Dear retired Passport…..

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We had some fun didn’t we? 10 years have passed since you landed through my letterbox. I took you out of your envelope and cradled you with love and affection. I marvelled at your empty pages and the swirl print that decorated each page. You did well, I’m proud to say. You fought the elements and the random spillages (we both remember that custom officer saying that you smelt bad from a recent coffee wash) and were forever faithful when we boarded another plane or when your pages were fondled by yet another customs officer. I heard of other owner’s who’s passports strayed. Badly behaved one’s that chose the day of traveling to play hide and seek. You never tortured me like that.

We filled your first page with a visa for America and you took your first trip in your stride. You were proud and clean, ready to take on the world, full of naïve optimism. We set off to China and weathered the bleak cold and blistering winter winds. That was the time you were taken from me and held hostage, but I fought for you of course and as soon as we were reunited we ran for it, back home to safety. You slept in a drawer full of broken dreams before deciding that indeed you felt bare and naked with your empty pages and wanted a few more decorative pieces. I am not one to mess with dreams so we filled you up with multiple stamps from Australia, a visa for Laos, a visa for Thailand, another for Vietnam. A stamp here and a stamp there, like Kisses. I showed you off by taking pictures, showing your latest and greatest decorative piece. Yes, we did have some good times you and I.

It pains me that you are retiring. Don’t take the trim off the edge of your front cover from that frightful passport renewal officer to heart. You took on more than most passports I can assure you and just because there will be someone newer and fresher taking your place does not mean you were not loved. Yes the new passport may have more pages and a fancy chip but it has nowhere near the experience you have. It is a newbie, a real young’un compared to you. I can only hope that it continues your legacy and takes on the world as you have. May you be a lesson to the new passport and others (particularly my parents passports as they have never been anywhere). You have set the bar high and I know in years to come you will indeed come out for those occasions where any future children and hopefully grandchildren will look at you in wonder and delight at all the places you have been, touching your colourful pages with all their beauty.

Yes, take this time to relax with the various other retired documents. Reflect on the good times and all that you have achieved as you will always be my first real passport. The one that took on the challenges, faced the fear and did it anyway.

28 – The year my skinny genes went AWOL

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Slipping on my stretchy black leggings that have become my entire wardrobe, I poke the belly fat that has decided to pour itself over the elastic. As much as a prod, poke and grab, it continues to hang, spitefully. My body and I are again at war.

I read an article many years ago where a woman wrote that her body went against her when she turned 28. It seemed quite unbelievable to my then 21-year-old mind that her body decided that was the year to wreak havoc. Not 38,48 or 58. Just 28. My dad warned me of such things too. Laying on the sofa, stretched out in a permanent plank position with the mother of all bellies, he would retell his tale of youth. A time where he drank men under the table, ate 8 meals a day, snacked non stop and never put on a pound. In fact his tall skinny frame was the stuff of legends. Until he reached his late 20’s where it all went wrong. “Mark my words” he would say, taking a giant gulp from a can of larger “you wont stay slim forever”.

Unlike my father it did take some work to remain relatively slim, although not a lot. I could knock off a few calories from my daily allowance and the pounds would fall off. A few inches on the thighs could be trimmed down with an hour here or there on the treadmill. All in all it was a fairly easy job. Until now.

For some reason unknown to me, my body has firmly decided that it will not continue to work with me or even cooperate on a friendly basis when it comes to losing inches. Miss a meal and it merely sniggers into its belly pouch. Pounding the treadmill or the dreaded cross trainer and the fat continues to hold onto my thighs like a long-lost love. I’m trying desperately to break up the fat party gathering on my hips but my words of criticism to the point of bullying are no longer being heard. Needless to say I am furious. Part of me wants to ‘just let go’ and leave my body to do its natural thing but then again that might be all the encouragement it needs to turn my arse into buffalo size. The strange thing is, when I look at other women I usually appreciate a woman with curves and have always thought that if I were a man, my eyes would be firmly planted on Kim kardashian’s arse, no matter that she leaves me rolling my eyes with her antics. For my self though, I like the lightness that comes with laying off the buttered bread roles and chocolate pudding.

My journey to fatness came when I decided to join the gym whilst I working in the corporate jungle. I would feel smug when I planted my butt in my desk chair after pounding the treadmill for 45 minutes in my lunch hour. Co-workers would look in wonder when I’d come back looking like I had put my head in a preheated oven, all red and sweaty. ‘My, I wish I had your commitment’. They would say. So that is what I did during my lunch hour or after work, even going as far as cycling home in the blistering cold. Yes, I worked hard…Only to get fatter. You may think I was eating more but it wasn’t the case. I researched weight gain from gyming it, and was furious to discover that pounding treadmills and general cardio exercise could be a breeding ground for fat molecules to get all pissy and start holding on for dear life, due to the dreaded stress hormone released whilst exercising. To fight the war, as there was no way I was being defeated without a fight, I decided that Body Combat was the way forward. A good combination of weights and sweat. What I didn’t take into account is that my thighs need no encouragement into getting bigger. So while I was doing those squats and proudly adding more weight to the bar, my thighs were packing on the pounds, deciding to take on the world with the aim of domination.

Needless to say all that thigh fat is a bitch to get rid of. Pleading, crying, anger, physical abuse and gentle words of encouragement are ignored. My soft flesh meanly hangs, with no signs of moving on no matter how many eviction notices I slap on. One year was all it took for my body to give me the finger and declare that it would no longer be putting up with over exercise, false promises of food and sugar-free goop. It finally took a stand and said no more, much to my dismay. Now my mind and body just scream at each other to the point of defeat. This usually happens when I plan to leave the house, trying on multiple outfits, huffing and puffing in the mirror before settling on the first outfit I tried on in the first place. Maybe I should start smothering my fat with love….It may get all rebellious and decide to leave like a teenager seeking independence. We shall see.

The smiling stage

Thailand visa has now been ticked off on the list. 60 days to run amok in the land of smiles. My mother was temporarily confused with the time limit.

Mother: 60 days….So that’s a month then.
Me: Ah no……How many days are in a month?
Mother: I don’t know.
Me: Yes you do, come on, how many?
Silence
Me: 30 days hath September……..
Mother: Oh yes I know this one….April, June and November!
Me: Right….So if that’s the case how many months are in 60 days?
Mother: Two. Two months.
Me: We got there in the end (patted hand for extra reassurance)

And that right there is evidence of what a fabulously patient teacher I will make.

Six days left before I board the plane. Six days left of watching Friends re-runs and judging people on Facebook. I know I will not have time over there to do such important things so I have to get as much judging and stalking in as possible. Pathetic as it sounds I just cant help myself. The fact is I am procrastinating like a pro and I know that if I think about the things I REALLY need to do, it will send me into a panic so to ensure panic diversion, I will continue to stick my head in the sand ( aka Facebook, Dailymail, Uberhumor) as much as possible.

I do this every time I know I have something important and life changing to focus on. I also take the same approach to legal documents, bank statements and anything else that really does need my undivided attention. Complete work as quickly as possible and then fling into the oblivion. Close your eyes and cross your fingers that all will go well. My work as a Sales Analyst also took this creative approach (delightful employee that I was). The ‘If all else fails, lets pretend it isn’t happening’ approach. First complete work quickly and sufficiently. Then scan documents with confidence that all is correct. This can be done in seconds (please don’t lie to yourself that people with check…..The ‘you are important’ ship sailed a long time ago). Send document out into the black hole of cyberspace where it will never be read or acknowledged again. For extra fun send the email as important and in bold black letters, emphasise the importance that it must be read otherwise the consequence of not actioning will be eye watering. Watch as your email pops up in you colleagues Outlook to be either opened and ignored, opened and deleted or my favourite, not even opened or clicked on. Self sooth with a trip to the canteen for cheesecake.

I think back to what a good little worker ant I once was. Even cried over an Excel Spread sheet and the fact that I thought the Office application was completely out to get me. Especially when I had to present data to management. That was when it really went to great lengths to piss me off. ‘This never happens usually’ I would squeak while clicking everything possible and turning several shades of red. I gradually learnt that I wasn’t that important and graduated to the ‘Smiling stage’. It never failed and always delivered fast results. You don’t even have to be mentally present in the conversation which is why it was such a success. I spent full conversations shopping, planning dinner, deciding whether I should go to the gym, deciding against the gym, whether my latest crush was in the building or working from home, what movie I should I watch, has Netflix added new movies, whether I could eat that giant muffin in one whole bite all while smiling and nodding. Not only was I able to mentally check out I was also able to please my employer as I was seen as an eager to please, result driven professional. If I missed something really important I could comfort myself with the knowledge that my manager would forget that he had spoken to me after 5 minutes.

Coming back from the Thai Consulate I promised myself that I would never torture myself with spread sheets again. That and skinny jeans. I swear I am having to catapult myself into them. I am hoping that the sheer shock and terror of arriving in Thailand on my own will drain the fat off me. Or at least to my feet so I can walk it off. My mother also likes to comment on my ‘out of control’ curves.

Mother: You have a figure like Marilyn Monroe
Me: Oh…thank you
Mother: Yes voluptuous
Me: ah, thanks
Mother: Men like a lot of meat……..And by God you’ve got a lot of meat!!!! (Cue cackling)
Me: Great….Don’t know how to take that…Mmmm…Cheers