Sunday, June 13, 2010

Don't Come the Cowboy With Me, Sonny Jim!

Like the Ouroboros, I find myself repeating certain ventures in my life. Some may describe me as a glutton for punishment, others may simply call me a fool.
Once more, I have delved into the sinful world of internet dating. Actually, I should not be so pessimistic; I know a number of happy couples who have met online and have marvellous, long-standing relationships.

I have paraded my profile on an internet dating site. The first site I joined was a huge disappointment to me. I should not have paid before browsing. I was gutted to discover that 96% of profile pictures on the website were of genitalia. I soon learned that the website seemed to be dedicated only in the pursuit of meaningless sexual gratification. I don't want to come across as a prude as I am well aware that for a lot of people, this is needed and adored. For me, however, I would like something a little more cerebral and durable.
I braced myself and deleted my account just moments later - forfeiting the dollars I had paid to join.

The second site was a little better - only 45% posted pictures of their exposed members - and although there was some evidence of testosterone-driven urges needing to be fulfilled, there was also a satisfying collection of people who seemed keen to find their perfect mate. So, another hunk of cash deposited for this slightly more redeeming site and I began selling myself to the most attentive bidder.

I waited.

And waited.

For crying out loud, I am a sales-person by trade! Am I not able to make my own personal form alluring to the masses? I have used the top-quality photographs taken recently by my good friend, Eric and I have been eloquent in my wording when trying to describe who I am and what I desire in a partner. So surely there is someone out there who appreciates my efforts.
Admittedly, it is early days, so I shan't chastise myself too greatly.

This is not, as I implied earlier, my first attempt at internet dating.
The last couple of times led me to the brink of depression as I was continually abused and rejected by cold-hearted monsters with one thing on their minds.
However, with this in mind, I am going in armed with hind-sight and more confidence than I have had for many years. I shall not shirk my inherent chivalrous and diplomatic nature by cloaking myself in a guise of carefree arrogance; I intend to remain my good-natured self. That said, I will attempt to raise my guard and fend off any offensive shuns with a nonchalant brush-off and continue on my eager jaunt.

I am not online to find a quick shag and another notch to my belt. My heart is tender and open, waiting for someone kind, considerate and warm.
So, to all those cowboys out there wanting their quick fix, keen to get their rocks off, you'll just have to go knocking else where.

Soldier on, Bennyboy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Shutting the Doors

Depression. The word itself evokes a dark veil of misery. There are, of course, a number of politically correct terms and a few euphemisms to infer the same meaning. The most common is the rather incongruous ‘black dog’. Surely to be followed by a soppy puppy would be a thing of joy? Admittedly, if you had allergies, that could be a problem.

I have suffered from depression for the majority of my adult life. I did not always know the reasons behind my erratic mood swings, but over time, it became apparent and eventually, it was diagnosed.

Before your eyes drift away to the ‘bookmark’ menu in search of something more cheerful to read or view, I must say that I am not going to go into detail about how and why, for that is my business, not yours. Heaven knows, I don’t want to inflict that upon you.

However, I would like to briefly touch upon the signs that I see when I begin to descend into the wallowing moods.

There are signs with my diet. It could go either way. I will either start binging on naughty foods like pizza or marmalade sandwiches, or I lose my appetite all together.

*I begin pushing people away. Not too far, just far enough so they are slightly out of reach. I will avoid contact and, if that isn’t possible, I will avoid discussions that are too close to comfort – hence my often inconsequential ramblings. (This is often proven by my belief that a witty one-liner is a perfect foil to fend off the most earnest of interrogators.)

*I begin shutting the doors, walling myself up in the comfort of my own abode and I’ll even unplug the telephone. Shut away from the havoc and inconsistencies of the world outside, I feel trapped, yet safe, like a survivor in a nuclear bunker, post-war.

*I begin thinking about minimising the clutter of my life. I imagine selling my possessions of simply giving them away in an altruistic act.

*I go to bed. I climb into the womb of slumber and retreat into a world of fantasy within my dreams. These night retreats begin earlier and earlier and last longer and longer.

These warning signs do not always arrive en masse and they don’t always appear in any particular order, but occasionally, one or two will creep up behind me and I shan’t notice until it’s too late.

When my conscience has done its duty and made good use of the Crow’s Nest, I can see the storm approaching. Often, there is sufficient time to steer the ship away, but other times, it’s a case of batten down the hatches and ride it out. (I shan’t stretch the maritime analogy further, I promise.)

I have a number of methods to combat the persistent Labrador (See? It sounds far too cute to be bad!)

1) I get out of the house. Yes, sometimes this means shopping. A jolly good purchase can definitely be the right medicine. Money can’t buy you complete happiness, but if it can raise a smile, who is to knock it?

2) I make calls to friends. Speaking to them over the phone or in person is a wonderful medication. It may feel daunting prior to the moment, but it can be a huge release once that initial roadblock has been hurdled.

3) I try to stop beating myself up and give my self some positive feedback. I am my own worst critic and I frequently flagellate my ego with torrents of mental abuse highlighting my own flaws and inadequacies. This is, obviously, bordering on the mental. So, in retaliation I force myself to praise those things which I perceive to be the better parts of my soul and being.

4) I watch something I love. It may be Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, a Fred and Ginger film from the ‘30s or Clue: The Movie. A bit of comedy or a ‘feel-good’ movie can do wonders – if you’re comfy with a big mug of tea and a packet of yummy biscuits, by your side, then all the better!

5) I read one of my 'comfort' reads - an Agatha Christie or a Dick Francis. Sometimes something familiar and easy to read can whisk you away to a better place - albeit full of murders and crippled horses.

6) I count my blessings. Those who are insensitive to depression may callously think we who suffer should just ‘get over it’. If only it were that simple. However, placing yourself in context with the rest of the world can bring a little light to your doldrums.

These steps I take are not almighty cures, they are merely safety buffers.

The BBC just aired an episode of Doctor Who, penned by Richard Curtis, which touched upon the subject of depression. Given its family tea-time slot, it wasn’t particularly in depth or heavy-handed about it. However, it did highlight the effect depression can have on people and purposefully showed that there are no easy answers.

For more information, please take a look at the following websites.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby

I have just come back from our annual work conference. For some reason, I always become rather stressed and anxious before a conference and this is often reflected in my stools. Luckily, my body grows accustomed and my bowels settle down.
It all began on Monday when the company got together for a buffet lunch in the office canteen area prior to an elaborate presentation at the Rivoli cinemas.
It is quite an extravaganza with some rather swanky videos and funky tunes to boost our energy. I am pleased I work for a company that does not take itself too seriously and those who present have a decent sense of humour. I'd go mad otherwise.

We often have 'special guests' at our conferences and the marketing department do a superb job in getting some big names (hanging out for Dawn French next year - fix it for us, Dan, could you?)
However, being the person I am, I am often a tad unfamiliar with some of the big Aussie names we attract.
At the end of the Rivoli presentation, we were the audience for Matthew Hayden, a cricketer whose book is due out in a few months. Cricket.
That's the one with the boxes, right? Ah yes... now I recall...

Well, Matthew gave his little speech with some gloriously flowery mixed metaphors and anecdotes so full of sporting jargon I was left none-the-wiser, but I don't suppose he gets paid the big bucks for public speaking gigs. It could have been worse - it could have been Jason Akermanis.
All I know is that I'm crap at cricket, so I can't complain.

When this was over, the sales teams from around the country headed to Creswick. If you have ever played the computer game (or seen the film) Silent Hill, then you know what to expect (minus rabid dogs and zombie nurses - one hopes).
The Novotel is a good hotel; we stayed there last year too. My good friend Gavin Burbidge and I usually share a room, but this time, we got a two-bedroom suite, so I didn't have to put up with his snoring and he didn't have to put up with my farts.

As you can see, it was a nice suite. It had it's own fireplace, which was not to be sniffed at - for fear of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

I had the larger room with the super-dooper bed and I had the en suite with the shower.

There was also a kitchenette for some unknown reason and Gavin's bathroom had a wonderfully deep spa bath. I did take the opportunity to have my once-a-year bath on the Tuesday afternoon, but it was so big, it took an hour to fill!
(Yes, I shower daily and I take care not to waste water, which is why a bath at the conference is a treat!)

The Monday evening, we had our second 'special guest'. It was the writer and environmental genius, Tim Flannery. I have had the opportunity to listen to him before, but that in no means dampens the effect the second time around. The man is simply a genius and,f rankly, he should be running the country.
No disrespect intended, but it was entertaining making comparisons between Tim's speech and Matthew Hayden's. Bless.

As for the evening meal I was still feeling a little tender in the abdomen. I hadn't had any lunch and I couldn't face much dinner either, so I ended up chatting to some of our publishing agency guests (Nina Kenwood from Black Inc. and John Hunter from UQP) and then dashing off to bed around 10 before I fainted from malnutrition.

Tuesday was a whole new ballgame. Previously, we have spent our time all sat in one room like a captive (and often unresponsive) audience - it was like that bit in Edith Nesbit's The Enchanted Castle where the children perform their play to a room full of homemade dummies.
This time around, the agencies were situated at separate tables (nothing to do with Terrance Rattigan) and we, in small groups, visited each publisher where they would give us information about their forthcoming titles and we could also provide feedback and ask questions. Bonus! It also gave us the opportunity to flirt with them too, if that was something we wanted to do. I, of course, would never do such a thing - heavens to Betsy, good gracious, no!

I spent most of the time off in the late afternoon reading the manuscript of John Ajvide Lindqvist's new book, Harbour. I simply love this man's work. Let me tell you, I am only a third of the way into the book, but it's everything you'd expect from the man who brought you Let The Right One In and Handling the Undead.

Please excuse the vulgarity of my naked legs, but alas, I had nothing 'comfy' to wear, having hoped for a hotel robe to laze around in - instead it was a polo shirt and my undies. I put the polo shirt on especially for the photograph - be grateful!

Tuesday evening, at the evening dinner, we had another 'special guest'. This time it was the Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly, who even performed a couple of songs for us. (In case you're wondering, yes, he has a book coming too!)
Now, prior to the knowledge of Paul's book, I had no idea who he was. So when it was announced he was our guest, I was about as excited as if they'd proclaimed the arrival of Mr Singh of the local law firm, Singh, Singh, Buttrose and Singh. However, the electric atmosphere surrounding me as the more knowledgeable and enamoured groupies thundered their applause in appreciation, I understood what this man meant to people. After hearing him speak about his songs and also perform, I became acutely aware of his talent and could see why he would generate such enthusiasm.
Oh, and although it's not much interest to anyone, this is what I was wearing that night. I only put this in because I am aware that you might want something pretty to look at. Although I'm not pretty, my tie is rather geeky fun.

Sadly, the look and the tie did not help me pick up the rather handsome waiter, Jarrod. He was tall, lean, young (d'oh) and with the most magnificent nose. I do love a big nose! *sigh*

Wednesday was the day we got to see the Penguin UK titles and, boy, they do like their funky pop music. It keeps us awake I suppose.
We also heard from our brands and licensing people (Troy Lewis is a wizard of puns and for that I am truly thankful!)
After lunch, we saw some super stuff from Marketing and Publicity and finally some interesting aspects of the future of our internal computer systems. I say 'interesting' but, as you may know, I am not the most technologically sound person you will ever meet. I got the gist of it and I can see the benefits, but I think I'll wait until the whole thing is up and running before commenting so I can do the whole trial and error perusal. (Instructions? Bah!!)

Wednesday night was the big party night. We were told to dress formal. I took two suits for the occasion, leaving the decision making to the last moment. I could have gone with the grey suit I bought for Louise and Adam's wedding last year or the funky white suit I bought three years ago. In the end, I went for the funk, mainly because this is the first time in three years I have been able to fit into it!

The damn thing cost me something between six and eight hundred dollars (I forget), so I thought I ought to give it another airing.
The blue shirt is a gorgeous Saba shirt I bought years ago in the hope that one day I'd be thin enough to wear it. Thank goodness! The time has come!

No special guests this evening, but everyone looked glam and dazzling. there are some pics below. I do not have a steady hand, so forgive the appalling nature of the pictures.

The two Louises! Or Two Lous Lautrec, as I like to call them.

Pre-dinner drinks.


Gossip Girls.

Kim, being classy as ever.

"Did you watch Masterchef last night?"

Then it was the awards part of the evening. Each year, there are a smattering of prizes ranging from door-prizes (who'd want a door? They're a nightmare to transport home again) to the prestigious 'Rep of the Year Award'.

Door-prizes were picked out of a large fish bowl. Two goldfish, a castle and a bit of weed. Huzzah!
Claire Hume won the innovation award (I did take a pic, but it was so blurry - blame the emotion!)
Then the two big ones.

We have a 'Hall of Fame' and this year, one of the Queensland reps won this mighty honour. Peter Leeder, who has been with the company for nearly 21 years, took to the stage and gave a very humble speech.
Then, the big one. Rep of the year went to me wonderful friend and occasionally annoying room-mate (*wink*), Gavin Burbidge.
Not only was this a well-deserved accolade as he is an amazing bloke who does a terrific job, but it was also a remarkable moment for the rest of us, for it was the first time he was "almost speechless". Shame about the "almost", Gav! Just kidding - you're a legend!

Peter and Gavin, receiving well-deserved awards.

Not only does he win the adoration of his colleagues and a $5000 travel voucher, but, as Rep of the year, he also receives this splendid award...

As anyone who knows me will attest, I am one of those big-mouthed fools who spouts off everything he thinks. It is not etiquette to say it, but I don't give a flippity-floo-flah. One day, I would like to win such an award. Oh yes! The only thing I have ever truly won was an award for having an Outstanding Personality whilst at college. In other words, I won for being flamboyant!
But to win for being the best at what you do is something we all strive for. I can't see it happening though as my colleagues are all so bloody brilliant at what they do. Everyone deserves to be recognised for their fine, hard work and I am proud of them all and proud to be a part of their team.

Still, one day, I may take that stage, and when I do... I bet I'll be bloody speechless too!

One final thing...

Someone's cleavage. I won't say who. It's not my fault. I was lunged at.