​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 88, January 2018

On Sunday night, Mum and I made our way down to Bairnsdale via the Princes Highway. We stopped briefly at the Yarragon Hotel for a meal. I was actually pleasantly surprised at how lovely the hospitality was for a pub with the waitress refilling our glasses of water and asking me if I’d like another beer. I guess that’s pretty much the norm when it comes to the East Gippsland area. Everyone seems to be very laid back and friendly in the community.

We arrived at our motel room around 10pm, staying for two nights at Mitchell on Main right next to KFC on the main street of Bairnsdale. Finding our room and getting the door open were both annoying challenges at that time of night but thankfully the motel did have an emergency contact number that we could ring. The door didn’t seem to budge no matter which way I turned the key.

After a few minutes, the manager came down to help and all we had to do was pull the door towards us to release the seal. So glad that we didn’t have to end up sleeping in our car instead. https://www.mitchellonmain.com.au/

On Monday morning, Mum and I went down to the restaurant for a buffet-styled continental breakfast. They had cereal, toast, fruit, orange juice, tea, coffee and milk all available as well as hot breakfasts that could be purchased separately. The motel managers were both very warm and inviting during our stay there.

Later that morning, we started exploring a few of the attractions in the township. We visited St. Mary’s Church, a towering Romanesque-styled Catholic church build back in 1913. A man named Bruno gave us a brief history and tour of the church, which features painted murals on the ceiling and walls, stained glass windows and statues of Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ.  It felt like I was walking into the Sistine Chapel, looking up at that impressive intricate work. http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/…

In the afternoon, we dropped into Bairnsdale Aquatic & Recreation Centre and had a look around at the pools, gym and group fitness classes they had on offer before having lunch at the Bairnsdale RSL Sub Branch Inc. That night, Mum and I had dinner together at the Mitchell on Main restaurant. I ordered the salt and pepper squid with chips and salad which was really delicious.

On Tuesday morning, we visited the local art gallery, East Gippsland Art Gallery, opposite Coles and next to the old Court House building. Their current exhibition was called the EGAG WRAP 2017 featuring a selection of paintings, drawings and sculptures from artists in the East Gippsland area. They also had a smaller exhibition called “Girls + Cats + Green Shoes” by Rachael Pollac featuring mixed media works of paper cut out characters. https://www.eastgippslandartgallery.org.au/…

Later on, Mum and I had brunch together at the Cells Cafe. This particular cafe has an interesting history as it used to be a former police station. It features striking blue and white decor and logos as well as a large metal cell bar wall. The cafe is run by Noweyung participants who are part of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). The service and food are both excellent. I’d highly recommend going there if you’re ever in the area. https://noweyung.org.au/the-cells-c…

On Thursday morning, I drove down to Carrum Beach to meet up with clients and personal trainers from The Yard Strength & Fitness for a workout session. I’ve driven through Carrum several times before but never really visited there directly. Of course, as I’m quickly learning, parking in one of the bays off Nepean Highway will require buying a parking ticket ($3.50 an hour from yours truly City of Kingston council *kaching kaching*). Luckily I still had some leftover coins from the Alanis concert on Tuesday night so I could cover myself. http://www.melbourneplaygrounds.com.au/…

It was only a small group of us today consisting of Mandi HerauvilleCharlie L Degen, Jo and myself. We all ran/walked/jogged along the beach from the carpark to the concrete barge and back again. As I’m not experienced in running in the sand, I decided to only run some parts of it but I’m glad that I at least made the effort to do it. Later on we had a coffee together at the nearby cafe. https://beachsafe.org.au/beach/vic/…

We had some interesting discussions to say the least about ex-husbands, sex and poo of all things but it made us all laugh which was the main thing. I’m learning to cope better with my social anxiety by practicing present moment awareness or mindfulness meditation. Basically just focusing on the sounds, smells and visual things that I’m experiencing in that moment. Plus I feel comfortable being around these ladies and don’t have to explain why I don’t say much, why I’m introverted, why I’m anxious or anything really. I’m just accepted as I am. https://www.facebook.com/TheYardStr…

On Friday morning (Australia Day), I attended an RPM class at YMCA Casey RACE in Cranbourne East. I was still feeling a bit frazzled and emotional from some things that got posted on social media related to Australia Day and vegans. I got myself really upset and depressed over it when really I shouldn’t care. People are always going to get offended and pissed off no matter what I say or do. That’s life. I can’t please everyone and not everyone is going to like me.

When I got to the RPM cycle studio, I realised that I’d left my drink bottle behind in the fridge at home. “Now what am I gonna do?” I thought. But then I remembered I had some loose change in my coin wallet and so I decided to buy a bottle of water from the cafe. Sadly I was 40 cents short and I felt really annoyed at myself but the lady let me purchase the bottle anyway. I felt so grateful in that moment. I really didn’t want a moment of forgetfulness to ruin my day.

Back in the studio, people were being so nice to me. It was refreshing after the negative barrage of comments I’d endured last night. I was feeling very isolated and rejected like I didn’t have many friends left. But it was time to let all that shit go and focus on the workout. The fitness instructor Damaris who had a cute Russian accent definitely made this morning’s class a lot of fun. We cycled through a mixture of tracks including Bruno Mars’ Treasure, Santana feat. Chad Kroeger’s Into The Night and Real Life’s Send Me An Angel. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

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AN EVENING WITH ALANIS MORISSETTE @ Palais Theatre (St. Kilda), January 2018

“I’ve spent so long firmly looking outside me. I’ve spent so much time living in survival mode. These precious illusions in my head did not let me down when I was a kid. And parting with them is like parting with a childhood best friend.”

It’s not everyday that you get to see your idol and one of your favourite artists growing up play. It’s been almost 20 years since this Canadian-born singer-songwriter has graced our shores and I’ve been waiting that amount of time plus some. Ever since she released her most popular single “Ironic” back in 1995, I was instantly hooked by Alanis’ voice and the complexity of her lyrics. I’ve spent years buying and listening her albums, watching live concerts and interviews, listening to podcasts and getting inspired by her deeply moving and honest prose.

Considering how painfully annoying the public transport system is at the moment with the Level Crossing Removal Works and constant delays, I decided to drive down to the Palais Theatre instead. Of course, being St. Kilda, I’d have to fork out money for a parking meter but honestly this was a once in a lifetime opportunity so I could let it slide. I also wasn’t exactly keen about driving down there as I’m not used to the area plus I’ve only just returned from a couple of days away at Bairnsdale with my Mum.

I decided to take the “scenic route” of driving down to Carrum via Thompsons Road and then travelling along the Nepean Highway into Beach Road and Marine Parade. Thankfully these roads trace the Frankston And Sandringham train lines which is a very useful guide in keeping me on the right track. When it comes to driving in unfamiliar territory, the anxiety levels tend to increase dramatically but I feel like I’m getting better at controlling it now.

Playing a couple of Alanis albums in the car helped a great deal to keep myself calm as did having a hand-drawn map and Google Maps on my phone as backups. There were a couple of times I started to worry that I missed a turn but overall I did really well to get myself to St. Kilda independently. There were also plenty of parking spots along the side of Marine Parade so parking wasn’t an issue at all.

It’s been about 4 years since I’ve been to the Palais Theatre in St. Kilda, as I attended the AQUA Greatest Hits Australian Tour. It was my first time sitting up in the lounge area which features padded cushion seating and a balcony view of the stage below. I love soaking up the interior architecture of the theatre from the art deco-styled dome lighting in the ceiling to Roman columns along the sides. It’s a really beautiful venue.

ANGIE MCMAHON…Opening the night was this Melbourne-based singer-songwriter with a deep husky voice in the vein of Feist or Gabrielle Aplin. She was very humble and honest about her feelings and how nervous was she performing the previous night in front of a similar audience. Her musical styles range from Indie-pop to Folk and Alternative. A very talented young lady. Set list: Soon, Missing Me, The Pasta Song, And I’m A Woman. https://www.angiemcmahon.com/

ALANIS MORISSETTE…There was so much anticipation building for this Canadian-born singer-songwriter to arrive on the stage. It was a very intimate arrangement with two guitarists, a variety of different guitars and Alanis’ trademark harmonica. Alanis was wearing a radiant gold jacket over a black top and leggings.

Even at the age of 43, she is still incredibly gracious, humble, down-to-earth and hasn’t been sucked in by the “fame machine”. It’s something I highly admire about her. There was plenty of people cheering “We love you Alanis” and lots of funny stories told in between songs about how she came up with certain ideas for lyrics and how she regards Canada and Australia to be like sisters.

Her performance was simply spectacular tonight. I was particularly impressed by the subtle ad-libs and changes she made to certain songs in order to make them more relevant and engage with her audience more. Her voice was also really powerful as she managed to hit many of the high notes. Of course most of the setlist focused on her most successful album Jagged Little Pill as a majority of the fans know these songs inside-out. It was great seeing her get the audience involved by getting us to sing along to popular songs like Hand In My Pocket and Ironic.

After a roughly 75 minute set, Alanis ended her concert with Thank U and received a massive standing ovation from the entire theatre. No THANK YOU Alanis for coming back to Australia after 19 years! Set List: You Learn, All I Really Want, Precious Illusions, Hands Clean, Heart of The House, Mary Jane, Uninvited, Guardian, Ironic, Hand In My Pocket, Thank U. https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/…

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MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 87, January 2018

On Monday night, I went to a Restorative yoga class with Keren Gurrieri at Body Yoga in Berwick. Honestly, I was still feeling wrecked and washed out from the UNIFY weekend and very much in “recovery mode”. Hence why this class was exactly what I needed tonight to recharge my energy levels. The poses were all supportive variations with lots of props including serpentine twist, wide legged stretch on the wall, scorpion twist, extended child’s pose and bound ankle pose.

The meditation involved Keren guiding us on a long journey up to a sacred mountain top. It was about letting go of baggage from the past and being able to embrace struggle, frustration and hardships in moving forward towards our goals. Somehow I didn’t doze off even though I could have easily done considering how sleep deprived I was. Hopefully I can make my attendance at yoga classes much more regular this year!

On Tuesday afternoon, Mum and I went for a day trip down to Yarragon which is about an hour’s drive from where I live. It has a very laid-back, old country town vibe about it with many of the weatherboard and red brick buildings remaining in tact. There’s plenty of cafes, gift shops, variety stores, antique shops and local businesses in the main drag of Yarragon. We ended up having lunch together at the Gippsland Food and Wine tearoom and cafe where they make a beautiful Lorraine quiche with chips and salad.

On Tuesday night, I went to my Body Combat class with Cinamon Guerin at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I honestly wasn’t in the greatest mood after a Facebook status on Australia Day blew up in my face. Clearly I couldn’t handle how heated the comments were getting and it really got me down because I’m highly sensitive and can’t handle criticism from others. So I deleted it and switched off my phone for an hour or so. Sometimes a break from social media isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Thankfully the class did take my mind off it so I could put my worries on the back burner. I felt myself struggle a bit during a few tracks but that was reasonable as I haven’t been to a Combat class in a few weeks. Thankfully, Cinamon mixed in a few tracks from older releases that I was familiar with and made it easier to get the combos down. But as always, I walked out feeling sweaty and better for doing it. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/f…

On Thursday morning, I had my first appointment for 2018 with my support worker Ally at Colourfield Cafe Casey Central. We talked about my current goals for the year and how I’ve been coping with work and life in general. At the moment, I’ll be sticking to my group fitness classes at Casey Arc and Casey Race as well as doing yoga classes at Body Yoga and Just Be Yoga and Meditation. Right now, I’m putting personal training sessions on the back burner as I simply can’t afford to do them with paying off my new car being the bigger priority.

I’m doing better when it comes to coping with emotional and stressful situations. Of course, it’s toughest for me during the episode in that my anxiety spikes up and I feel threatened. I’m learning to acknowledge how I’m feeling and trying to accept what happens without judging myself too harshly. But my mind does have a tendency to replay the events over and over again which makes it difficult to let go of but I just have to keep focused on the positives and don’t get caught up in the negatives. Easier said than done but I’ll get there.

On Friday morning, I went down to YMCA Casey RACE for a swim, spa and sauna session. I decided to get there early to avoid the rush and the huge surge in temperature that’s expected to reach a top of 42 degrees today. I don’t really go into the pool that regularly but each time it does get a little easier for me confidence wise. I know that I’m a long way off being a lap swimmer but doesn’t stop me from practicing in the shallow end of the pool. It’s better than doing nothing at all.

So I’ve made some progress in terms of my case with VCAT. It’s now been passed down to the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) to hopefully speed the process along and resolve the issue in mediation. I’m nervous as hell and yet I’m the one in the right here. I think it’s because it’s all new to me and I really don’t know what to expect. But yeah hopefully I end up getting my money back at some point and justice will be served. Never thought I’d be taking someone to a small claims court over essentially fraud and stealing money.

“Finding cracks in our intent. We can’t stop the water from rushing in. We can’t stop the walls collapsing in. The rocks give to rain and to ruin again.”                    Hands Like Houses – Stillwater (2016)

“Faceless, underwater. We can disappear for a while. No one will notice. Shifting, out of focus. The silence calls on us for a moment. Sinking down. Thought I lost myself, but I didn’t. Looking up on us. Shadows dance above. Blurry vision.” Tonight Alive feat. Lynn Gunn – Disappear (2018)

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​UNIFY – A HEAVY MUSIC GATHERING @ Tarwin Lower, January 2018

PRE-UNIFY 2018 RANT

Whilst I’m generally really excited for my first time attending UNIFY this weekend, I do have a few issues about it to get off my chest. I don’t think it’s really fair to rush out all this important information to us within a week of the festival starting. For somebody like me, it’s overwhelming and a lot to absorb all at once. The process of entry through the gates and to the campsite/arena seems to be more complicated than it needs to be and I’m still kinda stressing out about it.

Also charging people for hot showers, the silent disco and chilled/sparkling water seems like a cash grab to me. It’s a bit rich considering we had to fork out $200 for tickets plus travelling costs and our own camping gear. I’m still a bit uncertain about the Unicoin system though I’m trying to be optimistic about it. Hopefully it’ll make paying for things at UNIFY easier but we’ll wait and see.

DAY 1 – FRIDAY JANUARY 12TH, 2018

Four years worth of stress, anxiety, fear and apprehension has lead up to this moment. In all honesty, I never thought I’d actually attend UNIFY back when it first started but several things changed my mind. I’ve been working hard on my personal development in the last year or so which means putting myself out there more, getting out of my comfort zone, improving my self confidence, making and building friendships and doing some YOLO type things. Attending the UNIFY heavy music gathering festival pretty much ticks all those boxes.

The last music festival I attended was the Big Day Out back in 2009 so it’s been almost 10 years since then. Plus that was only one day and didn’t involve camping out with 7500+ other people in the middle of Tarwin Lower. It’s been a daunting prospect for a while now, questioning whether I’d actually be able to cope in this environment. Everything is pretty much new territory for me except for the actual bands I’d be seeing on stage. But despite my doubts and fears, I’d tried hard to remain optimistic about this weekend and for the most part, I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from people who have been to UNIFY before.

Driving down the Bass Coast highway, the long queue of cars began banking up around 3km out of Tarwin Lower. In some ways, it was a relief as I was really exhausted from the drive down and yet it took over an hour of start-stopping just to reach the carpark entry. They had lots of staff directing traffic and stringline pathways set up to get us into the large field parking area.

I decided to buy myself a flat platform trolley to carry all of my gear on from the carpark to the entry gate. Perhaps I went overboard in the packing department but being my first UNIFY, I wanted to be safe and not sorry. Unfortunately, it was such a pain in the ass to maneuver especially when the weather turned and the ground became very wet, muddy and slushy. When I eventually made it to the main entrance, the security guy checking my bags and ID was really rude and cocky. He could tell that I was physically struggling with my load and simply didn’t care.

I made a beeline for the closest free campsite I could find and found quite of a few spaces available a bit further up and to the right of the main entrance. Setting up my own tent brought my back to my Scouting days but with the rain gradually getting more intense, it was a struggle erecting it up. Thankfully a couple of boys passing by offered to help me. Unfortunately, I was camping with strangers but in that moment, I really didn’t care. I just wanted to get myself unpacked and ready to go.

I was really not prepared at all for how soaked, dirty and muddy I got even though I had a puncho on. Thank god I listened to the advice from people who have been to UNIFY before and brought along some baby wipes, tissues and toilet paper. I did my best to clean out the tent and began settling in. I did some wandering around in the afternoon to get my bearings and it took a while for me to figure out where The Arena was located.

I was in for a rude awakening when I saw the massive line leading into The Arena entrance. And this is where my issues with the new Unicoin system begins. On paper, it sounded like a good idea getting people to top up their cash on a wristband and pay for things electronically. But sadly, in my opinion, Unicoin was a UniFAIL. Standing in a huge line just to get your wristband was an absolute joke. I heard that last year’s system was much better and really they should have stuck to it. Posting out the wristbands would have saved people a lot of grief on day one.

Because of the long wait to get your wristbands, I missed pretty much all of the bands playing on Friday. I really wanted to see MirrorsBelle Haven and Polaris but unfortunately that didn’t happen for me. I honestly didn’t have the patience to wait in line so I just did some more wandering instead. I bumped into Matt JonesJoshua CatoNat Renée and Mitch Gibson-Kingdom in my travels to and from my campsite.

I spent the next few hours just hibernating in my tent to protect myself from the howling winds and heavy rainfall. Plus I didn’t really know anyone in my campsite so I decided to keep to myself. The one good thing about being independent is the fact that I’m really resourceful and resilient when I need to be. The fact that I didn’t have a “crew” meant that I had to fend for myself a lot this weekend. But at the same time, it does make me feel socially isolated and lonely. It can be really tough to deal with.

Day 1 at UNIFY was generally a pretty shit experience for me with the physical struggles of getting all my gear from the car to the campsite and setting up my tent in the pouring rain. There were also mental struggles of getting my bearings and adjusting to my environment. I got myself a bit emotional after forgetting my wallet and nearly losing my Photo ID. Luckily I found it in the pocket of my shorts. It took me 6 hours to finally get my wristband. My energy levels were sapped by this point.

My mood definitely improved after bumping into several more friends and band mates including Byron Wandjina Nick DaviesMichael McLarenLachlan HodgeChris GreberUla KayLuke BarrowsAdrian Szostek and Dylan Houston. Certainly one of the best parts about UNIFY is running into people you know and they know you. I only ended up seeing one band on Friday sadly and that was Tonight Alive.

TONIGHT ALIVE                                                                                                      “I’m intoxicated by my depression and I’m consumed by the fear. That I might never find the answer and the end just gets more near…If my body is a temple, Why does it hurt like hell?”

This was my first time seeing this Sydney-based Alternative Melodic Rock band and I was really blown away by their performance. Vocalist Jenna did sound a little hoarse at times but she quickly recovered. Her message about being free-thinking individuals and believing in yourself was really touching and something I connected deeply with.                                                                                       Set List: Lonely Girl, The Edge, World Away, Disappear, Temple, Crack My Heart. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/u…

DAY 2 – SATURDAY JANUARY 13TH, 2018

I woke up to heavy raindrops and a harsh wind blowing into my tent. At least I made sure that it was securely pegged down well into the ground. The last thing I wanted was my tent blowing away. I managed to get a decent amount of sleep too despite all the loud conversations and music blasting nearby my tent. In terms of food, I was in survival mode feasting on my own scraps as I couldn’t really afford to buy any food from the Food Trucks. I did okay though. I brought some nuts, muesli bars, lollies, bananas, apples, cookies and rice crackers.

I was generally feeling a little more optimistic about today though – seeing more bands play, hanging out with more friends. I got up and went for a morning stroll, bumping into Geordie Mate who was queuing up for a free port-o-loo (Damn those portable toilets were so disgusting but when nature calls, you gotta do what you gotta do) and Mikey Moore along the way. And of course, it started to rain again. This is camping festival life and I’m still not used to it. It’s time to brave the weather.

I hung out with a few people in the Circus Bar tent waiting for DREGG’s set to start including Sabian LynchScottie SimpsonMatt McKinnonOllie MidsonNathaniel Smith and Tyson Taifer. It takes a lot of courage to put myself out there socially but I’m proud of myself for doing it.

DREGG                                                                                                                    “A middle class bastard, no car and castle. No help in this world for a mid twenties asshole. The cost of living is way too god damn high to survive. Get back to the grind.”

I haven’t seen these boys play since they dropped The Dregg EP last year. I was actually pretty nervous for them considering it was bucketing down prior to their set but thankfully it did clear up just in time (FUCK THE RAIN!). I was determined to stick their set out. The boys put on a really rowdy, “we don’t give a fuck” performance with a little mosh pit down the front of the stage. I really enjoyed it. Set List: Sorry Daddy, Weirdo, Exploring The Kardashians Through The Universe, Don’t Go Into The Mangroves, Curriculum Critters.  https://dreggmusic.bandcamp.com/alb…

THE BEAUTIFUL MONUMENT                                                                              “You’ll be okay, it’s not alright. What good is this world if there is no fucking light? The one thing I am trusted on, the vessel that is almost gone.”

It’s been a while since I last watched this all female Alternative/Pop-Punk band from Melbourne. I noticed that they had two other guitarists filling in for Shelby Ouston who still must be recovering in hospital. There was also a fill in drummer but I’m not sure what happened to Laura Maccormac. Still the girls put on a great show with a strong stage presence and lots of positive vibes. Set List: Disorder, Manifestation, Hostage. https://tbmofficial.bandcamp.com/al…

The weather has been extremely changeable this weekend from strong gusty winds to light and heavy showers as well as overcast and sunny periods. I really didn’t know what to wear at all but luckily I brought lots of clothes for all seasons just in case. I can never seem to adjust to Melbourne’s weather.

Sometime in the afternoon, my motivation levels were sinking like a stone. I knew that in my heart of hearts that music festival life was simply not for me. I was not cut out for it nor did I fit the mould for it. It was all too much for me I guess. I just couldn’t wait to go home, have a shower, see my parents and my cat Lotus, have a decent meal and fall asleep. But at least I can say that I made the effort to come to my first UNIFY.

Despite all of these feelings that I had inside of me, I was determined to stick out the rest of the festival and check out the bands I really wanted to see – Make Them Suffer and Hands Like Houses. I was NOT gonna go home early.

MAKE THEM SUFFER                                                                                            “Slow it down, just wait. Take some time to question life. While you’re young and learning. Take it slow, just stay. I know it’s hard but moving fast. You’re going to miss the journey.”

I haven’t seen this Perth-based Melodic Deathcore band play since their lineup change mid last year but they still managed to put on a solid performance. Guitarist Jaya Jeffery ended up doing a “shoey” on stage which was pretty funny to watch. Set List: Fireworks, Widower, Ether, Let Me In, Blood Moon. https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/w…

Where I was camping, I just felt so ignored and excluded by my neighbours. It didn’t help that they were strangers to me and I could tell from their conversations that they weren’t the right people for me to mingle with anyway. I wasn’t interested in doing beer bongs or shoeys either. Just isn’t my thing at all. Nor was being loud, obnoxious and disrespectful. I’m different to a lot of people here at UNIFY.

My depressed mood was really dragging me down as I was struggling to connect and fit in with everyone at UNIFY. But thankfully, things improved when I noticed Ben Jones (ex-Scars Have Faded vocalist) in the crowd during the Being As An Ocean set. I was really keen to meet him leading up to this weekend and glad that I had the chance to. It legitimately lifted me up mentally and made me feel better going into the rest of my night.

HANDS LIKE HOUSES                                                                                           “And I feel like I am fighting a lost cause just to be heard I can’t hear from the howling. Drowning every single word. Let me count the ways you kill me, you kill me.”

Hands Like Houses are fast becoming one of my favourite Australian rock bands. Tonight they put on a really amazing performance with multi-coloured strobe lighting, smoke jets and explosions of streamers and confetti into the crowd. They did have a couple of minor feedback issues at the start of their set but mostly it was really tight. Vocalist Trenton Smith spoke about how powerful music is in connecting people together as one and how we can create peace and harmony between us. Set List: Colour Blind, Perspectives, Glasshouse, Introduced Species, A Tale of Outer Suburbia and Drift.  https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/d…

DAY 3 – SUNDAY JANUARY 14TH, 2018

As much as I can’t wait to go home today, I will miss the positive experiences I had here. Seeing some awesome bands play, hanging out with friends, getting out of my comfort zone. Overall, UNIFY 2018 was very much a mixed bag for me and the jury is still out on whether I’ll end up going again next year. It would have to depend on a number of different factors. The band lineup. The many issues that I’ve written about and how things will run for UNIFY 2019. Camping “alone” is not really a fun experience for me either.

I spent the morning packing up my tent and campsite which was what a lot of other people were doing as well. Thankfully, getting all of my gear out of the campsite was much easier than on Friday as I didn’t have to worry about getting my ID out and my bags checked by security. I could take my time in packing everything up and carrying it all back to my car. I saw all the wreckage walking through the campsite. Piles of garbage bags, tents and broken down marques from the huge storm we copped last night. Luckily my tent was able to endure it all and was still standing.

BELLE HAVEN                                                                                                        “Remember when you said pay up, pay up? Pay up, pay up. Well look who’s paying now. How does it feel to be no longer so treasured?. After all, you’re the one who severed the ties.”

I wanted to leave UNIFY 2018 on a high note and so I decided to watch Belle Haven’s acoustic set. It was just David and Chris behind the microphone stands but it was wonderful to hear these stripped back versions of tracks from the “You, Me and Everything In Between” album. The boys also did a lovely cover (complete with technical issues of course!) of Paramore’s Decode featuring Bri Marsh (vocalist of Future Static). Set List: Selfmade, You, Little Polaroid Boy, The Carving Knife. https://bellehaven.bandcamp.com/rel…

THE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Seeing some of my favourite bands play at an outdoor music festival
  • The experience of camping by myself in nature
  • Bumping into lots of friends and meeting new people
  • Getting out of my comfort zone and sticking out my first UNIFY despite all of the challenges I had to face
  • The funny costumes people were wearing (animal heads, onesies, Hawaiian shirts)
  • Random gang sing-a-longs walking from the campsite to The Arena
  • The pretty carnival-esque lighting the lit up the camping grounds

THE LOWLIGHTS

  • The weather (rain, wind, sun, repeat)
  • The struggle of setting up my campsite in the rain and carrying gear
  • Putting up with some loud, annoying, immature, vulgar neighbours
  • The unicoin (uniFAIL) system
  • The constant queues (toilets, unicoin top up, The Arena)
  • How disgusting the port-o-loos were (That pungent smell of urine, manure and mud. Eww!)
  • Dealing with the mud, cow manure, dirt and insects
  • Feeling lonely, anxious, depressed and socially isolated at times

POST-UNIFY 2018 RANT

The Unicoin system was a major flop due to the hassle of queuing up to get your wristband and then queuing up again to top it up. Wristbands and tickets should have been posted out as per previous years. Please do not do this again!

There should be clearer signage especially for people like me who have never been to UNIFY before. I really struggled to get my bearings when I first got there and had to keep wandering to figure out where I was going. I also didn’t know where to get any spare ponchos, garbage bags, paper towels, toilet paper etc.

UNIFY should provide a more extensive list of what things we should bring. Whilst I did rely on a lot of friends about this matter, there was always something that I was going to forget. Things like gumboots, umbrellas, raincoats etc. Also I feel like they should have provided more sheltered areas in the Arena as it turned me off from seeing many bands this weekend.

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 86, January 2018

On Monday morning, I went to a Body Pump class with Louise at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. I’ve been meaning to go to a Pump class for over a month but of course life and Christmas got in the way but today I had no more excuses left. I was really feeling a bit out of my depth seeing as it’s been a while since I’ve done any sort of strength training so I gave myself permission to start slow and work my way back up again. The songs on this release were awesome. They included Novaspace’s Run To You, Gwen Stefani’s What You Waiting For? and Christina Aguilera’s Car Wash.

Louise was doing some terrible singing which really lightened the mood and made the class more fun. I really struggled with the back squats and lunges especially but I was determined to push through the burn and the pain of the muscle soreness. And then doing dreaded push ups on the mat. My body was clearly not used to do them but I smashed them out like a champ. Whilst I do find Pump classes to be a struggle at times, they’re not impossible and it’s good to find some form of fitness that you find a little bit challenging. https://www.lesmills.com.au/bodypum…

On Monday afternoon, I headed off to the RACV Inverloch Resort along the South Gippsland highway which turns into the Bass Coast highway. It was a boring, monotonous drive for the most part with only the townships of Kilcunda and Wonthaggi providing some visual interest to the drive. My parents will be staying here for the whole week whilst I’ll only be here for a couple of nights as I’ve got plans on Thursday and Friday.

Like the resort we stayed at in Lakes Entrance, our guest room is also self-contained with a large king sized bed, a single foldout bed, shower and toilet, a small kitchenette area, a desk and an outdoor patio with stunning views of the ocean. Honestly, I’m so lucky to be staying here and I’ll be making the most of my short stay here. https://www.racv.com.au/travel-leis…

On Monday night, we went out for a buffet-style dinner at the Radius Restaurant Inverloch. It was certainly a fine dining experience that I’ll never be used to. I’m like the polar opposite of Paris Hilton. Humble, thankful, don’t expect too much, find it difficult having others fuss over me. And that’s exactly the kind of service you get from the staff at Radius. There were plenty of food options including vegetable soup, various salads and greens, roast lamb and pork, sausages, crackling, custard, pavlova, cheesecake and fruit salad. Filling was an understatement! https://www.racv.com.au/travel-leis…

On Tuesday morning, we went for a drive down to Inverloch, Tarwin Lower and Venus Bay to visit the shops and check out the beautiful coastal scenery. I loved the briny aroma from the ocean waves driving past. You could literally taste how salty the water was. For lunch, we dropped into the local cafe at The Black Sheep Tapas & Wine Bar. I ordered a calarami salad with a latte which was really nice. I also had to grab some sinus and nasal relief tablets from the pharmacy as I’m still dealing with annoying pains in my facial muscles. https://www.travelvictoria.com.au/i…

On Tuesday afternoon, my parents and I drove down to Cape Paterson and had a walk along the surf beach. There’s something about watching the white frothy waves crashing onto the rocks and people playing in the rock pools that’s really relaxing and meditative. It was a bit chilly today especially with the strong coastal breeze lashing my skin and way too cold to take a dip but still a lovely day for a walk through the sand. http://visitbasscoast.com.au/philli…

On Wednesday morning, Mum and I decided to wander around the local streets of Inverloch. We visited the South Gippsland Conservation Society Inc.Salt GalleryAustralian Red Cross Card & Gift Shop and the Earth Art Studio mainly browsing for homewares including candles, cushions, wall art, ornaments, lamps and soaps. We also had coffee and lunch together at the Beaches and Cream cafe with a beautiful indoor ravine hanging overhead.

On Thursday morning, I went down to the Kokoda Memorial Trail in Ferntree Valley 1000 Steps. with a few of the PT’s and potential clients from The Yard Strength & Fitness. My body has been in “holiday mode” for the past month or so though I have still been doing group fitness classes here and there. Still I decided to not push myself too hard today considering it was meant to get up to 35 degrees and it’s only my second time doing “The Steps”. Of course it didn’t take long before my heart rate started accelerating. I could hear it reverberating through my ears and I did have to stop briefly a few times.

But much to my surprise, I managed to get it done in 18 minutes which was much better than last time. Later we all participated in a short workout which consisted of pike pushups, plank holds, crab walks, situps, crunches, burpees and double leg raises. We then descended back down to the carpark via the Lyrebird trail which was very steep with lots of loose pebbles and rocks. I took my time doing it as I didn’t want to slip or over-exert myself but it still felt good finishing it. https://visitdandenongranges.com.au/…

“Lord knows you can’t trust your head. When you’re standing on the edge. I’m breaking down. Lord knows you can’t trust your head. When you’re hanging by a thread. I was breaking down.” Sia – Footprints (2016)

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​THE AVENUE PROJECT w/ Wolf Roth Vantage, Wild Eyed Like Fireflies, Above The Fallen & Arkeon @ The Tote Upstairs, January 2018

Headliner: THE AVENUE PROJECT

Supports: Wolf Roth Vantage, Wild Eyed Like Fireflies, Above The Fallen & Arkeon

Date: Sunday January 7th, 2018

Venue: THE TOTE Hotel Upstairs. 71 Johnston Street (Corner of Johnston & Wellington Streets), Collingwood.

Presented By: Oblivious Bookings https://www.facebook.com/obliviousbookings/

Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/147626765960705/

Reviewer: Michael Dixon

It’s been over a month since I last attended a local gig due to personal reasons (work, mental health, energy levels, bigger priorities in life) but this year I’m determined to hopefully make more of an effort to regularly attend shows again. Typically, I had to deal with annoying bus replacements on my line this weekend and I only put up with it because I know that this show at The TOTE Hotel is worth it. Thankfully, it was an express bus from Westall to Flinders Street but it still makes for a longer journey (2 hours later).

Before all of those shenanigans, I had to attend my mum’s friend’s 70th birthday lunch in the Sports Bar at the Cranbourne RSL. I was only able to stay for a couple of hours which was fortunate as I was feeling irritable and anxious about the time. Put me in a room and one of the first things I’ll be searching for is a clock and also an exit door. Still it was a lovely event and I made it to Merinda Park station with plenty of time to spare.

Getting off at Victoria Park station, I actually made really good time with all the trains and replacements buses. I got to The Tote about 4.30-5pm and I decided to order a pint of Coopers lager to settle my nerves. It didn’t take long before the boys in Above the Fallen found me down in the front bar also ordering drinks. I felt like a fish out of water conversation wise but still appreciated the company I had around me.

Unfortunately sitting up in the upstairs band room presented more problems. It was uncomfortably stuffy with poor ventilation despite the fact that they’ve opened up the area to increase the space near the stage. I was also feeling socially awkward and struggling to click with some of the others. I wisely decided to get some air in between bands as I didn’t want to pass out. A few people were doing the same, chilling outside the venue on Wellington Street. It was a good chance to hang out and chat with a few of my band friends.

Overall, I had a pretty good time though I was mentally drained by the end of it. Still it shows how strong and resilient I’ve become in the past year. My anxiety and autism can make life difficult for me sometimes, holding me back from being in social situations and going out to see bands play. But I always try to push back against it and not let it win. It’s the reason why I still attend gigs because for the most part I enjoy the music and supporting local bands. Shoutout to Aidan Simpson for being an awesome sound guy. Lovely to meet you today!

ARKEON are a relatively new five-piece Alternative Hardcore band from the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. From the outset, they did a pretty good job bringing the energy levels up with a few punters throwing down in the mosh pit. The boys played a handful of tracks including It Was Wrong and a cover of The Veronica’s classic tune 4ever! https://www.facebook.com/arkeonau/

ABOVE THE FALLEN are a five-piece Heavy Melodic Metalcore band who I had the pleasure of interviewing back in October last year. I’ve been following their progress for the past year and already know that they’re going to be huge. Today marked their third show and despite some initial technical issues with the samples, they managed to put on a highly impressive performance. They played tracks from their upcoming EP including Make It Stop, Nightmare and their debut single Heart! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTN…

Vocalist Mitch tore up the stage with some heavy hitting, unrelenting screams and got a few mic grabs from the crowd. Guitarist Josh is very much a character, pulling off plenty of animated stunts on stage. I really admired how honest and genuine this band is especially when it comes to awareness around mental illness and domestic violence. Being able to speak up about both of these things is really important. https://www.facebook.com/abovethefa…

WILD EYED LIKE FIREFLIES are a Progressive Post-Hardcore band from Geelong. Honestly, I had mixed feelings about their performance. The biggest problem was the sound quality with vocalist Maddy getting drowned out by the other instruments. I really didn’t know how to take this band as they come off as off kilter, quirky and a little weird but musically they do have a lot of potential. I like the blend of heavy breakdowns with softer piano touches and the balance of vocal duties between Maddy and guitarist Aidan. They played several songs including Collapsing: Forest and Disregard: Past/Sanity/Me. https://wildeyedlikefireflies.bandcamp.com/…

WOLF ROTH VANTAGE are an Alternative Metal band who like WELF are also from Geelong. The band put on a pretty solid performance and managed to get an intensely hectic mosh pit going during the middle of their set. Hayden’s vocals were really tight especially the cleans during the slower songs. You can check out their songs Red, Like Rain and Deteriorate on their Triple J Unearthed page here: https://www.triplejunearthed.com/ar…

THE AVENUE PROJECT are a six-piece Hardcore Punk Rock band from Melbourne. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stick around for these guys but make sure you check out their debut EP “Havoc” here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/m…

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​MIKEY’S PERSONAL BLOG 85, January 2018

Last Saturday night, we visited Bill and Jenny’s house in Middlesex Court, Cranbourne North who both put on an annual Christmas lights display. Every year they add new features to the display and rearrange it to keep it fresh and interesting. It’s been about the third year that we’ve visited their place during Christmas and tonight we were invited inside for a cuppa. They certainly had plenty of stories to tell about their family traditions, the best places to buy Christmas lights and the like.

On New Years Eve, my parents and I went out for dinner and drinks at the Cracked Pepper Function Room inside the Frankston RSL. We booked out a large booth with comfy leather sofas and a central timber table. The group mainly consisted of people we usually go out to Morning Melodies events with including Linda BaileyKen BaileyJen AngeeDavid Angee, Colin, Lorraine, Geraldine and Kevin. We brought along some plastic cocktail glasses with flashing LED lights in the base as well as a few NYE party hats.

I’ve been doing the casual, low-key thing at NYE for the past three years now and I much prefer it over going out to a club or party. Back in 2007, I went to the city on NYE for the first time and it was the worst experience of my life. Overcrowded trains, moments of verbal/racist abuse and tension between people, pushing and shoving through the city streets. Walking out of Flinders Street station, it was absolute bedlam and I vowed to myself never to do it again. It’s often a celebration that’s overhyped anyway. Any excuse to get drunk.

Tonight was wonderful though despite the fact that I only had about 5 hours sleep and had to work all day. I decided to order the fish ‘n chips as well as a herb and garlic pizza to share, a strawberry cheesecake and a small latte. From 8.30pm onwards, they had entertainer Rene Diaz playing lots of classic songs including The Beatles’ Get Back, The Seekers’ I Am Australian, Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds and Johnny O’Keefe’s Ring of Fire. They also had a selection of music videos playing on the flat screens around the venue. https://www.frankstonrsl.com.au/eat…

On New Years Day, my parents and I went for a leisurely, half-hour stroll around Lakeside Pakenham. The weather was a warm, partly cloudy 25 degrees and many residents were out walking their dogs or doing for a jog around the lake walking track. I’ve often imagined what it would be like to live near water but financially it’s always something that is out of reach. Still it doesn’t cost anything to dream. And I do love admiring the native birdlife with lots of ducks, geese and swans inhibiting the lake area. https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/121…

On Tuesday afternoon, my parents and I drove down to Lakes Entrance for a few days which has become something of an annual tradition during January. One of the great things about Lakes Entrance is being able to park your car and walk everywhere. We’re staying at the Bellevue On The Lakes which is a 4-star motel resort. I feel so lucky and privileged to be staying here as my parents are basically paying for the accommodation. I couldn’t afford to do this by myself, at least not at the moment so I’m making the most of it. Still I contribute in terms of board each fortnight so I’m not exactly a freeloader.

The Bellevue motel resort features self-contained guest rooms with a queen sized bed, single bed, small kitchenette, a bar fridge, flat screen TV, a long wall mounted desk, a shower and vanity unit. There is also a tranquil indoor courtyard with artificial palms, a water fountain and large chessboard. Plus indoor and outdoor pool, spa, sauna, BBQ facilities, squash court, a cafe and restaurant. http://bellevuelakes.com/facilities…

On Wednesday afternoon, we caught up with our aunties for lunch at Lakes Sports and Community Club. It always seems to be a socially awkward experience everytime we all meet up together as it doesn’t happen very often and I never know what to say or what to talk about. However, we still had a really good day. The weather was in the low 20’s with sunshine and a light breeze. We ended up dropping into Miller’s as well as a couple of Opp shops down the main street before returning to the LSCC for coffees and beers.

On Wednesday night, my parents and I went down to the Lakes Entrance Bowls Club for dinner and dessert. We ended up having a serious discussion about my future which never seems to end well. My mind is still in a fog when it comes to what I’m doing with my life and what direction I’m going in. Part of it is the societal expectations of having our lives mapped out or having a 5-10 year plan prepared like a report or a powerpoint presentation. But the reality is that I really don’t know what I’m doing with my life.

Comparisons to others will always be inevitable even with members of my family. I compare myself to people who are more successful than me, have more money, have better careers, own their first home, have kids. But it all gets too much and my brain can’t handle that kind of thinking all the time. All I can do is concentrate on my strengths and talents such as writing, art, event planning, gig review writing, decorating, caring for animals and gardening.

On Thursday afternoon, we went for a day trip down to Bairnesdale to visit my Auntie Linda and her granddaughter Olivia. We also dropped into Kmart to shop for some camping supplies for the UNIFY festival next week. It’s always a winner for good cheap stuff such as inflatable mattresses, cooking equipment, foldout tables, camping chairs, ice blocks, a solar shower, baby wipes, dry bags, sunscreen, insect repellent, thermal foam bed rolls, gel packs, tarps and batteries. http://www.kmart.com.au/category/sp…

On Thursday night, we had dinner at Lakes Sports and Community Club. Honestly, it wasn’t the best experience as the room was really noisy and annoying. The meals were okay though my salad was literally drowned in dressing. I did like the fried calamari and scallops though so that’s something. As it was our final night in Lakes Entrance, we had a walk along the footbridge and up to the main beach. Watching the bright lights from the nearby carnival rides reflect across the water was a beautiful sight to see. Things like that always put me in a positive mood.

On Friday, we had our last day together at Lakes Entrance before having to head back home. We had breakfast and coffees at Bloody Good Coffee with a gorgeous view overlooking the foreshore. I really enjoy just observing other people walking their dogs, riding their bikes, chatting or simply having a bit of a perve (especially when it comes to hot guys with their guns out. Who can resist seriously?).

It was a long drive home and not only did we have to unload the car, but I also had to pick up my 2015 Hyundai Accent sedan that afternoon from the Cranbourne Hyundai Used Car dealership. I was still feeling a bit nervous about it, going through various “What if?” scenarios inside my head. It also hasn’t really sunk in yet either. It’s just all happened so quickly that I haven’t had time to properly process the fact that I’m a new car owner.

But I’m eternally grateful for my step-dad Rod for giving me a bank cheque so I didn’t have to get the vehicle financed. I’ll just pay him back in installments each fortnight. I’ll also have to organise comprehensive car insurance for it as well. When it comes to driving a new car, I’m always extremely slow and cautious. Just takes me a little while to adjust to the controls, the brakes and how it drives. But so far I’m really happy with it.

“Everybody seems to think I’m lazy. I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy. Running everywhere at such a speed till they find there’s no need (There’s no need). Keeping an eye on the world going by my window. Taking my time. Lying there and staring at the ceiling Waiting for a sleepy feeling…” The Beatles – I’m Only Sleeping (1966)

“Each day just goes so fast. I turn around, it’s past. You don’t get time to hang a sign on me. Love me while you can or I’ll get a plan. A lifetime is so short. A new one can’t be bought. But what you’ve got means such a lot to me.” The Beatles – Love You To (1966)

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