Dancing Queen

Busting a move in my ABBAMAIL T-Shirt

Busting a move in my ABBAMAIL T-Shirt

I’ve never really quite got the exercise thing.

As a child I was never really very good at sport as I struggled with hand-eye co-ordination. I was okay at tennis and hockey, and not bad at orienteering, but generally speaking sporting ability has never been one of my strengths.

To be honest, the last time I played sport regularly was about twenty years ago in a Tuesday night tennis competition when I lived in Bourke. And deep down, I’m guessing part of the appeal was that you could go to the nearby bowling club for drinks in between matches.

I’ve tried to join a gym a few times. In the first instance, while living in Wagga, I had a really good instructor – Tony – who was very encouraging. But after a while I just got bored sitting on a bike and watching video clips.

And then about two years ago I tried again at a gym near to my work. But the guy who did the fitness assessment showed little interest in putting together a program that suited me. It was one size fits all for him, I quickly realised, as he glared at me with a disdain that declared, “you’re forty and you’re fat”. It was a really damaging experience.

I’ve also tried daily walks, but somehow work has managed to provide me with an excuse not to keep that up either.

The most success I’ve had in becoming fitter was last year when I went travelling and lost in excess of ten kilograms. Who would have thought that regular exercise, better nutrition, and drinking less alcohol could lead to weight loss? It’s magic!

I blame my family of course. My family have never really been into regular exercise or general fitness. Even though some of my ancestors have been noted boxers and runners, generally speaking our lot have had little demonstrated interest in any form of physical activity.

But aside from blaming my genes, I know my greatest problem with weight loss and fitness in general is that I get bored really easily.

Gyms. Walks around the park. Swimming laps. Boring. Boring. Boring.

I now find myself, however, dangerously close to having discovered one possible answer that meets both my need to have a new mental challenge, as well as my physical need: Monday night dance classes.

After last week’s class, I came home feeling really pumped, that I had both learned something and was getting some heart-rate-raising exercise at the same time.

It happened again tonight, as we moved onto the “street funk” class, which combined a fairly lengthy dance routine with some stretching, jumping and moving. I loved the way we put together a routine (mental), as well as the way it got my fat arse into gear.

And my two colleagues and I all agreed we loved the instructor (Ilona). She was a good teacher – slowly, slowly, bit by bit and encouraging – and she was good fun, with some genuinely funny jokes.

Don’t get me wrong. I could get bored again and lose interest within a matter of weeks. But at the moment, I think I may have found the solution to one of life’s great personal dilemmas.

“You are the…”

Showtune Sunday

Elaine Paige on BBC Radio 2

Elaine Paige on BBC Radio 2

Aside from listening to an awful lot of show tunes, I don’t have much to report about Sunday.

Most of my show tune quota came from listening to Elaine Paige on BBC Radio 2.

The BBC has a great new iplayer interface for listening to their radio stations via flash, instead of using those stupid bloody Windows and Real Player encoders.

Although it’s a little more bandwidth intensive, the quality is excellent, and you don’t have to worry about having that software on your computer. This is especially important, as both players seem to want to take over your computer. And for me, as a Linux-nerd, it’s especially good. I think I’ve made my point? :)

So it was show tunes, and a Guiness World Record attempt for doing the most laundry on a Sunday night. The house resembles a laundromat at the moment with clothes drying in all parts of my apartment, aside from the kitchen.

The week ahead is reasonably busy. A dance class on Monday. On Tuesday, Damo and I are going to watch a recording of The Chaser. Wednesday night will be at the pub. And beyond that, I’m hoping to catch up with a couple of friends for dinner, including Mark who is back in Sydney for a few days.

Why is it that my weekends are quite boring with almost nothing planned, and yet I seem to have something on every weeknight? Actually, I do have a house-warming next Saturday night. But generally speaking, weekends are spent faffing about doing nothing, and watching tv, and my weeknights are almost always busy. It’s not right, is it?

One Year Later

Stockholm i natt

Stockholm i natt

“It’s good that you’re keeping it up”, a friend said to me a couple of weeks ago of my continued Swedish language studies.

“I thought you would have given it up, after returning from Sweden”, he told me.

And yes I have kept up my studies, partly out of a desire to have a little more in my life aside from work. And partly because I think I genuinely want to return to Sweden to work at some stage.

It’s twelve months this weekend since I arrived in Stockholm for my big trip.

I remember vividly the excitement of arriving at Arlanda Airport on the Saturday night, and then catching the fast train to the city where I’d booked a nearby hotel..

At the time I wrote…

It’s a lot smaller than I expected. It’s also a lot quieter than I’d imagined, with not all that many people out on the streets tonight.

It is, however, overwhelmingly beautiful. The buildings, especially around the old town are wonderful. As there are no high-rises per se, the town remains low which means the water remains the focus of the inner-city area.

The only negative thing so far is that I’ve almost been run over twice. Because the different road rules, cars seem to come from out of nowhere. I’ve since learned only to cross with the lights, and only when other people are around.

Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden (Pic by Marco)

Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden (Pic by Marco)

The very next morning I met up with fellow ABBA fan, Marco, who took this really great photograph of me at a cafe in Gamla Stan (the old town). You can see that even by then I was looking a lot happier and rested than I had been for a while.

For my own sake, it was a trip I desperately needed. At work I was pretty close to burn out. And I didn’t feel like there was much else going on in my life.

But once I arrived there with a spirit of adventure in my heart, life suddenly seemed to get a lot better.

And that’s partly why I really want to go back for an extended period.

In some ways, I guess I could have achieved the same thing going anywhere else. But in other ways, I don’t think I could.

So I’m saving my pennies (slowly) and planning to return at least for a month next year (co-inciding with Eurovision in Norway and the International ABBA Day in the Netherlands).

And beyond that, I think I’d like to work in Sweden for a while. Obviously, I’m not talking about working in a bar as a twenty year old. I’m obviously thinking about something which would also benefit my career back here. And even though I could “work” in English, I think it could be a far more interesting and worthwhile experience if I was at least semi-fluent.

One year later since I arrived in Stockholm, I’ve addressed a fair bit of the discontent in my life that was evident, though there’s still some work to go.