Sunday, July 31, 2011

Aye, there's the Rub

I do confess to being a nerd. I am a nerd of the near highest order. When it comes to nerdliness, I'm up there with Sheldon from the Big Bang and some fo the characters in Dilbert.

Okay, I'm not into Star Trek, though I do a good line in Buffy (which I watch for the Spike character - like phwoar!). At a push, I can decipher Unix and the odd bit of machine code. I'm great with sort of fixing electrical things - mind you over the last few years I've had a lot of engineers around who I've been able to bat my eyelashes at and say things like, "Oh, you're so clever, I could never fix/do/sort that. How great are you! Here have a biscuit/ meal / beer," and things magically get done. I swear I could have put the blind up myself - whether it would have stayed up is another matter. I really can open my own beer bottles and jam jars, but why should I when there are engineers around to fix things. Having engineers around is like having a group of semi-competent teenage boys around - just with a few less hormones and gormlessness. Engineers are also like old pussycats. They often bring you things whether you want them or not ("Gee thanks, I always wanted a dead rodent placed at my feet...")

But back to being a nerd. I know I'm a nerd. I know how to define an Oxford comma. I growl at people for using split infinitives and misplaced apostrophes. I am a true word nerd - and I'm fine with that. But my outer nerd goes further.

I can still recite the first twenty elements of the periodic table, do the odd bit of triganometry, I know Pi to around six decimal places and the difference between astrophysics and quantum physics.

But all this pales into insignificance when my true nerdliest offering comes to the fore.

I am a Shakespeare Boffin.

Gasp, horror, shakes of incredulity.

Life would be incomplete without Shakespeare.

Of his 33 plays I've either seen on stage, on screen, taught, tutored or read 25 of the plays.

I saw Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V" eight times at the cinema.

And Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" and Ian McKellen's "Richard III" three times a piece.

When I was in England, I tried to get to a Shakespeare a month - which you could fairly easily - though in all my time in England, I never made it to the Globe Theatre or Stratford -Upon-Avon - must put that on the bucket list.

In Melbourne, I have a choice of the Bell Theatre Company who have been a bit hit-or-miss of late or the Melbourne Theatre Company - who do a Shakespeare a year - and for the last two years they have been of a world class calibre - mainly due to the presence of one Ewan Leslie - but I will get to him soon.

I reckon I've seen Hamlet twenty times over in the twenty years. There's was Mel Gibson's Hamlet in the early 90s, which wasn't too bad - it made Shakespeare accessible to a wide audience - never a bad thing. There's Branagh's marvellous four hour affair, which doesn't cut the play at all - I love it - it's incredible to see the whole thing done from end to end - and Branagh is a legend. I also love how they gave English actor, Ken Dodd the part of Yorrick - then gave the skull his remarkable teeth.

On the stage, one of the better Hamlets I've seen was Stephen Dinnane's utterly barking gloomy Dane which was on down Shaftesbury Avenue about fifteen years ago. Brendan Cowell did and adequate job a few years ago. This one, on Friday night, was very, very good - overly cut for my tastes and Ewan Leslie carried the show - though the cast was great and the set amazing.

Of the best Shakespeares I've seen, the RSC's Midsummer Night's Dream in a bit umbrella was wonderful back in the mid-nineties. There was another production of the same play done in six inches of water on the stage - and Puck was played by a French contortionist - baffling and brilliant all at once. Ian McKellen as Lear last year was fantastic - though I'm still scarred from seeing him wander around the stage in the buff. His movie of Richard III is superlative as well. Iain Glen as Henry V was great at the Barbican - especially after some really unfortunate prop malfunctions had him ad libbing Act V Scene I to hillarious effect. Bell Shakespeare did a very, very funny Midsummer Night's Dream a few years ago at the Athnaeum - set in WWI, the play within a play had the audience rolling in the aisle. Oh, and I can't forget Steven Berkoff's Titus Andronicus - all physical theatre and gore - stunning.

There have also been the misses - Roger Allam as Macbeth with some strange bearded witches was just wrong. And I remember a Bell production of Troilus and Cressida which was pretty woeful.

I still think there's plenty of merit to Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet - he got Mercutio just right! Even some of the adaptations - 10 Things I Hate About You - is one that's just lovely

However Ewan Leslie's portrayal of Richard III last year at the MTC - utter, utter brilliance. I really reckin this short arse, Snape haired, bow legged actor from Perth really is the next John Guilgud or Kenneth Branagh. A truly amazing Shakespearean actor. If you get a chance - go see him - though tickets are as easy to find as chicken milk.

What is it about Shakespeare that has me in paroxyms of joy? Many many things. The poetry, the humanity, the timelessness. You never quite know how a Shakespeare will be interpreted - what a director or an actor will do with the material.

There is a joy in the parsing, the thought and the absolute rationale that something nearly five hundred years old is still so pertinent.  And the fact that so much of what he - if it was in fact one person or Kit Marlowe or who ever - is still in modern language and diction.

And that in 33 plays there is only one stage direction - "Exit, Stage Left, Pursued by a Bear" (The Winter's Tale) Leaves much to the imagination!

Shakespeare is my never-guilty nerdy pleasure.

And if you really, really, really want to put a smile on my face. Find me man with a decently trained voice to read me parts of Henry V in bed.

Kenneth Branagh can park his boots under my bed any time he wants....

Nerd fantasy.

You wouldn't understand.

Blush, mutter, mutter, better go back in my cage before they call the nutty police.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

An Act of Devotion

I am of the firm opinion that having somebody make you a birthday cake with smarties on top is one of the most wonderful acts of devotion that you can bestow upon a person. I have told my friends this and they appear to not mind when birthday's come around that I make a cake - and I have to make the cake - none of this bought rubbish, and decorate it myself.

My other admission is that I'm crap at decorating cakes. I'm not a bad cook - I'd never make Masterchef, but I'm certainly not the world's worst cook either. I really love cooking - it's one of my greatest joys.

So when Glen Waverley turned 40 a few weeks ago, I promised him a cake. And I said I'd make him a cake with a Porsche on top. Why? Well, Glen Waverley loves Porsches. You can be wandering along the street and you will hear the loud hum of some heavy petrolled engine in the distance and his neck cranes, a loping smile comes on his lips and for the next 20 minutes you will extolled the virtues of the car, it's turning circle, how the door jambs click... I sit there and compose my shopping list while he does this. But it's his great love. Bless.

Glen Waverley also owns a Porsche - a yellow one which is in storage back in the Netherlands. In my humble opinion, he payed a lot of money for a second hand car that lives in a shed on the other side of the world - but it makes him happy, and that makes me happy.

So today is Glen Waverley's belated birthday party today. I made the cake. It didn't rise properly, but it will taste okay. I iced it this morning in my normal fashion. It's so not a birthday cake without smarties - well in this case, M&Ms on top.

Here is the result - complete with $12 of M&Ms.... And the writing icing.... it's awful to use - besides, I have the handwriting of a left-handed doctor at the best of times.

I gather I will be a spot of trouble once again.

And looking at it with fresh eyes, it sort of looks like a Datsun 180B - not a Porsche. Oh well, it's the thought that counts.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Little Bucket List

It occurs to me that I am a month off my birthday and I feel like I've done nothing with my life in the last year. I'm sitting here, almost 43 and wondering when things are going to change. I want things to change. I believe things haven't changed - but they have - and in so many ways.

Stupid thing is,when I shove it down on paper, it looks like Ilve done a lot - but the classic overacheiver in me thinks I've done nothing.

I mark it down:

I've travelled around the world.
I've run through some amazing places - the woods out the back of Boston being one of those places
I've gloried at some incredible art
I've seen some great films
I've found my spiritual home in Toledo, Spain
I've worked out that I could live in other places in the world - Boston, Massachussetts and London, England begin two of those places
I've had nearly four months off in which I've lost a lot of weight and gained a hell of a lot of self respect
I've got out of a dead end job which was destroying my soul
I've faced a couple of large demons and come out for the better the other end
I've learned the value of brilliant friends
I've overcome injury, surgery and illness
I've worked out how to bounce back pretty quickly
I've worked out how to let go of other people's dramas
I've realised that being a part of other people's dramas only takes away your power - valuable, valuable lesson
I've worked out how not to get involved in other people's dramas even when it may upset the person at hand.
I've worked out that being generous is great when you know that there is no cost to yourself
I've fallen very heavily out of love - and this is a very good thing
I've finally cleared my heart of a lot of excess baggage
I've worked out that sugar is bad for me and I shouldn't do it - but it's like a drug
I know now that ice cream has to be taken in moderation
I've worked out that preparation is often key too a good outcome
I've found confidence in my body after 40 years
I know now that walking to work is some of the best therapy around
I also know that having friends to coax you along the path to fitness makes exercise more fun and rewarding
I now know the value of being a grumpy cow - when required
I know that taking two nurofen after a long running race will make your legs feel better sooner
I know that training four to five days a week makes me feel good so there is no reason to stop
I have realised that trying to help people who wont help themselves is as productive as trying to milk a chicken .

I've finally, finally, realised that if I'm not nice to myself nobody else will be nice to me either

So maybe you do find the meaning of life at 42!

But there is a part of me that asks, "Now what?" What do you want now? Come on, what is it you really want? What do I want to acheive?

Well, I have to put it somewhere and in no apparent order.

I want to go a lovely restaurant and partake in a degustation menu - never done that before. Looks fun. Now to find the friends to do it with.
Maybe jump out of a plane - a tandem job. Was considering a tandem paraglide but have changed my mind in the last year or so.
I want to go to Thailand for a week or two again. Like Thailand. Thailand is great. $10 massages that make you weep. Brilliant.
I really would love to get a cat
But if I get a cat, I need a new place that will let me have a cat - and besides - where will the Maow Maow go when Blarney and Barney go away?
And if i get a new place - what am I looking for. Other than inner city, with a car park and a place for the cat to do it's business. No garden - hate gardening.
I need to get my finances in better shape. On the plus side, I have no debt and I have money in the bank - on the bad side, I don't have any assets - time to accumulate.
I want to run a full marathon next year - crazy yes - but I only have to do it once.
I really want to give a real relationship a try. Have no idea how or when this might happen, but it's my turn now. It's about time I got my own real family - though my own one in Adelaide is fine and my friends are my family, I would  love somebody to go home to at night, somebody who is kind and caring who I can take turns with to make the coffee in the morning.
I'd like to own my own home outright.
I want to take a change in career into something that makes my heart sing a bit more.
I want to make more money - lots more money - in an ethical way
I nnet to learn how to fully accept abundance
I want to replace my car with a new to me 2-3 year old five door, black Mazda 2 (must check with Geertt if he still wants Andrew)
I want to lose the last 10 kgs of excess weight I have on my frame. All in good time, but it's time to do this. I'm very much on the right track.
I want to stick to this hippy diet 90% of the time - it seems to be working well for me
I want to write a book - and make lots of money off it. Oh to be the next JK Rowling
I need to take Blarney and her bairns to Melbourne Zoo in the near future - I owe them a birthday present
Perhaps I could enrol to study Law in my spare time since the dream of being a Doctor is just a little too far out of reach - especially without a lottery win
I want to de-clutter my flat more
I would like to live overseas for a few months - every time I do this I love it - just putting it out there
Three locations - Macchu Pittchu, Wat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Santiago de Compostela - well a girl has to dream. Add Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal and Dharamsala to that list too.

Thing is - when I put this stuff out there, somehow things start to happen. I remember sitting at my 41st birthday with friends saying that I wanted to go to Spain, but I had no idea how the hell I ws going to get there. A few months later, I won a round the world ticket.

Nothing like putting stuff out there.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Philosophy, Disapointment and Flirting

Today was the annual Run Melbourne Run. I ran in the 10 kilometre event.

I'm an old hat at running races now. The morning has a routine. I get up, I have a cup of coffee and a protein shake, I get dressed, strapping my knee, plastering a number to my belly and attaching a timing tag to my shoe. I double knot my laces so that they don't come loose. In my bum bag there is my driver's licence, a credit card, twenty dollars in notes, a runner's gel - 100 calories of carbohydrate in a little packet, my spare, light weight house keys and my mobile phone. After a slap of sunscreen and donning a light weight running cap, I get on the road early. If the race in the city, I tend to walk there as it's only four kilometres away and it's a good warm up. At the event, I store any other layers in the baggage area - today it was my favorite Boston jacket and a jar of marmalade that I made yesterday which was brought in for Kay, who I was meeting later. Then, I got to the line and gather with the rest of the idiots to go for a "fun" run.

Among my running friends I'm known as the running fairy. I run with a light gait and a rather off-putting smile on my face. Not the smile of one trying to take a dump or a smile through the pain - it's a full on cheesy grin. I love to run - love it. I'm not great at it, but I love doing it. And I love stopping even more once the race is over.

I've only been running for two years - but I've done a lot of it over the years. When I started I was around 10 kgs heavier than I am now. I've got fitter and faster. I can talk and run for over an hour. Yes, I'm sodding annoying. I don't think I'm a natural runner, but I'm consistent. I'm also consistently getting better.

The other difference about today's run was I was not sure how I was going to go. A few months ago I was wanting to do this ten kilometre race in under sixty minutes. Some ongoing blood pressure issues have made me cut back on the training. Thankfully that's nearly sorted, but it's meant that I haven't trained to the capacity I wanted.

The race was run. After the second kilometre I was ready to clip a few people around the head - walkers - phah! By kilometre four, the back side of Anderson Street was hard. At around the seven kilometre mark I was annoyed - they'd stuffed up the signage and the kilometre markers were skewed. By the time I reached Jolimont I was over it - but I came on for a strong finish 65 minutes and about 40 seconds later - by my watch.

Bottom lip goes out, I get my stompy face on. I wanted to do this in the hour. Am I disappointed? A little. Am I philosphical? Yes.

Okay, the pros. As Danger Dude kept telling me - don't try and run a personal best on a crowded course. Very sound advice. You're tripping over Tom, Dick and Donna who seem to think that  a running course is a place to walk three in a row and chat. Pushers, dogs and walkers are the bane of the fun run.

Of the last six weeks, I've not been able to train to the intensity I wanted - but I did train - however gently. But I ran the course well. My cardiovascular fitness is wonderful. I can run and talk. I don't get breathless. I can keep going - I have great stamina.

Looking back, the only 10 kilometre race I've done to date was in December 2009. I ran the 10 km in 75 minutes. This time I did that in ten minutes less. It's a personal best.

I should be happy. I'm not really.

Oh, and my right knee has held up wonderfully - it feels good.

Okay - I'm just an over-acheiver. it's not enough for me to go jump. I have to jump high and shove chocolate sprinkles on top. Hmph.

I'm being philosophical about this run. I have the 14 km City to Surf in just under a month. Then there's the Adelaide City to Bay a month after that - another 12 kilometers. Then I'm down for the Melbourne half marathon in October. 21.1 kilometres of sheer determination.

And then I have to look at the other side of things.

I am turning 43 next month. I am in the best shape of my life. I can run 20 kilometres when I put my mind (and a training schedule) to it. I know about running tactics. I have a resting heart rate of 53 beats a minute. I have a body that does what it's told for the most part. In the last year I've overcome surgery and injury, lost 15 kilograms in weight and got my fitmess to a point where I'm verging on athlete status. Best of all - I like my body now. It's not perfect, but there are more good bits than bad bits now.

What the hell am I complaining about?

There will be other runs. Today's event will just spur me on to train more and well and get my legs and mind around the tasks at hand.

And I will do my 10 kilometres in the hour. Soon.

And it's back to Pump class tomorrow. Back to it - today was just a training run.

Ah tomorrow. Where I have to skulk into the office and face the shame that my beloved football team has once again bestowed on me.  The Crows coudn't beat the Bendigo Under 15's B grade at the moment - though they gave Essendon a run for their money on Friday night. For this, I owe the guy across the desk a coffee. For three quarters I thought it would be me having a skinny decaf cappucino deposited on my desk tomorrow.

Ah, the guy across the desk. Rather cute in a country footballer sort of way. Stupidly, stupidly smart. A bit of a dork. Often there with a quick remark and a sneaky smile. We share the odd chat and a packet of mints. A strange relationship - but I'm used to strange relationships with men at work.

Rule number two of work. Thou shalt not flirt.

Rule number three of work. Though should not get ahead of ones self.

I'm crap at flirting anyway. Just like my mother's old pussycat, I'm aware of how to catch things, but I don't have a bloody clue what to do with them when I've caught them.

This has caught me unawares in so many ways.

Better get running and training to shove these stirings to the furthest parts of my mind. Not worth it. Just keep on with the odd sneaky smile and a shared pack of Jila Mints. I've shared Jila Mints before. No biggie.

My friend Gloria was berating me at breakfast yesterday after telling her about this flirting.

"Do you know how good you're looking?"
"What do you mean? I wore this to work yesterday?. It's Friday casual. Nothing special."
"You wear that to work?" She looked me up and down.
"Yeah. Of course." Skinny jeans, brown leather boots, a stripy top, hair tousled. On Fridays I put on a bit more eyeliner and some red lipstick.
"Have you any idea how sexy you are? That poor boy doesn't stand a chance."

Part of me wishes this was the case.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Harnessing the Inner Hippy

"Hello. My name in Pandora and I am a sugar addict."
"Hello, Pandora."
"It's been eighteen hours since my last sugar hit."
There is a round of applause. The throng nod in aknowledgement, muttering support and encouragement.

I'm coming  to terms with my sugar addiction, made more painful and prominent after a trip to the naturopath yesterday.

A bit of history - I suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure. I've had this condition for years and it's something that I keep an eye on. It's a bit of a pain, but it's also not normally a problem. It's when it gets out of control it's really inconvenient, which it has been over the last few weeks. Getting symptomatic is a pain - normally I'm not like this, the hypertension has no effect on my daily life. However, being symptomatic, the hot flashes, the headaches, the lethargy, the palplitations - it's crap.

The last time I got symptomatic I went and saw the doctor. After a day attached to a sphygmomanometer having it go off every half hour and getting the diagnosis of mid-range hypertension, I was put on blood pressure medication - and there the horror stories start. The first lot my doctor tried me on made be feel comatose and it gave me a dry, hacking cough. The second lot of medication made me out on three kilograms in two weeks and my legs felt like somebody had run a couple of litres of water down my legs - it was dreadful. It stopped my life - I couldn't exercise, I couldn't think, I couldn't concentrate. She offered to try me on some other types of meds, but I promptly told her where to go. Nicely, of course.

On gaining her begrudging consent, I went off all medication and went to my naturopath, who brought the blood pressure down to acceptable levels in a few weeks with the use of herbs and some natural remedies.

We worked out that most of my hypertension triggers are stress, saturated fat, shock, salt and alcohol.

Eliminating as much salt and alcohol has been okay. There are lapses. It's the main reason I drink in strict moderation (along with the fact that too much grog starts depressive cycles). I try to manage my stress and suceed for the most part. Shock is a bit harder as there's no control over this - and my aunt's death a few weeks ago is one of the main reasons for this episode.

Calculating that the last time I got symptomatic, my uncle had died, things were crap at work, I was smoking and drinking too much... cleaning up my life, giving up smoking, curbing my alcohol intake to less than a glass a week, exercising more, losing weight. You get the gist. After a month, things were back to normal.

Two weeks ago I went back to the naturopath feeling like poo. The hot flushes were driving me up the wall - I was sleeping under one blanket in the middle of winter - just getting too hot at night. Other nasty things were happening too. After a salty, cheesy meal cooked by a friend, with a glass of wine, I was up with palpitations for most of the night. Stuff like that - it's horrible.

Two weeks back on the herbs - not much difference in the blood pressure but the symptoms have gone away. So it was back to the naturopath again. So now is time to go hardcore.

Part of me wants to berate my naturopath, Marta, for being a heartless hippy. Then again, I know what she says will help me. It also makes a modicum of sense what she says.

For the next month I have to follow the following regime:
  • No processed sugar
  • No red meat
  • No salt
  • Nothing processed - or if packaged, with as little sodium content as humanly possible
  • No eggs
  • No ham
  • No cheese
  • No alcohol
  • No artificial sweetners
  • No starchy foods - white rice and potatoes are out
  • No additives if it can be avoided.
Add to this, dairy in moderation, limited fruit, keep bread to a minimum... And beans are good. Lots of beans.

I told you my naturopath was a heartless hippy.
Actually, she isn't. Really, it appears I have a hypersensitive system that needs some TLC.

It's a recommendation to keep me off of the blood pressure meds for the long term. If I can get on top of the triggers it will be better for me. And in her defence, I can still eat fish and chicken, yogurt and some low fat milk is okay and I can have my daily cup of caffiene  - just one cup, but she's aware that I need a vice - and coffee is my vice.

But no ice cream! My one staple comfort vice has been taken away from me. I did manage to con one macaron off her a week - but generally the rule is to eliminate as much sugar, sodium and saturated fat for the next month.

I know I could take an easier route. Go to the normal route and go to the "proper" doctor, go on the meds and eat what I like. I can't do that to myself - not after the last round of meds. Besides, once you're on them, getting off them is next to impossible. I don't want to be on medication which the long term effects aren't really understood, with side effects that are revolting. Stuff it. This is the way I have to go.

On the good side, my weekly grocery basket is a lot cheaper. I went to the check out today with such goodies as quinoa, freekah, aduki beans and lentils. I can have a  tablespoon of honey a day - that's allowed. At the checkout I looked at my stash and thought that I wouldn't be out of place in a health food shop. I even bought a cauliflower. It's not my favorite vegetable - up there with zucchini as a pointless vegetable.

I still have no idea what I'm going to do with the cauliflower - there is no dripping cheese sauce to go in it - but I've made it my mystery vegetable for the week and we will see what happens.

Dinner tonight was chicken chilli con carne with quinoa - the spice mix which worked well was a blend of cumin, coriander, a spot of smoked paprika and black pepper, garlic, bay and oregano.... just no salt.

Lunch will be taken to work for the most part. I have a few dinners to go to in the next month where I'll have to either be the restaurant client from hell or just order a side salad and eat later.

It will work out. I'm adamant that it will work out. I'm doing everything right - bar the ice cream.

My biggest surprise has been how crabby I've been about having to give up ice cream. I feel deprived, upset and just plain shitty about this. I know I crave it. I know it's easily available. It's my drug of choice.

It also appears that it may be a drug that I've overdosed on and it's slowly wrecking my internal health.

Wish me luck - and be pleased you don't have to follow me into the bathroom.

So along with all the dietary changes, I have to come to terms with the fact I'm an addict - a sugar addict.

Let's hope the come down isn't too bad...

Thursday, July 7, 2011


If you want to push every button in my body, ask me to a black tie affair, tell me to bring a plus one and wear a mask. Oh, and to add insult to injury, make it an affair to which you're ordered. Thought not mandatory, it's been made clear that you're to at least show your face at this shindig, in a matter of speaking. How are you supposed to show your face when you're wearing a mask?

It is a masquerade party after all. My consultancy's annual black tie affair. These are the people who pay me. It's been made clear that you're expected to turn up.

Well, I've had every button pushed well and truly - but instead of putting in my excuses, crying off with the ebola virus or telling all and sundry I'm on a six p.m. flight to Adelaide, I put in an acceptance to the RSVP and with bated breath, I'm turning up to this affair tomorrow night, alone, but I'm going.

Jonella had a bit to do with my accepting the invitation. Jonella's been with the consultancy for a  few years. She's been telling me of how good these events are. I'm not so sure. It's a corporate do. It's a corporate do in a swanky hotel. It's a corporate event in a swanky hotel to which I have to drive to and at which I cannot drink alcohol. Phah! Adding to my discomfort, then only person I know on more than a hello in the lift basis is Jonella.

Oh well, I get to have a look around the ballroom at the Windsor Hotel, one of the loveliest old style hotel's in Melbourne - it's something I've wanted to do for a long time.

In the past, getting an invite to an affair with a "and partner" attached has left me in a flurry of tears and in a quandry. I've never had a plus one and these invites have made me feel "defective" in the past. The only event I can remember taking a plus one to was Lachlan's wedding many years ago - and I took this mate who I'm sure is now living in Barcelona under the name of Narelle. Hmmm. Thank goodness I've got over this one well and truly. I'm fine going alone.

Saying this, I was telling Pinochet about this event tonight as he held me captive on the leg press machine with 100 kgs bearing down on my glutes. I told him that I wasn't overly wrapped about going to this shindig - to which he said "Pick me! Pick me!" Hmm. I told him that it was a black tie. "I have a black tie! It goes well with my yellow suit." Hmm. Maybe next time, sweetie. And though I must admit to adoring my personal trainer, I'm not sure I want to take him to my consultancy's black tie affair. A friend's barbeque maybe, but not to this excuse for a drunken networking night with people I don't know.

I have the dress. I'll wear the black one that I wore to the 12 wbt party a few months ago. That's elegant enough without being too over the top. I have the shoes. I have the make up. All I needed to go to this was the mask.

And this too caused a bit of a dilemma. Masking up. Eww. The first instinct for me was to go to the Spellbox, my witch shit shop, where I get all of my tarot cards and other assorted "witchy" stuff that I use in my healing work. They have these fabulous leather masks that have always taken a fancy to. Leather ritual masks, not gimp masks, half-faced, slighty sprightly, slightly demonic, delicately detailed - used for working some rather interesting rituals. I spotted a really fetching blue one - but at $150 - there is no way I could afford it - my dress cost that ten years ago! Jonella also mentioned that such a mask would probably make a few waves. Probably a good thing it was out of my price range.

So I found one one on ebay - a fairly simple black one with a few sequins for good measure - elegant, simple and most importantly, cheap. Even with postage, it was the right price at less than ten percent of the Spellbox one. I bought this online a week ago. It was still to turn up at my post office box this afternoon.

So it was a quick trip to Bernard's Joke Shop at lunchtime for a contingency plan mask. Something to cover my face while I stand there wishing I could be downing champagne by the bucket load whilst trying to be pleasant and interesting to people I don't know. Saturday morning's boxing class will be enough of a deterent for the drinking - you can't box with a hangover. Besides, I'm seeing the naturopath at 2 pm the next day - she'll have my guts for garters if she hears I've been drinking. There were a few options but I settled on the one that was the most comfortable, with a comfortable material backing and a nose pad. It shouldn't make any waves.

What do you reckon?

Nothing controversial about my mask in the slightest.

I just like pusscats....

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Snippets from a Busy Week

Not having time to put a proper blog entry together I'm going to give you some snippets of what is going on at the moment. It might read a bit like meme, but it's all that I can write for the moment. Finding more than half an hour to sit and write at the moment is proving hard. Making matters worse, I'm writing all day at work. I find that when I'm stuck writing all day, it's the last thing I want to do when I get home.

But I can blurt out stuff between documents - so here goes.

1. Proudest acheivement of the week.

I went to Pump with Emm at the Collins Street franchise of the gym last night. This is my back-up gym, the one I go to when I have to go to the gym but have something on after. To walk a few doors down from work, throw on my gym clothes and get home for seven is a good thing. Last night, we queued up, got our weights and participated in a great class. A new instructor for me - he had the voice of a 1970's radio DJ - with great form. Not too annoying. Emm and I have a slight competetive streak. Emm has heavier squat and back weights to me (by 2 kgs) - I'm a bit stronger on the lunge and shoulder tracks. I noticed the gym was far cooler than my normal one - so breaking a sweat was getting hard. I also noticed the instructor looking over our way regularly. It was a great class. 400 calories burned an hour later. Emm and I got a high five off the instructor. "You guys ROCK! You pump some serious weights. There are a lot of blokes you put to shame out there." Emm and I blushed.'Yeah, we're hard core - and stupidly competetive." We grinned at each other. We are stupidly competetive - in a very friendly way. The recognition felt really good.

2. Nuff Nuff moment of the week

Coming out of the gym after pump class, Emm and I clammer on the tram to go home. I hunt around for my house keys. No house keys to be found. Went though my bags and all the pockets. No house keys. ARGH. Called the gym - that was an ordeal in itself - stupid-centralised-bloody-computerised-switchboards. After five minutes, talked to the gym receptionist. No, no keys had been handed in - and she couldn't look in the locker rooms as she was the only one on the desk - but she took my details. I had my suspicions that my keys were either on my desk or in the lock of my locker at work (joys of hot desking - I keep my locker key with my house keys so I don't forget it)

Next, make a call to Glen Waverley, who lives a few streets away and is possession of my spare keys. He and Merijn were about to sit down to dinner. I said I'd be there in 20 minutes. Felt like a right idiot, in my gym gear, hobbit shoes flapping, tail firmly between my legs. The only good thing was that Merijn was looking just as fetching in her dressing gown as she greeted me at the door - both of us fashion plates. I'm really thankful that my contingency plan worked out. Glen Waverley drove me home with my spares. Without them, I'd have had to have stayed on Emm's new couch for the night. It's nice to know that this support network is in place.

My real house keys were found in the lock of my locker this morning when I got to work. Where I suspected they would be.

Still feel like a right nuffer.

3. Result of the Week

After a few weeks of having my blood pressure through the roof it appears to be coming down a little. The symptoms are subsiding and I'm feeling a lot more normal. This is thanks to the naturopath - and a clean up of my diet which had strayed from the course a little - and enough fish oil to make me feel like a salmon fillet. Sugar and salt (read sodium) have to be kept to a true minimum, milk is being imbibed in strict moderation. Cheese is banned. Back on 1400 calories a day with a slight gentling of my exercise regime. It all appears to be working in my favour. It's still a bit high, but not scary high. The energy is returning to it's normal levels. I have to say thanks to my naturopath - the thought of going onto blood pressure pills is as enamouring as having my armpit hairs plucked from my body with a set of pliers. Thankfully, the natural remedies are working well. Long may it remain.

Oh, and addition to this - as of this week, I've been six month clean of junk food. By junk food I mean McDonalds, KFC and that awful greasy take away stuff. I've had none of it for six months. One McDonalds coffee doesn't count. Subway doesn't count either as I only have the healthy choices there. Quite proud of myself. I also know that I can never have this stuff again. It does me no favours at all.

4. Discovery of the Week

Going out to dinner with the girls from my online weight loss support group on Saturday night, it was an everybody brings a dish affair. It was a lovely, healthy, varied meal. For dessert, one of the girls brought along this liqueur. Called Moonshine Madness, its brewed up in the Gold Coast Hinterland. This stuff, something like a mix of heavenly ambrosia and the devil's own private brew, is the perfect foil for quality vanilla ice cream. I swear, I could happily have drank the bottle, if I wasn't driving, and I didn't have to share it with the 14 others at dinner. The nip I had left me wanting more, and more, and more. A devilish mix of fortified wine, coffee and chocolate. At something like 26 percent alcohol, the one nip I had did me well in its grasp. Oh, my, oh my - I keep going back to that memory. Thinking of ordering a case. Then I rememeber that the naturopath has sworn me off alcohol as well as ice cream... dammit.

5. Outing of the Week

Another "dammit" moment - I got outed. .

Leaving work the other night, big boss asks me what I'm up to from across the desk. "Gym and client", I reply. "Client?" he asks. "Aha. Client." I respond.  Oops. Should have left it at "gym".

I'm not sure if I should add that I have a small soft spot for big boss. He's a bit enigmatic. I'm not normally one for suits, but there's a boyish, hyper-intelligent charm to this one .A bit too private school for my normal tastes, but he's proving to be a nice, intelligent, sometimes funny person to be around, as big bosses go.

I explained that I was a professional tarot reader, among other things. This was said with an immense blush. 'Really, what other services do you provide?" he questioned. "Oh, this and that." was my response. "No, really, what else do you do?" he pressed on.

"Reflexology, reiki, reference point therapy, aromatherapy, massage and website copy." I responded quickly, still blushing - aware that my "hobby jobs" probably made me sound like an alien to this corporate, career banker.

"A woman of many talents, eh."
"A woman with too much time on her hands and a real dislike of being bored."
"And you fit this in after the gym." he shakes his head.
"Yeah. It's called my life."
"When do you relax?"

"Between midnight and seven when I sleep - and Sunday nights." This is a bit of an overstatement, but there are times when it's true.

I felt very exposed. And a little bemused. Why would this ultra-corporate be interested in me - a lowly word nerd?

6. Tragedy of the week

It was announced in the paper today that Reader's Feast bookstore - an icon of the inner city, a place of peace among the heathens, an intelligent, rational haven of truth, beauty and wisdom - will be closing later in the year. This is an absolute travesty. This book store is run with dignity and honour. It's been an intelligent haven for many seeking a place away from the brash commercialism of Borders of the world. Run by the enigmatic Mary Dalmau, it will be sorely missed.

Mary is an institution among the book sellers of the world. It was noted in the paper that Mary championed the works of a Spanish writer, Carlos Zafon Ruiz - he who wrote "Shadows of the Wind. " (do read it - it's fabulous. Sure enough, a few years late, in the novelist's next book, there is a person working in a bookshop called Dalmau. Mary runs her bookshop with an iron fist. Is she wasn't running a book shop she'd be a school librarian. She's somebody I greatly admire for her taste, her dignity and her persistance.

I will miss Reader's Feast even more, as this is the bookshop that employs me every year to do its stock take. It is also the bookstore that runs the festivals at which I volunteer. All good things must come to an end. I'm really bummed about this. I love it there.

7. Travesty of the week

Last weekend on our local tourism show, "Postcards", they featured my favourite macaron shop. Please note, it is 'macaron', a delight of almond meal, sugar and wonderful, delicate flavours and not "macaroon", that slab of dried pastry topped with jam and coconut that took a litre of milk to wash down which your nanna used to feed you. What used to be a twice weekly treat stop on the way to my post office box has become and ordeal. There's always a queue there now. I love La Belle Miette, but I don't like the queueing. I loved going in, having a chat with Cyril in French and ordering my Vanilla and Olive Oil macaron. Now the shop is filled with Japanese tourists and plebs who ask for a dozen "Macaroons". I want to scream at them "IT'S MAC-AR-ON! You dimwit - now piss off back to the suburbs."

Okay, it offends my delicate Myponga-bred sensibilities - how dare they let plebs in La Belle Miette. I have a feeling Caty and Cyril may just think the same way. (For those interested, check out their website ) Okay, I'm just getting old and grumpy. And I'm a snob. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea sempre culpa. You can hear the beating of my breast.

8. Purchase of the Week

I'm not one for impulse buys at the moment as I'm saving for a car and a flat and funds in case the work dries up. However, I'm trying to also make sensible choices when it comes to replacing things. Last weekend, on sale at my local shopping centre were quilts. I call a quilt a duvet. Most people in Australia call it a doona. Regardless of nomenclature, I bought a new one - almost half price - a nice, new, warm, pure wool stuffed thing that will go in a cover and keep me warm at night.

I'm a bedding snob normally. I love my bed. I love my high-thread-count sheets - but my duvet.... Well, it's a duvet. I always thought that this one would be retired when I finally got married and got to banish my current bed to the spare room and a new bed could be bought and enjoyed - with new bedding to match. Unfortunately, this has not happened yet, though we wait with baited breath.

So what, you say. Well, it's a bit of an end of an era. I've had my last duvet for nearly twenty years. The one I was sleeping under at the moment was bought down the Edgeware Road Markets in London in 1993. I remember buying this as it was the time I'd just split with my boyfriend Seb and was about to move into a share house the other side of Willesden Green. I bought my duvet for ten quid. Over the last nearly twenty years it's seen me though umpteen share houses, a number of very cold winters, quite a few dodgy paramours, the odd longer term boyfriend, a surgery or two, numerous bouts of bronchitis and flu and has played host to a few visiting cats and dogs who have come to sleep behind my knees over the years. It's always been used with a cover, aired out and stored during summer as it's just too heavy to use during a Melbourne heatwave. I've also worked out that in the nearly twenty years I've had it, it's never been washed.... like eww.

Part of me thinks ridding myself of this piece of bedding may lift some bad juju. Well, we live in hope.

9. Peaceful moment of the week

Was around at Blarney's for my normal Sunday afternoon visit. Chance is still not very well, though not unwell enough to be in hospital. On walking in the door, I collect the Maow Maow and shove him on my shoulder. He stays there for his normal twenty minutes or so. It's what we do. Then I find Chance in his greyhound run - an oversized play pen. Poor little bugger looks wrecked. Blarney tells me to give him a cuddle while she gets some stuff done.

Spending some time cuddling a sick baby - who was thankfully not too whingy - was lovely. He the size of a small bar fridge. He snuggled into my chest, gave me the odd gummy smile and waited patiently for the baby panadol to work. I read him a book or two. I passed his sippy cup full of water to him. I fed him some sandwich and berries, all from the warmth of my lap.

Despite the fact that poor old Chance was lurgy-filled and listless, he was a complete joy to cuddle. I have to make the most of these things - he'll be a teenager in to time - and you can't cuddle teenagers - they bite - everybody knows this.

10. Rediscovery of the week

Work has dealt me the most boring of jobs at the moment. I'm transferring and reformating documents. I have a fortnight of doing this - a thankless task that will make life better in the future. But I know that without music it will do my head in. I've got my iPod with me to help make the time go quicker - and I'm finding some gems. When I don't have my iPod, I beg some music off another member of the team - with various results. I wanted to tip one of the BA's iPods down the loo. My bosses iPhone had some great stuff on it. Danger Dood and I did a swap - he asked to borrow my catelogue of music - poor, misguided lamb. Appears my somewhat eclectic taste is not seen as bad here. I've converted another one to the Pixies's brilliance.

Today's rediscovery is the magic of Portishead. No, not the town in Somerset, the 90's band. Superb, edgy, experimental, sublime. Beth Gibbons' smooth lyrics with a bass and techno edge thrown in for good measure. Glory Box is still one of my favorite tunes ever. The whole album reminds me of another, far more edgy, far more innocent time. A time of jaded streets, of dodgy evenings in dimly lit bars, with a pint in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It reminds me of Cool Water for Men, a hand playing with a tendril of my hair and late nights home on the Jubilee Line. It is the music of illicit nights making love on the roof terrace looking over the chimney pots of North London.

Okay, you didn't need to know the last bit.

Needless to say, it's a special album from a very different time in my life.