Monday, September 17, 2012

We Be Ballin'

One of the very good things about working for a corporation, is that they throw Really.  Good. Parties.   Recently, Shawn and I had the opportunity to head to the Annual Mid-Year Ball.  And honestly any excuse to go to a ball for pretty much next to nothing is a good thing.

Since right now we live so far away from the city, and the ball was on a Friday, I had to bring all my stuff to work.  Because I am high class, I shoved folded neatly my “I-wear-this-to-everything” purple Anthropologie dress into a plastic shopping bag with some touch-up makeup and a hairbrush.  (High class ladies brush their hair more than once per day, I’m told.)  I was pretty nervous about how I was dressed though, because the invitation said “Black Tie.”  Clearly, I didn’t bring any gowns with me to Australia, and Shawn doesn’t own a tux.  My co-workers repeatedly tried to calm me down, but you know how I get when 1) I think I’m breaking an etiquette rule and 2) I get myself into a frenzy about something. 

Thankfully, some other ladies were getting ready at work, and were wearing similar cocktail style dresses so after an entire day in an utter panic, I relaxed a little bit.  Plus these things are always dark.  I did last minute try and find some fancier shoes (I only brought a scant few of my shoe collection to AUS, it’s been horrible), and while at Myer (it’s like a Neiman Marcus) I picked out an awesome pair of shoes, for the very reasonable price of $800.  Needless to say, my black target heels it was!  (who is buying $800 shoes?  Also, if you are, you can afford to buy me some too.  I have them all picked out)

Shawn showed up looking all dapper and very hipster in his new suit.  Off to the ball we went!

It was held in the Docklands in what I’m assuming was a converted ship building warehouse.  So it was pretty epic.  We found out table, and realized that we were right in the center of the room, in front of the dance floor.  I was completely baffled how we scored such a good table, until Shawn pointed out to me that I do work with the event manager.  Dur.

Fancy centerpiece
 The food was amazing and we were pretty depressed that since we liked it so much, and we weren’t at a restaurant, we couldn’t ever have it again.  I literally wanted to lick the bowl after my entrĂ©e (that’s an appetizer here).  I easily would have stuck my face in the bowl, if not for meeting people for the first time.  Though honestly, that gives a pretty good picture of who I am as a person, so I probably should have. 

Since this event was pretty epic, there were fire dancers.  This made me slightly nervous because they were very close to our table.  Thankfully, no need to remember my training from elementary school and I did not have to stop, drop and roll. (Fire prevention, everyone, everyday….ugh, how badly did I want them to pick MY drawing for the calendar.)

 Then band then came on.  They did a version of Funky Town.
It went a little something like this:
Dear Australian Band,

It is not “A funky town”.  There is just one town, called Funky Town.  Proper Noun Style.  Get it right.

The band did also help me realize my new ambition was to be a backup dancer in a band that plays corporate events.  These girls had some sick costume changes, like fur vests, shiny leggings and tear stained faces because they are backup dancers in a band that plays corporate events.

There were three very important things that made this evening epic for me and for Shawn: 

1) It was our anniversary weekend.
2) They had two photo booths and wacky props.     
3) They had a candy bar.  With pennants. 

Wedding reenactment what, what?

Clearly since there was candy, and it was free, we were going to shove as much of it as we could into the little bags.  Except several times we were tricked with weird Australian candies.  Like MUSK sticks which look like sticks of bubble gum. 

Let’s take a moment to address how I feel about the humble musk stick.
  1. Musk is for perfume.
  2. Musk is for animals signalling that they are going to mate.
  3. Musk is not a flavour for candy (obligatory "u" added)
  4. Musk candy is super gross (aka not made for the American palate)
  5. Seriously, they have other ingredients here, how did you even think to make musk a candy?
Of course, you can’t be too surprised, because they also use ingredients like rose water in candy here.  Who wants candy tasting like flowers? 

How i love thee candy apple and popcorn
Churros, Shawn-styles.


There were candy apples and popcorn bags, and sour worms.  We thought there were gobstoppers, but it turned out to be gum that tasted like the Gatorade gum they used to sell.  (do they still sell that?)  There is nothing so disappointing as thinking you are getting a gobstopper and you get a gumball.  Well, nothing so disappointing except for tricksy musk sticks.  

We ended the night by taking the train home in our finery.  And it was a wonderful start to our anniversary weekend

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Confessions from a Commuter: OR How Not to Be a Jerk on Public Transport

Commuting on public transport is something new to me.  Growing up in the states, I can’t say that I’ve ever had to take a bus anywhere (besides school, and even then, I was usually ‘too close’ and had to walk), and certainly the cities I’ve chosen to live in are hardly known for their public transport.  And then again, I’ve always had a car.  A luscious, luscious car.  (How I miss you, commute singing!)

Here in Melbourne, we made the decision to wholly rely on public transport. This presents several interesting quagmires in our lives, like when we chose where to live (i.e. within walking distance of a train station), and how the heck we get home from places at night, when it’s not running frequently or sometimes not at all.

So I’ve compiled a list of learnin’s for those of you who might visit, or those of you who live in this sort of a situation and don’t know how to act (though common sense could dictate all of these to you) or for those of you who just like to chuckle at my commuting woes.

Top Ten Traveling Tips!

           1) Bring something to keep you entertained – I can’t tell you how many people come on the train with NOTHING.  First off, where I live it’s around 45 minutes to the city if you’re on the express.  If you’re not, it’s considerably longer.  So bring something to do.  I don’t care if it’s a book (my preference), your iPod, the trashy mag the MX (god I love that thing) or you just want to take a nap, make sure you entertain yourself.  Because you know why?  The person sitting next to you, (re:me) probably doesn’t want to chat with you.  Because they brought their entertainment.  And quite frankly, the games of thrones series ain’t gonna finish itself (anyone else hate the 4th book as much as I do?  It’s taking me forever, because I Just.  Don’t.  Care.  Anymore.)  Pro Tip: sometimes I like to put my ear buds in and pretend I’m listening to music while I’m reading a book.  This way, no one is going to talk to me. Ever.

        2) Bodily functions have no place on public transportation.  Just like an elevator, you’re in a confined space with people you don’t know.  So while you might think this is an opportune time to fart in anonymity, it’s not.  Because now I am trapped with your fart smell, and I’m trying not to gag.  Also, stop picking your nose.  I can see you.  Yes, you.  Oh god, did you just WIPE IT ON THE TRAIN WALL?  Help me.

        3) Get off your laptop.  Although I’m a huge proponent of bringing something to do, you shouldn’t bring something that’s going to mess with everyone else.  Like if you really want to learn to juggle knives, the morning commute isn’t the best place to do this.  Another case in point: a giant laptop from 1994.  I know you think watching the CSI: Duluth is high on your commuting priority, but when you’ve decided to sit on the outside seat and you won’t bother to move so either I can sit or I just want to get off the train because all these farts are making me want to vomit, it’s really a pain to attempt to crawl over your giant laptop in my skirt, and with my purse and my lunch bag.  Can’t you even swing your legs out?  NO?  Then laptop denied.  And no, I’m not sorry one bit that I stepped on your foot, so stop glaring at me.  This rule is forgiven for 1) people who are doing work and 2) people who sit on the inside and 3) considerate people who swing their legs out. This brings me to my next point:

4) Move in, asshat.  It’s rush hour.  You’re not getting off at the next stop.  We both know that.  So it’d be great if you could just move in to the interior seat.  I don’t want to have to climb all over you and you know you’re not going to swing your legs out.  So be a pal and move in.  This also goes for you clowns who stand in the doorway.  The only acceptable time to do this is if you are literally getting off at the next stop.  If you’re not, well, they say move down the aisles for a reason. 

         5) My newest marketing campaign for the train is “Butts, not bags.”  Middle aged ladies and young girls, we need to have a talk.  1) I have nice purses, so I get it, you might not want to put it on the ground.  (train ground + expensive leather purse = tragic!), so do you know where it goes?  Hint, it’s not on the seat next to you.  Did your purse pay for a train ticket? Oh, it didn’t?  Then stop giving me crap when I tell you to move it.  Put it on your laps, or get a crappy commuting bag. 

        6) Please don’t eat tuna fish out of a can on the train.  In the morning.  Right next to me.  

        7) Just buy a ticket, okay

          8) Speaking of: Presumably, you have a ticket when you got on the train.  It’s either a paper ticket or your Myki card.  So it shouldn’t come as a real shock to you that to get out of the station, you have to use your card.  Why isn’t it out?  WHY???  You are clogging up the whole line and now i am feeling claustrophobic surrounded by tall strangers.

        9) Although this should be common sense, I continually see this and it aggravates me to no end.  If someone had a need to sit down, like a broken leg for instance, GET UP.  When you choose those priority seating seats by the door, you might have to get up so stop making that face.  It’s right there on a sign.  Please stop making people ask you to get up when they are on crutches or are very, very pregnant.  They shouldn’t have to ask.  So be aware of your surroundings!  (PS to the annoyed pregnant lady who snapped at the guy who offered his seat.  don't be a jerk about it.  a simple, no thank you would suffice.)

         10) When you’re ready to exit the station, please stay to the left on the escalators!  I might not be one of those people running up the stairs in the morning to get to work, but I stay out of their way.  Just like I expect YOU to stay out of my way when I’m trying my darndest to make it to the 5:07 Lilydale Bada$$ Express.  (I think that’s it’s official name).  So although you probably think you are walking appropriately fast down the right side of the escalator, I am trying to run.  

     BONUS:   When something happens on the train, like there’s a tree on the tracks, and you have to take a replacement bus, please remember: We’re all in this together.  No need to go feral.  And pushing ME, doesn’t do a lick of good, even if you ‘apologize’ after you do it. (and yes, we both know you only said sorry because I gave you a look) It just makes me say “you do realize that pushing me doesn’t make anyone in front of me move, right?”  And then you look dumb.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Your mission, if you should choose to accept it....

I promised a *brand new blog*!  So, here goes.  About a month ago, I was chatting with my friend Nicole about her adventures in her new city of LA.  Wanting to encourage her to find me a shabu shabu restaurant explore her surroundings, she came up with the excellent idea of giving her tasks to accomplish while in her new environment.  It turned into Mission:LA where Nicole requests that people on her facebook suggest things she should do in LA (re: find me that shabu shabu place, Nicole, I need it.) to help her acclimate to her town.  Seeing as stealing imitation is the highest form of flattery, I present MISSION:MELBOURNE.  That’s right.  You tell me to do something, I do it.  Can’t make it out here to visit?  Ask me to do something for you!  Hey Devon, go pat a shark*.  Done.  Hey Devon, go eat some ox tongue*.  Done.  Hey Devon, jump out of a plane.  Actually, no.  That won’t happen.  BUT!  Think I should take a surfing lesson (even though I am terrified of the ocean and the blue ringed octopus?) or learn how to throw a boomerang while I’m here?  Sick of seeing me pat only furry animals?  Consider it done and see your idea on one of my blog posts!

Leave your comments for things I should do.  Help me learn about Melbourne and Australia!   

*Sharks are rough and ox tongue is chewy, for the record.

Fairy (Penguin) Tales that are Mostly Ghostly.

The last week of Alyssa’s visit was jam packed with goodness.  We had posh high tea at the Windsor,  she and Shawn went to Parliament, we ate yummy thai food, sampled the wineries in Yarra valley andddddd….we went on a ghost tour. 

For all you non-believers out there, be forewarned, I do completely believe in ghosts.  I’ve had several experiences that I can’t explain.  Or more likely that I CAN explain if that explanation involved “it was a ghost”.  In her pre-planning, Alyssa found Lantern Ghost Tours, and we decided to book a night time tour through Melbourne.  The tour took us through the alleyways of Melbourne, and for those who aren’t interested in ghosts, was very historically interesting.  For instance I learned that the English settlers liked to blow stuff up with cannons.  (I also learned that Jack the ripper may have moved here.  Awkward.) 

The first stop on our tour was the only alleyway in Melbourne where it’s ‘legal’ to spray paint.  There’s an agreement from the government here that there won’t ever be video cameras put up here, so urban artists can decorate the alley.  It’s neat in the fact that the art is always updated and oh yeah, it’s also HAUNTED.  Right.  The unfortunate part of this situation is that Shawn (ghost hunter noob and general non-believer) didn’t bring my digital SLR.  But Alyssa had her little point and shoot and loaned it to me for the evening.  I took a shot in the alley and was thrilled to get on camera 3 orbs.  That’s neat enough right?

Take a closer look at the photo. 

Right now I’m not going to point out what I saw when I zoomed in on the photo, and I do apologize for this not being the best quality.  I want to see if you can see what I saw without me pointing it out.  And no, it’s not the guy in black in the background, he was on our tour.  (Flip to the end of the post, and I’ve circled what I saw.)

We moved on to some other alleyways, but then we approached an alley formerly known as Gun Alley.  Back in the 1920’s a little girl was murdered here.  Initially when our guide was telling us the story, I sort of just thought, that’s really sad.  They never caught her killer and it’s tragic. 

Then I walked into the alley.

Anyone who’s ever been affected by paranormal happenings will know what I am talking about.  First, I was overcome by a wave of nausea and dizziness, then I burst into tears.  I immediately turned to Shawn and said “Nope.” and walked out of the alley.  The overwhelming sense of grief and terror I got when I was at the edge of the alley was astounding.  The tour guide says that happens frequently in the alley, but I was mostly very embarrassed.  However, upon leaving the alley, I immediately felt about a million times better.  Both Alyssa and Shawn said they alley ‘didn’t feel right’ which makes me feel a little better about my volatile reaction.  The alley is right down the road from where I currently work, but I’m hesitant to go back there.  It’s certainly one of the more intense reactions I’ve had and a part of me is interested to see if it can be recreated in the daylight or if I was just caught up in the moment.  Another part of me is terrified that I will start crying again, and not very interested in recreating that sick, awful, pulling feeling I had when I was near the entrance. 

The tour ended in the alley by my work, (not really thrilled about all the paranormal around my job) and overall, it was very interesting apart from the crying in the alley bit.

To end her time here, I took a day off from work and the three of us went down to Philip Island to see tiny penguins.  Fun fact: penguins aren’t all cold weather birds.  And one particular breed of tiny adorable penguins lives here in Victoria.  These are the fairy penguins (re: little penguins, don’t get me started on that stupid name change) and they are the tiniest more adorable creatures that you’ve ever set eyes on.  I’m sure you’d all love to see pictures of how cute they were, and video of how adorable they are waddling out of the surf, but to protect the little buggers, no photography or video is allowed on the island.  Please enjoy this youtube clip of adorable penguins in lieu of my actual photo/video-ography.  

Though that's not the best video in the world, it’s fairly accurate.  They come out in a little group and if they get scared, they run back into the ocean.  Since they’re just little itty bitty things, (ahhhh pocket sized penguins!) they are nervous that some giant bird is going to eat them.  So under the cover of darkness, they make their way back to their burrows.  And with their little tiny penguin feet, some of them walk 2km.  UPHILL.  These penguins have the heart of a champion.  Once they get to their burrows they make all sorts of squeaky penguin noises and continue to be adorable.  Sadly, sometimes there are oil spills and the fairy penguins get affected.  And when they're covered in oil, they can't regulate their body temperature.  I want you to all think back to your childhoods.  When you were so cold in the winter, and your dad wouldn't let you turn up the thermostat, and what did he tell you to do?  That's right....
I do literally think my head would explode from cuteness if I ever saw this in real life, tragedy of oil spills aside.   

We also stopped at a Koala park (where Alyssa got in her requisite Koala pats) and went to the Nobbies (where I got in my requisite take pictures of scenery and play with my camera settings). 

Lens Flare, FTW!
Alyssa left that weekend, and I think was a very successful guinea pig first guest.  She was able to provide some good tips for how we should do things.  And we learned what things to skip (i.e. Dracula’s cabaret, only good if you’re not paying full price, which we didn’t.)

I will admit, it made me a little home sick, but it was good to see her and I hope she had a nice time.

Now Shawn and I gear up for our next adventure:  Three guests in a row.  Shawn’s parents arrive on the 20th of September, and leave October 10th, his friend Cindy arrives October 11th and leaves the 26th, we are on vacation in the Sunshine Coast (beaches and Steve Irwin zoo here we come!) from the 27th until the 31st and then Barry and Jesalyn are here Nov 1st through November 11th.  PHEW.  I’m sure it will be an intense and rewarding few months for us and I’ll do my very best to update.  

No big deal.