Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hello, it's me again

I'm fresh back from my two week long wedding number two/ friend and family reunion/ introduce the Aplins to America trip in Hawaii, and then a second mini'moon to Melbourne, and I'm ready to delve into something psychologist's call a counterphobic mechanism. Being away from everyday life for three weeks and watching my bank balance slowly dwindle and then drift into overdraft nearly twice has started to crystallize one of my biggest fears to date: that I will be a loser with no career, abilities of worth, or contribution to society.

First, let me explain my overdraft situation, as it totally relates to my job hunt. While I was in Maui for the first leg of the trip I was contacted by a fellow destination wedding (Hawaii) bride online. (I frequent a website famous (or perhaps infamous) for bringing brides together to help each other plan their wedding's.) We were discussing job prospects for new graduates in an open forum when I shared my experience of job hunting so far and she wrote privately to me asking if I might be interested in a job opportunity to help develop an Amazon.com-like venture in Australia. I certainly would! I am continually lamenting the lack of an Amazon-ish service down under. We spoke on the phone and I forwarded her my resume to give to her husband who is a business partner in California, originally from Hawaii, and looking for potential employees in Australia. Him and I spoke shortly and arranged a long phone interview for later in the week, when we'd be staying on Oahu.

Fast forward to the interview during which he offered to call me but I said don’t worry about it, and our nearly 2 hour "discussion" (read: one-way conversation) during which he unsuccessfully tried to convince me to buy into a pyramid scheme. (Amway global anyone?) I knew things were awry when phrases such as “Australia is so technologically ahead of the U.S. and “I know everyone has had digitally recorded satellite TV over there for years" were dropped. (Hold up. Wrong…. and wrong.) But I couldn't get a word in during his speech. I almost laughed when his crescendo was, “Remember when you had dreams in college? Dreams that you'd get a great job and soon own that Lamborghini? Well now you can remember those dreams again.” Oh yes, I remember thinking: I can't wait to have a $1,000,000 salary so that I can spend half of that on a car that I won't be able to drive because I don't "do" manual. Um, newsflash, I have a psych degree, lots of self deprecation, and while I may have a dash of narcissism, I obviously lack the grandiose ideation necessary for this fantasy. What a flipping moron. (Mini-tangent: My dream car is only like $25,000 in the U.S. anyway: Volkswagen Beetle.)

Anyway, he tried to convince me that I should begin selling flavored sport-enhancing water and energy bars to my friends and family and that, with enough effort I could make about $10,000 a year through this. (While also making monetary contributions to the company for the "opportunity" or something like that.) I tried to explain that here in Australia, we get paid to work, we don't pay for the "opportunity" to work. (Well, except for my run-afoul internship that I paid to do here in Adelaide, but we won't go there, and besides I did receive university credit for that.) He asked me something like this, "If I asked you to drink 4 cans of Coke a day, and sell 4 cans a Coke a day to friends for $10,000 a year, would you say yes?" And I said, "no I wouldn't. I don't like Coke, it's bad for you, and it's not worth $10,000 a year to do that." His reply: "Most people would say yes to that." Sir, I applaud your fantastic salesmanship. Or not. (I only wonder how much money he actually makes from doing this, and if his wife-to-be really knows what he does for a living...)

Well anyway, moving on to my phone charges from my hotel in Oahu. Unbeknowst to me, they were charging me $11.87 per minute to calls to the mainland U.S. and $6.00 per minute to calls to anywhere on the island of Oahu. Yes, you read that correct. Twelve DOLLARS PER MINUTE. I flipped a gasket. (Is that even a phrase anymore?) How about this: I freaked the f out.

Up until this point in our trip I had kept mum about the craptacular room we were placed in. Here's why:

That is the view from our room.

That, and the fact that a lovely lovely friend of mine had managed to get us a discount of about $400 per night OFF. (It's a 5 star hotel in the heart of Waikiki, normally priced at $550 and up a night.)

But, we'd had a few problems with the room:

A) a pube on a hand towel was found when I went to use the bathroom for the first time.

B) The entire bathroom smelled like urine, and would not go away. I had to light a candle in the bathroom to try to overpower the scent. Then it smelled like fruity urine.

C) The shower/tub combo would not drain properly so I had to take all my showers in about 4 inches of water. In a bathroom that smelled like piss. Gave me the WILLIES.

D) The exhaust fan in the bathroom was broken, and as my husband and I are quite a "private" couple with regards to bathroom noises, this was displeasing. Also, my husband discovered black mold directly above the shower head as a result of the broken exhaust fan.

All in all, I could totally deal with these issues especially given our steep discount, and the view was spectacular. But then, my debit card went on hold. I couldn't figure out why because I had really budgeted for the trip and I knew I had at least a G left in my bank. I tried to log-on to my internet bank from the room, but after I paid $15 for a DAY'S usage of the internet, the internet died. (Think: the day the music died, but worse.) We eventually went downstairs and I had to ashamedly ask to see the room bill so far just to see if they'd accidentally charged us the full rate, etc.

Well, it turns out they were holding my card for $1500 OVER the estimated cost of the room for 5 nights. When I asked why they were doing this, and if they could reverse it they could not. Further inspection however led us to find $630 of calls on our room bill. $630!!!!!!!!!!!!! (This was on day three of our stay in Oahu.) Our total stay for 5 nights was not going to be much more than that figure.

Irate, I managed to call a conference with the manager and discuss all the shortcomings of the hotel that I had let slide. I told him that I pay 2 cents per minute to call the exact opposite side of the world using my calling card, and that I do not expect to pay 6-12 dollars per minute any where else. I told him that I made numerous phone calls from my more expensive, more private resort on Maui and my total call charges for 7 nights stay were $25.00. He tried to tell me that it was stated on the phone what the call charges are. And if not on the phone then in the room's literature. It was nowhere, I assure you, and I assured him. My husband also mentioned that to watch a movie in your room you are asked "would you like to pay $15.00 for this movie, yes or no?" As you should be asked, "This one minute phone call to your friend will cost 12 bucks, are you ok with that?"

After all this, he eventually took some of the phone charges off. I paid about $250 in the end for the phone charges. I'm pretty thankful to have the $400 something removed so we'll just leave it at that. Also, my friend asked me to "keep things quiet" regarding my dissatisfaction with the hotel, and unsure of what that means... I just won't name which hotel we stayed at... unless people want to know where I don't recommend you stay in Oahu. :)

In any case, after all that drama I was feeling pretty down on myself for being so stupid as to end up listening to this a-hole go on for 2 hours on the phone. On the bright side, I put myself out there for a possible opportunity. On the dark side, I've been doing that for.... 18 months now and I'm still waiting.

Thus we come to: counterphobic mechanisms. This is a psychological process whereby your subconscious steers you towards that which you most fear. For me, at the moment, I think one of my biggest fears is that I will end up working at McDonalds. (If you're American, you know what I mean.) In order to get things back into order, it is said, that you should imagine the absolute worse case scenario or outcome of your current path and this should help you realize that things really aren't all that bad, etc.

Ok here we go: I can't figure out what to do with my life so I continue flailing about helplessly until I'm so overcome with grief and disgust that I end up working at McDonalds.

No but really, I'm still working on this one...

I'm currently applying for a few jobs (including a perm position where I currently work) and will be starting a 7 month part-time course in Make-up Services in July, and doing something is better than doing nothing, right? (I still have my regular job, but it's casual, and I'm earning a lot less than when I was doing admin.)

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's 15 minutes till Midnight on a Monday

and I'm home alone so... I started to clean "the back bedroom."

Contents of a backpack I last used on my trip to move to Australia: Euro coins, English pence, and American pennies, tampons with applicators (an unheard of amenity over here, ok they do have them but they come in gigantic grandma (read: not cool) containers and they have cardboard applicators so I don't buy them), an assortment of 15 pens and mechanical pencils from a time when I used to study, a plug used to convert U.K appliances to European, a clock from my dad that has the world time zones on it and "go army", a long lost necklace from a German bazaar, and a broken luggage lock.

Sad times it was. Normally I see all this crap and it doesn't phase me but today it's a bit different. I've lived here for a year and a half .... and that has kind of been my maximum limit per country for..... 8 years? let's see:

11th and 12 grade- Germany
first year uni -London
second year uni- rural Illinois (a country of it's own, really, surrounded by a sea of corn and filled with people I like to refer to as "midwesterns in the mist" (see: Diane Fossey's Gorilla's in the Mist to get an idea of how I felt living there)
third year uni- Italy
last year uni- Illinois
Age 22-23 - Australia

time for a change!!!!

Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I just watched Vicky Christina Barcelona tonight and it reminded me of when I went there with a group of good friends and roommates. (And by "went there" I don't mean that we had a threesome with some Javier, I mean "traveled to Barcelona".) Not that Barcelona is a particularly amazing town, no offense, but I loved Southern Spain with Sevilla and Jerez way more. But that was because I had my own personal tour guide who is Spanish (well, half anyway, his dad was American) and showed me all the great places to go to and where to eat :) Thanks Thomas!

I've been a little down on myself for thinking that Europe is the center of the world for a while now, but I just met someone here who thinks America is where it's at, and that kind of put it in perspective for me. Also, Thomas from Spain, which I long considered the most perfect place in the world to live, (HELLO siestas!) now lives in Turkey with his girlfriend. When we went to college together in London, he would always lament how he wished he lived in Germany (where I spent my summers at home with my parents) and I would talk about how I wanted to live in Sevilla.

I think some of us just want to explore. Here's to hoping I get to see and do most of what I'd like to....