BX

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.

I Can’t Wait To Find You One Day.

Yesterday we sat down and did something we’ve both be dreading: Our budget.

We’re trying to save for the wedding (362 days to go!) and a holiday (drive around New Zealand? Drive around … America?!) and a house deposit. So you know, not much (so much, so very, very much).

B got a promotion a month ago and I start a new role at work next week and it means money is going to be less of an issue than it is at the moment and it’s really time I stopped buying novelty tampon holders.

When we actually sat down, it didn’t look as bad as I expected! Sure, I’m going to have to get used to the idea of delayed gratification, which is a (non-tampon) novelty for me, but everything’s covered and I think we’ve actually over-budgeted for some things.

As I do every November, I kind of give up on the year and get excited about January and starting things anew, but I’m trying to force myself to use the next two months to sort through any baggage I don’t want to bring with me into 2016.

That includes:

  • Doing the C25K again, which I’ve left JUST enough time to fit in before the end of December;
  • Getting ready for a kickass summer semester at uni;
  • Fitting in a couple of little trips (Hello Canberra! Bonjour Millthorpe!)
  • Planning my 2016 reading list (First up: the entire Neopolitan Trilogy, of which there are actually four books, all in a row, then some Marie Colvin)
  • Getting all of my organisational stationery in order! (Calendar by PapioPress; notebook and 2016 diary by Mi Goals)

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I’m slowly learning that you don’t have to make changes smoothly and perfectly and never make a mistake or have a bad day and it’s kinda liberating and hard work feels good.

The Wandering Wolf

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I am not a huge podcast listener. I used to listen to a couple Kevin Smith did and then stopped being able to keep up with them all, and I was addicted to Serial, along with everyone else.

Lately I have been revisiting a podcast I got about 30 episodes into a few years ago, Wandering Wolf.

I used to listen to Wandering Wolf while gardening in my old house in Newtown and I’ve recently gone back to the beginning to start over, and I listen as I drive to and from work and they’re just as good the second time around.

I can’t tell whether or not you have to be a fan of Yoni Wolf‘s music to appreciate the podcast. Maybe? It certainly helps to have some idea about his background, just for a point of reference for some of the people he talks to/about, but beyond a bit of Wikipedia crib-noting, I think you could probably just wing it and enjoy.

My favourite episodes so far include:

+ Episode 4: Andy Bothwell (Astronautalis)

+ Episode 5: Amy Miller (Super funny Portland comedian and genius behind the Sorry About Your Dad podcast)

+ Episode 8: Will Weisenfeld (Baths)

+ Episode 12: Chris Adams (HOOD, Bracken)

+ Episode 16: Kathryn Beckwith (kitty (pryde))

+ Episode 20: (Open) Mike Eagle

+ Episode 22: Stephanie Mickus (comedian, can be found on the Tweets as @smickable)

I hope you enjoy, and if you do … keep wandering!

Blood Roses

This year is still proving … testing.

I don’t really know what’s up, which is probably part of the problem, I’m used to being able to pinpoint what buoys me or what weighs me down. This year I feel like I’m caught in a bit of a rip, which is fine, because anywhere I might land seems lovely!

Maybe it’s just being in the rip. It’s exhausting paddling away.

Luckily I have B on the support boat, yelling encouragement and keeping an eye out for sharks. I wonder how far I can take the ocean analogy? B offers to pee on my leg when the bluebottle stings of life get too much? Something definitely just got too much.

Anyway, I’ve been making an effort to make home as stress-free as possible, somewhere I like being.

Woolworth’s had bunches of roses for $10 the other day and I couldn’t help myself. I’ve really fallen in love with roses, after having three thriving bushes of my own in our front yard last summer.

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A lot of people ask me about the Ronald Reagan bust. It’s by a guy called Frank Kozik. You may know him from such things as Labbits (another thing that never fails to make me happy) or any of a bunch of other Kid Robot things. The Gipper busts ran in limited editions of 50 in a bunch of colours a few years ago now. I spent more on it than I’d care to remember, but I paid for it with a work bonus, so it seemed like an apt capitalist indulgence.

The record is by a group called Divorcee.

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I also tried to do something with the outside of the house.

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The table is from Ikea, as are the cacti.

The angry yellow rhino is from Kmart, as is the candle,

The swizzle sticks come from old casinos in Vegas and the lime comes from our very own lime tree!

We tried to enjoy a late G&T on the front porch the other night, but basically living on the M5 doesn’t make for relaxing at the time of day, but late summer evenings will be much better, I’m sure.

The Tail of Snoopy

Dogs are like tattoos, once you have one, you immediately want more; however, unlike dogs, tattoos don’t need to be walked, fed and they don’t pee inside.

After we bought Delilah, we discussed getting a second dog, not straight away, not even in the medium term, but we decided that at some point, we would like a flock of corgis.

We knew we weren’t ready for another puppy yet. Puppies are no walk in the park, unless you’re actually walking them … in a park, so we wanted to wait until the time was right, maybe when we next move and are settled down in one spot.

Still, we started to sense Delilah might respond well to a buddy. When we lived in Newtown it was dogs galore, all the time, but in our new neighbourhood, we don’t see many at all, not even in the dog parks. People just seem to have dogs that stay in the backyard and we can go for weeks without even meeting another dog on a walk.

So we thought about what we wanted to do.

And we decided on this: we wanted to find an older dog. An older rescue dog, a dog that might have trouble finding new owners because of their age, a sweet, old guy looking for a retirement home.

I started the hunt. I found one old gentleman, a corgi cross, who’d been in a foster home for over a year. Turned out he was a bit bitey, so we crossed him off the list.

I tried to convince B that adopting an older Papillon didn’t even count as adopting a dog, because they’re basically just a set of fluffy ears.

One day I was scrolling and a saw a guy.

I scrolled past.

I scrolled back.

I clicked the link and read a little about him.

I scrolled some more.

I scrolled quickly back and copied the link and send it to B.

The link was for a old beagle … an old, old beagle, all of 12 years, which is 64 in beagle years!

His name was Snoopy and in the pictures he was relaxing in the sun.

Now, I know beagles, the dog I grew up with, Bill, was part beagle.

I knew they have noses like magnets for smells, that they are water dogs and hunting dogs and that they’re sturdy and like to eat (like corgis!) and that they have soft, floppy ears and have a nice temperament and a deep bark.

I emailed his foster mum. She was a bit cagey about the details, and had only had Snoopy for three weeks herself, but we arranged a time for me to meet him and bring Delilah along.

On Thursday, in the pouring rain, I loaded Delilah into her carrier and we headed to the Central Coast. It was a stressful drive and traffic was awful. Just as we reached the outskirts of Gosford, Delilah managed to unzip her carrier and suddenly popped up next to me like, “Hey! How’s it going? What are you doing?”.

We went to the meeting spot, a horrible little park with nothing besides a grim toilet block, a graffiti-ed basketball court and a sheltered picnic table. Three young guys stood around a car parked outside the toilet block. I started to feel like I’d made a huge mistake.

A few cars drove up slowly and did U-turns and left.

Finally a black car came to a halt, and in the back was the face of a curious beagle, ears pricked.

It was Snoopy.

We introduced the two dogs, Delilah was far more excited than Snoopy, who sat near his foster mum’s feet at stared off into middle distance.

She told me a bit about him, there’s no obvious history of physical abuse, but he shows behaviours that suggests he was yelled at a lot.

We sat in her car and filled out the transfer of ownership forms, both dogs in the back.

She gave me a quite substantial discount on his advertised price, because he was so old and she didn’t expect much interest in him, then she handed me his leash and he was mine.

I loaded both dogs into the back seat, Delilah into her carrier, but  Snoopy moved up to the front passenger seat, sat down and stared quietly out the window.

I felt a pang. I remembered one afternoon many, many years ago when my family first adopted Bill. He sat on the seat, staring sadly out the window the whole way home and it was weeks before we even heard him bark.

This wasn’t going to be like getting a puppy, there were heartstrings involved in this one.

We began the drive back to Sydney, Snoopy alternating between looking out the window and trying to sleep.

I chatted to him a bit and gave him a few pats.

We were almost home, heading through a tunnel in slow traffic and I had my hand resting in the gearstick.

Suddenly Snoopy sighed, and shifted closer and rested his head on my hand.

Here was a guy who needed us.

+++

It’s only been a few days now, but Snoopy is doing much better.

He’s shy and scared, so he never leaves my side, but at the same time, flinches when I pat him.

Delilah likes to jump on him and Wuz, after a brief moment of “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT AND WHY ARE THERE TWO OF THEM?!”, doesn’t seem phased at all.

Snoopy has quickly chosen a place, on the couch, under the heater, so we spend time there and I watch TV or read and he just chills.

He’s really enjoyed going on walks and has sudden bursts of excited energy where he skips along.

Last night we went to an enclosed dog park and he and Delilah both made a beeline for a giant muddy puddle and splashed around.

From the word go, they’ve taken to sleeping curled up together and sharing a bed.

He’s not great at always making it outside to pee, but for now we’ll put that down to living in his third home in three weeks and being nervous. He’ll sort it out.

It’s a very different relationship to the one we had with Delilah. We needed her, whereas in Snoopy’s case, he needs us.

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And then there were two.

To The Rest Of Forever

Many years ago, I started hearing about a man, B. Everyone seemed to know B: my friends, workmates, friends of one of my sisters, he was the type of person with 500 Facebook friends.

I first saw him at a picnic in Camperdown Park. I’d say “met”, but I’m not sure we actually spoke. There’s a great photo he took that day: me, sitting with my friend P. It’s not only one of the only photos of me taken by someone else that I like, but I also have a very distinct, “I’m studiously ignoring the very interesting man taking my photo” look on my face.

It would be years before we would meet again, I was dating someone, as was he, and our paths never crossed.

We would chat on social media, I posted him a book I had two copies of when he was ill, I very much appreciated him reaching out when I was really sick with depression and anxiety, so I didn’t feel like it was particularly strange to go out for dinner with him and several other friends on a Tuesday night a few years ago. We drank a lot of tequila and had so much fun, I walked home across two suburbs just to come down from the post-dinner high.

A month or so later, he invited a small group of people to his new place, the perfect bachelor pad in the city, with a pool on the roof. I was nervous about going. These were attractive people in attractive swimwear. B assured me it was fine, I could hang out with him.

The night was a lot of fun, many alcohols were consumed and at one point I could see B had given up trying to get everyone’s attention to organise dinner and was ordering food for us. I listened in as he ordered two pizzas. Two seafood pizzas. Two seafood pizzas on gluten-free bases.

“This guy is crazy!” I thought, “I like him even more now! Who orders two identical pizzas to feed a party? Who orders two of the grossest pizzas to feed a party?! I need to make him mine!”

I followed him to the pizza place to pick the order up and told him pretty much that exact thing and then kissed him.

We’ve been together ever since. At first it wasn’t super serious, neither of us had expected or maybe even wanted a relationship right then and there, but we had fun. We watched a lot of movies and played a lot of video games, tried a lot of different food and drank a lot of gin.

I realised quite quickly that something huge was different with B. I was not anxious at all, beyond the first few standard new relationship hiccups. I knew much earlier than he did that I loved him and I felt absolutely fine and safe and secure waiting to see if he felt the same.

Moving in together was a similarly easy conversation, as was getting a dog.

It turned out getting married would be the same. It just kind of happily came up in conversation about a year ago.

It was something we both thought we might actually be interested in with each other.

We went to visit my parents last winter and he asked my dad to go for a walk with him. They were gone for a while and it started to snow. I thought it was slightly strange.

Various things happened and changed (Pneumonia scare! Moving house! Going back to uni! Changing jobs!) and before we knew it, a year had passed.

We went to B’s parent’s farm last week, for a holiday, for some time away from the city and on the 25th of June, B proposed and I said yes, because I’ve known for a long time that he would ask and I would say yes, because it’s always seemed like that would be the perfect thing to do.

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So, to the rest of forever, with my best friend.

Real Estate Reality.

As should be evident now, trawling real estate has become a new favourite hobby of mine, or an ‘Internet happy place’ as I like to call it.

Previous Internet happy places have included Tumblr and Etsy, but the first is a bit too distracting and the latter a bit too expensive, so Domain is where I mostly go for kicks.

It serves two purposes: the first being that I love real estate photos. I get such a kick out of seeing what other people do with their homes and what accidentally ends up in some shots if you look close enough.

Secondly, we’re taking the first teeny, tiny steps in home ownership, not a sentence I ever thought I’d type.

B and I have been lucky in that we have very similar goals to one another. We both grew up in the country and want to end up back there one day. B wants goats, I want a flock of corgis and both of those things require space.

At the moment work ties us, B in particular, to metropolitan cities, so we’re having to factor that in.

Life for me is slightly easier, I can go wherever I can study.

Like almost everyone I know, we’ve been priced out of Sydney, even the very edges of it now and we pay so much rent in our current place that it’s not super sustainable as far as saving for a house deposit goes.

So we have discussed other options: the Blue Mountains or another, less expensive metropolitan centre.

I feel like it’s one of those things that’s going to bubble along until something changes and it all happens at once in a flurry of activity.

Until then, I’m obeying B’s rules: no crazy buying a house without telling him and if I really need to show him 50 houses a day that meet our criteria (wood floors, backyard, minimal renovations required, sunny), then I email them to him and stop forcing him to browse Domain with me after work.

 

It’s Rainin’ Again …

It’s raining in Sydney. You may have heard about it because you may be sick of Sydney people talking about how it’s raining.

I think we talk about it because Sydney is in no way set up to handle rain. Someone sneezes near a train and the whole network goes down, so in weather like this (which is quite epic and record-breaking), the whole city ceases to function properly.

Our street, for example, is the exit for one of the main artery roads feeding into Sydney and it was closed down today because it flooded. Whole suburbs were gridlocked in traffic as a result, as the neighbourhood ducks happily surfed the streets.

B drove me to work this morning and when we crossed the creek, it hadn’t even burst its banks and it was barely sprinkling. The traffic was hectic, but it was approaching peak hour.

About four blocks from my work, a giant semi-trailer, slowly ground against our car, pushing us to the left. We are okay, the car is mostly okay, but I’d forgotten that my body responds to shock by trying to put itself to sleep, so when I showed up to work (I’d called ahead to warn them I was running late because of the truck) everyone wanted to know if I was okay, and I wanted a giant nap.

By the time B drove home, the road was well and truly flooded and the round trip must’ve taken a few hours.

Delilah has been happy to have him working from home and being allowed to sleep inside, although, give her an inch and she’ll take a mile of wet weather privilege. Her bones are inside, suddenly and she’s been commandeering whatever couch the cat wants to sleep on.

She and B went to investigate the neighbourhood.

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Just a bit of water.

 

Stress junk, trigger warnings and nudity.

My first uni assignment is due in a few weeks and it appears relatively simple, which can be a stumbling block for me because I see something simple and then second guess myself and make things hideously complicated.

At least I guess I know I do that this time around.

I decided to join UNSW’s library, mostly because I have friends who study there and because the guy I spoke to at Sydney Uni was really rude.

I went to pick up some books on the weekend and discovered that old looking books act as some kind of first-year student trigger for me.

Most of the books are hardback and don’t have dust jackets, so I almost keeled over in shock, because they all looked about 60 years old and I was terrified I’d have to do an assignment with horribly out-of-date information and fail.

Turns out you can take the clothes off any hard-covered book and it looks old and worn.

Kinda like me.

One Little Flicker Of Light

I’ve been reading a lot about the death of comedian Harris Wittels. I’d not heard of him before, but reading about him, discovered I’m a fan of many things he’s created and that a lot of people I know really loved his work and are really sad today.

People who knew him are devastated and angry and confused and almost preemptively nostalgic for something so soon gone.

All those reactions make sense to me. Certainly drugs, if that is what killed Harris, can take lives suddenly, but sometimes they creep in, slowly snatch away parts of people we love, replace those parts with things we don’t understand, or sometimes downright hate.

It can be almost like seeing them slowly erased: you begin to lose them far before the final moments.

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One night in the tale-end of winter in 2009, I was sitting on the fence outside the tragic redbrick apartment building I lived in at the time. The courtyard was continuously scattered with garbage, the police a fairly regular presence. The rent was cheap and I didn’t know any better.

I was waiting for a friend to show up. It had been three months since his brother’s suicide and I’d promised him homemade lasagne if he promised to spend the night with us.

I’d spent all day cooking it from scratch, wanting to let the mince simmer properly so it would be perfect.

He was running incredibly late. He’d called for directions several times.

Finally his car slid past, I waved and watched him struggle to park further up the street.

When we hugged, he didn’t let go and I thought nothing of it. It was a strange time, his brother’s death kept ricocheting, like an echo that wasn’t growing faint.

It wasn’t until we were almost at my front door that I realised he was high. More than high, I realised he was high on heroin.

I followed him in, frantically miming injecting myself to my partner at the time and another friend.

He sat on the couch as we all stood silent. He started to tell some stories, there was a lot of forced laughter and sideways glances.

I felt stupid. There was my stupid lasagne in the kitchen, like some kind of kitsch Florence Nightingale band-aid for a problem that was far bigger than I’d realised.

I served it anyway. He praised it, swallowed several mouthfuls and then fell asleep mid-sentence.

While he snored, we stared. I looked for track marks on his arms, something I’d seen on television. I can’t remember now if I found any because the rest of the night was so devastating.

He woke up, grinned at us and said, ‘Well. I guess that’s why they call it going on the nod.’.

This was some sort of punishment for something.

Maybe for not hurting as much as he was.

Maybe for not being a salve for his pain.

This was definitely something he intended for us to see.

He went outside for a cigarette and I took his phone. Maybe I had a vague idea I would call his mother.

Suddenly everything got very serious, very fast.

He was throwing up everywhere and I was locked in the laundry with my cat.

I was terrified, and it’s only recently that I’ve realised I wasn’t scared of him dying, I was scared of the strength of the drug, I was scared that anyone, anyone’s body, could live through that.

It was violent and chaotic, a reaction to the distress his organs were in, frantically trying to process the drug.

He threw up for the next nine hours, on and off.

When he wasn’t throwing up, he was joking around, listening to music, smoking cigarettes, pretending it wasn’t horrible and confronting that he needed to excuse himself to vomit in my bathtub over and over.

At one point I hissed at him, ‘You brought this into my house? This was supposed to be somewhere safe for you.’.

It was the only thing anyone said to him about it that night, though mutual friends later told me it’d shocked him and was the precursor to getting clean.

I don’t know if that’s true. Those are two very small sentences against the weight of that night.

He made it through.

Heroin was the length he was prepared to go to, to numb the pain he was in and I couldn’t hate him for that.

I still don’t know how you save people from it.

I’m unwilling to say how he later explained the appeal.

I will say that he was the first people who made me realise addiction is an illness and not necessarily a choice and sometimes it’s an escape from things no better or less harmful.