Wednesday, 31 August 2016

[ now is the Winter of my discontent ]


Alright. So I'm aware that this may seem a little out of the blue. And I know this is something you never thought I'd say. I really am sorry about about how this is going to sound, especially coming from me, of all people. But here it is...

Sydney, we need to talk. It's the first of September, the first day of Spring; a new month, a new season.

And it's still fucking cold. Like, brass monkeys here. And I'm over it. You need to give it up already.

Please?

***

You know me solidly as an Autumn/Winter baby. Which I'm sure makes this really hard for you, but you have to see it from my point of view, right? I'm onto my third week in a row of still taking hot water bottles to bed, overheating, kicking them out, and then still waking up with near-bloody-frostbite. 

Chilblains are not sexy, and seriously; no one is going to shag me if my touch makes them shiver with dread as opposed to delight, so you're also screwing up my sex life here. 

Also, I cannot tell you what a right cretin I feel like when I get lulled by the first pleasant day in a week. The sun streams through my window, and suddenly I forget everything from the past month like a goldfish. Up I pop, full of beans, slip on a slinky dress, NO pantyhose, some spiky heels, and totter off to work. 

By eleven-thirty I want to pour the entire Zip tap of hot water down my knickers just to feel anything from the waist down. Needless to say, I spend most of the day hiding at my desk with a blanket I have scrounged from the storage cupboard on my lap. Gods only know where it's been, but risking the choice between an insect infestation and amputating my legs, we're going to go with the former, hands down. 

Also. Every single person, without fail, whom I shake hands with - or stand within three feet of, if we're being honest - has gross hands. I mean, coughed, sneezed, or generally icked them in the last 10 minutes. I've had an itchy nose, sore throat, and red eyes for a month. Until recently, whenever I raised my voice above the soft dulcet tones of an Elizabethan maiden, I sounded like a coked-up, disapproving duck. 

And, much as I appreciate my co-workers, it's getting beyond revolting. I'm pretty sure the same strain of tonsillitis has settled itself firmly into doing the rounds of my office and think all its Christmases have come at once. 

On that note, public transport has taken on the nightmare quality of a trip through Mordor, complete with Orcs, feral animals and a blazing red eye (more than one actually). First, you slog through wet streets, muddy median strips, and generally dangerous traffic intersections (Sydneysiders are utterly nuts; a million Syrian people die and we're all; oh, that's sad. It starts to rain in Sydney, and everyone LOSES THEIR FUCKING MINDS). 

Then you get on the large, moving tin can, which every year is basically an incubation chamber for every flu virus since the dawn of time. I really don't know why CSIRO pay to have labs; we already have some in Sydney they can use. They're run by CityRail.

And people Will Not. Shut Up. About the weather. Honestly, we've all suddenly lost the ability to have any semblance of stimulating conversation, and have  become almost painfully Victorian-England British. Asking about people's kids/pets/weekend has been chucked in favour of random gripes about horrible it all is, like we toil under the yoke of an oppressive sky god who just wants to drown us and be done with it. Fair call to her really.

And last but not least, WHY IS IT SO FUCKING DARK ALL THE TIME?! I swear, I utterly adore twilight like a fat kid adores cupcakes, but this is getting beyond a joke.

I wake up, it's dark. I go to work, still dark. Head home - at a reasonable hour - Still. Dark. I feel like I've slipped into the parallel universe, except in the that Total Recall-like world the lights seem brilliant and beautiful in comparison to this hellhole.

We've become weird, self-absorbed shadows of our former selves. And not just in the usual, snobby, Sydney-is-better-than-anywhere way. Now, we moan like zombies, but at least they look like they've seen more sun than us.

I'm begging you. Give it up. I want to get just one more shot of vitamin D before we all implode, not with a bang, but with a sticky, gurgling noise, like a snotty baby trying to cough and cry at the same time.

Please?

~*LTM*~
























Monday, 29 August 2016

[ midnight in the garden of good and evil ]


One of the first books that introduced me to the concept of questioning the nature of things is called The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender, by Marele Day. It was on my high school reading list, and to this day is one of my favourites, specifically for teaching me what it did. 

In the first chapter, the author has this wonderfully clever technique that demonstrates the way we assume things from the data presented to us, and can then discover an entirely different set of circumstances. She presents our protagonist in a certain way with certain details, and you are left to create the rest for yourself - much like all good stories. 

Day leaves little literary clues that almost no one picks up - using blond* instead of blonde - and you get the lovely little shock of finding out at the end of the chapter that the hero is actually a heroine. 

Without spoiling the book (it really is brilliant and worth a read), I'll say only that this is a canny way to introduce the greater concept of not all bad/evil being entirely bad, and not all good/benevolent being entirely good - things are not always what they seem.

Using the terms interchangeably; good and beneficial mean the same thing, as well as bad and evil. Though I know one word can be construed as stronger over its other - depending on context - I hope to convey similar meaning for each here.

***

Personal ideas or individualised concepts of good and evil are much easier to quantify than greater ones. We can nail down how a person acts as good or bad much more clearly than we can things that encompass many.

A serial killer is evil. Their acts are in a microcosm and we can see the details of their wrongness clearly. Donating an organ to someone in need is beneficial; a deed we can label as inherently good.

What about sending troops into Afghanistan to a people in need; clearing away years of repression and murder; killing terrorists and destroying the places they hide. Surely the fight for world peace is considered good?

Personal opinion aside, it is interesting to note that after the above, a conversation started regarding what the Afghani people were left with; how do you move forward with no one to govern you? The oppressors of the people had been removed, but it is said that it left them with no way to advance from there.

For a people that had only ever known a life ruled by the Taliban, who had only ever lived one way, how do you change the quintessential nature of your life without knowing how, or being given the tools to do so?

 Looking at the situation without emotion if you can, you see that someone made a decision that they thought was in the best interests of the people, of the greater good, and a hard one at that. The full consequences of that decision could never have been known in advance.

What does matter is how the consequences were dealt with. And that's where things become murky in whether the overall good was served; if not all the events after such a decision was executed were dealt with in a constructive manner, does that negate the good intentions of the original decision? Or it is just unfortunate circumstances?

***

Coming back around to things that are decisively good or evil, you need to have some idea of what each is. Good is said to be anything morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious. Evil is anything morally wrong or bad; harmful; characterised by misfortune or suffering. This what the Dictionary.com says anyway. 

Good can then be considered anything that promotes positive conduct in society, promotion of betterment and well-being of yourself and others. Evil would be the oppression of these things, the denial of free will, destruction of society.


Here again is a question that muddies the waters; what about those who do good things for bad reasons, and those who do bad things for good reasons? What about those acts that change when they are done? 

Kevin Spacey plays two characters who you think you know - but who both turn out to be not as they seem. 

Francis 'Frank' Underwood, our man in the White House from House of Cards, engenders both love and hate - two other polar opposites, but sides of the same coin. Frank ruthlessly manipulates those around him to get what he wants. He manoeuvres around peoples' morals and ideas, swaying them to his point of view, purely for his own gain. 

This doesn't mean he doesn't do good things for good reasons. He helps out a friend in need, his character supports minorities, he donates money to charity. This does not change our understanding of his essential nature as a Bad Person.

Jim Williams - Spacey's other character who you think you know is a nasty piece of work - is what we call same same but different from Frank Underwood.

The book that inspired my title is richer and more detailed than the movie that I reference, but you can get the same idea from both. Williams is a man entrenched in his deep south community of Savannah; the people, the industry, the way of life.

Whereas the ending of the book and the movie differ quite dramatically, the prevailing elements remain; Jim Williams is a good man, committed to his quirky town and they to him. Whether for good or ill, it's a faithful relationship that only flounders when certain lines are crossed.

Williams can be considered a Good Man who does bad things for what he believes are good reasons. Even after all the things he does, we place him firmly in that place in our minds because we think we know his motivations and can justify his actions along with him.

We see these characters and think we know them for what they are. We see their life and decide who and what we believe them to be, and settle those notions deep into our psyche.

***

As a side note, to make things even more complex, here's something else to consider...

Good and evil hold the connotations of a heaven or hell, if you believe in them in some fashion; an afterlife where if you've done good things you get rewarded, and if you've been bad, only punishment waits. Does this influence how we judge people? What about the concept of karma; what you send out returns to you threefold. Does the idea that the energy you send out - the good or bad things you do - will return to you three times as strong; does it make us look at actions as entirely good or evil? 

Religion and spirituality insinuate themselves into these conversations like the snake around the tree. Which leads to the conversation about the notion of sin. 

But that's another discussion entirely...
***
 
In the real world, we don't get to watch the story of someones life, see how events pan out without being coloured by the storyteller, or make slow judgements based on all the presented data. 

In the real world, good and evil can be swift, sharp, and ultimately settle in our brains either way, no matter what happens later. We can see an act and our opinion manifests based purely on that one moment. We can hear a story and determine how we feel solely on the words spoken. 

When you get to know someone as a Good or Bad Person, you tend to keep them in that place for a long time, if not indefinitely. Certainly your ideas about them can change, but without momentous occasion, their fundamental substance remains in one camp in your thoughts.  

I know lots of lovely people who do shitty things occasionally. They try their best to please everyone and make compromise after compromise, losing a little piece of themselves every time they do. 

In some ways, there's no real surprise when they do something that not everyone feels is right. It's hard to maintain that level of beneficence all the time, and the other kinds of people - the ones who usually call it a shitty thing - are never happy unless someone is miserable. 

The other type of people I speak of are obviously the shitty people who do lovely things. These people cannot focus on anyone but themselves, make decisions established entirely on their wants, and use whatever means they deem necessary to move through life. 

When these people do good things, it makes you uncomfortable; their very nature suggests they are only doing so in order to serve a personal purpose, and the good deed was coincidental at best.  

I know a woman who tries to spend quality time with friends and cooks them dinner a few times a month. She babysits their kids and runs errands for them. She talks about them in a way that you know means she is committed to their welfare, loves them, and very much cares for them. 

She has also been sleeping with a married man, the father of said children, on and off for seven years. 

I know a man who hurts bad people for money. Sometimes just as a returning favour. And he enjoys it. He has a day job and works very hard at that, and people don't generally know much about his private life. He lives in a world where black and white are solid, and shades of grey generally only revolve around other people.

He has also spent the better part of his life caring for his mother, doing everything to provide a safe, happy home and life for her, sometimes to the detriment of himself. 

Which of these people is the Good Person and which of them the Bad? Are they either firmly in one camp or another, and has that changed over the years? Am I only seeing them as they are now, without the foresight of all the things that came before me? 

It's not a question I can answer lightly, nor do I consider either of them intrinsically good or evil. On this day and at this time? Well...

When it comes down to it, I've spent a lot of years learning and re-learning to gauge conditions as they are, with all the knowledge possible available to me. Some things have not changed in my mind, but that doesn't mean I don't haul them out into the light periodically, sift through the fibres and see what I can find.

Good and evil fascinate me in the same way as human nature does; it's all about what motivates you, not just on the surface, but deep down in your subconscious. 

In the end, no one has all the answers, obviously. Life would be rather dull if they did. What we do know is this; not everything is as it seems. And we don't need to keep pretending that it is.

Seek and you shall find. Question everything.

~*LTM*~



*This denotes the masculine when using proper English, it is said. For the feminine, you add the 'e' to the end.








Thursday, 18 August 2016

[ things that grown ups just fucking do ]




This list comes out every once in a while with variations on the same things; changing tires, doing your own taxes, knowing how to cook. And it's still funny, every time, because we all know people (read = are those people) who still can't do some of these things.

It's full of hilarious anecdotes about people stuck in the rain, desperately trying to find the jack in their car let alone get the tire off, crying hysterically with wine while trying to interpret the ATO's myriad hieroglyphs, and other epic disasters involving curry sauce, Jamie Oliver cookware, and the fire department.

This is not that list. Hence the swearing.

This is the real list. The one I have compiled due to the ludicrous amount of people who keep telling me that not only can they not adult today, they don't know how to.

Listen to me very carefully; if you are neither Peter Pan nor Johnny Depp, and obviously neither fictional nor famous, you need to grow the fuck up.

Certainly, lenience will be shown for cooking catastrophes, lack of vehicular knowledge, and any dealings with any government department whatsoever. These things are hard, actually stressful, and occasionally require a degree in engineering. Allowances are assured for such events.

However, we have now reached the age of saturation.  You have been in society long enough to have absorbed a decent amount of knowledge, if not by applied schooling, at the very least by osmosis.

If you mutter yes to more than 3 items on this list, immediately hand in your credit card (you don't deserve it), move back in with your family (you shouldn't be unsupervised), and don't come out after 6pm (I'm not sharing a bar with your infant ass).

Match your clothes
This should be a no-brainer, but I am consistently stunned by the level of incompetence some people show in achieving this simple task. I work with a woman who thinks thongs are acceptable footwear in the office, tracksuit pants can be seen outside of the house or early morning coffee runs, and food stains are decorative items, like jewellery.
If you cannot dress yourself appropriately, stay at home and stop embarrassing the rest of us.


Parallel park
Unwritten rule; if a 16 year old munchkin can do something, you should be able to do that thing better.

Front the bill without whining
Or cover a cab fare for the group. Or buy a round of drinks. Or pretty much anything that requires more than just paying for yourself. You're a real grown up who earns real money now. Act like it.

Put together IKEA furniture
Theoretically, I understand that this is actually really difficult for some people; the thought of all the steps, the endless little nuts and bolts, the actual assembling.  
Here's the thing; grow the fuck up. Unless you are trying to get laid, have small children who need to be watched, or your hands are briefly / permanently paralysed, just put the fucking bed together. It's not rocket science.


Know the difference between friend and acquaintance, love and being in love
Nobody has that many friends, and this is not high school.

Drink like an adult
Remember that time you drank so much you forgot where you were and woke up missing $400? Me either, because we had a nice dinner, got pleasantly tipsy and then went home to bed.  
Also, you woke *with* $400 and took your mum to lunch. Adult as fuck.

Don't drink on anti-biotics
The world will not end if you skip alcohol at what's-his-name 35th on Saturday night. As a grown up, you know that sipping cranberry juice all night means the UTI might bugger off quicker than if you downed vodka's like you haven't seen booze for a year. Also, grownups take care of their bodies, right?!

Curse like a trashy high schooler
I say fuck. A lot. I know it, you know it, my mother knows it. I do not, however, say the 'c' word, swear (excessively) in front of my boss, my mothers' friends, elderly people or loudly in public, and I certainly don't pepper every sentence with it because I think it's cool.
If you are still yelling "c**t!" across the road to your mate because you both think it's funny, go wash your mouth out with soap and get back to school. Clearly, you skipped English, you foul-mouthed loser.



Learn to read maps and give directions
There are some places you can't even take your phone, let alone get reception. I know, hard to believe but still true. So unless the legend is in Japanese, don't rely on Google, learn to read the UBD and don't be that one person on the camping trip who confirms their ignorance by vague hand gestures in the wrong direction.

Take proper care of your car 
Much like parallel parking, if a teenager can tell the difference between the fuel light and the engine light, and you can't, hand in your license now. Though the former isn't as costly as the latter, unless you have a spare grand or so lying around, don't be so flaky and go to your mechanic already.
Also. Have a regular mechanic. It's like a doctor for your car.

Have a savings account with money in it
You heard me. With money in it. Just because you have a savings account, doesn't mean you can call yourself an adult; putting $500 in there on payday then blowing it on a holiday 3 weeks later isn't saving, it's how most of your twenties turned out.

Keep a home
Telling people you've never even vacuumed before isn't funny, it's sad. Ditto on how to work a washing machine. Also, saying you don't really 'do house stuff' doesn't make us think you're cool and carefree; it makes us think you're a serial killer.

Make a decent cup of coffee (or be damn quick over to the local)
Not offering guests a hot beverage is the non-verbal equivalent of spitting at the feet of their family. Making rubbish coffee is the non-verbal equivalent of doing the same to your own.

Say you'll do something. Actually do it.
Do I even need to explain this one?

Build a fire

 
~*LTM*~
































Monday, 15 August 2016

[ history is like gravity, it holds you down so patiently ... ]

The past has a habit of coming back to startle you at inconvenient times. It is not kind, rough or gentle, nor does it wait for a fitting setting in which to bring you revelations to colour your present.

Last week while walking to work, I remembered the time my ex and I were in NZ and he spoke to me in the coldest manner. Days later, at home and not feeling well, I recalled an asthma attack from years ago, when my little (younger, younger; he hasn't been 'little' for over 20 years) brother cried and held my hand while I stared at the ceiling, struggling desperately to breathe. Two nights ago, I thought about the first time I met my current boss and how his quiet demeanour was like a beacon that I recognised from someone else - my old boss and friend who passed away in January.

The past is the anchor that tethers us, consistently recalling us to who we are, who we want to be - likewise who we don't want to be, and where we want to go. It shapes our destiny, more than any one event or belief alone could ever do, and our memories make us the beings that are greater than the sum of our parts.

***

A long time ago, I was the sort of person who fought their past. There were no great demons that hid in my shadows (yet), but certainly things that made me cringe and wonder about someone who made such mundane choices, let alone life-changing ones. I'm not really sure what made me stop, or at least struggle with less vigour, but I think it had something to do with feeling comfortable in my own skin, with all the things I'd done and wanted to do.


As I got older, I learned that some people openly run away from their pasts. Not even just the ones who have distinctly awful memories following them around, but some where they just don't want to face the things they've done and seen. 

I never ran. I fought sure; clashed against and shrank away from a certain type of awkwardness that I hope not to repeat, but I never ran. And this may be part of the reason I endeavour to understand people who do.

***

Sense of smell is the closest link to memories, they say. Certain scents can evoke a scene so vivid from your past that you can almost close your eyes and imagine you are still there. 

I know the scent of my mothers' perfume in a crowded room. I know what my childhood smelled like (citrus and flowers, by the way). I know what my lovers skin smells like, early in the morning sunshine and after a big night. 

The smell of stale beer also reminds me of when I worked in hospitality, a time so full of personal misdeeds, I'd rather bury it deep in my memory, only to see the light when I'm feeling tough. And the combination of old carpet and musty cardboard reminds of someone long gone, whom I would pretend not to know if we ever saw each other again. 

These are things I hold close to my heart and that surface at the random moments. I have as much control over them as I do over the breeze on the harbour, or the way the light hits my sunnies on the grass. I can tilt my head or move entirely; nature cares not, and neither does your past. 

Some people run half way around the world to get away from such memories - to change the smell of their life. They bundle all their possessions, or take nothing at all, and flee to somewhere that is nothing like their previous surroundings. They throw themselves into a new life, a new job, a new persona, entombing their old life deep in their subconscious, as far away from sight and recognition as possible, lest one glint of it should distract them from moving on.

Forward motion - or evolution and locomotion, as I prefer - is something I'm all for. Vehemently. You've all heard me wax lyrical and profane on the topic, so there's no need to attempt to convince you here. Nevertheless, there is a difference between moving on and just moving - and you know my thoughts on this also. 

Here's the thing with running away; it's just moving. I'm not quite sure how some people manage to follow through in life without recognising their past and dealing with it, but apparently it happens every day. People get up, pretend to be something they're not, and off they chug. Day after day. 

If it sounds like I'm surprised; I am. Intrinsically, I understand that this is a coping mechanism. Life is long, hard and tiresome. No one wants to sit around contemplating their proverbial navel and examining their life to date. Apart from being extremely painful, it also sounds mind-bendingly dull. 

But to make a conscious choice to ignore everything you are and everything you did, seems dreadfully extreme and somewhat counter-productive. And let me reiterate, I'm not including those with some truly horrifying experiences in their past. Though I will say I know some amazing people who are choosing to deal with their past demons in the present, and who inspire me by doing so, every day.

I'm talking about the people who have one really shitty relationship too many, get fired from another job, who just can't seem to get ahead in life; there's never quite enough money or people or experiences to keep them going. 

These people fascinate me like a particularly nasty car accident. You know you shouldn't look but you can't tear yourself away. And, much like an accident, although the gut-wrenching horror is tight in your chest, there is also the desire to help, to see if there is anything you can do, anything at all, to make life easier. 

And so it is with me and people who run away; I want to know why they run and whether there is any other way. Can they get closure on their issues first? Can they take them with them and sort through them in another place? Can they eventually come back to them, stronger and wiser, with the ability to smite their figurative and possibly literal demons another day? 

Not-so-deep down, I know this is also about me trying to figure out some of my own demons, but I'm under no illusion about that being the case. The selfish part of me wants to be special; the kind part wants to be part of the healing. I sincerely hope, every time, that I can make a difference in people's lives, no matter what the motivation.

And in that helping, I look for understanding; our past is the fibre of our beings, the colour on our canvas, the different coloured fairy lights on the string (am especially proud of that one!).

Why then would you run from such a thing? If it's not all doom and gloom, if it's a mishmash of fun and heartbreak and joy and tears, why would you cut it all out, like some unnatural growth?

I'm still trying to figure that out. But for what it's worth, here's my take; we are not clones or cyborgs. We were not born or made, fully formed, then programmed to be a certain way. We learnt it, through teachings from others, reading, learning new skills, and many, MANY life experiences that shaped us anew every time.

So, when I think of the sound of my mothers laugh, and the timbre of my eldest brothers voice - a man I no longer speak to - I'm not going to separate them out. When I recall my lovers curls, knitted around my little fingers, and see an echo of someone else in my mind too, I'm not going to shove the thought away.

And when I get my heart broken and healed, over and over, and know that someone else will do the same again, I'm going to contemplate the feeling, relish the fact that I can feel all the sorrow and all the bliss - all of it; heartbreaks and triumphs - knowing it makes me who I am today.

There will be no running. I have nothing to fear but what I hide from myself. And why would I hide from a life of such wonder?


~*LTM*~



The title is paraphrased from a beautiful song by the Goo Goo Dolls. Enjoy!













Wednesday, 10 August 2016

[ 13 Things We Say, But Don't Actually Mean ]




The other night I was asked if I wanted to go on a cruise near the end of the year, maybe around Australia or further if we (my crew) could all afford it. I replied with, that sounds interesting, leave it with me.

Coming from me, and depending on tone, this directly translates as; I cannot think of a more horrifying idea, and will promptly delete it from my mind the moment the conversation is over.

Like a lot of things I don't wish to hurt peoples' feelings over, I say yes when I mean no, and maybe when I mean absolutely fucking not. Being on a ship with a bunch of people I don't know very well getting mainly loaded and with no direct escape route is pretty much my idea of hell.

This is where we put the filters on and play nice, because some people actually like confined spaces mixed with booze, even if I don't.

But there are also those questions that become about the other person knowing the difference between what we say and what we mean, and in lacking the capacity to tell the difference, therefore display themselves as an utter twit.

In order to avoid ALL THE AWKWARDNESS, here is a reminder of the top 13 Things We Say, But Don't Actually Mean;

"I don't want anything for my birthday, I have too much stuff anyway. Honestly, just get me a card"
This is generally rubbish and should be treated as such. Everyone wants a little something, and there is nothing worse than having nothing to open on your birthday except for a reminder from the dentist.

"No, no, it's all good - I wasn't expecting to be invited anyway"
Yes you were, even if it wasn't in a serious fashion. The fact that you now openly weren't even 'token invited' feels like that time in high school when you weren't chosen until last for dodge ball, and only because the teams needed to be even. Nigel No Friends.

"Sure, I don't mind if you wash up"
Generally you appreciate the offer of washing up and are not that fussy, but you just know it will be a half-hearted job involving sticky, booze-soaked fingers because you are all more than half-tanked, and honestly, nobody is going to want to rewash dishes tomorrow with the kind of hangover this is going to be. In fact, anything more than standing upright will be a chore. Do it yourself and maybe let them dry.

"You can stay as late as you like, just curl up on the lounge and chill"
People who like large crowds of other people say this and mean it. People who have 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a LARGE garden say this and absolutely mean it. Amanda Palmer meant it when her and the Dresden Dolls were in Seattle, needed food and company and the fans were amazing. But generally, no, everyone must get the fuck out by midnight on Sunday.

"We should get a drink sometime and catch up!"
Why? We've literally run out of things to say within first five minutes of running into each other, every single time we run into each other. Tell you what, let's do this again, but exactly 6 months in the future, with absolutely no plan to ever have any type of beverage together whatsoever.

"Age is just a number. Getting older is cool"
This is only true on Saturday mornings, when your skin - and your head - are clear, the sun is shining, you've bounced out of bed, and started the day with a pep in your step. Not, in fact, at any other time. Including Sunday morning, when you are hungover, feel like death, and recall spending hours looking at photos of yourself from 10 years ago, trying to judge every little line and wrinkle that has appeared in the interim.

"I don't think I'm going to make it out tonight, I don't feel very well"
I feel absolutely fabulous sitting on my lounge watching my seventh episode of Battestar Galactica.

"Do whatever makes you happy"
Do none of the things that make you happy. Most them involve drugs, orgies, inappropriate wardrobe choices, even more appalling financial choices, and alarming social choices. Not that sort of happy. The socially acceptable sort of happy, where everyone (us) feels comfortable and satisfied is the sort of happy we meant.  


"I've learned so much from this experience. I really appreciate all you've done for me" 
I've learned to lie, fear direct eye contact, and generally loathe anyone in upper management. I appreciate you helping me develop a thicker skin, as I'm not cut out for retail anymore and can't imagine it pays as well.

"It's nobodies fault. Sometimes it just doesn't work out"
It's both your faults. Certainly yours as well. It's just nicer to say this than, "Your incessant talk of developing your inner child creeps me out"

"It's fine. Really"
Danger, danger, Will Robinson!! Nothing is ever 'fine'. Except Alexander Skarsgard's abs or Channing Tatum without a shirt. And then it's pronounced 'fiiiiiiiiine!!'

"I'm never drinking again"
You're going to drink when the ringing in your ears stops, you can stand upright, and keep anything other than lemonade and rice crackers down.

"Mistakes are all part of learning in life"
I'm trying to remember not to be such a cretin, but we all know I'm just Bridget Jones with better hair, better clothes, and more sarcasm.


~*LTM*~





























Thursday, 4 August 2016

[ of all the things you could suck at in life, you don't want it to be breathing ]

Asthma is a common long term inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs. It is characterised by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Symptoms include episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.  

So says Wikipedia. This doesn't really cover all the bases with what asthma is, but it's a good snippet if you've never heard of it.

Science doesn't actually know what causes asthma. Sure, they say they believe it can be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, allergens and other triggers, but this doesn't really nail down why some people get it and others, with similar conditions or factors, don't.

1 in 10 Australians have asthma1.  That's about 2.3 million people. 2.3 MILLION. Wandering around, not being able to breathe properly. And the thing is, it's not that we can't get the air in, it's that we can't get the air out. 

I've spent half a week off work, thinking I had the flu which set my asthma off. The doctor asked me if I had upped my asthma drugs and I said a little, and he looked at me blankly. I had a mildly awkward-Oprah Winfrey lightbulb-moment. And then he said it out loud; the flu isn't making me sick (my immune system will kill off the virus in short order), the asthma is.

Well, fuck. Did I feel like a right fool. 34 years of respiratory problems, hospitalisations, steroid medications, preventatives, and generally avoiding triggers, and some random doctor reminds me that I'm treating the wrong issue.

I've had it since birth and generally it's well-managed. I haven't been hospitalised since I was 14, and if an ambulance has to be called, I generally just need what's called an oxygen driver2 to get the meds more firmly into my lungs, and that usually does the job.

I'm so used to having this under control and my action plan on autopilot, that when it does flare up I honestly suspect it's something else.

It's not. It's the bloody asthma.

Being an asthmatic sucks. Literally. Everything sets you off; dust, pollen, cats, a windy day, some types of booze (I know, depressing right?). And everything makes you tired; eating too quickly, walking up a hill, running up stairs. You basically spend your time as an asthmatic being weak as a kitten and moping about.


However, asthma isn't exactly a death sentence. Modern medicine has made it extremely feasible for asthmatics do 99% of the stuff they would do without asthma. Properly managed, most cases can live normal lives, work in whatever job they want, and do all the things they enjoy.

(Except running. No one enjoys running. Unless a zombie is chasing me, I'm not running anywhere)

There is also the funny(ish) side to asthma.

Don't want to go to gym class? Not a fan of team sports? Or sports at all for that matter? 


Now you can be even geekier than you already are, and make Star Wars jokes every time your asthma flares up. Better yet, get a Vader helmet, wear it when you are taking your nebuliser, and quote Darth until someone makes you stop. 


Sitting on the lounge by yourself and you hear a noise. What the hell is that? Is it the wind? Is it the gate? Is someone trying to break in and the door is squeaking?! 

Nope. It's you. Asthma has created a weird whistling, squealing noise in your chest. Try not to choke while laughing your ass off. 

Asthma is annoying, hard to pin down, and somewhat depressing. No one can see you have it; it doesn't display itself on your body like some conditions. And trying to explain to people the reason you can't breathe is because of an unseen, usually random, element in your environment is much like smashing your head against a brick wall. 

Here's the thing though; asthma is treatable. It's not (quite) as nasty as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. There is no cure, but the rate of deaths from asthma has remained stable since 2003 and was only 0.3% of all deaths in 20123.  

As much as asthma can be a real drag, it's hard not to thankful you didn't win top prize in the craps lottery of life; there are much worse conditions, with less managing medications, research and funding, or even knowledge for that matter. 

And as someone who does get pretty dejected when I spend days at a time doing nothing but medicating and resting4, I know how it feels.

At the end of the day - or the middle of the afternoon, or 11am, at work, at my desk really - asthma is a little rubbish disease in a world full of big rubbish diseases. Plus, after 3 to 5 days of medicating, taking it easy, and generally wrapping myself in proverbial cotton wool, I get better until I'm pretty much back to normal5.

So, I'm raising a toast to all my respiratory-challenged sisters and brothers and saying, let's be grateful we only suck at breathing. Honestly, it could be worse.  

~*LTM*~



1. Asthma Australia
2. Using an oxygen tank to administer medication, as opposed to an air tank. Without complicated explanations; the pure oxygen facilitates greater access to the lungs than just 'air' would.
3. Asthma Australia - Statistics
4. When an asthmatic says 'resting', it means literally that; you've never seen someone so bored from sitting still for so long.
5. My version of normal. Obviously.