Saturday, December 26, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Today is her birthday, so happy birthday Andrea, may it be an enjoyable one for you. I hope you get at least a bit spoilt, you deserve it. Life has been a bit too free with its slings and arrows in your case lately, my dear and I hope it lifts its game well and truly in the coming year.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
The upshot of this was that Nina and her husband Peter hosted a lunch one Sunday afternoon for Olive, Ranjit and his wife, another friend, George, and I. As the photos above show, it was a great success and a veritable literary feast of delicious Malaysian food, fine wine and sparkling conversation. Many topics were discussed, including of course books, reading and, the trials of trying to write and get published, at which Olive is an expert and Ranjit has had recent success. If Ranjit's penchant for the science fiction genre ever palls, he could probably successfully take up humour as he had us all in stitches with his hilarious anecdotes.
Monday, September 7, 2009
My delight at all the alleged benefits of singledom has palled. I’ve exhausted the joys of freedom and independence, such as the chance to eat baked beans or cornflakes for dinner when I couldn’t be bothered shopping or cooking, uninterrupted monopolisation of the remote control, having sole executive decision making authority on everything from holidays to how often to do the washing, but now I’m over it. In fact I’d relish the chance to consult a significant other on a major life decision. No, more than that, I yearn for it. I’m sick of being totally responsible for all the lapses of judgement, crappy meals, financial blunders, dearth of clean underwear and other rotten choices in my life. Someone else to blame for a change would be great.
This of course is just another way of saying I’m lonely. Admitting to such a state however is something I’m fairly sensitive about. Overwhelmingly these days, to judge from much of the self help genre of literature and pronouncements of various experts in the field, we are made to feel that this emotion is at best a weakness and at worst a reflection of our total inadequacy as a person.
In an article I read quite recently, the writer observed in a tone of some perplexity that people living the life of a single person sometimes, unaccountably, express dissatisfaction with that state. The writer went on to not only deplore this foolishness but condemn the misguidedness of these solo self-pitiers in thinking that if they found someone, they might be happier.
To add insult to injury, with the total confidence of the singularly enlightened, the writer said that if a person admits to being miserably single, all it means is they are simply a miserable person. Presumably, according to this view, even in the remote chance that they luck out and land a partner, this pathetic excuse for a person will stay miserable and probably make the partner’s life a misery into the bargain. This sort of equates to stating that if someone is starving and has the gall to announce they’d feel happier after a bit of a nosh-up, they are just pathetically dependent on food and no matter how much they gorge themselves, they’ll never fill that psychic hole within.
The commentator is clearly speaking from the giddy heights of one who has surpassed all earthly longings and one can’t help but gasp at their superior understanding. It is truly helpful to realise that feeling a bit fed up with one’s own company and believing that life would be enhanced by sharing it with a compatible partner, means that we are in some way dysfunctional. What could be taken as self righteous pontificating, but is obviously educated insight, suggests that unhappiness with one’s lot as a single person is an indicator of emotional and spiritual poverty, lack of balance, poor self esteem, insecurity, or whatever pop psychology definition you care to pluck out of the air and berate your miserable self with.
Should this pathetic bumbling mess that is you have the audacity to imagine that having someone meaningful in your life would be great, you are kidding yourself. You are not looking for love, you are looking for a bandaid solution, a quick fix, or in the worst case scenario, if you are a completely hopeless case, an extreme makeover. The flaws are not in the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that have left you for whatever reason washed up on a desert island of solitude, they are glaringly, blatantly and incontrovertibly in you.
The logical progression of this line of thinking is that you must fix yourself before you can even contemplate in the vaguest most theoretical way, the prospect of attracting a mate. You must create your own harmony, balance and serenity. As you ascend the psychic ladder of karmic fulfilment, presumably you will start to find happiness within, tossing off all thoughts of needs, wants and desires as so much uncouth brutish baseness. In fact if you are good enough at this inner journeying and manage to reach the nirvana of complete self actualisation, people not only will start to call you God, or Buddha or Mighty Sage or something and fawn obsequiously at your feet, you will be in the exalted position of not needing anyone, ever, not even your Mum.
Hang on though. What about humanity and its (to use a nauseatingly ubiquitous term) sustainability? How would it be if we all declined to look for a mate until we had transcended to the plane of complete inner harmony and serenity, content in the certain knowledge that we were perfectly complete and whole both in and of ourselves, and no fleshly joy on earth could compete with the bliss of knowing ourselves to be at one with the universe? We would just live out our peerless days contemplating the perfection of our navels and not bother to get into all that messy reproduction or heaven forbid copulation, the two being of course somewhat interdependent. We would pretty soon become extinct.
And besides what’s so terrible about a bit of self-dissatisfaction? How else do we get motivated enough to make changes in our lives, perhaps take on new challenges, pursue new dreams, get out more, than by coming to the conclusion that we are not perhaps sufficient just to ourselves. Sometimes the blinding realisation that if this is all there is, we’ve been short-changed is just the impetus we need to get up off our butts and get out there and look for what we want. Too much inward focused contemplation often reveals things that are better left hidden, things moreover which we can do little to improve. I say forget the quest for elusive self-perfection, give it up as futile. Besides after a while, I don’t know about you, but I get bored with myself, sick and tired of hearing all that inner moaning about what a balls-up I’ve made of it all, how I’ve wasted all my latent genius on foolish misadventures and ended up in one of life’s fruitless cul de sacs, otherwise known as my day job. Yes perhaps I could have done better and regrets I’ve had a zillion, but I can’t turn back the clock and the enormity of fixing myself now utterly defeats me. Better to take it as given that most thinking people feel the same and get out there and find another flawed flounderer and have a bit of fun before it’s all too late, I say.
Mouldering away in miserable seclusion just because we have a few psychic flaws is moreover counter-productive. General malaise, if left untended in the belief that it is a sort of hair shirt we have to bear with equanimity while we strive for greater personal growth, can potentially ignite into anxiety, morbid misery or full blown depression in those who are susceptible to such frames of mind. In the acknowledged hierarchy of human needs, the need to love and be loved is pretty much up there with basic survival requirements. A longing to belong is not anything to feel ashamed of. While eschewing any suggestion that a sense of ownership should form any part of a mature loving relationship between consenting adults, I do believe a fundamental part of a successful partnership with an intimate companion is the feeling that you belong together. Whether or not it is openly acknowledged between you, if things are working well, you should reasonably expect to feel that here, with this person, is where you are supposed to be and that if you weren’t, you would both be missing something.
When you are alone, by choice or circumstance, you are lacking that connection. There are ways of compensating for that lack of course, and many do and must and can keep it up quite successfully for long periods of their lives. It is however not perhaps what they would choose, not over the long term in any case, and not, I boldly suggest, the way we, as the very social beings we humans are, were meant to be.
There is, it must be said, a difference between normal need and neurotic over-dependency on another person. If a person’s sense of self worth is not just a bit skewed but seriously out of whack, they can be lured into thinking that someone else will fix them. Here is where that inner psychic hole yawns so deeply that the sufferer is ready to grasp at anything that might make them feel a bit better, no matter how momentary or how self-destructive that panacea ultimately proves to be. Such behaviour tends to manifest itself in the development of dysfunctional relationships where one or both partners are so insecure that they end up basically tearing each other apart. That is a whole other horrifying but all too common ball game and I would not venture to suggest how best to deal with it, except to say that if you see one of the afflicted coming, run for your life.
As someone who I like to think falls within the range of the usually normal, or at least minimally neurotic, I can only look at things from that perspective. And it is from that perspective, as a single for too long person, that I have resigned myself to the fact that I must be a tad more proactive about my state of affairs than sitting around feeling fed up. As a result I have cast my principles to the wind (look where they’ve got me anyway, useless things) and decided to give online dating another go. I could tell you this decision was motivated by a need to extend the body of research for my forthcoming book on the subject, worthy ulterior motive though that is, but let’s get real. I freely admit I need to get out more. Well not get out so much as get in – into a meaningful relationship, before that old sun finally sinks below the horizon and I ascend to that nirvana in the sky, where you can bet they don’t have broadband.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Just when we thought it was safe to expect a night's sleep uninterrupted by close encounters of the animal kind, Kenny K decided to drop by again. Hell hath no fury like a koala given the cold shoulder and this time he decided to give us that message personally.
The happy trio were peacefully slumbering en famille last night. Me snoring faintly and doubtless dribbling, Scully snoring loudly in her bed and Fergus on his/my bed not snoring but emitting pollutants from his posterior of sufficient strength to render our personal methane footprint the size of an elephant's.
Suddenly all hell broke loose. Fergus gave a clarion cry like a pack of hounds to the chase and burst from the bedroom into the loungeroom, from which there shortly came not four but eight clacking claws pounding the wooden floor. To this was added the cacophony of ferocious growling, yapping etc. as noted in my previous post, and another indeterminate sound which soon turned out to be .... wait for it .... Kenny K - having a very bad fur day and at large, and I mean large, in the bosom of our home. Whether he thought he'd drop by for a spot of quiet TV viewing while the coast was clear, or what I don't know. He had apparently slipped through the aperture of the back screen door left open to cater for urgent canine calls of nature in the night and then forgot which way was out.
Fergus already somewhat embittered by the previous confrontation was not about to do any turning of blind eyes, other cheeks or similar wimpish stuff. The scene that met my eyes was not a happy one. I had to decide in a flash what to do and being both a dog and and a koala lover there was a decided conflict of interest. The potential for flying dog and koala parts was high though. So what could I do but leap into the fray, feet protected by the trusty holy bedsocks but hands sadly not. Like the proverbial mother throwing herself in front of a truck to protect her beloved brood, I prized the creatures apart, seized Fergus and hauled him off into the bedroom slamming the door behind him.
I was then left to face Kenny K, alone, as is my lot in life. By this time he was in a state of advanced panic galloping about, as if to the strains of the William Tell Overture, scrabbling up armchairs, blundering into furniture and so on. Having the presence of mind of one who is expert in emergencies, or in other words doing the first thing that leaps into my mind, I threw open all the doors and windows and kept out of the way. Kenny eventually cottoned on that freedom beckoned and gallumphed his way out the door and off into the night, apparently uninjured.
On subsequent inspection Fergus also proved to be unscathed, which is more than I can say for myself. My passage through the house was marked in classical chain saw massacre fashion by large drops of blood on the floor and smears on the walls. This alerted me to the fact that I was wounded, messily but not mortally, now evidenced by some impressive looking medical dressings along one arm and finger.Fergus when allowed out of the bedroom was bent on vengeance and spent the rest of the night seeking it. A glance at the bedside clock radio revealed the time of the incident to be 2.00am so there was a sizeable bit of night remaining. Sleep was but a dream as Fergus tore through the house in a frenzy for the next four hours. An excitable dog at the best of times, he outdid himself on this occasion. Scully slumbered on through the whole uproar. Deafness has its advantages.
What happens next who knows. I will be barricading the dogs in the house at night from now on at least until the coast is clear of the mad koala. If you don't hear any more from me, you'll know I've either gone bonkers from sleep deprivation or have started a new career as a taxidermist of native animals.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I’m moving – somewhere – anywhere where the innocent populace is not plagued by rampant marsupials running amok.
First it was Skippy the kangaroo or one of his relatives, blundering into my car and causing one hell of a mess. Now it’s Kenny the Koala decorating my backyard with the fruits of what must have been a veritable orgy of pooping, and then to add insult to injury rudely awakening me from my well earned rest last night.
To be fair it wasn’t Kenny K who woke me. It was Fergus, my trusted terrier, conscientiously fulfilling his watchdog duties, who must have heard the plop of koala excretions hitting the ground or something (his hearing being very keen). On being alerted, he leapt to attention, sprang from his bed (unofficially my bed, but he sees it as his), tore outside at top speed and erupted in a frenzy of hysterical yapping interspersed with ferocious growls – both loud enough to wake the dead, let alone the peacefully slumbering neighbours. I gave it ten minutes or so, in the wishful hope that he might have just had a bad dream and on realising there was nothing there calm down and come back inside. No such luck though. The barking and growling if anything escalated in volume and intensity. There was nothing for it but to drag myself up and go outside to investigate, bedecked in all the splendour of my winter season night attire, complete with holy bedsocks. A vision that can only be imagined.
There was Fergus in full cry, springing up and down, tearing around in circles and generally acting like a mad dog. Above him, perched precariously on the pergola was Kenny, the giant koala. Judging from the state of his figure he had clearly been feasting on those special gum leaves beloved of koalas which I suppose are now flourishing because of all the nice rain we’ve had. Hence the voluminous poops. Despite his bulk, he managed to trot back and forth along the beams of the pergola quite nimbly, occasionally glancing down at Fergus in a taunting sort of way as if to say “come on dog – make my day”. Which I’m sure he would have – and his breakfast, lunch and dinner as well. No cute cuddly teddy type this one I can tell you.
Needless to say, it was mother who had to save the bloody day, as far as one can in the dead of night. After a few fruitless efforts to tempt Fergus inside with calls of “bickie, bickie” I realised this was useless. Normally no matter what the alternative temptation, Fergus is such a glutton that this feeble ploy actually works. However in this case a cartload of bickies wouldn’t have done it. There was nothing for it but to try and catch him. Easier said than done. Despite lots of plunging and lunging as he sped past, he managed to slip through my fingers. Eventually though as he was attempting to climb the wall to get to his prey, I grabbed his collar and hauled him inside. Of course I then had to haul him all the way to the other door that was still open in order to close it before he could slip through and escape again. Quite a test of strength it was too. Even at the risk of strangulation, the little bugger kept surging ahead, desperate to make a dash for the exit. But I prevailed and with all the exits blocked, decided it was safe to go back to bed.
Back to bed I went but not to sleep of course. Foiled in his attempt to get up close and personal with Kenny K, Fergus was not happy. He made this very clear throughout what remained of the night by rampaging through the house, pummelling at the doors to get out, whining and yelping and otherwise carrying on. The only one who slept was Scully, who luckily for her is stone deaf.
Aroused to another day of work by the clock radio, I dragged myself from my bed in an even more advanced state of stupour than usual. Fergus having momentarily lowered himself into a prone position for the space of a few minutes just before dawn, immediately jumped up again ready to burst into the outdoors – that exciting realm of furry nocturnal invaders. I made him wait until at least I’d had a shower and got dressed, thoughtful enough not to inflict my night-time sartorial ghastliness on any neighbours who might be abroad. Once we did venture outside, thank goodness there was no sign of Kenny K. Presumably he’d moved off to partake of another serving of leaves somewhere else, or after the excitement of the night, was sleeping it off amongst the branches.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t decide to pay us another visit tonight.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
He was a snub-nosed, flat-browed, common-faced boy enough; and as dirty a juvenile as one would wish to see; but he had about him all the airs and manners of a man. He was short of his age: with rather bow-legs, and little, sharp, ugly eyes. ..... He was, altogether, as roystering and swaggering a young gentleman as ever stood four feet six, or something less, in the bluchers.
(Nothing personal guys).
He of course ended up being caught red handed with a stolen silver snuff box and was ignominiously despatched to the penal colony at Port Arthur.
No such fate is likely to befall either of these protagonists however, whether or not they deserve it. Not that any of the players in either saga comes off unsullied, even the pair most self-righteously proclaiming their indignation at the aspersions cast upon them - Prime Minister Rudd and Premier Rann respectively. Of course it's all in the game as they say, politics being almost as laughable a game as that of love and we have learnt to have fairly low expectations of the integrity of the main players in both the Federal and State ball games. You'd think though they would have learned by now that casting aspersions is rather like casting stones. Let he who is without sin cast the first one. Or beware the fate of being hoist by one's own petard (or one's own ute or dodgy documents as the case may be).
Red faced they may be and deservedly so, but repentant, probably not. Whether the sting in the tail as these events have proven to be for the Libs at both Federal and State levels is venomous enough to do them lasting damage, either in a leadership spill (as seems imminent for the State crowd) or at some future ballot box, remains to be seen. It is however a pretty shabby display in both houses and one wishes they'd for once just get on with what they were elected to do, rather than wasting our time, trying our patience and clogging up the newsprint with this childish puerile nonsense. If I hadn't already lost faith in politics, this would have been the straw that did it.
*Colloquially - someone who tries to avoid taking responsibility for his (usually nefarious) actions.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Happy Mother's Day to all us mothers, grandmothers, stepmothers, mothers-in-law or whatever other title we bear that entitles us to be specially acknowledged today.
Today has evolved in an interesting way. Originally it was "Mid Lent Sunday" or "Refreshment Sunday" (because the rules for Lent were relaxed to commemorate the biblical story, the "Feeding of the Five Thousand"). Pity the poor mother that confronted that task. Another theory is that it evolved from a day about 400 years ago when people ritually visited their closest big (or "Mother") church. The big church, or cathedral was considered to be the mother of all churches in an area. Hence the term "big mother" perhaps? The congregation so gathered at the big mother were said to have gone "a mothering".
In Britain servant boys and girls were allowed only one day a year to visit their families, which was usually Mothering Sunday and were often allowed to take a cake or some other gift from the household home for their mothers. They also usually collected flowers from the fields to take home to Mum. No roadside stalls in those days.
Mother's Day was also termed "Simnel Sunday" after the cake of that name - a fruit cake decorated with marzipan. Hence Robert Herrick's poem of 1648:
"I'll to thee a Simnell bring
'Gainst thou go'st a mothering,
So that, when she blesseth thee,
Half that blessing thou'lt give to me".
Being a mother is indeed a blessing, albeit often a mixed one. Our children hold within their hands the power to bestow on us inexpressible delight, pride and joy, on the one hand and on the other unfathomable hurt, frustration and disappointment, seemingly at whim. As Anne Lamott writes in her book "Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life" in talking about her small son; one day he would look at her quite seriously, take her face in his little hands and tell her he loved her, only to become within a few hours the most unendurable little monster.
No other relationship so enslaves us from the first instant of our mutual existence until the last breath, but no other relationship holds within it the potential to teach us so much. We finally come to understand the agonies to which we subjected our own parents, we discover an amazing capacity within ourselves for self-sacrifice and selflessness and we come to appreciate the meaning of all those painful life lessons we had to learn ourselves in trying to re-interpret them for our children.
Mother's Day doesn't make it all worthwhile, because we already know it is, but it is an opportunity to recognise the role we play in each other's lives and how important we are to each other. So mothers, enjoy!
Monday, May 4, 2009
Happy birthday dear Nina and I look forward to celebrating the next special one. We both decided waiting until our 70ths for the next big one is too long, and a half decade big celebration is the way to go, so in my case there's a little less time to wait for that, but it will be definitely one to remember, like this one was for Nina!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The above are just three titles of a growing genre of “self help” literature aimed squarely (but not fairly) at single women. On the assumption, presumably, that they are hapless lost souls searching in vain in the mysterious world of dating for a bloke to fancy them. The second simplistic and faintly insulting assumption is that these poor gals are constantly missing the boat because they are too befuddled to pick up on the glaring gaffes they are making in the game of attracting “Mr Right” or even “Mr OK for Now” (which one of them seriously suggests is a reasonable option when the pickings are slim).
The latest offering, “Why he didn’t call you back”, is claimed to be a collection of “exit interviews” conducted by a woman researcher with 1,000 men exploring their reasons for failing to follow up after a date or “online flirtation”. She allegedly wheedled from these guys “unabashedly honest and raw answers”, refusing with steely determination to accept any lame excuses such as “there wasn’t any chemistry”. Fairly reasonable explanation I would have thought. Still one must admire the gal. Most attempts to get at the raw unabashed truth when it comes to men are singularly unsuccessful, prone as the delicate chaps are to cut off their right hands rather than deal straightforwardly with anything remotely emotionally confronting.
I have yet to be enlightened as to what specific justifications for summary dismissal these chaps listed, however the none too tactful implication is that every single cotton pickin one of them is the result of subconscious “signals” that us poor silly women are apparently sending unawares. These glaring sins (whatever they are) are apparently as blatant as if we had neon signs plastered to our heads flashing “unworthy” and completely turn off these otherwise almost certainly perfect for us guys. Who would of course, but for these little behavioural quirks of ours, be just hanging out to offer us love, devotion and life long commitment. Stupid stupid us.
Fortunately though, all is not lost, we are about to be regaled by practical advice that will fix these unfortunate problems and send those nasty little off putting signals packing. We are promised a virtual deluge of men slavering to get it on with us if we just buy this book and learn from it.
Apart from the fallacious notion that every time a couple meet and don’t click, it just has to be the woman’s fault, I take issue with the proposition that any half intelligent woman could possibly be consistently behaving so doltishly that she would be incapable of fathoming out why she was turning off desirable men on a regular basis. I can believe this of men, certainly, and from unfortunate personal experience know several who go through their whole lives in blissful ignorance of their basic repugnance to the female race.
The other aspect of this line of “helpful” advice that I object to is that it reinforces women’s already strongly ingrained tendency to take the blame for things that don’t run smoothly in romance, or any other personal relationship for that matter. We as a gender are far too quick to turn the beady eye of criticism onto ourselves when things go wrong and come over all conciliatory and apologetic, thereby letting the other person (usually male) off the hook.
It takes two. If he doesn’t call back after the first date, email, sleepover or whatever, too bad. It wasn’t meant to be. If you have to draft a strategic plan to make him want to see you again, well yes he’s obviously not that into you, but I don’t think you’ve lost much. I'm not recommending that you act like a desperate fool of course and rush headlong into a date with your heart not only on your sleeve but plastered all over your face - we all do better if we play it a bit cool at the start. But, if you have to consciously manipulate someone into liking you or wanting to be with you, or just having the decency to phone you when they said they would, then it seems to me it’s not a great basis for a relationship. At the end of the day, everyone has to drop the games and grow up if it’s going to work, and these sorts of books are pretty light on about how you deal with that eventuality.
But if in the interim women are conned into thinking the promised pearls of wisdom just might change their lives, what are they to do if they don’t? What if they rush out in droves to buy the latest book of revelations, slavishly follow the instructions contained therein to the letter, practice their new found man-magnet behaviour on the next few blokes that hove into view, and then, shock horror, it still doesn’t bloody work? Are they going to go home and lash themselves, slash their wrists, turn lesbian, or what?
Hopefully not. Hopefully they will concentrate on living their lives as well and fully as they can for themselves and if someone comes along and likes them for that, great. If not, well they could just stay home and write about the 1,000 reasons (or more) why a woman might reject a man!