Day 134 - The French Woman and the Photo

I found this old book. Too bad it's too big/heavy for me to keep.
August 19th, 2015

Bang bang bang “Wake up!”
Ripped from sleep, into the cold, sunlit room, I wonder what the urgency is. Oh right, they're delivering a couch today at 10:30.. are they early? No, they're not. Shimou had turned off the alarm in her sleep, again. I hadn't heard it this time. Close to 11, I jump out of bed to help quickly reorganize the room, and move the futon we had just been sleeping on. That’s one way to kickstart the day.

While it is uncomfortable to wake up that fast, I might prefer it because it gets you going without any time wasted. I've been listening to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius lately. He discusses the thoughts going through his head when he first wakes up and lies in his warm, comfortable bed. “but it’s cold! I’m comfortable and warm here,” to which he asks if it is his job to be warm and comfortable. Of course it isn't. Do bees complain about having to collect honey? Then why should we complain about having to do the work that man was made to do. Easy to say, difficult to live by. Well, ceasing all complaining, I mean. It’s easier to stop doing it out loud.

Street art!
I need to look into how much it will cost me to get a visa label. Thing is.. I forgot my visa at home. I'm not entirely certain I need the label. I'm hoping it'll only cost around $20, but it might be as much as $60. Hesitation… To those with full time jobs thinking “pff, $60? Just pay it.” Uh, yeah, no. That’s like 2.5 days at a hostel, 5 meals, or 3 weeks worth of Perth transit. It pains me to spend anything, so $60 feels like a knife when I'm living on borrowed cash. I’m stealing from my future self to enjoy today. Optimally, I should have come to Australia after China so that I’d have the money, but that wouldn't have worked with the timeline.

When we had taken the train into town, there were only three other people in our compartment - three loud idiots behind us. I saw a video of what the Australian idiots sounded like, and didn't think they actually existed. Thank you strangers for proving that you do, in fact, exist. I can feel my cortisol levels go up - the stress hormone. I take the opportunity to use breathing to deal with and resist, the feeling. I refused to let them affect my decisions or actions.  High school had plenty of idiots like this and I’m waiting for them to start bothering us, which they never do.

Don't worry, buddy!
You'll make some great sushi!
Off the train and onto the tram, we go a little further than we were supposed to because I was distracted with looking up where we should go. This works out because we stumbled across a couple cafes on a side streets, and discover another laneway full of artwork. We grab coffee and a snack at Stax cafe. It’s decently priced, and the playlist is fantastic. Shame that Shazam and Soundhound both fail to tell me what the songs are. I snap a picture of the cafe, resulting in an older french woman to get mad. “Did you ask permission to take photo?” She interjected with a thick accent

I didn’t, and I figured she was just upset that she was in the frame. I don't want her there, she just happenstance. Whoops. After apologizing for taking a photo of her, I do some more work till close to when the cafe was closing, and go upstairs to the bathroom. The second floor has even more seating, which is made of cardboard with glass slates on top of them. I finish upstairs, and am about to snap another photo of something when the woman, apparently following me, starting getting angry at me, again, for taking pictures. Turns out she was mad at me for taking pictures at all. She continued to get mad at me while I tell her it’s only for personal use, which she says I still don't have permission for.

“You need to ask for permission to take photo!”
“Ok, I understand, but can you clarify what types I need to ask permission for? Is it for pictures of people, places, stores? What specifically?” I'm legitimately inquiring, not meaning any insubordination that may come across.
“Of everything.” she states. I smell bullshit.

Her friend comes in and the woman starts venting to her friend, three feet away from me, about how she doesn't know what I'm going to do with the photos. If this was in public, I would know she’s entirely full of shit. Since we're in a store, I don't know what the law would say. She doesn't appear to be the owner;  when I asked about the radio, she had to ask another staff member what the station was. It was a custom, paid station, which the owner should know they're paying for. What’s her deal.

Panorama of this extended God
I want to grab my stuff and get the hell out of there, but I consciously do it slowly, forcing myself to withstand the emotional discomfort of her emanating anger. Cortisol and adrenaline spike, both of which I’m used to resisting from my work with angry drunk men. We translocate to Gloria Jeans Cafe where I look up what the laws are around taking photos on Australia.

The general rules seem to be:
-If there’s nothing posted, it’s generally accepted that you can take photos
-If asked to stop, you should 
-If it’s visible from public property, it's within your rights to take photos of anything, supposing you’re not using a photo lens or other invasive device
-If you plan on using it for commercial reasons - this includes blogs, Facebook, or most online activities - you should have the permission of people in the photos if they're easily identifiable
-If everything is on public grounds, no one has any right to privacy from video or photographs; it’s basically considered public domain. This overrides the previous point.
-More in-depth reading here

The view from Gloria Jeans!
Luke had told us about a Japanese restaurant nearby that was good and cheap. I'm sold. There are two, and one is closer to us, which we assume is the one he means. It’s called Don Don, but doesn’t actually have any don. Only ramen. Well, we're here. Might as well eat.

Wanting a caffeine reserve for when I’m working, we stop at Giraffe Cafe. It has a Japanese feel to me, but Shimou says it’s more Chinese. I can't really argue, given that she’s lived in both and I’ve never even been. I chug the available water, and take our coffee away.

At the state library, I'm not sure if the coffees are allowed inside, but I'd brought one in before. Just in case, I time my entrance with a passing guy in an attempt to obscuring it from the guard's view. This fails because I had to linger for a moment within eyesight of another guard while I waited for the guy to get in front of me, bringing me to his attention. I then learned that coffee isn't allowed*.

Shimou and I enjoy our coffees out front of the State Library, talking about thinking. I’ve been told throughout my life that I think too much. I argue the opposite - if I think too much, then others don't think enough. 

The Chinese/Japanese Cafe
First off, who isn't thinking? Are the people saying this to me constantly walking around in a state of meditation with perfectly quiet minds? Doubtful. This means we're thinking about the same amount as one another, volume-wise. What’s the difference, then? Are they counting their steps or making sure they use their feet in the proper, alternating order while walking? Hardly. This means it must be the content, given that the volume is about the same.

Shimou suggested that I think about things that others aren't usually interested in. I don't see this as a bad thing. She suggested that they're thinking about themselves, while I, too, am doing that. I rarely think about things that are completely inconsequential to my life, though it may seem that way to some. I generally focus on how I can be more efficient, more likely to get where I want to go, more accurate in my understand - better in whatever possible way. I think about morality to make sure I act in accordance with who I want to be. I think about logic, psychological biases, the way people behave, and my own thinking not because I like the mental masturbation of it all. No, I do it because I want to be able to make better decisions. I do what I do because, to me, it makes the most sense.

Back to other people, I think most people don't like to exert the energy to think about these things. Maybe. One reason could be because of the same reason they don’t like to read. It’s seen as work because it’s been necessary for either school or work for most of their lives. It’s a chore - not something they chose or see the direct benefit of. In this way, I think school fails us, though I can't see a better way of going about it. 

Being a little shit, I took this from the street
a few weeks later. Fully legal picture, yo.
“Learning is lame” is the general feel I get sometimes. This is huge. If we only think when other people require us to, then that means we're not spending much time thinking about reaching our own interests and goals. We're using our best resource for others, and not for ourselves. Why should we use our best faculties only for other people?

We spend two hours working at the library before it closes. On the train, Shimou helps me work out some complex sentences. “I will come tomorrow if the weather is nice” is the sentence I try, which I can't make it through without pausing or stumbling. I know all the words, but remembering the proper order and pronunciation makes me slow down to the point of starting over. In mandarin**, the ordering is “I would come if tomorrow weather good.”

When we reach Glenhuntly, our stop, I have the hang of it, and come up with stupid sentences that I think are funny enough to help me remember words I don't know. “I win; you lose***,” “Chinese people eat everyone^,” then arguing “true / zhēn” while she argues “false / jiǎ.” 

“I would kiss you, but I can’t.” I say (wǒ yīnggāi huì qìn nǐ, dànshì wǒ bù néng)
“Why can’t you? No lips?” she asks
“No, I don't want to” I say (bù shì, wǒ bù yào)

Hey, at least it’s something. I’ve got a number of verbs and I’m starting to understand the basic sentence structures. A handful of verbs will go a long way if you know how to use them correctly, particularly “to eat / chī,” “to be / shì,” “to go / .” I’m thinking about writing a post on the basics of mandarin for anyone who is interested. We'll see when I can get around to it.

Editing Music: Potion by Canopy Climbers

*I don't see this as a moral lapse because I don't see drinking coffee in covered cup to be a moral act, despite being in a study location. Also, I can't remember the last time I've spilled anything in a cup like that. No harm, no foul. I suppose if I was more conservative, I would see it as an infraction against authority.
**“Wǒ yīnggāi huì lái rúgǔo míngtiān tiānqì hǎo”
***Wǒ yíngle; nǐ shūle
^Měi gè zhōngguó rén chī měi gè rén

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