Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee, you’d notice it was actually Monday morning here in the Southern hemisphere. This is flying under the radar of east coast USA, which is a cool (possibly frigid and snow-bound) 16 hours behind us. Therefore it’s only Sunday night somewhere in the world. I’ve already had 2 coffees and am very very ready for my third.

I’m dying here a bit. I had my job interview last Friday. It went really really well. Even if I don’t get the job, I’m not sure what more I could have done. I was open, friendly, answered the questions (which were easy and simple) to the best of my ability. I felt comfortable, at ease, poised and prepared. As I may have mentioned last week, I had a coaching which enabled me to get the best out of my elevator pitch, and illuminated my skills and strengths. I now know what I do really well, and I know I’m passionate about research. It has taken me until the last few weeks to work that out.

They have promised to call me today so my sleep has been rather interrupted. I’ve taken off the phone’s mute button; the default position. I’m not altogether sure they’ll ring today as tomorrow is Australia Day and it’s a holiday – there may be a Wednesday phone call instead.

But of course it’s Monday now and do you think I’ve done any meaningful work since I awoke? No, nope, non, nada, nyet. I DID get up and shower but my day has been otherwise characterized by lack of movement. Yet, I have a list of Things To Do. I have a DECRA to complete. I have some private teaching to plan (if I don’t get the job). I have 20 hours of editing work to do. I have a book proposal to finish and a monograph to write.

There’s plenty I could be doing. Dammit.

If we were having coffee I’d be telling you about the great weekend my hubby and I had in Sydney, that shiny, fast paced city. That we saw friends and shows and that I felt quite at home in a town that’s neither like Melbourne nor Brisbane. I’d be telling you about the rain that was a constant of the weekend.

I’d be telling you about a show we saw, ostensibly for children, composed by the brilliant Kate Miller-Heidke, called The Rabbits. It’s an allegorical tale about the 1788 invasion of Australia by the British, and the rape, destruction and desecration of the First Peoples of Australia (and their land) in the name of that abominable Roman concept of Terra Nullius (nobody’s land). It’s done beautifully, simply, and breaks your heart. Because its story is truth.

I’m an inhabitant of this land and have been all my life. My Irish, Scottish and English ancestors came here in the 1850s and worked the land, bred, and experienced both prosperity and privation. Even though for many years I was a single parent, poor and marginalised, I cannot imagine my children being removed from me and my homeland violated. I cannot imagine being part of a race who were so oppressed that the scourge of this oppression continues to this day through poverty, violence, drug and alcohol addiction, serious health problems, unemployment, lack of access to good quality food and water, education, housing, healthcare and legal services. And yet The Rabbits (published in 2000, written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan), this simple tale based on a picture book, let me imagine all of this and more.

rabbits2

(Copyright 1998 Shaun Tan. “They came by water”. Oil on canvas)

The book has won numerous awards and the opera (in all honesty it’s the most cross-genre work I’ve seen in forever because it includes operatic conventions, panto, pop, blues, and other elements I haven’t thought of yet, set on a stage) has been beautifully realised by Miller-Heidke. She is a composer of special quality. Trained as an opera singer, she has carved out a great career as a pop singer/song-writer. Her music becomes more sophisticated and beautiful the older she gets, yet it is mainly diatonic, tuneful and easy for the lay person to enjoy. The more educated ear also love her work because it sounds easy but just isn’t. She has that rare gift of eliciting emotion through key changes that a listener won’t understand unless you’ve been trained in it. And even then I cried. I just wanted to weep and weep and weep, but as I was not alone I felt hampered by social niceties, and therefore didn’t. Great art has the capacity to move you in all sorts of ways and this work moved me like few others. Take a look: The Rabbits

If we were having coffee I’d tell you about how good it was seeing an ex-student of mine act and sing beautifully in another show we saw called The Fantasticks. It’s a rather flimsy tale and with sinister undertones not fully realised in the rather meh production, but he was great. My lovely student. Very proud.

If we were having coffee you’d be one of several people I’ve managed to have coffee with over the last few days. The Sydney trip was not just for a job interview; it was an opportunity for rare catch-ups with friends and acquaintances. There was afternoon coffee with E who braved simply appalling traffic to get into the heart of town, a late supper with S who had just done a very awkward singing telegram, and brunch with one of my oldest friends C and his son, who is delightful, precocious and super bright. DH managed to be brave during it all – he’s not a friends-type of person, but he enjoyed the interactions nevertheless.

And if we were having coffee you’d notice I’m a little bit annoyed that the possums got to my herb garden on the back porch. It was only a matter of time, of course. Thus far they’re particularly fond of dill, parsley, and coriander. They’ve nibbled half-heartedly at the sage and won’t touch the rosemary, and aren’t interested in the basil, thyme or the oregano. The saddest bit is they’re not at all worried about the dog, who goes psycho when they arrive on the porch for their evening repast.

So now that we’ve had coffee and I’ve been procrastinating yet again, I’ll leave you with thanks and an invitation to join me again. Maybe not on a Monday morning, but on a lazy Sunday.

Au revoir!

(Weekend coffee share is hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. Why not join in the chat?)

weekendcoffeeshare

 

 

Advertisements

Today is a good day.

A new day, a new year, a new life, a new something else.

For those who are interested, I left the house. Yes, I have been a little bit agoraphobic. It basically comes down to this: if I leave the house I know I’m going to spend money, so best not.

I had breakfast with a girlfriend. It was good. A delicious Eggs Benny with bacon (that’s an Eggs Benedict for people not in Australia – we insist on shortening every proper noun). Then I went and deposited a cheque, and then I bought more groceries because that’s what I do when I’m about to be seriously broke.

And then I watched the last 5 episodes of the 7th and final season of the West Wing. Who do I love the most? CJ Cregg? Toby Ziegler? Josh Lyman? Donna Moss? Leo McGarry? Sam Seaborn? The completely hunky Matthew Santos? (I’m talking characters here, he’s the even more gorgeous Jimmy Smits in real life). I probably love CJ the most. She’s the woman every strong woman wants to be. Smart, funny, thin and fashionable, driven, in charge. But Josh Lyman. The thinking girl’s hunka hunka burning-up-because-he-never-sleeps love. And we all know he had a six pack under those white shirts (thank goodness they finally started wearing white shirts by the end – grey and green blech at the start). And then there’s Eeyore Toby Ziegler. Soulful, sad, smart, a little bit morally superior, with brown eyes to die for. And Donna Moss, the character who grew the most over 7 seasons and who steadfastly loved her man despite him being an idiot. I loved these characters and I loved the actors and I loved the show and I loved that after Aaron Sorkin left the 5th season the show got a bit meaner and sadder and more difficult. It needed it. Sorkin lives for the soapbox and his characters are well-meaning but a little morally elevated and a touch grandiose. The writers who took over insisted on making the characters more human. It had a remarkably consistent cast, all of whom came back for the final few episodes. It wasn’t perfect TV but it was close enough for me. I shall miss it. That’s no joke – it was 125 hours of TV, 156 episodes. I’m nearly ready to begin The Good Wife, but I’ll need a few weeks of mourning time for my favourite ever TV show.

westwing

Perhaps I should start to read The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro, now sitting on my bedside table, and begin my Goodreads pledge.

In other news I’ve been sniffing around for work and have been offered a bit of copy-editing to do. It’s boring work but I learn stuff every time I do it, and I don’t have to teach people, so yes, thanks! to that. And I’m about to start gunning for an ARC DECRA. I have interest from a local uni who have offered to sponsor me and give me support to apply. Wow.

Today is a GOOD day.

 

 

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 BEFORE  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

 

Review: Skylights, by Luther M. Siler

I’m writing this review for a fellow blogger – Luther M. Siler – who has recently published a sci-fi space opera/crime-fic/robot wars novel. It’s very good. He blogs at infinitefreetime.com and is a teacher-educator-administrator somewhere in the USA. Probably middle America. He is an Apple fan-boi, so we have something in common.

The stars are shining for Skylights!

Luther M. Siler is a prolific blogger I stumbled upon last year and I’ve always enjoyed his small stories about his work life. He writes well, with a keen eye for detail and life’s absurdities. He gratifyingly rarely makes prose errors or spelling mistakes. His style is modern POV, and deeply, deeply funny – and at times surprisingly poignant. Being a sci-fi mini-fanboi, when I read about his new space opera novel Skylights I knew I was destined to read it. I even bought the Kindle edition. Now, given I’m not normally impressed by self-published novels as they can often be appallingly written tripe, I was enjoyably surprised by the quality of Skylights. Siler began this novel by entering the popular and growing NaNoWriMo, winning it in 2008 with this novel.

Let’s begin with the pace and prose. This novel is well written. Laconic, ironic humour laced with some brilliant one-liners and great dialogue, Siler walks a nice line between descriptive writing and action writing. His writing style is unobtrusive and well-edited. Good writing often is; you know it’s good when you’ve finished the novel and you can’t remember when you started reading. I’m a fast reader and Siler’s fast-paced silken prose suits my style. I didn’t get caught up over awkward phrases or phony lines. It just worked.

To the plot. Well, ok, this is always going to be hard. It’s Sci-fi, you know? Therefore a reasonable suspending of disbelief is required when reading the stuff. But it’s fine here. The plot in this space opera is pretty good and mostly believable. The plot is a straight forward chronology, tightly focused on a single team of astronauts travelling to Mars on a recon and rescue mission, and the surprise they fly into. Siler’s understanding of pace and climax, plot twists, cliff-hanger chapter endings, and climactic battle scenes are all fine. The exposition is a little long in comparison with the remainder of the novel, but not tiresomely so – it’s just when you get to the end you realise how much exposition there was. From my perspective this makes the novel just a little unbalanced.

Siler sticks to what he knows about current science and this serves him well. A light touch of the absurd includes tech objects such as i-lids (I’m not explaining this, you’ll have to read the book), BLINKS (hilarious, Siler), and auto-cars, all based on readily available technology, and scarily prescient, I suspect. He also reveals a healthy skepticism about wireless networking, reminding me somewhat of the 2003 Battlestar Galactica series premise. I hear you, Luther.

Characters are well drawn, and I particularly like Gabe and Ezekiel’s cheeky x- and y-gen personas, if for no other reason than they seem authentic. Zvi is an hilariously over the top rendition of a typical stern soldier type, and intended to be a nice foil for his mad-scientist gen-y nephew Zub (Ezekiel). Siler’s writing of women is a little more problematic, given a slight gamer preference for ridiculously GOOD-looking curvy doctors, however at least they are not pneumatic in the way Huxley’s Brave New World paints women. The two women – Kathryn and Celeste, apart from their ridiculously GOOD-looking exteriors, seem like normal, sensible, clever humans who have as much air time as the other characters. Whew, that’s a relief. It’s apparent from Siler’s writing that he has been influenced by a generation of well-written modern sci-fi in which women are, well, fine, if somewhat ridiculously GOOD-looking.

Finally, it’s clear from Siler’s writing style that he is a problem solver. Much of his writing style revolves around fixing stuff, making stuff, wondering how and why stuff works the way it does. He’s a bit of a McGyver, and this is appealing, because sci-fi fans want to know how stuff might work. At the same time I’d like a couple more things from Siler. The first is: more about the living conditions aboard Johannes. I know it falls under the realm of exposition, but with all the problem solving about what’s needed for all the living, we then didn’t get to live it. The second is, dammit Siler, you finished this novel on a cliff-hanger! I need the next novel NOW!

This is a most enjoyable novel, and well worth the tiny $5.00 for an easy day’s read. If you love sci-fi space opera, crime-fic and robot-wars, you will love this novel. 4 stars. You can find the book on Kindle Australian Amazon here.

Going Facebook cold turkey – the ramifications one year on

About 18 months ago I left Facebook. It was getting in the way of my study, and, frankly, I was beginning to dislike its tentacles creeping through every aspect of my life.

Today I reflect on what it has been like living without a ubiquitous, and, some might say, compulsory social media requirement of the modern world.

For the first few weeks it was awful. I missed hearing about my friends’ events and special moments, and I missed the nonsensical cat gifs and funny stories and news about art events. I missed being part of an FB tribe that literally seemed to know EVERYTHING. It is still hard sometimes to not feel that sense of community, even though it was ephemeral at best.

But I could breathe. My life was mine again. And I lost much of that compulsive desire to SHARE. Not that I don’t like sharing. But really, do I need to show you my awesome lunch?

The sad aspects of leaving Facebook (and I left cold turkey, without any fanfare at all), is that when I have something really good to share, such as my long-sought-after Doctorhood, I can’t. Well, my DH can post about it, but I can’t. And yet, even now I’ve finished my PhD and I have no known impediments to rejoining FB (it takes a small reactivation as I’ve not deleted my account), I don’t think I’ll rejoin.

Every few weeks I read about FB having a stranglehold on our social media interactions and information – the things we share, like, want, desire. They can link to websites you’ve been and target ads to you that they think you might want – I know it’s an algorithm but get out of my cache! I’m not really interested in being a consumer like that. If I want something I’ll buy it, I know when I’m being manipulated, and I’m okay with that. But I don’t need every known website to have my address, DOB, likes, dislikes and private or personal information. Actually, I hate it.

And it’s not changing any time soon. I’ve had to sprinkle important information right across the web. Such an invasion of privacy. Why do websites – with the exception of financial institutions looking after my money – require my DOB? Any website in which this information is purely and obviously for their market research, I give them a false DOB. Often I’m 22 or 102. I have ADBLOCK plus on all my devices that support it (bless you Adblock people), and I regularly clear my cache. Distressingly, though, the email account I’ve had for 10 years is linked to an internet search engine that is clearly moving into the “you want too much information” behemoth. I love this account. I love the ease of having an online mail account I can access anywhere in the world. But I dislike the tentacles that are again creeping out at me.

Yet, here I am, exposing my thoughts to all the world, and I don’t mind this. Why? Because it’s my CHOICE. And obviously algorithms and Big Brother aren’t that clever that they can link my blog to my other social media stuff. Or maybe it’s because I don’t have other social media stuff. But I do. I have Etsy, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and an ongoing online presence. But somehow it hasn’t caught up with me yet. Or maybe it has…

I think the most distressing aspect of all this is that to FB I am only a consumer, not a commentator. For example, I would like a decent dialogue about my transgender daughter, but that will not happen with these big companies. What does it get them? Sweet FA. They are actually not interested in the social interaction possible and the way humans work with other humans. They actively diminish posts from people who rarely post, and INCREASE posts from people who post multiple times per day. Isn’t that a little bit wrong? A bit skewiff?

Anyway, if I want to know what’s happening to my friends (those who are on FB but with whom I interact outside FB) I call them. On that new-fangled device – the telephone. And that, in the end, is why I chose to leave FB. Because no matter how many FB friends I might have, the people who are most precious to me are those whose phone numbers are in my address book. If I have your phone number, you matter to me.

Goals for 2015

Thinking about how to plan the remainder of the year was brought into sharp focus recently when I was asked by my supervisor “what now?” and I had no real response. I felt like a recently beached (but enormous) goldfish. All lips, surprised expression and air-gulping. So as a result this blog post is a bit of a goal-seeking exercise. It’s also a listicle. To be divided between family and friends, home, physical health goals, personal achievements, and career. Something for me to read back on and laugh hollowly about at its complete lack of completion in 2016. These ideas and lists are not New Year’s Resolutions. They can’t be: it’s February already.

Family and friends

Stay connected to and communicate more with my immediate family, my children and my friends. Call them regularly. Have dinner parties. That sort of thing. On a side note, I am currently at home spending time with DH who is doing both the laundry and the lawn while I try to pay the bills. Bless him. I hope it makes his grumpy pants less so.

Plan weekend activities that do NOT involve going to my workplace to watch yet another undergraduate production.

Home

Plan and make happen the first renovation plans and build. This year. Oh GOD YES. SO overdue. Anyhoo, we’ve said YES to an architectural designer and his fees look completely reasonable as it’s by the hour, and we’re doing the whole lot at once to save time later down the track. Also, to have an integrated reno plan seems, well, sensible. It will mean less money for the first bit though.

Upgrade the family bathroom, replace all the old plumbing, replace the electricity and circuit board and upgrade some of the lighting and electrical points. Yes, this is to make the house safe. The previous owner was an electrician so it’s not actually too bad but there are some tricky moments. Perhaps also plan some hard landscaping to deal with the usual run off under the house whenever there’s a big rain. (*in QLD a big rain means the heavens have opened and raindrops the size of your head come rushing down like the heaviest, most violent shower you have ever had in your life. It’s actually scary to be caught IN THE RAIN. There might be other things lurking in them there clouds. Like cricket-ball sized HAILSTONES that – I kid you not – break cars. Luckily one can usually tell when there’s going to be hail because the sky turns GREEN. When the sky is purple you just hope to high heaven there’s not a cyclone as well.)

Paint the kitchen and the second coat of paint on the fence. Perhaps build us a proper wardrobe? I’m sick of cockroaches making nests in my coats.  OMG you shriek. Yes, they really seem to love living the life of Reilly in one of my old coats. It’s a bit ugh.

Physical Health goals

Lose the 10kgs I gained over 2014 (luckily not the 15 kgs I had previously lost because I didn’t quite get there yet). Again.

Get me to the gym four times a week PLUS my PT sessions. Weirdly, this is not as hard as it sounds at the moment – I’ll see how I feel in a month when my uni teaching load resumes. Down side to all this exercising is I’ve run out of exercise clothes – at least, they are all so old and skanky that I’m actually embarrassed to be wearing them now, and it’s nearly impossible to lose the old gym sock smell. Time for an update to some sexy new designer threads, maybe some Lorna Jane exxie stuff. So I can sweat in style.

Maintain a careful diet regime and perhaps buy a set of scales so I can weigh myself weekly. Get a fitbit or Apple Watch for health measurement (I can feel a birthday gift coming on!). Yes, well, I may not go the whole hog with the scales, because ouch, but I am doing well with the diet mostly. Sure, it’s only a week, but my stomach has stopped eating itself.

Reduce suspect drinking behaviours at functions. Ok, ok, stop drinking 5 glasses of champagne at every function. The worst part of this drinking thing is at my best I can drink substantial amounts of booze and it only marginally registers. Even my non-drinking DH thinks so. At an event last year we noticed a number of people getting really hammered, yet, it must be said, I kind of kept up. 2 Mojitos and about 3 glasses of Champagne and I was still basically normal, while these good folk were slurring words and stumbling. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have drunk much more than me – the function was only 3 hours long!

So, sadly, drink less. It has to be said, September through January was a real lush-fest. I drank my way through an indecent amount of Pinot Noir and Champagne (yes, the real stuff), and it has shown on my hips. Gah. I hate to think what my liver looks like. I’m hoping the FebFast thing I’m doing will make up for the other months: Medicinal-brandy March, Alcoholic April, Mojito May, Jello Shots June, Jaundiced July and Appletini August. Never mind about Sloshed September, Out-of-it October and Nobbled November. Plus I think Drinky-poos December will be a bit of a disaster.

Personal goals

Right, now these goals pertain to my need to do something now that the PhD is OVAH. And by OVAH I mean most of the box-ticking has been done bar the last little one. 2 weeks, people!

Perform more. That’s a big tick because I’m actually doing this. I sang at a gig last night although as I’d not sung for 3 months it was a laughable horrible mess. I’m happy though with my first song which was an ethereal little meditation. And I loved the dress I wore, which is the most successful dress I’ve ever bought to date. It’s an Anthea Crawford LBD, and it gives me the most amazing looking figure as it’s full of lycra and hugs just so, but also has structure and some clever ruching around the midriff. I feel a million bucks when I’m wearing it, even at my slightly heavier side of happy.

Other goals include writing a novel (complete first draft in November during NaNoWriMo) and creating a cabaret. For the first idea I’m thinking either stories about transgender communities and people, or a young adult novel with the unreliable narrator theme. And for the second idea I’ve already got some old songs written but I need to find my mojo for this. I’m not a great pianist so it takes me longer than other musicians to formulate song feel and chord patterns. However, I DO have good pianist friends to make life a bit easier. They can do the feel thing. Once again, cabaret is best done about one’s life, so I’ve a bunch of songs about transitions ready to go, and some regular funny songs (probs not that funny, because I am far too serious and lack a sense of humour about myself. It’s being the eldest in the family. The clown is usually a younger child.)

Career goals

This one’s the doozy. What do I really want to do with my life? Do I want to be a kick-arse singing teacher and have on my gravestone: she came, she saw, she taught? Or do I want to expand my repertoire of skills and develop other things?

Oh, there’s no doubt I want to develop other things!

One of those things is to develop my PhD into a book. I already have my preferred publisher in sight, and I will need to expand on my work with a few more stories about singers etc. I think my book will be good and I know how to write for a less arcane audience.

Another thing I’d like to do is apply for a Churchill Fellowship. This fellowship (apart from looking good on the CV) is a great way to foster OS networks and develop further skills in my domain. I’ve been threatening to do this for years, maybe 2015 is the year.

Then DH put me onto the Australia Arts Council website for grants and applications for Arts professionals. There are any number of development grants I could be going for including skills development; conference and workshop attendance; mentorship and other things. Very exciting and I’ll need to chat with some other folk about how to write a successful grant application to the AC. I have some great ideas I want to put into action. So this last thing is a way to develop my business further, and enable me to actually pay staff and me too. Wowsers.

So, I’m feeling rather more positive than I did four months ago after my PhD submission, when I fell apart and felt miserable and sad because I hadn’t a job to go to. There are things I can do in the meantime. Maybe a DECRA? Or a Post-Doc.

So, that’s it for now. I’b better get me to the gym for a yoga session so I don’t feel guilty about missing the HIIT session at 8.30…

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary me!

Today marks 5 years since I began this blog. Wow. This blog reflects on my life in milestones over the last 9 years.

Why 9 years? Actually, it’s 9 years 3 months. Since I met my DH (Darling Husband). So much has happened since that time!

7 years 9 months since I was proposed to. 7 years and one month since I moved to Queensland. 7 years since we married.

7 years since I met some wonderful friends in QLD, forgoing my usual diffidence to make some lovely, ongoing connections.

7 years and 1 month since I began my singing teaching and consulting business. And 7 years since I’ve successfully maintained it. 7 years since I met our accountant. Who is awesome.

6 years since I started working as a sessional lecturer.

6 years since my son began dating his current girlfriend.

It’s 5 years 9 months since I began my PhD. 22 months since I went part-time. 1 month, 5 days since I submitted it and 10 days until assessors’ reports are due back (nervous, much?).

5 years, 9 months since I made 2 dear friends (RD and LG), sharing an office and solving the world’s music and education problems together.

3 years, 3 months since DH and I bought our first home together.

3 years since I started 1-2-1 singing teaching in Musical Theatre at the Qld Con.

2 years, 6 months since Boots the Beagle was killed outside our busy road.

2 years, 2 months since I went on a health jag and lost a truck load of weight. 1 year since I started copping out and putting it all back on again!

2 years since Poppy the Groodle was born and we adopted her into our lives.

18 months since I bought my new car.

1 year 3 months since my daughter came out to me as transgender.

1 year since I left Facebook.

10 months since my daughter came to live with us.

8 months since we decided to try and improve our house.

2 months since we got the money to do something about our house.

5 years of writing my thoughts in this blog. 19402 views, 192 comments, 122 followers. I curate my thoughts, you know. There’s plenty I don’t tell you, can’t tell and won’t ever tell you. But to my followers and friends who read this, thank you for your lovely words and gentle encouragement over the years as I wrangled my way through my PhD and many life issues throwing up the usual bum steers. You’ve been a wonderful audience.

 

Should I rejoin Facebook?

I’m done with the PhD. I’ve nearly finished teaching. Should I rejoin Facebook or is it all a waste of time, and potentially a bit Big Brother-y?

I’m not sure I really want to go back to that life. I’m doing okay without it. But I have slightly addictive tendencies with the thing should I choose to return.

Hmm. Thoughts welcomed.