Monday, November 7, 2011

Pirate and the never-ending quest for a job part 4

Ok, so here's the script with what's going on with me regarding the employment situation.

At the one year mark I decided ok I love Australia maybe I was a bit hasty fucking my whole science career in the bin. The science jobs over here are plentiful and better paid than back home let's see what I can do. So I applied for a million science jobs with I'd say about 4 I could do no problem hands down with my experience, maybe 10 if they were willing to train me a bit and one that I was absolutely perfect for. So I was a bit shocked when I got the knock-back from all but one. Anonymous emails, thanks but no thanks. Really? Wow. So I called up one lady for feedback, for the job that I really, really wanted and spent at least two hours applying for. She told me that because I am on a temporary Visa (working holiday subclass 417) they cannot give me a permanent position. It was as simple as that. It did not matter that next year I intend to apply for a permanent Visa the bottom line is I just can't have it. I asked her if I would have gotten an interview had I been in possession of a permanent Visa and she said “Yes of course”. OK, no problem just have to put the science career on hold for the moment until I can get myself sorted with a more permanent Visa. I went for one interview for a haematology based job and did really well at the interview, the guy called me up and said sorry we gave it to someone with more suitable experience but here is my science buddy's email send your resume to him his lab does what you've been doing. So apart from actually getting the job that's the next best outcome. So, back to the drawing board.

So science is on hold what else can I do in the meantime? Bar work – plenty of experience but no badge (a legal requirement in Oz when dealing with pokie machines – that's puggies to you folks back home). I applied for my badge ages ago and they quoted me 6 weeks but unfortunately it is taking longer (they hadn't even uploaded my application to the system when I called a week ago!) than expected due to the “high number of applications”. Sake, give me a job in your office and I'll get them rattled out!! Pay someone overtime! Meh.

I am also registered with every science recruitment agency in Adelaide (as well as every other recruitment agency) and about a month ago they called me and said there was a chemistry based job and would I be interested it was only a 4 month contract. I said sure sign me up. To cut a long story short I rang them up 2 weeks after our initial conversation and they said the company didn't want me as I didn't have enough experience. Now, as I understood it I was going to be weighing cement for a mining thingyumy and doing pH stuff. As a scientist I am quite capable of weighing powders accurately and did pH titrations every day. The company was concerned as I had no experience “in a production” environment. Now, if the people at the recruitment agency had actually bothered to read my resume they would see that I have 3 years experience as a scientist and 1 years experience in a FACTORY, PRODUCING silicon wafers (level 10 clean room no less). However, this is the same lady that read this paragraph of my resume


Magpie Farm, Mylor (Voluntary) Adelaide May 2011-Present
Helping produce organic vegetables
Weeding and conservation work
Looking after animals including ponies

and actually said “So I see you worked on a magpie farm that's really interesting because, you know, magpies are pretty evil swooping at your head and all”. I swear it was all I could do to keep my jaw at a normal level but she saw the “Oh my god I can't believe how stupid you are why am I wasting my time in this office” look in my eyes and quickly changed the subject.

Anyway, the same recruitment agency called me up about a week ago and asked me if I would be interested in being a chicken farmer. Having worked for 4 months volunteering on a farm growing vegetables I figured I could probably do it so I just laughed and said sure sign me up. I went for the interview the following week and huzzah yeah I got the job I would be asked back the following week for training in how to both handle chickens and spot what the company was looking for. Now, I had these romantic ideas about me driving round all these idyllic little farms (just like the one I work on) with all these nice elderly people working on them and wandering around picking up adorable little chickens which I have named and asking them “hey how are you today Belinda got any eggs for me? How's the kids? Hey Frank did you sort things out with Pedro? He been kicking at you again? How's that busted foot?”. Hmm... not quite. I would be driving to a “farm” which was actually just a massive shed filled with angry distressed chickens and walking straight into the middle of them while they crapped all over me to grab them and check that they are not scratched, that their wings aren't busted etc etc oh, and also to count the runts that get pushed to the perimeter where there is little or no food. I got back from the interview with the stench of chicken shit in my nostrils (the interviewer took us out to chicken Auschwitz where they lifted crates of chickens onto a conveyor belt which then dumped them into the chamber to be gassed and then they move along the conveyor belt and are strung up for the next part of the process which thankfully, I didn't see) and hastily applied for about 15 jobs. The very next day I got a call from a guy about the job I was least interested in. He asked if I was available to go to a group interview the following day. I said sure (anything's got to be better than chickens, right?)

So I parked the car on King William Street and went along for the group interview. I sat in a room with 14 other people and listened to the companies bullshit for over an hour. I didn't buy it at all. I knew I had the job though even before I left as the guy kept saying things like “we're looking for people with very specific goals” and looking right at me. I clearly stated all the way through the interview that I was a scientist and the only reason I applied in the first place was because I wanted to save up for a Visa. Oh oh, spaghetti-ohs. I went back to the car 20 minutes late and I had a parking ticket which if I had got there 2 minutes earlier could have avoided. Fuck. Sake. Later that day the guy called me and said congratulations you got the job training starts tomorrow and Friday then your first day is Monday. See you tomorrow. Happy happy joy joy anything's got to be better than chickens, right?

So I attended two days of training where they feed you all this info about the company and the product and groom you (yes, groom, not train, there is something very seedy about the whole process) in sales technique. Now, I am aware that these types of companies do sue people so I will not name or discuss details. Hypothetically speaking let's say I started working for an electricity retailer. Now, also hypothetically speaking let's say my job was to chap door to door and try to steal people away from their current electricity retailer with the promise of saving money. My sales pitch does not go “Hi, I'm Claire from The corporate whore electricity company. We would like to steal your business how does a discount off your electricity sound?” Of course not, if you give people an option they will say no as they just want you off their property. Hypothetically speaking, a possible sales pitch that may work is to say that the area has been approved for a reduction and you just have to look at their bill to see if they qualify. Very clever. Most people don't remember which company they are with or even realise that you are not their company. However, the few that do get really annoyed when they realise what you are up to. One guy slammed the door in my face.

The girl I shadowed for 3 hours did everything that we were told in training NOT to do. She misled the customers, avoided questions and twisted the truth. Not once did I hear ANYONE mention the cancellation fees to a customer. They were quick to point out if the customer was on a plan where they could swap to us without penalty but didn't mention the cost of changing their mind after your ten day legal right to change. In the 3 hours we suckered an old man. To be fair though someone had already been around as he had already started the process. He brought us a letter from our company so we just went in for the kill. I felt ill hypothetically sitting in this mans kitchen (you are told not to go in to peoples houses but go in. They constantly contradict themselves in training. LEGALLY don't do this but to be successful hint hint this is what you do) listening to him talking about his dead wife looking at all his little trinkets that I wanted to gouge out my eyes. Another person had a sign at the door which I was instructed to ignore as it was from a rival company. The man explained that he didn't pay his bills, his bills were paid for him and he didn't mind which company he was with. The girl tried very hard to persuade the man to change as it was cheaper but he persisted and said that as his wife was terminal with leukaemia he wasn't interested. I jumped in straight away and said “I'm so sorry to hear that” and she got the hint and we left. She asked me what the man said and what it had meant and I had to explain to her that the man's wife was dying of cancer and she should probably mark down on her sheet to NEVER bother them again. I suppose being from a different country and not speaking english as your first language has its benefits.

After a day of being yelled at (fuck off you irish cunt!), having doors slammed in my face, people saying I dont have a problem with you personally but I hate sales people, and having to listen to the constant happy yammerings and encouraging sales talk from my team leaders and the big boss man I burst into tears on the side of the road. Fuck. This. Shit. These people don't give a fuck about me. They don't give a fuck about anyone. The only reason they are interested in me is because the team leaders get money every time I make a sale and the big boss man gets money every time everyone makes a sale. Dont pretend to be my best friend when I have just met you. Respect is earned and it takes time to build friendship. I HATE FALSE PEOPLE.

When I went home in the van looking miserable I could see that the girl team leader didn't like me. She made a point of saying in the van that 100% attendance was required so everyone gets a ticket to the draw for the trip to Las Vegas or Thailand, if you have a day off you need a medical certificate. Very very clever, one person fucks up they fuck it up for everyone. I was thinking to myself fuck you bitch I'll go one better and hand in my resignation that way none of you scumbags will miss out on the draw. Cunts.

I went in early this morning to hand in my resignation and give back my uniform. The team leader girl at the front desk asked in her brain-washed positive best smile face how I did on my first day. I said “I quit”. She looked genuinely surprised. “But why?” I said it wasn't for me. She said “But the money's fantastic”. BAM!! In my head I was jumping over the counter and punching her.

People sell lies to people, they push themselves on them, they weasel their way in, they make false promises and they take advantage. They do not care about whether the person needs or wants it, after all you are just doing your job and if the brainwashing has been successful enough you genuinely believe your product is good for them. In fact if the brainwashing is successful enough you believe everyone who doesn't sign up is an idiot. You don't see people anymore you see an opportunity for dollars. You see new shoes, a new car, a holiday (a visa!). You see personal gain at others expense. This is everything that is wrong with society and I will have no part in it. I will find another job and I will save up for my Visa honestly and not at other's expense. These people may be able to sleep at night and lie to people and themselves but I can't. I'd rather be poor and happy and proud of who I am than have money and hate myself. The search continues.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Roller derby saved my soul

It's the day after the grand final and I am absolutely wiped out! God I miss having a bath! Nothing presses the reset button quite like a roasting hot bath. I feel elated and deflated at the same time. Roller derby battles always make me emotional. It's hard to explain, but I'll do my best – roller derby changed my life.

In order for people to fully appreciate what roller derby means to me I'll need to go into some background about my “derby career”. I have never been particularly interested in playing sports, I'm not the athletic type and at school I was tiny (still am! lol) and always picked last. I preferred singular pursuits such as reading or writing. All this changed in 2008 when a friend of mine asked me to come along to watch her play roller derby with the Glasgow Roller Girls. I had never heard of it and had no idea what to expect but I went along with my bottle of “cola” (buckfast) anyhow keen to find out what it was all about. I was absolutely blown away, never before had I even shown the slightest bit of interest in sport and here I was actually getting excited! My friend suggested I join their team and train with them but it was a few months before I summoned the courage to go. My first time at skate practice I could hardly stand without wobbling but by the end of the first session I was happily whizzing round and having a laugh. Not bad for someone who's never roller-skated in her life! That day I became addicted to roller derby. 

 Lola Bruises, my friend who introduced me to derby. The skater formerly known as Troublegum, formerly formerly known as Mean Queen Ketamine!

I started skating in January 2009 and I think I had been going to training for about 5 weeks when my life was turned upside down. Not many people know this about me, or everyone does and it is just not spoken about but in February 2009 my mother was murdered. Needless to say this fucked me up for a long time (and still does). My whole life as well as my derby career was temporarily halted while I dealt with a maelstrom of police, lawyers, family liason officers etc., etc. There was a lot of other things going on at that point in my life as well, I held down my full-time job as a scientist whilst also supporting my unemployed boyfriend and trying to hold together the shattered remains of my family. I'm not going to talk about all that here as this blog is about roller derby and it is a happy one I promise I just cant get my point across properly without providing all the background info. So sit tight, it gets better!

So, my mother died and I had to put derby on hold for a while. After a month or two (I cant remember exact details that whole year is a blur) I returned intermittently and attended training. I enjoyed leaving Claire and all her troubles behind and becoming Pirate Cut-lass, a ruthless girl who didn't give a fuck about anything and could be as angry as she wanted to be. In fact she was encouraged to channel all that fury and hit people, hit people, hit people. I didn't always feel like it, I couldn't always do it but hell I enjoyed giving it a bloody good go and for two or three hours twice a week I felt alive again. And if I turned up to practice and didn't want to skate, just wanted to be with people instead of sitting at home alone, I was welcomed with open arms and friends would offer to take me to the pub afterwards to talk it out. I can't state enough how important this little slice of normality was to me at this point in my life. 

 My tartan team helmet!

 The best t-shirt in the land!

In September 2009 I was appointed captain of Glasgow's B-team – the Maiden Grrders. It was my proudest moment that year and the highlight of the year was leading my team to victory against Edinburgh's B-team the Cannon Belles. The game was fantastic, the after-party was even better and I felt genuinely happy. 

 The Maiden Grrders September 09

 We skated out to "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys. It was epic.

However, the joy was short-lived as the next cruel disaster hit me like a tornado. The week before our second game against the Romsey Town Rollerbillies my idiot boyfriend broke my foot. Not even a proper break but the bone in the centre was chipped and displaced. I was sent home from the hospital without even crutches to aid me, my friend had to fireman's lift me up the three flights of stairs to my flat. So now I was grieving and stuck in my flat. I couldn't make it to work and I couldn't play roller derby. I couldn't obsessively clean my house and organise and re-organise my things. All of the little things I did to keep myself from going insane were denied to me. Hell, I couldn't even pour myself a glass of water and carry it to the living room. I hit rock bottom. And to add insult to injury I had to watch my team get beat by one point in an overtime jam.  Fucksticks!

 Guess which one I broke? ;)
 Ragin boats!
 Mega bruise

I attended the fracture clinic for months, had several x-rays taken while the doctors and specialist argued over the best way to treat my foot. The fracture clinic guy said leave it alone it will heal by itself and the surgeon said I would need an operation to pin my foot back together. Awesome, I mean, it's not like that's two completely opposite viewpoints with intense ramifications on my life now is it? Anyways, I didn't get an operation and my foot did indeed heal by itself. SLOWLY.

6 long fucking months later and I tentatively returned to derby. However,it was too soon, I could tell when I attempted to plow stop. The pain in my foot was incredible. I was enraged and so frustrated. I despaired thinking that I would never be able to play again. I was so desperate to get back as everyone I had started with had now surpassed me and I began to worry that I wouldn't even manage a spot on the B-team now the competition was so fierce. My friend told me to be patient, just a little longer and my foot would properly heal and I could skate again. I refused to be beaten and I followed her advice and indeed when I returned in March I could skate again. Things were beginning to look up! So, obviously, life decided to throw me another upset, you know, because I used to be Hitler in a past life or something.

I returned from a holiday to Japan to the news that my boyfriends mother had died. About a year after my mother died. Wow. Cue total meltdown. It was about this time that I became a raging alcoholic. My routine went a bit like this; get up, go to work, come home, drink until you pass out. Except on the weekend where I skipped the go to work step. I just couldn't cope with the shit hand I'd been dealt. Oh yeah, remember when I said this would be a happy blog, well I'm trying but unfortunately that year of my life was a bit shit and no amount of sugar coating is gonna make it taste any sweeter. However, I've kept the rubbish bits to the bare minimum and I promise a happy ending so please keep reading.

I turned into a bit of a robot, I was still the same person but just hiding in a protective shell and self-medicating with alcohol. Luckily for me I had amazing friends who looked after me including my GRG friends who invited me out with them and came round with cake. Cake is good. 

 Skating in Queens Park with Mirjam

Two months later I was invited to play with the Grrders again at the Highland Fling, Scotland's first derby tournament. What an amazing feeling – my team needed me. This meant so much to me, I still had so much shit going on in my personal life. I was absolutely over the moon and rushed the last minute preparations and joined my gorgeous GRG ladies for a glorious weekend of derby. Glasgow came 1st and 3rd, only losing the 2nd place to Edinburghs A team. A bloody good effort and a fantastic weekend I will never forget. It's a chance to lose yourself, to become someone else, to take part in something spectacular, to connect with your teammates and create magic and above all to laugh and party with the opposition afterwards.

 Me and The Bandit! Ayayayay
 Highland Fling May 2010

I am also a champion fort builder and this is a jail we built for Jeffrey

In June I went to New York with BamBam and we skated with the Long Island Roller Rebels. One of the girls that skates with them, Point N Shoot invited us to stay with her and she took us out to bars and showed us a really good time. What other sport in the world does this? It's amazing. Any skater, regardless of ability, whether they are beginner, seasoned skater or derby superstar can contact a league anywhere in the world and they will be welcomed, housed and more often than not have a whole bunch of awesome stuff to do mapped out for them before they even get there. We also popped into Five Stride skate shop while we were there. After a chat with OMG WTF of Gotham she advised me that the R3s I skated in were too wide for my feet and I would need a narrower skate. I bought the skates she recommended and about 4 pairs of wheels!! I couldn't wait to get back home to try them out. What a difference it made to my skating having skates that fitted me properly. It was such an amazing transformation! I continued to skate with the GRG right up until I left the UK in September 2010 but sadly we didn't have any more bouts scheduled.

 Chatting with OMG WTF in Five Stride Skate shop

 The Long Island Roller Rebels

 When Jeffrey met Quadzilla

I arrived in Australia the end of September, having needlessly missed the Grand final by a day. If only my brain hadn't melted and I actually knew how to work numbers and sort dates etc. Oh well! For the first few months I struggled to be excited about derby in Australia as it was “off-season” - a concept I was unfamiliar with. I was absolutely choking for a game as I hadn't played a bout since May! I didn't attend many sessions as I struggled with the unstructured practice sessions but I did attend the freshmeat sessions regularly as I thought it was a good idea to brush up on my basic skills and get to know people a bit better. I was quiet, shy, very under-confident and didn't have much faith in myself. I couldn't get used to the slippery floor and this upset me so much as I felt like I was starting at the bottom and working my way up again.

However all this changed when the season began in January and I was given a spot on a team – the Road Train Rollers. I have to admit that this was the team I would have chosen if I was given a choice purely because all of the people I met in my first few months in Oz and partied/hung out with the majority of them were Roadies. Over these past few months I have really got to know these girls. We've partied, we've danced, we've drank, we've laughed and we've trained hard. These girls (as well as the other teams and skaters in the league, but especially my honey badgers) have been so encouraging and so good to me I've felt my confidence slowly creeping back. It was evident in my performance yesterday. I felt good, I trusted my Roadie sisters and I went out as a jammer for the first time (in the grand final!) with faith in them to protect me and I smashed it. I got a grand slam! (I also massively stacked it and lost the skin on my left hip but shhh). Win or lose I didn't care, I just wanted to go out and play the best I could and make my team proud. I'm happy with that. The Salties deserved their victory and I'm so pleased my gorgeous wee Scotty Rogue goes home with a win under her belt. Mum, you never got to see me play but I know if you were there you would be shouting and screaming “That's my daughter, that's my Pirate” and drowning out everyone around you. I fucking love you and I miss your smile. I know you'd be so proud of all I have achieved this year. I might not have a job or a plan but I have found my feet again and I'm happy. Roller derby saved my soul.

 I <3 you Vince McMum

 Pirate Cut-lass, ADRD

I think the reason I love roller derby so much is because it gives me what I miss most – family.

My Roadie family (minus Hitgirl and Moxy) <3 you honey badgers

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pirate vs the pick-up truck of the ocean

Yeeeeeeyy so it's finally happening!! March this year my totally awesome little brother Kris hopped on a plane and flew to the other side of the world just to say "Happy birthday Pirate". I don't think anyone would argue with the fact that this is one of the greatest birthday presents in the history of the universe. May arrives and brings with it Kris's brithday. Now, how do I make his just as amazing as he made mine? I can't fly halfway round the world he's already here. OK, think Pirate, we're in Australia, what is there to do in Australia that you can't do at home that would be pure amazing and everyone back home would say "What the fuck, you guys are nuts!"?.  Cage-diving with sharks, ooooh yeah!

I get on it straight away furiously researching the internet for where and how I can make this happen. I stumbled upon Calypso Star Charters website and see that they are offering 1-day tours for $500. PERFECT!! They are, however, fully booked for the next few months and the earliest date I could get was Saturday 18th June. Fuck it let's go! I booked for myself and Kris to go diving and for my flatmate Noony to spectate. Now we play the waiting game.

Details can be found here

Friday 17th June

At last the day arrives when we leave for Port Lincoln. We set off about midday for the long drive ahead, stopping off at a friends house to drop off Bronson the muttley dog. As usual he gave us all a heart attack by attempting to jump out the window to savage a guy on a bike (he hates bikes). Panic over we deposit him for his playdate with Sam and woooo we're on our way!

 Kris, most pleased about imminent shark adventures


The journey was not exactly the most scenic of routes - brown ground, some trees, green grass, more trees, couple of buildings, more brown. However, there were plenty of bizarr-o sculptures to look at in various fields along the way including a giant bug wielding a pitchfork and a tin man. Vaguely reminiscent of the Wicker Man. Oooh, and there was a double rainbow.

 Honk honk!!

 I've been playing about with Instagram for Iphone

 I like it :)

Along the way we stopped and made a very quick detour. It had to be done.

(I actually took this pic on the way back)

Having seen the movie we wanted to sneak a quick peek and see if we could see the bank. We drove past and did indeed spy the bank (4 doors down from the police station!!) but I didnt take any pictures. (Not that I didnt want to it just wasn't easy from where I was sitting and Im fairly certain the people of Snowtown are sick of people swinging by and taking pics). My curiosity thus satisfied we continued our journey. For the people back home that haven't heard about this you can read about it here;

It was about this point in the journey that I realised how much of an idiot I am. It dawned on me that I had forgotten to pack something very important. Can you guess? I had forgotten to pack my bikini. Yes, readers. Cage-diving with great whites. No bikini. No towel either. *Facepalm. Oh well, I'll improvise and possibly steal the hotels towels.

Next stop Whyalla. This is where my flatmate grew up and he pointed out the schools he went to and the houses he lived in along the way. We made a quick stop at the shopping centre and Kris and I grabbed the worst Subway sandwiches I've ever eaten. Seriously, how hard is it to make a fucking sandwich? Anyway, we continued on with the journey. Driving during daylight was alright the view wasn't much to look at but at night all you could see was the road lit up in front of the car. They're not big on streetlights in Australia. It was a bit creepy.

We arrive at the Port Lincoln hotel about 8 in the evening. The hotel was a 4.5 star and our room had a balcony yeeeeaaah! I did not know you could get bunk beds in a hotel. After the obligatory jumping on the furniture and searching for stuff we can thieve we had tea and watched TV. Kris wanted to go to the bar but I told him no chance, not when we're going on a boat the next day. Catch some zeds.

 Jeffrey relaxing after the long drive 

  Bunk beds!

Saturday 18th June

Had to meet the peeps in the hotel lobby at 6.10am for our transfer to the boat. Jeffrey was going off his head at this point I had to put him in his special coat to calm him down. We were the last to arrive, everyone else was already there with cups of tea and the boat was packed. After some quick introductions we quickly settle down for some breakfast. For the first hour we are happily yakking and munching away and then all of a sudden the sea got a bit choppy. I'm sitting reeling from side to side thinking it was great as my tummy flipped over and over - I even threw my hands in the air like a big kid. However, as I turned to face Kris and Noony I realised they were both green looking and very quiet. Both of them had to grab sick bags and head outside to the "sick bay". The whole journey from the harbour to where we were doing the diving took 2 and a half hours. The guys were sick the whole way there. I thought it was hilarious for the first 10 minutes and then I felt really guilty thinking I'd killed them both as the whole trip was my idea. Kris, however is the funniest guy EVER. He was sitting outside next to Noony, both of them with sick bags in hand when he turns to Noony and says "HI I'M JOHNNY KNOXVILLE AND I'M GONNA BE SICK!!!" and promptly wharfs in his bag. Quality. :)

 Arrival on the boat

As we leave the harbour

Poor poor Kris. We almost ran out of sick bags

So we arrive at our destination and anchor the boat. I head outside and keek over the side . We've been there two minutes and already there are sharks circling the boat. Big fuckers as well!! The Calypso guys give us a chat about how we're gonna do the dive, safety instructions etc and start preparing the cage. They haven't even thrown any chum in the water yet and there's a massive shark hanging around. Glorious! We dive in groups of 4 so the first group gets their wetsuits on while we watch the crew try and bait the sharks. We see them swimming just under the surface and occassionally a fin would appear.

 Safety instructions

 Jeffrey. Blade just out of sight.



 The first group are now all kitted up and ready to rock and roll and they climb into the cage. 45 minutes later they emerge with happy excited looks on their faces. Only one shark to begin with but by the time they got out another had appeared. The second group hop in and we watch. Next up, me and Kris and another 2 guys.

Getting the wetsuit on was difficult as the boat was lurching all over the shop. I managed and then put on the wetsuit bootees. We grabbed goggles from the bucket and the crew fitted us with a weight belt so we didnt float. I got to wear two on account of me being the miniscule variety. Time to get in. This was for me the only worrying/scary part of the whole day. My only concern was that I couldnt walk easily with the weight belts on and the boat was lurching and the captain was holding the cage to the boat with a rope. What if I slipped trying to get into the cage and missed? I'd have to remove 2 weight belts underwater and swim up to be pulled up. All whilst sharks are circling the cage. Terrifying idea. Those sharks are fast! Anyway, clearly I am writing a blog after the event so obviously this did not happen but the thought did cross my mind. The other two guys are already in the tank, I'm up next and then it's Kris.

 Kris putting on his bootees

 Ready to go!!

I manage to clatter into the tank nae bother and the captain hands me my breathing gear. I have never been scuba diving or anything so I've never used this apparatus before. I have booked Kris and I a scuba diving lesson but it keeps getting cancelled due to the weather. I dunk my head under the water and breathe through the mouthpiece but it feels like it's catching in the back of my throat and I'm not getting enough air so I panic and have to come back up. It probably took me a good five minutes to get the hang of it but once I did it was easy. When I first climbed into the tank there were no sharks to be seen. The water was incredibly clear and we could see for miles just blue blue ocean. And if you looked down you could see a big shoal of silvery fish hanging around. I watch and sure enough Kris appears behind me. He had the same initial problem as I did with the breathing malarkey but he got the hang of it quicker than I did.

Sweet now it's time for the pick-up truck of the ocean. If you have ever heard Randall narrate nature vids here's his version of the great white. It's hysterical. And spot on.
I didn't take my own personal camera with me as I didn't want to drop it or lose it and I had hired the special underwater camera that Calypso had. Also, the cage was actually bumpier than the boat, it rattled you about a fair bit!! We had been told to hook our feet under the floor bar and hold on to the hand rail. I figured I'd probably need a hand free to not die. For ages I fiddled with the camera as it wasn't switched on and I had no idea how to work it as it was covered in about 7 silver buttons that all looked the same. I forgot I was even holding a camera when the first sharks appeared.

I cannot describe what it is like to watch the biggest beast of a killing machine suddenly appear from very far away and advance toward you grinning. It was just like the documentaries, it was just like on TV except I was FACE TO FACE. And he was a big big fucker and covered in battle scars and looked like the embodiment of evil. I wanted him as a pet. I'd call him Stitch-face and feed him roos. Anyways, there were loads of them. We were being circled by at least two with more lurking around and below the boat. The best of it was they kept coming really really close to the cage. They also attacked the cage frequently, munching on the corners and generally showing me what they had for nibbles 5 mins previously. I guess sharks are like mosquitos, they love pirates. Lucky for me I had shark Aeroguard ie a steel fucking cage. We arsed around taking underwater pics of us and the Irish guy took a pic of me and Kris together wearing our scuba gear with a shark in the background. The 45 minutes went by so quickly, way too quickly I could have stayed down there all day gazing at the pickup trucks of the ocean. However, all too soon it was time to get back up to reality.

We surfaced and got changed into our clothes. I had to borrow a towel but luckily the Calypso crew do carry spares in case they have an idiot on board. Unfortunately there was no hot water left for a shower but we were going back to the hotel so I wasnt that bothered. I got dressed and back on deck with my camera ready to snap some more sharks in action.

 Pirate <3s sharks

There were 3 more groups of people that had a shot in the cage and by the time it got to the last peeps the sharks were going nuts and went into some sort of frenzy. I seriously seriously wanted to be in the cage. For anyone who books this make sure you are in the last group of peeps - you will see the most sharks and the biggest sharks and the most frenzied fucked up blood thirsty sharks!


After the cage-diving the crew packed all the gear away, served us lunch and we happily munched all the way back to shore. The return journey was much calmer and the guys were not as sick on the way back, still not 100% but definately less green looking! We were given the opportunity to buy merchandise - t-shirts that said "I dived and survived", mugs, key-rings and stubby holders etc etc while the staff prepared the CDs of pics and the DVD of that days footage. I was impressed by the set-up they had it was like a well-oiled machine. We watched the video of the day - my favourite bit is where they ask Kris if he enjoyed himself and he answers "yeah it was fucking awesome man" to uproarious laughter from everyone on board.

Back on land and the taxi took us back to the hotel where we cleaned up and had dinner in the super swanky restaurant. The end :D

Dinner!! Tuna steak
 View from the balcony of the pool and the harbour

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pirate and her mental life

So there's a few questions I've been asked a lot recently. From my wonderful friends and family back home "When are you coming home?" and "What are your plans?", from my wonderful Australian friends "How long are you staying for?" and "What are your plans?". I shall endeavour to answer all of these questions in this installment of my blog and in doing so perhaps come up with some sort of concrete plan.

I shall begin with more questions. "Why Australia?" is the one Im asked most often, usually swiftly followed by "Why Adelaide?". There are  a number of reasons I chose Australia but the main one revolves around roller derby. Once there was a lovely lass named BamBam who came to Scotland on a working holiday Visa and skated with the Glasgow roller girls. She made friends with a girl named Pirate and they went to New York together. Then Pirate got a working holiday Visa for Australia and went and stayed with BamBam and skated with her and the Adelaide roller girls. Thats a highly simplistic view of events. There was a lot of things going on in my life at the time of my decision. Bear with me while I squidge 6 months worth of complicated life bullshit into one super exciting explanatory paragraph.

I had split up with my boyfriend of  a year and a half so there was no romance to stay for and any inklings of a possible romance with a person who shall remain anonymous will forever be filed in the "its so complicated it needs a blog of its own" (I did write a blog about this but I took it down out of respect for an ex. One day I will share again). I had just recently lost my job as a lab technician/cancer research assistant due to lack of funding and the idea of job-hunting in my field again even with experience this time round was soul-crushing.  Even my totally awesome flat, my glorious sanctuary where I could hide with my books and Dvds and art supplies was beginning to stress me out; the secure entry wasn't secure, a homeless guy moved into the cupboard at the bottom of the stairs, the junkies on the first floor set the place on fire, nosy fucker Rita next door suffered from some sort of mental disorder and was constantly chapping my door asking me who the man was that chapped my door at 2am (there was no man and even if there was its none of your fuckin business madam) and to top it off there were about 40 members of the same family living in the flat underneath me that kept me awake at night with get-together sing a-longs and up early at weekends for religious ceremonies with additional football related shenanigans. If I could have transported the flat elsewhere or booted everyone else in the close out it would have been perfect. (Not to mention I couldn't afford a two-bed flat in Glasgows Southside by myself and the letting agency wouldnt allow me to choose my own flatmate because they're DICKS) OK, so I was pretty much panicking wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life when a friend of mine (el Bandito) suggested we get working Visas for Australia and fuck off there for a while. Now, Australia doesn't let you into the country on a working holiday Visa after you turn 30. I guess because once you reach that age you start going to Ibiza for your holidays or something I dont know but anyway I was 28 and a half at the time I applied for my Visa. It just seemed that everything in life was pushing me towards Australia and I quickly came to the conclusion that I would be a complete shitebag if I didnt go.

That covers why Australia - No job, no home, no romance, no plans, no kids, nothing keeping me, ticking deadline for Visa. Next question - why Adelaide? I chose to start in Adelaide as I already had a contact in Adelaide and a place to stay. Also, I had a built-in derby connection as I could transfer to ADRD. The plan was always get to Oz, wait for Bandit to arrive, buy van , fuck off and tour Australia Thelma and Louise style minus the ending. So what happened? Well, when I first arrived I was a little out of sorts. I had a lot on my plate and in being a champion robotic coping machine I lost a bit of the spark of who I am. I was tee-total for my first couple of months in Adelaide (I know, right?!) as I had these idiot ideas that I was gonna run off into the sunset with a handsome anonymous (also, teetotal) man and live happily ever after. Turns out he was an asshole but I digress, IT'S COMPLICATED. To cap it all off, I had arrived just in time for "off-season" IE no roller derby for 3 months! Ouch! So I floundered for a few months trying to settle into my own skin again. I remember phoning my bestest mate Laura and greetin telling her I wanted to come home. She told me to hang in there. I also fired Bandit an SOS email and she told me that her mate got homesick around the 3 month mark and to just stick it out a bit longer. I wasnt ready to give up my dream just yet and Im a stubborn fucker - there was no way I was leaving Oz until Id given it my best shot. Lo and behold everything almost magically fell into place when I totally wasnt looking!

 I landed a job at the best rockingest pub in Adelaide!! I started drinking again (what Pirates are best at) and the derby season started, offering me happy fun times and a support network. All of a sudden I felt like me again and I was having the time of my life! After another month of waiting for the Bandit to arrive she emails me the best news ever - she isn't coming to Australia after all she is in fact off to San Diego to work at Sin City Skates and skate with the San Diego Derby Dolls. Fuck me. Bandit you are my hero and I wish you all the best in everything that you do and I cant even be disappointed because I am so fucking excited for you!!!! Anyway, that's enough about Bandit she can write her own blog ;) So where does this leave you Pirate I hear you ask. Well, I thought about it and I thought fuck it Im having a riot I shall go with the flow and see what happens. Adelaide is cool it reminds me of my hometown, the roller derby is awesome and the Fringe festival is about to begin. I have loads of friends and everything is great.

The arrival of the cavalry. I had been emailing my little brother since I left suggesting he come out to Australia for a holiday. He was in a similar situation to me having recently lost his job. I asked that he come out in time for my birthday and he agreed it was a glorious idea. I convinced him to get a one-year working Visa by the sound logic that once he was here, 3 months would go by so quickly and he would be gutted that he had to go home as you cant apply for a Visa once you are already in the country, it has to be before you leave.  Day before my birthday Kris arrives and the rest, as they say, is history. Needless to say that was in March and he is still here having just as much fun as I am.

Now, it is June and my one-year working Visa expires end of September. I don't want to go. I haven't seen much outside of Adelaide and Australia is a BIG place. I do not regret spending all my time in Adelaide as I have found myself (urgh I know bear with me) again. It is exactly where I needed to be and exactly what I had to do to move forward. I have been thinking for some time that I want to I need to I have to stay longer. I really really like it here. So... what are my options? I am currently on a one-year Visa but you can have it extended by another year if you go and do crappy work that no-one else wants to. Perfect, I do the work, apply for Visa 2 and buy myself an extension to come up with a more permanent plan.... I'm not saying I definately want to live in Australia forever but one thing I am sure of is I do not want to return home. (Not yet anyway).

So I abandoned all job-hunting (see previous blogs) in favour of something which satisfies the ridiculously highly specific Visa criteria. Now, you know all those facebook posts about me farming up in the Adelaide hills? Beginning to make sense now? To the peeps back home, I apologise but if I get my way I will not be returning this year. To the peeps in Australia, if I get my way I will be here to go exploring further and hopefully spend another season skating with ADRD. Fingers crossed, I don't ask for much - 2nd year in Australia here I come! (hopefully).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pirate and the Never-ending quest for a job part 3

So I called immigration as I couldn't make head nor tail of their thoroughly confusing website. You know those sites where you click the link and read then you have to follow another link and it just leads you round in circles back to where you started but without actually ever divulging the information you desperately seek? Yeah, one of those.

So I called for clarification. A nice gentleman answered the phone and I asked him how would one go about applying for a second working holiday Visa? He kindly explained to me that I have to work for a minimum of 88 days in a job that satisfies the selection criteria but is also in an area that satisfies the regional criteria. I can't fruit-pick in an area not on the list and I cannot bar-tend in an area that is acceptable, it has to meet both. He also explained that my honours degree is of no use to me whatsoever. Ah... grand.
OK. So I then go to the page of the website that further explains this using his directions (I would never have found this myself). Have a read at this.

I'm a bit horrified. I have no experience whatsoever in any of these fields. Although I am confident I could do any of them - what I lack in physical structure I make up for in abundance with sheer determination. I can do anything I put my mind to if only I get the opportunity. I now have to re-think my entire job-hunting perspective. Whilst the focus up until now has been to supplement my earnings with a romantic idea of a coffee shop it now seems I will have to put myself thoroughly out of my comfort zone . I am no stranger to hard work my only concern is the timescale. I have 6 months left in Oz and I have to do 3 months hard work. OH DEAR LORD I AM IN THE MIDDLE OF DERBY SEASON!!!

Hmm.. how can I work around this. My lovely friend and fellow derby enthusiast Busty suggested fruit picking in the Adelaide hills as it is close to home and would hopefully minimalise impact on derby related activities. I got right on it and found a website - all names have been changed.

*WARNING* the following conversation is of a disturbing nature with creep factor x 10. If you are easily offended/and/or scared skip this bit. My thoughts are in brackets - I did not speak these out loud).
Edgar: Hello, Edgar.
Me: Hi there, I am currently residing in Adelaide and I am looking for some work to count towards extending my Visa application. i see you are advertising fruit-picking jobs and I would like to apply please.
Edgar: What do you look like, height/build/fat/thin?
Me: (eeeerrr... what? I fail to see why this matters but OK I'll roll with it) I'm 5ft 3" and slim.
Edgar: Do you have any experience?
Me: Honestly, no, not fruit-picking but I'm sure I will learn quickly -  I am a very dedicated and hard-worker.
Edgar: OK the pay isnt very good...
Me: I'm not bothered I just want to stay in Australia, I'm happy to volunteer if it means I get a job
Edgar: Do you have a boyfriend? Not that it matters, I was just asking... I mean, why do you want to stay in Australia?
Me: (WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK) No I dont and I dont have one back home either I dont have much to go home to and I like it here Ive made lots of friends.
Edgar: OK well send me your resume and if you could send me a pic of yourself that would be helpful.
Me: (For what?! Your selection process? What the fuck does it matter what i look like?) Sure, no problem.
Edgar: I fired a girl recently as she just wasnt up to the job and I've got a couple of german girls working for me just now but they both finish tomorrow. How soon would you want to start?
Me: Oh, as immediately as possible (HOW ABOUT NEVER YOU FUCKING CREEP)
Edgar: Ok email me.
Me: Sure thanks bye.

So. Judging by the questions he asked and I may be way off track here but I reckon his deal is he picks girls he finds attractive and then if you want him to provide evidence to the visa people that you've done your 3 months you have to sleep with him. I could be incredibly wrong but I'm not really willing to pursue this in order to find out. I was considering sending him a pic of a leggy, blonde, tanned beauty to see if he picks me and then if he does turning up all short and pale and tattooed to see what his reaction would be. But I dont actually care that much.

Back to the drawing board. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pirate and the neverending quest for a job part 2

Todays blog will be about discrimination. I will lead into it gently but it is about DISCRIMINATION.

So today was my trial at the coffee shop. I skipped skate practice last night as I wanted to be fresh and preferably unbroken today! Normally I wouldn't miss it for the world but I was still aching from Sundays bout and I really really want this job.

I get up early and put on my $70 black long-sleeved shirt. I wouldn't normally ever spend that much on a shirt but it looks amazing, fits me well and the main thing is the sleeves are really long. Sometimes shirts ride up when you extend your arm and I can't have that or my wrist tats will keek out (shock horror). So yeah now to tackle my hair. I don't think I could get away with wearing a hat during a shift so I need to do something else. I can never ever ever be arsed doing anything with my hair hence why I shave half of it and style the other side like a birds nest - minimum effort. So, how to disguise my hair without using clever hat trickery? I decide to try and copy that rockabilly thing I've seen girls do with a bandanna. I get the shaved bit disguised and cleverly pin my remaining hair over as much of it as possible. It's a bit sloppy but for a first attempt its awrite.

Sweet, off to work! I arrive ten minutes early and inroduce myself and give a big smile. (All names have been changed to alternatives to protect identities and for my own personal amusement but this is the only false part of the story everything else is FACT). I met my boss Reginald and another co-worker Penelope and politely got on with learning how to do the job and yakking about myself. I like Reginald he reminds me of an ex-boss. He strikes me as very down to earth, friendly yet professional, hard-working and fun. All is going well I'm picking things up quick, I'm talking myself up with quiet confidence and I'm getting on well with everyone. Reginald asked to see me alone away from the customers and my immediate thought was "Crap I've only been here an hour I've mucked this up what did I do wrong?". We head upstairs and he begins by complimenting me on the way I'm dressed (I can recognise a compliment sandwich when I see it), it's smart yadda yadda, however (here it is), he would like me to take my ear-rings out as he would prefer me to look more like the way he's dressed and it's more professional. I think he may also have meant I was to do something with my hair but I was still in shock over the very idea of removing my ear-rings. He then closed with he would like me to come back the next day when it is busier and he will teach me more. There we have it folks the compliment sandwich.

The main problem I have with society in regards to job-hunting etc is this ridiculous prejudice that people with piercings and tattoos are "unprofessional".  I have an honours degree in biomedical science, I studied a masters degree in signal transduction pathways in primary operable breast cancer, I have presented my work in San Antonio at the annual breast cancer conference, I have worked since the age of 15, I have mostly always had two jobs, I have only ever been unemployed once for a period of 8 months until I stopped putting my degree on my resume and I pride myself on my attitude of "If somethings worth doing it's worth doing well". No matter what I get up to in my private life I am always at work on time, I never phone in sick unless I am so genuinely sick I cant physically make it to work and I always get the job done. Tell me, does any of this sound unprofessional to you? It is also infuriating as Penelope was wearing a pair of very thick gold hoop ear-rings. I'm an all or nothing kinda gal. You either ban jewellery altogether or you allow people to wear it. I'm not mad at Reginald I understand his dilemma. People can be pains in the arses about appearance. However, once I give you my dazzling smile and speak to you in my genuinely friendly manner you can't help but like me. And I'm not being full of myself here I just like being nice to people it doesnt cost anything and smiling is contagious. You cant stay freaked out by someone when they bend over backwards to help you and take time out of their day just to be nice to you.

So therein lies the dilemma. I like Reginald, I like his staff and I like his coffe shop but on principle I have NEVER ever taken my ear-rings out for anyone. What to do?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pirate and the neverending quest for a job

The preparations for today's interview began last night with me ironing, yes, ironing (shudder) my borrowed interview clothes and getting a reasonably early night. Normally I'm awake until anything between 2 and 4am, my brain refusing to stop the whirlwind of ideas and things to remember. However, unusually it complied with an early shutdown and I think I was asleep before 1am. Getting up at 8am this morning was a bit scary as I usually only see that time if I haven't been to bed yet and although I hate mornings in general I was determined this one would be awesome.

Time to tackle the checklist of problems my appearance presents to potential employers. First on the list, visible tattoos. The black trousers and long-sleeved shirt takes care of 99% of them. Unfortunately there's not much I can do about the one on my neck (except grow my hair long but that's gonna take a while) but it can be rendered "not that noticeable" with a carefully practiced routine of tilting my head away and making sure I am always presenting my left side to the person I am talking to. Check. Next on the list, the piercings. As a matter of principle I absolutely refuse to take my ear-rings out as any reference to the outdated "health and safety" laws are clearly laughable. You can't tell me my ear-rings are at risk of falling into food when you need pliers to remove them from my ear.  Whilst I refuse to remove my ear-rings I will begrudgingly remove my lip piercing. I can slowly phase it in once I have established myself as an invaluable member of staff. Check. Last and not least, the hair. Who would have thought that shaving half your hair off would be an issue? Apparently so. I cleverly disguise my hairstyle with none other than... a hat. Yes folks a hat. I have been told on numerous occassions I suit it well and with the shirt and trousers I kind of fancied myself as rockin the "dapper" look. Or something. Anyway, check.

With my troublesome appearance thoroughly dealt with the next hurdle to contend with is Jeffrey. My last interview did not go so well and I don't want to go into details but lets just say  Jeffrey caused a scene. I told him he couldnt come with me this time on account of his atrocious behaviour last time and he stomped his little feet and he huffed and he puffed and he threatened me with allsorts. In the end I had to let him come with me as he said if I didnt he'd burn my collage art book. Mental note to self get Jeffrey a new cage.

I toddle off to the bus stop and I'm almost there when I remember that I've left the scrap of paper with the name of the shop and the phone number in the house. Idiot. So as I have plenty of time I nip back and get it. Back to the bus stop just in time to catch the bus into the City - excellent! Feeling good. I meet a fellow Roadie on the bus and have a great time chatting until I am about 3 stops away from the city when it suddenly dawns on me that I have left the house without a copy of my resume. Yes. I have gone to an interview without a resume. Disaster. What kind of a moron goes to an interview without a resume? Me, apparently.

Quick time check. 9am. Interview is at 10. Options-
1) Phone housemate and ask him to bring you a copy.
2) Phone brother and ask him to bring you a copy.
3) Call friend in the city, ask her to print it and pick it up
4) Find an internet cafe and print it yourself

I decide to go with option 3. I phoned my friend but as it was 5 minutes past nine she has started work and is unavailable. OK, I have just under an hour that's loads of time let's go for option 4 with 1 or 2 as a back-up. Although I have lived in Adeliade for 6 months now I still have no idea where to find most things so I ask around various shops and get directions. I find the cafe but unfortunately it is closed and does not open until 10am. Dang. I run up Rundle Mall and pop into Lush because it smells awesome and makes me happy and I can ask directions as well. The lovely shop lady directs me to the corner of Hindley and Leigh Street. I traipse up Hindley Street but miss the cafe go too far and end up asking directions again. Upon trudging back down Hindley Street a man walking beside me felt the burning need to inform me that "See that tattoo on your neck? It needs white in it." I reply with a cheeky sniggery "Right". Normally I would have asked politely why he thought so and then bested him with my awesome knowledge and sparkling wit but on this occassion I was too pushed for time. It is now 9.37am and I have t-minus 23 minutes to locate the cafe, print my resume and turn up to my interview on time. I walk past the cafe AGAIN but stop 2 shops down to look around and finally spot it and head in.

The internet cafe confused me. The internet was so slow it took me about 3 minutes to get the internet up and working. Soon as it is, bam, email, resume, print, ta da. It cost me $5.50 for 5 minutes internet time and 2 pieces of paper. She did, however, offer me a state of the art stapler.

OK, 9.45. I quick march up Hindley Street and Rundle Mall not entirely sure where I'm going but I locate the cafe with 5 minutes to spare. I quickly compose myself, tuck my shirt in, adjust my hat and take a deep breath. Here goes.

Inside the cafe it's jumping and there are two people behind the counter. Almost every table in the cafe has people seated and they both look waaaaaay busy. I inform the guy behind the counter who I am and that I have an interview at 10 and he looks at me and then at the clock and asks me for 10 minutes. I say sure no problem and wait outside at one of the tables. I take out my book, Haruki Murakami's "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" and wait patiently. Jeffrey at this point starts shouting and demanding attention but I tell him, "No, Jeffrey this is perfect. Now we play the waiting game. The longer I sit here the more likely he will feel obliged to give me at least a trial". Reluctantly Jeffrey piped down.

After half an hour of patiently waiting I look up and he beckons me over. He asked me for a resume which I produce all shiny and new from my adorable handbag which I realise with horror is still covered in tomato juice spatters that look like vomit. He thanks me and scans it quickly and asks me to come in next week on Tuesday for a trial. YES!!! WIN!!! I have finally successfully managed to get my foot in the door!

Now all I have to do is some research on how to actually make coffee and we are sorted. My brother helpfully suggested wearing a variety of false moustaches and outfits etc and going into the cafe and observing what they do there whilst taking notes. This is a genius idea. I may enlist his help as well.

So, I have my foot in the door and the best bit is he asked me to come in Tuesday, not  Monday. I still get to party on down at the Rollergirl after party on Sunday with Monday set to recovery mode. YYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEESSS FRIDAY IS FULL OF WIN!!!! :D I'll keep you posted how I get on.