Friday filibuster

Hiya. It’s been a couple of weeks. I’m a hopeless blogger in that I lose track of days and then it’s a week between blogs and before you know it, October’s here already.

I don’t mean to do this, but I get busy sometimes. Even when I’m not “work busy”, other things such as birthday shopping get me otherwise occupied.

So, hello. I’m back. Last week was a fairly shitty week, when I had to accept I was not offered the job – they DID get back to me eventually, and it confirmed my supposition. But the letter was lovely and apparently I WAS impressive and had excellent skills – I just didn’t match the skills they needed for the job right now. There may or may not have been retail therapy.

Back to the drawing board. I’m doing some editing work, and applying for a DECRA, and eventually I will actually start my monograph. It’s a slog, so I’m ignoring it for now.

It’s a news blog day today!

In renovation news, all the electrical work is now done and I’m just waiting for the final bill. I still have to paint some of the sections and gap fill etc, but it’s not far off completion in the bathroom at least! (excluding the oil paint on the windows, for which I actually have to wait until it’s cooler). IMG_2974IMG_2981IMG_2969

The room looks quite chic but the tiles, lights, mirror and fittings were typical Australian prices and we didn’t go for the most expensive selections at all. Perhaps the most expensive element was the vanity unit, but I don’t have a break-down of the actual cost as it was built into the total price. The really fun part, after selecting all the bathroom fittings, was finishing off the decorations. It’s lovely to get some plants in the house: I’m a truly terrible plant keeper so these are surviving despite my best attempts to neglect them. Choosing vanity-ware, towels, bins and toilet brushes was ridiculously fun, too, and I’m so happy with the end result.

The other day I actually washed the floors throughout the whole house, so we’re nearly at normal again.

housewife

Personally I think housekeeping is a Sisyphean task for which I am singularly unqualified, so I prefer not to do it much. We are tidy people and I do clean up after myself on a daily basis, but I don’t count that as housekeeping: that’s more about managing personal cleanliness. (Put it back where you found it, or find a better spot for it!)

When DH and I were both working long hours I hired a fortnightly cleaner. The cleaner was rather passive aggressive, complained a lot and would try to destroy my vacuum cleaner through little vicious acts of sabotage. She went.

Anyway. Cleaning out other areas of my life: I’m over the pity party, so I’ve switched my brain back on and I’m determined to maintain a gritted teeth joie-de-vivre. Which is rather contradictory but what the hey. I’m almost at the “I really really need to tackle the tax” thought, and the creative and academic writing will continue now. I’ve had to accept that I won’t see any money for my efforts, but we can mostly cope. I AM gigging and teaching a bit, which is good, and I’ll keep trawling job sites for more work.

And soon I’ll have a go at painting the bedroom and lounge room, because they need doing. I just have to buy some more ceiling paint, grit my teeth, and do it.

Plenty of teeth gritting this year!

In other news I’ve decided to keep live chickens for eggs. Huzzah!

aston_chicken_coop_with_chickens

I’ve seen the hens and coop ($370) that will be perfect in our large backyard, and we don’t require a permit. It’s a stupidly expensive thing to do, given that we can buy a dozen free-range eggs for $6, and we rarely go through more than a dozen a week ($312 per year on average), but I want to control some of what I’m eating, from a purely ethical stance. In Australia while we have basic guidelines in place around free-range chooks they are not enshrined into law. The basic guideline states there should be 1500 chooks per hectare (1000m2), which gives them about the size of a queen sized bed each to scrabble around in. This is ok, but the powers that be (big food companies – is there a word that mimics “big pharma” for food?) want to make it 20,000 chooks per hectare. This is unacceptable.

Also, I want to know what my chooks are eating. We’ll feed them a combination of chook pellets (fish byproducts I’m told but there are vegetarian options), corn and wheat grain, and leafy green things. It’s not the cheapest option in the world – backyard farming – but it’s a fun thing to do and it’s not like I don’t have the time to keep my animals.

Our backyard is quite open. We will put the chookhouse in a shady area, but we also have to worry about foxes and snakes. Nevertheless, I’ve never seen a snake in our neighborhood, and Poppy the dog will kick up a ruckus if there’s a fox around. The possums don’t seem to have any natural predators here so they are fairly free with their wanderings, which makes me think the wildlife here is contained to birds and big-ass insects. I’m channelling my inner farmer here. My ancestors were farmers and I have kept chooks before. I love the gentle noises they make and the feel-good self-sufficiency of the backyard farm.

Of course, if I was a truly ethical eater I’d probably be a vegetarian. But it’s the little things that count. We try to buy bacon and pork products from a local butcher who sources ethical producers (those who don’t keep the piggies in little nasty pens, but give them room to move and live a short but hopefully happy life before they go to the slaughterhouse). And for years we’ve been eating free-range chickens, pole-and-line-caught tuna, farmed fish (we have a great farming industry in Australia that uses lots of efficient, earth-friendly practices), so on.

So I’m looking forward to naming my not-yet-purchased chooks, perhaps after Gilbert and Sullivan characters: Buttercup, Katisha, Yum-Yum? Ideas for names welcomed!

And now: I’m baking home-made muesli and spaghetti bolognese and delicious brownies. Hola!

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Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee you’d notice the beautiful new coffee machine in the kitchen. It’s cranberry red. Nuff said about coffee, except to mention I drink quite a lot of it. Black and strong and espresso, thanks.

If we were having coffee you’d notice it’s not at the kitchen table because I’m trying to do my tax. There are receipts all over the table. 2 years worth for both my company and my personal tax. I hate receipts. I finally found a new system: chuck all the receipts into a chic black tin box originally containing Aesop grooming products and close the lid. Do not open the lid for a LONG time. Hence the kitchen table has now become a hideous receipt-encrusted eyesore.

If we were having coffee you’d notice a few appointments in my diary this week: I have an interview coaching session on Monday with my DH’s work coach. I’m terrible in interviews and vivas, because I can’t think fast enough and I ramble. Conciseness and precision are not my allies. Hence why I am doing so many 100 flash fiction challenges: I need to edit better. The spoken word: I wish I was Aaron Sorkin and had his brain. But I am not. On Thursday I have a singing gig, yay, and on Thursday night I head south to Sydney for a job interview.

This interview is important because the job is a good one.

I really really want this job.

However, if we were having coffee you’d notice my hesitation about leaving my DH to go work in another state. It’s HARD WORK. I have no fear our relationship would fall apart but it would get one hell of a beating. I’d have to work hard to manage my work commitments alongside family commitments, and to balance weekends and travel plans. UGH. And I have NO extended family in Sydney. They’re all in Melbourne. I’d be all alone (all by myself).

 

 

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’ve put on a kilo or two – that’s too many sticky buns and lounging around work for me. Summer here is hot. I’ve been painting. Then there was Xmas. They’re my excuses. The reality I was depressed and I’ve been watching a hell of a lot of TV/ Netflix/Stan. Now I’m fat again. Time to get to the gym which I’ve not attended since September (hence the fatness).

*Note to self: New Year’s Resolutions, dammit.

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’ve started cooking again, and I planted a herb garden last week. It’s going well, thanks for asking. The brand new bathroom is now fully useable (if still missing an extractor fan), and I am using fluffy white towels. Brand new. It’s a luxury. Finally, I want to draw your attention to my bedside table – it has 3 books on it. I’m part way through all of them.

Life is pretty good this week. It might be because of the good coffee. How was your week?

Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Diana at Part-time Monster.

weekendcoffeeshare

Here’s to the New Year

Good morning! I hope you’ve had a restful/exciting/peaceful/joyous/insertappropriateadjectivehere holiday season. DH (darling husband) is back at work and I am again alone at home. No daughter, no step kids. Just me and the animals and a really clean house.

spic-and-span

(Photo courtesy of daysgoneby.me)

Saturday I finally got around to vacuuming the whole house because dust and builders, and boy did it feel good. We’ve cleaned out the old bathroom so the children can put their own stuff in the drawers, we’ve organised the pantry, cobbled together a linen cupboard, taken clothes to the charity bins, bought a full length mirror for the WIR. It feels good to get so much stuff done. Old, unwanted things become a burden when you know they work: you can’t bear to throw them away. However, you’ve upgraded and now the old unwanted thing skulks in the back of the cupboard. In our case, without any cupboards to speak of, it’s skulking in plain view. We need to organise a garage sale, it’s true.

But I prevaricate. This year is a turning point for me. I’ve had more than a year to gather my thoughts, be angry, grief-stricken and generally unproductive. Now it’s time for action. I’m no religious nutter but in the past when I didn’t have a job or money I would “make a call to the ether” and invariably something positive would turn up. I guess this means I was open to opportunities as they arose. Now my opportunities are narrower, so how to hear the ether calling back?

I’m also aware of a life phase coming to its end. It began when I moved north and now it feels finished. Not, of course, from my marriage or blessed relationship with DH who is my light, my joy, my rock, my better half. I just feel that something new awaits me. Dunno what it is.

I shouldn’t write a listicle of NY resolutions: I’m a goal setter without the need for a New Year’s punctuation mark. But here are a few goals I can be getting on with for the month of January at least:

  1. Blog more frequently using ideas from the interwebs, and link with other bloggers. See? I’m already doing it. I’ve got Weekend Coffee Share through Part-time Monster, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy and I’m thinking of doing some Friday Fictioneers or some other fast fiction writing. I’d love some help engaging with the blogging community – drop me a line if you would like to share some ideas about where to go and what to do. By the way, I also have another blog called The House that Jess Built. Check it out if you’re a renovation nut like me.
  2. Do my TAX. I have a refund owing and bills to pay.
  3. Finish painting the woodwork of our new renovation and paint the bedroom and lounge rooms now that the majority of the work is finished. (Yes, all right, I’m sitting here writing in my blog rather than actually doing this).
  4. Revise an article, write an article with a friend and start writing academic papers again. (This might sit in the too hard basket while I gather up the courage).
  5. Oh, all right: exercise again, cut down from my holiday eating and drinking, get healthy, that sort of thing. There’s always a get fit clause in a New Year’s Resolution post. I’ve been super fit and healthy before (see 2012/2013 blog posts) but it takes a peculiar kind of obsession I just don’t possess because it crowds out having fun, eating, you know: living. But I COULD move about some more, and perhaps eat a bit less. The drinking I’ll take one day at a time. Last year I did a 3 week break from alcomohol and it made no earthly difference to my health, weight, sense of well being or stress levels. Maybe I’ll try not drinking on Mondays. Lol.
  6. See my friends. I like to do this anyway but maybe a bit more so now?

 

So there it is. Small beginnings. What are your goals this year?

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee, you’d notice we’re having it in the nice new child’s bedroom I’ve spent weeks painting, which is very nearly finished and only needs a teensy tiny little extra bit of oil paint on the windows to be complete. You’d ask me why I haven’t done the windows and I’d be telling you it’s because working in oil paint is a bitch. It goes on easily and covers beautifully but it’s hard to remove when you make a mistake and it makes your hands tacky and sticky. And then there’s the turps.

I’d also tell you I’ve still got to do some walls in the rest of the house – they need sanding and I’m kind of over sanding – it gets in everything and I just want an easy time in the next few weeks. You’d remind me that hey! You’ve only got to sand one section of the lounge room and then it needs painting with an undercoat and some gap filling and you’re so close and don’t give up now!

I’d be giving you that sneery look I’ve been telling you about:

sneering child

and remind you that I’m OVER PAINTING AND I JUST WANT IT FINISHED ALREADY. Plus, if I start the wall that has just been replaced then I have to paint the walls and ceiling in the lounge room too, because there’ll be a big patch where the old colour meets the new colour. And then there’s the gap filling.

If we were having coffee you’d notice it’s awfully close to Xmas and our tree isn’t up, nor the Xmas lights, or the tinsel or any of the stuff that gives Xmas its festive feel. See comment above. The lounge room isn’t done and there’s mess everywhere (the Oh Jesus rooms have been downsized to just 1 room now, so I’m not so panicky) and frankly I’m just not in a celebrating kind of mood. This year it’s the DH (darling husband’s) year – we’re staying put here in Brisbane, QLD. But there’s only 5 of us and we had the big family Xmas thing yesterday because some people in this family decided to become church ministers and are busy on Xmas Day. Yesterday was fun, but sad too. There was a death in the family (a sister-in-law’s elderly dad) just the day before, and my parents-in-law aren’t so healthy. But on the plus side another sister-in-law has been given a reprieve from a very worrying cancer scare – she has melanoma, and it was originally diagnosed as at stage 4 (terminal), but her prognosis has been downgraded to a treatable cancer with great outcomes. She should have a long and happy life after all.

The day was lovely, but at about 3pm the cooling breeze died off and it became unbearably hot and sticky, as is often the case in SE Qld. The in-laws aren’t great celebrators because of that ministerial thing – it tends to suck the life out of you with all the hatching, matching and despatching they attend to. So they don’t celebrate stuff very well. It’s all a little off-hand. But we all put on a good show, nevertheless.

I’m not much good at Xmas without the rest of my extended family present. It feels small and miserable with only 5 people for lunch. I’m used to 20+ people for Xmas lunch, drop ins and “yes, let’s just find and extra chair, we can squeeze one in”. If we’re doing Xmas it needs to be with lots of people: an angry uncle and the odd cousin or two rocking in the corner, little kidlets screaming down the corridors, squealing as they open their family gifts, my mother’s loud, merry voice the heart note of the day. Lots of kids, noise, tinsel, Xmas crackers, too much turkey, champagne and home made brandy sauce.

So I’m going to think about Star Wars instead and remind myself of its glorious, nostalgic, senseless, silly fun and give this to you as my holiday gift. You may have already seen it, but it’s worth seeing it again. Jimmy Fallon is like a big kid in a candy store with his show and his guests. He’s lovely to watch but sometimes just a tad enthusiastic and fanboi-ish. But here his enthusiasm totally rocks. The Roots are awesome, folks.

 

Happy Xmas and may you enjoy house painting more than me.

Weekend Coffee share

 

 

In which I aim for good humour and bon vivant.

This week I am determined to remain cheerful and not be grumpy with the world. Today we are having our hot water unit replaced at a breathtaking price but I keep forgetting that the last time I priced hot water units was about 15 years ago. So there’s some inflationary cost there. Or so I keep telling myself as I grit my teeth for the bill. The guy is here now, and we should have hot water by the late afternoon.

On another positive note, an electrician came to look at our job today. Granted, it’s not a small job because we will need a new powerboard and general updating of our old electrical circuits, but we have a Queenslander. It’s all completely accessible under the house, very little stooping or crawling into cavities. And I had budgeted for it. We’re just doing stuff arse about, is all. Said electrician will send us a quote for the job later today and with luck might be able to do the job very soon.

On another positive note, I have decided on the light fitting for the dining room (which is in the same room as the kitchen). It’s this one:

w14_south-hampton

Ok, it’s not exactly cheap. But I don’t want anything too engineered looking or busy. It’s perfect for our little dining room:

IMG_0338

Ignore the lounge setting at the rear of the room – it’s no longer there. Our table is 2 metres long and the light fitting is 1 metre long, and is about right for a long room. So now I am going off to buy the light fitting and keep my fingers crossed that the electrician can start work ASAP on our stove. Because dammit I want to be HAPPY!

In which I generally bitch about stuff.

I have had enough of this weekend. Really, I have. Friday started well enough: I stayed at home to wait for our new fridges and stove, which arrived and are pretty. However, trades are thin on the ground at present and there’s no electrician available to install our new stove. So there’s a big dusty cardboard box on a crate in our kitchen. At least our stainless steel pigeon pair of fridge/freezers look good. Why pigeon pair? Because we can’t get a regular 4-door fridge through our front door. Anyway, the pair work well and make our kitchen look quite good: larger, actually. I had fun putting all the food in the new fridges and retiring the old white fridge, which although still functioning had lost most of its seals, the fridge light, and an important shelf which had been broken for years. Question is, do we replace the seals and the light and the shelf to give to one of the kids for when they move out or do we let it go to the whitegood repairman to resell? 

Friday evening I take the dog for a walk, prepare dinner for the kids (adult children, mostly), and head out to a fabulous new show by a local modern dance company. All’s well: the hubby and I skip out on the post-show function speeches and are having a great chat in the car, to be continued, when I discover the cat has peed on our bed. On our doona. And on some of my clothes I had heaped on there to hang up after arriving home. I lose it with the cat. She is becoming senile and doing this on a regular basis now. She is flung outside for the foreseeable future. I am furious and turn on DH, because I’m just generally shitty. He’s not well and turns on me. We scrabble around to find clean sheets but there’s no other queen bed doonas about so shiver throughout the night under a single sheet and an old blanket (normally in a sub tropical climate this would not be an issue but it’s still winter here and nights get cold). 

Saturday arrives. I awake in a filthy mood. I head to the gym where I work out my frustration with a good dose of HIIT. It’s helping me lose weight and yes, 1 kilo down since the previous week. I feel better. I go home, make myself a delicious cooked breakfast and not one hour later the hot water unit blows up. On a Saturday. And I haven’t had my shower yet. For the second time this weekend I lose it. We can’t get someone to replace the unit until Monday. So no hot water for our showers or kitchen taps. 

At this point I give up on the whole house renovation thing because the house is now falling down round our ears and there’s no joy in sight. I can’t get a builder to come round and do any work for us, there are no trades, and why oh why does the hot water cistern have to explode now? Hubby takes over. I’m done. Done with the whole shebang. I’m sick of not being able to close our bedroom properly (3 sets of doors into our bedroom, 2 being French doors with no handles so the dog just pushes them open and there’s also no privacy), I’m sick of wanting a simple thing like asking builders to come and renovate our house and not having ANY luck. 

I have a cold shower and we head out to look at some stunning houses recently up for sale and very beautiful and well beyond our meagre budget but with 5 bedrooms and 3 living areas and pools. We covet, enviously. We drop the doona off to be cleaned and buy some pee-deodoriser. The children have disappeared to friends’ houses, so hubby and I retire hurt to watch some Netflix and eat comfort food. It’s going well until we get the evil circle of lag. No more Netflix: no more streaming TV because stupid poor service from our and all Internet providers in Australia.

So you can see why I’m shitty today. I hate this weekend. And the cat keeps whining at the back door. 

And later I have to go to a concert. I think I’ll bail on this one. I’m too shitty to converse with anyone. Let this horrid weekend be over.

No news is good news, right?

Typewriter-ClearNoony noony noony noo.

I’m the Sesame St typewriter this month. That’s how I’m feeling right now. I’m about to finish organising my book proposal and Post Doc applications but otherwise life is just noodling along, pretty calm and relaxed. My referees are coming along nicely, my book proposal is nearly done, my Post Doc is pretty shite right now and I need to get my referee love sorted BEFOREĀ  June, but mostly I’m feeling cool.

I’ve recently seen more pro-am theatre than I ever want to see again, but I don’t mind. As my mum says, “I’m notching up those karma points for my old age”. And most of it has had some very good points. At least at no time was I really bored. That’s important.

My daughter is OK (which is as good as it gets), my DH is a bit ill with a persistent cold because he needs a long holiday, and the house plans are on the final stretch to costings and council approval. The animals are in fine health, I polished the furniture yesterday and the laundry is done (not by me).

My teaching is going fine (as far as I can tell, I’m over it slightly so the care factor is rather low), and I’m performing again, adding valuable dollars to our school fee account. The house sitters are organised, the bills are paid, Netflix and Stan are getting a good work out, I’m going to the gym and calorie counting again (minus the calories for Pinot Noir, because I need it), I’m cooking, we’re eating out a lot, I’m seeing heaps of great theatre and shows, seeing friends, I’m organising our wardrobe and pantry with some new coat hangers, storage jars and a shoe stand (which is a GREAT thing to have). Exciting overseas holiday plans are coming along well – Spain and France this year. And that’s it.

Noony noony noony noo.

Why then do I have a niggling feeling of impending doom?

charlie-brown

 

I must be feeling better: I’m filing.

I must be feeling better – I’m having a paperwork clean up. And clean out. I’m getting rid of 5 years of PhD stuff that’s either already replicated online or old obsolete drafts; I’m cleaning up my single sheet downloaded song scores to take with me to work; I’m FILING, people. I hate filing. But today I’m doing it. Maybe to avoid leaving the house because it’s stinking hot out there, but maybe too because I needed to get it done. Ah, the joys of working from home. Not.

paperwork

I’ve had to move my home teaching to my DH’s workplace this year because we’re about to renovate the house and the room will be torn apart at some stage. Therefore I had to move stuff out of it and find another place to teach from. Momentarily I’m already feeling better about the home office. I’m taking the opportunity – now that I’ve removed a bookcase and some of my MT scores – to rearrange the room slightly, so that it feels more spacious to work in. I’ve stored my piano keyboard to one side and underneath it I’ve popped a bunch of my old gig gear. Because let me disabuse of you of a typical urban myth about musos: I never play piano at home. I never sing at home. I never play any music at home except the occasional Plainchant (Hildegard of Bingen for studying); Baroque instrumental music (I love you Bach), OR Jenny Morris’ Honeychild (when I’m cleaning the house). Because as a musician who teaches ALL THE TIME I get sick of music, especially vocal music. And besides, I have music in my head all day. Earworms. I don’t want to be blind but I won’t mind going deaf. I got the music in me!

I have two in/out trays that have been full for a while, so I’m taking the plunge to see what’s in them. I’m clearing off my desk, which usually gets filled up with bits and pieces of not-quite-junk, like hair ribbons and makeup and pens and flash drives and receipts and bills and stuff. I’ve even rung some of my superannuation providers to find some missing money! I found the money, there’s quite a bit – not enough to retire on though.

I keep thinking I only work 4 days a week, but it’s not true. I do really work 5 – but I forget that my business and the accounts and the paperwork all count as administrative work. And that ALWAYS happens on the non-teaching day.

So my new office space has to double up as a spare room. It’s going to have its own ensuite (but on a landing so it doesn’t feel creepy), it will be 3.5 metres wide by at least 5.3 metres long (not including the ensuite). It will have doors and windows at the front and windows along the side. Under the side windows will be several Ikea bookcases (because cheap) and at the rear of the room will be a built in bookcase and desk. It won’t look like the image below but it will have a skillion ceiling. And a Persian rug. And bookcases. And a desk. And windows. I’m so excited I could spit.

The Christmas special

This might be the last blog I write in 2014, as my time gets taken up with a ROAD TRIP south and Christmas celebrations with the family. I take a moment now to reflect on all the stuff that I have been through this year, and my plans for 2015. Take heed: it’s a long post. Grab a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Firstly, my beautiful daughter M. After coming out as transgender in September 2013, she moved unwillingly up north to Brisvegas in January of this year, to be cared for and supported by me and her step-father. This was a traumatic move for her, given her dislike of the hot humid state generally. She has been through a lot. So have we all as a family, now. M’s experiences as a transgender mtf woman have been typical of this marginalised group. She has been misgendered, she has suffered discrimination and abuse from trolls in Logan (a bogan suburb now proven beyond doubt), and despite help from health care professionals and a truck load of pills, she has suffered mightily from her own demons. These demons were the hardest to manage.

Before she found peace in her appearance with a stonking great new haircut and gorgeous red dye job, she was seriously depressed about it. Her male-pattern hair growth and male looks cause her great heartache, and she often thinks about suicide. My daughter is tall, model slender, and, to my mind, absolutely beautiful as a trans woman. As the female hormones kick in and the testosterone blockers do their work, she is becoming more feminine-looking, softer, and smoother, with clear, fine white skin and beautiful grey-green eyes. But she doesn’t yet see herself that way. She started hurting herself. It was a low point for me as a mother to see my beautiful girl cut into herself and hate herself so much.

It has taken quite a bit of encouragement to get her to see her health-care providers and manage her condition. She is not out of the woods yet. But already her increased medication is improving her well-being, and she is in contact with her health-care providers who have been very supportive. And of course, she talks to me, and I to her. Talking helps, and we are starting to see the triggers for her unhealthy behaviours. One of them is mis-gendering by strangers. She needs to call them out for it. Another trigger is her appearance and hair style. She needs to feel in control of that, and have enough funds to cover her look. I’m sure there are other triggers, and I’m sure one of them is me, when out of fear and concern I say things that might inadvertently hurt her.

But my daughter, despite living in the margins and interstices of life, can be incredibly black and white, and tends to stubbornness. Actually, she has always been as stubborn as a mule. Nothing there has changed since she was 2. And, bless her, she sometimes fails to give a little. We parents have to do all the compromising, and most of the time it’s fine. But there are some minor moments when we also need that compromise from her, and this is when the problems arise. Mostly it’s about the condition of her room, or her sporadic contribution to the housework, or the people she invites to stay over without asking us, or her clothing when she is going out with us. Stupid things. Adolescent things. Things that mean nothing in the grand scheme of life, but that mean a lot in the day-to-day living.

I finally snapped a few weeks ago and realised I needed support from others in a similar situation. I’ve contacted PFLAG in Brisvegas and already have had the most wonderful outpouring of support from parents with transgender adult children, who, like me, need someone to talk with and to share stories with.

But, more importantly, I’ve received the most wonderful support from my friends and family and work colleagues. They have been understanding, quiet, and caring. After all, there’s very little they can say or advise me on – they do not have the experience of this. Instead, they have listened, silently offered their friendship and love, and for that I am truly grateful. One great woman is Deb. Deb is M’s employer. M, with help from me, my boss and Deb, was given work near my work’s local coffee shop. M is fast becoming a great employee, given up to 25 hours work a week at the moment while another employee is on maternity leave. Deb has been a marvel of patience and love and I don’t know how to thank her enough.

Second on my list of 2014 happenings, I finally submitted my PhD. Today is the day when the reports are due back. As if. (Actually, I just checked online – one is already back. And now my stomach is churning.) But who knows? I certainly know I will be a Dr by this time next year, and with any luck I can call myself Dr by March next year, when it actually counts. In the end, the last gasp to the finish line wasn’t nearly so horrible as others make out. I took small vacation breaks to write in: 3 days here, a week there. And at the end, it was 2 hours here, a day there. After shrinking from my Lit review for most of the 5 years, I finally sat down to do it in July and found a way through. It was a rewarding, engrossing time of discovery and, once again, epiphany. The last 3 months of my PhD weren’t hard, as I have previously reported. On the advice of a friend, I compiled my entire thesis into one working document, formatted it early, got most of the frontispieces done (although obviously missed something as I had to keep going back and revising it for stupid bureaucratic reasons), and organised the appendices early too. That way, I was just adding to the lit review and the reference list as I went. My final weeks were about me reading the whole document through, finding tiny edits and enormous sentences and fixing both. In the end, I was writing as if I was dancing. It felt joyful.

But I didn’t really count on the grief I felt at finishing this big thing, and not having something else to work towards in the future. My job is peripatetic, without security, and I have no way of knowing what income I will receive next year. As someone who has struggled to get by for so long, I am rather sick of it. I have teaching at university since 2008, I’ve published and will continue to do so, I’m researching, I’m doing everything a good girl entering academia should do, but am struggling to convert all this work into a full-time gig. And I’m angry at the people who take the system for a ride and refuse to contribute while people like me are on the sidelines waving their arms about saying “pick me, pick me!” Anyway, grief and anger have been my friends the last month or two. Not helped by M’s emotional turmoil, of course.

Thirdly, work. Work has been engrossing, rewarding, at times frustrating and also heartbreaking, when the people you teach, care about and care for, sometimes reward you with insensitivity and thoughtlessness. But at the same time my expertise is getting ever better, my approach more thorough, my interactions with work colleagues more relaxed. It has been a good year. I teach too much and it is exhausting work, and it is certainly not something I would have wanted for myself when I began my performing career, but I’m pretty good at it. But there’s no denying I would like to balance my teaching work with research and more performance. All to come, I guess.

Fourth, travel. This year has mostly been about me escaping home for anywhere else. Noosa in QLD, Aireys Inlet in Victoria, Montville; all these places I have stayed at to finish my PhD. And of course, there’s NYC. A big trip but not a perfect one. Note to self – leave DH to his own devices so I can shop without him being all grumpy guts in the corner.

Fifth, house and home. We’ve been planning our renovations and we have money actually sitting in the bank gathering dust (certainly not gathering interest, FFS). But it’s not quite enough to do all we want to do, and the plans have stalled and my designer, who has great ideas, is very bad at staying in touch. DH and I are both annoyed, but I am particularly annoyed because I cannot keep teaching in my studio space – it’s just not good enough or quiet enough for the money my students are spending on me to educate them. The waiting around has become a pain in the butt.

Sixth, Poppy love. I love her, she loves me, nuff said. Oh! And I’ve finally worked out how to artfully clip her poodle fur using the right equipment, so it should be easier and cheaper now on to clip her ourselves. Huzzah.

Seventh, shows. Lots and lots of shows. So many shows. Many, many shows. Am I showed out? Nah. Love it. Bring it. My experiences make me more critical, but this is a good thing. Always aim for perfection, even if it’s impossible to reach. Highlights? Desh at the Brisbane Festival, Honeymoon in Vegas on Broadway, and It’s Only a Play, also on Broadway. I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Into the Woods at our place. Rigoletto at Opera Queensland and Frizstch’s last conducting gig with QLD Symphony Orchestra performing Mahler’s 3rd. Lowlights? Old, outdated and overblown: Aida at the Met, The New York Theatre Ballet with a turkey of a Swan Lake.

Eighth, DH and me. It has been a huge year. He has taken on the top job at our workplace, and I have been finishing my PhD, and my trans daughter has been living with us. It has been a bit of a rocky time, and at times we have struggled to maintain our connection to each other. It’s there, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes other commitments get in the way of a strong, loving connection with one’s life partner. But he is coming on a road trip with me, and we have to spend 3 days in a car together. That’s a good thing! And when we head to the beach house (my folk’s place at Aireys Inlet) I think he really will relax. Even his work colleagues are beginning to complain that there’s no evidence of tapering off at his work! In other words, he came dashing into the top job and everyone has been frantically dashing about ever since, trying to keep up. I think they want him to go away on holiday. For a long time. Me? Well, I long since stopped trying to keep up with my workaholic hubby. We pull together pretty well, and I bully him into stopping work every now and then.

I’m sure there’s more. But now I have to go shower, get ready and lunch with a fabulous friend. Happy Christmas, everyone.