To Hel and Back :: Edit your Template To Hel and Back: October 2005

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Worth a thousand words

I have actually sorted my photos out and now have them ready to upload via a very slow broadband connection or at least the IP connection at work once my office is all built (made of sticks and leaves).

I have started to add photos of the Perth to Port walk though I will probably have to leave them to finish uploading as I am soon off to Pavarotti. Didn't you know I was cultured?!

Here's a photo of me all glammed up with the lovely Sandy, at the WA Teams West rally dinner. Maybe it's time to change the one in my profile (right hand corner) as I really don't look like that anymore do I?! Funnily, a lot of people didn't recognise me at the dinner so I guess I do look different. Looks like the long hair stays!

Anyway more photos soon, which if the saying is correct, will get me out of writing many words!

Fremantle pics
Perth pics
Coastal /beach pics

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Don't you hate it when you get a post in your head and then go to write it up and remember that your site is open to strangers so decide not to do it.

So just a basic here I am post...

Got offered a year's contract in Perth
Going to Pavarotti's farewell concert
Successfully reunited with father
Received flirtatious text messages from men of no interest
Doing my first pilates class before I turn into a hunchback with crushed internal organs
Still haven't posted the box full of presents to Finland for y'all
Finally downloaded some photos off the camera, yet to appear on website
Irishman invited me to Laos for new year within 1.5 hour phone call that he instigated
Need someone to drive my sporty liveried Subaru company car. Takers?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I'm in the mood for love

I miss being in love.

I particularly miss it in the mornings, in those lazy ten minutes you give yourself between the alarm going off and actually getting out of bed. Those ten minutes when you are warm and comfortable and thinking about how good the day ahead is and how great the person you love is. I am new to being out of love, so I still feel the gap in those ten minutes, cold like the air outside the bed I must inevitably embrace.

I see things in shops, photos in scenes, words in books, and I go to take and capture them for people who are not there, who are long gone, to whom I am nothing.

I go wet eyed and gooey, make sighing and ahhing noises in romantic movies. I long for happy endings. Boys meets girl, gets girl. Old people dating and falling in love is my particular weakness.

I am not appropriate for dating. I am full of brutal honesty that strips out any romance, shocks the soft nerves of anyone less brittle, less time wasting, less needy than I. I want to go directly to love, collect $200, no slow dice throwing game of chance for me.

I contemplate, my first of life's "what ifs". What if I asked for forgiveness, what if I went back to where I was last loved, where I am still loved, if I am still loved. What if I tried to turn back the clock several years, tried to erase from memories my current history, my past wrongdoings. Would it work or would I find the door slammed in my face? Or worse still, would I find the return too welcoming, too loving and realise again that I am a "wild thing" that should not be loved...

Am I, like Holly Golightly, about to run into the street, searching trashcans, "We did belong to each other."?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Out in the open

The first of the final announcements was made at the worst possible time on Friday night and until about 6 hours before it was, I never believed this would happen.

Aside from my mum., (and even she got a kick at the dinner table when we bumped into someone who worked for event) I hadn't really been able to talk about this with people.

The staff here were all expecting that this was the last year and your efforts do change as a result of that - not necessarily less effort, but small things for example, making sure everyone has the chance to go and see a stage for the last time.

And now, we have it for one more year. Which is of course great but opens up a new can of worms. What happens after 2007 for starters? And for me, who had discussions with the alternative 2006 organisers, this is like winning and losing a job all in one announcment. So, confused "where to from here" thoughts to follow.

"I would walk 12.45 miles... "

Yesterday on very little sleep and a little bit of alcohol, mum and I did Perth to Port, which is a walk for breast cancer from Perth to Fremantle - about 18 kms.

We went pretty fast off the start line but 11 kms in, and mum's feet started to blister so we took the rest pretty easy, though I stupidly jogged a few sections.

Suffice to say, anyone with a spa is my friend right now as I have discovered tiny little muscles in places I didn't know existed. I smell fragantly of tiger balm.

There are a stack of photos but yesterday afternoon saw me collapse in a hungover, walked over state, waking only to watch cable tv, so you'll have to wait for the iconic dingo sign and the Perth foreshore.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturday night

Current mood: anticipatory
Current music: my mother is playing that Schnappy crocodile song god help me
Current weather: grey
Current foot attire: leopard print slippers
Current hair: wet and wrapped in cling film

So here I am, after an active day of gym, with a new nickname (muffin top; for the record I don't look like this - it's supposed to be a gym motivator), having stickered 90 jars in the name of wedding bonbonnerie and am about to get into a slinky cocktail dress all in aid of local motorsport. It's a tough life really...

There is a lot to say but (seriously) I am embargoed until Monday (got to love working in the press, I've been waiting months to write about this), the keyboard set up in mum's boyfriend's office doesn't reach me, and the Schanppy song is driving me insane.

Monday it is then.

Ich bin ein kleinen crocodile...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

yeah yeah alive and kicking...

...or at least kicking little clouds of dust up.

The weather has improved but I've been inside since it's started. And inside, in my office, it's cold enough to wear scarves.

Rally is rally is rally. I've bored myself into a coma today writing awful commentary notes. Its sure to lull the crowd into a gently slumber. Given the success of my "quirky questions" for the start ceremony in Japan (how do you find Japanese toilets, for example) I've got a bit of a ridiculous theme running through the notes now.

I feel uninspired to do anything, it's more like passing though the motions. I believe this is something Perth does to you, just lulls you into this sense of apathy,sucks the motivation from you. Really. I've spoken to three other people who feel the same after living in Europe.

So that's what I have not been writing to anyone, even though I think of Finland constantly and have a pile of mail to send and a pile of photos for everyone.

Speaking of which, the camera is back; mum's boyfriend had to retrieve it from a remarkably apathetic YellowMazda. Won't be driving down that road again. And speaking of how to lose friends and irritate people, I'm sure I've scared off 18 year reunion boy (just by being lil ol' me!) and caused some inbitching amongst friends. Terrific. I did make a hit when reunited with a friend of a friend from Finland long ago, who suggested we go back to his place for a cuddle, no more. Sadly he was so drunk, I'll wait for an offer that's twisted in sobriety.

This weekend is Perth to Port, next weekend canoeing (subject to rally committments) for those of you who follow my movements with a degree of interest. The day I after canoe I move into the Hotel. Ahhh hotels are home. Maybe I'll liven up in some four star comfort.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sister Rowena remembers her vows

I'm going back into the nunnery with my habit between my legs.

I'm not even going to go on a date. Ever. Really.

After Friday night, which was not a date, but turned into maybe kinda one, I offered that I would place the ball very openly in the man's court, seeing I was in town for a limited time only and that sometimes people start to think you're a little shallow because you can enjoy their company for a limited time. Actually I'm more into enjoying time with people rather than refraining from experiencing anything because my time is limited. But each to their own, you can't force someone to think the same.

It turns out I left my camera in this guy's car, and naturally I want it back pronto. Shouldn't be too hard because our paths cross quite naturally anyway. But now it looks like I might have to send a bloody courier to get it back because there is zero interest from said man in seeing me again. Not in the near future. And not ever.

Stupidly I made the joke on Saturday morning that I left the camera there intentionally to see him again. He probably believes it and thinks I am now a bunny boiler.

So now I've just had stupid phone calls full of tense pauses and unanswered text messages.

This dating game is all too hard, so I'm going to stick to saying hail Mary's and wondering how to fix a problem like Rowena...

Postscript: Said man just sent message. Apparently everything's just fine... He just can't tell me when he might see me to give my camera back. Wow imagine the stress if I was going to ask him on a second date...

To canoe or not to canoe

I've planned a canoeing trip as a last minute burst of fresh air before getting locked into headquarters. The canoeing isn't too ambitious, a few kms or so. We paddle out to a seal colony and go aahhhh a lot and then do the same with some penguins.

I planned this a few days ago.

And there has since been a shark alert. In fact, two shark alerts. So my mother is a little anxious.

Apparently you should stay away from areas with seals. Problem number one.

And also, not look like a seal. Canoeists look very much like seals to sharks. Problem number two.

So to canoe or not to canoe? There will be other people there so I won't get chomped alone. And I am sure that the group leader will keep a beady eye out on the shark spotting planes. (I am always anxious about whether you can work out if a plane is dipping its wings or simply turning the corner). However I don't think the shark spotters cover where we plan to go. They only work on the tourist beaches, where apparently the sharks have been lurking in shallow water.

Where's, JoElle (spelling?) that guy who came to my leaving party and was the shark shooter in Jaws?!

Where indeed am I today and Who am I today?

I am slipping into Perth-induced coma.

I don't know where my weekend went. I have forgotten my social skills and how to personally interact with people. I am watching television. I am lost.

This has probably been the hardest trip home. The longest time I will spend here and the most I have ever wanted to spend at my real home.

Realising you have no one to call to go out for a coffee with is quite lonely. I talk to the cat in Finnish, if you consider saying "mita kissa?" a conversation.

Sometimes it's great to be with my parents; yesterday my mother and I really had a conversation. Sometimes it's painful. Either way I still appreciate it. But it's certainly emotional.

I am finding old ghosts. The Finns haunts me everywhere in this city.

I miss everyone in Finland so much. In every body of water I see a Finnish lake. I found and developed an old roll of film and the cottage at Kuusamo teases me from the cubicle wall of my office.

My office. I work from home in tracksuits. Now I am an alien in alien's clothing sitting in a cubicle. Today I couldn't get dressed. My mother saw my frustration, told me to just wear jeans and be myself for a day. Even still, a stiff Country Road shirt sits awkwardly and pulls at my hair.

I need to sit down and rediscover the art of letter writing and write to you all and remind myself who I am when I am not in this city, bewildered and lost, who I am in my jeans and not some corporate branded shirt, who I am without three mobile phones, a walkie talkie and a string of magnetic ID passes (please... !).

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Parents: you're only as good as your kids?

Last night I went out (originally) alone because my mother was out with her boyfriend's family. It's not hugely my scene so when she suggested I make my own plans, I agreed. I didn't have any, but always happy to make something up.

But now I wonder about the real reason I shouldn't have been there.

The morning after, she made several comments like "I think his dad might know you're in Perth but I don't think the sister does." I didn't think it was such a big secret and said this much to her. "Oh it's not" was the reply "but it just makes it easier."

Makes it easier for what??? I started asking questions and I started really pushing my mother for answers. "They ask if you have a boyfriend... " she trailed off.

Suddenly it clicked. Some of my mum's questions when I first arrived did not sound like her words. What did I do with my money. The status of my love life. Specific questions about my jobs. They were the questions of others I knew. She had also made comments about his family, or other people who had asked if I was married again but I had just brushed them off. But now...

"Tell them I have many wonderful boyfriends." I tried to say light heartedly. And then with more edge "Tell them I am doing great, I travel the world, and I make more money than any of them." I added with complete seriousness "And you shouldn't let other people's values determine whether or not you are proud of your daughter." The silence that followed killed me.

So there you have it folks. I am 30. I am able to have mature and meaningful relationships. I am travelled and able to walk into many foreign situations alone and get back safely. I am bright, and openminded, smart enough to own my business and, when I choose to work, I get paid more by the day than a lot of people do in a week. But I am single, divorced, and childless. And around my mother, her children's friends are getting married, having children, buying block of land. And around the kitchen tables the mothers get to boast of the various symbols of status their children are acquiring. My status symbols are in another currency; they are immeasurable. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be enough for my mother to offer in the kitchen table banter.

I'm proud of me. Even if I am crying as I write this.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Kahlil Gibran

Lamb at the Oyster Bar

Last night to lift my deep blue disoriented funk, I registered in the Perth to Port walk next Sunday, which my mum has decided she is doing with me (I didn't get a choice!).

Took the Blue Cat to Barrack Street jetty for views back to the city. Brayshaw called and we discussed how we were not settling into Perth. He was deciding whether to head back to Europe or get a Commodore (Perth does this to you).

Then I took the Cat all the way round the city to see what changes had happened (another of my apartments have been knocked down, I clearly knew good real estate locations!) and to feel the beat of Northbridge nightlife.

A quick drink at Fenians (strange to be there outside of rally, it was full of old men cursing) and then took YellowMazda out to dinner. I was going to go to LinQ on my own but Perth isn't really about doing things on your own. Everybody's in a clique and goes out as one. Luckily YellowMazda was free and joined me to discover that LinQ was now an Oyster Bar.

The setting was pretty magnificent (thanks to the lovely Lidia who suggested looking at the City from the foreshore would give me some geographic grounding) and the risotto, the lamb, fishcakes and chicken were all divine. Sorry Sami, I took no photos. We passed on the oysters (philestines I know) and also refused the "upsell" when the waitress brought us a platter of fresh dead grim looking fish to convince us of the daily specials.

YellowMazda patiently drove me home via Fremantle for ice cream and the coast road for cuddles. I just curled up in fleece and fell asleep (great company aren't I!?) waking only when he would brake sharply to make my head snap up just for laughs...

On revisiting the Sheraton hotel

This is my last indulgence.
This is the last time
of the first time
I have been at our place
without you.

No shared room keys
No huomenta over hurried breakfasts
No Fazer chocolate mid afternoon snacks
in the quiet of the long long days.

I'll stay in another hotel
to shut out the memories
Close the door on tangled cotton sheets, soapy baths, room service.

Do not disturb.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Eugh mornings

I am having an euuughyewck morning.

I don't like feeling cold. I don't like the feeling of having to wear jackets at my desk, clothes to bed, or generally just being cold indoors. Wrong wrong wrong.

I tried on three tops this morning until my mother and I could agree on one that doesn't make me look pregnant. (I'm not by the way) Fifty bucks says I leave here with body dismorphic disorder...!

I was confused at the cafe because no one queues or takes a number they just mill in a circle. And no one stands on the right of the escalator. And everyone knows the first name of the waitress at the cafe or the post office clerk and says "have a good one'.

And I feel lonely and more isolated here than anywhere else in the world.

Grumble grumble.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I got mail

In the car on the way home, my mother said to me, "some mail has arrived for Dee Vah. Who is Dee?"

"That's me! That's me! I am a diva!" I screamed a little too loud, almost causing mum to run into a car with a bumper sticker that read 'this is Holden country, where on a quiet day you can hear the Fords rusting'.

So with much excitment I fell upon my mail from the girls - photo of parcel at door to my room; photo of self opening parcel, only chin jutting excitedly in frame; photo of first object drawn from parcel; photo of self laughing at photos, only teeth at bad angle in frame; photo of self trying to open lipgloss with teeth; photo of self applying lip gloss; scary close up of lips in strange pursed pose, and so on.

I then got so excited that I couldn't work out whether to text, or call, or email or open, or play or show my mum or or or.

So if you want to make me that excited, send me mail.

Other news for the day:
I went to the gym. I was the slimmest person there but I was certainly the most unfit. So unfair. My mother trained me and we ended up just rolling round on the floor laughing, with me kicking those big balls around, and my mother doing sit ups with 100 tonne weights and saying 'I can do 100 of these'. I decided to retort with, "so could I at your age" and pretend to be the older convalescing sister... Anyway I feel really good for it, the exercise rather than making fun of my mum. I don't think I lost weight or gained fitness. Tomorrow maybe?

It rained, this morning. It was grey and cold. The weather forecast showed that the only place colder in Australia was Hobart. No comment.

Today I am being reunited with my primary school crush who I haven't seen for 18 years. Interesting...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Smurfs get political

"THE people of Belgium are reeling at the first adults-only episode of The Smurfs, in which the blue-skinned cartoon characters' village is annihilated by warplanes.

The short but chilling film is the work of UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, and is to be broadcast on national television next week as a campaign advertisement.

The animation was approved by the family of the Smurfs' late creator, "Peyo".

Belgian TV viewers had a preview of the 25-second film last week, when it was shown on the main evening news. Reactions ranged from approval to shock and, in the case of small children who saw it by accident, wailing terror.

UNICEF and the family company IMPS, which controls rights to the Smurfs, have stipulated that it is not to be broadcast before 9pm.

The short film pulls no punches. It opens with the Smurfs dancing hand-in-hand around a campfire and singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds flutter by and rabbits gambol about their village until, without warning, bombs rain from the sky.

Smurfs scatter and run before being felled by blast waves and explosions. The final scene shows a scorched Baby Smurf sobbing inconsolably. (this haunts me just reading it... )

The final frame bears the message: "Don't let war affect the lives of children."

It is intended as the keystone of a fund-raising drive by UNICEF's Belgian arm to raise $A163,000 for the rehabilitation of former child soldiers in Burundi.

UNICEF Belgium spokesman Philippe Henon said his agency had set out to shock, after concluding that traditional images of suffering in Third World war zones had lost their power to move television viewers. "It's controversial," he said. "We have never done something like this before, but we've learned over the years that the reaction to the more normal type of campaign is very limited."

Belgium prides itself on being the home of some of the world's most famous cartoon characters, from Tintin to Lucky Luke and the Smurfs.

The advertising agency behind the campaign decided the best way to convey the impact of war on children was to tap into the earliest, happiest memories of Belgian television viewers. They chose the Smurfs, who first appeared in a Belgian comic in 1958."



It's very very cold here.

Considering it's spring. And that I used to arrive and swelter in the heat and am currently wearing a fleece. And sheepskin.

My mother said it was 1.3C when she went to the gym at six am. I'm not sure about how reliable that was but officially it was 9C.

Houses aren't built for this weather. So I shiver in my fleece and some leopard print fluffy slippers I stole from my mum, even when inside the house. The cat chases the fluffy bits of my slippers, which isn't great because I'm allergic to the cat.

I am a shivering, red-nose, watery-eyed, sneezing, wheezing bundle of fleece in slippers.

Also I am still being bitten. A different bug. I need a flea collar.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Culture shock

I'm back in Perth.

People don't understand me and I them. Worse than Japan, for at least then, I mimed.

People don't listen. They say one syllable words with many syllables. "coming ho-oh-em" for coming home. And why is everything a question?!

Why don't they recycle? Understand movies? Tolerate aboriginals? Know where Finland is?

Who's weird? Me or them?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Feet on ground, head in clouds

I'm here but I have spent my time working and sleeping. When I get home, sitting in front of the computer is that last thing I want to do. So I am taking it easy until the whirlwind of Japan goes away.

Today is Beef's funeral, and I feel for everyone who I know will be there. For his family. For every wife who has a husband co-driving, for every child who has a father co-driving. He will be remembered in a momentous way, he will be mourned in a monumental way. Does it really have to happen?

Also today, an email from Dkw's brother which sent me into reels of tears.

Today I will: stop to pat the cat, admire a flower, write to a friend, hug my mother, tell someone I love them, eat a good meal, smile through tears, celebrate life.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Rally review

I thought I would quickly recap on the rally.

In the end, everything went AOK. There were no major incidents, everything was done as it should be (the Japanese are very good at following written instructions) and I even managed to sleep on one night, drink on another and eat on yet another.

The cast:
Topolina: An Italian beauty from San Remo who worked her socks off at this year's event after on event training from me last year. She was a joy to work with, but a pain to be seen next to. All the men always asked me where she was. Sigh.

Parrot: An Aussie youngster the daughter of a VIP type, she was nicknamed the parrot for hanging off my shoulder. A lot of fun and knowledgeable about the sport, so that you often forgot she was 15, until her dad told me to get her home on time!

Rusky: My Russian Japanese Chinese English speaking boss. We used to work together a lot. This year he was like the phantom and I worked alone.

Cutlet: My Japanese boss. We couldn't communicate without the use of mime. Always interesting. The mime, that is.

Samurai: A random person in the press centre who thought he spoke English and liked to overwrite any decision made my foreign women. Of course we got on so well... not

The action: On the penultimate stage, poor Petter hit the rock of God, as it has since been called, giving the Peugeot team a much needed morale boosting win. Still in mourning, the team hit the podium in tears and was quickly joined by brothers in arms, Citroen. With Seb claiming the Drivers' title in this event, it was an emotional PSA moment. Daniel C broke me when he said he couldn't describe the emotion of sitting in Markko's car. Equally bittersweet was Aussie Chris Atkinson's first podium - WRC history in the making; he was elevated because of Petter's demise and the Norwegian was said to have cried for hours for a win he wanted to give to Beef.

The emotion: Yatai Mura unofficially became Beef Street - a touching tribute. Condolence books, black electrical tape, mourning bands and plastic wrist straps punctuated the event. Mortality was something we were all too aware of.

The rumour: Rowena gets pursued by a tall-haired Australian apparently in lerve (with someone else), bats eyelids at a Finn who unfortunately also comes from the YLE stable. No action on either front.

The end: Over for another year. They said they want me back. Stay tuned for the answer in the next episode...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Here I am

Arrived at Perth 0610. Mmmm sleepy.

It's so nice to check emails and find messages from people wondering if you're okay because they haven't heard from you for a day and a half. Is that a bit self-centred of me? It just makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Just a short one as I am going to get some much needed sleep to catch up on the 18 hour days, the night of drinking and the long day of flying.

All is well here, I've spoken to the folks, called the bride to be, my mother has enrolled me in a gym with a personal trainer (anyone would think I'm the bride but apparently me being a size 12 is shocking... !), I've eaten vegetables and vitamin smoothies to protect myself from back-to-back events, discovered my mother has a new addiction to Home and Away and already gained a whole backpack's worth of clothing. The usual stuff then.

More from the home front and a rally report once I unpack my laptop.

Off to the land of nod...Mmmmm sleep.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The first rule of PR

is that whenever you write your releases in advance, everything will change at the last second.

Petter out on penultimate stage of Rally Japan. And I had such a lovely story written.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

On the streets of Japan

I've been struck by the number of homeless people here in Japan and also the accepted attitude towards leaving them on the streets and tolerating cardboard citizens. As a result, some areas in Japanese cities are villages of permanently dwelling homeless people.

Most of them have a lot of posessions, even trolleys to cart their things. I have not noticed any people with visible substance abuse issues, and most of them are old.

I was told by people that some people have to make a conscience choice to be homeless because of the situation with pensions as well as the stress of working life:

I was in a cab in Tokyo last night having a interesting conversation about the recent elections and the future of Japan with a very educated and opinionated cab driver. The conversation turned to the pension system. He told me that he would be retiring soon and because of the of the way that he had done his pension, he would be retiring with a monthly payment less than enough money to pay for room and board. He told me that he was now designing his homeless shack. He figured he could afford an air-conditioner and some real panel, but that the price of the roofing material had gone up so he might have to use those blue plastic sheets. He was serious. He was also considering several different places to locate. He said that until he had found his current cab company employer, he had been homeless so this wasn't new to him.

cites one example.

There's some interesting reading here.

I miss

I miss you all so much

Too too early

Things that it's too early for:
1. A bunch of random people to appear on the "who's online" stats of my site!
2. Eating anything raw
3. Eating anything with eyes
4. More than two people screaming ohio gozimas at you
5. Bento boxes
6. Walking in a straight line
7. Intelligent conversation
8. Being social. Being nice even. Dammit even being pleasant.
9. Typing live comments from the field
10. Navigating the 500 metres from my hotel to work.
11. Sitting upright.
12. Continuing this list any longer.