The grass is riz.

Right. I think we all realise most of us aren’t going anywhere any time soon, so September is just a holding pattern.

I was supposed to be in Coolah this weekend, eating small country town Chinese and driving golf balls at the course where if you want to play a round, you just leave money in a box on an honour system.

I’ve decided to take a week off regardless, because sometimes not being at work is the best place to be.

I’m also going to try and crack the code of self care. I’m always sort of mildly surprised when I’ve got things on lock, and I’m genuinely in a pretty good headspace right now and not just in a “Holy shit, the entire world changed and I haven’t gone mad!” way, even if we weren’t in a pandemic, I’d say I’m going okay, thanks to my GP and Big Parma.

But.

I don’t sleep enough, I’m not even in the same ballpark as sleeping enough. I am sitting across town, looking at the ballpark through some binoculars.

I gotta learn to sleep.

I need to walk more. Before I dislocated my elbow, my walks were 7kms long and had steep inclines and sometimes involved jogging. One of the highlights of my year was when my walking buddy looked over as we jogged and said, “You look really coordinated!”.

Ignoring the fact that a few weeks later I fell face first into a hole, for a brief moment I was coordinated and it felt great.

I also need to learn to relax. Remember that feeling you’d get on a Friday afternoon when the school bell rang? That was the best feeling in the world and I don’t get that anymore. I did a lot of weekend work to be able to afford to live in Sydney and I think it broke the relaxing part of my brain and my brain thinks it’s a real party to lie on the couch, staring at the ceiling thinking about all the things I should be doing instead and then feeling guilty about it.

Obviously these aren’t things I can fix in a week, and I’ve even left out my whole thing about eating better because that’s so boring it might even put me to sleep, but you know, it’s good to just know what to focus on.

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been doing to keep sane-ish:

Taking photos within COVID restrictions. I can’t even tell you how frustrating it is knowing there are canola fields out there in bloom and I can’t get at them, so I’ve just been pulling over and jumping out to snap photos whenever something catches my eye in the triangle I drive between work, home and the supermarket.

Writing cards to kids. I have a friend with four kids and they’re just the best, happiest kids, so different from one another and every time I see them, they give me a drawing or a card, or some facts about space and they’re stuck at home, away from their friends and they can’t process what’s going on. For the younger ones, a huge chunk of their lives has been during the pandemic and even though you would assume it would be their norm, it isn’t and they’re struggling, so today I am dropping off some cards I wrote to them, because kids never get mail and mail is the best!

Spending time with my dog. Honestly, dogs. Big Pharma would be redundant if there were more dogs. Put dogs in charge of the country, give every human KPIs for hours playing fetch and giving belly rubs. It is very, very hard to feel bad when you have your arms around a dog.

Making playlists. I still buy a lot of CDs and vinyl and I buy directly from the artists where I can, which goes some way to helping the guilt I feel about how shit streaming services are for artists, and with that out of the way, I do use streaming services and I’ve been having fun making dumb playlists with titles like, ‘Julia’s Most Favourite-ist Hip-Hop’ and ‘Love Song Dedications for a Pandemic Generation’.

Welcome to spring, those of us in the great southern land. My best wishes to all of you in this sweetest of seasons, as we all ease ourselves into what we will make our best Hot Girl Summer in our own special ways x

Standard

Blue hotel, on a lonely highway.

I miss hotels.

Figueroa Hotel, Los Angeles

I miss arriving in a new town, that last five minutes before getting to a hotel when you drive a little slower, looking around for places to eat, a convenience store to pick up mixers and washing liquid, watching the locals walking to meet friends at places which have long ceased being a novelty to them.

The Glebe Apartments, Queenstown

I miss how neat hotel rooms are, how they have just enough towels and knives and forks for the number of people staying. I miss little shampoos and conditioners that I never use, but like rearranging so everything looks tidy. I miss showers where I don’t need to worry about the hot water, having no schedule and not needing to rush soaking in the bath with a magazine and a drink within arm’s reach.

Cottage on the Inlet, Porirua

I miss the lack of options when you’re living out of a suitcase. I miss leaving clothes discarded in hotel rooms so I can pack more books and bottles of spirits and souvenirs and weird sleeping aids you’re allowed to buy in other countries and pick up along the way.

Hilton Hotel, Portland, first night

I miss learning the tricks of ordering a drink in different countries. I miss meeting locals and sitting in groups talking about what’s surprised us about their town, or city, or country. I miss losing friends on a night out and finding them perched on a bar stool outside a club in old Vegas, checking people’s IDs while the bouncer is occupied bracing himself against being slammed by my best friend, a small but strong roller derbying journalist.

Hilton Hotel, Portland, second night

I miss how long drives on holidays feel like part of the adventure, rather than a chore. I miss making road trip mixes and planning songs or albums for specific legs of the trip. I miss resting my head against the car window and watching the lights of Phoenix sparking in the night, listening to Elvis. I miss how I’d always pictured Tori Amos singing ‘A Sorta Fairytale’ about a man in a desert and listening to it while driving into Death Valley and it felt exactly as I’d imagined.

Hilton Hotel, Portland, third night

I miss saving up strange coins and sitting on the floor in laundromats with a book while I wait for my clothes to finish. I miss how everything, even shopping for underwear feels strange and new when you’re somewhere you’ve never been. I miss going to the movies in different countries, standing for the national anthem in Thailand before watching a movie about the Holocaust, eating a tiny pizza while watching The Rum Diary in America.

The Signature at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas

I miss people watching: A young Russian woman in a pool in Thailand with the word ‘bitch’ tattooed across her lower back in gothic script, old men sitting eating hamburgers at a picnic table outside the lower petrol station in Coolah, which also serves as the local takeaway, families in Tamworth meeting in an Italian restaurant attached to a motel on the outskirts of town, gathering to celebrate a birthday, kids down one end of the table throwing ice at one another.

The Signature at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas

I miss driving alone and being able to pull over every time I want to take a photo. I miss passing my favourite property in between Orange and Wellington, a farm with a long drive, old cherry trees lining each side, trees which look spectacular when in blossom, and cold and foreboding in the winter.

Holiday Inn Express, Seattle

I miss knowing that any given moment on a road trip, no-one else knows exactly where I am. I miss taking a random exit on a freeway and pulling over to make sandwiches from the esky in the boot, wandering around while I eat and seeing a convenience store, Amish men picking up supplies, finding a pile of dusty marble covered composition books exactly like the ones I’ve seen in a million American movies.

Bryce View Lodge, Bryce Canyon City

I miss the satisfaction of packing the boot of a car like a game of Tetris. I miss packing a backpack to take out for the day: Camera, lip balm, water, tissues, gum, money. I miss cleaning out the car at the end of each day, keeping it fresh. I miss making sure I have everything I need at my fingertips in the car: A shirtless picture of a young Bruce Springsteen to hang from the rearview mirror, charging cables, a notebook to write down things I want to remember.

Bryce View Lodge, Bryce Canyon City

I miss small country town bakeries where everyone takes a second look at you because they know you’re not local. I miss knowing that I’m not local, not anymore, and driving past houses I used to live in as a kid, realising the intimidating hill of my childhood memories barely slopes.

The Historic Mayfair, Los Angeles

I miss coming home and unpacking my suitcase, washing all my clothes, finding space for all the new things I’ve brought back, seeing my dog, sleeping in my own bed in clean sheets. I miss being able to leave, so that I can come back and not feel like nothing has changed.

Shilo Inn, Medford
Standard

A small list of things to do by the end of the 2021.

Here we are, July, half-way through the calendar year and, in the Southern Hemisphere, wrapped firmly in the freezing embrace of winter.

My brain is keenly tuned to these kinds of markers, as though I’d have more success with things if I started or finished them in a quarter, or a season. If the last 18 months have shown us anything, it’s that everything can change very suddenly and the best laid plans aren’t any match for chaos.

For me, winter is the part of the year where I feel most trapped, and that feeling isn’t helped this year by not being able to drive somewhere even vaguely warmer. Being stuck at home with my elbow, and considering the distinct possibility that there could be further COVID lockdowns coming, made me realise I’ve barely touched the list of resolutions I made at the start of the year.

One of them can go straight in the rubbish bin and be set alight: I’m not going to be able to learn how to skip as fast as a boxer in the time it takes me to watch all the Rocky movies, not this year at least. Let’s revisit that in 2022, a year of twos, including two arms.

I would like to finish building my almost life-size JECKA corgi and I don’t see any reason why that can’t happen, besides the fact that if something isn’t staring me in the face I tend to forget it even exists.

I also really need to get smarter with my finances. I’m not terrible, I pay my bills on time, I pay more on my mortgage when I can, but I want to be in a place where I have a holiday fund, and can replace my carpet and buy a new lounge when my cat goes to cat heaven (sorry Wuz). I would like to build a life-size corgi and read The Barefoot Investor and get myself organised for a big year of saving next year (or this year! Why wait for an arbitrary date!).

I also want to do a garden plan. I want a nicer garden, my mum wants me to have a nicer garden, it would be nice for both of us if I had a nicer garden (my mother doesn’t live with me, she just has extreme levels of energy and very big opinions on gardens and I respect that, she has a gorgeous garden). Winter feels like a good time to work on that in time for spring, which seems like the logical time to plant stuff. I also want to pull down my retractable washing line and replace my mailbox as part of those plans.

A corgi, a financial plan and a great garden!

I want to fit in one more road trip this year. This one might be tricky, over the last few weeks I was supposed to be in Victoria and South Australia on an extended family road trip which I was desperately looking forward to, but which COVID and my own clumsiness put on hold.

If the family trip can’t go ahead before the end of the year, I want to fit in one more trip to Coolah, even if it’s just a long weekend. Coolah is definitely one of my weirdest favourite destinations, but it really is a great tiny town and the drive there is fantastic: long, straight stretches of road where you can wind the windows down and sing Jason Isbell real loud. My friends are leaving Coolah at the end of the year, so it’s probably the last time I’ll have reason to visit and I want to say my farewells.

Corgi, money, garden, travel.

I also want to reach the arbitrary goal of reading 52 books this year. I’m a little behind, due to the time I invested in swiping endlessly on Tinder in the hopes of meeting someone who wasn’t hiding a terrible secret life, but I’m in the middle of a run of books so good that I just want to get home and read some more, so I’m quietly confident I can catch up. I’ve also deleted Tinder and told a friend that if he sees me on there before the date I’ve given him, he is to roundly humiliate me.

Corgi, money, garden, travel, books.

Finally, once my arm has been given the all clear, I’m getting back into health and fitness, which was a huge priority earlier in the year and I made some real headway with it. It got to the stage where I was so bummed when it rained and I couldn’t go on a walk that I bought a giant waterproof jacket with a hood so I was prepped for all weather.

At the moment I’ve been prepped just for hibernation and it’s not good, so corgi, money, garden, travel, books, fitness.

Six goals in six months. Feels pretty doable.

Standard

Washing my hair, doing the laundry.

About two months ago my brother-in-law dropped my new camera off at my house. A series of events meant the camera had travelled from Sydney to Orange, via a long stopover on the Central Coast and I had been impatiently waiting to get my hands on it for weeks.

As he walked across my front yard, he pretended to trip and we laughed about how funny it would be if, after all the hassle and waiting, the camera didn’t even make it inside.

Two weeks later, before I’d even had a chance to use the camera, I actually did trip over in my front yard, dislocating and fracturing my elbow, rendering my left arm useless for the time being and the camera has been sitting bundled in its backpack, next to the guitar I also can’t play.

Since I had The Fall (and it needs to be capitalised, if only because in these times of plagues and pestilence, it’s the only thing out of the ordinary that’s happened to me in the last 12 months), life has been a series of appointments and waiting rooms.

My next appointment is in about two weeks and I’m hopeful this time that the brace will come off and I’ll be able to start physio and driving and photography again, so I decided to tidy things up here, with the intention of posting photos once I can take them again and when I have weaned myself off my iPhone and am back into the trickier world of DSLRs.

Standard