Cranky pants

Look, just a little bit cranky. I’m tired and my head is reeling after a rather long day teaching (9 students each for an hour); then my boss wants me to teach students from 8:20 in the morning from next week. Voices just aren’t good at that time. Nor am I when I teach until 7. So I’ve got to rethink my teaching days. Not really very happy, Jan. 

(Not happy, Jan, is from a long ago ad about advertising in the yellow pages. Now obsolete given we have Internet and twits. Therefore saturation coverage. The catch phrase is from a woman as she sticks her head out the window to yell at her employee for forgetting to place the ad in the yellow pages: “not happy, Jan!”. My favourite comment. Along with other wonderful Australian gems: “straight to the poolroom”; “you’re terrible, Muriel”, and “tell him he’s dreaming”.)

Time for bed and grumpy heads.

D Day is here (nearly)!

Today I received 2 emails. The first, received at 7:45 this morning, exhorted me with some urgency to upload my 100 word abstract and ensure the thesis title was correct. This I did. And I did indeed have to correct the title, even though I had entered it correctly the first time round last Friday.

The second email I received this afternoon. It congratulated me on meeting all the requirements for my degree. I got a pdf of the official letter which says I meet all requirements. But now I have to wait until my degree is conferred by the Provost. With any luck the Provost is around and can sign todayish. The Provost has to sign within 10 days of me receiving this letter. Because triplicate ain’t quite enough for this black duck.

However, on Monday 23 February, 2015, I met all degree requirements. I am, nearly officially, a Doctor of Philosophy.


It should be winter. But it’s not.

Oh, God I feel ill. Not seriously ill. I’m not feverish. Particularly. But the mild cold I’ve been fighting has morphed into a full-blown head cold with sneezing, snotting, coughing, hacking and spluttering symptoms. I have a stuffy and itchy nose, eyes are scritchy, and I’ve not yet had a shower because tonight we have to go to the theatre and I have preparations to do and may as well do them all at once. So I feel thoroughly grotty and yuck.

After a shitty night not sleeping well I then slept until 10:30. Woke up when the dog barked at me to let her out. She pooped inside anyway because she didn’t want to go out in the rain. Serious rain, not mild rainy rain. Subtropical rain storms. Flooding.

We’re on the edge of a cyclonic cell and while we missed the wind we got all the rain. So on a day when it’s usually 28 degrees Celsius, sunny and humid, it’s 22 degrees, miserable and humid. It’s a day designed for lying about in one’s pyjamas, in ugg boots, rugged up in blankets. Except it’s still too hot for ugg boots and blankets.

So here I am, lying about on the couch with a cold and a slight headache, in my Jim jams. All about me are discarded tissues, ginger tea bags, leftovers from lunch, tv remote control and DH has gone out to find me soup. Chicken soup. Bless him. Tv watching has been terrible and I am terribly bored. But this is a designated doona day and it’s a perfect day to feel sick and miserable.

I’m about to give in and take some cold and flu tablets. Then we’re going to the theatre. Post function after. DH and I have a shorthand for these: I just ask him pre- or post? Sometimes it’s both. Gah. Not tonight, though.

Bad sporty spice.

I’m referring to me, not the actual sporty spice girl. It has been a rotten week for my weight loss and health regime. Occasionally I get mildly ill with a small cold and I’ve worked out it’s much better if I just stay home and don’t do very much. So I did this. I managed to get through my teaching days this week but geez Louise it has been hard to maintain the rage when feeling under the weather.

I’ve not been to the gym since Saturday last week. I feel weak and schlumpy. On the plus side, I’ve lost 1.5 kilos since I started my regime. Clothes are fitting just that little bit better.

Despite my poor health I’ve religiously maintained my healthy eating habits, eating slightly under 1500 calories (6280 kj) per day. It’s getting easier to remember to bring an apple or nuts to work, or a low-sugar muesli bar. And I’ve only one week to go to the end of Feb Fast. Faint Huzzah me.

I’m looking forward to punching that boxing bag again. And swimming. And dropping those kilos off my person. Here’s a positive thought image for the day, which if bloody WordPress worked properly would sit UNDER my writing where I have tried many times to place it, not OVER it.

You Can Do It



D Day awaits

Oh. My. God. The waiting. I received an email this morning telling me that once I had followed a series of complicated instructions to the LETTER I would be conferred in my degree. They were very pleased.

For the third time, I have uploaded my FINAL thesis copy to the university’s espace. I have resubmitted my 800 word abstract, my keywords, my FoR code. (190499 for those of you interested). Three times.

Apparently this is normal. Now I await the email confirming I have done this and instructing me on the next bit. Then I have to upload a 100 word abstract and confirm the title is correct.

After all confirmations have been received, I can call myself Doctor. Some time today. ūüėÉ

Then someone will send me another email telling me my award has been conferred. Then someone will send me a print version of my certificate I think. Then I will be able to get print copies organised. I think. Who knows?


A job in the musical theatre department where I work has come up. It’s a lecturer/ senior lecturer position. For an MD/ D/ choreographer who can do other stuff. And who has a doctorate. I’m not an expert in music directing, directing or choreography. I’m gutted. This job is specifically designed to exclude my skills in singing and coaching. All of the other stuff I could do standing on my head. But I’ve never directed a musical or been a musical director for a musical. This job has been designed NOT for me. A kick in the face to all the work I’ve put in over the last 5 years. I may as well give up now.

*the following day:

I just read an ad for a singing lecturer down south, in Victoria, full time, continuing, in musical theatre. Very unusual gig to come up. Made for me but I’m even more qualified than they are asking for. Maybe there is hope after all. Swings and roundabouts, hey?

Bought gym stuff.

Back on the diet and exercise treadmill, so as a pre gift to my hard work and perseverance I bought a bunch of new gym gear. I needed to. DH reported my clothes didn’t lose their smell after washing. Ugh. Plus my clothes were old and ugly. Normally I don’t care about my gym clothes because, well, sweat. But now gym clothes are sexy and considered “day wear”. So I made the extremely difficult decision to drop a few hundred bucks on some brand new gym wear. One brand is breathtakingly expensive but I bought lots of their stuff because it looks nice and is an Australian brand. Then I went to Target and bought 2 tops there that looked identical for one third the cost. Then I went to Adidas and bought a gym bag. And then I put all my new clothes in the gym bag. And then I packed mini toiletries in the gym bag because I’m slightly ocd. And now I feel like a proper sporty bitch because I HAVE THE GEAR. Now to lose another 9 kilos.

And the weight loss treadmill begins! (again)

Yep, you heard it. In the week since my last weigh in I’ve lost 800 grams. I COULD call this a kilo but then I couldn’t include the breakfast I’ve not yet eaten. So my diet and health kick is working well. And for those who actually care about what I do, here it is in sordid detail.

In October 2012 I had had enough. After a trip to Greece in June that year my weight ballooned out to the mid 70s and I was looking and feeling like a little old middle-aged lady. It was not pretty. I felt old and tired and unattractive. Something snapped, and I made decisions. I went on a year-long health jag. Throughout this time I joined a small PT club. I worked with a personal trainer once a week, went to three exercise classes a week (boxing, HIIT), swam a lot, did some yoga, went on a diet (high protein, low sugar and low GI carbs), and lost all the weight and more that I had put on during my marriage. I was strong, fit, healthy and slim. I felt fantastic and easily fit into size 8 clothes. I think my lowest weight at this time was about 61kgs РI have no idea because I stopped weighing myself.

After Xmas 2013 I eased off a little. Maybe a little too much. I noticed I couldn’t fit into my litmus test pants: a pair of size 8 red jeans. Never mind, I thought, I’ll just go to some more classes. I got more and more laid back about my diet, my exercise and my health regime. I had a PhD to finish, y’all! I got busy at work. I dropped my PT now as it was too expensive to keep up now that I wasn’t going to so many classes. I joined a different gym. Ever so gently, my clothes sizes moved up a notch. From size 8 to size 9, then size 10. Now I was eyeing off size 11 clothes and then, in October last year, I bought a size 12 dress. Dang it. But I was enjoying wine and the good life too much to spend much time at the gym.

Then I bought some easy wear pants and they were a size 10. Cool. I was still ok. And then Xmas 2014. Oh dear. Whoopsy-doo. All that lost weight began to creep on around my waist. Buttons began to pop. Tops began to look frumpy again.

So I made a decision to refocus my energies into getting that spare tyre removed, getting fit and healthy again, and not eating and drinking quite so exuberantly. I have a 10kg weight loss goal. Really, I just want to fit into my old size 8 clothes again.

This is what I’ve done.

A week ago I joined my gym’s latest “8 week body transformation”. Perfect timing. It gets me 8 PT sessions, a dedicated work out class, weigh-in and measurements, a food diary thingy and an end-of-the 8 week weigh-in and measurement. I have some spare time at the moment, so I’m trying to get to the gym at least 4 times a week. Mondays: Boxing class OR something in the AM such as Zumba plus a swim. Tuesday: PT. Wednesday is a day off. Thursday is the dedicated fitness class, a bit HIIT, with body weight exercises and running. Horrible but healthy. I don’t mind doing Burpees or Mountain Climbers or high knees, but I often feel faint during the class because I have low BP. Friday I took off but there IS a boxing class in the morning followed by yoga. Should go. Haven’t yet. Saturday could be a long one if I let it: HIIT at 8.30, Yoga at 10, plus a swim. Sunday Core X and swim.

That’s enough exercise to keep me busy and engaged, and plenty of exercise options. Although no dance. Result: I’m not as UNFIT as I thought I would be and my fitness level has gone back up quite quickly. Phew.

I also have an account with MyFitnessPal. This free app and account (I know, awesome, hey?!) is a log of all my activities and will also sync with my Apple Health, plus about 30 other health measure apps such as Fitbit (which has a terrible app, don’t use it). MyFitnessPal also allows me to connect with other members, it has an enormous food database, and logs¬†my favourite foods too. I can log my exercise, food, calorie or KJ intake, weight loss and other things. It’s a near perfect app for me. So I calorie count and limit my food intake to 1500 calories per day. This is enough to lose weight when I add up all the exercise I do but it’s not enough to starve me. I’ve stopped drinking alcohol for FebFast and I’ve never really drunk sweet drinks. I’ve cut down on crap food too. And NO dessert any more (sadness).

So, there it is. A three pronged approach.¬†Goal-setting group fitness classes plus PT, a calorie-counting diet, and an app that records my stuff and connects me to a wider community. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again. Although I have to admit something. It is just as hard to maintain a healthy weight as it is to lose it. I hate feeling sore all the time and I hate not being able to eat Tim Tams. So that’s why I let my health drop a bit.

I have done this before, I will do this again.

Goals for 2015

Thinking about how to plan the remainder of the year was brought into sharp focus recently¬†when I was asked by my supervisor “what now?” and I had no real response. I felt like a recently beached (but enormous) goldfish. All lips, surprised expression and air-gulping. So as a result this blog post is a bit of a goal-seeking exercise. It’s also a listicle. To be divided between family and friends, home, physical health goals, personal achievements, and career. Something for me to read back on and laugh hollowly about at its¬†complete lack of completion in 2016. These ideas and lists are not New Year’s Resolutions. They can’t be: it’s February already.

Family and friends

Stay connected to and communicate more with my immediate family, my children and my friends. Call them regularly. Have dinner parties. That sort of thing. On a side note, I am currently at home spending time with DH who is doing both the laundry and the lawn while I try to pay the bills. Bless him. I hope it makes his grumpy pants less so.

Plan weekend activities that do NOT involve going to my workplace to watch yet another undergraduate production.


Plan and make happen the first renovation plans and build. This year. Oh GOD YES. SO overdue. Anyhoo, we’ve said YES to an architectural designer and his¬†fees look completely reasonable as it’s by the hour, and we’re doing the whole lot at once to save time later down the track. Also, to have an integrated reno plan seems, well, sensible. It will mean less money for the first bit though.

Upgrade the family bathroom, replace all the old plumbing, replace the electricity and circuit board and upgrade some of the lighting and electrical points. Yes, this is to make the house safe. The previous owner was an electrician so it’s not actually too bad but there are some tricky moments. Perhaps also plan some hard landscaping to deal with the usual run off under the house whenever there’s a big rain. (*in QLD a big rain means the heavens have opened and raindrops the size of your head come rushing down like the heaviest, most violent shower you have ever had in your life. It’s actually scary to be caught IN THE RAIN. There might be other things lurking in them there clouds. Like cricket-ball sized HAILSTONES that – I kid you not – break cars. Luckily one can usually tell when there’s going to be hail because the sky turns GREEN. When the sky is purple you just hope to high heaven there’s not a cyclone as well.)

Paint the kitchen and the second coat of paint on the fence. Perhaps build us a proper wardrobe? I’m sick of cockroaches making nests in my coats. ¬†OMG you shriek. Yes, they really seem to love living the life of Reilly in¬†one of my old coats. It’s a bit ugh.

Physical Health goals

Lose the 10kgs I gained over 2014 (luckily not the 15 kgs I had previously lost because I didn’t quite get there yet). Again.

Get me to the gym four times a week PLUS my PT sessions. Weirdly, this is not as hard as it sounds at the moment – I’ll see how I feel in a month when my uni teaching load resumes. Down side to all this exercising is I’ve run out of exercise clothes – at least, they are all so old and skanky that I’m actually embarrassed to be wearing them now, and it’s nearly impossible to lose the old gym sock smell. Time for an update to some sexy new designer threads, maybe some Lorna Jane exxie stuff. So I can sweat in style.

Maintain a careful diet regime and perhaps buy a set of scales so I can weigh myself weekly. Get a fitbit or Apple Watch for health measurement (I can feel a birthday gift coming on!). Yes, well, I may not go the whole hog with the scales, because ouch, but I am doing well with the diet mostly. Sure, it’s only a week, but my stomach has stopped eating itself.

Reduce suspect drinking behaviours at functions. Ok, ok, stop drinking 5 glasses of champagne at every function. The worst part of this drinking thing is at my best I can drink substantial amounts of booze and it only marginally registers. Even my non-drinking DH thinks so. At an event last year we noticed a number of people getting really hammered, yet, it must be said, I kind of kept up. 2 Mojitos and about 3 glasses of Champagne and I was still basically normal, while these good folk were slurring words and stumbling. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have drunk much more than me – the function was only 3 hours long!

So, sadly, drink less. It has to be said, September through January was a real lush-fest. I drank my way through an indecent amount of Pinot Noir and Champagne (yes, the real stuff), and it has shown on my hips. Gah. I hate to think what my liver looks like. I’m hoping the FebFast thing I’m doing will make up for the other months: Medicinal-brandy March, Alcoholic April, Mojito May, Jello Shots June, Jaundiced July and Appletini August. Never mind about Sloshed September, Out-of-it October and Nobbled November. Plus I think Drinky-poos December will be a bit of a disaster.

Personal goals

Right, now these goals pertain to my need to do something now that the PhD is OVAH. And by OVAH I mean most of the box-ticking has been done bar the last little one. 2 weeks, people!

Perform more. That’s a big tick because I’m actually doing this. I sang at a gig last night although as I’d not sung for 3 months it was a laughable horrible mess. I’m happy though with my first song which was an ethereal little meditation. And I loved the dress I wore, which is the most successful dress I’ve ever bought to date. It’s an Anthea Crawford LBD, and it gives me the most amazing looking figure as it’s full of lycra and hugs just so, but also has structure and some clever ruching around the midriff. I feel a million bucks when I’m wearing it, even at my slightly heavier side of happy.

Other goals include writing a novel (complete first draft in November during NaNoWriMo) and creating a cabaret. For the first idea I’m thinking either stories about transgender communities and people, or a young adult novel with the unreliable narrator theme. And for the second idea I’ve already got some old songs written but I need to find my mojo for this. I’m not a great pianist so it takes me longer than other musicians to formulate song feel and chord patterns.¬†However, I DO have good pianist friends to make life a bit easier. They can do the feel thing. Once again, cabaret is best done about one’s life, so I’ve a bunch of songs about transitions ready to go, and some regular funny songs (probs not that funny, because I am far too serious and lack a sense of humour about myself. It’s being the eldest in the family. The clown is usually a younger child.)

Career goals

This one’s the doozy. What do I really want to do with my life? Do I want to be a kick-arse singing teacher and have on my gravestone: she came, she saw, she taught? Or do I want to expand my repertoire of skills and develop other things?

Oh, there’s no doubt I want to develop other things!

One of those things is to develop my PhD into a book. I already have my preferred publisher in sight, and I will need to expand on my work with a few more stories about singers etc. I think my book will be good and I know how to write for a less arcane audience.

Another thing I’d like to do is apply for a Churchill Fellowship. This fellowship (apart from looking good on the CV) is a great way to foster OS networks and develop further skills in my domain. I’ve been threatening to do this for years, maybe 2015 is the year.

Then¬†DH put me onto the Australia Arts Council website for grants and applications for Arts professionals. There are any number of development grants I could be going for including skills development; conference and workshop attendance; mentorship and other things. Very exciting and I’ll need to chat with some other folk about how to¬†write a successful grant application to the AC. I have some great ideas I want to put into action. So this last thing is a way to develop my business further, and enable me to actually pay staff and me too. Wowsers.

So, I’m feeling rather more positive than I did four months ago after my PhD submission, when I fell apart and felt miserable and sad because I hadn’t a job to go to. There are things I can do in the meantime. Maybe a DECRA? Or a Post-Doc.

So, that’s it for now. I’b better get me to the gym for a yoga session so I don’t feel guilty about missing the HIIT session at 8.30…