Lit from within – isn’t that a lovely way to describe someone? I thought so. I pondered on all those shiny people out there who act as beacons for we lesser mortals, navigating us through our murkier times, and then realised that the light from within me should probably come with a disclaimer reading: May spontaneously combust without warning. My light is, in all likelihood, the glowing embers of latent rage and not a beatific beam of joy.
Sad but true.
I’d like to explain away my blogging absence, once again mourned by the Andorrans and my many readers in Tuvalu, by sharing the details of an epic publishing deal and my preliminary talks with the Weinstein’s, but the truth is infinitely prosaic.
It began with Tia, a tiny profane woman of inestimable energy and resilience. A friend had suggested I talk with her about some alternative career opportunities, because nothing screams mid-life crisis more than the What in gods name am I DOING refrain. Tia did not sugar coat anything.
What have you done so far?
Sales, marketing, sales, sales, a bit of selling, some sales…
You’re not a salesperson. Look at you, you can’t sell for fuck!
She was emphatic and 100% correct. I cannot sell for fuck.
You need to speak to Greg, he’s done wonders for me and my daughter. He helped me sort all my shit out with my mother and, look, you just have to fucking speak to him yourself and sort out your own shit, ok? Come back and see me when you know what you want.
I left clutching Greg’s details and feeling like i’d been belted around the head with a foam baton for several hours.
Greg ran a remote practice from his bunker on the coast of New South Wales. Other than a few tearful drunken phone calls with friends over the years I’d never actually experienced phone counselling before, so this was set to be a challenge.
His voice was youthful and reassuring and I spent some considerable amount of time during our initial conversation composing a mental picture of him and his office. He was, I imagined, tall, tanned and toothy and almost certainly bald; there was a great deal of rattan furniture and the walls were hung with inspirational quotes – I’d lay money on a glass dolphin too.
There was the inevitable historical dissection and recognition of trauma before an exercise in directed visualisation. It hinged on recalling myself as a child, going to my safe place, swathing myself in several cloaks and reassuring my child-self that everything was kosher. My mind lacks a certain discipline as anyone who has attempted a guided meditation with me will attest. This was a doomed exercise from the start.
Greg in the meantime had suggested I complement his therapy with some form of bodywork such as Pilates or network chiropractic.
Enkindle Wellness is just around the corner. It was high time I set fire to something so Network Chiropractic it was.
Having only ever experienced the bone crunching techniques of your regular chiro, I was unprepared for the light touch of Dr Ken, a wildly empathetic and heavily bearded man obsessed with humanities multitude of layers. I lay facedown for an hour while Ken scooted around me in his stockinged feet pausing to press a finger for a nano second on some contact point or other and then stepping back to observe the reaction. It felt silly but I had to confess to a certain lightness when he was done.
I continue to attend regular sessions and while I have absolutely no idea what Ken is doing , I cannot deny the earnestness with which he does it. The good Doctor remains extremely pleased with my resurgent female energy as he ploughs on plumbing my emotional depths…or something like that.
Greg, however, was abandoned after three sessions. There was a School of the Air vibe about it all and Greg’s perfectly pleasant but nevertheless disembodied male authorial voice unsettled me.
My notes from our talks ended up under the bed beside the Gratitude Journal that ended on day eight , five days worth of incoherent The Creative Way rambling penned upon wakening and six unread copies of The Big Issue.
An opportunity to contribute to a fledging idea for a television series as part of a bigger online network came and went; the project having morphed from humorously educative to a recruitment campaign for swingers.
Two golden job opportunities presented themselves next. The first one was in writing travel brochures for a large Australian touring company. I retrieved my resume did a spot of creative panel beating and submitted it with full confidence that having excelled in this field some moons ago, I would at least score an interview. Adding to my certainty was a Travel agent friend’s personal recommendation to management on my behalf. She was one of the country’s top sellers of this company’s product and had some clout. We thought.
Several desultory emails passed back and forth between me and Aaron, the touring company’s HR manager, which, beyond ascertaining that I was actually interested in the position I’d applied for, served to glaringly illustrate how much Aaron needed a thesaurus.
A long month passed before the conversation ended. It’s entirely possible that as the airline I’d previously worked for with such historical dedication and skill had been defunct for several decades, that barely literate Aaron had made some rudimentary calculations.
She’s too damn old.
The second exciting employment prospect presented itself via a dear friend and a conference chance meeting. In the course of conversing with the co-director of a well known direct selling lingerie company, she had waxed lyrical about not only my sales ability with them but the monthly newsletters I would send out to my customer base. Funny as fuck.
As it happens there was an in-house communications position up for grabs. How fortuitous that I had an up to date curriculum vitae, specifically tailored for a potential writing gig, to whiz off immediately. I could stop shaking my clenched fists at the Universe, clearly it had happy plans for me after all.
I was interviewed on an overcast Thursday morning. Signing in, vetted by security (lest I prove to be a Victoria’s Secret undercover operative) I headed upstairs to a large hot pink open plan office. It was oestrogen central.
Eventually I was met by the marketing manager, Amy, a delightful twelve year old UK expat in loose cotton pants and sparkly sandals. We were joined by her assistant, Han, who had evidently embraced the memo about Nightclub Thursday and was suitably garbed in a sequinned micro mini and tank top. I sat across from them, uncomfortable in my subversive navy jacket and pants ensemble.
The interview lasted an hour and involved lots of promising asides between the girls. Apparently they had never had anyone apply to work in marketing who had also worked as a sales consultant with the company. Fast forward to What kind of money are you looking for?
I begged off answering this question when they avoided giving me a ball park figure and said I’d get back with a salary range in the next few days.
My response, based on consultation with several HR industry professionals, was duly forwarded.
Four days later saw Amy and Han accompanying a group of mega earners on a sales rewards trip to London via Dubai. I received an impassioned rejection email as they flew out of Sydney.
Despite my love of the brand, the product and the people and the enlightened thoughts they felt honoured to hear, they were unable to offer me the role but wished me the very best of luck finding something that I could live and breathe and that would fulfil my beautiful passion of life…
Beautiful passion, my arse!
My request for information on any impediment to employing me was met with a passive aggressive missive about my inner joy, which suggested that
- Amy doesn’t understand the word ‘impediment” or
- Han didn’t have the heart to suggest pleather leggings,a mullet top and House of Harlow accessories.
For the record, I was now feeling rejected, old and a bit of a failure…oh, and none of my jeans fit.
Spouse agreed to join me in a month long nutritional detox as recommended by Dr Ken, who, whilst stripping away my various emotional layers, was busy stripping away his own subcutaneous fat.
The President’s Pak (sic) arrived chock full of supplements, powders and bars, a blender and a host of literature featuring smiley Platinum Circle baby boomers wearing jeans and funky shirts with contrast cuffs.
We were ready to get our healthy on.
I kept a diary. This was abandoned on day sixteen when I was still feeling like wholesale crap. Spouse on the other hand enjoyed consistent blood sugar levels and a major upsurge in energy. He developed the focus of a Tibetan buddhist monk and, after losing 8kg in three weeks, the arse of Gandhi.
During this detox period I come across a tweet from Catherine Deveny advertising her upcoming Gunnas Writing Masterclass and, faint from hunger and/or caffeine withdrawal, I booked myself in.
The day dawned unpromisingly grey and I set off confident in nothing more than my inherent mediocrity. Fifteen of us filed upstairs to be greeted by Dev (actually, I haven’t been invited to use the hypocoristic, but she probably wouldn’t mind) a vibrant woman fairly crackling with unbridled enthusiasm.
Dev’s patter was fast and furious. We began by finding out about the person beside us and then took turns introducing them to the group. I chatted with young Maddy, a policy writer with the department of justice, whose mother had booked her in to the class. The effects of my first coffee in the biblical time span of 40 days, ensured that concentration during this information gathering exercise was compromised by palpitations. I thought I was having a heart attack.
I wrote as prompted and listened to the stories of creative insecurity swirling about me. Everyone felt some degree of fraudulence along the way and we all just had to get on with it. Ms Deveny’s no nonsense approach understood the self pity but didn’t for a moment buy into it.
An hour a day, four days a week for four weeks.
So I am.