The Dilemma

Sometimes life gets stagnant. While some people handle it with a grain of salt, other’s aren’t so good with it. Some choose to stay in their hometown and be around their family,feeling completely content. Others deal with an internal and possibly lifelong battle of always wanting to see whats next. I was ready to leave Los Angeles.A lot had changed in the last year and I was super anxious for the next chapter. It was a beast of a city, and with it’s deepest qualities of charm held equally difficult realities. My father eloquently put it “In LA you’re either a have or a have not.”Though I wasn’t struggling as much as my peers, I also was no longer growing as an individual. Quite frankly I was just bored. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I found myself exploring options and eventually I had to make a decision. Either decision was a good choice, but there could only be one. I applied to be a flight attendant, and things were moving along in the process. They were going to fly me out to Houston. If I took the position, I’d have 2 weeks notice to move out of my place,  move to NEW JERSEY and live in a hotel for 2 months training (without pay) I’d make between $18,000-$20,000 a year to start. It was a sacrifice, but after it was over I’d be able to fly anywhere domestic for free on standby.

image2

I thought it over and over again. Everyone wants to be a flight attendant and this is my chance. I could see it now, in my black heels cutting through TSA security looking like a boss with my navy blue suit and a mob of pilots (but inside I’d be highly concerned about my ability to pay rent for the month and also feeding myself.) There I’d be, fresh manicure, making a high schooler’s wages, trash bag in hand. Forced smile on face, collecting your plastic cups and spew bags as we prepared to land in Des Moines. I’d refill the hell out of your Pepsi, and if there was turbulence, you’d best believe I wouldn’t let you use the commode. (I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking about how good I look pulling that rolling luggage and you’re right)

It had some pro’s and con’s. I could travel with this job, but I’d have to live in Newark. I’d be forced to look presentable every day (which I need), but I’d be poor as piss. Suddenly it didn’t feel so glamorous. Suddenly I was just an underpaid waitress in the sky dealing with grumpy travelers.

I thought about my other option. It was something I’d always secretely thought about doing for years and never had the cajones. Move to Australia. Did you ever have that weird friend growing up who’s room was filled with cheesy Ikea Eiffel tower photos? She opted for French language in high school over Spanish, even though our state bordered Mexico and knowing Spanish was highly valuable for any future career? She’d soon go to Paris for Uni where she’d eat artisan cheeses and drink fine wine on a blanket in the park with her beret wearing French boyfriend. That’s kind of how I felt about Oz. I was just sort of obsessed.

Something about their historical beginnings and rugged lifestyle. The way the wildlife is either super adorable and beautiful or deadly and dangerous. Their sense of humor and the way they talked. Their unusually good-lookingness. Even the bad looking ones were still super good looking. Their printed shirts and ability to somehow make bucket hats fashionable. Their Slang. Sharks. The outback. The Desert. INXS

Until the age of 29 you can apply for a Working Holiday Visa. It allows you to legally work in the country for up to a year. You can only work each job for 6 months at a time but it gives you the capability of essentially funding your holiday and this was my last year to qualify.

I called my parents, both sensible people, and laid out the pros and the cons of both choices. While I expected them to chose an obvious job over wreckless country abandonment, I found myself in shock when my mother, the usual ball buster, said “Go to Australia.” and my dad said something along the lines of “Following in your old man’s footsteps eh?” (He did the same in his 20’s) The choice was obvious.

image1

 

I’m leaving in July. I’m selling my car, I’m quitting my job, I’m ridding myself of worldly possessions minus some essentials (bikini is obvious #1). I’ll be flying out from Portland Oregon immediately following my last USA obligation, my best friend’s wedding.

Am I out of touch with reality? Possibly.

Obviously this isn’t going to be all unicorns and lollipops. It’s not going to be all surfs up and Liam Hemsworth’s. It’s going to have it’s challenges: It will be more expensive there, I will need to convince someone to hire me. I don’t know where I will live. I can hardly understand Australian’s when they talk, so that’s a problem. Obviously I will be confused and frustrated at times, but honestly I’m not that worried about it. I’m friendly and competent and a decent person and it’s going to be okay.  If it doesn’t work out I’ll just come home. Duh. At least I gave it a go.

PicCollage

Being a Geriatrics nurse has altered my own outlook towards youth in many ways. Much like Labor and Delivery nurses bringing people into the world, I am with them at the end.Doing this has given me a lot of wisdom and I cant help but constantly hear the regretful statements made from patients who wish they took more chances. I don’t want to be that old lady who was scared to take risks. I want to be the old lady with shitty unrecognizable tattoos and stories that will make any young nurse be like “Yeah. you’re alright you creepy old lady…….you’re alright.”

Please make all checks payable to : Casey Horan…. just kidding.

The 5 Stages of Travel Grief.

d842ebfc554f1e9fcc655d632641f091

No one ever tells you about the heavy come down after a super long trip. Living like a carefree vagabond can make you feel somewhat like a non-productive member of society, like a fun addict. You can get away with things that aren’t quite proper practice in the real world. For example: having your first cocktail in the morning. Spending your day slathered in tanning oil checking out the bae’s, or better yet, not brushing your hair because your largest responsibility for the day is 1.drinking a fresh picked coconut and 2.finishing that awful Nicholas Sparks novel you found in the hostel’s book swap.

I’ve never done Heroin, but I am willing to go out on a limb and say that the holiday withdrawal, as you make your transition back into the professional world, is probably quite similar: Night sweats, contemplation of life and debilitating depression that makes you stay in bed, shovel heaps of popcorn in your mouth and watch Anthony Bourdain episodes over and over again. You start to question if it was even worth going in the first place because now you feel super unsettled. Something changed in you. Aside from Jet lag, you go through the actual  5 stages of grief:

134195047

1. Denial and Isolation

Much like Bon Iver’s post breakup winter cabin retreat, you are a slave to your bed. You actually fear that your skin may begin growing into your Ikea mattress. Your phone is ringing off the hook but you put it on silence, you don’t want to see anyone. The only people you want in your life right now are Anthony Bourdain and Orville Redenbacher. You continue only ordering Thai food takeout for a week straight and greeting the delivery boy in Thai, “SAWADEE” as you bow your head with prayer hands even though he’s a young Guatemalan man.

2. Anger

You start to hate your only friend Anthony Bourdain. WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS?? He thinks he deserves the world’s coolest job? He can just go wherever he wants? He can just go take Ayahuasca in Peru for work? and eat traditional feasts all day? Oh and you ORVILLE with your carefree popcorn toss. Making me all fat with your buttery airpopped legacy.I don’t even think you’re alive anymore but I hate you too.     orville

 

 

 

3. Bargaining

Your mind frantically races like a lunatic. “I cant go back to work tomorrow. I need to heal. I should have stayed.  I should have just gotten that Visa and went to NZ with all the other kids and worked in a Ski Resort for the season (I cant ski but I’ll learn, I don’t even care.). I shouldn’t have spent so much money on stupid elephant pants. I’m totally going to apply to a job in Shanghai to go teach ESL right now. They give you free accomodation,  Im not even a teacher, but I’ll lie. I dont even want to go to China but I dont care. No one will know! Why am I home? Who decided this was reality? Is this going to be forever? Do I belong in a mental institution??”

 

4. Depression

This is self explanatory. You’re back to the grind….thought about picking up smoking cigarettes because you’re bored…….Lovin’ this traffic…….such a pleasant person to be around, yes please come over and listen to me sit in silence. *bursts into tears*

acc

5. Acceptance

Normalcy is returning. You realize that you’re totally going to be okay. You’ve been back to work for a few months now, building that savings back up. The jet-lag is long gone and your trip is all starting to fade into a memory that doesn’t even really seem like it happened to begin with. It’s fun to talk about and reflect. Social life, resurfaced. Tan is gone, but you’re okay.

Taking the leap.

As my friend drove me to LAX, I couldnt help but begin having the biggest freakout panic attack on the inside. On the outside I maintained a cool-like-a-cucumber level of stability. I mean yeah, in retrospect it seems like a cute idea that everyone might have, to go alone to some foreign country, but it was actually going down.
I stepped up to the booking desk for Air China, shakily holding my passport.
No trace of my flight. I began to panic, but panicking is never a smart idea. I fumbled through my papers and emails to find the flight confirmation of the round trip flight to Bangkok that I sporadically purchased last week on my cell phone in the waiting room of a gerontology office while chauffering a 99 year old patient to an appointment.
China Airlines! Not air china dummy!
Checked in through the correct airline and there I was, waiting for a plane. There was no turning back

 

(In regards to my pants, Dog hair don’t care.)

image

When Opportunity Knocks…….

Oh hello old friends, do any of you even read this anymore? Probably not, because nothing too interesting has been going on. Until now.

It sort of all happened in a few days. Kind of became temporarily unemplyoed. Bought a flight to Bangkok, leaving in a week. In typical Casey fashion, I have no itinerary, reservations or general plans, because I kind of function better that way.

Here are my goals:

1. Go to some super pretty beaches (probably easy to do)

2. Ride a humanely treated and well fed Elephant (maybe)

3. Possibly lose some weight from travelers diarrhea. (you must find the positive in negative situations)

4. Be okay with being alone. (seems slightly challenging)

5. Write (just write.)

6. Read (on the beach)

7. Take beautiful photos. (havent touched my camera in months #uninspired)

8. Not hold myself back from things due to fear (but maintain safeness and street smarts obviously)

9. See a WHALE SHARK (or any shark’ll do)

Chicken Bus: The Real Deal

Riding on a bus in Central America is a total free for all. I have learned to expect the unexpected, guard my shit and hold on for dear life.

Here are the standards for public busses:

Anything is allowed on board: that includes Pigs, Chickens, Motorcycle Engines, Ducks, Rotting Fish, Moving Boxes filled with Eggs, Bicycles or whatever item you’d want to bring anywhere.

Maximum Occupancy does not exist: Full? Never. Even when each bench is filled with 4 people and the isles are crammed with people standing sideways, that means the bus is only half full. When it is no longer possible to uncomfortably jam as many people in one old US school bus, they strap the back door open so 8 more people can travel while holding on to the back bumper, and then there’s the roof of course!

Respect women and your elders: Elderly? Disabled? Carrying a baby? Simply a woman?  Whoever is sitting in the front row will -no-questions-asked sacrifice their seat for anyone above 60 years old, and most of the time, if youre a female forced to stand in the aisle for the duration of the trip, a man will almost always offer you his seat.

Keep your money somewhere where the sun-dont-shine: It doesn’t seem to happen as much as Lonely Planet says, but people get pick pocketed without question, or even noticing.  I mean obviously when someones crotch is jammed against your shoulder, there’s not much room for guarding posessions. I’ve had things stolen and I’ve met several people who have.

Free Onboard Entertainment is almost always possible: Besides the entire experience being entertaining, different types of “performers” will jump aboard to try to get some change or tips out of you for their amazing talents. I’ve had the honor of seeing creepy heroin addict clown man in Honduras, Scary Screaming end-of-the-world-religious-doom-sayer lady reading bible quotes, dressed as a nun with “Vanilla” puffy painted on her white nunsuit. The Blind and also tone deff vocalist and the uncomprehensible stand up spanish speaking comic.

If youre stomach is weak, its not for you: Not only am I referring to the NAUSEA you will endure from the insane driver, but more so I am talking about the disabled beggars. I saw a man talk about some type of birth defect, and how he needed money, then lift up his shirt exposing his entire length of small intestines hanging outside of his body in a clear ziplock bag. Then I saw a man with a gnarly ulcerative wound sticking his finger in his pus-filled wound and rubbing the ooze on a paper towel, just to show us that it is in fact real. Not all of us can have Nurse-Strength stomach. Keenan will never forget the man “scooping his goop”

Dont bother making that stop at the grocery store: The salesmen come to you. I have seen the following for sale on a bus: Chips, Toothpaste, Vitamins, Vegetables, Turtle Lotion, Shampoo, Boner Pills, Plastic Childrens Toys, Books, CDs, Marijuana Skin Salve, DVDs, Fruit, Carne Asada, Any Beverage you want, Fried Chicken, Candy, Cake. Etc.  I may not know spanish entirely, but for any items including a single toothpaste container, you will recieve a ten minute high energy sales pitch on why their item is better than the rest.

Get to know the people around you: Taking “Shuttles” are very popular with the backpackers, and are so very lame. Not only are chicken busses RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP ($1.00 for a 3-4 hour trip) but what’s so great about paying $50 to be stuck in a van with a bunch of other white people in it? We mostly began taking the chicken busses as a way to save money, but then we realized that in order to really experience a country in its entirety, you must live like the locals. Eat where they eat, drink where they drink, dance where they dance and travel how they travel, otherwise whats the point of being there? We have met some of the most amazing people ever on busses. We have had some weird stares, great conversations and hilarious moments. One senile lady in El Salvador made Keenan and I cover our exposed skin, APPAULED that we had no children, discgusted that we weren’t married and had to know what church we attended every Sunday. She also told us that since we had tattoos, the cops would slit our throats with knives. Not something you want to hear in San Salvador, but I had a feeling she was a bit kooky.