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Finding my calling

signage MelbourneI really don’t like my job. And it’s not that I don’t like where I work, or the repetitiveness of it all, or I hate my boss or anything like that. It’s that I genuinely, truly, deep down in my soul, hate my chosen career. I messed up, okay? I was a kid, they said pick, and I picked blindly, just as I blindly followed my path all the way here. And now I’m just sick of it. I can’t do it any more, I’m literally dying of boredom here.

In all the time I’ve spent procrastinating at work, I’ve been trying to think of what exactly I should do, if I’m not going to do this. For a while I was stuck, with no idea of what I was going to do, and then a saw a sign.

I have to be honest, I’ve never noticed the signage in Melbourne particularly. Not because it’s not good, or anything, but signage is usually something that you just skate over quickly, that you don’t pay much attention to. But on the way home about a week ago, it was almost like the heavens parted and my path became clear to me. It was a sign – in every sense of the phrase.

So that’s what I think I’m going to do. Of course, I want to try and find a niche, if possible. I’ve been looking through different portfolios and things like that, and by the looks of it, LED signage in Melbourne is a market that’s been largely underdeveloped. Perhaps that’s something I can go into. In any case, the first step in the exercise is just to find some kind of course, which is why I came here in the first place. Hopefully, I can find the kind of thing I’m looking for.

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A gradual leap of faith

timber window repairsI’m going to be honest here. Really honest. Probably more honest with myself than I have been in a long, long time. The truth of the matter is, I really don’t know what I’m doing. People that know me would probably laugh at that. I know I look like I’ve got it all figured out. That’s just a lie I tell to myself and those around me to keep away the scary truth. I don’t want to be lost, no one does I guess, and so it’s easier to look like and act like I know what I want. But I don’t.

Over the last few months I’ve been looking more and more at doing some kind of online course or something. I guess that’s what has lead me to come on this website in the first place. In the spirit of not giving too much about myself away (although I did just share one of my deepest secrets out here on the internet) I’m not going to mention what industry I’m currently in, but I will say that I think it’s time for a change. So I’ve been looking at maybe doing some kind of online qualification in window replacements. Melbourne has a bit of a need for more hands-on types labourers, I know that much, and I’m so sick of sitting behind a computer all day everyday that I think I’d like to do something tangible. Something real. So going into a trade has been something I’ve been looking at pretty seriously.

The thing is, though, I’m not really sure whether I could pick up a job like that on-line. I mean, it’s pretty on-the-job type of stuff. But unless I quit my job, I just don’t really have the time to do an apprenticeship or anything like that. But if I want to become a timber window repair specialist in Melbourne, I know that is probably what it takes. I’m just not sure I’m ready to take that big of a leap of fate quite yet.

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Ballarat’s Laser Hair Removal, Now Available!

laser hair removal BallaratSo I just got back from a trip to the USA, and you know what? You know what?? None of them knew where Ballarat was. They all had a good giggle at our Australian names- I had to point out several times that ‘Ballarat’ is extremely tame compared to some place names we have around here- but all just shrugged when I said that’s where I was from. You know, Ballarat! The place where the gold rush happened!

No one even knows the gold rush. Maybe it’s because they only learn American history, but I also stopped off in London for a few days and most people had at least heard of Ballarat. The very first person I talked to- the lady at the desk in the hostel- said “ah yeah, right love, the place with all the gold, innit?” or something. So that’s nice, but what does Ballarat have to do to put itself on the map for Americans? Start an award-winning cheeseburger industry?

The only industry thriving apart from Sovereign Hill in Ballarat is cosmetic tattooing. I’m serious, people absolutely love them. I think maybe because it’s been such a country town for a while even though it’s a bit touristy. The ruling people don’t want anything that can be considered too new in the town centre, so we’ve pretty much watched a lot of interesting niche shops come, stay for a week and then get nudged out. Now the beauty industry has finally found its feet and you can go and get your nails done by a specialist, or get your eyebrows tattooed, or anti-wrinkle treatments if that’s really your thing. It’s not mine…yet. Got a few decades to go!

It fits me pretty well, this whole beauty thing. Ugh, Ballarat used to be SO boring if you lived there and weren’t just visiting, but now it’s bustling with townsfolk and a few more shops that sell things other than souvenirs and small gold fragments. Ballarat has laser hair removal now. Didn’t think we’d ever see that!

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A study voucher

dry needling courses SydneyIt’s been ten years since I graduated high school. I had a massive party for my twenty-eighth and ended up passed out naked at the front door two days later. Dad stepped out at eight am to go to work in the Tuesday morning and found me there. He said, ‘Bobby, you’ve spent the last ten years doing absolutely nothing — it’s time you got a job.’ He then told me that he was going to pay for my course, and to consider it a gift voucher for my twenty eighth birthday. So that’s how I ended up looking at dry needling courses in Sydney.

Don’t ask me how I decided on dry needlings, I really don’t know. It’s like, when I was forced to make a decision then I managed to make up my mind. I guess the reason I never went to uni or tafe for so long is because I had no idea what i wanted to do. After Dad gave me that final push — and the funding didn’t hurt either — then it was easy. I’d had trigger point dry needling before for some muscular pain and I found it really effective. So then my girlfriend started getting pains too and I told her I’d learn how to do it and treat her at home.

Even though I haven’t started studying yet I already feel more focused. I actually had a shower this morning. Who’d have thought that I could get myself composed in time for dry needling courses. Near NZ and Australia, we have a lot of Eastern methods influencing our medical practices here. What used to be considered “alternative medicine” changed to “complementary medicine” and is slowly getting more and more accepted as legitimate. Trigger point dry needling for instance has been shown to successfully treat certain conditions in clinical studies.

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The party planner

kids party planningYou learn a lot of strange things about parents when you plan birthday parties for a living. Of course, mine are a lot more elaborate than ‘cake and party bags’. Parents hire me because I can give their kids a real experience, like ropes courses and extreme dodgeball. But then you get the weird requests, have to deal with 400 types of allergies and then sometimes the parents who ask you to do something fun and then freak out when you do something fun.

Like…okay, example: I know all of the birthday party venue hire places in Melbourne like the back of my hand. It’s my business, so you’d hope I’d know them pretty well, what each of them are for, how they’d suit clients, all of that. But then I get the set of parents that are absolutely adamant that the party take place in this one specific place. Okay, fine, I guess it’s owned by a relative or something so they get a good deal. But it’s a room. Like, the size of an average living room. They want 40 kids at this party, and a bouncy castle. Just put the bouncy castle up outside somewhere! Uh, you haven’t hired that space. You can’t just go putting up massive inflatable castles anywhere you like. And besides, I’m stuck trying to make this event fun for forty kids in a shoebox. Sleeping lions, anyone?

Somehow, it gets worse, like when a Dad really wanted their party to include and egg and spoon race. Bit old-fashioned, but okay. Then we get to the place, it’s been raining and bogged down like nothing else. The Dad wants it to go forward, so passionately you’d think seeing his daughter in an egg and spoon race was his life’s ambition. Half the kids are refusing to race, the Mum and Dad are in a screeching row and I’m left to make that fun. Yippee.

It’s not all bad, though. At least when I have kids, I know all the best function rooms. Around Melbourne, there are a few that keep themselves hidden…but in my business, I know all the best ones. Comes in handy for family gatherings.


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Learning to be an arborist

tree removal

A famous musician once sang, ‘Take a walk on the wild side’. I’ve taken this message to heart and integrated it into my life’s ethos. Everything from daily living to my career is imbued with this notion. That’s why I’ve chosen a career in arboriculture. Something about danger is very appealing. What is life without a thrill?

They say that being a trawlerman is the most dangerous job on earth. Maybe they’re right. I’m building up to it. For now arboriculture will suffice as adequately thrilling. If you want to be an arborist in Melbourne you’ve gotta have guts. You’ll be suspended ten, fifteen, sometimes twenty meters above the ground, dissecting a tree, with only a flimsy strap and a your wits to keep yourself from crashing to the ground. It’s gotta be one of the top ten most dangerous aussie jobs for sure. Being a tree surgeon is no walk in the park. You’ve gotta be trained and you’ve got to have your wits about you. You’ve basically got to be really responsible and mature as well.

Removing branches from the tree is the hardest part. Tree pruning and and hedge trimming may seem like amateur gigs but they too have their hazards. You’ve gotta be well trained and experiences with using the clippers or else you could easily nip your fingers off.

Tree removal around Melbourne is a good trade that Id’ recommend to anyone who loves adrenaline. It beats sitting in an office chair all day. I’d rather be building muscle and breaking a sweat than getting cramps from sitting on my arse all day and repetitive strain injury from clicking on a computer mouse. Plus, as an arborist, the chicks think you’re a legend. Chicks dig danger too, and they love hunky men with big muscles. Any young men out there who want to take a walk on the wild side, get into arboriculture.

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Help Out the Party Help

corporate function roomI really need to drink some more water. After all, my job gets pretty stressful around the peak times, and we’re coming into winter. Oh, you think cleaning up after parties is more of a summer thing? Nope, winter just means they all stay inside and make all their mess there. Which makes it easier to clean up in some respects, but nothing is carried away by the wind so it actually ends up being more work.

So anyway, that’s why I think there needs to be more public admiration of our sacred profession. At peak times, sometimes I don’t get to bed until mid-morning. Have you seen some of the best corporate function rooms around? Melbourne isn’t even the party capital, and sometimes the corporate folks get up to such hijinks. Sometimes I come in and find that they’ve been having cup stacking competitions, and that’s just an unnecessary waste of cups. I suppose all waste is that by definition, but that is definitely not the point. The point is that I’m tired of standing on top of a dumpster at 3am and trying to squash down a mass of plastic. It’s not good for the hips, and just getting up there has ruined a few good pairs of shoes.

No, we need to set some rules. Maybe get in cahoots with some of these places before it really gets out of hand, like it has, so now we’re getting in cahoots with them AFTER it’s got out of hand. Oh, I know what’ll put some responsibility into them! A leaflet campaign, perhaps even the leaflet campaign to end all leaflet campaigns. We can send them out to every function room in the city, every ice skating rink covered in sticky drinks, every birthday party venue that people leave stacked to the ceiling with cups and bottles. People actually have to clean that stuff up! I am one of those people. And I will get the message out to Melbourne, party venues will become a 24/7 affair.


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Learning That Green Thumb

hyacinth flowers

I wonder, can a person learn to grow flowers? I suppose that’s a silly question, because otherwise the profession of gardening would be a total ‘you got it or you don’t!’ type thing, and therefore just a little bit elitist. They probably let people do gardening who might not be totally up with the right way to plant hyacinth flower bulbs, or they sometimes trim a little bit too close to the bud. Everyone goes through on-the-job training!

So yeah, I could learn flowers, and their many ways. Shouldn’t even be that hard, because I managed to take care of my last cactus for, like, a week. So many of my friends are learning to be computer programmers, IT specialists, app designers…all jobs invented in the last few years and so dependent on technology. Whereas when there’s a big technology crash and everyone needs to learn to grow things, I’ll be all like “Oh, what’s up fellows? Growing carrots, and maybe some beautiful roses to take your mind off the fact that there’s no more technology? Sure, I can help you out with that. Because it’s my job.’

Yeah, I guess I just really want to be useful. People are always going to need gardeners, because in all the many years humans have been around, flowers have never gone out of fashion. And neither have vegetables! Isn’t that weird? I mean, it’s not like we don’t have science right now and stuff, so we can just grow carrots in a lab. Nope, all the best stuff still comes from the ground, which is why I’m looking for a decent course that’ll teach me to do that kind of thing. I mean, I might be competing against a whole lot of people who grew up on farms or whatever, but I’m willing to put in the work. I even looked up a few places to get brindabella roses online. So if class needs us to bring our own flowers…I can get my own, is what I’m saying. I like to be prepared.


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My new flower friend

flowers onlineI made an unlikely friend this week. His name is Donald, he is 75 and widowed. We met on a flower course. As a wedding planner dealing with flowers is kind of an occupational hazard for me and my clients always assume I have a strong knowledge of flowers. Well I do know! The course covered everything from the best time to plant Brindabella roses to the best types of soil enhancer. It was actually pretty great, I learnt about seasonality in flowers, when is best to plant what and even how to pair things together. I also made some great florist links that I can partner with when providing floral services to my clients. Donald is an extremely lovely guy, his wife sadly passed away 2 years ago and he said he’s been pretty lonely ever since. Hence his desire to take the course. His wife loved flowers and was always pottering around in the garden so he thought if he learnt a bit about it he could connect to what she loved and feel closer to her. When I told him I was a wedding planner he said he probably wouldn’t need my services professionally but he would love to be my friend. The course was great not only for the roses knowledge and training it provided but also as a meeting point for people that would otherwise rarely cross paths. Donald now comes round to my house every two weeks for a cup of tea, a game of scrabble and some flower chat. We compare bulbs and soil mixtures for hours! Last week he bought me the most sensational bunch of Iceberg roses that now sit proudly on my mantel. My kids adore him and have even started calling him Grandpa. It is in the most unlikely places that we find true friendships.

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Learning to Help in the Home

b6295434I’m not saying I’m feminist, or men-ist, or anything-ist, but…I don’t like it when my wife does all the DIY around the house. Not that I’m scared for her safety, because she grew up with a father who was an aircraft pilot and a mother who still works on a farm, so she knows how to do pretty much everything by herself. It’s just that…well, my parents were acrobats. If it’s not mending a trapeze, there’s not much I can do around the place.

That’s why I’m interested in a DIY course. There’s a nice place just around the corner that teaches you how to do real tradie stuff, like how to fit roof racks and bars, change a tire, stock a toolbox, choose a toolbox…and then there are a few weeks on all that stuff you do around the house. I should ace the class on changing a bulb, because I just taught myself how to do that tonight. And not one of the little screw ones either. No…this was a real snap-in deal. Or at least, I think it was. I really hope that’s how it’s supposed to go in…I should ask Casey.

She’s really great about it. Never brags about how I can’t change a plug, never goes off and tells all her girlfriends how her husband is completely incompetent. I like to imagine that she also goes tool shopping in the down times so not many people see her and get the wrong impression. Casey has never complained about having to do everything herself, but it’s just that I’d love to be able to help. We’re setting a bad precedent for our one-year-old son, and at this rate he’s going to grow up watching his parents in a completely unbalanced household. Except that I do most of the cooking, because Casey never really learned with her parents’ jobs being so busy. And then there’s the cleaning, which…again, I do. I just have Fridays off, so it makes sense.

Are we a backwards household?? Or maybe forwards? Time will tell, after I get my own aluminium toolbox and fill it with whatever they tell me in the course. I really have no idea what’s supposed to go in there.


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