Friday, November 30, 2007

The fine line between pleasure and pain



Today I had a day off from my placement at the hospital, because I am rostered on for duty on Sunday. If anyone asks me what I did on my day off, I'm not sure exactly how truthful to be.

The first errand on my list for this morning (and it was errmmm late morning by the time I got out of the house :-) was to get my legs waxed. I was aiming to get a full leg wax, but because the beautician at my local pharmacy was pressed for time, I had to settle for a half leg wax (ie from the knees down), or else come back later in the afternoon for the full leg, which I didn't really want to do.

As I was lying on the beautician's couch, chatting away to her as she violently ripped all the hairs on my legs out of their places, it occurred to me that there was something kind of enjoyable about the kind of pain I experienced as she did that.

Maybe I really am becoming a masochist, or maybe I just have a macabre sense of .. umm.. something... because I really find it fascinating to feel the sensation of the hairs coming out, roots and all ... and then looking at the evidence of their removal on the wax strip.

There's a similar sense of satisfaction in the feeling as I pluck my eyebrows, and feel (and see) the individual hairs come out of their sockets. I also get the same fascination from those blackhead removal strips that you put across your nose, and leave until it dries, and then rip it off, pulling with it the gunge from the pores on the nose... I just love looking at the debris that comes away on that strip after it's been removed.

Mind you, as the hair came away from the backs of my knees (one of the more sensitive spots), I was kind of relieved that my beautician didn't have time to do my whole legs, as my legs seem to get more sensitive (and hairier) higher up my thighs, and I don't know that I would have enjoyed the feeling of all of that hair being ripped out today.

So maybe I'm only slightly masochistic... I guess we all have to have limits.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

In celebration of election day

Today is election day for Australia. Here in Melbourne, a group of choristers (including some folk I know) were part of an impromptu choir led by Stephen Taberner, instructing folk how to vote today.

View the video of their efforts on YouTube here.

I'm off now, to take their advice :-)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Baptism of fire

This week I started a placement as a Pastoral Care Intern at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (as part of a Clinical Pastoral Education unit and field education placement for my training).

The Pastoral Care Dept at Peter Mac has a 24 hour pastoral care service, which means there is always at least one pastoral carer physically present at the hospital between 8am and 8pm weekdays, and 8am-1pm weekends, and someone on call at other times. Today (only 4 days into the unit) was my first turn on evening shift/on call, and boy, was it a doozy!

First up, as I was starting my rounds of the wards just after 5pm, an emergency code was called on one of the wards, so I needed to attend that to provide pastoral support to the family of the patient involved (and other patients in that room who were distressed by the emergency). Apparently the hospital normally has 3 or 4 of these codes in an average week, so I guess I was 'lucky' that one happened when I was on my first night shift.

After the emergency passed, and I was satisfied it was ok to leave the ward, I continued on my rounds (after a quick break for a strong coffee back in the department). By the time I finished my rounds, wrote up reports on the work I had done, it was after 9:30 when I headed home.

I just had enough time to heat up some leftover food for a late dinner, and kick my shoes off in front of the TV, before my phone rang. It was the hospital calling me back, as the patient from the earlier emergency had passed away, and the ward staff asked for me to come in to provide some support to the extended family who were now saying their final farewells to their loved one.

I stayed with the family until they were all ready to leave, and the funeral directors arrived to take the deceased into their care. It was 11:30 when I got to leave for home again.

I am now about to go to bed, with my pager and mobile on my bedside table, both set to their loudest and most piercing ring tones, so that if they go off whilst I'm asleep, I'll hear them and wake up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Compass program lacks direction

Last Sunday, there was a program on Compass about the Uniting Church, promoted with the question "How united is the Uniting Church?" I have to say I found it a rather bland and flaccid disappointment.

I don't know whose agenda was being pushed here, but I thought that they did a bit of a "Richard Dawkins" on the UCA by focussing on the minority extremes of the Progressive Christian network (and the Rev Rex Hunt in the ACT) and the so-called Assembly of Confessing Congregations (and one of their main spokespersons, Max Champion) (together, these two groups would make up less than 10% of the whole membership of the UCA), rather than the majority that fall somewhere between those two positions. At the end of the program I thought “oh, is that IT?! where is the content?”

One of the things that I love about the Uniting Church is that there is a place in it for people with different views and theologies. There is a place for the Rex Hunts and the Max Champions, and everyone else in between. There is no call for strict conformity, or to check one's individuality or brain at the door of the church. I think the people who made this program completely missed the point by suggesting that the diversity within the UCA equals disunity. Sure, there are conflicts, and some issues that as a church we have not been able to agree upon, but like any family, we are trying to find a way to get on.

Darren Wright, a UCA youthworker in NSW/ACT has written a more detailed response to the program on his blog, here, which I think covers a lot of the issues that I would want to raise. It's worth a look.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wake up call

I'm now officially "back" in Melbourne, after spending the last 3-4 weeks in Sydney with my mother. (I do have one brief trip to Tas next week, but after that, I'm seriously back, and jumping into my summer CPE placement).

One of the things about the flat where I live is that although I don't have any flatmates per se, I do not live here alone. There is a great variety of six-to-eight-legged creatures who freeload off me by living here without paying any rent. Some strategic applications of Baygon seem to have taken care of the cockroaches that had a tendency to jump out of cupboards at me when I least expected it, but I seem to be fighting a constant battle with spiders.

Every nook and cranny of this place seems to be a target for spiders' webs, and whilst most of these seem to be created by small and very innocuous daddy longlegs spiders, I do, on occasion meet some of their larger cousins around the place. And of course, the fact that I have been away for the most part of a month has given the arachnids free reign to take over the joint in my absence.

I have noticed various webs around the place (and I'm sure that when my dear friends did a "loungeroom blitz" a fortnight ago to tidy up the place for my brief return, they must have dispatched quite a few webs), but this morning I received a startling wake up call.

As I staggered, half asleep, into the bathroom to have a shower, a HUGE huntsman came scurrying out from behind my towel, and sat, looking at me, on the door frame.

I yelled.

Not because I'm terribly afraid of spiders, but more because having one come running out of my towel at me was a bit of a shock.

Needless to say, I was 100% awake by this time (and that the spider didn't last very long on the door frame. If there is an arachnid afterlife, he will now be experiencing that). I also closely inspected every wall, corner, nook and cranny of the bathroom before I got into the shower, and gave my towel a mighty shake and close inspection before using it (just in case the huntsman had a friend or two having a party in there).

For the next week or so, I think I will be a little hypervigilant when it comes to looking for 8-legged critters around the place... and it's probably time to buy a new can of Baygon... just in case.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Good intentions

They say the road to Hell is paved with them, and I'm beginning to see why...

When I made my lightning trip home to Melbourne just over a week ago, I returned with my laptop and a suitcase full of theology books, class notes and good intentions to write lots of essays in between dealing with the stuff of settling Dad's estate here in Sydney.

Well, it's now 3 days till my return to Melbourne, and I have to confess that I haven't done anywhere near as much work as I had planned. Most of the books have remained in their piles on the dining room table, unopened; and I think I've written a couple of hundred words towards one essay, but nothing more.


The last couple of days have felt like a second wave of grief rolling over me - just when I thought things were starting to get back to resembling 'normal' and the main tasks of getting things organised for Mum are done, I have been hit by new waves of sleeplessness, tears and general agitation (but no desire or ability to settle and read or write serious theology).

I hope I get my brain back soon...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Men are from Mars... ? Women are from... ?

Sometimes it feels that way...

I was reflecting today on the amount of stuff I have shared with people about my reaction to my father's recent death, both through this blog, and via emails. Is it all overkill? Do all of my friends really want to know the minutiae of how I'm coming to terms with the emotional aspects of my loss, or the practicalities of managing the other aspects of my life that have taken a back seat to the grief of this time, or even how complex it's been helping my mother to settle Dad's estate here in Sydney?

This made me think of a conversation I recently had with a female friend, who has been going through some difficult experiences in her own life. She told me how her reaction has been so different to that of her husband's in response to the same experiences that have affected them both. It's probably no surprise to hear that for her, she felt the need to confide in one or two of her closest girlfriends, to talk through some of the stuff and her feelings about what was happening, but her husband not only didn't want to share anything about the situation with others, but couldn't understand why she would want to do that, and how it could possibly be helpful for her to do so.

Perhaps it is true that men and women come from completely different planets when it comes to emotional things, or dealing with internal and deep matters... (or even some things that are not so deep).

I remember earlier this year, I had a conversation with a close male friend who was about to head overseas for a number of weeks. Conscious that I would miss him during his absence, I sought reassurance that he would keep in touch whilst away. He said that he would "probably send the occasional email", and then suddenly got all tense and said, "you're not expecting me to send postcards, or detailed email circulars of everything I do, are you?"

My response: "umm... err... I guess not" (as I shifted nervously, thinking that he was making a thinly veiled reference to my own regular email tomes, once again making me question whether people really want to read everything I write in my emails and blogs).

I reached the conclusion that perhaps it was just the male/female divide, flavoured a bit by the variety of individual personality.

And of course, the great exception to this male female divide is my good mate BB, who is far more prolific a blogger than I (well, he seems to write longer, and deeper blog entries than my bits of fluff :-)

(One final word on the Men from Mars, Women from Venus thing- I have never read that particular book, but I do have a book written as a parody of it, called Women are from Bras and Men are from Penis. Hilariously funny, and much thinner than the original :-)