Treed and Fumbling

IT'S AUTUMN, A TIME OF the year that seems to always bring with it change. Not major changes, since the obvious major changes earlier, but the minor changes of May. Small deviances in lifestyle that has turned my habits into freed, tumbling leaves.

I stopped rolling my work shirt sleeves up before I leave home in the morning. I now need warm forearms for the walk to the train. I am trying to delay the advent of wearing a jacket to work for as long as possible, but every cold morning feels like it will be the last before I double my layers.

I stopped flushing my used dental floss down the toilet every night. Now I carry it to a bin after brushing. I miss peeing on it.

I stopped drinking Pepsi Max the day before Anzac Day. So that's fifteen days without soda. I'm not sure when exactly I became a Pepsi Max fiend, somewhere between the 29c can sale during BULKtember and this day. What I do know is that I have averaged two cans a day since. I stopped mainly to help preserve my teeth, and also because I was feeling paranoid about drinking a Pepsi Max at 1:30pm every single day at work and I couldn't stop thinking that my predictably presented the perfect opportunity for someone to poison me.

Not posting journal entries very often is a change.

I had my hair cut on the weekend, mainly so I would look less awkward in my new baseball cap. I spent a whole day dealing with my trimmings falling from my head like freed, tumbling leaves.

I have eaten a minimum of four pieces of fruit each day this week, and cut out all baked goods and processed foods. It makes me feel tingly at times.

I started posting my journal entries on weird backgrounds.

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Sydney Traffic Chaos and Cityrail Woes

Yesterday I was sitting in the window seat of a Devonshire Street bar in Sydney’s Surry Hills with a local named Gus. It was a Tuesday night, at a time of year when the evening air starts to feel less like atmosphere and more like an aggressive, ethereal defender, protecting the outdoors from humans. In spite of these facts the pub was full and lively and warm. There wasn’t even trivia on, to draw this crowd, or happy hours deals to keep them inside. The content, chattering populous was there for two reasons. One was the venue itself, a traditional brick pub with polished floorboards and a restored wooden bar featuring old style taps. A long wall was covered by a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf filled with hardback collections that would have fit in perfectly in the den of any respectable professor from the turn of the century.
The other reason was, four and a half million people live in Sydney, and after the sun goes down they all have to end up somewhere.
It was Gus who had decided we should choose this venue for our meeting. He had local knowledge, and recommended it as “a nice place to have a drink.” As we sat by the window watching the light traffic on Crown Street go by I was compelled to agree.
As the evening progressed it did not take long for our conversation to turn to the topic of our trips into town, both by car and by train. Public transport and work commutes, I believe, are two of the most popular topics of discussion and contention in Sydney. Others obviously share my theory as every time I see an advert for any of the commercial television stations’ current affair programs they are always yelling “trains!” or “Sydney’s biggest road network fail!” and usually in all caps. The most read section of the Herald and the Telegraph almost always leads with an editorial on Rail changes or an article about road works and delays. It seems like you only have to put phrases like “Sydney traffic chaos” or “cityrail woes” into the title of your article and every idiot will clamour to read no matter how banal the actual content is.
Gus recently had to drive from Barangaroo to Woolloomooloo in mid-afternoon traffic. A twenty minute walk or, as he informed me, a thirty minute drive. After this experience he said he was “astounded” that people would choose to drive their cars into Sydney’s CBD and deal with the congestion, parking charges and one way streets when they could easily arrive by train instead. I agreed with him, saying that I myself would never do such a thing, but I added that after my experience with peak hour trains I could understand why others might make that decision. While I have no problems catching the train that I want and disembarking where I plan to, I have seen enough short people sardined in the morning trains, crowd surfing for the best part of an hour because they can’t reach anything to hold on to. On other occasions I have also witnessed small students and the elderly trying to alight at Redfern or Wynyard stations only for the awaiting masses to decide that the time to board had now come and in the process dragged them back into the train like a tourist in a riptide, forced to look hopelessly out the window as the train carries them away from their intended destination while they’re trapped between travellers in a stairwell, or lobbed up onto a luggage rack.
Following these tales Gus and I both processed what we had learnt from each other. After this moment of thought we simultaneously came to the same conclusion:
“Something needs to be done about Sydney’s trains...” he said.
“And something must be done about Sydney’s traffic,” I finished his sentence.
We nodded a confirmation, and I took another sip from my middy of Little Creatures Pale Ale.

How's Married Life?

Now that I'm married one of the first questions I hear when catching up with friends or acquaintances is "How's married life?"
Usually these are in what I define as “small talk situations”, so even if it’s a genuine enquiry it's kind of a bogus question. Most of the time those asking aren't expecting me to describe to them the new extents to which you can feel connected to a person. Nor do they really want details on the reassuring strength a partnership can provide when both parties show unlimited connection and trust and love for one another.
Nope, "How's married life?" is like a limited time, never to be repeated "how are you?" or "how was your weekend?" It's a more polite way of saying to someone you meet at a party, "Amuse me with anecdotes, recognisable human." Well, sure, I'll tell you what's different about married life:

  • I can't moisturise with my left hand anymore. I keep slapping metal into my eye socket.
  • The lower quality mugs in my mug collection are developing more scratches. Way to unsurprisingly cheap out, previous employer.
  • You should open a term deposit 100% in the name of the person in the marriage who is the lower tax bracket.
  • I've discovered the secret, probably popular game called bang your ring against the handlebar of your shopping trolley for your entire trip around the supermarket.
  • I feel the need to periodically update two online journals now, instead of one.

How’s Married Life?

I have been married for close to two months now and people still keep asking me “How’s Married Life?” Well, for those who aren’t disingenuous, here’s the real answer:

Married life makes me feel great. I like knowing that I have a partner in life who is committed to me with no ulterior motive, someone who is willing to share everything they have. I also like being that person in return for Vanessa. We’re a duo, teammates in a world that’s for the most part playing a single player game. We help each other so much it’s like we’re cheating at life’s challenges. Sometimes that’s the big stuff and sometimes that just involves one of us joining the end of the queue for the checkouts while the other grabs the last few items on the shopping list.

Marriage is like the ultimate connection. It’s like we’re not finishing each other’s sentences anymore, we can read the other person’s thoughts.

Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night to Vanessa fussing in her sleep, talking worriedly and breathing fast. When this happens I assume she’s having bad dreams about cats or the colour green. Whenever this happens I roll over and lay my arm over her. She doesn’t wake up, but just this slight amount of contact seems to relax her and her breathing returns to normal. And then I fall back asleep.

In some ways this event sums up my satisfaction with being married. I think it’s awesome to have a bond with someone that’s so strong that they can feel your presence even when they’re fast asleep. It makes you feel like you’re part of something special. And I know that she’s still asleep after I put my arm around her because she’ll sometimes make this light, wheezy snoring sound that she would never make while conscious because of how embarrassed she’d feel if anyone heard her making it.

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I’m a much cleaner person in winter. That’s not to say I’m unclean during Summer. When it’s chilly my brain simply seems to be more diligent at finding things to clean to justify staying in the shower longer. Some examples thoughts from the past few weeks that have kept me under the hot water for longer than necessary include:

  • I guess I really should clean the space between my toes again.
  • The back of the facial cleanser says to leave on for one minute and I refuse to compromise on a single second.
  • I’ve washed the hair in my armpits, but I haven’t conditioned there yet.
  • I know I’m running late for work but I should probably trim those hairs on my shoulder before I get out.
  • Rinse and repeat if necessary? How do you know if a repeat shampooing is necessary? Well, better safe than sorry.
  • This is great! I can’t believe I’ve gone this far through life without thinking of flossing in the shower.


Rainbow Bay

image 1111 from

Photographing Sydney Harbour has taught me a lot about how lights reflect on the water during long exposures... and not a lot else.