Friday, July 31, 2015

I saw a good moon arisen ... then discovered my eggs had been stolen by a grill-jockey

With thanks to the mirror universe The Reels.

I had a nasty flare of anxiety which left me trembling. It was hard to sleep and when I woke at four knew sleep was now denied.

I had a work thing I had to do before tagging out to shiver in bed so I got up and still in my nondescript ladies grey PJ pants and Tenacious D t-shirt—but with a jumper added—drove to work to get it done.

As I neared the complex I saw the near full moon above me—and then earwormed myself with the above linked-to song.

I badged into the building, switched on the after hours lights, then headed to my desk. It took an hour and a half and dawn broke with the sun full up by the time I departed.

Realising the McDonald's breakfast menu had kicked in I rewarded myself with a deluxe breakfast roll and hash brown from drive-thru, slipping the purchased foods into the oven to stay warm on return as I got other needed to do stuff done before I could eat.

Finally, I went to eat my repast.

It was then I discovered the grill-jockey had stolen the eggs out of my roll. 

I cursed being struck once again by drive-thru failure but had a realisation that my oven was on and there were eggs in the fridge. 

I cracked two into the frying pan, fried them up, then added them to my bacon, roll, meat patty and hash of brown. 

It was delicious—even more delicious than the purloined eggs would have been since these were fresh and runny with golden yolk mingling with shards of fried potato and tomato-soaked bun. 

I was even able to return to sleep, clutching my hot water bottle as I shook from anxiety until I drifted away. 

I could have done without the work-infused dreams though.

It was a tough day but I got through it—as I will for all the days to come.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sweater vest—office man armour

I wear sweater vests now. I never used to before but I found they're comfortable and they also hide wrinkled shirts if you're adverse to ironing.

As I put it on this morning it felt like I was donning a chain shirt and girding up for battle. 

I liked that idea so much I had to dash in here and write about it.

We're not supposed to wear our pass out and about until we're inside the work building. But tucking a pass under your shirt presses cold plastic and metal against your bare skin—and taking a pass off and putting it in your pocket is annoying to both insert and to fish out.

Sweater vest? No problem. The pass slips snuggly between vest and shirt. Concealed but not inflicting discomfort for its tucking—and easy to fish out when needed.

I've not seen lady office peeps wear a sweater vest so I presume it's pretty much a man-only affair. 

With anything though there's always a dark lining in every silver cloud. I have found one minor irritant in possessing sweater vest. If you elect to shred a box of papers, then empty the bag, chances are flecks of shredder waste—they look like sliced grains of white rice—will cling with determined fury to your chosen garment. And if you're a man blessed with an ample tum if that waste clings below the equator you won't know it's there but everyone else seeing you will because the white is stark against the dark of your garb. 

I didn't know it had happened to me until the next day when I went to put it on and saw the light dusting of shredder specks clinging to the weave of the vest.

Finally I leave you with this. I Googled for "sweater vest" to get the wiki and I loved the sample images Google sniffed up so much I had to include it in this post. 

I especially love the out and proud sweater vestee on the far right.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

high—low—high ... but mostly high

It's been a roller coaster for me of late. One minute I'm up, then I'll take a hit, but then I'll be up again. 

Oh well, beats the Ferris wheel I guess.

I had to have an uncomfortable work conversation which left me anxious and distressed. But even as I went through it I marvelled at the kindness shown and their making sure I was robust enough to have the conversation in the first place.

I felt looked after. Although anxiety flared and I took a Valium for the first time in months fight (slash) flight did not kick in. After a short calming walk I returned and stayed at my desk beavering away.

Later I had a meeting with a client. She gushed with praise of our work. It felt great to know I made a difference.

Recently I had a final meeting with my doctor and rehab guardian. It was to close off the extra support I'd received from having returned to the depths of fear and anxiety. I told them I was happy to be back at work because I was a change agent and it's hard to be a change agent when you're not at work to change it. 

I realised I don't have a job. I don't even have a career. 

I have a calling.

Government is the greatest way to lift as many as possible and to create avenues of advancement for those afflicted with disability—physical, mental, cultural or social . 

And I'm part of that effort. 


Yet more battle anthems

I don't know why but singing along just makes me feel better.

And of course you can't go past Chumbawumba.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Back on the horse

Earlier this year I had a very public meltdown at a work meeting—great gobs of agonised silent howling. Great stuff.

My meltdown directly led to my being sent on gardening leave for rest and recovery.

On return I stayed away from attending the meetings but now, with many months on and with me all but healed, I decided "fuck it, let's go again".

So I went back. It was nice. Only a small number of people but enthusiastic people who just want to foster a happier workplace. I felt at home and I felt welcomed.

I got back on the horse and I am riding fine.


Another battle anthem

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Flu sweeps Canberra

The flu has swept Canberra with rumint indicating about 20 per cent of the APS has been out of action at one point in the past few weeks.

I got it, getting it about three days after theWife and theBoy had it. Fortunately for me it's been mild, mostly extra body ache—extra on what I have normally—and a sore throat. 

Years ago it would have sent me to bed without supper and moaning for three days while my body fought back. Now, thanks to being fitter, I was mobile and not too sore.

It did mean however not riding the exercise bike for three days—rest and fluids was my doctor ordered recovery method—and so I feel a little toey for having missed clambering aboard SoTPC and riding for an hour each day. But only slightly, because riding the bike is always a chore and I was under doctor's orders not to climb on board. 

Hooray! That made me feel better. 

So I spent my time recovering watching Netflix-delivered shows or surfing the web (slash) reading an e-book via the tablet. How bored I would have been before high-speed internet. I'd have been forced to open up a DVD cover and slot a DVD into the machine, watch daytime TV or read dead tree delivered text like a pre-Copernican lamo (1)(2).

Hooray for the internet! Boo for flu.

UPDATE: I rode SoTPC and got one of my best times ever. Hooray for rest and recovery!

(1) Except, of course, for the DVD and TV. We'd be a weird culture if we'd developed DVD and broadcast TV technology before developing Copernican astronomy. We'd be like that alien race from Hitchhikers that invented aerosol deodorant before the wheel. 
(2) With thanks to Paul Keating for "pre-Copernican" as an insult.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The toilet situation

With thanks to Pulp Fiction.

We had one of the toilets in the gents clog up and because of my mad work maintenance ordering skillz I got asked to sort it out.

"I guess I'll log a job," I said brightly, "... pardon the pun."

I got one laugh, from my boss+, which I heard waft out of his door.

The toilet got fixed the next day. I got an email saying it had been done and asking for feedback so I went and checked. Yes, it had been done. But they didn't clean it or spray around pleasing smells so I found myself with toilet brush in hand taking care of at least the cleaning part.

I then walked into the area where the nearest people dwelt to announce the repair was complete.

"BOG DE-LOGGED" I semi-shouted, thrusting clenched fists into the air.

One laugh ... from the poor person originally assigned the toilet repair organising detail but who asked me to step in because of said skillz. 

Still, it felt good to be able to get something like that fixed—fixed the next day, no less.

I know the "broken windows" theory of community management is a "broken theory" but I have to admit it makes being at work a lot nicer if there isn't a blocked up dunny with a giant clog of shit and paper stinking up the joint (1).


(1) Even if I don't use that toilet—I go the disabled toilet being the only (that I know of) person with disabilities in the area. I accept my disabilities ... and all the kewl stuff that comes with it like free parking and extra-roomy toilets with a lift bar.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mp3 player rezzed—joy delivered and goal re-affirmed

I took along my old Sony one gig Mp3 player, now about seven years old, on the off chance there was enough battery life within it to play for me.

There was not.

But when at work I stuck the player into a USB port and while the player's software wasn't activated it did receive a charge and soon it was back to full.

I go outside the building at least twice a day for mental and physical health. And though walking is painful I've found I can amble along a level surface for about ten minutes with minimal discomfort. 

I fired up the player and thumbed on "(Nothing but) flowers" by Talking Heads. A joyous song that I played again and again for health breaks when leaving the new building (1) I went to on return to work from my five months of insanity-then-recovery.

The joy lifted me as I walked in the chill of the air, admiring the parliament house and flagpole in the distance and the dark clouds above. 

As I walked back to my current building (2) I remembered what I used to think to myself as I closed in on my post-recovery building whilst listening to this song.

"I'm going to fix this place."

I am. I'm going to fix it. It's not quixotic—it's reality.


(1) It was the building I'd been in before my last workplace, a decrepit wreck of poor '80s office low-rise. We had been enticed into the wreck by a good deal on the rent and then I got wrecked as a result. 
(2) Which was the building I was in before going to the new building when it was the old old building.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Through frozen glass

I had another mental win today. I had to work on a policy-type document that directly tied to what I went through when I had my cathartic release from a former workplace.

I grinned as I edited away knowing that, once again, I was making a fucking difference.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Donald Trump stole two hours of my life

I couldn't help it. I watched both his presidential launch and his appearance in Phoenix.

Two hours of my life I will never get back.

He's a classic example of someone who has had people blowing smoke up his arse for most of his adult life then presumes said anal smoke blowing is reality.

It is not.

It's going to be an interesting 2016 race on the GOP side, that's for sure, with people like Trump bloviating away and driving the other Republican primary contenders to the far right who try to compete. 


Monday, July 13, 2015

Good days, bad days

Like anyone blessed with a shed-load (1) of disabilities I have my good days and my bad days.

Today was a bad day. Horrid IBS all night, and in the morning, then a nasty flare of the old ladies, fibromyalgia, in the PM hours.

But, in spite of that, it was a good day for work. Whilst I under the influence of pain meds I was productive and got a lot done. I even patched a six week hole in reports we couldn't do because I was out of action on mandatory gardening leave.

I know I'm lucky. I'm ambulatory, I have my mental faculties and while I have depression I am not sad. I won't ever again feel shit about myself given all that I've accomplished—accomplished not in spite of my afflictions but because of them. I'm like a literary hero for facing adversity and that adversity making me stronger, tougher and more resilient.

But I could fucking do without the fucking pain. I really could.

However, even though I feel like shit, I'm still going to ride SoTPC for an hour (2).

So it's still WFTW.

(1) It's cold in the shed so I wore my shed shirt—an old shirt too ruined even for the washing machine as it would fall apart if I tried. But the split up the side was annoying me. Solution? Yellow gaffer tape. Classy. Update: I patched another hole.
(2) I did it, too.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Area man praised for his t-shirt

I wore my Tenacious D T-shirt—bought for me by friends—to the shops and the dude behind the checkout praised it.

"I saw them once," I said happily, "but then I passed out after the first song."

What a shame fail.

The song they opened with—and closed with as far as I was concerned—was "Flash". 

You have been earwormed. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Trigger not pulled redux

I encountered an anxiety trigger today. A major one. But it didn't pull—I didn't even falter or go for a walk. I just went back to my desk and kept producing high quality work.

The best revenge is doing well and I am doing well indeed.


Thursday, July 09, 2015

I can get yes satisfaction

I re-tooled an e-report I produce each week and sent it out. It was a thing of beauty, actually aesthetically pleasing to the eye with symmetrically-arrayed graphics and text as well as fully-working battle-tested links (1).

I didn't get a single response from any of the recipients.

But that's okay. I don't need external validation any more. I know I produce awesome work.

Because Mikey will never ever feel shit about himself again.


UPDATE: After having a pre-ride wee I suddenly gave myself a Breakfast Club style fist in the air of triumph for my fine work (2). 

UPDATE2: A boss+++ saw me the next morning and she stopped to say how much she liked the report. Bonus external validation not needed but awesome to get for the win!

(1) I email it to myself first then click every single link to make sure.
(2) The report, not the wee. While the wee was a good one it wasn't fist in the air worthy. That being said I did a super wee at work that went for nearly as long as Ogre's in Revenge of the Nerds 2 and that was fist in the air worthy.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Go Marc Maron

Marc Maron got to talk to Obama. And it wasn't in the White House but in Maron's actual garage (1).

Since giving up the second car, where I used to listen to WTF driving to and from work, I'd not listened to the WTF podcast for a while. 

So what a great way to dive back in listening to two of my most-favourite Americans.

Nice work, Comrade Maron. What an awesome chat.

(1) The follow up podcast with Maron and his producer Brendan McDonald talking about how the Obama podcast came about and their experiences leading up to it is also worth a listen. I fully loved that the spare bedroom was given over to a communication command post for the duration of the visit.

Squeezing purpose from past pain

Recently I had a call from a colleague who wanted to catch up over coffee. As we sat in the cool sunshine he told me the broader purpose of the meeting, seeking to help a new staff member going through the wringer. He knew of my past pain, my suffering and what I had endured, but he also knew I'd been looked after by the broader organisation and that I'd recovered from near-crippling anxiety. He wanted advice on how to access that support.

We sat and we talked. He talked of the impact of what his workmate had gone through and I shared my story of my recent spray of anxiety but how I'd been helped through it by caring supervisors who rallied assistance to ensure I didn't fall over again.

It felt good. It felt good to share my story of pain then salvation of recovery. To talk candidly about my journey in the hope it helped him in his battle to support a fellow worker.

He gave a shit about someone he barely knew because that's the kind of guy he is.

The public service is blessed to have him. If only we had more of him instead of the blight of the bad.


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

My heater-drying headband produces a smell I also shouldn’t also have to smell

Continuing along the path of smells you shouldn’t have to smell it rained here in Canberra recently and thus my headband failed to dry when I pegged it to “the wall”, the mighty fence of old doors we have to keep the chickens penned in.

So I’m drying it on the heater before I get on the SoTPC (1) to try and ride. I have my blue headband on for now. It’s the exact sort of headband my mum used to wear when she played tennis.

The drying headband smells like tinned mushrooms—and I don’t think anyone in the history of owning an olfactory sense admires the smell of tinned mushrooms.

I’m sore in our nation’s capital. I know, it sounds grandiose to whine about ouchies from the seat of the Commonwealth government. I am sore though and I wish I wasn’t. But I’m still going to clamber upon the SoTPC and ride despite of the pain—if only to spite the haters in my stationary wake.


(1) SoTPC stands for Son Of The Purgatory Cart, with TPC being the original exercise bike I killed through sheer dint of mass and gruelling effort. That’s nothing, once I ripped the handlebars off my mountain bike. Granted, it was a shit bike but nonetheless I tore them off when I stood up in the saddle to ride across a road from a stationary start and a valiant-load of First Australians behind me got out to help and check I was okay. Thanks, comrades!

Friday, July 03, 2015

Burning teeth

I went to the dentist to get two fillings. On the second tooth they couldn't flush with water for a moment as they drilled and so I smelled my tooth burn and it smelled like burning hair.

That's a smell someone shouldn't have to smell.

But go me. Not only did I not have a needle I got praise for my hard man status lying in the chair without it.


Wednesday, July 01, 2015


I'm one of those merry few people in our broad and encompassing Australian Public Service who gives a shit about their workplace. If a light goes dark in my neck of the APS woods I report it lickety-split.

Pre-hip surgery I was also an Emergency Control Officer. I gave it up when my position was moved within the org and the new area had enough people and then could no longer do it once I acquired my mobility issue. 

Recently we had a test of the emergency announcement system. We have no one as an ECO so I answered the emergency phone. I then volunteered a lovely new guy in our section of the building—who turned out to be trained and had done it in his previous job—to become the yellow hat and then organised for my boss+ to seek two people to become red hats. 

Yes, they're delineated by hat type. It's like that lodge Barney and Fred were in

It felt good to be able to accept I couldn't do it but to succeed in organising people who will (1).

So self-pat for Mikey for yet another incremental wellness improvement in my workplace.


(1) I did the role earlier this year when our building had an emergency given the absence of an ECO combined with the fact I knew how to do it. While I liked that I stood up to take charge in the emergency I still shouldn't have done it given my mobility impairment—stairs and slopes are difficult for me and I have to take a lift.