Sunday, February 28, 2010

Where did February go?

Blarney's cat has gone. The Maow Maow was the perfect house guest. Quiet, clean, unobtrusive and he gives the best cuddles in the world. I've spent far too much of this weekend sitting down cuddling this little fellow. He just sits in your arms and purrs. I gave Barney a glowing report when he picked him up this evening. He  was very helpful. He helped me cook and crochet and make the bed. I'm not sure help was the real word for it but he's been followed me around like a bad smell all day. I like it. Just wish the lease would let me have a cat. Oh well, another time, another flat.

Dinner was successful. - Chicken marinated in Chinese Five Spice and natural yogurt, root vegetable roasties and my version of Eton Mess  - a nice, simple Sunday night dinner for Work Husband and his wife. The evening had two purposes - we watched  "Fat Bastards" together, which is something we do periodically, and it gave Work Husband a chance to play with Maow. Gotta love Work Husband - he has two of his own cats, some of the most antisocial moggies I've ever met. When Maow comes to stay I make sure that he gets a look in - it's like watching two happy little boys at play.

And a lovely bonus, they brought me the most gorgeous bunch of lilies. They asked when was the last time I received flowers. Oh hell, I hate answering questions like that, it makes me feel sooooo inadequate. The last bunch I remember receiving was back about two years ago - actually no - I got some for my birthday last year, and one of my workmates gave me a bunch for witnessing some stuff for him. I'm single, for heaven's sake, I don't get flowers. Once in a blue moon I buy them for myself, but to receive them - not often. That's a loaded question - like asking when was the last time I had sex, or how much money I make.The other coincedence was I bought a very similar bunch for Blarney this afternoon. It's her nine and a half birthday at midnight - born on 29 February, her birthday's a bit of a minefield. You have no definitive date to say happy birthday.

I'm originally from Adelaide, I'm too polite for my own good sometimes.

So that was the good side of the weekend. The bad side was that I haven't been able to get my head around exercise. Yesterday was spent walking around the zoo and I got back knackered a few hours later. Spending the day with two four-year-olds is as stressful as a panel job interview. Today I managed an hour's cardio in the gym this morning. I am allegedly running a marathon in eight and a half months and I can't be asked to get out there and do things - this isn't good. I don't like the treadmill any more, but I know it's a useful tool for speed and hills, especially as where I live is pretty flat. The stepper is okay, the cross trainer was great, but I should be doing more.

I'm also not happy about the lack of weight loss this year - I seem to be in the gym or on the road every day - but nothing is shifting - though I feel great and can see my body toning and I've not put on. Time for some revisions I think.

So, it's bite the bullet time. I hereby decree March an ice cream, chocolate and chip free zone. I don't each much junk - but I do have enough for it to register. Oh this is going to be fun. And alcohol - I'm not fussed with the two glasses I have a week - they can stay.

March is also a Bejewelled Blitz free zone. Time waster - can't do it.

Let's see if that kickstarts a few things.

Card of the Blog: Page of Wands. New Passions, new starts, a young boy, the finding of something creative.

Kilometres walked since 29 January: 80 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 49 km
Currently reading: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Reunion

In my "perfect dream history", I went the picture perfect high school, where I was cool and popular and everybody was pretty and the boys were cool and we all got good grades and it was an ace time and everything was just peachy keen.

In reality I went to Willunga High in the early eighties. It was a school fed by the outer suburbs of Adelaide and the Southern Adelaide Hills. There were the pretty girls and cool guys, but most of the rag tag bunch were separated from what they wore - either a Ford or Holden jacket - and never the twain should meet. Smile spray on jeans, flourescent socks, Adidas Romes (white with blue bands on them), clearasil, desert boots and squeaky sandals and long curly perms on the girls. Most boys had a mullet of some description. The cool kids smoked on the oval or made out in the scrub near the student's car park. The school had one of the worst academic records in the state, and my year, the last year of Matriculation in South Australia, was known as the worst of the worst.

I really don't remember much about high school, though I can still recite the first twenty elements of the periodic table of elements. School gave me passable French that I still use, a love of Shakespeare and writing and I'm the person who splits the bill at the end of the night as my maths is pretty good.

My high school self was a whole different kettle of worms. At school I was the weird girl, the chubby girl, the badly dressed uncool girl who made her own clothes. I don't have any lasting friends from high school, though with the joy of Facebook I've reconnected with a few people. I don't remember being bullied - I know I was teased a lot, but I let it run over me and the bullies gave up. I do remember my final two years were better than the first three. Being fairly academic, I got to hide behind my books and I know I saw a lot of the library. I was bad at sport and good at everything but Physics - but how are you supposed to learn from a yeti is what I have to say about that last point.

Not the best of times really.

The other week, once again through the joys of Facebook, I was invited to a high school reunion. And after laughing and saying a resounding "NO WAY!" the invite got sent to the bin and I went on with things.

One of my favourite films is Grosse Point Blank. John Cusack, playing a hired assassin, goes back to his high school reunion. He makes a pertinent comment - it's like everybody's exploded. Everybody's fatter, balder and nothing like you though they would be like. Maybe that last point is a reason to stick my head in the door.

I've often made the harsh comment about the folk I went to school with. "I'm a minority because at forty I've never been to prison and I'm not a grandmother". It's a bit harsh. There are some good people out there, I'm sure - but I don't think I have anything in common with them. I know when I escaped to university there was no going back - only a handful of the 100 year twelve students went on to tertiary education. I only go back to see my mother once or twice a year.

Twenty-five years on, I do ponder the thought of going back to meet my old high school compatriots, but what would it acheive? The last thing I would want to do is stand there and go. "Err, well, I work in Telecommunications after years in Investment Banking, I've lived all over the world, I'm unmarried and childless and I live in Melbourne. I do long distance running - attempting a marathon in October. I don't own property. I have a really good salary. I speak three languages." What would the plumbers and small business owners and stay at home Mums say to that? Saying that twenty times over sounds fun...not. Lots of people would say "Who are you?"

And I go straight back to chubby weird girl mode and I want to crawl back under a rock.

Funny how one little email can stir all of this up.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

What is in a name?

I'm used to Thursday mornings after dream group. I'm used to not knowing how I'm going to feel, the wonderment of waking up angry, hurt, tearful, bemused, crying, laughing - you don't know what's going to happen. All you know is somehow you will process the events of the evening before, whatever went on. Sometimes nothing happens. Sometimes it feels like you're facing the full force of a rugby scrum. There are days after dream group when you are reaching for the Prozac and others where you skip out of bed all content with the world.

Rule four of dream group - one dream at a time.

We did my dream last night after a few weeks of me trying my hardest to avoid being up for scrutiny. The dream itself was innouous enough or so I thought. An hour later, after relating some of the less savoury and painful parts of my past, I came away with a few gems.

According to the dream, it's time for me to get out from my self-imposed shadow. And it's time for me to find a new name for myself.

Not so much a name to function by, but a name to write by. My pedestrian, Anglo-Irish real name is as common as muck. My middle name is even more bland. - I was born in 1968, for pity's sake, you only got a choice if Anne, Jane, Marie or Louise for a middle name if you were a girl!

According to dream group, my "Pandora Behr" nom de plume sounds too much like a porn star - though I love writing under it - I've been known as Pand for years. I can't use my porn star names - Soxy Mitchell and Sheba Blockers really do sound like women who frequent the adult content films in the straight to DVD aisle. And if I were to write a book,  if I were to have a proper, grown up, pseudonym, what would it be? I'm open to suggestions.

Being of Cornish and Welsh descent, Myfanwy Trevellyan or Rhiannon Trelawney could be goers, or there is the Spanish vein that runs through me from my Dad's side - would I make a decent Soledad Lopez or Graziela Rodriguez?

I'm going to have to ponder this a bit longer. Not that I've ever been completely happy with my name but I'm used to it. It's a big deal to change it.

(And before you ask, dream group sometimes demands change of you - I went blonde for a bit and wore a lot of blue for a while. It can be challenging, especially when you look like Myra Hindley, the British child murderer, when you've gone blonde)

My other news - I have a houseguest. Blarney and her partner Barney have gone to Tasmania for a wedding - and they have left me in charge of their youngest for a few days. Maow Maow is nearly two years old. He comes with all the accoutrements of a two year old - security blanket, toys, food, scratching post (though he still uses the couch), poo collector (litter tray). Like a two year old child, he sits too close to the television, gets under your feet and lays awake until all hours until you give him a bit of attention. He would eat you out of house and home given half a chance.

The best thing for me - I have something to cuddle in the morning, which makes me happy. Cat trumps pillow any day.

Only sad thing for Maow Maow, other than he can't go outside for three days, his favourite chew toy isn't about. Maow Maow loves the Grounded Dutchman, known to the lad as "Uncle Bite-his-nuts". Maow Maow's just going to have to make do with blue teddy, the scratching post and the couch for the next three days.

Card of the Blog: Page of Cups : The starts of emotion. An affectionate youth. Forming thoughs and feelings. An emotional fresh start.


Kilometres walked since 29 January: 73km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 44 km
Currently reading: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why run?

Running affords you some headspace that you wouldn't otherwise wouldn't have.

Just after twelve 'o' clock I strapped on my heart rate monitor, struggled into two bras, climbed into my leggings and singlet and shoved on the trainers. Leaving my work tags with reception, I set out alone for Birrarung Marr and my Tuesday run.

Reindert's words were working through my mind - run slower than you think you need to. Interesting advice, but his three pieces of wisdom for his novice were, run slower, run more often, don't over do it. So, with this in mind, I warmed up on my way to Exhibition and Flinders Streets, joined by many other people in similar dress and look, heading to the river for a run. I was on my own today - Dan was on the late shift, Jason had a meeting and Paul piked on me.

Running solo is different to running with the pack - although we really only walk to our starting spot and meet up after for a stretch, being on my own gave me the option to go on - to not have to be somewhere at a certain time. It also gave me a chance to think.

Five minutes in, I always seem to ask myself why I'm doing this. Why am I training for a marathon? What gives me the audacity to think I can cover 42.2 kilometres? The marathon's eight months away and the 14.6 km Run for the Kids in a fortnight is already frightening me -though I know with intervals I'll be fine.

For me, running is a matter of definition.

I've defined myself by three monikers over the last forty years.

The first came when I was four-years-old. I was defined early, on the corner of Kermode and O'Connell Streets in Adelaide. I was with my mother. We were waiting at the lights to cross the road to the Children's Hospital. Four-year-old me, legs bound in calipers and bandages, unable to bend my legs, held onto my mother's hand.

A passerby made the comment, "Look at that little crippled girl."

The crippled girl. Me.

I spent what seemed like the better part of my childhood in and out of hospital having my legs fixed - to be precise, having my achilles tendons lengthened, my knock knees straightened and my arches lowered. I was never allowed to do sport. Allegedly, my ankles were too weak and sport would be bad for my legs. In a country school this made you somewhat of an outcast as you weren't part of the netball or tennis teams. I was the chubby kid on the sidelines in the plaster boots.

Not being able to run around was made up for by an overactive imagination and a love of reading. Despite finishing treatment when I was twelve, the feeling that sport was bad stayed with me - and running - phah. Can't run. Weak ankles. Running's bad.


Coming with the inactivity of childhood came being chubby. Thirty-five years of inactivity and eating your feelings will do that. So not only was I crippled, I was fat. Exercise was all too hard - fat people didn't exercise.

However, living in London, I discovered walking. I can walk all day. But run - nah. Walking gave me a method of transport and a base fitness. I've walked ever since. But run - no way, too fat and I have weak ankles.

My other definition, the one that has been the most difficult to overcome - invisible. Who want's to see a fat, crippled kid run? I'd get laughed at! They'd shame me off the running track. Invisible people like me don't do things like run. Think of the pot holes. I'd run and the geiger counters would be set off. All too hard. All too confronting. If I were to run, I'd be putting myself out there.

Nelson Mandela said it well - "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?" (Marianne Williamson said this first - but Nelson Mandela is best known for it)

So, for forty years, fat, crippled, invisible me shunned running like I now shun membership to the Australian Liberal Party, lasagne and the thought of working in the banking industry again.

Things clicked over late in 2008, after my fortieth birthday. Reindert took me under his wing. God knows why, but he said I could do it, and I did try, but I gave up. Crippled, fat me go so far on the treadmills, and dropped it after week five of the couch potato plan, thinking it a fool's errand.

A few months later, joined by a mate at the gym, we gave ourselves the challenge of the 4 km Mother's Day Classic - an event that I had walked the 8 km route for the previous four years. And we did it. We did it well for a first run - four kilometres, thirty minutes - and I was hooked.

A year and two half marathons later, I'm contemplating a full marathon. I prefer running outside, only hitting the treadmill when it's hot or raining. And I look forward to going out in a group on Tuesday and Thursday lunchtimes - it makes my day. Friday's I run to work - loving the sense of achievement I get from walking into the office at 8.30 a.m. all sweaty and feeling like I've done something for the day already.

I've shaken the labels of crippled, fat and invisible.

I'm a runner. Not a particularly fast, graceful or slim runner, but a runner nonetheless.

It's a tag I can live with.

Now if only I could learn to accept some other labels - intelligent, sexy, pretty, capable. But we will learn our lessons one at a time.

I returned to the office and hour later, red faced, sweaty - and happy.

Card for the Blog: Two of Cups - a meeting of minds, a relationship, a contract. Meeting as equals.


Kilometres walked since 29 January: 66 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 39 km
Currently reading: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reasons to be Cheerful

Studying on the weekends is the worst. Studying work-related tripe on the weekend is tantamount to purgatory. Somehow, against the odds, I've finished the fifth unit of the Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment. And there was much rejoicing.

The thing that gets me the most is that if Tin Can, String and Whistle Ltd had got their act together I might have been able to do this in a classroom over a week and have the whole thing done and dusted eighteen months ago. But eighteen months ago I had a different boss with a different agenda. Which leaves me hunched over a computer on weekends feeling somewhat resentful.

I can see this week as being a time to play "Reasons to be Cheerful." Not the Ian Dury and the Blockheads version, but my game of remembering to keep up the attitude of gratitude.
"Reasons to be Cheerful" was developed by a psychologist I saw years ago. I still play it now, it keeps me on the straight and narrow, which, by that I mean it helps to keep me spiralling into depression. It's one of my tactics for keeping myself on the level. And the attitude of gratitude - ah, well that is one of my life's mottos. If you're thankful for what you have, and thankful for what you are receiving, it helps keep the negativity at bay.

Thankfully, I've never been diagnosed with clinical depression, never taken anti-depressants, never had a mental health plan - even though some have said I have needed one in the past. Mild depression is insidious, but I've been lucky to have had some great help over the last ten years. Before meeting Bill, my first psychologist, I thought it was normal to cry yourself to sleep every night. Dream group is my therapy now - and if things get bad I know where to go for help.

Anyway, good food, not too much alcohol, sleep and exercise all keep me sane and content enough. Reason's to be cheerful helps when the twinges of the blues come my way - which will happen to anybody when they've been stuck inside devising training plans for some course you will never present.

So, this week's Reasons to be Cheerful (1,2,3 - done in a Billericay accent)

I'm getting a cat on Wednesday
I'm going overseas later in the year and I'll get to see some of my favorite people
My running is getting better
I have a job that I like working with people that I like
My ankles are thin, my skin supple, my hair sometimes does what it's told
I've upped my calories, making me lose weight and not feel so grumpy
Fresh figs are in season
You can get fresh pineapple in the supermarket
My sheets are pure cotton and high thread count
My friends are lovely and caring and supportive
I get to walk to work every day
It hasn't been a too hot a summer
Healing and tarot clients have been coming thick and fast
I'm writing again - and not documents for a telecommunications company
Nobody I know is sick or dying that I know of

That will do for the moment - I know it seems like an unlikely list, but there is a lot to be cheerful about.

Other things for this week - give Pinochet a stern talking to about his current training methods that are leaving me hobbled after every session - I'm over it. Get the running up and pick up the new ASICS that are sitting at Athlete's Foot in the city. Still can't believe I'm going through a pair of runners every four months.

Card of the Blog: Nine of Cups - Acheiving. Lots of love around you. Contentment. Abundance.

A reason to be cheerful..

For those unaware of the musical stylings of Ian Dury and the Blockheads, please follow this link:



Kilometres walked since 29 January: 60 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 34 km
Currently reading: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Gentle Art of Procrastination

What I should be doing tonight:

Finishing the fifth unit of the Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment - Design Module 2 which is due in Monday.

What I have done tonight:

Washed the kitchen floors
Hoovered the flat
Painted my toenails
Scrubbed the grouting in the shower
Taken out the recycling
Pruned my eyebrows
Work on the blankets for Blarney's babies
Flossed my teeth
Got a bag of old clothes ready for the Salvos
Shredded some old bank statements
Sipped on a glass of Laphroaig with a little water
Put my training schedule for next week into a spreadsheet
Hoovered again
Talked to the Grounded Dutchman's best mate online
Texted Blarney about tomorrow
Fitted in a reflexology client
Dusted the flat
Alphebetised the CDs in genre specific files
Two loads of washing
Sipped on a glass of Glenmorangie
Read a few blogs
Tended my virtual farm
Surfed iTunes for a couple of things
Took photos of myself on my iPhone
Deleted photos of myself on my iPhone
More crochet work on Blarney's babies' blankets
Made my bed
Checked my lotto ticket (won nothing)
Moisturised my legs
Washed the bathroom floor
Scrubbed the toilet
Cleaned out my handbag (overdue)
Watched "Waitress" (Fabulous film)
Checked my email
200 sit ups
Three rounds of light arm weights
Tidied the shoe cupboard
Set the alarm for tomorrow so I can get to Pump class at 9.3o

And who says procrastination is the thief of time?


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Absence of Choice

There is a Sufi saying, "Freedom is the absence of choice."

I'm getting a a true taste of what is meant by this.

A good friend is struggling with the decisions of Tin Can, String and Whistle Ltd. Lots of people are struggling with some of their decisions, but I see my friend's torment and I can't help getting dragged into some his anxiety. To stay or to go? Lots of people are asking this at the moment. Myself included.

Complicating matters for my friend is a visa situation. To remain in Australia, or to go back to Europe? What are the benefits? What are the isues? What are the problems?

See to me - there would be no choice. Get the visa papers. Stay. Have the option to be in both places. This isn't a choice, but giving yourself options. But he is steadfast in not taking up permanent residency. His choices and options are different.

I'm sure some of my ove- reacting is because a large number of my friends have left or are leaving the country and the company. I also know I have to look at my options in the near future when it comes to work. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? What next?

As I have no direct support network, no partner to financially keep me going, I'm responsible for myself. I have no choice but to work. How it must be to have choices around whether to work. I don't know what this is like. Maybe this should be the next thing to search for. Maybe my freedom is in having to work - and not knowing where the world will take me.

Card of the blog: The Hanged Man - At the crossroads, stop and look around, martyrs, victims, seeing things from another view, surrendering to the world and letting things happen, stagnation, looking at ones options from all sides.

Gotta love the tarot deck.


Kilometres walked since 29 January: 56 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 32 km
Currently reading: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Divided World

My world has separated into two distinct worlds. In one world, I can talk about running. In the other, I cannot.

The division lines are fairly clear. Of course, I know that my running buddies can be counted on to discuss everything from training techniques, to what happened out there, to races coming up and of course, the marathon in October. It's a real little club of it's own, and one I never thought I would be a part of.

Then there is the others. The ones that I must either not talk about running with or conceal the fact that I'm into exercise completely. Not that exercise takes up all of my time, thoughts and energy. I normally talk of other subjects 99 percent of the time, but some people get really narky when you begin to talk about exercise. Work Husband, I can excuse. I'm fine with not talking running with him - I know the subject hurts him. My dream group get a bit militant about me exercising. There are a couple of others who I know not to mention the topic to - just leave it.

Part of me knows that some of the latter group are concerned. Two years ago I was morbidly obese. Though not slim now, I'm not in that weight bracket any more. I've also been training sensibly and hard for two years - I know my limits and I know my ranges, I make sure I stretch, and rest and cross train. The last year has been a wonderful journey getting in touch with myself and my body. Until last year something completely foreign to me and I'm enjoying the ongoing work.

There is another group who just can't comprehend what I'm doing. There is some jealousy and denial involved with this. But then again, I can get a little bored and stroppy when people go on about their children or their boyfriend/husband without drawing breath every time I see them. I see the similarities - non exercising people forced to listen to mad woman talking farklets, distance and sweat - it's comparable to an unmarried, childless woman having to listen to conversations about little Tarquin's bowel movements or the lastest wonderful witty thing that Mr Man of the Moment has spouted.

(Pandora retracts her claws)

And then there are the amazed - stay away from them.

There is a boss at Tin Can, String and Whistle who I see at our Friday Beer Club. I like Boss Man, he's an old school sweetie of an engineer. Read into this, if he were twenty years younger, HR would be having a field day. We talk now and then. He cottoned on to the fact that I've been running distance for a while. I remember our first conversation:

Boss Man: So, you know, my secretary trained up for the half marathon. She did it on the day in 3 hours 20 minutes and couldn't walk for three days after.

Pandora: Oh, really. I did that race too.

Boss Man: And how did you do?

Pandora: I got through in 2 hours 40 and I was fine the next day.

This perplexed the Boss Man. He took a sip of his beer and pondered a bit. Boss Man should have quit while he was ahead.

Boss Man: That's really good for a larger lady.

Every time I see Boss Man he shakes his head at me and repeats the words, "That's really good for a larger lady." I said HR would have a field day.

I'm tempted to retort one day "I may be fat, I'm working on it. You're old - nothing you can do about that."

Card of the Blog: Death. Slow, necessary, transformative change. Rebirth, reincarnation. A new life.

Too apt.


Kilometres walked since 29 January: 50 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 27.5 km
Currently reading: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nine Months

A lot can be achieved in nine months. A human gestates in that time. Three seasons go by. A school year.

In nine months to the day I will be running my very first marathon. On 17 October, I will be in Bar Harbour, Maine, USA competing in the Mount Desert Island Marathon - with Freaky Running Ex Boss by my side. I can't keep calling him Freaky Running Ex Boss - I hereby rename him Reindert. Good Dutch name. Reindert has been a wonderful coach - I'm just chuffed he's asked me to do this.

And I have to use those airline tickets for something.

I am scared. I am overwhelmed, and I am beginning to comprehend the fact that I have nine solid months of training to get through this without doing myself an injury.

And I am very proud of myself for even thinking I can do this.

Most people have been really supportive. Only Work Husband treated the news with trepidation. He has a bit of a funny relationship to running. It's one of the few things we don't talk about - I can talk to him about nearly anything else. Thinking about it, not talking running with Work Husband might be a good thing. It will make me talk about something else.

It's been a good day today. Book Group was good - more on that at another time. Work was okay. I found a second Huntsman carcass on the air conditioner, which means that firstly, the fumigation worked and secondly hopefully that is the end of the huntsmen for a while - I've lived here for four years and these are the first I've seen. They normally travel in pairs. And bravely, I hoovered up the body. No drama, no tears.

And tomorrow, funny day. I have to take Andrew to the doctor. Andrew is my car. A Toyota Echo. Why Andrew? Why not a woman's name? Back in the dark ages I had a boyfriend who jokingly named his willy Andrew. It was small, it got me where I wanted to go...

Card of the Blog: The Magician - I can do anything. Purity. Passion. Creation.

Kilometres walked since 29 January: 50 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 27.5 km
Currently reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Me/Not Me

The weekend has been more productive than I first thought. I have done some study. I have done a little bit of writing for the writing job. The house is a bit cleaner. I found a new running track, with hills, on the way to the Abbotsford Convent for the Writer's Festival.

One huge triumph - I killed my first huntsman spider today. Aged 41, I found the inner strength to slay my first big, hairy beast.

I don't like killing things, but huntsman spiders strike me immobile with fear - we can't exist in the same room. Until today, when a huntsman graced my dwelling I called a big, strong, hairy man to come and do my bidding. I have a posse of big, strong, hairy men who enact my will when necessary. They are generally friends, or friend's husbands who get borrowed for the very occasional household job - the ones I don't dare tackle, like putting up blinds or fixing big electrical things. I'm pretty self sufficient, but sometimes it's good to ask for help.

I also work with engineers, and as they like fixing things, if you throw in a meal or a batch of biscuits, they think it's great and happily do your minor jobs for you without complaint.

But as the Grounded Dutchman is back in Holland, Freaky Running ex boss is in Boston MA, Work Husband is more scared of huntsmen spiders than me and Silly Dutchman wouldn't pick up his phone, still deafened from the AC/DC concert the night before, I decided to manage the situation myself. For once I would be brave. I also had to get my sorry bum back to Abbotsford Convent by 9.30 am as I was playing roadie for the morning.

Half a can of Pea Beu and two repeats of the Hewbrew Kaddish for the Dead later, I was pretty sure I'd killed it. The carcass had to wait until I got back from the festival.

Volunteering at the Writers Festival at the Convent is something I've done for years. I'll do anything for a book voucher, which is the normal payment for spending a few hours helping out about the place - whether that be acting as an usher, manning the information desk, running the car park or playing sound technician.

I've worked my way up to the technician or roadie job over the years - the most coveted volunteer job. It's cool. You listen into these fascinating sessions with writers you may or may not know about and all you have to do is make sure they can be heard at the back of the room. They think you're great. You direct the sessions, keep time and cut people off when asked to. Good fun.

I listened to the wonderful Alex Miller yesterday, a wry man in his sixties whose intellect astounded me. There was a session on Australian Bushfires, a session on eating in Paris and I sat in on a very interesting fellow talking about Jewish Emanciption. Alex Miller brought up the concept of the writer imposing themselves in a book - the me/not me principle. Stamping a bit of yourself in your writing when you are not there. All writers of fiction get this principle.

It was a case if me/not me in the first session today. A panel talking about the narrative voice. On the podium, my own me/not me scenario played out.

I was transported back twenty three years to a Politics tutorial. Sitting in front of me with this book of travel tales was a fellow tutorial mate, still a long streak of piss, better dressed, no earrings. Gone was the threadbare, standard issue army disposal canvas sack, the stovepipe jeans, the mass of black, curly hair and the post adolescent hunch. In front of me, talking eloquently of his travels and his psychoses was a forty-year-old man, not looking a day over thirty, rather sexy in an academic way, but still the quintessential Joel I used to hide behind in Politics tutes.

He looked at me. I looked at him.

You don't forget a bloke like Joel easily - his intelligence, his intensity, his large smelly feet, the fact that he'd go off on tangents every second sentence. You knew he was going to be a star.

You'd have forgotten my seventeen-year-old self in a heartbeat.

There was a glance of recognition in his gaze as he watched me slide the knobs on the sound board.

And I was sitting there, transported back to my days at University. Being honest, I have blocked a lot of my first three years at uni, bunching it in with most of my childhood. I was still a child when I got to uni, a child who'd suffered from years of emotional neglect and a lack of general nurturing. A child who had no idea who she was or what she was capable of. A child who had many lessons to learn but had no idea who to learn from. No idea how to make friends, how to grow, how to learn, how to survive, I floundered.

Next to a guy like Joel I felt like a speck of dust.

And there, behind the sound desk was my current self. Moderately successful, solvent, confident, stable. The lessons I had no idea about a quarter of a century ago have been digested. There was no intimidation. No fear. No hiding.

Joel and I chatted briefly, remembering me and our shared tutor, who features in his book under an assumed name. He asked what I did. I write for a living - okay, I write documents for a telco - but I write.

I bought two copies of his book. I'll send the other copy to the Grounded Dutchman to try encourage him to write down his wonderful stories.

Somewhere in the ether, seventeen year old me is lurking, waiting to come out, waiting for life to happen to her, waiting for her to stop hiding, waiting for her to stand her ground and take the time to learn.

It's why I dread meeting people who knew me at school and university. There are only a handful of people I've kept in contact with. Eight years in England knocks you out of most people's social circles - a blessing in itself as it lets you have a fresh start. Moving to another city when I returned to Australia sealed the deal.

She of twenty odd years ago was a half person. You don't remember diminished people. They fade into the wallpaper. I like to think that people who meet me now remember who I am.

Card for the blog: Two of Cups. Healing. A contract. Bringing emotions into balance. A relationship. Duality. Two becoming one.


Kilometres walked since 29 January: 43 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 23 km
Currently reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Time Management 101

Things I should do this weekend:

Clean the flat
Finish that fifth Module of the Cert IV in Workplace Training and Assessment
Finish the last three web pages for that writing job that will give me money to pay off this computer in one foul swoop
A pump class
Go over the Westgate to see Blarney and the Maow Maow
Call my brother-in-law for his birthday

Things I am doing this weekend:

Volunteering at a writing festival (and please give me ushering or teching - I'll be damned if I'm manning the car park again)
Reading cards at a Hen's Party in Doncaster tonight - wherever the hell that is.
Running tomorrow morning along the Yarra
Pondering the assignment and the writing job
Too many game of Bejewelled Blitz

Things I wish I was doing this weekend:

Clive Owen
Spike from Buffy

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Fallout from Dream Group

Another one of those little things I do - Dream Group. Sounds innocuous enough.

Well it isn't.

What is Dream Group? First rule of Dream Group is you don't talk about Dream Group. Second Rule of Dream Group. If it's your first night at Dream Group, you have to dream.

Actually, the second rule isn't quite the case. Normally when new people come to dream group, a closed circle of women who share their lives through their dreamscapes, they won't give a dream until they are settled in the group. It takes a while to 'get' what dream group is about. You listen to others in the group, you take in what their dreams are saying. Sometimes you come out and it's like you've been asleep for the hour and a half you are in there.

And sometimes, like Wednesday night, you come out feeling as if you have had the payload of a F16 deposited on you. Dream group can lead to you being grumpy, elated, paranoid, schizto, depressed, happy, sad ... or all of the above, all at the same time, for a week.

Wednesday night the dream was given. Lots was spoken about. All of us were impacted. We walked out looking a little unsettled. I had trouble getting to sleep. So much was going around in my head.

Woke Thursday, grumpy. Went to work, grumpy. Nearly called a few people incompetent, moronic buffooons - most unlike me. Then went for my lunchtime run with the boys.

Here was the rub. I'm getting a lot better at this running lark - but yesterday, I made it two kilometres - 8 minutes in, before starting to hyperventilate. It was shocking. All I could do was sit by the Yarra, cry and try to settle my breathing. I blamed Pinochet for making me do so many squats on Tuesday. I blamed the hot weather. I blamed Tin Can, String and Whistle Ltd.

Then, when the breathing had normalised it came to me what was upsetting me. Dream Group. A few words from the evening before kept going around and around my head. The bomb that got let off the night before. I walked back to the office, defeated, but pleased to have some resolution.

And who says running isn't mental?

It was noted that I was quiet. One or two know what I get up to on Wednesday evenings. Work Husband asked me if I was okay. I just shoved some music through the headphones and got on with things. I also spoke to another member of the group to see if they were okay - they were in the same state as me. Sometimes you can only talk to others in the group about what's going on. It's a closed circle, they are the only ones who understand.

This morning I completed my allotted run over eight kilometres and it was fantastic. the noise in my head wasn't there. The angst planted there the night before was over. Enough wounds were opened on Wednesday - running should have smoothed over some of these scars yesterday. It's great I have this release.

Card of the Blog: Ten of Cups. Happiness, happy families, feeling joy, knowing peace.

This is what we all wish for.


Kilometres walked since 29 January: 37 km
Kilometres run since 29 January: 23 km
Currently reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog bu Muriel Barbery, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Going Gently into that Goodnight

I know I do a heap of weird and wonderful things. Once a month on a Monday I am found at my co-freemasonry meeting. Yes, I am a Co-Freemason. Rather than going into it, look it up on Wikipedia or Google, you will find out more about it there than I'm prepared to tell you. I like it. It's my way of celebrating God without Jesus. Nobody else's business but my own, but I love the lack of dogma, the sense of belonging and the joys of mixing with people I'd never normally meet.

But there are a number of things that I really love about my mason's meetings.

1. I now have an abundance of mother's and grandmother's that get me.

Most of the women there are in their sixties, seventies and eighties with names like Beryl, Olive and Eunice. For a mob of old dears they're a sprightly mob. Interested and interesting. And they seem to get me. I love this. I wish my own mother would understand me like these people. I reckon I'd have far fewer hang ups if she did. The fellowship is outstanding.

2. Once a month I'm not seen as a complete freak

Again, I've grown into my eccentricities quite nicely with age. It has taken a bit, but I knowing I'm a bit mad helps get me through when I meet "normal" people. I don't meet many normal people - most people I meet are a bit mad anyway. At co-freemasons, the fact that I run distances is seen as freaky. All the other stuff I do, dream group, tarot, kabbalah, all of this is well within the bands of normal. Gotta love that.

3. They make the BEST curried egg sandwiches for supper.

I don't get these often - love them. You also get the occasional dolmades, vanilla slice, cake and home made scones. These ladies put the CWA to shame.

Last night we were told of the passing of one of our members. A lovely lady who really helped me find my feet at co-masons. She was a sprightly old thing until early last year, when she started to slow. Admittedly she was in her late eighties, but it is still sad. Her wicked sense of humour kept me entertained, her knowledge astounded me. I can see her now, meeting St Peter, with a twinkle in her eye and a finger pointing out something that could be set right. Joycey, you will be missed. It was an honour to know you. I know you're in a wonderful place - but keep on being you - heaven needs a ratbag.

Have given my commitment to freaky, running ex-boss for the marathon in Maine.
We will remain in denial for a bit longer.

Card for the blog: Eight of Wands - moving forward, the arrows of love, air travel, energy.



Kilometres walked since 29 Jan: 36
Kilometres run since 29 Jan: 13
Currently reading : The Elegance of the Hedgehog bu Muriel Barbery, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who knows the future?

I have read tarot cards for over fifteen years. I have been reading tarot professionally for nearly five of those years. Do I live my life by the cards. No. Do I get blown away by what I see in the cards each time I read for others. Yes.

Do I wonder how people can be so miserable for so long. Yes.

Today's tarot job was another hen's party. I do quite a few hen's parties over the year. Most of the time it's held at the mother of the bride's place. You meet the bride, a slim, fake tanned beauty in her twenties who is tying the knot. They're scared, they're overwhelmed with the wedding thing, they're up to theire eyeballs in debt, worry and stress. Then you meet the mother of the bride, the envious best friend/bridesmaid, the sad case you can't place, normally from primary school that Mum invited, the flaky workmate, the spinster aunt.... the list goes on. Hen's parties are all the same. The location and the number of strippers is what varies.

There were two treats at today's reading. First up, Nonna. Nonna was 85 if she was a day. From the South of Italy, her English wasn't great and somebody had to translate the reading. And the anger that came off of those cards! If there is a story in the news about a little Italian lady knocking off her husband in the next few weeks - odds on it's Nonna.

The other person who really impressed me was the kid sister. Kid sister's at hen's partys are often so high on champagne they can't sit straight. This one was a breath of fresh air. Double the size of her twiglet sister, though just as fake tan orange, this kid has chutzpah. She's going to run the world one day. Lovely, blessedly positive, happy cards. You don't see that much.

The thing I suppose I find most confronting is that people are looking for comfort and answers. I don't have the answers - and I'm not a counsellor, so I can't give comfort - though I do not go out to incite at these events. Even if I did, what would be the point - why make people cry on happy days? I just tell them what I see. Sometimes you see too much. Sometimes you see nothing.

Tarot is an intellectual affair. It's not a science, but it is a skill. It's when the sixth sense kicks in, that's when it gets interesting. This doesn't come all the time. I can't tell you what it is - but I believe what makes me a good reader, rather than just a reader.

It's also part performance, part social worker, part best friend and part drill sargeant. Some people are are the stock and trade, others need more specialised care. Sometimes you go away from these events and you know that you may have helped somebody change their life for the better. And that too feels good.

The only other thing I will say about hen's parties. They make me a little glum. I've never had one held for me. I think I would like that one day, and one day soon. You gotta put your goals out there...

Will talk about running tomorrow. I think I've talked myself into this marathon in Maine. Heaven help us.

Card for the Blog: Nine of Cups - lots of love around. Keeping love and gains to yourself. Repletion. Gain. Attaining love.



Kilometres walked since 29 Jan: 22 kilometres
Kilometres walked since 29 Jan: 8.5 kilometres
Currently reading: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbary, UltraMarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Friday, February 5, 2010

To run, or not to run

Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the shin splints and strains of outrageous exhaustion, or by cessation, end them. To jog, to crawl, to jog perchance to finish - ah, there's the rub...

Freaky Running Boss - My wonderful friend, who has moved back to Boston, USA, ex boss, ex Dutchman, runner of a marathon a month, has asked whether I would like to run in the Mountain Desert Island Marathon in Maine, USA on 17 October 2010. And he will do it with me, at my speed.

Freaky Running Boss did the Boston Marathon in about 3:05 last year. I did the Adelaide Half Marathon in 2:39 last year. For somebody who was not running in March last year, this is a big thing. His generosity knows no bounds.

That Freaky Running Boss was the one who inspired me to start running is one thing. That he saw me through 18 of the 21 kilometres of the Adelaide Half marathon, egging me on gently and making me sprint the last half kilometre. Not many people can or will do that for you.

I am scared. I am looking at this and thinking, me - marathon? 42.2 kilometres of sheer pain and perseverence! What will the training do to my social life? What will the training do to my body?I'm still sore from Tuesday's torture session with Pinochet. Don't ask me questions like this when I'm having trouble sitting down, standing up and moving my shoulders. Repeatedly throwing around a spare tyre and sprinting in the heat will do this to you.

And why am I even considering booking myself in for this?

Card for the Blog: Three of Swords. Old pain. Suck it up Princess. Deal with your issues. Move on and do it.

Looks like I had better get running....

Kilometres walked since 29 Jan: 22 kilometres
Kilometres walked since 29 Jan: 8.5 kilometres
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (nearly finished), UltraMarathon Man by Dean Karnazes
Weight lost since 29 Jan: 0.7 kg

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Madness vs Lunacy

Madness is going for a run at lunchtime in 32 degree heat.

Lunacy is following it up later with the trainer a few hours later in 32 degree heat. Though at least the latter session was in the shade, with a breeze flowing past. And my partners in training were in exactly the same boat. Swearing, cursing and wishing ill on our dear trainer, Pinochet.

I look upon my training buddies as my angels, the people who keep me going, the people who inspire me. Without them this would all be so much harder. It's also nice to pit yourself against women 15 years your junior and a lot of the time out run, out lift and out last a some of them. Today I trained with K & H. They usually whip my butt - gives me something to work towards.

Being honest, I wasn't going to run at lunchtime. Then I got the call and Daniel (one of my main inspirations) and we went down to the Yarra together. It was hard. After starting well I had to drop back to minute intervals - my heart rate was too high, it was hurting, it was just too bloody hot. But I'm glad I did it. There is a sense of achievement in overcoming the fear of running in the heat (and not doing yourself injury).

Can I say the same for throwing a spare tyre over my head in the gym's courtyard, running 20 metre sprints, elevated planks, triceps dips and every other torture method my dearest Pinochet could think of later on in the evening. The only solace was getting a smile out of the rather dishy, slacker Gen Why dude at the gym's reception.

Pinochet is not my trainer's real name, it's just that he's from Chile and he's a dictator, so it sort of fits. Mind you I don't think the real General Pinochet was ever as hot as his namesake, but that's the cross we have to bear.

My head is still spinning about my travel options. I will leave that for the today.

Besides, after two rather confronting sweat sessions, I think I'd better go to bed.

Card of the Blog: Three of Pentacles - serving one's apprenticeship. Going out into the world. Proving oneself worth. Building for the future.

Like this.


Kilometres walked since 29 Jan: 16
Kilometres walked since 29 Jan: 4
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Monday, February 1, 2010

How in Heaven's Name....?

I received a call from one of the directors of Tin Can, String and Whistle today.

Okay, I need to start this blog earlier than 2 pm today. In my life good things happen sporadically. I can say hand on heart that other than three short story competitions and the odd movie ticket, I have won very few things. I wouldn't say I'm unlucky, but I don't win things. I'm much better and working towards something and gaining it that way.

So just before Christmas last year the company of Tin Can, String and Whistle announced a competition where employees were asked what the National Broadband Network would bring to Australia in the future. A great prize was on offer. In a fit of boredom in a spare fifteen minutes, I threw in an entry.

The director was calling to tell me I'd won the competition. And now, I have until 30 November 2010 to use two cattle class tickets to anywhere in the world where Singapore Airlines flies.

Linda Blair in the Exorcist has nothing on my head spins.

Okay, I'm excited. I'm thrilled. It's fantastic. How often do you win two tickets to anywhere in the world? Where do I go? What do I do? What sort of holiday do I go on? Too much to think about.

And then what about my goals - if I go away, what about the running, what about the saving money, what about finding somebody? Won't that detract from some of these things? Or do I incorporate the New York Marathon into my training? Now there is a goal.

Breathe, Pandora.

Something this monumental happens rarely.

And it happens for a reason.

I have some contemplating to do. Being alone, who do I go with? Do I take my mother away for her 70th birthday? Do I try and amend the ticket to a single round the world jobbie and take six weeks off? Ah, it's all too hard.

Will go for a nice cleansing run at lunch tomorrow to clear my head.

Tarot card for the Blog: Six of Pentacles.

What is my worth? Am I giving or receiving? Balanced, measured giving. Being given what you need. Having enough.

Okay that changes my perspective a bit.

I have no idea how I'm going to sleep tonight.


Kilometres walking since 29 Jan: 13 km
Kilometres runsince 29 Jan: 0 km
Currently Reading: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

An Open Letter to Tony Abbott's Wife

Dear Mrs Abbott,

Please don't ban your husband, Tony, from wearing speedos in public. I know that the humble budgie smuggler in normal, polite society, should not be seen except on professional athletes, regular lap swimmers and boys under twelve, but as the current taste police I'm willing to grant your husband an exception. I think you should be very proud of your husband's physique. He's doing very well for an aging fellow. Nice pecs too.

However it would be appreciated if you kept him in the house when he's about to spout off his misogynist, "lame, gay, churchy loser" views. I know he's the Leader of the Opposition, but I'm sure you have lots of jobs around the house that can keep him busy. Keep him reigned in, that would be lovely.

Thanks in advance,

Ms P.Behr