Thursday, March 31, 2011

March Star Calendar

Three months into this strange effort and the star calendar still remains.

Here is the March Star Calendar:
The March report shows 28 out of 31 stars on the calendar.

Of the missing stars:

One night my parents were in town and we went out for dinner.

One night I just had a shocker of a day and ate too much ice cream after - in the scheme of things I didn't go too far over my assigned calories, but there was no exercise done this day so no star was received.

And on Tuesday, in a shocking display of emotional eating, I sat down at Deganis and demolished a housebrick sized piece of carrot cake. I know what triggered it. I've talked to my wonderful, understanding, support group about it. I'm also rather pleased with myself as rather than go on that day as I started, I got straight back on the horse - ate sensibly for the rest of the day and didn't go into the flagellation that I would normally do after such a blow out.

Very proud of myself for all this hard work that is paying off. I currently weight 86.2 kgs as of this morning - 12 kilograms lighter than I was at the start of the year.

Other good things to come of the last three months:

My running is getting good, slowly but surely.
I'm lifting more weight than I have in ages.
I'm toned.
I've gone from having five chins to having 2.5 chins.
There's muscle definition all over my body, not just in my legs.
My knee is feeling a lot better, though I'm still being very careful with it.
My blood pressure is back around the realms or normal - and the doctor can' complain about that.
I'm wandering around in a pair of size 14 jeans at the moment - size 14!! Okay, they're stretchy ones, but still, I don't have to lie down on the bed and do them up with a coathanger.
I've killed another pair of ASICS.
I have more energy.
I'm letting people take my photo now without complaining too much.
I'm sitting on a BMI of 30 - I'm nearly "just chubby" rather than obese.
I sorta feel pretty more often.
I've got some body confidence now.
I don't mind trying on clothes in clothes shops.
My body doesn't wobble as much.
My calves resemble those of a Tour du France cyclist (and are envied by some)
I can get up the 1000 steps in a little over 25 minutes - it was nearer 35 in January.
I ran a fast kilometre in five minutes and ten seconds. This amazed me.

Generally, I feel like I can take on the world.

There is still 15-20 kilos to shred from my frame.

Just have to keep this up.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Officially Over 2011

That's it. No more. I'm sick of all this bloody death, destruction and tragedy.

So far this year:

My favorite aunt had an accident, lost an eye, was blinded and is now brain damaged - she's being sent off to live until her end of days in a nursing home. What's left of her brain is off with the pixies so at least she's unaware of what is going on, but it looks like no chance of recovery or rehabillitation.

I've watched as friends have nursed sick and maimed parents - thankfully in Georgie's case, her father is making a solid and speedy recovery. Others are just coming to terms with what is going on, great, tragic and lets wait and see.

Then there was Flora's sister passing after a brief, awful illness. That one rocked me to the core.

Since I've been off work I've had to watch the telly while there has been the awful, voyeristic news coverage of the Queensland Floods, Cyclone Yasi, the Christchurch earthquake and the tragedy in Japan. Then, we can't forget the crises in Egypt and Libya -and now Syria isn't looking too stable.

The world's gone mad!

Stupid thing - the news that's upset me most. Two of my favorite furry friends are no longer with us.

Glen Waverley told me at lunch on Thursday that his one-eyed furry mate, Juultje, or Julie as she was known to me, was not in a good state but that things were hopeful. Calling on Saturday to check in, he told me that she had to go to cat heaven that morning - things had got worse - it was the merciful thing to do.

Juul had a rather blessed life. Two loving humans to dote on her every whim, a sister, Beatje (or Betty as she's known to me) who kept an eye on her. She had a good life - and her nine years were spent being loved and happy. My heart goes out to Glen Waverley and Merijn - it's very sad.

Then Popeye called this evening. He lost his dog a few weeks ago - an aging Australian Terrier with a big personality - so I wasn't expecting bad news.


Unfortunately Miffy, or Princess Hephzibah Jonquil Hortensia Murgatroyd-Ross as she is known to regular readers, fell foul of a vehicle this morning. High speed rubber poisoning is what it's known as around my neck of the woods. Most would just call it getting run over.

Alas, Miffy is no more.

She was a great furry house demon - a true joy. Miff, you're gonna be missed. Thoughts go out to her "captors", Geerrt and his family.

Right, so I'm ordering the universe - no more. I'm over all this death and destruction and heartache - just effing stop it. My friends are nice people. They've done nothing wrong. LEAVE THEM ALONE!

And while you're at it, find me a proper job please. I've done nothing wrong either. I'm somewhat over interviews. My limitless charm is becoming stretched.

So, what am I going to to do about this all? I'm going to grab my visiting furry house demon - Maow Maow - and go to bed now and listen to some Lily Allen and Madness. The cat will sleep behind my knees and I will be lulled of to sleep by some mutant saxaphones and dulcet Cockney tones singing of begrudging blow jobs. Perfect.

Times like this, a bit of inappropriate music is in order.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

In Limbo

I could describe life as a divine limbo, but that would be simplifying matters.

Hell is too strong. Limbo would be a better word to place where I am at present.

In Dante's Divine Comedy, Dante is taken through the nine levels of Hell by the poet Virgil. He wanders down and down and down meeting all sorts of characters. I've been pondering this a bit. If I were in Hell, just where would I sit? I know that the sixth circle is the place I would fit best, the zone equiped for heretics. This sixth circle of Hell is an interesting place as the portal to the future has been shut out. For a tarot reader, this place would be a true hell, for there are times where you do see the future, but they are pure, unexpected, momentary glances, where you do get a glimspe of the future.

In Dante's world, Limbo, or the first circle of Hell, is reserved for unbaptised babies and virtuous pagans. Well, I was baptised many years ago though I've given back my Christian ticket, and I'm sorta virtuous some of the time - depends how you define being virtuous.

Limbo is a great place. It's where I am at present - well, job wise any way.

I had four company interviews last week. All went well. I have another tomorrow afternoon.

Interview one at a consulting company - it was my second interview. Got on very well with the woman who interviewed me - no-nonsense and straight to the point. It appears I'm a bit pricy. The work looks interesting and varied. Was told I'd hear from them by the end of the week. It's now Sunday. Hmmm. Not holding out hope, but it could be that they are 1) haggling over money or 2) can't be asked to write the rejection letter.

This would be the preferred job - I like the people I met there. I also turned up to the first interview at this company thinking I was seeing an agency - so I didn't have a scrap of make up on my face, I had neat business casual on, my hair had not been tamed into a bun or straightened - it was out in it's rock star glory -  - and I was running 15 minutes late - though I blame the tram and I did call ahead. I gave my best agency schpeil. At agencies you get the following answers from me - among other technical things that they need to know:

Interviewer: What's the difference between telecommunications and banking for you?
Pandora: Telcos have guys in jeans who want to play with electrical things and drink beer. Banking has wankers in suits who appear to make far too much money and drink wine.

Interviewer: How do you deal with difficult people?
Pandora: Offer beer or chocolate - that normally fixes most things. I also do a good line in Buffy and have opinions on some of the Star Trek series.

Interviewer: What are your strengths?
Pandora: I can talk to anybody, I have no fear about asking questions and I have a finely atuned bullshit meter.

Interviewer: What are your weaknesses?
Pandora. I'm from Myponga, South Australia and I barrack for the Crows.  I'm not sure if this is a weakness or a liability. Oh, and I get bored easily. You have to keep my busy or I get destructive. Like a kitten.

Interviewer: What are your career aspirations?
Pandora: I want to be the next JK Rowling, but not so twee.

Interviewer: Why did you move from testing to business analysis?
Pandora: I'm a better fit as a BA - I'm not great at starting at a screen and grunting for ten hours a day.

Somehow, these answers got me a seat on a Business Analyst test (which I passed) and a second interview.

Interview number two on Tuesday was with another consulting company. 8.30 am interview. Also got on well with the fellow interviewing me. This, like the one the day before, was a second interview. This one I was in my best Jessica Rabbit's accountant sister's garb. Not a hair out of place. Was also told I'd hear by the end of the week. Considering that the last time this company told me this it took them nearly a month to get back to me I was not holding my breath. Probably not too expensive for this role, would still be nice to know where I stand. Mind you, having to dress in a suit daily - do I really want to do this? Can I do this? I wear stockings for NOBODY. And I look like a limping transvestite in heels over two inches....

Interview number three on Wednesday was for a contract role with a telco. Excellent interview, but was pipped at the post by somebody with a lot more experience. Was told that if there were two roles they would have taken me on in a heartbeat. Great feedback, and the interviewing PM will send round recommendations and see what goes. The agent was suitably impressed with the feedback so I know I have his attention.

Interview number four was at a mid-level superannuation company. Went back to the agency and said that if they wanted me it would be on a contract basis first up. Didn't get the feeling I wanted to be there - I think I'm a bit rowdy for them. Super companies appear to like their employees to be a bit staider. I'm not like that. No feedback yet. Joy.

There was also the obligatory pimp interviews, phone calls and trawling over looking for work.

As I've been off work for three months now, I'm at the stage where I'd be quite happy to go temping now while the right job comes up - answer phones, file, do computer stuff way below my abilities just to get some money in and my brain working. I have a few numbers to call. This is Plan C and will be put into effect before I'm on the bones of my bum financially - but hopefully it won't come to this.

I also have an interview tomorrow afternoon with a health fund for a nerd liaison role with them. (Nerd liaison is my true role in IT. If I'm asked what I do, I normally say "Something with computers," but nerd liaison is my real job description - I sit between the business and the nerds and translate. It's fun in a masochistic sort of way. My friend Mac recommended me for this role. It's also spitting distance from home, the gym. Walking to work would take ten minutes. There are good and bad things about this. I'd miss lunch with friends- but I believe there is a city office that needs regular visiting to see the business.

Something will turn up soon - looking at my cards, things are changing.

Just like me. I watch myself in interviews. Where did this confident, courageous, slightly wacky, rather intelligent woman sprout from? Why are her trousers falling off her hips? Why does she have the inner glow.

This three months "off" has really been a godsend.

Wish me luck the right thing comes soon.

Project Pandora Update: Day 35

Current weight: 86.5 kg

It's getting to the danger zone for me. Most of my posse mates are striking issues with their physical or mental well being. Thankfully most of these are temporary glitches and I'm watching as they battle out of the doldrums to get back on track. But I seem to be going great guns still.

This program is fantastic!

I did hit a wall on Thursday evening. Went to train with Pinochet, managed to do two bent over rows, felt ill - rather faint and dizzy - so I excused myself, went home and cuddled the cat in front of the telly. I reckon this was partly interview stress and partly exhaustion. Friday I had a quiet day. Went to lunchtime Pump and spent a day at home with Blarney's cat.

At the start of week six of the program, I'm now 5.5 kilograms lighter, a lot fitter and feeling great.

Every pair of jeans in my jeans drawer now fits me without having to lay in the bed and do them up with a coathanger. This is with the exception of the ones I have from when I'm 23 that I don't dare throw out - they're my super skinny jeans. They're allegedly size 16, but they are more like a size 12. They also have the waistband that goes up to my armpits and are in a fetching acid wash (that has never gone out of style in Adelaide).
But this is the real danger zone. In the past, I get to around this weight and everything comes to a grinding halt. Although I'm looking a lot better - but I have to go on. No amount of compliments will make me stop now. Besides, I'm loving the program and the exercise. Besides, I have an inherent curiousity to know what I look like slim. I have no photos of myself at anything under 80 kilos. I don't know what it is to be slender. I want to find out.

With a current BMI of 30 I'm nearly out of the obese zone - two more kilos and I can call myself chubby. My blood pressure is back in the realms of normal with only the stuff the naturopath gives me for support. My limbs are long and supple. I have visible cheekbones and collarbones once again. My tummy is shrinking to a point where I can imagine it flat - and that is something I haven't felt since I was about 23....

I have to keep going - employed or not.

I've also set myself a new carrot to keep going - If I can get my weight under 80 kilograms, or 20 kilograms loss by my birthday in August, I'm booking a trip to Sydney and going to do the Harbour Bridge climb.

It's been too long since I've been on a plane anyway.

I also want to be around 75 kgs when I renew my drivers licence and passport later in the year. My driver's licence shot has me with five chins and a scowl- I'm at my heaviest and I look miserable.  My passport shot is better, but I'm ten years younger, though from memory, I'm weighting in about 5 kilos heavier than I am now.

If there is one thing I want to get out of this. I want to be able to go through life and not remember significant occasions by what weight I was. This is a sad fact of my life that I no longer want a part of. I just want to be in a healthy weight range and happy with that - and not have to remember the numbers and the misery attached to those numbers.

Other than these minor glitches, I should achieve my goal of an eight kilo loss over twelve weeks easily. If I make ten kilos over this twelve week period - I'll be thrilled. However, I'm still managing the expectations very carefully and trying to keep it real.

My next exercise goals - make it up the 1000 steps in under 25 minutes from base to the top, run a kilometre under 5 minutes by the end of these twelve weeks and go on my first hike.These should be acheiveable.

Bring on week six.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Question of Quality

Rarely do I get steamed up about a book.

Most of my friends know my for my passion for literature and the written word, and many a friend has rolled their eyes as I spout on about my latest find. Often, the book I'm crowing about will be loaned on to the friend for a read. My friends are good - they return books.

Others are aware that I co-ordinate the book group of which I am a part. I don't run it  - but I make the restaurant bookings each month, send out the reminder emails, bag up the lollies for the annual vote and occasionally step in to mediate in the odd issue that may arise. A current issue is whether non-fiction should be put up for selection in out annual book choosing. It's proving to be an issue, so we may as well get it sorted. You have ten women with large personalities with differing opinions - it's like herding cats.

For the most part, book group is a democratic group. We choose the books by voting - most people stick to the rules - books of literary or quality popular fiction, under 500 pages, preferably not autobiography (unless there is a compelling reason why you want it there) and all is well. Most people realise that they're not going to like everything on the list. Sometimes you find a hidden gem.

So over the years, I've watched as people have loved Marcus Zuzak's "The Book Thief", distained a Salman Rushdie, pondered Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Bram Stoker, argued over "The Slap", cried over "A Thousand Splendid Suns" and half-laughed, half-despaired over "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies."

We have a varied list.

Being the convenor, I have a perceived responsiblity to at least have read the book and to show up. In the five years I've been a member of this group, there's only been a handful of books I've missed reading. It was too hot for "Love in a Time of Cholera", I failed with Louis Nowra's "Ice", despite starting it about ten times, and I wanted to come after Anne Bronte with a chainsaw for the woeful "Tenant of Wildfell Hall."

I try not to moan. I'm trained, as a student of English Literature, to read fairly critically, read around things and form a grounded, informed opinion. I also try and find the good in most things. So when we read "Eat, Pray, Love", rather than diss it for popular crap, I found that the middle section in India fantastic - as I could relate to the struggles with meditation. Even "The Finkler Question", a difficult read, I found some redeeming features - actually the more I thought about it, the more I got out of it.

Others in the group will boycott books or authors they don't like - at least having the good grace to not front at the meeting - though I don't feel I have that luxury. Part of me thinks this is a little odd - why else be in a book group if it's not going to get your reading stuff you wouldn't normally - but that is their perogative and I have to respect that.

However, I'm sitting here, absolutely LIVID about a book choice - something I am being forced to read, something that is on the book group list for next month, which has me fuming.

I've never felt this before. As our system of choosing books is democratic, I'm fairly easy going with the choices. Okay, you'd never get me voting for anything Paolo Coelho has written - I think he's a load of new age wank - however, other's don't think that - I will have to learn to live with that. I'm sure others aren't enamoured that we have "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" in the list - especially as they hated the movie ("But it's my favorite ever book!" I cry, " Don't see the movie - the book is amazing...")

So how this thing - I can't call it a book - got on the list, is beyond me. I'm ropeable! This has to be the worst book I have ever had the misfortune of reading. IT'S CRAP! I'd rather read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" again (Which I actually didn't mind that much)

I'm a bit of a connoiseur of crap in general - I can forgive a lot of things - I've read the Da Vinci Code - but for something that was terribly written, the story and ideas were great. I've read all of the Twilight series - and by the end of it I was ready to run over Stephenie Meyer's word processor with a lawnmower. I've read a lot of Mills and Boon. I've even got through the second Bridget Jones book - which was dire.

This shite surpasses them all.

Now, for the problems attached to this. Firstly, Blarney put the book up for nomination. I did ask her to reconsider when she said what it was. I stated that both of the books she was nominating were autobiographies. The other one she listed was Kate Holden's "In My Skin". This I thought was more appropriate - great material, well written, good topic - if you're going to put up an autoiography, that would be one to consider - but this other one? Hmm. Blarney said it got great reviews in America and it had sold over a million copies.... my bullshit meter started to twitch. What American reviews? A million copies? Was this an airport novel?

Here's me thinking that the group would have the sense to stay away from this book, with a kitten on the cover - of course they'd ditch it for one of the others. Schmaltz. Stay away. Not of the standard we like to read.


When the count was done, this book snuck in with ten votes.

I've been reading this book for two days now. I wouldn't paper a budgie cage with this. I really do reckon it's one of the worst things I've ever had the misfortune of reading - and I read quite a bit.

And it's not just the writing. It's boring. It's boring and attrociously written. I'm used to reading book group books and revelling in the language. This is a piece of shite. I groan loudly a couple of times a page at the cliched, hackneyed writing style and the complete lack of grace, the pointless storyline and the complete bollox this person has made of what could have been a gracefully written book. I feel like seeking out the publisher and clubbing him like a baby seal.

Ah, there's my spleen, thought I'd lost it.

If I had a cricket bat I'd go wallop the author - or the publishers for having the gaul to get this crap out into the world. It seriously has all of the literary bent of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical! (Another pet hate)

I'd want to garotte the book group members who voted for it too - but I have to let that one slide. They've all been subjected to things they haven't liked. I still don't get how they let some gems like Geraldine Brook's "The People of the Book", Jonathan Franzen's "The Collectors" or Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore" go by the wayside for this wad of fecal matter, but we have to blame the democratic process for that.

I think what makes me mad is that I could have written something better, of a better quality, of a more interesting bent - but would I get it published - no way. I'm not a reknown journalist. I don't have friends in places where you can get your schmaltzy book about your stupid cat published. Don't get me wrong - I love cats. But I'm only allowed to talk about cats for five minutes - after that I button up. 300 pages about a stupid moggy. Like WTF?!

We've all made mention, especially the older members who were there when the book group was in another incarnation, that the choice of books is more even since we got the voting going. Stinkers such as Kate Mosse's "The Labyrinth" and Kostova's "The Historian" haven't been a part of the club for a few years now. Also, we don't have to cook for each other any more - which is good. The "do not prepare" list was long and arduous - no coriander, cream sauces, sausages, seafood, spice... on and on it went. At least at a bistro you can chose your own meal and you don't have to clean the house for visitors.

But as for this book. Well, I've got about a hundred pages to go. I will groan and moan and wonder what the frigging point of the novel is and think about what I'd do to the author if she was at a writer's festival - egging might be a good start.

As for the reviews. Well, a couple of Minnesota grandmother's and Salt Lke City Mormons can't be wrong, can they?

At least it's an easy read, even if I really do wish that the blue escort that ran over this woman's child ran over her in the process.

Right, I think I'd better take a handful of vitamin B, starflower oil and chocolate and go to bed.

See of that improves my mood any...


P.S.  The book is "Cleo" by Helen Brown - a "Marley and Me" for New Zealandish cats. Read at your own peril.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dreaming of 2012

My friend Amy of Aim to Change fame was given a challenge last week. Describe what she saw coming in her future. What was 2012 going to be like for Amy? She was forced to have a think about her plans for the future, what she wanted to happen in her life, what she wanted for herself.

Now Amy is one of the most beautiful and inspiring people I know, not that we've ever met in person (though we chat online and skype) but for the last three years I've watched her on the challenge of her life, slowly transforming herself into what she has become today.

Actually, all of the women who are a part of my Biggest Loser Club are inspiring and supportive in turn. I'm certain I couldn't have got as far as I have without the support of Aim, Trin, Kez, Sooz and the others who are on this journey with me. It's nice to be able to moan about a bad day, crow about results, be there to pick up the pieces when things go pear-shaped - and not have to bore your normal friends with the details. We all know what it's like to have an emotional food blow out, not want to go and do the exercise, find you've just been sabotaged by a family member or sat wallowing in the pit of despair as you find you can't fit into your favourite outfit any more. It's also great not to have to talk to this with your friends - like running, it's a subject that gets really monotonous after a while.

The BLC crew are like my cheerleaders for change - and it's great. Kez, now sitting on 45 kgs of weight loss got through her 8 km run in 45 minutes - which is amazing and inspring. I'm watching Trin go from strength to strength in ever time trial and set of push ups she does. Sooz has sorted her life out completely. These wonderful, focussed women really get what the journey is about.

So when the Commando set Amy this challenge - describe what 2012 will be like for her, I asked if I could borrow the challenge.

Also, as I believe that time is fluid and that you can influence how your future turns out. By writing about it, you can make it happen. Well, that is the plan. I also have evidence that it works. As and example, I know that I was talking about going to Spain on my 41st birthday - with no idea how that was going to happen - only a few months later I won the tickets overseas... it can happen if you put it out there.

So, what does Pandora's 2012 look like? I'll do this in the third person - lets see what Pandora's life is looking like.

Well the newly svelte Pandora, a standard size 12 on the bottom, 14 on the top, is getting on with her life. The foundations are down in the apartment that she has put down the downpayment on - and she is looking forward to moving in later in the year. She's also glad that the bed she's currently sleeping in will be place in the spare room. She and her partner will buy a new one when they move in together - they're testing the waters at the moment.

Pandora's also making sure she keeps up with her training. The New York Marathon awaits. New York you ask? Why not? Isn't that hard to get into? Yes - and if it's not the New York Marathon, the Mount Desert Island one will do well - Reindert might even run it with her. Will be nice to see Reindert and Corazon again. On the way back from New York, Pandora and her partner will stop in on Paris - she's always wanted to go back there with a partner - it's not a city you go to by yourself.

The big addition to the family are Pandora's cats. Joyce and Marmalade, two moggies rescued from the Lort Smith give her plenty of joy - though she wonders if Joyce is really a demon in disguise. The little bitch mugs her ankles regularly and has a tendency to shred the curtains.

Pandora looks back at 2011 and believes it was a great year. She's managed to lose 25 kgs over the year, get her fitness and health back, run a sub 2.30 half marathon, find that man - strangely not through work but on a bushwalk, something she took up last year.

She's thrilled the doctor no longer rags her about her blood pressure which is now in the realms of normal.  Actually, for a 43-year-old woman, she's running pretty well - not just running, but her body isn't betraying her. There are a few grey hairs. She doesn't have perky breasts any more, but she hasn't had those for over a decade. Her legs are still good - going by her mother, they'll still be great at seventy. Losing the weight she's carried for twenty years has been a revelation to her. For the first time in her life she's confident in her looks and her body.

Other things she did which she loved - the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb she did for her 43rd birthday (and to celebrate getting under 80 kgs / losing 20kgs) was amazing. She looks at her friends, a great mob. Can't do better than that - the old one's are gold but there are some great new friends in the mix - including the new guy. The one who didn't leave after a few months.

She's pleased her job is finally letting her get somewhere. The project management certification makes her feel a bit more certain about her future. She loves that she works with great people and has a good deal of work life balance.

Pinochet, dream group and meditation are still in her life - they're going nowhere. Her little Mazda 2 in a jet black is named Dennis - replacing dear old trusty Andrew the Echo.

It's good to see that she's happy.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The "To Do" List

Today's "To Do" List

Prepare for Interview
Go over ads on Seek from Friday/Monday
Investigate new Super company
Fix Temping CV
Prepare for Masons - Masons 7.30 pm
Finish book group book - prepare questions
Sort flat for inspection
Arrange a run with Jase and Roger

I look at this and just go HMPH!.

Sorry I've been quiet for a bit - lots has been going on over the last week.

First up, the Tassie job didn't come off, but I have two second interviews with consulting companies this week. Today's will hopefully go well - it's a company I'm interested in working for.

Secondly, there's been too much going through my head to really formulate a real blog. When my head runs over like that I tend to go to ground or hit the gym to work off the stresses.

Thirdly, I've had a house guest who seems to take up a lot of my time. Blarney's cat, Maow Maow is staying with me for three weeks. I believe that Maow Maow is really my cat and I just loan him out to Blarney and Barney - we're the best of friends, me and that cat. One of my favorite things to do is cuddle the cat - love cuddling the cat! He likes to sleep on my stomach as I watch television. He doesn't complain about what's on. So spending time with Maow Maow has been a priority. I love that he purrs when he gets picked up. I don't like that he uses my feet for a chew toy at 5 am. He's great cat.

So, working through this "To Do" list.

Prepare for interview

Done the worst of this last night - now just have to arrange clothing (power suit and comfortable clothes for after - theres no way I'm spending the day roaming around in a suit if I don't have to) I also have another interview tomorrow morning for another consultancy firm. Something will come up soon.

Go over ads on Seek from Friday/Monday

This goes without saying. Trawling through the job ads is a way of life at the moment. Not my favorite thing to do - and this will be done at the career consultant's office to give me a bit of separation from home.

Investigate new Super company

Something I've been meaning to to for the last few months. Find a decent superannuation company to put my money in that is not going to eat the funds up with stupid fees. I've got some ideas, just need to make a few calls.

Fix Temping CV

Along with looking for a "proper" job, I'm at the stage where I'd be happy to go temping - answer phones, file, type - anything to get a bit more money coming in, the rent and bills paid and for me to stop spending my savings. It's not an easy job market out there at all but temp work can bring rewards - little stress, some financial reward and a bit of sanity. So that is Plan C - though I'm hoping something comes from the interview today. I'm interested in the company. The first interview was a stunner and I got through their two hour test the other day.

Prepare for Masons - Masons 7.30 pm

Ah, we have a big celebration tonight at Masons. We're getting a new Grand Poobah. I get a new job to do around the lodge. All I will say is that all you need to know about Freemasonry can be collected from watching The Flintstones and Happy Days. I have my two packets of Tim Tams to take for supper. Not that I can eat them. I always feel completely out of my league when it comes to supper. It's like you've been put in front of the best CWA spread ever - and here I am with my Tim Tams. I'd have made yoyos but I've been busy, and the risk of eating half a batch is too tempting.

Finish book group book - Prepare questions

The book is finished, just have to do the questions. This one has been plaguing me a bit. It's my book choice and I have to run the session. There has been a bit of dissent about the book too, which bemuses and bothers me in equal measure.

The book in question is "Reading Lolita in Tehran" by Azar Nafisi. It is a memoir about a woman teaching English in Iran through the revolution of the 80's. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and put it up for the club because 1) it was about a book club, 2) it had some interesting subject matter and 3) I'd had a number of people recommend it to me.

I love my book group, but I'm very aware of the subtle differences in the group. We're a mob of very intelligent women ranging in age from their mid-twenties to one member who is sixty. We are all very different in our reading tastes - everything from crime and vampire novels, to Russian Literature to modern intelligensia - we all have very different tastes.

In this group, books are chosen at the end of each year when each member brings two books along to champion. The books are voted on, every member given 25 lollies on which to distribute how they wish. You can't vote for your own books. The guidelines we have are that the books should be of literary or good popular fiction standard, preferably under 500 pages and preferably not autobiography. In any given year there are going to be books you love and books you loathe - and some people will get pretty passionate about books - like for me  - Anne Bronte's "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall"  - should be burned. And why didn't Anna Karenina jump under the train in the first 200 pages?

However, it is a democratic process, you have to take the good with the bad. As I said, you have to take the good with the bad (hmm, just started next month's book - and that cat book is a dog...)

Nafisi's book is a memoir - certainly not an autobiography - there's a rather large difference between to two genres. I know very little about the author's personal situation and views. I know a lot about the general situation. It's very much non-fiction - something we haven't really done before.

It's going to be interesting.

Strangely, we have three non-fiction books on the list this year, the others, "Cleo" by Helen Brown and Kate Holden's "In my Skin". The person who put these books up for consideration was asked to reconsider as they were autobiography, but she stood firm - the latter one inparticular should promote some good conversation (I agree with that - great book)

I'm still a little tentative about tomorrow night's book group - maybe after this foray into these books we make it a rule "No autobiography and non-fiction" rather than just the clause, "Avoid autobiography."

The great thing about democracy - you have the right to complain all you like.


Goes without saying - will fit this in after job hunting and before masons.

Sort flat for inspection

Why is it when you start doing you're not supposed to be doing and you get a call from the landlord saying you're having an inspection. Joy. I have a no pets clause in my lease. I don't have a pet - I just mind other people's pets. Maow Maow is going to stay with Auntie Kitt for the night while I try get rid of the traces of cat hair he's left about the place. My kitchen is spotless, he place is tidier than usual. The landlord will see that I'm not running a meth lab, harbouring 20 Chinese students, keeping a heap of smelly rubbish or having an illegal flatmate and will leave me alone. I will talk to her about the fact I'd love a new oven, the bathroom ceiling needs painting and the possum in the roof is still causing me grief and that will be it.

A very pissed off Maow Maow will be collected from Auntie Kitt after dream group the following evening. That is if Auntie Kitt will give him back.

Arrange a run with Jase and Roger

See what they're up to tomorrow lunchtime. It's been a long time and I reckon it will be a good foil for an 8 am interview in the morning.

So yeah, there's a bit on my plate - better get on with it.
Project Pandora Update Day 29

Current weight: 87.8 kgs

Four weeks in to this project and there are some noticable differences in my. I'm beginning to get told that I'm looking good by people - which is lovely, humbling and rather satisfying.

Four weeks in and I'm used to the 1200 calorie limit on food. Some days I go a little over, most days I'm about right.

Four weeks in and I've managed to keep up the exercise - I'm not quite doing what Michelle Bridges asks of me, but its not far off. I pull the over 40's card some days. I'm happy to kill myself three days a week and exercise moderately for the other three days. I'm doing enough, but I don't feel like I'm over doing it. I'm old - I have to be a little kind to myself.

However, Saturday was milestone day. We were requested to do something out of the ordinary - and by this, Michelle Bridges meant do some out of the ordinary exercise. I was asked to do a timed run - a fun run. I took up the challenge.

I met up with Trin and her friend Maeve to do the fitness test first thing Saturday morning. I ran with Maeve on her kilometre run - she did a great 6.40 - fantastic for someobody who's just started running. Trin did extra well - 5.40 over the kilometre - a decent 30 seconds less than last month. I ran my kilometre after that.

Five minutes ten seconds!!!! Like how did that happen? An average speed of nearly 12 kilometres an hour!

59 knee pushups later it was decided I had to do grunty boy pushups instead. I managed 14 in the minute. Like what the? Didn't do badly on the wall sit (2 minutes 15 seconds). Only the abs and the reach test need work.

Then it was off to see Pinochet, who decided that punishing me on the cables would be a fun thing to do. He was under instructions to leave my legs alone - I had this fun run later.

Then the fun run. Three years ago you would never get me saying the words "run" and "run" in the same sentence. I haven't run properly, like done a timed run since the Williamstown half. One of the Biggest Loser Girls organised this. Tentatively, I put myself down for the 4 km run - with the intention of running what I could - not being too fussed. I've really only just started running again so I know I could walk/run the distance along the Maribyrnong without blinking.

I ran the whole course in 27.02 by my watch - 27.05 official time. Thrilled with that. It's my best time over 4 kms.

I haven't run this far since Williamstown.

And I am extremely proud of myself.

For the next fitness test in a month's time I want to see if I can get my kilometre sprint time to under five minutes.

Still, I'm very chuffed with myself. (Did I mention he next day I made it to Pump class and did the 1000 Steps again - though not with my top weights or in a really fast time...)


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Small Milestone

Project Pandora Update: Day 23

This morning I hopped in the scales. 88.3kg.

I've officially lost 10 kgs this year.

Yippee! Ten down, twenty to go. Though we don't look at it like that. Next goal is 83 kgs - I'm doing this in 5 kg increments. It's far easier to manage the expectations and lifestyle.

Still, it's an acheivement. I now have a waist and cheekbones and collarbones that are visible. I'm starting to run again. My knee isn't hurting as much. I made it up the 1000 Steps in just under 27 minutes yesterday - it took me nearer 35 at the start of the year. Yesterday's trek only had one minor break, in January that was four or five breaks.

My pump squat weight is now 20 kilograms, 12.5 for the chest, 15 for the back track. Pinochet had me leg pressing 110 kgs last week - that's more than I weight now. Like cool!

I'm doing a fun run on Saturday (Reindert's 40th birthday, have to celebrate appropriately) This is my first sponsored run in over six months.

I snack on raspberries and yoghurt, the odd muesli bar - no chips or chocolate. There's next to no junk in my diet any more. I'l pinch a chip off Glen Waverley tomorrow at lunch. That will be my treat.

Despite being on a very low calorie diet, I feel GREAT! Plenty of energy, rarely hungry and feel fine about the next nine weeks of this plan.

It's been a real journey - but sooooo worth it.

Happy Pand xxx

Monday, March 14, 2011

Random Lyric Long Weekend

I tried a small social experiment this long weekend.

In my facebook status, I inserted random lyrics and watched what happened - not that I was expecting anything at all. All lyrics were preceded with the leader, "Random Lyric Long Weekend:" This was so that people wouldn't be even more confused. Why were these random tidbits being placed in my status? Well why not. It was a random long weekend (Victorian Labour Day) it gave me something other than exercise to think about.

Some songs gained a few comments. Some people added next lines or views on the songs. Some lyrics just sat there like lemmings on a clifftop - innocuous and bare.

I really can't explain why some of the lyrics were chosen. Some just seemed a good thing at the time. The thing is, I'm the worst one for getting lines of songs stuck in my head to which my old workmates will attest. I'm dreadful for singing stupid songs, like "Dr Worm" or "Ma Nah Mah Na" (the latter, still being one of the funniest things I've ever seen, even 35 years on). Some of these songs are of a little better calibre so I've gone a small way to get back a little of my street cred back.

Just random lyrics for a random public holiday.

So here is the good, the bad and the ugly in order. Links to all songs have been provided so for those with an interest can see what I'm on about.

Saturday 11.26 am  "Eight, eight, I forget what eight is for...."

Saturday 7.38 pm "This will go down on your PERMANENT record....."

The Violent Femmes - The Kiss Off

This was on in the car on the way back from meditation and both lyrics come from the one song. Got lots of good associations with the Violent Femmes. This song gets in your head. Actually, the vocal stylings of Gordon Gano get into your head and stay there a while. This is off their superlative album, The Blind Leading the Naked.

I think
I love the Violent Femmes because you can sing along to them and not worry about the fact that you're out of tune. Perfect car music.

Saturday 9.42 pm: "And his penis has diseases from the Schumach tribe...."

Buffy the Musical  - "I'll Never Tell"

Okay, I'm a Buffy nerd. I possess every episode on either tape or DVD. I can sing the musical episode like all good Buffy fanatics. Thing is, Anya and Xander aren't my favorite characters. Give me Spike any day (Phwoar, be still my blushing girlie bits). Other stupid thing is, off all the songs in the whole fifty minute episode, this song is the one song that gets in your head. And this line in particular... Well, what can I say - you sorta have to be up on Buffy to know what's going on. Fun song, however. (5 comments - a couple from fellow Buffy nerds, and one thinking that the line was a bit disturbing - ah well, can't win 'em all)

Sunday 12.36 pm "Like Scott in the Antarctic, base camp to far away, a Russian sub beneath the Arctic, Burke and Wills and camels, initials in the tree...."

Australian Crawl - "Reckless"

This is my favorite song on the planet. Produced in 1983, so that puts me in Year 10. Though many complain that James Reyne's vocals are incoherent, I still LOVE this song. There's a great acoustic version on YouTube which is almost better than the original. I know one friend  who though that he was singing about "Dead Canada Beavers" (She don't like that kind of behaviour - go figure) Seems two others of my age appreciated this, they filled in more of the lyrics in the comments.

The thing about James Reyne and Australian Crawl - for as mumbly as they come across here, Andrew Denton did a series of cover versions a few years back - James Reyne sang  Kate Bush's just as impenetrable  "Wuthering Heights". Stupid thing - you can understand EVERY WORD!

Sunday 2.05 pm: I wish a doctor, could take your picture, so I could look at your from inside as well ..."

The Vapours, "Turning Japanese"

Lots of comments on this one. Again, a few people filling in the lyrics, but I did have to ask, was I the only one who it took twenty years to work out that this was a song about masturbation? One of the best one hit wonders of the eighties, along with a Flock of Seagulls, "I Ran" and The Buggles, "Video Killed the Radio Star". Mind you this came out when I was about twelve. How was I to know what that was all about then? I just remember dancing along to it at the Year Seven dance as if nothing was wrong.

Sunday, 8.00 pm "... These were just ghosts that broke my heart before I met you."

Laura Marling, "Ghosts"

I bought last year's Triple J Hot 100 Album. It showcases the best of new, often independent music for the youth of today. I loathed most of the double album. This was a rare treat on what I perceived as a heap of dross. I think I'm getting old. I was also amazed to find out that Laura Marling's only in her early twenties. I had a listen to the rest of her stuff - she's great.

Monday, 2.00 am "... your pubic hair upon my pillow, your stubble rings the sink...."

Do Re Mi, "Man Overboard"

It's 1985. I've had a bad break up. It's 2011. The cat has woken me up by sticking a claw into my big toe.

No idea why this lyric came to my head at 2 am. Thing is, most people of my age only know three lines from this song. The one in my status bar and the catch cry - "What am I expected to do? Shout man overboard!"

Having a listen to this again - superb song! Haven't heard in an age.

Monday, 9.12 am "Some forever, not for better, some have gone and some remain."

The Beatles, "In My Life".

A small note on this song. In the British Library in London is a birthday card of Julian Lennon's. On the front of the card is Noddy and Big Ears and the normal greetings you give to a small child. On the back of the card is John Lennon's scrawl with the lyrics to this song.

An old school friend noted that she liked this. I know she loves the Beatles, but I have a funny feeling that she, like me, have a lot more value placed on this certain song.

Monday, 1.34 pm "Twist, twist, twist, twist, mashed potato, mambo..."

Hairspray, "Miss Baltimore Crabs"

Ah, Michelle Pfeiffer - how wonderful. I'm not really into musicals, but I love this one. It's fun, it's edgy. I wish I had Tracey Turnblad's parents. It's cool. And this song is just too much fun. God Bless Thelma Von Tussle.

Monday, 5.40 pm "Heiroglyphics, let me be specific, I wanna go down in your South Seas...."

The Bloodhound Gang, "Bad Touch"

Another thing to come out of the Netherlands that you have to question - just like slavery, apartheid and Andre Rieu.

Glen Waverley and I have a good giggle over this song. He took me down the Great Ocean Road two years ago for a day trip. Driving through Apollo Bay in his hairdresser car with the top down. He PUMPED THIS SONG UP TO ELEVEN! How embarrassment.

It's a fun song, but you know that this, like the Venga Boys and that awful group that did the "Barbie Girl" song come from the Netherlands. This song can nearly be forgiven. There is no excuse for the Venga Boys.

Monday, 7.23 pm, "And can you tell me doctor why I still can't get to sleep, and why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet..."

Redgum, "I was only Nineteen."

This, along with any version of "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" are two of the greatest Australian war songs written. These songs have the ability to move me to tears without fail. The only comment received was from a mate who I have a feeling has similar sentiments about this song. It's incredibly powerful.

Monday, 22.08 pm, "And it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift..."

Leonard Cohen, "Hallelujah"

No, Jeff Buckley didn't do the original, Leonard Cohen did. Though Jeff Buckley's version is far more accessable. Gotta shove something in that isn't trash. I rather like Rufus Wainwright's version as well.

Still a great song. Needed to finish on a strong note.

Oh well, back to job hunting tomorrow. This was a fun exercise. Completely pointless, but fun. There go you, a bit of randomness for a random public holiday.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pandora's Guide to Subsets

Subset [suhb-set] – noun

1. a set that is a part of a larger set.
2. Mathematics . a set consisting of elements of a given set that can be the same as the given set or smaller.

Why is it that subsets plague me? I look around and there are all these little groups of people who walk the planet who are a part of the community who do some very strange things. These people, who do these very strange things, are part of a subset.

People who belong to these subsets tend to be ridiculed for their inclusion in these groups. Often they have no idea why they're being ridiculed. Sometimes, we have no idea why we put these groups up to jest. It's never malicious - more a gentle taking of the piss. I mean, if you're into medieval recreations, decoupage or Dungeons and Dragons - WHAT THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT?

People who are part of subsets will sometimes laugh along at the knowledge that they're part of one of these groups. Some people might be a part of one or more subset - take Popeye, my old boss. A ginger, left-handed engineer. Three subsets there, and he's proud to a member of all of these groups. Sad bastard. Some people would bea little offended if they knew.

I mean no harm here.

Also, there are some subsets that aren't subsets. Some things just are just life and they are to be accepted. Like people who don't like tennis aren't a subset - we're just sensible. People who don't like chocolate - now that could technically be a subset, but there are more people than you know who don't give a damn about the sweet brown stuff. Same as those who like oysters. It's a choice, not an inclusion into a group that makes you a bit strange.

The thing about subsets - you don't mean to judge these people - you just do. My friend Gerry is king of the subsets - forever pigeonholing people, but happily a member of a few subsets himself. He knows me as his ambidextrous, witchy, running , neo-leftist, Croweater mate of his wife. To me he's a volleyball playing, suburban, career public servant, country boy. We accept each other as is. Bless.

So, with bated breath, Pandora's Guide to Subsets who give her most amusement and joy, knowing that there are many more - and knowing full well that I'm going to get in trouble.

1) Engineers

I do love engineers, but they really are a subset. Engineers appear to be what has evolved from the spotty guy in your science class that wouldn't say boo to a goose and got the best marks. Smart, not particularly trendy with a penchant for looking at their feet and either mumbling or talking too loud. They've grown up to be capable, handy though not particularly social - and they rely a bit too much on beer. They marry capable women who they know can look after themselves - though they make a pretty good effort at taking care of the people they like and love. Somewhere between university and work they discovered personal hygeine - for the most part. Odds on, they were affectionate little boys until they fell in love with their Commodore 64.

Engineers are great when you need something fixed - and they normally do a good job of it. Payment with a batch of biscuits and a few "Oh, you're so clever, I could never do that..." with your head tilted on the side will make them come back to do more odd jobs.

Gotta love engineers.

2) People who don't have a mobile phone

There are these people about - but I'm not sure I know of anybody who doesn't have a mobile. I have a lot of friends in the subset who either leave their mobile off or leave it at home a lot, but I can't think of anybody who doesn't have one.

Part of me ponders that people who don't have a mobile are really quite sensible. Many of these people are over the age of sixty or under the age of ten. Some don't have the funds to support a mobile. That's fine. But not having a mobile. Hmmm. For the better part of three years I had two of the buggers.

Mind you, there used to be a subset of people who didn't have a land line - that is a group that grows by the day.

3) People who work down St Kilda Road

I've always been a city dweller, working within the 3000 postcode for work. St Kilda Road may as well be another country. A lot of disparate people appear to work down that way by the looks of the people on the trams. Second tier companies, women in slacks and jumpers, call centres... It's a place that a lot of people work, but why? Why would you WANT to work in a place it will take a train AND a tram to get there? Plus, there are next to no shops, sandwich bars, watering holes and other amenities. It's not a bad place for runners to work as it's very near Albert Park Lake and the Tan - but that's all I see going for it.

Okay, there are some pretty cool companies down that way - I just don't get why they aren't located somewhere easier to get to.

4) Runners

A subset to which I'm proud to belong.

Runners, by definition, are nutters. There are also subsets of runners - short distance, weekend, long distance, freaky ultra-marathoning-over-big-mountain runners for example. Runners nearly didn't make the list - but I have to put them down. We are a bit freaky. Most of us are in some sort of pain some of the time. You get injured every so often. People shout at you as you pound down the road at whatever time of the day or night. But you love it, and you do it. There is no competition except the one you have with yourself. It's a form of fitness training and meditation all rolled into one. And you can never be an ex-runner. You're either a runner, or your not. And once you're a runner, you're always a runner. You may not have run for months or years - you're still a runner.

We know we're a bit odd. But we also tend to know when to shut up. We'll talk distance, times, farklets, hill sprints and events among ourselves.

5) Lefthanders

Strangely, a lot of engineers fall into this subset.

It used to be beaten out of people - no wonder lefthanders get a bit defensive.

Rather than use this one as a form of ridicule, it's subset of people I always find surprising - and a little interesting - I mean, have you ever watched a lefthander write? It can, but not always, look awkward - and you want to ask why they don't use their other hand.

I won't make too much of this one as I'm ambidextrous - so I'm halfway there. My mother is lefthanded. Don't get me to use scissors with my right hand - I can't. But it is interesting that almost double the number of Geminis are lefthanded than any other star sign. I also can't get over how many left handed doctors, engineers and scientists I know.

6) People who don't feel the cold

These people are very often English football supporters. You see them in the stands at Manchester United games. It's snowing. They're wearing a t-shirt.

People who don't feel the cold are a subset. Thongs in winter. They never have a coat or a cardigan with them. They rarely have their heating on in winter. The windows are open year round. And they will never go on a tropical holiday. Others get very mad at them when they say "It's not cold, get a grip." They're often told top "Put some bloody clothes on and shut that window while you're at it."


Ooops - I've just described myself and half my family.

7) Men who wear short-sleeved business shirts

Unless you work in the tropics, the airlines or the post office, there is NO excuse for short-sleeved business shirts. Often the domain of men over 45 named Darren, Trevor or Wayne, these men often like to wear their short-sleeved business shirts with long shorts, long socks and sandals, these icons of style appear only to be available in poly-cotton, or polyester blends.

Best worn with a tie, these men have a few things in common - often they're ex-forces, often they're over 45 and all of them think they're very stylish.

Love 'em. They just look WRONG.

8) People who talk to people they don't know on the tram/train/bus

Without exception, people who talk to people they don't know on the tram/train/bus (for more than a "Where is the next stop?", or "Do you have the time?" type questions) come into two distinct groups.
a) Those who are on drugs
b) People from the country.

The second group are much more lucid and far more pleasant. (And often , if they're not from the country, they're from Adelaide)

9) Grunty-boy body builders

I don't get grunty-boy body builders. I get people who do weights. I don't get those who bulk up to the max and model themselves on Arnold Schwartzenegger. Those strange, large, hulking masses of men who exclusively smell of tuna, ketones, sweat and stale protein shake.

Seriously, I get what it is to have good muscle definition. I even get what it must be to have chest muscles and defined abs, legs, arms and a butt. I'm talking about those who LIVE at the gym, grunt a lot and can't get shirts to fit - and often if you look at these blokes, they often neglect their legs and they're all out of proportion.

The biggest reason I don't get grunty-boy body builders - why would they want to make their muscles so big? Wouldn't that make their willies look tiny?

10) Career Public Servants

Public servants are a breed apart. They talk their own language. It may as well be Swahili. They get rostered days off, extra superannuation contributions, leaves for all sorts of strange things and NOBODY really knows what they do. I'm not sure some of them know what they do. As somebody who's only worked in corporates, I don't get this breed of people who talk of pay grades, government movement, ministerial papers, politicians and privileges. Especially when they don't seem to be that privileged at all - they also tend to work every hour God gives them and do a lot of flying about the place.

The public servants know are lovely peple - I just don't have a clue what they do at work - or how they go about their days. It all seems to be very heavily controlled by the PC police. Mind you, they don't get me and my corporate Australia views, the fact that I ran a beer club - without getting in trouble, or the fact that I say jump and shit happens.

The nearest I got to the Public Service was a six months stint at the Public Trustees. There were lots of people in cardigans who hung out for tea break at 10.30....

Wonder how much trouble I'll see?
Pandora smiles.


Friday, March 11, 2011

The Tower

Oh I wish I could take the world by the collar and give it a good shake!

It was then pointed out that we're doing the Tower in meditation tomorrow and suddenly things start to make a bit of sense. Things don't make sense in a logical way - please don't try to make too much sense of this, but in the Pandoraverse, doing the Tower meditation brings everything into alignment after a while, freshening things up. like a thunderstorm after a few muggy days.

A bit of background. Every second Saturday, I take myself off to meditation. Kabbalistic Meditiation. I'm not going to say much more than that. I'm not a kabbalist, I'm not Jewish, but this ritual of the Saturday morning meditation class is one of the most important parts of each fortnight. It sets up the next fortnight. It gives me some structure to my life. Most importantly, it provides life lessons.

The tower is about change. Quick, painful, necessary change.

Things need to be shaken up in a big way at the moment.

The Tower will do this every time. Maybe it will shake this feeling of dis-ease I've had for the last few days - or weeks - which I will only admit to if I'm feeling honest.

Things have been out of sorts since dream group on Wednesday. As I've said many times before, I can't break the confidence of the circle, but I can say that the discussion went into details of being cared for, being loved, being looked after and being supported. I left feeling a little shaky, but I got home okay. Thursday I was containing the rage, it was well controlled, but I was ready to lash out. Pinochet making me leg press 110 kgs helped get a bit of that out.

Today wasn't much better. The only thing going for me at the moment is that I've got custody of Blarney's cat Maow Maow. He and I tick along very well. He likes to sleep on my stomach while I watch telly. He helps keep me sane. I have a bit of affection in my life for a few weeks.

I digress. Dream group brought up a whole heap of stuff for me which I'm trying to work out how to fix.

This is why I go to dream group. If I'm not given this stuff to look at, how can I even start to fix it? How do I know it's there to fix?

So here I've been, sitting here in the knowledge that I've been unsupported in many ways all of my life. I've had to support myself. Hell, I've been clothing myself since I was fourteen when I got my own job. I've never had anybody to rely on. I don't go places with people. I've never been taken away, even for a weekend. I've paid my own bills, my own rent, my own utilities etc for as long as I remember. I don't comprehend the fact that most people have others in their lives to help pick up the pieces, take the slack, sort them out. I really don't get the fact that I have friends out there who don't work because their partner brings in the money. My poor little pea brain just doesn't get that at all.

Exacerbating this, here I am looking for work, with not much joy. Still waiting on a definitive answer on the Hobart job. The market is really strange to say the least. I know I'm fine for a while, but I'd rather be back earning and saving once more. It is very unsettling for me. I'm using the fallback plan at the moment.

The thing is, I know the Tower is great. It's nothing to be scared of - and yes, things can be uncomfortable with it, but it's quick change - not the slow, annoying, deliberate change that you get with other change cards, like Death, or the six of swords.

You look at the card, a large tower is being hit by lightning. Two people, one in red, one in blue, are falling to the earth. The Tower is built on solid foundations. There are twenty two yods (the little yellow dingles) falling from the Tower. The dingles are inspiration and hope. The crown that was on the top of the tower is blown away, signifying the release of thoughts and the allowing in of the new.

It's also symbolic of the Tower of Babel, where man built a tower so high, thinking they were so smart, all speaking the same language. It was a world where everybody could communicate with each other. God, angered by man's pride and audacity struck down the tower and removed the one common language between man. Once the tower fell, man could no longer easily communicate - and the languages of the world came about.

We often forget that the tower is a card of communication. Communicating freely between the intellect and the emotions.

Ah, I'm letting you into Pandora the Tarot Reader's domain.

Personally, I'm rather fond of the Tower card in the Witches Tarot deck. There are lots of tarot decks - I ahve about thirty tucked away in my wardrobe. They're all different - but this Tower, in this deck, is special.

Set on the sphere of the unconsious, the tower is exploding outwards, the sphere of the self at the top, ready to embrace the change, like a cocoon finally breaking to allow the butterfly out. I really do like this interpretation better than the normal "rug pulled from under your feet" interpretation. The Tower is never gentle, but you can see the good in it.

I do like the butterfly analogy though. I've been feeling a bit like that lately. Bits of me have been emerging. I've got cheekbones and collarbones again. Other parts of me are starting to show. The tenatious, courageous side that doesn't get seen often is out in full force. The athlete that has been buried away is now there for the showing. Most amazingly, for the first time in my life, I'm beginning to have confidence in my looks. I never thought I could say that. My body is starting to match my ankles (the skinniest bit of me). This is all good.

Maybe this tower is representative of me.

I just worry what else the Tower could impact.With all the earthquakes and other natural disasters going on at the moment, you have to wonder...

A group of people, meditation on the tarot card of the tower and the hebrew letter Peh can't effect world events. Can they?

My thoughts go out to Japan at this time. Christchurch was dreadful enough. This is a disaster of near apocalyptic proportions.
Project Pandora report Day 19
Losses to date on the plan - 3.1 kgs  Weight lost this year: 9.5kgs
Had my first "bad" day today since being on the program. I've been fervent with the calories until today. Thing is, since when is a blowout half a fresh pineapple, a chupa chup and a wrap with some hummus? Seriously, I'm not fretting. Planning a lot of exercise this weekend, I had a necessary rest day today from the exercise. It is okay. It's not like I've done what I've done in the past - McDonalds, a visit to the bread shop on the way down Victoria Street, a large block of chocolate.
It appears my eating habits are changing for the better.
Back on the horse tomorrow.
Eleven weeks Takeaway free.
In the scheme of things - this is not a disaster.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Me, Commute?

One of the things that goes on top of my new job wish list is location. As I live in an inner city location, I'm looking for a role that is close by. A role that with any luck I can walk to. I'm even scoffing at roles that may be based down St Kilda Road. Other there is a creepy subset of people who work down St Kilda Road (reminder to self - blog about subset theory one day), it's two trams away. Tin Can, String and Whistle was in a great location - three kilometres door-to-door on foot - though the tram dropped me a three minute walk from both home and work.

So here I am, pondering the one job that has come up recently that has taken my interest. A role where the Project Manager likes the look of my CV. A solid job that is paying the right money, that will be a challenge in the good sense, fits my skills almost to the letter, in a new sector which would be great and round me out a bit. That is a decent three month contract - which will get me out of the doldrums which the current Melbourne market is facing and get me working again - all of this is good.

The hitch.

It's in Hobart.

Hobart, Tasmania.

Hobart, butt of many a joke, many a wild tale and many a Jim Beam Drinking, flannel shirt wearing bogan.

If I was in America, it would be like being stationed in Nebraska or Minnesota - if in England, well, think of being sent to Rotherham, Norwich or Barry, Wales for three months.

Okay, Hobart isn't the end of the world. But it's Hobart. Not Melbourne - and it's certainly not walking distance from home.

Talking to the pimp (read recruitment consultant) I said that I might be interested in this. I look at my life. It's three months. Twelve to thirteen weeks. It's not like I have a family here, though I do have friends, a flat, a car, a mailbox and many solid associations. As it's three months, I'm not expected to relocate - commuting would be the way to go. Fly down Monday morning, come back Friday - or negotiate a work from home one day, being virtually available one day a week. We are yet to see what the conditions are.

My poor head is spinning - not that I have the job yet, I can see the value in the opportunity. I can also see the roadblockers as well.

So here we go - the good, the bad and the ugly of taking a three-month job on the Apple Isle.


Right money
Good fit of my skills
Interesting work
New sector
Get to use my training skills
The airmiles will pick up
Hobart is a gorgeous city
My favorite cousin lives there (And she is a she and it is not like that - I was asked what to Hobartians do - I glibbly replied that they shag their cousins - oops - I was then asked if I had cousins down there - to which I replied that I did but she wasn't my type...)
I might get to see a bit more of the country on the weekends
It gets me working in a real job again
By the time I get back to Melbourne the job market might not be so finnicky.
I like the weather in Tasmania - it's cold - I like that.
Good tax breaks on all the travel and accommodations (depending on what way the company goes)
Jansz bubbles
King Island Beef
Hahn Bitter
It's not at all rat racey
Will get lost of sleep as people are in bed by 10 pm (Like New Zealand)
Computers work faster as they have the NBN Down there
I'd get out of reading the next book on the book group list that I'm not particularly enamoured with.


What to do with the gym - there are no Fitness Firsts in Hobart! Will have to find a gym - I'm told they have them down there.
Need to find a place to stay - though possibly this will be company sourced.
Lots of time at airports
Would have to let dream group go for a few months
Would have to let masons go for a few months too which will ire the new Grand Poobah no end
Will miss the odd birthday celebration
Somebody else will have to run book group for a few months
Will miss my friends, but I'll should be back in Melbourne on weekends
Will need to find a gym
What about the 12WBT - will need to source accomodation where I can cook.
Do they have protein shakes in Tassie?
No Pinochet - or will have to see Pinochet on Saturdays, if he will see me.
No car in Hobart  - but will I need one?
I'm getting a house guest at the end of the week - where to place Maow Maow if I have to go before Blarney and Barney get back? (Mind you, there are a few friends I'm sure will have him - he's a joy)
And as Alice pointed out, finding work when I get back will be delayed until I get back, though at least the process can be started on the internet beforehand.

Looking at this short list, the cons appear to be greivances rather than real roadblocks.

It's going to be interesting if I get this role.

Certainly food for thought.

The last time I was there, I was at my cousin's son's wedding. It was held in community hall in Bagdad. Bagdad, Tasmania that is. A town which is near Jerusalem and Jericho, Tasmania. I didn't see one pair of tracky dacks or ugg boots at the reception.

It's not that bad, really. I have lots of friends who are from Tasmania. Barney's from Tasmania.

Funny, all my Tasmanian friends live in Melbourne.

Ah, one more con. If I get this role, will have to curb my penchant for telling glib Tasmanian jokes, referring to Melbourne as civilisation and making remarks about second heads.

Besides, I can talk. I'm South Australian. I'm just a Tasmanian who can swim....

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gertie the Grumpy Gobshite

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings end their gatherings with a short prayer. Whether you are praying to God, Allah, Yahweh, The Universe, Vishnu, Buddha, O-Ben Wan Kenobi or the fairies that live behind the potting shed, it has a message - a good message.

'Insert your Deity here '  grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

There are times when I am not Pandora - Queen of Denial. There are times when I am Gertie the Grumpy Gobshite. Just as I have a number of alter egos - Jessica Rabbit's frumpy accountant sister, Joyce, The Running Wombat, Word Nerd, Chicken Legs, Beer Club Bitch, the booky one on the corner - lots of fun monikers can be put to me, all of them apply at certain times.

Gertie the Grumpy Gobshite is one of the least favorite of my incarnations. Gertie winds me up. She's not fun to have around. She's just incorrigible, bad tempered, though never rude, and just generally a pain it the butt to have her about. You want to slap her. Hell, I want to slap her. When I feel an attack of Gertie the Grumpy Gobshite, I tend to go to ground - find other things to do, away from people, for fear of offending.

Today is one of those days. I was in full on Gertie mode.

And the day started so promisingly. I woke. I read for an hour. I read the book I was supposed to be reading for an hour (loving "Reading Lolita in Tehran", it's for book group and for a change it's not fiction - and as unsure of how the throng will like it, I'm loving it). I got up, I had a muesli bar and a cup of coffee. I managed to do my ironing and strip my bed - all before leaving for the gym to make my 9.30 pump class.

I noticed a slight twinge in my stomach - down near where I had pain last year. Hmm. Look at the calendar. Okay, can see what that's there, not going to worry about that. Maybe Pinochet making me dead lift 45 kilos yesterday could have something to do with that too - and I make note of the fact that for the last two days I've felt like I've been coming down with a cold - but the magic green horse pills and a few early nights have appeared to keep this at bay.

Leaving for the gym a few minutes late, I scout ran the half a kilometre down the road. Scout running is when you run to a stobey pole, then walk to the next and so on - oops, we don't have stobey poles here - telegraph poles, is that better? I'm forever being berated by Jay and Emm that I turn up to Pump on Sunday at the last minute - mind you, half the time they've set up for me. Got them well trained. But scout running would get me there with a few minutes to spare. It would be good.


Arrived at the gym to find about fifty people standing about outside, looking forlorn.
Muppet receptionist had forgotten their key. No way to get into the gym. The Sunday Pump regulars were pacing, eager to get started. This wouldn't have happened if Hot Gen Why Slacker Dude was on (Also know as RILF - Receptionist I'd Like to.... stop it Gertie!)  But Hot Gen Why Slacker Dude has gone to another club. Bugger.

Found Jay shouting into her iPhone. Seems she had a beef with her newsagent cancelling her Sunday papers. No sign of Emm - then again she was rather snotty when I saw her last. The class time came and went. The instructor continued to answer banal questions about what was going to happen in the class. More milling and finally one of the other receptionists turned up with a key.

Pump was only forty minutes long. No biceps, no triceps, no abs - thankfully Pinochet worked them the day before. Still felt rather put out. Was looking forward to a full pump class. Can't change what happened. Deal with it.

Went for a coffee with Jay before coming home to more cleaning, job hunting, reading and cooking. I was looking forward to a ten kilometre run with Kitt. That would get me out of my funk.

I got home. I received a text from a friend telling me about a section in the newspaper on Melbourne appartments. I snapped back an answer to thank them for the information, but one thing at a time. Get a job and get healthy now - I can't think about buying a place until I get the first one sorted anyway.

This touched a nerve. It's a really sensitive subject with me. I will buy a property when I'm ready. This will mean having a secure job and finally having got my head around the subject. Just writing this I'm in tears. A home has somebody else in it. I don't have that somebody. End of story. No further correspondence shall be entered into.

I went and had a cry for a bit, bringing myself out of the grumps knowing I was meeting Kitt at three for a run.

2 pm. Kitt texts. "Feeling like crap. Snot city here. Talk later in the week. Sorry."


Gertie breaks out in a swearing rant. This isn't directed at Kitt. She's allowed to get sick - she helps run the country, there's enough weight on her shoulders. However, unfair! Was looking forward to that run. Yes, I can go alone, but it's far more fun going with somebody, we egg each other on.

Decided to hit the treadmill at the gym instead.

Trekking back to the gym I was all ready. Do an hour of interval running. Yeah. All will be fine. Yeah. Knee is a little sore, but I'll be fine. Yeah.

Jump on the treadmill. Kerchink,kerchink, kerchink.... Great, not spending an hour on this.

Being a good gym member, went and reported the duff treadmill. The receptionist thanked me for the information and logged the errant machine in the maintenance book.

Jumped on another treadmill and dialled it up to ten kilometres an hour.


Being a good gym member, I went and reported the second dudd treadmill. I was again thanked for the information.

I tried a third treadmill. Thankfully no errant noises or dreadfully slow pace - but after five minutes all I could here was the bloke next to me huffing away, some strange woman trying to walk up a mountain (set the gradient to 15% and was hanging on for dear life - weirdo. A couple on the cross trainers were conversing in loud, melodic Hindi.  The grunty boys were grunting away. I could hear the grunty boys - oh no!

Where was the music?

I can't do treadmill running without annoying music to pace along to. And not music that goes on in my ears - I'm not fond of being on a treadmill with earphones in my ears - I'm that unco I'll trip over the cord - actually, I just hate having earphones over my ears, besides, my ears get sweaty and they fall out. I need my gym music - the stuff I only listen to at the gym - the All Saints and the Rhianna and Lady Ga Ga and the other crap that I hate so much that they pump out at seventy decibels to drown out the grunty boys and the huffing and swearing and the clanking of the dumbells. At least you normally have a steady beat to run to. Then I noticed, the tellies weren't on either. No David Attenborough lions to run away from either...

Sod this for a game of soldiers. I grabbed my bag, towel and water bottle, mentioned the lack of music to the recepionist, "They're looking into it, Pand. Hasn't been on all day."

Hmph. The pain in my side returned

And I returned home, stomping and tearful once again.

Once home, I had a good look at this bad mood. Why had Gertie come out? She normally doesn't hang around this long.

Okay, I don't have a job at the moment and it's starting to annoy me. It hasn't come as quickly as I thought it would, but this time off has given me so much more. The chance to lose weight, get fit, do some reading and writing, spend time with friends. It's the first time in my adult life I've had more than a month off. The job will come. I'm okay for quite a while longer financially, although the sooner I get working, the sooner I can look for a flat to call my own and replace my car.

I'm not alone, even if I feel like it some of the time. Today was a lonely day. I have them - but not often. You have to take the good with the bad. There are days when I have too many people around and I get huffy at that too.

I am safe and well. I did have he starts of a cold, which appears to have abated. I'm healthy. The pain in my knee is slowly going and feeling a hell of a lot stronger. The pain in my side will go away in a day or so. It's reminding me that I'm ovulating. It happens often. I know my body.

Really, all is as it should be. I am okay. Gertie's presence was a just a glitch. She comes out to remind me that things are really fine and as they should be. And that I have to take the good with the bad.

I just have to remember the serenity prayer. Keep saying it to myself. And have faith that I can make the changes I need to make and not sweat the small stuff.

And so to bed.

And if Gloria cancels on me tomorrow morning, she's dead!


P.s. Did a card reading when I got home. The outcome - the Hanged Man, The Magician and Temperance.  Hang back, surrender and let the universe take it's course, you're healing - and you can do anything if you believe it. At least the cards are on my side.

Project Pandora - Day 14 Report

Weight lost to date - 3 kilograms

I'm settling into the 1200 calorie diet really well. The recipes the 12wbt give you are fantastic. Also making sure I'm eating every three hours - the regular 100 calorie snacks keep things in check. Exercise wise the week hasn't been as intense as it could have been, but with all the emotional stuff going on in the background (Rose's passing and the aftermath, Blarney's boys in hospital, me feeling like walking poo) I've kept up the walking and the odd class - looking forward to getting back on top of the program. I never though I'd have the energy on this what seems like a small amount of food, but I really am fine.

One epic fail - went to the cinema and managed to snaffle the wrapper of my choc top. I'd left 250 calories for my choc top. I like my ice cream, this was my weekly treat, I'd factored it in.

Not. Did you know that the average pre-packaged cinema boysenberry choc top contains a MASSIVE 432 calories and nearly forty grams of fat!

I enjoyed it. But you live and learn.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Things Left Unsaid

Things have been improving over the last few days.

Flora called, Pierro will stay with Natty in Canberra and she will go the the funeral alone, meaning I don't need to go up there. Pressure off there. It's been an incredibly emotional few days regardless. Monday was spent at home, in a mild version of shock. I wish, at times, I wasn't an emotional sponge. At least I've got ways of coping with this now - coping better than ever before. Exercise and a great support network make all the difference.

So now, with the Canberra trip abandoned I can get back to the joys of job hunting.

Yesterday's interview was at a top-flight consulting firm. For the first time in this job hunting period, I felt half excited. I felt that I'd actually like to work for this company. Not something I've been feeling for a while.

Strangely, it was one of the better interviews I've attended in years. I had no idea what to expect, but I fitted in well with the interviewer who seemed to get what I was about , just as I got where they were coming from.

It was a bit of a revelation of an interview. It also had me looking at the answers I was providing. What do information do you give? What do you leave out? What do you bury at the base of a sandpit encrusted with cat poo where you know nobody is going to go.

It was an interesting experience.

First up, I didn't look like me. Walk down the street and I was near unrecognisable. As I've lost 9 kgs this year all ready, my standby suit that I've used for interviews is now on the big side. Big enough to be swamping me and it is now sitting on the pile to be taken to St Vinnies. So the black jacket and skirt, in the wardrobe for when I got skinny again was donned. Hair in a bun, kitten heels, bespoke bracelet, red leather handbag, make up.

This is the result.

I look like Jessica Rabbit's scary accountant sister. Flora said I looked like and undertaker when she saw the photo. What Flora wasn't seeing was a really pretty cobalt blue top under the suit jacket that takes away a bit of the ferocity. Still, as most people are used to me in fisherman's pants, jeans, t-shirts or dresses, it's a bit out of the norm. As for make up - my normal eyeliner and mascara has been upped - but thank goodness for mineral foundation - it feels like you have nothing on your face.

As a rule, in interviews, you go back through you last few jobs. Rich, the guy interviewing me, wanted the full story. Oh, my.

For once, scraping around the truth wasn't going to cut it. I had to be as honest as I could.

He also started back at high school. He wanted the unadulterated story. Oh hell. Here goes nothing.

Rich: So tell me about high school.
Pand: Not what you expected. One of the worst high schools in South Australia at the time. Outer metropolitan hardnuts and country kids mixed in a school that didn't really cater for academics.
Rich: And you were dux of the school.
Pand: No, but in the top five.
Rich: With an Arts bent at high school?
Pand: No. I matriculated in English, Maths, Chemistry, French and Music. The marks were all were all in six marks of each other .

Well, this is the truth. Willunga High was not the paragon of educational virtues. There were four others who's grades were better than mine. Of a class of a a hundred only a handful went on to university. I'm also the only one in the state with a B plus in Math, Chemistry, French and Music.

Rich: What did your parents do?
Pand: Mum was a nurse, Dad ran the rubbish dump, among other things.

Truth as well. What else are you supposed to say? Can't mess with that history. Not so much educated at the University of Hard Knocks, but I've gone through life with the odd challenge. It's made me resiliant, hopeful and rather cunning. Hell, I come from a town called Myponga! That's a handicap in itself.

Rich: And what did you go into university wanting to do?
Pand: I wanted to be a French teacher.

Again, the truth. Thing is, as soon as I got to university, I hated the way they taught French. I wasn't that enamoured with university. I really had no idea what I wanted to do other than I didn't want to get married and have kids early.

Rich: And you went to London in 1991.
Pand: After university. I fell ill in my third year and repeated that final year part time. Glandular Fever wrecked me.
Rich: How did you support yourself at university?
Pand: I worked in a department store during that time, attending lectures at lunch time.

Mostly the truth. I did work in a department store, but in the sub-basement warehouse area, putting tickets on merchandise. The world's most soul-destroying job. You don't get much lower than roles in a sub-basement - the only way is up.

Rich: And you spent eight years in London. Did you have some kind of right to abode?
Pand: Yes. Grandparent entry.

Blatant lie. But who is going to check? He doesn't need to know about my furtive entry to the UK via Ireland or my six years as an alien. I paid my taxes and didn't get caught. We'll leave that alone.

Rich: And why did you return to Australia.
Pand: My grandmother was turning 100 and my sister was having a baby.

Again, truth. I left out the bit that my father had died and I felt I could come back. Employers don't need to know that bit.

We went through my more recent employment history.

Rich: And what do you do best in a role. What is your best fit job title?
Pand: Switzerland or Geek Liaison?
Rich: Explain.
Pand: Switzerland is the place you go to for refuge before getting things done. Don't ask how or why, but stuff gets done in Switzerland - a nice neutral place to go to for solace and regrouping. And Geek Liaison, because that's what I do. I can talk to geeks. I can also talk to engineers, the post room guys, the cleaners, the General Manager - you name it, I can talk to people and tend to get stuff  happening. I'm from the country. I have the charm and gormlessness to be able to do that.

Well, this is true too. I'm about as gormless as they come.

Rich: And you want to be a writer. So you want to write the great Australian novel?
Pand: Nah, I'd rather be the next JK Rowling.
Rich: Why her?
Pand: I like her imagination.

For once in my life, whether it be to my detriment or not, I got to be mainly honest. When asked why I left a job in a software company I answered, "Abject boredom. I can't sit in front of a computer all day - does my head in." Rich got told about my desire to run a marathon next year and my need for work life balance.

But for the stuff that's sitting under the cat poo in the sandpit.

The tarot cards. Prospective employers can have a look at them when they get moved into my desk drawer three months into the contract.
The fact I'm into Kabbalah, Wicca and other spiritual stuff. None of their beeswax frankly.
My reflexology practice can stay hidden for the while too. I'm not sure employers would relish somebody who plays with feet on their books. It's just a bit too strange for corporate Australia.
And yeah, they don't need to know about the three Mills and Boon Manuscripts in my bottom drawer or the fact that I was once a member of Young Labor, many, many, many moons ago.

For the moment, I'm just the well dressed, articulate, intelligent woman looking for a new role, somewhere where there are a few challenges and a lot of variety.

Part of me thinks its the stuff that I leave out which is more interesting.

I'm being recommended for a second interview. We'll see how it goes.