Monday, April 29, 2013

Life Update and Internet

4/28/13 Afternoonish?

Sometimes I have something to write about. This is not one of those times. But I feel obligated to update on my life (I almost just typo'd "lie" instead of "life". I swear, I'm actually in Melbourne, at least I think...).

It's autumn here. That doesn't mean it's cold, but it does mean that leaves are turning yellow (and will probably fall, but I don't know). I'm writing in a park by the Yarra River.
I don't actually know what I want to say. I started a job last Tuesday. It's door to door sales for comedy tickets to the Comic's Lounge, one of the big clubs in town. It's a 4 day a week job from about 10:30 to 5. Seems like I can make quite a bit of coin doing it, but that remains to be seen. But since it's only Tuesday-Friday, I'm going to get another job at bar or something. I don't know. I got the RSA License (and wrote a joke about it!).
I was going to see Iron Man 3, but haven't yet. I went to check prices. Yeah, gonna wait until I can get a good deal on tickets. It was a long weekend for Ansac Day. I think it's like a Memorial or Veteran's Day. They have signs that say "Lest we forget". This places is very American, but often peppered with very British-isms. Regardless, weekend tickets were $19 for a non 3D movie. Weekday matinee (is that the spelling? Daytime. Daytime tickets) are only $11 though, so I will wait until I can go for one of those. That's eight dollars mate! (sorry, that's one of the only phrases I can say with an Australian accent. It's a hard one and I'm still surrounded by internationals...)
Speaking of internationals, I'm very sick of hostel life. I'm still not 100% comfortable finding a more permanent living situation until I know that I will have enough cash coming in. The sales job is commission only, and I've only worked a single day (long weekend remember).

I know! I'll finally explain how terrible the internet situation is in this country: very bad. I came to this country assuming it would be a similar situation as the US. I was wrong. Internet in Australia is terrible. Coming from Minneapolis especially, it's extremely expensive and limited. There are certain places that have free wifi, but those places are few an far between. The Victoria State Library is one of those places, but it's typically quite slow. I also have a spot that I go to called the Australian Centre (ugh, spell it right, jerks) for Moving Images (I think?). It's a pretty secluded area that is very usually deserted at night when I do most of my online-ing. The hostel I'm currently staying has wifi, but guess what! It costs money! I will be switching back to the Discovery, which has free internet, next Friday. As far as businesses that have free wifi, it's mostly american fast food chains. Your McDonalds, Burger King (Hungry Jacks here...), Starbucks. Gloria Jeans is another coffee chain with wifi as well, and hooray it's local kind of!
As far as 3g, my current plan gives me 500mb per month. Which is not a lot. Today is my last day of the 30, and I need to check into other wireless plans. I currently use Amaysim on their $20 plan, but Woolworths (a local supermarket) offers a plan for about $30 which has 5gb. 500mb makes me sad. It's so limiting feeling. I didn't rip my cds before I came here because I figured I could just use spotify/pandora. Looking over this post it seems I'm just bitching. Fair enough. /rant

Also, I attached pictures of the park/river.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Post Festival Life Update, or I'm Tired and This Post is All I Can Manage

Hi readers of this blog (Mom and Dad only, as far as I can tell). The comedy festival just finished last night. I know I should talk about it, but for the life of me, I don't want to. It was an incredible experience. It was comedy every night, both seeing and performing. I met people, and I'm planning a show for next year already. It was one of the best months of my entire life. But it's ended, and I'm exhausted. I missed the Bollywood themed after-party that happened at the Hifi bar last night because for the first time in the entire festival, the bouncers were checking passes to make sure they matched the entrant. Since mine did not match, I did not go in. I'm conflicted about how I feel about it. On the one hand, I missed the last party of the season, which was supposed to be pretty epic, lasting up to 7am. But on the other hand, it was Bollywood themed, and that sucks. Also I'd been going out to the parties practically every night. Regardless, the month is done, and I get to live as human first and comic second now (which I'm very much looking forward to). I will talk about it in more detail (probably), so if you're interested stay tuned.

I start my job tomorrow. I'll be selling tickets for the Comic's Lounge door to door (you know, because I didn't feel like being done talking about comedy). Apparently I can make quite a bit of coin doing so, but my guess is that the work will be a bit grueling. I'm looking forward to income though. I'm getting closer to being desperate (which makes me feel desperate already, which is approximately the state I have felt for the past month and a half). I'm also completely sick of hostels. I thought I would have had an apartment long ago, but evidently the world does not always operate in the way that I would like. I've discovered (well, somebody told me about it) a new avenue to solve my own personal housing crisis. With luck, I'll find something for next week. The room I'm currently staying is not one which I will look back on fondly. It's a 6 bed dorm, and the other occupants are trying as best they can to turn it into a party room. Specifically, there are two Irishman who drink excessive amounts of goon every night (goon is a term used down here for very cheap wine. 4 liter boxed wine for <$10 type wine). I understand that at around 20ish years of age, I was probably not that different than they, but I'm not anymore. My only goal in life is not getting wasted and bangin' cooze. I'd known that my priorities had changed, but my current situation has focused my attention to it.

I've started trying to explore more of the city than just the CBD. I'm in Fitzroy North right now, at a cafe/restaurant called the Tin Pot. I got a salmon baguette sandwich. Delicious. Tasted a lot like a bagel with lox, which I'm totally fine with. Fitzroy reminds me a lot of Uptown. There are a lot of little shops around, and tons of small cafe type places. I'd rather not live too far away from the city, but we'll see what happens. I've walked all the way here, but I may take take the tram back.

When not comedy-ing, I've actually been reading a lot here. I remembered that I got a new Hennepin County Library account before I left, and that I can read any book on my tablet. I'd tried reading on my phone, which is why I signed up for the service a while back, but that sucks ass. Tablet reading is way better. Better to the point of being almost preferable to a physical book. If you haven't tried it, fucking do. It's a great way to read practically any book you want for free.

I think I'm gonna be done writing now. How are y'all doing?

P.S. I've started saying y'all. I'm an American living abroad; no one here thinks it's out of place!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Why Melbourne

I just realized I hadn't yet addressed this question. It struck me as odd. I've explained why many times to many people, and it seems like something I should have addressed here long ago. My stint in Melbourne is reaching the two month mark. It's time.

Two events led me onto the path that I'm on now. The first is the end of an era, and the second is the beginning of a new one.

On a Tuesday in late June of last year, my life changed abruptly. I had been dating Alissa for over 8 years, and we'd lived together for more than 3. There were definite signs that I should have seen that meant she was drifting away, but I didn't. I understand now why she left, but at the time I was thunderstruck. Though the week of extreme ju-wallowing filled with marathons Mad Men and True Blood (classy, I know) and a lot less ice cream as tv and movies led me to believe, ended shortly after and I'm still living in the shadow of that relationship, following me even here (I may touch on that topic at a later date, or I might just tell you to mind your own business, jerk). The most important reason I needed to remove myself from the situation was because Alissa wouldn't. Despite agreeing to my plea to leave for a while, she went to a party the following weekend, and started dating another comic immediately and generally kept coming out to comedy events (shows, the plethora of parties that happen when you live a rock and roll lifestyle yet somehow involves neither rock nor roll, etc). I don't want to come across as petty (despite being incredibly petty), so I won't address my feelings regarding her actions, but I since she wouldn't leave, I knew that I had to. As early as August I knew it I had to go. I also don't want to come across as simply running away from my problems (I probably am (Ok, I totally am), but I don't want you to think that's my sole factor). 8 years attached to another person, considering someone else before making life decisions, colors the way you think about making seismic changes. And at 27 years old, I knew my opportunities to make drastic moves were diminishing.

Immediately after that traumatic event in June, I applied and was hired for my first paid job at a political organization. It was a temporary position at America Votes working with voter data. I really loved that boring work. It both helped me determine a timeline and provided the financial means for me to make my move. The position came with an end date of November 30th. Along with the constraints listed in the last paragraph, the planned termination helped me determine my next actions. The two options real options I had been considering in August had been Austin, TX and Helsinki, Finland. The two had very different purposes: Austin is known as a fantastic stand up scene, and Finland is a far off land I've always wanted to see. Neither, though, fit both of my criteria for what I wanted. Austin felt too close to home, and Finland speaks Finnish, precluding stand up for all but ex-pats, which, totally no thanks. London came to mind when I thought of places that fit both of my needs, but it felt a bit obvious, and I knew it was expensive. The real breakthrough came when late at night I was watching stand up videos on youtube. I was watching Hannibal Burress videos, and one of the suggestion videos was of a set at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Obviously I'm not a headlining comic who could just do the festival, but there's no way a festival can happen if there's not a local appetite for comedy. Figuring that the festival had to be supported by some kind of scene, I instantly made my decision. While I didn't tell anyone for more than a month, the decision was firmly made, and I began planning for it. I researched my best options, including whether I could even move to Australia. After finding the Work-Holiday visa, I thanked my lucky stars that events had played out the way they had and not later in life, because the visa's requirements preclude anyone over the age of 30. 27 isn't skin of your teeth close, but it's not far off either. By mid December, I'd purchased and received my visa, and I would be living in Australia for a year.

I'm not sure it was the best decision of my life (Taco Bell, remember), but if it's not it's damn close.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

This Post is Just for Me (or, I Took a Metaphorical Punch Last Night and Felt Like Punching Back)

I had the worst set of my life last night at a venue that's notorious for being rough. It's on every night of the festival, and I've only missed it twice, but last night it shook me harder than I've been shaken in a long time.
But let's be honest: I have nothing to complain about whatsoever. I'm half-way across the world and I barely even remember that most days. What a bizarre fucking realization that is for me every time I remember it. It's raining off and on here today, and people hate rain, but I don't. I love rain. Before it rained I was invited to go the beach, which I passively declined by not meeting up with people in the hostel lobby, instead opting to read free books from Hennepin County's online library system. This is really great. It looks like it's raining again, and goddamnit if I'm not utterly beaming. Fuck you Exford Hotel; you can't break me. I'll be back again tonight so buckle up motherfuckers.

(Don't read too much into this post. It was written for cathartic purposes. I felt like posting it because, realistically, I'm an egomaniac)

Coffee and More Melbourne Insights

April 7th, 2013
I have another continuation of my last comedy post in the works, but I'm not in the mood to write about at the moment. This post will probably be just another life post.

Melbourne touts itself as coffee town, and any time a town toots their own horn that much I get pretty skeptical. I've been of that mindset here for a while, but I just had a pretty damn good latte from a 24hr coffee and donut place called "Walker's" off Flinders Street. Flinders is one of the large streets in downtown Melbourne, and the farthest south before you hit the Yarra River (the city doesn't end past the river though. Just south is actually the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere). They do a peculiar thing in this town that I haven't encountered before, which is that they main artery roads downtown, and between they have small one-ways named after the main roads with "Lt" in front of them (for example, they have Bourke Street and Lt Bourke Street). The Lt is an abbreviation for "Little", but if you know me at all you should know that I take quite a bit of delight in loudly, and in false confusion, calling them "Lieutenant" Streets ("Yeah, we're just crossing Lieutenant Collins Street!").

Anyway, back to the coffee. I also got a Simpsons'eque pink-frosted donut. The frosting was definitely flavored pink as well (I don't know what the pink was; I thought raspberry, but I'm not 100%, could have been strawberry too. Look, just let it be pink flavored). I've been mostly getting 7 Eleven lattes. They're $1, which is exactly in my price range. Before I started drinking them, I just assumed they were like shitty gas-station lattes back home (which I love). To my surprise, they're actually fairly sophisticated machines that make sophisticated coffees and I'm beginning to think this place actually does take their coffee seriously.

I frequently call people back home on account of the ludicrously cheap price it costs to call. But I've been finding it's a really weird experience. I'm generally not one to prattle on about what I'm doing, and I feel odd doing it. When I find myself asking how things are going back home, all I hear is that the world just keeps on spinning. I don't know what I'm expecting from people. Maybe it's not fair to do that. I've noticed in the past that when I get back together with friends I haven't seen in a while it takes a bit of time to get past the what's new in your life phase, and before things return to a normal conversational pace, there's an awkward stage. I mean, how interesting is the minutia of my day really? Is it worth explaining the entire background information of my Australian experience just to get to where I can talk about eating at Pie Face?

As usual, I have a lot to say, but I don't feel up to task of writing it all down and editing it. I've found that if I don't immediately start editing my work I generally don't post it and while the thoughts often find their ways into future posts, their form changes and I end up losing some of the original feeling. It also exhausts me. There's so much to write about. I'm not sure if my purpose for writing has changed either. Originally I thought this was just going to be mostly my musings about the differences between my life back home and my life here. I have some intensely personal things to say that may or may not end up in here. It feels cowardly not to include them, but it's also difficult to put them out publicly. I've decided that these writings will end up in what will essentially a one man show (you know, because I don't have delusions of grandeur...) maybe for the Melbourne Fringe, but likely for next year's festival. And perhaps Minneapolis' Fringe. The festival has me thinking a lot. Ugh, this last paragraph was supposed to be a soft closing paragraph for this post, but I'm leaving many more open questions than closed.

I love donuts! (that's a better close, right?)

P.S. I'm writing in my favorite spot to write in all of Melbourne, and I felt like attaching a picture of my view. Also a picture of Pie Face; it's a fast food restaurant that sells meat pies. Additionally, my post about everything that's been happening in the Festival is coming. It will be a very expansive post and you'll get more context for what's happening and where my thoughts here are coming from.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Comedy in Melbourne: Arrival

April 3rd, 2013
This post is a long time coming. The only reason I've been putting it off is because there's a lot to tell. It's actually been the highlight of my experience down here. For this post, I'll start from relatively the beginning.

When I landed about 6 weeks ago, my goal was to immediately find the first club I could find and see a show. I ended up going to Last Laugh Comedy Club in Melbourne's CBD (downtown). It was a good show, and definitely a learning experience. My intention had been to talk to the MC and find out how the comedy scene in Melbourne. What I found was that the structure of shows in Australia is a different than Minneapolis. The hierarchy of the show is different, and the MC was way above my level. I talked to him anyway, but found that his knowledge of the open mics was less helpful. I ended up checking out the shows he recommended, but it was clear that the shows were a bit out of my league as someone starting over. Had I just been visiting, I probably could have BS'd my way on, but knowing that I'm in it for the long haul I decided not to push my luck.

I ended up finding an open mic/showcase run a block from my hostel (I don't remember how I found it. It very well could have been through the venues I went to, but it also could have been from the hostel itself. I just don't remember). Comedy-oke it's called. I was actually quite thrilled to find it for multiple reasons; for one, it was a venue I could definitely get on, but secondly and more importantly, I fucking love karaoke. Since shows here are all booked in advance, it took a week before I got on the stage. At this point I had only done about 3 sets in the past month, jesus christ did I have the itch. When I finally took the stage, a very weird experience. The gig is called Comedy-oke, and it's at a bar in adjacent to a hostel (Melbourne International Backpackers, or MIB for short), meaning it's full of international backpackers who often don't speak English natively. Additionally, I packed the place with the menagerie of people I had met at my hostel. As such, while it was definitely good to get on stage, it still hurts when your good jokes back home die in front of your eyes. It's also a lesson that I can't seem to make myself learn. For example, no matter how much I try, I can't make my Man-kiss joke work at all. I do feel like I'm evolving as a comic, and there are a lot of opportunities here that are not back home.

This is an adequate back-story for my continued comedic exploits in Australia, and another post will follow this one relatively soon (I say relatively because relative to the last time I posted, it will actually happen within the next few days).


My Life is Actually Less Sad Than This Post

March 28th, 2013

Look, it's been a really long time since I last posted and I'm sorry for that (I'm not). I'm probably going to combine a few posts I've got half written, so this may be a long one. Or it may not; I may split them up after writing.

I've been in Australia for over a month now. I'm still living in Discovery Hostel. I don't recall exactly what I've said about Discovery in the past, but I'm not thrilled with this place. That's not fair. I'm not thrilled with how my life here has progressed. It's not Discovery, it's that I'm still jobless and unwilling to get an apartment without a job that can sustain it. I figured that by now I would have had a job, or at least something to do during the day. One thing I've learned about myself in the past is that the less I'm doing, the less likely I am to do more. If I have endless free time, it remains just that, free time. I've gone through cycles like this one in my life a few times before and I know that I have to be proactive about making myself occupied. Sure, being free to do whatever I want is quite enjoyable, and it's allowed me to be very carefree, but it comes at a cost. I'm not sure if I've ever actually been depressed before, but I can tell you the times in my life when I had nothing to get up for weren't pleasant.

What's really stunning to me is that I've been in Australia for more than a month, and I'd spent two weeks on the west coast in the US before I came, putting me at a grand total of more than 6 weeks away from home. I've never been away for so long. The longest I've ever been out of Minnesota is probably less than two weeks, and even then it was a child and I knew I was going to be coming home shortly (side note: I don't know when I was away for 2 weeks as a child, but I know we had family vacations at least that long so don't ask me where I went...). All of this is to say that I'm not homesick at all. Sure there are a few specific things that I miss, most notably Taco Bell (sorry family), but as a whole, I feel very comfortable being away. Obviously, technology helps with that. I can call anybody in the states for dirt cheap if not free and the time delay isn't horrendous. Additionally, this place really isn't all that different from home. It's a bit bigger of a city, and sure I'm surrounded by people who speak funny, but I can understand them, and it's still a modern city. In fact, when I went to Adelaide a few weekends ago I was struck by how remarkable similar to home that city was. Just the parks and the nature. Adelaide is smaller than Melbourne, and I didn't notice it at first, but I did after spending the full weekend there. On a map, the streets are about as numerable, but the blocks are smaller. And while it was quite busy in certain places, I know that I went during the Adelaide Fringe Festival and realistically the city is has a lot less to do than Melbourne.

Melbourne has a lot going on all the time though. Makes me really wish I had an apartment and wasn't at the whim of a hotel. Luckily it's less busy than it was during the Grand Prix, but having to renew weekly and dealing with the influx of new people each week is exhausting. And I will relish having a room to myself. I have a lead on a room in a house that's significantly less than here, and evidently not too far out in the boonies.

Ugh, no matter how I put it, this whole piece feels so fucking inconsequential. "This is my life" "This is what's happening" "I can't get my life together to leave this shitty place that gives me a place to stay and makes life easy"
What a crock of shit.

Yes, this place is different than home. I'm enjoy myself immensely when I'm not going in complete shambles about my finances or feeling like a giant turd for not finding a job. I spend my days watching tv on my computer and looking at Cracked articles. This isn't a different situation than from home. All I've done is change the setting of my misery from a cold home where I can easily find a job and a warm, but turning colder, place that I sit around doing the exact same shit I would back home but jobless. This isn't some ideal paradise I've found myself in. I can barely even find ways to destroy my taste-buds in this crazy place. The grocery stores don't sell "hot" salsa; only mild and medium, which are even milder settings than they are back home. The only reason they don't have a hot here is so that people can feel like there's another level out there and feel secure in their mediocrity.

At the center of my disheartment (no matter how I try to make a form of "disheart-" work, spell check says I'm wrong, so disheartment (no spell check I don't mean "dish heart") stays even if it's not a word. Deal with it) is the dilemma I find myself in every day: I have enough money to survive for 2 months if I do nothing but stay in the city and live as cheaply as I can until I find a job, but as a result I don't do any of the things that brought me here in the first place. I STILL HAVE YET TO SEE A FUCKING KANGAROO! I've used up more than a full month of my year here and what do I have to show for it? Fucking nothing. I've made friends with a bunch of foreigners who have come and gone. Fucking great. I don't have the energy to keep doing that. I'm sick of temporary friends.

Ok, that was very sad that last paragraph. I have been doing things here, especially regarding comedy. I guess that'll be in the next post. I'm just frustrated because I went downstairs to the bar for "Date Night" with free wine and cheese and I don't know anybody and I can't bring myself to try. Also they dole out the wine and cheese in "tastes" and I'm still hungry and not drunk. I bought bottle of brandy because I was feeling too poor about going to bars and not buying alcohol. But they don't let you drink in the rooms and I have no good way to pour the brandy into my flask.

Holy fuck this post has gotten long. I really need to shorten it. But I will probably just post it.