Tap All Over This Big World.

Tonight I rang a woman called Megan. When she looked at her phone, perhaps when it was ringing or maybe later on, she would’ve seen a number she didn’t know.

When I reached her voicemail, I was slightly startled and hung up without leaving a message. I don’t know Megan, I thought the number I dialed was for someone else, a number I have called so many times I was shocked I had made a mistake.

I had to search through the depths of my email to find the number I needed, eventually uncovering an old resume I had proofed.

I didn’t know what reaction to anticipate, but I wasn’t nervous. So many years of history with someone inevitably means you’ve experienced them all at some point.

It was, more than anything, a relief. Intense, but a relief.

I spent seven years of my life with a person and it didn’t work out and neither of us were grown up enough to be able to make it work and when it ended, it did so with a bang, not a whimper.

There was an easy, familiar shorthand still there, a little patchy, some details fuzzy, but it was there.

He climbed a literal mountain and figured some stuff out, climbed back down and started to work on being happy. Being a better person, to himself and to others.

And I cried when he told me this, because when it went so wrong, it hurt because every time I looked at him, there was a small part there that was a confused, sweet kid, not a bad guy doing all of this on purpose and because I was so combative and determined to salvage whatever stakes I thought were at play and we fought more against each other than for the relationship.

Tonight we exchanged kind words and meant it and I realised I felt genuine happiness for him.

I didn’t set out today to close this chapter. I’d been thinking about his mother, who used to call me Gert and who’d seemed sincere about wanting to stay in touch, but I’d let it slide, it seemed too much and too invasive back then.

I wanted to send her a Christmas card this year and couldn’t find her address.

I didn’t mean to unpack this box of memories tonight, but I’m sincerely glad I did.

Long Highway / Paralysing.

In 2011 I spent four weeks driving around America. I made a pact with myself when I got back: I would always have enough money in my bank account for the price of a flight to America. Just the flight. Enough that if I felt like it, I could book something at the last minute or buy flights when they were on sale.

It never happened.

Sometimes I wonder if a lot of my life choices in my thirties are being driven by having to be so responsible in my twenties.

I suppose I don’t feel like I need an escape plan anymore, but mostly I think I got tired of always being on top of everything. Which is stupid, that’s life.

I miss being on the road. I miss the feeling of being in a car and no-one knowing exactly where I was, except for the people in the car with me.

I think a large part of what I love about travel is the lack of constraint.You can have a map, you can know where you’re meant to spend the next night, but there’s absolutely nothing stopping you turning off at the next exit just to see what’s there, disappearing from any expectation.

I remember standing on a straight stretch of road in Arizona and trying to guess how many miles it was to the next bend in the road, near the horizon.

The black tar was the only sign of civilsation until some helicopters rose from somewhere in the distance.

It felt ominous, we quickly got back into the car until they passed overhead, like there was some kind of danger in being seen in the middle of nowhere, standing in the middle of a highway, doing nothing but staring at the horizon, amazed at how long it would take us to get there.

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9 out of 10 vets agree …

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Recent scientific studies have shown that Delilah is at least 12 times naughtier than the average three-year-old human child.

Her latest trick, which is illustrated above, is to jump over the small fence that blocks the side of our house. It is short enough for her to get over, but there’s quite a drop on the other side (when I say quite a drop, I mean I can step over it, but I’m not a corgi) and she can’t get back.

When it rains, and she’s been put outside for the night (she has an entire outside laundry to herself and a porch with coverage, it’s practically the Hilton), she knows she will look particularly cute and sad if she gets wet and looks at us from under those super long eyelashes of hers.

Her logic is that we’ll let her sleep inside, which we did for a couple of nights in the recent crazy Sydney weather. Never again. She was like a kid hopped up on sugar and wanted to play with her squeaky ball at 3am, or jump into bed with B and growl at me when I try and remove her, because she thinks B will protect her from me (usually true).

So she jumps the brick wall and barks and barks and barks and we have to get up and go out in the middle of the night in the rain and rescue her because we can’t just leave her and she knows it, hence the look on her face, above.

Thankfully, she only seems to do it when it rains.

For now.

Besides trolling us and The Wuz, her favourite naughty thing is hot chips, which obviously we don’t feed her.

It all began on an off-leash walk. She comes when called maybe 60% of the time unless there’s something more interesting going on. Like a dead cat to roll on (it happened), or another dog, or a light breeze.

On the night in question we called and called and she wouldn’t come, so I went to investigate and found her scarfing Oportos hot chips which someone had spilt on the ground. As I approached, she gobbled faster and faster and by the time I managed to haul her off, there weren’t many left.

She trotted after us for about ten metres, then stopped, gave us a look that said, ‘I’m sorry guys, but I love them more than you’ and raced away to finish them off.

That was months ago and she still visits that one spot every time we walk past it, just in case chance should have it that more hot chips magically appear.

 

 

 

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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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.

Scareport

Yesterday I had to go to the airport to pick up a watch.

It sounds like a scene from Pulp Fiction, but I assure you it is real.

There I was, carrying a ticking parcel through an airport I had no business being at.

Airports make me nervous because they are run by rules and filled with people who will get angry at you if you break the rules. I am conditioned by 13 years of Catholic schooling and not just Catholic schooling but Catholic schooling by De La Salle brothers and by nuns and not just by brothers and nuns, but by ex-nuns, the scariest of all religious figures.

I have a few mildly offensive theories as to why ex-nuns are more terrifying than regular nuns. Everyone knows the horrid feeling when a relationship breaks down. Imagine that the relationship was a marriage and your husband was none other than Jesus Christ and it didn’t work out. That’s what an ex-nun contends with when she slips out of bed every day.

So I do not like to break rules and I have a healthy fear of religious figures and airports make me nervous.

I’m also not entirely sure how secure airports are. There seem to be a lot of signs telling you where you are not authorised to go, but nothing other than Catholic guilt preventing you from doing so.

I was alert and alarmed as I tried to find my way out of the domestic terminal to the DHL building where my watch awaited me. It was difficult, I’d never left the airport without jet lag before and there seemed to be a lull in the arrival of planes, so I couldn’t even follow the zombified crowds pushing their way to taxis and my GPS was telling me DHL was located in the middle of a runway.

Eventually I found an elevator hidden under a set of stairs next to a utility closet and a threatening unmarked door. I tried to work out the likelihood that the door led somewhere very important and that not signposting the door was some kind of panoptic-esque deterrent from entering. I didn’t touch it in case of electrocution.

Finally I found my way out and was hit with a blast of humid Sydney air, a precursor to much worse weather ahead.

I could see the DHL building shimmering in the distance. “Bonjour, DHL,” I whispered to myself. “Bonjour.”.

I began an approximate seven minute walk to the building, keeping my eye out for other security features to be alert and alarmed about.

I watched the expressions on the faces of the drivers swooping past me to pick up arrivals. “Poor girl,” I imagined they were saying. “No-one to pick her up and she’s not even got sensible shoes to walk home in.”. I considered briefly attaching a sign to my front which would tell these busybodies that actually I was just there to pick a watch up in an approximate 14 minute round trip and then I would be on my way, thank you very much but suddenly something very strange caught my attention.

There, beyond a green sign which told me I was not to enter unless I had proper credentials and that the area was patrolled regularly, was a sight that made me almost renounce my Catholic guilt and break the rules.

In a large, fenced-off carpark lay a small cafe, like a mirage of a pond in the desert. Many men stood around this cafe, chatting noisily to one another, gesticulating wildly. I crept closer.

Hundreds of taxis were parked neatly in bays in front of the cafe, some occupied by drivers doing any manner of daily tasks: eating a sandwhich, talking on the phone, clipping their nails.

Weaving around the bays were cruising taxis, all seemingly following a particular route which made sense to them, but which never seemed to leave the car park itself.

Around and around they went and I began to feel as though I had seen something I shouldn’t have, like this was a factory where taxi drivers were made, or the graveyard where they came when their operating system had become infected with bugs and all they could do was steer in circles.

A limousine with dark windows slowly cruised past, causing me to jump and hurry on my way lest I be bundled into the boot and tortured until a forgot what I had witnessed.

After picking up my watch to some small fanfare when my required photographic identification was produced and there was some discussion as to why in person I didn’t appear to be wearing a wig of very dry straw, I hurried back to the airport, taking great care not to look anywhere I shouldn’t.

With my ticking package I boarded a train, and melting into the crowd, hoping to lose any security detail I had picked up on the way.

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.

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.

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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.

 

Resolution #3: Thou Shall Lift!

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There’s a whole thing I have about weight and exercise goals I have, but I don’t think they’re resolutions in a typical end-of-year sense. They are bigger projects, but there is something really specific I want to get back into in 2014 and that’s weight training!

This resolution is inspired by the gorgeous Kathleen, who is going to be my long-distance weights wizard inspiration in 2014.

My preferred training method previously has been to run for half an hour and then do circuit training while listening to Tool’s 10,000 Days. Only that album works for me with weight training. Training hurts and it’s repetitive and you need something to take your mind someplace else.

Lifting produces a rush like none other, which makes it an easy thing to stick with and progress comes quite quickly. 

I’m going to research the types of programs I want to do this year, and probably work with a trainer for a while, but to start me off, I’m lucky to live really close to a gym with an excellent weights circuit and an awesome mix of men and women who are really into the training.

One season changes as we wait for the next …

October to December tend to drag for me. Christmas holidays are looming, not quite close enough to be excited about, but plans for next year are definitely on my mind.

Some are smaller: I have almost all my reading for the rest of this year planned (finish Joan Didion’s We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, re-read a book that captivated me about five years ago: Normal Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song and a re-read of both Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood so I can read the last book of the trilogy MaddAddam over Christmas holidays); I have some ideas about some things I want to change about my share house, mostly in my room and the back yard to get them ready for summer; finish C25K again before the end of the year and update this here blog with some of the things I’ve been doing recently.

Some are medium-term plans: I need to sit down and actually budget now that my monthly pay is typically a standard amount; get into the swing on my new work hours (8am – 5pm) so I have time in the evenings to go to the gym and practice guitar.

The biggest plan though is finally planning another trip back to the US. At this stage planning is really preliminary, but I’ve already got three Google docs and changed plans from my initial idea to fly to Dallas and then a short-ish drive to New York, to another road trip, which has blown out to look like this:

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… and this:

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The drive from LA to Arizona is too amazing not to do again and take more time with and from Arizona to Texas … well, if we’re driving already, why not see more scenery? I also want to spend more time in the Pacific Northwest and San Fran as I didn’t get much of a feel for the latter in particular last time.

At this stage April is on the table but I want to actually book flights after Christmas to make it real.