Weird Shit Velcro – Stories About Navigating The Human Landscape

I have captivated all of my friends and family for many years with my dating and daily life stories. Thus, this blog is my opportunity to share these amusing and ridiculous anecdotes with anyone who is interested, bored with their life, passing time or just has the awesome, shit ass luck to run upon it by chance. If nothing else, you will be entertained…start with March 20 "You will be entertained….too good to make up."


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It’s a trippy trip with a constant eternal twist…you can’t go forward looking back.

“It’s your experiences that shape you not how you were born” stated my drifter friend from the UK that I met watching the sunset tonight in Lennox Head.  His statement might not have been eloquent but it was right on.  Ae offered me a beer, each word he uttered made complete sense and provided plenty of food for thought.  If there’s a moral to this journey of mine it would be that every single person I have met has come into my life for a reason.  I hiked up to Passage Peak in the Whitsunday islands on Sunday and, although I thought I might have a heart attack on the way up, the trek was well worth it.  As I sat on the highest point for several hours I encountered a lovely woman from San Francisco who happens to be a life coach. How perfect when just that morning I was questioning my path and my future. The day before I debated going on a boat trip and at the very last moment decided to go and sat next a girl who works a few blocks from me in NYC. My cabbie who drove me to navigate the streets of Byron Bay during “schoolies” last night was from San Francisco and his mother lives in Sausalito.  The list goes on and on with every moment, hour, interaction I have.  I’ve made new friends who are at crossroads in their lives for different reasons – often divorce or breakups. But also those just exploring….the world and themselves. A few I will probably have as lifelong friends and others are just part of that moment in time as I learn to live in, and appreciate, the moment.

I know I have finally started to relax when I don’t know what day it is. It’s a good feeling and has only taken me a month to get here.  That said, I have spent an inordinate amount of time in every destination planning my “activities” as well as my accommodations/flights for the next adventure. So much for winging it but I’m trying…

A few thoughts about my travels, travails and random Aussisms I have learned or heard…

I got my koala on – meaning I hugged a koala but getting “anything on” is a common expression – eg getting on my beach

Flying in a helicopter without the doors on to take photos wasn’t scary at all. In fact , I kinda loved it!

Crack the shits

Slip slop slap wrap- slip on a t-shirt, slop on some screen, slap on a hat, wrap on some sunglasses

Numpty= silly person

Bevied numpty = drunk silly person

Busking- someone who performs in the street for $$

Swimming costume or bathers = bathing suit

Budgie smuggling = a speedo

Schoolies – MUCH worse than senior week in the US – for three weeks after high school ends (but before graduation) kids basically inundate beach towns and party as much as they can.

Drink driving – instead of drunk driving – and might I add that the blood alcohol limit here is .05 as compared to .10 in the US. They have check points at 11am and they swab the inside of people’s mouths randomly for THC. Thank god they don’t do that in the US!

At clubs you can’t buy a scotch neat or a Baileys on the rocks – all alcohol has to be mixed with something.  Very inconvenient.

Campa vans – Camper vans – was a weird/foreign concept at first but it is actually starting to sound better and better and makes sense so you don’t have to do so much planning and can just drive, get to your destination and chill.

Australia is like a warm Ireland in terms of capacity for alcohol and the candid human landscape.

There are many more but I wanted to share some photos of the incredible Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach (the whitest beach in the world they say) and Byron Bay (where I got my hippie on!!).

Good shit velcro….nature is amazing!

The summit of Passage Peak…

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Sunrise with a cochatoo…

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Hill Inlet…

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Seaplanes and Whitehaven beach with a fellow New Yorker…

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Whitehaven Beach…

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The heart reef…

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The Reef…

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Ahhh Melbourne – a hint of NYC on the other side of the world! Kiwis versus Aussies.

The last few days have been a study in the art and concept of perception. Subjective. Objective. Life is largely a matter of one’s perception…said by my non-bland self…

I must say that it is nice to be back in civilization again. Some semblance of normalcy where people are upfront yet friendly.  Customs was a breeze – in stark contrast to the almost strip search I experienced upon entry to NZ.  I was greeted at my hotel by name. People who work here want to help as do strangers who are all quite welcoming. I can get vegetable juice around the corner and everything is convenient.

It’s rather odd that although I loved many aspects of my time in New Zealand it seemed like a third world country in many ways. The physical landscape was spectacularly beautiful. The people were, well, mostly foreign which I found rather odd in a way but summer is starting and apparently it is a good place to “work” for the summer if one is say 19. I definitely would have done it had I known. That said, it was hard to get pretty much everything and anything accomplished and I dig a slow pace but no pace is well….uninteresting unless you are hiking, biking, sailing, boating, paragliding, hang gliding, skydiving, kayaking – you get the picture.

Which brings me to my next point about the difference between the people in New Zealand and Australia. I found it quite interesting that many Kiwis told me they didn’t like Aussies and that I would find the same here. And I have. It’s not a dislike per se I think but rather such a stark contrast in personalities that it is understandable why they might not mesh. Aussies are much more like New Yorkers (from what I can tell in two days). They say it like it is. They are upfront. Perhaps a bit crass but I sorta dig it. Or at least after a few weeks in New Zealand I do. A lovely new friend I met in NZ pointed out to me that Kiwis are generally very passive, don’t remark much about the service or lack thereof (which may be why their service is so horrendous) and just don’t like to make waves of sorts. I have definitely seen the opposite here. People want what they want and make sure it happens.

A prime example would be my two friends I went out with last night. I met them on a street corner in NYC exactly a year ago. They were looking for a bar in my hood which had closed but also would not have been a fun place for such cool chicks to hang out. I was in a rush to get home apparently (as they reminded me last night) but I saw they were lost and asked if I could help. Guide book in hand of the Brit – I took it and wrote notes of where they should go DOWNTOWN. She reminded me last night that I commented on the never-had-I-ever-seen-before orange patent leather shoes of my new friend-to-be who told me she rocked them and they did in fact match her orange coat which she carried off perfectly. She did rock that outfit and wore them a few nights later when we had drinks. The orange shoes that is.  She totally pulled it off and was not bothered by my potentially snooty NY fashionista comment in any way. In contrast, my friend in New Zealand, Kit, took great offense when I commented about her orange patent leather shoes last weekend. I meant no harm, and probably used the same tone as I did with Diari the Aussie, but merely was wowed by the boldness of the choice and the ability to pull them off.  Needless to say this became one of many misperceptions or miscommunications or plain old we knew each other a long time ago for a short time but we don’t know each other anymore moments….it did take the wind out of my New Zealand sail experience as Kit was the majority of the reason I came over but it’s ok and many tears later I am sure I will realize it happened for a reason and maybe our season is over.  Life is too short. And life is largely a matter of one’s perception…too often subjective, objective often not.

On this trip I have discovered, for better or worse, that the expression wherever you go there you are holds true.  I am seeing beautiful (and not so beautiful) sights and meeting new people and seeing old friends but I am still me. Trying to figure out who I am post-cancer and it’s not easy. Everyone is on a path or journey of sorts….all different yet sometimes similar.

I stepped onto a small van for a vineyard tour and wine tasting a couple days ago in Queenstown, NZ and sat next to my pseudo male self, Tad.  By that I mean he was on week six of a one-way ticket around the world that started by going east (whereas I am going west).  Queenstown was his last stop on his journey.  Mine is sort of just beginning. We learned this within the first 3 minutes of chatting. Very weird. His relationship had dissolved earlier this year, his position at work (marketing – similar to me) was eliminated and he had sold his houses and put his stuff in storage, just turned 35 and here he was sitting next to me. I had planned to sell my place and potentially put my belongings in storage this summer until I had to evacuate due to mold.  People come into your life for a reason and it may only be a moment in time or hours for a day but it was interesting to meet someone on a similar journey. I asked if he was anxious about going back to the US and he remarked that he was a bit but had some work leads and the subject wasn’t pursued by either of us. Similar journeys. Opposite directions. One at the end and one just starting with five more weeks to go….maybe more. This spoke to me.

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Another sweet new friend I made on the ferry from Waiheke to Auckland characterized me as “not bland” when we were on the phone the other night. I laughed. Not bland. Very true. I have been described as many things but bland has never been one. I am not one for dry white toast anyway….well maybe with cheese or pate when I used to eat meat pre-cancer…

I have learned that people communicate in many different ways. Many don’t communicate at all. But during the vineyard tour I had the privilege of getting a glimpse into the fantastic sense of humor of a hearing impaired man while on our tour. His wife met him through work – she is a professional who works with the hearing impaired.  Early on in the day I did think to myself for a split second – “wow perfect relationship, he can’t talk back to her and give her hell.” But boy the more this man drank the funnier he became and the more he had to “say” which he made known via his hands and eyes. He even became a bit of a flirt with yours truly.  It was also so interesting to watch their form of communication and interaction.  Silent yet not.

I forgot to mention in my last blog that I flew over and saw The Remarkables which are pretty awesome! The mountains were named The Remarkables by Alexander Garvie in 1857-58 allegedly because they are one of only two mountain ranges in the world which run directly north to south – An alternate explanation for the name given by locals is that early Queenstown settlers, upon seeing the mountain range during sunset one evening, named them the Remarkables to describe the sight. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Remarkables

Many interesting days filled with new sights and friends who were different shapes, sizes and colors. Illustrated by photos of course…

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The bridge where the concept of bungee jumping originated….still not for me!

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I just liked this…bought the dishtowel version.

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Gibbston Valley Vineyard, Central Otago.

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A little friend that was found on my shoulder during lunch…she did not want to leave me!

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My naughty hearing impaired friend!

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The pinot noir soaked “Christmas cake” I never got to taste but boy it sounded yummy!!

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Pretty much how my life looks right now…open, empty road….Since I write under a pseudonym all of my photos are taken from the back but what I have realized is that I started taking this stance recently. It’s interesting for me to look at as I have my arms open to receive anything and everything because that is really where I am in life. Open. Ready. Willing. Able. Hopeful. That the universe will show me some path or something!!

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The end of the vineyard tour and my friend is still communicating….

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A couple more friends….

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Beautiful Queenstown….

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The Aussie in Queenstown….my first glimpse of things to come! Very opinionated.

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The Remarkables….http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Remarkables

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Seen from Sunshine Bay.

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The best burger ever!! Even for a veggie!!

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My buddy Toon who made everything better!

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It was hard to leave Queenstown as you can probably tell. I loved it there! They do love fish and chips in NZ.

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My first view of Australia from the air…

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I had the wonderful pleasure of watching these little penguins make their way home from sea the other night on Phillip Island which is the southernmost tip of Australia (other than Tazmania). You were not allowed to take photos but it was incredible to watch. They waddled in like little drunk children. It was extraordinary and really cheered me up for a moment when I needed it.ImageImage

Our guide. I learned that penguins only live in the southern hemisphere (I always thought there were penguins in Alaska – apparently not!) and most penguins like to live in packs and need each other. These little guys are very independent. They like to be alone generally and only travel onshore in a pack after sunset so they don’t get picked up by predatory birds. They are independent of their parents at only a week old. It was fascinating. I found my little penguin self understanding their desire to be together at times and often alone….they may long for more togetherness though as do I.


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Queenstown…spectacular beauty meets extreme sport capital of the world!

It is quite incredible that almost every area I visit in New Zealand is more beautiful than the last. For such a small country the diversity of things to do is simply incredible.

I am in Queenstown – the outdoor adventure capital of NZ and where bungee jumping originated. I am skipping the bungee jump.

Yesterday I flew in small plane (as co-pilot) to Milford Sound. The views, as you can see below, were spectacular.  I then took a boat throughout The Sound and lastly flew back to Queenstown via helicopter and landed on a glacier. I must admit I was scared as hell and clung onto the remarkably calm 80 year old woman next to me. I thought about grabbing the pilot’s arm or knee as he was on the other side of me but he was so busy playing with his iPod as he tried to get music to play I didn’t want to distract him even more while we flew incredibly close to the very steep mountains and landed on a glacier. I really thought I might have a heart attack to be honest.

I got back and was a little out of sorts and nauseas from the ride but decided to follow through with my plan to go paragliding. Fantastic!! Nothing like running off a mountain and letting a big parachute catch you. As I remarked on the incredible views, my awesome tandem teacher Jim said “yes, it’s a pretty good office.” That’s what I need I thought to myself!  A job that excites me while helping others in some way….not sure what that is though.

Anyway, I cannot even put into words the beauty I experienced yesterday so I will just share photos…

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My pilot Matt!

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Aiming for that happy smile down there at the end of this journey. I know many people have written me that they are “jealous” or “living vicariously through me” which is greatly appreciated but there are many things I wish I had in my life that haven’t played into my hand. Yet. I am shuffling the cards you see and hoping I come up with a winning hand. But along the way, the scenery and these views are helping me get back on track and deal.  Off to a more chill day of wine tasting today….


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Incredible views in Auckland juxtaposed with devastation in Christchurch….yet only an hour away. Perfection!

I lived though 9/11 which was devastating in every way possible and obviously was internationally televised and virtually lived on many continents. It was a horrific experience that no one should or hopefully will ever forget.  That said, yesterday in Christchurch, New Zealand I was overcome with an overwhelming sadness that left me speechless. A massive earthquake left this city in shambles in February of 2011 and nothing has changed. My dear friend, her husband and children live here and plough though each day and until I went downtown yesterday I didn’t understand why she hasn’t wanted me to visit. There is literally no city left.  It was shocking. Katrina shattered New Orleans, one of my favorite cities but within a year there was visible progress.  Here, sadly,  there is complete devastation and it is nothing that can be verbalized or exemplified in photographs but below is my bleak attempt to convey the nothingness that I felt…ImageImageImage

Today I took an hour drive to Akaroa. A beautiful French settlement which was stunningly beautiful. It’s amazing that only an hour away from such devastation Hector’s dolphins, fur seals and blue penguins captivated my attention and I must include the breathtaking landscape. It was a welcome reprieve from my crazy dreams, stress about my life that I am trying to forget or reconfigure and a welcome centering of living in the moment and seeing the beauty in every, single thing around me.  Below are some images of my day. New friends in every shape, size and form.  And a lovely job that was offered with an incredible view.

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A scotch and cigar are totally in my future…

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Fur seals….supposedly mean but boy they looked cute and comfy sunbathing!

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New friends pretending to work….

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A nice bathroom exit…

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Who wouldn’t be happy after this day?!

Ok a few photos from up north and my trip to the Bay of Islands….a small town called Russell and of course the Sky Tower looking out over Auckland.

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My future boss….and his great view. Image

Some last thoughts of the day….

Life is so short and you always think the grass is greener or that one will “get to it someday” but one should appreciate the moment because life is made up of vignettes and moments.

10 might seem young 20 might seem old 30 might seem young and 40 might seem old but you better appreciate every moment because it can stop at any second.

The world is vast and so many people are incurious. It bewilders me.

Families of people, ducks, cows, sheep, dolphins, penguins, seals…the ocean and mountains what’s better than New Zealand? Hmmm except that it lies on a massive fault line.

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At the end of the day….really this is all it’s about. To me anyway.

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It’s all practice and  a work in progress…but hoping to navigate closer to my path…