Friday, 29 June 2012

Northcote. Lovely!

The good folk of Northcote welcome us with a local protest...

Northcote is very cool.

Did I mention that one of the things I love about living in Melbourne is that no matter how long you've been here, you keep discovering new things?

Northcote is one of them.

Of course I'd always heard of Northcote. And I assumed, after visiting my aunt several times in the nearby suburb of Thornbury, that I'd pretty much been to Northcote. I mean, Thornbury is only just a bit north of there, and it still has High St, so what is Northcote but Thornbury with a few more hipsters?

Oh how wrong I was.

Firstly, Northcote is on a hill. If you've seen the flat glory of Thornbury and most of the north west, you'd admit that finding a hill in that part of Melbourne is quite remarkable. And it is pretty. Lots of little old houses, lovely shop fronts, cute little second hand stores and cafes with awesome food.

So, of course, I decided that I wanted to move to Northcote!

Northcote is, admittedly, full of hipsters. And hippies, and seriously friendly people who don't appear to be familiar with the concept of irony. I guess irony is the refuge of us eastern suburbs folk who suspect there are much cooler places to be that we aren't yet aware of…

We were lucky to chance upon the opening of a festival in High St… Northern Exposure. This featured lots of fun and unexpected street art.

This fire hydrant played music to us via the attached synthesiser...

We also had the chance to see a couple of bands at a very quirky cafe with cute little tables and cute little tablecloths. They served crepes and mulled wine. Awesome.

Northcote should definitely be a stop for any hip-seeking tourists, and for those of you who live in Melbourne and haven't been there yet, go! Just don't move there, I want to be able to afford the rent...

Fabulous vintage fabric store down the road in Westgarth...

The lovely Westgarth cinema... even the bathrooms are pretty!

Monday, 18 June 2012

The orchards

One of the lovely things about living in Melbourne again is discovering new places. My next few posts will take a light-hearted look at some of these, in contrast to my last, existential post…

If you head down High Street Road away from Glen Waverley and into Wantirna South, you can find a remnant of the orchards that used to cover much of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The rolling hills are gorgeous in the early morning sunlight with its strong, stark shadows.

In fact the shadows look great at this time of day.

The fruit and vegetables are still sold in wooden tubs, and the outhouses are all corrugated iron. For somewhere so close to Melbourne, it felt like we were out in the country.

A few minutes up the road there is a flower and vegetable shop run out of what looks like a shipping container.

This place has more of a feel of somewhere in Southeast Asia.

The vegetables looked lovely and fresh in the morning air.

Plus we were greeted by a friendly cat, enjoying the sunshine.

A lovely morning out, while still so close to home!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Who are you? What do you do?

So many of us define ourselves and others by what we do. You know, "I'm a plumber, painter, lawyer... [insert other profession here]". Up until a year ago I was a public servant, a policy officer, but I kind of hit a wall. Partly it was having been in Canberra for seven years. I remember when I first moved there people said to me "Once you've lived in Canberra seven years you never leave." I laughed at the time, thinking there was no way I was going to be in Canberra that long. So when I got to the seven year mark last March, I started to ask myself "Is this it?" "Is this how I want the rest of my life to be?"

I knew I didn't want to live in Canberra the rest of my life. This isn't a Canberra bagging session, don't worry, I just knew it wasn't my type of place. So I determined that I would move back to Melbourne within twelve months. Knowing that I couldn't do the same sort of job in Melbourne made me question my job too, and my career direction, and before I knew it I decided that the career I was pursuing - policy and international development - just didn't interest me anymore. I was over it. It sounds callous, and I know these are very worthy, as well as interesting, jobs. But I was getting burnt out by Canberra politicking and by having the same development arguments (what works? Does anything work? Why?) that I'd had for ten years or so. I wanted to spread my wings a bit more, and explore other aspects of myself that might lead to a more fulfilling job.

I knew I wanted to try something more creative, aesthetically, but what? After musing for a few months, I chose textile design. I applied for a course, was accepted, and started only a few months later. Suddenly I was a poor student again, living with my parents in my old family home, buying clothes in op shops and working longer and longer hours on my homework.  I missed my apartment, my weekends, that sense of knowing and being confident about my work. And mostly I wondered why I was flogging myself in a course that I wasn't even sure I wanted to be doing. I realised after talking to several very clever people that I hadn't given myself a lot of time to pick a new career, to really work out what I wanted to do.

So for the next chapter of my adventure, I've decided to take some time off. I'm going to India to do a bit of soul searching... a la Eat Pray Love. It is exciting, and most people I talk to are envious of me having this opportunity.

But it's also scary. I've known what I wanted to do for so long, that being in this limbo state is disconcerting. Now when people ask me what I do, I don't know what to say, apart from giving them a shortened version of the above and ending with an uncertain "…so I guess I'll just have to see how I go." As much as we grumble about our jobs, they give us a sense of our place in the world, and of the contribution we make. Take that away and we are a whole lot of ideas, saddled with lots of furniture and probably too many pieces of clothing.

Who knows where this chapter will take me? Most days I feel quite zen about it. I'm willing to wait for a while and see what happens.