Thursday, April 20, 2017

The world is different now

I've been missing blogging lately. Most of my blog-friends have made their blogs private now. And to be honest, I don't understand the medium anymore. I'm old I guess.

But I've blogged because writing is how I process things. Writing is how I make things make sense. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older now or just because I have a tendency to lean towards worry and fear—but lately, I think a lot about death and how scared I am.

Partly because my grandmother has aged in the most ungraceful way possible. Her dementia has caused her to be angry and stubborn, lash out on the people she loves most. And it has been slow, it's been a slow side getting worse and worse for the last 10 years.

She died today. And I'm devastated. As a child, I'd call her on the phone several times a week—calling collect and asking the operating to connect me to her. We'd talk for what seemed like hours as my mom would finish cleaning up in the kitchen. She was magic.

We used to imagine, when stuck in traffic, that we'd turn on our car's jet pack and just fly above everyone else. We'd imagine what it would be like if we could build a house for her next door because I missed her so much, that I just wanted to see her every day.

She'd tease me because I was fussy about what kind of food I liked, and I liked it just the way my mom did it. But really it hurt her, because she couldn't buy/get/produce that for me herself.

She made friends with every single shop owner and gas station attendee. And even though she hasn't driven in decades the gas station down the street connected my mom's last name with her's and went on and on about how wonderful she is.

Enough was never enough. More is more. More food. More surprises. More presents. More fun. More. More love.

She was my biggest cheerleader, saying how excited she was for me that I found a place I loved being in Australia while in the same breath asking me why I was leaving. She spoke in Jewish complements almost exclusively: You look amazing today, yesterday not so much; you look so thin, not like last time I saw you; or my favourite, (arriving at her house) you look great! So beautiful, (the next morning) you looked terrible last night, you look so much more rested and lovely now.

She made things happen. Like magic. She once surprised my older brother for his birthday, my parents had moved across the country for a few months and took my brother out for lunch for his birthday. When he arrived back home a big box was sitting on the floor and when he opened it out she jumped.

She was generous and opened her house to friends of friends and extended family. We always had enormous family reunions with both my mom's side and my dad's side (she's my dad's mom), and I didn't realise that was unusual until I was grown up. Having all my cousins, ALL my aunt and uncles in one place—I didn't even really consider that there were two sides of my family... it was just, family.

And we laughed. Her smile was contagious and she'd tell us incredible stories of when she was naughty when she was little, or when we said something silly we'd laugh hysterically until tears streamed down our faces.

She used to write what she'd call 'bad poems' as cards on gifts. The truth was they were amazing. I've saved heaps of them from when I was about 16—with incredible rhyming schemes and puns she'd link together my favourite things from horses to my childhood crush on John Cusack.

She was an activist. Working on local elections for candidates she believed in. And I wish I had talked to her more about it then. I wish I understood. Because now, I work on campaigns and I would love to talk to her about it, but by the time my career started, her dementia was too far gone.

Giving gifts brought her so much joy. Whenever you entered her house, there was Pooh present (you didn't know that the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause aren't the only mythical gift giving creatures? Winnie-the-Pooh gives the best gifts...) on your pillow in her house. Some of the gifts were... not good. I remember a particular pair of (very) expensive white capri pants with scenes from Paris on them: a French poodle parading underneath the Eiffel Tower.

Other gifts were like miracles. How did she know?! Magic happened. I was obsessed with Eloise growing up. I loved her wild adventures in the Plaza hotel. And for a special occasion, she took me to New York City to stay in the Plaza. The Plaza made a mistake and didn't have our reservation and she was able to get them to upgrade us to the honeymoon suite for one night. It felt like magic and like we'd gotten away with something naughty and mischievous... just like Eloise.

She was a giant personality that filled a room and brought people together. She hob-nobbed with famous politicians and as far as I know two of her biggest regrets were not going to college and declining to throw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game.

More food was always the answer. On Thanksgiving there would be 40 pounds of turkey for 12 people—four of whom were vegetarians. This was our biggest point of contention. I could see all the waste, and I hated it. But her more is more attitude on love and generosity and happiness ... those are things I hope I hold on to.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ausmerican

It's um... been a while. So here are some random thoughts I've been saving up:

Being Ausmerican

On Tuesday, I took a pledge to Australia and became an Australian Citizen. It's been a long road (see here, here, and here for a few examples).

And it was ... surprisingly emotional. In typical decoybetty fashion, I waited in line to register for the ceremony and then was led to my seat where I immediately gave myself (accidentally!) the worst paper cut across my knuckle which bled profusely—covering my hands in blood. So then I was discreetly trying to mop up the gore and stop my finger from bleeding while trying to find my 'emergency' bandaid in my wallet. If there is an opportunity to be awkward, I will jump on it!


Australianisms

Despite the many years I've lived here, I'm still learning new slang all the time. There are regional difference to the odd cake-cutting rituals of Australians. In Tasmania, if the knife comes out dirty it means you'll have green babies.

Dodge-em cars are bumper cars.

Mosie



Cooking

I've been cooking lots of new things and am adding them to my life list but two that I'd highly recommend are Smitten Kitchen's Browniest Cookies (delicious gluten free) and Ratatouille.


Sunday, May 01, 2016

Could this moment BE any more awkward?

I recently had to go get the ole annual pap smear. Having just moved to Tasmania, I also was visiting a new doctor for the first time.

She asked me the usual questions. What's your history, any surgeries etc., etc.? Are you married? Do you have any children? Are you planning on having any children?

And that's where things took a turn.

I said that children were not in the plan and she turned to me and said.

"Does your husband know that?"

...

It's like she thinks we didn't take the pre-marriage survey given to us by the Australian Government.

It's just how I like my pap smears – with a large dose of judgement included.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

We are Furmily, I got all my sisters with me!

I've been keeping something a secret (for no other reason than I'm selfishly putting cuddles before all else – even blogging) for about three weeks. (unless of course you follow me on Instagram, which I'm not sure why you would as I've only posted about four times in the last two years.) After years of wanting to get a furbaby, Inspector Climate and I finally adopted a kitten!

Meet Mosie.


We got adopted Mosie from a no kill shelter just outside of Hobart at about 10 weeks old. I'm so smitten, it almost hurts.


She is named Mosie after Modoc the Elephant. Modoc was nicknamed Mosie or Mo. To be fair, our Mosie has no idea what her name is. But she is an absolute cuddle bug (she is currently stretched out across my stomach,  lying over one of my arms). 

She has made me so incredibly happy. I love rushing home from work and getting about 40 minutes of cuddle time before starting to make dinner. We currently are still restricting her access inside our house (she'll be an in door cat, if we do end up buying a house, we may also invest in a cat run), so she only can be in the bedroom and bathroom. However, we are going to start letting her into the kitchen and living room.

KITTEN!


Thursday, March 03, 2016

Being cold and wet, just like the convicts of yore.

Last weekend, we had guests visiting us.

I know that doesn't seem revolutionary, but I want to let that sink in. This means that we had a place for them to sleep that was not our living room (or our bedroom)! We have a table on which to eat off of as opposed to our two seater couch. It was the most grown up thing that's ever happened.

Anyway, so we had guests visiting us and we took them to Port Arthur. I had been to Port Arthur once before with my parents in 2006 (apparently, I only go every 10 years). Port Arthur is old convict prison – and we got to experience it on a cold and wet day. Honestly, it felt very fitting. I didn't take very many picture in Port Arthur because it was so wet, I was honestly a bit worried about the safety of my phone/camera.

But here is the penitentiary:


On our drive down to the Tasman Peninsula we also saw a sign for the Unzoo. And so we stopped in on the way back to meet some Tassie Devils – this is Neville.


The Unzoo also had a place where you could give some wallabies, roos, and pademelons a scratch. I  preferred just watching this little joey grabbing a snack.


Then a bit further up the road, we stopped by the tessellated pavement – so very cool. The Tasman peninsula has two different types of tessellated pavement: pan and loaf. I won't bore you with the details, but honestly it was very very cool!



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Living in Hobart gives you a great ass

We've now been our new house (still sans furniture) for a bit over a week – our furniture is supposed to get here today! The idea that we'll have a fridge and won't be sleeping on the floor? Seems almost too good to be true.

Hobart is a city of hills – sometimes steep ones! – and we currently live within walking distance of everything. And so we walk. And so my, very flat, bottom is getting a very big work out. (If there is one thing you should know about me, it's that I have no junk in the trunk).

To add to that, Inspector Climate (who started his probably short-lived job this week!) and I have decided to try and do all sixty of Tasmania's 60 best short walks. You know I'm serious about it, because I'm adding it to my life list.

We had already done one of the walk when we were here visiting last year. You can read about our adventures to Tasmania's most southern point here.

Over the weekend, we did the Springs to Organ Pipes to the Chalet (not a chalet, a building with three walls and two picnic tables inside) up on Mount Wellington. It was a beautiful day – so far I've been up Mount Wellington twice and both times it has been seriously cold and there has been zero visibility to see the view. But on the weekend, we could see for miles. And it was beautiful.

Although my recommendation is to stop at the Organ Pipes – don't bother continuing to the chalet, it is not exciting. Here are some pics:


There were some people rock climbing on the Organ Pipes (above), very cool.


I spent the entire day singing "I've got my tight pants on" as I wore yoga pants (not only do we not have a fridge or a bed, but I only packed about week's worth of clothes and so my options for outdoor activities were limited). See also Pizza John t-shirt.


Oh, stop it Hobart.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Good bye apartment... we've had... times.

I wrote this the day that our apartment got picked up and packed away (i.e. last Tuesday). As an update. We are in Tassie! Our stuff, however, is not. We're starting week two without a fridge or a bed – the reason it's taken me so long to post it is we've only just gotten internet. Isn't moving fun?

Our apartment is empty. Our only belongings that are left in it are two suitcases, a basket full of odds and ends, and a box of kitchen things to use in the days (7-14!) that our stuff will be in transit.

I have an odd relationship to the stuff – the kitchen stuff, I certainly would be sad if it was broken or lost (the food processor is my pride and joy). But it is the apartment that I feel like it is harder to say goodbye – to be fair, I’ll be reunited with the stuff, I’ll probably never set foot in this apartment again.

It’s not like we’ve had the BEST of times in this apartment either. It started off with an epic sleep walking event by Inspector Climate which turned into us finding a decomposing mouse carcass gently cooking under our hot water heater.

Who can forget us trying to bail out our front load washer with a heart shaped bucket as it flooded our kitchen or after just a few months of marriage the inordinate amount of time I spent in the bathroom for ‘bowel prep’ before surgery. Oh memories.

But, at the same time, this is the first place where we first lived together, got married, it’s where it went from ‘my things’ to ‘our things’.

This shoebox-sized apartment is the longest I’ve ever lived in a place besides the home I grew up in – we moved in together in 2011.

And while I was hoping that saying goodbye to this apartment would mean saying hello to our ‘forever home’ – adventures never go as planned do they?

So goodbye, apartment.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Update: And now with a few less tears.

Thank you for your kind comments friends. As far as stress has gone, this is certainly been the worst weekend I've experienced for awhile.

On Monday, I went to work and stifled tears no less than four times (basically, anytime anyone mentioned – You're moving to Hobart this week!). However, we've gotten kind of the best case scenario news.

We're going to move to Hobart as planned (minus the buying of the house aspect for now!), because of course the organisation Inspector Climate works for has actually no plans for how to lay off these people. They won't make any decisions to late March/April at the earliest, but maybe later!

At least we get to try it out – and then there is a big who knows.

I'm hoping that living new experiences and places will inspire me to share more here – that's what Decoybetty has always been: A place to share my feelings.

Thanks again for listening.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

That moment when all your dreams die.

Friday, 12 February 2016. That's the day that our newly purchased car, Inspector Climate, a carful of things we need to survive, and I are supposed to drive on to the Spirit of Tasmania to start our new adventure.

You'll notice a phrase there: supposed to.

Supposed to.

See on Thursday, 4 February 2016 a rather unpleasant announcement was made: a huge majority of the jobs (like let's say 110 out of 130) in Inspector Climate's field (in the organisation that his new job is in) are gone. The government has stopped funding them (who needs to research the impacts of climate change, right? it's only a giant global problem that will impact every single person, place and thing. Sack 'em all! If this logic was applied to other major problems "We know cancer kills millions of people, and that's a problem. So let's stop studying it and carry on shall we?").

The movers come on Tuesday. Our apartment has already been rented to someone else – and the thousands of dollars that we've spent on planning this move? Oh, that's gone too.

There is a slim to none chance that this organisation could say to Inspector Climate "Oh, we'll honour your contract" (honour's an interesting choice of word...isn't it?) – but the more people we talk to, the more and more it seems like this isn't going to happen.

Our dream is crumbling and I'm not handling it well (surprise!). There go the fruit trees and puppies and kittens. There goes the house with the big kitchen and wood floors. There goes purchasing a house – the house that would be the 'only home we ever purchase.'

Gone.

It feels like some one has died – and they have. Future Decoybetty and Future Inspector Climate – as we knew them, as we imagined them, are dead. And I know, trust me I know, how dramatic that sounds. But we've been working towards this new adventure for years. Gone.

I've been walking around in a fog – I smile, I occasionally laugh – and the moment I'm alone again I sob and my heart breaks yet again.

Did you know that in an animal rescue there are 44 kittens that need adopting outside of Hobart? One of them was going to be ours.

While Inspector Climate stoically goes about his day – ticking things off our enormous to do list and trying to talk to me about our future, I am a puddle of emotional exhaustion and can barely think about getting through Monday.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Even lemon trees move on to more brighter futures

Our inter-state move is fast approaching and while many people seem to be feeling the stress of Christmas and the holiday season, it is the impending move that gets my heart a flutter with nerves and page long to-do lists.

Our house saga continues (and if just ONE of you says "the right one will come along and you'll wonder why you stressed about it in the first place" or "It will all work out just fine" then you clearly don't know me at all!). We went down a couple of weeks ago to look at a bunch more, and while we were there we took an internet dongle to test the mobile internet at the Mystery House (you know... just in case). And, it was fine. We sketchily skyped my parents from a rental car across the street from the house and it worked great. We opened multiple google docs. We called the real estate agent and were like 'is it still on the market' (because they NEVER UPDATE THE WEBSITE) and he was all 'uh, sorry it just went under offer.

Luckily I was sitting on the floor cuddling someone else's dog when Inspector Climate broke me the news, and took it fairly well.

The weekend after, we were getting ready to tick one more thing off our list, buying a car – when did we become such grown ups? And so in preparation, I started calling friends and asking if they'd like our fruit trees which currently sit in our car park. On Tuesday, we bought a car (tick!) (A VW Golf, if any one would like to know – the second we sat in it, I was like 'and his name is Henri' and Inspector Climate rolled his eyes: cars don't need names, and it's a German car not a French car. Ya'll, the car spoke to me and told me his name was Henri. Who am I to argue with that?).

On Wednesday, the Mystery House real estate called us and said that the offer that is on the house may fall through and if we can move quickly that we might be able to buy it. Immediately I got sick to my stomach, the butterflies rising all the way up chest and into my throat. A car AND a house in one week – praise moses. The owner loves us, we are the type of people she wanted to sell the house to, and the people with the offer currently, were not her people.

On Thursday, the house sold, and not to us. I don't really understand why (the real estate couldn't tell us specifics), but the other people were able to magically jump some hoops and fulfil whatever they needed to do. And I cried.

On Friday, my friend C stopped by and we repotted the Lemon Tree and I gave it to her – sitting up in her car with the top branches sticking out the top of the sun roof, catching the breeze – the Lemon Tree found a new home. The lemon tree is the first living thing (first thing really at all) that Inspector Climate and I got together. We didn't even live together at the time. While I couldn't be happier that it went to a good home with new loving lemon-tree parents, I was pretty sad to see it go. Good bye Lemon Tree.