The Hunt

Or: “Hahaha life is pretty annoying sometime.”

Everything was planned out: Upon my arrival in Sydney by Greyhound bus on Monday, 27th January (yes, I spent infamous Australia Day on a bus), I would move into an apartment in Sydney straight away (no more hostel!!), replacing a girl that told me over facebook that she wants to leave the city. What an idiot.

But by now, I’ve learned that my plans don’t tend to come into fruition, so naturally she texts me at 5AM saying „Sorry, me stay, you loser!“ (this is the exact message as far as I can remember) She doesn’t care about my pleas that she actually made me promise several times to show up (we get laughed at a lot for our bureaucracy, but this is why in Germany nothing happens without a contract) and I am looking forward to carrying my 25kg bags down George Street in hopes of finding a hostel quick.

And for once, I’m in luck: The 2nd hostel that I ask has a spare bed, and on top of that free breakfast and wifi.

After a quick shower I can finally go outside and enjoy – there are actual people on the streets!! Cars!! NOISE!! It’s as if I just came out from 25 years behind bars; like coming home. I’m a city girl. Maybe because I look only half as good in a bikini as I do with a cup of cheap coffee in my hand (I just find it makes me look sophisticated).

I am about to initiate the final and most important step of my “grand scheme”: Go to Hyde Park and “coincidentally” run into someone, a someone, the someone I could never forget about ever since I left for the first time and who is 95% the reason why I decided to come back to Sydney (5% is cheap Sushi).

It would be like a movie, I’m most certain: I would show up out of nowhere, he would look over – feeling my presence, not trusting his eyes, then realizing it is really me, breath heavy and as in a trance, walk towards me, passionately kiss me (or alternatively just hug me tightly), but in any case proclaim his love for me and how he almost died every day since I left. He may even shed a tear, but only a tiny one (I am not of the sentimental sort) and we would live happily ever after.

-The End-

I get to Hyde Park. My heart is beating as if I’ve been running a marathon. This is it. The moment I’ve been waiting for. He should be right over there, by the Pool of Reflection. But… I can’t see him. Dammit, I should have worn my glasses. I am short-sighted, and I don’t have the balls to walk up close to the skaters.

Is that him? No, don’t think so. There is someone with long hair.. but he doesn’t wear his so gaily (I mean that in the Tolkien-sense). This one? No, no, NO! This isn’t what I imagined. I am lurking on a bench nearby, with my kindle as alibi. He must show up. I am in such a hopeful mood, for the first time I do my good deed by donating $5 to one of those fund-raising fellow backpackers. “I just earned loads doing a reality TV show” I generously – and not conceited at all – explain.

An hour later – still no someone. I decide to give up for today and instead catch up with some of the people that don’t deserve to call themselves backpackers because these slackers are STILL here! Never even left! Shame on you, you know who you are!

Dan, the Englishman has since decided to live as cheaply as possible by bargain hunting. This includes a free cheeseburger voucher at Maccas at Coogee, which is why we spend every day at the beach. Sometimes, if they fail to redeem your voucher, you can use it even twice a day if you let your hair down. By friday though, I am pretty sure the know exactly who those Cheeseburger scamming ass-clowns are and decide that we’ve had enough Cheeseburgers anyway (for this week, at least).

Every day we are looking for half-price or free deals.

I am proudly teaching Frenchy how to play the intro of Smoke on the Water by referring to the different cords by numbers (I don’t know any better myself, to be honest. But this tactic works to even teach myself Sur le pont D’Avignon, which makes Frenchy very happy).

I am trying to take in as much of the city as I possibly can. I truly fell for it. It makes me feel like a star, I am thinking, as I am taking a stroll through Hyde Park. “Hey, Congratulations!” A voice wakes me out of my daydreams. “Congratulations!” A guy stops me, and I look at him confused. “I just wanted to congratulate you on your great Tennis match! Aren’t you the tennis player?” To this day I am still kicking myself that I didn’t say yes and let him take a picture of me.

Every day I am checking Hyde Park for my someone. Without success.

Other than my apartment hunt – I have found a place in Ultimo that I am sharing with about 7 or 8 others. That’s just a guess, I am not actually sure. I don’t go upstairs to say hello. The first couple of days I am too busy, and then it’s just weird.

On Saturday, after being back in my lovely home away from home for almost a week, I am hanging with Dan again. He agreed to sit in Hyde Park, eventhough my constant obsessing about someone (for easier understanding, let’s call him Gustav for the remainder of this story) makes him want to kill me, and so, her soon finds an excuse to leave me. After 15 more minutes, I am also highly demotivated. It’s no use. Gustav’s moved away, he’s gotten married and moved away, he died and his body was moved away. Something like that happened.

Before I met Gustav I came to Hyde Park almost every day just to hang out and read. It was my thing, and I loved it. And since I don’t want to go back to my weird apartment, I decide to do just that – enjoy the part in the late afternoon sun and finish The Hobbit.

After getting a $1 cup of coffee at 7/11 (Thomas would hate me) I am walking through the park to find a nice spot to sit. But, what’s that..?

Turns out – I didn’t need glasses after all. I can spot Gustav from a mile away. His hair, his posture, his style, too unique to miss. When I had just given up.

But now that he’s here, I am petrified. My vision? A lot simpler in theory. I slowly walk forward, hoping that he’ll turn around and do the work for me. He’s right there. But he doesn’t turn. Not until I am so close that it is inevitable for all his entourage to notice me.

And then he does. He looks up. At me. Waves. I smile (I think. I might have been too nervous to look anything but constipated). He waves again. And a third time. More like shooing away a fly. Then he goes back about his business.

Did it just start to rain or is that just me feeling like a wet poodle?

Like an idiot I keep staring at him, them. Clueless about how to handle the situation. The declarations of love should come any minute now…? Then all of his buddies are staring at me, just standing there watching. Great. I text him to come over to end this misery but he doesn’t. So I sit down on the nearest bench and pretend to wait for a friend. How does one do that, you ask? Well, you sit on a bench, tap your foot and keep impatiently staring into the same direction. I am sure he got it.

After another 10 minutes (yes, I’ve been doing this for almost half an hour now), I hear a skateboard to my left. But I don’t look up until Gustav speaks to me.

“I didn’t know it was you, I thought some crazy lady is stalking me. I have so many stalkers.” Hm! “So you’re back, huh? Where is it that you were again? Melbourne?” Playing utterly uninterested.

“Gold Coast”, I say. “Came back on Monday, when I texted you.” – “And woke me up.” Uh, ok. “So, what are you doing tonight, getting drunk?”, says he while sipping on his beer wrapped in a brown paper bag. “Why did you delete me from facebook?”, I wanna know. – “Because I don’t want people to be intrusive of my life”, he says. Where is all this hostility coming from?!

He asks me what I am doing tonight. I take that as a sign, and say we could hang out together. He starts to laugh. “Well, maybe I’ll call you later.”

For now, he’s going back to skate, as that’s ‘what he does’, and I get up to pick up my friend (who surprisingly still hasn’t shown up).

That night, I wait for his call. And wait, and wait, and wait. It’s coming…. is it? I got to bed not knowing what to think. The call didn’t come. Not the next day, either. To my texts, I get no reply. I play back in my mind every single word that has been spoken between us to figure out why.

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Your body is strong, but your mind is weak (old Japanese proverb)

On Thursday, I am standing at the side of the road to give out free gym passes. It pays 30 bucks and I figure, that’s good enough. As I stand so being constantly rejected by people (what’s the deal, I am giving something away!), I imagine what it would be like if he were to walk past. I would ask him if he wants a free gym pass. He’d think I am soo funny that there is no other way but to hug and kiss me.

As the two hours are almost up, I look up. Crossing the road right in front of me is Gustav. It takes me a minute to figure out that this is actually happening. This time, he doesn’t pretend not to recognize me. Instead, he looks and walks straight at me. I straighten my back, completely taken once again. He’s mocking me for standing on the street in a gym T-shirt. “Doing something you love, eh?” I should have asked why he constantly ignores my texts and calls. But my blank mind just asks where he’s going. Busy, busy, busy, trying to get away from me as fast as possible again. He keeps walking, and I breath out for a second, looking back over just in time to catch him looking back at me. Gone he is once again. I am not any smarter for it. No idea what happened. Last time I was in Sydney, we were sooo good. That’s what I thought. The guy actually went looking for me in the city – in the rain – until he found me.

I just stand there. I want him so bad, it’s driving me crazy. Why doesn’t he want to talk to me? If I just knew THAT… Longingly, I look up the way he left, just to see him walk back down again. As he draws near, he grins at me, and flexes his biceps mockingly. “I am done in a few minutes”, I explain desperately, hoping he’ll take the hint. But he says he’s going home. And walks. Without looking back. I am still staring in his direction when he is long gone.

That night, my flatmates drag me to Ivy, and at the moment thinking it’s probably a good idea to distract myself and have a few drinks (when is it ever?), I agree to goon-pong.

At the club, I am hating it. The shoes are pinching my feet, the music is too loud and I am super annoyed with the lines at the bathrooms. In that state, I somehow think it’s a terrific idea to text Gustav and ask if he wants to eat Cheeseburgers with me. Like the good ol’ days, ya know? I say goodbye to my flatmates and start walking in good spirit. There’s no way he won’t reply after running into me again today, and even crossing the street to talk to me. I am convinced by the time I reach Maccas, he will have agreed to meet me there…

When I get there, I am buying a large Cheeseburger meal by myself. I walk home alone and eat my meal on the balcony. I smoke three cigarettes, wash off the make-up, put on my pajamas. As I lie there staring at the ceiling, I feel I have nothing left to lose. I put all my thoughts and feelings into one last heartfelt message, that turns out to be so long that my phone turns it into an MMS. It’s about how I feel like a crazy person for liking someone so much that I have met so briefly. But about how special he made me feel during that short period of time. How someone for the first time entirely understood me. How I don’t know how to fix what I did wrong, because I don’t really understand what I did wrong, and how I wish we could just spend time and feed his dog Carlos (name changed) with fries and lettuce again. It turns out so emotional, that to this day I am too embarrassed to read it again (there are a lot of things I can’t say out loud, but give me pen and paper and I will turn it into a Danielle Steel novelle).

The next day, I decide to leave Sydney for a second time.

In the jungle

Or: I am actually not supposed to talk about this, but..

The Gold Coast tires me. Sue me! I can’t stand beaches! I find them extremely tiresome. And all the hippies that they attract. Seriously, I don’t know why anyone would want to come to Southport especially (sorry Southport-ians), and Surfers Paradise might as well be called STDs Paradise. It’s all about nakedness, it feels dodgy and lacks sophistication. The shops open late and close early so everyone can bust a surf out, because that’s the only thing to do here. Everyone wears flip flops and bikinis all day, and the heat makes me too lethargic to do anything. Yes, I hate the Gold Coast!! – there, that’s my rant for today.

By now, I am also extremely annoyed by my flatmates, who don’t seem to understand that my “room” doesn’t have a door and it might bother me when someone puts their music on blast in the middle of the night. I am weird like that. Sleeping at night and being awake during the day and all.

The once smokin Brazilian is now just annoying me with his hippy-ness (no, I don’t really think your plastic Buddha candleholder makes for an ace decoration) and his weird “morning sickness” – he wakes up with a cold every day smelling like a dying dog – is making me sick to my stomach.

I have started to hide my toilet paper from my roomate, who I am sharing a bathroom with, because he never buys any himself. Also, because every damn night he wakes me up with his snoring and abnormally loud farting. And I’m pretty sure he’s been using my butter, too. I have never used it to butter bread, so where the hell are all the bread crumbs in there come from, huh? HUH??

But I keep all this to myself and silently plan their murders.. uh, I mean, silently count the days until I can leave this hellhole.

The only reason why I am still here at this point is because I am waiting to hear back from a German reality TV show that I have auditioned for and that is being filmed close to Southport. Now don’t get too excited, I won’t be on TV – I and 10 other lucky bastards would just be stand-ins mainly to test camera angles right before the actual show starts.

What made them choose me, I will never know, because as a person I am pretty boring, but on New Year’s Eve I get the call that I made it. I am gonna be part of a once on a lifetime experience.

The show is called “Ich bin ein Star, holt mich hier raus!” (I’m a celebrity, get me out of here) and is pretty popular in Germany and England, especially. If you know it, well then you know what’s about to come. If not, this is the show: 11 more or less “celebrities” move into the jungle not far from the Gold Coast (I signed a contract that I am not to reveal the exact location). There, they have to live for two weeks (three in England) and do all kind of disgusting trials (we’re talking cockroaches, spiders and snakes here. Some of which you have to eat – alive) to earn their food. Daily provided is only a small portion of rice and soy beans (70g each per person). Other activities are treasure hunts to earn extra goodies and lots of fireside talks about their lives and problems. You’re in the middle of the jungle, there really isn’t much to do. Technology isn’t allowed, besides the cameras that film you 24 hours a day.

On our first day, we have a wardrobe fitting. Everyone gets their own set of jungle clothing, complete with your own name on everything, which I thoroughly enjoy (I love my name. Good job, mother). We have several briefings with the producers and the infamous Dr. Bob before the TV people pay for our dinner. Everyone gets their own hotel room before we’re going to the jungle early the next morning. I finally for the first time in a long time I don’t have to smell any farts but my own. TV life is good.

I get up at quarter to 5 the next morning and enjoy the last shower I am gonna have in the next three days. All clad in our jungle outfits, we’re being driven as close to the location as possible, in a completely shaded van, to keep the appearance up that all of this is somehow top secret. We have to hike through the jungle to find our campsite (as it will turn out three days later, the TV people are punking us and making us walk in a circle around the camp to make it seem further in the jungle than it actually is). A 10 minute walk turns into 45 minutes because we stop every few meters to give interviews. The producers are highly interested in the sweat that is running down the middle of our boobs.

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I am definitely no egomaniac.

Finally reaching the camp, we start exploring. We’re not allowed to leave the campsite at all for the production of our little pre-show (which we never got to see), but they have set up a pool (a tiny lake), a shower (a waterfall) and a toilet (an outhouse), which is protected by potato sacks.

Just when I am crouching down to check out the first aid kid, not suspecting any evil, “God’s” voice sounds for the first time. “Silvana!” it says. I start. “Please come to the Junglephone.” Great. I have to do a trial. I know it. My campmates look at me with pitty in their eyes as I walk towards my fate. Turns out, they just call me in for an interview, to ask all kinds of weird questions about the smell of the jungle and stuff. Phew. Dodged a bullet there.

Not half an hour later, as I am feeling save again, I get called in a second time. I rejoiced too soon. Of course my gut feeling was right and I am the first person to go to a trial.

What it is? I may get in trouble if I talk too much, but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. It was smelly, and wet, and involved loads of creepy crawlies (if you have watched the German show, it was the very first trial the celebs had to take). But I mastered it as well as I could, and not even refused to eat a fermented egg – protein, bitches. I got my team 8 out of 11 stars that day. Which meant crocodile feet for dinner. And even though people think I am disgusting, I am proud of my accomplishment.

If you aren’t doing a trial, or a treasure hunt, the jungle is almost as boring as Southport. It’s a lot of hanging around in terrible humidity, and you would never believe how adamant 11 people can argue about the preparation of rice and beans. Sometimes, if you’re really quiet (quite a lot), you can hear the cameramen in the artificial rocks around us talking, sneezing, and even listening to music.

Our past time activities include coal face-painting and twister made out of differently colored leaves. Because life in the jungle is so boring, the TV people try to stir up trouble. I become the pubes-bitch. I made the mistake of shaving off some hairs on my legs pretty close to my crotch (I was definitely not spreading my legs in front of a camera and shaving my 5cm long pubes, mind you, as the made it sound like). But the damage is done, and from now on people keep complaining about having to swim in the pubic hair pool.

Then, one night, we face the dangers of the jungle. Many people believe it’s just a TV set – which it is, but a TV set in the freaking jungle. Funnel-web spiders! If you don’t know, they are so venomous that they can actually kill you. But according to Dr. Bob, they can’t climb (what kind of spider are you..) so I am feeling save in my hammock and let the security guys take care of them. But, when they don’t find one of the two, they just shrug and go to bed. Well, we’re nobodies, after all. No one is gonna miss us.

On the morning of the fourth day, “God” wakes us up to let us know we’re to leave the camp soon. I feel relieved. As much as I wanted to come here, as much I am now happy that the experience is over. It was good, I met a lot of great people, I got to take a look behind the scenes (and in the future will watch the show with completely different eyes) and did things I never thought I’d do. But enough is enough. I am craving a real shower, and most of all sugar. I have a new-found respect for the people who manage to live here for two weeks. Where I used to laugh at their foolishness, I now admire their strength. The jungle can and will drive you insane. So, have a heart for the poor souls just trying to make a quick buck.

The upside is, we get to have breakfast from a huge buffet with the crew and the actual show hosts. Once again people compliment me on my eating skills (I knew I had some kind of talent as well).

The jungle has brought many new opportunities. Everything is planned out: I and one of the girls I befriended there would go on a short road trip, followed by a cheap trip to Fraser Island, organized by another dude that was in the jungle with us, before I would finally get back on a bus and do what I’ve been looking forward to for 2 months: Go back to Sydney! On top of that, I have already secured an apartment in Sydney, because this time I am planning to stay. I intend to keep my promise I have made to someone.. but more on that next time, kids.

It would be perfect. Or so I thought. But if everything sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It most likely is. It definitely is.

After pretty much telling my flatmates to go fuck themselves, I’m out biatches!, the girl leaves me hanging for a couple guys. The dude explains that he has to work and Fraser is falling through as well. I am left stranded.

But for every fucktard I know, I have a person in my life that I can truly and genuinely call a friend. So David, who I’ve known over the internet for quite a while (Tomb Raider can bring people together) and who happens to live only a stone-throw away, offers me the luxury of staying at his air-conditioned house playing video games until my bus leaves 5 days later (thanks for everything, mate).

And so endeth the lesson: Never trust so-called backpackers, and never come to the Gold Coast again!

One night in Brisbane

Or: Party all day (fuck all night)

 

 

It started as a very regular and boring friday. Southport is very slow. Laid-back. There really isn’t much to do but hang out in the sun by the pool – yes, all buildings come with a pool, and it isn’t any sort of luxury here. It’s pretty essential for survival. The sun comes up so early in the mornings, that at 7 AM it already feels like midday.

I was hanging out at the library to get some free wifi, when I decided, I should go for a run later and get rid of some of this burger grease that has planted itself on my hips (I have never in my whole life eaten as much junk food as during my 5 weeks in Sydney).

But in Australia, it’s pretty pointless to plan anything. You never know where you’ll be in a month, a week, or even an hour from now. As I go to the hostel to pick up my running buddy, I run into Leigh instead – that’s that guy who remembers people by the kind of drugs he did with them. Like, the kid from Terminator 2 is the guy he did coke with. He’s covered in tattoos, and the first guy to at least intended to get my initials on his body, in theory. In practice, when he had his tattoo done, that was supposed to show all the cool people he had met at the hostel we both were staying at, mine was the only one he forgot (and people call me paranoid).

He tells me about his plans of going to Brisbane that night, to see some rock’n’roll bands, and if I’m down. How much it would cost, I wanna know. „Nothing“, he says and grins.

Well, I’m down for a very inappropriate adventure, as it’s surely gonna be with Leigh. Shit, I’m in Australia, I wanna have some crazy stories to tell as well when I get home! So here it goes.

 

While Leigh distracts the bus driver, I just get on without paying. Check one. At the trainstation in Helensvale, we don’t buy tickets. We are meeting two guys, Skip and Shawn, that he had met the night before and were totally down for seeing a free concert as well.

Because I am a bringer of bad luck, there is security on the train. Before they get to ask us to present our tickets, Leigh urges me to get up and walks me to the bathroom in the back of the train. „Act as if you’re sick“, he whispers. I lock myself in the bathroom, sweating. Oh god, I am too innocent for this! Maybe I can flush myself down the drain… A short while after, he knocks on the door and tells me to come out, the coast is clear. When I get out, he explains to me that I am his pregnant wife and have a terrible case of morning sickness. Instead of giving us a fine, the security lady offers me a breath mint, which I gladly take. The rest of the train ride they keep eyeing us and I have to pretend to be sick to my stomach (which I did very well, according to various sources). Right before we get off at our stop in Brisbane, the lady kindly yells at Leigh that I am gonna die tonight if he makes me do drugs. Check two. Gotta love Australian hospitality. Or should I feel offended that she actually believed that I was pregnant..?

 

Brisbane feels extremely nice. Of course it’s dark, and I can’t see much, but it feels good. Warm. Exotic. There is excitement in the air. We walk to the location of the concert and try to find the weak spot in the fence. And it doesn’t take us long to find it. „I’m going first“, I say, feeling confident, and ripping my shirt in the process – which isn’t nearly as sexy as it sounds. Leigh follows me. As we get to the other side, we are trying to help Skip and Shawn to climb the fence next. And then it happens. A flashlight, a yell. „What are you doing?!“ Caught by security. Shawn and Skip have bolted, and me and Leigh are trying to make a run for it inside. But I don’t react fast enough, and she gets a hold of my arm. The security lady vigorously pulls on my left arm, while Leigh is pulling my right arm, and I don’t know whether to cry because we apparently got busted, or to laugh because the situation is totally absurd. „Let go of her!“ Leigh screams, „she’s pregnant!!“ (at this point, I don’t even know anymore how many women in Brisbane now think that my rockstar husband feeds his pregnant wife drugs). The security lady lets go, and flashes her flashlight in some kind of morse code to get back-up. Leigh and I stand still as to not make the situation any worse. A guy in uniform shows up, and asks the business. „Sorry man, we just tried to let our friends in, they don’t have tickets, really sorry, won’t happen again!“ If it’s because he’s Australian, or just doesn’t want any trouble, he nods and says „just keep walking“. How he ever believed that story without asking to see our tickets or failing to notice that neither I nor Leigh are wearing one of the bri ghtyellow wristbands that you got at the entrance, I will never know. Maybe he simply thought „These guys look too poor, they deserve to listen to some good heavy metal music.“ Either way, we’re in. Check three.

 

It’s like an open air festival. People are smoking, drinking and making out. We missed the first two bands, but made it just in time to see the main act: Steel Panther. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of them. The best thing about them are their funny costumes. But I am acting as if a life dream of mine came true, just to fit in.

„You wanna see the stage?“ Leigh yells at me over the music. „Sure!“ I nod, not thinking ahead. Without warning, he bends down to pick me up, and literally throws me onto the crowd.

I am fucking crowd-surfing. At this moment I am completely psyched. I can’t even recall anymore if anyone did or at least tried to grab my shit. If they did, I was too high on life to notice.

 

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A happy peeface.

 

After the concert, Leigh suggests we find the after party. „I know a dude who knows the band, we’ll get to party with the band!“ Sounds legit.

Seems like everyone who was just at the concert is now on the way to the after party, and we don’t stay alone for long. A guy is sharing his Rum and Coke (mixed in a Coke bottle) with us, and just when I hand it over to Leigh, we have apparently arrived at the location. „You’re not getting in“, says the bald bouncer, pointing at the bottle in Leigh’s hand. „What? That’s just Coke! I was thirsty!“ explains Leigh, but Baldy takes the bottle out of his hand and smells it. „Nice try. Now get lost.“

Leigh is pissed. I somehow feel that it is my fault for naively handing him the bottle and not thinking. This isn’t Germany where we even have a word for drinking alcohol in the morning (Frühschoppe). This is Australia, where alcohol laws are only rivaled by the United States of America. „It’s fine“, he says, albeit very annoyed. „We’ll find the back entrance.“

And walking around the block proves once again that you don’t need a plan to get by in Australia. There isn’t a single security at the back entrance. We simply walk in. Happily that we outwitted security once again, we buy drinks. And as Leigh turns around, Baldy is standing right in front of him. „Didn’t I tell you to get lost?!“ He escorts him out, and I try to hide in a dark corner.

„Come on Silvana, think on your feet, you can do this, you can do this!!“, I am cheering myself on. But I really don’t know what it is that I can or should do, and so I just keep standing in my dark corner waiting for a sign from Leigh. Baldy comes back up the stairs and walks straight towards me. I turn around, thinking there is no way he recognizes me. But I underestimated him, and when he taps me on the shoulder I just throw up my arms and shout „All right, all right!“ and walk outside, where Leigh is already waiting for me. „Let’s find another pub and figure out what to do“, he says. So that’s what we do.

 

„Let’s get some free drinks“, is his suggestion at the next bar. I don’t understand how, though, the drinks are free for me, when he tells me to buy the first round. „It’s simple“, he says as we carry our red wines to an empty table that has some half full glasses standing on it. „Put your glass right next to the one that was already standing there.. and then down them both.“ Disgusting? Well, I like to think of it as „rock’n’roll“. Soon some guys are starting a conversation with us, and Leigh has a blast pretending to be a guitarist from Hollywood and mispronouncing Melbourne (‘Mel-born’), even though that’s where he’s originally from. The guys think he’s such a hot-shot, they keep buying us authentic Australian drinks thinking they are introducing to us a whole new culture.

By the time we go outside for a smoke, I am already pretty tipsy. Don’t know how it works, but Leigh has already started talking to another guy who is offering free cigarettes. Together, we crawl to the next pub down the street for even more drinks.

 

And that’s where it happens. Leigh is just gone. He’s left me. I am all alone in Brisbane with no cell phone battery or rationality left. I walk through the pub about 5 times, but there is no sign of him. The last dude offers me his couch, but I don’t feel comfortable going home with someone I just met. So I just walk off. When in distress, I’ve learned your best bet is to make for the trainstation.

I have actually no idea where I am walking, but something tells me which direction to walk in (possibly I saw a sign in my drunken blur).

Man, I am completely out of it. I have no idea if I make myself be that way, or if someone has spiked one of my drinks, or what the hell is going on. I feel like Alice in Wonderland.

As I am wandering around Brisbane and thinking, I actually like this city!, I come to stop at a traffic light. As I have lost all sense of direction (I am now just following the greasy smell of McDonald’s) the impossible happens – there come walking Skip and Shawn. They are on their way to the trainstation as well, assuring me that I am not completely useless after all.

„You up for Maccas?“ they wanna know. I just nod. Skip’s got it, they say. I am not arguing. But instead of ordering my one Chicken Burger Meal, Skip orders three. And three Cheeseburger Meals, three Big Mac Meals, and two servings of Chicken Nuggets. I mean, a huge plate of food makes me happy, but hadn’t I just decided on losing some weight? Well, don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow, as the English say. They are pretty impressed with my eating skills, which took years of practice. I do finish my three meals, and some chicken nuggets, and before I can eat even more, they give the rest to some homeless guy roaming the trainstation.

 

Skip and Shawn give me a ride home to Southport not so early in the morning, where I fall into bed without noticing the questions in the eyes of my flatmates. I don’t hear from Leigh until two days later, when he texts me and asks if I am ok.

Wet’n’..sleepy

Or: This building was constructed so that you could jump off it in the pool from various spots with increasing difficulty

 

 

The flight from Sydney to the Gold Coast was so short, I don’t think I’ve realized yet that I am almost 1000 km away. As soon as the plane was up in the air, the pilot announced that he was about to begin the descend.

I had no idea what to expect when coming here. We arrived in the evening – it wasn’t even that late – but all the shops were closed and the streets deserted. Way to make an impression, Queensland! It was like one of those low-budget zombie movies. Only that the zombies wore shorts.

 

Ok, the Gold Coast is slooooooow. It is like one huge retirement home. Like Florida. Hanging out by the pool all day doing nothing gets actually quite exhausting; maybe that’s why everybody sleeps so much.

When people here talk about full-time jobs, they mean 9 – 14. If you haven’t done your shopping by 5 PM, there is a good chance you’re gonna go hungry. And finally, the library, where people just hang out and read, is something like the busiest spot, as far as you can call it ‘busy’.

 

 

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And with this here key, I shall breach the gates of wisdom and power, for no longer I have to remain in uneducated darkness

 

I’ve made it my new home. That’s where I come to hang out pretty much every day (until it closes at 5PM). At first it was for the free wifi. Then it was for my writing job, for which I need the internet for (doing research makes me feel all fancy-schmancy. I’m their little writer bunny and loving it). But then, I finally got a library card (completely free of charge) and made it my mission to educate myself on all those damn mangas that they have in here. So far, I have managed some Sailor Moon and one Warcraft (Cobbler, stick to your last!)

 

 

Everyone has a pool here. This isn’t luxury, it’s standard. And it’s highly needed, since it does not cool down at all. Even at night it’s still 30 degrees. Wait, night? Which night? The sun comes up around 4 AM. Or something like that. Anyway, by the time I wake up (usually around 7, because after that it’s impossible to sleep) it feels like it’s midday. The sun is a harsh, merciless son of a bitch.

Coming from Germany, where we get like 5 minutes of summer each year between July and Ausgust, this truly sounded like paradise. No thick winter coats, no yellow snow, no running nose. But there is a point when the heat just gets too much, unbearable. I have reached that point when I am trying to scratch my ass just to find a dark-grey mixture of old sweat and dead skin cells underneath my fingernails. Yes, Gold-Coastians have a pretty tough life.

If I thought Sydney was bad with sunburns, then I had no idea what I was getting myself into here. One hour of sunbathing in the afternoon has made my skin practically burn off. Hard tan reset – have to start over!

 

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Can you correctly guess which part of my body that is? That’s right – all over!

 

 

The Gold Coast is mainly only fun if you’re a surfer or know how to operate any other kind of crazy board. Nah, I am not hating. And if I wanted to hate something, it would be the one-layered, way too thin toilet-paper. But otherwise, there is nothing much to do around here.

Southport is small (apparently not so small, but that’s what it feels like to me). It feels like a real community. After being in the hostel for just one week, and quickly finding an apartment to move into, we still keep going back to hang out there. Most people who have ever stayed there do. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s one of those fantasy soul sucking dark magic spells. Maybe that’s why everyone here is getting too lethargic to move their asses… Maybe I am on to something here.

 

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5:30 in the morning

 

 

My“ room in my new apartment, that I am sharing with one other guy, doesn’t even have a door. But, that’s Australia, right? Gotta compromise. The people here are awesome, though. It’s probably the weather. No one really cares. High on sunlight.

My flatmates are Filipino, Portuguese and Brazilian. All guys. Which gets increasingly interesting when the wind has once again blown my panties from where I had hung them up on the balcony to dry onto the roof below, and the Brazilian guy has the glorious idea to vacuum them back up (I trusted him, he’s an engineer..) And he hands them back to me with a charming smirk.. could this situation get any more awkward if I asked you to marry me right here, right now.. oh the long-haired, dark-eyed adonis..

 

Where was I? (I hope he isn’t reading this)

 

I’ve met a rockstar. Or the closest thing to it. The type of guy that remembers people by what kind of drugs he did with them.

See“, he says, handing me his phone with his facebook profile open, „here’s Eddie“. I die a little inside. He calls Edward Furlong ‘Eddie’. The kid that I am still jealous of to this day because he got to play what must surely be the second-coolest part in action movie history to this day.

See how blurry his hand is there next to my lap? That’s because he’s jerking me off“, he goes on casually, as if telling me about Coles’ special deal on $1 extra soft loaf of white bread.

I suppose that’s rock’n’roll lifestyle. These people don’t have a light chicken breast roquette salad for dinner because they’re watching their carbs, no, they have three bottles of cheap merlot by the pool. And that’s only the entree.

Here isn’t where I wanna be

 Or: I should start sleeping with pen and paper next to me because I had a really good title for this in mind right before I drifted off to dreamland.

 

This one is me doing what i do best – whine about my first world problem: depression.

I’ve been dealing with it since I was 13 when I first had a major episode that I consciously remember. For no explicable reason at all, I just started to never leave the house unless I had to and kept blowing all my friends off until they didn’t speak to me anymore. I suppose it’s genetic? Not entirely sure how trustworthy Bill Bryson is, but just the other day I’ve read in one of his books (granted, that came out in the late ’90s) that a „worrying-gene“ actually exists. Meaning, some people can’t help but constantly worry about everything, while others just naturally go with the flow (gosh, I do hate this saying. After all, I am not a surfer high on marijuana, just a neurotic German lady. Kawabonga, dude).

I figured, I could learn to be happy here in Australia. Everyone else who has already been here loved it so much. That coming out here and handling this thing all by myself, it would boost my confidence, putting myself out of my comfort zone like that. Or that I’d be at least too busy to get depressed. But here I am, can’t shake that feeling. This time even worse, because it’s not just the usual „something is missing“, but the very essential „Oh lord, how am I gonna come into money and provide for myself?!“

 

Many fictional characters have names for their mental illnesses and diseases – Dexter’s ‘Dark Passenger’, anyone?

It’s not so absurd! I have a name for my depression as well: It is – lo and behold – „The Blob“ …… Aaaaahh!! Hide your children, hide your wife!!!

It doesn’t sound very impressive or dangerous, and it’s not like one day I sat down and decided that the poor thing needed naming; that was just always how it felt inside of me, squirming around. Basically, the Blob lives in my stomach and eats me up from the inside like a parasite. Unfortunately, it doesn’t eat fat. It feeds on negative emotions only. As soon as the tiniest negative thought crosses my mind (‘Hm, I think I gained about 50g?’) it jumps on that, has sex with it and multiplies thousandfold until there are thousands of related negative thoughts in my head and little blobs in my stomach. Yeah, that was a bit gross.

 

I suppose I have a tendency of running away whenever the Blob gets too active. It’s the whole reason why I came to Australia! I felt like I had to cross half-way around the world just to outrun that disgusting oozeling in my stomach (I should actually try to draw it one day) (Never mind, it would just end up a white bean with a squiggly line for a mouth). This is rather pointless, though, since it’s moving with me. „Where I am, there I am“, + Blob. I always needed to go through the same lesson many times before I learned it. I actually don’t think I’ve ever learned anything.

And it gets even more ridiculous when I tell you that I have figured out it’s not the location that causes the Blob to be active, it’s the people that matter. Yes, I am very codependent. My rational side, that I am trying to surpress more often than not, has realized that.

My emotional side, however, tends to act much too impulsive. Essential for my mental well-being is the company (did anyone really think this was easy? Ha.)

 

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The Blob

 

The Blob is a thing that is so frustrating because it holds me back. It’s the voice in my head (or, in my stomach) saying „You can’t do this! You suck! Nobody likes you!“ You know, like repeatedly poking a sleeping dragon (haven’t we all done this before?) until he snaps and lashes out at everyone in his range, regardless of them holding a stick or not. This is one of the many reasons why I hate facebook – at least since Marc Zuckerberg thought it was such a splendid idea to show if your message sent has been read by the receiver. Everytime I send a message that goes without a reply, the Blob is raging! „They hate you! They’re ignoring you! They wish you were dead!“ … Okay, maybe not that extreme.

I should take this opportunity to apologize to everyone I have snapped at in the past for something that wasn’t your fault (pretty much everyone I know, I suppose) but rather the monster’s inside of me. I sincerely hope this makes sense and is understandable. I don’t wanna confuse anyone. I promise, I am just as confused as you.

 

I do remember to a T the last time I felt truly happy, no Blob, no negativity, just comfortable happiness, no worries whatsoever. This situation occured not too long ago, and it was one that I hesitated to put myself into at first. It was one of those times when you actually live in the moment, past and future do not exist, there is music playing, albeit not hearable, just feelable, and a magnetic feel that guides your body to exactly where you should be. I am trying my best to put it into words and hoping at the same time not to sound completely and utterly insane. It’s like a Disney movie come to  life. Which leads me to believe, the people at Disney must be an extremely happy bunch (but I know better).

But the Blob fucked it up royaly for me (it’s nice to have something to put the blame on, that’s how religious people must feel) and is now inside of my stomach, with an evil grin and rubbing his hands together. Actually, he doesn’t have hands, but you get what I mean. Since that happened, he won’t go away anymore at all. Sometimes, when I drink alcohol, he hides, because that’s sort of like his kryptonite. I suppose I now understand how alcoholics come to be.

I just want that situation, the feeling back. And I’ve been wrecking my brains on how to get there. I have figured out the key components, but they are hard to come by. It truly is an epic quest, and sometimes, you just have to sit back and breath in, breath out, until your head is as clear as possible again (for some more, for some less clear). This is what I am doing right now, well, while worrying about how I am gonna pay rent next week. So less for me. But there only is one ultimate goal for me, and I’m gonna be working towards that until the end of my days. They’re my shoes.

I’ll be back

Or: It’s not a tumor! GET TO DA CHOPPAAAA! You’re a funny guy Sully,  I like you, that’s why I’m going to kill you last.

 

I spent a total of 5 weeks exactly in Sydney. Two of those, I was miserable and constantly questioning my decision to become a world-traveled adventurer (the idea was that I’d find a fedora and/or dual pistols along the way and stumble upon hidden ancient treasure). But three of those, I met some great people, had way too much to drink and got sunburned one too many times (hello skin cancer). I did wanna leave Sydney, and I didn’t, but most of all I had to, for the simple reason that most backpackers AND non-backpackers venture out to Sydney for New Years for seeing the supposedly amazing fireworks from Harbour Bridge, celebrate in the „first major city to begin the new year“, and the hostels taking massive advantage of it. Raggedy rooms that used to cost 20 bucks a night are now up to 60. That’s IF you can still find a bed, anyway. So, if I have any advice for future working holiday makers, plan that time of the year well in advance. But don’t plan anything else. Things will always end up differently than what you thought.

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Sydney’s equivalent to pigeons.

 

In Germany, I used to sleep the days away. Nothing to do, no one to see. It feels like since coming to Australia, I have slept a total of 20 hours all together. You wake up early, do some crazy shit like hiking in the Blue Mountains all day – and the ‘all day’ part isn’t even done purposely because, well, you walk down some very steep 900 steps and at some point decide that there has to be another way back up so you’re wandering through the forest at the bottom of the mountains, hoping for an elevator to appear in the mists (in hindsight, one of the most awesome experiences ever) – just to get back to the hostel where someone is always waiting with a box of goon, ready to party like it’s ’99. And that’s on a tuesday. Backpackers have the amazing ability to drink all night and still be at work in suit and tie at 8 AM. Might have something to do with the whole ozon thing.

 

Yes, after those two first weeks that I felt horrible, it finally all began to make sense. The cheap wine. The massive bats and cockroaches. The weird jobs that you do. I thought people actually wearing signs was a myth invented by Hollywood movies, like 555 phone numbers. Not only did I get to wear a big sign, but also a glittery blue cowboy hat, which was very popular especially with little Asian girls and skaters.

 

This is Down Under! Even the locks on public restrooms turn the other way! Crazy Australia is all over the place! Like, when you’re sitting in Hyde Park and feel like you’re in an 80s movie because, apparently skateboarding is kool again. That’s kool with a k, yo. Gettin’ jiggy with it. He was a skaterboy….. hmm, song has been stuck in my head for days. Wait, no! I don’t want your Schnitzel! It’s not genuine!! .. Sorry about that, got a little carried away there. Phew.

 

ImageI bin a bayrisch Cowgirl.

 

 

In Sydney, I learned about coffee culture. All thanks to the Slovakian legend Thomas, who cringed when I told him about my daily $1 Latte at Hungry Jack’s. I reckoned it was good value. He took me to his café Coco Noir inside fancy Westfield Mall where he was assistant manager and introduced me to all his barista friends (which I first thought was just a sophisticated Australian word for bartender), who, in turn, gave me free coffee with funny milk animals in it after hearing the sad story I just told you, and I love free stuff anyway so who am I to pass that up?! I have to admit: I’m sorry, Hungry Jack, but your coffee tastes like baby dhiarrea in comparison.

Yes, Thomas was a bit rough, as you would expect someone from Eastern Europe to be, but he had a good heart. The free sandwich he got me to make up for, after telling him about my depression, calling me an ugly lesbian with small boobs, is prove of that. You have to understand that to Slovakians, that’s the only reason anyone would ever be sad.

 

I also wanna take a quick moment to talk about the Indian guy, one of the people with whom I shared a 16 bed dorm for 3 weeks. I still can’t remember his name, even though I have asked him so many times that by the time I moved out, he couldn’t be happier that annoying little forgetful drunk German was finally gone. No, it wasn’t Raj, racist motherfucker! I remember it started with a B.

I suppose this was the first time I encountered an „authentic“ Indian person, complete with Bindi and the shrine in his locker that he would pray to every night – one prayer for each God, and I don’t know how many he had up in there, but it always tooks him precisely 23 minutes.

I never found out why he ate curry without a fork at all, why in the middle of the night, and why it had to be so noisy during and after (nice picture there). It was interesting and gross at the same time. I try to keep an open mind, though.

 

Most backpackers that I encountered in Sydney were French or Korean, both of which are very hard to communicate with, as their English is usually below average (lo siento, mates. Yes, my French isn’t really any better). On top of that, Koreans also sleep a lot. They have to, as they secretly run the city.

 

Everything happens faster here. Maybe that’s the traveler’s lifestyle. It would have to, since you’re moving on so quickly. Back home, developing a friendship or any kind of relationship takes time. Get to know one another until you feel comfortable to be yourself (or is that just me), spend time, bond. It’s a process, for introverts like me usually slower, for some faster, but it always takes time. Over here, imagine that process being filmed with a really high speed camera. „G’day, nice to meet you, wanna go for a drink? A splendid, we’re best friends now, that was really fun you crazy son of a bitch, well ok gotta go, add me on facebook, see ya!“ And you probably never hear from them again.

 

I’d wish to be able to keep in touch with all the people I meet. But it just doesn’t always work out that way. Backpackers never get attached.. I am different in that aspect, but it isn’t always up to me. There are more adventures out there that want to be adventured, I guess. Gotta learn to stop looking back.

 

Well, what I wanna say is this: Sydney is amazing if you give it a chance (apparently, lots of people don’t like it when they first arrive, so I wasn’t at all alone in this). The people make the city. And there are some truly awesome and interesting people to be met.

 

Some last thoughts: You’re not a real backpacker in Sydney unless you’ve slept one night in Hyde Park. Only newbies don’t j-walk. Coles has $3 mince meat. You don’t have to buy anything at Hungry Jacks to use the free wifi. The road will tell you which way to look for cars if you wanna cross, for confused Europeans. Saturday nights in the city are crazy. Go and find out why (you might get a cookie. Hint: there is more than once correct answer). And finally, the tap water might taste funny but you will get used to it quickly when you see the prices for bottled water.

 

I’ve been told: Sydney is like the model girlfriend who treats you like shit but is so beautiful that you always keep coming back to her. I think that hits the nail on the head.

 

Coming to Australia

Or: The grass is always greener on the other side, but the sand is pretty friggin’ white over here

 

 

So this is it. After half a year of planning (it didn’t actually take that long) I set foot to the new world.. well, new to me. It took a whole day and some change to finally get to Sydney. So no, grandma, I won’t be able to drop by for Christmas dinner this year.

Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna spend Christmas all alone on the streets somewhere because I won’t be able to find a room. Not even the homeless people will have me.. but that shall be a story for another time.

 

I suppose I came here with huge expectations. The stories I’ve heard about this place.. oh, the stories. Where are the $$ you said I’d make, the hundreds of friends and the buff surfer dude that would make me want to stay here forever? What? I’m not impatiently asking for too much..

 

Alright, let’s back up a little. The first time I consciously remember being away from home for a longer period of time was roughly 18 years ago, when I was 9. It was a summer camp that every kid in town age 9-16 went to. I wasn’t homesick. Matter fact, I probably cried when i realized I had to go back home after only one week! Ah yea, the great outdoors.. nature, exciting new things, interesting people, fucking adventure, yeah!! Right? The only thing I want right now is to lie in my bed playing World of Warcraft and be boring, knowing that all my loved ones are just a phone call away and not half-way around the world.

 

The big city is lonely. Friends – if you manage to make some – are temporary. Everybody is always on the move. What, you aren’t planning to go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef? Hug a koala at Alice Spring’s? Pick some onions in Darwin? Nah buddy.. I’m hanging out in Woolloomooloo. Where real jobs that make you some money are rare.

Loads of people travel in groups and tend to stay that way. Lone backpackers, such as me, are the exception. A great set of boobs aren’t enough to meet people around this neck of the woods. You actually have to make an effort. How does someone as anti-social as me (my whole life, people have told me I look like I want to be left alone) make friends? Lots of alcohol, of course. But then everybody is too embarrassed the next morning to speak to each other.

 

No, of course it’s not all bad. I have met some cool people. Some of who remember my name, and some of who simply call me ‘Germany’. Which gets kind of confusing sometimes, considering.

The weather is nice. It’s often a bit cloudy and windy, but dammit, it’s still warm enough that I am sitting in Hyde Park wearing shorts while writing this. That alone should totally count as a success. I’m spending my days getting beat up by the waves at Bondi Beach (wearing a bikini in November!) while Europe is already expecting snow. Ha. I think I am lacking the ability to be happy. Fortunately, sarcasm suits me very well.

 

Like pretty much all wildlife in Sydney, birds and bees have come to coexist with humanity. I am feeling like a horse trying to brush of flies, that actually follow you around, persistent little buggers. What I like about Sydney, is that even though it’s a pretty big city, it has managed to maintain a sense of nature. It’s very „green“. Smells of flowers everywhere.

 

Sydney is very active. When I go for a jog in the morning, I run into hundreds of like-minded people ( no pun intended). I only haven’t quite figured out why they all carry a backpack.

 

I do not like the inner city, what they call the CBD. It stands for Central Business District and the name is pretty much game. Streets crowded with busy business people getting to important lunch meetings, conferences and other busy business people stuff.

There are so many tall buildings, you feel like walking inside a maze with very high walls. You can’t see far, I feel trapped. It isn’t very horizon-widening.

 

I have found a job pretty much straight away, for the next couple of weeks. I wear a glittery-blue cowboyhat and a huge sign and hand out leaflets for a childcare center that is actually already full and has caused some angry mothers to stop and yell at me why I hand them brochures of a childcare place that is completely useless to them. The life of the cardboard-cowgirl. It’s gonna make for a funny anecdote one day, just.. not yet.

 

I’m not gonna go home before 6 months. That’s what I have promised myself. I’m gonna try to make it work at least that long. I haven’t even seen 3% of Australia yet. Come on, stop being a little bitch. Breath in, breath out, suck it up and get out there! (trying to pep-talk myself now) Yes, YES! I can conquer the world! (I think it’s working) … I don’t want to get left behind. I’m gonna leave my room and try to socialize … tomorrow. Tonight it’s a box of cookies and a movie. God, I’m pathetic.