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On Thursday, some clever clogs cut an optic fibre cable, and anyone in adelaide who is with internode (which is anyone not in the dark ages still) had their internets cut off. This was a tad upsetting, as you can imagine. It especially caused chaos in the office, where we are encourage to entrust our lives and souls (ie, all our work documents) to the intranet. Which runs off of the internet.
Luckily for me, I have been passive aggressively refusing to use it because 1) it’s shit, 2) it goes down at least once a week, for various reasons and 3) it’s shit. So I had plenty of work to do and in fact got it done a lot quicker than normal on account of not stopping every ten minutes to obsessively check my email. But there was much whinging that 1) there was nothing to do or 2) all the things there were to do were boring and hard, being the things you put off because they are boring and hard. Like cleaning out the staionery cupboard, or typing evaluations.
Anyway, I couldn’t upload my picture for that day, obviously and… well… I hadn’t really gotten into the habit of doing it, so I sort of neglected to upload any of the next few days. So I just did them all in a rush then.
I tell you what, it’s nice to be able to take photos in actual daylight!
This is what I did today. I weeded for three hours. I took before and after photos, but the difference is not that obvious. Still, it was satisfying – although I am exhausted! The plants in this particular garden bed are looking a bit sorry for themselves, because they had to grow extra tall to compete with the weeds. Now the weeds are gone, they are struggling to hold themselves up. There are a bunch of mystery bulbs in there, I hope they flower soon so I can see what they are!
There is still a bunch to be done in the garden before I feel completely better about it – I didn’t weed everything, and then I will want to plant more stuff, of course. But it doesn’t feel as neglected. Although the grass itself kind of looks… sad. It’s all damp and sort of… limp? I don’t know if it’s not getting enough sun or what. It’s not bad, but it’s clearly not a happy lawn.
Here is the other thing I did today:
There’s something about having my laundry done that makes me feel satisfied, even if that’s the only thing I managed that day.
I cleaned out my bloglines. I had more than 100 blogs in there. Which is ridiculous. And of course I couldn’t keep up. Even the ones I read regularly I didn’t really absorb, because it had started to feel like an obligation. So I went through and if I couldn’t remember anything about the blog or its author, it went. If I didn’t really connect to any of the last ten posts, it went. If I liked it, but not enough… gone. I’m down to 39, and more will go if I don’t actually read them.
I can’t tell you how good it feels! Partly the change was because the reasons/way I read blogs has changed. When I first got into the heady world of internet communication, I was definitely a consumer. I wanted content thatI could aspire to, I wanted more mainstream stuff. After my purge, my feeds are more heavily Aussie, more every-day blogs rather than shiny instructive blogs, more intimate in general. I sorted through my flickr contacts in the same way. And my webcomics and other links. I think my productivity both at work and home has gone up!
Last night walking home from the bus stop, it was still cold. It was still dark. But I fancied that I could feel spring in the air. Which is slightly ridiculous. I mean… it’s two days after solstice. Solstice being, of course, the shortest day of the year. I know that today is shorter than this time last week. It is definitely shorter than this time three weeks ago. But it feels like something has shifted, something has opened, I fancy that I can feel the air getting warmer and the days stretching.
I know I’m making things up, but I don’t care. I feel like it’s ok now to unfold a little, because we’ve hit the top of the hill, and it might still be a looooong time until I will be warm all over again, until I can walk barefoot again, but we’re pointed in that direction now.
Last night when I got home, instead of sulking, I went outside and used the last ten minutes of dim light to do some weeding. For once I don’t have much planned this week, and nothing on this weekend. Oh, please, please let it stay that way! I want to do things! The BOM says it should be about 17 degrees, which is warm enough to open the windows at least for a bit. Definitely warm enough for weeding and maybe mowing the lawn. Maybe some painting? Wouldn’t that be loverly…
I also plan on hitting the shops on Thursday and the Central Markets on Friday, and stocking UP. Along with the rest of the house, I feel like the kitchen is a bit neglected. Most of this is in my head, as the freezer is pretty full, and the cupboards moderately well stocked. But I feel like it needs some attention. Some awareness. That seems to be what’s missing across the board – some mindfulness and thought. I am sick of eating the same types of things, of being bored with my lunches. I want to restock the basics so I have more options when I stare into the cupboard at the planning stages, and I have been hitting the books and websites looking for recipes I haven’t tried before.
Lets see if I can’t domestic myself out of this slump…
My camera has a night setting. Who knew?
I’m tired. So damn tired. I can’t remember not being tired. I’m sick and I can’t really remember not being sick. Nothing major, just run down, sniffles and coughs and runny noses. Have a sore inside my lip that won’t heal. That kind of thing.
Today was Solstice. It was a gorgeous, beautiful day. The sun shone, and the clouds were fluffy, and the birds sang… and I had a hangover. I managed to lay on the grass in the sun and think about mowing it, and to sweep (the floors were GROSS, y’all). And that’s it.
The house feels… sad. There’s dust in the corners (well, there was) everything’s just a bit left around. Things are sitting in transition places, waiting to have a home found for them. Pictures are in frames but not hung. Everything just feels unfinished and a bit neglected.
I am not sure why I started this post. I was going to say something about the solstice being a turning point, and the day feeling lighter today – closer to spring that winter, although I am aware that it’s a long slog out, still. I am so sick of getting home from work and it already being dark.
On a positive note, my sister is on holidays from uni and she’s doing a lot more around the house. She’s still an 18 year old girl, but she’s starting to get the rythm of things, I think. The other day we hung out in the kitchen, peeling apples and making stew and pudding. It was seriously awesome. Plus, she found out that one of her favourite dresses is getting tight and so she’s putting in an effort to actually cook instead of grabbing fast food, which is relieving an irritation of mine. She often asks if she can have some of my food, even though we’re officially cooking for ourselves. And I say yes because really, there’s only so many days you can eat one thing before you want to scream. And also, I am the Older Sibling and that means that I am Responsible. Even when I shouldn’t be. So I spend a lot of time talking myself down from being passive aggressive about it, and I do pretty well. But that’s an energy suck in itself.
So now we are sharing food. She made the best macaroni cheese the other day. Which makes me feel good because even if it’s still uneven I know she’s starting to realise what goes into each meal – not just the money and the cooking but the thought and the shopping and everything. Which is that much harder when you only have a bike to get around on, and you’ve been tired for a month. And she’s started to click that if I do the dishes even if it’s her turn, it’s not me trying to be passive aggressive. I just want the pan clean so I can cook so I can eat. (It’d be nice if she’d take the freaking recycling out though… still not paradise here!)
But it’s starting to feel more like we’re living together, not just sleeping in the same house. If you know what I mean. It’s a good feeling.
I think I am going to start my 12 to wear now. Solstice to solstice. I will not be counting anything finished before now (petticoat out!) but things on the needles but not cast off still count.
I am also thinking of trying to do the picture a day thing. I am not really sure why. I would just like to use my camera more. And I would like to have more record of what my life looks like – not the events, just the days. I think I will try and see how I go. My camera really struggles with low light, so I don’t know that there’ll be any great ones for a while.
So, in the spirit, here is one that qualifies, since it was taken about 12:30 last night. It’s Emma giving Sarah an adorable haircut.
I felt better today, going to work. Still cranky. Still irritable. But at a surface level, not a deeper level of discontent like I’ve been feeling lately. I’d still have preferred to be home by the fire, knitting. But I wasn’t so bummed that I wasn’t.
Suse linked me today to Thirdcat. I left a comment on one of Thirdcat’s posts. And she wrote me back. When I mentioned my difficult relationship with my mother, she recommended a book called ‘Motherless Daughters’ by Hope Edelman. That name sounded familiar, so straight away I emailed my oldest friend, who happens to work in our excellent library about 12 metres away from my desk. Since I work in Human Services, the library happens to specialise in that sort of thing. It has about five copies of this particular book, and so my friend not only loaned it out to me (as well as extending ‘Children of the Self Absorbed’, which I can’t bring myself to read, yet) but brought it straight to my desk.
This evening I arived home as tired, cold and hungry as usual, but in considerably better spirits. The evening was mine! And if I chose to fritter it away on the computer, then I damn well would. I didn’t choose to, though. First, I chose to check the washing that was on the line. Despite having been heavily rained on ALL last night and most of this morning (serious. It’s like it’s actually winter or something! This water from the sky thing – novel, that’s for sure) it was DRY! HORRAY! So I took it in. Hanging and taking down is something I find particularly meditative. It will now, of course, sit in a basket for a week since while I find folding it equally medatative, I also hate it. But howsoever that may be, the washing was dry, and it is inside. There is something about having clean laundry done that makes me feel good about life.
Then, I ran a bath, made toast and tea, and hopped into said bath with said toast, tea, and aforementioned book.
I read the introduction and the first chapter, had several good cries, and emerged from the bath feeling dehydrated and headachey, but having managed to find my equilibruim. Who knew it was in the bath!
There were several things that even this much of the book clarified for me. I may even have to go through it later and quote bits of it. However, the most important of them are thus:
- There is a difference between my mother and T (her name). I have T in my life. I have not had my mother, as I would like her, in my life for a long long time now. This loss was a continuum, so I can’t give you a moment or even a month. All I know is, there is a gap in my life where that relationship should be. I already knew this, but still. Further to that:
- This loss is made more abrasive by the fact that T is in my life. I can’t trust that relationship, and it’s not the one I want it to be. But I can’t ever have a good relationship with her, one where I feel safe and comfortable, until and unless I let go of the idea that she can ever fill that mother role. I think that is lost forever. And that is hard to let go of! I sort of had, before, but all the emotion and dramas made me need it more than I ever have before. But I need to delineate the two different things in my head.
- My father actually filled a lot of the role of ‘mother’ in my life. In fact, there were several phrases that I’ve thought the last couple days that were word for word in the book.
In a lot of ways, our family was traditional. My mother sewed and cooked, my dad made things from wood and tinkered with the cars. But he also darned all our socks, was in charge of getting all splinters out and kissing the wounds, as well as helping us learn our multiplication tables when we were struggling, making the tea and the lunchtime sandwiches, and organising family outings. Sure, our mum made sure they didn’t miss parent teacher interviews and made the evening meals. But she also played the traditional ‘dad’ role in more important ways – the dismissive anger, the blusters and storms, being the focus of the family unit. Meanwhile, my dad was always in the background, always a support, always a point of reference.
I didn’t realise how very very much he was a point of reference until he was gone. Until I was alone. Until I knew that I didn’t know how to be an adult, not really, I’d just been faking it this whole time, playing house. And now I was going to have to work it out by myself. I was going to have to buy the drill, hire the truck, be IT support for my sister, work out interest rates… and more importantly, I had lost my moral compass, the surety that there was always someone behind me, never judging but never compromising. Who knew me and loved me but wouldn’t hesistate to tell me if they thought I was off track.
And now I’ve got to do that for myself. And it’s scary. It’s freeing – especially given the mother situation, I now feel like I answer to no one, at the final count. But it is also deeply terrifying. I never really felt the true meaning of loneliness before. But now I understand it, although I am luckily enough to have enough lovely people around me not to truly feel it – to be insulated from it’s coldness.
“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” – Orson Wells
Yesterday improved. And then again, it didn’t.
All my metaphors and similies end up being about water.
It’s like a well. You can empty it, but it fills back up again. And when it does, you’ve GOT to empty it. Or it’ll overflow. Flood the place.
Had a giggling fit or two with the two younger girls in the office. A much pleasanter way off letting of steam than crying. Felt drained afterwards, the way you do after a good cry. But it was still there. I could feel it.
I went to Emma’s for dinner. Bus ride there was uneventful. Got off the bus, started walking down the street ot her house. It was dark and cold. To the right of me the sky was pitch black. On my left, there was a thin strip of orange, quickly fading to deep blue. The stars were pinpricks of light, startlingly clear and bright. I looked up at the moon (on my right), and it had a halo around it, shining through the cold.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, I had a memory. Something I’d forgotten. My honours year, I’m living at home with my parents (let’s not discuss what a poor idea that was). There’s a comet. I think it must have been comet McNaught, which would pin this date to Sunday January 14, 2007. It’s right near the sun, so you can only see it right at sunset. The problem? My childhood home is in a valley, nesteld between rolling hills. The sun sets there a good hour before actual sunset. In fact, the whole area is in a dip. Finding somewhere to comet watch will be a challenge. My dad’s up for it – he loves astronomy and comets are, of course, particularly cool. He mentions going to go look for it. My sister is disinterested. My mother expresses disdain for the idea. My curiousity and sense of history is tickled, but I am feeling lazy. It’s been a hot day, and I’m disinclined to go anywhere. But I can see he wants to go, doesn’t want to go alone. So I throw my hat in the ring. Mad rush to get ready, grab shoes, quick! The sun’s setting! The comet will be gone soon!
We jump in the car. My dad drives us North, suddenly veers off onto a dirt road I’d never seen before. This is my dad, who always drives exactly 7 k/h below the speed limit, who pulls over every chance he gets to let the more impatient drivers past. Sometimes trucks overtake him. He’s driving down this dirt road, bumping up the hills, trees whipping the windows, full tilt. It’s single lane, and once we see another car whipping along the other way, dust blooming behind it. We both have to creep up the edge of the road to get past. Then my dad FLOORS it again.
We find a hill. It’s some sort of relay tower. It’s fenced off, but we climb over, or under, as our fancy takes us. Almost certainly tresspassing. My dad never breaks the rules. Ever. We have a clear, spread out view of the valleys around us. We can see fields and houses. Nothing familiar. I don’t really know where we are. I don’t think I could find this place again. I can see Lobethal and Gumeracha sparkling in the distance. One to the left, one to the right. But they look a long way off in the clear air.
And we made it in time, too. the sun is just dipping below the horizon. It’s lighting up the sky with that deep orange glow. Then gradients of blues stripe the sky above it.
And there, right next to the sun, is the comet.
Its tail is streaming behind it like a train. It stretches out what must be miles behind it. It’s a good two centimetres to my human eye, from my earthly viewpoint. Two centimetres of dramatic tail on a mere speck of a comet – the size of a pin prick. What a show off! Or perhaps it’s a drag queen. Very Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
I look at it and switch between seeing it as I see it – a bright point of light with a streamer of white behind it – and as it is – a block of dust and ice, roaring through lonely space, shedding bits of itself in a blazing tail.
My dad and I don’t talk much. We watch as the sun sets and it gets clearer. We swap the binoculars between us. We sit on the fence and contemplate it. It looks ominous. I can understand why people used to think they were harbringers of doom. But sitting up here on the hill with my dad, with the green of my homeland spread around me like a skirt, like a blanket that some child is playing make-believe on, I feel nothing but peace.
Eventually the sun sets, the comet disappears beneath the horizon too, and we trudge back to the car and drive slowly home.
I remembered this last night and it stopped me in my tracks. Literally. It burst into my brain, the whole experience unfolding in a second, and I stopped dead. I said ‘shit’. And I burst into tears, there on the footpath. I stood there for a good five minutes, sobbing, before I blew my nose, wiped my eyes, and walked towards the glowing light in front of Emma’s house, where I had a wonderful dinner with friends that went a long way towards restoring my equilibrium.
What shocked me was the suddeness of it. This forgotten memory just burst in on me, unannounced. How many more are waiting to do this? I have felt that trivial memories are suddenly more weighted – remembering times that were normal and every day, but now take on the significance of a thunderstorm. Because I am the only one who remembers them, now? This memory is so clear, so crystaline. I can SEE the dirt track, I can SMELL the dust, I can FEEL the rough wood I sat on to watch the comet. My memory, and my dad’s. Shared between two. Now carried only by one.
I knew this wouldn’t be easy. I keep forgetting that, though. I am FINE. Right up until I am not, and then it all takes so much energy to hold together that I have to go into survivial mode.
I feel so out of control! None of it is anything I can do anything about. I’m not good at my emotions at the best of times, but this is ridiculous. Even my memories are doing their own thing. Who’s driving this thing, I’d like to know!
I didn’t expect was the physicality of grief. I didn’t know about this, but apparently it’s very common. I’m tired, my body is tired, I literally feel shaky. And it’s so forceful. There’s no denying it when it comes, the very best I can do it ward it off until a more appropriate time. But the more I do that, the harder it gets. So I have to pick the times, use it sparingly.
I guess I’m learning to respect my grief, if that makes any sense. It’s like the sea. You play by the rules, you know how to act in a storm, you take precautions, and you’ll be ok. Probably. If you think that just because it’s blue skies and smooth sailing now that you don’t need your life jacket, then you’re in for a rude shock!
I just sort of wish I could see land from here.
This week and the last have been… not hard, exactly. Well, no, I guess hard.
It’s weird, I keep forgetting that it’s supposed to be shit for a while yet. I feel fine most of the time. And then… suddenly… I don’t. And by the time I realise that I need to dial it back a bit, I’m in the thick of it and I should have been taking it easy for a week or more.
Partly it’s just the winter setting in malaise. It’s always dark when I get home, it’s freezing in the morning when I have to get out of bed. I need a holiday from work so that I can remember that I actually relaly love my job, because right now I don’t want to come in and I can’t wait to leave. And I hate feeling like that.
Plus, I was sick last week. And I’m recovered from the actual disease, but I’m just super tired.
So defenses are low, you know? My mum has asked to stay over again next week. She’s coming down to have dinner with some of the people that she and my dad used to work with – people I grew up with, basically. She asked me if I want to go. I do. But I don’t want to deal with my mum and, frankly, I don’t know if I’d be up for it even without her there. I went out for dinner last night with two of my favourite people, and it hit 7:45 and I was DONE. Bedtime! I’m sleeping 9-10 hours and I’m still buggered.
This morning I caught the bus in. Feeling a bit fragile. IPod on shuffle. And ‘You Are My Sunshine’ came up. I associate this song with my dad – in fact, it is on my iPod in the first place because I bought it off iTunes to put on the playlist my sister made for the wake. I remember him singing it to me as a kid. These are the memories that kill me the most – the ones of me as a kid and him as a young dad. He loved being a dad – everyone kept telling us so at the funeral, it was a running theme. My memories confirm it. He loved showing us stuff, having fun with us; he had infinite patience. I remember him picking up the whole bean bag with me on it and twirling it round and round until everything was fuzzy. I remember him having baths with us and spending hours with the plastic toys. Hundreds of memories like this – simple ones, where him and me, or him and me and the sister, made a little world, with just us in it.
Anyway, the point of that is that it didn’t help with the fragile. Oh, did I mention that I am wearing Cobblestone today? Why? First thing I picked up off the pile of clothes that was warm. Maybe not a brilliant idea.
I just hate how out of my hands all this is. It keeps catching me by surprise. I’m fine when I should feel like shit, and then for no reason, it all comes crashing down. This is not to say that anything dramatic has happened – I’m still living my normal life, I’m not in tears at the office or anything. It just takes that much more energy to keep it that way.
There’s a family dinner for my grandma’s birthday on Saturday. I don’t know the details yet. I want to see my grandma – haven’t seen her for months now. But I just don’t think I can handle it. There are a few family members that I think I will have trouble being polite too, frankly. And I don’t think I can handle the family. They’re loud and crack horrible jokes – all things I love about them, but…. not this week, prehaps. I feel a little… autistic, maybe? I don’t mean to exaggerate, or to make light of a serious condition. But seriously. I’m very socially anxious, I feel uncomfortable making eye contact (except with a select few, trusted, people) and I have trouble finding the right thing to say, often opting for silence. Which can be awkward. I’m so easily overstimulated – too much noise, colour, light, and I go into shut down mode.
Anyway, I promised some weird. This was on the tea room table this morning. (Warning. Moderately graphic)
Next to a bowl of nuts with a sign saying ‘free: please eat’. I should point out that this is nothing out of the ordinary. The other day we had an argument about whether silicone was safe for cookware, which ended with the statement ‘well, if you’ll stick it in you, why won’t you eat off it?’ and then further discussion of the fact taht you can wash your silicone sex toys in the dishwasher, and whether that was ok or not. I really do love my job.
I’ve been thinking about clutter lately.
I am a hoarder by nature. I like stuff. I like things. I grew up in the country, on a property with lots of random things. If we wanted to build anything, no trip to the store was necessary: wire and timber and bricks abounded.
The last few years I’ve been pretty tough on my clutter, though. I still have lots of stuff, as the people who helped me move can attest. And I am still absent minded and sloppy, I forget to put things away and I lose things. But I put the effort in and although I slip every day, I manage to maintain it at a reasonable level. Even when the house is, as it was recently, in a state of disarray, making me cranky and restless, it usually only takes a half a day or so to set it to rights. I am much more organised about it, even when it doesn’t look like it, and I am getting better and better at parting with things, even things I love. I’m working on William Morris’ precept – ‘have nothing in your home that you don’t know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’. With the added caveat that it needs to be accessable (not burried under a pile of other useful, beautiful, things) and actually used!
Like is said in this post, stuff is a part of who you are. You buy things or accept them into your home, because of how they make you feel about yourself. Because you want to be the person who owns that item. But is it the me I am now? Or some hypothetical Kate who doesn’t have to live in my house, or clean it?
Anyone know what type of bird this is? There are two that hang around the backyard and they are beautiful.
For a while I followed Merlin Mann at 43 folders (he’s still one of my favourite content providers – he is hilarious, check out You Look Nice Today, and he has possibly the cutest daughter in the whole entire universe). One of the first things he said that stuck with me was that it doesn’t matter whether you remember that it’s there or not. Your stuff weighs you down. Ever felt that lightening of being you get when you get rid of superfluous things? And it’s nto about mass, either. I have far far too much stuff to pick up and leave tomorrow. But I don’t feel like I’m hauling too much that isn’t used or appreciated.
The thing is, clutter can’t be organised. It can only be hidden. Because what clutter is is not about the neatness or otherwise of your space (although – yeesh!) It’s about the utility or otherwise of said item. It’s about how you use it, if you need it. It’s about how well it fits into your life – if you used to use it all the time, but your routine has changed, if you want to use it, but just can’t seem to fit it in to your life, if you thought it would be the most useful thing ever, but it just languishes in your cupboard…. then it’s clutter.
Part of this is about using what you have – don’t store the good china, use it. Now it’s not clutter and you get to justify keeping it! Don’t buy three different kitchen gadgets when one will do – or if you can just use a knife! Can you make thing useful and beautiful? Ornament and function? Repaint or mend, don’t replace.
From that point of view, I feel like my stash is cluttered. Things that don’t hae a use, or are neglected. I want to change that. Since I don’t want to get rid of anything, that means using it, baby!
But clutter doesn’t have to be physical. I read this post some time last week, and I’ve been mulling it over since. I’m already on the do not call register. I just bought a no junk mail sign. But what else in my life is cluttered?
I feel like my house is much more a place I want to be. Not just be in, but be. On the weekend, I spent a good amount of time sitting, knitting, listening to podcasts and looking at the things that make me happy about my house (many of which are new! More on that later… when there is light enough for photographs.) Or in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning, listening to music I love and just hanging out.
I feel like I don’t make good choices about my free time. I know I’ve mentioned that here before. At the moment, it’s taking its toll. I feel drained – there’s not enough time in the week for work, socialising, the chores I feel are necessary to enable me to enjoy my life, and relaxing.
I spend my whole day on my bum looking at a computer screen. Why would I chose to do that when I get home?
A lot of is the amount of time I spend on the computer – I often log on in the evenings, intending just to check my email, only to fritter away three hours chatting to people I see all the time and playing a game I’m not really interested in. Only to go to bed far to late, and wake up cranky and more drained! Then the next day, everythign seems like too much effort, so I log on to the computer…. etc etc.
Part of this is because of the light. It’s too dark to go outside when I get home, and sunset leaves me feeling sleepy and insular. The computer screen is welcoming and soothing…. up to a point. I recently had a little back and forth with Janet, over this photo. I realised that I do a very bad job of regulating myself. Of making choices that go beyond the two-year-old ‘but I wanna!’
But I also want to get away from the hum of machinery, and from always being stimulated. I need to give my mind time to rest. To be calm and still. In the moment. I go to bed at night with my head full and spinning. I have, comparatively, many many hours of free time, to do whatever I like with. That is such a luxury, and I am wasting it!
So in an attempt to declutter my life again, I am going to try to be more conscious about my free time. Instead of hopping online, I will knit. Or read a book (hey! I remember when I did that!). Or do the dishes. I give myself a half an hour each night, and then I need to evaluate what I am doing, and if there is something I’d rather be doing.
Isn’t this a much nicer place to sit?
Here’s to a less cluttered life.