May 25, 7 p.m. I double-check I’ve got what I need for my three weeks in Australia, I grab my bag and three letters to post, and walk out the door to the bus stop. I feel anxious because I haven’t ridden the bus in about 20 years. I don’t like riding public transport because many of the people on it seem grotty. They remind me too much of myself. I prefer to spend as much time as possible with better people than myself.
The first time I checked on how to ride the bus from 90035 to LAX, it took me about an hour to figure out the route and I was almost disabled by my anxiety. I had to digest an enormous smoothie and a protein bar for my anxiety to go away and then I felt quite capable of riding the bus.
My bag weighs about 30 pounds and I lug it down the street. For all of my previous trips, I’ve taken a taxi to the airport but indulgence costs about $30 and I can’t justify that lavish expenditure anymore. As I grow older and wiser, I try to accept an increasing amount of reality. Public transport is a part of reality that I need to start accepting for my life.
Frankly, because we’re among friends here, I’m surprised that the world has failed to fully appreciate my genius. I’m almost 48 and the world has yet to build a path to my door. I haven’t been lavished with great wealth and beautiful women for the profundity of my opinions. Shoot, if I don’t start get more of the good things of life pretty soon, say, in the next 35 years, heck, I’m just gonna settle down to the normal approach to life.
My scheduled bus is for 7:38 p.m. and I’m 20 minutes early and thank God, there’s a white guy sitting on the bus bench. We can band together, if need be, against the violence-prone third worlders. Oy, he does have some weird piercings and tattoos and he’s holding a skateboard, so he might not be the salt-of-the-earth middle American who can be relied upon in times of crisis.
I see the Santa Monica 7 bus coming way early. I board, pay the exact fare of $1.50, ask for a transfer, and confirm that the bus stops at Pico and Sepulveda Blvds where I can catch the Culver 6 to LAX.
I feel great anxiety that something will go wrong. My flight does not leave until 11:40 p.m., so I have lots of room for error. Everything seems to be going OK. The people on the bus aren’t disgusting. I don’t see many people I want to emulate. I don’t know if I see anyone I want to get to know. In my experience and expectation, the type of people you meet on airplanes are a much better sort than those who ride city buses.
After riding three buses, I get to LAX without incident. Everybody I ask for directions and assurance along the way comes through for me. The buses are clean. Nobody is disgusting. There’s a wholesome humanity to the experience. This part of reality doesn’t make me want to hurl. I can deal with public transportation. This is a part of reality that I can embrace and return to in the future. My high level of anxiety is not needed for riding the bus. I don’t have to be in fight-flight-or-freeze reflex. It’s not such a trauma. The only wound is to my pride. I just never saw myself as the type of bloke who rides a city bus filled with third-world types.
PRESENT MOMENT FEEDBACK: “That’s weird. Don’t smile like that when you’re on the computer.”
When I ordered my ticket online about a month ago, I saw that an American citizen needs to get a visa to visit Australia. I saw the option to get an electronic visa for $47.50 but that didn’t seem right to me. It was a part of reality that I wanted to ignore. Hey, I’m Luke Ford! Don’t bother me with these piddling details. I’ve got a plan to save the white race!
FEEDBACK: “You say you’re an anxious person but you are always making choices that would make anyone anxious. You don’t choose an easy gentle life. You choose to provoke.”
My time comes to see the Virgin America attendant. I present my American passport and she asks for my visa. Hey, doesn’t she realize I am Luke Ford?
I say I never needed one before. I guess this visa to travel to Australia is a post-9/11 development. I feel rising panic on top of my high anxiety. The beautiful attendant, I’d totally marry this type of woman if she were a traditional Jew, says she can get me an electronic visa.
The process takes about 15 minutes of her on the phone. I feel the sweat building on my face. I put down the book I’m reading on hijacking, and instead pick up a volume of the Talmud on idolatry. I figure that will help my chances. I have visions of not getting my flight and causing great disruption to my family’s plans.
Eventually everything gets sorted out and that leaves me wondering, why would a person pay $47.50 for an electronic visa when you can apparently get one for free at your airline desk a couple of hours before your flight?
I would rather sweat, panic and feel like a right wally for 15 minutes and save $47.50.
The flight leaves on time. I’ve got an aisle seat and vegetarian meals. I’m seated next to two blokes. There are no hot chicks nearby. I take a clonazepam and fall into a daze. When I come to, about 12:45 a.m. California time, I see they’ve brought me a vegetarian meal and it looks good. Even though I’m not hungry, I eat half of it. Then I pick up my phone and begin listening to Tom Clancy’s last novel, Command Authority, which predicts the current turmoil in Ukraine. I know the high-brow types despise Tom Clancy but there’s a lot to be learned from his books and they’re both great fun and undisturbing. Most literature disturbs you and therefore it is not great to listen to when you want to fall asleep. Clancy never disturbs so he’s my ideal late night entertainment when I’m yearning to sleep but my mind is taking me into disturbing territory so I want to distract myself from my natural patterns of thought.
The flight takes 16 hours to Melbourne. I don’t have any meaningful interactions. I don’t think I sleep. I get up every hour or so to walk around the cabin and relieve the pressure on the spine that lengthy sitting brings. I listen to about ten hours of the Tom Clancy novel (about two-thirds of the way through). I don’t feel mentally sharp enough to read or write.
About 5 a.m. Tuesday Melbourne time, about three hours before our scheduled arrival, I take a modafinil tablet, which guarantees I’ll be wide awake for the next 15 hours. So even though I’ve had a sleepless night, I’m alert and hungry to learn more about the world around me.
I’m pulled aside at Melbourne’s passport check and I sit a tad anxiously with a few other folks who’ve also come in for increased scrutiny before I’m waived through after ten minutes.
I’m seated next to two Asians on the flight to Brisbane. They go in and out of what seems to be Chinese and Australian. I enjoy the complimentary chocolate granola bar and a cup of coffee. The Asians buy this delicious nuts and pretzel package. I look at them enviously but they don’t offer to share. We don’t speak. I wonder if homogenous white and Asian societies have more social capital and if their citizens are more likely to offer to share their nuts with a stranger.
I arrive in Brisbane at 12:30 and family pick me up, hug me, kiss, rejoice over, and feed me an egg sandwich. We hit the road for Caloundra, an hour away. There we take a swim in the ocean before leaving about 3 p.m. for Tannum Sands (in Central Queensland, by the coast, 25 minutes drive from Gladstone), arriving around 8 p.m. Sixty years ago, my grandparents on my mom’s side owned all of Tannum Sands but with the decline of the generation, my family now only has little bits.
* You dramatically increase your chances of an untimely death by allowing certain wackos in your life. Be careful about whose posts you like, folks.
* Life is better for the average Australian than for the average American. I don’t think I would have said that ten years ago. There’s much more social capital here. 85% of the population is white, there’s one culture for about 85% of Australians. There is an ease between people you don’t have in more diverse countries such as America where blacks have their own culture, Mexicans have their own culture, university educated folks have their own culture, etc. In Australia, it feels like almost everybody shares the same culture, no matter how much they’re educated and how much money they make.
* When do I become such an iconic figure that I’m no longer offensive, just a beloved eccentric?
* I’m seeing here in Tannum Sands how owning a business and loving your wife and having a family, community, relations, predisposes one to a more healthy life than being a shock-addicted attention-whoring blogger.
* If I could just find an Australian-Jewish supermodel (with a rich and indulgent father) in the next two weeks, I’d be perfectly happy to stay in Australia.
* Like Diogenes looking for truth, I’m wandering around Tannum Sands trying to find people who give a stuff about the Alexander Technique. If I could give just 10-15 lessons, I could pay for my trip back here.
* Australia has become much more politically correct. I walk around Tannum Sands as I do in Los Angeles with my kipa on and my tzitzit down to my knees and nobody is rubbishing me.
* So there was this girl next door, actually across the street and two houses up from where I lived in Tannum Sands, and she worked in the Boyne Island Shopping Centre when I had the cleaning and gardening contract there in 1985, and this girl had a sister a couple of years younger, and I’d chat this girl up every day, but now she runs a shop and has some kids and a hubby and she doesn’t remember me and I felt like a right wally when I stopped by to say hi.
* I love offending people way too much. It’s self-destructive, it hurts people, why must I do it? Daniel says: “My theory: You inherited a tiny penis from your Chinese ancestor and feel the need to compensate by lashing out at everyone you deem a threat. It’s probably the underlying reason you have it in for black guys.”
* I apologize for over-sharing lately, but when I visit my family in Australia for the first time in 14 years, why do I keep pulling out my phone to check how many Facebook likes I have?
With my wonderful Aunty Linda. I have never ever known her to say the wrong thing. She’s a great model for how to put people at ease. She’s my mom’s sister. My mom died 44 years ago, but Aunty Linda has been a mother to us kids.
With my family in Tannum Sands.
* It’s hard verging on impossible for me to express care and concern and love for other people (aside from a girlfriend, then I have no trouble). I’m emotionally disconnected. I like being in Australia and seeing everyone. I feel a deep satisfaction but it is hard for me to shower people with love. I’m much more comfortable analysing things from a distance and then posting them on Facebook. I tend to pine for people who reject me. I pine for bygone days. Oy, these are all symptoms of avoidant attachment when I think I’m more anxious and possibly disconnected in my attachment style.
According to Wikipedia: “Fearful–avoidant. People with losses or sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence often develop this type of attachment and tend to agree with the following statements: “I am somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to trust others completely, or to depend on them. I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to others.” People with this attachment style have mixed feelings about close relationships. On the one hand, they desire to have emotionally close relationships. On the other hand, they tend to feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness. These mixed feelings are combined with sometimes unconscious, negative views about themselves and their partners. They commonly view themselves as unworthy of responsiveness from their partners, and they don’t trust the intentions of their partners. Similar to the dismissive–avoidant attachment style, people with a fearful–avoidant attachment style seek less intimacy from partners and frequently suppress and deny their feelings. Instead, they are much less comfortable expressing affection.”
Chaim Amalek: “And who created this “Facebook”? The tribesman Marc Zuckerberg, who profits from the social isolation and atomization of people like you. Well, stuff that Zuckerberg!”
* My family is so unreasonable and controlling. They won’t allow me to visit jihadi and bomb-making websites on their computer.
* I might move to Tannum Sands after all. The socialist Gladstone Regional Council offers free counselling through the Discovery Coast Community Health Service and they even do home visits for when you’re really depressed.
* I am currently redoing the Lord of the Rings in terms of my life. I am Frodo, Chaim Amalek is Gandalf, and who shall be the Orcs?
* I find it easy to feel a genuine interest in people when they display one in me, but when they don’t, I don’t.
* I say a lot of odd things that disturb people, inappropriate jokes, etc and then I feel bad that I bothered them.
* I don’t like being asked to smile for pictures or doing anything I find artificial (that does not include daily showers, brushing teeth, wearing deodorant).
* I want to devote myself to teaching Alexander Technique but I can’t find enough students to make a living at it, so I work regular jobs, but life is better when you can devote yourself to your passions and to helping people thereby. I’ve never excelled at doing anything I find uncongenial. I’m a passion person. When I can get passionate about something, I can do well, but otherwise, I’m not so excellent.
* When I see what my family has built, I feel like such a f***-up.
* It would be really easy to lose my Yiddishkeit if I lived here.
* Of the three kids, I am the most like my father.
* A lot of women dress like sluts and then get upset when you treat them like one. I used to have a therapist who wore miniskirts and would spend much of our sessions trying to pull her skirt lower to within 18 inches of her knee. How do you think that made me feel?
* Spending 4-5 days in a hospital room with an incontinent octagenarian wonderfully concentrates the mind on what’s important in life (family, relationships, social capital, savings, community).
* I notice that Australians have debt to their gills. People are maxing out their credit cards and loans to have the nicest cars, latest electronic equipment, big beautiful homes, overseas vacations, etc. Australia has not had a recession in about 30 years, has generous social services, so people are spoiled.
* Never trust a guy (a la George Bush) who says he is running for office because God told him to. He is in essence declaring himself to be a prophet and we Jews know that prophecy ended over 2200 years ago.
* I wish Australia or America would take in all of the white South Africans and Rhodesians. They are solid hard-working people entirely compatible with our culture and as things are going, they are going to be wiped out. It’s a shame they lost the will to rule. I hope white Americans don’t suffer a similar lack of resolve.
* People in Tannum Sands are even more sensitive to the cold than Los Angelenos. When the temperature dips below 65F, they start complaining.
* No kids in Tannum Sands seem to have Biblical names. They’ve all gone exotic (even though the place is 99% white).
* As part of practicing the 12 Steps, one gives up fighting anyone and anything. Yet I have many strong unpopular opinions on political, social and moral matters. So I allow myself to fight for them and express them at times, but I try to give up as much as possible throughout my life, the attitude of being at war.
* I found a small sand cliff over the ocean about three or four meters high and after checking out the deep waters below determined you could leap safely from the cliff but every time I tried, I lost my nerve and landed in the shallow water and soft sand, while my new friend Richard would leap out without fear. So I was right wally, but had a ball anyway, leaping about ten times, crashing and tumbling down with the wolf dog all over me. This is how a man should live — leaping off cliffs with a mate into deep waters knowing that the sand is soft if you lose your nerve and you ain’t gonna get hurt. Finally, I just lay on my back in the ocean and floated as the current turned me in circles. Everyone in Tannum is nice and friendly. They don’t give a stuff about race and religion and not even much about politics. There are no hate crimes. It’s a great place to raise kids.
Looking at my sister’s video of these leaps, I keep wondering who’s the pasty overweight old guy moving so awkwardly.
* I’m feeling a strong tug to return home to Australia. Living in the big city of Los Angeles is wonderful if you have stuff going on, if you’re making a good living and you’re building big things, but if you struggle to get by financially, it’s not so wonderful. So why not move back to Tannum Sands? I could get a regular job and find some Alexander Technique clients and write my heart out and interview people via Skype and get my books over the internet. Tannum Sands with its big blue sky and white puffy clouds and gentle beach and friendly people feels like paradise. I first got this tug when I watched the ABC (Australian) TV show The Straits a few months ago. I started writing all my relies about it, saying, hey, you guys live in paradise.
When I was younger, I was sure I was headed for great things, which meant living in a big city, but now I’m 48 and I’m obviously not great and not likely to become great, so why not accept that and live in paradise and enjoy walks on the beach and the company of people who look like me?
* I’m having a ball in Australia with my family, I’m totally getting spoiled and hardly lifting a finger for anyone else!
After I tried to help out with something and was questioned about it, I said, “I don’t know what I did but I am sure I did it wrong.”
Daniel: “That’s what you told your first girlfriend…and your second.”
* A group of teenage girls in bikinis on the Tannum Sands beach asked me to take photos of them. When I was done and rejoined my family on our walk, my dad said, “I just took a photo of you and I’m sending it to your synagogue.”
Chaim Amalek: “Wouldn’t you have been happier engaged in the daily study of the Talmud with your betters? Real Yidden have no time to walk along a wild beach when there are mitzvos to perform, and they certainly do not ogle shiksas for whom the very concept of tznious is as alien as it is to monkeys and dogs. You are backsliding, and I fear that the only solution is for you to move to Lakewood, New Jersey.”
* I’m the most like my father of the three kids. I’m the least practical and the one happiest spending all day reading books. My brother is the most sane and the most practical of us all.
* The last time all of us Fords (father, sister, brother and me) were all together was May 1990.
* A mate of mine says: “You might say I was a nothing who became a Buddhist. My wife is Buddhist so when she attends Buddhist temples or functions I tag along. Buddhism is a softcore religion. There’s no need to spend countless years studying tora as Luke did. You simply show up, give the Monk a donation, he sprinkles holy water over you and chants something in Thai. It’s quick and easy.”
* Chaim Amalek “Yes, do it. For you, the opportunity cost of leaving LA to try something new and promising is minimal. In fact, by some calculations you immediately come out ahead.”
Benny says: “You belong in Jerusalem. You can do all those things + your homeless and weirdo vibe will reverberate amongst the weirdo homeless there. Oh, and you can grow that ridiculous beard again.”
Chaim Amalek: “Were Luke to settle in Jerusalem likely he would become victim of the Jerusalem Syndrome and attempt to ride a donkey to the Temple Mount.”
* There are some Jews in Central Queensland but they keep quiet and often want nothing to do with this Orthodox Jew. Some have converted to other religions, others no longer consider themselves Jewish and have married non-Jews.
* Burlesque, Broadway, movies, TV, the NBA, porn, Facebook — why is it so easy for Yidden to keep the goyim entertained?
Chaim Amalek: “Probably for the same reason it is so easy to keep a cat entertained with nothing more than a ball of yarn.”
* My grandparents on my mother’s side once owned most of Tannum Sands. I enjoy walking around seeing streets named after that side of the family, including my mother Gwen.
Lewis Fein shared this FB status of mine: “#MansonSquare #DahmerBoulevard #GacyAvenue #OswaldPark”
Daniel writes: “Is there a Dead End street named after you?”
* Tannum Sands is where I decided in December of 1989 to convert to Judaism.
* I don’t tend to like women on my level. That’s a bit frightening. They’re too weird and damaged to commit to for the rest of my life. I want a bargain, not too old.
* I’m struck by how my capacity to care for myself dictates my capacity to care for others. I want to develop my COAL skills — curiosity, openness, awareness, and love — with myself and with others.
* When I lived in Tannum Sands 30 years ago, it never occurred to me to stay. I headed back to California to make a name for myself. Today I saw mates from 30 years ago in Tannum. One asked me this evening, “Was it all worth it?” They’re all married with kids and have beautiful homes.
* When I’m asked what I want to drink in Australia, I usually say, “Poofy tea” aka something fruity and herbal.
* How can I let go of that big whopping part of me that needs to change others to feel better about myself? I can’t even remember the last time I took unsolicited advice.
* I keep wanting to give advice but nobody wants to take it. Joe Queenan writes:
A few weeks ago, a neighbor I like very much came over for coffee. While inspecting the vast record and compact disc collection that takes up a large part of my living room, he suggested that I load all my CDs onto a server to clear away the clutter. He also said that I should convert my LPs to MP3 files and get wireless speakers installed in every room. I said thanks, those are really great suggestions. But I am never going to do any of this stuff.
My wife is always telling me that yoga will help relieve the pain in my lower back. She is almost certainly right. Yoga would probably be an immense help to my aching lower back. But I am never going to a yoga class.
People say that a man my age should be looking into annuities. Down the road, I won’t want to deal with the stock market’s volatility. They’re probably on to something there. A steady stream of income would make a lot more sense than a portfolio filled with volatile equities. But I am never going to purchase an annuity.
Prompted by the unsolicited comments about my record collection, I got to thinking about the last time I had taken anyone’s advice about anything. I couldn’t remember. It was certainly far in the past. Maybe when I was a kid hitchhiking at night and a trucker told me to stop accepting rides. At night. From truckers.
With my cousins:
Dinner with family:
With my family on my 48th birthday:
With my late cousin Linda Booth (on my right), and my cousin Andrea in Surfers Paradise 1982 for my sister’s wedding:
With my late cousin Linda Booth in 1982:
On Top Of Skypoint, Surfers Paradise:
My last supper in Australia.