If you’re a Lego fiend, or just interested in the way I artistically express myself instead of writing these days, then be of good cheer: there will be a post about my epic excursion to travel down to Perth to exhibit at this year’s Bricktober exhibition last weekend coming soon.
To be honest, it would have been coming this weekend, except that well, decisions have been decisionated, and the family have decisionatisized that our adventure in Karratha is over, and it’s time for us to pack up and return to the relative civilisation of Perth and surrounds.
All of which requires us to have jobs. So this weekend has been a frenzy of cover letters, updated CVs, and hitting up all the job links of Jobs WA, Seek, and the like. Luscious is a career teacher, so we’re concentrating on making sure she’s offered a full-time position, which will then be the indication of where we need to settle ourselves, but I’m also making sure I at least throw my hat into the ring for some positions — as as many part-time ones as I can find, as well.
Pretty pictures soon, I promise, as soon as I’ve shot these applications away and have the time to write a full blog report. But for now, it’s off the submit buttons for me! Best case scenario is that we’ll go down for Christmas and simply stay. I’ll keep you in the loop.
I spoke earlier this week about my plans for 2021, including returning to my regular blogging features, such as 5 for Friday. So what better way to kick off a new year of this feature than by expanding on my previous comments and detailing five goals I want to achieve, and maintain, during the coming year.
So…… lot of weather we’ve been having lately, innit?……
All right, let’s talk serious shit. I’ve lost my way since our son Blake completed suicide back in September 2019. Of course it’s understandable — Luscious and I have been swallowed by grief, and anybody who can’t understand how that level of grief can affect you has my permission to stay quiet — but the ultimate end of that process is that my life has turned in upon itself and started eating its own tail. Everything that was supposed to be good about coming to Karratha — gaining fitness, writing more, lowering my stress levels, finding my post-50-year-old-future, etc etc and so forth — was destroyed, and what’s more, I didn’t care.
Date of son and daughter-in-law’s wedding: slap bang in the middle of the school holidays.
Length of time we’ve had shiny new SUV: two weeks.
Of course we drove.
The plan was relatively simple: we’d bundle ourselves into the car, blast through the 11-hour drive from K-Town to Geraldton in a day, stay overnight, then hit Perth on day two. Coming back, we’d take things slower: stop at Geraldton again, stop at Carnarvon on day two, get home on day three. Take the time to see a tourist trap or two on the way. We’d have Lord 15’s best mate in the car with us, so turn the trip into a bit of a sightseeing experience rather than a race. And with the extra space we’d have, and the lack of a luggage limit, get some big-arse shopping in in the meantime.
Tropical Cyclone Damien came crashing through Karratha on Friday night, stayed around the town like a biker gang in a 70s Ozploitation movie for most of Saturday, and made its exit in time for us to break out the shovels and chainsaws Sunday afternoon to engage in the long and dispiriting task of cleaning up.
Writing remains dead. Teaching eats everything; I spend most of my spare time creating resources, marking, or just plain dealing with the steepness of the learning curve that comes from being out of a game for twenty-five years. There’s a writing group in town: Luscious and I went to it a few times, but haven’t been in something like 9 months. We’re talking about going back, just to get in touch with the joy of words. Watch this space. Or, if you care about the outcome, maybe don’t…
Weight loss has tapered off in a major way. See above for the reasons why. I’m still under 100kgs, which is a good thing, and trying to fit workouts into the gaps. Call it maintenance rather than loss, perhaps. I have still lost centimetres, which is positive, and my chest has gained half a centimetre of muscle where there was once only fat. It’s a long haul. I’m still hauling.
The Lego remains in the cupboard. Time, community, opportunity to display are all lacking. But Luscious and I have just swapped offices because reasons, and mine now has a Great Big Giant Table ™, so possiblymaybeperhaps I’ll have a chance to get it all out and noodle around with some pieces just for fun. We’ll see.
Life decisions have been decisioned. We like it here. There are opportunities for us. We’ll be staying for at least another three years.
Breaking silence just to update you on our current state of Real Life ™.
As many of you know, we located to Karratha, in the North of our State, at the beginning of last year. Right now, that puts us in the path of Cyclone Veronica, a category 4 cyclone off the coast that is expected to reach category 5 by the weekend, when it is expected to cross the coast somewhere within 350 kilometres of my side of the bed.
By tea-time Sunday, we are likely to be gifted with winds in excess of 125km/hr, potentially reaching to over 165km/hr. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, we’re also highly likely to receive rainfall in excess of 150mm within a 24 hour period, resulting in major flooding and a very dangerous storm tide.
I’ve talked a bit about the effect that moving to Karratha has had on my writing (TLDR: I’m writing again), but the other major life change I needed to address while I am here is my weight: at the start of the year I had ballooned out to over 111kg, which placed me not so much in the morbidly obese category as the look-Mummy-a-barrage-balloon category.
The first step was getting a swim membership at the local Leisureplex and walking/swimming lengths. Initially, I walked 15 lengths, swam four, walked ten, and swam 2.
I also started a routine based on an article in a Men’s Health magazine: five times a day I did some push ups, crunches, and squats. I am a fat, creaky, broken man: I started out doing a set of five each.
Five weeks later, and this is the routine I’ll be doing today:
5 sets of nine each: push ups, crunches, oblique crunches, dips, squats.
5 sets of fifty skips with a 1kg-weighted rope.
Pool: walk 25 lengths, swim 5, walk 20, swim 4.
3kg weights: 1 set of 20 each of laying dumbbell press, laying dumbell flies, lateral raise, shoulder press, bent over lateral raise.
The rest of the week I’ll do the same except the weight routine will differ:
Tuesday: Double dumbbell row, single arm row, lying dumbbell extension
Wednesday: bicep curl, alternative bicep curl, tricep overhead, tricep kickback
Thursday: goblet squat, Romanian dead lift, dumbbell lunge, Bulgarian split squat, kettlebell swing
Friday: no weights, but a one mile run/walk.
Next week, I’ll go to five sets of ten, and slowly work my way up until I’m doing sets of 20, using 5kg weights, and extending my walk/swim distances at the pool.
And the result? So far, I’ve gone from 111.6 to 108.9kg. That’s a loss of 2.7kg in five weeks, while only making small changes to my diet– I’ll discuss that side of things tomorrow.
It’s been a month since I left the cultural hub (BWAAAAHHHHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!) of Perth behind, and joined Luscious and the kids in the Northern Sunlands of Karratha. It’s been a breath of fresh air for us– hot, dusty, red-tinged air. Luscious has taken to her new life as a High School teacher as if it’s the job she’s been waiting 25 years to do, because it is. The kids are exploring social opportunities they wouldn’t have accessed where we were living before, and there’s a new sense of freedom in being by ourselves.
As for me, well, not having to report to the hated day job has resulted in exactly what we wanted: I’m writing again, with purpose and intent. After months of stagnation, I’ve taken Ghost Tracks past 40,000 words and on towards a final first draft tally that should come in somewhere between 50 and 52,000. It’s entirely conceivable that the first draft will be wrapped up well and truly before the end of March. I’m enjoying a sense of freedom that I had forgotten existed, and slowly, those part of my creativity and soul that had withered are beginning to recover.
So, by way of recording some of the things that have changed with this new location, here are five aspects of life in the Northern Sunlands that have provided new impetus for me, my writing, and my overall well-being.
My payout came through yesterday. Very nice. And what with the School sharing a carpark with the Karratha Leisureplex, and what with me dropping Luscious and the kids off every morning, having a swim every morning looks like the perfect way to get the day started with some exercise. So, Luscious walked me to the counter this morning, and thank you City of Rockingham, I bought an annual swim membership.
Five days a week, forty weeks of the year, I’ve got no excuse not to kiss Luscious and the kids good day, walk thirty steps in the opposite direction to them, and hit the lanes.
So, first session in the 25m long, 1.2m deep, pool today: walked 20 lengths, swam 4, walked another 10, and swam 2, before my shoulder and my knee let me know I’d done enough. It’s not a huge amount , but it’s a start. And it’s one I can build on, every day.
A sparsely-attended morning tea, an awkward 15-minute handover meeting, and 8 years of my life is over.
I don’t think my relationship with the City can be better summed up by my leaving present: a book about the art and people of the Dampier Peninsula so I can “enjoy reading about the culture of the area you’re heading to.”
For the record, the Dampier Peninsula is 850 kilometres North of the area I’m heading to.
So long, City of Rockingham. It certainly was a thing that I did.
The car went first. Then the furniture. Finally, on Wednesday, I drove Luscious and the kids to the airport and they went too. I’ve a couple of days of work and house tidying left, and then I’ll follow them. Rockingham is over, and our future– at least for the next 2 years– lies in Karratha.
I’ve lived in Rockingham, on and off, since the age of eight. That’s a gnat’s breath short of forty years. It’s my home. No matter where I travel– including this move, for however many years it lasts– no matter where I move to, my new location is viewed in terms of where it lies in relation to Rockingham. I’m not moving 1600 kilometres to Karratha, I’m moving 1600 kilometres away from Rockingham.
Everywhere I go, I take Spike. I first bought him when I moved into a flat by myself aged 23. He’s been with me ever since. When I bought my first house, I planted him. When I moved, I took a cutting. The plant remained behind, but Spike still travelled with me. Every time I bought a house, I planted Spike. Every time I’ve moved on, the plant has stayed behind, and Spike has renewed himself in cutting form. I’ve given a cutting to all of my bonus kids so they can have their own Spike. Still, Spike stays with me.
To whit, 24 years after I first brought him home, say hello to Karratha Spike.
Three work days to go. Then it’s the Christmas break. And after that, I’ll be back at work for four weeks before we pack up our tent and trek northward for the conclusion of the 18 Month Plan and the beginning of our two-year sojourn to the Pilbara.
First of all, where the fuck did the last 18 months go?