Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cars and Lechery

This post was principally written on 3/15/13, but I've been slowly editing it...
I just arrived in Adelaide. I decided mid-week I was going, and the decision was mainly due to every place in Melbourne being completely full. I say mainly because there are other reasons, such as a friend playing in a show and a desire to see more of Australia so that in the event that I run out of money and have to go home prematurely I've been outside of just Melbourne. The reason Melbourne is completely full is because of the Formula 1 Racing being in town. Apparently, it's one of the biggest weekends for the hostels/hotels. As an opponent of racing "sports" as a general rule, believe me when I say I was none to pleased to find out this information. The direct quote I consistently used was "it's just cars driving! Who gives a shit?! If you want to see cars driving you can go to the highway any time you want!" I'm not gonna retract that statement, but I will say that I did go to the free day for F1 and I did enjoy the shit out of it.  It was a lot more than just cars and the watching of their driving therein (does that make sense? Pretend it did). While we did watch them for a while, there was also a stationary car that you could race a friend which I won, free samples of shampoo (I'm poor, that gets me excited. Oh and I got both man and woman shampoos; don't judge, still poor), and an inflated jump bag that was 10 meters off the ground. I was particularly cavalier about the height from the ground, but it was an entirely different story when I got to the top. In my head I knew it was perfectly safe, but goddamn if my body did not want to jump. It took everything I had to jump and it was exhilarating, but apparently I let out a yelp as I leapt. Not like a braveheart yell or a manly scream. Nope. Just a scared, involuntary yelp. After I'd jumped I had that giddy feeling again, kinda like the one I had at the beach in LA. I'm not saying that I wouldn't have jumped if the same situation had been back home, but it was here and it was exactly the kind of situation that I came here to do. I watched a video for bungie-jumping the other day, and I think I'm gonna try it. Knowing that feeling of pushing myself do something my body absolutely refuses to do was pretty unique for me. I want it again. Before coming here, I wanted to sky-dive. I might still, but I also may leave it for a different time. Sky-diving is everywhere; I can do that back home if push comes to shove. Lastly, I keep seeing the city from different angles. The view from that area of town particularly great. Melbourne has an absolutely stunning skyline.

I had a bizarre experience at the hostel these past few days. I'm not particularly keen on sharing it, but as long as I'm pushing my boundaries here, I figure I should just tell the tale. I was put into a 14 bed room that was unbearably warm at night, and oh just for kicks, 12 of those beds were filled with beautiful women who stripped down to their underwear at night. How great, right? Yeah, no. Not the best by a longshot. First of all, my period synced with theirs in 2 days (seriously, I've had that one locked and loaded for the better part of a week...), but more importantly, nothing makes you feel like a gross old man than 12 women no older than 22. Oh, and check it out, none of them speak English natively, so I can't even settle for a charming weirdo. Nope, I just get to be a weirdo, a weirdo who is staring at girls in their underwear in bed (no sheets either, of course, because remember it's like 100 degrees) BECAUSE THERE'S LITERALLY NOWHERE ELSE TO LOOK. And let's not forget that they are in groups that speak the same language, Swedish and French I think, so I'm pretty sure all they were doing the whole time was recognizing how big a creep I am and judging me openly. I'm not saying I want a situation where it's just me and only dudes, but christ, help me out, would ya?! Here's the worst part: I'm not even the creepiest dude in the hostel! There were old creepy old dudes in my last room that were way worse than me, so by comparison I looked like a normal dude trying to mind my own business. Which is precisely what I was doing. But since Jimmy, the crooning sexagenarian Colombian Scientologist, isn't directly nearby, I'm the oldest person in the room. (Jimmy, btw, also recommended that I take supplements to give life that little extra zip!) Fucking christ I probably am just that creepy. Fuck. Don't judge me.

There's more going on, but that'll be in another post.

*Editor's note: I realize I've used the word "creepy" a lot in this post. Turns out the thesaurus isn't that great when talking about creeps.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Living and Alcohol

3/10/13 2pm local time.

I've been in this country for over two weeks now, and I'm still jobless and homeless. That's not to say I don't have a place to stay, but a hostel is not a home. I'm actually back in Hotel Discovery tonight. It's the hostel I've been staying at for the past 2 weeks here, but they were complete full last night. In fact, every hostel in town was full. There was a big music festival in town. While I chose Melbourne because it's a worldly city with lost going on, it's getting pretty fucking annoying that there's something that brings in tons of people each weekend, and the hostels get overbooked. Next week is Formula 1 racing, and it's raising the prices of the hostels in town, so I may do some traveling instead of being here. Anyways, bringing it back to my predicament last night, I had to stay at a hotel in South Yarra, a nearby suburb just south of the Yarra River. It was actually a really nice hotel that if I were on a regular vacation I would stay at. I stayed with a friend I met at Discovery, and it was still $60 each, but seeing as how a hotel alone would have cost me $100 it was the right choice. I have to say it was nice to get away from the hostel life, if only for a night. The hotel had a mini fridge in the room, in room bathroom, and there was rooftop pool which had a great view of the city. I finally got to drink the bottle of beer I bought on my first day in Australia. The hostel doesn't allow outside alcohol, and I'd been itching to drink it. The beer was a pale ale, and god was it good. I never thought I'd say this, but I actually really miss IPAs since getting here. Drinking beer with a strong hop flavor is not a common occurrence here, and it reminds me of home. I want to point out that it's not that aren't available here, they are, but they're a lot less common in bars and not particularly common in stores. Craft beers are also significantly more expensive here. Well, not just craft beers, all alcohol. It's actually pretty ridiculous. Back home, you can get a 375mL of Bacardi for about $9, but here you're looking at $24 for that exact same bottle (well, not exactly the same. It's Cuban, not Puerto Rican. Embargo'd!) What most people do at the bar is buy pitchers (they call them jugs) of Carlton or VB (Victoria Bitters, I think). They're like your typical lager; think Bud or Miller. I can't tell if they're good or not. I'm quite fond of them, but there's a distinct possibility that it's because beer is served cold and this country has been very hot lately. You can get a pitcher for usually about $15, but I've seen them for as low as $10. A pint usually runs about $7 or $8, but they sell half pints for less, usually like $5. I got a shot of tequila (José Cuervo) at a nearby bar the other day for $8.50, and btw, shots are only 30mL here instead of about 50mL back home. The thing about alcohol here is though that bars aren't exceptionally more expensive than liquor stores. If you want to buy a 24 pack of beer, you're looking at about $50. Everywhere sells beer by the individual bottle, which cheap beers typically run about $3 for about 12oz (sizes range here a bit more with the metric system. Some are 375mL, some are 330mL). A common thing people do in the hostel is buy a box of Goon, which is, you guessed it, cheap boxed wine, and drink in the park. It runs about $10 for 4 liters, and supposed to be completely terrible. I personally have stuck to beer for my park drinking though.

Some friends are leaving today. It's a bit of strange life. They're going to other cities within Australia, so I may meet up with them later, but I'm not looking forward to having to make new friends. The hostel isn't great at fostering connections, which doesn't help. But even just meeting new people all the time gets to be a hassle. Here's how a conversation goes with every new person at the hostel: Where are you from? I'm from the US. Oh, where in the US? Minneapolis, do you know where that is? Ok, do you know where Chicago is? Ok, it's in the north middle part of the country. What did you do back home? What brings you here?
I realize that this won't end even after I leave the hostel, but hopefully less common and more one-sided.

One more side note before I post (I'm losing focus...), I'm starting to get sick of sushi. I didn't think I'd ever say that, but it's one of the cheapest foods here, and it's practically everywhere. They make it goofy too. I know I've talked about it a little bit, with the hand rolls and all (it's still weird, but it's growing me), but they also have weird kinds, like rolls with egg, and cooked chicken and beef. I know they have most of them at home, but I get the impression that they're less common. Here they're everywhere.
And having written all that, I think I'm gonna go get some sushi.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Making Friends and Such

Tuesday Mar/5/13, 2:35am
Ok, so things have gotten better for me since that last sad post. I've been meeting more people here, both at the hostel and at comedy shows. I know I mentioned earlier that there are very few Americans here, but it colors all of my interactions in this country, so I want to talk about it further.

In the hostel, there are a lot of Europeans, mostly Germans and Brits, but make no mistake there are people from all corners of Europe. I took two semesters of German in college, but it hasn't been particularly necessary, since all the Germans here speak pretty decent German. If I were better at it I might be able to hear if they're talking shit or something. Interestingly, I actually have used Spanish recently. A pair of Italians were put in my room who, combined, know about 7 words in English. I used to think that Spanish and Italian were mutually intelligible. Turns out, it's a bit different... I will say that I found out in Italian, calling a girl a pig is calling her a slut. The two guys are very friendly. I mentioned I worked in politics back home and one mentioned that Burlesconi is banging a friend of his.
I befriended a pair of Danes, and have decided I should learn Danish, because like my concern for the Germans, these guys talk shit in Danish since there are only about 5 million people in the world who speak it. A good example of when it would have been helpful was when my Danish friend (Jacob) and I went to a Mongolian restaurant (I have a food post that I'm working on, hold your horses) that was really expensive. If I'd spoken Danish, I could have openly said so, but alas I don't (yet). They're both physics engineers in grad school. I've noticed there are a few groups of friends in the hostel here, and I've kind of fallen in with one. It's weird. I never expected to be in a situation like this. It feels a bit like high-school. I still feel a bit like a loner though, I'm actually quite ok it. I'm booked for a comedy show tomorrow night, so it'll be nice to have a group of friends who are still willing to come out and see me.

I intended to talk about the comedy here, but I'm tired. I still have a lot to say about a lot of topics so I'll write tomorrow during the day, but for now, I want this to be posted.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Hostel

Feb 24th, 9:45pm local time. (look, I know this is being posted not at that time. Internet is shoddy in this country, I'll write more in depth about it later, but it means right now is that I can't always post when I write)
I figure I should put that it's local time since, my concept of time is completely warped. I saw somebody post about an upcoming event that was later in the night, only it was a day earlier. It was a surreal experience. Right now, what that means is that in CST, it's 4:45am, but hey at least it's the same day.

Perhaps somewhat related to my last comment, I feel a bit isolated here. So far since coming here, I've met only one person from the US. This hostel is enormous, and full of people from every corner of the world, except for the US turns out. As I write, there's a woman sitting relatively close by Skyping in French. Whether she's from France or Quebec I'll never know. People are quite cold hear. It's a far cry from the hostel I stayed in in Los Angeles. Duo Housing was small, intimate, and friendly. Discovery Melbourne is massive, distant, and, again, cold. Even the staff here is pretty get you in/get you out.
Before I get any further, I want to mention that it's the hostel itself that the people are cold. Aussie's have been very friendly, if somewhat difficult to understand at times (I'm also having a tough time distinguishing English and Australian accents. I'm not hearing them together; if I'm out and about, obviously everybody is Australian, but the hostel is chock full of Brits, and other Europeans whose English sounds British).

Reading back, this post seems really cynical. It's really not as bad as I'm making it out to be. I just feel like a huge stranger here.
But there's a bar in the basement, so it's not all bad.