Bad Habits

Every Thursday or Friday night if B and I end up shopping for dinner together after work, this one thing inevitably happens.

I will pick up the newly minted copy of Who Magazine and put it in the basket. I will walk quickly until I am two or three paces in front of B. Then I will turn and say loudly, ‘Oh! Did you remember to get that that Who Magazine that you love so much?’.

He used to roll his eyes, but now he plays along and pretends it is for him and he’s been dying to read it.

I read Who Magazine because I would read the back of a box of cereal if it were in front of me. I read a lot, it’s a thing I do. I also need a break from, say, reading about the horrible things going on in the news, or books which require all of my attention and look, I’ve always been a total Hollywood gossip busybody.

I tried to give up Who Magazine earlier in the year, because of Lara Bingle. I used not to have an opinion on Lara Bingle until a few years ago when she tweeted that she needed to go to the gym because, ‘fat girls don’t get phone calls’ and I looked at my call logs and she was wrong. My mum calls me at least once a week.

Another bad habit is Red Bull. I came home from work last week and practically squeezed B’s cheeks until they fell off while forcing him to guess how much I paid for a four-pack of sugar-free Red Bull ($2.99!) and then realised it’s really unhealthy for that to count as a highlight of my day.

Today I also fed a troll on Twitter. I never feed trolls. I had a terrible flame war in 2002, and my Internet eyebrows are still singed, but today I couldn’t hold my tongue. I waded into the murky waters under the bridge where the trolls claiming #illridewithyou is an attack on white people. Racist against white people, even. A person with a sparkly porcelain unicorn picture as their avatar and a bio that used a lot of commas and ended with ‘I love angels!’ told me I was racist. Against white people. Because I like the theory behind #illridewithyou.

Except sparkle unicorn couldn’t grasp a basic fact:

Sparkle unicorn: “Your racist!”

Me: “*You’re”

Sparkle unicorn: “You and your friend, your both racist!”

Me: “First one was right, second one? *You’re”

Sparkle unicorn: “Your not going to defend yourself against racism are you?”

Me: “*YOU’RE!”

Eventually sparkle unicorn deleted all their tweets to me and blocked me and though I’m not keen to lurk again, there was a certain thrill in annoying someone to the point of exasperation.

A friend checked in: sparkle unicorn is still angry at white people being racist against white people and is still using “your”.

 

 

 

‘Til Human Voices Wake Us

This week has been exhausting and distressing.

I don’t have much to say because I don’t have any answers, I don’t even have questions at this point and more so than any other time, I feel the pressure to say the exact right thing, the perfect little concise response that has considered every nuance of every argument while also describing exactly where I sit on the issue.

I just don’t have that. I don’t know.

I’ve watched hours and hours of news footage at work this week. I think maybe in order to cope, I’ve shut down. I had to transcribe a foreign correspondent from The Washington Post discussing the massacre of children in Pakistan and there’s no colour or cue to indicate how badly his voice shook throughout the whole report.

I was talking to workmates. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to has cried while captioning live news stories. I did this week too.

There’s degrees of getting burnt by something and getting to go home at the end of the day is the salve I get for not knowing anyone who was taken hostage this week, or witnessing it, or going to a school that a faction of the Taliban (and it was just one faction, another condemned it, something interesting I learnt today. I guess why wouldn’t the Taliban have factions?) decided to use as a soft target.

There’s a quote someone once told me, I don’t remember it exactly, this is paraphrasing: people used to be concerned that governments were hiding things, withholding information. Now they don’t even have to bother because there’s so much information that things just get lost.

That’s how this week has felt. Like we’re all just getting lost and we’re using words to try and keep us afloat without realising they’re washing us further away from things.

Excuse me, sir!

We live near the M5, so close in fact that on our first nightly walk in the new neighbourhood, we rounded a corner thinking it led to a dog park and instead discovered it actually led onto the M5. The road part. You could just meander right onto an 80km zone. In a way that’s terrifying, in another, it’s nice to see a vestige of times gone by when people were expected to rely on their own smarts not to get flattened by a truck.

I hate a very specific part of the walk. Unfortunately it’s the part that starts from our driveway and continues for about ten minutes until you navigate traffic and get onto a dedicated pedestrian/cyclist track. For that ten minutes I don’t want to talk, I feel miserable, I never want to walk ever again but as soon as I’m on the walking path … BOOM. I want to walk forever.

Last night we just got to the walking path when it started to rain. B wanted to turn back, I hadn’t wanted to go on the walk in the first place, so imagine his surprise when I forced him to trek onwards. Delilah loved it, she’s very much a water dog. When she stayed with my parents for a few weeks, Mum emailed me and told me Delilah got into a drain and lay down, so only her eyes and ears were above water and she just lay there, like a very furry aquatic spy.

I took Delilah for a very long walk the night before, to a postal depot in the boondocks to pick up parcels. On the way back we were waiting at a set of traffic lights when I noticed several men in their respective cars laughing at something. I looked down and Delilah was lying like Superman: front paws out the front, back legs straight out behind her and her head down, eyes closed, doing a very good impersonation of being fast asleep. We waited through three sets of red lights before she deemed it time to end her power nap.

All this is just dressing on the fact I have to go back to the gym. And keep going back. And not stop.

I even had a dream about it last night. I went to the gym and discovered they’d moved everything. I couldn’t find a single treadmill to use, or any weights, and a naked white man with dreadlocks showered in front of me. I don’t know what that part means, but the rest of it seems very much like my subconscious telling me to get off my arse.

Home Bedside Tables

I moved out of home almost 15 years ago and never in that time, until this house, had I owned a matching set of bedside tables.

I could never find anything I loved, or that I could afford. They’re deceptively expensive pieces of furniture to own.

Bedside tables were on our “must have” list when we moved, a list that shrank and shrank as the cost of moving grew and grew. We decided to keep our old couches and my increasingly unattractive bookcase for a little while longer, but I couldn’t give up on my dream of having a bedside table to call my own.

We found Hemnes tables we liked at Ikea.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #8: Master bedroom, Earlwood

I spent about six months looking for a yellow lampshade for a lamp I had in our previous house. I wanted yellow to set off particular tones in a large framed photograph I own.

I finally found a table lamp at Freedom that had the shade I wanted; however, the electrics in the lamp I wanted to fit it to blew, and in our new place the photo no longer hangs anywhere needing lamplight so I’m using it as a reading lamp. I don’t mind it, but the owners painted all the trimmings in the house green, so it does mean the bedroom has a particular Australiana kitsch factor now, which I don’t love.

I have a framed cross-stitch of the title of an Atmosphere album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, which my younger sister made for me.

The ‘Hustle’ card comes from Mi Goals, and I’m going to frame it and put it in the office eventually, as motivation for study next year.

Also featured is a manuscript I am reading for a friend, my RETROSUPERFUTURE reading glasses and a handmade fountain pen, gifted to me my the talented Mr Evan Beaver!

Up the back is a foam bust of Einstein. He has a peg at the back that opens and closes his mouth. Normally his mouth is stuffed full with sheets of medication so I don’t forget to take them.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #9: Master bedroom, Earlwood

B’s bedside table is pretty much all Apple gear, silver and black. While I tend to read books, B reads e-books and comics on his iPad, which we also occasionally use to watch episodes of Futurama in bed.

‘How to Train a Superdog’ is a recent addition to our library, because our super dog sometimes acts up a little. Barry reads it and tells me interesting facts.

One thing I particularly love about the tables is the top drawer has a half-length sliding shelf.

Handy for those frequently used items!

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Speaking of super dogs, here is our frequent bedroom guest. We keep saying we’re going to stop letting her on the bed, but it is super cute in the mornings when she’s first let inside to cop 12 kilos of frantically excited corgi.

We love her!

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Swings and Roundabouts.

I hit a bit of a slump on the weekend, one of those ones where it’s not there and then suddenly it is.

I think it’s because we had to be adults and responsible and cancel our trip to Japan altogether. New jobs and no leave and re-booking tickets was just too expensive to justify and it was the right decision, but it’s still disappointing.

It was meant to be a reward for all the stuff we had to get through in the last six months and maybe more than I like to admit it was probably the light at the end of the tunnel for me. Something to keep an eye one, a goal, a little something to keep the home fires burning.

Sometimes being an adult sucks, but sometimes it also means deciding to do things like start our own Christmas traditions this year, for our little family.

I’m also in a complete slump health-wise. I used to be so healthy, one of those ridiculous people who never got the flu, didn’t have a GP. I still don’t get the flu, but I practically live in medical practices and I have felt unwell every day for almost 12 months now.

It was December last year that I started napping a lot. It was almost a welcome relief after years of insomnia on and off. I thought I was onto something: if I wasn’t sleeping at night, surely all these naps were good, I was getting sleep, just not when most people were. The only thing that seemed odd was that the naps weren’t necessarily a choice. I would be awake one moment, asleep the next, sometimes for hours.

One particularly hot afternoon I was asleep and when I woke up, every joint ached, particularly in my hands. By that night, my arms were throbbing and I was in so much pain I couldn’t sleep. I thought I had some kind of terrible arthritis. Instead, my thyroid had shut down. My endocrinologist described the pace and severity of it as ‘catastrophic’ and ‘extreme’.

I have not felt well any day since. My levels are fine, I take my medication, I wake up every morning feeling like I’ve run a marathon in my sleep.

I can’t remember the last time I felt excited about a social event. Mostly I don’t go to them. I can do a dinner party, but only if it’s easy to get to because traveling takes it out of me. I can go to a movie, but probably not on a school night. We run into people and their dogs while we’re walking Delilah and I feel like a shell because walking the dog is all the energy I have, I have nothing to spare for social niceties.

Moving to the suburbs was a fantastic decision for so many reasons, but some days I feel like it would be so easy for me to just become a complete hermit out here.

And yet, for the most part, I’m happy. It’s hard to have a body that doesn’t support that.

Drawing To A Close

Every November I get antsy for the new beginnings offered by a new year. This year is no exception.

I’m not sure I’ll have holidays in December, my new job is like my previous one in that it doesn’t shut down over Christmas. Regardless, I am consoling myself with the knowledge that the week between Christmas is so hot and so quiet that it’s almost impossible not to relax.

I have my holiday reading list planned, Christmas lunch almost booked, Secret Santa selected and gift lists received. I have my 2015 day planner ready to go, my first gig of the new year booked, as well as our delayed trip to Japan (now slated for April).

Next year I have decided to start studying psychology and as for learning something new, I’m sorely tempted to bike a bike and get over my fear of riding.

Road Trip Bedside Tables

One of my favourite things to photograph during my travels are the bedside tables in various places I stay. Bedside tables can tell you a lot about where you are, both physically and mentally.

This is a collection from 2011 and 2012.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #1: Holiday Inn Express, Seattle.

This was probably three weeks into a four week road trip. Every overseas holiday ends with a pile of small change you always insist you will spend before you leave and never do. Instead you leave the coins in your wallet, handing them out as gifts or frustrating baristas by trying to use them as legal currency once home.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #2: Hilton Hotel, Portland, Night 1.

My first thought revisiting this photo is that I don’t change much. I am wearing both silver rings pictured today, and although the phone has changed, I would definitely still use a Buzz Osborne picture as my wallpaper. I am still getting through that exact bottle of melatonin and the CD at the back of the photo is the Puscifer album, Conditions Of My Parole, which I still listen to at least once a week.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #3: Hilton Hotel, Portland, Night 2.

The Hilton was the only accommodation we stayed in which did not provide free wi-fi, hence the books, cough syrup, Black Russian and melatonin. I spent a few hours that day in Powell’s Books, which is the largest independent bookstore in the world. I was reading mostly essays in 2011 and was lucky enough to pick up collections edited by two of my favourite guys.  

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A Study in Bedside Tables #4: Hilton Hotel, Portland, Night 3.

At least on the third night I was mixing wine and cough syrup, not spirits … right? The cough syrup stemmed from an incident in Las Vegas, which having not smoked in about five years, I found myself in a city where you can, and everybody does, smoke inside. While I  managed to refrain from partaking, my body reacted as though I had a three pack a day habit: I had a constant cough and bleeding noses most mornings of the trip. Remember: smoking is cool.

The sunglasses were bought at a vintage shop in Portland called Magpie. I have a sunglasses addiction and had two other pairs with me on the trip, yet I still maintain these are the best sunglasses I’ve owned and it was worth the excess.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #5: Shilo Inn, Medford

*snort* As any travel mate I have ever had will tell you, I am obsessed with having the ability to wash my own clothes. While everyone else would race ahead to find out if the hotel had wi-fi, I would be anxiously sweating until I could confirm I could do a cold wash. I guess having the washing liquid on my bedside table was reassuring.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #6: The Historic Mayfair, Los Angeles

Had we not almost stayed in a crack den in Seattle, this would’ve been the worst hotel of the trip, easily. There’s nothing like spending your last night in a hotel which has taken obvious measures to prevent the self harm it provokes in even the more hardened traveller.

Baby food. What can I say? It started in Whole Foods, Salt Lake City, where I decided that baby food was the perfect travel snack: small, healthy (?), tasty. Every time I popped the lid on one of these bad boys, I was roundly mocked by my cohorts.

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A Study in Bedside Tables #7: Cottage on the Inlet, Porirua

A year later, a different country and there’s that little green bottle again. I love melatonin. Another memento of the earlier US trip is the giant skull ring, which I bought from a shop called Loved to Death in Haight-Ashbury.

The reading material is fairly standard fare. I have read every issue of Vanity Fair for a decade now, I love Bellow and Nabokov in that order.

 

Domesticity

I am learning about roses, currently the only patch of our garden I am interested in. I have learnt about “dead heading” them to make sure I get another bloom this season and I’ve bought special food to feed them and at dusk I go and pick what flowers have opened that day and carefully take their leaves and thorns off and mulch the previous flowers that have been in the Crystal Head vodka bottle I am using as a vase.

Our front yard also has a lime tree, which is slowly growing fruit I will use for gin and tonics later in the year.

I’m thinking of buying a comfortable outdoors chair so I can sit in its shade with a book.

The backyard is another story.

The backyard is very much Delilah’s domain.

Under the washing line is gathered a jumble of toys and bones and sometimes the outdoors broom, which she loves to drag around with her like she’s doing some sweeping.

The back garden patch now has a large hole in it, where she enthusiastically buries and digs up and reburies an assortment of bones and pig ears.

The backyard is also the only space Delilah and The Wuz coexist without too much drama. Both seem to want to claim dominance of the house as their own.

B has expressed interest in getting a worm farm, which we certainly have space for and I like the idea of mulching very much.

And so, slowly, we have become domesticated.

 

North Island, New Zealand

Today we are leaving America behind to fast forward to 2012, when I last visited one of my favourite countries: New Zealand.

I have been to New Zealand three times, most recently for the wedding of my dear friends Amy and Nicola.

We stayed in a cottage in a quiet inlet. Nights were spent watching movies and eating cheese, drinking gin and indulging in general merriment.

New Zealand is stunning in a tactile, earthy sense. It is a country I could spend weeks in alone.

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Erskineville

We’ve managed to build cranes taller than city skyscrapers, topped with glowing red lights to signal to the aeroplanes we have made, tonnes of steel and human souls that somehow stay afloat on air that barely seems to brush past us on the ground.

Yet we have not found a way to make power lines beautiful.

Instead we convince ourselves there’s something peaceful in the way they loop lazily, fragmenting a dusty rose sunset over the city.

- Erskineville, 27th October, 2014, 7:46pm or thereabouts.