Feeling strangers’ deaths

THERE’S an hierarchy in journalism. An international reporter, a war reporter, a New York Times photographer. These are far beyond the level that I am at; a community reporter of an outback mining town. A hack journalist. If I broke a story and Newcorp or ABC decided it was worth following up – and it added nothing new to my own angle – their version would still be the one found on Google.

It feels then that talking about reporting death is something that should be reserved for a war reporter, an international standard journalist. Someone witnessing the aftermath of mass murder, savage violence, torture. A hero returning after imprisonment in third world countries.

I just feel shaken up every time I write about death. When I emotionally invest in a dead person I never met when they were alive. I’ve lost count how many times this has happened in five years. Eight times maybe? A conservative figure. Children, middle-aged, elderly citizens.

A man died in a crash on the highway and you could see the smoke from 12 kilometres away when a cattle road train crashed to avoid his car. Now. I was not the first there. The police, and the paramedics, and the council workers were. They saw the mess left behind. I was safe behind cordoned off lines.

I saw nothing. And this is always the case.

It was okay when his identity was only an age and a gender. Like any. It’s easy when it’s those vague details because it could be anyone. They are just a hypothetical idea.

But I learned his name.

And then I grew attached. I learned about his character, I learned the musician he enjoyed, his drink of choice, and his first word.

Still, it’s easier now. I suppose I recognise that being emotionally impacted is a selfish sense of ownership.

About a month ago I attended a funeral for a cattle grazier. The family supported me taking photos at the memorial, and I followed their lead, but there were a few at the back of the room glaring at me, assuming I was intruding.

I was recording. I knew what I was doing. I had a sense of purpose and it was about honouring the memory of a person by acknowledging his contributions and the loss of it all.

Still, as I write about a life, before it ends in death, I wonder how I can sum it up. There’s so much going on, a life deserves a book. And yet I’m trying to sum it all up in quotes within a few hundred words. I write about a person I don’t know in a short time. This is where the stakes, of honour and memory and accuracy, are high.

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Trucks waiting for the highway to reopen after a death on the road. 

I’m more confident in getting it right about a life, but it wasn’t always the case.

I was a cadet and three months into the job when a little boy died in my town. I went to his family’s house to ask if they wanted to talk, after the major papers did the same, and I was shaking. Nervous. To my surprise the family were supportive. The mother burst into tears, and I still hear that, but they welcomed what I was doing. They needed it, in a way, for kind words of their love to be repeated and spread to the community.

That night I couldn’t sleep, afraid. Wondering why I deserved a byline for doing nothing at all. I was afraid I’d get the facts wrong. And I woke, and went to work, and felt shaken up a while.

A couple of people died. I interviewed them before or after this happened. My regional manager said, almost tongue-in-cheek, “I’m worried about you mate. People you interview keep dying.”

And that’s an exaggeration. I’m just there when I’m needed.

The day I don’t care anymore, the day I stop feeling and absorbing the loss, is the day I know I need to stop writing about it. But here I am, slipping into some self-righteous martyrdom. But I need that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am Jughead

It’s been months since watching Netflix. My partner and I had made the swap to Foxtel but then when change happened in my life, I found myself camping out in a mate’s home. With his TV. And Netflix. But no chill.

I mean, I needed to chill. But not in the sexual way. I just needed my own time so when I turned on the TV I saw Riverdale was on offer.

Archie was a great comic book when I was little. I mean, I didn’t know many people who were into them. And I can’t remember much about them except the main gang. And what the plot was really about, I have no idea. And I’m even clueless as to how I even had the comics. They were just a presence. Mysteriously obtained from under the floorboards.

I don’t binge watch a show, but I was close to doing that with Riverdale. As much as I could. I’m in love with Veronica (oops did I slip that in there). The 10th episode, The Lost Weekend, was the last aired and I’ve finished that tonight.

Now. A brief description that is a SPOILER ALERT but I’m trying to keep it vague.

Jughead is homeless and has a troubled childhood and has father issues. His girlfriend is hot and kind and he’s a lucky guy. But he knows that. Now. It’s his birthday, and his girlfriend decides to organise a small birthday party for him (I mean, what else was she to do?). Which gets unexpectedly larger to no fault of the girlfriend.

Now. Jughead is furious. He’s angry at his girlfriend Betty. He says that if she knew him she would realise the party was not what he wanted. That it was just to prove she was the perfect girlfriend.

It’s harsh. It’s moody. It seems unfair.

But I’m getting what he’s feeling. And yet I’m in the middle and watching and understanding Betty as well. It’s unfair he’s treated her this way. And it’s been done because he’s emotionally overwhelmed.

Is this an excuse? Mmm. No. It’s a red flag on their relationship but it’s a concern for Jughead himself.

Because making it through a crap childhood doesn’t mean you’re an ugly duckling becoming a swan. That swan from the Hans Christian Anderson story has insecurity.

But I wish more people knew that.

Jughead hates celebrating his birthday and his reason is that one day of the year shouldn’t a pretence of a perfect life. It should not be a break from how crap the other days of the year are.

To have all that attention on him for one day, for him to feel special and cared for properly is hard. He was self-conscious. The insecurity issues came pouring out. And he took them out on his girlfriend.

That relationship shouldn’t last. Not because of Betty doing anything wrong, not because Jughead is a terrible person, but because both of them have emotional needs to be filled. And they can’t fill them together.

 

 

Shrinkage

1

WHEN I look back to the time I knew Maggie Olde in Year 6, in those days when we waited at the tin bus stop in the morning, I know that I played games with her.

We exchanged sexually charged letters. Sometimes we held hands. Then I’d pretend she didn’t exist in front of my friends at school.

But she got her revenge. Maggie Olde humiliated me.

 

2

We were both hanging out at a friend’s house. Or, should I say we were at the house of several friends. They lived together in a nearby foster home, from toddlers up to a friend in high school.

Skinny dipping was the rebel thing to do back then. It wasn’t hard for Maggie to convince me in the pool to take off my undies. As soon as I put them over the side, she grabbed them, and threw them over the fence into the horse paddock.

Then, she grabbed the snorkels and ducked in the water to try and get a close up visual of my dick as everyone else stood on the patio and laughed at me.

3

Sometimes I tell that last part as one of those funny stories. I just had never told this next bit. I never told my foster mum or friends or social worker because I felt it was wrong. That it made me a deviant.

We left the swimming pool when someone got my clothes. Maggie and I went upstairs and went into bed and humped each other and made loud groans. Clothes stayed on. Which was just as well, because our friends watched.

I guess reading it now it doesn’t seem so bad. But it was sort of like with my first time I had sex. I didn’t know who I could tell. I didn’t want that action to define me, yet it was all I could think about. But unlike the actual sex a long time after, I held onto this part of the story for years.

4

The next morning we both got on the bus. Straight away Maggie shouted “I saw Chris’s willy last night!”

I’d once humiliated her on the bus by shouting out a made up rhyme that basically made fun of her weight. She’d got me back. Everybody laughed as I walked the aisle to the back of the bus.

“How big was it?” someone said.

“It was like this!” she said, squinting and putting her index finger and thumb almost together. “It was really small and wrinkly.”

“That’s because of the chlorine!” I roared.

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5

The only good moment was being at the back of the bus where there was at least a little dignity and nobody behind me. But as soon as the bus reached the school and we merged with the other students coming out the other buses to walk up the hill to class, I heard “willy” and fingers pointing my way and Maggie at the centre of interest.

At recess I was followed by some of the students and Maggie when I stumbled into the cool kids sitting in a semi circle behind the soccer posts. I usually sucked up to them, wanted to be one of them, but didn’t think I fitted it. Didn’t think they liked me. But that’s when they roared out to my tormentors to leave me alone.

“So what?” my mates said when they asked me to sit with them. “And besides, it would have just been the water.”

I was so grateful for this first moment of acceptance from these guys. And I suppose that’s when school really got better for me.

 

 

 

 

Digging up the journal

I’m reading Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diaries. When I heard she’d found old diaries from the time of A New Hope and revealed an affair with Harrison Ford in a book I was curious.

But I probably wouldn’t have bought the book except I was at the Brisbane airport bookstore – returning from holiday to Mount Isa – the same week that she and her mother died. They were all the news.

The book was the last on the bookshelf. I grabbed it and kept it among my lengthy ‘to read list’. Last night I finished Joe Hill’s The Fireman.and realised The Princess Diarist was still in the pile.

I’m halfway through it where she publishes her old poetry, presumably about Mr Ford in the early days of their affair. And I just can’t help compare his mannerisms to my own attitude.

“If you’ve got arrogance and indifference

You can make them pay

They’re the most commercial product on the romantic market today.” 

 

And here’s another one from Ms Fisher:

“I need to write. It keeps me focused for long enough to complete thoughts. To let each train of thought run to its conclusion and let a new one begin…I’m afraid that if I stop writing I’ll stop thinking and start feeling. I can’t concentrate when I’m feeling.”

 

Often I feel I’m getting harder and colder on the outside, and more anxious and insecure on the inside. I tell myself it’s not an issue until I can’t control it, when the anxiety comes out with my interactions with those around me.

These feelings are a cycle. In foster care I was between those times, when I lost control and was punished by DOCS and the education system for it. And I wonder if the key issue, among many, was a restlessness. I lost my purpose.

I never quite told you why I left foster care and what happened after. But those who know me enough now must wonder how I came from the child care system to being in the position I’m now in.

It was a sense of purpose that transformed me. Then in the last days of foster care it was religion, it was a new faith.

And I have no purpose now. I lost it some time ago when I stopped writing.

 

I guess reading Fisher’s diary makes me long for a purpose again, and that’s in writing something meaningful to me. I write daily in my job, I churn out information in the peak of online journalism.  I just don’t write anything for me in the after hours.

There’s no recording of the time I was in foster care. I did write journals but it was infrequent and they’re lost. But I have something from when I started regularly recording, and even that’s something personal I can share. Inspired by Carrie Fisher. Wow. A new hope for me? #Irony

But I’m going through my writing from nine years ago and it’s bloody messed up. I’m embarrassed about my thought process then, but I’ll let you read bits for yourself:

25/07/07

No wonder I don’t have a girlfriend. Its because I subconsciously know that I don’t really like specific girls. Love has nothing to do with it. Love is not the feelings between a man and a woman. that’s something else. A mixture of love and something else. True love is loving people no matter what. True love is men loving other men. Women loving other women. Men loving women. Women loving men. If you think I’m talking about orgies here, then you probably don’t understand and there is no point continuing.
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4/7/09
That was my first clubbing experience and I hated it. Drinking sucks, I suck at dancing and there were a lot of beautiful girls in very immodest clothes on. It’s a place of lust, and if you aren’t interested in picking up someone, its pointless.
There was one girl trying to tell me something, pointing at Amy*, but I
couldn’t hear her.I hated the loud music. I know I sound old, but it damaged my ear drums and I like hearing.
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27/02/10
Speaking of facebook, there’s this questionnaire where people answer questions about you but you have to unlock the answer to find out who thought it. Somebody wrote on there that they thought I was an ‘underachiever’ and I was saving my coins to unlock that but somebody thought I was cute so I unlocked that instead.
Wish I didn’t. It was Rachel, and she’ll know I’d unlocked it too. Facebook will let her know. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just…first, it’s weird that people think I’m cute. Second, it’s Rachel. She lives with me and I don’t like the idea that she considers me cute. Not that she’ll think of me more. I know that. She just answered the question. Third, she knows I know and will check to see if I’m weird about it.

Best to forget it.
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27/11/10 
I have a crush on my violin teacher. Something I do not wish to encourage or make stronger by even mentioning it. I shouldn’t have.
21/12/10
Everyone silently tried to make me to their image. It’s how perception works. Yet every image is different, and only the most powerful should triumph, if at all, or I try to be ten thousand perceptions, and each image is a thousand words.
I like Carrie Fisher’s stuff better.

 

 

 

 

 

White-centric

THE best description for Baz was foster uncle. It’s the title best fitted to a male mentor you crave, who was moody and sometimes volatile. He was never physically violent although like any man with a rude boy threatened to be so at times.

In the early days of foster care he had an Indian friend called Bert who owned a large property down the road from us. He was probably the first Hindu I met.

We went to Bert’s property once where I planned to earn some cash by filling in a dam with sawdust. I would get $10 for the work which took at least three hours. We had tea and banana cake in Bert’s caravan before we got started.

I hated banana. I refused the cake.

“Chris, it’s very rude of you to refuse,” Baz glared at me, but I didn’t comprehend the sensibilities of Indian hospitality. I was too fussy.

Like many of Baz’s few friendships I knew of, it soured. They got into an argument over some chooks, or over money Bert should have paid, or something like that. Baz threatened legal action.

I never knew Bert too much, but his presence and relationship with Baz affected the little things, from my social life at school to the events of my mortifying 12th birthday party. And the only thing more embarrassing than my 12th birthday party, was my 13th.

One time for some reason Bert’s family invited me to stay at their house. His wife cooked me hot dogs for dinner after asking Hazel what I liked.

I still don’t know why this invitation came out but it was random. It was a one time thing. I only remember the hot dogs, Bert’s wife cooking them, and Whats in the Box playing on the TV the next morning.

I left the house in the small town. It was round the corner from school. Two doors down one of my popular school friends came out. He saw me at the ‘token hindus’ house’ and smirked about it later. Even then in the early millennium the world around me seemed so white-centric, even if not quite nuclear or stable.

When I went home that next night Hazel asked what I had for dinner. “hot dogs.”

She gasped. “I told them that’s what you liked. But they are Hindus. They did a really nice thing for you there, Chris.” hindu meme 2.jpg

Shades and identity

 

LATELY I’ve been considering an assignment in art class years ago. We were told to copy a famous drawing and then repaint it with different colours. The aim was to reveal that colours can convey different meanings behind the work.

Heisenberg

The project fascinated me. I was halfway through slopping on the colours before anyone had finished drawing their works.

I chose the brightest colours for my Mona Lisa.

Her hair was red.

Her skin was purple.

The sky was green.

prisma heisenberg

My teacher gave me a passable mark, and then gave one of the other students a higher mark. He’d been expelled and hadn’t even finished the drawing. When I expressed outrage, she accused me of rushing through the picture as fast as I could.

She accused me of being lazy.

That’s sort of true.

 

But lately I seem to be better at expressing myself through images rather than through the written word. And I was better at writing than by speaking.

I spent a lot of time using my phone to do it.

heisenberg another

Perceptions of identity for one body interests me. It’s why I love clothes. It’s why I love selfies. I’m becoming more experimental with Instagram and a new app, called Prisma. I enjoy the editing and the cheap easy filtering and photo shopping, because maybe it’s the closest way I can escape my body. I can be somebody else by looking like something else.

It’s about making something into more than what it really is. Perhaps a caricature.

I suppose that’s what I’ve been doing when writing about my childhood so far. I’m editing it, colouring it, giving it tinted and exaggerated shades because it makes it more exciting.

original Heisenberg

I’m not lying. Not at all. I’m redrawing the past. I’m painting it with fresh colours of jokes and tongue-in-cheek observation, and adult experience, and sadness. I haven’t been giving you the original product.

And maybe that’s a good thing.

This still feels honest. It still means something.

It’s just a new and different way of seeing what it is.

This is what I am. Maybe a little more exposed, maybe at an unusual angle, but I just want to show you the difference.

first original Heisenberg

 

Obsessions long before Go

I NARROWLY made it into the 80s. I was born in November, 1989. So I become aware of my surroundings by the time the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle craze ended.

But my favourite game was Power Rangers. This is how I played:

-Arrive at a public playground.

-Size up the other kids; boys and girls.

– Start fighting them with my Power Ranger moves.

-Kick her down the slide

Mum was embarrassed. So she banned me from Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

New Power rangers.jpg

A STRANGE new game had begun at my catholic primary school, involving imaginary creatures.

“You’re challenging the gym,” one of my friends told me. “I’m the gym leader. And you,” he pointed. “Are fighting for a badge.”

“Okay.”

“You’ve got Magikarp.”

The creature sounded cool, it sounded like it had magical powers. “Fly and kick its butt!” I yelled, but apparently my Magikarp couldn’t do that.

“Use psychic powers!” I said.

But apparently my Magikarp couldn’t do that either.

All it knew was splash. My friend’s Starmie killed my Magikarp easily. I lost. I didn’t get a badge.

“This is bullshit!” I screamed, and ran away.

The year was 1999. The craze on the playground was beginning to change from marbles to Pokemon.I was slow to the discovery because I didn’t own video games, and my family didn’t have aerial on our TV.

Every Wednesday I would stay at the postman’s house. It’s not as weird as it sounds. He was a family friend and lived 40 minutes closer to my school. I watched cartoons on Cheez TV every Thursday morning including Pokemon and I learned the rules. My imaginary Magikarp was shit house. But it could evolve to Gyradoes, and that tough, scaly bastard could rule the gym near the drain, and even take on the next gym at the giant pine tree too.

The first time I was at another friend’s house he showed me his collection of Pokemon cards. “Here,” he said, giving me his spare ones. The best one I got was a Machoke. So began the obsession.

I chased the cards. Any I could get even if I didn’t have pocket money. My younger brother Keith and I scrounged for them. Once I stole my brother’s favourite card and hid it in my room and he used a tomahawk like in The Shining through the wooden door to get it back. Only instead of “here’s Johnny!” it was “give me back my fucking Pikachu!”

Her'es Johnny.jpg

I figured that since Keith wrecked my door I was allowed to wreck his. So we spent the next 20 minutes breaking them down as our Mum fled the house sobbing.

 

Keith and I worked out a game combining my marbles collection and our spare Pokemon cards, and we played for keeps. But one of us cheated, so we got angry and rolled around the floor trying to strangulate each other.

Our three year old brother Sam was watching and as I pushed them out the room I slammed the locked door.

Sam’s toe was caught in the hinge end of the door. He screamed. It was a high pitched bellow that echoed through the house. The door was locked and I couldn’t get in to unlock it. The spare key was on the other side of the house, on top of a cupboard I had to reach by a chair.

His toe. It was definitely broken. Mum bundled us in the car and she drove as fast as possible to the hospital. It took 40 minutes and Sam was sobbing the whole way. Sometimes he was too tired to cry.

He was carried into the emergency ward and the doors shut behind us in the waiting room but even then we heard the screaming. As the doctor checked his toe my little brother screamed at the doctor and nurses, “you blasted animal!”

Guilt. I’ve had it before and since. But not like that moment. Not like in the aftermath.

 

The Department of Communities  (DOCS) social workers began to monitor our family, but it had nothing or little to do with the smashed toe incident. No. This was about other reasons including expulsion, running away, breaking into another school to raid the kitchen and use the computer and read the Tintin collection in the library.

The DOCS manager figured the best way to get me to behave was through a rewards system. For every week I behaved I received a pack of Pokemon cards.

But when they failed to be delivered I grew impatient. Finally, I told them, “where’s my Pokemon cards?” and when I didn’t get them I swung my belt buckle at the glass door and it smashed. So I threw rocks through every other glass window.

It wasn’t long after that I was in a foster home. I earned pocket money, and I used it to fuel my collection.

 

But this isn’t about Pokemon. This isn’t about childhood. This is about obsession. Sure, there were other lesser interests through the years, such as Animorphs, and Harry Potter, and Halo, and then Jesus.

But…but, I suppose the next major obsession was before I turned 17. It was two years after baptism, and two months before graduating high school.

I was walking through the arcade one day with a friend when we saw a new store had opened up. They sold and played Dungeons and Dragons, Pokemon, Yugioh, but the game that grabbed me was Magic the Gathering. It was like Pokemon cards but more strategic. I understood the game quickly. I didn’t have much money – I was on Centrelink and didn’t have a job and my family lived on the other side of the country. I lived with my math teacher and his family. But I spent what I had on these cards, concentrated on value, and began to set up a deck of cards that focused on resurrection and light  and angels.

I was there four or five evenings a week, and all day Saturdays. But one day I lost one of my rare cards. I searched my deck three times in case it had stuck to the back of another card. I freaked out at school the next day and when I went home I prayed to find the card – because that’s what I did. I prayed for everything. And I prayed again and then searched the deck again.

I found the card the next morning.

And I felt relief. It filled my mind and chest. And then I knew what a hold the game had on me. It was dominating my thoughts, my time, my feelings.

“This is a sign,” I thought. “You will not go back to the store after school today. You’ve spent too much time there.”

Anyway, when I was at the store that afternoon I bought a new pack of cards. I opened it to find the best card ever. A ‘Wrath of God’ which basically wiped out every monster on  the field. Everyone in the store was jealous. I was offered more cards, more money for it, but I wouldn’t take it.

wrath of God.jpg

Later that night I felt guilty. I felt that the Wrath of God was commercialising something sacred. It felt blasphemous. I felt if I was going to continue playing the game I had to get rid of the card.

So I ripped it up.

And funny enough, after that, I never felt obsessed with the game again. I enjoyed it, but even then that joy was blunt, faded somehow. The Saturday tournaments were a little stale. But one of my friends found out I ripped up the card, and he told someone, and he told the owner, and the owner of the store was angry at me. “I could have traded you four packs of cards for it,” he said.

Every Magic the Gathering player in town knew me as the Wrath of God Killer.

 

RUNESCAPE.

This multi-player online game in which you wander, complete quests, train your skills up, and talk to your friends around the world. There were almost 30 skills including combat, magic, archery, fishing, firemaking, woodcutting, mining, smithing, and so on. There were also the paid members skills. Members had so much more quests and skills and a bigger world to explore.

Runescape-Level76Mining.png

I ended up joining. I played for several years, but by 19 I was a miner. I would spend days at a time picking a digital vein of coal just to level up. Eventually I was restless. I wanted to quit but at the same time I felt that the more time I spent on it, the more of a waste it would be to quit.

Eventually I moved to Melbourne to work with the homeless. The Salvation Army program I was in didn’t allow any time, or any internet reception, to play such a game. I quit cold turkey. When I left Melbourne after a year and had better internet and more time, I tried to play Runescape again. I had no interest. It bored me.

 

AS OF last week I own two phones. My work phone. And my Pokemon GO phone.

I’m a journalist in an outback city and I managed to write a few news articles on Pokemon Go. It was well read. Our city is going mad on Pokemon. So am I. It took two days after the game was released before I had a chance to play. My girlfriend and I went on a date to chase Pokemon and within a few hours she noticed a change in me. I was irritable and at one stage I ignored what she said because I was engrossed in catching an Ekans.

I couldn’t concentrate on work. I couldn’t concentrate on conversations that weren’t Pokemon. Every sentence I spoke was about Pokemon.

I don’t know why it’s sending me this way. I’m becoming what I was.

 

THIS morning I decided to quit Pokemon GO for four days. I turned my Pokemon phone off and hid it in the undies drawer, and then I went to work.

Three hours later I found an Aerodactyl on the street I was in. Within a minute I stumbled into this rare Pokemon – the one I was chasing specifically. And I tried catching it. As the Pokeball caught the Aerodactyl, the phone glitched. It froze.

Aerodactyl_AG_anime.png

I had to turn the phone on again but the Pokemon wasn’t in my collection, and it was no longer on the street.

Yes. I was upset. Then I realised. This game was a game. Yet it was influencing my moods. It was controlling me.

It shouldn’t have had this power.

“Let it go,” I thought, not even thinking of the Frozen song. But I still felt like shit, at least until half an hour later when I caught a Clefairy.

I turned the phone off, and I left it off the rest of the day, and I went back home and put the phone in my sock drawer.

And I really think it will remain in my drawer the rest of the week.

But even if I’m deprived of Pokemon Go, I somehow feel better. I can think clearer.

I don’t know why I’m writing this, why I’m sharing this, but I suppose there’s a message in here somewhere in my experience, so if there is I’ll let you find it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome back, buddy!

I’m back and it’s been bloody ages, I know.

And I wasn’t sure I was going to come back to this blog. I’m here because I need a friend to talk to and I think it’s you. Don’t feel pressured. You don’t have to do anything except read what I’ve channeled.

There’s so much on my mind right now and I don’t know where to begin. But I suppose we should keep it relevant. See. The theme of the blog was to explore the small stories from my days in foster care. The days I thought I’d left so far behind that I thought I could open them up for public examination.

Vulnerability bruises but I’d go back to write another blog post, and another blog post, and another. It was courage, in a way. I’d write to make sure I had at least 12 blog posts scheduled.

I was caught up by the instant gratification of a couple of WordPress or Facebook likes. But it was getting in the way. I’m a journalist. I wrote for a living. So I had just enough energy for another project. It had to be the blog, or a book.

I chose the book.

There was a woman who wrote me a letter. And in it she said “I love you”. A grand gesture that I related to and had done to others myself. So I knew the energy and courage that went behind the words.

So what did I do to help her?

Nothing. I ignored the letter.

Dr Evil meme.jpg

Shut up Doctor Evil! I already know.

It terrified me and I didn’t know how to answer. I wanted to say I love her too but I knew it was only because I just wanted to make someone happy. Someone deserves to be with who they want. Yet although she was a great friend I didn’t feel that way. “Why not?” I considered. “Why don’t you love her back? What’s wrong with you?”

I procrastinated a day to gather my thoughts, and then another day, and another day, and another day, and another day. And then it must have been two weeks and I still hadn’t acknowledged the letter to her.

Her friend facebook messaged me and blasted me for my rudeness and about how, basically, she was too good for me and that I needed to get over my past and focus on my present and future.

The friend assumed that I felt all this self pity by my foster care blogs. That wasn’t why I was blogging. It wasn’t about showing off that I had a hard background. I didn’t have a hard background! Not really.

So this was the first example in which it felt like publishing my past was being used against me. And I suppose it was an incentive to cut it off. No more blogs.

But here I am.

A few Sundays ago I got really drunk with a hot friend in Brisbane and we were about to pass out on her couch. And she muttered, “tell me a story.”

It could have been any story. But my mind was blank. Blank. Blank.

A terrible moment for someone who feels his only purpose is as a storyteller. I said what was on my heart.

“Tomorrow I’m driving down to New South Wales,” I said. “A place called Kempsey. I’m going to catch up with my foster mother. I haven’t seen her in eight years. I haven’t lived with her in 15.”

Silence.

sleepy|awkward.

“You’re telling me what you’re doing,” she said. “That’s not a story of what happened.” A polite way maybe of saying ‘chill, dude. Way too heavy.’

Maybe.

I guess.

I suppose.

It took days to work out why I was troubled by that moment, which felt like a metaphor or life lesson to take hold of.

I’m a collection of stories.

Not a gatherer of future stories.

I have the past. Why do I need to hold off and concentrate on the future for more stories when I already have what I need. When I haven’t shared all that I can give.

I suppose maybe I feel I need to prove myself from the moment I blanked. For a scary drunken moment I thought maybe I didn’t have anything.

But I do.

Hello =) My name is Chris.

I write not for pity. I write because what happens to me seems to make bloody sense once the actions are channeled through my fingers onto this.

 

 

Frieza, meds, terrorism

SO MANY things to think about when you’re in Year 6. Oh man, it was wild back then.

The parties you’re not invited to.!

The girls that freak you out for various reasons

The mean Irish teacher who is fucking insane 

Medication you have to take which supresses your hate for middle class society and the demountable school buildings and terrorists the hate is still there you’re aware of it but first you have to fight through the haze which hides the switch to your vocal cords so that you can’t make them scream

War on Terrorism – which begins later in the year.

George Bush, who I didn’t know existed until he announces War on Terrorism

Wheatus.

Dragon Ball Z. What if I sleep in or the aerial stuffs up the day Goku finally kills Frieza?

Frieza meme

What if my crazy teacher is a terrorist? 

My scary psychologist has three nipples

How the hell am I going to find and read all the 54 Animorphs books in order?

Impressing my friends who are more athletic and don’t invite me to parties because my socks don’t match. 

Being possessed by an alien slug

Making sure I get dressed in time since my foster mum threatened to put me on the bus in my PJs. Like she did to my foster brother.

Making sure my socks match.

Feeding the horses.

Homework.

Vampires. Do they exist? Or are Joss Whedon and Blade big fat liars? 

High school. Those kids look mean. What if I go to high school one day and I get knifed or flushed down the toilet or overlooked because I’m less than average in ability and looks and the teachers don’t care because their classrooms have too many students beyond capacity and I don’t learn long division properly?

What if I get tricked into smoking cigarettes, and before you know it the addiction strips my soul away and I become a total psycho like Christian Slater in that movie Heathers.

My foster mother gave me a visualisation exercise one day. She said “when there’s too many thoughts in your head, imagine a box.”

Okay.

“Put all your thoughts and fears and worries in the box.”

Makes sense.

“Close the box and put it under your bed. Come back later when you need them. Keep two or three with you and manage those ones.”

Okay! I’ll keep the epic fight between Goku and Frieza, the mean Irish teacher, and trying to sleep my way to popularity.

I find it difficult to think more than two or three ideas or thoughts now. Family, work, social life, it’s all been compartmentalised to when I need to access them. When something or someone tries to climb out the box I chop them up with an axe and swallow some medication with alcohol and  I put them back in and promise myself I’ll work on it later.

My first kiss

SO far I’ve kissed three women. Well, the first two kisses weren’t to women. We were too young.

Yeah. I don’t get out much. No way I’m telling you my age but anyone who knows a rough idea would surely be a bit…”wow, that’s just…sad.”

Anyhoo.

My first kiss. I’ve been putting off the story for a while to save for the right time. But it’s been weeks since my last confession blog post so maybe the problem would be solved with a story I wanted to dig up.

For years there’s been a sense of disgust about my first kiss. It affected me heavily I think because I was ashamed about it, so I didn’t talk about it. It’s why I pushed girls away I wasn’t sure of, how it’s affected all sexual views and attitudes.

All I knew about kisses then was from the movies. It had to be the right time, the right place, the right girl.

Her name was Maggie Olde and she wanted to go out ever since I knew her. She tried to bribe me with her Nintendo if I went out with her. She was my near neighbour. The cool guys thought she was ugly and fat. I wanted to do everything to impress them. I would not fit in ever if she and I were to go out.

There’s so many things wrong with that previous paragraph but these were my thoughts at the time. And there was a throbbing, a frustration in all areas of my body, a line I wanted to test and balance and the only girl I felt confident to do it with was Maggie.

I used Maggie for my own gratification, which I would do with a letter every now and then to tell her I had the hots for her. Then I’d get a letter and a rush of heat from the compliments she gave back to me. I’d regret it quickly and even more so with the little sickening comments my way.

Like, when everyone on the bus discussed hate and love. I said “I read somewhere that hate and love is the same thing.”

“Then,” she said staring at me so I wouldn’t miss what she was saying. “I HATE you.”

 

It was a messed up, toxic relationship. Years later I ran into one of my teachers, and she commented on it. “You two never mixed.”

About two years ago, I met Amber again (foster niece, friend, sort of a childhood crush) after a long time of lost contact. As we sat in the carpark of Nerang Train Station I told her about Maggie. Amber never knew because I didn’t even tell her.

“Oh my God,” Amber said, almost sounding horrified.

 

I hated myself for the weirdness. Confused, insecure, I didn’t want her, I wanted to experiment. I wanted to fit in. I wanted something else but then and even now I didn’t know what it was.

So one afternoon we went to her place with the promise of Nintendo. We were alone in her bedroom. She wanted to kiss. We did. There was no magic, no fuzzy feeling in my head or the excitement you might get finding a Pink Yoshi near the Forest of Illusion. I felt like I was touching something slimy and gross. I was queasy. I wanted to go home.

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ki0u9

“Now,” she said, sitting at her desk. “Let’s pretend you’re the husband and I’m the wife, and you’re coming home and you love me.” And she leaned out, lips puckered.

I should have got the hell out of there.

But I kissed her on the forehead and said “where’s your Nintendo.”

And then when I found out she didn’t have it anymore, I got the hell out of there.