Life on the married side of the fence

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I’m just going to put it out there and say I could do both of these things before marriage. But, on a serious note, has being married changed anything? I ask myself this a bit actually and I’d have to say no – aside from giving each of us the option to give the other one shit with the occasional “oh this is what it’s like to be married now?” or “I don’t have to ask permission anymore, you’re my husband/wife, you’re officially property” jibe. So yeah, nothing’s changed in any kind of meaningful adult way.

What has changed is my work situation, which I’m pretty excited about. One of Jared’s managers quit and I’ve cut back my hours with one of my bosses so I can take on the social media component of her role. Super chuffed about that (although also a little scared). On top of that, one of his bars has started taking event bookings so I’m also the new Events Coordinator (or Captain of Events as I have self-titled myself – it’s a 1940s French Liberation themed bar). I’ll also be going to the managers meetings to see if I can make things more efficient there and generally make Jared’s life a bit easier so overall a lot more to do with his bars and a bit of a step back from my office management role (including dropping some of the stuff I wasn’t enjoying there – win!).

And the final and some might say greatest achievement – I GET TO WORK FROM HOME. Full disclosure: I do have to go in for a few hours on Thursdays and I’ll also need to go to the bars at some point to get content for my social media posts but, overall, this little piggy doesn’t have to go to market anymore. Woohoo. If this is married life, I’m digging it.

On the downside, my little puggy has been a bit more huffy and puffy than usual so I asked the vet to give him an extra look over at his monthly check up. Sadly, he has an enlarged heart which is putting pressure on his lungs and they don’t know what’s causing it. We leave him at the specialist on Wednesday for a bit of a closer look but basically, whatever they tell us, he’s just getting old.

The grumpy old sod is 12 now and, although he’s in pretty good nick (despite the missing eye and metal plate in his wrist), things are going to start failing him soon enough. Jared says I should feed him less cheese but I say let him live out his glory years in comfort and luxury. Although to be fair, he might have more glory years if I feed him less cheese. Note: I don’t actually feed him that much cheese, Jared just gives me extra shit on the few occasions when I do.

Additional but lesser points:

  • Back at training (more or less)
  • Back at uni as of 28 Nov (full time, no less)
  • Booked in for pilates tomorrow morning (we’ll see about that).

 

Now this is classic me

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Image credit: Fiona Beck

I’ve been using this amazing smelling body cleanser from Lush. It’s called Karma and it smells spicy and exotic; it has sandalwood in it or some shit. Anyway, I love it but, when I went in there to re-up, the counter chick scared the crap out of me by telling me that my store is the only one in the whole world that stocks it (or maybe it was just Australia, the world seems like a bit of a stretch) and, once it’s done, they won’t make anymore.

Naturally, panic set in. How could I live without this amazing smelling body wash? Such a scenario was unthinkable. So today, I went back in and got four more bottles. I also bought some additional stuff that I probably didn’t need but fuck it, I’m going to smell delicious and be sooooooo soft (not that I’m not already). Everything was perfect. I wouldn’t have to be without my Karma body wash for a very, very long time. All my shower-based problems were solved, right? Right?

And yet… yet… the minute everything had been rung up and the check out chick started packing my big, brown paper bag, I thought, ‘oh shit, now I’m stuck with this stuff.’ Despite having been desperate to never, ever run out just seven fucking seconds prior, I was now questioning my logic:

Do I really need that much? There are plenty of other fabulous smelling shower gels. Mightn’t I want to try something new in the near future?

If so, I’ve fucked that up unless I plan on giving some away as gifts or letting them sit there gathering dust like deliciously spicy-smelling, gel-filled cupboard figurines.

Commitment. I’ve always had a problem with it. I love, love, love something and then – just like that – I don’t. Poof! You’re obsolete. I’m onto the next thing. Sorry. I feel bad for the countless face washes, lipsticks, hair products, perfumes, etc., that I’ve sworn by and then… just… not. Luckily, Jared is not a cosmetic or else he might have gone the way of all these products I decide no longer suit my purposes, despite being the holy grail product up until the moment they weren’t. I suppose it says more about me that I’d probably care to consider so let’s not dwell on any further.

Speaking of Jared, the marriage after glow is in full effect, no need to fear. Although I think the shock of returning to reality (read: returning to work) has plunged him into a deep post-holiday/wedding/mini-moon extravaganza depression. Meanwhile, I, on the other hand, am feeling excited to be back at work and being productive (although I have had a few exciting developments on that front – details to follow when things are a bit more solid).

Now if I could just get back to training; Jared couldn’t do Monday and our trainer can’t do tomorrow. I suppose I could go to pilates or do something on my own but… nahhhhhhh. That’s definitely not classic me (well, not at the moment anyway).

Happy followed by sad

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Today, we drove back from our four night mini-moon to attend the funeral of one of Jared’s aunts, Aunty Deb. She’d been sick for awhile and had just received a heart transplant but there were complications and she ended up passing away on Monday. We got the news as we were on the way home two days after our wedding.

Over the last few years, I’ve been to a few funerals for Jared’s family. His uncle passed away about two years ago. Then last year his grandfather had a series of strokes that eventually lead to his death in late October/early November. We watched him deteriorate just that little bit more each time. He was a wonderful man, someone I loved and admired much more than my own grandfather, and it was heartbreaking to watch him go from someone so strong to someone so dependent on others. On the day he died, we were on our way down to see him but got a text message saying he’d passed when we were just 30mins away.

Jared is/was very close to his maternal grandparents (he lived with them for awhile as a child) and it hit him very hard. Aside from not getting to say goodbye, I know he’d wanted his grandfather to be alive when he proposed to me and to be there on our wedding day. Sadly, his grandmother also couldn’t make it to the wedding as it was too far for her to travel. His poor grandmother has seen two of her children and her husband of 65 years pass away in such a short time. Sometimes I think the only thing that keeps her so strong is that she needs to care for her disabled daughter who still lives with her.

While I had only met Aunty Deb a few times over the years, she was always pleasant and friendly and was one of Jared’s extended family members that we saw most often as she lived in our area so we’d sometimes run into her. The service was held in a church and was hugely religious (as was Jared’s grandfather’s and uncle’s). I’m not religious at all so, during the formal readings and bible passages, I found myself feeling a bit awash in words that didn’t really make me feel anything. I stood up and sat down when told and was respectful throughout yet, even if the formalities themselves didn’t touch me, the emotion and sadness in the room was palpable.

For me, the tough moments always come during the eulogies when you get a feel for the person’s life and what they meant to the people they’ve left behind. Deb was a nurse and one of her nursing colleagues spoke about her dedication to her job and refusal to take time off, even up to the day before her heart surgery. Her son broke down during his speech and had to be comforted by his sister and Jared’s mum. He eventually recovered and delivered such a touching and lightly humorous remembrance of his mother that very few people were left dry-eyed (myself included). Back at the wake, we watched a photo slideshow of Deb’s life – her youth and her with her children and her grandchildren.

There were a few moments where I cried or struggled to hold back tears throughout the day. I even cried at his uncle’s funeral – a man I’d never met. It’s hard not to cry at these things. To see your partner cry, to see his family in pain, to imagine how it would feel if it were your grandparent, uncle, aunt, sister, cousin, mother, whatever – it would take a heart of stone to remain completely unmoved.

And yet for me, the religious part was the only time I felt cold. I know it’s a very personal thing and no one can tell someone else what they should or shouldn’t believe; we all use what we can to get through the day. I came from a very religious upbringing (my mum is still very religious) so I understand the peace you can get from believing in a higher power, someone benevolent watching over you and something better to look forward to when you eventually die.

I believe we just stop existing, which, to me, is not a terrible thing. It just means I need to live the best life I can now because this is it and I don’t think I’m going to carry on and meet anyone in any kind of afterlife (and even if there was, let’s be honest, I’m probably headed down, not up 😉 all the ‘good’ people will be anyways). But I can certainly understand the appeal of this life not being the end and having the chance to be reunited with everyone we’ve loved and lost. It’s just not something I can subscribe to.

Funerals always make me think about these types of things. I looked at the program with all the bible quotes and thought – what will they do for me? It will just have to be quotes from books and poetry and stories of my life, the things I’ve done and how people will remember me. That doesn’t sound so bad. Not that I’m planning on dying soon but we all do eventually, don’t we? Which reminds me, I don’t have a will.

Sorry for being so morbid today, guys. Things will be better tomorrow (I think).

So I’m married now…

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Image credit: Lovegreen Photography 

So… the big day has come and gone. It was everything I hoped for and more and, yes, as everyone said, it goes by so quickly. Thankfully, we’d planned ahead and made a weekend of it (or, in my case, a week seeing as I went up on Tuesday and came back Monday). 

The weather was glorious – aside from our wedding day, which was rainy some of the time, but even that couldn’t dampen our spirits. The location was just so beautiful and everyone so excited and happy to be there that it could’ve rained fire and I doubt I would’ve cared. The bottom of my dress was pretty trashed though but, never mind, I’d planned to cut the train off so I can wear it again after the wedding so it doesn’t really matter. 

One of the funniest memories I have is of my sister and two of my bridesmaids – one male, one female – helping me take my hairpins out and dress off so I could be more comfortable. The dresssmaker had had to sew an internal belt into the dress so the low back would lay flat against my big ass and everyone was struggling to get the tight waist up over my boobs. It was a very tricky manoeuvre and I was glad to cruise around in my robe and nothing else after that. Basically it devolved into a three day party (six days for me) and now we’re relaxing on our mini-honeymoon in an AirBnb on Sydney’s Northern Beaches for a few days before returning to work. 

Photo credit: Me!

I made sure to get us a pet friendly house so even pug is involved, although he’s been a bit freaked out by his new surrounds. He doesn’t much like strange spaces now he’s getting old. Although he’s loved exploring the sand when the tide goes out and laying in the bean bag in front of the gas heater. 


So that’s the formality of marriage done and dusted and I also finished reading A Little Life, which I will review while I’m up here. My god, what a fucked up yet entirely amazing book. Highly recommended. 

And so now, with the wedding behind me and uni still 1.5 months away, I find myself itching to organise something new. I have so much time on my hands and nothing much to do! I want to get back to my old party planning self, while I still have time. Not that I won’t be able to still do fun stuff while I’m studying but being full time will definitely require some sacrifices (or last minute scrambles to the finish line). 

We’ll see. I can be quite resourceful when I want/need to be. 

The Vows

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Image credit: Funny Status

I will be married in eleven days – next week Saturday to be exact. I feel like I’ve been neglecting my writing because there are so many little things to attend to prior to the actual day. I just finished three days worth of music playlists (with the help of one of my bridesmaids). I’ve got a bunch of wedding craft to do. On Friday, I’m picking up our wedding rings and back pendant I’ve had made to go with my dress. Funny story about that: I had to try the pendant on with the dress to make sure the length was right but I got stuck trying to take it off. Jared doesn’t want to see the dress before the wedding so I had a mini-freak out thinking I wouldn’t be able to get it off in time, that he’d come home and see me or I’d have to phone a friend to help wrangle me out of it. Thankfully, that wasn’t necessary but it’s alerted me to the fact that I’ll definitely need assistance getting the damn thing off.

One of the few outstanding things left are my vows. If I’m totally honest (as I like to be), the preparations for this wedding have been pretty process driven to date. I could be organising any party really – aside from the much larger budget, three day duration and bigger guest list. It wasn’t until I started writing my vows that I realised this was going to be something so much more than just another party. Thinking about why I fell in love with Jared and trying to articulate why I want to spend the rest of my life with him made me… quite… emotional. Unsurprising really. But I suppose when you’re focused on getting all the teeny, tiny details sorted, the romance of it all can kinda of lapse a bit.

But never fear, I have a first draft done for the ceremony and an outline for the reception. All is going to plan, I just need to keep revising and I have a fair bit of time to get there. I’m an OK public speaker but I’m sure I’ll be super nervous/on the brink of tears on the day. Ah well, if I fail, I know I have my maid of honour to finish reading them out for me (just have to make sure I print them out so he can read them, Lord knows he won’t be able to read my handwriting).

Of Women, Fish and Bicycles, with Apologies to Irina Dunn

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I know I say this often but I felt like I was really stuck with this assignment. It took me until the last week before it was due to truly pull my thoughts together and, even then, I didn’t feel all that convinced when I pressed submit but I went through with it anyway because I didn’t know where else to go. It was a unit that was both easy (in workload) and tough (in content). So with that in mind, I’ve posted my unedited assignment below with my tutor’s comments at the end. Final mark: high distinction.

***

Ever since I can remember, I’ve known my father was a cheater. I knew that about him like I knew he was Puerto Rican and brown skinned and a man. I didn’t know it in a hateful ‘he tore this family apart’ kind of way, just as a simple statement of fact. Maybe it would’ve developed into that if he’d lived longer but I don’t think so. That’s not really my mum’s style. Where other people’s love curdles into hate, my mum’s simply cools and forms a skin. The love sits there underneath, chilled but never evaporated. Not necessarily waiting to be warmed up and consumed, more just there. Forever.

My parents weren’t exclusive when they first started seeing each other in New York. They dated but continued seeing other people (although my mother knew early on that he was the one for her). Once they were married, she expected things to change but, for my father, they never did. My mother confesses that she had her doubts about his fidelity even when they were newlyweds in Nigeria but she chalked it up to her own insecurities. When they eventually moved to Canberra, she thought they would be more settled but she was wrong. He preferred to go to the pub with his friends. Sometimes he’d come home with phone numbers in his pocket. My mother once told me, “He could have gone on the rest of his life being single. I don’t think there was anything that would have tamed him.”

My mum remembers a family outing where we went to the Cotter River and, as she was parking, she saw another woman by the water with her two sons. My father went straight over to them and starting chatting. The boys knew him by name. She heard them calling out “Francisco! Francisco!” as he approached. My mum busily unpacked the car, her frustration rising the more time he spent with this woman when he should have been helping her. She later asked him if anything was going on between them. He denied it but she later found out they had an affair. And she wasn’t the only ‘other woman’ in my parents’ relationship.

When preparing to write my first assignment for this unit, I decided to re-read my father’s diary to see if I could find some clue as to who he was. His diary is a small black book, disintegrating as steadily as my memories of him. It’s the only one of his belongings that I still have, everything else has been lost or stolen over the years. The spine has long since crumbled and the book exists in two parts held together by sheer will and binding string. The pages are old and yellow and covered in his chicken scratch handwriting and vivid drawings filled with colour and life. He illustrated some of his thoughts with little doodles, as if he didn’t want the words to stand alone in representation of him. Writing was not his strong suit. He didn’t finish high school so his spelling is poor. I think he adds the illustrations because they better represent who he is; he’s more proficient that way.

On a page on which he talks about two women he’s in love with (neither of which are my mother although they were married at the time), my father writes this:

You may think how can one person love two people the same way? I say that in us there is a power that allows us to love the world and, if we can love the world, then why can’t we love two or three people the same?

This phrase comes back to me when my mother mentions that they weren’t exclusive in the beginning. Their relationship had no set boundaries for being with only each other. In that setting, it’s hard for jealousy and infidelity to find footing because there’s no place for it as yet. Although, my mother does describe one instance where my father got jealous because she was dancing with another man (insert something witty here about a goose and a gander). Still, once married, many couples follow the conventional path and become monogamous. Things are ‘serious’ now. You’re a married couple. There are rules – or, at least, there are for most people. But my father wasn’t most people and I don’t think he would’ve adhered to the rules no matter who he hurt along the way. Maybe if there had been open and honest communication around the type of relationship he wanted and what that meant in terms of monogamy and commitment but, then again, would my mum have been ok with such an arrangement? My mother speaks of the hurt, of the lies and betrayal, the ‘woman’s intuition’ that was then shot down as being silly. The near constant litany of ‘No, nothing’s going on’ until you start to question whether it really is all in your head. If he’d just said what he was doing, she could’ve decided if that was the type of relationship she wanted to be in but, as it was, it all happened behind her back. I suppose the end result may have been the same: she left him after four years of marriage.

As I write this essay, I realise that I have no memories of my parents together. My dad died a few months before my third birthday and they were already separated by then. The few memories I have of my father are of him alone; my mother doesn’t feature at all. Although I know they were a couple that was happy once, my mind can’t show me what that looks like. I’ve seen pictures of them together, smiling at one another, but I have no mental motion footage of this. The stillness of their photos makes it seem posed. The fact I can’t see them moving, interacting – even in my memories – makes it seem unreal. I was spared the fights and tears but I was also excluded from the happy times and the laughter.

With my father out of the picture, it was my mother and me against the world, just the two of us, until my sister came along when I was six and a half and we (grudgingly on my part at least) became a trio. There were no men in our lives (aside from friends and family) until we moved to Jamaica when I was ten. I don’t remember her having a boyfriend before that and, although she did have the occasional night out, she never brought anyone home. In my eyes, she was fearless and independent. She could do anything, even the things my friend’s mums needed their husbands to do. She was my mum and my dad and we didn’t need anyone else. Although, in hindsight, I can see how lonely raising two girls on your own must have been.

This was my mother until she moved us to Jamaica to get married to a man she’d met on holiday. My sister’s father offered to be involved in raising her but my mother turned him down. It was probably for the best. He visited us once or twice in Jamaica, ostensibly to see his daughter, but would often do more harm than good. I recall one trip when my stepdad had to bail him out of a hotel room where he was holed up on a prostitute-and-cocaine-fuelled bender. We didn’t see him again after that although I do know that he went to rehab and found Jesus.

Living in Australia, many of the families I saw around me followed the traditional storyline: ‘get married, have kids, live happily ever after’ (at least in theory). In ABS data from the 2012-13 census, 85% of Australian families are couple families and 14% are single parent households, with the majority being single mother households (“Family Characteristics”, 2015, para. 7). And while single parent households have increased by 53% between 1986 and 2001, couple families are still the norm (“Living arrangements: Changing families”, 2006, para. 1). This meant that I often felt like the odd kid out with most of the other kids having a mum and a dad. Sometimes I looked at my dad-less family and thought, ‘what am I missing out on?’ But my sister and I were lucky. We lacked for nothing. My mum had a passive income, nothing huge, but it meant she didn’t have to work, which meant she was there for us before and after school and had time to help us with our homework and so forth.

When we moved to Jamaica, things were different. Very few people were married. Men and women would see each other, get pregnant (usually by accident) and, 99% of the time, the woman would raise the child on her own. Men were involved part time, if at all. Many children I went to school with didn’t know their fathers and, if they did, they rarely had any hand in raising them. It was a matriarchal society, a community of single parent households, of women raising their children mostly without any help from men. A 2005 report by UNICEF confirms that, “By the end of 2002, 45.5% of Jamaican households were headed by females – a trend that persisted for much of the 1990s” (“Situation Analysis of Jamaican Children”, 2005, para. 19).

In Jamaica, everyone was being raised by their mothers, except now I had a stepdad, which wasn’t a situation I was very happy about. When cracks started to appear in my mum’s marriage, a single parent household didn’t seem all that bad. To make things worse, my stepfather grew marijuana and, before long, my mother’s occasional joint had morphed into full blown dependency. I watched her become reliant on my stepfather for many of the things she once did herself. I saw and heard the fights. She accused him of being unfaithful.

During this time, my mother stopped appearing as the perfect, strong provider and became someone more human, with weaknesses and failures I’d never seen before. Although I suppose these things would have become apparent as I hit my teens in Australia, they seemed starker for the fact that there was now a man in our lives. It seemed she was weaker because of him. Despite being married, she was often sad and lonely and felt she had no one to confide in. Having someone else didn’t necessarily make your life better. In fact, in my mother’s case and to my childish eyes, it seemed to make things worse.

I can’t deny that seeing this type of situation – of mothers raising their children on their own, of strong women and their seemingly unworthy men – had an effect on me. Perhaps that’s why for a long time, I saw men as superfluous. Yes, maybe they were attractive, maybe I desired them but I didn’t want to be with them. Not for any longer than was strictly necessary. As a teen, part of me felt a relationship would give me worth and value in the eyes of others (and yes, perhaps in my own) and the other part didn’t really see the point. My mother had shown me that a woman could get on just fine without a man around. Hell, she’d probably be better off.

When I started this essay, I thought I would focus on how my parents’ marriage breakdown and father’s cheating put me off commitment but, when I think about it, that’s not really what I learnt. Sure, I don’t put much stock in monogamy and the idea of there being one person who is able to fulfil all your needs for the rest of your life but, at this point, that seems like a sidenote. What I learnt from my childhood was the strength and resilience of women. If we have to do it on our own, we can and we will. And we’ll do a pretty damn good job of it too.

As a woman who has been with her current partner (now fiancé) for over ten years, this might seem like a hypocritical statement but I can explain. Before my partner came along, I was perennially single. I had no need for boyfriends (or girlfriends, for that matter). I enjoyed my freedom, my ability to do what I pleased with who I pleased. I had a strong network of friends so being single rarely felt lonely as so many people assume it must. Sure, I occasionally needed a man to help me change a high up lightbulb or open a bottle of wine but the ladder of the concierge or strong arms of a doorman were more than sufficient for such endeavours. If anything, I thought of men as occasionally useful beings.

I saw friends in unhappy or controlling relationships and thought, ‘why bother?’ Sure I had the occasional drama with someone I was seeing but, by dint of there being no formal relationship, I could stop seeing them whenever I pleased. There were no strings to disentangle myself from. Seeing my mother do it on her own and then subsequently crumble when she did have a man around, made me see men as more trouble than they were worth, as the unseen force behind a woman’s undoing. It wasn’t that I specifically didn’t want a partner, more that I didn’t want to be with someone just for the sake of it. I wanted someone who was worthy of commitment, someone who was worth the relinquishment of my single freedoms.

That person didn’t come along until I was 23. And even though that seems like a long time ago now, when I tell people that’s when I had my first boyfriend, they’re often shocked. Because we’re expected to pair up much sooner than that, even if it failed and this is your second, third or seventh try. Not so for me. Jared is my first and only boyfriend because, before that, there was no one I wanted to sacrifice my freedom for. No one I saw that would be faithful, that would support me, that would love me without trying to change me. That person didn’t come along until I was 23 and I was ok with that. Because I’d seen what being with the wrong man can do, the havoc it can wreak. How much it truly isn’t worth it for a woman’s self-esteem and self-respect. And, fair enough, you don’t always know up front that he’s Mr Wrong. These guys have a way of sneaking it in after they’ve already snatched your heart.

Now, my mother, sister and I all joke about my mother’s notoriously bad taste in men. At 63, she’s given up on finding love. Two spectacular failures have convinced her that she’s better off alone. Maybe she thinks she’s unlovable or too difficult to live with. Either way the result is the same. She’s chosen a life of singleness because she finally knows what I learnt from watching her mistakes while I was growing up: being single is better than being with someone who’s not good for you. Maybe my mother is one of those people Liz Hoggard talks about in her article for The Telegraph, the ones who are actually happier being single (the author herself being one of them) (2015).

Yet society tells us, and especially women, that without a man, or at least an intimate relationship, we’re somehow less of a person. In her book, Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Anne Bolick “challenges the idea that women must find a partner, that to remain single is lonely, sad and pitiable” (Freeman, 2015, para. 6). She argues that being single is not the barren wasteland so many people assume it to be. That there is an alternative to the pressurised rat race of finding ‘the one’ and ‘settling down’.

That’s not to say that I’m advocating every woman (including myself) go out and ditch their partners to live a life of contemplative solitude. Not by a long shot. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t feel pressured into finding a mate. We shouldn’t see it as our life’s purpose or think that we are somehow incomplete without a partner. And we certainly shouldn’t stay in relationships that are doing us more harm than good, as difficult and as fraught and complex as this may be, especially when there are children involved.

And this is what my mother taught me in her roundabout, learn-from-my-often-painful mistakes way; that I am enough and that I am fine on my own but that I am also worthy of someone good and honest and not to suffer someone that hurts me just to avoid being alone. It may not have made sense when I was a child but, as an adult, I feel a sense of gratitude. My mother didn’t give me the perfect childhood, she gave me something better: a mould of strength to cast myself on, the skills to make my own way and the inner-resilience to be myself, even when I’m all alone.

***

Natalie, congratulations on a compelling and very well-written essay. You hook the reader in with a surprising and apparently harsh statement about your father, and then go on to depict your parents’ relationship with honesty and acceptance. As the piece develops and wanders from the past towards the future, the focus starts to widen to a bigger narrative about women’s independence and strength. You’ve articulated a truth that would be beneficial for many women to read, a truth that questions the need for every woman to have a partner, and even questions whether many women do better without one. Bringing the ABS statistics into the piece, and the comparison with Jamaica’s domestic trends, provides interesting context. This is your best writing for this unit and deserves a high distinction. Best of luck for the future.

Note to self: manage time better

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No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I have in fact had more time than ever (what with uni being done now for three next months) yet somehow I’ve found myself with less time to write. I want to read my current book (A Little Life) but that hasn’t been happening. All the little wedding things are taking up most of my time. I mean, you could spend a fucking fortune on knick knacks and cutesy signs and shit if you were that way inclined. Thankfully, I’m not but etsy is making me feel less of a woman for not getting involved (fuck you, etsy, I will not bow to your constant excellent suggestions on how to have the most beautifully accessorised wedding – although I am tempted).

It’s only five and a bit weeks until we get married. Holy fucking shit. It has definitely crept up on me. We had our hens/bucks on the weekend, which definitely took it out of me. Aside from the actual party itself, there was all of the planning in the lead up. Thank god for friends stepping up to help with some of the last minute running around. I would’ve been up shit creek without those few special people who asked if I needed anything and then were actually willing to get involved. Not that I expected every person invited to help but the people who did were a godsend.

It’s strange. When the hens finally arrived, I was almost disappointed. Not because it wasn’t fun but because it was here and then over and I’d been looking forward to it for so long that I felt a kind of weird emptiness. Will I feel that way after the wedding? A “now what next?” feeling? I suppose I will. I get the same feeling after my birthday each year. If I had to guess, I’d say that for anyone that spends any decent amount of time planning or looking forward to something, you’re always going to feel a bit empty/at a loss when it’s over and you need to find the new thing to keep yourself occupied with.

Still now the hens is over, maybe I can cruise a little. It’s just small things to organise now. Finalising meal numbers and hair and make up and putting the finishing touches on the decor. *sigh* Ha. Who am I kidding? I am not one to cruise. I’ll find something to fill my time. In fact, we’re been seeing a personal trainer these past few weeks in a last ditch effort to get a tiny bit more fit for the wedding. We’ve committed to three days a week plus whatever else we do on our own time (thus far: nothing) but even just doing that a few days a week has been fun/exhausting/energising.

My goal is to try and get around to some of the NON-WEDDING stuff I’ve been meaning to do. Like ummmm… write here and read my book and basically anything non-wedding related. Not that I’m finished with that stuff, more that I want to make it fit around other stuff. We’re so close now that there are realistically only a few things left to do yet, the more time I spend on it, the more additional but non-essential things I’ll add to the list. It’s could easily become a never-ending job if you let it. And I don’t want it to be. I want to finish my damn book!

What I’m missing is a mission statement

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Image credit: Cool Funny Quotes

In many ways, life is much easier now than it was hundreds of years ago, when your birth kind of determined the rest of your life. Now we have sooo many options, we can do whatever we want (well, in the western world and for some people anyway). We’re encouraged to chase our dreams, follow our passions, listen to our hearts blah blah blag. It’s all so very awesome. Except for those poor people amongst us that don’t have a clear idea what we want to do with our lives. All these possibilities actually make things a bit difficult. Not difficult in the way that being born into a poor family during the Industrial Revolution and having to work in a factory from the age of 6 or as a chimney sweep or whatever was difficult. Not that kind of difficult. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a fucking shit tonne of horror right there. I’m talking difficult in a more cerebral, ‘what-am-I-doing-here-aside-from-just-surviving?’ kind of deal.

In high school, you’d look at all the kids making plans for med school or a law career and you think, ‘meh, I’ll figure it out’. You get to your mid twenties and you haven’t “figured it out” and the “meh” is still there although perhaps edged with a touch more concern. Thirty rolls around and you’re just cruising. Life isn’t bad (in fact, it can be pretty damn good) but you don’t have that sense of purpose other more driven people have. You’re not quite sure what you’re here for or what you want to do aside from vague and nebulous goals like “be happy” and “travel the world on a sultan’s budget”.

Does anyone out there feel that way. No? Me neither. As you were. 😉

But on a serious note, I do often wonder what I’m doing with my life. We’re kind of conditioned to think we should somehow know what we should be doing. Some people do but a lot of people don’t and a lot of people end up doing a whole heap of things and all of them make them happy. For me, I just try and remind myself that, although I might not be 100% sure what I want to be doing, I do have a job that I love (most days), awesome people to work with and I have a pretty fucking fantastic life in general. I have a lot to be grateful for and, if the one thing I don’t have is a clear idea of what I want to be when I grow up, then I don’t have very much to complain about, do I?

Plus, I’m only 33, I’ve got like another 50 years to figure this shit out, right? Ha.

Ok maybe I am lazy. So what?

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So, it seems I like to be challenged even less than I thought. I’m taking next study period totally off. I was going to do full time, then I dropped to part time and now I’m doing nothing at all. My excuses are as follows:

  1. Going from full time to part-time meant my finish date would change from August 2017 to November 2017. Finish date remains the same if I start back full time in November, which is the plan so no real loss there
  2. If I start in November (last week of November to be exact), I have a month and a half of pure study-free bliss after the wedding
  3. I have quite a bit of craft-y wedding stuff I want to do, which will be a bit time consuming
  4. I’m struggling to focus on uni work with all the little bits and pieces going on with the wedding and obviously the wedding stuff is more fun so everything uni-related just gets left to the last minute
  5. Maybe just maybe giving up study for three months will mean that I will get to the gym (or do some kind of exercise) and maybe even start cooking at home a bit. This one is last for a reason (let’s remain realistic, shall we?).

Jared laughed when I told him I’d nixed out of next study period, which is fair enough. I don’t have a very good track record for commitment (aside from staying with him) so it’s totally understandable that he would think I’m giving up on this. I’m not planning to though. If there’s one fucking thing in this world that I see out to the end, it will be this fucking degree. I’ve come too far to give up now and have it all go to waste! I just want to give myself the space to get everything done without being stressed. And frankly the thought of being study free again has me so excited. All that tiiiiiiime. All the stuff I could (but probably won’t) accomplish. Positivity, Natalie. Positivity. 

Image credit: Laura in Wonderland

I like to be challenged… but not THAT challenged

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Despite having the best of intentions, I’ve decided to stick with part time study for the next study period. I’ve realised just how much I still have to do for the wedding and, with that in mind, I couldn’t reasonably commit myself to full time study. I would’ve been a gibbering wreck come October and that’s not really the mindset I want to get married in. I can just picture myself standing there at the altar saying, “I do but can we make this snappy? I have an assignment I have to finish off.” Fuck that. I like things to be difficult but not that difficult.

The wedding planning is going well, there are just so many little details to sort out now. Things like:

  • Decide on flowers and table decorations (I’ve decided, I just need these damn suppliers to provide complete quotes so I can lock someone in)
  • Organise transfers to/from the airport
  • What wine shall we drink?
  • More importantly, how do we get the specific champagne we want up to Mission Beach?
  • How do I display the table numbers?
  • What paper do I use for the place cards?
  • Am I craft-y enough to make the seating plan I have in mind?
  • Putting together the actual seating plan
  • What jewellery to wear with my dress? The dress and earrings are sorted. Do I need anything else? Maybe a back chain at most
  • Organising the joint hen’s/buck’s night.

On that front, I swear the hen’s night has been more stressful than the whole wedding combined. You’re basically planning what you want to be the best party ever in the history of parties while trying to keep the budget reasonable yet still making it awesome. *sigh* I’ve got it sorted, I think, or perhaps I’ve just given up. Whatever my mindset, it’s taken a lot of stress and deep soul searching to get here. Do I really, honestly and truly need all of the strippers at my hen’s night? YES! Yes, I do.

And let me tell you, finding private show strippers has been both the greatest and most fucking annoying endeavour I may have ever embarked on for a social activity. And I have embarked on a few. Oh sweet baby Jesus. Organising home delivery titties should be the best job ever. But no. Well, yes and no. But slightly mostly no. Prime opportunity for me to second guess myself. every. fucking. step. of. the. way.

Anyway, it’s nearly there and me playing the hero and upping my study load to full time is goddamn insanity so we’ll just give that one a wide berth until November. When no doubt I’ll decide to postpone full time study again but this time because I want to enjoy my summer break. I know myself too well. 😉