Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Of my many virtues, patience certainly isn't one of them.

I'm supposed to be taking off for the wonders of Malaysia, Singapore, the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland and Spain in 41 days.

I also have a pain in my side that has been there since early July which is stopping me from doing things I love, like exercising and running. And now I must wait for the specialist to call me back to make an appointment.

This is all doing my head in!

After seeing my lovely GP at the end of last week, I finally got a reasonable diagnosis and the doctor gave me a referral to a gynaecologist who should be able to fix me up. She said that I should be able to get in to see this doctor in a few days or so and then she'll more than likely have to operate to sort this out. According to the internet, this will involve shoving things into my belly button to hoik out the offending items,which look like they are some sort of cyst and possibly a gammy fallopian tube.

But until I see the gynaecologist, I can't be sure what needs to be done definitively.

So my head is going around and around wondering when I'm going to see this woman? (whose name is Desiree - can you trust a doctor called Desiree?) What is she going to do to me? When is this going to happen? When is the pain going to go away? It's been particularly draining in the last week.

And what of the holiday? What about that? Can I get this all fixed quickly or do I have to schlep around the world with this nagging, itchy ache? And do I have the sick leave to cover this?

Waiting makes my head spin. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I'm going to go now and try and think about things I can control. Writing jobs and the last unit of my Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment.
Selling crap on ebay.
Thinking about what I want to do when I get back from holidays
Keeping my calorie consumption to 1500 a day (without having the luxury of running I have to do this)

Will stop whinging now.
Sick of that too.

And apologies for talking about "girlie bits" once again. "LALALALALALALALA"


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Broken Bits

Much is made of the relationship that men have with the appendage between their legs.

Not as much is said about the relationship women have with their corresponding body parts.

It's a rather strange anomaly. Think about it - how many naked women do you see on television - how many full frontal shots of woman, normally sans pubic hair, are visible on mainstream television after the watershed - then think about how many times you see a naked fellow in full view. Let alone a bloke with a stiffy. Jeez, that would just be wrong wouldn't it!

I've been reassessing my relationship with my nether regions over the last few months since this rather inconvenient pain has shown up on my side over what is known in medical terms as McBurney's point, or roughly where your appendix is. Mid July I ended up spending eight hours waiting at St Vincent's hospital only to be told, "You've got something around your ovary, it's not appendicitis, it's not cancer, we're not sure what it is but you'll need it investigated in a few months when things settle down. We're going to treat you for chlamydia and the clap just in case". My reaction to the meds was almost as bad as the shere annoyance about not knowing what was going on. And what do you mean a few months? I have to live with this pain? You're effing joking.

Annoyance moved to acceptance after seeing my GP a few days later. Yes, this was going to take a few months to resolve. Deal with it, don't run much, rest - and the pain would ease.

The guys at work have asked why I haven't been running. "Something's wrong with the nether regions" is enough to make them put their hands on their ears and go "LALALALALALA." Others have asked in more specific terms about what's going on. "Oh, my wife has those problems," is a common response - before throwing their hands over their ears and singing, "LALALALALA."

My poor vajayjay (thanks Grey's Anatomy) went into spasms at this point. And my head started to spin. There's something wrong down under. Argh. Would this mean I'd been flashing my bits to the world in the near future? Were my poor neglected nether regions finally going to get an airing and not in a way I'd like them to be presented?

Maybe it's my Methodist upbringing or just the fact that there's not been anybody significant in my life for years, but all this talk of my girlie bits has been truly confronting. I've been very fortunate to not have had any problems down that way, so other than the fundamental two yearly service, I'm a gynaecological virgin.

I remember being told at the age of six or seven by my dear old grandmother, "Wash between your legs, it will be important one day."

I finally worked out what she was saying at the age of thirty-five.

Thanks for the advice, Gran.

So, Tuesday, I presented myself to the Epworth for the follow up ultrasound. After being messed around with where to go, an hour after drinking the required litre of water, I was taken by a radiography student to the room where the ultrasound would be done. I looked at the gurney and the mass of electronic equipment, and then to the door, which lead out the the waiting room and reception area.

Argh. Was I to be exposed to the world?

Thankfully not. The radiographer came in and locked the door, after closing a screen in the corridor before entering.

I'm not going to say the ultrasound was pleasant, but it didn't hurt and the operator acted in a professional and sensitive way. Even better, I was treated like an intelligent human being, not a piece of meat . Finally, I know what's going on. There are some cysts on my fallopian tube that will need to come out. I have the pictures. Now it's a matter of going back to the doctor, getting a referral to a specialist and seeing what happens from there.

All of this is still confronting. You do what you have to do. I've got no problems being examined. I have no idea how anybody who's pregnant or has trouble copes with repeated examinations.

Or maybe this is my own strange little foible that I need to deal with and get over. Think of it as any other bit of my body, like a leg or an arm and get on with it - and get it out of my head that if you don't use it, you lose it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Plan B

Like many other bloggers, I'm not going to go into the current Australian Political condition. We got what we deserved, and in many ways, I think this may be the start of something great. We have to start demanding more from our government, more compassion, more choice, more sensible answers off the people we elect to serve us in government. No more of this polictical back biting - SAY WHAT YOU STAND FOR - for pity's sake. Besides, I'm happy, I live in the seat of Melbourne - we have the only Green House of Representatives member in the country and he seems like a very decent bloke.

Oh, and my tarot cards say that after compromise an a decent look at what it is we really want, and elder statesman will rise up to either block or take control. Expect another election to be called in nine weeks -  or the back end of October. Let's see how accurate they are.

Okay, it's now time for Plan B.

The sabbatical, which I have been bleating on about, the one that my manager and his manager encouraged me to put in for got rejected by the senior leadership team, or SLT as they will be known from now on. The reason for this - they see me as having work in the short term - but they can't project me out for six months at this stage. So basically this means, I might have work. Or I might be  made redundant.

The outcome of Saturday's election doesn't help matters as nobody knows what will happen. The NBN may be canned , they may not be canned. Nobody knows with the state of the nation. In telecommunications nothing is going to move for a while. And we're the largest  supplier of telecommunications equipment in Australia. Everything's going into stasis for a bit.

Not so strangely I'm okay with both options, particularly the last one as it will make me move on rather than just sit here in my boredom, grubbing around for stuff to do. It's been really demoralising. I've gone from having a job I love here at Tin Can, String and Whistle to one where coming in is a drudge.

I'll admit to being really annoyed that this didn't come off, but I am now hoepful that things can turn around. I'm rather put out that the SLT, the nameless faceless Hollow Men if the company can't clearly see a future for me. But, I have a holiday to look forward to and then we can start thinking about life and what I want to do with it - or more to the point, what I want to do with my career. Focus on the positive.

The sabbatical opened up all of this wonderful new thoughts - train as a personal trainer (yes at a chubby 42, here I am thinking I can inspire people to exercise - and I'm not joking), spend an hour a day writing what I want, go contracting in some IT job, meet new people, do new things, have a holiday in Thailand with the new hunky boyfriend (extrapolating that last one out)

Rather than being disheartened and bitter about the sabbatical not happening, it's really opened up my options. For this I'm greatful. Now all I have to do is get off my bum and make it happen.

Before closing, thanks to those who wished me a happy birthday. I had a lovely day. A lovely relaxed day at work, lunch with friends at Nandos - a guilty favorite of mine, dinner with a new friend and then off to the theatre to see the Melbourne Theatre Company's latest offering, which was great fun. The boys at work outdid themselves and there is a bottle of Jo Malone Red Roses furnishing my dresser - something I would never buy for myself, but the DJs gift card let this happen. For a mob of engineers they really are sweet. Even more surprising, the Grounded Dutchman organised all this...

The parents also came over for the weekend. Took Mum and Graham to beer club on Friday night, which was a bit surreal. Thankfully, the guys at work will talk to anybody and the parent didn't disgrace themselves too much. They did call me Pandy in public - but all I can do is cringe and move on from it. They've been calling me Pandy for 42 years - they can't help it. This was followed by far too much food at some great restaurants.

Looking at the world through my parent's eyes is strange. We were walking down Little Bourke Street, the centre of Chinatown,  when my step dad pipes up, "Gee, there are so many Asians around here". Part of me wants to crawl under a rock. Then again, I know my parents aren't intrinsically racist - they are very accepting of all cultures and have travelled to many places over the years. It's just they live in Myponga, South Australia. If you're of Italian or Greek descent you're a bit exotic. They're not used to the city and it's wonderful ethnic blends. I let it go. Where they see lots of Asian people, I just see people. It's all a matter of perspective.

We also had dinner with Alice, Dougall and Jasper, as well as Blarney and Barney on Saturday - that was really cool. Went to a Turkish restaurant that Alice and I really like. That was lovely.

But the highlight of the weekend was getting my darling Toyota Echo, Andrew, bogged up to the front axles in mud down the country late in the Macedon Ranges. We went out to Kyneton for lunch, perfect, then after telling them about the great pinots and large, friendly cat at Curly Flat, we headed for Lancefield. Stepdad navigated. We came to a country lane. He assured me that this was the way - the map said so. What he took me down was barely more than a goat track. The conditions got worse and worse. What was a fairly decent dirt road became narrower and narrower. A recent storm had branches strewing the road. I wanted to turn back. Stepdad urged me on. What Stepdad forgets is that he has a car that can be put into four wheel drive. I drive a city car.

Needless to say we ended up in a large mud puddle up to the axles.

For comfort I checked my phone. Two bars and the GPS could locate us. I felt a litle relief. Then stepdad rolled up his trousers and set to work releasing the car from it's muddy hole. Half an hour later and a very, very grubby step dad we backed out of the puddle.

No pinot noir was had, no big cat was visited. But we went round to Blarney and Barney's for a cuddle of the boys.

A successful, if not slightly strange weekend.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quote of the Day (Part Two)

My darling workmates come up with some crackers. Never thought I'd hear somebody beat the term "horse puppies", but Ting, a Chinese colleague made a decent effort of it at beer club last night.

Ting, Wozza, head of the engineers, and myself were discussing party politics. As per usual, I was detailing why I like the Australian Sex Party so much - other than the god awful name, everything they stood for made sense to me.

Ting: Like what?
Me: Well other than standing for green issues the right to keep the government out of our computers and bedrooms, they believe that voluntary euthanasia should be legal for those who are terminally ill and wish to die with dignity.

Ting looked very concerned.
"But you shouldn't kill the youth. That's bad. That happens in China and it's not good."

Wozza and I did a spit take.
And then proceeded to calm Ting.

Ting: Oh, you mean like those with cancer who want to die, to help them go.
Me: Yes, that's it.
Ting: And not take them behind a shed and shoot them.
Me: No, Ting, something a little more dignified and sensitive.

Ting shook his head again: Oh, that's okay. I thought you wanted to kill the youth.
Wozza: We'd like to sometimes - but if there was a party preaching that they'd get it in too easily and that just wouldn't be fair...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Birthday Eve Meme

I'm turning 42 tomorrow and after a day of eating my body weight in chocolate I've decided to do a meme to keep with the indulgent theme of the day. I thank the Plastic Mancunian for the questions. He's the master of the meme.

Here goes:

1. How old will you be in five years?
Argh. 47. That sounds so old!

2. Who did you spend at least two hours with today?
The guys in my pod - poor loves. Bongo, Pog and Noisy.

3. How tall are you?
5'6" or 168 cms in the new language.

4. What do you look forward to most in the next six weeks?
Preparing for my holiday. Hopefully getting a bit of preholiday gardening leave. Losing 5kgs in preparation for the holiday. Running again. Finding out what this sodding pain in my side is. That will do.

5. What’s the last movie you saw?
In the theatre - Inception - brilliant - though the Grounded Dutchman couldn't cope. On DVD, Valentines Day - soppy crap but good for when you can't sleep at 3 in the morning.

6. Who was the last person you called?
One of the project managers at work.

7. Who was the last person to call you?
The same project manager.

8. What was the last text message you received?
Gloria, asking if I was bringing cake to dream group.

9. Who was the last person to leave you a voicemail?
The project manager at work from questions 7 & 8.

10. Do you prefer to call or text?
Text. I'm useless over the phone. Much better either face to face or on text. However, at work, I like the phone. Just not a phone chatter. And there are times where I just can't be bothered texting so I pick up the phone.

11. What were you doing at 12am last night?
I was in bed reading, about to turn the light off.

12. Are your parents married/separated/divorced?
My parents divorced when I was twenty. Dad died fourteen years ago. Mum has remarried and is very happy. I love my stepdad dearly - he's been more of a dad to me than my own father.

13. When is the last time you saw your mom?
Just after the new year. I drove home for the New Year to look after my sister's kids and dog. But she's coming on Friday for a visit with my stepdad.

14. What color are your eyes?
My eyes are a deep, pine tree green. They look blue, grey or brown in certain lights and conditions. I've never met anybody with my eye colour before. They're the favorite bit of me along with my hair and ankles.

15. What time did you wake up today?
6.08 am - well that's when the alarm went off. Don't ask what time I actually got out of bed.

16. What are you wearing right now?
Striped blue pyjamas.

17. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I dislike Christmas with a passion, but I'm rather fond of the Pogues "Fairytale of New York" with Kristy McColl. Kevin Bloody Wilson's "Hey Santa" isn't bad either.

18. Where is your favorite place to be?
Other than bed - Elia Beach, Mykonos watching the pretty, nakey men wander by.

19. Where is your least favorite place to be?
Probably a toss up between the dentist's chair, on the doctor's table having a pap smear and noisy, crowded pubs where you can't sit down (getting old I am)

20. Where would you go if you could go anywhere?
Zanzibar. Have wanted to go to Zanzibar since the Hoodoo Guru's wrote a song about the place twenty years ago. Looks exotic. The Maldives and Madagascar are a close second.

21. Where do you think you’ll be in 10 years?
If I dream big, my kid's novel has outsold JK Rowling. Happily married and comfortable would be great. I really have no idea - I just hope the next ten years are extraordinary.

22. Do you tan or burn?
I tan. Often I get a little red at first then I go a lovely toasty brown. The joys of Mediterranean skin.

23. Have you ever been in love?
Looking back, I can say, hand on heart, no. I've been in like, infatuated and rather confused over the years, but I've never been in love, or more to the point, never had feelings for somebody who've had the same feelings for me. I hope that changes very soon.

24. What was the last thing that really made you laugh?
A couple of episodes of Weeds over the weekend. And this morning's Dilbert cartoon. Always too apt.

25. What is your favorite smell?
In no particular order, night jasmine, dog's paws in the morning, clean testicles, roast lamb, Cool Water, fresh brewed coffee, hot cinnamon doughnuts, benzoin essential oil, my rose soap that I get in from Portugal. I love the sense of smell.

26. How big is your bed?
It's a standard double. Big enough for me.

27. Do you have a laptop or desktop computer?
Laptop  - and a little netbook for travelling.

28. How many pillows do you sleep with?
Four. One to cuddle, one to fall down the back of the head board and two for my head.

29. What is your favorite season?
Autumn - the closing in nights, the change of bed clothes to the heavier ones, the wrapping up rather than stripping off, kicking piles of leaves, the colours - all good.

30. How many places have you lived in?
Adelaide (born there stayed until eight, then 17-23), Myponga, South Australia (8-17), Melbourne (eleven years), London (eight years)and I will count Mykonos, Greece for a few months too.

31. Do you prefer shoes, socks, or bare feet?
Bare feet. I'd go barefoot all the time if the weather and social convention would allow. The shoes are the first thing to come off when I walk in the door.

32. Are you a social person?
I'm actually rather shy, but I force myself to be social as I live alone. I can be the life of the party, but some if it is an act. I need a hell of a lot of alone time.

33. What is your favorite ice cream?
Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig Jam, Butterscotch and Vanilla. And Ben and Jerry's Cookie Dough Chunk. Thanks goodness the latter hard to source here in Australia - I reckon ice cream is the sixth food group.

34. What is your favorite dessert?
Rusk Restaurant's Halva ice cream sundae, made with halva ice cream, Turkish fairy floss, bits of Turkish Delight and orange flower water syrup. DIVINE!

35. Do you like coffee?
Does a bear poo in the woods? I take it intravenously before midday. Love it - but not the instant stuff. The good stuff.

36. How many glasses of water, a day, do you drink on average?
Eight. I make sure I get two litres a day at least. It's the runner in me.

37. What do you drink in the morning?
A glass of water, a cup of white tea, then I start on a long macciato with a touch of extra skinny milk, or two.

38. What non-banking related card in your wallet is the most valuable to you?
My Hudson's coffee club card and my gym membership. Both get used on a near daily basis.

39. Do you sleep on a certain side of the bed?
As I sleep alone, I take the middle. Though if somebody else is about, I tend to take the right hand side - no idea why, just do.

40. Do you know how to play poker?
Sort of. I get the principles, but that is about it. Like soccer  - I sort of get it.

41. Do you like to cuddle?
I love to cuddle. I just don't get to do it very often. Moaw Moaw, Blarney's cat is my normal cuddle partner. The last human cuddle I received was over two years ago. A very drunk Grounded Dutchman and I ended up asleep wrapped around each other. For a walking pipe cleaner he's rather cuddly. I hope this changes too.

42. Do you have an addictive personality?
Yes. But I can keep a handle on it most of the time.

43.. Do you know anyone with the same birthday as you?
I share a birthday with Bill Clinton, Coco Chanel and the guy who invented Star Trek. There are lots of people born in the week around my birthday - I think it's like 9 months after Xmas. Funny that. I like to think I'm the product of Christmas nooky.

44. Do you want kids?
Strangely, yes. but I'm resigned to the fact that it may not happen. I also subscribe to the Philip Larkin view of parenthood.:

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

If I was to have kids now, I don't think they'd be too messed up now.

45. Do you speak any other languages?
My French is passable, and I have a smattering of Greek. I can say "Two beers, please." in about twenty languages...

46. Have you ever gotten stitches?
Too many to mention. I have to have cysts taken out of my scalp every few years, so that counts for forty or fifty over the years. I also have a scar in my eyebrow where my sister clouted me with a five iron. And there are scars on the back of my ankles where they lengthened my Achilles Tendons.

47. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?
Yes, but only as an ambulance cadet.

48. Do you prefer an ocean or a pool?
Pools. I'm from Adelaide. Pools don't have sharks.

49. Do you prefer a window seat or an aisle seat?
Aisle every time. I don't sleep on long haul flights so I find it better to get up and walk around.

50. Do you know how to drive stick?
Can I drive a manual - of course. I prefer them to automatic cars. More control.
51. What is your favorite thing to spend money on?
Books. DVDs. Entertainment. Clothing. I just like spending money.

It's all a bit random, but as I turn 42 tomorrow I'm hoping the meaning of life will be revealed.

Happy birthday to me.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Tax Accountant

Tax time is always tinged with sadness. It has nothing to do with the having to account for your fiscal actions once a year. As a control freak and spreadsheeter I'm pretty organised. I have an envelope for my receipts for both my small writing and tarot business and for the day job. It's just a matter of tallying everything up, throwing the numbers into excel and making the appointment with the H & R Block - Tax Accountants.

Every year I march myself down Collins Street to a shabby office next to the glory of a half-neglected theatre. It is here that I have to explain myself to the person who will type my details into a computer and then tell me how much the government think I'm worthy of receiving back. The person who sees me is invariably dressed in a cheap suit that doesn't fit quite right in the shoulders, there might be a bit of a facical tick going on, a mole with a bit too much hair on the chin... They will also be a two finger typist, much to my frustration. Accountancy and typing appear to be mutually exclusive.

Tax Accountants are a breed of their own. They're not the stars of the accountancy world - not the high flying CPAs who run small countries and large corporations. They're not the little bookeepers who go from job to job either. These guys are the ones who Monty Python wrote about. (Monty Python's Accountancy Shanty)

To me, tax accountants have one of the worst jobs in the world. For many, the work is seasonal. It's thankless. You get to deal with stressed people who are bent on stretching the truth. The people in the office don't appear to be a cohesive group.

The office itself feels transient too. Aging, navy, prefab chairs, overflowing filing cabinets, the distince need of a lick of paint, a poster that's stuck on with blue tack and fraying a bit in the edges. There's a rim of dust on the plastic plant.

As you're shuffled into a windowless interview room, you wonder if your experience will be the same as last year. You know it will be - only the misfit tax accountant - perfectly pleasant, though at the same time curtly disinterested, will ask questions in automaton fashion. "How much time do you spent working from home?", "Do you have any charity deductions.", "Hang on, let me check that with my manager.."

You spend an hour with these people. They find out some of your most personal details. You know nothing about them, trusting them with you life in so many ways. It is so much a one way service. The poor tax accountant doesn't seem to get much back from their work from what I can see.

I had a result yesterday. Came out with a couple of thousand dollars in my pocket, perfect for my holiday and the ensuing sabbatical.

But the sense of sadness remains.

My father worked for H & Block as a seasonal tax accountant when I was a teenager.

Did people see him in the same way? Shabby, disinterested little man in a short sleeved, polyester business shirt and work shorts? Something a little neglected about him? I know the frustration he used to feel doing this sort of work, bringing home files, having his office manager regularly call during dinner to berate him, seeing the work dry up in summer, only to come back in June.

I don't think these feelings will ever leave me. Thankfully it's just one day of the year.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Taming the Inner Control Freak

I am a control freak. There, I've said it. It's out there for all to diseminate, masticate and digest. I, Pandora T. Behr, have that most annoying of modern conditions, that being the need to control everything.

This is something that I am learning to deal with, sometimes well, other times completely unsuccessfully. I am aware that there are times that I have to relinquish control, and I can say "Okay, you take the reigns for a bit. Go for it. I will let you have your will. I have stated my preferences, you make the decisions, there will be no reprisals for bad judgement. I trust you."

Other times, there's such a nagging hatred of having no control. I feel like this about the nagging pain in my stomach. I am having another ultrasound the week after next. After that it's back to my doctor, then off to a specialist, then who knows what. I just want this fixed NOW! I'm over being woken by the dull ache in my side at four a.m..I'm angry that I can't run because it makes the pain worse. At least all the blood tests have come back negative - something to be very thankful for.

The opposite of this is the sabbatical. I'm taking six months off from my normal work - I have no idea what I will be doing, where I will be working, how much money I will be making or when this will occur. And I love this feeling. I have control over how I look for work, the rest is up to the universe - and this I love. I have the confidence I can get work. It's all a bit of an adventure and I very much have the control over how I go looking for work, making plans etc. I also have enough money in the bank to know that I can survive six months very, very frugally if I have to - but it will not come to that.

It was pointed out to me rather bluntly on Wednesday night at Dream Group that I have not been enjoying the journey so far, expecially with the gifts the universe has bestowed on me over the last few months. Who else wins a competition that gives you two tickets to anywhere in the world? Who else works for a company that gives you paid sabbaticals? Who else do you know can travel around the world and have a bed in every contintent?

Okay, well my cousin Mal won a trip to Europe about fifteen years ago - never a more deserving person won that trip. Mal currently works in a hospice and she's been working the cancer wards of Canberra as a nurse for nearly twenty years. Hats off to that one. And I know lots of people who have mates all over the world. One of the joys of living overseas and working for international companies and people an expat for a long time is you have friends all over the globe. As for the paid sabbaticals - yeah, well that one is a bit of a find.

It was a bit hard to hear. It was my dream that we picked over on Wednesday. Here I am, standing at a crossroad, watching Ngaire Dixon-Smythe run around in her underwear, moving house in a complete strop. Ngaire Dixon-Smythe was somebody I went to high school with. She's now a QC with three kids living the life amazing in an ultra posh Adelaide suburb. Anyway, Ngaire Dixon-Smythe was in the moving house competition in which she stood to win a million dollars. There I was sitting with some wise friends having coffee, watching the world go by. In the end, the moving competition ended in a tie and both the movers, and a rather stroppy Ngaire both won a million. Finally I sit in my third floor flat watching the sun go down and the sunset is AMAZING. The other dream I was playing the piano, freestyle, no music. It sounded incredible.

I don't play the piano. I've never had a lesson. I can pick out scales and a tune at a basic level, but that is it. I did music in my leaving year at high school - you can do things like this - but as I kept stressing to dream group, I did the composition and theory option, not the practical one. They scoffed at me.

Dream group put it too me that what ever happens now, it's going to be amazing, incredible - and I have to start enjoying these blessings, rather than running around like Ngaire in my dream and just pissing myself and others off. It was time to slow down and enjoy. Stop fretting. Stop trying to control everything.

I suppose they're right.

I'm trying to keep my "Let's control the world" moments to fifteen minutes a day. In that time I can send my CV off to job agencies, plan my railway journeys through Spain, organise my week, plan the shopping list, wonder what I will do for my birthday....

And then, after this, I can sit back, relax, and try to let the universe do what it has to do.

Well this is the theory.

All I can say is that I know the universe is supporting me. And I also know now, as it was also pointed out to me on Wednesday night, that just because things were one way in the past, doesn't mean they have to be like that in the future - and for this I am truly, truly, overwhelmingly grateful.

Watch this space.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What I want to do when I grow up

The thought of this sabbatical has set my brain racing. The papers are in, they're signed by Popeye and me and waiting on the signature of a big wig in Sydney, but there's a very real possibility that as of 8 October, I'll be walking out of Tin Can, String and Whistle for nearly seven months.

The next question is what am I going to do once 8 October rolls around? Thankfully the first five weeks of this sabbatical are taken. I'll be in Singapore, Malaysia, the United States, Holland, Spain and England. Technically the sabbatical wont kick in until the first of November, the time before that will be paid holiday. On that date I should be swanning around Madrid.

That's the holiday I'm taking with the free airline tickets I won back in January. I'm fully accepting of the fact that the whole marathon is not going to happen now. The pain in my side is still there, greatly diminished, but it flares when I run. I've lost two months of real training. There is no way I can let myself cover 42.2 kilometres at a jog pace. 20-30 kilometre at a walk/run maybe. We have to be realistic. Though I'm annoyed at being a bit broken in body, I'm being philosphical about it. The universe doesn't want me to run - I have to deal with it. However, it has fired me up to run a full marathon sometime in the next two years, with adequate training. A marathon is still on my bucket list.

Anyway, that leaves me returning to Australia in mid-November, without a job, with some money in the bank and the opportunity to do something else. Part of the terms of my sabbatical is that I don't do anything that may constitute a conflict of interest, so that means no working for competitors - but other than that. I'm free to do as I please, work where I want, go where I want to go.

Realistically, I'll get out there as soon as the jetlag subsides, find some short term contract work in IT, testing systems, writing doco, maybe even training, of which there is always stuff out there.I'll end up working the bulk of the sabbatical. The change will be good for me as things are rather stale and unsettled around here at the moment.

In the ideal world I would spend these six months writing, start that novel, get some articles published, set myself up as a proper writer. However, I need to pay the rent. And rent where I live aint cheap.

But I will let myself dream big for a bit.
There is also a part of me that says that if I won the lottery I'd pack everything in, sit the GAMSATs and try and get into Medical School. Yep, Doctor Panda. I'm quite happy being a holistic healer peddling reflexology, massage, reiki, aromatherapy, Reference Point Therapy and tarot - but there is this little voice that's always wanted to be a doctor. Pity I'd never be able to cope with the general public.

If not medicine, then architecture - but as I'm a failure at physics, that's probably not a good idea.

Training as a Personal Trainer has crossed my mind more than once over the last few years - I could spend some time doing that. Or go back to uni early next year and get my French back to scratch - or pick up another language - I love learning languages.

If I dreamed big or took a few risks I could go training. I could ping my friend Jonathan in London to take me on as a Shakespeare tutor for a few months, working with young actors to get soliloquies up to scratch.

If there was more of a market for it I could read tarot, heal, rub, chant and do everything else I do on weekends for a living - but the work, though lucrative as beer money, won't pay the rent. Also, if I do more than two clients a day over an extended period I get burnt out.

If I had half an ounce of courage I'd go for some outrageous job, just for the experience. Grave digger (squeamish around death) , pole dancer (chubby pole dancer with no grace - roight), trainee proctologist, bike courier (don't have enought tattoos or piercings for that)... just try something completely out of the ball park. They reckon these jobs are great fodder for writing.

All I know is that this change will be wonderful - I just have to make it that way.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Third Drawer Down

A new life means a spring clean. The thought that I may be letting my flat out to a friend while I'm overseas means that it needs a spring clean ever more. Then there's the realisation that I have no idea what is contained in my bedside table drawers - how embarrassment. I've had these bedside tables since I came back to Australia ten years ago. I reckon I've moved house and moved crap with me.

Jimeoin has this wonderful song, "'The Third Drawer Down' about the third drawer down in most kitchens.

My bedside table has three drawers, all of which are in the same state of disrepair. Jimeion's third drawer down has nothing on this!

So top drawer we find:

Some Coles Vaporub, expiry March 2006 (now binned)
Chamomile Essential Oil in  Jojoba, expiry Feb 2008 (now binned)
Three pairs of prescription frames worn circa 1996-2004 (To be send to a charity that recyles frames)
Three glasses cases (to go where the glasses go)
Two old Motorola mobile phones from circa 2004-2008 (to go to Mobile Muster)
Two boxes of a dozen condoms (keep just in case my luck changes)
One clear lip gloss that's too thick to use (now binned)
Three Natio Lipsticks in Isis, Flame and Cafe. (Kept the first two, ditched the last)
One Clinique Lipstick in Bamboo pink/Candy Pink (now binned)
Battery charger for the Canon Sure Pro (keep - still use that camera)
One small leather bound notebook given to me by a friend ten years ago for my birthday. (keep)
One lilac perspex hair tie that's lost most of its elasticity (binned)
One Sony CD Walkman with no batteries or adapter (considering selling on ebay)
One elasticated travel clothesline (in the pile for October)
Three biros. One works. The others binned.
One ugly silver bangle that used to catch on everything (now binned)
Two sets of headphones - both perishing - both binned
One set of Sony earphones in good working order - now in gym bag
One studded dog collar, last worn at a goth tarot reading - keep just in case
One studded wrist band, last worn at the same goth tarot reading - keep just in case.
Eight bandaids, now in toiletries bag for trip

In the second drawer down:

One set of glasses circa 2008 - to go to the glasses recycler
One plastic FCUK glasses case - keep - it's cool
One Union Jack mouse pad. Keep
One pen with a mini etch-a-sketch attached to it given as a present a few years ago - keep for a bit
A ticket , in Greek, to visit Delos Island - keep
One bottle of slut red nail varnish in good working order - now in my nail varnish box in the bathroom
One pair of 10 mm knitting needles - now making Grounded Dutchman a scarf
One pair of 3.25 and 3.00 cm knitting needles - now in with the other knitting and crochetting paraphernalia in the spare room
One descant recorder, circa 1976 - keep for sentimental reasons
One roll of packing tape - keep
Two packs of sticky stars - keep
Two wheels of bubble headed pins - keep
Five highlighters in various colours, all but one work - keep all but the dud one
Five biros - none work - ditch
One roll of sticky tape - keep
Three black textas - two work. Keep the working ones
Another too think lip gloss - ditch
Notes on my kids book that I want to write. Keep
One two hole paper punch - keep
One 10 cm floppy disc - ditch
One music box that plays Moon River - keep
Three envelopes - ditch - the sticky stuff has gone
A piece of plastic from the old hoover that gave up the ghost two years ago - ditch
A leather coin purse with three pound fifty five pence in it - put in pile for the trip
One stack of rather disgusting handmade paper that smells of mildew - ditch - nice present at the time, but unusable now
One bulldog clip - keep
Two clothespegs
One phone extension cable jack - keep
One reel of orange cotton - keep
One pair of sewing scissors - keep

Third drawer down:

One set of smelly Smiggle Pens - keep and consider giving to the neices
One patent leather cleaner - throw - I have no more patent shoes
One pay slip from April 2007 - ditch
One shoe brush - keep (reminder to self, polish boots soon)
One Irish Whisky tasting certificate from the Jameson's Factory in Cork dated September 2006 - keep - sentimental value
One glasses cleaning cloth - keep
One set of Qantas issued Wallace and Gromit playing cards - keep - you never know when you may need a deck of cards
A copy of my birth certificate - keep
One crystal ball with a small chip in it - keep
One fife - used to belong to my mother - keep
A small phot album containing phots of my mother's wedding to my stepfather which took place while I was in England - keep - even though I wasn't there
Two more 10 cm floppy disks - ditch
One Swarovski Crystal key ring with an emblem of Australia in it - given as a Christmas gift by a Singaporean workmate some seven years ago - Ebay pile
One Book worm book mark - keep - cute
One spring loaded work tag holder - use - my old one broke a few weeks ago
One reel of black cotton - keep - always useful
One empty film case - use - in the kitchen, great to put salad dressing in for work lunches
One roll of ASA400 camera film - keep for a bit - I still have the Pentax K1000 somewhere
Two passport photos taken circa 2002 - keep - I don't look too bad
A packet of sewing needles - keep
Three cassettes - one mixed tape, one Spy vs Spy, and the Violent Femmes, The Blind Leading the Naked - ditch - I have them on CD and now on iTunes.
Thee small safety pins - keep - always useful
One black BC-02 Canon printer cartridge - ditch - I now have a HP printer that uses other cartridges
One pair of Tibettan bells - keep - use for healing sessions
One Weight Watchers exercise points calculator - ditch - I have a heart rate monitor instead now.
One pig ugly luggage tag bought at the National Museum of Australia for $12, given to me as a present for my 40th. Hmmm, keep and consider regifting or putting in the mason's raffle draw next month - they like stuff like that.

I now have two spare drawers in my bedside table - WOW.

This cleaning out thing is really cathartic!

Next space to tackle - the spare room. Domp de domp domp - dahhhhhhhhh.


And here I am, never considering myself a hoarder.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quote of the Day

One of the joys of being multi-lingual is you're never going to have a perfect vocubulary. It will be good, but never perfect.

Today, during our diction session the Grounded Dutchman was given "The Man from Snowy River" to read out. We got talking about colts and brumbies and those sorts of things.

The inevitable question came up.

"What are horse puppies called?"

I melted.

"Foals. Baby horses are called foals."
"Like the Dutch, veulen."

I think horse puppies sounds much better.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Today's Quandry - Who does one vote for?

Who do I vote for?

For those of you not in Australia, we have this rather quaint law which requires all citizens over the age of 18 to vote. If you don't turn up at a polling booth for State and Federal elections you are fined approximately $100. You can often get out of the fine if you are either overseas, infirm or out of contact for  long periods of time, however it's good not to test it too much.

Do I agree with compulsory voting? Not really. Where's the democracy in making it law to vote - or more to the point turn up at a polling booth on election day. Wouldn't it be more democratic to give people the choice, like they do in most other Western societies? Then again, Australians are pretty apathetic by nature and to get more than a 30%  turnout on election day would probably not happen. I can deal with the having to turn up to a poll booth - what makes me cringe is the candidates we are forced to vote for. And the reason that the great unwashed vote for the aforesaid candidates.

I remember at the last election, my sister said that she was voting for the Liberal Party - because "They're the family party." I nearly choked on my coffee.

Also, like Britain and America, Australia is ruled by two party politics. We have the Labor Party, the Red Team, the sort of socialist left side, and the Liberal Party, the blue team, or the capitalistic soft right side of things.

There are also a number of rather powerful factional side parties, the largest of these are the Green Party, and they're not green because they're naive - more they picket on environmental issues. There's also the Sex Party, the Socialist Democrats, the rather dire Family First Party, One Nation, Single Fathers..... the list goes on.

So, Australia goes to the polls on 21 August. I have twenty days to decide who to put my vote towards, though with the proportional representational system of voting we use over here, often who you vote for is influenced by the preference votes. And don't get me started on the Senate - where you either put a number one in the top section of the battot paper and the preferences are distributed accordingly - or you can mark every box from one to 367 in order of preference. It can take half an hour.

The senate used to be easy to do. Until a few years ago we had this party called the Australian Democrats who's motto was "Keep the Bastards Honest." I liked that about them, and so did many others, and they use to get a lot of senate votes - enough to really keep the fork tongued gits on the slight straight and narrow

Then it comes down to the candidates for Prime Minister.

 The Liberal bloke, Tony Abbott, often known as the "Mad Monk" by his daughter's admission is "lame, gay, churchy loser. He likes to wear speedos in public, miles from a beach. He's also rather misogynistic, completely anti-abortion, fiscally hard, risk averse and had no future vision.

The misogyny and his ties with the Church scare me the most about him. I'm all for the separation of Church and state. There are many in this country that don't feel that way. Abbott also wants to tear down the National Broadband Network - something that will set back telecommunications in the country. He also wants to bring back the draconian Work Choices legistlation.

Sorry, I just can't go there.

Then there's Julia Gillard, the current Labor leader. Red headed, Welsh, Immigrant from Adelaide. I was initially excited when she became Prime Minister. I never expected a woman to get the top job.

Looking at how she's done over the last few months, I'm unsure. I certainly have no issue with the fact that she's unmarried, living with a partner, a lawyer and sounds like a fishwife. But I'm yet to hear a policy come out of her mouth. But that goes with Abbott too. I know all about the candidates, I have no idea what they stand for. Gillard has also be quoted as saying "This week you see the real Julia." If we haven't been seeing the real Julia up until now, who have we been seeing?

I've never voted Liberal. I could never stomach the fact that schools and hospitals always suffer at their hands. And after the eleven years of John Howard, I never want to see them in again.

Then again, I know the damage the sometimes dodgy financial management of the Labor Party.

I'm also in a marginal seat. The current sitting member is leaving politics after this election. I rather liked Lindsay Tanner. He always wrote back when I got on my soap box.

But I have no idea what they new guy is about.

I've been trawling through the Greens website, having a look at what they have to say. Interesting.

It might come down to the day. I know the senate can have my Green vote - easy that one. Keep the bastards honest.

But for the house of representatives - we will have to see.

It's all a bit hard.