Moving to Melbourne: Beauty school queen

Last week we had one of our big family meals. My parents try to arrange one every month or so just so we all stay in the loop with each others lives and don’t end up as strangers. Normally they follow a very mundane routine; chit chat, my dad and brother argue, my mum has one too many and then I sneak out right after the main course. However at this most recent one my sister made a shock announcement. She has been looking at beauty courses in Melbourne and plans to move within the year to start pursuing her dream of owning her own beauty salon. To most families this probably wouldn’t be a massive announcement but no one from our family has moved away, ever. She wants to get her diploma of beauty therapy qualification and then specialise in laser hair removal and open a cutting edge salon. From as long as I can remember she has been obsessed with all things beauty. From doing everyone’s nails, to pretending to be a beauty therapist when her friends came over, she was obsessed. Studying towards a beauty qualification will probably be really good for her, she needs to get some independence and find her own path but my parents don’t want her to leave. They said there were plenty of beauty courses close by but sadly they just don’t compare to the level of education the beauty courses in Melbourne offer. After a lot of screaming I finally decided to stand up for her and defend her against my parents. I told them she needs to move out and find her own life and Melbourne is a great place to do that. There are lots of beauty courses available there and I even offered to pay her rent for the first few months until she gets settled.

An eye for summer bulbs

double hippeastrumsOne of the things I hate the most about being a mum is the hyper competitiveness. Every other mum and dad on the block is always looking at your parenting with a critical eye. Whatever you do, they want to do better. Everyone always wants their kid to be smarter, or more athletic, or more popular. But it’s more than just pushing the kids to do their best, sometimes the proxy competitions through the kids turn into all out wars between parents. One of the best examples of this is whenever you need to bake something. As a classic hot-mess mum myself, I have no shame in just picking up some cupcakes from a shop, but oh my goodness some of these mums spend hours slaving away to make ridiculously gourmet treats that are there to impress the parents rather than for the kids to eat. It’s insanity, but there’s such a huge pressure to conform that sometimes it just gets to me.

Like right now, for instance. Jamie is going to a ‘garden themed party’ (seriously, who ever heard of something so ridiculous) where all the little girls are going to dress up as flowers. Naturally, the competition over who’s kid will have the best costume is intense, and I’ve got to say, the pressure is really getting to me. At first I thought I’d just get her calla lillies and call it quits at that, but talking to one of the other mums I realised I had seriously underestimated the amount of effort required. People have just gone all out. It’s kind of scary. The mum I was talking to was debating whether to dress her daughter up as a brindabella or double hippeastrums. That level of detail is just crazy. I mean, they’re kids for crying out loud, they’re not going to know the difference between types of roses!

The birthday party scheme

party venues arounnd MelbourneSometimes I tell jokes, and my friends don’t laugh. Well, they try not to laugh and then they do, because it’s funny but mean. Someone will tell me that wasn’t a very nice thing to say, and I have to resist making a massively sarcastic response. Oh, not nice? Not NICE? But I’m ALWAYS nice. I’m the nicest person ever.

No, I’m not, and they know it well. I’ve built my entire career as a friend around being edgy, that friend you like to have around because they’re hilarious, but they’re always riding the edge of acceptable humour. Take my last birthday party. I never used to have them- not really into the scene- but I thought this time I’d make an exception. I booked a birthday party venue in Melbourne that would be okay with my scheme, then rigged a small catapult to chuck pies at anyone who walked in. See? Hilarious!

So many pies in so many faces, until eventually we were all equally disgusting. Then anyone who came in was able to laugh at anyone who came in after them, until it was just a laughter fest. If you were late, you paid the price by being laughed at more than people who were courteous enough to be on time. Oh, and then at the end of the night I released a massive net of water balloons that had been lingering in the ceiling, and everyone was…cleaned. Because I’m really nice like that at least sometimes.

True, that party venue banned me pretty quickly, but I had my fun and I like to think that everyone else had theirs, so in the end, it was totally fine. I just have to keep finding party venues around the Melbourne area (even though they may be far out) that will have me and my wild parties. Meanwhile, in real life, I’ll just keep being my charming self…as I always am.

A computer to call my own

IT courseI was twelve when I realised that I loved computers. And I don’t just mean I like them. There’s a real relationship here, and one day, the future society in which we live will recognise our bond.

I first knew when I went off to study computers in an ordinary IT course. I enjoyed it immensely, but I didn’t develop any sort of affection for any one computer. Maybe because I didn’t have one of my own when I went off to uni. Yeah, I know that’s odd, but our family could never afford a real laptop, and I didn’t want to drag the desktop off to university. It was tough, doing an IT course without a computer of my own, but I didn’t just want to apply and get a free one. Pride, I suppose. Also, who even does that in that type of course?

So anyway, I moved into a pretty normal position when I left, servicing broken computers for a mid-level company. All that time spent in the basement, mostly by myself in the broken computer room, no wonder things developed the way they did. One of them caught my eye, probably because I’d been told that it was a write-off. The laptop was old, outdated and the company wanted nothing more to do with it. Maybe it had been sent to me by accident…or it was providence. I fixed the laptop up anyway, learned of its past struggles. I gave it a new interior, used parts from other written-off computers to turn it into a supercomputer, sort of. I feel like it was listening to me, as well, and I poured out my heart and soul as I sat there alone, fixing hard-drives and tightening cover screws. We understand each other, me and this laptop. It’s a relationship built on loyalty and trust.

That’s how it is with all laptops, right? I’ve never had one so I wouldn’t know, but I think I’m getting it right. Trust me, I’ve seen people doing software development courses. Melbourne is starting to make a name for itself as a hub for great software developers. They’re all about protecting their laptops at all costs.

A successful trip the plant nursery

calla lilliesIt’s time for a change. I just don’t think I can look out the window of my study for one more day and see the same thing. I’m sick of it, it’s starting to drive me completely nuts. When I should be working, instead I’m mentally working out what I want to do to the garden, the changes I want to make, how I’m going to reconfigure it, what will go where … it’s endlessly distracting. I need to remove the ability to fantasise about it by enacting the changes I see in my mind’s eye. It’s the only way.

Currently, I have several, large, beautiful calla lillies outside in the garden just outside the study. Don’t get me wrong, they’re gorgeous. I had no regrets when we put them in ten years ago, and I have no regrets now – they have been fabulous – but if I have to keep looking at them day in day out for another ten years I’m going to go mad. No, it’s time to get something different put in there.

I must confess, when thinking about the change, I went to the nursery up the road. They’re always been absolutely wonderful in there, and so when I asked for their help, the young man I spoke to was more than willing to oblige. I described the area, the sunlight, etcetera, and he suggested planting a pineapple lily or two. I must say, I personally hadn’t thought of tulips as an option, I didn’t even realise you could grow them in Australia, but once he recommended them I became quite transfixed. Now it’s all I can picture out there. In fact, I almost bought the tulips I was looking at right then and there, but I figured I best speak to my wife before doing anything rash like that.

Pizza party at the function room

party venueHey folks, it’s your buddy Party Dan! Yep, we’re back for another round of ‘Dan Does Melbourne’, where I travel around to pretty much every Melbourne party venue and gives you the absolute dirt on all of them. The good the bad, the balloons, the punch, the clean-up service, the absolute dish.

Today will be a bit different, though, so hold onto your seats, party fans! I’m about to get all political, because one of my favourite party hangouts just closed down and I’m all down about it. Totally down, bro-skis. Don’t know how I’m going to recover, now that Ingrid’s Pizza Parlour and Game-Stop is gone. So many memories, all of them just down the drain so quickly. In terms of party venues, I think it used to be one of Melbourne’s absolute best, because…well, games and pizza! Ingrid was awesome, one of the coolest old people I’ve ever met. Like, she was full of wisdom and so much sass. She wanted everyone to have a super rad party time, all the time, and the pizza was like it was delivered straight from heaven, here in thirty minutes or you get into heaven free. Or whatever. SO GOOD.

I guess it’s better that Ingrid’s didn’t close down through any fault of its own. Old Ingrid has gone back to Italy to live out the rest of her old age in her mountain village, which I think is a super awesome way to be doing things. I bet she’ll still be making pizza and giving advice to all the bambinos up until she croaks. Hey, that was her language, not mine!
So, people who loved Ingrid’s, it’s a waiting game to see what it turns into! Hopefully not a soulless corporate franchise with no concern for its customers, ha ha!

Might be best to find a birthday party venue, Melbourne has a lot of great places to have a function. Stay tuned next week for my ultimate top ten list! Stay cool and party hard, bro-skis!

Fitness game app craze

software developmentThis new app…it confuses me. It’s free, and all the news places are going nuts about it so I thought I’d give it a go. Although Game-Date-Fit-Brainbust! is a bit of a mouthful, to be honest. Anyway, I downloaded it, and was about the fifty-millionth person to do so worldwide. It’s just so…busy. SO busy, and you take one look at the title screen and want to uninstall the app, but something stops you. All that colour really does have some kind of effect, because you see all these buttons and want to explore the app. Apparently it was created by a couple who were alumni from some app development course here in Melbourne, of all places.

Was there nothing in the course that taught them about the benefits of an uncluttered design? Maybe there was, and they just thought they’d strike out on their own…you know how some of these folks can be. All ‘my way is best’. I can’t see much finesse in the app so far, but the journey is fairly compelling. I made my little avatar, who happens to be a professor with a little pipe and old-timey spectacles. Anyway, I can navigate him around the gaming world, taking him to all kinds of attractions. While there, I can interact with anyone else in the same place and play games. Now, these games…they’re everything. Everything.

One of them made me do 100 push-ups to solve a wall puzzle, so me and my partner could get through. One girl I was playing with was an expert in hieroglyphs, which was helpful when we had to solve an ancient Egyptian riddle. All the while, I got to know my game partner, and the frantic structure really forced us together. It was…really quite a nice experience.

Huh. Maybe I shouldn’t doubt an app and software development course before seeing the benefits. This app is great! Still, the title screen remains ugly.