The Mean Reds

You know those days when you get the mean reds?

The mean reds, you mean like the blues?

No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long, you’re just sad that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

— Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Anxiety is high right now. There are a few concrete reasons that I can pinpoint that are filling me with dread, but those few things seems to have grown tentacles that stretch into the most unlikely places. Places that don’t even exist or are so far out of my universe that you would think they would never affect me, but here I am. And suddenly I am crying over:

My great-great-great-grandmother who died in a workhouse when she was my age.
Rosemary Kennedy, who had the same birthday as me, and everybody in the world who ever suffered an ice-pick lobotomy.
Visions of Posie and Rupert being ripped out of my arms by a tsunami.
Being a ghost and perceiving my own mangled body on the ground after being in a plane crash, surrounded by artifacts of my existence.
Something terrible happening to Nathan and me suffocating to death because there’s no longer enough will in my body to even make my lungs work without him in the world.

I don’t have the best anxiety strategies, other than to pop a pill and try to focus on something else. But sometimes I can’t even do that, because anxiety can smother your concentration and enjoyment, leaving you frozen. I’m sure a little anxiety is probably good for you, but this is a giant waste. Of time, energy, tears, effort. Doesn’t it realize I have better things to do with my life?

I’m making little rituals of distraction. Drinking pots of different types of oolong tea. Listening to a lot of music that I’ve never heard before. Watering the garden every night and witnessing it come alive again after the heat. Taking one-on-one time with each of the dogs to stroke their velvet ears and tell them stories about what excellent dogs they are. I’m not sure if any of this helps, but it does help kill time, and one thing is certain – anxiety can’t last forever, I just have to wait it out.

Everyday Romance

Summer, 2008, at a house party. Both of us more than a little tipsy.

Drinking tea together that we collected during our travels.

Daydreaming about which room we should put a second AC unit in, but secretly enjoying nights of laying around in our underwear in front of the fan complaining about how hot it is.

Watching shows with me like Counting On or Call the Midwife, even though they are the last things he’d choose for himself. Likewise when he gets me to watch Paranormal Alien Investigation Cover-Up Conspiracy Cops, or whatever it is.

Calmly accepting that I refuse to use weedkiller in the garden, even though it means a lot more work for both of us.

Never getting mad when I let the dogs have a tiny taste of every food I eat, even if it’s expensive caviar or sashimi or something.

Adhering to his silly rules about sock pairing – they are all grey and exactly the same except for a tiny strip on the toe that can be red, blue or green, which nobody would ever see, but apparently it makes all the difference.

Scratching each other’s backs at the exact spot that we can’t reach ourselves.

Putting up with (and ultimately enjoying, even if he won’t admit it) the way I like to do Christmas.

Eating sour warheads because it amuses him so much to watch the faces I pull.

Kitchen hugs, couch hugs, car hugs, garden hugs, bed hugs, just got out of the shower and only wearing a towel hugs.

Watching him play with the darling dogs and always wanting them to live their best lives.

No judgment from either of us if it turns into a tortilla-chips-and-salsa-for-dinner kind of night. No judgment from him on my coke zero addiction either.

Reading through the cards and letters he’s given me over the years – he says he’s not a writer, but those are some of the sweetest things I’ve ever read.

Speculating on ridiculous hypotheticals, like what names we would pick if we had quadruplets, or how much money we could make if we started a truffle farm, or what airline a publisher would make me fly if I went on a book tour.

Patiently teaching him things to say in Chinese for our next big trip, knowing that he’ll probably forget them by tomorrow.

Hunting down my favourite milk-flavoured bun from BreadTop and bringing it home on a plane, all the way from Sydney.

Much Ado About Nothing

The roses are out and they are bloomin’ marvelous (I had to, I’m sorry) – I’m not sure what we did right, but it’s a good year for them. I’m calling our house Rose Cottage, I’m even going to have a little plaque made up and everything. Every house deserves a name.

I’m writing a novel about a house and a garden right now. I’ve only just started – I’m at that point where you stand at the foot of the mountain and look up, trying to figure out how many steps you’ll have to take, how many hours you’ll have to endure above the death zone, how many fingers and toes you’ll lose to frostbite. But you start, you climb, you keep going, and little by little, it happens. I want this manuscript done and polished by the end of July next year. Wish me luck! Or better, wish me persistence!

I’m also counting down the days until our new living room rug arrives, after the shipment was delayed by months, twice. These darling dogs of mine are going to be the death of me. Every car in the street, every pedestrian, every jangling cat bell, sometimes even the snapping of a twig or the shock of me getting up from the sofa too quickly… all these things send P+R into hysterics roughly 3-4 times per hour, sometimes much more. They leap all over the pappasan chair and bark their little brains out. With floorboards and no rug, the sound bounces around the room and transforms into something piercing and horrific. We are extremely lucky to have neighbours who are either very tolerant or very deaf, as both sides have told me that they barely hear a peep from us.

Aside from that:

I went to see MTC’s The Father with the father (mine) last week, and it was devastatingly good. Emphasis on the devastating bit. John Bell gave the best stage acting I have ever seen, and I cried. Some of the audience reactions were a bit off though – the play was about dementia, and Dad’s theory is that a lot of the audience are in an age category where all this stuff is frighteningly relevant for them, and their laughter might have been a function of their discomfort. Maybe.

I wore new shoes that night and ended up with horrendous blisters on my little toes. Still sore, still glowing red like little old fashioned Christmas lights. I did get to eat xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung before the theatre though – soup-filled dumplings that pop when pierced with your chopstick, which is a very icky thought when juxtaposed with my tales of toe blisters.

I’ve spent the best part of this week convinced that we had a mouse in the house, but now I’m having doubts. I saw a shadow move quickly across the hearth of the fireplace, but apart from that, there has been absolutely no evidence of anything. Now I’m wondering whether it was a mouse at all, or maybe a moth, or maybe it really was just a shadow cast along the floor from the sun shining in the window. We set traps and they haven’t been touched. I still won’t walk barefoot at nighttime or leave my slippers on the floor though.

My tomato plants are going splendidly, my cucumbers have shriveled and returned to the soil from whence they came. I’m not sure whether to try again, but the idea of making jars of my own dill pickles is calling to me. What else should I grow in my summer garden, once I rip all the broad beans out? I could just do an entire garden bed of basil, but how much pesto can one girl humanly eat*?

Nathan and I were meant to have a romantic weekend away in Sydney, which didn’t end up happening (he went by himself on a duty mission to visit a family member who needed some heavy duty cheering up). He is bringing me back a cheesecake from Uncle Tetsu though! I knew there was a reason I married him. Other than his winning smile, devastatingly handsome looks, and worthiness as a Scrabble opponent.

* If we’re talking about this girl, the answer is: probably more than you could imagine. When I was in third grade, we did a science project where we had to list the main foods in our diet and where they fit on the food pyramid. I had an argument with the teacher who told me that pesto was a fat, when I assured him that it was made mostly out of basil, so it counted as a vegetable therefore you should be eating heaps of it. But really, we all know that homemade pesto transcends the food pyramid altogether and should better be considered something like mana of the gods.

Dog Decisions

I’m doing some writing prompts by Ann Dee Ellis – eight minutes, unprompted and unrehearsed. Here’s today’s effort – decisions.

We didn’t really have a plan when we got Posie, but by the time she turned one, I had come to the realization that she needed a friend. I was already her friend, but I couldn’t be there all the time, and we worried about the idea that she had nobody to romp around with and indulge her inner dogginess. She was so communicative with us in surprisingly human ways, we didn’t want her to lose her ability to relate to other dogs altogether.

So we decided to get her a dog, and this time, we were going to do the right thing and adopt. We searched around until we found Rupert – free to a good home in the classifieds. I had to seriously beg to take him on. His previous owners were convinced that he just could not be homed with another dog because of fighting. What we later found out was that he’d had an owner before those ones, who had thrown him in an overgrown junkyard backyard with a bunch of muscular bully-type dogs. Rupert is such a teddy bear, it’s no wonder he felt threatened. Anyway, I convinced them in the end, we drove to Leongatha and took him home with us.

Things were rough for months. Posie was absolutely bereft, and acted like we had broken her heart. She kept hiding and staring at us, wondering when he was going to go home. They had their little turf wars, and Rupert made a habit of escaping for a while. We didn’t realize it could get worse, but it did. He started peeing on the furniture as soon as we left the house. Not the leg of the sofa, but actually soaking the whole cushion, or our bed, or his bed. A few trips to the dog psychologist got these things more or less under control, but it was not a fun time.

So many times, I went back and forth on our decision. I cared a lot about Rupert in those early months, but I certainly didn’t like him. I resented the havoc he’d brought into our lives and the unhappiness he’d caused Posie. I wondered if we would ever be able to sit on furniture without feeling if it was wet first, if Posie would ever be happy again. He didn’t feel comfortable enough to come out of his shell for months, so we still had no idea of his personality – he was a stranger to us, and it was very hard to love him at first. That’s what is so difficult about decisions… they can be right and wrong, at different times, for various reasons. There is nothing you can choose that doesn’t run a risk of regret, and sometimes arriving at a state of graceful acceptance about the whole thing can be slippery and elusive. But I suppose you have to make a lot of careful considerations, but ultimately jump off into the unknown and hope for the best.

Seven years later, I don’t have a single doubt about the decision to bring him into our family. He’s still having turf wars with Posie, but it’s so sweet to see how they rely on each other so much, especially when being reunited after the brief times they are separated. He has grown into the most excellent dog with a little bit of nurturing and I’m so grateful that we got lucky enough to have him.

Things I Will Always Remember (Sweet)

The first time I ever felt like a Very Serious Writer, when Mum bought me a blue marble-covered notebook for my writing, with a hologram fairy sticker on the front.

The quietness of the time I was too sick to go to school for months, the restfulness of just reading and drawing and listening to music and walking every day, the hilariousness of everybody thinking I’d had a secret baby when I finally went back to school.

Sarah and I taking a whole set of real china with lukewarm tea and biscuits, and squeezing ourselves into the tiny, wooded gap between the fence and her tennis court to have a tea party when we were probably far too old for tea parties.

Seeing Nathan at the end of the aisle waiting for me; seeing him tear up as he read his vows to me.

The first moment when Posie actually showed that she loved me, when she ran to me and wanted to be picked up after being scared by a cat, after ten long months of acting like I was holding her hostage.

The time that my uncle tried to convince me that I wouldn’t like oysters, but I certainly did.

When I worked at Myer in the city, and I would go downstairs to the food court to buy lunch for me and the Big Issue seller called Chris who had four children and a wife that left him after he was in an accident and had an acquired brain injury.

A watch that Dad got me – jaunty green metal on a leather band, with a little black cat in the middle and a mouse that ran around in a circle instead of a second hand.

When my psychologist, who I hadn’t seen in years, called me one night out of the blue to tell me that he’d been to Easter Island and that I should go too one day.

The first dollar I made from writing, then the first hundred, then the first thousand.

I was in a park to take a big family photo for my grandparents, with my long hair and my pink fluffy dress, and a little girl came up to me and asked if I was a fairy – I said yes, of course.

Stealing a kiss behind a tree when Nathan was meant to be going to a concert and his friends were waiting for him, back when we were each other’s happy secret.

Seeing my parents’ faces when they saw me in a cap and gown at my graduation ceremony.

The time I spent last year in Tokyo and Taiwan, the time in my life when I have felt most free.

Zooming down the summit at Falls Creek with my sister like total pros until we both had cataclysmic crashes a couple of metres apart in a patch of trees, and laughing so hard at how we looked like such disasters that people actually stopped to try to help us.

All of my times in Ubud at my favourite hotel, where I always have nothing to do except sleep, swim, eat, read and think as much as I want or of nothing at all.

When Rupert stole lamb chops from our dinner plates on his first night with us, totally shameless.

Things I Will Always Remember (Sour)

Accidentally calling my teacher “Mum” when I was in my first year of school.

Taking a sip from the teapot at my mother’s tea party when I was tiny, scalding the inside and outside of my mouth, and then lying about having put a domino in my mouth and that it must have been poisonous or something.

Letting myself be naïve enough to be sucked into an elaborate fantasy constructed by a couple of nasty girls at school.

The woman that rammed my ankles with her pram and told me to “fucking move” when I was browsing the shelves at Borders on Christmas Eve.

Dragging my baby sister around on the living room carpet while she laughed and laughed, until we discovered the gigantic carpet burn on the back of her head.

Seeing myself in the mirror for the first time after my nose had been ripped to pieces; the fat, smug middle-aged man in the waiting room who smiled at me while I was in shock and covered in blood, saying, “I guess you won’t be pretty anymore”.

When I accidentally sucked up a nest of baby mice in the vacuum cleaner, didn’t realise and put it away without emptying it, only to discover the rotting chopped up baby mouse soup in the barrel the next time we tried to use it.

Waking up, walking down the hallway in a tank top and underwear, realizing that two huge men had broken into my kitchen – trying to rationalize for a second that they must be Nathan’s friends or something, before my instincts kicked in and I screamed bloody murder and chased them out into the street.

The time that my vision started flickering in my right eye and I couldn’t figure out why, until I went to the mirror and saw a huge moth attached to my fringe, beating its wings against my eyelid and cheek.

That drunk snake of a girl at a post-show party who was much taller than me, and when I hugged her goodbye, she leaned over my shoulder and tried to kiss Nathan on the lips.

Letting myself be slandered and losing people who I thought were my friends, because I was determined to be ‘classy’ by keeping my mouth shut and not defending myself by telling the truth because that person had made me feel like nobody would believe me.

Severe turbulence on a long flight across a wide ocean, bad enough that my orange juice spilled everywhere, bad enough that people screamed and cried each time we dropped.

When Rupert had come home from intensive care with bandages all over his head from muscle biopsies, still too sick to even walk or eat properly, Nathan was away in Canberra, and I was too terrified to sleep in case he died during the night.

When we had come to Australia on a holiday and were staying in a cabin somewhere, and I lost the gold and sapphire signet ring that my aunt bought for me, and never found it.

Going alone to a random man’s hotel room when I was sixteen years old and being shocked when he tried to kiss me, because I really did believe that he just wanted to show me his new jazz records.

Waking up during anaesthetic, in the operating room but before they had started, asking “is it over?”, seeing panicked eyes and quickly being knocked out again.

When I lifted my new, tiny puppy in the air and her head narrowly missed the spinning overhead fan.

November – Taking Stock

It’s our two month anniversary! (Not that such a thing actually exists, but it’s fun.. 🙂 )
Life has been a little bit quiet lately, full of all sorts of boring grown-up responsibilities and obligations. But it’s about to start getting fun again – it’s almost summer, so many exciting things happening over the next few months.

Here is November, inspired by Pip Lincolne‘s lists:

Making : progress with deep cleaning the house
Cooking : spaghetti cacio y pepe (it was awful, do not recommend – there is just something about Australian cheese that means that European or American recipes containing it rarely work out, or I’m just a bad cook)
Drinking : milk
Reading : still stuck on the book that I’m not really into – it’s blocking me, it needs to be abandoned
Trawling : still looking for furniture, but it has to be the right furniture
Wanting : the neighbourhood possums to leave my magnolia alone
Looking : at dream houses and big semi-rural blocks of land
Deciding : to wear my glasses more often
Wishing : I hadn’t let things like speaking Chinese and playing the piano fall out of practice
Enjoying : playing Stardew Valley on my laptop, propped up in bed, while eating zooper doopers
Waiting : for all my roses to bloom
Liking : hail and thunderstorms
Wondering : what the next year will hold, now that everything is up in the air
Loving : Magda Szubanski in that new show Sisters – it’s really cool to see her play somebody so unlike herself, yet it’s so believable
Pondering : why so many companies have to send tiny products in such huge boxes with so much packaging
Listening : to Puccini and Swan Lake, extremely loudly
Considering : going for a walk, but the sky has been pretty black most of the week so far
Buying : flat rate postage satchels, so we can (via ebay) find new homes for some of our stuff
Watching : bad documentaries about the British royals, though it’s kind of disappointing these days because everything is so tightly controlled, so there is no real gossip, not like the Diana/Fergie days
Hoping : that certain things work out exactly as I’ve been told they will
Marvelling : at the most brilliant wedding present ever that Nathan commissioned for me – it’s so wonderful, when it is printed and framed, I’ll share what it is
Cringing : at the fact that I uploaded a ton of wedding photos to facebook, and they all compressed horribly and look bad – now I have to decide whether to resize them all and upload again, or just leave them
Needing : less carbs in my life
Questioning : why a certain duchess is being lauded as “a hit in the fashion stakes” for seriously wearing a completely unremarkable tracksuit
Wearing : ugg boots, strangely enough – we’re in a cold snap
Noticing : that Rupert’s having some appetite issues lately, and being really afraid of what it might mean
Knowing : that I want my hair to grow even longer, but worrying that it might have hit terminal length, because it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere right now
Thinking : I need a new curling iron, and it’s so hard wading through product reviews and then finding out that the product isn’t available in Australia
Admiring : people who are conscientious enough to have real indoor plants in their houses rather than just pretending with plastic ones
Getting : nervous about a flight I have to take in a few weeks – it’s from Avalon, so it’s a smaller plane, which I hate
Bookmarking : a lot of articles about raising backyard chickens – I am determined to be the proud mother of three silkies by this time next year
Disliking : the constant noise of neighbourhood cats jumping around on the tin roof
Opening : literal wardrobe doors and actually going through things, rather than just shutting the door on an avalanche of stuff
Closing : figurative doors on relationships that are just a big ol’ drain
Feeling : a bit shaky right now, a bit stressed
Hearing : from old friends and looking forward to catching up soon
Celebrating : two months!
Pretending : that the shower floor tiles aren’t so cracked that I feel like I’m going to fall through the floor every time I get in
Embracing : the time of year, and that it’s almost time to decorate for Christmas


I do not get all the Halloween hate in Australia. People get so unreasonably outraged about it and act like it’s a hill to die on, to prove that Halloween is something that only happens in America and never in Australia. Which is utterly ridiculous. Halloween comes from All Hallows Eve, which is Pagan, and Australians don’t seem to have a problem with things like Easter eggs or Christmas trees, both of which are Pagan. And America is far from the only place on earth to celebrate Halloween. Anybody who argues that it’s strictly American must have a very shallow understanding of how cultures melt together – which is hilarious in the context of how Australian culture is a melting pot too. And the last thing is… at the end of the day, Halloween is really just a bit of fun. There is no great pressure on anybody, no great expense, no arduous expectations. It’s just an excuse to wear a cute costume and, if you like, go beg your neighbours for lollies. Which they are under no obligation to give. If you don’t want to participate, then don’t answer the door. There really is no need to go on epic rants in the comments section on facebook posts about how we’re Australian and anybody celebrating Halloween is stupid. It just makes you look like a massive killjoy and culturally isolated. Like the kind of person who doesn’t eat pasta because it’s too ‘ethnic’ for them.

It’s also a bit ridiculous that nobody seems to have any problems with celebrating Oktoberfest or St Patrick’s Day, but Halloween is just a step too far. If you don’t like it, then don’t do it. Nobody is forcing you to open your door or dress up. It just seems totally mean-spirited to try and dump on other people’s fun though.

Anyway. I have a special reason for loving Halloween – growing up in Taiwan, it was a big deal. Making our costumes from scratch every year was so much fun, even if my sisters and I would usually end up with variations of the same costume because that was what we had fabric for. One year, we decorated the whole house with plastic spiders and fake cobwebs, and watched scary movies on HBO. I remember there was one about a haunted voodoo doll that somebody brought back from the jungle, and something about vampires called Bordello of Blood. Not that I had any idea what a bordello was as a ten year old.

This year, we’re not doing much. The dogs get so rattled every time somebody knocks on the door, so we’re leaving a big bowl of candy on the front porch so people can help themselves. We didn’t make jack o’lanterns this year, just little pumpkins everywhere. Because of my Bali trips, this is the first time in years that I’ve actually been home on Halloween, but with all the wedding stuff, I just haven’t been organized enough to decorate much. It’s a pity we’re in the southern hemisphere – the place that I get my heirloom seeds from has a decorative gourd pack that has some of the most amazing pumpkins and squashes that would be perfect for decorating, but of course, it’s not autumn here.

My little unicorn and hot dog. P+R are thrilled to be wearing costumes (not). I cannot believe how many outfits and costumes these two dogs own. Sometimes they love dressing up, other times they act like they are being tortured – today was one of those days. But they did better than me… I didn’t dress up at all this year, unless you count wriggling into my mermaid tail for ten minutes and flipping my fins around.

Summer Bucket List 2017/2018

It’s not secret that the warmer months are my favourite time of year – I feel like I exist all year, but it’s only during these few months that I really live. Cold weather makes you want to just sit, wrap yourself in blankets, stay in bed and hibernate. It’s such a struggle to get going when it’s cold, wet and miserable. Sometimes if I’m outdoors and I get overly chilled, it will throw me into this awful state of extreme fatigue (mental and physical) until I’m able to spend hours warming myself back up again with hot showers, electric blankets and hot tea. I think my core just has a lot of trouble keeping its temperature, so of course I love spring and summer better.

When it’s warm, the days feel so limitless and full of potential. Nine o’clock on a Thursday night and you’re itching to do something? No problem, let’s go get ice cream and walk by the beach. That kind of thing is so nice. I have the biggest bucket list of things to do over the next few months – I’m sure I won’t get to all of them, but it’s a nice daydream. 🙂

This is my 2017/2018 spring/summer bucket list:

I want to grow some amazing heirloom tomatoes – some for sauce-making, others for slicing and layering with homegrown basil and mozzarella for the best kind of caprese salad.
I want to learn how to fly the kite that’s been kicking around in my office for the last eight years.
I want to go boogie boarding with Nathan at Jan Juc.
I want to listen to French music in sunshine at the park while eating expensive cheese.
I want to finally go to Werribee Zoo, because I’ve never been.
I want to take Posie and Rupert to have Santa photos taken.
I want to go to a pick-your-own cherry farm and make jars and jars of cherry pie filling (seeing as Nathan loved the cherry pie I made on the weekend so much).
I want to go out on my father-in-law’s boat for the day.
I want to demolish the old (probably haunted) wardrobe in my office and make a new one to store my dress addiction.
I want to get frames for a bunch of things so we don’t have so many blank walls in this house.
I want to take lots of photos with my big camera again.
I want to set up the dogs’ clam shell pool in the backyard and do what I did last year – laying under the oak tree on hot days with my legs in the pool, laying on a blanket, reading.
On that note, I want to read all summer long – widely and deeply.
I want to celebrate the mussel festival at Mum’s house.
I want a really huge thunderstorm, the kind that rattles the windows and floods the backyard.
I want to set up a kitchen herb garden in the front yard so I can have fresh herbs in all my cooking.
I want to try different champagnes and see if there is anything I like better than my current favourite (which would be handy because it’s $100 a bottle).
In the new year, I want to start a physical, pen-and-paper diary – nothing too full on, but somewhere I can write all sorts of half-formed thoughts and fragments of poetry without having the urge to hit backspace.
I want to make a recipe from the Supernormal cookbook.
I want to find the perfect new cushions for the sofa – obsessed with feather pillows particularly these days.
I want to finally go out with Sarah to eat fancy steaks for our 30th birthdays.
I want to take a few domestic trips to visit family in Sydney and the Gold Coast.
I want to finally finish Posie’s quilt and the two batik ones that I started after our first Bali trip.
I want to relax enough to nap during the daytime on hot days.
I want to take a big day trip down the Great Ocean Road and take a walk in the rainforest.
I want to turn my entire garlic harvest into garlic butter to be frozen and used throughout the year – I did that to half of my haul last year and it was so delicious and so handy to have for whenever I felt like garlic prawns.
I want to really kick some writing goals under my pen names, and start on my big women’s fiction novel that will be under my own name in January.
I want to grow my own baby cucumbers and turn them into dill pickles.
I want to do some agility training with Posie – she’s getting a collapsible tunnel for Christmas, and I’m thinking about making some beams and hurdles for her.
I want to try to make time every single week to do something fun with Nathan, because it would be a crime to waste this blissful newlywed period with being serious or boring all the time.
I want to let saltwater dry in my hair and go to sleep with sand still between my toes.
I want to do healthy things, like eat five serves of fruit or vegetables a day, or make sure that I eat oily fish a couple of times a week.
But I also want to do unhealthy things, like make a gingerbread house or perfect my recipe for the Heineken green tea lemonade cocktail I had in Taiwan.
I want to hopefully be able to swim in my mermaid tail at Eastern Beach.
I want to enjoy every moment of the only time of year that I can feel my feet!

The Wedding – Part Two

(All photos by Erin King – see Part One of the wedding here)

I think in the end the bulk of my planning went into the reception, because although us getting married was the most important part of the day, we always wanted to focus less on ceremony and more on having fun. We envisioned a really cool dinner party – intimate enough to feel like a family dinner, but with our absolute favourite food. We wanted it to be luxurious and a bit fancy, but still really relaxed and personal… and I think we nailed it. I suppose writing all these details down here is mainly for me – I don’t want to forget a single thing.

At 6pm, we all met at Supernormal in Flinders Lane and went downstairs to their cozy but simple private dining room. The decorations were relatively stark, which is how I wanted them. Three tall vases of japonica blooms, and in the center of each table, a fishbowl full of sparkling lights and paper cranes that I had spent forever folding with Mum. At each place, there was a laser cut wooden name for each person and a box of four LuxBite macarons, each one a flavour to represent me, Nathan, Posie and Rupert (the flavours were rose & lychee, kopiko, sour strawberry and salted caramel).

We all had canapés and cocktails for a while until everybody got settled, and then the banquet began. And oh my god, the food. Supernormal has been our favourite restaurant since I dragged Nathan there for our birthday a few years ago. I always make an excuse to go there whenever I’m in Melbourne – even though I know I should branch out, it’s just always so good that I can’t resist. And it’s such a unique restaurant in the way that it bridges the gap between fine dining and something trendier and more casual – the food is amazing, but it’s not pretentious at all, which we love.

It was also a bit special to both of us in different ways – last year we went to Japan just before Christmas, which was such an amazing adventure, and I grew up in Taiwan (and went there mid-last year as well). It was really cool to have food at our wedding that incorporated inspiration from both of those places, among other countries. We are both really into Asian food (or any food, really) too, so I think we were always going to go a bit non-traditional in this aspect.

Anyway, I can’t remember the exact canapés that we had, but this was our menu:

  • Pickled vegetables
  • Moonlight flat oysters
  • Sea bream, white soy, pickled wakame
  • Smoked beef, mustard leaf, clam mayonnaise
  • New England lobster rolls
  • Prawn and chicken dumplings, black vinegar and chili
  • Duck leg bao with plum sauce and vinegar
  • Szechuan lamb, spring onion pancake, coriander paste
  • Cosberg salad, mint and ginger vinaigrette
  • Steamed white rice
  • Peanut butter parfait, salted caramel, soft chocolate
  • Wedding cake (the famous Lolly Bag cake from LuxBite) and sesame cookies

There were some variations for the people who didn’t eat seafood, which even Nathan’s notoriously picky grandmother ate and loved. We really wanted the night to be special, so we chose about seven cocktails to add to the already super extensive drinks list. It was really fun at the end of the night to look at the invoice and see which cocktails were most popular – everybody loved the espresso martini the best, it seems! I had spent days laboriously choosing songs for our dinner playlist, which went down well too.

We had a little guestbook situation set up with a polaroid camera but unfortunately I forgot to mention it in my speech, so only a couple of people signed it, but… c’est la vie.

I was always determined to make a speech. I write for a living, I have a degree in writing, it would seem odd to me not to write a speech. I lovingly went through a long list of people, thanking them individually. Nathan took his turn to tell stories about how gullible I was, soliciting more than a few laughs. We didn’t want anybody else to have to go to the trouble of making a speech, so we didn’t ask anybody else, but our dads surprised us on the night by offering a short but sweet toast from the both of them – it was so unexpected and so lovely.

We also had two special drinks arrive at our table, courtesy of Posie and Rupert, whose names were etched into the glasses!

A person who shall remain unnamed later told us that she was worried when we said our reception was going to be in a function room at a restaurant, and that she couldn’t see how it would feel like a wedding. But upon arriving, being led into the beautiful space and being given a cocktail, all her fears were blown away. She said that it redefined what a wedding could be for her, and now she wonders why everybody doesn’t do something small and personal instead of the huge things that she was used to.

It feels like bragging, but I am just so damn proud of the wedding that we managed to pull off. It was elegant, it was fun, it was intimate, it was like a really cool dinner party. It was small enough that we got to actually have some conversations with everybody who was there, and there was lots of seat-hopping between the tables, even between our families, which was nice to see. Everybody who came was somebody that we would happily go to dinner with for any occasion. It was so cozy, and we felt so completely and utterly enveloped by the love in the room – it was small, and there were definitely people we missed, but it was so personal and so romantic. It also says a lot that my dad said to me on the night, “can I live here?” and Nathan’s dad has been scheming for a reason to go back as well.

At the end of the night, I couldn’t stand my heels anymore, so Sarah lent me her flats and we walked up Flinders Lane until Nathan and I caught a taxi back to the apartment. Our amazing dog sitter/chaperone handed over his very tired and well behaved charges, I took half a million bobby pins out of my hair and we threw our wedding clothes on the bed in the second bedroom to be dealt with the next day. The dogs were so exhausted from their little adventure and their wedding night sushi dinner that they slept soundly until 7am, then after a quick jaunt outside, went straight back to sleep so we could lie in until 11am – bliss! Then we got Pancake Parlour delivered for breakfast, Nathan fell into a sugar coma and we both napped with the dogs for the rest of the day – double bliss!

It was such a good day/night. So many people have said to Nathan that it’s really quite rare (at least, this was guys talking) to feel like you actually had fun at your wedding. But we did. Even up until the day, I was feeling so unsettled about the whole thing and so indecisive about what it was that I truly wanted for the day, but once it was over, it felt perfect. Like I couldn’t have wanted anything better, and I got exactly what I wanted. We had the best time and even though it was four weeks ago now, we are still harping on about it… it was just such a good day. I understand now why some people feel the need to renew their vows – if a vow renewal could replicate how good that day felt, I’d do it every anniversary, for sure.

So there we are! Now back to my scheduled newlywed bliss.