Friday, September 26, 2014

The Other Blog

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the world!

For the past six months I've been keeping a sort-of-academic blog, writing weekly posts that are more (or sometimes less!) related to my PhD. Between that, my actual PhD, coursework, and roller derby, this blog has gotten a little dusty. I'll probably revive it at some point in the future, but for now you can find me at Horses for Discourses.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

2 years

It's been two years to the day since my Dad died.

Despite intentions to make the day one of celebration I find myself feeling very much as I was at this time on that day two years ago - washed out, tired, numb. Because he passed away in the early hours (2:30am), and I didn't sleep again until the following night, by the time it was 4:30 in the afternoon I was almost delirious with exhaustion and grief.

I was with family though, and that made it better. There was comfort in being with others who had loved and lost this man. I was with the same people on the first anniversary of his death, when we scattered the ashes of him and his wife in the paddocks of their former home.

This year, I am alone, with no-one who really knew my Dad around. So I thought I'd buy myself a really nice bottle of wine, and  drink to his memory. I'm sure he would have approved.

Though I am getting used to the world without him in it, I do still miss him.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Clearing out the past

I spent some time over this last weekend clearing out a bunch of stuff from the parental abode. Mum has decided she wants to rent out my room, so to make this possible I have to clear out the debris from the years I was living there (and a spot of accumulated debris from previous years too, of course!).

The last years I lived there were while doing my Masters degree, in 2004 and 2005. At that time I was also sort-of living with my then-boyfriend. I say 'sort-of' because he was actually living in the self-contained flat downstairs, rather than in the same house, but the proximity was enough that remnants from this time keep popping up - books he didn't want to take with him when he moved somehow found themselves onto my bookshelves, notes he's written me that I used as bookmarks at the time are left in books that are now being re-read, and a whole bunch of love letters and notes that had been neatly filed away.

I went through it all, and what I stopped to read made me simultaneously laugh and cringe,both at the overblown prose, and the fact that so many of the notes/letters he wrote me  were apologies for having hurt my feelings. Hmmm, there's something there methinks! If only we'd spent less time writing apologetic notes and more time realising that this relationship simply wasn't right (something I did know, deep down, but just tried to ignore, and to re-shape myself to fit into what I needed to be to make it work), then I wouldn't be left wondering why I wasted all those years with him!

Though, as Clinton points out, you never know what might have happened if things have been different - I guess that's his version of my 'Everything happens for a reason.' And in those years, I was also reminded by other paperwork and photographs, I also managed to do some cool stuff. I got two degrees - my BA and my Masters, I had a solo art exhibition, and I travelled a little with my dear friend Janet - hitching around Tassie, going to the Circus Festival, and going on hikes together. So, it wasn't really a complete waste of time, and I did achieve things, albeit on my own.

It wasn't just times with my ex I trawled through. I found letters from the late 90's, from my trip to Europe and from the time I lived at Condobolin for a few months. I found cards and kind words, and a handful of uni assignments too! I went through my ten photo albums covering the years from 1999 to 2004, and was brought to tears several times seeing photos of my Dad and I, together and smiling. I couldn't bring myself to recycle any of the cards he'd written me, no matter how trite. Seeing his distinctive block capitals handwriting is like seeing part of him inscribed on the world, and I am not yet ready to let that go.

I did throw a bunch of stuff out, some stuff went to charity, and a lot more went into the recycling bin, including the letters and notes from the aforementioned ex. I briefly wondered if I should send them to him so he could decide what to do with his words, but I think they are so of the past that it's right to get rid of them. I have packed up the photo albums and the letters I wanted to keep for storage, and there's a handful of things I brought back to Canberra, mostly books. Though it was an emotional sort of journey into my past, it feels cathartic to have cleaned out this long-neglected corner of Mum's house, and I'm glad to have done it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Confidence in me

Something that was brought rather forcibly home to me by my Westralian experience was that it's easy for confident people to be disliked.

So, fresh from this particular life lesson, I decided that I would tone down my confidence level (assisted somewhat by having my confidence actually dampened by the whole experience), and get more comfortable with being publicly doubtful of my abilities. Not so that people could try and make me feel better, but in the belief that it would prevent anyone being put off by me.

But you know what happened? I actually did lose a lot of confidence, and I became genuinely doubtful of my abilities in many things. Now, I know myself and my foibles pretty well, and I don't think I'm an arrogant person. In fact, I am pretty humble, and tend to downplay a lot of my individual achievements. I do love to share positive recognition of success with a team, but I am not super comfortable with being showered in praise as an individual. That being said, I am generally a pretty capable person, and it's never something I've doubted before. So where was all this doubt coming from?

It seems like I faked my lack of confidence until I actually began to embody being a not-confident person. And being like that sucks!

Through this I have realised that it's actually only insecure people who dislike confident people, and luckily I don't need to waste too much time on those types anymore. Being confident in my abilities is something I should be proud of, and fuck anyone who says otherwise.

So now I'm trying to be all Julie Andrews about stuff, and worry a lot less about how people react to me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Musings on unemployment

It's getting to the pointy end of January. The double-digit dates, when you can't really pretend it's holidays anymore, and it's time to get stuck back into the PhD. And yet, here I am, patently NOT reading texts on methodology, but meditating on all the ways I am still enjoying being unemployed.

Because I no longer come home from work late needing to quickly produce something for dinner, I have abandoned the weekly meal plan, an organisational device that I'd been using for at least three years, and am once again enjoying being creative in the kitchen, using seasonal produce.

Because I don't have any pressures on my time that I have not chosen for myself, I can bring myself to do chores that I once resented - washing dishes, doing laundry, even hanging up my clothes so I'm not just dressing out of the clean laundry basket the whole week.

Because I no longer have to deal with assholes on a daily basis, I have the emotional energy now to enjoy leaving the house in the evenings for social occasions or extra-curricular activities, instead of spending all my non-working hours on the couch, numbing my brain with episodes of CSI.

In fact, aside from the obvious no-disposable-income thing, the only down side to not having a job thus far is that when it's FORTY FUCKING DEGREES outside there's no air-conditioned workplace that I can escape to, but all things considered that's a pretty minor issue. After all, I could go to the library - any library, but the National Library is just down the road, and it has many useful resources I could be using to write my essay on research methodology. OR, I could just sit in my warm little house and enjoy not having to do anything for just a little bit longer.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: best and worst

The sun is setting on 2013...
So today is the last day of the year. I know I started this year feeling pretty hopeful, and while I'm ending it also feeling hopeful, there were some pretty bleak in-between-times that happened there.

Highlights and lowlights were all pretty closely intertwined. As an example, I went to Canada and saw the Northern Lights, which was amazing, but I also got such bad gastro that my guts were seriously fucked up for months afterwards, and I'm still dealing with the effects of it unfortunately. There was also some pretty negative step-family stuff that happened, but the upside is that I feel closer to my blood relatives now than I have in years. I am incredibly grateful to be part of such a strong, supportive, and loving network of people.

For part of this year I felt so trapped - living far from family and friends in Western Australia, saddled with a mortgage, and being bullied at work - and yet now I feel so free - back in Canberra, not working, and studying full time. It's so, so great to get to do what I want to do, to think about what I want to think about. One of the things that happens when you're being bullied is that you feel incredibly powerless. You don't think there's anything you can do to take back your power. Well, as a last resort I quit my job. It was the best thing I could have done. Now I find myself wondering how one (weak, pathetic, and terribly insecure) person could have gotten the better of me like that; the fact that I can now ask this question I take as a sign of my returning inner strength.

I don't know what 2014 holds for me. I don't feel desperate to embark on it like I did with 2013, convinced it would bring me new hope. I actually feel quite calm, sure that whatever else, the year ahead will bring new opportunities, new challenges, and hopefully many more occasions for happiness. Fingers crossed!

Goodbye old year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's all good!

It has been over 3 months since I last went to work. That's a quarter of a year! But it sure doesn't feel that long ago. A couple of weekends ago I went to visit a heritage site where I had an upcoming job interview, and when I walked into the property the heritage smell hit me, and I felt physically sick. Soon after I had been contacted to schedule that interview, my eye began twitching, and in the mornings I'd wake up with a sore jaw from having clenched it in my sleep. It was pretty telling to have such a physical reaction. I know I'll deal with it eventually, especially when I start working again and (hopefully) replace bad memories with good.

It's been 10 weeks since I moved back to Canberra, and I really am loving it. This is the third time I've moved to Canberra. The first time I enjoyed being here, in a superficial sort of way. Then I went to Tonga, and on returning I felt really disillusioned about the place. The city was so radically different to what I'd seen in the Pacific - in terms of priorities, climate, attitude. Tonga opened my eyes to aspects of my own culture, and in so many ways Canberra did not compare favorably to a tropical island paradise! Now, third time lucky, I feel like I am in a much better place to appreciate all that Canberra has to offer.

I feel lucky. Every morning I wake up, and I no longer dread the day ahead. Don't get me wrong, I am glad to have had the Westralian experience, and I don't regret going over there even though it was a very difficult time from start to finish. I'm glad both that I gave it a chance, and that we called it quits when we did.

The whole experience is quite a complex one to process. As time passes I'm sure I'll be able to find more positives in it, but I am very glad to be closing out the year on the east coast. I joke that the whole point of spending two years in Perth was just to make me appreciate what I have here so much more, but that's actually not far from the truth.

It's a relief to have the sense that "It's all good!" once more.