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December 1, 2016

1 month in a backpack

I'm off on my summer trip in a week, so it's time for me to wax lyrical about my packing again. I'm headed to Cuba (via a day in Mexico City), Playa del Carmen and Cancun in Mexico, Antigua in Guatemala, and then up to NYC, because I just love to torture myself with temperature extremes.

Image sources at Polyvore. Note these aren't the exact items I have.

When I need to consider packing for several seasons on one trip, I generally plan for the most contrasting weather/situations I'll be in, and then mix and match in between. This time it's the warmth and humidity in Cuba vs. really cold and possibly snowy in NYC. Packing has been a lot easier than last time, as I won't have to dress as conservatively in hot weather, and I don't have to pack smart clothes for hospital.

These worked for the last trip, so I'm packing the same. My friend is actually bringing my wool coat over from Sydney when I meet her in Cancun, which is really helpful. I know it would be more practical to get a down jacket that packs small to wear under my parka, but what can I say? I'm vain.

Skinny jeans for cooler weather, rayon drape pants for hot weather. I considered denim shorts, but I find them kind of uncomfortable and they're heavy for what they are.

Two t-shirts to wear for warm/mild weather, and one long sleeve top for NYC. I'm taking a risk here, but I'm banking on the fact that I'll be wearing my merino thermal underneath and I won't have to wash it.

A dress! The main lesson I learned from last time was that I needed better clothes for hot weather, and my smock dress is my best outfit for it. It's pretty short but neither Cuba nor Cancun call for more modest dressing, so I don't think I'll offend anyone.

The #1 enemy of light packing. I deliberated over taking any number out of four pairs: Chelsea boots, sneakers, sandals, and Doc Martens. I'm only going to take the Chelsea boots, which I'm a bit nervous about. I ruled out the sneakers because they didn't really give me that many benefits over the boots, as I'm not doing anything too active and also because they're not as waterproof. I did want to take the sandals for the beach in Mexico, but I figured flip-flops (which I always pack, if only for shared showers) would do the same job. Docs I really strongly considered taking for NYC, but they're not worth the weight/inconvenience at airport security to just wear for a quarter of the trip (I learned the hard way to not wear them in hot weather). While my Chelsea boots hold up to wet weather well, I'm a little concerned about how cold my feet are going to get. My plan right now is to wing it, and if the cold becomes unbearable, buy a pair of wool socks in New York. Fingers crossed I come back with my feet still attached!

Scarf, gloves, and hat which I'll need for New York. Even though they'd be easy to buy once I get to there, I dislike the idea of buying more winter accessories that I never even have to use in Sydney. Sunnies and watch self-explanatory.

This is probably the most brutal I've ever had to be with packing, because I want the first part of my trip (before I get my coat) to be carry-on only, and airlines flying out of Australia are pretty strict on carry-on weight (7kg). I'm actually going to be wearing the cardigan, one of the t-shirts, jeans and the boots on the plane, so it's not a lot of clothing to pack (although my bag always ends up filling up with random bits and pieces). Trying to get my liquid toiletries into a sandwich bag was even harder, I'll probably do a whole other post on that.

November 30, 2016

Summer is coming

Whitepepper dress / Saltwater sandals / Evolution tote / DW watch*.

For a Sydneysider, I'm really bad at dressing in hot weather. I overheat and get sweaty really easily. This outfit is the only one I have for when it's more than 30C and I have to walk around outside. The style of this dress allows for maximum air circulation. I bought it on a whim three years ago, and it's been a summer staple since then, so impulse shopping does work out sometimes.

November 28, 2016

An overcast picnic

Every time in the last few weeks we tried to plan a beach day or a picnic for what was predicted to be a sunny weekend day, the weather forecast would immediately turn to rain. So we would cancel the plans, to find that it wouldn't rain at all on the day. We'd finally had enough of it, so we decided to risk a picnic on Sunday, despite the 40% chance of showers.

I'm yelling "look candid!" as I take this shot.

We were in the Botanic Gardens, where we always go for a picnic.

Over-ate as usual.

While it was overcast, it only briefly sprinkled very lightly, so it was a good call.

After a while it did get a bit chilly, so we packed up and moved on.

November 23, 2016

Reading spree

I've been on a total book binge since exams finished, since I'm finding it easier to concentrate on new books now I'm not that stressed anymore. I have this thing for reading in cafes, which is costing me a lot of money, so I'm going to have to try and do it more at home or in food courts...

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta. I've enjoyed most things Melina Marchetta has put out, so when I saw it was detective-in-London themed I went and bought it, no questions asked. It's really good - if you've read her other books, you'll know she does twists well. As with most of her writing, it also deals with teens and cultural identity. The romantic relationships in the story didn't quite click with me - they seemed a bit forced.

Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford. A rare non-fiction book. Clementine Ford's articles always make me thump the table and exclaim yes, thank you, so I wanted to support her book. The book is good and full of zingers, although dare I say the pop culture references got on my nerves a bit. I agree with everything she says so it would be interesting to hear the opinion of someone whose feminist views differ to mine.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. Set in 19th century Iceland, it's about the last days of a woman to be executed for murder. The plot was a bit predictable, and I wouldn't read it again, but the writing was very atmospheric and I liked the setting.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. This one was Booker shortlisted this year. It's from the perspective of a young woman who works at a juvenile correctional facility, and she's definitely one of those characters who are supposed to repulse you. The plot gets almost bizarre, actually. It's a good character study type novel.

Hot Milk by Deborah Levy. Another from the Booker shortlist. It's about a young woman who's travelled with her ill mother to southern Spain for treatment. It gets really weird and surreal, I'm sure there's a lot of symbolism I'm missing. Not really up my alley but I can see how it's objectively well written.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. Set in the 19th century, an English nurse is called to Ireland to monitor a child who is supposedly surviving without eating. Straightforward but I enjoyed it, it was pretty gripping. It also had interesting views of Irish Catholicism through the lens of an English character.

The House of God by Samuel Shem. I've not really read those books people tell you to read if you're going to be a doctor - this one is my first. It's a satirical and sarcastic fictional account of a doctor's intern year. A lot of it rings true, including unfortunately the way that the more jaded doctors talk and think about patients. But I found it hard to keep track of the characters and it went around in circles, so I was kind of bored.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It was almost set up to be a potential new favourite book. Dracula/vampire themed, dark atmosphere, travel scenes (Eastern Europe has now been bumped up my list), a historical mystery... at 75% of the way through I thought it was going to join my list of top books. But the twist and resolution ended up being kind of lame. I would still re-read it for the first part of the book, though.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. An academically gifted but socially awkward teen and her professor father move into a new small town for her final semester of high school. The book has an interesting structure. There are "visual aids" (drawn by the main character) and the writing is littered with in-text citations for her references (not all of which I got). It spends a while setting up its mystery, and then everything is crammed into the end of the book. It gets weird, but it was enjoyable to read overall.