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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Let them eat cake!

The first months after Ita's passing were a bit of a blur to be honest; a lot of guilt-ridden days of not being able to go home for her. There are now days that I forget and then I go through the emotions of it all again when I remember; topped with the guilt of forgetting in the first place. It's difficult to describe long distance grief to someone who doesn't live away. I’ve said this before, but your life is so separate from everyone's at home that it's like you have two lives. You forget that things at home change, that kids grow up, that friends have babies and that some people die. You feel like everything will be exactly as it was when you left, waiting to continue upon your return. And then, when someone does pass away, and you’re now so used to not seeing them every day anyway, your mind cons you into thinking that they are just at home; especially after all the emotions of shock settle.
I think of her when I put on my boots in the morning as they're the ones she sneakily bought after seeing them on me. I think of her when I see the gift she bought me when I left for Oz, hanging on the wall in the sitting room. I have twice accidentally hit her number on FaceTime in my "Favourites" when I went to call someone and the sense of panic it instilled in me made me feel sick. Earlier this month, as I sat on the tram to go to work, I was left frozen to the spot - the hairs on the back of my neck standing up - as a lady got on and sat across me that could have been her twin. Equipped with gorgeous clothes and Ita's same glasses, I was stuck between being unable to stop half-smiling and staring at the poor girl whilst feeling nauseous at the thought of the trick I knew my eyes were playing with my mind.

My friend Maire tried to cheer me up after Ita's passing and so said she was taking me out to see "The Blues Brothers" musical. It was only the day before when she looked at the tickets that she realised it was actually "BLOOD Brothers"; a story which ends in death. I had to laugh at how much she failed on that one, poor thing! We went to see the play and then out for "a drink" afterwards. Somehow “a drink” lead to us rolling in the door at 6am, her wrapped in a blanket and my holding a bottle of vodka after walking down one of the main Melbourne roads. This wasn't before having to drag her away from a conversation with the men doing road-works on the main road outside our house when the cops drove by, and her pretending to be Batman with the blanket as her cloak outside the petrol station. A much needed release.

And so we continue with our lives.

I managed to get an even more stressful position within the Louis Dreyfus group, working longer hours and gaining nothing but more stress-weight and grey hair. The doctor pulled me in to get a handle on my thyroid meds after a 10kg weight gain in 4 months finally convinced them of my trying to tell them they were not working was actually the case. Why couldn't I be one of those people who lost weight with stress?? Imagine?! I'd be the skinniest person around with the amount of things I stress about!! :) First world problems, eh?? It didn’t help that they messed up when they took my bloods and then text me a week later to say all way fine. 8 weeks after this I contacted the GP to ask for a repeat prescription, only to have them tell me that I have to come in and see them as my results were way off. My response to the receptionist when she asked if I would like an appointment that day? “Trust me, you don’t want me to come in today”. It takes 6 weeks in between blood tests to see if the meds are working and they have just stalled me another 8 weeks. I was NOT a happy fat girl.

I now had to find an Endocrinologist seeing as though the doctors can’t get the world-class-fat-creating thyroid gland under control…although I’m hoping I won’t have died from obesity by then. Speaking of which, I was feeling so low about my having gained an extra person in weight in the last 6-months, that I was sitting there comparing myself to the man who died on Christmas Day and who had weighed in at over 450kgs no longer being able to wash himself.
It was a bad day.

An attempt at dressing up as Cindy Lauper for an 80s birthday party left me with permanently pink hair, despite the fact that it's meant to be a ONE-WASH-OUT product. 200 washes and $240 later I've still got tinges of orange and pink in my hair; which people love to draw my attention to, obviously thinking that perhaps I mightn't have picked up on the fact. Yvonne, I'm waiting for the final total spent before invoicing you for it all! :)

One night in July, after finishing work at 9pm, I was walking the usual 2km home, catching up on all the texts and Whatsapps as I made my way. This was my usual routine, most of the time meaning that I'd get home and not remember the journey as it was spent with my head in my phone and blind-walking the route home. This time, as I walk along the busy Punt Road in the dark texting Doireann from home, my ankle twists over where a tree is planted at the edge of the pavement. The path stops and dips and the tree is there just waiting to attack some unsuspecting creature like myself. I scream as I fall into the evil tree, grabbing hold of it to stop myself falling into traffic; branches tangling into my hair. The pain shot through my foot, but my concern was more if anyone saw me (obviously), so I leapt up and fixed myself, looking left and right to see if there were any witnesses. Lucky me - nobody about apart from the traffic whizzing by! So, I hobbled home, immediately returning to my phone to text Doireann what happened; clearly not having learned my lesson. I got home and put my foot up, sure of having twisted my ankle, informing Una of my plight. I was still picking leaves out of my hair the next morning.

Three weeks later my foot was still sore and walking on it hurt a lot, so I took myself to the Sports Health Clinic; only to leave 2 hours later, $500 lighter and fully equipped with a 6-week Moon Boot and a telling off by the doctor for my troubles. "Exactly how blonde are you?" I believe was what she asked me, before informing me that I had been walking around on a broken foot and torn ligaments for the past few weeks. Oops. I’ll take her rather harsh rhetorical question to be out of concern then.

The first weekend I was able to walk normally without limping in the huge contraption that had by then become a part of me; I got the heels out and headed to The Caulfield Cup Races. I lasted about an hour before taking them off.
Great day, although it wasn't a late one. We smuggled alcohol into the Race Grounds, putting Malibu into some pineapple juice cartons. Una and I were left to shame when another couple with us got the scalpel out, sliced the side of the cartons, poured out half the juice and poured in the alcohol, sealing the hole with a glue gun once they were finished, keeping the carton seal intact....
That's CSI material right there!

Luckily our "rookie" efforts weren't checked at the entrance and we had some refreshing "juice" to drink during the day! It was my first time at the Races and I had no idea what I was doing when betting, therefore deciding the best way was to bet on the names of the horses that I liked. Neilee - equipped with betting book - was horrified, but I managed to come out even!

Without going into detail about work, the old team environment wasn’t great and I was continually trying to improve it and up morale. One of the first things that was suggested was for newbie Katie and I to make a cake. Now, before I begin with this damning account of my “cooking skills” or lack thereof, let me first say that I can neither cook nor bake and have never eluded to the fact that I can, so don’t ask me why this came about as a suggestion.
Katie had just moved from WA and so had no friends yet (cue me) and no utensils for cooking, so we decided it best if we just buy a cake mixer and make things easier. So, fully equipped with me, said mixer, all the ingredients needed and two bottles of wine (to help the cooks of course), we headed to her apartment. We’re chatting away to each other as Katie instructs me what to do and how I can help (as the only thing I was currently helping with was drinking the wine). Katie tells me I can break up the biscuits and do the base of the cake. We had no utensil to break them up with, so I just put them in two plastic bags and used the – now empty – bottle of wine to smash them into pieces. Quite happy with my stroke of ingenuity, I’m still smiling when she hands me a piece of wrapping from the butter. I kindly put in the bin for her, all the while thinking she was a bit lazy to have handed it to me when she was standing right next to the bin. After taking all the day’s anger out on the biscuits, Katie goes to tell me how to put them in the tin but stops mid-sentence. “Why isn’t this greased? What did you do with the paper I gave you?
Apparently everyone knows that you grease the tin with the paper from the butter when it’s handed to you?! This is when she discovers that I’m serious when I say I can’t bake and her instructions immediately become a lot more specific as if speaking to a child…

When the preparation was all done (and the two bottles of wine inhaled), the oven was turned on and we had to wait an hour for the cheesecake to bake. It was already late, at 11:30pm, but I didn’t mind sitting and chatting for a bit longer. The two of us sat on the sofa talking until her alarm went off on her phone to remind her to take the cake out. Katie gets up, heads to the oven and stands in front of it – staring strangely through the glass. She must have been there about 20 seconds before she starts looking up and down and then opens the door of the oven again just staring into it. I said “What’s wrong? Is it burned?”, to which she replied “No….it’s not there!” Confused, I said “What do you mean it’s not there?!” “I can’t find the cake!!” she explained, as though it was the most normal sentence in the world.
Another 10 seconds before we realised that the cheesecake was still left on the table, right where we left it and directly in front of my line of vision for the last hour.

It was almost 2am by the time the cheesecake came out of the oven and poor Katie had to set her alarm again at 3:30am to remember to put it in the fridge. At least the cake looked a lot fresher than we did when we brought it, and its story, into work the next day. Masterchefs in the making...

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