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Category Archives: Personal Stuff

Mick had a good point. Today, he commented on my last post, asking where I am? And it’s a good point because I haven’t set up a new blog, as promised. I am not even sure I will. At least for now. It was a good idea. Still is. But I stopped writing because I’d lost the direction implied in my title. After a few weeks’ contemplation though, I may have found some once more. Ironically, in a place I never expected to find it. And with the help of some people who could not have realised they were aiding me, because they were trying not to.

I don’t like “the holiday period”. For the last ten years, I haven’t been able to spend Christmas the way I’d like to. Four years ago, my father died. A few years before that, I made a major mistake in going out for a curry with a friend. And in 2005, I was falsely arrested and imprisoned. Never a good period. The only real bright light was in 1998. Because Lucius was born.

In the last week, I have been reassessing some things. The weekend just gone has been especially useful. After it though, I felt like shit going to work for the first full work week in a month.

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When under full steam, a ship doesn’t travel in a straight line. Of course, it tries to. But the current of the water means the direction is always slightly altering. So the helmsman is keeping an eye on the destination, where he wants it to go, and adjusts constantly to make sure the lumbering ship maintains something like the desired course.

Aurelius’ ship was mostly on course. Noone suspected the presence of the submarine. Noone saw the trail of bubbles that signalled the approaching torpedo. Noone expected it. But then came the explosion. If the ship sinks or stays afloat will depend very much on what the crew does. And whether the submarine captain has fled after his perfect shot, or hangs around to deliver the coup de grace.

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bear.jpgAt Monday night’s dinner, I had a surprise. At the time, I thought it was a good thing. Later, I wasn’t so sure.

As I mentioned last week, I used to work for Mr Beazley during his first stint as Leader of the Opposition. While there, I had about a dozen volunteer staff – uni students mostly – working for me. One of them, Karl, appeared at the dinner on Monday. And although Karl was one of my favourite people from the office, it bought up some things I’d prefer not to reflect on too often – namely the circumstances of my departure. And so while it was great seeing Karl again, it had a negative taste I’d probably have had a better week without.

Now it’s a few days later, and I think the solution is to have Karl over for dinner sometime soon. To catch up properly, and make sure we don’t let it be another 9 years between drinks.

I also canceled an evening with Sir Paddington Bear this week. I should remedy that too.

Last month, I promised I’d tell a story about my time at Duntroon. And since I like telling stories, here goes…

Once upon a time, I was working in the publishing area of the College. My job was to publish documents for the College. Things like exam papers, the little booklets they hand out to visitors at things like the Beating of the Retreat that we went to last month, that kind of thing
While working there, I was the only civilian in the office with 4 military people and the uniformed ones had some issues realising that being a civilian meant I didn’t live under exactly the same rules as they did. I didn’t have to show up at 7am for a run around the oval. I didn’t have to salute. I had set working hours, and when they were done, I was entitled to go home and unpaid overtime was something I could refuse to do.
As a result of this difference in status, there was some friction between me and my boss, Staff Sergeant Jacqui Van Beukering. So when I was told to do a publishing job that wasn’t for the College, but was a menu for a cafe run by the wife of a College staff member, my refusal to do so was taken poorly. We argued. I told her what she was instructing me to do was misuse of College resources, and I refused to carry out her orders.

Those of you who have worked for the Imperial government will know that refusing an instruction can result in disciplinary measures. I fully expected my actions to be examined and I was pretty secure in my position. I was also prepared to argue my case. After all, I was a union delegate at that stage, for all civilian staff in the College, so standing up to the hierarchy wasn’t something that overly concerned me.

Staff Sergeant Van Beukering’s boss, Captain Davis was called in. The issue was discussed. I stood my ground. The Captain instructed me to publish the cafe menu. I refused. So a union official was bought in. The union official backed my position. The soldiers wouldn’t alter their position, neither would I. A circuit breaker was needed. The Captain suggested the issue should be “investigated” and until the matter was resolved, I was sent home on full pay.

This may seem odd to those who have never worked for the government. But I was sent home. I was being paid. But I didn’t have to go to work. I originally thought this situation might last a day or two. I had underestimated the situation.

A few weeks later, while still on paid “leave” (although not actually using up any leave) I was chatting to a mate of mine who worked for the local MP. I told him that I was being paid, but didn’t have to go to work. So, since it was an election year, was there anything the Party could use my time for? He put me in touch with a chap named Justin who worked for Mr Beazley, the Leader of the Party at the time.

I met Justin and began to work a day or two a week in Beazley’s office. I loved the work though, so I expanded the days I was there until I was pretty much full-time. They weren’t paying me, but I was being paid by the College, so I didn’t care.

My role at Parliament House grew and grew until I was administering all the volunteer staff, using them not only for my role with Justin in media monitoring but also lending them out to Shadow Ministers like Faulkner, Latham, Evans, Lee and Kerr for research work – essentially the way a temp agency works. Only my volunteers weren’t paid more than their lunch money – they were just doing it because they loved it. But being uni students who were all passionate about politics, they were living their fantasies since every day they came to work, they were spending time with the Party leaders and MPs.

After several months, the issue of the refusal to follow instructions was resolved and I was advised I was able to return to work at the College. But by that time, I was working 115 hour weeks in Beazley’s office and so when I told Justin I had to go, he offered to add me to the payroll, so I could be paid to do what I previously was doing for the love of it. Naturally, I took up the offer.

So returning to Duntroon last month reminded me of how it was the stepping stone to a path that provided one of my great adventures. It was ten years ago. But I don’t regret leaving there. I guess even the smallest steps can take us places we never expect. We have to be prepared to take that step when it comes though.

In a number of areas, I’ve allowed my life to wander off on its own, to find its own way, and it’s gone in ways unintended. Sometimes doing this is good, as it means I discover things I’d otherwise not have. But I’ve decided to pull the boat back onto the right course, and steer a little bit once again. And in tightening up control of my world, I’m setting some guidelines (I hate calling them ‘rules’ because we all know I’ll not stick to them). Some are related directly to my blog (such as not letting things like Eve distract me from daily writing); some relate to my other writing projects; some are more lifestyle-path decisions. But for my own benefit, I’m going to document them here in the near future, so I can have my blog as a kind of conscience, keeping me true to the course I wish to follow.

I recently discovered via the rumour mill that my former friend Sasha is getting married.

Even though he and I aren’t friends anymore, I hope his wedding goes well and I hope he doesn’t suffer the same fate as Caerulia and I, who had some gifts stolen by our best man. Knowing Sasha though, his best man will be his younger brother or someone like that, so he shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Surrender the BootyWhile playing email ping-pong today with my friend Ms Demon (so named because it’s her favourite football team and she’s the only person I know who actually follows them – especially in a year such as this) we got onto the topic of what we’d learnt from failed relationships in our past. Like most, I have plenty of material to choose from when it comes to taking lessons and so I told Ms Demon I’d learnt to avoid women who score too highly on the list of avoidable characteristics. Just for posterity, here’s the list. I should never consider going out with anyone who meets too many of these criteria.

Nurses; teachers; single mothers; girls who are too young (half my age plus 5 – it’s not a rule I made up); anyone with the same first name as someone I’ve previously gone out with; women who have kids I don’t like; Americans; anyone who has gone out with one of my friends; anyone who has a dysfunctional relationship with their parents; anyone who has spent the majority of their life in Judea; collingwood.jpg Collingwood, west-coast.jpg West Coast, adelaide.jpg Adelaide Crows or kangaroos.jpg Kangaroos supporters; anyone who lies a lot to their friends and/or family; anyone who owns or aspires to own a 4WD; anyone who watches reality TV; anyone who refers to her friends as family (to the point of self-deception) and anyone who ever voted Liberal in their entire life (except as a joke).

My problem up to now of course is that even though I was aware that breaking those rules is summoning vast quantites of trouble, I have done it regardless. In Alderney’s case, she broke several of them. In Veronique’s, I remember writing down all the reasons I should never get involved with her – and I broke the rules. But as Ms Demon said, it’s more about what lessons we learn. So hopefully I can.

Hopefully now, the saga about Honey may come to an end.

Note: This is a big post. Hit “Read the rest of this entry” to see it all.

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The older I get, the better I come to know myself.

One thing I have learnt from observation is when things in my life are going poorly, I often retreat into some activity that takes up a lot of my time and/or mental energy and block out the compartments of my world that aren’t working.

I probably first noticed it when Caerulia and I were corroding back in 2001/02 and around then, I became an expert in Age of Empires II. And when Huniii was dying and things first went sour with Alderney, I took to Rome: Total War like a Praetorian. Just looking back at one week in May, there are four blog entries in one week. One about how I’d lost the will to blog, the next about being absorbed in the game, the next about the Alderney situation, and then one about Huniii’s death. Illustrates the point brilliantly I guess.

So it’s no real surprise then I’ve now immersed all my spare time in a computer game.

The reality is that for 90% of the time, I don’t even have games installed on my computer. Maybe installing them is a sign all is not right, and I’m seeking a place I can ignore what’s bothering me?

Coincidentally, the same issues of that week in May are bothering me this week. Alderney, Huniii, an addiction to a game and losing my desire to write.

I think the only solution is to make a plan. A plan to change direction, or re-find direction. So I can go forward. To that end, I’ve been thinking. Results of such ponderings in the coming days.

In the last few days, some good things have happened, and at least one bad thing. I’m trying though to concentrate on the good.

I began to be paid for some of the work I’ve done recently, and that means that for the first time since I arrived back in Rome, I’ve had money. Money to get things started with the plans. And that means that I’m now in the process of moving around the corner, where I’ll be living with Adam the Geek and Keiran the aircraft-fitter.
I’d begun to wonder about the suitability of the place, but I’m a lot more comfortable with it now. So I’ll move over the next few days.

My friend Olivia recently bought a better car, and so she’s been looking for someone to take over her old one. Since the Lancer is dead, pending surgery, and I’ll probably need a car to get to work, I’ve taken her old car, and took it for a drive this afternoon to get used to it. It’s got a few flaws (I can’t seem to turn the heater off for example, nor can I tune the radio) but nothing that’ll be a major problem to sort out or ignore.

Also, do you know that if you try and renew your licence in Rome, having been out of the city for a while and let it expire, they need proof of residency in the city? Except if you move back to the address on the expired licence. In that event, they don’t care.
So I told them I was living at a house I haven’t lived at for 3 years, and they renewed my licence, and then in a week, I’ll go in and tell them I’ve moved. Stupid, but easier than finding evidence of where I live.

The negative this week is Alderney back in one of her “I can’t leave Jerusalem” moods. Rather than debate it, I’m ignoring it. Easier to deal with. Especially since it’s her mother playing the “I’m sick, Don’t leave me” routine. I should make a rule for myself of only ever getting involved with orphans. Because too many women I know haven’t developed mature sensible relationships with their mothers, and it always seems to get in the way. But then, I make plenty of rules for myself, and break them. The real rule I need for myself is to stick to my path and not let myself get distracted by shiny things. Or soft squishy pretty ones. 🙂

When I lived in Jerusalem, I gave my digital camera to Caerulia so she could take pictures of Lucius, and email them to me. A simple arrangement, you’d imagine. But fraught with difficulty apparently, as I only got one set of shots, and they were from their trip to Aotearoa last autumn.

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I used to be depressed. As in, I was diagnosed with depression in 1997.

Over the last ten years, I’ve come up with different ways to deal with how I am. One is that I rate how I’m feeling on a scale from -100% to +100%. So I just accept where I am on the scale, and adjust appropriately.

I don’t believe in depression, as a ‘disease’. And the problem with when I’ve got a theory is that occasionally, I’ll find reinforcement for it, and then there’s no stopping my unconventional beliefs. The best advice I ever heard regarding depression comes from this documentary from a few months ago. It’s the story of Brian Egan, a navy veteran who’d seen some pretty awful things during his service, then tried to become a farmer and lost the family farm. He ended up suicidal in a hospital, and a doctor told him “Find someone worse off than yourself Brian, and help them.” So he did. It was the best advice anyone gave him, and it’s the best advice anyone with ‘depression’ can hear.

Too many ‘depressed’ people are treated in the worst possible way by those around them. They are indulged. The only real way to deal with depression is to get off your arse and fix it. Find things you care about, and immerse yourself in them. Find a wrong, and make it right. Accept what you are, and how you are, and get on with life. Everything else – counselling, drug therapy etc is just bullshit. Depression saps your will to cure yourself. It destroys your self-motivation. So it takes effort to overcome the inertia and get off your butt. But it’s the only cure there is. Life’s there to be lived. Stop fucken whinging and get on with it. Noone ever died wishing they’d watched more TV.

Discuss.

On Saturday, I outlined a timetable for my return to Rome. It’s been delayed by a day or two, due to some ridiculous bureaucracy. It was one of those days where I went in to see the government department and pay them, having checked exactly what was needed via their call centre last week. But face-to-face, they told me a different story. So I went off to do what they told me this morning what needed doing. And then discovered they told me the wrong thing. And the call centre was right. All up, about four hours spent in queues and debating with different people. Which pretty much wrote off the day as a productive time. But it’s done now. Money is paid, the Lancer can fly, and what I referred to as Plan C (Will evacuating me from Jerusalem) wont be necessary. I will be home for my return party on Saturday.

This week for YouTube Sunday, I’m returning once more to a song. Australian readers will know the song, and the performers, but may not have seen the combination. For the overseas readers, I’ll give a bit of background.

This song is, I think, the greatest love song ever written in this country. It originally came out in the 80s, done by Hunters & Collectors, an Aussie pub-band whose version made some impact, but, like some of the greatest songs, didn’t receive the success it deserved. Over the years though, through countless renditions in thousands of pubs, it became an anthem for many. It’s a song about a final encounter. I always used to think it was a one-night stand, but I now consider it to be about a couple who are seeing each other for the final time and, as the lyric says:

We may never meet again
So shed your skin and lets get started
And you will throw your arms around me

As Mark Seymour said of this song:

Love songs are hard enough to pull off tastefully. The strength of Arms is in its honesty, and a very simple hooky chorus. Other than that there isn’t much else to say. It’s personal. Hunters played it with great force and conviction.

I’ve thought for a while now that someone really should compile the different version of this song. I’ve heard brilliant versions by Neil Finn, Crowded House, Pearl Jam, Paul McDermott, several never-to-be-known-of pub bands, and several versions by Mark Seymour and of course Hunters & Collectors.

This version though is by the Doug Anthony All Stars. At a tribute concert several years ago. DAAS reunited for this gig. And this video is the best thing to come out of that gig. Plus of course, it’s introduced by my hero, Mikey Robins.

Here tis…..

I will come for you at night time
I will raise you from your sleep
I will kiss you in four places
I’ll go running along your street
I will squeeze the life out of you
You will make me laugh and make me cry
We will never forget it
You will make me call your name and I’ll shout it to the blue summer sky

We may never meet again
So shed your skin and lets get started
And you will throw your arms around me

I dreamed of you at night time
And I watched you in your sleep
I met you in high places
I touched your head and touched your feet
So if you disappear out of view
You know, I will never say goodbye
Though I try to forget it
You will make me call your name and I’ll shout it to the blue summer sky

We may never meet again
So shed your skin and lets get started
And you will throw your arms around me
Yeah you will throw you arms around me

This is for the one I’m leaving behind. 😥

Do you know what it’s like when your whole day has been so high-stress then the day is over, and you can just relax? But your brain is still wound up tight, like an elastic band? And you know that for the rest of the evening, the tension’s just going to be there, and there’s nothing you can do about it?
That’s me this evening.
A tense day, but not a day that I think I’ll worry about for long into the future. I came out of it pretty much how I thought I would, but I still had some fun along the way.
I’m learning how to confront opponents without becoming a shivering wreck. This is the second time in 3 weeks I’ve stood up for myself, and thought afterwards “I stood and fought, and I’m happy that I did and said what needed doing.” And not created a situation where I’d be thinking for weeks afterwards “I should have said this”. I hate having that feeling.

I might have an early night, listening to the radio in bed.

The last hold-out has made peace. Of course, she didn’t have a lot of choice – I told her that she could have her war, but since I wasn’t going to fight it, she’d be standing on the battlefield alone, with no-one to oppose anymore.

I feel relieved, and a little disappointed we’ve wasted the last few weeks.

I’ll never understand women.

*sigh*

Some readers have said they are curious to know the story of the May Massacre. All I’ll say about it is this:

  • I’m over it, and have left the negativity about it all well behind; and
  • Last week’s post about a cyber-stalker tells a lot of the story, without much in the way of negativity.

I gave it that chapter its name because I lost about seven friendships as a result of the events of that time. And sitting here tonight, I feel more at ease with what happened than at any time in the last year.

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afk.gifThose of you who know the story of the May Massacre of last year might be surprised to read where I am. I’m in the AFK cafe in Jerusalem. Just down the street from the ‘Gabba. I had two and a half hours to kill between work and a talk I’m attending tonight. And to go home would have been a waste, so I decided to go looking for somewhere to fill in a couple of hours, and my net connection at home hasn’t been ideal lately, so this place seemed the logical choice.

Willett and Ozbhoy have done a good job with this place. The food is quite good, the pasta I had could have been a bit spicier, but Jewish cuisine is tamer than I am used to in Rome. The layout, the computers, the atmosphere, the decor, are all quite nice, and relaxing. As I type, about 4 of the dozen PCs are occupied. And a couple of the cafe tables are occupied by guys playing board games. Willett describes the place as a ‘computer cafe’ rather than a net-cafe, and I think the distinction is a good one.
I think it was a good decision to come here this afternoon. By being the one to walk thru their door, I am declaring an absence of hostility toward Willett & Ozbhoy, which I think is the best atttiude to have. I’m not going to re-hash the events of last year, but the guys were more caught up in it, rather than being active participants. So by coming here, I’m expelling those demons which have haunted the last year. Although this sounds much like an advertorial, I am here more because of me than because of them.

Disclaimer: Rather than telling people about this for payment, I’ve done the opposite. I paid for my dinner and my time at the cafe.

Well, it seems the Pasha Bulker’s still stuck fast at Nobby’s. But with the high tide tonight, and the full moon, they’re gunna give it another go. Good luck to them. I just hope it’s gone by the time I go through Novocastria in a few weeks.

Browsing the web, I found this, an interview with three guys who used to be in bands I managed, who’ve linked up and are working together now in an as-yet un-named band. The podcast though has them doing some songs, one of which dates from my era. During the interview, they get to the topic of how they’re all in their 30s, their lives have become comfortable and content, and this impacts on their productivity when it comes to writing songs. As Potsy says in the podcast, for a year he decided he’d not write sad songs, only happy songs. And in that year, he wrote nothing. Which comes back to what I said this week regarding my stalker. I sometimes wonder if not being wracked with angst and trauma from a disruptive life is meaning I’m writing less, or worse, or whatever.
But also in the interview, Blair points out how incredibly depressing the whole “married, mortgaged, bred and living the suburban dream” is. Reminds me a lot of something my friends and I used to describe as “Get a colour tele, grow old and fucking die”.

Someone’s reading who shouldn’t be.

Someone’s not made calls they should have.

A lot of people have been deceived, whether lies were told blatantly or not.

Cyberia’s like that.

You can’t trust anyone.

I’m not happy.

One day last spring, I chucked a sickie. And instead of going to work, I went into Milton and had lunch with Tracey, a friend of Veronique’s that I’d known online for three years, but never had the chance to meet in person.
Over lunch, Tracey told me all about her on/off friendship with Veronique, and how it’d been like that for most of the previous four or five years. It wasn’t a negative atmosphere though, and overall, I quite enjoyed my trip out. On the way home though, I decided to take in a movie. It didn’t start for a while, so I sat on a sunny afternoon in the shade of some trees in the park at Southbank. And I began to think, sitting there with my chocolate thickshake, waiting for the movie, which was about an hour from starting.
I looked at the way things were with Tracey & Veronique, and how whenever one of them would do something, the other would interpret the action as a negative. Veronique got a job as a teacher, and sent Tracey an email showing pics of her classroom, so Tracey took that as Veronique boasting, because Tracey hadn’t gotten a teaching job straight out of uni. Or Tracey asked her sister-in-law to be her bridesmaid, so Veronique took it as an insult that she wasn’t part of the bridal party, and so boycotted the wedding.
The actions themselves weren’t negative or hostile, but they were being perceived as acts of war. And it occurred to me that the real problem was that Tracey and Veronique were depressed and unhappy with aspects of their own lives, and that was the cause of how their friend’s action was being perceived.
So there in the park in the shade, I realised something. All negative emotions – anger, frustration, jealousy, hatred, hostility – they all come from lack of self-esteem. I have to dislike myself in order to feel those emotions.
Although it sounds simple, that was a startling revelation. Any time someone is feeling negative, it’s their internal problem. And doesn’t reflect on me.
That first epiphany was the kind that made me aware I’d seen the world wrongly up to that point. What came next was a real surprise: those negative emotions, that are built on self-loathing. I didn’t feel them. I didn’t feel hatred or anger or jealous of anyone.
For someone who has been treated for depression for much of the past ten years, discovering I was happy came as something of a shock. I didn’t become happy that day, but I noticed I was no longer depressed. I’m not quite sure when the depression stopped. But it had. And I knew it had because a drama that’d happened earlier in the year didn’t have the negative effect on me that it might have a year or five years earlier.

The truth is I don’t know when she died. Noone told me. Even though I was given a letter from her to send to her “boyfriend”, and he’d been given my number, and told to contact me, he didn’t. Instead, I found out the way she planned to be the ‘back-up’ way. For those who don’t know, in WordPress, a blogger can set a date on a post and the post doesn’t appear until that date. Huniii had written her final post before Easter, and told me she kept shifting it forward. Changing the date every few days so it didn’t appear prematurely.
Then DryEyedCrab emailed me on Friday the 25th and told me Huniii’s post was up. She and Caerulia both knew about Huniii’s plan for the coded blog entry. Even if you didn’t know Hun, it’s a beautiful post, and quite worth the read. Although I find it sounds better read aloud.

Anyway, I handled the news of my friend’s death the way I handle most bad news – I went into “submarine mode”. This basically means that I left work, and decided to be alone. I wanted time to think. And after a while, I decided that thinking wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I went and visited Alderney. But only for an hour or so. Then, I spent the weekend killing Gauls in Rome: Total War, and avoiding all human contact.

By the end of the weekend, I was fine. My brain had had time to adjust to the new reality of my universe, and I could resurface, and deal with the world as my relatively stable and normal self.

I didn’t realise until just yesterday that when I vanished that Friday, one of my email ping-pong friends, Olivia, was concerned about me. But Caerulia had explained that diving and lying dormant, just like a submarine, is my way, and I’d return to my friends when I was ready. That not to worry, he does this all the time. I guess it’s understandable, since she’s known me for about 16 or 17 years now.

While I’m here, I’ll ask a small favour of the small readership I have. I need to host a small sound file, to be accessible to other readers of my blog. So if anyone has the webspace to enable such a thing, can they please let me know? Email at m.f.aurelius@gmail.com Thanks peeps.

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make

A friend of mine is dead. Some of you may even know her. I intend putting something of a eulogy for her here. But not today. Goodnight Hun. I lubs you, 4 u r teh hawtness.

I will return to regular posting, and we’ll all go on a journey, because I’m gunna tell you all a story or two, next week. hun.jpg

I faced a dilemma this week, and I want your opinion. But it’s of a personal nature, and so if you’d prefer not to read it, I’ve hidden it below the fold. Hit “more” if you want to read, and give feedback if you wish. Especially as this is kind of a “blog-friends” only blog now, rather than for public display. Read More »