Friday, March 28, 2008

On the Townsville, Chapter Four

I just read over the first chapters of On the Townsville and couldn't believe how long they are and how much unnecessary detail is included in each story. So my project for chapter IV is to become a better self-editor. Here we go:

Island Man Sam

A few young Americans were recently hired and have created a frat party vibe in the restaurant. Chris and Shane in particular are a hit with the ladies, as we get lots of parties of young women -- bachelorette dinners or just girls' night out -- and they're so drunk and so excited by these cute, young, flirty men with yankee accents that they're barely able to contain themselves. They get their pictures taken with them, they write their phone numbers in lipstick on the table -- there was even an attempt to stuff a tip down Chris's pants. It's mayhem.

The tables were turned on Sunday, however, when there was an all-afternoon-and-evening reggae thing with a really good live band. I hadn't understood the hugeness of the event and suddenly found myself running drinks and getting cat-called like a cocktail waitress in a night club. The frat boys didn't have any problems because all the drunk women had their eyes on the waiter-trumping musicians -- or on themselves, as they were so clearly enjoying being 'crazy' and 'original' and dancing their rhythmless hippie dances in flowy pants and beaded head scarves. As the only female staff person, however, I got a whole lot of attention from the slobbering, moronic, drunk-off-their-tits men who seem to populate the Townsville social scene. Embarrassingly, one of them told me I was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen and I was all giggly and blushing until Shane pointed out that the guy was literally drooling into his schooner of Victoria Bitter and could barely sit upright on his barstool; looks like I'm starved for compliments these days. I'll take what I can get!

The sad news is that Doug, one of the managers, is leaving. He's worked for ages in hospitality and has owned a restaurant for six years, so he's ready to move on. (This is obviously very hard on Jim, the other manager, who has been Doug's business partner, roommate and best friend for six years; it's pretty much like a divorce.) Doug is originally from Trinidad and is a gorgeous little leprechaun of a man; everyone is sad to see him go.

But since Doug is leaving Townsville, and since I'm looking for a place to live...

Wait for it....

Katy and Jim!!!

I packed on Wednesday, rode out to uni on Thursday morning, rode back home to finish packing, rode BACK to uni for my afternoon class, and then my friend Sarah came with her car and helped me move into Jim's swanky bachelor pad -- before I rushed out to work. An exhausting day, but after a little housecleaning and putting my stuff away, I just sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Maybe this afternoon I'll do the same thing, only in the pool! Huzzah!

It's not as great as I originally thought because he's bought a condo and will be leaving April 10th, but that gives me two weeks to find something more permanent, and during those two weeks I will be in a clean, nice-smelling, quiet apartment in a ritzy part of town with an ocean view and the mountain behind me. Most importantly, during those two weeks I will get some sleep. No more all-night parties with drunk British back-packers snorting horse tranquilizers off the living room table. No more drunken, raging, 3 a.m. lovers' spats. No more smelly little dog yapping me awake every time a car passes on the distant street. No more wet, moldy towels on the bathroom floor; no more ants all over the counter because nobody can be bothered to rinse the barbecue sauce off their plates; no more strangers going into my room and taking my pillows to use as couch cushions; no more pee on the floor or on the toilet rim (the wooden toilet seat snapped in half two weeks ago and has not been replaced). No computer? No land line? I don't care. I just need some sleep.

I will definitely miss my nightly routine of sitting on the front step and looking at the stars with Joogsie's head on my lap and my home-made juice popsicle dripping on it. I will miss my comfortable, forty-minute bike ride, as it now takes over an hour and includes two steep uphill climbs (though with the fun downhill swoop that follows) and I'm feeling the burn.
I would have missed Rico's home cooking, but it never ended up happening; when I tried, after a disastrous attempt to cook chicken for myself, to strike up a partnership wherein I buy the food and he, the professional chef, cooks it, he thought I was asking him to make a big dinner for us all some time. The more I tried to explain, the more he thought I was pressuring him to step up to the task and he tried to set a date so that I'd leave him alone. I guess it was never meant to be.
(I've collected some easy recipes from the chefs at work, so maybe this will be the year where I finally learn to cook properly for myself...) (Probably not, but maybe.)

So there it is: I'm staying for two weeks and wishing it were longer, and the apartment hunt is on.


I'm not coaching as much as before, as it's hard to get there in time after school. I'm also not umpiring, as so far they've managed to find people and [knock on wood] they won't need me. What I am doing is playing every Wednesday night, among amazon-sized women who just reach over my head and drop the ball in the net. What I am not doing is improving; I played a lot worse this week than last week -- but I'm hoping it's just a juice-belly thing and not a trend.

I sure get a lot of exercise, though, hopping around trying to steal the ball off of people who are two heads taller than I am; luckily it's a friendly league, so it's lots of fun and I get to try different positions every quarter. Interestingly, I'm a much better attacker than defender; maybe because I can deek around and find my own system, instead of having to block someone whose bra clasp is at my eye level. Sometimes I even get the ball in the net! Really!

Magnetic Island

It's no secret that my favourite demographic is middle-aged men, probably because I am pretty much middle-aged myself and I like their rhythm. Should I pretend to be hipper than I am? Why deny the glaringly obvious?

A friendly dining foursome very quickly became my favourite table and I sat down with them when my shift was over and had a drink. (Raspberry cordial; my fave!) We'll call them the Spy Guys because they work for some top-secret organization and can only tell me certain details. Planes are involved -- they are pilots and engineers -- and they're here for four months. That's all I know. Maybe something with the government? or the military? They are being lodged in gorgeous apartments on the boardwalk, so it's someone with money. (They have promised me that they are not involved in bombing North Korea or similar; I have to take their word for it.) (And I obviously can't publish any pictures of them, so you'll just have to look at what I've got and imagine it with four Aussie blokes with really white feet.)

They came back to eat again the next night and invited me to spend a day with them on Maggie Island, which I hadn't yet had a chance to visit. (When I had free time it was raining; when the rain stopped, I had a job.) Off we went on the ferry and I am disappointed to report that I got boat-sick. On a ferry. Just the last two minutes pulling in, which is apparently a notoriously bad section, but still; it was pretty lame.

Once we got to shore, we rented some funny little barbie jeeps and go-Karted around the island. We all know about boys and their toys, but with a group of men whose lives are spent designing, fixing, testing and flying planes, you can imagine how much fun they had racing up and down the mountainous coast. ('Racing' might not be the right word, as the cars couldn't go much faster than 50 km/h... everything's relative.)

Other than my being a boat sissy, it turns out I am also a wallaby sissy. The island is famous for its wild wallabies who live in the rocks and come out to eat out of people's hands. Up I went with my palmful of seeds, and out came the wallabies -- including this rough-and-tumble one who had clearly been around the block a few times. I suddenly had visions of giant rodents gnawing at my hand and I couldn't take it. I threw my seeds on the rock and was out of there in a flash, then sheepishly took a picture of someone else feeding them so that I'd at least have the memory.

Grade Six

And finally, I did my first teaching practicum and it was a lot of fun. I have three more weeks with this grade six class (after a two-week university segment -- blech) and then will come back in October and spend a month with the grade sixes on the other side of the pod. Both the teachers are fantastic and I think I'll learn a lot.

Now here's the complaint. (You didn't think I was just going to be unabashedly positive, did you?)

Wallaboo State School, not Catholic or private. Funded by the good tax-payers of North Queensland and teaching a state-wide, if not nation-wide, curriculum in order to make good citizens who will contribute to society. And yet, what is this block on my weekly schedule -- does that say 'religion?' Is that possible? Carol, my prac teacher, assures me that it is non-denominational. And come to think of it, that's pretty neat, to be teaching a comparative religion course in grade six. It's a 'values' class, and I think that having a block of time to discuss values and morals and social things like that is really important. Good on you, Wallaboo, I can't wait to see what this Thursday class will be like.

The day arrives, and with it comes Gavin, a huge, blond, highly entertaining Baptist preacher from North Carolina who has been living here with his missionary wife for seven years. It was a forty-minute session, and I can't remember most of it because I was so fully in shock that I didn't understand what was happening for at least the first half. (Is this performance art of some kind? When is he going to break character and talk about how dangerous it is to have loony Southern preachers set loose on elementary school classes?)

As the shock wore off, however, I heard that:
-we sin all the time, we're probably sinning right now, but we're covered because Jesus died for our sins -- remember when he was spreading his arms out on the cross? That was him saying 'I love you THIIIIIIIS much!', just like Mommy and Daddy say to you, boys and girls;
-God wants blood in return for sin and sometimes cutting a lamb's throat just isn't enough;
-there's nothing we will ever be able to do to live up to what Jesus did for us.

Then, after choral-calling back ('Who loves you?' 'Jesus!' 'And why did He die?' 'For our sins!') the students coloured a picture of Adam carrying JC's cross for him while Gavin invited me to Thanksgiving with his family. (You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy...)

Sandy, the next-door teacher, added to my disbelief when she sat down with the two classes for their daily novel-reading. In response to a comment that I didn't hear, she asked if anyone knew how old Jesus was when he died. When the kids started guessing, she said she hadn't asked for them to guess, but had asked if anyone KNEW. Because there is documentation, there is an official age, it is a fact to be acquired. I thought she must be talking about the flesh and blood Jesus and whatever historical documents and back-tracing she had heard about, but she continued, 'he was thirty-three. It is documented; it is written in the Bible. It's a fact.'

See, now what am I supposed to say? How is it possible that she is officially announcing to a double group of eleven-year-olds that the Bible is a factual document, while at the same time warning them about using Wikipedia for their countries project because you can't always trust its sources?
This is PUBLIC SCHOOL, for Christ's sake! It's a FACT that he was thirty-three because it's written in the BIBLE???!!! Is it a FACT that some people lived to be six hundred years old and that Noah built an enormous ark and filled it with animals? You can have whatever beliefs you want at home and at Sunday school and you can be scared of God and filled with sin-guilt and have crucifixion nightmares; that's your cross to bear. (Tee-hee.) But public, tax-funded school? I can't stay in this country.

So much for self-editing. Wish me luck in the bachelor pad -- maybe I'll be such a good roomie that he'll want to take me along to the new condo... Who wouldn't?


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