Five

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I just did a very small amount of research to learn what milestones the average five year old child should be closing in on. Now, we all know there is no average child, and that these things should be fluid to allow for individual quirks and development, and so on and so forth. But hang in there with me. This is the site I went off, if you’re keen.

The milestones are in four categories: social, communication, cognition and physical. At five years old, kids should be:

  • wanting to please their friends, and be like their friends
  • showing concern and sympathy for others
  • speaking clearly and telling stories
  • counting to ten
  • copying shapes
  • using the toilet independently
  • balancing on one foot

… as well as several other key things.

Now look. I don’t know how much I agree with this list. I’ve met adults who struggle with some of them, and childhood seems to be such a small window, doesn’t it.

If I had to write a list for what I’d want five year olds to be able to do, it would look kind of like this:

  • know who you are, and what you like and what you don’t like – but be open to trying new things
  • know that even though some things might seem scary, with people you trust helping you they might not be so scary after a while
  • be able to be as independent as you need to be in given situations
  • be able to play on your own happily
  • be able to play in a group happily
  • treat people, and yourself, nicely
  • be excitable and silly and roll on the grass at every opportunity

Beloved and I are celebrating five years together today.

When she left for work this morning, I told her our jobs today were to come up with a list of five highlights. Here are mine.

1. Beloved is able to grow her love for other people. She never seems to have an empty love bucket, and she shares that stuff widely. When we meet new people, she welcomes them openly. When we make new friends, they are friends for life. She’s like the Magic Pudding, but with love.

2. When she laughs she laughs loudly and it cannot be contained. It’s frigging awesome. The people around her start laughing and then she laughs more and it carries on and on. It’s just the best.

3. When I broke my leg on the cruise she tried to not get off at the different ports, because she didn’t want to leave me. I made her get off, but to think she’d prefer to shove me around in a wheelchair instead of seeing some beautiful islands blew me away. And she didn’t bitch about it, didn’t complain – the broken leg didn’t bother her one iota. Not because she didn’t care, but because for her, it was more about the being – not about the doing.

4. I have a collection of photos of my beloved bending over. She might be looking for a DVD, or weeding a garden, or putting shoes on – any time her bum is up in the air, I take a photo. And every single time, she looks at me with the same expression on her face. Shock, and a kind of bewildered “Again?” look. I tell her I am going to make a Beloved Bum Calendar but I haven’t (yet). But this is the thing. She seems to enjoy my quirks, my humour, my strange little heart. And she’s made me see that maybe, just maybe, I’m not as bad as I used to think I was. So I will continue to photograph her arse. Because it makes me laugh, but not as much as the expression on her face when she hears the camera snap.

5. Finally. Beloved has been through so much with me. Surgeries. The Aspergers diagnosis. My stubbornness. My lack of flexibility when it comes to achieving something. My over-parenting of the fur babies. My frustration with her technology skills. But she keeps on loving and she keeps on adapting and she keeps on telling me it’s OK. And with her next to me, it usually is.

My list of milestones for a five year old are pretty much a summation of our relationship.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Yesterday and Today

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Today, I woke up early. It was cold. It still is cold.

Swung my feet out of bed and was surprised that they didn’t shatter like glass when they hit the ground, it was so cold.

Pulled on some clothes. Tied up my laces. And went outside for a walk.

 

Yesterday, I woke up slowly.

I woke up and felt defeated before the day had even begun. I had a doctor appointment to get some results, and I was terrified I’d have to get on the scales.

The thing is, despite continuing to train and eat properly, last time I weighed in I had gained weight. Just a couple of kilograms. But a gain. This sparked off a series of blood tests (and a 24 hour wee test, which I spilled on the bathroom floor prior to discovering my coffee machine was dead – but that’s another story), and the mention, the suggestion that it might be time to explore other ways to continue my weight loss.

I’ve been doing this for 11 months.

Working my arse off. Investing time and money and choices and decisions into every single step along the path to make myself fit and strong and healthy. And my proudest thing along the ride has been that I have done this with no short cuts, no fad diets, nothing that isn’t wholly and solely down to choice. So to even consider, for a moment, that I might have achieved all that I can this way – devastating. To hear the gentle suggestion that it might be time to consider medications or even surgery? Destroying.

For a week, I’ve sunk to the depths of defeat. I’ve worked my arse off, and it’s not good enough. I can’t do this my way.

Then yesterday, I went to get the results of these tests.

Overall, they were testament to the work I have done. Sugars are normal. Cholesterol, well lowered. There was one element that had improved but is still an issue – but it had improved.

But all I could think was, “I am getting nowhere, I’ve failed”.

You see, the issue for me is that I want to look like I’m having that ongoing success. I know it isn’t just about the scales – but the reality is, I want that damn number to go down. Because let’s face it. We judge people based on their appearances. My beautiful beloved told me to not make it about the scales, and to remember the health benefits. I growled back at her that she could only say that when she had to haul my ten tonnes of fat around with her. Look, I was really not in a good place at the time.

I tried to get to the gym, but couldn’t get out of the car. Sobbed and sobbed. My legend trainer messaged me to find out where I was, I tried to explain what had happened but just kept saying “I can’t do it” over and over again and I was starting to believe it. Finally got myself into the gym and she mopped up my tears and told me to get on the bike.

That night, I had a think.

And I remembered.

I remembered this:

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And this:

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And this:

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And I remembered the fun runs. The kilometres walked. The hours lifting weights. The fact that I don’t have to even hesitate when I look at a new physical challenge. That my driver’s seat in the car has to be forward now so I can reach. That I have lap for friendly dogs to sit on. That I’ve been able to ditch medications and reduce doses. That my lung capacity is enormous. That I am fitter and stronger than I have been ever before. That I don’t have to look for the absolute biggest sizes in shops now.

And I remembered my beloved. And my friends. And my family.

Which is why I did this in the first place.

And so, today, I woke up early. It was cold. It still is cold.

Swung my feet out of bed and was surprised that they didn’t shatter like glass when they hit the ground, it was so cold.

Pulled on some clothes. Tied up my laces. And went outside for a walk.

Kitchen Magic

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I’m actually quite a good cook. Really, I am. I learned lots of things from my beautiful Nan, who could make the best meals ever out of not a lot. Lately we’ve been cooking without carbs or heaps of fat (my lack of gall bladder means I can’t manage lots of fat). This has been made easier with the introduction of this baby:

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The spiraller! This thing makes awesome noodles (zoodles) out of zucchini and carrots, and they appear a lot on our plates. I wasn’t always a fan of zucchini – kind of like a wet imposter for cucumber. But this little tool makes them awesome. I got mine from Ebay I think.

With beloved heading away for a couple of days, and with Cubs on tomorrow night, I wanted to make enough dinner for two nights. I’m practical like that.

On the menu in my head: Chicken Alfredo with zoodles.

According to the fridge: Chicken and veges in a fake creamy sauce, with cauliflower rice.

It’s a recipe I’ve pulled together many times now. It tastes so good but is actually really healthy. No major fat issues, no major carb issues, heaps of flavour and very filling. Shall we begin?

Right!

I started by cutting up the veges I had. I think there was a zucchini (but a small one), a heap of broccoli, a heap of baby spinach, garlic, a red onion, a kind of floppy carrot. I popped them aside then cut up a chicken breast. ‘Fried’ it off (using a small swig of water to stop it from sticking). Threw in my veges, with about 3/4 of a cup of chicken stock. Let that simmer away for a while.

I usually would serve this with zoodles but I felt like a change. I decided to use up the cauliflower that has been lurking in the fridge drawer. I hate cauliflower. However – and this is a very important however – I found a recipe for cauliflower rice last year. And it sounds like arse but it’s actually really good. If you google it you’ll find a recipe that works for you.

I made the rice, taste tested it, all good. Set that aside.

To finish up the chicken mix, I then added half a small carton of light evaporated milk, with a small amount of cornflour in it to thicken it up. If I have parmesan I add it; if I have some of the special garlic cream cheese I add it. But not both – just one or the other. And it is really awesome.  But!

For you to exactly create what I made tonight, I think this is the essential step:

Turn away for about five minutes, to allow for some random shit to land in the saucepan. It could be a heap of dirt, or maybe an old tea bag, or perhaps even a small bead of cat crap. Not sure what it was. It must have dissolved away into nothing though because buggered if I know what it was.

Anyway, continue on oblivious. It is important that you have no idea that something has gone terribly wrong. Make sure the sauce has thickened (cornflour people!). Put some cauliflower rice into your bowl, chuck some of the chicken stuff on top. Serve the second half into a container so you can warm it up tomorrow night. Yay, anticipation!

Load up your fork and shove it into your gob.

THEN RECOIL IN HORROR AND WONDER WHAT THE FUCK YOU HAVE DONE.

Where did it go wrong?

I have no idea. But I think two things are certain.

1. I am no longer a fan of cauliflower rice. I can only identify the cauliflower as the ingredient that I hate most in the mix, so I feel it is reasonable to lay the blame there.

2. Always have a back up dinner.

Here is a photo of what I cooked:

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And here is a photo of my back up dinner:

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What’s on the menu at your place?

 

They came to dance

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13428361_1084188311627816_6294657720373394192_n Like the rest of the world I’ve been totally horrified and dismayed by the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Beloved and I both are reeling from this act of senseless violence. It’s been constantly on our minds and we’ve talked about it many times.

We’re in Australia, so geographically not close to Orlando. But the people who died, the people who had their life ripped from them: they’re members of our community. And as gay women, the sense of grief is strong.

Imagine.

Sexual orientation is such a deeply personal thing. People spend years in closets and unshared spaces, coming to terms with who they are. Some people never ever come out of those places, the sense of shame or guilt driving them to a life of pretence and half living. And then you find out about a place you can go to. A place where you won’t be stared at. Judged. Laughed at. Brutally beaten. Cruelly taunted. A safe place. A safe place for people just like you.

And so, you go. You meet people. You might dance with someone of the same sex for the first time ever. You might finally say those words – “Yes, I’m gay”. You feel the exhilaration of freedom; the weight lifting from your shoulders as you gaze around and see people who are like you but happy and open and themselves. And in that moment a life outside of the closet no longer seems so scary. You have a community. You have a people. You are part of something bigger and you are totally, utterly safe. And like everyone else there, you dance.

Then it changes.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6 7 8 9.

10.

11. 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22.

23.

24. 25. 26.

27 28.

293031323334353637383940. 41. 42.

43.

44.

45.

46.

47.

48. 49.

50.

The dance floor slowly empties.

Joy turns to chaos.

Life turns to death.

Freedom turns to oppression.

The closet becomes the only safe place once again.

You hear tears. Worse than that, you hear phones ringing and going unanswered. Worse still, you hear sobs desperately trying to be stifled.

And worse still, you hear silence where there should be no silence, silence where silence is the devastating reality of no further noise.

This is not about religion. This is not about creed or colour. This is not about gun laws or lack thereof.

This is about people. About a community attacked. About the right to be yourself, being snatched away and scrunched up like some used piece of cling film and flung carelessly into the bin.

They came to dance. To dance.

But now, the steps have changed.

I don’t know what to do from here. From Australia the reality is that I don’t know a single person who was at Pulse, and it’s really unlikely that I will ever go there. But I’ve been to gay venues. There’s a pride festival coming up later this year that beloved and I are going to. But the question dangles.

Will we be safe?

We can’t live, constantly scared that our love might flick the switch for someone who has a problem with it. But maybe we’ve had a reminder that we also can’t assume that what is normal for us, for our loved ones, for our community – we can’t assume that everyone is as welcoming or inclusive as we are. Because ours is a community that was primarily forged through exclusion.

For someone to enter that community, to go to a place that is safe for that community, and to singe handedly destroy exactly what it stands for: maybe that is what’s at the heart of the way beloved and I are feeling. That the physical safeness of our safe spaces are so utterly vulnerable.

But our hearts are strong.

And as a community, we love fiercely.

Yes, we will be targeted. Yes, we will be discriminated against. We will be judged. Denied freedoms. Experience shame. We will forge connections and explore life and get to know that person we kept in the closet, and when we come out you can be sure that the Mardi Gras Parade will be storming proudly through our hearts and our heads as each footstep shows that we are not alone and we are not less than anyone else.

We still can’t get married.

But we can love.

And from what I can see, that’s the true safe space.

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Knock Down

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I had great plans for weekend that was. It culminated in my third fun run for May, the Maitland River Run. It was a smaller event but I’d been looking forward to it.

When I arrived I had to go and collect my bib, and was given this plastic little chip thing. It had holes in it so I assumed it was to be pinned to my shirt with the bib, which I did. I wasn’t too sure where everyone else had pinned their chip, nobody else seemed to have it hanging from the outside of their bib – maybe it goes under? Anyway. I sat in the sun trying desperately to get warm – these winter mornings have surprised me for the 38th year IN A ROW now. As I sat I watched two men squat down together, surprisingly tying their shoes at the same time. Maybe it was some pre-race routine or maybe it was an official event? No idea. I watched with interest and then realised what they were doing.

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As I tried to unpin my chip subtly and then transfer it to my shoelaces like everyone else had already done, I had a moment of realising the variety of the people around me. Kids, adults, young, old, runners, walkers – and me. I didn’t hear any grouching or grumping or judging or tantrums (my own would come later – wait for it!). People who get outside and do stuff – they’re a good group of people to be around. I’m too shy socially awkward to have actually engaged anyone in conversation, but I did some smiling, which entertains me – to the uninitiated, we must look so strange baring our teeth at each other by way of greeting.

It was a 4km course that I was about to trot along. It was after about 1.5km that the shit hit the fan. I run down a hill that landed me close to the Maitland River. The air coming off that river was cold. Cold enough that my lungs felt like they shut up shop and were trying to exit via my mouth. I tried to breathe in but everything was closed. Damn you, asthma.

I managed to get myself to the drinks area, (about the 2km mark) where I choked out that I needed a Ventolin. Now, before you raise your arms in horror that I would run without my Ventolin, let me enlighten you as to my reasoning:

  1. I have done many fun runs and completed hours and hours of both gym workouts and out and about workouts now, never needing asthma relievers while on the course.
  2. I have an asthma management plan, which I follow, because asthma needs to be managed. You cannot muck around with asthma.
  3. I had not had any flare ups of asthma recently (thanks to my plan).
  4. Just 4 days prior, my GP had checked my lungs and proclaimed them to be crystal clear.

There was nothing – nothing – that raised alarms bells for me that this was going to happen. However, I have learned that in Winter, I need to carry a Ventolin with me while I am doing physical stuff outside.

So there I am at the drinks area, 2km away from the finish line, trying desperately to breathe while at the same time telling myself that if I give way to the tears that are threatening, my breathing will get a hundred times worse. I can’t recall all of the events because I was focusing so much on getting air. But a medic man arrived after what felt like a lifetime, and after about 20 minutes all was well.

I didn’t finish the run.

And I can’t tell you how hard that has slugged me.

It feels almost like my lungs turned to face me and delivered a stern “You cannot do this” lecture. Beloved tells me it’s how you get back up after a knock down which is important, not the actual knock down. But to have been working my arse off for the last ten months to still not be “good enough” – well.

It’s been a rough few days.

But I have another run booked for June. My asthma is back under control, mostly. A couple more days will see it right.

Just one of those things, I guess.

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In a flap

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That six week mark seems to be so significant in terms of body stuff, doesn’t it. It’s generally how long a fracture takes to heal; it’s the check up point after surgeries; it’s too long to go without a shower. Today was actually seven weeks for me, post endometriosis removal, but it was check up day.

There is seating for seven in my gyno’s waiting room, which I feel is sufficient. I mean, I’d assume that a trip to this particular specialist would be something you’d maybe do with your partner, or just solo. I walked in and two seats were taken (man and a lady, who I assumed were together given his suggested lack of labia). As I waited to see the receptionist I heard a circus outside the door. I looked up in horror as the door opened.

Now, before I explain what entered the door, I would like to expand up the kind of “waiting room person” I am. If I wanted to hang out with friends, I’d probably be more likely to go to a cafe or something. Further, being a waiting room at a medical place, there are potentially going to be some stressy or unhappy people in that waiting room. So not somewhere I would choose to celebrate somebody’s birthday, for example. Because there are other people likely to be there. People aside from myself. I like to sit quietly. I bring a book or my phone or some crocheting. I only eavesdrop if it sounds interesting. Aside from that, the business of a waiting room is simply to wait. 

The door opened.

And in walked three women, one man, and a male toddler.

Now, by my calculations, only one of the three vaginas that just entered the room would have an appointment. I mean sure, they could have booked a group appointment to compare something or other. They might have booked consecutive appointments, so they could go one after the other. Kind of like a fallopian conga line. But it was obvious that all five of them were there for one vagina.

As they settled into all the remaining seats, the two that were there before me were called through to the Doctor’s room. The door opened and another woman entered. It seemed the group of people knew this lady. She sat opposite them and the conversations were loud, and revolved around weeks. Oh you’re 34 weeks? That’s six weeks of nesting! How many weeks of maternity leave do you have? Weeks weeks weeks. Nobody asked me how many weeks along from surgery was. As you know the answer is seven. Very rude.

Anyway anyway, I had my appointment with the gyno which was a triumph of uterine recovery. Then, knowing I had to get back on the road relatively quickly in order to get to another appointment by ten, my head got a little distracted. That’s the only way I can rationalise what happened next.

Receptionist: OK Kel, do you need any follow up appointments?

Me: Nope, all good!

Receptionist: Oh good! So you’re free to leave!

Me: Yes, I can take my vagina and go! (Immediate internal reaction: OH FUCK WHAT DID I JUST SAY?)

Receptionist: <blinks then giggles> Yes well make sure you take it with you!

Superhero Stride

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So now that beloved’s foot is on the mend, she’s started to join me on different walks. A few weeks ago she came along with me for the Mother’s Day Classic, and this weekend just gone we both did the Superhero Stride.

This one was to raise money for the rescue chopper. An important cause, one we both wanted to get behind. Because when you’re in an horrific accident, you need some angel to drop from the sky, get you stable and then whisk you off to hospital. We’ve both known people who have needed the rescue chopper, and recently the man friend of someone very dear to us was helped by these folks. So yes, we were absolutely in.

The thing about fun runs, or walks, is that generally they are being held for a particular reason. Usually to try to raise money or awareness regarding something specific. Now, because I am trying to do at least one a month (I’m doing three this month!), I tend to pick and choose which ones I actually try to drum up donations for. My entry fee usually goes to the cause, so I know I have already done my bit. And let’s face it. Cash is scarce and times are pretty damn tough. For me, the doing of fun runs is often more about breaking down that barrier of feeling like I’m too fat or too unfit for this kind of thing. Because I’m not. Not either of those things. If you can propel yourself in a forwards fashion for the distance, you’ll be fine. In fact even if you can’t do the full distance you’ll be fine. Just turn around when you’re feeling halfway finished.

It’s been peculiar. So much of the last 9 months has been more about discovering what I can do, after spending so many years very much aware of everything I couldn’t do. So every time I do something new, I get this little surge of bubbly pride. It’s quite nice really. Sometimes it feels like trapped wind, but mostly it’s quite nice.

One of the more annoying things I can do now is feel cold. I never realised how cold weather could get. Who knew my insulation was being so helpful? Certainly not me.

Anyway, anyway, the Superhero Stride.

It was a dress-up occasion, which I was thrilled about. I love love love dress ups!! SO MUCH FUN.

So here’s us. At the Newcastle Superhero Stride.

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Can you tell who we are?

Here’s a hint:

 

There’s a fork in the road and it’s loaded with kale.

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Regular visitors here and to the Facebook page would have picked up on a bit of a shift in gears at the Naughty Corner.

I’ve never really hidden much from this blog.

I’ve written about all sorts of shit, haven’t I. The ups, the downs, the ins, the outs. We’ve been together through this blog for I think about three years now. And I’ve loved getting to know you, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride thus far.

The thing is, as my own life has changed and twisted and turned, so has the blog. I just feel like it’s something worth talking about, so that you know where I’m at and I know that I’ve been upfront and honest – things that are priorities in my life, often to the mortification of those around me!

I started this blog sitting on a hill at the Byron Bay Writers Festival. It came out of a decision to write more regularly. And I’ve tried to write here fairly regularly. I know there have been quiet times, but I’ve usually come back and explained the reason behind the silence. And it’s like coming back to an old friend. I love your comments and your likes and your questions. Because the other aim of my blog was to make sure people knew that they were not all alone. Be it mental health, same sex attraction, being on the spectrum, chronic awkwardness – it was important to me to make sure that people knew there was someone else.

And I’m still here. Tapping away on the keyboard.

But yes, things have changed.

You see, because this blog represents my life, it’s taken a turn.

A turn towards documenting weight loss, getting active, making changes towards a better quality of life. And I know that this isn’t everyone’s power smoothie cup of tea. But I wanted to be honest, so here I am, pointing out the obvious in my delicate way.

I’m still blogging. I’m still ridiculous. But I have a goal. And I’d love to take you with me as I close in on it.

Because there’s this thing:

Many years ago, back when I lived in Sydney and was at the peak of my weight training and fitness, I had a small idea that one day I might be a personal trainer. But then life happened, and I left that idea on the side of the road that I was stumbling along.

But you know what?

I’m fit now. Yes I am still fat. But I am getting closer every day to my goal weight, through a mixture of sensible eating and dedicated exercise. No short cuts. No fads. Just making choices, every single day. I have an army of supporters, including my beautiful beloved, the flatmate who isn’t my flatmate anymore, my awesome family and friends, and one very dedicated trainer. And I’ll get there.

So, in a couple of weeks, I’m heading off to an information session. To start a Certificate III in Personal Training. I know I’ll need at least a Certificate IV to actually do anything, so by starting now, at this place, I am giving myself another year to keep working towards my fitness and weight goals.

I’m totally shitting myself about this. But I reckon I can do it. And it feels ridiculous to be putting this out there on a public forum – but fuck. I want to do this and I’ve worked my arse off to get this far. Yes, I’m still fat. But I am fit. And every day I am capable of doing more and more.

And I’d love it if you stuck around.

Because I’m still going to be blogging. About doing life as my body shrinks. About taking on challenges that freak me out. About navigating gym classes and fun runs and lycra and the sore bottom of spin class. But most of all, about being myself in the Naughty Corner while I plod on towards a dream.

Come with me?

Spinning Around

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Beloved and I just had dinner at the local pub. I’m now sitting on the recliner, rather carefully.

I woke up in a foul and unrivalled mood today. This wasn’t just waking up on the wrong side of the bed – this was fuck the bed altogether and waking up on the floor covered in tanty pants and pursed lips. I was in an absolute funk.

I had to renew my license today, and I wanted to get the monkey off my back regarding doing classes at the gym. I used to do heaps of classes in Sydney, mainly Pump. But that was years ago now. And what better day to tackle something new than a day when you feel like shit and everything in the world is out to get you?

But I made it to the class and survived, and actually really enjoyed it. So now, I present to you from the comfort of my recliner, a beginner’s guide to doing a class at the gym.

The class I took on today was Spin. This has nothing to do with creating wool from a sheep’s back. It has everything to do with these:

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Image Source: greatist.com

Yep, a room full of stationary bikes with big front wheels. The aim of the game in a spin class is to pedal. You pedal sitting down, standing up, leaning forward, sitting up – and you will pedal like you’ve never pedalled before. Round and round and round.

Fact #1: You do not need to wear a helmet.

Fact #2: The spin room isn’t brightly lit, so it’s actually not all that scary.

Fact #3: You will need your sweat towel. Today I had my Lorna Jane sweat towel, which is probably called something much more ladylike and sophisticated in the Lorna Jane catalogue – maybe the Glittering Moisture Absorbing Fibre With Wings, to position the towel in place and actually pull moisture away from the body. Maybe. I’m a bit cross with Lorna Jane, simply because they don’t make active wear for the body shapes that actually really really need active wear.

But I digress.

The sweat towel. I started with mine kind of slung over the handlebars. This wasn’t a good idea. A better idea is to actually drape that sucker across the handlebars. Your arms are going to sweat, which makes getting a grip on the bars a pain in the arse.

Fact #4: The pain in the arse. Your bottom is going to hurt. My concern was more the lady garden to be honest, but no. It’s my bottom that is causing me to sit so carefully tonight.

The confrontation level of a spin class?

Not as high as I had initially anticipated. I was sure (as I am every time I try something new) that I was going to get everything wrong, that I was going to be laughed at the entire time, and that I’d never be able to go to the gym ever again.

Here’s the reality: Every single person in that room was focused on their own bike. Nobody gave a damn about what resistance I had my bike on, nobody laughed at my boobs dancing around the room as I pedalled, nobody challenged my right to be in the class.

This is something that is so, so important.

The people who will mock you, or doubt you – they are not the people actually doing it. They have no idea of the commitment involved. Of the challenge. Of the continual facing of fears. They mock you because they have no idea. But the people in that spin room next to you? Or the people on the same fun run track? Or the ones that you pass when you go for a morning run or walk? They know exactly what it takes to be doing what you are doing.

So relax. You are probably being greatly admired every single time you get out there.

I think I just digressed again.

At the end of the class I remembered my standard ridiculousness. I attempted to follow the stretches but my leg wouldn’t lift. Oh my god, it wouldn’t lift. I’ve done a hamstring or I’ve dislocated a kneecap or I’ve left my lower bowel on the bike seat. WHY WON’T MY LEG MOVE??

Because my shoelace was stuck in the pedal.

This is me after spin. I’m sweaty. I’m a little sore. But I’m proud. And that arse of a mood is gone.

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So there you go. Spin. Have you tried it? What stops you from trying it? When will my bottom feel better?

Game On

Standard

I used to live in Sydney.

I have some awesome friends still in Sydney, and one of them ventured up for a visit this weekend. We shall refer to her as Sarah, because that is her name.

Now, being from Sydney, I felt a certain level of pressure to provide Sarah with a Novocastrian experience that demonstrated the superiority of my adopted home town. Newcastle is great. It’s laid back, it’s beautiful, it lacks the chaos and crowding that is hallmark of Sydney. So my little brain went into overdrive.

I considered beach walks, live music, the Thai Ladyboys show that is currently in town.

And then it hit me. A far greater idea. An idea that would go down in history, and perhaps should appear on the Top Ten of things to do in Newcastle.

Yes, I created a game show night.

I collected Sarah from the train station and went straight to the supermarket. Stage one: Supermarket Sweep. With a budget of $10, Sarah was issued with the instructions to collect ingredients that she would use to create a “tasting plate” dessert. She also had to buy one packet of paddle pop sticks for a later event. I had to do the same, but my mystery item was a bag of elastic bands. The plot thickens, friends.

Ingredients: check.

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Stage two. Within a 30 minute time frame, create a dessert using the ingredients purchased and basic pantry items.

I was a little surprised at the processes Sarah included:

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She expressed surprise that this would be how she spent a Saturday night. Little did she know the fun had only just begun.

We cooked down to the wire, friends. Both our desserts needed some fridge time, which allowed the perfect opportunity for Stage Three: The Price Is Right. This challenge was easy in theory. Make a list of the items purchased. With a time frame of 60 seconds, the challenge was to put these items in order of price, from most expensive to cheapest. The stakes were high. I won.

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Once victory was claimed it was time for the taste test. Now, neither of us knew what the other was cooking. My philosophy was to pick a dessert that I knew was a crowd favourite, but adapt it so that it could be whipped up quickly on a budget and still taste good. I present to you: Chocolate Cheesecake (complete with artistic smear that looked vaguely like excrement)!

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Sarah took a slightly different approach.

In my more generous moments, I can see what she was aiming for. The combination of savoury and sweet, the elements of surprise and texture variation, the bite size idea of the canapé. Upon presentation I was more than a little surprised to see Cheese and Bacon Balls.

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What you have just gazed upon is banana slices, with holes inside them. These holes are filled with banana lollies. The banana is topped with Ice Magic, with a crumbled Cheese and Bacon Ball crust. Sarah explained that she felt this would result in a taste sensation similar to salted caramel.

It did not.

Stage four was a sneaky one. It involved the creation of catapults. These catapults were then used to fire marshmallows across the lounge room. What was a bit sneaky about it was that this was a blatant trial run for Cubs. Sarah absolutely had the edge in this battle.

Ah, Newcastle. You have much to offer. I can’t help but wonder if I lived in Sydney still, would this evening of game show shenanigans would even been considered as suitable entertainment for a visiting friend.

I think it would, to be honest. But admit it. You’re jealous, right?

How do you entertain friends?