2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Sydney, Thoughts

My Ideal Day

If money was not an issue, what would your life look like today? How would you fill your days?

For me, if money was not an issue [as it would be if Utopian Socialism worked], I would fill my days with learning and trying to make myself better and improving myself. Yup, super cliche, I know. I would still try to wake up early and hit the gym, as it’s become a place that I enjoy going to and exercise something that has really helped me grow and become a healthier person inside and out. I know this sounds so self-indulgent, and typically self-entitled millennial of me, but really, without the need to work to provide for oneself, I would make my life about being better as a whole, and experiencing the most out of life.

I would go for nice breakfasts, maybe eat something sweet like pancakes [because why the fuck not] with coffee, sit outside al fresco if it was a sunny day, perhaps sit inside if it was cooler or wet. I’d have an Ipad loaded with paid-for subscriptions like The New Yorker or Time magazine, and I would spend an hour just reading, eating breakfast, sipping my coffee, and then planning my day ahead and what I wanted to accomplish, work on or get out of my time for the day. Maybe some days I would go to different cafes for a change of scenery, maybe I would have weeks or even months of frequenting that same favourite cafe that does coffee just how I like it, or cooks a great breakfast.

After reading through an article or two in New Yorker or Time, or perhaps a newspaper, I would take out my journal or perhaps go on Daily Page and start writing. Maybe I would be with Adrian, or maybe alone. I would then work out my day and break down what I would want to achieve or get out of the day.

Maybe one day would be spent reading, or playing computer games, or maybe having lunches with friends and loved ones. I might go visit my nonna and hang with her, or go for a drive up to the mountains. I know some days all I would do would be anything I want. Like even playing World of Warcraft for endless hours. Maybe I would simply while away the day in the sun at a park, or a beach or pool. I would try to gauge how I felt, and do whatever my heart desires. I’d like to think however that I would try to learn something or create something no matter how small each day. Perhaps a little blog post, or a journal entry. Maybe I would walk about the city and take pictures. I guess because currently with the need to work and pay bills and rent, I don’t have this luxury. I envy people who come from wealthy backgrounds as this has afforded them something more important than money, rather it has given them the freedom of time.  Many of these people take this luxury for granted and squander their time. I wish I didn’t have to work 9 hours a day five days a week. I wish I could emulate that archetype of the Renaissance era person of art and passion, and had the time to muse and delve into creating things.

If money was no issue, I would make sure to have my own workspace away from home as well. I would use this as a base for inspiration and production, as I tend to work much better when away from the many distractions of home. In my head, I picture my ideal work space to be a light-filled large converted warehouse room with high ceilings and tall windows that let in lots of light. It would be somewhere not too far from home, perhaps a ten minute walk, so I would have no excuse not to go, and maybe situated around the corner from a cafe, where I would grab myself a mid morning coffee. The walls would be a pure white, unadorned, and the floor would be either old and worn wood flooring, or polished concrete. I picture a desk set up in front of a window, with a nice large desktop computer, as well as plenty of writing materials. I would keep this desk as organised as my current desk is at home: everything would have its place. It would be here that I would write or create or build or work on something, at my own pace and in whatever direction I felt. I would have a large inspiration wall where I would pin anything that I found inspiring i.e. posters, prints, magazine clippings etc.

 

In the middle of the space would be a big old vintage work bench table, the ones that have thin long drawers underneath to put all your bits and pieces like stationary in. I would have stools set up around it, and I can imagine it being loaded with open coffee table books, magazines and all manner of bric a brac. I imagine myself spending time pouring over a new book I bought, or simply jotting down brainstorm notes.

Spread about the space would be studio lighting and equipment, and maybe some props as well, as I would hopefully be organising photo shoots when I could.

I would try to spend as many days as I could here with the intention of experimenting, exploring and producing anything that I was inspired from. I think that would be the sum of my days, working towards being inspired and prolific. But heck, the place could be sitting empty and unused for days on end if I felt like doing something else. I think that’s what I would want from my days: the luxury of freedom and abundant time.

Every month or maybe weekend I would aim to get away with my boyfriend, and we would do little trips and adventures. I see myself taking him on trips to the countryside and driving for hours on quiet roads and stopping in sleepy country hamlets and staying in quaint B and B’s. Perhaps every few months we would go away on longer trips further afield, and go places that we would never usually be able to.

My life would be one of contemplation, exploration, experimentation and joy. I’m lucky with life as it is to have some distilled and minute form of this life I picture. I’m able to have a small fraction of what I describe above, and I’m eternally grateful that I do.

If money were no issue in your life, what would your ideal day look like?

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Uncategorized

Anxious Anxious Me.

Anxious Anxious Me.

It strikes me without warning, so completely, and without any rhyme or reason. Tension and tightness  clamps my chest, my breathing quickens and becomes faster, shallow and less able to convey oxygen into my lungs. My skin sweats and shortly perspires and clams up. My face clearly changes, as does my demeanour. Shoulders might slump. Posture diminishes as an outward sign of feeling crumpled. My confidence shatters and dives. Coworkers, friends and family can clearly see me struggling. I wish I could explain how it feels, or what I feel at this moment.

I still can’t tell you where this sense of impending anxiety comes from. It just appears out of nowhere. I can’t say why one day I feel great, alive and invigorated and yet the very next flat, barely able to do simple tasks and full of internal monologue. I wake up on days like today and my heart feels as though it’s racing, barely restrained within me. I feel paranoid, wary and on guard, despite the fact that I have done nothing wrong, and have no guilt over anything as again, I can’t think of anything that I could have possibly done to make me feel this way. Is it because of worries in life? Work problems, family issues or problems with other loved ones? Did I get this nervousness from my mother?

There’s literally no real reason for me to have this anxiety which creeps around every few months. Life for me is good. I don’t suffer from want for anything. I work in a decent job, I have a great boyfriend and can afford my rent. So there’s plenty to feel grateful for. Perhaps it’s more the fact that I self-assess constantly. Maybe my overt self-examining of life leads me to consider myself unworthy, which then leads to anxiety attacks. It might strike me in the morning when I wake up. I may have had a great, restful sleep yet regardless, wake up with a sense of dread and fear.

Fight Or Flight

An instinct for me when I do get anxious and suffer an anxiety attack no matter how minor is that base bodily instinct, hard-wired into our biology, that of ‘Fight Or Flight‘. I’ll have to decide then and there whether I can fend off these feelings and attempt to modify my thoughts, regulate breathing and simply place it out of my mind and get on with my day or simply pack it in and find the nearest exit. It’s almost like a giant lever in my mind that cuts power. Or those old brakes made of cable that would hang above passengers in old steam trains you see in old movies that would activate the brakes. During these episodes, nothing is more attractive to me than being at home in my bed with the covers over me. My bed becomes the Starship Enterprise and my doona Deflector Shields impervious to all. Nothing can get through. All I want is to disappear for the day.

In the past, during these attacks, I have physically been unable to carry on with my day. I recall one instance whilst working at my previous workplace. I would usually catch the train in the morning. On one of these days commuting to work, I got off the train at the nearest station: a busy station close to the city airport. There were people bustling about in their morning commutes, tumbling out of packed trains, piling into further full trains, and herding themselves towards the exit turnstiles. The rumble of voices and footsteps echoing the large and imposing chamber-like walls of the station. I’ll never forget this day as I filed in line and shuffled into the herd-like crowd towards the turnstiles. I decided to pull back and wait for the crowds to process through the exits.

And that’s the moment it struck. My heart began to race, my skin began to sweat. I could feel the muscles in my face tensing and transforming my relatively calm face into one of worry and fear. I could remember thinking to myself, over and over: ‘I can’t do this today. It’s not possible. I need to get out. I need my own space.’ I felt like I was in a rather bleak Haruki Murakami moment. I could either press on into the crowd and through the exit and onto work, or escape. My instincts kicked in and I chose escape. I turned myself around, pale-faced and wide-eyed, and almost without any thought, floated back to the platforms, caught the train and before I could recall, I was home.  I became a ghost and disappeared out of there. An apologetic text was sent to my work, but the truth is, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t face the day. I couldn’t be at work facing unhappy customers and mean demanding managers who misunderstood me. I needed that time to myself to have some silence and peace at home.

A part of me hates that I harp on about this subject. I know it can all be construed as something akin to whingeing and whining. I know I can come across as moody and brooding. I used to love the fact that I was seen as this. I would thrive off it. But I find confronting and writing about my ailments, problems and issues such as anxiety acts as a salve or healing agent, and these days I aim to be as open with myself as I can be. Sometimes it’s easier for me to express feelings this way as opposed to conversing. However, I always feel orders of magnitude better afterwards.

Misconception.

If there is one thing that I want to impart upon you, dear reader, is that if you do come across someone like me who visibly suffers from panic attacks or anxiety, don’t misconstrue them as being unfriendly, depressed all the time or negative. Understand that it’s not something they or myself choose to have happen. Maybe be genuine and ask if everything is alright. If that person can talk about it comfortably, let them. If not, perhaps give them some space. Let them have their time. If you manage someone who is prone to anxiety don’t be surprised or upset if they need to take a day off or leave early. If you have a friend that maybe isn’t coping with being out somewhere busy like a pub or club, don’t be surprised if they too ghost out of there. Sometimes a quiet environment and a moment of tranquility is needed. It’s just a period of time for this person to realign themselves. Just don’t think that this person is pissed off, doesn’t like you or thinks the world is out to get them.

It’s a simple thing to assume and have misconceptions. About anything, really. People, places, beliefs and ideology for instance. The concurrent thread through all of this is ignorance. Lack of information and experience creates ignorance which then bleeds contempt and misunderstanding. Whereas knowledge creates the opposite. Be kind to your wide-eyed anxious person that you know.

 

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2016, Australia, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Folly Of Nationalism.

Pride in one’s nation can be a very dangerous thing. An accident of birth determines so much of one’s circumstances, whether being born as female or male, in differing socio-economic circumstances and geographic location determines one’s life to a substantive degree.

The fact that so much human misery and destruction, both to ourselves and to this planet we inhabit is due to what is in essence tribalism and factionalism magnified in macro makes me personally deride national pride. I know this may be a very controversial point of view, but I am against national pride, patriotism and nationalism as these concepts so easily lend themselves to the politics of hate and exclusion, namely right-wing political ideologies filled with hatred and racism such as Fascism.

Being a self-identified Social Democrat, my standpoint is one of inclusion, fraternity and opportunity for all, not to mention basic human rights that should be afforded to all. REGARDLESS of skin colour, gender, age and sexuality. Universal healthcare, education and welfare support to name a few. Luckily, I live in a nation that gives me access me these things, however we are facing a crossroads, one in which we can easily begin the long downward slide into rugged individualism, economic rationalism and 100% free marketeering. The aforementioned concepts of universal healthcare, education et al should not be a source of pride, they are EXPECTATIONS to me. All in all, I don’t want us, a post-colonial nation which has suffered from so much cultural cringe as well as a lack of identity, to become something akin to a 51st state of the USA.  The political, economic and social policies and goals of the current government, a conservative economo/finance-centric one, would have us simply become a facsimile of the United States. I know the likelihood of this is slim, but I find that some political factions in this country would dearly love this country to forgo and forget its important and indelibly widespread, and far-reaching social-based policies which have helped shape us as a nation. Policies, which established by the almost hallowed yet ultimately doomed and somewhat naive Whitlam government in the early 1970’s that have really become enmeshed and a vital component and makeup in our national identity.

Mateship, a buzzword so easily thrown around in a disparaging manner, especially with regards when describing the ‘true-blue ocker Aussie identity’, to me belies the sense of humanist spirit summed up in the classic phrase ‘egalite, fraternite, liberte’. The term mateship to me has a very real cringey self-involved aspect linking to the identity of the average Australian as a sun burnt, beer swilling tradie white Aussie battler, yet we all know this is far from the reality. It to me equates far more to the crux ideal that we are all in this together, that we are all a community and that in short, we are still affected by the plights and suffering of others.  We only need to look at how we have mistreated political refugees in recent years as well as the indigenous peoples of this nation not to mention the very real lag in progress for Gay marriage to see we have a long way to go. So, due to my political ideologies which have more concurrent concerns on the state and welfare of the human being as a part of a greater community than nationalist pride, I find this question, in fact the entire concept of national pride somewhat disturbing.

Australia has had somewhat a strange and if not at times quietly turbulent history. This nation was established on the plight, plunder and suffering of the indigenous populations and peoples that inhabited this land for many an epoch before the first European man set-foot on our shores. The colonies that formed the core of what would later become Australia in 1901 were established simply due to the fact that the British required pre-eminence and predominance in every aspect of society at the time in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Competition in trade, military strength and cultural influence was fierce between the imperial powers. Colonies were established simply to deny the other colonial and imperialist powers of the day namely France and Russia a foothold on this continent. Purposeless colonies established in order to restraining other nations from gaining a piece of this incongruous continent. A somewhat strange and wasteful notion. A continent with untold mysteries and clearly very misunderstood. For decades it was believed a large inland sea bisected the continent, where unbound arable lands were to be found. A localised El Dorado, almost. Water has always been much more important than gold here. The truth was, this land was and still is harsh; unforgiving yet also beautiful and compelling in its hardness and alien nature in comparison to Western Europe.

The European policy of Terra Nullius, or ‘Empty Land’, which essentially equated the British or any other European imperialist power having right and reason to plant a flag anywhere that was not according to them inhabited [Farming, structures], meant that this land was forcibly and unjustly stolen from the indigenous tribes that very much inhabited this continent.

Add to this the penal and convict legacy of this country, as well as prevailing casual racism, the mistreatment of immigrants as well as indigenous peoples, and it makes me hard to have pride in my country of birth. In many ways I’m very lucky to be born in a nation that has afforded many including myself so many liberties and freedoms. Of course this is undeniable. A dark side of our culture has come to the fore in the past, and I’m sure will continue to flash and flare in the future. The Stolen Generations, the Cronulla riots of 2005, the plight and abject suffering of the asylum seekers and refugees of Manus Island are some examples to name a few.

No nation is perfect, no nation-state to me deserves pride and patriotism invested in it. Our governments and politicians who are the apparatus and nervous system of all nations deserve to fear their citizenry and treat them with an accordance of respect and deference, as the citizenry are the nation, not the artifice of national identity. Nations are simply lines drawn on a map, the reality is often much messier and much more prosaic and obtuse. There is never black and white, but always grey.

Yes, I know I sound like a raving rabble-rousing left-wing Marxist ideologue apparatchik but the truth is, nationalist pride for me is a very perilous concept, one that can create competition, enmity and disparity which can lead to human suffering and bloodshed.

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2016, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

The Gay Long Term Relationship.

‘You’ve been together for almost 7 years? That’s like 49 years in Gay Years’

 

Oh, the wit and banter of the online Gay scene.

Chatting to a fellow 30-something Gay guy before work, mixed in with the flirtations were general probings into each others lives. Getting to know someone online is like a game of Pong. Back and forward. As I share my Relationship Status on any Online Dating app, [I’m in an open relationship, which I will divulge the details of in another post], I find that many guys I speak to are curious about my relationship with my boyfriend. Besides the workings and machinations of us being open, the fact that yes, for a Gay couple, we have been together for what most people equate to an eon.

As it was before work, all I wanted was some simple flirtatious banter, so my mind was relatively sluggish when I read this fellow’s reaction to me having informed him that I had been with my guy for almost 7 years. My first reaction was honestly ‘why is it such a big deal?’. 

Why is it such a massively big deal for Gays to be in a long-term relationship indeed? Successful relationships in the Gay world seem either looked at in amazement like discovering the Holy Grail, or thinly veiled derision. Anyone in a long term relationship is deduced to a tittering old married couple who should simply be shut out to the rest of the Gay community due to them taking up valuable time away from single Gay men’s missions of finding a date. Many Gay men feel that relationships in general are simply for the ‘Straights’. I tried to explain my relationship as simple as I could: I love the guy, it was chance we met, we get along well and he’s as handsome as fuck.

 

‘That’s ok, I’ll find the one eventually, till then I’ll just be a slut’.  

 

…Whoa guy. Whoa. What, did you miss the OPEN part of the term ‘Open Relationship? I retorted. And why do you equate promiscuity with being single? I went on to inform this rather [in my mind] uninformed yet devilishly handsome fellow that alas, we don’t simply shut ourselves in and entertain close friends with lavish dinner parties. I’m not 65, I don’t call myself ‘discreet’ and I don’t own a house to entertain in anyways. We love going out, meeting people and experiencing life just as much as any single guy in this town. Even though we are a couple, we have independent lives from each other, and aren’t in each others pockets constantly. Some of the best nights I have is when I kick the guy out of the house so he can have his own fun and vice versa.

This was just one scenario that I have come across with respect to the perception of being Gay and in a relationship that lasts longer than a few months. There is a definite sentiment from many Gays that Gay men are not built for stable relationships. Like installing an .exe file on a Mac, that shit just ain’t gunna work. For many, that stereotype of the drama-magnet, sex fiend yet conversely always pining for a relationship Gay man appears to be the status quo. Which is obviously beyond untrue. BEYOND. However, I can’t help but get my Carrie Bradshaw on and think:

‘Are Gay men intended as a community to be simply promiscuous and unable to maintain a stable relationship? Are most of us simply hard-wired and destined for singledom? Are expectations for many just too high? Should we be setting our own rules and standards for relationships? Do some of us believe the myth and stereotype of Gay men being randy and salacious creatures who only live for the next fuck?’ Cue me in a well-appointed New York flat with frizzy hair, dark roots showing, a cigarette in hand and clacking my fingers on the keyboard of an old Mac laptop ala Sex And The City c 1998.

Many of us want the Chris Hemworths, Paul Walkers and Zac Efrons of the world with their perfectly chiselled features and bodies, however that ideal for most is unattainable. I’m nowhere as pleasing on the eye as any of them, at best I’m a 7 if I’ve had a good sleep, but for me when I was single the one thing I longed for was affection above anything else. Looks came in second. Yes, a very close second but second none the less. Not saying that my guy is a troll either, he stole my heart with his looks as well as charm.

Yet after years with the boyf, I don’t go around acting like a long term relationship is a badge of honour or something like levelling up in an MMORPG game like World Of Warcraft. Simply put I’m extremely lucky to be with someone who loves me as much as I love him. I know, hard to believe huh. It can feel like I’m an alien or an anomaly when I tell people I have just met about the length of my relationship. I see their eyes widen, the look of amazement as though I have told them that my penis is 15 inches long and shoots rainbow-coloured cum. Is it because Gay men in long-term relationships are viewed as something that happens decades after the heady party-fuelled 20’s are over? Are we meant to party our youth away then couple once we turn 40? At times, I have hesitated informing people of the length of my relationship mainly because I don’t want to go through this whole rigmarole of a scenario. Of course however, many if not most people are genuinely impressed and happy for us, and we unintentionally can come across as the LTR Gay Poster Couple.

We have our ups and downs just like anyone else. We fight and carry on like everyone else. Ie the Great Ham Fight of ’15. The difference is that we both want to work at any problems we have with each other, as I know it’s worth sticking together for. All in all, my life with my boyfriend is all the richer for it. We make our own rules, we defy any sort of compartmentalising of life and relationship status. To those who look down on LGBTIQ couples, I can only say that it saddens me, as my life is just as vibrant and the equal to that of the next guy.

 

 

 

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2016, Gayblog, Life, Thoughts

5 Ways I Combat Depression.

 

Life for me is a constant act of coming out. Major life events crescendo with me ‘coming-out’ about something, processing it and growing from it.

The act of disclosing something to which you personally are affected; something which is up until that point such a large looming aspect of your life can be so very liberating and self-reflective and cathartic. I’ve become a big progenitor and believer in the old adage: ‘Better Out Than In’.

 

So What Does This Have To Do With Me?

 

Life is a constant revision, re-edit and reinvention. A state of flux and change, and release and changes tends to happen when I ‘spill the beans’ as it were. I inform friends, my loved ones, family and in fact anyone connected to me. I will talk to them about my problem. The act of doing this, or ‘coming out’ has always lead to such an amazing and positive outcome. So what are some instances this has happened in my life?

I’ve had two big ‘coming-outs’ so far in my life:

Coming out as a Gay man for one. This was an obviously major life-altering event in my life, which changed things in my world for the better. I was suffering terribly before this, and it took years of coaxing from friends to be comfortable enough with myself to proclaim to my world that I was gay. ‘Duh’ said all the friends in my life at the time, but it was an indescribably difficult thing for me to acknowledge my homosexuality at the time in my early twenties.

The second, and most recent, was my opening up about my mental health, and specifically informing one and all that I have had a long and difficult relationship with Depression. This in some ways was far more confronting than coming out as Gay. As controversial as this sounds, my life with Depression was far more intimate. It felt far more taboo to talk about, less dialogue about mental health or resources were available and it made me feel as though this was a subject best left unspoken about. I spent years therefore suffering and coping alone with the hopes that self medication would work.

Since opening up about my very personal relationship with Depression, and posting about it online, I’ve received so much support, as well as empathy. It’s amazing how many people out there, close friends or complete strangers, have opened up to me about their life with Depression, or people they know suffering with it.

One thing I find most intriguing and glaring is that more people than I realised suffered from Depression. Not to mention how so many individuals found it difficult to speak about this problem. It’s unseen, invisible and can be deadly.

Nowadays, when I come across someone who I can tell is having problems or opens up to me about it, I naturally feel a compulsion to help in any way possible, whether it be an ear to speak to, a shoulder to cry on or for some simple and hopefully helpful advice. I’ve also found that more and more people want to speak to me about it, and what I’ve done and still do to combat it. Hence why I wanted to write this post.

For me, Depression is something akin to fighting a long, difficult war. Every lapse into a black mood is like a battle. There are two sides, the light and the dark. The positive and negative. Yes its cliche but its the most simplified way I can summarise it. For some people it’s different, however this is how it has been for me:

Every evening before bed, or morning when I wake up, it takes an effort to fend off a skirmish of negativity and pessimism. I believe our thoughts create our life, our relationships, jobs/careers, friendships and our general attitude.

Recently after attending Psychology sessions, it turned out I was right. Our mind is composed of two parts: one side rational, thoughtful and able to make reason and logic. The other far more elemental, experience-based and rigid. Our lives are based on those experiences our elemental side of our minds react to. If most experiences are negative, then our outlook becomes negative. That very negativity has created a cage which is very difficult to unlock and escape from. It’s up to ourselves to change this and break out of the cage. Again, Everyone is different, and it takes different measures and combinations of actions for different people. But hey, it’s worth breaking out of that invisible cage.

I see others I may know who obviously suffer from Depression, yet are unable to talk and open and process it with anyone. I see that they become wound-up like a rubber band ready to snap, that there are so many inhibitions and denial which transforms into a blockage that prevents any form of dialogue to help release. It is something terrifying to open up about it. So I decided to write this post.

Again, everyone is different, but here are 5 ways, or more aptly, 5 weapons I use to combat depression.

Continue reading

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2015, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Why Do I write?

‘Write About What You Know’

 

Simple words in a simple statement. Told to me by my at times daunting Year 11 English teacher; the incomparable Mrs Rawle. A woman in her forties, with an early 1980’s feathered pixie haircut, [think Princess Di in 1983], who had a preference for long , tasteful yet drab woollen skirts, tweed blazer jackets and peach-coloured blouses. Her sternness, discipline and voice of authority is something that I’ll never forget. Her finely elegant Cultivated Australian accent would not have been out-of-place were she a news presenter on the ABC. This was no woman to take lightly. Or to upset, or not take seriously. I still recall when we had a book review assessment she was not too happy I chose to review Star Wars: Spectre Of The Past. I mean, hey, how could I help myself, it was about the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn! She had a Christianne Amanpour thing happening, and she scared the shit and bejesus out of me when we had her for Advanced English in my final form. Her word was law. She was Mrs Rawle. Her voice had a drawl.

An example of when she used ‘The Voice’, as I like to call it, she would inform us that no no no, ‘Text Types Were The Flavour Of The Month’, and that indeed, Genres were here to stay. I still recall one of my supremely intelligent classmates [who I think is an astrophysicist or some such other intimidating occupation that requires boundless brain ‘grey-matter’] imitating her low Soprano drawl impeccably. So, the one thing after all these years I took from her was that statement, ‘Write About What You Know.’

These words have echoed in my mind recently, as I wonder why I continue to write this blog. Why do I bother? Why do I write at all? Does anyone read what I write and take anything from it for themselves? Far from being the most eloquent wordsmith around, [that honour goes to the impeccable and incomparable Nic Holas, a creature of the divine who I wish I could emulate a fraction of] I continually feel as though my writing leaves a lot to be desired, is unpolished, rough and requires consistent re-editing. Which then spirals into a cycle of self-wallowing and not being productive. And eating many Maxibons. And not knuckling down and writing. So why do I indeed bother?

 

I’ve been feeling somewhat flat, and very self-reflective of late. Hence the lack of posts. It must have something to do with the fact that I continually and endlessly self-evaluate and assess myself on an almost daily basis. Crap job. Check. Minimal amounts of money coming into my bank account. Check. I feel as though the clock inside me is ticking inexorably, and that the hands and seconds are gradually speeding up. Minute by minute, second by second, I instinctively can sense the great gaping yaw of the remainder of my life calling, and from where I sit now it’s gloomy, misty and has some more Graveyard style clichés such as cobwebs and skeletons. It’s such a ridiculous First World problem. I have a secure job, a loving partner and a roof over my head. I guess it just comes back to the more and more common fact that Western culture is facing an identity/prosperity crisis. Call it an add-on effect of being over thirty and having little to no career prospects, this being my main worry in life which is turning hairs grey, adding lines to my face etc. Not to mention the life-talks with my dad which seem to be occurring on a more and more regular basis. According to him I need to move to China and focus on Photography there. Regardless of the fact all I would have to go on in Mandarin is what I learned in Year 8.

I just feel like I’m running out of time, and that now is the place and moment for me to work. Work towards something. Anything at all. I feel the compulsion to write as I want to contribute, and create something bigger than myself. And yes, maybe some form of recognition for something.

Once upon a time in my younger days I used to fantasise about joining the Army. Not for any particular reason, although men in uniform are a major turn-on but purely for the pleasure and longing to belong. To belong to an organised structure where I know my place; my objectives, have clear orders and know that in my own small part I could be contributing positively and productively to society. My dad, being a conscript Paratrooper in the Italian Army in the 1960’s imbued the positives of Army life into me as a youngster. He had so many stories to tell, and always ended his Army-days stories with a final conclusion such as ‘the Army is a good place to learn and gain experience’. This brings me back to my earlier point that today, we don’t have a notion of ‘knowing our station’ in life, and being simply content. Some excel at making waves in their lives. I don’t know if this is something inherent to one’s personality, or if it is gained through making experiences and inevitably, mistakes. He Who Dares Wins is an old saying that comes to mind.

Others are merely content to drift.

So why do I write at all? What is it that drives me to punch these words into my keyboard? I write as I don’t want to be a drifter. I don’t simply want the waves of life to direct me where it will with little or no direction, rudderless and aimless. I don’t want my life to be a series of storms interspersing long periods of uneventful calm.

I feel as though I never try just hard enough, I never put just the right amount of effort into anything to make it last and have an impact on others. Perhaps it is recognition that I crave. Perhaps I seek validation through others, and interaction with those who read my posts. I want to know that what I write has some lasting effect on one other person. This is for you.

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2015, Life, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts

The Secret Life Of My Parents

 

Last year I had a mission put forward to me by my boyfriend, who wanted pictures of me as a kid and teenager for a slideshow for my thirtieth birthday back in February 2014. He wanted me to go get as many images of me as I could find.

Which of course proved to be somewhat difficult, as I’m part of a family where the term ‘family’ is a basic and somewhat ill-defined construct to describe what we are. I love my sister and parents, but a more loose-knit, independent ‘family’ couldn’t be found anywhere. It’s almost like we all just got lumped together by fate. Maybe it’s because my parents divorced in my early 20’s and before that were constantly feuding; maybe it’s because we all ended up becoming such fiercely independent people who had less and less need for close familial relationships. I’m not sure.

So in the end, nary a picture of me was to be found anywhere. It seems like the era before Facebook and smartphones has become some new ersatz pre-historic epoch without pictures, as a single image of me from the ages of 2 to 16 proved to be quite elusive to track down. Add to the fact that my mum left our family home when my parents divorced with essentially whatever she could carry, as well as the fact that my dad is quite possibly the messiest, chaotic and unorganised fellow I know means that there is a giant gaping maw of a black hole that’s swallowed any and all visual representation of us as a family. I look to my boyfriends family with pangs of jealousy and envy, as they have recorded so much of their lives together. Pictures inhabit dozens of photo albums, shoeboxes and tidy frames upon lintels or walls. Videos of recorded adventures and family gatherings lay neatly stacked in drawers and shelves. They love nothing more than taking pictures of each other, recording holidays and special events and sharing their lives. Why was my family so different, and so riven by secrecy, distance and division?

D-Day arrived as I took the train from Urbane Inner-City Redfern to Mundane Suburban Rhodes, a little slither of a suburb on a peninsula on the very edge of Sydney’s Inner West. This is the almost Stepfordish pleasant suburb where I spent my formative teenage years and early twenties, back in the golden heyday of the late nineties and early noughties. I stepped off the train, to the much improved train station compared to those heady days, walked up the quiet road, and through the forlorn looking iron gates of my dad’s large unkempt and rambling home, and dove right into the back ‘shed’, which resembles more a Italianiate granny flat in the back yard than an actual shed. What can I say, the Tuscan look was big in the late nineties. There I found photo album after photo album squirrelled away in this shed, the interior of which resembled a possible future archeological dig. Cobwebs, dust, dirt and a general patina of age clung to every single thing. EVERY SINGLE THING. It was like a macro version of a time capsule. Here were the remnants of my former life as part of a Nuclear Family. The leftovers and artefacts of a different time. It’s interesting how in life some of us have these distinct phases and eras, yet others have a long and continual link to the past. It was like a bomb had scattered us all into oblivion, leaving behind the detritus and remains of what once was: familial bonds, stability, a once positive vision of the future. All turned to junk and miasma.

I spent some time trawling through this wreckage, scouring the Mount Everest-sized mountains of junk to find every shred of visual records my family had. I repaired back to the house’s expansive lounge room, dumped the albums on the ridiculously ornate mahogany dining table that my dad insisted on buying when I was a kid and took a little sojourn into the past.

What I found in short is that my parents had a secret life. Like me they were once young. Like me they went on trips, went out, had jobs and careers, and generally had adventures. I feel like my dad especially led this elusively cool life before my sister and I came along. It felt like the images I discovered had become a portal that is indecipherably impossible to open and peer through, and the only way to have a peek is through the broken shards in the shape of the photographs, dockets, old airline tickets from now defunct airlines and general miscellanea that this guy kept.

I found pictures of my dad in what had to have been Papua New Guinea in the 1970’s where he worked in the copper mines. Pictures of him in London in 1969 with a cinema behind him, signs promoting ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ helping create a zeitgeist of an image. Kids with shaggy hair, thongs and wearing bell-bottom jeans smoking cigarettes on the step of an old corner shop in what had to have been the now otherworldy Sydney of the 1970’s. Pictures of my dad’s friends in Papua swimming and enjoying themselves on the beach; a pre ‘globalised’, much simpler skyline of Sydney with no Centrepoint Tower or few skyscrapers in sight. My mum in a full beehive do and gorgeously retro white mini-shift dress at her first job at a pharmacist where my parents first met. Was that the first day they met? I’ll never know.

In the vantage point of what I always thought of as ‘The Future’, [being anytime after the year 2000], the past and almost secret lives of my parents are akin to a Tolkien-like history steeped in a localised mythology abound in stories, parables and tales. That old film ‘Big Fish’ with Ewan McGregor springs to mind, as like Ewan McGregor’s character, my dad always had these grand tales that stuck in my mind. Always colourful and vivid, these tales were a part of my childhood, and my sister and I would always want to hear more. He had so many stories and fables to share with us about his life as well as his family, and a mythology grew up around these stories, much like in Big Fish.

Some stories that spring to my mind include the time when he was in the Italian Army as a Paratrooper, and once almost died when he jumped out of the plane on training exercises, only to land in a swamp outside Naples, to which a Neaopolitan fisherman just happened by and found him.

The story about him as a kid being bundled off to a rather third-rate church-run Summer Camp, only to have one pair of underwear and set of clothes the whole time due to his family being so miserably poor.

Or the story about how my grandmother used to have to hide relatives who were members of the Communist underground in her house from the Germans during World War 2.

The stories about his adventures in Papua New Guinea and Bouganville, where he worked as a young lad in the copper mines. Recounting this he would conjure up images of a younger moustachio’d shag-haired version of himself in PNG on the run from native tribes because he mistranslated a word wrongly in Pigin, or about life in Port Moresby.

Or the stories about his early days after arriving in Sydney in the early 1970’s, and how the place was so very different to what it would become. An instant classic is his tale about him having just arrived, [replete with his uber-mod Italian sensibilities and wardrobe], and literally being picked up off the street by two Australian girls who saw this young guy on the street when they were driving past and decided to simply get him in their car for God knows what.

He always left this lasting impression to us about the past being a colourful, vibrant place of nostalgia and naive innocence, as well as the ills and woes of life for an Italian in early 1970’s Australia. I’ll go meet dad out and his friends at a cafe and share espresso after espresso and listen to them recount stories of life in the early 1970’s, and how easy and great it was back then. One of them recently stated with a gleam in his eye that life was good and simple back then. There is so much nostalgia and romanticism bound in these stories of past times. These stories and pictures tie in with that ‘Australia-that-once-was’, as I call it; an almost mythical place inhabited by larger than life people, led by larger-than-life politicians [Gough Whitlam for one], a world filled with corner shops selling ice blocks and cigarettes to kids on a searingly hot Summer day where the roads would literally melt in the sun, a world with pubs filled with larrikins at every corner, of the sun beating down on the empty streets in Summer heat and no-where to escape. A place where these kind of adventures occur. A city and country on the tipping point of great change seeps through the fibres of these pictures that I found, as well as for my part a strange sense of longing and loss. All these images and stories transport me to those places in another time and place for a split second. A part of me is melancholic for not being a part of that world, or for experiencing life as it was then, tasting the food, speaking to the people, being out in the sun. I wish I could have met my parents back then, to see the people they were, and the lives they led.

Dad has made it that way, with his recounting of that time and place being akin to another world. A world that somehow exists at right-angles to the one we live in now, only visible in a few places for a fraction of a fraction of a moment. I wish I could step into these pictures and immerse myself into this past world which I feel still exists.

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