All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Melbourne 2015: Day 04. Chillaxing in Fern Gully

And so we enter day four of my magnificent adventures in Melbourne. Today, the photos outweigh the text as we take a blissful stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens, chillax in the art galleries and take a tour of Melbourne CBD via some abstract architecture photography. Enjoy! :)

22nd August 2015, 7:51pm
Room 211, Flagstaff City Inn

Another. Busy. Day. It all began at 9:15am when I left the motel for a bracing stroll to Federation Square to visit the (much-loved) Book Market. It’s not the most jam-packed of book markets, but any volume of books is blissful for me. Although there were several books I wanted to buy (Murakami, White, Welsh, Robbins) I showed restraint and purchased only one: The Crow Road by Scottish literary master Iain Banks. This is a book I have loved since I first read it, a book that is firmly in my top ten of all time and a book I’ve been seeking out for years. And, as I’m currently embarked on a quest to attain a copy of each of my top ten favourite books, couldn’t pass up this literary bargain!

My top ten books of all time!

1. Quest for a Kelpie (Frances Hendry)
2. Memory and Dream (Charles de Lint)
3. Northern Lights: A Poet’s Sources (George Mackay Brown)
4. Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher)
5. The Hotel New Hampshire (John Irving)
6. The Stornoway Way (Kevin MacNeil)
7. The Crow Road (Iain Banks)
8. Still Life With Woodpecker (Tom Robbins)
9. Kidnapped (Robert Louis Stevenson)
10. Voss (Patrick White)

~ Bolded titles indicate those I currently own ~

After the book market I decided to return to the NGV and spent a good hour chillaxing amidst the art. Then, after a Cherry Coke break, I decided to head over to the Royal Botanical Gardens for a couple of hours getting in touch with nature. It was so serene and peaceful. And I totally fell in love with Fern Gully; a calm stroll through a pseudo-rainforest that reminded me of the Dandenongs and, by association, that fateful day in October 2007. It also occurred to me as I smelled the flowers and squealed at the cacti that I’d never spent so long in the Botanical Gardens. I’d been there before, when I first arrived in Australia, and a visit with my abusive girlfriend, but never for the length of time I spent there today. It was quite wonderful and easily one of the highlights of my trip thus far.

Following the gardens I roamed past the Shrine of Remembrance on my way to the NGV: International, where I spent an hour chillaxing amidst the art. And today I was (finally) able to get up close and personal with The Banquet of Cleopatra, my favourite painting in the collection. Yay!

Banquet of Cleopatra Selfie - NGV International, Melbourne.

‘Banquet of Cleopatra’ Selfie – NGV International, Melbourne.

By this point in the day my blisters were growing and walking was becoming extremely painful, but I persevered and spent some time window shopping in Dymocks and taking a few photos around the city.

I then hobbled to the pizza shop, treated myself to a (spectacular) potato & rosemary pizza and returned to the motel to gorge myself on carbohydrate and cheese. I’m now exceedingly tired, unable to think straight, my feet are beyond painful and I’m wishing I’d brought more comfortable shoes with me! So I’m kicking back with Total Wipeout and anticipating a beautiful sleep.

On the agenda for tomorrow is another blast from the past – Lygon Street – and a return to the ocean, something I haven’t seen since 2009! :)


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Melbourne 2015: Day 03. Facing the demons of the past…

And so we come to day three of my fabulous adventures in Melbourne. A day that saw me explore Melbourne’s past, face my personal demons and rediscover the majestic taste of the greatest soft drink known to human kind…

21st August 2015, 8:02pm
Room 211, Flagstaff City Inn

I’ve done so much walking over the last two days that I’ve developed blisters on top of blisters! Walking back to the motel this evening was exquisite pain, but removing my shoes and socks after another busy day was exquisite bliss. Although when I finally got a look at my blisters I was a bit disgusted. I have one on my left foot’s little toe that is bigger than the toe itself. It’s quite disgusting and, as I brought nothing sharp to pop it with, resorted to using one of the in-room forks to relieve the agony. Which was difficult, to be sure, but mightily satisfying when the damned thing burst!

I wasn’t quite as keen leaving as yesterday but I was in the city by 9:30am and at the museum by 10:00am. Yes, this much-loved destination was my chosen activity for the day, and to be honest, I was slightly underwhelmed. Sure, Meadhbh got all excited and started RAWRing in my ear when she saw the dinosaurs (they were completely unexpected) but the rest of the displays were lackluster and somewhat disappointing. There was a delightful rainforest installation (actual trees!) and the section that investigated the mind and all that affects it was interesting but for Melbourne Museum, there wasn’t an awful lot about Melbourne itself. Just a lackadaisical display that was nowhere near as interesting as I remembered. Sure, Phar Lap was present and correct, but where was the information on Melbourne’s growth as a city? Where was the artifacts drawn from Melbourne’s colourful history? Where was the Neighbours kitchen that used to grace this magnificent building? I did enjoy my visit to the museum – fortunately, due to my concession card, I gained free entry – but I was just disappointed that the displays weren’t as interesting or enjoyable as I remembered them.

After departing the museum I decided to challenge myself and headed down Nicholson Street toward the (dreaded) Brunswick Street. Ever since my emotionally abusive relationship this street has been massively triggering for me. It stirs all sorts of bad memories of that painful, debilitating time. It was on Brunswick Street that my girlfriend launched into an abusive tirade about how kissing me made her want to vomit. It was on Brunswick Street that she threw a glass of water over my head, and then laughed maniacally at my humiliation, all because I had stated a preference of actor. It was on Brunswick Street that my girlfriend launched into a (different) abusive tirade about how I was the most selfish human being that had ever lived, and that the only person I ever thought of was myself. It used to be my favourite street in Melbourne. But today, it is just a painful reminder of the agony my abuser caused me, and thus, for eight years I’ve avoided it like the plague. So I was quite chuffed with myself when I was able to meander the street with only heightened anxiety. No panic attacks. No grueling PTSD flashbacks. Just me on my once favourite street in Melbourne. I say once favourite because, like the rest of Melbourne the hipsters have taken over. Where once Brunswick Street was an assortment of independent shops and funky retailers, it is now a collection of trendy, up market clothes shops and even trendier, up market eateries. It has, alas, become hipster central. And I hated it. The Grub Street Bookstore (my second favourite second-hand book retailer in Melbourne) was still there, as was Dixons Recycled, but this was not enough to ease the pain of what Brunswick Street has become. Damned hipsters and there annoying, arrogant, hipster ways. How dare you destroy large swathes of the city for your own, petulant needs!

From Brunswick Street I went for a constitutional down Smith Street before aiming for Fitzroy Gardens, where I spent a good hour relaxing in this tranquil, tree filled oasis before returning to the city for some light (but essential) shopping.

By 3:00pm I was in Federation Square, enjoying a can of Cherry Coke and trying to decide what to do next. I didn’t feel like browsing the shops, nor did I feel like just sitting still, so I opted for a visit to the Immigration Museum. And glad I was that I made such a choice. Beautifully laid out, dynamic displays, a wealth of information and all housed inside a glorious building that was, at one point in Melbourne’s history, Customs House. I was far more impressed with the Immigration Museum than I was Melbourne Museum, and would urge anyone who visits Melbourne to place this attraction on their itinerary.

After leaving the museum City Basement Books, DVD Collection and The Little Library followed before I happened upon a shop that sells Irn Bru. Yes. Irn Bru! That magnificent Scottish soft drink. That beverage from the Gods. Oh boy, have I missed this particular sparking liquid! Cue Irn Bru selfies and a couple of rather random abstracts!

Tonight I was supposed to go to my gathering, which was pretty much the reason I came to Melbourne this week, but I’ve made the executive decision not to go. I’m tired. I’m a tad overwhelmed after Brunswick Street and I’m just not in the mood to be around hundreds of extroverted (and introverted) individuals. Some might see me as weak, as pathetic, as unexciting, as many negative (and horrible) things. But sometimes I need to look after myself because – surprise, surprise – there’s no-one else around to do it. With the mood I’m in I know that were I to go tonight I would be anxious, I would suffer a panic attack and I would ruin the upcoming weekend in Melbourne. So I don’t feel bad for not going. I’m just taking care of myself and prioritizing my needs above my need for sociable activity. So it’s just another evening in front of the TV and – if yesterday is anything to go by – another fitful, restless sleep.

On the agenda for tomorrow is the book market at Federation Square (yay, books!) and a chilled out arvo in the motel. Nothing exciting. Nothing special. Just another blissful day doing nothing and loving doing it!


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Melbourne 2015: Day 02. A good day in the Victorian capital

So after yesterday’s arrival in Melbourne, it was on Thursday 20th August that the real fun began. My first full day in Melbourne since November 2013 was jam-packed with beautiful art, nostalgic reminiscence and photography sessions by the Yarra river. So why not join me as my adventures in Melbourne continue…

20th August 2015, 6:19pm
Room 211, Flagstaff City Inn

BIG day! I was über-keen to leave this morning. Up and out by 8:45am – in the city by nine! Seriously, I couldn’t believe how early I got going this morning. It was nice. I had an early (unhealthy) bite to eat at Hungry Jacks (which reminded me of my homelessness as, when I could afford it, I would treat myself to a sausage and egg muffin to kick-start my day) before chilling in Federation Square whilst waiting for the The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia to open. Once it did I was in the door and rampantly seeking out The Pioneer. It wasn’t on display last time I was in Melbourne but today it was – and it was magnificent! Easily one of the greatest paintings of all time. After snapping off several photos (including some hideous Pioneer selfies!) I embarked on a tour of the rest of the building. Some of the galleries were closed but there was still a plethora of beautiful art on display including several Fred Williams and Sidney Nolan’s.

Pioneer Selfie!

Pioneer Selfie!

Various (Sidney Nolan)

Various (Sidney Nolan)

Fred Williams Selfie!

Fred Williams Selfie!

After having my fill of the gallery I set off on a walk around the city and – shock! – discovered a second-hand bookstore hidden away down a rickety flight of stairs on Flinders Street. I didn’t buy anything – there will be time for that later – but I did savor being around so many lovely, beautiful books again. It made me realise how much I miss bookshops. Wodonga, alas, has none – which is yet another reason I hate my adopted ‘home’.

City Basement Books; the only second hand bookstore in Melbourne CBD!

City Basement Books; the only second-hand bookstore in Melbourne CBD!

With literature on my mind I strolled across Princes Bridge and began my tour of the NGV International. I’ve noticed over the years that the collection doesn’t change as much as the Ian Potter Centre, but what a collection! I couldn’t see The Banquet of Cleopatra all that clearly as a school group was camped out in front of the painting, but I fell in love with a painting depicting the aftermath of the Glencoe Massacre and then fell in lust with a ravishing patron who was studying a painting in the 20th Century section. Shay took great pains to inform me of her spectacular arse, which I had already noticed as, last time I checked, I had eyes!

After the Massacre of Glencoe (Peter Graham)

After the Massacre of Glencoe (Peter Graham)

After I’d suffered art overload it was time for a comedown, so I meandered over to my old home at the Kings Domain and spent half an hour wallowing in memory and nostalgia. The bridge under which I slept is now awash with water but all my other sleeping spots were relatively unchanged. Various fences, however, have sprung up and the only reason for them seems to be as a homeless deterrent, which is a shame, but it was exceedingly strange being back in my old stomping ground. It’s been five years since I was living in the Kings Domain. Another life. Another Addy. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually survived that brutal, unforgiving time. Perhaps I’m stronger than I think I am.

To ease my mind after the onslaught of memories I took some time strolling around the city: Swanston Street, Collins Street, Bourke Street. Amazed at how much it’s changed. Stunned by how similar it is. I did break my budget by buying two DVDs from one of my old haunts (Jericho and The Guild) but they were super cheap ($12 for the two) and I’m not able to get them in Albury/Wodonga so I don’t feel too bad. After a miniature coke break it was time to wander Birrarung Marr, take photos along the Yarra and then a mini jaunt through ACMI and its two free displays. By this point I was pretty tired so window shopped down Elizabeth Street on my way back to the motel.

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It was bittersweet being in Melbourne today. I’ve always loved this city but is has has changed. It’s more posh, more hipster. It’s lost some of the cheap and cheerful vibe it used to have. Presumably so Melbournians can continue their pointless quest to prove themselves better than Sydneysiders. The sad fact is they don’t need to try so hard. Melbourne is better than Sydney. Always has been. Always will be. But if it keeps changing to placate the will of the hipster brigade it’ll screw with what makes it so beautiful, so unique, so charming. Anyway, what I did notice today was that the only happy people I encountered were tourists. Locals – Melbournians – were a right miserable, grumpy lot. All frowns and despondent faces. They’re supposed to live in the most livable city in the world. Surely they should be happy about that. But no. Grumpy, grumpy, grumble bums – the lot of them!

Looking down the Yarra River toward Melbourne CBD...

Looking down the Yarra River toward Melbourne CBD.

As for the rest of my evening, it’s just gonna be a quiet one in front of the TV I’m afraid. Which is a luxury in itself, given I don’t get reception at home! Doctor Who is on, followed by The Weekly, The IT Crowd and Good Game. All in all though today’s been a good day – one of the best for quite some time, in fact!