Sunday, January 25, 2009

a brief outline of four weeks of mayhem and explosions

I have tried to begin writing this entry several times. Far too many things have happened to cover adequately.

Just after my last report, I went to a music festival to cook for a band of cabaret performers. They gave me a ticket that would normally cost 280 bucks and all I ended up really doing on the culinary front was cut up a few tomatoes and wash some dishes. I was happy to let them paint my face and dress me up in goofy costumes and then wander around terrorizing people and helping promote their show, “the non-linear bohemian guide to love.” Probably the coolest part of the festival was this thing:

Basically if you can’t tell from the picture it’s a tennis court but with a giant wire and paper Mache dome in the center. It makes for a game of lobs and shouting ‘service,’ since you can’t actually see your opponents. Anyway, a few days I was about ready to run off and join the circus.

But I ended up leaving early to come back to Sydney for a hectic New Year celebration. Lots of people and flashy fireworks.

I got to do a bit of body-boarding (boogie) up in Terrigal with my boss, I would have rather given surfing another crack, but just had to work with the equipment on hand (body-boards and fins). There happened to be some sort of kids’ Australian triathlon going on with all these ‘nippers’ clad in bright suits and swim caps running up the beach, paddling boards and swimming through fierce surf and occasionally capsizing.

The Sydney Festival kicked off on the 10th with a bunch of free concerts. ANZ bank was handing out thousands of light sabers for the hordes of revelers. It left us wondering why a bank would give weapons to a mob of 300,000 people. I caught Grace Jones among the throng in the Domain. She was a James Bond villainess in A View to a Kill and apparently has a music career as well.

The next weekend I went on this tour of the Hunter Valley and got to hand feed port Jackson sharks, eagle rays, and some other cartilaginous sea creatures, go on a dolphin cruise and surf down some massive sand dunes (which by the way isn’t anything like snow boarding, though I think I’m equally bad at both). Hunter Valley is renowned for its wines and I got to taste quite a few of them at the cellar door along with some cheese and chocolate as well.

It was a bit tough getting back into work after the break, but training up some new talent helped me get back into the swing. I led another week-long travel trip. This time to the south: Wollongong, Gouburn, Nowra, Kiama, Batemans Bay. We ended up working a bit too hard for my liking. This Irish guy was absolutely voracious (when he wasn’t suffering from heat stroke) and helped set the pace. Last month I had the second-best fundraising results in the country: 52 signups. Some jerk down in Melbourne beat me by one, while the third place performer only had 39. I already have 48 this month with four more shifts to go. If I don’t take the title this time I reckon this new leprechaun will. He’s got the gift. A few people I was particularly proud of joining: a nuclear physicist concerned about the hard-line anti-nuclear energy stance held by many environmental organizations (including TWS as far as I know), a marketing student who complimented me on doing a good job, and a man who after saying ‘no’ and walking away, came back five minutes later to fill out the form and tell me he had schizophrenia (oh the irony).

I’ve got about three more weeks on this work visa. One of them will be spent on another travel trip. After that I’m off to Kiwi land for an unknown amount of time to do unknown things. I’ll miss Sydney for sure, but happy to be off on a new adventure in a new country.

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