When I first moved in with Kristie in Essendon it was only with the intention of staying for a few nights, until Jamie’s house in Sunshine became available. That sorry saga is still being played out, but with Jamie being evicted from the charming Brunswick townhouse by his DINK hosts, Chris languishing in Perth, and my own fate unsecured after Kristie’s lease expires in July and she takes off to Europe, we started rent hunting.

This would have been around Easter – in fact, yes, I spun the idea to Jamie at the Cornish Arms on the long weekend. So that was, what, two months ago? And yet we only recently found a place.  It was a pain in the fucking ass, and I must say that in the age of the Internet I have no idea why any potential landlord still goes through real estate agents to find prospective tenants rather than using gumtree or craigslist. You can still get them to sign legal leases, so what is the point of a real estate agent anymore – somebody who serves as a pointless middleman? The house we eventually found was on gumtree and leased directly from the landlord, who was happy to give us a flexible lease considering that he’s bulldozing it to build a block of flats in about six months.

Chris was all set to move over, after his two week visit to Perth stretched into a three month visit, but then he was suddenly struck down with glandular fever and had to go to hospital to have a bunch of tests done. Between this and his bike being stolen (which he still hasn’t receieved an insurance payout for) I’m beginning to think he may have been a bloodthirsty dictator in a past life. (Actually, Hirohito died about nine months before he was born.) So he’s still waiting, and meanwhile it’s me and Jamie and Glenn, whom Jamie rescued from the crappy couchsurfing backpacker sharehouse he stayed in after Brunswick (where, amongst other things, he got bedbugs, had his Mac stolen, and had a knife pulled on him). Glenn’s friend Dylan is also staying with us, and Jamie’s friend Dave – who is planning to live in Sunshine with us – has a lease expiring in about a month. So I’ve gone from living in domestic bliss with my girlfriend, with a nice bedroom and warm bed and homecooked meal every night, to sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a male sharehouse. It is, as Orwell would say, like being a goldfish tossed into a tank of pike. But I need to learn to fend for myself sooner or later, and this is what I want. I have a good forty or fifty years to live with a girlfriend or wife; there’s only so many years of your life where you can live in a sharehouse with friends.

The house is in Camberwell, a very prosperous part of the city right next to Toorak, Melbourne’s traditional ivory tower suburb. The streets are lined with auburn trees and the houses are mostly large and regal. It vaguely reminds me of Hampstead in London – it’s where the old money lives. It’s a pretty decent house, quite new, palatial bathrooms and partially furnished, and about 400 bucks rent a week (for the whole house, not per person). There’s a semi-attached house out the back where an Asian girl and an Indian guy live, which has proved to be a little weird. Apparently Glenn woke up one morning and walked out into the living room, to find the Indian sitting at the coffee table doing some work.

“What are you doing in here?” he asked.

The interloper jumped at that and said “Oh… um… sorry, I didn’t think anyone was home.”

“Dude, that’s so much worse!” Glenn yelled, before kicking him out. This was not the first nor last intrusion, but he seems to have gotten the message lately. So all in all it’s a good house.

It is, however, not a good spot for my job. In Essendon I was fifteen minutes away from the airport; now I’m about 45. Every afternoon and evening I face a long, chilly commute down the Citylink tollway, watching the distant skyscrapers grow nearer, going past them on the Bolte Bridge, and then watching them grow just as distant again. I’ve started going around the boom gate in the long-term carpark to shave ten minutes off my commute, instead of parking in the staff carpark and waiting for the shuttle bus. But it still sucks. It’s also getting unbearably cold; I had a 7 am start yesterday, and was riding along in the 6 am darkness wearing thermal underwear, my thick bike jacket and a scarf, and was still freezing. I couldn’t feel my hands and feet for about half an hour afterwards. I was considering getting a car for the winter months, but tolls (which motorbikes don’t have to pay) would cost me at least twelve dollars a day. This is literally highway robbery, and Perth’s freeway is thus far the only thing Perth does better than Melbourne.

I’ve rapidly become sick of working in retail anyway. It’s the same thing every day: “Hi, how’s it going, would you like a bag for that, which account was that on, would you like a receipt, have a good day!” I hope I won’t come across as arrogant if I say I’m better than that. They’ve also made me go from casual to part-time, so that my pay has gone from $20 an hour to $16. Meanwhile Jamie and Glenn both just got pay raises, and are both on at least $50,000 a year. Jamie’s friend Dave is on at least $70,000. It’s time for me to stop working in crappy minimum wage jobs and start building a career. Even the shittiest entry-level position writing copy for things I don’t care about would pay better than a dead-end retail job. And I wouldn’t have to get up at 3 am on winter mornings. So I’ve started jobhunting, even though I can only do it when visiting Kristie, since there’s no Internet in our Camberwell house. I do have an iPhone now (a good rule of thumb is that whenever an awesome new piece of technology comes out, it takes about five years for it to become ubiquitous and affordable enough for people like me to own it) and that’s OK for Facebook and such, but browsing the Internet on it is cramped and tedious. It also has a shitty camera, which is a shame, because there’s a lot of nice stuff in Melbourne to randomly snap photos of. The iPhone 4’s is fantastic, but I’m using Jamie’s old 3G.

Since I had to change phones anyway I switched from Vodafone to Optus, since Vodafone’s constant fuckery was starting to irritate me. Turns out Optus is just as bad; the only places I really have decent reception are at the airport and in the CBD. Technology infrastructure in Australia is hopeless. Although with Optus I do get free Facebook and Twitter, and signed up to Twitter purely because of that. I’m “mitchedgeworth” if you feel like following me.

I finally got in trouble for my (lack of) license plate today, because there was a booze bus on the way to work. I explained to the cops that I’d been trying to get it replaced, and that I’d filed a police report and spoken to VicRoads and such, to which I receieved a surly “And how are we supposed to know that?” From the words that just came out of my mouth, I thought. What the fuck did they want me to do? I’ve been chasing this fucking thing for months and received virtually no help from any government employee between the Indian and the Pacific. When I finally did get my documents together and went to a licensing centre, I was told I needed to bring the bike, even though they’d previously told me I didn’t have to. So I have to wait weeks for the next available appointment. Needing to make an appointment just to hand in forms is also stupid.

I’m perpetually disappointed with government services (police, VicRoads, visa bureaus and consulates all over the world) and yet I’m also perpetually disappointed with private companies (Chris’ insurance company, Worldbridge, CityLink). Everyone’s an asshole and nobody wants to help you out. What the world needs more of is not love, but common human decency.

Anyway, they let me off with a warning but told me to replace them by the end of the financial year. Which will also be the first time I have some money in my pocket thanks to the tax office. I was looking at my payslip the other day and was flabbergasted to find that I’ve earnt $7000 since working at this bookstore and saved nary a cent of it. Somehow – between rent and groceries and booze and mattresses and winter coats and scarves and books and restaurant meals and comedy shows and train fares – it’s all slipped away. I know I said I wanted to start enjoying life again instead of constantly scrimping and saving like I was for the last three years, but ideally I’d like to enjoy life and put aside some money for future adventures. Hence the jobhunt.

I never know how to finish these things. I’ve been idly flicking through books of famous people’s journals at work (Michael Palin, Christopher Isherwood, George Orwell) and keeping a daily diary seems tempting, but I suspect it would reveal a depressingly tedious routine to my life. Lord knows these occasional updates are dull enough.