It's a wonderful life.

Every year, I panic about Christmas. I get so overwhelmed. I don’t have that much to do. But I'm a worrier.

I'm going to be honest with you. I don’t like Christmas. All my life, I thought I liked Christmas. I've finally admitted to myself I don’t. In fact, I’ve never liked Christmas—the hustle and the bustle and the scrambling. It's too intense for me.

I keep hoping that Christmas won't happen. Because I am a chronic procrastinator, and I hate shopping. If you see me at the shops, I'm sorry if I seem crazier than usual. Soon it will be over.

I'm trying to slow down and enjoy it.

Anyway, I have some great news. My good friend Neil (who is from New York) is coming to New Zealand for Christmas and New Year’s. I'm so excited (and nervous) about his visit.

If you know me, I am a lazy, neurotic hermit. But since Neil and I have a lot in common, I think we'll have fun.

Flixster - Share Movies


Moving on.

When Seven was six months old, the owner who was never going to sell put our flat on the market. So I had a bee in my bonnet about moving on. I didn’t want people traipsing through our flat during open homes. We had a baby!

Adam and I looked at several places, but we couldn’t agree. Adam thought a character cottage was too small. I hated a Lockwood house with fruit trees in the garden.

The next day there was an ad in the newspaper for a three bedroom house with timber floors in the village. 

I rang and asked the owner if the house had a bathtub or a fireplace.

“There's no bath. I’m not sure if the fire even works. And the garden is a jungle,” S said.

“We’ll take it.”

“Go and have a look,” S said. She gave me the address, spelling out the unfamiliar street name.

Adam and I put the baby in his car seat, and we drove up the coast to the house. Remarkably, we both liked it, and we were lucky enough to be chosen as tenants.

It was a private 1940s house, on a corner, a block away from the beach, at the park end of the village. You could see the sea from the front deck and the bedroom, and through the French doors in front, which nobody ever used. Everyone used the back door, which was not as picturesque an entrance, but whatever. 

You could also see the sea from the kitchen, and even from the back deck, if you knew the right way to look. We only had a couple of big afternoon birthday parties at our house, but we always said its “open plan” had a good “flow”.

Seven and I lived in this house for seven and a half years. Of course, while we lived there, the house went through some changes. The lounge and the dining room traded places –  a couple of times. Seven’s nursery eventually became the spare room/office.

Using the open fireplace filled the lounge with smoke and set off the smoke alarm. Adam put in a used wood burner that we bought on Trade Me. He spent years taming the jungle in the garden. And he put a door on the garage, which became his “man cave”. (Or “where all his stuff had to go”.) Seven went to the village Playcentre (the co-op preschool).  I made new friends. 

The night President Obama was elected, there was a gale. The French doors swung open and banged against the side of the house. This caused their panes of glass to shatter. So, the owners put in new double glaze windows.

Adam painted three sides of the house. Apparently, the owners didn’t have the money or the inclination to pay him to paint the fourth side.

When Seven grew too big for a baby bath in the shower, we bought a used cast iron bathtub on Trade Me. We put it in the kitchen. There was nowhere else for it to go.The bathtub never had a tap – we filled it by using a hose from the laundry sink.

Seven started primary school. Then he changed schools, so instead of walking with Seven to school, we had to drive. Our marriage ended, and Adam moved out.

The owners bought a new dishwasher. They built a new privacy fence on the front deck. We quibbled over the garden since Adam was no longer looking after it.

“I promise I won’t let it become a jungle – l
ike it was when we moved in,” I said.

Every year the owners raised the rent, by three or four per cent, to keep the house at “market rate”. Before our marriage ended, Adam and I said year after year, “If the rent goes up by much more, we will move on.”

But we didn’t move on. We felt our rental was nicer than other rentals. Sometimes we even felt a bit clever or smug about it. 

And yet, other houses have baths with taps, and insulation. And more manageable gardens. And off-street parking. And street names we don’t need to spell. Those houses are in the school zone. And are cheaper.

This year when the owners raised the rent (I'm embarrassed to tell you how much the rent had become, but it was too expensive for me), just like that, it was time for me to move on.

When I first looked at my new house, I waffled a bit, but I knew it was the one. 

My new house was built in the 1940s. It's not in the village, but it's in Seven's school zone, and it has a bathtub with a tap, and a heat pump. You can see the sea from the driveway, or from Seven's room if you know how to look, and it has a very easy garden.


My monthly blog post.

I doubt I ever will be able to post as often as I used to on this website, since the excitement of having a lot to say has twittered away, and my reasons for blogging are changing. Most blogs are losing steam — I feel sad when my favourites fade out. But one does get tired of one’s own voice.

I continue to blog for the love,  maybe not as much for therapy. I'm remembering that my journal is a great place for navel-gazing. But I still want to write to you. I have things to tell you, important things that I've considered carefully while driving Seven to school, doing the dishes, or watching American Idol. I'll keep posting here, as much as I can.

Last year after Adam and I separated, in the midst of all the trauma, I felt vaguely enthusiastic about the idea of a fresh start. I believed it was a chance to transform myself, as if I was a butterfly that could just fly away from our marriage.

After leaving our relationship, I realise I have only traded sets of problems, and of course I am still the same neurotic, lazy person. It is humbling to become aware that the issue wasn’t our relationship, but me.

I was probably overconfident. For example, I thought I could do everything myself around the house. Cleaning my hair out of the shower drain isn’t that hard. And I thought I could hire a handyman to do the really difficult chores, like sweeping the chimney, or removing a wasp nest from the garden shed.

But I find myself increasingly baffled by what I need to do. I don’t know how to change the vacuum cleaner bag because Adam always did it. I am perplexed when I need to repair the door of the dryer—should I use glue? 

I tend to let housework slide. The house is a mess. The stove and the shower both need cleaned. And I am STILL looking for a cheaper house—my search spurred on because Landlord raised my rent.

Thinking about the money I need to spend week to week makes me panic. My spare energy is directed at finding stable work. All I want is to claw myself out of poverty, put a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food in our bellies. I am constantly afraid, anxious about the future. Will I be able to get back on my feet? I scold myself for being childish and wallowing, but I worry I have made the wrong choices in life.

I don't want sympathy or encouragement. I am just trying to say that I am still here if you want to keep reading. And I am OK. I am not beaten. I know I will get through this. Tomorrow is another day.


New Year's resolutions.

This post is about New Year’s resolutions, a topic which is still timely on Feb. 29. I don’t want to brag, but this is my blog, and as always, I am right on top of things. And if you think about it, being on top of things eliminates any need for New Year’s resolutions.

To bring us up to date, after tearful phone calls, ordering of parts, tech visits (more tears), Laptop finally was repaired, out of pity, or to make me shut up. It was an expensive miracle.

After Spillmageddon, I am not drinking coffee with Laptop. Like a pack-a-day smoker who quits smoking cold-turkey, breaking a twenty-year habit isn't easy. One day at a time.

Cups with Lids
Before you comment or email, yes, I've heard about cups with lids. They are a wonderful invention. But I am accident-prone, and I KNOW I could spill coffee from a cup with a lid. It's a gift. My new rule is no coffee (or other liquids) by Laptop. A New Year’s resolution that I can keep.

Unfortunately, not-drinking coffee with Laptop has had a negative impact on my productivity. Or so I want to believe. Because once or twice a week, things have interrupted me from my current task, which is finding paid work.

Things. Landlord is panicking about me moving out (one day). So, handymen are popping in. Six had a fever and missed two days of school. I needed to buy new tyres for the car. Taxes. You know, the things that fill regular life.

I thought my problem was general laziness, but realise another issue is low-level, debilitating anxiety. I worry a lot.

I have expanses of time, but as previously mentioned, there are too many interruptions.

Considering taking something (?) for my anxiety, but taking drugs to feel normal is no fun. So, my New Year’s resolution is to run more, while Six is at school and at his dad’s. Exercise as therapy.

I also resolved to blog more often in 2012. But New Year’s resolutions really do set us up to fail.

Leap Year
This year is of course a Leap Year. I recently learned that in a Leap Year, women can propose marriage to men. This is silly. Obviously, women can propose marriage anytime. Also this has nothing to do with me, since I'm not looking to get married again anytime soon.

Last year I was interested in dating a couple of guys. But they didn't feel a mutual attraction to me. And as someone smarter than me once said, unrequited love is a bore. Dating still seems like a sadomasochistic exercise.