Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

The Dining Room Diaries – The Insomnia Edition

Sleep is something that’s been on my mind a bit lately. I’ve been getting all introspective and shit and being mindful and all that palaver since I made the executive decision that I had reached what can best be described as Peak Maudy. Also known as the point where one realised that one is in fact fat as fuck and unless one wants to spend a fuck tonne of cashola on the procurement of wider clothing, one had better start taking notice of what one eats.

So how does that relate to sleep? Good fucking question.

Well, as part of this introspective (and to be honest, slightly wanky*) articles I have been subjected to in the process of de-Peakifying Miss Maudy, there was a series of articles on managing stress and stress related eating. This came at a rather good time for me as well. Stressed out of my tiny little brain at the present. A whole conga line of things that, well, you know – one or two would be manageable but ten? Yeah, nah. Stressed. It comes and goes in waves but normally sits at around a 5/10 and peaks at eleven or so. Out of ten. So, I was super keen to (actually) read these articles and get some ideas about managing my stress levels.

But I realised after reading the articles that they were about managing your food-response cues to stress. I don’t actually eat while I am stressed. I just don’t. I’m not hungry at all and food has no appeal, so I just don’t eat. I clench my jaw so hard that my face hurts and I chew on the inside of my cheeks. But I don’t sit down and plow through a block of chocolate and a family pack of barbeque chips when I’m stressed.

But the other thing I don’t do when I am stressed is sleep. And when I’m super tired… it’s like I’m hungover, and there’s that one perfect thing I can eat that will make me feel better. So hells yeah, family block of fruit and nut and bag of BBQ chippies GET IN MA BELLEH.

I’ve always been a bit shithouse at sleeping. I was one of those kids who was bundled into the car for fifty or so laps around the block when I was an infant; and I’ve always woken up at the drop of a hat. I’m the kind of person that goes from asleep to awake and that’s it. No in betweens. Well, once I had babies, I did master the art of getting up, feeding the baby and shoving him back in bed without actually waking up properly… that was pretty good (Mayhem was efficient. Chaos on the other hand…). I’ve had insomnia off and on since I was an actual teenager in a teenager’s body, instead of a teenager in the head of a middle aged lady. I used to sleepwalk and sleep talk and do all manner of odd things in the middle of the night (remind me to tell you the tale of the electric blanket one day).

When I was in my early thirties, my insomnia peaked. I was getting around three hours sleep at night, maybe four on a good night; and not even catching up on weekends. Again, I was fairly stressed – my father had recently died, work was being an arsehole, my love life was in the toilet (again), I’d taken up university and was juggling study with full time work. It was quite ridiculous. I would either not go to sleep at all, drop off in the early hours, and be rudely awakened by my alarm at 6am; or, I would go to sleep okay. But wake up at 2 or 3am and lie there, raging about being awake, until I’d drop off in the early hours and again be rudely awakened by my alarm. I tried all sorts of natural “remedies” – none of which stopped the rage-awakenings in the middle of the night.

I finally went to my doctor after a couple of weeks solid of not sleeping and I tried some chemical assistance. Ahem. No. Not a fan. Taking a sufficient dose that I would fall asleep and stay asleep *all* night left me a zombie the next day. Reducing the dose meant I’d fall asleep, still wake up and rage with the added bonus of being a zombie still the next day. This was not a case of better living through chemistry. It was worse! Back to the doctor I went.

So, we talked a lot about my sleep habits (sketchy as fuck, to be honest) and a bedtime routine (bwhahahahahahaaa) and how some people (me) when they come to the top of a sleep cycle, open their eyes and look around. And if you do that, and you see the clock, and you see time passing in 40 or so minute increments. You think you’re awake. And when you think you’re awake, guess what? You fucking wake up. Ahem. So, new rules.

  1. Move your fucking clock. If you can’t see time passing you won’t know time is passing.
  2. Have a bedtime routine. Make it a ritual and do things in the same order.
  3. If you wake up – Get up and do something. It’s okay to be awake.
  4. After no more than 40 minutes, re-do the bedtime routine and go back to bed again.

Moving the clock was the biggest game changer. I probably still wake up a bazillion times a night (according to my fitbit, this is actually true) but I”m not aware of it. And having *permission* to be awake is another one.Yep, you’re awake. No point getting angsty over it. Use the time to do something else. I used to get up, get dressed (supporting undergarments and everything) and walk up to the 7/11. I’d buy a chocolate bar and walk home, repeat the evening routine and go back to bed. Instead of being awake for 3+ hours in the middle of the night, I’d go back to sleep after about an hour. It’s still broken sleep BUT it would be seven hours of broken sleep instead of four or five. Now, I give it 20 minutes then read for a bit. Usually works.

Even now, the bedtime routine is still a thing. It takes 15-20 minutes and I do it every single night. IN ORDER. Even if I’ve done parts of it earlier. I get up from the couch, start turning lights off, clean the kitchen, pop the last couple of things in the dishwasher and run it, go outside and erm. Check the perimeter. Come in, lock the back door, do ma evening ablutions, lock the front door and hop into bed. I read for ten or so minutes most nights, then it’s sleepy bo-bos time. Someone once described sleep as being like a train – you have to wait for the Sleep Train to come to your station and get on as soon as it arrives. If you dilly dally, you’ll *miss* that train and have to wait for the next one. It’s probably lost something over time in my memory (that is scarred from sleep deprivations. Ahem.) But basically, if the sleep train is pulling in as I go to bed, no reading or I’ll miss that train and it will be another 20 minutes til the next one. Sometimes I forget. Mostly I remember.

So yeah. There’s sleep. And not sleeping. And being so bonecrunchingly tired I don’t know what to do with myself. But this passes. The stress passes. And gets replaced by a new and different kind of stress. And that too passes. Bit fucking Zen, hey. But as long as I realise that the tired is down to stress and will NOT be relieved by fruit and nut chocolate and BBQ chips; and what I really need is an early night… eh. We’ll see.

*I have a degree in psychology, specialising in social and cognitive psychology. You know, behaviour change. These articles are a) based on reasonably sound research; b) cute-d up and simplified for the lay-person; c) twee as fuck. Honestly, it’s like your dad tryin’ to be hip and down with the cool kids. Noice. I know how this is all supposed to work, and I am actually a little brat and ignore most of the articles and the “homework” I’m supposed to do. But hey, I have lost 3/4 of the Covid Condition, so I will shut up now. And keep not reading my articles.

The Dining Room Diaries Episode I don’t even know what day it is don’t judge me

This is the one with some random thoughts. I think. Something I started a couple of months ago and got side-tracked with. Me side-tracked? Who would have thought? I’ve been such a slacker lately. Well, I haven’t actually been a slacker – hence the lack of write (and the sudden flurry of posts. Ahem). Anyway. Random thoughts is random and here are some random thoughts.

Firstly, Christmas. When the fuck did that happen? Okay, that was bloody ages ago now, but hey, once that was over, I was sitting in my chair surrounded by the detritus of the day, going thank fuck that’s over for another year. Now I’m not normally massively together and organised a week out, but fuck. This year? No fucking idea about anything. I ventured into town a couple of weeks before Christmas for the first time and oh my fucking lord, too many people, so much noise, and the stench of a crowd on a hot summer’s day. It was vile. The rate I was going, everyone was lucky they didn’t end up with a stick and maybe a Carlton Draught bottle cap with a bit of trivia on it. Maybe. If they’re lucky.

One thing I did notice while I was doing the shopping and not buying anything anyone wanted was because well, the shelves were picked bare. Like, seriously – was it the last Christmas on earth? One joint was busily rearranging stuff that was left to fill the holes on the shelves, while trying to remember where the last two widgets were put because even though that’s where you’d think they’d be they got moved because they looked lonely. So yeah, even the big ticket stuff was a bit well. Looks like that’s not an option either. Bloody hell. Maybe town is always this picked over by the time Christmas rolls around, and I don’t notice because I’m in there almost every day? But even the post Christmas sales were a bit tragic as well. Maybe the Grinch did eat Christmas this year?

I took the week off between Christmas and New Year – I think this is only the third or fourth time since I started working back in the later part of last century (man, I am old) aside from when I was on maternity leave. Reg worked, and the kids slept in ’til lunch time and hung with their mates. New Year was a night. Mayhem had some mates over – I ended up watching the finale of Bridgerton in the company of a herd of squeamish 15 year old boys. Nice. And Chaos who has attained his majority was shenaniganising around the countryside until brrrng brrng. Hey ma… can we come back to ours? Yes, darling, that’s fine. Of course I am happy that my barely 18 year old child is at home on the muckiest night of the year.

New Year’s Eve has always been overrated. Too much pressure to have a Good Time and if you don’t have a Good Time, then well. Your entire year is rooooned. When I worked in hospitality, I always put my hand up to work – no pressure to have a good time because sorry, working; the tips are always awesome, and yeah, clean head in the morning. When there’s a party, there’s always the pressure of having “fun” and then trying to get home afterward. When I used to live closer to town, I’d walk home NYE. Now I am too old for that shite. I remember one year when the kids were little, the in-laws said we are taking the boys you go out and have a good time, no excuses. We’d been invited to like three parties and when it came to the crunch of well, do we go here for a while then there? Or there and there? What if that one gets offended we went here? What do you want to do? No, what do you want to do? Well, actually, I just want to go out for dinner, go see the early fireworks and watch telly. Best New Year’s ever.

Having a break was really good. I needed it. The best part though? The Dining Room was the dining room again for a whole ten days. Meals were eaten at the table like civilised adults, instead of perched on stools in the kitchen. Craft was done. Messy, spread out across the universe craft. Dead people were stalked. And some living people. But only to find out if they were dead. And they’re alive until proven otherwise. Or something like that. Maybe. I even read both of my Christmas books – I got Nat’s What I Reckon Un-cook yourself and the new Phryne Fisher Death in Daylesford. One was ace, one was disappointing. In that order. Although I have to say the second one felt like it was written by someone else. Or maybe for TV? It wasn’t the bloody same anyway.

Then,it was back to work for a couple of weeks (during which I realised I really needed two consecutive weeks off, and not a week followed by another week a couple of weeks later) then an actual family holiday that was NOT CAR RELATED! It was lovely. Beach holiday house full of Nice Things (not complete crap), walking distance to the shops and the beach, a lovely deck for lolling about on in the sunshine with my books and my craft. In fact the only thing that was missing was a few lamps. Lamps are underrated. Had some quality family time, took Reg for a gin tasting… gin isn’t his cup of tea, however, when push came to shove, I discovered I could not walk into a distillery by myself and do a tasting. Just was not going to happen. But Reg kindly took one for the team and discovered there is gin and there is gin. Yes, we came home with a bottle of the delicious from the distillery. Which he is helping me drink. We may have to have a little day trip… or an overnighter? I can leave the 15 year old home with the 18 year old, yes?

Oh, and we had a near death experience on that trip – probably not our deaths, fortuitously – so, we were visiting some friends a couple of towns further along the Great Ocean Road – which, for the uninitiated, is best described as a bit windy. Has a speed limit of 80km/h and most of the (blind) corners have a speed advisory of 40km/h (or less). Anyway, I’m pootling along at about 60km/h most of the way… then next thing you know, a bunch of motorcycle riders came roaring up behind me. Then overtook. On a solid white line. Then their little friends came up behind me and a) double white line; b) car coming the opposite way and c) if I’d not backed off a bit, the last one would have clipped the front of my car, causing me to drive into a sheer cliff face, and them to fly off over the side of the same cliff. Nice one, dickheads. Their other two friends came up one at a time, waited patiently, and overtook in a civilised fashion. So, dickheads in groups. Obvs. And how did I know they were all little friends? Well, the matching outfits gave it away. Nice one, fucksticks.

Of course, this holiday ended with a small disaster… turns out that in the process of cleaning out the fridge to go away for a week, somebody helpfully turned the fridge off to stop it beeping. And it stayed off. For a week. Aside from the exploding cream, the fridge wasn’t that bad. But the freezer? Fuck. And the stench? Also. Fuck. Much scrubbing and googling ensued, everything that could go through the dishwasher did. Everything that couldn’t went outside for a pressure wash. And everything *in* the fridge and freezer went in the bin. Lordy, that was bad. But silver linings – you know how there’s always a couple of things in the freezer you really should throw out, but you forget or it gets shoved to the back and forgotten? Yeah, well, after the Purge, there’s none of that any more. And while I wouldn’t have actually been 100% sad if the fridge had to be burned with fire… a good scrubbing, some bowls of oats, coffee, and bi-carb (along with a few teabags) and it’s good as new. And clean. And a month later, you can’t even tell there was a disaster.

Then it was back to school, back to work, back to nagging the kids like Ming the Merciless. And back to the fucking Dining Room.

Sigh.

The Dining Room Diaries: Capsule wardrobes

Well hello hello hello.

I am still working from home – they gave us a wee nod today, all things being equal, the 1100+ of us will start shuffling in probably one floor at a time toward the end of February. Of course, I’m not actually going to hold my breath on this one because the area I work in is probably well suited to this whole working from home palaver, and we’ll be last back in. But in the mean time, I’m going to have to start thinking about what to fucking wear again.

I realised while I was folding washing last night, that I’m not wearing anywhere nearly as many clothes as I do under normal circumstances. Like, there’s no way on earth I’d wear the same pair of pants for a week if I were trundling into the office each day. Nor would I wear the same cardigan (or jumper) for five days in a row. But at home? All bets are off. I just wear whatever. Okay, I do change my under garments, and I usually wear a fresh shirt every day, but aside from that… pick a pair of pants and off I go. Also, I am still a Bit Fat, so there is a self-imposed (by the size of my arse) limitation on what I can actually fit into. However, doing something about that, so yeah. Possibilities.

I’ve dallied with the idea of a capsule wardrobe in the past even if only to make the thinking of clothes and what to wear to work tolerable, because it’s something that shits me to fucking tears. But any example of capsule wardrobes always seem to be a bit wanky and a bit like you need 37 items per season and fifteen pairs of shoes (I live in Victoria – that’s 37 items times four seasons = nearly 150 items already) plus all the other shizzle you have in your wardrobe like – I dunno, active wear (cold and not cold – that’s four sets), and pyjamas (flannel ones for when it’s cold and I stop being a flashy lady; and thin cotton ones for well, all the time really), jeans and winter coats and in between seasons coats (Victoria. Yeah. Several seasons. Often daily. Need coat(s)) and old clothes for painting the fence and it’s like this is more clothes than I actually have and I still have nothing to wear.

Then, apropos of completely nothing – probably still folding the washing. Actually, I think I was folding a school uniform and that lead me to the realisation that school uniforms really are the ultimate capsule wardrobe. The kid has three shirts, two pairs of shorts, a pair of trackies (actually two pairs because he was the same size as his damn brother last year) and a jacket (and a set of ‘proper’ uniform as well) Back in the day, I had two summer frocks (and a spare that I never wore because I sorta grew out of the first two frocks, and Mrs McGee assumed I would continue to grow at the same rate and went like three sizes bigger instead of one. So, I just wore the threadbare micro mini originals until I finished high school. I digress. Where was I?); three or four winter shirts, a kilt, a jumper and a blazer and that was me done, week in and week out for six years. Nine things. Fuck. Regardless of the weather. Cold hot dry wet… nine items of clothing (one pair of shoes, too. Black lace-ups.) Okay, I had weekend and school holiday clothes for the rest of the time, and my one going out outfit…but I probably didn’t have many more things than that.

Hrrrrm.

I really do like the idea of a capsule wardrobe though. The simplicity appeals to me. But it’s not simple. But it should be simple. Could it be simple? And trans-seasonal? Well, it would have to be trans-seasonal because 39C Monday, 21C and raining today; so I can’t see how a capsule per season would work in the slightest. I’ve consulted Professor Google and she is not particularly helpful – all key items from fancy arse designers (none of those fucking designer wankers make clothes for tall *and* fat chicks) and capsule wardrobe shopping lists in current trends. (Isn’t the whole idea to have *less* in the wardrobe and not be upgrading each year?) Or have like five pairs of jeans. I think I own two pairs, so yeah, nah. And that’s the thing – my pre-covid work clothes were well. Business attire. Work at Home clothes – not so much.

So, does that mean the capsule should include home clothes as well as work clothes? Or do I have a work capsule and a home capsule and how many capsules does a girlie need?!

So, what would I need for a week of work clothes? Well, realistically, I think I would need to have enough clothes for eight working days (ironing is done once a week, just need enough to be sure). So, enough stuff for eight outfits that cover off external temperatures ranging from around 10C to 40+C and an internal office temperature of 22C (which isn’t that warm in winter and is a bit bloody cold in summer. Maybe they should look into that? Apparently office temperatures are set so that an average 70kg, 40 year old bloke is comfortable sitting around all day in a three piece woollen fucking suit. Ladies don’t wear that to work. Actually, most blokes I know don’t wear that sort of shit to work. The CEO at my office doesn’t wear that shit to work. Studies show that an ambient temperature of 24-25 will not decrease productivity and will actually save a shit tonne of money. And will probably increase productivity cos all the ladies in the office won’t be flinging their cardies on and off and shivering all fucking day. Since I’ve been working from home – hot day, air con goes on once it’s 24C inside and I maintain that all day. Winter, stick to that pesky 22C but I’m wearing appropriate for the bloody weather clothing not business attire. Oh, and I have a window seat with all the lovely morning sunshine to keep me warm.)

Anyway, where was I? Eight days of work clothes. Right.

  • Bottoms:
    • Two pairs of long pants (definitely not polyester. Ahem.)
    • Two pairs of Capri length pants (ditto on the polyester)
    • Two skirts (winter weight)
    • Two skirts (light weight)
    • One pair of shorts
    • One pair of good jeans for casual Friday
  • Tops:
    • T-shirts (four – white, grey, navy, black)
    • Sleeveless shirts (four – white, navy, black, grey)
    • Long sleeved shirts (six-eight – variety of colours. Who am I kidding? Mostly white, blue, and navy)
    • One or two dresses for winter (black and a print)
    • Two dresses for summer (neutral prints)
  • Knits, jackets, and coats
    • Cardigans – three woollen (probably black, navy, red and/or grey); two cotton – black and navy
    • Jumper – light weight, oversized
    • Denim jacket
    • Blazer
    • Overcoat
    • Proper warm coat

Fuck, that looks like a lot of clothes. 40 things, without adding in shoes? But I suppose if it’s a year round effort… it’s possibly not that bad? Is it? Day like today – expected top of 21C, fucking chilly 16C at 11am, chinos (capri length because stupid fucking long legs, right), long sleeved shirt, cardigan. Probably would have worn that to the office. Would have worn shoes though… I still need to think of at home clothes and there’s the leisure wear department as well…Nah, that’s bullshit – too much stuff. I would need another house to store my capsules. This is supposed to be an exercise in minimalisation. Okay, if my wardrobe caught on fire… What would I need to go and buy tomorrow?

For work, I would need couple pairs of pants, couple of skirts, maybe six or eight tops or shirts, and a dress; plus a couple of cardigans. And one decent pair of jeans for casual Fridays. And a coat for winter. And tights and undies and socks and shoes and shizz.

And for home, jeans, casual pants, half a dozen tops (winter and summer) couple of jumpers, shorts, leisure wear and jarmies.

That’s looking more like it. Although it’s still a fucking lot of clothes.

The Dining Room Diaries: Gratitude edition

I have been a bit of a fucking grumpy sod lately. But you get that on the big jobs. And on the middling and smaller sized jobs as well. For starters, I’m still stuck in the fucking dining room for the foreseeable future. I’m completely over the set up/pack up of the whole palaver each week, and I’m over just about everything else within stick poking reach. BUT, realistically, if I was to go back to work on Monday, I would need to wear a fucking mask *all* day in the office. And how much would THAT suck? Yeah. Shaddup. Sick of people forgetting I’m actually AT WORK even though I’m at home all day and yeah, coming in from a great day out having fun and shit with “what’s for dinner, I’m staaaarving” or, even worse… can’t you just ring up and organise this or go pick that up for me. Um no. Working. At home. In the dining room. All day.

And there’s a weirdarse smell in the back room. Smells like well. Swamp. Or something has died. Or something that lived in a swamp crawled into the house and died a tragic and stench ridden death. We did have the pest control people in for the rats in the roof. Maybe it’s them? Who knows? And guess who gets to go and find out? (Well, actually *not* me if it’s in the roof. I am not trustworthy in high places). It’s probably a rat. There was one in the vege garden that *I* had to deal with. Which I did. With some squealing and shrieking.

So, time to build a fucking bridge, get the hell over myself and start looking for a bright patch. A whole side of bright is probably a bit ambitious. So a wee shiny patch of light in amongst the filthy mood and annoyances that are murking up my outlook. Hrmph.

Let’s start small – I have to leave the house for a couple of hours on a Friday morning while my cleaning fairy waves her magical wand over the joint. I barrelled out of the house and did a meeting in the mobile office (car) under a shady tree in the really rather lovely park at the end of my street. I am grateful that I live within a short distance of a glorious almost 200 acre park.

I am also grateful for my cleaning fairy. In exchange for cash, she transforms the dog hair encrusted cesspit I live in into a shiny bastion of cleanliness. Until everyone gets home, that is. But my house is clean right now, and that is the main thing.

And today I had to run a couple of errands in town, so I took myself off to my favourite café, had a delicious coffee made for my by someone else, and ate a tiny and also delicious snack while I read through a report for work. I am grateful that we are currently out of lockdown and that my favourite café has survived another day.

The other night, it was just me and Mayhem at home for a couple of hours. I needed him to help put the super king doona cover onto my super king sized doona. I am tall, but my arms are not long enough to wrestle that beast into submission. So, he helped me make the bed and put the doona cover on. The dog also helped. And a solid half hour of hilarity ensued. I am grateful for the laugh.

A couple of weeks ago we had a Family Holiday. Now, we’re the kind of family that holidays together *every* year – but it’s normally car related. This year, all the car related events were cancelled one after the other (like dominos they were. Cancelled. Cancelled. Postponed. Cancelled) so, before Melbourne got let loose at the end of the Big Shutdown last year, we booked a week away in a beach house over summer. It was lovely. I wished we’d stayed longer. I saw the Californian Redwood plantation. I knew it existed, but didn’t realise it was this close to home. I assumed it was on the other side of Melbourne, or near Bendigo or somewhere. Chaos went there on a school trip last year and told us about it. I have a picture of the redwoods on my desktop and they make me smile every time I see them. I am grateful that my son thought of visiting the Redwoods as an activity.

And the other car event that was cancelled was even closer to home. But we always stay down there for the weekend, as it’s easier than trekking home each night after midnight and back again at 6.30 in the morning. We stay in a house or an apartment with another family. They couldn’t make it this year, so we went on our own. This place is phenomenal. Worth every bloody expensive penny we spent. And being there by ourselves? Priceless. And a lot of other people also decided to keep their accommodation and go anyway. We got to experience the event like an entrant, instead of being an organiser. It was fun. I am glad we kept the accommodation, even though we’ll be on rations for a couple of weeks.

Oh, and Mayhem came home from school in a Mood tonight. Lordy, that child. He’s like a 65 year old man in a 15 year old’s body. Stomping around the Dining Room telling me the ins and outs of the trials and tribulations of school in a class where nobody but him (allegedly) cares. I am grateful that Mr Moody will tell me of his woes. And I am so grateful that this last lockdown was for five days and there was only three days of school at home. So so grateful for that.

There’s a few things to be grateful for. I’m still dark and shirty about well. Just about everything really. But hey. There’s shiny.

Dining Room Diaries – A rose by any other name…

Hrrm. Haven’t been off on a good tangent for a while.


One of the things that’s been making me a Little Mad is also one of those situations where I may or may not have created a rod for my own back. This is mostly down to a couple of decisions I made a really really long time ago.

Decision the very first wasn’t actually made by me. It was made collectively by the parental units who decided to get a bit fancy-pants and sling a hyphen into the mix. Now, this was the swingin’ sixties and many things happened. Suffice to say I became the entity known as Maude Hyphen-McGee from the day my parents scribbled it on a piece of paper

Decision the next was down to me – I like the way my name looks like this – MAUDY way better than how it looks like this MAUDE. I would henceforth prefer to be known as Maudy. I am fifteen. I am also a trifle pretentious. And Maudy looks schmick.

Fast forward a couple years laters, and Mr Hyphen-McGee submits a letter to the licencing authority confirming my name is Maude Hyphen-McGee (partially because the slight deviation of the Hyphen on the birth certificate was tolerable to the licencing authority and the parental unit; whereas the alteration of the first name quite possibly did not occur to the parent) and I became the proud owner of a piece of formidable identification that was somewhat close to that of my preferred name.

Little step forward (and the location of the first exceedingly foolish decision by my good self). Family decides to formalise the whole Hyphen business, and opens up the book of Deed Poll. Now, I had agreed to get married (okay, there were two foolish decisions involved here) and decided against joining in the bulk Family Deed Poll; because point and all that if I was changing my name in a year again anyway.

Didn’t get married.

Oops.

By this stage, I was about 40/60 Maude v Maudy. Looked into the whole Solo Deed Poll shenanigan and it was a motza. Lotsa motza. So, yeah. Didn’t. People were generally pretty damn flexible when it came to naming rights back then, and eh, there was such a thing as a preferred name which I spread liberally from one side of my wallet to the other.

Time flies, I am now 2/98 Maude v Maudy. Aside from my driver licence and my passport, I am Maudy Hyphen-McGee. You name a joint, I’m that. But at the same time, the People stopped being so flexible with the naming rights, and started to actively encourage people to pick a lane and stick to it. Now, I’ve picked my lane, and I am sticking to it. Managed to get my passport Hyphenated and yeah, as long as I remembered E not Y any time I flew anywhere, she’ll be right, mate.

So, fast copious forward. Stuff happens. I need id. I need proper fancy passport-y licence-y id.

Fuck.

I lady-splain the whole sad and sorry tale. My name is my name is my name and it sounds the same, so yeah. No. You must sign 94385798345 additional declarations that change your name back to Maude. Rinse. Repeat. Fucking FUCK.

I’m going to change the fucking thing and be done with it. It’s one fucking letter.

But – it’s not. Not when I go back to the dawn of time it’s not. Fuuuuuck. And yeah, born interstate. Which may as well have been another country because well, fuck. The state in which I reside? Pretty simple process, show us yer id, prove you’ve been living under that name, give us $110 folding and here’s a new certificate.

The state I come from? You must provide one item from each list, you can’t use one item more than once, must have your residential address, no post office boxes, plus you must offer the blood of your first born child, taken under the light of a gibbous moon and on a Tuesday. And write an essay explaining why I want to change my name. AND THEY DON’T HAVE TO ACCEPT IT.

Fuck.

And my two pieces of primary identification are in the name I want to change. Which is, you know, why I want to change my name. Oh, and the utilities bills in my name. Postal address. Which is also where I will be wanting them to send the new certificate. And they want to charge me a kidney for the privilege. Nice one.

So, what is in a name? About $265 and a minor coronary, that’s what.

Dining Room Diaries – Yeah but, nah but what even?

I went into the Office today. It was weird. Seriously weird.

I haven’t been in there for nearly seven months – I’ve driven past, waved, looked up at *my* window and sighed a little. But as for entering the doors… no. So, to go in (even though it was only the IT department) was quite extraordinary. It’s so silent without the hum of 800 people and 800 computers. Ironically, I’m going to be heading back in there tomorrow as whatever they did today? Yeah nah.

So, how’s things?

I have five more days of School at Home. The last lot went as well as could be expected. We didn’t actually come to blows, however there were tears on both sides. One positive to come out of this was doing eleven parent teacher interviews from the comfort of the kitchen AND getting it completed in two hours. Lordy, that has *never* happened, and I give you the tip, more than happy for that innovation to continue. Imagine if you will, a school that is a collection of stand alone two and three story buildings. Building A level 3 followed by Building C level 2 ad nauseum. You’ve busted a phoofer valve getting from one side of the school to the other, and by the time you catch your breath – NEXT. I have three more years of high school after this one. Albeit with one kid rather than two, but more than happy for telephone interviews!

In summary, I got through term three without strangling my favourite youngest child, and I didn’t turn into a raging alcoholic (although, I did have a red hot go for a while there. The alcoholic part, not the strangly part). I think this is good? I am also 137% convinced I am not cut out to be a teacher. Definite.

Something else that I’ve become even more aware of over the last two weeks in particular, and that’s my status as “default parent”. Despite my being head down, arse up in the middle of my work day, there’s still an expectation that “hey mum can you just…” means I will just do whatever. Erm. I am working. Ditto re finding activities for the computer obsessed child who will alternate between watching gamers on youtube or actually gaming. I. Am. Working. At my job. The one that pays the bills around here. So, not able to come up with a timetable of Awesome Activities! Or things that don’t involve the computer. Geez it takes me 97 goes to get him to unpack the fucking dishwasher. Fuck.

Anyway, said offspring spent the bulk of two weeks gaming with his mates online. I suppose that’s socialising of sorts? And youtube was banned during work hours. World hasn’t ended. Yet. The (not so) wee beastie managed to grow enough that I had to go buy him more school clothes so, it didn’t stunt his growth or anything.

The default parent setting seems to apply to most things around here at the moment. Just because I’m home doesn’t mean I’m the only option – yon paternal parental unit is also available for the provision of lifts. And neither offspring has two broken arms, so there’s a fair chance they didn’t need to wait until mum gets up to make lunch. Crikey. Five more days of having to make lunch for people. And it’s Reg’s week off – I don’t know if he’s realised yet, but I’m um. Not cooking this week. At all if I can manage it. Chaos is back to working two shifts a week from this week which creates a little havoc with the meal plan. But we are taking him out for dinner this week, unlike last time we went out for dinner… (Instant 25% discount if we go out without him. Damn giant kiddies eat a lot).

Anyway, I’m ticking along. Sorta got a sad at the moment. Everything in the media is so nasty and mean spirited – like knowing exactly who’s responsible for a one in a hundred year disaster will change anything that’s happened. As if they’d* have done any better, made better decisions, made the fucking economies awesome and all of that kind of shit. They can say what they would have done with the benefit of hindsight and the firm knowledge that it’s unlikely they will ever have to deal with it.

And I’m trickling through a whole lot of firsts and lasts at the moment, and my favouritest whingeing board is no longer able to lend me a casual ear for those times when I need to let off some steam; and realising I am almost exactly the same age my mother was when my father died. And that I’m technically an orphan. Mortality knocks. Pass the fucking gin, mate. So yeah, bit of a sad.

Anyway, she’ll be right. Even though I’m a bit of a grumpy, sweary fuck a lot of the time, I’m generally a reasonably positive and sunny little vegemite. So, I am quite sure I will in fact turn that fucking frown upside down shortly. Or bite someone. Either will suffice.

I’ve told myself I’m not going back to work until March next year – if it’s earlier, that will be awesome. If I’m not wandering back through the glassy doors by then, I’ll give myself another internal deadline. And continue to build a series of tiny fucking bridges.

She’ll be right, mate.

*”They” is all those politicians from the opposite side of government, all those people who prop up the desks at certain newspapers and “news” outlets and all those people who waggle microphones in people’s faces, looking for a fucking “gotcha”. And those theorists of conspiracy. Especially those theorists. THEY can all get fucked.

Dining Room Diaries – The Here We Go Again Edition

Yes. I live in Victoria. Regional Victoria. And we’re about to go back into Stage 3 restrictions. Like that was ever not going to happen. Glad I don’t live in Metro Vic for a number of reasons (would be seriously ripped off with the 5km radius – although would technically be able to go boating?) Anyway, I’m not going to delve into the politics of it all because hello. Suffice to say I was pretty sure we’d be going down again as soon as the numbers went up.

And here we are.

Since I last wrote of the utter joy I was feeling at the end of school at home, it did take me a little while to get back into the swing of having the house to myself and making my own coffees; and what with rosters and things, I think it was Week 2 after school went back that I finally had the house to myself. Which was then swiftly followed by school holidays and Chaos getting sick. And queuing up for two and a half hours to watch my kid get a stick shoved up his schnozz. Not pleasing. Have to say it was a test I was exceedingly happy he passed (or is it failed? Wasn’t positive, anyway) because, after spending two plus hours in the car with him… yeah. Traditional Teenager-Itis – also known as glandular fever. Curtailed his activities somewhat, I give you the tip. And the day before his first sanctioned Outing since he got sick… no visitors in the home means no movie nights for you. Sorry, matey.

Now that school will be back on at home in a couple of days, a few things need to be sorted out. Have I got enough snackeroonies for two teenage boys? Do they have enough crayons and paper? Do I have enough gin?

The main consequence of the return of School at Home is that I need to tidy up my mess and erm. Un-annex the Favourite Youngest Child’s desk. I took a week off in the holidays because – three people marauding about like hairy wildebeests having FUN and stuff did not strike me as a pleasing work environment.

Anyway, I decided to learn a new thing that didn’t involve food because I’ve nailed sour dough and there’s only so many cakes my heavily covid-conditioned arse can cope with. I have a perfectly good albeit probably 17 year old sewing machine that’s been barely used. What’s a girlie to do? Looked up the youtubers, watched several dozen videos and decided that I could so do that. Probably. And anyway, what else could I do at home? So, I took up patchwork. It’s quite good fun, although it’s probably a bit more expensive than I would have hoped. I got rid of my fabric stash several years ago when I realised it was just gathering moths and dust. Of course, I hit up the wildly expensive but delightful boutique fabric shop because why not.

(Plus, I figured I’m not spending my money on anything much, and I’m supporting a local small business, so why indeed not. Okay, I did go to Spotlight for the gizzards because cheaper. Not totally wasteful of the cashola.)

Things I have learned.

  1. I cannot sew a straight line to save myself
  2. Patchwork is much faster than crochet
  3. And nowhere near as sweary

I have made a long but exceedingly narrow quilt that has been commandeered already by my long and exceedingly narrow child; a very small quilt for my very small doggo, and I’ve made the topper for a much larger and wider quilt for whomever is missing out on utilising the narrow quilt. Plus, I have the fixings for another one that will be a bit stylish and nice. I hope. I’ve made a couple of masks as well, however eyes bigger than tummy – equivalent of my sewing skill set. Enough said. Although if you have one ear bigger than the other, and a taste for old lady florals – hit me up.

Anyway, now that the Favourite Youngest Child is reclaiming his work space, I shall have to pack things away and yoick them out on the weekends. Ah well.

And because Lockdown 2.0 is *all* about me… I am going to miss Pilates a lot (last class tonight for the next six weeks); going out for a steak dinner with the Bloke of the house; getting my house cleaned… I’m really going to miss getting my house cleaned. I’m going to miss freezing my entire face off walking the dog in the mornings (actually will miss that. The facemask is a bit gross and soggy by the time I get home. And cold. Ew.) And I am really going to miss being home by myself from 8.30 – 3.30pm four days a fortnight.

Spoke to the Youngest Child about School at Home at length in the car on the weekend (last chance drive before Lockdown was announced. Loads of Last Things. It’s sorta sad if you think about it too much) because as you probably remember, we had Issues last time. We’re going to do things differently when school starts up again on Thursday. Lot more checking in and going through the assignments and so on at the start of each week, and (hopefully) a bit less hysterics at the end of the week. The Oldest Child is resigned to this year continuing to be the most insane and unpredictable rollercoaster that it started out as. It’s only year 12. Atars don’t really matter in the wider scheme of the universe, and hey, he’s not the only kid on this wild ride. It’s just looking like Plan B might become Plan A.

This year (and probably next year) will be what it is, and we will do what we can to prevent our family being impacted upon more than it is.

Stay safe all you people out there. Wear your fucking mask. Stay at home.

The Dining Room Diaries – NO more sleeps!

No. It’s not no more sleeps until I go and work in an office again. That’s not on the agenda for quite a while yet. Maybe July, possibly August… dunno when I get to play with the grown ups face to face again (Am I ever gonna see their faces again….).

However, there are now no more sleeps until I am NO LONGER SUPERVISING YEAR NINE ENGLISH.

I did start writing this a couple of days ago, when I still had Year 9 English on the agenda, so it’s been three two one yeah a bit of a count down. So, for the first part, imagine you’re talking to Past Maudy…

As you can possibly gather, I was not displeased about this turn of events. In fact, I was almost doing the exceedingly happy dance of joy. I was only almost doing this happy dance because I did have three more days of supervising Year Nine English and dealing with a recalcitrant wee sod who is in fact perfectly capable of writing three (yes three. One more than two. One less than four) paragraphs about the book we have been wrestling with for the last two months. The book in question, I might add, had only 120 pages. It is not a long book, and neither is it a hard book, so I am not sure quite what the issue is here. Aside from the words recalcitrant, year nine, and boy.

Now, I am rather good at looking stuff up and working out what things mean and answering questions (and creating questions as well) and translating meaning for other people. Words and numbers are my bread and jam. So, you would think that this skill set, coupled with the fact that I did actually pass Year Nine English (and year ten and eleven and twelve. Twice); I might actually have a clue about how to do this shit.

Apparently not.

Experience counts for nothing. English is pointless. Why do we have to learn it? We speak it. There’s no need for a special subject just of English because we do it every day. You never need to do this stuff in real life.

A-fucking-hem.

Back in the 20th century, when I was a wee lassie (and possibly a recalcitrant year nine girlie, to be perfectly honest), we would have regular meetings with the Careers Teacher – a formidably bosomed woman whom I shall call Mrs B because a) there is a slim chance she is still alive, and b) a slimmer chance someone who knows her may read this. Now, Mrs B had a little office full of interesting pamphlets and handbooks and the like for the illumination and the career guidance of the denizens of my particular girls school. I’m not sure quite why she needed so many bits and bobs, because Careers according to Mrs B went something like this:

Option A: Leave school as soon as you turned 15 and go and work in a shop. I’m looking at all you ratbaggies with your short short frocks and a quick ciggie behind the bike shed.

Option B: Well, aren’t you the clever one? And aren’t you particularly excellent at typing and shorthand* – finish Year 10 and off to secretarial school for you.

Option C: All the way to Year 11, well. Nursing school for you, then. People or animals?

Option D: Year 12. Okay. Primary school teaching this way… Oh, you’re quite good at English. You can be a HIGH SCHOOL teacher. No. No other options. Teaching for you.

So, yes, Mrs B’s job wasn’t all that onerous. She had four buckets and she popped you into one of those buckets pretty much the first interaction she had with you. And Mrs B was absolutely 127% sure that I would make an excellent teacher. Anyone could be a teacher. You go to the university, you get the teaching degree and off you go. Nice work, Mrs B.

(I went to a High School reunion a couple of years ago – of the year seven class – because of the 180 of us who started, just under 60 made it all the way to year 12. And quite unsurprisingly, there were a lot of nurses, a few school teachers, a sprinkling of the secretarial types, a surprising number of welfare workers, and at least a couple of accountants. I wasn’t the only one who wandered off the Mrs B approved career path.)

Now, I think it’s abundantly clear that I did not end up teaching anybody anything (there are options, Mrs B, many options) – well, aside from a dalliance in the training department in a past life. That was traumatic. I am a relatively quick study. Strangely enough, I did have the belief at the time that my colleagues were possibly more intelligent than they actually were; and the expectation that after I explained something maybe four times, it really should sink in. And stay sunk in. And apparently, saying “oh for fuck’s sake, it’s not that fucking difficult” is a bit frowned upon in an adult learning environment.

I can’t imagine it would be that much different in the teaching of the children department. Right you little fuckers, if you do not understand the theme of loneliness in Of Mice and Men, I will make you eat the whole fucking book, one page at a time.

Oh. Wait. That might have happened during last week’s lesson. Possibly why there were tears.

This week we needed to write three paragraphs of approximately six sentences each on three key questions. I started swearing about 90 seconds after school started on Tuesday morning. And by 9.30 Tuesday, I was considering *my* options…

  1. Nag like Ming The Merciless until said 18 sentences are written
  2. Sit with him and calmly coax him into producing the three paragraphs
  3. Lose my shit because for fuck’s sake we’ve been doing all the goddamn pre-work for the last two months and it’s not that fucking hard,
  4. Random combination of all of the above
  5. Leave it because fuck. Who cares? Next week he will be *his* English teacher’s problem and I won’t have to give myself an aneurysm.

Considering I’d already done Option 3 by 9.15am on Tuesday morning, I suspect you can guess how the rest of the week panned out. If your guess included a chunk of Option 2, followed by a LOAD of Option one, and finally throwing my hands in the air and taking Option 5 – you would be pretty close. Because I honestly don’t give a flying fuck about who’s the loneliest lonely person in Of Mice and Men (Curley’s wife. Who doesn’t even rate a name.)

So yeah, not cut out to be a teacher of anything much.

And, ironically, after hours of badgering, cajoling and the odd swear or twenty – he did in fact produce a rough draft of his three fucking questions. Just in time for his English teacher to email the class and say “Yay, kiddies, you’ve done enough work . We will do this on Tuesday IN FUCKING CLASS”

Okay, the teacher did NOT say the last bit.

Funnily enough, my week has improved as quickly as school finished. My Cleaning Fairy returned to work this week, as well. So, it’s now Friday – the house is clean, the fridge is full and I am looking at a three day weekend with nothing more onerous on the agenda than an extra sleep in and a little bit of family time.

Zen. I might find some.

*(Yes, high school was a long time ago. They did shorthand classes at my high school. And Needlework. And Home Economics. Which was probably more useful than Food Tech. And yes, ironically, considering how much of my day is spent typing and taking notes, I sucked at typing. No-one has ever failed Year Nine typing. 50%)

Dining Room Diaries – what day is it again?

It’s been nine weeks (I know, right) since I started working from home. And about the same since I last blogged. Oops.

Things have been a little Miss Thing in the McGee household. Life is no longer as we know it. Shortly after I last wrote, things went a bit tits up with a couple of things in my behind the scenes life (cryptic post is cryptic, might share later, but yeah. Not now. Still getting my head around shit, to be honest. And I sigh. A lot).

But I am sure you desperately need to know how I have been filling my days in the Dining Room and you don’t really need to know what disasters have befallen…* so here we go again.

Well – last time I wrote, I had no pants, the kids were on holidays, my cleaner had quit (temporarily), and yeah, no pants. Technology and interwebs and stuff was being okay. More or less. Two teenage boys slamming the internets for two weeks solid over the holidays convinced me that the internet would be okay with school work and work work because non-stop youtube and gaming =/= video conferencing and school website. That bit was quite good.

Then came the sudden realisation that there are TWO school aged kiddies in tha house and they both had erm. Slightly differing needs. And I, as the gainfully employed member of this establishment, was going to maintain my annexation of the Dining Table. Of which I have commandeered approximately Half. Ish. Sort of. Depending which way you measure it. And if you squint a bit. Suffice to say, the remaining portion is not what you’d call a useful size or shape of a 1.1m by 2.2m table.

This lack of proper writing spaces necessitated many trips to the Officeworks armed with tape measures and hairy eyeballs to determine exactly what desks were available for procurement (here is a clue… the number starts with fucking NONE). We negotiated a slightly banged up floor stock (no discounts, you want you pay. Okay? We wanted so we paid). So, Desk A into Room B, Desk B into Room C, Desk B out of Room C because well. Geometry and Physics. Or Trigonometry. Or something. Desk B in passage while Dining Table (Desk D?) received a 90 degree rotation and voila! The Dining Room magically became Year 9 and Work simultaneously (and, at the same time).

And, also simultaneously and at the same time, the remarkable room rearrangement of Room B in order to fit in Desk A resulted in maybe five large bags of accumulated detritus. Which was even more remarkable considering he’d cleaned his room during the holidays… Ahem. {cough} hoarders{cough}. So, ready to start School at Home, Remote School, whatever you want to call it. Not home bloody schooling. It is not that. And work. Simultaneously. And at the same time.

Well. Okay then. Right. That took a bit of workings out – apparently, my prior confirmed expertise in Year Nine English, and the aspect of my day to day job that requires translation of the written word counts for nothing when confronted with an ever so slightly surly 14 year old. Ahem. Words may have been exchanged. There might have been a fight. It did not degenerate into fisticuffs. But it came close.

There are many, many reasons I am not a teacher. Many.

Year 12 on the other hand is swimming along. Sometimes waving, sometimes drowning, sometimes just splashing about. He won’t be the only one, and it’s not the end of the day if this year doesn’t pan out as well as it should, could, might have… But the look on his face when he found out school was going back in two weeks… well. Brand new bike for Christmas from Santa, a red one with the shiny handlebars and the doo-hickeys that made it sound like a motorcycle. Yeah. That face.

Oh, and pants. Yes. I have pants. They are quite comfortable pants, exceedingly cheap and eminently practical working from home pants. In fact, they’re not really pants… they might be leggings that look a bit like pants from a distance and if you squint a bit. They also have elastic. This is a useful thing for pants that aren’t really pants but might be leggings that look like pants (bugger it, I’m just going to call them pants). Because in the isolations, I have dropped from my daily 10km walk to about 3km. And it’s a three kilometres that’s 100% weather permitting. Call me um. Squishy.

Because I have learned how to make sour dough bread from scratch in isolation. I already baked a yeast bread pretty regularly, but I have upped the ante, and created a “mother” (which I put in the beer fridge and promptly killed. You name the Mother – I called mine Bill, which is ironic really. I killed Bill). I also have another working starter that’s called Kenny (are you sensing a theme here…). While I do make some erm. Interesting looking loaves, they do taste splendid. Very splendid. With lashings of butter. And yeah. Been baking other delicious treats, too.

Elastic pants for the win.

I’ve discovered I have a limit to the number of video calls I can tolerate in one day. It appears to be two, and no more than 40 minutes (maybe that’s why Zoom picked 40 minutes, hey?) or my head turns to custard and I wander off. It’s hard to maintain listening face with the video on you and everyone can see you. I’m a hider, face down, doodling and scribbling in meetings. I listen better with my ears if my fingers are busy. Stops my mind from wandering. Weird, hey. A story for another day, perhaps. But yeah – maintaining an interested and engaged face for longer than ten minutes is a Bit Hard. Yay for the video off button is all I can say. Although. Tip for young players, turn the call on mute if you take yourself into the kitchen for a coffee or something. They can still hear you…

So here I am, sitting in my house that needs a bit of a clean, wearing elasticated pants, and sighing. Still working, still have the correct number of childrens, doggies, and significant others. Actually quite like my family. And I haven’t completely lost my mind.

There’s a lot to be said for that.

*you don’t.

Dining Room Diaries – Day Five

Yes, I know I talked about a week last time I wrote – but this is officially the fifth day of looking out the window from my dining room. Today is also the day the kids finished school. For the holidays. Allegedly. Today is also the day my Cleaning Fairy popped us on hold for the duration, and the day my Pilates class got cancelled.

I’m a bit sad.

On the positive side, the Ironing Fairy picked up, and while it might be for the last time, at least I will have smooth clothes for the next week or two. Which brings me to tonight’s topic of discussion.

What does one wear to work when work is the dining room table?

Now, in the past, I’ve always dressed for work to work from home. Not full on fancy with tights and face on and all, but I am dressed in work clothes, and a proper shirt and my hair is dried and I look professional. But this time, dressing properly only lasted til Wednesday. I was in shorts and t-shirt on Thursday and Friday. I’m still trying to work out a routine where I can get at least one decent walk in before I start work; eat a sensible breakfast, do a tiny bit of housework, and still “get to work” at 9am. Sounds easy, but yeah, still getting kids up and getting side tracked by The Shiny… But bloody hell, getting dressed is becoming an exercise in futility. (Also, sadness impacts upon my sartorial decision making. Perhaps I need a kaftan. Or a mu mu?)

Before the world stopped yesterday evening, I went for breakfast with ma homies. I have been having breakfast once a month with a bunch of girlfriends for 16 years. It’s a bit of a habit. Anyway, we went out for breakfast, did the social distancing thing, then I ran a couple of errands… I walked past Peter Alexander – or is it the “Working from Home Uniform Shop”? I do like my pajamies. But if I wear them all day, what would I change into when I finish work for the day?

It’s also starting to get a bit cooler… I had to put the heater on this morning. So, does that mean trackies are appropriate for work? They’re more formal than pjs, and I can still downgrade to pjs when I finish work? And they’re definitely more formal than the exercise tight? Jeans suck after a while. They dig and they poke and they’re singularly unpleasant to sit around in for hours at a time.

Of course, I still have the outstanding issue of no appropriate work trousers that I may have mentioned previously. I was planning to get some made in time for winter – but that’s not going to happen now. How can one have one’s inner leg measured whilst leaving an acceptably social distance? Once these shenanigans abate, I will be hastening rather swiftly into the trouser making establishment to remedy this situation; however, in the mean time… I have no fucking warm pants.

Four weeks at home with no pants. I’m only going to be video conferencing. Who will know, gentle reader, who will know.