Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Address Book

There is nothing like a trawl through an address book to make you feel nostalgic. It's also had the added effect of making me realise just how things have changed over the last few years.

I'm slowly getting ready of this trip overseas. As I'm taking off in twelve days there is quite a bit to do, but being the anal, spread-sheeting harpy I can be, I'm ticking things off the list. It's nearly finished. There's still a few things to do - like organise my money, pack and finally get on the plane, but all the arrangements are pretty much in place.

There's very little to do really. The only things I'm having difficulty preparing is the England leg of the trip. Five days at the start of November. It's not that bad really, I'm just being an anal cow.

So far, England is looking like this. Catching up with friends on the first two days, Gareth and Georgina, who were in Australia earlier in the year - that will be fine once can get hold of them on the phone.They know I'm coming, I'm pretty sure they have the dates, I just have to get the pick up details in order  - do I go to St Albans Station or will Gareth pick me up - not too hard at all.

Day Three, I'm off to Bath, no dramas there, the hotel is booked for the night, just have to rock up to Paddington Station - maybe look at the timetables before I go so I'm all set for a not to long a wait.

The last time I was in Bath was about fourteen years ago. I'd gone for a long weekend with Gareth, as friends. I don't remember that much of the trip though I know I wasn't good for much as my father had died in the month before. I just remember being numb and eating Sally Lunn buns and thinking the place was pretty. I'm hoping to get some good memories this time around.

Day Four, back to London in the afternoon, again, booked into a hotel near Waterloo, so that's sorted. Rather than get into an argument with friends this time over where I'm staying, I've gone the four star hotel option. I might try catch up with friends, or go see a play, or mooch around, or have a bit of a rest that afternoon, I don't know - it's my second to last day abroad and I'm going to enjoy.

The last day will be spent with a friend down in Surrey, just south of the M25. Verity and I have been friends for over fifteen years. She lives in this wonderful 400 year old cottage and she used to have a cat that though the sun shone out of my bum. We've seen each other through a lot and though we don't talk that often, I always make the attempt to see her when I'm over there.

Verity's been having a rather rough trot of late, so when I called earlier in the year to tell her of my pending visit, she cautiously said that she may not be able to meet. That was fine with me, no drama, and said I'd call nearer the time, see what's going, if it happen it happens, if not, next time. Getting her life sorted was more important.

As it's about a month out until I get to England, I made the call last night, just to see if she was able to meet. Things are on the improve for V. We'll talk when I get there, but it looks like I'll be heading down to hers for the day and she'll drop me at Heathrow for the flight back.

Thing is, when you don't call somebody very often, you have to dig out their number. For me, most of this sort of information is kept in my diary for 2003. A tome I don't delve into very often.

Other than my own phone number there are only three I know by heart. My mother's. My sister's. And Lachlan's - though I never ring it. Everybody else is programmed into my phone.

Flicking through the pages of this book, I see the remnants of what turned out to be a seminal year. I can't believe that who I was is so not the person I am now. The 2003 version of me was moving to Greece. There are notes in Greek throughout the diary. Numbers of people I've never seen again. The bloke from Wonthaggi I was seeing on the side for a bit, never to be heard from after I got back, the birthday of a fellow I last saw a traffic lights a few years ago, the number of a friend who's had two husbands since.Some people had moved countries, moved houses, or moved on from my life. Others are still where I left them. It was an interesting experience in memory.

The 2003 version of me didn't have much of a clue.

Looking at the dates, March 2003, fly out, stay with Lachlan before flying to Athens. Oh dear, that time, where I'd moved to Greece for six months as a holiday rep on Santorini and the company had neglected to sort a working visa out for me beforehand, which meant staying more than three months was out of the question - let alone getting paid. The European Union had kicked in for the first time in Greece (though some say it still flaunts many of the rules)

Oh, and Lachlan has played with my head back at this point. Give him a few months he said. We were supposed to be together. Just wait. When I got back to England in October 2003 we would be together.

I left Greece in June after three months of bumming around Mykonos where the company had sent me, free of charge, while they worked out what to do with me. Back in England for a few days, then back here to Australia. I only got to speak to Lachlan as I was leaving the country.

Eight years later, I'm still waiting for him to front.


The 2003 trip taught me so much. How not to compromise. How to not go back. How to get myself out of sticky situations. And most importantly, how to behave when somebody treats you badly - which is to not give them an inch.

Strangely, this trip on which I'm about to embark has a similar feel to it as that fateful trip in 2003.

Though there is no Lachlan playing with my heart and no dodgy job offer in a beautiful paradise (saying this, I'm not that fond of Santorini - it's a vapid beauty. Give my Mykonos or Naxos any time) it feels like this trip will have me walking through another gateway.

May it be so.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Back in Stride

Last night, two weeks after surgery, I went on my first run. I should say it was more a walk/run, one minute of running, 90 seconds of walking around the set six kilometre course.

Before you start at me for not giving myself time to heal, it's all too soon etc, I need to reiterate that I feel completely back to normal after  the keyhole procedure and I'm fully aware that I have to ease back into running, which I've been unable to properly for about three months. The walk/run, around the local neighbourhood, with few hills and lots of traffic lights to wait at for a few seconds was a well planned out route, with lots of contingency short cuts home if required.

Kit, one of my usual running mates came over and we scoped out the track. From mine, down past the council flats, down Lennox Street to Swan Street, down Burnley Street then home. A six kilometre loop around my suburb. I warned her, if there was any pain flaring I was back to walking, which she was fine with. Both of us were just happy to have a beautiful early Spring evening to have a jog and a chat.

Happily, all went to plan. The legs still work. The lungs still work. We made the five kilometres around to the gym where Kit and I stopped to wave at Pinochet our trainer and stopped for a quick chat with Hot-Gen-Y-Slacker-Dude at the gym reception.

After a stop in at the pet store to say hello to the puppies (I know pet shops are evil, but like Hot-Gen-Y-Slacker-Dude, puppies are cute), then we walked the last 500 metres home as a cool down.

And we walked into my front gates exactly an hour later. Brilliant.

Today, I know I've been running, I know I've done something exercise worthy, but I haven't over done it.

I'm back on track.

Next run, tomorrow morning - same gig.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How much can a Panda bare?

Being back in the land of the living is brilliant. Being back at work has it's challenges, but not having to suffer my own company day in and out is great. I get to go out for coffee, my mind isn't concentrating on becoming better and I'm not reliant on strange, droning Americans on the television for entertainment.

What I am missing being back at work is some of the strange conversations I was having over the time I was off.

Also, as I've been banished from talking about my pending trip overseas at the moment, as most of my friends are rather envious of the fact that I'm spending five weeks overseas from the tenth of October, I'm used to finding other things to talk about.

The one conversation that keeps coming back to me is a chat session I had one afternoon with an old university friend.

What can I tell you about about Kip? Well, we were at college together. He was a nice guy from a large country town. I always had a bit of a crush on him, but he always had a girlfriend, but he was always nice to me - a bit of an unlikely ally. He was also just my type, but we're going to go into that. He thought I was a bit of a nutcase. I thought he was a bit square, but you study Law/Economics, you're gonna get that.

Kip and I have been chatting for a while since reconnecting. We've exchanged stories, I've heard about his wife and three kids. He's got to know about my tarot reading and all the weird and wonderful things I do to keep myself occupied. He offered an ear when I was going into surgery. And we had a chat while I was recouperating.

Unlike many men, he appeared concerned and interested about what was going in my belly, asked some relevent questions about the operation - it seems his wife had something similar a few years ago. Then from out of the blue.

"So, before you went into surgery, did you get a Brazillian?"
"Um, Kip, why?" I felt my cheeks reddening and a state of confusion coming on.
"You know, make yourself nice for the doctor."
Am I missing something here?
"You think I need to get a  Brazillian before having surgery on my stomach? Why would you say that? Besides, my surgeon is a woman."
"I thought it's what women did."
"No, Kip, not this 42 year old, rational woman."
"Oh. Well I can think about it."
"Um, you can Kip. But I have no idea why you would want to. Why would I want to inflict that sort of pain on myself to make it look like I was twelve years old downstairs?"
"Must be a guy thing."
"You don't say."

I don't get this Brazillian waxing obsession. I really just don't get it.

Okay, pubes are pubes. Not particularly useful, not all that pretty, but it's a part of most people. There is the old adage that it's a lot like parsley, to be moved out the way before you keep on eating (sorry, favorite dirty joke)

Also, having a trace of Mediterranean blood in me, I've been battling dark body hair since my teenage years. After working out early that shaving only turned the leg and armpit hair to the consistency of copper wire and made your legs look like a wire brush after three days, I discovered waxing. And I've been waxing ever since. Every six to eight weeks I submit  myself to the indignity of having the hairs ripped out from to roots from my legs and armpits. It keeps the hairs finer and lighter too, which after nearly twenty years of waxing has had the effect that there is very little left. And it doesn't hurt anymore. Only took ten years.

But when it comes to the "intimate" area, okay, keeping it tidy so it doesn't look like you have steel wool coming out your bathing suit, yes.

Making your snatch look like that of a prepubescent girls. No. Eww.

I just don't not only why men find absolutely no hair down there attractive. Trimmed, tidied yeah fine, but not the whole lot. It was put there for a reason. Unsure why, but it was. Just like we weren't given holes though our cheeks, lips, labrets or belly buttons.

Maybe this Brazillian thing is just another body modification trend. And okay, it's  not as scarring as piercing or tattooing, but it still EFFING HURTS having wax spread over your nether regions and ripped out by some sadist who works at the local hairdressers.

Would love to ask a man to wax his balls one day, see what he says (and yes, fully aware that it happens).

This is what I asked Kip in response. So, women get these Brazillians, would he do the same downstairs?

The answer was a resounding,"No. My nuts would look like a plucked chicken."

I rest my case.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Neither a Borrower

This week of recouperation has been really good for my soul. Thankfully I'm having a textbook recovery, the pain levels have been minimal, the analgesia levels are down to a couple of panadol a day when I remember and I am getting around without any problems, so much so that today I was out doing "quiet time" things like visiting a friend, sampling chocolate and watching a movie at a nearby cinema. The only limitation I have is sitting in a chair for long periods of time - I have to get up and wander around regularly as it gets rather achy after twenty minutes of sitting upright. Lying down and standing up are good. I'm thrilled at the recovery I'm making - much better than I expected.

It's also shown just how great my friends are. They've been calling, dropping in, bringing food, coming over to watch dvds and generally been exceptional. I couldn't ask for more. I'm normally very self sufficient and somewhat reclusive a lot of the time, so this has been  an exercise in letting people in. Yes, it's pushed a few buttons, but in a good way. Maybe my boundaries are beginning to allow a few people in. Stranger things have happened.

One friend made the comment, "You're just getting back what you put in. You're the one who's there visiting people in hospital, taking care of people, hell you're the mother of twenty five engineers, it's good that people are looking after you for a change."It's a nice sentiment. I like to think it's true.

The only disappointment I've had over the time off is that I haven't really been able to write. The concentration hasn't really been there. The first few days I stayed in bed, then when I was up and wandering around it was all too hard being slumped over a table looking at a computer screen. I've got halfway through my book group book for this month and caught up on some veiwing. It's still strange that you can tune into Days of our Lives once every three years and you still know all the characters by name. I also find it interesting that Hope appears to have fewer expression lines on her face than she did ten years ago, and Marlena - hell, does that woman have formaldehyde in her veins?

So the last week I've been dredging the bottom of DVD basket, watching some films I haven't seen for a while, worked my way through all six Harry Potters, revisited The Talented Mr Ripley whilst writing Italian holiday packages - nothing like looking at Sorrento and Positano whilst writing about the real deal. Donnie Darko still stands up after thirty or so viewings. It's been great.

The only thing missing - the first season of Six Feet Under.

When it comes to possessions, though I am not obsessed by things, I'm also rather attached to what I have. I will own objects because I want to own them. It's a conscious choice. I tend to look after my things, and if they do get damaged or lost, no biggie. They get replaced.

Also, over the years, I've been pretty particular about who I lend my possessions out to. Just as I rarely lend or borrow money, there are one or two friends who I have a rotating twenty dollars with and at work there is a floating tenner in our pod - that's it. I'm fairly careful about who I give my things to. Books are the only exception to this and then they get loaned to friends and I can't think of an instance where I have either not got the item back, or I've missed the book (and if I can't remember who I've loaned it to, then tough to me, go buy a new one). Books are loaned to me - eventually they make their way back to their owners - and if I'm asked for it, I make a point of returning it as soon as I can.

My copy of the first season of Six Feet Under I loaned to a friend late last year in good faith.

Six Feet Under has to be my favorite ever television show. Superlative television. Five series of exceptional writing, acting and storylines. Love it, love it, love it.

So when earlier in the year I asked for these DVDs back, I thought sure, coming soon. It's now mid September. I've asked regularly for the return of these items since Easter. Okay sure, I haven't seen this person since Christmas, though we have tried to catch up for lunch on numerous occasions, ultimately one or the other, normally him, has to blow the other off. About a month ago I finally asked if he could post the them back, as daft as it sounds, it's my favorite show and I'd actually like to watch them again.

No sign of the DVDs.

I bit the bullet on the weekend and bought a new set on ebay on the weekend. For the last few days I've had Nate, David, Ruth, Rico and Claire back in my life. I'd forgot just how good the first series was. It's like having an old friend back in my life.

I know Polonius, that old fool from Hamlet said it best,

'Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.'

I was relating this to Merijn, Glen Waverley's wife. She said, "You have a thing with unreliable men in your life." I disagreed. I sometimes think lending something to somebody is the mark of a solid friendship and most of the men in my life a reliable.

In this case I think it's more the feeling of being disrespected when having to ask for something back, and not having the request acknowledged. Having this small trust, no matter how small, broken in such a way is what is most disappointing.

Do I consider this person my friend. Hmm, probably no, a solid aquaintance. He was nice enough to call to see how I was last Thursday. He's a decent enough fellow. I hold no animosity. I'm just been disappointed by his actions, and this is what I will remember, the guy who didn't return the DVDs.

All remedied by spending $20 on ebay.

It's just the principle of the matter.

Oh my, I can hear the Collingwood supporters singing from the MCG - two kilometres away. They sound happy. The hubcaps of Richmond are safe for another week.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Of Fight or Flight

There is a clarity that can only be gained from the flight or fight response, that ancient caveman reaction to stress that sets the body up to either fight to the death or run away from danger.

The adrenaline rush of stress is something modern man doesn't appreicate unless they take up some extreme sport. Or it has become such a regular part of life that you can't do much about, the stressed out feeling making many ill.

Over the last three days I've noticed that colours have been sharper, smells more intense, time more rushed. All of this is a response to the fact that I was having surgery.

I'm glad I only had three days to  ponder this fact.

The stress factor had kicked in.

I'm happy to say that all has gone very well over the last twenty four hours. After walking myself to the hospital in the morning (as the Freemason's Hospital is only a mile down the road) my head was in a reasonable state. After a quick, thorough pre-operative regime and chats to the doctors, I was left to ponder my fate under a warming blanket, a contraption not unlike my mothers hairdryer that she had when I was a kid. They put me under around nine 'o'clock. The next thing I know, it's 11.30, I've got a drip in my left hand, an oxygen mask on my face which I want off and absolutely no pain. Gotta love morphine. I didn't know that morphine makes your nose itch. The oxygen mask was annoying and I was groggy. The doctor popped her head around the curtain. it appears that a large cyst had managed to wrap itself around my fallopian tube. She'd managed to extract the cyst and save the tube. In my groggy state I was thrilled. In my now more alert state, I'm ecstatic.

Around one they started to make moves to rouse me, sitting me up slowly much to my disapproval. The nausea was coming in waves. I was asked if I suffered from motion sickness. Yep, I sure do. Joy. I was told I'd be in for a fun ride.

Finally, after a couple of rounds of puking, things settled down, my colour went from green to normal and I was up and dressed and released to my friend Kara's care for a slow trip home in a cab.

A day on and I'm not feeling too bad at all. Yes, my tummy is distended and somewhat lopsided. They warned me that it could happen, along with a sore shoulder and diaphragm, tiredness, a bit of nausea and sore wound sites. Yep, I have all that, bit it's far less intense than I was expecting. There is a certain amount of pain, but the extra strength painkillers are keeping that at bay. I'm not eating much but taking in lots of fluids. After a full day in bed, after visits from the Grounded Dutchman, Blarney, Gloria and Bernie, I sit here at my computer, spending my upright half hour before going back to bed.

Friends also bring food. Kara's left some green soup, Blarney brought eggs and Bern, bless her, some of my favorite Ben and Jerry's ice cream. I had a small scoop with dinner tonight. This all goes with the the litres of flat lemonade that I'm drinking, that age old cure all (Although you can't get Woodroofe's Lemonade here - that can cure the bubonic plague and the ebola virus mixed together). Alice is dropping in tomorrow with food too.

My friends are bloody marvellous. They're being amazing at this time. Mind you, I'd do exactly the same for them.

Now I just have to rest, recouperate and try to enjoy this relaxing time. No lifting or running or jumping around for a bit. But I'm on the mend.

Right, back to bed.

I sort of miss the sharp colours and the clarity of hearing. Then again, I don't want another fallopian cyst.

Might have to take up skydiving when I get better.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Scared and Optimistic

Okay, lay of the land. Tomorrow morning I go in to hospital for a small operation, which they're doing by keyhole surgery to remove my right fallopian tube and have a  general look around to see what this pain is. The tube has to go, it's blocked, mucky and really not looking at all healthy. It's day surgery, so I should be home in my bed that evening and I'll be confined to the flat for a few days. Then I just have to get strong again. It's all good.

From all of this I'm just very glad that this is being sorted now, rather than two months down the track. The doctor also made mention that if it goes now, nothing new can happen while I'm away. All going well I should be able to get back to running in a few weeks and go on my holiday pain free.

The brain has been working overtime since I got the news of this. Friends have been marvellous. Somebody is picking me up from the hospital tomorrow and staying with me for the night, others have pledged to drop in over the next few days to check on me. It's all good.

Having said this it's been a rather stressful few days. Why is it always the case that when you're trying to get out of work stuff comes up which makes life difficult. Thankfully some decent work with tight deadlines came up in the last week. Unfortunately, along with this work has been long hours and a lot of stress which hasn't helped matters. After seeing the doctor on Monday, my head was in  a complete flap. That didn't help matters.

So, how am I feeling about this? Scared but optimistic. I just want to be home in bed by this evening. My friends have been marvellous. Kara is picking me up from hospital and staying overnight with me, Gloria's coming over tomorrow morning and staying the day, other friends have vowed to drop in, feed me, watch dvds with me for the next week. Even Mum's been ringing to make sure I'm okay, which is sweet of her.

This has been very confronting for me. I'm not used to asking for help, or accepting it for that matter. I know my biggest fear is waking up on the table. Second one is that they have to open me up fully and needing six weeks of recouperation and not to be able to go on this holiday. But these risks are hopefully minimal.

As I said, I'm scared, but optimistic.

Right, I better get myself off to hospital.

Talk soon,


Friday, September 3, 2010

Modern Problem: Jeans

Here at Tin Can, String and Whistle we have a dress down policy on Fridays.

Actually, you can pretty much get away with wearing anything normally, but Friday you're struggling to see a suit on the back of anybody. Case in point, I'm looking at the Grounded Dutchman's shirt which looks like the wallpaper in my mother's kitchen circa 1974. I've been in other jobs where you could happily turn up in your pyjamas and noboby would give a damn. Here, it's business casual - no need for suits, but look nice if you're meeting clients. And Friday you can pretty much wear what you like - important client meetings excepted.

This morning, knowing that all I have in the way of going out is Bongo's leaving lunch and beer club, I go to the drawer to find my favourite jeans - only to spy them hanging on a clothes horse, damp.


So I go to my trousers and jumper drawer and get scared. What am I going to wear?

And why do I own seven pairs of dark blue jeans, none of which I really like. Or wear, for that matter.

I've never been a jeans person. Trousers, yes. I love cargo pants. I live in trackie dacks and leggings because I spend a lot of time at the gym, but jeans and I have always had a rather strained relationship.

Firstly, I'm not the right shape. Jeans look best on slimmer people, I'm an apple shape. Long legs, slim hipped, high waisted, massive tummy and tits. They didn't make jeans for people like me until a few years ago. Before that, I found jeans constricted my stomach and the muffin top overhang was never a good look.

Secondly, I always found shopping for jeans about as thrilling as having root canal surgery. You're forced to go into these trendy shops where a normally bored teenage assistant looks you up and down as if your turned up smelling like a crusty homeless person, then when the do actually deign to serve you, they bring you these items of clothing that either your mother would wear, or attempt to make you expose your pubic hair in public. For a youthful forty something, neither is a good look.

So I look at the seven pairs of jeans. Most of which have been purchased on sale in the last five years.

I know I am keeping the Levi 501s in a size 14, purchased in 1991 just for the sentimental value. They've followed me all around the world. The only fitted properly in 1993 when I was going through a bad breakup with this South African bloke and I was at my absolute skinniest. They also have the waist band up around the armpits. Why oh why do I keep them?

There's also a pair of Gap boyfriend jeans, which when I'm about ten kgs lighter look wonderful. As with all Gap jeans, the demin is super soft. Can't throw them out.

There's a another pair of Katies jeans, size 16, with some really dodgy stitching on the left leg. They fit at the moment, but the waist band is scratchy.

There's a pair of size 16 boot leg jeans which were sourced on ebay. They looked comfy online, but as a size 16, I think they mean size 16 in a land where a toothpick is considered fat.

We can't forget Tony's jeans. Another pair of Levis, 510s, with a 36 Waist and 33 Leg. Boy's jeans with a button fly. These were given to me by a friend a few years ago. She was cleaning out her wardrobes and found these jeans that her son used to wear. As he'd moved to Queensland and stacked on a heap of weight, they were passed on to me. They have a bleach stain on the right leg, a not too low a waist and they make my bum look good. They're also my fat barometer. If I can't fit into these jeans it's seriously time to do something about my weight.

There's also two pairs of black jeans, one pair from Katies that the stitching itches and another that are also from the mid nineties that have that distinctive "Harry High Pants" look which is now reserved from many Asian office workers and fat guys over sixty with oddly shaped beer bellies. Oh, and one more pair of Rivers slim leg, which will look good when about ten kilos are gone from my frame, bought on sale for a measly ten bucks.

So here I sit, in Tony's jeans, which are snug, but not uncomfortable, bleach stain on my leg, knowing that I really have to start keeping my weight in check.

It's just funny how I keep hold of these rather useless items for sentimental and encouragement value.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happiness is doing things that you love

As I'm feeling the stirrings of a depression cycle looming, I've set myself the task of cheering myself up.

Normally, cheering myself up would involve spending lots of money, going for a run or eating.

As I'm saving madly for my holiday in a few weeks, unable to train at a decent level and I'm trying hard not to put on any more weight I'm having to find other tactics to make myself happy.

So this tactic will involve doing something that makes me happy on a daily basis.

So what makes me happy, other than running and eating?

Writing makes me happy.

So my daily challenge for the next while is to write - and write what I like, which is fiction. I've had a book slushing round in the back of my mind for years, now it's time to get it started and out there.

So it's time to birth my baby. Rainbow Robertston and the Adventures at Hippy Corner.

I've set up a new blog, Rainbow's Adventures at Hippy Corner.

Rainbow Robertson is about to be born.