Poor Stevie

sonnet

I am not living my dream.

I’m in a weird slump, and have been all year, where just about every day goes exactly like this: wake, frown, brush, sit, talk, bus, cook, cuddle, fart, sleep. Repeat. It’s just so sad, all that sleeping and eating and cuddling.

So I’ve been looking around to find people who are living their dreams. But the people I encounter tend to be taxi drivers (who have signs in their cars telling people not to spew or screw in their general vicinity), the guy who does overnight security at my building (he does overnight security at my building), the vending machine (is a machine) and a bus driver (who has to wear a fluro vest on a daily basis).

And then, as usual, I realised the answer was staring me in the face. And sometimes cooking me dinner. And spooning me late at night.

J-man is a dude who is living his dream, day in, day out. “It’s raining Joel,” he always says.

Observe.

He liked rap, so he joined a rap group:

He wanted some shelves in the shed, so he built some shelves in the shed:

He liked beer, so he learnt to make beer:

He was interested in running a beer festival, so worked his little nuts off and ran a beer festival:

He wanted to spend his 30th birthday in three time zones and finish it at Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn, so he spent his 30th birthday in three time zones and finished it at Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn:

He likes to chat, so he chats. A lot. With everyone:

He wanted scones, so he ate some scones:

He has a spirit animal:

It’s time to start making it rain Steve. Hallelujah.

to have and to hold

On Sunday morning as I was lying in bed, admiring the sunlight through the trees and trying to decide whether to have toast with peanut butter or fruit loaf with lemon curd, I heard an enormous gasp. I looked over to see J-man coming out of the bathroom rigid with pain and the colour draining from his skin. The twisted expression on his face was one I recognised – the bastard had just put his back out and completely ruined our Sunday. He’d done the same thing at Christmas and had a lot of fun on Valium.

J-man and I have an ongoing cold war over his illnesses. He accuses me of not caring enough, and I accuse him of succumbing too easily. I’ll concede: there was one time in a hostel in Dresden, Germany, when he had the beginnings of a tummy bug and I got shamefully huffy. But I paid for that by having nearly three straight weeks of gunk gushing from my trunk every few hours in the villages of eastern Europe (where the toilets are holes in the ground, the flush is a hose and the doors swing outwards).

This time it was totally impossible not to really feel for him when he was curled up in unspeakable pain on the floor, ghost white, gasping for breath and generally looking like we should have signed up for the $2.50-a-day funeral plan spruiked by Ian ‘Turps’ Turpie (may he rest).

But there are still some really insensitive mistakes I made in his care. Let this be a lesson for others who love someone with a slipped disk.

–  Do not watch them struggle. I felt a little hopeless and had no idea what I should be doing. So I just stared at him a lot. J-man had to tell me repeatedly to leave him the (beep) alone while he was trying to get his movement back via highly unflattering positions, often involving some level of butt-in-the-airness.

– Do not leave them shivering on the floor. J-man had just gotten out of the shower and only had boxers on, but I failed to notice frostbite setting in.

– Do not lecture about painkiller dosages. Just because you can read the packet out loud, doesn’t mean you should. Quit being a stickler for the rules, Steeeeve.

– Do not make a comforting baked bean jaffle with an entire can of baked beans. It turns out the bread goes really soggy, the bready-saucy package explodes, the jaffle-maker smokes and the patient is left wishing he had married his high school girlfriend.

–  Do not forget the injury and whip them with a tea towel as punishment for a joke at your expense, no matter how crude. Or its back to square one for you.

four walls

Recently recounting getting our nephew to sleep while he stayed over.

Me: I don’t mind cuddling him during the tantrums. Because crying actually makes you really exhausted. You know, like when you cry yourself to sleep?

Him: I’ve never done that.

Me … Me neither.

elephant

Reasons you could mistake me for a huge conservative:

– The first time I could vote, at a local council election, I voted for Family First because I thought their name sounded sweet.

– I can recite the lord’s prayer, both Anglican and Catholic versions.

– I have two royal wedding cups and a Buckingham Palace tea caddy.

– I met my first real boyfriend when I was 17. I married him when I was 24.

– Babies, please ASAP.

– Last night J-man came home at 4am, exactly eight hours after I returned from having tea and scones and a Bento Box and peach tea with my friend Liam. We also shopped for bananas and washing up liquid.

gloria

When you are preparing to celebrate being in a relationship for eight years, you want to find the perfect outfit – something pretty, glamorous and saucy.

So you can imagine my delight when, in the weeks leading up to our octo-versary on the weekend, I found a handmade bright pink, neck-to-ankle 1970s bridesmaid’s dress/Rapunzel costume with a ruffle across the chest.

Ticks all the aforementioned boxes, I reckon:

I did consider leaving it long to cover my shame, but I thought I looked a bit too much like Princess Peach. So I got out my measuring tape and scissors and lopped about 30cm off the bottom.

As a side note, this is why I so desperately love op-shopping and eBaying:

I wonder who Gloria was and why she wanted to hide her stems under a bushell.

Anyhoot, I think it turned out quite well. It helped me convince the security guard at Star Casino I was of age and had quite an effect on the footpath poles in Newtown:

Because I have too many feelings I was dismayed at the leftover material, imagining Gloria had probably bought it with the money she saved from her job at the milk bar where she fell in love with George Bailey.

Shiny pink material? Meet a boring maroon dress I wore twice before realising it was far too short. The result? My new favourite outfit!

 

 

girl guides

One of the best parts of my recent holiday was catching up briefly with my childhood friend, Amelia.

She lives and works in our hometown and is a beautiful artist. Her blog, filled with design, photography and DIY ideas, shows she is super creative and cool. I bought one of her finely detailed prints of four fish and have hung it above our dining table.

In late primary school Mel and I spent our weekends and afternoons riding around our town on our bikes. We’d ride past the houses where boys we liked lived, to parks and to corner stores to spend our pocket money on Gobstoppers and Warheads. We would leave our houses in the morning and not come back until sunset.

In between rides we’d play rounds of Blindman’s Bluff, Murder in the Dark and a very early version of Grand Theft Auto. We’d make prank calls from a local phone box, record home movies and eat a lot of lettuce, cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches.

I was reading waaaay too much Judy Blume towards the end of that time and it made me a little bit crazy.

I fearlessly led all my (reluctant) friends on a mission to find out what smoking a cigarette was like. Being 11 I never got my hands on the real thing, instead showing everyone how cool I was by “smoking” grapevine sticks taken from my backyard. I thought there was nothing more awesome than talking about our girl secrets, even creating an elaborate note passing system using strings rigged up around rooms at sleepovers so our parents couldn’t eavesdrop. I remember proudly showing everyone the results of my covert leg shaving in year 5.

It’s really nice to have something in my home to remind me of my truly wonderful childhood. I just hope Mel’s forgiven me for being totally weird.

archaeology

I don’t have any grey hairs, an unexpected beard or a cat named Boots, but I have definitely become an old woman.

A series of first world problems broke into my life in May and swiped motivation, creativity and contentment right off my mantelpiece (sitting next to my Year 10 writing award and J-man’s homemade Most Improved Player NBA trophy) and replaced them with tears and Cheezels. I’m keeping the dang Cheezels.

I am coming out of the funk now, but this has been my life for the last three months:

I sent this photo of our new lampshade to J-man. He didn’t reply because he was at Splendour in the Grass with his shirt off. He told me later that it would kill his “rock ‘n’ roll” if he replied to a message about home furnishings while he was partying.

On Thursday J-man had free tickets to a gig, where free booze and free sandwiches were on offer. Free. Sandwiches. I stayed home to do the housework. Afterwards I rewarded myself with an old fashioned stout and dressing gown session. This is my favourite beer. Our bottle shop doesn’t even display it in the fridge.

This has been my Saturday night view. That blanket was 50 per cent off at the Red Cross shop’s closing sale.

I’ve been making boob jokes with Jam Drop cookies.

My flapjack’s name is Amelia.

On our way to the ferry a few weekends ago, I excitedly snapped this old folk’s home. With its pansies and pink walls, this is where I want to spend my final days. J-man asked: “Do you think they would let us share a room?” Sounds perfect.

 

whoopie

Sometimes I have baking successes. This is a chocolate whoopie pie with peanut butter filling. It is a fist full of fluffy, delicious heart attack.

A scientific survey of three people suggests these whoopie pies cause excess happiness, followed by excess napping.

Sound good? I used this recipe from Taste

My recipe for peanut butter icing is:

30g of butter

3/4 cup of smooth peanut butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1 cup of icing sugar

Mix it, sister!

half baked

This afternoon I made tomato chilli jam.

It made me think about the sunny one bedroom apartment J-man and I lived in when we first moved to Sydney. It was on a busy road in Cammeray, across from an RSL and a modern apartment block called Modus. We would say ‘Modus’ in a robot voice.

Looking back, it’s funny to think how young we really were. I broke down over a plate of hash browns soon after moving in. J-man accidentally scraped a work car along the side of our garage, taking off some of the wood frame. We had a washing machine so old and awful we had to load buckets of water into it. Our borrowed couch was yellow and quickly faded and attracted weird oily stains. I wore terrible clothes to work and, so green and nervous, was sure I was going to get fired everyday.

It was also where we grew up. J-man decided to quit his desk job and start his own business in music management. I became tougher and made far fewer phone calls home. We became good cooks and Sydney adventurers. We came home to it excited and changed after J-man proposed. On the deck one morning we set a date to go overseas for six months and I rushed inside and called my boss’s secretary to make an appointment to quit my job.

On the weekends we would have breakfast at a cafe in the middle of a strip of shops a few blocks away. It was so cheap and served an amazing sweet and slightly chilli tomato sauce with bacon and eggs. It was the perfect start to a Saturday and a lovely, delicious routine.

One day we walked up the road to find the cafe had closed, with a sign on the door saying “Sorry. We won the lottery”.

Postscript: I accidentally left the stove on and burnt my jam while writing all this down. Serves me right for being such a sentimental baby.

 

90 days

For the past year we’ve been living with Danny DeVito.

That is how I shall refer to our former landlord – even though he doesn’t deserve that honour – because he is very short.

He owns the apartment block of four and the café in front of it, which is run by his daughter and son-in-law. At first Danny DeVito, who was probably in his 70s, seemed like he was going to be a lot of fun to have as a landlord and neighbour.

We would talk politics and current affairs in the courtyard. We’d heard he purposefully kept the rent lower than the market demanded and hadn’t given a tenant notice in the 25 years he’d owned the place. He insisted if we had any problems we could just knock on his door and he’d come over and fix whatever it was.  He built and lacquered a wooden table and put it in the courtyard soon after we’d started sharing Saturday afternoon beers with our neighbours. It was all very idyllic.

The first time I realised Danny DeVito was not our friend was when he angrily hollered at me during a very light shower on a humid day: “The carpet will get wet! Close the window now!”

Danny DeVito obviously believed the man of the house should take care of everything, so he would usually greet me with a smile while harassing J-man about some summary offence. Our bin had bin juice in it, J-man’s scooter was parked oddly, or our washing machine door was left open.

Danny DeVito had a recycling bin he liked to leave empty for unexplained reasons and once he discovered we’d put paper in it, fishing out a piece of torn up mail and presenting it to J-man as the smoking gun.

When we were in the USA for three weeks we’d given him permission for a tradesman to come in and get rid of termites we’d discovered.  When we returned we discovered Danny DeVito himself had installed new bathroom taps. In the process he’d obviously cleared out our bathroom cabinet because tampons, toilet paper and everything else I never meant for Danny DeVito to see were strewn around the shelves.

After that I received a lecture from Danny DeVito. Not for being a foul woman, but because he’d also discovered my bike had made small scuff marks just inside the front door. He complained it could cost him a lot of money to repair, despite me telling him I had always been able to remove those marks with a cloth.  J-man was told we should start to use Jiff because our kitchen drain was slightly brown.

Then late one afternoon six weeks ago, I opened a letter from the real estate agent giving us three months to move out. Even though we saw Danny DeVito every day, he hadn’t thought to tell us a young employee from the café needed somewhere to live. And maybe because of the bin juice, the open window, the wrongly placed envelope or the tea-stained drain, it had to be our unit.

We had broken Danny DeVito’s 25-year record.