Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dis-O Week

This week was Orientation Week on university campuses around Australia. It’s always a festive time when new students arrive clutching campus maps handed to them, as they step off buses, by volunteer guides. They’re fresh faced, wearing their everyday clothes awkwardly, until they find their personal style outside of the comforting strictures of their old school uniforms. Their skin hasn’t become weathered by assessment-related stress or an unrestricted social life and, so, they’re bursting with untapped potential as they begin an exciting new stage in their lives.

It may have been all clubs and societies, freebies, markets, weird college initiations (watermelon!), and rock concerts for new and returning undergraduate students this week, but for working academics it was also the last opportunity to refine ARC Grant Applications before they were due on Friday afternoon. This is what I spent a good portion of my week doing, in my role as Project Officer, for a Discovery Grant application. This particular application was being revised and rewritten from a Linkage Grant, I also helped with, that had been unsuccessful in the last round. It has been another massive learning curve for me, seeing how The Academics do such things. Let me just say there’s a lot of out-of-hours emailing and cursing of the disappearance of the ARC Applications Management System (GAMS) site. I won’t go into the machinations of inter-university rivalries here, but my stars this week seemed more appropriate to last week advising me to remember that Machiavelli and Sigmund Freud were also Tauruses.

Now that many academics have spent the week before teaching starts, wondering if a misplaced semi-colon will be cause enough to have their hard-wrought application disqualified from contention in the grants lottery, it’s time to take a deep breath and prepare for delivering lectures and running tutorials. I accepted an offer to teach two tutorials in Australian Television this semester. I’ve done some marking for the course co-ordinator before and he is wonderful to work for—very cognisant of the potential for the yawning gap between pay received and work done. The course is right up my alley too, related to my thesis topic, and as someone pointed out to me the other day, it’s really useful to be forced to explain the intricacies of your subject to a lay audience.

I’ve also been working intermittently on a thesis-related post for about 3 weeks now. Not that I’m seeking to explain any deep insight to anyone reading this blog, truly. It’s just something that came up in my thoughts as part of the Summer Lovin’ series because I like to watch television. And the fact that the next line in the song is ‘crazy for me’. It seemed like an opening for some thesis talk that was impossible to ignore. So, that might be up here before another week goes by.

In other news, I’ve received notice that my rent will increase by $20 per week. I’m not convinced the flat is worth $160, especially when the griller on the oven doesn’t work, despite repeated requests; there is only one recycle bin between seven flats, despite repeated requests; the neighbourhood is full of drunken football goers and club-goers at least thrice a week; people have been killed and sexually assaulted around the corner, the latter on a fairly regular basis; the grime from the Hale Street Bypass makes cleaning an impossible, never-ending task; I have to run the water from the taps until the rust from the pipes clears before I can use it for cooking and drinking (what drought?); and the yard isn’t maintained to any standard.

But you know, real estate agents and property owners are just salivating over this whole give-the-flat-to-the- highest-bidder business that’s going on at the moment. I think they believe they can get $200 for this flat. Well good luck with that, I say. I’ve looked at what you can get for $200 and they’re all in cleaner, quieter and much better maintained premises than this one. The question is, am I prepared to pay that much right now? It means I would have to earn money in addition to my scholarship from now on, because that much would be more than half my income. I can’t imagine that I could make enough so it would be one third of my income, which is apparently the ideal amount to pay—I remember when ¼ of your income was considered appropriate.

It’s all a bit depressing. Whenever my rent has gone up, I’m always reminded of my financial vulnerability. I start to think about how I’m pretty much the age where if I don’t buy a property now, I’ll never pay it off in my working lifetime. But I just don’t have the regular income so that any bank/institution hoping to get a return on their investment, would give me a loan. It would be easier if I had a partner, because then, presumably, there would be two incomes. Fuck. It’s really frightening actually, so I’ll stop thinking about it for now.

In better news, I cooked the Thai green chicken curry. Ta dah!

I also took my niece to see Happy Feet. The funniest part was in the shorts before the movie. We were watching the previews for the new Eddie Murphy film, Norbit. Hannah was looking at the screen quizzically, when she turned and looked at the rest of the audience. She said to me, ‘All of those people are laughing. Let’s laugh too!’, at which point she did the best fake laugh ever. Smart as a whip that niece of mine.


David said...

Kirsty, you are one more victim of the discovery, somewhere amongst the middle/affluent/fatuous classes, that inner-city life is vivacious and 'real'. I am totally against it. I have always thought 'vivacuous' is a good word, and hope one day to write a book about this phenomenon, using a title purloined from some Fitzroy graffiti, 'Gentrifuct'.

Can you photoshop the chicken out of that curry please then I can look at it.

Kirsty said...

Focus on the brown rice and snow peas, David. But sorry for all those who have become used to meat free pics here. Perhaps you can pretend the chicken is those spongey fake meat tofu pieces.

Re: the rent increase, I'm wondering if there's any conclusion to be drawn from the fact that the lessor's name is McNab. Again, I say, some people's names just suit them.

David said...

Before we bought our house my sister (who bought a house in Coburg just before the housing boom for a song) used to tell me inspirational stories about home ownership including one about the people who banded together to buy a house with the express intent of selling it after X (2? 5? can't remember) years - essentially they aspired just to get a proper workable deposit and a bit more. So it was kind of like a share household but they did it tough collectively for a short time and ultimately benefited.

Kirsty said...

Hmmm, yes, I have heard a similar story. I will have to investigate the prospect.

David said...

It would also, you have to admit, make a grand sitcom for the ABC. The laidback, sporty chancer, the postgrad, the stuffed-shirt bank clerk, the widow, the villain. What have they all got in common? They're buying a house together! (NB you're 'the postgrad'. You draw wild canned laughter because you talk like you swallowed a dictionary.)

Kirsty said...

Are you enjoying hilarity at my expense? Is he enjoying hilarity at my expense?