Monday, 1 February 2021

We're exempt

I just reread my last post and look, there's no getting past this, when I'm pretentious I'm very pretentious. Sorry about that. It came out a bit worse than it needed to, because when I sat down to write, I had a lot of different things in mind I wanted to write about and I envisaged a much longer post casting a much wider net. But of course what happened is I got too sleepy and had to stop. So there you go.

A poet whose work I really admire periodically unplugs all his social media - I realise of course this isn't unusual, I've done it myself at times - but he said once he does it because he can't bear how the habit of posting comes to dominate and frame how he sees everything, at the moment of seeing - like he can't have an experience without it happening in terms of how he's going to frame and filter and caption and tag it. I recognise (and deeply dislike) that syndrome but where it's pernicious is on the very rigidly formatted platforms, instagram and facebook most typically. Blogging is not like that, for me it's not. I do occasionally become aware that I'm going about my life and simultaneously describing it to myself in a sort of diary voiceover, but after all this time, that's a mood which when it comes signals to me not that I've given up authenticity in exchange for a performance. Rather it's almost the opposite. When I think about how to put an experience into words while it's still happening it means I am having an unusually rich time of it inside and there are things to unpack, or process. 

So it was like that when I started writing my last post. I'd spent a week with Lenny doing school holiday things, and I wanted to capture and reflect on what that week was like. It was up and down, demanding and satisfying; we did a mixture of interesting things and very dull things; he is growing to an age and condition where we can really talk and do things together, intermittently, but it's still interspersed with stretches of coming to meet him in conversation where he is, at nine and a half years old, and that's not terrible of course, especially when there's nothing else I need to be doing, but there's an adult self which has to be quiet and watch and think and somehow entertain itself while that's going on. And I wanted to write about how overcome I was by the beauty of a modest little stretch of road in Silvan, in the Dandenongs, among the cherry orchards; about Hanging Rock; about paying a visit to the cat cafe; about how I felt both attacked and deeply amused by the art gallery installation of a cookie cutter apartment fitted out and finished exactly like mine except everything in it was either too big or too small. But in the end all I could do was gush a bit about Eric Ravilious (the book was a part of all the other things I didn't write about) and note that the year, the shattering year of 2020, was ending. I spent the evening with Lenny, as always when with him feeling alone and not alone, and at midnight I was sat in bed, writing, like I 'm doing now. And then my phone buzzed with a text message, a lovely HNY message from the person who enriches my life in a hundred different ways, and then I was tired and no longer believed I could write anything truthful and real before I would need to sleep.

And that was a month ago and a lot of things have happened which deserved to be recorded and might not be if I let this stretch of silence go on any longer. So I am now going to ruin the train of thought which I have just set in motion, and revert instead to dot pointing, out of chronological order and also out of order of magnitude. I don't work like this to try and be cute. It's just the way that the jumble of mental clutter needs to be untangled.

- Pompey is really getting into me in a big, big way. When I go to bed at night this is apparently a signal to him that he should come and get on the bed next to me, gaze into my face much as John Belushi looks at Carrie Fisher at the end of The Blues Brothers, poke me with his little white fists, claw at the blankets etc. It's kind of annoying actually, but surely it's a stage on the way to properly sitting on me and letting me pick him up and cuddle him. What a massive goose he is. 

- Next pandemic I will be more conscious in how I approach the Christmastime collapsing in a heap, because I really fucked it up lot this time and paid a heavy price for doing so. As the end of the work year drew nearer and nearer I just started throwing things off the bus, as it were; on some level I thought 'rest now and sort out all the messes next year'; which is very fine in theory but in practice I didn't allow myself anywhere near enough time off work to draw a line under the year and regroup for 2021. And so I went back to working before the new year was a week old, and crapy ergonomics combined with stress produced an unbelievably painful seized-up neck and right shoulder which has necessitated a lot of time off work, physical therapy, opioid painkillers and prescription anti-inflammatories to get better, and is still not right. The back of my neck has a spot on it which feels like it's been hit with a hammer. 

- David and I were in a pub a few weeks ago and everyone but people actually eating and drinking were wearing masks, in accordance with the rules at the time, except for these two painful people standing by the corner of the bar waiting for a table. You know that dumb braggadocio - silent, subtle Travis Bickling - so stupid always but extra so in 2021. A woman working behind the bar asked them to put on their masks. 'We're exempt' one of them snapped, and while they clearly weren't, nobody made them, and I was pissed off about it for a long time, like days afterward, although they mustn't have had Covid, since i don't have it now, and they don't seem to have caught it since or we would have been informed all about it by the government. Half of the psychic energy eaten by the pandemic these days is consumed in torturing oneself with stupid feelings about people like those two. I used to think it was just people in Australia and the other places which have managed to get control of the virus who had the ridiculous petty luxury of entertaining spiteful and petty feelings about others' failure to obey public health rules, but now I think everyone everywhere probably is knowing these emotions now, and that's why we should be studying them and learning all we can about them so we can insert them into the historical novels we will write 6o years into the future. 

- Keven Andrews has lost preselection for Menzies LOL LOLOL oh LOL LOOOOOOOOOL, this only just happened today, so I am still allowing myself to enjoy the crap out of it before the reality inevitably sets in that, as has been proven unbeleeeebabblery depressingly often in Australian political life over over the last two decades, whenever they finally get rid of one monstrous liability it is only so another even worse one can immediately take its place.

- Lenny has started Grade Four and seems to be enjoying himself.


Anonymous said...


I'm wondering: What are Lenny's favourite books, and why does he like them?

Obviously you are free to not tell me or to make them up, but I would really like to know.

Thank you

Marie in Perth WA

R.H. said...

You do have a wit.

"Going about my life and simultaneously describing it to myself..." is very funny, really. I understand it; if I'd had a blog I'd have done it constantly.

Last week a cat, nice looking customer, appeared on my veranda. I opened the front door to see what it would do and it strolled straight in and right through the place, inspecting all the rooms. Then seemingly satisfied, it wandered back out. It had a collar, or I might have considered keeping it. I did offer it a saucer of milk, but it only took a few laps.

Keep this blog going, you're pleasing a lot of people.