Author Archives: Lauren

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?

Someone is four and a half

My brother told me ages ago that parenting never really gets easier, it just gets different. And that’s so true. Being a parent to a pre-schooler is so different from being a parent to a baby. It’s such a huge adjustment to get used to.

I mean, a pre-schooler talks back to you and you can’t really negotiate with them.

Bribery works though. Discovered that one pretty quickly.

On the whole, Juno is a pretty laid back kid. She has her melt-downs but all kids do. We had a phase where they were happening less frequently which was nice but in the last month or two, they’ve been happening more frequently which is really frustrating. I had been lulled into a false sense of security because I thought she’d gotten a better handle on her emotions.

I guess that means she’s a perfectly normal child. I know I don’t remember what I was like when I was four and a half but I’m guessing I didn’t have too great a handle on my emotions.

She’s pretty sassy and cheeky which has its moments of hilarity.

The grommets are out of her ears now so we’re hoping that’s the end of that. We want to her to start swimming lessons at some point and that’s an option now. Her speech is a million times better and she seems to be on track with her peers at childcare which is great. I do think there’s some very mild hearing loss though, although that may be selective hearing on her behalf.

Juno will do another year at kinder next year and start primary school in 2021. She could’ve gone next year but it’s obvious she’s not ready for school. Another year at kinder help with her emotional and social development so when she does go to school she’ll be 100 per cent ready.

And then…

I took Juno to the dentist this morning for a check-up, just like I did six months ago.

It’s not significant or important (except to find out how Juno’s teeth are) but it means that it’s been six months since I quit my job.

I don’t regret quitting. I do wish it had played out differently and that I was still there, getting the experience I need to get a job in a Melbourne-based newsroom.

Sigh.

I have some objectivity now and I can say I really didn’t like the person I was in those two months and I certainly didn’t like what it did to Juno. She was so unhappy and confused the whole time which, in turn, made everyone else unhappy. I accept that I should’ve been smarter about it and thought a good deal more before taking the job.

But I was so excited about getting a journalist job. Finally! My dream of being a journo and a writer was going to be fulfilled.

I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes you really shouldn’t get the things you believe you want, especially in today’s world where journos are treated no more than assets to sell advertising and there is little regard in senior management for the skill required to craft news articles.

Eh hem…

So, it’s been six months.

The day I quit, I told myself (and everyone else) that I’d have a few weeks off to rejuvenate myself and then I would go out to conquer the world!

Except that didn’t happen. The weeks have turned into months and I found myself incapable of doing anything. I simply couldn’t motivate myself to get moving or to make any big decisions at all. The only significant decision I made was to go back to uni to do a Masters.

Essentially I fell in a heap.

I didn’t even really want to ride my bike and that’s usually something I always want to do. It took me quite a while to admit to myself that I was depressed, exhausted, physically and mentally tapped-out. I had nothing left to give and no way to make myself do anything.

Unlike my other experiences of depression, I didn’t feel like all the colour had been sucked out of the world. This time, it’s more about being unable to find the spark to motivate me, to get me moving. I couldn’t summon up the energy to do anything except what I absolutely needed to do. I have never felt so apathetic before.

Of course, one of the hardest things about depression is admitting that’s where you’re at. It’s an insidious disease that traps you in a cycle of feeling unmotivated, sad and unable to move or do anything.

After three months, I finally took myself to see my GP who gave me a script for anti-depressants and a mental health plan so I could see a therapist.

I went into therapy with the approach of being determined to sort it out within the six sessions. This depression has felt different from my prior experiences so I figured maybe a more aggressive approach would work.

And I guess it did.

In one session I brought up the concept of the waiting place which is mentioned in Dr. Seuss’ The Places You’ll Go. In the book, it’s not necessarily a good place to be. My interpretation is that it’s a useless space where nothing happens. I felt like I was well and truly stuck in the waiting place and I, at the time, could only see it as a negative thing.

However, my therapist (who is a Gestalt practitioner) told me about a similar concept called the fertile void. It’s also a place of waiting and even nothingness. The difference with this interpretation is that it takes on a positive spin. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have time to do nothing. It can be a time to restore your energy and get ready for the next big thing that’s coming along. It’s a small thing but it helped me.

I also came to realise that a lot has happened to me in my 40s. I’ve done things that most people would take 10 to 15 years to do but I’ve done them all in about six. It does feel like my life has been progressing in fast-forward. I guess I haven’t really stopped to take stock because I haven’t had the time. The best way to describe is that it feels like my life has been one great big constant Andthen.Andthen.Andthen.Andthen.Andthen.Andthen…

When you throw a small child into the mix whose demands have gone from being very physically based to way more emotionally based, it gets even more complicated. I found myself in a place where I had very little to give and it was all going to Juno.

I still feel like I’m in the waiting place but these days I feel more positive about it. At some point, things will improve and start to go my way. Things have been a bit shit but with some help, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

208 weeks, 48 months, 4 years

One day you wake up and you have a four year old.

FOUR!!

There is much truth to the saying the days are long but the years are short. It feels like only yesterday that she was being born.

I’m not sure where all the time has gone.

Juno is definitely a handful these days. She has already developed selective hearing and will ignore us if she wants to. It’s… frustrating. I hate having to repeat myself and then having to use that tone to get her to stop whatever it is that she’s doing which possibly involves her injuring herself. Sigh.

However, she is a pretty amazing little kid. She has this thing of using her hands and/or feet as characters and she gets them talking to each other. It’s hilarious! The stuff that she comes up with is so imaginative and funny. Often she’ll just come out with the craziest stuff, like there’s a dragon on the other side of the door but it’s okay because she’s a happy dragon and is playing with her (Juno’s) slippers. Which are shaped like unicorns by the way…

Hilarity often does ensue around here but most of the time I’m left in awe of how creative and imaginative she is. And how frustrating pre-schoolers can be. You can’t negotiate with a four year old. You really can’t. I’ve discovered that bribes work though.

Anyhoo… happy birthday to my little rockstar who, I’m certain, is going to change the world one day.

Well, that didn’t last long

I started work at a rural non-daily newspaper on January 14. By March 15 I’d had enough and quit.

Pretty dramatic hey?

I went into the experience all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I truly believed that this would be the job to put me on the path to becoming a journalist. I’d do at least a year, put in the hard work, develop my skills and then find myself a journo job in Melbourne. After all, I knew that country papers can make careers. I’m not afraid of hard work. Nor am I afraid of getting out of my comfort zone. I thought I was focused enough and driven enough to be successful and to make this job work for me.

I was so wrong. I was so, so, so naive and idealistic.

It came as a huge shock when I discovered just how much influence advertising had over editorial. The head of advertising gives every new journo “the talk” and in it, he tells these new journos that they have to see every story, every interview, every person as an opportunity to sell advertising space in the paper. This is pretty much the opposite of what I very naively thought newspapers were about. After receiving said talk, I felt like I needed a shower.

Being a non-daily (the paper was published once a week on a Wednesday), I was the only journo working there. My editor was in Echuca, my mentor was in Benalla. I was on my own every day and had to make editorial decisions about what went in the paper and deciding the layout for each week. These are not tasks usually given to a cadet journalist, let alone one who had just graduated from her course.

But I figured I had enough life experience to be getting on with the job and my prior web design experience came in incredibly handy when it came to doing the layouts. Turns out spending time working out how web pages should fit together does have broader applications.

I lasted about a month before I decided to start looking for another job. I was exhausted, frazzled and contemplating going back on anti-depressants because I was so anxious. I dreaded my alarm going off each morning, I would wake up and feel sick to my stomach because of what I was about to put myself through.

I was being paid for 38 hours a week but realistically I was doing somewhere between 45 – 55 every week with no hope of being paid overtime (it says in their business documentation that they don’t pay overtime, employees get time in lieu instead but the manager/editor had to approve it so there was no guarantee of getting anything for the extra effort). My take-home pay was barely above minimum wage, so low that it was below the threshold to pay back my HECS debt. I had to work on the weekends because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have enough stories to fill the paper. It was like having a major assignment due every single week.

There was never enough time in the day and add to that I was travelling five hours to and from work each day…

I know it was my choice to take the job. I should’ve done my research, I should’ve asked around. I had no clue just how much of a sweat-shop country papers were, especially the little non-dailies which usually only have a single journo. I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into. I didn’t realise I’d be responsible for the layout and that I would be making editorial decisions. I didn’t realise I’d have sole responsibility for an entire paper. Admittedly it was only 24 pages and I was responsible for just 15 of them. It sounded doable, it sounded like something I could achieve. And I was so very wrong.

It all started to go a bit pear-shaped when I decided to run a story and a page of photos about the opening of a new local brewery. As far as I was concerned, it was a good news story for the area and something that people would want to know about. The place had been project-managed and built by locals and you’d think it would be a natural fit for the paper. But no, the brewery hadn’t booked any ads and according to the head of advertising I should have put in a tiny story with one or no photos. However, he didn’t say anything to me directly about it. He just bitched to everyone else.

The straw the broke the camel’s back was finding out that Mr Head of Advertising had flat-out lied to my editor about me. He told my editor that I had refused to go out to a fire to cover it. Problem is that I had been to the CFA District 12 head office and talked to the incident controller and the comms person and they both said they weren’t taking media to the site and that if I went, I wouldn’t be allowed in. So I didn’t waste my time driving out there, especially when I knew there was only one way in and one way out so I was guaranteed to get stopped and turned around. Why would I waste my time? Especially considering it would’ve been 45 minute to hour long trip for nothing. Bit of a difference between respecting what the people in charge of fighting the fire had said and refusing to go out there don’t you think?

What really upset me was that my editor was so flippant about it. He really didn’t seem to care that another person had told him a lie about one of his staff members. He simply said that I was supposed to ignore what the CFA had said and go out there anyway. He would’ve known how angry I was but he was just so blase about it.

So that was it. For the first time in my life I quit a job without having one to go to. I have never done anything like this before. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve done but the strong sense of relief I felt walking out of that office for the last time simply reinforced that I’d made the right choice.

I could’ve easily titled this post how to make your toddler hate you in one easy step. One of the main reasons I had already started looking for another job was because of the effect it was having on Juno.

Juno doesn’t tell us she loves us but what she does say is that one of us is her best friend. I was pretty high in the best friend stakes for ages but as soon as I started this job, Daddy became her best friend and it stayed that way until recently. Even Grandma and Grandpa had turns at being her best friend but it was never me. It’s such a silly little thing but it hurt.

I didn’t know that Juno could recognise the letters in her name. I didn’t know she understood what numbers meant (at least up to five). I didn’t even know she’d succeeded in getting her shoes on and off by herself. So many little things that she’d mastered and I totally missed them because I was too focused on my stupid job. Two months isn’t a long time in the grand scale of things but when it comes to a toddler turning into a pre-schooler, it’s an eternity.

So now I’m left wondering what to do with myself. I really thought I wanted to be journalist but now I’m not so sure. The things I thought about journalism, the ideals I believed in got trashed in two months. I didn’t expect to told that I should take the paper’s advertising consultant with me to every interview I did and that I should look at every article as an opportunity to sell ad space. I didn’t think that’s what newspapers are about and what they were for. I didn’t realise I’d have to sell my soul to get ahead.

But I guess what it tells me is that I am moral person, I do have lines I won’t cross which I believe is a good thing.

I’m aware that what I experienced is nowhere near a normal cadet journalist experience. What makes it kinda worse is that I see awesome experiences my fellow students are having in their jobs. I wish I could have that experience but eh… there’s not much I can do about it now. I’ll find my way, I’ll find a job that’s right for me (and hopefully pays more than minimum wage).

2018 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
Interviewed people for articles. I found I really enjoyed doing it and I loved the whole process of taking what someone told me an turning it into an article that could be shared.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
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?
My grandmother. She was over 100 years old so it didn’t really come as a shock or a surprise but it was recent (only two weeks ago) and it’s proving hard for me to process. I feel bad because I’m not overly grief-struck by her death but she had lost so much in the last few years – her independence because she had to move into care, her freedom and, to a degree, her dignity (so many medical tests). When you think about it within that context, her dying is more like a kindness.

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
Albus Dumbledore

5. What countries did you visit?
Sigh. None. My passport has expired anyway.

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
A job. I’d like to have a job, doing something that I want to do.

7. What date from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
To be honest, this year has been one big blur so nothing stands out. There were times the only reason I knew which day of the week it was was because it’s on the tool bar of my laptop.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I should say successfully completing my grad dip in journalism but the thing I’m actually the proudest of is achieving my yearly goal to ride 6750kms in 2018, which I set for myself on Strava. I initially set a goal of 5oookm at the start of the year, thinking it would be a realistic goal but I hit that in September. I ended up extending it three times before finally settling on 6750kms. I hit that on xmas eve. It was just nice to achieve a challenge – even if it was a totally arbitrary one I’d set myself.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I think I could’ve worked harder in my course. I could’ve done better in audio visual journalism (for which I got a Credit). But it was a tough subject for me and I really hated being in front of the camera. When I looked at any footage of me all I could see was how much weight I’ve put on in the last year. I shuddered every time I had to watch myself. My lecturer kept saying that what we look like on camera isn’t what we look like in real life but I don’t know, a camera can’t make stuff up.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I went through a period where it would take me two or three goes to get up from the couch/chair/bed because I’d experience a horrendous stabbing pain down my back and in my right leg. Turns out I’ve developed sciatica due to a problematic disc (either grown a bone spur that’s pokes into the nerves when I get into the wrong position or the disc itself isn’t in quite the right place so it’s pinching the nerve). With some work and a better understanding of what was going on, it’s under control now and I’ve gone from having the pain numerous times a day to barely having an episode at all.

Also developed conjunctivitis in my right eye which then spread to the left one at the end of September. Couldn’t have happened at a worse time because it was when I had an important assignment due and found myself unable to use any of the equipment I needed to because it’s so contagious. My lecturer was very nice and gave me an extra few days so I could recover before borrowing the camera I needed to use. I was surprised at how much it hurt. My eyes were so irritated and I couldn’t use a computer or read for very long.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
All the stuff I bought from Velocio. They’ve become my go-to brand for my cycling kit. Their bib shorts are the best. They came up with a very clever design involving a zip for easier toilet stops which means I don’t have to essentially get undressed if I need to go to the loo. Might not sound like a big thing but you try going for a wee in the middle of winter when it’s around 5°C and you have to take your jacket/gillet and jersey off to get your bib shorts down! Those stretchy straps and the little zip on the back of the shorts make all the difference in the world.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
All those judges and lawyers in America who keep smacking down Trump’s insane executive orders. Now, that’s a man who needs to learn he’s not above the law.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
So many fails from our politicians. So many.

14. Where did most of your money go?
For someone who wasn’t working, I certainly managed to buy myself a lot of cycling gear. I also bought myself some really nice dresses and shoes.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
To be honest, this year has gone by in a blur and nothing stands out. It’s been an intense year which makes it hard for individual days or events to stand out in my mind.

16. What song will always remind you of 2018?
Eh…

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

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I feel like I’ve been remarkably selfish this year, focusing a lot on myself and what is good for me over what’s good for the other important people in my life. So I guess I feel that I should’ve been more present for Richard and Juno. I don’t think I’m a particularly brilliant mother. I get frustrated with Juno so often and I just wish she’d co-operate with me instead of making the small stuff so hard on occasion. But she’s just being a three year old and I’m expecting far too much from her. I guess I’m doing the best I can and I’m trying to be a good role model for her by showing her that just because I’m the mum I don’t have to give up everything I want, which has been the gold standard for mothering. Too often you see the mum looking drained, worn out and at the end of her tether because there’s no time for her. That’s not for this little black duck!

I guess in a lot of people’s eyes that makes me really selfish and a terrible mum but, eh… what I do care about what others think? I’ve got a pretty happy, healthy and smart toddler so I guess I’m not doing too bad.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Spend money that I really shouldn’t have. Far too much impulse buying for me this year, which means I burnt through money that I was meant to be saving for a custom bike build.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my extended family. It was hot and noisy.

21. What was your favorite month of 2018?
November. Mostly because I got heaps of riding in and rode up a few mountains as well.

22. Did you fall in love in 2018?
Nope.

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

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. It’s meant to be about the food but he did some incredible investigative journalism for someone who was “just” a chef. It was a good day when I discovered the show had been added to Netflix in Australia.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. I only have a finite amount of time and energy so why waste it?

26. What was the best book you read?
I reread a lot of Terry Pratchett novels, including the Tiffany Aching ones. I know a lot of people didn’t like the series after A Hat Full of Sky but I loved the books and think they are some of Sir Terry’s best. Every time I read The Shepherd’s Crown I can’t but think of how amazing Sir Terry was and how much he must’ve struggled against the Alzheimer’s that was slowly stripping him of his prodigious talent.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I’m not sure nursery rhymes and music for children counts as that great a musical discovery.

28. What did you want and get?
I guess in the end I really wanted my grad dip. Still waiting for the actual testamur to arrive in the mail because I didn’t go to the graduation ceremony. I did work pretty hard to achieve this but it’s still rolling around in my brain that I’m not 100% sure what I achieved. But it will be nice to see the certificate when it arrives – make it all official and everything.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I really enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody. It was nice to watch a bio film that wasn’t bogged down in scandal or emphasising one thing over another. It was about Freddie Mercury as a performer and how much he needed his band-mates to fully unleash his genius. Plus the music was fantastic and I can’t believe the amount of work they put into the Live Aid scenes.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I got taken away for a long weekend on the Morning Peninsula. We stayed a very fancy hotel which was located in a vineyard and had dinner on my birthday in the newest fancy restaurant on the Peninsula. The child was at home with grandma so the real treat was getting some adult time. I turned 46.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think I could’ve stood to be more organised when it came to my academic work. Quite a few things were left until the last minute when they shouldn’t have been. It probably would’ve reduced the amount of stress and anxiety I felt. But still, only one assignment was handed in after the due date and that was because of the bout of conjunctivitis.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
I have no clue. I don’t think I have one. Comfort is quite high on the list.

34. What kept you sane?
My bike. I made the decision to go off my anti-depressants in August so I’ve been managing my mental well-being with exercise. So far it’s working.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Joined the band wagon in thinking that Jason Momoa is a bit of alright (after finally watching him in Justice League where he was hilarious).

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I got rather irritated with Dutton for saying that Melbourians were afraid to go out for dinner because of roaming African youth gangs. And then Mattthew Guy tried to run his election campaign on a similar vein. What a load of garbage!

I’m definitely not denying that there’s something going on with African (usually South Sudanese) youth but to make it sound like everyone in Melbourne was locked up in their houses, totally terrified of one particular cultural group is about as racist as it can possibly get. But it was funny how the media failed to report on a riot in Lorne in January until The Guardian ran with the story. The perpetrators? A pack of drunk white boys.

37. Who did you miss?
Umm… to be honest, no one.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Deanne, my myotherapist. She chastised me for not stretching after riding, worked out what was going on with my back, diagnosed over-extended hip flexors and weak glutes as being one of my major issues when riding and has been working on getting me better since about the middle of the year. And she was right about the weak glutes, over-worked hip flexors and the not stretching.

It was after a session with her where I promised to stretch after riding that the pain I was experiencing while riding stopped being as severe. I thought that pain was normal for me when I rode my bike but she has convinced me that it’s not normal and that I can do something about it. The first time I rode without pain was amazing. And all because I’d started stretching (again).

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.
You’re never too old to chase your dreams.

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