After graduating from high school, I decided to study web development in Melbourne. I remember the first day of my course very clearly, the mingling excitement and apprehension that I felt, and the thrill of attending my first class. It was a few minutes into my first lecture that I discovered something was awry. I looked around the room at the people in my lecture, wondering what on earth was giving me this feeling. Then it hit me – almost everyone in my web design degree was male.
I’d never had this experience before and felt slightly out of place. I later realised how underrepresented women are in the information technology industry and instead of feeling awkward I began to feel proud. It’s true that times are changing, while there are a few girls like me in my computer programming and game design classes, I guess there used to be even less. It’s obvious that higher education institutions along with the government and not-for-profits are making an effort to promote women to join this heavily male-dominated field.
I learned to cope with being in the minority by befriending my fellow female students for a bit of solidarity, and also making male friends for a bit of balance. After that, I started to take this budding-feminism a little further by reading some femo literature and joining some women’s clubs. It was a great experience to meet like-minded people and show the world that yes, women too can study anything they want, even IT courses. Melbourne is one of the most progressive cities in the world, so what better place to start making positive change. I even sought out some scholarships and funding opportunities that were offered outside of my academy to help me along with my studies. It really did give me a warm fuzzy feeling to know that others are willing to help. Now whenever I find myself in a male-dominated workplace or endeavour, I’m full of confidence that I can do as good a job as they can and bring about some more gender equality in the world.
I’ve been to a fair few funerals in my time but recently when my father passed away, I had my first experience of organising one with a funeral director. My siblings and I shopped around among the funeral services in Perth and found one that we felt would be most willing to accommodate our needs. Dad was a pretty quirky character. He had a lifelong obsession with Queen so we wanted to have some of his memorabilia around during the funeral service, and he had three border collies which he loved dearly, so we wanted them to have the chance to say goodbye. We ended up settling on a funeral home that was willing to meet our needs.
The funeral director that was in charge of
the service was probably the best one that I’ve ever experienced. All funeral directors that I’ve experienced have been compassionate and calm but this guy went above and beyond what I as expecting. I’m going to keep him in mind if I ever have to recommend funeral homes. Perth has a lot of reputable funeral homes so I’m sure there are other good ones. The director that we had at my dad’s funeral service was special because he has a tactful way of comforting the relatives. For example, my sister was becoming a bit flustered and rude when there was a bit of a mix up with the flower arrangement – but the funeral director kept his cool and managed to rectify the situation immediately (After all, it wasn’t his fault that the florist had made a mistake). The experience that this funeral director gave us really made me feel a profound gratitude towards him. Not only did he help us through a difficult time by organising the service, his kindness and understanding actually helped me with my grief. I thought that this man is a kind of unsung hero of our country, no one realises how much of a positive impact funeral directors can make on a grieving person’s life.
I live in inner city Melbourne where a lot of weird, wonderful and sometimes wacky stuff goes down. For example, the city is famous for its art and culture, which more often than not originates with renegades and eccentrics who are pushing the boundaries. My recent experience in Melbourne was a testament to this process.
I stepped outside in the late evening to get some clothes off the line when I discovered a sewer floating in the air. I couldn’t find the source immediately but when I went out onto the street I saw that a burst sewer pipe was gushing gunk out onto the street. I gagged with revulsion and went inside to call the council. Within the hour, the drain repair company in Melbourne came out to attend to the mess. I was impressed at how speedy they were and they also told me they could get the job done within 24hrs which was a huge relief.
A couple of hours later I went back outside to inspect their progress and what I discovered was a total shock. The workers had dug a huge hole in the street because not only was the sewer pipe damaged but they’d also unearthed a crack in the stormwater drain beneath the street. However, just beneath the spot where they were digging, some punk kids were having a party inside the storm water drain. The drain was mostly dry as it hadn’t rained for a few days and they’d set up tealight candles and a sound system in the drain! The kids were just packing by the time the drain contractors reached the pipe.
I have to hand it to those kids for their inventiveness in finding a quirky free venue – not that I condone their illegal activity. It’s this creativity that I love about Melbourne, but it’s also the efficiency of the services. Thank goodness the services for sewer replacement around Melbourne are so good because the job was done by morning and the stink mostly gone.
I’ve moved offices a bit in my time. My time hasn’t even been that long, but…well, maybe I just move around a lot. Never happy, I suppose. I need to settle down at some point, but right now I seem to be on the office grind…one office after another. I guess that means I’ve picked up a few skills here and there, photocopying included, as well as fetching coffee and fixing up paperwork for conveyancing. Melbourne was the first place I worked as a conveyancer, even though I wasn’t there for too long. Really nice people in that job, actually, which always makes things easier, particularly when you stumble into a job and just sort of have to learn a lot of things on the fly. I was okay dealing with the clients and I could do up a tie pretty well (even a bow-tie) but I felt a bit reclusive at times. Sometimes I just wanted to do my work and go home, not because I didn’t like the people there because they were really great, but more because I just…didn’t really feel up to social interaction. Whenever we’d have some kind of work social outing or we’d stay back and eat pizza, I’d die a little bit inside. Maybe I’m better now, not that I have many opportunities to show it.
So yeah, conveyancing. I didn’t imagine myself as a conveyancing solicitor when I was growing up, but you know how it is when you don’t have a solid career in mind. You tend to bounce, a bit like a ball in a pinball machine. Hopefully you just keep bouncing until you light up some things, score some points and finally end up starting again. So I’d rather be…I don’t know, Perk-Man? Just eating little pellets around a maze, avoiding the ghosts and still progressing to a higher level of the same thing. Yeah, a bit of the same thing would be nice. Still, the Melbourne conveyancing solicitor gig was nice, while it lasted.
Some people say I have a green thumb, which is really just kind of silly. I don’t even have time to grow things, so I don’t know what they mean. My garden is just kind of…well, it does its own thing most of the time. So I guess you could say it’s a bit wild. If you wanted to, I dunno. Can if you want.
I suppose there are some flowers. Sometimes I use them to test my memory skills, because you know, as you stop being a teenager your brain starts losing cells or whatever. I’ve heard that, so I try to remember all the names of whatever’s in my garden. So on the left you have a row of daffodil double ice king, so named for their white colour. Yeah, dunno how they got there. Wait, did I plant those bulbs earlier, in the spring? Yeah, I think I did, actually…and there we go, my memory is already fading to pretty much nothing. My downward spiral has begun, and soon I’ll be struggling to sign any kind of form because I can’t remember how my own signature goes.
So yeah, those are daffodils. They sure are nice, you know? They can be hard to grow but they really add a bit of colour to the place once you get them up there and healthy. So yeah, daffodils and such, but I’m not sure I remember most of the others. They’re, like…hyacinths? I don’t know much about them, but they look nice so I thought I’d give them a go.
I really shouldn’t spend so much time out there. I mean, it’s not like flowers really do anything for anyone. I don’t even have a girlfriend to palm them off to, so really…they’re just colourful. I guess that’s fine, the way they are. And I mean, that sure is a lot of colour, you know? I didn’t even know when I got those mixed Hyacinth bulbs that I’d be looking at this much awesome colour. So yeah, maybe I’ll get some more bulbs, plant some more plants…depending on the season, of course.
I run a very tight ship here in this construction yard. We pay our workers very well, but in return, they have to agree to keep the whole workplace free from course talk and other such nasty behaviours. These include burping, slurping, belching, squelching, rumbling, scrumming, and not having a shower beforehand. More severe punishments can be handed out for rough language, not ironing one’s uniform, talking ill of people behind their back and any behaviour deemed ‘ungentlemanly’. We are all honourable men here, and I would hate for anyone to forget this.
After all, the reputation of Melbourne aluminium toolboxes must be upheld. Too long has it been associated with course behaviour, indecent acts of bodily scratching and the word ‘dunny’. Such things are deplorable, at least in my version of the workplace. Were it my version of a proper place of business, even a construction site, we would have morning and afternoon tea at predictable intervals and cucumber sandwiches would be passed around (with watercress once per week, on Friday afternoons) whilst we’re served tea from a ceramic pot. I know the tools of our trade- under tray draws, toolboxes, aluminium accessories- do not speak of delicacy, but I wish to turn that stereotype around. We are not bound by the mistakes and crude ways of the past.
Currently, I am tolerating the coffee break phenomenon, wherein people will drink coffee and sometimes consume greasy snacks. Positive change doesn’t happen overnight, after all. I’m willing to change things one step at a time. However, the language issue is something I’m firm on. They are aluminium accessories, not simply mashed in with ‘gear’.
My bestie Amy and I had just finished one of the hardest things either of us had done in all our years as friends. We had finally officially completed a ten week fitness boot camp. It was an incredibly intensive fitness program for people determined to lose a lot of weight as possible within the ten weeks. It was one of the most challenging and amazing experience of my life and I am so proud of us for getting through it. It’s all part of our new year’s resolution to get fitter and look better. Amy and I decided that we needed to treat ourselves as a reward for our accomplishment. We together and spoke of all the years we’d known each other and all the battles we had been through together.
We toasted to our success with a wheatgrass juice and congratulated each other on losing more weight than we had planned. To celebrate, Amy suggested we book ourselves in for a few cosmetic treatments, I’m thinking dermal fillers in Melbourne. It was a fantastic idea, complete our makeover by having a few little things done to make us look a few years younger. I picked up the phone with glee and made two appointments. A total makeover is going to go perfectly with our new bodies. I can’t wait to see the look on the face of the people at work when we show up looking ten years younger. We’ll probably need to think about anti wrinkle injections, Melbourne ladies are no stranger to getting their fine lines sorted out. I simply could not believe the confidence that was radiating off my friend Amy. I had never seen her looking so happy and confident. I took a second to think and to my shock I also hadn’t felt this happy in a long time either. We both had a new lease on life and things were going to be different from now on. We were two smart and beautiful individuals ready to take on the world.
Lately I’ve been feeling kind of down and I can’t seem to shake it. I have been moping around my house for last week now. I even missed my usual appointment to get laser hair removal, Melbourne is just too big for me sometimes. I haven’t felt brave enough to venture out into the real world and be social. I’ve had all the curtains drawn and the lights turned off most of the time, I’ve been enjoying it. I took my friends coming over to visit and telling me that I needed to snap out of it for me make a plan. My best friend ever Liz knows how to give me a stern talking to when I need to hear it the most. She came over after hearing that I hadn’t been to work in two weeks and that none of my friends or family had heard from me. It happens every now and again, I have a few dark days or weeks. It definitely isn’t something to get very worried about. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut and can’t find my happy place, it is no big deal. I was happy to see Liz but wasn’t in the mood for her her lectures. I wanted to be covered in blankets, watching helpless romantic comedies until I fell asleep. Liz knew that it was all a lie and that I was incredibly sad. She spent the night with me in my house and her company was nice.
The next morning when we woke up Liz making me breakfast. I slowly emerged from the bedroom and Liz told me I had an appointment for anti aging injections in Melbourne. At first I was shocked, but then I couldn’t stop laughing. It was the perfect idea. This was the first I’d heard about our beauty appointments but it was nice. She smiled at me all big and beautiful and told me not to say another word on the matter. I really hope this is the start of something special between Liz and I.
Yesterday was my seven year old son Philip’s birthday and to tell the truth it did not look at all like it was going to go well. It was one of those classic broken home scenarios, where, having told Philip’s father almost six months ago that organising his birthday was his responsibility, since I take care of basically everything else. About a week out, I got a call from the police station telling me that Philip’s father was currently in jail and that he’d told them to contact me. This was not the shock it may have been, since Philip’s father had been in jail twice before, but it meant that there was no way anything birthday related was going to be organised by him. Once again, everything was down to me and the pressure was well and truly on.
Having paid almost no attention to what Philip’s father was working on (and secretly hoping whatever it was would fail, showing Philip once and for all how worthless his father is) I had no idea where to even begin. When I explained the situation to Philip, I decided the best course of action would be to ask him candidly what he wanted to do. To my surprise, he responded he wanted to do ice skating lessons with his friends. This was rather unexpected, and as a follow up question I asked Philip why and he explained that a friend of his, Mark, had had an ice skating party and he’d really enjoyed it.
This response made sense (although I didn’t remember him talking about that particular party) and so I began to look at ice skating rinks that also acted as kids party venues. Melbourne doesn’t have that many ice skating rinks and finding one that would be happy to host fifteen seven year olds wasn’t as difficult as I’d thought. In fact, my first choice of venue happened to be free on the very day I was after. So even though Philip’s father let me down once again, and once again all the responsibility was placed squarely on my shoulders, everything turned out fine in the end.
It’s come to my attention that the windows in our house are very old. The timber window sills almost crumble when you touch them now. I feel like it’s a welcome sign for burglars to come and try their luck. I had been asking my husband for a while to get them fixed but we kept putting it off as something always came up that was more important. My husband kept telling me not to worry about it, breaking in was not common in our area. Besides, he would scare them off before they were able to take anything. That wasn’t the point, I didn’t feel safe in my own home.
After more loving requests about fixing the old window frames my husband caved in and told me that he had organised the windows replacements. Melbourne has had a few high profile breaks ins according to the local paper and my husband was finally motivated. I was excited by the thought of new windows. I went online and had a look at the different types and styles of windows that we could have. I wanted something that would be safe but also look great. I looked at sash window and decided to get some aluminium windows instead put in the kitchen.
I wanted the windows in the lounge room to be aluminium double-hung. The local Melbourne aluminium window installers seemed to know what they were doing. Judging by their website I gave them a call to get some more information. When I spoke with the guy from the window repair place he was very helpful. He told me a few things I didn’t know about the differences between aluminium and timber windows which helped me with choosing the right windows for our home.
After explaining to him what I was looking for we locking in Aluminium windows as a replacement for the old ones. I had arranged to have someone come out and measure up the following day. My husband would be happy with the results, I bet we both kick ourselves that we didn’t get it done sooner.