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.





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.