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Sunday, 12 January 2014

"You don't get Laundrettes"

So I was staying in Clara's house and she was coming back from Ireland on Saturday morning. I decided to pack up and strip the bed, wash the sheets and dry them and have the place nice and clean for when she got back at 9am. Well, that was the plan anyway...

I got up at 6am, cleared out my stuff and stripped the bed. Checking to see if I could wash the sheets and my clothes in her house I saw there was no washing powder left. So I stuck with the laundrette plan and headed out with 2 bags of clothes in tow. I have been to numerous laundrettes in Melbourne, and each time was caught out by not having enough $1 coins. So I came prepared with $15 worth of $1 coins and a $5 note. Arriving at EWash at 6:30am on a Saturday morning ( I was clearly the only one there. I put all my clothes into the washing machine and then got out the handful of coins, to notice that you needed to buy a $10 card to top-up. So, I put in the $5 note I had and went to put in coins, only to see that they give you back coins, but don't take them. OK.... So swearing under my breath I pressed for a refund and nothing happened. I was now down $5, left holding $15 worth of shrapnel and unable to wash my clothes.

I run up to Chapel St to the 7/11 Shop on the corner to get change. I take out $20 note from the ATM and ask for $5 and $10 notes; but he was only able to give me two $10 notes. I then run back for fear of someone robbing my clothes and find that I'm still alone in the laundrette at 7am, ready to continue.

I go to put in the $10 for the card and the machine won't take it cos the $5 I already put in is still in the system and so all I needed to put in is $5. So now I'm own $5, and left holding $15 worth of coinage and two $10 notes. It's like I'm emptying my bank balance into my hands. RAGING, I run across the road to the only other place in the vicinity that is open at this time on a Saturday morning, and buy some brekkie to get change. Once received, I give the $10 note and ask for two $5 notes and they explain that they have none! HOW HARD IS IT TO WASH CLOTHES IN THIS CITY?!

My mate Úna then gets onto me and tells me that Marion has a card for that laundrette so I can put money on that and use it. Success! So, I run to hers and get the card, run back and see my clothes are still there, select "Warm wash - Quick Dry" and go ahead with the process. FINALLY, it's after 8am, but I manage to get the washing machine to start washing my clothes. One would think the ordeal was over then, but that's not how things in my life roll....

I wait the 25 mins for the washing to wash, and "quick-dry", while eating my, now-cold, brekkie. It reminded me of the times in Toulouse that we would go to the "lavarie" with a rucksack full of clothes to wash them, and always come home with a story. Whether it was Sarah recounting the tale of seeing a woman in a Shell-Suit sitting on the washing machine eating a raw potato, or Jen and I meeting a French dude who was openly chatting away to us while neatly folding his Y-fronts in full view of Jen's shocked face. What drama used to enfold in those laundrettes. It was almost a day-out for us!

At the end of the cycle I open the door of the machine and try taking the clothes out to put them in the dryer. Each item weighs about 20kgs in the amount of water that it has soaked up. The towels weigh at least a ton each and there is water flowing out of the sheets when I take them out. One smell of them makes me also realise they, in fact, haven't been washed at all, only soaked in water for the entire time. FUMING at this stage, I recount the story to a mate, who swings by and collects me to bring me and my 80kg soaking wet bag of dirty clothes to his house to use his washing machine. After making a deal with his mother to hang out her washing in exchange for the use of the machine, I put on two washes and wait for them to spin while he tests me on my music knowledge. Suffice to say I'm lucky my life wasn't depending on my knowing the name of the artists! The look of pure disgust on his face showed me that he was less than impressed when I didn't know the name of the man screaming to the beat of some insanely fast drums. The rolling of the eyes when I didn't know who the one-armed drummer was or who some Dave-guy ( was.

Once the washes were done and he had enough of asking if I'd "lived in a cave" for the 31 years of my life, he dropped me back to the laundrette so I could finally dry the clothes and sheets. Cue Úna coming back from fitness and seeing that I was STILL at the laundrette 5 and a half hours later. My clothes were still half-wet, but the sheets were clean and dry, which was the whole point of this half-day exercise. A life-altering event which tried my patience, took my money and left me wanting to burn down the establishment, if only the floors weren't so wet from my clothes.

Úna was almost afraid to tell me at this point that Clara, who had arrived over 3 hours previously, said to her "sure why would Ciara wash my sheets; I've spare ones here?".
Deep breaths...Moral of the story - sleep in a sleeping bag.

Monday, 6 January 2014

2014 - the year of the smile

So it's another year.

I was working New Year's Eve and was no more in the mood to go out and "celebrate" the passing of 2013 and the coming of the following year. I would have preferred to have spent it sleeping; but had previously said to Ruthie that I'd go out to Republika ( with her, Rainman and Nina. Not sleeping the previous week had exhausted me and I was suffering from it.
Arriving to the massive queue outside and having to wait for 45 minutes was even more off-putting, but I eventually got in to join the girls and ring in the New Year. 

As I sat amongst the crowds of people in the bar (difficult enough in itself considering how tight the jeans I was wearing were!!), the music blaring and the drinks flowing; I thought about 2013 and all that had happened. While you may think that you haven't done much this year, when you reflect back it's a very different story. I had experienced things that will stay with me forever; the Orbost BMW Bike trip where we rode 2000km around Victoria in a few days, the Great White Shark Dive, the trip to Tassie with the girls, the NZ Snowboarding trip, the hockey antics, the friends I made along the way and the countless nights out and laughs. The people who left, the people who came to visit and those who came to stay. The laughter, the tears, the loneliness, the fear, the pain, the good news and bad news - new beginnings and lessons learned. What a difference a year makes.

And with that I wondered about what 2014 had for me. New Year's Resolutions where you make unrealistic promises to yourself to eat and spend less and workout and save more. Where you set yourself up for failure by setting multiple unachievable goals that you're to attain. 

For me, I'm sure this year was going to contain more visitors, new arrivals, more hockey and friends, more laughter and good times. But along with that comes more struggles, more grief, hard times and difficulties. I chose to not think of these negative happenings, sitting on a cloud above me; knowing that it was going to rain heavy sometime soon. Focus on the positive, on the good and on the end-result. The bigger picture, the silver lining and the support you have in loved ones that will bring you out the other side, hopefully a better and a stronger person.

This year my New Year's Resolution is to be happy. Sounds simple, but not too easy at times.

So, as we counted down from 10 in the bar on St. Kilda beach and watched the fireworks go off over the city of Melbourne, I thought to myself  "2014; let's be havin' ya..."

Row Row Row your boat...

So Christmas came and Christmas went. As expected, it most definitely had none of the usual Christmas feel about it; but how could it? Christmas is what you make it, and we didn't make it anything. But this was on purpose, and almost out of self-defence; to protect against depression, loneliness and the reality of being on the opposite side of the world from friends and family.

Christmas Eve after work we went to visit Ruthie and Steve and then after a couple of drinks went onto Rainman's house to decorate Gingerbread Houses - an alien concept to me, but one that I most definitely will be incorporating it into my Christmases from now on! What fun!!! Pity I didn't get to eat it afterwards!

I treated Christmas Day as just a day off work; gym in the morning followed by brekkie and opening of presents - where I had been spoiled by those at home. How grateful I feel for the people I have around me and in my life!
The thoughtfulness of those who sent me cards and gifts, those who texted, called or Skyped! To think that so many people were thinking of me at Christmas made me feel so loved and yes; made me cry as I sat on the sofa reading one particular card from Leno. Heart-wrenching doesn't even describe it! Also seeing how much chocolate I had received made me almost go straight back down to the gym to try limit the amount of damage that was clearly going to be done; especially after tasting Rainman's Christmas Cookies!!

The sun didn't come out til 5pm Christmas Day, so we went down to Albert Park to lie out for a couple of hours before coming back in for a marathon 6 hour Skyping session home to those who were around. At 1am I went to bed; glad the emotionally draining day was over and already looking forward to being home for the next one!

St.Stephen's Day (Boxing Day to Commonwealth peeps) came and Paul was itching to go out to Mornington. After another quick trip to the gym we headed off to apparently have a picnic and sit on the beach. Why he was bringing his fishing rod was beyond me...til we arrived in Mornington and I could see the "Rent a boat" sign on the beach. Previous boat trips with Paul have always ended badly, but I decided to give him another chance and we headed off away from shore at a nice leisurely and calm pace. I was to lie out on the front of the boat and he was going to fish. So I got the flabby, pasty bikini body out and lay on the front of the boat, but with my head below the boat edge; so I couldn't see the sea and so hopefully it wouldn't make me seasick. After about 10 mins the sea got more choppy and Paul decided to try and drive to calmer waters. As he steered the boat into each wave, I got more and more soaked as the water broke over the boat, but he assured me it would be OK in a few minutes. Presuming he was steering closer to the shore and harbour, I didn't bother getting up. About 15 minutes later he stopped the boat and we stayed where we were for a while. Then, he pipes up "We gotta go. That was a voicemail from the lifeguard telling us to come back cos were 4.5 miles out to sea". I sat up. "We're WHAT?!" I look around and I can see nothing apart from land in the distance. I thought I was going to freak out but I calmly told him to take me back in. And that's where the fun started.

The sea was now so rough that the boat was crashing into each wave. I was clinging for my life onto the boat and completely soaked in the process. The water was freezing and I had a blanket wrapped round me, which was now equally as wet as the sea. I almost fell out of the boat twice with the rocking and then we see the lifeguard coming out on his boat to RESCUE US!! He pulls in front of us and escorts us back into shore. I didn't know if I was more mortified at having to be escorted to shore by a yellow & red man, more angry at Paul for being so stupid and driving so far away, more terrified at dying at sea or more annoyed that I'd now definitely have to have a shower and wash my hair before going out tonight! Rough was a nice way of putting how I looked as I got to shore. We were collected by a young boy who innocently asked "how was it?", and was shocked at my "NEVER AGAIN!" reply - which was most definitely directed at Paul. Strike three for the boating experiences; stick to the shore Captain.