At the end of 2014, I declared my 2015 New Year’s resolutions to be, learn to build a fire with my bare hands, (which I discuss in With a Little Help from My Friends) and be nicer to strangers (which I discuss in Merch Rant). I think that I conquered both with flying colors, though the man who asked me during one of this year’s tours, “who in the band are you fucking?” may disagree with the being nicer to strangers part. Anyway, I was high on those achievements so when 2015 rolled around, I decided to go big and declare my resolution to be visit another country. I have been all over and across and backward and forward through this damn country multiple times, so it was time to cross an ocean. I had been to Western Europe as a teen, and I have been to Canada a bunch of times due to touring but Canada doesn’t count and neither do your teen years.
This year, I surpassed my personal expectations by a long shot. I went to Australia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. My first expedition across an ocean, I went all out and went to Australia. For a boy. Of course. We will call him Vox. This tale may be told in its’ entirety someday, but this is not that day. For now, I’ll just say that I had technically only known him for three days back in 2012. Three years later and I’m visiting him in Oz because clearly, that seemed like a bright idea. That’s what the Australians call Australia. Oz. Kind of cool right?
The first thing I learned about Australia, is that they are fucking chill. All the logistical nightmares that go along with traveling outside of the country was a breeze. When applying for a visa, I was prepared to spend at least an hour on the paperwork and digging up documents and then expected to have to wait a couple of weeks to be approved. No. Getting a visa for Australia was the easiest thing I have ever done in my life. I think the whole process took about a minute and a half. I have to provide more information when I order something off of ebay. These types of occurrences would prove to be normal when dealing with Australia in every aspect.
Vox and I went snorkeling at this very beautiful island off of the coast. It was with a company, so I was expecting to have to show a driver’s license, possibly leave a one million dollar deposit in case I run off with their gear, and sign and initial at least 100 pieces of paper basically saying that if I drown, I won’t sue them. Nope. “Can you swim?” asked the man behind the desk. “Yes!” I say with a laugh. “Well all right then!” And that’s that. I swear that if America did things the way that Australia did, we would all have HOURS of extra time a week.
I also learned that going for a jog cures constipation. I was a bit nauseous for the first few days I was there. I thought that it may be nerves or possibly jet lag. Then I realized that I hadn’t shit in four days. Lovely. And my stomach was huge. I told Vox, who laughed at me and went on to tell the snorkeling instructor that I was pregnant who I think continued to believe that I was pregnant even after we informed her that he was joking. Later, I decided to go on a run to try to bounce everything down and it worked. Doing jumping jacks or something similar probably would work too. You’re welcome.
There are no homeless people or black people in Australia. I found this disturbing. I need black people in my life and as far as the homeless go… I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s great that there is virtually no poverty, but coming from the States, it was almost like I didn’t trust how picture perfect it was. Are all of the homeless people rounded up and thrown into an underground dungeon? I couldn’t wrap my mind around a big city with no homeless people. I was staying in Brisbane, and while it was beautiful, it was almost too clean for me. Normal people would love the cleanliness, I understand that I am the abnormal one. I kind of like slightly seedy cities. The sidewalks in Brisbane blew my mind. I must have taken at least five pictures of fucking sidewalks just to document how clean they are! So, no homeless or black people, but there are lots of Asians. And lots of Mom’s wearing yoga pants and jogging with strollers.
The coffee situation is different and caused me some grief. First World problems, I know. Vox knew before my arrival that I had a very strict morning ritual which included coffee. So on the first morning, he was being wonderfully thoughtful when he asked me for my coffee order that he was planning on picking up while I contemplated waking up. “Just a medium coffee,” I said. But he didn’t understand what that meant. And I didn’t understand that he didn’t understand what a fucking medium coffee was. To Australians (or Ozzies as they call themselves), a typical coffee is what is called a “flat white.” A flat white is the same goddamn thing as a latte. Don’t let Starbucks fool you into thinking it is different. If you want a regular drip coffee, the closest thing you’re going to get is what I learned to be called a “long black.” This is what we call in the States an Americano; espresso and hot water. A normal pot of coffee in Australia does not exist.
The bats. Holy shit. They are not bats, they are Dracula. Coincidentally, I was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, when I was in Australia. These motherfucking bats have at least a meter wingspan. I looked up one evening when the sun was going down, to see Dracula flying over me. I initially thought I had witnessed a freak of nature, but Vox thought nothing of it. Over the next few minutes we would both learn that all creatures in Australia can kill you. This is a notion that he is used to and grew up with, but I was the wimpy American who cannot comprehend that deadly snakes are in the suburbs. They actually have survival lessons that they are required to take in school! Anyway, the bats are everywhere. When the sun is setting in Australia, just look up and the bats on steroids are all flying to Dracula’s cave or wherever the fuck they go at night.
Since we are on the topic of nature, when you are in Australia, even in the city, it always sounds like you are in the damn rain forest. It’s pretty cool. Imagine being in New York City and instead of being awaken by horns and urban noises, you are awaken by 5,000 different kinds of bird calls. It kind of felt like even if you were living in the city… the down under was there to remind you that nature is far more powerful.
There are a million ways to die in Australia. Has everyone seen the movie, A Million Ways to Die in the West? Well, someone needs to make the same movie but about Australia. For example, before traveling there, I started reading a little bit of their news, and one of the headlines said, “Locust swarms black out the sky.” What?! Locust plagues still exist? I thought that was just biblical storytelling. Anyway, this one I read about was 100 acres long and so thick that it blacked out the sky. Another incident, Vox was on the phone with me while he was driving, and he said, “it is raining pretty hard.” Several minutes later I heard him say, “Oooo I don’t know if my car can make it through that.” That’s when I got it out of him that it wasn’t raining pretty hard, there was a goddamn natural disaster underway and he was shrugging it off because they’re used to everything there trying to kill you! After slaughtering him with questions, I found out that the water was almost up to his car window during the “I don’t know if my car can make it through that,” part of the conversation. Miraculously, the car did make it. Two days later I read in the paper about flash floods in Australia that killed some people. “How many people died?” Vox asked me. “Six.” I told him. “Ah well, that’s not too bad, eh?” Oh my god. Anyway, there are two for the a million ways to die in Australia movie! I’ll give you those for free.
They call New Zealander’s “kiwi’s.” According to Vox this is not derogatory, but I seriously doubt that.
The Aussie’s add a y to the end of a bunch of words, giving nouns a cute little nickname. For example, sunglasses are sunnys, they call bicycles pushys and gum is chewy. I told Vox to chill the fuck out with all that because it makes him sound like a seven year old girl. He laughed and made an effort.
There is a underlying level of old school masculinity in Australia that does not really exist much anymore in the States. Back in the ‘50s or somewhere around then, most men were still handy. They could all fix the sinks and the cars or build a fence or shelves or whatever. It is still a little bit like that in Australia. On top of this, it seems like a lot of the men have a trade of some sort. Something that they are good at which involves working with their hands. Vox builds shit, and amongst his friends there was a painter, a carpenter, a barber, an electrician, etc. These blue collar jobs that you don’t hear about much in the States anymore. That may have been my favorite thing about Australia. There was a REAL middle class. Growing up as a millennial, and trying to find a job in the States during the recession was a very different experience than what the Australian’s my age have experienced. So, I thought it was cool that there, you could simply pick a trade and then get a job and make enough money at it to be comfortable and have a family if you want. Simple as that. Everyone seemed content. No ugly rat races to the top. And I’ve always found blue collar workers to be sexy.
Along with the real middle class, I really love that there seems to be very little corruption there. Like I said, I began reading the Australian news for a time, and their headlines were seriously laughable compared to the States. American headlines are about mass shootings everyday and corruption on Wall Street, while their biggest news is about women protesting the tax of tampons. I swear to god that was a real article on the front page. I find this beautifully ironic because their nation was founded by convicts and ours by Puritans.
Just some Aussie observations I made. A couple of months later me, my sister and Fat Face were off to Eastern Europe with backpacks. That epic is coming soon…