Back to the drudge

Back at work as of yesterday and while it was something I dreaded it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I was back in my groove pretty quickly and driven on to make sure nothing had been fucked up in my absence, and that no-one had tried to interfere with my stuff.

Second day back and the novelty has worn off, but it’s okay still and tomorrow in any case is another public holiday. I’ll be sitting there watching the big Anzac day clash sipping on a bottle of wine with a friend and chewing on home-made pork pot-stickers.

There’s very little to report on from the work perspective, which is both good and bad. Good in the sense that nothing was fucked up; bad in the sense that it would be nice if something new and interesting occasionally occurred.

I was back in the saddle and in control pretty quickly. After that I caught up with a few people and had informal meetings. One of those was with the marketing director who sat down with me and mapped out a list of people I should contact regarding job opportunities elsewhere. I’ve already started on that.

This was one of the disappointing aspects of my time off. I’d hope to get some real traction in the job search and instead got a lot of wheel spin. There seemed little about relevant to me, and while I had a few conversations nothing much of substance came out of it. I returned to work with only one iron in the fire, and that not particularly encouraging with the NBN.

These days it’s all about contacts and networking. I used to have a bunch of good contacts and a great network. Over the years many of those have moved on and my time in the wilderness was fatal for quite a few of those relationships. I’m reliant on the support of others, which is why the leg-up yesterday was so valuable.

I’m off to a networking function next week and hope to be meeting up with some of these contacts for a coffee and a discussion about how we can do business together.


When I nearly caught the Easter bunny

Here’s a fun Easter tale.

Way back when I was in about grade one at school – say six years old – I was sitting in class on what was probably the Thursday before Easter. This was at Thornbury PS, which was a combination of old brick buildings and the old portable classrooms. Our classroom was in one of the wings of the brick building and I was sitting in about the middle of the room when I glanced across to the windows on the left hand side of the room and unexpectedly saw a pair of bunny ears cross from left to right.

In hindsight I know that someone – probably a teacher – had dressed up in a rabbit outfit, no doubt for a bit of festive fun with us. We were elevated far enough off the ground that all that was visible was the ears. All this I recognise in retrospect. At the time all I knew that this was a momentous moment which I heralded by shouting out “The Easter bunny!”

Without a second thought I left my desk and piled out of the room in search of the Easter bunny – followed by the rest of the class.

We found the bunny and pursued him across the playground calling after him at the top of our voice. He was more hare than bunny as he high-tailed away from us, surprised to have so many young, screaming children after him. We must have come as a shock to the teacher inside the suit. They’d probably planned a more civilised celebration, but my intervention had foiled that.

The bunny got away from us in the end and in all the years since I’ve pictured that teacher, the head of the bunny under his arm, wiping the sweat from his face as he explained with a laugh about how twenty six year olds nearly caught him up.

Old Easter

Easter didn’t feel much like Easter this year, maybe because I was already on hols. And maybe because it came later than usual.

It was pretty mellow in my household, with a bunch of hot cross buns but no chocky. I caught up for coffee, went to the farmer’s market, did some cooking, watched the footy. On Saturday night I went out for dinner at the Cheeses. On Sunday I went out for a deeply indulgent lunch. Monday I took it easy.

It used to be that I’d spend Easter with the extended family down at Yarck, where we had a property. More often than not I’d stay in the log cabin separate to the house. The days we’d spend reading in front of the pot-bellied stove or going on short trips to places like Mansfield. In the evening we’d eat well and crack a few bottles of red wine. Occasionally we’d sit down and play a board game or two, something I would always pull a face at but secretly enjoyed.

We did that for about 15 years, long enough that it became a ritual you couldn’t imagine ending. It did though. My step-father, Fred, who I loved, sold the property when he got ill with cancer in 2007. He died that year and a few years later, in 2012, so did my mum. Her death basically decimated the family group. There were about 14 of us, including kids, who would share Easter together. Three of that number are now dead, I don’t see my sister, and the rest (bar my sister’s kids) I lost in the fall-out over mum’s will.

It’s been long enough that I don’t feel the absence of that occasion, though if ever I reflect on it that occasion it seems a golden, happy time. It was a warm and affectionate occasion. It was a cosy sanctuary away from the city and, sadly, there are some I was really close to I’ve now lost forever, and not just the dead.

At 82, Glenda Jackson Commands the Most Powerful Role in Theater – The New York Times

I wanted to comment on this. Not only is it a very good profile piece it’s on one of the actors I grew up following. Even as a boy I was drawn to this sort of feminine personality – strong, intelligent, articulate, somewhat irascible. I guess I’m drawn to anyone who is completely themself, as Jackson always has been.

Listening to her in this was fascinating, and I found myself echoing many of her sentiments in my thoughts. To me they seem familiar and true.

One last thing. Referenced throughout is Shakespeare, and Jackson’s role as King Lear. Her commentary on his writing drew me close. I was in general agreement, though she voiced opinions I’d not formulated for myself. More specifically, her words gave substance to some of the themes of what I’m currently writing. It was reassuring.

Anyway, read this, and check her out.

Mulling it over

On Friday, as I prepared to head out for lunch, I contemplated dropping in on my dad. I haven’t seen or spoken to my father for about three years I reckon, maybe longer. I haven’t missed him much and even when we were talking we didn’t have much of a relationship. I don’t miss him, but I miss that functional relationship. It can feel pretty solitary when there’s no family network to lean upon.

Funnily enough, I was heading out to have lunch with a branch of the family I rarely see, my aunt and uncle and my cousins. They’re all decent, sensible people, unpretentious in every way. Growing up they were the modest wing of the family while we were glam – social, ambitious, striving, curious and challenging. I was very much of my family, but I found theirs almost an antidote to the occasional complexity of life on my side of the fence. It was lovely to see them again and it was a fine lunch.

The lunch venue was about ten minutes from where dad lived, though where exactly I didn’t know. I searched for him but couldn’t isolate him from the rest so never visited. Perhaps it was for the best – a friend tells me turning up on his doorstep like that might not have been the best idea. I’m not sure I agree – in ways I think it might have been the best way. And anyway, you can’t give up being ballsy.

So I didn’t visit him and mulled it over on the weekend. I didn’t seek a reconciliation as such, but I was conscious that he was getting older and anything was possible. I didn’t want to be the man who missed the important moments because of some petty dispute.

I wrote an email to him in which I expressed some of this:

We’ve had our differences but there’s nothing either of us can change or undo and I don’t waste my time thinking otherwise. Fact of the matter is we’ve never really been in each other’s lives, which is why this separation has been seamless – for me, at least.
I hope you’re well and healthy. Regardless of how we left it, I don’t wish for anything but good stuff for you. That’s what I wanted you to know. I don’t want you to think I’m bitter or angry. I’m none of that. Life’s much too interesting – and challenging – to be looking backwards.
I don’t know what I expected from this. There were times I have been bitter knowing what I was deprived of. Then I was disappointed that he didn’t fight harder to save our relationship. I think he was scared, so unlike the man I knew. As I said, there’s a time for being ballsy.
These now are no more than very gentle regrets. As I express, none of it can be changed now and perhaps that’s all I needed to say. I don’t think I could ever be close to him but I’m perfectly capable of being friendly and supportive.
So I sent my email and about nine hours later it came back to me, undeliverable. That was strange given I had sent it to an email address attached to his domain, and address I’d used before. So I tried another address with less hope and this too bounced back.
That’s where it stands. I can take it as the world telling me to give it away or I can try to source a current email address. That too I will mull over.

Places of the spirit

Of course, there are things that run through my head all the time. Often I think I must write about that, but mostly I never get around to it. Until there’s such an application that taps directly into my mind that will be the case.

Today I want to specifically reference the fire that has consumed Notre Dame, in Paris. I feel for the French, and the Parisians particularly, for whom this must feel like a blow to the soul. It feels an unreal event, an affront to nature, something that could never happen and should never happen.

I first walked into Notre Dame about 21 years ago. I’ve been to many cathedrals in my time, but this has always been my favourite. I’m a history buff and knowing that so many momentous events had happened right here was a thrill in itself. There was a deeper, darker connection than that though. I remember standing beneath the high roof surrounded by the immense stone columns and peering at the beautiful stained glass windows and feeling humbled by the meaning of it all. It felt a great spiritual moment.

Places like Notre Dame are living reminders of the wonder and mystery of our existence. We live in the moment so much these days, but Notre Dame had stood for almost a millennia. It teemed with life and history. With luck, it might have gone on for another millennium, or more. I guess that’s true for many such buildings and there are dozens of others who have left me just as impressed – but not so spiritually engaged. Notre Dame felt like a living place to me, not just of history but of humanity as well. I think of only one other place off the top of the head I felt so moved, the Pantheon in Rome.

Notre Dame has not been completely destroyed they say, though the spire has fallen and no doubt the wondrous stained glass is gone – as well as the old, middle-aged wooden structure. It will be rebuilt, as it must, but will it be the same place?

Update: it appears that while the roof and spire have gone and much structural damage otherwise, the bulk of the stonework has been saved – in fact, photos from inside are almost eerie with the area around the altar a pile of blackened ruins tumbled from the roof, while most of the nave seems untouched. Most importantly – and almost miraculously – the famous, magnificent rose stained glass appears undamaged.

This week

I love a social life, but I also crave ‘me’ time. I love to be out among the bright lights eating and drinking well, talking, laughing, flirting, but I also cherish the quiet moments when I can curl up with a good book, a good movie, or listening to tunes whipping up some culinary feast. There are days I’m happy to see no-one, do nothing, and many days I barely walk out the door. I love the fizz and pop of a night out on the town, but in my heart H is a solo beast who plays at being one of the pack.

Last week was a social week. I was out for dinner and drinks twice and had a great old time basking in the balmy evenings and downing pisco sours. Another night a friend visited me and we ended up at a wine bar. And on another occasion, I drove an hour to get to the other side of town to have lunch with cousins and my aunt and uncle in the salubrious Eltham Hotel.

This week I look forward to being sedate. It’s the last week before I go back to work. I’ve achieved a lot this break but there are still things on my list. I’ll tidy them up and once they’re done what I’ve got left is a week of reading and writing.

It’s a warm, sunny day. I’ve just come from coffee up the road and posting a card to my nephew for his birthday (due to arrive before it for a change). I’ll give Rigby a walk later but otherwise, I’m home for the day.

These are the things I must do: update this blog; scan a few more pics; call up the doc about an ultrasound I had yesterday (suspect there’s a problem with my toe); call up the local salvos about donating some stuff; pickle or preserve something; and take my old massage shop manager to the doc tomorrow. Jobs something in there as well (have a live opportunity with NBN but don’t have the telco experience).

I have mixed in this last week of my leave. In some ways, it will be harder than ever returning to work. It could have gone either way, but in this case my absence has solidified my feelings about the office being unprofessional and slapdash. I wish it wasn’t so. I’m disappointed nothing more substantial has popped up in these weeks. There’s not a lot about. If I’m patient something will eventuate, however.

Have I resolved anything in myself? You have to understand I live an intensely interior life, especially when I’m writing. My real life refracts my writing experience, and vice versa. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to write. That’s especially true of this book, which has a dense psychological perspective. I want to get it right, though I know it instinctively. Once I write it out I often find that instinctive knowledge becomes conscious knowledge. The act of writing drags up things from deep within me I sense more than know. When it hits the light it becomes true in a way and I can look upon the written word and understand it for myself (sometimes I think there’s a form of automatic writing at work). I reflect upon it as an individual. It informs my perspective and potentially my behaviours.

What I’m saying is that while I’ve given little direct thought to my situation it is thrown into relief by what I write. It has a heft I cannot shrug. In a way it feels like a dark secret – I am the man who writes this; I carry this within me.

It’s little wonder that writing is therapeutic for me, but as yet I don’t know the fullness of what it means.