References and resources
I have many listeners from overseas and I know some of them may be wondering: what are Tim Tams? Tim Tams are, arguably, Australia’s favourite biscuit-cum-confectionary and there’s nothing quite like them in the world, although I’m told that they’re exported to the US and sold as “Arnott’s Originals”, and that in the UK there’s a similar biscuit called a Penguin. (How similar could it be, though? I have friends in the UK that think Tim Tams are a delicacy and I used to send them packages of same.)
There was lots that intrigued me about Geoff’s story, but two things stood out. First, the bands he mentioned, and second, the chocolate pudding!
I am more familiar with King Crimson and one of its founders, Robert Fripp, who’s one of the world’s great rock guitarists. Although it’s not one of their well-known songs, I was introduced to the band by the all-night music video program, Rage, which for a long time used Sleepless in its intro. Check out Sleepless here – it still cranks, and has an absolutely brilliant bassline.
The pudding was a bit harder to pin down, but from the description it might be an Italian pastry cream. Putting my high school Italian to good use, I tracked down this recipe here, which the author says “is good for fillings and for the spoon”, which tickled me no end. I can imagine it would have been something like this: quick to put together, and since it’s mostly milk with only a little chocolate, an economical dessert for a big family including an unofficial adoptee.
This episode’s stories
Share House by Connie
Burnout by Violeta Balhas
My Stupid Family by Geoff Douglas
First things first. I acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the lands on which I live, work, and record Pillow Talking, the Bunurong and Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. I recognise their connection to and care of this land, and thank them for the space I share with my family. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and still to come, and extend that respect to all First Nations people who are listening.
Please keep in mind that Pillow Talking contains adult themes and sometimes strong language, so use your discretion for where and how you listen, and who you listen with.
Close the door and dim the lights. Let’s talk. I’m Violeta Balhas and this is Season 2, Episode 17 of Pillow Talking – Stories about the stories we tell each other when there’s no one listening. In this episode, SANCTUARY.
The bedroom can be a sanctum and a sanctuary. It can also be an arena and a battleground, as well as a playground. But more than anything else, behind its closed door, it’s the place where we are most ourselves. It is, after all, a place of nakedness – both literal and figurative.
If you go to the About page on my website, those are the first words you’ll see. They were the first words that came to me when I was writing the About section. And they were the first words because when I came up with the idea for Pillow Talking and started thinking about what the bedroom can mean, sanctuary was right up there. The bedroom as a safe haven is one of those things that’s so ingrained it might as well be unnoticeable. But if you have ever sighed in relief getting into bed after a difficult day, or found comfort in someone’s arms there, or picked out bedroom décor because it made you feel peaceful, or ordered a room service breakfast so you could just go straight back to bed afterwards, you’ll understand that it can be a place that the outside world doesn’t touch. There’s out there, and there’s in here. And somehow, even though what separates the out there from the in here can be as thin as a gossamer curtain that’s only there to delineate the boundaries between two rooms, in our minds and hearts, it might as well be a fortress wall.
As children our bedroom sanctuaries were places where we could dream; we learnt to pour out our thoughts, feelings, and secrets into diaries and journals; we had fun grownups never knew about; and if you were lucky to have a halfway decent home life, you could fall into a peaceful sleep in the sure knowledge that the grownups on the other side of the door had it all under control.
As adults, our bedroom sanctuaries are places where we can share our dreams with a special other and come up with new dreams for both; embrace our vulnerability and share our deepest thoughts, feelings, and secrets with them; together have fun that children don’t know about; and now that you’re one of the grownups and understand that no one really has it all under control, you’ll sleep anyway. Hey – it can only help.
These stories feature the sanctuary of someone’s arms and bedroom after receiving heartbreaking news; of the bedroom debrief after the emotionally exhausting workday; and of the physical and emotional safety provided by a friend’s bedroom.
These conversations all happened in the intimacy of the bedroom.
Sssh. Let’s listen.
I really liked Greg, but I hated going to his place. It was a share house, and just so blokey. I don’t know how to explain it, because all the guys living there were so nice, but there was just something about going into that house with testosterone bouncing off the walls.
It was always loud, even if someone was studying (that’s what noise-cancelling headphones are for, Greg said). It was either music blaring, or a game of Call of Duty, or fighting over the last piece of KFC, or just random stuff, like one time when we got back after a nice romantic lunch and they’d taken over the entire house and backyard and were having a war with Nerf guns. These are grown men we’re talking about. Young men, but grown men all the same. It was fun a lot of the time, but sometimes it was just a lot.
Going into that pit of testosterone as a woman wasn’t exactly intimidating, but I didn’t see any of the other girlfriends very often so most of the time it was just me, the only woman, and I felt a little like an outsider, even when I joined in with some of the games, and they always welcomed me. I was an outsider, I guess, and the contrast was major for me. Particularly since I grew up in a house with all women. My dad left way before I was born. All our lives it was my mum, my sister, and me at home, and it’s where I was living then.
Looking back at this time, I think my discomfort came from feeling like I could never really be myself here. Even when we were having sex in Greg’s room, I couldn’t really let go. Could never make much noise, and always kind of had an ear in the rest of the house, in case someone walked in or walked by or whatever. And although some women might like that, I didn’t want to give them anything to talk about or for their imaginations to use. Like – NOTHING. It would have been mortifying to me.
One night, my mum sat my sister and me down. She told us she had breast cancer. My mind went into a spin. She gave us a whole bunch of details but it was like her voice was coming at me through layers of cotton wool. I could see her lips moving but I wasn’t registering any of it as I went into meltdown mode. She asked if we had questions and my sister had a couple but I shook my head.
I had to get out of the house. All of a sudden our house of all women was unbearable to me. I needed to talk to someone, but not my sister, even though she is my best friend and this affected her as much as me. I didn’t want to see any of my friends because I didn’t want sympathy. I didn’t know what I wanted but I did realise that I desperately needed to see Greg.
I managed to drive to his place. When I got there it was loud, as per usual. I heard some movie with explosions and shooting blaring as soon as I got out of the car. I knocked on the door and no one heard, surprise surprise. I thought about texting Greg to come and open the door but thought he wouldn’t hear the text come in either. So I made a fist and started pounding on the door. After a little while I heard someone say over the movie, “Hey, is that someone at the door?”
Luckily, it was Greg who opened the door. He saw me and said, “Are you all right?”
I shook my head and he put his arm around my shoulder and kind of shepherded me to his room. We sat on his bed.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
I couldn’t speak. I just burst out crying. The movie was still blaring in the lounge room. Greg took a couple of paces to the door, opened it a crack, and yelled out, “Turn it down, ya dickheads!”
Then he came back to me and oh so gently asked, “What’s wrong?” once again.
The contrast was hilarious. I started laughing. Then I was crying again. He held me while all of these emotions worked their way through me. It was probably the most uninhibited I’d been in his bedroom – just a shame it was over such a horrible thing. Eventually I was calm enough to tell him.
He frowned at me and began asking questions. What stage cancer? Had it spread to her lymph nodes? Had it spread to other organs? There were more questions. I could only answer a couple of them because I’d taken so little information in.
“Give me a sec,” he said, and went out to the lounge room.
He was back a couple of minutes later. It was like someone had put a thick blanket over the house. The TV was turned down, and I started to hear really ordinary noises of dishes being cleared and washed, garbage being taken out, and everyone wasn’t whispering exactly, but they were talking at what Greg called “work volume”. It was a comforting murmur on the other side of the door.
Greg came back in, and got me to lie down. He lay down next to me and told me his mum had had breast cancer. I didn’t know this. He told me what he understood, and some of the things to expect. He said, “It’s OK. It’s bad news, and it’s going to be really tough, but she hasn’t been given a death sentence.”
And I believed him. I started asking him questions about the treatment. About how his mum and the rest of the family had coped, and he was just so honest and open and didn’t shy away from anything. Instead of getting freaked out by it it comforted me, even when he got tears in his eyes once remembering their first summer after the mastectomy how his mum, a real water baby, hadn’t gone to the beach once, because she couldn’t stand putting on a bathing suit. I don’t know how it works, but the more details he gave me the more real it seemed; what I’d run away from at home wasn’t reality, it was a monster I’d created in my own head, from pieces of things I’d heard, movies I’d seen, and stuff I’d read. The reality was bad, but it was something you can deal with; monsters in your head are way worse.
I was afraid to ask him but I had to. I hadn’t met his parents at that stage.
“So how’s your mum?”
“Aw, she’s fine. She never had a breast reconstruction. She wears these pad things in her bra and she said she got comfortable with it. She’s even had them sewn on to her bathers. Her ‘floaties’ she calls them.”
We talked for ages. After a while there was this soft knock at the door. It was one of Greg’s housemates with a cup of tea and a couple of Tim Tams. He handed them to Greg and then kind of looked around the bulk of Greg’s body and gave me this wonky smile and a little wave.
I smiled for the first time in hours, and I really meant it.
I drank my tea, ate one of the Tim Tams and gave the other one to Greg. And then it was time to go home and face my mum’s breast cancer.
Things were never the same after that, but in a good way, despite the hard times that followed. Mum’s journey was different to Greg’s mum’s, in many ways so much better by advances in treatment and because she caught it so early, and she’s made it so far. And I realised, while all of this was going on, that the desperate feeling of wanting to see Greg was because I’d started to fall in love with him. From then on, even if I was still quiet in the bedroom, I never felt like an outsider in that share house again.
He wasn’t in the share house for long, though. When mum got better we moved in together and got married a few years after that. All those guys came to the wedding. It was loud.
At the job interview, one of the people in the panel told me, “This is a high burnout job.”
She was an older woman with magnificent silver hair in a pixie cut and a warm smile that shone from a face lined with experience. The kind of person you immediately trust to the ends of the earth and I believed her, but I didn’t believe this would be true about me. I was driven by passion and conviction. I looked after myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. In short my centre was rock solid and there was no way I would join the throng of burnouts, no matter how tough the job. I took it on.
The job in question was teaching literacy to disengaged youths. Regular high school hadn’t worked out for them, and this course, based on applied learning, was the alternative. For some, their last choice.
It was a small campus. The kids were rowdy; some of them had learning disabilities or were neurodivergent and had fallen through the cracks; some were massive and tough-looking and even though I’m pretty formidable there was no doubt who would have won in a fight; most of them were from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Their previous teacher had a good line in charming people and he’d seduced them with grand words and sought to “inspire” them by inviting them to his house for pizza and showing them films like Dangerous Minds; he left the job mid-semester. There were no lesson plans in his drive on the computer; the kids had no work to show.
So I was replacing this Disneyland teacher who hadn’t ever asked anything of these kids and hadn’t, in fact, done any actual teaching. They hated me on sight. They scowled at me from underneath the hoods of their hoodies, smirked at the spectacle of me as they checked me out from unstraightened hair to high heels, and they played up and acted out. Every rude, belligerent, 2-year-old-in-an-adult body trick they had. They were pretty horrible and for that first week, they thought they’d won because admittedly, my teaching style wasn’t working. But I changed tack, toughened up, and things began to change.
The trick to these students wasn’t just developing a surface that was impermeable to their barbs, but always going one better than they did.
If they complained, “This is boring!” I’d instantly reply, “You’re boring!”
If they got personal and criticised me with something like, “That jacket is ugly!” I’d say, “It should be. It’s made from the skin of my ex-students.”
Or if they tried another tack and wheedled, “You care about us, don’t you Vi?” I’d say, “Nah! I’m just here for that sweet sweet money.”
They settled. They learned. And I wasn’t burnt out.
But what happened after some months when they stopped testing me was that we got to know each other. They started to open up. They started to tell me about their lives at home. And that’s when I discovered that there were things I couldn’t be impermeable to. I heard about the abuse: physical, emotional, and sexual. The lack of food in the house. The eating disorders and self-harm. The pregnancy at 15 years of age; the traumatic and disastrous abortion. Although I was one step removed, this was the first time I witnessed, in real life and real time, just how horrible the world – how horrible people – could be.
Shane and I hadn’t long been married, and from the beginning we’d taken on board a ritual from Steve and Shaaron Biddulph’s book, The Making of Love: when you and your partner see each other at the end of the day, go to the bedroom. Take some snacks and a drink if you like, and catch up about your day for 10 minutes, with the door closed, and the kids outside. Then you’re ready to face cooking dinner, helping with homework, feeding dogs, and the million other things that need doing at that time of the day.
I know that often we went way past these 10 minutes. I know that our kids were impatient for us to come out. And I’m still sorry about this, but often what I was doing in there was sobbing. There was so little I could practically do for my students. Short of referring them to social services and educating them and literally praying to God that their education would help them escape, all I could do was grieve.
There were times when I came home from work and barely said hello to the kids and made a beeline for the bedroom. There, I told Shane about what these kids were living through, and wept, and he listened, and comforted me, and held me. And most importantly he reassured me, over and over again, even though I didn’t really believe him, that these kids would survive their home lives and make it into adulthood.
But there was more to it than getting things off my chest, and I know this because the couple of times when I didn’t go into the bedroom with Shane after work I was absolutely horrible to be around. In the simple, humble, safe space of the bedroom, by offering me words of love and comfort, Shane reminded me that decency exists. That people can be caring. Gentle. That even with our combined baggage and crap communication and kids doing their best to get along in a blended family while grieving the loss of their previous family unit, we were OK. Most of the time, we got along. Most of the time, we respected each other. Neither one of us was destroying a child’s innocence or violating sacred boundaries. Sure we went through lean times, tough times, but no one went to bed hungry unless by choice.
This time, this space, sheltered me from the world out there and shored me up for another day of teaching and everything that can mean. And I didn’t get burnt out, but it wasn’t because of my centre, which ended up being way softer than I thought.
It took me a long time to realise that my dad was an alcoholic. It took me longer than that to realise that he not just an alcoholic but abusive. And longer than that again to realise that he wasn’t abusive but violent.
It was the times, and of course it’s me that’s taken so long to learn. Kids these days say, “OK, Boomer” but they don’t realise how long it takes to learn and unlearn things, and de-program yourself. They will one day, of course, with their own things, and hopefully I’ll be smiling down on them from heaven, and wishing them luck, because it’s not easy. It’s why so many of us (Boomers, I mean) are resistant to these realisations. They bloody hurt.
I’m the third child and a surprise one, much younger than my siblings. I only have vague memories of them living at home with us. As was the way then, they got jobs early and left home early. So I was like an only child, except with none of that getting spoiled business. I thought I was the only one who’d seen dad at his worst but it turns out that they had too; we just didn’t talk about it until I was middle aged and my siblings were almost in their 70s.
But they remembered dad after the 6 o’clock swill, that godawful hour between knock-off time at work and 6pm, when the pubs closed. Men having literal gutfuls of beer in that hour, pissing away a decent percentage of their wage, and stumbling home to wife and children with whatever was left and often more bottles that they’d bought over the counter (or under it).
6 o’clock closing wasn’t a thing by the time I came along, but dad’s habit of the Friday piss-up remained, and this is what complicated things, you see. The rest of the week, my dad was a perfectly nice man. He was a good provider, polite, often thoughtful, and seemed to take an interest in my schoolwork and hobbies. But then on Friday night, when he came home with a gutful of beer, he was a monster, and depending on how much beer he brought home, he could be a monster for part or all of the weekend too.
The worst thing was that the things he’d seem to take an interest in during the week were the things that he’d use as ammunition when he was drunk. If I’d got an A in Maths during the week he’d congratulate me and clap my shoulder. On Friday he’d turn it around and say, “Look at you, think you’re the shit because you got an A in maths. You know it doesn’t effing matter out in the real world, and you’ll end up like your brother and sister. No good, the lot of ya. You’re not the shit, you’re just a piece of shit.”
“He’s not himself when he gets like this,” mum would say. For the longest time I thought it was true. But maybe mum was saying it to herself, not me, because of his violence toward her. Not that I understood it was violence then. I used to call it “getting rough”. He never hit her, or not that I ever saw, and that was another reason why it took me so long to see he was violent.
He’d do things like shove her out of the way. Literally shove her aside, and a man doesn’t need to be particularly strong for this to make anyone, let alone a small woman, stumble and catch herself. And she did fall down once. If he wanted to talk to her and she wasn’t facing in the right direction he’d grab her cardigan or whatever she was wearing and just pull her to him. And the way he touched her when he was like this; it’s hard to explain, but it somehow carried a threat. For example if he made a joke like drunk people do and they think they’re the funniest person in the world, if she didn’t laugh he’d shove his face in hers and laugh like a hyena while clapping her back and she had to laugh – she just had to. I don’t know how to explain that she had to, it’s one of those things.
That was life at home. I responded like many kids do, by getting tough. I wasn’t really tough, though, and hanging out with the toughs terrified me, but I could look tough. I dressed the part and withdrew into myself and that was enough to get a reputation. I had no friends in high school because they would have seen through my disguise, you see, and also I couldn’t imagine how I could have friends with the home life I had. In those days friends lived at each other’s houses. Or you were out playing in the town, but the parents always knew where you were and this wouldn’t have been my mum or dad.
Somehow though, I made a friend anyway. In music class, which was a bit of a bludge but I secretly loved music, and lived for those times when Miss Bronson would let us bring our favourite records to play and we talked about why we liked the music, and what it meant to us. Records were precious in those days. They weren’t cheap, they were fragile, and it was common to do things like lend each other records or go to each other’s house to listen to records. Mick brought along some progressive rock albums – King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator. It was nothing like what was being played on the radio or Countdown and it just blew my mind.
So we started hanging out – or as we used to say back then, mucking around – at lunchtime and recess and we talked about music and other stuff as well, of course, and played kick-to-kick. And eventually I got one of those off-hand invitations to go to his place after school, which I did. His family was loud in a completely different way to mine. Mine was a quiet house, with violent explosions of loudness. His was a constant barrage thanks to the six kids, and Mick’s mum had to shout not because she was abusive, but just to be heard above the din. It was a big, Italian Catholic family, and both of those things made quite a difference in those days. Back then, if you called someone a wog it was the worst insult. And you didn’t really associate with Catholics if you were Protestant, even if you’d never been to church in your life, as was the case with me. But I didn’t care. There I learnt that Mick wasn’t Michael but Michele, but he went by Mick because in those days it was so important to anglicise your name in order to assimilate as much as you could; also Mick told me that from when he was little teachers used to see his name on the roll and say it “Michelle”.
That home fascinated me and strange as it may sound, also terrified me. I was seeing a functional family for the first time but I couldn’t recognise it as such because it didn’t look or sound like the functional families from the television. And I couldn’t understand how the chaos didn’t degenerate into abuse; I was on tenterhooks at first, constantly waiting for the shoe to drop, the moment when one of those loud kids would say or do something and Mick’s mum or dad blew up and laid into them.
Eventually I did stop being terrified, and that home became more than a place that fascinated me. It became my refuge. I went there as often as I could.
I’ll never forget the first night I stayed over. It was a Friday, and it got dark early because it was winter. Mick’s mum asked me if I wanted to stay for dinner. It was Friday, so of course I knew what was waiting for me at home, and I also knew what would happen if I rang to ask if I could stay. So I said yes, and assured Mick’s mum that there was no need to let mum know.
Dinner was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. We all sat at the huge table. There was a tablecloth, and wine for both the parents, just one glass each. But the thing that amazed me the most was what was for dinner. Spaghetti! Spaghetti in a giant platter in front of Mick’s mum that she dished out from. In those days, spaghetti was something most people only had if they went to an Italian restaurant. In my house, it came in a can. My father didn’t believe in it as a meal and considered it good only on toast for breakfast or as something you had on the side with your steak.
But I’ll never forget that spaghetti, which I would soon learn was their usual Friday meal. There was a literal pile of it; enough for this mob to have seconds, and thirds if they wanted. And it had no meat, but the flavour! These days I realise it would have had extra virgin olive oil and herbs and heaps of garlic but those tastes were completely new to me then – even new in Australia. Back then, olive oil wasn’t something you cooked with, it was a small bottle you kept in your bathroom cabinet to use on dry skin.
After dinner we went to the lounge room, which was kept completely dark except for an ornate lamp in the corner. The settings on that colour television were turned up so bright that everything looked like technicolour. The blues and greens were electric; the reds so bright they were almost orange. We sat and lay on the couches and the floor and watched something funny together. At some point, Mick’s mum appeared with something she called “pudding” but was like no pudding I’d ever had before. It was like a hot chocolate custard that she served up in little coffee cups with tiny teaspoons, and it was luxurious.
It was a beautiful night. I’m not exaggerating when I say that at that point, it was the best night of my life.
It got later and later and suddenly I had a genius idea: what if I didn’t go home? It was like one of those flashes you get when you think, “Why didn’t I think of this before?” But I couldn’t just invite myself to stay so I wondered if I could wangle an invite just by staying as late as I could.
At about 8.30pm Mick’s dad said to me, “Would you like a lift home, mate?” I nearly died. The idea of Mick’s dad meeting my dad in his usual Friday night state made me physically sick. They’d never let Mick be friends with me after that. I must have looked a sight because Mick’s mum said, “Or would you like to stay the night? We have a folding bed we can put in Michele’s room.”
As dismayed as I must have looked, I must have instantly looked overjoyed because she smiled and said, “Would you like me to ring your mum and ask?” I quickly told her there was no need – I’d do it.
So I ran to the telephone, rang a random number, and had a conversation with the recording of a man telling me “The number you have called is not connected, please check the number, and dial again” pretending it was my mum.
It was later in Mick’s bedroom that the pillow talk happened. It was already lights out and we were just talking, trying not to be too loud. I lay next to him in the folding bed in a pair of his older brother’s pyjamas, the covers pulled up to my chin, perfectly at peace. The first peaceful Friday night I’d ever known in my life.
Suddenly Mick says, “My stupid family!”
What? I wasn’t sure I’d heard right.
“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked him.
And then came this diatribe. About the brother who drank his glass of soft drink when he wasn’t looking, the little sister who was boy mad and was looking at me all moon-faced like I could be her new boyfriend, the older sister who chucked a wobbly because we wouldn’t all watch Class of ’74 like she wanted to, his dad who refused to get rid of the old Valiant and get a modern car – it was so embarrassing. I listened in amazement and then amusement. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat in the dark. It was fantastic. All these little tiny complaints from a guy who didn’t know how good he had it. I began to make these sort of sympathetic noises, but not so sympathetic that it seemed as though I agreed. Whingeing about all these little things seemed to me like a luxury, much more luxurious than the pudding, and somehow, strangely, I enjoyed it.
Staying at Mick’s on a Friday night became a habit. I never asked my parents if I could stay. I would just reappear at home on Saturday, sometimes Sunday, and they never asked where I’d been, although I know my mother knew. Sometimes Mick’s family took me with them on trips and holidays, nothing long or fancy. Day trips to Phillip Island, long weekends camping in Rosebud, that kind of thing, and I don’t once remember asking my parents if I could go.
Mick whinged about his stupid family a few more times but then stopped. Years later I found out that it was because he thought I was tough, and he felt self-conscious about his family and how I would feel about them; he had to criticise them because that’s what he imagined I was doing in my head. But what I was doing in my head was loving them. Loving them like I didn’t think it was possible to love a family, and of course, thanking them. That home was a sacred space, and even the whingeing in that bedroom was like a kind of prayer. Because I understood there was love behind it. I didn’t whinge about my family, in fact I didn’t mention them in the slightest, and what was behind that silence was fury, and for a long time, hatred.
Dad sort of mellowed when I hit my mid-teenage years, but the damage was done. Mick and I grew up and I made sure I went to uni interstate. I went overseas for many years after that. But when I got back Mick and I reconnected. We had so much to catch up on that we sort of spent the weekend together and when Mick’s mum heard that I was back she insisted I join them in the old place for Sunday lunch. It was wonderful. They were all there, and more, since some of them had spouses and children, so it was noisier than ever. I was welcomed like a long-lost son. It felt like being home.
Mick’s mum asked me how my parents were. I told her my dad had died some years back. My mum had moved up to Queensland and got remarried to a plump butcher who thought he was the luckiest man in the world and treated her like a queen.
She put a hand on my arm, sighed, and said, “I’m glad they both finally found some peace”.
And that was the only time she let slip that she’d known what life at home had been like for me.
Pillow Talking is produced, narrated and edited by me, Violeta Balhas, from stories by you, the listeners and pillow talkers. Extra production help from the amazing Marc Teamaker. Music is by Radovan Jekic. This episode’s stories were:
Share Houseby Connie
Burnoutby me – I snuck another one in!
My Stupid Family by Geoff Douglas
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And that’s it for tonight!
The next episode of Pillow Talking is a special, holiday-themed bonus one. I know I’ve only just started Pillow Talking again but I’ll be gone until February because my real, 3-D life demands I take a break. It’s summer here in the Southern hemisphere and it’s twisting by the pool time!
Until then, please take care of yourselves. And each other.