Category Archives: Blatherings

2020 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?
Bought a bunch of face masks, including two awesome Star Wars ones the day before mask rules were relaxed in Melbourne. I definitely don’t love wearing them (who does?) but they do help me feel less anxious about going to the supermarket or other crowded places.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
To repeat what I always say… I never bother with them. You can decide to makes changes any time you want. It’s up to you if you stick with them, the time of year makes no difference at all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Remarkably in this year of global pandemic, no. How lucky am I?

5. What countries did you visit?
Bit tricky to go anywhere when your federal government closes your country’s borders. But regardless of that, there were no plans to go anywhere anyway as no one has a valid passport at the moment.

6. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?
I’m actually a bit stumped by this question. For me personally the last three months of 2020 were actually pretty good (got a job, excellent grades in my Masters subject) so I’m not sure what I could add to make 2021 better.

But for society in general, I hope that we managed to get Covid-19 under control and that a degree of normality returns. However, I hope it’s movement towards a new normal where there is equality and fairness for all.

7. What date from 2020 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 26. On my birthday (Aug 25), I had a job interview and I wasn’t expecting to hear anything for a few days. But at about 9:30 the following day, I got the call to say I’d gotten the job. It’s the fastest I’ve ever heard back about a job. It was very gratifying.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting a job. Also, riding up Falls Creek and Mount Buffalo back-to-back. Usually I’d put a day between two big efforts like that but this year our trip to Bright was shorter so there wasn’t much choice if I wanted to do the rides.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Juno probably watched far too much TV when we were in lockdown. But we are definitely not unique in this. Sometimes, you just have to take the path of least resistance.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Couple of weeks ago I developed a middle ear infection. Blimey, they hurt! I didn’t feel sick, have a temperature or anything else. My ear just hurt, a lot. A round of antibiotics made it go away.

I also got probably the worst cold I’ve had in ages in July. My head was ridiculously congested and I was sick for 11 days. But the thing I’m most annoyed about is the cold finally broke my six month run of consistently riding every week.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I went on a bit of a splurge when I got my job and bought myself some new cycling kit. There was stuff I actually needed (like new gloves and bib shorts) but I did indulge myself a bought a new jersey too.

I also finally bought a new pair of red heels from the brand who made the shoes I got married in. I love my wedding shoes but I have accepted they are now a size too small so I shouldn’t really wear them as they’re bad for my feet. (But you all know I do occasionally right?)

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Every single essential worker who turned up for work this year. The staff at our hospitals did such an amazing job in what could have only been incredibly frightening and stressful circumstances, especially when they started to get sick too. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like trying to save people who they knew deep down weren’t going to make it. But they tried anyway.

Also mad props to the cleaners. They faced the same risks but they still turned up to work at a time when their work suddenly got far more complicated and necessary.

I’m gonna go there… Dan Andrews. Yes, massive, massive mistakes were made. The Victorian Government is responsible for the second wave here. However, Dan had the guts to force change at the federal level when it really did look like ScoMo was going to follow Trump’s direction and downplay it all. We owe him because if he and Gladys Berejiklian hadn’t acted as one in March, I imagine there would’ve been so many more deaths and people in hospital – but that doesn’t excuse him for passing the buck when it came to hotel quarantine.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Our federal politicians haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory. The political point-scoring against what happened here in Victoria was disgusting. Both Greg Hunt and Josh Frydenburg are fucking Victorians but neither of them could help sticking the boot in. Apparently it was “We’re all Victorians now” until it became more politically expedient to attack. It was truly vile behaviour and I really hope the constituents of both Flinders and Kooyong remember this when the next federal election rolls around.

14. Where did most of your money go?
See question 11.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The day Juno returned to childcare at the end of September. It had been two and a half very, very long months and I was about to start my new job. She was sick of us, we were sick of her. Going back to childcare was such a blessing and she’s thrived being back there.

16. What song will always remind you of 2020?
This.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Right now, happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Tiny bit thinner I think. But you wouldn’t know it.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer! Well, I’ve gone from having no money to having some money which is quite the novelty.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I probably should’ve spent more time playing with Juno but I’m more than aware that I’m simply not interested in doing so. Some mothers are totally happy to get down on the floor and play to their kids’ heart’s content but I am not one of them. Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure but I also think that her learning to entertain herself is good thing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being so irritated with Juno. A large part of it is because I’m now most definitely peri-menopausal and it can be really hard to manage my emotional responses when she’s being a pain in the arse. Like all five year olds, she can be incredibly irritating and seems to know how to push all of my buttons. Having said that, she’s a child and I’m meant to be the adult. Flying off the handle doesn’t help anyone.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent Christmas with my mum, dad, sister, brother-in-law and their three kids. It was pretty great to see them all after not seeing my sister and her family since the start of the year. Juno has really missed her cousins.

21. What was your favorite month of 2020?
This is one year where no one could possibly have a favourite month, especially those ones we spent in lockdown that felt like they were about billion days long, each.

22. Did you fall in love in 2020?
Nope.

23. How many one-night stands?
Unsurprisingly, none.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Binge-watching The Mandalorian was pretty good. Turned it in my favourite Star Wars movie.

And along with everyone else, I really, really liked The Queen’s Gambit. Still don’t understand chess at all but I found the story fascinating. There were cries of it not properly showing the degree of sexism she faced but I actually thought they did it in a more subtle way by her constantly being underestimated by her male opponents (and their petulant behaviour when they lost). Better than being beaten over the head with the message. There is definitely a touch of “black saviour” in Joelene but I loved, loved, loved Moses Ingram in the role and I think she did brilliantly with her limited screen time, so much so I felt she totally stole the scenes she shared with Anya Taylor-Joy.

Also quite liked His Dark Materials. I’m a huge fan of the books but it took me quite awhile to watch this. The casting of Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter was pure genius. I also really like the casting for Carlo Boreal which was the exact opposite of how he was described in the books (kinda brilliant move there). More importantly, they got the panserbjørn right.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
The fucking morons who decided the Shrine of Remembrance was a great place to stage a protest are pretty low in my good human being stakes. One thing I found particularly abhorrent was how all the anti-mask protesters were bleating about living in a dictatorship. Uh, no. Just… no.

26. What was the best book you read?
This year I’ve really needed the comfort of favourite books and favourite authors so I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett novels for pretty much the whole year. His books are so comforting to me whilst also being hilarious, well-written and quite snarky.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
See question 16. And also this.

28. What did you want and get?
A job! I got a well-paying, part-time job in the middle of a global pandemic. I was rather chuffed.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Hhmm… fairly certain I didn’t even make it to a cinema this year. But I’ve already got my ticket for Wonder Woman 1984. It’s getting some pretty uneven reviews but we shall see.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I had a lockdown birthday so Richard cooked me dinner. We had eye fillet with mushroom and red wine sauce, potato gratin and I think it was broccoli for greens. Richard also bought a tub of ice cream from Messina (pistachio praline and choc chip). We opened one of our Crittenden Estate 2012 Cri de Coeur Pinot Noir – turned out it was a little too early for it be opened but it was still pretty good.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
For there not to be a global pandemic?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?
Strong in the tracksuit pants and t-shirt vibe, just like everyone else.

34. What kept you sane?
I know I always say this but yet again, it’s been my bike. Cycling is my main way of managing my mental health so if I don’t ride, I go a bit wonky, brain-wise. I guess I’ve learnt that everyone has a thing and cycling happens to be mine.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Eh…

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I took a real interest in the US elections but I think everyone did but the political issue that stirred me the most was Josh Frydenburg tweeting about how worried he was about the mental health of Victorians during lockdown. What an absolute joke. The federal government has done nothing to help Australians with mental health issues. If anything, they’ve actually made it harder for people to get treatment by consistently under-funding the mental health sector and, in some cases, cutting funding to services. It was disgusting to see Frydenburg in particular tweeting about this when he’s from Victoria and should’ve been doing all he could to help us. But he didn’t. He used the issue for political point scoring, which is reprehensible.

And then there was ScoMo all the way back at the start of year, using the bush fires as a photo op. Forcing people to shake his hand so he could attempt to sell the idea that he actually gave a shit about the people who’d lost everything when we all knew he didn’t. Because remember… “I don’t hold a hose, mate”.

37. Who did you miss?
My parents. It’s been a very long year without my mum’s regular trips to Melbourne and not being able to go see them. If nothing else, I’ve learnt this year just how much my mum’s level of involvement in Juno’s life matters.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Khanh, my team lead and the rest of my team. They’re all really nice people and Khanh is so supportive.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.
That when we want to, a large metropolitan area can actually act as one community. Around five million people live in Melbourne and the majority did the right thing to protect the more vulnerable members of our communities. It was an encouraging thing to experience.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Meh…

2019 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?
Quitting a job, effective immediately. When I’ve quit jobs before I’ve always given the required notice. I’ve never quit and then walked out on the same day.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
To repeat what I said last year (and probably the year before) I never bother with them. You can decide to makes changes any time you want. It’s up to you if you stick with them, the time of year makes no difference at all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully no.

5. What countries did you visit?
Sigh. None. Have to renew my passport before I can go anywhere.

6. What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
A sense of purpose and direction? But I’d settle for a job.

7. What date from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 14. I turned up at my first ever journalist job, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and determined to make a real go of it. I thought it would be the making of me. I knew it would be hard and that I had so much to learn but I had no clue what I was in for.

Hence the next date that will be forever etched upon my memory:  March 15. This was the day I quit and walked out of that building at lunchtime to never go back. All of my beliefs and what turned out to be illusions about what being a journo was about were completely and utterly shattered.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Enrolling in a Masters of Communication at midyear. It’s the only decent decision I’ve made this year.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Hah… If I listed them all this would be a never-ending post. Suffice to say I was naive when it came to what I thought was my ideal career. Can’t wait for this year to be done so I can put it firmly behind me.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Apart from my mental health issues, I’ve had so many colds and too many migraines. I’ve also had an upper respiratory infection, sinusitis and I got stung by a bee at the end of November. Fun times.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I love, love, love my birds shirt that I bought from Min Found Ena in Northcote. It’s black and covered with white birds. I think it looks pretty good on me so I wear it a lot. I also got treated to a very awesome dress from another local designer just before xmas.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Pretty much anyone who’s under 18 and fighting for their future. They give me so much hope in a time when everything seems so hopeless. If I had my way, I’d chuck all the current batch of politicians out (with a few exceptions) and put the kids in charge. At least those kids don’t bother wasting their breath saying that we have to see all sides when it comes to climate change – which is the most idiotic statement of all time. There are no sides! Science says humans have had a profound effect on the climate and we only have a limited time to avert disaster.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Scott Morrison (I know he’s such an obvious target). He’s a truly terrible prime minister and politician. He’s leading the government of people who are only in it for themselves, which is detrimental to Australia and everyone living here. But there is also a lot of journalists out there who aren’t challenging him or his ministers and are giving the government a free ride which is disappointing to say the least.

14. Where did most of your money go?
I’ve had so little of it this year. I’m still pretty good at wasting what I’ve got though.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I got pretty excited about our annual Bright trip. I was aiming to ride up Mt Hotham but illness killed that idea. Still did plenty of riding and had a good time.

16. What song will always remind you of 2019?
Eh…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? in comparison to last year, sadder.
ii. thinner or fatter? a tiny bit thinner.
iii. richer or poorer? poorer. So much poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I’d been a better partner. Richard has put up with so much shit this year and it’s all been caused by my inability to make good decisions. I know we can’t see how things will turn out and there’s no way I could’ve known how the journo job would go but I feel I’ve really struggled to be a good partner to him, which is sad. And to be honest, everything has been a struggle, even getting off the couch. There were many days when I didn’t even want to ride my bike and everyone knows I usually always want to ride my bike.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Feeling so paralysed by indecision and spending too much time in my own head. I wish I’d been be able to better deal with my mental health issues but I’m not sure I was even depressed and that’s what my ‘treatment’ was based around. The way I felt was so different from how I’ve felt before. I simply couldn’t decide what to do with myself and that everything I was doing was wrong. It felt like every choice was a bad choice. When I did get a freelance writing gig, I totally screwed it up because I got so trapped inside my head.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With the in-laws.

21. What was your favorite month of 2019?
Didn’t have one this year.

22. Did you fall in love in 2019?
Nope.

23. How many one-night stands?
Unsurprisingly, none.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
The Mandalorin. Signed up to Disney+ to get it. Hasn’t disappointed. Love the fact that episodes are as long as they need to be and that each one is so complete. Love the music and the artwork they show at the end credits is amazing every week.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
That would require me to care enough about something.

26. What was the best book you read?
I really enjoyed The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I liked the idea of having three narrators to tell the story. I guess I’m fortunate because I wasn’t expecting another The Handmaid’s Tale but apparently so many people were and were left disappointed. I got what I wanted – which was to find out what happened next. I usually hate books written in the first person but Atwood is one of the few authors who does it really, really well.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
One day I’ll find something new. One day…

28. What did you want and get?
Apparently I’m shallow but I really, really wanted this dress and I was treated to it just before xmas.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
Captain Marvel. Just loved it. I thought Brie Larson was great as Carol Danvers and I loved the buddy-movie vibe between her and Nick Fury. I also thought the plot twist was well done. It also has the best use of a song in a film in my humble opinion. The use of Nirvana’s Come As You Are was brilliant, just brilliant.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was taken to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We did it all in one day (on my actual birthday) so it included dinner at Cumulus Inc and a night in a hotel. The play was excellent and I really loved how good the stage craft was. I’d already read play and I did wonder how they were going to pull off some stuff. It was all very clever and the actors did a fine job.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
This is hard for me because the obvious answer would be to have found the right job and to be happily learning the ropes of being a journalist. But that’s so obvious. Too obvious? I don’t know.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?
Eh…

34. What kept you sane?
Went back on anti-depressants for a bit. Did another round of therapy. Still trying to work my shit out.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Meh.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I got pretty cranky about Scott Morrison doing so little about the fires in NSW and then nicking off to Hawaii for a holiday. I think what bothered me the most is that he keeps shoving his family out as a defence for going on holidays. He promised his daughters so he felt compelled to do it. He has such a tin ear.

37. Who did you miss?
Me. I have no feaken clue who I am at the moment. I feel like I’ve totally lost my sense of self and I feel utterly useless so much of the time.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
David and Florence, Juno’s kinder teachers and carers at childcare. It’s amazing to see how much she’s grown this year.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2019.
I don’t think I’ve learnt a valuable life lesson this year. I keep thinking that life and the universe doesn’t like me very much at the moment.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Eh…

And then…

I took Juno to the dentist this morning for a check-up, just like I did six months ago.

It’s not significant or important (except to find out how Juno’s teeth are) but it means that it’s been six months since I quit my job.

I don’t regret quitting. I do wish it had played out differently and that I was still there, getting the experience I need to get a job in a Melbourne-based newsroom.

Sigh.

I have some objectivity now and I can say I really didn’t like the person I was in those two months and I certainly didn’t like what it did to Juno. She was so unhappy and confused the whole time which, in turn, made everyone else unhappy. I accept that I should’ve been smarter about it and thought a good deal more before taking the job.

But I was so excited about getting a journalist job. Finally! My dream of being a journo and a writer was going to be fulfilled.

I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes you really shouldn’t get the things you believe you want, especially in today’s world where journos are treated no more than assets to sell advertising and there is little regard in senior management for the skill required to craft news articles.

Eh hem…

So, it’s been six months.

The day I quit, I told myself (and everyone else) that I’d have a few weeks off to rejuvenate myself and then I would go out to conquer the world!

Except that didn’t happen. The weeks have turned into months and I found myself incapable of doing anything. I simply couldn’t motivate myself to get moving or to make any big decisions at all. The only significant decision I made was to go back to uni to do a Masters.

Essentially I fell in a heap.

I didn’t even really want to ride my bike and that’s usually something I always want to do. It took me quite a while to admit to myself that I was depressed, exhausted, physically and mentally tapped-out. I had nothing left to give and no way to make myself do anything.

Unlike my other experiences of depression, I didn’t feel like all the colour had been sucked out of the world. This time, it’s more about being unable to find the spark to motivate me, to get me moving. I couldn’t summon up the energy to do anything except what I absolutely needed to do. I have never felt so apathetic before.

Of course, one of the hardest things about depression is admitting that’s where you’re at. It’s an insidious disease that traps you in a cycle of feeling unmotivated, sad and unable to move or do anything.

After three months, I finally took myself to see my GP who gave me a script for anti-depressants and a mental health plan so I could see a therapist.

I went into therapy with the approach of being determined to sort it out within the six sessions. This depression has felt different from my prior experiences so I figured maybe a more aggressive approach would work.

And I guess it did.

In one session I brought up the concept of the waiting place which is mentioned in Dr. Seuss’ The Places You’ll Go. In the book, it’s not necessarily a good place to be. My interpretation is that it’s a useless space where nothing happens. I felt like I was well and truly stuck in the waiting place and I, at the time, could only see it as a negative thing.

However, my therapist (who is a Gestalt practitioner) told me about a similar concept called the fertile void. It’s also a place of waiting and even nothingness. The difference with this interpretation is that it takes on a positive spin. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have time to do nothing. It can be a time to restore your energy and get ready for the next big thing that’s coming along. It’s a small thing but it helped me.

I also came to realise that a lot has happened to me in my 40s. I’ve done things that most people would take 10 to 15 years to do but I’ve done them all in about six. It does feel like my life has been progressing in fast-forward. I guess I haven’t really stopped to take stock because I haven’t had the time. The best way to describe is that it feels like my life has been one great big constant Andthen.Andthen.Andthen.Andthen.Andthen.Andthen…

When you throw a small child into the mix whose demands have gone from being very physically based to way more emotionally based, it gets even more complicated. I found myself in a place where I had very little to give and it was all going to Juno.

I still feel like I’m in the waiting place but these days I feel more positive about it. At some point, things will improve and start to go my way. Things have been a bit shit but with some help, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Well, that didn’t last long

I started work at a rural non-daily newspaper on January 14. By March 15 I’d had enough and quit.

Pretty dramatic hey?

I went into the experience all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I truly believed that this would be the job to put me on the path to becoming a journalist. I’d do at least a year, put in the hard work, develop my skills and then find myself a journo job in Melbourne. After all, I knew that country papers can make careers. I’m not afraid of hard work. Nor am I afraid of getting out of my comfort zone. I thought I was focused enough and driven enough to be successful and to make this job work for me.

I was so wrong. I was so, so, so naive and idealistic.

It came as a huge shock when I discovered just how much influence advertising had over editorial. The head of advertising gives every new journo “the talk” and in it, he tells these new journos that they have to see every story, every interview, every person as an opportunity to sell advertising space in the paper. This is pretty much the opposite of what I very naively thought newspapers were about. After receiving said talk, I felt like I needed a shower.

Being a non-daily (the paper was published once a week on a Wednesday), I was the only journo working there. My editor was in Echuca, my mentor was in Benalla. I was on my own every day and had to make editorial decisions about what went in the paper and deciding the layout for each week. These are not tasks usually given to a cadet journalist, let alone one who had just graduated from her course.

But I figured I had enough life experience to be getting on with the job and my prior web design experience came in incredibly handy when it came to doing the layouts. Turns out spending time working out how web pages should fit together does have broader applications.

I lasted about a month before I decided to start looking for another job. I was exhausted, frazzled and contemplating going back on anti-depressants because I was so anxious. I dreaded my alarm going off each morning, I would wake up and feel sick to my stomach because of what I was about to put myself through.

I was being paid for 38 hours a week but realistically I was doing somewhere between 45 – 55 every week with no hope of being paid overtime (it says in their business documentation that they don’t pay overtime, employees get time in lieu instead but the manager/editor had to approve it so there was no guarantee of getting anything for the extra effort). My take-home pay was barely above minimum wage, so low that it was below the threshold to pay back my HECS debt. I had to work on the weekends because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have enough stories to fill the paper. It was like having a major assignment due every single week.

There was never enough time in the day and add to that I was travelling five hours to and from work each day…

I know it was my choice to take the job. I should’ve done my research, I should’ve asked around. I had no clue just how much of a sweat-shop country papers were, especially the little non-dailies which usually only have a single journo. I didn’t really understand what I was getting myself into. I didn’t realise I’d be responsible for the layout and that I would be making editorial decisions. I didn’t realise I’d have sole responsibility for an entire paper. Admittedly it was only 24 pages and I was responsible for just 15 of them. It sounded doable, it sounded like something I could achieve. And I was so very wrong.

It all started to go a bit pear-shaped when I decided to run a story and a page of photos about the opening of a new local brewery. As far as I was concerned, it was a good news story for the area and something that people would want to know about. The place had been project-managed and built by locals and you’d think it would be a natural fit for the paper. But no, the brewery hadn’t booked any ads and according to the head of advertising I should have put in a tiny story with one or no photos. However, he didn’t say anything to me directly about it. He just bitched to everyone else.

The straw the broke the camel’s back was finding out that Mr Head of Advertising had flat-out lied to my editor about me. He told my editor that I had refused to go out to a fire to cover it. Problem is that I had been to the CFA District 12 head office and talked to the incident controller and the comms person and they both said they weren’t taking media to the site and that if I went, I wouldn’t be allowed in. So I didn’t waste my time driving out there, especially when I knew there was only one way in and one way out so I was guaranteed to get stopped and turned around. Why would I waste my time? Especially considering it would’ve been 45 minute to hour long trip for nothing. Bit of a difference between respecting what the people in charge of fighting the fire had said and refusing to go out there don’t you think?

What really upset me was that my editor was so flippant about it. He really didn’t seem to care that another person had told him a lie about one of his staff members. He simply said that I was supposed to ignore what the CFA had said and go out there anyway. He would’ve known how angry I was but he was just so blase about it.

So that was it. For the first time in my life I quit a job without having one to go to. I have never done anything like this before. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve done but the strong sense of relief I felt walking out of that office for the last time simply reinforced that I’d made the right choice.

I could’ve easily titled this post how to make your toddler hate you in one easy step. One of the main reasons I had already started looking for another job was because of the effect it was having on Juno.

Juno doesn’t tell us she loves us but what she does say is that one of us is her best friend. I was pretty high in the best friend stakes for ages but as soon as I started this job, Daddy became her best friend and it stayed that way until recently. Even Grandma and Grandpa had turns at being her best friend but it was never me. It’s such a silly little thing but it hurt.

I didn’t know that Juno could recognise the letters in her name. I didn’t know she understood what numbers meant (at least up to five). I didn’t even know she’d succeeded in getting her shoes on and off by herself. So many little things that she’d mastered and I totally missed them because I was too focused on my stupid job. Two months isn’t a long time in the grand scale of things but when it comes to a toddler turning into a pre-schooler, it’s an eternity.

So now I’m left wondering what to do with myself. I really thought I wanted to be journalist but now I’m not so sure. The things I thought about journalism, the ideals I believed in got trashed in two months. I didn’t expect to told that I should take the paper’s advertising consultant with me to every interview I did and that I should look at every article as an opportunity to sell ad space. I didn’t think that’s what newspapers are about and what they were for. I didn’t realise I’d have to sell my soul to get ahead.

But I guess what it tells me is that I am moral person, I do have lines I won’t cross which I believe is a good thing.

I’m aware that what I experienced is nowhere near a normal cadet journalist experience. What makes it kinda worse is that I see awesome experiences my fellow students are having in their jobs. I wish I could have that experience but eh… there’s not much I can do about it now. I’ll find my way, I’ll find a job that’s right for me (and hopefully pays more than minimum wage).

2018 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?
Interviewed people for articles. I found I really enjoyed doing it and I loved the whole process of taking what someone told me an turning it into an article that could be shared.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I never bother with them. You can decide to makes changes any time you want. It’s up to you if you stick with them, the time of year makes no difference at all.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My grandmother. She was over 100 years old so it didn’t really come as a shock or a surprise but it was recent (only two weeks ago) and it’s proving hard for me to process. I feel bad because I’m not overly grief-struck by her death but she had lost so much in the last few years – her independence because she had to move into care, her freedom and, to a degree, her dignity (so many medical tests). When you think about it within that context, her dying is more like a kindness.

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
Albus Dumbledore

5. What countries did you visit?
Sigh. None. My passport has expired anyway.

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?
A job. I’d like to have a job, doing something that I want to do.

7. What date from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
To be honest, this year has been one big blur so nothing stands out. There were times the only reason I knew which day of the week it was was because it’s on the tool bar of my laptop.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I should say successfully completing my grad dip in journalism but the thing I’m actually the proudest of is achieving my yearly goal to ride 6750kms in 2018, which I set for myself on Strava. I initially set a goal of 5oookm at the start of the year, thinking it would be a realistic goal but I hit that in September. I ended up extending it three times before finally settling on 6750kms. I hit that on xmas eve. It was just nice to achieve a challenge – even if it was a totally arbitrary one I’d set myself.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I think I could’ve worked harder in my course. I could’ve done better in audio visual journalism (for which I got a Credit). But it was a tough subject for me and I really hated being in front of the camera. When I looked at any footage of me all I could see was how much weight I’ve put on in the last year. I shuddered every time I had to watch myself. My lecturer kept saying that what we look like on camera isn’t what we look like in real life but I don’t know, a camera can’t make stuff up.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I went through a period where it would take me two or three goes to get up from the couch/chair/bed because I’d experience a horrendous stabbing pain down my back and in my right leg. Turns out I’ve developed sciatica due to a problematic disc (either grown a bone spur that’s pokes into the nerves when I get into the wrong position or the disc itself isn’t in quite the right place so it’s pinching the nerve). With some work and a better understanding of what was going on, it’s under control now and I’ve gone from having the pain numerous times a day to barely having an episode at all.

Also developed conjunctivitis in my right eye which then spread to the left one at the end of September. Couldn’t have happened at a worse time because it was when I had an important assignment due and found myself unable to use any of the equipment I needed to because it’s so contagious. My lecturer was very nice and gave me an extra few days so I could recover before borrowing the camera I needed to use. I was surprised at how much it hurt. My eyes were so irritated and I couldn’t use a computer or read for very long.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
All the stuff I bought from Velocio. They’ve become my go-to brand for my cycling kit. Their bib shorts are the best. They came up with a very clever design involving a zip for easier toilet stops which means I don’t have to essentially get undressed if I need to go to the loo. Might not sound like a big thing but you try going for a wee in the middle of winter when it’s around 5°C and you have to take your jacket/gillet and jersey off to get your bib shorts down! Those stretchy straps and the little zip on the back of the shorts make all the difference in the world.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
All those judges and lawyers in America who keep smacking down Trump’s insane executive orders. Now, that’s a man who needs to learn he’s not above the law.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
So many fails from our politicians. So many.

14. Where did most of your money go?
For someone who wasn’t working, I certainly managed to buy myself a lot of cycling gear. I also bought myself some really nice dresses and shoes.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
To be honest, this year has gone by in a blur and nothing stands out. It’s been an intense year which makes it hard for individual days or events to stand out in my mind.

16. What song will always remind you of 2018?
Eh…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? in comparison to last year, happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? fatter. Sigh.
iii. richer or poorer? poorer. So much poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I feel like I’ve been remarkably selfish this year, focusing a lot on myself and what is good for me over what’s good for the other important people in my life. So I guess I feel that I should’ve been more present for Richard and Juno. I don’t think I’m a particularly brilliant mother. I get frustrated with Juno so often and I just wish she’d co-operate with me instead of making the small stuff so hard on occasion. But she’s just being a three year old and I’m expecting far too much from her. I guess I’m doing the best I can and I’m trying to be a good role model for her by showing her that just because I’m the mum I don’t have to give up everything I want, which has been the gold standard for mothering. Too often you see the mum looking drained, worn out and at the end of her tether because there’s no time for her. That’s not for this little black duck!

I guess in a lot of people’s eyes that makes me really selfish and a terrible mum but, eh… what I do care about what others think? I’ve got a pretty happy, healthy and smart toddler so I guess I’m not doing too bad.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Spend money that I really shouldn’t have. Far too much impulse buying for me this year, which means I burnt through money that I was meant to be saving for a custom bike build.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my extended family. It was hot and noisy.

21. What was your favorite month of 2018?
November. Mostly because I got heaps of riding in and rode up a few mountains as well.

22. Did you fall in love in 2018?
Nope.

23. How many one-night stands?
Unsurprisingly, none.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. It’s meant to be about the food but he did some incredible investigative journalism for someone who was “just” a chef. It was a good day when I discovered the show had been added to Netflix in Australia.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. I only have a finite amount of time and energy so why waste it?

26. What was the best book you read?
I reread a lot of Terry Pratchett novels, including the Tiffany Aching ones. I know a lot of people didn’t like the series after A Hat Full of Sky but I loved the books and think they are some of Sir Terry’s best. Every time I read The Shepherd’s Crown I can’t but think of how amazing Sir Terry was and how much he must’ve struggled against the Alzheimer’s that was slowly stripping him of his prodigious talent.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I’m not sure nursery rhymes and music for children counts as that great a musical discovery.

28. What did you want and get?
I guess in the end I really wanted my grad dip. Still waiting for the actual testamur to arrive in the mail because I didn’t go to the graduation ceremony. I did work pretty hard to achieve this but it’s still rolling around in my brain that I’m not 100% sure what I achieved. But it will be nice to see the certificate when it arrives – make it all official and everything.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I really enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody. It was nice to watch a bio film that wasn’t bogged down in scandal or emphasising one thing over another. It was about Freddie Mercury as a performer and how much he needed his band-mates to fully unleash his genius. Plus the music was fantastic and I can’t believe the amount of work they put into the Live Aid scenes.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I got taken away for a long weekend on the Morning Peninsula. We stayed a very fancy hotel which was located in a vineyard and had dinner on my birthday in the newest fancy restaurant on the Peninsula. The child was at home with grandma so the real treat was getting some adult time. I turned 46.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think I could’ve stood to be more organised when it came to my academic work. Quite a few things were left until the last minute when they shouldn’t have been. It probably would’ve reduced the amount of stress and anxiety I felt. But still, only one assignment was handed in after the due date and that was because of the bout of conjunctivitis.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?
I have no clue. I don’t think I have one. Comfort is quite high on the list.

34. What kept you sane?
My bike. I made the decision to go off my anti-depressants in August so I’ve been managing my mental well-being with exercise. So far it’s working.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Joined the band wagon in thinking that Jason Momoa is a bit of alright (after finally watching him in Justice League where he was hilarious).

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I got rather irritated with Dutton for saying that Melbourians were afraid to go out for dinner because of roaming African youth gangs. And then Mattthew Guy tried to run his election campaign on a similar vein. What a load of garbage!

I’m definitely not denying that there’s something going on with African (usually South Sudanese) youth but to make it sound like everyone in Melbourne was locked up in their houses, totally terrified of one particular cultural group is about as racist as it can possibly get. But it was funny how the media failed to report on a riot in Lorne in January until The Guardian ran with the story. The perpetrators? A pack of drunk white boys.

37. Who did you miss?
Umm… to be honest, no one.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Deanne, my myotherapist. She chastised me for not stretching after riding, worked out what was going on with my back, diagnosed over-extended hip flexors and weak glutes as being one of my major issues when riding and has been working on getting me better since about the middle of the year. And she was right about the weak glutes, over-worked hip flexors and the not stretching.

It was after a session with her where I promised to stretch after riding that the pain I was experiencing while riding stopped being as severe. I thought that pain was normal for me when I rode my bike but she has convinced me that it’s not normal and that I can do something about it. The first time I rode without pain was amazing. And all because I’d started stretching (again).

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.
You’re never too old to chase your dreams.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Eh…

So, here we are

Today is results day for my Journalism grad dip.  Two distinctions and a credit.

Yay me?

I know I should be pleased with myself. I did really well this year with one high distinction, four distinctions and a credit over all. They’re grades to be proud of and I’m sure I did better than some of the other students in the course. I should feel a sense of achievement.

But to be honest I don’t feel like I achieved anything.

We finished at the end of October and since then I’ve been applying for job and getting nowhere. I’ve only had two interviews for what I think is about 50 or so job applications. It’s not like last year when I finished at work and then spent three months doing whatever I wanted. Then I knew it was only temporary and that I was moving towards something new.

This time I have no idea where I’m going or what lies ahead. I thought I’d have a job by now, I thought I would’ve moved on to something new but I seem to be stuck, waiting. It’s extra hard when I know that plenty of the people I studied with have jobs and are off doing exciting journalisticy things.

No one seems to want to hire a 46 year old woman, let alone one with a toddler.

I guess the the other thing is that once I started the course and really got into it, I realised that I’ve always wanted to be a journalist. I should’ve ignore everyone who told me I shouldn’t do it and tried. I should’ve tried to have gotten a cadetship, applied for a uni course.  If I had, maybe I would be an experienced journalist by now, probably pursuing some wacky idea or working in a big newsroom.

But it’s all a moot point because I didn’t.

It’s not where I am now and it’s not the reality I have to deal with. Reality is, I want a job, I want to get back work and feel like I’m achieving something. I want to contribute to the well-being of my family and not be a drain on our resources. I’ve spent most of the year feeling selfish because it’s all been about me. I’ve spent a year doing what I wanted to do in the hope that it would take me off in a new direction. But it feels like the direction I want to go in doesn’t want me and isn’t interested in what I have to offer.

I guess I just hate feeling useless. No one likes being rejected or overlooked and that’s all that’s happening to me right now. Not much more I can do expect hope that sooner rather than later someone will decide I’m worth investing in.

Yup, it’s that time of year again

Much love to those I hold dear, both near and far. May the festive season be good to you and your families. Be good and try to get up the right amount of mischief.

2017 in 40 questions

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
Got made redundant. Worked out it’s been around 23 years since I haven’t worked. But really, I didn’t do it, it was done to me.

2. Did you keep your new year resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Eh. Waste of time.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yup, my former boss and friend gave birth to an adorable baby boy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No thankfully.

5. What countries did you visit?
None. Sigh. I have to renew my passport next year but I’m not sure I’ll be using any time soon.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
Less anxiety and stress. Surprisingly I’ve never suffered from anxiety but this year has been a lesson in mental health issues. I always thought depression can make you feel so awful but anxiety looks at depression and says hold my beer! and then laugh maniacally when you fall apart. I would be happy if I never experienced it again but I’m sure I will.

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 8. I walked out of work knowing I wouldn’t be coming back. It was a really weird day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Doing the Rapha Women’s 100. It was such a challenge but I really enjoyed it even though I knew absolutely no one. It was great to be out riding with so many women. I’m hoping to do it again in 2018.

I also managed to beat Richard up Falls Creek. Only managed it once before and this time I totally crushed it. LOL

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not being able to keep my mouth shut at work. I would’ve had a much easier time of it if I had. (And yes, I believe my not going along with everything senior management said had an effect on me being made redundant.)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My shoulder once again started to give me grief. It was definitely stress-related and I experienced tingling in my fingers again (my medial ligament was being crushed). So it was off to the physio for me. He managed to sort it which was nice. But at least I know that stress can induce this.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
New bike shoes. I finally found a pair that works for me. Ended up in size 40 though. (I was a 38.)

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
The 68% of the Australian population who voted yes in the ridiculous marriage equality survey.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
As always, the majority of politicians. The exceptions are few and far between which is disappointing. Tony Abbott is a horrible, horrible person. Malcolm Turnbull has turned out to be the hugest disappointment. But I am impressed by how flexible he is considering how much time he spends contorting himself into knots trying to keep everyone happy (except for the voting public of course).

14. Where did most of your money go?
So much clothing for Juno. So much. And I bought an awful lot of cycling gear this year. (Yay!)

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I got rather enthused about our annual Bright trip. Probably because we were leaving Juno behind at home with my mum and we had four child-free days. It was awesome.

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
Eh…

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? unfortunately sadder. 2017 has been a really bad year for my mental health.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. Sigh.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer – most definitely poorer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Focusing on the good things in my life. I have a wonderful family – a supportive, loving husband and a gorgeous child. That’s worth focusing on.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Getting too involved in crap at work that I had no control over and could do nothing about. All it did was cause me a lot of grief.

20. How will you spend Christmas?
With Richard’s family. Juno is very enamoured of all the xmas trees that are around.

21. What was your favorite month of 2017?
Wait, it’s the end of the year already? When did that happen?

22. Did you fall in love in 2017?
Yes 🙂

23. How many one-night stands?
None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
The Handmaid’s Tale. So good but so, so scary. Also kinda timely considering what’s happening in America at the moment.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Nope. Hate is a pretty wasteful so why put any energy towards it?

26. What was the best book you read?
The Handmaid’s Tale. Read it before many times but reading again in the current world political situation (and before the TV shows started) made for scary reading. But it’s so well-written.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Still listening to the same stuff. With added children’s music. Hmmm…

28. What did you want and get?
New bike shoes! Took me so long to get something I liked and fitted well.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I was going to say it was a toss-up between Wonder Woman and Logan but I finally got around to seeing Thor: Ragnarok and loved it so much. It was so much fun. Logan was incredible though. They finally got a Wolverine movie 100% right. Wonder Woman had so much that was great about it (but I have to admit the best thing was seeing Gal Gadot’s thigh jiggle when she landed after a huge jump).

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We had a nice family long weekend at the Morning Peninsula. I went to the Peninsula Hot Springs on my birthday for a facial and massage while Juno had daddy/daughter time. We had a lovely dinner at Petit Tracteur.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I don’t know. 2017 has been a pretty horrible year for me so I needed pretty much everything to be better. All I can do at this point is hope that 2018 is better.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
I have no freaken idea! Comfortable?

34. What kept you sane?
Anti-depressants, my therapist and my bike. First time ever I’ve been on anti-depressants and they have been so helpful. It’s also the first time I’ve actually stuck with therapy and it made me realise the last couple of years have been pretty intense for me. I also realised that I’m still angry with the idiot driver who hit me and left me with a broken arm. I think I always will be but acknowledging it has been helpful. Riding has been a huge coping mechanism and I’m grateful it’s a healthy one.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Meh…

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Marriage equality and silly non-binding postal survey. Such an astronomical waste of money, especially when you consider that the government knew what the outcome would be. The rubbish that was spouted by the no side was just that – rubbish and deliberately designed to confuse the issue. It was wonderful to see that the majority of the population could see right through their silly arguments and voted yes.

37. Who did you miss?
My now-former team lead. I really missed her this year as she was on maternity leave. I felt that she always had my back. I’m really happy for her that she managed to get position in the restructure, even if it’s one that she wasn’t too keen on (gotta pay for that childcare somehow!). It’s really nice that we’ve managed to make the transition to friends.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
My physiotherapist, Darren. He with the magic hands who sorted out my shoulder issues (even if it did hurt while he was working on my shoulder).

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017
That I don’t have to be who other people think I am. I can be so much more.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Eh…

The times, they are a’changin…

2017 is not going to go down as a great year.

It feels like I’ve been put through the wringer and have been thoroughly beaten to a pulp. It all started with the director of the unit I work in deciding that we were all going to move to hot-desking in around April. I loathe hot-desking and think it’s a fantastic way to demotivate staff and make people really unhappy.

Then I started to feel like I was wasting my time even turning up to work because I could see all the interesting projects being passed onto other people while I was doing all the boring drudge work.

I was feeling seriously under-valued and very put-upon and I totally lost the plot. In May I walked out of work and didn’t go back for a week and a half. The idea of actually going to work made me so anxious I thought I might throw up. I got myself a mental health plan and took myself off to see a therapist to help me work myself out.

I’ve never suffered from anxiety before and I had no clue how crippling and debilitating it can be. I know now and my adventures into it weren’t that serious.

It all came to head one Saturday morning when I was out for a ride. Riding is usually my stress relief but this one was just awful. I couldn’t correctly judge how close the cars were to me and my brain kept telling me they were too close and were going to hit me. I spent the whole ride totally freaked out. I made an appointment to see my GP and finally decided for the first time in my life to go on anti-depressants. The chemical balance in my brain was so obviously out of whack that it needed some help to get back to normal.

Even though I’ve suffered from depression my whole life, I’ve always resisted anti-depressants. There’s such a huge stigma to mental health and the medication that goes with it. It’s hard to get past. However I can definitely say that going on them was the best thing I could’ve done. They really helped me. I went from being constantly angry and upset 95% of the time to feeling relatively normal. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off me.

And then the restructure hit.

There’s never a nice way to do a restructure. People are going to lose their jobs and that’s the reality. But it seems that every time I’ve been through one here (this is my fifth one) it’s always been handled terribly. It feels like senior management have totally lost touch with the average Joes who do all the work so there was no acknowledgement of the work that’s being done. There also doesn’t seem to be any reason for this particular restructure to have been as slash-and-burn as it has been. And the timing is absolutely atrocious. They couldn’t have picked a worse time to do it. But whatever… it’s done.

Long story short, I’ve been made redundant.

After 17 years at RMIT, I’m being shown the door. A nice redundancy package is heading my way (hopefully) and I’ll wander off, never to have to sit in this freaken office ever again! I haven’t received my “official” letter as yet but maybe that’ll appear in tomorrow’s meeting. That and my paperwork that will tell me how much they’re going to pay me to leave quietly. 😛

To be honest, it’s the best possible outcome for me. The likelihood of me getting a job in the restructure I really wanted was always going to be slim. I accepted that when I didn’t apply for any of the jobs I probably would’ve been a shoo-in for. Still, I have to admit it’s not nice to be told your skills aren’t required and that essentially you’re not good enough to be kept around. I’m sad too because RMIT has been part of my working life for such a long time now. Realistically though, I don’t think I would’ve stayed that much longer anyway, especially if I was feeling that my skills were going to waste.

But screw ’em! I don’t have to be the person they think I am. I will miss my lovely MacBook Pro though.

On the upside…

I have been offered a place in the Graduate Diploma of Journalism at RMIT. It’s an official unofficial offer at the moment but I should get my official offer tomorrow. I am hugely, hugely excited. I wanted to do journalism when I was in year 12 but was directed away from it. So now I’m finally getting to do something that I really want to.

I may not end up as a journalist but it will get me much closer along the way to doing what I want to do – if I ever actually work that out! Once I’ve completed the grad dip I’m going to have a fairly unusual skill set so hopefully that will work in my favour. We shall see. Exciting times ahead!

After everything that has happened this year, I’d really like 2018 to be a year with no major life-changing decisions. That’d be nice after a year of being swamped by them.

The progress of time

So, this time three years ago, I was lying in a hospital bed with a badly broken arm and in an astronomical amount of pain.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot today because today was Amy’s Gran Fondo and I rode it. Yes, my time was slower than last year and I’m absolutely exhausted but I still feel like I achieved something. Today was a much, much better day than the one I was going through all that time ago.

My life was profoundly changed by that accident. I’ve accepted the fact that I will always be angry with the woman who hit me. I can’t change how I feel but hopefully I can move further away from that moment that has been one of two defining moments in my life in the past three years. I guess finally finding acceptance with my anger is a starting point.

I’ve had such issues with my body but I’m trying so hard to change how I think about my body for Juno’s sake because I don’t want her to suffer with the same issues that I have. It’s definitely not perfect and there is so much I would change about it but I should be thinking about how amazing it is. I went though a traumatic experience whilst pregnant, carried a baby, had major abdominal surgery in the form of a c-section and went through 18 months of physical therapy once I could after Juno was born. I need to acknowledge the fact I can pretty much do everything I did before is a pretty amazing accomplishment.

Yay me?