Sunday, March 22, 2020

tales of quarantine and demon sex voyeurism

I'm not sure when exactly were the "days of wine and roses" but the days of quarantine and demon sex voyeurism are right now, in the latter days of March 2020. If you're not entirely sure how the two things go together, sit right back and let me tell you how my family and I are faring so far in our preparations for (ideally) surviving the Corona pandemic.

I am a young(ish) adult with autoimmune disease who is shacked up with two elderly parents - one in particular is very infirm and ticks every box for being at extra risk of COVID19. As someone who has worked from home for over ten years, and before that was unemployed from home, and the age difference in my family meant that even with two older brothers I was raised in the same conditions as an only child... I am uniquely qualified to enjoy time in my home as long as I have books, Netflix, and food.

Having explained to my parents the concept of social distancing and also voluntary isolation (different from required isolation or quarantine) and having my Mum say to me repeatedly "if Dad gets the corona virus he'll die" and with me sharing what I know from my overseas friends where the pandemic is more advanced than here (we will soon catch up to them at the rate we are going) I thought it was excellent when they agreed with my plan that we would go out one day a week to shop for food, and otherwise stay home except to attend necessary medical appointments.

I feel tremendous weight upon me to uphold this isolation, a pressure that is coming not just from family, friends, and neighbours but from total strangers (and celebrities) who are diligently choosing to stay home for our sake.

This is how the first week of that plan went down:

Day 1, Monday: Mum and I went to the mall to do our grocery shopping. We were lucky to get food and not encounter the feral bogan riff raff who you will have seen scrapping over toilet paper. There is a joke somewhere in there about this footage going viral on social media.

Day 2, Tuesday: My 88 year old father was taken by his volunteer (who we pay... long story) for his weekly one on one social outing. They went to an art gallery. While Mum went to a hall packed with old ladies for her weight loss meeting (she does not need to lose weight). I stayed home. I insisted that Dad's social outings be cancelled until after the Apocalypse. Mum's weight loss club has been suspended in the wake of more stringent social gathering rules so that helps me out tremendously, thank you Australian Government.

Day 3, Wednesday: Both parents attend the local GP and pharmacy. Okay, not ideal, but better they go now before too many people in our community have been exposed to COVID19.

Day 4, Thursday: Mum goes to have a hair trim. I begin to think I am in a losing battle.

Day 5, Friday: Dad wakes up with a limp arm, we have to check if he has had a TIA or stroke.

Day 6, Saturday: I think, wow, no one has any appointments on the weekend, maybe we will slide into this isolation gently over the weekend.... but no my mother decides she has to go to the petrol station to buy a newspaper because she absolutely has to have a TV guide. And when I ask her what happened to our plan she screams at me "I have to have something to do!" Well she won't be bored when we are measuring my Dad for his coffin.

Day 7, Sunday: I share with Mum the news I have from overseas friend about how people won't get permission to leave their home to attend hospital but have to stay home and die, and how fucking hard it is to get an ambulance. I discuss with mum what options we have for if we need to quarantine one of us from the others within the home. Mum emphatically states that if Dad gets sick she will still share his bed. I begin to think that I am going to be trapped in this house with two people who will not lift a finger to protect me... even though I've been a good little girl and stayed home. I'm pretty sure they intend to take me with them when they leave this mortal coil.

This is seriously beginning to undermine the enjoyment I had at the start of the week for a calm, orderly, and really quite leisurely period of living it up at home. I had a binge watch list, a to-read list, and social media to grow. What else can I do, no one wants me to try and sell them jewellery right now they are worried about finances. So it should be play time?

A nice day of reading on the bed with my sweet, cuddly boy dog should be just what the doctor ordered. Well now, there's just one thing: a book lover like me should not have to share quarantine with a bibliophile's kryptonite aka... My Dad.

I stopped buying books for my 88 year old father after he came into my office and shared his unsolicited review of the last book I got him for his birthday. I had chosen what I thought was a moderately nerdy book about the world's first chess tournament held in the Ottoman Empire in 1546.

My father shuffled up to me when I was at my desk working and said, "I finished that book you got me" Oh yes? "It had lots of sex in it" Oh Dear God! Then he leaned in, delicately grasped the excess fabric of my sleeve, checked left and right for potential eavesdroppers before mock whispering "and FORNICATION"

I have no Earthly idea what my Dad thinks fornication is but I could tell from his voice that it is a great deal worse than sex and that is enough for me. Anyway that is the day I stopped buying books for my Dad. It did not stop him from constantly asking me if I had anything to read, and, Heaven help us all, he recently came home with his latest book choice.

He returned from buying lotto tickets at the mall with a discounted book called Eternal Flame with the book blurb "passion like this will scorch you to the very soul"

A quick scan of the back cover synopsis has me ready to take drastic self preservation measures, and that is why it is time for me to pluck out my eyes, cut off my ears, and incinerate my brain. Oh to be anywhere else when my Dad reads a scorching book about a hybrid demon and a girl who is used to playing dirty.

Yeah I just vomited a little bit in my mouth. Debate in our family raged: people who don't live with us giggle and suggest he is now into erotica. Mum and I are more exposed to his declining cognitive ability and suspect he simply did not understand the words "hybrid demon" on the back cover, and may not even be able to read the back cover as his eye sight is also pretty terrible these days.

It was two weeks ago that he bought the book and very quickly discarded it as "the worst kind of rubbish" which lead to me victoriously emailing family saying "see, I knew he wasn't a demon sex voyeur!" But he has now picked it back up and is ploughing through it whether or not he understands a word of it and God I hope I have heard the last of this book that I look forward to burning when we run short of fire wood this winter if we are still here, in quarantine, in our house of questionable repute.

So in these days of uncertainty and financial strain, I hope it gives you a giggle to think of me, with my 83 and 88 year old children and their sex books in this: our time of Quarantine and Demon Sex Voyeurism. And may God have mercy on our souls.

Monday, March 2, 2020

To Eleanor Oliphant with love - reexamining my empty life

this would be my classified ad, if I were to run one

This post is a follow up on a vintage post I wrote called How's My Love Life? which contains quite possibly the most embarrassing thing about myself I've ever published (although this post comes in a tight second) 
Here we are in March 2020 and Valentine's Day came and went - just a day on the calendar for someone who is single but not really motivated to change that status. Neither a lonely or a painful day, nor one to be rushed through and hidden away from. I don't know what is wrong with me, or if indeed anything is wrong with me. On the surface each day I am doing things that I want to be doing, I have a very solid, consistent contentment in life and I am both cheerful and wickedly funny about the really bizarre moments that life throws my way.

However.... it seems to me, and this certainly occurred to me for the first time when I was reading "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman that I am coasting through life not unlike Eleanor, she had her little routines and I have mine. I mean I am choosing to run a creative small business from home for not much money and little impact on the world, choosing to stay home with the dog and watch Netflix or devour a book + snacks. I get excited about online purchases I make and new music I add to my playlists. I like having friends I don't see too often because I have more time to just chill and be me and put my plantar fasciitis wracked foot up while lounging in my not-very-active-wear.

But then I realised that years have gone by with absolutely nothing to show for them. Where are the life adventures? God knows I don't have any money, so I must have really lived on all that dime, right? But not. It gets frittered away on books, and clothes, and food and that's what I've done... I've consumed time and money and built nothing lasting.

I'm doing what I want to do every day.... but not what I want to do every decade or for a lifetime. The individual moments are all very enjoyable, but the life..... where is the life? Have I published my book? Have I really travelled anywhere? I chose not to marry or have kids - though I am a little bit afraid of being home alone one day when I have my heart attack (because that's the other thing, I'm pretty sure that's only a matter of time too), and after my Mum dies I will have a loneliness that cuts me even now just thinking about how I will be the last person who remembers her family - they are all dead and gone, and when Mum goes I'll only have my Dad's family.

I'm maybe only semi-okay now.

But Eleanor began to expand her horizons and develop meaningful relationships and so can I. Even if I'm not quite convinced I want a love life, I am convinced I need to stop wasting so much time and actually do some real stuff. I might be okay staying single - if there is such a thing as a Spinster Gene it definitely runs in my Mum's family (and some of those ladies were total babes in their day) but I definitely need to allow life to change up on me and stop going with the flow.

So I am saying a massive thank you to Eleanor Oliphant and taking a leaf out of her book, no more coasting, no more wastage, if I can't fulfil my promise to Diane to find love, I promise to find LIFE.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

how to cope with people who criticise and undermine your new year's resolutions

in this blog article I share my tips for coping with people who undermine your new year's resolutions and dreams

Hopes, dreams, goals, New Year Resolutions, the things we want out of life - everyone has something they want, and this is the time of year we are most conditioned to think about them, and the chances are every single person who wants something in life and has voiced it has encountered someone who makes them feel really awful about their chances of success. You've had someone step on your dream right? Made you feel inadequate, whether intentionally or unintentionally?

My father has a way of wishing you luck that makes you feel like the most cursed and doomed person on the planet. Whenever I share a decision, hope, or plan with my Dad I am left shivering in my boots, wondering how he can foresee trouble in even the most mundane and non eventful life choice, certainly there have been many times I have regretted speaking to him.

For example, in preparation for (perhaps) leading a more public life (if I finish writing my novel and if I publish it) and because I sell online and don't want to put my home address any longer on the return labels of all my lovely Starzyia orders, I finally decided to get a PO Box for myself.

Last year I told my Dad, "I'm getting a PO Box" and he sounded so frightened when he said "well, I hope it works out for you" in such a way that I suddenly had visions of us huddling on the curb in the dark gazing upon the burnt out shell of our house and saying "sorry guys, I never should have got that PO Box"

That's the feeling he generates from something mundane and fully determined, in fact settled, so imagine the response to something really heartfelt and tenuous like a weight loss goal, wanting to expand my handmade business, or getting my novels published. His fear and doubt are so thinly disguised in his blessing that you want to run screaming for your pillow fort and not come out until next Christmas.

So, for everyone who has made a resolution this New Year, or has a hope, a dream, or a cause to pursue, may you find a kindred spirit who will not crush your confidence - everyone has a dream-crusher somewhere in their life, I just want to make sure you know that the confidence you had before you spoke to that person came from within you, and can be rekindled and nurtured and you can set the world on fire (just not my house)

I cope with my Dad more easily now than in the past, so I thought I'd share my top tips for coping with critics, cynics, and those who oppose your happiness or success:

find out how I cope with negativity towards my goals and resolutions

1. Determine whether you need to share your hopes, dreams, and goals with this person. If their co-operation or understanding is not essential to your success and they have a history of making you feel bad about the things you want to achieve, just start your dream without them. They may or may not catch on. They may or may not support you down the line, but if the beginning of something is fragile, I try to avoid sharing it with the toxic people where I can.

2. If you do need to share your dream with a potentially negative or known toxic person, brace yourself - know their pattern of resistance or the kinds of negative comments they are capable of and if possible fortify your heart. Their opinion of you is not your opinion of you. Don't doubt yourself or let your dream or goal be poisoned by someone outside of you.

3. Rally your inner "opposition defiant" qualities and decide that you are going to prove you are more than capable of achieving what you set out to do.

4. Before you share with a known toxic or nay-saying person, tee up a positive friend or family member who will talk to you after you have talked to that negative person, make sure you the last message you hear is a positive one.

 5. Separate people who mock you or challenge you for spite, from those who are accidentally hurting your feelings or doubting you out of a misguided concern - you may need to rise above them, especially if they are someone who is going to be in your life for a while longer. Remind yourself of their true intentions, and move on.

6. Remember what I said: the confidence and the passion you had for your dream before you encountered the negative influences and messages came from inside you, you are the source. Tap into your original intention and reinforce your goal by assessing how you will face any pitfalls and challenges that have been revealed in your conversations. You might be better prepared to succeed because you have addressed the kinds of obstacles - especially emotional ones or thought patterns - and knowing how to respond and cope with an external critic can really help you sort out your responses to your internal ones.

7. Practice some TLC, process what is happening, don't let it all build up until it overwhelms you and remind yourself that what you want for your life is your primary business, its not up to someone else to tell you what you should dream or try to achieve. 

So far these tips have really been sanity savers for me, as well as keeping a sense of humour about negatives - a lot of the Dad comments are being saved up mentally not to hurt myself with but to have a nice laugh about how my Dad really means me to have the best life possible. He just doesn't know how to say it.

So I wish you a wonderful life. I have no fear or doubt in your ability at all. You have everything you need inside of you to make good decisions, to take positive actions, and to fulfill those goals and dreams.

work hard and chase your dreams

Monday, December 10, 2018

not your typical mother - daughter power struggle

a family portrait that took blood, sweat and tears to achieve, literally

It would be fair to say that my mother and I have had our fair share of power struggles, but a recent flick through our family album has brought memories of one of our more unusual battles to light. Childlike stubbornness was never outgrown by my mum, and of course I am a strong person myself - strong but wise on most occasions. I was always a little more dignified than my parents with a sophisticated way of expressing my opinions (that didn't need to resort to the passive aggressive play book favoured by mum)

Which is why I'm absolutely pissing myself laughing about the time I made my mum shave my arm pits.

Not so sophisticated now, right?

But how could a mother end up being forced to shave their daughter's underarms and could you ever lose power so much that this could happen to you? Nah, it won't happen to you, because you probably would have course corrected and come to an easier solution.

You probably aren't slaving over the making of "going out" outfits for your kids (although I must wave hello to my Etsy friends who may be the exception to this, although running your own businesses you probably dress everyone else's kids before your own) but had you slaved over a nice sleeveless dress for your daughter only to discover before a family party that said daughter had developed a small forest in their underarms you probably wouldn't try and force them to wear the dress, at least not after they turned their mortified face to you and said "I can't wear that"

Honestly I am quite fortunate to have buried this story in the darker recesses of my mind until now, when I am of course, pissing myself laughing about mum and I screaming at each other about whether or not I would wear that dress

I can recall the words "no one will care" and hey, free parenting advice, if your kid is really upset about something, saying no one cares, or no one will care, or no one will notice are all things that make them feel like they are no one because believe it or not they care, very much, and are telling you they do. From their little heart to yours, and I know you can't cater to your child's every whim, but at least don't say their feelings don't matter. But you knew that right?

So it won't be you that ends up losing a heated battle and having their daughter scream "shave my arm pits!" before driving a long way to a family party and having them never take their cardigan off the whole time (yep can't even see that dress huh?) and you won't spend your life feeling like you are their body servant, although I believe you may feel like that for the first few years of diapers, bathing, dressing, and bottom wiping. But that's why mum's drink isn't it?

And that's the story behind this family portrait of me holding my first niece, who is now a new mum of a beautiful little boy named Owen, and may their power struggles be few and far between, but may they be fantastic and hilarious and easy to forgive when they do come. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

live-in aged care: our journey so far...

I'm in the trenches every day, first hand witness to the decline and change in my parents, something many people prefer not to witness when it comes to their elderly relations. I'm not here to condemn anyone who decides that living with their aging parents is not for them - there are many reasons why its a wonderful thing to do and many more reasons why its probably not the greatest idea in the world.

I wrote about role reversals in the parent child relationship in the post Every day is Freaky Friday and one of the greatest changes you'll note, besides the increasing feelings or protectiveness you have over your parents (its like having the world's oldest children "don't touch! hot! Don't climb on the shelves to reach something! Put the axe down now....") is that while they once monitored and assessed your development, you are now constantly appraising their declining abilities. The social niceties can be the first to go. Table manners of course fall by the wayside. The ability to assess what is and is not interesting, what is and is not important, and they probably lost their memory 30 years ago we just weren't there to observe its departure.

The constant losing of keys is one of my great stresses, its mostly Dad, but this one time with Mum last year was particularly stressful, here is my Facebook post from that night:  hello Barkeep, I need copious amounts of alkyhol, I know you don't know me, that's because I don't usually drink. And I don't care what you bring me I just need to blot out that my 80 year old mother lost her keys half way through locking the house up, and whatever can obliterate the screaming as my mother tries to explain (for the one billionth time) to my Dad that the keys are not out the front or in the garage she's quite sure because she locked the front door and then lost the key, and the door is locked so the key has to be on this side of the door, and he can't grasp it.... and whatever you recommend that will erase this I will take immediately, and more.

But mum is still going on very strong, at 80 she actually can still wield a hack saw out in the garden for a couple of hours at a time, and I don't usually know she's at it until she's dragging the corpses of tree branches into the back yard for disposal by me.

Dad was the handiest guy in the world. He could design and make anything, he could repair anything, and was genius at substitutions for broken or missing parts. Somewhere along the way of course, certain jobs become physically too hard - not that he can admit it, and I'm still fighting a losing battle of stopping him from doing things he really shouldn't do. Just the other day he asked me where the little saw was he could use to cut up some hard roots invading the garden drain. Yes, at 85 years old, previously had two heart valves replaced, got dodgy knees, and a previously broken hip he wanted to get down on hands and knees and hack away at something. Its now at the point where I don't want him to do things anymore, that's to be expected, right? But now I can't even consult with him over how I should do things.

How I discovered this? Well, and this just came up in my Facebook memories from a few years ago, I wrote at the time: My Dad is making an adjustment to my furniture. This involves taking it apart, reassembling it with glue on the screws, dowels and bolts, and adding some support brackets.... but why has he come inside for a box of matches? I am so afraid to ask. Please don't burn my furniture Dad!

That would be about the last time I asked Dad for a favour. I actually sneak around now when I need to assemble something, or book a friend in to help me if I think I can't figure it out on my own.

Of course I'm here to basically do favours for my parents, that would be the service I provide them in return for economical living and a permanent address. Mum just comes straight out and asks me for things, and that is wonderful. Dad asks me in a way that arouses the most fear and dread possible. In the time it takes Dad to get to the point and ask me for a favour, which begins with "can I ask you a favour?" (and then descends into a rambling stroll through the Valley of the Shadow of Death) the sun has shifted significantly in the sky, I have imagined 50 things I hope he's not about to ask me, and a new billy goat hair has sprouted out of his ear. All to ask me if I have change for a fiver.

And those niceties, the little social graces, the supportive parenting statements.... its safe to say those are gone. Not long ago I was showing my mother some new photos of myself, they were nice photos taken so I'd have something to use if someone asked me for one for an article or a feature, of course Dad wanted to be included and asked to see them too. No problem, here you go, Dad.... "you've turned ugly!" he exclaims in horror. WTF? If those photos are ugly there is no hope for me as I am with no makeup and my hair not done the way he sees me every day. Stings a little, coming from my Dad. Oh wait.... he's got massive cataracts and he's not wearing his glasses. Crisis averted. "You can't see properly!" I exclaim "you're not wearing your glasses and you've got cataracts". Oh be fucked, that was the wrong thing to say he flung the photos down and screamed "don't show me anymore pictures then!". And he's the injured party. I won't lie, I was pretty upset after that. Not that he noticed.

And that's why I say that aged care is not for sissies. You just have to get out of bed every day and hide the damn hack saw.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

the chair that nearly started World War III

Today it is my task to relate to you the story of the chair that nearly started World War III and it wasn't the squeaky chair at the G20 Summit, it was the Kalmar Chair in Grey that boasts a sturdy and comfortable construction suitable for up to 5 hours of comfortable sitting at a time but couldn't deliver actual ability to be assembled in full, not once, but twice.

It may only be one woman's quest to obtain a comfortable chair for her home office and studio to you, but to me it has been quite the emotional roller coaster a tale of highs, and lows, judgement, recriminations, screaming, a LOT of curse words, exhaustion, and tears. So sit back, and observe how perilously close to the edge I have been brought by how utterly impossible it is to buy furniture that does not require assembly before use.

On the 27th of June, I decided that I would treat myself to a new computer chair before the end of financial year. This was quite a decadent decision on my part considering it would be the first time I purchased a chair before the current chair I'm using physically broke, and the only flaw of the chair I am currently sitting on is that it was cheap fake leather that is shedding large flaking patches of black all over the carpet and then distributed through the house by pets and shoes. I also felt I deserved a more ergonomic and comfortable chair considering the hours I sit in it and my back, neck, and shoulder problems.

My main priority in choosing a chair was to avoid a repeat of the fake leather shedding which has been raining down prolifically for years, so I wanted a fabric chair, with arms, tilt and tension adjust, and a high back. I started at Officeworks online, and was shocked by the price of the Kalmar at $199 - more than any chair I'd previously bought and I kept looking. Well prices just went higher and higher no matter where I looked it came down to it that the Kalmar was the best of the bunch (or so I thought) I felt guilty about the price but it was going to be hard to find a fabric chair with the same comfort and I decided that I would just not confess the REAL PRICE to my Dad, as I felt sure he'd be shocked by it.

I bought the chair that very day, online of course, and was pleased to have the chair by the 29 of June, wow, that was fast. Awesome. I hadn't been well for a long time but I spent the energy assembling the chair, of course the last part is attaching the arms - wait a minute, the holes don't line up, off by a good inch on the right arm and can't be attached. I was so disappointed, but oh well, I gave the customer service line a call and let them know. They said they'd get back to me.

I waited a week, no call back, so I spent more energy taking the chair apart and we drove it to the local branch and they ordered a new chair for me. I waited a few days, a bit longer this time, but my chair came and I started to assemble the second Kalmar. All was going well until, hold your horses, the right arm again, same problem, the holes didn't line up by about an inch. This time I did not take it calmly. There was yelling, swearing, I'd say I banged some tools around, but honestly how much sound does an alan key make when you throw it down in disgust? Surely not loud enough to be heard over my anguished cries.

Another call to customer service was placed, and they were very kind, and when I said I did not wish to receive a third Kalmar they let me know they would authorize a return for refund, all I had to do was put it all back in the box it came from so their courier could collect it, and my refund would be processed after they got the chair back.

Hahaha, all I had to do was put it back in the box - okay the first chair that I took to the local store, I only kind of took it apart, but not all the way, after all I only had to fit it in the car, not the box. But how hard can it be? Um.... really, really hard. I asked my Dad if he knew how to get it apart, and he monkeyed around with it for a few minutes before telling me that "you buy rubbish" (and I never even lied about the price). This is the exact moment of the figurative gunshot heard round the world, aka the start of World War III.

I work hard. I felt guilty about the amount of money I spent on the chair. I didn't think it was cheap crap, it felt like an indulgence to me. I had twice assembled a chair I couldn't sit on. I had no part in the manufacturing process but was its victim. I was tired, and sick and emotional, and I cannot for the life of me find a store locally or online who will sell me an assembled chair, there is nothing to do but keep the chair I have (which will eventually break one day I'm sure, and isn't doing my back any favours in the meantime) or buy a chair that requires assembly. Words were had over this damn chair, angry, bitter words.

And I still couldn't take it apart completely and cram it back in its damn box.

So we drove to the local store and begged them to get a mallet out and take the base apart for us as the courier won't take it if its not in a box. Then wondered when the courier would come (sometime in the next 5 days) meanwhile I shopped online again from scratch for a chair, because hey, I had a hankering for a new chair and now by hook or by crook I will frigging get one, and it had better be comfortable.

Well, I couldn't find another fabric chair that has the armrests and high back, or can tilt etc, so I decided that I would have to risk getting the best quality PU I could get - hopefully for the price tag it would be thicker and more durable than the flaking horrible crumby chair I am hoping to replace.

At least it cost less than the Kalmar. But still, more than any chair I have bought previously. Enter the Knoxville. I still bought it before I got the refund from Officeworks, but oh well. I should at last be happy. It looked like it would be ridiculously comfortable compared to the shapeless black monster I'm on now.

Well the Knoxville came and I started to put it together, more energy, but hey, looks like a nice chair.... um, wait a minute, the sides of the back rest don't have holes cut where the screws of the arm rest are supposed to go in. OH FOR FUCK's SAKE!

Email support, wait a week, get told they will send me a new back. Okey doke. Wait a couple of weeks to be informed the back was in fact shipped. Wait a week to get it. Came today..... the bit that comes out of the back isn't long enough to attach to the seat of the chair. NUCLEAR IMPLOSION.

How is it possible that for a decision I made on June 27th, to treat myself to a new office chair before the end of financial year can have lead to weeks of having very large boxes of half assembled chairs taking up the available space in our front room all this time? How can I still not have a chair? Have I offended the God of Chairs in some way? Should I have paid through the nose to reupholster my current chair (that would cost more than buying a new chair but now wish I had done) Please, just, please, don't let office chairs defeat me. I really am not a bad person. I just wanted a nice chair and felt I deserved it. Please, please, a chair! My kingdom for a chair!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

it turns out I needed some time to just enjoy this....

Well, I did it, at last, I started my bedroom makeover. No photos yet as the other half of the makeover will be after I get back from Etsy Captain's Summit in Noosa. But so far, it has been the first real action since culling belongings on and off for a year, measuring, making furniture arranging possibility sketches, making little pencil marks on walls and sticking pins in my curtains to show where certain pieces would be positioned. Saving money, ordering flat packs, assembling, freaking out that the bed head I bought to go in front of my window was too high and having to make a whole new furniture arrangement, packing all my belongings, moving everything, and putting everything that made the cut back in the room. To be honest I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I also had sinusitis and for a few days I didn't even make it to lunch time without needing a lie down. It turned out I needed to spend some time just looking at the water and doing basically, jack. Look who also enjoyed the down time...

But I'm back up and energized again, and since it has just been my parent's wedding anniversary, and we actually did nothing (I remembered a day late, and they didn't remember until I mentioned it) I thought I'd tell the story of how we celebrated my parent's 40th Wedding anniversary in a Coffee Club.

First of all, my parents eat at the senior citizen mandated dinner time of 4.30 pm, a time that fancy restaurants are not ready to take you, and if they did, my parents would still rather be at home squabbling about who is talking during the tv (Mum won't let Dad talk during The Bold and the Beautiful, Dad won't let mum talk during the news) and getting into their pjs and locking all the doors and windows by 5.30pm and thinking how contented they are to have their work done for the day.

So to celebrate a special occasion, we eat out, at lunch time. In a place that Mum chooses, because she is wildly difficult to please, and there are maybe two Mum approved restaurants in all of Mandurah. It has to be a place that you can walk in without a reservation somewhere between 11.30 and 12.00 and lately, for the past few years that place has been Happy BBQ Chinese Restaurant. Of course Mum does absolutely no pre-special occasion research, so once we turned up on a day that they were closed.

The year of the infamous 40th Wedding Anniversary, I recommended to Mum that she check that Happy's would be open, and she swore black and blue and two ways to Sunday that there is absolutely no way that they would not be open. However, when we arrived, they were, indeed, not open for business. So we were standing in the carpark at the mall, and I'm thinking, thank God we can go down to the foreshore and eat at one of the many wonderful restaurants in the area that I love. But NO, Mum thought that driving somewhere else when she was HANGRY and having to REPARK the car was too much effort so she suggested we go into the mall and eat at The Coffee Club.

We found a table for 4 (though really it seemed like it was only comfortable for 2 people) in a room packed with at least 50 people all talking at once so loud that no one at our table could hear each other and we sat more or less in silence for an hour, celebrating a Ruby Wedding Anniversary with grilled fish and chips.

Oh and when the waitress brought my meal, somehow, the fish came off the plate, flew through the air and landed in the palm of her hand. I know, what the? And she put the fish on my plate and then asked me "Oh, would you like a new piece of fish?" By the way, if you happen to be in food service, this is a terrible position to put your customer in - by making me the hard arse if I would prefer a clean piece of fish for my lunch. The correct thing to say is "let me get you a new piece of fish". I did very awkwardly and with much embarrassment request a new piece of fish, and I tell you that fish came back pretty freaking quick. I hope she just grabbed a piece of fish (not with her hands) that was about to be put on someone else's plate and make that someone else wait a little longer for their fish, but I admit there is a 50-50 chance that I got my original fish after a 10 second trip to the kitchen.

And so its probably just as well we did not attempt to celebrate, in any way, the passing of my parent's 42nd wedding anniversary. Its also lucky that I accidentally observed aloud the other day, that Happy's is open in a new location, after the anniversary had passed, though I guess we'll go there for Mum's birthday, in July, if they are open.