What Has Really Been Going On

I’ve talked at length about what a horrible year this has been, but I’ve been sketchy on the details the whole time. I usually don’t talk about hard stuff on the internet, but it seems fair for anybody reading to have the full picture, rather than the little breadcrumbs I’ve been dropping. So here they are:

I fell through my bathroom floor and injured my leg so badly that I needed 7+ months so far of rehabilitation and it is permanently disfigured (I call it the Zombie Leg because it’s usually grey, sometimes blackish purple). It’s still not 100% in terms of functionality and perhaps never will be again. I’ve been feeling incredibly down about it, and how it’s just another thing to add to the list of my scars and battle wounds and ways that my body is disfigured forever and ever.

In this time, we discovered that Nathan’s standards in housework and meal planning/prepping are not the same as mine (not that he didn’t try – thank you Nathan!), so our house became an overwhelming junk pile of insurmountable trash and we both got really unhealthy from eating takeout all the time. This was going to be the year of getting our health and fitness levels under control, and for the first six months, we went so far backwards – incredibly disheartening.

Something I’m still sore about is how revealing it ended up being about the lack of community around us. Very few people helped out during this time. I get that ‘severe haematoma, sprained knee, lacerations and massive soft tissue damage’ doesn’t sound as dramatic as ‘broken leg’ or whatever, but I was really shocked at the number of people we were supposedly close to who didn’t even care to ask how it was going or if we needed any help. A positive from that is that I have a much clearer idea now of who our real friends are.

Just before Christmas, my grandma went into the emergency department with pneumonia. She never came home and died in April. This was awful, but worse still because there was so much up and down, so much hope and grief drawn out over such a long time… so many months spent dreading every phone call just in case it was the worst. I still miss being able to just call her and ask her questions about gardening or tell her stories about how spoiled my dogs are so she could pretend to disapprove. There are so many stories I’ve never heard or I’m only just learning now, and I know it’s going to be hard in the future when wonderful things happen and I won’t be able to share these things with her. But she was very religious, so if there is a heaven, I know she’d be there, and she’ll just know without me having to say anything.

A few weeks ago, my sisters were in the Lombok earthquake. It was horrendous and there was a full hour where our family thought that we were exchanging the last messages we would ever send to my sisters before they died in a tsunami (tsunamis, or specfically Posie and Rupert being ripped from my arms in a tsunami, is one of my recurring nightmares so it rattled me a lot). They saw so much death and destruction, and I will never forget my sister’s description of the violence of the shaking knocking her to the floor, and running as fast as she could while buildings collapsed all around her. I would never want to say that “my trauma” was anything on the same scale as what they experienced, but it was such a terrifying thing that rippled out from them and really affected me too. My sisters were watching Dante’s Peak this afternoon and making jokes about how unrealistic the earthquake depictions were, but I could barely look at the screen as this huge swell of anxiety surged through me. It’s making me a bit anxious about my Bali trip in nine weeks too.

So there it is. I’m not writing this for pity, mainly so I can stop vague-posting. Life isn’t meant to be wonderful all the time, but it has been a shocking run. I never expected my first year of marriage, especially, to look like this – being a newlywed is supposed to be blissful and fun, not watching your depressed wife lay on the sofa chowing down painkillers for months while your house turns into a hovel. But things are finally turning a corner, and there are exciting things coming up. I have a feeling this next year is going to be the honeymoon year that we didn’t really get to have.

We are going to Bali in October. I’m so excited about this, because originally I was going by myself and was a bit down about it… but Nathan surprised me by taking a few days so we can be together for the first part of the trip. The rest of it will be my writerly retreat of solitude – I am fully planning to eat banana pancakes every day, swim in the pool, nap, read, dodge geckos and get a ton of writing done. I am currently in the planning stages of my novel – I want it all plotted before we go so I can dive straight into it.

Another good thing is that we got a treadmill (I’m calling it the dreadmill). Magpie season is especially bad around here because we live right near a nature reserve, so it will be great to exercise indoors for the next few months and not risk losing an eyeball every time I leave the house. I’m making a plan to be able to run the 5km in the Melbourne Marathon with my sisters in a few months, wish me luck!

It’s our birthday in a few weeks (yes, it’s the same day) and I haven’t got any concrete plans yet, but I think it should be a full treat yo’ self kind of day. I sorta kinda want to go to the Pancake Parlour, even though I always regret it when the food coma hits after drinking those giant soda floats. We’ll see. But I also kinda sorta want to go on safari at the open range zoo. And I sorta kinda also just want to have an at home spa day with Lush bath bombs and expensive body butter, lay around all day in a robe, eat sushi, drink Veuve Clicquot and watch Bridesmaids and How to Make an American Quilt and The Joy Luck Club and Twister (ha). Again, we’ll see. It is Nathan’s birthday too, so I have to balance what I want with what he wants (he’d probably love any of those options, to be honest).

And in April, I’m doing the single biggest thing to date for my writing career by attending Fiona McIntosh’s masterclass in South Australia. I am thrilled that she has such a stellar record of getting attendees on the track to publication, but into really good contracts too. It seems like she has such a knack for knowing how to give people the tools to turn themselves from hopefuls into professionals, so I can’t wait. Next year is going to be the year I sell a novel, I can feel it. When it happens, I’m honestly going to throw myself a party. An excuse to buy some more expensive shoes and wear one of my completely over the top cupcake dresses, if nothing else. I never had an 18th or a 21st, but it seems like such a bigger milestone to celebrate my first novel, so why not?

And of course, we’re building the dream house in about twelve months. I am beyond excited for that. I’m calling it Barbie’s dream house, Nathan is calling it Chateau von Doggeaux. Either way. I will be sad to leave this little house behind, especially because of all the memories, like bringing Posie home for the first time or when we got engaged. But the memories won’t go away just because the house will.

Apart from that, the summer beckons. I love summer, every second of the year that is not summer, I am yearning for it to come back. But this year, I have something that will make it especially fun. This is the one thing I’m not going to be completely upfront about in this post – it wouldn’t make quite the splash if I gave it away before I have photos for the full effect (yes, that is a very big hint!).

This post has made me feel better already. The negatives were horrendous, but the future is bright!

A Lot to Think About

I saw a specialist this week in Melbourne, for something that has been a long time coming. I’m going to be deliberately mysterious on what exactly this whole thing was about, except to say that it is something that has affected me for a long time, will last forever, and will be entering a crucial phase in the next few years. The doctor was a particularly awesome person that, coincidentally, I might run into at writing festivals in the future. But the news she had for me was not the best.

Related, but I love the Father of the Bride movie. I even love its ridiculous sequel too. It’s so comforting to watch those films and think about how perfect Annie’s life is, how she’s so used to everything going perfectly that it turns her world upside down to receive a blender as a gift. Before the age of 25, she studies abroad in Europe, falls in love and has a $100K+ wedding, has a baby, gets her dream job and eventually has really enviable hair. I’m sure for some people, the whole movie would make you want to scream at her to check her privilege, but for me, it’s just kind of like… happy escapism. It would be super if things in my life could all run so smoothly, but the appointment confirmed that a rather big area of my life is going to be a gigantic scary struggle.

Shakespeare (or rather, Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) said “the course of true love never did run smooth” – not just true love, but maybe it’s the case that anything worth fighting for won’t be won easily. I would like to tell myself that I will appreciate things all the more if it was such a battle to have them, but realistically, I’m worried that struggle wears a person down. I don’t want to be worn out, weary and cynical because of my journey – I want to always be optimistic and excited about possibilities. If anybody has a magic potion that can retain this, please let me know.


We were watching the news, nothing particularly remarkable, when the headline flashed across the bottom of the screen – BREAKING NEWS: DAVID BOWIE DEAD AGED 69. My jaw dropped and I felt all the blood rush into my head, hot and dizzying. I couldn’t process what I was seeing, immediately grasping at alternative explanations. It’s a hoax, he’s not dead, he’s just sick, it’s bad reporting, how could it be? I didn’t even know he was sick. Nathan grabbed my hand and said “I’m so sorry, honey” over and over. It was a horrible jolt, from a world where none of my beloved idols were in any immediate peril, to one where I had just lost my hero.

I have loved David Bowie for most of my life. Mum and Dad never really listened to him when I was little, so like most of my generation, my first experience of him was seeing Labyrinth. I was obsessed with that movie. I can’t count how many times I wished, with all my heart, that the goblin king would come and take all my little siblings away. I pranced around the garden in a frilly shirt and jeans reciting lines from the film, made grand plans to attend a masquerade ball in a real hedge maze (vetoed, because I was about 14). Slowly, I discovered the man behind Jareth, and his music. Low was a big part of the soundtrack of my teenage years, particularly the depression of 2003. I loved his costumes, his theatricality, his humour, his multidimensional melodies, his layered lyrics. I loved the way he evolved – so many artists languished in the wake of their seventies stardom and never released anything worthy again, but not David Bowie. His 2004 Reality tour was livestreamed around the world, which I attended with Dad. Even though I never got to see him perform live, I’m so grateful I got to be a part of that experience.

Bowie was never really on Nathan’s radar until I acquainted them. Now, I want Life on Mars? at my funeral and I’m tossing up which song I want at my wedding. Last year for our birthday, we went to the David Bowie Is exhibition while it was at ACMI, which was amazing. I was in awe the entire time, seeing scribblings of familiar lyrics and costumes that I had seen so many times in youtube clips. I loved it, but it made me sad. Even at the time, I wondered about the fact that all things must come to an end, and I have serious doubts about whether world, in its current state, is capable of producing this kind of revolutionary, broadly virtuosic person, of enough stamina to manage a fifty year output, of enough talent to influence so many aspects of culture apart from the one he directly participated in.

So, I’m pretty sad. Somebody on my facebook ranted that it was ridiculous that so many people were sad over David Bowie when they could direct that empathy to something ‘worthier’ like saving a child’s life. At first I didn’t care, but I get madder each time I think about it. Why does my childhood dog dying bring tears to my eyes so many years later, when dogs are put to sleep in shelters every day? Why do people feel sadder when their parent dies, compared with a stranger down the street? It’s so obvious that we care intensely about the people (and animals) that personally touched us, inspired us, helped us, taught us, were beloved by us. David Bowie was my idol, but his music will forever be an undeniable part of the emotional landscape of my life. That’s why I am sad, that’s why I will miss him, like a friend.

failure to launch

So, my one big task for this summer (apart from cleaning my room) was to start a blog. University starts again in about four weeks, and I have failed already. I don’t really have any excuses either, which makes it worse.

What have I done this summer? Not a lot. But I survived it without too many disasters, which is more than I can say for other years.

  • Nathan and I went on our first ever ‘just us’ holiday.
  • We both got to see Hobart for the first time.
  • I am now officially a ‘fairy godmother’.
  • I got all the Christmas shopping done with minimal tears, anxiety or last minute freak-outs.
  • I went to the beach a lot.
  • I spent some time with Dad before he went back to Singapore.
  • And my room is ALMOST clean.
The most entitled dog.
The most entitled dog.

It was nice to just be able to enjoy things for once, rather than coasting from one disaster to the other. There is so much I want to finish in the next few weeks, before the long hard slog of the academic year begins. And even though I have failed so far, I will try my hardest to actually make this blog a thing.

tin can in the sky

I’m getting on a plane tomorrow.

This shouldn’t be a problem, except that it has been a while, and I’m not quite as brave as I used to be.


In our Taiwan days, we flew a lot. One time, my sister Cait and I even flew back to Australia by ourselves. For my tenth birthday, my mother and I flew to Hong Kong for the weekend. When we came back to Australia to live, we were constantly jetting back and forth between Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, to spend time with my dad while he was working interstate.

Fast forward… it’s been a long while, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I suppose I haven’t been on a plane as an adultWish me luck!

EDIT: I survived! It was bizarre.. I’m so used to flying on BIG planes, that I got on the little 737 and was like, “this is it?”. It was one aisle flanked by rows of three seats. Nathan was a total pain by telling me a ‘story’ before we took off, about us crashing into the ocean and dying, and how Posie would miss us forever, and how she’d shed little puppy tears and her little puppy heart would break into a million pieces when she learned that we died in a horrible plane crash. I punched him in the arm.

Though I did get a laugh out of this –


We were in the emergency exit row, so there was extra signage about how we had to open the doors if there was an emergency, etc. I chose to read this a bit differently.

If you can set things on fire with laser beams that shoot from your eyes, don’t look out the window!