2020

Lord and Lady, what a year! I’m glad to see the back of it. Just now, when one of our National Disability Insurance Scheme support coordinators asked me to send through some photos so that she could construct a social story for our offspring, I started to shake and was near to tears. It felt impossible to take it on, searching through pics to find the ones we needed to send. I guess it was that ‘one extra thing’ that nearly broke me.

I’m now full of herbal tea, cherries, and lunch, and feel more grounded. Nevertheless, this afternoon will be a ‘curl up on the bed and read’ time, because I can feel that fluttering in me that says I’ve overextended myself, and need downtime, silence, and stillness.

I have a number of tarot spreads to play with over the coming days, if I give myself time to do that, but right now, it feels like rereading THE DARK IS RISING series is the most important thing I could do for myself. Will Stanton has only 2 of the 5 signs needed. Before dinner tonight, he should have all five.

Journal of the Plague Year

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a plague year post. I got deep into my memoir rewrite, and am only just adjusting to having that off my shoulders, and the new freedoms Victorians have. We still have mandatory masking. There is still social distancing. There are limits in cafes, pubs, and restaurants, and recreation areas. Not that anyone seems to care any more. Why don’t we just all cuddle up together seems to be the new attitude.

I have reluctantly come back into the world, but find I much prefer to be home. I’ve gone to Elwood Beach, travelled up as far as Belgrave, eaten out, and shopped, but mostly, I find it all exhausting, and I want to run back home and read, doze, and muck about on the edges with art.

Have I truly changed who I am with this long lockdown? I don’t know. Maybe it’s damage. Maybe it’s coming back to who I really am at heart, who I was as a little girl. The homebody who didn’t think much beyond her own back yard, except as some nameless, hopeless yearning.

Even if I do go out, I tend to race back home. I have yet to think much beyond shopping. Not that I want to do that any more. Ive wasted entire holidays looking in shops. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be someone who craves experiences, not souvenirs. I don’t want my go to activity to be pottering in a shopping centre. I want that to be ‘in for the necessaries and out again’. But I can’t bring myself to say ‘okay, I’m going to drive to Sassafras and adventure beyond the main drag. I’m going to find a walking track, or a picnic area’. To be honest, I don’t have a great feel for that – yet.

Today, I’m back to editing and writing, but maybe tomorrow, there will be time to explore a new walking track, a new area. I hope I can change the habits of 30 years.

September 2020 round up

These are the three goals I set via Biddy Tarot Planner.

Set 3 goals and pull a card for each, and see if they align with your intuition.

5. Goal 1: 15,000 words of memoir for September(with a dash of ‘is this the final push for this draft?’): 7 of Pentacles. If I tend it, it will grow. Highly successful. Pulled in yesterday at 20,030 words. Very pleased. A great deal of flow.

6. Goal 2: Take 3 water colour lessons wherever I find them. The Moon. Didn’t happen, but I did Paint By Numbers, 2 Paint For Fun online workshops(Paint a Waterfall With Acrylics, and Paint A Cool Cat With Acrylics). No watercolour work at all. Also played with Roll A Picasso, and several other paint and drawing techniques.

7. Goal 3: rediscover that old belly dance choreography. Page of Pentacles. Did not happen. Belly dance is not where my passion is. As my belly dance mentor said: “Not everything can be loud at the same time.”

I couldn’t face the online Disability Expo and missed the entire thing. I am not suffering. Work continues with my therapist, as does amateur art therapy with a girlfriend every week. I attended Soul Collage, and have taken walks most days. Writing Magic Realism seminar was deadly dull, and I am no clearer on it than beforehand. The house is clean, but untidy. I’m not sure there’s much else to report. I’m highly envious of my daughter and her family travelling around northern Queensland, while we’re all still in hard lockdown in Melbourne. Apart from my memoir writing stints, my concentration is shot to hell. I am sick of my neighbourhood, all the zoom rooms, and talking myself into making some effort each day. I’ve stupidly put my hand up to run an online Full Moon witch group, and am running the first ritual tomorrow night.

Shame

I have a goodly amount of shame around employing a house cleaner.

For Goddess’ sakes, I used to clean houses for other people, AND keep my own house clean. Over the space of about 15 years, I worked for the City of Monash and sometimes was the first cleaner into a house in five years(waiting lists, or no one caring enough to alert the Council that someone could not clean for themselves, and yes, this includes visiting family members who could have easily given the kitchen a wipe down, or the toilet, or at least phoned Human Services, for fucks’ sakes). I saw some sights. One bedridden lady had what I thought was a black toilet. I cleaned. It took three hours, and two containers of bleach, but turned out the toilet was white. She had four adult daughters who visited. Did they use the black toilet? Did they go in the yard? I’ll never know.

Two years before I quit cleaning, around age 41, my body started breaking down. I hurt all the time. Nothing I ate seemed to gee me up again. I got sleep. Good Goddess, I FELL into bed most nights, because I was also teaching belly dance most evenings at neighbourhood houses. I was managing teenage children(with disabilities) and attempting to have a relationship(with a with-holding, near paranoid man). I got through with willpower.

Kelp supplements helped for a little while, then didn’t. Ditto spirulina, and more expensive mult-vitamin, and iron tablets never seemed to make much difference. Twice, I had an iron infusion at a hospital, but that only made me more exhausted. My brain my was fuzzy, and if I look back on my old book-keeping records (I was self-employed as a dance teacher, and part-time palmistry tutor), I can see where I started forgetting work I’d done, forgetting to send invoices. My writing is more cramped, less legible.

Come age 46, I had leaky gut syndrome, and slid into fibromyalgia. Acupuncture, and naturopathy kept it at bay, but there were a few really painful lost years there. Finally, the housework wasn’t getting done, and I was exhausted all the time. I couldn’t think straight, and would simply look at mess and dirt, and wander away again.

Time for a house cleaner. I’d remarried, and my husband said we could afford it. Cue a huge guilt complex. I felt, and feel sure everyone is judging me for having a cleaner.

“Oh, nice to be some people.” “How lovely to be that rich.” “But you used to do it for others.” “Lady of leisure.”

As if Lady of Leisure was something to be ashamed of! I am, though. I don’t have to work, like most of my friends. I’m not in the middle of raising children any more. I can pretty much choose my life. And then Annie arrives on Thursdays to clean. I sit on the couch, answering emails, or writing, or writing penpal letters. I get to sit in sunshine, and read. All while the house gets cleaned.

During lockdown, we’ve returned to doing our own housework. I can do it, but it’s still tiring for me. I’m 56, not 76, and I know that if I put down my laptop, put the memoir away for two hours each day, I wouldn’t need a cleaner.

But I tell you what, I’m going to ignore my fear, and welcome Annie back as soon as she’s allowed to come clean.

It’s really hard for me to see myself as hosting illness – fibroymyalgia, which may have been an underactive thyroid all along, and is now Hashimoto’s Dysfunction. I still get tired easily, but I tend to forget that when I’m bulling my way through the bathroom, ensuite, or powder room, or hanging three baskets of laundry, and giving the kitchen a huge scrub. At the time, I’m okay, and then I find I’m useless for the rest of the day.

So goes it. I don’t want to own my ‘disease’ but for now, I have to function within its confines, and that means a cleaner. Yes, I’m lucky to afford one. If it means lugging around some guilt, so be it. Annie, I love you. Thankyou.

August 2020 Round Up

August turned out remarkably productive, with me bulling my way through a spiral of down thoughts. Victoria is in Stage 4 lockdown, and while initially, I didn’t give a hoot, because I hadn’t come out of isolation, it’s now wearing me down. I long to breathe air outside that isn’t filtered through a few layers of cotton and muslin. I want to see the world through clear glasses, not ones that are fogged up to the point of me crying because I can’t see a thing. I want to walk different neighbourhoods, sit in a cafe for a cup of tea while daydreaming a new story or poem. I want the opportunity to not be afraid every second.

I completed the Intersections course I was doing, and have started rewriting some of the material generated.

I generated a new poem that I’ve sent to the Science Fiction Poetry Association competition. (Satya, it’s the selkie poem, if you’re looking back on this later)

I completed 15,067 words and 40 Pomodoro sessions for memoir this month, which proves I can still pull big numbers over a month.

The household is in a routine for cleaning, mostly.

I have started Painting By Numbers, which is pleasurable, and have branched out into 2 hour painting workshops. So far, I’ve done ‘Paint Like Banksy’.

I made 2 new Soul Collage cards, and participated in the August Soul Collage group.

I completed a 6 week astrology course, and have decided no more for now. My mind had a hard time wrapping around the aspects. The houses were new-but-old information that I properly absorbed and understood this time around. The aspects will take me a bit longer to ‘get’. Then it might be time for the next course ‘The Karmic Journey’, which requires understanding of transits.

I have eaten a large amount of comfort chocolate, and it’s paying out via pain and inflammation.

I’ve started consuming collagen again, and have noticed an immediate drop in knee pain.

 

The daffodils and jonquils have come up, but not the snowdrops. I see snowdrops in others’ gardens, and in Bellbird Dell, but not in my yard yet. The first roses are out. This year, the winner was the white standard rose in the front yard. Normally, it’s the standard yellow, but it shows no sign of buds yet. The yellow rose bush alongside the house has 5 large buds, and one open rose. The current bout of high winds might put paid to that rose hanging around for long. Two deep red tulips made a brief appearance.

Because of high winds causing power outages, Yarra Valley Water had to issue ‘boil your water’ warnings. There was, of course, a rush on bottled water. We were fine. We had power and gas, and could boil our water easily.

The days are noticeably warmer, and longer, with light coming to the world a little earlier each day, and staying longer at night. It’s no longer dark at 5pm.

I have got to get out of Victoria. I cannot take the cold weather any more. I need year-round light for my mental health. I need warmth. I need to take my husband and offspring and move near my daughter and her family. Missing them and still smiling is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

 

Journal of the Plague Year

Victoria is back in lockdown again. COVID numbers have spiked. Some people are demanding to know which postcodes, which families exactly, who to blame. There’s a lot of Victoria-shaming out there. The majority of us have done the right thing from the get go – masks, social isolation, social distancing, hand washing, disinfecting surfaces. A few haven’t, and like the one kid who yells out in class and gets everyone detention, it spoils it for all.

I wear glasses. They fog up when I wear a mask. So I step outside, away from people, and take a breather. Go back for another go inĀ  the supermarket, or wherever I have to be.

That all said, I am feeling this time around. I’m not sure what The Big Sloth is all about, but I can scarcely be bothered to do anything. It’s 6.30pm and only now have I gotten around to making sweet potato and lime soup, with ingredients that have been on the kitchen bench all day.

I’m not much of an imagineer this week. I squeezed out a story for the sake of it, but really, it needs a hook to hang it on. I might rewrite it. I might not. I’ve no impetus to rewrite. I’ve no impetus to do much of anything.

I scroll through facebook, and then read a few pages. Rinse and repeat. Wins include parceling up 2 bags of stuff for the op shop, cooking that darned soup, being kind of on top of the housework, doing an Active Seniors class via my gym online. Oh, and I watched Hannah Gadsby’s DOUGLAS. Brilliant.

I too have autism and always feel like I never got the memo.

I hope this sloth feeling dissipates soon, and I feel more energised. There is stuff I want to do. I have plans. Poetry, short stories, paint some furniture, create space in the house, finish tidying up the spare room, longer walks. I just….can’t….right now. My brain is not coping with looming plague and lockdown, and is in survival mode, shutting down excess life supports to conserve energy for subconsciously freaking out.

Okay, I get it. I’ll not expect too much of myself. Now, back to watching another episode of Bob Ross painting.

Journal of the Plague Year

Don’t stand so close to me.

Restrictions have lifted somewhat. Shops are open, nail and hair salons open, with signs up saying ‘only X amount of people allowed inside’. We are allowed to sit down in cafes. Two friends I know have already gone out for breakfast, coffee, and a sit in a cafe. I sat down in Grill’d to eat my burger, because last week when I tried walking around eating a burger, I ended up wearing most of it – small hands, small mouth, burgers slip and slide around and want to escape the confines of their low-carb gluten free buns.

People have been shouting ‘life has changed forever’, and at the same time, resuming all their old habits. Shopping as distraction, shopping out of boredom. I saw plenty of people browsing in stores today. I was in Knox because I wanted some stickers to use in my Pomodoro tracker notebook, and because it was an easy lunch stop before heading off for remedial massage. My poor body. I belong to the I Love To Op Shop page, and so many people are chafing at the bit to go get their op shop hit. No matter what it is, they have the urge to buy something. I did think about going to the Salvos, but 1) the Salvos are pretty picky about who they decide to help, and it doesn’t include gay and lesbian families, and 2) I didn’t actually need anything, or have the slightest desire to fossick. I noticed the urge to have an op shop hit, acknowledged it, and came home instead to read and write.

We are entering End of Financial Year stocktake season, and so, many places are starting to advertise their discounts. This has sent some into frenzies already. I saw a man with a shopping trolley absolutely full of stuff from Betta Electrical. I’m wondering just how many popcorn makers he needed, because I counted three. Any bets he’s going to resell them later? Oh, who knows. Perhaps his family have tee’d up a giant popcorn and Netflix and movie night, now that we can have 20 people in our homes, and one popcorn maker will not be enough. Maybe he gets a sexual thrill from sitting in the middle of popcorn makers spitting popcorn at him. I’ll never know the full story.

People have left social distancing in the dust. I swear that no one understands 1.5 metres. I had people cozying up to me on escalators. No one dared push past, but a couple of times, I had to turn and say ‘1.5 metres, thanks’.

The fruit mart that squats in the centre of the mall has a sign up saying ‘maximum 115 people’. Holy fuck, more like 15 people, but no, they’re serious. They have narrow aisles, and a confusing array of stands. Any time I’ve been there, it’s been ‘squash in, one and all’, and a few Saturdays ago, no one gave a hoot and packed the place out, because of a rumour of fruit shortages due to dodgy summer weather, and some truck drivers refusing to cross state boundaries.

I’m trying to hang on to social distancing and lockdown as long as I can. If I resume a busy life, then my stress levels go up, and I get less done, because I’m flighty again, instead of settled.

I managed 1 writing session of 25 minutes today.

Journal of the Plague Year

The procrastination and executive dysfunction are worse. I actually felt disheartened after reading on the Department of Health website that Victoria still has Stage 3 restrictions in place, so no change for us. Which, logically, I think is good, because I do think it’s too soon for easing back to Stage 2. But, my heart wants what it wants, and I want to drive to Frankston and walk on the boardwalk. I want to spend an afternoon browsing in op shops. I want to spend an afternoon writing in Nevedya Cafe. I want to drive to some of the bushfire-devastated towns and drop some money eating a meal and buying a beanie, checking out their bookshop and secondhand bookstore. I want my life back. And yet, lockdown is no real hardship for me. I’m writing, reading, walking the dog, visiting Bellbird Dell, and even venturing into the realm of cooking my own auto immune meals.

More and more, I think of the terrible conditions that prisoners endured in Port Arthur. Wearing bags on their heads, no speaking allowed, and being told that the waters off the coast were infested with sharks, inland there were ‘savage natives’, and there was a point on the Port Arthur peninsula called The Dog Line. It was only about a mile wide from coast to coast, and half-starved savage dogs were chained up on long chains so that they formed an uncrossable line. Any prisoner trying would be torn to shreds.

Now, the view from the old Port Arthur prison is beautiful. Coast, mountains, ocean. And every day, those prisoners must have stared through the eye holes in their bags, and hated it.

I am in no way a prisoner, but several weeks ago, I was really happy when our gardener pruned back the white rose bush that fronts our side fence garden. Every day, I sat on the couch, writing, or doing emails, and looked out of the window, seeing that rose bush, and those white roses. And I hated them. ‘Go fuck yourselves for thriving during lockdown,’ I thought. So it was with a secret mean pleasure that I watched Linden trim the bush back, ready for winter.

Now, of course, I miss the roses. I really don’t know when I’ve got it good.

Last night, I whined on Facebook that my executive dysfunction and procrastination are very bad, and that living in a messy old house is making me despair. My writing, gardening, fitness, dance, and just about everything in my life is not progressing. Addictions: facebook, chocolate, procrastination, lack of planning/ability to ignore plans.

So, this morning, I got up within half an hour of having my lemon and water, and morning pills, and actually made myself scrambled eggs. Then took the computer back to bed. Scrolling Facebook is not in the least rewarding on the computer. So, I’ve sent my PDF on the Art of Asking Powerful Questions to several potential tarot readers, deleted 4 emails, and now doing this blog update.

Next, it’s getting up and showering time, and starting my meal planning and prep for the week. Those auto immune recipes don’t happen on their own. Then it will be ‘fill in the calendar for next week’ time. Or rather, space stuff out that I want to do. Something physical, something mental, something spiritual, something for everybody – A Comedy Tonight! Sorry, I got carried away, quoting ‘A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum’.

I want to be carried away more often. I want more riffing, more fun silly ideas, and the balls to follow them through with writing.