Sunday, 29 May 2011

Mental Hellth - living the dream

You know those nightmares you have when you are heading inexorably towards your doom (falling from a cliff, driving an out-of-control car, that sort of thing) and you can’t do a damned thing about it? You can’t even scream out because for some reason your voice won’t work. You can’t breathe, you can’t move, you can’t do anything to help yourself – you just watch everything unfolding, a sense of silent desperate helpless hopeless frustration gripping you. There is no escape.

That’s my life right now. It’s why I’m blogging, instead of marking the 60-odd essays, writing the 120 reports, and creating the two exams – Herculean tasks, all of them - that are due this week. Blog and be damned, because you can't do all that other stuff - there’s simply no way. 

I managed to mark 30 essays today, after starting at 5am. Yes, it is Sunday. Somewhere in there I managed to cook 2 vats of soup so at least I will have easy-to-prepare, no-fuss food this week, rather than opening a bag of potato chips.

I give up. It can’t be done. My head hurts. I’ve cried this week, several times, out of sheer exhaustion and frustration. I teach such a full load that I barely have any free periods during the day. So - just about all my planning and marking has to be done outside school hours. Oh, but school manages to eat into that time as well. There's a meeting every Monday till 5pm and basketball training every Thursday after school. There’s a basketball game every Saturday, and last week there was one 7.30-6pm day and one 7.30-7.30pm day at school, so I didn’t really have much time outside school hours to do any of my school work then either. I can't run on adrenalin any more, coz I used it all up.

I am so tired by the end of the day that I can’t think straight. Mindless, I can’t even enjoy reading a good book before bed. Besides, if I had any mental energy left I would have to spend it on marking, not reading a book for pleasure. My eyeballs are full of sand. I wake at 5am with lead in my veins, and organise my lessons for the day so I can at least survive one day at a time. Still no time to do my marking. Did I mention my head hurts?

Shopping? I try to sneak in a bit of time for grocery shopping. A zombie shuffle along the supermarket aisles is almost therapeutic, except for the guilt induced by the fact that it's eating into my marking time. Last Friday, having run out of food and energy, I bought breakfast from *gasp* the McDonalds drive-through, on the way to school at 7am. Nice one.

My house is a pig-sty. My garden is overgrown and neglected. I spend my days and nights paralysed with tiredness and frustration, and have to conserve all my strength to get myself through the days at school, teaching one class after another in a relentless bloody grind. Mark your essays, I tell myself. Fuck off, says my overcooked brain, fighting for its life by retreating into avoidance mode – because that's all it can do - and the problem is compounded. My life is an endless vortex of overwork and guilt. It's hell on earth.

I’m living the dream all right. The one where I am heading inexorably towards my doom (falling from a cliff, driving an out-of-control car, that sort of thing) and I can’t do a damned thing about it. I just watch everything unfolding, a sense of silent desperate helpless hopeless frustration gripping me. There is no escape.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Too Busy to Blog - feels like the world is ending!

  •  School has eaten my life 
  • My inferior pubic ramus refuses to knit 
  •  I am battling bikelessness and the depression that naturally follows that state
  • I don’t know how long I can keep this up 
  •  I miss my blog, dammit!
The less said about my lack of healing, the better. No idea when I’ll be able to get back on a bike, and this is causing me massive distress. Don’t even ask, coz I’ll bite. Or cry. Crying is more likely…

So, to distract myself, I’ve been thinking about toilet paper – as you do. 

I buy an ‘eco-friendly’ brand. Apparently it’s recycled (eeeew, I hope it’s not recycled from Other People’s toilet paper! YUK….) 

My toilet paper has little green frogs printed on it. This is supposed to show that it’s frog-friendly toilet paper, I suppose – but I find that peculiar. If someone wiped their bum on pictures of ME, I wouldn’t assume they were using Betty-friendly toilet paper… I would assume they were – oh, come ON – if somebody wiped their arse on YOU, would you think they were respecting you or caring about you???

Why do toilet paper manufacturers put cutesy pics on toilet paper? The other day at my daughter's house I had to wipe my bum on cute little puppy paw prints. Awwwwww..... And wtf have sea-shells ever done to deserve the ol' arse-wiping treatment?

Here’s a message to the manufacturers of the eco-friendly toilet paper – I would rather be wiping my bum on images of nasty environmental ravagers and destroyers – images of Exxon execs, for example – than poor innocent little green frogs/sea shells/puppies...

Just saying…

Oh. My. God. I need to be riding a motorcycle again. 

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A Bike Weekend - with a twist...

I love going away for weekends on the bike, except I don’t actually have a bike at the moment. That is a bit of a spanner in the works!

Before my accident, plans were in the pipeline for a bike weekend to Bright, in Victoria. I decided that I would still go, even though I’d be on 4 wheels rather than two.  Turns out Bright was a bit far for a cripple in a car, just for an overnight stay, so my lovely bike friends made some last minute changes and bookings, and we ventured to Wyndham, NSW, instead.

Wyndham is a tiny little town a bit in from Pambula on the far south coast of NSW. It’s in a communications Black Hole. The TV ads there are for businesses in Alice Springs, (?!? Hello? That's in Central Australia!) and Darwin, which makes you feel as if you’ve somehow arrived in an alternate universe.  There’s no mobile phone reception there, and no internet, and there was a Monty Pythonesque feel to dinner at the Robbie Burns Pub (established 1848), which was one of the most memorable dinners I’ve had in a long time.

There were six of us. Mark the Miffy Friend and I went in my little car, which was designated the Support Vehicle for the trip. My biker mates Pen, Pris, Peaches and Deb put panniers and petrol in the boot of my car, and off we went. The petrol was a sort of security blanket for Peaches, who wasn’t sure how far his Ducati Monster could get on a tank of fuel. 

The weekend went something like this:
Nimmitabel Bakery (the one with the anatomically correct bull-elephant in the back yard) was the scene of an animated conversation about Pippa Middleton’s underwear (or lack thereof) over coffee and pepper steak pies.

Lizzy’s Settlers Cottage in Wyndham was our ultimate destination. We took the Darragh Mountain Road from Bombala. It was lovely, but showed signs of recent flood damage (like much of eastern Australia at the moment!) – lots of land slips and plenty of gravel on the road. 

 Lizzy's Settler's Cottage, Wyndham NSW

We enjoyed fish & chips on the wharf at Eden (and sausages and chips for me, coz I don’t like seafood). Yummo. 

Almost every night last week I dreamed – quite literally – of riding a bike, so I’d expected driving the car to be a right royal pain in the bum. It wasn’t.  Yes, I would’ve preferred to be on a bike, but going in the car was a whole lot better than not going at all!

After fish and chips in Eden, we returned to our cabin, and the Big Fun began there. We all sat out on the back deck, enjoying the rural views, the enormously fat horses (who liked salt & vinegar chips!) a couple of bottles of red and the company of good mates, before we headed up the street about a hundred metres to the pub, for dinner.

Hello Monty Python! We had the most fabulous night there! Due to things like libel laws, and good old-fashioned decency, I can only give you a brief pencil sketch of the high points of the night – but believe me, it was magnificent!

*The local characters were straight out of – of – actually, I’m not sure, but it seemed a combination of Little Britain, Monty Python’s Life of Brian and the film version of The Name of the Rose. I say this with great affection, because they were lovely and friendly – but there was a slightly surreal quality to the whole evening.

*There was a child chasing a dog around in the pub. Nobody thought this was odd. The dog ended up wearing a green t-shirt. Nobody thought this was odd either. 

*There was a Potato Crisis and the meals were severely delayed until potatoes were sourced (from Tasmania, apparently, given how long it took our meals to arrive) Eventually, said potatoes appeared on plates next to a series of identical heart-shaped (in honour of the Royal Wedding?) chicken schnitzels.

*Pen played the stringless guitar in the pub. This sterling performance was later topped by her performance, back at the cabin, of ‘listening to whale music’ with a lampshade on her head. Virtuoso stuff! She's a very talented performer.

*Pris entertained us with high-decibel snoring for much of the night. No wonder we needed to drink so much wine!

Miraculously, we all awoke to the beautiful country morning on Sunday with clear heads, and had a spirited ride to Candelo, along winding rainforesty roads that glittered with sunshine and dew. We spent a couple of hours sampling the delights of Candelo Markets, where Peaches broke a tooth on a killer quesadilla(!) 
 At Bemboka Bakery

At Bemboka Bakery we ate MORE stuff, including this little fellow – in celebration of Pen’s birthday last week, before heading up Brown Mountain.
 Brown Mountain is probably my favourite road to ride on a bike, but my poor little car didn’t like it one bit. It struggled to get up the steep, winding road that still showed evidence of severe weather about a month ago.  Fallen rocks (about the size of a small car!), fallen trees, land slips… It was a relief to get to the Piper's Lookout, near the top, without having my engine explode.
Mark, Deb, Pen at the lookout.

I fully expected to find poor Peaches of the Broken Tooth by the side of the road somewhere, on a de-fuelled Ducati  – but it didn’t happen. He actually made it to Polo Flat servo at Cooma, and refilled his weeny tank there.

Our final stop – the place at which we had a parting of the ways – was Williamsdale, back in the ACT (Google Maps lists it as being in NSW for some reason...) We hung around there, talking and laughing the way you do when you want to prolong the time you’ve spent together. The car boot was emptied and the bikes were re-loaded. Pen & Pris ate ice creams. We finished the salt and vinegar chips. We talked about organising another ride. It was sad, and nobody was in a hurry to head home.

Weekends spent with good friends are priceless. I hope we do another one soon – and I hope I won’t be driving the Support Vehicle!