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December 31, 2006

On the cusp of a new year

Strong forces may be making it hard for you to act confidently today, Flip. The problem is that you are so intent on maintaining your freedom that you are refusing to yield in places where you should. Consider the other side of the equation before you become so adamant in your own point of view that you refuse to budge. At the same time, don't automatically think that just because you are running into opposition, you are necessarily wrong in your way of thinking.

С Новым годом и может следующие 12 месяца принести избыток картошек и водочки!

(There's a chance you won't be able to read my festive greeting which begins this latest missive, so just so you know it reads "Happy new year and may the next 12 months bring an excess of potatoes and vodka!" in Russian)

After successfully wasting a day and a half since arriving back in Broome, doing absolutely nothing besides watching the entire first series of "The Chaser's War on Everything" - thanks Fi! - and a couple of episodes of Frontline, I thought it was time to reflect hastily on 2006 before the gong strikes at midnight and forces yet another year into the annals of history. I was inspired by my friend Anne's attempt at the same thing, tho hers came loaded with excellent pictures and in a nifty PDF format. Mine will be the usual sad affair of text-n-screen with nothing to glamorise it, sadly. Perhaps I'll include one of our famed Broome sunsets if you're lucky.

It is worth considering what I had intended to achieve this year before I lay down the grand plans for the next. Somewhat unluckily, I actually wrote these down barely seconds after last year's gongs. They were:

Do not procrastinate. (I'll be back in a minute - I just have to organise my sock drawer, search for my best friend from year three on the 'net, cook an elaborate and complicated meal based on the Venezuelan national dish, read celebrity gossip ... FAIL!!)

Learn, and learn well: The next task for 2006 is to learn the following: French, Teeline Shorthand (to be resumed after 2005's dismal attempt), where all countries are in the world and what their capitals are (for this I will purchase a giant wall-mounted map), who the major players in politics are and why, how to build a website (and practice by getting my domain name up and running) and the role cognition has in determining pathways in life. Que? Je n'ai eu aucun temps pour apprendre le français! And shorthand? Well, let's just say that my prized 30 words per minute framed certificate is no longer on display. But I got the map ... and it's bloody brilliant but I still don't really know where Ukraine is. A semi-PASS on this one!

Be strong in body and in mind. Getting there! I had the bright idea to make myself the star of a fortnightly fitness column for "Broome Happenings" magazine in the hopes that the beady eyes of a whole town would galvanise me into action and make me shed that sticky five kilos that have persisted in hanging onto my thighs for the last couple of years. Sadly, it hasn't, but people love to ask how I'm going as a forkful of cake hovers near my cake-hole. I can be found hovering around the gym a lot more, however, scowling at the perky instructors as we leap sweatily around the room to badly remixed pop songs ... AND ACTUALLY HAVING FUN. It might not sound like much but by jiminy, it's a seismic shift for me. Stay tuned for tubular limbs in 2007.

My mind has been regularly stretched at my weekly Buddhism classes. Yes, I've been studying the Dharma in the hopes that some of that Monkish serenity will eventually filter through into my addled brain. I have been managing to squeeze in a bit of daily meditation here and there, even. PASS!

Don't get drunk. (sound of bottle clinking on the ground as Flip nods off in a stupor. Wha? Don't do WHA?) Actually, I did much better on this one than in previous years. Although of course I had a few tumbles off the wagon: notable occasions being the Broome Cup, where I had the misfortune to attract an ardent admirer who took a couple of months to shake off; New Year's Eve 2005, when I fell off my bike when trying to operate the brakes with a bottle of champagne in hand; and tonight ... just kidding! After Christmas and a week with my friends in Perth, wine has started tasting like sour grapes, frankly. I hope that it will be 2007: The Year of the Sober. PASS ... the vodka.

Remember to be happy, and be grateful to be alive.

All too often I focus on the stresses in life, which has a tendency to drag me down. This year, it's time to focus on the positives. There are many - my darling friends, my career prospects, my strong spirit, my great haircuts - the list is boundless. I honestly feel as though this year holds great promise and I am ready to see what comes my way. I am happy to keep riding the rollercoaster cause while there may be dips and lows, the highs bring an addictive rush. Aw, would you look at that. Apart from the haircuts - my freebies ran out with November's final blonde streak! - my attitude remains much the same. I reckon that 2006 was far, far better than 2005 and by rights that means 2007 should be even better. PASS!

Bloody resolutions. This year I'm not sure I'll bother, unless it's to write things such as "brush my teeth every day" and "never watch Bert's Family Feud, not even when sick". Those sorts of things are easily achievable and I'll be sure to be left feeling triumphant by February. However, I am a list-maker - I cannot help myself - so here are a few for this year. Not necessarily resolutions, but short-term goals for the next 12 months that I won't beat myself up for not achieving!! I sincerely hope to squeeze all of these things in:

Learn Shorthand - I will not be defeated!

Meditate every day - for a quiet outlook.

Be a volunteer - I've had a couple of years off and it's time to ramp up those civic contributions! I hope to go and spend a couple of months working in a developing nation doing I'm-not-sure-what-just-yet.

Keep in touch - I have become very lazy about correspondence apart from these gigantic occasional emails. My friends and relatives are very important to me and I want to make sure they feel loved and on my radar. Look forward to warm salutations and heartfelt birthday cards (if you haven't sent me your details, please do so now).

Write in my blog every day - I have been unable to do this largely because my work server decided that concrete journals was "adult content" and I have been offline at home for most of the past six months. Until I get my new website up and running I will continue to post there, but look out for a new webby presence for the Flipside in 2007!

Eat well and exercise every day - I have grown to love those endorphins and feel sorry when they're not around. Chips have no place in a healthy lifestyle - end of story.

Become a dogged newshound - Those electronic newspapers have encouraged mindless flicking instead of considered reading and I really want to become a better buff ... for scoring excellent jobs and sweeping the boards clean at pub quizzes.

Read more serious stuff and no mindless gossip (except PerezHilton.com) - see above.

Fly, Flip, Fly - I really, really, really want to go to the UK for my grandma's 80th birthday in May with all the family I barely know and never get to see. Right now I am in debt and it is but a pipedream. But all good self-determination books say "write it down, make it real, and make it happen". Or I reckon they would. Here's hoping.

Make a website - thought I might sneak that one in, but I really don't hold out much hope.

So there you have it! Now instead of keeping my meagre aims to myself I have shared them with everyone - so the next time I see you, you can casually enquire "So Flip, how's that Shorthand going? Have you mastered the upstroke on the F yet?" while I quietly gnash my teeth.

There really isn't much more to share in Broome Times this month. Broome is bloody hot and sweaty at the moment, air thick and laced with the scent of rotting mangoes and frangipanis. There seem to be millions of mosquitoes and enormous clicking bugs flying around, none of which I am allowed to murder on account of their being sentient beings ... I really am determined to give this Buddhism philosophy a crack. I find myself wondering what's been going on in the past couple of weeks and found myself reaching for a newspaper before I remembered that I make the news! It's as though the earth has stopped turning here in the north-west ... even the ABC has managed two paltry stories in the past couple of weeks. I bet the criminals have been having a field day. I am looking forward to going back to work but sort of dreading it at the same time ...my next holiday will be in April and that seems like an awfully long way off! The love of the job has not yet waned, however, despite the terrible salary, long hours and general panic involved with getting a newspaper out on time week in, week out ... but enough about work.

It really is quite unfair up here at the moment. The ocean has never looked so beautiful but is packed with all manner of beasties that would kill you as soon as look at you, so I'm terrified to even dip in a toe. The clouds hover above looking grey and heavy but hang on through the heat well beyond the point when they - and we - look about ready to implode. Hardly anyone is around, bar a few limp tourists (who were obviously given poor advice by their perky STA travel consultant) and some grumpy locals. It seems hard to believe that we're about to tick over to another year in the midst of such a strange atmosphere. Without the madding crowds it is surreal indeed.

I could waffle on forever and sincerely wish that I had something useful or poignant to sign off on my year with - but all I can think of is that I still have to unpack and that I really should do my washing so at least I start 2007 with clean underwear. So on that note: best wishes to you and your loved ones for the coming 12 months. I really have a great feeling about this coming year. Things feel transformative, a bit uncertain, a bit up in the air ... just the way I like it!