HELLO INTERNET BOY #10: minimum level 

There are a lot of daunting prospects about being in a new city, and navigating the public transport is one of them. I don’t mind admitting that a lot of things about travelling give me anxiety, because I don’t really mind admitting most things, I’m an admitter. I feel like the things you can’t admit are the things that have power over you. I’ve become gradually more and more scared of travelling alone, as more and more time ticked past without me doing it. I always had a big plan to finish university and go back packing around Europe for six months, and even though I had the money all saved up for my ultra-cheap gadabout, it never happened because that money got spent on stupid life things like losing my job at Target, and stupid Patrick things, like producing a fringe play (badly).

I think because I am so incredibly bad at simple maths, I hold no faith in my ability to understand supposedly user-friendly systems, like public transport. Whenever anyone says ‘oh it’s simple, you’ll  get it’ I immediately think ‘you don’t know how bad I am at getting things’. So it was with the bravery of a man walking into a spider-pit that I caught my first train in Manhattan yesterday. It’s still cold and raining and I decided that spending the day at the Met was a good idea. 

The Met is this labyrinth of amazing things. I spent hours and hours wandering through history and art and just weird stuff. I got so enjoyably lost trying to find a bathroom. I found a really weird cafeteria and ate a banana. I tried to approach things systematically, working through Ancient Greece linearly, but after a while I just started taking side rooms, and from an exhibition of Chinese dresses, I’d walk into a room of old guns, and then a fully reconstructed Ancient Egyptian Temple. I could have bought a map I suppose, but sometimes it’s nice to not be organised.

I did a lot of research, I bought a thousand subway apps, and then, perhaps anticlimactically, I successful caught the subway. Four times in total, with a lot of confusing platforms and weird names, but it happened, and I am quietly chuffed. I have very modest fears and doubts, and I like destroying them systematically. In the words of Skyscraper Stan, ‘I’m gonna take this fucking city, just you watch me!’ and by ‘take’ I mean ‘navigate it at a minimally acceptable level’.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.


 I kept waiting for the moment when I got overwhelmed. I’ve had it on planes when I look out the window and feel small and far away, and I’ve had it at the beginning of important things, like starting university. I sat in the plane for hours and hours waiting to feel like it was all a mistake, but really I just watched movie after movie and felt tired. I was already stupidly tired before I started flying, from anxiety insomnia the night before, and a next-door house party before that.

I thought it might happen at LAX where I transferred. By this point i’d been awake for days, and being herded around through endless lines of customs and checkpoints and confusing transfer desks and hidden baggage claims seemed a recipe for nervous breakdown, a lab test to determine mental fortitude. At one bewildering fork in the line, I asked a guy I recognised from the plane named Sam if he was transferring to NY. We wandered around the maze together and helped each other find things, which was comforting. At one point he said ‘this whole place is like a rat maze. At Sydney we’re treated like cattle, but here, it’s rats’. He also felt the need to tell me that he reckoned the guy he was sitting next to was probably gay.

On the flight from LA to NY, I finally became so exhausted that I started fitfully napping, my head bouncing up when it fell forward. When we got to NY, I got my bag, said goodbye to Sam and then went outside and immediately got hustled by someone with a private cab. This had happened to me in Vietnam, and the same instincts, the desire to just let someone take me somewhere because I am so goddamn tired almost got me again. In the line for the cab, two of my sister’s friends recognised me and yelled ‘are you Patrick?’

It finally hit when I got to my AirBnB and my host emailed to say that he was stuck at work for an hour. It was cold and raining slightly and everything looked like old factories. I realise now that people live in hip lofts in those old factories, but it felt like I was abandoned in an industrial zone from the unspecified past. I felt overwhelmed because I was alone, and because I was tired and because I didn’t know where anything was or how it worked. 

I walked around the corner into a bar and I sat at the bar like I knew was a thing in America and asked what kind of beer the bartender recommended.

‘What do you mean, have you never had a beer before?’ he sneered.

‘OK, how about what beer do you recommend for an Australian who wants to try an American beer and has been on a 28 hour flight and feels awful?’

He recommended an IPA, and when he gave my change back, I suddenly remembered I had to give him a tip. The guy sitting next to me said ‘just give me a dollar’ and I realised he had an Aussie accent, and then I sat there and drank beer and talked to him and his sister and her boyfriend for a while and the panic ebbed away. Probably because it seems like there are Australian’s everywhere so I’m really not that alone, but more importantly because I’m pretty used to dealing with unfriendly hipster bartenders. 

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.


In a few days I will be on a plane heading to New York, that mythical city that lives in my television and dreams. There is nothing left to organise, there is nothing left to itemise on my little lists. My bag sits half packed, full of t-shirts and entirely necessary books. My carry-on luggage is full of special little vials of moisturiser and toner and witches brew in a clear bag, because otherwise my face will dry up on the plane and I’ll suddenly look my real age. I am in a place of surprising calm, because really I’ve done everything I can to organise myself.

I was nervous about a week ago, anxious about effectively slingshotting myself into a different world. I kept buying things like travel planners to try and calm me down. But it wasn’t until Michelle, who is one of the people I am going on a road trip with, sent through a schedule doc of where we will be road tripping, which included a whole range of OPTIONS and PLANS and LOCATIONS that I had to highlight, that I actually properly calmed down, because I was obscenely delighted. It made me happy. It made me realise I have things to do, scheduled things, official things.

I also have about a thousand things to do on the plane, which is actually kinda dumb, because my main hobbies in life are sitting still and reading/watching things. Back in university, me and my sister went to Dubai to visit our dad. I decided that because I was chained to a seat for twenty-five hours, this was a great time to read a whole bunch of dense experimental literature that I’d been unable to focus on. Funnily enough, I wasn’t able to focus on Kerouac’s lesser novels or Pynchon, and wound up watching the same episode of Friends over and over again. Julia and I then ordered a glass of gin and tonic each, which tasted like it was made by pouring gin into a glass and then explaining the idea of tonic near it. It was strong and bitter and oily, and I gulped it down. A few minutes later, I realised I was massively drunk – apparently alcohol is more potent in the air. I decided to go and do a wee, and when I got out of the air-toilet, I saw a woman doing squats and stretches.
‘It’s so I don’t get deep-vein thrombosis’ she told me, with a wink.
‘I might join you!’ I told her, and started squatting beside her, which she took in good grace. She then started giving me technique advice – ‘butt OUT, butt OUT’.
I suddenly and immediately sobered up mid squat, and kinda wandered to my seat, wondering if I was the biggest light-weight in the world, but when I got back I saw that Julia was uncontrollably sobbing, and when I asked why, she said she had no idea. It was just that kind of gin.

This post is generously supported by the Thiel Grant for Online Writing, and is included in a 50 part series called ‘HELLO INTERNET BOY’ ranging from March 2015 – March 2016.