Like sands through the hourglass

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Melbourne almost two years. Much has happened and yet it feels like the days have gone by in a blur without achieving much; a rollercoaster of life and career. There have been hectic times where I held the household logistics together with sticky-tape and there have been times when I’ve had so much time on my hands I didn’t know what to do with myself. Like a kid whose parent just doled out a screen ban. The eyes blink a few times, slowly, before looking desperately for some direction.

The beginning of 2015 went from outrageously busy to the calmer holding-pattern of the past few months. We moved house again, from the rental to the new townhouse we’re paying off; my parents came to visit over Fraser’s birthday, in February; we went on a 2-week family holiday; and I had three job interviews all in the space of about 10 weeks.

I wasn’t successful with those interviews, though I came close, and I haven’t had a lot of work since I wrapped up my long-running informal contract in February. At the time it finished, it was near-panic stations as we settled into our new mortgage and car repayments, but we got past the quiet first quarter of the year and Matt’s work continues to go well. We are fortunate to be able to sustain my flexibility and availability whenever the kids need it, and with Fraser getting prepared to start high school next year, we may need to call on that even more. I do, however, find my self-worth is inversely proportionate to the amount of free time I have. Instead of nourishing the soul by making daily time for creative pursuits, I squander it on errands and busy-work. I’m trying to work out what’s going wrong there, while I look back at all the wasted time with mild disgust at how little productivity I have to show for it.

As unsatisfying as all the “yay, free time!” has been, I recognise that’s wholly within my control. The lack of motivation, the fear-or-something of exploring creativity, the time-suck that too much social media is—that’s on me. The things outside our control challenge us the most. For 18 months, Mum and Dad have been weathering the storm of his brain cancer diagnosis. I won’t say battling, because it’s not Dad’s style to battle anything. He goes with the flow, expecting it all to work out ok, eventually—the optimistic gambler.

What was meant to be an easy retirement for my parents must feel akin to a hostage situation. After coming through two brain surgeries, Dad is well enough to be playing golf once a week, walking the dogs every day, and enjoying his blossoming career as a clivea dealer. But he is on 6-weekly oral chemo, and Avastin infusions every two weeks. Even if he did want to travel, he’d have to be back within two weeks. While he’s happy doing exactly the things he would do with a straightforward retirement, Mum is hamstrung. As his carer and chauffeur, she doesn’t want to leave him for long. She missed out on her European painting tour when he was diagnosed, and long-distance travel is the furthest thing from her mind these days.

When I visit, I’m on high alert for anything that may have changed—is Dad moving more slowly, can he get his arms into a shirt sleeves, can he get his shoes on? It’s confronting and stressful, and I’m only exposed to that for a couple of days here and there. I admire the strength Mum has to keep going in spite of her unanswerable questions. For now, I talk to them twice a week, visit every couple of months, and continue planning future events as though everything is going to be ok. And when the time comes that it isn’t going to be ok, I’m sure I’ll be desperately looking around for some direction.

Not a writer

I tweeted to a Buzzfeed article the other day. It was twenty-something words that mean something different to a writer. I tweeted that I didn’t think of myself as a writer, but the listicle made me wish I was.

I don’t see myself as a writer, because I don’t write fiction.

I don’t have an Evernote full of ideas. I have an Evernote full of links to other people’s ideas, industry news, “how to write” tips. I’m a commercial writer. I’ve been paid to write other people’s ideas. I procrastinate over that so much, though, I hate it. I hate that I have to write something and I put it off, and put it off. And then I get into the flow of the writing, and then I love what I’ve written. And then I hate getting the feedback. Unless it’s good.

Settling in to Brunswick

One epic drive and a truckload of removaled stuff later, we arrived in our new place. Matt and I were both amazed at how you go from countryside to Coburg, just like that, and within 15 kms of the city. Apparently, the urban sprawl spreads south-east.

We drove in convoy, with Matt in one car with one kid, and me in the other car with the other kid and the cat. I drugged Kami with anti-psychotic, because he yowls on the way to the vet and I didn’t fancy listening to that all the way to Melbourne. He took the half-tablet easily and settled in for the trip well, with a pitstop to stretch his legs inside the car somewhere around Albury.

He’s taken to the new place very easily, with only one full day trapped inside.

I’ve been working steadily through the boxes in between outings and doing bits and pieces of work.

We’ve been on a bunch of outings: New Year fireworks at Yarra park, dumplings in Malvern, the Melbourne Museum, organic fruit and veg shopping at CERES, and swimming at the nearby Brunswick Baths. I’ve also added a basket to my bike so I can ride to the shops. It could be that we get down to occasional weekend car use, which seems like a luxury after all these years of having to drive everywhere.

I didn’t get to do a video walk-through of our renos at Bowral, because I kind of forgot in all the logistics of staying out of the way of the movers. When Trudy reminded me, I was already mentally prepared not to go back. It was time for the new. Our lease at the new place is only six months. I hope we get more time here, but we may have to move on that soon if the owners want to move in. At least we’re on the ground now to be able to look around when the time comes.

For now, we’re enjoying our new digs and exploring the surrounds.