Friday, April 07, 2006

Back from the dead

Around my birthday sometime I sold out to The Man. My boss was required for four weeks on one of our regional projects and I was left to commence the busiest and most crucial part of 2006 without his guidance, input and ability to approve my purchases.

My job quickly took over my life, eating up 10 hours a day, my weekends, my dreams and my every waking hour. I was a bore to talk to because all the topics that I talked about covered my work - fascinating and challenging as it was for me, it was shop talk, and most of my listeners were not interested.

The most alarming result of this bout of workaholicism is that I stopped reading, stopped watching movies, stopped going out, stopped my hobbies and my mind was caught in a treadmill of work, work, work. It was different and I loved it, but I missed my hobbies and my relaxation time.

My boss is back, and because I can now hand the hard work over to him, my life is my own again! Hopefully next time I will learn to compartmentalise my life better, and perhaps I will learn finally to say NO!

This was me before my birthday - tanned, dancing salsa and carefree ...

AND, before I was a workaholic, I had my birthday party!

My parents were visiting my brother in Bali, so my godmother Felicity came through and provided the food and 'Mum' things that each party needs. We are on the grass on Cottesloe Beach.

My little sister and I in our matching hats from the Royal Show last year. Cooooooool.

For the none Perthites ... this is what a real beach looks like. And it should ideally go for thousands of kilometres of coast. REAL beaches ...

After the first game of beach cricket we had cake, then most of the guests trickled off and only the original beach cricketers stayed on to play into the evening. This is the Captain of the Dubai International team watching the rest of us swimming our last swim before the drive home.

Then work ate my life ...

It started with visits to the construction sites, this is the Burns Beach Project subdivision in the northern suburbs, right on the beach.

Then they flew me out to Ravensthorpe. This statement deserves to be in flashing neon lights, because Ravensthorpe is a lot of things to people in this business. Much like Labrynth is to the girls of my age, it is hard to explain, but those who have been bear the scars forever. The most important thing was that I was chasing booty in Ravensthorpe, in the shape of a 6ft4" 32 year old who had been chasing ME since September last year. I enjoyed Ravensthorpe.

At the moment the site is a construction camp for the Ravensthorpe Nickel Project, a Nickel Mine being constructed 600km south of Perth. It is made up of approximately 1000 workers - mainly men - on a four weeks on, one week off roster. It is an amazing place, they work hard and TRY to play hard in the middle of nowhere. Thing is, I was not briefed on how a 25 year old girl should conduct herself in Ravensthorpe, so I misjudged my clothes for dinner the first night. When the booty I was chasing saw me walk in in a skirt, my hair out and a t-shirt that said "Bored and Beautiful" he just laughed and told me that I was asking for trouble. Since the rest of the women in the camp get around every day in their work clothes of enveloping shirts and jeans I really stood out and I had to stave off the circling sharks all night.

I spent two nights and two days in a different world. Breakfast from 4.30am to 6am, including time to make your lunch. Working in a site office on the minesite or training on remote construction locations up to 20 minutes drive away in 4WDs on dirt roads from 6.30am to 5.30pm. Then dinner in the mess and the night spent in the bar there with droves of men trying to get into your pants and, when 9pm hit, dodgy 60's porn on the TVs in the bar. An entirely different world. What I found particularly intoxicating was the pure amount of energy in the air, the immediacy of need and action, the power of the men and the machines and the focus on a goal that allowed for nothing but movement.

It was hard getting back to Perth with it's ease and boredom. The first days back were excruciating, up early because my body clock was screwed, I was understimulated, the office was too quiet, I had to cook and I missed the aggressive displays of male dominance, the circling of alpha males. Whether it was in the office with engineers bantering all day, or on site with the operators scoring points, or in the bar with men trying to read whether you were there for the muscles and rough hands, it was all a bit too exciting for me.

From the working environment of Ravensthorpe I came back to the shark-like atmosphere of a graduate recruitment expo. The organisation and delivery of the expo was thrillingly horrible and I am having nightmares about my role having too many events management components - it appears I hate organising phamplets!

Then, like Superman going where he is needed, I was flown down to Albany the following week to organise the official turning of the first sod on a road the company are building in Albany. It was a starstudded affair, a good media turn out, local dignitories and two members of Parliament. Alannah, above with some of our engineers and myself, is a member of State Parliament and the mother of one of the cleverest of my classmates, a girl so brilliant that when we were in the same tutorials at UWA she was delivering papers at History Conferences and arguing lazily with me in class. Antoinette, throughout the twelve years we spent at school together, was good enough to consider me an adversary to argue with, which, with her intellectual pedigree of Rhodes Scholars as mentors, is quite a compliment.

This is another politician, with the model excavators that proved quite a hit when we gave them out. Here ends my story of a life lived for work. I am no longer a martyr to the company, so normal transmissions should resume.

No more of this taking work home ...

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