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Amanda Bacchi – Moderator of Geeks. Keeper of Birds.

Pop Culture Librarian. Zombie Queen.

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Auxiliary Adventures

NEW FARM CLINIC: Day Two/Three – River Walkin

Things that have happened in the last two days:

– Paul, Mum, Dad, Erin, Nelson & Bryn have come to visit me which was the highlight of my days. I did 13,000 steps walking by the river today so hopefully will sleep well tonight – having a light shined at you every hour isn’t great for good sleep.

– The nurses still don’t like it when you tell them that you are going for a walk by the river. I just say ‘walk’ now. They ask if you feel ‘safe’ to leave. I said yes.

– Nelson is my therapy dog. He tried to kill cyclists by putting the biggest sticks he could find on the path.

– There is a black house on the river that looks like the Addams family live there (see pic).

– Overheard a girl asking for her shoes back. She had ‘absconded’ and the nurses took them away for 3 weeks so she couldn’t run away/leave again. (She still had socks)

– Nurse didn’t check me back in after I went for a walk yesterday and I got a flip out phone call asking where I was… but I was in my room watching ‘Mad as Hell’ with Paul.

– Returning from a walk today my bag was checked for knives/contraband (I didn’t have any).

– I am allowed out for 8 hours at a time on day leave and I might be here for about 2 weeks. My doctor says that I need to not be in such a rush for everything to work out with my medicine because it doesn’t work fast like I want it to so I can leave. Patience young grasshopper is what she meant to say.

– Yesterday it stormed. TWICE. As my illness is affected by the weather I did not appreciate the gloom.

– I made a ‘Relapse Prevention Plan’ in group therapy today. Working out what my warning signs are, how they are triggered, and specific coping plans for each. Eg. If I start feeling tired and not wanting to go walking, I should probably just go walking. Makes sense right? Wish it was that easy. Will have to work on it. I should also make it clear that by ‘relapse’ I don’t mean it in the usual drug related kind of way. It is about facing up to and trying to change or watch out for any negative behaviours that lead to exacerbation of anxiety or depression (in my case). Like not eating right, not leaving the house, not going to work etc.

– It is really hard to cut steak with a blunt butter knife. I didn’t bother asking for a steak knife because I knew what the answer would be.

– The phone alarm that has been going off all the time I am 82% sure is to wake my neighbour up to go and eat.

– A customer who comes into the library all the time asked me if I worked at the library. I said yes and continued walking. I turned around at dinner to find her sitting at the table next to me. Don’t know who sat down first. I tend to walk looking at the ground around here.

– Still don’t like going to the dining room alone. There were next to no tables left tonight because I left it later. Eating at 5.30pm is hard because I wake up in the middle of the night and need a snack. But if you don’t get in early then all the tables and fruit salad with watermelon is gone (terrible I know!). The food is really nice here though and there are 6 meals a day! I am going to be very fat, very soon. I ask for smaller amounts but apparently that means a heaped scoop of whatever I ask for. Maybe they are making up for the other people who don’t want to eat.

– And the most ridiculous thing to happen today. When the nurse came to take my blood pressure he noticed the framed drawing Paul had left to brighten up my room… and took the glass out of it because people had used such things in the past to hurt themselves. Sigh. The way the nurses talk to you sometimes, like you are a delicate flower. I know it is their job and I can only imagine some of the horrible things they must have seen, and all the times they must have been lied to. It’s no wonder they don’t trust any patient with anything. At least it is safe here.

– Being here makes me feel like an actual crazy person and I have to keep telling myself that this short-term, I will get better, and I am not an actual crazy person.

ABOVE: Addams family house
BELOW: The kitchen gave some left over rice to some cute pigeons out front ❤ (it’s the small things ok!!)

New Farm Clinic: Day 1 – Admission

In the past few months I have not been well… you may have noticed. Months of sporadic time off work, not being able to go to SES and concerts and missing lots of things I care about (like OCCMelb), and sometimes not having the capacity to feed myself, be left alone for long period of time, or even leave the house at all. On top of this, there has been years of psychiatrists who don’t listen, are too far away, and refuse to see me for months on end if I want to be bulk billed… Dad suggested that I try to get into the New Farm Clinic to get sorted out (because this is where the footballers go so they must get results! Sound logic!). So here I am. Absolutely terrified for days worrying about what it would be like, and now I am here and it’s only day one.

From the attire of those I first saw on my admission to the clinic, my days of pedantic worry in regards to not bringing formal enough casual clothes were completely unfounded. Sitting the required 5m away from the entry to the building was a small group of pyjama clad, ugg boot wearing, skinny, smoking teenagers. Although I knew I probably had zero in common with any of them (other than now being admitted to a mental clinic) I did felt a little less self-conscious (knowing that jeans would be ok!).

An overly manicured, young, blonde woman completed my admission details with the same tone and vigour as my boss… who doesn’t really care about people who have mental illness except for the fact that it is a part of her job she just has to deal with. Which is fine. You don’t get it unless you live it. That’s fine. I had Paul to cry on/holding my hand. She did mention that the website had changed with the visiting hours (to my horror) and then said that no, no, they had relaxed the rules and I can have visitors pretty much whenever in the daytime/evening (sigh on relief).

A lovely unit manager came and collected us and brought us up to what will be my residence (for god knows how long) in which I at least have my own small bedroom and ensuite to hide away in. After Paul left and my initial assessment was completed with the nurse (are you ok, what are you doing here, do you hurt yourself, are you going to kill yourself etc etc.), I had my first real break down since being here, being left on my own. I set to making the room feel less like a hospital space and more like I lived there (failed) by putting a Harry Potter scarf on the end of the bed, putting my clothes away, and spraying perfume about the place. So it just smelled like a Priceline that a messy teenager inhabited. Great fail. Luckily it wasn’t much longer before my new psychiatrist showed up and we sorted out some of what I will need to do. We have a solid plan. She is super lovely.

Turns out I am one of the lucky few, being not suicidal or having suicidal thoughts (at the moment). Just a medication change. Off one and on to another so that my moods can stabilise and I will be able to feel like I am a (mostly) normal human bean again. That will be nice. But today is the first day. And I don’t know for how may days I will be here. I don’t know what my side effects will be or if they will be severe from either commencement of new drugs or the withdrawal from another. I don’t know and neither do the staff.

My first interaction with another patient was the girl across the hall. I had read on the hospital website that you have to pay for the tv that was in my room. So I wheeled mine out into the hall. I have my Netflix. She was sitting on her bright pink bedspread in bring pink, fluffy pjs, her name was Amanda too (of course it was). She said it must be my first time here and not be afraid (I was crying at being spoken to by this nice – but obviously sicker than me – pink unicorn) but I could keep the tv, everyone has one these days (they really need to update that website!). She said not to do anything stupid or they would take all your stuff away, that they had taken all her stuff, and they were checking on her every 15 minutes. I was only getting checked on ever 30 minutes as a Category 3, but am now a Category 1 after assessment – every 2 hour checks. I feel pretty lucky because it means I can go out and go for walks by the river which will be really nice.

Dinner was sad. I didn’t want to go. I hate going alone to new places, let alone a mental hospital cafeteria. But after a few tears I finally dragged my starving butt down there and the food was really lovely (veggie risotto with extra veggies and fruit pudding!). I felt really bad though because I was scoffing it all down because I hadn’t eaten since lunch and I looked up from watching my iPad to see a big group of eating disorder patients. Some had feeding tubes. If you haven’t already, you should watch the Keanu Reeves movie ‘To The Bone’ on Netflix. But regime of support here seems really positive, as it does for me with the group sessions that I will start tomorrow.

My room overlooks a ice courtyard where I might go to read tomorrow. The person on the other side of the wall has a time set every hour and sometimes it just keeps going for flipping ages. I really hope that stops once everyone goes to bed. I wonder what its for. I recognised a woman who comes into the library from time to time, she is a beautiful old lady who reminds me of my late Nana. I don’t think she recognised me but that’s probably for the best. The nice nurse said to be friendly but not friends with the people here is for the best. That I just needed to stabilise and stay away from stressful things. My light keeps flickering. I’m going to bed. I hope it isn’t like last time I was in hospital and I woke up to someone down the hall murderously screaming. I was also told that people try to smoke in the building semi-regularly so be ready to be evacuated. Sigh.

Just keep telling myself that this is for the best. That I will be back at work soon, back doing all the things I care about. I might keep writing because I have nothing really better to do. So if you have questions about what it is like being in a mental hospital/clinic, or if you want to come and go for a walk with me then let me know. I will be here x

Marvel Exhibition @ GOMA

Cataract George Reserve, Launceston – Flora & Fauna

Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo Hide-Out Found! – Tasmania Holiday

South Esk River & Devonport Birdwatching – Tasmania Holiday

Backyard lushness 

 Other side of the river chums

Cloudy day walks

Common blackbird.

Who you callin common?!

Selfie by the trees

Very ‘The Shire’buckleberry ferry!!

chased this jerk around for 10mins and this was the best pic I got >_> don’t even know what it is… some type of wren or finch?

This guy was up on a electricity wire singing his little heart out ❤️so cute!! No idea what he is.gulls

Water bird of some description…

cute gull

Stone House Tasmanian Holiday Photos

Looks at this angry little muppet!! Fantail wren ❤

Pretty lady over looking the rose garden and river.

Noose tree!!!!!

National Library of Australia Blog Mention

The wonderful staff at the National Library of Australia have outdone themselves with this fantastic write-up of the Australian Comic Arts festival last Feburary. Although the library I work in has an extensive graphic novel collection, it is not often that I have the opportunity to interact with fellow librarians who share my intense passion for the medium. Finding librarians who truly understand (or want to understand) the ins and out of the Australian and international comic book industry, and the challenges that creators and librarians face, is a rare honour indeed.

As I was moderating other panels, I’m disappointed to say that I was unable to attend the library focused workshops provided by the brilliant Sydney based librarians Karen Dwarte and Alex Hammond. It was, however, great to see such a comprehensive write up in the NLA blog regarding not only the issues faced by collections teams, but also in providing some understanding and reason to comic creators who may want to connect, or distribute their work via library systems. They were spot on in saying that libraries are really looking for content across all age and reading levels, that is of value to the community, and that it is easier for them to loan graphic novels/trades rather than single issues due to shelf-life/damage issues. (hope I got that right!)

It was also interesting to read more about the NLA collection process for Legal Deposit; although I must point out, that in saying that Paul’s comics won’t ever be reprinted, they are referring to copies of the earlier single issues and one-shots only, not newer versions of ‘The Soldier Legacy’ or other work. This series was recently given an upgrade into 2 trades (as they are more popular), making the single issues limited edition, until sold out at conventions.

Big thank you to the National Library of Australia for taking Paul and I on such an amazing behind the scenes tour, for taking the time to chat about old back issues and their amazing work in comic book preservation, and for giving us a mention in the write-up below also (I’m not worthy!). It gave me excellent bragging rights at work 🙂

To read the full NLA blog post, click here: https://www.nla.gov.au/blogs/behind-the-scenes/2016/04/19/connecting-with-comic-creators

Comic Book Chuck Tributes by Paul

On the 23rd of April 2015, my partner lost her special friend “Chuckie”. He had become someone special to me as well, a personality like no other. The loss hit us very hard. I had the opportunity to contribute to Comicoz‘s ‘Australia!’ anthology last year, which was created to raise money for Beyond Blue; and since Chuckie assisted the fight against depression on a day-to-day basis, and was a “supervisor” on later issues of ‘The Soldier Legacy’, I was compelled to bring him into ‘Soldier’ continuity too. A cheeky character on and off the pages, he was our little Aussie hero, and we miss him greatly, every day.

Rest in peace, Chuckie. ~Paul13048102_1035509966537126_7146494042570758502_o

North Brisbane Bird Sale 2016

ANZAC Test 2016: Rabbitohs v. Broncos

New Camera Shots at #chaosfarm


   


  

Chuck by Erin

Remembering Chuck (by Paul)

Every morning when Amanda is up before me, she goes downstairs and brings up he pet bird Chuck, who says “Good morning!”. What I often found amusing was that he would even say this when he would go to sleep for the night. Though he could say “Good” by itself (usually when starting he is being a “Good Boy!” Or a little grosse, stating he did a “Good Poopie”) and “night”, he could never pull off “good night”. I like to think he was trolling us, with that cheeky beady-eyed state of his.

When I drive home from work everyday, there’s this loud, squarky little voice that calls out from inside the house- Chuck was like a guard dog, sensing everything from approaching cars to uninvited birds in “his” garden. I would approach his cage, and he would climb down his ladder and branches like an armless spider-man, quietly grumbling and whistling at the bottom as if to say “nice to see you. But don’t touch my stuff.” I’d hold up a sunflower seed, he’d pause and come to the edge of the cage, and with his little but strong voice, say “I love you”, and happy squeak in approval while munching on his seed.

084 - CopyChuck loved his food. The mornings when I was home for breakfast, I would make up my Tupperware bowl of wheetbix, dried fruit Muesli and cereal, and as I’d walk out of the kitchen, I’d save him a piece of fruit. Throughout the day, if I’d go to the cupboard for a Muesli bar, I’d always give him first bite. At night, if I was cooking Amanda and I dinner, I’d chop him a tiny serve of veggies- peas and corn was his favourite, and I learnt recently that he was big on Zucchini, which is fantastic, since I call it “the devil’s vegetable”; I was happy to part with my share. Sometimes he was cheeky enough to con his way out of the cage at breakfast, sitting on the edge of the container, picking at the cereal, and flicking soy milk-soaked coconut flakes and soggy oat crumbs onto me.

210When it’s time to leave for the day, a simple wave at him would prompt him to say “bye!”- in a particularly Aussie twang. I often heard him repeating the word as we locked up the house and head to the car. Sometimes, he’d say it without prompt, simply because I had finished packing my bag and was heading for the door.

 

Life has been hectic for a while now; teaching, finalising the doctorate, writing and teaching Uni tutes and lectures, freelance and spec work, comic book drawing, and trying to find time to sleep and spend a little time with Amanda. But my favourite part of the day is usually after dinner, where Amanda and I sit in the couch to watch a little tv before I’d go back to work, with Chuckie always opting to sit on my knee, quietly preening before snoozing. Sometimes if he was really drowsy, he’d let me scratch him on the head, or if laying down, on the belly, without his usual attempt to take a chunk out of me. He would also sit on my knee while I drew- I recall a number of recent soldier pages and commissions being scribbled with Chuck “The supervisor” either sitting on me or nearby on the back of a chair; Somedays if he felt I wasn’t paying him enough attention, he’d take it upon himself to remind me by taking a small chunk out of a finger, knee or stomach, but nine times out of ten, he was content to sit, after years of sitting with Amanda while she read. It got to the point that he visited the drawing board so often, his own container of seeds sits at the top of the desk, and “Chuck the supervisor” got a special thanks in the credits of the latest comic book.paul and chuck drawing comics <3

Shower time was fun; Chuck would strut around the top of the shower like a nazi general, or like he owned the joint, wolf whistling, or gibbering to Amanda; he loved warm water, and would say over and over “Do you wanna have a shower?” Despite already being in one. Amanda would talk about her day while Chuck would comment “really?” And would lean out from the shampoo holder to sip some warm water from the shower head. When Amanda would ask “where’s Paul?” Chuck would start yelling that squawk he does when one of us drives home, not stopping until I walked into the bathroom, asking “what are you doing?” If I walked back out. Then he would grumble and shake his head when it was my turn to shower, clearly not a fan of “dudes”, but would happily sip warm water off my index finger, albeit under mild protest until going back to whistling, or wrestling with a tube of facial scrub. Amanda’s Dad taught Chuck “Pop goes the weasel”, though for the life of me I could never figure out why he always dropped the third last note. After the shower, he would play with a small pile of toilet rolls on top of the sink, and I would sometimes spend a stupid amount of time standing there in a towel while Chuck and I clicked and made Predator growls into the tubes, while he would laugh like the laugh track from the sitcoms he’d watch with Amanda.cheekygrin

He constantly made us laugh. Only just last week while packing for Perth or Adelaide, Amanda and I were in quiet hysterics last week- if you’re quiet enough in the morning, Chuck would forget we are still home, and would use the opportunity to practice his “English”. Usually a warm up of “Pop goes the weasel”, followed by a Dr Doom- rivalling “Chuckula, hah hah hah haaaaaaaaahh”- like some sort of tiny super villain. He pauses the evil laughing by announcing loudly he has “pooped”, followed by a series of “Get to tha choppaahhhh!”- something I was immensely proud of.

I recall him once climbing down from the top of the couch, onto the floor, wandering out to the kitchen whistling like I was his lost dog when I walked out of the room. Another time, he walked in squeaking to get my attention, nipping me on the foot, and laughing like a maniac while he ran away. Actually, no, he stood there- taking full advantage of the fact that I wouldn’t do anything about it, the cheeky sod.

The last night he spent at home was the night after we returned from Adelaide. He was a bit quiet, but surprisingly affectionate- I think he reached up for at least half a dozen little beak kisses while he sat on top of his cage. I gave him a seed or two, and he said “I love you” and “Bye” as Amanda put him to bed. The next morning, something was wrong with him, and Amanda was preparing to take him to the vet. As I left for work, his “Bye” had a quiver in it.

This was the last time he spoke to me.087

In the afternoon after work, I had a few minutes before the vet closed to visit him. He was very tired, but allowed me to scratch his head. Perhaps he knew it was the last time I’d see him. I was hoping to be awake early enough before work to visit before my lecture, but I was up very late as usual putting slides together that I didn’t get a chance . I still regret this deeply, and can’t say it’s not the first time I’ve been frustrated by my commitments, but am thankful I still got to see him the day beforehand.

Though I’ve only had a bit over 14-15 months with him, I’m so honoured and thankful that I got to bond with Amanda’s amazing bird, that she shared him with me, and taught me so much about him. I may have jokingly called him my “sometimes friend”, but really he was my best little friend. A small human being with a golden personality. Sometimes a “floor shark”, sometimes a “noisy Chuckett”, sometimes made my finger bleed, but always made me smile. The tears will go away soon, but the many stories and memories I’ll cherish forever. Amanda took such good care of him; he was very loved, spoilt and we were blessed to have him.

I miss him.

Good morning, Chuck.
I love you.

A very damp musical adventure…

Triple J One Night Stand Dalby 2012

So for most of last week I was receiving daily phone calls from my interstate friends who were trying to convince me to go the Triple J One Night Stand concert. I was straight up NO. no way. Nope. Nuh uh. Not gonna happen. I don’t know any of those terrible hipster bands, it’s going to rain for sure AND it’s in Dalby of all places!!! Dalby, for those of you who have never heard of the place (which I’m assuming is most of you) is an hour West of Toowoomba (where I live), and about 3 hours West of the capital, Brisbane. I was like, end of story, not going. Continue reading “A very damp musical adventure…”

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