Finally, I’ve answered the Ask Me questions


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I know! It’s now about six weeks since I landed in Melbourne. OK, well, I landed in Brisbane first and was swamped by two of my favorite boys for a 1am walk through Southbank and laughs and fun. Thanks, Ben and Chris. Then, I landed in Melbourne and was whisked away by one of my best friends.

I declared that day “off’ and Michelle and I sat at her kitchen table catching up. I stayed with her for a month and I am so thankful for both the month and Michelle. She was one of my favorite people in high school where we got caught passing notes in French class, among other mischief. Now she is perfect. She gave me space when I needed it, and while she’s doing her PhD, we study together now as well as when we were 17: Lots of giggles and not enough work.

I feel bad for not writing an update, or catching up with most people. It’s been a whirlwind of school, and finding work, and basic things, like, setting up bank accounts again. But people have asked questions, so here’s the first Ask Me post in Melbourne.

What surprises you most about Melbourne now that you’ve returned?

Umm, surprises? Probably the only real surprise is a good one: there’s cultural diversity in Melbourne. From when I left and all the media reports I was expecting to miss so many different skin tones and accents, but it’s all here. And more hijabs in the streets too which makes me smile. Oh, what, there is this one, which is not really a surprise. I don’t know. We all know I missed laksa and the Southeastern Asian food, but the laksa and all the spice isn’t as spicy as I remembered. I suspect that’s my tolerance growing.

My little Widgey Bird. Who is also a YouTuber called Aussie Hobbit.

I came back expecting changes and nothing to be the same. Not the Boy Next-door has been my mantra. I’m not the same person I was nine years ago and I don’t expect others to be the same as when I left (or last saw them). However, I’m only just starting to feel less like a bent jigsaw piece. I grew up here but I don’t quite fit. In class I feel more like an international student even though I used to be a manager at the supermarket next to the campus. Most people don’t know I actually grew up in Geelong, a town out of Melbourne, and that’s where I was with Michelle. Ordering coffee on my first morning alone was, well, an adventure. I walked in and realized I didn’t know how to order a latte. What are the sizes? In the US it’s a standard 12oz with an extra shot (I prefer two but that gets pricey). No one in Australia uses ounces. I stumbled through my order but the barista delivered the wrong drink. I didn’t realize and started sipping. She came to fix her mistake (it was a bigger drink than I ordered but was actually a 12oz), and I got upset with myself in the cafe. I went to high school just a few blocks away; I should have been able to know my order was wrong. I got stress-teary and the cafe owner came to check on me and gave me a hug.

It’s not all bad though. I caught up with an old friend who is much better/nicer/whatever than earlier. I doubt he knows this blog exists so I can get away with being open. A massive thank you to Rhi who gave me a re-orientation to Melbourne day, including the animatronic dinosaurs in Myer. For those who don’t know, Rhi is also Widge. Long story for an old nickname.

I’m answering these in the order they came in.

How much would it cost to get a maid?

I need more information for this. Which country are you in? What kind of maid? I’m hoping this is just to clean your house and not a fetish. If it is, go for it, just don’t include me (and check the laws in your local state, even though prostitution should be legalized EVERYWHERE!!). Here’s the link for Molly Maid, who I always hired for my apartments.

Besides Harry, name a book that has left a lasting impression on you, and why?

Sheesh, where do I start? To clarify, I suspect it’s the fandom and friends from Harry Potter who left more of a lasting impression on me.

\The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is the book which definitely put me in my place of privilege.

My book for 2019 is What Do You Do With an Idea by Kobi Yamada is a perfect reminder that we need to act on the ideas that grab us.

To be a bit nerdy, Getting to Yes by William Uri is a little paperback on the recommended reading list when I did my undergraduate degree. I dismissed it as the latest pop culture business book, but it’s probably the book which has impacted me professionally the most. It teaches win-win negotiation and taking the emotion out of the discussion. It was first published in 1997 when game theory was still the primary practice (winner takes all at any cost), so innovative too.

You haven’t reviewed a book in AGES, what are you reading? Are you reading?

Surprisingly, I’m reading fewer academic journals than I was expecting. Thank you to Swinburne for being innovative and teaching current practices. However, I just finished the textbook on creativity called Designing for Growth by Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie. It’s not academic and lays out how to bring more innovation into your workplace. But because it’s not academic, it’s impossible to find the quote you’re referencing. I’m also reading Creativity Inc by one of the co-founders of Pixar, Ed Cantwell. It’s about how they formed Pixar and the rules they broke to create the technology and storytelling behind Toy Story.

There have been a couple of novels for fun too. Everything is so busy that I’m skipping my usual podcasts and choosing silence and crashing out with some rather frivolous reads. Adventures of a Vegan Vamp was unexpectedly good. It was a free offer on Amazon in January, but it’s actually well-written. Or maybe it seemed that way because I read it at the start of a fibro flare-up (it’s busy so of course my body will complain). Last night I finished Geekarella by Ashley Poston. It’s a nerdy retelling of Cinderella who cosplays and goes to cons. It’s so adorably sweet, but I would say that when I use my Hogwarts house as a one word personality profile—outside of Harry Potter discussions.

There have been others but those stick in my mind. My friend Laurie gifted me a few Neil Gaiman books on Kindle as a left Seattle (literally: I was on the plane), but his books are amazing because they are complex and amazing and my head can’t cope with it right now. Oh, I also published my latest LinkedIn article this evening, but that’s university and business-nerdy, so I don’t expect you to read that.

Until next time. And you can submit more questions here.


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Featured photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash because I haven’t done a shoot in Melbourne yet.


More about Bianca

Bianca Smith is currently melting her way through her first Australian summer in a rather long time. She hides out in air conditioned libraries reading the novels she stalled on while studying an Executive MBA during the year. When she's not reading (or making websites), she's seeing how far she can run and catching up with her friends in her adopted Seattle.

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