Well it’s only been just over two months since I last wrote, so I’m not doing too badly time wise. As usual so much has happened in the last two months, including moving back to Melbourne, a new house and job, and having a good friend die unexpectedly, so I’ve been a little reserved lately, dealing with all those changes.
However, I must pick up where I left off in the last post.
I was getting quite a bit of life modelling, and had a fast growing reputation of being a really good model. I think it was mostly because I turned up for a start, and was on time, and would choose interesting poses that other models may not dare for fear of not looking their best or something. I was more concerned with the artistic angles and unusual poses I could create for the artists, and they loved me. Sometimes I’d choose a pose and halfway through I’d wish I’d chosen something simpler, but I held it and my dedication paid off in that I was booked up a few nights most weeks.
I had a few interesting sessions, one where I was an hour and a half west of Sydney, in a shed at a university campus. It was a warm day, and there was a fly buzzing around the shed. Now I’m standing there under a few lights (to create shadows etc for the artists), and naturally you sweat a little. Well the fly found me and decided to land on my shoulder and I had an instant dilemma. Should I continue with the pose and ignore the fly, or quickly swat it away and resume my pose? It was so tempting to swat him away; however I chose to ignore him, or tried to anyway. (Ok I don’t know the fly was a boy or girl but for arguments sake he can be male in my story). I was about half way through a 20 minute pose, so I figured I’d use the experience as a mental challenge and try to resist the urge to break the pose. I could feel every little step the fly took, the sensation of his movement oscillating between tickling and itching. He slowly walked along my shoulder towards my neck, then down my back, around to my side and up under my arm. All my focus was on the fly and his movement so I wasn’t aware of the time passing. I was however, drawing mental boundaries in my head, in that if he decided to traverse to certain areas I would definitely break the pose and that would be the end of his free exploration! Fortunately he must have decided the exercise was boring or he’d had enough, and he left. Then the buzzer went for the end of that pose and I could move. Talk about good timing on his part!
I had another strange session where the teacher had the students blind fold each other and walk each other around the room feeling the walls and other objects, in an effort to enhance their sensation and perceptions. Then another where the students were required to do some ‘limbering’ up stretches to open their muscles and their minds! In one class they focused on shoulder blades, and I had to hold my arms at certain angles to show how the various muscles interacted with the shoulder blades, and another when the students were told to imitate my poses, to get a true feeling for the areas of tension and to highlight them in their drawings. Although some of the classes were a little weird, I loved them all. It was relatively easy money, though staying completely still for such long periods (up to 20 mins at a time) does place unusual strain on your body. However, I mostly used the sessions as a form of meditation. I was right there in the moment, thinking only of the present, slowing my breathing to minimise movement, and focusing on what was going on around me. I ended up getting a session at the ArtHouse Hotel, the epitome of places to model in Sydney, where they only take the best of the best models, and they’ve subsequently booked me for a session next year already! Now to replicate that success in Melbourne…
During all this, I was having issues with my landlord. The house we lived in was nicknamed ‘The Jailhouse’ by the Irish girls, and mostly we all had fun. You wouldn’t have guessed that so many people lived there, as nearly everyone had a job and it wasn’t until the evenings or weekends that the majority of people were home. The landlord was dodgy, we all knew that and could deal with it until I decided enough was enough. We didn’t get receipts for our rent, and we had to pay rent in cash. The landlord was a chicken shit, and wouldn’t say anything to your face, so all of the anguish was either on the phone or via text message. I antagonised him more than the others would, because I wasn’t scared of him. He would threaten to get their visas revoked if they stood up to him, however since he had nothing to hold over me I went hell for leather. And it wasn’t that I was asking for something unreasonable. I simply wanted receipts for our rent each week. Well, you’d have thought I’d asked for his house and car the way he reacted. I had abusive text message after abusive text message, and it just used to make me laugh. I managed to get one receipt from his so called colleague, but it was useless anyway, not having any of the required information on it. I wasn’t so worried about the receipts anyway; it was more of a show that my housemates needn’t be scared of him, and to keep myself entertained. He was an idiot as well, some of those text messages would be gold if they ever got to court, and I had him over a barrel regarding the receipts which was why he got so angry. I knew he’d be glad to see me go and just hoped he wouldn’t withhold my bond when I decided to leave like he had to some of the others.
In all my time thus far in Sydney, I’d not been to the Blue Mountains. You know how it is, you don’t tend to do the touristy things in your own city unless you’re showing visitors around. Well I decided that I should go have a look, and asked Dan to go with me. He lived out near the mountains, so I was the tourist and he the local. We saw them (to be honest I think you’d have to go for a hike and have a proper look around, as the viewing platform that everyone stands on and takes pictures of the mountains from was a little disappointing). Then we went to Leura Falls, and since I’m such a fan of waterfalls I loved it. We hiked down to the base of the falls, and I could have spent all afternoon there. I find all water (oceans, rivers, waterfalls) really relaxing and could spend all my time as a tourist seeking out those locations.
On the way back to Dan’s house, we drove via an old nursing home. Apparently Dan’s grandfather used to be live there before it was closed down a number of years ago. He told me he’d always wanted to get inside to have a last look around, but there was a large wire fence around the whole property with signs saying “Private Property – Keep Out”. I could see he needed a little encouragement, and I was up for an adventure, so I suggested we go have a look to see if we could get in. It took a bit of convincing on my part, him being more concerned about the signs than me, however I knew we might not get another chance, so put forth my best argument and finally convinced him we’d try.
We scoured the perimeter first, looking for some sort of guard house or security office, all to no avail. We came across two large gates, with a sign “Beware of the Dog” and a large kennel situated not far from the fence. There was a chain and large padlock around the gates, and barbed wire on top of the fence. If there was no sign of the dog I was all for it, my adrenaline pumping faster with every minute that passed. I rattled the gate, making as much noise as possible, thinking the dog would surely come running. Nothing. Not even the faintest bark. I looked at Dan and could see he was keen, we just had to find a way in. He noticed a hole in the fence that had wire crisscrossing it to close it over, so I started to unwind it. We were both able to squeeze through the hole and finally stood on the inside of the fence. We were both on high alert, still waiting for a dog to come pounding around the corner, but after a frozen minute it looked as if we were safe.
We crept along the gravel driveway that was now infused with tall weeds, trying to make as little noise as possible as we went. The main housing structure was ahead of us, slightly to our left, with the dog kennel and a large shed on our right. It was only when we got near a smaller building that Dan told me it used to be the morgue, and that set my imagination going. The whole place was also apparently the most visited site in Australia for psychics and the like, believing that it was the most haunted location in the country. Now I’m not a great believer in ghosts and such, however with the adrenaline flowing as it was and having filled my head with many forensic books and information over the years, my imagination was running wild and each of my senses on overdrive. Occasionally one of us would stand on a twig, and when it snapped we’d both jump feet off the ground, then laugh at our edginess. The first building we reached was the old kitchen and dining hall, and we gained access by sliding sideways between a sheet of metal and the doorway. Inside was a perfect location for a horror movie. The room was large and tiled, with sections of the wall covered in stainless steel for easy cleaning. The floor was on an ever so slight inclined towards the middle, where a large drain cover stood, surrounded by water stains. The space was complete with overhead fluorescent lights, the covers of which had cracked and fallen off in places, and a short corridor that ended abruptly with two large fridge doors on either side, their large horizontal handles now rusted in places. Curiosity got the better of me, and I pushed one handle down, while the fridge door opened effortlessly inwards. I held my breath, half expecting to see a skeleton or pile of bones inside. Thankfully the old fridge was empty, but my imagination was still running wild.
The rest of the buildings were not accessible from the kitchen, as the door to the corridor of bedrooms had been nailed firmly shut. We retreated back out the way we’d come, and made our way past the large shed. As we walked past I noticed three holes in the roller door, looking suspiciously like bullet holes, and they came from the inside of the shed out. Now I was a little worried. We could hear faint music coming from somewhere, and I could envision a crazy homeless man living inside the shed, waiting out his days to shoot at anyone who walked past. I didn’t mention the holes to Dan, as we were headed to where he thought his grandfather used to live, and I didn’t want to stop exploring now that we were so close. However my heart was pounding. I picked up the closest stick I could find, suddenly realising neither of us had any form of weapon other than ourselves.
We made our way into the accommodation block, and it reminded me of an old hospital. A long straight corridor with rooms off to either side, some of the room numbers still attached to the walls. I was straining to see any security cameras or personnel, all to no avail. Strewn along the corridor were empty beer bottles, cigarette butts and a few strips of dirty cloth. Then I saw a piece of cloth with blood on it, and a used needle nearby. Now I had to contend with a possible crazy drugged out person or persons also! My stick was becoming less and less adequate the longer we looked around. Dan found the old lounge room, and pointed out where he used to kick a soccer ball around outside the window, while his grandfather sat by and watched. It would have been a grand old residence in its time, with great big trees and a large grassed area underneath. A little normalcy was good for my brain at that moment, and helped to slow my heartbeat down some. We continued up the corridor until Dan found the room that was his grandfathers. It was evident how much this visit meant to him, and I was glad that I was able to share that moment with him.
Our mission accomplished, we walked back towards the entrance to the accommodation block, and past the shed roller door. We must have relaxed somewhat, as we were talking more not so worried about getting caught. It’s amusing that once your aim has been achieved the nerve wracking situation was not so anymore. We were almost back at the gates near the car, and were laughing at how worked up we’d gotten ourselves, and how pleased we were to have had a look around, when we heard the shed door open and footsteps other than our own approaching us. There was a split second pause where our flight or fight responses were tested, when a male voice called out something to us and we looked at each other, contemplating our next course of action. The man didn’t sound drug or alcohol affected, and we had to squeeze through that little hole again if we were to run, provided we didn’t get shot first I thought, when Dan turned around to talk to the guy and I followed suit.
I couldn’t see a gun, nor did he look all that threatening, rather he looked tired and annoyed. He asked what we were doing, and after Dan explained our presence he seemed to relax somewhat. At the end of the conversation Dan got the guy’s number, he was the caretaker or similar, and Dan asked if he could bring his mum up to have a look around one day as it was her father who’d lived there. The guy agreed, provide Dan called first, and he opened the lock on the gate for us so we could walk out, rather than crawl through the hole we’d made. Phew. We drove around the corner out of sight and just sat for a few minutes, gathering our thoughts and allowing our pulse rates to return to normal. Then we laughed, as we told each other what had been going through our heads the whole time, and agreed it would make for a great story! I don’t know that I could live like that all the time, however a good dose of adrenaline every now and again is healthy, keeps you on your toes!
Until next time, and I hope you’re all well,