Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My husband, who can be quite cynical, reckons that people watch television so they can have something to talk about the next day.

Since returning from Tonga I haven't really gotten back into watching TV (apparently DVDs of TV shows don't count!), and mostly that's fine. But yesterday I walked into a conversation about Masterchef, and it suddenly struck me that I did feel like there was something happening that I wasn't part of. I had nothing to add to the discussion on Masterchef, and so got what I'd come for and left.

And now I think about it, there is quite a lot of conversation that centres around "Did you see that show about...?" or "OMG, can you believe [insert name here] got through to the finals?!" It's kind of like talking about the weather. Which I do, quite seriously. My manager and I both ride our bikes to work, so our first conversation of the morning is inevitably about the weather - how cold or hot it was, what layers we did or didn't need. Then in the afternoons one or the other of us might check the radar to see if there's any rain threatening for the ride home, and discuss that. This might sound boring or trite, but when you're actually experiencing the weather - and, to a greater extent, if your livelihood depends on the weather, as does that of farmers - you tend to take it quite seriously, and it becomes more than just a conversation-filler.

I don't really mind the feeling that I live under a rock, which I occasionally get when people start talking about TV shows these days. Sure, there's the occasional Facebook status update I don't understand, and people talking about the people on whatever reality TV show as though they know them, but it's pretty trivial. Hopefully when it comes to more meaningful things we can still connect as people on a deeper level. You know, like when talking about the weather!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Musing on a year of marriage

We were both skinnier when we first got together. Me because I was recovering from a big grief that had left me unable to eat, and C because he lived a bachelor life, which meant baked bean jaffles for dinner and a bean bag as his only furniture. I was preparing for a massive hike (which you can read about here if you're interested), and knew he liked walking, had roamed the streets and bushland of Canberra in his years here. We did a couple of walks together, up Black Mountain (when he refused a dinner invitation), and then up Mt Tennant (when he didn't refuse). The photo above was taken at the very top of Mt Tennant, from the firetower up there, and it was before we got together. It's funny, we're not even touching.

A very short two days later it was on, our first 'date' was a late night drink at Tilley's. The next day we chucked sickies (we worked at the same place, the emails that circulated: "Isa Menzies will not be in today"; "Clinton Paine will not be in today" were akin to a public announcement), and walked up Mount Majura. We followed that up with dinner at Tudo. It was a good day, except C tripped over the dog and cursed her. I wondered then if they'd ever get along. Little did I know...

Little did I know then that what was just "good for now" has ended up being great for four years, with the legs to (hopefully) go a lot futher; little did I know then that, even though she spewed with anxiety the first night he stayed over, my dog would come to be HIS dog! Little did I know then that we'd move into a tiny cottage in Ainslie, and add a rabbit and chooks to the menagerie; and little did I know that it was possible to be myself while being with someone who adored me, that I could actually live the life that I wanted to - even if that meant being on my own in another country - and that here was someone who would support me in that. There was a lot I had no idea about, four years ago.

After you get married, a lot of non-married people ask you if things have changed. We'd been together a relatively short period of time. To get engaged after 2 1/2 years together is quite quick these days! So I'm not sure if the changes are part of growing into the relationship, or actually attributable to marriage. But yes, things have changed. It's so subtle, about the only concrete thing I can say is that our attitude to money now is that it is very much a shared resource. We always took the attitude that 'it all works out in the wash' in the first place, but now it's much more "what's mine is yours", even moreso than before. I asked C the other day what marriage had changed for him, and his reply was hilarious: "Before, I wasn't sure what to call you - my partner? My girlfriend? Now I can call you my wife." In typical Clinton fashion, it's very logical. He also says that this is a stronger association, and that our relationship feels more permanent.

Today marks a year of marriage, and four years together overall. I wonder if I will ever stop marking the dual anniversaries? It's not like the 3 years we spent together before this last one count for nothing - we moved in together after only 6 months, got the rabbit, built the chook house, created the garden beds - all before we ever thought of getting married. It will be interesting to see how it feels throughout the years.

Anyway, if you're interested, there's some pics of how we celebrated our wedding/general anniversary as husband and wife.

Friday gets to be an Anniversary Dog; she doesn't seem too happy about it!

We used our wedding china for the first time - a lovely gifty from Vicky & Michael made our breakfast just that little bit extra special.

Mmm, pancake stack!

Shadow the chicken wants to see what's happening inside

Clinton picked a bouquet from our garden - one bloom for every year we've been together

Picnic at the wedding site on Mt Majura. The weather was even more unpredictable than it was on our actual wedding day, though they say "Happy is the bride who is rained on", and I stand by that!

The wind blows the umbrella inside out, but I'm enjoying the Moet too much to care, really. Check out the fingerless gloves - they give me a hobbo Mary Poppins look!

This lichen will stay and grow and mature for years to come, much a like a good marriage

We did give her a treat, but she seemed to enjoy chewing on sticks.

The sun came out at last - hurrah! Happy anniversary!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Work Crisis

I moved to Canberra on January 22nd, 2006. Three weeks later my then-boyfriend dumped me, and I started living the life I wanted to live. I met another bloke, one who was “just for fun”, but then it turned out we had so much fun together that there was no reason to end it, and now we’re married. In 2008 I got to travel to Tonga, and have the experience of living and working overseas, where I was actually making a contribution (of sorts!), not just being a backpacker in London like everyone else. I left behind a job I liked, and saw no reason that it would not continue to be a job I liked when I got back to Australia.

I came back from Tonga in May 2009, and started back where I’d worked before in July. It was the same job title, but a totally different project, a different team, and a different sort of work altogether. I signed a 12 month contract, valid until 13 July 2010.

Yesterday I was on the phone to a friend, and he told me I sounded really sour. He had rung me at work, and as I sit in an area where everyone is quietly and studiously beavering away, I feel somewhat funny about talking on the phone. But I mentioned it to C, and he said that he also found that whenever he rang me at work I sounded really sad, depressed even.

And it’s true, I really don’t love my work anymore. I know that there are other people who would LOVE to be doing what I get to do (I was one of those people just a few years ago!), but that’s not enough anymore. I hate winters in Canberra – I hate the sense that I miss all the daylight because I’m stuck in an office from 9-5. I’d like to ask to have reduced working hours, just for the next 3 months until the days start getting a bit longer – 9:30 – 4pm would be perfect. But I get the feeling in this team that any sign that I’m not 100% devoted to the job will lead to doubts about my abilities, and after all, I do want my contract extended in July.

Or do I? I say that I want to see this project through, and I need to be here for another year for that to happen. But even a year from now seems…too much. There’s people in my team who haven’t taken a single sick-day for 2 years. God, I feel like I need a Mental Health Day every second week!

Is it because of Tonga? Did that experience sap me of my love of Work? Or did it just show me that there’s more to life? Somehow I find I don’t take it as seriously, I CAN’T take it as seriously as my colleagues seem to. I no longer wish to have Work as my sole identity. I learnt before going to Tonga that you don’t ask someone what they “do” as a way of getting to know them, but about their family, where they’re from. But here, back in Australia, it seems the only acceptable course. Other questions are too personal. And, after all, most of us do attach value to what we DO, as a measure of who we ARE.

Monday, April 05, 2010

On a Roll

3 weeks ago I started my roller derby training. Prior to getting these quad skates I had not rollerskated since I was about 7 years old. Even then I never owned my own, I'd have to hire them from the roller rink when I'd go with my little schoolfriends. My point is that I'm NOT an experienced skater - I've still never even been rollerblading!

Learning to skate has been a lot of fun. In between training on Tuesday nights I try to squeeze in some practice time at the basketball courts of a local high school. Unlike our training sessions, this surface is asphalt, so I take it a little easier as I'm scared of falling on it, even with all the padding.

I promised my cousin some photos of my crazy Derby Arms, but what with all the practise I've been doing I seem to have cut that out. What I USED to do, though, was unconsciously point my arms in the direction I wanted to go when I was learning slalom - like a lame-ass version of Robot Arms. I also used to do chicken arms when I'd do my plough stops - squeezing outwards with my elbows, trying through sheer force of their will to stop. From looking at the pics below I don't do that stuff anymore. Sorry Camille - I guess I'm getting better!

Practising my slalom using water-bottles. Arms looking normal!

Practising a T-stop


More slalom-ing. I swing my arms from side-to-side now, rather than pointing like a robot

Practising the plough stop, elbows pretty much by my sides.
Yay me!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

An update on my life in 3 sentences

Food allergies are fucked. Not being able to eat one or more foods is a pain in the arse.

But roller derby training is going well, and is highly enjoyable.