Friday, July 26, 2013

Late July

It's almost 4am on the morning of 27 July (I've started doing that for work. It tears me up inside). I'm about 4 drinks deep, having woke up to the sound of my roommate and some friends playing music in the living room. I'd like to say I don't know why I'm writing now, but I do; I've been putting off again and I have willful to write.
I have a lot of people I've been meaning to write to as well, but I just don't get the motivation.
OK, the brief break I took to make coffee just stretched into 45 minutes. But I'm back, and with coffee and biscuits (cookies). I'm actually quite gond of the cookie/biscuit culture here. It pairs well with the coffee tea culture. I'm not sure if I've elaborated on the topic yet, but coffee here is different. And I'm not just referring to the espresso machine in my house, it's that I can't find a decent coffee shop open past like 5pm. Fuck I keep retreading old topics. Let's do this; here's what's happening in my life:
I'm still working at Salmat. It's a call center organization. I'm pretty sure I tried to avoid saying the actual company I was taking calls for in the last post, but I kind of don't care any more; I work for Foxtel, which is the only cable tv company in Australia. It's a shit job. And the worst part about that last sentence is that I said it was "shit" instead of shitty. I haven't been here 6 months, and I've picked up Australianisms. I mean, I still occasionally say downtown instead of CBD, but I've definitely picked up phrases like "how're you going". At first I actively rejected it, but I've come to the conclusion that it's the phonetically the laziest fucking greeting in the English language. Seriously. Say it out loud right now. "How ya goin'". It's just one fluid motion. It's like it's practically one word.
Actually, it's quite weird being on calls at the call center and phonebanking for the local Labor candidate. On several occasions, I've had people ask me where I was located. Melbourne. I'm in Melbourne in your fucking country. Do you honestly think things are so bad in America that Australia is outsourcing call center jobs? Nope. I'm here visiting, and relatively low on funds at the moment so I've denigrated myself to work at a call center 10,000 miles away from home.
If I'm being honest though, I don't really mind the job. The days go by quickly, and I'm fond of most of the people I work with. The pay is Australia adequate, but America good. As of yet, I have no reason to leave. There's been talk of keeping people on after the 5 month contract, but as one co-worker put it "the fact that there is an end date in sight is big reason why the job is tolerable".
I'm also volunteering for the local Labor candidate for Batman (hehehe). It feels great to be in a campaign office, and see what's going on. It's a very relaxed atmosphere at this point, which is almost a bit irritating for me. The focus of volunteers seems to be shorter here than back home, but it's technically not election season yet, so I'll have to see what happens when an election date is set. Beyond that frustration is actually a deeper insecurity about volunteering for the office. I doubt highly that this volunteer stint will present an opportunity for work, and that being the case I have a strong feeling of outsider-ness. This isn't my campaign. I have no real vested interest in the outcome. In fact, the main opposition is a group of people with whom I actually harbor some sympathy. The interesting aspect of Batman (HEHEHEHEHE) is that the Liberal party is so outmatched that they aren't even the primary opposition, it's the Greens. Many of the people on the campaign are part of Young Labor, and I just question, not their loyalty, nor their commitment, but their logic. If you don't live in the district, is it really that important that Labor maintain the seat? Sure a Green MP wouldn't caucus with Labor, but ultimately so what? They would still support Kevin Rudd over Tony Abbott. Don't get me wrong, I'll continue the work (well, volunteering) I'm doing, but under these circumstances it's difficult to get excited. That, and the general malaise of the Australian people towards politics. It just.... it's just not home.
I want to address my comedy as well. Since my last post I'm actually feeling quite good about what I've been writing. The demons that brought me to this country are finally being addressed. It's an odd sort of business. I knew that I wanted to make my comedy more personal, that was part of my sabbatical to Melbourne in the first place, but it's a different process that I expected it would be, in large part because I had no specific expectations. All I had were vague notions of "I need to leave and figure out my life". In fact, it's actually quite reaffirming that most of what I'm talking about on stage isn't about the relationship itself. The last thing I want to do is reminisce about what I had. No, the way my experience is manifesting is through the person I've become since the funeral of my old life. Like most good comedy, it's an exaggerated version of what my life actually is, through my own personal lens.
I just paused to reflect on what I've wrtten, and began to fall asleep. Perhaps 5:25 is as a good a time as any to stop. Upon edit in the morning, we'll see what happens.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Life Implications

Editor's note: I wrote a post about a week and a half ago that I have yet to edit, but this post will go up before that because I'M GONNA POST IT ON THE FLY! I mean, I'll give it the once over, but I want the other one to reflect the actual time I put into writing it.
Additional editor note: I'm sorry I don't write more. Don't worry, I feel shitty about it too. I've decided I can't write at home, but I'm going to make an extra effort from now on.
What a terrible opening. Ugh. Regardless, I've decided my current life situation needed some chronicling, despite it's probable pointlessness. I've started a new job lately. Last week, specifically. It's a call center job for the cable company in town. Think Comcast, or if you're an Australian reader, it's THE ONLY ONE. It's a job, and it's paying me money. A relatively large amount of money actually. I'm the first line of defense for a shitty multi-national conglomerate. Fucking hooray. I want to point out that I am not ashamed of the job I'm doing, but the fact that I'm doing in brings me down. This is the first job since the liquor store that is completely unrelated to either of my professional paths. And I liked the liquor store job. This, well, I like the money. Wait, not even the money (ok, not true I love money), but what it can do for me. The job is contracted out until November, so it's temporary, and I shouldn't have to work for the rest of my tenure in this country.
Fuck that previous paragraph. A lot goes into these posts from me, I'm getting to the point where I'm willing to share more about the process. I don't know exactly how I feel about my job, other than negatively. Everything else I've done feels like progress towards my ultimate goals. This, though... this doesn't. I'm doing this for the money and that's it. It's that spinning wheels feeling that I don't like. I felt it deeply when I started. It's faded a bit in the past week and a half. I'm trying desperately not to say that this job is beneath me, but I'm struggling not to. What a horrible sentiment. If I can't avoid the fact that I think it's below me, then I why am I doing it? It's not just the compromise of my ethos, either. It's the kind of corporate bullshit job that I've been trying to avoid in my life. And beyond that, I'm not working towards my true passions (which is perhaps the douchiest way of putting it). Fuck. Does finding myself mean wading through a small life of boring meaninglessness? I watched Fight Club the other day (incidentally, the day I bought my ikea bed), and the mention a lot searching for rock bottom. It struck a nerve for me. Is that what I'm looking for? I don't think I am, but I am looking to rebuild my life from the ground up. What I do know is that this job is not what I want to do permanently, but it may illuminate what I really want.
What I'm thinking about doing is using what I make from this job and putting it toward traveling through the world on my way back to the US. A friend told me about a gig in China that I could do to help me get to the mainland, and thie
What's really happening is that I'm working at a call center, and I really hated it at first, but I'm starting to like it. Which I fucking despise myself for. THIS ISN'T WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE. I know that It's not actually what I want to do, and that when I actually get on the phones I'll probably, hopefully, hate it. I know that the money is the most important part for me. I know that. But there are benefits to working at just a boring, mindless job, and I don't like seeing them. I talk to people there who've been working there for years, and I don't know how to feel. I don't want to end up like that. I look down on them (yes, I'm aware I'm terrible person) because I fear I could end up in that situation. I need purpose and helping people with their fucking cable bill just doesn't cut it. How will this job help me avoid another job like this job when it ends? I'm afraid I'll end up like one of those people who loves comedy, but ends up quitting because it's too much effort to go out to the open mic after work. I'm worried that I'll find some worthless job and get comfortable instead of going out and volunteering to get a new spot on a political campaign! This is probably just irrational shit. I admit that, but these are deep seeded worries that I have. I know that both are things that I like, but if I'm at this job, do I really love them? Maybe I don't? I think I do, but maybe I'm just leading myself down paths that will ultimately leave me completely miserable. I know what a comedian lifestyle can do. I've seen it. I know what it can mean to work in politics. Yes, they're both fulfilling, but that fulfillment is professional, and I worry personal fulfillment won't be attached.
Ah fuck. I just realized where all of these feelings are coming from.
I turn 28 this month. It's my golden birthday. That means not much for most people, but for me it actually means quite a bit. I remember as a kid thinking how old 28 was, and how it was so far off. It's not any more. It's how old I am essentially right now. It's that whole mortality bullshit.
But it's not just that. It's looking at my life right now, and what I'm doing. This new job is not what I want to do, yet I'm doing it.
There's more though, and it's something I don't like addressing.
Alissa left me just over a year ago. It doesn't sit well. I'm still not in a place that I thought I would be now. Will I ever be? The front of my head, yes; yes of course I will, and it's quite adament. But fucking damnit, the back of my head and my heart are both screaming no. I don't like to be this vulnerable, but I want to admit to myself that I'm lonely, and I worry that I will be forever. It's a pathetic place to be, and I don't like the implications. These are normal reactions, but I don't like to think that I succumb to such average pains. I should be above these kinds of worries. But, again, I'm not. Instead I'm in Australia wallowing and whining about all the terrible things in my life.
This journey has had several different stretches, and I'm recognize that I recently changed into a new one. I don't know exactly when, but it happened. I know that it wasn't caused by my new job, but maybe from the preceding unemployment stretch before it. What's important, though, is how I know it: it no longer completely stuns me when I think of where I am. Up until now, I've had moments when I remembered that I was halfway across the world and my mind would be re-blown. Not any more. Now I think about it and am largely unaffected. It felt like a scene in a movie where all of a sudden the character is on the Great Wall China, and they backtrack to how he got there. It was abrupt, and it was fucking different. Not any more. I see what has happened, and my past is reattached to my present, albeit with holes.
There are some more serious implications that I'm taking away, but I don't think I can expound much more tonight. Expect a post some time in the future about my worry about what awaits me when I return to Minnesota, but I've been writing for the past hour and a half and that Pandora's Box can wait for another day.

My June Update

This post was written on June 21st, at about 10pm.

Minutiae in my life keeps happening, and I feel so disconnected. I've been in this country for 4 months now,
and I don't know what I'm doing. Ha. The thought just occurred to me that that's exactly why I'm in this country in the first place. I've been questioning a lot what I want to do with my life. Can I really keep putting things off deciding? I feel like I'm trying to straddle two worlds in my life, and I'm not sure how long I can take it. I've been volunteering for the local MPs office (the district is called Batman!) and good god did I forget how much I enjoy Excel. It's the kind of thing that literally makes me question my comedy. Which, I don't know what's happening with that. I keep writing, and more and more I just hate the kind of comedy writing/performing. They're just fucking jokes. I want to clarify that I'm not saying I think what I've written isn't funny. I genuinely think it is. And shit, I'm constantly being told by other comics that they like it, or that I did a good job. Which is somewhat confounding. Not because I dislike the compliments themselves, but personally feel like I haven't been doing well on stage. I don't quite know what to do. At it's heart, I think it's just that my comedic writing is unfulfilling. It's surface level garbage. That's also not to say that it's dissimilar from my past writing. I feel comedicly (yes, I made it a word) stagnant. I think that it's partially due to nature if the scene here itself. The festival is such a long term goal that it's almost like I'm not working toward anything at all. Back home I knew exactly the direction I wanted to move in. I'd finally moved up from open mic'er to paid (meagerly) emcee. That was a significant step, and I'm certainly glad I achieved that feat before I left. The difference here is what I'm working towards: the festival isn't for another nine months, and as much as the clubs try, this city just doesn't digest its comedy that way. I quit my job with the local club I was working for. Most of the reason was the nature of door to door sales and commission only-ness. But before I did, it gave me a glimpse of greater Melbourne. Except for the people who already knew who we were, it seemed like most people had a notion of what Melbourne comedy is like starts with the festival, and ends not far there off. In fact, I would refer to the club by name in my pitch, but more often than not, if they were relating the pitch to a coworker they'd say "comedy festival" tickets. I'm not saying it's wrong. The festival was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and it is extremely important to me that I be a part of it next year. But but as a goal it's just too abstract to work towards. If you were to ask me upfront if I were a goal oriented person, I highly doubt I'd say I was, but I'll be damned if I'm not. I blame videogames. Achievement unlocked!

I came back to my old worrying stomping grounds tonight at midnight-ish to write. I'd really like to find a decent coffee shop to write in, but I've found it a bit difficult. I find myself missing Cafetto back home. Look, the coffee here is great, but so what. In looking for whatever quality coffee that I can get cup after cup on the cheap, where I can sit for hours if need be. And I'd also like somewhere open until later than 10pm. I don't know how many times I closed down Cafetto back home, but it was certainly more than a few times. I've actually found myself a bit lonely and depressed. I'm not saying that I don't have friends here. Actually scratch that. I don't really have any friends down here. The people I'm closest to are other transients, and the comics I've met are realistically good acquaintances. I have remarkably few people I can call down here. But it's not just that. I don't quite know what do with myself. Especially on weekend nights. I'm writing in part because I have nothing better to do. Back home, there's always the Corner Bar, or Acme, or House of Comedy, or Joke Joint, or any number of other smaller gigs if I don't have one of my own. I don't have that here. There are two clubs and they start earlier and I don't have the freedom of an independent transportation. I really need a bike. What I have been doing is reading a shit-ton of books, which is fulfilling in a way, but generally what I've been reading isn't exceptionally mentally taxing. It's been a series of alternate reality books about American history, and other books intermixed. I finished Jurassic Park this afternoon. It took me a few days to get through, and it was entertaining, but so what. A copy of On the Road fell into my lap. I've started it, but it's different than I expected. I have a lot of reading to do, but I want it to be the things that I've always felt like I should read. We'll see what happens