Stars

49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n

I love astrology. I check my horoscope most days, and don’t doubt that I’ll die at an old age in a foreign country just like my eighth house placement suggests. Go on, judge me – I would.

I became fixated on stars and planetary alignments in the second year of my undergraduate degree when I discovered some cassette tapes in an old Indian dowry box at my parents house. They were recordings of birth chart interpretations for my brother and I. Delighted by the discovery I jumped into my mum’s Subaru station wagon which was old enough to still have a tape player, and proceeded to listen to the forecast of my life on repeat.

The astrologer’s foresight was remarkable. I was a tiny newborn when she read my chart, yet to grow into a fully-formed human being, but it was undeniably accurate. This woman who didn’t, and still doesn’t know me, pointed out things about me that I didn’t know how to put into words until I heard hers.

I’ve included a few extracts below.

  • aspires to both material and moral order 
  • her father is not seen as an unquestionable authority but as a character with whom she has discussions, and at times disputes
  • sympathy for abstract problems and an ability to reason the absurd
  • cultivates traditions and has a profound respect for the status quo 
  • her femininity manifests in a way that is quite perfectionistic with a certain snobbishness 
  • inclined to illness from dissatisfaction
  • every now and again she could have a certain timidity in expressing her own ideas, truly because like a good Virgo, she undervalues them
  • stubbornness is linked to her elasticity of justice

Even these few excerpts unmistakably define me. They reflect my career in the legal profession, the bouts of melancholy I’ve suffered time and again, my friendship with my father, the unhealthy perfectionism my mother tried to stamp out of me, and the arrogance she inadvertently reinforced. It taps into my appreciation for, and deep desire to maintain tradition and culture. I could even argue that it makes reference to a performance review I had at work a few months ago, where the only criticism my boss had was that I “undersell” myself.

I always receive mixed reactions when I tell people how much I rely on the sun, the planets, and the stars. Maybe because my friends are a mixed bag too. I think I can narrow the usual reactions down to three:

a) unruffled / star lover / asks what my rising sign is; OR

b) charmed / in a sceptical kind of way / typically wants an immediate personality interpretation based on their sun sign (which actually doesn’t tell you very much about a person at all); OR

c) smirk / tells me there’s absolutely and positively no science involved / that it doesn’t make sense for an educated woman to buy into such crap.

What I’ve really come to love about reading birth charts is that it helps me to get a better sense of a person, to understand why they weren’t friendly or why they were way too friendly. Why they come to work one hour early every day and leave two hours after the office closes (ahem, Capricorn sun). Why that person you just met told you something incredibly personal and why you felt annoyed and uncomfortable and quickly started scoping out the best escape route. Why your friend continually dates the same kind of dreary musicians. Why your brother can’t stop talking and walking in circles as he describes his latest conspiracy theory.

I don’t care how scientific it is, it doesn’t lessen my fascination.

49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n49151026_1149197301914644_6858531862214606848_n

Your housemate is driving you bloody insane – survival advice

I work part-time in environmental law, and consequently spend a considerable amount of time drafting up client advices. This one’s an advice to myself, drafted up for fun, and based on the trials and tribulations of living with my beloved friend G, or as she’d like to be referred to from now on in this blog space, ‘Gertie’. This one’s for you Gertie! 

IMG_2495

 

Hunting & Hunting Co.

 

Dear Client,

Your housemate is driving you bloody insane – survival advice

You have instructed us to advise you in relation to your housemate who is causing you grief (giving you the shits). In particular, you are concerned about the following:

  1. your housemate’s boyfriend; and
  2. problems arising from your introversion and your housemate’s extraversion.

In your own words, you want to ‘restore the household Zen’. However, in doing so, you wish to avoid an ugly dissolution in friendship between the respective parties, in addition to any follow-on effects such as turning to tequila or hard drugs. However you admit that the latter is also a likely effect if no confrontation occurs, therefore the risk is equally high.

Summary

We understand your housemate has developed, or perhaps has always had, certain personality traits that do not mesh with your own. Your housemate first began giving you the shits about 2 months ago, the behaviour in question includes:

  • significantly heightened OCD tendencies, i.e. constantly removing your personal belongings from the common living area and putting them away (a half-read book for example), she calls this household cleansing;
  • watching Netflix at full volume whilst cooking, cleaning, cleansing, or doing pretty much anything (oftentimes, you suffer mercilessly through hours and hours of RuPaul’s Drag Race);
  • general bossiness; and
  • a certain level of confusion which manifests as treating you as a spouse rather than a housemate (you admit your wife skills are impressive but aren’t sure how the confusion has reached this level, potentially ‘too many jokes about becoming de facto lesbians’).

Additionally, you can no longer abide your housemate’s boyfriend (‘a really big dickhead’), and have difficulty establishing boundaries in respect of her pet rabbit. You’re not vibing full-time co-parenthood despite feeling a lot of love for the furry little chook – when he pissed on the couch for the fifth time yesterday, it was 5 times too many.

Moreover, when you found a dead rat in the garden the other day, your housemate wouldn’t stand next to you for emotional support while you removed it. We understand that this was a hard blow.

While your particular problem is undeniably a tough nut of epic proportions, we think there is a good likelihood that it can be resolved by employing certain techniques that will assist you in re-establishing a healthy household dynamic.

Recommendations

Tolerance

During our phone call you also expressed concerns about your own levels of tolerance. Perhaps you should work on this. (Kinda sounds like you should.)

Healthy confrontation

Our first port-of-call would be to recommend that you sit down with your housemate and have a discussion. Talk. But before you do this sit down by yourself and remember why she’s your housemate in the first place, and why you love her so much.

Just think:

  • she brings your laundry in from the clothes line folded into neat little squares, despite you insisting she stop;
  • she never forgets anyone’s birthday, and insists on making a big deal of yours just like a proud mum;
  • she also schedules free days around your birthday in her diary months before the actual event, ‘who does that??’;
  • the two of you actually have fun cleaning the house because you dance around like dorks and blast dreadful pop music throughout the whole neighbourhood (‘big apology to the home for the elderly across the road’);
  • she shares everything with you and you share everything with her (‘except for toothbrushes and undies because you’re not savages’);
  • she talks to you in awful accents, you didn’t even know accents could be that bad (actually you’re not sure if this is a pro or a con);
  • she read all of your blog posts in one enthusiastic sitting, and was highly offended when she realised she’d only been featured in 1 of a total 6;
  • she’s always available to have fun and is generally way cooler than you;
  • the house is always tidy when she’s there, with a certain OCD flair, but it’s still nice to come home to perfect order and a clean toothbrush holder;
  • she makes you socialise and talk and talk and talk, and this is good for you (sometimes) because you’re a bit too much of a loner;
  • she’s better at being an adult than you are despite you being the eldest by 8 years, i.e. she pays the rent on time every fortnight;
  • she knocks on your bedroom door ready to give you a hug when she thinks you’re crying, even though in reality you’re just laughing so hard you’re wheezing with tears rolling down your face (courtesy of the The Graham Norton Show);
  • she gives you all kinds of unsolicited relationship advice, which is rarely annoying and always hilarious;
  • she’s brave, fucking brave (aside from that one time involving the aforementioned rat);
  • she sends you hung-over selfies passed out in someone else’s bed the morning after a big night so that you know she’s ok, and you consider this very thoughtful;
  • she is kind of like your little sister in that she can be really annoying, but takes zero offence when you tell her to go away, in fact she kind of just ignores you and continues to loudly do whatever she’s doing – there’s a certain level of charm in that;
  • when you’re feeling nervous about work stresses she writes you prophecies and leaves them on the ironing board so that you see them in the morning when you inevitably drag yourself out of bed to iron some pants; and
  • even though she really can’t cook, it’s ok because you can, and she can assemble salads and mix rather elegantly garnished cocktails.

Actually maybe you should sincerely consider getting over yourself and enjoy the last few months (before your lease ends) that you get to spend co-habiting with this cool cat.

In sum, you have expressed concern about your housemate giving you the shits. We sincerely sympathise with the matter of the ‘really big dickhead’ boyfriend, but must advise you that the only means of conquering this one is to ride it out. In respect of your other concerns, and after considering the limited (non-existent) proof you have provided us with, we consider your complaint somewhat unsound, and recommend that you:

  1. stop taking yourself so seriously;
  2. consider the tequila (friendly, not legal advice); and finally
  3. be honest (your housemate sounds like a weirdly logical kid and will probably get it).

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Camelia Hunting

Principal Advisor

Hunting & Hunting Co.

New bloom

My goddaughter is being born today. I don’t know if it’s already happened or if it’s still happening. M isn’t very good at checking her phone, and I have to keep reminding myself of this fact. She probably forgot to take it with her to the hospital. I started receiving updates from 3:00am onwards, a couple of hours after the labour started. But I’ve heard nothing since 7:23am, and now it’s past 1:00pm.

Surely her baby girl has glided into the world by now? I’m impatiently waiting for O to let me know but he’s as equally hopeless with a phone as M.

I’m in the creative studio that I share with 3 others. We all come here to work on what we love, but most of us have other jobs that pay our bills. I’m trying to catch the zen feeling I usually feel when I come here, but it’s tricky today. My legs are restless and I can’t stop picking my cuticles.

I’m trying to think about good things, to stop my mind from wandering to everything that could go wrong. Why have I been watching so many episodes of Call the Midwife?? The baby is three days past the date of her expected arrival, and for the last couple of weeks has been poking her limbs in five different directions all at once, pulling M’s belly this way and that, testing the limits. M’s been captivated by it, and curiously enough, fascinated by the idea of her empty belly collapsing after the birth.

Let me tell you about M. She’s witty, goofy, beautiful, clever, gentle, kind, artistic, a visual poet. She’s my best friend and the only one who could be, she’s my soul sister. She sounds like a ten year old boy, and if something’s funny she laughs like one too. She’s a kitchen goddess, a natural study in any subject, and of most people too. She doesn’t stress, but she does fret when something goes wrong. She really likes to eat, and like Frodo Baggins, regularly takes second breakfast. When she’s thinking she pouts which makes her look like a sad and skinny fashion girl which she’s not. When she smiles her face breaks into wondrous goofy sunbeams. She’s a dog lover, and the lucky owner of a snaggle-toothed and boundary-forsaking Boston terrier who she and O call Mr Lee. She’s been the calmest, happiest pregnant woman I’ve ever seen, one of the ones who actually glows. She was a bit of a wild child when we were growing up, reckless, you wouldn’t recognise her now. M today is self-assured, she knows who she is. She’s an astrological sceptic, but she indulges me anyway. She knows that this baby girl is destined to be an exacting Virgo, and that she’s coming into the year of the brave and lovable dog.

I can’t wait to meet her.

(The good news came while I was writing this down.)

IMG_2552

Some of the many flower drawings M and I made for her baby girl’s bedroom.

 

Sans helmet

When my parents divorced a couple of years ago they were both broken human beings who’d had the life sucked out of them. We, a close-knit family, were suddenly unravelled. Un-knitted. My mum held on to all the beautiful things in her life fiercely, she didn’t want anything to change. My dad ran away, he went to Indonesia to fix himself up and surf endless waves. My brother and I, the classic collateral damage, were feeling the after effects of a tidal wave of epic proportions.

My brother was angry and I was relieved, glad. I feel guilty saying it but it’s the honest truth. I felt like a long-lasting bad energy that had been eating my family inside-out had finally been released, and everything was broken and the only way was up. Actually, I had a lot of good feelings about the future.

I went and visited my dad a few months after he left and he was a new person, still fragile and lost but with a huge grin on his sun-crinkled brown face. We stayed in expensive bungalows because my dad was proud of me for graduating from a law degree, one that I assured him only 6 months earlier I would never finish. But I did finish it, I’m glad to say I out-determined myself.

My aunt would join us from Milan in a few days, and because dad and his sister grew up hideously spoilt they’re really good at holidays. They like to do all the things I like to do. Sleep until late, drink endless espressos, read books, sizzle in the sun, eat ice cream, frequent all the best restaurants, listen to live music in groovy little bars, and generally explore new places at a lazy indulgent pace.

I did this for the 10 days I was there and it was wonderful. Dad and I rode around on a Bali Scoopy bike that he’d hired and I took immense pleasure in not wearing the helmet. It felt amazing to have the wind flying through my hair as the tropical incensed air hit me in the face, even as we were zipping in and out of some seriously precarious traffic situations.

In a place like Bali you just have to let go and trust in the universe, everyone does it and it feels amazing, it’s a feeling I almost never get at home. Australia is vast and beautiful but it’s regulated as hell, you can’t unpick a wedgie without it ending up on someone’s CCTV footage. It feels safe, but sometimes it feels dead too, life-sucking. It’s a different kind of infringement on your privacy.

Screen Shot 2018-08-04 at 1.12.27 pm

I’ve been wondering about how to get that riding-through-traffic-without-a-helmet-feeling in everyday life and in my everyday over-policed country. How do you seek it out and feel it all the time without being a complete moron. I asked my friend R who rides a motorbike what he thought about wearing a helmet. R said you just need to decide whether or not you want a rock to the face.

That didn’t sound great to me. I said so it’s basically the condom of the motorbike world: wear one or die. Exactly, he said, no one wants to wear one but no one wants their dick to drop off either. My friend R doesn’t get into the philosophy of a question, that’s probably what I like about him. But frank logical reasoning wasn’t helping me with my investigation.

The question occupied my mind for a few days and then while I was dancing like a freak alone in my house one day, I realised that life without a helmet was really just a matter of doing those things that make you feel bloody good as often as possible. And further to that, doing those things fearlessly.

No need to be a complete idiot, just pursue the good. Do one of those things that makes you feel like magic as often as possible. A recommended prescription would be once a day: one I intend to follow.

Some of the things that make me feel like I’m riding helmetless:

  • Dancing like a freak to music that makes me feel like sparkling water
  • Lying in the sun and feeling the warmth buzzing deliciously on my skin
  • Diving into the Indian Ocean in summer and feeling the current and the waves pull me in 10 salty directions all at once
  • Laughing those belly-aching face-deforming laughs with soul friends
  • Spending endless hours drawing pictures of fresh flowers and sipping black coffee
  • Loving and being loved
  • Making love
  • Travelling in summer and feeling the magic of all the people around me doing exactly what they want to do too
  • How the earth smells when it rains
  • Making people I love laugh
  • Getting wrapped up in the complete innocence and fun of playing with children and dogs, at the same time preferably
  • Cooking for friends and family, with fresh seasonal ingredients, and drinking good wine (less sulphites = less headaches)
  • Being completely captivated by nature, surrounded by tall trees and cut off from civilisation. No reception, no phone calls: getting the hell out of town
  • Reading a book that makes me laugh out loud and then cry when it’s finished because I feel like I’ve lost a best friend
  • Writing writing writing it all down.

 

Looking for reasons

It’s a strange feeling when you realise you don’t care anymore. You don’t care about something or someone that you used to care so much about. It’s strange because you expect to feel things connected to that old caring: nervousness, excitement, guilt, confusion. But as I list those down they don’t sound like the feelings you’d have if you really wanted something, if you were doing the right thing for you. Maybe those things are things you never wanted in the first place anyway. That relationship, that job, that lifestyle. Maybe it’s as simple as realising that. That you’re on the wrong path. Maybe you should just do the things that feel good, and focus on doing those things again and again until you find yourself in a different place that makes more sense. Just do the things that feel good.

What sucks is that doing those things doesn’t completely stop the echo of past opportunities from haunting you, from reminding you that you’ve taken a different path, and you can fail, you might not find what you’re after. You might have been better just sticking with what you had, you were lucky, you should be grateful for what you had.

But what’s the point of being alive if you’re not changing, if your landscapes aren’t transient and exciting. If you’re not pushing yourself towards something you actually want. Something amazing, something that gives you butterflies when you let yourself even think about it being a success.

I’ve been trying to decide whether to interview for a job that pays well. That’s the best thing I can say about it, it pays well. I sometimes wish I could be motivated by money alone, but the fact is it bothers me terribly to think of going to work 5 days a week for nothing more than a pay cheque. To spend that much time indoors under fluorescent lighting.  To do that for something that makes me feel nothing.

I’ve been looking for reasons to not do it. Hoping to identify an obvious flaw in my personality that would preclude me from taking this part. Corporate people are competitive, you’re not competitive.. you don’t play any sports. But these are just excuses, excuses to waiver in this field of indecision with the hope that someone or something else will make the choice for me.

I still haven’t made a choice, and I wish I had. Sometimes things aren’t black and white no matter how hard you try to write them into being that way. And sometimes you have to view opportunities that aren’t quite what you’re after as stepping stones rather than end zones that you’re stuck in for all eternity. Sometimes you need to  just let things happen, and trust yourself. Trust that in any situation that you find yourself, you will have the courage and grace to make the right choice.

IMG_2607

Alfie

I love being up before anyone else is up in the house. You can hear the birds chirping, smell the fresh morning air and make a coffee without anyone’s boyfriend trying to make small talk to you in the kitchen. It’s so damn peaceful. Except now there’s Alfie.

Alfie’s always up before me. And today he’s causing mischief because there are no leafy parts of his pak choy left and we’ve resorted to feeding him the stems. Alfie’s not for stems. He’s gone into rebellion in the laundry. I can hear him knocking over his skittles one by one. Rabbits like to do that because destruction is one of their favourite activities. At least that’s what my friend and housemate G read on a website about How to Rear Your Rabbit.

This instinct for destruction doesn’t surprise me. After all, rabbits have been causing havoc in the native Australian landscape ever since they were brought over by European settlers. It was my main qualm with getting a pet rabbit.

They’re a pest.

G looked at me seriously,

Those are wild rabbits, this will be a domesticated rabbit.

She was always serious when she talked about the rabbit, she knew that I wouldn’t be won over by the fact that it was cute.

28081368_10155325802821794_996144396_o.jpg

Side note (after note?): I was won over by the fact that he was cute.

Weather related thoughts

IMG_0100

The wind is cold and balmy and brings with it a dreadful sense of unease. The rain comes down in curious intervals like someone is throwing huge bucketfuls of water out of God’s window. The wind picks up intermittently between the bucketloads and howls through small openings around the house’s doors and windows. It’s the kind of weather that makes you feel still. So still, like you can’t move. As though there’s no reason to ever move again. But inside you’re just as restless just as crazed as nature’s production in the garden. You’re trapped inside a snow globe with no way out, no way to reach the real world. It’s a terrible loneliness.

Somewhere inside yourself you know there are reasons to be happy. To be joyful. But you can’t manage to conjure them up. You know they’ll come later and you’ll feel silly for wasting a day with such melancholy. But when it comes, it’s impossible to deny. It traps you and you accept. You accept that you have to follow it until the end. And if you’re lucky the end might only be a few hours away.

Perhaps this is a fact of being human. Some emotions or lack of them, must be felt, must be experienced. Some of them you need to revel in. You need to roll in them and breathe them in and try your hardest to never forget them. Like a perfect summer’s day at the beach with friends nearby and sunshine and good food and salty skin and laughter. Those one’s you have to dive into and hold on to for as long as you can. But when they are sadder and heavier it’s better to just let them roll over you like waves. Pretend you’ve been dumped by an enormous wave. You know the sunshine is up there. You just have to wait until the ocean is done with you, you have to live it.