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The boat that rocked….with a C-Monkey and a Water Goat

25 Aug

Change. It’s a funny old thing. I’m not very good at change. In fact, I hate it. I’m the kind of girl that likes things to stay just as they are….forever.

I’ve managed to ignore this fear of change for quite some time. In fact I’ve even given it my own PR spin. So you see, it’s not that I’m afraid of change, no, no, I’m just very, very loyal. Yes loyal, not afraid of change…just loyal. I am loyal to a fault. A big fault. The kind of fault that ends up being yours for not changing…..for example, I will stay with a boy I met at school for 9years (yes 9 years!) even though I knew he was a lying cheating idiot with a soft spot for younger girls (loyal = a walking doormat), I will stay at a job for 8years (again yes 8years!) because even though I loved it, looking back there were times I knew I should have moved on and explored new things (loyal = not really believing in myself), I’ll stay in the same ‘renting with randoms’ situation for years even though I feel my insides curl up and die each time I see that wee in the toilet that someone refuses to flush away (loyal = serious sanitation issues).

I cling so desperately to this masked idea of loyalty that I often miss out on really living life, on throwing myself out there, being brave and having a few “oh fuck it!” moments. It’s just wasn’t me. I mean why would you want to? Why take the risk, why rock the boat, bad things happen when you rock the boat, someone could fall in, get swept away or eaten by a shark. Hey, it happens! So my advice, just stay in the boat, be very, very still and don’t move. Ever. Ok.

But after years of doing everything I could to keep things steady, I realised my life was at a bit of a standstill. That actually I wasn’t very happy. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t miserable, it’s not like I was lying on the floor at 2am drinking vodka singing George Michael songs (that’s just a typical Friday night, no? And who doesn’t love George!) – What I mean is, that after a while I realised my life hadn’t just slowed down, it had come to a stop.

At 32 I was waiting. Waiting for my life to start. For something brilliant to happen, anything really; maybe a nice house, a little dog called George (yes I know, I love George but again who doesn’t!) a lovely man (he doesn’t have to be called George…), some babies (preferably mine), or maybe just winning the lottery and becoming an international jet setting bumpkin – you know, the usual really. Something… anything, that would give me that big shove and get my life going again.

And then C-Monkey arrived. You could say he quite literally snuck up behind me and shoved me so fucking hard I still have the bruises. I mean talk about be careful what you wish for, because that ‘anything’ might just come up and bite you on the ass….or in my case, Leftie.

Once he’d arrived C-Monkey did everything he could to remind me that my life as I knew it, was going to change…forever. There was no getting away from it, no matter how much I tried and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It was like I literally woke up one morning with the word ‘Change’ written in very big capital letters on my forehead, underneath it also read ‘you’re an idiot’ – he used that special invisible ink stuff, but I knew it was there.

It wasn’t a quiet gradual change either, oh hell no, that would have been too easy. No C-Monkey didn’t do quietly; in fact he had his very own marching band, complete with cancer theme song, which was sung loudly, day and night, night and day, over and over, and over! C-Monkey’s ‘Campaign of Change’ marched all over every aspect of my life. Nothing was safe. First he conquered my body (and not in a good way), then he moved on to my family, my friends, my job, my flat-share, relationships … everything.

The biggest battle however was the one that took place in my head. At first I ran away and hid behind the “I’m fine” banner but it was made of paper and he promptly ripped through it. Then came the “Why is this happening to me” / “Fuck off” / “I need more wine” banners which didn’t do much to slow him down either. Finally, exhausted I gave in.

C-Monkey had won. Cancer had changed everything.  There was no loyalty coating for this situation, it was going to change my whole life and that was that.

So my once steady boat, securely tided up in the harbour is now crashing through open water, no sign of land, just miles and miles of ever changing seas. C-Monkey loves it. He’s like a wild pirate laughing like a lunatic with every wave that crashes over us.

At first I freaked out. Who wouldn’t?! I mean – a) I hate boats, b) I am convinced I will at some point be eaten by a shark (long story involving me and a fish pond as a little girl but let me assure you it’s a very real possibility) c) I do not like or never will like open water…or waves or being in a boat, I know I said that already but I mean it.

But here’s the weird thing. Once I crawled out from my hiding place, I started to get a little braver. My sea legs kicked in and now, well, I quite like it. Yeah I do. And no I’m not high on drugs, I mean yes there are still drugs but not so much that I’m dreaming about carnival boobs again. And obviously the cancer thing still sucks giant, wobbly, whale ass and loosing Lefty sucked even more, but now that I’m here and finally realising that I have absolutely no control, I’m kind of enjoying it. I’ve let go. I’m embracing the change.

I’ve taken the PR sheen off of the loyalty cloak and finally seen it for what it is, the “I’m a mug” anorak. No one looks good in an anorak, not even on a boat. So now that it’s off I’ve started to see things clearly. I’m realising that maybe some those things that Cancer changed, actually needed to be changed.

So decisions have been made. First up the flat situation, living with other people during all this (the diagnosis, the operation, the emotional fall out) hasn’t always been easy, mostly because I was just all over the place. So I’ve rented a flat, by myself. Now the only wee I have to see the in toilet is my own, it’s a revelation. Peace and quiet, my own space, more kitchen cupboards than I could have dreamt of, a whole fridge to myself and privacy! Oh the privacy, it’s amazing. Finally I can cry whenever I want, I can sing loudly, shout, dance about naked – have my own mini naked disco for one, it’s brilliant. It’s all mine and I love it!

And that’s not all; I’m starting my new job in a few weeks, and can’t wait. It’s another big change that may have felt daunting before but now I’m just excited. Its fresh start, with new people, new challenges and maybe even a new pencil case or handbag. Well a new handbag is a must for any new job, and shoes, yes shoes are also very, very important. You can’t start a new job without new shoes, they will mock you, there will be pointing, and staring, no one will take you for lunch or talk to you, you’ll be the new girl with bad shoes!!! NO. This will never happen. I may have one wonky boob but I will never have bad shoes.

I know it won’t all be plane sailing and that C-monkey has more changes to come but hopefully I’ll be able to face them head on. Something I’m already doing. Recently I found out that the operation for the proper new and improved go-go gadget Lefty (with possible glow in the dark attachments and buoyancy aid) has been put back …..again.

Apparently more pumping action is required then it needs to ‘rest’ and ‘settle’ which makes me feel like I’m baking some sort of boob cake?! Normally I would have become a weeping mess at the news, but I’m not going to let this recent change rock my boat, it’s actually ok, it’s a good thing. It means I can start my new job for a bit, then have something to look forward to getting stuck back in to when it’s all done – the job I mean, not the boob cake, that’s just weird. And I have my new place to come back to after the next operation, a real home, somewhere that’s all mine.

It’s funny how change can affect you. Someone recently told me I was a water goat, at first I thought I was being insulted and was about to tell him he looked like a sweaty toad, but apparently it’s my Chinese sign or something. It means I’m better out in open water, riding the big waves, taking on the changes and sailing through. It turns out I’m terrible in shallow safe water and will forever fret about the small stuff. Who knew!

So here we are, a C-Monkey and Water Goat, out at sea…. in a beautiful boob shaped boat. Where we’ll end up is anyone’s guess but we seem to be doing ok.

AuMy first shark!

27 Mar

So the day after we arrived in Brisbane we headed off on a tour of Moreton island. We’d booked ourselves for a full day of action and adventure – namely exploring the island in 4W4’s, snorkeling the reef around a couple of sunken boats, sand surfing and swimming. A full on, high adrenalin, non stop, action packed day – bring it on!

I’m not a massive fan of boats (as you’ve heard many times now) but it really was very pleasant sitting on the top deck, soaking up the sun, enjoying a coffee and talking (porn) with Louise. Yes porn. Apparently the Germans are pretty famous for their porn, I’m beginning to think Lou could actually be a porn star :0)

On the boat to Moreton Island

As we approached the island the sunken reef came in to view, this is the spot where we’d be snorkeling very soon. Needless to say my nerves started to kick in. What the hell was I doing?!! Ok, lets just take a moment here to reflect……I have a (massive) fear of deep water and of fish (big swallow you in one bite kind of fish) and yet I was about to go, willingly, in to very deep water for a bit of snorkeling. Where I would, no doubt, come face to face with big fish….Right then. Good decision….is it too late to stop the boat?!

Off the boat we meet our guide for the day, a suitably tanned, upbeat and very buff Auzzie by the name of Ned. Great name! Before you could say 007 we were in our wetsuits headed for the water. Little note here to say that despite Daniel Craig’s efforts no one looks good in a wetsuit. No one. Mine was about 2 sizes too big and would have been perfect for someone with freakishly long legs. Sadly I do not have freakishly long legs, the exact opposite in fact, so in a rather embarrassing move I was forced to roll mine up at the ankles, several times in fact. Not a good look but very, very funny.

Actually the whole thing was pretty hilarious, both me and Lou looked ridiculous and couldn’t stop giggling as we flapped about in the shallows, much like rubber clad beached Whales, testing out our goggles and snorkels.

Me flapping about

Then before you could say “I’ve changed my mind, I’ll say here and take some pictures thanks, maybe get started on the sarnies for lunch…yes?” We were in the water. We were told not to put our snorkels into the water while we swam out to the reef. No reason was given at the time but later Ned told us it was because most people have a tendency to totally freak out when they realise how deep, dark and bloody terrifying it is. Good point. After a long swim we made it to the reef. Then came the call –  “ok you can put your heads in the water now…” it was exactly 10 seconds after that instruction that I totally and utterly freaked out. All consuming panic. ….”oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” / ” fuck, fuck, fuck” / “I can’t do this!!!”

The view that I saw when I put my head under sent a tidal wave of solid fear right through me. All I could see was the side of the sunken boat disappearing into a whole load of nothingness, deep, deep, nothingness…..just my little legs flapping about….nothing below but darkness and the odd fish head appearing out of the gloom. OH.MY.GOD.OH.MY.GOD.OH.MY.GOD……Ned noticed me having a slight moment and came over, he was absolutely brilliant. He asked if I wanted to go back…my whole body wanted to say YES, but there was no way I was bailing on this. I am Zomersetgirl on an adventure, trying new things and being brave god damn it…. There’s no way I’m quitting. Come on girl get some balls! So Ned, me and Lou stuck together for a bit, swimming along the reef, until I started to feel more confident. Gradually the fear subsided and I reaslised that although my heart was still pounding and I’d clamped my snorkel mouth piece so hard I couldn’t feel my jaw any more, I was in fact having a good time. Scrap that, I was having a great time. It was absolutely beautiful…memorizing in fact. Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful fish just swimming about, nibbling at the bread we were feeding them, just as interested in us as we were with them. It was also massively funny owning to the fact that we looked like a pair of drowning dogs every time we surfaced, goggles stuck to our bulging eyes, hair mashed to our faces, our German/English chat even more incomprehensible due to the snorkel bits in our mouths…something that sent us into a frenzy of giggles, spluttering, snorkel filled, half drowning giggles every time. So much fun.

Me & Louise – drowning/giggling underwater

I was loving it. But then Ned called out “Come over here everyone, there’s a shark right here…come and have a look“. What the …???? Ned had just said two things that really didn’t make sense – 1. The word ‘Shark’ and 2. Come and have a look???!!! In my head it should have been 1. Fuck it’s a sharrrrrk!! followed swiftly by 2. Swim for your lives!!! Once again full on panic headed my way. Ned assured me it was very, very small, very, very harmless and if I looked he promised it wouldn’t be as bad as what I was imagining. He was right of course. For what I was imagining was the lift floor from the YHA….(look at the Brisbane post for that pic – essentially Jaws looming up to eat me whole) what I got was in fact a very small, beautiful, little brown and white spotted shark  just sitting on the bottom of the boat a few meters down from me.

WOW! I had seen a shark! I had seen an actual real life shark! Totally and utterly amazing. This was a moment I had dreamed about, thought about, imagined for many, many years and here it was. A beautiful little shark, just below me. I was so happy I can’t even begin to describe the feeling. I was still terrified of course but I was also very, very happy and just a little bit proud of myself….very proud of myself in fact.

Loving it!

Snorkeling done we headed off in the 4W4 for the sand surfing… we kangaroo hopped along the sandy road it became apparent quite quickly that a bikini definitely did not provide the support required for such a bumpy ride. Something Ned also notice with his “you’ll be wanting a sports bra by the end of this” quip. And he wasn’t wrong. Jeez…. me and the puppies got thrown about all over the place, it’s a wonder they stayed on! I’d consider suing for my two black eyes but I’m pretty sure the disclaimer we signed included boob related injuries, such was its thoroughness. Ned drove/bounced us all around the island, showing off the miles and miles of totally empty sandy shores. It was simply breathtaking. Paradise.

Shortly after we found ourselves in a place called “The desert” aptly named because it is in fact a bit of a desert, rolls and rolls of massive sand dunes and nothing at all to shelter you from the blistering sun. We headed off with our sand surfing boards and started the exhausting, thigh burning climb to the top. Our boards were pretty tiny and the higher we climbed the more apprehensive I got. The technique seemed simple enough. Get to the top of the massive dune, line up your board, hold on tight and slide down. What you don’t realise until its way too late is that you’ll be flying face first down a vertical dune, sliding at about 150mph, whilst swallowing a gut full of sand, you’ll lose both flip-flops, scream like a big girl and generally feel as if the worlds biggest hairdryer has been blown in your face – G-Force!! It was pretty bloody cool. No doubt. Yeah man! The whole gang loved it, it was hilarious watching everyone shoot down, the same bemused, startled, dazed and exhilarated look on their faces when their slide finally came to a stop….lets go again!! I laughed so much my sides hurt.

Very high and very fast

After the sand surfing we found another gorgeous deserted beach and spent some time just swimming about in the clear shallows, trying to wash the sand from every single inch of ourselves. I thought it was the perfect end to a perfect day….and then it got ever better….a school of dolphins appeared about 200 meters from us….

Wow. What a day.

I had laughed so, so much. Faced my fears, seen my very first shark and swam in beautiful clear waters with wild dolphins jumping in the distance. I can’t really do it justice, but It was without a doubt one of the best things I have ever done in my whole life and I will smile every single time I think about it.

A very, very good day!

Next stop Noosa.

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