I had three months to see as much of Western Australia as possible before getting kicked out of the country. After a rough landing in Perth and a few days adjusting to Port Hedland’s martian terrain, I got the show on the road. With my good Friend Alexander James, we drove 15,000 kilometers exploring the Western coast and the in-land heart of Australia.
By the end of May, winter was fast approaching in Australia. It was time for one last hot hurrah. I booked a round-trip ticket to Indonesia: May 12, 2012 – June 10, 2012. That flight in June came and went and I wasn’t on it. In September I was finally kicked out of the country after having my passport stolen. I made a detour to Singapore for less than 24 hours and continued my mushroom rant in Bali until November 9th, when I finally said goodbye to the Bali party with one last night of chaos. Of course, I missed my morning flight, but I booked another one and got the hell out of there. Six wild months in Indonesia …
Jan 07, 2012 The Hills Have Eye Heart Hobart
I first heard about Hobart from my couch surfing host, Fatty Fat, who was born and raised here. His nickname for the place was “Slowbart”. He says that nothing happens here, and that any reasonable person who is born here moves away when they become mature adults. But he also mentioned miles of empty coastline and vast scapes of natural Tasmania surrounding Slowbart, and to me, that sounded quite nice. Being that KC is a city slicker and I’m a country bumpkin, it seemed like the perfect place for us to co-exist in peace.
But then we heard a lot of other rotten opinions of the place. According to our West End couchsurfing friend Susie Boy, out of the approximately 214,000 people living in Hobart, not one is attractive, rather they are all uniformly ugly. And I quote, “No joke, I have never seen such a high prooprtion of unattractive people in one place at one time.” Basically, it’s something like ‘The Hill Have Eyes.’
And I quote, “The best part about Hobart is leaving.” The weather is miserable, the people are inbred and Hobart is nothing but a decrepit little town in the middle of an empty wilderness. “Why would you ever go to Hobart?” I say, why not?
And so, after the all of the negative reviews, I came here not with the intent of just visiting, but with the intent of hopefully liking it and settling down here for a few months. After hearing rave reviews about places that I thought were complete and total shit (Sydney, Manly Beach, Byron Bay etc), I figured my best bet was to go somewhere that nobody else really liked.
So far, my instincts have proven me right. Hobart is absolutely beautiful. Waterfronts and mountaintops and beautiful old houses. The city is reasonably scaled, the suburbs are just the right size and the empty coastline is only a short drive away. The book shops have Hunter S Thompson biographies, the running trails are endless, the air is crisp and clean and the local scene is funky.
Our first night in Hobart, our host, Peter, invited us to a mini-cabaret at a place called the Brisbane Hotel. Sword swallowing and naked knife performances mixed in with acrobatic Baywatch babes doing flips and lifts and all kinds of sexy tricks, not to mention the comedy skits and musical renditions. Apparently these local Tassie acts travel around Europe for the better part of the year and every so often come back home and perform.
Last night we went to a live music gig down at a place along the waterfront called Salamanca. The music was worth more than the admission, and the beer was cheap. The whole venue was filled with a beautiful mix of life. A perfectly sized room full of happy, appropriately drunken Hobartians of all ages and faces and places. I’m talking about a well-behaved 7-year-old little Barbie girl dancing with Andre the Giant in the midst of a crowd of ska-dancing twenty-something hippies and slick-haired 40-plus salsa couples. I’m talking about someones grandmother skanking like a spastic in her black, linen capris with her old-lady unisex haircut and a leather fanny pack, pounding her Keds into the floorboards. And then of course, the lovely blond Adonis and his pretty friends all reggae-bouncing across the dance floor, while a tall, dark drink of water weaved through the whole happy mess with his video camera.
This morning we went back to Salamanca for the Saturday markets. Local blackcurrant jams and jars of Hobart honey, free fudge samples, handmade this and thats, secondhand books, live music and rows of food stalls selling all kinds of delectable snacks and fresh beverages. Crowds of pretty faces and generally normal, lovely people. Just another exquisite mix of life and color in the heart of Tasmania. Think I’m going to be just fine here.
Jan 10, 2012 Sex, death & atheism
I’m not exactly the kind of kid who has an eye for art, and I don’t pretend to understand a careless splatter of puke-colored paint on a textured canvas, but I’m always game for an artistic experience. If you’ve ever been to an art museum and thought you were impressed, come to Tasmania and visit the MONA. This place is everything an art museum should be.
You should know that the guy who runs the place is a total freak and he’s filthy rich. The MONA is essentially just his personal art collection on display. He enjoys sex, death and atheism, so when you come to the MONA, that is what you’ll find on display.
Basically the MONA is kind of scary, very gross, and intensely weird. I’m talking about watching food turn into bile and waste in plastic blenders, complete with olfactory charm. I’m talking about a Banger Sister style display of plaster casted vaginas lining the walls, and skeletal x-rays of people banging each other down. Have you ever seen two skeletons making out and rounding third base? If you haven’t and you want to, go to the MONA. You’ll also find a variety of mind-bending videos playing throughout the place, as well as offensive paintings dangling from the ceiling, an obese car parked on the second floor, and even a giant metal head whose mind is made of strobe lights and melting hands, which you can observe through the ear and nose holes, but be wary of sticking your head through the nose because it breathes warm, snotty air.
But it’s not just the art collection that shocks and amazes. The whole museum is a circus fun house. You have to creep through dark tunnels and disturbing soundtracks and crouch through doors that lead to matrix mazes, but then of course you’re welcome to sit down on a bean bag and watch the Jungle Book for no reason if you want to. The whole building is pretty much underground, cut into the side of a mountain, which means all of the exposed walls that aren’t being used for displays are just jagged rock faces. At the end of your visit, you climb back up to the surface and walk across the astro-turf tennis court to the exit. It’s a truly bizarre place that will really get you thinking and wondering and using your imagination.
That is exactly what an art museum should be: an experience. This is especially true if the art in question is wild and weird. What good is an outrageous collection of art if it’s just glued to a white, sterile wall in a quiet little room with grey carpet and careful lighting? It’s no good. MONA has the right idea. So if you’re ever in Tassie, don’t leave without experiencing a little sex, atheism and death.
Jan 12, 2012 Launceston Roadie
Our new couch surfing buddy Joel Donald invited us on a weekend roadtrip with himself and his good friend Nat. Off we went, down the windy roads, through the fields & to the awkward Launceston party!
Jan 14, 2012 Hopeless in Hobart
Today Casey and I decided … nothing really. We don’t know if we’re coming or going, if we’re breathing or choking, but we just keep surviving. The rain has been bucketing down on us and laughing in our faces for three days now. It’s cold here in Hobart, and we aren’t sure what to do about it.
The idea was that we would come here and if we liked it we would find a place to live and get a job for a few months. But then we decided we didn’t really want a place to live because that would commit us to a location. Then we decided that maybe we shouldn’t get jobs either because then there’s a burden of responsibility. We started thinking maybe we should just go to another working hostel and live the life of fruit pickers again, but then we thought, wait a minute, do we want to do that in Hobart? Do we want to do that anywhere in Tasmania? In general, where the fuck are we and what are we doing?
Jan 24, 2012 Hopeless in Huonville
Remember when I said that freedom is a gift, but it can also be a curse? Well right now, we be damned! We have absolutely no idea what we want to do with ourselves over the next few months. We need to save money, but we don’t know how we will do that yet. We tried to get jobs, and indeed we did find one, but there aren’t enough hours available to put any significant amount of money into our savings accounts. Plus, who wants to deal with apartment leases and application processes. And so we thought we would give fruit picking another shot. We booked ourselves into a working hostel in the middle of BFE and arrived in Huon. At the time, it seemed like the right answer. Show up at the hostel, work on the farm, put money in the bank. It worked in Ayr. Apparently, it’s not going to work in Huon. We’re now considering one-way tickets to Perth. Though the sky is the limit, we seem to be on a downward spiral out of control.
Jan 26, 2012 Homeward Hobart?
Yesterday I lived in Huon. And then some stuff happened. Today is Australia Day. Tomorrow I will live in Hobart.
Jan 28, 2012 Tip-rat Fairy-Tale
Once upon a time, far, far from home, there were two little tiprats in Tasmania. They were fat and messy, and their only luck was bad luck.
One tiprat said to the other, “Where are we, and what are we doing here?” The other tiprat didn’t know what to say.
“Maybe we live here,” said the first.
“Maybe we’re just passing through,” said the other.
“Should we stay here?” asked the first.
“Only for a little while,” answered the other.
And so the tiprats stayed in Tasmania. They moved in with a leprechaun at the edge of a river. The leprechaun seemed very friendly at first, but then he started torturing the tiprats with bad music and creeping around the house late at night, so they had to run away.
Then the tiprats met a nice elf who let them sleep on the floor in his basement. The tiprats were happy, and they stayed with the elf for a long time. He was good to them. He took them for rides in his truck, fed them pies and ice cream and brought them to parties.
Then one day, an evil warlock kidnapped the tiprats and locked them in a dungeon at the Little Devil Backpackers in Huon Valley. The warlock was mean and he stole from the tiprats and treated them very badly. But then, one night when the warlock was sleeping, the elf broke into the dungeon and rescued the tiprats and hid them in a fortress so the warlock could never kidnap them again.
The tiprats were thankful for the elf’s help, but they didn’t like Tasmania anymore, and they didn’t want to live in the fortress. That’s when the elf turned into an ogre and made the tiprats his slaves. To this day, the tiprats are still trapped in the ogre’s fortress, dreaming of freedom.
Only you can save them by buying their way out of slavery: Please make all checks payable to Tiffani Amo – cash donations OK too. Inquire within for more details.
February 1st, 2012: The Glenorchy Diaries
It’s official. Casey and I now have two jobs and we are living an apartment in New Town. Mostly, this is great news. On the other hand, our job at the motel restaurant is too far to walk to each day, so we have to ride the metro-link buses. The problem is Glenorchy. You see, in Glenorchy there is a main bus terminal that connects the route from my apartment and the route to my second job. This means that every day, in order for me to get to work, I have to pass through Glenorchy, interacting with locals along the way. I’ve decided that from here on out I will document these experiences in order to look back and laugh someday. I give you the first entry of the Glenorchy Diaries…
Today I found out that a girl was raped in broad daylight on the Glenorchy section of the bike trail. This is the same bike trail Casey and I were going to be using to get to and from work via bicycle … not that riding the bus appears to be much safer.
Feb 09, 2012 MAD in Melbourne
Our 6 day trip to Melbourne: Incubus, champagne, good company, city streets … “It’s like gambling somehow. You go out for a night of drinking, and you don’t know where you’re going to end up the next day. It could work out good, or it could be disastrous. It’s like the throw of the dice.” – Jim Morrison
(Oh, and all of this footage is mine. That’s Canon shooting baby.)
We got off the plane at 9 p.m. at the Tullamarine airport in Melbourne. We spent the rest of the night doing things we really shouldn’t have been doing and enjoying the big, new city from the depths of a cozy warehouse in St. Kilda. We enjoyed our first night so much in fact that we spent our first day in Melbourne sleeping. I did manage to pull myself out from beneath the bed I fell asleep under around 2 p.m. to get a medicinal Bloody Mary and a spirit-cleansing whisky & coke. At about midnight, we went to McDonald’s, and then we changed locations, arriving in Port Melbourne where we slept through the night, this time on the bed instead of under it.
We greeted our second day in Melbourne with sunglasses and a photocopied street map. I’ll say again as I’ve said before that a city is a city is a city. There are buildings and traffic jams and iPod pedestrians, a cliche concrete jungle. But every now and then, it’s where you want to be. So we trolloped around on the metros, wandered the streets and ultimately found ourselves a dingy bar in the heart of the city where we spent the day drinking champagne and watching MTV Australia: 100 Classic Guitarists. Then we grabbed a couple more bottles of champagne and sat on the beach and watched the sun go down. Previous plans to roadtrip the Great Ocean Road were now null and void.
We woke up on the third day and had ourselves a bakehouse brekky down the street at a bustling cafe. And then we were Incubus bound. We found Festival Hall where the show was held, and then we sniffed out a nearby bar where we spent the next 5 hours racking up a hefty bill and getting stoked for the show.
Now, let me tell you about this show in just a few short lines. First of all, it was so epic that I went two nights in a row. The venue was the size of an oyster shell, the beer was unusually cheap, and of course, the performance was explosive. I’m talking about heart attack, seizure fit, head exploding energy pouring from the stage and electrifying the crowd. After the first dose of this musical China White, there was no way I was passing up on an opportunity for more.
The next day, Casey and I wandered the city and slowly but surely I convinced her that if she didn’t come to this show with me, she would regret it for the rest of her life, especially because I was going no matter what, and she’d have to hear all about it in detail for years to come. She reacted by buying a ticket and we spent another night blissed out at Festival Hall.
And that was our trip to Melbourne. But before all you naysayers and tourist vacation junkies even think about telling me I’m not making the most of my time here, get stuffed. I didn’t travel half way around the world to feed kangaroos and take pictures at every iconic Australian landmark known to man. I’m traveling because I like to travel. I’m traveling because I want to enjoy my life. I’d rather be in the moment than the picture.
So in conclusion, I’ve got four letters for you, and they’re illegal. Peace & love Melbourne.
February 10th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today the Glenorchy bus smelled like rotten bananas and warm, dirty diapers. I think it had something to do with the group of 13-year-old teen moms and their half dozen babies. I saw four mullets and two rat-tails.
February 14th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today at the Glenorchy bus stop, someone had a conversation with me. I didn’t really talk back, but the conversation lasted for a pretty long time. Glenorchy chatterbox was sporting a 90s windbreaker suit, and his buzz cut was roughly one inch longer on the right side of his head than on the left. He was guarding a bulging suitcase and looking quite concerned.
First he asked for money and cigarettes, of which I gave him neither. Then it was story time, and he couldn’t get the words out of his mouth fast enough. “This is my suitcase, and it’s full of clothes. I put nothin’ but clothes in here. Had to do laundry all fuckin’ day to get ‘em all washed. I hate laundry, but there’s a fuckin’ lot of clothes in that suitcase that were dirty. I packed this whole suitcase full of old clothes because I gotta have ‘em because they’re my clothes, you know? I really don’t like doing laundry but I wanted my clothes clean before I put them in my suitcase.” On the one hand, you wish he would shut up, but on the other hand, you hope he’ll keep rattling on until you get on the bus because you don’t know what you’ll say to him if he stops talking. “Yeah, sweet suitcase. It’s really nice. Good luck with your clothes.”
Feb 19, 2012 Twenty-four years young
I am officially 24 years young. What do I have to show for myself? That’s easy, my freedom! No career path, no wedding ring, no 401K plan, no law-school degree. Just a few stubs from one way plane tickets, a fistful of temporary addresses and a candle burning at both ends.
So let’s see … at the moment I have an apartment in New Town without a lease, two temporary jobs that are putting piles of money in the bank, and a handful of friendly faces whose company I am lucky enough to enjoy. I can’t say that I enjoy working two jobs, but let me tell you, it’s easy to unwind after a nine hour day when you’re living in Tasmania. Everyday when I’m walking home from work or riding the bus, all I have to do is breathe out, and the weight of a day’s work is lifted. It doesn’t matter that my feet are aching or that my next shift starts in less than 8 hours. There’s nothing but mountains and fresh air all around me, nothing but open road ahead of me: I’m in Tasmania.
My birthday celebration consisted of a Friday night blackout session, complete with a beautiful, live trip-hop performance by my dear friend Hannah, supporting Canyons. A few Hoegardens and a young Mick Jagger & you’re all set. Saturday I worked a double when I should have been on my death bed, and Sunday greeted me with homemade donuts and champagne. Every year forever and ever, my dear little family has treated me to breakfast donuts on my birthday. It’s my mom’s tradition. This year, KC, being the beautiful person that she is, didn’t let me go without. Bless her heart, she and Joel Donald woke up at the crack of dawn to make me donuts from scratch before I had to be at work. They served me bedside champagne and topped the donuts with jelly and whipped cream. At work we did champagne toasts and Han even brought me a wrapped present. The rest of the night was meant to be spent eating sushi, but instead we drank wine for a few hours, complemented by pizza, movies and a couple of nice blokes.
It was the easiest birthday I’ve ever had. No parties to plan, no influx of text messages and dinner invites, no pressure. I worked all weekend and still had time to celebrate accordingly. I was surrounded by good people and lots of food & drink, and the single-most important tradition was upheld beyond its standards – what more can you ask for on your birthday … well, besides a pinch to grown an inch from your mom, dad and little sister.
February 21st, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today Casey got caught in the middle of a domestic disturbance on the Glenorchy bus. Casey sat next to the wife with the baby on her lap. The husband sat behind Casey and the rest of their children filled in any surrounding gaps. While Casey and the children did their best to mind their own business, Daddy Bogan did his best to berate his wife, throwing around c-bombs and f-bombs at max volume. While the wife showed no awareness of her husband’s existence, I trust that this 300-pound heavy-weight woman beat the living shit out of this 80-pound tyrant when they got home, hopefully not in front of the children.
February 23rd, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today I was in Glenorchy when school was letting out for the day. A sea of rat-tails, mullets and seagulls. A never-ending line began to form outside of the McDonald’s across the street. A chorus of profanity complemented the screaming children being pushed in their prams through the highschool gates by their teen-moms.
February 25th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today was my first after-dark Glenorchy experience. It was shortly after 10:30 p.m. that I was waiting for a connecting bus at the Glenorchy stop. The bus wasn’t scheduled to come for another 20 minutes. I could see movement in the shadows across the street. I heard rustling in the bushes behind me. A wolf howled. I heard the devil laughing. I had just prepared myself for death when an OUT OF SERVICE bus that was passing through slammed on the breaks. The driver flagged me over and opened his doors. “Miss, I think you should wait on this bus until your bus gets here. You’ll be safer.” I didn’t argue. I don’t want to be in Glenorchy at night ever again.
February 29th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today Casey and I were in Glenorchy in the dark again. This time we were waiting outside of a traphouse just a few minutes down the road from where we work. It was about 10:30 at night. Every single house in our view was dark, lights out, except for the house directly in front of the bus stop. This house had all of the lights on inside, but the porch light was off. The front door was wide open, but the windows were closed and the shades were drawn. We sat in silence as we watched, one car, two cars, three cars, four cars take turns parking in front of the house. Each time a car parked, someone came out of the house and said hello and then went back in. We joked about the house being a drug brothel. And then I guy in a hood came outside and stood on the porch talking on his cell phone.
T: Did you just hear that Casey?
C: Did he just say ‘drug dealer’?
T: Nah, we’re just paranoid.
One minute later …T: Did he just say say ‘drug dealer’ again?
C: Yes, he did. I heard it. He said ‘drug dealer’ and he sounds mad.
The guy started raising his voice. He was angry. He started yelling.
T: I think a deal went bad. Should we get a cab?
C: Yeah, let’s get the fuck out of here.
Just then, the bus came.
March 4th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today there was domestic violence on the Glenorchy bus again, but this time I was caught in the middle. It was a different family than the time before, as Casey determined based on the physical description I gave her via text. It was awkward and sad, and my heart goes out to all of the children in Glenorchy, even the ugly, mean-spirited ones. It’s not their fault…
March 9th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today on the Glenorchy bus, an old woman asked me for money. I told her no. First of all because I didn’t have any, and secondly because her hair was longer than mine and she was wearing a nightgown and slippers, but she also had a goatee, an adam’s apple and I’m pretty sure the handbag she was carrying had a dead body in it.
March 11th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today on the Glenorchy bus, an 800-pound man sitting behind me farted. I know this because I heard him do it. I grabbed my stuff and ran to the back of the bus where I held my breath and cried for the duration of the trip next to a kid with a braided rat-tail.
March 12th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today Casey was in Glenorchy at night by herself. She was waiting at the bus stop near work as usual, but this time the bus never came. Instead, a bogan-mobile pulled off the highway and started driving up and down the road in front her, turning around in driveways and going slower each time it passed the bus stop. Before Casey was kidnapped and murdered, she was able to hail a cab to the main bus stop. When she got to the main stop, she realized she was still in danger. There were Glenorchy locals hanging around in the shadows and eating cigarette butts off the ground. Casey got back in the cab, despite the fact that the driver was a total creep himself, and she made it home safely. She’s still a little shaken up.
March 13th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today on the Glenorchy bus Casey accidentally sat behind the real version of The Hill’s Have Eyes. Warts, puss, missing teeth and stench. You should have seen the look of shock and horror on her face when she realized her mistake. I almost peed my pants laughing from three rows back … Until the 400 pound woman behind me started hacking up loogies. Then it wasn’t so funny anymore.
March 16th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today in Glenorchy, I watched the ugliest baby on the planet chug an extra-large McDonald’s coke without a lid while reclining in a broken stroller. When the teen-mom realized the baby was soaked in coke, she tried to take the cup away, but the baby growled at her and turned into a demon so the teen-mom said to the demon baby, “Fuck it. If you want to be wet and dirty go ahead.” And the demon kid started eating the empty cardboard cup.
March 20th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today in Glenorchy, I watched a teen-mom verbally abuse her two-year-old child, and then I watched the two-year-old child punch his mother in the crotch. I guess teen-mom got what she deserved, but I hate to think that this poor child doesn’t deserve any of what he’s getting … Once again, the Glenorchy kids are in my thoughts.
March 21st, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today the Glenorchy bus smelled like a fart in a microwave. It was so disgusting that I actually gagged and nearly had to get off of the bus. I was afraid to breathe in through my mouth because the stench was so thick I thought I would taste it. I was so angry and delusional when I got off the bus that I was dead set on quitting my job and booking a one-way ticket back to the mainland. When Casey laughed in my face, I calmed down, but it’s not funny. It’s fucking sick.
March 24th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today I had to hitchhike to work from Glenorchy because the Sunday bus schedule is fucked, and I was running late. I didn’t want to hitchhike in Glenorchy, but after being approached by three different axe murderers on foot, all trying to lead me in different directions down “short cuts,” I figured I’d take my chances in a car. That way, if it came down to it, I could just jump out of the car and die on the pavement by my own hand or grab the steering wheel and have an instant death by head-on collision. The people who picked me up were scary, but they didn’t hurt me or anything, so it all worked out. I survived my first hitchhike in Glenorchy!
March 27th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today the Glenorchy bus smelled like garbage and sour milk. It was so bad it literally made my eyes water. Given the chance, I would have put my nose in a blender.
I saw a family of four, all sporting rat-tails of varying dye-jobs at a net weight of approximately 8,000 pounds. They were carrying plastic grocery bags of potato chips and diet coke.
Mar 29, 2012 I Need a Dollar
I work in hospitality. I’m a ‘server,’ not to be confused with ‘servant,’ and more commonly known as a ‘waitress.’ In a nutshell, my job sucks. Every job has its perks and its pains, but I think serving tables is near the top of the list. I can’t imagine it’s easy for a plumber to put a smile on while shoveling shit out of a broken toilet, but at least the shit doesn’t talk back.
I will say that there are some perks. Free food is one of them. Most of the time you only get a staff discount, but I’m partial to eating for free: extra french fries at the end of a shift, a salad with the wrong dressing, a poorly presented piece of cheesecake, an over-cooked steak, day old pastries, bottles of wine no longer on the menu or, if you’re really charming, your favorite dish on the menu, hot & fresh courtesy of the most attractive cook in the kitchen.
Absolutely the single best thing about working in a restaurant is quitting. Whether it’s giving a two-week notice to your favorite manager or walking out in the middle of a rush when the restaurant is understaffed because your boss is a dick, you’ll feel pretty hot damn good.
On the other hand, there’s a lot to whinge about. Whether it’s your half-retarded co-workers, your power-tripping managers, your hot-tempered kitchen staff or your generally needy, mean-spirited, slave-driving customers, someone is bound to fuck up your day.
Let’s start with the angry kitchen staff. It doesn’t matter where you work, no matter how trendy or charming, local or corporate, the kitchen staff are going to be a psychotic bunch of over-sensitive monsters in the midst of mental breakdowns. The managers are usually just as demented as the kitchen staff. Once in a while you’ll come across a solid human being running a restaurant, but more often than not you’ll end up with a schizophrenic, chronically depressed, obsessively compulsive, power-tripping maniac. You have to pretend to like these people. You have to be respectfully understanding when your boss denies your request for a day off, even if it is your birthday or your grandma’s funeral or Christmas. You have to keeping a straight face when that same boss sends a tray of drinks flowing onto an important customers lap, and you have to smile politely that same boss critiques your table service, your uniform, your hair cut, your existence.
The most you can hope for is a semi-competent, half-way mentally stable, sort of nice co-worker in a sea of useless, self-important idiots. There will always be the reliable lifer whose been working there for the last 100 years and knows everything there is to know about work and life. You’ll always come across an over-enthusiastic new-hire from some fine-dining restaurant who is just dying to show you, whether you want to be shown or not, a better way to do your job. Not everyone will try to tell how you to do your job though, mostly because few of them really know how to do their own.
And finally, the customers. The greasy fatties who run you ragged for refills and extra sauces, the crotchety old geezers who sexually harass you, the gangs of awkward teenagers who all want separate checks and don’t tip, the slave-driving businessmen who snap their fingers and hardly touch their meals, the single mothers and their screaming kids spraying chocolate milk and fruit punch out of their noses and generally spiraling out of control. The awkwardness of trying to take an order from a couple mid-fight, the frustration of waiting patiently while a parent forces an uncooperative child to place their own order when all the kid wants for dinner are pancakes, which we don’t have on the menu. And then there’s the trauma that comes from watching a crack addict bleed from the nose while he eats a porterhouse steak with his hands, the terror of cutting off drinks to an angry alcoholic who threatens to punch you in the stomach if you don’t serve him another whisky & coke. Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, you have the happy-go-lucky alcoholic who wants to buy you drinks and dinner and talks your ear off while you balance heavy piles of uneven dishes on your tired limbs. Or there’s the over-friendly elderly couples who smell like sour milk and mumble World War II stories at you for several whole minutes at a time, minutes of your life you will never get back. The middle-class family of six, at a combined weight of approximately 1,500 pounds, who struts into the restaurant like they’re coming down the red carpet and treat you like an indentured servant. These are the people you spend your Friday nights with while the rest of the 9-to-5 world is celebrating the start of the weekend.
Besides the crummy people, the workload is also worth complaining about. If there is one job that will physically, mentally, emotionally rip you to shreds, it’s serving tables. On a daily basis you will find yourself sprinting down slippery, narrow hallways in the most uncomfortable No-Slip shoes ever made while you balance trays of food above your head that weigh more than you do. You’ll smile brightly while a complete stranger rips into you for a solid 10 minutes about an over-cooked steak that you didn’t actually cook. You’ll burn your fingers on freshly microwaved plates, and you’ll have mild panic attacks when you can’t remember if you rang in all of your orders. You’ll climb up shelving units like a monkey to get more napkins from the top rack so you can clean up someone else’s warm puke. You’re forehead will bead and your armpits will melt while you stand in a smoky, blazing kitchen, using a stranger’s greasy fork to scrape half-chewed pieces of meat from crusty dinner plates. On the bright side, you’ll never have to unclog a shit-wrecked toilet, unless of course, the manager specifically asks you to do so, which he will undoubtedly do.
And so you say, ‘If you hate your job so much, why don’t you get a new one?” That my friends, is exactly what I intend to do after I’ve made my millions here in Tasmania. Hospitality has suited me thus far in terms of finding work quickly and putting some coin in the bank so that I can continue to travel. Five weeks in Indonesia: paid for. One-way ticket to Australia: paid for. Halloween in Cairns, Christmas in Kings Cross, NYE on Sydney Harbour, a weekend in Melbourne, a birthday in Tasmania, a few months in Perth: all paid for. Five weeks in India, six weeks backpacking in Asia & an extended stay in Europe: still saving. And so, I’m going to suffer through my final months as a paid-slave in order to save up a small fortune, and when I hit my jackpot, I’m going to call it quits as a server forever. In the mean time, I’ll be Nat Geo pipe dreaming …
March 30th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries>
Today on the Glenorchy bus, Casey got asked on a date. And I quote via text message:
C: Dude this guy won’t leave me alone. He keeps telling me how pretty I am, and asking me all these weird questions, and I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to ignore him and write in my journal, but he won’t go away.
T: Is he cute?
C: I’m in Glenorchy. It’s not funny. He just asked me out to dinner. WTF.
T: Did you say yes? You need to get out more.
C: I’m not joking. He looks like he seriously wants to kill me. This is legitimately scary. And now we’re on the bus, and he’s sitting next to me. Should I just get off at the next stop?
T: OMG NO! Then you’ll be deeper into Glenorchy with him. Just get to work dude.
C: He smells like blood. I’m gonna die today…
April 4th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today in Glenorchy, I saw someone with a mullet getting arrested at the bus stop. I think one of the officers had a rat-tail.
April 17th, 2012 Glenorchy Diaries
Today the Glenorchy bus smelled like fresh sweat. On the bright side, I was too distracted to fully appreciate the stench because I had just been puked on. The guy sitting behind me was breathing in my ear when all of a sudden he hacked something nasty onto the back of my head. Please understand that I’m not merely exaggerating about a breach of personal space. I felt the heat of his breath on the nape of my neck. And then he puked on my head. I was so sickened by the thought of his vomit in my hair that I went numb. I just sat there, stone-still in my seat, too petrified to move. Of course my first instinct was to run my fingers through my gut-soaked hair, but I stayed rational: there was nothing I could do to clean up the mess, so I might as well just leave it alone until I made it home. My face got hot, my mouth started to water and my hands went clammy. Fuck rational. I needed to know how bad the damage was. I closed my eyes tight and ran my fingers gently across the back of my skull. Where there was sure to be a sticky wad of bile, I found only a dry tangle of my knappy hair. I nearly wept for joy. When that ordeal was over, I turned my attention to the woman sitting across from me. She had an immaculate mullet: an ideal cut with business-in-the-front bangs, side feathering and party-in-the-back rat-tail. It was also nicely dyed with bright yellow & crayola red layers to complement her natural brown hair color.
April 19, 2012 Discovering Maria Island
As of Friday April 13th, 2012 I can officially say, “I have seen Tasmania.” I haven’t been to Bruny Island or Cradle Mountain on a $300 adventure tour, and I haven’t even seen a Tasmanian Devil, but I can leave here now on a full stomach. I’ve accomplished a long list of Tasmanian ventures, but this three-day, two-night camping trip to Maria Island was truly the spice to my rum. (And that’s Maria like Mariah Carey. Australians don’t speaka the Spanish.)
For starters, the weather was immaculate. It was like Poseidon high-fived the sky gods and together they created a masterpiece: Clear skies, a beaming sun, warm winds and a sweet-tempered ocean all working together to sow the seeds of natural perfection. I’m talking about entire days exploding with sunshine and vibrant night skies being swallowed whole by the stars. Three days of pale skin smothered in milky sunscreen, two nights of dark skies smothered by the Milky Way and in between, sunsets that would stop your heart.
It’s the kind of stuff you see advertised on overpriced adventure tour brochures that never live up to their photoshopped promises. For us, it was free, it was unexpected and it was raw. You see Maria Island is a National Park, which means you can’t kill the animals or litter or do anything stupid or harmful to the environment. In short, the landscape is flawless and the wildlife is abundant and beautiful in a way that makes you feel genuinely sad about things like concrete and plastic. Not to say that Maria is a completely unblemished little piece of planet because there are convict settlement ruins and even a small area of restored houses and visitor information on the eastern edge of the island, but for the most part, Maria is a pristine piece of Tasmanian wilderness. Anyway, like any well maintained National Park, Maria Island offers a few hundred kilometers of walking, biking & hiking trails along with a few small clearings for camping near the shore.
We set up shop on the edge of Chinaman’s Bay, and after a few beers we took off down a walking trail which we quickly abandoned for greener, wilder pastures. Within minutes of leaving the trail, we found ourselves in the company of wallabies and wombats galore. Running and hopping ahead in the distance, creeping around behind you, standing next to you. They were so close that you could reach out and touch them, which I did. That’s right. I touched a wombat’s bum. He ran like hell and I have to say I felt a little bit rotten for scaring him like that, but then again, I touched a wild wombat’s ass! They don’t even let you do that at the zoo.
And that’s the best part really – all of this was taking place in an untamed paradise of gold, green and blue. This small corner of the island, wrapped in a blanket of mountains and ocean and fresh earth. The mountains were my favorite part. It was like someone had frozen the ocean in the midst of a storm and painted every wave a different shade of blue and then cut them out and glued them to the horizon: beautiful, rolling shapes in smokey grays and pastel blues stretching far and wide.
After a couple of surreal hours at the edge of the island, we went back to our campsite where I stayed for all of five minutes before deciding I needed to go back to the outside of the island to see the sunset. No one else wanted to come, so I went by myself, but when I got to my ideal spot, I wasn’t alone. Just 10 feet away a group of four adult wallabies stood tall and still, shaking their ears and sizing me up. With every step I took, their gaze adjusted accordingly. The earth crushing beneath my feet was the only sound that was out of place. The kookaburras were screaming and laughing, the grass rushed in the wind, the waves crashed against the rocky shoreline, the mountains rested quietly in the distance, and there I was stumbling around in the middle of it all. I was absolutely certain those wallabies were going to hop over and drop-kick me at any moment, but they never did. We just stood there hanging out and staring at each other until the sun melted behind the mountains and the light left the sky.
Then I hauled ass back to camp and stuffed my face with sausages, Cascade Pale Ales, Tim Tams & a pile of smoked cheese and cracked pepper crackers until I couldn’t breathe. Then we played a game by the campfire: The ugliest name ever. After about 15 minutes of throwing around names like Wanda, Patty, Bertha, Mortimer and Herman (no offense) we realized that between the four us and our middle names, we were quite the crew: Peter, Donald, Frances and Lorraine. Cute hey? And then we all went to bed. That is of course, after I left a few snacks out for the opossums that were overrunning our campsite. They weren’t the ugly kind you find in the states, they were cute, Australian ones, and I didn’t want them to go hungry. Of course, this led to lots of crunching and several brawls outside our tent leaving Joel, Casey and Matt rather irritated, but I was quite pleased. I like to know the wild-life is out there in the dark, feeding, fighting, creeping around. It soothes me. Either way, I still didn’t get any rest thanks to Casey & Matt snoring like wild pigs and Joel tangling himself in the blankets and leaving me cold and angry on our over-inflated air mattress.
Anyway, after a few cold, sleepless hours it was morning and Joel was hovering over the fire: bacon & eggs, mushroom, baked beans and sausage with tea & coffee. (I skipped the tea & coffee and polished off the Tim Tams.) And then we jumped straight onto the boat to cruise the island and take Matt back to shore to catch his bus to the airport. Our intention was to enjoy the picturesque shoreline and knock back a few beers, but we got way more than we bargained for.
A few minutes into the ride, we could see dolphins in the distance. Being from Florida, this wasn’t really one of those take-your-breath-away experiences – it was exciting and pretty, but nothing to get weird about. That is, until they swam right over to our boat and started doing circus tricks. I shit you not, it was better than that scene in Titanic. I was riding at the bow of the boat, sticking my face down into the waves the way a dog sticks his head out of a car window, when all of a sudden little Flipper showed up, rolled onto his side, looked me dead in the eye and then leaped out of the water just inches from my face. He played at the bow and then slowed and rolled onto his side again, looking at me with an electrifyingly human expression. He swam like that for a few seconds, and we just stared at each other through the glassy waves. This wild thing was observing me in the same curious, exciting way that I was observing it. Meanwhile, there were ten other dolphins doing the same thing all around the boat. We carried on like this for at least fifteen minutes before we had to give up our Titanic dream to get Matt back to land. We sped away leaving the dolphins in our wake, each of us lost for words. And such is the trouble with having a truly unique experience: words, no matter how carefully crafted or beautifully arranged, are useless in these situations. They spoil the magic of the thing. I’m sure there is some jerk-off out there saying, “But you’re a writer. Isn’t it your job to find a way to express those kinds of thoughts and feelings with words?” To those assholes I say this, “Words are tools. You wouldn’t use a hammer to cut down a tree. If you want to know how it feels to look a wild dolphin in the eye, book a flight to Tasmania, go for a boat ride and cross your fingers.”
Anyway, before I had time to catch my breath from the dolphin encounter, we were coming face to face with a group of seals. Real, live seals, just like Andre! We got just a few meters away before they ducked underwater and disappeared. Not quite as intimate as the dolphins, but then again, just as exciting because I’ve never seen a wild seal. It’s always thrilling to see National Geographic footage living and breathing and happening in front of you.
For the rest of the ride, Casey and I rode at the bow of the boat, looking over and smiling at each other every few minutes. There wasn’t much to say. It was just a beautiful day and an awesome thing that happened. We didn’t need to talk about it.
Once Matt was safely on his way to the airport, Casey, Joel & I were back on the water. This time we decided to check out the touristy section of the National Park. You know, the place where you pay entry fees and get maps and information pamphlets about responsible hiking. Every National Park has one of these, even remote places like Komodo, Indonesia. It’s usually a small, quaint visit center that does little to spoil the natural beauty, but saves hundreds of idiot’s lives each year by providing emergency rescue services.
And so, we went to the official National Park of Maria Island. Here we found the quaint visitor center and lots of information. As it turns out, Maria hasn’t lived a virginal life. As recently as 150 years ago, Maria was a convict settlement. So if you go to the park portion of Maria Island, you’ll see some very out of place ruins: giant silos, crumbling barns and brick walls and a handful of restored convict houses being used as motels and informational attractions. It’s a very weird thing to wrap your head around. On one side of the island you’re standing in the woods, outnumbered by wildlife, and on the other you’re looking at convict ruins and standing in a crowd of tourists who have just stepped off their adventure cruise boat to complete the afternoon portion of their itinerary.
We hung out here for about two hours, trekking around the cliffside and discussing the ruins. Mostly I was bored by the crumbling rocks and giant silos – that stuff just doesn’t excite me, especially when it’s not even 200 years old, but Casey and Joel were excited. I’d like to think that this is partly because they’d had a few beers at this point, which I hadn’t, but then again, some people really do enjoy old piles of rocks and plastic furniture modeled to look like old wood. Anyway, I ended up sitting by myself at the water’s edge for a solid 45 minutes while Joel and Casey wandered through the restored convict houses and drank in the history of the place along with several beers.
After Casey and Joel finished their historical tour, we jumped back on the boat and rode into the setting sun. As soon as we hit the open water again, there were dolphins at the bow. Once again, I was face to face with these pretty, little water mammals. This time though, the sun was setting. So there I was, just hanging out on the water and watching dolphins play in the sunset.
For those of you who know me, you’re well aware that sundown is my favorite time of day. Back home I used to go to the beach by myself on a regular basis to watch the sun setting over the water. Every now and then I could con someone into coming with me, but whether I was flying solo or in good company, I was at the beach at dusk. In short, I was head-over-heels in love watching these beautiful animals playing in the setting sun.
When the dolphins finally got bored of us, we continued on our way. The sky was clear, a dome of milky-orange and pastel yellow interrupted only by the bulging mountain silhouettes. And then as the light was slowly leaving the sky, the North star began to beam. As the sky grew darker, stars began to materialize, bursting into their constellations like pieces of popcorn. We all sat staring at the sky, “Look, there’s another one!” “Did you see that? Three just showed up at once over there!”
While the stars continued to pop into their rightful places, we prepared to catch some flounder. Using an underwater spotlight, we idled around in shallow water in search of a seafood entree. We didn’t find any flounder, but Joel did manage to spear two monstrously sized flatheads. We took them back to camp where he floured and cooked them over the fire and served as an appetizer. For our main course, Joel cooked porterhouse steaks to a perfect medium-rare along with red bell peppers, mushrooms, corn on the cob, onions and potatoes. Casey and I poured the Pinot Noir and we feasted in the dark with the rest of the animals. The opossums were practically curled up at my ankles trying to get in on the action, but who could blame them. I gave them some potatoes.
For dessert, we had imitation s’mores: ginger nut cookies (because there’s no such thing as a graham cracker here), pink marshmallows (because those are the only kind Australians apparently eat), and Woolworth’s generic chocolate (because they don’t do Hershey’s here). While Casey and I complained about our lack of authentic s’mores ingredients, Joel was fascinated by our American concoction of sweets. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, for all of the Tim Tams and Lamingtons and Cadbury chocolate Australia has to offer, they don’t have anything like a s’more. Weird right?
As we sat roasting our mallows and sipping our wine, I noticed an out-of-place light at the water’s edge. There were trees in the way, but it looked like an orange sail on the mast of a boat being lit from underneath by a spotlight. You know, that weird kind of glow? I pointed it out to Joel, who concluded that it was just a campfire, and to Casey who decided it was not a campfire. And then the light started rising. We all sat in the dark dumbfounded. And then it hit us – the moon. It was a little more than a half moon, but it was hot orange and larger than life. It took all of 20 minutes for it rise to it’s proper place in the sky and fade to it’s pale, natural color. In all my life, I have never seen the moon in such a state. I mean, how often is it that someone justifiably mistakes the moon for a campfire?
And so another day filled with life and energy and beauty came to an end beneath a starry sky with a hot fire whipping at my feet.
After a decent night’s sleep (now that Matt was gone we had some extra blankets to go around) we woke up to another sunny morning. Once again, Joel was at the fire cooking eggs and bacon and leftover hunks of steak and peppers. I added a couple of white-chocolate Tim Tam’s to my plate and we chowed down. Over breakfast, we decided to spend the day on the boat circumnavigating the entire island. Why? Why not.
And so for the next three hours we explored the boundaries of Maria. We spent an hour in Haunted Bay where Joel went scuba diving for abalone while Casey and I baked in the sun and discussed plane tickets and travel plans. We stopped in another bay where we fished for flathead. Casey was the only one who caught anything, catching fish two at a time while Joel and I drank our beers in quiet jealousy.
For the rest of our time we rode alongside dramatic cliff faces and in between giant, free-standing rocks. I was sure these rocks were like icebergs waiting to tear our boat open like a tin can – you know, tiny on top and deadly on the bottom – but we never hit anything. We just cruised along, letting the sharp beauty of the island cut into us while we drank our Pale Ales.
All was well until we hit the East side of the island. As soon as we rounded the island, the wind picked up, the swell started bulging and all we could do was skull our beer, put on our weather-proof jackets and hold on. Casey and I moved to the bow of the boat so we could stand up and hold on. We bounced around in the waves like a toy boat in a 3-year-old’s bath tub. It was kind fun, like a little game – how well can I coordinate myself so that I get tossed around as little as possible. After about five minutes, it wasn’t fun anymore. We were getting pummeled. But just when I was ready to start whinging about it, we were back on calm waters, making a bee-line for camp.
We had just enough time to pack up our site and eat a few sausages before getting back on the boat to beat the darkness. Unfortunately, we didn’t beat the waves. Not only were we now loaded down with gear, but the waves were even bigger. There was no room for Casey and I at the bow of the boat, and we were forced to sit on a cooler with nothing to hold onto, our asses crashing into the hard plastic and threatening to hit the floor with every wave. We lasted all of five minutes before making some minor adjustments. In short, we turned the boat into an ocean chariot: Joel tied ropes to the bow so that Casey and I held them like the reigns to a team of horses. We put folded blankets on top of the cooler to absorb some of the ass-to-cooler shock, and we bundled ourselves in our weatherproof gear like Ralphy from ‘A Christmas Story.’
It took us about half an hour to make it back to the mainland. Had it not been for our experienced captain, I assure you we would not have made it. For example, if we had seen similar conditions in Indonesia, we would have capsized and drowned. Thankfully, Joel is experienced on the water and knows how to move with the swell. Not to say that we didn’t have a little bit of luck here and there with some of the bigger waves, but mostly we have Joel to thank.
Anyway, that was the end of Maria Island. We drove the 45 minutes back to town and had one last fresh seafood dinner. We stopped into Joel’s restaurant and set up shop in the back kitchen and went into a fish frenzy. We were slicing and dicing and scrubbing the abalone, cleaning and flouring the flathead. And then we feasted. Abalone in garlic butter and lemon sauce, flathead with a gentle touch of lemon pepper and hot chips fresh from the greaser. A little bit of tartar sauce for the fish (though we truly didn’t need it) and some vinegar for the fries. It was the only way to end the trip.
May 01, 2012 The Devil’s Playground
After spending four months in the ass-end of Australia, it’s time to move on. But first, a farewell roast of my beloved, wretched Tasmania.
Three things about Tasmania that I will not miss
1. Glenorchy – I never had the courage to say this to your face, but to all of you Glenorchy barbers out there giving people mullets and rat tails, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Best of luck to all the teen moms and drug dealers. See ya never!
2. The Weather – You can take your bipolar temperatures, your Antarctic winds and hail and rain and miserable cold and shove it. BYE.
3. Public Transportation – MetroLink, you are a poor excuse for a public transportation system and my life will be better without you in it. Your drivers are a bunch of spastics, you charge too much, your routes are sucky & you run a generally shabby operation. Suck a big one.
Three Must-Do’s that I deliberately did not do
1. I didn’t see a Tasmanian Devil. Big deal. Truth is, you rarely see them in the wild & there’s no way I’m going to a zoo and paying 25 bucks to press my face against a glass window when I can get a better view from a Nat Geo special on TV. Still rooting for the little guys – Shame about the face cancer. But on the bright side, I’ve seen the cartoon and I really enjoyed it as a kid.
2. I didn’t go to Bruny Island. So what? Maria Island is better. Keep your adventure cruises & guided tours to yourself. Although, if you have $500 to spare, why not take a 4-hour day trip?
3. I didn’t visit Port Arthur. Too many out-of-towners have recommended this “lovely historical town” which means it’s a tourist trap and I consider myself lucky to have avoided the place. Plus I hear it’s full of ghosts and tortured souls. No thanks. Anyway, Maria Island is home to a nicer piece of history – same ruined settlements and crumbling bricks without the hassle.
Three Tasmanian treasures I wish I didn’t miss out on
1. The West Coast: Strahan & Cradle Mountain etc – Had this trip all planned out with Joel Beck, just waiting for a clear patch of weather … and then Casey & I booked one-way tickets out of Tasmania and now we’ve run out of time.
2. Mt. Wellington at night – I would have died for a sunset on top of Mt. Wellington followed by a sea of city night lights, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
3. Beach Buffet – Would have been nice to see more of Tasmania’s beautiful coastline. Managed to spend some time in the sand but not nearly enough.
Five things worth doing if you’re ever in Tasmania>
1. Go to the MONA. It will blow your mind and make your stomach turn.
2. Avoid the Tahune Airwalk. It’s not that cool. If you do go though, save yourself the 25 bucks and just walk right in. They won’t notice.
3. Have a meal at Raincheck Lounge in North Hobart – A Saturday night dinner or a Sunday morning brunch. If a waitress named Tammy has a chat with you, tell her I love and miss her.
4. KEEP OUT OF GLENORCHY – Or actually, go to Glenorchy. See for yourself what kind of foul, dirty things live there. And if for any reason you fail to see what I’m talking about, just pull out a pack of cigarettes and drop some change on the ground. They’ll come out of the woodwork.
5. Road trip – Doesn’t matter where you go, just drive for a few hours and enjoy Tassie. Rain or shine, you’re bound to run into something spectacular.
Three things I’ve learned to love about Tasmania
1. Daddy Long Legs – At first I wanted to kill them on sight. They had webs in every corner, they dangled from the ceiling above my bed, they set up their headquarters in my bathroom. And then they started to grow on me. Just the other day I tried to rescue one that got caught in the shower with me. I picked him right up in my hand and set him on a piece of tissue paper hoping to dry his soggy little body, but he didn’t make it. It hurt my heart a little. They’re really nice little spiders once you get used to them.
2. Tassie Folk – The 7-foot man wearing the trench coat, fedora & circular spectacles who’s always lurking around in the back neighborhoods where I run; the red-headed busking lady on Elizabeth street who can’t carry a tune to save her life but who is without a doubt a bonafide witch; the heavy-metal rocker dude in the wheelchair whose always riding the bus through North Hobart and getting into everyone’s business, “Hey lady, where are you going?”; the African guy who wanders up and down Elizabeth street all day every day but never goes anywhere and never gives you enough money when he pays for his coffee; the crazy guy who works at the used book shop who can’t stop running at the mouth even when you ask him nicely to shut up and carry out the transaction because you’re in a hurry; the old man who sits outside of the North Hobart grocery store from the time the sun rises til well after dark and blatantly stares at you but never says ‘hi’ even if you say ‘hi’ first; the bearded ladies (there are two wandering around Hobart); the many schizophrenic people who come out at night to talk to themselves; the trio of hippies running around with their faces painted like animals, drinking soy lattes, looking you in the eye for way too long and generally annoying everyone. All of these Tasmanian characters who I once thought would rob and/or murder me are the same people whose presence has come to make me feel at home.
3. Downtempo – Everything here moves a little slower, is just a little bit offbeat. From basic things like traffic and table service at restaurants, to more complicated things like verbal speech. At first you think you’ll lose your head if the next conversation you have is less than 5 sentences but lasts more than 5 minutes. You’re ready to pile drive the next waitress who walks by your table without handing you a menu. But once you can calm your heart rate down, you learn to slow down and relax. It’s all good in the hood, just stop and smell the roses … and maybe for a few days at a time.
Five things that I will miss dearly
1. Mt. Wellington – I have seen Mt. Wellington each and every single day since I’ve been in Tassie with the exception of a couple of overnight trips for camping and road tripping. It’s part of my day. I wake up and open the window shade and say, ‘Hm, what’s Mt. Wellington look like today?’ I see it fully exposed when the sun is shining and other times it stays hidden behind the fog and clouds, so totally invisible that you’d never know it was there. I see it when its lifeless and grey on cold days, and I see it glowing with life when the sun sets. At night when the moon is bright you can see its rolling shape in the dark, the city lights crawling up its base. There’s not one day that has gone by that I’ve taken this beautiful thing for granted.
2. Big, Gay Rainbows – The weather might be total shit sometimes, but even when you’re pissed off because it’s 35 degrees and sunny but it’s pouring down rain and you’re laying at the beach getting soaked, there’s always a rainbow frowning down somewhere to make it easier to cope with. I’m talking about full, vibrant ribbons of color arching across the sky on the regular. It’s surreal.
3. The Sky – The clouds are perfectly sculpted for your viewing pleasure: they’re colorful and low and they float through the sky faster than the Tasmanians walk down the streets. No matter where you are or what kind of day you’ve had, you can always lift a little bit of weight from your shoulders by taking a few minutes to look up. I’ve spent whole afternoons laying in the grass in parks around Hobart (Tom!) just looking up at the sky and drinking in the atmosphere. And at night when the clouds clear, you’re left with a deep, blue ocean of stars – the most I’ve ever seen in my life. The Tasmanian sky is a truly, madly, deeply beautiful thing.
4. The Waterfront – Down by the wharf on a sunny afternoon at Flippers eating fresh fish and hot chips with vinegar and chicken salt with a cold sea breeze playing in your hair and those goddam seagulls screaming at each other. A Saturday morning at the Salamanca Markets eating jelly donuts and going for a stroll near the docks with an ice cream in your hand. Joel Beck’s boat picking you up on Australia Day and taking you for a booze cruise. Fishing at sunset with a beer in your hand. Nothing but love for the waterfront.
5. The Open Road – If you’re the kind of person who sometimes wants to just kill the afternoon and go for a drive, Tassie is where you want to be. I’ve laid more than one afternoon to rest cruising the countryside with the radio humming & Joel Beck nagging me to roll up the window. In Tassie, no matter which direction you go, no matter which road you take, you’re sure to find yourself in a rolling scape of green and gold on your way to peace of mind. Even the highway is scenic. It’s just something to appreciate, something you don’t always find everywhere you go. Open air, room to breathe & an empty road at sunset. Gonna miss that.
Adios Tasmania! Nice to know you, Goodbye.
Oct 19, 2011 Lost in Translation
There are no photos from our first week in Australia. It was a continuation of Bali in the sense that we were belligerently drunk and still insatiably excited about our newfound freedom. KC and I actually separated for a few days while I went to a wedding, and she got a taste of traveling solo. In my head I dreamed of a ‘Wedding Crashers’ party-time extravaganza. It was the most boring, disgustingly romantic event I have ever witnessed.
Anyway, when that was finally over, KC and reunited only to get into a huge argument about this, that and the other thing. It was a breach of friendship, but we managed to work around it to decide that we would live in Byron Bay. We talked to some of the locals, started pawing through newspapers and scheduled to look at an apartment. The day we were going to check out our potential new pad, we woke up drunk and skipped down. We literally rolled out of our beds and decided, lets get the hell out of here. It was 10:45. The only Greyhound bus for the day was leaving at 11:00 en route to Brisbane. It was bucketing rain. I didn’t have any shoes. KC didn’t have any shoes. I lost my Australian ID card. KC lost her mind. And so, we went running down the road in our bare feet dragging our suitcases before we finally managed to hitch a ride in the Aquarius Backpacker van. At approximately 10:58 we were at the bus terminal. KC unloaded our bags while I pathetically but enthusiastically begged the Greyhound bus driver not to leave without us. The emptied our pockets and bought two one-way tickets back to Queensland.
Sep 13, 2011 Bali Baby!
If you want a real Balinese experience, the last place you should go is Kuta. At least that’s what Lonely Planet’s latest travel guide to Indonesia will tell you. I’ve come across many a foreigner carrying this boring book around, none of whom have ever been to Kuta because of it. They’re idiots. The truth is that if you don’t go to Kuta, you might as well not go to Bali. If you’re looking for some sort of cultural enlightenment and you think you’re going to find it by visiting quaint villages with art galleries and holy temples on display, you’re an asshole. But then again, if you’re traveling around using a book to plan your every move, you’re probably not cut out for the Kuta experience anyway. In that case, you probably won’t be cut out for this travel blog either.
I was 22 years young. I had my youth, my health, my freedom. I made a choice to use them. There was a fire under my feet, a fever in my bones. I packed my University of Florida diploma and the accompanying student loan into a card board box and left it in my family’s garage. I sold my car and left everything that didn’t fit into my suitcase to my little sister. I said farewell to everything and everyone I knew. I booked a one-way ticket to Indonesia and threw my hands in the air …
July 15, 2011 Photographer on the Run
I found a partial solution to my personal dilemma: On the rare occasion that I have the night off from work, do I go for a run at sunset, or do I shoot? On one hand, the light is a dream and the beach comes to life for a couple of hours, but on the other hand, the temperature drops and when the tide is out it’s the most beautiful place you could possibly go for a run. And so, sunset shoot or sunset run? Thanks to my sweet new Canon point and shoot, whose screen I have already shattered, I can do both.
Jan 04, 2013 Margaret River Star Trail
It took me about three exposures on the roof before I got one that worked. Trial and error. I duct-taped a button to my shutter release to keep it open for about 12 minutes. Wasn’t easy stumbling around on the roof with a sleeping family below and an orb spider eating dinner next to me, but with Alex’s help and a cold Coopers green, I successfully shot my first star trail!
May 17, 2011 Night Spirit Part II
Another night at the beach, toying around with flashlights and tripods in the sand, wind and salt. Not so great for the equipment but good for the mind, body and weird spirit.
On my way to a Bachelor in Journalism … kicking and screaming the whole way. The sooner I get my diploma, the sooner I can come up with my own projects! Anyway, here’s a portfolio because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you study multi-media journalism … you’re supposed to make a portfolio.