Saturday, September 25, 2010

Footy Draws, Stolen Tram Rides, "Ozzie" Vanilla, and Skyping Chicken n' Dumplings...

So all this build-up, all the anticipation, the thousands of people flocking to this city, the parades, the parties, all for the grand final, has resulted in a... DRAW?! I watched the grand final yesterday, the clashing, both metaphorically and very literally as well, of two Melbourne footy teams. I watched these men crash and run and kick and fight for several hours, blood resulting in several plays, lots of muscle cramps needing to be massaged out. It was looking like it was the Magpies' game, but without notice, the final quarter, the Saints very quickly started racking up points. The teams tugged back and forth on the lead for several minutes. Before anyone could figure out what was happening, the game was called, and neither team had scored more than 68 points. It was a tie. Players collapsed on the field, children in the stands cried, the roar of the crowd fell to an eerie silence. No one really knew what to do. The rules stated a new game had to be played in a week's time. It was 2 hours of blood, sweat, and tears resulting in another game next week. I just felt sorry for the exhausted players. Melbourne, I am sure, doesn't mind in the least to have another grand final next week. It means more money, in so many ways, for their city. But it's just weird to watch such a bitter fight result in no winner.

After the surreal footy experience, I got ready to go to dinner with the Melbourne girls. I was meeting them at an Italian restaurant named Topolino's, and I planned on taking the tram, which is like the trolleys in San Francisco. I went online and figured out the stop I needed and the tram to take. Online it also said I did not need to purchase a transport card ahead of time and that I could pay for my ride on the tram. I then went downstairs and waited patiently at this stop for my tram. Even though I had plenty of time, I was getting nervous because taxis kept passing by me and I had to keep resisting the urge to hail one and be carted away to my destination in certainty and security. I was just being paranoid, I knew I was waiting for the correct tram, and I knew it stopped at the street I needed it to stop. Finally, tram 16 showed up. I climbed aboard hesitantly, and turned to offer money to the driver. To my confusion, the driver was behind black plexiglass (a sure sign of 'do not disturb'), and there was no automated computer or anything to input my ride and pay for my trip. Bewildered, I sat down quickly, because she was pulling away from stop (I'm pretty sure it was a 'she,' I really never got a sure look). I observed other passengers to try and see what I needed to be doing to pay for this ride. All other passengers seemed to have the prepaid card that was easily scanned when they boarded and departed. I did notice one girl deposit coins in a scanner at the back of the bus, but I never got the chance to make my way back to investigate. The next stop was my stop. What do I do?! I need to get off here, but I haven't paid! Without a whole lot of thought, I got up with several other passengers and stepped off the bus at Fitzroy Street. I kept my head down, knowing the tram driver was probably taking down my description right now and calling the police. My tram finally pulled away from the platform and I had done it- I had stolen a tram ride! It wasn't my intent, nor is it anything I am proud of, but it happened. And now I am kind of scared of riding another tram, for fear that their should be some sort of "Wanted" poster with my picture plastered somewhere inside the tram.

Anyway, I arrived on Fitzroy Street and located Topolino's. I was early, so I sat outside and watched people. Most people were at least slightly drunk (it was, after all, grand final day) and I spent my time being entertained by grown men who took turns seeing who could jump and spin in the air the best (no one was really winning). The girls arrived a little later, and we got our table. We each ended up ordering a different type of pasta, and we spent our time talking about the game, my future plans for travel, and what the status of my sickness was. One girl works for the Magpies, so she had been drinking most of the day and was coming down via her meal of gnocchi. After dinner, two of the girls departed with kisses and the remaining three wanted to find ice cream. They were talking about somewhere called Cold Rock. When describing it to me, I said we had Cold Stone, and they said it was probably the same thing. We walked down to Cold Rock, and it was the Aussie version of Cold Stone, except they didn't have much of a menu to choose from, you had to make up what you thought would taste ok. The girls laughed and said that one flavor with peanut butter and chocolate would be what I would like because I was American. I said "Is that like an American stereotype or something?" I looked at all the flavors of ice cream and asked what makes "Aussie Vanilla" different from regular vanilla. One girl, rolling her eyes, said "Nothing I don't know why they call it that." Another of the girls said, "I like how you say "Aussie." We say "Ozzie." I repeated it, "Ozzie," like a child learning a new word. I laughed and said, "yeah, I guess I am just saying it how it is actually spelled." They agreed, they should spell it with an 'O' if they want it to be said that way. We each ordered, I ended up getting "Ozzie" vanilla with "Freddo" and banana. Well, I wanted vanilla ice cream with plain chocolate candy and banana crushed into it. Someone advised "Freddo," which I was pronouncing "Freido" until corrected, would be a plain chocolate candy I would want. But the banana requested ended up being kind of a banana taffy- bleck. Ice cream probably wasn't the best choice for a chest cold, because I ended up coughing a lot, and just eating the Freddo out of it. The girls offered me a ride back to my hostel, since they were 2 people lighter now. Seeing as I didn't want to chance an arrest or at the very least an ID by using the tram again, I accepted their offer. It was my first Aussie car ride! I was in the back seat behind the driver, in what in America would be the passenger seat. It wasn't so different, once you wrap your mind around driving on the other side of the road, which I have been trying to get used to in public transportation and not getting squashed when looking to cross the street. They dropped me off, and I had to make my way through the weirdly very different looking environment the hostel entrance becomes at night. There is a fenced off smoking area (they are quarantined like lepers like they are here in America too) and the automatic doors didn't do their automatic thing when I approached. I noticed another entrance to the hostel bar, and I had to swipe my card to enter the hostel. I, as per usual with this cold, collapsed into a fit of coughing on my bed from having to climb a story to get to my room. I fell asleep watching the classic American treasure "Tropic Thunder" (they do not censor movies on Aussie TV at all- hope everyone noted the sarcasm on "classic American treasure").

This morning, I knew mom wanted to skype with me at my aunt's house because my grandparents and all her sisters would be there. The only problem was, we hadn't discussed what time this was to occur. About 7:30 this morning, I began waking up and thinking about this. Like the nerd I am, I began having dreams about starting my computer and turning skype on. I do this when I am concerned about something- I dream I am doing it, when in reality, I'm not doing anything. So after dreaming about it and waking up several times, I decided to just get up. I turned on skype, and after several failed attempts with the webcam, I was in Raleigh. I got all sorts of advice on what I should be telling my Aussie doctor to prescribe me, as well as advice on how to avoid getting a yeast infection from the antibiotics I was taking (which would be just the cherry on top, wouldn't it?). I spoke to each member of the family, and my dad decided he needed to show me a plate of food I was missing (while I chewed on my granola bar). It was the first time I skyped and got to see a picture on the other end, which so far has just been a question mark face, so it was nice to see faces with voices. I had begun to get self conscious because they could always see me, but I couldn't see what they were doing. You know, skype is pretty amazing. Especially for being free!

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