17 years and through

Since July 21, 2000, I’ve been keeping a diary at this website, chronicling my doings. Here’s an excerpt from entry #1:

[K] asked me to be on a campaign for the Honi 2001 editorial team. Honi is the Sydney University campus newspaper, and the team is determined by popular vote, which means the campaign is dominated by political factions, and the newspaper is edited by the campus left. I am very left in social politics and centre economically according to some quiz I did on the web once, but don’t belong to a campus faction.

I think this team is going to be comprised of people at various stages of left-ness who are unaligned – so it would be very hard to win…

Yes, we did run for Honi Soit editorial board late in 2000. No, we didn’t win.

And yes, seventeen years in, I’m winding up the diary. The last entry will be the one for July 2017.

There’s no one big explanation about why I’m ending it, it’s been in gradual decline for about ten years now, and today’s the day I decided I just don’t want to tell you about my ski holiday in August, gosh darn it. (It was quite good!) Or about my next round of thyroid cancer surveillance. (There will always be thyroid cancer surveillance. Anything could happen!)

Have some little explanations:

  • The diary project, in its waxing and waning, has lasted nearly half my life, that is, the length of time it takes to become almost a different person.
  • 17 years ago, I was just barely someone’s girlfriend. Now I’m someone’s mother and someone else’s boss.
  • The author of the diary it was modelled on died two years ago last month.
  • The parts of my life I want to talk about in a globally accessible public diary have got even smaller than they were in 2000 (and it was never a tell-all in the first place).
  • The time I used to sink into writing I increasingly sink into taking photographs.
  • I always assumed I’d read the diary and reminisce, and I’ve only read any previous entries a total of about three times.

What now?

  • puzzling.org is staying and every so often I’ll post to it.
  • That may sometimes be a story posted about something that happened to me. It will probably be in the ‘Diary‘ section if so.
    If I had to guess how often, I’d guess once or twice a year. But I won’t be trying to write down an ongoing saga of my deeds.
  • I’ll keep my parenting blog, Incrementum, going for some time yet, although attentive readers will note that my older child is into reading and surfing the web age, so I imagine that it also has at most a couple of years to live in anything like its current form. (At which point it too will have been a decade-long project.)

Thanks for following. See you in some other genre.

After sunset, Cid Harbour

July 2017

July was an inevitable tour through my yearly theme of “why don’t I have any social life or do anything ever?” also known as “every single winter of my adult life”. Relatively speaking that is, mostly meaning I didn’t see a lot of unrelated adults.

It began, to be fair, with Pia’s hen’s night, which was the most hen’s night I’ve ever been to. That is, not very, but there were penis-shaped straws, so an effort was made. There was karaoke, at which I pulled my usual karaoke trick (I can more or less perform Eminem’s Lose Yourself, which invariably gets put on at any white person karaoke without anyone first checking that anyone there can rap). There was a chocolate cafe which really doubled down on chocolate cafe to a degree that really puts anything else in the category to shame. And so Pia was sent off.

We took the kids to Luna Park halfway through the month. It turned out they’ve been watching Youtube with the ads on: V sidled into our bedroom with “an idea I had, about what we could do today?” and later A was burbling with joy about going to “LunaParkWinterfest” all-one-word. Luna Park had its usual knack for us of having Sydney throw a warm and painfully glarey day at us regardless of time of year. Youtube ads or the school holidays got half of the city there, packed onto ferries loading and unloading at the very underprovisioned Jeffrey Street wharf. A went on the ferris wheel, crying, and the carousel, not crying, and she was done. Andrew and V left an hour after us and had made it through the queue of just one additional ride.

At the end of the month we went to Tamworth for a weekend to visit my aunt — Rob‘s widow — and my cousin, their youngest child. They live next door to where my grandparents lived until my grandmother died in 2000, which means same corner shop, same park hidden behind the water tower. If it hadn’t been winter, same pool that we swam in as guests of the neighbours at the time that Rob and Cas eventually bought the house from.

It was winter though, and a run of cold nights, so lots of adorable moments of the kids cutely huddling under blankets and drinking hot chocolates. Lots of daytime adventures too; I had forgotten the wildlife park at Tamworth, and several of the playgrounds have had an upgrade to fancy 2010s adventure playground gear so it was a bit of a dream weekend for the kids. The tens of thousands of smelly flying foxes living along the Peel River are new since I was last there too and presumably unwelcome to everyone but curious visitors. Someone set off a siren to scare them while we were there and V was staunchly defensive of the “brave bats” refusing to leave their trees. Mid-winter sunlight and wide streets and New England hills are all somewhere in my personal geography.

V’s soccer season went right through the month, so, each Saturday, down through Callan Park to the oval, and up hill again to the ridge after the game. A’s walking pace and distance slowly improved over the season, and most Saturdays other than the one with the 8am game it was a nice way to get out of the house and into the sun and trees each weekend. Also destined to be somewhere in my personal geography.

May & June 2017

May began with comforting rituals, as it usually does since our wedding anniversary and Mother’s Day are within a week of each other.

Our 10th wedding anniversary was the first time A had ever spent a night away from both of us: I’ve travelled, Andrew’s travelled, but there’d always been one parent or other under the roof. We hustled her with V into my parents’ car at night in Lithgow, all four adults fearing howls and despair, but she smiled like a blissful angel and apparently had a happy weekend, broken only occasionally by solemnly sharing that she was thinking of “my Mummy, Mair-wee”.

Andrew and I spa-ed, walked in the sun, and had a lovely dinner that I’d accidentally booked in Blaxland rather than Blackheath, more than halfway back from the holiday spot to our home. But we’ve always been good at long drives together, and Restaurant Como’s rose and raspberry Eton mess and the audiobook of Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway made for a good evening.

The next weekend, another milestone on the slow climb out of young child parenting: we did our usual Mother’s Day walk around Clarkes Point Reserve, where we were married, and the nearby shipyards, and this year A more or less walked it herself. Not before time, I really stagger a far bit carrying her now, especially if she’s recently eaten. Lucky her though; by the time V was her age, I was pregnant again, no carrying at all for him much after his third birthday.

At the end of May, Rob died, just a few days after his birthday and a visit from my father. I flew up to Tamworth on the 27th a few days before his funeral to see parts of my family, and did a lot of food shopping for his wake with my cousin (his daughter), but didn’t stay for the funeral, instead flying to New York on the 28th.

I’ve visited New York twice before, in 2004 and 2012, but both times it was the peak of summer, and the second time I was badly jet lagged, so even though this was a work trip, I felt it was the first time I really had a chance to enjoy the city. I spent almost the entire trip above ground, using the subway only to get to JFK for the trip home, and did a lot of biking.

I’d hoped to circumnavigate Manhattan by bike on the middle weekend I was there, but I wanted to do it on Citibike (so that I could give up and get the subway back to my hotel if the biking was too much) and Citibike doesn’t go north of Central Park. So instead I circumnavigated the Citibike area, a ride of about 35km all up. I had no idea how extensive the parks were in Manhattan; not just Central Park but the East River Park and the Riverside Park also.

My work trip to New York was related to becoming a manager of my team at work, which I had been discussing with my own manager since March, and which took effect in June. My Sydney team partners with another team in New York; we share a pager rotation, and so visiting New York is part of the deal in even being on this team, but especially in managing it. So part of my goal in being there was to start to put down a few roots; to find the odd place I wanted to return to. I didn’t expect I would root myself in a bikeshare scheme though.

Once back in Sydney I had the first of the lifelong rounds of cancer recurrence screening I will need, initially to be six monthly. This first one in June was clear but didn’t involve a radioiodine scan, which will happen at the one year mark since concluding treatment, ie, November. I found out I’ve been somewhat hypothyroid for months and months, the exact opposite of how I’d ideally be dosed in the years immediately following having thyroid cancer. There will always be something.

Otherwise June was a quiet month, which was good for transitioning to my management role, which although effected largely through paperwork rather than interviews, was in practice the third new job I’d had in eighteen months. I’m looking forward, some year or other, to a year where we live and work and study in more or less the same way at the end of the year as we did at the beginning.

10 years on

Andrew and I were married ten years ago on May 6 2007.

Mary Gardiner, Andrew Bennetts (by Jo Gardiner)

In ten years: two children, one PhD, two house moves, one house purchase, three surgeries, one cancer diagnosis, one life threatening illness, one business, four new jobs, many passport stamps.

We took none of those things with us for our anniversary weekend in the mountains:

More pictures from our anniversary trip.