Australia: Pig in the City (that’s a Babe 2 reference by the way, I’m not dubbing myself a pig, shhhh)

Hello you sparkly bastard,

I’m afraid today’s must be a short entry only, for I am quite preoccupied with this hectic business of carving a life out of the sandstone that is Melbourne; I say sandstone over any other rock because, like sandstone, it’s seems the case that the moment you get it hewn into a satisfactory shape, it falls apart. But let’s start at… oh, I don’t know, the beginning, shall we? We can adhere to convention just this once; it’ll be our little secret.

Moving to this city was odd, but you already knew it was going to be odd moving here after life on the farm. It seemed so odd at first, however, as to seem grotesque, grim, repulsive, like watching a stream of sorry ants coalescing up a building side, none of them quite sure why they’re doing what they’re doing. The skyscrapers were beautiful as I wound into the city on my red bus, but the lack of space was startling. All those people, stacked on top of one another, packed into trams, backed up at traffic lights. In six hours I had gone from a place where everybody owned at least fifty acres of land and spent their evenings watching the sunset over the forest, to a place where you’d consider yourself extremely lucky to live smack bang in the middle of a hundred storey building stuffed with a thousand other people, with a five-figure rent owed to your south-facing room offering a view of all the other skyscrapers stuffed with weary businesspeople microwaving lasagnes in their kitchenettes.

There was a lot of neon and a lot of advertisements on that night time bus ride, and I felt, if I’m honest, as if I was making an enormous mistake. I liked the countryside, I liked the quiet, I was happy – what the hell possessed me to leave? But I elbowed my brain and told him to knock it off; it would take some adjusting, but it would be fine. The farm was at an end, I couldn’t have stayed forever. When choosing between hurt now or hurt later, I’ll always opt for now.

I arrived at Kate’s place, an Aussie friend I met in Bangkok back in late July. We’ve kept in touch since, and she generously offered her place as somewhere for me to crash when I arrived in Melbourne. To be honest I felt incredibly guilty crashing because I don’t know Kate too well and didn’t want to intrude on her lifestyle. But there’s a silver lining to that – the guilt encouraged me to crack the fuck on in sorting out a life for myself.

I spent my first week at the library; I started the week at the Richmond Library, then graduated to the magnificent State Library of Victoria, Australia’s oldest library and one of the first free libraries in the world. I took a book out, A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway, because I dunno, I quite fancied another crack at his prose to see what I could learn. It’s not gripped me enormously so far, but there’s still time. The State Library is a fantastic building, an amazing place to write. The internet there barely works too, which is brilliant as it’s harder for me to procrastinate.

My favourite room is the Dome, which is a colossal ceiling in the shape of – shock – a dome. There are green lamps that rain soft reading light onto ancient oaken desks, and the room is silent save for distant footfall and the echoing leaf of turning pages. The ceiling is glass, the masonry is spotless white, the woodwork is deep brown; it feels a bit like sitting in the middle of a large easter egg that somebody’s had a nibble on. It is inspiring and exciting in that odd way that old libraries always are; nothing is exactly happening – in fact far less than just about anywhere else in the city – but there’s an energy in the air; tangible intellect and plotting and the hum of creation, and the feeling that any moment some leather-bound, dusty old tome is going to tumble inexplicably off a shelf, land open at a double-page spread of an eldritch rune and begin spewing giddy magic between the benches, turning everybody’s shoelaces into spaghetti.

I had a couple of calls regarding jobs in my first week – I applied first for copywriting and SEO jobs, which is what I know and enjoy, and then I panicked after a couple of days without a phone call and applied for just about everything I came across. From my first Thursday to the following Monday, I heard not a peep. It was the weekend of course, but this didn’t occur to me and I instead concluded I was a shit moron and nobody would ever pay me to do anything ever again. However, on Monday or Tuesday my phone began buzzing, around six times in total. By the Wednesday I had four interviews for writing work, a trial shift at an events removals company, and a chat with a nice lady about washing up in her cafe. I was so happy about the former four that I cancelled the latter two – I know I’m here on a working holiday visa and I need money, but something in me just really, really wanted to hold out a little bit longer and continue on my career path rather than go back to dish washing – a job I last did fourteen years ago.

I had an interview on Friday for an SEO position and I’ve another tomorrow. It all feels a bit knife-edgy right now. Tomorrow or the day after I could get a call and be merry and employed and safe and reasonably monied, or I could be absolutely bollocksed. Well, thing are no worse than they were when I moved to Berlin (okay, actually they are a bit trickier because I can’t very well pack up and go home if it all goes pear shaped) and everything worked out fine there – even though I had to live off carrot-infused pasta dishes for a month or two and lost about a stone in weight. There’s always freelancing to fall back on, though it may take time to earn enough to fully support myself.

I’ve moved into a new place in North Melbourne. It’s a converted warehouse and I got the keys yesterday. It’s basic, quirky, I suppose you could say bohemian. There’s a Spanish girl, a Korean girl, a Japanese girl, a Spanish guy and a French guy. I’ve only met two of them so far, but they seem friendly. The view from the kitchen table is great – it looks right out at the Queen Victoria market, and from where I’m sitting as I write this I can see the merry chaos of onion traders and leather jacket peddlers and broccoli hawkers and cheese smiths, and behind the market loom the purple and white skyscrapers of the CBD, windows reflecting blue sky daubed with clouds. The rent here is two hundred and thirty bucks a week, which you can earn in ten hours at a minimum wage job. So then, in order to survive Melbs my goal is to earn just under a thousand dollars over the next four weeks; in theory, very easy. Everything is easy in theory.

Ah fuck it, bring it on.

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