Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Over the last maybe week, I have been vaguely troubled by the lack of a boy in my life. I say vaguely, because in general I’ve been feeling ace about just about everything. I don’t feel like I need a boy to feel good about myself or like a completed human being, but the thought has occurred to me that it might be nice to have one around. Sydney is a tough town for boys. No, let me rephrase that: Sydney is a tough town for single females. Finding good boys is the tough bit. By good I mean clever, interesting, spunky, successful, but mainly with any clue in their head about how to treat a female, or any interest in treating one well. Of these there are very few. Mainly men in Sydney are gay. Of those who are not, a large percentage are arrogant, dim-witted players with bad style, or just so emotionally retarded and commitment-phobic that any meaningful interaction is almost impossible, and certainly infinitely pointless. Or maybe I’m just mixing with the wrong crowd. This could well be the case. For a start, I know plenty of really cool, emotionally stable and genuinely interesting and charming boys all of whom are of course taken. Surely some of these boys had to be single in Sydney at some point? Which means maybe there might be others out there somewhere, right? Maybe I just need to try going to different places. Which brings me to another problem: going to places at all. While I have definitely made an effort not to completely avoid popular watering holes (in fact I have seen it as a test of my metal to see whether I can go out sober and still have a fun time), I haven’t been going to bars as much as I used to. The appeal of hanging out around increasingly drunk people into the wee hours has not been as strong as that of getting more sleep, getting up earlier and going out for a jog (for example). Which is all well and good, except that in Australia (as far as I know) you don’t meet boys on jogs. You meet them in bars. Or at parties; drunken ones. “What about yoga boy?” I hear you ask. You’re right, he may well be the perfect man, but I haven’t seen him in class for two weeks, which could mean he’s on holiday, or that he’s stopped doing yoga, or merely that our schedules are out of kilter. Do you see how difficult this is? Even the fact that I’m thinking so much about a boy who I haven’t had a proper conversation with, indicates just what a dearth of good available men there are in this town. But honestly, worrying about it really isn’t something I currently have energy for. So I suppose I will leave my level of “troubled” about boy or lack thereof at “vaguely” (or maybe turn it down to “not at all”), only resolving to at least try and put myself more in the way of the miniscule scattering of quality boys remaining in this town. Getting up the courage to talk to said quality, should it happen along, without the aid of alcohol is of course another matter. But then, if the man is indeed as quality as he looks, he shouldn’t have any trouble in taking care of introductions himself.
The more I don’t drink, the more I am alarmed at how much other people do; the quantities, the frequency, people’s social reliance on the stuff. I know “they” are simply “me” 81 days ago, but as the distance grows further between me and that whole routine, I am starting to appreciate the enormity and ferocity of the beast that is our drinking culture. Drink is everywhere: at dinner parties, at picnics, in bars, at work, at lunch, in homes, at the movies, the rugby, the cricket, on aeroplanes, at the hairdresser’s. It is used for celebration, for sadness, for relaxation, for courage, for socialising, for stress relief, for meeting the opposite sex, for sex itself, for having a good time, and for forgetting a bad time. Versatile stuff yes? That or we’re hooked on it, to the extent that any excuse will do. Let’s imagine for a minute that instead of alcohol, it’s donuts people are consuming. Let’s map out a not abnormal week for a twenty-to-thirty-something Sydneysider. “Well, I’d usually have one or two donuts with dinner on most weeknights, and anywhere from two to five donuts with lunch on a Friday depending on if it was someone’s birthday at work, or we were having a long lunch at the pub. Then I might have say four more donuts later that night out with friends if it wasn’t a big night, maybe eight if it was. Then on Saturday night I could have anywhere from four to twelve donuts depending on when I started, then on Sunday I might just have a couple in the evening, to ease me back into the working week”. If you knew someone who was eating between 14 and 35 donuts a week, you’d think they had a problem right? (And don’t even start to give me question marks on where that mystery layer of lard sprang from.) For a lot of people I know, that little run-through constitutes a modest estimate. Why are we doing it? Are we trying to fill gaping holes in our lives/personalities/confidence/personal achievements gulp by gulp? The problem with that approach (I have found) is that the alcohol quickly drains away, taking useful things like brain cells, energy, good looks and good moods with it, leaving a bigger hole than before and fewer resources with which to construct something more satisfying and lasting to fill the void. As I have pointed out before, you’ll notice that quite a lot of the world’s more conspicuously successful people, aren’t big on getting hammered. They know the value of keeping their beady eyes in sharp focus, and their minds whirring and tick-tocking in the best possible working order. (Not to mention the general helpfulness in any career or endeavour of good skin, bright eyes and perky, lean muscles.) In any case, what I think is starting to dawn on me, is that where before I thought alcohol overconsumption was a symptom or manifestation of other problems, now I’m starting to think it might be the source of much that hampers us as humans. Depression? Frustration? Stagnation? Unhappiness with our bodies and appearance? Antisocial behaviour? A lack of energy or motivation? Feelings of failure or not being in control of our lives? Just not having your shit together? All of these things can be linked directly to drinking too much. And then we drink more to try and block out how bad we feel about the whole sorry state of affairs. Alarming right? And an alarming proportion of our society is geared towards behaving this way. The problem is enormous. It’s sprawling and almost impossible to control. It’s like some fast-moving runner bean plant or vine, squiggling like a maniac on some zooped up fertiliser. It’s freaking me out! I think I need a drink (of green tea or camomile or something).
It is hot as hell and I am suffering from a bout of don’t know what to do with myself. I just walked home lugging my laptop, an exercise that saw me sporting a fresh slick of sweat within minutes of stepping out of air con into actual, honest, swindle-free air. Now I am having difficulty deciding what to do. I have a nice chunky window of Friday evening free time and so many activities with which to fill it, but a strange scatty brain that won’t let me settle on any one thing. I kind of want to read/write/do Sudoku/blob/watch TV/hang with my friends/sleep/eat/not eat/be on the other side of the world. It’s tough. So far I have actually managed to eat a Macca’s soft serve cone (50c worth of ice creamy, fake tasting perfection), have a couple of swigs of Chi (my new favourite drink) and buy a coffee from the nice boy on the corner. Congratulations (weird choice on the coffee though if it’s really as hot as all that). What I should probably be doing at a time like this is a nice, calming hour and a half of yoga, but it’s way too hot for that. In olden times I may have cracked open a beer and calmed my rattled nerves that way. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll just lie face down on my cold leather sofa until I’m calm enough to make another move. Awesome. We’re doing fabulously.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
I have already had an awesome day and it is only 9.45am. The sun is out, the crickets are zizzing, and I have a fresh, hot coffee served up to me by one of the attractive and friendly boys at The Shop, my reward for my Sunday morning run. Being a healthy human being on a morning like this is a gift. Having jogged the pretty ups and downs of the eastern burbs, along lanes and streets lined with well kept terraced houses and leafy grown up trees, chatting loosely in between breaths to my big brother, and finishing in the cool, green park that is Rushcutters Bay with its yacht-filled marina, lapping water and harbour and city views, I couldn’t help but appreciate how lucky I am to be alive, here, right now. Just being up at 8am, breathing in the fresh oxygen pumped out by the trees, feeling the brain and body benefits of doing something active. Strolling home through nice neighbourhoods feeling happy and energised for the fresh expanse of day ahead. Passing by the grey, rinsed and sodden individuals still left over in Kings Cross from last night. Knowing the foul feeling of being a night creature turned monster by the touch of morning sunlight, but walking past it fresh as a daisy. There are so many pleasures to be had from the most basic human actions; moving, breathing, seeing, even simply being awake to see the day, I wonder when as a species we first felt the need to medicate for recreation? As children we have enormous amounts of fun without anything stronger than sugar to fuel our activities. Why as adults do we suddenly feel the need to inebriate ourselves? Well, people have their reasons. All I know is that right now, for me, not drinking is making perfect and quite beautiful sense. And engaging with the world in its purest and most basic form is proving quite sweet enough without the addition of any mind-altering tonic.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
It’s 1.22am (so officially it’s tomorrow not today, but officially I don’t care) and it is extremely warm. It’s like a very hot day, only it’s night. There’s bugger all breeze and I can tell sleeping is going to be difficult. On the upside, the air smells wonderfully of frangipani and jasmine flowers. And I’ve just realised there’s no 8am yoga class on Sundays, so I don’t have to get up quite so early, so sitting up wide awake late into the night isn’t such a big deal. Maybe I can squeeze in a bit more book time before my lids grow heavy. I just started reading Dry by Augusten Burroughs, the autobiographical tale of an advertising copywriter coming to terms with his raging alcoholism. My good friend Jane (like me, also a copywriter) put me onto it. And it’s a compelling read. One might almost say addictive. I ripped through almost half today while first lounging in bed and then lying on Bondi Beach, and I would like to finish the rest before the weekend is out. His antics are certainly making me feel better about my own previous drinking habits (I couldn’t sink a bottle of Dewars Scotch over the course of a month, let alone one every night), but alarmingly too, some of his behaviour echoes things I’ve done in the past. Like drinking my way out of a hangover, only to find myself hung over again the next morning. Or having hurriedly to think up a suitable excuse to explain why I’m so alarmingly late to work (I have done the 12pm wake up on a work day. It’s like the Uma Thurman Pulp Fiction adrenaline shot scene. Suddenly your body and mind registers that usually you are somewhere very different at this time of day and shocks you into horrifying, gasping awakeness.) instead, that is, of the real reason, which is that I got slaughtered the night before. I too have had the joy of a colleague commenting on how much I reek of booze, although that was the day after a big agency party and just about everybody else reeked horribly of booze too. What’s interesting though is that, also like Augusten, at the time of committing these sinful behaviours I and many people around me saw nothing wrong or out of the ordinary in what I was doing. Now however, peering at my former self from the much more fragrant side of the glass, that kind of behaviour seems nothing short of putrid. Only recently I’ve been subjected to the pungent huffings of drunken companions, and it’s not a pleasant noseful. You can literally smell the syrupy turps oozing its way greasily out of people’s skin. It’s pretty foul. And to have it thickening the air of a meeting room while everyone else is crisp white shirts and Listerine? Nasty business that, nasty. It’s funny, as I progress further along this sober line, I am starting to wonder if I will actually want to drink again once this challenge is done. Maybe, like Mr Burroughs, I might actually prefer to stay dry for life.
Friday, January 8, 2010
I apologise for being annoying, but I have to say it: I’m feeling freaky amazing. It could be the vitamins I finally got around to taking, or maybe there’s something in the water (I drink a lot of the stuff these days), but over the last little while I have been feeling so damn good. I have basketloads of energy, my mood is UP, my skin and hair are bright and shiny, and my brain is excited, interested in everything and whirring along like a bee with a propeller on its arse. I am happy. Very. And to be able to say that, believe it or not, is actually a bit of a feat. For whatever reason, over the past however many years, I have lived in a state of frustration and general disappointment at my position in the world. I was frustrated with my progress, uninspired by my work and career prospects, disappointed with where my music had gotten to. Everything I wanted to achieve seemed huge and impossible. I felt trapped and powerless to change my situation. It was depressing. But I don’t feel that way anymore. And what’s changed? I still have the same job and do very similar work. The difference is I like it now. I haven’t made any amazing extra progress since those days of feeling shit about myself, so nothing’s really changed there. But I can see that what I’ve already achieved in my life is actually quite good, and that with a little effort there will be more to come. And if anything, my music projects were enjoying more success a while ago than they are now. But I am feeling really happy with our current level of progress, and positive about what we’re capable of. Suddenly now everything I want to do seems totally possible and achievable. So it’s not any concrete event or bit of progress or achievement that’s changed, it’s just my state of mind. Oh yeah and one other thing: I haven’t touched a drop of alcohol for 65 days. On reaching this baby milestone day (only 300 days to go!), it is becoming apparent that not having alcohol in my life is a very good thing. Because alcohol, even in small amounts, does affect your head. And mine without it, is feeling freakin’ fabulous.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
My second flight without alcohol went off without a hitch. Coke seems to be my new best friend, especially since I discovered that artificial sweeteners literally melt your organs. Better watch the Coke habit though. Don’t want to get enormous now do we. Not buying duty free saved me some dollars too. Awesome. And on swinging back into town, I discover Sydney is wet and positively arctic at 19 degrees C. Not quite the tropical hot house I have been painting for my kiwi compadres. Nevermind. Incidentally, as I was leaving the airport, my cab passed a billboard displaying a large Heineken beer bottle and the line “Some things you can’t share on a blog”. Like a beer dude. Apart from the rampant paranoid anti-blogism it’s displaying and a bemusing apparent desire to align the brand with techno-archaism, I liked it. But of course for this blog, they kind of missed the point. Not sharing a beer is the point for this blog. It’s why it exists. And wait a minute, what point are they actually trying to make? Presumably that Heineken is the real deal, a beer that originated before any hair-brained nincompoop generations started doing newfangled things like blogging. Unlike a blog, a Heineken is something you can hold. It’s something you can taste! Yes? No? Whatever. I am perfectly happy to be crowned Head Weirdo and blaze a trail into a non-beer-drinking, pro-blog-writing future. Are you with me? I’m guessing Heineken’s probably not.
P.S. I have always actually really liked Heineken. I definitely have nothing against their tasty beverage (except of course, in my current predicament, that it has alcohol in it). But I wonder who they’re targeting with their billboard. Older, slightly techno-phobic businessmen who secretly yearn for the old days when deals were made in person over as many drinks as it took to get the job done? Do people like that exist anymore? Or did that breed die out long ago of liver disease?
It is the last night of my holiday in New Zealand. Tomorrow I must pack my bags and leave the farm for the airport, and wing my way back to steamy Sydney. It’s okay though. I have had a great time, survived many a drinking challenge, and spent pleasant interludes with innumerable family members and close friends. I’ve also got plenty of things that need doing this year and I’m keen to get started. I spent today lunching with my grandparents (who are aged 90 and 91), Dad and my cool aunty. These are all people I love and love being around, and they are all key members of my strength core (to coin a phrase); just the thought of them and their presence in the world helps me to carry on and to feel safe and strong. They have helped to build me, and they continue to help me stay standing. Then this evening, my dad’s good friend Jacqui took me and Dad out to dinner, which we followed with a drink at a tiny French cafe in one of the new, hip laneways in the city. Naturally I didn’t partake of the Mandarine Napoleon digestif or special port chosen by Jacqui and Dad. I opted instead for a Coke, poured from the tiniest, best looking glass bottle Coke have yet produced, and an espresso. Apart from a millisecond lamenting that I wasn’t sipping champagne in this darling pocket of Frenchness, it was an entirely enjoyable experience, and a fitting end to a fantastic break. And now what? I set back to the task of getting somewhere: with my music, my work, my relationships, my body, my brain, my bank balance. Will a new me rise from the rubble of my old ways in 2010? We can only wait and see.
Friday, January 1, 2010
6.55pm NZ time. I am back at the farm. This place is some kind of rustic wonderland heaven. In summer it stays light way into the evening, sometimes until about ten at night. Right now the sun still feels hot and like you could almost burn. But that’s New Zealand for you: the land where things are so pure and raw they hurt. From where I’m sitting, outside on a gentle hillock beside the farmhouse, I can see a sun-filled meadow of overgrown golden-hued grass, backed by big, old, sprawling pine trees in dark green, the mauve-grey mountains behind and a huge, clear, Canterbury planes blue sky. I love it here. But I always find my first few hours after arrival confronting. Coming home to the city where I grew up and spent some of my early adult years, always floods me with an unprepared for spray of memories. I feel vulnerable because I’m not sure what will come to haunt me. It’s hard to ascertain which visions of my many former selves are fact, which are my own rose-coloured versions. I can’t remember everything that went on here, and I know I may encounter people who know bits I don’t necessarily want to be reminded of. It’s okay. It’s a classic case of the wandering small town kid. You go away and build a new self in a new place, but when you come back, the you that was there before is still somewhere around. You just kind of hope you don’t bump into it too often. I don’t know why though really. I had an awesome time in this town. I guess you just keep moving, and looking back or reliving the past isn’t always useful. And of course, when I return to the farm, I am always hit with the loss of my mother. The house and this place pulses with her for me. It is full of her touch – certain books, pictures, rugs, the way things are put together. There is a definite sense of her energy. And there are so many memories. So it is also a ritual when I arrive in this place that I cry for the mum that is so much here but isn’t. Then I clear the tears and enjoy being back in the presence of what she was, and back in this beautiful, honest part of the world, surrounded by the stories lived by the generations of our family that were here before us. Oh yeah, and I usually crack open a bottle of one of my Dad’s selection of crisp New Zealand whites, or a beer from one of NZ’s impressive little boutique breweries. Not this time. Today I toast the holidays with a glass of clean, pure Christchurch water; the best tasting stuff you’ll find anywhere, straight from the tap.