Posts Tagged ‘australia’

Last night I¬†went swing dancing with a friend- a hobby that I used to enjoy quite often. As Leeds spun me around, he asked the niceities: “What’s your name?” and “what do you do?”

The whole experience brought back amazing memories- one being that I would introduce myself to each new dance partner with a different name and story (because my real story bored me).

“Hello. I’m Susan. I’m a receptionist”

“Hello, I’m Mary. I work in HR.”

“Hello. I’m Kate. I’m a musician.”

None of the above got any sort of response! I WONDER WHY!? So I started going bigger.

“Howdy, I’m Jill. I’m new here- I live in Australia where I see Nemo all the time.”

“Hi! I’m Cathy. I just climbed Machu Picchu.”

“Sup? I’m Samantha. I’ve ridden an elephant. No. That’s not a euphemism.”

Confession: I was (am?) a little extreme/out of control at times. During this exercise I would spend all week thinking up different lies. Perfecting the stories that I’ve already created based on the questions that people asked me. Then I started using my own (real) name. Then I realized how stupid (sorry, Deva)¬†I was because I lived a lie.

So a bucket list was created. And then carried out.

As Leeds and I kick up our heels to the Charleston, I think back to the last time I danced like this (at the Bogo “morale event” 10 days post-typhoon) and smile. Leeds asks me if I’ve been to Korea- and I tell him “No. But North Korea is in 2016.”

And my bucket list gets longer.

Moral of the story: As the cliche goes: “fake it until you make it”.

I love looking through my passport. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine- seeing the stamps and visas that I’ve collected, remembering all the boarder crossings that I’ve walked through, fruit/veg check points that I’ve lied my way past and random light-hearted (or bawling) conversations I’ve had with the customs officials.

I remember the time I was stuck at the Costa Rica boarder trying so hard to figure out what to do. The lack of signs made me think I had already gone through the line, only to be turned around at a random check point and told I had to walk back and get stamped in.

I cried a lot that day.

My Canadian work visa is a constant reminder of one of my biggest failures and hardest lessons of my life. I found a stamp for February 2008 and was transported back to leaving “short crunch” (90+hours a week) to go to NYC because my (step) grandma had died. I wasn’t so sad about her death as I was about my Grandpa. Widowed twice- both after 29 years of marriage- the first was my name-sake and I had never met her. I remember seeing him and having lunch at the deli right by his apartment. He and I didn’t have a great bond as I rarely got to spend time with just him- but sitting across from him, that day, I saw all of the familiar mannerisms that my dad uses: using humor to pass off his sadness or to try to not talk about difficult things by diverting the conversation to mundane topics like “how about dem Yankees?” . I tried so hard to have a deep and emotional with my Grandpa that day- to try to get to know him (what was he like? What did he think about? What was his favorite color? His favorite ice-cream flavor? What games did he play growing up?)

But nothing I tried worked- which just reminded me more of the big epic failure I had waiting for me back in Canada (my job).

Months of frustration and no sleep resulted in me getting fired from that job- which was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. Years later, during my Grandpa’s shiva, I had this moment of clarity where I couldn’t be in that industry anymore- Working one last contract, I managed to save enough to set off on my travels.

The Vietnamese visa reminds me of trying to check into my flight in the glorious Singapore Airport for Ho Chi Minh City, only to realize that I had to pre-apply for a visa. (My hair had become more blonde during my trek through the middle of Australian Outback and the only defense I have is that it must have been a blonde moment thinking I was exempt from getting a Vietnamese visa before boarding the plane.) Luckily! I could apply online (with the expedited 50$ fee!) and receive my visa at HCMC’s airport.

The .35$ Saigon Greens made up for it in the end.

I have 3 “fake” stamps. One for the Galapagos, one for Machu Picchu and a shark stamp. The shark stamp I received at the Houston Aquarium when a little kid asked me for my passport. I have it to him and he stamped it with a shark stamp. What I didn’t realize at the time was that there was a special “shark stamp passport” that you could get that the curio shop and the stamps were to mark all the different sharks that existed in the Gulf.

Now, having a fake stamp is kinda illegal. If you meet a hard-ass-no-fun official he could decline you entry/exit and then you’re basically hosed. This fear came when I was at the Copenhagen Airport trying to leave for my flight to Dublin. He turned to the page with the shark, pointed and grunted. I sighed and started to explain the story of the little kid and the aquarium. He rolled his eyes in this “stupid Americans!” way, stamped that page and off I went!

I’ve never had another problem with it since then.

Then there was the time when the bus was told to not make any conversation with the custom officials at the Namibia boarder because they were notoriously skeptical of American foreigners and may hold up the whole group. The day before I had gone zip-lining in Vic falls and had sharpie marker symbols on my hand. The customs official asked me about it.

“Oh, I went zip-lining. They wrote this on my hand as proof of payment or something.”

“Was it fun?”

“Hell yea it was fun!”

“Weren’t you scared?”

“You know the feeling you get when you like a boy and you think he’s going to kiss you- but you aren’t sure. And then you do? You know that feeling in your stomach- we call it butterflies. That scared feeling and then the thrill of excitement? It’s like that.”

She just smiled, stamped my passport and let me go.

The rest of the bus, behind me, just shook their heads, in complete disbelief that I:
A) disobeyed orders by having an actual conversation with the official and
B) that I just compared zip-lining to kissing a boy.

I stand by my statement and regret nothing.

So, basically, my passport is my greatest souvenir that I could have. A constant reminder of how much money I’ve invested on travel and small memories of specific times in my life.

Happy Birthday, Fathead!

Posted: September 16, 2014 in Hope, Ramblings
Tags: , ,

Today is my brother’s birthday. His name is Josh. I call him Fathead.

Growing up, Fathead and I didn’t always have the best relationship. ok- I hated him. From the instant he came home from the hospital it was rumored that I picked him up out of the crib and dropped him on the floor.

Oh yea- and that time that I kicked him down the stairs.

And nearly cut off his fingers with hedge clippers….

And… ok. you get the point.

But I (mostly) did all this because I was the big sister and he was the annoying younger brother who wanted to be exactly like me. He wore my cool over-shirts, he would invite himself to my pool parties, he stole my halloween candy, he wanted to learn to ride a bike like me! Guh! Annoying, right? How dare he!

This continued until I moved out and went to college (uni). Then he grew into his own self and I was less suffocated from the small town I lived in. He developed his own taste, friends, style and I finally saw him as a (gasp!) cool human being- not just a pest that is my younger brother.

Confession: Actually, he was way cooler than me. His parties were renowned and full of #winning AND #tigerblood- before it was even cool!

Now growing up with Fathead wasn’t all that bad. We tag-teamed-tortured my parents,¬†played a lot of cards, built snow forts,¬†put on plays, ¬†went to camp together, caught crayfish in the creek, watched a lot of TV and movies together… You know, normal stuff.

Actually, the term “fathead” is from an old Bill Nye episode where they explained that 80% of your brain is fat– so technically, we’re all fatheads (fathead!).¬†

Last year I had this great thought of going to Melbourne¬†during their winter (America’s summer). I thought it would be “a nice change of weather” from the balmy tropics that I had been living in for 7 months prior. I was right in that regard: it was a change! But I suffered greatly for it with my seasonal depression and the whole lack of sun thing. Looking back at my journal- it was some of the most emotionally miserable months of my life that I had to force myself to be pulled from. You get the picture: it was a really rough time for me. In my last attempt at some sort of normalcy, I started emailing everyone I knew- including my brother.

He was one of the only ones that wrote back. And I’m forever grateful for this.

Apparently we had a lot to talk about- because this correspondence went on for months! We hashed out everything (ALL THE FEELS!) over epic-long emails: Girls, boys, freak outs, mistakes, lessons learned, thoughts of death, thoughts of the future, hopes, dreams, theater productions, “this one time I got drunk off goon”… you name it!

It was probably some of the best times I had in Australia was getting to know my brother- who was 16 time-zones away. I guess that phrase “distance makes the heart grow fonder” really *IS* true, because I can’t imagine my life without him. ūüôā


Happy Birthday, Fathead. Thank you for being an amazing human being that I look (physically down, mentally up) to.

This is way over-due, and for that I’m sorry.

Australia at first glance seems like the perfect place to survive the zombie apocalypse: it’s a massive island/continent/country that is mostly self-sufficient and has some of the coolest/most laid back locals ever… The differences of the cities is unlike anything that I have experienced anywhere else:
Melbourne- the hub of art, dance, theater and culture.
Adelaide- a sleepy and charming town with acres and acres of vineyards and amazing zoo,
cairns- the gloriously sunny beach town where it’s advised to not swim in the croc-infested waters but instead to gaze at the sunrises and go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
Sydney- where everyone goes for a holiday due to its mixed abundance of things to do,
Alice springs- with it’s super dry climate, heaps of wild life (camels!) and really laid back locals with the deliciously adorable accents,
Darwin- croc and party central. (Because those two things go together so well!)

However, after living there for 5 months I can tell you that while I ADORE oz, could see myself living there for a really long time, I would definitely leave the second z-day happened. Here’s why:

Australia in General:

*Location: 8/10
The location is actually pretty good. Keeping in mind that Australia is HUGE (bigger than the continental US) you have all sorts of climates to choose from. The weather stays about the same on the coasts (Sydney, Brisbane, Byron bay, cairns, etc.) as where Melbourne gets cold during their winter (June-sept) and hot (where the sun feels like a laser beam!) during the summer months (nov-feb). There aren’t any natural disasters except bush fires during the dryer months (which could be disastrous- but once the population dies off, you should be ok.) the only bad part of Australia is the HUGE desert in the middle (the outback). Unlike in the states and going through Nevada, you could go 300-500km without seeing anyone or anything. Including service stations. So be prepared. Being fuel and water with you if you venture into the bush.

*Water: 8/10
Most of Australia is in a constant state of drought. (It’s actually kind awesome that everyone i met only takes 7 min showers. and they do this instinctively.) however, while drinking/purified water is limited the place is an island- surrounded by water. Making it easy to get on a boat and sail away to somewhere else.

I should note: I never visited Tasmania- which may be a better option for the apocalypse- but I don’t know.

*Lodging: 9/10
The lodging (overall) is as sturdy as you would get in any first world country. Built to code, multiple accesses, some creative shops with apartments on top, etc.
In cooper pedy the houses are built underground (because it can get upto 45 (113F) degrees on the surface during the summer months.) I don’t know if zombies can melt- but this is the only place I found that is “bunker like” in Oz.

*Food: 8/10
Oh. Em. Gee. The food in oz is amazing. The agriculture is plentiful and is mostly organic/real food (no gmo food here.) the meat you can eat is also tasty and endless. Kangaroo, croc, emu, camel, pig, cow and lamb are all readily available. You would be able to plant/grow your own food- but you have to be careful during the summer months (which are the driest.)

*Costco/equivilant: 3/10
Big super-stores don’t really exist- but the towns are built in a way so you can walk down a single street and get everything you would need: grocery store, market, butcher, hardware store, 2-dollar store, pharmacies, banks, gyms, coffee shops, liquor stores, etc. all on a single block.

The first place that Australia loses my vote for “best place to be during zday” is because of the lack of guns. There is no where to readily get a gun/ammo. Unless you’re in the bush and you know a guy- there aren’t stores that you can loot to defend yourself against the ___12 million___ people/zombies that live in oz.

*Non-dead dangers: 1/10
Here is where Australia loses. Home
To crocs, sharks, 9/10 most deadly snakes, heaps of poisonous (and/or wicked scary) spiders, drop bears, mosquitos with dengue fever…. I’ve said it before and ill say it again: I think the Australian army should lease themselves out to fight wars with unstable living environments- because the Aussies are the most badass set of people that I know. Not scared of anything, really. However— with that said- do you really want to fight those types of people once they are undead and after your brains?

*Locals: 9/10
Oh, Australia. The winter gave me the blues hardcore when I first got there- but the people made up for it ten-fold. Depending on what your crowd is- you could party all night and day with Aussies- and they will love you. You could also just sit around a cuppa and talk until you’re blue in the face- and they will also love you. I lived in Melbourne for a while– and since I love “culture” (theater, music, dance, art, etc) this was heaven on earth for me.

Their craft beer selection is limited- but super tasty. their wine selection is bigger and even more tasty. Music sounds like western music (unless you talk about aboriginal music.)

I should also note that Oz DOES have some of the cutest animals (as well as some of the most deadly) on the planet. I mean– LOOK AT THIS FACE!

With all that said- the continent isn’t nearly as populated as other places (it has roughly the same population of texas) so you don’t have to get rid of a lot of people before having a whole place to yourself.

I’ve been making playlists like crazy lately in prep for my trip to S.E. Asia. One of them is a “top thirty(coughcoughsomething)” list of top songs for the past thirty(coughcoughsomething) years. Not listed on that list (but I added later) was the song “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” By C+C Music Factory. I just wanted to point out that the 90’s was an amazing era of music. Funk music. Synthesizers. Simple melodies. Dance music that everyone knows…. Sigh. I miss the 90’s.



So flash forward to me trying to get to a RENT! performance (I’m the light-board operator). The Melbourne Metro decided it would be a great idea to close down some train lines for “maintenance” and re-route with buses. So, here is a whole train of people crammed onto a bus. It’s pissing rain and everyone is kinda pissed/miserable because of the whole situation/unexpected delays/etc. I’m trying to ward off my anxiety for being late by listening to the WHOLE ALBUM (yes, they had a whole album) of C+C Music Factory. I’m jamming out while all these people behind me are getting irritated at the whole situation.

Apparently I’m full-on dancing. Grooving in the isle of the crowded bus and just getting totally down with what’s blaring in my ipod. Someone taps me on the shoulder and asks “what are you listening to?” and I scream:

“EVERY BODY DANCE NOW! dun…dun.dundundun… dun.. dundundun… dundun.” and continue to groove.


Yes. I’m *THAT* person.


Note: this is the best part about traveling. The amount of people that you meet again after doing something like this is, like, .01%. And if you do meet them again, they become a friend for life.


What was awesome is that the whole mood of the train changed. Everyone started dancing/giggling/laughing instead of being pissy about the situation. Some commented that I should listen to “heaps good music like Akka Dakka” (translation to English: “You should listen to AC/DC because they are better”) but, mostly, the bus was in a better mood for the rest of the trip.


The moral of the story: You should ALWAYS dance like nobody’s watching on crowded buses to amazing 90’s music.

Oh man. What to say about Crossfit Dungeon…. Here is some good advice:

  1. If you are training as an athlete– and you want to be BETTER AT LIFE, go here.
  2. be prepared– it’s hot (and humid!) there.
  3. Sometimes, when traveling, I feel the urge to workout/do something BEFORE going to a box. Just because I feel like I can… You don’t need to do that here. Lay at the lagoon, enjoy the sun, go for a (light) walk in the botanical gardens, swim, eat at the paleo cafe… then show up. No need to run a 15K before the wod like this idiot did.
  4. If you have a plane to catch the next morning and need to be able to use your limbs, you’re going to hate your life. (kidding… kinda.)

I kept going back and forth between “is this place a torture chamber or a pit-o-awesome?” Decided that Dungeon is the perfect name because it’s filled with all sorts of great things that you want out of your crossfit experience: Education on new moves, a highly educated coach, strongman exercises, barbell (weight-lifting) clubs, kid-classes, meal of the day suggestions, sweat angels, Torture in the Tropics competitions….(shall I go on????) The only thing missing is Trevor in a face-mask carrying a whip.

Let me back up–

I showed up during Week 1 of strength training. Trevor started the class by calling out some of the members, asking them questions about how they are feeling/what not (great way to know a little more about your community– especially if you’re new!) and then he asked who attended yesterday’s class. Those who did were on “skills duty” and had a handful of skills (butterfly/kipping, double unders, snatches, etc) to work on while the rest of us (read: me + a few others) got to get our asses (read: hammys) beaten to a pulp BEFORE the wod.


He then showed me how to do a proper “GHD”.

“have you ever done a GHD before?”
“I’ve used the machine…..”
“That’s not what I asked. Have you ever done this (shows me)”
“that looks like a hip-extension”
“try it– do this… now this…”
“holy mother of fuuu……”
“yep. you’re doing it right. now do 10 of those, then do a 60% deadlift. Welcome to Strength Training.”

ok… so I did 3 rounds of that. Confession: I cried a little. (In a good way! Honest!) Then we did the wod (which was, surprisingly, easier by comparison.)
4 rounds:
-3 squat cleans (45kg)
-Run 400 meters (avoid crocs!)

the GHD’s have made it into my “I’m going to do these at least 2-3x a week” routine. THANK YOU TREVOR FOR SHOWING THEM TO ME! ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧

Moving on– The other cool thing about Dungeon is that they do an annual “Torture in the Tropics”¬†competition. Last year they had 120 (local and non-local) athletes compete (including 4 local ladies who had never done crossfit before!) 5 wods, 150 spectators, tents and all sorts of vendors. Needless to say it was a hit and they plan on doing it all the time (this time in a bigger venue!). I want to come back to watch this in 2014!

Another awesome thing about this box (if I haven’t emphised it enough) is that they have heaps of various classes for EVERYONE.

  • Want to compete in a weight-lifting comp? Take part in the Barbell Club.
  • Want your kid to out-run a croc? They have kid classes!
  • Want to try to lift a car? They have strongman wods.
  • Want to be part of an awesome community where everyone cheers you on and your body glistens like a baywatch model? just join the regular classes. ūüėõ

Honestly, this box is heaps of fun, full of useful/amazing education/knowledge, have some of the nicest athletes I’ve had the pleasure of working out with AND it kicked my ass(hammies). Good on ya, mate. It was an absolute pleasure!

After a pretty hellacious day (all rain, just miserable in general) I rode my bike to 8848 which is down the road from my house. I got there, drenched, about 4 minutes before class started, filled out the paperwork and jumped into class.

The box is pretty nicely sized. Divided down the middle by racks/bars, the class was on one side with pvc practicing power snatches. I was greeted by Darren and Clare and the rest of the 8-person class (ranging in all ages) watching us do our skill wod. (Something I always like is when you have a skill wod– something like “every minute on the minute, do 3 power snatches, for 12 minutes” or whatever…. as opposed to “work on ____ lift until 15 minutes go by”.

After surprising myself after the 12 minutes (I always feel more confident when I have to do [math hard] a crap ton of the same movement), we started the wod:

4-rounds of:
-500m row (I didn’t want to run in the stupid rain… It’s cold enough as it is.)
-15 over-head squats
-15 abmat situps.

Afterwards, I felt energized and pumped. It was a great wod for such a crappy weather day. ūüôā


Onto the whole “what makes this box different?” part of our program:
1) They have a “bootcamp” program. A few boxes do this (calling it “crossfit 101”, “crossfit essentials”, or simply “introductory class”. Something where you, the beginner, goes in and learns all the movements at a slower pace (along with a bunch of other n00bs) to make sure you have the movement down before “being thrown in with the dogs” (which ALWAYS leads to injuries!) I’m a huge fan of this, and so are they! Not only do they have a safer box, but this is where people start to build the community aspect of crossfit (which is just as, if not more, important!)

2) The other (awesome) thing about 8848 is they have a “kids program”– where I was working out with people of all ages, but, more¬†notably¬† teenagers! “kids” that are in highschool that are trying to get better at footy/drop-bear-wrestling/(insert random australian sport here). All their WODs are totally scaleable and made for all ages.

Some boxes have the whole “leave your ego at the door” and you need to be reminded of this. Not at this box. It’s more of a “come in, have fun, smash your Wod out*, cheer everyone on!” box. Clare and Darren are smiley, enthusiastic, love what they do and it shows. Definitely one to check out if you’re in the area. ūüôā

*if you aren’t familiar with Aussie-slang, that sounds really dirty.