Why I quit my job

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“Before I Die” – global art installation by Candy Chang

When I was about 12, I decided to go and ask my English teacher for extra, harder work. The work she was setting in class was just not challenging. I can clearly remember now a comprehension task on the Titanic that was pretty much nothing to do with anything. Having already been reading reading classic novels for well over a year, precocious snot that I was, I found this task beneath me. And I told her so. “But Vivienne,” she said. “You’re not properly doing the work you have.”  The teacher was pretty damn stupid, but she had a point: it was true. I hadn’t been doing decent work in class. Why? The less stimulating the task, the less I was inclined to do it well. Not because I couldn’t, but because I didn’t want to.

I am the same as an adult.

And so this week, I quit my job that I didn’t like very much and so didn’t do very well at. Not because it’s beyond my capacity, but because I find it interminably dull. It’s not even a bad job. They were generous and flexible. I got to write instead of answering a phone or being a PA. I had autonomy in my day – lunch hour, loo break, take a personal call if necessary. I could even work remotely if I wished. But I just didn’t care enough. The monotony made me unhappy. The answering to clients whose products I didn’t care for or know enough about, and who didn’t know or care enough about me or what I did. The dull anxiety when I realised I’d neglected to do something important.

I promise I didn't write "rite a book"

I promise I didn’t write “rite a book”

The quality of my work declined, steadily, just like it did back when I was 12. As a writer with a journalism background, SEO copywriting is painfully near but so far from what I love. I write articles, yes; but I don’t tell stories. There’s a big difference between crafting a narrative with expertise and insight and simply synthesising a bunch of other people’s thoughts on a subject because you haven’t the time to research it and you haven’t the knowledge of the subject matter to write about the big themes, latest trends or breaking news. My work was getting bad and it wasn’t because I couldn’t do it, it was because I didn’t want to.

The other tantalising thing about this work is that I was working primarily with travel bloggers, giving them money to upload articles I’d written on behalf of clients onto their sites. I realised I was the middle-man, when I wanted to be one of the bloggers. That’s why I started this blog. And this one (and this one and this one – content in development!). Because I’d found out just how many people achieve their longterm travel goals, running businesses from their laptops and finding ways to set up passive income.

I’ve always wanted to travel. I have a list of aims in life from when I was about 8. I wanted to learn lots of languages and travel the world. I’ve also always had an entrepreneurial spirit. When I was about 10 I decided I wanted to open a pizza delivery service for my neighbourhood with my little brother. When I was 14, I cooked up a whole business plan for a boutique real estate agency, where the service included a spruce up of the property for sale and a chilled bottle of champagne on handover day. Oh yeah, I had all the ideas. These days, all the ideas centre around my niche – arts, words and digital marketing.

Entrepreneurship runs in my family, too. My parents worked for themselves, and so did my grandparents – none of the major adult figures in my life have ever had a “boss” or manager. For better and for worse, in pubs, caravan parks, illegal gambling deals, building sites and costume rentals, my olds did it for themselves. I put myself through uni by offering tutoring services to neighbourhood kids – no agency, just good old fashioned flyers, word of mouth and an inappropriate use of my high school’s emailing list (I’d already graduated, what were they going to do?).

So what am I going to do instead of have a job now?

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“Before I Die” – at Undercurrent Weekend, Shoreham 2012

Well, I’m going to travel on the cheap with the money I have saved and blog and set up my own businesses. I have ideas, lots of them. What I haven’t had is time to implement any. I have blogs and websites, a couple of eBooks, a budding reputation as an arts marketing consultant, the ability to write for SEO clients, edit other peoples’ words, a laptop and a brain and I think that’s pretty much all I need, at least for now. I’m going to discover the joys of coach travel, of voluntourism, of cash-in-hand work and couchsurfing. I’m going to read more from other people who have done what I want to do. Because I don’t want to waste my 20s – or any other part of my life – doing things I don’t want to. I think there are things more important than having a reliable income. These things are harder, but more worthwhile. Better. More interesting. More challenging. Worth doing and worth talking about.

I cannot be more excited.

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The weird world of Tokyo Disneyland, the happiest place on earth

That's me on the left at the Lex nightclub. I'm WASTED

That’s me on the left at the Lex nightclub. I’m WASTED

It’s 3am and I’m dancing on a cracked red vinyl banquette in the “VIP” section of a dingy basement bar in a back alley of Tokyo’s neon-lit Roppongi city centre. I have paid for neither my entry to the club (ordinarily ¥3000), nor any of the drinks that were brought to the table (an entire bottle of Belvedere Vodka, a dozen Red Bulls and a jug of a shot called Blue Sky), not the pizza and fries my friends and I have shared, and I do not want to leave. Later, we will be given ¥5000 towards the cab fare home. Why? Because I’m partying with the young, beautiful, white performers who work in Tokyo Disneyland, and this is a standing arrangement – where they go, the Japanese will follow. Welcome to the weird, weird world of the “face cast” of Tokyo Disney theme parks.

I got to spend a week at the performers’ village with a friend last year, and it was a real window into the odd world of the Disney industry. I met a 30 year old woman who played Wendy from Peter Pan. She’d been working for Disney all around the world since she left college. I heard about the incredibly strict rules surrounding the performers’ identities as character actors – there could be no intimation that they were actors: when in costume, they were those characters. Even in the “backstage” area – anywhere beyond their private dressing room – they were in character. I discovered the hierarchy between the white and Japanese performers – Japanese performers are instructed by management to always make way for the westerners backstage. I heard a rumour that Tokyo – the only Disney theme park not owned directly by Disney itself – might actually be run by the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. I learnt that if you’ve worked at Tokyo Disneyland, it’s so well regarded that it’s basically your golden ticket to work for any other Disney park in the world.

The Disney experience in Tokyo is a truly bizarre one. There are locals who spend basically every spare moment in the park. They buy year-long tickets. They have their favourite characters, whose meet-and-greet appearance schedules they learn and whose merchandise they buy religiously. I found out how the cloying smell of popcorn and other sweets is pumped into the air to make people constantly crave snacks (it made me mad because it smelled awful but also made me hungry).

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The “Face Cast” do their thing.

Between the two parks, you can visit the Middle East, an Italian piazza, a life-size ship, the Wild West, and a European-style castle without ever leaving Tokyo. You end up marvelling at how real the fakeness is; it’s a strange paradox. Wonderland is mashed up against Agrabah, Mickey hangs out with the Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story characters appear in the same parades as the Princesses. There is no logic to it other than it’s all DISNEY (though some of it only tenuously so). You can tap into any emotional reservoir you want – romance, adventure, adrenaline. It is extravagant, excitable, and manufactured.

I was (and remain) torn about how to respond to this fairground behemoth. On one hand, it’s a blatantly capitalist money-grab, where people go as a total escape from real life. A docile population kept more docile by a world of huge plush characters, actors who wave to you and over-priced food. But on the other, it genuinely makes them happy. Not pretend-happy, real-happy. Does the fact that it’s making some people extraordinarily wealthy negate the fact that millions go through the park each year and have a wonderful time? I don’t know. I’d never been to a major theme park before and spent the whole time oscillating between the fun of it all – there’s no denying it was a lot of fun – but also the feeling of being very uncomfortable at the thought of it all.

Any thoughts?

Australian to British English: an urban lexicon

Living in England the past few years, there are certain nuances of language that I have discovered vary between Australian and British English. This page will grow as I remember or discover more discrepancies. Please feel free to submit to the list.

Australian phrase:

“First in, best dressed”

Translation:
Means the same as “first come, first served.” A small survey shows that there is also the English phrase “first up, best dressed”, as in the context of a large family, the first to wake up will get the best clothes in the communal wardrobe, although it’s not widely used. This caused a massive debate about idiom and context between me and my boyfriend. I totally won.

Australian phrase:

“Sucked in”

Translation:

Australian phrase:

“Go jump”

Translation:
Short for “go jump in the lake” – self explanatory. Typically used in the format “X can go jump.”

Australian phrase:

“Scull”

Translation:
Finish your drink, quickly. Often used in conjunction with the pisspot song:

Australian phrase:

“It’s a total rort”/”you got rorted”

Translation:
To rip some one off. My mum finds it annoying that this word is not accepted in Ruzzle.

Australian phrase:

“You’re shitting me”

Translation:
In England, this only means “you’re joking/you’re having me on”, but in Australia it also means that you’re pissing me off. Bodily functions for the win!

Australian phrase:

“Paid out”

Translation:

This is unrelated to redundancy packages. If you get paid out, you’re being teased.

 

 

London Underground

tube-station-partyMy friend Jay Foreman has done this magnificent rendition of 270 stations on the London Underground (not the Overground or the DLR – otherwise it would be much longer). My clever boyfriend Jon co-wrote the lyrics (despite them all being already written, the thematic wrangling took them literally months). Anyway, it was posted about three days ago and has already amassed over 45,000 views, so best to have a look then, hey?

airbnb-room

Mega helpful list of free travel

It’s everybody’s dream: travel for cheap or free. I’ve been doing some research on it recently (I’m not claiming to have done all of these things), but I figured I’d share this list of ideas and links that I’ve been collecting for a while:

giant-anchor

I’ve had nautical experience.

Volunteer on a yacht

You don’t have to be an expert or even have any experience to be part of a sailing crew. Duties and arrangements vary, of course, but usually you are getting free board and of course transport, while learning a brand new skill. Sometimes, experienced skippers get paid to navigate other people’s yachts from one place to another – nice work if you can get it, and a good goal to aim for.

https://www.crewseekers.net/index.aspx

House sitting

From what I hear, people younger than retirement age sometimes have a hard time securing house-sitting gigs. Still, there are people who seem to have cracked the formula. Here’s a couple who seem to have been doing alright:

http://globetrottergirls.com/2010/05/house-sitting/

Carpooling

A friend of mine told me she hitchhiked from Paris to Norway last year. This is not something I would ever dream of doing, because everything I’ve been taught about hitchhiking is that you end up murdered in the woods. However, I’ve come across a pretty awesome carshare website that links to your Facebook profile and has user-reviews, so that you can be assured that the driver is not a serial killer. If you’re a woman, you can also request women-only trips for extra peace of mind, which I think is a nice touch. The price of the trip is fixed beforehand, and you can even select the option for whether you want to have a quiet journey or a chatty one.

http://www.blablacar.com/

WWOOFing

Despite having the pretty lame name of “Willing Workers On Organic Farms[-ing]”, it’s a pretty cool idea – basically a network of organic farms that accept travellers to exchange work for food and accommodation. Another friend worked for a while on a Japanese farm. One time, she and her friend had to pick snails off the crops and put them in sack, counting the snails as she went – there were thousands. She realises in retrospect that the counting was probably a joke but the language barrier made it difficult to detect the hilarity. But the best part was that they left the sacks full of snails in the back of the truck – only to come out the next morning to discover the snails had escaped the sacks through the night and were swarming the entire truck.

http://www.wwoofinternational.org/

Airbnb

Airbnb is, I think, one of the greatest uses of the internet. Basically, people can list their spare rooms/entire homes/treehouses for rent to travellers. Like Blablacar, profiles are linked to social profiles, so you know you’re not staying in the home of a sociopath. Also, if you have a space it’s an incredible way to make a bit of cash to fund travels. I’m currently staying with my boyfriend’s parents as we’ve rented our room out to two lovely Italian boys. It’s a pretty nice way to get some extra cash, if you can swing it. If you’re the renter, it’s guaranteed to be cheaper than a hotel and nicer than a hostel.

airbnb-room

This was my Airbnb room once… KIDDING, it’s the Palace of Versailles

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/

Couchsurfing

Another social network of travellers and hosts, couchsurfing is pretty ace if you are happy to take what you can get. The friend who hitched from France to Norway is a very keen couchsurfer (she couchsurfed through India – again, not something I would have done), and she swears by it. Her safety tip is to read reviews and read between the lines: there could be a warning that the host is potentially a bit dodgy.

https://www.couchsurfing.org/

Voluntourism

I’m not counting the kind of volunteer experience where you have to pay loads of money to spend three days in Africa – that is noble but it is not cheap. On the other hand, there are several networks where you can find yourself board and accommodation in exchange for a few hours a day work. Jobs might range from restoring a C18th French chateau to cooking for a family of 10 on their sustainable smallholding in the Rocky Mountains. You never know.

http://www.workaway.info/

http://www.helpex.net/

Tutor

There are certain strata of society who pay a lot of good money to fly tutors or child minders to exciting destinations. You have to know what you’re doing and they usually require a degree from a good university, but it’s food, accommmodation, travel AND pay; if you think you’d fit the bill, it’s definitely worth looking into.

http://bonasmacfarlane.co.uk/

Ask

Everyone knows someone who knows someone who can get you a sweet deal or put you up, especially if you’re not too far off the beaten track. Put out a Facebook call-out and ask if anyone needs a house-sitter, pet-sitter or a subletter, if anyone is driving somewhere and would like company and a contribution towards petrol costs. If you’re staying at a hostel, ask if there are any jobs going in exchange for accommodation. There’s a network for finding friends of friends, too:

http://www.foftravel.com/

If you have anything to add, please do so – I want this to be the ultimate list!

Warhol's Campbell's Soup

Ways to enjoy New York on the cheap

From the first time I ever visited New York, back in January 2008, I have loved it with an abiding passion. Part of it is the energy of Manhattan – the density of people and buildings makes it feel like a true metropolis. Another part is just the idea of New York – everyone has goals and ideas and they are there getting them done. It’s a constant striving for greatness that is why they build skyscrapers there, why they put on huge musicals, why people sell off their possessions and take terrible jobs to go and live as near as they can to it.

It can be a very expensive city as well, so here are my best tips for getting the best of New York if you’re a bit strapped for cash

The ensemble of Pippin.

The ensemble of Pippin.

Theatre
Rush/Standing Room Only/Lottery tickets are the way to go. I have written extensively on this in my other blog, Travels with Totoro. To put it briefly here though, New York is the international capital of theatre and if you don’t go to see at least SOMETHING, you are totally daft. Consult Broadway for Broke People for a top-notch summary of ways to get your hands on much, much cheaper tickets than the regular price. Beware: some are only for students, some are only for youth, some are cash-only. I saw one of my favourite musicals, Pippin (pictured left) in its first revival after being first played on Broadway 40 years ago for $37.50, and it was the best $37.50 I’ve spent in my life. Even if I had to get up at 5.15am to spend it.

Eat in parks

This is most feasible when done in summer. But basically, if you eat in a restaurant, there is a whole raft of unseen extras. Well, two: tax and tips. If you take away you are alleviated of at least tips. Get food from a self-serve deli or takeaway joint and enjoy the sunshine. We also packed lunches a few times for picnics in Central Park and Hudson River Park. I  highly recommend doing a grocery shop at Trader Joe’s – it’s both budget and local/organic (who knows how they manage this!) but it’s totally amazing. It’d even be worth making sure you’re in walking distance of a Trader Joe’s when you’re planning your accommodation.

Attractions

Warhol's Campbell's Soup

Andy Warh-lols

Unlike in London, museums in New York have paid entry. BUT, there are certain days of the week when you can pay suggested entry fees. The Natural History Museum has a suggested entry fee (BUT you have to line up and buy a ticket, and the sign gives stupidly expensive “suggestions”. I had a very bad experience with a very mean lady behind the counter, so my advice is BUY THEM ONLINE and collect from a machine, it will probably be more polite and you won’t have to go through the social embarrassment of paying a $5 entry fee when it suggests $20 on the sign. However, it’s a pretty dated museum for the most part so I don’t highly recommend going). MoMa has free Friday nights. There are queues, of course, but it’s worth it, especially if you like Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Cezanne, or if you are sick of seeing reproductions of Warhol and want to see the original (art theory lovers: note that this is irony).

If you want to get in touch, you can find me on Google+ and Twitter. Say hello!

Plane food

I’m the only one who loves plane food

It’s true, I’m a genuine fan. I get excited about flying largely because of the plane food. I’ve been told that I’m totally insane, but I’m going to give the reasons why I like it here:

Plane food

Enthusiasm

Compartments
The little tray with its perfectly proportioned compartments for the different parts of the meal. The cutlery with salt, pepper and napkin in a bag. A tiny juice, a mini water, pats of butter and cheese individually wrapped. SO MUCH FUN.

Variety
You always get a starter, main and dessert plus extras like cheese and crackers. It’s usually pretty healthy (vegetables and fruit are frequent visitors), and you can choose your main. TIP: If your bread roll and butter are a bit chilly, heat them up by resting them on the main while you eat the starter.

Abundance
If you’re not full, don’t worry, there’s more. This is especially true of long haul flights that often have a basket of snacks in the preparation area, or even hot snacks on call. On my NY flight there were only about 6 hours of flight time and I got dinner and breakfast, plus nuts! I’m sure it’s a tactic to keep the cattle class docile, but I’m cool with that.

Alcohol
Even though you’ve paid for it many times over, the free alcohol is great, as long as you ensure you match your drinks with water. I didn’t learn for years that youcould also just ask for more. I have a friend of a friend who used to be a flight attendant. You can ask them for anything. Don’t feel bad about it, after all, you paid for it! Just don’t go overboard – I once sat next to a guy who was cut off after seven glasses of red.

Taste
Yeah, sometimes it can be a little glutinous and it’s certainly not gourmet, but I generally find the taste to be pretty good. And I have certain standards (I haven’t eaten a McDonald’s burger in about 8 years). But it’s hot and comforting.

Anyone else like plane food? I can’t be the only one.

New York Birthday

Joint 50th: Amy and me on our 25th birthday

Joint 50th: Amy and me on our 25th birthday

One of my travel missions is to spend my birthdays in as many different countries as possible. It’s partially a challenge to make sure I go somewhere I haven’t been at least once a year, and partially something I realised when, at 24 I had just happened to have birthdays in four different countries. So, now it’s five because I turned 25 last week in the USA – specifically, New York.

What was particularly special about the trip was that I would be spending my 25th with my oldest friend, Amy, who is currently living in New York and happens to share my birthday (June 6, 1988 – if you were wondering). We’ve known each other for 20 years and went to primary school, high school and university together, so it was pretty damn special to stay with her. Here’s how we spent the day:

Got up at 5.15am to queue for cheap tickets to Pippin, one of my favourite musicals. (Post coming soon about how to nab discounted seats to Broadway shows). Amy, Jon and I sat in the line on the pavement for over 4 hours so we could be guaranteed seats to the show. It sounds like an awful thing to do on your birthday, but it is actually lots of fun. We met some lovely guys who were both professional musical theatre performers, Family Feud and Sporcle and chatted about musicals to pass the time. We were also interviewed for Japanese TV about Broadway and the Tonys (it was only a few days before the Tony Awards ceremony happened).

Following our ticket coup (box seats!) we went home for a nap (ROCK AND ROLL!), and spent quite a lot of time choosing birthday outfits before heading out to Grimaldi’s pizzeria in Brooklyn. A New York institution, Grimaldi’s does big pizza at low prices. You get a base for $14, and then add your desired toppings for $2 each. As a menu, it can’t be beaten for expediency – they don’t do salad, or even pasta, just pizza for mains, an antipasto starter and home-made cannoli for dessert. Brilliant.

CHALLENGE

CHALLENGE

Grimaldi’s is also perfectly placed for a wander around Brooklyn Bridge Park, which affords a stunning view of the skyline of downtown Manhattan, and, very small in the distance, the Statue of Liberty. It would be a great place for a picnic, as there was loads of seating, tables and barbecues, plus courts for some kind of sporting endeavour (although not much grass or open space).

Next, Amy and I treated ourselves to shopping at criminally cheap Forever 21 at Times Square and each bought ourselves a birthday dress. Then, we went for a cocktail at a small hotel bar, so we tried to get birthday special treatment. The awkward conversation went something like this:

Us: Is there anything very special on the menu?

Waiter: All the cocktails are special.

Us: But, you see, it’s our birthday, so we’re looking for something special.

Waiter: Special event doesn’t make the cocktails any better. All the cocktails are special.

Us: Right, okay, it’s just that it’s our birthday so want a special drink.

Waiter: All the cocktails are special.

We were not subtle, and it was pretty awkward. But he eventually cottoned on and brought out some mini hamburgers. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite calculate the tip in line with the waiter’s expectations so he followed us out and asked if there had been a mistake. We all felt guilty and went and gave him extra. Lesson: if you’ve been a bit demanding, always tip generously. I will do another post on tipping soon because it’s a fascinating and strange and highly annoying world.

And to top off the day: Pippin.

Pippin is a much under-appreciated and very beautiful early work of the great composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pocohontas, Godspell, The Prince of Egypt, The Hunchback of Notre Dame). It’s about Pippin, the son mediaeval king Charlemagne on a classic “hero’s journey”, feeling he is destined for greatness and trying to find it in all the wrong places.

But it is more than a simple “coming of age” story: the whole thing is witnessed – and sometimes, meddled with – by a troupe of players, helmed by the Leading Player, a kind of ringmaster (an aspect brought to the fore in this circus-inspired production), and is a meta-theatrical masterpiece. Each aspect of Pippin’s journey is introduced in the first song, Magic To Do, which also is very aware of its own theatricality:

The ensemble of Pippin.

The ensemble of Pippin.

“We’ve got magic to do
Just for you
We’ve got miracle plays to play
We’ve got parts to perform
Hearts to warm
Kings and things to take by storm
As we go along our way”

It’s dark and compelling and sexy, with a classic Broadway sound and incredible performances from some extremely talented carnies (seriously, some of the cast were 5th-generation theatre folk), and there was all kinds of clever staging, contortion, balancing, tumbling and trapeze.

I laughed and cried, gave a standing ovation IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SHOW, and couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. It is one of the greatest things I’ve ever witnessed on stage. It was the perfect way to finish the day: next birthday has a LOT to live up to.

Friday Geography Fun!

Guess the streetscape!

Guess the streetscape!

Genuine fun! I think. I’ve always been a Geography nerd. Don’t trust me.

One of my Facebook friends shared GeoGuessr and it’s a great way to pass a few minutes (or hours. Depends how bored you are).

You see a picture of a place on Google Street View and then you have to drop a pin on the map wher eyou think it is. Your points are calculated according to how close you got. The first few had hints like street signs (where you can see the language); The final one was just a road in the bush. Luckily, it just felt like my home state of New South Wales, and I was right, so I was mega-chuffed.

Enjoy your procrastination.

 

 

Songs to get Parisian to

P1000203I’ve been in Paris for the last two weeks, and while bits have been lovely (new friends, cheap wine), others have been less inspiring (see my previous post on Paris). I am trying to get in the mood of being inspired by Paris so I asked some friends for their best songs about it – anywhere that inspires so much music must be alright. Right?

1. Aux Champs-Elysées

I know a more recent cover of this song, but I cannot for the life of me think who might sing it or where I know it from. This is a lovely song about a lovely street though.

2. Parlez-vous Français

Still on the theme of the Champs-Elysées but with rather more techno, Aussie outfit Art vs Science plays this song that never fails to get me pumped.

3. Paris is Burning

Another antipodean, Ladyhawke’s Paris is Burning is a song with a quiet intensity. I love the insistence of the harmonies and the fact that it’s actually quite a quick beat even though it feels a kind of medium tempo. Not sure the film clip is actually filmed in Paris, though.

4. Offenbach’s Galop Infernal (aka the Can-Can)

This one is my own little video of gay Paris that I made for my mum. The music was recorded by my friend Laurence, who is part of superFLORENCEjam and is the long thin one in techno duo Happy Music Radio Hour. Check ’em out.

There are many more but these are my favourites. Suggestions are most welcome.

Why Paris is not all that

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Paris is the Emperor’s New Clothes of travel destinations. We’ve all been fed a myth about how great it is since we were born, through movies and images and novels, Audrey Hepburn and croissants. It’s so romantic, so chic, so transformative, etc.

Younger, more impressionable days

Younger, more impressionable days

I have been here (for Paris is my current location) three times now, and so have pondered it several times. The first time I came was with my ex-boyfriend, and I admit it was pretty romantic and stuff. We stayed in Montmatre like the n00bs we were, and went to the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre and the Arc d’Triomphe. I bought, wore berets. He gave me a rose. We drank wine and I put the table bread from restaurants into my pockets for later. It was all pretty vomitous.

Discussing Paris with a friend over Facebook chat, she revealed similar experiences:

Her: how’d you like Paris? I either have a billboard time when I go, or it’s shit

Me: well it’s been weird as I’m working in my flat most of the time and I’m living by myself, and the flat is in the suburbs so it really feels like I could be anywhere, just being a hermit. I’ve never loved Paris, I must say. It smells of pee and everyone is rude!

Her: AMEN!

Me: The first time I came was with [ex-boyfriend] and it was romantic and shit but the novelty has since worn off

Her: yeah, I went with my ex too. On New Years Day, EVERYTHING was closed. I went with my friend and had an awesome time. Coincidence? Hell no!

Parisian lemonade lived up to its name.

Parisian lemonade lived up to its name.

The next time I went was with my mum, and while it was very special hanging out with her there, I was much less blinded by the Paris bit and much more aware of the fact that there were cigarette butts everywhere, that shopowners swept their rubbish into the gutters, that they were mega unimpressed with my lack of language skills, that there were  pushy-to-the-point-of-intimidating street vendors. I saw a fight break out in the street during which someone left and returned with a massive wooden plank.

  • Not everyone is gorgeously stylish
  • Not all the food is to die for (in fact there is a lot that’s really crummy)
  • There’s litter everywhere
  • There are lots of young men who think that playing gangsta rap loudly on the train is acceptable

Paris: you are not perfect. But I have two more weeks here till I’m back in London, so I’m going to give it another chance. I know a good few people who have fallen in love with this place, so I’m sure they can’t all be talking crap… can they?