Little Bits – October Edition

Countdown is on for Bali, we’re almost single digits. I’m so ready for this. I never feel so powerful and in control of my own life as when I’m overseas. But aside from that, I’ve been listening to the song “Fascinating Rhythm” and thinking about the line – ‘Oh how I long to be the girl I used to be’. I was in Bali just over a year ago for our honeymoon, and that girl is worlds away from how I am now. This year has done a number on me, as I’ve talked about over and over. It would be so nice to be spontaneous and fun and optimistic again, maybe this is the ticket.

I love October. This morning alone has been thundery, stormy, dark and now bright and sunny. It’s kind of humid too, which I am loving. I also love how green and fresh everything is in October, how the weather is up and down, but summer beckons. It’s also a little respite from having to be places and see people every weekend, which is very welcome after the eight birthdays/anniversaries/Father’s Days that we have to get through in September.

I just realized that I haven’t posted about our birthday yet – I will get onto that very soon! This week or next. I promise it was exciting.

Also exciting is this: we have a solution to the shower issue. All year (since I fell through the floor) we’ve been going to Mum’s every day for showers. Not ideal and a huge chunk out of our days. For a bunch of reasons, including potentially knocking the house down next year and wanting just a shower rather than a whole bathroom, my dad is putting in an ugly but functional, practical but safe solution. I can’t wait to just, without thought or planning, get up in the morning and have a shower and get dressed. I can’t wait to be able to exercise and have a shower afterwards, instead of waiting around until I get to go to Mum’s. I can’t wait to be able do things like gardening or deep cleaning without having to sit around all sweaty and dirty afterwards. It’s going to be glorious. I’ll have ten showers in a row, just because I can.

So we went to a wedding last week, and I would have had full length photos but we were in such a screaming rush to get there, it just didn’t end up happening. And possibly for good reason. Not to rat anybody out, but somebody wasn’t listening when I said that I (a regular girl, not high maintenance at all) would need extra time to do my hair and makeup. Somebody didn’t listen to my constant comments that “we need to go now” and “we don’t have enough time for that, let’s go”. As a result, another somebody ended up with a total of 30 minutes total to have a shower, shave my legs, get dressed and do hair and makeup. As a further result, I ended up with scruffy hair that was still wet when we got in the car and the quickest makeup job of all time. I looked like this:

Yep. It was bad.

Sleeping Puppies and Spring Gardens

We had precisely one warm day yesterday, now it’s drizzling and miserable outside. I’m glad though – I forgot to water the garden last night, but the rain has more than made up for it today. There are so many things in the garden that are brimming with expectation, slowly and quietly working towards something wonderful. I’m also engineering some wonderful of my own – in the garden, we’re going with tomatoes, cucumbers*, radishes, basil and something else that I haven’t quite decided yet. I’m also thinking of growing some lettuce in a tub under the shade of the porch, and some of the herbs that I will need at Christmas time. But the big project is… we have a garden bed at the front of our house that is usually just a weed patch, but I thought – we’ve never had sunflowers before, and nowhere gets more sun than this patch. Fingers crossed that it works.

The little dogs of mine have been sulking for the last two days though – they must think that I’m doing it on purpose, making it hot and cold. They have little beds that get placed around the house and constantly moved around, but I think they are finally in perfect positions right now. Rupert can bask in the morning sun, Posie can hide in a little nook where she can sleep, knowing that nobody is going to step on her. They swap all the time though, and play musical chairs with the furniture as well.

It’s almost time to go to Bali. I booked it so long ago, and now that we’re almost there, I’m so glad I did – I need this trip like crazy. This year has been unabashedly horrible. Between my leg and the shower and the TN and my grandma, I am beyond ready to get away for a little while. But aside from the physical rest, I’m looking for a particular kind of restoration. I want to feel excited about things again, and not exhausted before we’ve even started. I want to feel hopeful and content and optimistic again, and not this miserable lump of meh all the time. I think this is just the ticket.

*This is the exact part where I had to pause because Rupert threw an adorable little tantrum on the rug and demanded that I stop and drop everything to pat his little belly.

The Latest Flare

Sometimes things don’t really go to plan. I had planned on having the house cleaned and the bathroom fixed; I had planned on posting all about my amazing birthday; I had planned to lose a bunch of weight before our Bali trip and be all Ultimate Butterfly Princess for social media photos (it’s the dream), but… life happens. The particular brand of life that happened in the last eight weeks was not my favourite, but I can finally say that things seem to be getting better. Let me go back to the beginning.

In mid-August, I started getting fairly regular trigeminal neuralgia attacks. It didn’t bother me too much – when it happens all the time, you kind of build up a tolerance to it, and it becomes normal to function with a certain cloud of pain over you most of the time. Not ideal. But it was bearable until the first week of September, when it started getting much worse. I started taking medication and tried to just grin and bear it. Until late-September when suddenly all hell broke loose.

I don’t want to go through all the gory details. But the pain was unbelievable. I ended up going to hospital and being drugged out of my mind for over a week. I still can’t remember the exact sequence of events because the whole week felt like I was in a coma. I barely got out of bed, barely ate or drank, could not do anything at all except look at my phone for 5 minute intervals here and there.

But let’s focus on what’s important: I am so much better now. I am still feeling weak and tired with a lot of clumsiness and cognitive confusion (that is likely from medication), but almost zero pain. I am so grateful for this, but also freaking out a bit. I like to plan things, a lot, and suddenly I’m realizing that I don’t have the degree of control that I previously thought. A lot of my future plans are up in the air because I just can’t count on the future looking how I imagine. My brain is full of ideas (buy the nice plates! go to Taiwan! stop worrying so much!) that are clashing with a bunch of other ideas (now that you’re good again, you should work out, take your vitamins and do mindfulness every day so you’ll never take ‘being well’ for granted again)… I’m sure I’ll find balance somehow, but it’s such a strange time.

Saturday

On Saturday, we turned 11 – or, 10+1. Which is… 11 years together, 1 year married. It should have been momentous, it could have been stupendous, but we’re both going through this unfortunately tired and stressed phased right now, so we dropped a lot of balls. I didn’t even get him a card, which I’m still sad about. But we did something special together that totally made up for it.

I’ve got a secret love, you see. My love for Asian food is out and proud, but French food is something that has always been a distant, inscrutable, mysterious thing. Perhaps because we never cooked it at home until recently, but mostly because I had never been to a French restaurant. Until Saturday.

We went to Bistrot Plume in Belmont. I had been begging to go there for at least a year, but Nathan (being Nathan) was dragging his feet. He never wants to go anywhere, and is always astonished when my recommendations are great. Anyway, we finally went.

We had:

Oysters mignonette. Steak tartare with a gorgeous glossy egg yolk and some shoestring potatoes. Garlic escargot floating in little pools of butter. Crispy skinned barramundi served on bouillabaisse with whipped cod roe croutons. Cassoulet with pork belly and confit duck leg. Green salad with radish and pickled shallot. Pear frangipane tart with salted caramel sauce. Creme brûlée with pistachio biscotti.

It was so indulgent and gorgeous, we had a great night. I loved everything except the snails, but to my credit, I tried one and could tell they were objectively delicious, but just not for me. The dining room was so intimate and quaint, and I felt far too self-conscious to take out my phone and take some photos, so you’ll just have to go see for yourself. Their lunch and breakfast menus look really good too – we’ll be back as soon as I can muster up some excuse.

As for the actual anniversary part, it was nice. It was especially nice holding hands across the table with the man who is my husband, the man who I’ve weathered and rejoiced over more than a decade with, the man who I will be old and grey with one day.

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!