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Let me break down report writing:
Depending on the term, it’s writing a 5000 to 10000 word essay under EXTREME pressure, when you are completely and utterly exhausted from the term of teaching and are hating life anyway.
You have a critical audience of approximately 250 students and (even more alarmingly) 500-ish parents who are all deeply interested in DIFFERENT 200-300 word increments of said academic essay. So you can’t even throw in a random half-page quote to haze your audience. You have to write at absolute premium quality for the WHOLE DAMN ESSAY.
If you don’t utilise that thesaurus of “student-focused + encouraging” words, you can be damn sure you’ll be fielding a phone call from an irate parent as to why you described their precious darling as “conscientious” rather than “dedicated”.
YOU CAN’T EVEN WRITE WHAT YOU WANT. You have to spend your time scrupulously veiling your true thoughts into positively-bent, passive-aggressive pointers of “forward-thinking encouragement”.
The final report is like white bread: refined as all hell with all the good stuff processed out, leaving only the fluffy white stuff.
Happy report writing!
Day 26: Vancouver to Auckland
Karma is a BIATCH who is IMMENSELY fun to watch in action when she’s working for you!
Waiting to collect my noodles + somehow got my order before the (surly, prematurely-aged, overly made-up) lady who ordered in front of me, who was visibly AND audibly pissed that I dare get my food before her.
By way of softening the blow (and to show her I ABSOLUTELY noticed) I said encouragingly, “Your order is getting cooked, looks great! Sorry yours didn’t come out in order.”
“It’s F I N E,” she seethed, in a voice that said it was anything BUT fine.
I gave a sympathetic look to the serving lady + went to get my chopsticks. As I was walking off, I heard an almighty, “OH, FOR CHRISSAKES!”
Turned around to find that Impatient Surly Madam had stuck her knife + fork in her noodles so violently that she’d stabbed through the bottom fastenings of her “Wok-in-a-Box” style takeaway box, and her shirt front, right leg + foot were covered in hot, sloppy, oyster-saucy noodles.
HIGH FIVE, Karma!
I’m enjoying my noodles. And can I just say, LADY, you DESERVED that if you choose to eat noodles with a knife + fork!
Necessary training for all of you wanting to travel…!
Day 20: New York to Washington.
The Day of Unexpected Okay-ness! 😃
Today I’m flying from New York to Washington. Not gonna lie, was expecting many moments of today to suck. So when things sucked less than I thought, or actually reached a level of okayness, I was super-excited.
1. The trip on the LIRR line from Penn Street Station to JFK. Hey, it all worked! They post the departure platforms like the post baseball scores, then everyone goes ABSOLUTELY BUNTER to get on the train, and then it’s literally half empty! I got a whole row to myself. 😆
2. The TSA + security line at JFK Terminal 2, which has a reputation for sucking THE MOST out of all the terminals at JFK. Wow. What an honour. And yet, I flew through in 15 minutes. AND got a smile from on of the security ladies who said, “You’re a long way from home and those damn-fine Tim Tams you got goin’ on there, Missy!” 😂
3. The ACTUAL terminal, which has the same reputation as above. On reading the reviews, I thought I was going to be walking into chaos + squalor. It just reminds me of Adelaide Airport, it’s not a comprehensive shopping mall and I didn’t need it to be, but it has everything you could possibly want before a flight just like in Adelaide, and it was TOTALLY FINE.
4. The toilets. Wow, the reviews were HARSH. But being well-hydrated comes with the need to go, so I took a breath that I intended to hold the whole way though the bathroom stop + ventured in. THEY WERE OKAY! DEAR GOD, THEY WERE OKAY! They’re not the Taj Mahal, and I wouldn’t stay there any longer than I needed, but they were clean, they worked, they had toilet paper, and soap. Free woman, oh what a feeling! 🤣
5. The coffee. Yes, I KNOW. What was I thinking?! But when I was tossing up between a kombucha + a flat white, the flat white won. AND IT DIDN’T SUCK! It was, in fact, low-key successful Cibos level. Mind. Blown. 😜
6. Places to chill. Reviewers cautioned over-optimistic travellers that they would struggle to find a seat, that they would be screamed at for loitering, and don’t even think about finding a place to do some work. I’m sitting in my quiet little nook, with my coffee that doesn’t suck, completely chill + ready to start my new novel.
Today, at “OKAY”, ended up being a “GREAT SUCCESS”.
Day 19: Exploring Brooklyn, NY.
It appears Brooklyn has a sense of humour!
Day 12: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
I’m in Charlottetown, and it feels like my heart and spirit have found a place where they can rest a little. There is a warmth + friendliness to Charlottetown that is completely Adelaidian, and I have hit a point in my travels where I have long-needed a rest day. Today’s early afternoon storm allowed me the chance to curl up, soothe the heart, and just “introvert” for a while.
Steps taken: 18,476, in delightful aimless wanderings around Charlottetown this morning.
One memorable meal or food item: Chocolate-covered potato chips. Salty, sweet, and so wrong, but utterly delicious.
One special photograph: The wonderful oasis of calm this afternoon when the storm rolled in, an intense cool and hush fell over Charlottetown for a few hours, and there was nothing but the melodically soothing sound of rain, fragrant hot cups of tea, reading, journalling, and Netflix. Everything my weary travelling heart needed.
One decent coffee: A surprisingly excellent coffee at Receiver Coffee + Co, which I had this morning perched up on the breakfast loft.
One amazing moment: This was yesterday when I flew in, but HONESTLY, what are the chances?! A shared meal with old friends who are here for the Charlottetown Music Festival, and whom I met at the World Choral Symposium in 2008 almost exactly 10 years ago. The world is an extraordinary place!
One unplanned detour/adventure: As above!
20 minutes reading: Oh, I have been reading heaps this afternoon! I polished off the final pages of “By the Book”, a modern-day retelling of “Persuasion” which was light and fluffy enough to be energising, started the indomitable Anne Patchett’s “Commonwealth”, and in between all that, began re-reading “Anne of Green Gables” from my beautiful vintage copy I bought today at the local bookstore in readiness for tomorrow’s trip to Cavendish to visit Green Gables.
30 minutes composing: I’m about to dive feet first into some Year 12 Composing + Arranging editing, which will be the last thing I do today.
Day 8: Toronto to Montreal
The 11 Golden Truths of Travelling
I’ve decided go off the beaten track + do a slightly different post. After exactly a week of travelling + living out of carry-on only, I have learned the following Golden Truths of Travelling, and hereby believe the following to be true and absolute:
1. You will NOT care what you look like.
You might think you will. You might even think, “Surely, I’ll take just one nice dressy outfit + going-out shoes so that I can look nice on a night out.” Nup. You SO won’t care. And thankfully, after many years of packing the “one nice dressy outfit and going-out shoes”, I flat out refused to succumb to my natural instincts and just packed all clothes I could part with. Uncharacteristically monochrome, with a bent towards black + grey, because black hides all sins and every other colour becomes grey anyways when you hand wash. And those “going-out shoes”? You will deplore their very existence and hate yourself for even thinking you needed just one little pair of leather booties to go with your “nice dressy outfit”. When you are travelling, red Converse sneakers go with EVERYTHING. Period. And the flatter and more street-worthy the shoes, the better.
2. The “sniff-clean” test.
At home, you wear an outfit and it goes in the wash. While travelling, you wear an outfit and hang it out overnight and let the sweat + dirt evaporate. After a good night’s sleep, you forget how much you actually sweated into the outfit from the day before and you perform the “sniff-test”; checking all the relevant “hot-spots” for sweat + smelliness. If it passes that, your outfit is still good to go.
3. A meal’s worth is measured by the amount of accompanying greenery.
As you can’t cook for yourself, the value of a meal is measured by how plentiful the accompanying veggies or salads are.
4. Exorbitant amounts of sugar.
As many local and national dishes are desserts and you can’t be rude and not try them, you end up signing up for the roller-coaster of sugar highs and lows. Because you HAVE to try everything. S’mores? Love ‘em! Nanaimo bars? Bring it on!
5. The greatest sock + undies cleaning hack ever.
6. Your pre-vacation haircut is going to be utterly wasted.
EVERYONE gets a haircut + colour before they go on holidays. You want to look great while you’re away, right?! SO NOT WORTH IT. Except for actually changing the length of your hair to be more manageable, any styling additions are utterly wasted. I have been rocking one of 2 looks all holidays; the “I-have-just-been-through-the-fabric-softener-cycle” look, and the “Astro-Boy” random peaks look.
7. Chips, wedges, and fries ALWAYS taste GREAT.
Doesn’t matter which city or country you are in. Chips, wedges, and fries taste exponentially better when you are travelling. And you are ALWAYS ravenous for them.
8. A word on Google Maps + Maps2Go.
HOW THE HELL DID WE EVER SURVIVE WITHOUT THEM?
9. Sense of direction.
As a follow-on from the above point; whatever direction you think due north is, turn around and go the other way.
10. Public transport that works.
When you get on any form of public transport for the first time and you crack the whole ticket + platform situation and get on said transport, if it works and it is on time, you feel like KING OR QUEEN OF THE WORLD.
When people recognise you as Australian, you are inexplicably proud of your nationality in a way that you are not when in Australia. And when you are low-key included as one of the fold and deemed likeable, passable, safe, cool, and having some degree of street-cred, you realise how wonderful it is to be an Aussie abroad.
I was rocking a black turtleneck sweater yesterday and a number of my kiddies commented on how classy, elegant, and “Audrey” I looked. 😎
And one astute Miss Year 12 completely burst my elegant, class-filled bubble by exclaiming:
“Classy?! Aren’t you guys concerned?! Have you guys ever SEEN this before? I’m thinking the stress-factor is high and Kwokkie’s not on top of the laundry situation. She’s spending all her time looking after us!”
It was the most stomach-pummeling, crash-to-earth, and backwardly affectionate compliment ever. 😂
And yes, she was right.