It is a blustery Saturday afternoon in Melbourne. I have some wet clothes hanging on my balcony, and Notus, Greek god of the southern wind, is trying to scatter them throughout the neighborhood. It rained yesterday, yet earlier today I got so much sun through a cafe window I felt like my face was going to melt. Melbourne Weather(tm): If you don’t like it, wait fifteen minutes.
I have a place to live. I have some new friends. I have been to Ikea twice, and moved some big boxes home using public transit. I recently made my own eggs, for the first time in over nine months. I am rapidly becoming a real person again, instead of a speck of pollen floating on the winds of change.
Open Questions: Is it still considered “traveling” once you have you’ve signed a lease and built Ikea furniture? If not, is this still considered a travel blog if I continue to make posts about my non-travels?
Room Hunting – Success!
Before heading to Melbourne from Perth, I put an ad up on Gumtree (aka “bizarro Craigslist”), describing myself and my search for a open room in one of the hip parts of town.
The first response was from a girl named Kat, saying that she didn’t have a open room for me to move into yet, but that she was organizing a group of people to apply for a lease on “the best house ever”. A few days later I met the crew, saw the house, and signed an application. A few days after that we were approved, and later that week we moved into our new five-bedroom home in Fitzroy.
This description of events probably makes the entire process sound easy, but it was anything but. There were hiccups with the leasing agency involving my foreign status (ixnay on the ackpackerbay!) and my self-employed status (“If you don’t have a boss to verify your income, we’ll settle for talking to your accountant.” “Uh, I don’t have an accountant. I handle my own finances.” “What?”). After being approved for the house, one person backed out. We scrambled to find someone to fill the hole, but only managed to scare a few people off (desperate, needy people do not make the best first impressions on potential housemates).
Eventually we struck a deal that allowed us to move in with three people, and add more at a later date. We have been having much more luck with prospective housemates now that we actually have the house to show them, instead of a few photos and a copy of the floor plan.
I’m now the token boy in the house, enjoying the perks (and higher price) of the master bedroom, sharing the place with Kat, Augie and Corinna. Feelers are out for someone to fill the empty room — preferably a guy to assist with beer/meat consumption and wingman duties.
Room Hunting = speed dating
I’m not one to put all of my eggs into one basket, so I actively looking for other housing options until I finally put pen to lease papers. This was a lot of fun.
I went to check out a lot of potential homes, and drank a lot of free beer/coffee with a lot of potential roommates. Sometimes I clicked more with the room than the roommates. Sometimes I clicked more with the beer than the room. And sometimes I clicked more with the roommates than either. I actually met a few great people in the process.
My friend Owen from college met his current girlfriend when he looked at a room she had open in her apartment. He looked at the apartment, met the people, and went home… only to write an email describing himself as pro-girl but anti-apartment. I used to give him shit for this lazy way of meeting women (yes, I was the bitter single guy critiquing the methods of my seemingly happy friends in relationships), but now I finally understand that this is an absolutely wonderful way to meet people — potentially romantic, definitely platonic, whatever.
It’s like a strange version of speed dating, but by calling it something else people lose all of their weird meeting-new-people hangups. It’s like when my parents told me that calamari rings were a special type of fried cheese during my picky eating years, and tricked me into a lifetime of seafood-appreciation
Now I have a place to live AND some people to hang out with.
Note: this was all permissible since I was actually looking for a place to live. Would it be creepy to go room hunting with no intention of actually moving? Most likely, yes. However, if I were to do it again, would it be in the Top 5 list of creepy things I’ve done? No, probably not.
The death of a backpacker
I emptied my backpack of all of its contents and hid it on the top shelf of my closet. The Green Menace (previously unnamed, but it looks a bit scary up there) has treated me well over the past three months, but I’m temporarily over the concept of living out of a bag… even if it’s a wonderful bag.
I walked by a local hostel a few days ago on my way to buy something deliciously domestic like 500 thread count sheets. I saw some hairy, shirtless, dreadlocked guys trying to parallel park their giant camper van in a tiny space in front of the building. With a smug smile on my face, I thought “Fuck you hippies, I’m out!”.
All plans for future travel are on hold. Darwin, Alice Springs, Cairns, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Japan: screw off. I’m in MELBOURNE.
“How long are you staying?”
Everyone I meet here asks me this. Stop nagging me, I don’t know!
The lease I signed (12 months) is longer than the time remaining on my visa (9 months). If I end up wanting to do some brief traveling (and return) I’ll need to sublet. If I want/need to leave the area permanently, I’ll have to find someone to take over my portion of the lease.
If I want to stay longer than January 2011, I have some additional visa options. I have six months or so before I need to make a decision!
My new friend Tom (who happens to have a lovely room for rent in North Fitzroy) recently invited me out to a pub trivia night in Brunswick, and now I’m hooked.
I always forget just how much I love the rush that comes from probing the depths of my brain for esoteric information, while numbing said depths with copious amounts of beer.
Our two-man team came in 3rd overall out of around twelve teams. The teams that did better than us had far more people than we did. I reckon we’ll be serious contenders if we can add a few more people to the crew! Actually, I don’t care about the top prize… just as long as we keep winning some of the free beer rounds!
The Supermarket of Plenty
I know that stealing is wrong. However, I believe that random errors in my favor are oh so right.
The first time I went to my new local supermarket, I received $10 more in change than I was due, but didn’t realize it until I got home.
The next time I went, I got home and found that among my numerous plastic grocery bags was one full of stuff I hadn’t picked out or paid for. The guy in front of me in line left me a rotisserie-cooked chicken and multigrain rolls!
Random events? Karmic reward for some past good I’ve done? Who cares — beer money and chicken sandwiches!
I tried to register for some improv classes which supposedly just started in Melbourne, but the people in charge haven’t responded to any of my email inquiries. Come on jerks, I want some stage time!