Tag Archive: self


For all my fellow writers

At what point do you not get to call yourself a writer anymore?

You know the story: maintaining a household, full time job plus commute, family stuff (I’m going to be an auntie!), plus health issues. I don’t have children, at least two legged ones. it’s not as if I don’t have time, or opportunity. I have both, and I know that I’m privileged to have them.

I haven’t written anything major for months, as you no doubt have noticed. I have tons of excuses. I read writing blogs and feel bad. I read fellow writers and feel bad. I’m in awe of how words just flow from them, even though I know a hell of a lot of work and practice has gone into that. I have a box full of business cards in my study that all say ‘freelance editor and writer’. And I’m not sure I can call myself a writer anymore.

I still love words. Always have, always will. I want to write, more than anything. I still have stories in my head sporadically, but not as often as I used to in my teenage glory days. The daily trudgery has overtaken me, and I spend most of my time playing games on my phone whilst commuting. There’s just no fire in me anymore when it comes to writing; just the despair of a blank page and blinking cursor. I can’t go into the world of my mind as easily or as often as I used to. My imagination and drive just isn’t there.

I still want to be an editor, and love looking at others’ manuscripts. I will volunteer again come NaNoWriMo. But at the same time, I feel a little heartbroken, because that should be me.

There’s no easy way out. The only solution is glue my arse to a chair and slowly, painfully, crank something out. But I have other stuff. Life stuff.

Chris is still working, still creating. He’s struggled, as I have, but he’s got the talent, the drive, the creativity. He’s never stopped. He’s never given up. I really admire the way he can tell a story through simple pencil strokes, the subtlety of light and shade, just little things. Even though we use vastly different techniques of story telling, it’s hard not to compare. He’s so ambitious and determined, both things that I’m not.

Can I still call myself a writer? Is there any way I can get back on the horse? Or should I just accept that this part of me is forever gone? 

New and old

In new news, I now have my very first smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S3 4G, which is super lovely.  Hopedully I will be blogging more on the run. I’m sorry for my neglect. Oh, and I also have pink and blue bangs. They’re awesome.  The DIY queen strikes again.

On the old side, this blog is now two years old. Time flies when you’re not writing anything. I haven’t forgotten you, I promise. I’ll speak to you soon.

2013 – The Year of Living

Some of you may remember my post at the beginning of last year detailing my hopes and dreams for 2012. And you may have observed that throughout the year, none of them came to pass.

So, in 2013, I’m going  a bit simpler. 2013 will be my year of living. Not living more responsibly, not living stronger, not living harder. Just living.

2012 was filled with challenges and disappointments. One of the most significant moments of my life, my marriage, was surrounded by the rest of my life falling down around my ears. I lost my job and found myself mostly alone in my house. My health dropped dramatically, I had to drain my savings account and max out my credit card trying to keep us afloat. We only worked sporadically, and there was the stress of the wedding itself. It has been a very trying and lonely time and I am immensely grateful for all you guys, who have helped me through. I must admit, I related a hell of a lot to this comic during the past few months.

So, in 2013, I am determined to live properly. I am currently temping and the job market is improving. I have streamlined my daily life. I have emptied my wardrobe of things I no longer wear. I realised how many clothes I truly have – it’s outstanding. I guess now that I found a shop with clothes that fit me correctly, I went a little bonkers. I’ve also put a ban on myself buying Lush products – I have far too many half-full containers. I also have too much nail polish.

I’ve started to wear make-up – it makes me feel better at work (fluorescent lights can be harsh!) and I like experimenting with it. I’m learning slowly to cook and meal plan. I’m learning the value of stackable storage containers. I’m trying to interact with my internet buddies much more than usual, instead of staying silent. I’m learning to pluck up the courage to talk to strangers at parties. I’m saving for my honeymoon.

The goal is to stop worrying, stop consuming mindlessly and to stop being quite so slothful. I want to enjoy life, not be shy or ashamed of myself, and stop living in shambolic, student-y chaos. And, my ultimate goal this year is very easy: I’m going to write a book. I say that every year, but this time I mean it. I’m going to do it.

But, I can’t do all these things by myself. All your love, support and friendship means the world to me, even though I may be poor at expressing it. I can do this. We can do this. It’ll be awesome.

<3

This week, unfortunately I and my family had to put our dog Max to sleep. We’ve had him for over twelve years and he was a huge part of our family. We’re big animal people, and Max was our first dog in a long line of cats.

We picked him out at the pound, a pretty adult cattle dog who was quiet and looked at my mum with big brown eyes and a tilted head. I babysat him in the car while my parents went to buy him supplies, and he looked at me, shuffled over, and lay his head in my lap. It was only when we got him home and got him to a vet that we discovered that he was actually a three month old puppy, and half Labrador, who would grow to twice his original size – a small pony, I always called him. As he settled in, he fancied himself a guard dog, and would loudly and sharply bark at anything to darken our door, even just a plastic bag, and continued to do so for the next twelve years.

He was a pain in some ways. When he was young he would steal and chew things up. He, like all Labradors, would climb over you for even a sniff of food. We had to install a baby gate between the lounge and kitchen because he would eat the cats’ food. He would bark loudly at anything and everything. He only obeyed commands when he wanted to. He would sneak up onto the couch after we’d all gone to bed.

But, for all his faults, Max was a beautiful dog and wonderful companion. When he was a year old, my parents bought me a kitten. Smuff was so small that I could hold him in one hand, and I had no idea how this behemoth would take to him. Max became his second mother – he carried him, washed him, supervised him, playfought with him, and taught him how to hunt. Max would do this again for another kitten six years down the line. He was incredibly intelligent, and knew when any of us were sad or hurting. He would protect us from anything, sounded the alarm when our car was stolen, and was a gentle giant. He was liberal with his kisses and loved a good tummy rub, even up to the very end. He and I shared a bond, and he got older and mellowed, and would happily walk by my heel, play fetch in the park, and did everything I asked him to. Even recently, I was lying on the floor in my mother’s lounge room trying in frustration to hook her new PVR up. It wouldn’t work and I was getting upset. Max leaned over and gently licked my head. And then it started working.

Recently he started to slow down. He had arthritis in his legs, front and back, and we thought this was normal. He loved walks – his spirit was willing but his flesh was weak. He couldn’t make it five minutes down the road without having to stop, panting heavily. We didn’t realise this was the first sign of a bigger problem.

A couple of weeks ago, he went outside in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and didn’t come back in for three hours. My mother found him lying in the backyard, his back legs paralysed. The vet said that he’d most likely suffered disc damage in his back and it could heal with time and care. He went on a crash diet and required pretty much 24-hour care – we had to support him with a towel sling under his back legs. I stayed and helped for a few days, and then headed home.

My mother called a few days later and asked if I could come in again. It was worse this time – he had lost his front legs. I thought they were weak from the pressure that was placed on them when he moved but it was more than that. It was obvious he was in terrible pain despite medication and he wasn’t getting better. We spoke to the vet, and they agreed that another disc had been damaged in his back, and this was not going to heal. After a short discussion, we all agreed that it was time.

Mum and I were with him. I knelt on the floor, patting him, holding his head, talking to him. The vet gave us some treats, and being that he hadn’t had proper food for over a week, he wolfed them down. Max was so eager he accidentally nipped my fingers when I didn’t let go fast enough. It was calm, peaceful, and he went to sleep with me holding him and a tummy full of treats. The vet staff were saddened too – while he was there they noticed how friendly and laidback he was, there were kisses ahoy, and lots of requests for tummy rubs. We chose to have him cremated, and his ashes are in a pet garden at the crematorium.

Even though we’d accepted the fact that he was getting older, and that this day would come, none of us expected it to come so soon. This is the first time that I’ve really lost someone close to me, dog or not, and I’ve been blindsided. I’m not sleeping properly, I’m not eating properly. I had to start university preparation work this week and I thought it would distract me, but I can’t concentrate. Even last night I had to stay up till 3am playing Minecraft because it was the only thing that could calm me. A digital equivalent of a zen garden.

I have a broken heart and I don’t know how to put it back together. So I’m calling on you, my friends, and especially fellow animal lovers, for advice. It may sound silly, all this wailing over a dog, but he was my dog. More than a dog. A friend, a buddy. And I’ll miss him terribly, always.

So, yesterday, I had a thought: music seems to have a profound effect on my mental health. I’m not a medical professional, mind; this is all my anecdotal evidence. But when I stopped singing, is when my mental state was at its worst. Let me explain.

A few years ago, I was sharing a flat with someone overseas. I was almost alone, scared, ignorant, poor, and spent the whole time in a state of limbo. I developed quite bad anxiety and became very insular, which is still affecting me today. And I think a fair bit of it had to do with the fact that I was not allowed to sing.

I’m one of those people who would sing all the time. I sang in the shower, sang whilst cooking, washing up, anything. I surrounded myself with music because it helped ease the boredom and loneliness, and helped me get through things I hated, like cleaning. But then my flatmate told me to stop, because it was annoying. So I did. I stopped singing and playing my music aloud.

I had no way to express myself. Music reaches you on a level that’s hard to describe or quantify. It’s so intangible, but yet it hits you deep, in a way that’s almost primal. Even though I had my headphones, it wasn’t the same. It’s also the second biggest trigger of memory, after smell. If you’re a music fan, you don’t realise how important it is to you, how much a part of you it becomes and how much you want to belt it out. Although I’m a writer, my thoughts became too jumbled to sort out through words. Sometimes music is the only way for me to work through my feelings.

Music therapy, as I understand it, is becoming a major technique, especially in the elderly due to its power to unlock memory. I witnessed this first hand when I briefly worked in a high-care facility for the elderly. There’s also this beautiful video, of an old man literally coming to life after listening to the songs he loved when he was young. The power of music is not to be underestimated, I think.

Think about your adolescence. What got you through it? Whether it was sitting in your room listening for hours, or sharing a sneaky Discman with friends during class, or making a mix tape for the bus ride to school (yep, I’m old enough to have done that), or going to your first concerts without your parents with friends or your boy/girlfriend.

I’m slowly starting to learn to sing again. Thankfully I now live with someone who feels the same way I do, and sings loud and sings often and is encouraging me to start again. But what used to feel like a second habit now feels strange and forced. I stand in the shower and forget the lyrics to songs I may have listened to a couple of days before. My ability to remember things these days is pretty shocking. My voice is way out of practice, what little I had. Instead of being quiet for all this time, I have to learn to be unabashedly noisy again, and that’s hard.

Yeah, I’m one of those annoying people at concerts who sing along. But singing along, or aloud, makes the song that much more powerful – you have to learn it inside out, connect with it, and then let it out. Going to concerts of my favourite bands, and joining my voice with the singer, is the closest thing I’ll ever have to a religious experience. I reach a state of euphoria that is totally unique. When I sang, it made me happy. It was my own little performance, my own bit of creativity I could do anywhere, anytime, by myself. I didn’t give a shit how I sounded, what people thought of my voice or the song I was singing. I felt free. I felt connected. Some music triggers certain emotions in me, whether it’s by sound or memory, and by singing along, I feel entrenched in that experience. And I miss it.

So, I’m starting again. I’m discovering new singers who convey so much with their voices, and I can’t wait to learn the words so I can do it along with them. I may not sound like Florence and the Machine (who does?) but I want to ride along with her on her odd journeys through loneliness, revenge and the water.

Will it change my mental well-being for the better, in accordance with my theory? I’m not sure yet. But in a couple of months I’ll definitely let you know.

Where to from here?

The above is a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. It seems as if I’m at the beginning of several new journeys and, as usual, I don’t know where to go or even where to start. This isn’t unusual, but I’m at the point of my life where it’s getting harder and harder to start again.

In less than ten weeks, I will be married. This is starting to get scary, but not in a logistical, party-planning way. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the wedding hype and trials and tribulations and expectations of being a bride, but no one, including myself, has ever stopped and talked to me about what it means to be  a wife.

I’ve always wanted to be married – to spend my life with a companion in a relationship filled with love, joy, support and new experiences. But being a wife is a new level of responsibility, and I’m not quite sure what the job actually entails yet. I mean, we’ve been together for five years, conducted a relationship from two countries, and live together, so it won’t be that different, right? It all feels a bit odd. This is me finally being dragged, kicking and screaming (of my own volition, mind) into adulthood. Or we could still be the two massive kids we are, giggling on the couch whilst watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, albeit with the same name and a bit of extra bling. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I finished up with my job on Friday. I’m taking some time off to assess my options. I have been for five job interviews and have not received a single offer. This has NEVER happened to me before. It’s a tough market out there. And I don’t know where to go. I seem to be stuck at a weird skill level – too high for entry-level but too low for managerial. I’ve decided to just do some temporary work to see what my options are. There are no jobs that have really engaged me, and I’m tired of playing the corporate game sometimes. An idea popped into my head recently – establishing myself as a freelance copy writer/editor, and setting up my own business. This strikes me as both an excellent and terrible idea of the highest order. I could do this part time, after work, and it’s what I enjoy doing and am good at (more editing than the writing). And down the line when I start a family it’s something I could do at home. But I know nothing about running my own business, and I’ve done very little professional copy writing. I have no idea what the hell I’m doing!

My writing has been slow, and unfortunately my free time this week has been impinged upon by food poisoning. I am hoping to schedule in a morning routine that will put in some dedicated writing time, and maybe I’ll be able to surgically remove that zombie story I threatened to do for NaNoWriMo.

 I’m also hoping to get some more walking in as the temperatures drop – nothing I love more than going out in an icy winter dawn. I bought some peacock feathers to make a fascinator for my wedding, and I bought some fun temporary hair colour. It’s been constant upheaval this year but, really, it’s all okay (apart from the food poisoning). I’m not starving, I still have my two boys, and I’m lucky that I have time to take a break and consider my choices. The uncertainty is sometimes hard to cope with, but I’m one of those people who thrives on spontaneity and change. Or at least I used to be.

Well, everything will be easier once I get this damned wedding out of the way.

The Problem of Stagnation

Well, folks, there’s just no other way to put this.

I have badly, badly, stagnated.

Why? Well, I think the main culprit is the fact that I haven’t been very busy with my work since the beginning of the year. And seeing as I found out I was being laid off just before Christmas, it’s easy to say that my engagement and motivation with my job isn’t at an all-time high.

My ability to write has seriously atrophied. And not just creating prose – I’m making grammatical errors, spelling errors even. ‘Use it or lose it’ has never held that much meaning for me until now. I’m watching the drive and the capacity to string a sentence or three together slipping through my fingers and, to be honest, I’m quite scared. All because I haven’t had much to do at work.

‘All this time on your hands!’ I hear you say. ‘Getting paid to do nothing? I would love that!’
Would you, really? Clock-watching has now become a competitive sport. There’re only so many times you can refresh the news website, if you can get it to load in the first place. I also have three competitive priorities outside work and writing – my upcoming wedding (12 weeks, are you kidding me), finding a new job (3 weeks left, 1 pay cycle left), and the fact that my boyfriend and I have just moved into our first flat and all the problems inherent with that (sharing chores, Ikea runs, fights with the useless real estate, mould infestations, no internet, cat to the head at 3am). It frustrates me that I have all this time, time I could devote to job hunting, wedding crafting, writing even, and I can’t. By the time I get home, I’m tired, cranky, and frustrated and want to do none of the above. And the times I do have work to do, it comes out completely terrible. Even an event invitation is a two-day massive think, and it’s crap when it comes out. Boredom can be completely exhausting. The internet at work is spotty, as is the one at home (I’m getting my cable internet installed next weekend, hence the massive delay after we moved six weeks ago. We’re on a mobile dongle for now).

I know, woe is absolutely me. So, I’m trying. I’m going to try really hard to break these chains. We’ve moved to the suburbs, which is what I really wanted, but I didn’t realise I would miss so much about city life. I thought I was completely over it.
I’m no longer within stumbling distance of my beloved Jurassic Lounge, or Kino Sydney, nor any festivities like Art Month or the upcoming Biennale. Any excursions now have to be properly planned to accommodate an hour’s travelling time each way, which has made me reticent to go out (plus the money). Although my part of the city has a very strong arts scene, it really can’t compare to all that happens in the main CBD. But on the upside, I no longer have to worry about syringes, high people running around at 2am with a sword and ten police trying to talk them down, and the constant smell of urine. I also have grass in my yard, no stairs in my flat, have access to a phalanx of exquisite Indian restaurants and wake to the clippity-clop of horses being taken out for training runs. The suburbs aren’t all bad.

I’m still trying to get back on my feet. Thankfully the process of making my wedding flowers is quite relaxing, and things are coming together (my wedding dress is being altered and looks absolutely smashing). I have a few threads I can use for jobs if I get really stuck (plus I admit I could use a week’s break). The house is sorting itself out, and looking after ourselves has been a hell of a learning curve.

How can I put myself on a mental bootcamp? Shake up my brain and get it working again? How can I get excited about life again, instead of just coming home from work and flopping on the couch until bedtime? I’d be interested to hear your suggestions.

New Year, New Aims

So, it’s 2012. New Year’s Eve was spent in a beautiful lazy blur, with my friends, food and video games. We stood barefooted on the street, in the perfect weather, watching scores of illegal firework displays around us, including two at opposite ends of our street. It was a lovely, fun, understated start to the year which brought back nice memories of my suburban upbringing. I’m hoping that it sets the tone for the rest of the year, because otherwise it’s been a bit crap so far.

I’m still reeling from being told that my company is going under, and I’ll be out of a job come March. Chris has completed his six-month contract with the dancing ice chickens. It’s also less than six months to the wedding and I need to finish my myriad projects. The timing couldn’t be worse. I booked a holiday the day before I found out, which was expensive and sometimes not quite enjoyable. We’re getting married, neither of us have jobs and nowhere to live. I admit I’m being less than calm.

I’m trying to make it through slowly, one step at a time. I’m edging closer to completion for my wedding projects, and my friends and family are really coming through – a friend offered me the use of her father’s vintage Jaguars! My boss has encouraged me to keep searching for flats, which is actually sound advice. And if I’m successful, it will boost my morale no end. I’ve applied for a few jobs and will continue to apply, and work has been very supportive. It’s tough but I think, with a few strokes of luck, I’ll make it.

To cope, I’ve been buying or downloading books. Since Christmas, I guess I’ve bought/downloaded/received about 20 books, and I’ve read about 5. Most were great, one was crap, but that’s the way it goes. I’m reading fiction again too, which is exciting (and I might talk about further anon).

I’m determined to make massive changes, in addition to all the changes happening already. This year, I will become a completely new person – literally. I will leave my family and create a new family of my own. I will change my name. I will be catapulted headlong in the world of adulthood, kicking and screaming. I have had other brushes like this – leaving home for the first time, living overseas and the like – but this will be different. I can’t come home again. But I’m not scared. I’m well and truly ready. There will be no more fights over the washing up, no looking after cats that aren’t mine with dodgy digestive systems, no more people to tell me to stop singing, and I can hang MY artwork on the walls instead of a bland piece that matches the couch. (Ah, mums.) I’ll also be learning how to cook (and eat) properly. There might even be hints of *gasp* exercise. And, the biggie: I’ll be with my husband. For someone who never even considered the possibility of marriage, that’s pretty impressive. I’ve always wanted to meet someone, but from an early age I was convinced I wouldn’t. But here I am.

So, I’ve had a rough start to the year. But I can’t wait to see how it ends.

Dear Me

Today, I’m going to recycle an old post of mine that I wrote in July 2010. I’d just read a book called Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen Year Old Self, a collection of letters written by celebrities for charity. They are incredibly personal, sometimes hilarious, sometimes deeply moving. You may see that a post inspired by the book was Freshly Pressed today, which is awesome. I don’t normally recycle posts but I love this project, and it’s amazing how powerful hindsight can be. So I thought I’d share my own letter with you.

This is me at 16. The arm belongs to my high school best friend, who was very kind to me. I don’t look very different, but my hair was much longer and I didn’t have glasses yet. You can’t see my plaits. I’d like to say that my fashion sense has improved, but probably not. I don’t own the loudshirt any more, though.

Dear, darling you,

So, you are, or I am, now 24 and a bit. Almost 25, which is unimaginable. I was hesitating about writing this as it’s only been eight years, but I still think there are a lot of things you really, really need to know.

1. You are full of love, you deserve love, and you deserve to live. Things are incredibly dark, and unfortunately will get worse before they get better. But you are strong, much stronger than you know. You will be okay.
2. I’ll get the bad news out of the way: you’re still fat. But it’s okay. You’re relatively fit and incredibly healthy and still the loved person you are. You’re even… sexy. Don’t think that your life will begin only when you’re skinny. Live it now.
3. Don’t talk to that fucking loser. Cut all contact with him. Don’t waste two years of your life, your energy, your love, your tears. It will never happen. You will never meet. And you know what? You won’t give a shit because what happens afterwards will be so much better.
4. Be nice to that girl called Silver. She will change your life.
5. School doesn’t matter. Your HSC will be crap but it won’t matter because you are incredibly capable and smart. Failing it doesn’t mean you’re stupid. Trust me, there are extenuating circumstances. And don’t take maths, take business admin. It’ll help.
6. Get rid of that so-called best friend. She is a sociopath who only puts you down to make herself feel better. Bitch is crazy. Your blonde twin is awesome, though. Talk to her more.
7. You will get out of that town. You’ll live in the city. It’s so much fun.
8. Mum and Dad will split up, but don’t worry. They’re both happier.
9. You will get to England. It will only be for a while, and it will be incredibly difficult but it will be worth it. London is so, so, so much better than you remember. Cardiff is home. And don’t take the cats.
10. Here is the really important one, and it might come as a bit of a shock: you will fall in love. You will find the one in a couple of years. You’ll know as soon as you meet him. You’re going to buy a house and get married. He is perfect. You are blissfully happy. And, before you ask: yes, sex is as fun as everyone makes it out to be.
11. In a year or so, you’ll need glasses. Don’t worry, they suit you. Just get chunkier frames. It’s amazing how everyone takes you more seriously.
12. Learn to say no. To your friends, to the people in school who try to copy you, and most importantly, to your family. Saying yes all the time isn’t going to make people like you more, and you’ll just get screwed over in the end.
13. Don’t stop writing. And painting and creating. Buy a camera: you have a good eye. Remember, you are an artist and don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.
14. Take risks. One day you’ll throw in your series of safe but soul-destroying office jobs to go back to school and retrain for the arts industry. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. Try not to worry about money, you’ll be fine.
15. Music will become your big love. Look for the sexy redhead, he’ll show you the way. One day you’ll have a guitar – don’t be afraid, just play it. And for god’s sake, find those CDs by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and play them – it’ll save a lot of time.

You will be loved. You will be safe. You will be happy. I know you don’t ask for much, and things will work themselves out in the end. You deserve it. You really, really do.

Good luck. I love you.

PS Adulthood is overrated.

Coming out of the bridal closet

So, yeah. Inkendup and I are getting married next year.

I was reluctant to start blogging about my wedding and everything thereof, because I don’t want this to become just another wedding blog, and since my wedding does not have mason jars, burlap sacks, birdcage veils, a Pinterest account, or any problematic racist or classist themes, it’s not very interesting to those who read wedding blogs. Don’t get me wrong, there are some wedding blogs I love (Offbeat Bride has saved my sanity a billion times) but it’s not as interesting as what people seem to like these days.

I don’t classify myself as a ‘bride’, whatever that may be. Not much about my wedding is traditional. I don’t even really want a wedding, to be brutally honest. Don’t misunderstand me – I desperately want to get married. I love Chris infinitely and I can’t wait to be his wife. But as someone who is shy, not conventionally attractive and who comes from a fractured family, a large wedding doesn’t appeal. But I love Chris’ family, and they are important to him, and me, as well as our friends and what’s left of my family. So, I can deal with a wedding now. We have a fantastic venue with a lovely menu and lots of perks, a beautiful park to get married in, and a sweet, smart and funny as hell celebrant. But eloping still really, really appeals to me.

But, as this stage, with eight months ago, my wedding is taking over my life. It is easily the largest and most creative project I’ve ever undertaken. And after some initial uncertainty and adjusting of plans, it’s nowhere near as nightmarish as I’d feared. So to blog about it makes sense. I’m doing a lot of things myself, and I feel this weird urge to document the process. My wedding is not traditional, as I said, which seems to be becoming the new traditional. But, it’s weird – it seems that the more mainstream offbeat weddings are becoming, the more rigidly people try to get you to adhere to the traditional ideas. It’s decidedly odd.

Our families are amazingly open and accepting about us throwing the rule book out and doing whatever we want. Chris and I have talked about what’s important to us, and have both come to easy compromises about some things. He suggested the venue I went with. At this stage, the planning has mostly fallen to me, but it’s slowly balancing out. It’s funny – the only person who feels like I need to adhere to the traditional ideas is one of my siblings. She immediately asked me how much weight I wanted to lose when we announced our engagement – I’m plus sized and have been my whole life. She wanted me to wear white. As I am very pale skinned with very dark hair, white looks terrible on me (same goes for off-white and ivory). I’m wearing blue, which is my favourite colour and which my mother also wore on her wedding day (my mum had a very low-budget, offbeat wedding in the 70s, the photos are sublime). I did go to a traditional shop to try dresses on to get an idea of shape, etc and I liked them but none of them were me. I have a smallish bust and large arms so strapless is out. I had my dress custom made by a seamstress in America, and barring a few minor alterations, it fits perfectly and the construction is impeccable. It was also almost $2000 less than a similar design I tried on in the shop and came in the exact colour I wanted. I don’t have a ‘theme’, or ‘colours’.

I also wear glasses, have done for years, and they’re a vital part of my face. I do wear contacts occasionally, but everyone knows me in glasses. I’m just going to pick some out to match my dress. Apparently glasses are just not bridal? Whatever.

My flowers are silk (much as I love real ones, they are too expensive, too delicate and frankly just a massive waste), apart from the paper ones I’m making myself. I was going to make my own invitations, until I discovered the ease and cheapness of Vistaprint. My shoes are ones I already owned, and just happened to be the same colour as my dress and extremely comfy.

There are a fair bit of traditional and WIC (Wedding Industry Complex – what you MUST do) aspects to my wedding – the venue is very normal for a wedding, normal food, traditional table layouts, etc etc. Sure, I would love to have my wedding in a museum with outrageous cocktails and an assortment of cupcakes. But, you know what? That shit’s expensive. And difficult to organise. My venue is a package that comes with tons of inclusions, for a low-ish price. And I just don’t really care that much. I do want us and our guests to have a great time, and it would be great to dance under the Jobaria skeleton but my venue was cheap, I don’t have to worry about a thing, and it’s not a deal-breaker.

I find it weird that so much emphasis is placed on the wedding and not the commitment. It’s all about having the party that other people want you to have. There are tons more expectations placed on you as a bride than a wife. I went to a bridal fair and I was appalled at stalls advertising bridal boot camp and even bridal body sculpting! There is a feeling of competition and one upmanship. It’s funny, even I succumbed to this – feeling like my wedding wasn’t unique enough! At the end of the day, it’s just a party, and your fiancé(e) fell in love with you for who you were, not some fantasy image you’re supposed to obtain for one day. People love telling you what you MUST do for your wedding but don’t really care about the marriage so much, until you finally pop out a baby, and then all the parenting stories come out. But that’s another rant for another day.

Anyway. I’m finding this all an extremely surreal experience. It’s spurred me to be a bit more decisive, given me a crash course in event planning, and it’s made me more creative. For every downside, there’s a plus. And I’m definitely wondering how the end product will turn out.

But, I’ll tell you what – I’m never doing it again! And here’s hoping I’ll never have to.

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