65) 2019-2020. Stephen St, Yarraville, AUSTRALIA

The downside of moving to the United States of America on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as President was…everything.

I’m not being dramatic. It’s mathematical: There is no upside, ergo it’s all a downside.


By the time the election was called in his favour, I was already five months into the six-and-a-half month process to move my life to the U.S., so it was too late to turn back.

Nevertheless, it was a lifelong dream, and as I said approximately five thousand times (every time I was well-meaningly asked “I guess you don’t want to move there now?”): I wasn’t going to turn an existential defeat into a personal one. I wasn’t giving up my lifelong dream for anyone.

And besides: did I make it work or did I make it work? I had an incredible time in New York for three years: learning shit at the Upright Citizens Brigade, starting a podcast with my BFF, being a background actor on one of my favourite TV shows (and several I’ve never seen), learning the art of comedy writing at a one-of-a-kind comedy writer’s summer camp, being shortlisted for NBC’s Late Night Writer’s Workshop, GETTING MARRIED? I loved my apartment, I loved the winters, I loved the excitement, I loved the musical theatre, I loved the life.

But the weight of the world still gnawed at me. The cruelty being enacted by the government; inside the borders, outside the borders, and particularly on the borders, weighed us down. The spectacular joke that is the American healthcare system weighed us down. The “invisible” class system that infiltrates every level of American society, particularly in corporate workplaces in New York City, weighed Will down. The things that I had taken for granted in Australia: a standard four weeks annual leave, superannuation, bread that doesn’t have sugar in it, weighed me down. That last one isn’t even a metaphor. The sugary bread—which is cake. It’s JUST CAKE. You are making sandwiches with SLICES OF CAKE—started weighing me down. There’s nowhere better in the world to stress eat than the United States of America. I highly recommend it. But the root cause of the stress eating was no fucking fun.

But this is what I wanted.


In the weeks leading up to the U.S.’s midterm elections in 2018, Will and I had a heavy conversation that had a very simple premise: What if we just left? We very carefully handed the decision back and forth for weeks. Every time one of us did a heavy sigh, or had a bad night’s sleep, or started clawing at the cakebread, the other would bring up The Question: carefully, like a recently jostled champagne bottle, lest we make the decision too abruptly and lose an eye.

Every time one of us asked The Question, we got a tiny bit closer to an answer. And then, one day, the cork popped: it was decided if things didn’t swing back toward the left in the midterm elections, then it would be panic stations because they may never, so we should plan an escape now and deploy the plan in November if things went pear-shaped.

“Escape”. That was the specific word we used. In hindsight that seems very melodramatic, but at the time it was, at worst, only slightly melodramatic. I’ll be honest, the word felt right. So, we laid out the logistics, the requirements, the pros and the cons, and by the time the elections were upon us, we had our contingency plan.

As it turned out, the midterm elections went surprisingly well. “Escape” was not necessary.


The morning after the midterm elections, the thought remained in our minds. I can’t remember which of us started the conversation, but I know what was said:

“I…sort of…still want to enact the contingency plan.”
“Me too.”
“Fuck. Okay.”
“Let’s go.”

And we enacted the plan.


The last time I looked at our apartment door before we left, I took a photo. Did I immediately cry at the photo? Yes, yes I did.

Now, to move a small dog to Australia (or any size dog, but we happen to have a small one) requires about six months of scheduled vet visits. A six month wait put us just about at the time of our lease ending, so we had our time frame built in.

In the middle of that six month wait, I had a potential writing career opportunity that threatened to derail the whole thing. It didn’t pan out obviously, I just want to point out that it wasn’t just a six month waiting stint. It was six months of managing somewhere between two and seven “what if?” scenarios. Nothing was settled, nothing was final, nothing was certain until we were sitting on the plane.

On August 15, 2019 we sat on the plane.

On August 17, 2019 we landed in Melbourne. 

I’m writing this over two and a half years after the fact, so I can say with the benefit of hindsight that we moved into a two bedroom house that was modest in size, bordering on “poky”. But having just come from a 1 bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s 148th St, it felt palatial. Will went almost two whole weeks without stubbing his toe on anything.


You can’t see in this photo, but that front yard is tiled. I don’t know who did it, but I appreciate knowing there’s someone out there who hates mowing even more than I do.

Ten days after we arrived back in Australia, we picked Mattie up from quarantine (a term that, back in 2019, only referred to something you did with dogs when you brought them to Australia), she let out a high-pitched keening noise for 25 straight minutes, we vowed to never put her on a plane ever again, and we started building a new life, again. I reconnected with my old friends, started going back into the office after three years of working remotely (a term that, back in 2019, only referred to something you did in extreme circumstances such as, for example, an employee with a particularly niche set of skills fucking off to America), and Will started adjusting to a new life of savoury bread and no ozone layer.

My chapter of living in another hemisphere ended, and his began.


60) 2014-2016. High Street, Thornbury VIC 3071

In May of 2014, I was sitting at work beside Cassie; my supervisor with whom I shared a desk. We were discussing Cassie’s plans to lease a commercial space in Thornbury from which she and her partner of ten years, Paul, could run their film production company, as well as live. They had found a perfect place, but the residence above the studio had one too many bedrooms. Cassie was toying with the idea of taking the place anyway, and getting in a boarder.

I guess you can see where this is heading: I became the boarder.

Directly to the left of my home is Brother Alec, one of the greatest cafes in Melbourne. If you are able, go there at your earliest convenience.

I gave notice at the Thornbury Crap Museum, and the three of us spent several weekends fixing up the new studio/residence. The shower and hot water system were replaced, leaks in the roof and holes in the floor were filled in, and the glass shop frontage was cleaned. We also ripped up the horrible carpets, polished the floorboards and painted everything. With free range of colours to choose from, I painted my room red.

Carpets, holes, sanding off layers of floor: with the exception of the painting, every task seemed to involve taking off a layer of something to reveal something even grosser underneath.

After nearly a month of DIY work, packing and moving, on the first weekend in July 2014, we were finally ready to move in. By Saturday afternoon, we’d taken up our new residence on High Street.


My bedroom, before and after.

By Saturday night, Cassie and Paul had broken up.


Me, at the time. And I assume you, now.

It was at this point that I realised, finally, in my 60th house, that I will never have control over this lifelong habit of moving around and having weird shit happen. So rather than panicking and moving out again, I leaned into it. I continued nesting. I set up The Thornbury Crap Museum II, and I stayed.


Just so we’re clear: “Crap Museum” doesn’t refer to the quality of the building; it is a specific reference to all the crap I own and nest with.

I’ve now been living here for nearly fourteen months. That makes the Thornbury Crap Museum II third in the list of places I’ve lived the longest. And it is wonderful. Unconventional, but wonderful. Cassie and Paul both still live here; after the break up Cassie moved into what had been, for those first four hours after we moved in, the walk-in pantry. She still lives in that pantry, but now shares it with her new husband, who she married just this month, and who is also called Paul. (As a result of this bizarre coincidence, it is a house rule that I not date anybody called Paul, for fear the confusion would just become too much.) We share this place with a very large old dog who behaves like a cat, and so far it’s working out great. And that’s weird.

If anything, I think the weirdness of our situation has made us all braver. All four of us have taken huge leaps outside our comfort zones since being here. Cassie and I both quit our full time jobs in December last year to pursue our artistic endeavours; Cassie to run the film studio full time, me to pursue acting and writing as a real and proper thing. One Paul dove headfirst into an avalanche of projects, both through his regular job and through the film studio, and is discovering for the first time what parts of film production really yank his chain. And the other Paul is discovering, after years of travelling without any real grounding, what it’s like to put down roots and have a home. This weird, ramshackle box is both a sanctuary and a haven for weird ideas. The situation I currently live in could not be more unconventional, and yet I love it.

It’s also, obviously, impermanent. I mean. I have no intention of going anywhere in the immediate future, but by description alone it is clear this is not the place I’m going to retire and grow old in. There will be at least one more move in my future (and if my track record is anything to go by, probably several). But that doesn’t matter. If anything, it adds to the comfort of living here.

Besides, what better way to end Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore than with a story that is obviously not any kind of end at all?

59) 2013-2014. Smith Street, Thornbury VIC 3071

Moving house as the result of a break up was another first for me. The move to Smith Street happened in a blur of heartbreak, panic and a very real struggle with the “fight or flight” response. Considering that, it’s a wonder I found a place I liked as much as I did. I mean, during that first week I was barely in a position to get up off the floor, let alone look for a place to live: you could have advertised a cardboard box with “THERE ARE NO PAINFUL MEMORIES HERE” written on it and I would have submitted an application to live in it.

All I knew was that I need to live alone. I did not want to inflict my emotional state on anybody else, and besides: it had been nine years since my last solo dwelling, and I was ready to try it again. It was absolutely the right choice.


The Thornbury Crap Museum (I was top right corner): It might not look like much, but to me it was a glorious haven I will always remember fondly.

That said, it was kind of a dump. The kitchen consisted of four different design patterns: the linoleum tiles, the contact on the cupboards, the contact behind the cupboards, and the splashback tiles were all different, and not a single one complemented the other. Nor did a single one of those things complement the rich maroon of the windowsills, so really the whole room was like some kind of complicated eye test you could only hope to fail.

Things didn’t get any better in the bathroom. The water pressure in the shower was comparable with being piddled on by an excited puppy. The only difference between the two is that puppy piddle doesn’t come out the temperature of lava. The only way the hot water could be adjusted was by touching the cold water tap: literally  only touching, like opening an app on a phone, because any greater movement and the water would go ice cold immediately.

Half of the light switches had been pushed inside the switch panel, meaning I tended to use my own lamps, because sticking my finger into a hole in the wall didn’t seem like the safest way to make lights go on.

I also had a weird neighbour who kept a folding chair in a comfortable corner on the far right side of the balcony. The thing is, said comfortable corner was nowhere near his door, but rather very close to both my door and the access point for all the upstairs apartments. This made it weird when he sat there, which he did a lot. Every time I came home, even before I made it to the top of the stairs to my front door, I could feel I was being watched. I started to feel like Atreyu at the Southern Oracle; this neighbour became known as The Sphinx.


Admittedly, neither the breasts nor the wings of my neighbour were this majestic.

During the warmer months he was there day and night. He would either be reading the paper, or smoking what I can only assume were metre-long joints, judging from all the smoke that wafted in through my lounge room window. Yeah, on top of being a self-appointed weirdo sentry guard for the building, he also hotboxed my apartment for the entire summer.

Not that the flat needed his help being a hotbox: it retained heat like a motherfucker. During the week-long heatwave in January 2014, I discovered it was possible to reduce peanut butter to the consistency of gravy; a discovery as surprising as it was delicious.

So the light switches, the water pressure, the decor, the neighbours and the insulation were all bollocks. And this whole hot mess of bollocks was located twenty metres away from a train line. Sure, this was super convenient for public transport, but the trains crossed each other right outside my flat, and they always, always, always honked hello at each other as they passed. I mean, I was happy they had such a supportive camaraderie in their workplace, but shit.

train in the rain

I took this from my kitchen window. Note the passing train, and my proximity to same.

So yeah, it was a dump. But it was my dump. And just like all my dumps,  it was very satisfying. It didn’t matter that the place was falling apart; hell, I was so close to falling apart, we made an excellent matching set.

And it helped. Having the Thornbury Crap Museum as a sanctuary meant I didn’t let things overwhelm me at work. I resisted the urge to give up on this project and instead I kept writing the stories. I even started doing more theatre. If I’d been falling apart at the beginning, I eventually started putting myself back together.

So why am I not still there in that clearly wizard-like ramshackle cave? Well, there are some people who just shouldn’t live on their own for too long. I didn’t think I was one of those people; I thought I had a disposition that was more than suitable to long-term solitude. But around about the time I found myself trying to use a broadsword to dispose of the spider I’d killed because I didn’t want to get any closer to touching it than I absolutely had to…


Get off your eight knees, you tiny fuck, I’m not trying to knight you. Oh okay fine I DUB THEE SIR LEGSALOT NOW GET THE FUCK IN MY BIN

…was the time I started to realise that maybe I don’t do well without adult human company.

58) 2012-2013. Barkly Street, Carlton VIC 3053

I left Brunswick after 17 months to do two things I’d never done before: 1) live in Carlton 2) with a boyfriend. Tom. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT. I know. It had only taken nearly ten years.


Cute as a button, right? A cold, brown, weirdly squished button.

The little house in Carlton was perfect for Tom and me. It had a private courtyard, high ceilings, a huge bay window at the front, and an archway at the entrance FILLED with dicks.

wang manor

I meeeeeeean…

We did not notice this when we inspected the property. It was not weighing on our minds when we filled out the application. Nobody mentioned it to us when we signed the lease and picked up the keys. But on the day we moved in, after we’d already moved our third truckload of furniture into the house, our friend Matt, who was helping us move, looked up and immediately exclaimed “HAHA, COCKS.”

And lo, Wang Manor (name #1) was born.

Here’s the thing: the idea for Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore came to life while I was living at Pottery Court, and there were still only 57 addresses. Back at that early stage I had no idea how I was going to finish it. But then I moved to Buckingham Phallus (name #2), and I realised I had the perfect, traditional happy ending: I’d stopped the sharehousing merry-go-round, and I lived in a little home with my partner. Everything was aces, and that’s how I was going to end it: I was chuffed as fuck and twice as smug.

So why would this blog be advertising sixty houses when clearly this is the happy ending and I’ve lived here in fairytale bliss ever since? Let me answer that question with a question: Is this your FIRST time reading this blog? Of course I moved again. Of course everything went sadly, heartbreakingly tits-up. Of course it did.

Ah, breaking up in the digital age: when even your saddest day gets a filtered Instagram photo at the intersection of “brittle” and “twee”. Millennials, am I right?

All the other sad stories in this blog have had, with the benefit of time, an emotional moat built around them. I can tell them in gloriously morbid detail without so much as a twinge. Not so this story: it hinges on something I still find quite sad. However, I am determined not to fall down a sinkhole of blues-heavy navel-gazing, nor do I want to focus on what led, once again, to me moving house because ughhhhhhh I’m not Nicholas Sparks. So I’m going to tell a happy story from my time at the Bitz-Carlton (name #3).

LUCKILY, my clearest memory is also the best. It’s about an activity we invented called “Rubenising”, borne of a habit we got into during the colder months (which, in the Taj Mahard-on [name #4] was all of them).

The bathroom at 10-inch Downing St (name #5) was small and oddly shaped. As a pair of gentlemen who were medium and oddly shaped, this made drying ourselves upon getting out of the shower a challenge. Perhaps the first solution would have been to shower separately, but shut up: it felt romantic. (Also our hot water system was the size of a Thermos, but mostly the romantic thing.)

Eventually we got into the habit of one person dashing to the bedroom, which required running past the gas heater installed in the the converted fireplace. Eventually one of us had the stroke of genius to just stop at the heater and turn it on. And so began a new ritual.

After we showered, we would race to the heater, and dry ourselves there, letting the heat assist the process. Over time, “vigorously drying ourselves in front of the heater” became “half-heartedly drying ourselves in front of the heater”. This in turn became “standing in front of the heater hardly moving at all” and eventually we gave up the pretence of even attempting to dry ourselves: we would simply lay out our towels on the carpet and lie on top of them, butt naked, and let the heater do our drying and warming for us. We became so reliant on this process we started factoring it into our “getting ready” time when we had to leave the house.

On one occasion Tom used the adjective “Rubenesque” to describe our nude, wet resplendence, which led to the verb “Rubenising”. This, in turn, led to the rule that you weren’t allowed to Rubenise unless you sang “Rubeniser, Rubeniser, Rubeniser” while you did it. Was there a melody to this song? OF COURSE THERE WAS.

I will always be a little bit sad that I had to leave The Hanging Gardens of Grab-a-schlong (name #6); not least of all for the reason I had to leave. But the time I spent there was pure joy from start to (just before the) finish, and I’m choosing to focus on that.

And while I was, for a long time, disappointed that I didn’t have the neat ending for this series of stories that I wanted—so much so that I did, for longer than I’m willing to admit, give up the idea of writing them altogether—I did learn a valuable lesson. Simply: you’re never at the end.

57) 2010-2012. Pottery Court, Brunswick VIC 3056

After six months of living with milk crate furniture and a park bench couch, I decided it was time to live like a grown up again, and I moved in with my friend Steve into an apartment in a reconditioned factory in Brunswick called The Brickworks.


One assumes “Brick And Also Corrugated Iron Works” wasn’t nearly as catchy.

None of the furniture in our apartment had at any time been used to freight goods, so it was a definite improvement. And between the two of us we had an improbably high number of games consoles, so I called the apartment as The Arcade. This name didn’t catch on with quite the same ferocity that The Ponderosa did, but it’s still how I remember the place.


Yes that is a 45 degree angle balcony. The apartment was made up of many of these non-perpendicular corners. It made for a quirky space, but it was a pain in the dick for trying to find a decent patch of wall to place a bookshelf.

It was while living in this apartment that a 19 year saga finally came to an end; a saga that started in 1993 when I face-planted into a catamaran on a six-lane road. But before things got better, they had to get worse.

It started one October morning in 2011, when I woke up and could immediately taste blood. My first thought was that I’d done something horrible in my sleep: As a child I had sleepwalked, sleep-talked, sleep-fed-the-cat and sleep-peed-in-the-linen-cupboard, so it wasn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility to consider I’d taken up sleep…vampiring. However, a quick scan of my bedroom showed no signs of murder, so it was looking more like the blood I could taste was probably my own. This was hardly comforting.

By mid-morning, after brushing my teeth ninety-seven times, nothing had changed and it was time for an emergency dash to the first dentist that would take me. One quick X-ray later, and the dentist had discovered the root (pun intended) of my problems. Want to see? Well you can’t, as their email was on the blink, so I couldn’t get a copy myself. But I did fire up MS Paint to draw a facsimile based on the description the dentist gave me:

mouth scan

I don’t know which is more terrifying: the dental trauma I was enduring, or the fact that a man in his 30s still uses MS Paint to make pictures.

That was the state of my mouth.

So, why the blood? Well, the two wisdom teeth that were head-butting couldn’t move, but they wanted to, so there was a lot of undetectable jiggling. The disturbance was keeping all the gum above it nice and soft and susceptible to infection. Which, I’m told, I’d had non-stop for who knows how long. It seems my healthy immune system had kept actual infection symptoms at bay, but the bleeding and mild swelling were signs that stuff was going on down there that I had been unaware of for years.

The dentist went on to explain that the two buried wisdom teeth needed to come out, but were far too deep for him to do in his clinic: I had to go in for surgery. He strongly recommended—in a terrifyingly serious, dour, dentisty manner—that if I was going to have the trauma of going under general anaesthetic and having my head yanked apart like a victim in a Saw film ANYWAY, I may as well get all those rogue wisdom teeth (and the shy adult canine) removed at the same time. Having 6+ teeth removed might seem extreme, but he reasoned that there was no need to have my mouth prised open with a car jack more than once.

He also reasoned that the expense of the surgery would be pointless if I didn’t fix up the whole business with the hit-by-a-boat-on-dry-land induced gap in my teeth while I was at it. By this stage the dental plate I’d been using was 17 years old (which even grosses me out to think about and I was the one wearing it). The dentist recommended a bridge, which would cost me in the vicinity of $15,000.

So, let my mouth destroy itself or plummet into considerable debt? One option would most likely prevent me from being able to eat food, the other would prevent me from being able to buy it. But I was still super jumpy from the time I lost the plate in my sleep, so despite never knowing in a million years how I would afford it, I spent the subsequent few months preparing and applying for loans.


Fast forward to January 10, 2012, the day of the surgery. My mother had flown down from Queensland to look after me during the surgery recovery. The last of the pre-surgery fillings (and there had been maaaaany) had been completed. Every last divot in my teeth had been filled in, up to and including the divots made by the wires of my old false-teeth plate, which now no longer fit in my mouth. The solution to this was to simply cut the wires off, meaning I spent one very unsettled week with no way of holding the plate in my mouth besides the awesome adhesive power of my own spit. “I hope you already cover your mouth when you sneeze, and if you don’t you’d better start” was my dentist’s advice.

At 12:15pm we drove to the hospital where my surgery would be taking place. Not dissimilar to a Big Brother housemate, I had to sign a thousand forms, give up my electronic devices and put on an outfit that revealed far too much skin. A big patch was stuck to the back of my hand to relax me (pretty sure I was more relaxed before a giant, squidgy bandaid I wasn’t allowed to touch was affixed to me), and then my blood pressure was taken (causing my blood pressure to IMMEDIATELY skyrocket because I hate not acing every test I take). We then waited for just long enough for me to feel incredibly self-conscious in my hospital-issued ensemble of dressing gown, shower cap (head) and shower caps (feet): so about six minutes.

Nothing calms the nerve before surgery quite like being patched, tagged, stripped and then paper-bootied.

Upon having my name called, I was swept into a room that felt just a bit too big, helped up onto a bed that felt just a bit too high, and set upon by three or four nurses who seemed to be moving just a little bit too quickly.

“Okay, almost ready to start,” said my extraordinarily carefree surgeon, who was so fancy his official title had gone way past “doctor” and all the way back around to “mister” again, “Time to get those wizzies out.” I tried not to think about the fact that I was having surgery performed on me by a man who said “wizzies” instead of “wisdom teeth” and wasn’t called “doctor”. He stuck a syringe into the drip to which I was already attached. “This is going to make you feel like you’ve had three or four bourbon & Cokes. Then we’ll see how we go from there.”

I didn’t even have a chance to ask whether he could make it three or four Malibu & Cokes before I was out.


Several hours, or maybe three seconds, or possibly three thousand years later, I woke up. I woke up with no real recollection of what I was waking up from. Unlike waking from sleep, where the brain kicks into action and eventually tells the eyes to open, my eyes opened themselves while my brain struggled to catch up. And it didn’t catch up well. I felt like the whale in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, just suddenly being an entity and trying to figure out how that works:

“I…what? Wait. Good morning, I guess? It is daytime. What is daytime? Who am I? Pass. Where am I? I am in bed. Mum is here. What is ‘Mum’? Oh, Mum is that person who is your mum. I have a mum. Why is Mum here? She lives in Toowoomba. Am I in Toowoomba? What is Toowoomba? What time is it? What is time? Am I late for work? Do I work in Toowoomba now? Fuck, I hope not. Wow, that’s a strong feeling to have about a place I can’t remember. Wait, this doesn’t feel like my bed. Am I in someone else’s bed? And if I was in someone else’s bed that brings me back to one of my earlier questions: why is Mum here?” 

This continued for some time.

A nurse walked into view and, seeing me awake, asked if I wanted to drink something. The second she said it, it was all I had ever wanted in my life. Every moment of my thirty-one years on Earth so far had been leading to this point, where I would get to drink something. I was suddenly very aware of the space between my eyeballs and my neck: what were once cheeks, a mouth and a chin was now a lumpy, dry, misshapen slab of concrete. And I was the thirstiest thing to have ever had a thirst in the history of things that get thirsty.

I get handed what seems like a paper thimble with about seven drops of water in it, and a straw. I put the straw in my mouth, and nothing happens. I realise the straw is actually four inches to the right of my mouth. I get the straw into my mouth, and still nothing happens. I’ve forgotten how to work a straw. I fling the straw aside and drink out of the paper thimble. No part of my head moves in response to my brain’s “drink this water” command, and half a cup of water splashes over my closed mouth and down my front. Mum retrieves the straw and I try again. With agonising slowness, like a farm tractor being started after fifteen years rusting in a paddock, my facial muscles grind and pull and shriek and contort themselves in such a way that a tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny sip of water makes its way into my mouth, and it is the happiest I have ever been in my life.

After re-learning how to activate the parts of my face generally required for survival, I was upgraded from a paper cup filled with water to a metal cup filled with jelly.


I was BARELY ready for that jelly. Cute headband though, y/n?

After what felt like not nearly enough time, we were allowed to go home, but not before we stopped off to pick up a) the variety of painkillers I had been prescribed, and b) every custard, jelly, and ice cream I could find, in the hope of sliding them all down my almost entirely unresponsive gullet.

This, it turned out, was a mistake. Why? Because I entirely forgot about actual food. Nutrients. Soups, mashed vegetables, pureed things. Six days of Yogo, ice cream and jelly added to a body that was already suffering from some pretty harsh transgressions (stress, anaesthesia, painkillers, half a dozen people violently plucking teeth from one end of it) causes some pretty disastrous results. Well, one pretty disastrous result: barfing.

And barfing.

And barfing.

And more barfing.

This is followed by a one-two punch of sobbing and whimpering, which is in turn followed by a bit more barfing.

Do you know how hard it is to barf through a swollen head full of stitches? Imagine one of those ready-to-bake roast lambs you buy from Coles, already trussed up in a tight little ball. Now imagine jamming a hose into one end and turning it on until water comes out the other end. It’s like that, only it hurts. And then there’s the aforementioned sobbing and whimpering.

FUN FACT: I had been dating someone for barely two months when this happened, and he graciously came to look after me. We are no longer together, and when I stop to wonder what went wrong between us, I am reminded that he met my mother AND watched me cry AND watched me barf AND watched me do both at once in only our seventh week of dating. That probably didn’t help.

I’m going to do us all a favour now and skip ahead to the part after the stitches dissolved, the swelling went down and I was able to chew again.


It is May of 2012. Four and a half months have passed since the surgery, and I have had many trips to the dentist to get fitted for my brand new porcelain (yes, like what toilets are made from) bridge. No more plastic, no more wires, no more ill-fitting denture that is able to be sneezed out of my mouth.


I swear it wasn’t actually that discoloured: this photo predates Instagram. It was taken with an app that added its own filters willy-nilly, and it clearly settled on “Dental Dystopia” for this one. But it’s the only photo I was ever willing to take of the stupid fucking thing, so it’s what you’re stuck with.

I finally had, for the first time, adult, human-shaped teeth.


I realise this photo isn’t as mindblowing to everyone else as it is to me, because I spent so long masking my teeth in photos, or smiling in a way that didn’t show the full extent of the damage, that evidence I ever had a problem at all is hard to find these days. But this is one of my favourite photos in the world.

For nineteen years I had that horrible old plate, and it completely defined my self-esteem for that whole time. So much of my identity was wrapped up in that little piece of plastic that acted as a mask for all of my formative years: covering the secret, disgusting hole in my face that I kept hidden from everyone. To be rid of it is to experience a freedom I wasn’t aware was even possible. To not be constantly reminded of a secret shame that sat in plain sight is worth every cent of the $15,000 I had to borrow to pay for it, and I don’t begrudge a single repayment because of how much lighter my soul feels.

JK I totally begrudge it, paying for things sucks.

56) 2010. Brunswick Road, Brunswick East VIC 3057

While I enjoyed living in Canberra, and I loved living at the Ponderosa, I’d had my eye on Melbourne since the first time I visited in 2005. So convinced was I that the move to Melbourne was an inevitability, in January 2010 I pre-emptively started dating someone who lived there. My confidence in that particular relationship may have been misplaced, but my confidence in getting to Melbourne was not: in March 2010, I accepted a job in Melbourne and relocated for real.

For the first time in a long time, I was genuinely terrified of moving. Having rubberbanded back to Canberra once after failing so badly at being a Sydneysider, I was worried about history repeating. On several occasions I considered cancelling the move altogether, having almost convinced myself that I wasn’t capable of moving away from Canberra ever again.

Luckily, some stuff happened that helped give me the boost I needed to start my new adventure.

First of all, I got fired. Specifically, I got fired after I’d already tendered my resignation. That’s how badly they didn’t want me around: they already knew I was leaving within weeks, but decided they just couldn’t wait that long.

See, I’d become kind of a pill. And by “pill” I mean “jerk” and by “jerk” I mean “cunt”. I’d been employed at the radio station in four separate positions by this point: They’d kept me on staff in 2007 when my breakfast show ended (even though it would have been easier to let me go), they’d rehired me in 2008 after the Sydney disaster (even though it would have been easier to say “yeah, nah”), and they kept promoting me internally, allowing me to to hop from department to department. So by 2010 I thought I was King Shit. Untouchable. I stomped about the place like Sookie Stackhouse: shouting and bossing and making demands with zero regard for my own safety, and never once considering even the remotest possibility that people might be sick of me.


And, just like Sookie, my blood smells inexplicably delicious and also I am part fairy.

This is why, the day after I’d handed in my resignation, I had no qualms about starting a shouting, stand-up fight with a coworker in the middle of the open plan sales floor. A week later, I spent an entire day in a terribly foul mood, writing and sending venomous emails to several different coworkers about Ways They Were Making My Job More Difficult. (That little boy who corrected everyone else’s first grade writing assignments was rearing his snotty, precocious head once more.)

The morning after that, I got into a spat with, of all people, the general manager. It was over something ridiculously trivial, but it ended with me hissing at him “Well you must think I’m a reeeeeeal arsehole, huh?”, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t find myself in the boardroom twenty minutes later being told I had an hour to quietly remove myself from the premises.


This is the photo I petulantly posted to Facebook the day I was fired: the box containing the sum total of my office/desk belongings. Looking at it now, I can’t believe they didn’t take me more seriously.

“That’s okay,” you might think. “That just means more time at home to pack and organise for the move?” Well, yes, that was true for the first four days. But on the fifth day I woke up to find we’d been burgled. Half our worldly possessions, including a set of house keys and Zak’s car, had been stolen.

“That’s okay,” you might think. “That just means less stuff for you to pack?” and sure, okay, let’s go with that, you weirdo. But what kind of silver fucking lining do you have for  three days later when one of my fillings just fell out of my mouth? I mean sure, I hadn’t had the best track record with teeth so far; I shouldn’t have been surprised. But COME ON.

Those last six weeks in Canberra were a tremendously painful and upsetting six weeks. But, weirdly, they were such a gift. Because they made me want to leave so badly. The fear of what was to come was nothing compared to the agony of what I was leaving behind. And I’d burnt my bridges at the radio station so tremendously that I knew I couldn’t come back even if I wanted to. My safety net was gone; I had no choice but to stay on the tightrope.

And so, in March 2010, I left for Melbourne. It’s one of the best changes I’ve ever made. I love Melbourne, and as long as I live in Australia I don’t want to be anywhere else.

That’s not to say I got off to the best start. My first Melbourne home was a sharehouse with two 20 year olds who still thought milk crates were furniture. That was quite a rapid descent from the four bedroom, two lounge room, solar-heated pool glory of The Ponderosa.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 4.58.53 pm

And it was a three storey joint so that’s, like, a LOT of milk crates.

Also, my bedroom had a tiled floor, and because my bed was on castors, every time I rolled over in my sleep, had sex or even sneezed in it, I’d roll around the floor like a very specific pinball machine. But my bedroom needed to be tiled because in one corner of the bedroom there was a shower. No, not an en suite, just a shower. It was exactly like a built-in wardrobe, only instead of shelves and drawers there were taps and a plughole and the niggling suspicion that this room had been designed by a serial killer. I’m not saying it wasn’t super convenient, but it was exceptionally odd.

Which segues perfectly into my first Melbourne job.

You know when you call a company, and that company puts you on hold, and in between the vague, generic music there’s some manner of recorded message from the company offering a product or advising you of some arm of the company you hadn’t previously heard of? Yeah. I wrote those for a living for eleven months.

new office

I put that box of shit to good use: decorating the new office exactly like the old one (though I had eaten the Pop Tarts by that point). I can’t believe they didn’t take me more seriously.

The company that provided these messages was run by some pretty dedicated oddballs. They were the only small business owners I know of that did the kind of “Christmas bonus” thing you see on TV. On the last day of work for the year, you were handed a generic Christmas card; inside the card was a pile of cash that reflected how they felt about your performance over the previous twelve months. Through office gossip I found out the most anyone had ever received was $1000. I found $700 in mine, and was speechless with emotion. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d done to cause $300 worth of disappointment. Was it one big $300 clanger that I’d done one time? Had I cost them a client? Or was it a tiny one dollar infraction that I did every day, like using too much milk when I made my coffee in the office kitchen?

I make fun, but they were a team very dedicated to their work. In fact, they were so dedicated, they could never find enough free time to schedule new photography sessions for the website’s staff headshots. Instead, they got into the slightly disturbing habit of simply taking a snap of any new staff members, and photoshopping their head onto the body of a departed staff member. On one occasion, someone had their head put on the body of a person who had actually departed. Like, departed the mortal plane.

I am so glad I arrived in time for the first fresh batch of headshots in ten years, and I do not want to know who they put on my body after I quit.