Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Day (I) Went South... OR How to buy the world's most expensive bra (Part Two)

So where was I?  Oh yes, finally on the train.  (Pre-train saga here)

As I said, there were good moments.  One good moment was realising that the movie playing on the tiny screens on the ceiling was one that I had heard via audiobook earlier in the year, so I got to enjoy that.

Got to big smoke - remember this line - "I am talking printed out instructions on the THREE buses that would be required to get me from the train station to the hospital within the timeframe of WHEN THE TRAIN WAS DUE TO ARRIVE and WHEN THE APPOINTMENT WAS SET FOR.  We are talking a time gap of 65 minutes.  The three bus option would have taken forty-eight minutes - slower, admittedly, than the thirty-seven minute two bus combination that required a 758m WALK at the end of it."

I had worked out that I could sprint down the main thoroughfare, catch a bus 2 minutes after the train arrived, swap buses at a bus station 5 minutes away, swap buses a third time at another bus station and then walk 150m to get to where my specialist appointment was with 10 minutes to spare.

I had not factored in the rebuild that they were doing at the station at the other end.

Luckily a work colleague mentioned that it might be less stress to just grab a cab ('Salina's Dad and uncles were cabbies, and too many friends were in that industry for me ever to consider Uber) and, as the train station was undergoing this massive renovation, it was a good 5 minutes wandering through work zones with no signage before I found where the "courtesy bus" to the bus station (and luckily, where a cab could find me).

Another bright-side of my day was the cabbie, who had just dropped his kids at school, who had lived in the street of the hospital, who had lived in Big Smoke for 10 years and loved it and who was a very pleasant companion for the drive.  His family had been recently visited by cancer - his little sister was undergoing treatment "back home" and had lost a large percentage of her bodyweight but "praise god" looked to be recovering.  He only got to see his family every two years, when he went back to visit.  He was very fortunate to be able to help his family so much by being over here.  I can understand that.

I finally found the specialist rooms - through a multi-level carpark with lifts that had constuction zone plastic and hand-written signs as "the floors above were still being built".  Big Smoke is evidently a work in progress.

The specialist appointment was a bust.  Basically got told that they couldn't test me for anything unless I spent a fortune and here are the ways that I could spend that fortune.  Relatives who HAD been previously diagnosed with cancer could spend a lower fortune to find out, and here is how that news would impact descendents at a lower fortune again - and with a codicil of a possible fortune in insurance repercussions.  Pay the girls a small fortune on the way out.




Lose 40% of the weekly income, hand over another sizeable percentage to be told - nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  Less than expletive deleted zero...

Thoroughly deflated, I realised I had HOURS to get back to the train station to ride it home in the afternoon.  But I really wasn't up to enjoying the delights of Big Smoke. 

For a start, I had very little money on me, and Big Smoke does appreciate money.

Secondly, I was on a fast day - so no eating my feelings!

I found a bus stop to wait for the "every 10 minutes" courtesy bus to take me to a bus station.  For the first 10 minutes I waited patiently.  The next 10 perhaps less patiently.  Then I thought "this is an opportunity to contact sister-outlaw" who lives in Big Smoke but I wasn't sure I would be able to catch up with.  So I rang her.  8 minutes into our phone call, the bus came - and the driver was very pointed in how rude I was to be on the phone - unfortunately for him, I had run out of spare expletive-deleteds to give about this situation, because I considered this phone call to be therapeutic.

Big Smoke continued to give.  Twelve years ago I wrote of leafblowers - I am still of the same mindset.  The bus station had one being wielded by a master in the martial art of screwing with your serenity, and he actually managed to corral all would be commuters to the very end of the platform with his officious blowering.  He was so good at it, I think he must have been working on some sort of bonus system.

This led to me diving on the first available bus towards the city.  The bus was standing room only - and with my backpack my standing room was facing the wrong way.  I got a good view of the cement walls of the bus way and then freeway, with a framing of very dour faces all barreling into the heartless centre of Big Smoke.

Readers, it broke me.  I had to escape - the first stop that bus made was the stop that I got off, because I knew that I was very brittle and it wouldn't take much to plunge me into the pit of despair at that point.

I needed caffiene.

I needed care.

I needed kindness.

Instead, I found a public art gallery, which had a coffee shop, quiet space and a chance to just be for a while.

Once loins were girded and caffiene levels topped up, I ventured out again with A PLAN.  I had four more hours in Big Smoke and one voucher - and I was going to go into the Shopping Emporium and  REDEEM...

Thursday, May 09, 2019

The Day (I) Went South... OR How to buy the world's most expensive free bra (Part One)

Hello May.

So nice to see you.

May always seems to come upon me by surprise.  Generally by the end of April you do realise that the year is rushing by at the rate of knots, but there are so many Public Holidays and Birthdays and such to trip you up, then WHAT HO May is already a week gone by and the delayed reaction is definitely one of surprise.

There was a fleeting moment in time, months ago now it seems, that I was told I had a referral to a doctor who would possibly assist in the fore-knowledge on odds of dodging breast cancer bullets and would I travel to the Big Smoke to undertake this journey.

I thought Wow We Could Make that a Long Weekend completely ignoring the fact that funds would be required and school and work juggling would be requirements.  It was set for a Friday, which was a double-bonus because (a) it was adjacent to a weekend, and (b) my work on a Friday is of a permanent nature which means that I could still be paid for the time I would have to take out to travel to an appointment over 400km (250 miles) from where I reside.

But (erased long paragraph because) and so it was half-relief and half-curveball when I was told the appointment was going to be on a TUESDAY at a hospital off the rails (trains, that it) rather than a FRIDAY.  This was doubly-nowhere near as economically viable, because (a) Tuesday is not within spitting distance of a weekend, and (b) my Tuesday work is casual, and therefore a day away is a day without pay - and given the number of public holidays of late, a 20% hit to the income stream is another heart attack.

To add salt to wound, a girlfriend from Big Smoke sent me a message that she would be visiting ON THE MAY LONG WEEKEND.

Do you know what that means?

THAT MEANS that (a) Tuesday has suddenly become weekend's neighbour, and (b) ANOTHER freaking day without pay for the week, which means we are 40% down the tubes on the week...

And the economic benefit of going a day early with my mate back down to Big Smoke was negated, as the savings from cashing in one of my train tickets was more than wiped out by the taxi fare to get home from the station - as well as (more stuff deleted here) which means there would be no joy in me going early for most of us.

Thus, my day on Tuesday past began rather early.

I had decided, as my trip to Big Smoke were not stressful enough, to incorporate a fast day into the equation.  (I am doing 5:2.  Its not a diet, its a lifestyle change.  Don't drink the Kool Aid - unless its an NFD...)  My figuring was I didn't want to spend any more money that absolutely necessary, and history has decreed that hasty decisions made in Food Courts (and other purveyors of convenient refreshments) in Big Smoke wreaks havoc with my intestinal fortitude.

So my early Tuesday began with Black Coffee and being so darned organised I made myself proud.

I had the backpack packed with smart stuff:
  • A warm wrap that is as good as a blanket - I chose the green one, the warmest green one that rolls up pretty tight and is comfy.  I am old, I choose comfy especially when we are talking rather early autumnal mornings - I really give little fig about my fashion critics who have arisen before dawn.
  • A gorgeous little red pillow, embroidered with a butterfly, the words "Sweet Dreams are Made of These" and impregnated with hugs.
  • My folder of bits of paper pertaining to my appointment.  How freaking organised am I talking?  I am talking printed out instructions on the THREE buses that would be required to get me from the train station to the hospital within the timeframe of WHEN THE TRAIN WAS DUE TO ARRIVE and WHEN THE APPOINTMENT WAS SET FOR.  We are talking a time gap of 65 minutes.  The three bus option would have taken forty-eight minutes - slower, admittedly, than the thirty-seven minute two bus combination that required a 758m WALK at the end of it.
  • A folder with worky stuff and a few job opportunities that may be pertinent.  I had hours to kill.  I should tailor the CV in my spare time.  (See above note about stressful enough incorporation)
  • Two magazines - a lifestyle magazine and a cooking magazine.  Because what better time to read food porn than on a fast day well away from your own kitchen.
  • A book.  Not the book that I am currently reading - I am currently reading "The King's Curse" by Phillippa (either too many ls or ps) Gregory.  Fantastic, but about 20kg (44lbs) and 2 inches thick - the backpack was getting full.  And Heavy.
    No a book chosen on the merit of "its thinner than most of the others", "it isn't important enough if I decide to ditch it" and "well, its in the pile of I-haven't-got-around-to-reading-after-discovery-in-an-op-shop and so it had to happen at some point anyway" - and it delivered everything that it promised.  Disappointment.  But more on that later.
  • Wallet with emergency $50, card bought for public transport in Big Smoke, gift card given to me for my recent birthday by Queen Jeanie for a store in Big Smoke, lip gloss, emery board, tissues, tweezers (how organised?) and room for the mobile phone.
You will notice that I do not have "cord from phone charger on the chance that you need to charge your phone and there is an option on your trainseat armrest" on that list - something that I was to go on to regret.

And you will also notice that "glasses case with other pair of glasses" in there either.  That was my first clue that Tuesday was going to be one of THOSE days.

That moved my drive to town from "leisurely pre-dawn cruise to the station" to "oh darn, I hope this hasn't made me late for the train panic" mode.  The radio in the car wouldn't work properly, I had noticed that the phone had already dropped 4% just by being unplugged from the charger for 3/4 of an hour and so didn't plug in my audio book.

Thus, I ended up finding the ABC pre-dawn radio host interviewing an expert in the life and times of Julius Caesar.  That was the first glimmer of joy that was to also be a feature of my day.  Yin and Yang baby. The car that pulled up next to me also had the same radio show playing. 

"I wonder" I asked him "how many of us hopping on this train are newly learned in Roman history?"

I have learned the trick of knowing whether or not you have a good seat on the train to Big Smoke.  If it is divisible by 4 evenly.  It means a window seat.  It means on the side not pierced by sunrise - and sunrise on the train is not as beautiful as one in a location of your own -choosing.  Sunrise on the train seems always to be on a rather glary vista of fields and crops.  Divisible-by 4 seats get to look out over trees and creeks dapped with the sunlight peeking through the train.

(To be continued)

(might even be back with photos)