This week Matt and I had quite the Saturday night.  I didn’t want to write about it until I felt like it was official, but I’ve finally landed a casual job!  My first training shift was on Saturday evening from 5-9.  They called it a trial, but with my previous restaurant experience, I didn’t find it too difficult to keep with the pace of the establishment.

Yes, I found a restaurant job!  I couldn’t believe it when they offered me a trial because I have not heard a peep from any other place where I’ve stopped in or submitted a resume.  People seem a little hesitant to hire anyone without permanent residency or whose visa expires in less than 12 full months.

As it turns out, this Italian place seems to hire nothing but foreigners.  I met people from India, Hungary, Brazil, the Czech Republic, and of course, Italy.  There was even a French girl!  I spoke a little French with her, but it’s my understanding that most people prefer to speak the language of the country they are in.

I spent the night running drinks and busing tables.  When I finished 1/2 hour later than promised, they explained that it was almost never that chaotic.  Besides my aching calf muscles, I really enjoyed the experience.  I need to get used to work on my feet again.  They told me to call today to get the roster of my future shifts.  Hopefully they haven’t forgotten me already, I’m really looking forward to an income!

Poor Matt came on time to pick me up as I hadn’t had a spare second to text him to come later.  I had to use some sort of invented sign language and exaggerated mouthing through the window to indicate to him to go home.  When he actually came to pick me up, we had about 5 minutes to change and get ready for his friend Libby’s party.

So both feeling exhausted, we went back out.  He’d also had an extremely busy shift, and we were both pretty desperate for a shower.  We ended up having a really great time at Libby’s with his work friends.  I really liked everyone a lot, and Libby’s house was pretty cool.  I still hadn’t had dinner at this point, so I was a little giddy all evening, but it fit in well with the atmosphere since the others had been partying for a while before we arrived.

That’s all to report for now.  Today I hope to go for a run and then on a hunt for black jeans.  Turns out “just wear black” meant “you can wear absolutely anything as long as it seems mostly black,” so I’ll be looking for comfy/casual stuff.  Yay!


Sweet Solitude

Matt went back to work about a week ago and since then he’s only had one day off.  Luckily for me, he usually goes in super early and gets home by 2:30.  But those who know me are fully aware that I am not a late-sleeper, so his schedule leaves me with ample time and not a whole lot to do.

Mostly I have been looking for jobs, baking goodies, watching a little TV, and reading up on the various athletic clubs and facilities in the surrounding area.  Winter in Aus for me has meant day after day of wonderful 60-65 degree weather.  I can only imagine how unbearably hot it will be in summer.  So I have been obsessively seeking indoor fitness classes and outdoor lap pools and comparing their prices of admission.

Though I’ve had 7-8 hours sans Matt most days of late, I haven’t exactly been 100% alone.  Usually his brother, Kieran, is around (though he sleeps pretty late) and his mom is almost always home.  I still get plenty of moments to myself of course, but the only time I get to be completely on my own is when I workout.

On Saturday I was so excited to get out for a run that it wasn’t until about 10 minutes in that I realized I’d left the house without music.  My ipod and its armband are ALWAYS with me when I run.  My instincts told me to go back for it, even though I’d already made it to the park.  But nagging curiosity urged me to press on, to see how long I could last without the bad dance and hip-hop hits motivating me and keeping the beat.

I quickly let my mind go blank.  My hot, even breaths seemed to take on a rhythm of their own, though with slight syncopation.  Usually when I run, I breathe or at least mouth the words along with the songs I hear.  My theory is that it forces me to exhale regularly, like counting reps when doing ab exercises.

Along with the breathing, I focused on the sound of my feet hitting the pavement.  It encouraged me on, calling attention to the pace and flow.  Since it was a Saturday, there were people everywhere.  Children playing, footy teams practicing, dogs trotting ahead of their owners…I reveled in my being so alone among so many.

Usually when I run, I am using the activity as a way to de-stress.  I let it strip me of all that nags.  But this experience was even more thorough.  All thought seemed extinguished; my mind was a complete blank.  It was wonderful!

Yesterday I went to Beatty Park to use the 50M lap pool.  It’s outdoors and quite a grand facility.  Stadium seating surrounds 3/4 of the pool.  I felt like I was swimming in a professional arena.  I’m guessing the city initially built it for some major sporting event.  My arms and legs burned almost the entire hour I spent in the water.  The immunity they’d built up during my weekly swims in France was long gone.  I bought a pass for 10 visits, so I know I’ll get it back.

Since Saturday, I haven’t chanced another music-less workout in the park.  I went on Monday and made sure my ipod was fully charged.  I mouthed the words to the songs and let myself dance when no one was looking.  (I get overwhelming urges to jump, twirl and throw my arms in the air when I run. Go ahead, picture it. I’m not embarrassed!) But one of these days, maybe another warm Saturday, I’ll try it again without the tunes.  It’s the only time I can remember my mind being so blank.

For Your Entertainment

Last Tuesday, Matt and I spent the afternoon at the Perth Zoo.  It was a warm winter day, and I didn’t even need a coat! I saw plenty of animals I’ve never seen before and I’m just uploading a few photos for all of you to see!

First are, of course, a few baboons.  They were grooming each other when we happened to pass their lair.

The meerkats above looked very cuddly.  They seemed to be soaking up as much sun as possible.

Elephants are some of my favorite animals. One bigger elephant named Tricia takes walks through the zoo once a day, so I got pretty close to her.  This one stayed caged though.

This elephant was much smaller than Tricia.  We saw her being bathed later on.  They really seem to like that.

While this wasn’t my first kangaroo sighting, I did get even closer to them this time.  They are in an area where they can basically roam free.

This is my first and only wombat.  He was quite cute, and apparently they are very fast. He certainly didn’t look it.

Taz in person looks nothing like Taz the cartoon.  Tasmanian devils are pretty quick and active, so I wasn’t really able to get a good shot of one.  At one point there was also a such thing as a Tasmanian tiger, but those went extinct some time ago.  Matt showed me a photo and they don’t look much like regular tigers.

We did actually see a few tigers up and moving around which we found unusual. Tigers seem to sleep most of the time whenever I’ve been to zoos in the past.  We couldn’t get very good shots of them either, though.  The Perth Zoo has all kinds of information on the animals and their rate of extinction.  It sounds like tigers and rhinos are really in trouble.  We donated some coins to the cause, but I walked out of there feeling frustrated with the poachers of the world.  It’s not natural for these animals to be dying out like they are.  All in all it was a great outing.  I was tempted to buy a membership to use as an excuse to come back more often.

To Fatso, With Love

From time to time, I’d like to comment on relevant (and not-so-relevant) news and happenings here in Australia.  This is something I’ve been dying to share.

Yesterday Matt and I went to the Perth Zoo.  Obviously for me the most fascinating part was the Aussie animal section.  Matt says as a child he would always like to start there because for him and his friends this was generally the more boring part of a zoo visit.  I’ll elaborate on this excursion in another post, I just wanted to point out that I’ve now seen firsthand the terrifying girth and length of a real crocodile.

Crocs have been in the news here lately and we’re all quite shocked to hear why.  In a northern Western Australia town called Broome, a drunken man thought it would be funny to climb into a croc pen and ride it.  Poor Fatso (16ft long, 1,800lbs) retaliated as any sane (or sober) person would expect.  He spun around quickly and took a serious chunk out of the 36-year-old’s leg.

The most amazing part of this story is that the man in question survived!  You can read about it here: to get the details.  My personal insight into the matter is that I was trembling at the sight of one of these nasty fellows while it slept in an enclosed tank.  Attempting to sit on one makes me sick to even contemplate.

Needless to say, no one will be bothering Fatso again.  That kind of lucky break can only happen once…

Cookies & Cream

Last night we had dinner at Little Caesars with Li and Danny (two of Matt’s best friends).  This little pizzeria boasts the best pies in Australia.  Its patrons claim it’s the best pizza in the world.  After last night’s nearly religious experience, I’d have to agree.

Little Caesars is famous for a large variety of toppings and combos, but the menu also includes a decent selection of dessert pizzas.  Danny cleverly chose the Cookies & Cream to share.  We had already stuffed ourselves at this point, but I made certain to leave a little room for dessert.

The Cookie & Cream pizza is by far and away the best thing I have ever had the pleasure of tasting.  With each bite our eyes opened wide with shock and delight.  I cannot remember a time when I have been so pleasantly surprised by food.  Needless to say we’ll be back soon for more.

The rest of the night we kept coming back to the topic of our dessert, comparing it to other life experiences in a half-mocking, half-serious tone.  I didn’t think to take a photo of ours, so I’ve borrowed one from another blog.  Obviously I’m not the only one who is buzzing over this pizza.  I traveled halfway around the world, and even if I hadn’t already been having so much fun, this meal would have made the entire trip worth it.

A Brief Encounter

Last Thursday I had an extremely close encounter of the marsupial kind.

We had lunch with Matt’s grandparents out in the suburbs.  It was a lovely sunny day and the view from where their house is perched was quite beautiful.  But toward the end of the meal I expressed that I had yet to truly feel like I was in Australia.  I mentioned casually that seeing some of the native wildlife might give me more of a sense of where I was.

Grandma Anne (the Irish one) suggested we hit a cemetery on the way home.  At first I was a little confused, but she and Nonna (the Italian one) explained that the Pinnaroo cemetery/nature area was booming with kangaroos all year round.  So the boys and I figured it was worth a shot since the place was already on our way home.

We found the place easily enough (with the help of Kieran’s navigation on Matt’s iphone).  It was a really expansive place and definitely unlike any cemetery I’d ever seen.  Very green, lots of lush vegetation.  Matt and I both reflected that we certainly wouldn’t mind being buried there ;D

After getting somewhat lost in the myriad of paths, we turned a corner and saw a lone little guy eating some grass.  He was so cute and he let me get pretty close to him.  We drove a little further and suddenly we turn a corner to find about 50 kangaroos just hanging out having a snack.

Matt, his brothers and I spread out and walked among them for maybe 10 minutes.  They ignored us for the most part, but occasionally they would look up at us and sometimes hop a little ways away.  I even spotted a few joeys hanging out of their mothers’ pouches.  All in all it was a purely Australian experience.

In So Many Words

Welcome to my new Aussie blog! I’m completely new to WordPress, so I’m still working out the kinks. So far I’ve been having too many internet problems to get this thing going, but once I get everything sorted I’ll try to update this on a fairly regular basis. I’m not sure what readers should expect, but I hope to keep everyone mildly entertained as I conquer the Southern Hemisphere.  I’ll be seeing you chums when all’s in order. ‘Til then ;D