Anzac Day

I get reminded as we walk out the front door that the children have been requested to bring flowers of some sort for the services this morning. Her brother is staying home because of a tummy ache, something that I worried may have been a figment of an overactive imagination until he mentioned cramping and attempted to throw up, and until his teacher informed me that she’d sent 2 home already after they’d yakked at school, bringing the tally of gastro-kids to 6.

We’re already running late, I’ve got to scare up some flowers and my cowboy boots aren’t the best for walking fast, so all signs are pointing to just taking the car the environmentally-Unfriendly 4 blocks to school.

It’s just such a beautiful day though, and I tell her to get her helmet and scooter out while I find the loppers to procure the only full blossom on the rosebushes out front. It’s above my reach, and once its branch has been snipped it tumbles down towards certain doom before settling perfectly on the thorny crook of neighbouring branches. I take this as a sign, pick it up and head out.

At school I pass by the Parent Room, a flurry of activity that doesn’t really register with me, and walk across the campus to the furthest building where Piehead is in Pre-Primary. Being late, we have to hurry kisses and “be good”s while she grabs a patch of carpet and lines up with the rest of her class to head to the assembly. Peggy Jean Patty Sue Mum Of Year gestures at the giant blossom in my hand and adds it to the armload she’s already got. “I’m the Flower Girl this morning!” she announces happily, and I notice that her sense of humour has actually developed a bit since becoming pregnant with what promises to be yet another perfectly balanced progeny.

As I walk back up towards the assembly I notice Peggy taking my flower into the Parent Room, where the earlier activity was making “flower circles” as the kids had mentioned. Realising they meant “wreaths”, I felt a bit stupid for not just dropping it off on our way by, and saving them from last-second scrambles. I get seated in the last 2 rows of chairs on the East side, all of which are empty. The air is chill and I’m re-thinking my earlier t-shirt choice as I notice that the man directly across the street has chosen the exact moment of the assembly to crank up his lawnmower. Thankfully, the fact that it sounds as if it’s running on gravel instead of petrol makes him stop to check it out, instead of making this the worst Anzac Day services in history.

The kids hit “Play” on the CD Player on cue, and deliver their scripted lines about “The Last Post” and other such songs after they’ve played. They read out the appropriate lines, raise and lower the flag appropriately while the somber-faced old gentlemen in suits with medals and ribbons plastered to the breast nod and occasionally read some words that are nigh impossible to hear over the freshly cranked lawnmower.

As my oldest niece’s voice rises above the others in the children’s version of “One Last Parade”, two small kids walk up the aisle with a large wreath. I find serendipity in our tardiness and desperation of the morning as I notice with quiet pride that the largest and most perfectly placed blossom on the wreath is the huge red rose we’d so hastily gathered earlier.

The song they’re singing never fails to bring water to my eyes, regardless of how stoic I struggle to appear, and I once again question my fashion choice of the morning in forgetting my sunglasses. As we settle into a moment of silence, certain truths of the day reveal themselves to me.

Of these men, these soldiers, most of them don’t talk about the memories. Those that do, seem to only fondly recall going on leave, or stories from training, but not fighting. The fighting is something that they either never seem to recall or simply won’t talk about. Their reluctance to speak of their time in the service seems directly proportionate to the level of fighting they’ve seen.

Case in point, my father’s father served somewhere in the Pacific, seeing the enemy only once as a Japanese Zero wandered woundedly and crazily off-course from the Battle of Midway and flew over their ramshackle radio shed while they attempted to bring it down with a .45 pistol. He used to relate this story with some humour, embellishing nothing and pointing out that their efforts were the equivalent of trying to fell an elephant with river pebbles. His memories had no scarring and were unhindered by horror, unlike many of his friends and comrades.

My wife’s grandfather has never spoken of his time in the service, and the details of what branch he even served in are fuzzy and debated. I can only assume that he’s seen things no human ever should. “Haunted” is an undeniable understatement for these men, as I recall listening to my friend’s father, a veteran of Viet Nam, occasionally wake up screaming in the night. Other than his sleep-garbled words resembling someone “in the wire”, he patently refused to ever speak of the war.

I look up and look past the microphone stand to a sign. “Lest We Forget” is pasted in coloured-in letters, collaged together by bright-eyed young primary students. It’s meaning to them lightyears different than from the grizzled old bloke at the microphone, proudly donning his beret and thanking us for being there. When I look into his eyes I get the feeling that he is wishing that he would forget, if only he could.

We bring these two together, these the fresh, sweet and young and these the weathered, wise and experienced, so that none of them forget. While they are young, they are learning not to forget how to be thankful for the freedoms they have, for the lives that they enjoy so thoroughly under the roof of protection that too many have died to build. When they are older and becoming adults, they will learn not to forget that their lives are precious, perhaps too precious to be gambled with on a battlefield, or perhaps so precious that they will choose to give them willingly. They will continue to remember to be thankful for those that have done the same for they will more fully realise the repercussions of this choice.

When they are grown and maybe even have children of their own, they will not forget to be thankful for all they have, all that they have had the opportunity to build and grow on their own. They will not forget that they have led a life where they have never had a friend of theirs get blown to pieces in front of their very eyes. They will not forget that they have never had to take someone’s life simply to prevent theirs from being taken in situations devised and created by people in offices whose lives are not at risk. They will not forget that there are others, sometimes family, who have memories that they cannot forget, regardless of how much they wish they could.

When they remember, they will remember it all. They will even remember to be thankful for the old men’s memories, horrific as they are, for they are a lesson. The pain and even primal scarring they see shadowed in those old men’s eyes is just as important to remember as the freedoms afforded by their sacrifice.

This day really isn’t so that we remember to be thankful, for we really should remember to do that on our own. Every single day.

No. The real reason we remember all of this on this day, is to remember to never do it again.

Joliet Sorry.

It was one of those nights that had an undercurrent of energy so subtle you can never be quite sure if it was positive or negative. All you really know at the time is that you can feel it, and you don’t even really know that it will eventuate in anything, if anything is coming. You just know you feel… charged.

In High School, our source for alcohol was usually Zeke, the freckle-covered red-headed product of the White Trashiest family I knew, before I even knew about White Trash. Zeke worked at the IGA and despite his less-than-stellar IQ, knew how to wangle items that weren’t officially on the inventory books. On this particular night, this included a bottle of champagne and a case of beer that took crappy to the extreme.

Todd, myself, and a newish friend named Chris had decided to just cruise the backroads and consume this alcohol, knowing that we would undoubtedly park in a spot to be designated as “celebratory” and pop the champagne, and then use it for those purposes and not necessarily in getting us drunk. That, of course, was what the beer was for.

Chris was the grandson of an old woman in town whose name we all knew not only for it’s humour factor but for it’s infamy in the Old Schoolhouse Lore. While her first name was the same as Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend, her last name was the same as the bruise-style mark that young lovers leave on each other’s necks. You can imagine how much fun it was to even say. In fact, go for it. Go on, say it. See? Funny.

She’d retired just after most of our older siblings had received her dementia-addled tutelage, so we’d heard all about how crazy she was before she finally became a recluse in her rather nice home in the centre of town. For lack of proper parenting or the fact that he was just a sleazebag, Chris had come to our tiny town to finish out his High School years and do his best to stay out of trouble. Why his parent or guardian thought this would be done best with a batshit-crazy 78-year old woman I have yet to figure out. Regardless, his grandmother was about as grandmotherly as Chris was trustworthy, and she called him “slippery” whenever she got a chance.

If I think about it now, I suppose I was drawn to him because of his strong resemblance to my brother, another very “slippery” character. Maybe Chris was my chance to make up for my brother’s shortcomings and dishonesty by inflicting my better influences on him. An opportunity to show that somehow goodness and honesty will triumph over all. I was 17 and obviously a bit misguided, though to be perfectly honest, I don’t know how much has changed other than that I don’t openly mock old women anymore.

The 3 of us piled into Todd’s ’78 Jeep that night and set off in search of not only somewhere to discreetly drink ourselves into a stupor, but also to suitably celebrate something. Anything, really. We’d taken to habit of having no destination, with a fair bit of instinct thrown in, and headed up a quiet road connecting a neighbouring town with another called “Joliet”. Intelligently enough, we called it, “The Joliet Road”. Low on traffic and heavy with turnoffs and quiet, we eventually just pulled the Jeep over onto the shoulder and continued our drinking in earnest. The energy was at a bit of a lull at this point, but was strong enough for us to think that the best place for this little party of ours was in the middle of the road. Coincidentally enough “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues crooned from the stereo about being a “Soul Man” and the atmosphere was right.

This section of road was one of the few decently paved and painted parts, and actually felt quite modern to lay on and suck down awful-tasting beer. The night was cool, even for mid-Summer, and the view was spectacular. The night sky was bountiful with its stars and the crisp air gave them a shine that was almost unnatural. The energy was in them too, but completely positive in nature. For no other reason than we’d run out of beer and it needed opened, we popped the champagne to toast the stars.

Taking turns off the bottle meant that one had to deal with the inevitable blast of bubbles upon tipping the bottle up, so the actions had to be fairly quick. Todd was busy telling Chris a story very animatedly, and while I can’t remember the story I know it didn’t interest me more than the bitter bite of the bubbles and the magnificent constellation-filled sky. Either due to his drunkenness or his innate clumsiness (a debate that would rage well into our adulthoods) Todd inexplicably swung his arm around behind him in a wide arc, illustrating something in his story and hammering the bottom of the bottle with full force into my mouth.

Surprise more than pain was what made me exclaim, and I gently probed the fragmented bits of sharpness in my mouth while Todd barely skipped a beat in finishing his story to Chris. Mixed with something smooth and sharp was a powdery residue, the unpleasantness of such being enough to make me spit all of it onto the road. I swirled my tongue around in my mouth and discovered that my right front tooth had a lower quadrant broken off. Shock hit, in that way that you imagine it feels to a character in a movie about to get eaten by a Tyrannosaur, and I half-expected the world to stop until my tooth could get sorted out, or at least pause long enough for me to get over the sheer vanity of knowing that my smile was broken.

“You broke my fucking tooth man,” I said, trying to impede my speech as much as possible to enforce the gravity of the situation upon my devil-may-care of a friend. Chris lifted his eyebrows and gave the expected “Holy shit…” though the sincerity of this was lost in the fact that he was always superb at giving the expected response. Todd barely gave me a look and commented that this kind of thing must really suck. They both looked concerned enough, for a minute, and then that was it. Todd went back to a recap of his story before the two of them ambled up the closest hillside to take in the view and toast more things with the champagne.

I knelt onto the asphalt in an effort to salvage any of the larger pieces of my tooth, not knowing this makes almost no difference to modern dentistry, and became increasingly frustrated by the cavalier attitude of my friends as well as the fact that little white bits of enamel are impossible to find on a pebble-strewn asphalt road in the middle of the night. I climbed up the incline after them.

I repeated my earlier statement with as much of my frustration and anger I could express, putting my body well into Todd’s personal space. He laughed with a shrug, with as little care as one could imagine, and offered me the bottle with a comment about how I probably needed that more than him. Chris’s laughter only spurred Todd on as I first took a drink and then attempted to clue Todd in to the damage he’d caused. Knowing that I was fighting an uphill battle, I did my best to at least get him to do the bare minimum and apologise. He didn’t seem to understand what it was that I was expecting of him. Or worse, he did and wouldn’t give it up.

The wide expanse of the Montana plains spread out before us, the clusters of lights indicating the various towns neighbouring our own. We settled for a minute and pointed out the names of those towns, feeling the somewhat chilling wind through our denim jackets, and the energy pulsed suddenly as I asked Todd to say that he was sorry. I’d been waiting, patiently I thought, and wanted to hear it now. I demanded it.

His response dumbfounded me, as he looked at my like I was crazy before telling me that he wasn’t at all sorry. The energy spiked through he and I and the next thing I knew Todd and I were yelling at each other while Chris struggled to stay physically in between the two of us. Chris did his best to try and explain that Todd didn’t think he should have to say “Sorry” because he didn’t mean to break my tooth. I did my best to explain how that isn’t how it works, and the energy ebbed. I found myself labouring for validating feedback from Todd, recalcitrant as ever, or even from Chris, who simply wanted the situation over by me shutting up. I grew beyond frustrated.

The energy suddenly peaked as I backed a few feet away and began to lecture from the top of my lungs about how incredibly flawed that thinking was and how that wasn’t what “Sorry” meant at all. I felt strong and invincible as I screamingly explained that I would teach Todd all about having a broken tooth by doing it myself. My fist cocked and his defensive stance told me that he not only wasn’t sorry, but was more than willing to defend himself against what I perceived as justice. This only made me more inclined to teach his ass a lesson. Like a wild animal I began to take the first of a few measured steps before I planned to launch myself at him.

It was in this moment that the energy changed, and I don’t even really know how it did so drastically. Maybe the realisation of two best friends that they shouldn’t be fighting drunkenly over what equates to poor communication, maybe it was just the sheer power of that night, maybe it was the power and innocence of what came wandering towards us from out of the night.

We heard her well before we saw her, cagily walking back along a fenceline and whimpering at us. It was more than just the magic of an animal in need at such a highly charged moment, it was the logical notion that anything domesticated way out there in the wild had to have travelled a very long way and was probably much more than just lost. We discussed the possibility of abandonment as we cautiously approached her in our assumption that it was just a dog making those noises.

I saw the porcupine quills before I saw her face, as they shone in the night like neon whiskers, and instantly figured out the reason for her incessant whimpering. I was more concerned with getting her through the fence without catching any of the quills than of what Chris first noticed and then Todd voiced. “Holy shit, that’s a coyote” he’d stated with gravity. As I crouched and reached my hand to her, I hesitated for a brief second before I figured that this new information didn’t really mean that much to me. Especially given that the animal had sought us out, and not the reverse.

We got her through the fence and scooped her up, all thoughts of violence forgotten as we collectively moved with care with our new friend in our arms. We carefully trekked across the field and down the hill to the Jeep, discussing our next move and eventually deciding on venturing into the nearest town to the only thing open, the 24-hour truck stop.

The wind cut through the holes in my jean jacket and stung my ears as I quietly rode in the truckbed on the way into town. I spoke to her the entire time, soothing her with my words and ensuring her that the pliers on my Swiss Army Knife were more than capable of removing the multiple causes of her distress. By the time we got to the truckstop we were all suitably calm and focussed. We parked under one of the giant lights and Chris and Todd made their way to the back of the kitchen to hopefully find some scraps of food to calm her.

One of the night cooks happened to be outside on a smoke break and asked the boys what they were up to. As the Jeep was parked on the far end of the parking lot, the obvious reason for their request of food scraps wasn’t clearly visible. The cook went inside and a waitress eventually leaned out of the back door, looked upon the dirty and unkempt youths, and handed a well-presented take-out box full of a ground beef hash of some sort with an apologetic, “Sorry it couldn’t be more…”

Only after the coyote had begun happily scarfing down the food did it finally sink in that they obviously thought that Todd and Chris were begging for food for themselves, and not some imagined wounded animal they’d happened upon. As I held her in my lap and watched her eat, I had to admit that the dinner looked pretty appetising and probably meant for human consumption. As if sensing what was to come, she suddenly stopped eating and looked tentatively at my hands and the tool they held.

There’s a trick to extracting porcupine quills from a dog’s muzzle, as the swelling can make it almost impossible to pull them straight out, and I convinced myself that it was my expertise at this trick, and not the amazing bravery of that small coyote, that kept her still and almost unflinching during the ordeal. It was only after roughly 12 of the 14 quills were pulled that she started to squirm, and some tender words quieted her right down.

Our drunken buzz quelled by adrenaline, and the rush of even that fading quickly, we headed back to Todd’s house, dropping Chris off at his crazy grandmother’s on the way. After applying a bit of antiseptic and getting her settled in a blanket-lined cardboard box, we decided that we were going to keep her. Our earlier differences, so all-consuming at the time, were now forgotten as we almost simultaneously both suggested what we name her. More for the road we found her on than our favourite Blues performer, we both grinned as we dubbed her “Joliet”.

Summer passed and school started, the coyote was accompanying us on our afterschool adventures most of the time, though she was increasingly spending more time in and out of Todd’s dad’s truck while he worked his various masonry jobs around the valley. Despite his cursing about “that goddam coyote” he’d taken quite a shine to her and was rarely seen without her. Her easy-going and bouncy demeanour clearly meant that she was tamed, though we never heard of any one having domesticated coyotes as pets despite spreading word that we’d found one on that deserted stretch of road. After a few months though, that didn’t matter, there was no way we would’ve given her up anyway.

The Fall brought football practice and homework, and the grainy texture to my now-repaired front tooth had just started to wear off when Todd approached me one day after football practice with what looked like his English homework in his hand. There was a gravity to the moment as he handed me his writing assignment and said “I want you to read this.”

If I counted the number of times in our life that Todd had ever been anything remotely resembling serious and mature, I could do it on one hand and have fingers left, it was that rare. This was clearly one of those moments, such that I withheld my usual smartass comment when I saw that he’d gotten an “A+” which I honestly thought teachers didn’t do any more. The assignment was to write a story from your life in which you learned a lesson.

Todd had titled his, “The Night I Learned to Say ‘Sorry'” and had written, in detail, about how he’d broken my tooth, how we’d almost fought, and had found our loving little companion. He wrote about how misguided he had been in his thoughts that “sorry” need only be said when there was intent in the actions and that you didn’t have to say “sorry” if you didn’t mean to hurt someone. He wrote about how he’d learned this lesson after nearly 18 years on this Earth. And he wrote it really well.

I’d honestly moved on from the whole thing quite some time before, and when I finished I did my best to hide the astonished look on my face as I faced his awaiting stare. I handed him the paper back as his serious face straightened, he looked me right in the eye and said, “I’m sorry”.

Years later, when Todd and I would have a few beers, a depending on who was around we would occasionally tell the story of the time that we almost had a fistfight, but not much more than that. When near a black light, or whenever it’s brought up, I’ll correct the assumption that my tooth suffered my love of hockey with the statement, “broke it on a bottle”. Further prompting, and a few more beers, and I’ll tell most of the story on my own, but I’ve never really told the whole story until just now.

Thanks for listening.

Breakfast with Jadey

The kind of week that you’re pretty sure is going to be remembered in specifics for at least a month, and the kind of times that you know you’ll remember forever, are finally over.  Over, in the calendar sense only though, and their essence still lingers in the air like a morning fart after an evening of dark beer and barbecued meat.

There are only a few kinds of poverty that seek to definitively sap your soul.  Surviving them will never leave you unscathed, and the scars left behind will instinctively flare up within seconds of noticing that the bank account has dipped below a certain level while after thumbing through a stack of bills.

I’m scarred now.  And it hurts.

The soothing balm of a promise of cash was short-lived, and in it’s place is a bitterness and numbness that seems to transcend the use of monetary devices of this common culture into a Utopian ideal.  As a self-defence mechanism, my mind seems to drift off into a world of make-believe, where we don’t need money to be happy and good times are still readily available regardless of our lack of funds.

My underlying demeanour may betray it, but my mood is a good one this morning as I dance back and forth from the countertop to the stove, a toddling bucket of curls clinging to my only stationary leg.  I whistle a nameless tune and eventually put lyrics to Beethoven’s Fifth that tell the story of the naughtiness contained in my small child.  She humours me with an emphatic, “Gah GAH!” and then smiles up at me while a piece of egg-soaked bread flops limply into the frying pan.  Breakfasts are my specialty.

Breakfast is also her least favourite meal, or at least the hardest to get her to eat.

I do what I can with the cheap white bread and our expansive spice rack, and even without butter (we’ve run out days ago) the French Toast turns out pretty good.  I’ve made some of it sweet, with sugar and some syrup, and some of it savoury, sprinkled with a dash of nutmeg and some tomato sauce, to cater to the two drastically different palates in our household.  I’m curious which the baby will prefer, as it took no fewer than 110 donuts and 13 eggnog banana milkshakes to keep her mother sated during the pregnancy, I assumed she’d have a sweet tooth.

Her mother may insist that the child has inherited her savoury tooth as she points out that her sweet preferences disappeared the instant the baby was born, but I find the child to be quite open to things such as chocolate and ice cream when offered.  Of course, if one followed her small body about her day they would find her real love is bits of fluff off of the floor, typically found in corners or under furniture.  She’ll quite happily chew a ball of dryer lint/random fuzz for as long as she can until you chase her down.  Her resistance holds out until her mouth is forced open and is then redoubled in an effort to not only keep possession of the fluff but to bite my finger as a lesson not to try again.  She’s quite resourceful.

My dance of the frying pan is given intermittent freedom while the toddlecurl discovers that I’ve accidentally left the pantry door open.  As I check out the burning smell that turns out to be the spiced-half of the bread reacting badly to the margarine I’m frying it in (ah butter, how I long for thee) I can hear assorted bottles being shoved aside and something plastic clattering across the slate floor.  I would worry that the perceived violence of the syrup bottle’s trip across the kitchen would indicate anger from the child, but she allays this with a squeal of delight and a loudly exhorted, “DaDAH… gah GAH!  BAHBAH!”  I take this to mean that she is telling me how pleased she is of her actions towards the syrup bottle.

I respond with something dry and sarcastic, and she repeats the same sentence as if to chastise me for not taking her seriously.  I reply again with sarcasm, but feign apology as well, to which she plods the length of our 8-foot kitchen and yellingly smashes her face into my jeans.  As I finish conducting my orchestra of slathering, spicing, flipping and syruping, I realise that I would have preferred her causing mischief in the pantry for a bit longer as I would have been able to finalise breakfast preparations unhindered by the squealing naughtiness gripping both of my legs and talking to the hole above my right knee of my jeans.

Breakfast is served.  My wife, never really being much of a morning eater, dutifully trudges her way through a piece of French Toast before handing it over to me so that I can swap out the sweet half of the baby’s portion for the savoury and gauge scientifically the results.  As I stir the oatmeal banana mush that I’ve prepared as a standby in the event of total French Toast Failure, I notice that the mass of lovely curls, that had mushed peas in them only last night, now have syrup in them as well.  She appears to enjoy playing with her breakfast more than eating it.  I divide a few pieces of the savoury French Toast and leave them on her tray rather surreptitiously for fear that she’ll rebel against things that I actually want her to eat, and throw them onto the floor for pure indignance.  Some days, this one can be a real shit.

My attention turns from my own breakfast and the further stirring of the oatmeal concoction in time to see my child happily taking huge bites from a wad of bread in either fist.  With balled-up syrup-covered fists on the ends of her spread arms, she looks as if she is challenging the World to provide something tastier to her, for what she’s holding would sure be hard to beat.  She’s already eaten most of her mother’s uneaten breakfast.  Just to muck with her a bit, I throw some eggs right in the middle of her tray.  I’d fried up the leftover egg batter in the used cooking bits left in the pan, giving it a horribly grey colour that I prefer to think of as “seasoned to taste”.

As her thumbs become paintbrushes and the slightly runny and oddly coloured eggs become the paint, the canvas that is the tray of her high chair transforms into a masterpiece, complete with a collage of texture and flavour.  “Less is More” she seems to believe, as she very purposely removes some of the leftover sweet toast with her fingers and then places it under her tray on the seat by her legs.  I’m surprised to see such a deliberate act of removal when she is busy with wanton creation, but she’s always been a bit meticulous, and I will undoubtedly find at least half of her breakfast under her butt when I eventually lift her out of her chair.

With her creative juices flowing freely and her eating slowed significantly, I finally employ the use of the oatmeal mush.  I get a few spoonfuls in before she concedes that her artwork may have to wait until after mealtime and decides to eat a bit more.  As is her way though, her concessions are ever on her own terms, and she purses her lips and slaps at the spoon on it’s third trip in.  I back it out and try again, only to be met with a shaking head and flailing arms.  It’s becoming fairly evident to me that she may not be interested in my mushed backup plan.

Now I concede. She watches me put the spoon back into the small bowl before flinging her arms out across her painted tray, grabbing a handful of egg and toast, and shoving it gluttonously into her face.  Her actions of hearty independence appear to be telling me that she may not enjoy the eggs and French Toast so much as dislike the mush and/or the idea of me feeding it to her.  She almost giggles as she grabs a piece of egg-smeared crust and begins munching on it with fervour.

As I lean across the table and put my head in my hand, I realise how much fun she is.  Not just to interact with, as I have been, but also just to watch, as I am now.  So much of who she is going to be, is here already, and so much of who she is, is just wonderful.  It boggles my mind to think that I have such an impact on this small person’s life, and therefore the rest of the World.

It is then that I realise that I haven’t been thinking about the rest of the World for at least an hour and a half, a new record for this stressful week I’m fairly sure, and I am once again humbled by the power that my child has over me.

Go away for a while World, I’m feeding my child.

My office.

Originally written sometime in December or early January, while simply sitting at my desk in my office.


The skychair and hammock swing quietly in the breeze outside my office window. There’s something about the abundance of greenery as a backdrop that makes them look like lazy day companions instead of lonely objects awaiting a friendly bottom to swing on them. It could also be the dangle of cheap Christmas lights that I’ve strung haphazardly around the patio roof. The fact that they are still on during midmorning tells me, once again, that I should’ve probably spent the extra $3 on a timer from the hardware store.

While this room is smallish and a nice greyish-blue it’s obvious that a teen-turned-adult, who was unafraid of the possible marring of plaster and paint by his daily lifestyle, was the previous inhabitant. The various attempts at covering up or even repairing any of the blemishes are few, and border so closely on pathetic as to be almost insulting. That is, until I remember what I was like in my younger years and my feelings towards the smears of filler putty instantly become somewhat sentimental. I’m comfortable in here.

The crappy-looking and dirty foldable white table, left over in the shed because of its looks most likely, has been cleaned up a little and is holding my sewing machine and assorted bits. A small television sits on an old Ikea drawer setup from an old life of my brother-in-law’s, when he was into purchasing spendy items in the hopes that $65 underwear would land him the perfect guy. The wardrobe would probably overpower the room with it’s immensity were not for it’s complimentary colours and cluttered floor. My armour stands stoically next to the sewing table, a mishmash of different style wear has been hung off the dressmaker’s mannequin with the idea that these items are either the least likely to fall off or in the most need of airing. They’ve turned the 1950’s-esque womanly shape into a powerful and sharp looking Dark Ages Romano-Celtic Norman peasant who’s rapidly ascended into royalty. Thoughts like that and the humour that I find in them that remind me why I’m in such a nerd-filled club.

My desk is small and blue, and I’ve got the top filled with toys. Any desk that I’ve had over the years has been this way and I’ve always had a deep need to treat myself to the toys that I missed out on as a kid. It’s only when I have a child, or the baby, on my lap that I am truly reminded that these are in fact, toys, and may not have been designed with someone like me predominantly in mind.

The wonder and intricacies of transforming from a muscle car to a robot are lost on the small impish one, who sees only what colours and textures would be best in her mouth. She tells me about them though, each and every one, with her little squeaky voice and a pointed index finger. A very serious look comes across her face when relating new knowledge of something interesting-looking.

“Doo!” she’ll say with something dangerously close to a scowl. The scowl then lifts as she meets my eyes and her face breaks slightly with a small smile, she seems to take enjoyment not from the gaining of this knowledge but of the sharing it with me. “Gah!” gets emphatically shoved into my face. We’re here together and it is a good thing.

As my eyes cast about the room in an effort to somehow capture more than just my idiosyncrasies, I see a cricket set, half-finished leather re-enactor projects, giant William Wallace claymore sword, and a 5-year olds Snow White dress in need of zipper repair. It becomes readily apparent to me that this kind of random and somewhat eclectic thing is all that’s really allowed in this room.

That’s probably why it’s mine.

My Hat.

The following was written last May and then apparently forgotten about. I still wear my hat, not so much in the Summer heat, but when I’m feeling like I need reminded of why I’m doing what I’m doing.

If bills are piling up and I’ve got sick kids home from school and I’m wondering for the fifth time that day when I’m finally going to get a chance to sit down and write instead of working until I collapse into bed.

Well, that’s when I put on my hat, and the world changes.


I’ve got this hat. To be honest, it’s the hat I’ve always wanted. When watching the old Rawhide reruns on Nickleodeon on my Dad’s then-girlfriend-now-wife’s floor as a youngster and seeing Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates and then in later years in his Spaghetti Westerns, he was wearing pretty much this kind of hat. Similar to Kleenex and Band-Aid becoming common names instead of brand names, this style is known as Akubra here in Oz.

I bought a knock-off version of an Akubra because of its coolness and foldability quite a while ago and sent it to Steamboat for my friend Willis’s wedding/Christmas/too-late-for-any-occasion-so-here, and was slightly jealous. I knew he’d love it, because I loved it, but it was hard to let it go.Now, I’ve finally got my hat.

It was probably only a day or so after I’d quit working full time, and we were staring very honestly at a decent sized money drought when Wife urged me to say “hell with it” and make the purchase. We were just killing time before picking up the kids after they’re visitations with The Others, and wandering through the touristy shops on the boat harbour, when I saw it.

It called out to me so strongly that I almost ran to it for fear that someone else would step in moments before I got there and decide that they were going to have an impulse buy instead of me. Like some slow-motion movie moment where you can see the humour in the situation but still secretly want to hug the hero, I lunged almost frantically towards it.

Satisfied that I was the first to the hat, I pulled it off the rack and checked the size. Yep, my size. Then I put it on. It fit, and I fell in love. Wife’s jaw dropped and she could only muster some gasps and grunts as she pulled me in front of the mirror. I thought I looked quite alright, and said so out loud, while my wife continued to look at me as if she were about to romance-novel me right there in the store.

So I bought it, and though they probably charged me twice what they should have, I would have paid twice what they asked.

In the weeks following the quitting of my job and my removal from the Rat Race, the hat became a symbol. It was more significant to my life than just having something cool that I always wanted, it was a symbol of my dreams. Wearing it meant that I was doing my own thing and was bound no longer, either monetarily, emotionally, or even physically, to the Man.

I was Free.

I have naturally curly hair and it’s getting quite long. The hat hides its bird’s nestiness in the mornings when I take the kids to school. Even though it flattens out my hair down into my eyes when worn straight after a shower, none of this matters to me. I am my own man in my own favourite hat, and I will give no more of my self and my life for someone else’s capitalistic gains again.

I’m on my own and loving it, and if I go down, at least I’ll go down with my hat on.


I enjoy reading the local paper if for no other reason than the Real Estate section. Much the same as the toy catalogues of my youth, I flip through and look at the things that I can’t currently possibly afford right along with the things that I’ll never be able to possibly afford, and quite honestly don’t want to. I pretend that I’m doing it because I’m all grown up now and have some working knowledge of the housing market and the likelihood and amount of a bank loan and subsequent mortgage.

Not that I don’t know about these things, but really I’m just dreaming. I used to not want to look at the nice houses, as their price tags only hurt my feelings, and I will ever seek to shield myself from things that hurt my feelings. Again, just like those toy catalogues, I was afraid to look at the big ticket items and dream of owning them.

When enough of the things in your life don’t turn out the way that you figure they should, you become afraid to actually wish for something, because there doesn’t seem to be any way that shit will fly. You learn to take the good things and be thankful for them without inviting further pain, because life will throw enough heartache in your direction without you out there actively seeking it.

Naturally, now that I’m all grown up and all, I don’t prescribe to this theory anymore because adults know better, don’t they?

It took an easing up from the shit of life for a bit for me to actually start applying my dreams to my life. The Real Estate section was my first step. I peruse, I grade and I judge, I price and compare and I consider many of them a viable investment while still others have the potential to be the “end game” house.

My sister-in-law does the same. She and her husband are ever in search of their “end game” house, and while they did indeed coin the phrase and share many of our identical desires and criteria, they are also far, far more capable of purchasing such a thing. It’s actually within their grasp. Regardless of financial capability, it feels nice to discuss features and prices and, for my part at least, pretend and even dream.

Someday, maybe not someday soon, but someday at least, we won’t have to pretend anymore.


While we were driving up the Brookton Valley to Araluen for Anzac Day, I was noticing the “For Sale” signs and thinking that my sister-in-law probably was too. After enjoying a fabulous day, playing cricket with the kids, eating hot chicken sandwiches, and absorbing the intrinsic beauty that nature and her gardens offer, we drove back down the valley and I thought about what it would mean to live there and have all of that in my own back yard.

There’s a property up there that’s about 12 acres, complete with paddocks and a 3+1 house, and I’m thinking that though the house must be complete shit, thereby making the low price make sense, it probably couldn’t be bad enough for me to NOT want that kind of spread with living accommodations on it. This is where the market isn’t though, as folks don’t want anything that isn’t posh if they’re going to live in the country. No one seems willing to leave their sweet city digs if they can’t be sittin’ just as sweet in the country.

I was born in the country and it’s where I’m meant to be, I care far less about the state of my house as I do with the state of my Nature. I want trees, lots of them, and at least a horse or two, all the dogs I can fit and the wife wants a yard full of chickens.

I want to drive a truck, even a beater, down a dirt lane and up to my house and shop, where I can chop, weld, sand, sculpt, and build to my heart’s content. I want to saddle up my trusty steed and take a wander down to the spring, where we’ll both have a drink and sit and listen to the lack aircraft overhead.

I want to stand in front of my grill, wielding my cooking instruments like a medieval swordsman, drinking a beer and conversing with my wife and kids situated around our oversized kitchen just inside the door. I want those kids to be able to disappear for hours, unhindered by time and fences, and learn as much as they can about the best parts of this world we live in.

I want our favourite evening program to be the sunset and I want Acts of Creation to be just as important as anything else Societally Utilitarian, like grades.

I want to write, paint, sing, and play every day, and I never want to worry about how I’m going to pay the bills again.

I want to look out over my domain and smile with satisfaction.

Someday… I will.

And I’ll be wearing my hat.

A place to write.

There comes a time in every writer’s life that they realise they need to be writing, most times just for the sake of it. It doesn’t have to be anything remotely resembling profound either, it just needs to be written. It feels like it has to come out. While this may be true at the time, it is also a common event to revisit something that was written during these moments and find that it is absolute shit.

Doesn’t matter. It just needed out. I’ve read great words and thoughts from great writers, and I’ve seen and heard interviews where they’ve imparted small bits of wisdom, passed on some of their techniques and advice on how to use what can be considered talent. The best and most consistent advice that I’ve ever heard was the simplest as well.

Write. Just write.

I get that a lot, that urge to write. While it’s usually an urge to actually create something, writing satisfies it in a way that few other things can. Drawings have a way of never feeling completed and tend to take too long for my taste. Building or making something is nice, but strangely dissatisfactory when I’ve finished, and cleaning is, well, cleaning. A productive use of my time that does nothing for my soul.

The day I realised that I was a writer was when I felt that I’d done something to make my soul feel better. It’s cathartic, to say the least.

Something that a writer needs, other than the urge to write, is somewhere to write. A place that they can not only sit and let their thoughts create a story, or at least a pattern, but somewhere to put it when they’re done.

I haven’t had a place like that for a while. Sure I’ve got my little corner of the house, a hidey-hole where I can sort of shut out the World. Saving stuff down as Word documents in a folder called “writing” isn’t working for me anymore. There are lots of things that aren’t working for me anymore.

I’ve built this blog into something that I suppose I had intended it to be originally, yet no longer have a use for. It was fun to write things that made me laugh, that made me feel, that made me think that others out there should share in this. The feedback I received was overwhelming to the point of life-changing.

I’d gone out looking for something, I suppose, and I found it in spades. Suddenly my sense of purpose with this… writing place, was less clear. It’s an understatement to say that I’d lost my focus, and this finally made sense when I applied some hindsight and saw what it was that I was doing with my writing, with my blogging. I’d found what I was looking for and, once I found it, didn’t know what to do after that.

I’ve purposely kept my real life quite separate from this blog, and have had to find ways to help build my ever-expanding online presence without using this site and it’s juice, so to speak. There’s only so much that you can hide though, from the online world, and only so much that paranoia can protect you from. There comes a time that you realise that they’re not actually all coming to get you, and you don’t really have to worry about how much they know about you.

Like my old man used to sometimes say, “If you’ve been good, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.” Don’t know if I’ve necessarily been good, but for whatever I have been I make no real apologies, for whoever it is that I am today has been built upon that, and I reckon I’m pretty pleased with who I am today.

So, as the finely sliced division between my original online persona and my actual online self starts to fade away, I realise that I’m going to let it. I’m not going to purposely bring the two crashing together, or even push the issue, I’m just not going to be as fervent at keeping them separate and distinct. Part of that means putting some parts of me out there that I normally wouldn’t share with this audience that I’ve built over the years.

Part of that means accepting that people are, just like me, multi-faceted, and don’t necessarily have to have things the same as they’ve always been just because they’ve always been that way.

My name is Judd, and I’m a writer. I’m 33 and married to an amazing woman that read this site one day and started an unbelievable string of events. She had two kids before meeting me, they’re mine now, though the law and some crappy people disagree. We’ve made a kid of our own, and her level of awesomeness is higher at 12 months than most people ever get to in their whole lives.

About a year ago, I quit my job. I quit my job for no real reason other than I was sick of working for someone else. I was tired of putting up with great quantities of shit just so somebody else could benefit from my energy and efforts. I started my own business doing web consulting and web marketing and am writing as much as I can in my spare time under the misguided notion that I’ll someday have enough material for a book that more than 12 people will want not only want to read but pay to do so.

I’ve been needing a place to put the stuff that I’ve been writing, meant for a book or not, and I’m going to put it here.

I hope you like it.


The scene is set with two Celtic warriors facing each other, either of warring clans or over a serious dispute involving land and honour. It must be serious, this is a fight to the death.

The plume of hair rides down from the top of his helmet into his face as his eyes squint and his mouth carves out a sneer. He yells at me something barely intelligible that I take to mean he intends to kill me this day, and I acknowledge the receipt of this message by yelling something even more unintelligible back at him about how I have no intention of dying.

He raises his shield and his sword and I raise mine. He waits for a half-beat and I let loose with a scream that is matched in intensity only by the blow from my sword. It clangs heavily off of his shield. As I follow-up with two more heavy shots, I don’t realise I am still screaming until I stop.

He was been waiting, biding his time and measuring what I’ve got to bring against him. His patience has paid off as I am panting with an effort that has nothing to show for it. He brings a wide swing into my side and my shield crunches uncomfortably into my shoulder and hip. He follows this with a growing roar and a slash at my unguarded leg, the parrying of which throws me off balance. The advantage is his at this point, and he knows this. A glint of metal above me warns that a slash is on a dead path for my head.

By the time my shield is up in defence, I realise that this was a mistake, as the weight of his swing throws me further off-balance, and his following shot cleanly slices across my hip. The impact produces enough of a grunt to make my cry of pain a mix of anger and surprise, and my shield thuds into the muddy ground nearer to him than myself.

I stagger backwards and attempt to regain my balance. I am panting heavily now, and I can feel twin drops of sweat gathered on the brow of each of my eyes. The sweat is already streaming off of my nose and trickling down to my upper lip. I spit, fiercely and in anger, and the spray hovers for a second before alighting gently to the ground.

He’s readying himself to press the attack, and I throw myself at him, furiously screaming and swinging wildly. I realise that he is waiting again, for me to tire myself out, for me to reveal another weak spot, for the right opportunity to kill me. I swing again, a half-hearted attempt at his head which he easily parries away with his shield as he raises his sword high above his head.

My trick has worked, and the feigned weakness that I put into my slash lures him into a high and heavy killing blow while I have positioned myself closer to him. My newly free left arm backhands his sword arm, knocking it off it’s intended path, and I grip the back of his neck as one might if they were telling someone something very secret and very important. The surprise registers on his face a split second before I slam my head into his. Though his helmet absorbs the brunt of it, he is stunned enough to stagger backwards and drop his shield. We are now back on a relative par.

The sneer that was previously etched into his jaw has faded into the realisation that he may have underestimated his opponent. My confidence swells and I lunge at him again, swinging down across his body and forcing him onto his back foot. I press the advantage and thrust at his ribs, forgetting momentarily that he isn’t wounded like I am, and his health gives him the agility to gracefully parry my shot away. One small step forward and he has once again neatly and cleanly sliced across my torso just below my ribs.

I back away, reeling and grunting, gasping and panting, knowing that this is going to be over soon, one way or another. Because of the decreasing length of this moment in this battle, I stay in relatively close with him, circling warily and heavily wounded. There is little hope that he will underestimate me again. Wounded and tired, I am going to have to outfight him.

I swing at him in a wide arc, testing his defences, and he parries easily. He’s waiting again. He’s smart. I throw another testing shot, and he proves how smart he is by slapping away my sword and then immediately raising his for another high and heavy killing shot. I am somewhat off-balance, not ready, and he knows this. I’ve been caught pressing too much again and he knows this as well.

I have only enough time to grab the end of my sword with my left hand and raise it feebly above my head before his blow drives the flat of my sword into my head, and me to my knees.

I don’t know whether it is embarrassment or shame which drives my next action. It is most likely a combination of those and a primal survival instinct, an inner control that only exerts itself on our actions when our life is very nearly being taken. I’m on my knees, exhausted and badly wounded, and it is this instinct that tells my arms to swing my sword to my right, parrying his sword and using his momentum to direct it towards the ground.

I rise, almost into him, and in one fluid motion I swipe my sword heavily across his body, slicing into his open side, my sword finishing high in the air almost in victory. Before I can even begin to envision that his entrails are now trailing off of my weapon, he is growling at me and gathering his strength back.

Only now is he just as wounded as I.

The length of our swords isn’t such that we can duel with both hands as effectively, this is going to continue to be up close. Knowing this, I move into him, growling and tensing my body, balling my shoulders up and winding back for a heavy swing. My sword arcs across his body and clangs heavily off his parry, knocking him back a bit off-balance. I lean in again and come back across his body. I’ve got him reeling. I press the advantage and plant my right foot in close, preparing for the kill.

Another trap. I’ve come from low to high, in an effort to get under his defences and finish him, but he’s outsmarted me. His wound hasn’t affected his agility as much as I had estimated, and this realisation is as much of a shock as the helplessness I feel when he bats my sword away from the inside, exposing my body. A heavy slash across my chest causes my arms to reflexively recoil into my body and my instinct to flee hits as I try to turn my body. Another swipe across my upper thigh and I am on the ground.

Everything slows down, and as I am acutely aware of my vulnerability I am also aware that he is circling me. As I prepare to marshal my strength in a final effort to rise and fight, I turn my head to see where he is. I’ve barely got time to raise my hand as his boot slaps painfully into the side of my head.

My next conscious thought is bewilderment at how I came to rest on my back. The overwhelming feeling of wrongness sweeps over me as I realise the difference between the energy and action of a fight and laying helplessly and bleeding in the dirt. This is not right, and I shouldn’t be here.

Though I know this, there is little I can do about it. A primal and guttural growl lifts out of my throat as I force into action the ultimate focus of my energies, my sword.

I am not here though, not properly, and reality asserts itself by once again showing me that, although the world has slowed down for me, it hasn’t for everyone. His boot lands firmly across my wrist, and it’s message to my body is final. I am not to move.

The matter-of-fact look in his eye tells me that he has to do this. I glare at him, and when his eyes meet mine, he glares back.

I fight him. I defy him. I struggle against him.

He shoves his sword into my chest. My head tips back and my chin raises high as I cry out, voicing this injustice unto the world. Then I fall silent.

I am dead.

“You can get up now” he says dryly and with a smirk as he walks across the grass to pick up our shields, “that was pretty good.”Praise from my reserved and sarcastic brother-in-law is as rare as my graceful acceptance of it. Usually, I either stay quiet or try to insult him. This time, I stay quiet, and I listen as he tells me that I’m ready, and that I’ve got the elusive ‘it’ and that most people either don’t quite have ‘it’, or it takes them ages to learn ‘it’.

I am a warrior.

I am a showfighter.

And I am ready.


The air is slightly humid, it must have been quite foggy in the earlier morning hours. The sunlight glides through the trees and lands in swatches on the grass surrounding me and gives a dull glow to the rivets across the top of my helmet. It’s copper finish shines with an understated polish, standing out and pleasing the eye but not inviting as a focal point. It has strength with subtlety.

The leather across the cuff of my arm braces digs into my wrist as I tighten down the smaller straps and each arm gives a faint and straining creak as I adjust them on my forearm. The helmet’s somewhat clunky metal flaps fall awkwardly on my hands as I lift it to my head, and the familiar slightly musty smell of stale sweat and physical activity hits my nose a split second before I plunk it on top of my head.

As I cinch down the strap under my chin, I can feel a change come over me, as if my entire perspective on the World has changed in a heartbeat. It is honest and straightforward with no pretence or false fronts, its single purpose to protect me implicitly. This is serious now.

The soft leather of my left glove envelops my hand and forearm like a lover. Protective and comforting, its soft suppleness belies its tough exterior. The sharp contrast between my gloves is never more apparent to me than when I first heft my right glove. With it’s multi-layered riveted leather, it is a turtle shell to its left hand counterpart’s bathrobe. It slides on easier than it would seem that it should, and I flex the fingers instinctively to re-familiarise myself with its feel, with the comfort that it affords while being so protective.

I’m suited up and ready yet in a sense, still bare. I walk a few feet over and in one fluid motion grab both my sword and my shield, the weight of which still surprises me when I first heft it. As I walk toward the field instinct takes over, and I can feel the sword moving through the air in patterns and twirls on it’s own. My shoulders show no sign of the weariness and soreness this very sword and shield produced a week before.

My movements are natural and real to me and I am already warmed-up. No further preparation is necessary.

I am ready to fight.

The melee training has taught me little today other than to stick to my comrade’s side and protect them without expecting any actual protection from them. I have been “killed” by blind shots to my head and ribs repeatedly and I am embittered by not having had the opportunity to face down my actual opponent.I separate from the group and Chef approaches. He’s by far the most aggressive and fluid trainer out there. We square off and I know I’m in for it when I’m “dead” 3 times right in a row without landing a single shot. His wildly intense eyes soften and his stern grimace widens into a smile as he gives me some instruction. He ends with “Calm mind, clear action” and I struggle to keep those words winding through my head as he relentlessly attacks and attacks.Soon, I find a rhythm and a way of breaking his. I time my strikes to a jarring effect into the ease and flow of his swipes and parries. It throws him off enough that I can affect some manner of attack and soon, I am able to “kill” him.“GOOD” he bellows almost proudly, and my own insecurity whispers into my ear that he probably let me have that one. I go for another and he is freshly wounded.

As if he can actually hear the demons in my head, his half-smile peeks from behind a flurry of swings as he says, “I’m not holding back you know.”

By the time I have absorbed what he has said, I have absorbed the slash to the side of my head as well. I am dead.

We share a smile of respect and get back to it.

So. Writing. And Work.

I actually wrote this in an email to a friend, but then figured I’d not only like more concrete documentation of this line of thinking than an item in my “Sent” folder, but that I’d like to share it with more than just one person.

I’ve been doing lots of thinking about this kind of shit in the last few weeks/months. I’ve even written about it before, but probably in one of the other blogs and not JH, and it’s getting to be something of an issue in Life.

See, the thing is, unlike a great many, I actually Know where my passions lie. And, also unlike a great many, I’m starting to learn that I may actually have a talent for them. Much like you, El Puerco, and my amazing and wonderful wife, I’m pretty good at this writing thing. And I wanna do it, like all the time ?n stuff.

Then there’s work. I am in the Fucking IT field, and Yes I capitalise it because it means that to me, where I am good at what I do and can be quite successful if I choose to be. I’ve seen how it happens and I know what to do to make it a reality.

At the end of the day, what will I have?

More money, sure, but kids that have grown without me knowing and a wife who knows that I love her? on the weekends. Needless to say, Not for me. And I mean, No Fucking Way In Hell for me, thanks.

I drive to work, fighting retarded commuter traffic, and work 9 to 5 like the rest of the slobbering shitwipes in the Rat Race, and then I go home, where Life really is. I have about 2 hours with my kids, playing on the floor and watching the Simpsons, but they gotta eat and it takes them for fucking ever sometimes, so it’s really about an hour or so. Then, it’s another 2 or so hours with Wife and then bed. Then, get up in the morning, get the boy’s lunch and their brekky ready and then do it all over again.

Is it worth it? Welp, gotta pay bills and eat. There you go.

Thing is, you don’t see a lot of time for writing in there do you? Nup.

I’m fine with that, for now, because I wouldn’t trade my time with my family for anything in the World, and I gotta be at work at least 8 hours in order to make enough money to eat and have a house and shoes n’ shit. There’s no time to write, but my time is buying some important things. Again? for now.

I’m not sure what you’ve got for a social life, but if you’ve got the time, then WRITE. Do it. Write as much as you can and as often as you can. I’m not one for dropping names (?cept Russell Crowe and that’s only because I like to say that I heard his cock stinks) but I actually used to correspond with Augusten Burroughs, who wrote some of my favourite books and is a #1 bestselling author and I think is even making a movie or something. He’s special and famous and shit, and gave ME writing advice, cos I really AM that cool (someday I’ll write about that time I met the Brit Asshole from American Idol and thought he was somebody I knew from hockey. Heh. Classic).

His advice though, was basically just what I told you: Write. Alla time. Always.

You’ll get better at it the more you do it as well as be busy building a repertoire, a repository, a bunch of cool shit that you can someday do something with. You’ll be able to have enough examples of random shit that anyone possibly interested could even think of.

Somebody at a newspaper says, “Can yeh write up somebody’s obit?” and you say casually, “Actually, just to be morbid and because I was pissed at him for that crack about my grades in High School… here’s my father’s. Oh, he’s not really dead either, so you can ask him how good that one is. Ignore the paragraph about the cause of death being a flame-engulfed kayak paddle to the rectum and you’ll find it’s actually pretty accurate.”

I’ve even got me a blog where I write nothing but the shit from my brain. And by “shit” I mean “excrement” coz that’s what it is. Shit. But it needs out and it feels cool to get it out and be partially entertained by it. Nobody reads that one, ‘cept Wife, and that’s how I like it.

See? Even writing Shit is still good for writing skilz. Fuck, do like the Smartypants chick and just stick it all in a book. Hell, call blog entries chapters and you would barely need to edit.

So that’s my advice. Same as Augusten’s and he’s brilliant and if I met him in person I’d kiss him full on the lips and I don’t care that he loves smokin’ him some pole. No tongue tho cos I’m married.

I honestly don’t know how long for the corporate world in the Information Age I am. I mean, all up, I still just make fucking websites, it’s not like I’m curing Cancer or curing anything cool with the word “genital” in it. Ask Wife, I still lay in bed some nights and piss and moan about this career, vowing to chuck it all in and not care if the 4 (soon to be 5) of us huddle under a goddam scrap of cardboard as long as we’re happy, and all that.

Life’s too short to wait too long for the really, Really, good shit. If you’re anything like me, then writing is your Really Good Shit, or at least can provide for it, and you need to Get On It.

Fuck, I’ve sat here through my lunch break writing this and now I’m all ready to just jump up, tip my desk over, throw my monitor out the window and onto the odd Korean who sells me Sausage Rolls, and fucking go home and write a book that will feed me and my family for the next 37 years.

When I haven’t, and it’s 5:30, and I’ve finished yet another fucking website, and I’m headed home, and I’m tuning in the traffic report to see whether or not to avoid the Graham Farmer Freeway, please don’t ask me why I didn’t. Don’t or I’ll fart on you. And lately they’ve been a weird combination of sweet cigar and rotten cabbage, with a hint of nutmeg. It isn’t worth it.

I’ll get to it soon. Serious. Just not sure when, but it’ll happen. Ask Wife, I get that look in my eye, and she knows it’ll happen.

Shatsicles, I gotta get back to it.

Take care o’ you.

Welcome to Australia Mate.

As I was driving back from Hungry Jack’s (“Burger King” Aussie-ized) the other night, the full enormity of what I’d done really hit me, and I almost yelled at the old woman walking her dog, “Holy Shit! I live in a WHOLE other country! You believe this?!?”

I didn’t voice that thought, but that didn’t stop her from staring at me in wonderment anyway, and I realized that I may not have such a firm grasp of this whole driving-on-the-other-side-of-the-road business. That, or I’m nowhere near Australian Idol worthy with my rendition of “Bob the Builder” despite my intense passion and overwhelming volume.

For as much as it barely phases me that I’m now constantly called “Daddy” and wander the aisles of the liquor store singing, “BOB THE BUILDER, Can he fix it? Yes! He! Can!” it also takes a minute for me to grasp that things are soooooo different here.

I’d love to think that I would ever have the time to catalog and dissect every little amusing difference between the American and Australian cultures, (heh… “fanny”… ha ha… is NOT your “butt”) but it seems every time I’m stationary two little yard apes decide to clamber prehensile-ly across the walking playground that is Me. That or *cough* newlyweddy stuff. For our families sake I won’t elaborate. I stay busy with my new family, ’nuff said.

If I had to sum up the entire culture comparison, from the American’s point-of-view, in one word, I’d say, “informal.” Almost every freakin’ experience I’ve had in this country has been that… informal.

Stuck in traffic and can’t make it to the busyass doctor’s clinicky place on time for your appointment? No Worries Mate, call and they’ll wait for you.

Don’t have all the right forms together for Unemployment Compensation? No Wuckin Forries Mate, we’ll sort you out and give you some cash anyway.

Couple o’ crazies screaming vulgarities at each other through a crowded sidewalk café? Bah, they’ll sort themselves out via more alcohol or edged weapons.

No Worries.

They really don’t sweat much at all here, and it’s Awesome.

If I were given a single sentence to sum up the same cultural comparison, not allowing for my psychotic, it-puts-the-lotion-on-its-skin obsession with the use of the comma, nor for my complete, utter, and obnoxious disrespect of hyphens by creating one word out of twenty three, I’d have to say, “Australians trust you not to be stupid here and, if you are, they trust you to be tits up within 24 hours.”

The decided lack of warning labels on food, on store signage, and especially in the Perth Aquarium, give me a very confident sense that people here really don’t necessarily need to be told that they shouldn’t dump scalding hot coffee directly onto their privates, should watch their step when actually approaching a step, and not to put their hands into the sting-you-so-bad-your-momma-cries-for-a-week jellyfish tank.

Sharks will attack you, snakes will bite you, bluies will sting you, and spiders will spryly jump on your dick during a leisurely evening piss…

All can, and will, kill you very quickly, so just don’t be stupid.

I may be very obviously glorifying this strange land for my own sake, but Accountability for Your Own Actions is a concept I’m absolutely in love with.

Flash back to my trip to the renamed-because-Aussies-apparently-hate-anything-royal-sounding Hungry Jack’s and I realized that I’d driven for about 20 blocks, taken at least 4 turns, crossed two major intersections and had come across only a single “Stop” sign. Just one.

Not only that, but there weren’t any “Yield” signs either (though they say “Give Way” here… no kidding, “GIVE it sucker, DO IT”).

Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant.

See? Here they trust you to actually LOOK when approaching an intersection and NOT blast out in front of large, metal, traveling-at-high-speeds contraptions creating twisted balls of flaming wreckage oozing human paste.

The only exception to this dearth of warning labels is packages of cigarettes which extremely explicitly enlighten at the top, in quarter-inch bold lettering no less, “SMOKING KILLS” and “YOUR SMOKING CAN HARM OTHERS,” and that’s just funny.

I believe this lack of signs is a sign.

It says, “You’re Home.”

I’d written the above before receiving notification that my visa has been approved! So all the brown-nosing I did above, even if I didn’t post it publicly yet, still paid off. When Jo and I are back in the States for X-mas, I’ll send my passport off to D.C. and they’ll stamp it, “Now an Aussie… sort of.”

It’s all set and we’re so excited that we tend to squeal like our little girl on Red Bull and constantly remind each other of the news, “Hey honey, guess what? MY VISA GOT APPROVED!” She nods, then replies, “That’s awesome baby, and know what else? YOUR VISA GOT APPROVED!”

Shoosh, we’re cute.