All Around Updates

I haven’t updated this blog in ages – and for good reason. I’ve been busy!

No, not with a job – still working on that one – but uni has kept me busy and I’ve started up a side business with my sister – Bottlebrush Illustration & Design.

Uni has really got me very prepared for just about anything at this point. The sheer flurry of activity that constitutes each semester has proven to me I can handle a fast-paced environment full of pressure and deadlines. Especially this year, having instituted trimesters, each subject is several weeks shorter in length than it used to be, and that’s really compressed the assignment time. It hasn’t been easy, but so far I haven’t failed.

Having said all that, I am looking forward to completing the course so I can have a moment to relax. It takes a toll, you know?

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in this blog yet but I had to give up on the caravan, for a number of reasons. The main reason was that I was unable to keep it on the land I was renting for it, and there was nowhere else I could put it. The other main reason was that I was just out of money. I’m back in with the parents until I can get back on my feet financially.

Mastering Animation

As those of you who know me know, I’ve been working very hard on my Master of Animation course at UTS. Two semesters in, and I’ve got a range of High Distinctions, Distinctions and Credits. Needless to say, I’m pretty chuffed at my results. But of course, as you may also know, assessment time meant many late nights, and even early mornings at uni. Takes a bit of a toll! Since my uni year ended a month ago, I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping.

But while I’ve been awake, I’ve been working on a new project. I’m learning to use Unity and developing my own video game.

I probably should have started with something small, but instead I’m going all out and making a Japanese style RPG. Fortunately, there is ORK Framework to take care of most of the stumbling blocks that would otherwise have made me give up.

So far I’ve made pretty good progress with the basics, though I still haven’t been able to start on the game proper. Still much animation and 3D modelling to go. This is a long haul project. Probably, in time, I’ll need to attempt a Kickstarter so I can hire a programmer to help me with certain things. But by then, I’ll have plenty to show.

Major Caravanish Developments

So it looks like it’s all go.

I have a location to put a caravan.
I have a caravan.
I have been given generous donations from friends and family to put towards this endeavour.
I have a microwave, a small fridge and a small oven with two hotplates on top.
I have a drinking water hose coming shortly, and I’m trawling freebie classifieds to find a kitchen sink and other bits and pieces.

So this is the caravan:

Yeah. It’s going to need work.


The Supply Side

So, my caravan-to-be will be needing certain essential supplies before I can actually live in it. I have to think of my basic needs first and foremost, then lesser needs, then even lesser, and finally luxury.

Note: this assumes the caravan I purchase has a basic kitchen sink with faucet.

Basic Needs
This is stuff like food, bed, toilet, shower. Obviously, I have a bed, so that’s covered. Worst comes to worst, I can eat uncooked ramen noodles, have sponge baths and poop in a bucket, but obviously, none of that is ideal.

  • Food – Mum has a portable hot plate I can use, so I can at least cook the ramen. There are two fridges at my family’s onsite caravan, so I will probably be able to borrow the smaller of them for a bit. Obviously, that covers the biggest problems. I can deal with not having an oven for a while if I need to. Toasters are really cheap, and I have a Tefal Quick Cup which I got some years ago in my youthful wealth.
  • Shower: At the cheap end, I can get a budget camp shower. But, since I’ll already be needing a hot water heater for the kitchen sink, I’m half way there.
  • Toilet: You can get real cheap camping loos, and cassette toilets are the next step up, though they cost a few hundred. I could also go DIY and chuck a seat over a bucket.. but it all depends on the sewage system on the land I will occupy.
  • The small things: drinking water hose to pump water in, and long electrical cord for power are going to be essentials. I’ll also need a decent tool set, for the many fixes I may need to make.

Lesser Needs
Lesser needs are things I will still want before I move out of here, due to convenience or what have you.

  • Oven or convection oven – for obvious reasons.
  • Computer with internet – because I can’t do without it. I have a laptop and desktop PC, both of which I use profusely. My TV is connected to the PC, which has 2 further monitors attached. I aim to build in the computer to the caravan, using brackets.
  • Table and chairs – Whatever may be built into the caravan is something I would like to remove in favour of something that takes up less space. I have a gateleg folding table from Ikea, and I’ll have to pick up some inexpensive folding chairs to go along with it. I have a desk chair, also.
  • Washing machine – you can buy reeeeaaallly basic washing machines, with hand cranks. The next step up is a travel washing machine, which looks pretty flimsy, but hopefully it will be adequate.
  • Some kind of annexe – Something that will give me a little extra space so I can definitely fit in my basics, and some privacy because the annexe would be where I’d put my bathroom area.
  • Iron & ironing board – for those times when I want to look less poor than I am
  • A couple of lamps, so I can see what I’m doing in the annexe

Even Lesser Needs
These are things I can save up for and buy after I’ve moved in.

  • Compact Dishwasher – because I hate washing up.
  • Other cooking appliances, if I find myself wishing I had them.
  • Own fridge – because I’ll be borrowing one
  • TV antenna
  • Air conditioner, if the caravan is subject to the elements too much. Otherwise, it can be put in with the luxury items.
  • Dustbuster / small vacuum

Luxury Items
This’ll be stuff I only get if my financial situation is looking good.

  • Brand spanking new kitchen and other fittings, goodbye crummy old stuff
  • Fancier greywater systems
  • Solar power
  • Air purifier, to help my allergies
  • Water filter
  • Fancier shower recess
  • Kit out the van with full surround sound – I am a filmmaker, after all.

So basically, I will invest in the van slowly over time, while simultaneously paying off my debts bit by bit. Both are important – one for comfort, the other for general freedom from the chains of debt.

Hopefully if I can stick to this plan, I can have a fully kitted out caravan within 2 years. I can’t say how long I will need to live in the van, nor can I say whether or not I will pay off my debts by then, because I don’t know what my future job outlook is. With a bit of luck, things will work out and I may be looking at plots of land in five years.

All Caravans, All The Time

I got two leads today based on my Gumtree listing. I totally didn’t expect that at all. But it’s made me more excited than ever to get moving on my caravan project.

I have a lot of things to think about, and a fair bit of money to save up still – however, my fundraiser is up to $220 as of this writing, which is totally amazing.

Basically, my main issue is working out toileting and showering. But, there are many products out there I can choose from, so it’ll just be a matter of figuring out what’s best.

Even my parents are starting to get on board, and that is exciting for me, because when that happens, my biggest preliminary hurdles have been scaled.

Things are moving. Soon, I too may be moving.

Thoughts on Caravan Residency

I worry.

I worry about a lot of things a lot of the time; it’s one of the things about anxiety. But this is a deep, gut worry, that only comes when I’m uncertain about my future. I’d say it’s pretty close to fear, really. Fear of things changing.

Since my previous post, a lot of people have talked to me. I’ve talked to a lot of people. There was a lot of talking all around.

During those talks, tiny concerns were pushed into my brain, wiggling their way in like worms. Would I get someone to let me rent their land? Could I really use a composting toilet? What if I’m no good at renovating? Do I really want to give up this cushy life at home?

Those concerns congealed in my gut to become fear.

But here’s the thing. I’m a freakin’ adult. I may be the youngest of four, but I’m nearly 30 years old. I’ve done so many things in the past ten years that I didn’t think I’d have the guts to do, but I did them, and sometimes they failed, sometimes they worked out. It’s worth a shot, because if I do succeed, I’ll find myself in a good, secure position, with a roof over my head and a decent financial situation. If I fail, I’ll merely end up back where I am now. So what do I have to lose?

I’ve posted an ad on Gumtree to advertise my wish to rent some land for a caravan. I don’t know if anyone will even read it, but what the hey.

The Pinterest boards I’ve made are extensive, so if anyone has the web resources to pull this off, it’s me.

I can do this. I know it.


No House, No Worries?

Living below the poverty line these past three years have taught me a thing or two. I’ve been forced to learn some lessons, while others have come after reflection on my woeful situation.

LESSON ONE: Debt is cancerous

A month before my last fulltime job went away, I purchased a car on my credit card. That debt has not gone away, 3 years down the track. The interest, combined with the auto insurance and various other bills, is stopping me from paying off anything, since I’m only getting welfare while I study. So I’ve spent all of my time since being gainfully employed with a huge added burden. I could have sold the car, but that would have only been a temporary fix. I have needed a car many, many times these past years. The only safety net I have is living here with my parents. But they still charge board.

LESSON TWO: Apparently, nobody gives a moderately educated mid-twenties gal a job.

This one was a surprise, but in retrospect I understand it – despite it making me quite angry.

Turns out over-qualification is a real thing. And I have it. Plus, low-skill jobs always overlook the adults for the fresher faces that cost less, regardless of their work calibre.

It also turns out that I’m either under-qualified or under-experienced for the jobs on my career path. This one I’ve been working really hard to overcome, but so far it’s been no good. This is why I’ve been looking into getting a Masters degree after my Advanced Diploma: like our favourite treasurer, Joe Hockey, says: “Earn or Learn” – and earning is evading me continuously.

LESSON THREE: Wollongong is good and bad for being unemployed

Jobs? What jobs?

But at least the housing is… almost affordable.

LESSON FOUR: You have to get creative in how to survive on very little, while still investing in your future… somehow

A wealthy person may well stick their nose up at the fact I am frequently buying parts or accessories for my computer, or buying coffee while I am out and about.

Okay, I can’t justify the coffee except that I NEED IT FOREVER… but, as for the computer equipment: I can’t just sit by and watch my computer succumb to age and obsolescence. For someone like me, whose very future depends on her ability to use the latest design and video software, how am I supposed to work on a core duo processor and 2 gigs of RAM? How can I market myself as a photographer if I don’t have a DSLR? As an artist if I don’t have a graphics tablet?

So how can I afford it?

Well, I tread a very delicate path. I give up a LOT. Buy a beer at the pub? Psh, who am I, Richard Branson? Go shopping? Uh no, I have important being at home to do, where my money stays safely in my bank account.

Haircut? It can wait another few months, right? Shoes? Bro, I am wearing these sandals until they turn to dust under my feet. Clothing? Thank goodness for hand-me-downs and Millers sales.

Go to the movies? Ha, I don’t think so. I’ll borrow the DVD from you when you get that. Music? Uh, my Beatles collection is good enough for now.

LESSON FIVE: You gotta get thinking about how not to be homeless

Homelessness is an actual worry for me. I mean, I live with my parents today, but they’re getting on in their years. And what if they both died tomorrow in a car crash? They haven’t come close to paying off the mortgage on this house. There is no inheritance.

This has been the most recent lesson I’ve learned. I’m still working it out, but there is only one realistic way I can currently start living away from home…

Getting a cheap old caravan, and finding someone who’ll let me park it on their land.

So it’s come to this. I’m gonna be trailer trash.

Okay, I am a highly educated young person with a potentially bright future, so I can’t submit to boganity just yet. However, it just might take some years living like a retiree in a shoebox to get my finances back in order. And that’s okay.

In fact, it could be a smart move.

As I live in a spartan manner, I am sure to save money, after paying off my debts that is.

Eventually, I will be able to buy land.

And later, a proper home to put there.

A crummy 1977 Millard might be my ticket to freedom.

Care to… donate to my cause?

The Three Things that Improve My Life

There are three things that have come into my life in the past year that have improved my experience of life significantly. Until I got these three things, I didn’t realise just how bad I had it before.

  1. Amavys Nasal Spray
    I never knew how clear my nasal passages could be until I started using this medical spray.
    It hasn’t fixed all my crummy nose issues, but it’s definitely taken away a lot of the inflammation that would occur, stopping me from being able to breathe well through my nose. Often I would have to resort to being a “mouth breather”. Shudder.
  2. Paroxetine
    Here’s the thing. I’ve been suffering from anxiety for more than half my life now. People normally just view me as shy, reserved and disinterested in social interaction. It’s partly that, but the thing that stops me from participating fully in conversation in most cases springs from the fact that I get very physical symptoms of anxiety. My mind goes blank, I feel nervous, I get a little sick to the stomach, and many other horrible things like that. It’s for this reason that I finally went to a GP and got a prescription for Paroxetine, an antidepressant that also treats anxiety.
    Its effects have been subtle, but in comparing with how I was before, I know they have made a difference. I’m more likely to socialise now, for the simple reason that I can without clamming up.

    An interesting side effect of the medication has been the fact that it also seems to treat the chronic headaches I’ve had for many years. And that’s pretty awesome.

    I’ve also had mild depression for some time, and this has helped a bit with that, but in November last year I still felt like I had nothing to get up for each morning. I just didn’t have any zest for life at all. And that’s where number 3 came in.

  3. Twinkie
    Twinkie is my reason to get out of bed. She’s surely the biggest plus in my life lately. In the morning, we have our snuggle time as I awaken, and it makes me get out of bed with a smile… something that never happened before.

    I think it’s just having something relying on me, making me feel wanted, that is the key.

    …That, and cats are soooooo cute.

Screen and Media class in 2013

Last year, I successfully attained my Certificate IV in Screen and Media (very successfully, if I do say so :P), and this year’s course has finally properly begun. We are being blended with a University of Wollongong Digital Media course, so our first uni classes began this week, though we have been doing one day a week for the past month.

The uni students seem nice – though it seems that our counterparts have barely touched Cinema 4D, which will make for some… let’s say, basic classes in the next few weeks. Still, it’s not as though I don’t enjoy using the program – I’ve been doing models in my leisure time for various reasons. It’s just that I was hoping to get my teeth into the character animation side of C4D. The teacher plans to get to it, but not for some weeks yet.

Our screen writing class is looking to be short, but packed with valuable lectures. We’ve had one 90 minute class, but I already feel like I have a much better grasp of story structure than before. I wonder how it will compare to the story lectures I’ll get in April when I go to the Pixar Artist’s Master Class. It cost $600 for only 2 days, but I reckon it will be worth every penny.

By far my favourite class at the moment is the Industry Practice class, which focuses on working for clients and getting hands-on with all the equipment in a professional studio environment. We’ve already shot and edited videos for Dragons TV, and that looks like it will continue for the entire NRL season. Nice! Especially since my sister knows the guy that manages Dragons TV – they met at WIN and he got her to play in a basketball comp…. where she broke her finger, but nonetheless had fun during the times she wasn’t crying out in pain.

Twinkie the Kitten

Last week, I adopted a feral kitten from a family member. She’d found a litter under her porch, and the kittens were terrified. I rescued one of them, thinking they might all be put down if taken to the pound. Luckily, the kitten’s siblings will be socialised and adopted out. Still, my little Twinkie is quickly becoming the absolute best thing in my life. She is so cute, so sweet and she’s really becoming tame fast. Below is a slideshow of her adorableness.

Twinkie uses the computer

Twinkie uses the computer

Twinkie basks in the sunlight

Twinkie basks in the sunlight

Twinkie snuggles with a stuffed dog

Twinkie snuggles with a stuffed dog

Sweepy Twinkie

Sweepy Twinkie

Twinkie uses the computerTwinkie basks in the sunlightTwinkie snuggles with a stuffed dogSweepy Twinkie