Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Good tidings, stranger!

Hey, you! Yeah, you over there! Yes, I am surely talking to you...can you hear me? Hello! Ok, now that I have your attention, long time no see. I must apologize for my insane lack of correspondence. I don't think we have last spoken since I was in the coal mining town of Collie and you all were just about to carve the turkey and celebrate T-giving day like you were real life pilgrims and indians. Oh, you've been racking your brain to know what I did for the special holiday? Well fret not, because I delighted and splurged on eating a microwave turkey roast television dinner complete with canned cranberry sauce, pre-made carrot cake and homemade iced tea whipped up in an old pickle jar I bought for $1.50 from an op-shop...pure bliss is what I am sure you're all imagining. So moving on from that festive picture...

Life in Oz (short for "Australia," sort of a local slang everyone uses here) has been eventful. Things with the ever exciting carnival have been trucking along and I am happy to announce that after my last post, I have finished with all that messy traveling work! Yes, I have done it...eight full weeks trekking from capital city Perth down to the seaside town of Albany (and in the process visiting all the nooks and crannies of Western Australia) and here I am again. Back, alive, much tanner and muscles bulging (well, not quite), but I am a better human because of the work I've done. Not much changed in the course of all that labour, besides the fact that I got the pleasure of working on several rides (including the much acclaimed Sizzler, which whips you around like a tea towel in the dryer, so much so you want to puke up anything clinging to the walls of your stomach and of course the sleepy bees, which raise up and down like the arms of a giant octopus). I also finished my run with the Big Balloon Bust (my go to game) and was moved around from the Shooting Gallery, to the Catch a Clown Fish game. All have the same relative recipe for disaster: child approaches, pays $6 and then attempts to either throw a dart, shoot an air gun or net a plastic fish (all of these aforementioned fish looked dead, however I usually recovered by saying the limp ones would be made into sushi later! This garnered few smiles and even more confused faces. We even had one adult male ask if the pump was a fish. The pump. I just looked at him and walked away). Getting back to business though, the outcome with these things is always the same, small prize! No, little boy/girl, you will never win that Smurfette or SpongeBob SquarePants you have been pining after since first setting eyes on it just 10-minutes earlier, you know when you first entered the overpriced fairgrounds and were bombarded with dagwood dogs (Oz's version of corn dogs) and warm cans of Coke. And no, mum/dad, you cannot have your $6 back just becaue your kid couldn't adequately pull the #9 fish (which there isn't one) or knock down an impossible 6 full stacks with the air gun (because you only have 8 corks to do it in). Yeah, if you want to whip out another $44 you can have that beady-eyed devil with the love heart attached to its chest for your Mrs. or I'll tell everyone that you actually won the oversized cow, but until you cough up the money or pull every last fish trying to find the are just going to remain forever and always shit out of luck. And no, I will not have you hold your sick child up to me and then lament the fact that little so-and-so just got out of the hospital and by having that massive Angry Bird, things will suddenly become all better and all of life's little conundrums will just disappear. You can't imagine the number of parents that tried to pawn their kids off like newborn dogs, just so they could get some stuffed teddy that cost, like, $2 to make in a remote village of China. Some nerve. So, after eight full weeks in all these small, pleasant towns, what did we really learn? I am the crusher of dreams. I destroy lives. I swoop down from the trees, take your money and then just as quickly as I set up this death trap, I run away with said money and go to wreak havoc on the innocent souls in another town. Needless to say, my job was pure bliss.

In all honesty though, my time spent with Sideshow Amusements was eye opening. I can now understand and speak the difficult language of tent building, know how to knock a peg out of the ground and not break my shin in the process and completely disassemble a ride that 1 hour earlier held the flailing limbs and screaming heads of those you hold most dearly. I am a carnie. I have been transformed into a full-fledged gypsy of sorts and yes, I can sneak into your caravan park to use your shower at 6 a.m., tip-toe through your backyard to make a shortcut from the main road and of course I will beg, borrow and steal my way to find a public bathroom that is more than just a metal commode sans the TP. I have gotten good at making $2 meals taste like they were $20, killing spiders bigger than my palm without so much as flinching and finding ways to amuse myself without such luxuries as a radio, TV, internet connection or any other form of human interaction. What this all means to you is nothing, but to me, every single day has been an invaluable experience that has added to this crazy thing we call life.
I count myself lucky to have been part of it all.

I befriended Asians, Estonians, Germans, Australians and the English, got a mohawk in the middle of the night with no lights to even see if the thing was straight and bought a $50 journal that I have yet to write in because I am so terrified to destroy the perfectly etched and gold-gilded pages. I can't get the dirt out of my work clothes, remain calm when a child cries from losing and must choose between either a wrestler wearing a singlet that says "Dude Love" or a small duck whose eyes have been glued on upside down and still yet, I remain even calmer when a parent gets in my face and calls me nothing more than just some "American cheater."

As I said before, I am a true carnie in every sense of the word. Watch out, because we will be coming to a town near you in 2012.
Enough of all that though. You want to know how I have been. What's the sticky? The dish? The heavy? Well, after finishing with my final gig, a Christmas pageant in Perth city where I chucked kids 8-years and under down a Giant Super Slide which was just a little too slippery and a bit, how shall I put this, dangerous (let's just say kids left pieces of skin behind) my English friends and I departed for Bali, Indonesia.
The trip, a huge culture shock, seeing as it was my first time in an Asian country, was amazing. I ate great food, saw temples, mingled with locals and made some really dear friends. I bartered for sarongs, drank $1 bottled beers and even took a cooking class in a village that I had to ride a bike to get to. I saw blessings of the sea, offerings to the Gods and a Barong and Kris dance that would have made any ancient devil blush. 12 days in paradise is what that was, but allow me not to wet your taste-buds, I will just show you some of the 1,000 photos I took once I return....until then.

So, we're caught up are we? It's now present day. Yes, I know I said the carnival work was all finished, but I have decided to stay on for a couple more runs. The next work, which begins December 28th, will have me stationed at Hillary's Boat Harbour in Perth. Set on the beach, I work from noon until about 10 p.m. four days a week. I look after rides and games and generally get paid to sunbathe. Not a bad deal, huh? Only downside is I am no longer living in the caravan and need to pay for accommodation. Booo! After this month of work, I will travel to Australia's East Coast and visit scenic Sydney and Melbourne for one month. After this time, I will return to Perth and again, live in the caravan for seven weeks and travel to different small towns in different parts of Western Australia. I know, I know. You're shaking your head and thinking "How can he sign on to do all of this again?" Well, I have thought long and hard and let's just say $600 a week and free accommodation in the caravan again is a fairly good deal. I need the money. They need a carnie. And after all this, we shall part ways.

Now,I had planned to save all that moeny and return to Europe for a brief stint, but after my taste of the Asian culture, I hope to take a month long trip in May to Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Fiji. Yes, I know again you must be thinking I am crazy. But what's life without a little adventure? As my famous aunt Christen would say, "Live life with gusto." And let's just say if I had any more gusto I could make a mean pasta dish and feed a small, third world country (Hey, maybe like Indonesia!).

So that's it. That's my story and now you know where I have been over the last month or so. Don't get sad or cry, because I will post again and hopefully it won't be such a long pause between this update and the next one (however, I find myself always promising this). Oh, and about Christmas! Fear not, I am celebrating with my two friends and their family, so I will not be alone. So just think, while you are shoveling snow and trying to find a winter coat that doesn't have dried snot on it, I will be wearing a santa hat on the beach.


Alright all, love and goodnight. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and see you in wet and wonderful 2012! <3