Thursday, 7 November 2013

More of Your Guide to Melbourne: Oaks Day

Went to Oaks Day at Flemington today as  part of the Spring Racing Carnival - I think I enjoyed it more than the Cup last year. Less people, fewer crowds.

The trains, however, were still very crowded with people going to Oaks Day, which is traditionally Ladies' Day. So there is great hooha about getting dressed up, matching your hat or fascinator to your outfit and having matching gloves, shoes and clutch.

While everyone I say had fascinators or little tiny hats on no one had the matching clutch or gloves. That must be de rigeur for people entering Fashions on the Fields. Apparently that is a big deal- at least according to the advertising it is. Or maybe it's people sitting in the Members stand, or maybe it's just for celebrities.

I had a look at some links of what I assumed were people at the races, or even just Fashion in the Field entrants, but were in fact just celebrities. Not terribly well-known celebrities either.

I didn't even know who the first person was - Lance Franklin, apparently a famous footballer. And then there were a lot of his girlfriend but finally someone I did recognise Jennifer Hawkins. Strange, I did not at any time see any of these people so unless you had entrance to the celebrity tent or wherever they hung out it was like we were attending different races entirely.

Just sayin'. . .

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

NaBloPoMo quandaries

Ugh . . . if I blog but no one reads it. . . is it still a blog?

What if I do it in the forest and no one reads it?

What if I do it every day (in November) and no one reads it?

What if I blog, and then one person reads it - me? (I'll make a note to get back to myself about that.)

Yeah, I get it, I'm meant to go and read other people's blogs but they all appear to be mummy blogs and I'm not. However, that's not really the only reason- I just don't seem to have much time. I haven't even been reading the latest postings from blogs I already follow.

What happened to my spare time?

Tonight I spent ages requesting DVDs from the TAFE library to introduce Blade Runner, which we're watching as another example of dystopian literature/film; we read The Handmaid's Tale previously. I think they're gonna be just as 'impressed' with Blade Runner. . . they're both kind of bleak. But  I guess that's the point of dystopian fiction.

And did you know/realise that Blade Runner has some very film noir qualities? The first release most especially with the 'hard boiled' detective - Deckard, the femme fatale- Rachel, and the voice over effects.  It has been called neo noir, in fact. Huh, the interesting things you discover as a teacher!

Anyway, so I spent some time requesting some film noir DVDs to show them also.

Rightyo signing off now, I have two units that I have to design, devise and invent to teach next year and a Cert IV in Training and Assessment that I have to demonstrate RPL (recognised prior learning) for even though I'm a fully trained up secondary teacher with muchos experience. However that doesn't count I still have to show that I can and do apply everything a Certificate qualification outlines- that'd be stuff I've been doing without even thinking about it for the last 15 years.

Huh, still it'll be worth it for the extra $2 I'll get an hour!

Ah. . . I am discovering that as I am blogging in the forest I feel A LOT of freedom to vent any which way I like.

Yay me!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Your Guide to Melbourne Life: The Cup

Cup Day- the race that stops a nation. So they say.

The Melbourne Cup, a race for three year (and older) horses is a traditional day off for the majority of Victorians, if not Australians.

 I have no idea why.

Held every year on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington Racecourse, Cup Day has been an official public holiday since 1877. This year the race had about 20 horses and prize money of over six million dollars. The race is run over 3, 200 metres (2 miles) and horses from around the globe are flown into Australia for the Cup.

The first race was in 1861, and won by Archer, who also won it the next year too.  He may have won it the year after as well if his owner had submitted the entry form on time; as it was he didn’t, and the horse wasn’t allowed to race.

Phar Lap is the most famous winner of the Melbourne Cup, in 1930 and claimed by Australians as one of their own but in reality is a New Zealand born horse. Other famous winners of the Melbourne Cup include:
Peter Pan 1932/1934
Rain Lover 1968/ 1969
Think Big 1974/1975
Makybe Diva 2003/ 2004/ 2005 (the only horse to win three years in a row.)

Each year 300-400 horses nominate to run in the race but only 24 are selected. It costs $50, 805 to enter a horse into the Melbourne Cup. Winners of the previous year’s Cup, the Cox Plate or the Caulfield Cup gain automatic entry into the race.

At the races there is much celebration and dressing up. Hats and fashion are a feature of the race, there is even a Fashions on the Field competition.

Many workplaces around Victoria will have a Cup Sweep where people will buy a ticket  and be randomly allocated a horse number. They’ll then follow the race to see if their horse wins. Of course people will also place bets at the track with bookies, or with the TAB.

As it is a public holiday many Victorians, and those from interstate, will go to the races. Others will hold barbeques and picnics, or if at work participate in a Cup Sweep. It is not uncommon for television sets to be turned on just before 3pm to watch the race, whether at home or at work.

By this point in time you're dying to see the real thing aren't you? Go on, go and look at the running of this year's  Melbourne Cup.

Monday, 4 November 2013

That's the way it's always been done, and other reasonings of a well run college

The Setting: TAFE college, locked classroom.

When: Monday before Cup Day. (No, it's not important other than to signal to other Australians that there would be a very low attendance rate as Cup Day, the next day, is a holiday.)

Time: 8.30am. (And I pride myself on getting there on time. Me and two students. )

The Aggravation: The fact that this classroom is locked for the 13th time in a row despite the fact that I am timetabled in there, same time, every week.

More Aggravation: That I have to ring Security EVERY SINGLE WEEK to ask them to unlock the freakin' door.

As you can tell, I'm taking this is my stride. I actually enjoy whipping out my mobile (cell phone for you northern continent types) and ringing Security to ask them to unlock the door despite the fact that there are FOUR other classrooms in the same corridor and no one else bothers to ring Security, and the Security guards DO NOT turn up until they've been rung, and that I'm actually on time.

The Query: Good morning Security. This is Stella. I need my classroom unlocked. Again. Is this how it's meant to be? Am I meant to ring every, single, Monday morning to get access to the classroom I'm timetabled in?

The Advice: Speak to your Faculty Head and get them to write to Security.

So I speak to my manager. She speaks to whoever. . . possibly someone called Nancy.

The Outcome: No, I cannot have a key. There are no keys. No reason given.

Security's Reality: They don't like to unlock computer rooms until the teacher's there. It's security ya know. (These are the worlds oldest yuckiest computers.)

More of Security's Unreality: The fact that TWO windows in the classroom have been left open over the weekend and anyone who wanted to - I repeat these are very old computers - could break in and steal any computers that weren't damaged by the rain swishing in all weekend is NOT a security issue.

Furthermore (AKA Final Rant) : This is how it's always been done. This is the way they did it at the other campus so this is the way we're gonna do it here. No, don't be silly the Security guards couldn't possibly have the doors unlocked already for me to start my class. . . or even just happen to stroll down that particular corridor and open ALL FOUR OF THE FREAKIN' CLASSROOMS that are scheduled to have a class in them. Or even simply HANG AROUND at the allotted time for when I appear ON TIME to teach my class instead of making me wait FIFTEEN MINUTES to get into my classroom. You know, the one with the TWO OPEN WINDOWS.

I feel much better now.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Technical Dificulties

Yep, if you neglect your blog for a while you forget all sorts of passwords and then have technical difficulties.

Like the password to sign into your blog.
And the password to your email account where you follow other people's blogs.
And the google password. . . is that the same or different from my email password?

And compounding the difficulties is my tendency to change my mind.

When I started this new anonymous blog, because I no longer wanted to be Josie, I started a Wordpress blog. And I followed other blogs using Wordpress account and the associated email address. I ran into issues following Blogspot blogs so got rid of that blog and started again with Blogspot.

But it didn't all get cleared away, did it?

No, I couldn't manage to change my followings and somehow when I comment on someone's Wordpress blog it prompts me to log on with my old blog. Which I can't do as I cleared it.

Then I decided that a gmail account would be more useful as an email account so changed the account associated with this blog. Now I can't access my yahoo email but for some reason I can log into my blog using that email address- there are just no emails for me to read.

It's taken a couple of hours to access my blog again- yay - but I still can't access my yahoo emails.

Then I needed to log onto Blogher to sign up for Nablomopo . . . with a Facebook account for some reason.  So I had to create passwords for both of those AND a Facebook account, which I don't particularly want to be on, but I was quite motivated to do Nablopomo this November so I persevered.

I'm quite confused now. I'd like to go and read other Nablopomo blogs but I'm quite worn out from figuring out how to access my blog and some of my emails.

And there are all the other things competing for my time. There's the five or six books I have borrowed from the library that I really want to read, and the units I'll be teaching next year that I was to start researching and writing up, and marking, and all the other nitty gritty aspects of life. . .

Phew. So, my aim will be to keep up with Nablopomo every day this month, attempt to log onto Blogher, and find some time to read other people's blogs.

Stella x

Saturday, 2 November 2013

GOP, the wacky world of politics, and all that jazz

I’m trying to become more “aware” and follow Obama’s Affordable Care Act, after all a major crisis has only just been averted with Congress getting the go ahead to keep on . . . congressing.

My knowledge is thin and weedy.

The very first article I looked at had me stumped:

Here’s how GOP Obamacare hypocrisy backfires
First I had to figure out who or what GOP was, OK, easy fixed. Thanks google. They’re the Republicans, also called the Grand Old Party. Apparently this was an ironic title bestowed upon them, which started out life as the Gallant Old Party.

Huh, and I thought it was some official acronym.

So, then I started reading:

Why Obamacare Grandfathered Plans are Going Extinct
And was stumped again.

So what, are they taken down to the park, given sweeties, and pushed on the swings?

Still I persevered:

Kludgeocracy: The American Way of Policy
And what in the sweet green grass is  kludgeocracy?

I might just stop calling myself an English teacher since I am following none of that.

I guess the only positive  thing – the only thing –  to be said about Australian politics is their use of plain English. Or should that be Australianisms?

In an interview with The Washington Post our newest Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, explains the previous government’s policies thus:

''Welcome to the wonderful, wacko world of the former government.'' 
Mr Fernandes, an associate professor of international and political studies at the University of New South Wales, offers this observation:

“Generally speaking the convention is that you don’t go to a foreign country and attack your political opponents at home.
“Their commentators will be privately thinking that this is extremely uncouth.”

Fantastic- I don’t understand American politics, and we’re the country with an uncouth PM.

Friday, 1 November 2013

When nerdom equals success

For the past few months I have been teaching in the TAFE system- that's Technical and Further Education for those not in the know. My students are mainly ones who completed year 12 (final year of secondary school) last year but did not do well enough to get into university. There is also a smattering of mature age students.

In a class last week my students were working on an essay. The course demands I teach them essay skills as it provides them with the skills to succeed at university.  I have broken down the steps to researching and writing an essay and then needed to decide on an essay topic.

Because I am an awesome teacher I decided on a topic that would be applicable to them: What factors contribute to success at the tertiary level. Brillliant, I thought. They learn to write an essay and in the process find out what their stumbling blocks may be at university.

Most don't really appreciate the topic, however, one mature age student told me last week:

"I feel like such a nerd in your class because I'm finding this so interesting." 

And, 'TOUCH DOWN!" as they say on certain TV shows when applauding success. 

My work here is done. I walked away with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Stella x

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Ready, Set, Bake

I have joined the female race, at last.

Wait, maybe that’s stereotyping: perhaps it’s the human race I have joined. Or at least the proportion of it that bakes.

That’s right. You heard me, the part of the human race that bakes.

Every woman I know bakes. And I don’t.

But today I baked a cheesecake. I vaguely remember baking a cake once. Four years ago. I don’t remember, however, cooking a baked cheesecake. Ever. In my childhood I remember creating a refrigerated cheesecake but never a baked one.

And a good thing that is too because now I know what is actually in a cheesecake I am horrified and may never order one for dessert again.

However, I have a cheesecake in my oven right now and based on its title Foolproof Baked Cheesecake, and the fact that when I licked the bowl out I almost swooned, I am fairly confident that this cheesecake will be edible.

Anyway, how could it fail when you consider the raw ingredients?
  • Cream cheese
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Lemon
  • And biscuits (It seemed a bit ambitious to create a base from scratch but presumably people actually do that.)

 Mix that together and anything kind of result is going to taste nice.

Fingers crossed.

However, now I have discovered the joys of baking I must watch out in case I’m lured into watching one of those cooking shows. My major objection to them is that everytime one of the participants has to leave, or something they've cooked doesn't turn out as expected, or the judges speak harshly to them and they pathetically dissolve into tears NO ONE goes all 'parent' on them.

i.e. One of the judges should grab their arm and shout:

“Are you crying?! What are you crying about?! Come here! I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Possibly while brandishing a rolling pin.

Stella x

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Cost of Work

A friend of mine is pretty much scandalised by some of my life choices. What is he scandalised about?
  • Excessive drinking? No.
  • Excessive smoking? No.
  • Sleeping around with a different partner every night? (Ha, as if.) No.
  • Eating too much sugar? No.
  • Cheating the tax system? No.
  • Being mean to animals? No.
  • Being a lapsed vegequarian? No.
  • My preference for tea over coffee? No.
  • My ability to rock red lipstick? No.
  • My desire to live in the hills for a while longer and endure a long journey into town? Possibly but not the complete story. 

Nope, none of the above. It is, however, fairly controversial: It’s my preference to work part time rather than full time.

Shocking, no?

Financially things have been tougher than the last year and the emergency teaching not quite as lucrative. As a result I have whinged a bit more about money, and work. (Perhaps this is what he objects too.)

I have also been proactive and been applying for jobs. However, I really don’t want to work full time again and initially I only applied for part time work.

Now I am applying for full time or part time work, even though I’d prefer part time.

At any rate, one of my friends disapproves of my desire to work part time. I’m not sure why this bothers him so much.  (Well possibly he objects to my whining which is fair enough.) And I'm surprised by his judgement; and initially I was defensive, now I'm realising I should be indifferent.  It’s my decision how I spend my life and what my priorities are - perhaps not working full time is a good priority for me.

It would be a strange world if we all had the same priorities.

He also has children. I don’t have children and I never wanted children. So I decided I wouldn’t have children unless I changed my mind over the years. This never, ever happened. So: no children.

See? Different priorities.

The decision to work part time came at a cost. I found myself stressed, depressed, and unable to sleep when teaching full time. I did not enjoy my quality of life.

Then my husband got sick and I learnt a real lesson about life. Watching someone die at 42 will make you re-assess your priorities. If I am financially able to survive on part time work, then that is what I am going to do. If I am financially able to survive working casually, then that is what I am going to do and bugger anyone who wants to judge me. 

The beauty of being an adult is that I can make my own decisions. And I have learnt not let other people's judgements dictate my life. I just need to remember that.

Stella x 

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Want Ads for Teachers Who Walk On Water and Other Miracles

Hyperbole in teaching positions appears to be all the rage. I am looking for a new teaching job and the standards seem very high. I consider myself a good teacher, not great, just good, but I’m not sure I’m at the standard required to actually get a teaching job these days.

If these ads are to be believed then the standard of teaching is so high these days I’m shocked we are not leading the world in education and turning out actual world leaders!

These examples are taken from real ads. (Just reading them made me so exhausted I had to have a Bex and a lie down.)

They want really good teachers who:        
  • Demonstrate experience in developing exciting, innovative and age-appropriate curriculum to engage all levels of students.
  • Have an ability to foster positive relationships with students, with a commitment to their personal growth, education and care.
  • Demonstrate ability to work as part of Learning and Pastoral Teams.
  • Have strong communication skills.
  • Have a commitment to excellence in girls’ education.

 Hm, yes, we all have to be involved in teams now: Pastoral, Learning, Writing Curriculm/ Rewriting Curriculum/ Writing The Curriculum to Satisfy the New Improved Independent Schools Standards/ State Standards/New Improved National Standards . . .

Surely if we got it write right the first time we wrote the curriculum we wouldn’t have to keep re-writing it.

Or they want us to be energetic and innovative. Well, I row twice a week, is that energetic enough?

This is an opportunity for a talented Maths teacher to join a supportive and engaging work environment that fosters diversity, communication and professional growth.

Talented? Probably not. And fortunately I’m not a Maths teacher so I won’t be applying for that one.

ABC Teaching Agency is seeking dynamic, outgoing and enthusiastic secondary teachers to work with our client schools.

Er, dynamic? Outgoing? Enthusiastic? I’m afraid my enthusiasm gets worn down just reading the ads.

I enjoy teaching, like the kids, and want to do the best by them but I just don’t think I can live up to all these new expectations.

Anyway, you’ll be relieved to hear that I keep my new found cynicism to myself and should I actually get invited to interview for a teaching position (which hasn't happened yet, must work on my water walking skills) I will not be saying anything at all about my blog.

Stella x

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Believe it or not. . .

I have been sitting on the couch flipping through the TV channels and scanning the TV guide for something to watch, in vain. I have also been feeling pathetic that I am doing this and not something more interesting like yoga (which I was scheduled to do with a friend but I am sick) or the Ballet Classes for Adults that I have signed up for - I just can't wait - but right now I am sick and need to stay near the tissue box. 

So, I muse about things I just cannot believe:
  • That there is a show on TV called Auction Hunters.  That they've actually made a show about men who make a living buying other people's abandoned storage units.  And they show this on TV. (Maybe I’m more incredulous than unbelieving.)
  • I just saw the credits. Now I also can't believe that there was an "original concept" involved in the making of this program.
  • That there are men who consider buying other people's storage units a career. Seriously.
  • That the majority of programs on TV are reality shows - to do with cooking. Master chef, My Kitchen Rules, The Great Australian Bake Off etc. 
  • Also can’t believe I was wrong: the majority of reality shows are not to do with cooking after all. Look at these reality TV shows - The Biggest Loser, The Block, The Block Skyhigh, Embarrassing Bodies, Cops, Judge Judy, Fear Factor, Pawn Stars, Hardcore Pawn, Pimp My Ride, Supernanny, Celebrity Apprentice, Highway Patrol, Motorway Patrol, Hoarding: Buried Alive, Swamp People, Auction Kings, Operation Repo and so on.
  • Also, I cannot believe the number of cooking shows on TV, even if they're not reality shows: Huey's Kitchen, Ready, Steady, Cook, Good Chef Bad Chef, Everyday Gourmet with Justine Scholfield, (and they're all on ONE channel), Poh's Kitchen – or are they reality shows? I’m confused now.
Anyway, you get the picture.  But so who cares? Well if they were any good then I'd be watching them . . . not scouring the TV guide and writing about them.

That's all.

Oh, and while I was still sort of watching TV . . . also that Americans call pizza "pie". Why? I know we have really dumb names for things but surely it's either a pie or a pizza. Decide already!
And finally, despite selecting all the text AND changing the font about ten times so it is consistent throughout this posting. . . it WON'T do it. 

Stella x

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Men Behaving Badly

Many years ago, I was a foolish thing and attempted on-line dating. Well, it worked. Recently, still being foolish, I have been trying on-line dating again. Specifically, RSVP, and an old flame saw me again, recognized me despite the intervening 14 years and the change of hair colour, and contacted me.

I was mildly horrified.

He was pleased to see me. He said if I wanted to catch up for a coffee, or chat, or whatever to get in touch with him.

It appears I am the only one with a good working long-term memory. We dated for a couple of months and had some good times. However, during that time I learnt that he was rather passive-aggressive, and not really someone I wanted a long-term relationship with. Fortunately he then went overseas and didn’t maintain contact. Ever.

On a couple of occasions while dating him I should have re-thought the wisdom of continuing with the relationship. At one point he photo-shopped a photo of my head onto a naked woman with . . . hm, how shall I say this. . .  different attributes to mine and emailed it to me, thinking it was funny. I didn’t and was quite upset about this and rang him to tell him so.

Instead of being apologetic, or even simply understanding, he become angry with me for ringing him late at night, leaving a message on his machine, and disturbing him when he had to get up early the next day. I’m not even certain I actually got to speak to him but he was annoyed with me anyway. Nor did he ever see my point of view. Then he maintained radio silence for several days.

Eventually, because I am was a sucker I contacted him and said that this felt like we were breaking up, etc. Anyway, to bring an embarrassing story to a close - he did not apologize and we picked up where we left off and continued dating.

Then he accepted a short-term contract to work overseas, Chile. Previously he had failed to mention that this was a possibility. (Nice of him.) So we went shopping for him and I mentioned I had a discount card that I’d be happy for him to use. Buying shirts is boring so while he was looking I explored the cosmetics part of the department store on the same floor. Not too far away.

When it came time to pay I was not there, hovering, with the discount card in my hand but elsewhere. (Gosh, what a bad girlfriend.) The option of leaving the clothes with the sales clerk and seeking me out was, apparently, not open to him. So, angry, he paid for the clothes and then went and stood outside the shop and waited for me to find him. Which I did eventually.

Things were patched up eventually when he decided to speak to me again, then he went away, and even lent me some exercise equipment. I was, for some reason, still interested in pursuing this relationship, and took this as a good sign. I had a brief phone call when he first arrived but then no contact at all, despite a couple of emails on my part. After a week I asked what was going on, why the radio silence again?

He informed me, angrily, that although he worked at a computer all day, he could not email me as the boss sat right next time him/ in front of him/ in close proximity to him etc which made it difficult. He also requested that I return his exercise equipment.

It was at this point that I finally concluded that this guy was a jerk and I didn’t deserve to be treated like that. I drove over there while he was still overseas and put the exercise equipment in the garage by rolling it underneath, as he had requested, and encouraged my little dog to poop in his yard. It didn’t.

Then my self-respect raised its head and I realized that I had made a lucky escape from this manipulative, passive-aggressive man who never apologised, or listened to my feelings. Phew.

When he contacted me again I recoiled with horror, read his email, and replied “That’s nice, yes, it’s been a while. Good luck on-line.” Or words to that effect.

I have not heard from him again.


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Rock the boat, don’t rock the boat, baby.

The damn “fun” regatta has raised its ugly head again. It’s a charity regatta, we went in it last year and it was fun, mostly. This year I thought it’d be OK to row in it with my crew. After all, we work reasonably well together and we’d have six weeks or so to practice.

That was the plan anyway. On the other hand, this is how it is actually panning out.

Week One Crew – Stella, Ann, Mikaela, and Amanda.

Our coach, who also runs the rowing school, decides that Amanda will row with another crew. Amanda rows twice a week and the other crew has also entered the regatta, so she’s gonna row with them.

Amanda is then replaced by Julie.

Week Two Crew – Stella, Ann, Mikaela, Amanda, and Julie

The only problem is that Julie can’t row with us for practice. Darn. Still, we falter along and keep practicing. In effect what this means is that our coach keeps yelling at our stroke seat person as she’s ‘rushing the slide.’ It is very, very hard not to rush the slide. It is something we are all working on at all times.

We have some practice races against another crew. Coach does her nut roaring at us:
Don’t let them get away from you. You’ve got them now hang on! COME ON! KICK IT UP A GEAR!”

And so on, and so forth.


We practice for a couple of weeks without Julie as she is not available to practice with us. Then after a not-particularly-good row our Stroke, Mikaela, hurts her neck as we are carrying the boat back to the trailer. And pulls out of the regatta.


So we replace her with Jane.

Week Four Crew – Stella, Ann, Julie, Mikaela, and Jane.

Then we have ONE practice row with both Julie and Jane. Julie has bravely volunteered to be Stroke. The problem with being Stroke is that all the pressure is on you to set the pace, the rest of the crew simply have to follow her lead.

The other problem is that our coach acts as if this is the Olympics, but it’s not and we’re just semi-fit middle aged women

Not Olympians. Hell, we’ve all been rowing less than two years.

Anyway, we have a practice row together. And we are crap. The entire time: the boat lists to the left, we’re out of time, we simply can’t “kick it up a gear,” ever, and our racing start looks like we’re all splashing around in a kiddy’s pool.


Anyway, this doesn’t matter because it turns out that Jane cannot row with us in the regatta anyway. So her daughter is going to row instead- we’ll call her Leeanne. (I am running out of names here.)

Week Four Crew – Stella, Ann, Julie, Jane,  and new newbie Leeanne.

Anyway, despite my misgivings and wanting to get out of the damn thing, and despite the fact that we HAVE NEVER ALL ROWED TOGETHER, I’m still in.

The day before the regatta the river is flooded; we have the largest single rainfall in one day in June since records begin etc. So the regatta is cancelled.

“Yay!” I think, but alas, it’s only postponed a fortnight. Instead it’s this Sunday.

Today, Tuesday, Ann texts us to say she has a family commitment on Sunday and she can’t row. Julie offers to find a replacement or just leave it if I don’t want to row either.

Week Six Crew – Stella, Julie, Leeanne, and Ann.

I can’t stand it any longer and admit that I’d like to pike also. I tell Julie I’d be happy to leave it, assuming none of us are rowing now after three members of the original crew are unable to make it. However, Julie agrees to take responsibility of what remains of the crew and find two extra people. (I assume Leeanne is still rowing in the regatta but I have never met her, and as a result never rowed with her either.)

Week Six Crew – Stella, Julie, Leeanne, and Ann.

Several hours later, on reading all the texts, Ann feels bad and texts back, apologises to Julie, and says she will row after all.

Week Six Crew 2 hours later – Stella, Julie, Leeanne, and Ann.

I’m not completely certain of my rowing status as a result.

I believe the last text I sent said I wanted to be replaced. I am thoroughly sick of any mention of the regatta and will be happy if I never hear from any of them again. Ever.

Just sayin’ . . .

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Journey.

Don’t you hate it when people talk about healing and grieving as being all part of a journey? I do. But then, it is. Kind of like walking on pebbles at first, it’s painful and uncomfortable and you have to go slowly. Then gradually the path changes and becomes easier to negotiate, perhaps from pebbles to gravel, to sand, to sidewalk.

In the beginning there was actual relief that my husband’s suffering was over. Not many of the books on grief mentioned that so I felt a little guilty, but gradually my commonsense took over: of course I’d be relieved he was no longer in pain, in such a broken down body that made me cry just to look at him, and I decided not to feel guilty. 

Then the journey began. The process went something like, this requiring concentration:
  • On slowly going back to work.  My brain was in a fog, I had to concentrate really hard on the simplest of tasks. I often felt like a complete idiot.
  • On coming off the antidepressants. Really, how does anyone cope without these when you think you will die from the grief? Really - die. When you think you can’t possibly survive, and you don’t know how you will manage to get through the day. And yet, you do.
  • On sprucing up the house ready for sale
  • On moving
  • On cutting my hair inexplicably short. (Very unattractive it was too – perhaps that should be in all the self-help books: don’t cut your hair just because you can, you are not thinking straight.)
  • On going back to university
  • On not crying in public at random moments. I cannot explain how much of a relief it was when I gradually stopped.  I didn’t want everyone to see my grief, or have to explain why I had suddenly dissolved into tears. I was embarrassed, and so relieved when I could stop adding to the Places I Have Cried In Public list. I last cried in public over a year ago. It was my birthday, so it was kind of extenuating circumstances. Anniversaries and significant days are nowhere near as bad now.
  • On participating in the real world

 The latter was somewhat difficult as losing my husband had been the focus of my world for a couple of years and it felt like it informed everything I did. Or should. And yet it felt terribly private so that I didn’t want to talk about it even though it seemed to define me so.

So this journey – I really dislike that word, I must try another – so my experience of grief and healing was so different to almost everything I read in books. The only advice I felt that resonated with me was that we all experience grief differently, and to treat yourself gently.

I saw a counselor who advised me to get out there and join things, start new hobbies, meet new people. So I tried slowly at first. I’d report back to her that I couldn’t get somewhere as I was crying hysterically earlier in the day. What do I do?

She advised: go anyway.

So I did. And it worked. I gradually looked forward to these events even if I initially had to talk myself into going. Sometimes I had to promise myself I could come home after an hour if I didn’t like it.

And so here I am now, just over three years later with new friends, new activities and new hobbies, nearly healed, and walking on smooth pavements.

Oh and rowing - I finally got into a racer recently.

It is like flying!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

To embrace.

It’s been almost four years without him. In a way I’m sad as that’s almost as long as our relationship, our marriage. I’m sad that the time can go so quickly, and that our time together is getting more and more distant. And I feel a bit cheated that the comfort I felt in being married to my husband was so short lived.

Half of me thinks I will meet someone again. I’m not sure where this absurd optimism comes from as I haven’t met anyone since I’d seriously want a relationship with. In that time I’ve had two ‘almost’ relationships, so short that they weren’t ever really going anywhere, and I knew that from the outset.

I’ve tried online dating. I’ve ended up feeling too old, not attractive enough, and not enticing enough. I’ve met men who have been nice and genuine, and men who were out for whatever they could get, men who were simply focused on meeting their own needs. And so I gave up online dating, this was a good thing. (On the downside it certainly gives me less to blog about!)

However, in the last year despite being busy going out and socializing I have rarely met anyone I even want to date. I have had a handful of dates, but when I’m brutally honest, I went on these dates just to keep in practice. I didn’t really think I wanted to date these men but gave it a go anyway.

And then the other half of me thinks I’m better off alone anyway. After all, I love a multitude of things about being single. And I love the solitude of living alone. But then I worry that I love it too much. How will I ever fit someone back into my life?

Still, I suppose it’s good to have something to worry about. Here I am with a dearth of men I’d like to date and I’m worrying how I will accommodate them into my life.

And then a friend, bless his cotton socks, worries about the state of my sex life. What sex life?! Although I have to say that having no sex life means I am at least spared any of the complications. (It’s good to look on the bright side.)

Never mind sex, I miss having someone to dance with . . . I mean dance-as-a-couple dance. People have recommended I find a friend-with-benefits, which sounds good in theory and I have to admit I have tried to ‘source’ one, but I’d settle for a man to lead me through a dance. 

That’d be something . . .