Soooo, Miss J is seven

What to say? Juno is now seven years old. It feels like it was just yesterday that we were rushing around, organising her sixth birthday party in the local park.

The past 365 days have gone by in quite the blur, between Juno starting school to multiple lockdowns and us struggling to combine home-schooling with work. (But at least now we know that real home-schooling is absolutely not and never will be an option for us.) Juno did do okay in her first year of school. She really enjoys going, which I personally think is half the battle. She’s making progress – better at maths than reading and writing but baby steps…

It’s amazing to observe the changes Juno is going through. At first it was all about the physical changes but we noticed in the last year that they’ve slowed right down and the bulk of change is personality/emotional. She was already very definitely her own person but it’s remarkable to watch a person take shape and to start fully-fleshing out. And the changes can be so rapid, it’s just that we can’t physically see them.

So, anyhoo… it’s Juno’s birthday today. Seven years since she came into the world. Happy birthday bubba boo.

2021 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?
Finally rode up Mount Hotham. I had some thoughts about it.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
To repeat what I always say… I never bother with them. You can decide to makes changes any time you want. It’s up to you if you stick with them, the time of year makes no difference at all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No one I’m particularly close to but I do know someone who had a baby – my team lead had a baby girl in July.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Remarkably in this (second) year of global pandemic, no. I’m aware of how lucky I am.

5. What countries did you visit?
None of us have a valid passport so we currently can’t leave the country even if we wanted to. (Which, admittedly we don’t because of our inept government.)

6. What would you like to have in 2022 that you lacked in 2021?
To never have to home school ever, ever again. I now know with absolute certainty I don’t have what it takes to be a teacher. I have never been so frustrated and disillusioned as I was when trying to get Juno to write just three sentences.

7. What date from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Sunday November 28 – the day I rode up Mount Hotham. It was a very, very long day on the bike. I rode 110km and climbed about 1800 metres. Mount Hotham is a bloody big mountain and it’s hard. When I rounded the last corner and saw the entrance to the village, I burst into tears. Someone described as they thought I’d been run over by my emotions at that point and I think that’s actually a good way of putting it.

Riding up mountains and putting yourself under that much physical stress can be quite emotionally cathartic. At the time, crying seemed an appropriate response.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
See Q.1 and Q.7.

But I should also mention that I graduated from my Masters of Communication this year as well. In hindsight, I kinda wish I’d never enrolled in it. It wasn’t what I thought it would be and I feel like I’ve spent an awful lot of money on something that I’m never actually going to use. I’m also a bit unclear on what I was supposed to be learning. It was nothing like my Journalism Grad Dip, where I felt I learnt plenty and developed some pretty useful skills from it

But it did give me the chance to research and write an article about women cyclists in Melbourne, an idea I had when I was doing my grad dip but couldn’t pursue because I couldn’t prove my premise (that the numbers of women riding had increased). I took a slightly different tack to be able to properly research it and I’m actually really proud of the article I wrote. It’s called Chasing Joy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I felt so directionless with my research project that I had to do to complete my masters. This feeling wasn’t helped by me really not wanting to do it in the first place and decided that the whole thing was a massive, massive waste of time (and money).

I think the only reasons I didn’t totally bomb out was because I could chose what I wanted to research and do a thing called creative practice where you make an “artifact” instead of writing a thesis. So I decided to write an article about women’s cycling in Melbourne, which ended up being the longest thing I’ve ever written. (According to Medium, where I published it, it’s a 15 minute read. That’s a long when you consider that most articles can be read in 3 – 5 minutes).

But what I didn’t know when I started this process was that I would have to write an exegesis which is really a thesis by another name. Together, the article and exegesis were 10,000 words. It was such a slog and this is reflected in the grade I got – which was a Credit.

The other reason I didn’t give up and hand in something completely half-arsed was because I really liked my academic supervisor and I didn’t want to disappoint him.

It was agreed by all (including me) that my article was far superior to my exegesis. I could’ve done better, I should’ve but I didn’t. That’s on me. Eh…

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I got gastro in February from Juno. That was not fun. I’ve been pretty well this year. A few sniffles, the usual aches and pains but on the whole, I’ve been good. Still wondering exactly how I’ve managed to avoid getting Covid-19 but I have. The second Pfizer jab certainly put me on my arse for a few days. Got my Moderna booster just before xmas and that left me with an incredibly sore arm and feeling low-grade crappy for about five days.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

So, this is Bertie the Belgie.

Bertie is a 50cm titanium Curve Belgie V3 with:
Curve Race 370 fork
Curve GT4 – 35mm wheels with Continental Grand Prix 5000 28cm tyres
SRAM Force AXS eTap 12sp groupset
ZIPP bars and stem

What does this all mean? It means he was expensive. And he’s the best bike I’ve ever ridden.

I decided at the start of the year I wanted a new bike and I started saving. I then decided I wanted to get my new bike for my 50th birthday, which gave me a date to work towards. The thing is custom builds are expensive (generally well over $10k for a complete bike) and the wait lists are looooong so I might not have enough money to start the process and get the bike built by my own timeline. Dilemma!

Then I came across Curve Cycling who specialise in titanium and steel bikes. They cost less then a full custom build but I was still looking at just under $10k. Perhaps still not achievable.

Second week of November, a post for a Curve Belgie V3 appeared in a buy/sell/swap group on Facebook. The owner was one of the women who works at Curve but she decided she wanted a mountain bike instead so she decided to sell her Belgie to fund it. She wanted $8k which sounds a lot but she’d only ridden the bike about 400kms so I was buying an essentially new bike. (But she’d ridden it enough to do all the annoying bedding-in work.) It was too good an opportunity to pass up and thanks to Richard loaning me half, I bought Bertie within about an hour of him being listed.

Titanium seems to be a love it or hate it material for a bike frame. I had no idea what it would be like to ride so I was taking a huge gamble as I’d been riding a carbon fibre bike for eight years. But it was so worth it. The titanium makes for such a comfortable ride.

The road vibration has been significantly lessened, which is something I was looking for as I wanted to reduce the amount of discomfort I was experiencing thanks to my chronic pain and injuries. I thought I’d never be able to ride without experiencing a degree of pain but I was wrong. End of November, I managed to ride up Mount Buffalo with no pain at all and two days later, Mount Hotham with just a few twinges. The whole lack of pain thing was definitely helped along by getting a bike fit to ensure everything was at the optimal height/position for me.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Richard! For being cool with loaning me $4k from his own new bike fund so I could get Bertie. He’s a good egg 🙂

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Well, you can’t say our federal government has been covering itself in glory in 2021. You’d think they would’ve learnt from the mistakes with the vaccine roll-out but nope, here we are again with rapid antigen tests and PCR tests. It’s such a colossal clusterfuck.

At some point in 2022 there has to be an election. If Scotty from Marketing isn’t a complete moron he won’t do the unthinkable and force us to vote twice in one year as there has to be a half-senate election by May and a House of Reps election by November. But we all know there’s some fucking idiot advisor telling him that splitting the election is the way to not lose and he’s dumb enough to believe them. Elections are really expensive and the majority of Australians hate the hassle of having to vote. Making people do it twice? Not going to win hearts and minds.

14. Where did most of your money go?
See question 11.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to pick up Bertie. I was constantly checking my phone, waiting for the message to tell me he was ready to be brought home. No work got done that day.

16. What song will always remind you of 2021?
Eh…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Perhaps I will be neutral on this one.

ii. thinner or fatter? Sigh. Fatter.

iii. richer or poorer? Poorer! All of my savings went on Bertie, a choice I will never, ever regret.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Deep breathing. Six year olds are so very, very good at pushing buttons without ever realising what they’re doing.

Also, sleep. Being perimenopausal has totally screwed up my sleep. It started with mild night sweats about two years ago which were easy to ignore but they’d gradually gotten worse and worse until I got to the point every woman loves (not) of waking up saturated in sweat and desperately kicking the sheets off. It was worse in Winter because I’d get insanely hot, kick the covers off and then about a minute later I’d start shivering from the cold. Not fun.

Sleep disruption and deprivation are recognised forms of torture and now I have an inkling of why.

I’m on HRT now. Although it’s called Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT) these days because HRT is used for to any condition that require hormone replacement (which is extensive). For me personally, it’s been a life improver. However, I was also very realistic in my expectations of what it would and wouldn’t do and was hoping mostly for an end to the night sweats, which it’s pretty much done. I didn’t realise just how profound an effect the night sweats were having on my overall wellbeing until they eased.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Procrastination when it came to my research project. I took so long to get going, even though I knew it was going to be a slog. I finished my exegesis the day it was due in, which isn’t a good thing. I spent far more time on the article and it shows.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With Richard’s family. It was really nice to see them all. I think the last time we saw them was last Christmas so it’s been a long time between drinks.

21. What was your favorite month of 2021?
Definitely not September. And October.

22. Did you fall in love in 2020?
Nope.

23. How many one-night stands?
Unsurprisingly, none.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Wandavision and s2 of The Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian definitely wasn’t perfect but I really enjoyed it and of course I squee’d like the Star Wars fangirl that I am when Luke Skywalker appeared. Also intrigued by the Darksabre. What will Din Djarin do with it?

Wandavision… Well, we all know that show was totally stolen by the amazing Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness. I particularly liked the way it dealt with someone struggling with their mental health. The analogy of her grief being like a wave that’s constantly knocking her over is on that can be used for mental health issues as well.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Well, Scott Morrison isn’t exactly my favourite person on the planet…

26. What was the best book you read?
Going with a comic this time… Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden. It was the last volume published by Dark Horse before Stan Sakai switched to IDW Publishing. They’re colouring his comics now but I’m not sure about that. There was something so pure about them being black and white. But I shall keep reading of course. I’m too invested in the characters not to.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Meh.

28. What did you want and get?
See question 11.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Hands down, not even a competition… Dune.

Saw it at Imax. Just incredible. Denis Villeneuve took a complex, thought to be unfilmable book and filmed it.

Funnily enough though, I though it suffered from exactly the same story problems as David Lynch’s version (which I happen to like). The time line isn’t clear, especially when compared to the book. We didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Lady Jessica and the Shadout Mapes is a quick sketch, when in the book she’s a quite important character. And we also spent very little time with Doctor Yueh but the time we did spend was kinda enough. Kinda. More would’ve been better.

Villeneuve copped some flak for casting Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho but I thought it was an inspired choice. He brings a lightness to the scenes he’s in but he’s also intensely ferocious in his protection of Paul. His fighting sequences were easily the best. Although the bout between Paul and Guerney was also incredible. The shields looked exactly how I pictured them in my head whilst reading the books – a shimmer that fades in and out.

And goodness, Stellan Skarsgård was channeling Brando in Apocalypse Now. But in a good way.

Villeneuve is definitely laying the groundwork for at least the second book, Dune Messiah, to be filmed. But after that one, the books go a bit weird. I finished God Emperor of Dune but it really did my head in so I decided I needed a break from the House Atreides, the spice and Arrakis. I understand the message Frank Herbert was trying to get across in the Dune books but God Emperor was just flipping weird and got bogged down in its own mythology. I’m currently making my way though Heretics of Dune, which is turning out to be an improvement after the weirdness and aimlessness of God Emperor.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
It was another lockdown birthday for me. Richard did make me dinner though and he made my favourite: eye fillet with mushroom sauce, potato gratin and some green veg. This year I decided to treat myself to an ice cream cake in an attempt to get over the disappointment of not doing what had been arranged – which was a long weekend at The Lakehouse in Daylesford. There may have also been an exceptional bottle of wine.

I turned 49.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
For there not to be a global pandemic?

Life would also be a good deal less stressful if everyone just wore their masks properly. It doesn’t count if it’s not covering your mouth AND your nose.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?
A repeat of 2020? T-shirts and tracksuit pants. Just like everyone else.

34. What kept you sane?
Accepting the fact that I was languishing just like everyone else was. But I still struggled quite a bit. I really felt I was failing as a parent, failing as a partner because I was pushing so much of the homeschooling onto Richard and definitely not achieving much at work either. 2021 was an incredibly difficult year. The sixth lockdown was the hardest one of all.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Eh…

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
These idiotic anti-[insert something here] protesters. Make up your fucking minds about what you’re protesting about. And stop telling people to dO tHeiR oWn ReSEarCh! when it’s so godamn obvious you don’t actually know that means.

All these people banging on about their RIGHTS!!! but totally failing to understand that rights come with responsibilities. And how did these idiots decide to stand up for their rights? They pissed on the Shrine of Remembrance.

37. Who did you miss?
To be honest, I don’t know. Everyone I guess. Being in lockdown so much has made me even more socially withdrawn and inept. I’m finding it hard to readjust. Plus the latest Covid numbers kinda back my stance of as few social interaction as possible.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Hah… you have to actually leave the house with some degree of regularity to meet new people.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2021.
To quote Bluey: I don’t want a valuable life lesson. I just want an ice cream.

But seriously, if in doubt, watch Bluey. If nothing else, it’ll cheer you up.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Meh…

72 months later…

It’s still kinda strange to think that this time six years ago, I was in hospital having just had a baby (which is why this was published at 5:14pm – the time Juno came into the world).

Juno is now a school girl. She started prep this year and it’s been an experience to say the least. Big changes for us all. We think Juno quite likes it but she doesn’t talk about it much. She’s much more keen to talk about after-school care, which she really enjoys – probably because it’s just like childcare and she’s free to play as much as she likes. Plus, they give her food which she’s rather keen on. (We’ve learnt to give her less food at dinner when she’s been to after-school care.)

We’re guessing she’s going along okay at school. We haven’t been called in for any chats or anything so she’s not acting out or anything. Not that Juno was ever one to act out. She has her moments but on the whole, she’s a pretty calm child. I don’t think she’s formed any close friendships as yet but she had a pretty good turn out at her birthday party in the park. I guess my experiences at school (pretty much all bad) make me want for her to have the opposite one.

Interestingly enough, it doesn’t seem to bother her much. If she wants to play with some of the other girls, she does. But she’s also content to do her own thing too, which I think it’s a really valuable skill to have. Having confidence to do your thing from a young age is a good thing to have.

We keep thinking we should sign her up for dance classes because she loves to dance but we both wonder how that would actually go. She loves making up her own little dance routines and I’m not sure she’d appreciate being told what to do. She’s very definite about what she wants to do. Sending her to dance classes might not be the best option as we don’t want anything to squash that individualism she has, which is pretty awesome.

So, yeah… Juno is six. Happy birthday bubba boo.

Juno’s please face. (Yes, it’s a Bluey reference.)




Butter wouldn’t melt…

2020 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?
Bought a bunch of face masks, including two awesome Star Wars ones the day before mask rules were relaxed in Melbourne. I definitely don’t love wearing them (who does?) but they do help me feel less anxious about going to the supermarket or other crowded places.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
To repeat what I always say… I never bother with them. You can decide to makes changes any time you want. It’s up to you if you stick with them, the time of year makes no difference at all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Remarkably in this year of global pandemic, no. How lucky am I?

5. What countries did you visit?
Bit tricky to go anywhere when your federal government closes your country’s borders. But regardless of that, there were no plans to go anywhere anyway as no one has a valid passport at the moment.

6. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
I’m actually a bit stumped by this question. For me personally the last three months of 2020 were actually pretty good (got a job, excellent grades in my Masters subject) so I’m not sure what I could add to make 2021 better.

But for society in general, I hope that we managed to get Covid-19 under control and that a degree of normality returns. However, I hope it’s movement towards a new normal where there is equality and fairness for all.

7. What date from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 26. On my birthday (Aug 25), I had a job interview and I wasn’t expecting to hear anything for a few days. But at about 9:30 the following day, I got the call to say I’d gotten the job. It’s the fastest I’ve ever heard back about a job. It was very gratifying.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a job. Also, riding up Falls Creek and Mount Buffalo back-to-back. Usually I’d put a day between two big efforts like that but this year our trip to Bright was shorter so there wasn’t much choice if I wanted to do the rides.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Juno probably watched far too much TV when we were in lockdown. But we are definitely not unique in this. Sometimes, you just have to take the path of least resistance.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Couple of weeks ago I developed a middle ear infection. Blimey, they hurt! I didn’t feel sick, have a temperature or anything else. My ear just hurt, a lot. A round of antibiotics made it go away.

I also got probably the worst cold I’ve had in ages in July. My head was ridiculously congested and I was sick for 11 days. But the thing I’m most annoyed about is the cold finally broke my six month run of consistently riding every week.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I went on a bit of a splurge when I got my job and bought myself some new cycling kit. There was stuff I actually needed (like new gloves and bib shorts) but I did indulge myself a bought a new jersey too.

I also finally bought a new pair of red heels from the brand who made the shoes I got married in. I love my wedding shoes but I have accepted they are now a size too small so I shouldn’t really wear them as they’re bad for my feet. (But you all know I do occasionally right?)

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Every single essential worker who turned up for work this year. The staff at our hospitals did such an amazing job in what could have only been incredibly frightening and stressful circumstances, especially when they started to get sick too. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like trying to save people who they knew deep down weren’t going to make it. But they tried anyway.

Also mad props to the cleaners. They faced the same risks but they still turned up to work at a time when their work suddenly got far more complicated and necessary.

I’m gonna go there… Dan Andrews. Yes, massive, massive mistakes were made. The Victorian Government is responsible for the second wave here. However, Dan had the guts to force change at the federal level when it really did look like ScoMo was going to follow Trump’s direction and downplay it all. We owe him because if he and Gladys Berejiklian hadn’t acted as one in March, I imagine there would’ve been so many more deaths and people in hospital – but that doesn’t excuse him for passing the buck when it came to hotel quarantine.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Our federal politicians haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory. The political point-scoring against what happened here in Victoria was disgusting. Both Greg Hunt and Josh Frydenburg are fucking Victorians but neither of them could help sticking the boot in. Apparently it was “We’re all Victorians now” until it became more politically expedient to attack. It was truly vile behaviour and I really hope the constituents of both Flinders and Kooyong remember this when the next federal election rolls around.

14. Where did most of your money go?
See question 11.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The day Juno returned to childcare at the end of September. It had been two and a half very, very long months and I was about to start my new job. She was sick of us, we were sick of her. Going back to childcare was such a blessing and she’s thrived being back there.

16. What song will always remind you of 2020?
This.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Right now, happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Tiny bit thinner I think. But you wouldn’t know it.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer! Well, I’ve gone from having no money to having some money which is quite the novelty.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I probably should’ve spent more time playing with Juno but I’m more than aware that I’m simply not interested in doing so. Some mothers are totally happy to get down on the floor and play to their kids’ heart’s content but I am not one of them. Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure but I also think that her learning to entertain herself is good thing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being so irritated with Juno. A large part of it is because I’m now most definitely peri-menopausal and it can be really hard to manage my emotional responses when she’s being a pain in the arse. Like all five year olds, she can be incredibly irritating and seems to know how to push all of my buttons. Having said that, she’s a child and I’m meant to be the adult. Flying off the handle doesn’t help anyone.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent Christmas with my mum, dad, sister, brother-in-law and their three kids. It was pretty great to see them all after not seeing my sister and her family since the start of the year. Juno has really missed her cousins.

21. What was your favorite month of 2020?
This is one year where no one could possibly have a favourite month, especially those ones we spent in lockdown that felt like they were about billion days long, each.

22. Did you fall in love in 2020?
Nope.

23. How many one-night stands?
Unsurprisingly, none.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Binge-watching The Mandalorian was pretty good. Turned it in my favourite Star Wars movie.

And along with everyone else, I really, really liked The Queen’s Gambit. Still don’t understand chess at all but I found the story fascinating. There were cries of it not properly showing the degree of sexism she faced but I actually thought they did it in a more subtle way by her constantly being underestimated by her male opponents (and their petulant behaviour when they lost). Better than being beaten over the head with the message. There is definitely a touch of “black saviour” in Joelene but I loved, loved, loved Moses Ingram in the role and I think she did brilliantly with her limited screen time, so much so I felt she totally stole the scenes she shared with Anya Taylor-Joy.

Also quite liked His Dark Materials. I’m a huge fan of the books but it took me quite awhile to watch this. The casting of Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter was pure genius. I also really like the casting for Carlo Boreal which was the exact opposite of how he was described in the books (kinda brilliant move there). More importantly, they got the panserbjørn right.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
The fucking morons who decided the Shrine of Remembrance was a great place to stage a protest are pretty low in my good human being stakes. One thing I found particularly abhorrent was how all the anti-mask protesters were bleating about living in a dictatorship. Uh, no. Just… no.

26. What was the best book you read?
This year I’ve really needed the comfort of favourite books and favourite authors so I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett novels for pretty much the whole year. His books are so comforting to me whilst also being hilarious, well-written and quite snarky.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
See question 16. And also this.

28. What did you want and get?
A job! I got a well-paying, part-time job in the middle of a global pandemic. I was rather chuffed.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Hhmm… fairly certain I didn’t even make it to a cinema this year. But I’ve already got my ticket for Wonder Woman 1984. It’s getting some pretty uneven reviews but we shall see.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I had a lockdown birthday so Richard cooked me dinner. We had eye fillet with mushroom and red wine sauce, potato gratin and I think it was broccoli for greens. Richard also bought a tub of ice cream from Messina (pistachio praline and choc chip). We opened one of our Crittenden Estate 2012 Cri de Coeur Pinot Noir – turned out it was a little too early for it be opened but it was still pretty good.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
For there not to be a global pandemic?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?
Strong in the tracksuit pants and t-shirt vibe, just like everyone else.

34. What kept you sane?
I know I always say this but yet again, it’s been my bike. Cycling is my main way of managing my mental health so if I don’t ride, I go a bit wonky, brain-wise. I guess I’ve learnt that everyone has a thing and cycling happens to be mine.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Eh…

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I took a real interest in the US elections but I think everyone did but the political issue that stirred me the most was Josh Frydenburg tweeting about how worried he was about the mental health of Victorians during lockdown. What an absolute joke. The federal government has done nothing to help Australians with mental health issues. If anything, they’ve actually made it harder for people to get treatment by consistently under-funding the mental health sector and, in some cases, cutting funding to services. It was disgusting to see Frydenburg in particular tweeting about this when he’s from Victoria and should’ve been doing all he could to help us. But he didn’t. He used the issue for political point scoring, which is reprehensible.

And then there was ScoMo all the way back at the start of year, using the bush fires as a photo op. Forcing people to shake his hand so he could attempt to sell the idea that he actually gave a shit about the people who’d lost everything when we all knew he didn’t. Because remember… “I don’t hold a hose, mate”.

37. Who did you miss?
My parents. It’s been a very long year without my mum’s regular trips to Melbourne and not being able to go see them. If nothing else, I’ve learnt this year just how much my mum’s level of involvement in Juno’s life matters.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Khanh, my team lead and the rest of my team. They’re all really nice people and Khanh is so supportive.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.
That when we want to, a large metropolitan area can actually act as one community. Around five million people live in Melbourne and the majority did the right thing to protect the more vulnerable members of our communities. It was an encouraging thing to experience.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Meh…

66 months

So, Juno is five and a half.

To get here has been a pretty crazy ride, especially this year. She and I both had iso birthdays. Instead of the outdoor BBQ at the local park for her, we had a small party over Zoom so her extended family could sing her happy birthday. I think it went okay but it’s hard to tell with a five year old.

She liked the cupcakes I made so I’ll take that as a win.

(I made six, they were all individually coloured with pink icing as per her request. There were unicorn cupcake patty tins and unicorn cake decorations. I discovered I really need to get a cupcake tin for baking because mine sprawled. They went out instead of up!)

While we haven’t minded not paying childcare fees, it’s been a tough few months. I feel like I haven’t really measured up as a parent when it comes to meeting Juno’s needs. I think I’ve discovered I’m not a “natural” parent, it doesn’t come easily to me. I’m constantly stumped for ideas to keep her entertained so I quickly give in to her demands to watch TV. I was so glad when it was announced childcare was being reopened for all children because at least that way she would be in the company of other kids again and not in front of the TV.

However, I don’t think anyone was equipped to deal with what we’ve been through this year so we’re definitely not alone in the child watching too much TV stakes.

Anyhoo…. Juno is enrolled at our local primary school for next year. Thankfully it’s got a decent reputation because we totally phased on this and it was well past the official enrolment period before we actually did anything. Ooops. But it’s not like we’ve ever done this before. And the rules say the school must enrol her because it’s the closest to us so we’re all good. Again, it hasn’t been a normal year. At all.

We’re lucky though. We’ve avoided getting sick thus far, Juno is a happy kid who’s growing up so fast. Much to be thankful for.

Yeah, when this happens the photo session is most definitely over.

Snick

Snick.

Sarah’s head jerked upright.

Snick.

It was the first sound she’d heard in hours apart from her own breathing.

Snick.

Now it was behind her.

Snick.

There was something vaguely threatening about the noise. Her heart raced as she realised it was switchblade being repeatedly snapped into place.

Snick.

Sarah’s blindfold irritated her nose but she couldn’t scratch because her hands were tied behind her back. She licked her lips and focused on the sound.

Snick.

Her back screamed for relief from the position she was in. Her neck had cramped hours earlier and had become a dull throb. She frowned and tried to piece together what had happened. She had been walking to her car after work when someone had grabbed her from behind. A needle had been roughly shoved into her arm and the next thing she knew she was tied to a chair, blindfolded. Her arm ached from where the needle had gone in and she longed to rub it.

Snick.

She tried to speak but no words came out. Her mouth was so dry. She tried again. “Hello?” The words came out as a hoarse whisper. Sarah strained to hear any movement around her. She heard the scuffing of shoes on the concrete floor.

Snick.

A sigh. It was close to her left ear. She shivered.

“Sarah, Sarah, Sarah.” She followed the voice as it moved around her. “You’re so beautiful Sarah.” Another sigh close to her face. She smelt a faint sickly sweet scent as footsteps walked around her.

Snick.

A tear slipped down her face. “Please don’t…” she whispered.

“Please don’t what, Sarah? What do you want, Sarah? Do you want to see Sarah? Would you like to get up, Sarah?” A hand wrapped itself around her throat and forced her head back. Tears soaked into Sarah’s blindfold.

“Please don’t…” she sobbed. Sarah could feel breath on her face then the grip on her neck was released. Her head fell forward and she sobbed uncontrollably.

“Don’t what, Sarah? Why are you crying, Sarah?” The voice came close to her ear and whispered, “Are you afraid, Sarah?”

She tried to pull away. “Who are you? Why are you doing this to me?”

Sarah’s head rocked backwards from the force of the slap. “Learn this right now.” The blade of the knife pushed against her throat. “You are mine to do with as I please. I set the rules. You will do as I say.” The blade was removed as quickly as it had appeared. The voice whispered in her ear

“But Sarah, you shouldn’t be afraid. You’re so beautiful Sarah. Would you like to see Sarah?”

Sarah squinted as the blindfold was removed. She struggled to focus on the form in the glare. The human-shaped shadow moved closer to her and she realised who her captor was.

Sarah screamed.

Predator

The beast raised its head and sniffed the wind. It could smell her just up ahead. Crossing the bridge, passenger from a departing train.

Defenceless.

Slow.

Prey.

He swallowed, his mouth wet with anticipation. The beast in him clamoured, desperate to be heard. Get her, get her, get her. We must have her, own her, rip her, devour her. Have her, want her, have her! He tried to block out the voice. It was too public, too many people, too likely to be caught. He had to wait and the beast had to learn how to be patient.

The beast gnashed its teeth and growled but in the end, listened to reason. The games (oh, those glorious, messy, red games!) would end if they weren’t cautious. He slipped quietly up the stairs behind her and watched as she made her way over the covered bridge to the other side. Nothing magic about her, nothing special. Just a middle aged woman making her way home after a day at work. On the train, she’d be anonymous – just another passenger.

But to the beast, she was lush, tasty and ripe for the picking.

The beast murmured in his ear, tone seductive now, promising games and satisfaction. He couldn’t help but close the distance between them a little. Her scent drifted back to him, sharply increasing his appetite. He crossed the bridge quickly. She was almost at the bottom of the stairs and he was struck with the concern that she could soon be out of reach. Get her, get her, get her. We must have her, own her, rip her, devour her. Have her, want her, have her! Licking his lips, he watched her walk through the train station car park. Would the game be over so soon? What if she got into a car?

He faltered at the top of the stairs, trying to hide in the minimal shadows. The beast wanted to take over, run down the stairs and chase her down. But his sense of self-preservation stopped him  – it was too risky, too bright. All he could do was watch and allow her to escape.

He pushed his hands into his jacket pockets and turned away.

Now we are five

Today Juno is five years old.

Five!

It’s the not the day we were planning.

We had ideas of having yet another BBQ at the park, just like last year. I would’ve made a cake and we’d all sing happy birthday to the excited birthday girl. Then she’d get to blow out the candles.

It feels like a significant number, although I’m not 100 per cent sure why. Perhaps because it’s half a decade and it certainly doesn’t feel like it was five years ago that she came into the world. Time is tricky like that.

But global pandemics tend to put a cramp on any plans that were being considered. We’re lucky though. We’re all together, we’re all well and we don’t have the concerns that so many others do. It’s just unfortunate that coronavirus struck in the year that Juno was actually aware of what her birthday meant and she was quite excited by the prospect of having a party. But if that’s your biggest concern in life, I’d say you’re winning.

Instead of being surrounded by family and friends, it’ll have to be electronic party instead. Happy birthday will be sung by her family via a zoom meeting and there will still be candles on a birthday (cup)cake to blow out. But as it’s a cupcake, there will be just one candle which will hopefully not set fire to the cupcake decorations I got.

There will be time enough for plenty of birthday parties.






2019 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?
Quitting a job, effective immediately. When I’ve quit jobs before I’ve always given the required notice. I’ve never quit and then walked out on the same day.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
To repeat what I said last year (and probably the year before) I never bother with them. You can decide to makes changes any time you want. It’s up to you if you stick with them, the time of year makes no difference at all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully no.

5. What countries did you visit?
Sigh. None. Have to renew my passport before I can go anywhere.

6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
A sense of purpose and direction? But I’d settle for a job.

7. What date from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 14. I turned up at my first ever journalist job, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and determined to make a real go of it. I thought it would be the making of me. I knew it would be hard and that I had so much to learn but I had no clue what I was in for.

Hence the next date that will be forever etched upon my memory:  March 15. This was the day I quit and walked out of that building at lunchtime to never go back. All of my beliefs and what turned out to be illusions about what being a journo was about were completely and utterly shattered.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Enrolling in a Masters of Communication at midyear. It’s the only decent decision I’ve made this year.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Hah… If I listed them all this would be a never-ending post. Suffice to say I was naive when it came to what I thought was my ideal career. Can’t wait for this year to be done so I can put it firmly behind me.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Apart from my mental health issues, I’ve had so many colds and too many migraines. I’ve also had an upper respiratory infection, sinusitis and I got stung by a bee at the end of November. Fun times.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I love, love, love my birds shirt that I bought from Min Found Ena in Northcote. It’s black and covered with white birds. I think it looks pretty good on me so I wear it a lot. I also got treated to a very awesome dress from another local designer just before xmas.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Pretty much anyone who’s under 18 and fighting for their future. They give me so much hope in a time when everything seems so hopeless. If I had my way, I’d chuck all the current batch of politicians out (with a few exceptions) and put the kids in charge. At least those kids don’t bother wasting their breath saying that we have to see all sides when it comes to climate change – which is the most idiotic statement of all time. There are no sides! Science says humans have had a profound effect on the climate and we only have a limited time to avert disaster.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Scott Morrison (I know he’s such an obvious target). He’s a truly terrible prime minister and politician. He’s leading the government of people who are only in it for themselves, which is detrimental to Australia and everyone living here. But there is also a lot of journalists out there who aren’t challenging him or his ministers and are giving the government a free ride which is disappointing to say the least.

14. Where did most of your money go?
I’ve had so little of it this year. I’m still pretty good at wasting what I’ve got though.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I got pretty excited about our annual Bright trip. I was aiming to ride up Mt Hotham but illness killed that idea. Still did plenty of riding and had a good time.

16. What song will always remind you of 2019?
Eh…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? in comparison to last year, sadder.
ii. thinner or fatter? a tiny bit thinner.
iii. richer or poorer? poorer. So much poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I’d been a better partner. Richard has put up with so much shit this year and it’s all been caused by my inability to make good decisions. I know we can’t see how things will turn out and there’s no way I could’ve known how the journo job would go but I feel I’ve really struggled to be a good partner to him, which is sad. And to be honest, everything has been a struggle, even getting off the couch. There were many days when I didn’t even want to ride my bike and everyone knows I usually always want to ride my bike.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Feeling so paralysed by indecision and spending too much time in my own head. I wish I’d been be able to better deal with my mental health issues but I’m not sure I was even depressed and that’s what my ‘treatment’ was based around. The way I felt was so different from how I’ve felt before. I simply couldn’t decide what to do with myself and that everything I was doing was wrong. It felt like every choice was a bad choice. When I did get a freelance writing gig, I totally screwed it up because I got so trapped inside my head.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With the in-laws.

21. What was your favorite month of 2019?
Didn’t have one this year.

22. Did you fall in love in 2019?
Nope.

23. How many one-night stands?
Unsurprisingly, none.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
The Mandalorin. Signed up to Disney+ to get it. Hasn’t disappointed. Love the fact that episodes are as long as they need to be and that each one is so complete. Love the music and the artwork they show at the end credits is amazing every week.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
That would require me to care enough about something.

26. What was the best book you read?
I really enjoyed The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I liked the idea of having three narrators to tell the story. I guess I’m fortunate because I wasn’t expecting another The Handmaid’s Tale but apparently so many people were and were left disappointed. I got what I wanted – which was to find out what happened next. I usually hate books written in the first person but Atwood is one of the few authors who does it really, really well.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
One day I’ll find something new. One day…

28. What did you want and get?
Apparently I’m shallow but I really, really wanted this dress and I was treated to it just before xmas.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Captain Marvel. Just loved it. I thought Brie Larson was great as Carol Danvers and I loved the buddy-movie vibe between her and Nick Fury. I also thought the plot twist was well done. It also has the best use of a song in a film in my humble opinion. The use of Nirvana’s Come As You Are was brilliant, just brilliant.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was taken to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We did it all in one day (on my actual birthday) so it included dinner at Cumulus Inc and a night in a hotel. The play was excellent and I really loved how good the stage craft was. I’d already read play and I did wonder how they were going to pull off some stuff. It was all very clever and the actors did a fine job.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
This is hard for me because the obvious answer would be to have found the right job and to be happily learning the ropes of being a journalist. But that’s so obvious. Too obvious? I don’t know.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?
Eh…

34. What kept you sane?
Went back on anti-depressants for a bit. Did another round of therapy. Still trying to work my shit out.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Meh.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I got pretty cranky about Scott Morrison doing so little about the fires in NSW and then nicking off to Hawaii for a holiday. I think what bothered me the most is that he keeps shoving his family out as a defence for going on holidays. He promised his daughters so he felt compelled to do it. He has such a tin ear.

37. Who did you miss?
Me. I have no feaken clue who I am at the moment. I feel like I’ve totally lost my sense of self and I feel utterly useless so much of the time.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
David and Florence, Juno’s kinder teachers and carers at childcare. It’s amazing to see how much she’s grown this year.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.
I don’t think I’ve learnt a valuable life lesson this year. I keep thinking that life and the universe doesn’t like me very much at the moment.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Eh…

F*ck Strava

So, I got all excited in the middle of November and posted this on my Facebook profile:

For a random, self-appointed goal, I was pretty excited to achieve it, especially in a year where I have achieved so little and failed at so much.

Then about two weeks ago, I noticed that my goal/stats distance didn’t match the distance in my training calendar so I got in touch with Strava to fix it, assuming that the calendar was wrong.

Turns out Strava had screwed my data up and the distance showing in my goal/stats wasn’t accurate. My real total mid-November was closer to 4,500km (which I worked out courtesy of my Wahoo Elemnt app and a calculator). I have no idea how they screwed it up so badly to give me an extra 500kms on my total but they did. I was so pleased to achieve my goal and finding out that I was labouring under a misconception has thrown me for six.

I know how stupid that sounds. It’s a random, meaningless goal that I set for myself. It shouldn’t bother me that I hadn’t actually gotten there when I thought I had. I mean, I’ve passed 5000km so I’ve achieved that goal. I’m currently at 5,247km so I should hit 5,500km before the end of the year.

Sigh.

Finding out that I hadn’t achieved something that I thought I had shouldn’t bother me at all. But it has. 2019 has been a pretty shit year for me and this is just one more thing on top of everything else. When you’ve spent months applying for jobs only to get three interviews, I guess you take solace in the small achievements and this was one of them for me.

I guess my other thing is that I’d decided that this year was going to be the year I actually rode up Mt Hotham on our annual Bright trip. But I developed a really annoying cough three weeks before going. I was pretty much ignoring the cough and determined to tackle Mt Hotham anyway as the cough wasn’t affecting my breathing and I actually felt fine. (You know there’s another but coming don’t you?) But then Richard got a cold the week we were going and he gave it to me the day we drove up. So that scuttled any hopes of attempting Hotham. (I still managed to ride up Mt Buffalo and Falls Creek so it’s not like I did nothing.)

Sometimes I think I put too much emphasis on my cycling. I put so much onto it and I expect and want it to help me out with my mental health issues. Maybe I’m expecting too much from it. I don’t know. I guess that in a year where I have achieved so little and made so many mistakes, hitting that stupid goal took on far more meaning than it should have. I wanted to prove to myself that I can still achieve things and that I have some worth.

It’s been a really shitty six weeks or so. First developing that annoying cough that simply wouldn’t go away. Then getting a cold so my body was fighting two infections. Got stung by a bee descending Falls Creek so add bee venom in my body on top of two separate infections. My cough turned into a wet, hacking cough and I ended up on antibiotics to try to avoid getting bronchitis – which I had enough times as a kid to never want to get it again. The antibiotics worked and my cough finally started to clear. Then I got sinusitis. Another trip to the doctor and another round of antibiotics. My head hasn’t been in the best place because it was the first anniversary of my nan’s death last week as well.

I can’t wait for this year to be over. It’s been a total shit-show and at the moment all I want to do is ride my bike, lie on the couch and watch movies while eating food that isn’t necessarily that good for me. And to be honest, who can blame me?