How I Learned to Love Wallpaper

I’m pretty sure that when you think about graphic design, you have this image in your head of someone sitting in a luxuriously spacious studio apartment, with some gigantic easel and probably a large compass. That is a common misconception and also 99% wrong.

Then there’s the relaxed student sitting in a cafe with their laptop, drinking coffee and occasionally tapping away at their keypad, making computer magic. That’s pretty wrong too. My first few years as a graphic designer were spent hunched over a desk in a dimly lit office, making sure the website colours matched up and looked pretty. I was barely allowed near the nice software. It was slightly soul-crushing, but it was a start. Then I went freelance, and found my true calling.

That calling was custom designer wallpaper. This wasn’t a result of a deep desire from my childhood, or anything. I didn’t visit historical buildings in my youth, tracing a finger along the elaborate designs and hoping, praying, that I would someday render such designs with thine own hands.

Uh, no. I actually did a fairly boring job for a graphic design company, and while I was there they had some really nice wallpaper. Like…REALLY nice. It was custom printed brick wallpaper, with quotes from famous artists framed and scattered around. It didn’t blow me off my feet, but it was pretty eye-catching. I asked how they did it, and they told me about the process. I became interested, and things kind of took off from there.

After I’d done a few jobs for the company, I heard about an opening in the design department, and I jumped on it. Over the last few years I’ve done all kinds of wallpaper for people, from animals prints to movie posters. A large part of my job actually involves walking round houses, recommending shades and designs and generally making walls more interesting.

And yeah, I have become a bit of a wall snob, but I really enjoy what I do and as graphic designing goes, I think I might have found my calling. Custom designer wallpaper. I suppose that’s how wallpaper can change your life. Graphic design goes so deep, you’re bound to find something that suits you.

Hair Wizard Wanted

How do you choose a hairdresser? I’m asking because, being new in town, I find myself faced with task of doing just that. Back in London, I routinely went to a guy who was a life consultant, gossip provider and sommelier all rolled into one. I’ve had him on speed dial for the past five years, so I haven’t had to consider any other options.

So, I ask you: what’s your go-to luxury hair salon in the Melbourne CBD, and why? I need to find my new stylist slash confidante on the double. By now, you might have begun to gather what I tend to gravitate towards in a hairdresser. In essence, it’s someone with a strong ability to sense what I need before I know that I need it. My hairdresser is not someone who simply cuts my hair the way I tell them to; it’s someone who steps in and tactfully saves me from my own poor judgement, in hair and in life.

I know, I know. That seems like a lot to ask. But it’s really just about two people getting along. I want to have a rapport with my stylist – I mean, if that’s not there, how are they going to be able to assist me in making my desired impression in the world? That’s really what I’m paying them to do. If the job was just to make my hair shorter, I could do that myself with a pair of kitchen scissors, couldn’t I?

I suppose the reason I’m asking how you go about choosing a hairdresser is this: knowing what qualities you look for will help me understand if I’m likely to have an affinity with the same person as you. Melbourne hairdressers, like those in other parts of the world, no doubt come in a wide variety of characters.

Yes, I have high ideals when it comes to finding my hair guru… and that’s why I always have the best hair in town!

I Just Love Using Electricity 24/7

It’s now time for the Festival of Pikachey, probably my least favourite time of the year. I don’t mean to disrespect my family heritage- as I’ve been told many times, this is a big deal in Albajeria- but it’s way too close to Christmas. My family just needs to choose one huge, financially-draining, exhausting event to celebrate per year, instead of trying to squeeze both into the space of a month.

But here we are, the family all together (again), eating loads of food (again), washing loads of dishes (AGAIN) and celebrating the creation of light. I’m pretty sure our ancestors didn’t celebrate this holiday by setting up sets of commercial LED lighting. Melbourne is pretty up and coming in the tech department, which I guess makes it okay.

I mean it when I say it’s commercial lighting, because it’s all industrial grade, although supposedly very energy-efficient. So I guess our power bills won’t be totally through the roof. The original way of celebrating Pikachey was to light torches all through a village, along with one gigantic bonfire in the center, and keep them burning for seven days. Now we just turn on some specially-purchased lights. I guess there’s less chance of them going out, which would anger Pikachey and might make him curse our family for a thousand and ten years. So…that’s really good. I do appreciate the efficiency of LED lighting nowadays that wards of deadly curses. But still, with all the family here, it gets really wearing. So much food, so many dishes to wash, and in the time of year when everyone is trying to get into good habits. Nope…we’ve just got Melbourne’s most energy-efficient industrial LED lighting making it really hard to sleep. Great, fun times with ancient traditions.


Glazing It Up

The order of the day is deciding whether to have a skylight installed. Now that the excitement of buying a house has died down, we’re starting think about what we can do to make it, like… nice. More natural light in the kitchen is one improvement that’s crying out to be made, and a double glazed skylight unit seems like the best way to do this.

Next in line after that is replacing the coloured glass splashback in the kitchen. It’s got a big old crack in it, but in all honesty, our main issue with it is the colour Really, who thought that was a good idea? Last on the trifecta of reno jobs on our list is swapping out the heavy wooden posts supporting the handrail on the staircase for something visually lighter. Glass balustrade installers in Melbourne, you’re on my radar.

I just realised that all three of these updates involve glass. That’s kind of convenient, actually. I’d had it in my mind that we’d have to recruit a bunch of different service providers, but a good glazier should be able to sort us out. Who’s good for residential glazing and glass replacement, Melbourne? Help a renovation noob out.

Actually, this is making me think of even more things to be done. The shower screen in the guest bathroom looks, frankly, kind of dangerous. My sister will hate that. I’m assuming it’s possible to switch out a semi-frameless shower screen for a custom replacement – A-class 10mm toughened safety glass, of course, for the benefit of sis’s peace of mind. While I’m on the subject, it occurs to me that I could swap the chrome hinges for gold ones. I know that sis will hate them, but if I’m making a concession for her, I get to have some fun at her expense as well (that’s just the way it works).

Ah, the joys of owning a house. I’m not sure what my bank balance will have to say about all this, but I can compile a wish list all the same.  

The Ocean Master’s Quest


So strange how Week of Our Lives is having so many episodes set at sea recently. With that recent dramatic return of the fellow lost at sea, you’d think they’d continue that plot-line, but they actually solved it in one episode (it was his twin brother trying to extort everyone and find the key to their grandfather’s safe, where he kept the deed to an ancient jade mine in the heart of China. Quelle intrigue!)

But for now, they’ve returned to the sea for a set of episodes based around Marlucia and her efforts to gain her Ocean Master qualification, impressing the ghost of her dead sea captain father who may or may not be actually haunting her. Half the forums think it’s in her head, and I’m not sure myself.

Anyway, she’s stuck on the outboard motor. Services in Melbourne have to be, like, UP there. Top-notch. Ahead of the game, and all that. Marlucia is a smart girl, especially since she escaped her orphanage aged only two years old using an elaborate duplicate of herself made from paper cups and string, and also a stray pigeon that she was able to feed laxatives. But in terms of motors, I think Marlucia has always struggled with technology because of that flashback we saw of her growing up in the Tibetan monastery, where they beat her whenever she made an internet reference. She escaped to an Albajerian monastery by climbing over the mountains, but in the here and now, outboard motors are her greatest downfall. But they’re the last step in earning her Ocean Master badge at the behest of her maybe-dead maybe-a-hallucination sea captain father! And if she doesn’t have the badge, how can she enter the secret society and join the hunt for the lost treasure of Emmeline Pankhurst, hidden in a salt tomb underneath the Dead Sea??

She’d better get onto the case of places that do outboard motor repairs and servicing in Melbourne, and hopefully find a wise sensei who’ll help with all her problems. It usually works like that, anyway.


Precautionary vet medicine

You know, with all this talk of a live-in doctor, I can’t quite believe that we don’t yet have a live-in vet. I like the fact that there are excellent animal hospitals open in Bayside, and that’s really just around the corner. Ever since this place opened they’ve probably been swamped with customers, even though we make a point of treating our cats very well here.

So it’s not an essential, but I do wonder if we can entice someone to come and live here to be our emergency vet, for when things happen in the middle of the night, or a cat sprains its paw and shouldn’t be moved. Perhaps that’s something to bring up at the next budget meeting.

I mean, if you ask me, everyone here should have some sort of animal training. Everyone should have learned human first aid in general, but to live here, you should need a basic primer on how to treat a sick cat. We can’t build our excellent reputation as a wonderful place of cat-lovers if half the people on the building wouldn’t have a clue on how to treat a sick kitty. I’ve even seen a few residents panicking as their cat starts throwing up hairballs, and having to be intercepted on their way to the pet surgery by more sensible folk. Why on earth do we have to sit down with you, a person who applied and was accepted into a home for people and cats, and explain to you the concept of a hairball? Even people who’ve nothing to do with cats understand that much.

Perhaps we can contract a vet to come in and give a seminar. A mandatory seminar. Everyone must attend, even the experts among us, so as to give a good example to the uninitiated. We’ll make it unmissable, on account of it being from a person working in a local Bayside pet surgery who knows their stuff and has a genuine interest in keeping our cats healthy.

As everyone should…and they try, bless them. But when you get stressed over how your cat is shedding fur, I do worry.


What could go wrong? (a lot)

Okay. This is bad. I may have really screwed this up. I know they say that, the week before your wedding, you really need to wrap yourself in cotton wool. You’re not supposed to do anything out of the ordinary, don’t take any chances that could potentially enhance your stress level. Believe me, nobody likes a bride-zilla. Especially me. Which is why I never thought I was at risk of becoming one, but oh boy, I did not account for this.

One of my cousins, who I guess is really not the sharpest tool in the shed, is taking this amazing dry needling course in Melbourne. She has been a physiotherapist for many years and only now is starting to branch out into new territory for treating patients.

In fact, I was the person who recommended the course to her, since one of my closest doctor friends did it. Anyway, when I complained to Suzie (my cousin) that I was feeling a little tense in the lead up to the wedding, she asked if she could practice her dry needling on me. Why not? I thought. What could go wrong?

I guess I probably jinxed myself a little bit there, since everyone knows the moment you even think the sentence ‘what could go wrong?’ something always does. The session started off alright, but about half way through, I felt a bit of a pinch in my lower back. I thought nothing of it until she explained that the dry needling courses only start in September. She had actually only received one lesson of practice.

When I woke up the next morning, my lower back was throbbing with a dull ache. I figured it was minor and would pass with time. A few days later and it still tender.

How am I supposed to marry Andrew in three days if I can’t lift my arm to accept his ring? This is a disaster! How on earth did I convince myself that this was a good idea? I’ve called my friend, Cathy, one of the best dry needling experts in the country, but she isn’t due to fly in until the day before the wedding. Fingers crossed that she can work her magic on my back and have me ready for the big day.


Help for All Kinds of Addiction

And there you have it: video game addiction has now been officially classified as a disorder by the World Health Organisation. As head of Lawrence Corp’s gaming division, you’d think this would come as a blow. Not at all, in fact; I’m glad people will be getting the treatment they deserve, and in a strange way, it also legitimizes the place of video games in ordinary life.

No one should have to suffer through an addiction, but now the downsides are now officially recognised and given the attention they deserve.

I should know; I’ve suffered from it myself. Quite recently, in fact. I suppose it still has some way to go before people treat it differently to just playing too much, but I was slightly embarrassed. Fortunately there was the online community. One such friend went to see a psychiatrist in the local Mornington Peninsula; said it helped him immensely. In retrospect, that seems like what I should’ve done. That is, both go to see a psychiatrist AND shipped myself off to the Mornington Peninsula for a bit of rest of relaxation. It certainly would’ve beaten trying to get to a stressful office job every day and thinking about nothing but the game.

I know, there are people with worse addictions and mental problems out there. But that’s not a healthy way to think. And now that I work at Lawrence Corp, things are just better. This company *cares* about the mental states of its employees, even as they have us developing and testing games and consoles every day. The upper management knows the dangers of addiction. No doubt if anyone under their management needed a bit of counselling, they’d be allowed a trip to a psychiatry clinic in Mornington, and dare I say a bit of time to gather their thoughts on the beach. It’s truly a great company.

A wonderful company indeed.


Driving on Crushed Rock

Everyone has sounds they like, which don’t seem to do anything for other people. It’s not weird. YOU are the weird one. Remember that old musical movie, The Taste of Tunes? The one about the strict military mother who hires a free-spirited child-minder who uses his free-spirited nature to bring life back into their German mansion via music. Heart-warming to a degree, but I really didn’t like the part at the end where the entire family became Nazis.

Yeah, so, anyway…there’s that song the guy sings about his favourite stuff. Doorbells and sleigh-bells and sauerkraut with fried rice. Pretty sure that’s how it goes. Sounds can be ultra-satisfying, and one of mine is the sound of a car driving on a crushed rock driveway. Mm, yeah. It’s like listening to a symphony, except better. It’s not the cheapest of home alterations, but I just had to get it for our driveway when we moved in. And I didn’t tell anyone, but that was part of what swayed me towards this place from the beginning: the driveway is unusually-long, so that’s several seconds of uninterrupted crunchy goodness.

It’s also pretty good as a soft alarm system. With straight concrete driveways, you can never really tell if there’s someone there, you know? Unless they have a really loud engine, that is. But with a crushed rock driveway, you can tell instantly. You get that lovely, crunchy, wheels-on-pebbles noise that tells you that the in-laws have arrived, they’ve brought their sixty-year-old game of Boggle with half the letters missing, and it’s time to make oneself very busy.

The only real drawback of a crushed rock driveway is that it’s a pain to walk on without shoes. As in a genuine pain. There, I will abide a small pathway of solid concrete or slabs, so that you may traverse your driveway, pick up the post from the post-box and get back without developing some kind of foot condition.

But really, even the sound of shoes on a gravel driveway…definitely ‘some of my favourite stuff.’ If you need recommendations for driveway toppings around Cranbourne, you can trust me. I’ve listened to them all.


Discovering and embracing anti wrinkle injections

As part of my weekend ritual, I love going to the cafe down the street for a late morning coffee. I usually see the same old faces there. There’s the surly young barista, looking a bit seedy after what has obviously been a late night (he should probably get a non-morning job), and the middle aged couple who eat their identical breakfasts in silence. But last weekend, there was a new addition to this sober yet adorable crew: a very attractive older woman.

She was probably entering her late fifties. The only reason I could tell was because of her naturally lightened hair that didn’t have a streak of grey in it and her elegant gold-rimmed specs, which she peered over while reading a tome of a book. I began thinking about how well she’s aged, and how I’d love to look as good as her when I reached her age. I also realised that she couldn’t possibly look that good naturally. Surely she’d had some work done, like anti wrinkle injections. Melbourne clinicians probably do a much better job than the ghastly cliche of cosmetic treatments – women who look like they’ve had their skin stretched too tight over their eyes, over-bloated bulging lips. This woman in the cafe didn’t look like that at all – she had a gracefully aged appearance, with subtle lines of distinction, and minus the sagging jowls and eyelids.

I’m still only in my thirties but it’s probably time to start looking into these options, like dermal fillers and anti wrinkle treatments that can enhance your appearance. I’m going to ask about the treatments at the local place that does laser hair removal. Melbourne doctors actually recommend getting such treatments before it’s too late, that way they prevent the signs of aging rather than trying to fix the damage. If I can look as good as the woman in the cafe did, then I’ll be happy in my old age.