Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Circular Support

Talus, calcaneus, cuneiform, navicular, medial cuboid, intermediate cuboid, lateral cuboid, five metatarsals, fourteen phalanges.

It is quarter to seven in the morning, I am sitting on a stationary bike in a cool, darkened room, lit only by an exit light and a couple of UV bulbs and surrounded by sweating, panting, grunting people. I am covered in sweat too, heart racing, panting every so often when exertion insists - my cardio vascular fitness is up the near athlete range so I sweat more than pant now even though my heart rate sits around 150 beats a minute.

My maroon Harvard t-shirt is grey under the UV lights, the white Harvard University log has gone red - somebody thought this one out - it's the colours in reverse. Wow. Amazing how something as simple as a reflecting colours can amuse you before a shower, coffee and breakfast while you're pedalling for your life, but going nowhere.

I am also singing the bones of the foot in my head over the doof doof music they play in spin - of course it's not the original artists. Fitness First wont allow that inconvenience. A cover of Pink's "Raise your Glass" has me up and out of the saddle, quads aflame. The bones of the foot song goes well with the beat.

I check my watch for the umpteenth time. 300 calories burned, 6.45, 150 beats a minute. Fifteen minutes to go.

The Spin Muppet is a young girl who doesn't have the voice for a microphone. She's a good spin teacher and very chipper for the 6.15 start, but her voice doesn't modulate, so you often don't get what she's staying - she sounds like an enthusiastic cocky, her words coming out at a monotone screech. It's easier to zone out and take your queues from what she is doing not what she is saying.

I'm a spin veteran. You stand up. You sit down. You go fast. You go a bit slower. You stand up again. You drink a bit of water and wipe your head a few times. You have a bit of a stretch. You go home. All done in 50 minutes including wiping the bike down with disinfectant.

Spin is the perfect pre-breakfast workout - mainly because you don't have too think much. Don't ask me to do Body Attack in the morning. The class is enough of a sponsored epileptic fit as it is - I'd be tripping over my own feet!

Talus, calcaneus, cuneiform, navicular, medial cuboid, intermediate cuboid, lateral cuboid, five metatarsals, fourteen phalanges, two sesamoids.

Can't forget the sesamoids. For two bones, roughly the size of their namesakes, the sesame seed, a remnant from when we lived in trees and didn't know about the wheel. They're a bit like the appendix - used when we ate like rabbits - the appendix with its ability to process fibre. Like the appendix, sesamoids, they can cause all sorts of trouble. Reindert had all sorts of difficulties with them a few years back. Most people don't give two hoots about the bones of the foot. As a reflexologist, I find it interesting that under the reflex for the heart are two small bones giving it support, the way the tendons link the big toe to the rest of the foot, it's like bones look like the heart valves, aortic and mitral, on either side of the pump. So many funny things happen on feet. You can see the shape of a baby in the foot when a woman is pregnant, a swelling in the base of the ankle. You feel things. You know things. Feet are vaguely prophetic at times.

"Perfect circles, raise up, bring round, flop over. Resist the need to pump down, but pull up. The upward pull supports your foot." Spin Muppet doesn't do much technique before seven in the morning. You have to be slightly hard core or slightly nuts to be in a spin class before seven am. She knows it. We all know it. If you strapped to a stationary bike before seven in the morning there is something either insane or regimented about you.

I prefer to think of myself as the latter.

Strange that they talk of support through the cycle of the wheel. And perfect circles provide perfect support. We talk about this in Masons sometimes. I had a bit of a dwell on this too as we went into the last mountain track of the session.

You'd think riding a bike would be just that - riding a bike - but no - there is technique to all of this. First up, you have to adjust your bike, making sure the seat isn't too high or too far back, the handlebars are in the right position. You have to gear up - have your towel and your water bottle nearby. Douglas Adams was right, "Any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

Or in this case, just make to a 6.15 Spin Class on a Tuesday morning. Does this make me a woman to be reckoned with - singing my bones of the foot song in my head as I pedal away the hour?

After the class, after the cool down and the bike wipe down I had a chat with Spin Muppet - who I've known for a few years now - she used to be on reception.

"Where have you gone?" she asked me.
"I'm still here. Still live around the corner."
"No, I mean every time I see you, there's less of you."

This is a nice way to start the morning. Even nicer, Spin Muppet did her last half marathon in 2.15 - I did mine in 2.21 - this makes me feel rather good, especially since Spin Muppet is probably nearly twenty years my junior and virtually lives on a spin bike. She's actually a love, even if she sounds like an aviary of budgies over the microphone.

Home, shower, coffee, protein shake (breakfast of busy champions) tram to work. Met up with Emm, who was running late for a meeting on the tram. We discussed Christmas. We've bought each other a ticket to Don Giovanni for Christmas this year - which I reckon is a pretty cool gift. We both expressed how we like being a part of experiences over being given a gift.

On coming into work, the obnoxious "Death by Phil Collins" music station had been changed to 'Death-by-bland-current- popular-crap" music station. Like, I rather like Robbie Williams and Pink. Play them over a tannoy and I want to rip their vocal cords out and feed them to the nearest rottweiler.

I'm learning not to fret as I walk in the door to this office environment. I just sit down at my computer and put my earplugs in immediately to dampen the horror.

They stay in for the best part of the day.

Desi was in her corner of the office dressing the place in tinsel.
"It's Christmas, Pand." she enthused.
"Don't be a humbugger."
"Desi, it is my prerogative not to like Christmas. Some of the things I prefer to Christmas include pap smears, funnel web spiders, hemorrhoids, screaming babies, tax audits and the novels of Leon Tolstoy."

She smiled.

"At least I'm not ripping your tinsel down." I told her.
"You'll let me enjoy myself?"
"Of course, as long as you allow me to avoid Christmas as much as I can. If you want to celebrate the birth of a Jewish Carpenter, who said some good things, but was a bit of a rebel - then so be it."
"We can do that."

Desi and I will try go for a run sometime next week.

As for me, I just have to think of the perfect circle and the perfect support. What goes up must come down. Circles are perfect in design as at any point you're exactly as far away from the centre - whatever that represents - be it God, perfection, heaven, bliss, as you are at any other time.

This is what is keeping me level at this time. And giving me a bit of hope that this daily purgatory I'm finding myself in is only a lap of the cycle.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with string
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites
When the bees stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simple remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel.... so bad.

The pall of the black dog has lifted and life appears a lot less gloomy. A weekend of reflection and strategising has meant that I'm back on track. Which I knew it would be. Being back exercising is also helping a lot as this is my escape, my pride and my health taken care of all at once. I'm going to start back running (though probably only long intervals) on the weekend.

Thanks to some very pointed help I've been lucky enough to get some reliable strategies to get me though the dark days.

The end of last week, things seemed dire. That seven a.m. phone call started the spiral last week. For those wondering, I contacted the git online the next day, said he was out of order, made me uncomfortable and I don't want to pursue any more conversation. Subsequently taken myself off the website - it doesn't feel right at the moment and there has to be better ways of making contact with people. I know there are a lot of people out there saying you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince - if the price is your self-worth and self-esteem then I think not. The experience told me that my self-worth, once nothing, is strong and healthy. I deserve to be treated with a lot more respect than that.

A couple of attrocious days at work piled on top of the internet dating glitch . By the end of last Friday I was ready to walk out of the place forever, feeling like I was a bit of dog dirt found under your shoe.

And I got sick of whinging - always a sign that things are amiss. I have a moan about things like most people. When I find myself whining constantly I know it's time to do something contstructive.

So what have we done?

Well, Monday morning I went and saw the office manager and asked that the radio be turned down. She said that somebody would only come and turn it up again. I retorted that this was on OH&S issue, didn't appreciate going home with a headache most nights, nor was wearing earplugs all day a feasible solution. The radio was turned down for a bit and I try my hardest not to focus on it - but there area number of people who've blocked off their speakers - I'm not the only one at least. And the earplugs block out most of the noise. Never again do I want to work in an office that has the music of a 1980's blue light disco.

I'm making sure I get some exercise in at least every second day. This is keeping the grumblies away too. Exercise means endorphins. Endorphins mean happy Pandora. The butt cheek is nearly there, grunting out an hour of weights with Pinochet makes me feel good. So that is sorted.

And using Maria Von Trapp's analogy of thinking about your favorite things - well yeah. That one works too. Think about and do your favorite things.


So, what am I thinking about when I'm not up to my ears in process maps and wanting to fire a 22-guage rifle bullet into the speaker above me? What are a few of my favorite things?

Here's a few of them that keep me on the straight and narrow.

Maow Moaw

Maow Maow belongs to Blarney and Barney. But Maow Moaw is one of my best mates. We've always had a bond - not one that normal cats have with strange humans. I'm round at Blarney and Barney's most weekends. The cat will normally greet me at the door, be put up on my shoulder - and he stays there for at least 20 minutes. I sit down, he comes and sits on me. He's coming to stay at Christmas for a fortnight - really pleased about this. Not so pleased about how he likes to wake me at five in the morning with a paw to the nose and that he likes to put his head on the pillow.

Christmas will be good for cat time. Looks like I'm on feeding duty for Leon, Archie and Betty - even better, Betty comes with a lovely large bathtub for my personal use.

Ice cream

Yes, ice cream is one of my favorite things, but I'm still doing this avoid ice cream for forty days thing. Actually, that's going really well. 35 days in, I've only slipped once and a bit in that time. Last Friday, beered up, in the doldrums and hungry, I stopped in at the local shop for a Magnum. Also, while out with Gloria, dessert came with a scoop of vanilla. I had a spoonful. Glorious it was. I'm not beating myself up about it - under the circumstances it's amazing I didn't buy a box of the buggers and wolf them down. Or find a tub of Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel ice cream.... and sit in front of vampire porn with the tub.

The worst of the cravings for the stuff has gone now - the experiment has worked. But I've made a decent, okay substitute. I'm freezing sugar-free cranberry juice in an ice block mould - like mum used to do when I was a kid. It's not ice cream, but it's good for the moment. I can pretend it's ice cream.


Another escapist technique, but also a favorite genre of mine - love film. Saw Moneyball the other night with Emm. I love baseball films, and this was a better than average one - probably going to be up for some Oscars - even if they ruined Philip Seymour Hoffman for me - he should never, ever, ever have a crew cut ever again.

Does Moneyball beat Bull Durham? Nearly. Better story in some ways. Though a stalwart member of Team George (you're either into George Clooney or Brad Pitt - I find Brad Pitt about as sexy as a labrador puppy - unless you count the Thelma and Louise performance)

Moneyball also doesn't have have this...

Oh my. 20 years on and it still has the same effect. Oh my. It's like sitting on a washing machine in its spin cycle.

I still wonder how a woman would write that speech.


Saturday is going to be a bit special. The Importance of Being Earnest - Geoffrey Rush as Lady Bracknell. Love Oscar Wilde.

Part of the reason I'd love to be back in London - the theatre is incredible.

I love the purity of theatre, the cut throat, pure adrenalin of an actor on stage - that you never know how something will be set, produced or interpreted (this goes double for Shakespeare), what the audience is going to be like... so many variables.

Heading off to Don Giovanni in a few weeks too - have only been to the Opera once before - it's my Christmas present to myself.

Planning an overseas holiday

Note to myself - renew my passport.

Some people play fantasy football. I do fantasy holidays. There's a few options, not that the cash is really available at this point in time. Gloria's planning a fortnight in India for her 60th - wish I could do that. There's always the Bali or Thailand option - maybe good for a getaway. I've got a real hankering to go to New York for a few weeks - and see Reindert and Corazon while I'm over there. And of course, the win the lottery trip - three months wandering around Spain - maybe do the Compostella de Santiago - learn Spanish the real way...

At the moment all that's on the books is a trip to Adelaide for my sister's 40th, Christmas in Ballan (if Malcolm's dad will have me in the house) and Glen Waverley said he'd take me down the Great Ocean Road again when his porsche gets here. Going to have to take my iPod and FM adapter plug - the porsche only has a tape deck. Not having him play the Discovery Channel song cranked up to eleven through Apollo Bay again.

I just need something to look forward to.

Time with friends

I do this anyway. Friends are my family. Friends are good.


I miss working in the city. I felt it even more today on going in this afternoon to get the mail, seeing people and shops and life, of which there is little where I'm working at the moment - unless you like easy-listening radio.

On collecting the mail I popped in on Karen at La Belle Miette - my macaron shop. The macarons from here are the best in Melbourne (and for those who doubt it  - this shit all over the ones in the Lindt Cafe) What's better, being a regular, and at the end of the day, Karen occasionally donates a broken one, which is great, as everybody knows that broken biscuits don't have calories due to leakage. Today the Champagne and Cassis and Salty Caramel one went down a treat.


Love sleep. Which is where I'm going now.

Only one more day before the weekend. This week has gone very quickly. Even with a sucky job, at least I'm busy enough to make the time go quickly.

Nothing worse than being unhappy at work. It will turn around.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


One of the first signs that I'm spiralling into depression is an overwhelming feeling of having no control. I want to run. I have no idea what to do with myself. I can't settle. I feel unloved, unwanted and alone. I become hypersensitive to noise and movement. I start having major sense of humour failures. Food and exercise regimes go out the window.

The sooner I catch it, the better.

I'm hoping that I've got this one in time. The longer it lasts, the longer it takes to get rid of.

Looking at the list above, this is what my week has looked like.

And I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm in one of my depressive cycles and now is the time to sort it.
Work is a contributing factor to all this. I've moved jobs, I'm learning a new role, one in which I feel somewhat unsupported - though I know I can do the work - I'm just without much guidance. The office is about two kilometres away from the last one just out of the city, where I'd made friends. My new team of three aren't particularly social, but this isn't saying they're not nice either - and there is nothing to do and nowhere to go at lunch, unless you take your sandwiches to the park. The local coffee shop makes coffee that tastes like mud - though thankfully the coffee machine in the kitchen provides perfectly drinkable espresso.

Most disturbing is the radio that plays constantly throughout the day. Our pod is directly under the tannoy. Set to MIX FM and GOLD FM, it reminds me constantly of the music they played at the Blue Light Discos of the early eighties. Here are some of the gems from yesterday:

Call Me - Blondie
Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
The Wall - Pink Floyd
Who can it be now? - Men at Work
The Boys are Back on Town - Thin Lizzy
You Can't Hurry Love - Phil Collins
Dream Police - Cheap Trick
Maneater - Hall and Oates
American Pie - Don McLean
What You Need - INX
Your Song - Elton John
Young Turks - Rod Stewart
True - Spandau Ballet
Staying Alive - The Bee Gees
Set on you - George Harrison
Two Out of Three Aint Bad - Meatloaf
We Gotta Get Out of This Place - The Angels
Hot Stuff - Donna Summer
Simple the Best - Tina Turner
Crackling Rosie - Neil Diamond
Follow You Follow Me - Phil Collins
Can You Feel It - Michael Jackson
Hey Little Girl - Icehouse
Bow River - Cold Chisel
Heaven Must Be There - Eurogliders
I wanna hold your Hand - the Beatles
Tusk - Fleetwood Mac

I'm not sure what's more disturbing - the fact that I've listed these or that I know most of the words to these songs and the artists' names. Some of these artists I rather like - but I've heard all of these songs ten times over in the last fortnight. And yes, fine for a long drive in the country - but not all day, every day in a working environment.

This particular office environment has redefined purgatory for me.

Wearing earplugs is only an option for part of the day - you have to take them out when people talk to you. Shoving your iPod on with my music works for while, but having things shoved in your ears all day isn't a proper answer to all this. I really think that it's unfair to have to do this on a daily basis.

So my hackles have been rising for the last few days, my energy levels slumping, not helped by the injury (which is healing) meaning exercise has been scarce.

What gets me most is the feeling of isolation. I feel alone at work. I live alone. We have the 'C' thing coming up - which I am yet to have my Christmas freak out - maybe this is part of all this too. Though not a Christian, there is all the rigmarole around this time of year. It's overly busy, you eat and drink too much. In my case I try and focus on the fact that I'm alone and it's the time of year that I feel most alone. The "Oh, what are you and your partner doing?" questions don't sting as much as they did - but it's still not pleasant.

Stupid thing is, I think I have this year planned right. There's only one or two things on. Christmas day will be spent with friends and family (from the part of the family that I like) - it's not a drama. The Christmas parties I do have to go to can be either skipped out on early (the bank one - sod that for a game of soldiers) or really enjoyed (the consultancy one is an overnight affair - take thongs and sit by the pool). Half my shopping is already out the way.

Freaking depression makes me look at the not so good side of things, rather than the stuff I'm looking forward to at this time, like time with friends and a week off. I've got manicures, pedicures, a possible tree walk, a massage or two all planned and paid for - it's great. I'll have my favorite cat staying with me too - something I know I'll love. Christmas will be fine. Just in the state I'm in at the moment you'd think that I was about to join a leper colony.

The incident last Friday with the git from internet dating didn't help matters, if anything, it was a contributing factor to the spiral starting. Once again, dwelling on the twats I seem to attract online hasn't helped matters. Last night I took the decisive action of taking myself off the website. Anybody I attract in this frame of mind isn't going to be good for me. Pressing the delete button felt like a huge weight off my shoulders.

Okay, so now what. What am I going to do about all this? Seeing I'm not clinically depressed and not on medication - and refuse to take that stuff anyway, the plan is in place.

Exercise - now the bum is mending I'm back in the gym grunting out the grumblies. Just back from a session with Pinochet - sweaty hugs aside, bench pressing 30 kilos is good for the morale. He's onto my moods - and for a lunkhead, ketone freak - he gives sound advice. Five times a week - it's what keeps me in check. I've got it planned and it will be fine.

Watch my diet - out with the sugar, in with the fresh natural stuff. Done. At least I'm not out much this week,  that will help.

Get out of the office for lunch - so far I've got three covered next week - Alice, Brenda and Jonella are meeting me. Done. Get's me out of that awful environment, if only for an hour.

No alcohol. Okay, this is a no brainer as it contributes to depression, though in saying this, rocking up to beer club last night for a couple of quiet ones was the best thing I could have done for myself. Just being around fun, intelligent, non-banking company who seem to like it when I turn up there did wonders for the mood. Greeted at the door by an old friend, I got a smile, a hug, a comment that my new glasses look good and was told to sit down while a bottle of Polish beer was arranged for me.

Maybe I should start looking for work back in Telecommunications - it appears to keep me saner than banking - the people, though just as mad, are a bit more down to earth.

And lastly, be good to myself. Accept what is, is. There nowhere I should be but here. There's no fairy godmother who can rustle up a loving husband, an interesting job sans GOLD 104.5 FM and the dullards who work there and a life free of stresses and anxiety.

It will be okay. It's going to be okay. I'm onto it. Some of my friends are aware of what's going on and they're being supportive.

Realising what is going on is the first step to fixing it.

Being good to myself and allowing myself to heal is the second.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Short List

It comes around every November / December. One of the hardest decisions of the year. Every year, the agony and the ecstasy if a decision that will play on me for the rest of the year.

What the hell am I going to put up for book group?

I'm a member of a book group. All good writers should be a readers - and as a part of my reading, I go to book group once a month - I have done for a few years now. Some of my best friends are a members of this group. Merijn, Blarney, Georgie, Alice and Jonella are all a part, or have been part of the group. The others in the group are lovely too - and for the most part, we all get on.

This is not to say that all of our reading tastes are the same. Some of us have very different reading habits. A lot of members joined the group to get away from reading what they were used to - most of whom read either crime or vampire novels. Then there are the more literary readers, those who like a challenge, books that make you feel and think, books that have joyful subtleties and fantastic turns of phrase. I like to count myself as one of this group. I stopped reading predominantly chick lit nearly ten years ago, preferring material with a bit more guts to it - then again, I still love Marian Keyes, 'Rachel's Holiday', and Jane Green's 'Straight Talking'. The latter was sort of my life in London down to the getting the Sunday Guardian and The News of The World to read in bed on Sunday...

So here we are at the start of November, and we've come back from our last booked up book group for the year. This month's tome, Paolo Coelho's "By the River Peidra I Sat and I Wept" had two things going for it as far was I'm concerned. It was short and it had big writing. It's not my cup of tea - if I want to read allegoric self-help stuff I'll do it on my own time. It only just made it into this year's list, along with that cat book as it is now referred to. The rest of the years books were fine and enjoyable.

I rather enjoyed tonight's book group. I've been on a bit of a high today since I managed to source a ticket to see Geoffrey Rush as Lady Bracknell in the "Importance of Being Earnest" next weekend. I made a quip that I'd probably have to sell, donate or suck something to get a ticket - but as I've just managed to sell my old iPhone on ebay for a song, the ticket seemed justified. I also quipped at the time that no fellatio was required to get the ticket.
"What's fellatio?" asked one of the book group members. There was a muffled spit take or two around the table.
"It's Italian for standing in a queue when you know you have better things to do." I told her.
"That's a bit of a wanky work. Why not just say stand in a queue?" she asked.
"Well, I spose it's a bit of a mouthful." was my retort. "Go home and ask your partner. He'll know what it is."

Well, I couldn't blow her off, could I?

Back to books.

You're not going to like everything that is put up - and as we have a democratic way of choosing books, you're going to get something you like at some stage. Still wishing Georgie could have voted last year  - we tried, but circumstances meant she was waylaid in America stressed out of her brain. We would have had a few different outcomes I reckon. The cat book woudn't have made the top eleven for one...

Regardless, in a few weeks, our book group will be choosing books for next year. Everybody is to bring two books for consideration - and only two.

These books should be of the following criteria:

  • Fiction - no non-fiction, autobiography, biography or memoir will be considered - though I like a good non-fiction book, not for book group - they've proved hard to talk about. Also there is a very noisy faction in the group - the long-termers, who are completely anti it - and nobody turns up for non-fiction anyway.
  • Of no more than 500 pages - but can be negotiated - better if it isn't, but we're not going to scoff at something that's say 525 pages. People have other stuff to read in the month.
  • Of a literary or very good quality popular fiction standard of writing - so that cat book really shouldn't have made it in the list.
  • Should be readily available in bookstores (what's left of them), libraries or online. Nothing worse than a book you can't get hold of
Oh - if it is your book that is chosen, for the given month, you're in charge of the questions and run the conversation for the night.

At the book voting session, everybody is handed a bag of 25 lollies. You vote with lollies - you're not allowed to vote for your own books. You put lollies on the books you wish to read for the year - what ever your preferences are.

For a bit of guidance, group members have been recommended they check the Booker, Pulitzer, Age Book of the Year, Orange Prize long lists, the orange covered Penguins that are out, classics you might not have read at school (I must get around too Wuthering Heights one day in full -  its on the pile with 'The Hobbit', 'The Great Gatsby' and 'Catch-22').

Okay, other than that cat book, some of the stinkers we've read have included 'Pride, Prejudice and Zombies', that cat book, Anna Karenina (nearly brained the person who put Tolstoy on the list, especially when they didn't read it - you could bottle Russian Literature as a euthanasing agent), The Tenant of Wildfell Hall  by Anne Bronte also got my ire. I remember being as sick as a dog the night of that meeting, but I wanted to slam that piece of Methodist Manifesto and burn it. And of course and that cat book which I wouldn't line a cocky cage with. The rest have pretty much met the standard.

So here I am thinking, what am I going to put up for next year. Only one of my books made it into the reading pile this year. I put up Murakami's "Kafka on the Shore", but it didn't make the list. I also dared to put a non-fiction book on "Reading Lolita in Tehran", which got championed and made the list. A fascinating read, but as it was non-fiction, half the group didn't show up.

We've got a few authors we like to avoid. I've been told that putting up Rushdie again won't be well received and will probably sit there with no lollies in the cup if it was put up. I love the novels of Salman Rushdie. We read "The Moor's Last Sigh" a few years ago and it was almost universally disliked. Ah well. Alice used to have a pathological hatred of Ian McEwan saying he understood England as well as she understood the workings of the bogan mind. Me - I'd have preferred not to have read Coehlo. It all comes down to taste. Alice was particularly fussy about what she read in book group - and that is fair enough - but she's not in the group any more to take on other pursuits. I've had a few members of the group say the books are a bit challenging - I point back that book group isn't about reading muck - when they joined they were told that the group has more of a literary bent - deal with it or leave. I'm being a bit more militant about this after that cat book got on the list.

So, what do I dare put up this year. What am I going to champion? I'm already seen as a bit of an egghead when it comes to books and reading. Merijn and I know that we will normally not like each other's choices - she loves Russian Literature - I was 50 pages into Anna Karenina hoping she's throw herself under the train there and then - I loathe it. I love the modern novel - she doesn't - though we sort of met in the middle with Rushdie.

So I'm thinking, and re-thinking - what am I going to champion at our meeting next month.

Here is my short list of considerations - I have to choose two:

Atonement - Ian McEwan

Stellar, stellar book - and not just because of the movie which I adore (even if Keira Knightly is too thin and she is impossibly gorgeous in that green dress). This is probably the best of McEwan - Saturday was okay, I really liked Amsterdam and Enduring Love - Solar was a load of bollox, but Atonement - ah - brilliant. So subtle. He gets the period just right - you want to clobber Briony from the second page, only to get a better picture of her after the events - wondering if she will ever atone for her actions as a child - and the ending is different to the movie too. Just stunning.

Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

Another one of my favorite authors, Faulks is the master of minutiae. A meticulous researcher, Birdsong is possibly the most beautiful novel ever written about WW1 trench warfare. Gut wrenching, gorgeous, sumptuous, sexual - it looks at the hell of war, its consequences and its triumphs. I adore this book - I'm just not sure anybody else will like it.

American Psycho - Brett Easton Ellis

He, he, he. I so want to put this up, but I see a few members of the group walking out in utter disgust. This book is rated R and can't be sold to minors in Australia - it comes wrapped in plastic when sold retail. I read this for my smut course that I did a few years ago (Went back to university to do third year English - the course name was Art, Pornography, Blasphemy and Propaganda) This was on the list - and it was my favorite book of the course. Loved the parody. Love Ellis's easy charm mixed with hyper-violence. Not something to read late at night or when you're alone on the tram with somebody who's a bit loopy. There are parts of it that make you want to throw up. It's cool. Can't see the naysayers liking it, however.

Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides

One of my top three books ever. Pulitzer Prize Winning - an epic book about a person called Cal with a slightly bizarre family arrangement. Looks at Cal's family from his grandparents down to Cal's own life. Rather confronting in parts, brilliantly set in Greece and America with some fantastic characters along the way - heaps to talk about, heaps to think about - and just a magic tale. Like Captain Corelli's Mandolin, you can read and re-read and only get more out of it. Though technically we did it for book group five years ago, I think it's only Georgie and I who are left from the group, so I might chance it as I'm pretty sure Georgie didn't get around to it at the time.

The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Spanish Author in translation - good popular fiction with a Gothic twist, set in Barcelona. And who says I only choose literature? A great yarn, well set with a great, Poe-ish storyline. Something a bit lighter for consideration. I love Spain, I love Barcelona - and this book takes me back there. And it's about books too - which is always good.

We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver

Other than having an ex called Kevin, I've heard only good things about this book - however after tonight's discussion about how people want to read things that aren't grim, I'm no so sure reading about murdering sociopathic teenager would go down.

Footsucker - Geoff Nicholson

There are two things that might put people off this one - I don't know how easy this champion novel would be to find - it may be out of print by now. It's also about a foot fetishist. As a reflexologist, I sorta get it. Not sure anybody else will appreciate the subtleties - maybe Jonella. It's a cool book. But you don't know whether to be turned on or outraged. Which is half the fun of it.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby

Unfortunately I can't put this up as autobiography is banned. But other than it's really short - as the author blinked the text to an assistant, it is a miraculous work of a person overcoming the most horrific of circumstances. A stunning book of great beauty and pathos. But autobiography. Bummer.

I have some decisions to make.

And probably a bit of explaining to do...


Days without ice cream - 23

Love’s Labours Lost

Old man, deathbed, cried.
Of fate’s cruel hand, joy denied.
Large hands, small dick. Died.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bums and Boundaries


A very large, very imposing full moon in Taurus hangs in the sky.

If the ether was going to crack, today was the day. Of course, it did.

6.55 this morning all was well. Contemplating getting up and going for a run, even though my right side gluteus medius had woken me up in the night, throbbing. Your bum shouldn't throb. Bums are for sitting on and keeping you upright when you walk. They shouldn't wake you up aching in the middle of the night.

7.20 a.m. I was under my duvet (doona) a howling, hyperventilating, sobbing, naked mess.

7.30, I was dressed in my running gear, loaded back pack in hand ready to leave for work where I was meeting Desi for a run, tears dried, breathing regulated.

8.15 a.m I was limping around Fitzroy Gardens at a half jog/walk. Not good. My bum is now hurts when I walk. I'm also smelling like footballer and sitting on a bag of frozen peas looking at my options to all sorts of things.

Lunch with Glen Waverley helped get through the day. A lot of good came out of crying on the shoulder of an engineer. Engineers will normally pat your hand if you cry around them (if they haven't run a mile in the other direction) The say, "there, there, it's going to be fine" before they try and fix the problem. Sometimes that's what you need. I needed that today.

Glen Waverley's nice and gentle as engineers go. He knows he can't fix things but he can soothe over a few of the frazzled nerves. He's quite good at that. And he laughed at my glute injury. But this is what men do when you mention bums and farts and things below the belt - and this is okay too.

So what is going on?

The injury first. About two weeks ago I went running with Trin and Desi - I went out too hard and fast and my right glute ached. It was fine by the following day. Last weekend I went and did pump and the 1000 Steps. The glute was a little twangy but nothing too bad. Saw Pinochet Monday, did Spin on Wednesday. No dramas. Last night I went to run for the consultancy in the BRW Corporate Relay.

Something in me was saying I was setting myself up for failure. Having the word "confidence" branded on my arse, there is a bit of me that says I'm setting myself up for a fall.

My team was well matched team - we all run 5 kms in about 30 minutes - no biggie. I was the second runner. Getting the timing tag from my team mate I started on my way. A kilometre in and the twang had come back. 1500 metres in and things were getting worse. I dropped my pace down to minute walk, two minute run intervals. Half way round and the ache abated a little, only to come back at 3500 metres, then it dropped off again. I reckon I got round in about 32 minutes - no shame in that at all - especially on a gammy leg. After chatting with a few of the folk from the consultancy, I made my way home - rump aching slightly, otherwise fine.

This morning, my right butt cheek felt like concrete, nurofen isn't touching the ache and I'm limping. I'm here sitting on my frozen peas. Great.

I'm checking in with my massuese tomorrow, but I think I'm going to be banished to sitting on this bag of frozen peas for a few days. Joy. I can't run on this now - it hurts to walk. I'm supposed to be running in the inaugural 14 kilometre City to Sea on Sunday. I don't see it happening at the moment. I don't want things to get worse. I like running too much - I think this is going to have to be nurtured - Kilometres in the pool, not on the road for a bit. Stick to weights and the bike. I'll see what my massage therapist says.

There, that's the easy one covered.

So what caused me to end up a sobbing mess this morning? An unexpected phone call.

I've done something big and brave and possibly slightly stupid. I've put myself back on an internet dating website. This has been done partly against my better judgement and partly in an attempt to restore my faith in humanity and the world in general. And yes, I know that my last sentence is contradictory. In a nutshell, it's me saying to the universe, "Okay, I'm ready for a relationship." The fact that the last time I was in anything that remotely like a relationship was twenty years ago in London is beside the point. The fact that all of this freaks a part of me out, well that is beside the point too.

Also, I'm willing to discount my history with internet dating and start on a fresh page.

This is quite a big thing for me. Huge. It's like disregarding Africa in an altas.

After meeting now let me see... hmmm, here's some of my internet dating history. Mr "I keep my nail clippings in a jar", Mr "Oh, you know, can you put on another 20 kgs to keep me happy (I've since lost 20 just to make sure he never comes back),", Mr "I have sooooo many issues, mainly to do with my Mother", he who had one leg and sort of forgot to tell me before I met him - not that it was an issue, but it would have been nice to know about before I met him, Mr 'I don't do intercourse - it's not for me' (Like, WTF... after six dates... and yes, I'm that shallow) oh, and the bloke who met me at the museum and his second words to me were," Oh, you're one of those brainy chicks, aren't you." Like that was going to go somewhere. You can take the boy out of Coburg... Oh, and Draenog - Welsh for hedgehog - egg bald - again nothing wrong with that. My friend, Alice, who was vetting my respondants at the time had him pegged as a probably on the Aspergers spectrum instantly. I should have listened to her.

And this has left me second guessing everything. If this is what I attract, why the fuck bother.

I've also had some really pleasant evenings out over the years as well - met some interesting people who you cross paths with for dinner and that's it. Nothing more happens, and that is cool. Evenings of good conversation and that's where it ends. Fine.

So, with some trepidation, I put myself online not expecting anything and not going chasing either. So after ten days, this fellow gets in contact. We chat a bit online - a bit - my time is limited. I feel okay about giving him my mobile number. Numbers can be blocked. I was okay about this. Fine. Chat some time over the weekend.

He calls at 7 a.m.

A few small facts about me. I hate talking on the telphone. There are a few people I can talk to on the phone. Most of them are overseas or interstate. I'm particularly dreadful on the phone with people I don't know. I'm happier meeting somebody blind for a coffee in a public place. I prefer to look at somebody when I talk to them - I pick more up that way - as aurally, I take everything at face value and it's normally to my detriment. When I know people, I don't have to judge what they are really meaning. New people in the phone just don't work with me.

Secondly. Until I've had a shower and a cup of coffee in the morning, I'm really not nice to be around. I can't function without getting wet and a triple ristretto with some steamed milk. Constructing sentences is a chore. I need to ease into the morning.

Okay, and before you say it - yeah, probably a mistake picking up the phone at 7 a.m. This I realise. My family call around this time - but being family, they understand that I'm going to be grumpy. I call them before eight - but I know they're going to be up, and being family, we tend to grunt at each other anyway.

And then the killer - his first question, "Why is a gorgeous and intelligent woman like yourself single?"

And here is the rub. Caffeineless, night grot ridden, naked, groggy - how the hell do you answer this?

And I don't have the sense to say something like, 'Can you ring me back at a reasonable hour, you halfwit.'

But how do you answer a question like this?

I haven't met the right person? I've been out of a relationship for a year? I move around a lot with work? Up until three years ago I though all men were stupid, abusing, raping arseholes and I've been encased in an extra thirty kilos of blubber to try keep people away. I dunno - just hasn't happened for me.

The hackles rose.

Then a half accusatory tone - how dare I say I'm bad on the phone. My voice says that I'm articulate, intelligent and sexy.

What bullshit!

It's 7.05! I sound husky as Mrs Krups is making my coffee. I sound husky until after the coffee has been drunk and the shower steam takes the rasp out  of my voice.

After about five minutes of trying to get out something that consisted of "Look, it's not a good time, I need to get out the door, I don't the fuck know what to think about anything, now go away and let me go for a run." I put the phone down, ran into my bedroom, jumped under the covers and started to howl.

Something inside felt violated - not that he said anything bad or nasty or the like. Something broke inside me.

More to the point, my boundaries had been violated, whether he meant to do this or not - these boundaries I've spent so much time cultivating got smashed in a five minute phone call.

I gathered myself quickly and got on with things, not dwelling too much on my reaction to all of this. Yes, I did ponder why is it I don't meet nice men to fall for who are like my lovely male friends. I thought about how it was the best times I've had have been with people I've connected with over time, making strong friendships through learning about each other slowly. Then there has been the occasional dalliance where chemistry takes over. But these have been rare. Lots of fun, but fleeting.

Trin gave me some bits of sound advice - and sent me something that made me think. It read, "You are too intelligent to be the thing that gets in the way of your dreams." Too true.

So this crack in the ether left a pall on the day. I got quite a bit done at work - the rest of my team being in Sydney I was left on my own to crank up the iPod and get on with things, drown out the best of Sherbet, Phil Collins, Billy Joel and every other dodgy 80's hit with The Pixies, Nick Cave, Florence and the Machine and PJ Harvey. This worked to keep me half sane. Lots got done. I skipped out half an hour early, needing to get away and get some air and sunshine.

The question that darted in and out of my mind all day - do I call the half wit back. Does he deserve a second chance? Do I take myself off the site or leave myself on it.

Ah, it's all too hard. I'm not even going to throw in the fact that I've lived alone for the best part of ten years, I can't remember I last woke up next to somebody, let alone anything else remotely intimate and comfortable.

A couple of macarons, collecting the mail and a trip to my favorite witch shop I felt somewhat restored. In Spellbox, I spun the wheel - just to see what was around me. The little note the wheel delivers read as such:

Adventure.  Take a risk. Follow your bliss. From fear now depart, connect with the heart. Prepare for an amazing adventure to start.

Bloody universe.


Days without ice cream - 19 - though the temptation to go get a litre of Maggie Beers Burnt Fig Jam and Butterscotch ice cream nearly did me in today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Committee Meeting

All names, characteristics and locations have been changed to protect the innocent.

This is how I spent my Tuesday night.

The Main Players

Mrs Dulcie Ogmore-Pritchard - Dowager Pensioner from Dingly - dressed in a floral Dolina dress, (ill-fitting) and constantly adjusting her squealing hearing aid and sipping marsala from a coke bottle. Always to be addressed as Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard.

Bebe Polkinghorne - Jobbing radio actress, dressed in understated Melbourne black, pony-slim legs crossed at the upper thigh.

Anthony "Soaked-up Tony " Bartholemew - lugubrious Treasurer, known for eye rolling, long monotone speeches and his stash of Captain Morgan in the library stacks.

Frau Helene Gudmundsdottir - Well coiffed doyenne of the Williamstown business community.

Dorothy "Dotty" Fields - Grandmother, Collingwood cheer squad founding member - Secretary. Keeps a collection of other teams supporter's hubcaps in her garage.

Geoffrey Carruthers - Long suffering Chairman. Voice of Reason. Stoic in the face of adversity. Was born to be an ombudsman.

Jonquil Curruthers - Geoffrey's mother. Archetypal Good Grandmother persona. Also stoic in the face of adversity. Libran.

Hyacinth Montrose - Jonquil's sister - a slightly more wizened, slightly harder version of Jonquil with a rapier wit similar to her sisters

Myfanwy Jones - silent widow under a grey bob. Likes to knit - a lot. Doesn't say boo to a goose.

And there is me, Pandora Behr, 43-year-old, long distance running, word nerd. The youngest in the room by fifteen years easily. Wet behind the ears. Literally. The humidity of the last few days has been killing me. Not helping matters the night before, due to the heat and humidity, I'd had about three hours sleep. After a long day at work, getting home to down a protein shake and then take off to this meeting, I was exhausted.

The Location: A drafty church hall type arrangement complete with lino floor and formica tables in Richmond.

The Event: The Annual General Meeting of the Mixed Elks Property Committee

This rag tag bunch have decided attend the Annual General Meeting of the Mixed Elks Property Committee. Some have to be there - like me.

Some are there because they want to be there. Maybe their medication has run out.

I've spoken in this blog about my participation in freemasonry. I love my allegiance to the Masonic cause. I love the masonic values and everything that freemasonry provides me with. I love that most of what I gleaned about freemasonry from Happy Days and The Flintstones has turned out to be on the mark - truly it has - right down to the funny handshakes.

A part of being a freemason is accepting that part of life is service. Service to your lodge. Service to your family. Service to the community. Service to humanity.

And part of duty of service to the lodge is getting roped into the Mixed Elks Property Association Committee.

And part of me wonders if this service element of the Masons is a crock of shit. And a lot of me wonders how being roped into the Property Assocation aligns with the service to humanity aspect of freemasonry.

I freely admit to not liking committees. Like meetings and any other gathering where alleged democracy is required, all codes of ethics, morals and values tend to go out the window as soon as you step into the room where a meeting or committee is convened.

And the nutters come out. I think there is something about a committee that ensures that there is at least one barking mad eejit to rock the boat. Just as you need a junkie on the tram after ten p.m. or a male school teacher who wears long socks, sandals and a short sleeved shirt to teach Physics - there has to be at last one complete fuckwit. It wouldn't be a committee if it wasn't.

Bring back oligarchy I say! Plato was right some three thousand years ago when he said that this was the only way to go. Rule by the sane. Rule by the trusted - none of these Polder decisions and constant arguing and half measures that democracy provides where compromises are made and nobody is happy. Rule by the intelligent, informed and not-that-barking-mad elite, I say!

Heaven help me - last night. Oh my. It's four hours of my life I'm never going to get back. And a decision which I know I'm going to regret got made. As of 10.32 p.m. last night, I'm now the Mixed Elks Property Association Treasurer. Voted in uncontested.

I must have been pond scum in a former life.

For most of the meeting I was listening and putting myself in my happy place, which mostly consisted of fantasising about a lanky but wonderfully muscled Swedish actor in some compromising positions. I also started my weekly shopping list, thought about how I can take out the tannoy and the annoying easy listening music at work, pondered how I'm going to train for and get to the New York Marathon next year

I'm not sure what bugged me more. Whether it be Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard talking loudly into her mobile phone after the meeting had started - continuing to do this at the meeting table throughout the meeting. It might have been Frau Gudmansdottir and Bebe Polkinghorne questioning every line on the Treasurers report - not just once, but five times over. Maybe it was that when I was expecting to be home at 9.30 and in bed by ten they were still arguing about the semantics of the word "Subs" that was found in a footnote in the addendum to the President's Report, again, for the fifth time of the evening.

Please remember that this was the first Mixed Elks Property Association meeting I'd been to - my Mixed Elks Lodge voted (read guilted) me into a three year stint on the committee at the last meeting - see, I get a lot of flack for not staying for supper. Thankfully, these meetings are only held once every three months.

By ten to ten, the time had come to find a new Property Committee President. The current Executive Committee - Geoffrey, Dotty and Tony the Soak stepped away from the top formica table. I went and sat next to Jonquil - my allie, voice of reason and grandmother substitute - though at 80, she's only just ten years older than my own mum.

"Enjoying yourself, Pand?" she asked.
"Do you want me to be tactful or truthful?"
"I think I'd rather have root canal surgery without anaesthetic than be here."
"I feel your pain."
"Is it always like this?" I asked her.
"Half the time. The other half of the time the agitators stay away. These people are passionate."
"Don't they have anything better to do?"
Jonquil sighed. "Probably not."

The election of the new president was run - I ran it. They gave me a gavel - ah, the power. Fifteen minutes later - after discussing semantics with Frau Gudmansdottir and Bebe Polkinghorne about how their Elks lodge couldn't put up members as they hadn't voted them in, I was installed as treasurer and Geoffrey and Dotty were back as President and Secretary.

Another hour of pointless discussion about the auditor's report, the meeting was closed.

So traumatised from this meeting I went home and downed a very large single malt.

How do I feel about being the treasurer of the Mixed Elks Property Committee Incorporated? A little ambivalent. Somebody has to do it. See to me, it's running a spreadsheet, banking a few cheques and sending the odd stroppy letter - how hard can it be? I'm also wondering which one of my CPA friends I might be able to bribe into auditing our books for a barter - I knew enough CPAs to coerce them into a few hours work - well I think I do. Throw in a massage - amazing what a good massage can be bartered for. I have a few other barterable skills, but I'm not sure that they're quite right for bartering the Mixed Elks Property Committee Books for - I have my standards,.

Still you have to wonder...

Just what is it about committees that make you want to club half of the members like baby seals!

Days without ice cream - 17
Bred out way back in the years
When God was a boy

Pandora Lent XI

Day's without ice cream - 16 

Thank you, Eric

When I'm tired and grumpy,
And the meeting's agenda's gone,
I sit with eyes unfocussed,
And think of you with nothing on.

(I realise I'm paraphrasing Adrian Mitchell - but something has to get you through the most bizarre AGM I've ever attended)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Back and the Future

Much of my adult working life has been spent in offices.

More to the point, much of my working life has been spent pushing paper in the operations departments of financial institutions. Working with the distribution of dividends, corporate actions, cash balancing and reconciliations, data entry jobs in the back offices of International Banking Houses to be precise.

For me, after ten years of this sort of work, I was ready to slit my wrists. Then in 2003, after a large epiphany, three months on a Greek Island and a bout of deep depression, I made a change, found IT and began to discover that work could be fun, interesting and I could play to my strengths. Leaving the operations departments of these banks has been one of the best moves I've ever made - from financial, professional and personal standings.

So now, in my capacity as a Consulting Business Analyst for a second tier Business Consulting group (all this means is that I work with great people who drink lots of beer, have personalities and don't expect you to do fourteen hour days) I'm in a bit of quandary.

In my current role, I'm finding myself back in the thick of an operations area of a financial institution. Even worse, I'm in the thick of the operations area of Bastard Bank's Retail Operations Area.

I DON'T WORK RETAIL!!! Especially not after my first job was spent in the sub-basement of the an Adelaide department store sticking on price tags - two year of that putting myself through my final year of university part time.

Okay, I'm not in this Gormenghast of a place to WORK in operations - I'm there do document the procedures and processes, that is once I get through the air locks, find my desk, pass the forests of paperwork and rows of fax machines and try to let to foreboding sense of deja vu pass.

I left these kinds of offices nearly a decade ago.

Working in IT and telcos, I've been surrounded by computers and people in jeans - people with quick wits, idiosyncrasies and tendencies towards the autism spectrums. Working on projects, I've been among a mix of megalomaniacs with their own agendas, decent, bright, fun hard working people who strive for the best (these are the people I seem to make friends with) and a heap of very bright people who have tendencies towards the autism spectrums. Throw into the mix guys like Traralgon, Ah-Sole, Danger Dood and the Hot Scouser and every stereotype is covered.

I like project spaces. I get them. They can be fast paced and interesting at times. It's normally varied work. You meet great people.

I don't like Operations Areas. Business as Usual can be as dull as it sounds.

Yet, I'm sort of glad, as this foray into the world of Business Analysis a bit of a soft landing as I 'get' what the teams are trying to do. I get what they do on a daily basis. I get how they do it. It's all second nature. It's ingrained.

And it hasn't changed much in the near decade since I left.

Nor have the people.

Similar people, different office.

Middle aged women in slacks and jumpers who go and find  a cup of tea two hours by the clock. Younger women, seven months pregnant with photos of the kids framed on the desk. Young men in their thirties with Supercuts haircuts and short sleeved polyester shirts. Friendly management who try and make the best of the conditions. Same people, different office. Seen it all before.

And the killer for me - the radio is piped through the office.


I come from offices where everybody listens to music - it's what iPods are for! I've been known to bop along to the Pixies while fixing commas and parsing ("You are the son of an incestuous union..."). I do it regularly. ("Vamos, vamos, vamos") I used to have iPod swaps with my old project manager. ("I was swimming in the Caribbean').

In this new office, I've been subjected to GOLD FM and MIX FM. So far I've endured some really old favorites - Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Mental as Anything - and a personal favorite - Meatloaf.

If I ever have to hear Meatloaf's "Bat Out of Hell" album again before I die, it will be too soon. Just as the CIA tortured Gitmo detainees with the Barney song, I have a similar feeling about Bat out of Hell. For two years, it was all I listened to as I stuck price tickets on department store items.

I know every word to that pharking album.

Hearing 'I Can See Paradise by the Dashboard Light' on Friday was enough to start my bottom lip quivering and the urge to run away to set in.

I'm back in an Operations Area. Joy!

It's only for a few months. I'm cutting my teeth on work things. I just have to remember this and remember this often. And go back to the mother ship of my old office when I can.

My earplugs will get a battering I reckon - that or I ramp up the iPod and play The Pixies, Florence and the Machine, The Rolling Stones and anything that is the antithesis of the easy listening crap they play over the tannoy.

On the good side of things, I'll go back to the project enclave after this stint, the people are friendly, its walking distance from home and the canteen is so bad I'll have to take my lunch in so I will get my diet back on track. And there may be a bit of travel attached to this job with the slight chance of being sent to Sydney for a few weeks.

On the not so good side of things, other than the persistent drone of easy-listening radio, I just have to remember that although this type of work started me on the route I'm on now, it's not what I do any more. It's not who I am. And I'm not stuck there, earning half of what I earn now, bored out of my wits with no way out.

Thank heavens it's not for too long.

I've had a weekend out from things. Went with Jay from the gym to see Rock of Ages yesterday - loved every minute of it.

As somebody who normally doesn't like musicals, this one got me to me. An old friend highly recommended it - and I'm so glad I went. The only musicals I tend to like are the edgy, slightly wrong ones - like Rocky Horror, Hairspray and Chicago. I think that Andrew Lloyd Webber should be publicly executed for crimes against humanity.

Rock of Ages has a Rocky Horror sense of fun, a completely wrong sense of humour and one of the best eighties sound tracks out there. And they give you a fake cigarette lighter to sway to the music with. I'm never going to hear  Pat Benetar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" in the same way again. I don't believe that I ever wore the clothes they wore - I've never worn acid wash double denim or gym lycra unitards. My hair's too boofy to have a spiral perm... And the last time I wore suspenders and stocking was to a "Shock Your Mother" party at college. Thankfully all the photos of me in a school uniform, stockings and suspenders in a shopping trolley have been burned.

If you get a chance to see it on stage - do it - though the movie of the stage show is coming out next year. Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx should be a hoot.

Other good things to happen this weekend - Pump class with 25 kilogram squat track, meditation, a quiet night on Saturday with a lot of Vampire Porn (True Blood). All good things.

On the not quite as good side - a not that interesting Mason's rehearsal, which was infuriating and insightful in turn and completely wasted Friday night. And lots of vampire porn has made me decidedly horny. But we can't talk about the last thing.

I'm going into middle age - I didn't think you were supposed to get horny any more.

I suppose the latter is a bit of compensation for the fact that tomorrow morning it's back to Gormenghast to look at operations processes which haven't changed that much in twenty years.


Days without ice cream - 15 (and brownie points for donating to Trin the scoop of vanilla ice cream that turned up in my skinny iced chai latte up at the 1000 Steps - like who puts ice cream in skinny iced chai latte?)


Sometimes I think of your skin
The unexpected smoothness found
At the base of your neck
And your chest's scent
Where I used to lay
Your chest, my pillow
Your arm, loose around me
Protective and calm

I can never go back
But you are always there
In the recesses
Where light rarely goes
Soft, smooth, scented
Imperfectly perfect.
Protective and calm.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pandora Lent X

Days without Ice Cream  14

frustrating night life
computer crashes again
max irritation

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pandora Lent IX

Days without ice cream- 13 (though the temptation to get a magnum on the way home from masons was nearly impossible to overcome)


I ponder what it must be like
To talk to the same person
For one whole week.
To have a real conversation
With the same person
Every day
For a whole week.
To discuss more than work
Or the weather
Or what's on the box
Or the football ladder
With the same person
For one whole week
And to not remember what this is like
Is a concept as alien
As world peace
Something to strive for
Yet so elusive.

(Dream group has set off some pretty black crap - normal programming will resume shortly)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Imperfect Pictures

One of my greatest dislikes, along with bananas and lasagne, is having my photo taken. Loathe, loathe, loathe having my photo taken.

I'm the first to admit that most of this comes from having zero self-esteem or self-worth over the years. Thinking that you are the ugliest, smelliest, most useless person that ever walked the planet doesn't do great things for you when it comes to making your mark on the world. Knowing that you're not particularly photogenic doesn't help either - but I've had a pathalogical fear of having my photo taken for many years. I liken it to being from a long lost tribe who believes that the camera steals your soul - which has been a short story idea for a long time too.

Because of this irrational fear, with the exception of the odd school photo, and the odd sneaky shot, I have very, very few photos of myself for the last forty years. Unfortunately, the bulk of the photos of me taken before the age of seven were destroyed in a caravan fire - my grandparents had taken the photos on a grey nomad trip around Australia - they were all destroyed. Years of dodging the camera have meant that there are next to no shots of me though university, my twenties or my thirties. Never getting engaged or married or having children or going on holidays with anybody means I've escaped the camera for the most part - actively, vocally avoiding I them for what seems like ever.

I also don't have photos around my house. I have a couple of photos of my nieces on my book case taken a few years ago and there are some shots of friends on the fridge. From what I know, my mother has one shot of me on the side board. I've tried to steal it away on many occasions because I'm embarrassed about the monobrow...

I'll also admit to having a real hatred of seeing myself in photos - so much so that I've been known to rip them up, detroy the negatives and burn the evidence or throw tantrums until friends get rid of them - yes, it was that bad. There is a part of me that just didn't want to face the truth as to how big I'd got, just as there was a part of me who felt like my existence wasn't justified.

Thank goodness that has changed.

Another incedent in my twenties has made me reticent to go anywhere near a camera. Having your work head shot plastered onto hard core pornographic shots and distributed around the company didn't do anything for my liking of having my photo taken either. The incident nearly had somebody fired (if it wasn't London in the 90's and in today's politically correct world the consequences would have been far more severe) and left me scarred for life. I still refuse to have my photo taken or published in any sort of corporate capacity other than ID cards.

It's only in the last few years that I have got a little better about having photos taken. Not much, but a bit better. I've been known to untag photos on facebook, rather than demand that they be taken off entirely, and I've even posted the odd photo of myself - though I do vet them carefully. I'm still not really that taken with being photographed, but it's not something that sends me into a mad, tear-filled frenzy any more.

I know that it's an irrational fear. I know that it's stupid - but having my photo taken still fills me with dread.

So this week has left me feeling rather rattled. I know that my passport needs renewing - the sooner the better. I also got notification that my driver's licences is also up for renewal. And starting a new role in a secure building meant a new photo for a new ID tag - another photo.

Three of the buggers.

The familiar feeling of horror has been sitting with me for a while. Two of these photos will last ten years. Not that anybody really sees them or looks at them, but the thought that they will be around to haunt me fills me with dread.

Okay, my last passport photo was tolerable, even I can see that. I know how much I weighed when I had the photo taken - a strange fact since it was some ten years ago - and I'm happily six or seven kilos lighter now. My last licence shot was a complete dog. Almost at my heaviest, I look miserable. I'm really thankful that this licence shot is being retired. It's truly dreadful. I think I can count five chins.

Then today, on entering the new building, for the new role, after walking the three kilometres to work, somewhat red faced and sweaty, the security guy said I needed to have my photo taken for the new pass.

I was flummoxed. No getting out of it. Argh. Everybody working in this building needs this pass to get in and out of the building, which has two sets of air locks to get to the main lifts, to the loo, to the canteen - it's like working at the Royal Mint or the Pentagon. If you don't have this pass with you they wont let you in without and escort. Fun.

After a minor silent grumble, I did what I was told. I went and stood in front of the third chair and looked at the security camera dome. After looking the two wrong security domes, I was finally standing in the foyer looking like an idiot for what felt like an age - and then I was summoned.

And what would you know - on my new pass, a very acceptable likeness of me. It's okay. I'm not scowling. I'm not frowning. I'm not looking like I'm about to murder the photographer. It's okay.

Lets hope the passport short and the driver's licence go as smoothly.

It's only just dawned on me in the last few months that I don't have this photographic history of myself. I'm not sure how I feel about this at all. Part of me is very sad. Part of me is trying to rectify the situation to a point.

My friend Gloria, a very good photographer, has been at me for years to take my portrait once again. I let her do it a few years ago when I was ten kilograms heavier. Though I can see the merits of her photos - I look at them and still see a moose - the photos are in a drawer somewhere, never allowed to see the light of day. Maybe this is another thing to work on - try and get over this fear.

Or maybe I should leave it. I think I needed to write about this after dream group left me rattled last night. My dream. Not a great or positive dream. The conversation was pointed. I'm in constant competition with myself. It's almost cellular.

I'm still processing all this. I just know I'm in for a rocky few weeks.



Days without ice cream - 12

I'm not a photograph
An image without soul
A test shot, paper thin
Without substance or depth.

I don't want to be taken
Or shaken or made
Left on show to collect
The dust that will only collect

For images change with the wind
And the tides and the seasons
Capturing a moment
Feels so futile.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pandora Lent VIII

Days without ice cream - 11

Passport Photo Blues

Blind panic remains
Queueing for unwanted shots
That last a decade

Everyone gets it
The passport photo tremors
That last a decade

The chance to forgive
The choice of crap coloured shirt
That lasts a decade.

And when it comes round
You promise not to error
In your passport shot.