Cyclic Love

We were driving back from grocery shopping, the heat from the 2pm sun piercing the windscreen while the cool of the air conditioning battled it valiantly. We had shopped for a week, stocked up on some things we had run out of and tried to plan for a week of meals cooked in a little apartment where the only door with a screen and airflow faced the super-heated western sun.

I was cosy, next to my wife in the car. Other drivers had melted away, we were were the only car on the road. Coming to a stop at the traffic lights we were first in the queue. On the opposite side of the road a woman road her bike athletically, fitness and endurance were an obvious part of her make up. She cruised with ease across the crossing and turned her bike toward the other crossing, waiting, like me, for the lights to change.

Seconds behind her was a man on a bike, his helmet askew, his black sleeveless t-shirt revealing freckled skin, red and hot from exertion. He rode with the awkwardness of a man who was unused to cycling. His mounting of the curb was tentative and deliberate.

We speculated, my wife and I, as to their relationship. Were they friends, housemates, on a date, starting as a couple or long-term partners? The obvious thing was his regard for her. She had inspired this unfit man to jump on an ill-fitting bike in the middle of a hot Canberra day to go for a ride.

His face, that of a pale red-head more suited to dreary skies and colder climes, broke into a beaming smile as, between gasping breathes, he spoke to her and swung his borrowed bike around. She smiled back, encouraging. The lights changed, I drove forward, leaving them to struggle up the hill. The gleaming woman and the dreaming man.

Ch_ch_ch_changes

Hello! Are you still there? I’m sure no one is reading this now. Over 12 months with not a scrap from me. 

I’ve, we’ve, been a bit busy. Firstly I am writing this from a different city. Well, a city, as opposed to a small country town. Not just any city. The capital of Australia. No, not Sydney. Canberra – the Bush Capital. The good wife and I moved here in very late December last year. One day before NYE. We packed all of our remaining furniture and the dog and the cat and drove all day. Why? 

Well, you see, Caitlin applied to the Australian National University to complete their Master program in Science Communication Outreach. It was a highly competitive application process and she had to fly up for an interview where she performed her own science show. That was August last year. Now, a year later, Caitlin is travelling around Central Australia doing science workshops and learning a hella lot of stuff and I’m working for a heath advocacy peak body to keep our heads above water. 


We only found out in October and the course started in late January of this year, so it was a huge effort to get ready. We were living in a three bedroom house full of stuff, our stuff, number one daughter’s stuff, other people’s stuff. We sold and gave away a whole lot of it on the swap, buy and sell sites. That was fun and mildly profitable. That went toward our move and paint the house so we could rent it out to other people. It was a very busy time. In between we had to pop up to Canberra and find a new place to live that would allow us to have our geriatric animals. We found a little one bedroom place with a court yard and signed on the dotted line.

My mum helped us with the move, she shared the driving with us so I wouldn’t turn into a writhing ball of pain again. That was fantastic of her. Oh, and did I tell you that we hosted Christmas at our place too!? No, I think I forgot to mention that. That was hilarious, there was both sides of the family there and lots of food and wine. They stayed over from Horsham and Newcastle and then left three days before we did! 

So it is eight months down the track and we are both enjoying the opportunities that the move has afforded us. Who knows what will come around the corner, we certainly don’t, but while we are here we will certainly take advantage of the good food, music, theatre, festivals and general fun on offer. We’ve met great people, made new friends, kept up with the old ones and created a little niche. The course finishes in November. Our lease ends in December and the way forward is not clear. I hope a pathway starts to appear sooner rather than later. 

Maybe they’ll be another post, maybe there won’t. Pop back to see.

Not quite six months, the frequency is getting better

And so we have another hiatus; no apologies, no grovelling excuses, I’m just going to say it – it’s not you, it’s me. I’m a real commitment-phobe when it comes to writing. It’s a poor reason, I know, but I can only come to this conclusion as I made a promise to myself and you and then, here we are, months later, with me re-engaging with my writing having done nothing for months.

I said last time that I was writing a journal in earnest, well that turned out to be a great big lie. I am supposed to use the journal to explore my inner thoughts, conflicts and turmoils as I journey along a leadership program with a group of other community leaders. It’s been an abysmal failure. I have realised that I only write for myself when there is trouble – trouble in my life and trouble in my mind. The program has not really disrupted my equilibrium. Well, not in such a way as to make me take to the book. There has been some conflict but it is mostly me against the constricts of the program and there ain’t no journaling that will fix that. I must just shrug my shoulders and take what I can from the offerings. 

I have written essays though; many, many essays. This has entailed much reading and thinking and immersion in the topic. Coupled with my work, my leadership program, my mentoring duties and trying to have a life, the essays have been passable. “Journalistic,” was one critique. I think that was meant to spur me to greater academic heights, I took it as a compliment and shrugged off the less than ideal mark. I passed, no one is really going to care, unless I want to go on to do a PhD (hahahahaha, are you serious?).

My novel? Have I progressed there? “What novel?”you say. Exactly, what novel. I have grandiose ideas. I may even have a passable story to tell. Have I written anything much lately? No, just tinkering around the edges. Is it a novel, a memoir, a short story, a confessional, a self-help book, an autobiography rich with personal detail? I don’t know! I’m in the research stage, checking out scenarios, possibilities, probabilities and reasons. I need to speak with family to round out some ideas but it’s proving to be difficult for me. Shame is a strong emotion.

I’ve made some other progress, though. I’ve been walking the dog most days until the awful weather set in, even Managed a quick one between the showers of today. I’m still not feeling very fit, so I went to the old swim/fitness centre with the new owners and I’m pleased to see that there have been marked improvements in the cleanliness. I might even get in the pool now and try to build some stamina and fitness. 

All in all I’m doing ok. Might check in with you soon. No promises now, though. I could be writing the great Australian novel.m

So sorry, been busy, that’s no excuse, I know. 

I’m sorry, dear reader, so dreadfully sorry. There I was promising you and myself that I’d write frequently and keep my writing muscles in fine form and then I desert you and write nothing for months. Well there was that one blog post I started and then finished a month later and then WordPress updated and deleted it. That was disappointing. One person read it and then it was gone. I broke new ground with it, pushed my literary limits, and then the internetz lost it! I couldn’t replicate it, my heart wasn’t in it and my head was angry, so instead I sulked. Yes, that’s right, this silence has been one big sulk.

Well I’m back, more revealing than ever. Batten down the hatches, it’s time for more Jill-isms. Oh, just a quick update on my pain, it’s barely there. I get an occasional twinge, when I push myself too hard, but mostly nothing. I do still have occasional numbness, this is troubling but not all consuming. I’m more cautious but I’m learning to beat up on myself less and just accept that I’m doing the best I can in exercise and diet and that being healthy is about so many factors. 

Ok, back to the grovelling apology. It’s not that I’ve been idle on the writing front. I’ve had essays due and made the time frame, I’ve written poems to lovers (well just one lover because married) and penned letters to my offspring. I even wrote that other blog post, which was about names and changing names and identity and marriage, and I started journal writing in earnest (I’ve been a sporadic journaller throughout my life). So you see, I’ve been doing it but mostly not for you.  
Well I will try to be more frequently on here. Thanks to ‘hoyden about town’ for jiggling my conscience and making me do something about this. They chose one of my pieces for their online mag, it jolted me out of my complacent and forgetful bubble. 

It seems that WordPress has made some updates that make this a little more user friendly on a tablet platform too, this can only mean well for us all.

The Imagination Is A Dangerous Thing

Slowly we build. Slowly we strengthen. Slowly we find our way back to our old selves with new eyes.

I went to my last physiotherapy appointment today. I went along with few complaints, just little niggles. The last few weeks have been a revelation. I was convinced that my back pain was never going away, ever, that I’d live with this for always. Lots of physical symptoms conspired to push me into thinking that. What the physiotherapy showed me was that I was causing the continued pain not my body.

I was so bloody anxious about making sure I wasn’t exacerbating my back and bulging disc and nerve pain that I was doing exactly that; holding myself stiffly, cautiously moving, tightening the muscles around the nerve and ensuring further pain.

My recent sessions have shown that I am able to heal, able to be loose, free, careless, without permanent pain. I’m back walking the dog (though only on flat ground for now) and doing my weird little exercises. It took falling over my own feet and landing flat on my face to show me that I wasn’t as delicate as I imagined.

My physiotherapist joked that she should have just pushed me over in the first session. It was a turning point. 

It was all the chicken’s fault. Bloody naughty chicken that didn’t want to go to bed. I was convinced that I’d done damage to my back but instead there was no pain. I sobbed with fear and then realised that, aside from a bruise or two and a minor graze, I was fine. My back was okay! 

The bloody awful chairs at university are still a problem but that’s a minor hiccough in the scheme of things. I just need to stretch, release, stand, walk, to counter the nonchalance with which the university treats it’s students’ bodies.

I’ve driven to Melbourne and back and left the car feeling fine. I’ve bent to pick something up (correctly) and only felt a twinge, I’ve slept on my stomach without pain, I’ve rolled over in bed without a whimper, I put on socks without shooting pains down my leg. It’s these little victories I celebrate.

Now it’s about getting my stamina and strength back. A journey that will be longer than I hope but shorter than I imagine.

Review – Local ‘Pest Species of Speed’ Café.

Service – greeted pleasantly and then ignored while they phaffed around behind the counter for a while. I retrieved my own menus, when we fathomed that there were menus and not just the chalk board. Once I grabbed the menus the wait staff were galvanised into action and glasses and water were brought to the table. We ordered two cafe lattes and proceeded to peruse the menu.

The staff were quite prompt in returning to get our order for food. The assumption that we knew the menu, that we were not first time customers, was disconcerting but the transaction went smoothly enough.

Coffee – milk on the cool side of the dial, too cool for me. I had to overcome the urge to drink it all very quickly to avoid it becoming cold. The coffee blend was unusual, with the flavour of burnt caramel strong in the brew. This presented a confusing first impression of bitter coffee that on second tasting revealed its caramel origins.

The Specials Board – it seems that everything tastes better with bacon, even the waffles with poached rhubarb & strawberries with cream.

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The Service – there was a large group before us. I was concerned that the food might be a little while. The table we had chosen, to be away from the front door, was squashed against the stairs and the main pathway to the kitchen went past it. The other table was too close, I thought, and made the space cramped and a little claustrophobic. At 25 minutes I was beginning to worry but the food arrived just then, the wait staff plonking the plate in front of me and spilling a chip onto the table. This received a comment but not an apology from the staff. I had ordered the Rabbit Pie with chips and salad. My companion had ordered the beef burger with chips and slaw. It arrived on a chopping board, gauche and inhibiting.

The Meals – My pie was compact, quite burnt on the bottom, but tasty and well seasoned and the pastry that could be eaten was short and buttery. The accompanying tomato sauce proved too sweet for my taste. The chips were a ‘specialty’ and presented as crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle but somehow seemed processed rather than authentic. The salads with my meal were delicious; a chickpea and green bean and a rice and pumpkin. The mescaline was just that.

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Reports about the burger and slaw were largely favourable, though it was a little cool and the pumpkin bun was a bit sweet but not unpleasant. Also, the chopping board layout and the abundance or sauce made it hard to pick up. The slaw was delicious, with good dressing and tasty, sharp gherkins as a garnish.

All in all a pleasant meal with some service and presentation hiccups that need to be corrected. Of particular note was the leaving. As we got up from the table one of the staff wished us a pleasant day and kept going toward the kitchen. Another was attending to some task behind the counter. We went to pay and no one actually served us, we had to alert the staff to our presence to pay our bill and I’m sure we could have just walked out.

The Atmosphere – we had attended this relatively new café because of the excellent reviews we had heard from people. I must say, we were not that impressed with the ambience on this particular day. We had hoped we might have found our new favourite café. Not this time. Like a new wine, the first sip can be sharp and unyielding and you have to have a second gulp to capture the full flavour. We will try again and see what unfolds.

3 out of 5 stars.

Birthday Thoughts

Yesterday I became a year older. “Not a small achievement,” I thought to myself, considering I was convinced I wouldn’t make it past 40 years (I did, have, will continue).

Those were my silly 20-year-old thoughts. The ones you have where you look at your parents and believe them to be ancient. The ones where you can’t imagine growing ‘old’.

Of course, I am now older than my mother was when she became a grandmother. I am twice the age my father was when I was born. I don’t feel old, really, except when my back is sore and I’m limping along, but my mind is not that of a middle-aged woman.

My daughter doesn’t think I’m old. I’ve obviously modelled youthfulness to her. She doesn’t view being over 40 as a fate worse than death. She’s also good for my battle with body image. The thickening is happening and my inability to exercise is not assisting me in my battle to send it packing. She reminds me of all of the things I’ve said to her as she negotiates the maze of the 20s and the expectations on what women her age will look like.

There’s nothing more that I can share with you now. I need to keep things close for a while. I need to process the tumultuous times that have preceded my birthday, the twists and turns that have plagued my little family. We are all coming out the other side. Another year older, maybe wiser, not dead yet.

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Here is the delicious lemon meringue pie, made for me by my whizz-in-the-kitchen daughter, as birthday cake.