Monday, July 12, 2010

Sour puss

Sapphire and I had the best fortnight ever.

Ever. As she kissed me on the cheek and left for school this morning, I thought I'd cry. No, not the usual tears of joy a parent has when school holiday ends, but in sadness. She's my best friend and I miss her already.

Her leaving for her 'real world' was the final pip squirted from the lemon of self-indulgent pity and doubt: a state that's been building up, sleepless night after sleepless night, for the past few weeks.

Firstly, Bulldog. My evil, egotistical and hypocritical ex-boss. Yeah the one whose actions drove me to spend several days in a psychiatric ward at the end of 2008 and caused my usually-unflappable union rep to shake her head in bewilderment and say, "For someone who publicly supports the rights of others she's just a bitch, Kath, that's all." ....... won an OAM in the recent Queen's Birthday honours.

Some of my friends didn't want to tell me because Bulldog's prize didn't interest the media outside of Adelaide, but some did tell me. The former group didn't want to see me spiral down a useless path of anger and powerlessness again; and the latter all tended to add a comment like, 'They must be scraping the bottom of the barrel, eh? Who'll be next - Ivan Milat?' to show that they were still thinking of me and hadn't forgotten her.

I shrugged my shoulders and scoffed. Publicly. See, I'd moved on, I was bigger than her, more mature and she no longer had the power to--

In private, I stewed.

It felt like every single frigging week after the news, Bulldog was quoted in at least one newspaper article a week on her chosen topic of influence. I'd be reading some Sunday morning article and her name would be there and my stomach would instantly start churning and I'd shut my eyes for a moment and think of the lost salary of the past two-and-a-half years, the lost super contributions, the anguish and stress I'd caused LC, my child and my parents; the mental and physical symptoms and the long leash of the Black Dog that still finds its way back into my hands.... Where were her just desserts, the karma that I'd hoped for? Instead of a Come-Uppance the woman was earning huge money, reaping rewards, gaining publicity and was clearly on the journo's Go To Hot List of experts!

Never mind, I've got my heal----- Bugger. My right elbow has been killing me. Now even lifting a one kilogram packet of carrots from a bag to the crisper has me involuntary squeaking in pain and being dry needled by the physio is no longer a funny anecdote when I'm lying in bed at 2am holding an arm with a steady, unrelenting heartbeat of throbbing pain.

This meant that my nervous nail picking increased. It's always been a particularly bad habit of mine to constantly trim the loose cuticle skin around each nail with my teeth before wondering just why I've ended up with messy bleeding instead. Knitting is often used to keep my hands busy but the elbow pain has meant that it is not an option right now so last week I tore off the entire cuticle on my left thumb and noted, a few days later, that like my right elbow, it too was keeping me awake with a heartbeat of its own.

Squeezing the pus out of it has helped, and after my tears have cleared, I've been washing it clean and bandaging it up again. But the slightest knock or even the mere act of unbuttoning my jeans can be agony. Self inflicted, stupid agony.

Perhaps, therefore this hasn't been the best time to wean myself off the sleeping medication I've been using post-Bulldog. Hindsight's a bittersweet thing, isn't it; kind of like insisting on a diet coke to go with the supersized, lard-arsed lunch special deepfried batter burgo and chips combo. Thus, my occasional visit to the nocturnal nightmare of insomnia has become a permanent transfer. No amount of meditation, relaxation, getting up, reading, stretching, thinking happy thoughts or staying up until Danoz Direct comes on has helped.

I'll keep plugging away though, because surely just sheer exhaustion will cause my red-speckled green eyes to finally close - and stay closed - for longer than two hours at a time one day?

Finally, money. Stupid, necessary, crappy, important, horrible, essential, evil, mesmerising, inescapably envious money. We three spent the weekend with our two friends at their beach house on Philip Island. We adore them dearly and know that they've worked hard to find such a beautiful place and greatly treasure it. I don't begrudge them their little slice of paradise and loved being their guest for three days.

On Saturday night, however, we five had another thirteen people over for dinner. ALL of them owned beach houses on the island. All of them drove cars no older than three and those I saw in the drive included a BMW, Audi, Peugot, Mercedes and VW. All of them had spent time holidaying in Europe, New York, Asia or the snow and were planning on doing it again before Christmas this year.

We'd 'spent a weekend in the snow' this year too - albeit in our camping parkas and shoes as rubberneckers, leaving only when Sapphire's jeans got too wet and we'd had enough rides on our $20 'non-skier' lift passes to make it worthwhile.

It was easier to avoid joining in the conversation and instead take away the empty plates and scrape the leftovers into the kitchen bin feeling more than a tad jealous and more than barely inadequate in my K-mart clothes, 2 bedroom house and 14 year old car. "You're doing a marvellous job there," a guest said, wandering over. I smiled, she introduced herself and we started talking as she loaded the dishwasher.

"You must get your future in order and not leave it until my poor friend Jan who turned sixty last week and has only just bought her first investment property," she said over the noisy chatter. "We've got seven now - have you and LC checked out the house for sale in Ventnor?"

Yes we had, actually, in a casual drive-by coming back from the Cowes supermarket with olives, fish and bread marked down as 'Quick Sale - half price' in black texta. $400,000 seems to buy no more than a box of decaying planks sitting uncertainly atop four rusted poles with a sliver of distant sea views until four blocks in front are sold. I didn't tell her any of this, but just said, "Oh yes, we have."

I also didn't tell her that we didn't have four thousand to spend, let alone four hundred thousand; that my 'job' earned me roughly one-tenth of what I earned when working for Bulldog and the car - stained seats, floating dog hairs and permanent bird turd imprints - would be driven until it gasped its last.

Still, there was a tattslotto ticket in my purse.

As usual, the slip of paper from the newsagent came back with 'Not A Winner' on it, but I'm not so sure.


franzy said...


I agree.
I know exactly what you're talking about.

Just remember that money-poor usually equals brain wealth. Like in this instance.

R.H. said...

"Investment properties" what a laugh, they've got no brains.

You've got a good home: good man, loving daughter, that's all you need.

R.H. said...

What a life: to eat sleep and shit finance. Or what are brothels for.

River said...

Bloody Bulldog! Don't worry about her Karma, it may not come to her in this lifetime, but next time around, she may very well find herself in a similar position to the one she put you in. But unlike you, she may have no escape.

I can very easily imagine that I'd be the one taking out plates and stacking the dishwasher too, at such a dinner party.

I like what Franzy said about money-poor equalling brain wealth. In your case he's right.

Kay said...

Sorry you've been feeling a bit down Kath but glad you had a fabbo fortnight with Sapphire. Sometimes it's hard to stay focused on the positives.

And of course, I had to google the Queen's Birthday Honours List to see if I could work out who Bulldog is.....and discovered that my mother's neighbour is on the list!! I wonder if she knows??? Bet she won't be happy to hear it.....

Baino said...

Oh Kath! I do the nibbling the quick thing. You can tell my state of mind by the state of my fingers. Clare once said to me that she was going to turn into a bitch because nice guys do finish last and sometimes I believe it. The asshole who advertised my job years ago without telling me is now the Managing Director of the company. The bitch who caused me so much grief earlier in the year was fired but still received a massive payout for her contract. Life is just not fair sometimes.

Rich friends are a curse. My bestie is loaded and almost apologises everytime she goes overseas . . hey, she's earned it . . spend it . . I would. Console yourself that you have things they do not. A wonderful husband, a gorgeous daughter, a good and active life, a discerning way with chocolate and the ability to do a million things with mince!

Helen said...

In my experience people who have money tend to obsess about it.

I've also been out with students often and always found that when the bill arrives we've all overpaid and end up fighting over taking change. Going for dinner with working people (who earn more in a month than I do in a year) there's often a problem and people get asked to put in more.

Generalising I know, but it makes me really sad to see money matter so much to people. Granted it's nice to have, but I've also had more fun camping with friends in the middle of nowhere than fancy holidays and all that stuff.

As for investment properties? imagine the fun of their taxes!

Lorna Lilo said...

Yeah I know people like this, I worked for a bulldog wannabee who used to get the decorators in to do the Xmas tree. Sounds very similar to your investment crowd. TOSSERS, oh did I say that out loud? No I was just tossing the salad dear now let me clear that plate for you.

Anji said...

It's good to meet someone like me who's scrimping while those around spend and invest like there is no tomorrow; As for the bulldog, I think that Karma is just waiting for the right moment to make the biggest impact.

I also chew and pick at the skin around my nails

vanessawith3 said...

I know I've said it before but I wish I could take you to my chiropractor. I tried physio and massage prior but now I swear by chiro. I even had elbow pain this year which I had been forgetting to tell my chiro because I didn't think it was fixable. A few quick diagnostic twists and turns and he put pressure in a spot. INSTANT relief and lont term cure for a pain I had endured for over a month. Probably help with your recurrent migraines too.
I try to live by the motto not to compare my life with anyone else, it will always lead to disappointment. Lots of holiday homes on the market in WA in the past 12 months! Even in our Boom market.
Do what makes you happy Kath and that will be your best revenge. Live your life as if you have a mirror in front of you, and you are your only judge. Every day you stew over Bulldog, she wins some more.
Crap, sorry about the ranting. Your writing is amazing, let it take you where you want it to.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Poor Kath,

That Bulldog has a lot to answer for.

Also - rich friends can be a pain. I know a guy who works in Formula One and thankfully he keeps his wealth quiet - although he does mention things he buys occasionally causing the green-eyed beast to surface.





Word Verification: ingste - I'll leave that one to you :-)

nuttynoton said...

oh that conundrum, money or quality of life, I decided on the latter many years ago after wanting to hurt myself because of the stress of the job!

I now prefer to enjoy what I can and let those who have all the money live less fulfilling lives, although that green monster does raise its head sometimes!! remember quality!!

Pandora Behr said...

After what you've been through with that awful person, I'm sure the Gods of Karma has something pretty hefty to dish out to her. I know where you're coming from on so many levels.

Looking at the rest of the comments - I agree - it's quality of life over quantity of things any day - and no sleep doesn't help keeping perspective.

Would love to give you a reflex session one day to see if that has an effect.

Chin up and keep counting your many blessings. This period, like all others, will pass

Kath Lockett said...

Franzy, I'm not into tattooing phrases on my body, but if I was, I'd give very serious thought to your line:
'Money-poor usually equals brain wealth'

....would you believe I got contacted by an Adelaide radio station today, who wanted to interview ME about work/life balance so that they didn't have to contact Bulldog? Trouble was, the producer left a message on my mobile phone and I didn't hear it - or check it - until two hours after the program had ended! Damn - another score to Bulldog!

Thanks RH. You're right on both counts.

River, I can only hope she returns to this earth as a cockroach under someone's fridge, about to bite into a bait....

Kay - email me at and I might, just might, reveal Bulldog's real name

Baino I can see why Clare feels like that and I hope - and always hope - that somehow, some way, Karma will win out in the end.

Helen, your observation about how at working lunches the bill is always 'short' is eerily true. Maybe somebody's beach house has been bought by leaving the lunch early and only putting in enough to cover their entree and NOT the four drinks and garlic bread they also ate!

Lorna, that's why doing the clearing and scraping can be very therapeutic at times. Remove myself away from opportunities to say things I might regret and all that.

Anji, you, me and Baino are all finger pickers..... our worries and frustrations can be seen in the state of our cuticles!

Thank you Vanessa. I think that the chiro might be my next step.

Plasman, here's my definition of Ingste for you:
Ingste: Angst turned inwards; ie picking at your nails instead of your enemy's face.

Nutty, I'm sure that your family are utterly glad that you made the decision to earn less money for a better quality life. I guess it's receiving 'advice' from people who have wealthy parents (ie bought them their first car and apartment and share portfolio) can be very, very hard to take sometimes.

Thank you Pandora. I have no idea what a 'reflex session' is, but would be keen to try it. I assume that it *doesn't* involve reams of cheap photocopy paper?

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Jackie said...

Sadly I am also a finger picker, mainly my thumbs...

Forget about Bulldog. I am a great believer in "everything that goes around comes around" and one day she will get pay back.

My very small investment property (certainly not $400,000!)has not increased in value in 6 years and nor has the tenants rental. On the up side though is I would never have received the same amount monthly if I had invested my cash in anything else, what with interest rates having dropped so much during the recession.

冠廷 said...


Anonymous said...

Hey Kath -- I really appreciate your candor and great sense of humor. The gift of laughing at ourselves even in the midst of the pain is worth more than a dozen investment properties!

I always enjoy your blog and love the way you write.

Hang in there from a fellow cuticle biter,

JahTeh said...

We bought our house with a lot of luck and not much furniture that I hadn't painted and covered. Always had a lay-by at Target for sheets and kids clothes so I had a great laugh at upwardly mobile neighbour who was the first in the street to have Sheriden sheets and doona cover. You see they were so expensive she could only afford one of each so they were washed at 5 in the morning to be put back on the bed at night. I still smile at that.
I don't bite my nails but thanks to you my compulsive comsumption of chocolate is out of control. Lindt white with almonds and it's payday tomorrow.
Wv is cracc, wot the bulldog will fall down in one day and not stop til she reaches hell.

Lidian said...

I can so relate to this! We live in a teeny tiny house (4 of us plus 2 cats) and our vacations this year consist of visiting with difficult-ish elderly relatives and all I want to (need to!) do is go walk on my favorite beach in N Ontario, the one that is my favorite place in the world, but...not gonna happen, not this year. And I struggle with guilt that I am not bringing in lots of dough (or any) but struggle along as a writer.

I agree with all above comments re money not everything etc etc. Which doesn't stop me from getting crabby/guilty. But am trying not to.

xx L

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks LJP - counting your (my) blessings does help; sometimes I just need reminding.

Jackie I don't begrudge you your property; it's just that it can be hard to listen to 'advice' from people whose parents bought them a brand new car, apartment and share portfolio as soon as they graduated....

Thank you Octobia :)

JahTeh there's something to be said about cheap, 'no threadcount' sheets isn't there? We've got at least two sets so that we don't have to nervously wash and pray that they'll be dry enough to go back on the mattress before nigh-nighs

Lidian - the guilt is the killer, isn't it and the crabbiness/envy soon follows. Still, maybe sometimes we need to feel like that in order to take a breath, have a really good look at what we *do* have and then realise that the rich buggers we're jealous of aren't all they're cracked up to be? Nah, scratch that - that we hope that one day those winning lottery numbers will be in our hot, clammy hands!

ashleigh said...

I'm with RH on the investment properties thing.

Property in Australia is so far overvalued that when the crunch comes (and come it will) its going to be seriously ugly. The crunch will come because there is a golden rule of investments and markets, which is "every boom will bust". And housing is in a boom. Housing is now costing about 8 to 10 times average yearly earnings, and it should be about 5 times. Reversion to the mean is another term... it always happens, its just a matter of when.

Concentrate on doing things you like, not on what others think is right. Geez... 7 investment properties... I cringe at the very thought.