And the rain falls down

…on Sydney Town.

As a rule I’m a fan of rain. It washes all the dust and dirt of the day away and everything feels like it becomes new again. The air and the earth and just everything smells better. Today, though, when it started pouring through a hole in the ceiling at work right onto our network hub and phone system, I quickly became less of a fan.

It was certainly an interesting day. Very productive, though, so that’s something.

I’m pondering a lot of things tonight. This is directly the result of 2 emails and a conversation with someone who really shouldn’t matter all that much. I sometimes find that’s the way of things – the people who should have the least influence often irk us or make us contemplate the most. I’m a pretty independent thinker. Relatively that is. I make up my own mind about things and can be kinda persistent with my opinion if I’m really passionate about something. Still, just occasionally I catch myself looking away from myself and out to other people. Weighing and measuring up the me verses them. Their place in the world verses my place. Their choices verses mine.

I’m a little torn about this way of thinking. On one hand I think it’s ultimately pointless – you, yourself, should be the only measure of your success (whatever success is). But on the other hand, how can you measure something without some sort of comparison? How can you ask questions if you don’t see the differences, or if you don’t ultimately think there might be a better way? I guess the thing is to not constantly look to other people for the inspiration to better yourself, but from time to time to check and balance. Or something.

So today came a point where someone said something completely innocently, answering I question I had asked them, and I felt suddenly annoyed and irritated. Which took me completely by surprise, because really it was a totally inappropriate reaction given the circumstances. But then, tonight driving home from work in the pouring rain, I started (as much as it made me mentally squirm) to really ask myself why. And you know what it boiled down to?


Holy cow. I think I was actually jealous. And this is crazy for me, because not only is it an emotion I’m almost totally unfamiliar with, it crept up on me and bit me on the ass taking me completely by surprise. So naturally, once I realised this I came to terms with a few other things.

Anyway, to make a really long and self-absorbed story short, I feel a little less annoyed and irritated and a little more content with things. So I guess everything works out in the end.

And on the weekend, in the Magical land of Wagga, I experienced this in the opposite direction. Because I feel like there’s one part of my life that is impervious to any amount of weighing up or measuring up or anything of that kind. Because I know for a fact it’s plain as day to the rest of the world that it’s wonderful and that really, they should be so lucky.

Anyway, I’m going to bed. Not because I’m tired, really, but because I have an episode of The Office to watch that I haven’t seen before.

The picture outside the frame

There’s always a mental shift for me on my way to Wagga, and then again on my way home. It’s almost like a mini mental metamorphosis that takes place in the 5 hours between leaving Sydney and when I cross the Murrumbidgee near Gundagai. And I can’t really accurately describe WHAT it is – it’s more subtle than that. It’s more about mentally padding myself against the bombardment of my past, and then on the way home shedding all that padding so I can walk more easily as myself.

There are some things you can just never pad against or shed, though. If you’re known to someone or a group of people long enough, there are invariably things about you that they’ll take as given, regardless of how much you change and/or grow as a person. Like being a tom boy. I was never really a girly girl, but honestly, I think it had less to do with being a tom boy than it did with the whole competitive riding thing. It’s somewhat difficult to wear frocks and care about the state of your hair when you’re astride a horse and/or mucking out stables the majority of the day. But people assume things I guess. For the last few years (yep, I’m not talking about a short period of time here), every time someone from my family sees me in a skirt, I get the whole ‘oh my god, Karen is wearing a SKIRT’ thing. It’s like those years of non-skirt wearing have completely obliterated any part of their brain that can possibly comprehend it could happen.

And there’s also the whole assuming you’re still the same person you were when you were 16 thing. I mean, I appreciate every single thing I got for Christmas. It’s not really about gifts and the idea that someone put thought into what I’d like means a lot. But at times I feel like sending out a memo – U2 do not rule my universe any more. Also, there are only so many framed U2 posters and memorabilia one girl can take, year after year. Perhaps it’s my fault for being so hard to buy for. Which apparently I am.

Also, since I was 16, I’ve found out there’s a whoooole rainbow of wonderful colours out there. I still love the colour yellow, really, but I don’t need every cushion, towel, rug etc. in my house to BE yellow.

You can’t really explain these things to the people you love though, can you. Not without someone’s feelings getting hurt. They have a snapshot of you, right before the time that you stopped being primarily the daughter and the granddaughter and the sister and started becoming yourself. And because of that I guess I will continue to store and/or rotate those U2 pictures/calendars/wall hangings.

And I will also continue to be unerringly grateful for the people I have in my life who understand me as I am. And keep up with me as I grow and change – not inherently, but subtly. Because if you’re not changing, then you’re not learning. And it’s an honest to god tragedy I think to go through your life not learning.

Deck the halls

Okay SO I’ve neglected to mention (or maybe I did, actually, I probably did, but anyway) from Friday this week I have annual leave for TWO AND HALF MF WEEKS. It’s the first truly long break I’ve had in a really, really long time. And not only do I get to vacate my god damn office for this period of time, and all my god damn clients with their god damn annoying phone calls, I have it stacked full of fun plans plus plus. Like a trip to Brisbane to see Angela. Not Wagga Angela, UK Angela. Just in case anyone was wondering. And a trip to one of my favourite cities of all time, Melbourne. Including live music and wonderful restaurants and spending time with the boy. And time at home. Yes, I’m even looking forward to Wagga.

This Christmas is building itself up to be very good. No right way to say it – Christmas in the last few years has been wholly awful. And it’s no one’s fault – sometimes bad feelings and bad situations just compound upon each other, and when you put 10 + people in a room who are too close to all the shit going on, it’s only going to end badly. But this year, even with Dad’s health and the oftentimes volatile sister club, I think it’s going to be fun. There’s a baby now, and that definitely helps. There are a lot of things to be thankful for. And for once, at least, right at this very second, everyone seems to be getting along. They’re not BFF mind, but they’re being civil. And holy moly is that something to be thankful for.

The only truly annoying thing I have to do then is the Christmas shopping. There are no words to describe how much I dislike doing it, and the lengths I’ll go to avoid it. Which is why we’re here on December 4, with Karen having bought a total of 3 books for gifts.

Oh well.

What you don’t know, you can feel it somehow

Was it me? Maybe it was them? Whatever it was, this was one of the easier trips I’ve made to Wagga over the last couple of years.

As previously mentioned, the trip down there was a little arduous (I think owing in no small way to the shitty week I had and the absolute exhaustion I was feeling). I got there late on Friday night and by the time I got to bed I was more or less cross-eyed. I had, though, about 10 hours solid sleep. This is a first for me in many weeks, so maybe that had something to do with the relative ease of the weekend.

On Saturday I got up about 11 and headed to Dad’s place. He was really excited to give me my birthday present, and has been for a couple of weeks now. It’s always with some amount of trepidation that I receive gifts from Dad – in the last five years gifts have fallen into two categories – framed prints of cricket players, and kitchen appliances. For a girl who A) is particularly fussy about what goes on her walls and B) has really no kitchen to speak of, those gifts (while thoughtful) aren’t really useful. This time, though, he aced it – he bought me a stereo.

It was way too much, and because of this I felt a little weird about it. Still, he was so excited to give it to me, and had gone to a lot of effort to make sure it was a good one. It’s not what I would have got for myself, but that doesn’t make it bad. It’s a fuckload better than what I have now, and for that I am thankful. Just the knowledge that he knew me that well makes me glad inside. And he was so happy to make me happy.

Only thing is, it’s very silver and blue. It kinda looks like a rocket ship control panel. Aesthetics aren’t everything though, right? It sounds pretty awesome and that’s the most important thing.

Saturday night Mum and I went for a walk into the dark, which was nice. The air at that time of the night smells amazing – fire smoke, dinner cooking, cool wet grass – all with a hint of dark and cold. It’s one of my favourite smells.

Sunday was all about Mum. We went to the cemetery in the morning, in the howling, driving rain. It was a little harrowing actually; seeing Nan laid like that in that sort of weather. Cemeteries always leave me feeling both contemplative and a little dark – I guess that’s to be expected.

We then drove around for a few hours looking at houses Mum was interested in. It was nice just sitting in the car talking – something we haven’t done for a long time. I bought her lunch (in leiu of Mothers Day next weekend) and then we headed back to her place. I managed to leave town about 3PM – some sort of record I’m sure and another reason why the weekend has a good feel about it.

Each time I leave there I feel I understand a little more about my family. Following that, I guess I understand a little more about myself and where I’ve come from. I’m learning to be accepting, and I’m learning that I can’t fix everything. Leaving there today on such good terms has left my head clear for work tomorrow. The next two weeks are going to be tough – I know I have enough in me to cope with it though.

And that’s a good feeling.

Weary as water

I can’t remember the last time I felt this tired. Actually, it was probably the last time I drove here. This week has been, well, nuts. Today was also less than fun, and the 6 hour drive tonight felt longer than it has in a long time.

I was thinking a lot on the way here, and I guess that doesn’t help with the tired. Thinking about things within my control and things outside my control, and what things are standing in the way of me being the best I can be. Some people go to all lengths to escape anything that might encroach that – like, move to another state or another country or completely change friends. Heck, maybe that’s the thing to do. Still, there has to be a way, right? A way to navigate your way through the obstacles every day and keep something of yourself for yourself, without doing something that drastic.

Right now I feel like I’m being whittled away to a shadow. Metaphorically, of course. For the first time in a long time I’m forming ideas in my head of what I want to achieve, and at every turn someone or something gives me a reason why I shouldn’t. I’m tackling them head on one at a time, but I guess at some point it makes sense to get tired.

Maybe sleep is what I need. Go to bed Karen; you’re making no sense.


Remember how I said I wasn’t going to Wagga this weekend? Remember when I said I was going to have a WHOLE weekend free?

Yeah. Not so much.

I’d completely forgotten about a business trip to the Hunter Valley next weekend. A lot of thoroughbred farms to visit and meetings with regional councils about labour shortages. I’m not sure how I will bear the excitement.

Work is not letting up at all. With every increase in the level of stress, so increases the severity of the boss’s mystery illness. If I ignore the signs of sickness she less than subtly points out, she gets more and more hysterical until every eye is on her. If I notice and make a big deal about how overworked she is, I get nothing done while she’s there. I got to the point today where I told her to go home because she looked so ill – only to get her out of the damn office so I could get some work done. My office seemed to be full of people today too. Clients in and out, staff appraisals. It made the day go quickly, but ultimately I don’t feel like I got much done.

So Wagga this weekend. The organising has already started.

‘Well, I thought we could have lunch on Sunday with your grandparents.’
‘I’m having lunch with Mum on Sunday.’
‘Oh. Well, I’m not sure what we’ll do then.’
‘Umm??? we could have lunch on Saturday?’
‘Yeah. That might work.’

Oh. My. God.

My head explodes and my body aches

So I figured out why I was so ratty yesterday. Sore throat, achy bones, throbbing head, itchy eyes???

I think I’ve got the plague.

In other news, I had possibly the weirdest night sleep ever last night. And for me, perhaps The Weirdest Sleeper in the World, that’s really something. I was laying in bed, just before trying to drift off, when my mind had me convinced I was back in my old bedroom in Wagga. In the almost complete darkness of my current bedroom the shapes I was making out were from my old room – the two old wardrobes along the wall facing my bed, the stereo on top of them to the far left, the CD’s stacked on top of that, the mobile hanging from the top of the unfinished inbuilt cupboard, the uni wall planner on the back of the door, the book case to the left with the fish tank on top of it. I was even remembering the order of the books in the book case, the clothes falling out of the ajar wardrobe door (because they always were) and exactly where that join in the carpet was. I could even SMELL the room, hear Nathan snoring next door, and hear the TV on in the lounge room because Mum and Dad hadn’t gone to bed yet. I’m a big day dreamer, my head is always somewhere else, but I always try to make sure I keep some grip on reality. Last night though I completely succumbed to the whole thing, and by the time I came to I was a little freaked out. It was almost like I was physically transported.

I hadn’t thought about that room in a lot of years. Also, I have no reason at all to want to go back there – I feel happier right now than I have in a long time. But when I actually convinced myself I was in Wilberforce, not Wagga, on my own in my own bed, I felt a kind of sadness. I knew then that I couldn’t just walk up the hall to company, and that my parents were indeed still separated, and my brother is still living in Albury with his wife. Within a period of about 15 seconds I felt the sickening impact of all that change all at once. It was one of the most bizarre things I have ever experienced.

I got maybe 2 hours of broken sleep last night. I’m hoping tonight my plague ridden body will just fall into a coma and I will wake up tomorrow not remembering anything from my sleep the night before. That would be a first in a long time.

Also, I’ve decided I will wake up tomorrow and all this sick I’m feeling will be gone. Mind over matter, right?’

As sure as I can feel my knees

I really hate funerals.

I guess that’s a pretty universal thing. So much palpable sadness in one place can sort of fuck with your head. I’ve been in a strange head place all day – well, since I went to Joyce’s funeral this morning.

The thing about death is it forces you to face your own mortality. You ask yourself morbid hypothetical questions about your own funeral, and you begin to question how you’re living your own life. I suppose that none of this is an overtly bad thing, it just makes you weary.

And there’s nothing that breaks my heart more than seeing a guy trying for the stiff upper lip and failing miserably. I just wanted to hug him and hug him and find some way to ease the pain he was feeling. It was horrible – he was SO angry. It was just emanating from him, and because of that all of the members of his family were giving him a wide berth. In the end on one side of the room there was Adam in front, Michelle beside him and Mum and I behind. And then just rows and rows of empty seats. Thing is, by running from him when he’s like this, they’re all making him worse.

So tomorrow morning I will head back over there and see how he’s holding up. I know, from experience, he will at least be feeling some relief that the worst is over. I just hope he lets go of some of the anger he is feeling toward his family because life’s too short to waste boiling over on the inside.

Christmas this year has an air of calm about it. Every year down here it’s a circus – too many people to see, too many presents to buy/unwrap/take home and too much food. There’s an apathy this year though that has sort of permeated the whole thing. There are no concrete plans for the 25th, and no one seems in a hurry to make any. And normally that would bother me, but it seems to suit me fine right now. I will take it as it comes, and I’m sure everything will fall into place.

Being on holiday means I’m getting some sleep. My inability to fall asleep until around 3 is negated somewhat by being able to sleep in until 10. Getting some (even broken) sleep has I think made all the difference to my state of mind this week.

The world is my oyster, you know, the road is my home

Wagga just gets smaller and smaller. Every time I cross the Murrumbidgee there seems to be less and less here that I understand. I’m sure a lot of it is to do with time and distance, but it’s mostly to do with how much I’ve changed since I moved.

It is very, very difficult for me to have a conversation with anyone here that extends beyond the weather. And that would be fine, if they didn’t want to speak to me about politics and religion. But they do, endlessly, and it’s absolutely impossible here to hold a differing point of view. It’s almost like a game they play – they don’t actually really want to discuss it, in the way I like to discuss things (i.e. to listen to the other person’s point of view and maybe broaden my own). They just rehash the same shit over and over again. Them: Geez, the price of petrol has gone through the roof. Those bloody politicians there in Canberra just keep taxing things more and more, and since the GST came it’s even worse! Me: Well, there is tax on petrol, but some of it’s used for roads and really it’s the global market that sets fuel prices, not the Australian government. Them (after looking at me like I’ve grown a second head): They’re all the same those politicians; they just want your money for their retirement packages.

And so we go, round and round, about petrol and taxes and immigrants and racism and the price of a loaf of bread. It’s so much easier for them to just keep up this one way pseudo dialogue, then to actually look up and out and see what the problem really is. And sometimes it feels like I’m BEATING MY HEAD AGAINST A FUCKING WALL@%!^@! But I’m learning to let it go 😛

And I’m sure the physical sickness I felt today when I heard Hayley use the term ‘boat jumper’ will pass eventually.

Last night was a lot of fun. Different to what I’d normally do for fun, which made it better I think in a way because it was so unexpected. It was the kind of fun that involves eating take away and watching trashy TV and walking around paddocks in pyjamas and flip flops in the dark looking for horses. And falling down holes and laughing so much my stomach hurt. I’m glad I had a chance to see Angela before Christmas – it’s more and more likely she’s moving to Brisbane soon so I’m going to try and catch up with her as much as I can before she goes. Even though I don’t see her a lot, I will miss her all the same. You can never have too many friends nearby.

I need to find some friends in the same postcode I think. The only close friend I have in the Hawkesbury right now is Selina, and things there are more complicated than they should be. All my closest friends are in the city, or in Campbelltown, or in Canberra, Brisbane or Melbourne. Means a lot of time on the phone and in the car 😉

Tomorrow is another funeral. Adam’s Nan passed away on Tuesday. I saw him today and he’s not coping so well, which I get. He has changed a lot since school, and he is a lot more in control of his anger now, but I saw flashes of him from back then today when he was fighting with his Dad. I guess situations like this will do that to you.