Thursday, February 7, 2013

A photo journey of my travels so far...

It's time for a postcard from me. I can't believe my trip has gone so quickly. And I can see my return date rapidly approaching, too, argh!

So, what have I been doing? Well, looking back over my photos from the past few weeks, it would appear I've been doing a lot of eating and drinking, because there seem to be an inordinate number of photos of wine, cups of tea, and plates of beautifully arranged food.

But it hasn't just been an orgy of dining. I have also seen some pretty amazing places. And hung out with some amazing people.

And seen amazing things.

Like Bevo, who I met in Austin, Texas:
Me and my best bud, Bevo.
Bevo is the official mascot of the Longhorns, the Texas University football team. I have a friend who is an exceptionally passionate fan, who took me to visit both Bevo and the Longhorns merchandise store (all three levels of it). Let's just say I now own more Longhorns merchandise than is entirely savoury for someone who's never actually seen a game (and isn't entirely sure on the rules, despite having watching most of the Superbowl (we turned off when the lights went out, it was getting boring, and besides, Downton Abbey was on.))

I can't wait to wear my Longhorns charm bracelet one night out in Melbs. :)

I also visited some amazing stores in Texas.
Proof I was really in TX.
It got a little chilly, so although I've been keeping a tight hold on the purse strings, I did need a cute new hat to keep my head warm. This one has been doing the trick nicely.
Austin is filled with quirky stores. Lots of Mexican-style handcrafts and decor items too. I adored this wall of crosses.
Although if I was going to take one home, it would have probably been one like this:
All covered in skulls and icons. Love it.

Then there was this store:
It was huge and each little alcove was filled with treasures in the same color family. Red is my favourite color, and there were so many things I wanted to take home, but had to keep remembering luggage limits. So I settled for a photo instead. So much cute stuff in one place.

And just in case you're thinking that Texas has a monopoly on awe-inspiring stores, here's a photo of a place in my very own neighbourhood:

It appears to be primarily filled with a huge number of layered cake stands, but there are also shelves of gorgeous little treasures, and heap of sparkly costume jewellery.

But when it comes to the just plain amazing, nothing beats a store I visited just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Mr Clines Antiques is a very unique place. It's filled with what I guess some people might call "junk": old signs, old furniture and just plain weird stuff that defies description.

Like these little guys:
I just want to know what they're looking at. Are they watching a Hitchcock movie? Or waiting on the last lotto number to drop in? Or just really, really busting to pee?

And then there was this cute-as-hell little money bank that I desperately wanted to buy. When you put your money in the businessman's head, the hot dog vendor hands over the hot dog. Seriously, how cute is that??
But it was made from cast iron. I could barely lift the thing. Let alone ship it back to Australia with me. Shame. I pouted about that for a while.

These next items were intriguing but there was definitely no chance of them being slipped into my suitcase for the ride home.
Those of you familiar with The Bloggess will no doubt recognise this as a field of poor, neglected Beyonces.

And yes, these chickens will cut you. 
(Did you notice me wearing the sheepskin coat in the previous photo? That belonged to my lovely friend Lee Ann, and I'm so lucky she loaned it to me, because I was woefully underprepared to wander around outside in -2C weather. There was ice on the ground!)

Did I mention that this place is full of just plain weird stuff that defies description? This next photo definitely falls into that category.
It's entire purpose seems to be to enable juvenile-minded people such as myself to take a series of rude photos. But seriously, if it was you, you would have done just the same thing, wouldn't you? Of course you would.

And after all that absurdity, now I want to share with you my favourite photo so far.

I took this photo of the sunrise at Badin Lake.

Those of you who know me well have just gasped twice. Once at the sheer beauty of the photo, and second at the idea of me even being conscious at sunrise, let along taking photos. Well, I was, and I did, so there. With a view like that, who wouldn't make the most of every day?

That's about it for my travel tales today.

I am writing a post in my head about the wonderful (and bizarre) food I've encountered, so stay tuned for that soon!

Friday, February 1, 2013

On being a writer

So, as you know, here I am in Los Angeles, having my "change of scenery" and it's wonderful. It's really, really wonderful. The weather is brilliant (although a little grey today), my temporary home is cute and comfortable, and I've been able to do plenty of things. I haven't been playing the tourist, except for my trip last weekend to Texas which I talked a little about on LoveCats and will probably say more about soon. Instead I've just been getting to know my neighbourhood and working my way through the various restaurants and coffee shops around here, one at a time. (I'll do a post on my favourites, foodies, I promise.)

My 'hood -- Venice Beach. The view the other direction is less . . . sophisticated. :)
One of the things I decided on the way over here, was that if anyone asked me what I did, I'd say "I'm a writer"*. Usually, that's not what I say. I talk about my "other work" and, depending on the person and the situation, I might mention that I also write. It's interesting the reactions I get from people when I do say I'm a writer or when someone else tells them. Thankfully, most of the time it's positive. But, I have to say, the most common response from people in Australia is incredulousness. "Really?" they say, as if I've announced that often like to make tiny tutus for penguins out of recycled plastic. Then, one of two things generally happens.

1. They ask me what I thought about Fifty Shades of Grey.
2. They ask me how much money I earn/how many books I've sold.

Often, both of those things occur, sometimes in different order, sometimes simultaneously if I'm talking to more than one person.

You know what I'm noticing? It's different here.

Even in shops, it's different.

People aren't incredulous, they're impressed. There's a difference.

And they ask different questions. They ask interesting and interested questions. Like:

1. What kind of writing do you do?
2. Who are you published by?
3. How do you write? (Like, what kind of routine do you have?)
4. How do you write? (Like, are you a plotter or a pantser?)
5. What did you think of Fifty Shades of Grey? (There's no escaping that one, I'm afraid.)

I'm not declaring this a scientifically valid study of the differences between Australia and the US (well, LA, really, which is different). There might be much more to it. Perhaps because I've "decided" I'm a writer while I'm here, I answer the question differently, more confidently, which prompts different responses.

Maybe it's because LA is the mecca for people wanting to pursue creative careers. (The bartender at the bar I went to in Santa Monica last week clearly belonged on primetime TV. Or a Calvin Klein billboard. *fans self at the memory*)
Emmie woz here.
The picture above is of me at The Oasis in Austin, Texas. I wrote "Emmie from Australia" on the wall with a heart and a kiss. Because if you're going to publicly claim to be a romance writer, you've got to go all the way.

More travel stories soon..

*In a little test from the universe, the first person I practiced this on was the woman I was sitting next to on the plane from Australia. We talked about my writing and various topics until, just about to disembark, she mentioned that she worked at a large IT company doing the kind of work that made her a perfect potential client. If only I'd spent that time talking about employee engagement instead of the publishing industry! I'm sure it was just sent to test my commitment to my new resolution.