So, it's been over two months since I blogged.
Insert whatever excuse seems good to you, but it's fairly obvious that it dropped off when I discovered facebook, and ceased almost entirely once I became a twit. Tweeter. Whatever.
Uni: This has been so, so hard. My old habits of "argh...run away!" as soon as something becomes academically tough (and immobilising perfectionism kicks in) have been very hard to fight back, and I've not always won that fight. Two months of total inertia around August/September, most notably. Luckily, my extension continues, and the work continues, my interviewees will hopefully return their interviews to me soon, and I'm more than halfway there in terms of writing. About 2/3 of the word count, actually, but that's not the point. I'm so going to bust 15K. I hope TPTB can't count...
Around the time that my academic inertia was hitting crisis point, so was the rest of me. I was putting off writing the dissertation, but I wasn't doing anything else, because I felt guilty doing anything that wasn't Thesis. So I did nothing but work, parent, fart about on the internet...it didn't help. I got to a point where I'd been desperately needing to cry, and unable to, then started and couldn't stop. I really felt like there was nothing chemically wrong in my head, it was severe dissatisfaction with how I was living my life. So, I dealt with it in a swotty kind of way; I wrote a list. Everything that was missing, everything that was actively causing me angst, everything I was doing that was helping, and everything I was doing that was detrimental. I then made a concerted effort to fill in the blanks, do more of, or eliminate as applicable.
I didn't just say "stop doing ANYTHING that's not Thesis, and just do it", I knew I'd feel miserable and helpless and frustrated when I failed to do it. I stopped putting things off "until after I'm done", and started reconstructing the kind of life I wanted to be living - one with a healthy dose of creativity, fun, work, play, music.
It worked. I started small, moving my sewing table in to the study and getting the sewing machine out. I read a book for pleasure. Then I did something really scary and GOT MYSELF A SINGING TEACHER.
Weirdly enough, I've gotten more thesis-work done since I gave myself to be happy than when I was furiously punishing myself for doing fuck-all. I'm not saying it's perfect, I still would like to be finished and done and *dusting hands off*, but I'm getting there. And I think I'm much nicer to be around, on the whole.
Maeve: The elflet is doing brilliantly. The trips to Perth take their toll on us all in terms of sleep deprivation, financial outlay and emotional upheaval, but I still think we're doing the best thing possible. Maeve has three brilliant parents who work very hard to keep her feeling secure and loved, and it shows. She's charismatic with enough empathy to not indulge in tyranny. She loves to dance and write and make up stories. Currently her favourite colour is red, but as with everything, when you ask her preference for something, the answer always begins, "well, TODAY my favourite is [...]". Her new haircut is adorable, and I've made her a bunch of practical and lovely clothes. I really can't honestly believe she's almost four (and it's time for me to write one of my birthday letters), but then I'll look back at baby photos and be totally bemused that she was ever that tiny fresh being with the visitor-from-the-stars look still in her eyes.
Music: You know what else was making me miserable?So, I mentioned I got a singing teacher
. Annalisa's fantastic - is very good at identifying my vulnerabilities and weaknesses, and giving me strategies to tackle them, and also my strengths. She's helping me work on the longstanding tension problem, and I swear I'm sounding better within 3 lessons. It's hard, of course, when you're working with new techniques and new methods. I feel like I'm working with a totally unfamiliar instrument, and it's nowhere NEAR reliable yet. I probably get one in 20 notes in the right spot. But she's made me feel very positive about what I can do, saying that my ear is fantastic, and that the voice is beautiful (nice of her - I am looking forward to hearing myself when I'm getting a more consistently good sound) and big. Very big. I know that, but it'll be good to have a voice that carries beautifully, rather than being applied like an assault weapon.
Next weekend I'll be participating in a vocal performance and interpretation workshop run by Annalisa and Suzanne Johnston (I think?), which will be both terrifying and extremely good for me. She said I'd be "fine", so...argh.
Hopefully, by January, I'll be a little more stable, because at long last, I'm doing TSSS!
The other "musical" (you'll see the reason for the scarequotes in a sec) adventure I've embarked upon is learning the tin whistle. Again. I used to play in a very limited way, and always swore I'd pick it up again and get good, with the ultimate goal of buying myself a Irish wooden flute one day (the fingering is the same). I even bought a beginner's set in Ireland, back in 2005. On a whim, when hosting some friends for a Samhain celebration, I picked it up and made some godawful squawking noises. Since then, I've practiced when I get the chance, and I'm getting better! My fingers now mostly remember where they're meant to be without a chart reminder, I'm getting the hang of tonguing, and I can usually switch between the octaves without trouble. Except when condensation gets the better of me. Wind instruments, they're disgusting!
Speaking of which...
Robin: This is the most difficult aspect of my life to write about with any candidness, or without resorting to leavening humour. Not because it's difficult or bad (oh, SO the opposite), but just this kind of reticence about looking too ridiculously sappy in "public", and a lingering superstition from the Days of Horrific Anxiety that to commit something to words is a deathknell. But to not write about it leaves an obvious hole, or rather ignores the warp-thread of my life. Not a single discrete aspect, but an all-pervading joy - someone who rejoices in, assists, allies with what I do and who I am. I am happy. We are happy. There is a sense of absolute rightness about where we are and who we are with Right Now. Even negotiating a way through conflict is a reinforcement that we're doing the right thing.
That was more an "Us:" than a "Robin:", true. Well, I'll let him blog for himself, but he's well. There's been a sad loss in his family after a difficult time watching the loved one fade away. But otherwise, he is flying, and singing, and doing an excellently good job of adapting to Insta-Parenthood(tm) ("Just Add 3yo!!").
Melbourne: I love it here, from the ridiculous (I have so much fun finding beautiful clothes here) to the sublime (plays! exhibitions! etc!). I've strengthened friendships with people I already knew, and have been meeting new people. The move took it out of me pretty seriously, as I've explained before, but it's definitely the best idea of my life. Work is going fine, for the most part. I've now taken on the task of producing the Indigenous Cultures content for our section of the website, and I'm well chuffed about that.
So, that's about it, really. Not much has happened this year, eh? Just, you know. Stuff.