Packing up your life is hard. The end.

Wanna buy my couch?

Wanna buy my couch?

(I’m going to try and blog again. If one can’t do it in the midst of a major life change like this one… when can one?)

Having spent my twenties, and then the first couple of years of my thirties, too, in a relatively stable relationship, I have built up a lot of stuff. By the end of my twenties, I was buying Nice Things. That ratty couch we picked up off the side of the road? Gone, replaced by a beautiful leather couch that I bought in an actual store, brand new. Last year, I replaced our not-even-that-old TV with a bigger, crisper, shinier one. With a better speaker system.

And on it goes.

Now, suddenly, I’m trying to wrap up my life here. More than a decade of collecting things, and now I need to get rid of most of them. I’m not crying into my furniture and electricals as I give them on to other people or anything, but it’s still a weird feeling: I had my life all sorted out, and now I don’t. Now I’m (sort of) reverting back to the twenty-something mode of ‘Let’s take a working holiday somewhere on the other side of the world!’ and none of this stuff will help.

Even beyond the more philosophical side of it, I hate trying to get rid of my stuff. I sent around a list of things I had to sell at work, and then felt horrible when half a dozen people all desperately wanted my television. More than that, though, there’s having to work out what to do with the things that I don’t easily sell– and I think that will simply come down to ‘sell to a secondhand dealer even though they won’t give me very much because I have a deadline and enough else to stress about right now, thanks very much’.

Then there are the little things. The teapot and teacups I bought while on a family holiday one year; the wine glass and decanter set; my anthropomorphised silver coffee pot and milk jug; my pirate marionette from Prague. Sure, it can all go into boxes and my parents will store them for a few years until I figure out what I’m doing on a more permanent basis, but… will I still care about these things in two years? In five? They’re all just things. But they’re my things. My thoughts go around in circles.

My parents came over on the weekend and helped me pack up a lot of my stuff. There’s only really the kitchen, now, plus my clothes and what’s left in the bathroom. There’s still furniture to be gotten rid of– I’m still trying to sell it– but the bulk of everything is in progress. I’ll be glad when it’s just all done and I’m out of this apartment, as sad as I am to leave this place. Of course, I’ll also be glad when my visa finally comes through (my paperwork is all in Manila– why Manila? I have no idea– at the moment, and I’m waiting, waiting, waiting).

I also had to say goodbye to my parents this weekend. They leave for their next big trip on Thursday, and so I won’t see them again until… sometime. Next year, probably. That’s a very strange feeling for me, as someone who has always lived in the same city as her parents. I can go months without seeing them (or I used to), but this is different. I’m dreading the rest of the goodbyes. On the other hand, I’m glad not to do them at the airport. I have a 6am flight, so I will be staying in an airport hotel the night before, and there will be no one to see me off. It’s for the best; I hate goodbyes.

In three weeks, I will be on a plane. I’ll have already transited through Manila (it seems I have to go there, too – or at least, my flight takes me there), and on my way to London.


Widow to the Cause

For… a long time, now, Rohan and his brother, Leigh, have been working on an iOs game, presently codenamed Township. I can no longer remember how long it’s been, because for me, this has been going on for years. In most ways, it’s a good thing. It’s awesome, for me, to get Rohan home of an evening excited about some new feature he’s added; it’s much more awesome than getting him home tired and grumpy about something far more mundane.

We’re moving towards crunch time, though, and his time has become more and more valuable. It used to be that we spent several evenings a week watching TV together. Now– well, I’m pretty sure we watched something on Friday night (it’s now Tuesday), but I can’t remember what it was, and it was definitely the first evening we’d had together in a couple of days. Rohan’s busy. I’m also busy, filling my evenings with other things if he’s not going to be around to share them with me, but it’s not quite the same. It’s hard.

It’s Tuesday night, and the last time I saw Rohan (conscious – that is, not asleep) was Sunday night. I don’t expect to see him again until he gets home tomorrow, and that will probably be 7pm or so. Or later. That’s an unusually long time for us, but no longer completely unexpected: other things take precedence, sometimes. That doesn’t make it feel any less strange to simply not see the person you live with for so many days.

It’s a hard balance. I love him – I wouldn’t live with him, be with him, share my life with him, If I didn’t – but I’m also super excited about what he’s working on. I can’t wait for Township to be released, so that I can share with everyone how awesome this project is. I am so proud of Rohan and Leigh for this game. But I do miss him. I do miss having evenings together, without them being a rarity. I miss homecooked meals, meals that aren’t for one. I miss talking about things that aren’t game-related.

It’s al worth it, but it’s still hard, sometimes. I’m not used to having so much time on my own, and though I’m good at entertaining myself, it does wear on me at times. I get lonely. I have bad nights. I fall asleep alone, and wake up in the middle of the night still alone; but sometimes I wake up and I can hear Rohan in the next room, or he’s crawled into bed alongside me and I simply haven’t noticed. Sometimes it works.

At the moment, the thing I’m really looking forward to is this game being released. My intention is to steal Rohan away for a week or so – take him away from his computer, and away from our normal lives, and just… be. He can have Internet access, and he can fix bugs and do what he needs to, but I think we’ll both benefit from taking a step back from our computers, and spending time with each other.

It’s a little sad that our big plans for this week involve an evening without laptops, iPads, or iPhones. Just us, and something on the television.

Sad, maybe, but damn: I can’t wait.

Money Planning

I’ve been seeing a financial advisor, of late, mostly because my parents wanted us all to get our estate planning sorted out while they did theirs, but it’s also good timing: they’re going to help me work out whether I can afford to buy a house. Among other things.

It’s interesting. And a little confronting. I’ve had to fill out all these forms determining how much money I spend on different things, and how much I want to be able to spend. From there, there’s also questions of what happens if I’m permanently disabled, or if I die, or if I’m temporarily disabled and there are major medical bills, or, or, or… It goes on and on and on. I don’t think anyone really wants to think about these things, but it’s worthwhile. And interesting, if in a slightly morbid way.

Talking about what happens if I die is especially strange. My first instinct is ‘well, I’ll be dead, why should I care?’, but it’s more complicated than that: people I care about are involved, and it would impact them a lot. For me, the biggest issue is, I think, that my death doesn’t cause financial hardship to anyone I care about. Beyond that… well.

Numbers scare me a little. I try and keep track of what I spend, but things always add up in ways I haven’t quite anticipated. I spent more than I ought to… but I like to think I’m getting better about it. I definitely don’t live beyond my means, though, and that’s comforting: I can do better, but I’m not in a hole. I’m not good with strict budgets that say I can spend x amount on y thing; I feel limited by them. Instead, I’m trying to focus on bigger picture: save x amount, put less than y amount on the credit card each month. Pay off the balance. If I end up buying a house, I know it’ll be a lot more important to absolutely stuck to this kind of thing, though, so I’m trying to get into the habit of sticking with it now.

Not that I want to end up having to change my entire lifestyle in order to buy a house – I want to buy, but I don’t want to do it if it means giving up my lifestyle. That’s a big part of why I’ve been having to try and work out all the expenses, so that the financial advisor and I can model it.

It would all become much, much easier if I’d just win the lottery or something, though.

Which… would take entering the lottery.

Which isn’t going to happen.


End of an Era

I can’t be absolutely certain when I first got my own desk at home, but I’m pretty sure it was soon after we moved to the US, when I was six. Mum wasn’t allowed to work in the US, of course, so she started picking up projects to keep herself busy, and one of these projects was finishing furniture. I got to pick out the stain colour, and she’d sand the raw wood and do all the staining – and thus, I ended up with a lot of matching furniture. My desk was one of these pieces, and then there were two bookcases and a dresser. The bookcases I had up until a few years ago; I’d probably still have them now except that they were both short, and thus kind of wasted space.

The desk, though – I remember that I had it positioned under a window in that first room in that first house, and that sometimes when I couldn’t sleep I’d sit there and look out into the neighbour’s driveway. I watched them have an arugment there one night; I think they saw me, though, and I freaked out and ran away.

For a while, I had my dad’s old yellow typewriter sitting on there. I really liked the solidity of typing on a typewriter (though we had an actual computer by then, and I was learning to type on it, too). Unfortunately, that typewriter really was old, and had a tendancy to jam up. My brother and I tried to take it apart and ‘fix’ it, and funnily enough, it never worked again.

Over the years, I spent hours at that desk, both for homework purposes and for all the projects I worked on: writing, sometimes drawing, sometimes other things. As a teenager, I inherited an old 486 computer, and it went on my desk; later, after I bought my own laptop, that replaced it. The desk went with me when I moved out the first time, and then came back when I did.

And then I started staying at Rohan’s all the time. There was an in-built vanity type space in his room that I set my laptop up at, but it wasn’t really a desk, and that was always one of my frustrations: I had no space of my own, not really. I moved in officially after some of the housemates moved out, though, and we moved rooms – and I inherited Rohan’s old desk. When I finally cleared out my old room at Mum and Dad’s, that desk of mine was put aside.

I’ve since replaced Rohan’s old desk with a new one (a lovely wooden one, with a leather insert on the top), and it’s seen me through several years. But lately… Well. I’ve stopped using it, except to store things on. The iMac that sits on top of it rarely gets touched, and I simply don’t sit in the desk chair, or use it as anything except something to drape jackets over.

These days, I tend to curl up on the couch with my laptop, or sit at the dining table. My iMac has a much bigger screen, but I find I’m not missing it. I can’t really play games on my laptop, but… I find I haven’t been.

Thus, I spent part of yesterday cleaning out my desk. It’s not finished, yet – all those drawers were full of things and while a lot of it can be thrown out, some of it needs new homes. I hate trying to find homes for things: I hate all the clutter. I hope that if I no longer have the desk, I’ll be able to avoid the clutter; we’ll see how that goes. I will probably end up selling my iMac to Rohan’s company, or otherwise getting rid of it.

Once it’s all done, Rohan may end up using the desk, or perhaps we’ll end up getting rid of it. Either way, it seems likely that the office will no longer be ‘our’ office, but Rohan’s (which is fair, since he spends the most time in it, and actually needs office space at home). When we move, we’ll probably use the larger bedroom as an actual bedroom, and the smaller as the office, the opposite of what we have now.

And for the first time since I was six or seven, I won’t really have a desk at all (except, of course, at work). It’s a really strange thought: the end of an era. But these days, when I’m no longer studying (and not intending to start again), and when I’m using a laptop that can so easily be moved room to room… it doesn’t really seem necessary. If we lived in a house where space was bountiful, I’d probably keep it, even relatively unused. But we live in an apartment, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. That doesn’t mean I don’t still wish, desperately, for a beautiful, antique roll-top desk. One day.

It’s all completely logical, but I admit, it still feels very strange.

Turbulence on Reentry

We’ve been home now for two weeks, and it’s been… hard.

Getting back into the swing of the real world after spending so long in pretendy-world land is always difficult, but I think I’ve had some added complications which have only made things more difficult. Part of that is because of work, which has been stressful in an abstract, emotional way rather than an overwork kind of way. I don’t deal well with uncertainty, and since getting back I’ve had a lot of that to deal with. Politics, man; they’re only fun when there’s a disconnect between you and them.

Another part of it is my increasing frustration with where we live. We’ve been in the same apartment for four years, now; in another six weeks we’ll sign the lease for a fifth. Half of our relationship (holy shit, I guess we really are coming up towards eight years) has been spent in this place, and that’s not inconsiderable.

It’s a nice apartment. It’s big, and it has a spectacular view out over the city. But the kitchen is tiny and the oven is awful, and I am increasingly tired of having to ask permission to hang pictures on the walls, deal with six monthly inspections where we get told off for not dusting the cistern of the toilet, and – well, the list goes on.

I think we’re increasingly in that point in our lives where we want to start, bit by bit, putting together rooms that are exactly the way we want them, with exactly the right furniture and decor and arrangement. We could start doing that, in some ways, but it’s hard to plan a room if you don’t know whether you’ll be using the same room in twelve months time. We can’t hang our own curtains, or put up different blinds, or replace the oven.

I’ve wanted to buy a place for a while now, and I think Rohan is finally on the same page as me. Obviously, we’re not going to be able to run out and redecorate and buy new furniture instantly, if we manage to buy, but it’d be a long-term project with achievable goals. I suspect both pairs of itchy feet would be soothed.

Of course, it’s not quite that easy. The property market in Sydney is well overpriced, and the area we want to live in is not exactly on the cheap end of that. I earn good money, and Rohan is well-paid for what he does despite averaging a lot less billable hours, but neither of us really wants to spend half our net income on a mortgage. The real trick, then, is to manage to do this without having to lose too much of our lifestyle in the process. It’s a tricky balance, but I think we can do it.

A lot of the really nice places in this area are out of our price range – but there’s a lot that I think is potentially doable. Whatever we end up with won’t be a forever-house, but it’ll be stable. It’ll most likely be a two bedroom unit, probably in the Gore Hill/Greenwich area which is just slightly cheaper than Wollstonecraft/Crows Nest. It will have an internal laundry (that’s non-negotiable in our book), and gas (it would take a lot for us to give up on that). And for the rest… we’ll see.

So that’s what the next twelve months will be focused on. In August next year, we’ll take a really close look at our finances and see if it really is feasible (unless prices go up excessively between now and then, I’m pretty sure the answer will be yes), and then… well. Take the plunge, I guess.

I feel better, resigning our lease, feeling (relatively) confident that it will be our last one. And in the meantime – every time I reach for my credit card to buy that new pair of shoes, or that cute dress, or whatever it is, I’ll hopefully be able to give it a bit more thought. Do I really need it? Is that money better off sitting in my savings account until it can be used as a deposit? Hopefully, having more concrete plans will make that easier to stick to. It’s not that I can’t spend money on more frivolous things; I just need to think seriously about it first.

Because a place that is ours, with all the attendant headaches, will definitely be worth it.

In the meantime, I will stare at real estate advertisements, and, in particular, at floorplans. What is it about floorplans that are so much fun? They make me happy.