24 May 2008


pics from the weekend in the country can be found here. enjoy!

23 May 2008


It’s hard to believe it was two weeks ago that I woke up in J’s sunroom to a beautiful day already beginning over the Toronto skyline, ate cake and drank tea for breakfast, and chatted and did some internetting until A arrived (I only just realised there are two people who are called A! Henceforth this cute-as-a-button A will be known as Toft). We had a few things planned out for the day, mostly involving heading toward the Distillery District and the Soma chocolate factory, St Lawrence Market, and (for Toft and I) to begin our great thumbs-up tour of Toronto. The thumbs-up tour has some backstory, mainly involving our online realisation that we are both inclined to stick our thumbs up in front of touristy and other places of interest. It began for me when D and I went around Europe in 2005 (when this blog started, actually). There are several pics of me doing thumbs up. I’m not sure when it started for Toft, but we bonded over this as we were getting to know each other online, and at some point it was decided that we would do a great thumbs-up tour whenever we met, and that if it was in Toronto it would culminate in a picture of us thumbs-upping in front of the giant concrete turkey library. But I am getting ahead of myself.

On this particular Friday, we were walking among the feet of the giant buildings, headed towards city hall, when we heard the dulcet tones of a protest or rally. Being me, I insisted (politely) that we go and see what was going on. It turned out to be a group of workers (I assume part of a union) protesting outside Moors – Moors is a suit company that bills itself as stocking Canadian suits. However they are apparently closing down their factory Quebec and outsourcing the suitmaking to China. Dodgy.

We meandered on towards City Hall, stopping briefly to snap a shot of the famous Eaton Centre and the geese flying inside. The geese are pretty cool, but it’s a shopping centre, so whatever. The other interesting thing about it is the name – it used to be called Eaton’s, but because French doesn’t have the apostrophe-s thing, and Canada is officially bilingual, they changed it. Very close to the Eaton centre is City Hall – all of them, in fact, including Old City Hall in all its faux-gothic glory, open again after years of renovations and reconstructions. We didn’t go in, but rather took pictures of seagulls and New City Hall, which I had seen overrun with zombies and totally destroyed in that fine piece of arthouse cinema, Resident Evil: Apocalypse. They’ve done a good job of repairing it. ;)

Then to the Distillery District for lunch. I had possibly one of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and eating at Brick St Bakery. If you’re ever there, I highly recommend the (vegetarian roast) veg sanga. Om nom nom. We also had a look in some of the gallery spaces as we digested lunch, but that was really just a formality before we headed to the Soma chocolateria. I was introduced to this when J bought some over last year. OM. NOM. NOM. I purchased some hot chocolate mix to bring home with me (but don’t expect to get any if you visit – I will probably consume it all within days). We also had some hot chocolate (So thick! So sweet! So chocolatey! So spicy!) and tried out some of their hand-crafted chocolates. Toft had an olive oil one, which was subtle and lovely, and I had balsamic vinegar, which worked so well – even I was surprised at how well-balanced the flavours were. J bought some blood orange (I think) sorbet, which was a very good idea, as we needed a palate cleanser.

We decided to walk off a bit of lunch, so turned our noses towards the CN Tower and walked to St Lawrence Market, past the site of Canada’s first Parliament, which was attacked by the Americans, prompting the Canadians (or was it actually the English? It matters not to Canadians) to march on the White House and burn it down. Hahaha! GOTCHA!

At St Lawrence Market, we headed to the CHEESE! {Alex’s Cheese place} to be precise. We tried a few cheeses, and I purchased $60 worth for the coming weekend – two from Quebec, being a gooey washed rind (quite light, actually) and a delicious aged cheddar (rich, and they use port in some parts of the process). I also got a Roquefort and a local semi-soft goats cheese. I was tempted by a pre-wrapped wedge of marbled Guinness cheese, which looked pretty amazing, and all the Stilton reminded me to buy some when I got back to Melbourne. We had a few vegies and bread to get, and I saw fiddleheads for sale for the first time. Fiddleheads are the new furled fronds of a particular fern, which I believe are usually eaten steamed (that’s how I made them later, steamed with asparagus and tossed with a little bit of butter).


We were having a bit of a chocolate crash by this time, so we decided to have a snack and a drink in the BCE Centre. The BCE Centre is quite stunning, with high arches of light and air, white frames and glass. No wonder it’s won architecture awards. It houses this food court thing where you get a swipey card when you enter, and it gets swiped wherever you buy something, and you pay on the way out. So long as you don’t lose the card, everything is fine! Other things of interest there included a photography exhibition – I’m not sure what the theme was, but it included pictures of civil rights riots and protests, the (blimp that caught fire), world wars, etc. – and a shop called ROOTS. HAHAHAHAHA I’M AN IMMATURE AUSTRALIAN. I liked the woeful bloke sitting in front of it, too.

And then it was back to J’s place to get changed into sexy clothes for SexGeek’s party. I got to see J and A (not Toft) in their leather pants (A in uniform! Glee!), L in a delicious corset, and many hott folks in suits. I felt a little underdressed, but hey, black jeans and black shirt is acceptable in most situations, so it wasn’t too bad. And I got to meet SexGeek! W00T! I tried not to be too much of a fanboy! After a couple of hours, J, A, L, D and I piled into the car and L drove us up to J’s parents’ place in the country. And you know a bit about that already.

[OK, time to finish this delicious, delicious Melbourne coffee and tart little lemon tart. Heh, a tart tart.]

20 May 2008


I woke up to Alex the gorgeous cat poking his head around the curtain to check whether I was awake. I noticed during my stay that he is one of the most polite cats in the world in this way – if he doesn’t see you open your eyes he doesn’t jump up on the bed. If he sees you’re awake, though, he will come and stand on your chest and purr mightily at you, or jump up on the bed, walk all over you, then curl up and snooze beside you. Js was already awake, just, so we got up, did some internetting, had showers and planned our day – rather, J told me all the awesome things we could do and I was gleeful about doing them aaaallllll!

We started off by visiting Northbound Leather, where I was to become something of a regular over the next week – not buying anything (too expensive, mostly), but perusing with various friends. J showed me ‘the Matrix coat’, which looked amazing on her. I encourage everyone to send her money so she can buy it!

From there, we walked out the front of the shop and wandered for a while along Yonge St, visiting a great queer bookstore where I drooled over the trans section, and was very interested to hear the conversation the guy behind the counter was trying to start up about a news story in the local queer paper – a trans person who was told to pick a changeroom at the baths and stick to it. I want to talk more about this encounter in my trans blog, so I won’t say too much here, but it was a really interesting situation where on the surface I agreed with the sales assistant, who was saying that all the changerooms should have cubicles and be unisex . . . but there were other interesting things going on, too.

We went into the gorgeously retro Toronto Public Library and checked out the ‘Hanga to Manga’ exhibition, which was interesting, though a kind of strange size and compilation. It was bigger than I’d usually expect a public exhibition in a library to be, but I kind of felt as though it lacked some cohesion, and that the contemporary manga bit had just been tacked on to pull a crowd. The work, however, was gorgeous, and I had a great time learning about various bits of Japanese culture and literature. After this, we were clearly in need of sustenance, so we grabbed some deliciously creamy icecream from Greg’s Icecream (unfortunately, the chocolate fudge sauce wasn’t ready, and J was rather disappointed) and headed along Bloor St to . . . HONEST ED’S, a cheapo discount store of massive proportions, where I encountered the scariest cuckoo clock I’ve ever seen – the crazy moose head on top will give me nightmares, I know it!

One of our main destinations for the day, however, was High Park, which we got to fairly quickly on PT after J showed me some of the underground path system in Toronto. It seems that everyone does indeed live in sub-terrainian caverns, just like they say in the song. High Park was lovely. We took pictures of the cherry and apple blossoms that were out, we saw squirrels, J told me about some of the plants, we walked past the community gardens, discovered some of the most awesome play equipment ever (they asked kids to write or draw what their ideal playground would be like, then they designed it based on the responses. Awesome!), and I spotted my first red winged blackbird. We walked in the park for . . . well, it felt like an hour and a half, two hours . . . I’m not sure. We then caught a bus the wrong way and got kind of stuck between the lake (beautiful) and the freeway (not so beautiful) and ended up flagging down a taxi to take us to Queen West, where we jumped on a streetcar and made our way to the office and paper warehouse where J and A both work.

OMG, THE PAPER. It was gorgeous. I will say no more, but will post pics eventually, so you can drool, too. They gave me a cute little tea tin to take home with me!

By this stage we were quite hungry, and had we made it more quickly to the Rhino we would have been eating a 4 o’clock mystery meal. As it was, we ended up eating an early dinner at about 5. And what a dinner. We ordered a veg curry and the Portobello mushroom salad. The curry was OK, a bit bland, but the mushroom salad was HOLY SMOKES AWESOME. Roast/grilled Portobello mushrooms with raddicio and other salad leaves, a nicely acidic vinaigrette (probably the weakest link, as it tasted a little too much like dressing from a bottle, and I suspect it was), and topped with delicious goats cheese. Om nom nom. I also decided to try some Canadian beer, since I was in the country, and I got a Hockley Valley Stout. It was quite delicious (for beer!), light (for a stout) with a rich caramel malt flavour.

After that, we headed back to J’s apartment and got ready for watching Supernatural - the second last episode of Season 3 – with a bunch of other people. It was fun, people were awesome, cake was consumed with delight! It was a fabbo day!

18 May 2008


I'M HERE! My bag, however, is apparently still in L.A. Oh wells. They'll bring it to my house tomorrow, they say. I am here, though! So that is good.

Vancouver was beautiful, although after 5 days there I started to chafe at the bit – I wanted to get out beyond the downtown area and visit up close the landscapes reflected in the towering glass walls of the city. Downtown was clean, and often quiet, and new. Toronto is not as spectacular. The lake is lovely, and looking back at the city skyline from Toronto Island on a sunny spring day makes it equally beautiful as any other city, but the architecture in general is not as amazing, the setting can’t really compete with breathtaking as Vancouver. This is not to say Toronto doesn’t have some wonderful buildings – new and old and new new city halls are all of interest, I love the Crystal, and of course there’s the famous CN tower and the infamous Robart’s Library. It also has its fair share of sheer glass skyscrapers, and mingled in among them low rise neighbourhoods with houses up to a hundred years old, or even more. And this is what I love about Toronto – the lived-in-ness. Its student, hippie and new migrant neighbourhoods, Kensington, Chinatown, the queer neighbourhood along and around Church St, the University campus, cheap eateries, the new trendiness of Queen West (or is it Queer West?) feeding on the remnants of a half-century of poverty and desperation. It feels like a city I could live, almost too easily. Maybe it’s having friends show me around, maybe its living in their houses and going to their parties and gatherings, sharing their favourite restaurants, taking trips to interesting shops or parks on their days off, but I feel as though I stepped into a city that already had a space for me, a place where my life was lived before I physically got there and will continue to be lived after I leave.

I sometimes wonder when I travel these huge distances if there’s not something completely at odds with the human psyche about spending three weeks thousands and thousands of kilometres away from ‘home’. I can’t seem to comprehend that insurmountable distance, that I will wake up in a day or two days or even a week, and I will not be able to go back to the Bulldog café, where I drank my first real coffee in weeks, I won’t be able to email a friend on impulse to have lunch near the Kensington markets. I won’t be able to get that subway token I wanted to take back as a souvenir. I won’t become a regular at the leather shop. I won’t be able to wander through High Park on the weekend. I won’t get back to Toronto Island and hire a bike and take all the photographs I couldn’t snap the other day with my dead batteries. What is it? I can understand mentally but not emotionally and physically that the realities and rhythms of a week and a half of my life will be physically out of reach. I know that I’ll get home and I will map Toronto onto Melbourne like I mapped Melbourne onto Vancouver, I’ll slip up and try to continue conversations with people who’ve never heard the start of them, I’ll catch glimpses of Canadians in my Australian friends, I’ll be surprised that the tram isn’t red and white and looking like a lozenge/Toronto streetcar, I’ll crave TimBits from Tim Hortons.

I’ll update more soon, and put pictures up as well.

16 May 2008


that's where i'll be soon, eh.

i will be taking the time i get in airports and aeroplanes in the next while to write some entries for this blog. because i have so many things to talk about, and have had so little time to talk about them with you. goddamn having a life, hey?

i am really hoping i make the connection between my toronto - los angeles and los angeles - melbourne flights. i am going to get to toronto airport very early and try to arrange some kind of bag deal with american airlines, see if they can put it somwhere i can claim it immediately, or if they can make sure it's one of the first out so i can grab it and run.

but i've decided if the worst happens and my bag is not ready by the time i need to check in, i will leave it there - it has my address on it - and get them to send it to me later. i mean . . . it's less expensive and less emotionally and physically draining to do that than it would be to miss my flight, right?

i've had such a lovely time in toronto. *sigh* will update in the next few days with lots of words and pics. i promise!

13 May 2008


Saturday in the country. . . We went into Creemore via a rather unmaintained road (I thought the car was going to cark it there for a moment!) after a very leisurely morning of breakfast and lazing around. I saw some chipmunks today! CHIPMUNKS! They are so much cuter in real life than in cartoons. Also, red squirrels, which are SMALLER than black squirrels and also cuuuute! In Creemore we wandered along the main street and looked in pretty much every open shop – pottery, homewares, ceramic painting café, bookstore, gallery etc. We also did some shopping. It was strange being back in a country town, but it being halfway across the world. Creemore is home of the Creemore Brewery, but none of us particularly wanted to go on a tour. When we got back, we made soup and ate it with the delicious cheeses I bought yesterday from the market (which I will tell you about soon, I hope). The washed rind was lovely (not too pungent, a slightly fresh salty taste, and great gooey texture), the Roquefort was Roquefort, the port aged Munster was delicious and flaky/crumbly, and the semi-soft goats cheese was melt-in-the-mouth and mild. After lunch, J took L, A and I on a walk down around the ‘big pond’, where I had my first real brush with the Dreaded Canadian Blackfly. GODDAMN! It reminded me of Australia in the summer with the blowflies, only these ones keep milling around – at least blowies settle on your back. We also saw a beaver dam, and all the gnawed down little trees near it. How cool is that?! After the wander through the countryside we came home and realised it was quite late (given that lunch was at 4 – a four o’clock mystery meal!), a few of us napped and a few of us sat around talking about favourite (best and tackiest) books. L and I made dinner at about 8pm – gorgeous little roast potatoes with olive oil, rosemary (home-grown by J’s dad) and salt; warm sweet potato salad with sweet potatoes that turned out to be white (yams?), not orange. Nom nom nom. After dinner I got to try Canadian Ice Wine, which was delicious. It’s very sweet (almost as sweet as a botrytis wine), but a much simpler, more pure flavour. This one smelled and tasted of strawberries, raisins and caramel. We ate gelati and chocolate, and then it was after midnight.


On my first day in Toronto I was rather tired – adjusting the three hours between here and Vancouver took a little time. However, after a shower and Skyping with Dan, L and I took PT to Kensington Markets (I got little tokens for the subway! They have trams/streetcars! I am slowly getting into the idea of reading more about public transport systems – I think they’re fascinating). Kensington is a cool little neighbourhood (neighbourhoods = what Australians would call suburbs, although they seem to be smaller – Brunswick St/Smith St would probably be a neighbourhood), with lots of fresh food, over-stocked spice shops, several hippie shops, a cool little place where it looks like the local anarchokids hang out, several cafes, and fearless pedestrians. We ate at (I think) King’s Café, a vegetarian Chinese-style restaurant with lots of fake meat. I had dumplings. Man, I miss dumplings in Melbourne – let’s get some when I get home.

We then visited Good For Her, one of the excellent local sex shops in Toronto, and I began my international collection – I want to buy something from every country I visit! And I had to get something to match the awesome Canadian flag dildo cosy that L made for me! Hilarious! We walked through a nice old neighbourhood called (I think) the Annexe, with big, snow-roofed houses, established trees and tulips bobbing in the front gardens. One thing I notice in Canada is the lack of front fences. Possibly Canadians are less stickybeakish than Australians, as I kept wandering into people’s yards to photograph their flowers (especially in Forest Hill, basically the Toorak of Toronto, with its enormous, tacky mansions).

After that it was time to consume more delicious things, so L took me to the Tea Emporium, where I squeed over the beautiful homewares and accessories, and sat down for a cup of delicious ‘Sweet Embrace’ Rooibos. Om nom nom. I also met my faggy tea-brother in Toronto – I was so happy.

It’s so strange to see how space and time are organised so differently in places where it snows – different styles of house, garden, road, parks, transport . . . anyway, I was tired, so I had a nap on L’s couch (actually more on L herself) before heading to J’s place to move in and meet the gang. I got to meet J’s gorgeous big black cat Alex – he’s quiet and stately (except with untied shoelaces) and does this cute thing with his front paw, holding it in the air like a showpony. So I got to meet A, yay! And A, J and I chatted and watched Resident Evil: The Apocalypse with the sound off so I could be introduced to Toronto as it looked overrun with zombies. Fun times!

12 May 2008


I am writing this from near Creemore, Ontario, as I sit at J’s parent’s kitchen bench looking out over the front lawn, trees with sparse pale green and bronze growth, a black squirrel noodling across the grass, and four small red (house) finches bobbing and flitting around the feed post. Oh! And there’s a bluejay and a YELLOW finch, too! So bright! Amazing! Can you tell that someone got a birdwatching book down from the shelf for me? I don’t think I mentioned, also, that I saw a HUMMINGBIRD in L.A., which was pretty exciting! Anyway, J, L, A, D and I drove up last night after cutting short our stay at SexGeek’s party, and we arrived a bit after 1am. Waking up to the beautiful views and the warm honey glow of the lovely house was pretty special. There are books EVERYWHERE.


But let me go back to Vancouver. On my second non-conference day, I took it fairly easy, starting with a late-ish breakfast at the recommended Templeton diner (near Granville and Helmcken). I ate the Farmer’s Breakfast – two perfectly (for me) poached eggs on an amazing mix of their rosemary potatoes, slices of fresh zucchini and green capsicum, and grated cheddar, seemingly fried together and served with a small bowl of oh so delicious tomato and red onion salsa and yoghurt. Wow. If you are ever in Vancouver, this is a meal I recommend. In fact, this is a must-visit place, IMO.

From there I walked over one of the bridges to the Granville Island Public Market. I actually stopped someone to ask if I could cross the bridges, and she was so friendly and recommended I take the little aquabus at least one way. I didn’t know where it left, though, so I decided to take it on the way back. Walking across the bridge was quite an experience – I didn’t quite know where I was going to get off it (the overpasses confuse me!), it was very high, and there was no barrier between me and the traffic. However, looking back and seeing the Downtown area framed by mountains, and looking down on the boats and construction sites made the walk worth the slight anxiety. When I finally got off the bridge I saw this little play equipment park with a play excavator/digger thing, and I had my first real wave of homesickness of the entire journey – compounded by my instinctual recognition of a bird as a currawong, and realising I wasn’t at home when it turned out to be a crow standing behind a dandelion clock.

The market is amazing. It’s quite trendy and bourgie, new and undercover, but it’s nonetheless very fun. I almost wished I hadn’t eaten! I was tempted by the pyramids of strawberries, cherries, and other fruit I didn’t know (looked like those yellow Chinese lantern berries, if anyone knows them), trays of red and orange and yellow tomatoes piled above red, orange, yellow and green capsicums. I drooled over the array of colourful cakes, towers of meringue, and foot-high banana pies, and eventually chose to sample pumpkin tart – something I’m not likely to find much of in Australia. I bought maple syrup from a guy (an old queen, if my gaydar is working), who gave me a snap lesson in Canadian geography, which I really appreciated. After that I found the Granville Island Tea shop, which my coworker C had recommended. I sat down and enjoyed a cup of Monk’s Blend black tea, then chatted for a few minutes and bought a few teas I thought might be able to make it past customs – two rooibos teas and a black tea, and they gave me a sample of mocha rooibos, which I can’t wait to try, too! I eventually dragged myself away from the cheeses (tiny goats cheeses with flowers pressed on top! Delicious looking blue cheeses! Huge wedges of smoked cheddar and rounds of Emmenthal!) and headed down to the aquabus (they look like toy boats, seriously), which ferried me quickly back to the other side.

I dropped a few things at the hotel, then wandered down to W Hastings, having the strange feeling that maybe if I just nipped into the Harbour Centre I’d find the conference still going on. I visited Spartacus Books – the (to my Melbourne eyes) huge radical bookstore, and wished I could buy half the stuff there. I settled on a few smaller items, then consulted my map and made my way to Chinatown to visit the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park and Classical Chinese Gardens – the only one outside of China, I think. As anticipated, they were beautiful and calming, and I took my time watching the orange and gold fish slide around in the reflective ponds, spotting a few turtles along the way. I sat in one of the rooms drinking complimentary oolong tea and reading my book for well over half an hour.

I got back to my hotel at about 5:30, and I was going to be meeting one of my internet people at 6, but they unfortunately had a crap day, so couldn’t meet up. That meant I could have a wee lie down before heading back to the Templeton for dinner. I had quite a nice burger with Portobello mushroom, and ended up staying to watch Eagle Vs Shark (which seemed to go down quite well with the Canadian audience). It was a relaxing evening, and I headed back to the hotel with a smile on my face.


On Tuesday I packed everything up and left a tip for housekeeping (it’s so strange to remember to do this all the time, and sometimes I forget, and sometimes I think I haven’t tipped enough, and argh! The guilt!), and checked out, getting the people downstairs to hold my bag while I gallivanted. And by ‘gallivant’ I mean ‘go back to the Templeton for my third meal in two days’. I lingered over the ‘mangled eggs’ with brie on a croissant with the rosemary potatoes. Not as good as the farmer’s breakfast, though. I also chatted to a fellow diner, who was an English teacher at one of the community centres, and who got her degree in Brisbane. We talked about politics and queer stuff and it was just so awesome. Canadians have totally lived up to their reputation of being friendly, helpful and lovely. I wonder if this – and other treatment I’ve received in various places – has much to do with travelling alone and ‘passing’ as a younger person than I am? I probably talk to more random people when I travel alone, because I’m in a situation conducive to this kind of interaction more frequently.

I then headed back to the hotel via one of the chain coffee stores, where I had a cup of oolong tea – I’ve really been craving it! The cups here are huge – I feel ill having a ‘small’ cup of coffee sometimes, because it’s a medium size back in Melbourne, and I never drink that much. I’ve also noticed that places are much more likely to not have ‘eat in’ crockery, etc: people just eat at the tables using the takeaway packaging. Wasteful. Hm. Anyway, I was paranoid about security etc after my horrid experience at LAX, so I took the Airporter bus (about $14, but worth the extra for the lack of stress involved) and arrived with two hours before takeoff. And I walked through security in 2 minutes, with barely a second glance from anyone. Oh, Vancouver, I love you.

The plane flight was actually quite enjoyable, with amazing views of the mountains, forests and then I guess prairies – vast plains cultivated in stripes, all running north-south, in various shades of yellowbrown. I was sitting next to a woman, Sheila, who was a software developer, who is in the process of selling and installing her software in hospitals across North America and (this week) in Britain. We chatted quite a bit in the second half of the flight (the screens weren’t working) about travel and cultural differences, and she demanded to know what made the Sydney Opera House so special that it is one of the world landmarks along with the pyramids and the Great Wall of China. I couldn’t really do much but give her the smallest bit of architectural history of the place and say that even as a Melbournian I thought it was a pretty cool building. She also wondered what Toronto had, and I said Robarts Library. Heh. Next to her was another woman, Gail Vanstone, who was writing a review for a book on . . . feminist cinema. Cinematic Howling: Women’s Films, Women’s Film Theorists by Hoi F. Cheu Pretty odd, the connections you make, hey?

And then L picked me up at airport. With apples! Nom nom nom. It’s been absolutely awesome meeting so many LJ friends in the flesh for the first time! I’ve been having a lot of fun. I miss home, but at the same time I don’t want to only have 5 days or whatever left!

7 May 2008


The seagulls are huge. The first time one landed beside me I thought perhaps it was a dodo.

I walk to Canada Place, where my self-guided tour of public art begins. In a repeat of obstacles I will meet during my stay, a number of the roads are closed as construction continues for the winter Olympics to be held here in 2010. Around the water, new and boring apartment towers are growing like feral grass, like they grow around the Docklands in Melbourne. It looks the same the world over. Or does it? If I turn my back on them and look out across the water, my eye snags on a floatplane picking up speed and rising up above the orange buoys, the harbour walks, the masts of the yachts, above the evergreens of the park, leading my gaze to the mountains behind the city, dark blue and white, now behind a cloud, now gleaming as snow slips off the slopes.

Throughout my stay, my first impressions of the airport become second, third, fifteenth impressions of the city: water. Fountains, waterwalls, features, waterfalls, bays, a gentle rain that arrives without comment or excitement and leaves with the slightest breeze. Every time I walk past another pool in another courtyard I almost cry.

fountains /
water / dry
trickles / dry
/ concrete / tulips
/ bleached / bloom
/ yellow / cloud on mountains
/ dry
i am not homesick / until i think
i am /
/ so thirsty
and i like it here /

I wander around the marina, stop in this park to drink in the magnolias and apple blossoms, in the next to watch a Canada goose grazing in a lawn speckled with tiny daisies, and then again on the pier to examine the barnacles and mussels on the wood. There is a scratched up sign telling all arrivals to Canada to report to customs and immigration immediately. There are rows of tulips and pansies in every garden.

At Lost Lagoon I sit for a while on a park bench, watching the geese grooming themselves, twisting their necks and flipping upside down in the water, legs kicking and wings beating as they perform what may be a practical but is certainly a less-than-elegant toilette. I choose the paths closest to the water, the unsealed paths, the tracks that are quieter, without toddlers throwing bread at ducks and children learning to control their scooters. At one point I pause to watch a photographer sitting a short way off the path, offering almonds to little grey squirrels as payment for their pictures. Later I see a tourist couple trying the same trick with a black squirrel, but this one grabs the nut and scampers off around a tree trunk. Mute swans glide carefully amongst the branches at the edge of the lagoon, and small ducks – black and white ones, tiny speckled ones – paddle timidly in the quieter areas, while the wood ducks (as the information sheet said they would) hang around like pigeons waiting for food.

I take some random paths, confident I’m heading in the right direction, and soon find myself at Second Beach, where I buy myself some fries and a cup of tea, and am once again overwhelmed by the array of condiments available. I choose green pickle and ketchup and sit myself down on a wall near the beach. It’s colder now, so I’m wearing my scarf and beanie. I have noticed a distinct lack of beanie action in Vancouver (and LA, but it was hot there), and I wonder if the looks I get when wearing it indicate that it’s obvious I’m not a native. Wandering along the beach paths, I see a few people selling pictures, playing guitars, etc. I also eventually find the highrise apartment with the tree planted on top – apparently that’s the height to which the trees used to grow in this area. It’s astonishing to think, and I wish I could have seen them. As my feet begin to hurt, I stop more frequently on the way towards the bridges, watching a game of roller-hockey and admiring the strange untitled black ball sculpture in a random suburban feeling plaza.

Eventually I make it back to the hotel, and check the time (I don’t have a watch or phone with me). It’s after 5:30, and I’ve been walking and looking for just over six hours. I collapse after having a shower and rubbing my feet (I wish Dan was here to do it for me!), and write a few postcards, buy some internet time, listen to some music. Later in the evening I go out (it gets dark quite late) and realise this area of town is clearly the seedy area at night. Mind you, seedy in Vancouver is hardly too obnoxious, so I feel quite OK about wandering around a few blocks and finding another Crepe Café. I hope to replicate the delicious one I had in LA with Grace, but it is not quite so delicious. Maybe it’s true what they say about good company being important to the flavour.

I fall asleep in my own (borrowed) space for the first time since I left home, and sleep without interruption until the morning.


Guys, I'm sorry about the weird updates! I'm going to update about the conference now, but I'm going to start with the third day, and update on the second day later. And then I have to tell you about beautiful Vancouver, which I am sad to say I'm leaving this afternoon. Oh well, Toronto has awesome people in it, and it'll be fab to see them! So.

On Saturday:

We were all tired and sleeping in after a late night (to be discussed in a forthcoming post, I’m sure!), and none of us got to the conference on time. I missed most of Afsaneh Najmabadi’s presentation on trans and sexuality issues in Iran. I had considered leaving my laptop at the condo for the morning and getting it at lunchtime before my session. Luckily I decided against this, because when I re-checked the program it appeared that my session was actually first up! This was kind of good, as I was able to caffeinate myself into alertness and take my drugs (decongestant) and do my thing straight away, leaving myself free to meander through the rest of the day without having to think too much.

My paper went pretty well, though by this stage I’d realised that in the scheme of things I wasn’t really presenting anything super-interesting. Attendance was pretty small again, but Jules came along (I tried not to hyperventilate), as did Az and a few others. It was a strange panel – Lesley (Lester) Graydon presented a rambly paper called “Reconceptualizing identity and desire in genderqueer/trans BDSM practice”, which was about (as far as I could tell) the lack of ‘genderqueer enough’ pornography and erotica, mainly in a lesbian context. Some of the stuff was interesting and worthwhile, and related quite a lot to fandom and various slash practices, but I found the framework really problematic – that is, talking only about genderqueer and ‘transgender women’ (by which I’m pretty sure Lesley meant transgender men or trans butches) but not trans women (i.e. transsexual women and transgender women). After that was Rita Alfonso, who discussed the formal elements of Bill Basquin’s Range. She had some very worthwhile things to say about the film/s, but made the rather problematic claim that “the film could only have been made by a trans man”. As some of us discussed later, many of the things indicated in the talk as being distinctly ‘trans’ were in fact techniques familiar to a lot of experimental cinema. I think this is one of the things I was hoping to avoid in my paper (this is a trans film! True! And you can have gay films also!) and came from the fact that her background is not in film or cinema studies but in philosophy. But I really would like to see more of Basquin’s work.

Lunch. I was a bit sick of the same old, same old food by this stage, and the lack on tea – for fuckssake, guys, not everyone wants to drink coffee all the time!

In the afternoon, Jules Rosskam was presenting “transgenre: re-presenting trans-masculinity and community”. He showed part of his forthcoming work transgenre and discussed the ideas behind the stylistic, genre, and other formal elements of the film. I really enjoyed his succinct outline of the dominant models of transmasculine self-representation – how they often deploy the ‘true transsexual’ narrative, and show predominantly white, middle-class and medically transitioning men – and questioning of how much the required narratives become something we re-create in self-representations. The idea with this film was to create something that didn’t fall into the beginning-middle-end ‘journey’ of so many trans documentaries. I was very keen on the mixing of genres and the playing with what ‘fiction’ and ‘documentary’ styles are in the film: one genre cannot possibly tell the whole of a story was I think what Jules said. I don’t think a mix of genres can, either, but I think that the use of rehearsal footage and a kind of transparency of process at least works to highlight that the viewer is not getting the whole story, and the fucking with genre forces the viewer to question which bits of the story they are getting. I can’t wait to see the whole thing, and I’m really keen to re-watch transparent, too.

After his talk I skipped sessions because I really wanted to see David Hennessee talking about Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and I got to see most of Lane Mandilis’ paper “The Residual: A Lacanian Analysis of Mutability”. You probably all know how much I hate ‘straight’ psychoanalysis, but I really do enjoy listening to people tackle it in interesting ways. Unfortunately, I was still kind of buzzing from Jules’ presentation, so I couldn’t really get into the discussion afterwards. Even more unfortunately, David Hennessee was not there! So I skipped back out of the session after Lane finished to go to hear the questions in Jules’ session. I got to see most of Malic Amalya’s presentation of a short experimental film (self-made) called Eddie, Pam, Gary, Sue. I felt like the film was gesturing in an interesting manner, but the presentation was more like an explanation that you’d present to your class.

The afternoon panel was “Sex/Change/City: A Translocal Queer Gender History Project”, and I sat in there for about 5 minutes before realising I couldn’t actually concentrate any more. I went back to the apartment and had a nice long bath instead. Oh, bath of joy. My back was really sore from carrying my backpack around with so much shit in it for days on end. I made it back in time to hear most of the last plenary discussion with Susan Stryker, Nikki Sullivan, Joseph Pugliese and Samantha Murray. One thing I noticed during the conference was that it was taking me a little while to get into the papers. At first I though it was either because I was a bit stupider than I’d thought, or maybe because I was in ‘holiday’ headspace rather than ‘academic’ headspace. But later I realised that it was more to do with accents. I wonder if other people found that with discussions like this – or even the one about borders the day before with Vek Lewis and Joseph – with lots of Australians? It’s kind of like looking at a scene, but through a piece of cellophane.

Anyway, after it was all over, Eliza and I headed back to the apartment and met Aren and Emmett Ramstad (who is gorgeous and lovely and one of those people I want to pack in my bag and tae home with me), and went shopping for dinner. We made sure not to over-shop. Ha! We ended up with quite a bit left over, and we didn’t end up eating the icecream, either. I tried to keep it cool in my fridge-less hotel room, but it melted pretty promptly. I ended up using it as milk and sweetener in my coffee the next night – pretty yum, actually. Oh, but Az made the most delicious pasta sauce, with red onion and garlic and broccoli and snow peas and cream and capers (and salmon for the non-vegetarians) . . . NOM nom nom.

We headed off and grabbed a taxi to take us to the Gender Bender Blender Cabaret Night. The taxi dropped us in front of what looked pretty much like a scout hall in the middle of a residential street, and thus proceeded the most amusing and best conference after-party I’ve ever attended: awesome performances from many conference-goers (aerial silk artist, awesome drag acts, rather hilarious clowns, a good mix of spoken word) and then music into the night. Well until 12 or 1 or something, anyway. It was almost exactly like a school social, daggy and fun, but with none of the horrible people from high school – only ones that were interesting and fun. Danced and danced with many people, got to be the filling in a couple of dirty dancing sandwiches (oh my!), chatted, got very hot and sweaty, and then took a taxi home with Lucas, Melisa and Mary (?). I think I have convinced Lucas and Melisa at least to come to Sydney next year, where I will pay for their taxi! Arrived home at the same time as Az and Emmett, chatted for a bit, and then fell asleep.

Wow, this update is so “and then and then and then” but I just want to tell you all the AWESOME STUFF!!!

6 May 2008

5 May 2008


I never ended up telling you about that Monday, did I? I suppose I ought to, given that it was almost a week ago, now. Rohan stayed at Trav’s place on Sunday night, and so I had his tiny apartment to myself. Ate me a bagel, had a shower, got dressed and strolled up to Santa Monica along the beach, pausing to take some photos and get propositioned by an orange man with grey hair near Muscle Beach. It’s hard to get good photos of LA because the air quality is so poor, but I did my best. Had a coffee and then walked to Santa Monica Public Library, where I checked emails and posted blogs and that stuff.

Then I met GRACE! YAY! We walked along the pier, bought some fabulously tacky postcards (which didn’t get sent til Canada, oh well), and wished that the rollercoaster was running. At least, I did – not too sure that Grace would have been immature enough to ride it! It was awesome to meet another online friend (after I’d seen A the night before), and this time chat about fandom things. We wandered around for a bit and eventually found somewhere to eat – a Crepe Café, yum yum yum. Unfortunately it was really very hot, and Los Angeles (at least in Santa Monica) really doesn’t have a lot of shade, so it’s not conducive to exploring. After a few hours, G and I parted ways back at the library.

I had some more minutes left on my internet card, so I went back in and caught up with the rest of my internet business. I also wandered around the library for a while – it’s a lovely building, light and airy, and I highly recommend a visit if you’re into libraries or need to use the internet for free when you’re in LA. I’d arranged to meet Rohan for dinner at 6, so I had a few hours to kill, and I sat and read my book (Melvyn Bragg FTW). Soon I realised that I actually needed a nap, so I tried to find a corner to have a snooze – not as easy as it might seem, because the library is very open and has lots of glass. I didn’t really fancy falling through a window while I was asleep.

When the time came, I moved on to Cha Cha Chicken and met Rohan (who’d had an annoying day at work) and we ate Caribbean food. OH MY GOD. Plantains. I don’t really know how to describe them – like bananas, I guess, and fried and served with meals. I had vegetarian enchiladas and dirty rice (NOM) and plantains, and it was awesome. This is a place to go for comfort food (if your idea of comfort food is spicy and filling). It’s mostly outdoor seating (undercover, though), so try to go there on a nice day.

Full up and happy, we wandered back down as the sun set over Malibu. Well, I’m going to say it set there, but since I’m not so good with the geography of LA, you can take it with a pinch of salt. We ducked into a bookshop on Venice Beach, and then headed home. It was relatively early, still, so Rohan introduced me to the wonders of Marilyn Monroe in Bus Stop, possibly one of the worst films I’ve seen EVER!!! IT WAS AWESOME! Too camp for words, and utterly awful in many ways, it was highly entertaining. It finished just as Travis arrived, and he then proceeded to entertain us with more card tricks, and we played Cheat (or Bullshit, as it’s known in the US of A). Fun times!

And that was Monday. Now I’ll have to write some posts to tell you about Vancouver, one of the most despicably lovely-looking cities in the world. Oh my word, I like this place a lot.

2 May 2008


From the floor to ceiling windows in the Harbour Centre lunch room, you can look out across the water and see North Vancouver gathered around the bottom of the mountains. These mountains rise up, dark green, until the snow meets the clouds – or if it’s clear, into the pale blue sky. This evening, after a day full of amazing papers, meeting old friends and acquaintances of the academic and internet variety, we ate our way through the catering while watching the sunset begin to turn the peaks the palest rose and apricot colours.

Today started earlier than I would have liked (it seems that new beds will always keep me awake, no matter how comfortable), but I was quite refreshed as Az, Eliza and I wandered down to the conference centre, admiring the clean streets, bourgie shops, and jumble of new and interesting architecture. The conference began with an introduction from Susan Stryker, who let us know that the keynote speaker scheduled fro the afternoon, Mauro Cabral, had been denied entry into Canada. It really hits home how fragile is the line trans people walk with regards to border crossing, and you know, it could have been me. That was a disappointment, but instead of that keynote in the afternoon, we were treated to a screening of She’s a Boy I Knew, presented by Gwen Haworth herself. Yay! But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first keynote was by Nikki Sullivan and, after a slow start, she got into some interesting discussions about trans embodiment and other forms of body modification, critiquing the three approaches she outlines: isolationist, analogical and categorical.

In the first set of sessions, I saw Loree Erickson’s paper and video presentation “Desirable entanglements: moments of connection and contradiction in trans/crip experiences/identities/embodiments”, on being queer and being sexual as a disabled person/crip. It was an interesting paper and a great video presentation. Eliza Steinbock’s paper “Groping Theory: Trans-curiosity and Obscenity” was next, and she discussed the film Dandy Dust, which I now definitely want to watch! Unfortunately I had to skip out before the end, but hopefully I can get a copy of the paper from her when she gets in tonight! I had to skip out because I wanted to catch Dean Spade’s “The Non-Profit Industrial Complex and Trans Resistance”, which was, of course, awesome. I just wish everyone on the gender centre working group could have been there. I also caught the end of Chris Hanssmann’s “Talking, gawking, or getting it done: Provider trainings to increase cultural and clinical competence for trns-gender and gender non-conforming patients and clients”. What a mouthful. The tail end sounded really solid, anyway. That’s the problem with these things – you have to choose, and I think every session would be worthwhile.

After lunch I attended the Expanding Trans Embodiment session, and first up was the paper that was the highlight of my day: “Slender Trouble: Trans Fat, Fat Transgender, and Whatever Suits You”, by Lucas Crawford. Lucas introduced his paper saying that he’d planned to take a Big Mac on stage and chomp through it as he presented, but he had to make do with a can of cola instead. The paper was awesome, discussing the way Silence of the Lambs sets up fatness and transness in opposition, and also saying something that I really liked – that trans/gender is not a matter of skin and surfaces, but of fat and bulk. I stayed in that session against my first instinct, and way Cressida Heyes’ “Sex Reassignment and Cosmetic Surgeries: The Politics of Analogy”, which retraced some of Sullivan’s keynote content from a different angle – discussing more the problems of using suffering as a key to legitimising trans surgeries. I skipped out for a breather and came back in halfway through Meredith Jones’ paper “Expanding Trans Bodies”, which seemed to . . . not talk much about transness, but about the connections (sometimes literal) between skin and screen in reality cosmetic surgery TV shows, in Videodrome and Ring. Interesting, but I was tiiiired. I really wish I’d been able to attend papers by Elijah Edelman, William Leap and Audrey Cooper in the Trans Visual Anthropology session.

After another short break, we had the film, then another even shorter break, then the plenary panel “First Nations/Two Spirit”. I learnt a bit more about the history of North America in this session, but was buggered by then, and it ran almost forth minutes longer than scheduled. After that there was drinks and food in the lunch room, and I schmoozed and watched the sunset colours begin to light up the mountain.

1 May 2008


There are many ways in which you can be made to feel tiny, powerless, frustrated, anxious, guilty, and utterly alone and homesick.

My flight was due to leave at 9:45am from LA and arrive in Vancouver at about 12:40. My aim was to check in at 7:45am, so the night before I packed everything neatly into my bags, and made sure everything was in order – passport, e-ticket, address in Vancouver, departure form for the USA, toiletries in a clear plastic bag, sharp stuff in check-in luggage, etc. We went to bed early, but I woke up in the middle of the night and stayed awake for at least an hour. I woke up again just before 6am and turned off the alarm (set for 6:30) before it had a chance to go off. Showered, dressed, ate a bagel. Said goodbye to the hospitable Rohan at about 6:50, and schlepped my bags over to the corner of Rose and Lincoln to catch the bus. The walk took me longer than expected – probably about 25 minutes. I caught the bus at 7:20-ish, and all ran smoothly. Talked a bit to a guy who lives in LA but grew up in Montreal, and was nice in that friendly American way. Hopped off at the LAX shuttle bus, and had the following amusing exchange:

“Hi. Excuse me, does this shuttle go to Terminal 7?”
“Oh no, it goes to New Jersey.”
“. . .”
“It goes first to New Jersey, and then to Terminal 7.”
“. . . Ha! Stop shitting me!”
“Oh, I ain’t shitting you. . . Naw, it goes to all the terminals.”

Got off at Terminal 7 at about 8:10am, to find that it only services United Airlines. My ticket was for Air Canada. Asked one of the few customer service people, and he confirmed that it was Air Canada operated by United, and I could do self check-in with an Australian passport. Got to self check-in, and tried to do so. Couldn’t. Talked to another person on the phone next to the check-in bit, and eventually got a confirmation number from her (it was so loud in the airport I could barely hear myself think, let alone understand someone talking 60 miles an hour on the phone), did all the check-in business, and a guy came over to put my bags through. At which point he looked at my Australian passport with its visa waiver thingy and told me I had to wait for someone higher up on the chain. Waited. Waited. Felt a headache coming on. About 15 minutes later someone came, took a look at my passport, pressed something like 4 keys on the computer and sent me on my way.

At about 8:40, already frustrated at the stupid “Easy check-in” system of ineptitude, I made my way to security. First up someone examined my passport with all manner of little torches – presumably to detect forgery – and asked me how old I was. When I said 26 (which, you know, I am, as it says on my passport) she exclaimed how young I looked “with yo’ baby face!” She was nice, though (and rather amusingly said, “Atta boy”, when I handed her my passport), so I was happy again. Until I got to the scanning section, where I had to take off pretty much all my clothes (OK, shoes, socks, belt, keys, coins, jacket or jumper) and put things in separate trays. So caught up was I with making sure I was OK to get through, I forgot to take my laptop out of my bag. It got put through again after took the laptop out, asked about the camera, put it back on the conveyor belt. Walked through the metal detector and was asked to once again produce my passport and boarding information. Oh, the dreaded words. “I’ll just ask you to step aside here, sir. You’ve been selected by the airline for further security screening.” I waited in the little pen, surrounded by ropes, until yet another security officer took my bag and shoes and other trays of bits and pieces, and asked for my passport and boarding info. Off to the side I went, where I got the pat down from the guy (I wonder if they do like Australian airports tend to do and use female security to pat down women passengers? I did notice that through my entire time at the airport I got ‘Sir’ three or four times, ‘boy’ and ‘Ma’am’ only once). He then proceeded to swab my computer, shoes, and every pocket of my bag, and threw out the bottle of water I had completely forgotten about. The swabs went into a little machine thing, which told me that no traces of explosives were found on any of my things. I was quite happy about that. Once the last one was done, he handed me my belt, said, “Pack your stuff up”, and wandered away, so I was left in the middle of the security section of LAX with my stuff all over the table putting on my shoes and feeling more alone than I have for ages. If I could have wished for one thing right then it would have been for a friend (preferably Dan) to be waiting for me to give me a hug at the other side.

No such luck. Instead I found myself walking several miles to my departure gate and wondering how the hell I was going to be able to get through all this shit when I flew in from Toronto with only an hour and a half between that flight and the flight out to Auckland/Melbourne. After the disgusting coffee the day before I went for a café latte at Starbucks, which was acceptable after I added 2 sugars and a good few shakes of chocolate and cinnamon. I sat down to relax in the departure lounge for the last 10 minuted before boarding, but immediately got paged to come to the desk. Once there I was required once again to produce my passport and boarding info, was asked if I was coming back through the USA within thirty days, got my visa waiver info reattached to my passport, and then removed, watched the three customer service people try to assign me a seat on two different computers, and started stressing again that I was not ever going to be able to leave the hellhole that is LAX.

Seriously, it’s enough to make me paranoid about travelling as a transperson.

But I did. I made it. I’m now on the (overheated) plane to Vancouver with a huge group of middle-aged American couples who are all heading to the same thing in Canada (no idea what). The current temperature in Vancouver is allegedly 8 degrees. Given that I’ve spent the last 4 days sun(burn)ning myself in temperatures between about 25 and 32 degrees, I am not looking forward to the cold. Out the dirty window I can just see the west coast of the USA scribbling its way into the ocean, pressing against lines of hills, looking sleepy and yellow-dry under the haze.

Me on the plane today

I’m looking forward to seeing friends, and I am really excited about the conference, but at the moment I am tired and feel like crying and I want nothing more than to crawl into my own bed with my own Dan and sleep for a year.

ETA: HOLY FUCK! A MOUNTAIN! Um, sorry. It’s just huge and has snow all over it. I wonder what mountain it is. Wow.

ETA2: Oh, and they also cut the lock off my checked through luggage and went through it to check out if that was explosive, too.

ETA3: VANCOUVER. IS. GORGEOUS. And not cold, but refreshingly cool. Holy moly. It’s beautiful. Stunning. Mountains with snow when you look down the street. Clichés of awesome. And our condo is, one might say, premium. Very civilised. Az scored on this one!

ETA4: I’ll try to get my photos up soon. Some are already on flickr.

Planewing at sunrise over the Pacific


Tuesday was an awesome day! Here it is in point form with a bit of elaboration.

Took the bus in with Rohan and checked out where he works, wandered around the campus a bit, etc. That area of town is a lot nicer to my eyes, mainly because there are trees. YES, trees. Also, so much UCLA clothing – it’s weird. Why would you wear such dorky, ugly, boring clothes?

• Squirrels
I saw some squirrels! And took bad pictures of them! They are cute, but I think English squirrels are cuter. As I was standing on the edge of the footpath taking a picture of them, this enormously tall jock boy wearing white shorts and a white singlet (oh yeah, he was . . . special) skate boarded past and yelled “Dayum toorists!” Later, when we were checking Rohan’s Mac at the campus computer store, we saw him again, and Rohan said “Dayum toorists” back at him. He was a dickhead.

• Coffee
After I left Rohan at work, I went to find me a coffee. I didn’t want to go to Starbucks, so I had the choice of Peets or the Coffee Bean, two other chains. I chose Coffee Bean, where I was treated to one of the worst cappuccinos I have ever consumed. It tasted like coffee grounds and was weak despite me getting a double shot. Also the froth was . . . kind of solid. It wasn’t pleasant, but I sat in the shade outside and planned some things to do. I didn’t really follow the plan, but that’s OK.

• Decongestant
I bought some Demazin on my doctor’s orders before I left, and it’s been good to me so far – I haven’t got an ear infection after flying, and it’s helped with (though not stopped) my ridiculously runny nose and LA inspired sneezes. I went to a pharmacy and found something similar among the aisles of pills and suchlike. I took the card up to the desk (where they keep the actual tablets for this medication), and the sales assistant there reminded me of Woody Allen – not so much in looks, but in kind of apologetically fussy, neurotic behaviour. Lucky he was so adorkable, or I would have found the hassle that followed a lot worse. First he asked for my licence. I said I was Australian, is that OK? He said yes, I gave him the licence. Something was not working on his computer, and he asked for other photo ID. I gave him my passport, but not until I asked why he needed it. Apparently, like Grace told me, “In California, this medication is controlled by the state.” I asked why, and it’s because people can make druuuuugs out of it. In went all my passport details, and he asked for a zip code. A what? A zip code. Oh! I told him my postcode at home, and he tried to enter it with no success. Even if you live in Australia your postcode has to be at least 5 digits long. He got his boss. His boss wanted ID with my home address on it. I handed back my licence. They tried again. Wouldn’t work. They suggested I get a different medication. I laughed at them, nicely. Eventually they gave up and wrote the pharmacy address as my address, and I was on my way with TEN WHOLE TABLETS containing pseudoephedrine – I am going to make a fortune.

• Cemetery
I went to look at the war cemetery with all the little white crosses, and walked half way around it, but there’s only one entrance, so in the end I just stuck my camera through the fence and took pics of the ground plaques instead. Then I headed back to look at an exhibition Rohan had mentioned at the Hammer.

• Hammer Museum
The exhibition in question was called “My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love” by Kara Walker, and WOW. IT. WAS. AMAZING. It was one of the best exhibitions I have been to for a long time – extensive, well thought out, lots of information on the walls and in the free pamphlet, and fantastic artwork. It was so good I bought the catalogue – even though it was $50, I thought hard about it and knew that I would regret *not* buying it. And since I’d offloaded the Milo I had some space and weight spare in my bag. I spent about three hours just in that exhibition, and if you ever have the chance to see it or any of her work, YOU MUST! I came out feeling nourished and thinky and political and engaged and just, wow. In fact, the cloakroom guy noticed I’d been in there for ages, and then proceeded to tell me about his life – how he’d lived in New York but had moved here twenty years ago, how the pace of life was more relaxed and he liked walking on the beach. He also recommended I go to the Getty Center [note American spelling!], and gave me very detailed instructions, pointing out the bus stop and offering to write down the number for me. I was a bit iffy, as I’d planned to go to see the Tar Pits, but I thought, “I’ll just go and see what time the bus leaves and if I can be bothered”, and when I got to the bus stop the bus was just pulling in. So on I hopped, and gawked at the big houses on the trip there (it was much greener than most of the other places I went in LA).

• Getty Center
The Getty Center itself is AMAZING. It sits at the top of a hill, an imposing piece of architecture that reflects the sun’s glare from every stone. You take the free tram up the hill, getting a sneak preview of the views of LA afforded from the top, as well as being able to see both ways along the San Diego Freeway, with its eight lanes of traffic speeding along. The centre is bright (too bright on a sunny day without sunnies) and big and bold and enjoyable to walk around. If you go, take the free 1 hour architecture tour (I didn’t really have time) – I bet it’d be worthwhile. With such a view (on a clear day I imagine it would be truly amazing), and such awesomely huge architecture, I am not at all surprised that I found the collection itself a bit underwhelming. There’s a room of drawings, a few of artefacts, quite a lot of paintings (in comparison to the rest) and a couple of rooms of photography. I missed the video section, and I’m spitting chips because there was a Harry Dodge/Stanya Kahn thing there. I guess it’s to be expected that such a new gallery wouldn’t have a very impressive collection, but the information beside every artwork was so keen to point out how important it was and how it enhanced the collection that I couldn’t help but notice how little there actually was on display. The one section I really wanted to go to – the manuscripts – was closed, and the Medieval and Renaissance tour was going to focus only on the Renaissance (which, frankly, I know quite enough about already), so I handed back my earpiece and went and ate an overpriced sandwich, looking out over the city. I really missed Dan – or even having a friend around – then. It would be such a nice place to sit on the lawn and have a bit of a picnic.

• Rohan, Michael, guitars, dinner
I bused back to meet Rohan, and we went to meet a friend of a friend – Michael of Fretboard Journal – at Westwood Music. Oh my lord, the guitars. I was drooling. We went out for dinner at Jax Vegan Café, where I had delicious BBQ “Chicken” with ranch dressing. NOM NOM NOM. Michael drove us home, I packed my bags, and we hit the sack – both tired out after a long and fabulous (at least for me!) day.

But first we took the opportunity to mug for the camera.