Sunday, January 25, 2009

Animals in my room, in order of most to least welcome.

Cats. They can come and hang out in my room if they want. It adds a homey touch to have a cat curled up on the bed, and I enjoy having them within stroking distance. But I do not want them in there if they are going to drool, piss, shit, knock stuff off flat surfaces in the middle of the night or play with creatures they have killed. Or, indeed, to lie on my computer when I have a deadline to meet, then scratch me ill-temperedly when I remove them from my desk:

Dave is moving out of my house in about a week to go nest with his girlfriend. He is taking Monty with him and I am going to miss her a lot.

Mosquitoes. Last night I had to sleep covered in Aerogard because there was not one but an irritating chorus of them, all making their high buzz at infinitesimally different pitches. This was so much worse than a single mosquito. It is awful to hear them coming closer and closer. You flinch even though you are wearing insect repellant.

Moths. There is a big chunky moth in my room at the moment that insists on fluttering clumsily everywhere. It is so big that when it hits the wall it makes a sound like a wad of chewed paper. I have a Chinese paper lampshade over my light globe and when the moth gets in there it sounds like a raisin rattling around. I have a moth trap in my room to catch smaller pantry moths, and it has become surprisingly full. But the large moth does not seem interested in the supposedly irresistible pheremone-soaked lure in the trap.

Birds. Thank god a live one has never got in; can you imagine the havoc it would cause to have it fluttering around, plus its cruel stabby beak? Birds are bad enough when killed and dismembered by cats. I still remember hearing Meep rustling around under my desk, and when I went to investigate there were feathers everywhere and a still-warm bird.

Mice. Sometimes when I am waiting to fall asleep I can hear a faint rustling in my room and I am terrified it is mice. Mice skittering over my pillow in the night. Mice nibbling through the electrical cords and causing my entire house to go up in flames. However I think a lot of the rustling is actually moths in the paper lampshade.

Bedbugs. I just don't have words to describe the terror and stress that an infestation of bedbugs in my room would cause me. The worst part about them is that people often think they are a sign of dirtiness in a person or their surroundings, but this simply isn't true. A terrible encounter with these creatures in a Canberra hotel has pretty much traumatised me for life; every time I have an unexplained red mark on my skin like a mosquito bite, I panic that it's a bedbug bite. Sometimes I check the seams of my mattress for any signs of bedbugs.

The worst part of having a bedbug infestation in my room would be obsessively sterilising its entire contents. I would have to throw away my mattress, wash all my clothes and linen in boiling hot water and put anything that couldn't be washed in black garbage bags in the sun, in order to kill the bugs. Then I would probably have to set off an insecticide bomb in my room.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Hutch Network. I came up with this idea in a dream the other day, although I've been so crazy busy with work this week that I haven't had time to blog about it until now.

In my dream, I was heading home on the tram, tired and strung out from a close encounter with the Met inspectors. So I was kind of on autopilot as I got off the tram and started walking down my street... Then I suddenly realised I was walking down Donald Street, East Brunswick, which is where I lived years ago. I had been so tired and stressed that I had let some old, forgotten part of my memory guide me 'home'.

I started to get that wistful feeling of returning somewhere that used to be utterly familiar to you and noticing the small things that have changed since you were last there. Donald Street now had young but quite tall deciduous trees planted in the nature strips, which gave the street rather a different look. When I reached my old house, I was so overcome with tiredness and nostalgia that I just wanted to walk inside, go upstairs to my old bedroom and fall asleep.

I decided to knock on the door and see who lived there now. But when I went to knock, the door swung open and so I walked into my old living room, filled with someone else's stuff. I was standing there, overcome, when a chick walked in and started freaking out at seeing me. Her screams brought her housemates (also female), and they ordered me out of the house despite my attempts to explain what I was doing there.

As I walked away, back up the hill towards the tram stop and my actual house, I remember feeling very weary and longing for a system under which having lived in a house gave you some kind of right to sleep there - even if only in an uncomfortable hutch. Even in my dream I realised that this would never be feasible; imagine having to shelter complete strangers at your house, which you think of as yours, simply because they happened to live there at some other time.

But I reasoned that the hutch could be detached from the actual house; kind of like a cubby house in the front yard or on the porch, and it would be extremely unlikely that two people who'd both lived in the house would separately seek out the hutch on the same night. It could work! I thought in the dream.

It's stayed with me all week. Even though it could never work in real life, I love the idea of being plugged into a network of hutches in all the places I've ever lived. I like the idea that home - that feeling of safety and security you create around where you live - can persist in a space even when you don't live there any more.

The only reason you'd seek out the hutch would be if you happened to pass the house at a time when you were feeling particularly sad, stressed, tired or overwhelmed, and simply being able to fall asleep in the presence of a place you once called home could make you feel better.

I remember the time I stormed out of that party in goddamn North Melbourne after fighting with Nat about Sarah Palin. The party was just around the corner from my old house, and I sat on the steps of the church opposite my old house and sobbed and sobbed. I was unhappy in that house and I still loathe North Melbourne, but it was once part of who I was, and I would have happily crawled into a hutch there that night.

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