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Hey babes!

On Sunday I had the absolute pleasure of attending a high tea event at the InterContinental ‘The Rialto’ to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound Of Music!

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When Pearl first asked me to go with her, I knew instantly it was an invitation I could NOT pass up.

I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen The Sound Of Music. I’ve twirled around various gazebos like Liesl and sung about my Favourite Things at the top of my voice on more than one occasion. I’ve watched The Sound Of Music with my sisters, my mother and both my Grandmothers. It’s just an iconic film that represents all the best parts of family, falling in love and appreciating the simple things life, like music in the hills and having confidence in yourself.

When Pearl and I arrived at the InterContinental, I didn’t have any idea what to expect. I’d never been to the ‘InterCon’ before, so I was feeling quite nervy as we walked into the beautiful, cavernous entrance of the The Rialto.

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  • Wig – Wigs Online
  • Specs – eBay
  • Doll earrings & 2D gem ring – I’m Your Present
  • Sweater – Kmart
  • Sequinned dress – Valleygirl
  • Clear jelly sandals (not pictured) – ZU
  • Clutch – Unknown (gifted)

We were ushered into a small conference room, which to our delight was set up with several large round tables laden with gifts and teacups. Each setting was complete with a ‘brown paper package tied up with string’, which we would later discover was a bag of Haigh’s chocolate. YUM.

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While we enjoyed our delicious assortment of high tea nibbles and a few a glass of champagne, we were privy to an exclusive showing of the new documentary “The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg”.

The doco is a visual treat that really showcases how glorious Salzburg is today, as well as how utterly fabulous Julie Andrews is, too. The woman is the epitome of grace and timelessness. She’s quite funny, too – the doco features more than one reference to her days as both Maria and Mary Poppins, and it’s clear she’s still got a fabulously cheeky streak in her golden years.

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As you can see, totally decadent! My favourite morsels were by far and away the cherry cheese cake, smoked salmon and cream cheese miniature bagel and the beef burgundy pie.

All-in-all, it was a truly fabulous event that I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a special treat for their Mum for Mother’s Day! The Sound of Music High Tea is running at the Market Lane Bar for three consecutive Sundays from the 26th of April. Get to it, Melbabes!

Raindrops on roses,

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Hello dumplings!

Believe it or not (and I barely can myself), my one month Melbourne anniversary passed by on the 19th of February! The funniest part is, I didn’t even realise it until yesterday. My life has been turned upside down and inside out in all the best possible ways over the past few weeks – and clearly, I’ve been having so much fun that I didn’t even get to celebrate my first milestone! I suppose I’ll have to make it an extra lavish celebration at the six month mark to compensate (can anyone say, champagne?).

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While I’ve mostly been gallivanting around the place like a unicorn in a cotton candy field, it’s time to get real: not eveything went exactly according to my plan, or lack-thereof. If there’s one thing that moving to a completely new city has taught me, it’s that there is definitely not one thing I needed to learn.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the whirlwind and excitement of making a huge snap decision like moving away. Maybe you bat away a few idle thoughts of budgets and transport and making friends that drift by in-between planning goodbye parties and packing your suitcases. Maybe you sit down with a spreadsheet and a bottle of vodka every night until you leave, obsessively planning all the itty-bitty practicalities of your move.

However you decide to do it, you may as well face facts, sweetheart – there will always be something that you haven’t prepared yourself for!

I’ve learned a lot of lessons very quickly in the first month of living away. I have a few pearls of wisdom to impart: I hope you find them useful…

  • You are not as prepared as you think you are

Just face it, and own it. No matter how much research you do, you are still going to get in to it – be it two weeks, one month, or six months – and feel unprepared. New friends, new priorities, new job, new lover, new house, new responsibility, new shopping centre – something new is always going to come up. Don’t think you’ve sorted it all out, because believe me, you haven’t. Just be aware that something, somewhere, is going to surpirse you – be it for better or worse.

  • The culture shock will shock you

Even moving from one city to another in the same country is going to throw you. There’ll always be something different to how things were at home – the way people dress, the way people talk, the way that clothes are displayed on mannequins, the way they serve coffee. You may thing that you totally get it: fun fact. You don’t. I’m still awed that people don’t stare at me incessantly in Melbourne, and that 24 hour pho diners are totally normal. There’ll always be something, so absorb it and utilise it. It’s all part of the experience.

  • Sort your amenities ASAP

Find your local late-night grocer, emergency doctor, fish ‘n’ chip shop, petrol station, hospital, train stop, pharmacy, liquor store and late-night pizza joint are. Would you rather wait until you crave pizza so badly you’d eat your own arm, or chop off your finger in a freak onion slicing accident? I don’t think so. Sort that shit out in the first week. You’ll thank me later.

  • Travel cards are your number one priority

The first day you arrive, chuck as much money as possible onto your travel card. In Melbourne, it’s called Myki. In London, it’s Oyster. Once the money is on there, you can’t transfer it off – meaning, you can’t get drunk and accidentally spend your train money on scotch before your first week of work is over. Getting from A to B is an integral part of living in a new city – so make sure it’s a priority money-wise!

  • Get into a routine

Here’s mine: wake up, shower, dress, travel to work, make coffee, work, travel home, get groceries to make dinner, get home, glass of wine, write, cook, shower, read, bed. OK, so maybe it varies a little from day to day – obviously, I’m not a hermit – but establishing a routine will help you to feel more settled more quickly. Even if it’s just rising at the same time every morning, or always getting coffee from the same place: it will help to ground you and imprint your existence onto your surroundings. It’s all about where you distribute your energy, babe.

  • It’s okay to ask for help

Whether you have to call your parents and ask for a hundred bucks to see you through till the end of the week, or call a friend and admit you’re having an anxiety attack about being in a new place – it doesn’t matter. What you’re doing is scary as shit. Own it. It’s okay. When you announced you were leaving, no one expected that they’d never hear from you again. Asking for help is not the same as admitting defeat. If anything, it proves the exact opposite  - that you care enough about what you’re doing to go to any lengths to make it work.

  • Don’t discount your new neighbours

During your first few days in your new place, make the effort to go next door and introduce yourself. (Full disclosure: I did not do this – to my detriment.) Whether it’s a simple ‘hello’ in the doorway, or you invite them over for coffee and cake, establishing rapport with your neighbours will go a long way if you accidentally lock yourself out of your new apartment (not that this ever happened to me) or can’t work out how to use the built in microwave. They’ll probably also keep an extra eye out for you, so if you work full time or travel a lot, there’ll be someone to watch the door and let you know if there’s any funny business going on.

  • Make an emergency kit

Rubber bands. Paracetamol. Matches. Saline drops. Twist ties. Safety pins. Bandaids. Paper clips can be used to pop open SIM card holders. Toothpicks can pick out gunk from the bathroom drain. Trust me, you take all these things for granted at home, but when you’re on your own, there’ll come a time when you wish you had an elastic band up your sleeve. Macgyver style.

  • It’s possible to buy booze for $5

If you get paid fortnightly, set yourself a limit for drinks and stick to it. If you’re partial to French red, fantastic! Treat yourself to a bottle every now and then. But also be prepared to make sacrifices when you have to. There’s no sense in buying a forty dollar bottle of scotch to take to a party if you only have fifty dollars left in your bank account. There’s no shame in factoring booze into your budget. If anything, it makes you a super responsible adult. *sips cask rose*

  • Breaking up is not just about moving away

I’m sure a lot of you have been wondering what’s happened between Nate and I. The truth is: life. You should always expect to grow exponentially in your relationships – all of them – whether together, or separately. Nate and I ended our relationship, not because I left Adelaide- but because we both recognise that we were no longer serving each other in a partnership. My moving to Melbourne had everything to do with my personal growth, and nothing to do with our respective failings. If you’re struggling to come to terms with a similar situation, recognise that making the choice to move has made you braver, stronger and happier.

  • Get to know your locale

Go exploring! Your world doesn’t begin and end at your train station. Go and find the best cafes. The coolest junk stores. The quirkiest tattoo parlours. The randomest community gardens. Get to know your town and she will love you right back.

  • If you need to freak out, do (just make sure you have support first)

Full disclosure: I had a major meltdown on Friday. I went from the throes of hilarity at after work drinks to the pits of a full blown anxiety attack at my friends house in the space of a single hour. I read the signs, ignored them, and like always, my anxiety erupted like fucking Vesuvius. I obviously needed to release some feels, and you know what? It’s fine. There’s no perfect way to change your life. It’s a process, and you need to grow with it. Of course, where possible, it’s always advisable to have someone you can trust with you when everything falls apart (Pearl: I love you).

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  • Shopping is not the most exciting thing

My first thought upon arriving in Melbourne and receiving my first paycheque? H&M!!!!!!!!!!! (Italicised bold capitals intentional). Ugh, trust me, I know just how tempting it is to run rampant with your hard earned cash and spend up big. My advice? Don’t. At least not in the first month or so. You’re in a brand new place with a plethora of cool shit on offer – don’t spend your dollars on shitty clothes and plastic jewellery! Go out and experience things. Which leads me nicely onto my next point…

  • Check out what’s happening in advance

I know first hand: nothing is going to make you feel worse than being invited to do something awesome with a bunch of insanely cool new people than having to reject their invitation because you’re broke. In five weeks, this has happened to me twice – and I could have avoided both embarrassment and heartache each time by setting aside a few extra dollars on pay day. Look up your new city’s events calendar! What happening? When? Where? If you want to go, ask the people you know if they’re planning to attend. I’d recommend keeping a month ahead of the calendar – that way, you can budget properly and plan your effervescent social calendar around what you actually want to do.  And for God’s sake, set a bit of cash aside.

  • Establish your space, and do it quickly

Bring as much stuff as possible with you when you’re ‘bumping in ‘ to your new home. I’ve been housesitting, so although I have my own clothes, cosmetics and jewellery here – it clearly is not my space. If you have to move quickly, or into someone else’s’ home, bring the necessities – but also bring a few personal items, like a few books, photographs or trinkets. If you’re lucky enough to move into your own place straight away, spend as much time as you can arranging your furniture and taking command of your space. It will help you feel grounded.

  • It’s okay to feel lonely and afraid

No. You are not weak, or a loser, or pathetic, or a failure if you miss your friends and family or are petrified to go outside by yourself. Just recognise this as a beautiful opportunity for personal growth and take small steps. Allow yourself a phone call home once a day for a week, and then reduce it to every second day the next week. Instead of blazing around the entire city on your own in one night, venture outside and check out a local bookstore on a Sunday afternoon by yourself. Take it easy, babe. No one told you this thing would be a joy ride.

  • There’s no shame in a mental health plan

This is really, really important for anyone that’s dealing with mental illness. I came to rely on my family GP for years and years when I needed something – to sound off, to cry, to have meds adjusted or to try and understand what was going on inside my head. When I moved away, I also moved away from my safety net. So I made my own. I implore you to do the same. Be proactive. If you think you’re going to need support, make an appointment to see a GP in your area. Be armed with your history and your current circumstances. Ask them for help in managing any present triggers, or for help developing a plan for the future. Take ownership of your health – physical and mental. It’s so, so important.

  • Your family is always there

I’m lucky enough to have two parents who love me unconditionally, and three siblings who try their damnedest (ha!). If you’re in the same boat, just remember – they will always be there. It’s okay to cry to them. It’s okay to tell them your best achievements. It’s even better when they tell you they’re proud of you. Even if you don’t have conventional family support, there is always somebody that you can call. An aunt. A foster sibling. A grandparent. Remember: no one on this earth is alone. Including you. If all else fails, I am here for you, and I love you. mj@mjvalentine.com – anytime.

  • Keep some cash for an emergency flight home

As lamentable as my budgeting skills are, I made sure that when my first paycheque came in, I pulled out enough dollars for a return flight to Adelaide. In the olden days, they called it ‘rainy day’ money. I hid it in my apartment, and it’s there to stay. If I lose my job, my way, or my mind, I have a down payment on the final straw that I can cash in if I ever truly need to. I would suggest that anyone in similar circumstances to mine does the same. – just in case.

  • Only confide in people who will support your circumstances

A wise woman once told another wise woman (the former being someone exceptionally close to me) that she should only confide her darkest secrets to those who she knew would be supportive. The woman in question told me this is passing one day, and it’s probably the best piece of inadvertent advice she’s ever given me. If you want to pack it all in, don’t call someone from home who’ll tell you it was a stupid idea to leave in the first place. If you hate your new job, don’t tell anyone who’ll just say they knew that you’d never be successful in the role. Save your darkest admissions not for cheerleaders or soul-suckers, but for people who have and will support you through to till the very end.

Have you moved to a new city? What piece of advice would you give?

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The other evening, I was hanging out with my wonderful friend Sebastian. He’s so much fun to be around – kind, generous, interesting, hilarious. He also happens to be gay. And he also happens to believe that we – as a society – should quit pushing for gay marriage rights.

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I was as floored as half of you probably are. It was the last thing I was expecting to hear, especially from him. In this day and age, it seems every man and his dog are campaigning for equal marriage rights. Right? Wrong, apparently.

The more we discussed equal marriage and his reasons for ‘ditching the marches’ and ‘allowing the church to live their values’, the more complex and controversial our respective supporting arguments became. Religion. Politics. Ethics. Family. I typically avoid discussing these things in casual conversation, and yet I couldn’t stop myself from piping up and counter-arguing with Seb when I disagreed. It’s a mark of how gracious he is that he listened openly to my views and that we kept our discussion on a level playing field, rather than firing up and allowing anger or frustration to take over.

However, it’s not always so. We all have disagreements with people from time to time, ranging from who’s turn it is to clean the toilet to where you should both go on holiday to when is the right time to start a family. The trick to having these conversations lies not in the way you answer or the research you have done. It’s actually far more difficult.

  • Listen to what the other person has to say

Have you ever had someone throw their hand up at you, palm forward, right in the middle of what you were saying? It doesn’t have to be as rude a gesture as that, but continually interrupting, feigning interest or avoiding eye contact as all equally as disrespectful. Generally speaking, if you land in the middle of a big discussion with someone about something very serious, it’s because you both trust each other enough with your views that you expect to be heard. Don’t attempt to silence someone just because you disagree with them.

  • Validate their point of view

You don’t need to agree with something to validate someone’s beliefs. My mum used to tell us that my Grandfather would interrupt their arguments by saying ‘you are entitled to be wrong’; a spin on the old, ‘you are entitled to your own opinion’. It used to drive me nuts just thinking about it. You don’t have to agree, but you do need to consider the motives (be them political, spiritual or otherwise) and personal experiences behind the other person’s views. A simple, “I understand where you’re coming from,” can go a long way.

  • Keep your head level and your voice down

Yelling definitely gets you somewhere: nowhere. Fast. Firing up and sounding off may seem like a great idea at the time, but in the middle of a complex discussion, it is the last thing you should do – unless you plan to destroy your relationship. If you’re getting frustrated and upset, take a breather. You aren’t going to solve all the world’s issues with one conversation, and you should never go into an argument expecting to change the other person’s mind. It never works and all you’re going to do is burn bridges. Keep it friendly, and if you can’t do that, at least keep it civil.

  • Agree to disagree

If you can’t work towards a mutual understanding, it’s time to call it quits. These sorts of discussions can be incredibly powerful in bringing two people closer together – they help us to achieve mutual respect for one another. Don’t blow it by trying to force your point or pick up the argument from where you left off in one week. If you’re not going to agree, agree to disagree, and you can move forward knowing that you’ve opened the mind of the other person – even if only for half an hour.

Finally, I’m not going to answer any questions your might have about Seb’s beliefs. I respect his privacy and he is as entitled to his views as I am to mine. Not to mention, if anyone deserves a say in the ‘equal marriage’ debate, it would be a gay man living in a country that is working towards a better future for all it’s people.

I invite you to comment, because your opinion matters to me. But please, for the love of the Universe, keep it clean and respectful. Capiche?

Have you ever had to keep a level head in a complex debate?

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So, I know I’m about a zillion years behind the eight ball year – but I discovered Spotify a few months ago, and jeepers creepers, I am obsessed.

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I’ve spent hours saving albums (thankyou, Vodafone, for two months of unlimited data) and creating playlists; I’ve basically swapped out iTunes for Spotify when I’m on the go. I have playlists called ‘What Love Sounds Like’ and ‘New City’ and ‘Favourite Coffeehouse’, amongst others. I just pick an artist or an album or a list of tracks and go. It’s brilliant.

I’ve also had some pretty hilarious moments when I’ve caught myself mid-thought, mid-song, and be forced to recognise a fact that I have been denying for years: listening to music is one of the only times that I feel totally separated from my thoughts. And when that happens, my thoughts take on a universe of their own. I’d bet my last two dollars that the same thing happens to you – especially when you’re travelling on public transport, walking down the street or perusing the aisles in your local supermarket. Wanna take the wager?

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  • Taylor Swift

I’m on your side, Tay-Tay! (#Swiftyforlyf!) …man, fairytale love is legit a thing. I remember that time I met Prince Charming on a balcony in summer air. Dude turned out to be a total wanker. … I wonder if T-Swizzle is sponsored by Disney? I wonder why she hasn’t done a song for Disney? Man, I’m going to watch Frozen when I get home from work tonight.  Who needs a summer balcony if you have the ability to turn stuff into ice. Elsa’s like, the coolest princess ever. Ha! Coolest! Fuck I’m funny. … seriously though, Taylor, you’re my homegirl. We got this (just don’t tell anyone).

  • The Cat Empire

I wonder if these guys are as attractive as they sound. I bet the lead singer wears a fedora. What is it about brass players and fedoras? I know at least three of them that rock hats all the time. … if I listen to this, does it constitute as jazz? Am I into jazz? Oh God, am I turning into my father? Carrie Mathison from Homeland listens to jazz and she’s an alcoholic spy who falls in love with a terrorist. Jesus. Okay, skipping to the next song… oh, wait, this is the part when he sings about having a pair of balls for strength and a pair of lungs that sing! BEST LINE EVER. Def not jazz. I think we’re okay.

  • Missy Elliot

I am such a BADASS right now. I need to invest in some giant hoop earrings. Is it still cool to wear those? Oh wait, I bought some like two months ago. I wonder if they make me look like Missy Elliot? She is one cool lady.  … was it her that slept with Biggie Smalls? No, that was someone else. Come to think of it, Biggie probably slept with loads of girls. Probably her too. Obviously, because she is a stone-cold, hardcore fox… I bet I could learn ever word in this song. OMG. Totally going to do that and then crump around my place tonight like a gangsta. … HAHA, “None for you, Glen Coco.” That’s right, Milkshake was on the Mean Girls soundtrack! Bugger that, I’m just going to watch Mean Girls when I get home. Totally going to start wearing pink on Wednesdays. … oh, you LOSER. Milkshake isn’t even Missy’s song. … whatever. Totes still going to watch Mean Girls. Also, note to self: download Kelis.

  • Adele

Adele, only you and I know the true pain of real heartbreak. Why does no one else understand? Why is your voice so much louder than mine when you sing? I wonder if this song is making me look sad. … oh Jesus, that guy is a babe. Now he’s going to think I’m some emo loser who grimaces a lot. Better smile, quick! … nice one. Totally saved it. … oh dear LORD, this is depressing. WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST GIVE HIM THE THINGS THAT SHE GAVE TO HIM INSTEAD. … it’s okay, Adele. I understand. I once dated a guy who broke up with me because I wore a sweater to bed instead of pyjamas. I guess his next girlfriend probably shopped in Peter Alexander and not the tourist stalls on Charing Cross Road.

  • Beyonce

I am SO DAMN BODY CONFIDENT RIGHT NOW. I got so much jelly that even Jesus couldn’t handle it. It’s so unfair that ‘Yonce is both chunky and as tight as synthetic heels. She must have the best personal trainer in the universe. … of course she does, idiot, she’s freaking Beyonce. … right, that’s it. I’m going on a health kick. I’m going to renew my gym membership tomorrow. … oh God, it’s just so expensive. If I was Beyonce I’d be able to afford like, a million gym memberships. I’d buy a gym membership for every starving child in Africa. And food, of course. … mmm, food. Oh damn it – totally forgot to pack lunch today. Helloooooo dumplings. I wonder if my freakum dress has enough ruching to contain a fifteen pack of steamed pork and chive? To do: dry clean freakum dress, buy Diet Coke.

  • Chet Faker

I wonder if Chet Faker is a cool dude in person. He just seems so… chill. I wonder if he’s an Aussie. *Google* OH MY GOD! HE IS AN AUSSIE! Do Europeans consider this shit to be progressive? Probably. Everything in Europe is considered progressive. … man, this is making me almost sleepy. I wonder if he took the name Chet Faker because his music is so different from Chet Baker’s. Ironic. Well, of course it is, Chet Baker was a jazz artist popular like fifty years ago. … ugh, I so mucked up my year twelve jazz exam. Why did I choose a Chet Baker song? I bet if I’d done a Chet Faker song, I would have passed. WHY ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT CHET BAKER? Just get off the damn train, already.

  • Sara Bareilles

Every time I listen to this song, I like it more. I also understand it more. Her lyrics are so poetic. I mean, is she actually singing about being in love with someone who keeps her grounded? Or some sick, emotionally abusive relationship she had that she couldn’t get away from? … seriously, what is wrong with me? WHY DOES MY BRAIN GO THERE. IT’S NICE. JUST ENJOY IT. … Man, I love this song. … oh God, have I already tasted my ‘one sweet love’? What if I mucked it up? How would I know? What is even the point of everything? … hold up, girl, don’t go down that road. It’s 8.13am. At least have coffee first.

  • Ben Folds

Does any one else, other than me, actually listen to Ben Folds? … who cares. *Rocks the fuq out*

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers

I think I want dreads. I could totally be a rocker chick if I wanted to. It’s not that hard, I have the tatts and the bad-ass attitude. … who am I kidding, the only thing less bad-ass than me is Peppa Pig. … I wish I had discovered these guys when I was in high school. I would have been so much cooler. I can’t even remember what I was listening to in high school. … oh, that’s right, Powderfinger! Man, I loved Powderfinger. Definitely going to download their album.

  • 5SOS

… hang on. Exactly how soundproof are these headphones? Can the guy next to me on the Lilydale line actually hear this? Oh Jesus. He’s looking at me. He knows. HE KNOWS. … I definitely need to invest in some American Apparel underwear, that shit sounds comfy as hell. Is he singing about Y-fronts? Do American Apparel actually do Y-fronts? Why, hello, Google. … Even thought they look like they’re about twelve years old, they are def still doable. I wonder how old they are? *Googles* … I don’t really care what anyone says, I love this song! It’s the perfect summer tune. Almost as good as Summertime by Thirsty Merc. OMG. I LOVE that song! I haven’t listened to that in ages. *Skips to Summertime*

  • Deadmau5

Ugh, I remember the night I saw Deadmau5 live. … bit of a blur. But such a good, good blur. … I wonder if trance is designed to mess with your heart rate? The memory of standing in front of those speaker stacks at Planet Cream in 2012 sure makes me think so. Man, 2012. I was a baby back then! … why do I not go out any more? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with all the people I used to go out with? Is it weird that I kind of want to go out right now? … why exactly does ‘Sofi need a ladder’? What is she climbing? What is the purpose behind this song? Oh FUCK, I am so OLD.

  • John Mayer

THIS GUY JUST MAKES ME REMEMBER ALL THE REASONS MUSICIANS MAKE TERRIBLE BOYFRIENDS. Why is life so unfair? He even got tattoos a few years ago. What a babe. … he is such a fabulous lyricist. Lyricist! How do I even know that word? … God I love him. It’s not really hard to see why so many A-List women have fallen for Jay-May. Back To You, Your Body Is A Wonderland, Gravity, Slow Dancing In A Burning Room, Dreaming With A Broken Heart. This stuff is written for lonely chicks who just need a good cry and a tub of icecream. … wait…

  • Paloma Faith

How is she so cute? Everything from her little button nose down to her cute Bri’ish accent. Like Colin from Love Actually, only not a dude, or a creep. She’s just super adorable. She’s flat there though. And sharp there. And sharp again. And – I’m not even sure what that note was. … seriously? Are you critiquing Paloma Faith right now? She earns ten times your salary in a month. Get a grip. … I so should have stuck with the music thing. I’d rock this shit. Maybe I should audition for The X Factor next year. Oooooh, look, two-for-one Doritos! … okay, so maybe audition the year after next. … I wonder if my Aussie accent would have the same affect on fans as her British one. … probs not. It’s kind of a universal fact that Brit accents are just more darling. Damn you, Neighbours.

Switchfoot

Are Switchfoot still a thing? And why are they daring me to move? Clearly I am on the move. I am going places. So many places. Like, the local library. And the bottle shop. And the pizza join down the road. … is this song meant to be motivational?

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Happy Sunday, Magic Makers!

Shit is about to get a little poetic and I know not all you babes are into these kinds of posts – so be sure to check back in the coming week for another outfit post and a few other fun little tidbits. Plenty on the way, I promise!

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So yesterday morning, I woke up feeling slightly uncomfortable. I wish I could attribute the feeling entirely to my hangover (I went partying with my new work friends on Friday night) but in truth, it was something else. As I lay cocooned in the deliciously warm feather duvet on loan to me from my current landlord, and in the depths of my heady, sheltered bliss, I took a couple of moments to revel in the past two weeks. The places, the people, the surrounds. I was smiling to myself when it happened. I had an Elizabeth Gilbert moment. Eat Pray Love style.

“Is this all you needed, then, MJ?”

A plane trip, a different bed, a fresh set of faces, a new place to write? Different coffee, un-encountered eyes, a crisply-pressed perspective?  I lay there, uncomfortably aware of the itty-bitty knot forming in the pit of my stomach. Surely, after everything, I didn’t finally get to my new city only to discover that a few decent night’s sleep and the burgeoning promise of beautiful, new impossibilities were all that I actually needed to straighten myself out.

Inevitably, the more I thought about it, the tighter the little knot grew. When I finally pulled myself out of bed, the sun was hidden behind clouds for the first time since I arrived- an ominous omen for a spiral of self-doubt. Believe me, I know the signs all too well. So I decided that today, a pre-emptive strike was necessary. I discovered long ago that one of the keys to overcoming fear is to immerse myself totally in new experiences; I need to bond with my circumstances in order to overcome them. This, coincidentally, is also the reason that I’ve been forcing myself to sleep with the lights off every night since I got here; and, lo-and-behold, I’ve been consistently sleeping through the night for the first time in ten years. The lesson here is that we need to learn to accept darkness in order to overcome it.

With all that fuq-ery in mind, I got dressed and waited for the morning rain to pass before packing my bag with snacks, charging my phone and charging out the door. I’ve been lamenting the fact that I hadn’t yet explored my new surroundings properly, the way that I always do when I visit a new place. It’s not enough to drive down the main street or buy a meal from a takeaway, to say that you have experienced something new. So today, I got over myself and got out to explore – properly. My way. And, of course,  it was absolutely beautiful.

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Nothing could have prepared me for how I would feel when I ‘moved in’ to my new home. Hawthorn, like so much of Melbourne, is a place of contrasts. There are smatterings of beautiful old buildings and cobbled lane ways that have stood here for over a hundred years, nestled cosily in amongst bright and vibrant modern establishments that ooze sophistication. There’s an old church crumbling spectacularly on the corner in the middle of Glenferrie Road, appearing to be held up solely by the scaffolding in place for builders to restore it to it’s former grandeur.

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I am both fascinated and terrified by it; I hope to go inside the grounds one day for a closer look, perhaps clutching the hand of someone who’ll pull me along the way. I can only imagine the church would be a sight to behold from the top levels of Swinburne University, which sits proudly a mere block-and-a-half over.

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Being quintessentially a ‘student town’ (it reminds me in some ways of my time in Oxford), Hawthorn is packed to bursting with cosy cafes that all seems to boast the best coffee this side of the Yarra River. There are countless takeaway places, restaurants-cum-bars, record stores, skate shops and homeware outlets that stock enough trinkets and toys to fill every nook and cranny of the tiniest student digs to the enormous estate homes in suburbs a few tram stops over. There are restaurants for every persuasion – Malaysian, Thai, Italian, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, Mongolian; even a Japanese tea house that I can’t wait to try.

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There are French delicatessens, beautiful artisan bakeries and tattoo parlours. There’s an old-fashioned barber shop situated next to a sleek, upmarket ladies hair salon, seconds away from a nail bar that wafts it’s signature nail bar smell all the way to Glenferrie train station. Street art is smattered every few laneways along; not as prominent as those you’ll find in the middle of Melbourne city, but there’s enough to remind you that you are in a city which unequivocally accepts art in all it’s twisted, wonderful forms.

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In the back streets that run away from Glenferrie Road, the modern student rental blocks tower over beautifully restored cottage homes and shoe box-sized terraces. Many are tucked behind carefully curated stone walls, or picket fences that have become entangled with hundreds of roses. In the back streets, towering trees boasting brightly coloured blooms breathe against textured brick walls, sighing into the structures as though they’ve always been there.

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Getting to know Hawthorn is like getting to know a cool, older neighbour who grew up in a wealthy home, travels regularly, eats curry for breakfast and occasionally smokes pot with her friends. You get the feeling that with her, anything goes, but somewhere deep down there’s a line that can’t be crossed. It’s just lucky that when the time comes to catapult over that line, her crazy, younger niece is Melbourne city. She’ll hold your hand, go along for the ride and is only a couple of train stops away.

Needless to say, I arrived back at my apartment this evening filled with wonder and joy. The uncertainty leaked away and in it’s place is the same fiery excitement I felt the first time I visited Melbourne, as I knew it would be. I’m always on the hunt for new people to explore with, so if you’re a Melbournian and keen to go for an adventure, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

What do you love most about where you live?

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