Monday, December 22, 2014

Leave That, Take This

It's finally here, the day you've been waiting for. Your stuff is all there, ready to go, it's been checked, and double checked, and unpacked and repacked 100 times in the last month, trying not to forget anything. You're about to leave but your your backpack wont shut, somethings wrong, shoot it just closed yesterday, you've got to leave something, but what?! Well you've got to bring your laptop, that's obvious, and your boom box, 7 pairs of shoes, duh. What about the comb, I could always get a new comb right? Ya leave the comb, take the shoes it'll all  be good, now if I could just find some place for this acoustic guitar...

When you're getting ready to travel, one of the biggest obstacles to figure out is, "Exactly what the f$%# am I gonna need?" You may be only leaving for a few months, or maybe even a few years, but the struggle is always the same, unless you travel like the Kardashians you come to the conclusion that you need to carry everything you own, in one backpack. So how do you do it? Can it even be done? Obviously theres no right, perfect way to pack, it's different for each person based on their needs and how long they're going for, but there's definitely a WRONG way to pack. So heres my little list from experience of what is absolutely essential, and what you should just throw back in storage. 

Don't Bring: A Computer
Before I left for Australia I was considering bringing my brand new Macbook Air with me, though I miss the large spacious keyboard and the sexy sleekness, it would have been a terrible mistake. Though most of the people you meet while traveling are friendly and inviting, there's always bound to be some rotten eggs, and nothing gets scum bags frothing like that little white apple. It's also a matter of convenience, ya it's great to have your computer, but when your constantly moving around and staying in different places all the time it's just one more thing to keep track of, and one that you definitely wouldn't want to lose. When it comes to electronics and travel my rule is if losing it would make me cry, probably don't bring it. 

Do Bring: A Tablet
The irony of this is of course now that I'm blogging for Elite Daily it would be 1000 times easier for word processing purposes if I had my laptop, but assuming your just traveling and blogging for fun, tablet is the way to go. I purchased my refurbished Ipad Mini for about $200 and bought a bluetooth keyboard on groupon for another $25. That being said I would still be pissed if I lost it, but not to the extent of heartbreak with my Macbook Air. Tablets are super cheap and affordable these days, and with wifi compatibility, its all you need to skype family and friends back home. Plus they are small and pretty durable depending on the brand, I carry mine with me in my day bag and it barely takes up any space at all. For some great places to get a cheap tablet check out the groupon app, or visit (, they always have great deals on tech. 

Don't Bring: Your electric toothbrush
I made this mistake of originally bringing my $150 cybersonic, gum disease controling, 1000 rpm, tooth whitening system, with a total of about... one replacement head. My thought process was, "I'm going to a first world country, it'll be super easy to find replacements and charging will be a breeze." There's a few problems with that:
1. You never know where you'll be staying, I lived in a small beach town for two months where the closest grocery store was 30 minutes away.
2. Depending on where you stay you never know if you'll even have access to an outlet to charge that bad boy, and even if you do you'd probably risk infection by leaving it out in the open.
3. The rest of the world seemingly doesn't give a damn about dental hygiene. This is not a stereotype if it's true, yes the UK has the bad reputation but pretty much all of Europe needs to learn what floss is. So even if you do happen upon a bigger pharmacy or store, odds are they might not have your brand of 3000 watt replacement brush heads anyway.

Do Bring: Floss, mouthwash, etc. 
I didn't realize how important dental hygiene really was until I started traveling. This has nothing to do with the awesome people you meet and how great of human beings they may be, but for some reason the rest of the world doesn't seem to care about having pearly whites. Say what you will about Americans, we may be fat, dumb and lazy, but we paid $8000 for braces and another $2000 to get those SOB's bleached whiter than Michael Jackson! But in all honestly seeing the lack of care people give to their teeth that I've met, I'd implore you to stick with the basics but make sure you use all of them. Everyday I brush, floss, and use whitening mouthwash, and trust me, it makes a difference, and those throw away toothbrushes are cheap.

Don't Bring: A whole mess load of clothes
On the day I was leaving for my trip I felt pretty darn proud of myself. I had narrowed down my entire wardrobe for the next year (or more) to just under two dozen clothing items (between mostly shirts, jeans, shorts, jackets, etc.). I had read a lot of blogs about how to back, what to bring and what not to bring before hand and I thought I was pretty spot on. Five months later I've almost doubled my wardrobe, but I've been living in the same house so I haven't had to worry about stuffing it all back in my bag (it's not all gonna fit incase your wondering). The bottom line is no matter how little you bring, it's almost always too much if your bag is full when you walk out the door. It's super easy to find cheap clothes and cool tshirts in markets that you might have to turn down otherwise because you know you won't be able to fit them. My advice take half of what you think you need, wait a couple days then half that again. 

Do Bring: A whole bunch of undies (and socks)
The complete opposite of this holds true for underwear and socks. Not that it's impossible to find underwear and socks overseas, but I'm very particular about my underwear and socks, and just like back home they have a strange knack for going missing. Also, you'd be amazed how much wear and tear you can put on some undies and how many holes you'll get in your socks when you don't have a few dozen to "share the load" if you will. On a personal note I love atheltic briefs, they give you some breathing room, they're super comfy, and they dry extremely quick (something you take for granted until you have to use a clothes line.)

Don't Bring: Fancy hair, face and body products
Now I can't speak fully on this topic because currently I look like a hippie-jesus, cave man, but there was a time when I put a lot of thought and effort into my appearance. If you're only traveling for a few weeks or a few months, you can probably mostly ignore this advice, because you can probably scrape by using a little less makeup, or hair gel here and there. But for those of you going for the long haul I would advise that with the unpredictability of traveling, the desire to be perfectly quaffed and groomed, usually starts to fade away pretty quickly when you're on the road. This is not to say don't stick to the essentials (i.e. deodorant, maybe some foundation for the ladies) but realize in the grand scheme of things nobody really cares but you that you haven't washed your hair for a week. 

Do Bring: Sunscreen, bug spray, and first aid kit
If you are planning on traveling to Australia especially this first one is a MUST! They have a freaking hole in the ozone here (like a real one not an Al Gore one), and they charge $16 a bottle for sunscreen because they can. I was outside riding my bike one day for about an hour in a tank top, and I couldn't fully move my lobster arms for about 3 days. The other ones are just convenient because it's not something you ever think about until you need it. You never agree to take a weekend camping trip and your first thought is, "Oh I better pick up some OFF!". No, you get out to the bush and if no one has any to spare you become a human buffett.

Don't Bring: Thick Winter Gear
Now obviously Australia doesn't have a "Winter", like we know back home (I grew up in Chicago), but it still gets pretty damn cold, cold enough you want more than a hoodie. The thing is coats take up a lot of space in a bag and even if you do show up in the middle of winter they are only of use to you for a couple of weeks. The better thing to do is start familiarizing yourself with online community trading sites (kind of like craigslist, but less creepy). In Australia there are a few but the main one in Gumtree. Basically when you start to travel you realize there are a lot of other people out there just like you, who are willing to sell you slightly used goods for a fair price simply to break even. None of us are here to make money but I make a couple extra bucks for my travels to asia, and you get a sweet discount on a coat to go snowboarding with, easy. There's no reason to lug that stuff around with you for a whole year, when odds are you'll only need it for a small portion of your trip. 

Do Bring: Layers
When I originally flew into Sydney it was cold and disgusting out, I didn't have a proper jacket, but what I did have was a long sleeve shirt, a hoodie, and a windbreaker. Each individually not all that warm, but together their powers combined to be a perfect "make-shift" jacket for whenever the cold got a little out of hand. The  key here is trying to find stuff that's really all weather, so instead of one huge down jacket I could only use in 40 degrees or less, I had a big fluffy hoodie and an all weather wind breaker. Combined they basically turned into a full down coat but take up only half as much space. If you want other travel light ideas like this I'm a huge fan of REI stores ( They got me setup with a lot of travel gear and the staff is extremely helpful if you give them a general idea of where your going.   

For this last one I don't really have a don't bring to go along with it. But having bounced around from some hostels and share houses while traveling I can tell you this is one that no one ever mentioned when I was reading travel blogs and is highly underrated. 

Do Bring: A set of travel plates/utensils
Before I left I was in that same store (REI) in the camping department and I saw this really cool whole set of collapsable utensils, plates, bowls etc. that you could easily fit in your bag. I thought it looked great but was a little impractical, unless you were well... camping. This is the one thing I most regret not buying before I left!!! If you're traveling for a short time you'll be staying in hostels and silverware and plates are like gold! If you're traveling for a long time at some point you will probably have roommates who are disgusting and dont wash their damn dishes and having your own set would be priceless! Again this seems like something you might never need but I assure you anyone who's traveled long enough has probably had to eat a steak with a spoon, and it's not until you do that do you realize how nice it would be to have some cutlery of your own.

The point is there's no right way to pack for long term travel, but there can certainly be a wrong way. To anyone who's already on the road, or planning on going back soon I hope maybe you picked up a pointer or two you hadn't yet considered. For anyone thinking about traveling for the first time, consider this a starting point, keep reading and discovering more, and remember no matter how much you plan at some point in your trip you will say the magic words, "Why the F%$& did I bring THIS?!". But  that's more than alright, that's exactly how it should be. Safe travels everyone and if you liked this and want to read more follow me on my blog ( If you want to help boost my twitter rank (@logansdownunder), do that too, also there's instagram (@logandownunder), facebook (Logan Emmett), etc. Bon Voyage!!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

6 reasons to quit your job and start traveling... now!

When I told people I was leaving the country to work and travel abroad in Australia for a year (maybe longer), most people were very encouraging. A few thought I was crazy, but the majority simply said something to the effect of, "that's so awesome, I wish I could do something like that". Well after 6 months of being on my own down under, I'm here to tell you, YOU CAN and YOU SHOULD! The only thing holding any of us back from globe trotting, and following our wanderlusting hearts is ourselves. So I present to you: "The 6 reasons to quit your job, and start traveling... now". 

1. Time is Our Only Real Asset:
I know a lot of people I went to school with have been fed the same garbage I was, since I was a small child (not by my parents but by society as a whole). "You can be whatever you want to be... until you realize that you can't and now you need to get a real job and start making a living for yourself". While obviously it's true that most of us will not be movie stars, and astronauts, and at some point we have to accept this inevitability; it doesn't mean we can't lead lives outside 9-5, 401k, and social security. As we start to grow older and come to the conclusion that maybe our childhood fantasies aren't realistic it seems a lot of us unfortunately settle. We don't realize that we can adjust our dreams, we don't have to give up on them all together. Now this is not to say my lifestyle is glamorous, and I have a lot more I want to do and accomplish, but the first step was breaking away from where I was. That doesn't mean you have to move to another continent, but move somewhere. If you've been with the same company for ten years and you see another 30 in your future and that scares the shit out of you... quit. Money isn't everything and saving a bunch of it won't make you happier. You can buy almost everything you want with enough money, but you can't by back your youth. You can't take back the time you spent in the office instead of on the beach, or in the mountains, or kayaking down the river. The key is having enough faith in yourself and your skill set that you are confident you can get work elsewhere. You may have always wanted to live in Colorado in the mountains, but you've got seniority at your office. I implore you take the pay cut and take a chance to go somewhere new. That way when you do get to spend your free time, you're doing it somewhere you love (and weed is legal there so, bonus!). 

2. Traveling Helps You Learn About Yourself:
"You think you know, but you have no idea." Anyone from my generation knows this iconic line from the Real World, but nothing makes life more real than venturing out to find yourself. You think you love chain restaurants and comfortalbe seating, until you've pushed your way through a eclectic night market shoving food into your mouth off a paper plate trying not to get knocked over. You think you know your coffee of choice, until you come to a place where coffee is an art form. A place where no one drinks "drip", and you are quickly educated on the subtle yet vital differences (and not everything is fucking pumpkin flavored). Most importantly, you think you know who you are and have some idea of your boundaries. That is until you start to say yes to things, and end up on a back alley adventure, or stumble into a random bar to see ten trannys walking around in Christmas attire, with one lip synching Maria Carey's "I don't want a lot for Christmas". You think you know, but you have no idea...

3. Traveling Opens the Boundary of Your Comfort Zone:
Believe it or not I'm not much of a risk taker and I happen to like my little safety bubble like the rest of us. But when you travel you meet people who will change your perspective on life and how it is meant to be lead. You realize there are things more important than money, and security, like adventure and experience. These people are the 20-somethings, who lead a life of invincibility, to them there is no tomorrow, no bad decisions in the past, only the present. I still struggle to live my life in the moment as much as some people I've met, but you can be sure I'm doing a lot better than I was before. 

4. You Never Know What Opportunities May Present Themselves:
When you make a decision to stop leading your "normal life" and start traveling you open yourself up to a world you never knew existed before. If you are usually not so great in social situations you can start to push the boundaries of the norm. Any kid who's ever moved as a child knows, that it's kind of nice to be able to push the reset button on who you are. You can reinvent yourself into the type of person you've always wanted to be. Well take that, and multiply it by a 1000 when it comes to traveling. Not every person who sets out to see the world is an adventurer, but when you talk to people on the road you see who they really are, not who they've been trained to be by habit and circumstance. And by opening yourself up and communicating and meeting as many new people as possible you never know what could happen. I've met so many people from around the world out here I have places to stay all over Europe should I ever chose to backpack my way out there. I've also met people who've gotten jobs, started exciting new relationships, and made tons of new life long friendships, it's all out there you just have to be open to it. 

5. Worst Case Your Job Will Be There When You Get Back:
Obviously this isn't always the case, but for most of us in our early to mid-20's right now is the time where if you do have an office job you will be starting to work your way up, which basically means you're at the bottom. And while experience is good, don't take for granted the fact that some employers value life experience just as much as work experience. Best case scenario, you have a year or two sabitcal and come back to your old job where your boss loves the fact that you've seen the world and wants you to lead his/her new division. Worst case, you get a job doing the same thing you were doing before you left, but now you have some life experience under your belt. You have a better understanding of people and the way the world really is. You can then use all this new found practical knowledge, and you make your way up through the ranks faster than if you had stayed put in the first place, and you got to see the world. 

6. The Future is Uncertain: 
Every day there is another engagement or baby popping up on my Facebook feed. Everyday someone has passed the Bar Exam, or gotten their real estate license, or got that promotion. From what I've come to realize the two biggest things that hold us back from packing up and going, are fear of the unknown, and complacency/success. Fear of the unknown obviously being, what will happen if I leave all this security behind, I have a good job, making decent money and potentially a bright future. Complacency and success aren't usually used together, but this would quantify a number of things from promotions, to engagements, to babies, whatever comes along in our life that makes us feel as if we need to be complacent where we are. 
"Well I can't leave now I'm up for that promotion." 
"We've been dating for three years, it's probably time to get engaged, but I can't travel and be worried about a wedding."
"O shit, we're pregnant."
Now where the last reason may be a valid reason to stay put (or in some cases to get the next plane out of town), there's a number of reasons we rationalize why we have to stay in our current situation. But the future is uncertain, your company could fold, your significant other could leave you, and maybe that baby doesn't look very much like you. The point is if you keep making excuses about what could happen you will miss opportunities to make things happen yourself. 

So get out there! If you've always wanted to hike K-2 go for it, if Australia is your dream destination, meet me here and we'll go for a drink. If you have no idea where you want to go, spin a globe put your finger down, and book the next flight out of dodge. The longer you wait the more things you will accumulate that will be harder to leave behind. It's easy to break a lease, it's a lot harder when you have a mortgage. Just take a risk, fly by the seat of your pants, and know that everything you leave behind will still be there, if/when you choose to come back. The world is out there for you to explore, you just have to go... now!

Monday, December 1, 2014


I don't know if I should write anything about this, actually I definitely shouldn't. I'm a white middle-class American, I may not have ever won the Powerball but I definitely won the genetic and origin lottery. When you grow up in a white middle-class suburb it's almost impossible to imagine people aren't privileged in the same way you are. Alll of your friends are from a similar upbringing, all of their parents live little cookie cutter lives, and it's easy to get lost in the safety and simplicity of suburbia. That being said once you've moved or experienced something outside this existence it's easy to see that you are in fact in the great minority. 

Now I truly believe America is the land of opportunity and no matter where you are born or what circumstances you are born into you can make it out and be a success. It's just a lot, LOT harder for some people than others. We've come along way in the last 50-60 years and we like to think of ourselves as extremely tolerant and understanding now, but the truth is not too many generations ago the world was a very different place. And while technology and inter connectivity have expanded our lives and our understanding and appreciation of different cultures and people, it's impossible for people to change over night. We still live in a world filled with racial intolerance, and hatred towards those we may deem immoral in their practices, and this goes both ways. Black people can have just as many prejudices as whites, who can have just as many as latinos, but we're starting to move away from it. The key with evolution is passing along traits, birds didn't evolve into flight from one ancestor to another, it took years and generation upon generation of mutations passed down. That's what we need to continue to do with our youth and continue to instill in ourselves and maybe someday we can truly live in a world without preconceived notions and ideals. (hopefully the world will not be destroyed of all natural resources by then). 

I read something interesting today, and it's basically what spawned this desire to write something outside of my normal travel blog. Chris Rock recently did an interview in which he stated that Black People aren't now accomplishing more, White people are simply nicer now. It's a pretty dramatic statement but not to far from the truth. Basically what he was getting at was in our society, in White American Society, whites have held all the cards and controlled the playing field for, while, forever. He was saying that many who see having a Black President as a huge step forward for Black Americans are missing the point. He's saying we`re finally letting them have a President. There were plenty of qualified Black political leaders in the last 100 years (Colin Powells almost campaign comes to mind), but from Rock's perspective it wasn't that they weren't qualified to hold the position, it's that those who were, and are in control, wouldn't let them. It's a double edged sword, it's not exactly a total shot at White Americans but it's definitely not a compliment. But in this interview I can see the silver lining, and I think because I was born with the priviledge, and skin color that Mr. Rock was not, I think I can say certain things he might not be able to get away with. Basically we are on the cusp of crossing a momumental boundary. There was a lot of things wrong with the baby boomers, and Gen-X, and by no means are we "Millenials" any better, but what we are, is progressive. Some people take that as a negative stereotype, "those kids don't care about anything", but really it means we've become open to more. We didn't live the hard knock life of the depressions, and World Wars, and Vietnam, and we've had time to dwell on things that aren't a focus when life is in turmoil, and society is challenged. 

That's why our generation is worried about Global Warming, and animal cruelty, and probably even part of the reason we like terrible, crappy, CRAPPY music. But overall it's a good thing, it's given us time to care about those less fortunate than us, to believe in something other than religion, and patriotism (cornerstones of a country in war, or economic distress), it's given us time to care about people. More and more of my friends have slowly moved away from organized religion and pre-selected notions we were taught as children, not because the pride comes before the fall, but rather because without troubles in our lives to worry us we've had time to puzzle other deeper questions. We've examined what is inherently right and wrong, and we've come to the conclusion that people, shouldn't be judged because they're different, because they're gay, or poor, or black, or brown, or purple. This age of technological freedom has opened the doors for discussions that in the past would be pushed behind closed doors. You  can now reach the world with the click of an "Enter" key, and for all the negatives placed upon my generation, the one thing they can't argue with is we've created a voice. I just hope we continue to use it for the good and betterment of the world we live in, as we have children of our own, and pass down our beliefs and ideals we will see the departure of the previous generations. Those who were close-minded who came before us, and created this world that Mr. Rock was referring too, soon enough they will be gone. It will be up to us to continue to carry that torch in the right direction, so someday it won't be an issue of "white people being nicer now", that will simply be the way society is. Or not, we could definitely fuck this whole thing up to... but here's hoping, fingers crossed!

Monday, November 17, 2014

10 Things I've learned in OZ

I feel like if you've taken a trip anywhere around the world there is always a mandatory list that needs to be made. Especially in this age of The Chive, and Elite Daily and everyone of those other blog and funny websites making humorous lists so now is my time. Here's the 10 things you need to know when you're an American traveling to Australia:

10. Everyone Assumes You're Canadian:
I found this one slightly offensive at first, not necessarily because I don't like Canadians but we all know there's a certain unspoken rivalry between us and the neighbor to the north and we are obviously winning the battle for coolness. Also I go by the Robin Williams (RIP) method of thinking on this one, "Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party". All Canadian jokes aside (and there are plenty) it turns out this is actually a compliment for a few reasons. Firstly, it means you don't have a ridiculously American accent, not a lot of people from Jersey are going to be confused with Canadians. Secondly, it means you don't exude an "American Essence" if you will. That doesn't mean by any means that you are any less patriotic ('Merica... fuck ya!) it just means that the rest of the world has a pretty obvious preconceived notion of what Americans are like (see: loud, obnoxious assholes), this means you don't fall into that category... at least not right away. Mostly though what I've found is people just aren't used to seeing that many Americans traveling. Apparently it's not something we really do and this unfortunately is true. By far the fewest people I've met who are traveling are Americans, so if you decide its time to pack up and explore the world, try not to give the rest of us a bad rap. And if someone guesses you're American right away, you either have a ridiculous accent, or they're subtley calling you an asshole.

9. Be Nice... Seriously 
To say that Americans as a whole are assholes would be a gross overstatement. But having worked in residential housing, and sales, and hospitality for as long as I have there is definitely a difference in the way we negotiate. In America the strategy is complain and threaten and continue to slowly work your way up the chain of command until you get what you want. This is not the way it works here. I'm used to bartering and negotiating on everything back home, here a friendly demeanor and a genteel attitude will get you farther than any American bartering tactics. Perfect example, I took my scooter into the shop because the air pressure was low, I bought a pump and ended up blowing out the old hose that was in my back wheel. I was FURIOUS and  started to rant at the mechanic about what a load of BS this was, I had JUST bought this pump and it blew out my wheel are you KIDDING ME?! In the states I would've demanded and argued my way to getting my wheel fixed for free, a refund on the pump and probably a HJ just so this guy could avoid getting an angry letter to his boss. Here the mechanic got extremely defensive and said, "I don't know what your tire blowing out has to do with me but I really don't like the vibe here right now." Basically he told me to fuck off and was going to refuse me service, it took me a minute to contain myself and then I realized how ridiculous I was acting. I immediately changed my demeanor apologized and asked what I needed to do to get back on the road. He was extremely helpful and courteous after that and more than helpful. The point is people here, especially business owners don't give a shit about your personal issues of your empty threats, if you don't like it you can fuck off. So the only way to conduct yourself here is to be polite and courteous and you can basically get whatever you want. That ones gonna take some getting used to but when you think about it, its a much better way to live, and work... so don't be a dick. 

8. Beards are Cool
If you think beards are popular in the states take yourself to Australia and learn you something. Here  there is every variety, every shape and size and design you can imagine. I would estimate at least 70% of dudes here are rocking some sort of facial hair, and though a majority are going straight Grizzly Adams there is plenty of variety. Unfortunately I suffer from a pre-existing medical condition (shitty bearditis), so I'm doing my best to blend in but its not exactly working (I've got a sweet chin strap now though). Long story short if you wanna flex your beard game come to Oz and flaunt your stuff and see if you can hang with the real bearded men.

7. Australians LOVE to Party
Like a lot, like holy shit do these guys go hard in the paint. And this is not to say just Aussies in general but backpackers, Europeans and Aussies love to party. There's a couple cities in the states where you can go on a pretty wicked 3 day long bender and lose some brain cells and some dignity, but for the most part bars close around 2 or 3 am and then you go home sleep it off and try again tomorrow. The American version of partying is "Let's drink as much as we can in 6-8 hours, make some bad decisions, go home and sleep it off". Australians are average drinkers at best but let's just say they use some partying "performance enhancers" and the results are terrifying. I tried to go out one night to an after hours bar here, we didn't even get there until 3am and by 5am I was quoting Danny Glover, "I'm too old for this shit. By 730 am when we finally stumbled out into DAYLIGHT I knew that I would never be able to cut it with this crowd. It took me three days to recover from that little night out and I've met plenty of people who do that ALL THE TIME! Mostt clubs here close around 3am but then you can go to after hours clubs till 7am and then take an hour break for food when everything opens back up at 8am. It's like Vegas no clocks no way to tell what hour it is or how long you've been at it, and filled with terrible, shitty, shitty, EDM and techno. So ya when it comes to partying I'll take a UCF tailgate over a "night out" in Oz anytime. OZ-1 Logan-0... and on that note.

6. People do ALOT of Drugs Here
This one obviously goes hand and hand with the last point, as booze is not exactly an "upper" when you've been drinking for 12 hours straight so there is a lot of other substances people ingest here. I have friends back home who party and recreationally do drugs but god damn do people do a lot of drugs here, and I thought booze was expensive. Now  I've never bought cocaine so I have no comparison to what it "should cost" but here decent blow is apparently about $350 a gram, again that means nothing to me but everyone I've talked to about it has assured me that's really REALLY expensive. So if you want to come to Australia and party PARTY, be ready to pay out the ass for it, on top of $9 beers and $20 cocktails. Basically if I had any more bad habits I'd be out of money here after one hard weekend... buyer beware.

5. Have a Sense of Humor
This ones really important, like seriously, if you plan on traveling pay attention to this one. People love I mean LOVE to fuck with Americans. We're basically the rest of the worlds funny punch line. Also for some reason people think we all like Obama, and that the Affordable Health Care Act, actually made health care affordable. Without getting too political lets just say I've corrected some Europeans and Aussies on American politics. But that's neither here nor there, the point is, don't take yourself too seriously. It's great to be patriotic and love your country, because you better believe everyone else here loves theres, but try and hang your flag at the door and get ready for a barrage of shit talking. Keep in mind people here (almost everyone I've met) really like Americans, they just have a problem with America. Gun jokes, terrorist jokes, obesity jokes, nothing is off limits, but as long as you have the right mind set and you can throw back a French people are pussies joke or two yourself, you'll be fine. And  at the end of the day I just like to remind them, that everyone talks shit about America until they find themselves in some trouble, then they all want our fat, gun toting, flag waving soldiers to come help.

4. Roll it up... smoke it down
If you've kept up with anything I've been writing you know I've described Melbourne as basically the Hipster "Mecca". This whole place looks like an add for PBR, but the people here are doing it ironically or to be anti-establishment, that's just the way it is here. But going along with the hipster pretense if you travel abroad you will see something that is not common at all in the states unless you wear an ironic 80's TV show t-shirt, girls jeans, and ride a fixed gear to the Starbucks you work at... rollies. Rollies are cigarettes, that, well you roll. Because every vice here is taxed out the ass, the cheaper alternative for the smoking traveler is to buy rolling tobacco and simply roll there own, I tried it once and what resulted was something Michael J. Fox might have attempted. But people here are experts and it's actually quite interesting to see someone drink a beer, have a converstation and at the same time roll a perfect cigarette. I heard Wocka Flocka or someone like that was looking for a personal blunt roller, he should simply do a tour in Oz and pick up some backpackers.

3. Caffine Overload
If you like coffee, this is the place to be. Everywhere and I mean EVERYWHERE has a coffee machine and will make your fresh lattes and long blacks and short whites and everything else that's all basically kinda the same thing but if you say that people scoff at you. I thought we had a pretty big coffee addiction in the states but here coffee is a part of life and more than that it's an art form. If you work at the right place you can make $20 or more making macchiatos all day. Apparently we Americans are also very inept at making caffinated drinks. I know how to make a long black (coffee and water) and a cappuccino (and only kind of). Everytime I have to ask someone I work with to make a coffee for me that look at me with this face reserved only for Trix the rabbit (Silly American, coffees for grownups). Regardless of my total lack of coffee knowledge I love the coffee culture and it's a huge part of being here. Before I came here I gave up caffine for over 6 months, I'm glad I got back on the juice before I came here otherwise I might have OD'd. Don't worry I'm not having a seizure that's just me shaking uncontrollably from my tenth cappuccino today (hey they're free at work!). OZ-2 Logan-0

2. Get Your Fixed Gear Out
I hate to beat the hipster horse but aside from having great public transit and easy travel in general around the city, people here love to bike. Now I know that's nothing new or crazy if you live in a big metropolitan city, especially with gas prices, cost of cars, etc. But in Melbourne it's literally to the point that I don't personally know anyone who even owns a car. That's from my fellow bartenders and backpackers, up to my managers. That might be an overstatement, I'm sure my GM's and owners have cars of there own, but pretty much everyone else I know or have met here rides a bike or in one particular case a bear of a bartender I work with owns a cute little skateboard. Part of this is just based on need, you're only usually traveling a short distance why would you need an actual car, but a lot of it is really cultural as well. People here are very outdoorsy and they prefer to be doing something active rather than something passive. I can't deny I've jumped on the bandwagon as well, but in the most American way possible, getting an electronic bike, that I only have to peddle when I'm going up a hill. OZ-2 Logan-1

1. Share Your Story
You'd think being in a place with so many travelers and wanderlusters people would get bored of the same stories over and over. "Oh you hated your job and wanted to see the world, how original of you!" This is not the case at all, not only are people here receptive to hearing you story they WANT to know. They want to hear what made you uproot yourself and take your journey abroad. They want to talk about places they've been where your from or places they would like to go. They want to trade travel advice, and stories, and talk about which country has the hottest women (or men). And all this does is continue to feed and drive your vigor and your realization that you are doing this for a reason. We all like to think we are unique and individual but we all share a similar longing and desire to test our boundaries and explore our senses. It's easier to find people abroad that openly share that sense of desire. Partly because they're doing the same thing but also because they don't have the same mindset we are forced into back in the states. If someone doesn't like their job here they quit... that's it. If that means a few weeks of eating ramen and drinking goon that's fine, but they're here to explore, better to be happy and poor then miserable with a steady income. It's taken a lot to acclimate myself to this lifestyle and by no means am I there yet. I'm currently working two jobs in hopes to save a little so I can have some time to just be myself when the nice weather comes around. But if I'm ever unsure or lacking a plan or a motive I need only look to the people I'm surrounded by to be reassured that I'm doing the right thing. There's no right or wrong way to have your journey, you just have to do it!
OZ-2 Logan-2... we'll call it a draw for now. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Beer... and "Beer"

There is a monumental divide between what Americans take and consider to be "Craft Beer" and what that term designates to the rest of the world. Now for a long time I've considered myself to be a beer lover but never a beer snob, someone who appreciates a well crafted brew but will never look down on my less educated bretheren. Australia has changed all that for me. I am now an international beer snob of the worst sort and I don't see it changing anytime soon. I've already written on the way the majority of the beer in this country is watered down lagers but I was keen to at least believe that the "Craft Beer" here would hold at least a small place of reverence next to its watery brothers. So far I have been gravely mistaken. 

I've mentioned to numerous people that Australia is about 10 years behind the craft beer revolution, maybe even less is Westernized cities with free thinking people like Melbourne where I currently reside. After careful consideration I have to ammend this first thought and say Melbourne, Sydney, hell everywhere in Australia is at the infancy of craft beer. This is Sierra Nevada in the early 1980's nothing else around so anything even passing as mediocre is considered world class. The mind boggling thing about this is that people don't seem to realize it. People here LOVE BEER... like a lot, but not enough to realize that they should be expecting so much more from their brews, and with costs so high its impossible to create a competitive import (for example a Founders Imperial Stout at the bar I'm writing this at is $20... for a 12oz bottle).

So what's wrong with this picture? This seems to be the perfect place for Craft Beer to thrive, people here love it, they are passionate about it, but they can't seem to understand the difference between mediocre and exceptional. And this again is not me trying to be a beer snob, I've tried to like it, tried to branch out... not  a single beer here I've tasted would rank in my top 250. But again what boggles my mind is that people here defend it (my bartender just told me she think Oz beer is the best in the world... it took everything I had not to call her fucking crazy and tell her shes obviously only tried Oz beer). I've had conversations here with people from around the world about where has the best beer, usually the argument comes down to Belgium. I had one particularly heated argument with a Dutch guy where I googled "Top Ten Best Beers in the World", a website popped up from Beer Advocate in which 8 of the 10 were American and number one was Belgian. He saw this as a point to say he was right and I came up with an analogy everyone in Australia could understand. 

**If Kelly Slater is the best surfer in the world (he's from the US incase you're retarded) but the other 9 out of 10 best surfers in the world are from Australia, then the best surfer in the world is American, but the best SURFERS (plural) are from Australia.**

I considered this a flawless victory for my argument, he countered with saying that Beer Advocate was obviously an American website so it couldnt be trusted anyway, and then later went on to defend Amstel Light as a great beer (so obviously his argument was null and void). 

Back to Australia. What is the point of all of this? Mostly I hope that Oz gets their shit together. Right now they are basically the Cleveland Browns of the beer industry (die hard fans but put out a product thats subpar to say the least... this is still assuming the Browns suck at their regular level I haven't kept up but I think you get the idea). As a whole Australia could be and probably should be one of the best places to consume beer in the entire world. Let me rephrase... it's definitely one of the best places to consume beer... it should be one of the best places to consume true "Craft Beer" where people are enthusiastic and have something worth bragging about. Until then I'll continue to drink the piss (they say that here though its rather appropriate), to get pissed, and hope for a brighter tomorrow. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Giving up on sports

I love sports... like a lot... like I'd let Derrick Rose be my baby daddy (I mean assuming he took me to a nice dinner first), but it's amazing how fast you get out of the loop and used to not having the sports you love when they're not around. I used to check ESPN at least three times a day back home, and that was inbetween watching Sports Center on loop all day at work. However, since I've started to travel, not only is it hard to keep up I also find that I really don't care to keep up. Let me be clear, I still CARE about sports, and the Bulls, and the Bears, and the miserable Cubs, but I know in my mind they are so far away that there's no reason to fret over missing out, in my world all major sports leagues are on strike, and they will commence upon my return with a new CBA agreed upon in my mind. 

It wasn't like this at first, in fact I was planning on being that crazy American that goes to bars and starts drinking at 11 am on a Tuesday because Monday Night Football is on (I still want to be that guy at least once though). When I first got here I was trying to check scores and keep up with both NFL games, baseball, and most importantly College Football (which by the way, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, it must be the apocalypse). But I realized quickly that my attempts were futile and it didn't make sense to spend time worrying about something I couldn't have on a day to day basis. For me American sports are something you live and breathe, you don't just watch football, you talk about football, you get into arguments over drinks about who's better at football, and here, football isn't even football, so what's the point in getting worked up over football? Know what I mean?

I realized I've completely lost touch when someone mentioned to me the four teams playing for the pennant, the Orioles and Royals, and the Giants and the Dodgers (that sounds ludacris looking at it, Iliterally had to go on ESPN that second to confirm that this person wasn't high or mentally handicapped, or both). And in that moment not only did I feel ok with the fact that I had no idea what was going on in American sports but also a little relieved. If there is ever a time to miss a couple of seasons on American sports it's when the Orioles and the Royals are playing in the ALCS, the Mississippi State Bulldogs are probably in the college football playoff, and I'm just gonna go out on a limb of ridiculousness and say, the Bucks win the NBA title, and Bills win the Super Bowl! Ya I miss sports, but I feel like a picked a pretty good year to miss.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Found a Place

The search is OVER! 

Today I finally locked down a place to live! After a little over two weeks of searching (actually two weeks to the day) I've finally found a place to call home. They say (or at least in all the travel blogs I read) that it's normal to get homesick when traveling. Though I can admit I miss my family and friends I'm by no means missing home in the traditional "home sick" sense. I'm glad to be out and exploring another country, well another continent at that, and I know everything will be right where I left it when I get back. What I do miss is the consistency of having a bed to call my own when I come home from work, or out at the pub. Ya hostels are great, and I've met some wonderful people, and some terrible ones, but there's something about having your own bed (not on the fucking top bunk). The place I'm moving into is nice enough, big rooms, decent area, and close enough to work that it will be an easy commute, and most importantly cheap (I use that term very loosely). But it's not even the spending extra money on hostels that bugs me, it's just sometimes you just NEED a place of your own (and not to have to climb up a bunk bed drunk). And though living out of a bag can be fun, there's something magical about not having to play mystery grab bag for your wardrobe everyday. 

The thing that most excites me about having a place of my own is finally being able to explore this great city. For the last two weeks all my non-working time has been consumed by emailing, texting, and running around trying to find a place to call my own. Now that I have the latter I have free time to actually explore this city I've written so many nice things about. Ya I've been to downtown Melbourne but not to explore, primarily just to job hunt, and house hunt. And ya St. Kilda is a great little town and I'm glad I've settled down here but it'd be nice to see places other that Carlisle street every night. So I guess part of the rumor is true, at least for me, when you travel you might get home sick, but it depends what you define as home. I've always been something of a nomad, and this lease will be longer than most relationships I've had let alone housing scenarios, but it's nice to know where you're going to end up when the sun goes down, or stumble to as the sun comes up. I feel like I'll be in Melbourne just long enough to start feeling settled and get the need to scratch my travel itch, and that'll be just fine with me. I guess the biggest thing I could say to potential travelers is, be aware of what your needs are, push them beyond your comfort zone, and then bring yourself back to a happy medium when you find the right place and opportunity. And more importantly than that, be comfortable with sleeping on floors, and tiny sofas, and for godsake, bring some fucking ear plugs!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hipsters, and tattoos, and beards... Oh MY!

Ladies! Ladies! Ladies! 

If you like beards and tats, you should be in Melbourne like, yesterday!! This place might be the bearding capital of the world if I've ever seen it. It's literally like a cookie cutter one after the other of slicked backed hair, quaffed, just so, and big, bushy, bristly beards! I'm not gonna lie... I'm trying to fit in and grow my own beard... and failing pretty miserably. But as the great Yoda says, do or do not, there is no try! But seriously my beard sucks... I may start rubbing horse shampoo on my face.

This place is like an add for people who drink PBR in the states. I'm honestly surprised Pabst hasn't made a push to bring $1 Ribbons down here, shit they could sell $5 ribbons and still be the cheapest beer in town. Think of the most hipster looking bar you have ever been to in the states, now times that by 1,000... Welcome to Melbourne! Don't get me wrong I love a good hipster, but these people aren't even really "hipsters" as we would think of them, that's just how everyone is. They're not trying to be cool and ironic, they really are just all kind of cool. I work at a super upscale cocktail bar and everyone there has tattoos, not like a few people, EVERYONE! At most places in the states its fine as long as your sleeve or shoulders or whatever or covered. In Melbourne they don't care, let it show bro! 

It's actually kind of cool to see a city where everyone is so eclectic, but in reality they're not eclectic, they're normal, if anything my lack of tattoos, a decent beard, and ironic t-shirts makes me a weirdo. But I like it, and I'm learning and adapting. The other thing is everyone here is super friendly, especially at both the bars I'm working at. The higher end cocktail place is the type of place in the states where you would have career bartenders who are too good to even talk to you. Here everyone is awesome and helpful and supportive. They really just want to help and make sure everything is working for the benefit of the whole bar. I guess it helps that no one here makes "tips" the way we think of in the states so there's no real need to be competitive and be "The Best Bartender". I'm learning a lot at that place too. It's basically like bartending for the first time all over again. We have so many spirits and liquors I've never ever fucking heard of. So now I will go try and get my housing settled, long story short, if you're a hipster with a cool beard, come to Melbourne. And if you keep up with my blog and stay in touch I'll make you a watermelon mojito that will knock your socks off :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

European Slang

A cookie is a cookie... a biscuit is a biscuit... or is it? 

In the two and half or so months I've been traveling in Australia I've had to wildly adjust my vocabulary and vernacular. Aussies, English, and Europeans in general, but especially the first two, love to shorten words, create nicknames, and generally call everything something other than what it actually is. Some of it makes sense and is easy to catch on (example: lets get pissed = lets get drunk). Some of it makes no fucking sense at all and will never catch on no matter how long I'm here for. An  example of this is Biscuits, not the warm, flakey, delicious kind you cover in white gravy, the kind you dip in a glass of cold milk (i.e. cookies). Europeans love their biscuits, it suprises me that they are not the fattest countries in the world, that's how many biscuits they eat. But I guess when you consider that McDonald's (Mackers) has no dollar menu over here (I was starving the other night and paid $12 for a quarter pounder with a small fries and drink) that might explain why Americans still hold the "Fatty" crown. 

Everything is shortened, no word is what it is, and if it is a full word that makes sense it's probably not actually that at all but a slang for something else. Ginger Ale is Dry, and if you ask for a Jack and Ginger you'll probably get it with a Ginger Beer which is something else all together. Now as a traveler I can't expect the rest of the world to conform to all our American Jargon but sometimes it seems like they are making shorter words just for the sake of doing it. Overall it keeps things interesting and keeps me constantly say, "What?", "Wait what?", "Oh... oh ok I get it... ya sure what you said". 

The other thing I've found is that (and this is not always true but about 50% of the time), English people speak terrible, and I mean terrible fucking English. It almost seems sometimes like they're doing really bad impersonations of a cockney accent, but no that's really how they talk. Think Brad Pitt in Snatch, "He's not English, he's not Irish, he's just piker". Which side note don't tell an English person they sound like a piker, they don't like that very much. For all the different countries of people I've met here traveling, some who English is their second, or even third language, I'd say I have the hardest time understanding people from the UK. Just saying there's a reason we broke off, maybe it was because nobody could understand King George, and they just said, "Fuck it let's start our own country". And that ladies and gents is the real story of how 'Merica began... Fuck ya! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

House Hunting

As I sit here at a cafe on the St. Kilda strip browsing on Gumtree (aussie Craigslist) I realize how often I took for granted how easy it was to find places in the states. Noww don't get me wrong it's not exactly hard to find a place to live here it just is a matter of what you're willing to accept as a living situation and how much you're willing to get taken advantage of. And make no mistake they will be trying to take advantage of you. This  is the "Season" as I keep getting reminded so there are people flocking in by the boat load and only so many jobs to go around and so many places to live. I wasn't stressing about it too much at first but as I've had pretty much zero luck so far finding a place and my bank account has continued to dwindle I'm starting to feel the pressure building a bit. 

I'm hoping something will turn up this weekend otherwise I may be booking another week at a hostel as I struggle to get hours at the two bars I'm trying to juggle. I will eventually lose this battle of the bars but I'm not sure where I should decide to settle. One is a staple of the community and super hard to get into but pays less and still I'm struggling to get hours. The other is super cool and I feel like I can learn a lot of new things there that I can use much further down the road, but again, struggling to maintain both and get hours at either. For now I will simply need to stop purchasing alcohol as this is the most expensive part of my budgeting to date. I know it will all work out but at the moment its a little stressful and I realize some of the plans I had made need to be adjusted to fit my current situation. For now I will enjoy my coffee and my caffine shakes and try to see whatever random one off day shifts I can pick up, and no more drinking in 3, 2, 1... and go!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

3 Days 3 Jobs... No Home

As I sit outside a place I start work at tomorrow for my trial run... after having my first trial run tonight I have to take a minute to reflect on the last couple days. HOLY SHIT!! What a whirlwind. I got to Melbourne and now in three consecutive nights I start and trial at three different jobs. The first one tonight was a German beer house in downtown Melbourne. The place I'm at right now and have a shift tomorrow is a cool semi-hipster bar right on St. Kilda Beach, the third (tomorrow) is a super ritzy $20 per drink cocktail bar. I still have yet to find housing but I've got a couple leads so things are looking up, but tomorrow will be a long day because if I don't find something then I will be sleeping in the street for a night or two, or trying to find my way into someone's bed with some drink bribing at a pub and my huge backpack on my back. 

Melbourne is awesome... beyond awesome it's everything I would've wanted when I came to Australia and I look forward to spending at least six months here (minus my month trip to asia). The comparison I heard before I came here was Sydney is New York, and Melbourne is Chicago, and that definitely holds true (without all the black on black gang shootings that happen in Chicago). The city is super spread out, everyone is very friendly, and even though you're in a big city it feels much more like a small town. Anyone who's reading this who might be thinking of coming to Oz... skip Sydney. Go there for the sights and what not, but after a week or so, GTFO! It's overcrowded (and full of asians, I've got nothing against asians but it's like walking through downtown Tokyo) and too hustle and bustle. If you want something that's more fit for backpackers Melbourne is definitely the place for you.

The crazy thing I've noticed here is how bars work. In the states if you're starting out somewhere even if you have a lot of experience you usually have to work weekdays and earn your stripes before you can get a shot at the weekends and more money. Here there is no BIG Money day, the place I'm working at Saturday pays $24/hour, so people work weekends to work up to working during the week where they don't have to do shit. It's been a little perplexing because with the experience I have it's been almost impossible to find casual work during the week. Everyone sees my resume and wants me to work the weekends, which again would be great in the states but here it's more work for the same pay. I mean I love bartending, and nothing passes the time like being busy, but it's crazy to realize that the casual shifts you want to get are kind of impossible to come by, essentially from the way it looks now I'm gonna have to cram, 40 hours a week into the weekends otherwise I'll have no income. 

I'm not opposed to this except for the fact that five days off means more free time, and more free time isn't always a good thing if you're trying to save money, especially in this industry. I think at some point I might just have to go into some slow bar and say I have no experience so I can "train" on the weekdays, and not constantly be working the crazy busy shifts. But in all honesty if I can find some place that will let me work 10 hours a day Thursday throught Sunday I won't obviously be mad. Who wouldn't want a three day weekend every week, even if it is a mid-week weekend. We shall see, for now the jury is out, and I have three jobs, and am homeless in two days... wish me luck! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Melbourne Begins

Just arrived in Melbourne today on a pretty shoddy airlines, but cheap so I guess it's all about what you value. As soon as I walked out of the plane onto the open tarmac and under the steel sheeted covered walkway it started to hail. I missed the brunt of it, unfortunately my backpack was not so lucky. Thankfully there's not really anything I would qualify as sensitive material in there. It seems to be a trend now that when I arrive in a new city the day is rather dreary. Instead of taken that as a bad sign I'm going to choose to think of it as a great omen, like rain on your wedding day and what not. 

Melbourne is, well, kinda shitty out right now, but in all honesty just from first glance does in fact look alot more my style than Sydney was. It spreads out along the coast line and though the waves and the beach look pretty terrible today I have no doubt when the weather clears up it will be quite a site to see. I've got two job interviews lined up for sure and another two to stop by and check on this week. I printed off 18 resumes and I plan on dropping everyone of them off, so we'll see what happens. First step, get a job. Second step, get a place. Third step, take over the world! But for the moment I will eat this delicious looking pizza as I stare out at a windy, messy, abyss. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Surf Camp

Im approaching day three at surf camp and currently debating an offer to stay for another two months, with no pay but free room and board. I'm nervous about the idea because it doesn't really go according to my plan but then again the whole plan was, to have NO PLAN. The whole idea being to wing it, see where my travels take me and who I meet and what kind of adventures might present themselves. I think doing this will really push my comfort zone and make any later decisions a lot easier. Plus I really love fucking surfing now! I didn't think that would be the case. I mean I figured I wanted to surf while I was here and it'd be fun to learn but I never thought I'd have the opportunity to surf as a job. Granted I won't exactly be a coach or instructor, at least not right away, but what a great opportunity to learn and meet new people. And while I won't technically be making money, with the money I save by not living in the city or paying for three meals a day I'll definitely be coming out on top. The way I figure if I drink... if I drink I can be looking at spending only about $1000 over the next two months. That's about two weeks in Sydney, if I'm lucky. And when I'm done here it'll be prime time to get a seasonal job on the beach somewhere. It's just a matter of keeping in touch with different people and opportunities and trying to get something set up before I leave.

Bascially I'd be looking at working a few hours a day, while waking up every day by like 7 am at the latest and surfing and working on my Yoga Practice. So a grownup schedule with child like responsibilities. The idea is definitely intriguing and the more I think about it the more I think it'd be a mistake to not do it. I mean they'll always be seasonal work and jobs to get, but it's not everyday you get a chance to learn to surf for free, and a place to stay and three meals a day, for free. It just seems weird putting off my potential job and responsibilities to sit on a beach, but isn't the point of going to Australia in the first place? Getting lost to find myself? What better place to get lost then on the beach surfing and doing yoga, and meeting new people every week as they come through for surf camp. I only wish it wasn't the middle of damn winter here. I'd feel like a pussy to say it was cold here, but it's not hot that much is for sure. Currently I'm drinking a hot cup of coffee with two coats on and long pants. But l've also been in the water twice a day freezing my nuts off, so the jury is out on whether I'm a pussy or not. For now I'll go with no since everyone else here is doing the same thing. But in two months I can be looking at being right in the full swing of Summer, and that might be enough to tough out a couple more weeks of cold. 

The more I think about it the more I realize I'd be making a mistake if I didn't do it. I can get a job bartending anywhere I go, and worst case if I hate it I say "Adios" and keep on my way. I just need to make sure I get in touch with any connections I've made so far. The reception out here sucks so that's appealing but scary at the same time. I won't be able to talk to anyone for a while most likely but shit I'm already gone for a year, and this could be a good opportunity for some real self reflection and a disconnect from technology. So if I disappear and cant post/talk to anyone as much as I might have been you know why. But I'll try to keep up as much as I can and keep my blog going to log all the craziness that happens at Surf Camp Australia!

Working in Oz

Its my second official day working at surf camp and it's pretty sweet so far, a little hectic, but mostly a great time. We eat and live for free and the work is basically feed the hungry Europeans and clean up their shit when their done. Everyone I work with is incredibly nice and welcoming and though it's a large mixture from many different parts of the world everyone seems to have a very similar mindset. Surf, eat, drink, sleep, repeat. If there's ever a place to get lost to find one's self Gerroa Australia may be just the place. There is nothing here except for surf camp, and a pub, the Gerroa Boat Fisherman's Club LTD. I'm currently having a pint amongst the club goers as I write this blog. 

The rules are a bit different in Oz. They have proper casinos which have all the games you'd find in Vegas and then all these privately owned and operated clubs have "pokeys", slot machines. And apparently people here fucking love them. I've never been much of a gambler but if I play I'm definitely not playing slots, but the people here eat it up, to the point that they have gambling addiction signs everywhere. The Pokey area in the picture is sitting directly across from me at the moment while I type this. Also the booze is ASTRONOMICALLY priced. The pint I'm drinking right now is $5.30 not terrible but it's a 12oz pour. And most bars have a bottle shop connected where you can get booze to go, seems nice but a six-pack of LOCAL BEER here is $16 for the cheapest brand! A case of Corona (also known as piss water in the states) will run you about $70, and I'm in the middle of nowhere, it's even more expensive in the cities. If I would've known that before I left I would've stopped drinking all together, it's currently the only thing costing me money while I live and work at surf camp. 

Enough about the high prices of booze though because it depresses me just thinking about the roadies I'm gonna grab when I go to watch a movie later back at camp. The main guy in charge here is a Aussie named Shayne. He's only 24, and he's old compared to everyone else. I'm basically a grandfather here. I've met one person older than I am who was cool as hell, a 30 year old gent from England, everyone else I've met isn't old enough to drink in the states. It's kind of cool that there are so many young adventurous people from around the world but it also makes me think a bit. I would never have been ready to do something like this when I was 18, neither would most of my friends from high school. So what are they doing differently overseas that creates these teens with the balls to go out on their own for a year. I'm not exactly sure but it kind of makes me sad for Americans in general, not only do we not encourage this type of behavior it's usually looked down upon. The opposite is true for all the foreigners I've met, they'd be looked at as weirdos if they WEREN'T traveling. It just makes me realize that if I ever do have kids one day I'm going to encourage them to go out and explore, it'd be a shame if they missed out on the experience.

Back to camp however. It's just so weird I've only been here a week but it feels like longer. I feel blessed that everyone has accepted me so quickly and I'm already part of the team. What we may lack in travel experience we make up for in work ethic though, and not even working HARD by any means I've already had some Europeans thank me for all the hard work. I guess that could be construed as a good thing or a bad thing but for the moment I'll stick with the former not the latter. I'm hoping I will be able to keep my promise and stay the two months I told them I would but I find out tomorrow if I got the job I applied for in Melbourne. If I don't get it no big deal I get to stay and surf but if I do and I don't start for a couple weeks I'm in the terrible position of being honest with Shayne and hoping he simply lets me stay until I leave for Melbourne. If not it will be a tough couple weeks coodinating housing and work while I wait to make the move. They all seem to like me though so I'm hoping they won't kick me to the curb as long as I'm up front with them. 

So basically twice a week they get new people here. They do a five day session monday to friday with eight lessons throughout the week. One the first and last day then two-a-days tuesday-thursday. When I went last week there was only 16 of us in total in our five day group, this week there are 44. On the weekends they get a load of people in late Friday, wake them up early Saturday for two lessons and one on Sunday before they head back. The catch is on the weekends it's a shit-show, 91 people this past weekend. You hardly get to know anyone and the group is so big they are split in two to make it more manageable. It's crazy but it's fun and it keeps you busy. I'm not sure how the days off work (if there are any) but right now I'm kind of assuming I'll just be working 7-days a week. It sounds like the opposite of a vacation but it's actually not too bad. It's forcing me to wake up and go to bed early (I've been up by 7am this whole week) and the "work" consists of grilling burgers and cutting tomatoes. I highly recommend if anyone is thinking of doing a work holiday, try to find a place like this where you get room and board covered. I would never stay here the whole time, but if I did I could pay for a whole year with the little bit of money I brought with me. 

As far as the rest of the staff is concerned it looks like something out of a surf movie where you would think, "That's so generic not every surfer has long blonde hair and dresses like a bum", ya... ya they do. Every member of this staff guys and girls has long blonde hair except for two, but one has blonde hair it's just short. They all say "gnarly" and "wicked" and they're all from different parts of the world. Moral of the story is, sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. But they are all some of the nicest people I've ever met and everyone is dying to get me back out on the waves (I don't know what's wrong with me but both my ankles, BOTH of them are fucked up and won't seem to get better). I'll be pretty pissed if I stay here this whole time and don't get any better at surfing because of a stupid injury. So there are a load of coaches but the main few are Shayne, the Aussie, Rob,  a Brit, and Jordy, from South Africa. Rob has the cutest little girlfriend in the world, and she's even got a cute name, Jazz. They live in a trailor currently, while the whole of surf camp is a cool upgraded trailor park, but they have their own right behind the staff trailor, which is now my home. The bed's for shit and it's cold as hell right now, but it's home and it's fun and... I need to wash my clothes. In the little over a week I've been here so far I've only worn 3 shirts and used four pairs of underwear (the magic of free balling). It's actually pretty cool having your whole life in a bag. There's something to be said about being able to fit all your possesions in a bag smaller than some of my exes would take for a long weekend. I look forward to doing some yoga tomorrow (with the short haired German), and maybe just maybe trying to catch some waves. Also I'm hoping we get some cool campers, and maybe this week I'll get a chance to make some new friends. Thank God for Facebook otherwise these people would only be memories.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sydney Lights

I have to admit I'm not much of a Big City person. Nashville is about the perfect size for my taste, and I only love Chicago so much because I have such great memories walking around when I was younger. Sydney didn't exactly knock my socks off at first, when I got here it looked more like Seattle or London. My first night I went to bed at about 930 so I didn't really get a chance to explore, however last night I walked about 12km (roughly 8ish miles) all around the city, on a bum knee. I have to admit though it's not my favorite city in the day time, it is absolutely breath taking when they light it up like a Christmas Tree at night. I'm about to take a walk of my own to go see the Botanical Gardens and Kings Cross because last night those were about the only two things in the whole city we didn't see. 
If you are thinking about coming to Sydney or Australia in general there is one thing you need to prepare for. It's not a bad thing and I had heard about it before hand but I guess I just didn't really expect the sheer magnitude to be so high. Just based on walking around downtown Sydney last night and in the last few days I would say the rate of Asians to every other ethinicity is 2 to 1... at least. Now again this isn't a bad thing by any means it's just a little... weird I guess, wasn't what I was expecting. I mean there were times last night when besides me and my two roommates I didn't see a non-asian person for ten minutes. So if you've ever wanted to see what it's like to go to Asia without it being quite so packed, stop in Sydney and see how you feel. 
Asians aside, this is a really cool city. Very easy to get around, very friendly, but a little weird in other ways too. Everything here strikes me as very European in the city structure (the two most common structures are banks, and 7/11's), but it doesn't have the douchey ora of Europe. I understand it basically is just an extension of Europe that happens to be a few thousand miles away but from what I heard Sydney was supposed to be very Americanized, and though it is, it definitely more European than anything.
Not really, but by American standards they all fit the description. Close crop hair high and tight on the side, but with some kind of crazy part or comb-over on top. I saw a dude last night that had everything shaved except for the top where say a Mohawk would go, but instead his hair on top was all pulled back in a little samurai ponytail. Jeans and pants so tight you can tell who's circumcised, all hugging and coming up to the calf. I asked my roommate from Canada why they all dress so metro, and he said that's the style and it's awesome! I disagreed and told him in America we make fun of those people for drinking PBR and riding fixed gear bicycles. Turns out while I'm over here, I guess I'm the hipster, except I'm not hip just hopelessly out of style, and I don't plan on buying any skinny jeans. Ok, that's all hipster rant over.
I did all the main stuff you have to do in Sydney last night, except the botanical gardens which I'm doing today. We saw the bridge, we did the opera house, Darling harbor, it was all gorgeous and really makes you appreciate the beauty of this city, at least with the lights off. Sydney is like a 6 pretending to be a 10, you turn the lights down and put her in a club, and every guy in the place is drooling over her. But you wake up the next day and the makeup is smeared all over the pillow her weave has fallen out, and you're pretty sure she might have peed the bed. You swear you'll just drop her off and never talk to her again, until the next time you see her at the club with the lights down, and you convince yourself you must've been wrong the first time, there's no way she's not that hot. 
I can't wait to get a little work around town and save a little moolah and move on though. I think what I really need is the beach in my life. I don't really care which one I just think to wake up and walk to the ocean could be life changing. I think all my friends from Florida were just spoiled and kind of took that fact for granted growing up. For me I don't really care what I do, bartend a couple days a week, pick fruit, whatever, as long as when I have my free time I can walk to the beach and surf or do yoga, or run, or just sit down and enjoy. Cheers!

Friday, August 8, 2014

First Day Down Under

So something weird must be happening. Maybe its just the jet lag and the fact that I was up at 4am yesterday, but that's never stopped me before. Last night after an incredibly long day and flight I decided to call it quits and head to bed around 830, passed out by 930 and if you can believe it, up by 6am. All because I wanted to. Granted I'm sure the Tylenol PM I took, and the six beers I had (they're only like 3% here) didn't hurt, but it was definitely based on my own free will. 
I feel like there's so much to see here and I'm still so nervous and anxious that I don't even want to think about getting drunk and sleeping in late for fear I might miss something awesome. Today won't be so awesome, at least at first. I get to spend 6 1/2 hours at an alcohol training course, apparently they make you do those everywhere, but Sydney and NSW in particular, have by far the most expensive cost to do the course. So the bartending gig I booked next weekend at a rugby game is basically just a wash.
After arriving super early yesterday morning I spent the next two hours stressing about customs and trying to figure out which bus to take. I'm pretty positive they put me on the wrong bus, because everyone else had a ticket print out and I simply had a screen shot I saved that said "Free Bus Ride" that my company had sent me. The bus driver proceeded to tell me to write down all the details of my ticket, so I stole someone elses and copied it but just inserted my information, I wonder how long it took him to figure that out. Regardless I was dropped off first at the hostel I'm currently residing in. It's call "Wake Up!" and as far as hostels go it's pretty freaking sweet! Granted my experience with hostels thus far had only been in Thailand for $5 a night, so I don't know why I was expecting a room with just a fan. 
Upon going up to my room I was met by a couple of very awkard Indian kids and because I had arrived so early my bed had yet to be changed and made. So for about ten minutes I stood there awkardly then decided I should go brush my teeth. When I returned I met a new roommate named Fredderick, he's Danish (That's from Denmark) I had stupidly replied, "O so you're Dutch" he did not like that. First impressions aside Fred and I hit it off and soon realized we were both heading to the same orientation. We decided to head downstairs together and ended up eventually spending the whole day hanging out and walking around Sydney.
The orientation was um... a little weird. I didn't know exactly what I was getting into but they bombarded us with so much information it was hard to keep up. How to setup bank accounts, phones, insurance, etc. but they all seemed to do this so much that they sort of sped through their power point the way a nervous high schooler would. I left that portion knowing just as much as I did when I came in, which was basically nothing. Thankfully they were a lot more helpful one on one, but I still have a huge checklist to figure out before I leave Sydney.
The best part of the whole presentation was the Matthew McConnahey esque young surfer dude (if Matt weighed about 100 pounds less and had an Aussie accent) who came to talk to us about surf camp. Surfing was high up on my ToDo list while down under, and while its freezing out and my balls may be in danger of lodging themselves perminantley up in my throat when I go in the water, I decided to nut up or shut up and sign up for surf camp. His whole pitch was basically, it's $99 a day all inclusive, that's cheaper than staying in Sydney and you get to learn to surf. Sounded like B.S. but after a day here I'm convinced it's the truth. So surf camp here I come! Fred even signed up with me!
The rest of the day was spent running around town trying to setup bank cards and tax file numbers, and eating pizza. I have a feeling if I stay in Sydney I'll be forced to eat lots and lots of pizza.
I still haven't really figured out a game plan yet but I decided the surfing thing would be a good way to get my feet wet (no pun intended). Nothing like starting off your year long vacation with a vacation I always say! I'm also not sold on whether or not this program was worth it yet, that parts still to be discovered. But I do know that for anyone thinking about going but who's too nervous it's definitely nice to have something kind of setup for you when you get here. Once I get back from surf camp I'm gonna make myself fully available and see how much work they actually get me, but for now the jury is still out. I've also got some opportunities lined up elsewhere so maybe if I can find something on my own it'll be worth having them as a little supplemental income on the side. 
Next step is continue to meet new people, be open, and hopefully get all my shit done before I leave for surf camp. That part probably isn't gonna happen though since I don't think the banks here are open on the weekend, so hopefully what I've already taken out will be enough to get me through till next week. I can't wait to do some yoga on the beach and meet some new Aussies, and others, and hopefully get in touch with some friends of friends and start making this adventure awesome! But as a good friend of mine told me, "Don't have any expectations Logi, just go and meet new people and see where it leads you."
Thanks Ging.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Two Weeks and Counting

As I close in on the first leg of my journey I'm beyond ecstatic. Not only do I get to go to Colorado and see my best friend get married... I'm actually doing the honors of performing the ceremony. When I got ordained a few years back I never really knew if it was something I'd use outside of my first ceremony. I performed my sisters wedding which was epically Star Wars themed! But now a few years later I have another opportunity to put my powers to good use. Though this wedding will be a little more traditional than the first I'm still excited to add my own bit of flavor and pizzazz. On top of that I get to spend a week in Beer Heaven and do something I never do but feel is my duty, smoke some legal weed. Walk right into a store, pick out a baggy, walk right out and light a doobie in front of La Policia. 

I haven't packed, and honestly I'm sure I'll forget more than one essential item, but none the less I'm excited for the process of doing that. I`ve always been somewhat of a nomad as it is, but now I have to pack my ENTIRE LIFE, everything into one giant backpack. What do you need, what is totally non-essential. I don't really think you can know for sure until you`re out there and think to yourself, "shit I can't believe I forgot that," or "why the hell did I even bring this?"

I'm excited to pay it forward, to put out some good karmic juju and hope it pays off in the future. The one good thing about moving is you get to reinvent yourself. Anyone who moved growing up knows that while the idea of leaving your home and your friends is daunting, the idea of reinvention is invigorating. I long to be a better person, more giving, more open to other people and other cultures, and I think this will afford me that opportunity. To become a "yes" man, to take new risks and adventures, meet new people and go new places. Now I know it won`t all be exciting and sometimes it will just be plain old hard work finding a place to sleep, a meal to eat. But I think the more open-minded I stay, and the more I accept that the journey is more important than the destination, well with that attitude nothing can truly go wrong. I hope to hear from the people back home, I`ve moved a lot in my life so the idea of being homesick is not one I`m super familiar with, but I know it's something I will be at some point. I hope anyone of my friends who keeps in touch and is reading this knows how much you all mean. I don't know where I'll be when I get back, heck I don't even know for sure if I'll come back, but I think in my heart I know that home is where you make it (you wanna see homos naked? Waterboy anyone?). With that in mind I want you all to know I have many homes and as I begin to embark on this adventure I'll be home sick for all of you.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Anxious Dreams

As I pass the one month mark until my trip I feel as if I've stepped back into my doubts from months past. I'm still excited, still ready for an adventure but as the days begin to dwindle I've started to realize "holy shit... I'm actually doing this". I'm assuming this is normal, to feel some apprehension as you close in on any huge life altering move. I've thought about past relationships, friendships, and played over and over again stories from my past in my head. I don't know what is in store for me, but I'm anxious and I'm nervous but I have to remember this is why I wanted to do this in the first place. To test myself, push my limits, and go outside of my comfort zone to see what I`m really capable of. 

I don't know if it's karma or simply an awakening, but I seem to be noticing more and more of my friends and aquaintances are doing something similar to me. How did I not notice these stories and faces before, but now they shine down on me and fill me with new life. I've received words of encouragement and inspiration, made plans with friends I might meet, and tried to mentally prepare myself for this experience. I think I'm ready, I mean I know you can never truly be "ready" for something that potentially life altering but I think I am close. The reality is I'm most likely in for a grand wide awakening and an expectations or predictions I've had will be tossed aside as soon as the plane wheels touch down. I'm excited for my new friends, where are they from, what brought them here, and most importantly, where are they going, and can I please tag along. 

I'm also excited to see how I change, how I adapt, how everything from my outlook on life to my writing style changes. If I stick this out, if I really do this, I will not be the same person in a year that I am today. I've debated what I should do to track this change, to somehow capture my transformation. Obviously this blog will be a great way to look back and track my progression but I think something visual is important to as well. So whenever I'm not sure if what I did was right or if I've really changed I will have proof to look back on and remind myself of what I've done and what I've accomplished. Because of that and because of the age we live in, I've decided on a "selfie a day". I've seen wonderful videos of how you change over a year and I've always wondered what my own transition would be like. So starting the day I land I will begin my chronicle, and use it at the end of my journey as encouragement to continue to push onward. To continue to challenge the social normalcy of society, and to continue to remind myself that I don't want to be different, I am different, because I'm not conforming to what life and society tells us to do, and I encourage you all to do the same. I know not many of you will read this and keep up, but for those of you that do I think the biggest thing I hope to accomplish is to help push you in the right direction. To give you the courage to chase your dreams no matter how silly they may seem. And maybe someday we can toast to following our dreams, while others watch them float by. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

World Cup Fever

Like most middle-class American white kids I grew up with my first organized sporting experience being youth soccer. I started when I was about seven and played until I was about 15, when I abruptly quit because my coach was a douche. I was also playing two years up, which would make it sound like I was pretty good when in fact we were the worst team in that age group. All that being said you think I would still have somewhat of an affinity for the "World`s Game" but in reality I don't... not even a little. But I like many other Americans have become something of a soccer fanatic over the past few weeks as I've become intrenched with the dramatic plays, and story lines of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. 

Because of this new phenomenon social media has been divided into three distinct groups. Group 1 is people who still hate soccer, because its not a sport that appeals to our American desires for Gladiatorial like entertainment, and these people hate I mean HATE all these new so-called soccer enthusiats. Then there's the flip side of the coin, the true soccer lovers, few and far between die hard fans who anxiously anticipate this moment every four years. They too hate these new American soccer lovers with the same passion hipsters hate when one of their favorite bands "you've probably never heard of" gains mainstream success. Which brings us finally to this third group, the outcasts if you will, except in this moment the VAST MAJORITY. We are the casual observers of soccer who once every four years goes ape shit bananas for the Stars and Stripes! If you had asked any of us a year ago to name one player of the USMNT we all would have said the same guy, and he didn't make the 23-man roster. Now I know atleast half a dozen of these guys by name and feel like I've been personally watching them for years. 

So that brings us to the elephant in the room, which group is right? I think honestly all groups have a valid opinion, if you hate soccer, you hate it, if you love it, same holds true, but why are we the newly crowned Super Fans ostracized for our new found love of the game? I've been thinking about this question a lot as I've been eagerly watching every second of the U.S. in their pursuit, even as I've found myself engulfed watching teams in different groups in extremely exciting matches of their own. Normally for about 3 years and 10 months out of ever 4 years, I don't care, it's not that I particulary hate soccer, I just don't care. There are dozens of European leagues with hundreds of players of which I can only name a few, each league with mulitple levels, a multitude of league championships, and salaries that make U.S. athletes look like slave laborers. With the way American sports are its hard for me and I'm sure most Americans to keep up, we like our sports with two leagues and one championship. We hate ties, and we can't stand the ideas that a draw or heaven forbid a loss can still be an acceptable outcome. All that being said, for two months every four years... I get it. The World Cup makes sense, in an AMERICAN way, and more importantly we get to root for someone we all know and love, it's not Altidore, or Bradley, or that white guy with the sweet dreads, it's Old Glory. And quite honestly as far as tournaments go the setup is actually pretty sweet, a round robin opener (College World Series Style), a Sweet-16 tournament (ala March Madness), and finally the most popular championship game in the world (The Super Bowl of Futbol if you you will). 

So to the haters out there I think the real question is, why do YOU like soccer the rest of the time? You're a ManU fan huh, why's that exactly, besides that they are the Dallas Cowboys of Futbol. Look people can like what they like, but soccer will never be America's Game. Its been the sport with the greatest increases in participation every year for the last 20 years, but how many of us can honestly said we watched the MLS Championship last year? I can honestly admit I don't even know when the MLS season takes place, and I really don't care. But what I do care about is that whether you like soccer or not, this World Cup has been two things for Americans, exciting, and hopeful. We hung in there with Germany, we have a great shot against Belgium, and while if we make it to Argentina, Messi may get the best of us but I'm content just to continue to piss the rest of the world off. That we are hanging in there with the big dogs and soccer isn't even a top-5 sport in our country. To be honest when the U.S. gets the boot my interest will decline dramatically. I'll still probably watch the semis and the final because I have become familiar with many of the stars, but what if the U.S. keeps winning, our odds are at 1% right now, but what if we keep going. At that point even the biggest soccer ney-sayers will be forced out of simple patriotism. And though I think the odds are bleak, and without wanting to jinx it, dare I say, what if WE WIN? Besides the collective minds of the rest of the nations in the world exploding simultaniously, I think a World Cup semi-finals, or finals appearance might help soccer achieve in America what it's been longing for, for decades... relavance. But probably not, at least not until 2018!