Because the world needs more overwrought candour.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Yep, soft rock is where it’s at. The way they pair ‘rain’ with ‘pain’ is so elegant, so poignant. The soaring, lingering refrains ending in ‘looooove’. The bittersweet melodies. Wow. It’s like each one of those handsome lead singers know exactly how I feel right now and is speaking to me directly. Thank god someone understands.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

And in other news, my little heartbreak has had dire implications for my taste in music. I now find myself nodding or - shockhorror- , even humming to soft rock. I understand what they are saying. The teams of earnest young men belching forth sentiment are now on my wavelength. Oh, good god. Could I sink any lower?

(The posts relating to the heartbreak in question have been taken down after a request from my ex-lover)

Saturday, September 25, 2004

I've got to stop doing this. I feel like absolute shit.

Love is such a stupid, stupid thing. People falling in love with people who aren't in love with them, or in love with someone else. It hurts, it really does. I went away to the Prom, something planned for a while, with friends, people I know well, but who I can't reach out to. Late one afternoon, a day ruined by rain, we were watching a movie and this thing built in my chest and wrenched me from out there to in here, where the pain was and I couldn't be there anymore and I went to my room and wound myself round bedsheets and wept and unwound and snuck out the back door and walked, wind lashing, cold rain, a shoreline at dusk. The wind and sea made me feel real, grounded me for a while and I walked out into the deepening gloom and let the world swill around inside me, a cleansing, better than the things I made and held inside and when I came back ruddyfaced, shoes wet, I was able to drink wine and play boardgames, I was able to be bright and even funny, able to feel insecure about my general knowledge, able to feel kinda normal and this was enough to make it through that night, and the next day, until now, when my endurance has worn down. It's worst at night.

This is agonising. I didn't expect it to hurt this much. It actually physically hurts. It's like every time I love it hurts more when it ends, when the tentative outstretch recoils and lashes back on itself. All I want to do is lie in bed, curled up, crouch under a shower, eat bad food, listen to music. But I can't, I've got to do work and finish my degree, go to my job, talk to people. Two people I know have called me in the last couple of days, a coincidence - both broken up with partners, both people who don't call me that often unless they need me and usually I can give, but not today, not now, I just can't.

I didn't imagine it would be this hard. Falling in love with someone who doesn't love me - it's so high school, so ridiculous, so massive a pain for so silly a thing.

I'm wondering whether love is my addiction, whether it alone is the thing that makes me like being me. It's quite possible, really - this is withdrawal, cold turkey from a version of myself I'm happier with, from a heightened reality, from a fullness of being, and with her gone, the loved, I'm left with the remnants of myself and I find I don't like what I see, my well worn doubts. Maybe the addiction idea is just one of those doubts. I don't know. I'm getting tired of living like this, of being me, living inside out and sometimes now I find myself craving other ways of being, ambition, career, a willingness to care about people I don't know, one of these foreign ways of living, because living like this is killing me.


See, this comes in waves and I can feel them coming on, and one has just swept through me and battered me and left me dry and rational again and I can stand to face the night, see friends and make brittle conversation and if I read what I've written, I'm slightly embarrassed - it's no longer my experience, it's the past and the future but not now. I know she'll read this and feel a little bad that she allowed me to attach myself to her, and I know that making even a little impact on her is why I've written this.

(from friday)

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I don't really want to write this because one of the glories of a blog is the selection process. While everything I put up here is true, there's stuff I leave out, in an effort to skew this towards the prettier side of me. But I have an urge to present this thing, for me, so that I can try to understand what it means, and for you, as a gesture towards balance. It came up a few nights ago, talking with my oldest friend, and it made me deeply sad, thinking about this, thinking about the things I lost along the way.


So: I used to be sensitive, in the easily-wounded sense, and in a reluctance to wound (this latter part is still largely intact, if only because I don't like being disliked). I also thought of myself as someone who cared about other people, not in the remembering birthdays, solid sense, but in that I was easy to talk to and liked it when people opened up to me and spilt a little of themselves, and I had a number of friends with which I talked to primarily on an emotional basis (generally about them). This was part of an overall sense of (in retrospect, barely justified) personal selflessness, in that I hated - and still hate - selfish people; the fullness of them, the power with which they moved through their days, their narcissistic absorption, the mirrorpeople Yet in a strange twist, these were often the people who came to me to unburden themselves. Perhaps it is not so strange, really - these friendships were almost love/hate, I think - and I used to enjoy feeding on their emotions and strong sense of self, which at that time I lacked (and therefore loathed in others). Now, five years later or so, I look up from the day-to-day and find, on examination, that I have indeed become the thing I hated. I've become selfish, and pervasively so. While I'm still more than willing to do things for other people (when asked), I can't truly imagine other people's lives at all, I don' t the power or willingness to imagine how it is that other people exist and live their lives. I think primarily about me, as I suppose most people do. I still love to talk to people and engage as deeply as they will allow me to, but now, I suppose I am shorn of the illusion that it was ever altruistic. Perhaps very little truly is altruistic, perhaps I even do help people, but god, at the bottom of it is me. And this makes me sad, because, as I have almost managed to forget, a truer altruism did exist, and perhaps does elsewhere, still. I know this altruism existed because he lived with me, for 18 years my brother, until a cancer unfurled and slowly took him away. Nearly three years ago now this happened, after two years of dying, two years when his needs and health took over us all and subjugated us in desperate pursuit of his continued life. He was the best of us, I don't doubt this ever, and this is why I feel my own selfishness as a failure. He was good, truly good, and I have almost forgotten him. Yes, I live forwards and spent very little time in the past, but is that an excuse?

I have known my oldest friend for 15 years, (call him J.) and I live with him now, and we are very different. Rebellious and unsettled as a teen, he had a special connection with my brother, who he saw - especially after he got sick - as a role model, as an object of wonder. He woke him up one morning in the early days of his sickness to take him to see a dawn. They talked often, my brother with a slight awkwardness at being valorised so, at being admired for his steadfastness and simple refusal to die, for his tenacity and love of life, for his unwillingness to ever say a harsh word about anyone, for his true altruism, for the fact he was genuine in his care. He gave it because it was the right thing to do. He kept his religion while I lost it as soon as sex presented itself as a credible alternative. He was more like my mother than we other two. Humble and honest, a boy becoming man, a boy never permitted the joy of his first girlfriend, a boy forced to grow up fast only in order to die. And these are things I have only thought afterwards, and they only come back to me on the occasions that I talk of him with my family, or with my friend. We were driving back from Eltham, back from our family homes into the city, and we talked as we talk every few months, about him. J. talked glowingly of him, of my brother, of how he admired his principles and approach to life in the midst of death, and my words were paltry in response and I realised how little I do think about him, and how little I really knew him.

The eulogy I gave was unmemorable for anyone else except me. I remember it keenly because it sums up my failure to ever live up to him. I used fancy words, talked about him, made him a hero, detached any reality from his life and sent it floating out among them, those who knew him better than I did and knew the falseness and glibness of my words. I remember organising cars to the cemetery and wondering when it was going to hit me. Surely within three months? Surely within six?

That summer, I did crazy things and put myself elsewhere as often as possible and only later did I come across a line in a book that those experiencing death embrace life-affirming behaviours. So that made sense. But then the grief did not flow, and was instead replaced by guilt at my lack, and the guilt was made more by the deep and abiding grief of my mother.

And now it is nearly three years on and the only time I think about him is in the abstract - this is why I keep thinking about death and life, life and death. I have small disclaimers I use on myself to lessen the impact and they are that I live life intensely now, so during his sickness I was intensely involved, and afterwards, after a lull, the only thing I knew how to do was live forwards.

See, I'd never be able to speak this, because even that would make it too real.

So I've been through death and come out the other side sans god, but with a sense of self and a knowledge of my own selfishness and a knowledge that although I have spent this time building a self which I felt the lack of so greatly, that I, like my brother, will end.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

so many people i know are ill and if they were physically ill, other people who don't have their affliction could imagine what it would be like and sympathise and make them food and alleviate their boredom and bring them books and drive them places but because their unwellness arises in synapses and patters down pathways and fiddles with the chemical balance in their minds we don't understand because the mind we talk to is the mind that is affected. one in four, i think it is now, and rising, one in four of us. perhaps we're only just recognising it, perhaps it's the last taboo and one that is only being recognised now that we don't really get physically sick as often as we used to, but i think more than that, i think uncertainty and the death of god and the lack of narratives (nation building? war? politics? making something of oneself?), i think loneliness and the supreme, stupid belief, the replacement narrative that permeates us here in this place and this time that we can do it alone, that the individual has the power to do all things. we can't. and true freedom is scary. and so we get sick and the things which can help us most (other people) are driven away by it.


the family had a lot of things wrong with it, but the one thing it did well was act as the model for the welfare state, in which the rich helped the poor and the healthy helped the sick, at least a bit. the chinese still have it - look at the success of the overseas chinese community all over asia - but we don't really, not anymore. right, that's my didactic binge for today.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Something I've thought for a while now is that life's good things (food, intimacy, warmth) aren't enough to counteract the bad (disease, loneliness, death). I've probably already posted on this, but I'm not really that flash a conductor of new and fine ideas, so this is a rehash.

It came up again today during my counseling shift. Usually, I find that most callers don't get to me - lonely people and people upset with their family/partner/friends (majority of calls) don't really touch me that deeply, perhaps because I see their problems as solvable, perhaps not easily, but still able to be changed. What gets me right in the gut are the people with problems which have no easy solution, or even any potential for change at all. Today, a teenage girl rang - all happy chatter about her move overseas, naive, sweet, so normal that I wondered what she rang for. And then a little at a time, the cracks started to show and the hurts and wounds of her soul rose up to the surface, still covered with a darling innocence, a baffled kind of wonder at what she herself was capable of doing to herself and at the pain other people were capable of causing. She got to me, she really did, I felt for this child-adult and when the call wound up, I had to take a break, let it loosen and slide away and settle.

Later, someone with schizophrenia called, in the midst of an episode. She got to me as well - talking of what she was seeing, her mind slipping and diving and shrieking, at time normal, at times terrifying, with me sucked inside this great strangeness of hers. I cannot even imagine the horror of a mind like that, of being unable to verify reality, of the haunted huntedness at all times, even when you close your eyes. How do people live with this? How can you accommodate such great hurt and alienness, such pain and suffering and not burst? How do people keep going? I feel the gap between the good things and bad every time I have to sell the idea of life to someone who no longer buys it, who has weathered such pain that my humble offerings - their children, friends, walks, books, food - are pitiful things, shrunken, meager, insufficient and the alternative is bright in contrast. And this is Australia, this is wealth and comfort, this is not war and starvation and disease. It helps me understand the need for religion, a belief based on desperation. It's no surprise that religion is flourishing in those desperate places, the peripheries, the poor, because they need it still whereas we pretend we do not, until the life in which we are In Control is taken away and replaced with a life in which walking up stairs takes an hour, where gathering in unruly thoughts or quashing the dark suspicions and lurking thoughts is a full-time job.


It's occured to me that this blog presents a skewed view of me as morose, introspective etc. That's funny, because I'm not. But what is there to write about happy things? There's a reason that movies end once the climactic happy event occurs - because happiness is boring (at least to write about)