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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, Life, Thoughts, writing

My Writing Process.

My writing process is quite simple. I try to set aside some time, preferable each day, and preferably somewhere light and airy. My work space will typically be quite organised, clutter free and minimal in what needs to be there. The less ‘stuff’, the better.

I find that I write best and most effectively when I have a clean and clutter-free space. To me, this is paramount. My mind works best when everything is organised. I tend to concentrate more, gain inspiration and let those streams of thought enter into the room. I guess I’m a creature of order.

Some prefer a degree of chaos and a ‘organised mess’ as it were, in order to get inspired and to really get those creative juices flowing. To me, a chaotic mess means an unorganised mind, and an inability to analyze or complete tasks.

And that’s my biggest fear, as well as a massive motivator for having such a precise and agreeable workspace. It seems that without this, I can’t get a thing done.

Having only just recently moved countries, all the way to San Francisco from Sydney, finding a place to sit, work and process has proved to be challenging. For the last 6 weeks we were staying in a temporary flat, and to be honest, as lovely a building and place as it was, it felt uninspiring, dull and not amenable to me feeling comfortable or uplifted enough to write. It had an air of being generic. Knowing that its sole purpose as a temporary abode felt disheartening to me.

This space proved its worth as a short-term home, but even so, trying to get off my backside to write was incredibly difficult in this time.

I really did drop the ball. As part of my day, I wanted to write for even at least a half hour. I would bring my husband’s unused laptop downstairs to the luxuriously appointed common lounge, which looked like a ski lodge, replete with fireplace and comfy oversized chairs.

I’d set the laptop up on the communal table, get myself a glass of water, and try my hardest to put words to screen as it were. Yet I found myself more often than not simply staring at a blank screen, somehow unable to get thoughts into the laptop. I was at a roadblock.

And as it stands, in that whole time, I only ever managed to get two posts out.

In some six weeks.

Funnily enough, I ended up using my old back-up of a small Moleskine notebook and started writing thoughts in it every couple of days. It’s proved to be invaluable, having that small innocuous notebook around. I make sure to carry it about wherever I am.

I always remember my old photography teacher would say you must carry a camera everywhere you go in order to consider yourself a true photographer. Well, to be honest, I’m not going to lug an insanely cumbersome [not to mention expensive] piece of equipment about in my semi-sketchy neighbourhood.

Rather, I’m happy to carry about my small and highly portable notebook, which in a way is far more valuable than any camera.

We just finally found and moved into our new place, and have finished unpacking and setting it up. We’ve taken everything from home and brought it here, including my trusty desk and now ancient, ten-year old iMac which I’m using to write this post. Which to its credit, just keeps on truckin’ along.

My desk now resides in our bed room, a far cry from my little alcove back home. Our bedroom is a simple room with large windows that face the sun and let light great big dollops of light into the room. The room itself is simply appointed. Two bedside table flanking our bed, a mirror leaning against the wall and my desk next to that. All I have on my desk besides my computer is a desk lamp, an old camera as a reminder of the past, a hard drive, and a glass of water [on a coaster of course].

I feel some affinity with my favourite author, Haruki Murakami, whom also keeps a quite understated and a simple set-up desk. Everything he needs is there, as well as some decorative items of significance. There are no piles of books or paper, or anything that appears out of its place. I feel as though his desk is therefore a reflection of his manner of writing, which is everything I admire: simple yet effective, minimal and understated yet so subtle and with an intrinsic inspired genius who will make you spellbound in his prose.

I love his writing, as he makes the simple act of cooking a meal for one alone a grand affair.

My workspace, as you can see, is my writing process incarnate. If I’m somewhere attractive, relatively peaceful and homely, I am able to get myself writing and more importantly, posting for the world to see.

If you write, what is your process? Like me, do you need your own space, your own aerie, or do you prefer to be out in the world?

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2017, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Motivated Me.

Motivation for me unfortunately comes from a place of fear. A place of failure. A place of fearing the mediocre, and honestly from the fact that my life may not amount to much.

I grew up in an era where we were all told that we could be anything we wanted, that all we had to do was try our best and it would happen.

Years later, I feel that this is not the case at all, and that this mentality is dangerous and in fact a detriment to the normal development of a human being as a fully-independent, functioning member of society.

Unfortunately, it seems that you can’t be anything you want. Yes, you have to work excruciatingly hard to get to where you may want to be, but the fact remains that not everyone is born equal or with the same opportunities, which in turn means that even in the best petri-dish of formation, with the ripest, most perfect of conditions, one still might not get what one feels they may, however rightly, deserve, through their hard work or determination.

The world these days feels worn. Humanity feels underappreciated, stomped down, oppressed and waxing lyrical about the almost impossibilities that are real which once were simple and taken for granted. A period of malaise.

I know, for example, that I most likely will never own a house, or flat, or even just a piece of land. This isn’t a necessarily a determinate factor in success at life, yet for many of us, owning something like a house or flat equals security and a future. This isn’t me simply giving up, rather it’s me being honest and real about life and how the world works. I know, it comes across that I’m becoming yet another jaded and bitter inconsolable 30-something, who feels as though their best is behind them, and only negativity lies ahead. Maybe I am a little bitter. Perhaps I see the truth of the matter in this case as opposed to a naive fallacy. The truth of the matter is that the universe really does not ‘owe’ you anything.

It comes back to my previous point. A generation expecting the most out of life including instant success, prosperity and not to mention sexual fulfillment, attraction and gratuity are on the onset of taking over the reins, as it were. We’re on the cusp of heading and being the group that runs the world. And this terrifies me. What exactly terrifies me is that we are a generation of idiosyncrasy and contradictions, and we will one day be holding the controls. Sometimes it feels as though the most successful in my generation aren’t the ones with the knowledge, skills, nous and intelligence, rather, the most successful are the ones who are attractive, great at knowing what they’re talking about even if they may not necessarily know what they’re talking about at all, and have umpteen thousand followers on Instagram. I really do get worried that the complete self-entitlement and self-indulgent are themata that will be marked on my generation indefinitely. We expect so much, yet are given so little. We can be self-serving, indolent, lazy and lack at times a moral compass and empathy, yet we do work very hard, in many cases for little or no gain at all. Similarly to the Baby Boomer generation, we are all about self-expression, self-discovery and fulfillment in life. Many of us aim to be the best version of us. Yet unlike previous generations, we don’t seem to be getting what we want out of life. There are so many of us [myself included] who really are struggling, and feel as though we are hitting our heads against the wall through trying to break through it. I know so many people of my age group who are systematically and constantly preoccupied with a lack of career, meaningful relationship, lack of direction an meaning in one’s life. So where does our motivation come from? Do many of us feel that motivation is something that is self-entitled, that is owed to us? That by going through the motions of working hard and pushing ourselves the universe will magically simply manifest whatever we desire and are working towards? Are we kidding ourselves with this idea that the universe simply provides whatever we ask and have need of it?

Motivation for me is something tricky and not constant. It rises and falls, ebbs and flows. Some weeks I am the most prolific I’ve ever been. I can write and write and go to the gym daily and clean and tidy and do laundry, and other times less so. Such as this instance. I haven’t posted on my blog in two months. I can’t say why. Laziness I guess. With a pinch of too much harsh self-criticism thrown in. But hey, at least I am aware of this, and knowingly accept it. Now the hard part, which is actually working on my motivation, and simply getting things done for myself.

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2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Thoughts

Manifesto 2017 Revisited.

Back at the start of 2017, whilst on holidays down the coast over New Year’s, I decided to write a Manifesto to live by for the year, as opposed to a set of resolutions. They were a mixed bag of practical, career-based, emotional and personal concepts and ways in which I want to improve myself or commit myself to.

As the year is just about done (!) I wanted to look back and see how my tenets have held up, and reflect as to whether or not I have stuck by them and upheld them in my life.

Manifesto 2017

I will not be taken advantage of. My life is finite and fragile.

When I wrote this, I felt quite taken advantage of by some individuals in my life, in different ways. I was feeling slighted and hurt. I feel that I have improved somewhat, yet I still find it challenging to stand up for myself and stick to my decisions.

I will be honest about my feelings. I won’t hide behind half-truths and passive aggressiveness.

In 2017 I have come really far in this field. I am far more open than I have been previously. I am able to communicate far better and more effectively, and I am willingly pouring my heart and feelings out to those that love me. The challenge has been those hard talks that we all need to have, which can be difficult and gut wrenching, but I am learning to front any issue or problem head on.

I will take my career, or lack thereof, more seriously, and give it focus and thought. In this year, I will knuckle down and work out 3 things: What do I want to do, how do I do it, and where.

I’ve floundered in the career aspect. At this point, having moved away, I was still at the same job plodding along. However, this is mainly due to the unforeseen at the time development of moving to San Francisco, which has meant that there is little point to switching jobs. In a wider context, I still am grappling with just what it is I truly want to do with my life and career. This is something that I am consistently thinking on, yet find myself at a dead-end with regards to what it is that truly would make me happy. It is definitely an area I must work on harder.

I will say yes only when it pleases me to do so, and no when it doesn’t please me to not do so. I won’t let myself be swayed for the sake of a good time or fun.

This year, I have taken this tenet to heart. I haven’t put myself in situations I don’t feel comfortable in, yet have still experienced and done quite a bit. If anyone pressures me into doing something, I am able to firmly say no without guilt or FOMO.

I will not listen to or accept idle gossip.

I still easily fall for what others may tell me about people. I feel that I am incrementally improving and learning not to listen to gossip or dish gossip out, and the major method for me to do this is to fill my life with more of what I find fulfilling or fun: spending time with loved ones, reading more, writing, geeking out and playing Dungeons And Dragons, exercising etc.

I will not lead others on, or let myself be lead on by others.

I have tried my hardest to do this. To state intentions clearly, no matter the fallout or how much it might hurt to. To lay everything out and say ‘No, I am not free for A B or C’. Unfortunately, not all friendships can be maintained, and not all people I have met can be a part of my life for whatever reason. There’s simply been far too much that has been happening. Getting married in New Zealand. Moving away halfway across the world and leaving my home that I have lived in for the majority of my life. It has been a challenge to say to people who I may not have time for them, to have to under promise or decline social gatherings as I simply am lacking any free time.

I will invest my time into those who will reciprocate.

Both my husband and I have improved on this. We are both vary aware of past instances where we have befriended people who have taken and not given. This has helped us both as we have strengthened our friendships with those who give back and reciprocate as well as protecting us from those who may not.

In 2017, I will surround myself with those whom inspire me, and hopefully I am able to inspire them in return.

2017 has been a year of big earth-moving changes as well as inspiration and new energy. I have met some fantastic people who have inspired me, and whom I look up to, as well as continuing relationships with those who have continually done so. On the other hand, I have had some great conversations where I have given advice and thoughts to others.

I will create, produce and generate more. I won’t second guess myself, will output more, and worry less.

My creative output has increased. I have written more and posted more frequently. I still find an obstacle in posting and fretting and worrying about the quality of what I produce, however this is happening less so. I am learning that to be prolific and diligent and practicing this craft in itself means that I am improving. I know my work is improving little by little, and each time I write or post my voice and tone are becoming easier to voice through written thought.

I will not think less of myself compared to others simply because they may have more followers on social media than I.

I am to this day struggling with this. I still can’t get round the fact that I am inherently somehow less than others whom may have thousands more followers or interaction with their social media. Especially in context in the Gay world where those who are perfect in terms of looks are held above all the rest and seemingly given all the perks. I am learning my own self worth, but I am finding it incredibly debilitating.

I will remember to breathe.

Taking a moment to realign and breathing when I feel stressed or anxious is a quick and easy fix for me, I do it at work or at home, and count down from ten in the fresh air and sunshine if there is any. It has helped immeasurably.

I will use the block button on apps more, and argue online less. Low-resolution profile images a good opponent for arguments does not make.

That ‘Block’ button has seen quite a lot of use this year. I have learned to negate other’s potential hurtful nature and power over me by blocking. To not see the abuse written online means I won’t think on it and it won’t put my in a downward spiral. I don’t deserve to be called names, I won’t be called names or have abuse hurled at for whatever reason.

I will not succumb to thinking of myself or others merely as a ‘brand.’

In this day and age it seems I am more and more surrounded by people who think of themselves as a ‘brand’ or ‘influencer.’ I still think of this concept as incredibly toxic and bad for the soul. Not to mention just so silly. Despite the contradiction of me stating this and posting on a personal blog which is branded, [believe me I’m well aware of the irony], I refuse to think of myself and my social media outlets as an exercise in marketing and PR. I write and post first and foremost for me as I enjoy it.

I won’t forget to take my meds.

Some days I’ve forgotten and it’s a disaster. Still working on this though.

I will learn to like myself more, and hate myself less.

I’m becoming more comfortable in my skin, and more confident. This might be from me getting older and more self-assured, coupled with being active and hitting the gym. It’s been really nice to get any compliments, I still have trouble believing them but I’m learning to take a compliment when it is given.

I will write/photograph/contribute to the greater world because I am compelled to do so, not for likes, comments or the affirmation of others.

This is the core of what I am doing. I write because I want to, because I need to, and because like in the above statement, I am compelled to, as though something invisible within me is driving me to create. I do all of this as an exercise in well-being and perhaps in the hope that what I write can start a dialogue or interaction, not for the sake of others validation of me.

How are your New Year’s resolutions or manifesto’s coming along?

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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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2017, Australia, Gay, Life, Thoughts

Family Ties.

My relationship with my immediate family has been strained of recent, if I can be honest. Moving away to a brand new country soon has made me anxious and nervous, and in all truth, my family haven’t really been as involved or supportive as I thought. There doesn’t seem to be much dialogue happening past the obligatory freak outs about me not being in the same town, or country any more. Mum carries on a treat, loses her cool and breaks down into what I see as melodrama, wishing I wasn’t going, simulating crying over the fact and generally lacking real empathy for me, or the fact that this is going to be the biggest, most difficult challenge I have ever had in my life.

 

I know she’s happy for me  but all she seems to want to say to me or display is the fact that I’ll be going perhaps indefinitely. She will mock-cry and moan, as though I have literally stabbed her. Typical Italian Catholic guilt tactic.. I wish she was more understanding and perhaps took more time out to see me. I get frustrated when I tell her we only have so much to go till we leave, yet we are never able to spend much time together. And when we do, it feels forced and it is always inevitable a short length of time. Maybe I’m just getting older, and have less connection with her, and same with my dad for that matter. The way I’m treated at times it’s as though I’m still 16, not 33. Perhaps if I was a straight man with a wife and a child things would be different. Perhaps I would be treated akin to those cousins I have with children and conventional marriages. More respect, and less sickly sweet condescension. I really don’t know. It just irks me and frustrates me when my mother feigns a breakdown, [albeit a very poorly acted out one] about how she’s never going to see me as much and how she’ll miss me. Not how happy and excited for me she is. It seems as though she doesn’t understand how much this hurts and how debilitating it is, and just makes me see clearer that my family and I really do have a tenuous relationship. I’m simply too far removed these days, in spirit and mind, and soon distance. I’m going to be very far away.

 

Maybe mum will be happy for me when I go. I hope so. Perhaps she’ll not take me for granted. I just wish she would just come see me even unannounced. I feel like this is a natural family occurrence, yet is something my family never does. I’m just as to blame for this. I would never just turn up at my sister’s door for a coffee. And neither would any of them. We’re just not that kind of family. We’re far too independent minded, our lives have simply grown apart, and the truth is we don’t need each other as much as we used to. It remains the fact that my only sibling, an older sister and I are getting older. We’re both in our 30’s, work hard, have partners and a social life outside of family. A life, in short. For me, it has taken a very long period of time to get to this point. I’m sad to leave it all behind, but I know I have to do this. My heart tells me that in my parents eyes, we will always be children that need them and depend on them. Especially so for my dad. I feel so much guilt at the thought that our relationship has grown strained and estranged. The harsh truth is that it has. I rarely see him. He has a way of making me see the bad parts of myself, glaringly and jarringly so. I know he wants what is best for me, but doesn’t get that I think I’m doing OK. He will straight up tell me what I’m doing wrong, why I don’t do something else instead and will do so in a condescending manner. He lectures me on the failings of my life every time I see him. And this makes me feel rather bad about myself. I tend to leave feeling deflated and spiraling into melancholy. It takes me so much energy and will to go see him, and every week I don’t my heart pangs with regret and guilt. I don’t know how much longer the guy will be about for. He’s getting on and isn’t the spry, energetic figure he once was in my adolescence. Hearing second or third hand about his plight and how he’s sad and suffering depression because he rarely sees his kids makes me feel terrible. I sometimes feel as though we shouldn’t even be a family at all because we are such disparate creatures.

 

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. I imagine it will just get worse and worse, as I won’t be about for birthdays, Easters and Christmases and the like. I hope things can change.

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