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Category Archives: Roman Return

I’ve been back in Rome five weeks. Time to assess the decision?

blackcat.jpgThe house-hunting went quite smoothly, even though I did have periods of worrying that I’d made the wrong decision and I’d be stuck with the consequences for ages. But I’ve been mostly in the new place for this week and it’s been good. Adam and I are both net-geeks, so we’re going to upgrade the ADSL account to get a higher data limit. I’ve also found I sleep much better here – I suspect my allergy to Lucius’ cat was the issue there.

The job-hunt started slowly. I initially went to 2 agencies (Select & Hays). Then expanded to include a few more (Hudson, Kowalski and others). Hays gave me four days work, then Hudson gave me two, and another two this week. Kowalski, Hudson, Hays & Select* have all sent me to interviews. With mixed results. But nothing solid and long-term has materialised, so last week, I started applying for jobs out of the newspaper. A few of those turned into interviews, and we’ll see how they turn out.
map1.jpg* Select only did anything after they sent me a survey form asking for feedback, and I replied saying they’d done nothing in 4 weeks. So they have sent me to two jobs in the Transtiberina area, miles from where I live, and for one of them, they gave me the wrong brief of what the job was anyway. Considering how useless their Jerusalem office is, I now conclude this is an across-the-company form of uselessness they specialise in.

Because the financial situation plays out into everything else, until it gets sorted, I’m still keeping several other projects on hold. Which is frustrating, but unavoidable.

Even though the plan hasn’t gone exactly according to how I’d have liked, there’s not been any time that I’ve regretted doing it. I made the decision in October last year and didn’t carry it out until July. The reason I delayed it so long is something I read in a book last year about delaying major life-decisions for 90 days – so there is time to change one’s mind if the decision seems like a mistake. This move back to Rome though is a decision that I wouldn’t revoke.

For a while, I was planning to move in with Mick. He’s in a similar situation to me, and so it made sense to help each other out by sharing a place. But for various reasons, that plan doesn’t look like happening. So a few nights ago, I went trawling AllHomes looking for a place. When I did, I emailed a whole bunch of people.

One emailed me back – Chris. He is older than I am and had a place about 3-4 streets from Caerulia & Lucius’ place. So I went to see him yesterday. He was a nice bloke, with a nice place, so we said I’d move in this coming week.

But last night, I got a text from someone I’d emailed – Adam. Of all the places I’d emailed, Adam’s was the only one that I thought to myself “If I could have that one, I’d prefer it to Chris’.” So naturally, when I went there this morning and met Adam, he jumped to the top of the list. Why? Simple. Two reasons. He has broadband & his place is 5 or 6 houses from Lucius. Close enough that it makes everything much easier. But Adam wants to speak to the other housemate about it. So I’ll know tomorrow.

romansoldier02.jpgI moved to WordPress for two reasons.
The first was that I wanted a fresh start. I was setting out on a new journey, and starting anew was a symbolic way of highlighting that change. My previous blog (The Lost Legionary) was based on the persona of a Roman legionary who was lost and had found himself in a place where he was so different to those around him that he was like the literary Yankee in Arthur’s Court. In returning home though, I was coming back to a world where I knew people, where I had long-established friendships and I was coming back with a plan, a sense of purpose. Hence why I named this new blog what I did.

The other reason I moved from Blogger to WordPress though was to lose some readers.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that some people who read my blog do it for the wrong reasons. And when I moved, I hoped they’d lose interest and go away. But of course, when I installed a proper stat-tracker, I found they hadn’t gone away. So I addressed the issue, at the same time I spent a bit of time with some people who were “collateral damage” in the dispute from Autumn 2006. The result? I now know that some undesirable people read my blog. But I no longer care. By writing what I did, I exorcised the demons. I could tell my readers what I thought, and release it. And it released the negativity for me as well. In a much stronger way than I thought was possible.

I was thinking about that this week. Thinking about how many writers in blog-land have packed up and vanished. Either for short siestas or have disappeared entirely. Some I still miss. And so often, the reason behind their departure is inappropriate or immature behaviour on the part of others, especially those who do not understand the nature of blog-land. I know that the solution I reached – unload your thoughts, and then ignore the poison – wont work for everyone because situations and people are different. So I’m throwing it open to everyone who reads here. With some simple questions.

  • Do you have readers who you wish you didn’t?
  • If you do, or if you did, what strategies would you put in place to deal with it?

Will talks about ‘lifeboat’ strategies. In other words, he speaks of planning for the worst scenarios. If minor problems occur, we’ll have the kinds of systems in place, and our worlds constructed the right way, so we can ride out storms. While some might see this as a morbid view of the future. But let me illustrate Will’s position with a story he once told me:

Imagine you’re a chap named Noah. God says to you one day to build an ark and save the animals from a flood. You look at what you’ll need to carry out this project: lots of wood, animal husbandry skills, boat building skills, a good food supply aboard the boat.
But what if the light and voice from the clouds was in your imagination? What if it doesn’t really happen? You go back to your economics training and do a cost/benefit analysis.

If there’s a flood and you build the ark: Survival
If there’s a flood and you don’t build the ark: Destruction
If there’s no flood and you build the ark: End up with a big boat, a pile of food, a boat-building business, a sawmill and sons who’ll probably end up becoming vets due to having to learn how to care for all the animals
If there’s no flood and you don’t build the ark: You go about life as normal before the light in the clouds spoke

Whether the flood happens or not, you’re ahead by building the boat. So being a rational person, as the economists would define you, you build the ark.

What Will illustrates in the story is that the measures we should take to minimise our exposure to damage, and our reliance on things beyond our control, are going to – even if the world around us doesn’t go pear-shaped – benefit us in the long-run. So is there a valid reason not to do them?

Possible jobs are slowly emerging. I’d forgotten though how Rome moves at a pace the rest of the world would describe as positively tectonic. There’s a policy job with one government department, a research job with a charity and another I’m going to check out in the morning. And each moves at their own pace with their own processes. All I can really do is wait. So I have a lot of time to myself.

One way I’m filling that time is rediscovering cooking. It’s been a while since I had a gas-fired kitchen at my disposal. Tonight, I’m making a lamb roast for Caerulia, Lucius and myself. A lot of food, so it’ll be quite a feast hopefully. We invited Olivia, but she had a rough weekend, so is taking this evening to relax and get her head back together. Anyone else feel like coming by for a roast lamb? To keep Sam Kekovic happy?
(Can my North American readers confirm whether lamb is eaten over there? Someone told me ten years ago that Americans ate very little lamb, so I’ve been wondering?)

Another way I’m filling in time this week is to re-examine the list of writing projects I want to get stuck into. I’ve got two ideas for novels I want to write (one is a planned co-writing with Ch@s – I need to chat to him about that), I want to get started on the interviews for the book about my father, and I want to write some short stories of the “space pirate” genre for Lucius. Especially given his recent discovery of bad sci-fi tv shows.

Back at the темная ноча entry, I spoke about what Will envisages as the worst-case scenario: complete breakdown of western civilisation. I should point out though that I do not believe this is the most likely outcome. Far more probable is the degradation of what we have. Slow, gradual erosion. Sliding further away from the Star-Trek future that the geeks of the world would like to believe is our fate.
tallyho.jpg If we look at areas of the first world where things have gone wrong – and the storms that hit my hometown in last month are a great illustration of this – what we find is that the great “backup” that we think we have in our governments is simply not there. The governments almost consistently are more concerned with maintaining public order. Governments do not have plans to cope with the erosion of infrastructure and services.
So if we cannot rely on governments to help us, who can we rely on?
As in the Novocastrian situation last month, or the fires that went through Rome a few years ago, or any other situation, the only people we can really rely on are our friends and family.
It is for this reason that I have returned to Rome.
In Jerusalem, I was vulnerable. When I needed help with anything, I was alone. In some circumstances, I could get Jim to assist, but only really in situations where there was direct benefit to him. He was that kind of person. And although there were people I could have fostered the kind of friendship that would be useful for helping each other out with things, the reality was that those kinds of relationships for me existed really only in Rome. After all, when I discovered last week that the provincial government had screwed up and invalidated my licence, all I had to do was call Will, and within a day, he flew to Jerusalem to pilot me home. In Jerusalem, I didn’t have someone who could cart some boxes across town. In Rome, I had someone who would lose two days to fly across the country and rescue me. And in reality, Will’s not alone – I have that kind of support here from several people.

Earlier on, I was telling a story, or at least developing a strand of a story here. So it’s time I got back to it. I promise not to go all boring. Because I love writing about the tangential stuff as much as the next bloke. But this blog is about my new direction, so I’ll get back to it very shortly.

roman_ruins_palmyra_syria_photo_gov.jpg

One of the things I guess I can be confident about is my ability to rebuild. Maybe it came from having moved schools 18 times in 13 years as a youngster? In my adult life though, the world has burnt and crumbled, yet been rebuilt. Reminds me of:

King of Swamp Castle: When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up.

So here I am again, needing to rebuild. I have every confidence it can be done, and probably done well considering the advantages I have for this new phase. But I have little patience for it.

Obviously, the first step is to obtain employment, and therefore give myself some financial room to move. So yesterday, I went to see a couple of temp agencies who were keen (and with Rome’s 3% unemployment rate, and seemingly more jobs than job-seekers, it’s a damn good market to be looking in). But like everything in Rome, it’s a process, and processes take time, and all I can do is await a phone call to let me know about the next stage. Waiting annoys me. It’s the hated hours that the phone doesn’t ring. It annoys me.

While I’m “vacant” though, I’ve sent out an email to my Roman friends. You know how it is when you think to yourself how useful it’d be to have an unemployed friend who can do stuff for you (wait at home for the plumber to come, or sit in the queue at the motor registry to renew your registration etc)? Well, I’m offering to be that person. After all, I have the time. And so I may as well use it productively to help my friends out. So if you do need a slave in Rome for that kind of thing, you know where I am.

Actually, that’s the kind of thing I mean when I talk about working cooperatively rather than competitively with peers – I have this resource (my time) that other people might not have at the moment. So I share it around, and help out whoever needs it. But I’m getting into philosophy there, so we’ll leave that for another time.

ah3853l-roman-shield.jpgSome of my things are packed up in Caerulia’s garage until it’s time for me to move out. Some are unpacked, and in the room I’m sharing with Lucius – he graciously has let me stay in the spare bed in his room.

Amongst the items in his room now is a scutum – a Roman legionary shield.

This afternoon, I went to Lucius’ school and walked him home. And I found out he’s been telling his friends at school that his dad is back from serving time with the Roman legions, in their conquest of Jerusalem. Of course, having spent most the weekend hanging out here and playing, his mate Harry is backing Lucius’ story.

🙂

Some days, it’s great to be a dad!

The trip was long, and the less said about it the better. Travelled from 6am to 1am. When we got to Caerulia’s, all I wanted was a shower and a sleep in a warm bed. I got both. It’s nice being back in a house with a good shower – that was one of the worst things about living in Jim’s house.

I’ve got a lot to write, about immediate plans, last night’s dinner party, condom-covered barmix machines, running into old colleagues, reuniting with old friends, the frustration of dial-up net access, changing fortunes, Will’s theories put into practice, and a whole lot more.

But until I get decent net access, a lot will be limited. My writing, my reading of blogs, even my favourite regular thing – YouTube Sunday- has to be curtailed. Sorry to the 3 or 4 people who like that one. Much much more to come though. I might have to start writing entries, then coming online to post them, rather than writing online.

The Lancer performed well though, but she is retired now. Until she gets some serious surgery.

The next step begins tomorrow. Ringing employment agencies I’ve already spoken to – arranging interviews for Tuesday and Wednesday. Rome’s employment situation is so good that it’s the kind of topic locals discuss in normal conversation – how businesses and government departments need people. So finding work should be easy. Then I have to get cash flowing once more. And find somewhere to live other than Lucius’ spare bed.

It’s nice to be home though.

In an hour, I leave.

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye, cheerio, here I go, on my way.

Next time, I’ll be coming to you live from Rome.

At some point this week (ie. today), I’ll be offline for a day or so. Loading, and travelling. I not sure when I’ll be back online, but I’ve forward-posted a couple of posts so there’ll still be fresh content for a while.

On Saturday, I am having a get-together in Rome for my friends. If any of my readers who are not already invited wish to join us, drop me an email.

Cheers all.

And to Jerusalem: So long and thanks for the fish.

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.

I was reading Indiana’s blog today, and a quote he used stuck out:

What would you do, if you weren’t afraid?

I thought about that question. Know what? If I were to answer it, I’d answer that I’d restructure my life to be closer to my friends, closer to my son and working for a purpose I believed in. I’d do exactly what I’m doing. Because a while back, I stopped being afraid. I stopped worrying about the future. I bought out of the bullshit game that we’re mostly all locked into.
Sure, I’d change some things if I were able to script the whole thing.  And yesterday’s YouTube Sunday post gives a hint to some of that. But other people have their choices to make and their paths to travel. I can only decide my destiny. So I’m going home.

Obviously, in the next few days, if I go silent, you’ll know why – because my computer (it’s name is Praetorian) will be packed up into the Lancer and will not emerge until we’re back in Rome.

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. 😥

At this stage, my return is scheduled for next week. Tuesday to be exact.

Today was my final day going to see my favourite local Judean football team – the Wynnum Vikings. They played against the Coorparoo Kings. The Reserves lost by 2. The Seniors won by 40. A few months ago, I was trying to volunteer to help out the club – with their website, or with their fundraising. But people lost my number, or didn’t get back to me. So that didn’t end up happening. Which was disappointing, because the Vikings games became one of the highlights of my last few months. My friends I would go to the game with bought me some club merchandise as a farewell gift, and the club president gave me a couple of bottles of club wine (which I made a gift to one of my friends, since I don’t drink). It was a good afternoon though.

This evening, I’m back at AFK wasting time. I’m mainly spending time here because I’ve had it with Jim, my housemate. But I wont get into a Jim-whinge here. Let’s just say that being cooped up with someone who is insane has sent me to my threshold, so now I’m just limiting my exposure to him. Here in the cafe though, I just tried out Civilization IV for the first time – it seems like a cool game, but it needs a lot more of my time before I’ll understand most of what is going on in the game. It’s very ‘pretty’ though. I may spend much of the evening “testing” it 🙂
In the cafe though, the constant MusicMax means I end up hearing songs I haven’t heard in years. At the moment, Duran Duran‘s Hungry Like the Wolf is playing away, about 5 feet above my head. (Oh, that just stopped, and now we’ve got Kim Wilde‘s Kids In AmericaCountdown flashbacks!)

Tomorrow I’m mainly sorting out some things for my car, to make sure the little Lancer is up for the great emigration. It’ll be an interesting trip. Reminds me a bit of those movies where a great journey is undertaken on a plane/ship/whatever that makes the distance, but arrives on its last legs, and crashes rather than arrives at its destination. I suspect the Lancer will be like that – it’ll make it to Rome, but then need so much work it’ll be a little while before it’ able to fly again.

Monday, I’ve got some paperwork in Jerusalem-city to sort out. I’ll also be going to see some of the people in the city office I’ve spent the last two years providing support for.

Tuesday, the journey commences. I’ve teed up with Will that if anything catastrophic happens, he’ll set sail to come and rescue me. So one way or another, mid next week, I should be back in Rome. More than four years since I first left.

Today was my last day working for the Judean provincial government. We had a large morning tea with people from our section and all the neighbouring sections. Then, I took my own staff (two of them) out for lunch – just some takeaway and then down to the park – the main purpoe was to get away from the office for an hour to let our minds switch off. Then, in the afternoon, our section shared cuppas and chocolate cake. After two years in the same role, I have to say that if every day was like today, I’d have probably stayed a lot longer. But mostly, for two years, the work was repetitive and monotonous. I met some nice people though. I’ll continue friendships with several of them. It was after all where I met Alderney and DryEyedCrab.

After work, I’ve once again come down to AFK Cafe, where Ozbhoy has made my night. We were chatting, and I couldn’t decide what I wanted for dinner.  So he took me into the kitchen, and we custom-designed a meal. A tomato-garlic based prawn/seafood pasta, with capers and enough chilli to make it interesting, made to exact specifications. I like the cafe because it’s the sort of place I just like hanging out, even without the net-aspect of it, or the fact it’s run by two of my friends. I’m crap at writing reviews of venues and meals and that kind of thing. But this is the kind of place that Jerusalem has lacked all along. I even promised Willett that if his cafe makes its first anniversary, I’ll buy the cafe a little gift. It’s looking quite good though – as I glance around the room, there’s about 20 paying customers in the place – which I guess is reasonable for dinnertime on a Friday.

It’s Russian. It’s pronounced temnaya nochya. It means dark night.

As some of you will know from this post where Will responded quite extensively, Will is of the opinion that our western culture is facing a showdown against Mother Nature, and it’s not a confrontation that is going to be pretty. With global warming threatening climatic, disease and food-supply problems and peak oil presenting serious problems to world trade, food supply and our energy-hungry culture, there are considerable problems presenting themselves.

One possible outcome of all this is a catastrophic collapse. Essentially, this means a reversion to pre-Industrial levels of society, where travel, cheap energy, exotic foods and nation states virtually disappear. But no shift would be possible with enormous disruption and, well, a fuckload of violence, anarchy and warfare.

This is the outcome Will and I refer to as the Temnaya Nochya scenario – the worst possible outcome. It would herald a new dark age. It’d be ugly. And realistically, while one could try and build defences against such an outcome, the destruction would b so extensive, it is unlikely that anyone could reliably guarantee coming through such a catastrophe.

dé·jà vu: (dā’zhä vōō’) n. An impression of having seen or experienced something before

Last year, at the Earth Dialogues Summit in Jerusalem, I rediscovered my past.
The summit was essentially a series of talks given by some very interesting people, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Noel Pearson, Tim Costello and many more. Their message was clear – if the civilisation we all inhabit continues the way it’s headed, a crash is inevitable. Which is a message I’d been receiving from Will for years. About 20 years actually. But like most people when confronted with such news, I denied it.
Will, for those who haven’t met him (and that’s most of you), has two modes of belief when it comes to this topic. When he’s an pessimist, he thinks Mother Nature is gunna come along, slap us down, and put us in our place. And it’ll be fucken ugly. When he’s feeling optimistic, he thinks we’ve got the potential to avoid the ugly bits, if we extract our digit in a manner rapid.
For a long time, I tended to fall into the mindset of most people who Will talks to – I’d give some of his ideas credence, but most of them are so stark raving mad that I’d ignore them. But Will talks. And talks and talks and talks. Being his friend for twenty years means I’ve learnt to switch off when he’s going on, and on, and on. But even though I turn off, and most of what he says washes over me, the way the waves wash over a rock on the shore, what he says must soak in. Because sometimes, the larger world will throw up something and it’ll register in my brain “Will predicted that ten years ago”.
So here I was at the Earth Dialogues last year, and people of the calibre of Gorby were speaking Will’s words. And executives of large companies. And high-level politicians. And bureaucrats. All saying things Will had been saying for years, and had been scoffed at for.
Since then, and it’s been almost a year now, the message has begun to be reinforced. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. ABC’s Four Corners’ report on Peak Oil. Numerous media articles.
So I’ve been revisiting twenty years of talks with Will, and what they mean. And the direction my life’s gone, and where it should go next.

Because I no longer buy into the materialistic bullshit that is so central to our society, when I first considered going back to Rome, I thought I’d get some cruddy job for 2 or 3 days a week, just enough to pay my bare essentials, and I’d spend the rest of my time with Lucius, or working on Will’s farm, or devoting myself to other pursuits, like writing or some kind of political activism, as I’d done in the past.
But when it looked like Alderney would be coming with me, that path looked impossible – I’d need to live in Rome itself, not in one of the outlying villages, and I’d need to have a fulltime job, with all the baggage that goes along with that.
Now, even though I’m back to going to Rome alone, I’ve stuck with the idea of living in the suburbs, and doing the whole usual crap – job, house, car, suburban existence etc. In the long run, it’ll probably be better for Lucius that way. But just like adding widgets to this here wordpress blog, I’ve been thinking what ‘widgets’ I’d add to my Roman life.

So what do I want my Roman life to look like?
Read More »

The Family CrestLast spring, when the idea first began to take root, the idea to return to Rome, I began to wonder – if I went back, what would my life be like? What do I want to do? How do I want to live? Very early, a few central themes began to form.
About ten years ago, I was working in the Martial College in Rome. It was there that young men came to be taught how to be officers in the army. My job was in the publishing area. I worked on the preparation of teaching documents, and the “text books” the student officers used in their lessons. I was the only civilian in an office of five people.
One day, I was told to do a publishing job which was the menu for a cafe that was owned by the wife of one of the instructors at the College. Since it was unquestionably not an official document, I refused. For those who’ve never worked for military bosses, I’ll let you in on a secret – they don’t take refusal very well. A standoff developed, and the result was that I was sent home until the dispute could be resolved.
The other thing about military people is they like to do things their own way and at their own pace. And when it came to resolving my dispute, my refusal to follow my boss’ instructions, that pace was positively tectonic.
I was home a fortnight before I began to realise that this waiting game might take a while. So I decided to use my time more productively. I had a friend who worked for the local MP, and so I asked Jase how a party member with plenty of time on his hands could help out the movement. Within days, I was working in the office of the Party Leader. It started off as Thursdays, but since I was still being paid to be at home, it rapidly escalated until I was working fulltime as a researcher for Kim’s office. Later, I expanded the role I was doing until I was supervising more than a dozen part-time staff (mostly uni students) and lending them out (like a temp-agency) to the offices of Shadow Ministers.
Over the next few months, I geared up until I was working 16-18 hour days five days a week, and 10 hour days on weekends. And I was loving it.
It was from this period that I learnt that for me to truly be happy in my work, I needed to be working at something I believed in. I needed a crusade, something I could throw myself into.

farm.jpgThe point of yesterday’s post is that I have a public reason for returning to Rome, and a personal one. And while both are honest reasons, the reality is that one is more driving than the other.
The public reason for returning, the reason I tell anyone who asks, is to be closer to Lucius. He’s 8 and a half now, and Caerulia and I’ve been separated since he was almost 4. The older he gets, the more important it is for me to be around and be a stronger influence than I’m able to be from a thousand miles away.
The private reason is that when I look at the map, and plot where my friends are, they’re all in Rome. A few in the areas around Rome, and Marquis in Mos Eisley. But they aren’t in Jerusalem. So to be a thousand miles away is insanity.
In other words, Lucius isn’t the main reason, even if he is a reason.
There are ways that, if I wanted to stay in Jerusalem, I could get around the issue of Lucius – more frequent visits, having him come to Jerusalem instead of only me going to Rome, and other strategies. But the fact is, I want to go home, and return from my exile.
Because when I go home, there’s lots I have to do. Lots of projects to undertake, and put into action. Especially stuff I’ve been working on – in one form or another – for years.

I think most people have this decision-making thing wrong.
How do you make a decision?
Most people will tell you they examine the benefits and disadvantages of options, and weigh them up. Some will consult with friends, family or other trusted people. They’ll take advice from a variety of sources. They’ll accept some, reject some and fudge their ideas accordingly. They’ll ponder, and then come to a decision based on those factors.
I think that’s a lot of crap.
We all make decisions with our hearts, not our heads. We decide based on what we want, and then we “justify” the conclusions by creating “rational” explanations for them.
A case in point, to illustrate.
I had a friend, Sasha, who was unhappy in his job. He looked back fondly on his university days, and decided he wished to return to them. So he came up with a plan that involved ditching his job, using his payout to pay for a new PC, and returning to university.
When he presented this plan to his friends, they argued against his plan. He’d failed uni before due to lack of commitment, there was no reason things would be different this time around. He’d gotten used to living on $30K, he’d hate living on $8K. We had plenty of reasons it wouldn’t work, and as his friends, we tried to advise him against it.
Sasha did it anyway of course. Six months later, he was broke, unemployed, failing uni, and more depressed than he was before the story began.
From observing this at close quarters though, I realised something. None of the counter-arguments that I and Sasha’s other friends had put up had the slightest chance of dissuading him. Because the reasons he was putting forward weren’t real. They were just the cover-story. Even if our arguments were strong, they’d not win the day, because the decision was made. We were simply debating the window-dressing he’d put on the decision. The real issue was his dissatisfaction with his work.
Now, more than ten years on, I’m convinced that all people do this, with almost all decisions. Especially the more major decisions in their lives.
I am not exempt from this. So when I sit here writing about my reasons for leaving Jerusalem, and returning to Rome, I’m trying to differentiate from the real motivations, and the window-dressing. Mostly because I’m past needing window-dressing. I don’t really have to justify my decisions to anyone. So there’s no need to apply window-dressing to the reasons behind my actions.

strooperhelmet.jpgFollowing the revelation I had in this post, I began to look at where I was with my life, and why. And I especially began to look at the question of my geography.
I left Rome in 2004 primarily because of two factors – there was a girl pulling me toward Jerusalem, and I’d also run into some problems in Rome. The problems in Rome involved a legal tussle, and it ended badly. And to be blunt, I left Rome because I knew if I’d stayed, I’d have been consumed with rage and a desire for revenge.
But following the realisation that I no longer had those emotions of the DarkSide (anger, vengeance, hatred etc) that reason for being away from Rome rapidly evaporated.
Then, within a matter of only a few weeks, the other reason (the girl, Veronique) ceased to be an issue as well. I’d had a weird relationship with her, and for a long time, I had suspected that the best result (even if it was one I’d have hated) would be if one of us cut the strings. And in early October last year, that’s exactly what happened. We simultaneously cut the cord.
And that happened within 2 weeks of the DarkSide revelation.
So a seed started growing in my brain – with the end of Veronique, and the realisation that the DarkSide no longer controlled me, there was nothing to stop me returning to Rome whenever I liked.
But what would I do there? I could go back, but to what? A question I began to explore quite a bit, especially with Caerulia and William (formerly known here as “Yuri”).

200px-vespasian_01.jpgIn possibly a bad career move, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, an up-and-coming Senator once fell asleep during a lyre recital of the Emperor Nero. For offending the Emperor, he was sent to the fringe province of Judaea as Governor, just as the Jewish rebellion was taking place. He spent four or five years there in exile before the civil war that followed the death of Nero meant his own troops declared him Emperor . In the power struggle that followed, other provinces’ garrisons began to declare Vespasian Emperor and soon he returned to Rome, to sit on the Imperial throne for the remainder of his life (another 10 or so years).
Because of this story, Caerulia and I often referred to any kind of exile as “going to Judaea”.

So when she and I split up in 2002, and I left our hometown and moved interstate, to a distant land on the fringe of the nation, we just (naturally) would refer to it as Judaean exile. The state I went to, we’d refer to as Judaea, and the city got the title of “Jerusalem”.

That’s where they began – the pseudonyms for place names. Originally, they were just in emails or text messages between my ex-wife and I. Our home town (which just happens to be the national capital) was Rome, my place of exile was Jerusalem. Unfortunately, it also created the situation where the locals in “Judaea” were people we called “Jews”. So when I was in a bad mood with my new land, and having a rant against the narrow-minded tendencies of the locals, my words could easily be read by people who didn’t understand as fanatical anti-semitic tirades. Ah well, I’m kind of used to some people not understanding things I say or write.

In a few months, my time here will be over.

It will either end in late June, or at the end of winter. The decision isn’t mine – it depends on Alderney. If she decides to return with me to Rome, the logistics are much more complex and much more expensive, and time will be needed to save up extra. But at this stage, it seems my return will be alone. So I am considering the life I wish to live when I do return.

lake-tekapo.jpgOne major motivation for going back to Rome is Lucius. He is now eight, and getting to the stage in his life when his father should be around, not just a presence at the end of a telephone line. He’s getting into football, cricket and various other activities and I know Caerulia is wishing for my return so she doesn’t have to spend every moment chasing him to sport, friends’ places, school events and everything else he gets up to. Me being in the same city, especially if I live nearby, would mean I could share these jobs, taking him to activities and therefore giving Caerulia her life back, to an extent.

But when I first decided to return to Rome, at the end of the Veronique chapter last October, I made some other decisions at the same time. I realised back then a lot about who I have become. I’m no longer ambitious or materialistic. I don’t feel the need to pursue material goals the way I once did. I’m more focussed on remaining content within my own world, rather than competing with others.

So I decided I’d like to concentrate on a few things other than career progression when I returned to Rome. I’d like to devote more time to writing, and that means I’ll also devote more time to reading. I have bookcases full of half-completed books I’m yet to finish reading. I’d also like to return to my political work, especially in lobbying for the things I believe are important. And I also wish to work more closely once more with Yuri. And put some flesh on some of the ideas that have been churning around my mind for the last five or ten years. Ideas of cooperation, rather than competition.