The deadliest, jelliest site ever. Brought to you by Niamh Shaw

Ok, where to start? Another coffee: yes, great plan. Right, let me just push aside the dark mists of Time – there we go – wait; oh that’s Weather not dark mist – and revisit 2011, when we decided to move to Oamaru.

When I say ‘we’, alright alright FINE it was mainly me. Although when Husband points this out (admittedly not as frequently as I would were our positions reversed), in all fairness: I have no idea what he was thinking, letting me get away with it. I was foetus-afflicted and hormone-riddled and in a penultimate stage of epic broodiness; clearly in no fit state to be dictating such momentous life-choices.

The only condition Husband imposed on relocating was a term limit of five years. At the time, I huffed:

“OMG why do we have to put a timeframe on it? Why can’t we live there as long as it works out, vis a vis indefinitely? This just sooo doesn’t align with my free fucking spirit. Pass me that croissant – yeah just brush the coffee grounds off it – that’s grand mmm.”

Fast forward to 2015, and I’m all: “Say Husband, is it five years yet?”

And so we started thinking about where we wanted to bring up our children. For a while we considered Picton, but rejected it as too far away from Her Goatiness and Agent of Death; we also spent some time skulking around Queenstown but decided it was too . . . you know . . . too . . . Queenstown.

I’m not sure why Wanaka wasn’t an obvious choice; maybe because Agent of Death frequently and apropos of nothing growls, “Who the fack would want to live in Wanaka?” I’m not sure what I’ve ever responded, but given my cultural imperative to please, probably something along the lines of, “Yeah, Wanaka with its stupid lake and stuff, hurhurhur”. Until instead the answer was, “Um, maybe us?”

Towards the end of 2015, we started scouting real estate in Wanaka. We spent several weekends looking at pricey and vaguely preposterous properties before realising there was little to nothing that accommodated two people working from home. My job is part-time and flexible and, although I can work leaning against the kitchen bench with a spatula in the other hand, I’d prefer to gainfully employ myself at a workstation in between the scary parts of Turbo The Snail.

However, since Husband runs his business from home, he needs an office which can accommodate Excessive Technology™ (a recent upgrade from Enough Technology™), and nothing we viewed offered anything appropriate for Husband’s office that wasn’t acoustically compromised; or tucked under a stairs; or didn’t feature a stunning vista of the neighbour’s bathroom.

The situation was further complicated by Husband not liking any of the houses I did.

Eventually we decided if we’re going to ransom our children’s education for a house, it needs to tick all the boxes, and the only way to achieve that is to build our own. Coincidentally this plan aligns with Husband’s life-goal to build a house, which he presented in detail supported by a feasibility study, strategic case and realistic contingency plans on our second date. You can see how I knew he was A Keeper.

So last year we bought a section in Wanaka.

Christmas 2010

. . . although Husband’s not much of an afternoon or evening person either; but this hit him a bit early, when he was still occupying the sub-human category.

Me> Ok, so this song. Wish You Were Here.

Husband> Grarh.

Me> Yes. It goes, ‘We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl year after year / Running over the same old ground . . .’

Husband> Grarh?

Me> But. How can they run over the same old ground?

Husband> It’s uh, like, they’re doing the same things grarh over and over-

Me> Yeah, except they’re swimming in a fish bowl right? So, how are they RUNNING over the same old ground? Presumably they have flippers, so wouldn’t they still be swimming? Or . . . kinda . . . flopping around over the same old ground?

Husband> Graaaaarh

Last night at around 20:00hrs I was packing for my 09:00 flight to Australia this morning . . .

 

So regular reader(s) of Deadlyjelly know EXACTLY where this is going. Which is: further than me. I invite those not familiar with my travel (or equally often static) patterns to read this for a general overview of my tempestuous relationship with transportation.

 

Back to the packing. Stuffing handfuls of knickers into my computer bag, I said to Husband: “So do I get a visa at the airport?”

 

And he said, “WHAT?!?! NIAMHIE, DIDN’T YOU ARRANGE A VISA?”

 

WELL OBVIOUSLY I DIDN’T ARRANGE A FUCKING VISA BECAUSE I HAVE A FUCKING IRISH PASSPORT WHICH I PAID GOOD MONEY FOR TO ENSURE THAT THING GRANTS ME ACCESS TO EVERYWHERE.

 

Travel has become so complicated: first you had to have a passport to go anywhere interesting, and now you need a visa AS WELL?

 

With my customary impeccable timing, Immigration Australia had closed half an hour earlier. “Better see if you can get one online,” barked Husband.

 

Immigration Australia only offers online applications for ETA visas to a select few passport holders including Brunei – Darussalam. I can feel a complaint to The Republic of Ireland coming on. I mean honestly, what’s the point? I might as well be Somalian.

 

For a fee of USD $40, migrationexpert.com.au claimed ‘instant online processing’. What this actually means is instant online processing of credit card details. The instant online confirmation stated: ‘Your visa will be ready within 5 days’.

 

At this point, Andrew ordered me to finish packing, while he stormed the living room air-chopping and pressing his phone to his ear with one finger. I gotta tell you: it was insanely sexy and such a turn-on.

 

Unfortunately, this effect was cancelled out by his having spent the previous 20 minutes sitting on the sofa being industriously useless muttering, “You’ll never get a visa before the flight.”

 

The packing wasn’t going well (I kept interrupting Andrew with helpful suggestions e.g. “Let’s see if there’s a number on the website so we can phone them and shout”). I’d given up on it to email my mate Maxine to inform her I wouldn’t be able to make it, when an email from migrationexpert popped up in bold saying my ETA had been granted.

 

It was long after I’d finished packing – around 23:00hrs – when I got a message from Virgin Australian saying the flight had been delayed by eight hours . . .

 

. . . so PLENTY of time to arrange a visa

As I left the playground yesterday, I was carrying Saoirse while simultaneously performing a gravel eradication exercise in the region of her shoe. This couldn’t wait until we got to the car because: “NO MUMMY DERE’S STONES IN MY SHOES AND IT’S ON MY FOOTS GRAAARAAARGH!”

In short: it was essential the gravel be removed AT ONCE, or it might burrow through her skin and travel via her bloodstream to embed itself in her brain and then there’d be some fairly face-melting roaring – and it’s in the interest of the wider community to avoid that.

Anyway, there I was floundering across the playground through knee-deep gravel, Saoirse’s shoe in one hand and herself just about in the other when BLAM! it was like someone hit me in the face with a bat.

I’d walked into a monkey-bar at head-height.

“MUMMY! Did you bonka your head, MUMMEEE?” shrieked Saoirse solicitously.

And then, “MUMMY! YOU DROPPED MY SHOE, MUMMY!”

She was lucky I didn’t drop her too while I stumbled around fighting off stars and a large flock of assorted birds.

It was only when I’d reached the car and felt blood sliding down my face that I realised I’d split the skin across the bridge of my nose. I’m not entirely sure – but the injuries (two) suggest – that I collected the monkey-bar with my forehead and instinctively jerked my head back and up in order to wallop my nose OFF THE SAME BAR.

Husband came home and found me lying on the sofa with a bag of peas on my face.

“MUMMY BONKAD HER HEAD DADDY!” announced Saoirse in the manner of an MC introducing the next act.

After he found out what happened, Husband’s main concern was: “Did you feel like a muppet?”

For a while I thought I’d broken my nose, but after I realised it was just the motherfucker of all headaches I felt much better (and the Panadol helped). There’s a touch of periorbital discolouration . . . but that could be the result of less than six hours of sleep last night. Pretty standard around these parts.

Ebola leaf

Diseased grass

Diseased grass

After I’d put the kids to bed the other evening, I was out in the garden raking leaves. Yeah, I far prefer draping myself across the sofa stuffing crackers in my face and watching X-Factor worst auditions on Youtube, but those leaves aren’t going to rake themselves you know.

As for why I hadn’t raked leaves earlier in the day, well, I have two kids. Anyone who doesn’t graciously accept that as the ultimate, tiger-blood, champion all-stars, boss excuse that it is either has no children, and/or is a cock. But ok: Thursday was a chaotic scramble of keeping the children alive long enough to get them to care; editing a 6 page funding application which is one of two part-time jobs I work; massaging my sick dog; exploding hair; collecting the kids and not forgetting one or both; packing Finn’s rugby bag; finalising the application and distracting Saoirse from eating it while I delivered it while Andrew took Finn to rugby; and then the carnage surrounding dinner.

So your general, standard-issue day.

Also: leaves.

All over the lawn.

Shitloads of the fuckers.

There’s a dude at the bottom of our hill who occasionally leaves his floodlight on, and I turned on the outside light, and it was a lovely, still, clear night with loads of stars . . . perfectly suited to lying on the sofa with a plate of crackers, but there I was raking leaves.

I’m thinking: “Jesus H C this literally motherfucking rake is fucking USELESS,” because it didn’t seem to be picking up anything. I’d done about half the garden when I realised the rake was upside-down.

Things progressed much faster once I turned it around.

After about an hour and a half, the garden looked much better (what I could actually see of it).

At nine o’clock, when I went inside to make Husband his dinner, he said, “Nice wellies. So do you know why you’re raking leaves?”

“Because . . . it’s . . . on the task list on the blackboard?”

“Well, I suppose there’s that, yes. But also, if you leave them on the lawn it can cause grass disease. You know, I raked the lawn the other day and it only took me half an hour-”

“Well, you should probably just take care of it in future,” I said, clanging a frying-pan forcefully against the stove-top, “because you’re obviously more mentally and emotionally prepared for raking leaves-”

“No, I meant: you don’t have to rake up every single last leaf.”

“Well, what’s the fucking point, then?”

I mean: OF COURSE you’ve got to get every last single leaf, because otherwise where do you draw the line? Two leaves? Three? Four hundred? Exactly; you never know which leaf has Ebola, so you better get the lot of them

A new record

So I was noodling around on Facebook one evening looking at dancing gerbils and photos of weirdos in Walmart and trying to resist the quick quiz to determine which celebrity is my soul mate – when up popped a message from one of my favourite engineers of all time:

Tony> Hey Niamh, when are you coming over for a visit to Beirut 🙂 Tony

And I thought, ‘Wow! Gosh, I haven’t heard from Tony in a while’. And of course I immediately stopped what I was doing (browsing artistic representations of electrical appliances rendered in fruit) and messaged him back:-

Me> Hahaha! Hi Tony – great to hear from you! No plans to pass through Beirut any time soon 😀 two kids sort of put the brakes on any international jetsetting. How you doing? What you up to? x

Tony> Haha Niamh you made my day 🙂 It is great to hear from you

Tony> I have two kids as well and I am doing great, still within Company as usual

Tony> But the message you responded to was sent to you 5 years ago 🙂

Still relatively unscarred

Still relatively unscarred

Aw do I have to? Whyeeee? Alright alright ALRIGHT! Context, whatever.

So a few months ago I was at the local Toy Library, because now I’m the President I have important stuff to do there. You know, like naming our elk, and quality-testing plasma cars, and supergluing Strawberry Shortcake’s head back on because her neck is impractically flimsy. I also point at things, a lot.

Anyway, Fiona said, “I’ve gotta go soon. I collect Macey from school at three.”

At which point, my thought process went something like this: “Bo collecta! Makin moves yeah on the dance floor – what IS that song? I wish life were a musical. Then I could bust out the tunes and funky moves and people wouldn’t think I was crayzay. Re rewind. When the crowd say bo colleeecta. Crunch. Grindgrindgrindgrindgrind CLICK! FUUUCK!”

Because it was then I realised I’d forgotten to pick up Finn from kindy at 14:30.

I squealed out of the carpark on a dense cloud of burnt rubber. When I flung myself into kindy half an hour late, all the chairs were upside down on the tables and Finn was sitting dolefully on the floor with his backpack on.

“Sorry!” I gasped.

“Don’t worry, it happens all the time,” said the ECEs kindly – but I refused to be appeased. I mean, I bet they say that to all the parents.

He probably had a better time there than at home, where there’s no playdough and he’s not allowed to stand on the sofa- ok look, there’s no way to make it better and I’m going to feel guilty about abandoning my child until my dying day.

So there’s the context: past, present and future.

Last week I was at the Toy Library, when I looked at my watch and it was-

“FUCKING TWO THIRTY!”

“Have you forgotten your child again?” asked Maria. I would have challenged her about the unnecessary emphasis she placed on the last word – I mean, I’d only forgotten Finn once – except I was thrashing it out the door.

I was only five minutes late and trying to gallop elegantly up the path when I met my mate, Maxine.

And her son, Q, said, “Hello, Niamh! What are you doing here?”

“Hello, Q! I’m here to pick up Finn!” I said, as if I were speaking to a four year old – which, in fairness, Q is – but also I admittedly gave Maxine a look conveying that perhaps she should spend more time doing some cognitive development role playing with her son because what the fuck else would I be doing there?

Then Q said, “Finn’s not at kindy. He doesn’t come on Tuesdays.”

While Maxine rolled around the ground laughing, realisation achingly slowly dawned that both my children, Finn and Saoirse, spend Tuesdays – pretty much all of them since Christmas – with their dad.

You think maybe that incident cancels out the other? Yeah no; I’m still dealing with thermonuclear levels of enriched, weapons-grade guilt. I imagine on my deathbed, saying: “Hey everyone listen up because this is my dying breath so it’s obviously pretty important – hey you! Put down the sausage roll and have some fucking respect! Dying breath, here! Ok anyway, look, I won’t draw it out much longer, but I really want to say this: I have no regrets in my life except that time I forgot to collect Finn from kindy: Son, I’m sorry! I’m so very, very sorry!”

<exhale>

<final curtain>

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