25 February 2009

Number 10 (It's going to be a long story)

Well, here it is March 1st, or at least it is here in the land down under, and as such it happens to be the tenth anniversary of the happiest day in my life. Ten years ago, I met my husband and I am ever so grateful for whatever fates were involved in our meeting because when I met my husband, I was definitely not in the market for a new partner. However, when I met him something started that I was never going to be able to stop and as it grew nor did I ever wish it to stop.

The first day I met the man, who would eventually return a smile to my face and into my heart, I was visiting a very dear and close friend here in Australia. She had recently helped me through a very difficult time in my life, that being the passing of my late partner. Therefore, while I was wrapping up the loose ends of that very difficult time in my life I decided one day that I needed to get away and told my friend that I was going to come visit her here in the Land of Oz. I had gone to meet my friend for lunch as I had been doing every day during my visit in between sight seeing. When I arrived for our lunch date, a tall handsome man walked into the reception area at the hospital that my friend worked at and my friend introduced us. She then proceeded to invite him to join us for lunch. He seemed busy and distracted but he accepted the invitation and we all left a few minutes after he finished whatever had him so distracted. I later found out he was actually standing in for the boss while the boss was on holiday (vacation).

We had lunch at a little French bistro down the street from the hospital. The conversation flowed easily but a bit nervous at times. This new acquaintance was nice enough although he was a bit silly. He told many silly stories from the hospitals, which were even funnier because the fact was that unbelievable as they were they were true and you could not help but laugh at what he was telling us. I think his story telling was a defence mechanism on his part that he used when meeting new people. Anyway, lunch finished and after saying good bye back at the hospital to both my new acquaintance but also to my friend I went on my way and went looking for more sightseeing photo opportunities to fill my day.

Two day alter the friend I was staying with asked if I would like to go out for dinner. Since I was on holiday I had no set plans so I of course said yes. She then asked if it was okay if the new acquaintance could join us, I once again agreed. He was her friend after all so who was I to tell her who she could have dinner with, I was after all just along for the ride. We ate a Greek restaurant, which was a first for me. I enjoyed the food and the company. This new acquaintance, true to form, continued to entertain with his stories. At the end of dinner, my friend said she needed to call it an early night, as she had to work early the next day. However, she did not want to ruin my evening and told me that I should stay and enjoy the company of this new acquaintance to which he whole-heartedly agreed. Now I know that this sounds like a set up but I can definitely assure you that it was not. Remember I had just lost my partner, 2 months prior and at the time as I was to find out later, this new acquaintance was not himself on the market looking for a parent, In fact he was very happy being single and enjoying all that comes with it, if you know what I mean.

So once again I accepted another invitation to enjoy the company of this man and off into to the night we all went, she back home and the two of us to enjoy the nightlife. Sydney was heating up because it so happened that I had come for my holiday during the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival. The partying started a month before culminating in a huge parade. The city was electric and all of the bars and pubs where full of excited, not to mention good looking men who were getting ready for the party of their lives which was scheduled for three days later. The excitement in the air was thick enough to cut with a knife, to use and old saying.

He took me to one of the local clubs, which was packed to the rafters. It had been months since I had been inside a club, since loosing my partner. We had stopped going weeks before he passed due to his illness. I had been having huge anxiety attacks since his passing, my way of reacting to one when they came on was to run, and I mean literally run. I would want to run to anywhere to anywhere and nowhere but I figured if I ran fast enough I could run away from the fear and the enormous anxiety. My doctor had me taking large doses of Xanax, which helped, but occasionally an attack came through and I never knew when or what would set it off. Now I had no idea that being in the club with the loud music, all those happy men and just the charged energy of the moment would be the thing to set off a panic attack.

The new acquaintance had gone to get us a beer and it had taken him a few minutes because as I said the bar was bursting at the seams with people partying. By the time, he arrived back with two ice-cold Australian beers, a first for me that unfortunate I was not going to be able to enjoy. The waves of panic had started shortly after he left to get the beers. I was suddenly alone and afraid the room was starting to spin and all of the noise and blaring disco anthems were not helping calm me. When he arrived back I took the beer had one sip and thought maybe this would pass now that he was here but it didn't stop it just kept getting worse and my need to run was becoming unbearable. I yelled at him over the music that I needed to go. He of coursed confusedly asked me why. I said I could not explain but I needed to go. Fortunate for me as a health professional he could see what was happening to me. He recognised the signs of the panic attack on my face and in my voice. At he same time he, as had other co-workers of my friend, had been told by her about my attacks as she was concerned that I might have one when I was by my self out sight seeing. She was worried what would happen to me being in Sydney, a city of which I had no idea of which way was up, and what and where an attack take me if I were to take off and get lost.

He responded quickly to my pleas but asked me to not run but instead stay right there with him and that we would leave right away. As we made it outside the fresh air filled my lungs and head but the attack still had a hold of me. I was so frightened but he did his best in a very calm and caring tone talked me through the attack. He said we could go some where quiet for a cup of tea or alternatively his apartment was close by which he could guarantee would be quite and also quite safe. Again, it all sounds so cliché but there was no underlying sinister intention. I can guarantee the only thing on my mind was running, but he knew that was not a very good option. I agreed to go to his apartment.

We arrived at his apartment and he immediately set to the task of making us a cup of tea. He lived on the third floor and so he opened all the windows and let in the fresh air. I stood on his balcony trying so very hard to calm myself. He continued to talk to me in that calm reserved tone. I think he was trying to distract my mind because he started pulling questions out of mid air. I do not think he cared what he was asking just as long as it distracted me and allowed me to calm down. At the time we arrived at his apartment it was around 10-11 pm and I kept saying that I needed to get back to my friends house or she would be worried. He said I should not leave just yet and that if I really needed to go he was going to come with me. I know he was trying to protect me and I appreciated it. I said I would wait a little while longer before I left and that when I did I would take a cab that would take me straight to her house so I did not have to attempt taking one of the inner-city trains out to her place.

As I sat there with my cup of tea (and believe me it really does calm you) I slowly started to calm down. He started to ask me more about my life. He had some idea of why I had come to Sydney but he asked about the rest of my life like where did I grow up and such. Half way through this very calm conversation, I suddenly started to shake and then burst into tears. He didn't know what to say he just kept asking "What's wrong, what's wrong?" and then it came to me and I told him actually nothing was wrong that in fact everything was better and that I was crying tears of relief. What I realised was that here sat a man who wanted nothing from me other then to help. A man that did not know me from one guy the next guy. A man who was concerned enough and kind enough to sit with me and just let me talk. I had not found that release since my partner died, not even from the friend that had brought me to Sydney not from any of my other friends or even my family. This man was an outsider and for some reason I trusted him as he had no pre-conceived ideas of me or my life and that made me feel safe to talk about things that I had kept inside since that terrible day. I had made a new friend and I was so every grateful. We sat on that balcony all night and we talked, or I talked mostly and he listened. We sat there and we eventually watched the sunrise.

So here I am, ten years later with so much more of the story that I could tel. All about flying back and forth over seas a total of nine times in the year and a half following that night. I could tell you about the two years we spent going through the exhausting legal process that would allow me o stay in Australia as his partner. Moreover, I could tell you about all of the things in between both to very good and sometimes the very bad that life has handed us both. But in the end through everything that life has handed us we have faced then together and that nab I met ten years ago on that balcony has kept that calm tone for when I needed it as well he has also been the voice of reason my life. I have loved in the past but this time I have found my soul mate and it is very lucky when someone finds his or her soul mate. I am truly one of those lucky people

I want to say to that man, the man that I am not ashamed to call my husband, my partner, my lover and most of all my friend; to him I say I" Love You" with all that I have and I will continue to work at this relationship as hard as I have from day one. Because what we have, is the most important thing in my life. Happy anniversary sweetheart, let us get on with the rest of our life and see what wonderful things it brings to our life together.

24 February 2009

I'm so over looking for a job!!!

Surprise two posts back to back, but I needed to do this one just to vent. I am so over looking for a job and having to do everything that it involves. You have to of course actually look for the jobs. So you search the newspaper, the Internet, you check out signs in retail storefronts (yes I'm that desperate) I will say there is nothing wrong with retail. I worked in that field for ten years and did everything from stock rooms to area manager. I loved retail but at some point I decided to branch out and when I did I liked what happened. Anyway, that's not the point of this little rant I just wanted to make sure that all of you in retail understand that I think that what you do is not worthless and some how beneath me, far from it, I've just changed directions that's all.

So as I was saying, you have to first find a job that's advertised. Next you have to actually make an application for the job. Now in some cases all you have to do is submit a resume or as they like to use here your CV (Curriculum Vitae) Now CV is not incorrect it just sounds a bit old fashioned and a bit snobbish to me but hey what ever makes the employer happy. Sending in a CV and then waiting for a reply is the easy one. However, I don't know if things have changed in the states since I moved from there ten years ago but there is something they do over here that I had never done before in terms of looking or applying for a job. They have this thing called a selection criteria. I may have written about this before and if I have to bad because as I said I need this little rant and if you are reading this and have read something to the effect previously I apologise even though I don't have to because it's my blog and I'll rant if I want to but I apologise because that's the kind of guy I am.

Back to selection criteria, they are these statements, usually 5-7 of them, that ask you or state things that the employer wants you to respond to in a way as to tell them and show by example how in your previous work you are now capable to do what they are asking of you. Here is an example of one of the criteria I recently worked on, without my response as it would make a long boring post, and I can make it boring without all of that. Anyway, here is an example:

1. Demonstrated knowledge of and experience in project management practices including stakeholder liaison and resource management.

2. Demonstrated planning, organisation and coordination skills, together with the ability to assist with the development, analysis and review of policy and planning initiatives.

3. Well developed personal communication skills including conflict prevention and resolution skills, and the ability to consult and liaise in a manner which is clear, fluent and makes a positive impression on others.

4. Demonstrated experience in using word processing, spreadsheets, data base computer software packages and web based information and knowledge systems.

5. Ability to collate data and interpret and analyse information, and to prepare written, oral and other communication formats in a logical sequence and which is readily understood by the intended audience.

6. Well developed ability to work individually and as a member of a team and proven ability to be adaptable and flexible to achieve the best results in an environment of change, ambiguity and reports.

7. Demonstrated research ability to support the development of strategies including literature searches and web based investigation.

Now some of this may sound straight forward and it is, but when you have to do two or three of these at a time it can sometimes be overwhelming. It does come in handy when some of the same question/statements show up on different jobs selection criteria. You can then do a bit of good old cut and paste and then tweak it to the specific job. I just feel like I am better at pleading my case in person than I am in written form. It's not that I can't do it in written form but I don't see how an employer can really judge you without really getting to see you, hear you, and overall getting a view of the whole package. The selection criteria is just a bunch of words, even if your responses are very well thought out and strategically versed words they are still just words and I believe I am more than just a bunch of words.

So, after you fill in the selection criteria and along with that you send in your CV, you then wait to see if you are short-listed for an interview. If you get an interview you are then interviewed by a panel of at least three people usually made up of the direct supervisor, someone else in the organisation that has knowledge of what is required for the position you are applying, and finally someone from outside the organisation that knows something of what the job entails. Usually this person is a stakeholder with common interests with that organisation. When you go into the interview there is a set group of questions that they are going to ask you. Most organisations will let you look at the questions about 15 minutes before you go in for the interview. You sit for the interview with the panel on one side of the table and you on the other which is very intimidating setting up a power setting making them definitely in charge and then after the interview you wait.

I know this all seems probably pretty normal to a lot of people but for me right now it is exhausting. Oh and let's not forget that I also have to maintain my job diary book in which I have to list all the jobs I've applied for and or made some attempt to seek employment with an employer. The book that shows that I made at least ten job contacts per fortnight (every two weeks) so I can prove to the unemployment agency that I am actually looking and that they will continue to pay me a bit of financially assistance while I look.

I don't know maybe I'm just having a bad day. It is raining maybe that's why I'm so down. It's just so very frustrating and overwhelming sometimes. It also doesn't help that the world is in an economic slump thus taking jobs away. All I can do is to keep trying and hope that something will come along and even though they say don't just jump at the first offer you get I'll have to admit it will be really hard for me not to do so. At the same time I have to get an interview first. I'm sure it will happen. Anyway, thanks for letting me rant and thanks even more for continuing to read down this far into this post. You either like me or like what I've written or you have way to much time on your hands. See ya' around soon...

23 February 2009

Anyone for some random thoughts?

Well another week has passed and it seems that once again the best I can come up with are some random thoughts. However, it seems that you get more out me with the weekly random thoughts than you would if I posted daily. Anyway, lets move on.

I put a few pictures up on Flickr if anyone is interested. One set is all of the pictures I took from our friends wedding which you can see here. The other set is a few pictures I found that I took a few years ago and I thought I would share them. They can be found here. Enjoy...

I continue to look for employment. I received two more "thanks but no thanks" letters. So far it's not looking very encouraging, out of 26 jobs applied for, I have been turned down by 5 of them I'm still waiting to hear something from the others other than "thank you for your application we will get back to you shortly". We will be patient and persevere but it's not easy.

This is the last week of summer and based on the temperatures it looks like it is going out with a bang. We are going to have a few really warm days and some thunderstorms. Summer has been basically pretty mild this year until this last month and mother nature finally turned up the heat most of the month.

As mentioned last time, hubby has been working in the yard. He planted some new grass seed in an area that gets very little sunlight in the winter and as such moss actually grows where the lawn should be so in the summer most of that area is pretty crap. So hubby dug up the top layer and replaced it with new soil, tossed out some grass seed and we now have a wonderful new patch of lawn. In saying that now because that new patch looks so great hubby says he will need to do the rest of the lawn but like this last section he will do it in stages.

I might have mentioned that we are going to Sydney next month (March) so I can see my neurologist for a 3 month review of the progress made on getting the feeling back in my legs. I think that it will be another bit of improvement over last time except we have a new problem. It seems that the neuropathy in my feet has decided to rear it's ugly little head. I don't know if getting the feelings back into my legs has created this problem or not. I'm wondering that if I'm getting the feeling back in my legs, that because the nerve paths are waking up, is it a new way for the damaged nerves to send out the incorrect messages using the re-awakened nerve pathways in my legs? All I know is that they started hurting about 2 weeks ago. I thought maybe it was just a bad day but it has turned out to be 14 bad days in a row so something is happening. We'll just have to wait and see what the doctor has to say.

The bushfire continue to burn in Victoria. Such a tragedy so many innocent lives and they continue to add to the death toll I hope it stops soon...

On a happier note I'm sure that I've talked about the great food we have here in Tasmania. The fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the best in the world and I'm not just saying that because I live here but apparently it's the truth. December and through to late February is cherry season and the cherries grown here are so plump, dark and sweet. I can't stop eating them. I have been eating them every day now since like the middle of December. They are finally starting to dwindle in their taste, plumpness and overall quality as their growing season comes to an end but not to fear the ever so lovely blueberries have started to come into season. Berries in general seem to grow well here. I think it's the temperate climate that helps, that and the fresh air and clean water. We get fantastic blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries which a lot of the blackberries are just growing wild as opposed to the others being farmed. You can see people on the sides of the roads collecting wild blackberries. Anyway I've switched to blueberries and now they are my daily treat.

Well on that sweet note I think I've rambled on enough and besides my random brain has called it a day. Well actually just the morning but as far as the post is concerned I'm all out of things to say. So, I'm done until next time take care and I'll see you next week unless something really exciting happens in between and if it does you'll be the second ones to hear about it, right after hubby. See ya....

14 February 2009

Random thoughts again....

It seems that posting random thoughts is the best I can do at the moment but at least it's a post. So here goes...

First and foremost Happy Valentines to my Hubby. I'm so glad I found you. You are my rock. I can't imagine my life without you and I know that our future together is solid. So in front of all that read this let them know that "I Love You and always will."

On a more serious note. Well not that my love for my hubby isn't serious because believe me it is dead serious but on another serious topic. I am heartbroken about the bushfire's on the mainland that have devastated the state of Victoria. The loss of so many innocent people. So many others who have lost their homes and everything that made up there lives. The loss of native animals as well as domestic. It's all so very sad. We have all been affected by this disaster and hope that soon it will end.

Job hunting continues and it is extremely frustrating. I keep applying but as of yet no interviews. As I might have mentioned before out of all the applications I've submitted I've only been turned down by two which leaves like twenty plus that have not said no but they also haven't said yes so there is still hope.

Hubby has been busy in the garden lately. I think he is trying to do two things. One he wants to get things done out there before his school starts again which will be Monday after next. Two I think he is doing a number of things getting the garden ready for autumn/winter. He likes his gardening as do I it's very relaxing and at the same time very rewarding.

A very dear and old friend recently visited. She has known hubby since forever. It was her first visit to our home since we moved to Tasmania. I, as did hubby, really enjoyed her short but sweet visit.

Hubby is going up to Sydney on Tuesday to see his parents. His mum is having a hard time with her chemo and the resulting loss of her hair so he thought he might be able to cheer her up. Mom if you are reading this and I know that you do. You know that if it was as easy as a two hour plane trip I would be doing the same for you but unfortunately it's a 20+ hour plane trip to come to see you so it's not that simple but it will happen. We just have to make sure that when it does we make the best of it.

I go up to Sydney in March to check in with the neurologist to see how the nerves in my legs are progressing since the back "surgeries". I think that they will be better than last time although there are still a few problems but as the doctor said last time it will take several months before we know the total impact of the surgeries.

Well that's it from me for now so I'll leave it at that. I hope that you get to share Valentines day with the one you love and even if you are single than be kind and love yourself. Take care and enjoy the day.

7 February 2009

Complete and utter randomness...

Today, because it's raining outside and I'm tired and I will probably crawl back to bed after I type this, all you're going to get are a bunch of complete and utter random thoughts. So here goes. I've applied for thirteen jobs so far I've only gotten two rejection notices. My worst nightmare is that the other twelve will all want to interview me and it will be for the same day or on the other hand they could all turn me down like the first two. We shall see. There are a lot of jobs that I could apply for but don't simply because I know it's not the right thing to do. What I mean is I could apply for a job at a fast food outlet but I won't. It's not that the job is beneath me but realistically I know as does the employer that I will never stay in the position. There is no incentive for me and I would get bored, hence leaving a month later. It's not fair to the employer or me.

All the kids in the neighborhood go back to school on Monday and I couldn't be happier. I think they should have to go to school year round and only get time off for good behaviour. Now that sounds like a mean old man talking and you're right. All summer long their running around yelling and squealing. They climb to top of the back fence to play peek-a-boo. They're lucky I've given up nude sunbathing. I'm just sayin'. All summer whenever we've tried to go out and do something like catch lunch somewhere or tried to go shopping they are every where running and screaming and they worst part is that their parents are completely oblivious to this behaviour. Maybe it's the parents I should take a stick to???

Since the kids are going back to school that of course means autumn is right around the corner. Boy the time sure does fly rather you're having fun or not. I heard that as you get older time seems to go by faster and that really does seem to be the case. In reality I think that when we are younger we are just oblivious to the notion of time and are concentrated on having fun and enjoying life. Where as when we get older we are very conscious of the time and now that we live in the real world and not that of a child, life is not all fun and games so time is suddenly an enemy. It's an enemy because we are getting older and those birthdays seem to come around faster each year and we don't have enough time to have fun anymore because we are working so hard to keep ourselves afloat with the car, house, and food bills. When we do get some time off we either can't afford to go somewhere to get away and relax or if we do we worry about the fact that we have to go back to work at the end of seven days and how we are going to pay for this holiday that I've put on my already maxed out credit card. Not to mention that we're older and time is flying and, well you understand.

I will miss summer. I hate the heat but if the summer can be mild and the temperatures can stay like in the 21-24C range (70-75F for all of you over there in USA land) then it wouldn't be so bad. I love all of the flowers that summer brings and now living in a temperate climate the flowers just bloom like madness. I also love having the windows open and letting a nice breeze run through the house. I love being able to hang the clothes outside to dry in the sunlight and air. There's nothing nicer than the smell that your clothes get from being dried outside in the summner breeze. It's not that I can't also dry them outside when winter comes it just takes longer. You know summer 2-3 hours winter 2-3 days.

Autumn officially arrives here in the land down under at the end of the month. I know it's not official according to all of the calendars but I think it just work out easier for Aussies instead of starting and stopping a season in the middle of the month or to be more exact three quarters of the way through a month. I mean it makes sense to me and it's a lot easier to remember. Now some of you might argue that it's very easy to remember (I'm going to use Northern hemishpere examples here) that winter starts December 21 and springs starts March 21st. I bet if you asked most people when does winter begin. I bet a lot of them would say December 1st. As well ask them when summer begins they would say June 1st and so on. I think mainly it has to do with markers, like in Autumn most people think that Autumn starts over Labour Day weekend, hence September 1 and not the 22nd of September. Kids are going back to school and Labour Day is here so is must be the beginning of Autumn. Well here, I think Aussies just simplified it and made the beginning of each season the beginning of a month so Autumn starts March 1, Winter on June 1 Spring September 1 and Summer on December 1. Now isn't that just easier to remember? Well I think so.

Last but not least not only does fall official start here in 22 days but March 1st will also be important for a very a special reason. What may you ask will that reason be? Well, I'm not going to tell you. Unless you already know then it doesn't matter, but just don't tell anyone else and make them wait until I tell them. In a way it's like you have a secret too

I'm outta' here so take care, stay well and as each day goes by try to take just a little time to Enjoy the day. (bet you thought I was going to say to Enjoy the View, As if)

p.s. if you see any typos please feel free to correct them yourselves. Thank you...