On Slow Living, and Appreciation

I work in the city. And people in the city, it seems, are always in a rush. This is especially evident to me after returning from Tasmania, where everything seems to go at a much slower pace, and an infinitely calmer one at that.

I was walking to the bank this morning, taking my time because I had plenty of it before I had to open the shop. As I stood at the stoplights, waiting for the little green man to tell me I could walk, a man ahead of me pressed the button about ten times in quick succession. This is a habit that has always baffled me. Pressing the button more times is not going to make everything go faster. And yet, I see people doing it all the time. I understand that perhaps they are pressed for time, or simply impatient. But they are going to have to wait regardless, so why the need for pointless actions?

It’s the same when you walk down the street. I have witnessed pedestrians practically bowling other people over in their mad rush to get to a destination. I find rushing around rather denotes a lack of regard for one’s surroundings. And again, I understand that frustration; you’ve got a time limit, and you’re caught behind someone who is walking really slowly. But that is no need to physically shove someone out of your path – no matter how much you might be thinking about it.

I think we often forget to stop, and take stock of our surroundings. I wonder how many things we miss because we’re too busy rushing around. That whole “stop and smell the roses”thing is a cliche, certainly, but I think there is some merit to it. I live a busy life, and a fast one. Time seems to disappear more quickly than I can account for it (except when I’m bored out of my skull at work, of course) and I never seem to have time to stop and breathe, much less take time to do the things I love. By the time I get home (my days with travel can go for 12 hours), I have no energy or motivation to do anything. On the nights I cook, alternating with my housemate, I have even less motivation. I feel like I spend so much of my time working for the man, running errands, chasing things up and chasing things around, that I don’t really get to appreciate life, and the art of living.

My housemate and I have recently come to a decision to move out individually from our house, so that I can be closer to the new shop I’ll be working in as of next month. I have been looking at rental properties and most are within ten minutes drive of the new workplace. This means more time in the morning to enjoy breakfast, or a sleep in or whatever else that extra time will allow me. And it means I will get home within fifteen minutes of finishing work, rather than having to rely on unreliable public transport that has been known to take over an hour. This, in addition to having an actual sewing room again, is the thing that is going to make this next month bearable. I am thrilled at the prospect of having time to come home and eat, and still having energy and motivation to sit at the machine, or the computer, and create to my heart’s content. And, landlord permitting, I am going to get a dog. And I will walk him, and get back into the exercise that I have been sorely missing, and hopefully these things will mean I will get to better appreciate this little life of mine. And I really am rather excited. Slower living is going to make for a much happier Amy.

I Hate It Here

I’m not usually a ‘blog every day’ kind of girl. I don’t think I’m that interesting for a start, but also I really don’t often have something to talk about every day. But lately I’ve been blogging a lot more frequently. This has to do with two things; I rarely have anything to do at work in the mornings and so I need something to fill my time, and I need to keep my mind occupied so I don’t focus too much on the negative things that are swirling around me at the moment. I am trying very, very hard to keep on top of it all, and to stay positive and try and not let the bad stuff bring me down, but it’s not easy. Plus, I made a promise to myself to write 200 words per day, and even if it may not be for my current writing project, it has to be for something. And thus, lots of blog posts.

So, I was going to actually write about this yesterday, but my thoughts about Bourke St seemed more appropriate at the time. I started thinking about this post as I was driving to work yesterday. It wasn’t a particularly warm day, despite the fact that we’re coming up on the hottest month of the year, and the sky to the north of my house (in the direction of the city) was dark and moody, with the tease of a storm in the air. As I drove towards those imposing clouds, the contrast of the sun at my back seeming to turn them a darker shade of gloom, all I could think was that I wanted to chase them. And there was a part of me that would have done so, if it weren’t for my sense of responsibility urging me towards my place of employment instead of in the direction of the storm I so desperately long for. (which ultimately died away before it got much more interesting than light showers anyway). All I wanted, all I want is to drive away from this city and never come back.

It’s been just shy of five months since I moved. Hardly a long term commitment to city living. But already, I’m itching to leave. In the words of my eternal hero, Spider Jerusalem; I hate it here.

Image result for spider jerusalem I hate it here

It’s a lot of things that contribute to this all consuming hatred for my current way of living. I miss living on my own, I miss not having to commute for an hour to get to work, I miss having a job that didn’t make me miserable. And it seems ever since moving to this shop, things have been going wrong and getting progressively worse, to the point where I doubt every single day, my ability to do my job. There is a possible opportunity for advancement within my job in the coming months. An opportunity that has the potential to get me set up for a good long while. But the more I think about it, the more I realise that I’m not sure I want it. Yes, it would be a good opportunity for me, and yes I could say that I had achieved something big at the age of 24. But the crushing anxiety and doubt may just be too much for me to handle. And I know that doesn’t exactly sound like it fits in with my whole positive vibe, but the flipside is that my mental and emotional health is going to be at rock bottom if I continue like this, and I firmly believe that my health and happiness is more important than any amount of money.

Though I still don’t think leaving my home town was the wrong move, I think the place I moved was the wrong place. I come from a big country town/city, and it seems all the things I grew to hate about it in the year or so before I moved, are now the things that I once again long for. Go figure. The problem is, to return to that town would be inevitably taking a step back, and that’s not the direction I want to go. I want to keep moving forward. And so last night, I did a thing. After day long consideration, I applied for a job in another state. It would be a huge move so soon after my first big move, but I figure what the hell? I’m not going to stress about it, I’m just going to wait and see what happens. If I hear back, then I can take it as a sign that it was a good decision. If I don’t hear back, it just means that it wasn’t the right opportunity, or the right time. I haven’t had much luck making my own decisions recently, so I’m going to leave it in the hands of fate. As my best friend often tells me; the universe provides.

Whatever happens now, all I know is that this isn’t what I want, and it isn’t where I am meant to be. And I’m tired of being unhappy with the live I lead. I want to experience things, and I want adventure, and I want to live. No more of this stagnant, boring existence. I told myself things were going to change, and this time I’m not going to let myself be held back, by myself, or anyone/anything else. This is my time.

Thoughts on the Bourke St Incident

Four people were killed in the city yesterday. According to different reports, anywhere between twenty and thirty one were injured (according to most recent reports). Of those injured, one is an infant child, currently fighting for life in hospital. That is over twenty lives that were seriously affected by the actions of one man, not including all the relatives and friends of those killed or injured. One man. A man who, for whatever reason, decided to drive down the middle of Bourke St Mall during a busy Friday afternoon, and intentionally run down pedestrians in his car.

I really don’t know what to say. I can’t get in the mindset of someone who would do something like that. Of someone who would act with such reckless abandon, and obvious intent to cause injury.

Anyone who ever insists that one person is incapable of having an impact needs to read the newspaper. A single person has caused death, injury and destruction. The actions of one man affected the public transport system, the day to day lives of countless people who live and work in the city, the Friday afternoon trade. One man is solely responsible for widespread panic and is the embodiment of deep seated fear. Yes, one person can make a difference. But no one said that difference always has to be a good thing.

I got a number of messages and calls yesterday to make sure I was ok. Even some people I don’t know particularly well checked in, and I thought that was really sweet. In the face of tragedy, it’s comforting to know that there are still good people in the world. I work a few streets up from the mall, safely underground and far from dangerous drivers with malicious intent, but I still appreciated that people took the time to check and make sure I was safe.

I really don’t know what else to say, except to tell you to stay safe. The world is a big, crazy, and often dangerous place. And it’s after events like this that we need to stop and remember how fortunate we are. If nothing else, tell someone you love them today. Hug your friend. Kiss your partner long and deep, and mean it. Just…be kind to one another.

Tiny Positivity in an Otherwise Miserable Fortnight

My life is in the midst of falling spectacularly to pieces. I haven’t even been living in the city for a month, and already I’m missing home. And you know things are bad when I actually miss the town that had me feeling so stunted and stuck. I can’t work out if it’s just the adjustment period, or the bad headspace, or if it’s the combination of all the little things that have built up and turned into something so much bigger. Perhaps all of these things together attribute to this mess of mine.

It’s been a bad couple of weeks. I’ve been waking up every day to a wretched combination of existential dread, and depression, and it makes getting out of bed exponentially harder. I can’t shake it, so instead I have to go to work and feign normality and if not outright happiness, then at least some modicum of mild contentment. This week they finally got me into my new shop, which should have been awesome. But after a few days of drama, unnecessarily irate customers, the worst set up in the history of shop openings, and technical difficulties that make my job incredibly complicated and inconvenient, I can’t say it’s been a super thrilling ride thus far. The plus side is that the shop is new, I’m working on my own, and I can set it up how I like. The downside is that a franchisee if buying it in November, which means all my hard work is for the benefit of someone else. And to make matters worse, I just got out of the creepy, poorly organised shop that messes with my head and had me in tears last week, only to be told that when the franchisee takes over, they’ll put me back there six days a week. My increasingly fragile mental state might not be able to take it.

And then there’s those technical difficulties I mentioned. In addition to the troubles at work, a couple of weeks ago my laptop decided to stop cooperating. The dreaded black screen of death reared it’s ugly head, and I’m left with a laptop full of writing that I can’t access. It’s frustrating, especially for a creative person like me, who relies on being able to create to keep herself sane. My best friend/hero/emotional saviour is sending me a laptop to keep me going, so I have that to look forward to. I just have to work out a way to extract my hard drive from my poor defeated Atticus so that I can salvage my work. And if that wasn’t enough, yesterday my phone died with the same problem. With no explanation, it simply refused to turn on past a blank screen. So there goes all my photos, recordings, messages and phone numbers. I spent a larger portion of yesterday trying to set up a new phone but the inconvenience was certainly enough to make me throw my hands up in frustration.

In amongst all of this is trying to navigate the city (I’ve been lost a lot), working out how to happily live with someone else, trying to organise my one day off into some small measure of productivity and the underlying anxiety about uprooting my entire life for the possibility of something better that had, thus far, been very far from my expectation.

But despite all this, there is some light ahead. I woke up today and for the first time in two weeks, I didn’t feel like burying my head under the covers and hiding forever. The sun is out and there’s a real feel of spring in the air today. A hint of positivity peeked out from where it had been hiding and I am ready to tackle this day, and anything that comes with it. I’m hoping that this is the start of an upward curve. No pressure, Little Positivity. You just get me through today and I’ll be content.

Public Transport aka My Personal Hell

When I bought my first car, I swore I would never again take public transport. Not that I ever often did anyway, since walking is almost always a better alternative, but occasionally I did and it was enough to make me never want to do it again. And since then, I haven’t. But then silly little Amy went and moved to the city, and now has to catch more public transport than ever. Fool of a Took.

Last week I drove to work. This week, I figured it would be easier to train it in. Cheaper, more direct, slightly more efficient. Yeah, the fantasy was lovely but the reality of the situation is a lot less pleasant. First of all, there’s the people. City trains in peak travel times are absolutely packed. And I’m not just talking a couple of people standing in the aisles. I mean bodies pressed so tightly together it’s hard to tell where one ends and another begins. This brings with it the equally abhorrent side effect of having to contend with the combined smells of, like, a billion people; body odour and bad breath, weird perfumes and stale clothing. And the weather is still pretty cool, I dread to think how much worse it will be in summer.

Plus, I’m not familiar enough with train etiquette to feel entirely comfortable. Is it rude to hold the rail with both hands? Should I put my bag on the floor instead of over my shoulder to reduce space? Am I supposed to apologise when the lurching movement of the train inevitably knocks me against the three people closest to me? I’ve been doing my hardest to make myself as small as possible, and to not meet anyone’s eye but it sure does take a lot of work.

But it’s not just the people. Trying to navigate an unfamiliar city and new travel routes is complicated and overwhelming. Yesterday, on instruction of a Metro worker, I took a tram that took me in exactly the wrong direction. A twenty minute walk and missed train later, and I finally managed to get on the right train home. By the time I arrived, my day had gone for 12 hours. Today it was even longer. An unfortunate accident on the line that passes through my suburb meant large delays and multiple vehicle changes. From train to bus to train. Amidst the stopovers was the achingly slow wait while it poured rain and my fingers went numb from cold.

You can forgive me for thinking driving to work is the better option. There’s only me in the car, I can listen to music as loudly as I want, I know how long the drive will take and I don’t need to wait in the rain. In fact, the only downside is the money factor. When you have to pay $19 a day for parking, it’s really not that conducive to a decent savings account. 

Unfortunately when one lives half an hour away from where one works, there is no way to avoid the necessary evil that is public transport. I have to hope that it either becomes more tolerable as time goes on, or I somehow manage to invent a flying carpet. In the meantime, I guess I have to make a conscious effort to keep my misanthropy in check. Wish me luck, y’all. 

Big City Living

So, I’ve been living in the city for a week. Ok, it’s been five days, but close enough. Things are a lot different here. There are so many people, and so much traffic and so much noise. I think this city living thing is going to take a bit of getting used to.

When I lived in my home town, I was living in a house two streets over from the shopping plaza that I worked at. It was a fifteen minute walk, or a five minute drive and that was it. I was able to leisurely meander through my morning and leave for work shortly before I was due to start. In the city, things are different. I started back at work again on Thursday, after a week long transitional period. I am set to be running my own shop in a week or so, but in the meantime they have me working in another shop temporarily.

I haven’t managed to work out the train system yet, so for the last two days, I have driven to work. In peak hour traffic, along a freeway and then through the city, the drive takes me anywhere between 40-50 minutes. I’m surprisingly pretty calm about the whole thing. As someone who has a tendency to feel anxious in unfamiliar situations, I’ve handled the multiple lanes and congestion rather well. And aside from one small navigational mishap on the first day – courtesy of my stupid phone –  I’ve managed to get at least a little familiar with the route over the last couple of days. Though I’m hoping that yesterday will be the last time I have to drive.

With my old boss, pay day was Monday. I’m hoping desperately that this week I will get my annual leave paid out, because after paying $19 for parking for the last two days, I officially have no money left. Wait, that’s a lie. I have a grand total of 37 cents in my saving account, but other than that, I am flat broke. This in itself is the most stressful thing about moving to the city. The people and the noise and the dingy little shop I’m temporarily working in are all things I can deal with. The money thing though, that’s a different story. You never really tend to pay attention to the money you spend until your funds are tight and you’re not sure when your next pay will be. I’ve been stretching the remaining funds on my ‘for emergencies’ credit card to the absolute limit this week to try and make it last long enough, but now that it’s maxed out, the little seed of anxiety in my brain has grown into a full blown tree, soon to become a forest of nerves and stress.

As for the actual move, well that went smoothly enough. It was the organising and tidying and setting up that took me nearly three days. I originally just threw everything into the bedroom that I have been given, so when I arrived on Monday, I began the long and tedious process of arranging everything into something liveable. I moved things and shuffled items around, unpacked, put away, dropped a side table on my foot (curse words ensued) and slowly but surely made my way through the haphazard mess. The books and dvds were arranged, the bedroom set up, clothes washed. I finally began to feel like the unit that my friend and I are renting was actually my home. As much as an unfamiliar place in a new city can feel like home after just a couple of days, anyway.

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The final thing now, is finding somewhere I can create. With no sewing room in the unit, I had to compromise, and set the table up in the kitchen. Unfortunately, due to an apparent lack of power points in the house, the only way I can do any sewing at the table is to run a power board through an extension lead from the power point in the laundry…and hope than neither my housemate or myself will trip over and get ourselves killed. It’s not ideal. But as I’ve said before, if I don’t create, I get a little antsy. It’s better for everyone involved if I am able to spend some time lost in my own crafty little world. Though given the fact that I will apparently be working six days a week, every week, until the end of time, I don’t know that I will have even a spare second. Time will tell. Regardless, I am here, and I am reasonably settled, and I am committed. So, Big City, let’s see what you’ve got.