Having absolutely no budget for recreation, and limited access to technology (the bachelor pad has no tv, no internet, and dicey phone reception), forces one to become resourceful. Craving thai curry/tacos/pizza/Vietnamese rice paper rolls? Sorry doll, you’re not in Brooklyn anymore. No tip in the world will induce a Mexican deliveryman to pedal all the way to St George. Make it yourself. Can’t justify $4 bunches of coriander from the shop? Grow it yourself. Want to wear something new to the races? Sew it yourself.
All this industry is helpful anyway, in filling the spare time left when work is done and all the crosswords and sudoku in the newspaper have been finished. Other wholesome challenges completed with my dad out of sheer boredom/tightarsedness include: learning to bake bread from scratch, growing a potted herb garden, making our own muesli, and bicycle repairs. Dad also likes to while away hours shelling macadamia nuts with a hammer, but that’s just a bit too monotonous for me.
When on the lookout for cheap thrills, it’s hard to go past the local library. Not only are libraries now stocked with magazines, DVDs and audio books as well as the usual printed word, you can even request titles your branch doesn’t have. Suddenly all the books I had denied myself (too expensive, no fixed address at which to store them) were at my fingertips! I submitted a greedy list (DeLillo. Foster Wallace. Ishiguro. Didion. Egan. etc.) and busied myself with what I could find (Carey. Updike. My new obsession, west Aussie genius Craig Silvey) while I waited for my haul. And in a double-pleasure-synergy-explosion I have been getting letters from the library telling me my orders have arrived. They’re not as fast as the guys on bikes, but at least I don’t have to tip for these deliveries.
Once I would have been mortified to ride my bicycle around the George with a basket full of library books, much as I would have secretly loved it! But these days I wear my nerd badge with pride. One of the perks of getting older: realising what a waste of effort it is to feel self-conscious. And now I have a new addition to my necessities-when-making-someplace-your-new-home list:
- Neighbourhood cafe/bar who tolerate long-term lounging with book/laptop
- Library card