Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A love story: my bed basically never gets made

I moved house recently. My mum and I counted: move number 16 since I moved out of home aged 19. I'm 32 now.

My longest stay ever in one place (since living at home) was almost 3 years. My shortest stay ever in one place was 6 days.

So I've gotten good at moving.

Side note, hot tip! Always pack a number 1 box to unpack at the other end. Cups, tea, fresh sheets (or dirty sheets if you're me, it's a transition thing), a towel, soap, toilet paper, your phone charger and laptop - basically everything you could hope to need in the first 24 hours. Nailed it.

Anyway, everything I own is all unpacked and I'm pretty much set up in the new digs. For close to 6 months I had been house-sitting for a friend. Awesome place, old and friendly, quite like the new place actually. Most of my gear was in storage. It was a liberating experience storing pretty much everything I owned (which isn't a whole lot) and only having a few things to cart around. For a while I quite enjoyed that feeling.

A few other feelings came with it - and I'm not sure if they were a result of it or just a coincidence. Some nice some not so nice. I've had writers block for a long time, I just almost completely lost the inclination. There has been an emptying out process of sorts. It has been cathartic, I suppose.

It has been awfully nice to settle into the new digs. Poking around and investing energy into a space to call my own again. Not thinking about where I'll be next. Having my bedroom all kitted out again with my bed and my big old chest.

I didn't realise how much I would miss having my bed (I just did my mattress on the floor for a while which I quite enjoy from time to time). But it turns out I missed my bed. A lot. It's a good height, made from Tasmanian wood, understated and lovely. I sleep with my head up the "wrong" end, under the window, and use my old chest as a bed head. My sheet doesn't get washed too often (I don't use a top sheet) and the only time that old bed of mine is ever made is when I'm taking a photo of it (like here haha). My bed is such a friendly place to rest.

Did you know it's actually healthier for you to not make your bed? True fact. Something about airing it out or killing bed bugs or something.





What remains

Sometimes life bumbles along and either big things happen or a series of little things happen, and lines shift. Sharply or gradually, making way for new things. These adjustments are not always easy for some. But there are always changes, shifting lines, changing perspectives.

Life isn't always happy times. Expecting that it will be that way is foolish. It's harder than that to accept, I know, but it is true.

Things happen beyond anyone's control. People leave, people die. Leaving big empty holes in our hearts and sucking the wind right out of our sails.

It sucks sometimes.

And sometimes there is nothing anyone can say that will ease the grief. Sometimes we need to let grief be, to take its toll, to just cry or be still and trust that one day things will be different. That we'll adjust to this new normal. That'll eventually it'll be okay.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Capturing real moments

A good friend of mine has a camera: a vintage camera that only takes film. She takes photos, often of people, with that camera. Real people, real moments. None of it is made up, none of it is carefully posed. There are no edits, and there are no filters.

Not everyone is smiling in her photos. She just captures what's happening at the time, whatever it is.

She has taken photos of me, too. Really candid photos that at first feel private, because they're so candid. They show bits of me I'm not used to seeing in a photo.

I like the photos because in them I see the way she sees things, I see her approach. She does this great thing, my friend, she believes it's all okay. Whether we're laughing or bawling, angry or all gooey, none of that really matters, it's just all part of life and we all eventually stop laughing or crying or whatever. Or maybe we don't which is okay too. We just hang out, whatever's going on.

And sometimes it's more than that. Sometimes she reckons it's worth capturing those moments. On film. Unedited.

And it's breathtaking.

I know a number of people who believe that too, some of my good friends. Friends who I love and accept and who love and accept me, just as we are - even when things get intense or uncomfortable - and not just when things are happy and easy.

It's a privilege to have friends like that, I'm honoured to know them. They're connections I value so dearly, these people I love come-what-may.

It's not always happy. It's not always fun. It's not always rosy. It's not always comfortable.

It's not perfect.

No, it's better than that, it's real. It's sincere and honest and it's more joyous and more loving.

And sure there are hilarious amazing wonderful moments - but if there's a different kind of moment, that's okay too. It doesn't ruin the rest. Somehow there's less pressure.

Because it's true what my friend believes - I guess that means I believe it too - it is all okay. Joy and sadness and laughter and tears. Love and frustration and resentment and exhaustion. We're all going to feel all of these things at some point. This is life. This is living.

It took me a really long time to really fully understand that. Maybe it's obvious to everyone else. But me, I fought against the painful uncomfortable stuff for years, for far too long. Picture me crying or feeling slightly anxious and kind of yelling awkwardly "ohhh my goodness what is wrong with me what is happening to meeee?". In fact (*tries to accurately recall) I'm pretty sure in one of my first therapy sessions I asked the therapist if it was possible to fix me, as if I were broken.

I had so many people encouraging me to just surrender to it all. And honestly fear really stopped me from doing that. Terror, maybe is a better word, I was terrified of surrendering to the uncomfortable stuff.

Eventually though, with a bunch of little tiny itty bitty steps, and then a few more, and then a few slightly experimental larger ones, and yes some backwards steps in there too... I slowly started getting there. And as my confidence in this process of just embracing all of it has grown, my steps have grown too.

I still have no idea what I'm doing, I'm still bumbling my way through the whole shebang. But now just making a conscious effort to live as fully as is possible - with everything that comes with that. And I've still a long way to go. But now not worrying so much about taking a step in a direction I might not otherwise have been comfortable taking. Getting more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, getting more comfortable with fear, getting more comfortable with just letting myself enjoy the nice moments too.

Another good friend of mine recently sent me this quote. It's Friedrich Nietzsche, what a dude. He says:
“What if pleasure and displeasure were so tied together that whoever wanted to have as much as possible of one must also have as much as possible of the other. You have a choice in life: either as little displeasure as possible, painlessness in brief or as much displeasure as possible as the price for an abundance of subtle pleasures and joys.”
And for me that sums it up nicely.

I used to make an effort to avoid pain and discomfort, not realising it may have prevented me from enjoying an abundance of subtle pleasures and joys.

*throws (sensible amounts of) caution to the wind



Monday, 14 July 2014

Angel

Last year I went through an anxious patch. During that time, and for completely unrelated reasons [cough cough], I stayed with a dear friend of mine and her partner at their house. They have two cats. Muggles and Angel. I'm usually more of a dog person, but Muggles and Angel are two pretty lovely cats.

There is nothing like hanging out with lovely animals when I'm anxious. They just sit there with you and you don't have to say anything, there's no pressure to be anything other than what you are. It's wonderful. Lovely people are the same, although I do find myself much less apologetic towards animals. With people (no matter how close I am to the person) I tend to do the whole "awfully-sorry-if-this-is-annoying/confronting-for-you" thing and then feel stupid amounts of guilt.

So often it's nice to spread it out a bit. Animals. Alone time. Knowing your mates are there if you need 'em.

Anyway during that anxious patch I ended up staying at that house for a decent 6 ish weeks. Night times were spent downstairs lounging around chatting or watching telly, and of course hanging out with Muggles and Angel. Angel would come over and sit on my lap and I'd give her (we called it) "touching". Muggles is more of a fetch the twisty thing and gimme-all-your-strawberry-yogurt kind of cat. But Angel was and still is very affectionate and a total sucker for any kind of touching.

At first my friends would coax her, "Angel, Mary needs a cuddle" and point at me. She'd come over and sit on my lap or near me, get comfy, and I'd ruffle her fur and kind of give her a kitty massage. My friends taught me her favourite kinds of touching, "she LOVES it on her face". Etc etc.

One night, she was on my lap and I must have brushed somewhere close to her stomach. She liked it, and sort of started leaning over to one side. I did it again, a bit further under, and she leaned further to the side. Pretty soon she was flat on her back, legs sprawled open, across my lap. And I was giving her a new kind of touching. Belly touching.

My friends did a bit of this, "oh we didn't realised she liked that" and "ohhhh hahaha that's so funny look what she's doing now". Funny night.

After then she needed no coaxing. Sometimes I'd get home after work, sit on the couch to remove my shoes, and Angel would sprint over to me and LEAP up onto my lap, almost twisting mid air to get into position. And I'd be gently trying to get her off my lap so I could finish getting my shoes off etc.

Sometimes, after giving her belly touching for aaaaaaages, I'd get distracted in conversation or whatever and my hand would go still. Nope. Angel's paw would find my hand and guide it back to her tummy.

Hilariously cheeky.

And I love cheekiness. It's one if my favourite character traits ever. And Angel is a really cheeky cat.

I would go to bed quite early most nights, watch something light on my lappie, and always have to get up to pee before falling "asleep" (I use the term sleep loosely there). 

One night, after I'd been there maybe a few days, I was laying in bed trying to fall "asleep" when I felt a little something get on my bed. I was startled. It moved and - oh my goodness! - my arms shot out towards the thing and hit something very soft. 

"Oh Angel?!"

A pause and then a really loud purring noise. She was coming over trying to find a place to plant her butt. The room was very dark, and I was on my side. The purring kept approaching (prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) until I felt Angel's little wet nose touch mine. 

"Haha Angel! You're so sneaky... okaaaay come 'ere."

It was a tricky situation. Angel wanted touching. I was trying to fall asleep, torn between having her there (which was nice) and getting some quality sleep. Every time I would start to drift off, she'd purr or nudge at my hand with her paw to wake me for more. Given sleep was a pretty important factor for me to deal with the anxiety, after a little while of this, I carried her out of my room and returned to bed alone.

Well, it was on.

Every night, Angel would wait outside my bedroom door (around the corner so I couldn't see her waiting) for me to take my bathroom break, then she'd sneak in (I must have been a bit distracted by the anxiety). She'd hide behind my clothes basked (I later discovered), wait until after I was in bed with the light off. Then she'd jump up onto my bed and purr super loudly, her little face coming over to mine.

I always imagined her saying "pleeease giiiiiiiive meeeeee bellly touching".

I would give her belly touching for a while, then have to carry her out to get some sleep. She eventually discovered that if she didn't wake me up for more touching when I fell asleep - I wouldn't kick her out. And I would wake every few hours anyway and give her more when I did, so she would stopped waking me.

And so it went. After a couple of weeks, we had a pretty settled "arrangement". She'd always sneak in and hide though - but maybe she knew I knew she was doing it. I'd get into bed, turn off the light and say into the darkness, "come on Angel" pat my bed twice, and she'd jump straight up.

[Chuckles] Cheeky girl.

It was a hilarious game, and an awfully nice way to fall asleep.

It's funny how during the most anxious times of my life, I tend not to remember the yukky parts the most. I mean, sure, I can recall the anxious parts - but those memories have much less energy than the other stuff I can remember. Like Angel sneaking into my room at night, the comical side of what my body does when I'm anxious, and all the love my friends and family generously bathed me in during those times. There is always so much of that.



"Why are you taking a selfie when you could be giving me belly rubs?"
(And WOW my hair was long there).

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Why I write

I've been totes MIA lately. Earlier this year I was writing quite often, almost daily there for a while. My head seemed so full of ideas and epiphanies. So many stories. Often when I write, it open parts of me that are kept kept inside, linked with other things I haven't pondered for some time - writing triggers memories, if you like. But for a moment there it got slightly intense, so I've been taking time out to just stare off into space, rather than focusing so much on expression. Mulling over my thoughts, reflecting and making room for quiet.

It's important for me to do that sometimes.

Anyway this week a friend of mine asked me if I would participate in something. An explanation on why I write.I love the "why" in everything, so it's obviously a big yes from me. There are a few people participating in this online, and so here is mine...

Why I write...

An awful lot goes on in this brain of mine. My thoughts often get all jumbled up, intertwined in a complex ball of tangled mess. I enjoy clarity of thought - but that clarity comes after three things have happened. 1. Time. 2. Mulling. 3. Conversation, both external (with other people) and internal (often through writing, sometimes I just talk aloud to myself).

I've always written. When I was younger, I wrote letters to people, mostly friends. I thought I couldn't write stories or essays (or anything else). I honestly didn't know I had it in me - but I had just never really given it enough effort. (And whether I do or not is subjective - you decide that part).

But I reckon anyone can write. For some it comes naturally. For me, it did not and often does not - but often I can only enjoy things that challenge me. I bore easily, I guess. Writing is a craft that is refined and developed over time. It's challenging to find the right words, and order them in the right way, but so rewarding.

When I initially started my online writing, this blog (formerly the beauty within it) - I was writing to try and un-complicate those complicated thoughts, to untangle the messy ball of string that is my life.

Eventually I realised (thanks to some gentle nudging by my former therapist) - that the idea is not to untangle it, but fall in love with the mess of it, with all the complication. That accepting that part of myself and embracing it - is far more effective than trying to "fix" it (for lack of a better expression). And in any event, wasn't it possible that, given I love a challenge, un-complicating my life would mean it would bore me senseless? Interesting.

Anyway, happily for me, language is such an incredible tool for me to explain the mess and complication. To put words to these often wild and wonderful things I experience - to give them a home outside my heart. To free up some space in my head - but put it somewhere safe that I can return to later.

I do it for myself privately. If I suspect my musings may benefit someone else, I post it here.

What am I working on?

I am working on a number of things. Always...

In my day job I am a property lawyer. 90% of my job is writing, maybe more... lucky me! Even though the style and the approach is different I still enjoy the process of legal drafting and writing, and still find ways to incorporate my writing style into my work. The more complicated the issue, the better, obviously.

[grins]

For the past 5 years or so I've also been working on writing a book, a memoir. I feel I'm too young to write one, and so it hasn't been a constant thing. I go through phases of not looking at it, and then for a brief window of time it's almost like I cannot stop the words and I must write, and sentences quickly start spilling off multiple pages and into multiple chapters.

The name of the book has changed around 6 times, in line with changes in its theme. And I don't know if I'll publish it. I'm enjoying the process more than anything.

How does my writing differ from others in its genre?

I think the biggest thing I struggle with is focus of subject matter. The complicated mess of tangled wool makes it difficult for me to limit my writing to one or two somehow-related topics. Often my posts are philosophical in nature. Sometimes my posts are nothing more than something I've found amusing. I've also posted about my political persuasions and personal views.

For me the only singular subject matter genre I can narrow it down to is everything in life, because - my life is my life and to me it's all relevant. I no longer have a desire to untangle the mess. I've worked hard to not separate it all, or "fix it" and so it makes sense that my writing would reflect that.

It's all there, intertwined. It evolves over time, depending on what's going on. I go with it.

[throws a handful of (environmentally friendly) confetti in the air]

I'd like to think this gives my writing space an authenticity, or a rawness. I try not to self edit too much.

If nothing else, it's real. Realness is important to me. It's all I have.

Why do I write what I do?

People I know are often puzzled (and sometimes critical) of the openness of my writing style.

Honestly, I feel as though I'm not open enough. And I do it consciously, in a bid to cut through the bullsh!t, something I despise. I've weighed up the pros and cons of being open or closed. I've tried a few different communication approaches.

This one resonates with me the most. It's not the most comfortable. But it's the one I'm satisfied with, holding myself to the same expectation I hold others to.

I've been through a couple of patches in my life where I didn't have a scrap of internal hope to hold onto. Periods of bleak depression (to varying degrees). During one in particular, the absence of hope was so black and hollow and empty I gave a lot of thought to oblivion (living the way I was somehow seemed impossible). Some say depression is the complete absence of hope, and I can relate to that.

What got me through those periods was reading other people's stories of how they found their way through it. Found their 'hope', if you like. Actually I couldn't read for a time (*chuckles) - so my mum would read stories to me, or I'd listen to audio books.

The stories that helped the most, were stories courageously told by people who were open and real enough to admit the big and scary things that had happened to them. Their bravery was so empathetic, so accepting and non judgmental. There was no stigma in it, just raw honesty.

It was a relief to hear I hadn't been the only person feeling that way. And I connected so strongly with the courage they showed by writing their inner most thoughts.

And so for a time, I lived on hope, borrowed from the pages of other people's stories.

And so, on the off chance my story could give someone hope - I've done my best to write it here as honestly as possible. With some funny stories thrown in to break the intensity, and to give context on who I am and the cheeky sh!t I get up to.

Putting my thoughts on paper is often scary, honestly.

Sometimes when I click "publish", or "send", my heart races. I have to catch my breath.

But truthfully, I have never felt regretful for allowing other people to read my thoughts. Not once.

If anything, I've been pleasantly surprised by some of the things that people have said in return. Not so much about the writing style, more about the content - and how they could relate or how it gave them hope or a new perspective.

It has easily been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

How does my writing process work?

My writing process varies depending on my subject matter. But broadly speaking, I first outline what it is I want to say. This is my 'message', if you like. I usually try to cushion it with some personal philosophy and a story or two. I am most receptive to ideas through hearing people's true stories, and so that is the process I've adopted.

I generally attempt to challenge my readers to adopt a different view point, or even just to see a different viewpoint - perhaps as an exercise in empathy, or spreading the love. And throughout my own life, I am always most engaged with a person or an idea when I am challenged. And so I carry this into my story telling in one form or another. Sometimes directly, other times subtly so (although...subtlety is not my forte).

Once I've outlined my message, or my story, and the challenge, I attempt to resolve it through clarification. I find it difficult to post anything without some sort of resolution for the reader - even if that resolution is simply acceptance of something that cannot be resolved. But this is as much for me as it is for the reader. It is difficult to resolve everything, and so often the challenge or message is scattered over multiple posts, with the resolution slowly growing or altering over time.

Introductions 

The final part of this post is to introduce you to one or two people who write, like I do.

But also, to point you towards a blog I read often. Eden Riley is a woman I do not know personally. But her stories are real. And I love reading her words. She is possibly the most courageous person in online writing land. Raw and honest. No bullsh!t. I love it.

And finally, my friend, Kate Moore (who is also participating in this sharing of the why).
Kate is passionate about life. She coaches others in work, life and health to master and love what they do, live intentionally, design the life they want, build a healthy lifestyle and feel at their best. You can find Kate over at Lift Coaching where she blogs about all things life, love, health, work, motivation, mastery, passion, values, gratitude and inspiration related. Kate takes a very practical and action-driven approach to … well, everything and loves helping others get ‘unstuck’ by identifying their personal strengths and using real life skills and tools to change habits and behaviour, and get people where they want to go. You can also find Kate on Facebook where she shares daily quotes, interesting reads, recipes, workouts and lots of other bits of pieces to brighten your day.

Monday, 2 June 2014

When the going get's rough: for anyone who knows anyone with a mood fluctuation

A few weeks ago I posted about weening off an SSRI, Effexor. To be clear, I don't see myself as "sick", however my moods do fluctuate from time to time. And to varying degrees. Sometimes slight. Sometimes extreme. Sometimes I am anxious. Other times I am radiant. I just feel everything (everything) very deeply. Pleasant emotions and unpleasant ones too, and there was a time where it was (quite) necessary for me to accept a little help and support from our friends at Pfizer.

For peeps who don't know about the process (of weening on or off meds) it can be a gruelling one. Your body can do weird things, and your brain can do weird things. Pfizer calls the effects of weening off "discontinuance syndrome". The effects of weening on or off can often be quite intense.

Okay so what's the point of this post? To share my knowledge, from the perspective of a person going through the process of a chemical change in the brain - for those of you who may not understand how to support someone going through it. It's not uncommon to feel helpless in these sorts of situations. But there are things that you can do that will be helpful, I promise. Things that may seem counter-intuitive, but from my perspective these things are gold.

And this isn't just relevant for the weening off process, it could be helpful insight to assist anyone whose mood is fluctuating in any way. Up or down.

So with my doc's sign off, around 4 weeks ago, I began the weening off process. My body is doing some interesting things. I've been through this process before, so most of it was expected. However this time I'm weening off a bit faster than I did before. This time my body is doing some new things I didn't anticipate. You know, just for a bit of fun.

Part of this has been pleasant, part of this has been unpleasant. But even the pleasant parts have been a little scary - because it's new and I've not been this way before. I've not felt these feelings or physical effects before.

And the fear around that (for me) comes from "what is happening to my body"? And that's natural.

An encouraging thing for me this time around is that I have a strong sense that I'll be okay - even though I'm sometimes afraid.

So how do I know I'll be okay?

And this is where you come in (if you're a support person, that is).

It's a complex answer, but a very large part of it is that I have a bunch of people whom I trust in my corner, championing me through this. Championing me through life. Championing me through my mood fluctuations (whatever form they take).

These people wave their pom-poms in the air for me in lots of little ways. They don't judge me because of my ups or downs. They don't try to pathologise my ups or downs, or me either. Quite the opposite in fact. They remind me that I'm valuable. As a person. And that my mood fluctuations make me who I am. They celebrate my ups and my downs. It sounds counter-intuitive, I know, and I'm not talking about clinking champagne glasses to anxiety - I'm talking about celebrating everything that comes with it. They show me they love all of me, and that my ups and downs are just one part of me. Not a "big deal", if you like.

They don't minimise the discomfort. Instead, they remind me the discomfort is just part of the process. And often they help me through that too. All the while, not looking at me like I'm a "sick" person. These people also are quite creative with their methods of support. Some of them may not even realise they're being particularly supportive. But it's all helpful.

And I suspect that is possibly the most helpful thing you could ever do for someone who has a mood fluctuation of any kind, and no matter the intensity. The not making 'em into a "crazy person", or telling them "they're sick". Just by being there if that's what you want to do. Reminding them - if they forget (I often do) - that sure, it can suck, but there are often good things in there too. And that it's all just part of it. That it's all just part of them.

Yes, we all need a bit of extra support from time to time and there ain't nothing wrong with that.

But ups and downs are just that. And more often than not they are a natural part of living.

For me, seeing myself as "sick" was terribly unhelpful. It made me feel powerless against it. Helpless. Over time, I've come to understand I'm not "sick". I am me. I am sometimes up and down, and sometimes all over the shop, and that's part of me and that's okay. That is incredibly empowering.

And you can empower someone who has mood fluctuations in the same way I've felt empowered by the peeps who love me - by simply seeing their ups or downs in a way no different to if they had a broken leg. That a broken leg does not make the person sick. Their leg is broken. And it'll mend in time, with the right type of cast. The right support.

I'm lucky I've got such incredibly supportive, compassionate, and loving people in my corner. I can't imagine how I'd get through all this if I didn't. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Erich Fromm (where's 'e from?) has blown my mind

I was having one of those amazing conversations yesterday - the kind where you leave and your whole body is buzzing and your imagination is alive. Incredible.

Anyway during that conversation I was introduced to Erich Fromm, and a concept from a book he wrote, called "The Art of Loving".

Fromm paints this picture of love, and the person doing the loving as an artist - cultivating the craft (or the art) of loving. From the Wiki page - "Fromm presents love as a skill that can be taught and developed. He rejects the idea of loving as something magical and mysterious that cannot be analyzed and explained..."

"Fromm observes that real love "is not a sentiment which can be easily indulged in by anyone." It is only through developing one's total personality to the capacity of loving one's neighbor with "true humility, courage, faith and discipline" that one attains the capacity to experience real love. This should be considered a rare achievement..."

Well.

My mind is sufficiently blown.

I love that.

It resonated deeply with me. Loving, an art, crafted, cultivated, nurtured, developed - and loving all people to love. To truly love.

It's less about another external person and more about the internal action of love. Somehow it takes the pressure off everything and is more accepting. More real.

I gotta get me this book.

Erich Fromm, where's 'e from? 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Possibly the craziest week of my entire life

Have you ever had one of those days where everything that could possibly happen happens?

So for the last week or so that has been my day, every day. In fact since returning from my trip to Japan my days have been steadily increasing in hectic-and-craziness.

It's been an everything time. I've had welcome and unwelcome news. I've had metaphoric bushfires to extinguish (oh so many work debacles/emergencies and plenty of personal challenges too). I've had people I've desperately wanted to see and catch up with talk to and cuddle and love but I've been low on spare time and there has just been so much work to fit in. Adequate sleep has been tricky and eating has been an infrequent event. 

I've wanted to write words but until today there were no spare minutes to entertain idle thoughts.

Don't mistake this as me complaining, here. I've been craving for life to ramp up in a number of areas and now it has - I'm possibly just adjusting. Most of the craziness has been incredible, although things have perhaps moved faster than I had anticipated.

But it has been stupidly busy (frantic) and somewhat overwhelming.

A friend of mine helpfully suggested I prioritise. Anything you can put off, put off for now! Yes! But yesterday, I was prioritising between emergencies. Which emergency is more urgent...? How do I decide between doing X or doing Y? Nope, no choice, must do both.

I've not even really had a chance to just let myself fall in a heap and wail like a banchee (cry). Something I'm fond of doing when I feel quite overwhelmed. Although some of that did leak out a few days ago for a brief moment...

Anyway, there always seems to be a silver lining with me, no exceptions here. One of the loveliest things about the craziest week/fortnight/time (possibly of my life) has been people.

Thoroughout all if this hecticness I've been blown away (repeatedly) by the amazingly sweet things people have been doing for me. And all of those peeps have had their own stuff going on in their own crazy worlds. 

How do I adequately convey my thanks for these things?

Thank you?

MASSIVE-HUG-OF-THANKS-KISSES-AND-SQUEEZING-EM-TELLING-EM-HOW-MUCH-I-LOVE-EM-KIND-OF-THANK-YOU?

*giggle

I'm back to wondering how it is possible to fit more love in this already brimming heart of mine and there it is. Room for more.

xx

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Mended broken bones and brains

Okay so. Brave post coming up.

Know that I am nervous about posting this, but sometimes it's good to make brave admissions. During my times of struggle there were times where only hearing people's stories got me through. Some were told by loved ones (see my logs post, one of the best and most helpful stories for me of all time), and some by complete strangers, usually online in spaces like this one. The people who had the courage to open up about their own stuff helped me more than words can express.

So I'm paying it forward. Telling my stories and digging around for my courage to tell the big ones too.

I've been on Effexor (it's an SSRI, helpful for peeps with GAD) for around a year.

I'd been on it before and gotten off it (which I previously posted about). But I had to go on it again for reasons that aren't important. Loads of therapy too. Therapy is amazing by the way.

Anyway last night I saw my meds doctor. My doc who has been there with me for yeeeears, since the beginning of all of this. Last time I saw him we talked about me stepping down in May. Like, this month. Now.

As part of the process to decide if stepping down was still a good idea, I caught him up on the events of the last few months, since the time I last saw him. Spilled my guts on all sorts of emotions that popped up during that time. I wanted to share the responsibility in the decision to come off them.

Last time I ignored his advice and came off too soon. So this time around I had told him I'd just trust whatever he thought and give myself a bit of space and time to recover properly. Totes took the pressure right off and just didn't set myself any sort of deadline.

"So, doc, how's it looking, am I ready?" I asked.

He grinned and said, "more than ready", and then some other nice things. They're just for me though.

I squealed with delight. I was never 100% comfortable having to take them (side effects, dependency, etc), although I do understand they were necessary for me for a time and I'm no longer ashamed about needing to be on them. (Yeah, that one took quite some time.)

So, today is day 1 of reduction in SSRI meds.

I feel nervous, but also excited. Both, in equal measure.

Stupid side effects be gone! Yay!

I wonder how I'll go without them! Hmm. *ponders

Only one way to find out.

As I was leaving the doc's office, I remembered something my Mum told me years ago. At the time it was super helpful and last night it was helpful again.

She said, "you know Mary, after a broken bone mends, that part of the bone is stronger than the rest of the bone".

Thinking about that sort of floored me. Really?! Wow, that's so cool.

For a while my brain was a bit broken.

We put a plaster cast on it for a while, and wrapped it in (lots of) cotton wool.

Now the cast is off and it's all exposed and a little scary, but I can 'walk' again on my own now without crutches and without a cast.

'Am hoping Mum was right about the broken bones thing too - and its applicability to brains.

If nothing else, it's nice to wriggle my toes.

My brain's toes. I'm being metaphorical but I'm sure you get that. 

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Dear Mr Abbott, I am dissatisfied with your response

You may recall a couple of months ago I wrote to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, in relation to the UDHR and people seeking asylum in Australia. See here for a copy of the original letter.

Tony responded to me personally. See his response here.

Here is my response to him. The original will follow by post. 

7 May 2013

The Hon Tony Abbott MP
Prime Minister of Australia
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Mr Abbott,
Re:         Your ref C14/20782
                Asylum seekers – dissatisfied with your response
Thank you for your response dated 24 April 2014, I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
In your correspondence you’ve said:
1.       Illegal boats put lives at risk…[and that] The Government believes in a strong migration programme and won’t sacrifice that under a guise of “false compassion”  that, in turn, encourages more illegal arrivals on unsafe boats”.
With respect, the Government’s current immigration policies are also putting lives and people at risk. It seems (among other things) you’ve missed a larger issue I’ve raised: how people seeking refugee status received by Australia are being treated, which is (by all accounts) very, very badly. Aside from the death of Reza Berati, I have heard eye witness accounts of, and read countless reports on, the terrible conditions at Manus and Nauru, Mr Abbott. Disease and mental illness in the processing centres is prevalent and on the increase.

2.       [Paraphrased] “the policies are rebuilding Australia’s confidence in the immigration policies”’. How can you say that with a straight face? I enclose an article (marked "1"), published today in the Guardian. I don’t know any Australian who has any sort of confidence in the Government’s current immigration policies. If anything, confidence is dropping.

3.       The number of “illegal arrivals” has dropped since the Government tightened its policies.
Why would this impress me, or any Australian?
This concerns me. UNHCR statistics show more and more people are being forced to leave their war torn, poverty stricken countries. The fact they’re no longer coming to Australia is not something to brag about. Your assertion is superficial and in my view takes us further from the principals under the UDHR. And I’m dumbfounded you admit to thinking this is a productive measure of success.
Also, are the number of boats really dropping, Mr Abbott, really? Almost every day there is bad publicity for Australia on the disastrous outcomes relating to your asylum seeker policies. I believe you use manipulated statistics to justify your reasons for these policies. I enclose an additional article (marked“2”, source UNHCR) and note these are the statistics I choose to rely on, Mr Abbott, not yours, and they do not make Australia look good.
This is what the Australian people are seeing, Mr Abbott.
Further your referring to these people as “illegal arrivals” demonstrates your complete lack of compassion. To me it demonstrates a total disconnect between you and the issues. They’re people, Mr Abbott, humans: who, in the face of adversity, are willing to risk their lives in leaky boats. How bad must it be on their end for them to do that, to justify such an enormous risk?
You may as well wave a big flag in the air that says “I have no empathy for humans!” I’m aware you’re a busy man, Mr Abbott. I’ll make you the flag and post it to you by separate correspondence.
You and I, Mr Abbott, we’re lucky: the luckiest. We were born into a fantastic set of circumstances where even the lower middle classes are comparatively affluent by world standards. Lucky us.
But what if that changed, Mr Abbott, and we needed assistance and compassion from a neighbouring country? What if these people seeking asylum were our parents, our spouses, or our children?
How would you want to handle those people, Mr Abbott? How would you expect that we be treated if we needed assistance and compassion? Would we expect or hope that we would be processed legitimately? Would we expect or hope that we would be treated with respect and treated well during the time that processing takes place?
I would.
You claim Australia’s successful resettlement programmes are “among the top refugee resettlement countries”. The truth of this is highly dubious, but even if it were true – I do not believe we are a country that treats people seeking asylum with dignity and respect.
Do not make the mistake of believing that people born into more difficult circumstances do not have incredible value, Mr Abbott. They do.
Before you dismiss what I’m writing, consider this: if you want to keep your election promises, keep them. I vehemently disagree with them but I didn’t vote you in.
Whatever your promises, you have no right to mislead the public. You have no right to mistreat humans.
At the very absolute, bottom-line minimum:
1.       Make sure the people seeking asylum are actually processed, on a genuine case by case basis.
Surely you must be aware of the whistleblowers coming out of the processing centres who’ve indicated people seeking asylum are not actually being processed.

2.       Make sure people seeking asylum are treated adequately during the time they are processed.
By all reports they’re currently under appalling conditions. You need to ask yourself if you would ever want to be an asylum seeker under your own Government.

3.       Stop lying.
The response you gave me in your letter was superficial and flimsy. It lacked any real conviction and made it abundantly clear to me that you should not be running a country. I am seeing more and more Australians agreeing with me on this, Mr Abbott.
And it’ll cost you votes.
And honestly, I am astounded [emphasis added] that you’re able to sleep at night.
Sincerely,
Mary 

Response from Prime Minister Tony Abbott

You may recall a couple of months ago I wrote to the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, in relation to the UHDR and people seeking asylum in Australia. See here for a copy of the letter.

Tony responded, here is a copy of his letter.



I have replied to his letter as well, which I will post in a separate post, see here

Friday, 2 May 2014

Last night in Japan

Tonight is my last night in Japan.

I spent the last few days in Kyoto (it was sooo not enough I could easily have spent another 2 weeks there), and arrived back in Tokyo today. Ready for my flight home tomorrow.

*wail

This trip has been amazing.

I couldn't decide how to spend my last night in Japan. I was briefly tempted to just hang out in my hotel room - having stayed in hostels the entire trip, being completely on my own for the first time in two weeks was very tempting - but I ventured out to get some last minute exploring done.

I love exploring this country. I love speaking (or maybe trying to speak) Japanese. I love eating the food. Listening to all the sounds. The sounds here are mostly just so cute.

Anyway tonight became about just wandering around getting thoroughly lost down the streets of I have no idea where. I just walked towards the lights and the bustle and it didn't take long to be in the thick of somewhere incredible.



Then I decided to fill my belly with all my favourite Japanese foods. Gyoza. Tuna sushimi. That's as far as I got before dessert because I have a pitifully small stomach.



There was no English menu so I had to look up the Kanji for Tuna. Success.


And it was 10 little nuggets of delicious.


Usually when I go overseas by the time the trip is over I'm ready to go home.

Both times I've been to Japan I've wanted to stay longer, see more, taste more, speak more Japanese.

Ahh Japan, old friend.

Ittekimasu xx

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

I found my sticky tape in Kyoto

Having generalised anxiety disorder sometimes means feeling anxious.

Yeah! Fun times...

Not really. It can feel quite awful. Maybe awful is the wrong word. I try not to judge my feelings as often that makes it far more unpleasant. Unpleasant is one way to put it. Uncomfortable? Well, it's not fun is what I'm trying to say.

Lately I've noticed my anxiety has moved a bit. It's set up camp in another part of me. Not sure what that means it's just something I've noticed. Usually it sits in a certain place physically in my body. Now it sits somewhere else. Like it's moved house, or something.

Anyway I was chatting to a dear friend of mine the other day during an anxious moment. I was about to head off to Kyoto and something in me said, "Nooooo! We've just gotten comfortable in Tokyo and you wanna go someplace else?! We don't like change! Remember! Be scared and staaaaay put we like comfort zones Mary."

No! And then I stamped my foot.

I'm so contrary I have to push past all this stuff to prove to myself it won't kill me. That fear and anxiety is something my body just does because I am "me", and I don't want to let it stop me doing wonderful fun incredible things. Like travelling. Or anything else outside my comfort zone really.

So, we go to Kyoto!

And by "we" I mean me and my anxiety.

Anywhooo. My lovely friend suggested I get myself some sticky tape. You know, just incase. I loved the idea because I'm a visual person - but I thought "yeah I'll get some metaphoric sticky tape, that'll do just fine."

And it probably would have, except I decided to buy some super cute Japanese sticky tape. Just coz I'm in Japan, and everything here is super cute.

By the time I actually got to Kyoto there was no need for sticky tape, but I did it anyway, you know, just incase. And now I have this incredibly kawaii roll of sticky tape with a girl riding her bike through foreign cities like Amsterdam (this is on the sticky tape) and London - which seemed to fit because I like riding a bike - and it's super handy to carry with me just incase I, you know, feel a bit broken or falling apart or something.

Just incase.

Kyoto was incredible.

It was easier than I had imagined and there was so much amazing stuff to see there. I wished I'd gone sooner so I had more time to spend there.

I rode a bike all around to visit a castle and a couple of shrines. I ate and wandered around. I visited the International Manga Museum and changed my mind about not buying a single physical souvenir in Japan. I bought a book of the exhibition and an Astro Boy mug so every time I drink my tea I remember how lovely Kyoto was.

I didn't hang out with any other tourists in Kyoto, I barely said more than 2 words to anyone the whole 3 days I was there...it was just me and my sticky tape.

And it was marvellous.

[Yells at anxiety even though I shouldn't yell at her] See?! We had fun didn't we?!

[Giggle.]

P.S. If you ever want somewhere amazing to stay in Kyoto - Hana Hostel is absolutely incredible. I cannot recommend it highly enough.









This was the top "bunk" at the hostel. More like a cubby - so cute - and look at all that space up there! Only Y2,800 per night for a female dorm. The facilities were amazing.



Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Is it the adventure? Or the best gyoza in town?

I've been pondering why travel is so much fun...so interesting...so good (I hate that word but it fits).

And I don't have the answer to that question but I do know it has something to do with absolutely everything being com-p-lete-ly different.

For me the fun part isn't the sightseeing necessarily. Seeing cool stuff is cool, but that's not "it".

It's more about the process. Having absolutely no reference point, it's almost necessary to teach yourself how to function in another country. Especially if it's not a country similar to the one you live in.

It's the adventure of it all!

[I'm grinning right now.]

Trying to figure out the train system. At home there's not a lot of fun in that (unless something new and interesting happens) but somewhere foreign (like Japan for example, where I am right now) it's an accomplishment. A small one perhaps but for me that feeling is fun.



Want something to eat? Abandon everything you know about feeding yourself and try to firstly identify what you want to eat without really knowing what this food is exactly and without having a clue how to ask for it. Then use money you're not familiar with to pay for it during an exchange with a stranger with whom you have a very limited ability to communicate with.

It's. All. Different.

And I love it. I don't at first, of course, it scares me quite a bit. But then when I finally manage to pull it off somehow and get over that part it's so incredibly rewarding.

Example? The first time I was in Japan, it took me three separate trips to Starbucks to figure out how to order a standard latte. And when I finally got that latte (instead of the other strange coffee beverages I had ended up with the two previous days)...wow it was just so cool.

Who knew ordering coffee could be so interesting.

[I'm grinning again.]

And then last night we used something called a ramen map to find the best ramen in the area I was staying.



It was, indeed, the best ramen I've tasted, and I thought I disliked ramen. The lovely Japanese fellow who ran the place also offered us gyoza. I love gyoza, and this gyoza was incredible.


Another example? Today I completely (very pleasantly) surprised myself by actually making it to my hostel in Kyoto. All on my own. Google may have helped somewhat...and I say somewhat because her instructions are often unhelpful, "head west" she says...

--- can I interject here - I am incredulous every time my Google machine says that..."I still don't know which direction west is!". Why can't someone invent a software update for Google so it's friendly to those of us who don't have internal compasses? The instructions for compass-less people like me could be "look up, you should be able to see a tall building, a road, and a 7-eleven...turn and face the tall building, then turn to your right and walk straight...this way is west" and yes it would be SO EASY for Google to know when someone is compass-less. Because they walk 10 paces in one direction. Then pivot on the heel and walk 10 paces back in the direction they'd just come. Then they take 2 steps to the right, and then 4 to the left, trying to work out which way that stupid little blue dot is going. Anyway rant over. Nope, still going...OR we could just have a compass built into Google maps perhaps! Sorry, now the rant is over. ---

...anyway when I eventually have a sense of direction Google is rather helpful again.

But honestly, I didn't have significant help from a person for any part of the process of getting here. And I don't mean in no sense, of course there was the lady at Tokyo station who told me me to go to platform 18, domo arigato. And the man at platform 18 telling me to go to carriage 3, domo arigato. Then there was the train driver, thank you. Etc etc.


What I mean is, all those people were doing their thing, and I had to do my thing, on my own, to get here. No one did any of it for me, or showed me how. I had to work it out. And, for me...that! That, is the fun part.

So why is something so simple so exciting?

Easy.

[My eyes are beaming right now.]

There was a time I didn't think I'd be able to do this on my own.

More than that, there was a time I didn't think I'd be able to do this, period.

There was a time I wasn't certain I'd ever leave the house again, let alone with a smile on my face. And even after I was able to leave my house I wasn't certain I'd be able to leave my comfort zone. Or at least I'd not be able to go very far out of it.

And, yet, here I am.

It's just me. And all of me, too, even the weird bent-out-of-shape and banged-up and totally-freaked-out bits...gradually breaking down my comfort zone walls to make way for new and exciting things...

...and currently thoroughly enjoying the cuteness of this place. Everything here has a magnified cute-ness!


Saturday, 26 April 2014

I need to learn the kanji for "special massage place"

There's a funny story in here but first for context.

I'm in Japan. (Catch up!) Tokyo at the moment. Soon I'm off to Kyoto.

I'm an awkward traveller. It doesn't really come naturally to me. Does it for anyone? For a start I get lost...a lot. Which I'm oddly okay with, but it does mean I end up with sore legs and feet (trying to find 'west' wherever that is). I also tend to do that ridiculous homesick thing quite a bit too. Something to do with being fostered as a child. Boooo. Although the homesickness usually passes after a week (so, I'm right on schedule).

Sometimes when I travel I wake up in the morning and think oh I so cannot be bothered sight seeing today maybe I'll just get bored and see what happens. This happened yesterday when the stranger on the bunk bed below me answered her telephone at 3am and had a whole conversation and, no, I am not kidding.

Anyway I don't care that I'm awkward and get lost and sore feet and freak out a bit when I travel. Because I love seeing new things. New places. I love meeting interesting people. Sometimes not so interesting people, but that is often worth while too. I love eating cool new food (like chicken gizzards, true story) and speaking new languages.

I love feeling the wind in my hair. (No helmets in Japan!)

I love pushing myself outside my comfort zone a bit (in manageable ways). It's always so rewarding.

For instance, did you know in Japan you can purchase a soft or hard boiled egg at a convenience store that has the salt already on the inside of the egg? How do they do that?

It blows my mind every time.

Not necessarily the eggs. That's probably something ridiculously simple.

It's more the stuff you discover when you travel. And there's only one way that discovery can happen and that is...to travel. For me, the awkwardness is just part of it. I do it anyway.

Worth it. You get my point.

Anyway in a bid to relax my tired, awkward, and sore body - I like to have a relaxing massage.

Told you there was a funny story.

This isn't my first time in Japan and so I'm familiar enough with the massage market here...or so I thought.

Yesterday on my way back to my hostel I wandered around trying to find a place to get a massage. I was wandering for an awfully long time too, perhaps an hour? I tried my Google machine but no joy.

I had some brief success and found a place but the lady told me to come back in an hour. By then I was too tired to wait that long. I considered just heading home (hostel) for a shower when I spotted a sign nearby. It was in kanji but they all are here - and it had pictures of massage on it.

Perfect. In I went.

The lady greeted me with a slightly confused look on her face. First clue in retrospect. But at the time I thought nothing of it. I have limited Japanese and she had limited English. Not unusual! Anyway she offered me a seat and then the massage menu. My second clue was the prices were a little steep. Usually a massage is around the Y6000 mark. This one said Y10000. I thought it was a little odd but nodded my assent anyway. Keen for a massage.

Still seeming confused she asked me to wait. She went to get someone else. They came in with a telephone and did a Google translate. "We're very busy can you wait 20 minutes" it said.

I nodded, so after some whispering they showed me to a room and told me I could lie down if I wanted. Third clue? Massage mat on the ground. No biggy they do that in Thailand right?

But a little while later my fourth and fifth clues came.

'Why can I hear someone having a shower...?' By now my face had a little frown on it. Maybe it's next door...

And then...'okay that sounds like quite a relaxing massage'.

Wait. I put my glasses back on and carefully looked around the room. There were some shelves with towels and some bottles of things and what are those things...?

Yep. Okay. Oh. Right. What do I do now? Just quietly leave. Okay bag, got it. Shoes, zip zip zip zip. (My shoes have zips, not laces). Coat. On. Curtain, aside. Lady comes out of the room next door (and I dearly wished she hadn't...mainly because I felt a bit silly but also because I didn't particularly want the visual) and I sort of stutter out "ano sumemasen, totes forgot I have to meet someone in 10 minutes, very sorry! Okay-see-you-bye-bye".

The lady looked even more confused (poor love) and asked me if I wanted to come back tomorrow.

"Iie, it's okay. Domo arigato!" a cheery wave and I was on my way.

And actually I'm not 100% certain my suspicions were founded. But either way, I was content to just chill out back at my hostel. 

Monday, 21 April 2014

Tokyo, take two: near disaster travel story



If you prefer to skip my philosophical musings, scroll down to "**The Story" below.....

I don't think there is anything nicer than the sound of rain on a roof. Happily for me it's raining here and I'm sitting with my head very close to a roof. A slanted roof made of wooden slats that don't quite fit together so you can see through to the insulation.

But I love it. It's friendly and warm and cozy and homely.

I'm on a top bunk bed so it feels like I'm sort of camping (a love of mine), and all the bunks have canvass curtains for privacy - adding to the cozy camping-ness feeling. This nook will be my home for another 4 nights and it's so lovely I will be a bit sad to leave.

I'm in Tokyo again.

I came here last year for a month, to visit my then boyfriend and to see if I liked it enough to live here for a year or two. I did like it that much, but at precisely the same time some other things happened and I ended up doing quite a lot of grieving. For various and irrelevant reasons.

Despite the grieving, I loved Tokyo so much I didn't want to leave. But there was a sort of resigned sadness that stained many of those memories.

I couldn't have that. I dreamed of coming to Japan my whole life. I dreamed of living in Tokyo all through my 20s. I couldn't have my big Japan dream-of-a-lifetime visit stained by that kind of sadness.

So this is Tokyo, take two. And it's every bit as amazing but this time with a little less grieving and quite a lot more fun.

So far, anyway.

*grins

And, as I love hearing travel stories, especially the ones involving near-disaster, here's my first Tokyo take two near-disaster travel story.



**The Story

When I landed in Tokyo (well, Narita) it was 8pm and I had only 2 hours to get to my backpacker's. I packed super light so I could carry-on and run everywhere (lappie, a few clothes, a book). I flew through immigration and bolted for my train.

8.32pm.

Just under 90 minutes to make it to Asakusa by the cut-off time for check in. They said "please don't be late as we can't check you in after 10pm". I had emailed them from Australia, worried I'd not make it in 2 hours (the airport is in whoop whoop), but they had reassured me I would. They told me to ring if I got lost or was late.

I have a Japanese SIM card (long story, doesn't matter). So, thinking I'd have my Google machine, I intended to follow GPS. In Tokyo, Google gives you PT directions.

Golden.

Except I'd forgotten to unlock my new iPhone handset. I'd forgotten I even had a new handset since the last time I was overseas. SIM card is inserted but no joy, "please plug into iTunes to set up" it said. 

*slaps forehead

Right. No Google machine. Thank goodness for back up plan HostelWorld's written directions! 

Catch a train to Aoto station. Swtich to the train bound for Asakusa. Switch to Ginza line and get off at Tawaramachi. 

9.35pm

Squinting up at the map on the train roof I roughly calculated I'd not make it in time, or be cutting it very fine.

And, no Google machine = no phone to ring Backpacker's. 

I looked around. I hate asking strangers for favours, even though I'm often glad to help strangers when asked for one. It took me a while, but finally I asked a lady sitting near me. "Pardon me, can I borrow your phone?" in as much Japanese as I could muster (which isn't a lot, okay so I only knew how to say "pardon me", the rest was English and gesturing) and offered her some yen. 

I'm not certain she understood. I'm not certain the next 3 people I asked understood either. But they all hesitated then shook their heads. 

[pauses to laugh, wondering what they thought I was offering to pay them for]

I did the train switch thing. 

Foreigners! I went over to them. "Excuse me, do you speak English?" 

"A little."

"Do you have a telephone?" 

"No, sorry." 

"No worries, enjoy Japan, okay this is my stop". 

10.03pm 

Got off at my final train stop. Maybe they'll wait a few minutes and I could still make it. It's only a 7 minute walk from the station. I kept going.

Back to the written directions. 

And I quote: "Leave the station via exit number 3. Go straight for a while, and turn left at a 2nd traffic light ('Kokusaidori-Asakusa 1'). Go straight for 3 mins passing by 5 junctions. Then you will find us on your right, just before you meet a big street.

I swear I followed them. To the letter. I went straight, counted 2 sets of lights, turned left, then counted 5 streets - all very carefully. Nothing on the right that even resembled accommodation. 

Wait. What does 5 junctions mean? I counted side streets! Did they have to be cross junctions

Confused, I retraced my steps, then returned counting 5 cross junctions. 

Still nothing. 

10.15pm

It has to be around here somewhere. So I walked around a few blocks.  

10.30pm (ish)

Well past check in cut off time. I popped into a few hotels/guest houses to see if they had vacancies. Plan B.

Alas, nothing. 

It was quite cold and raining softly, but as I trotted along I spotted a "24-hour Starbucks".  Right. Plan C. Even with the uncertainty of the whole thing I was starting to feel excited again about being in Tokyo.  

10.45pm (ish)

I found a very kind English speaking tourist out front of a guest house. I asked her if it was still open. "I don't think there's any vacancies", she said. Tired from all the trotting (a sort of walk/jog), I sat down and chatted with the lady for a while. She asked what I was doing looking for accomm so late and I explained my predicament. She went and got the manager for the guest house. Lovely dude. He used his Google machine to find out where I needed to go, got me a paper map and drew a line from where I was to where I needed to be. 

Did I mention he was lovely

I should also mention that from the station I'd gone in the opposite direction (away my backpacker's). I still don't know how that happened. 

Anyway with time pressure now off, I hung out there for a few minutes out of the rain. We talked about Melbourne and I told them my plan C for the night. "It's not actually a 24 hour Starbucks", said the lovely English speaking lady, now with a worried look on her face. 

Oh. Right. Thanks-well-you've-both-been-great-I'd-better-get-going-then. 

They wished me well and I set off again in the rain, thankful I'd packed so light. 

Okay, quick, brain, think of a new plan C! Wishing furtively someone could let me in/sneak me in at the Backpacker's?  

Even though I was a little apprehensive (okay scared) about being homeless for the night I had a brief Frances Ha moment running/skipping along the sidewalk. Tokyyyooooo!

The paper map was brillo. I found the place. Easily. Thank you lovely dude (san).

11.25pm. 

Lights were on. I could hear friendly chatter. 

Then I saw this note taped to the outside of the door. 


I looked through the locked door at the other travellers inside, held up the note and said "I'm Mary". They let me in, and told me how to do wifi if I needed to tell peeps back home I'd arrived safe. I was flooded with relief they'd let me in. I opened the note and it had instructions on how to get in with a "pay us in the morning". 

Quite overwhelmed by the gesture of that note and all the friendliness in general, I sat down on a little chair and kind of babbled for a while, almost in tears, then frantically texted the peeps who'd left me "are you there yet" notes (at which point reading those I actually did cry). 

So nice to have people in my corner. 

Anyway all the other travellers were very kind and no one told me to shut up. And then we laughed at my inability to follow directions.

Tell you what. I was pretty happy to discover my comfy bed in this little nook after I'd settled down somewhat.

Oh Tokyo, it's good to be back.