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je-2In a shocking turn of events, I have not written any more of my novel since last week. My idea now seems very slight and unimportant in light of world events. Instead, we have moved back into our house after the renovation, and I have spent most of my time dealing with an existential crisis that has taken root in the rich compost of all the stuff in our house.

I need to cull our belongings. This is a truth universally known. But I am also a sentimentalist at heart. I know how you’re meant to get rid of things: ask do I wear them/use them/need them? Could someone else benefit from them? One or two yeses and out they go. Well, that’s all fine in theory. But in reality? There are more questions than that.

Here are but two of the quandaries I have been wrestling with. Multiply this by a few hundred and you have an idea of why I am not achieving a lot.  (more…)

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Sample bookshelf from my parents’ attic: Just one of the many collections of books that tells you probably more than you need to know about my family.

Our renovation is about to begin. We have packed everything from one half of our house and jammed it into the other half. The builders are going to knock out few of our walls, fiddle around with the layout a bit, and put in a new kitchen. The house is very overdue for some care and maintenance, but knowing the renovation was approaching we’ve treated it like a teacher treats their class in the last weeks of the academic year. Gradually everything has fallen apart, and we’ve stopped caring and worked around it. It’s been the domestic equivalent of the teacher putting on a video of ‘Behind The News’ every day for two weeks and reading a book while the class flicks spit balls around and braids each other’s hair.

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Dumbledore (left) and Huntsman Who Did Not Heed Me (right)

Sydney’s in the middle of a plague of spiders. Summer forgot to end and for weeks the weather has been like a skipping CD: humid, 30 degrees, sunny – every single day. Mostly people have been enjoying this, except for the fact that you cannot walk anywhere without charging face first into a spiderweb. For safety, you have to walk with one arm flailing in front of you, like a Dalek at a Donald Trump rally.

Apparently because it rained a lot in January there has been a boom in spider food, aka bugs, and the subsequent warm dry conditions meant that more baby spiders than usual have been surviving.

We’ve met some delightful spiders this year. There is a small spider who lives in the passenger-side wing mirror of my car. For safety when driving I have to wipe his web off most mornings with a piece of my children’s artwork, which I mostly keep filed on the floor of the car. I then fling the web collage out the window into the garden. That spider doesn’t seem to mind and he creeps out to start rebuilding the web whenever I stop the car at the lights. (more…)

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ramekinsFor 2016 I have made only one New Year’s resolution: to face the truth. It’s a big one, but it’s nice and versatile. It covers a multitude of things I think could be improved about my life.

I will face the truth about the Pilates DVDs. This is the year I will stop taking Pilates DVDs on holidays with me. I’ve been dragging the same two all over the world for about nine years and do you know how many times I have done Pilates on holidays? Zero times. They make me feel guilty for not doing Pilates on holidays when I don’t even do it when I’m at home. This foolishness has got to stop.

I will face the truth that I prefer exercising indoors. I wish I liked running out in the fresh air, with the dogs and the show-offs, but honestly, it’s too hot and sunny, there are too many people watching, and the television screens are too few and far between. The only way I can justify watching the kind of crappy TV shows I like is to watch them while riding the exercise bike or doing crunches or squats. So that is what I shall do. (more…)

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compostbin

Hiding in the corner, not doing its job well. Come on, compost bin, lean in.

Hello! Well, Mental Health Week came and went last week, and with it my intentions to write a really great post about mental health. I didn’t, because my mental health got in the way. What a jape! Mental health, you trickster, you.

The last few weeks my mood has been, like the Sydney weather these days, running very hot and cold, with a side of near constant anxiety.

I’ve been anxious about my little girl, who struggled all through the school holidays with the bullying issues she has been confronting at pre-school. She seemed to have read some textbook on being a small child and instead of behaving like a sensible adult about it, as she normally does, and thinking and discussing the problem until it is manageable, she behaved like a four year old and dealt with the problem by drawing on the living room carpet and cutting her own hair. So there was that.

There were also a lot of weeping meltdowns (from her and me), plenty of fraternal envy (mainly her, although I do have a brother living in New York so a low level of fraternal envy is a constant for me), topped off with some sleep regression (both of us). This culminated in a weekend of fevers, just before school resumed, and she now has a terrible cold. On the up side, things have improved at preschool this week and she is generally a lot happier. I on the other hand, have been left in a heap. I’m not as resilient as she is.

We’re also planning a fairly huge renovation of our house, which scares the crap out of me. So much money. So many decisions. So many panic attacks to have in tile shops.

Our plans look so lovely and sensible, and like they will solve so many of the issues the rabbit warren of a downstairs of this place currently has, but I can’t help wondering, when I look at those plans, if the people who previously renovated the house felt the same way when they created all these problems. Did they think it was a really awesome solution to have the main entrance of the house open straight into the toilet? Did they think seven doorways within a two-metre square space was going to look fabulous and lead to a relaxed flow of traffic? Did they have a reason for putting the only phone point so far from a power point, so you have to have cords draping all over the kitchen? Am I just those idiots, with Pinterest?

Basically, my mental state at the moment is precisely analogous to our compost bin. There is a lot of stuff in it, but it’s not breaking down properly. There are too many food scraps and not enough green waste. It’s sort of rotting a bit, in a smelly way, but it’s not turning into compost. And now there’s no room to put anything else in. It really needs to be dealth with: removed from the bin and turned, thoroughly, but ain’t nobody got time for that. So we have squeezed some bought compost in and a handful of worms from my mum’s house and put the lid on and we’re going to ignore it for a while. That’s how my brain is.

I think perhaps I need to write more. For me, writing mixes the eggshells and the carrot peelings with the grass clippings and creates a bit of heat in my head. Maybe heat that will break all this crap down into some lovely dirt I can grow things in. I’ll plant seeds of inspiration and grow a beautiful garden of intensely laboured metaphors. But probably the fucking possums will just come and eat them.

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tupperwareWe’ve had a spate of rainy days in the last few weeks, which means May Blossom has spent less time in the backyard ostensibly decorating the bricks with pavement chalk but really improvising the face make-up of the characters from Cats on herself and her brother, and more time inside immersing herself in imaginary worlds. Some of these imaginary worlds are fantastic: ‘The Witch in the Woods’, for example, or ‘Castle Doctors’ (tending to people who have been run through with lances, or have splinters from battering rams, or have burns from boiling oil). (more…)

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nearly 3-1

Tomorrow is May Blossom’s third birthday. If you’d asked me three years ago what I thought my life might look like now, I would have looked at you like you were crazy, because I now realise I never really looked much further than a few days ahead.

Pregnant, I could only focus on the birth. Once I had a newborn I couldn’t picture her as a toddler. As a toddler I couldn’t picture her as a pre-schooler. When I was pregnant with Garnet I couldn’t see how I could ever love another baby. Until a few weeks ago I couldn’t picture ever being able to work again for money. But lo and behold, here I find myself, 20 hours short of three years into this mothering business, and this morning, while my daughter rather too expertly navigates her way around ABC’s catch-up channel on the iPad, her 10-month-old brother naps in the pram, and I sit in the window seat writing this, I have already worked for three hours. It is 9.15.* (more…)

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