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Blank Pages

I don't know where to start.

Actually, that's not true. I know exactly where to start: Australia. It's beautiful, here. For weeks now I've been playing in my head with the idea of coming back here when I know how to drive, of packing up a van and just driving through it, around it, trying to see how long it can take, how many times I can do it. I want to stop at every little town, and touch all the different colours of dirt and sand and rock. This country is everything I ever dreamed it could be, and I'm still only in Perth.

Perth.

Man, I'm starting to hate Perth.

Perth itself isn't really the problem, of course. It's just not a town for a woman like me. I can't drive, and most of the buses stop running at 6. I don't drink much, and most of the places to do things other than drink are closed at 7. It's a beach culture, and the beach is so far away from where I live.

I haven't been able to write about anything much at all with regards to travel, and it's been hard to articulate why. Part of it is that I've been dividing my energy - I've been writing about politics and religion in other places, and that's caused me to take the writing energy and put it there instead of here. But part of it, too, is that so much of my week is unhappy. My weeknights are very long, and very dull, and I can't really do much about it, especially with the nights getting longer. I could take a class, join a gym, find a group of like-minded people, but without a way of getting back here, to my tiny, drab, flat, I'd have to walk long distances, and I'm not sure how safe that would be after dark.

This isn't exactly the safest neighbourhood.

Ah, my flat. It's small. Very small. They call it a "bedsit" in Australia, which is a "bachelor" or a "studio" apartment. It comes in shades of brown and pink, and the environmentally-friendly lighting is bad for my eyes. If I sit at the table to type, I get screen glare, and the wee little table gives me shoulder pains later on. If I sit on the couch and lean back, I still get the screen glare, with added inability to find a place where there isn't also a light shining into my eyes. Occasionally I managed to get myself out and sit at the book store, latte at my side, and type there until the battery on my laptop runs out. Sometimes I don't even turn on the computer at all, I just sit in my flat and attempt to read a book. Sometimes I sleep.

I live for my weekends - I'm loving getting out of here. spending time at the beach, going to Freo, going to Rotto, checking out sand boarding. I haven't been back to the zoo, and I should go. I haven't even been back to South Perth, so poke in the shops there. I should enjoy this city for all it's worth.

But. But.

The job I've been at (which was supposed to be just for a few weeks) cannot or will not give me full time hours. And thus, my paycheques aren't enough. 50% of everything I make goes just to paying the over-priced rent on this tiny little flat. Perth is having a house crisis. If I leave here, I don't know where I'll go. I keep contemplating paying the full rent on this place while I'm travelling to my friend's birthday, while I'm poking through Poland and enjoying siestas in Spain, and I just feel tired. There's not enough money to do it, but I don't know how long it would take me to find a new place.

This place had 51 offers for it the day I got it. I got it simply because I was friendly to the people showing it, and I was there first, and made it clear I wanted it. And really, who wants to spend their day showing flats? They gave it to me, took my money (all my money) and now I spend my evenings staring at a wall and wishing it was the weekend.

My job has nice people working at it, but man it's dragging me down so much.

When I was a teenager, I was told "You only write well when you're depressed. I'd hate to see you happy - you'd probably stop writing."

I don't know who this says more about - me or the person who said it.

Lately I find I just cannot write. I cannot write about things that happened on the weekend, things that made me take a thousand photos, because my weeks are such incredible boredom. It's hard to recapture seeing dolphins, sliding down sand dunes, chasing kangaroos through the trees, when I come home from work and all that I see is that I can't afford to even buy more stamps this week.

I asked for more hours. They turned me down. I asked the temp agency for a week off, and then I want another job.

The temp agency agreed. They appreciated that I agreed to stay a week longer than originally planned so they could find enough time to get someone else in, but mostly I did it so I could plan a trip that would sweep the cobwebs out of my mind. I want, so much, to be able to write. To be happy enough to write. To write about all the great things that happen on my weekend, to talk about the chocolate factory and the Swan Valley, to share strange little things about Perth, to talk about convict-built buildings, and the ghoulishness of going on a tour of a prison.

I want to write about the Postcard Bandit, and how quintessentially Australian he seems to me.

And yet... it feels like even in telling that, I'm not telling the whole story. Australia has so many things about it I just can't write about yet.

Everything seems so nice until you look around and notice who isn't in the picture. Who isn't represented. Where the blank spaces are.

I want to write about the blank spaces, but I'm afraid. Who am I, some expat girl from Canada, a country that has its own blank spaces, to talk about it? Who am I to sound at all like I have an answer, that I know what the problem is, that I know how to fix it? Who am I, after all?

I don't think I have the answers, but my continually asking the questions is beginning to bother people. They don't want to talk about it, so they don't want to talk to me. I want this coming week to be over, and I'll sweep the cobwebs out of my head, and maybe then I'll be able to write about travel, write about the blank spaces, write about Australia.

I want to, so much. There are so many things to tell you, so many things to talk about.

Australia is a beautiful country.

I still want to walk into the desert and never come back.

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