Gin + elderflower + bugs

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A bit more of my Lockdown One sort-of-memoir!

Read chapter one 

Read chapter two

Read chapter three

Read chapter four

Read chapter five

Read chapter six

Read chapter seven

Read chapter eight

Read chapter nine

Read chapter ten

Read chapter eleven

Read chapter twelve

Read chapter thirteen

Read chapter fourteen

Read chapter fifteen

Read chapter sixteen

Read chapter seventeen

Read chapter eighteen

Day 35 – 4561 steps

Stupid asthma. Sometimes, when the weather is about to shift, it comes in heavy and today was one of those days. There were days of rain forecast ahead. I’d been awake half the night with the breathy strains and sore back that every asthma sufferer will be familiar with.

All was not lost, however. I still planned to rug up and head to the Yarra park with the dogs when it had warmed up a bit. The cold early morning air would not do me any favours, I knew. But at least 20 minutes in the sunshine later in the day with the pups could serve me many of the benefits of my usual walks, according to science.

Instead of walking, I made tea, read some poems (Alice Oswald) and chatted to my university classmates. Then I worked on finishing the fifth chapter of my Mum book. It marked the halfway mark and I was making good time, in terms of that looming deadline.

The night before I’d googled my own name to see if the ‘author pane’ came up on the right side of my browser screen. It did, and I noted that I needed to go through the process of ‘claiming’ it. But I also noticed that when I typed my name into Google, it suggested I search for ‘what happened to Pip Lincolne’ an indicator that people are typing that phrase into the search box.

“What happened to Pip Lincolne?” So many things. It’s hard for someone like me, because I’m not a confessional type of writer. I don’t feel comfortable revealing everything about myself, so instead I try to share small parts of the hard bits and much bigger bits about what helped me to move on. 

It’s not really how people write about trauma, I suppose, but it’s how I do it. Perhaps one day I will feel ready to talk more about it, but at the moment I am still coming to terms with life myself and it just doesn’t feel like the right time or the right thing.

If you’ve read to here you already know some of the details, anyway. I’m sorry I can’t talk about it in more depth, but I guess I’m still recovering and I guess that’s just not how I want to do this.

I talk to my doctor and psychologist about the hard things, so know that. I’m okay. Sort of.

When I walked the dogs later that day, the Yarra park was deserted. We headed along the path into the bushier areas and I walked through several swarms of tiny insects, inhaling a few and prompting a coughing fit.

This was not what they meant when they suggested breathing in nature, I felt.

After about 5 minutes of coughing in the thankfully still deserted park I coughed the bugs up and everything was peachy again. I did not keel over and become one of those people whose dogs guard their dead body. Instead I was absolutely fine apart from some teary eyes and tired lungs.

We headed home after that, and I poured a medicinal Gin and Elderflower Tonic and settled onto the couch to watch Poh making a Nonya Curry. That’s exactly what I felt like for dinner. I’m highly suggestable like that.

Day 36 – 7155 steps

I woke up in the middle of the night to a wild storm bearing down on the city. Lightning, thunder, hail, rain, wind … the whole palaver flashing and rumbling across my room. I turned off the alarm and when I finally got back to sleep I slept through to 8am.

It was still raining, so I decided to spend the day working on my poetry homework. I had a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, and then I’d walk with the dogs around 4, before things got dark and the rain returned.

I needed a mental health plan review, so we did that and I scored an impressive 26 on the ranking, much improved from the 40 I had scored the first time I visited her to seek help through my sobs, in the midst of a complete breakdown.

We had a long chat and sorted out fresh medication and talked about how much my quality of life had improved, despite my recent job loss. This framework of special things I had built around myself – study, writing, reading, walking, helping people – was helping me to feel positive, purposeful and hopeful, despite not really knowing what was ahead.

It felt cavalier to feel this way … and wonderful at the same time.

Dr Jeannie reminded me that it’s okay to feel what I feel, that even if others are having a worse time that doesn’t negate my right to feel worried or stressed or smashed-about by circumstance.

That afternoon the dogs did not care a jot about the chilly temperature or my worries. They were just thrilled to be the only pups in the park and galloped joyfully along the path, stopping to sniff possum fur caught on branches and all the places dogs had gone before them.

About a kilometre along the path one dog disappeared into a newly furnished pond, aka a hole that the rain had filled overnight. She was delighted by her makeshift bath, but eventually it got too cold and she hauled herself out and ran the water off her peachy fur.

I wrapped her in a towel on the way home and wondered if there was anything nicer than witnessing a delighted and adventurous dog on a crispy Autumn late-afternoon. There is something about seeing this simple joy-in-action that makes it impossible to feel low.