Return to Australia

At Little Creatures, one of my favorite places to eat and drink at in the world
At Little Creatures, one of my favorite places to eat and drink at in the world

Some years ago, I first traveled to Perth, Australia to do a semester abroad. When, of course, would I ever have the opportunity to go to Australia ever again, right? Well, welcome to the Navy where the world’s most unlikely coincidence is somehow possible. As soon as we got word on the boat that we would be pulling into Australia, the crew’s morale was insanely high.

From the few people who have been there, Australia is know as the world’s best liberty port. Historically speaking, it has been. In World War II, girls used to line up at the pier as American submarines pulled in. It’s not as glamorous now as it used to be, but the reputation still precedes it. These days, only one, maybe two, submarines even pull into Australia anymore. We were actually the first Virginia class boat to come to the country — and this led to pretty much every Aussie on their Navy base coming over for a tour. As a perk of being submarine qualified, I got to give tours. Me and Pendergrass and Miller slammed out some impressive tours; I hope they were very impressed with our professionalism and tact. I traded all sorts of cool things with the Aussies, including a pair of their warfare pins.

Delicious kangaroo tail kebabs
Delicious kangaroo tail kebabs

And back to the unlikely coincidence — I pull into the one place I lived just down the street from, Fremantle, Australia. Immediately I took to contacting Chloe and Osca from many years ago. Osca was traveling through South America, but Chloe was still there. It was great to meet up and see each other after so much time. How strange to be back. I even saw Osca’s sister just by coincidence. I think she was surprised to see me hah.

Because I had lived there, I was able to give the crew lots of tips for places to eat and drink. And that’s pretty much all I did. We managed to get some great stories, and also get kicked out of the same bars I had some seven years ago. It was like home sweet home. I had 3 real free days in Australia, and I made sure to make the most of it. I was allowed to stay in a hotel for this port. Although we shared a room, getting to sleep on a fold out bed was a true highlight. Taking a real shower, wow, what an experience. It’s amazing how much you appreciate the little things after not having them. I still haven’t managed to sleep under a set of sheets since August, but maybe in a port down the road.

Our giant posse of lesbian tour guides.
Our giant posse of lesbian tour guides.

Anyway, being our friendly selves, we linked up with a huge posse of the friendliest lesbians known to man. They became our tour guides and drove us places and even took us home to their families. Australians are time and time again the most hospitable, friendly people on this earth. No one else on this planet could take a bunch of cursing drunk insane sailors in, and then do it again for the recovery the next morning. I am truly impressed with Australia, yet again.

1/3 Compete and the Super Bowl

3 years since Australia. This was the happiest time of my life. When I look at these photos I get so happy, then so, so sad.

So, Friday marked the 1/3rd point of Navy Nuclear Power School. As a whole, I’d describe my experience as absolutely awful. I can’t imagine anyone who likes it, but I’m 1/3rd done and that gives me hope. Once I’m at that 2/3rd point it’ll be the home stretch and then it’s just hanging on until the end. On Reddit, I read a lot of the Navy posts about people just enlisting wondering about the Nuke field, and I feel like I should make one giant post to just reference them to. But, honestly, I can just say that it’s hard to deal with. You sit in a chair all day and grind away, trying to memorize things that you have no interest in and that you’ll never use again (a lot like college, but worse).

I think what really gets me is not the material but how we’re engaged by our instructors, who are all ensigns, minus one enlisted guy. There’s such a huge disconnect between enlisted and officer, and I’m not sure why. If you want to engage someone, you need to give respect both ways — it’s a mutual thing. Unfortunately, most of the officers just make us feel like we’re absolutely retarded for not knowing something and treat us like children. I’m a grown up so treat me like one. That’s too much to ask for though.

What really makes me wonder about that whole thing is that I’m trying to make officer — my package is being compiled as you read this. So, when I become an officer, will I instantly turn into that? Or will I just be me? I relate so much more with the enlisted side. I like to have fun, engage with people, and… act more like a person than anything. I don’t think I can switch from being me to that. That said, I  don’t mean to say I don’t want to be a leader. I’d love that opportunity. Part of the whole officer side is not only being a leader, but acting as a mentor. That’s a process that is give and take. Maybe it’s just this command that is like that; I’m really interested to seeing the real Navy. Right now we’re Boy Scouts with a pair of crows on our uniform.

Driving around town. Getting off base is one of my favorite activities.

Now, on the actually exciting part: the Super Bowl. Today I churned out the worst work possible to rush home. Definitely going to make it a party tonight and then see how it turns out when I wake up at 4:30 AM tomorrow. Hopefully I will be able to look like a sentient being tomorrow. Planning on doing a little grilling, some drinking, and pretending, for a moment, that Monday doesn’t exist. I can’t wait for Friday already! It’s funny how the weeks just blur by. The more time you put in the building, the faster time warps to Friday. But, it’s hard to stop yourself from going absolutely insane at the same time.

Let’s see, not much else going on. I did my taxes and that was more fun than working. My brother is in the hospital right now. He had his colon removed last week and it was a tough surgery. He’s doing better now, thankfully. Besides that, it’s just the daily grind. Just 16 weeks to go!

Get Out of My Gym

Ah, West Texas. Only here would you find this on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. What's funnier, the coyote or the fact that someone actually did this?

Well, it’s the new year — 2011, one year away from our inevitable destruction. If John Cusack survives the 2012 apocalypse, it’s still a complete loss in my eyes. So, I have been neglecting this for a while. It’s not really out of a lack of interest. I think about updating this daily but by the time I get home I usually want to work out, shower, and go to bed. Yes, my life is the pinnacle of excitement.

Anyway, I’ve always seen those commercials on TV about joining a gym after New Year’s and I didn’t realize that people actually flock to the gym like that. Today it was actually impossible to do anything. Every machine, even the old busted bikes with the giant wheels, were being used. I can’t believe how many people were there. Definitely over 100 (whereas before there were maybe 10). What’s sad is that people have to have this trigger to get to the gym. If you want to work out, just go to the gym. I ended up starting about this time last year though it was because I wanted to rather than what everyone always does. Anyway, the whole concept just seems weird. I’m wondering how long it will take for them to fizzle out. The lady behind the desk says March and it’ll be completely back to normal. Can’t come soon enough.

So besides the gym frustrations, I spent my New Year in Dallas for the Chastain family reunion. Good times, good food. I wish we had more time to go explore Dallas a little, but we’re usually in and out pretty quick. I managed to get some sort of awful sinus infection (girls dig it), and missed most of work last week. I really hate just sitting around all day doing nothing, especially for the better part of a week. I ended up just playing video games (c’mon like I would read a book?). I felt pretty awful. I’m not sure how Sam could sit around and play Battlefield from 8 AM to 8 PM at my apartment… I guess that’s considered a skill.

Pretty nice ride. Can't wait to take it off some sick jumps. (You got like 4 feet of air that time.)

One of the cooler things to happen is that my dad sold his motorcycle and bought a pretty sick Jeep. I think it’s a lot more practical than a motorcycle and I can’t wait to beast mode it at Big Bend later this year. Hopefully when it’s warmer. This cold weather stuff is for chumps.

And finally, the Navy got back to me. My commission was denied for all three fields, meaning I’ll go back to being enlisted and doing the nuclear field. Not all bad, but I can’t help feel like there was something more I could have done. Also it means I’ll be here until May. Trying to hold down the fort until then.

So in the spirit of resolutions, I was thinking about making one to go with the fad, but I just came up with a list of stuff I want to do before I die, unless I die first. And here it is:

  • Sky dive. This is my biggest fear in the entire world. It’s not natural to jump out of a perfectly good plane. Also if the chute doesn’t open you’ll have to think about how much you shouldn’t have jumped out of that plane. But, I want to do it so I can say I did it.
  • Get in a shark cage with pissed off sharks. One of our relatives works in Galveston for a nonprofit dealing with ocean life, so I will have to get her advice. I’ll probably have to do it in Mexico to make it cheap. I feel like either way, I’ll be charged an arm and a leg, one more literal than the other.
  • Run a marathon. This sounds so ridiculously impossible. By the time I hit 8 miles I’m nearly dead. How do people do that? It’s insane. It will kill me. Might as well do it.
  • Get back to Australia. Man, I love that place. I have to go back and relive some of the best experiences of my entire life. In general, I just want to travel. Maybe that’s why the Navy was so appealing?
  • This is the poster for a documentary on why we shouldn't like spiders.

    Hold a tarantula. This is right up there with skydiving. They are hell spawn abominations. I hate spiders, but I really hate the massive tarantulas. I get sick to my stomach just thinking about them. So, I better man up and hold one.

  • Have a stranger recognize me for something I’ve done. And, hopefully that’s a good something. I don’t want to be a star, but it would be pretty awesome if I was known for something awesome — like that guy who went to Mexico and jumped into a shark cage and ended up losing an appendage much to the delight of YouTube.
  • Pay off all my debt. I’m actually closer to this goal than I have been in years. I finally got my credit card completely paid off — the first time since I turned 18. At this point, I’ll try not to use it again. Now all I have are my student loans. Awesome.
  • Give more. I really would like to give more. Right now, it’s hard to give much of anything since I’m pretty constrained with the aforementioned student loans. But I feel like it’s a good thing in general to get in the practice of giving. Maybe not money at this moment, but time. I do have time off occasionally and I really should try to do something productive with it instead of sit in front of YouTube wasting my life.

 

9 May 2009

I missed them a lot.

Working at Coles is always a treat; I get told to do the same things well every night, and I do the same thing. It’s one of those “turn your brain off” type of jobs that feels satisfying only when you get a paycheck. I am working towards paying off the rest of my debt, and perhaps having somewhat of a social life. Frustratingly, I’ve been penned up in my room doing work, and I think my flatmate has gave me some sort of killer super cold. I feel so weak and tired. That said, I am also living off instant noodles, cereal, and some water. I have about two weeks of time before I complete my classes here, and then I have one final on June 15. Once I finish those three papers and projects, and the final, I will be around for another 14 days where I will work my ass off. I plan to put in as many hours as humanly possible to save for home.

I do miss home. I never really realized how much I love Texas, but this has been a good experience with another part of the world. I will eat so much of the food I miss; steaks, burgers, ribs. And, I will get to see the people I care about most in my life: my close friends, and my family.

I am hoping to still have a tan, but it’s starting to get ever so slightly colder now. Combined with my illness, work, and school, I feel like I may lose it even while it still is warm. What a shame!

27 April 2009

So, I started my crappy job at Coles, a local supermarket. It’s 21 dollars an hour, which is completely legit. I don’t mind it, but the job is a bit stressful in terms of learning all of the weird Aussie products. I have off today, though, because of ANZAC day, which is similar to our memorial day. I’ve done literally nothing today — just watched a lot of movies.

Nothing in particular is new; I’m out of money and just coasting. Surviving on goon and credit card, but I should be fine by the time I get done. I don’t have a lot to say, but I thought I should update it a bit.