Poor Stevie

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a little road barely on the map

Joe Hockey, the husband of a very successful businesswoman, used his position as Australia’s treasurer to say some things about housing affordability. It wouldn’t be a problem if people just went out and got well-paid jobs, he said. Cool story, Joe.

A lot of people responded to Hockey with varying views, including that people my age should just shift their attitudes and be totally fine with making sacrifices and renting for life.

Well, up your ziggy with a wawa brush. This argument inspired me to write a list of reasons I want to have a home of our own.

A list of reasons I want to have a home of our own:

1. Property managers suck. I can’t stand that a very important part of my life is controlled by barely literate, mouth-breathing rich kids. After moving out of our last place, our real estate agent called us to say we couldn’t have the bond back unless we cleaned the shower again.

When I went into the bathroom – ashamed, and expecting to see mould quivering on the tiles – I found streaks on the glass door. Streaks of cleaning product. Streaks which were evidence the shower had just been cleaned. When she finally agreed to give us the bond back, she filled out the forms incorrectly, meaning we waited about six weeks to get $2000 back. I work part-time, we have a child, we live in Sydney – $2000 is nothing to be sneezed at.

The time before that, we spent about a week arguing with the property manager about whether we should have to pay someone to steam clean the carpet when we moved out, as the lease said. We won that round by sending her the section of the Residential Tenancies Act that says it is illegal to include that on a lease. A couple of houses before that, we spent the entire time battling with the property manager, who insisted we were drastically behind on rent, even though our bank statements showed otherwise.

2. Rental properties suck. We moved into our last place knowing that it was cheap because it was a bit of a dump. I would never do that again. We paid $500 a week to live in a house with holes in the walls, threadbare synthetic carpet, mould on the roof, dodgy plumbing, and a severe slug and cockroach problem (see: holes in the walls). I would never buy a house like that, but if I did, at least I could knock it down and rebuild it, or at very least patch up the holes and commit insect genocide. I want to decide how I live – if I want my house to be an ‘under the sea’ theme, I’ll paint some glittery dolphins on the wall. If J-man wants to re-jig the plumbing system for a home brewery, then he’s free to get a monkey wrench and bang on some pipes. If I want to keep 30 great danes in the backyard, then woof woof woof wooooooof.

3. Moving sucks. We have lived in Sydney for less than a decade and we have lived in five places. We know all too well that moving is always stressful, messy, and soul-destroying. I have lived long enough under the threat that our landlord might sell, or move back in, or move a relative in, for way too long now. The next place we move into will be our own.

4. We have a child. CC is not even two and she is onto her third place in Sydney. She doesn’t know the difference, but I do. I don’t want to drag her around from granny flat, to house, to townhouse for much longer. When she starts school, I want to live nearby so she has stability and friendships with kids in the neighbourhood. I want to be a part of a community. I want to know other parents, and hang out and make friends. I want to have their kids play in our backyard, mostly so I have people to get me another XXXX Gold from the fridge.

5. We are willing to make sacrifices, jerks! Lots of the responses to Joe Hockey’s comments said that every generation has had to make sacrifices when it comes to owning a house. A woman told the ABC that in the 1940s, she had to sign a contract saying she wouldn’t have children if she moved into a particular house. Another man said he and his family bought a shit house in the ‘burbs, and commuted for a few years, before they renovated and sold up. People of my generation are making sacrifices too, like paying unfair rents to live in Sydney, moving interstate, and living with their parents for longer than they naturally should. And we are too – we are prepared to commute, to move cities, to live somewhere less desirable for a while – all at a cost to our careers, our childcare, and our connection to extended family. Just give us the flippin’ keys.

breaking out

First, let me say this: J-man is the kindest, most loving, supportive, considerate and wonderful husband. He comforts me every single Sunday night when I am sad the weekend is over. He tells me he loves me everyday. He reassures me that I do not have a moustache. He compliments my outfit every morning. He pretends to be interested in Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. He tries weird vegetables to support my new-found vegetarian-ish diet. At the top of the escalator at Wynyard, he decides he will go back down to buy me a rose from a sad-looking guy who is not making any sales late one night.


 

Now let me say this: J-man gave me a rash last week. An angry, mysterious rash.

This thing was brutal, it was all over my body and spreading faster than a Hustler centrefold.

I put it down to a weird reaction to suncream, because there was nothing else I had lathered all over my body. Then I started to suspect foul play from J-man, thinking maybe he was secretly using some sort of man lotion called “God of Flame and Fires” and was too ashamed to tell me. I took an antihistamine and figured that was the end of the story.

The next day it flared up again and and people around me were looking concerned, urging me to go to the doctor. Pfft I’m no wuss, I thought. Cut to about ten hours later when I snapped awake at midnight, itching all over and experiencing pain in my neck. That’s it. It’s meningitis and I am going to die. I woke J-man, tearfully told him of my fate and he took me to the bathroom where he bludgeoned me to death with the toilet brush ran a cool towel over my skin.

The next morning there was no evidence that I had died in my sleep, so I got on with living.

Then yesterday we decided to go to the beach, but hadn’t yet replaced the giant tub of suncream that had apparently offended my body so much. I threw caution and my good looks to the wind and rubbed it on. Nothing. Totally fine. No bumps, itches or calling of caterers to make bean nachos at my wake.

When I picked up my beach bag and looked inside, it suddenly dawned on me. The week before J-man had picked a little bottle out of the pantry to fill with suncream, so we didn’t have to lug the entire tub to the beach.

That little bottle in my bag had until recently contained hops – those pungent, stinky, highly-perfumed, gag-worthy, wheaty things you make beer with.

“Oh,” J-man said. “That’s it. It would’ve been like you were rolling around in grass for hours.”

Should I start the slow clap or will you?

 

there inside the garden

These past couple of months I’ve had to get used to living with a little less money than usual. So while there’s been plenty of tears, tantrums and one-ply toilet paper, there’s also been time to discover new things. Like on Friday the J-man and I went and wandered in Wendy Whiteley’s garden.

Sometimes crossing the harbour bridge with thousands of others each day against a backdrop of smog and concrete, it’s easy to lose hope of ever seeing something green again. I think we’re really lucky as Sydneysiders to have some amazing, historic gardens and parks to make out in. Some of my happiest times in Sydney have been hanging out and eating cheese with my buddies in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Recently the J and I visited Government House (it’s free!) and those gardens were like something out of Pride and Prejudice or Marie Antoinette or Better Homes and Gardens with Joanna Griggs. Of course, if you stay too long a certain jealous rage bubbles up and you have to stop yourself from starting a biffo with the sweet, delightful governor.

So, take my eternally clammy hand and let’s wander in Wendy’s garden together…

(Please forgive me. I am not a photographer. If there’s a powerline, I’ll capture it. If there’s bad lighting, I’m there in the shadows wondering why my pictures aren’t showing up. If I can put my finger somewhere on the lens, I will.)

See what I’m sayin’?

This is what I loved a lot about WW’s garden. There are all these beautiful blooms against a backdrop of CityRail.

I thought this looked very secret garden. You can almost hear that poor little boy’s screams just looking at this picture.

There were lots of these cute hand-written signs everywhere.

That’s kind of close to Sydney Theatre Company right? I can see Joel Edgerton’s pecs from here. Siiigh.

Here’s a different Joel standing sheepishly under a cumquat tree.

Here’s me. Why do I insist on doing my hair that way?  I look like I’ve escaped from the compound.

Gah! A dinosaur!

Christmas in my family has always been super-duper special. The putting up of the tree is the beginning. Then there is the making of the rum balls, the creation of the christmas menu, the making of the big christmas morning breakfast, the hours of shopping, the stressing over what to get for dad, the wrapping of presents, the putting of the presents under the tree, the dragging of Mary out of the bed, the eating, the carolling and the ear bursting squealing.

It was my beloved moo-ma who passed on her christmas joy to of us. As little kids she used to write us long, detailed Santa letters in metallic pen and sometimes she would hang them from trees for us to find. We used to do all the fun stuff like leave carrots out for the reindeer and beer out for Santa. We’d wake up far too early on Christmas morning to find our Santa sacks filled to the brim. And that excitement has never really left me.

So this year, as my first Christmas in stinky old Sydney, I had to make it just as special. Joel is not really a huge Christmas person so I also wanted to show him what decking the halls is all about.

We went to Target to buy a tree, which these days cost around $150 which is craaazzzzeeeeeee. So we decided to buy some Christmas decorations, hunt down some sticks and decorate those instead.

Here is the result:

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Check it out – real candy canes!!

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Merry December 2nd everyone!