The Non-Sleeping News

It’s been months since I’ve had proper ‘Why hello, 3am!’ insomnia, yet here I am, two nights in a row.

Probably sleeping until midday didn’t help, but life is making it inherently difficult to accept sensible adult responsibilities like a routine bed time right now.

Instead I’ve been sitting up reading The Shipping News which has been a frustrating read because I know parts of the plot, as communicated to me by my then maybe five-year-old cousin at a family breakfast the morning of my younger sister’s wedding. In between singing Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’ at me, she told me some fantastical, violent story I thought was a dream until she ended with ‘So anyway, that was The Shipping News, I watched it last night.’. Given that her parents are upstanding members of society I thought she might have been exaggerating some of the finer points, but apparently not.

I am happy to report that I seem to have grown out of my standard go-to when life’s lobbing me lemons and I’ve not once considered getting a tattoo. I have instead decided to once again do the C25K, this time outdoors, because while I can buy German sausages, honey whiskey or a pre-paid funeral in the neighbourhood, I cannot join a gym. There is no gym. There is a plethora of young men in fast cars, but no gym. This suburb is gagging for a gym, but I am going to have to suck it up and run laps of the oval across the road from us in a giant $4 t-shirt I bought just for the occasion.

The pre-paid funeral business has been giving me pause for thought recently. Not because I want one, nor do I feel like I’m heading towards one, but because changing careers has meant I’ve been considering what I actually want to do. A previous partner once criticised me for being too empathetic (though to be fair, he was a near-Neanderthal when it came to feelings) and I do seem to be leaning towards careers where that might be a plus. I could also just be romanticising Six Feet Under though and I m going through a Claire phase and Claire was the only Fisher to have nothing to do with the funeral industry.

The things that make sense at 3am.

 

 

 

Unfunemployment

Today was my first day of funemployment.

I don’t think unemployment will actually be fun but I did plan to spend one single day relaxing.

I was going to start running again. I was going to go to the post office and pick up what is either a new Melvins t-shirt or a day planner to replace the one Delilah ate a few weeks ago. I was going to watch so much Orange Is The New Black.

Instead I woke up at 2am, 4am and 5am because my throat was filled with razor blades. Maybe I also had a fever, because Barry found me sitting on the lounge at 5am eating Nutella toast, confused and trying to motivate myself to go into work and pack up my desk.

Cut to 10am, I woke up and realised I’d fallen asleep and in the light of day, it was clear I had the dreaded manflu, feller of my father last weekend.

I had wanted to make him feel less like a plague victim, so I had insisted on hugging him, loudly proclaiming that never get the flu.

Not that I am competitive, but when this virus had my father in its grip, he manged to move six railway sleepers … on his own.

Do you know how heavy a railway sleeper is? It’s like two adult males, straining and shaking and rightfully concerned they’re going to drop it and break their feet heavy. The guy who delivered them refused to help move them even with our help. But Dad? Dad, riddled with the flu, moved six of them on his own.

I figured the least I could achieve was going to the shop to buy lunch. Bad move. The walk required about four hours sleep to get over.

I have banished Barry and Wuz to the other bedroom and am surrounded by all the drugs and the waters and I plan to hibernate until this is over.

An Elderly Man, On A Train.

I am standing in front of an elderly man on my train. His white hair is carefully and lightly combed over his scalp and he is wearing a large plastic pair of women’s sunglasses.

He studies us all through the dark lenses, his hands gripping a large suitcase on wheels.

The handle of the suitcase is decorated with blue and purple curly gift ribbon. I can imagine someone, probably a well meaning daughter-in-law, tied the ribbon to the suitcase to make it easier for him to spot on the carousel.

I don’t think he would’ve picked the ribbon himself.

The man he is sitting next to is clearly his son, and beside his son, sits his son’s wife.

The elderly man looks at me, studies me.

He turns to his son and mentions he’s noticed a lot of people carry shoulder bags now. In his time, everyone used briefcases. It’s not said with any judgement, just an observation.

Somehow the father and son start to discuss cars. The elderly man mentions his father owned an EH Holden. He paid several thousand dollars for it brand new. His son shakes his head at the figure, the response his father no doubt expected.

I try and guess the age of the son. He looks older than me, but not middle-aged. He is perhaps 40 at most. I wonder why in all the years this father and son have known one another they’ve never discussed the fact of the EH Holden and its cost. How do people who’ve known each other for so long have anything historic left to talk about?

The elderly man is distracted. He takes off the large plastic pair of women’s sunglasses and peers out the window to figure out where we are.

Many people and their luggage get on at International Airport and he is concerned about how he will manoeuvrer his suitcase to the door when it’s his turn to get off.

He mentions to his son that the carriage is quite crowded now and his son nods, before turning and speaking quietly to his wife.

The train slows to pull into Domestic Airport and he’s on his feet already, worried he won’t get off in time, wondering how to get his large suitcase through the crowd.

His son notices his father, on his feet, his back already turned and he reaches up and touches his hand, almost cupping it. His father turns to smile, but is clearly concerned, his mind already on checking his luggage, getting to his gate on time and using the toilet before he gets on the plane, where there any turbulence might make it hard for him to leave his seat alone.

The son stands, puts his arm around his father and hugs him, whispers something in his ear. It’s been a lovely visit, let them know when he’s home safely.

The trains gently halts and to the father’s relief, people have pre-empted his journey and have cleared a path for him. He shifts his suitcase between them and steps off the train.

His son looks out the window, hoping for a last wave, making sure he’s made it off.

The elderly man is standing on the platform, pulling out the handle of his suitcase, his son and his son’s wife already forgotten as he tries to make sense of the signs and figure out where he moves next.

Almost Ten Years On.

In 2005 I was unemployed for the four weeks it took for me to finish my thesis.

I moved into my parents’ house and sat at the dining room table every day and wrote a chapter on my least favourite novel of those I was studying. When I wasn’t writing about feminist science fiction, I was writing job applications for positions in Sydney.

For fun, I walked six kilometres every morning before it got too hot and the flies unbearable.

During my breaks from writing, I would do sit-ups and by the end of four weeks could do hundreds a day.

+++

In 10 days I finish up my current role.

I’m going to take up running in the morning, before it gets too hot and the traffic unbearable.

I am going to sit at out dining room table every day and write job applications.

During my breaks from writing I am going to walk Delilah up to the shops and buy fresh food and cook dinner every night.

 

Retiring the Pradas.

A few months ago I went through the extremely frustrating process of buying a pair of matte black Ciccio RETROSUPERFUTURE glasses from an online reseller and then we moved and I completely forgot to get them kitted out with lenses.

Today I went to an optometrist near work on the recommendation of a friend and in the course of the check up, needed to have a photo taken … of the inside of my eyeball.

It was really interesting. The optometrist and I sat huddled around his monitor as he showed me all the different bits that make up the inside of eyeballs, mine in this case. There were all my eye veins! And a healthy looking long medical term for a red bit! We both decided the photos could be a little sharper, so the resolution was adjusted and I hopped back in front of the camera and for $50 I now have a crisp photo of both my eyes on file.

He then put some anaesthetic drops in and the eyeball and the eyelids went numb so he could put some kind of medieval torture tool in my eyes. ‘Try not to blink!’ he said, which made me frantically blink.

Afterwards he fixed my eye make up for me and told me my new frames were groovy and I went back to work, squinting even more than usual until I could feel my eyes again.

 

University of C

I am currently engaged in a discussion on Twitter with two of the teaching staff at Canberra Uni, where I spent the year 2001.

It would be strange to be a student nowadays, being able to Internet stalk your lecturers and find them engaging in a gentle online bromance with one another.

My time at Canberra Uni was defined by poor marks (not for want of trying), stringent budgeting (I lived on $50 a week in non-catered accommodation and smoked, and basically survived by sheer luck more than anything else) and a flasher who was said to wear nothing underneath his trench coat other than the bottom half of a pair of jeans that he had cut off and glued to his calves to give the impression he was fully dressed until the curtains went up, so to speak.

To get to the nearest shopping centre meant passing through the dense bushes where he was said to lurk, but a poor student with a penchant for pizza could easily be persuaded to take the risk for the $5 large pizza Pizza Hut lunch deals. My friend Dave and I used to go there and order takeaway under the name ‘Stella’ because it amused us to force the staff to unwittingly imitate Marlon Brando’s famous line from A Streetcar Named Desire.

I’m not going to lie to you: Belconnen is on the quiet side and the Internet was really slow in those days. You got amusement where you could find it.

Were I a student there now, I’m sure I’d just be Internet stalking Glen and Scott.

On The Hunt

I have mentioned this elsewhere, so why not here? I am currently job-hunting, everyone’s least favourite thing after moving house, raw ginger and dreams involving carnival clowns.

The fun part is imagining completely new careers. One I have come up with after B’s recent visit to emergency is Happy Person Who Brings Water and Sandwiches To People Being Triaged. There’s a real need for that. We sat in the waiting room for hours, and while Barry coughed painfully under his duck bill-shaped face mask, I spent time talking to an older man about 16th century etiquette and if it is polite to look into a tissue post using it (no, under no circumstance, we both agreed) and worrying about a woman who’d been bitten by something and was silently suffering, biting her lip as tears streamed down her face, unnoticed by her husband and son who were hypnotised by their iPhones.

The nursing staff were busy and medical triaging doesn’t include things like surprising people with sandwiches and actually quite delicious convenience store cold tuna salad, but I really think there is room for that role.

Were I to become a professional Happy Person Who Brings Water and Sandwiches To People Being Triaged, I would have counselled the man and his son about iPhone addiction and how their respective wife and mother was a bit of a stunner and they were lucky to have her and she’s in pain so hold her hand and stop looking so awkward about her tears.

I would’ve had a basket of books and old Who magazines to hand out to people and we could’ve discussed how I’ve recently become quite fond of Kim Kardashian.

I’d have sat with the multiple boyfriends with their respective pyjama-clad girlfriends and asked them why even when presenting with flu-like symptoms they looked so fashionable with their hair so clean. I look worse after a night of restful sleep, let alone under fluorescent lights in a waiting room where a man who’s been brought in by ambulance with breathing issues is arguing with nurses about whether he should have a cigarette or not.

I would be stern about some things: really, no smoking in the doorway means no smoking in the doorway; the triage room is no place to try and start loud discussions about celebrity sex offenders; don’t cry when you see my boyfriend in his duck bill-shaped face mask because that makes me feel bad for finding it mildly amusing (come on! It was even the perfect shade of cartoon duck bill yellow!).

I would be warm and loving to others, pulling those in need close to my matronly bosom and telling them it would all be okay just so long as they remembered it was gauche to look in a tissue after using it.

I would make a great Happy Person Who Brings Water and Sandwiches To People Being Triaged.

Girlwood

house1

On Saturday we met my parents in Wentworth Falls to pick up Delilah and Wuz. Delilah was delighted to see us, but she’s delighted by people in general, so I don’t think she would have minded either way if we took her home or not. Pats, a bone to chew and something stinky to role in? Delilah is happy.

Wuz on the other hand was very happy to be home, regardless of it being a strange home that was not the one she left. She spent hours sitting in a silent huff in one of the cupboards, avoiding Delilah’s maniacal rampaging, before emerging with a very loud meow, like, ‘Guys! I’m here. Now, where’s my food and my litter and pats?’. She slept the first night in between our heads, purring contentedly.

house3

We’ve done most of the unpacking and everything seems to have it’s place and I love the new house. It’s my first proper grownup house. When Barry suggested having a housewarming, I didn’t cringe in fear, imagining guests falling into the kitty litter or suffocating on mould.

house4

The new neighbourhood will take some getting used to. It’s definitely less dog-friendly. Unlike Newtown where we could barely move without someone wanting to talk about Delilah, Earlwood seems more a suburb where people have backyard dogs and the backyard is where the dog stays. I have seen one other dog being walked in the week since we moved.

We’re close to a few interesting strips of shops which Barry has already explored and reported back on. I’m more like a cat, I approach moves and new neighbourhoods with caution, generally distrusting them until proven wrong. I discussed this with a psychologist once, how most moves I’ve made have been fuelled by something bad, so I find them very hard to deal with, emotionally. This move was driven by good things, but it’s happening during a stressful time in my life and I can’t enjoy it yet.

When the sun sets, I feel sad, but I don’t know why.

house2

2014 has been difficult, especially after 2013, which was a complete breeze, but when I look at my life it’s never felt more worth it.

 

In the forests / And in the dark places

We moved on Tuesday and it was definitely the worst move I’ve ever done.

It was pouring, the removalists couldn’t start until 2pm, they took our stuff to the wrong address, the GoGet car we booked was dented, the new house hadn’t been cleaned by the previous occupants, I had a panic attack, we ate a lot of jelly beans.

We are in now and slowly feeling better. As B said yesterday, this month has been a tsunami of shit. Deciding to move, losing the house we’d paid a rental deposit on, B being hospitalised, me having good and not-so-good news from my endocrinologist, and in the midst of it all, I have resigned from the place I’ve been employed for the last six years.

Last night we sat in bed with pizza and Futurama and made each other laugh and I realised I have the best little team in my life now. I have caring and very generous sisters and brothers-in-law and parents who back my choices and gun for me to do well and a partner who can make me see things logically and feel safe and a dog and a cat who are soft and cuddly.

On top of that, I have friends who remind me that when circumstances make me feel useless, I’m not and that’s what I really needed this week. I needed reminding of all the things I’ve conquered over the last ten years and exactly what it is about me that means I can tackle those things.

I’ve moved past the teenage dreams we all have of being special, standing in a spotlight, but I know the negative aspects of the last 12 months don’t define me, are transient or are other people’s projections.

Just Call Me Miles Gloriosus

I learnt a lesson the very hard way: do not be a braggart before a lease is signed.

Last Monday B had a giant fever and went to bed looking like he’d been in a sauna.

On Wednesday he was at home, sick, when the real estate agent left a number of messages for me to call him urgently, because the owner of the house we were supposed to move into next week had taken the house off the market.

I had an hour to get to Earlwood to inspect another (way more expensive) rental which B couldn’t get out of bed to come and see with me.

On Wednesday night, B staggered out and asked me to take him to hospital, which led to six or seven hours in the ER while he was tested for everything and pneumonia.

We gave notice on our current house and complained about the mould. The owner came around and was lovely about it all and the final inspection will be fine, but we’re now at the ‘between Tuesday and Wednesday next week we need to move, have a bond clean and a final inspection and get B well and get the animals back from Mum and Dad’s’ stage of the game.

It’s been a really difficult few weeks, as evidenced by the state of my skin, which looks like that of a particularly oily 14-year-old, but there are some silver linings:

- Mum and Dad very kindly took Delilah and Wuz to the farm so we have one less thing to worry about which we pack up. “Delilah” has been writing us emails on their progress and adventures;

- The new rental is the loveliest rental I’ve ever lived in. It has dark floorboards throughout, a new kitchen and a bathroom with a bath (!!!), there are built ins in all of the bedrooms and a backyard for the animals. It’s close to the train station and a huge dog park and in a suburb we’ve never lived in before;

- I bought is a new dinner set (the Fossil set in graphite and the Jett cuddle mugs in jade, canary and midnight blue) which means we’ll have something new and lovely to celebrate with;

- both sets of siblings have very kindly offered to help out, which makes me want to squeeze them all, good families are good.

The next update might be from our amazing new house!