Hose Me Down

October 8, 2010 at 4:22 am (Uncategorized)

Okay, so the shit-storm seems to have passed. I can’t believe how consuming it became, but basically a disturbed person who has been ‘virtually’ stalking a member of the Varuna Alumni decided to start emailing me. All part of the inexplicable smear campaign, because it’s anyone’s guess why this US-based individual (and I can’t stop imagining his HQ as one of those serial killer dungeons) would have our member in his sights. The past few days comprise a surprisingly long story, but his brand of hate mail evidently involves fabricating, spreading and then falsely attributing deeply offensive anti-semitic ‘chat room’ comments to this particular Alumna. What possesses someone to do such a malicious, vile thing I’ll never know, but his repeated attempts to draw me into the web of lies proved unexpectedly draining in addition to deeply unsettling. I think we’ve ended it now, but it’s a sobering reminder that this is what ‘going public’ can mean in the online world. It’s not all cake and candy out there. There are some card-carrying crackers in the mix too.

So. The Babymoon. Our ‘staycation’ actually involved a bit of movement in the end. We didn’t venture very far, but simply relocated to Llew’s parents’ place, because they very thoughtfully elected to go overseas over the exact same period. Palm Beach, here we come! This was a great solution for a budget-conscious break, because it felt like going away (Palm Beach is a solid hour from downtown Sydney) without the usual cash pit of paying for holiday accommodation the whole time. Palm Beach is also one of the most beautiful natural environments there is, so decamping there for a fortnight was something we were more than glad to do.

But it wasn’t a particularly restful break, as evinced by the paltry amount of reading I was able to do. There are several reasons for this, one being a big freelance commission that landed in my lap slap-bang in the middle of it. The piece required lots of running around – a million phone calls, lots of trawling for information – and at 3,000 words, it was definitely on the long side of the job spectrum. Goodbye, holiday feeling. Llew also had to field several teleconferences, so it’s fair to say that staying in Sydney – the most northern tip of the boundary, to be sure, but Sydney nonetheless – meant never really feeling like we’d escaped it all. Because frankly we hadn’t: Sydney crowded in on several occasions, and we even had a 40th birthday party to attend downtown right at the halfway mark. We’ve never had a staycation before, and I’m not sure – if finances allow the alternative – we’d elect to do it again, because that physical remove undoubtedly helps secure the psychological one too. Being in Sydney kept us both mentally manacled to all our usual Sydney concerns. Also we usually go somewhere new, which adds an important, irreplaceable dimension to our usual holidays that wasn’t met by going somewhere as familiar and everyday as Llew’s parents’ place. NICE problem to have, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just saying it wasn’t the exciting getaway of, say, Shanghai this time last year. But beggars can’t be choosers, and besides which, we were the most comfortable bums in the most well-appointed shelter ever. No tears here.

The other reason I only managed to buy books instead of read them is that Llewie. Gets. Ants. In. His. Pants. As I said to my friend T, it’s like he parks his arse atop an infested hill. The whole point of the Babymoon was to spend some time together before the outbreak of total mayhem come late December, but Llew is incapable of spending a day happily reading. He maxes out after an hour or so, two hours tops, and then he starts squirming. And it’s not the type of writhing and wriggling one can easily ignore. Also, sending him off to amuse himself – which I did on countless occasions as it was – defeats the purpose, doesn’t it, because there’s not much quality time to be had apart. All this added up to lovely long lunches, dinners and plenty of mooching around, browsing shops in Palm Beach, Avalon and so on, a lovely time, but very few dedicated reading sessions outside that all-important pre-ants window each morning.  As a result, in addition to the daily papers, I only managed to finish Indelible Ink, and devour Fiona’s delightful debut, the YA novel Six Impossible Things, which I found at Bookacino in Avalon during one of our many mooches.

Book buying, on the other hand, well, that was a highly successful enterprise for both of us (Llew’s a reader, but almost exclusively of non-fiction, and on an internal timer/hair-trigger, which is no doubt why he favours periodicals). Getting the ball rolling was a book on Brooklyn architecture, plus a massive volume dedicated to furniture, each satisfying two shared fetishes (Llew’s the only other person I’ve ever met who is as obsessed with chairs as I am…), and then it was a motley assortment of titles including but not limited to The Passage (by Justin Cronin, which I heard about on Radio National’s Book Show during one of my walks), Sydney (non-fiction by Delia Falconer), and We’ve Always Lived in the Castle (Shirley Jackson; notch another one up for the Book Show) for me, and the collected works of Hunter S. Thompson and a book on great explorers for Llew. Hours of reading pleasure await… just as soon as I figure out how to get Llew to sit still.

On Monday, I’ll take you on a ‘virtual foodie tour’ of Palm Beach and surrounds, because one thing we didn’t do was starve to death.



  1. David said,

    I share your mixed feelings about staycations … I can make them work, but only if they are centered on something like our local chamber music festival, with concert tickets every night. Otherwise, I just work right through them.

    Very creepy about the stalker — I mean, WTF?? Seriously, who *does* stuff like that?

    • doctordi said,

      Yeah, I thought Palmie would be far enough away to create a synthetic but convincing distance, but it wasn’t – work and life kept seeping under the door.

      SO creepy, David. Really. But I actually feel really sorry for the guy, too. He’s plainly unwell and living a pretty sad kind of existence. On the other hand, I’m delighted he’s nicely tucked away in his dark basement somewhere far, far away in America.

      • Norwichrocks said,

        He’s probably in Portland and a client of David’s. In fact, he’s probably the author of the appalling textual sludge David is currently wading through…

      • doctordi said,

        You know, Woo, you may be right…

  2. litlove said,

    You probably have this already, but here’s a link to a brilliant ‘troll catalogue’:


    I’m sure your man is in there somewhere.

    And I’m really glad you managed to have a lovely vacation despite the work intrusions. I think it’s one of the difficulties of freelancing – it’s hard to say no when you COULD do it, whereas, if you’d been out of contact in Alaska, say, you simply couldn’t have done it, and nor could Llew have taken his teleconferences. Mister Litlove is also a fidgetbot. But his trick is to get up in the morning, say what are we going to do? Shall we do this? Shall we do that? And then subside behind a book for the next four hours leaving me in a complete tizz as to whether I should be organising something or not. I am wise to him now, but it took a few frazzled holidays to figure it out! 🙂

    • doctordi said,

      No! I’ve never heard of this before! I don’t know whether to click on the link or just steer clear of the whole thing and remain blissful in my ignorance of all the whack-jobs out there…

      It is DEFINITELY one of the challenges of life as a freelancer. There is absolutely no way I could have turned down the work.

      You’re lucky Mister Litlove collapses behind a book after that initial burst – Llew just gathers steam until he explodes.

  3. Grad said,

    I’m still waiting to take a vacation. I had to cancel the one I’d planned to take over the Labor Day Holiday (with a few extra days thrown in at tip and tail). It’s always something…who knew I had such an exciting, drama filled life? To look at me you’d think I was simply “Babushka Lady” when in reality I live a life as dramatic as 007’s – only not as glamorous. Oh, Great – the creepy guy lives in the US. It’s a big country, though, so hopefully he’s not living down the block.

    • doctordi said,

      I wouldn’t start giving your neighbours the evil eye just yet, Graddikins – I’m sure he’s far, far away.

      You need to take your vacation. If there’s one thing this experience has taught me – because we’re still exhausted – it’s that everyone needs to actually step out of daily life at least once a year. In retrospect, we needed to leave Sydney to achieve the maximum benefit of our time off. It’s a good thing to know for the future. And you, missy, you need to book a holiday and TAKE IT.

  4. Lilian Nattel said,

    Book buying is always fun and it sounds like a nice time within the limitations that you folks had.

    • doctordi said,

      It was, Lilian, and the book buying was a definite highlight!

  5. Norwichrocks said,

    I still haven’t made it out to Palm Beach – its on my list of ‘musts’ this summer because everyone says how beautiful it is.

    But yes, unless people know that you are away and completely incommunicado (and how often does that happen, these days?) I think its all too tempting to keep responding to the demands of work, even when you’re not still officially in your home town. My boss has just taken off on cruise to to the reefs of Papua New Guinea… but she has still taken her iPhone, just in case.

    • doctordi said,

      Wow, you really MUST cross Palmie off that list, Woo. Avalon, Whale Beach, Palm Beach – that’s a lovely day out.

      I love being unreachable on holidays – I don’t understand your boss at all. And in PNG, no less – a true wilderness! Such a golden opportunity to switch off. You would love PNG, btw, since you’re a diver – the conditions are amazing.

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