So naturally, as I assume is typical protocol for all paupers, I have spent my first few days in Sydney visiting the various art galleries, state libraries, and other museum type places that I can manage to get in for free. Unfortunately, I have yet to achieve the level of maturity necessary when it comes to nude photographs and am still stuck in the phase of laughing, turning red and uncomfortably averting my gaze whenever I am faced with one. This is incredibly difficult to do when the entire gallery is made up of such portraits and a member of staff has chosen to, despite the look on my face, latch herself onto my arm (evidently under the impression that I require assistance) and escort me around the entire exhibition. I didn't want to appear immature (or, God forbid, ignorant about art) so I feigned interest as she talked me through several portraits, each subject as naked as the last, and each appearing in an increasingly unorthodox position. I'm all one for good art, but at the end of the day, pornography's pornography. I left shortly after she finished telling me, in a tone far too casual considering the subject matter, that most of the models in the photos were not professional but simply people who had called into the shop, which further fueled my theory that nude portraits are the gateway drug, if you will, of the pornography world. One minute you're lying seductively on a bearskin rug, and the next you're letting yourself be handcuffed to the bed of a TravelLodge whilst having whipped cream licked off you by the boy down the road who works in the chip shop. An interesting career choice, I'm sure, but in the end it's not one that made my maybe list.
Speaking of careers, given that it has been almost a year since I completed my degree, I'm starting to wonder how much longer I can answer the question, 'so what do you do for a living?' with, 'well, actually, I've only just graduated...' and then trailing off into what I consider to be an impressive silence. I have started to wonder whether I'll ever have a job where I can comfortably afford to use internet without having to sneak into a library and use the public computers. I don't really mind, but in the past few weeks I have both been signed up to the Ted Baker mailing list and had an e-mail from "the FBI" as a result of putting my e-mail address in public computers. It is worrying, but somewhat refreshing, to know that the FBI have finally ceased with the formalities and are now using phrases such as, 'you get me?' I actually felt mocked the other day in the street after a CashForGold (or Australia's equivalent) representative stopped me in the street. 'Sick of all that unwanted gold?' asked the leaflet he was holding. What gave me away? Was it the shorts that I have been wearing for a week or the dry CornFlakes I am eating for dinner? And even if I was rich, I doubt any gold I had would fall into the category of unwanted. I could finally fulfill my If-I-Won-The-Lottery dream of spending my days riding around on a gold horse with gold reigns in a suit made of gold. (Thinking about it, I'm not entirely sure I could pull this image off, but it would be nice to have the option).
Sydney has also introduced me to a few more 'cultural delights' such as the Harbour Bridge (equally as boring to look at in real life as it in on a photograph) and the Sydney Opera House (likewise). I have actually started to resent the Opera House somewhat after I kept getting lost and somehow ending up there, and then upon finally deciding it must be fate and going to explore, I was asked to leave as I didn't have any shoes on. The reason I was barefoot is an upsetting story that, unfortunately, no longer involves shoes, but does involve me using my flipflops as a pillow after being forced to sleep in the Greyhound bus station over night because I didn't realise the date and missed my bus, and then leaving my flipflops behind (accidentally, obviously). By this point in my travels, and indeed my life in general, this type of mishap is not unprecedented, but it was uncomfortable nonetheless and I was unable to move my neck for the several days that followed. Thankfully, it was not raining, which it has taken to doing a lot in Sydney recently. If there is a country somewhere in the world that has quicker changing weather than Australia, I would be surprised to learn about it. The other morning I got a horrendous sunburn whilst sitting in the park, and then by the afternoon I was hurrying around Sydney's back alleys trying to find refuge, which came in the form of a Thai restaurant. It seemed the safest option given that one side housed a pawn shop and the other a seedy looking Thai 'massage parlour'. As in most Western countries, restaurants serving 'authentic cuisine' also usually serve chips and coke, but not this place. I almost had a genuine culture shock as I sat down and realised with a panic that there were no knives and forks, but I was about to be forced to eat my meal with my arch nemesis - chopsticks. In my 21 years of life, I have never figured out how people eat with these things. It took me the best part of 40 minutes to eat a plate of rice, and even then I had to use four chopsticks clamped together to fashion a kind of scoop. After many failed attempts to pick up a piece of pork, I eventually resorted to just stabbing angrily at my plate in the hopes of spearing a prize. On top of my chopstick related dilemma, the waiter had placed several unfamiliar dishes in front of me, brought in various different bowls and cups. Just as I was about to pour what I thought was sauce on my rice, I noticed a woman at the next table gesturing wildly over at me. She pulled her own 'sauce' towards her and started dipping her fingers in it, which I thought was odd behaviour until I realised that it was for cleaning your hands with. I spent the next five minutes pointing to various things on my table whilst she mimed out their functions. I was particularly confused about the teapot (something I finally recognised) as there were no cups, but apparently it is customary in Thailand to drink tea out of a bowl... I finally managed to work my way through my meal though, my new friend beaming proudly at me across the room, and for a while I felt like a genuine Thai diner - until I had to spend ten minutes trying to explain to the waiter that I wanted to pay, which was a whole new fiasco altogether. Naturally.