A Brief History Of (Inga’s) Blogging

I’ve decided I should take a little break between tales of our Vegas depravity, before I give my parents a heart attack. 

So I, like many of you, recently received my chipper ‘happy three year anniversary with WordPress’ note. I’m surprised at how quickly that three years passed.  July this year actually marked my 10 year anniversary in the blogging world. Yep, an entire decade of writing down life anecdotes for the entire internet to read.

In July 2003, I was a twenty-one year old receptionist spending much of the day surfing the internet because my job wasn’t particularly strenuous. I had a boyfriend, a purple V8 Fairlane, didn’t like wine, and was obliviously stupid in a way that only twenty-one year olds can achieve. I used to spend a lot of time on How Stuff Works, and one day their daily front page poll was: do you know what a blog is? I certainly did not know what a blog was, so I set about finding out. It turned out ‘weblogging’ was a fancy name for something we teenage girls had been doing on the internet since the late nineties. Somewhere in the murky, dank cellars of the internet moulders an enormous archive of angst-filled, hormone-fueled online journals, hosted on sites like Angelfire, Geocities and Alta Vista. Anyway, this rediscovery of a habit that sustained me through my teenage years filled me with a giddy sense of nostalgia (come on, when you’re twenty-one years old, five years is a life time ago), and I immediately Googled how to start one.

My search led me to 20six. I’m not sure what made me choose 20six as my platform, but had I not done so, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t be blogging today. The community was creative, talented and amusing, and it seemed like everyone knew everybody else. I’d always fancied myself a good writer, but the calibre of composition on that site completely disabused me of that notion. The majority of bloggers had several years on top of my tender twenty-one, and it showed. I hung onto their every word, and became starry-eyed when any of them deigned to award me a ‘sweetie’, or comment on my dismal, half-arsed entries. Those people made me want to be a better writer.

The site employed its very own den mother, in the form of an aspiring young journalist known as Jojo. Yes, we had a real, live human on hand to deal with technical issues and personal disputes – I guess she’d be called a moderator now. Jojo had a blog of her own on 20six, and the entire site perused rapt as she married her fiancé, became pregnant, gave birth to a baby boy and eventually moved on to pastures greener than 20six. A quick internet search shows she’s doing pretty well for herself these days, and that makes me happy.

Despite these personal touches and the close sense of community, blogging was largely an anonymous pursuit back then. There were no photos, no advertising, no RSS feeds, no tags.  It was easy to camouflage yourself in the World Wide Web at the time, because nobody had an ‘online presence.’ Social media was still a couple of years away. There was an epic uproar when 20six announced that they would be integrated into Google’s search results – most bloggers didn’t even let their friends and family know they were blogging, and the thought of being accidentally discovered was horrifying.  

Being a UK based website, by default the clientele was mainly British. After a year or so, the various locales would organise social drinks to bring online friendships into the real world. While I watched mournfully from across the pond, the UK contingent made real life friends among themselves – some of them even ended up marrying each other and having babies. I think there were about five Aussies on the entire site, and four of them were from Sydney, so there was scant hope of socialising outside of my computer monitor.

Sometime around 2006, 20six was sold. Consequently it turned to utter shit and the majority of users flounced indignantly out of there. Sadly, that’s where I lost most of them. I started blogging on the now defunct Whitepage, purely because it was touted as ‘Australian’, and I thought it might recreate the camaraderie of 20six – maybe someone would instigate social drinks I could actually attend. Unfortunately, Whitepage lacked the numbers to create a vibrant online neighbourhood, and to this day I’ve never had the opportunity to have Friday afternoon cocktails with my fellow blog buddies (interestingly, I still don’t know any Melbourne bloggers). My days at Whitepage were not wholly wasted however – I gathered up Snowy and Jane, and to this day they’re both terrific value.

When Whitepage became Blognow and also turned to utter shit, I shifted across to Vox. I notice there is now a Facebook page for the Vox refugees (check it out, if you haven’t already), and it seems many people enjoyed a similar sense of community at Vox to the one we felt at 20six. I missed that boat entirely, probably because the only blogs I followed were those of expat 20sixers – and they were spread all over the internet like shipwreck survivors tossed out sea, clinging to any piece of flotsam with a customisable template. 

One day in 2009, I was talking to my dad on the phone, and he suddenly blurted out “I have a blog.” This was somewhat startling, because I’d spoken to him several times over the preceding years about my blogging, and it was clear he had no idea what I was on about. “That’s great!” I replied, “what’s the website?” To my horror, he then proceeded to recite a Vox address. As soon as I hung up the phone, I logged into my account and frenziedly rendered my blog ‘father friendly’. While I’ve been restricted to father friendly blogging ever since, I feel the entire project has done wonders for a father-daughter relationship that was already pretty special. I’ve certainly learnt a lot about him over the last few years of our parallel blogging, and I’m sure he could say the same for me. (Whether he wanted to or not, is another story.)

As for my humble beginnings in the blogosphere…well, the people I ‘met’ on 20six stay with me to this day.  I don’t know where most of them ended up – in fact I don’t even know what most of them look like – but I still think about them often. I’ve kept tabs on a tiny handful, but I’d sure love to know what happened to the rest.

If you’re an ex-20sixer that’s managed to track me through five separate blogs – do say hello. I remember you.

Inga’s Travelogue: Viva Las Cirrhosis

Can I take a second to talk about drinks in Las Vegas? I mean, I don’t mind an alcoholic beverage or seven, but I was floored by what passes for responsible service of alcohol in the City of Sin. In Australia, the bar tenders carefully measure out each 30mL shot, charge you ten bucks and send your drunk arse home if you get overly jolly.  In Vegas, they will pour alcohol down your throat until you’re a lifeless, nacho-crusted corpse lying on the floor of Margaritaville. I mean they will literally pour alcohol into you – random women will come up to you, put a tea towel under your chin and upend a bottle of syrupy, fluorescent liquor into your face. And this is at lunch time! A gin and tonic consists of half a litre of gin and a slice of lime. If you ask for a cocktail, they’ll pull out every bottle from behind the counter and pour it all into a cup, and then plant another concoction in front of you before you’re even halfway through the first one. And then the tea towel lady comes back for another round.

Allow me to illustrate this with a badly edited home video – I should point out that this event was completely unsolicited, and there was a large quantity of alcohol in that cup (along with a lethal quantity of hydrogenated palm oil):

I had to dub over the sound with fun music, because my on site narration was completely unladylike.

Note: While I’m being light hearted about the following anecdote, I’m well aware that the situation we found ourselves in could have ended quite differently. We’re not normally this stupid, I promise.

One Sunday, we went to see Steve Aoki perform at a pool party at MGM Wet Republic (incidentally, this is where we found all the Flo-Rida bikini models). This place is Snob Central. Nikki concluded they must pay everyone to be stuck up arseholes, and I had to agree. After paying $40 for a locker, we went to the bar and ordered two vodka oranges from an unsmiling barman for an extortionate SEVENTY ONE DOLLARS. I almost sprouted an aneurysm, especially considering all the freebies we were becoming accustomed to, but it turned out the price was entirely justified.

We bought three drinks for the entire day – one each at 12.04pm, 2.54pm and 4.50pm (I know this, because even drunk Inga keeps her receipts).  We didn’t consciously leave that long between bar trips, but it took us two hours to finish each drink because they emptied half a bottle of Skyy vodka into each of those bitches. By the time 6.00pm rolled around and they herded us all out of the pool, we were two bedraggled, sunburned, inebriated little women. In my entire drinking career, I have never had an alcohol blackout….until Vegas. Neither of us remember getting back to the hotel; one minute we were clambering out of the pool and Nikki was gathering up various pieces of leftover clothing she fancied, and the next thing we knew, forty-five minutes had passed and Nik was sprawled prostrate on the bed while I shovelled chips into her mouth like she was a baby bird. I do remember lurching downstairs to the food court to buy sandwiches, and handing my purse over to the shop assistant to take out the right amount of money because all the bills look the same* after a bottle and a half of vodka. Several days later we found a video in our camera that we’d filmed in the intervening period, which filled in seven blank minutes but not much else. We still wonder what kind of spectacle we made, staggering wet, barefoot, and wasted into the hotel foyer at 6.30pm on a Sunday evening.

Argh blarrghh fnaarr woooo!

Argh blarrghh fnaarr woooo!

What we do remember:

  • There were Aussies everywhere. Nik got motorboated by one and another tried to hump me like a dog. You can always spot the Aussies overseas, because they’re fucking idiots.
  • Nikki got asked to join in a threesome with an Italian guy and a French guy. Neither of them spoke English, so you can imagine how that conversation went.
  • I slipped on some cake on the concrete and busted open the sole of my foot. It only healed last week, after I went to the doctor to get it dressed properly.
  • The merchandise stand sold out of shirts, so Nikki bought one that a staff member was wearing for $45. Here is how the conversation went:

Nikki: YOU! Can I have your shirt?
Him: No.
Nikki: I’ll give you twenty bucks for it!
Him: No.
Nikki: I’ll give you….Inga, how much do we have?
Me: Forty five dollars.
Nikki: I’ll give you forty five bucks for it!
Him: Ok, sure. [takes off shirt]
Me: Oh wait, we have sixty dollars!
Nikki: We’ll give you SIXTY dollars!
Me: NIKKI!!

Anyway, the point I was trying to bring home here was that VEGAS DRINKS BE CRAZY, but now I just look like an alcoholic.

Not tax deductible.

Not tax deductible.

PS. If you go here , you can see us very briefly at 1.10 at the bottom right. With the infamous vodka orange.

*This also became an issue a bit later, when I gave a taxi driver a $30 tip instead of $3. Why does all the money look the same?! The taxi driver gave me his number, though. Apparently big tippers get laid.

Inga’s Travelogue: Viva Las ARE WE THERE YET?!

Man it takes me a long time to blog about my travels. In my defence, I’m suffering through a case of the post-holiday sads. Crikey, reality is a bitch.

Anyway, Vegas is everything I’ve ever seen in movies and on TV, multiplied by ten. It was mindblowing. Which is fortunate, considering we submitted ourselves to 30 hours of air travel torture to get there. I’m getting better at travelling though, and Nikki and I were in incredibly high spirits on Wednesday morning as we were floating around Melbourne airport pondering when to start drinking. I was enjoying my last good Melbourne coffee, when Mum called to tell me she loves me. Whenever she or I leave the country, she calls to say one last ‘I love you’, as if she’s experienced some prescience that she won’t see me again. It tends to fill me with foreboding rather than warm fuzzies, but on the other hand I half expected to wind up dead in the desert somewhere too.

As it turns out, I wanted to die before we’d even left the country. We were delayed in Melbourne and again in Sydney It actually would’ve been quicker for us to drive to Sydney – up the coastal road. On the Sydney to LA leg, the drunk Aussie yob behind us decided to plonk his manky bare foot on the armrest between Nikki and I. We could feel it touching us so we were damn sure he could feel us too, and Nikki retaliated by colouring in his toenails with marking pen. As soon as he moved his disgusting clopper, we lifted the armrest up to prevent him putting it back – so he pressed our steward call button. Everyone’s mature on a 12,000km trip.

Ewwwewewewewweww

Manky clopper

We were delayed in Los Angeles too, because some dude called Obama thought he could show up and close down the air space. Who does that guy think he is, Beyonce? (We saw his cavalcade driving across the tarmac from the plane – it was nowhere near as gangster as I’d hoped.) By the time we touched down in Vegas, we’d been awake for thirty hours, and looked and smelled like we’d been crawling around inside a dead camel. In one hundred odd years of commercial aviation, you’d think they’d have made the process more passenger friendly by now. There is nothing civilised about spending fourteen hours jammed upright in a stuffy tube, marinating in the emissions of three hundred other miserable creatures. It’s barbaric.

This doesn’t mean we didn’t lose our minds when we collected our bags and saw this:

Now THIS is exciting!

Now THIS is exciting!

We successfully caught our first taxi and hesitantly paid our first tip (thanks for the hints, everyone!), then went to the check-in counter to join the first of what would be many, many, many queues in the States. Once we explored our room (no fridge, no microwave, no kettle, no tea and coffee, no biscuits – I feel like we’re a bit spoiled in Oz), we trotted downstairs for our first Vegas cocktail. Emily the bartender was a delight, so we bailed her up to explain the tipping phenomenon to us. She was thrilled to help, and explained where on the counter to leave cash tips, and printed out a fake receipt to show us how to add it to a credit card bill, and told us to wave a fiver at a bartender to get served first at a busy bar. We gave her a koala key chain for her efforts – and a tip, of course.

Everything after that was a kaleidoscopic blur of cocktails, shots, bodily contusions and the hottest damn men I’ve ever seen in my life. Seriously America, your men are STUNNING. This was Nikki and I the entire time:

Look at him..and him...and him!

Look at him..and him…and him!

I’m going to do a separate post about American men, because I think I’m in love with all of them.

We were very surprised that we didn’t see more gorgeous women. In Melbourne, we’re used to seeing flocks of sculpted, highly-preened, designer-clad women, so of course we were expecting it in spades in Las Vegas. We imagined we’d be confronted with an army of movie stars, show girls and Katy Perry, all pointing and laughing at the colonial girls with their funny accents. Instead we found gaggles of the most normal women you’ll ever see – muffin tops, dimpled arse cheeks bursting out of booty shorts, flat shoes and pony tails. It completely threw us for a loop, when we’d expected a swathe of high-maintenance bikini models straight out of a Flo-Rida film clip.

We spent our first morning in Las Vegas looking for food. We didn’t realise there was a food court in our hotel, so we traipsed all the way up to Paris before finding a little café to have breakfast. After gulping down the oiliest salad sandwich* I’ve ever eaten, we treated ourselves to an Eiffel Tower Margarita – and said a merry goodbye to our sobriety for the next week. We bought a CD from an indie rapper on the walkway from the Bellagio, then another rapper nearby gave us his album for nothing and told us to call him ‘Dark’, which made us mildly uncomfortable but he insisted it’s what his friends call him. Diplomatic as always, we threw in a couple of mild, inoffensive ’black’ jokes, and we bonded instantly. It’s difficult being unfamiliar with a cultural climate and sensitivities, but I guess that’s the beauty of exploring other countries.

This is what I call a margarita.

This is what I call a margarita.

Given that it was about 38 degrees C, we decided to hit the pool – and very quickly became acquainted with Rigo the Pool Bartender. Rigo is a 45 year old Latino with slick hair and an expensive watch, and he repeatedly plied us with free cocktails, bottles of water, called us ‘mami’ (which I enjoyed, just quietly) and told everyone we were from Australia. Everything he said was a carefully engineered concoction of English and Spanish – enough English so you understood the gist of what he was saying, and enough Spanish to appear mysterious and exotic. I also suspect it was a device to make sleazy comments without anyone calling him out. I adored Rigo, and on our last day we presented him with koala key chain for his trouble. He in turn gave us his email, phone number, and a pair of utterly poisonous cocktails to carry with us to the airport, thereby ensuring we had a blood alcohol reading the entire time we were in Vegas. Cheers, Rigo.

 

*American peeps: does sandwich equal ‘sub’ everywhere in the US? Where does one get the type of sandwich that involves two slices of bread?