Melbourne’s been hotting up these past few days (barring today’s return to Antarctic weather), and we’ve already had our first few BBQs of the season within our clan mini-compound. It has been an absolute delight. Not only is my s-i-l’s homemade coleslaw a perfectly piquant crunch, but the easy meandering between our backyards means the kids get to see their uncle/aunt constantly (but, one hopes, not intrusively). The incidental meetings and conversations to be had over time are the stuff of a deeper, contented lifestyle that I never knew I could have, let alone hanker for. Now, if I had to NOT have it, I would feel bereft. That ‘not missing what you never had’ can sometimes be too true.

Some short comments about random recent coolness:

  • I had a very good Brisbane friend come and stay for a (too) short time. Being a 9-5’er has its distinct advantages, but the downside is being limited in leave flexibility. Coming from a research fellowship where I was competely autonomous, having to ask for permission to take time off is both a novelty and intrusion (how’s that for privileged whining?). After a day on the weekend playing at the zoo, I took one day off to romp around the city. We ended up having lunch at Shanghai Dynasty in Bourke Street (I am totally in love with their crispy cucumber with chili oil appetiser), and sampling the so-5-minutes-ago macarons + mini-cupcakes of Melbourne.
  • The “shutupandwrite” sessions at RMIT on Friday mornings (at Pearson & Murphy’s cafe) are still going strong. They’ve been established now for about four months (happy to be corrected on this), and the number of core folk who turn up every week is fantastic. I get a real buzz from connecting to different people from around the university, and also those who are from without. There are postgrads, academics, artists, and professional staff (none of those categories are exclusive). The coffee’s good, the chat always interesting, and I keep thinking the novelty will pall some time. That time has yet to arrive.
  • I re-connected with an old colleague the other day, and it was absolutely delightful. You know that moment when someone gets in touch and you’re thrilled they thought to do so, then you have a bit of angst about whether you’ll have enough to talk about…? It was all good – and a timely reminder that I don’t do nearly enough initiation of social engagements these days. It becomes too easy to not make the effort and wander home to cosy domesticity.
  • There have been some major changes flagged at our institution, and it has resulted in a fair amount of angst and anger. I’m feeling comfortably disengaged from the process, probably for not very good reasons. I have been extremely privileged, however, to see the way some of my colleagues have acted for the good of their peers and teams: conveying information with integrity and reassurance, engaging with the process but not allowing it to overwhelm or bypass their concerns, and generally being excellent advocates for staff. One person in particular, who is my counterpart in another section of the university, has been amazing. I’m in awe of his level of institutional knowledge and gamesmanship (in fact, have always been); recent events have managed to ratchet up my opinion of him even more.

Next week?

Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday, and it’s the first time I’ll have it off as a public holiday proper since I’ve moved to Melbourne! My previous university did not allow its staff to take the day as a public holiday. I think we may indulge in cliched + delicious chicken sandwiches.