Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Life’s Conflicts.

The biggest conflict in my life today is my job situation, or currently lack thereof. In more of an expanded sense, I have a conflict of identity and purpose.

 

I simply don’t know what I want to do with my life.

 

I don’t know what I am talented at. I don’t know what I enjoy doing which could bring me some prosperity in my life.

 

I look on to those who have had a clear sense of purpose in regards to their career and what they want to do with their life, and I feel an acute sense of envy. And that sucks. Envy is such a debilitating thing. I try my best to let it wash over me like a wave, or if I see the wave of envy coming toward me, I’ll dive under it, pass through, let it go over me, and I’ll rise back up, unaffected.

 

I wish I was that person who studied hard from an early age and knew they wanted to study law or medicine for instance. They may have had this in their mind from perhaps age ten upwards, and kept this goal, studied hard and maybe forewent all the things that make adolescence a little bit fun [sex drugs rock n roll and all that], and instead kept their heads down and made it, and became what they worked hard at doing.

 

I also wish I was that person who wasn’t academically inclined, always struggled at school from a young age, graduated and fell into a trade, and now have burgeoning and successful businesses which means they get to enjoy their lives and not worry about things like money and rent.

 

Right now, I just don’t know what I have to offer to anyone. I really don’t.

 

And it’s been something that has plagued me for over a decade and a half since I graduated school.

 

I used to think I wanted to be a photographer. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the creativity of it, the fact that I was world-building. Fusing a story and narrative and weaving them into something marvellous. Creating something from my mind’s eye into reality was the core of what I absolutely loved about photography.

 

It was this act of creation that pulled me towards this art, and what made me fell in love.

 

Somewhere along the way, however, I lost this passion. I lost the love. It slowly faded and died, turning into a dry husk of what was once vibrant and alive. I turned my back on this art form, bitter and let down, both by my own failures at it, and the fact that it just wasn’t appearing to work out for me.

 

Each new shoot became less fun. Each time haggling with clients over pay became less fun. Receiving less and less money from clients became less fun, as was the expectations in terms of ever-increasing workload. Exposure for the work we did slowly became the industry standard, and I hated it.

 

I get saddened over the fact that I lost this great love I once had. I really don’t think I’ll get it back. I’ve had seven months worth of time here in San Francisco to start shooting portraits, yet inevitably I’m drawn away elsewhere. Why is this? Maybe it’s that venomous interior that I sense when I equate my photography past to present. Perhaps I just don’t enjoy it all.

 

So, here I am in the unenviable position of being 34, not qualified for much at all, and unsure as to what I should be doing. Or what I want to be doing. I’m extremely lucky to be able to live in a vibrant place such as San Francisco, and have the opportunity to move here from home [I remind myself of this daily], and I’m the first to say I’m privileged to be able to live in this country due to my nationality, and the hard work of my husband, who through his determination and sheer talent, has meant we are here.

The fact is however, I feel like a bit of a transparent ghost sometimes. Drifting in and out. Haunting spaces in an in-between dimension of purgatory, with no real purpose.

 

What do I do? Which direction is good for me, and something that will bring me some kind of career and prosperity? Do I try to seriously pursue my writing? Do I try to revive from the proverbial dead my photography?

Do I keep applying for those mediocre crappy jobs that I know I won’t enjoy and don’t get any response to anyway, yet would bring that much-needed money in?

 

I definitely sense that I’m in a rut. That I’m simply running on neutral, and spinning the wheel.

 

I hate that I’m always in this situation, and I know it concerns the other half. I get scared about it. I tend to worry a fair bit about it, and this overpowers my drive to search out new work or pin down what I should be doing here in this town, and with my life.

I don’t want to miss out on enjoying life here and seeing this great country and travelling. I don’t want to feel like a failure and disappointment to myself anymore.

 

This is the biggest conflict in my life today. Yet, I still know something great will be around the corner, and this faint light of hope and faith in the future, and myself, is what keeps me going.

 

 

What’s the biggest conflict in your life today?

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2018, America, Opinion, Thoughts

Media Deprivation

This week, as part of my Artist’s Way book course, [which is a self-guided course in creative rejuvenation and recovery], I underwent what is termed as a ‘Media Deprivation’ week.

Media Deprivation could be thought of as the ‘Digital Detox’s’ cousin; similar in many respects, with similar aims and justifications for what they do, but with a slight difference in each.

So what is a Media Deprivation, you may ask?

It’s any stretch of time without any taking in of media of any sort. Kinda like a fast for your mind.

So, no reading. At all.

This is the big point that the author makes. She wants us all to stop taking in information and consuming, and start producing. Instead of reading a novel, she would have us write instead. Or paint, or jog or exercise, take up a class in language, etc. And no news means having to actually get your information from a person, not a newspaper, website or social media site, with the hopes of re-engaging with live people.

No tv, no films, no visual media at all.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. I was feeling quite apprehensive. To me, all of these things are so important to most, if not all of us. Many of us rely upon social media for their livelihood, not to mention keeping in touch with loved ones and family, and most of all, for entertainment.

Believe me, I love nothing more than spending hours on Youtube watching anything and everything or wasting time on Facebook and Twitter.

And, at this point of view after having completed this Media Deprivation week, I see that I personally waste so much time on these things, not getting up to much at all.

 

So, how was it?

 

I hated it. At least at the start. The first 2 or so days felt as though I had been crushed by an anvil and deflated of any sort of emotion besides panic and boredom. I didn’t know what to do with myself besides continue on with my job hunt, write and journal, or go out for walks about town and sit in parks with my trusty journal or camera.

I felt resentful. I felt downcast and frustrated as well as panicked in those first few days. I could sense my mood darkening as I struggled to make sense of what I was to do with myself to occupy my time, and more importantly, my mind.

But, after this initial period of confusion, I did begin to notice some change. As I grew to accept the fact that I couldn’t simply google something I didn’t know, I would jot it down on a piece of paper to ask my husband when he got home. We would sit and talk, and he would look things up or inform me of things going on.

I couldn’t sit around and waste time on Youtube, so I wrote instead. It became easier for me to sit down and just start writing or typing. Anything. It didn’t have to be of any magnitude. It didn’t have to be Shakespearean prose. I just had to get writing. I began to think, ‘well, if I can’t read, I may as well be writing something’.

I noticed that my conversations with people became slightly more enriched, as I wasn’t constantly reaching for my phone and being distracted by it and its constant notifications. I was able to look people in the eye with clarity and not look away in shyness.

I felt lighter and a touch better about myself as I wasn’t going on dating apps or on Insta, with its endless parade of gorgeous gay men to make my spirits deflate.

By Wednesday I felt almost giddy as I got dressed and went to perform at the opera that night. A lightness came over me, as though I could do anything, as I skateboarded up to the grand old SF Opera house.

In the dressing room, where I would usually be stuck on my phone waiting for the call to head up on stage to perform, I instead sat there and just took it all in. The way the room looked, the heat of it as it was underground and stuffy, the fantastic costumes sitting on their racks, the din of my fellow supernumerary extras chatting away. All minor details that I may have missed, and that soon enough I would as it was my second last performance. I thought that I may never be back here so be sure to take it all in now.

I spoke to one of my compatriots, who upon asking me how I was, I responded with my being on a media deprivation week and it being a challenge. His eyes lit up and he made note that my attention and spirits seemed far more present than usual, as he noticed that I tended to be on my phone quite a bit.

We chatted briefly upon the merits of media deprivation and digital detoxes as means for clearing out the mind and helping one be aware of their usage of social media, and the repercussions thereof. He too had done some similar work and found it to be challenging yet engaging and of worth.

The next night, I attended my very first Baseball game.

I felt exhilarated and most importantly at all, present. The lights somehow shined brighter, the colours appeared far more vivid and the noise of the crowds heightened.

 

By the weekend, [which was San Francisco Pride], I felt pretty great. I’d not been on Facebook or Twitter the whole week and felt no compunction to check back in, I kept my checking on emails to a minimum and I had logged out of the apps; I enjoyed a weekend of sipping beers in sunny, packed with people Dolores park with friends; attending the Trans march, and dancing the night away.

 

The lesson that I learned from this week was that we have killed collectively the idea of ‘boredom.’.

 

We are always stimulated, much of the time overly, if not terminally, so.

We are bombarded every day, every moment from when we wake to when we sleep with imagery, sounds, visuals and new fads and memes and celebrity gossip and bad news over and over in wave after wave.

 

It feels like some kind of dystopian sci-fi nightmare sometimes. I often wonder what someone from any point up to the early 1990’s would make and think of our world today, and how we are quite addicted to social media.

Just slightly jiggling out of this all for just even a week was like taking a great big breath of fresh mountain air.

It has made me aware of how I consume and use media, specifically social media. Of how much time I waste there, how much of my life is there, and how it has caused the death of boredom. Of how neglectful I can be of interpersonal relationships.

 

Believe me, I know I won’t get rid of social media for a very long time, if at all. It is all something we do really need, and it has made our lives all the better in many ways.

 

Perhaps I’ll make it a more prolonged experience in future.

 

Still, I recall as a kid mum always saying ‘only boring people are boring’. She was kind of right, as I would always go back to my mainstays of reading or playing with lego or going bike riding down the park back in those pre-internet days of the early 1990’s. The point was, I always managed to find something to occupy my time without just simply consuming passively.

 

This last week, I found boredom to be a good thing.

It got myself busy, it got me to be more productive, thoughtful and importantly, social with everyone I came in contact with.

 

It helped me to see life a little more clearer, and to be a bit mindful of how I use all of this technology, as we’re all people underneath this shroud of social media, and I feel we are easy to forget this.

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2018, America, Gay, Gayblog

6 months later…

It’s been six months since we moved here to the US, and this past week I’ve felt really up and down. I guess as we’ve reached that six month mark I can;t help but reflect, and as humans we tend to frame our lives through measurements of time.

I’ve felt up as the weather is becoming great; the sky is clearer, the sun is out and little by little there seems to be a bit of warmth in the air. Not much as yes, this is San Francisco, and as I continually get educated by the locals, there is no Summer here. Again and again I seem to be told this.

However, Spring slowly seems to be encroaching upon us, little feelers slowly creep in. A flower blooms in the park, a leaf grows on a tree outside our flat in the drab back alley.

The seasons are changing, and its a good thing to see. We came to San Francisco right in the middle of a blustery and grey Winter. It really did seem to colour our time here initially. I can see that in hindsight. We can learn so much from looking back, and looking back to our first couple months here, I see that we really did struggle.

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like, had we moved here at this time of the year, or perhaps in the middle of Summer, when everything is at its heightened best, and more things are happening. Perhaps we would’ve dealt with the change of moving countries much better than we did, perhaps not. All I know is that we moved at a particularly tough time, and now that the seasons are changing, my mood is perceptibly far loftier.

On the other side of things, I’ve felt a bit down as I still feel a bit purposeless here, having been waiting for my EAD which is a document which allows me to work here in the US to come through which took months.

However, that brings me to another stumbling block: I’m unsure of what I should do here, what job I should go after, and what it’ll be like to work here. I’ve now been out of work for almost six months so its going to be tough to readjust. I’m genuinely quite anxious about this. But, I will deal with it when I get to this.

The other big thing is I’ve also started as a volunteer extra in the opera. Which is fucking mental to be honest. I never thought I would be an on-stage extra in a professional production. I’m literally acting and running and even tumbling around on stage with professional opera singers, decked out in costumes. Crazy. As is the giant blue bruise featured on my right butt cheek from all the tumbling.

Doing something like going to an audition on a whim and getting it, and being a part of an opera is something so unlike me to do. I have never acted in my life. I’ve really tried my best to say yes more the last few months. I do this in order to grow and to experience as much in this town as I can. I’ve tried my hardest to get out and experience more and not hole myself in my flat too much. Although I still have days where I do just that.

I’m really glad I took a chance and applied to audition for the opera. It is something so unlike me that the Sydney version of me would never have done. I’m happy I didn’t just pike out and not turn up like the voice in my head was telling me to do on the day of the audition.

And that’s the thing really. This whole endeavor of moving here to the US has taught me that I need to consciously rally against that negative persona that sometimes comes to the fore in my mind. I have to willingly and purposefully fight against it, tell it to quiet down, and do the opposite of what it says. Otherwise I won’t get to do anything fun, and I’ll just be forever more in my comfort zone and miss out on so much.

The last six months have been so full of ups and downs. I’ve missed my home and family and loved ones; I’ve grappled with coming to a new country and city as well as the tasks of building a new home, a new life here.

Looking back, I start to see that I’ve done a great job of it. It has been a monumental task, but I can truly say I’ve made the most of it.

I sometimes feel like it’s almost like a strategy game that I’m playing. Like Civilization. I start with a small town, and after a while it grows and expands. Our little home here is like that. It’s a bit small now but it’ll grow month after month.

Our life here is like that. Right now it may be on the smaller side, but I know with each month as we become more established, it’ll grow more and more.

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2018, America

Defining Success.

‘What is success?’

 

The daily writing page I’m signed up on which I try to write daily for, asked.

Plain and simple. No messing about here. Just what is success. This is something that I think constantly on.

 

Is success having a fantastic career that provides money, a home, a car, those things which we are all indoctrinated to believe we want?

Is it something more esoteric like validation and acclaim from your peers and contemporaries?

What is this thing that some of us have, yet others [including myself] never seem to manifest?

In my life, I feel as though the concept of ‘success’ is something that is forever slipping through my fingers, unobtainable and elusive. Something so close yet so difficult to grasp.

I have always viewed success as being something linked with prosperity. As though they naturally go hand in hand. A relationship that is symbiotic and dependent upon one another. Success begets prosperity, as well as the other way round. Or does it? Can one prosper without success? Without money?

These days, it’s difficult for me to feel that I have success in my life. To convince myself. Here I am, jobless and in a new country. Away from friends, family, all those whom I love and miss. Not to mention that everything is done differently. I have to adapt and relearn life as it were. Finding and making new friends and connections, which is usually a challenge in itself for me has become even more so the case. Readjusting and thriving has been my top priority. And its been a turbulent fucker, let me tell you.

I know that many others out there may classify the concept and terminology of ‘success’ in a different subset of ideals; swap out monetary gain and career advancement for headspace self-helpy concepts of wellness, mental health and relationships.

Is it healthy, to re-categorise the idea of success as being not necessarily prosperity and attainment of status and wealth, but to a place of your immediate and close life: how well you manage a relationship, how well your life is with your loved ones, friends, coworker etc?

A part of me feels that this is somewhat naive.

Perhaps I’ve become more jaded in life. Is it because I’ve never experienced what my ideal of success is, being money/career/prosperity?

The tenets of this rather new-agey paradigm of success to me right now unfortunately has the smack of anathema to me. As though this line of thought is simply a salve to sooth a troubled mind like mine who constantly thinks on this very subject. Is it a cop-out to think this, or is it somewhat constructive and good for the soul?

 

I’m of two minds about this.

 

One the one side, success shouldn’t be so simply aligned and synonymously linked with the idea of prosperity and monetary gain and status. It should feel more well-rounded. A mother or father who stays home raising a child who would grow to become a good, kind-hearted person should be regarded as a ‘success.’ Being a stay at home parent is not an easy task. I can only imagine the challenges and difficulty that lay with this work.

Working and improving your mental health is also something that I see as a measure of ‘success.’ This has become such an important part of many of our lives. My own included. With the onrush and rise of the whole idea of wellness culture especially so in the last few years.

At times when I think of this, I recall Kate Winslet’s character in Titanic [don’t hate on me for referencing Titanic please], after she survives the ship and moves on with her life. The camera pans across frames of her doing all sort of stuff. Why she thought to bring them on a research vessel not withstanding, it showed her getting up to all sorts of rad stuff: horseriding, posing with a cool plane, at a beach with friends and looking hot in an old timey Hollywood portrait.

Clearly it was all a device to display how full her life was, and how her not choosing to go with the rich arsehole, she built this life that was clearly fulfilling on her own.

What would those pictures have looked like had she choose to go with Mr Punchable Face’s character, who may have given her a life of luxury and ease, yet detested and belittled her?

 

I sometimes wonder how many people out there who have the money, the careers and status might look at someone like me who has none of this, yet wish for a relationship like mine, for instance.

On the other side, I feel that it can be naive to think on success in such a simplistic manner. I feel as though this thread above is what I’ve been told by others, that career and money is not the end point of what we traditionally regard as success.

The unfortunate thing is, alas, we don’t live in a society that seems to view ones’ life worth in terms of success as how well a relationship goes, how good a parent one is, or how well one is doing with their mental health.

Capitalism sure does have its fucked up features.

I could be the perennial Red leftie that I was and start a spiel on how an economic system ie Capitalism destroys people’s very lives and wellbeing, and places ones worth solely on their monetary intake, but I’m not going to do that today.

The days of my university demonstrations, ardent leftie essays espousing the virtues of Socialism in the modern world and the need for it, are long gone. Not to say I have given up. I still dearly believe in left-wing politics. More the acknowledgement that the system we live and work and breathe in is not going to go away, at least not for a very long time.

This side of me thinks that it is rather simplistic and unworldly to believe that success can be more than money and status. Unfortunately, it is something that those of us that do not have, tell ourselves in order to feel better about our lives.

I sincerely do want the career, the recognition, and yes, the money. Not as a means in itself but rather so I can have a great life with my husband and not worry.

And that’s my issue with success. The pain, the worrying, the pressure that maybe I put on myself far too much. The expectations of my parents as a kid and adolescent, and their subsequent disappointment in me not reaching my potential. Am I exerting this pressure on myself? Is this more in my head than out there in society?

We are truly a generation weaned on the belief that we could do anything we wanted. Yet the hard truth is, indelibly, we cannot. Success is something that yes is attainable, but not perhaps, for each and every one of us.

What then, is success for you?

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Books to read in 2018

It’s a new year which means a time of renewal, growth and determining things like goals and objectives and what you want to get out of life for the next year.

As part of this idea of growth, I wanted to share some books that I have read or re-read in the last year or so, and for whatever reason stood out for me as share-worthy. These are all books that for different reasons piqued my interest. Some are based firmly in the real world and speak on concepts, issues and themes that are quite serious yet still great reads. Others are less serious and far more whimsical, imaginative and fun to read, as well as works of sci-fi or fantasy, and even one special book I rediscovered that was once my favourite book to read when I was a child, which I recently re-read.

Note: click on the image on the books, which will take you to Goodreads for more reviews and info. 

 

My Life In France, Julia Child.

 

If you’re unaware of who Julia Child is, the book My Life In France is a great intro to someone whose passion, grit and determination was an inspiration not just for me, but for countless others. The first reference to Julia Childs for me was the film Julie and Julia, which I feel this book lies adjacent to.

An autobiographical account of Julia Child’s [well-known American chef who specialized in French cooking and was the first to create a cookbook intended for home cookery] years in France with her husband, this book was introduced and gifted to me by a friend and fellow avid reader who espoused how relatable, enthralling and simply fun this book was to read.

I felt as though I was sitting at a French restaurant in the 1950’s with the grande dame of the culinary world herself, as she meticulously and juicily describes every detail of so many meals eaten in fine restaurants, as well as adventures she partook; from the start of their move in Paris, to studying cookery at the world-famous Cordon Bleu school in Paris and her subsequent rise in fame and recognition.

This book proved to be such an inspiration for me. Reading this one woman’s recounts of her life in that beautiful country helped me in turn better accept and thrive on the fact that I too, like her, moved overseas with a husband for his career. It was just something nice to read, with her making friends with locals, divulging secrets and skills required for cooking, as well as her struggles with finding an identity and purpose for her life.

I really loved reading this book, and I can always tell when a book is not just good but great, when it feels as though you only just started when you reach the final page.

 

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

 

This soon to be released film adaptation captured my imagination immediately. I was again recommended to read this book by a friend who knew me well, and said to me this book has all the things you love in it: namely, 1980’s cultural references, and science fiction and fantasy elements.

I wanted to read Ready Player One for years, it was admittedly a case of judging a book by its cover; which I LOVED but had never gotten around to it as it were.

The book tells the story of Wade Watts, a denizen of the dystopic world of 2044 USA: standards of living are in sharp decline due to depletion of natural resources and the collapse of the ecology, the poor are generally uneducated and live in ‘stacks’, giant towers composed of trailers.

Most escape this grim reality via the pervasive virtual reality named OASIS, created by the recently deceased genius and 1980’s-obsessed James Halliday.

I won’t get too far into it, but it is chock full of 1980’s, fantasy and sci-fi references, action and drama as well as well-written likeable characters and villains whom you want to throw your Gameboy at.

 

Skygods, The Fall Of Pan Am, Robert Gandt

 

Being a bit of an aviation nerd, I’ve always had a strange fascination for the golden-era of aviation and airlines up to the late 1960’s; being that time before Jetstar, Ezyjet, cattle class, discount tickets etc.

The Queen of the airlines was undoubtedly Pan American, headed by the singular Juan Tripp who is the man who is honestly responsible for giving the world the Boeing 707, the worlds first truly successful airliner that changed travel indelibly, as well as the Boeing 747.

I’ve had a bit of a strange obsession for defunct airlines such as Pan Am and TWA and wish I was old enough to have flown on either; this is the next best thing as this book goes into great detail about the formation, golden era and demise of this at one time blue-ribbon pedigree of an airline.

It reads as one part drama, one part recount, yet to me managed to keep an air of entertainment as the characters whom were responsible for this great airline’s birth as well as those responsible for its decline, not to mention those who worked for this venerable airline, come to life.

 

Red Plenty, Francis Spufford

 

Red Plenty tells the story of the burgeoning USSR and its efforts at overtaking the United States in terms of economic, scientific, technological and social growth in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It speaks of a time when the Soviet Union was modernizing rapidly and keeping on pace with the US, and was even set to surpass the US in terms of economic growth.

It was an era of optimism and eager competition, as well as a heartfelt honest belief in the Communist system by those living in the USSR at the time. Red Plenty tracks the progress and ultimate demise in the Soviet Union’s determined quest to gain parity and subsequently overtake the USA by means of planned economy using mathematics and cybernetics, for the ultimate aim of giving one and all the best quality of life possible.

Clearly, things didn’t turn out quite the way that the economic planners in the USSR had planned, but I found this book completely engrossing and intriguing; not 100% non-fiction and some characters were clearly fictional, yet still a great read.

 

And The Band Played On, Randy Shilts

 

The best way I can describe this book is heart-wrenching, emotional and frustrating. Not the things you want to find in a book necessarily. And The Band Played On tracks the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s, and for me was a must read as a Gay man to educate myself about just what it would have been like to experience the terror and fear that I could only imagine in this time.

This book goes in to extensive depth and detail about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the inability of the US government to take charge, or even acknowledge what was occurring. Although some information since the time of this publication came out has been updated [ie the concept of a Patient Zero from which the virus was first attributed to], it for me is something that all LGBTIQA people should read if they want to know more about how HIV/AIDS affected just so many people.

Like others before me whom have read this book, this would have to be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding books that I have ever read. It is just so disappointing and sad to read about the lack of information, the inability of the myriad government institutes to coordinate to even simply identify this virus as people were dying, not to mention the initial intentional ignorance of the politico class about this issue, and following lack of action to put plans in motion.

This book will leave you with much respect and admiration for those whom lived through this era, as they really are survivors and heroes who deserve so much respect.

 

House Of Tribes, Garry Kilworth


I’ll never forget the first time I saw this book, in a little independent book shop on Norton St, Leichhardt, back in Sydney. I was with my mum. I must have been perhaps 9 or 10 or so. Something about this little innocent looking book with a mouse depicted on its cover drew me to it, and it took me in hindsight perhaps a week to finish up, as I fell straight into the world this author created.

This is one book which helped shape my reading habits and my interest in literature, reading, as well as the fantasy genre. The novel follows a young field mouse named Pedlar who leaves the relative safety and familiarity of his home in a hedge behind, to enter the great country known solely as ‘The House.’ The house is another world entirely, replete with gangs of mice and rats who live in different parts of the house and vie for control and authority.

It was such a fun book to read as a kid; I must have re-read it at least a half-dozen times, and it [magically in my mind] captured my imagination, and inexplicably followed me in my life and now sits proud on my bookshelf here in San Francisco. Some people cite the Harry Potter series as their mainstay books which harken back to their youth and that initial spark and love of reading, and this is my version of that.

Oh, and the other thing that made me fall completely in love with this book was that it had a map!

 

The Consolations Of Philosphy, Alain De Botton.

 

Love him or not, Alain De Botton for me is a great educationist and instructor of thought. I don’t know what it is about the guy, but ever since the first time watching his documentaries on life, thought, philosophy and culture and society, I’ve been a big fan.

Maybe it’s the way that he informs and teaches without pretension; without the need for needlessly complex jargon. He has a concise and minimal voice and tone which can make even the most difficult to understand concepts quite clear.

If Alan Attenborough’s domain was the natural world, I would then see Alain De Botton in a similar vein for the world of thought.

I received this book as a birthday present; I won’t lie, it sat on my shelf for months as I had a plethora of fantasy and sci-fi books I wanted to read.

I picked up this book to read as I have this idea of ‘cleansing the palate’ as it were, with regards to what I read. I love and adore science fiction and fantasy novels, yet I find after reading book after book after book I need something more thought-provoking in terms of life and thought and lived experience. To cleanse the palate as it were. Something which will exercise my mind. Usually I’ll hit up whatever self-help book I have about which will fill me in with some thought that is based at least partly on philosophy.

Consolations, then, proved to be a simple and introductory means of learning about philosophical thought, and how it translates to the everyday life. De Botton mixes in a dash of self-helpiness as I think of it with his dollops of philosophy, and the result at least to me was a thought-provoking read and a good refresher on philosophy, its origins and it’s repercussions.

 

Those are my books to read in 2018, let me know your thoughts, or if you have any standout books that you have read recently that you love. Cheers!

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2018, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Money.

The one topic I wish I knew more about is something rather banal and dry, yet something I think would be incredibly useful for my husband and I with regards to our future.

The one topic I am talking about is finance and more specifically, investment and commerce and basically how money works.

I always thought looking back at my education as a kid and into adolescence, attending an all-boys Catholic school, that there were some major gaps in my education.

I attended a relatively privileged school back home in Sydney, Australia. It had large green lawns, well attended cricket grounds, rugby pitches, an Olympic swimming pool, indoor sports gym and buildings kept in perfect condition ranging from the 1920’s to modern expensive buildings.

It wasn’t a cheap school to attend, and this was reflected by its wide range of facilities and high degree of teaching, which resulted in majority of the school body going on to tertiary studies. Including me. Couple this with its ethos and focus on sport and you had what was essentially a hold-out and outpost of British post-colonialism.

This anachronistic feature of my school was even present up to when I graduated in 2001. Modernity was still something that was knowledgeably kept at bay by any means. Good old-fashioned English sports like Cricket and Rugby were praised; teachers were generally of the strict old men variety, mass was compulsory, and there was a school speedo swimmer uniform we had to wear. Which proved awkward when we all hit puberty.

My school was mired in old outmoded and anachronistic tradition that would really simply make me laugh today. Like calling every male teacher sir. Compulsory competition sports. Regular grooming inspections where Year Masters would inspect us all [arrayed in lines ie military parade] our haircuts and nails and shoes to ensure they were all up to scratch. Standing up whenever a teacher walks in the door. Obedience at any cost really was a key factor in our education, and punishment could be swift, harsh and severe.

All the more made obsolescent and yearning for an imperialist past by the apparatus of a School Captain, that upstanding individual who represented the best of the school, supported by all, including the school cadre of School Prefects, that vaunted group of senior students who demanded respect from all and sundry in the school, including nobody proles like yours truly.

Despite this environment and education, I still feel to this day that so much was missing. Namely, any practical education. So stuck in the past was this place that basically it was unspoken that men don’t pay the bills or cook for instance. OR do the housework. Only women and queers would.

Yet funnily enough here we all are fending for ourselves.

I really wish my school or schools in general had more foresight in teaching students things that will be valuable for them later on.

Specifically, from something simple like how to wash, iron and fold clothes. How to cook simple yet nutritious meals. And perhaps most importantly, how to start bank accounts, utilities, pay rent and bills.

In hindsight, it’s amazing that schools or at least schools where I’m from never taught this. For years afterwards in my case, the decade or so since graduation was an era of giving no fucks about the future, being a dirty little grub of a uni student and not to mention being very lax in my general hygiene and not looking after myself.

I wish I was taught how to pay those bills, how to manage and look after money and make it grow. It should be something that is compulsory and mandatory. In order to be an adult, you need to be able to be independent. Which means unfortunately, being able to budget and limit needless expenditures and not live in a state of abject poverty.

For a long time I didn’t know how to do any of this. It has taken me decades to learn how to be self-sufficient and how to budget. I really feel as though had I learnt this in my school days, no matter how boring it would be, it would serve me some use.

Joining and extending upon that is the topic of finance, and growing what you have. I really wish I knew more about this topic, and had someone knowledgeable in this topic instruct me on ways that I could grow my money; how to invest, how to contact a broker, what generally to invest in and what to do with said investments.

The only lessons I had on this topic was with an old friend of mine, who was a gay man in his 40’s whilst I was in my early 20’s who talked to me about this and gave me some advice. And that was it.

I’m at a point [34 in a month if you can believe it], where I am starting to think about this topic more and more. I want to ensure that I can be comfortable in the future and not worry overly about what my situation will be.

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2017, America, Gay, Gayblog, Marriage Equality, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Giving Thanks

Wednesday last week was the hardest day of my life.

It was a day filled to the brim with emotion. It left me completely exhausted, and it’s taken me this long to bounce back. I’ve had to pull myself back together again, as though different disparate parts of me detached only to have to be searched out and popped back into place, and it’s only now that I’m feeling myself again to write this post.

Wednesday 15th November 2017 was the day that we moved from Sydney, our lifelong home, to our new home here in San Francisco, which still I’m in a bit of shock about. It was a warm and sunny day. I almost wanted it to be overcast and unpleasant, but Sydney being the smartarse it is, really turned it on for our last day. It’s still so strange to think that not much more than a week ago I was walking down King St in Newtown, or going downstairs to the cafe that was under our apartment block. And now I walk down different streets. With different people. Different cars. A different sky above me.

But things change, and I’m finding that it is best to move along with them and to let the waves take you.

Our departure day was no surprise; we knew it was to come for months, and I had been preparing both mentally and logistically for it, in almost a feverish manner. Yet as the day crept closer I found myself become more and more nervous. Anxiety played up and I couldn’t sleep due to the unyielding internal monologue of tasks still to be done and thinking on those I would miss.

Not only were we to be leaving friends, family and loved ones, all people whom we have spent years getting to know and connecting with, and whom we love to bits, but it was the day the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite result was announced. Of course, we didn’t choose for our day of departure to coincide with this. However, everything had been prepared months ago and it was far too late to change dates.

As we stood in Prince Alfred Park surrounded by friends new and old, as well as my sister who also is part of the community, I really was overcome and fraught with frayed emotion.

I felt so much of everything. Excitement that we were not only to finally find out the result, but hope and fervent optimism for the future. I wanted our home to join the 21st century; I wanted dearly and desperately for our country to go back to its former happy, life loving self. It feels as though the last couple years our home has become more of a dark and judgemental place. Those who would have us not be equal seemed on the verge of ascension. Their morals, ethics and hypocrisy has appeared to be the status quo today, as opposed to relegated to the shadows.

I felt love. Love from those around me. I don’t think I’ve ever had quite the same feeling before. Being literally surrounded by those whom care about you and whom you care about was quite a singular and spectacular feeling. I felt so much gratefulness that I have got to know such fantastic people, tinged with a bittersweet sadness at us leaving this group of loving, supportive and unique people.

I felt anger. Anger at what our government had put us through, this indignation of a non-binding postal vote; an archaic motion put forward by the diabolical religious right as a stalling tactic. a postal survey costing us $122 million, when conversely that money could help our long-suffering indigenous communities, or to assist women gain equality, or go towards helping out those less fortunate.

I felt nervous despair should the No side win out, and what this would do to our community.

The rise of the unreasonable and irrational Christian and subsequent epoch of moralising judgement seemed upon us. It felt like a dark looming shadow creeping across the grass and trees of the idyllic park we were in.

Yet, as the announcer finally revealed the results, it was clear to all that love won the day after all.

You can’t stop a tide, and 62% of us decided that YES, love should be for all of us, regardless. Full stop.

As I write this in a new city, in a new country, I’m starting to tear up. Sitting here in this strange place, I still feel so connected and so privileged to know and be a part of such an amazing social circle of friends and family. As well as a wider community that really did show it’s best and pulled together during this whole ordeal. I still feel as though I am there in spirit, and no matter what happens, no matter how many cheeky and colourful Queer murals are defaced, we will prevail.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Another artefact and quirk of this place that I am fast coming to consider my new home. Another, [to my foreigner eyes at least], experience to delve into and enjoy.

The whole point of Thanksgiving is exactly that, giving thanks. Giving thanks for what we have, and taking stock of our lives. Despite my complete cynicism for this kind of thing, I see how it can be a good thing. When it comes my turn to say what I’m thankful for, I’ll say that I’m thankful that love won. That we are turning a corner towards a brighter, loving and caring future where we think of others more than we think ourselves. I’ll say that I’m thankful for my family, both by ties of blood and ties of love and friendship.

I love and will miss you all.

Till the next time I’m back there in Sydney, everyone look after each other and may love be everywhere x

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