Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sofa, so good. New developments in the ongoing saga of my living room, which I'm sure everyone around me finds exactly as absorbing a project as I do! Well, from eBay I obtained a flokati rug (which I refer to as my fuckari rug) with which I am very pleased, except that Graham likes to attack it as if it were a hostile cat. He also tracks bits of dead leaves across it because they get stuck in his fur when he explores the garden.

Also, last weekend when I was hungover, I wandered into a furniture shop on Brunswick St and spotted possibly my ideal sofa!

It's hard to see in the pic, but it has the coveted peg-like legs, tufted back and thin armrests. This is a 3.5-seater, which basically means you can fit four people on it if they snuggle up. Let's compare it to the Ikea Karlstad, which is the other sofa I've been considering:

The Karlstad has a higher back, is only a three-seater and has those ugly legs. I could always get the aluminium legs and spray-paint them gold to match my coffee table, or perhaps even the same colour as the sofa.

But the big difference is price: if I were to get the first sofa, it would cost me around $3000 in fabric and $5000 in leather. The Ikea sofa in leather (the fabric version isn't tufted) would cost $1900.

To be honest, I don't have five grand – or even three grand – to spend on a sofa, but I allowed the saleswoman at the furniture store to talk me into borrowing some fabric swatches so that I could see which ones matched my current living room. Graham was keen to test them out:

I am anxious about buying a leather sofa since I own a cat; also, Tash said that leather would be hot and sticky to sit on in summer. The furniture shop lady advocated a tight-woven fabric that it's hard for cats to get their claws into; that or a velvet or chenille so the cat only claws the top layer.

I have always imagined my dream sofa in white or a pale cream colour; this is still my favourite as my living room isn't big and I think a pale-coloured sofa will make it look bigger, but it is not especially practical. Still, what are my other options? One of the fabric swatches is a red that matches my velvet chair, but would it be too overpowering and boudoir-esque to walk into a small living room to see this red sofa? I can't have a grey as this would clash with the brass coffee table, and I find the warmer neutral shades boring.

In other living room developments, my indoor plants are slowly coming along, stymied only by my cheapness in buying little plants rather than large ones, and the stubborn refusal of the plants in question to grow as fast as I'd like. Perhaps I should invest in some larger pots. One of my plants is a ficus that seems to want to be a climber; I was at Cavallero last week and they have the same plant in the back courtyard as a wall-covering. Ideally I would like to train my ficus over a frame so it turns into a kind of indoor topiary.

Ahhh, it feels so good to get my bourgie home decorating ideas down in pixels! This self-absorbed stuff is truly what blogging is for.

Hilarious Nick Stahl update! Ever since I posted about Nick Stahl, I've had heaps and heaps of Google searches for him bringing people to my blog. Just the other day I had a revelatory comment from Sara, who found my post:
"when I was looking for a picture of nick stahl in order to prove that alexander siddig is the muslin version of nick… I saw Alexander in an old episode of spooks/MI 5 - so I don't know that he is currently working but your comment made me laugh."
So I have looked for pics of Alexander Siddig and SARA IS COMPLETELY RIGHT!! It is uncanny! He is the Nick Stahl from another mother!

I actually recognise him – and this is pretty embarrassing – as Dr Julian Bashir in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which I watched on TV for a while when I was in withdrawal from Star Trek: Voyager, which remains my favourite TV iteration of Star Trek.

Since then he seems to have become pigeonholed in dignified, elegant Islamic roles, although he did play the British prime minister in the schlocky futuristic thriller Doomsday.

The proportions of his face are very similar to Nick Stahl's, and while nobody could have eyes as freakishly wide-set as Stahl (although of course I welcome random commenters to tell me otherwise!), Siddig's have the same shadowed quality as Stahl's. Siddig also has a very similar way of holding his mouth.

Well spotted, Sara! The only trouble is that this doesn't actually make my game of Plausible Family Casting any easier – how could we cast these two together to exploit their resemblance?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The housemate merry-go-round and the importance of home. Well, tonight Dan announced that he is moving out, so I have to get a new housemate by 23 February. (Applications/recommendations to the usual address.) I felt sad and weary at this news; just the other day I'd been walking down my street (I think, getting some milk from the milk bar) feeling happy about how settled my life was.

Even in that moment of happiness I couldn't help feeling melancholy, too, knowing that my feeling of being happy and settled could be disrupted at any time. But I stomped down the feeling because I have talked a lot with my psychologist about enjoying moments for what they are, and recognising and cutting off the rage, unhappiness and paranoia with which I insist on filling them.

But what really got me thinking about the housemate thing was when Jellyfish reacted to my news by saying: "Blimey. Is it just me or has looking for a house/housemate kept you rather busy over the last few years?! Poor Mel."

Recently, Dan asked me how many housemates I've ever had. I actually worked this out about Wetburgh Street; now let me work it out about my current house. In 2005 I moved in with Natalya, Nicolette and Meep the cat; when Nicolette moved out, and then Natalya and Meep, I lived with Tin and Rohan in the infamous "hipster housemate" period of late 2006. Then Carly and James moved in at the start of 2007, and when Carly moved out, Dan moved in. This was in August 2007.

Dan moved out to get a job interstate in January 2008 and his friend Marty moved in. 2008 was a very unhappy time for me and Marty bore the brunt of this, I'm afraid. Mid-2008 James moved out to live with his girlfriend and Dave moved in, inaugurating the new Mezzanine Era and bringing (after several months) Monty the cat. Shortly after Dave moved in, Marty moved out and Dan was welcomed back. In January 2009 Dave and Monty moved out. I missed Monty a lot, so I got Graham. Then Talor moved in. She moved out in July and Paul moved in. Which brings us to now. I have lived with 11 housemates (plus 3 cats) in this house.

Let's face it, everyone I've ever lived with has only seen this house as a temporary stopping place, whereas to me it feels like my destination. This is absurd as I would not want to own this house; it is desperately in need of a facelift at best and a major renovation at worst. Indeed, houses are so absurdly expensive these days that I don't ever see myself owning my own home.

In the back of my head I've always known I won't always live here, but I that hasn't stopped me buying furnishings that fit the awkward living room. I haven't felt so happy with where I live since the Donald Street days.

Perhaps my extended time at Donald Street has spoiled me for other houses; as Sandor indelicately pointed out, people are always nostalgic for their first time. I always seem to return to Donald Street in my dreams and nostalgia seems to be a dominant affective mode for me. Perhaps that's why I cling to 'home' where others forge on to new homes: I'm living my future by remaining determinedly in the present… or trying to reconstruct the past.

Sandor actually emailed me recently to let me know that our former home is up for lease again. Disappointingly, they have turned the front lawn into an arid, tanbark-filled rhombus, and ripped out the rosemary bush in the back courtyard that provided so much seasoning for my housemate Matt's favourite meal, "skillet".

For what they are asking, I would pay roughly $692 per calendar month for a room that cost me $360 per calendar month back in 1998 and had risen to $375 by the time I moved out in 2003. As for "Just a short distance to nearby Brunswick train station", I'll show you this "short distance":

The house is marked with an "A". The actual tram stops I used to use are marked with pink dots, and I have circled "nearby Brunswick train station", which you will note is actually further away than the actual nearest train station, Anstey.

Here are some annotated pics that I pulled off the real estate website, pretty much for my own archival purposes. You, blog readers, are now participating in the Web 2.0 equivalent of a slide night.

This is the view from the spot where we had the dining table to the front door. They've put in a screen door since we lived there, but the little narrow window next to the door is unscreened. Smashing that window was how burglars ransacked the house in 1998. On the left you can see the living room – the curtains are exactly the same – although the spot where we put the couches and my Hammond organ is out of frame. On the far right is the fridge nook.

There was an odd little step just inside the front door which would sometimes trip people up. This was not a design flaw but had deliberately been built in so that if the laundry flooded, water would flow out the front door rather than through the rest of the house.

Here's the kitchen, with the missing fourth wall that enabled us to play our parlour game-cum-reality TV show, What's In The Cupboard, Sandor? At some stage the owners have installed that dinky little add-on bench, which gives much-needed bench space.

A rough sketch of the way I had the furniture in my bedroom. Once the bed, the chest of drawers and the dressing table (not in frame) were in the room, it was pretty cramped and there was only a narrow L-shaped catwalk through the room. I can't think of another furniture configuration that would enable the occupant to open the door of the built-in wardrobe.

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