Sunday, March 2, 2014

Welcome To Wherever You Are

I wrote this post last July and never got around to publishing it, I'm not entirely sure why. I'll follow this up with something else later in the week - I start back at uni again tomorrow, so I should have plenty to talk about by the weekend. 

I like my university campus when classes aren't in session - well, apart from the fact that the main library's opening hours are significantly restricted and my supervisor isn't around. I like walking around all the big beautiful buildings and not having to muscle my way through the throng of students all in a hurry. At certain times of the day you feel like it's all yours and no one else is around, that this place belongs to you. 

I don't know about you, but I rarely feel like I belong. Although it took a while, uni was the first place where I felt like I did. Honours has been difficult, and especially since I carried my work over into this year it can be lonely at times, but my work makes me believe that I am in the right place, my place. 

I keep strange hours, mostly. On the days I go in, I leave the house a little after 5:30am for the walk to catch my bus that takes me into the city. I like the walk in the dark, it means I can sing along to my music without being embarrassed. The bus, when it comes, travels along a very old, ugly road that most people dismiss, but I like passing all the derelict warehouses and shopfronts that seem to have been there forever. There's the section of the road that has nothing but car dealerships, and then the section that seems to have nothing but bridal shops, followed by the section with vinyl stores and pubs and novelty shops owned by those that manage to eke out a living in the inner west. 

The sun is usually rising (at this time of year) just as I get out at the second stop near the uni. I wander over to the cult coffee shop that opens a few minutes before I get there around 6:30am. It's a family business that just lost its founder to a heart attack, and the kids and their mother are still recovering. It's still weird to come in every morning and not see the father at his table that was kept just for him, but his picture is everywhere, if not his booming laugh and friendly presence. His daughter expertly makes my coffee and I have her tell me what she's been up to, which is always more interesting than anything I have to say.

I work in the cafe for an hour or two, usually boosted by at least another coffee and sometimes something off the excellent and cheap menu. (During semester this is mostly where the mentor and I have our chats.) Then I take my work over to my department in a building a few minutes' walk away, where I stay for about six hours, trying to get stuff done. Most of the staff aren't around, but even the ones who are leave me alone in the common room, assuming, I think, that I'm a postgrad student and perfectly entitled to be there. It's quiet and, the real plus, kitchenette adjacent, so I can make ten cups of tea a day and play my music as I write.

At about 3pm I head over to the library, which mostly depresses me these days. It's not because it's an ugly building, but rather that the collection was decimated about two years ago and now the library is less like a library and more like a building that just happens to have a few levels of books. To accompany my book run I switch my iPod back on and climb the stairs to the top level, working my way down as I need. My favourite book run music right now is Foster the People's 2011 record, Torches, which for some reason is perfect for the job. Striding about purposefully, my arms full of books, I then try and figure out how to use the self service machine to get them on loan. It's not unusual for me to set off the alarm as I leave and have to try again, the bastard thing. Still - I'm not as bad as the girl who nicked a bunch of toilet paper rolls from the ladies' and then forgot to borrow her books so she got caught.

After my book run, and after I've done some photocopying and scanning, I emerge from the library to watch the sun setting over the most beautiful building on the campus. It's a perfect view from just outside the library, and one which touches me every time I see it. 

This is my patch, I think. I'm going to be here studying a long while yet, it's a good thing I love it so much. 


  1. What's with uni libraries decimating their collections, eh? At my old uni they've moved much of the books to a warehouse type building and students request to loan them electronically. So much for serendipitous discoveries while browsing the shelves.

    1. I don't know! But as you say, it really takes the vintage shopping experience out of it, doesn't it? That browsing that rewards the devoted searcher.

      This library used to house one of the finest collections in the Southern hemisphere. Sadly no more :(

  2. Nice post!!! I also sing along to my music when nobody is near, that made smile :)

    You leave your house at 5:30am!!! That can't be healthy!! haha I try to get up at 6.45am and I oversleep most of my working days.... xxx


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