Monthly Archives: August 2011

Some writings – The Hole

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I wrote this some time ago, and have toyed with putting it up on the blog. Then I thought, fuckit, I am gonna put it up.

I have had a fiddle around with it, changed a few things.

And no, The Hole is not a euphemism for The Vagina (yes, Kathryn, I am talking to you, you minx)

Let me start with an analogy or two.

I was once treating a fellow who had a full stubbie of beer thrown at his head. He was ok, but he had a big cut in his scalp. Gently, I rinsed off the clot that adhered to his hair to see what the damage was. Then – whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, arterial blood spurted everywhere. His drunken girlfriend picked this moment to start an argument with me. I had to have her escorted out by security.

Another one. I had not been to the dentist in about 2 years. There had been a funny taste in my mouth for a few weeks, and a few teeth that I could not use to chew. I went to the dentist, because it was about time, not because I made any connection with the symptoms to dental problems.

The dentist took an X ray. Saw a cavity. Started drilling, and then a large cavity opened up. A sharp intake of breath from him – “I am afraid you have to have a root canal.” I did not know what this meant at the time, and thought he was being overdramatic – nobody had died, for heaven’s sake.

About 5 appointments, much pain, countless injections and a $3500 total bill, I had a new tooth. It did not feel like the old one, but it remains functional. I now take better care of my teeth.

Both times, a hole was uncovered.

What I have here is not a mess, a “stage” or a “sticky situation”, it’s a hole.

A hole is best characterized by it’s size, shape, covering and the thing that is missing from it, what has been taken out, or what, indeed, has not been there to begin with.

The hole is big, bigger than I thought.

It is deep, shaped like a water well, with a little space to sit down at the bottom. It is dark in there. It is very easy to fall into, as there is no guard rail on the outside, no “keep out” sign. There is a frayed rope ladder that can be used to get out of it.

It has been dug over years, sometimes forgotten about, sometimes made deeper.

It has had a plank put over the top of it, to cover it up and stop myself or anyone else accidentally falling in. The plank was made of fragile chipboard, and, with rain and weather, it has become mouldy and fragile. It had been thick, thick enough for somebody to jump on, but it has now become thin.

A couple of times, the plank got holes in it.

With increasing intensity, objects were thrown into the hole to make it less deep. Expensive objects, large objects, grand objects.

Large, complex objects did not fill that particular hole very well. They would for a little while, but the objects shifted and left large gaps in between. The objects were not stable, and disintegrated quickly. Lots of food and wine was thrown down the hole to plug the gaps.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

I initially avoided visiting the hole, because it was generally not a nice place. However, because it was in a state of disrepair I started making a few trips down into and around the hole. I wanted to see what the damage was, and what might be best to fill it in.

It was scary down there; dark and lonely. Claustrophobic. I could not be in there for very long at a time.

So afraid of being alone, I invited, dragged other people down there with me to keep me company. I pay some people to visit the hole, but, strangely, I am not good at taking them down there.

I got used to sitting in there a little while, by myself. It was cold and dirty, and smelled dank, but I got used to it.

I was frightened of the dark in there. Then I learned that the best way to stay in there a while was to close my eyes, and let the cold and dark envelope me for a while. I would then stand up and dust myself off.

I learned that I could use the frayed rope ladder to climb out. With the plank on top, I had neglected the rope ladder badly. Occasionally, I sit on the side of the well, pull the ladder up, and apply duct tape to the frayed parts, to make it strong again. I have become good at climbing up the ladder. Over time, I have become more able to negotiate the ladder with agility and strength.

I am making semi-regular visits to the hole. It is never that pleasant, but it is bearable. I am getting to know the hole intimately, it’s size, shape and dimensions.

Coming up is good. Sometimes the outside is rainy, sometimes cloudy. The sun does not come out very often, but when it does, it dazzles me, and I have to squeeze my eyes shut. I disliked the rain and learned to feel content when it was cloudy. It was reassuring to see a ray of sunlight through the clouds, but I am not quite ready for the full force of the sun. Perhaps I feel I don’t deserve the sun. But, saying that out loud, I know that does not make sense. Experiencing darkness, I need the light.

I learned that I must take a torch into the hole, to illuminate it. I’ve learned that the mobile phone reception is not always good down there.

I often have to take some music down there, as it makes the time down there infinitely more bearable.

I did some interior design in the hole, to make it a bit more homely.

Occasionally, I get stuck down there, and get panicky. At these times, I scream for somebody to help. Sometimes people come; these are not always the ones that I expect to see. Sometimes nobody comes. Sometimes I hear the voice of somebody I know well yell down “there in a minute”, but they don’t come.

Each time this happens, though, I manage to scramble out. Sometimes only by the skin of my teeth, but I get out.

For a long while, I had a male who hung around the hole. He watched the plank rot, watched me struggle to repair it, but never actively helped with it. He watched me fall down into the hole, but never quite caught me. When I first started spending a bit of time in there, I called for him, but he was elsewhere and didn’t hear me. After a while, as I got more comfortable in and around the hole, I stopped needing him there.

After spending a lot of time filling the hole with large objects, and having them not fill the hole properly, I had a thought. Maybe there was room for others to hang around the hole. I desperately set about trying to find people to help me fill or cover the hole, but quickly realised that there was no use. The hole is deep, and there is really only room for me at the bottom of it. The landscape around it is treacherous, too.

Some serious renovations in and around the hole are required. They will be expensive, risky and take time, but will be worth it.

I need to count on doing them by myself, but if other people are walking past with a shovel and a pick, and look qualified, then I will let them work with me. I will need to watch that they are not making a bigger mess than when I started. They have to help and not hinder the renovation project.

I must always shine a light inside the hole, so I can see where I am going.

I should visit it often, and keep it tidy and maintained.

The hole will be filled with small, regular objects that pack closely together and do not shift, and provide a stable surface on which to raise the bottom of the hole.

I will dig at the sides of it, to make the opening wider. Soon, it will be more like a valley than a well, contiguous with the surrounding landscape.

I will also carefully cultivate the surrounding landscape.

When the sun shines on the renovated hole, light will automatically reach the bottom, and beautifully illuminate the surrounding landscape.

Piss elegance.

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This is my 500th Post.

A big Saturday in Cilla-ville.

First was running training, with Carol’s patented torture method of what I lovingly describe as “Bitch Pyramid”.

Squats, Lunges, Pushups, situps, tricep dips, and running up and down hills. By crikey I am sore today, and I could barely lift my arms after. Still, if it hurts, it works.

Then out with MelGazelle for walkies and lunch, she is finally back on her feet after a complication of IVF treatment that made her very ill indeed. She loves her exercise and has not been allowed to. She is not allowed caffiene, alcohol, exercise, nor any more tawdry pleasures. She is feeling rather ratty, and I was glad to provide distraction.

The afternoon was spent napping – I need my rest. A massage, where I surfed some alpha waves (look that up) and got some tight bits kneaded.

Then I had a friend’s 40th birthday party to go to – M lives with his (male) partner D and they are quite wealthy from a side business that they run in addition to M’s doctoring. The dress code read “Piss Elegant”. I did not know what that meant. I went for sophisticated with a touch of saucy minx. There were lots of diamantes on people. Hey, I want to wear the real thing or not at all.

It was fun, the party. It was crawling with doctors, most of whom I knew, peripherally. I got to schmooze with some people. Never know where it might come in handy.

The entertainment was in the form of drag queens, it was super funny. Made all the more funny by the yummy drinks – the champagne, the cocktails. There were very nice canapes, too. These were served by some eye-candy waiters who were supposedly hand picked by D. Don’t know whether they were gay or straight but their little wink at me when they served me up alcohol said they were probably the latter.

I had quite a bit to drink. It was there, it was good, so I drank it. I was feeling fine, mildly tipsy, and had a second cocktail, some vodka and lychee combination. That killed me. Never mix your grape and your grain, they say. It is never promising when you need to hold on to the wall to stay balanced.

I went and had a little sit on the couch at the back. That didn’t work, so I insouciantly flipped my heels off and curled up on my side.

I thought “oh, shit, I am drunk, how the fuck will I get home?” I tried to lift my head, and it was too hard.

Alcohol in large quantities brings forth some more melancholy thoughts. I felt my heart aching, twisting, bits shattering off it. I sat in the dark hole for a bit, cried on the inside. I did not spew, thank god.

I felt a pat on my shoulder – it was M. I slurred “could I have a drink of water please?”

Minutes later one of the hot cater guys helped me sit up and helped me sip some water. Rescue #1.

I texted a friend to come and pick me up. I did not think they would be able to, but I texted anyway.

Slowly, after many stern instructions to myself to “sober the fuck up”, I got up and re-circulated. LEGEND! My voice was a bit slurred but I was walking quite steadily, even on stilettos.

I spoke to a few people. Found myself in the path of a gentleman called Tom. Tom introduced himself and very rapidly proceeded to ask me to go for a drink after the party. I politely declined and walked away. I thought, “shit, somebody get me out of here”. I spoke to a few more people. Sobered up a bit more. Drank some more water.

I got a text on my phone – “am outside”. Rescue #2. Fantastic.

Parties are great (especially with hot waiters), Champagne is awesome, schmoozing is fabulous, but having people look out for you is better still.

Conversations with my headshrinker

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I did the rush around town today – Heidelberg to Richmond to Broadmeadows.

Hell, anybody who does that driving regularly would need extensive therapy (anger management).

But it was a regular visit to the little Vietnamese fellow who doles out my happy pills.

I have been seeing him for over 3 years now, and we had a good rapport till recently. Let me just say that he was very taken aback by recent turns of events. Probably because I had given him no warning about them (shit, man, I could not even admit things to myself).

He is coming around, and I am coming around to him, again. It takes trust.

He recently gave me a few days off, as things were getting a bit much. He asked me what I did during the days off.

I said “ummm, I dunno, not much. Got a bikini wax….”

He blushed bright red and giggled like a little schoolboy. FFS.

I idly wondered what would happen if I had, for argument’s sake, said that I had a BRAZILIAN bikini wax. Just theoretically.

I think his head might have exploded.

That would be a good sketch for a show like Ally McBeal or Offspring or Sex and the City.

P.S. I ran 6.4km yesterday. Need to find my long-run pace again.

I missed my Third Birthday…

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I started the blog 3 years ago, on 17th August 2008.

Started with a depression, a burgeoning running habit.

An ongoing lack of confidence in my own skin. Always vowing to go on a diet, and then slipping up. Exercising, sometimes for the love of it, mostly to obliterate calories. This blog was the forum for that struggle. On reflection, it was a bit sad. On the surface, though, I had it all – great job, married, nice home in good suburb.

Things started to change last year. I started to look at the reasons why I was overeating. Defences, mainly eating and shopping and shooting my mouth off, were chipped away and much more uncomfortable truths were exposed.

Another bout of depression, early this year. I started running again. I managed to recover from the depression, start a research career, become a consultant, a “boss”. I signed up for a marathon. Lots of quite big things, both achieved and planned. I approached these things with increasing intensity, trying to stifle the alarm bells ringing. The feeling that soon, my life would be over. That I had to make the most of it all now, because, in the future, I had to get used to feeling empty and unfulfilled.

The work and effort gave way to “Why? WHY???”

I think all of my readers know what came next.

Rather than just whinging about my weight and what size jeans I wore, I actually had to have a very good hard look at myself, my life. What role certain others played in that life.

The blog became much less of a forum for body image neurosis, and more about bigger and more disconcerting things. Some nice things, too. I realise it may make for more uncomfortable reading, and I thank everyone for bearing with me. It represents the tip of the iceberg. It is free therapy, in addition to the $$ spent on formal therapy! And you, my friends, are my mini-therapists.

The blog has helped me integrate my past traumas/depression into myself. It has charted my struggles and victories. It has helped me make some fantastic, very dear friends. I have had nearly 25000 hits (not all of them me), made nearly 500 posts, had over 1300 comments. Not one of them discouraging or nasty  – fingers crossed, this continues.

The running is still there, but the depression and eating/body image issues are not, at least, at the moment. I am near my lowest adult weight, and close to the arbitrary number I had set three years ago. However, now, the number matters much less. I feel comfortable and sexy in my own skin, I have control around food and have learned to love good food without abusing it. I have reconciled my love of food and wine with my need for physical health. I do not shop compulsively.

I have really learned that I cannot have enough of what I don’t want, and started figuring out what I actually want, and what really matters. Perhaps, for the first time ever, I feel like everything will be alright.

This is very liberating.

Happy third birthday, blog. May there be many more. Like a toddler, I am responding to base needs – eating, sleeping and crying when I need to (within reason), and learning to be nurtured. I am finding my spirit and independence and building it from the ground up.

Getting through.

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Mondays are PhD /clinical trials days.

First thing in the morning I see trial participants. This produces a head of steam.

Today, that head of steam was short lived. I contemplated going back home to bed; the fatigue and lassitude from an overdone weekend was lingering, and, by 11am, I was the mayoress of struggletown. Indeed, without deadlines or anything “solid” to do, it is all too easy to give in to impulses to sleep.

The feeling of fatigue intensified, then passed. I went to morning tea. Sat in the sun and listened to some music on my iPhone. Did some actual work! Had some lunch. Phoned a friend. The tired feeling came back after lunch. It is harder to resist when there is no imperative to do anything immediately, no adrenaline rush.

This is a time where, previously, I would have eaten something. Inhaled the leftover cake that was sitting on the table, and most of the chocolate with it. Had a quick spike in energy, with even bigger crash. I was not hungry, though.

I went and had a nap in my car. I dozed off on my back seat, listening to birds squawk in gum trees. Meanwhile, the sun beat down on the car. I left the door open, and hoped, as I dozed off, that nobody would catch me snoozing. My feet were hanging out of the back door – a telltale sign.

I woke up an hour later, as the car became too hot. I rubbed my eyes and wandered back into the lab and was greeted by one of my colleagues. She said “hello there”, to which I replied sheepishly “I just had a nap in my car”.

She giggled and said “Yes, Sal does that. So does Jia. So do I, occasionally.”

I was actually able to do some work then. More surprising, my mum rang, and I had a conversation with her that did not result in me wanting to take my eyeballs out with a fork!

It is a different kind of job for me; most people have gazetted time to do this or that, whereas my time is a bit more fluid, when I am not scheduled to see patients. I really have to go with the ebb and flow; to work when I have the energy and inspiration, and  to rest when I am tired.

How does everyone else get through the day at work/study when they are tired/distracted/otherwise struggling? Surrepititious snooze, internet shopping (or porn), coffee, spearfishing in the fridge/vending machine, just hardening up, imagining causing injury to disliked colleagues?

Save-Cilla #2.

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A busy week, a frenetic Friday with only time for a Big M for lunch, a difficult phone call from mum. It was followed by a very enjoyable but very busy weekend. This involved a karaoke session with girlfriends, running training, brunch with a girlfriend, an enjoyable Saturday night out (with some further sleep deprivation), followed by a lovely brunch out in the sun in great company. A nanna nap then a sublime massage.

All great stuff.

Yet I am tired and feeling rather drained. I have a busy week ahead, filled with appointments, deadlines.

The temptation is to keep busy at this time, as it would seem preferable to sitting at home navel-gazing. “Getting on with things” has been my major drive.

There is a scream and yell from the outside world. Things to do. People to see. Excitement to be had. I want to be in on it, goddamit, I deserve to be happy and feel excited. I have become “busy and important”, and it is rather exhilarating.

Yet this noise can threaten to drown out the little whisper of “hey, take it easy, man, slow down”. The noise can make it hard to see the writing on the wall that I am at risk of being overwhelmed. I am burning the candle at both ends, and have actually lacked the time or inclination to sleep and eat properly.

Sitting at home, exhausted, starving hungry, lacking the energy to go and procure food. Tears come easily, as does the feeling that I may indeed lose the plot, and I must not. I am an adult and, during these times, I feel like an over-wrought toddler. The desire to fling myself to the floor like an over-wrought toddler can be overwhelming.

I would love for somebody to come and scoop me up and look after me during these times, to cook me dinner and give me a cuddle and tuck me into bed. We cannot always have what we want, unfortunately.

A few things I really need to do:

  • avoid sleep deprivation strictly. No matter how exciting the time that induced the sleep deprivation, I invariably feel shit with it. I need a solid 8 hours most nights to keep a lid on things.
  • Quarantine time to do “mindless” things as a priority – reading my fluffy novels, taking the dog for a leisurely stroll, watching funny shows on DVD, taking myself out for tightarse monday movies.
  • Eating 3 meals per day, and having food in the house to make even if I am tired. Baked beans. Soup. I have taken to popping berocca. (Despite this, though, I managed to scrape together a decent dinner tonight)
  • It is tempting to drink alcohol to take the edge off, but it takes increasing quantities to do this when wound up. I need to be careful.
  • Keeping those who give me the urge to take my eyeball out with a fork at arms length, even if those people happen to be my flesh and blood. Conversely, keeping close the people who bring forth my best, calm, serene self.

I do not need a cup of Concrete to Harden The Fuck Up, I need a cup of Take It Easy, Dude. I need to brew it up myself, carefully and lovingly.

If I expect V8 performance, I need to fill the tank with premium.

If you see me, gently remind me of this. It is not intuitive for me.

I like Britney, so sue me.

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This is one of my favourite songs at the moment. Britney, pre- inappropriate husband, children, boyfriends, head shaving or breakdown. I am not ashamed.

I love the dance moves. I love the rhythm. I love that I can easily sing in tune to it. I would KILL for that midriff.

(I don’t like the pout or the outfits, just to get that straight).

I really like the opening line:

I NEED…..Joy, love, space, time…I NEED…me.

So true. Poetry.