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Week 6: Endurance

(Feb 5 – Feb 11)

Two things have been on my mind this week, with a convenient connection across both.

Firstly, I’ve been reflecting on how each week tends to feel like a minor endurance test: the goal being to survive from one weekend to the next. I’m, honestly, not sure why this is. My weeks are not especially arduous: I have a good job that I enjoy, I have no complaints about my home life, and my weekday evenings are generally relaxing. Basically, I have nothing going on in my week that should make the weekend a particularly critical respite for me. It’s ridiculous.

So, it’s at times like this that I like to reflect on exactly how easy I have it. And I don’t have to look too far for this. I have a number of close friends who endure chronic pain, or other chronic issues. I can only imagine this makes each day, let alone the whole week, a fresh and genuine struggle in its own way. Obviously I don’t like to speak for their experience, but it’s a regular wake-up call for me that my average week is, from the outset, a lot simpler and easier that it is for others.
Which brings me to the other theme of this week: the ‘up-scheduling’ of codeine-based products from over-the-counter to prescription medicines. This strategy, on paper, is designed to battle codeine addiction; but will in fact just make life punitively harder for people with chronic pain issues.

I’ve had brief discussions with some of my friends about the concept of terms like pain management, pain tolerance, pain endurance–and what these words actually mean when it comes to living a life accompanied by pain, or other challenges. We all have different interpretations of endurance and tolerance. When do we tolerate hardship and when do we endure it? One implies choice and one doesn’t.
I write about enduring my week, but there’s little in my week that isn’t there by my own choice. I’m not forced to endure, or even tolerate, anything.
I’m lucky.

Monday

The first Monday back at school brings us to the hot chocolate routine: this is where I go and fill up the car on the way to school (since it’s always cheaper on Monday) and the kids get a $1.50 gas station vending machine hot chocolate each. It’s seriously one of the highlights of their week.
Meanwhile, we’re currently a little short-staffed at work so I volunteer to take on a web content update task. It takes hours, most of the afternoon, and almost completely fries my brain. It’s been so long since I’ve done any mindless, repetitive work like this that I’d forgotten what the experience is like. If nothing else it’s a helpful reminder of how lucky I am to have a job that typically isn’t as boring as that.

Tuesday

Several weeks ago, when I was tidying up my finances, I applied for a Bankwest Credit Card – entirely because of the 24 month interest free balance transfer offer. I was promptly turned down, without any real explanation. A few days later, I got a call from someone at Bankwest who wanted to follow up on my application. We entered into a bit of a song and dance routine, in which I would continually forget to call her back, and she would continually follow up. Anyway, the outcome is that I ended up getting the credit card today (meaning, awesomely, that all of my credit card debt is now interest free) and it was entirely because of this random Bankwest staff member following up on my application.

Wednesday

I start the day with the Elderbeast persistently insisting that he should be allowed unrestricted, unlimited access to the PlayStation. Which is a big, fat no. But he doesn’t like that answer so he keeps on at me. It does not put me in the best mood.
Then, on the way to work I notice that I’m getting a bit of a sore throat and I wonder if I’m finally coming down with the plague that has managed to afflict an otherwise unconnected bunch of people this week. It would explain my lethargy and flatness of the last day or so.
Either way, I have to leave work early for a school meeting: the Elderbeast’s teacher wants to get some thoughts on how to keep him inspired and motivated throughout the year. He’s had some good teachers over the years at this school, but it’s particularly encouraging to have one that wants to get ahead of any potential challenges arising from the Elderbeast’s big brain and even bigger attitude.
I do wish him luck …

Thursday

I have a rollercoaster of an evening with the Elderbeast. Most successfully, I manage to get him to sit down and do a timed multiple choice test as a practice for his GATE exam. He sits down, does the half hour, answers every question, doesn’t complain or try to negotiate his way out of it: in short, everything he wouldn’t have done this time last year.
As a reward I give him an hour on the PS4. When his time runs out, and I decline to give him extra, he erupts. He tells me “Don’t talk to me!” and storms off to his room. I check in on him some minutes later and find he’s disassembled his bedding: even the double mattress is halfway across the floor. I’m pretty impressed by this: it’s a heavy thing, it must have taken real determination to shift it.
I tell him I’ll come and talk to him once he’s tidied his room. He does so, dutifully, then we talk about what made him angry. He explains, but not just with words: he grabs a whiteboard and marker and proceeds to illustrate his grievances.
It’s brilliant!
After that I go through his test answers. He’s disappointed at first to have only gotten 65%, but then I point out that it’s a test designed for students two years older than him (the goal here was mainly to practice the timing and pacing of the test). We work through the wrong answers together, which is a rewarding exercise but properly makes my brain ache.
Once we’re done with the test, he asks me to sit with him for a while longer while he reads one of his old Titanic books at me. It’s one of the books we used to read together when he was still young enough to be read to.
It’s a nice moment, a nice end to a really quite bizarre evening.

Friday

I sleep badly and it catches up with me right at the end of the day, just as I’m leaving work. I decide that I just don’t have the energy to do my weekly shop on the way home and pledge to do it nice and early the next morning instead.

Saturday

I oversleep. The supermarket is just starting to fill out by the time I get there. It’s not yet unbearable, but neither is it the early Saturday morning panacea that I’ve grown used to. Luckily, it’s my only planned outing for the day.
It’s a #childfree weekend and I’m long overdue for some solitude, so my day is split between sitting on the sofa and watching stuff, and getting minor chores out of the way. The minor chores somehow turn into scrubbing the oven. I pack the shelves away in something that’s virtually a Grade 3 Nuclear Waste containment bag and pour in half a bottle of gloop. I then apply the remaining gloop to the oven interior. The shelves come out beautifully, but I find that the rest of the oven has clearly evolved into a new state of being where it is immune to cleaning efforts.

Sunday

I’ve invite the UK folks over for a pleasant #childfree breakfast. I’m pretty pleased with the results–and it helps that I get to eat it too. After that it’s finally time for me sit down to watch Citizen Kane, a film I’ve somehow never managed to see, despite three years of film studies. It’s … perfectly good. It’s easy to spot where other movies–or, rather, where cinema in general has borrowed inspiration from it. It’s harder to view it objectively, given that its back is all but broken by the weight of the praise heaped upon it. I suspect I will be happy to watch it again before long, and its genius will continue to make itself apparent.
I end the day with a sense of satisfaction over the minor tasks I’ve completed over the last few days. Nothing major or particularly noteworthy, just lots of little things that will make life just a little bit better over the coming weeks.
The weekend draws to a perfect close with the Kinderbesten coming home perfectly chilled and relaxed after their #dadfree weekend.

Things I Didn’t Buy

Better on the not-buying this week: $148 worth of things I gave serious consideration to buying, following by even more seriouser consideration to not buying at all. Or buying … eventually … some other day.

  • $50 chinos
  • $16 knife set
  • $40 Bioshock
  • $15 Lego poster
  • $27 Kahlua

Things I Did Buy

Yeah, I know, $80 worth of shelves, but they were for Lego and they look really, really cool. And they’re preventing parts of my house from getting consumed by a deluge of Lego, so definite quality of life justification there.

  • $5 batteries
  • $80 IKEA shelves

Watched

Monday Star Trek: Discovery 1×14
Altered Carbon 1×02
Tuesday Altered Carbon 1×03
Wednesday Altered Carbon 1×04
Thursday Altered Carbon 1×05
Friday Get Out
Saturday Doctor Who: Shada
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Altered Carbon 1×06
Sunday Citizen Kane
The Cloverfield Paradox

Read

Another dramatic instalment in my continued failure to read anything of note.

Eaten

Monday Home-made Boston Beans
Tuesday Lasagne
Wednesday Lasagne (reprise)
Thursday Chips, eggs, beans (Heinz, Baked)
Friday Daal
Saturday Traditional #Childfree dinner
Sunday Tuna Rice (at the Elderbeast’s request)

Week 5: Newish beginnings(ish)

(Jan 29 – Feb 4)

After last week’s mood of pause and reflection, this week really felt like the grand slam of fresh corners being turned. The Elderbeast started his acting classes (and loved it); both Kinderbesten returned to school (finally); the Kinderbeast celebrated his sixth birthday; and I spent much of the week dreaming up plans for improving the house.

Monday

The Elderbeast has his first acting class after school. He reports that he is one of only three boys in a class with 1 girls, which will be a pretty good experience for him. For this first lesson they just play games (apparently), but he has a fine time and is keen to continue.
Meanwhile, my thoughts of painting the main room of my house continue. This was an idle thought at the back of my mind last year, but now I’m busy thinking of colour schemes and trying to work out the practicalities of actually getting the job done.

Tuesday

I forget my lunch today, which isn’t a good start to the day. For the last day of their holiday, the Kinderbesten are being taken to AQWA, but I need to get them ready and drop them off with the grandparents. The beasts don’t want to get out of bed, which makes this all even more of a rush than a typical school morning.
Once we’re all home again, I start to get everything ready for tomorrow. I make the packed lunches. I get school uniforms out of the cupboard. The Elderbeast and I sort out the big box of stationery that was ordered before Christmas and then, inevitably, just left in the box.
We then settle down and watch the last episode of Electric Dreams (which the Elderbeast has been getting into over the last few weeks). It’s very disappointing: just a pointless retread of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, which adds nothing new to the scenario. It’s perfectly well made, but given the inventiveness of the other episodes I really don’t know why they bothered with this one.

Wednesday

It’s the first day of school. I take the day off work it avoid the day being too much of a rush. As a bonus I go out for breakfast with the UK folks. On the way home we stop off at Bunnings so I can look at paint colours for my main room: there are so many! I pick a handful and get out of there.
I spend some time wrestling with my kitchen tap. It needs a new mixer cartridge, but is refusing to be disassembled. I decide to leave it be and walk away, somewhat dejected by my failure.
Collecting the kids from school picks my mood up however. The Kinderbeast has scored a sticker in reward for listening well in class. I then go to collect the Elderbeast and his teacher commends him on his hard work and focus during the day—and then goes on to suggest he can co-teach a class with her later in the year, if he’s interested. Stunning.
It’s also the night of the Blue Blood Supermoon (or whatever they’re calling it). We go and admire it for about half a minute, then head back inside where I proceed to count up my mosquito bites.

Thursday

A day of massive tiredness. I reward myself for simply existing with a huge Chocolate Fudge Brownie in the afternoon. It is delicious. My latest wine order from Naked Wines also arrives, which is always a highlight of the week.
The Elderbeast is at the cricket this evening, so I enjoy an evening of comparative tranquility and spend some time catching up on my blogs.

Friday

Taking the day off on Wednesday is proving to be a mistake: I’m still catching up at work. Meanwhile, the Kinderbesten’s mother is ill which necessitates changing plans for the weekend. I will no longer be #childfree, and the birthday celebrations we had planned for the Kinderbeast today will now have to take place tomorrow, which is actually his birthday, so it all kinda works out.
The Fridate Horror viewing this week is the 1978 version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, which has been and remains one of my all time favourite films. The slightly oddball performances of the main cast do a great job of subtly spelling out the humanity that’s being stolen, while Philip Kaufman does an amazing job of creating a setting where things seem just that little bit off.

Saturday

It’s the Kinderbeast’s birthday. As a birthday surprise I’ve booked him and his brother for a session at Bounce! We drive there and it’s not until we’re parked outside that he finally realises where we are. It’s an hour of good fun for the Kinderbesten, but they have devolved into sweat monsters by the end of it,
I take them home, shower them, and we chill out in front of Jurassic Park. It’s the Kinderbesten’s choice, but about halfway through he decides he’s too scared to continue, so we turn it off.
The family all come over for the early evening, bringing presents with them. The Kinderbeast ends up with a nice pile of gifts and a a ridiculous amount of birthday money. Luckily one of his presents is a safe …
It’s only after the Kinderbeast has gone to bed that I realise he’s pretty much eaten nothing but crisps and cake all day. Oh well, I guess if you’re going to eat like that it may as well be on your birthday.
For our evening viewing the Elderbeast picks out the 2009 Star Trek reboot. I really enjoyed this at the cinema, and I really enjoy revisiting it again. It does for Star Trek what Russell T Davies did for Doctor Who—takes something that was dwindling into cult status and makes it mainstream again. It’s dark, it’s emotional and it’s BIG. It’s such a shame that they messed it all up with the sequel.

Sunday

I get to spend some quality time with my friends today, mostly thanks to the Kinderbesten being exceptionally chillled and well behaved as we all play games. When we get home I corral the inderbesten into helping me clear out the shed—there’s a vergeside collection coming up, and I’m determined not to miss it this time. The Kinderbesten mostly do what they need do, and we get things sorted out in about 20 minutes. I end up with one help of old toys that can probably be donated somewhere, and another heap of crap that can definitely be chucked.
And a half empty shed that still needs tidying up. One day.
The Elderbeast has some homework to do before bed. I remind him that he has about an hour and a half to get it all done, and wonder how far he’ll get. At one point he starts flagging: staring at the screen when he needs to be writing. I set a 10 minute timer and tell him to just write until the timer goes off. He gets his work done, packs everything away, and we’re sitting in the kitchen chatting when the timer finally goes off.
Once again, last year this is something that would have involved at least an hour of stress and argument, with 30 minutes spent doing about 10 minutes’ worth of work. This turnaround continues to stun me.
He must be a pod person ….

Watched

Monday Star Trek Discovery
Electric Dreams 1×09
Tuesday Electric Dreams 1×10
Wednesday n/a
Thursday n/a
Friday Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
Saturday Star Trek (2009)
Sunday The Good Place 2×12
Altered Carbon 1×01

Read

Not gonna bother writing anything in here until I actually start reading something worth writing about…

Eaten

Monday Tuna Rice
Tuesday Chicken Satay
Wednesday Cauliflower Cheese
Thursday Chips, eggs, beans
Friday Pasta & broccoli for kids; Coconut Daal for me
Saturday Traditional #childfree dinner
Sunday Homemade Boston Beans

Week 4: Shifts and realignments

(Jan 22 – Jan 28)

Moving forward from life-changing events is an interesting process. I’m sure it’s a very different experience depending on the person and the event, but for me it seems to be series of shifts and realignments. It’s like a puzzle, where you successfully get a nice swathe of pieces to lay flat, only to find that a whole other section is now rucked up. In short, I’m pretty much settled into my new life, but every so often I feel like I need a bit of time to catch up with myself–whether emotionally, or mentally.
Given the triple punch of: Christmas; extended school holidays (with the Kinderbesten’s return to school looming over me); and family visiting from the UK, it’s been a busy time. I don’t get particularly stressed at times like this; indeed, I enjoy the change of routine for the most part.
However, the result is that I find that I’m relying far more on my ‘quiet time’ lately, in particular my #childfree weekends which provide an essential opportunity to stop and reset. Last week ended with my #childfree weekend being somewhat curtailed, but this week ended with me dreaming up plans for repainting the house, reorganising furniture and installing a cat enclosure outside. All of which are good signs that something is moving in the right direction.

Monday

My daycare plans for the Kinderbesten fall through, which is ok because I wake up with a headache anyway. We have a lazy morning, watch the first episode of The Toys That Made Us (all about Star Wars toys), and then decide to head out to the shops—ostensibly to buy toys, but mostly for the sake of getting out of the house for a bit.

Tuesday

The Kinderbesten get taken to Point Walter by the UK folks and have a terrific time, the only downside being that the Elderbeast manages to get himself slightly sunburnt due to rushing back into the water immediately after putting on his sunblock. We have dinner over at the UK folks’ holiday home, but I have to drag the Kinderbesten away shortly afterwards when their fatigue begins to morph into hyperactivity.

Wednesday

I find out that JB Hifi have one of their 20% Off All Bluray deals happening, and decide that I really need to go and but the new Doctor Who bluray (Shada) while I have the chance to save some money in doing so. It’s logical, trust me.
Also, after watching a documentary last night about Orson Welles’ notorious War Of The Worlds broadcast, and realising that I’ve somehow never seen Citizen Kane, I add that to my shopping list. Then it turns out that Citizen Kane is in a 3 for $20 deal so, after some extensive research, I also add Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Grosse Pointe Blank (the 3 for $20 becomes a 3 for $16 with the $20 off, which is awesome).
I head to JB Hifi after work to pick up my haul. Then I leave the shopping centre and see a big line of cars waiting to get out. I decide to go back inside for a while, at least until the traffic dies down. I come out again about 10 minutes later and there’s still a huge line of cars. I decide it’s time to leave anyway, and join the line. It takes at least another 15 minutes to get back on my way home.
All in all it feels like the money I saved on those blurays was taken back in actual time..

Thursday

Oddly tired today. I get my first couple of diary posts for 2018 published, then pass some time watching the prequel shorts for Blade Runner 2049. I also watch a behind the scenes video about the miniatures they built for the film, which blows my mind a little (I’d assumed all the city shots were pure CG).
I then decide it’s time for an early night.

Friday

It’s Australia Day.
I’ve decided to do two things: get my shopping out of the way nice and early; then do nothing to otherwise mark the day. The Elderbeast wakes up and immediately greets me with “Happy near genocide of an entire race of people day”, which makes me proud of him (both for his awareness and his dry sense of humour), and helpfully crystallises why we’re not doing anything.
I drop Beryl home around lunchtime, which gives the Kinderbesten an excuse to hang around with their other grandparents for a bit. We return home for a lazy afternoon.
Well … lazyish. I take some measurements out in the garden so I can get quotes on potential cat enclosures. I have to hop onto a wall at one point, to measure the height of a fence. My back quickly decides I have done A Very Bad Thing and complains vociferously for the rest of the day (and the day after). Despite the ensuing tiredness and achiness I somehow end up scrubbing the shower too.
I also sign up the Elderbeast for acting lessons. His primary school teacher from last year suggested it as an after-school activity on multiple occasions, but I wasn’t quite able to get it organised. This time I was able to find a number of classes that had vacancies. And now he starts his first class on Monday!
For Fridate Horror we attempt to watch The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978 version) but technology betrays us. We turn to our backup movie: The Open House, courtesy of Netflix. I really enjoy it: it’s a simple, effective, almost old-fashioned horror movie. I don’t get the harsh reviews on IMDB.

Saturday

I have a relatively generous lie-in: 8:30am. I wake up with a sore back and headache, but am looking forward to a visit from a couple of awesome friends that we don’t get to see nearly often enough. The Kinderbeast is also made up that he gets to play with one of his favourite little people. We find out that they have plans to move back over to QLD next month, which is good for them but means we’re now likely to see them virtually never. It’s a shame, but we’ll always have twitter.
We have a good long chat, while the kids have a good long play. I talk about some of my vague plans for the house, and later that day find myself suddenly (and finally) inspired with some clear ideas about how to decorate a few of the rooms. It just comes down to whether I can muster the required time, effort and money to get some painting done before the inspiration dries up.
For the afternoon, the UK folks come over for an early dinner (arriving not long after our friends leave). The Elderbeast requested burgers for dinner last week, and today is the day for me to grant that wish. I ask him to help, and he takes great delight in mixing up the raw burger meat with his (washed and scrubbed) hands. The burgers end up being pretty damn tasty, even if I say so myself.
The evening is put aside for Awesome Movie Night for myself and the Elderbeast. We have our Margaret River Brie, which we’ve been saving for the weekend. I decide that our movie should be Grosse Pointe Blank. The Brie is absolutely delicious and gets a thumbs up from both myself and the Elderbeast. The movie, perhaps equally unsurprisingly, is just as good as I remember it, and gets the nod of approval from the Elderbeast (confirmed, when I see him looking up articles about it the next day).

Sunday

I indulge in an extended morning shift, purely to finish up the second draft of a new story that I wrote over four mornings earlier this week. I’ve enjoyed writing this one so much that I really wanted to get the second draft wrapped up while I was had a bit of a buzz going on.
I spend the next part of the day debating whether I have time to make a cameo appearance at a friend’s birthday. The Elderbeast swings the balance by asking if we can go. I then have the, honestly, genius idea of cooking dinner at lunchtime (so I don’t need to rush back afterwards to cook dinner). It still ends up being a short visit, but sweet.
The Elderbeast, clearly having enjoyed the documentaries we watched on Monday and Tuesday, asks to watch another documentary for the evening. We eventually pick Man On Wire, which proves an excellent choice (even if it does trigger my latent vertigo on several occasions).

Things I did buy this week:

Okay, so the no-spending isn’t going great. My main offense this week was the $37 of blurays, but they would have cost me at least $57 at full price, so I figure I’ve got a bit of an excuse. Okay???

Watched

Monday The Cult of … The Tripods
The Toys That Made Us (Star Wars)
Tuesday War Of The Worlds doco
Wednesday Day Of The Daleks extras
Thursday Blade Runner 2049 extras
Friday The Open House
Saturday Grosse Point Blank
Sunday Secret Life Of Pets
Man On Wire

Read

Meh, reading time this week has predictably been spent enjoying the Doctor Who comics I so painstakingly extracted last week. Sounds kinda lame, but I’ve realised that this easy nostalgia has a purpose: these old comic strips (and, indeed, the Doctor Who novelisations) were among the first stories that I read, and absorbed, and got inspired by as child who was growing up and moving away from kids books. I literally read these comics in my primary school playground and, looking back now, it was one of those times where you feel like you’re lifting the curtain on a whole new world.
So, reading these comics (and reading about the Doctor Who novelisations that I spent the next several years of my life devouring) makes perfect sense at a time when I’m looking for a bit of a fresh start with my writing–and perhaps, subconsciously, trying to reconnect with the stories that perhaps inspired me to want to become a storyteller in the first place.

Eaten

Monday Homemade Boston Beans
Tuesday Pasta and mushrooms
Wednesday Chicken satay
Thursday Freezer dinner
Friday Salmon things
Saturday Burgers (home made)
Sunday JFC (Justin’s Fried, but actually baked, Chicken)

Week 3: Family

(Jan 15 – Jan 21)

This week was (mostly) about spending time with the family. My folks are over from the UK, and we’ve been talking about having some sort of mini-holiday while they’re here. I couldn’t quite get into the idea of flying over east with the two Kinderbesten in tow, but I did feel like a short road trip down south was probably overdue.
I had some work things on for Monday and Tuesday, but was able to take the rest of the week off for a spell down in Busselton. In retrospect, two nights away wasn’t really enough, but it still made for a satisfying diversion–without overstaying its welcome–and offered a pleasant flashback to family holidays of yore.
Perhaps even more so because it was grey and rainy on the drive down. Really rocking that British weather.

Monday

Heavy rain today. I woke up with a headache that lingered for most of the day. In a fit of generosity (for which, read: insanity) I allowed the Elderbeast to invite his friend round for a sleepover (it being the only night this week they’d’ be able to do it) In the end, they were pretty quiet and well behaved, and minimum stress was endured.

Tuesday

After a break over christmas, and some time spent catching up on the 2017 diaries, I finally got back on the (short story writing) morning shifts today and carved out 880 words on a story inspired by yesterday’s downpour. Not a bad welcome back.

Wednesday

Finished the first draft of my rain story, then prepped for an early start for our drive up to Busselton. The drive went surprisingly well–me stuck in the back of the car with the Kinderbesten. Two stops and a handful of games on my phone kept the tedium nicely at bay.
Our holiday home (an Airbnb place) had everything we needed for a few nights away: four bedrooms, two bathrooms, the best shower I’ve experienced for a long time, wifi, and Netflix. No idea if it’s a standard Airbnb feature, but our one had a bookcase full of books–all of which seemed to have been culled from three or four distinct collections.
On the first night one small book, entitled Thoughts On Being Happy, caught my eye–not sure why, because it’s definitely not the sort of thing I usually read. Anyway, I opened it and a small bundle of old photos fell out. Later that evening, I spent some time trying to piece together the story being told in these photos. They went back as far as the 1940s, and seemed to cover three generations of family. Beyond that, they remained a mystery.

Thursday

Today we took the obligatory day trip into Margaret River. I’d managed to forget to my hoodie when packing yesterday (the only thing I forgot), so of course it turned out unseasonably cold. In a surprise to no one, my no-spending vow crumbled in the face of opportunities to buy things like delicious Berry Farm port. In a more surprising turn of events, the Kinderbesten managed some inspired buying choices: the Elderbeast picked out some tapenade (also from the Berry Farm), while the Kinderbeast fell in love with some Raspberry and Rosemary Jelly and insisted on buying himself a jar.
Naturally, the rest of their money went on chocolate, but it’s gratifying to see their tastes developing.

Friday

A short morning walk around Busselton followed by the drive back home and the promise of a #childfree weekend. For Fridate Horror, we watched Personal Shopper starring Kristen Stewart: a baffling and brilliant film that brought back memories of afternoons spent at the London Film Festival.

Saturday

Did my morning grocery shop, then headed off to the Much More Interesting shops to grab myself a copy of Blade Runner 2049 (the no-spending is really not happening this week).
I busied myself for part of the day sorting out the mess of cooking books and magazines crowding out my shelves, and also managed a quick cleanup of the larder (during which I found a pack of Crispy Chicken Mix dated best before 2013–impressive!)
As the Elderbeast was off to a cricket match with his mother today, I (a little ironically) ended up babysitting the Kinderbeast. We played some games, and then I got him into bed nice and early so I’d have time to watch Blade Runner 2049 (because that’s what parenting is really about). The movie remains just as good as the first time I saw it. Still long, but never less than completely entrancing for every moment it’s in front of your eyes.

Sunday

I ended up with both kids back early today due to sickness on the other side of the family. I had been counting on some serious solo time after the family trip, but it ended up being a perfectly chilled out day nonetheless.
While I inevitably had to adjust some of my plans (which were pretty much limited to writing and watching stuff) I did succeed in doing something so amazingly geeky that I even impressed myself. Read on.
See, I’ve long had fond memories of the ‘back up’ strips that appeared way back when in Doctor Who Weekly, and latterly Doctor Who Monthly. Theses were strips that didn’t feature the Doctor, but offered short, and occasionally nasty, tales featuring classic enemies and other characters. I’ve been wanting to revisit these strips for many years; ideally putting together a collection purely comprising these strips. Well, today ended up being that day.
I have scans of most of these old comics. First I went through each issue and pulled out the pages that had the strips in–which wasn’t anywhere near as laborious as it sounds. Inevitably, most of these scans came from yellowed old copies of thirty to forty year old comics, so I ended up pulling them into photoshop to clean them up (again, not nearly as laborious as it sounds: once I’d done the first few I was able to create a batch job for the rest). Finally I zipped them up, converted them to cbz files (literally by changing the file extension) and … suddenly I have a complete collection of these old comic strips that so inspired me decades ago.
Yeah, I’m not even embarrassed!

Things I did buy this week:

Just under $130: not quite enough to offset the savings from last week, but still pretty shabby. Only $48 of that was really unforgivable though. I mean, like I’m going to go Margaret River and NOT buy delicious things???

  • Berry Farm Port (2 bottles) $40
  • Brie $11
  • Gabriel’s Chocolate (4 blocks, for gifting) $30
  • Blade Runner 2049 bluray $30
  • Yeelight smart bulb $18 (purely because it was half price)

Watched

Monday Star Trek Discovery 1×11
Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams 1×07
Tuesday Black Adder 1×01
The Expanse 2×01
Wednesday Holiday viewing: Scrooged
Thursday Holiday viewing: Ocean’s Eleven
Friday Personal Shopper
Saturday Doctor Who: State Of Decay
Blade Runner 2049
Sunday Doctor Who: Day Of The Daleks

Read

My Doctor Who novelisations blog abruptly ended in the middle of this week, with no posts having been published last September. Oh well.
I still haven’t started reading anything of substance. The week ended with me reading vintage Doctor Who comics, which are still awesome, but probably not quite the kind of mindfood I need to be reading.

Eaten

Monday Freezer meal (chicken fingers)
Tuesday Pasta & broccoli
Wednesday Holiday dinner: Domino’s pizza
Thursday Holiday dinner: Chinese takeaway
Friday Prawn Kerulan curry (man, this was delicious!)
Saturday Traditional; #childfree dinner (Steak, soy/butter fried mushrooms, broccolini)
Sunday Boston beans (homemade)

Week 2: Laundering

(Jan 8 – Jan 14)

After doing a bit of financial tidying up at the weekend, I’ve decided to continue with the theme this week. I have a few credit cards that have been paid off, which I duly arranged to cancel. I’ve also pledged to avoid any unnecessary spending until … sometime … maybe March, I dunno …

Monday

Cancelled my first credit card. Which involved picking up the phone, dialling, and actually talking to someone. Not sure if I’m more proud about the phone thing than I am about cancelling the card.
Also, as this was the first day back at work for most of my colleagues I took cakes in. Which almost no one ate. Because it turns out everyone’s on a post-Christmas diet. Except me.
My month of non-spending got off to a really bad start when I impulse bought a bluetooth receiver for the car. In my defense, it’s a real fiddle having to plug the cable into my phone whenever I want to listen to music.

Tuesday

The UK folks took the Kinderbesten for a day out to Caversham, which they loved by all accounts. I then joined rest of the family for dinner after work.
The rest of my evening’s entertainment was the final few episodes of Dirk Gently, which I’m very sorry is not getting renewed. Max Landis sleazery aside, Dirk Gently had a particular brand of absurd, surreal humour that I love and doesn’t show up too often. Dirk Gently may be the first time that a US show has managed to take a British property and not dismally fail at it. Hopefully this void will be filled with something new before long.

Wednesday

My turn to take the kids for their swimming, which provided a more energetic start than usual to the working day.

Thursday

Cancelled my second credit card, the effort associated with which seemed to exhaust me for the rest of the day. Didn’t help that the website crashed yet again. At least I had most excellent dinner at a friend’s house to end the day on 🙂

Friday

After a week of average coffee at the work canteen (our usual place is closed for the holidays) we decided to venture out to the Little Olive Leaf cafe for coffee. Wise choice, it turned out: the coffee was excellent.
For the evening, my usual Fridate companion wasn’t able to make it so the Elderbeast and I enjoyed a double bill of the latest episode of The Good Place, followed by a thematically appropriate screening of The Truman Show–which the Elderbeast really enjoyed, and is a film that seems to be consistently better than I ever remember it.

Saturday

Very hot day today, which meant a very lazy day. We loafed around the house watching films, then joined the UK folks for an early dinner at Clancy’s Fish Pub.

Sunday

I have decided that I’m missing having mince pies for breakfast every day. Probably a good thing, really…

Things I didn’t buy this week:

Here’s a list of things that I managed to resist purchasing this week: a total not-spend of $150!

  • Pack of USB-C charging cables $20
  • Bottle of Kahlua $30
  • Judge Dredd Humble Bundle $15
  • The Witcher 3 PS4 $25
  • (more) New curtains for the bedroom (as the first pair have proved a huge success) $60

Watched

Monday Toy Story 3

Star Trek Discovery 1×10

Dirk Gently 2×08

Tuesday Dirk Gently 2×09, 2×10
Wednesday n/a
Thursday n/a
Friday The Good Place. The Truman Show
Saturday Scooby Doo, Super 8
Sunday Nightmare Before Christmas, The Amazing Jessica James

Read

Recap: This section is meant to track what I read this year: books, ideally. But the truth is I’m not reading anything of significance at the moment. I’m a terribly undisciplined reader, and am currently having a particularly lethargic slump. My main read this week has been a blog written by someone who’s reading all the Target Doctor Who novelisations in release order, and is writing surprisingly detailed and compelling reviews about them.

Eaten

Monday Pasta & broccoli
Tuesday Cottage Pie
Wednesday Lasagne
Thursday Pasta Carbonara
Friday Leftover lasagne
Saturday Clancy’s fish’n’chips
Sunday JFC (aka Justin’s Fried Chicken, which is fake KFC, and is also baked not fried, so it should by rights be JBC)

Week 1: Back into the new routine

(Jan 1 – Jan 7)

So here’s the first diary post of 2018. I expect the format will change between now and December, but for now this is how I’m gonna try it: a weekly post broken down into various sections as below. First up is a summary, in which I’ll attempt to pick out a ‘theme’ of the week …

This first week of 2018 felt very much about getting back into the routine of things and, though it may be the same routine as last year, I’m still approaching it with the sense of starting something new.
After abandoning all routine over the holidays, I’ll admit to finding it something of a relief to be returning a bit of structure to my life. Structure means I know what’s happening day-to-day and I don’t need to think about it too much. It means getting back into my morning shifts (which have been completely neglected since just before Christmas). It means days at work, which gives my eyes a change of scenery, and my mind the chance to focus on different things.
In other developments, my Dad and his wife are visiting from the UK (and will be here until late February) which adds more of a family element to the next several weeks. The Kinderbesten started their VacSwim swimming lessons—and are loving them. I had the chance to catch up with the Elderbeast’s trainer on Friday and she said two things that made me very happy: she told me that he was trying very hard, and that he was listening to her. If you spent any time reading my blog last year, you’ll know that this is a big step up for the Elderbeast and is hopefully a sign of the year to come.

Next up comes a quick breakdown of each day. This is mostly for me to me leave notes for myself, but I’m going to leave it in for now with the idea that I can use this section for specific details or highlights …

Jan 1

New Year’s Day! Enjoyed a lazy morning before the UK folks came over for a roast chicken dinner. Meanwhile the Elderbeast headed out to see the Scorchers play some cricket.

Jan 2

Went to Yanchep National Park today and managed to see ducks, koalas and kangaroos. A nice way to spend my almost-last day off work. The Elderbeast has been talking for several days about spending some of his Christmas money on buying his very own takeaway pizza—so tonight we did that. I refused to let him pay for delivery, since it ends up costing about three times as much, and it’s a nice drive down to our local Dominos in any case. On the way we made the surprising discovery that the fastest 4g speeds we’ve yet encountered are in one of the backwater country roads on the way—a whopping 120mbps!

Jan 3

Last day off work and I feel absolutely exhausted. Decided to take down the Christmas decorations (instead of saving it for the weekend). However, I did leave the fairy lights up that I’d strung around the sitting room because they look awesome (and fairy lights are not just for Christmas).
The Elderbeast began his Gratitude Journal, which I bought him for Christmas. In another amazing development from last year, he simply sat down and wrote what he needed to write without any whinging, bargaining, or excuses. This time last year it would have taken at least half an hour’s struggle just to get him to sit down with a pen and paper.

Jan 4

First day back at work. Very quiet (as both expected and hoped). Spent much of the day sorting out my inbox, which proved a hugely therapeutic way of starting the New Work Year.

Jan 5

The quiet return to work ended today with a major outage of the website. It didn’t last long, and was resolved reasonably efficaciously, but it did put a damper on my plan to continue sorting out my inbox.

Jan 6

A classic #childfree Saturday: did my food shopping in the morning, then spent the day watching old timey Doctor Who and doing various sundry chores (organising finances, cleaning out the freezer, cooking meals for the week, tidying up the various lighting around the kitchen and sitting room). As always, there weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, but I feel pretty good about getting back on top of the finances.

Jan 7

Monthly Pathfinder game with friends. Much fun as always.

Finally, a section for me to list what I’ve watched, read, and eaten during the week. This section has already changed from the below, so I’ll talk more about it next week …

Watched

  • Dirk Gently
  • The Good Place 2×03-2×07
  • Groundhog Day
  • Heroes 1×01, 1×02
  • The Babadook
  • Dr Who (Tenth Planet)
  • Dr Who (The Visitation)
  • Mad Max Fury Road

Read

This section is intended to inspire me to get into a more disciplined reading habit this year.

Hasn’t worked so far.

Eaten

  • Heston Blumenthal Roast Chicken
  • Pizza
  • Chicken stir-fry
  • Freezer meal
  • Tarka Dal
  • Traditional Childfree Dinner

2018: Bring it!

I sometimes see in the New Year with resolutions, but like most of the of the world I’ve learned that resolutions are basically things that you’ll abandon sooner or later and will, instead, be left with crippling guilt and self-doubt for the rest of the year. So, I don’t have resolutions. But I do have some goals that I’m happy to share. And here’s a brief post about them.

Writing projects

I’ve spent much of the last two years writing short stories, with the goal of getting some published, and raising my profile a little in order to make it worth me writing and publishing the novel I started several years ago. That plan hasn’t really come to fruition, so it’s time to think of a fresh tactic. I do enjoy writing short stories, but I don’t want to write stories that aren’t getting read, and I do want to go back to writing the novel sometime this year. A change of plan is obviously required.

On the plus side, I have enough short stories in my ‘trunk’ now that I could release a couple of collections. Which is exactly what I’m going to do. I still need to work out the details, but I’m looking at three themed collections (horror; sci-fi; stories with women as the lead). Downside of this project is that it’ll require me to do a fair bit of self promotion, which I’m not very good at. But we’ll see …

Writing approach

As I’ve done for the last several years, I tracked my writing progress throughout the year (how many words written each day, and on which project). This fell away in the last month or so, partly because I wasn’t writing much fiction, but is definitely something I want to continue. This year I aim to track all my writing, including these blog posts and any other miscellaneous writing projects, so I can continue to see how much (or little) I’m writing each day/month/year.

Diary

I’m going to continue with my diary blog posts, but in an exciting new weekly format. You need only to look at December 31st’s post to see more details. If it’s been published by this time …

Kids

It wouldn’t be a good year if I didn’t have some goals for the Kinderbesten. With the Elderbeast I plan to continue much as I did last year: helping him to develop his ability to focus, to broaden his interests, and to get him to the point where he can really use the extra brainpower he has apparently been been born with. Although the Kinderbesten struggles less than his elder brother, I intend to make sure he continues on the path he’s already travelling, and doesn’t get too distracted with things like YouTube.

Work

Work is generally good. That said, one of the consequences of my personal life imploding last year was that I took a back seat professionally for several months (and was very grateful that I was able to do so). This year I plan to stand up a bit more and resist lurking in the shadows too much.

Keep looking upwards and outwards

Life can get very insular, and it’s not healthy to look inwards all the time. This one is just a reminder for me to look up from time to time, and to remember that there’s more than just my tiny life going on. My ability to take an external perspective on things, and to focus (sometimes) on the positives over the negatives, has been a critical factor in getting through last year, and I intend to continue in a similar fashion for 2018.

December 31: The End

I did it! I survived the year, and managed to write a diary entry for every single day in 2017! Colour me happy 🙂

If you’ve been keeping up to date here, then there’s little for me to add at this point. On the personal front I survived the end of my marriage and, instead of my live caving in, I found light at the end of that particular tunnel. Life is new, and different, and okay. Most importantly, the Kinderbesten are ok. It’s been a challenging year for the Elderbeast in particular, and while he’s not yet where he needs to be, I’m celebrating all the forward steps he’s taken since this time last year. Meanwhile, the Kinderbeast effectively taught himself to read this year (with help from his teachers and Reading Eggs), which has broadened his world a fair bit.

Writing these diary entries has been an important part of the year for me. I vowed to write a post each day for the whole year, but it was about more than just meeting that goal. I started this project because I had a compelling sense that I should document this year. In the end, being able to offload my thoughts onto these pages has probably been one of the things that helped me get through the last twelve months. However, in any year, being able to sit down and reflect on your day is an important tool: it enables you to apply a perspective to things, and it forces you to process your thoughts (in much the same way that simply talking, and having to organise and verbalise your thoughts, is an important component of therapy).

So the big question is obviously: am I going to continue this next year? Well, the answer is both yes and no. I’d love to carry on as I have been, but the truth is that this project has been a burden as well as a benefit. It takes some significant chunks of time each week to get these posts written and I’ve constantly been at least a week, often more, behind. As rewarding as this project has been, I don’t like having things hanging over me. Consequently, much of the year has had a spectre of ‘must catch up with those blog posts’ lurking over my shoulder. On the other hand, I have genuinely enjoyed writing these posts and knowing that (a small handful of) people are interested enough to keep reading them.

So, I have a compromise.

For 2018 I’m going to attempt a weekly diary post. This should give the benefits of reflecting briefly on each day, while sparing the excruciating details. It may also free me up to writing some blog posts on other topics over the year (such as writing). The fact that the year starts on a Monday makes this even more appealing to my sense of organisation.

As they say: watch this space …

December 30: Visitors

Today my Dad and his wife arrive from the UK. Or, more accurately, tonight.

I was able to offload the Kinderbesten for a few hours to give me the chance to do some cleaning and tidying up around the house, which also means I get to see in 2018 with a reasonably clean and tidy home. My folks weren’t due to arrive until close to midnight, but the Elderbeast was determined to stay up and see his grandparents, so we passed the time with a marathon of The Good Place–which we both love and now can’t get enough of.

The folks arrived in good time. We caught up over some tea then, finally, everyone headed to bed.

A short entry for quite a big day.

December 29: It (again)

Another lazy day at home which, really, is what these holidays are all about: a chance to get on with minor odd jobs and not be bound by work, school, whatever.

I picked up It during my Boxing Day shopping trip, which of course became the selection for this week’s Fridate Horror. Somewhat appropriate too that one of the year’s biggest hits, one of the most successful horror films ever, and one steeped in history and nostalgia, should be our last horror movie of the year.

I’m happy to report that the shine doesn’t wear off after a second viewing. One of my issues with the first time I saw the movie was that it felt like half a movie: this is because I still very much had the book in mind and was preoccupied with how well the earlier half of the story could stand on its own. This time around I barely gave that a thought. As a result, the film seemed much richer: the sense of place and character was so strong I came away wondering how Chapter Two could possibly compare. Meanwhile, the creepy bits remained just as effective.

I still haven’t managed to reread the book though. Maybe in 2018 …

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