May – Taking Stock

I don’t have a lot of exciting things to share right now. Life is a bit of a slog at this time of year, these first few months have been plagued by some unlucky health. And there’s a lot of running around and chores involved in planning a wedding, even a small one. So our weekends aren’t exactly brimming with adventure either. For now, there’s this (inspired by Pip Lincolne‘s lists).

Making : lots of lists, about all sorts of things – pre-surgery house cleaning plans, shopping lists, wedding to-do lists, timelines, lots of things
Cooking : this spicy rice dish that is sort of a cross between nasi goreng and paella – it’s really good, I’ll write up the recipe some time
Drinking : a lot of milk lately, which Nathan is pleased about (he’s always strangely concerned about me getting enough calcium)
Reading : not a great deal at the moment, unfortunately, but I have The Girl on the Train lined up for my recovery period next week
Trawling : through criticism and analysis about The Handmaid’s Tale
Wanting : to skip the next few weeks
Looking : around this utter trash-pile of a house and trying to figure out where to start
Deciding : what to wear for the wedding
Wishing : that I didn’t have TN and it wasn’t even a consideration for this whole wisdom teeth thing
Enjoying : Mother’s Day chocolates (thanks P+R)
Waiting : fitfully, nervously, miserably, anxiously… this awful anticipation is not fun at all
Liking : the fact that I made beef and spinach curry for Mother’s Day for Nathan’s family, and his grandmother (who never eats red meat) not only ate it and enjoyed it, but had seconds – such a win
Wondering : whether Tim and Eric are exploiting some of the people on their show, and feeling a bit weird about it
Loving : the way the light filters through the batik quilt that I am using as a makeshift curtain in the bedroom at the moment, until I get new proper curtains
Pondering : all the things I have to get organized and ready for surgery
Listening : to Carmen
Considering : whether my new Fitbit needs a firmware update or whether it’s just faulty 🙁
Buying : mermaid makeup brushes, because of course
Watching : The Handmaid’s TaleTim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!
Hoping : that everything goes well next week; that I don’t vomit after general anaesthetic; that I don’t end up with nerve damage; that I don’t end up with holes in my sinuses; that I don’t end up just bursting into tears like a wimp
Marvelling : at what a total blessing it is to have a heater that actually works on these cold days
Cringing : at how much sugar I have consumed lately, and how it equals instant bad skin
Needing : to do a lot of work on the garden this week
Questioning : how many beds these dogs can possibly own (we’re at eight right now, but it’s more common for them to just lay on the floor instead)
Wearing : the warmest, coziest merino cardigan
Noticing : how you get a much clearer sense of people when you see the way they act when they think nobody is watching
Knowing : that the most likely scenario is that everything will be okay
Thinking : about Bali in September, and hoping we’ll get to see a mola mola
Admiring : Nathan’s handsome face (he shaved his beard off recently on a whim, like he always does) + Joanna Lumley for just being her brilliant self
Getting : new socks, new nighties, new pajama pants, seeing as I’ll be spending a little while on the couch
Bookmarking : fancy restaurants to go to for our birthday (a big one for me!)
Disliking : this new phase of Rupert’s age-related decline – he might have to go on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds, big sigh
Opening : important emails + boxes of nurofen
Closing : my eyes every night but barely sleeping
Feeling : scared, sad, lonely, freaked out, agitated, anxious, raw, jittery and in need of constant distraction
Hearing : again, finally – the jaw infection made my ears so blocked up
Celebrating : Mother’s Day + Jennifer and Dad’s birthdays
Pretending : that all things are within my control
Embracing : being the queen of getting cheap airfares (between now and March, it’ll be Brisbane, Bali, Singapore, Sydney and the Gold Coast  – yay but bring on the valium)

April – Taking Stock


Inspired by Pip Lincolne‘s lists, here’s mine for April. It’s hard this month because I would have answers for things like fearing, dreading, worrying or ignoring – these more positive things are a bit of a challenge right now. Photo describes my Wednesday. I knew there was a reason that I take so many silly face selfies!

Making : silly plans for Easter baskets for Nathan and the dogs.
Cooking : Italian meatballs, that turned out rubbish… sigh.
Drinking : a lot of hot tea.
Reading : everything about second wave feminism for the thesis.
Trawling : Pinterest for wedding dresses.
Wanting : a mansion, a lifetime of free plane tickets, immortality potions for the dogs and a couple million dollars – you know, the usual stuff.
Looking : forward, not back.
Deciding : that sometimes I need to be accommodating of other people’s feelings, but sometimes they need to be accommodating of mine.
Wishing : that I had a personal butler.
Enjoying : pineapple cakes that Dad brought back from Taipei.
Waiting : always waiting.
Liking : that I received a cardigan in the mail today that was vacuum packed so it was completely flat and fit into a envelope rather than a packet.
Wondering : whether Lipsense is as good as everybody says.
Loving : that Nathan slipped a punnet of strawberries into the shopping basket as a little surprise for me, even though he hates them.
Pondering : whether there is a way to store (freezing?) the overripe bananas in the kitchen that are only really good for muffin making.
Listening : to our exceptionally loud heater.
Considering : the pros and cons of Dad potentially moving to Taipei.
Buying : a special secret present for Nathan that he is not allowed to know about.
Watching : (or wishing I was watching) The Handmaid’s Tale.
Hoping : that the Easter bunny will skip the chocolate this year, but will leave something extra special in the backyard instead (unlikely).
Marvelling : at how some things turn out exactly as they are supposed to.
Cringing : (at 3am when I can’t sleep) at all the stupid things I’ve ever done.
Needing : to do some serious yard work so I’m not embarrassed anytime people come to the door.
Questioning : why I like disaster movies so much, even though they are mostly awful.
Smelling : my freshly washed hair.
Wearing : a weird haphazard assortment of summer and winter clothes because the weather can’t make up its mind.
Noticing : and noting the people who only contact you when they want something.
Knowing : that next time we buy a house, lack of linen closet is a dealbreaker.
Thinking : about a new (old) hair colour.
Admiring : a particular wedding dress that is simply far too beautiful and probably way too expensive to even think about.
Getting : some weird allergic symptoms lately, that we think is from some plant in the neighbourhood that must be unusually vigorous in this strange weather.
Bookmarking : news articles that make me mad, so I can show Nathan and we can get mad about them together.
Disliking : how many trips to the vet we’re making these days.
Opening : my closet and wondering whether dresses multiply in the dark.
Closing : cans of worms that are better left unopened.
Feeling : very scattered right now, there are so many things competing for my attention.
Hearing : my senior next door neighbours playing extremely loud dance music for some reason.
Celebrating : that it’s Friday. Not that this weekend is particularly exciting.
Pretending : I didn’t post a #throwbackthursday photo a day early by mistake. 🙂
Embracing : socks and ugg boots.

And a few more:

Biting : the hell out of my chapped lips right now in this in-between-y weather.
Craving : some intangible food that probably doesn’t exist, but it’s frustrating because everything else tastes like sawdust and wallpaper paste in the meantime.
Rejoicing : that I seem to be TN free right now!
Realizing : how my biggest doses of unluckiness seem to be balanced out by some supremely awesome luckiness.


I’m doing some writing prompts by Ann Dee Ellis. Eight minutes, unrehearsed or edited. Today’s theme is birthdays – and I actually did this one twice, about two mostly unrelated things:

Nathan has this story that he loves to tell the dogs, about the days that they were born. Apparently we were there when they were born, they came out of my tummy and we brought them home from the hospital wrapped in blankets. He cradles Rupert like a baby and tells him this story over and over in a voice full of interesting pitches – the dogs love it. They will listen intently, tilting their heads with curiosity every time they hear unusual words or phrases that sound like things they already know.

It does make me a little sad that we weren’t there for their birth days. Posie would have looked like a little naked pink baby rat. Who knows what Rupert would have looked like – he is so obviously the runt of the litter, with his weirdly disproportionate paws and his health issues.

I’ve written about it before, but their birthdays each year are filling me with dread these days. One year closer to the finish line, one more year has slipped away, never to return, reminding me of how few years we will get to spend together in the narrative of my whole life. We will never own dogs like these ones again. There might be other great dogs in our future, but nobody will be Posie or Rupert, ever again. It makes me so sad to know that I will have to go on and live the rest of my life without them, but I should feel so lucky that I got to have them at all – out of all the dogs, we got the perfect ones for us.

They really are the best dogs.


Nathan and I share a birthday. Four years apart. What are the odds? 1/365 if all dates are given equal weighting, which they shouldn’t be (more babies are born in September, more babies are born on certain days of the week, etc). So, depending on various factors, it’s probably a less than 1/365 chance. But it still blows people’s minds. It really amazes me how many people don’t even have a basic understanding of statistical probability. For example, did you know that a pregnant woman only has a 3.99% chance of spontaneously going into labour on her due date but she has a 50% chance of already having delivered by that point? These are the statistics that drive people mad, because if it deviates from their anecdotal experience (or those of people they know) even slightly or they can’t wrap their head around the numbers for whatever reason, they will insist that the whole study is wrong.

This really has nothing to do with birthdays, does it? 🙂

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.

Review: Hidden Figures

I have been so slack with seeing movies this summer. So many things that I wanted to see were gone from the cinema before I got a chance to see them, though I wanted to see Jackie and it didn’t even play near me. But last night I got to see Hidden Figures. I went with Jennifer and Mum, to watch a film about women for International Women’s Day. 🙂

Basically, the film is based (extremely loosely) on a true story and details three genius women working at NASA in the early days, with the Civil Rights Movement and anti-Russian space race paranoia as a backdrop. They come up against endless barriers and obstacles because of their sex and colour, but all three prevailed and went on to become celebrated pioneers and heroes in their field. They are Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson).

The script was not great. The dialogue was often clichéd, or just failed to hit the right notes at what could have been really meaningful moments. There was one moment early in the film where they give a visualization of Katherine’s mathematical prowess, as she sees the geometric tiles from a mosaic rise off the surface. But after that, apart from a lot of impressive chalkboard equations, it didn’t really touch again in any creative way on how uniquely gifted her mind was. Some of the music was great – I loved the era-appropriate songs and the gospel-tinged score, but I felt like the modern music that was inserted here and there was a bit jarring and took away from the period setting – whenever it happened, suddenly it felt a lot more like modern day actresses playing with costumes rather than a true account of a time and place.

Now, the performances. Let me start with the positives! Octavia Spencer was amazing, as she always is. There is a scene where she personally delivers her work to Kirsten Dunst’s character’s office, only to be stared at with disdain by all the white female staff and treated like a delivery girl. With just her amazingly expressive face, she conveyed so much about the frustration, disappointment, indignity and injustice of the situation, while maintaining a professional facade. It was an amazing moment later in the film when those same women who looked down on her are shepherded into the new computer department that she manages, to be taught by her – I was just about bursting with pride and happiness for her at this part.

In the opening scene, I got bad vibes from Janelle Monáe. I only know her as a musician, so I wasn’t expecting much, and honestly just expected her to be playing herself. But she got better and better as the movie went on. She was playful and feisty, and aside from her performance, she rocked all the vintage styled clothes. I loved how spirited she was and how she wouldn’t take no for an answer – gumption is the word I’m looking for. I’d love to see her in more movies in the future.

Now the bad part. I could not warm to Taraji P. Henson, at all. The biggest reason sounds ridiculous, but it’s totally legitimate – her eyebrows did not move, not even once. They are utterly frozen, inches above her eyes, in this weirdly angular Joan Crawford approximation. It was so distracting, but apart from that, it took so much emotion away from her face during what should have been crucial moments. Actresses of the world – please do not get Botox. Your face is your craft – please show us how angry or sad or calm or happy you are, don’t just tell us with a frozen face. The other part that got on my nerves about her performance was how she changed her voice and her whole demeanour whenever her boyfriend-then-husband was around. It was literally this sugary, simpering, dumb, baby porno voice. It just didn’t gel at all with the fact that she was meant to be such a genius as well as an incredibly strong woman.

She kind of wrecked the movie for me. I could intellectually relate to the horrible discrimination that she faced and feel bad about it, but I couldn’t empathize with her as much as the other two characters because she just didn’t seem to inhabit her character and feel their emotions like Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe did. There have been studies that show that Botox reduces the ability of users to empathize with others, and maybe an additional part of that is that people are less likely to empathize with them.

The movie was pretty standard in being a feel-good, inspirational type story, even if it’s claim to be ‘a true story’ was tenuous at best… which is sad, because the real life stories of these three women are insanely interesting, but they just don’t come together as such a conveniently neat narrative as this film required. A lot of the racial and gender issues that the characters faced could have been ripped from today’s headlines in America, which was a powerful comment on how there has been progress, but there is still a hell of a fight ahead for everybody. Parts of the movie were great, but other parts of it were just a bit ham-fisted and under developed. Octavia Spencer deserved every bit of her Oscar nomination, but I am puzzled about why this was up for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay – it was good but not great, and certainly not amazing.


How do you plan a multi-course meal, served sharing style, attended by a group of people that includes individuals who don’t eat seafood, don’t eat pork, probably won’t eat anything not cooked within an inch of its life? Raise the stakes and picture this meal happening at an modern Asian restaurant that serves a lot of seafood and raw food. And now add in a few diabetics, a few allergies, and one person who doesn’t eat: pasta, red meat, pork, seafood, mushrooms, spicy food, unusual food, or Asian food in general. How is it possible to navigate this kind of thing without giving up and going to Pizza Hut (although I’m sure there would still be something wrong with even that)? I feel like legitimate allergies should always be catered for, and after that, people are allowed to just not like one or two things each – that’s fine. I don’t like eggs or coffee, but have been known to consume both to be polite (and try not to gag on the egg) if people who didn’t know served them to me. But we have a wedding menu to plan, and I really don’t see a way through this other than gently planting the possibility that certain people might need to grab a baguette or something between the ceremony and the dinner. Is that too mean? Or is that the only way that we’re going to get through this? Is this one of those wedding things where somebody is going to be offended or have their nose out of joint, no matter what we do?

Less than six months to go. Very scary.

Best Dogs

Posie and Rupert are the best little dogs. We took them to the rehabilitation hospital to visit Patrick and we all sat on the shady lawns together – P+R were so well behaved and everybody adored them. I always thought that Rupert would make a good therapy dog if he could just grasp basic commands and learn to not pee on anything resembling a pole. Posie loved jumping all over Patrick’s bed. How great is it that dogs are allowed in the hospital? I wish they were allowed in every hospital.

Aside from that, it’s back to the grindstone. I’ve switched my thesis from a creative piece + exegesis to a straight critical thesis, which feels like a cop out, but it’s kind of a relief. I just couldn’t find a bridge between the two parts I was working on, and neither of them was willing to compromise. The new thesis is basically an extension of the exegesis I was working on, but now I have to figure out ways to make it have finesse and be fleshy. It can be lonely devoting so much brain power to something that you can never talk about in any great depth with anybody else. Like when you are planning a wedding or having a baby or starting a new job, nobody cares about your wedding/baby/job/thesis as much as you do. That doesn’t mean they don’t care at all, but nobody is going to be as intimate with and invested in the details as you, and it can be isolating. Which is why it’s so important to stay interested in other things. I need to get my skates on and read more this year. I want to cook my way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cookinga la Julie Powell. I want to take a painting class. I want to teach myself how to use my big camera, once and for all, and I want to get some special lenses for it. I want to start running again and be one of those annoying people that brags about times. Lots of things to do. If only I had a few more lifetimes to do everything.

There is some bad news too – it looks like we will be postponing our super exciting European adventure for twelve months. I’ve mentioned it before, but this year is an absolute killer. In the next six months, I have to plan a wedding, finish my thesis, figure out my PhD application, do major renovations on the house, and a number of other things. I just don’t have the time or energy to devote to planning something amazing right now. If I’m only going to have one honeymoon, I don’t want to end up regretting not having worked harder on it. It’s a big trip, it costs so much just to fly there from Australia, so I really want to make the trip worthwhile once we actually get there. So the new plan is that next year on our 1+11 year anniversary, we’ll do it. And having had an entire year to plan it properly, it will be everything it deserves to be. And we might skulk around Bali for a little bit at the end of the year to console ourselves in the meantime! 🙂


We went snorkelling yesterday at Eastern Beach. It was a bit cool, so it was practically empty – which was great, because we got to see some fish that normally would have been scared away. The water was kind of murky, which is to be expected in the bay where it’s not getting churned up and refreshed by waves all the time, but it was nice.

I got to try out my merfin for the first time ever in the ocean! I’m still rubbish at snorkelling and copped a mouthful of saltwater more than once. Nathan is pretty renowned for being a stick in the mud when it comes to leaving the house and actually doing things, but this time, he was really enthusiastic and ended up loving it. I loved it too, I always love to be in the water whenever I can be, even if I am afraid of seaweed.

March – Taking Stock

Inspired by Pip Lincolne’s list, here’s mine for March (even though we’ve just begun) –

Making : a year long to-do list with lots of mini-deadlines along the way
Cooking : pork chops and asparagus and roasted tomatoes for a very late lunch that is also kind of dinner too
Drinking : I had a pickleback (a shot of whisky then a shot of pickle juice) the other night, and it was WOAH
Reading : not very much, unfortunately – my book list is a wasteland right now
Trawling : through my wardrobe to find clothes to donate to thrift stores – everything takes up too much space
Wanting : to skip all this hard weight loss stuff and just magically arrive at the maintenance phase – that would be so much easier to live with
Looking : at recipes to make for Easter, like gingerbread cheesecake
Deciding : finally that I am going to lay bricks on my driveway and paths, by hand, because I didn’t need anything else on my plate…
Wishing : that I had the funds to hire an assistant who would oversee and direct all house-related renovations and landscaping so I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed by it all
Enjoying : the beach, as much as I can before it gets cold
Waiting : for my brother to get out of hospital
Liking : the new floral boots I got this week, even if the whole buying process was a gigantic drag
Wondering : what I should cook to use up the half a bottle of white wine in the fridge
Loving : white peaches right now – they are seriously perfect
Pondering : whether this blog should be private, since nobody but me ever reads it
Listening : to Radiohead
Considering : how best to help somebody without making things worse for them
Buying : new underwear for Nathan so he will finally let go of his worst, raggiest, baggiest underwear
WatchingMoana (okay but a bit disappointing) and Pearl Harbor (pretty rubbish)
Hoping : that I can somehow find the perfect wedding dress in time for September
Marvelling : at all the crazy baby names on the Bonds Baby Search (it’s my annual sport)
Cringing : at how invested I am in the lives of horrible strangers on television
Needing : to weed the garden bed around my struggling camellia
Questioning : whether my thesis topic is strong enough this time
Smelling : the faint scent of wine, butter and leeks still in the kitchen from this week’s French cooking adventures
Wearing : all my Bali clothes while the weather is still warm enough – shorts every day!
Noticing : that my skin goes to hell when I eat bad food
Knowing : that unfortunately my body is too lumpy and untoned to wear the new tank dresses I thought were going to be indispensible basics
Thinking : about my thesis, forever and ever
Admiring : my little counter top mushroom box and how all those mushrooms double in size in the space of a single day
Getting : riled up on behalf of poor people getting ripped apart in internet comments, despite not even participating myself
Bookmarking : about one or two chapters in – all the books that I have started and not finished in the last few months
Disliking : sore hamstrings from doing high kicks while I was dancing around the house yesterday
Opening : all the letter that have been piling up on the television cabinet for weeks
Closing : browser tabs that contain articles or debates that just make me angry about the world
Feeling : a little all over the place right now – yesterday was pretty rubbish
Hearing : all the zooming, rumbling and roaring of the nearby Avalon Airshow
Celebrating : the fact that I successfully browned mushrooms in butter instead of having them collapse into a flaccid, sweaty, pale mess (Julia Child would be proud)
Pretending : that Rupert’s unfortunate nighttime biting habit is a result of him being a shellshocked WWI veteran and having war flashbacks (this is the story we tell him)
Embracing : going back to uni next week, even if I don’t feel (and will never feel) completely ready

Three’s a Crowd

Today, we have three dogs.



[Missing, last seen scurrying under the sofa]

And Decima:

I’m babysitting, so it’s a little crazy around here. Deci will not stop crying, Rupert must be sitting on me at all times in a display of dominance, and poor little Posie is so out of sorts that she is hiding under the furniture. P+R are not exactly ‘doggy’ dogs and prefer their own company or to be with humans, whereas Decima has pretty bad attachment anxiety so she cries constantly and follows you like a shadow. Posie is so unsettled by Deci’s big swinging tail because it’s at the exact height to hit her in the face, and Rupert’s little internal turf wars always result in some growling. Deci cannot relax until Nathan is home, because she really relies on an ‘alpha’ male figure to feel secure. It’s not ideal. They all tend to get along a thousand times better when they are together at Mum’s house, but not here.

I would love a house filled with dogs, but even three is so stressful. Maybe it’s just this particular mix and how sporadically they are thrown together, but it’s hard work. Feeding them is like the scene from Jurassic World where Chris Pratt takes on the trio of velociraptors. I can’t even go to the bathroom without at least two of them tagging along or crying outside the door if I dare shut it. I can’t even walk around my own house without everybody getting unsettled and panicking about whether I’m going somewhere. Deci is great, but I’m really looking forward to handing her back at the end of the night and getting to snuggle my own dogs again.