Every year for the past few years now I’ve watched the end of the year roll around and everyone bemoan it as the worst year ever. I’ve joined in a couple of times, but my life has always been more swings and roundabouts. The last couple of years in particular have been strongly to that theme (2012 hit a crazy high peak when I partied my way out of Brisbane and moved to Hobart, the following couple of years were mixed with good pals and fun times vs broken ankles and call centres) but this year? This year’s come up trumps for me.
I had no idea what this year had in store for me as I came around the bend. I mean, I knew some things. Every year starts with the alcoholic celebration of Ginuary, so I can always confidently lock that away (it makes for a very busy January for me, actually) but 2015 started with friends and fireworks, flings and fancy foods. And then it got even better.
One of the things on my to-do list when I moved to Tasmania was to find a job I was passionate about and excited to do. I did struggle, when I first got here. It remained the only thing I hadn’t been able to tick off in my first two years here—it turns out that in Hobart, who you know will often get you places, and I moved here not knowing anybody. But then in January of this year, a little boutique budget hotel I’d been making heart eyes over since it opened advertised for a new staff member. I had style. I had flair. I was there. That’s how I became a member of Team Alabama. (But really, I submitted a cover letter intended to charm the socks off the manager and then I had an interview with her and then I was there.) February was chaotic as I saw out my notice at the call centre and started training at the Alabama in time to be flying solo behind the counter in March.
The view from reception.
I dropped back from full-time call centre work to my permanent part-time role at the Alabama quite happily, as it coincided with my friend Liv moving in for a few months. Seriously, the stars aligned and said, “Mem, you can survive switching from FT to PT for a couple of months because someone else is going to pay half the rent and utilities you’ve been paying on your own!” Honestly, without Liv moving in, I wouldn’t have felt confident doing that. And without Helen and my mum and a few other friends who demanded that I go for it, I wouldn’t have felt confident even applying for the job. Bless my invaluable support network.
After a couple of golden months of part time work and part time chill, I knew I wasn’t quite going to survive the rest of the time, and Liv wasn’t staying permanently, so the goal of obtaining a second job that I’d also enjoy was quickly becoming a priority (and a challenge). I applied for a few things here and there. I went to a couple of interviews where my heart clearly wasn’t in it and it showed. I’ve never been good at interviewing. But then MONA advertised roles for Dark Mofo, my favourite festival. I told Kel, my boss at the Alabama (and very quickly one of my new favourite people) that she should hopefully expect to have a reference check or two coming her way. She worked her special brand of magic, I interviewed for a Dark Mofo front of house role, and got not only that but the offer of some potential hours in MONA’s front of house team ongoing (and the potential quickly became actual).
Honestly, 2015—you’ve been infused with some kind of juju that I can’t just put down to timing, or luck, or effort.
Working Dark Mofo was a real treat. I fell hard for the festival the first year it was on, so hard that a group of friends from Brisbane came down to enjoy the second year of the festival with me. They came down this year as well (much to my absolute delight) but balancing working at the festival with spending time with pals meant that I was pretty exhausted. That’s actually been the biggest challenge of the second half of the year for me—balancing my work life, my social life and downtime has been a struggle that I think I’m only just now getting the hang of, and allocating enough time for friends and family who visit from interstate is probably my biggest challenge. I keep forgetting how crucial that time with those folks is, and then I feel awful about not spending as much time with them as I possibly can. To Jordan, the feast team, mama, the Perringtons and Fatboy: I’m sorry. I love you. I’ll do better. Welcome to the new years resolution I literally just worked out as I was typing!
Feast Team 2015.
Back to Dark Mofo. The festival was full of running around, stuffing our faces with winter feast food, resetting a hundred mice numerous times only to watch them explode all over the stage to a rapt and awed audience response (and establishing working relationships with my first MONA staff pals through the mice), playing in light beams and holding precious Piccinini babies. Once the festival was over, I stayed in the front of house team, working casually and fitting my availability around my regular Alabama shifts. For a couple of months after Dark Mofo, I kept working at Detached’s The Shadows Calling exhibition featuring Patricia Piccinini and Peter Hennessey works, growing more attached to the weird furry baby (officially known as the Offering) and the other staff working at the exhibition. Most of us started with Dark Mofo so we had our own little Detached crew, nice to have when you start working in a team of over a hundred people!
MY BABY / The Offering, part of The Shadows Calling.
I’ve gotten to know a lot of my MONA teammates over the last six months and so my circle of friends in Hobart (and my Facebook friends list) is steadily expanding. Being an extrovert, this is such a good thing for me, and has certainly added to 2015’s list of many, many positives! From regular pizza dates (holla Local Pizza you my soul pizza) to gallery openings (plug for Visual Bulk) to staff parties (let’s not talk about that one) to serving MONA coworkers drinks at the Alabama, I’m feeling nothing but good vibes.
I had a couple of enforced breaks during the year, the first to Melbourne in April (driven by tickets to see Noel Fielding, enhanced by catching up with mobs of pals, getting my nails did all fancy at Blonde Tiger, eating amazing foods at places like the Town Mouse and Bomba (just to name a couple), and riding trams). In August, I booked a lil solo holiday up at Cradle Mountain, which happened to fall the day after a huge amount of snow did. The break was perfectly timed, as I’d been working myself a little too hard prior to it. I finally ticked the Dove Lake circuit off my to-do list (distressingly beautiful in the snow), and I finally got to properly walk in some big ol’ fresh snow (after missing out on that experience while in Quebec for Christmas 2013 with a broken ankle). White winter holiday of my heart!
May have cried driving through this.
I did some other fun things this year, too. I went to Panama festival with Helen and Kelsey. I spoke on stage, accompanied by other wonderful people telling their own amazing stories, in front of a bunch of people at the Tasmanian Writers and Readers Festival, and my story was broadcast on the radio. I was on the radio a bunch, actually—I’ve learnt that this is just part and parcel of having friends who are radio presenters, but still fun. On the radio I’ve talked about Ginuary, my broken ankle, helping my friend make a music video in beautiful Tassie. I’ve enjoyed Tassie. One night in the middle of winter I went and played in the sea sparkles down at South Arm with Holly, and I won’t forget that hour of giggling any time soon.
My year’s ended exceptionally, too. My sister came down from Sydney to spend her holidays with me (despite me working through most of them, see a couple of paragraphs up for my apology) and thanks to her to-do list I’ve done a couple of things myself in Tasmania I hadn’t yet done. I guess this included hosting my first orphan Christmas (I sent a text message to my mum saying WHY DID YOU NEVER TELL US HOW MUCH CHRISTMAS FOOD COSTS but it was worth it for fond memories, happy faces and leftovers). On the Sunday after Christmas, I drove my sister and I up the east coast to Freycinet National Park, where we did the hike up the mountain/stairs to Wineglass Bay’s lookout. I wouldn’t actually recommend doing this trip in one day, it’s a lot of driving… we were knackered but we survived! Just yesterday we started the day with some zebra feeding at ZooDoo, another place I hadn’t been before. The day prior to that I missed out on what appeared to be an absolutely brilliant day of adventuring around the Tasman Peninsula and swimming with seals, but I didn’t put my hand up for it (I regret this!) and so my sister went on a day I was working. See again my new years resolution for 2016, but at the same time, I gotta earn da moneys in order to do da things…
Tonight, as per Hobart tradition, we are headed up to the Eyrie for drinking, board games and a stellar view of the fireworks. I’ll be surrounded by some of my favourite people, reflecting on the year that was and smiling the whole time. To everyone who has helped this year be my best year ever—whether you know it or not! If we spent time together this year, you absolutely did—thank you. See you real soon, or a little later, but definitely sometime.
Peace out, 2015. You’ll be a very hard one to beat. <3