It's my third blogoversary. It's also a time of year when many of us look back and evaluate the previous year.

In the past, I compiled my favourite posts for my blogoversary. This year, I don't feel like doing that.

I wrote less on my blog and read fewer other blogs. It was easier to engage on Twitter and Facebook.

I felt like I could better describe my emotional state on tumblr than on my blog.

I'm still not sure why I have this blog. It's not for attention, I don't make money, and it's getting more difficult to be honest about my life online.

But I plan to continue.

Thank you for reading. Best wishes for a happy, healthy, prosperous 2012.

Written on iPod Touch -- because I spilled coffee on my laptop. A LOT OF COFFEE. I hope in 2012 I have better karma and am less clumsy.


I broke my laptop.

Sometimes I am clumsy. Last week I tripped over the cord to my laptop. The pin on the end of the cord broke off in the socket of the laptop.

The cost to repair it is NZ$400 (with a one-year warranty). This is about half the cost of a comparable new machine, which is NZ$900. In New Zealand, even with the high Kiwi dollar, computers are expensive.

It costs a lot to ship a computer to a small, remote country. It's also nice to have the right plug, if you know what I mean.

Are laptops over anyway? I just read an article that said by 2015, most of us will use only tablets and smartphones. I'm writing this post on my iPod touch. I already can do almost everything I need to do with this hand-held device.

Without a laptop, Six and I are doing some things the way I did Before. I'm buying paper newspapers, going physically to the bank, talking more on the phone, writing with a pen on paper. Life seems slower.

I'm sad computers aren't made to last. I had a relationship with my laptop, and now it's over. A three-year-old machine that was going fine and only needs a simple repair is rubbish.

You may disagree with me, but many of us treat human relationships like our old computers. After the warranty expires, when we "start getting real", we see people as they really are, with all their flaws. We may decide the cost of maintaining these relationships is too high, and just buy new.

Written on iPod touch


Ten things I never want to hear a man say again.

Men say a lot of stupid things. They are simple creatures and not that difficult for most women to figure out. But I am a slow learner and also a wishful thinker. This is a lethal combination when it comes to forming relationships with men. Yes, I am a doormat.

Here are some things that will tempt me to pull a Lorena Bobbit if I ever hear them again.

10. I’ll call you.
This old nugget has been men’s exit line forever. Give me a break, guys. I know at the very best, you’ll wait three days (or a week) to ring me. Or you will just disappear off the face of the earth. Don’t leave me waiting in the wings. Just say “Bye.”

9. My wife and I are getting a divorce. Yes, I’ve filed the papers!
Ladies, if you ever are unfortunate enough to hear this line, be smarter than me. Run for your life.

8. Who were you talking to?
Mom, is that you? Jesus. This type of guy is way too into your business. He will ring you fifteen times a day. This is not a good thing.

7. You are the only one that I am...
All your warning bells should be going off. A relative of this line is “But it didn’t mean anything.”

6. But I always go to my mother’s house for Christmas.
He really should have married his mother.

5. Let’s split the cheque.
Feminism screwed the women of my generation. We were brought up to think we were equals with men. This took away our ability to recognize shiftless non-providers for what they are.

If a guy tries to split the cheque with you, in less than a year’s time, he will need to borrow money because he “didn’t get paid”. Or he won’t be able to afford to buy you a ring.

So, if he doesn’t pick up the tab, and you somehow end up together in the future (because you are an idiot), you’ll be supporting this guy. Consider yourself warned.

4. You live too far away.
It’s amazing how men will cross the earth and go to the moon if they think there is a chance they will have sex with you. But if you just want to hang out and watch a movie, all of a sudden “you live too far away.”

3. Want to see a naked photo of me?
Only if it comes with dinner and a movie. And a big diamond.

2. Don’t think so much.
This is insulting. It’s kind of like “Shut up”, with a side order of “Lie back and enjoy it.”

1. I have a cold.
A man with a cold. This is self-explanatory.

If you know of any other lines I should watch out for, please add them in the comments.


Dear Juli

Occasionally someone emails me and asks for relationship advice.

I'm not qualified to give relationship advice. But in the spirit of “if you can’t do, teach”, I'm going to share the knowledge I've gained through painful life experience. I am fickle, so I may only do this once. We shall see.

Dear Juli:
I'm from Indiana, and I've fallen in love with a great guy. The only problem is, he lives in New Zealand. What should I do?
–Pretty Woman

Dear P.W.:
Don't be an idiot. Don’t fall in love with a Kiwi. Have a brief affair. (Is the sex really that good?) Then say goodbye forever. (Unless you are from Russia and have no family.) Try to meet someone from Chicago.

Falling in love accidentally is a myth. Falling in love isn't like stepping in dog shit. Well, actually it's a lot like that. Don’t fall in love with this guy. Snap out of it.

If you've already made the mistake of falling in love (and you want to be in the same country), you'll need to get permission to live in New Zealand. (Unless you want to get him a green card. Which I don't recommend, unless you are particularly masochistic.) This will be an invasive bureaucratic hassle.

In the movies, the wrong people always fall in love. And after 90 minutes, they live happily ever after, or they die.

You are not a character in a movie. Or a teenager. (If you are a teenager, I don’t want to know about you having sex with the best body you'll ever have in your life.)

This may not be what you've read in women’s magazines. But falling in love isn't something that happens in spite of yourself. Choose who you fall in love with. You don’t want your relationship status to be “It’s Complicated.”

Obviously, I haven’t followed my own advice. My speciality in life has been impossible relationships. (My motto is: The more red flags, the better.) So, unless you want to write to a blog like mine, don’t fall in love. Because love stinks.


I'll try anything once.

Blogging every day in May didn’t happen. HAHAHAHAHA. Yes, that's the sound of me laughing. I'll try anything once. But I should have set a more realistic goal—like, brushing my teeth every day. Let’s move on.

So, camping over Easter weekend was fun. (Mostly.) We camped next to a rain forest. (It rained a lot.) We spent our afternoons debating—would the tent leak? (It didn't.)

I was impressed by the facilities. (Free electric barbecues! Power to charge your mobile phone! Rubbish collection!)

We ate well. Steaks and burgers and sausages and chicken wings. Porridge for breakfast and proper coffee. Easter lollies and chocolate.

The Bogans were our neighbours. Uncle and his three teenage boys, Niece and her young two kids, and a couple of dogs. They had two caravans and two tents.

After our first night, they shared secrets about the camp ground. They'd been going there for years, and they had the best camp site. They knew where to find dry wood. Did we need more tent pegs or another tarp?

“I wish we had a caravan,” I said.

Uncle told me about the deal that he got when he bought his caravan, and how to get around paying the rego for the whole year.

“And you can come up here if you separate from your partner,” Uncle said. “You can stay here until yous get set up.”

Apparently, this was what he had done when his wife kicked him out. I didn’t mention that Adam and I had separated. It was too complicated to explain.

The Bogans were unruly, but nice people. They always had a fire going on the bank of the river. (They were burning old furniture.) They drank and played music—but not too late. They looked after a dog someone had left in the campground.

But I couldn't help thinking of a scene from “Cold Mountain”.

“Do you remember when Jude Law’s character and that crazy preacher go up to the lopsided cabin, and they get drunk on moonshine?" I asked Adam.

"The room is spinning, and the women are dancing around and lifting up their skirts. And they get turned in for being deserters.”

It was a strange, tangential thought.

But aren't all holidays an odyssey? Adam and I went on a journey together. While we camped in the ruins of our marriage, I was happy to pretend we were still a couple. One last time.


Jigsaw falling into place.

The week before Easter, Adam and I decided to take Six camping over the long weekend. I don’t remember how this decision came about. Maybe it was temporary insanity. Or maybe in the wake of a separation, you sometimes try to put your family back together, like a jigsaw falling into place.

I wanted a change of scenery. And even though Easter wasn’t “my day”, I would get to spend some time with Six.

"This is great for Six," Adam and I said.

On Thursday the weather was glorious. By chance, Adam had the day off. Since rain was forecast for later in the weekend, I did my best to persuade Adam to leave a day early.

But Adam wisely rejected my impulsive plan. There wasn’t enough time. We wouldn’t be able to get to the campgrounds before dark.

I was disappointed. “Oh, well. Six has swimming in the morning anyway." We would leave the next day, as we had planned.

I love making lists. I found a camping checklist on a website, and I assembled camping gear in my head. Duct tape, laundry pegs, mess kit, first aid kit. Sleeping bags, food. Adam and I each would bring food for a few meals.

I patted myself on the back. We wouldn’t waste time "negotiating" over what to bring. Since our separation, I had really grown. I was more independent, and better at communicating. Less controlling. I had evolved. Maybe Adam and I would be a new kind of couple. Living separately, but still doing things together.


I fell off the wagon.

Last month, I fell off the blogging wagon. I wrote only one post in the entire month of April.

As a newly separated and somewhat disaffected SAHM, I wanted to blog. But my energy was consumed by Stressful Life Changes and Tedious Tasks.

Adam and I are still rearranging our lives into two separate households. And for the last fortnight, Six was on his school holidays. I really had no time to blog. However, I was able to rant on Twitter. (See for yourself here.)

I whimpered and tweeted. And yet, I missed sharing my musings with you here—those naked, personal thoughts that a sane or normal person would keep to herself. Could I stretch my hours to include blogging? I wondered.

What I needed was some extrinsic motivation. Something to help me recapture the desire to overshare on my blog.

For many people, wages are a good incentive. But wages are rare in blogging. It seems that I must “make do” with another round of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month).

So, I will post every day in May. Maybe the fear of failing this challenge will motivate me to blog.

Project Firewood was a success. Thank you to you and you and you.
You know who you are. I've been thinking about you a lot, and postcards soon will be in the post, full of my scribbled thanks and gratitude. Because I am grateful, even though I am no good at expressing gratitude. You helped me step away from a ledge, and I never will be able to thank you enough.


Thank you, kind beautiful people.

Dear Small, But Devoted Readership:

Thank you, kind beautiful people. You know who you are.

Soon you will be receiving a postcard full of heartfelt thanks from me via snail mail. Something you can put on your fridge. I will use (and keep confidential) your PayPal shipping address. If this is the wrong address for anyone, please email me.

I am so grateful, you lovely people. I am thinking New Age thoughts about you. Wishing you lifetimes of happiness, health, and good fortune.

I know these are bad times for lots of people. I am still mostly out of work in rural New Zealand, and I need help. I hate that I don’t have a book to sell you. All I have right now is this blog. My blog of two years, which I have written for the love. That is, FOR FREE.

If you happen to have lots of disposable income, and you are wondering which nonprofit charity to support, may I suggest Juli and Six of Wellington Road? I only ask because I don’t know how I will make it through the next month.

Maybe nobody knows how they will make it through. But clinging to this precipice is scaring me.

My income has been reduced since Adam and I separated. But my landlords, who enjoy bleeding stones, have raised my rent. (They raise my rent every year. They like to hear me whimper.)

I need to move to a cheaper house. This is probably a good thing, as we aren't happy with Six's school. (More on this in another post.)

In the meantime, there’s the rubbish bill and car maintenance and doctor’s visits. I need to pay someone to mow these stupid lawns. Six needs winter clothes and school supplies. It is past time to order firewood (the method by which we heat our house in winter).

In New Zealand, the cost of living is high. Housing prices here are among the most expensive in the world. Petrol is not cheap either (about US$8 a gallon). There is no such thing as a spontaneous trip to the mall. I MUST combine trips. Food is also expensive (US$10 for a gallon of milk).

I consider my budget so carefully. When Six is with me, we have wholesome meals. But on the weekends, when Six is with his dad, I try not to buy anything. I make a game out of it—how cheap can I eat?

I am working it all out. But I don’t want to choose between firewood and food. I am on the dole, but the benefit only goes so far. Same with family assistance. I am underemployed.

I don’t like putting this out there. No, I don’t have a book. I would love to sell you one. But I have creative skills, a broadband internet connection, and a post shop. Hire me? If you have a spare twenty, will you drop it in my tip jar? (It's in my sidebar.) Let me know what I can swap for money.

P.S. If you are local, maybe you want to buy some of my stuff? YOU CAN CLUTTER UP YOUR GARAGE WITH MY STUFF.


The river house.

In the 1950s, my granny’s dad built a house by the Susquehanna River, south of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We called it the river house. It had three bedrooms and a large enclosed porch. Under the porch, there was a work shop with a second toilet and a primitive sink. After the remnants of a hurricane, the river once rose and flooded the house.

The river house was near a small town where a famous baseball player was born. The house sat back from an isolated little road, which lay like a pale grey ribbon next to a railway line. Twice a day freight trains rattled past the house.

You couldn’t see the river house from the road. A narrow driveway had been cut through a tall hedge, which threatened to swallow your car before you were released into an open pocket beside the house. In the adjacent garden marigolds grew as big as saucers. A long path led to a picnic shelter surrounded by mature oak trees, and eventually to the Susquehanna River.

The river was two miles wide, and there was an island in the middle of the river. But the cooling towers from the nuclear plant at Three Mile Island still towered over you like sentinels.

Three Mile Island was a name whose syllables ran together like the branches of the river. It often seemed like just one word, like Susquehanna. “Three-Mile-Island.”

Of course, everyone knows about the accident at Three Mile Island. There was a partial meltdown of the reactor core in one of the plant's two units. It happened three years before my first visit to the river house.

When I was at the river house, nobody seemed concerned about another accident, or whether it was safe to be there. Maybe they were worried, and I just didn't know. I was only twelve years old.

I liked to daydream on a bench by the river. Sometimes I could hear whistles from the plant at Three Mile Island. People made eerie announcements over a public address system. There were clouds of white steam that rose from the active towers. I wondered if the steam was filled with radioactive particles.

The towers followed me everywhere. I could see them from the hills above the river valley. At night, the lights on the towers made them seem other-worldly, like spaceships in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".

It didn’t occur to me that someone might try—try!—to crash into the towers with a airplane, or to block the cooling-water intake pipes in the river. Those thoughts came much later, after the river house was sold, and my granny’s dad passed away.


Are you "real" online?

Thank you for your e-mails after my post on my separation. I had never closed comments before. Maybe it was a mistake. But at the time, I just felt, rightly or wrongly, that I couldn’t bear to have someone “Like” my post (or not “Like” it). And I thought Adam might read it. (And he did. But I will save that story for another post.)

There are two ways in which people think about their online personas. Some people believe their online selves are separate from their “real” selves. They may be anonymous online or use a pseudonym. If you do this, you can be hidden. In some circumstances this can be good. You can tell people as much or as little about yourself as you want.

The online dimension is fictitious, like a dream world. These people often believe that once you turn off your computer, you leave your online persona behind. They set up boundaries between online and “real” life. They confide extremely personal things online, things they would not tell people in “real” life. But they won’t give their phone number to people they meet online.

Other people try to combine their online and offline personas. Last year some bloggers talked a lot about being "authentic" online. I try to be the same person online that I am in "real" life. Maybe you do too. Especially on Facebook, where our online and offline worlds have collided.

But it is nearly impossible to be the same self online as your “real" offline self. Even if you try to be “authentic” online, you still will be different from yourself offline. For example, you may reveal more about yourself online than offline. But there won't be verbal cues to go along with what you have revealed. And why have you repressed these things in "real" life?

Talking to someone on Skype, on the phone, or face-to-face gives you more information about a person’s identity. This doesn’t make one source of information more true than another. Each form of communication reveals some things about a person’s identity, and it hides others. The self that is revealed in one area is not deeper or more authentic than a self revealed in another. This is because there is no one location where you can find the true or real self.

For more about the psychology of being online, please see this excellent article that I found on Twitter via Andrea.


Christchurch earthquake.

Thank you to everyone who was concerned about me after the Christchurch earthquake. We are OK. We were in no danger, and we didn’t even feel anything.

Today began like an ordinary day. I weeded the garden, and I did a load of washing. I was going to go to the supermarket, and I intended to write a post on my blog (now postponed). After lunch, Five’s school rang. Five had a sore throat. He wanted to come home.

When Five and I returned home, I read on Twitter about a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the city of Christchurch. It quickly became clear that Christchurch had suffered a devastating quake.

Christchurch is in the South Island, about 200 miles from where we live (up the coast from Wellington in the North Island). After a massive quake in September, Christchurch has suffered many aftershocks.

Despite only being a 6.3, today’s quake was more severe than the September quake. It was closer (only about six miles from the centre of the city) and shallower (only three miles underground), and it occurred at lunchtime—when the city was full.

At the time of writing 65 people have been confirmed dead. The number of fatalities is certain to rise. Rescue workers are working through the night, trying to save people who are still trapped. Since we are only a small country of about 4 million, in times of crisis, it really feels like family. Across the nation our hearts are aching.

Photo source: Stuff.co.nz


More dirty laundry.

I've been thinking about the best way to tell you this. In my bewilderment, I even went to some other blogs, looking for a template. Do I try to write about it like DWK or Waffle? Or Jessica? What did Neil write? Or BHJ, when he wrote about his “monstrous freedom”? My mother’s advice is to say as little as possible.

Bringing it up, just talking about it, feels wrong. It's like airing dirty laundry. People don’t want to know about it.

I realise (as with most things in life) there is no instruction manual. Fifty percent of marriages end in separation, but there is no right way to tell people about it.

Adam and I have separated. I have written a lot about my marriage on my blog. After the dust settles and some issues are ironed out, maybe I will write more about it.

There is a finite number of ways to talk about how separation sucks. I could tell you how afraid I was to leave. I could tell you I felt as if I was swimming under water, and I surfaced.

I am enjoying the prospect of being single and doing whatever I want. I sometimes feel waves of relief.

But there is also sadness. And anger. And guilt.

Even with a more equitable child sharing agreement, I don’t want to pack Five’s duffel bag for the weekend. I hate not seeing him for several days.

Hearing about someone’s breakup is tiresome. It's only entertaining up to a certain point. Then it becomes uncomfortable. I know this, and I don’t want to alienate you.

But  don't know how much self-control I will be able to muster. I don't have a stiff upper lip.

Closing comments for this post.


Am I really having a midlife crisis?

Colin Firth joked about his midlife crisis when he picked up his Golden Globe for best actor.

Firth said: “To get to this stage of your life with your dignity and judgment intact can be somewhat precarious. Sometimes all you need is a bit of gentle reassurance to keep you on track but right now this is all that stands between me and a Harley Davidson.”

On Twitter women swooned.

Colin Firth's announcement is really a strange coincidence. Because I think I'm having a midlife crisis.

A midlife crisis happens between the ages of 40 and 60. (I am young, but I am gifted.) It was first identified by my good friend psychologist Carl Jung (whose theories also are behind the Myers Briggs Personality Test).

But what happens in a midlife crisis? I googled and found a handy guide online.

*Unhappiness with the lifestyle that had provided happiness for many years.
No. I'm happy with my lifestyle. My unhappiness stems from NOT wanting to change my lifestyle. I want to stay home and continue working on the novel that I won't publish.

*Boredom with people who had interested you before.
Yes. This is normal, right?

*Feeling a need for adventure.
Yes. But I've been feeling a need for adventure since I was nine years old.

*Questioning choices you have made in your life.
Yes. Why do I choose the wrong men? What was I thinking when I decided to be an English major? Why didn't I buy more coffee?

*Confusion about who you are and where you are going.
God, yes. But this is not new. I have always been confused about these things.

*Anger at spouse and feeling tied down.
Yes. I don’t blame Adam for my feeling tied down. Just for a lot of other stuff.

*Unable to make decisions about where you want to go with your life.
Sobbing. This is obviously the new tag line for my blog.

*Desire for a new and passionate intimate relationship.
No. Absolutely not. If I am ever released from my marriage, I don't want to be shackled to a man again. Unless he is very rich, has no family, and is suffering from a terminal illness.

To sum up, nobody has a clue. Psychologists especially have no idea about how to live life or what it all means. Midlife crisis fail.

For more self-help, navel-gazing, and use of a blog for therapy, refer to other articles in this series, such as Am I neurotic?


Enjoy the silence.

I want to tell you what is going on with me. I want to confide in you. But I am afraid. Yes, a little afraid of what you will say or think.

And I am afraid to say things out loud. Because saying things out loud makes them real. If my thoughts are just in my mind, then I can pretend that I am daydreaming. So I am still in denial about these things. I am silent.

I am on the cusp of making some changes. And cusps can be uncomfortable places. At some point a leap of faith is necessary. And I don’t want to bungy jump off a bridge, or jump out of a plane. I may act as if I am spontaneous, but it takes me ages to make a decision.

It is easy for me to romanticize the past. I have a fickle memory, and I gloss over a lot. There are memories of the past that I want to avoid. So I have learned how to ignore them. I can move around them. This is what I do.

There are obstacles in my future. I am sure there will be good things too. But the obstacles seem cumbersome.

I don’t think this is about being positive, or looking at things in a brighter light. My FIL says I should think of obstacles as opportunities. But my obstacles are more like enemies that need slaying. Maybe I am being overly dramatic.

Obstacles are challenges. And I don’t want to be challenged. I don’t want to be the knight in this story. I want to be the damsel.

And so here I perch, summoning all my courage for a leap of faith, while I hope for a Deus Ex Machina.

Image source: Wikipedia

In summer it is difficult to be anxious and depressed. It is work. Gloomy winter weather lends itself to depression. But complaining in summer is just churlish.

I have forgotten what this post is supposed to be about.

Today I sat in the sun, and I ate a ripe juicy peach. Its juice ran down my arm, and my son stunned me again with his kindness. Maybe this afternoon we will go to the beach and swim in the sea. Or instead we will play cards, or we will play with his train set.

I feel weighed down by responsibility and kind of pessimistic about my outlook, but I am so grateful for my boy. He is wonderful.

How are you?

Edited to add. Maybe I am not really afraid of what you think. It is more like I am shedding a skin, and I feel raw and vulnerable. It is confusing. Change was easier when I was younger.

Edited again to add. Uh-oh. I think I was too vague. This post is just about my feelings and my crumbling marriage and going back to paid work. You know. Life. But things are OK, and I am sure they will get better. I AM FINE.

Edited again to add. You probably won't believe this, but I didn't even intend to publish this post. I clicked the wrong button. IT WAS LIKE FATE.