Thursday, January 29, 2009

"...I hear babies cry, I watch them grow, they'll learn much more, than I'll ever know, and I think to myself - what a wonderful world..."

February 1st will mark what would have been my Grandpa's 70th birthday. He passed away in August after having been diagnosed with liver cancer just 133 days prior. Since he passed, I have dwelled on thoughts of mortality more so than ever before. I started thinking about how once someone is dead, they are never truly gone until the last living person with a memory of them has died, as well. Kind of odd, I know but he will live on as long as each person who has a memory of him is alive. Thinking of things that way, it made me realize how important it is to really care about people and leave them with positive memories of yourself. We all can be stubborn, rude, or hateful but it serves us all no purpose. When we leave this Earth, the people who remain should be better off because we were here not better off because we are gone. All of this leads me to another tangent and that is about the feeling of vulnerability. I was thinking about how we all strive to never feel vulnerable. We will purposely miss out on chances in life because we felt exposed or vulnerable. I thought about what vulnerability really is and I realized that it is a "growing pain". Vulnerability comes when we are transitioning to a new way of being. It is normal and ultimately, healthy. I decided that I will take that previously negative emotion and try to empower myself by making it a good thing. Ok, so this blog is supposed to be about Australia but more so, it is about me in Australia and those were some of my random thoughts of the past, few days. With that said, today I met with a recruiter and it went ok. As we all know, it is a tough economy everywhere and it can feel as if I am fighting a losing battle but I didn't come here to lose. I can be painfully persistent, maybe to a fault but I am still under the delusion that all will work out. I have a calm about me that is surprising. Will it last? Probably until I wake up tomorrow and then who knows! Please keep in mind that when I am worried about something on here, I am not nagging. I am grateful to be here as I know that almost all of us know someone who has lost their job or is in danger of losing it. I don't want my ranting to be misinterpreted. I am happy to be where I am and this is just a way to vent sometimes. Next week, it looks as if I will have a couple of interviews but for now, I need sleep. Every night I get severe leg cramps from walking so much in this city. I must put in several miles a day or kilometres but who has time for conversions?!

Monday, January 26, 2009

"...and everytime I try to be, what someone has thought of me, so caught up, I wasn't able to achieve..."

I was talking to my Mom this morning and we were talking about how we are just normal, everyday people and it made me recall times in which I have felt intimidated by other people's status in life. It is weird how we devalue ourselves sometimes against people based solely on the superficial. Other people's lot in life can make me so insecure and I don't know why or even how to explain it. If someone acts as if they are better than me, I allow myself to feel as if they are sometimes. Which is normal on some level but wrong completely. I guess I am going through this now because I feel weird as I look for a job and I feel a bit useless. This too shall pass but there is one thing that I do want to point out. A lot of you have written me emails or comments about how you wish you could do something like pack up and move or quit your job that is killing you. The truth of the matter is, you can and should. I am no different than anyone else. I come from a normal life, in a normal place, and I had a normal job and I decided that I wanted to break free. I was trapped by the normalcy of life. In Atlanta, every minute of my day was calculated and planned. I had to save myself and cut it loose. Do not feel as if I am doing something that you can't do. Clear your head, have 37 panic attacks, and then do it. That is what I did. Ok, now on to Australia events. Yesterday, I was invited to a group outing on Bronte Beach that was for Americans who now live in Sydney. It was great. They had salsa music, food, and just good conversation. It was nice to be around people who had decided to jump at the chance to see something different. It was just a little odd for me because they are much more adjusted to life here than I am. I mean, 2 weeks of Aussie life, isn't much! After the beach day and BBQ, I had to take the long train ride home. I can't keep living out here. I am too far away from the city and it is making me crazy. I have to leave events way early just to get home before the train stops running. Moving on to "Australia Day". I was under the impression that this day was some sort of Independence Day but what it represents is the arrival of the "First Fleet". These were the first people to come and colonize Australia. So, kind of closer to Thanksgiving than Independence Day. Either way, I went to the park with my new-found friends from all over the world and then it began to rain. So, I am back here at home instead of watching fireworks but that is ok. It was a good day, nonetheless. My hopes for the coming week are some job interviews and getting some stuff on the move. I have quelled the panic attacks for now but you never know when one may creep up. I just hope that I can get some interviews and maybe prove to people that I am not a moron, which is how I am currently feeling.

(Me and my baby arm celebrating Australia Day!)

(Rock pool @ Bronte Beach)

(This boat was bound and determined to show its' Aussie pride!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

"...light up, light up, as if you have a choice, even if you cannot hear my voice, I'll be right beside you, dear..."

Someone asked me the other day where the titles of my blogs come from and they are song lyrics. Some people watch movies or read books to kind of escape, I like to listen to music. So, whatever song is on at the moment that I decide to write a blog, I choose some lyrics from it and make it the title. So, these past few days have been dedicated to the job hunt. For those of you who know me, you know that I like to work. I like to work too much possibly. Being bored is not my strong suit. So, I have been working for LOMA remotely and that is great but I came to Australia to get out and meet new people and see new things and I can't do that from the comfort of my laptop. Therefore, tomorrow morning, I am going to take a course to be able to serve at a restaurant here. Yes, you have to take a course! Working in a restaurant is not my ideal situation but 1.) it is an easy way to meet new people and 2.) it will occupy my time while I look for a more professional job. On a good note, I did get a couple of calls and emails today from some places that I have sent my resume to, so we will see. On Wednesday, I went into North Sydney and it is beautiful there. I took a walk across the Harbour Bridge. It was great but it is so hot here right now and Summer hasn't even fully started! At the house where I live, there are two little girls here and their parents have asked me to tutor them in Spanish, so I have been making some change that way and keeping occupied, which is good! Also, I need to share some weird Aussie things that I have discovered. They pronounce the letter H different than we do. We say [ay-ch] they say [hay-ch]. Also, we park our cars on a curb and they park their cars on a kerb?!?! WHAT?! They say "toilet" for "restroom" and to me, I can't make myself say that. It sounds crass for some reason even though it is what is printed on all the signs leading to a restroom. It is just weird all the small differences. Enough of that. The other night, I was asleep and I had a dream that I was coming to Australia and when I woke up, I was clearly here and it felt really odd. Not in a bad way, just weird. To think that I got on a plane and left everything that was safe behind for an adventure. That is not like me but afterall, I guess it is. For whatever reason, I feel that I was meant to come here. It has been a goal my whole life. So, now that I am here, what next? Time will tell. I am trying to just relax and let life guide me but I am not so good at that!

(Kidnapped on my first day by random Aussies!)

(In the middle of a fountain - it seemed like a good idea!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

" is the passion flowing right on through your veins and it's the feeling that you're oh so glad you came..."

The Aussie spirit may be catching me a little bit. This morning, I woke up and was instantly riddled with panic. This job had emailed me and said my voicemail wasn't working and I had no way to check it and then my job in the States said that the numbers on a report that I did were wrong and I had been sick all day yesterday. So, I instantly went into freakout mode. I sat for a minute and took some deep breaths and got myself together and I thought, "Ok, what can you do? You have no control over any of this so just let it go!" I got a call from some of the friends that I have made here in Australia and the majority of them are all packing up and moving to Byron Bay, which is 12 hours north of here. I decided that if I wanted to hang out, today had to be the day. So, I took the train down to Bondi Beach and then walked a scenic, coastal path to a smaller beach called Tamarama. It was so nice. Kind of removed and quaint. I hung out there in some of the little tide pools because the water of the ocean is freezing cold. It doesn't matter that it is almost 100 degrees here, the water is like ice. I was sure to cover my face completely with sun lotion because Australia is the number one spot for skin cancer in the world and it is no surprise. People walking in the city have to use it to be safe. Yesterday, I sat around the house all day and did work all while searching for Aussie jobs. I have applied until my fingers are sore. We will see, I am trying to take it all in stride. On Sunday, I met my tour guide from my first Aussie trip for lunch and she showed me around to a few places. After she left, I went and sat by the Opera House and just stared out into the Sydney Harbour. It really is a beautiful place. I, also, decided to film my video application for the job on the Great Barrier Reef. It isn't anything too flashy but it is the best I could do with short notice. What an opportunity that would be! So, here I sit on Tuesday night, searching for more jobs online. I am curious to see the inauguration tomorrow but it begins here at 4am, so that won't happen but I am sure that it will be repeated a million times. I read today in the paper that Australians are more excited about the new U.S. President than any other country in the world. Which is odd to me because I keep thinking, "Why do they care?" But, they do and it is great. They know so much and ask tons of questions! Ok, time for me to go be productive. Please leave me some comments.

(Cliff overlooking the blue Pacific)

(Rock formation over Tamarama Beach)

(Me - dumb as rocks)

(Tree dangling over the Pacific Ocean)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"...hit me like a ray of sun, burning through my darkest night..."

I'm not even going to lie, Thursday was one of the longest, toughest days of my life. I was miserable. Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. The first week hit so hard with so many emotions and going-ons that I think I almost just shut down. On Wednesday, when I went sailing, for some reason, it was so overwhelming to me. There was this old man on the boat and he was just sitting and explaining stuff to me about the area and the history, etc. and it made me start feeling bad about my Grandpa who passed in August. It was sadness and happiness coming together to form the perfect storm of panic. On Thursday though, I did manage to go and meet Lisa, who is an American living here who has helped answer so many questions via facebook. She and I had lunch and she gave me some good tips and promised to force me to be social. She is a meeting planner, so I guess she has a knack for it. From there, I went to the aquarium. On a random note, never go to an aquarium if you are sad and lonely. Surprisingly, it doesn't help. So for the rest of Thursday, I messed around on the computer and then forced myself to try and sleep early. Onto Friday, I packed up my hotel stuff and headed for the home that I am currently living in. It is fine and the family is great but it is so far from the city. It takes almost an hour to get into the city from here and that is not what I want. I want to be able to experience the city and all of its' happenings. Which lead me to today, Saturday. Sarah, from Britain, and I went around to different apartment openings and it was pretty interesting. Firstly, all of the places were hot as hell. In the U.S., we air condition everything and here, not so much. That is the hardest thing for me to deal with because I don't like heat. Secondly, all or most of the people we encountered were so weird. At this one spot, I thought we had hit the jackpot. It was the penthouse floor of an apartment building and the guy opens the door and there are awesome sweeping views of the city and then I look down and there are literally, 40 pairs of shoes at the door. This 3-bedroom place had 12 people living in it! So, he goes to show me the room where I would be staying and he opens the door and no lie, there is a guy playing a violin while his girlfriend sat topless on the bed. Then she screamed something in Japanese and I sayanora'ed myself out of there. It was exhausting but we saw a lot of places. None of which I will choose to live. Desperation has not set in yet. After some apartment searching, we went to the park to meet some new friends and there was a concert going on in preparation of Australia's birthday but alas, I had to leave early since I live in the "Outback" now and had to haul 45 minutes home.

(View from Manly Wharf)

(Kids amazed by the Aquarium)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"...when someone said count your blessings now, 'fore their long gone, I guess I just didn't know how..."

Wow. What a difference a week makes. I am a planner, a virtual daily calendar. I like to know what I am doing and when I am doing it and this week has forced me to shred it. I walked into a whirlwind and it has been amazing. If you had told me that I would have been able to do and see the things that I have done this week a month ago, I would have never believed you. Here is a quick rundown of the last few days since the panic attack. Sunday night freak out and I woke up ticked off on Monday that I had allowed myself to be in a panic. This will sound dumb to most of you but I have this whole issue about letting loose and having fun because I have to be the responsible one and not that anything that I did was irresponsible but I just felt like 3 days of fun was too much for me. Well, luckily for us all, I woke up on Monday and just said "screw it" and had one hell of a day. I went to the Harbour, I went to the zoo, I went to the casino, I went to eat with my new found people, and then we all went out for a night on the town. Tuesday, I visited a museum and went to Bondi Beach and then today was the kicker! I went sailing on the Harbour. That's on a sailboat and almost, me floating in the water next to a sailboat. It was (bleeping) awesome. We sailed for a few hours past the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, etc. All of the iconic Sydney landmarks were on my horizon. I would have never sailed in my life but I am so grateful to have had the chance to do it. It was one of those moments that as I looked into the distance and saw the scene, I couldn't believe that my reality was once a dream. If that makes sense? To see what you dreamed of seeing. On a side note, here are some random Aussie facts. On food, they do not have "calories" listed, it says "energy" and it is in some measurement that I do not understand, so I am sure that manboobs are only a month or so away. I have lost my voice a bit, so people hear a weird accent and then a hoarse throat, so I am alluding being an American just a bit. Minger is the Aussie word for a girl who is a bit less fortunate in the looks department. People think that Americans say, "Are you serious?", "Really?", and "Are you for real?" way too much and I, unintentionally, proved that to be true. Pay attention! We really do say it a lot! So, my first group of friends that I have made here are moving on, some just to a beach town about 20 minutes away, others further. My South African BFF (which I had to explain to people here and they think it is a stupid term because well, it is) has set sail but he did promise me a place to stay in South Africa! He also explained to me the game of Cricket, all of the rules I will promptly forget unless I go to a game here because it does look interesting but complicated. So, now I must go off to bed as it is already early Thursday morning. Thank you all for reading and keep the comments coming. It is great to hear from people at home!
(Yeah, me on a boat)

(Monifah, the baby hippo and yes, her name really is Monifah!)

(A view from Manly Beach)

(@ Taronga Zoo, overlooking the city)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"...can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder, you better run, you better take cover..."

One, crazy week. From the moment that I have arrived to Sydney, I have been overwhelming social. For those of you who know me, you know that this is abnormal. I like to sit in my room and have my safe, quiet world. But, the reason I am here is to change that! Or try to change that, at least. On Saturday, I went to Coogee Beach with two, fellow Pensacolians, four Brits, and a South African. Accents were flying wild. It was a good time and I got a little crispy. Australia has very little O-zone left and the sun rays really sting. The highest rate of skin cancer in the world is here. So, I didn't want to risk too much but it was a nice time. We all then came back to the city and went out that night for dinner on Darling Harbour. Things are ridiculously expensive here. I don't know if I mentioned that before but if I haven't, they are expensive!!!! So, the night went on for quite a while and we ended up having a good time but it took a while because all of the bars/clubs were playing techno music or all your favorite classic hits from 1978 and that made me want to have a seizure. So, I couldn't handle it all that much. So, our group dwindled down from eight to three and we found a nice, little place and ended up having a good time. This morning and for most of the day, I have been a bit panicky. Me, not normally being social, with all of this friend making stuff has made me feel weird. Not bad weird but just different. I always get along with everyone but I am so used to having "alone" time that to not have it is weird but here, I don't want it. I am trying to make a change and to force myself to be social but the inner-Edmund is fighting it back. Nonetheless, I went to Manly today which is on the Northern Beaches and it was beautiful. It is a 30 minute ferry-ride from the Opera House. I met up with some new people and had a good time but I had to leave early because I was too busy stressing about life. I know, I know. I didn't come here to do that but it is me we are talking about and it happens. So, here I am, feeling much better and much more settled for now. I have sent out tons of emails about jobs and even met a woman on the ferry-ride today who randomly asked if I needed work. So, we will see how that goes. I am hoping everything will fall into place. I am sure it will it is just tough for me to relinquish control. Either way, I am not complaining. I am here and I am doing well. Just fighting the urge to be the hermit that I am.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"'re close enough to see that, you're the other side of the world to me..."

It took a long time but I made it here and more so, I now have wireless internet. It took me a bit to get my bearings but here I am. So, here is a quick synopsis of my week so far. I go to the Pensacola Airport and the first flight was cancelled, a true "stuckatseven" moment. It is re-booked and I make it out of Pensacola at 2:15pm. On to Dallas, to which we have another delay but we head off and on to Los Angeles. In L.A., I did have a bit of an exhausted moment where I questioned why I was doing this but nonetheless, I hoped on the plane for the 14 hour haul. Qantas is an amazing airline and I was on a brand new jet and there was an empty seat beside me, which meant even more room! I, for the first time in my life, slept on a plane and I got about 7 good hours in total. So, as soon as I got off the plane, I was ready to go. I arrived here in Sydney at around 8am local time but Customs and luggage took forever! Plus, as I was waiting for my bag, the woman beside me started talking randomly about how she had just made her way to Australia from Pensacola, Florida. Small world! So, I get my bags and get on the subway, which is awesome here. Super clean and efficient. I head to the hostel and then off to the bank. They put a hold on half of my money until February because well, I don't know why but they did. So, it is ok though. Then, I walk back into the hostel and a group of about 10 University students are on a random assignment in which they have to photograph themselves at random Sydney locations and they needed to take a picture of themselves beside a pool. So, they asked me if I could use my key card to let them in. I did and they came in and then invited me on the rest of the hunt with them. It was about 3 hours worth of trekking the city but it was a great way to start the trip and an unexpected adventure. By the time that that was done, I came back to my room and my hostel roomies were in. Colin from South Africa and Jay from the UK. They asked if I wanted to go get food and to a pub. So, I did and it was a good time. I stayed out until about 1am because the pub is right next door to the hostel. My new-found roomies were completely intoxicated, so me being a charitable kind of guy, made sure that they didn't die on the elevator. A success. So, this morning, I woke up and panic did set in a bit. I kind of had a freak out and I knew that I would because I am here and the first day was so overwhelming that I knew I would come down off of that high and I did. I had to go into the VISA office to go over all of my paperwork and to learn about Australia. Let's be honest, I could have taught the course. Anyways, after all of that, I went back to the hostel and my South African roomie was there and we went to a restaurant for lunch. It was super expensive, $21 bucks for a hamburger and non-refillable soda! Wendy's...can you hear me? I miss you! I'll be back! So, as of right now, I am feeling good but a little but of mixed emotions as everything and everyone that I care about is asleep as I write this in the middle of the day but this is my adventure and we will see how it goes. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"..out of the darkness and into the sun, but I won't forget the place I come from, I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change, and breakaway.."

Wow. Tonight is my final night in the comfort of Mom and Dad's house before starting my big adventure. A good friend of mine told me that I should write a letter to myself about what my expectations are going into this and then at the end of my journey, see how it all worked out. I like that advice. I expect to grow. To prove to myself that nothing is out of reach and for all the times when I felt that I wasn't good enough, those days are over. I can make it just fine on my own. I expect to open myself up to the idea that not always be structured and responsible can be a good thing. Letting myself be young is something that is tough for me, I have always been a 40 year old in a younger body. While it has served me well in several areas, I have lacked in the having fun department and that needs to change. I expect to take the small moments and know that they mean more than anything. I want to just relish a moment, to live in that moment and to not plan everything out. More than anything, I want to truly recognize the gratitude and humbleness that I have experienced through all of you with this journey. I am not an overly religious person but prior to this experience I would pray for guidance and it lead me right here. Whoever may be doing the leading, I don't know but nonetheless, so many great things worked out for me and I am humbled and grateful. I have to say to each of you reading this; this means so much to me. To know that people care enough about me to acknowledge my dream and to want to follow it means a lot. Ultimately, it has been some weird sort of validation that I have always wanted and needed. So, thank you. Tomorrow morning, I will leave Pensacola and head to Dallas then LA and then on to Sydney. What happens after all of this is to be determined, so please stay tuned and thank you again for the support. On one last American-based note; to my Mom, Dad, and brothers - I know that me globe trotting makes you paranoid but I do this because of you, never in spite of you. You all have given me the ability and desire to want more from life and words, whether spoken or written, can't fully express it. I love you.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

"...traveling I only stop at exits, wondering if I'll stay young and restless..."

2 years, 10 months, and 18 days and my Atlanta journey has concluded. Today is a day that I knew was coming and it passed much more calmly than I had expected. This morning, once I cleared out the apartment, I took a few moments and stared at it. Soaking in the memories of my little, Atlanta life. It was odd. Sometimes that apartment felt like a cage. I was trapped inside of it, wanting for more but it also, was my first sense of freedom. I had taken a leap of faith and left the security of Pensacola and made it. I survived. I had broken free of Escambia County, Florida and proven that I could do it without failing. On my own. I closed the door, knowing that I was heading in a good direction. If not literally, at least figuratively. Living in Atlanta taught me that I can do it. I can make it in this world on my own if needed. And for that, I am grateful. I went to work for a few hours to wrap some things up and had to say "goodbye" to my co-workers. That was tough but I walked to my car and didn't look back. I am leaving with good memories and lasting friendships. I received a quote this week from someone and it made a lot of sense. It said, "We can not become what we want by remaining what we are". It rings true. How am I ever to grow as a person if I don't shake up my world a bit? Granted packing up and moving to the other side of the world is an extreme but it is my way to move forward. I hope that all of you can experience your dream coming true someday. It is so odd to be in the middle of something that you have always wanted. It feels surreal but not in a positive or negative way, just indescribable. With that said, I am now writing this from the comfort of a bed! Finally, I can sleep in a normal sleeping situation and not on a floor. Last night, as I was nuzzling up to my apartment floor for my last night of Atlanta life I started to panic a little! Why? I was panicking because I have yet to have a panic attack about moving to Australia. Exactly what does that say about a person, when he panics about not having a panic attack yet? You don't have to answer that! Nonetheless, I wish you all a great 2009 and much success and happiness and I encourage everyone to take a leap of faith and try something new or plan a course of action on how to change your life. I don't know what 2009 holds for me but I know that I finally made a decision that trekked outside of my need to be responsible all the time and it feels strangely good.

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