The breaks

Interesting day yesterday. Quite notable in a number of ways.

It started off not so good. I woke up to a feeling of despair. The situation has been preying on my mind. Every day that goes by I’m closer to tipping over the edge. I feel largely helpless, as if I’m in a barrel that is bobbing along getting ever nearer to the tumbling falls.

Like so often I wracked my mind for a solution. I have tried so many things, but to little or no avail. On Monday night I was shot with it. I just wanted it to be over. Sleep comes as a comfort. But then I wake and it’s there again.

Yesterday was different in that it was Melbourne Cup day – a holiday – and I was going to the cup. That at least was something I could look forward to.

I was a late call-up. Donna was going to her usual Melbourne Cup day function at Flemington. She’d heard that their cook for the day – the person who mans the BBQ – couldn’t make it. Since I’m handy with a pair of tongs in my hand she recommended me. And so there I was, heading for the course and a day out for no more than the price of a train ticket. Free food, free booze, some carefree company, and all for the price of cooking up some cutlets, etc.

It was good to dress up again, to join the throng, and be part of the event again. That’s one of the things you miss. It’s so rare that I feel normal. I watch people go about their daily life and 99% of the time feel separate from them. Yesterday I could feel a part of society again. I felt normal.

It was a good day. The cooking was no great hardship – I actually enjoy cooking on the barbie. The weather was perfect, the people friendly, the atmosphere celebratory.

I had no money to spend but for a few dollars I had left in an old betting account. I had to be selective with my betting, and much more prudent with my spending than I’m used to. I didn’t bet on most races, and when I did I often went the exotics.

Come the Cup I was about square with the card. I put money on Trip to Paris to win, with a saver on Prince of Penzance – a rank outsider. I took out a trifecta as well, putting 5 horses into it. Then the race began.

It takes a while to develop and then it happens all at once. When they went past the post I didn’t know what had won. A moment later someone said it was Prince of Penzance – and I had won $600.

As it turned out I could have had the trifecta too – it paid $20K, and I had first, second and fourth.

It gives you a bit of a skip in your step when you win something like that. On a more practical level it also gave me some hope. There’s symbolism in winning – when you’re losing everything an unexpected win takes on a meaning beyond that of a few extra dollars in your pocket. Is it a sign, a portent of a turning tide?

More relevantly, it meant that I was $600 closer to paying my rent. I’m still about $500 short, but that’s easier to manage. Another $600 on top of that and I can pay my bills too, but one shouldn’t be greedy.

While I was there something else significant occurred. The phone rang and a woman with an Asian American voice wanted to conduct a short interview with me about a job I had applied for. It was not ideal timing. I had a beer in my hand (my third), and was about to get cooking again. It was noisy about me, and the vibe distinctly un-businessy.

I mentioned that I was at the races, but it seemed to go over her head. I couldn’t say no to her, and so went through the process.

It’s funny how hard it is to get your head around such things when the vibe is so different. I was straining to hear her over the background noise, and struggled to think to think or articulate proper answers to her questions. I felt as if I was waffling on with meaningless platitudes, but it was sufficiently impressive for her to book an interview for me this Friday.

This is very positive also, and a rare development these days – an actual fucking interview! Weird, huh?

So, not only do I win $600 yesterday, I also score an interview. The day had started out bad, but was ending up fine.

We left a little before 7. The train was a happy place. I know the Melbourne Cup is notorious for many things, but yesterday I saw a lot of things that reminded me why I like Aussies so much – the humour, the easy camaraderie, the joy in the occasion, and sheer life.

There was a group on the train who had obviously had a good day. They began singing, and then others in the carriage joined in. It reminded me of how we were like that, the years we’d start belting out Singing in the Rain while others looked at us with benevolent, good natured smiles. And how eventually the whole carriage would join in.

Donna and I ended up at the Arbory bar at Flinders Street station. We had a cold drink looking out over the river. There we bumped into some of our colleagues from the races and shared another laugh. I went to sleep last night much more hopeful than I had 24 hours before.

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