Friday, August 09, 2013

I know that often when you look back on things after the fact it's hard to see why you made such a big deal about them in the first place. Two instances from my own life come to mind immediately.

One happened just last week, when a dehumidifyer in one of only two 'good' storage areas flooded into the carpet. The storage area, though not ideal, is one I established myself. It has climate control and a mobile dehumidifyer, so everything that has gone into it has been treated properly - cleaned, rehoused, accessioned, documented, and finally, stored. So when I saw that wet stain and smelled the musty air, all I could think of was the inevitable mould, and the wasted hours and hours of labour and effort that had gone into creating that space.

I just wanted to cry, because I didn't know how we could ever completely dry that carpet, and even if we were permitted to remove it, it would still be days before that happened. In a room already subject to rising damp this spill seemed the death knell of good storage, as mould really was the inevitable result.

Fortunately, the maintenance guy had the GENIUS idea of cutting out the entire square of wet carpet. The Property Manager uhmed and ahed a little, but we made it happen, and within an hour of me first becoming aware of the disaster I was smiling once again.

The other example I think of that looks completely different from this side of it was when C and I got trapped in a gorge on the Larapinta Trail for three days due to rain and rising water levels. At the time, that was really scary. We were in the middle of nowhere. We made one attempt to get out, but when C got wet and his lips turned blue, and our fingers went numb with the cold, I made the call to pitch the tent and stick it out.

We rationed our food and watched the water level on the creek next to us rising, and after 3 days of non-stop rain everything except our sleeping bags was sopping. We decided that if they too got wet then we'd set off our emergency beacon, because hypothermia was a real risk. On the fourth day we had to leave, because our food rations were so low we'd not otherwise be able to make it to our next food cache. Thankfully the sun shone for the first time in days, and we made it out fine. Sure we had to squeeze three days walking into two, but we got to our next food cache safely, and notified everyone that we weren't dead (after being reported missing by a friend!), and by the time we'd completed the total hike it was hard to remember what the whole fuss was about.

But at the time, I was aware that we were potentially in a life-or-death situation. Had we made a stupid decision, it's quite possible that we may not have made it out unharmed. But we didn't, and so we did.

I am trying to see my current situation like that. I am so flooded with anxiety right now and have been, let's face it, for months on end. I'm sure that by the time this is all far behind me I'll wonder what I made such a song and dance about. But at the moment, getting through this - even with the end now in sight - is challenging.

PS Re-reading this post I realise both the issues I outlined involve flooding! Perhaps I should just stay away from water!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Bitter. Sweet.

It's official, we're leaving WA! Clinton has accepted a job back at his former workplace in Canberra, and, though I do not yet have any work lined up, I won't be waiting to get a job before heading back.

Life is too short to be so miserable. I've had six job interviews in the last nine months with no result, so I don't want to stick around in the hope that I might get another job from here. Since I'm now willing to make compromises on things like accepting a contract position and taking a pay cut, I hope that actually being in Canberra will make things a bit easier in terms of employment. Plus, there's the whole PhD thing to be going on with!

The challenge for me now is to stick out the next few weeks - I'll be resigning hopefully tomorrow - without giving in to the inevitable bitterness I feel about my experience at the Prison. I could spend a lot of time ranting about the negative work culture I encountered, or my grave concerns about the approach being taken to the heritage there (basically stripping it back to the convict era, and not respecting the complexity and unique multi-layered-ness of the site), but I really just want to let it all go and move forward.

It was a little bit of an act of faith, coming over here. I certainly had expectations. These expectations were not only not met, but dashed, shredded, and destroyed. It's big-picture stuff, though - not just reflective of the Prison but of the state of cultural heritage throughout Western Australia. Nothing I can fix and totally outside my control. Also the big-picture stuff that happened in my own life since moving here, like my Dad dying, closely followed by his wife, and then the breakdown in relations with her family. Being so far from support networks during these events has just amplified how isolated I am here.

Moving back to Canberra feels like another act of faith, though I think this time I have fewer expectations. I'm shrugging my shoulders and just handing it all over to the Universe. There is nothing I can take from this experience but what I've learned, so over the coming weeks I aim to keep my shit together and focus on the positives of having been here.