I loved cleaning… until one fateful day

commercial scrubberI always thought I liked cleaning, that was until I embarked on the cleanup task to end all cleanup tasks. I’m one of those people who get antsy when there are dirty dishes in the sink, and I get a sick satisfaction out of scrubbing the bathroom tiles ‘til they sparkle. But when my partner and I decided to buy an old, long-unused warehouse, the cleanup task almost got the better of me…

We were planning on converting the warehouse into a Melbourne art gallery with a modern post-industrial design. And, ambitiously, we were planning on doing it all ourselves. What we didn’t realise at the time is that we’d be needing industrial-grade equipment like, to start with, a commercial floor scrubber. We started off by innocently hand-sweeping the place to get rid of all the dirt, dust and chunks of plaster which had flaked off the ceiling. Once this was gone, instead of smiling with relief, we grimaced in horror – there was a layer of thick, coagulated grime underneath. We got onto our hands and knees with scrubbing brushes but it was no use – an hour in our arms already ached and we’d barely scratched the surface. We didn’t really know about such things as commercial and industrial floor cleaning machines, but the guy in the neighbouring shop who was having a quiet giggle at our expense came over and told us about these machines. He’d used one at his previous business to clean the floors. So we ended up getting a commercial floor scrubber. Melbourne companies let you hire as well as buy, which was a relief for us because we wanted to save some dosh.

That was just the beginning of the epic clean up job which was to ensue. We had to scrape cobwebs from the ceiling, replaster the walls, and wash the windows with industrial-grade cleaning products. I did get that familiar sense of satisfaction when the job was done though, because we were one step closer to our dream of running a gallery.

Ice-Skating Lightweight…

ice-skatingIt’s funny how when you’re ill, you completely forget what it’s like to be healthy. Then when you’re healthy again you forget what it was like being ill. It’d help a lot with empathy if we could just conjure up that feeling.

Personally, I think I picked up this cold from ice skating. Or rather, I had a cold, went ice skating and it just got a whole lot worse. Not too smart, I know. Yeah, I need to learn to look after myself, but it’s really hard when you’ve just discovered a completely new sport and it’s dominating your life. Who knew there was so much ice skating in Melbourne? That stuff is the bomb; kind of makes me wish I’d grown up ice skating so I could be one of those regulars who stays well away from all the new people and performs all the aerial pirouettes. One day, that’ll be me.

But I’m still a lightweight, it would seem. A few sessions of finding my skate legs and I’m already sniffling. I know, it’s cold and all that…you’re skating on ice. I still think I could be out there, but I don’t think a cold environment is really what I need at the moment. Although, if I invest in some really good winter gear…I mean, it’s not like you’re skating around in Antarctica. Ice skating rinks are not sub-zero temperatures, because it’s not quite the same as skating on a frozen lake. Actually, updated life goals: go skating on a frozen lake. There’s probably somewhere in America you can do that, but for now I’ll have to settle for regular old ice skating rinks. Honestly, I want to be a bit better at this whole ice skating gig before I take on the big leagues. And that’s the thing about ice skating in Australia: no danger of falling through and getting something worse than a cold.

-Leela

Planning a Party on My Deathbed

partySleepy in the morning, wide awake at night. The human body always find ways to make us miserable. Got a hot date? Here’s some kind of blemish that seems to swallow your whole face! Available for a limited time only! Yeah, until your date is over. Feels like such a betrayal. And then when you’re recovering from a nasty virus that made you get the snivels for like, three whole days, you’re asked to plan a birthday party. Because we can’t just find some birthday party venue around Melbourne and ask them to pick up a cake? Maybe shove some party pies in the oven? No, of course not.

I still have my snivels, so you’d think my parents would have pity and excuse me from the proceedings so that I can lie in bed, resting and recuperating. That way I can give my full attention to when the party actually rolls around- plus nobody wants me sniffing and blowing my nose all over the party decorations, and least of all the food. All these kids are going to talk away with the sniffles, and I can tell you now it’s not going to be my fault. I tried to save them, I’ll tell the parents. I tried my hardest, but it was the wish of the overlords that I get stuck in making decorations and purchasing small sausage rolls to be heated on the day. Now, even the innocent denizens of the supermarket are at risk of infection. This plague will spread until everyone has the sniffles in all of Australia, and we shall be known as the nation of sniffles forever and ever. Our flag will just be a picture of a dripping nose.

And I’m supposed to be looking for kids party venues. Well, the main comfort I glean from that is that they often have other fun stuff for kids to do, like ice skating and…mini golf? Maybe not inside. Anyway, the kids will be off doing stuff and away from my sickness. My devastating, contagious sickness.

-Allie

My vintage garage

photo booth hire near melbourneI’ve always had an obsession with the 1950s. I dunno what it is about that decade that I’m so drawn to. It may have started when I saw the movie Rebel Without a Cause. James Dean was so cool with his grease-slicked hair and bad boy attitude. Then of course there’s the beautiful Natalie Wood and the iconic 1950s drag cars. Ever since then I’ve watched every film from the period and even started collecting 1950s memorabilia. My garage was slowly filling with useless antiques when my husband suggested we turn it into a retro themed space.

We created our vintage garage with inspiration from American diners and dance halls. It’s decked out with chequered flooring, has a bar with squeaky vinyl seats and the walls are covered in celebrity portraits. My favourite thing about the room is the old photo booth that we bought from a Melbourne photo booth hire company. It was a really old one that they didn’t need anymore and decided to put up for auction – we got it for a really good price! In addition to the old mint green photo boot, I’m hoping to get a jukebox for the corner. It would be really cool to have a dance when our friends come over.

The only problem with the photo booth is that the photos aren’t very good quality. I’m wondering if I can find a repair guy who can fix a photo booth near Melbourne. Other than that it is such a quirky and charming addition to the room. I love hanging out in the garage sipping a bailey’s infused milkshake and surrounded by the faint musk of old thing like you get in an antique shop. It always give me a toasty feeling of nostalgia, even though I was born well after the 50s. My connection to that period is so strong that I wonder if I lived through it in a past life or something.

Dating Apps and Digital Antennas

satelliteI never thought I’d be the type to use dating apps, but…they’ve gotten a lot more fun since the last time I tried them out. The one I’m using right now lets you play games with a potential match, so you can eventually see what they’re into. In fact, I have a few apps on the go. One of them matches you up depending on what kind of movies you like to watch. Another one I just started yesterday takes all your VisageTome posts and tries to find you a partner with approximately the same level of grammar and sophistication. Not so sure about that one.

Probably my favourite so far has been ‘Radar’, which actually uses satellite dishes to divine the stuff you like to watch on TV. I’ve checked with people who do digital antenna installation around Melbourne and they said that this kind of thing isn’t illegal, strictly speaking. The information gathered is public domain, apparently. Going to look into that a bit more…but the results from the antenna scan have been interesting. Apparently there are at least five potential partners in my area who are well into the idea of Dre-Devil, the comic book TV show about a man fighting for control of the headphone market in the dank underbelly of New York. I never knew so many other people could be into a series so insular, but it gives me hope that at least someone shares my potential interests. Here I was thinking Dre-Devil was only beloved by a select, comic-book loving portions of the internet. And now I have an actual, honest to goodness dating app that reveals all of this pertinent information. Thanks, digital television antennas! Melbourne is just full of potential matches for me after all. Well, maybe. It’s yet to be determined if they actually have the chops to keep up with me. I have very high standards, after all.

-Matt

My Spy Career is Over

name badgesI could’ve been a spy. I’m really that good at infiltration and espionage in general. I’ve seen all the movies and I’ve incorporated all of their techniques into my repertoire. I’ve taken self-defence classes, I was pretty good one that one time I went to a firing range and I’m really good at sneaking up on people. My improv isn’t too bad either.

Thing is, I don’t think I was really born into that line of work. For one thing, my parents owned a supermarket, and they notably didn’t teach me to be a cold-blooded killer from birth. I feel like that sort of thing would be necessary. Also, I started working at the supermarket and they made me wear a company name badge. Sure, the extra bit of pocket money was great, but everyone could look at my name badge and see who I really was. A couple of times I tried to use someone else’s name tag, but I often worked when Mum was the boss and she’d tell me to stop being stupid. Great, so now the whole world knows my name because it’s right on my name badge in bold letters. As we all know, having a visible name is not a great start to being a spy.

I suppose if I took on a new name, that would work. But my past would be easy to trace, and then they’d come after my parents and burn my house down and then I’d return from my spy work and find my family home in ashes and then I’d be devastated. That day would be a real bummer, and then I’d be either distracted from my spy work or so angry I have to go after the Russian mobsters who did this and it’d be a roaring rampage of revenge in which everybody would be the loser. All because I had to wear a name badge.

Sure, staff name badges can work great…but what if people want to be spies? Have they considered that? Identities are precious!

-Not Harry

Too Much Reality in TV

signsReality TV is all about the competition nowadays. That sounds like an obvious thing to say, but…hear me out. You get the odd one, like People Who Are Just Lovely About Each Other’s Baking where they’re quite nice and saying goodbye to someone in one of the weeks is genuinely tough because they’re such chums. Maybe that’s because it’s British and their concept of drama is a bit different.

Still, all the billboards for People Who Are Nasty About Each Other’s Cooking (PWNAEOC) are pretty focused on the competitive side. I know Melbourne signwriters have to work with what they’re given, so it’s not the signage company’s fault. The networks are the ones who really need to reign it in, because that’s a direct culture of negativity beaming into cars travelling along the freeway. I wonder what my daughter thinks when she sees a big billboard advertising PWNAEOC on weeknights, and it also has one of the nastier contestants featured. Her name is…Perona? Patricia? Pangea? Anyway, they all her the Financial Falcon, because she’s a financial planner but is also really quite vicious and swooping with her comments. And now she’s the designated villain, because even reality TV needs that kind of thing apparently. Maybe Pangea is really just a nice girl in real life, you know? It could be camera trickery.

To be fair, that’s not the only kind of outdoor signage on the market. There are other couples in the competition, and they’re pretty nice sometimes, some of them, maybe. Or at least, the signs call them by nicer names and imply that they’re in it for the fun. Can’t we all just be in it for the fun? You know, like in PWJLAEOB. Such a nice show, without any dramatic musical cues when someone’s chicken tenders turn out to be a bit stringy. I want to see some quality Melbourne outdoor signage that highlights the skills and contributions of the contestants, not playing up how they’re going to cause trouble. I should write to the network.

-Byron

Call me crazy – A carport haunting

carportMy wife and I used to have an ancient farm shed at the back of our property which we kept around for rustic appeal. For a while we even kept our cars in there because we didn’t have enough saved for a garage yet. But it was only months later that I was saving like mad to get rid of that old shed and put my vehicles in brand new car accommodation. (Tamworth has some top notch builders by the way) Here’s what happened.

Back then I was coming back from work late in the evening, sometimes around 12am or later. I’d park the car in the shed and that’s when I heard strange noises. Maybe it was the wind through the rafters but I swear I heard a woman wailing as if in mourning and once a child’s laughter. It started getting so bad in the rusty steel shed that I thought I was losing my mind. My wife didn’t believe me until one Saturday after a girl’s night out she herself heard footsteps and ended up coating the barn walls in pepper spray! Then one night, these disturbing sounds culminated in a haunting that convinced me we had to look for new carports. Tamworth builders suddenly seemed like great value for the relief we’d be getting.

That night I parked the car, already tense and sweaty, ready to bolt from the shed to the front door just to avoid hearing those awful sounds. So I leapt out of the car and tried to run, but something snagged the back of my jacket. I shrieked and spun around and then I saw it: a woman dressed in white, her face covered in tears and a child in her arms. I ran to the safety of the house and I swore to knock down that haunted shed. We got our new awnings for the cars and I’ve never looked back since!

Help from a buyers advocate

I Buyers advocate Melbournedon’t think there’s much out there that’s worse than the sinking feeling you get when you realise you’re wrong. There’s something in me, and I don’t know if everyone else has it, that needs to be right. I need to have all the facts, all the time, and make the right choice. I feel like I can’t afford to be wrong, that if I’ve been wrong, that means there’s something wrong that exists in me, and all wrongs need to be righted. So I’d rather just be right the first time around. This mentality is one of the reasons why I am a notorious planner. I plan everything down to the tee, I reign in the experts to get second, third, fifth, twenty-second opinions so that I can have at least some degree of certainty that this is the right decision to make.

All of this is perfectionism, pure and simple, when you boil down to it, but that doesn’t bother me. But with more arbitrary decisions, things like buying a house, for instance, need a little more care. The problem is it’s just so subjective. Even the most expert buyers advocate in Melbourne is only capable of giving me their opinion. I know it will be useful, how could it not? They’re experts, they deal with hundreds of people like me looking for a home everyday. But I worry that I might lose myself in their expertise. That I might value their judgement over their own. I’m so used to second guessing myself in the quest to be right that I’m not sure I’m capable of just letting go and accepting the possibility of making a mistake.

More than that, if it was all a mistake, if I bought the wrong place and regretted it, or it wasn’t a good fit with my life, I’d blame any property advocates in Melbourne I used to come to that conclusion. Obviously, it wouldn’t be their fault, but a part of me would feel like it was. So I don’t know what to do. Either I get help, as I would for any other situation or I go it alone. Two scary alternatives.

Dog walking

SDog walking Melbourneo I was out walking my dogs this morning since it was my day off work and I got talking to this really nice lady. She had a dog with her and it was playing with my dog, and as we got talking it turns out she was at work, right then and there. How? She’s one of what I can only assume is a community of dog walkers in Melbourne. That’s right, apparently Melbourne is a bit of a hub for dog walkers. I mean, I can see how. We have so many beautiful parks everywhere and everyone here always seems to be pressed for time. Anyhow, I expressed a bit of interest in dog walking and she ended up giving me a business card and asking me to call her if I decided I was interested in walking dogs to make a bit of money.

I left all smiles and it wasn’t until I was walking home that I had a real look at the business card and a hard think about what had just happened. I’m still at school, so any work would have to be part time, but I’ve actually been looking for a job for a really long time. I mean, I want to travel at the end of the year once I’ve finished school, and that means I have to have made some money. All my friends who want to make any money are stuck working at Maccas or something equally as terrible just to basically nothing. I have no idea how it would pay, but dog walking in Melbourne for a living sounds just amazing. Doing something a little bit active and different like this is absolutely perfect. I mean, I love dogs and I love walking. It kind of sounds like a match made in heaven.

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