Father’s day


Maybe because it’s Father’s Day today I dreamt of dad last night. In the dream, I saw myself as he did: ever so reliable and intelligent, but prickly to boot.

I don’t know how true that is, but I’m sure it’s a true impression for some of me. If I am ever prickly then – I say – it’s in defence of my independence, or to assert a right. Or maybe to refute a nonsense I won’t abide.

As for dad, if he ever thought that, then the first part he took for granted while exaggerating the second.

Needless to say, I’m doing nothing for father’s day. I’m having lunch with him this week, I think. I think he’s mellowing.

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Hmmm…


The dream I had last night was both interesting and disturbing, and also hard to explain. It was a world in which there were different versions of ourselves – or rather, different versions of ourselves residing in different worlds. The worlds were similar, but none were the same, with small but significant differences between them.

As me, I was aware both of the diversity of worlds, and also a hierarchy of sorts. Each of the worlds and each of the different personas were subsets of the one true original – like copies made slightly different. The ‘I’ in the dream was living in one of the subsets, and I knew it. It didn’t feel entirely natural to me. I would be surprised, and sometimes disturbed, by how things weren’t as I expected. It wasn’t altogether comfortable, as if I was a stranger in a strange land.

What I knew is that I had to get back to the source world. That was a common aspiration, but it was different for me. I felt as if I was living a life not meant for me, and knew that the highest goal in life was to be the original, not an inferior copy. And so I wriggled like a worm on a hook wanting to get back to where I thought I belonged, my true self in that true world, but not knowing how to get there.

Make of that what you will.

Family split


These days I dream every night and mostly in vivid detail, more than at any other stage of my life. I’ve given up thinking anything much of it. Occasionally I might dwell briefly on a dream, surprised more about the unexpected faces featuring in it than any deeper meaning. But then, as dreams go, they’re gone.

Last night though I dreamt of my step-sister and I woke up this morning feeling sad.

I was very close to my step-sister. When my mum married a second time we became an extended family. She was about 17 then and crushed on me for a while, which is probably not unusual in the circumstances. She wanted nothing more than to be part of a family again and she loved my mum, and as part of the package she gained a cool older brother.

As it turned out we hit it off naturally anyway. She was an attractive, intelligent, bubbly personality. Everyone loved her because she was so easy and natural with them. I don’t think she ever stopped crushing on me completely, but in return I grew very fond of her. (Even after she married I often felt as if she felt more in tune with me than with her husband). The truth of it is that in the extended family we were the two closest siblings, even though our relationship was purely by marriage. Certainly I was much closer to her in nature, in attitude, in personality, than I was with my own natural born sister. For many years we shared good times.

That all changed in the aftermath of mum’s death. The family split in two along bloodlines and her side of the family chose to challenge mum’s will. From principle as much as anything else, we resisted. The fall-out was that our relationship ended, even after a settlement had been reached.

I was sad at that but at the same time the dispute had soured me of families for a while. I accepted our break as a consequence of that.

In the years since we’ve had no direct contact. She made a late night call to me a few years ago that I didn’t notice till the day after. Last year I was surprised to find her following me on Facebook, and eventually I sent her a message hoping to repair the relationship. She never responded.

Catching up with my cousins lately I got some news of her. They’re still friends with her on Facebook and until recently, my Aunt told me, she had been sending birthday cards up. I knew she had split from her husband a few years back. They told me she had taken up with an older man in Queensland, where she lives. They told me she’d just returned from a visit to Melbourne.

I thought about her on the drive back from lunch. A lot of that time feels wrong and nothing will change that because a lot of that time was wrong. Looking back it was an ugly and terribly difficult time of my life. Not only had my mum just died and a conflict erupted over her will, but I was also broke and unemployed and almost certainly suffering from depression. I was a mess.

I understood the rupture between us at that time, but always felt as if I had more reason to be aggrieved than her. I would have accepted whatever was in mum’s will and all I was doing was defending her final wishes. It was my step-sister and her family who were challenging it.

We lost contact and she deleted me as a friend on Facebook. I understood that, but she also unfriended Donna, who had nothing to do with this. They were friendly and got on well, though Donna first and foremost was my friend. Once more, I can only presume it was that relationship that my step-sister could no longer abide. She became collateral damage and I never really understood why.

So now I’m dreaming about her and what I feel is affection and sorrow. We had a deep connection. I loved her, and she me. After losing my mother that was he next biggest loss I suffered, and they came as a double whammy. Clearly I’ve never got over that loss completely.

I’m tempted to let it go and accept it as one of the unfortunate mischances that occur in life. Sad, but there it is.

It’s an interesting case for me. I’ve never really been someone who’ll let fate dictate my life. That’s just not my nature. Common sense tells me to let it go, but I wonder how that will leave me feeling. No matter everything that’s happened to me I’ve never lost my sense of hope. Part of that is the belief that it’s better to do something than nothing. You have to try. It seems to me that if I let it slide then it’s an acceptance that there are no happy endings. As they say though, for all my grumpiness, I always vote life.

The people you dream of


I had an interesting dream last night. In it were a couple of my friends from primary school, Lindsay and Lincoln.

L1 was always a lovely kid. He was sweet natured and generous. He was a good looking kid with a mop of Beatle-esque hair and a strong physical presence. I remember him as a gentle but robust soul who would do anything to help you out.

L2 was good looking too, blonde instead of brown-haired, but he was crazy as well. He was one of those willful, hard to control kids who marched to beat of his own private drum. I remember him once swallowing a goldfish, and another time a girl called Merryn complaining because he’d flopped out his old fella sitting there looking at her in class.

So in the dream – which is vague – we’re all somewhere down by the seaside when we’re dared to do something we’re not supposed to. There’s a bunch of us, not just L1 and L2, but other kids too and we’re all about 8-9. I seem to be taking the lead and the mission we’re on feels like an adventure, like something we’re supposed to do even if it’s not allowed, as if we need to do this as an expression of the individuals we’re becoming, like one of those things you do in all defiance of instruction because it feels the right thing to do.

So we progress. We travel along the coastline, which is beautiful, to a point where we’ve been expressly forbidden, though we’re still short of our destination. One of the boys is quivering. “My daddy told me not to come here,” he says. But then there’s a beckoning voice, a woman’s voice, alluring at any age, but particularly to an adventurous eight year old determined to prove himself. She’s teasing, recognising our doubts and our fears, and gently playing on them like a siren, “don’t you want too…”, daring us to overcome our reservations. And, at my insistence, we do.

That’s pretty much the dream, but throughout it felt a positive dream, like a movie in a way, like something we’re supposed to do that will make a big difference to the people we become. This is our coming of age moment, and I sense it. And for some reason, out of all the people I went to school with, L1 and L2 are there with me.

Out of curiosity I googled them this morning. I haven’t seen L1 since I was about 20. He was still a lovely kid then, still good looking, though he’d levelled out at about 5’8”, but built square with huge shoulders. I wasn’t sure searching for him, but I found someone with the same name who looks little like the L1 I knew but is in the same area we grew up in. This one is a priest too, or a minister, and though that may seem unusual I remember had become spiritual and was heavily involved in the church. He’d been nothing like that at 10. On the balance of probability, I think it’s probably him – there’s only a head-shot to go by, and the pic I saw was of an ascetic-looking man with close shaved hair. And – looking at the pic again – I realise he’s the spitting image of his dad.

I haven’t seen L2 since we were about 12. Not surprisingly he left school under a shadow. A lot can happen in that time. He was taller than most then, but there’s a lot of growing for all of us after that age, and it’s different for everyone. This L2 I found is a notable architect these days and is about the right age – and the only person I found with his name in Melbourne. He looks roughly like the L2 I knew, older, more lived in. I always figured that part of his problem was he was smarter – more aware – than most, and it’s no surprise if he has in fact made something decent of his life.

I hope so for both of them. Strange to remember them now. Sort of nice though, too.

Little pricks


I had a dream last night a little dweeb called Caleb Bond had published a novel to great acclaim. Bond is a young conservative columnist who looks like he hasn’t started to shave yet. He’s a fanboy of the conservative elements of the government and will occasionally indulge in the sort of breathless, fanboy prose that makes you feel like taking a shower after reading it. The rest of the time he’s a derisive, superficial critic of all things truly liberal. He’s a smug little prick with smug little prick views and just the sort of smug little prick you want to punch in the face. He and I are not close.

So anyway, in my dream, he opens up as the author of a novel that may be close to being a masterpiece and my world comes crumbling down.

For a start, how can someone I’ve dismissed so emphatically be capable of actual art? How does a smug little prick with the self-awareness of a gnat create something so layered with meaning and texture? And as I read it myself I become aware that the little cunt is actually the real deal. And, what the fuck, he’s actually got something published while I, heroic liberal that I am, slave away going in circles.

There’s a lot going on here. I mean, have I been so reductive in the first place that I can’t contemplate that someone might be more than their unimpressive public profile? What does that say about me? I wonder, where does art come from? What is the wellspring of it when clearly – as history shows – not all of its practitioners have been great characters (though generally, unlike Bond, have some talent)? I question everything, but what bites deepest is that he has done the very thing I seem incapable of doing – producing a work of art. That burns, and in the dream, I wonder if maybe I am a fucking snowflake after all.

Thankfully, it’s only a dream, and if that little suppository ever publishes anything worth reading I’ll join a monastery.

Where has this come from though? The Caleb Bond part of it is completely random. He’s a snide character, but so are most of his mates and I don’t waste much time worrying about any of them (though I’m curious how someone so young can hold such extreme conservative views- Keating used to call them ‘young fogies’).

What I really think is that this dream is a product – or reflection – of my own recent writing journey. It’s been bloody frustrating lately. Maybe Caleb Bond – a little prick – is the symbolic little prick to rouse me to greater effort?

I set myself to get to 50,000 words by the time I return to work on Monday. As of now, I’m a little over 45,000. I started off well this week, but then a combination of things sidetracked me – social events, hot weather, the cricket. Really though, what stopped me was that I’m at a creative loss just at the minute.

These episodes generally don’t worry me too much. I go back a little, I have a break, I take a look from different angles, and eventually, something will come to me. That’s been the case these last 15,000 words, but it’s not getting any easier, and even what I’ve done I’m not sure about.

I likened it the other day to driving on a winding mountain road at night with dim headlights. You’re not sure what’s coming up ahead, if you should turn left or right or keep going straight and you proceed tentatively, only to look back and wonder if you missed your turn and if you’re on the right road.

That’s where I’m at. I haven’t crashed yet, but I’m not sure where I am or where I’m heading.

The dreams that tell the tale


Had a series of dreams last night where I encountered women who looked at me with affection and sadness. I know none of these in real life, but in the dream it’s clear that at some time in the past I’d had a ‘thing’ with each of them, and for each of them when it ended they were left frustrated and unhappy. For me encountering them, I felt a mix of yearning and affection, sorrow and regret. I had loved these women, and in ways I did still, but it was only now I realised what I had lost.

I woke up with the dreams fresh in me. I lay there in the hour before 6am thinking about the dreams and then responding in my mind to one of the women in particular. She was the woman I had loved most, the woman who had loved me best too. She was there in front of me as I responded, having by now slipped back into a kind of waking dream.

“I loved you I told her, but there were so many things I wanted to do. So many places I wanted to go, things I wanted to try. I didn’t understand, except that I thought because I couldn’t promise 100% to you that I couldn’t commit. I was ever like that, with everyone, not knowing that things might end or time might pass. I was wrong, and now I know it. I’m sorry for what happened. I should have known better, and should never have let you go. I loved you, and will always love you”

As I’m telling her this she is looking at me with tears in her eyes. I am full of regret, and while I hope she will forgive me there is a part of me hoping she will give me another chance. Too late I have realised that she was the woman I truly loved, and the thought that I will be separated from her for the rest of my life is piteous.

There’s a lot of sense in dreams sometimes. They tell the story I’m afraid to admit to.

Signifying what?


It’s a lovely morning and as always I caught the train into work. I found a seat by the window, slipped my headphones on and looked out the window as the train filled up about me. U used to get off at Richmond to catch a connecting train through the loop, but lately I’ve stayed on the train to ride all the way in to Flinders Street. It makes a change, and that’s reason enough, but the exercise I get walking the extra distance to work is a bonus.

And so at Flinders Street I alighted the train and joined the crowd exiting the station. I took the underground tunnel from mid-platform that runs under the tracks and exits at Degraves Street. It’s a very well-worn route for me, reminiscent of other times, other jobs, other journeys. It’s been a while since I travelled that way, but was gratified to see the same busker in the tunnel as there was nearly 10 years ago. Things don’t change as much as you imagine them to.

I’m in a blue suit today with tan shoes and belt, and a pale blue shirt. The shoes are slip-on, but only because my lace-ups need a cobbler. I come out of the tunnel, up the stairs and into Degraves Street. The cafes there are busy with people having breakfast, some before work, but most probably tourists. I wend my way through the crowd and through another familiar arcade to Collins Street. The sun is shining, though they say it will rain later. I feel the part in Collins Street. I like wearing this suit, being this man.

I like being in the heart of the city this time of day too. It is a smidge past 8am. The cafes are doing a roaring trade, but otherwise the plethora of retail stores are still closed, or just beginning to open. It feels new, like a bud about to burst. Later there will be people everywhere and buskers playing and advertised specials, for this moment I can still hear the ring of my shoes upon the stone ground.

It’s good to walk to work like that. It feels an appropriate entry to the day, and especially to work. The walk gets the blood pumping and idle thoughts transition to vague intentions.

On Elizabeth street the trams trundle down the road as I walk through a near empty mall and past the old GPO building (now it’s a H&M store). Soon I’m approaching work. I’m mellow, but feel something coiled in me. There always is.

This is the man suited up and with a game face slowly forming. Earlier I was more naked in my self.

As I did a couple of months ago I dreamed about the Irish girl again last night. The first time was a surprise, the second times feels meaningful. I dream all the time, but what is different about these dreams (and select others) is that I wake with fond affection. That’s what surprises me, and what I try to interpret. Is the Irish girl symbolic of something, as I believed last time, or is it her?

There’s not much to say about the dream except that in it I like her a lot. We are friendly, but there is nothing between us. I want to get closer to her, and perhaps she is willing, but I find it hard to bridge the gap. I’m shy and uncertain in the dream, almost bashful. I’m not the man in the blue suit. It’s a familiar feeling to me, though not felt for a very long time. I think most people have felt it at some time. It may be awkward, but its’s a good feeling. It’s good because it contains hope and gentle yearning and welcome humility, and it’s good because it signifies something real.

That’s what I wake with then, the residue of that feeling, and I wonder: what does it signify now?

How odd is it that I dream of the same woman twice now in very similar ways when I have not seen her for years and rarely – if ever – found myself thinking of her in my waking hours? I wish I knew these things.

The dream, I think, worked out okay, and immediately after waking, when I was getting myself ready for work and putting that blue suit on I wondered if I should contact her? Was that what it was telling me? Would that be appropriate, or creepy? And what would I say?

I worry that there is meaning to this that I don’t act on will lose. I’ve lost things before, and sometimes because I’ve been too much blue suit. Wht the fuck does it mean?