Thursday, June 30, 2011

Times have changed

I was sorting some e-mails at work and I came across an e-mail from a childhood friend dating back to 2003 (when I was, as horrible as it feels admitting it, already a lot older than in my childhood). She’s talking about how the 1990s changed Stockholm into a place where you suddenly had homeless people on the streets, where gangs of youths would rob other gangs of youth and where you could get yourself into real trouble if you weren’t careful.

I don’t think it’s just my age but I think we did lose something in the 1990s here is Sydney too. It was as if innocence well and truly left an already jaded city.

When I first came over here in the late 1980s Australia was very much battling with the issue of the bicentennial and how it was viewed from the whites’ perspective as opposed to the Aboriginals’. This was a country that was about to go all out celebrating what had been the birth of a nation for some but the beginning of genocide and destruction of their lives and culture for others.

I first arrived in this country as a backpacker. Young, dumb and drunk a lot of the time I don’t think I took in too much of what was going on around me in Australian society. I just didn’t care.

I had just finished my engineering course and I was so glad to be done with studying that I just wanted some sort of relief or reward for all my hard work. I need to roam free for a while after having been locked inside a small box listening to some teacher droning on about a subject I was never likely to ever have anything to do with again.

Back then we trawled the pubs at night in the search of free music - the pub band scene must have been at its best at that time - and cheap alcohol. We partied hard and we had a lot of fun. We never ended up in any trouble.

We traveled in packs and we looked out for each which provided some protection. Us girls would arrive in Kings Cross escorted by a small entourage of British soccer hooligans. Most likely they kept us company because they wanted to get laid but I can’t recall that ever happening. These guys also used to bring a Japanese guy who they called Sushi with them as though he was some sort of mascot. Sushi owned the largest boom box ever seen. I swear it was almost half the size of him although he was of course not a large person even by Japanese standards. His ultimate charm was the packet of cookies he always seemed to carry with him so that he could offer people he met one. Cookie was probably the only English word he knew.

I remember one night after we had moved out of the hostel to rent a room off a guy in infamous Redfern to save money. We were coming back from the city on the train and instead of getting off at Central station we thought we’d be clever and get off at Redfern instead. Little did we realize that where we lived was closer to Central and that running around in the neighbourhood around Redfern station at night was not something one should do. (Google Eveleigh Street and you’re bound to get results that will tell you why).

Anyway, we got off at Redfern looking like something out of a tourist brochure and were immediately accosted by an older Aboriginal gentleman. He wanted to know what we were doing in Redfern that time of night. We told him and he immediately escorted us back to Redfern station, took the train back with us to Central station, made sure that we caught the right bus to where we needed to go and told us that if he ever saw us back in Redfern at night again he would beat us up himself just to make sure we didn’t get into any more serious problem. We learned something that night.

When I first moved to Australia I lived very close to Redfern station for almost 12 years. I never had a problem but now it seems that all areas of Sydney are worse than they used to be. Where I live now certainly is.

In Redfern, being so close to the city and also being so close to Kings Cross there was the inevitable drug trade going on. It was kept low and no one was too open about it simply because they didn’t want any trouble. I used to go to pubs and I had no idea there were drugs sold there until one night when the police raided the place and all of a sudden a good 60% of the patrons emptied their pockets and threw little baggies into pot plants that seemed to have been strategically placed around the place. No one was arrested that night but a few people went home poorer.

Today in the suburb where I live we have a different type of drug user. Your average meth addict is not subtle or able to hide their addiction. Them picking away at themselves is the first sign with scabs soon appearing on their arms and faces. The decline is rapid and so is the rate their brain seems to rot at. It’s really nasty stuff.

It has changed and it's got a lot nastier and colder.

(Image from 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The roles we play

I watched the most beautiful movie last night, Hans Alfredson’s The Simple-minded Murderer, and it wasn’t just because it’s a Swedish movie (and I’m Swedish as you may know) and because I regard Hans Alfredson to be a genius that I loved it. It’s a really good story even though it’s a really sad story.

Hans Alfredson really knows how to tell a good story. He’s a great comedian, author, song writer, actor, director and a great human being. I told you he’s a genius! He turned 80 yesterday and he says he’s pretty much lost his creative spark. He still plays scrabble every day so in a way he’s writing just on a much smaller scale.

Watching the movie was like sampling from a smorgasbord of Swedish acting nobility. I know their faces so well even if I by now have to be reminded of what some of their names are. These are the faces of really good character actor. (This is the movie that got Stellan Skarsgård’s career going. Stellan is Alexander’s father in case you’re a True Blood fan. Stellan was the Russian submarine captain in Red October if you’re inclined that way, or the Saxon chief in King Arthur.)

That ability to be a chameleon is something I really admire in actors and not all are good at it. If an actor can be recognizable but still have us believe that in a particular moment he or she is someone else then they’ve really hit the mark.

To some extent we all face having to play different roles in our lives. Sometimes we do it well and sometimes we fail miserably. Sometimes we don’t even know what’s expected of us and so we fail to meet expectations or begin to feel insecure and confused. (This is why job interviews are so bad. How can you possibly get an accurate picture of a person in a situation like that?)

Some of the roles we play we have chosen for ourselves but most of the roles we play are forced upon us and we’re not all that comfortable with them. It happens at home, at work and when we’re with friends. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to be especially when a relationship you have with someone, be it personally or professionally, is poorly defined.

It’s not only the roles that we’ve had forced on us that can lead to problems. Many of us don’t have a clear view of what we would like to be, some of us don’t even realize that we can chose for ourselves and that we don’t necessarily need to be what others expects us to be not even at work.

There are times when you need to be or act in a particular way. If you’re a first aider in your workplace, for example, it’s no good to politely ask someone not to panic when they realize that they’ve seriously hurt themselves. In a situation like that you have to be forceful and take charge while you remain sympathetic to what’s happening with the the injured person and others around you.

Most of the time we’re not in situations that require us to go to take charge and we can realistically afford to relax a lot more about who we are than we generally allow ourselves to do. Giving yourself permission to choose who to be and what roles to play in situations can be very hard to do but it’s essential for our well-being and happiness.

We can't be happy if we continue to only be what others expect us to be especially if we’re unsure of what that is and if it comes at a cost of having a healthy sense of self. We need to be able to define ourselves to ourselves before we can do it for others. Getting a little more relaxed about how we appear to others can teach you a great deal about them too. Most of the time people don’t react like you thought they would when you change and when you relax you get a positive response from others because it allows them to relax too.

It wasn’t until I had to shed the persona I had so carefully created that I realized that people liked the more real me a lot more. That didn’t happen until I had my breakdown. I had fallen into the trap of thinking that I had to be and act in a certain way to be accepted but nothing was farther from the truth.

How long has it been since you sat down and let your imagination run free and imagined yourself as being someone entirely different? Do you ever play around in your mind picturing yourself as a different person and do you ever act on changing into any of those new characters you have created for yourself? Let me know. I really want to hear about it.

(Image from

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm Blue

I've decided to change my blog's look and feel so I made the banner and changed the background. I'm not finished just yet because I'm not entirely happy with the result but I think it's heading in the right direction towards something that's more me.

In the mean time, bear with me please. Sometimes it's hard to make my mind up :P~

A Windy Issue

I'm back doing yoga after eons of not doing because stoopid meetings interfered and I had to attend them. It wasn't good.

Monday I was back in class at lunch time and when I picked up the yoga teacher from downstairs so I could escort her upstairs to where we do yoga (at work) she was surprised to see me back. She thought I had given it all up. As if!

So the class started and it was all going really well. I was really enjoying the whole bending, stretching and strengthening thing, and I threw myself into downward dog (a favorite pose of mine) with gusto when the unspeakable happened. I farted. I farted audibly and with audibly I mean loud as in a ripper of a fart.

When there's only five people in the class it's hard to pretend it's not you who did the deed and with the others looking like they heard nothing, which means they bloody well did, I felt really embarrassed. I mean, normally you get some kind of warning so you can take countermeasures and clench your butt cheeks or something but no, just pfffft loud and clear.

It's natural to break wind, I know, but there are places I would rather have it happen than in a eerily silent yoga class.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Monkeylectrics ya'll - I pimped my bike!

I did mention them in a previous post and I did say I was going to tell you all about them. I'm not going to tell you all about them because you'd get bored. If you're like me you get bored real easy so I'll keep it short.

First I'm going to show my bike. This is it here...

My Avanti Forte 3 - the off-roader
Just as I inserted the pic of the Avanti I realized that my other bike will get jealous so I whipped out and took a picture of it as well. I don't want them to fight leaving a bloody mess in the garage or anything...

My Progear RS20 - the roadbike
By the time I took the picture of my Progear, it was like 10 minutes in between shoots, the sun had risen ever so slightly and I ended up with a slight rainbow effect. Either that or my roadbike is really a unicorn in disguise and so it's magical which could also explain the rainbow effect in the photo.

The Avanti Forte 3 is the off-roader that never really goes off road unless you count Sydney roads as "off road" because they're so full of potholes it's like riding off road.

I ride early in the morning before sunrise to get to work so it makes sense having a more sturdy bike since I ride a mix of road, footpaths and bike tracks in any weather really. (Not that Sydney has weather really, not if you compare with Northern Europe anyway. We get really rainy periods like we've just had every 10-20 years or so it seems.)

The roadbike is faster, lighter and a much easier ride. I don't want to add extra weight to it so no Monkeylectrics for it.

The off-roader is more flexible, especially in the dark, in that you can switch from paths to road and not bother too much about what's in between. It's also a lot safer if you have to go on grass to pass an obstruction on a footpath, for example. I have fitted the Monkeylectrics to this bike because I don't mind the extra weight on it.

Riding on footpaths is illegal in Sydney if you're over 12 years old but the police leave you alone nowadays if you do. I think they prefer you on the footpath rather than having to mop you up off the road after an accident. Sydney roads are bad to ride on so I avoid riding on busy roads at all cost and stick mostly to back roads and bike paths. It's when I can't avoid a busy road that I use the footpath.

But back to the Monkeylectrics...

This is what the actual device looks like on my off-roader...
Monkeylectrics - battery side (I use rechargeable of course)

Monkeylectrics - controls side
(If you think the perspective is weird in this photo your right,
it's tilted)

Looking at the device doesn't actually show you why I've added them to my bike so I've added a couple of youtube movies here that a friend made of his a few years back. At the time he only had one set fitted. As you can see in the picture of my offroader I have two sets fitted.

The Monkeylectrics at night (one set of LEDs fitted only).

Monkeylectrics in daylight (one set of LEDs fitted only).

The thing we've found with the Monkeylectrics is that there's no way anyone can miss you when you have them on in the dark. Something else we've found is that drivers seem to treat you better. It's as if they can't look at pretty lights and be angry at cyclists at the same time. If you ride where there are pedestrians at night you get pretty much the same effect. Pretty lights = make happy people.

I've not fitted them to look pretty. I've fitted them for added safety. My bike looks like a movable disco at night and that for some reason makes me safer.

I like my Monkeylectrics. :)

There are a lot of youtube movies with Monkeylectrics that are a lot better than the two I posted here.

P.S. Dear Monkeylectrics people, I'm plugging your product. You can thank me later.

P.P.S. This post was a lot longer that I was originally planning. If you got bored or lost interest half way through I apologize.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One week on

It's been a week ya'll. My, oh my, how time flies when you find yourself freed from the terror reigns of the Sharpei.

Not as if that was enough. We reentered the realm of engineering as the prodigal tech writers and we were welcomed with open arms and smiles and "great-to-have-you-back". It's been three years out there in the desert ya'll but we're back, we're so back.

The crowning moment, the pièce de résistance if you will, of the gloriously fluffy cream cake that this past week has been was born out of an interaction with a past boss of engineering who had occasion to call on me for something completely unrelated.

He turned up and asked me how I felt about going to back to engineering and I told him that it was a huge (as in HUGE - you have to imagine me with my arms spread wide open to illustrate just how huge) relief. He asked me who my boss was (as in who am I leaving behind) and I quietly motioned to the Sharpei located on the other side of a partition two seats away from me. Past boss looks at me and says "Who the fuck is that?"

Now all of this may well have been heard by the Sharpei, which makes it kind of bad but which also makes it sweet vindication. Past boss is known for not being one to mince words and he parted with a clearly audible "Good to see you back where you belong!'. You have to love support like that.

You also have to love that my new boss baked a cake himself for us as a welcoming gesture. That's pretty sweet, you have to admit!

It's been great ya'll, so great in fact that I have little to say except that I again have to iterate that I'm so glad I reached out and asked for help. I'm so glad I got support. It's priceless!

Monday, June 6, 2011

I have learned lately...

...that taking medication can help and that I should keep taking it. It is friend, not foe.

...that there are people who are willing to help and that there are more of them than I imagined.

...that sometimes people actually do the right thing just because it's the right thing to do.

...that there are others who suffer from mental confusion and mental health issues and it's OK.

...that other women can be your best allies.

...that I am stronger than I imagined.

...that I have more courage when it comes to speaking the truth than most.

...that I prefer to fight for a cause that is for a collective - yes, apparently I have communistic tendencies.

...that I can be very articulate and convincing even when I'm at my worst.

...that I have been very lucky with finding people like my doctor and my psychologist.

...that I almost ready to concede that not all HR people are evil, there are some good apples in the bunch.

...that having a sense of humor is an asset that must not be undervalued.

...that giving a little sometimes means a lot to people especially when they think your not going to.

...that sometimes even managers high up need to be told what needs to be done and they don't mind.

...that cats have very sharp claws and they will use them when you tickle their tummy.

...that I am just human (after all).

Friday, June 3, 2011

The day I realize that googling myself actually shows results that include me

I got bored today. It happens.

At lunch time at work I decided to google "spilling ink" and was rather surprised to see my blog turning up as one of the top results of 1180000 odd results. Not content there I kept going through to the next page and then the next.

I was thoroughly surprised to see that my twitter account has now made page 3. I don't really twitter, unless there's some sort of natural disaster that makes me feel the need to tweet and retweet appeals to donate and help.

I don't know whether to feel pressured our proud. I'm European. I will probably settle for pressured.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Happy Birthday from Mum

 A friend of mine is having a birthday and his mum sent him an e-mail today.

"Hi Dearest Darling,
Ring me and tell me how we can celebrate your birthday. All of us in a posh restaurant at Bobbin Head. Really, I think it is my celebration to have delivered you in extreme pain into this horrible but sometimes wonderful world. 

Love love love

There's nothing quite like having a Jewish mum, is there?

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