First World Suburban Stay-At-Home-Childfree-Wife Problems
My photos from our "trip down south" are almost done uploading, four hours later. The internet hasn't seemed bad here until tonight, perhaps because my online activities have been mostly restricted to making people look at blurry kangaroo photos on Facebook, or doggedly adding new businesses to Yelp (which is still barely a thing once beyond Perth), or adding another item to the Google Doc shopping list I share with Mike.

(Yes, I know 220 photos * 1000 proverbial words each = someone should practice more self-editing, but what else is new?)

Best item currently on shopping list? "Inexpensive wall art for second bath, in front of and opposite the toilet, so it doesn’t feel like a small Japanese shame closet or video confession booth on a reality show."

That bathroom is so sad. Don't get me started on this Aussie thing of putting toilets in their own room, meaning people are touching door handles before they can wash their hands. Every time someone comes over, they'll know whether they're a good friend based on whether I feel that I can look deeply into their eyes and say, "Look, I can trust you to open the door with your non-wiping hand, right?" (For everyone else, it's DEFCON 1 with the Lysol and bleach the moment they leave.)

But hey - second bathroom! I've spent a good part of our marriage pining for a second bathroom. (Although that was back when Mike was doing at least half of the housework. He still is, actually, but I assume that all changes in about seven hours when he goes to work, and my First Day Alone in Australia happens. I'm not sure how these things work, but I've seen every episode of Mad Men. Even carefree Megan takes Don's hat and coat at the door.)

If only we can get a house rule going where only one bathroom gets used for Certain Activities...

I'm actually trying to make the inexpensive wall art myself. (If you remember my memo board or my first batch of homemade tamales - both of which featured heavy use of the stapler - join us for a collective sigh in 3, 2...) So far the materials have cost $15 for a photo frame + $5 for glue that "I'm sure I'll use again someday." In Aussie terms, I might still be within budget. Back in Vegas, I would've fished an ubiquitous $10-off-no-strings Kohl's card from the mail room paper recycling container and already slapped a Made-in-China faux-distressed print on the wall and still had money left over for the velcro hanging strips... which I haven't found yet in Australia, but I'm not panicking yet. Yet.

This is all happening because unfinished shadow boxes seem to be an unknown thing where we are. Finally I have time and reason to make everything on Pinterest, and I'm hindered by the non-existence of any arts-n-crafts stores that can carry a huge variety of stock. Oh, there's a chain they have here called Spotlight, which I call "Bed, Bath, and Michaels," except it's half the size of either. (Don't click on the link. Especially don't click on the "easy" online shopping experience... where you are invited to browse the weekly flyer or yarn catalogue online, fill out an order form, then fax or mail it in.) 

So, I have no regrets about hauling an extra 10 pounds of craft supplies (code for "more SMASH books!") in my checked luggage, but that's not helping me as I try to deal with my seashell binging problem.

I don't want Australia to become a land of big box stores selling cheap imported goods made by sad people, not at all, but suddenly it's like the end of the movie Signs, where all of the seemingly unrelated events finally make sense. All of the scrapbook materials that piled up faster than I could use them, which I decided to ship over here instead of give away or leave in the States? I get it now!

(I'm already tempted to get on Gumtree - which is where everyone here goes instead of Craigslist - and sell the entire lot for *pinky finger to mouth* TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.)

The saddest (saddest, saddest) thing of all is that we went to K-Mart yesterday. K-Mart has faded away in Australia almost to the extent that it has in the States, and Mike warned me that it had come down in the world from its "glory" days. "Is it going to be worse than Target?" (I can't even talk about what Target is here... kind of a "Target Greatest Hits," if the real appeal of Target was its clothes. I don't even know why this watered-down Target creation exists in Australia.) Mike said he was sure that K-Mart would be worse than Target, and we both thought we'd be back in the parking lot right away.

Not even!

So this is where all the STUFF was hiding! An hour later we walked out with my plain white photo frame of just-the-right-size and a pillowcase for a body pillow (which we'd given up on), plus the knowledge that when it's time to get cheap bookshelves, we have an option other than driving to Perth to visit Ikea. (Although I'm dying to finally see the home of some of our least-crappy casino gifts.)

I walked out of K-Mart feeling sheepishly happy that, yes, as soon as we decide on a style, I'll be able to get a not-completely-hideous midsize trash bin for the kitchen for less than the cost of a Michelin-starred lunch. (Because there's no room under the kitchen sink for trash, thanks to the built-in trash container that takes up an incredible amount of space while only holding about one convenience-store-sized plastic carry bag, and the pantry door handle is too awkward to hang a bag on it, a la The Now Holy and Nearly Mythical Apartment in Vegas.)

If running to K-Mart means being a lowbrow, uncouth American, so be it. When I was a kid, we used to make fun of K-Mart merchandise (despite hanging out there all the time), and now I accept that the healing must begin... with the process possibly involving the purchase of a $29 towel trolley for the bathroom with the aforementioned ugly toilet room on the side.

Look, in time Mike and I will be better people with a home of our own (in one country, even) and two incomes again and firm design goals that will lead to investment into solid, lovely pieces of furniture crafted by local artisans. I'm not even snarking on the "artisan" part - there are some great local carpenters with furniture showrooms.

But for now? I am soldiering through the guilt with the contemplation of a few morally horrible (but okay looking) items for a low cost. You may not know what it's like to go from "matches everything" white wood cabinetry to hideous first-cousins-with-particle-board yellowy-medium brown cabinets fighting a constant duel with the "comes with the apartment and per lease can't move it" cherryish-dark-brown dining table and six, why are there six, chairs, neither of which begins to complement or at all gently contrast the shades and types of wood we're shipping over, and here's the part where I point at the Christian Grey wall paint and the nubby "is this for indoors?" light grey carpet, and really, why am I still typing when no one with even baseline Pottery Barn flair could read this far without tears, right?

Fact is, the place is super cool - heated towel racks! brilliant views! private elevator! so much space if you don't care about large closets! plenty of light! - and I'd pick it over everything else all over again, but I was already style challenged, so asking me to work with the (frankly bizarre) choices made by the architect while staying within the realm of what a renter is allowed to do to a newish/nice property is just meanness.

If it's any consolation, I'm doing great things for the local Lamington economy.

But for now I have to figure out how to make a seashell shadow box out of a single photo frame. (Two photo frames back to back, while a popular option, was starting to get too pricey, since I'm eventually making three. If I can't have exactly what I want, then I want it cheap, ya know?) Then I have to figure out how to hang it without damaging the walls.

Oh, but first I have to sit around and play with (and dry) all of my seashells. I just have so many, and we just can't afford to get someone in to rinse and buff all of them for me. (Le sigh!)

(I don't know how style/fashion bloggers do it. I've always been happy to ramble about all kinds of insipid stuff here, but even just musing out loud about the stark/clashing living room to someone in an actual furniture store yesterday made me feel like a clueless baby. Talking about it here is just what happens when unchecked at 1:30 a.m. The above is my true and accurate if magnified despair over both problematic interior design and giving in to the terrible practice of buying cheap and easy stuff made elsewhere and done so poorly, but hopefully it goes without saying that I don't really twist in agony while my biggest problems fire out like cannonballs wrapped in pages ripped (daintily, using a bone folder) from Martha Stewart Living. No, my brain does nestle and wrestle with more meaningful fare... like how behind I've become in playing World of Warcraft and watching Doctor Who...)

06 May 2013 |






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)