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Entering into the final quarter of 2008 feels like a rite of passage. Discard the past and all its problems and miseries. Embrace the future and all its wonders and excitement. Pa. I donít feel any different today than how I felt yesterday, it just means itís getting closer to Christmas, that depressing time when everyone forks out loads of money that they donít really have in an effort to appear generous, selfless. Never-mind the credit card bill arriving early 2009. Happy New Year, courtesy of Visa. Maybe I shouldnít be so much of a scrooge. Then again, bah humbug.
My third and fourth internal audit today, and I felt prepared. That was a short lived feeling. The auditor started asking for documents that werenít on the files, so I rushed around phoning solicitors and employerís agents for the missing information. I felt like a fool in front of him, and he was sympathetic which made it worse! Worst still, is that I should have this information on file anyway, so my systems have let me down. And I only have myself to blame at the end of it. Still, I managed to cobble together enough information for a pass.
Another nightmare day. I wonder what I have done to cause all this bad karma?! I tried to withdraw money from the cashpoint and my card was retained. I called the bank and they advised my account had been closed. A letter was in the post. I was livid. I blasted out the Indian call-centre girl, who kept repeating ďsorryĒ, as if that was going to grant me money for the weekend. As there was no counter service on Saturday I was broke for three days. Thankfully a friend stepped in to help and lent me enough to get through.
A night out in town with my rugby friends saw us venturing inside Liquid. As the only club open on a Friday night we all felt disappointed and apprehensive about going inside, but it turned out to be a really great night. I laughed at the expense of the drunken rabble; my excuse for abstinence being the side effects of mixing alcohol with antibiotics. Some of the menís 1st team turned up, twirled us around on the dance floor and plied us with alcopops. Itís a wonder we didnít get kicked out as we misbehaved, falling over and laughing hysterically.
I feel quietly proud of myself. Itís been just under four months since my knee reconstruction and yet today I was back on the pitch, in the mud and the rain, playing rugby. I feel like an example to those who say ďI canítÖ.Ē, because you can if you put your mind to it. All too often people weaken in spirit, succumbing to the pain of physical injury, letting it consume them, demoralise them. I fought back, did my physiotherapy exercises every day, determined to prove my critics wrong. I may have annoyed some, but they canít deny me success.
Remarkably, I donít feel stiff today. I was expecting some inflammation around the knee joint, which wasnít too bad Ė probably because I put the cryocuff on immediately after the match yesterday. So I ventured down to the gym. I did 30 minutes of cardio plus a few strength exercises with weights. Then I began to feel muscles that have lain dormant for a few months Ė they all protested; my obliques felt like they were going to jump out from my ribs; my quadriceps felt like they might sever from the knees; my triceps felt like lead. And this is fun?
Iím coaching the local universityís womenís rugby team this year. Previously, I have coached the very young, who struggled with the concept of actually letting go of the ball to pass it, or teenage girls feigning interest just to impress a boy they fancy. Everybody who turns up to these sessions is enthusiastic and eager to learn. They show promise; in just two weeks there are signs that this could be a great team. I hope they can beat 4Cís university; they are the enemy, to be beaten at all costs. An old grudge from my student days is re-emergingÖ.
The gym I recently joined is of the ďspit and sawdustĒ variety. Situated on a well established industrial estate south of the town, stand the garages used to house the gym equipment. Three garages have had internal doorways knocked through, and tasteful graffiti lines the walls in lurid colours. Regular clientele include: bouncers, meatheads, teenage chavs, skinheads, and myself and Skip. We look a little out of place amongst the others, but we work hard; squatting 30kg on an Olympic-bar, deadlifting 50kg, abdominal crunches on an incline, upper body weights. Everybody is friendly and chatty, which is a pleasant surprise.
My body has ached continuously since Sunday, to lesser or more extreme degrees of pain and stiffness. This is all accepted as part of the long process of getting back to peak fitness. I bravely resolved to attend training with the rugby team tonight. My reward was a hard tackle, in a judo-esque style, which resulted in me landing awkwardly on my right shoulder. It cracked, loudly. It brought a few tears to my eyes. However, it hasnít bruised and was perfectly sound to carry on training. The fear of injury can sometimes be greater than the actual injury sustained.
Iím apprehensive about tonight. A friend (read: fuck buddy) is visiting this weekend, coming all the way from the West Country where heís based in the army. We speak and text a lot, but in person itís difficult, strained. In bed itís dark and my imagination can take over. There will be an expectation that we will have sex, but the way I feel recently I donít want to become involved. I donít fancy him, which perhaps makes it worse. Or maybe, it makes what Iím about to do easier? No longing feelings that remain unfulfilled because of commitment issues.
My next-door neighbours invited us both around to play on the Wii. It was rather energetic! For the baseball, I pitched straight and true, out-striking any opposition. I was not so good at boxing, or tennis. I strained my shoulder, the one I landed on awkwardly at rugby on Thursday, so I called it a day to avoid further injury. Later in bed, I turned my back to B to avoid his sexual advances. Instead, he wrapped his arms around me which was comforting. However, I feel terrible inside, he clearly wants more than I can give him right now.
K turned up at the club to watch us play today, but he wasnít alone. He brought a new woman along with him. I collared her in the toilet, asked how she knew him. Theyíd only met the other day, so nothing serious! I didnít say who I was. I wonder if heíd told her; in her shoes, if she found out that her new boyfriend had brought her to a womenís rugby match where his ex was playing, would she find that strange? Was he trying to make me jealous? Why did he bother turning up at all? ARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!
Yesterdayís match success was overshadowed by Kís actions. I shouldnít let it get to me. Still, I at least showed some maturity and didnít make a scene. Anyway, the game was fantastic - a completely different Footscray team to the dirty bunch of thugs we played two years ago. The final score was 57-5, a real thumping by us. We scored twice within the first two minutes. I lasted most of the game, made some good moves and gained ground. Always more of a support player, I got within a few metres of the try-line but couldnít quite finish off.
Autumn has finally arrived. Itís still mild and temperate outside, but the trees have begun to discard their foliage, which lays strewn listlessly around. The colours of the landscape change; umber, russet, ochre, amber and olive dominate.
I love this time of year; thick jumpers make you feel snug, mugs of steaming tea sooth all chills and woes, evenings draw in close and dark. Soon Bonfire Night will be here, and I feel a little sad that I wonít have someone close to snuggle into as we watch fireworks together. Instead Iím going to organise a party for single friends.
PAYDAY HAS ARRIVED!
I have never been much good at budgeting. A month seems an infinite amount of time to go without fresh income. I always live outside my means, keeping up with the Joneses. This is despite earning over double now what I was earning two years ago. It always seems that no matter how much you earn, there is never enough left for lifeís ďluxuriesĒ. Two years ago I was renting, now I have a mortgage to pay (on my own). I use my car more for work, I socialise more. Unfortunately nowadays, money is status and power.
Sometimes I wish I wasnít such a slave to capitalism. In doing research for Novemberís novel, I have been looking at different political ideologies. Previously, I have been inspired by writers such as Orwell, who were staunch socialists. I tried to analyse in three dimensions how each ideology fits together; communism on the far left, fascism on the far right. Is fascism so bad? And what is the third way? It doesnít seem to have any rigid, defining policies, theories; it seems to pick and choose from each extreme then water it down into New Labour. Now I feel uninspired.
Whereas most people have a social life on Fridays Ė going out on dates, meeting friends in the pub, going out for dinner Ė I go down the gym. I am determined to lose weight and get fitter, sleeker, stronger and faster, but so far I canít say there is much output for my input! I look at some of the guys in there, those that stand in the mirror and flex their guns for my benefit; theyíre all pumped up to the eyeballs on steroids. Itís hard for women to get that muscley, unless they too pop pills by the bucket-load.
I canít wait for my course to start in December. I went down the club today, bored as I was, to watch the men play. K was there with his new bint (Iím sure sheís a lovely person, if a little desperate!) but they didnít seem very ďtogetherĒ. They never held hands. Again, no kids, but thatís no surprise as he shirks responsibility. I wonder how much he has told her about his exes? Even if she knows that I am one? I continue to be civil to him. I donít want to waste energy on this, but Iím sore.
I made two terrible mistakes this weekend. I text a couple of youngish blokes from the rugby club, who I thought might be interested in a no-strings shag, but theyíre both back with their girlfriends. Unfortunately, gossip like this spreads like wild-fire through the club; I just hope they keep their big gobs shut as they have more to lose than I do. It was a moment of desperation last night, feeling lonely and unloved, unwanted by anyone. Once again, I thought that sex was the answer to my problems, when clearly it just exacerbates them! When will I learn?
You know when one is supposed to be really quiet and pay attention to an important talk, e.g. solicitors coming down from a big firm in London to lecture about contract variations in the current financial climate, yet one is suffering from a cold and irritating cough and therefore needs to clear oneís throat from phlegm every three minutes, much to the annoyance of oneís colleagues? Unfortunately that was my predicament today. I sucked a whole pack of polos and drank half a litre of water during the 90-minute talk, just to suppress my bodyís urge to hack up continuously.
I had a 121 with the big boss from Horsham today, who announced that A would be managing me briefly whilst they searched for a suitable ADM. I hope they google him this time before appointment! Iím unsure about Aís line management again; it will be alright if she backs off and lets me project manage, but I will become unmotivated again if she interferes too much and takes away my autonomy. I am a bit of a control freak, and I only like calling for assistance when I really need it! A is so pedantic, meddling, bureaucratic, itís stifling.
Wednesday nights mean dead-lifts; tonight Ian sneaked another 10 kilos on to the bell bar without me noticing until the end. I thought I was being weak, still suffering the effects of that blasted cold. I am noticing the improvement in my strength though. I skipped a week of the running programme and went straight to four minute intervals. My knee lasted without forcing a limp, it felt like quite an achievement. I am determined that by Christmas it will be back to normal again, or at least, as close as I can get it. My motto? - Slow and steady.
Yesterday was UKCís first match of the season. They played extremely well considering that they lost a third of the team through graduation. Brighton, the opposition, only had one decent player. Unfortunately, the freshersí tackling needs work as they lacked confidence to bring her down. But there is a hint of aggression emerging, and the basics are improving; ball handling, defensive positioning. It will all come with experience. Next week they play 4 Cís; I have booked the afternoon off to watch that match also, provide some much needed moral support. I think my presence at their matches is appreciated.
I decided not to snub L and went to her leaving do. It wasnít as successful as she would like to make out. Firstly, the original bar went bankrupt so the venue changed. Next, only three external ďfriendsĒ turned up; sheíd invited a score at least. I left early, having made my required appearance. She kissed me on the cheek when I entered and again as I left; I tried not to make my squirm obvious to onlookers. L decided to grace the evening wearing a dustbin bag with a tie-cord around her waist; at least, thatís the current fashion.
I thought about relationships a lot today. I really loved K, for what itís worth, and whilst I would not wish to go back to that position now, in another life it may have worked out. I thought about B, and how much I donít want to mislead him into thinking that there is hope for a relationship. Iím not in that place right now. And truthfully, Iím not attracted to him either. I had disturbing dreams tonight, about the occult and the devil; an unknown face in the dream was encouraging me to embrace it. I watched ďReaperĒ earlier.
We have a major problem in the team. All the best backs have been creamed off to play in the forwards, having lost some to injury or retirement. However, that threat has passed as new players came into the pack. Our backs now lack substance, direction and drive. Instead, theyíre led by a stroppy teenager; there is permanent conflict between the half-backs. New players are positioned on the wings, where they are made to feel useless if they miss all important tackles due to lack of confidence and support. And this is the way of Woody who ďalwaysĒ knows best.
Today was a day of guilt. I felt guilty for missing the gym, but I had to miss it; I went to the hospital instead as I was feeling guilty for not seeing Pop after his cancer operation. He looked truly awful. I feel guilty for not making the effort to travel up north to see Bel before she left England for four months, instead citing that I didnít want to pass on my cold. I feel guilty for being ill; I canít afford to take time off work sick so instead feel guilty for passing it on to colleagues.
I was nervous about the presentation for Lís leaving do, but A did a good job on it. I particularly enjoyed the comment about a certain site manager learning everything he knew from a couple of books Ė including ďMy Very Best Book About DiggersĒ. Hilarious. I think L was pleased with the gifts I chose her on behalf of the office; a gift voucher for a pampering treatment (as we know how high maintenance she is!) and a bottle of pink champagne from her favourite vineyard. Her speech was short and not so sweet, what was left unsaid spoke volumes.
UKC had their first match against 4Cís poly today. In 7 years they havenít beaten them, but this looked to be the closest competition yet. My girls scored early, and held the lead before 4Cís came back with a cheeky try. UKC scored again, and it looked like they could have made more tries several other times, but they just couldnít quite finish it off. Complacency set in, and within the dying minutes of the game, when it looked like we had it in the bag, 4Cís came back with a vicious attack, scored and converted to take the lead.
I didnít train tonight, I saw the physiotherapist instead. I have volunteered myself to take part in his PhD research into female rugby players, and the effects of different types of power training on female fitness. Iím going to learn Olympic lifting techniques; it all sounds exciting! Lee showed me how to do ďanklingĒ, a technique that I need to learn in order to effectively complete my plyometric exercises, which I havenít been doing. He also showed me an improved method of performing leg curls, that will target the VMO muscle Ė the one that has wasted away in my thigh.
Ding dong! The witch has gone! Happy Halloween!
It was Lís last day today, which after three and a half years of bitching, back stabbing and gossiping deserves to be celebrated! As Iíve had a pretty busy week the plan is curry and wine in my pyjamas, snuggling up on the sofa with my little Jackie Boy.
Monday is going to be strange, in the office all by myself, managing the whole Kent development programme. A mere £30 million. About 17% of the entire companyís development programme. For one person to manage, out of a team of about thirty.
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