“This is ass,” he would often say.

Each time in reference to something different – usually an unpleasant situation or outcome. A classic was bad food tasting ‘like ass’. Even better was his facial expression: anger mixed with a slight, but undeniable, presence of amusement.

Eventually, I got it. Sometimes, shit just happens.

I even stopped wtifully questioning how he even knew what ass tastes like. Hang around someone enough, and soon enough, their strange becomes your standard.

He was my housemate. Then, as we became separated by the ocean, and now state lines, we’re back to being just mates… But we’re better mates than ever.

On a day like today – where I woke up late, made mistakes at work, forgot my gym clothes, managed to pee on my leg, got drenched walking to the bus stop, and can hear the sound of hail pelting my car outside – I unfortunately don’t have my mate here.

But I’ve still got that sense of humour he shared with me. Just enough of it to be able to smirk through my sadness and say myself, “this is so ass”.

Keep keeping on.

My Parents


I wouldn’t be here without them.

I don’t just mean that from a biological standpoint; I’m talking about everything that comes after the first f*** – which sadly, some ‘parents’ don’t give a f** about.

Through it all – as in every f** up I’ve made – they’ve been there. I’ve always known safety and support; never the things they’ve seen in their lifetimes. They originated from lesser-privledged countries and worked hard to reach Australia to give my sister and I access to the best opportunities. Which is why I left home for the second time – seeking a better opportunity as well as more responsibility.

Sounds sweet, but I’ll admit to my bitterness before I left. There was shortness, attitude, inconsideration, and even resentment.

 I used to tell myself they gave too much – forgetting that:

For one to successfully give, the other has to willingly take.

I took too much; I gave back too little. But I’m also lucky it’s not too late to change my relationship with my parents, rather than being chained to regret.

Now living in a house of strangers in an even stranger state, I realise how much it means when someone asks how your day was; and I take responsibility for how little it means in return to respond with a few blunt words. They supported me financially and emotionally in my decision to move state. Hence why, more than myself, I don’t want to let them down.

I’m typing this because I also come from a house where words don’t always make their way out.. but there are plenty of other gestures of love that go above and beyond.

Sweet Sotonia

Sometimes I wonder about heaven.

Since yesterday, I really hope it exists. Otherwise where will sweet little baby Sotonia go? How else will she get the chance to be awed by the things that we now fail to notice?

She was one of the several babies born while I was in Tonga last year. In particular, she caught my eyes – because of her eyes, and her voice. As I left, I had this feeling that I’d come back one day, some day, to find her in a choir. Sure, that’s pretty ordinary for a Tongan, but she would be far from ordinary at it! I’m sure she’ll be one of God’s personal singing angels in no time.

Sometimes I wonder about God.

Since yesterday, I’m not sure if I want him to exist. Because then there would be someone with answers, and someone like me would never stop asking. Why?

But it’s not about me.

Sotonia’s family and many others are capable of pulling through the devastation of losing a child. Maybe it’s got something to do with asking less and listening more. Listening to those by your side, your children that are still in good health, and the condolences of strangers touched by your tragedy.

Maybe that’s all Sotonia was here to do. Maybe she already was an angel. Sent here to remind us of the things we should take  the most notice of… while awing us in the process with her voice.

Rest In Peace little one – but also sing as loud as you wish.

Too short at Twenty-two


Today was just another day for many; the birthday for someone I know; and the 5 year anniversary of the day that someone I used to know, lost his life.

At 22 years old, Andy was gone before life gave him the chance – or rather unfortunately, there is reason to believe it was the other way around. Who knows what was behind  those passing clouds… if he just waited in the rain.

Instead of brighter days, he’s getting flowers laid.
Instead of creating new memories, he’s fading in ours.
To someone I could have saved, I apologise with a visit to his grave.
We already know this: nothing is promised.
So don’t just live life as if it’s a gift..
be one, so you’ll be missed.  


A Message to a Memory


postcard bday

Have you ever been fighting for so long, that you forget what you’re fighting for?

In my case it’s caring.

Caring, not necessarily for the ‘one that got away,’ but one that has ‘gone’ away… and been gone, as well as unheard from, for 5 years now.

But still a special one none-the-less. The one who introduced me to so many things – not just in regards to what it’s like to be in love, and human – but what it’s also like to be ‘me.’

And being me means not forgetting my promise, even if it feels like I’ve forgotten you.

A promise that I’ll always be there, at the least, to give you my well wishes on your birthday.

So here it is, about to make its way through the mail, across the ocean, and on the assumption that I still know at least one thing about you… your birth date.

I guess it’s something that will never change – just like ‘me.’



True Tourists

There’s many differences between living in a country – and visiting. Between the responsibility of being a host – and the privilege of being a guest.

Somewhere during the past 9 months while I’ve been in Tonga, I crossed the line.

A line, not drawn out in the sand. A line, not specified by small print. Just a feeling that I’m closer to the community that I’m surrounded by, and less of an “outsider.” A change in position is a change in perception; I now notice others more evidently where I once saw myself: as a new person – in a new country.

I know what it’s like to be in their shoes. Not in the same way that someone in Tonga knows what it’s like to be in mine – because he or she is wearing them! It’s because, out of a nature that is more caring than criminal, I always try to be welcoming towards new faces.

Some of these new faces are tourists. Sure, I’ve encountered some that conform to the negative stereotype of being obnoxious and overly demanding. But I’ve also discovered that while a group of people can share a common destination, their individual motives for being there and their interpretations of their surroundings can be in fact, polar opposites.  This is why I’ve coined the term “true-rists” to describe and rightfully distinguish the types of people that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through the tours I’ve organised at the school where I volunteer.

With countless other heavily promoted alternatives available, and less than a whole day to spend in the country; they trusted their time and money would be best spent with the students of a local school. Students, who weren’t interested in their visitors’ wallets being open – only their minds and hearts, so they could share their stories and home, but feel appreciated and comfortable in doing so.

And that’s what happened. The “true-rists” were so grateful of every gesture of hospitality, no matter how small. Understanding that any expectations from the western world have to be left at door (or on the boat they got off). And of greater value than money – they offered genuine interest, generous comments, and constructive feedback to the students – which is invaluable to their development.

The tours gave the “true-rists” and the school’s students a chance to learn more about one another: Why they are both here today and where they come from. In my own travels, I’ve learned that’s what makes a country unique and travelling worthwhile – people.

Even interested in me – the outsider distanced by his skin tone and accent – they praised me for my efforts and for facilitating the day’s activities. Nearing the end of my volunteer assignment, I really appreciated the assurance. The gentleman pictured also gave me a kind reminder that I should “look in the mirror every morning and remember that I deserve to be successful and happy.”

Well, I know in the future, in someway, I’ll at least be thinking about Tonga everyday. And I honestly believe these wonderful people now have a reason to do the same. The people of Tonga have been good to me, so I hope the future only brings them more visitors who know how to be as equally kind and appreciative in return.

A Letter from Luke

Note from Luke

Meeting Luke was a reminder about how even the most straight forward of roads have their forks. As we have choices, which are also – not as straight forward.

After placing my fork and knife down, I planned to just go home after dinner. As I was walking back, I decided to deliberately pass closer by to a group of guys seated by the beach. Maybe I just wanted a proper conversation. Another chance after the dinner I had just sat awkwardly through.

A timid and tentative “What’s up guys” was replied with a confident “Yo Boy.”

That’s how easy it is for a fork to appear.

It turns out I knew just one of the guys, and it wasn’t long before I knew them all pretty well. Well, at least it feels intimate when you’re stumbling home drunk and sharing a cigarette.

I did think about the important Teacher’s March I had to participate in the next day – but I also thought about the other things on my mind.  Specifics aside, there was regret, worry, fear, and doubt. The typical shit. I thought a drink or two would help ease me up.

And that’s how easy it is to take the wrong turn.

The rest is a blur. I remember offering my couch to Luke, who I had just met that night. I can’t remember what we spoke about exactly, but I’m sure it was the kind of conversation I wanted to have because I do remember singing this

“I never conquered, rarely came
16 just held such better days
Days when I still felt alive
We couldn’t wait to get outside
The world was wide, too late to try
The tour was over we’d survived
I couldn’t wait till I got home
To pass the time in my room alone”

(Adam’s Song -Blink 182)

Before we could make it through the whole song, my head went from banging to hanging – over the toilet. I threw up – several times, before passing out. In the morning Luke was gone but this note was left in my journal.

He had gone his separate way, and I was left to decide which way I was going to go. What choice I was going to make: to suck it up and go to the March, or to stay home. However, it was obvious I had already made my decision last night. I was in absolutely no condition to go anywhere, let alone, move much. I missed the March. I fucked up. In more ways than one, I really felt like shit.

Despite the hangover, I experienced a sense of clarity regarding the next choice I had to make. Since I valued honest conversations, it was time I had one with my supervisor. Someone I knew well. Someone I had also lied to; stating food poison as the reason I was sick.

The irony is, I’m not only back on the right track, I’m further along it. The conversation gave me a chance to be honest about a lot of things. It really improved our relationship.

Of course, my decision to get drunk could have easily been followed by a worse one to lie about it – but it wasn’t. Of course, I could have also gone to the march and still had that conversation I needed to have – but – I didn’t.

Life is never that straight forward.

Perhaps that’s the blessing in the way we encounter and make choices. At least I learned, in this occasion, sometimes the only way we can make that right turn is by making, what appears to be, a wrong one first.

He’s High On Life (Yasmin)

We all know that person with that extra bit of buzz and bounce. “High on life” they call it.

Sometimes we’re that person. Maybe we just started a new diet, are going on a deeply desired second date, or in our naivety, accepted candy from a friendly stranger at a party. It’s all good. I’m sure he seemed cool enough.

Yasmin is one guy that is always cool, chill and cheerful.

I’ll admit I don’t know much about him, but I know what I can expect. Sometimes when we’re meeting new people, that’s enough to win us over. I can expect him to smile, laugh, and dance. Almost like he’s infected.

Character is contagious. But in a good way, because I definitely feel that little bit higher when I’m around him.

My Mate Mary

mary n me

Mary is someone’s mum, someone’s grandmother, but she’s my mate.

She taught me a lot of things  by generously sharing her wisdom and experience. Indirectly however, it  was that people come from many different walks and directions in life, but mutual and meaningful ground can be found in the circumstances of crossing paths. Here you can plant the seed for what can blossom into a fruitful relationship. That’s what we did.

Out of the group of mostly younger volunteers, admittedly, the ‘grandma’ of the group wouldn’t have been my first pick for a compatible friendship – but while I was showing naivety, she was showing an interest. An interest in getting to know me & how my experience as a fellow volunteer was coming along. Luckily, I knew already that you should never close the door on an open ear.

From there I had the pleasure of meeting Mary for regular catchups. She was never motherly in any way, and I felt as comfortable in her company as I would with any of my friends back home. We were just two different people going through the same thing. Both willing to share, both willing to listen. We didn’t have the solutions for the difficulties we each faced, but we had support in each other. Sometimes that’s all you need.

Occasionally, a reference would be made to something “X amount of years ago” that I couldn’t relate to, because, well, I wasn’t alive then. We’d laugh, and I’d pull my chair in to listen more closely.  A prime example, I left home in my early 20’s,  but as Mary did, there was a time when it was expected that youths would do the same in their early to mid teens. Having a family and house by the time they were my current age!

From leaving home at 15, she went on to enter the workforce, to then return to pursue further education, to then spend many years as  devoted teacher, eventually volunteering in Cambodia for a year. This is just a paragraph from an extensive story. A story about a woman who cares for those around her, but cares for herself – enough to live life on her terms. A story that has many more chapters to come…

As she boards her plane to head back to Australia, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know Mary – my ‘more grown up’ mate. She is a testament to the fact that you are as only as young as you feel. The rocking chair ain’t rocking yet, so keep rocking Mary.

A position for change

This was a status update from someone I don’t speak as often as I would like, but is still a very strong influence  for who I am today. I met him in the gym when I had the courage to approach him to ask “how do you dance like that, can you teach me?”

He gave me some direction, but also told me that it’s up to me to put in the work. In reciprocation, when he asked me how I achieved my physique & fitness level, I was happy to provide directions, but likewise, he had to acknowledge that’s all I could do.

Having not seen him in a while,  I was extremely glad to hear he stuck to his resolution, worked hard, and is now reaping the result.

Fitness isn’t an area of focus for me, but the principal of the message is something that will keep myself and anyone focused, no matter what they’re after. “Put yourself in a position for change”

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