12 May


Hej from Sweden! We are in Stockholm and it is beautiful. I am having the time of my life. The day before we came I had this conversation with Bianca:

Bianca: I am sad I won’t be at school next week because I’ll miss science and we’re doing experiments.

Me: But we’ll be in Sweden! We can have Ikea meatballs!

Bianca: Ugh, MUM, they probably don’t even have Ikea there.

Me: Are you kidding me? That’s where Ikea is from? Ikea meatballs are Swedish meatballs! There are meatballs everywhere!

Bianca: Then I want to go right now!

We have been here four days and she has eaten meatballs four times. That’s my girl.

Stockholm is a beautiful city. It’s clean and not too busy and the buildings are old and lovely. As are the people (lovely, not old). The first morning at breakfast I accidentally let out a little sigh of pleasure when the waiter was showing us to our table. I also happened to sit facing  him and kept drifting off over my muesli… sorry, where was I? Oh yes. It helps that it is brilliantly sunny and about 24*C every day. Stockholm is built on an archipelago of islands and the sunlight glistens off the water like diamonds.

A few observations:

  • Swedish people do not sound like the Swedish chef. They sound lovely and are pretty to look at too.
  • It is nice to go outside and not melt. Really, even when you’re hot you’re not sweaty, whereas in Singapore you go slimy from the moment you step outside.
  • The basics of Swedish are simple. Hello is hej (hey). Turns out I say hello in Swedish all the time. Goodbye is hej da, which I knew from exiting Ikea. Thank you is tack. For everything else they speak English beautifully. I was nervous beforehand because the alphabet is not quite the same so you can’t fudge your way through on signs as easily as you can in German or French, but they accommodate our language ignorance very graciously.
  • Speaking of Ikea, there is a shuttlebus which leaves from around the corner from my hotel. It may be fate.

Now, I know trip report blogs are meant to be full of photos but they’re all on the good camera and let’s be honest, if you have to wait for me to download them and choose them and set them up you will never read anything. So let’s paint pictures with our words and maybe you’ll get something once I’m back home.


the view from our hotel at 9pm

22 Apr

mortality sucks

I never got to see Prince live. I wish I had.

I had the opportunity. I was in London when he played the O2 arena, which was a really big deal, but I didn’t go. Next time, I thought. Maybe. And then he toured Melbourne and I thought about it, but again I didn’t even try for tickets. I had friends who went though, and I was jealous. I wished I had gone. Next time, I decided again, and now I can’t.

This is why you’ve got to seize the day, people. Take the chances as they come. Make your dreams happen. Yes, your dreams, you still have them, they’re floating around in your head. The things that you fleetingly think, “oh that would be so cool” but in the next breath think, that’s not possible? Those things. Don’t think in terms of “what will I regret on my deathbed”?  because that list will be filled with spending time with your kids and not working so much, blah blah blah. You want to think of the fun stuff that your subconscious is wishing for. No one is lying on their deathbed regretting missing a Prince concert or not seeing the Northern lights, but that’s the stuff that makes life wonderful.

An example: years ago, we went to The Fat Duck restaurant. It was in 2006 or 2007, before Heston became this huge TV personality, when the restaurant was first or second best in the world and he was making headlines because of snail porridge and Sounds of the Sea. It was kind of mythical, a tiny place spoken of with reverence in newspaper articles, hard to get into (and expensive), but one day I realised it was possible for normal people to go, and I mentioned to Dave that of everything in the world dining at The Fat Duck was my dream to do Someday. And he organised it for my birthday and became an absolute hero in my eyes, and it was everything I hoped it would be and more.

So what is yours? Do you want to spend a year in France living only on cheese? See the Aurora Borealis? Write a novel? (Yes, yes and yes.) So do it! There is nowhere on this earth that you can’t go if you want to. Some places, I’ll think you’re nuts if you do want to go there. But that’s okay! Think about these things and make them happen. Don’t dismiss them with Someday. Someday is like the horizon, you’ll never reach it. There’s all these places that get on standard bucket lists like the Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Egypt. Work out which one you really truly actually want to make an effort to see, and do that.

Example two: Eurovision is coming up. This year it’s in Sweden. Do you like watching Eurovision? Lots of people do. We love it. We’ve watched every one together since we’ve been a couple. I buy the album every year. We have parties with friends where we dress up and we have fake voting and have a wonderful time. Last year it was hard because it’s not televised in Singapore so we had to watch it on YouTube on our own. But this year, we’re going, because why the hell not? We have eight days in Stockholm and tickets to both semi finals, and it will be the ultimate awesomeness.

(It’s funny the reactions we get when we tell people, from a nose-wrinkling “oh my god you’re doing what?” to outright laughter. One of Dave’s workmates, a German guy who is now my favourite ever, got so excited. He loves it too, has parties too, but it hadn’t occurred to him to actually go along, even when he lived in Europe! I like to think next year, he’ll be getting tickets.)

This is the stuff I’m talking about. This is what we need to do more of. And yes, I am aware of the irony of me plugging seizing every opportunity and yet spending most days lolling on the couch. I’d better read this entry too.

What things do you dream of doing? Give me some ideas.

11 Apr

because she said so

A friend told me I should write again and lo it is so. Don’t you wish you had this sort of power over me?
I don’t have a good reason for the silence. I’ve been in a funk for the past few months, probably since the start of the year. Again, no real reason. You know Sadness in Inside Out? Dragging herself around, everything too much effort. That was me, only I wasn’t really sad. Just blah.
But! Finally! I feel like I’m finally shaking it off. Like I can actually stand upright. And do things! I’ve been trying some things, and they seem to be helping me feel like myself again.
So anyway. I’m still alive, we’re still in Singapore. It’s still good. I’m okay, better than I have been. I would explain, but there is too much even to sum up today, so bear with me. And I’m glad I got a kick up the butt to write again.
24 Nov

Tortoise Girl and the lost weeks

I was moving very slowly last week. I had a cold and I don’t know if it’s worse to have a cold when it’s hot or that the medicine wasn’t working but it wiped me out. I spent several days flopped on the couch too weak to do anything. I was recovering by the weekend and now I’m full of my normal vim and vigour and back to flopping on the couch too lazy to do anything else.

Before that, on the Sunday, I was moving very slowly, because on the Saturday night I caught a hangover. We went out! With friends! And no kids! It was a friend’s birthday and we went for tapas and wine, and then sangria, and the sangria tasted like fruit punch and I’m not sure how much of it we had actually. B was at a friend’s house for a sleepover which was good because we didn’t get home until after 1am. I felt very seedy on Sunday and basically crawled around the whole day. But oh, how much fun it was to go out! When we were moving here I said the first thing I’d do was set up a regular babysitter, and I haven’t. I have to fix that.

I haven’t made a lot of friends here yet, which is fine because I go for quality over quantity, but there are a couple of people I really really like and this lady is one of them. We had so much fun.

And the week before that–are you following me? We are talking two weeks ago, now–we had a public holiday on the Tuesday for Deepavali (aka Diwali), which is not really a lost day, and I also spent two full days out of the house attempting to sort out our Singapore drivers licences. We have to switch over once we’ve been here a year, and the process is confusing and beaurocratic. Actually, once you know what’s going on it makes sense, but it is still a drawn out process and deserves a post of its own.

What have you been up to?

06 Nov

NaBloPoMo fail, and other updates

Look! Four posts in a week! I bet you’re so excited you don’t know yourself.

NaBloPoMo November 2015

I signed up for NaBloPoMo this month. NaBloPoMo is the blogging equivalent of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where you’re supposed to write a novel during November. For NaBloPoMo you post every day. It used to be only in November but I see now it can be any month. Anyway, I signed up on Saturday when I was full of my plans for rebooting and then promptly forgot. When I wrote the last post on Wednesday it was in the back of my mind that I needed to date it for Tuesday, and then I thought, “don’t be crazy, you can miss a day,” completely forgetting why I was thinking that.

So there’s that.

Other than that, this week has gone fairly well. I have managed to achieve my basic level of competency every day, and I feel calm and in control. And competent! Yesterday was great, I was having coffee with a friend and whizzed through it all before I left. Shazam! Look at me!

On the other hand, I have also found myself at a loose end a lot. Not scheduling more than the basics has left me thinking “what now?” I am not good at choosing one thing to do out of many equal options. If there isn’t anything screaming urgent at me, then I get stuck. I still had times where I wasted a couple of hours playing on my phone, so it’s time to add a few more things in.

On a couple of days I tried meditating and resting before B comes home. What happens usually is I’m in the middle of something when the alarm goes off to meet the bus, or just basically knackered, and I’m not the best mum. So I took 10-15 minutes to lie down and relax (it probably doesn’t even count as meditating), and it’s helped me reset and focus on her, which she deserves.

Today I need to sort out what’s in the freezer and do some groceries, and then curl up with my book. We’re reading Amnesia by Peter Carey for bookclub, and I’m not enjoying it; maybe a couple of chocolate digestives will help.

How’s your week been? Any exciting plans for the weekend? Me neither.

04 Nov

achieving my basic level of competence

The first thing to do when working out the structure of my days is to work out which tasks I need to do to achieve my basic level of competence. My BLC is the minimum amount of work I need to do around here to keep the house and life ticking over. If something happens—I’m engrossed in a project, or out all day running errands, or (like yesterday) B is home sick—as long as I’ve done the things that make up my basic level of competence, I can feel like I’m still on top of things.

These are the things that I think make up my BLC:

  • Reset kitchen: deal with dishes (dishwasher or sink), wipe benches, take out rubbish, keep it nice
  • Pick up lounge
  • Reset bedroom: make the bed, put clothes away, clear rubbish
  • Pick up bathroom
  • Know what’s for dinner
  • Do one load of washing and hang it up afterwards

That last one’s a big one. There are many days where I put a lot of washing on and never quite get around to pulling it out so it sits in there getting moldy and I need to wash it again. If I put a load on, I have to get it out and hang it up to dry. Which reminds me, there’s stuff in the machine now; I better go deal with it.


Seriously, that’s all it took. Although it was mostly towels, so I cheated and put them in the dryer. Now I need to remember to get them out of the dryer later.

I don’t have to do a load every day, many people don’t, but I find if I leave it for a couple of days the pile gets too big with towels and bedding and I get daunted. Better instead to do a little every day. On Monday I did three loads, and that did make me feel fairly productive, until I ran out of room on the drying racks.


I’m finding the best time to do these is first thing in the morning after Dave and B leave. Well, first after I finish my coffee and watch the news and check facebook and blogs, so maybe 9am. It seems to give me a burst of energy that means I might keep being productive, and then I can concentrate on other things without this hanging over my head, so if I do get obsessed with a project at least the house isn’t falling apart. And if I don’t know what’s for dinner, it gives me time to get out to the shops.

Yesterday B stayed home from school with a tummyache and wanted to be glommed onto me, but I spent 15 minutes resetting the kitchen and another 15 on the bedroom/bathroom and throwing on washing, and I was pretty much done. It meant that when she was feeling better the kitchen was clean enough to make a batch of muffins together without me getting snappy. And it was easy to clean up too. I felt competent yesterday. It was nice. I feel competent today too.

Do you have a set of tasks for your basic level of competence? What are they?

02 Nov

where to begin?

The problem with having a lot of projects I want to do is working out which to start with. I can’t do all of them, obviously, so how do I choose? Seriously, how? And what happens to allt he ones I’m not choosing? They’re all important too. Won’t they feel neglected? If I can only do one then I’d better start with something I have to do. Something with a deadline, like finishing our tax returns. Except I don’t really want to do that one, so I need something else as well. Something that’s a treat. But which? And so it goes round and round until I’m paralyzed and anxious. Or, I get obsessed on whatever I choose, and everything else around me goes to hell.

After a lot of scribbling about this in my journal I realised I need to take a step back and look at my goals. What exactly are my goals, anyway? What do I want to achieve, how does the ideal look in my head? Brooke at Brooke: Not on a Diet recently posted about working out the best version of herself, so it was on my mind. More scribbling later I worked out that my goals could be roughly divided into three areas:

Things for my physical and mental health
Things about being organised and effective
Things about creativity and enrichment

And I quickly divided up my goals into those categories.

Me (physical, mental health and happiness)

  • Project Trophy Wife (this is a catch-all for things that make me feel attractive)
  • Up and Moving course
  • meditation and yoga
  • Investigate alternative therapies
  • losing weight, getting fit etc

Being effective

  • catch up all paperwork
  • decluttering and organising house
  • those damn tax returns
  • Aus money sorting
  • running house effectively
  • getting structure in day

Being creative and enriched (I sound like a yogurt)

  • writing – here, journal, fiction
  • sewing and craft
  • reading
  • cooking and baking
  • learning languages
  • taking courses
  • appreciating Singapore

Et cetera. Again, not an exhaustive or even very well expressed list. Have you tried doing this? It’s bloody hard! But I felt really excited once I’d done it, because it makes sense and I can choose something from each area to work on at a time.

For this month, I’m going to work on setting up the basics. This will give me a good foundation for the other work, and also allow me to procrastinate on actually doing any of them:

  • find a structure to my days that works
  • keep up with the basics of running the house and life
  • practice basic self-care: sleep better, drink water, stretch daily, try to be aware of emotions instead of eating them
  • write in my journal (I process thoughts a lot better when I pin them down on a page instead of letting them swirl in my head)
  • be mindful about how I’m spending time (do something fun instead of losing hours on phone)

That doesn’t sound like much, does it? There are whole hours in the day that are unaccounted for. That’s fine, I need to give myself a break while sorting out these basic habits. I’m sure I’ll find a way to fill them. If all else fails I can always work on the fucking tax.

01 Nov


I wrote started a post back in September, when I was supposed to be packing for our trip to England in the school hols, about how I’d started taking my antidepressants again because the lows were getting a bit too low and I was anxious all the time, but now I was feeling numb and didn’t give a toss about anything. I was pondering if it was better to be all deer-in-the-headlights about everything or as bothered as a sloth.

And then I never posted it (or any of the things I scribbled afterwards), which just proves my point.

I am in a bit of a slump, but I don’t really think it’s to do with taking (or not) my medicine. I think I’ve the same problem a lot of retired people have, in that I need more structure in my day. Once Dave and B have gone off earning and learning I have a wide open expanse of 6 or so hours to myself and whether I spend that time doing something useful or lying on the couch watching Mentalist reruns is anyone’s guess.

“You need a project,” Dave said to me after a bad day last week. “I was going to sign you up to something on Open University so you’ll have to do it.”

He’s right. But I’m not short of options of my own.


This was a quick list off the top of my head, and it doesn’t even get near to being complete. This is where I get frustrated. Everyone has one of these lists, right? Everyone thinks “one day when I have time I will do xxx” Well, this IS my one day. I HAVE the time. Why the fuck aren’t I doing something real about it instead of frittering it away?

I need to get some discipline back in my days and work out what I really want to achieve, so that is what I’m going to do. That is my goal for November.


14 Sep

Hazy shade of

…whatever season this is. We are currently experiencing a new to us phenomenon: Singapore haze. Haze is air pollution—we’ve all experienced it—and here it is made up of smoke particles blown in from Indonesia, where they are burning forests, presumably for fun and profit.

At first I pretty much ignored all the chatter about haze and air purifiers because it didn’t seem that different to normal. Every now and then I start feeling like I’ve got hayfever, so at first I figured there was just some new pollen floating around to annoy me. But in the past week it’s got much worse and then the school put the index information in the newsletter and I started seeing variations on this chart everywhere:

click to make bigger

click to make bigger

At our school if the index is over 150 the kids are kept indoors, and for over 300 school is closed. Someone told me 300 is the average index for Beijing; I’m not sure I believe them but if that is true, wow. It was at about 170 on the weekend, and you could see it. It is strange being able to see air. At the supermarket the shelves near the checkout have dust masks instead of magazines. David was supposed to do a cycling event in Indonesia but it was postponed, which I was thankful for. We were outside for about an hour on both Saturday and Sunday and when we came in my throat felt like it had chalk dust on it. Now I am back to coughing like crazy and staying inside sounds like a great idea.

We’re not the only ones having problems with our air, of course. There are sandstorms in Saudi Arabia and bushfires in California. And general crap in the air everywhere else.

Here is a widget which shows our current air quality. Pretty! Now it’s like you’re here with me. Pass the tissues, please.

01 Sep

Adult supervision required.

Dave came home last night after two weeks away and all is now as it should be. To celebrate his return I am spending the day in bed. Don’t get too excited; he had to head straight back out to work so I am alone.

Things fall apart when he’s not here. I do pretty well with the day to day stuff like keeping the child alive and fed, but once she’s in bed there’s no one here to regulate my behaviour. No one to tell me to go to bed or make sure I’m eating right. Consequently I drink all the wine and stay up way too late and now I am freaking exhausted.

So I gave myself a day off to sleep. No one will even notice; it’s really not like I do anything important between 8:30am and 3:30pm anyway. I told myself I deserve this, that it’s important to look after myself. Although, all morning I’ve been lying here watching TV and playing on my phone, so it’s a normal day only horizontal.

Hey! It’s a new month! The first day of spring in Australia (although here they will probably start pretending it’s “autumn” soon, as if that means anything), and my grownup is back. It’s a great time to reset.