Saturday, May 17, 2014

Moving Up in the World - Literally!

Here I am, finally, post-move. Transported from a huge, mouldy, freezing cold, art deco semi-detached in stuffy East Malvern to a relative balmy first-floor medium-sized seventies flat in quiet, unpretentious but prosperous Gardenvale. Oh, it hasn’t been easy, but it is slowly proving to have been worthwhile.

Moving is just rife with metaphors: I got here in one piece but my sense of self is higgledy-piggledy. I am seeing already how a different space makes you a slightly different person. Your brain is forced to forge new paths to map out daily routines, for example.

It is quieter than living on busy Wattletree Road, despite several major arterials being close. The acoustics of the building itself are pretty bad but the other tenants are relatively quiet (except for last night when the people downstairs had their mates over – why are so many Australian males so boorish, loud, and unaware of themselves?) – Normally these people take to their beds at around 11 pm. One of them seems to get up at 5.30 am to go to work, but I am already up at that time with menopausal insomnia anyway!

The flat is also great for my allergies. My skin is clearer, my face less puffy and my scalp not itchy. I would probably have more energy too, if I wasn’t spending it moving things around!

The first week was challenging, because the forced deadline of the auction meant that everything was incredibly rushed towards the end, and because I just have too much stuff. It was impossible to find things that I needed and I kept forgetting to buy stuff at the supermarket. (Actually I still haven’t found my reading glasses, but without them my eyes are adjusting to normal type – did I really need them in the first place?)

The auction itself went like clockwork. I didn’t realise till the day afterward the extent of the sacrifice I’d made for its success. Keeping some furniture and pictures untouched for the final inspection (going against all advice!) meant that the Sunday before the move on Monday was just crazy. I had done loads of packing in the preceding weeks, and most of the in-depth cleaning (cupboards etc) but there was still an amazing amount to do. Luckily Mum and Dad came over to help in the morning, and my older sister and her husband did a couple of hours in the afternoon.

I swear having my stuff set up nicely in that sad old place must have added another 20 000 dollars to the selling price – it went for 720 000 in the end (and will need at least another 100 000 to bring up to any sort of scratch). But I am getting every cent of my bond back, despite putting my foot down about having to steam clean the carpet (this requirement is standard on Victorian rental leases but I knew the mangy, filthy thing was just going to be pulled up anyway).

Funnily enough, the move itself was relatively easy, because for a few hours we had three strong men helping us (I had booked two, but in an incredibly lucky break, a third came along for training and was more than happy to help with boxes etc). It was when the men left that the hard slog began.

There was a moment of crisis in the move itself. It rained for a short time (oh gloomy day!), and when the burly men started walking into the house they brought wet grass from their boots onto the pale, tubercular-looking carpet – calamity! Luckily when I expressed concern about this, the head honcho brought in blankets and spread them all over the floor. Disaster mostly averted.

There was a brief moment after they had put the lounge suite in when the place looked like a home and I even indulged in a brief sit-down. And then they brought in all the boxes – dozens and dozens! It just went on and on, the men bringing piles of them up the stairs on the trolleys until the lounge room was full. How had I managed to accumulate so much crap?

Gradually, over nine or ten days I cleared the mess and the lounge took on the look of a living space. There are still a whole lot of ornaments I am probably going to eBay, but it’s a really nice space. I couldn’t believe when I saw it for only the second time ever – which was after the removal from the old place was done – how big the lounge actually was.

My study is very cosy and there is a problem in this room (and the kitchen) with the slimline venetians not blocking out the northern sun. This will be a big deal in summer, but one advantage of it at this time of year is that it really heats up the room and will be great for drying clothes. In preparation for summer I intend to buy a laptop and put a table in the lounge room and perhaps work there on really hot days. I am also thinking about buying some kind of windscreen shield and just putting it on the office window.

The main problem at the moment is ongoing exhaustion fighting with a desire to be constantly out of the house (especially the beach, a shortish drive away). Physically I need to ‘marshal my resources’. I am still going constantly up and down the steps and moving things to the rubbish bins, or to the car boot for ultimate disposal at the op shop. And still there is so much stuff that I just don’t need. After giving a heap of it away in a flurry of downsizing before I moved (and wondering if I should have flogged off my comfy cream couch instead of putting it on Zilch ...) I have decided to sell off my prized (?) collection of kitsch pictures.

Which brings me to something that was a huge bugbear when I first moved in but is becoming less so. There were hardly any picture hooks and the lease requires me to ask the landlord if I want to affix anything to the wall at all – including those supposedly removable hooks – the small peeled section of wall in the lounge room testifies to the possible unfortunate financial fate of a former tenant who used  one such hook. This is the nature of the Australian rental market at work. As prices skyrocket due to insane tax breaks for investors, they get stricter about maximising the value of their lucrative investment, with the need to ensure their tenants feel at home coming a poor second.

But really, this is small beer. I know how lucky I am to be here and I’m going to make the most of it.

Being in an entirely new area is very strange. I can’t believe how different it feels from East Malvern, and that I didn’t know how large adjoining South Caulfield was. It seems now like a hidden part of Melbourne (whereas East Malvern wants to show itself off), so in some ways I feel as if I am almost living in another city. Weird and disorientating but in a good way.


  1. Hi Catherine,

    Ultimately, I hope that this change will be as good as (an extended) holiday for you :)

    Btw - I have deferred my thesis til next year. It turned out that the data I was told was available (and which I based my thesis preps on) did not exist. And, I only found this out a week out from thesis defence. I decided to defer. I was fortunate enough to get the first job full-time job I applied for (and a job I was/am really interested in), and they say they are happy for me to go part-time next year when I re-start my thesis.

    I am two weeks into the job, and I am exhausted. BUT, I woke this morning at 2am, and I felt excited about going to work today. It's been a long time since I had that feeling, Catherine :)


  2. Hi Kate,

    That's fantastic - congrats on getting the job, and great that you can go part time next year. Feeling excited is definitely a good sign :)

    Having a break from your thesis could be a good thing - with time to think about it, perhaps you'll end up with another angle altogether or whole other area. Thesis topics sometimes have a life of their own :)