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.