Category: flashback

Loki The Mercy Killer

Loki the Mercy Killer

My best mate Loki has taught me many things in life, do things properly, cleanliness is kinda important, sport is fun, its ok to eat a whole block of chocolate in the supermarket… Recently he even showed me how to tie my shoes using the loop method, a knot that has evaded me ever since primary school. But arguably the most important lesson he has bestowed upon me is that sometimes you have to execute animals.

The First Kill

The first time I saw Loki administer a mercy kill I was visiting him at his house in Hectorville. He had been banging on about this garden he had been working on. I followed him outside to feign interest in his seedlings, vaguely hoping he might have already grown something I could eat. Amongst the rows of green veggies sprouting from the beautifully turned soil lay an injured rainbow lorikeet. Loki’s garden pride dissipated as he started muttering about what pieces of shit cats are. Without looking me in the eye he calmly strode over to the shed and picked up the large garden fork leaning by the door. I stood by watching curiously, I wasn’t used to people doing difficult things without making a big hullabaloo. He bashed the bird in the head with the fork and we were both surprised when it bounced up into the air like a rubber chicken. Loki went for a couple more bashes, up and down it went, lying on the ground slowly moving its beak in between beatings. Not wanting to continue needlessly clobbering a dying animal he lifted the fork up above the badly damaged bird, lining up its heaving chest in the firing line of the central prong. Down came the fork, perfectly aimed it plunged through the breast and into the soil beneath. We looked at each other with relief, the deed was done. Loki lifted the fork and we were both surprised to see that the lorikeet remained impaled upon the prong, the calm was broken and Loki broke into a series of breathy swearwords as he roughly jiggled the fork trying to dislodge the bird. After a big plunge into the soil and a nudge from a Dunlop sneaker the bird was free. It was at this moment that River the cat decided to show herself, she stalked across the lawn towards us. She was doing that weird cat walk where they lift their paws up really high as if they are really disgusted by accidentally touching the grass. Suddenly the garden fork was held high in the air and Loki rushed at her with a big hiss and angry sumo foot stamps.

“Fucken cats!”

River was up the fig tree in a flash and glared angrily down at us. I rushed to her defence in an attempt to diffuse the situation but Loki wasn’t having it. He went inside and I stood by the tree with River idly eating figs and contemplating what had just gone down.

The Most Serious Kill

It was a savagely hot Australian summer and we were driving home from visiting Loki’s sister in Coober Pedy. On the radio people were talking about frying eggs on shovels. We stopped for a quick sandwich in the shade and in the time it took for us to slap some cheese and bread together, the slices of bread had already started to toast. Luckily Loki’s dad had leant us his Colorado ute so we had a substantial vehicle to combat our outback conditions. Unluckily, Loki wanted me to learn how to drive a manual and it was my turn to take the wheel. It was ok when we were tearing along the long straight roads, but stopping and starting made me break out in a wild sweat, especially passing through towns where I’d have to reduce speed or god forbid give way to something. As we cruised along I quizzed Loki about what we would do if we hit an animal and needed to mercy kill it. I suggested parking the ute on top or repeatedly running it over. Loki was unimpressed and assured me that we would cut the throat of any suffering animals that crossed our path. Satisfied that we had a game plan and Loki seemed prepared to carry it out I stopped pushing the park the car on top of animals idea.

I could see a train approaching on the railway tracks parallel to the road, excitedly I pointed it out to Loki and we eagerly anticipated looking at the train as it zoomed past. Not a lot of stuff going on in the desert. And that’s when it happened. I felt a tiny bump and glimpsed a grey flash in my rear vision mirror.

“Shit shit shit I hit something.” It took me about 500 metres to figure out how to stop the car.

I felt a big knot of nausea in my belly, as Loki and I traded places

“I don’t think you hit anything, I didn’t see anything.” Loki slowly steer the car back towards the spot.

“I’m certain I did.”

In the distance we could see a small kangaroo trying to drag itself across the road. One of its legs was completely mangled. We pulled over and started walking towards the scene. It was a joey and it was screaming. Another kangaroo, presumably its mother, appeared from the scrub by the road and watched in horror.

“Stay here.”

I stood frozen by the Colorado, tears streaming down my face as Loki approached the joey. I looked at the ute and started wondering if it would be a good time to remind him about how we could park the ute on top of the joey for a nice hands-free mercy kill. Meanwhile, without hesitation, Loki dove head first into the most hands on mercy kill imaginable, the strangle. He knelt down next to the teenage kangaroo and firmly gripped its neck in his hands, the older kangaroo kept its distance but maintained eyes on the situation.

It turns out strangling takes ages, every time Loki thought he had finally finished the job and released his hands the joey would take a slow deep breath and resume living. He knelt into its chest to try and push the air out of its lungs. I went from desperately sad and guilty to kinda impatient and bored. I can only imagine the kangaroo spectator shared a similar emotional journey. Satisfied that his efforts had put the kangaroo out of its misery Loki returned. He had some tears on his face and a stoic expression. We shared a long hug and I cried a bit more but I was curious and started peppering him with questions.

“What about the knife plan? How did it feel? Why did it take so long? How old was it do you think? Have you ever strangled something before? Should we have just parked the car on it? Are you going to tell your parents? Do you think that was its mum watching?”

He struggled through my question fire and it occurred to me that what he had just done might not have been an easy act to commit to.

We got back in the car, Loki driving now and sat in silence for a few kilometres. I decided to cheer up my friend and tried to make a joke about mercy killing. It was way, way, way, way, way, WAY too soon.

A few days later we were jumping around on rocks at Alligator Gorge pretending to be ninjas. I did a series of cool moves along a trail of rocks and turned around proudly to see how impressed Loki was. He was crouched down with a medium sized rock raised above his head. We made eye contact briefly before he smashed the rock down onto the ground. I had trodden on a small frog crushing the lower half of its body and rendering it completely fucked but still completely alive. He probably wouldn’t even have mentioned it if I hadn’t caught him out. I was touched by how willing he was minimise suffering, both mine and that of critically injured animals and I vowed that if a situation presented itself, I would step up and execute a mercy killing.

My moment

We were living in Laos, a developing country wedged in between Thailand, Vietnam, China and Cambodia. I had actually just completed my first ever mercy kill, our housemate’s dog had caught a mouse and messed it up enough to render it past the point of recovery. I went stone cold mercy killer hero on the situation and drowned it in a plastic bag. This proved to me that I had what it took to take on any future mercy killings. A week or two before we were due to leave Laos and embark on our next adventure (Portugal) I was faced with a very difficult situation.

After my last shift at work I was riding into town to meet some friends for drinks when I was confronted by a bit of scene at a busy intersection. A tiny kitten had been hit by a car and was writhing on the road and screaming in agony. I pulled over in the hope that I could witness it getting killed by a car so that I wouldn’t feel bad about not mercy killing it when suddenly things got a lot more complicated. All too quickly, one of the Dutch ladies from my work came tearing into the middle of the intersection on her bike in a wild panic. She held up hands towards oncoming traffic, optimistically hoping that Lao drivers might look up from their phones to notice her on the road. She grabbed the kitten and awkwardly manoeuvred her bike and the tiny cat to safety on the side of the road. I wheeled my bike over to join her and to survey the scene. She was bleeding everywhere, the kitten had savagely scratched and bitten her in its frenzied terror. Its back two legs were completely fucked and it was a real mangey little fella. The cat had to die. The Dutch woman was pretty rattled and implored me to dig around in her bag for tissues, meanwhile I thought only of our mercy killing predicament. One of the Brits from our workplace suddenly appeared on his bike, for a moment I was relieved, thinking to myself, “now someone else can take the lead”, but he doddered around looking like he deeply regretted stopping by. A Lao tuktuk driver wandered over to see what the fuss was about and seemed confused about why we were bothering with the cat at all.

I tried to convey what I was thinking to our bung little crew. We needed to kill the cat, it was definitely going to die no matter what so the most humane thing to do would be to kill it. The foreigners agreed, the tuktuk driver smiled serenely. There was a fountain nearby, I thought we should drown the cat. I was pretty confident that I could do it but then it occurred to me that we were in the land of potentially rabid animals and if I got bitten or scratched by the cat then I would need to get a series of rabies injections. I was leaving the country in two weeks and was not keen on trying to organise the subsequent immunisations in a new country. I explained my reluctance, and gently tried to urge the Dutch woman to do it since she was already scratched and bitten and would have to get the rabies shots anyway. She wasn’t keen. I felt frustrated because had she not “rescued” the cat from the road it would have just gotten run over and properly killed soon enough. We stood dumbly around the screaming, crippled kitten.

“Can’t you smash it with a big rock?” asked the Brit.

I contemplated this idea and the Tuktuk driver wandered around aimlessly, apparently hunting for a rock, but also possibly just bored and taking the opportunity to execute a meandering escape.

I was ready to drown an animal wrapped in a cardigan, I was ready to put a large vehicle on top of an animal but I could tell that I wasn’t ready to straight bludgeon an animal with a rock.

“I just don’t think I can.”

We were winding down, our ideas became less and less likely to be carried out. As we were revisiting the drowning idea for the tenth time, the kitten, seeking refuge dragged itself under a nearby hedge. It was sufficiently obscured from view for us to adopt an out of sight, out of mind approach and get out of there. As we got on our bikes I said with ashamed optimism “Cats are pretty tough, that guy will probably adapt to its new life with only two functioning legs”.

No one agreed, the focus was definitely on the Dutch woman’s injuries by this point. I think I carried the burden of the mercy kill fail shame.

In retrospect, I wish I had just bashed the damn cat. I’m ready for the next one.

The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse Part III

The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse

Part III – Laos and Lisboa

 After Melbourne, things definitely got better and less rodent ridden. I also upgraded my life partner from one who made my life into chaos to one who encouraged me to be a better me, so that was great. I lived in a few share houses before Loki got brave enough to allow me to share his space. He had seen my talent for creating instant piles of things everywhere and my concerning lack of interest in doing dishes and laundry and other very boring things like that. He trained me with the classic ‘lead by example’ method. Sometimes I find myself choosing to ignore an obvious chore that needs to be done but a little voice in my head pipes up and asks ‘What would Loki do?’ and I sigh to myself because every time Loki would just do the chore, and do it properly. Dumb Loki.

Loki was offered a law job in Vientiane, the capital of The People’s Democratic Republic of Laos, so off we went on a new adventure to a new land of new pests. All the pests in Laos seemed a bit more sinister because I suspected everything would carry some kind of debilitating disease. Mosquitos were definitely an enemy, our housemate Tom assured us that we would definitely get dengue sometime during our stint in Vientiane, however our house and garden had been fumigated fairly recently because he himself had had a dengue dalliance. Any dog in the street was to be viewed as potential rabies threat, the cats were just gross and mangey, the geckos were generally nice guys but the big ones frequently delivered huge and surprisingly stinky shits in the house. Whilst I’m listing pests I might as well mention the drunk road users, the sober road users, the corrupt police that will fine you for made up traffic infringements, eternally delicate stomach situations, inadequate water management, ticks and of course, mice. Before I get into my Lao mouse story I need first tell you about the light of my adult life, Subi the Lab cross Rottie (check out #subithelabxrottie if you want an injection of joy in your day).

Subi, otherwise known as ‘Sniffer’, ‘Mr Sniff’, ‘Soobs’, ‘Sniffington’, ‘The Water Buffalo’ and ‘Bonehead’ is a big black dog weighing in at 50 kilos, probably because he has a heart of the purest gold. His interests include eating and sniffing trash, pretending not to eat trash but actually eating trash really fast, getting on the couch, walks, Tom getting home, swimming, birthday meals prepared by Prae (our other housemate), playing hide and seek and lying on the floor. He doesn’t like getting brushed, kong biscuits, really loud noises, not getting a treat at bedtime, losing sight of his mates when walking, not being allowed on the couch, trying to go down steep stairs and mice trying to take over his homestead. An unlucky part of dog life in Laos is dealing with ticks. Poor Subi would get so many ticks and we would try to pull them all off but they just kept on coming and coming. Luckily they didn’t seem to care about humans but they would appear all over the house and we would need to get the place tick sprayed. Tick spraying was so rough, everything thing in the house would be covered with toxic residue that would make your skin burn for weeks. Despite the poisoning, we really loved living in this house, Tom and Prae were great housemates and we are all so obsessed with Subi that we have a group chat called the Subi Appreciation Society.

Subi contemplating his birthday meal.

Part of life in Laos as an expat was having a ‘Maeban’ (house cleaner). Our first one hated it when I suddenly appeared. Her name was Peng and she worked five days a week, until my arrival she had the whole place to herself all day and could trundle around doing whatever she liked. When there was a jobless Australian lying around the house all day she was understandably put out and kept asking me optimistically when I was going to go back to Australia. Upon my arrival she stopped making Loki’s bed, I guess she thought I should do it (I mean, I know I should but when you are paying someone to do it, they gotta do it right?). She also took to turning a portrait of me that my mum had painted around so that it faced the wall. I felt weird being at home lazily watching Netflix and pole dancing with a silent enemy pretending to dust around me and she was dropping the ball in many aspects of her job requirements so we decided to cut her back to 3 days a week, it was my job to tell her. She straight didn’t believe me and just said no. It was amazing how quickly complaining about the help became a commonplace part of my life. I remember the first time I whinged about Peng to friends in Adelaide and they were like ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ Anyway, to cut a long story short, Mr Tom came home, fired Peng (I won this round), Prae designed a comprehensive plan to find a replacement and we ended up with Bua. I quite liked Bua but she wasn’t a great Maeban either. I certainly don’t have a natural flair for housework but she was so un-intuitive that I was constantly astonished. She managed to bash three identical holes in the fly screen with the iron.

Even in a house with paid cleaner, and three adults who were responsible and tidy, and one adult who was trying to ‘do what Loki would do’ WE STILL HAD MICE! I was scared of these mice because I was certain they would be carrying some kind of tropical mouse malaria. They were getting into everything, eating through Tupperware to get at rice, shitting on the countertops, wandering all over the pots and pans. Luckily, we had a secret weapon, Subi the Mouse Hunter. Subi would get so jacked if he spotted a mouse and would spend the following few hours greedily huffing mousey scents off every surface imaginable. He did the biggest, longest sniffs; Tom would encourage him ‘ Get it Subi!’ and he would a big surge of mouse hunting energy and do another lap of the kitchen. (click here to see Subi having a good ole mouse sniff hunt) He was so big and the mice were so small, it was such a good joke, that big, beautiful Bonebrain would never manage to catch a mouse.

Then he caught a mouse.

Unfortunately, only Prae and I were home when it happened. Subi was behind the kitchen counter and we could hear weird slurping sounds and faint squeaking. Worried that the mouse might escape Subi’s clutches and run at us so we stood on chairs and surveyed the situation. We looked at each other in a panic and Prae whipped out her phone to document Subi’s big victory. Eventually we dismounted our chairs and peeked over the bench to see what Subi was up to. There we saw a cute little mouse lying in a big puddle of dog slobber, eyes wide, tiny chest beating hard. Subi was so proud of himself, he couldn’t believe it and we showered him with praise and Bok Doks (Subi snacks). But that left us with the problem of the mouse. It didn’t really feel right to let Subi keep mashing it into various different nooks and crannies until he eventually crushed it do death. I wished Loki was there because he is great dealing with inconveniences for me. I took a deep breath because  I knew what Loki would do.

Mercy Kill.

‘Prae we gotta kill this mouse.’ Prae’s little face went from full of dog pride to clouded with business mode. I didn’t fuck around, I got a plastic bag and put the mouse in it. Prae distracted the mouse hunter with Bok Doks and praise. I took the mouse outside and filled the bag with water and then held it submerged in a big pond for good measure. Satisfied with my mercy kill, I tossed the mouse in the compost and went back inside to join the Bok Dok party.


This brings me to my current living arrangement. I live in Lisbon with Loki, Shanelle from Canada and Vasco from Porto. Probably the weirdest things that go on in my house are Vasco related antics. He’s a self-described ‘relax guy do Porto’ who works insanely long hours as a tour guide. He’s always bringing home regional specialties or fruit and veg procured from relatives up north. He is no good at Ikea furniture, he doesn’t like tap water, he hates greed and capitalist mindsets but he loves gambling online, he loves smoking weed and snoozing so he always falls asleep and loses his winnings. He invented a soup that I call ‘broccoli island’, it’s just pumpkin soup with massive broccolis thrown in, he likes the broccoli to have a crunch. He also has a collection of about 300 lanyards. Shanelle also doesn’t excel when it comes to Ikea furniture but she makes up for it by being even tidier than Loki and should be commended for her seemingly endless energy for nightlife activities. All good stuff.

Shockingly, even on the fourth floor of a central Lisbon apartment, we were confronted with a mouse problem. They were the cutest mice you ever did see, we named them all Ferguson. These guys were too brave, one even ran across a chopping block as I was cutting up mushrooms. It only took about 15 minutes to catch one using the box and string method. Being big hearted vegetarians we didn’t want to kill little Ferguson so we took him outside and left him in an abandoned lot with a big hunk of ‘sorry for catching you’ cheese. We returned a few hours later to see if Ferguson had eaten his cheese, he hadn’t. Either he was in too deep a state of shock to bother with it or, he had lost his trust in humans and crawled away to die. Either way, we realised that this seemingly humane way of dealing with mice really just made them suffer for a lot longer before they eventually died slowly, somewhere weird and different with tainted sorry cheese. Loki went out and bought a traditional snap trap and we murdered the rest of the Fergusons in cold blood. They died doing what they loved, mouse stuff.







The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse Part II

The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse

Part II – Melbourne


My next rodent infested house was luckily so messy no one really noticed that we had rats. Once we all moved out, the house was renovated and they found an entire rat civilisation just below the surface of all the trash. Apparently it was quite a well organised society, they put us to shame.

Following that was the mouse saga of my dilapidated, possibly haunted Melbourne sharehouse in Coburg. I was living with my precariously drug addicted boyfriend who I will call Barry for the sake of this story, and our bong-smoking, grocery-stealing, hippy queen Kat. Kat was definitely the boss, but she also had a lot of really tough shit going on in her life and it was easy to forget that she was just as bung as everyone else and that she couldn’t fix everything. Barry was useless in most situations except for spending all his money on drugs and needing to be fed. I’m writing this with the bitterness of getting older and knowing better, but at the time I was very sympathetic and just wanted to help him and have an interesting life. We found our house on Gumtree, our landlords were semi-affectionally nicknamed ‘MickMark’ because we had no idea who we were dealing with, their contact was so sporadic and confusing. No one showed up to the viewing to meet us so we called ‘Mark’ from the listing on Gumtree, he just told us to break in round the back and see if we liked the place.

$400 a week, four bedroom, no bond, paint the walls? Smash the windows? No problem, the whole place is coming down as soon as all the paperwork is in order.

Dream house.


When we moved in we discovered that someone had ripped all the copper pipes out and none of the plumbing was working. We bathed in an ice cold spray from a broken pipe out the side of the house. We went to the local pub, the Moorland Hotel if we thought we might like to do a poo that didn’t have to be flushed with a bucket of water. We spent days trying to contact Mark, to no avail. In the meantime, Kat called upon the hordes of hippies lining up to do her bidding and along came Marty the Feng Shui plumber. I didn’t like him at all, there was just something about him that put me off, but of course the other two were seemingly wild about the guy. With Kat I could never tell if she genuinely liked someone or if she had detected the value that a good relationship with them would award to her team. She was always looking out for good eggs and good opportunities. Barry was just an atrociously bad judge of character. He was just so taken with the concept of ‘Feng Shui Plumbing’ that he was instantly irritatingly keen on old mate Marty. It turned out that Feng Shui plumbing was garden hose and cheap metal clampy things in place of copper piping. We were invoiced $400. I was unimpressed, scratch a hippie, smell a capitalist.

Then a guy called Mick texted us about the plumbing. Turns out our landlords didn’t really understand a lot of stuff about landlording and straight out refused to reimburse us the $400. The plumbing situation later deteriorated into an electrical hazard. Every time we showered we had to make sure to stand on a rubber flip flop on the floor when we touched the tap. Failing to do so would result in an electric shock strong enough to make it momentarily difficult to remove your hand from the metal tap.

The house was basically a swamp, it was definitely housing some weird juju and French people tried to squat in it. One morning I was lying in bed watching gossip girl when I heard a little ‘yooo hooooooo?’ at the door. Begrudgingly I dragged myself out of my nest and went to the door wrapped in my doona. ‘Hello! This is a squat yes?’ As I opened the door the French were immediately within the doorway, heads eagerly surveying the interior of the house. ‘Our squat is down the street but we just got kicked out today’, eye contact is made and they silently wait for me to invite them to join our squat. ‘Uh we actually pay money to live here’. The French faces are cast with disbelief and I close the door and crawl back to the bed to write a Facebook post about what just happened.

Here is the front porch, possibly what led the French to believe our palace was a squat. We later got in trouble for this because apparently it was a hazard for people driving past, they were too impressed by how cool and edgy our house was that they forgot to drive properly.

And here is a snapshot of the ‘Black and White Room’. MickMark were so taken with our wall painting efforts that they brought their families around unannounced on Christmas Eve for an ‘art viewing’.

This house ended up becoming very He Died With A Felafel In His Hand-esque after Barry and I moved out. Kat and the new tenants hatched a plan to get out of paying the rent. They created a very unreliable, very irresponsible and very unreachable housemate called Dylan. Dylan was always stealing all the rent money or skipping town when the rent was due. Knowing that MickMark were incompetent and that we had already made such a huge mark on the house, there was no way they’d ever find new tenants. Dylan’s fictional betrayals escalated and many a dollar was saved by the savvy Kat.

I realise I have digressed from the all-important mouse theme, but it’s crucial to set the scene. This house was different from my other sharehouses, it was a bit gross and it was a pretty messy but there was no chook bucket and Kat was pretty good at reigning in complete chaos when she wanted to. There was something deeply rotten in the house and I think that gave the incoming mice population some kind of dark power I had never experienced before. Upon reflection, I am not even sure that I won this war, I guess I made it out alive, that’s something.

One of my best mates, Staz came to live with us for a while. This was very good for me because even though we were both a bit munt and scummy, we were also just way less bogged down by ourselves than the others. We could find fun in any situation, playing the recorder through a nostril, cheesecake, photos of Jennifer Aniston, spying and most importantly, mouse hunting. Of course I boasted about the tried and tested box and stick method but when put into practice, we couldn’t catch anything. These Melbourne mice were way too wily. We experimented a lot, most notably we tried out a bucket placed under a cardboard tube, balanced artfully so that when a mouse went into the tube to get at the peanut butter bait inside they would tumble down into the bucket and be trapped (see diagram).

We actually caught quite a few mice using this method, however there was an unexpected complication, the mice KEPT JUMPING OUT OF THE BUCKET. We saw it happen! We toyed with adding water to the bucket but, alas, we just weren’t ready to kill, despite my having thrown a mouse off a bridge. Eventually we got one mouse before it jumped out of the bucket and proudly traipsed off down the street to release it in someone else’s garden. Then things went a bit dark.

Staz moved out and Barry and I kept having terrible fights that were largely me getting upset because he kept taking shit loads of drugs with reckless abandon and then complaining about his terrible mental health but also refusing to accept that the drugs were making the situation infinitely worse. After discovering he cared so little about what I thought that he had he used my phone to try to buy heroin I decided to leave for a few days. I went to stay with Staz in a nice mouse free zone. There was a chlamydia ridden galah at her house but that’s a can of worms I ain’t opening right now. After a few days hanging out with semi-sane people Barry eventually started sending me nice texts and seemed to be in better spirits so I deemed it safe to return home. I was working fulltime at a shoe store and it was definitely better for my routine to live at my own house. When I walked in the front door and wandered into the lounge room I was surprised by how much darker and danker the house seemed. Something weird had gone down and I didn’t much care for the vibes I was picking up on. There was a tent in the middle of the lounge, entrance pointed towards Barry’s ‘office’. His office was a damp little room tacked onto the side of the house where he kept his computer, hid his drugs, picked old bits of weed out of the carpet and sometimes pissed in buckets to avoid interacting with the outside world. Barry heard me enter the room and his head suddenly appeared at the office door at a horizontal angle, blonde hair blasting off in all directions and brown eyes glinting with religious fervour.

His long body followed his head in one big long, clumsy slither and his story was in full swing before I even knew what it was about.

There had been a serious mouse offensive, otherworldly in fact. The humans no longer control the space, hence the tent of course, it’s the only safe haven, we’re sleeping in the tent tonight it’s the only safe option. It all started when he was squatted in front of his computer, no doubt contemplating some kind of complex and unproductive programming endeavour when he felt a presence in the room. He turned around and discovered a gang of mice staring at him. There was a moment of silent acknowledgement before the mice struck. They had formed an arrow head formation and charged the unsuspecting Barry. Outnumbered and terrified Barry kicked out wildly and ran for his life. Realising that he could never win this round, he set up his trusty tent and bunkered down for the next few days waiting for his treacherous girlfriend to return and listen to his wonderfully dramatic tale and maybe cook him a nice hot meal.

Not sure what to believe about the humans vs mice situation, I spent that night in the tent not wanting to become a victim of the arrowhead formation. I quizzed Kat the next day about the war that waged within our walls and she seemed largely unconcerned. I made Barry pack up the tent.


Part III coming soon!

The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse Part I

The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse

Part I

When I was a teenager I saw (and later read) He Died With A Felafel In His Hand  and it instantly became my favourite thing ever. Before I’d even heard anything about the film I had already collected multiple promotional postcards with Noah Taylor’s broken little face on them to stick in my school diary*.

* School diaries ARE A PLANNING TOOL! You aren’t meant to fill them with artwork and photos and poems. I learnt this the hard way, my mum eventually got called into the school for a very serious meeting where we both ended up crying over the injustice of my creative self-expression being repressed by the oppressive school rules.

I went absolutely bananas for He Died With A Felafel In His Hand. I loved the soundtrack, I loved the Australian-ness, I loved the unsatisfying love story and the horrible characters. Dad and I had struck a deal sometime during year 10—get at least a B for maths and I could move the spare tellybox into my bedroom. I bought the DVD and I watched it so many times. The only thing I couldn’t quite stomach was that the whole thing seemed a bit farfetched. For those of you who don’t know the story, it’s about a guy called Danny who drifts from shitty Australian sharehouse to shitty Australian sharehouse. Each house has its own set of disaster people and wild antics, meanwhile Danny is vaguely orchestrating some kind of credit card fraud which he is fairly ambivalent about. I think he lives in at least 48 sharehouses all together.


Firstly, 48 sharehouses seemed extremely excessive. I didn’t buy it. Secondly, the weirdness of the characters and their behaviour was just too silly, too random, too unbelievably lacking in foresight that I just couldn’t accept that adults would be so stupid.

However, I am now a wizened 31 year old with 19 sharehouses under my belt (not including sharehouses of partners or best mates where I contributed to culture of the house but wasn’t officially living there). Now I know that the outlandish characters from He Died With A Felafel In His Hand  weren’t as farfetched as I had thought, I also know with certainty that for several poor souls out there, I was that weird housemate that did completely inexplicable, mental shit that they still tell their friends about over a bottle of wine. But those are different stories for a different time, this story is about a very impressive skill that I have developed during my 14 years as a housemate.

After years of trial and error, I consider myself to be a master mouse catcher.

I grew up in the Adelaide Hills, we had a big garden and heaps of chickens. One of the jobs I tried my best to avoid as a kid was ‘taking the chook bucket out’. The chook bucket was just a bucket of food scraps that sat near the kitchen sink, taking it out meant heading out to the block next door, often in the dark, to dump stinky slops into the chicken zone. Gross. Unfortunately it took about 8 or 9 sharehouses before I realised that if you don’t have chooks and you aren’t actively abiding by a composting system, having a bucket of food scraps floating around at all times isn’t a great idea. Most of my houses ended up with a ‘scraps pile’ somewhere in the back yard. As a result, most of my houses ended up with little rodent mates moving in.

My first notable mouse triumph was at Winchester Street. I shared this house with one of my best mates – Liz, her dropkick boyfriend James and our newest friend Melissa. (If you want to hear more about how shit James was please refer to this blog post.) I was taking a semester off Uni due to an unfortunate butt abscess and I had to be at home for daily visits from nurses. I had a lot of time on my hands.

I was sitting on the kitchen floor with the perpetually joint wielding Robbie and new friend/housemate Melissa, smoking and waiting for an experimental cake to bake when several of the mice who had recently moved in made a couple of very bold runs around the kitchen. We were flabbergasted and personally offended by their brazenness. Until that point we had been living peacefully alongside the mice, lazily hoping they would just go away. But this was just too insulting. I declared war and scuttled off to my room to gather the relevant supplies for my project. I could hear Robbie’s mindless giggling escalating into hysterics as the mice continued their kitchen offensive. Immediately upon re-entering the room I was regaled with an incomprehensible recount of the latest mouse antics from a feverishly excited Robbie sitting cross legged on the kitchen floor, joint intact despite all the gesturing and yelling. Melissa translated for me, ‘the mice just ran across this pillow, they’re getting too fearless’.

I proudly showed them what I had collected from my room. One shitty old blistex lip balm tube, a role of thread and a plastic bowl. I’ve never been one for killing stuff, or for remembering to buy mousetraps. If I did remember, I’d always mentally investigate possible outcomes and realise that not only was I scared of setting up mouse traps, I also didn’t fancy being the one who threw out broken little mouse bodies. So I adopted the most humane, and DIY method possible. The ole, box and stick on a string method. Here is a helpful diagram:

Basically, you balance one edge of the trapping receptacle (bowl) on the stick (blistex) and tie thread to the stick so that you can pull it away suddenly when the mouse moves into position. Considering how ruthlessly the mice were launching their kitchen missions I assumed it would be an instant success. Hours later I was still poised to tug the thread but Robbie and Melissa had to go to Uni, I stayed put, vowing to catch the mice if it was the last thing I did. I went into a kind of trance, probably aided by the weed and the pain medication I was on for my abscess. I was sitting so still, I was at one with the kitchen, melting into the floor cushions, camouflaged and hyper alert to mouse activity. It was at once so slow and so fast, before I even noticed what I was doing I ferociously yanked the thread,


“Squeak squeak squeak squeak! SQUEEEEAAAK SQUEEEEEAAAAAAAAAKKK squeak squeak!”

Shit got real super quick. By the time I had come to terms with the apparent success of my trap I noticed that mouse was actually ensnared on the OUTSIDE of the bowl. One leg was pinned down and the mouse was wildly screeching and thrashing around trying to break free. Two other mice had appeared at the nearby mouse hole and were responding to the desperate squeak screams of my victim. It was bleak. I just sat there and watched for a while trying to decide what to do. I could let the mouse go, but then the mice might learn their lesson and not fall for my trick again. I found a bigger bowl and put it over the top of the whole mouse situation so I wouldn’t have to look at it anymore.

I called my most sensible friend Danny to ask for advice. He sounded perturbed when I described my situation but he suggested that gassing the mouse on the stove would be fairly humane. I asked him how one might go about extracting a mouse from some kind of Russian doll bowl arrangement in order to gas it and he laughed a laugh that was part derisive, part amused and part clearly glad that he was nowhere near the predicament. ‘Uhhh put it in a plastic bag?’

Twenty minutes later I was power walking around Saint Peters with two bowls balanced on top of a Nancy Sinatra LP looking for a house with an enthusiastic dog I could dump the mouse on. Where were all the dogs at? Would a dog eat a mouse? Is this an ok thing to do?

Suddenly I found myself standing on a bridge overlooking the O-Bahn.

And suddenly there was a tiny mouse falling on the tracks.

And suddenly a bus was there.

And I was walking home with two bowls on my head and Moving With Nancy clutched across my chest.


‘Very good adulting’, I congratulated myself as I toddled home bubbling with pride. Upon my return I was met with my next predicament. I’d locked myself out in my haste to dispose of the mouse. Despite all our terrible qualities as tenants, we were very security conscious and every window was properly shut and locked, except one…the small bathroom window. I wasn’t much of a climber, and I wasn’t small, the window was quite high and quite small. Buoyed by my recent victory, I found a broken surfboard in the shed, a relic from housemates past and balanced it precariously atop a green bin. After a considerable struggle I managed to climb on top and reach the window. As I started to mash myself through the window, the surfboard slipped off the bin and I found myself trapped in the window, squawking and kicking, kinda like a mouse trapped under a bowl. I don’t know where I found the strength to climb through, I was seriously bung in those days but somehow I birthed myself back into the house. I felt that somehow the world was just letting me know that maybe next time I shouldn’t throw a living creature off a bridge.


Part II coming soon!

How I Became a Smoker

How I became a smoker

oil on canvas smoking kills alice dolling
Smokin’ eyes 2016

I had just moved into a house with my friend Liz, her absolute bongo brain boyfriend James and a girl called Melissa who we met through an ad on gumtree. Of our potential housemate suitors, we picked Melissa because we didn’t mind her mustard sweater, she wasn’t french and she was wearing red lipstick; essentially she was the hottest applicant.

I’d heard on the grape vine that James had already punched a hole in the kitchen wall so I flat out refused to fork out cash for a bond that would never find its way back to me. Melissa however, being the new one got slogged $600 which she unsurprisingly, never saw again.

It was around this time that Kevin Rudd had been promising everybody a special $900 bonus and to our delight, he delivered. I spent mine on a trip to Alice Springs and my first ever ounce of weed. Inspired after visiting the red lands, my friend and I hatched a plan to become drug dealers and get rich. I texted my friend Robbie who was notorious for being constantly stoned and requested that he help us hook up an ‘oz’. We arranged to meet some guy at the uni bar and freaked everybody out by pulling the ounce out and loudly trying to ascertain whether or not it looked like good value for $250. The seasoned drug peddlers sensibly distanced themselves from the loud-mouthed girls waving around a sandwich bag of weed in a public venue so we decided to go home and start bagging up the weed into little J-bags we had decorated with pictures of jewels.

We only got 8 bags. This was disappointing as we had to sell each bag for $25. We were not going to be rich. We were not going to break even. And by ‘we’ I mean me, I was the cashpig of the operation since my friend had noticed that business wasn’t going to be profitable and felt it may not be the right time to invest in the company. This foray into business resulted in us become fully-fledged stoners.

As I was the only person in the house with a supply of weed, Liz’s stupid boyfriend James suddenly became very keen to hang out with me. It became apparent very quickly that James was a manipulative, sneaky and fairly useless person to have around. He earnt the nickname ‘Prawns’ because he used to steal prawns from Coles by shoving them down his pants and then feeding them to us for breakfast. This was perhaps his most redeeming feature. James paid no rent, contributed no money for bills and was happy to consume our food, drink and drugs as he pleased. I don’t mind sharing my things with people but sharing with him felt dirty and it pissed me off. James was always asking us for ‘just one more little bud for hot knifing’ which was infuriating as hot knifing is probably the stupidest method of weed smoking I have ever encountered. We refused him often, telling him he had to have a bong or nothing, and if he did agree to have a bong it had to be mix, not straight weed because we didn’t want to waste a single stem on that greasy little greaser.

As you’d expect, the weed ran out and I was left with an overwhelming desire to continue being stoned every day. Sadly I was out of Rudd money and was waiting for my next centrelink payment. Luckily James had found a semi rewarding relief.

The respectable baccy bong.

Tobacco compiled from cigarette butts collected outside the 6th avenue chip shop. I had always had nothing but disdain for tobacco smokers but I really, really wanted to smoke a bong, of anything, and smoking tobacco bongs gave me a brief rush that was good enough to keep on doing it. Plus Liz and James were doing it, Melissa wasn’t but she endorsed a whole lot of stupid behaviour in our household , so I jumped on the bandwagon whole heartedly. Many people were disgusted by my tendency to indulge in baccy bongs which I guess is the reason I made the obvious upgrade to smoking cigarettes. So by the middle of 2009 I had become a person I had never expected to become, a filthy SMOKER.

Wild Horses


Korean Bath House (Jjimjilbang)

When we were living in Laos I took Loki on a surprise birthday trip to Seoul. We basically ate every vegetarian thing we could find and went to the bath house every day. Loki had been to Japan a few times so he was fairly familiar with the communal bathing thing but it was a totally new situation for me.

We went to the Siloam Spa upon the recommendation of our mate Anou, he was pretty jacked about all the different rooms. He told me a story about some horrible sounding 60 degrees room with foot destroying rocks everywhere and an ice room. I had no idea what he was talking about and the website was baffling but it looked fancy and we are very fancy so of course we went.

When we arrived at the spa were handed two small orange towels, orange fisherman pants and shapeless shirts and sent into our gendered bathrooms. We could reunite on the second floor to visit the rooms in our orange uniforms or head into the same sex bathing areas downstairs. There was also a weird little gym with a rubber band machine that you put around your body and just stand there vibrating. There was also a machine which seemed like it’s sole purpose was to turn you upside down for a while.

I eventually made my way into the bathing area, I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was, some women were fully naked some were partially clothed in their underwear and pretty much everyone had an orange towel adorning their heads. I stripped down to my underwear and loitered around near the entrance to the bathing room trying to see what other people were wearing or not wearing. I noticed the ‘massage’ area which was action packed, women were lying on stretcher beds whilst other women vigorously slapped, kneaded and hosed them down. While one of the elderly attendants shot me suspicious looks I gingerly removed my underwear and crept into the bathing area. It was super wholesome and reminded me of the aquatic centre in Adelaide. Women of all ages were marching around, scrubbing each other and carrying tubs full of toiletries and salt (?). I stood under a shower for a while surveying the scene and eventually decided to get my own tub and fill it up with salt. I carried it around to a few different flavoured and temperatured baths and put one of my towels on my head.

I was really struck by how normal it seemed, everyone was so comfortable, kids were running around, women were scrubbing their elderly mothers and periodically strolling over to the salt station for a refill. I couldn’t get over the colours and perspective of the scene, so many orange towels, square bathing pools, columns and showers in pastel turquoise and dark blue tiles and black hair.

I got in trouble when I left the bathing area and tried to walk back to the change rooms. I wasn’t meant to step off the drying mat until I was dry, I had stepped off the mat and left a trail of conspicuously large wet footprints across the room. The attendant herded me back onto my corner and started mopping up my terrible mess with a towel.

I was compelled to paint a picture, for some reason it had to be a huge picture, so I went and bought a 2 by 2 metre bit of canvas as soon as I got back to Laos. I like small sections of it better than the overall effect, I wanted to keep it fairly under developed but got a bit carried away in some areas. I noticed a lot of art in Wats (temples) around Vientiane used bright orange outlines and really wanted to give that a crack.

When we left Laos I didn’t know what to do with it so I rolled it up and shoved it in a trash fire.

These two crops are my favourite areas, I think these little snippets most accurately capture the vision I had in my head.

Flash back!

I’ve been feeling a little cranky lately because it only just occurred to me that as an English teacher – I work during the time when pole dance classes usually happen. I feel like I can’t win on the pole front! First I live in Laos – the land of no pole dance, and now I have access to at least 4 different studios and almost all the classes are in the evenings. I’ll figure something out, but I started reflecting on my first and only pole performance and how it influenced my recent performance – By Product.

I worked really hard on this routine, I trained for weeks and spent hours analysing and researching different dance styles. Sometimes when I watch the video I feel super proud and other times I feel super embarrassed imaging all the ‘real’ pole dancers judging my scrappy style, lack of tricks and most unpointed toes.

I felt disconnected and a bit left behind when I left Adelaide a couple of months after performing this and moved to Laos, all my old classmates got better and better and kept posting videos of the incredible things they were doing. Meanwhile, I was unlearning all the fundamental moves and sweating all over the floor.

I eventually realised that I should focus on myself and what I had and what I could do. I started doing more freestyles and more dance and tried to just have fun. I became a lot more comfortable in my own style and abilities and realised that just because there are pole dance ‘rules and styles’ I could pretty much do whatever I liked and it didn’t actually matter. That’s where By Product comes into it, I really wanted to do something that no rules or boundaries.

This routine was very fun to make but it was tough because a little voice in my head kept saying I had just gone for this weird style because I was too shit at proper pole dancing to do something elegant or sexy. But it was also so much the right thing for me, I really like trying to dance in an exotic or contemporary style but I also think its really important to challenge people. Plus, to be honest, I love pole but like 20 routines in a row can get pretty tedious, there needs to be some kind of freak in there somewhere to shake things up a bit.