.

I really liked The Blackman hotel, but in the bathroom, they had a sign which said if you are concerned about the environment, hang any towels you are willing to reuse. Every day I hung my towels, and every day they were replaced. It seems like maybe there's a disconnect somewhere between staff and management, but this sort of thing has occurred at other hotels I visited (years ago). Also, about halfway through my one-week stay, I said it was fine to go without any servicing of the room for the rest of my stay. I spoke to someone on the phone about this. I wanted to check if just this say-so was enough, but I think I would have had to keep the Do Not Disturb sign on when I went out. It looks like the moment I went out, someone came in to service the room.

Also, I left two towels on the floor (small ones), and hung the rest, to see what would happen. All towels were again replaced. I don't think housekeeping should be punished if there is some problem with management and communication, but I did want to be environmentally friendly during my stay, and I don't need new towels every single day during a one-week stay. I also don't want to shortchange housekeeping if they count on gratuities left by guests, but if I can go without having my room serviced, I don't want to feel obligated to leave a certain percentage. I would count on the hotel itself to pay its employees a fair wage. I do realize that although in Australia it's not generally expected that people pay gratuities, in some hotels, like The Blackman, and restaurants, I think it is sort of something that is silently accepted as the norm, possibly because of international guests who just normally leave them.

Also at The Blackman, aside from the unflattering lighting, another issue was lack of counterspace in the bathroom. When I bring in clothes, there's nowhere to put them, and I don't like putting clothes on the back of the toilet seat lid. The sink is huge (the drain was slow-moving, making it difficult to keep the sink clean- looking), and there's not much space for putting things down. Also, the toiletry samples (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel) were in these really hard, inflexible plastic bottles that were extremely difficult to squeeze stuff out of. I found them so annoying I just gave up on them.

It is occurring to me that the lighting in both places is better designed for little or no makeup - and that maybe when I have less on I look a little better, but this principle does not apply to how the lighting looks on my body skintone.

In the apartment, the bathroom seems designed for extremely tall people. This is another thing I am not sure if I'm stupid about: to use the shower, I can't seem to figure out how to do it such that the shower curtain doesn't cling to me and make my shower unpleasant. That's how I got water all over the bathroom floor the first day - by aiming the shower spray differently, and untucking the curtain from inside the tub - but that was the only way I could get the curtain to stop clinging to me. Other than that, the drains are kind of slow moving and as I write this, there's a bit of a problem in the kitchen sink I am trying to figure out how to fix on my own. I like to keep things tidy, and I don't like to leave things messier than when I showed up. It's also that if I had my own apartment, it would be at a certain tidiness level, and it is easier to imagine I am in my own apartment if I can keep it in that condition.

I think maybe it would be good to have written instructions for how to use various appliances and items (intercoms, door locks) in any accommodation. It might seem that many things are self-explanatory, at least if you don't have morons staying, but there are differences from country to country in how certain things work, and even from brand to brand within one country. I do better with written than verbal explanations. Yes, a person who is not socially awkward could just ring up and ask how to do something or other, but I think even 'normal' people don't want to have to pester their hosts every 5 minutes regarding relatively simple things - and that to do so does kind of detract from the peace and enjoyment of a trip.

As far as hangovers and general malaise.. basically I'm coping with alcohol as well as I normally would. I get up, get showered, have something to eat, and I'm pretty much fine and ready to go.

Apparently swollen feet and ankles can occur if you are walking a lot or on your feet a lot. Hmmm, but is it more likely to happen to women of a certain age or pregnant women, or those who are 'overweight'? So what does it mean, that I'm old? And I can't do what I used to? I feel somewhat fit, and the walking for hours each day has not felt like exercise, but maybe combining that with all the excesses and this is what I get. I could also be having considerably more salt than I normally do. But this situation really freaked me out. Should I rest for a couple of days? I think the swelling had gone down a little today, but as the day went on, it seemed to get worse again, and I haven't been sitting with feet elevated. It does feel like applying pressure/massaging helps, as does flexing and moving the feet around. I would actually not mind sitting and watching a movie with my feet up.

Ok, so I got all that out. But overall, I have been lucky enough to stay in two inspiring places, and I would describe this trip as my best ever.

I've had lyrics from Moulin Rouge in my head: my makeup may be flaking, but my smile stays on.. the show must go on..

->exile on meme st: a diary