On Grief and Stoicism

Last week I was talking to someone about 2016, how it’s been a bad year, that I’m running on empty.

It’s true it hasn’t been an easy year, particularly the last four months. Nowhere has been safe from the delivery of bad news: Texts, phone calls, social media, face-to-face conversations. Sometimes I dread looking at my phone because I don’t know what’s going to happen next.

To me, running on empty has meant feeling like I don’t have the capacity to grieve, to emote that I’m grieving. I process things, I feel what seem to be the right feelings, but I also feel crushing guilt that I can’t drop everything, can’t work my fingers to the bone and fall into bed every night, physically exhausted from the effort of making things easier for someone else.

I’ve been self-deprecating, saying that I’m medicated to the eyeballs and that’s why I rarely cry anymore, but I’m beginning to think it’s a growing stoicism and stoicism is a bit the the spoon theory: You have a bunch of it at any given moment and if you’re not using it for yourself, you can give it away to other people.

It’s taken a long time to realise sometimes my empathy is misplaced or overwhelming. That small, sincere gestures mean something and that it’s okay that they’re small. That feeling overwhelming grief myself isn’t unburdening the other person of theirs and what they need is someone slightly emotionally removed.

Things in my own life are not uncomplicated and I owe it to myself to work on that, to have my house in order, so to speak (and looking around my lounge room, literally as well). I would be happy to end the year with just a clearer head space and a better capacity to be there for other people.

Orange Farmers Markets: 9th July, 2016

Moving back to the country has coincided with really enjoying taking photos again, so I’ve been throwing my Leica in my bag whenever I leave the house, just in case something catches my eye.

Today it was the farmers markets in Orange, one of my favourite weekend adventures.

I’m sure living in the area you could find most of the produce whenever you wanted, but there’s something fun about the stalls and the smell of all the fresh food and coffee.


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Pulling over on the shoulder, ain’t driving…

I made the mistake of listening to Kurt Vile today after a week of cabin fever induced by rainy days and freezing weather.

Smoke Rings For My Halo will always be driving through Death Valley, watching the heat rise by degrees every minute, walking out onto the Mesquite Flat sand dunes and watching the sun set. Death Valley is heeding the warnings about rattle snakes and water, eating big American dinners, getting up early to see if the sunrise is as numinous as the sunset, cutting your fingertips on the salt flats, which burn so bright your eyes water.

I think I am my best when I am in the middle of nowhere with nowhere to be.

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It’s The #PRINCEWEDSWATTS Wee Waa Wedding Extravaganza! Part 1: The Road Trip


Over the Easter long weekend we went to Wee Waa for the long-awaited wedding of Alex and Mary. If you have the Internet, you probably heard about it, I know I had several people contact me to say their entire social media was being clogged with the freshest of content.

Alex and Mary are one of those couples everyone knows, one of those couples everyone knows are going to get married, one of those couples you refer to almost in one word: alexandmary. Alex and Mary have had you and ten other people over for an impromptu roast dinner, or drinks around a fire pit and after a while you realise you can trace the beginnings of most of your friendships to their backyard.

Alex and Mary are the people you’ll travel 600kms for, to a town of less than 2,000 people, just to see them get married.

We traveled with Josh and Annie. I met Josh in Alex’s backyard several years ago and made a complete fool of myself. Suffice to say, I’m not the person who should give pep talks to newly single men. It amazes me Josh still speaks to me, and Josh wasn’t even the man in question, just an innocent bystander to my well-intended motivational talk.

Months later, I found myself sitting next to Josh at a work training course and we hit it off. Eventually I poached him to work for my department, or at least convinced him to allow himself to be poached and then spent the next six months playing practical jokes on him, which mostly involved creating collages of him stealing over-sized office goods, which I then emailed to people. I’ve also spent more time than I care to admit trying to convince him that I am serious about marrying his father just so I can be his stepmother.

Annie is Josh’s girlfriend and she looks like a 1940s Hollywood bombshell, and I love her because she worries about stuff like whether she put too much hip hop on the travel mix (never!) and pretends (or at least I think she pretends) that her last name is Broccoli. Also, she raps. At weddings. Bless her heart.

We headed off early on the Friday and I immediately knew we’d chosen excellent road trip buddies, mostly because I couldn’t see them for the mountain of snacks they had packed and because they were as enthusiastic as I was for McDonald’s breakfast. A road trip isn’t a road trip unless you spend half of it regretting getting the hotcakes because your hands are stuck to the wheel with maple syrup.

It’s a long drive to Wee Waa from Sydney, about six-and-a-half hours, but we had an invaluable resource at our fingertips: Facebook chat. Alex had thoughtfully set up a couple of group chats, meaning everyone travelling that day could share information, like: Singleton is great if you like having to hold public toilet doors shut with your foot, or police are targeting people who stay in the overtaking lane too long, or our contribution: definitely stop in Murrurundi because Cafe Telegraph is serving baked Camembert with figs and there are horses to feed carrots to!


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I love horses. I love how big their heads are. When you hug a horse, you’re basically just hugging a giant head.




At this point we were about half way and I’ll admit it: I was feeling smug. The Facebook chat was going crazy with talk of hours-long traffic jams before the Pacific Highway turnoff and people still stuck in Sydney. Sure, they’d had more sleep than us the night before, but here we were, sitting under the willows, the back of the trip already broken.

I shouldn’t have thought it, let alone said it. But I did: “I’m really glad we left early! It’s been such a great trip for us!”.

In a few hundred kilometres, I’d regret cursing our little caravan …


So we made it to Bathurst, all five of us.

It was a stressful move, but only comparatively so: No-one crashed a car! No-one ended up in hospital!

The first couple of days I kinda floated around happily. I love the new house, it gets so much sunlight and it’s the perfect size and the dogs are really happy here. It was sunny and warm and I set about unpacking and unwrapping things I’d bought especially for this house.

Friday and Saturday I hit a low, which I’d been expecting, it happens every time I move. I started to worry about stuff: What if the inertia I’d felt in Sydney wasn’t solved by this move? What if I can’t find a job? Was it stupid to move to a cold climate just before winter? What if I have no friends here?

I really should’ve just gone for a few long walks and shaken it off, but my body resorted to a tried and tested, but ultimately not very helpful, strategy: It put me to sleep. I’d go to the bedroom to check my phone and wake up four hours later, I’d unpack a couple of boxes and need to nap for two or three hours.

In turn, that threw out my bedtime routine and I stopped sleeping past about 4:00am.

Luckily I know all the signs and that it’s just delayed anxiety, and today was much better and I’ve made plans to catch up with a bunch of lady friends this week and set myself a list of goals (I finished one today, which I’d been putting off since September) and tomorrow I’m going to start the C25K program again.

One of the reasons we moved here was to give me more time: More time for writing and more time for photography, so I’ve packed my camera and my bag and they’re both ready to go tomorrow.

I plan to use this space much more often because I want to document the results of this huge change, which I think are going to be excellent.

Orange, March 2016


A few weeks ago I planned a few days in Orange at the farm, with the idea of catching up in some much needed sleep. Then we decided to move, so instead I decided to spend the time at the farm writing a job application.

It’s almost a shame, the weather has been incredible, perfect for sitting outdoors with a book (and some bourbon).

I did manage to spend some time wandering around with my Leica.

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Eating Peaches.

Yesterday I resigned from my job.

I moved to Sydney in March 2006 to be with my then-boyfriend. It was a horrible two-stage move, where all our stuff was in storage in Bathurst for a few months and then we lugged it all the way to Sydney on the back of trailers with the help of my parents, if I remember correctly. I was armed with nothing but an ambiguous arts degree and the sense that the move was right because leaving the Central West for Sydney was a thing that people my age did.

Like generation after generation of our townsfolk before us, we migrated towards the Inner West. We lived in Marrickville, on the cusp of the then more desirable Newtown. We rented a series of fairly dank, incredibly hot, cockroach-infested apartments over the next few years.

Sydney wasn’t fun, it was sweaty and expensive.

I went on to live alone for the first time in a sunny space, before moving into a share-house in Newtown, where I was when I met B and we deciding to throw our lot in together and shift to the suburbs, where we currently pay too much rent for a house on an artery road to the M5.

I’ve never liked Sydney. I’ve actively hated Sydney. It’s too humid, too expensive, too crowded, too difficult to get anywhere. Every summer since I moved here, I have promised myself it would be the last, and for the time being, it is.

I want to really dig my teeth into my psychology study, so one evening recently B and I sat down and tried to work out how that could happen. B doesn’t mind Sydney and his career has really blossomed here, so his ideal scenario would be staying. Mine was moving back to Bathurst, one of my favourite cities, to live close to my uni and indulge in starry nights and a relaxed pace.

In typical me fashion (the me who didn’t realise you don’t need to save up for an entire holiday and only then book it, which is why I didn’t travel to America until my late-20s), we had a conversation that went a little like this:

Me: “If we had a time machine, I could go back in time and study and then go forward in time and meet back up with you.”

B: “There’s another way.”

Me: “You’re right. First I should research if someone has created a time machine and what it costs.”

B: “No, it’s simpler than that.”

Me: “… I never study? You quit your job and I quit my job and we lose everything and I still don’t study?”

B: “Nope. Fairly simple. Does not end in time travel or disaster.”

Me: “Does not end in disaster? Everything can end in disaster! I live every day knowing disaster could strike at any moment and ruin everything!”

B: “Nope.”

We decided to do both. Over the next little while, we’ll pack up our house and put it into storage (oh, the dreaded two-stage move). I’m going to stay with my parents and B will visit on weekends. Once I have a job, we’ll find a house to rent in Bathurst and I’ll live there full-time, B part-time. When he’s not there, I’ll study. On the weekends we’ll do what we haven’t done in a long time: Relax.

Both of us are feeling very calm for a huge decision made only a few days ago. Well, B is very calm, I have become incredibly invested in the Alicia Florrick/Will Gardner love affair and I doubt my heart will ever recover. I’ve already stockpiled tissues in preparation.


Out With The Old, In With The New.

B and I have been discussing simplifying our home recently.

Our home. As an aside, I would suggest never living in a house on an artery road. You’ll get about as much sleep as you would just pitching tent on the road. Also, don’t live in a house where someone’s done their own wiring at some point. Don’t do that. Don’t try and budge a stuck window with a hammer either.

B and I are both pack rats and the circumstances of our last move meant we didn’t really think things through and have ended up with far more stuff than we need and not necessarily the stuff we would like to own. Then we got more stuff and put it on stuff until there was no space for the other stuff we bought, so storage stuff seemed the solution.

My mood is affected by my surroundings quite dramatically and I find our current setup distracting and a bit suffocating.

A few nights ago, with the aid of the latest IKEA catalogue and some sticky notes, I showed B how I would do things next time around.


There are two of us. Our current dining room table seats six, and while the idea of dinner parties and a feast-laden table is lovely, we’ve never gotten around to organising one and the extra space has become a dumping ground for shopping and receipts and dog leads and hygiene and Wuz’s bowl and most of the time Wuz.

I want to go small, with the option to extend. I love the INGATORP table,

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I really like dark wood and IKEA usually set it up with the ÄLMSTA chairs, which makes for a very eye-catching set.

We also have three sets of dinnerware in various shades of grey, which I like to mix and match, which I can see working with the table.

Complete wankery aside, practically, having just the centre leg on the table would work well in preventing the scratch marks of a certain short dog who uses the corner legs of our current table to hold herself up when looking for cat food and in her excitement, has managed to shred almost every leg.


Currently we have three bookcases, two lounges, three guitars, an amp and a TV all stuffed in one room.

The lounges are much loved by the pets, but neither one is particularly endearing to humans. One is slightly lighter this week, after a certain beagle dug a hole in a certain foam cushion while its cover was being washed after a certain cat threw up on it.

Next house, I don’t want a lounge, I want two armchairs instead (sorry imaginary guests). Obviously next house will have also have wooden floorboards, and all I want in the room is a single bookcase, the TV, and the armchairs.

Initially I was drawn to the STORSELE chairs, which with a cushion I think could be quite comfortable, but maybe not for long periods of time.


So with comfort and the pursuit of reading (and all seasons of The Good Wife) in mind, how could I go past a wing-backed armchair? I’m not sure what colour I prefer. Initial instinct tells me grey, but I always choose the darker colours, so maybe I would like some yellow amongst it? I’d also like a rug to put under the chairs, both to protect the hypothetical floorboards and to make it all look cozy. I don’t mind the GÅSER, though B points out that a certain feline seems to manically shed on anything soft and comfortable.

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As well as floorboards, our next house is obviously going to have a porch, which I intent to relax on. Relaxing! What a novel concept!

We have a porch at our current house. It’s called the M5.

I think I lost B a bit when I got to the porch part of my plan for our imaginary house, he certainly looked at me like I’d had some sort of regrettable brain transgression. My plan is to have Friday afternoon, end of the working week G&Ts on our porch and I am going to serve them in teawear. When I said this, B’s face suggested I’ll be drinking alone a lot.

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(clockwise from top left: Moroccan Tealeidoscope Green Teapot / Mr Fish Blue Cup & Saucer / Moroccan Tealeidoscope Tall Pale Aqua Cup & Saucer / Oriental Crane Blue Origami Cup & Saucer)

So far all of this is hypothetical, but I have a good feeling about this.


When I Wake Up, In My Makeup.

I was very excited when Sephora opened an Australian store, but I’ve only shopped there a few times. It’s usually packed and humid, and doesn’t really lend itself to browsing without feeling you’re in someone’s way, so I decided to buy a few things online instead.

I’d had my eye on a matte crème lipstick by Bite Beauty in Rosebud.


I’ve worn matte lipstick ever since the days of the now-defunct Mode magazine, which ran a profile of Poppy King in her first foray into the lipstick market.

I like my mattes matte, I don’t care if it feels like dried mud caked on my lips, I don’t like it to budge. Turns out matte crème is a little moist for my liking and when I wear it, the colour is less rosebud and a much brighter pink instead. It’s not a complete loss, just not what I was expecting!

I ended up needing to pay $10 for shipping or $11 on another product to get free shipping, so I added the Rebels Refinery passion fruit lip balm to my already over-the-top collection.


Skulls and lip balm, how could I not?

It’s nothing particularly different to any basic lip balm and the passion fruit is very subtle, but it’s cute and pretty much paid for itself in shipping.