So 2013 was kind of a big deal for us, and we’re kind of a big deal as it is, so frankly the last twelve months have been kind of a big deal. As basically everyone who is reading this knows (hey, whatup) we moved from Perth to Sydney in February this year.
It turns out “moving to another state” isn’t just as simple as getting on a plane: we spent pretty much all of January packing and getting ready, throwing out boxes and boxes of crap, and moving the boxes of the crap we did want to keep into a gigantic shipping crate. It also turns out that gigantic metal shipping crates get quite hot in the heat of summer — on the final day it was an insane 52 degrees inside the crate, which made moving the last of our furniture in there and strapping down an almost literally hellish task.
Our excellent friends Sarah and Steve took us in when we arrived in Sydney, and in their spare room we stayed for two months until we were finally able to sort out our own lodgings. We initially planned to rent for a year or so before buying, but a quick examination of the rental market reminded us of two important factors: a) real estate agents hate anybody who is self-employed and require them to produce 10,000 more pages of documentation than anybody else, and b) getting a place that would allow for our two dogs was going to be dream-crushingly impossible.
While griping about this situation, we decided to just bite the bullet and buy earlier than we planned, which was a kind of terrifying new experience, but one that was a long time coming. It’s almost hilarious how different your treatment is by real estate agents when you’re buying instead of renting: if you’re renting they treat you like absolute dog shit and don’t give you the time of day, but ohhhh, oh if you’re buying you’re a goddamn king who must be carefully courted and given all the peeled grapes you require. A nice change, but one that definitely reinforced our decision to never rent again in our entire lives.
The little house on the edge of the forest
By a stroke of luck we managed to get the very first house we liked enough to put an offer on, and — I would later go on to find out — only edged out the nearest offer by a few thousand dollars. We both desperately wanted to avoid buying a cookie-cutter house in the suburbs, and so when we discovered this lovely wooden cottage literally right next to a forest on the edge of a hill, we knew it was what we were after. Here! Some photos.
Since moving in we’ve discovered any number of wonderful things: a beautiful dog beach only twenty minutes away, a lovely nature reserve where actual fireflies appear in the summer months, a gorgeous local cafe with two very friendly owners — and even perhaps less enthralling but still important things such as a big local shops just down the road (open until 11PM every night!) and a competent, friendly bulk-billing doctor. Here! Some photos.
It hasn’t been without its troubles, including a few rough months while we balanced our budgets around the new requirements of home ownership, but overall it’s been absolutely amazing, and is great to have something that finally, finally feels like home — our home. It’s also awakened in me a terrifying new desire to learn things about landscaping and home maintenance, things that I didn’t give a shit about last year. I guess this is how Dad feels all the time?
So how are you guys?
2013 has been a really interesting year for us both. Moving into and owning a place of our, er, own, has made a huge change in how we see ourselves and how we see the world. For the longest time we’ve either been renting, living with family or renting from family, and having something that is actually ours (well, pending the mortgage) is just a great feeling. From there we’ve been able to do a heap of things that we wouldn’t have done before, and Jess in particular has really made leaps and bounds in her self-confidence and her physical and mental health. We’ve actually both been going to the gym three, four, even five times a week (and sometimes on weekends) this year without even really realising we were getting so into it. It’s a good feeling. Soon we will be popping with muscles in all sorts of horrific and unexpected places.
The year of travel
This year has been a year of travel: beginning with our flight to Sydney in February, we then went to Melbourne in July for the PAX Australia convention, then to Perth in September for Simon and Jane’s wedding, and then — almost immediately, and quite unexpectedly — to Canberra, where Jess’ grandmother had been taken into hospital. We went back and forth from our house to Canberra (five hours drive, each way) several times as things went from bad, to “oh, maybe it’s okay after all”, to suddenly very, very worse. She would later pass away peacefully in her sleep on October 9. It was a very sad time for us both, and we could only feel thankful and lucky that we were able to stop in and see her on our way back from Melbourne earlier, in July.
Our trip down to Melbourne was the longest and most involved, since we decided to make a road trip out of it. It was a long and beautiful drive, through some amazing countryside, but with a strict deadline to meet and work to do on the way, it became an unnecessarily gruelling experience and one that, on reflection, we decided we’d probably not repeat for next year’s convention.
This year marked the second year of my editorship at games.on.net, and it also marked a steady rise in the number of people coming and reading it, which makes me feel quite good. I managed to cobble together a number of video reviews that I’m quite proud of, and also managed to score some interviews with some excellent people, including this one with iiNet’s CEO Michael Malone in which I ask him if he has ever kicked a duck, and this one with the CEO of Razer in which I ask him if his laptops make his workers sterile. Good times.
(I also can’t resist linking to this one as well, in which I surprised Borderlands 2’s lead writer Anthony Burch with an interview in the form of a Dungeons & Dragons game — an interview which he would later go on to describe as “the best interview of his life”. This was a pretty huge and humbling moment for me and definitely one of the highlights of the year.)
We started a new game of Pathfinder this year, sitting down once every month or so with Sarah, Steve, Tom and Brenna to play as agents of the Department of Supernatural Vigilance, hunters of magic, monsters and everything in between. The game was originally pitched as “X-Files on the high seas”, and I’ve had a great time trying to live up to that pitch with face-sucking sewer monsters, horrible fifth-dimensional spacecraft and high-speed naval battles across the roaring ocean.
I tried a new thing this year as well where I took the players’ management of their own health away and brought it behind the screen, replacing it with a bag filled with weighted counters representing their hit points. At any time they could ask to check their health by feeling how heavy the bag was — the idea being to prevent metagaming and encourage the players to sort of “feel” their damage level rather than knowing exactly how much punishment they could take before dying. I’m still not 100% sure it’s been successful — if anything it’s created a ton of more work for me and none of the people are the table are the sort of horrible metagamers who keep track of average damage outputs and shit like that. Still, I recommend giving it a shot.
I haven’t had a chance to do much wargaming this year, but regular Skype-chats with my heart-bro John have enabled me to keep my painting in hand — and the arrival of a fuckload of Reaper Miniatures in the mail means the backlog of things to paint has grown ever larger.
I also managed to do quite a bit of drawing this year, which I’m very happy with! Here’s a picture of our D&D characters for you.
What else is happening, then
2013 was also the year we finally gave in and joined Facebook as well, which has been… interesting. We’ve been resisting Facebook for years, but after all that happened this year and the new distance between us and our old friends in Perth, we thought we should try and close that gap a little. So far it’s been pretty tame and neither of us have caught AIDS or anything like we feared, but it has allowed me to catch up with people from high school I haven’t seen in years, most of whom have all changed in new and exciting ways. Nearly all of them are pregnant or buying property, and working in careers I would never have expected. Bizarre stuff.
We also got a cat this year! In early November we picked up Evy from the local RSPCA shelter and she’s now a part of our family, except she sleeps in the bathroom (because her idea of fun is coming in and sitting on your head at 4:30 in the morning). She’s completely adorable and very friendly, and has increased the amount of shedded hair lying on the floor every day by approximately 17,000%.
Here’s some other things that my phone camera and social media records tell me apparently happened this year:
- Discovered a blank, unmarked VHS tape while we were packing up. We have no idea what is on it and no way of watching it (who even owns a VHS player any more?) and we can’t throw it away in case it’s compromising sex footage (it’s not, but you know). What a mystery!
- In January we caught Nightwish in concert in Perth at the Metropolis in Fremantle — Nightwish are one of Jess’ favourite bands since basically forever, and she was absolutely blown away by them live. I’m pretty sure she’s planning to leave me for the lead singer (or any of the band members, really). And really, who could blame her?
- Our dogs have discovered two exciting new hobbies: Rosie now likes to sit around and lick the doorframes in our house, and Pepper’s new fun hobby is picking up leaves, chewing them into a pulp, and then regurgitating them out onto the laps of our guests. Watch out for that when you visit.
- Soon after we moved in, Jess was tinkling away on the piano when there was a knock on the front door. I opened it to discover a strange man standing there, who introduced himself in a broad eastern European accent as Tibor. He heard Jess playing and, being a piano teacher, wanted to come and compliment her. Soon he was sitting in our living room hammering away on the piano, while the dogs he was walking — four, or perhaps five in total — filed in through the door one after the other and ran around our house sniffing and barking. Then as soon as he had appeared he disappeared again, shouting his address repeatedly at us and urging us to come over and see his collection of grand pianos. It was incredibly surreal.
- Jess and I were being very belligerent to each other one afternoon and in an effort to be the most belligerent I threw the muffin I was holding into the air. It bounced off the ceiling and landed on the ceiling fan, from where it fell off and was immediately eaten by Rosie. The more you know.
- We got a new frying pan, and so to celebrate we took the old, awful frying pan out back and hit it with a sledgehammer over and over until it was a heap of twisted metal. Such for all our foes.
The 10 Best Tweets of 2013
In no particular order.
Walked into the room and discovered a big box of band-aids and now I’m all on edge for the upcoming boss fight
Yesterday I put on deodorant and then farted wildly, because I believe in a balanced lifestyle
Hair is kind of like the movie Weekend At Bernies. We’re all pretending it’s not dead, but everybody knows it.
“Spacemarines DO have two hearts. Or is it four?”
“What do they have four of again?”
“Uh, dicks. Four dicks.”
My body is a temple: Dusty, abandoned, and suitable as an introductory scenario for first-level adventurers
“You finished my sentence!”
“That’s because we’re in love!”
<Jess shouts “OH FUUUUUUCK” directly into my eye socket>
Jess accidentally spitting in my eye while talking turned into a ten minute spitting contest. Definitely ready for children
Aaalways, I wanna be with you, make belieeeve with you and live in harmony, harmo- “SHIT FUCK CUNT DAMMIT FUCK”
MISSED CONNECTION: You threw your coffee on the ground so I’d step in it when I got out of the car. Let’s meet up so I can kick you to death
Boyz II Menhirs: The story of a hip-hop group, and the basilisk who loved them
We’ve got lots of things planned for 2014 — settling in and making the house and garden really ours, new projects to deploy, and lots of fun new discoveries to look forward to. See you there!