Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How Did I Get Here... Again?

Eventually I’ll find it funny, but right now it’s mostly just infuriating, and a tad improbable.  13 months and 8 days after I fell down a mountain, I slipped while walking on a flat footpath and ended up back in hospital with a broken leg.  Again.


But I’ll get to that.

The story starts when I moved overseas four and a half months ago.  High on the international wave of optimism wrought by Trump, Brexit and a flawless Oscars ceremony, I distilled everything I owned into one gigantic suitcase (and a few discrete boxes in Mother Painefull’s cellar, which she may have forgotten about so I’ll shut up), boarded a flight, and landed in the sunny United Kingdom.

It was a tale as old as time – girl gets itchy feet to live in London a decade later than she’s meant to, decides to move in with three Italians almost exclusively on the proviso that they make pizza once a week, then promptly gets a job in Leeds.  Classic.

Actual Pizza served up by Actual Italian Housemates

Despite rehabbing my Wolverine leg to the satisfaction of various medical professionals before I left Australia, there was still work to be done.  In the knowledge I was bridesmaiding for one of my oldest, closest friends at a ceremony near Sheffield in July, I became determined not to limp down the aisle.  With this as a useful and worthy goal I began walking everywhere to build up strength.

The simple version of how that went is to say the limp was indeed eradicated in time for the wedding.  The slightly more involved version includes the detail that it was when I began my first graceful steps down the aisle in a strapless, floor length, blush pink gown* that I discovered Mother Painefull was the celebrant.

There’s a lesson here - when your mother claims she’s merely “helping out” at a wedding ceremony rehearsal by “standing in” for the inexplicably absent celebrant, ask follow-up questions.

Someone somewhere must be in possession of a video of me mouthing the words “What the fuck are you doing there?” to my mother while gliding towards her at a dignified pace.  She was wearing an ethereal, bright purple kaftan with sequined neckline, shoulder length matching earrings and Dame Edna inspired glasses** – that’s Mother Paineful for ‘demure’.


It goes without saying that no one remotely compared to the bride.

The rest of the night was a blur of river dance duels, drunken relatives being prised through doorways and 5 different people trying to fix my hair.  It was a hilarious, joyous celebration, and the photographs attest to that, as well as providing evidence of my fundamental, repeated misunderstanding of what you’re meant to do when asked to fake laugh for a ‘candid’ photo.


This brings us to me in the present day, rocking a limp-free walk in Leeds.  Stairs were still a challenge, but the three flights up to my new bedroom were helping me to overcome that.

Life was good, on track, settling into a rhythm – like a North Korean scientist, it felt like all my hard work was finally paying off.  I was trundling to my job while listening to The Quiet American on audio book (drawn in by the possibility that such a thing might exist).

From afar it probably looked like a cartoon character stepping on a well-placed banana peel – left leg shooting out and up in a comical skid, attached body hurtling back before thudding down with a crunch onto the awkwardly placed right leg underneath it.

Fortunately the completed metal puzzle that is my tibia remained intact, and I merely sustained very minor breaks to my ankle and thigh.  Like most sequels ever it was lame and unnecessary, a forced follow-up and a pale imitation.  I can already see the uninspiring poster tagline…


Last time I broke this leg being able to blame a skiing accident at least left me with a bit of credibility.  “Fell while walking completely sober in flat shoes” is not what one would call sexy, dangerous or remotely mysterious.

The word you’re reaching for is ‘embarrassing’.  Like that time you kept giving a full face hyena cackle for a posed, ‘candid’ fake-laughter photo.

Them, as the inevitable pun concludes, are the breaks. 


Painefull Out

P.S.  Every sign and person that ever ordered you to walk, not run, for your own safety was a liar.

* = I think it was blush pink… and that blush pink is a thing?  Whenever I was asked for details of what I’d be wearing I was informed that ‘a dress’ was not descriptive enough, so that’s me trying to give it a little flavour.

** = On the other hand I know this description is entirely accurate – the visual is far more firmly placed in my mind.



Monday, May 29, 2017

Things to Leave Behind

I once produced a television segment about de-cluttering your life.  Actually, I pulled together four such masterpieces – breakfast TV is a Groundhog burial site of repeated content (there’s only so many questions you can script for a candid in-studio chat with Elmo, but the shameless media whore keeps visiting Australia anyway).

In any case, brekky TV was often about becoming a brief, unwilling expert in a topic I couldn’t give two shits about – the salt content of cereal, the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, the reasoning of climate change sceptics … the annoying part was always the information I’d retain.  But no matter what, the rules of de-cluttering wouldn’t stick.

I’ve never been good at throwing things out.  Nothing proved that more thoroughly than packing up my life recently to move overseas.

There was an alarming range of inexplicable, dust-gathering crap.  I’m not talking generic crap, like every magazine I ever bought, or several large boxes of miscellaneous seashells – it was character specific, to say the least.

I’m a jeans girl by nature – in fact I’d say there are some people in my life who’ve only ever seen me sporting god’s gift to trouser material.  But my heart isn’t made of denim, it’s made of dreams and aspirations (and, on a biological level, some other stuff I’m sure), which explains why I found two separate piles of jeans labelled with these post-its:

'Fits, but not comfy' - thanks for the heads up Past Self

'Aspire to Fit (what the hell was I thinking?)' - now Past Self is trolling me... such a bitch
Yes, the piles were substantial, there were far too many pairs of pants… several of which had never been worn.  But there was also the belief that those post-its were so important to their accurate storage that they stayed with them when I moved inter-state two years ago.

Those weren’t the only notes addressed to me that I held on to – I had also stored every abusive missive anyone had ever left on my car windscreen.  I don’t know why… some of them have awful spelling, which was probably amusing at the time.

Still, I’m glad I did, because this particular message….

...helped jog the memory regarding the mysterious can opener in my collection.

Which I now recall purchasing in a fit of whimsy and leaving on my dashboard whenever I parked behind that same car.  Because there’s no higher former of comedy than a prop-based gag targeted at one person you’ve never actually seen, on the off-chance they’ll see it, remember something that pissed them off enough once to leave an angry note… only to be charmed by this jesting response.

That’s how my brain works sometimes.

Of course selling my car as part of Operation Hemisphere Change meant saying farewell to a wide array of novelty items I’d avoided throwing out for years.

I don’t know what I’ll do without that pen from that New York bar I got wildly drunk at once in 2007.  Will the Yaris even start without the hammer that lived under the passenger seat (in case the vehicle veered off a bridge and into a body of water)?  And who would even bother owning a car without keeping a monkey* and a top hat in it?

Eventually, the nostalgia of magical, but admittedly worthless objects from every moment of adulthood gives way to a brutal rhythm.  When trying to distil your life into a single suitcase, culling gets real.  The strange rat king of necklaces that has been slowly growing for 15 years goes in the bin, along with the hand soap from a bizarre little ghost hotel just outside of Bologna, and the yellow folder so optimistically labelled ‘Ideas’ that has remained empty for its entire existence.

As void of contents as the day it was made
Then there are the things that shouldn’t be hard to throw away at all.  Yet, when it came to my leg and arm braces, I paused.  Briefly, ridiculously, I wondered if I might still need them somehow.

At the very least it felt like they needed a ceremony.  Or a bonfire.  Instead they got a wheelie bin.

The things we hold on to often make so little sense.  Like the clothes worn to a funeral – bought on a frantic, blackly comic shopping spree because I hadn’t packed anything mourning appropriate.  I’d consciously chosen not to.  I thought it would be bad luck.  Because that’s also how my brain works sometimes.

I know I’ll never wear them again, and yet they were put in storage.

We accrue so much traveling through life.  Even when you know it would be better to let it go, it can still be hard to truly leave some of it behind.  Especially when it’s the kind of stuff that doesn’t need to be accounted for with removalists or airline baggage limitations. 

Often you don’t even notice you’re carrying it.  Some things will be with you forever.  And sometimes it’s a broken hairbrush you’ve had for 14 years.

Don’t worry, it’s gone to the great big Hairbrushery in the sky.  Because ‘Hairbrushery’ is a word.  It’s Painefull, for ‘fancy landfill’.


Painefull Out

* = Fyi, the monkey’s name was Jo.  I know that would have been a burning question.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Most Painefull Collection

Confession number one: I still use CDs to listen to music.  Not in addition to Spotify, nor in conjunction with a curated iTunes account – I listen to CDs exclusively.


Let the record show I am not trying to be retro, and this is not some sort of proactive choice – I use CDs because it’s what I started with, and the act of changing over to digital always seemed to require more energy than I could muster.  You know, like combining your super funds, engaging in a thorough skin regime at the early age your mother insisted, or, in the case of so many Americans, voting*.

Confession number two: It has recently become apparent that I have never thrown out a CD.  Ever.



Like a pristine skeleton, or a perfectly preserved mummy, my collection remains untouched – an archaeological find that appears to document the limping evolution of my musical taste.

The beginning of said evolution can be traced back to one pivotal moment.

I was 11 years old when I arrived at boarding school for the first time.  I was nervous, excited, shitting myself and generally thrilled all at once.  Each item of my clothing had my full name stitched into it (including every individual sock), my uniforms were pressed, my preferred teddy bear was discretely packed, and my unwitting middle class, white privilege was polished to a high gleam.

But my pride and joy, my ace in the hole, my sure-fire ticket to the social summit of high school was the CD collection I carried in its own special bag on my lap for the length of the trip in.

It was 1997.  Meredith Brooks was all about the ‘Bitch’, Mariah Carey was all about the ‘Honey’, the Backstreet Boys were all about ‘Everybody’… and I had never heard of any of them.

I was raised on Ella Fitzgerald, Cat Stevens and Babs Streisand.  I grew up with Nina Simone in my ear, while Kiki Dee reassured Elton John in my heart.  And all of them were stowed in my special little bag (along with cast recordings of Les Miserables, South Pacific and West Side Story).  Not only did I pack a Bette Midler album, I was so convinced it would be hot property I labelled both the CD case, and the CD itself.


Thank god high school girls are so historically kind to each other, right?

My first dorm room came with two strangers the same age as myself – Smith and Bruno (before long there was a Podge, a Chum, a Morti, and a Buttles, because sometimes, yes, boarding school is every cliché you could possibly imagine).  Almost straight away, I sensed that we did not speak the same musical language.

They spoke fluent Garth Brooks, with accents of Shania Twain.  I, in case this wasn’t already screamingly apparent, had inherited all the tastes and inclinations of my middle aged parents.

So I did what any self-respecting pre-teen would do – I hid my special bag of Broadway classics and era-bound divas under a pile of shoes in the bottom of my closet and never spoke of it again.  And by sheer, involuntary osmosis, I found myself learning every word of ‘Standing Outside the Fire’.

That was the true beginning of my musical miseducation – the long, stumbling road towards discovering what I actually enjoy listening to.  And my untouched CD collection is the time capsule that documents that journey into the heart of darkness, from Britney to Ren & Stimpy (which explains my knowledge of all the lyrics of The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen Anthem).


Sorting through the hundreds of CDs has been akin to an anthropological investigation. 

Apparently I departed the Jewel train after purchasing 0304, her inexplicable foray into dance music (retrospectively it’s likely she was just Taylor Swifting ahead of her time), it’s entirely possible I believed ‘Roxanne’ was a song originated for the soundtrack of the film Moulin Rouge, and it seems I really, really liked Dido for a couple of years.

This Tutankhamun-esque treasure trove raises far more questions than it answers. Questions like:
  • How many times could one teenager buy an album because they liked one song on it, before they learned their lesson?  Creed, Wheatus, I am absolutely looking at you.
  • Why don’t I recognise anything on this dance album?
  •  Who is David, and why do I have his copy of Parachutes?
  •  So much Dido and nothing by the Spice Girls… why?
  •  Did I really adore Ben Lee’s ‘Gamble Everything for Love’ so much I needed to own both the single and the entire album?
  • What could possibly be on the homemade compilation discs I have mysteriously labelled with such descriptive titles as Cool and Mum’s Mix? In the case of the second one… a lot of Dido.
  • And above all else, the greatest, single most important question, which continues to haunt my entire generation: Aqua. Question. Mark.

I’m finally forcing myself to do a cull… but, Dido help me, how do I pick?  What makes a CD essential?  While digital users would undoubtedly say “nothing”, 11 year old me would probably just point at the bag of discs hidden under that pile of shoes back in 1997 (like a creepy, wordless, movie ghost child).

Neither answer is particularly helpful.  It's all too hard...

I'm giving myself a dance break.  I just need to pick the CD, turn on the machine, load it, skip to the song I want, and hope it's not too scratched to play...


Painefull Out

* = All to be filed under Things That Would Be Good For You If You Just Bothered.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

This Juggling Life

It was your standard housemate interview question: what do you do with your spare time?  The answer is usually pretty rote – they’re either fitness freaks who unwind with a soft sand jog, or brunching besties who know where the superior hollandaise is kept.  Occasionally they own up to watching a lot of TV, and sometimes they admit they go home to their parents every weekend.

The two strangers across from me exchanged the briefest of glances, before one replied with only a hint of trepidation:

We juggle.

And that’s when I knew, I wasn’t in Sydney anymore.

It’s a point that was driven home even further when I began unpacking the boxes and bags dropped off by the removalist.  Me, being the anal-retentive control freak my friends have learned to side-step and tolerate, I instantly spotted a suitcase that wasn’t mine.

Either the removalists who’d arrived eight hours late, then tried to bail on me completely, had stuffed up or they’d decided this was a timely opportunity to dispose of a body.  Me, being the absurdly paranoid zombie apocalypse doomsday prepper my relatives have decided to ignore and/or humour, I could only assume it was the latter.

Not wanting the remains of whatever crime Dumb and Dumber were covering up to spend too long festering, I unzipped the aforementioned suitcase.  The Bearded Nephew and I looked down to see…


Bearded Nephew: Is that…?
Me: Wow, they were not joking.

Welcome to Melbourne, enjoy your stay.

Doing interviews for housemates is speed dating, but with vastly more commitment.  It’s filled with all the hurried introductions, oddly intimate revelations and frequent snap judgements you’d expect… but then at the end, instead of vague promises to catch up for a drink, you move in together.

When you make the leap, and choose to share a fridge, and a soundscape… and a wine rack (and, please god, a dishwasher) with someone you’ve just met, it’s important to choose for the right reasons.  Well, no, first it’s important that they choose you (if they have the house, and you simply have the need).  Then, when they choose you, you need to choose them back.  It’s The Bachelor, just with less people invested, and far fewer awkward group dates.

If housemate hunting is Tinder, swiping right means sharing a bathroom for the next 12 months.  It’s signing a contract before finding out what they really look like.  So when they say they’re recreational jugglers, you need to believe them, because it’s random enough that it’s unlikely they’re making that shit up.

That’s how I ended up living with Juggle Boss and Magneto.  Yes, my nicknames make them sound like supervillains with varying degrees of potential menace.


Juggle Boss actually works with circus acts.  Basically that means all her work crises are just better.  For example: “One of my performers took his sword in his hand luggage on to the plane”, and “the candy cane stilt walkers have been over-booked again”.


Magneto works with… engines/magnets/something.  It sounds cool when he describes it.  He’s the type of person who makes dessert by accident, and is known for waking up with a random pineapple after a big night out.  Magneto also admits he hasn’t “come out to his work” about his juggling yet.

I currently have the house to myself because they’re away for a juggling convention.  Because that’s a thing.  It’s not the first one this year, after all the EJC (European Juggling Convention) was only a few months ago.  But this weekend’s one is more specialized – it’s a passing juggling convention.  Because that is also a thing.  A niche, within a niche.


They’re practicing patterns with names such as ‘Funky bookends’, ‘Champy’, ‘Panda panda who’s got panda’ and of course that inimitable crowd favourite ‘8441841481441’.  You know you’re impressed.

Other people who are impressed?

Mother Painefull.  Actually, initially it was just relief - she misheard me the first time and thought I said they were ‘recreational drug users’.  Now she insists they perform every time she sees them.

Also my boss, Stanislavski, who somehow developed an unrelenting ambition for me to learn how to juggle.  Like ‘stage-an-office-wide-talent-show-in-which-I-am-required-to-juggle,-then-cancel-the-show-due-to-lack-of-other-talent-but-still-require-me-to-juggle-five-days-from-now’ unrelenting.  So, I’ll let you know how that goes*.

You know who’s unimpressed?  My housemates every time they get home from running their weekly juggle club, and I ask “How was le juggle (French for juggle**)?”  Apparently it’s a bit repetitive for their liking.  Unlike juggling.

It’s through conversations like that, that I’ve spent the past year and a half testing the patience of Juggle Boss and Magneto (even before the trip down Break-a-Leg Mountain turned them into my personal grocery shoppers and tea-makers).  I’m here to tell you that patience is as flexible and durable as those circus jocks who engage in the dangling arts.  As one surrogate teenage daughter accurately described them, they’re responsible… but fun.

Whether we like it or not, sometimes life throws us into the path of total strangers.  With any luck, they know how to catch.

Even better, they might know how to juggle.


Painefull Out

* = I jest.  I won’t let you know.  Assume it goes badly.

** = I learnt French from Joey Tribbiani.  It’s a reference that’s lost on Juggle Boss.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Third Thing

If modern audiences everywhere, presidential debate organisers in America, and the late great naysayer Judas Iscariot know anything, it’s that all things come in threes.  All things.  Whether they’re good, bad, or indifferently mediocre.  Should they be mortifying, hallucinatory, or stunningly death-defying.  If they are decadent, flatulent or just appallingly low key.

All things.

Yes, with ample food, steadfast canine companion and well-plumped cushions, mine was true suffering

People expect life to present itself in triplicate, which explains one of the most common questions I currently face.  After the obvious ‘What did you do to your leg?’, and the curious ‘How exactly?’, people familiar with my year thus far often conclude with the deeply disconcerting…

I wonder what the Third Thing will be?’

Most humans like a bit of structure to their world.  Some of us like a lot of it.  A system by which to assess what’s happened, and gauge what’s likely to come.  I guess the rules of storytelling are as good a system as any.

And yet… there’s something so utterly ominous about the insistence that there should be a Third Thing.  I understand wanting to give purpose to shitty timing, but… couldn’t we not?

Here’s my Thing, my plea if you will: can’t we count the small things?  Add them all together?  The accrued stuff that topped off recent events… like spending a month incapable of independently exiting a house filled with photos of your recently deceased father – can that not be the Third Thing?

All the focus on the BIG things seems to remove from the little moments, devaluing them like so much window dressing to melodramatic main events.  Here’s to the small stuff then, the minor interruptions to regular programming…

A sampling of my convalescence wardrobe

- To four weeks spent wearing Finding Dory t-shirts with ‘Adorkable’ writ large across them, because Mother Painefull knows you like comic book superhero branding, and figured a blue fish urging you to ‘Just Keep Swimming’ was pretty much the same thing.

- To your doctor awkwardly asking why you have glitter on your injured, stitched up knee… and having no reasonable explanation.

- To plucking the patches of hair on your leg that were left behind by Mother Painefull after the whole involuntary shaving incident.

- To finding distraction in the realisation that the nerve damage to your leg means you can pluck it and not feel a thing. 

- To discovering your formal referral letter from your surgeon calls you “This unfortunate 31 year old lady”.

- To the watch list I assume my housemates are now on after they failed to bat an eyelid to the request: “I need garbage bags, duct tape, and a container for used syringes.”

- To the kind hearts who sent flowers, the soul mates who brought chocolates, and the legends who posted books.


I know what you’re thinking – with the metal on the inside, and the lack of physical pain on the outside, I’m basically a Bond villain in waiting.  Or you’re thinking none of those things is technically the Third Thing.

I get it.  Packaging events into trio formation is a deeply human response – it’s attempting to assign logic to life’s random luck.  It’s noble.  Thoughtful.  A bit fucked.

But if none of those little moments are big enough, I’ve decided the Third Thing is all of them.  I’d like that.

And with one storytelling convention behind me, I can at long last move on to the next.

Get me to a Training Montage.


Painefull Out

P.S.  For realists playing at home, the Third Thing was also possibly when I arrived back in Melbourne 51 days later than planned… to discover my car wouldn’t start, then spent $300 getting it going, then over $800 getting it out of the carpark.  Then the engine cut out on the other side of the boom gate.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Painefull Patient

In the far and distant future… when space colonisation is accepted as our only option for survival, the great-great grandchildren of the Spice Girls are ready to go on their second reunion tour and Twitter is the lengthy telegram by which old people write their memoirs… someone, somewhere will dust off the 2016 census.

First they’ll giggle at the belief that any of the information was ever truly secure, then they’ll notice a preponderance children with aggressively misspelt names, and at some point they’ll wonder why gay people were choosing not to get married in Australia during this era.

Distracted by the discovery that a stage production of the latest Fast & Furious sequel is playing via hologram (with prologue delivered by Global President Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson*), they won’t get any further than that.  If they did, they probably still wouldn’t care about the strange fact that on the day of the census, I was being housed in a neurology ward in Canberra.

If that seemed like a lengthy way to get to the point of this post, consider it an analogy for how long it took me to get out of hospital after breaking my leg.

To be filed under 'Things That Make You Go: May require surgery'

Due to the rampant popularity of hospital food, patient overflow forced me to bunk down in neuro while I waited for the second operation to actually set my broken bones.  I wasn’t alone – a fellow ski accident victim shared my four person room, and remarked that we had pretty much the same injury.  He got out after three days.  When I was finally released two and a half weeks later, I came to the realisation that he was a cruel, cruel liar.

You know who didn’t leave me?  The amnesiac patient, and the elderly Croatian woman who didn’t speak a word of English.  If that’s not the start of an excellent conversation every day, it’s at least the beginning of a ‘walks into a bar’ joke.

That first week, with the metal pins sticking out of my leg, it took three people to take me to the bathroom.  The second week, with the metal plates inside the limb, it was merely two – with so few of us involved in the endeavour it began to feel downright private.

Undoubtedly the high point came with my first shower at Day 12.  Only a single nurse was needed to help me do that.  I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is: Yes, it was less satisfying to harmonize with just one other person.

At least I was truly alone at night.  Just me, the beeps and buzzes of medical equipment, and my brain doing its circuit – this hurts > don’t think I’d cope with childbirth > how come Olympic long jumpers don’t get injured when they fall? > falling > stupid skis > remember Dad taught you to love skiing > glad Dad didn’t end up in hospital > Dad > this hurts…

Halfway through August I realised I hadn’t seen the sky that month.


There are awards, of course:

Best helpers ever: a sister that brought me tea, an aunt that brought me berries, a mother that spent a lot of time driving backwards and forwards to Canberra.

Worst helper ever: the nurse who thought my leg looked crooked and tried to correct it without noticing the metal pins holding it in position.

Best overheard statement without context: “The doctor wants to know how many fingers I can fit in your mouth, so open up.”

Best phone call: my boss wanting my full name to help with a cleansing ritual at the office to try and lift the curse.

Best segue: the friend who, upon discovering I was in hospital with a severely broken leg, used it as an opportunity to tell me about his terrible cold.

Let me reassure you now – that friend’s cold… has passed.  I will let him know you’re thinking of him.

Everyone keeps reminding me this leg business will pass as well.  I know it will, but with another three weeks until I can put any weight on it, it sure is taking its sweet arse time.  Odd to think, in that far and distant future, the census might be the only evidence on record that it even happened.  That and the crippling arthritis my doctor now assures me is inevitable in the limb.

Like a lot that’s occurred this year, something so big will be reduced to a memory, and an ache.

Airport security comedy will surely ensue

On the upside, I’m further down the path of becoming the Bionic Woman.  I’m going to fight crime with my knee of steel, before the inevitable robopocalypse forces me to choose sides between humanity and our artificial intelligence overlords.  I’m still undecided on that one (pending the US Presidential election).

Full Metal Legging



Painefull Out

* = The Rock is ageless.  Go with it.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

It’s A Bird… It’s A Plane… It’s A Broken Leg

Sometimes you dress for the occasion, sometimes the occasion dresses you… and sometimes you start the day wearing a Superman t-shirt, and end it wearing an external frame drilled into your leg.
I think we can all agree that life is a series of choices.  From yes please, more parmesan, to no thanks, Trump belongs to the kind of dystopian future only Jennifer Lawrence could bring down – the consequences of these choices can be huge, obvious course alterations, but mostly the results are barely perceptible.

But there’s a third group – the things that pay off in truly unexpected ways.

When I was 6, I swapped writing hands to I could sit with my best friend.  When I was 19, I locked my keys in the car for the third time in a week.  When I was 30, I started buying superhero t-shirts because they made me feel oddly empowered.  And two days ago I opted to push through some slushy snow with a bit more speed, rather than slowing down.

Picture it now: I’m flying down the slopes of Thredbo, wind in my hair, trees whizzing by, vaguely visible grass patches cheering me on.  It’s as if the last 6 months of diligently working out have all led to this moment – fitness and confidence combining to take me down the mountain at a cracking pace.

Then slush.  Then a hard inside edge.  Then a lot of forward momentum dragging me away from a foot locked firmly into a boot that a ski refuses to release.

Then me lying face first in a twisted heap on a bank of muddy snow.  Season with screaming to taste.

OMG, how embarrassment, did you guys not get the memo that I was wearing red?

One pro to severely injuring yourself while skiing – you don’t have to immediately see how awful it is.  Your wounds are secure, helpfully hidden – all loose bone and jutting joints are pleasantly ensconced in a water proofed material package, topped with special footwear.

A big con – all that neat clothing and highly rigid footwear has to come the fuck off.  I can swear about that, because I’ve had a ski boot removed while sporting a spiral fracture to the tibia – I can swear about that fucker for days.

A fesh pro to the clothing removal process came when three unexpectedly strapping young men were charged with taking off my pants at the medical clinic.  An unexpected con arrived with the belated realisation that I was wearing Superman (well, technically, Supergirl) underwear, which matched my Superman t-shirt.  In case it’s not obvious, I’ll explain – I was feeling hella empowered that day, and I simply dressed to match.

The irony of the Superman logo was not lost on a single soul in any ambulance, x-ray booth, operating theatre or hospital ward that followed.  Combined with the last name Paine, I was a walking punchline.  I should’ve found it unbelievably irritating, but instead it felt like the perfect ice breaker.

Like dentists & other super heroes, I feel strapping medical staff need their identities protected

Despite the aftermath being a blur of snow sleds and kindly middle aged nurses urging me not to look at my elbow, I have a clear picture of how the whole thing went down.  Several clear pictures, actually.  Two friends were on the spot to help soothe me, taking charge of everything non-medical.  But they also understood that what a girl wants, nay, what a girl needs… is a sensitively taken photographic essay of her dramatic day on the snow fields.  Complete with an emergency selfie.

Only true friends can take on such tasks – the type that are found through random life events, like a bad habit of locking your keys inside your car.

On Sunday I was feeling kind of excellent about life.  Thoroughly at ease for the first time in about three months – high job satisfaction, fabulous friends, good food, and total freedom on the slopes.  Everything was coming up Painefull.  And then… everything came up painful.

No stunt doubles were used in the making of this leg photo

I could blame my ski bindings, or my age, or climate change (the last one is most tempting, because… it’s irrefutable science and all), but the choices I made were the dominant factors.  I didn’t run into anyone or anything – most of that bad boy is on me.

There's a Game of Thrones joke in here somewhere, about me facing off against The Mountain... still working on it...

But so was the decision to become left-handed so I could sit next to Kevin Durrington.  As I consider my right arm in all its battered, bionic woman brace glory, I remind myself that while the next few months may be hard, at least I will always be able to sign my name.  I have 6 year old me to thank for that.

Some choices really do pay off in the most unexpected of ways.


Painefull Out


P.S.  In the space of a minute, while seated by my hospital bed, Mother Painefull suggested I eat another Tim Tam, and declared she would buy me a fresh superman t-shirt, so I just thought you all deserved a warning – the apocalypse is nigh.