I’ve been living in this Burbank house for I don’t know give or take six months now. The first few weeks were a fun adventure, with no blinds, no TV and no internet. So we headed over to Perth for a holiday away from our brand new home. Otherwise I would have used up thousands of dollars on my iPhone which I used as an internet source for feeding my addition to the online multiplayer game League of Legends. I wonder if there is a deliberate irony in the naming of the game as though they had to come up with the most obvious title imaginable – it’s like calling a novel, A novel story or a film, Cinematic Masterpiece. The name alone should have been warning enough for me! At first I was very excited by the idea of a new home. Our previous home was a bit too large, with a backyard we rarely used, and I liked the idea of living in a townhouse, rather than a typical brick veneer or large estate. The small backyard appealed to me and the place seemed spacious and cosy at the same time. The main design flaw I felt was the small size of the lounge room, which disappointed me because, even though I don’t use that room very often, I like the thought that I could accommodate more people there if ever the need arose, or at least stretch out a little more if so desired. As I say, when I first moved in and during the first months of occupation, despite the battle to get an internet service provider (I guess I should not be surprised that the Labor government’s NBN behemoth is not only billions of wasteddollars, but is also a bureaucratic, inefficient operation) and the heat wave during summer that we suffered through with a broken air conditioner and the greenhouse effect of living in a house without blinds, I fell in love with the place, and each new day of our residence, I was filled with a youthful excitement, the childlike feeling akin to receiving a new toy. But just like the suffusing glow of new toy ownership evaporates for the child, so too did the new house feeling disappear, replaced by more complacent feelings and at times outright frustration and anger at the quality of the Burbank construction. Little things started to go wrong, bits falling off here and there, and then I started to get frustrated with the quality of the fixtures and fittings, the design of the bathroom the inadequate heating and cooling and the aftersales service. Many were the times I felt like I wanted to vent my frustration of Facebook about how lousy a builder Burbank was, to complain about all the things that have been unsatisfactory about the house. But then I thought, what good will it do? Firstly, my ten or so Facebook friends are unlikely to stir up a revolution over one whingeing, disgruntled homeowner. Secondly, I have no benchmark by which to compare my concerns. As I’ve never owned a new house before, it may be that, perhaps, the things that have gone wrong here go wrong in many houses. Also, it occurs to me that others may be aware of a fact to which I was oblivious – that Burbank is the McDonald’s of builders anyway and that it would be foolish for me to expect a five course gourmet meal when I enter MacDonald’s to order a burger with fries. (Those who know me may wish to stretch the analogy further, given my penchant for ordering McDonald’s foods, but I would protest by saying that I don’t expect much when I order there, and hence am rarely disappointed.)
For instance, how soon should the concrete in the garage star cracking? I don’t know whether these cracks mean a shoddy job done, as I suspect, or a natural part of the building process. I am assured by others that the cracks appearing in the walls are a typical part of the building process and these happened to all new buildings as they ‘settle’. However Burbank’s after sales service was horribly inadequate compared to the service offered by other builders such as Metricon. The chubby man who came into my home to evaluate it – after three months! – looked like he would have preferred to be anywhere else but where he was. His cursory look over the property was as thorough as a child’s bath, and relied on the checklist I had made of the cracks and problems with the property. He was no doubt in a hurry to get to lunch as the breakfast he had just come from was already fading into obscurity. So this company relies on the homeowner to point out faults rather than checking these with an expert eye. Sure I was able to pick out some of the more obvious cracks but I do work for a living, as the bible instructs me to, and hadn’t had a chance to go thought the whole house looking for cracks, something that I would imagine the rigorous follow up inspection of a trustworthy building company would do. The actual handyman they sent out to fix the problems was in even more of a hurry than the previous guy. Just like the aforementioned, officious, chubby guy inspector, the latter representative refused to take responsibility for the most obvious chips and cracks in the paintwork, which he claimed were as a result of the damage left by the furniture removalists, which I don’t believe is the case, given I only noticed these marks much later. So I am beginning to see that despite outlaying what, for me, was a small fortune for this property, I really have bought a cheeseburger rather than a filet mignon; I have coke to drink rather than Chardonnay. As I reflection on my dissatisfaction with the house, it reminds me of the process of decay all flesh is heir to. Now not only have there been cracks in the wall, some of which the maintenance guy patched up within the two or so minutes he was in our house, but the paint is peeling and chipping in places. The carpet is starting to rise in the corners of the rooms and as I mentioned earlier, there is a series of small cracks in the garage. So life is replete with incompetence and decay. A state of decay is man’s natural state: even the best items constructed by man will contain the seeds of their destruction. Perhaps even amidst the finest workmanship there are elements of man’s incompetence. Who amongst us can say they have done everything brilliantly or excellently? You may note the picture of my ‘office’. When I set this up in the new house I took a picture of the desks to remind myself that there were no excuses for poor productivity. Yet most evenings I have used the office for playing League of Legends, the online multiplayer video game. I justified my gaming on the grounds that each night when I came home to do my work I was too tired to do anything and the gaming would recharge my batteries. Since ditching my Creative Writing Maters course due to the exorbitant cost of the units and my unwillingness to meet this cost, instead of working on my grand narrative, I have been playing League of Legends most nights. The following photos show the Werribee Mansion, one of the settings of the novel I have done so little work on over the past year. To add to the chagrin I feel at my minuscule output as a writer, I read yesterday of a novelist who started out as a casual blogger and who was asked by a leading publisher to write a novel. More heartbreak for me as I read stories like that, especially when I consider the attempts I have made to get published, sending of manuscripts that are returned with a polite but firm refusal. So anyway the point I wanted to make was that this week I uninstalled the game League of Legends. I wasn’t the first time I had uninstalled but I hope to really quit this time. Otherwise I will get nothing done at all. It is my goal to finish this book by the end of the year. I am kind of stuck with it at the moment as I have all the key story elements included but I am well shy of the content required for a full story and the bits are still not that well integrated. Speaking of building, renovating and decay, I was on Twitter this week. I guess with League of Legends uninstalled I had to be doing something. Presumably, Given I am a video gamer, I was sent a link to a Minecraft parody of the song Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus. I tell, you if you love Minecraft or Miley Cyrus, or if you just want to see something creative, you should look at that video. It was exceptionally creative – the music and the animation were first class. Like most males on the planet I was aware that Miley Cyrus created a video clip featuring herself swinging naked from a wrecking ball for this song. Interestingly enough I had actually never heard the song before, despite the obvious enticement of Miley Cyrus swinging naked from a wrecking ball (I can show some restraint), so I went on to iTunes to listen to the actual song for a bit, having heard the parody. What I found interesting was that it’s actually a good song. I even thought of buying it for a moment but the idea of spending $3 on a Miley Cyrus song seemed just plain wrong. I’m not against paying for music but three bucks, seriously! Maybe I’ll download it as a ringtone. I love using ironic ring tones that people don’t expect me to use, featuring songs antithetical to my whole worldview. Anyway, the interesting element about the song – aside from the lingering elements of country music phrasing that have almost faded from her ‘style’, but which made her first hits so appealing – is the content of the lyrics (Sure the melody is catchy too, which doesn’t hurt). The irony is that her film clip has garnered all the attention because of the blatant sexuality and the debate about the morality of the young woman removing her clothes for the sake of selling records. When you listen to the lyrics though it is about getting thought to a man emotionally, something most women could appreciate and understand, and at times, I’m sure they feel they need a wrecking ball to knock down the emotional barrier that men put up to protect their egos. Its chorus also relates the dangers of woman trying too hard to knock down these barriers or ‘walls’ and in the process destroying he relationship that drew them to this man in the first place. So, in trying to improve the emotional connectively with their mate, the woman pictured by this song has made the situation worse than it has been previously. So it is a shame the song has received attention for the video clip alone, rather than the messages it conveys, a message typifying real life relationship problems. Even the symbolism of the wrecking ball, whilst dismissed as a crass stunt, is actually an apt metaphor. Let’s be honest, men only really notice the sexual side of a woman. The overt symbolism of a naked woman swinging in to break down walls is a critique of male sexuality, which is a crude blunt instrument. Sure men notice a woman’s virtue, modesty and charm, but this is often long after they have been won over by her beauty.