Three’s a Crowd

Today, we have three dogs.

Rupert:

Posie:

[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.

Runaway

My brother is still in hospital. I still haven’t figured out exactly what to do about my thesis. I still haven’t got a haircut. I still need to weed the entire garden. I still haven’t picked a photographer or an officiant for the wedding. I am still on a weight loss plateau. Our house is still messy and unrenovated. I’m still drowning in clutter. I’m still finding that it takes all my mental energy to figure out healthy meals every day.

So, basically: BLAUEUURRGGH.

Can’t I run away to Bali already? I’m such a bogan – it will be the first time in four years that I haven’t spent at least a week there, but I really love it there. I’ve been brainstorming all sorts of hare-brained schemes to facilitate a mid-winter escape. It would be so nice to go to my favourite hotel in Ubud and lounge around in the sunshine in quiet solitude. I would actually take my laptop this time and get huge amounts of work done during the hottest part of the day, then swim for hours, drink watermelon juice and eat green papaya salad every day. I could do yoga and ride a bike through the Monkey Forest, now that I’ve decided it’s not so scary after all.

I wouldn’t have to talk to anybody if I didn’t want to. I could just write and read all day. No demands, no deadlines, no schedule other than the sun rising and setting each day.

It’s a nice daydream, but…

Must. Stay. On. Task.

Statues and Stories

I’ve hinted more than a few times, but I guess it’s time to let the (still hypothetical) cat out of the bag – we’re planning a big honeymoon adventure. For a few reasons:

  1. I’ve never been to Europe, and Nathan hasn’t been (except to the UK) in a very long time.
  2. You only get one honeymoon, if all goes to plan.
  3. So far we’ve only traveled to Japan, Bali, Hobart and Sydney together – we need to branch out.
  4. We have some other post-wedding plans that will change life as we know it forever, and big trips like this will suddenly get a lot harder, a lot more expensive and a lot less romantic.
  5. The more I travel, the more I feel like I have stepped into so many different lives, and the more I have to write about.
  6. It will be so much fun!

Our vague plan at this stage is completely subject to change, but involves France, Italy and the UK. We’re still not sure how many weeks away from work is feasible for both of us, or what the best itinerary is. But we would love to see Paris, Normandy, Versailles and Alsace, then do a road trip south through various cities and villages, ending up somewhere like Nice. We will probably catch trains a lot in Italy; we want to see Rome, Positano, Pompeii, Pisa, Napoli, Capri, Sorrento and of course Florence. In the UK we have a few people to visit, but I basically have the world’s longest list of literary landmarks and locations to see – gonna get my Jane Austen on, for sure.

And I will listen to The Light in the Piazza the whole time and wear 1950s skirts, a straw hat and little gloves.

Finish

I’m doing some writing prompts by Ann Dee Ellis. Eight minutes, unrehearsed or edited. Today, the theme is ‘finish’:

My best friend Sarah and I used to be (and still are, a bit) obsessed with The Sims. As teenagers, we would make ourselves as a couple of cool twenty-somethings with awesome jobs and cute boyfriends, sharing a god awful apartment with fish tanks and zebra print sofas in every room. Really it was just daydreaming out loud about how brilliant we imagined it would be to be a grown-up. Then we got more ambitious and started building mega mansions (thank you rosebud cheat!). I discovered user created content, like gothic skin tones and Shania Twain hairstyles – it was great, but I do wonder how many total hours I wasted playing the game rather than actually living my real life. I would always make a Sim who was the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the most creative; then I would build her an ultimate dream house, paying attention to every single detail.

The problem is that whenever I finished these dream houses, I could never bring myself to actually play. It felt like my work was done, that I had set up this perfect life for this perfect girl, and everything after that was going to be broken sinks, burglars, and romantic failures. When I look back now, I guess The Sims was just an extension of something I used to do when I was even younger – I would spend hours drawing out detailed maps of my dream bedroom. Hot pink and orange silks hung from the ceiling, a retro egg chair, a perfectly round bed covered in fake fur cushions and teddies, inflatable bubble armchairs, a rotating Clueless wardrobe full of platform boots and mini skirts, a television that doubled as a fish tank (I really liked fish tanks as a kid for some reason), every wall a bookshelf to the ceiling, personal Tamagotchi nurse for when I was sleeping or at school, and an antechamber full of cushions that would be ‘the puppy room’ where my imaginary Pomeranian called Spunky would lounge around all day. It was going to be awesome. And my friends and I would each be assigned a particular colour that matched our personality (I was always pink) and I would have matching satin pajamas ready for us whenever they came for sleepovers.

Like my Sims mansions, I would slave over the details until everything was perfect. But as soon as it was finished, I lost interest. It was like I had exhausted myself on that particular daydream and it was time to move on to something new.

Luckily for Nathan, my taste has changed a bit in the last twenty years, which is something I never could have predicted as a nine year old. I suppose most people are so settled in whatever shape their personality takes at a particular moment that they can’t comprehend the core of themselves changing radically in the future. But there is no ‘finished’, for anybody, and I’m glad – what a drag it would be to get everything perfect, finished and nailed down, and then lose interest in the messy, constantly evolving act of living in the real world.

Little Bits: Knit, Bark, Break, Swim

Photo from B*witched concert. Just before some girl spilled her entire bourbon and coke down the back of my dress, all over my legs and in my shoes. And then draped herself all over me saying, “I’m sooooo sorry baaaabe”. Not impressed.

  • I desperately need a haircut. Like.. I haven’t touched my hair since October. My fringe (unless I hairspray it like crazy) is like sad little curtains hanging down by the sides of my face, like pigtails on a dog. The situation is dire.
  • Posie will not stop barking. It’s absolutely incessant. It seems like everybody in our street is having deliveries or renovations done – she doesn’t like the squeaks and beeps of trucks and vans. I feel sorry for our neighbours that have to listen to her constant barking, as well as me yelling at her to stop barking all day. I feel so bad having to get angry at her all the time especially when, in her mind, she’s just being an exemplary guard dog.
  • I’m knitting again, finally. The emerald cotton Debbie Bliss moss stitch cardigan that I started last year has disappeared off the face of the earth, so I’m trying something a little simpler, a little quicker (so I can get it finished before I lose this as well). A cherry red pixie pointed baby bonnet. It’s extremely cute, and I’m such a slow knitter that if I want my future children to have anything finished by the time they arrive, I need to be knitting now!
  • I really don’t think that Adele needed to ‘share’ her Grammy with Beyoncé. I hate that she felt that she needed to or that she should. She had every right to be fully proud of herself and herself only without deferring to a ridiculous cult of personality that is based around a whole lot of hype and a flimsy talent. Adele is the real deal, she deserved all of that award.
  • Our wedding plans have changed drastically again. It was becoming apparent that we would have to choose between certain things, and we basically chose ourselves. Some people are going to think this is selfish, and I guess it is – but selfish doesn’t always mean bad. And on our wedding day, the only essential people are Nathan and I because we’re the ones getting married – everybody else is a non-essential bonus, their presence is a privilege for us and for them. If we are the most important people in this equation, why shouldn’t we choose what we want?
  • My brother Patrick has a broken leg from tripping over. I feel awful, and I’m sure that my parents do as well, because it’s been broken for over a week and he only just got medical attention for it. Which is mostly his own fault because he wouldn’t go to the doctor (he has an intellectual disability, so these things can be a huge challenge). But how awful to be laying in bed with a broken leg for a week, with only Panadol for the pain.
  • I went snorkelling last weekend with Dad. It was a little scary – sea grass and seaweed freaks me out a bit, after my Poppy told me a ‘fact’ about how seaweed was a creature that would wrap around your ankles and try to drown you, given the chance. But we saw some fish! Black and white stripy reef fish that flitted and hid from us.
  • Posie and Rupert now have their own instagram account, due to popular request. Now that they are Famous on the Internet™, I’ll have to get a bit creative about taking photos of them!

Schmalentine’s Day

To all the lovers: happy Valentine’s Day! And to everybody else, treat yo self. It’s a rule.

We had romantic plans of a yoga class and dinner, but Nathan had a work commitment and didn’t get home in time. Instead, it was pizza on the couch, watching the worst kind of television while I knitted. So romantic. But I suppose you can’t get to ten years without having a lacklustre Valentine’s Day here and there – at least it was better than last year, when I had food poisoning and Posie had just ruptured a disc. The new plan is to go out for dinner later in the week – there is a French restaurant in town that I have wanted to go to for a million years but never had the chance. And to be mysterious for a second, I probably should get some practice eating French food in the next few months… 🙂

To make up for not being able to go out, Nathan brought me a little gift that he snuck out of work at lunchtime to buy. It was a Harry Potter wand that you can program to change the television channel or volume. Extremely nerdy, but extremely fun. There is a story that goes along with this – when we were in Tokyo, we went to a game arcade. One of the machines had a Fantastical Beasts wand as the prize, and I was desperate to win it. I emptied my coin purse and even got change for notes so I could win this damn wand. The girls who were staffing the venue even unlocked the machine to nudge the wand a bit to give me a better chance of winning, but I still couldn’t get it. I spent more than $20 to get nothing, which is so stupid.

But best of all was the card that I got. The front is stitched felt characters of bacon and eggs, in love. Inside he wrote a lot of things, but the best part said: “loving you makes me so happy”. Loving you makes me so happy too, Bugalugs!

Mixtape: A Particular Moment

It’s weird how the internet works – I can’t actually write the title for this post that I wanted, because I know it will attract all sorts of spam. But basically, this is the ultimate mixtape of my 10-14 year old self.

Rules: it has to be what I was listening to at that time, preferably taped onto a cassette straight from the radio after I’d spent all night on the phone, on hold, waiting to request it. Bonus points if I saved together my pocket money to buy the single (even more points if it was a weird Taiwan-only release). And most points of all to the song that I sang on the radio to win a pair of Wrangler jeans in 1998 – you have to guess which song!


If you can’t see the spotify widget, it’s because I still haven’t figured out a way to make it appear on mobile versions of the site and feeds like bloglovin’. Working on it!

February – Taking Stock

Inspired by Pip Lincolne’s list, here’s mine for February (even though we’re not even halfway through) –

Making : tentative honeymoon plans
Cooking : everything from scratch and with limited ingredients, which is sometimes great and other times it’s a gigantic expensive pain
Drinking : only water, unfortunately (we saw chocolate milk in the supermarket the other day and nearly cried)
Reading : a Jackie Kennedy biography that I started years ago, and abandoned as soon as it got to the funeral bit
Trawling : through the neverending chaos on our dining table, so many things still not unpacked from Japan
Wanting : to just go to the beach every day
Looking : at the tendril of wisteria that has worked its way into our living room through a gap in the window
Deciding : what barely edible low carb food to spend hours cooking tomorrow
Wishing : that I could eat all the bread and soft cheese I wanted and still lose weight
Enjoying : the last few weeks of freedom before it’s back into honours coursework
Waiting : until I get a bonus point on this awful diet so I can eat some cheese, but…
Liking : that I have actually lost some weight so far and I have a single chin again
Wondering : whether the minor TN that is bothering me today is going to explode into another week of horrible attacks
Loving : all the roses in bloom in my garden right now
Pondering : some big decisions regarding the wedding
Listening : to Swan Lake, over and over
Considering : whether the risk of terrorism in France is enough to put me off traveling there
Buying : (or planning to buy) bulk bulbs to plant in Autumn
Watching : Martha Stewart (good) and Married at First Sight (bad)
Hoping : that the camellia that Dad gave me can just hang on through the rest of summer and lay down some good roots in autumn
Marvelling : at the sheer volume of Christmas stuff we own, now that it’s all in giant tubs that have nowhere to live (we need a garage)
Cringing : at the general state of affairs in the US right now, not that our government is much better
Needing : somebody to come and repair my television aerial
Questioning : whether the living room should stay charcoal, or whether all-white-scandi-everything is just a fad
Smelling : the heady perfume of the rose bush that Grandma got me, every time I open the front door
Wearing : a peachy pink ombre swing dress from Bali that Nathan said “really brings out your eyes”
Noticing : that the more effort I put into my skin, the better it looks
Knowing : that I need to get my skates on with this novel and with my thesis – even one alone is a huge undertaking, but doing both at the same time is scarily big for anybody, but especially for me and my long history of collapsing in a heap whenever I have too much weight on my shoulders
Thinking : about planting an apricot tree in Posie’s Forest (aka Rupert’s Wood)
Admiring : NASA and the EPA and the Parks Service for their committment to science and truth in the face of dangerous fascism
Getting : over not being able to eat any cheese (they actually did studies that proved that cheese is as addictive as cocaine, so this is serious, okay?)
Bookmarking : articles about how to force tulip bulbs in an indoor glass vase
Disliking : that my finger is still bruised from mis-catching a falling Vegemite jar
Opening : packages, containing French and Italian phrasebooks
Closing : the door to my incredible messy office – out of sight, out of mind
Feeling : thinner than a couple of weeks ago, but still at least a third fatter than I should be
Hearing : Posie barking endlessly at some tradesmen working on next door’s chimney
Celebrating : little everyday victories – last week, it was a major triumph to even have a shower… the fact that I could even do that was worth celebrating
Pretending : that I’m not a little sad that if everything had gone to plan in 2016, that I would have another graduation ceremony coming up in a couple of months
Embracing : the fact that I’m turning into a bit of a plant lady (no such thing as too many plants)

And I’m adding a couple of my own…

Fearing : sharks, especially because Dad and I are going snorkelling on the weekend (which will be the first chance to try out my new awesome pink gear)
Accepting : that there will be times when I will fail or stumble, and that’s okay so long as it’s a comma and not a full stop
Worrying : about people being angry or upset by some of our wedding plans, but also recognizing that I really shouldn’t care what anybody else thinks apart from Nathan
Enjoying : the fact that even the smallest amount of the right exercise can have a marked impact in a short time
Daydreaming : about how nice it would be to fly first class, just once
Plotting : what sort of traveling I want to do and the places I want to see in the next five years, and wondering how that will fit in with everything else I’ve got planned

Little Bits + Posie in the Gardens

I was baking my own tortilla chips earlier today (curse this horrid diet). They had to be cooked in several batches because our oven is awful and wrecks every baking tray we put in it. Now, I can’t shake this edgy feeling that something is still in the oven that I have to babysit or else it will burn.

Aside from that, 2017 reading is not going very well. My particular brain chemistry situation is a blessing and a curse; if a book catches me at the right moment, I will devour it in a day and not stop for anything. The rest of the time, I will start a page with good intentions then find myself flying right over paragraphs without picking up a hint of meaning – then I backtrack and the same thing happens all over again. All while suddenly wondering about whether the word ‘dandelion’ refers to different species of plant in different regions, or daydreaming about delicious Alsatian (the region, not the dog) cuisine that I read about the other day, feeling the urge to google why I always get eczema on my left foot but never my right. ANYWAY.

We took the pups to Ballarat on the weekend and it was an experience. We may need to just concede defeat that they are never going to sit nicely with their seatbelts on when there is an alternative of jumping all over me. Also, the air conditioner refused to work the whole time except for the last five minutes, so I turned up sweaty, windblown and covered in dog hair to an extended family picnic. That was great. Posie loved the Botanical Gardens – she is a dog that must smell every flower.

I’m so glad we finally have a working air conditioner in our house. Last night, we set up an inflatable mattress in the living room because it was seriously like 28°C outside at midnight, and our bedroom would have been much hotter. I watched Martha Stewart’s Cooking School until 2am, drooling over things that I don’t even like. Why do eggs always look so delicious, even though I know I don’t like them? They are so sensual in their silkiness, the way that the yolk oozes and coats everything like a perfect sauce. Even scrambled, Martha Stewart managed to make something that looked cheesy-without-cheese, fluffy and gorgeous. I kind of hate that I don’t like eggs. It’s so ridiculous and I will confess that I think it’s silly when people write off an entire food category not for an allergy but simply because they don’t like it. Eggs look so good, but I know that as soon as that texture gets in my mouth, I will gag. It’s an irrational, uncontrollable response. Sometimes I can trick myself by making scrambled eggs with so much cheese, bacon and herbs that I can’t even really taste the egg, but egg by itself, I will always gag or throw up. I can dip soldiers into egg yolk, I can eat Hollandaise and meringue, but there is something about eggs by themselves (probably the whites) that I just can’t handle. But that’s going to change. 2017 will be the year that I eat an egg, all by itself. And I will enjoy it. Baby steps though – I’m going to start with frittatas and omelettes first. But I’m determined to be a person that likes eggs, especially since I am hassling Nathan to get some backyard chickens.

Games

I’m doing some writing prompts by Ann Dee Ellis. Eight minutes, unrehearsed or edited. Today it’s about games. Photo is from happier times in the same year.

When we came back from Taiwan, my parents gave me the option of going straight into Year 7 at a brand new high school or slotting back into Year 6 at the same primary school, with the same kids, that I had gone to before we left. In hindsight, I think I made the wrong choice because I was bored out of my brain, but I was so blinded by the idea of being “with all my friends” that I went backwards. Note: only one of them turned out to be my friend.

At the end of each day, the classroom would play some sort of group game as a reward for concentrating. One of them was called “Murder in the Dark”, I can’t remember the other ones. They would just launch into the game without any explanation, because all the rest of them had been together, in the same class, for seven years. They knew the rules. I was so confused, I didn’t know what to do. I would squeak out an “excuse me, can somebody please tell me how to play?” but they never listened. They just got frustrated that I was slowing them down. I asked the teacher, who never had much patience for a dreamy, inattentive kid in desperate need of extension work. She told me to ask the other students. I asked them, they mostly rolled their eyes at me or offered explanations like “look, you just play the game, okay?” or “don’t be stupid, everybody knows how to play the game”.

What ended up happening was that I would dread the end of every day. I would get more and more anxious, and I started asking to go to the bathroom but really just going for a panicked walk around the playground, hoping it would be over by the time I got back. It never was. They all knew exactly what to do. I would open or close my eyes at the wrong times and ruin the game, or not know what to do when somebody tapped me on the shoulder or gave me a piece of paper or winked at me. When I got it wrong, everybody would groan and kids would call me stupid or angrily blame me for wrecking the game “on purpose”. I picked up some of the games over time by sneakily opening my eyes to see how it all worked, but some remained mysteries. And I was always in a state of panic that they would choose one of the ones that I didn’t understand.

It was awful. It’s kind of no surprise that I had terrible culture shock, or that this was the first year that I could really pinpoint being seriously depressed. I’m always surprised that my teacher didn’t notice me tensing up and trying not to cry every afternoon when she announced we were going to play a game. Or maybe she did.