Friday, July 29, 2011

James, Cloudstreet, American Tourist Stereotype, and Perth

1. Finished reading 48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls.  I liked it.

2. Read the first few lines of my next book; Cloudstreet by Tim Winton.  

I'm nervous about it.

I read it before, when I first became obsessed with Australia.  It was one of my first introductions to classic Aussie literature.

I daydreamed through most of it.

That happens to me sometimes.

I later read other Tim Winton books, and liked them.   Although I find they entail a lot of concentration.  I wouldn't call them easy-reading.

I want to give Cloudstreet another chance.    But I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself.   I'm going to follow my new rule.  I'll read the first two chapters.   NO daydreaming allowed.   If I miss anything, I have to go back and read it again.  Then after the two chapters, I'll decide if I want to continue it or move onto the next book.

I hope I'm brave enough to admit not liking it, if that's the case.   I'm worried that I'll succumb to the pressure to be a Cloudstreet fan.   It seems like there's some kind of law that says if you love Australia you must love Cloudstreet

3. Dreamed about James (the Aussie in Sweden).  

I get a package from him.  He has sent me some small newspapers that have articles he's written.   I'm a bit surprised and wonder why he did it.   Then I start to suspect that he thinks I have a crush on him.  I don't, so I feel somewhat bad that he went through all this trouble for me.

I think the dream is telling me I SHOULD have a crush on James.   He's awesome.  How could I not adore a Aussie who loves Abba, writes well, and speaks Swedish?  

Yeah he's gay and far away. I'm married. But unattainable crushes are probably the best anyway.

I don't have the crush yet.  But who knows.  It could time.

Right now I think the closest thing I have to a crush is Google Maps.  Or...well...that might actually be real love.  

4. Disappointed that no one joined my Free Rice group besides Jack. 

I'm having fun with it though.  I've been into the literature quiz lately.

5. Read the prologue and first chapter of Cloudstreet.   When I force myself to pay attention, I like it a lot. I daydreamed once, and had to read a page over again.    Then I was half paying attention in one part.  I got confused a bit and had to back up a few sentences. 

I realized this was the scene where Sam Pickles loses his hand.  Well, and I knew he was minus a hand from the last time I read the book. Yeah, I daydreamed through it; but I did pick up on some stuff. 

5. Tried to understand Ann O'Dyne's post.   She talks about going to Flinders in Westernport.   Then she mentions a cottage.  Is the cottage Flinders?  Or maybe the street is Flinders?

And what is Westernport.  Is it a town?  Suburb?

On Google Maps, I don't see a town or suburb; but I do see a Westernport hotel, a Westernport car dealership, and a motor bike place.   

6. Found if I seperate Western and Port, there's a place on Google Maps.   It's an island near Phillip Island.   Is this what Ann O'Dyne is talking about?  

7. Found this video.   It's about Flinders Coast in Westernport Bay.  

I'm amused by the steel drum bands in the video.   For some reason, I don't associate that type of music with Australia.   I also don't associate it with NYC.

I heard it once in the subway station back when we lived and worked there.  It bothered me.  I'm sorry, but I don't want to hear my cruise vacation music while I'm heading to work in the cold weather.  It doesn't fit.  It's depressing.  

8. Liked the song in the video.  It doesn't fit Australia for me, but that's okay.  It at least fits better in Australian beach scenes than it does in a NYC subway station.

9. Wondered if Western Port and Westernport are the same places.  Maybe the space between the words is optional.

10. Read Andrew's post about his bus tour of the Barossa Valley.  He says, the group was R and myself, two other Australian couples, a couple from LA, three possibly Malaysians who barely spoke English and a Dutch born girl from Sydney. They were all ok, but the guy from LA was behaving very 'American Tourist'

I think I know some Americans who would qualify as "American Tourist".  What is the stereotype?   Loud?  White tennis shoes that don't match the rest of the outfit?   Demanding?   Ethnocentric?   Australians love us, right cause we saved your asses in World War II.   That's how I think of it.   Although I think it's unfair to pick on footwear.  Let people wear what's comfortable.    Leave them alone on that account.  You don't need to make a fashion statement while touring.

I hope I don't often fit the American Tourist stereotype.   I probably do sometimes, but hopefully not too often.

11. Looked at various websites about how not to be a ugly American, including this one.  All of them seem to be heavily focused on appearance.   I'm all for reducing rude behavior (loud, demanding and ethnocentric stuff).  But does it matter so much to look like a typical American?    Does it matter that you wear white shoes, have a hat, wear a camera around your neck, and carry a guidebook?    Is that hurting anyone?  I mean I think it's creepy if you wear all that to a nice restaurant.   But if you're going on a full day tour, I think you should be as comfortable as possible.  And if you're on a full day tour, you're BEING a tourist. Why not look like a tourist?

All these people are worried that Americans will look like Americans. They won't blend in to their surroundings.  Would these same people worry if an African wore African attire as they walked through the streets of New York?  Would they be embarrassed for an Indian woman wearing a Sari?  

12. Liked Fruitcake's blond joke at the end of her post.   It made me laugh a bit.    So there are blond stereotypes and American stereotypes.    I think I fit the blond stereotype more than the American tourist stereotype. That's funny since I'm American, but not blond.

13. Tried to figure out where we should go instead of Australia in 2012.   I'll admit I still have a tiny bit of Australia hope left in me.   We're going to evaluate things in November. If by some miracle, the American economy is back on its feet; the Australian dollar is not worth so many American dollars; and the Australian inflation thing gets under control, we'll do Australia.  

In case that doesn't happen, we're going to try to go somewhere else.

I was thinking of following in the footsteps of my potential future crush by going to Sweden.   But it turns out that's expensive for Americans right now.

Eastern Europe is supposed to be pretty affordable at this point.  We thought of doing Bulgaria, Prague, and Budapest.  That would be nice.

Last night we watched part of The Goonies.   We learned it was filmed in the Pacific Northwest.   It's beautiful, and the flights would probably be more affordable than going international.  But then I remembered it's known for having bears.

I'm scared of bears.  

Last night I named potential places for Jack and he rated them.  He's been wanting to go to Germany, France, and England.   I told him that's too expensive for us right now.   Yesterday he had a new passion.   Barcelona, Spain.  Tim has often talked about wanting to go there.  We spent one or two nights there while on a European cruise, and we both loved it.  Jack wants to go to Barcelona.   Tim wants to go to Barcelona.  I want to go to Australia, but Barcelona seems like a fantastic second choice.

As I mentioned before I get nervous around places that don't speak my language—probably one way that I do fit the ugly American stereotype.    But I'm less nervous about Spain because I do know a bit of Spanish.  I probably couldn't have a decent conversation.   But I can read enough to prevent me from feeling completely lost.

14. Decided to find a Flickr account to stalk.  I really love doing that.  

15. Found my target.   It's CJ Lai.   Recently he spent some time in Perth.   His profile says he's currently in Taiwan.  But then there's a link to his Facebook Page; and that says he lives in Perth.   I'm guessing he's lived in Taiwan and Perth.

16. Started to look at CJ Lai's album of his first day in Perth.     He provides the date of his travels.   It was June 24, 2011.  

Here's some beautiful woman in front of an art gallery.

There's more photos of them.   I'm guessing they're CJ Lai's travel mates.

17. Loved this building.  It's called London Court.

18. Found London Court's website.   It was built in 1937, and has a feel of Tudor England. I don't know much about Tudor England, but I recognize the word in reference to architecture.  I like that style.

I like the photo on the bottom of the site.  That's how I want Europe to look.   That's what I'm expecting when I go to Europe.  We didn't see much of that when we were in London, but we did see it in Canterbury.

19. Saw that London Court has a British Sweet shop.  I would definitely stop in there if I was in Perth.  I love British candy.  

20. Went back to looking at CJ Lai's photos.

Here's a fantastic photo of his female companions.  

21. Started to look at CJ Lai's next Perth album.  This one's for the next day; June 25.

The album also includes Fremantle.

How far is Fremantle from Perth?   I'm guessing the distance between the two is less than an hour.

22. Looked at Google Maps.  The distance between Perth and Fremantle is much less than an hour.   It's 1/2 an hour.  

23. Saw photo of something called The Cappuccino Strip.  I'm guessing it's a shopping area?

24. Learned about Cappuccino Strip from this Perth website.   They say, Its cappuccino strip is jammed packed with lively restaurants, the streets are abuzz with shoppers and historical pubs brim with patrons from across the globe.

Since Fremantle is on the Perth website, should I assume it's a suburb of Perth and not a separate town?  

Well, Lord Wiki doesn't say it's a suburb.   But maybe since the two cities are so close, they're seen as very connected.  It's probably like Dallas and Fort Worth.  We're two different cities, but we're also kind of one.

25. Liked this photo from the Cappuccino Strip.  It's looks quiet and peaceful.  

26. Intrigued by this photo.  What's the deal with the shopping trolley? Is that theirs, or did they just randomly find it? 

27. Saw that CJ Lai had a kangaroo encounter.  Or maybe it's a wallaby. I'm not sure.  

It took place on Heirisson Island. Where's that?

28. Found Heirisson Island on Google Maps.  It's a little island in the midst of the Swan River.  

Lord Wiki says there's a colony of western gray kangaroos living there. That's probably what CJ Lai saw.

29. Started to look at CJ Lei's photos of Kings Park.  King's Park is in Perth.  Lord Wiki says it's the largest inner city park in the world.

30. Imagined that it might be fun to climb this staircase

31. Consulted Lord Wiki about the Norfolk Pine tree because it's mentioned in Cloudstreet.

It's a pine tree that's indigenous to Norfolk Island. 

Lord Wiki says it's now found in many places including Australia, Hawaii, New Zealand, Florida, and Southern Texas.

They do better in areas where it doesn't get too cold. 

32. Found out that my Australian of the day is George Herbert Anderson.

George was a broadcasting executive and market researcher.

He was born in Hobart in 1897.  His father was the headmaster of The Hutchins School; and George had his education there.

33.  Looked at the website for The Hutchins School.  It's an Anglican boys school.

Lord Wiki says it's the oldest continually run school in Australia.   I'm not sure what he means by continually run.

34. Learned that in George's teen years, he did railroad work.

Then he joined the World War I activities.  Fortunately he survived that.

He moved to Sydney in his 20's.  He got into the whole broadcasting thing.

Later that led him to organizing surveys about radio-listening habits.  I guess it was kind of like the Neilsen ratings we have in America.  

35. Read James' post about Drottnigholm Palace in Sweden.   He liked the outside of the palace, but was unimpressed with the inside.  He couldn't show us photos of the unimpressive inside though, because photography is banned here.

James preferred the Royal Theatre to the palace. There he learned some Swedish-related Australian history; and he got to pretend he was wind in some type of performance.

36. Listened to Adam Bowes and Brad Gimbert sing Hallelujah.

Their performance is beautiful.

37. Felt sad that I don't sing as much lately.  I don't know if I lost my confidence or my interest...or if my voice is just not in a singing mood.   Maybe it's a combination of all three.

Well, when you have family members comparing your singing to Gloria's bad singing on Modern Family, it's hard not to feel shy about the whole thing.  

Jack seems to like my acting, though.   I do that a lot lately.   I'm starting to feel like his acting-slave.   His current favorite is the one where I'm a cute little baby until he says XOB. Then I become the evil psycho baby.  

When he was a very young child, I often had to be Dorothy the Dinosaur and Josie the Kangaroo.   I think that's how I got into the habit of slipping into an Australian accent.

38. Had deep thoughts while in the shower....while I was washing my hair with dandruff shampoo.

One of the reasons I wanted to move to Australia was to get away from my family.   Sorry, but it's true.  I had a difficult relationship with them, and I also had marriage problems that were strongly connected to the relationship I had with my family.

I didn't move to Australia.  Instead I started a blog about Australia.   But in some ways, I think the blog has brought me farther away from my family than moving to Australia.   We're close geographically; but emotionally I feel very distance.   The reason is this blog is a huge part of my life.  It's a huge part of my identity.  At this point, it feels like my life path.

Because my family has very little interest in this huge aspect of my life, I kind of feel like I have my own little special separate life.     

I feel very distant from my most members of my family, even when we're together.

Who knows what would have happened if I moved to Australia.  Would I feel more emotionally distant from them or less?

39. Understood perfectly that I'm not completely emotionally distant from my family.  If I was truly distant, I wouldn't care that they don't care much about my blog.   I wouldn't talk about them so much.  I wouldn't search my Statcounter every day to see if any of them had visited.   I wouldn't get overly excited in the rare moments when a family member asked me about Australia, and I wouldn't feel disappointed when the subject of the conversation changes so quickly.  
40. Talked with Tim about how I don't like taking tours when traveling. I don't think he likes it too much either.

I think one of the main reasons is I learn better by reading than listening.

I realized what I like is for OTHER people to go on tours; then take photos and/or write a blog entry about it.  Then it's like I get a reading/photographic tour.

I like arm chair traveling.  This week I feel like I've gone to Perth, Adelaide, Uluru, Alice Springs, Sweden, etc.    Soon my parents will be going to France. My dad will probably take a ton of pictures, and give extensive explanations for all of them.  Then I can feel like I've been in France.