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Category: Diary (Page 2 of 12)

June 6

Oops. I enjoy another lie in, instead of getting up to write. I figure I need the sleep after my rubbish night on Sunday.

My day starts with a meeting in the city, which I don’t mind because it gives me the chance to get a coffee from Babooshka. I even pack my iPad and keyboard, thinking I might get the chance to catch up on some writing. The journey gets off to a bad start when I switch to autopilot and miss the freeway on-ramp. When I finally get onto the freeway, the traffic is stupidly heavy. I watch as my window for coffee and writing dwindles. I eventually pass the cause of the delay: there’s been a breakdown in the bus lane and some genius has placed a traffic signal directing drivers away from the bus lane (which they can’t drive in anyway). The result is that everyone approaching the breakdown thinks they need to merge out of their lane and, as we all know, Perth drivers really don’t do merging well.

I eventually have time to grab a takeaway coffee. There’s a homeless man loitering at the counter regaling the staff with incomprehensible tales of his exploits. I pay for my coffee with a twenty, and he immediately pulls out a fistful of his own twenty dollar notes to show me. I can’t understand a word he’s saying, but I kinda like him. I ask the staff if there’s a toilet. They tell me there is, but I’ll need a key. No sooner have they said it than the homeless man pulls a key out of his pocket. It turns out to be the key for the toilet. “I own this whole place,” he tells me. I thank him and go about my business.

The day ends with another meeting in the city. I check the map and am amused to see that the road I need to look out for at the end of my route is called Twickenham Road. Right next to it is Teddington Road. The town I grew up in was Twickenham. And the town right next to it? Teddington.

I get home and learn that the Elderbeast has been in trouble at school again. I decide to take away his console games, including the Switch, during the week again. It’s less of a punishment, and more because it’s the one clear thing I can see that dramatically affects his behaviour and I’m otherwise out of ideas.

The law firm that I’ve engaged to organise the settlement for me have hit me up for more money. The initial outlay has been, very generously, covered by my family back in England, but it’s already been spent. I go through the invoice and realise it’s not surprising when it costs me more than $40 every time I send an email, and twice that to get a response. I decide to pay the amount owing, but opt not to deposit the additional $1,000 requested for future services. My main concern was getting the paperwork completed authoritatively and accurately. That’s been done now. I decide I can take it the rest of the way on my own.

June 5

It’s Fucken Monday, and it’s a public holiday for the whole of WA!

Except where I work.

I wake up dismayed to discover that I still have a headache: it woke me up in the night, and it lingers with me for the morning. I bypass my Morning Shift in favour of trying to sleep the headache off. It doesn’t work. I manage to get myself out of bed, make breakfast for the kinderbesten and swallow some panadol.

I asked Rachel to arrive by 8:30am to watch the kids so I could get off for work (because of course the schools are closed). She’s bang on time but I’m not even dressed. I finally leave the house and the roads are blissfully empty. Because everyone else gets a lie in today.

My headache finally begins to fade after some coffee and a dose of nurofen. I end up having quite a productive day, despite being left with a massive post-headache tiredness. Luckily we have leftovers for dinner (some pumpkin dahl) and the kinderbesten mostly keep themselves entertained. The Kinderbeast is somewhat restless at bed time, but eventually settles. I finally make it to the sofa at 8:30, armed with a glass of wine and an acceptable quantity of Brie. For my evening’s entertainment I’m onto part two of The Secret Of Crickley Hall, which continues to do a fine job of retaining my attention.

June 4

Even though Sunday is meant to be a writing day, I enjoy another good lie in–I’m not ready to push myself too hard yet, the writing will happen when it happens. We eat bacon sandwiches and play some Zelda, then it’s time to head out for Doggy Date. This is where those of us who own dogs bring the dogs out to play, and those of us who don’t own dogs get to play with the dogs. I bring the Kinderbesten for balance.

The day starts off in jeopardy when we get to Deepwater Point and find that dogs are not allowed. My brain struggles with the concept of a large open space where dogs are not welcome. We hang around long enough to get some food and research alternatives. Point Walter is apparently dog-unfriendly as well, but there is a dog friendly park close to the area so we head there.

We enjoy much excellent dogginess. The three dogs in our group are joined on various occasions by other dogs who want to play. We spend much time in particular with a whippet who literally runs rings around all the other dogs and, to all appearances, seems to be having a fantastic time.

We eventually tear ourselves away and I’m struck by how exhausted I feel after a relatively minor amount of walking around and outdoorsiness. I’m also struck by a headache which does little to enhance my pretence of being alive.

We get home and I initiate Sunday Afternoon Film Club, largely so I have an excuse to die on the sofa. We settle down for War Of The Worlds (the Spielberg version) which continues to be visually amazing, but still somehow doesn’t quite hit the mark. The sense of inevitable apocalypse is perfectly crafted, but I’m still not convinced that you can make an effective blockbuster where most of the characters are basically arseholes.

Afterwards we watch Moana. Again. Then I head into the kitchen to make my famous fake KFC (or: JFC – Justin’s Fried Chicken … which is actually baked). It’s a great success.

Once the Kinderbeast settles in bed, it’s time for the Elderbeast and I to catch up on Doctor Who. We missed last week’s episode, so we get a double bill tonight. It’s the end of the ‘monk trilogy’ and it starts off well, but the final episode completely squanders both its premise and promise and ends up being very average.

I go to bed, hoping my headache will have faded by the morning.

June 3

It’s Saturday, which even in single-parentland is still Designated Lie-In Day. I make it to 8am before I start to get twitchy and get myself out of bed. Even though I did the weekly shop yesterday, I’m still keen to foster the Saturday Morning Family Food Shopping Trip that has become a surprisingly successful habit over the past weeks. Fortunately, a friend of mine is doing a food drive for her charity which gives me the perfect excuse to drag the kinderbeasts to the supermarket.

We, once again, survive the experience and return home for Saturday Morning Film Club. We have some debate over what to watch, and then I remember I have a copy of The LEGO Batman Movie conveniently lying around somewhere (ha! sucks to be you Village Roadshow!). It’s not quite up there with The LEGO Batman movie, but it’s easily the best Batman film since The Dark Knight (ha! sucks to be you DC … Movies … or whatever you’re called!). Afterwards it’s time for the traditional weekend viewing of Moana. Which is still awesome. Even after the 500th time.

I have friends coming round for the evening and had great intentions of preparing food early in the day. Which I totally didn’t do. I then make the mistake of settling on the sofa to watch a bit of Moana, and decide that I really don’t want to move again. Ever. I eventually rouse myself and get the food underway (a selection of roasted vegetables, marred only by some disappointingly flaccid baby carrots). It is a very fine, very chilled out evening made all the more memorable by my most artistically inclined friend designing and drawing me a fantastic coat of arms for the newly dubbed Castle Cawthorne.

Castle Cawthorne coat of arms

June 2

I have a confession to make: it’s been a long time since I last went to the dentist. a *long* time. Years. Many of them. Double figures, in fact. So, given that today starts with a visit to the dentist I’m … actually surprised I’m not a whole lot more nervous!

When Rachel and I separated one of the many side-effects was having to cancel our existing family health insurance and set up new, separate accounts. We ended up with a different insurer who, as it happened, threw in a free dental check. They even passed on my details to the dentist (with my permission, of course) so the dentist could get in touch and arrange an initial appointment. In the face of all of this convenience, it would have been an extreme act of self-defeat for me to not finally get myself into the dentist’s chair.

Well, it turns out I must be taking fairly good care of my teeth as, aside from the usual scrape and polish, all I need are a few fairly minor fillings. Best of all, half the price gets knocked off with my shiny new health insurance, so I expect there’s a better than average chance I’ll be back. I spend the rest of the morning getting used to the odd new gaps in my teeth, exposed by the cleaning, and marvelling at the fact that my teeth no longer look like something that might get me cast in a zombie movie.

I meet Rachel for coffee afterwards and hand over the additional papers she needs to sign. It’s been a challenging, albeit swift, road to get to the point where we can sit and have coffee together again, but the reason is simple: we have kids, they need to be protected, and that means we need to remain friends. Or at least something close to it. Afterwards she comes back to the house and helps me move some furniture around. With all of her stuff now gone there are some refreshing new possibilities for arranging my furniture. We don’t move much, but it’s enough to make a huge difference and I start to get a real buzz about my new look home.

Then it’s time for Fridate with the wonderful Seb, who has remained my staunch Fridate companion through all of this. We have a chat about the various emotional ups and downs I’ve traversed this week (Fridate has become something of an unofficial regular therapy session for me) then settle down for our new regular feature: Friday night horror. This week we’re giving the prequel to The Thing another watch. I’ve only seen it once, and Seb has seen it never.

It turns out to be better than I remembered, only let down by some slightly clunky CGI. I find that the tension and paranoia is particularly well handled, and even wonder if the Obligatory Thing Scenes end up as more of a distraction than anything else. I also notice that there are a lot of the same beats in the story as the original film (a sabotaged blood test, a stand-off in the corridor, etc), almost as if they started out writing a remake and then converted it into a prequel.

Next week, one of my all time favourites: The Howling.

June 1

I’m back.

The few of you who read these diary entries will almost certainly know where I’ve been. If you don’t, here’s the summary: my marriage ended; my wife is living with someone else; the children are living with me; we’re all getting on with managing the aftermath from this. Because there are others involved, I’m not mentioning further details or names at this point (although those who know me are welcome to contact me privately). I have been keeping up with my diary posts, but almost everything from April and May will remain unpublished at this time; for the foreseeable future, and possibly forever. We’ll see…

So, where were we?

The Elderbeast is now attending PEAC classes on Thursday mornings. We drop the Kinderbeast off at school, then head off to PEAC. Almost immediately, I pull out on a roundabout right in front of an ambulance (well, if you’re going to crash into another vehicle …). Luckily there’s plenty of room to spare and it’s not even a near-miss, but it’s still not a great start. Alongside the general collapse of my life as I knew it, I’m also anxious about a work-related social event later in the day. I’m anxious about social events at the best of times, but despite feeling like I’m almost back to normal (following the events detailed above that will heretofore collectively be referred to as The Event) I don’t seem to have enough left in me to fight the anxiety.

It’s a busy day. After the PEAC drop-off I dive into work, have a couple of meetings, then dive right out again to collect the Elderbeast from PEAC and deposit him at school. We’re having a working lunch type thing at work, so I also drop into Coles to pick up drinks, and then into Subway to collect three enormous platters of food (one of which is entirely cookies)–it turns out the Subway order has not been paid for, so out comes my credit card.

I get back to work and get a call from Rachel, who is off getting some legal papers signed, but it turns out I haven’t given her all the papers she needs and the trip has been wasted. I have to wonder how much this mishap on my part is going to add to my legal bill.

We continue with the planning meeting and I make a valiant attempt to make a dent in the cookie platter, but it’s futile. The whole team then heads into the city for the dreaded social event, which turns out to be more of a meeting in any case. I plan to head home afterwards, but in a genius move this particular company has a well-stocked bar hidden away in their meeting room. I stay for a beer (my first one in months, and it goes down very well indeed) then head off having perfectly enjoyed the overall experience.

I’m taking the kinderbesten to a friend’s house for dinner in the evening, and I’m worried about running late. I’ve planned ahead somewhat: I’ve left the car parked at work, close to the train station, and asked Rachel to drop the kinderbesten off at her parents’ house, which is close to work. However, things start to look a bit slipshod when I get to the train station and find I’m facing a 17 minute wait for the next train–and it’s not even 6pm yet! Then it turns out that Transperth can’t even run trains late properly as the train turns up less than ten minutes later.

Everything runs like clockwork, and we have a terrific dinner (crispy southern chicken) at my friend’s house. On the drive back, the Elderbeast asks to listen to Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds, which instantly means we’ll have nothing else in our heads for at least the next three days. He decides he wants to read the book, and I find a copy for his kindle for less than a dollar which he ploughs into (“It’s amazing already!” he responds when I ask if he’s enjoying it).

It’s been a long day, and there’s nothing for it but for all three of us to head to bed as soon as we get home.

April 7

It’s the last day of school, which is good for so many reasons (no having to prepare lunches, kids can relax and stop giving me grief, roads will be nice and clear, etc).

Rach’s ear piercing has been bothering her since she returned from Melbourne. The pain is making her so nauseous that she leaves work almost as soon as arriving so she can head into the city and get it replaced. She does not return to work.

For our Fridate with Seb I decide to compile a playlist of short horror films to give us something different to watch. The list goes down well, with several definite highlights, even though we don’t have enough time to get to the end. If you want to check it out, here you go.

Meanwhile the Elderbeast is so exhausted by the last term at school that he spends the entire evening in his room, with the lights off, reading on his iPad.

I go to bed glad it’s the weekend, looking forward to seeing friends, and with absolutely no idea of what’s about to happen …

April 6

Rach is back at work today, but I have so many meetings that we barely see each other. After dinner she heads off to the gym: she has returned from Melbourne determined to start a newer, healthier routine. She must be very committed as it’s nearly three hours before she returns home.

Meanwhile, despite yesterday’s chat, the Elderbeast gives me the usual grief when I try to get him to do his work. He eventually does it, but the effort is exhausting.

April 5

Kids have a bizarre desire to get to school early, which is a switch. I gladly indulge them and then head off to work. I cram as much catching up into my day as I can, then leave at 2:30 for the school run. The Elderbeast, once again, heads off to his friend’s house. The Kinderbeast and I to travel to Woodman Point for some Pokemon hunting–enough, in fact, to get me up to Level 11.

The Elderbeast’s attitude is, sadly, little better than last night, resulting in another thoroughly exhausting evening. There is, however, some light at the end of the tunnel: after all of it, he tells me that he’s sad at the way he’s behaved. I urge him to remember that next time, and tell him I’m pretty impressed by his self-awareness. There have been times when I worry that he just doesn’t care, but that’s clearly not the case. This admission gives us something to work with.

Finally, long after the kids have gone to bed, Rach returns from her trip to Melbourne.


April 4

I get woken up twice in the night, by the Kinderbeast, and wake up massively tired. Somehow I still manage to get up for my morning shift (continuing the rewrite of 1-UP). It’s PEAC day for the Elderbeast, but he resists going. It’s obviously going to be one of those weeks with him. Luckily the school holidays are pending, which will give us both a chance to relax.

After dropping the Elderbeast at PEAC I head to work and instantly wonder why I bothered: I’m zombie tired, and will have to leave again in less than two hours to collect the Elderbeast from PEAC, and will then have to finish the day at 2:30 for the school run. I figure I may as well work from home for the afternoon.

It’s a good decision. I manage to get a lot of things out of the way.

I pick the Kinderbesten up from the school. The Elderbeast heads off with a friend, so the Kinderbeast and I stroll slowly back, via the playground, and catch some Pokemon on the way. In doing so I manage to exhaust both my phone battery and my remaining energy levels.

Somehow I manage to cook both meat sauce and banana bread, all while enduring the Elderbeast at his maximum level of entitled brattiness. Finally things calm down and bedtime arrives.

The Story I submitted yesterday, Between The Devil & The Comfy Chair, got rejected quicker than a Dan Brown novel on a Booker Prize short list. It was auto-rejected for being over the word limit, so I manage to cut the other 300 words out and submit it again. It’s a good exercise, cutting just over 10% out of the story, and it reminds me of the advice Stephen King shared in On Writing, which was, indeed, to try and cut 10% out with each rewrite.

But how long until you end up cutting the whole story out …?

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