a&a: nudie bum, fishy chicken and a little music therapy

As you’ll know if you’ve been keeping up to date that so far things have been…hectic.
With last weekend being such a disaster, I’ll be honest and say that this week I was at breaking point and I just didn’t want to go anywhere.

Thankfully Zac felt the same way and unable to buy me the flowers that he wanted to, to cheer me up, he did the next best thing and booked us in to a gorgeous little hostel with a pool and bathroom lights that work (not a dark, cold shower in sight).

Ending the week on a high, I was ready for Monday to come at me.

The awkward this week has been all Zac, but two moments really made me laugh.

Our school has cameras. They keep an eye on the main areas of the school and all the entrances, but there’s also a camera pointing at the top of the stairs that we use to access the toilet.
As far as we can tell, we’re the only people who use and have regular access to this toilet and we often think of it as ‘ours’ (purely because it doesn’t smell of piss and the floor is usually dry).

Zac is a naked sleeper.

Bed sheets go on, his clothes come off and at home he’ll just wander to the bathroom in the rudie nudie, comfortable in his choice of attire.
This toilet is ours.
He feels comfortable.

He’d nipped up to use the toilet and forgotten toilet paper (again), reappearing within a few seconds I looked up from my book to see that he was bollock naked, shaking his head at his mistake.
“Babe, where are you going?”
“I need the toilet, I forgot paper.” He was turning to leave, his mission urgent.
“There’s a camera at the top of the stairs. You know that, right? They’ve got a camera at the top of those stairs.”
He paused and half spun round his anger fading to despair, “I know there’s a fucking, oh God I forgot, I knew there was a camera and I forgot and I need the toilet and…”

I don’t now how many times he’s wandered up the stairs in the nude, but we’ll have those midnight dashes on infrared!

The second awkward moment came purely out of love and I’m teasing him lovingly on this score.
Rain every morning this week has made nipping out for breakfast a task we’ve just straight up skipped. But on Wednesday, I have a free first lesson, so Zac instructed me to wait for the rain and get breakfast for us as soon as it had stopped.
I don’t really like negotiating the roundabout in traffic, let alone wet traffic and while our little room at the top of the school sometimes feels like a prison, it was a cool cell I was comfortable retreating in to.
I was however hungry, so I put my social anxiety put to bed long enough to get croissants and deliver them.
Another hellish lesson with that class and I was ready to cry.
I laid down and didn’t want to move.
Eventually I heard Zac leaving, after he’d tucked me in to bed and told me to rest, he came back with chocolate, noodles and ham.
Triumphantly informing me lunch only cost 80 cents.

He went downstairs to prepare our instant noodles and came back up with guilt all over his face.
“It says chicken, but there’s fish in it, you can’t have it babe, I’m so sorry. It has fish. Fucking fish.”
I blinked, heard a rustle and the smell of smoked meat and had a thick cut of something salty pushed in to my mouth.
Taking my time to chew, I saw Zac’s shoulders sag.
“I’m so, so, sorry babe.”
“Is it cooked?”
“Sort of? It’s bacon.”

In spite of my horrible mood I started to smile, and then inside, began to laugh.
He’d done his best to look after us and venture out for a cheap lunch on his own and he’d come back with a partially cooked lunch I couldn’t even eat.

His heart’s in the right place though.
And that’s why I love him.


Thursday’s are meal days with the rest of the interns. We usually go somewhere a little more expensive (we’re talking $6 – $8) and I always look forward to the meals.
It’s such a great night, it’s lovely catching up with everyone and it always feels like a family dinner, the ones you had at Uni with your flat mates, the adoptive family, but family none the less, bonded by a shared experience.

Phnom Penh lane ways lit up, reminiscent of the hipster Melbourne network

Because everything is better with fairy lights!

With Kimlay out of town this week we’d arranged our own dinner, the restaurant – picked for its aesthetics – was tucked away in a little lane way, reminiscent of the lane ways in Melbourne. I was thrilled by the fairy lights and hipster feel of the place and slumped into a comfy chair, sipping on an iced tea.

Only thing was, when we looked at the menu, we just couldn’t afford to be eating there. While everyone else looked at the double figures and shrugged it off, for us, with a shared budget it just wasn’t going to happen. I was gutted and there was whispering so of moving on somewhere else as a group, so Zac and I did a recky and found a gyoza place we thought was perfect.

Triumphantly heading back to others, they’d already decided to stay.
We made our excuses again and walked back to the gyoza place.
I felt a tear rolling down my cheek and couldn’t work out why was the thing that made me cry, after everything else that had me angry and tired and frustrated this week.
Perhaps it was just missing out on that family time again.

Gyoza for me and a rice bowl for Zac, cheating with a fork because he still can’t use chopsticks

The food was incredible, and the cost for both of us with drinks was the same as one course at the Lemon Tree, so it was the right decision not to stay, but Zac could tell there was still something up.

With Boyce Avenue gently playing in the background he called the waitress over to request a song.
She smiled and in a few moments I heard Georgia playing through the now empty restaurant.

Our song.

I looked up at Zac who was just staring at me with that soppy look on his face and I couldn’t help but let myself be lost in the moment.
And be full of love and affection and emotion for the first time in what felt like forever.
We’re really here.
And this is actually incredible and beautiful in its own way.
And I’ve been wallowing.

Further morale boosting came from a welcome but unlikely source and I realised how far into a depression I was slipping.
Having suffered with depression most of my adult life (combined with social anxiety and occasionally a bit of panic), I’m not the best at recognising my symptoms, but I do at least now have some control over how to maintain the balance.

Writing is usually the first step.
Then surrounding myself with friends.
Then listening to Florence full blast.

I can’t make a tangible difference while I’m here, but I am least here.
We are here, we’re doing the best we can in the short time we have and the kids will be learning something from us, no matter how small it may seem.
And we’re having a bloody good adventure while we’re at it.

Regrets collect like old friends, here to relive your darkest moments,

And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back so shake him off.


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