An In-Depth Review

Airbnb reviews only permit 1000 characters. So here’s my full review of a place I stayed in Cairns, Australia 🤪:

“I’ve been a poor university student for the last four years, but staying here is the first time I’ve felt like it.” —a fellow guest at Anita’s Airbnb

Internal tension is not, generally speaking, what one seeks in an Airbnb. Yet during my 6 days at Anita’s place in Cairns, I found myself not only experiencing a profound sense of dissatisfaction, but somehow enjoying that dissatisfaction and feeling grateful for its lessons.  

Anita’s place somehow provides slightly-above-spartan accommodations at slightly-above-discount prices, but in a hodgepodge of uncanny ways. I’ll give an example: The room boasts plenty of wall outlets — at my count 6 — which is very desirable in an Airbnb room. However, the majority of these outlets are placed above the head on one’s bed, and at no point has any person said “I’d like to plug in my devices right here, above my pillow, with no location to place the device while it’s charging.” The shower, too, isn’t quite wrong but seems like it was designed by someone who had heard what people like in a shower but never used one themselves, as it boasts beautiful tiling, ample hot water, and bountiful nozzle settings, but also dampens your towel because the only place to hang it is on the inside of the shower door. The outdoor dining table is a lovely place to chat with a fellow traveler on a warm summer evening, yet this delight is diminished by the requirement that you wave at the automatic light sensor every 30 seconds to turn it back on. 

If there’s a word to describe my stay at Anita’s in Cairns, that word would be it: “uncanny”. It’s uncanny that I would find the mattress perfectly comfortable, yet also awaken with a hip pain of a sort that I’ve never before experienced. It’s uncanny that I would have a long conversation with the host about making the internet work in my room, which it definitely didn’t beforehand and after which it somehow magically does. It’s uncanny that the Airbnb listing includes twenty-three (23) rules which one must follow during tenancy, and then posters and text messages upon arrival add an additional three (3), and yet existing in this space gives you the sense that breaking the majority of them would simply be ignored. As I was leaving, I snuck a glance inside Anita’s room, and was shocked to see it resembled a security office. If she has three screens of cameras, all presumably monitoring and recording, then why are the drying rack and kitchen trash can always overflowing? I suspect the only rule that Anita enforces strictly is the “absolutely no guests” policy, but somehow also get the niggling suspicion that her uncanniness would give me the thumbs-up on updating my Airbnb reservation from 1 guest to 2 as I’m walking home with a sweetheart in real time.

Anita’s Airbnb gives the impression of an earnest person really truly trying their best but tripping in random ways. Sure, she spams you with a bunch of tour and travel options immediately after you make your reservation, but after that initial volley it’s not like she’s pushy – or even brings them up again. Yes, she’ll make a bit of huff when you’re on your phone at 8:58pm and quiet hours start at 9pm, but it’s the sort of gentle and direct huff that makes you wonder whether you actually were being too loud for even pre-quiet hours. And then, when you’re quieter, it’s somehow totally fine that you talk until 10. The place is spartan yet functional, and isn’t functional what matters? If travel is about exploring a new place, and therefore yourself, isn’t it appropriate that you finally feel like a poor university student if that’s what you are? Still, it’s not particularly pleasant to feel like a poor university student, so I give Anita’s place three stars. 

Traveloog Friday 191101 (Redacted Version)

Start: [Redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: [Redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • [Redacted] gave me $2 as backpay for [redacted] favors. Hilarious. 
  • Made [redacted] by snapping my fingers. 
  • Dinner with [redacted], wherein we discussed books and ideas and art. I like her. 
  • Cuddled with [redacted] for a long while. Watched her cook dinner, too. Both very intimate. 
  • Lots of [redacted]! Great. YAY! 

Real Realizations: 

  • [Redacted] is not withholding. She does the thing she wants to do irrespective of what someone else wants. That’s self-driven and irrespective of someone else’s desires, but it’s not withholding. 
  • The feeling of something being meaningful is just that—a feeling—and could be wrong. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • [Redacted] talking with me: 
    • “How late are you staying up? I casually need one or two more shots.” 
    • “What?! You alcoholic!” 
    • “Of photos! 
  • The feeling of something being meaningful is just that—a feeling—and could be wrong. E.g. “When I nerd out about something for hours and hours, it’s not necessarily because it’s the most important thing in the world. It’s because I get pleasure out of the feeling of nerding out.” -[Redacted] 
  • “Sometimes I feel like life is just a series of obligations that repeat every day.” -me 
  • “I hate being organized when I don’t remember where I organized things.”-[redacted]

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • [Redacted] work. 37 mins, nothing happened, [redacted]. 
  • Completed my daily writing. 
  • Completed my travelog. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Boudin balls at Buffa’s. Delicious! 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Sleeping well! In bed to sleep before 1am.

Travelog Thursday 191031 (Redacted version)

Start: Parked outside [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: sleeping in [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Wandered around New Orleans dressed in a couple’s costume: I was Draco Malfoy & Smidge was Dobby the House Elf. 
    • Drunk wandering is just as pointless as I remember. Trying to find that friend, avoiding places with covers, etc. 

  • Felt twice like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. 
    • When [redacted] and I were playing connect 4 as the night was coming to a close.
    • Wandering down Bourbon street sipping a delightfully fruity daiquiri.
  • Talked through [redacted]’s life goals and how he should choose a career by ability, not passion. 
  • Did two [redacted]. 
  • Phone with [redacted] to tell her I [redacted]. 

Real Realizations: 

  • People are the same everywhere. The difference is interests, topics, opportunities. Same people, tho. 
  • Sleep deprivation keeps people wired and happy. 
  • I don’t enjoy dressing up for Halloween. Too much effort, too little value. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “I’m gonna be a cow.” -[redacted]. 
  • “The first thing to attack in your enemy is their communications.” -[redacted]. 
    • I like this quote for its wide-ranging reach. Whether playing chess or in war with a country, the first thing to destroy is their ability to think. You knock out that ability by knocking out communications—between them and another or within one, itself. 

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Work for [redacted]. 
  • Did [redacted]’s dishes. What a gift. 

Disappointing doldrums: 

  • [Redacted] with [redacted] feels oddly fractured again. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Cooked a steak and sweet potatoes for [redacted] & me. 
  • Chicken tenders at dinner. 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Hanging with [redacted]. 
  • Sleeping late. 

Travelog Wednesday 191030 (Redacted Version)

Start: Parked outside the New Orleans African American Museum, Governor Nicholl’s Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

End: Parked outside [redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana.

Real Realizations: 

  • Everyone’s self-conscious about something vis-à-vis their sex life. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “Sir, sir,” the older woman behind me in Walmart says. “Yes?” I reply, removing a headphone. “You have nice looking legs.” “Thanks, I appreciate that,” I say and then feel incredibly uncomfortable. 
  • “You can sweat on the inside, just don’t sweat on the outside.” -[Redacted]. 
  • “You’re interesting, in a challenging way.” -[Redacted]. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Call with [redacted] to reorganize his working life. 
  • Call with [redacted] for fun. 
  • First [redacted]. With [redacted]. 
    • [Redacted] with both [redacted]. 
    • Gave [redacted] while [redacted]. 
    • Playfighting / [redacted] with [redacted]. 
  • [Redacted]’s stories: 
    • Stealing $1,100 from a movie theater by dropping the $100 bills into a big gulp cup. 
    • Smuggling drugs into prison as a guard. 
    • Stopping 3 kids from stealing his car stereo & dodging a bullet in the process. 
  • Awake till 5am for the third time in New Orleans. It was 6am, this time. 

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Showered at Planet Fitness. 
  • Bought steaks from Walmart. 

Disappointing doldrums: 

  • The death ritual. Well structured, good concept; lacking in execution &/or details. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • First muffaletta! Yum. 
  • The stew that [redacted] made. That chick can cook! 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Nap tomorrow?!?!
  • Rocky Horror tomorrow?!?!
  • More [redacted] with these great people?!?!

Travelog Tuesday 191029 (Redacted Version)

Start: [Redacted], New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: Parked outside the New Orleans African American Museum, Governor Nicholl’s Street, New Orleans, Louisiana

Exciting Events: 

  • None to speak of. 

Real Realizations: 

  • All the thoughts that bubbled up as part of watching the comedy special Nanette. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • This dialog:
    • Me: “I’m doing a couples costume with my dog: I’m Lucius Malfoy and she’s Dobby the House Elf.” 
    • [Redacted] (Former college classmate): “That sounds exploitative.”
    • Me: “Yeah, I’ll have to watch out for the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare.”

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Vaguely disappointing [redacted]. 
  • A bit of [redacted] work. 

Disappointing doldrums: 

  • Didn’t love [redacted]. Enjoyed talking [redacted] though. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Pizza & fettuccine in New Orleans again.
  • Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.  

Alluring Activities: 

  • Work.
  • Date with [redacted]. 
  • My death ceremony. 
  • Getting out of New Orleans. 

Travelog 191027 (Redacted Version)

Start: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Happened upon a New Orleans parade! They’re called “second lines”, and are essentially the parade of people behind the typical parade. 
    • Mine was for the Black Men’s Labor Union. No, it wasn’t a protest or a strike; just a parade! 
    • Later in the evening, overheard another parade. These things are everywhere! 
  • The outfits—absurd! Straight out of the ‘20s. 
  • Happened upon a birthday party on the sidewalk. Felt odd to this CA native. Seemed commonplace here. 
  • Wrote about my time in New Orleans & relationship to partying. 

Real Realizations: 

  • For a celebration to matter, you need something to celebrate. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “It’s the universal New Orleans excuse for being late: “I got stuck behind a second line.” -[Redacted].

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Half-an-hour phone call with [Redacted]. 
  • Watched a few more episodes of Bojack Horseman. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • “Shrimp po boy on french, dressed with everything.” 
  • Fettucini alfredo & pizza 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Getting back to the grind.

Travelog 191026 (Redacted Version)

Start: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana. 

End: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “Have you ever had a New Orleans sweet potato? You don’t have to add anything. They come out the ground sweet.” -[Redacted], my waiter at Willie Mae’s Scotch House. 
  • “I wonder if a Chihuahua with Parkinson’s just doesn’t move.” -Me. 
  • “People in New Orleans all get along. If you come to New Orleans and you can’t get along with anybody, there’s something wrong with you.” -[Redacted], my Uber driver. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Awoke at 1pm. My first Day in New Orleans and I was out til 5am… 
  • Wrote a reply to [redacted] letter. 
  • Ate incredible soul food in the Tremé district. 
  • I asked an Uber driver how the city is different after Katrina. He said “it’s not.” And pointed to a pothole that’s been here since before the storm. He evidently isn’t impressed by any political change. 
  • [Redacted]’s after-party
    • Apropos of nothing, a man [redacted] on the couch next to me, 
    • I ask a woman why she spends time around these people. She says, (paraphrase) “because all the women tell me I’m beautiful.” 
  • Halloween party with intense [redacted] demonstrations (like [redacted]), where the band played Pink Floyd for an hour. 
  • Video call with [redacted] both right before he went to bed (my 9pm) and right after he woke up the next day (my 5am). 

Real Realizations: 

  • The people I’ve met here live to party. It’s cheap and exciting and pacifying and hollow. 
  • I’ve been [redacted] but all of it feels empty [redacted]. 

Commonplace occurrences: 

  • Completed [redacted] outline: another [redacted]. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Fried chicken and sweet potato fries at Willie Mae’s Scotch House, New Orleans. 

  • The best chicken tenders of my life, at Key’s Fuel (the gas station near my friend’s house). 
  • All That Jazz sandwich: ham, turkey, cheese, shrimp, mushrooms, and a white sauce. So good! Shockingly so! I expected it to be weird from the shrimp but it was not.
    • Everything I’ve eaten in New Orleans has been delicious. 

[Redacted]

Alluring Activities: 

  • Afterparty with [redacted] tonite. Do I go? It only starts at 2am… 

Travel Log 191025 (Redacted Version)

Start: Parked on a public street outside Walmart, West Houston, TX 

End: Parked on the corner of Marias & Governor Nicholls St, in the Tremé district of New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Went to a vampire masquerade party, last minute, on a whim. 
    • Carried a mermaid, because it was having trouble traveling on its own (the feet-together tail-hop was ineffective). 

  • [Redacted]
    • [Redacted]
  • [Redacted], Smidge used her pee pad! Yay! No pee on my bed! 

Real Realizations: 

  • Partiers go [redacted] HARD here. 
  • People in New Orleans put serious effort into their costumes. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “It is moister than an oyster.” – partygoer, on the copious amounts of rain. 

Commonplace occurrences:

  • Worked for two hours. [Redacted]. Yay! 
  • Phone calls with lotsa friends.
  • Watched the first four episodes of the final season of Bojack Horseman. 
  • Floofed Smidge in delight. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • A brisket-stuffed burger. Yum! 
    • The Louisianan cashier asked where I was from. I told him to guess. He guessed Australia. 
  • A [redacted] 4am slice of cheese pizza. SO GOOD. 

[Redacted]


Alluring Activities: 

  • Crazy New Orleans happenings! 
  • Letter to [redacted]. 
  • Outline to the [redacted] guys. 

Travelog 191024 (Redacted Version)

Start: [Redacted], Pflugerville, TX 

End: Parked on a public street outside Walmart, West Houston, TX 

Real Realizations: 

  • I hear men jiggle the handle before removing gas from cars and women don’t. HILARIOUS. Must research further. 

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “It’s hard to mend the relationship after being brutally honest to someone with low self-esteem.” -[Redacted]. 

Exciting Events: 

  • Worked for three hours. [Redacted]. Yay! 
  • Left Austin, heading toward New Orleans. 
  • Call with [redacted] today. Love talking to him. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Ham & pepperjack & mayo roll-ups. Yum! 
  • A glass of white moscato. Also yum! 

[Redacted]

  • [Redacted]. 
  • [Redacted]. 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Traveling to New Orleans. Seeing [redacted] & his crazy parties.  
  • Making t-shirts with [redacted]?!?!?!

Travelog 191023 (Redacted Version)

Start: [Redacted], Pflugerville, TX

End: [Redacted], Pflugerville, TX

Quotent Quotables: 

  • “Even god couldn’t take the Israelites into the promised land. [It means], ‘you can’t get people to do things they don’t want to do.’” -[Redacted]. 

Delicious Delectables: 

  • Made poached & scrambled eggs using my sous vide machine. Delicious!
  • Ate ham & pepperjack & mayo roll-ups. Yum! 

Real Realizations: 

  • Hourly work that’s scheduled every day [redacted] is GREAT. I could do this for 6 months [redacted]! This must be what it’s like to have a job. Except BETTER! 
  • In school, teachers train you to wait until the last minute to do things (because they change the requirements so often). Turns out this is actually GREAT training for the real world [redacted]!
  • When you care about someone (and ask questions accordingly), they think you’re down to earth. 
  • People like people who care about them. If you stay in control and focus on them, you can get anyone to like you. 

[Redacted]

Exciting Events: 

  • Wrote a new recipe for my cookbook.
  • Talked with [redacted] for a while.
    • Smoked a cigarillo together. 
    • Discussed our old highschool passions. 
  • Phone call with [redacted]. 
    • Just joked around a bunch. 
  • Phone call with [redacted]. 
    • Talked about serious stuff. And our [redacted]. 
  • Worked on [redacted] for 5 hours. Made [redacted]. 

Alluring Activities: 

  • Traveling to New Orleans. Seeing [redacted] & his crazy parties.