The slump

Three weeks in and I haven’t actually achieved much more than some mild weight gain.  A diet of shortbread biscuits, homemade strawberry and apple crumble, quality cellared wine and copious lashings of marbled Aussie bacon should not be held accountable.  Nor should my intensive daily exercise regime of shuffling from my bed to the lounge, back to bed, over to chair, bed, lounge, floor, followed by some accidental droolage and then back to bed.  In truth, I firmly believe that my weight gain is a direct consequence of climate change.  Carbon made me fat! Hence I pledge my support to the labour government and their bold carbon tax plan in the hope that the new tax breaks will enable me to afford more shortbread – and a bigger bed.

My list of achievements for the last few weeks is available via gamescore.  That’s a joke for the geeks…

This week I’ve had a phone conversation regarding two weeks of good work and a separate informal meet up regarding possible future work.  Both did not go as well as I would have hoped.  During the phone conversation I completely undersold my skills and had a mini panic attack at the idea of having to do real work again.  The planned follow up phone conversation and meeting with the project leaders, which was meant to happen on Friday, never happened.   My meeting with a different company was another case of underselling my awesomeness. Combined, the two instances reminded me of my first interview in London.  Upon arriving in London my friends told me it would take me months to get an interview or any work.  I had an interview with a great company within three weeks.  This boosted my confidence and ego to stratospheric levels.  Unfortunately it was all hot air and I couldn’t afford the electricity.  I deflated within ten minutes and left the interview rather bewildered.  But they did ask to see some further work of mine, so it wasn’t completely a lost cause.  Later I emailed through what they had requested and then followed that up with a phone call.  The receptionist put me through to the interviewers voicemail.  After leaving a polite and professional message I put my mobile phone down on my lap and then let out an earth shatteringly loud and intensely satisfying fart.  Basking in scent-de-Simon I looked down at my phone and realised that I hadn’t ended the phone call.  I never heard back from them.

Freelancing is hard when you’ve been out of the game for a while.  Freelancing requires you to walk into a job and perform.  There is no introduction week and there is no three-month probation period.  Some jobs book you for a day, and if you’re lucky, some book you for a few weeks.  On the shorter jobs if you don’t smash it out of the park then you don’t get called back for more work.  On the longer jobs you at least normally get a little bit more breathing room.  It’s no surprise then that it’s easy to lose your confidence when you aren’t utilising your skills everyday.  It’s also easy to get stuck in a cycle of doubting your skills due to an extended hiatus.  And it’s especially easy to consciously reinforce that cycle of doubt and use it as an excuse to not act and to not move forward.  In one sense I am struggling for the sake of struggling and causing myself grief and stress for no other reason than to cause more grief and stress.

On the flip side I need to remember that I’ve bloody well only been back in the country for three weeks. That it’s ok to take a while to collect myself and find my feet in Sydney.  That it’s ok to become a hermit, grow a beard and lie around all day in my food-stained pyjamas.  That it’s ok to watch an entire series of television in one sitting.  And that baked beans are unreal.

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Becoming an uncle

To be honest I didn’t really have to do too much.  Although my right arm is still aching from the whooping cough immunisation injection that I was required to get before being allowed within wheezing distance of the new born.  A whooping cough injection is combined with Diphtheria and Tetanus in Australia.  In the UK you can’t get whooping cough injections unless you’re a six-week-old baby.  I had had my booster dip/tet injection in London before my trip started in Feb.  To get whooping cough immunity in Aus I had to have a second dip/tet booster within a few months.  This turns out to be a painfully bad idea.  When I turned up for my injection the nurse had to organise a private consultation with a doctor before giving me the shot.  The doctor required my verbal consent to the injection after she informed me of the complications and pain associated with having two booster injections so close together.  Being Man-Tough* I shrugged off the warnings, bared my right arm and told them to stick me! Since then I haven’t really been shrugging off any other warnings, not due to a lack of shrug worthy warnings, but more due to an inability to perform the well known shrug move.  One shoulder shrugs just don’t cut it.  Whimpering while attempting a shrug also greatly invalidates the nonverbal communicative meaning of the intended shrug.  As a result my right arm has spent the week only being good for undertaking activities below waist level.

Jamie Alexander burst into the light on Tuesday at 1701.  Burst is perhaps the incorrect verb to use.  Emerged maybe? How about I try that sentence again with a bit more drama.

As consciousness slowly came to Jamie Alexander he was overcome with the foreign sensations of haste and impending fate.  Darkness surrounded him as the familiar walls of his nine-month incarceration heaved and contracted. A blurred pinprick of light appeared and with a sudden sense of purpose Jamie reached forward and strove for freedom.  Muffled noise and vibration assaulted him from every side as inch by inch the light grew until it filled his world and he was blinded by its brilliance.  As Jamie tore himself towards freedom the cacophony of noise resolved itself into a blaring alarm klaxon and the sounds of battle.  Naked and covered in a soup of bioengineered nutrient fluid Jamie Alexander emerged gasping from The Hive womb prison.  Around him hundreds of similar bioorganic stasis containment units were ejecting their captives.  Memory returned quickly as the effects of the BSCU chemical dampeners dissipated.  They had come for them!  For him! Overcome with the rush of returning memory and emotion Jamie collapsed to floor, tears rolling freely down his face…

I was right in thinking that ‘emerged’ was a better verb to use than burst.

My nephew is now over sixty hours old.  His parents are besotted.  The extended family is overjoyed.  Four new titles of Grandparent, two of Aunt and one of Uncle have been duly handed out.  We are still squabbling over who gets which.  In the meantime I’ve left Bathurst and come back to Sydney.  The main reason for coming back to Sydney sooner than expected is to ensure that I get the most out of my bloody whooping cough immunisation injection.  The other reason is it that I’m meant to be getting serious about this whole getting a job and earning a living thing in order to pay for all the smokin’ and drinkin’ and cussin’ I’m going to be doing around little Jamie.  The cussin’ comes for free.

 

 

 

* Man-Tough – A common condition afflicting millions of men worldwide that is psychologically linked to an insecure and often over-exaggerated sense of masculinity.  Think of an overinflated and badly dressed balloon that once pricked with a sharp pin makes a loud noise about almost nothing at all.

Yes the balloon is badly dressed! Most probably in a pink t-shirt.

So I lied – I’m back – Kind of

It’s cold in Bathurst.  And each night, sleeping in my big empty bed, I’ve come to miss my blog.  Oh the times we’ve had together.

I’m staying with my two biggest fans, mum and dad.  Mum reads the online edition while Dad gets the paper circulation of my blog.  You see Dad doesn’t do fancy computer screens and still firmly believes that the whole computer revolution is a passing fad.  While writing this update I’m sitting at the breakfast table looking across at my target demographic and wondering if I should reduce my frequent inclusion of words such as; fuck, bastard, shit, balls and arse.  Maybe I should just ask mum.  Nah, fuck it!  Regardless, the more pungent and liberal my language the more the paper circulation of my blog ends up looking like declassified US intelligence papers that once dated a black artline marker.

Last night, Friday night, I went out to experience the Bathurst nightlife.  It’s been a while.  My partner-in-crime for the evening was my x-girlfriend from age ten.  For those that remember my first blog… Anyone?… This is the same ex that I may have traded for an icypole.  She still hasn’t forgiven me for this slight and reminded me of the fact last night.  I in return would like to thank her for reminding me and in demonstration of my appreciation will henceforth refer to her as Icypole.

So Icypole and I went out to the local Irish pub for dinner.  The menu had a lot of mutton dressed up as confused poultry. The food was nice as well.  Now maybe I’ve been overseas too long.  Maybe my horizons have broadened further than I realised.  Or maybe I’ve just become a stuck up prick who thinks he is superior to all the country folks, but god damn their Australian twangs called out to an angry primal part of me that unconsciously had me reaching out for my schooner glass to do some smashin’ and some cuttin’ and some good ol’ fashioned eye gouging.  Luckily my English grooming over the past two years came to the front and I was able to channel all my rage into a future stomach ulcer, cat bum pursed lips and a barely perceptible eye twitch.  With Dinner finished Icepole and I joined some friends as we continued on to the Eddy.

I have to interrupt my blog for a moment just to mention that my dad is out the backyard vacuuming the pavers…  That is all.

The Eddy is a local institution that has undergone many ownership changes and inferior redecorations.  Sorry, that was meant to be interior redecorations.  It’s a Bathurst pub in which alcohol shots are banned and plastic glasses are the norm.  It also now has a porn room with easy wash down couches and multi-coloured mood lighting.  The four large LCD screens playing WWF wrestling are the only things ruining the atmosphere of the porn room.  Or I suppose, enhancing the atmosphere, if WWF gets you chubbed.  Next to the porn room is the poker machine room.  Saloon doors separate the two.  Freaking saloon doors!  I love it.

Icypole and I ventured away from the slip and slide couches and joined everyone else out the back in the pool table room.  The pool table room was indoors, but is legally classified as outdoors due to the slant of the roof or some such loophole.  Due to this area being legally classified as an outdoor area everyone was smoking to their hearts content.  Not surprisingly there was no separation between the ‘indoor’ non-smoking area and the ‘outdoor’ smoking area.  Protectively clutching my plastic glass full of gin and tonic while dodging blasts of acrid smoke I took the time to look around at the overly hetro and rather meaty male crowd and couldn’t help but burst out laughing.  Lady Gaga’s gay anthem ‘Born this Way’ was being religious belted out over the speakers.  No song seemed more out of place yet strangely more appropriate.

The evening ended before Icypole and I both turned into pumpkins.  Walking home was a fun trip down memory lane as I replayed childhood adventures in my head.  Over the years I know I’ve changed a lot and so has my hometown.  Sometimes I wonder which has changed the most and if so for the better.  Although one change that I think there can be no argument about its positive ramifications is that I no longer go to my local pub dressed in my pyjamas and Ugg boots.

Hang on, I just realised that Ugg boots are actually an expensive fashion accessory now.  I was so ahead of my time!

Mission Status – Success

So I’ve made it back to Australia.  Checking out my initial Mission Statement I reckon I’ve done a pretty good job.  With that in mind comes the inevitable and natural conclusion to my blog.  All good things must come to and end – well I thought it was good!

Life should get a bit simpler and mundane for the time being and as such my stories will lack a scope and a level of craziness that travelling to so many exotic locations provided.  Whether I decide to continue this blog in another form or not, well, I haven’t made my mind up yet.  Getting a job and settling back into a normal routine will take up the lion’s share of my time for the moment – that and catching up on Xbox 360 games.

 

Tropophobia – the fear of moving and/or making changes.

Leaving London – Take Two

My initial farewell to London was messy, emotional and drawn out.  My leaving party, while full of good intentions, was a failure of epic proportions.

In April when booking my ticket for a quick visit back to London I was experiencing inclement weather and a balmy 14 degrees in Turkey.  London was suffering under oppressive blue skies and 25 degrees heat.  At the time I was worried that twelve days would be too much and that I’d get bored.  Having not spent more than I few days in each location on my travels, twelve days seemed extravagant.  I wish I’d had another week!

I arrived into London from Jordon.  On the plane trip Adrian and I decided to drink our duty free alcohol.  Nathan and Balea, our other two travelling companions, after a single drink chose not to partake in our stupidity.  Adrian took this as an excuse to drink more.  I bowed out of the contest when I started to feel a little queasy.  Adrian took this as a further sign to drink more.  Only when he was throwing up in the cramped airplane toilet did he too decide to throw in the towel – after he’d used it to clean up his mess that is.  We arrived in to London after midnight and made our way to immigration.  Adrian was not looking or feeling his best.  At immigration he stood behind us hoping he wouldn’t have to answer any questions for fear of projectile spew reducing his chances of entering the country.  My sister was lovely enough to pick us up from the airport and drive us all back to her house.  At 2am we were greeted with chocolate and drinks.  Around 3am we all went to bed.

Jordan has a two-hour time difference from London.  This affected me more than I expected.  I was wiped out for the first few nights by 8pm and awake by 6am at the latest.  Less than a week into my stay I had adapted to London time again.  I was sleeping on the lounge room floor of my old house.  It was initially a strange sensation to have my bedroom occupied by someone else, even though it was a good friend of mine.  Little things like this helped reinforce that my stay was only temporary.

Over my twelve days in London family and friends spoilt me rotten.  The Royal Ascot Races, fancy dinner parties, movies and concerts, oh my!  I had a great time.  My final weekend felt more like a fitting farewell with friends than my previous departure.  Although both times I left the country just as exhausted.

As I had fatefully predicted London rained more during my short visit than I had seen it rain in my entire two years stay.  Typical.  I was not surprised considering what I had encountered over the past few months.  Only on my last two days did the sun come out to play.

Apart from the weather my only complaint was that I didn’t get to see everyone that I had hoped to.  Having no sim card and limited access to wifi outside of where I was staying I decided that I would use Facebook as my central means of communication.  The majority of my London friends use Facebook regularly, with a few using it religiously.  What became clear though is that those who broadcast more frequently on Facebook seem to spend less time actually keeping up with what other people are doing.  When I left the other day I found it amusing and dismaying to have some friends suddenly exclaim loudly that they were sorry they’d missed me but had thought that I was in Syria or some-other-place.  I hadn’t been in Syria for almost three months.  Facebook is an imperfect means of communication and I shouldn’t be critical of Facebook connected friends who don’t use it to keep up with others.  It’s just that during my trip I found it was my most efficient and effective means of staying in touch with everyone and feeling as if I was still a part of their lives, albeit in a small way.  Through my blog and through Facebook was also how I was in turn expecting to keep my friends up to date with what I was doing.  For the most part this worked, but in a few disappointing instances it was clearly a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Somehow the focus of my blog update shifted and turned sour, when my intention was to write hilarious prose about my London antics.  I could end with a funny story about my friend who thought her excruciating perforated eardrum which was continuously excreting a bloody discharge was less important to have looked at by a doctor than seeing me, trust me it’s funny.  Or my swaying drunken state at the Clapham street party followed by amusingly indecent behaviour.  Or how I ended up at a freaking Rod Stewart concert.  Or how a good friend waved me goodbye in nothing but his y-fronts while explaining to me what a great final memory of him he was giving me.  Or why I am carrying around a Little Miss Dotty book.  Or my joyful send off with good friends and family sharing a bottle of champagne with me at the airport.  But mostly I want to end by saying that when I first left London I wasn’t ready, this time I was, I am.  No tears.  Next adventure.

A nightmare on Pinang street

The end of my trip has not gone to plan.  Malaysian airlines managed to give me the worst food poisoning I’ve had for many years.  And I’ve had no shortage of food poisoning in the Middle East this year.  Food poisoning by itself would have been manageable, but added to this was the problem that the friends who I am visiting in Kuala Lumpur are in the middle of moving house.  Two months ago an apartment in the building directly across from them blew up from a gas explosion.  The popular theory is that a bad seal allowed the apartment to fill with gas and when the tenant came home and turned on the light switch this created enough of a spark to blow the apartment sky high.  The tenant, predictably, did not survive.  The explosion damaged my mates’ apartment enough that they decided to move.  For the last two months they have been living in temporary accommodation.  Only this week did they finally sign a lease for their new apartment.  It was all meant to be finalised before I arrived.  Unfortunately shit happens.  Occasionally it even dribbles down your leg.

My friends have two young boys.  Ethan is two-and-a-half and Connor is ten months old.  The second bedroom in their temporary apartment was Connor’s room.  This meant that I was sleeping on the couch.  Having travelled rough for a few months this normally wouldn’t have been a problem.  I also had no intention of spending more time than absolutely necessary in their apartment and was planning to explore the city while my friends dealt with moving.  After a long flight I arrived late on Tuesday evening.  We had dinner and a few catch up drinks before I collapsed on the couch.  What followed was an exceptionally long night of tossing and turning.  The next morning I attributed my tiredness and queasiness to jetlag, which I normally don’t get badly affected by.

Deciding to have a quiet day I went to the cinema across the road and watched Transformers 3.  By 1pm I was feeling rather off.  I pushed through and around 2.30 I treated myself to a Malaysian KFC lunch.  No one does Hot and Spicy KFC like the Malays.  No one.  From then my condition deteriorated quickly and by 5pm that afternoon I was shivering uncontrollably, running a fever and spending a lot of time sitting with my pants around my ankles.  Panadol reduced my fever and a few drinks helped me get to sleep easier.  My friend had administered the drinks and Panadol with unquestionable authority.  Because of my condition we dragged out a proper mattress from Connor’s room for me to sleep on that evening.  Sleep was fleeting.  The following day I made it down to breakfast before having to make a quick exit back up to the apartment.  I spent most of the day confined to the couch.

I’ve had salmonella before and it was horrid.  It also took 24hrs to hit me and when it did it knocked me flat for a week.  While this hasn’t been as bad it has still had all the same symptoms.

As my friends were in the middle of moving, chaos reigned and stress levels were understandably high.  In the middle of this was little sick me, trying unsuccessfully to find somewhere to hide from the boxes and the kids and the noise, while always maintaining a close proximity to western facilities.

My third evening in KL arrived and I had barely left the apartment.  I hadn’t even really managed to write, read or watch anything.  I set up my bed in lounge room in front of my laptop.  We all then lay down to watch Game of Thrones.  Before long my two companions were fast asleep and snoring.  I turned my laptop off and sent them to bed.  Praying for sleep to come quickly I tried to position myself in such a way that the air duct above didn’t freeze me and the thick quilt didn’t roast me.  Two hours later I woke up in a slick of sweat.  Wiping the sweat off I tried to go back to sleep. Over the next few hours I tossed and turned until 3am when I awoke again drenched in sweat.  The entire bed was soaked and the air conditioning was quickly turning it icy.  Considering I was dehydrated from the food poisoning I was very impressed by the amount of water I had sweated out.  Moving to the couch I put on a few more layers of clothes so I wouldn’t need the quilt.  Extra clothing and the fact that I was slightly further away from the air-conditioning duct helped to minimise my sweats.  The rest of the night continued predictably and the morning found me exhausted.

This paragraph may be a little emotionally charged thanks to my current conditions, but, I’m done.  Take me home.  I need my own bed.  I need my own space.  I love my friends and it’s always awesome to see them, but I’ve been travelling for a long time now and I’m sick of living out of a backpack and I’m sick of getting sick.  I want to sleep in again, naked.  I want a routine.  I want a proper diet and I want to cook, although I still don’t want to clean.  I also want to headbutt Malaysian airlines, or kick ‘em in the nuts, maybe both – but I’ll wait until after my flight with them tomorrow night…

I am determined to go out for dinner tonight and I am determined to make the most of tomorrow, my final day in KL.  Then I am determined to get back to Australia as fucking quickly as humanly possible.

As I write this I am overseeing the furniture install at my friends new apartment while alternating between intense abdominal pain and the niggling feeling that I am also famished.  Maybe it’s time for some more Malaysian KFC.

Broyal Mascroft Graces

After three months of Middle Eastern and Baltic globetrotting I arrived back in London this week for a final taste of UK summer and sunshine before heading home to Australia for winter.  Unsurprisingly since landing in London I have only seen brief glimpses of the sun due to the exceptional amount of rain that has been pummelling the city.  I did warn everyone that summer would finish when I turned up.

My sister had excitedly booked me for a secret event on Saturday.  The secret event turned out to be the Royal Ascot Races.  My initial response was “yay! What’s that?”, followed by me asking if I could wear shorts and flipflops.  The majority of my clothing had been shipped back to Australia three months earlier and the poor selection of clothes I had in my backpack were all looking the worse for wear.  Luckily the friend who now lives in my old room had a snazzy suit that fitted pretty well.  Although his red leather tie and limited edition boots were a little small for my liking I still proudly wore both – mainly because I didn’t have any other options.

We caught the overground train to Ascot – as did everyone else.  Being packed in like sardines, albeit very well dressed and polite sardines, was quite a sweaty yet amusing experience.  My sister’s dress had the misfortune of getting stuck in the train doors when they closed.  While she attempted not to rip the dress in between bouts of laughter her breasts made a valiant leap for freedom.  In a solid win for her dignity she caught them at the last moment.  Finally arriving at Ascot we all peeled ourselves out of the train and marched to the venue, where friends were found, bets were made and alcohol was bought.

Half way into our first bottle of overpriced champagne I started to truly appreciate the tragic state of fashion on display.  I was also quite vocal in my appreciation.  What was even worse was when the tragic fashion spoke.  Your mothers would be so proud.  I have never felt so ashamed for the female gender.  For every elegant and appropriate dress worn gracefully there was a lurid coloured strip of synthetic cloth sparsely stretched to breaking point over curves that I can only assume were meant to have been alluring.  Personally I prefer a little bit of guesswork when figuring out what someone has had for breakfast. Maybe travelling through the middle east for three months and getting used to women concealing considerably more of their bodies from the naked eye has turned me prudish.  Although I actually think that some of the female fashion in the Middle East that consists of simple figure accentuating full length dresses combined with amazingly detailed headscarves is infinitely more alluring, sexual and sensual than ninety percent of what was on display at Ascot.  A Little bit of imagination can go a long way.

Two particular dresses caught my attention over the course of the day.  The first dress I saw on multiple women in multiple colours.  Unfortunately I only snapped a picture as I was leaving the venue.  The blue black version in this photo was nowhere near as comical as the first version of the dress I saw on display.  The original version was off white with a wide black zipper running down the majority of the back of the dress.

The end of the black zipper created a perfect inverted Y with the bum cheeks of the girl wearing it.  It was a racetrack to her arse crack.  Suffice to say I laughed my arse off.  The second dress, and I use the term dress loosely, was so tight as to ensure its wearer could barely walk in it.  Now what was funny wasn’t the fact she was walking like a penguin, nor the fact that she so clearly had no underwear on, it was the two large tags that could be clearly seen sticking out through the stretched fabric of her dress on the side of her bum.  I could see her price tag.  Oh my god could I see her price tag!  It’s pretty obvious what my drunken catch phrase for the rest of the afternoon became.

After the final race for the day we were all sitting down relaxing, champagne glasses in hand, when a brawl broke out.  What started out as two drunks performing emergency dental work on each other quickly escalated into a full-blown mass orgy of upstanding English gentlemen rolling in the mud, hitting each other politely over the head with chairs and spewing blood over the already sodden ground.  My sister thought yelling at them to break it up would help the situation whereas I decided that the best course of action was to enjoy my front row seats, finish my champagne and soak up the live English culture.

The Royal Ascot Races is a great day out!  Oh and did I mention that I saw the Queen.  Australia for a Republic!