Excitement on a Friday morning

So while settling into this week’s coffice, I noticed a girl arrive at the table next to me and greet her friend with a very lingering hug. It wasn’t a romantic lingering hug, definitely purely platonic, but it hung so long it got my attention.

Then I thought, I know you. Where do I know you from?

As an expat of 7 years, the social and professional circles aren’t that huge and then both their overly expressive conversation I realised they were both actors. And in fact the woman was Diana Glenn of The Slap, Secret Life of Us and most importantly Neighbours fame. You’re a nobody unless you started on Neighbours.

200px-Diana_GlennI’m usually so rubbish with Aussie celebs but I’m quite excited by this one. I LOVED Secret Life of Us and the fact she’s here in St Kilda eating breakfast right next to me, is a bit of a thrill.

And she’s going out with sexy Rexy:

Diana Glenn and Vince Colosimo.
Diana Glenn and Vince Colosimo.

So what insider goss can I impart from my solicitous eavesdropping?

– Her little boy is very big for his age: 15 months.

– She ordered the same breakfast as me after seeing mine: Jekyll eggs, scrambled with avo on the side.

– She’s just bought a huge house in Kyneton which settles in October and she thinks she’s going to move out there for a while, but not sure. [oh to have that problem!]

Right as you were, I’d better get back to work.

5 Stages of Grief: Denial

Tuesday.

In the end it came around quickly which was a surprise. I’d also slept quite well considering, this was also a surprise. A pleasant one. As I lay in my bed, cocooned from the cold, I wished I could stay there all day. But I had a job to do. A rather big and important job which involved notifying 35 doctors their roles were being made redundant. That was after telling the clinic we were being sold to new owners. No amount of spin and promise of consultation or reassurance could mitigate the fact that the doctors were being made redundant. That pretty huge news for a small but premium national medical service where 60% of employees have more than 7 years service. It’s like a family business and today the leadership team, me included were going to burst the bubble.

I kept myself to myself that morning, sat in my office with only porridge and coffee for company. It took me ages to eat the porridge and my nervous churning stomach wasn’t allowing anything to settle long enough to digest. The coffee was quickly abandoned as all my senses were already on overdrive and all I wanted to do was pace around. Maybe I should go for a walk (and keep going until I get home). If I don’t make the announcement, then it’s not happening right?

Wrong? Unfortunately this was a polished chain of events, with identical announcements happening in clinics across Australia. I had to step up. As I ran through the script once more in my head, making little notes to acknowledge individuals, I really couldn’t picture how it was all going to unfold. How in less than 30 mins, the big secret would finally to out in the open. Nearly a year’s worth of my work culminating in 1-2 mins of statement and Q&A. It didn’t seem real.  I couldn’t visualise myself saying the words “the business has been sold” and I really didn’t know how I was going to do it. Even though I’d written the words, they weren’t really my words. The script have gone through so many iterations, tweaks and changes there wasn’t much of my work left. It just added to the feeling of detachment.

At 10:30 I was joined by a couple of members of the broader management team. We dialled into a secure teleconference, where I had to declare myself and my titles and those of my colleagues sat beside me. This wasn’t the normal way of our teleconferences and those that didn’t know what was about to happen started to look puzzled and anxious. As GM started his introduction, I followed his words through the script in front of me, wincing as he stumbled over a phrase, betraying his own nerves. I didn’t really take anything in, all I could think about was I’d have to recite this script in an hour to the clinic, face-t0-face. Must remember not to stumble where GM did – it was a tricky phrase. Not one either of us are used to and so it doesn’t fall off the tongue easily. But let’s face it, none of this falls of the tongues easily. As my colleagues around me reacted and the questions began, I couldn’t focus. In a full on anxiety grip, I could feel my heart beating in my throat, I was starting to sweat and overheat. But my hands felt cold and clammy. I felt light-headed and on the verve of tears. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want this to happen. But it’s happening. The management team have been told, the secret is out and there’s no going back now.

11pm. I’m pacing and drinking so much water, I think I might drown. A quick congratulatory call to GM and I tell him I feel sick. It feels better once it’s out apparently. The relief is overwhelming. Make sure you’ve got a chair or somewhere to sit down nearby as afterwards, all you feel is exhaustion. He hangs up ready to repeat his task in Sydney. I get Good Luck texts from colleagues in Perth and Canberra reminding us we’re all in this together and it’s just a band aid. Rip it off and it’ll all be over.

But I don’t want it to be over.

I head out of my office into and people have already started to gather. The clinic has closed and staff and getting into position. There’s lots of intrigue over what’s so important to close the clinic. A few staff try to catch my eye to see if I’ll give anything away and I bolt to the bathroom. I’m so nervous and anxious I feel sick but when I get to the toilet there’s nothing to come up. Instead I sit on the loo and give myself a pep talk. Close my eyes and slow my breathing. Focus on the breathing not on the heart hammering in your throat. Soon enough the heart starts to simmer down and I feel less light-headed. I wash my hands, take a good look at myself in the mirror and joke that the only thing people are going to be paying attention to is the huge spot which has appeared on my face. I can do this. Just read the script and it’ll be over soon.

Something happened as I emerged through the bathroom door, it’s like autopilot kicked in. I grabbed myself another glass of water, collected my scripts and notes and asked everyone to gather round. After taking a sip of water, I launched into it. you might have guessed I was nervous and I couldn’t resist going off-script a bit. After, I asked for any questions. Of course, they didn’t kill the messenger. Of course they didn’t point and call me names. They worried about themselves and their mortgages and their long service leave and whether they’d still get a discount on the health insurance. I despatched everyone off for lunch, keeping the doctors back, I read out the statement and handed out their formal notice. We then dialled into another teleconference – because despite being super intelligent they are incapable of pressing numbers and following instructions – where HR reiterated their position. Some were shocked, some saw it coming. Most immediately disappeared into their consult rooms to calculate their packages. Two came over and gave a hug and thanked me. Apparently I had poise. All I felt like was jelly, GM was right about the wave of relief. I wandered back to my office, shaking almost uncontrollably.

It was done. It was finally happening. I ate a sandwich and opened the schedule on my computer. Internal comms done, now for external comms.

Life goes on.

Foodie Review: Frank and Ginger

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I must have driven past this place a gazillion times and never paid it much attention but following our little visit last weekend, I suspect I shall be paying more attention in the future. PRP and Frosty have just moved to a very grown up love nest nearby – it’s a house, with a garden and 3 bedrooms and EVERYTHING! And WROS lives around the corner. With Caulfield North also on my shopping list when it comes to house hunting, I think Frank and Ginger has the potential of becoming our regular hang out.

Who knew suburbia could produce such a gem. Certainly the best avo-feta smash with poached eggs I’ve had in a long time. The portion sizes were very generous, so much so that even I, with the appetite of a man, still wasn’t hungry by dinner time. PRP has the granola, which immediately gave me food envy. I’ll be having that next time.

The outdoor setting was perfect for a sunny winter Sunday, but could be restrictive on colder/cloudier days. I didn’t see how much seating inside they could accommodate. WROS isn’t a massive fan of the coffee, which I agree isn’t up to my local Miss Jackson’s standards. But Frank and Ginger beat them in the food stakes easily.

Spooky Lady

Now don’t go judging me, but this is actually my 3rd trip to see spooky lady. A local clairvoyant of notoriety. Most of the crew have been to see her, with mixed results. My readings have been pretty accurate. There are definitely things that she could have guessed, but then there’s been the pearls that there is info there’s just no way she would know. Like my dead grandmother’s favourite colour and penchant for wearing more than one cardigan and endless strings of beans.

It’s been about 3 or 4 years since I last saw her but recently I’ve been feeling like wherever I turn there’s a brick wall. With work, with men, trying to sell and buy property with the backdrop of redundancy, not having had a holiday in over a year and of course studying. I’d let life get the upper hand again and I just needed a bit of reassurance from a complete stranger that it was all going to OK. I’d spend $100 on a massage to make myself feel better, it would cost more to speak to psychologist so Spooky Lady seemed a suitable choice. OK? Justification made? Well get to the juicey bits.

Within seconds of me sitting down we’d already begun, cards were shuffled and chosen. This isn’t the verbatim but it’s pretty close.

“You are  at a stage of rebirth. You’ve gone through a long period of reflection and You’re ready to start the next chapter of your life. But there’s a lot of anxiety. You’ve been in a dark place but you know there’s light at the end of tunnel. You’ve been in tougher spots in your life and you need to keep the faith. Remember to keep the faith”

I nearly burst out laughing at this point as “Keep the faith” is what WW and I say to each other all the time.

“So what’s all the anxiety about? It’s something to do with your Mum. You’re Mum is coming through very clearly but she’s not happy. She’s had some bad news and she’s not handling it. She’s in her own world but she’s quite angry. Does this make sense?”

Erm, yes Mum’s recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and she’s having problems accepting it.

“I’m so sorry to hear that. Yes, I think that’s why she’s in her own world because she feels safe there and she’s blocking everyone out. She’s been getting lost. Where does she live? It’s not London but there’s a London connection. She’s in a small village, she’s very happy in her village. There’s a pub with a sign hanging from the door next to a small roundabout? She’s been going for walks but sometimes gets lost. She likes it there though. I think she’s going to move. Not yet, but in a few years. Maybe that’s where London comes in. Does this make sense?”

Yes, you described Mum’s village and she has been getting lost in the village. My sister lives in London.

“That’s the London connection. There’s a lot of anxiety there. You’re Mum is very angry. She is struggling to handle it all because she doesn’t have the tools but she’s not being honest with you or herself. She wants to be the strong one. She’s very angry with your Dad. Does he live with her?”

No they divorced.

“She’s still very angry with him though. And she’s angry at her family. She feels bitter that this is happening to her. She doesn’t want to move but she will. Does she want to come over here?”

We’ve talked about it. I’d like her to come over one more time.

“There’s definitely an overseas trip. But something will happen on the trip that will make her realise she needs more help and stop fighting. The trip with be tough though. There is so much love surrounding her though. Even through there’s anxiety and a lot of tension between your sister and Mum there’s so much love. There are  a lot of people looking over her. There’s a female relative – not her Mum, her Mum and Dad are there looking out for her but maybe a favourite Aunty. She is there every night watching over her. Despite her anger towards her family she is so loved and she needs to be told. She’s not being completely truthful with you and your sister. Is everything else OK with her health?”

I think so, I suspect she’s got diabetes but…

“I’m not sure if there are other health problems but you are the compassionate daughter, your sister is more direct and so she’s telling you different things. You need to keep a united front with your sister but also remain compassionate as she’ll tell you more than she’ll tell your sister. Tell her you love her more and make her feel useful”

“So what else are you anxious about?”

Work. Relationships – or lack of relationships…

“Well we’ll come to love later. Work wise. Oh my goodness there’s lots of changes. It’s not just one person, they are changing the whole department. Do you want to stay or will you get a package?”

I don’t know really.

“I can’t see that you’ll get a package but it’s a long drawn out thing. It all starts in 8 days and will be completed in the 9th month.”

At this point I nearly fall off my chair. The announcement that my business area was being sold off was scheduled for 8 days time and we were working to a transition date of sometime in September. There are only a handful of people who knew this level of info. Mind blown!

“I don’t think you’re going to get a package though. Do you want to work in insurance? There’s job there for you in insurance if you want it, but I don’t think you do, no I think you’ll end up in a medical company. Oh you might get some money but I don’t think it’s substantial. Are you moving house? Where do you live?”

Laughing now. I’m in St Kilda and I’m thinking of moving. I’m selling a place in London.

“Yes, I think you’re going to move on from St Kilda, it’s served it’s purpose. I think you might move to Port Melbourne. Or maybe it’s Elwood. It’s an old exterior but modern interior, but you need a house with curves, that’s why I think Port Melbourne’s not quite right, it’s too boxy and the negative energy bounces from from the walls. You’re better suited to curves as you’re creative. Life’s all been a bit too serious of you recently, you need to get fun back into your life. More colour and creatively. You’re very creative but you’re stopped writing. Your friend told you to start writing again, and she’s right. Make time for fun and use your creativity. The curves will help.”

I’m not sure what the curves thing was about but PRP very recently told me to start writing again and turn this blog into a book. Spooky.

“The place you are selling don’t accept the first offer or a very low offer. Keep the faith. It’s in a good area and it’s worth more. Don’t just sell to get rid of it. It’s worth hanging on for a higher offer. It will come. Maybe that’s the payout rather than the job.”

I didn’t tell her but I’ve already accepted an offer on the flat in London. The first offer I had through was low, much lower than I wanted. Then 6 weeks later I got a higher offer – which is the one I’ve accepted. And yet again with the Keep The Faith!

“You study as well or are you thinking about it?”

I do study. Online. I’m studying psychology.

“No wonder you are anxious with so much on your plate, but don’t stop studying. You enjoy it, and you’re good at it. You need to have more faith in your ability. You’re getting good grades but doubt your ability all the time. Stop stressing about getting top marks but enjoy the process. This is going to good for you. You get a lot of enjoyment from this and will be show in the future. You will be good at this. I can see you on a campus though. Perhaps you’ll look at accelerating your studies to finish quicker by going to campus or maybe work part-time, maybe the finances will allow you to do this.”

This is the dream. I didn’t say anything to her but I’d love to work PT and study more. Not sure how the finances will work though. PRP is also alway chastising me for stressing so much over uni, when I’m getting pretty good grades.

“Or maybe you’ll get some money back when you trade in your car. Are you thinking of changing your car?”

No I love my car

“Ah, well it’s due it’s service and it’s going to be expensive so you might think about changing it.”

“And how’s your back?”

OK

“You need to make to strong again. It’s gotten weaker. You’re not as strong as you were, but you’re working on that.”

“There’s a baby coming.”

Erm, my sister’s pregnant.

“I don’t think it’s her. Although that explain why she’s short tempered with your Mum. A close friend is having a baby. You’ll be very close to the baby and you’ll do lots of babysitting so your friends can go out. You’ll help out a lot. So onto love….”

Now we’re talking…

“You might cross paths with an ex. I don’t think it’s unfinished business but he’s going to crop up again. You were really quite keen on him but he couldn’t give you what you wanted. Are you still in touch?”

No

“There was a woman in his past. He’s not reconciled it or dealt with it and it’s stopping him committing. It’s a shame, but sometimes that happens. Oh, yes he’s definitely damaged and hasn’t dealt with his demons.”

That would be Posh Boy then. I hope I don’t cross paths or anything will him again, I don’t think I could trust myself but I know he’s not good for me.

“There’s definitely someone coming along soon. Do you do online dating?”

Yes

“Yes you dip in and out and you’ll continue to do that. But you’re very cautious these days. This isn’t a bad thing. You’ve learnt all your lessons and you’re ready. You’ve done all the hard work and you just want the man now.”

YES

“There’s definitely one coming soon. You’ll meet on RSVP. Make a wish, shuffle the cards and choose 3 cards”

I lay out three cards and she looks at them and laughs.

“What did you wish for?”

Love and babies

There you go. Love [2 cards with men] and babies [family card]. Looks like you might have a choice of men. He’s a talker. He likes to talk and uses his mind a lot for his job. He’s an expert in his profession. And your child is going to be a talker just like their Dad.”

So let’s see if comes true. There’s enough truth in there about work and Mum for me to believe she has some some sort of gift. Let’s just hope the talkative man who’s an expert in his field turns up soon.

My Zoo Affliction

Back in the days of The One I Thought Was The One, I fantasised about romantic day trips to the zoo. Strolling around hand in hand, making up names and personalities for the animals, providing them with storylines and voices, we’d narrative their lives from the safety of our vantage points. Eating ice-creams and hot chocolates. Revisiting our childhoods whilst trying to out do each other on the ‘Did you know?’ fact front. The reality never lived up to the fantasy. Twice we went to London Zoo and both times we had such vicious rows, we nearly split up by the end of the day. I can’t remember why or what caused the arguments but I do remember him sanctioning a zoo date ban to protect the longevity of our relationship.

So perhaps I should have been wary when Marty McFly suggested going to the zoo for our next date. Marty McFly was my last eHarmony date. Once again, I’d forgotten to properly cancel my membership by stopping my direct debit in time and so had another 3 months of perfectly eligible matches sent to me, yet since they’ve decided to remove the height filter from the selection criteria, all significantly shorter than me. And then, just as I was above to lose all faith, Marty McFly sent me an email. At 45, he was at the top end of my age criteria, but he was funny, smart and keen to meet in the real world. I said yes.

He played it strategically, setting up a date at Ca De Vin at 5pm on a Saturday. Good venue choice. Very Melbourne in that romantic, outdoors but not laneway kind of way. 5pm. Late enough to allow alcohol but not too late to squander a valuable Saturday night if I turned out to be a dud. I liked his thinking and his taking control of the situation. First impressions were a bit iffy, he text me 30 mins early to say he’d arrived and had got a table. Er that’s a bit keen isn’t it? And sent me into a fluster as I’d not even left the flat! When I did arrive, bang on 5pm, he looked thankfully exactly like his picture. Lacking hair, but his maturity and confidence shone through as he swiftly ordered a fab Shiraz, and after looking me up and down, asked for the bottle. Clearly I’d passed the first test and was worth than just a glass of wine. I started to relax. Halfway through the bottle, we decided to eat – 2nd test passed. Conversation was easy, he asked lots of questions. Lots of questions, at points it did feel a bit interview-esque as he grilled and grilled me over why I’d moved to Oz, how I coped without my family, if I was ever homesick. But I didn’t mind, it was like he was doing his due diligence. After a wholesome Italiano supper he suggested a nightcap at Stokehouse bar. Very civilised. He suggest date 2 at the zoo and I really started to relax. He liked me, he wasn’t going to play games. He said he’d had a nice time, did an awkward miss kiss thing as I turned my cheek. So far so good.

The next day he followed up with a text suggesting the zoo the following weekend but also dinner during the week. Keen. I liked it, he was chasing. It’s been a while since anyone chased me. Date #2 was supposed to be MOO bar but due to flooding and closure for renovations we went to The Trust. I’d been there before on a date but was hoping this would be more successful. And it was. We picked up where we’d left off the previous weekend, setting the world to rights conversations. What would you do if you won the lottery? If an alien ship landed and offered to show you the galaxy would you go if it meant never seeing your friends and family again? If you had a super power what would it be? If you could live forever what would you do? I loved it. We challenged each other but broadly agreed on most things. The food and wine was good, company intense but stimulating. By 10.30pm on a school night I was ready for bed and had to make my excuses. He walked me to the tram stop, went in for the snog. Not great, but the tram arrived so I left him wanting more as he locked in Saturday for the zoo.

Date #3 the zoo. My adversary. I should have known better. It took me ages to get there due to Melbourne public transport doing a ‘London underground’ and scheduling work all weekend. I arrived 10 mins late and all a bit flustered. I hate being late. He was waiting patiently in a flat cap. Up until that moment I don’t think I was that invested, I was relieved to not be dismissed, as I so often am, on date 1, I’d just enjoyed the banter of date 2. I hadn’t really put much thought into physical attraction until date 3. The flat cap was a tipping point. I liked him. Maybe it just reminded me of my northern roots, or maybe it was because he took it off to greet me, sweep my flustered self into his arms and give me a big smooch. I was pretty taken aback and a bit worried about PDA situation given we were surrounded by kids. Kids shouldn’t be exposed to such things. He paid my entrance, asked me for my animal hit list, combined it with his and we ventured off, arm in arm, playing out my perfect zoo fantasy. Smooching between animals and when small children weren’t around. 4 hours flew by and it was only my plea for a coffee break in return for more smooching in the Japanese garden that made us realise the time. We only had an hour left and too many animals left to see. I wanted to see the giraffes, he wanted to see the lions. He let me have my giraffes :)

After the zoo we walked over to Lygon St and exchanged childhood stories. As the sun went down, it got colder, as did he. We walked arm in arm but he was less inclined to stop for smooches. I was fine with that, because if we stopped walking we’d freeze. At dinner, we continued the big world questions but I threw out commitment tester: What does retirement look like for you? “An old house, kids and possibly grandkids – a wife. And lots of travel with projects in-between, probably more study…” Tick. Tick. Tick. He’d nodded toward me at the mention of ‘wife’ and had mentioned family. Not that these are prerequisites but it showed some level of commitment. He asked me the same question: I said ‘partner’ instead of husband. Family would also be nice but travel, house by the beach and lots of animals would feature prominently. He agreed with the animals but, in hindsight, this was where he cooled off significantly. We finished dinner and he suggested another drink somewhere else. We went for mulled wine in some little back bar. And then suggested one last on for the road at Milk the Cow. By which stage the date had lasted 10 hours and I was starting to wonder how it would end. The smooching had stopped, he was still holding my hand but the ‘next step’ elephant hung around in every room. We started walking down Lygon St towards the city. As Northsider we weren’t far from his but it was Baltic and I’d started compulsive shivering in my leather jacket. He grabbed my hand and lead me to a taxi which I then presumed would result in us heading to his. I presumed wrong. He told the taxi there were 2 stop offs and he jumped out in his burb minutes later. A lingering kiss and a ‘see you next time’ and he was gone.

Oh. Well OK, maybe I was being a bit presumptuous given we’d technically only known each other a week, and 3 dates. But then each dates lasted at least 5 hours, with the last one a mammoth double billing. Maybe after the wine and drinks he had – er – performance anxiety, or maybe he was just a gent. Either way, it was enough to prod that monster of insecurity in my gut and I squeezed off an immediate text, thanking him for a lovely day and signing off with a kiss. A little bit of me had fallen for him and I was asleep before my head hit the pillow. The next morning, I had a horrid feeling in my stomach when I woke to no response. He’d said he had an early start and a full family day ahead so I told myself that’s why I hadn’t heard from him all day. Monday swung around and so I bit the bullet and suggested catching up again. It was my turn after all and maybe he was seeing how keen I was. He came straight back saying he had a full week but would ring me that night. OK, the anxiety beast was calmed temporarily. I headed to spin after work and came out of the gym to 2 missed calls and a voicemail asking me to ring back in the next 3o mins as he was heading out. I text back saying sorry I’d missed his call but to have a good night and I’d speak to him later in the week. He responded saying he’d call me tomorrow. He really wanted to talk to me.

I knew then. I knew then he wasn’t interested. I’ve seen the patterns and heard the lines enough times now. I knew he was going to ring and say he’d had a good time, he liked me but just wanted to be friends. OK, thanks for being honest and goodbye. There’s not much else to say when faced with the ‘friends’ line. It shouldn’t have bothered me as I’d only known him a week. It shouldn’t have bothered me as I wasn’t that invested, I wasn’t even sure if I physically fancied him. It did bother me though as up until the zoo I wasn’t invested. My zoo affliction had struck again and killed off another hopeful.

Boo to the zoo.

Foodie Review: Mart 130

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My newly *cough* self-imposed flexible working terms have allowed me to fully embrace the concept of the ‘coffice’. A Gen Y/Hipster term for a café based virtual office. I’d normally roll my eyes at such a term, but frankly it’s too fabulous a concept to ignore. I can work but also skive off; I can be sociable but equally unsociable in my digital bubble; I can drink lovely coffee whilst also having waitress staff constantly top up my water intake – something I’m not very good at replenishing in a real office.

But anyway, my new-found flexibility has allowed me to test and retest some of my local café haunts. First up: Mart 130, cutely positioned on the tram platform of Middle Park station. I’d avoid it at weekends, when the masses decamp down there for brunch and it’s difficult to get a seat let alone a table. It’s central position between the beach and park means the sporty contingent often use if for a post-activity stop but on a work day it’s makes the perfect coffice.

I hadn’t been there since Gym Bunny’s hen do back in December, but the standard of coffee and food was still up there with some of the best Melbourne has to offer. Service is quiet, unassuming and swift. The menu is restrictive [no tweaking of breakfasts here] but there’s enough variety to keep most satisfied. The avocado smash with poached eggs is my favourite, as are the cute little affirmations hanging from pot plants, door frames and condiment holders. Nothing quite like looking up from a spreadsheet to see a rosemary plant reminding me to smile.

The only negative, and it was a bit of a jolt, was the steep prices. My usual 1-2 plus brunch on average costs $25-30, so I was a bit taken aback when asked for $37. It burst my zen buzz as I left wondering if, despite seconds before feel fully satisfied, whether it was really that good a brunch.

Take away the cute decor, park side vista, station-side novelty, and I’m not convinced it’s worth it. Still a nice place to tick off the list though.

The week I became the worst employee in the world 

I didn’t do any work today. In fact I’ve been AWOL since about 3.30pm yesterday. I’ve not really done much work since Wednesday morning to be honest and no matter how many times I look at my to do list, nothing is worth starting.

Wednesday am

Department away day at beautiful out of town stately home. Despite driving in a torrential downpour at dawn, the sun peaks through storm clouds creating a very special sky. So stunning I sit in the car staring at it for a good 10 mins before realising I must look like a loon and seek out coffee. I bump into work colleagues in the café. They are surrounded by overnight bags and breakfast.

“Where were you last night, Northern Lass”

“Last night??”

Turns out the leadership team got a head start on the team building with a dinner & overnight stay at the stately home.  I should have been there but my boss forgot to invite me.

———————-

The morning is spent playing Survivor – just like the TV Show. We are split into countries, don flags as head scarves and have tribal councils ‘n’ shit. I’m in team with my boss, who I wasn’t keen on before she forgot I existed.

Our first challenge is to create a tribal chant for our team including singing, dancing, poetry and lasting 30s. Quite a big chunk of my soul dies.

How are we still doing this competitive, humiliating shit in 2015. Surely this shit has been proven not to work?! Surely it just bonds the introverts in hated against the extroverts who just compete for attention and self-gratification?! It’s all just a bit too 1980s for me. Surely we should all be sat in groups practicing mindfulness techniques these days??

——————–

There are lots of presentations as you’d expect at these things. Lots of patronising sucking of eggs, lots of mutual backslapping. Big talk of “back to core business” and defining our mission and core values. My business area is not mentioned once. Not mentioned despite being the only business area to grow year on year. Not mentioned despite a number of first to market initiatives launched. No, instead the girl who logs the invoices gets a prize and we all cheer. Not to take anything away from her, she’s got a shit job, but I have a great one, juggle 3 people’s workload and get forgotten about. By my own boss.

———————-

The final session of the day is the new department structure, unveiled as the last piece of the jigsaw for us to put our best feet forward and conquer the world. There’s much anticipation and I swear if you listened hard enough you’d hear the drum roll. 

Lots of changes. The Gen Ys freak out clamouring for answers to their very self absorbed questions. I join them.

Forget about the last jigsaw piece, this is the last straw. My role isn’t in the org chart. 

Director Lady goes pale when she sees I raised hand and I asked where me and my business area fit into the plan. Seems I don’t. Just another thing my boss forgot to give me a heads up about.

That’s why I didn’t do much work Thursday and Friday. I was busy trying to find out what the fuck is going on.

————————

After a weekend calming myself, I return to work and book in time with my boss. Note: she hasn’t attempted to follow up with me. I begin calmly expressing disappointment, seeking clarification, showing her how my disappointment could have been averted if she’d given me a heads up.

“You’re looking at me like this is my fault. This is how the corporate world works. It’s going to be 12 months of hell and if you’re not resilient enough then you need to question your future here.”

I wasn’t very calm after that. I got emotional, ranted about the irony of defining values like integrity and respect and then being excluded so publicly. 

The conclusion of our catch was I should look for a new job as my role won’t be around but they can’t tell me officially or put any timeframe on it, or even offer me alternative employment. (Well she kinda did but the roles a joke and she’s making it up as she goes along.)

And so yesterday I spent the day with my business area gossiping, leaving early to enjoy the autumnal sunshine with my fellow colleagues. Today I applied for new jobs and caught up on Mad Men.

Well there’s no point doing anything seeing how my business area won’t exist soon.

Quit while you’re ahead

Me and my new speed dating buddy decided to venture back into the pond tonight, cashing in on our half price vouchers.

We learnt a valuable lesson. Never try to recreate a good night. By the end of my 11 mini dates, I’d only ticked one bloke and I knew that wasn’t really an option as he was possibly half my height. The men were a pretty poor showing – and I’m not being a bitch. We had:

Cute but dull all promising with his sexy eyes & Turkish accent but arrogant though no obvious substantiation. When asked how he likes to spend a precious free day he recited an hour by hour account of dullness. He got a pity tick (and because he was cute and I’d like to get laid sometime this year!).

Blatant racist who spent his 8 minutes telling me his ex-best mate was also northern but had ditched him, his wife & kid, to run away with a “Chinese slut”. There were worse terms coined and little compassion shown for the real victims (wife & child) and more distress over deserting a friendship of 10 years. 

Tight shirt man who talked about TV shows for 8 mins. Yes I’m partial to a HBO or AMS or BBC drama. I may well have cancelled all Monday evening activities for the past few month to accomodate The Walking Dead into my life but no I don’t watch Big Bang Theory – it’s on ch9 aka Devil’s vomit – and it’s not remotely funny. I’m aware I’m being a snob but I’m ok with that. Move along tight shirt man, nothing for you here.

Party Dude flummoxed me. He’s opening question was had I read Joe Hockey’s recent paper? What did I think of it? Wow! Really?! Politics at speed dating? Was this a test? I tentatively bashed Hockey for the egotistical liberal monster he is then caught myself…”oh let me check are you a liberal? If you are, no offence but we probably won’t get on.” Oh you’re not, ok random question but OK. What’s that? You thought tonight was going to be a party and not speed dating and so hadn’t prepared? Wow OK, well here’s a tip; maybe don’t open on politics it can be quite divisive.

Hilarious Indian dude was there again. We met him at the last event. We greeted each other like old friends and he showed me his Easter holiday snaps. Hilariousness. I get the sense the poor guy is struggling to find his place in Australia. He doesn’t conform to his Indian heritage and community but also doesn’t embrace western ways do just does his own thing. I envy him but think it’s a lonely path.

Last but not least was pissed up twat borderline 50s going on 25, the guy had no shame, walking from table to table with a commandeered bottle of bubbly. I was his last date, by which stage he was smashed, sat next to me (rather than opposite) and asked me no questions. Instead told me how perfect we were for each other. 

Me & Buddy made a sharp exit afterwards preferring the autumnal rain to the shower of men served up to us tonight. While it’s been a nice little ego boost I’m not sure I’m going to meet my man this way. The girls all rock but the men…all seem an olive short of a pizza.

Time to try another tack.

A phone call from my Dad

Context: the last time I saw  my Dad was Easter 2011. 4 years ago. We swap emails maybe 3x a year, birthdays, Christmas and it’s all very civil. I never used to be like that but I’ve stopped trying. It takes two to be in a relationship and when he explained that kids “are an 18 year contract” it all fell into place for me. I’ll never change him so I should stop trying.

Last night I got the following voicemail message:

” hello [northern lass]. It’s Dad. I’m in Melbourne until Monday and staying at the YHA hostel. If you want to meet me, email me or leave a message at the hostel desk. Best of luck!”

So I emailed straight away saying I was free most of Saturday and listed a few very melburian activities such as brunch, the comedy festival, the footie & a Parma, cycling the capital trail & asked him to choose one and I’d organise it. The response:

“Sounds good. I’m online in the state library for 34 more minutes or will ring you from a pay phone at 7pm”

7pm on the dot:

“Hello [northern lass] it’s your Dad”

“Hiya. How are you?”

” I’m really well but I’m in a pay phone so don’t want to waste time on chit chat. Have you got a plan for tomorrow?”

“Have you been to the Yarra Valley?”

“No.”

“Would you like to go? It’s going to be a nice day so….”

“Should I come to St K…” Phone line goes dead.

5 mins later he rings again.

“I ran out of money $1 doesn’t last long but I’ve put in $2 this time but don’t tell me any news as we can talk tomorrow. Plus I don’t want to talk about my holiday as it’ll be boring for you as I’m sure you’ve be there many times.”

“Well I’ve no idea where you’ve been so I’m sure I’d like to hear about it.”

“So shall I come to st Kilda on the tram?”

“No I’ll pick you up as its on the way to the freeway – sort of..”

“What say that again!”

“I’ll pick you up outside the hostel at 12.30pm”

“Oh ok brilliant so I don’t have to go anywhere.”

“No….”

“I’ll buy you lunch -cos I always do. Do I need to dress smart or is shorts OK?”

” you don’t have to dress up but you might get colder later….”

“I’ll bring a bag of options….so 12.30 tomorrow is 12.30pm? Like dinnertime?”

“Yes Dad, lunchtime.”

“What? In the afternoon?”

“Yes, I’ll see you then.”

“Ok that sounds okay. I think I’ve got 50c left so don’t want to run out and miss any of the important info. So 12.30pm outside the hostel. It’s good to hear your voice. I’ve had a brilliant holiday but won’t waste money talking about that, we can talk about other thi……”

That was my first conversation with him in 4 years. Tomorrow should be entertaining if nothing else.

Plus little does he know he’s buying me lunch at a fancy pants winery. Result.

When like minds collide

I must have had “sad loser” tattooed on my forehead as I walked in the door of the bar. I tried not to cringe too much when the barmaid asked if I was here for speed dating in front of the normal bar-frequenting clientele. I knew they were being all judge-y woodge-y from their bar stools.

“The host is running late, but grab a sparkling and those two girls are here too.” I didn’t need to be told twice.

After making small talk intros with the two other girls awaiting the men of dreams, the first man walked in. He was gigantic. In all the unhealthy ways. He was grossly obese and our collective hearts thumped back down to reality. The small talk continued where I discovered I used to compete against one of the girls back in northern hometown swimming club. And here’s we were possibly 30 years later competing once again. Talk about small world!

B joined us with his tallness and witty banter. Promising. Possibly a little older than my 45 limit but definitely the best of a bad bunch. The I saw the big guy sat on his own, not talking to anyone and in the spirit of “we’re all in this together” I went over and introduced myself. This was my 2nd mistake.

My first mistake was worrying so much. So what, I’m single and I’d like to meet someone nice to create and share some memories. Ideally they won’t turn out like the last fuckers and the idea of a shared future will not terrify them to the core. This isn’t an unreasonable request. More than one bloke in the blur of our 8 minute chats, asked what I was doing here? How come you’re single, with your quick wit, cute accent and youthful good looks? 

I know – hilarious- only in Australia is my northern accent “cute”.

I shouldn’t have needed to pay $90 to realise that about myself. I should have faith that I’m a good catch blah bla blah, but sometimes you need to be told. And sometimes you need to hear it. From someone other than your mother and your best mate.

During the break, I squeezed off a sneaky toilet text to PRP to reassure her I was still alive, wasn’t a drunken incoherent mess on the floor and hadn’t fallen for the first man to show me a sniff of attention. I returned to see B at the bar and thought I’d try pick up the banter where we’d left it. That’s when my 2nd mistake caught up with me. Literally. The big guy cornered me and was glued to my side for the rest of the break. My friendliness had been interpreted differently. Thank god for the speed dating bell, saved and off I went to the next man.

Afterwards, I debriefed over a glass of wine with the girl at the next table. We agreed they’d been no one of interest except hat man (her) and B (me). She was a country GP, 38, smart, sassy and right up my street. It was like the night I met WW as we spent the next 6 hours exchanging life stories and putting the world to rights. Hopping from bar to bar, boosting each other’s ego and basking in our bravery for going speed dating alone.

We may not have found the men of our dreams but after too many wines and too little food, we decided fate had forced us both speed dating that night so we’d meet. I love it when you meet someone you feel you’ve known all your life in a sliding doors moment. It may have been the sheer relief of us both getting through the night. It may have been the wine. It may have been the adrenaline rush of the ego boost but I know I met a great friend that night.

We swapped numbers and became Facebook friends, arranged to do it all again in a couple weeks. She’s invited me out to the country next time there’s an event. I’m going to do work experience in her clinic. She bought me a hot dog & a coke because we needed food and are old and can’t hack it anymore.i got us a cab to her mates’ house and waited til she gave me a thumbs up in the window before heading home myself.

I’ve made a new friend who knew nothing about me but accepted me for me. And if she can do that, then it’s likely an man can do that too. And that’s all the reassurance I needed.

I’m normal and I’m single. These two things aren’t mutually exclusive.