Tag Archives: melbourne

F*ck you hippies, I’m out!

It is a blustery Saturday afternoon in Melbourne. I have some wet clothes hanging on my balcony, and Notus, Greek god of the southern wind, is trying to scatter them throughout the neighborhood. It rained yesterday, yet earlier today I got so much sun through a cafe window I felt like my face was going to melt. Melbourne Weather(tm): If you don’t like it, wait fifteen minutes.

I have a place to live. I have some new friends. I have been to Ikea twice, and moved some big boxes home using public transit. I recently made my own eggs, for the first time in over nine months. I am rapidly becoming a real person again, instead of a speck of pollen floating on the winds of change.

Open Questions: Is it still considered “traveling” once you have you’ve signed a lease and built Ikea furniture? If not, is this still considered a travel blog if I continue to make posts about my non-travels?



Room Hunting – Success!

Before heading to Melbourne from Perth, I put an ad up on Gumtree (aka “bizarro Craigslist”), describing myself and my search for a open room in one of the hip parts of town.

The first response was from a girl named Kat, saying that she didn’t have a open room for me to move into yet, but that she was organizing a group of people to apply for a lease on “the best house ever”. A few days later I met the crew, saw the house, and signed an application. A few days after that we were approved, and later that week we moved into our new five-bedroom home in Fitzroy.

This description of events probably makes the entire process sound easy, but it was anything but. There were hiccups with the leasing agency involving my foreign status (ixnay on the ackpackerbay!) and my self-employed status (“If you don’t have a boss to verify your income, we’ll settle for talking to your accountant.” “Uh, I don’t have an accountant. I handle my own finances.” “What?”). After being approved for the house, one person backed out. We scrambled to find someone to fill the hole, but only managed to scare a few people off (desperate, needy people do not make the best first impressions on potential housemates).

Eventually we struck a deal that allowed us to move in with three people, and add more at a later date. We have been having much more luck with prospective housemates now that we actually have the house to show them, instead of a few photos and a copy of the floor plan.

I’m now the token boy in the house, enjoying the perks (and higher price) of the master bedroom, sharing the place with Kat, Augie and Corinna. Feelers are out for someone to fill the empty room — preferably a guy to assist with beer/meat consumption and wingman duties.

Room Hunting = speed dating

I’m not one to put all of my eggs into one basket, so I actively looking for other housing options until I finally put pen to lease papers. This was a lot of fun.

I went to check out a lot of potential homes, and drank a lot of free beer/coffee with a lot of potential roommates. Sometimes I clicked more with the room than the roommates. Sometimes I clicked more with the beer than the room. And sometimes I clicked more with the roommates than either. I actually met a few great people in the process.

My friend Owen from college met his current girlfriend when he looked at a room she had open in her apartment. He looked at the apartment, met the people, and went home… only to write an email describing himself as pro-girl but anti-apartment. I used to give him shit for this lazy way of meeting women (yes, I was the bitter single guy critiquing the methods of my seemingly happy friends in relationships), but now I finally understand that this is an absolutely wonderful way to meet people — potentially romantic, definitely platonic, whatever.

It’s like a strange version of speed dating, but by calling it something else people lose all of their weird meeting-new-people hangups. It’s like when my parents told me that calamari rings were a special type of fried cheese during my picky eating years, and tricked me into a lifetime of seafood-appreciation

Now I have a place to live AND some people to hang out with.

Note: this was all permissible since I was actually looking for a place to live. Would it be creepy to go room hunting with no intention of actually moving? Most likely, yes. However, if I were to do it again, would it be in the Top 5 list of creepy things I’ve done? No, probably not.

The death of a backpacker

I emptied my backpack of all of its contents and hid it on the top shelf of my closet. The Green Menace (previously unnamed, but it looks a bit scary up there) has treated me well over the past three months, but I’m temporarily over the concept of living out of a bag… even if it’s a wonderful bag.

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I walked by a local hostel a few days ago on my way to buy something deliciously domestic like 500 thread count sheets. I saw some hairy, shirtless, dreadlocked guys trying to parallel park their giant camper van in a tiny space in front of the building. With a smug smile on my face, I thought “Fuck you hippies, I’m out!”.

All plans for future travel are on hold. Darwin, Alice Springs, Cairns, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Japan: screw off. I’m in MELBOURNE.



“How long are you staying?”

Everyone I meet here asks me this. Stop nagging me, I don’t know!

The lease I signed (12 months) is longer than the time remaining on my visa (9 months). If I end up wanting to do some brief traveling (and return) I’ll need to sublet. If I want/need to leave the area permanently, I’ll have to find someone to take over my portion of the lease.

If I want to stay longer than January 2011, I have some additional visa options. I have six months or so before I need to make a decision!

Pub Trivia

My new friend Tom (who happens to have a lovely room for rent in North Fitzroy) recently invited me out to a pub trivia night in Brunswick, and now I’m hooked.

I always forget just how much I love the rush that comes from probing the depths of my brain for esoteric information, while numbing said depths with copious amounts of beer.

Our two-man team came in 3rd overall out of around twelve teams. The teams that did better than us had far more people than we did. I reckon we’ll be serious contenders if we can add a few more people to the crew! Actually, I don’t care about the top prize… just as long as we keep winning some of the free beer rounds!



The Supermarket of Plenty

I know that stealing is wrong. However, I believe that random errors in my favor are oh so right.

The first time I went to my new local supermarket, I received $10 more in change than I was due, but didn’t realize it until I got home.

The next time I went, I got home and found that among my numerous plastic grocery bags was one full of stuff I hadn’t picked out or paid for. The guy in front of me in line left me a rotisserie-cooked chicken and multigrain rolls!

Random events? Karmic reward for some past good I’ve done? Who cares — beer money and chicken sandwiches!

Improv class

I tried to register for some improv classes which supposedly just started in Melbourne, but the people in charge haven’t responded to any of my email inquiries. Come on jerks, I want some stage time!

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The Law of Smells, and other tales

Melbourne Wrapup

I’m leaving in eight hours for six days of adventure (Great Ocean Road, Grampians National Park, Kangaroo Island). After that I have a few free days in Adelaide, and then it’s a ten day adventure from Adelaide to Perth.

Catch you later, Melbourne. I’ll be back soon.

Lately I’ve been taking little notes on the go, whenever something even slightly interesting happens or comes to mind. At any given moment I may have a few paragraphs of material in my head, which I distill into a few choice keywords which I jot down in my phone’s notes application.

I will now go through my phone and use these keywords as jumping off points in a failed attempt to recapture the former glory of my fully-formed theses.

It’s like a game of telephone between three people, but the guy in the middle just learned English as a second language, and we’re pretty sure he’s just ingested a large dose of veterinary grade ketamine.

“time machine”

I recently read Chuck Klosterman’s latest collection of essays, Eating the Dinosaur. The title is a reference to one of the essays in which he discusses time travel, along with the merits of going back in time in order to eat some delicious dinosaurs (note to self: you’ve been in Australia for over month and still haven’t eaten crocodile). Klosterman also poses some open-ended “If you could do anything in category X, with restrictions Y and Z, what would you do?”-style time travel questions that are a lot of fun to think about and to ask other people.

I’ve tweaked some of these questions a bit so I can ask them of complete strangers and not have them look at me like a total freak. They’re constantly evolving, but one is along the lines of:

“I’m going to let you borrow my time machine. You can use it to go back to any time in the past, but once you’re there you have to live out the rest of your days there. You can’t use any of your knowledge of the future to make yourself rich or famous, or change major historical events, but you can certainly use your knowledge to have fun. Also, nobody will ever believe you if claim you’re from the future. What do you do?” (yes, Klosterman’s questions are probably better. Also, I’m surprised that everyone so far — about 20 people — has been excited by the question. People like thinking about this kind of crap more than I ever knew.)

Even when the responses are boring, it’s still an interesting way to break the ice. However, sometimes the responses aren’t boring, and actually help to illustrate whether someone is fun or not. Some of the most memorable responses have been:

“I’d go back to 1978, because it sounds like a fun time to be 20 and they had modern stuff like blow dryers back then.” – Girl, 20ish

“No, I’d maybe wait a few years. 1982. Then I could be there for the rise of The Smiths, and when Morrissey breaks out I’d KNOW him, and I could follow him around to be there for him. He’s my favorite.” – The same girl, after I made fun of her for the complete inanity of the blow dryers line. This is around the time that I noticed her all-black outfit, asymmetric haircut and the tattoos that didn’t say “Morrissey” but may as well have. This is also around the time that I excused myself from the conversation.

“I’d go back in time and be in the Back to the Future movies. Think about it.” – Different girl, 20ish. I accepted this because there are probably many people who were in those movies and are neither rich nor famous. I also figure this wouldn’t change any major historical events: Michael J. Fox still grows up to be the most famous person anyone can think of with Parkinson’s, and Lea Thompson still moves on to cause legions of guys like me to change the channel whenever Caroline in the City comes on. Bonus points for a clever answer (“ironic” isn’t the right word here… “meta”, perhaps?).

Of course, everyone always wants to know what my answer to the question would be. I think I’ve recovered emotionally from missing out on the chance to see Snakes on a Plane on opening night, so I’d probably go back to 1978, because it sounds like a fun time to be 26 and they had modern stuff like blow dryers back then.

“that guy”

Kids, skip the $160k college education and repeat after me: “Don’t Be That Guy”. Over half of what I learned in college can be boiled down to this trusty phrase, so save the money and start traveling and spreading the good word.

That Guy can take on many forms, none of which is not to be trusted: That Guy took the last slice of pizza. That Guy stole your girlfriend. That Guy ran a Ponzi scheme. That Guy murdered and ate little boys.

In that magical summer between high school and college I had what was essentially the exact same one-sided conversation with a multitude of adults. Anyone who has ever “moved on” to the next chapter of their life knows this one by heart: it’s the one where you quietly listen while someone older than you tries to convince you that they were cool at your age, and sets themselves up for a few years of living vicariously through you, while sprinkling a few pithy aphorisms throughout.

The take-home messages were: (a) “this is an exciting time in your life”, (b) “you’ll learn more outside of the classroom than inside of it”, and (c) “I’m a friend of your parents and have no idea what to say to you, so please accept this Garfield graduation card with $25 cash tucked inside”.

All completely true, but let’s focus on (b). No mention of That Guy yet, but we’re getting there.

Yes, I did four years of hard labor at a top engineering school, and while I’ve already forgotten how to read a bode plot or solve a differential equation, I’ll never forget the life lessons presented on the first day of school and then reinforced every day since then. They stick with me since I helped run orientation three times.

For one small segment of Harvey Mudd College’s freshman orientation, the two genders were split up into different lecture halls and given the straight dope on what it’s like to be a smart boy/girl with a painful lack of social skills. Traditional issues involving the opposite sex: “How are you supposed to be successful with a girl at a party when you’ve never even talked to one”? Traditional issues involving the same sex: “How do you share a dorm room with a guy who sports wood whenever he watches anime, and has no inclination to hide it”?

The part I do know about, “Men’s Issues”, can be boiled down to three simple rules for the incoming freshmen guys to follow:

  • “Don’t be a jackass”
  • “Don’t stalk the women” (you REALLY need to drive this point home with lovesick nerds)
  • “Not on your roommate’s stuff” (some people get off on the weirdest things… literally and figuratively)

If we trust that these three statements are true, we can then derive “Don’t Be That Guy”.

As a quick aside, I don’t know too much about the “Women’s Issues” meeting except that the older girls actually prepared a list of “Guys to beware of” for the incoming freshwomen. Of course, this list always had the opposite effect of whatever it was intended to do — being put on this list was one of the best things that could ever happen for your social life. This may hold true of all “bad boy” lists in the world, except those which legally require you to go door-to-door upon moving to a new neighborhood. Sometimes it pays to be thought of as That Guy, whether it’s true or not.

So, why are we talking about That Guy in the first place? Simply put, I hate him.

I spotted That Guy early last night, shortly after arriving at the Ding Dong Lounge. A band was playing and everyone was standing around enjoying the music, dancing in a reasonable manner, when That Guy crept out of the shadows. Surely you’ll agree with the tell-tale signs that help to identify him:

  • That Guy is the most enthusiastic dancer in the entire venue
  • That Guy has a personal soundtrack playing at twice the tempo than the music the rest of us hear
  • That Guy is a pinball, and our drinks are bumpers worth 50 points per collision
  • That Guy did not get the memo that we’re all wearing long pants tonight
  • That Guy learned his dance moves from Pee-wee Herman, but eventually the student became the teacher
  • That Guy does not clap between songs. Instead, he rapidly squeezes a squeaky dog toy
  • That Guy is going to drink that entire pitcher of beer by himself, so help him God
  • That Guy smirks instead of apologizing
  • That Guy does not own a full-length mirror, and it shows
  • That Guy seems to know Those People in the audience. Those People do not look happy to see That Guy
  • That Guy is being escorted out by security

Unfortunately, That Guy is like Agent Smith in The Matrix — possessing new bodies at will. Less than an hour after being escorted out, That Guy had taken on a new corporeal form, cut in with the girl I was dancing with, took her hand in his to spin her, and managed to run their connected mid-twirl hands into my mouth.

As I started to bleed from my lip, That Guy skulked back into the shadows alone, sans apology.

Random:

  • Yes, I got digits.
  • Does That Guy play by Vampire rules? I mean, my blood is on his hands, so am I bound to turn into him?
  • In some cultures/mythologies That Guy goes by the alternate name “The Douchebag”.
  • Vampires, shape-shifters, telepaths and maenads not enough for you? In the next season of True Blood they’re going to reveal Jason Stackhouse to be That Guy.

“gretsch”

I have never played a Gretsch hollow body electric guitar. We should change this.

“law of smells”

I wish I could unsmell some of the things I’ve been forced to endure during my travels. A Nasonex spray created by the Men in Black would be ideal — two squirts up each nostril and I’d blissfully forget about today’s trip on the city tram.

Shared hostel bathroom facilities are the worst — there’s something about a room with no windows, four toilets and four showers that has the potential for evil. When all showers and stalls are occupied simultaneously, good men have been broken — men far greater than myself. I will suggest the term “shit sauna” and leave the rest to your imagination.

Luckily, not everything is bad news. I have developed my Law of Smells, which goes as follows: “If you find yourself around other travelers and something smells foul, worry not, for you are not the offending party”. So stop checking yourself. You took a shower today, and your new deodorant is working wonders for you.

It’s like a luxury item so expensive that simply asking what the price is means that you can’t afford it — but replace “luxury item so expensive” with “smell so horrible”, “asking the price” with “acknowledging its presence”, and “ability to afford it” with “responsibility for it”.

Things are extra true if any of the following are involved: dreadlocks, hackysacks, tank tops, tribal band tattoos.

“full length mirror”

Constantly in search of inexpensive Halloween costume ideas, I’m filing away the notion of “guy who doesn’t own a full-length mirror”. Easy.

“layers”

Loud bars + shouting to be heard + different accents = plenty of opportunity for misunderstandings.

Conversing with two Aussie girls, complaining about the heat:

Me: “If you’re too hot, just take off some of those layers!”
Girl: “Excuse me? We’re too hot and you want to take off and lay us?”

I mean, kinda… but let’s get first names first.

“on the road”

I paid a visit to an actual book store to buy some PAPER BOOKS (gasp!) since my Kindle disappeared and I’m going on a very long road trip. I couldn’t bring myself to buy exorbitant prices for the paper copies of the eBooks I’ve already purchased (e.g. Infinite Jest, which cost $10 in Kindle version and $35 MSRP in this bookstore). I’ll be ordering a new Kindle soon, and have it sent to wherever I’m staying in Adelaide or Perth so I can re-download all of my purchases and pick up where I left off.

The only paperbacks that aren’t priced higher than a black market kidney around here are Penguin Classics, so I picked up On The Road and Cat’s Cradle. I passed on Love in the Time of Cholera, thank you very much.

There’s something charming about devouring On The Road while being, you know, on the road… but it also feels incredibly cliche. OH WELL. Maybe it’s more unique since I’m reading it on the Great Australian Road Trip instead of the Great American one. Anything to add a little tangy zing to this sandwich that you’ve all already eaten!

“jaywalking”

Melbourne is a jaywalker’s paradise, since most of the streets have dedicated tram/streetcar lanes running in between the car traffic lanes.

Look right stepping off the curb, run to the tram tracks, hang out for a bit, look left stepping off the tram tracks, run to the opposite curb. EASY MODE.

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More Marvelous Melbourne

I’m holding down the fort here in Melbourne for a few more days.

Things are good, but there’s not much to report.  All I do is sleep in, do a bit of exploring by day, and go out socializing every night.  Not very “wild”, compared to my surf trip up the east coast, or my upcoming road trip.  I figure I should hit the road and enjoy the country while it’s still warm.  I can come back and enjoy the city when winter comes.

On Tuesday I start my big adventure over to Perth via the Great Ocean Road, Grampians National Park, Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and the Nullarbor Plain.  A little over two weeks to travel a distance roughly equal to that between New Orleans and Los Angeles.

Missing Kindle:

My Amazon Kindle is missing, and I’m pretty sure it was stolen.  I either left it in the shared bathroom (setting it on top of the urinal and forgetting about it) and someone made off with it, or it was taken from my room by the guy who checked out on the day I noticed it missing.

I really have no idea which scenario is more likely. The guy seemed trustworthy, but at the same time I’ve never misplaced valuable electronic equipment before.

The people at the front desk say that something similar to what I described may have been turned in to the Lost+Found, but is now missing.  Unfortunately they can’t verify that they ever actually had it.  If it doesn’t turn up I’ll have to buy a new one and guard it with my life.

Back to paper books for now, which is a pain in the ass since I’m halfway done with Infinite Jest and would rather finish it than start something new.

Nights out:

I’m still shocked by how nice people are here.

Almost every time I suspect someone is being sarcastic, they aren’t:  I walked up to a group of girls at The Carlton and one immediately says something along the lines of “Oh, so you think you’re just going to walk up here and we’re going to become good friends and exchange phone numbers just like that?”, which I took as some sort of sarcastic, bitchy, “go away” line.  But no, she was legitimately interested in becoming friends and exchanging numbers right off the bat.  And that’s how my phone met “steph wants to show u melbourne”.

Steph’s friend Alice was drunk as a skunk and felt it necessary to vehemently list all of her grievances with the United States.  The girl said she normally hates Americans (her only exposure being the numerous US military guys who come to Australia on leave from Iraq), but that I was cool and worth buying drinks for (I’d like to think so).  Also worth noting that Alice is taller than me and could probably kick my ass.  And that’s how my phone met “alice anti-america”

Random:

– I ran into two Danish guys from surf camp (Martin and “quiet tall guy”) at the St. Kilda music festival.  Completely random, since the last place I saw them was in Byron Bay — over 1000 miles away.  They spent a few weeks working as roofers in Queensland in the brutal heat before saying “fuck this” and flying to Melbourne.

– I finally memorized all of the street names that make up the grid in the Central Business District.

– Current favorite bar at the moment is The Carlton.  Open “late” (2am?) Monday-Wednesday, “very late” (3am?) on Thursday and Sunday, and “very, very late” (after 4am) on Friday and Saturday.  Honorable mention may go to Pony which is open until 7am and has live music.

Language:

– A person that sells fruit is a fruiterer.  Yes, three syllables are apparently necessary for this.

Pashing is what couples do on couches in dimly lit areas of bars and clubs.  Pashing is the new snogging.  Abbreviated from “passionate kiss”, apparently.

Heaps remains to be heaps popular wherever I go. By far the most useful Aussie slang so far.

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