Thursday, November 30, 2017

That's a major red flag

With thanks to SNL.

For the first time in seeming forever I put in for a job that I'd be keen to do. Only it was after I sent it that I realised I had misspelled the name of the point of contact. Not just their first name but their surname too. The latter was because of a broken embedded email address where that address had forgotten a letter in the contact name. The former was me spelling the name incorrectly because I'd used a common variant for that name but that was the wrong one.

The letter in both cases was the letter H. 

I had to grit teeth and send an apology. 

Getting the name right is the first thing they teach you and I failed. 

But, what's done is done. If I get punted on first contact because of adding an H to the first name and subtracting it for the second then that's the price I pay for that fail.

It was brutal doing the job application. I put way too much detail in and I had to discuss work I did that later resulted in a severe nervous breakdown. It was about three hours all up of writing about me then editing then trying to send it to a broken email address, working out why it was broken then sending to the correct address but forgetting to make the same correction in the surname of the intro—which had been based on the surname in the faulty embedded email. 

What a fail. 

If I get to interview then they let that pass and I thank them. But it's the first thing I'll say when I go into the room because I will feel the need to apologise again at the start of a meeting where I am supposed to present my best face forward.

Owning a mistake is part of the process and I owned it sending an immediate apology with a correction applied. I learned that in the workplace early; if you fuck up then tell someone who needs to know and offer a correction where possible. It is the only practical solution to a fuck up because anything less is making the mistake worse.

That's why the cover up is worse than the lie. Because you know you made a mistake but to deny it or conceal it through inaction is to have it burr at you and make you worse at your job. 

There were times in my past career that I made career-ending mistakes. Except each time I made the mistake I copped to it and offered a solution to fix it. I also learned from those mistakes and did my best not to repeat them. And because I was dobbing myself in then I got a pass on the possible worst outcome for a fail that bad.

But to get a first name then a second name wrong on a "please hire me" letter is an instant kill and if it is so then it is deserved—and it's another reminder of the need to do the basics of the craft and check before you send that you got the fucking name/s right. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What it is to be a person

I've been reflecting of late on my childhood and the manly aspects of it where I was sent to a place that triumphed its ability to turn boys into men. Fortunately that institution is now co-ed but I expect it still suffers from its own idea of what a man should be and what they should not.

Should have: body that works, be average height or better with an athletic build.

Should be taught: boys who are not that are scum and not manly. 

Now imagine the first is X and they are taught that Y is bad. Then imagine being that Y in an institution built for X.

Their idea was warped at the beginning; that there are characteristics of being a man that exist because of your genitals which include the ability to throw, run, bully and a paternalistic notion of manners towards ladies that implied they were less capable just because they had tits and no cock.

In fact it was a crock---the whole mess of it and their idea of manliness. They should have taught what it means to be a person not a man. That you treat others with respect and you don't sneer down on people or hang shit on those whose bodies are not like yours.

To be a Y in a place that worshiped X did a number on my head. And it took until 40 to realise that X was not important; that it's how you treat people irrespective of what they are, what shape they have and the gender and sexual identity they possess.

I was taught X was good and Y was bad and as a Y I was held up to the X as an example of not to be a Y.

Private all boys schools are warped environments that teach crippling ideas. Specifically that if you packed a penis then it was your fault if you were not an X and as such you were fit for abuse.

I didn't choose my body; my mother did. Then the both of them hung shit on me for being a Y and then sent me to a place where Y was held up as a metric for X so they didn't become the dreaded Y.

What a fucked up bunch of fuckheads and their school for creating the next generation of fuckheads who think being a man means X when they forget that first and foremost they are a person and that means you treat people as a person---even if they are a Y and or have genitals not the same as yours. 

If you send your child to such a place then know this; they are being damaged even if they are an X because they are taught to be cruel and that this cruelty is deserved.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Under brain floods; clings to buoy

I missed a call from theboy asking for me to get him with the trike; he was walking home. I didn't realise because I didn't have my phone on me and the last news was he'd be at an after school thing until pick up. I found out when he walked through the gate.

He was fine with it; my not getting his text and call and walked home all the same. I said sorry, that I didn't have my phone, that I would have come and got him the moment he asked if I had realised because I never wanted him to feel abandoned.

Then my under brain flooded and I had to excuse myself because fight flight kicked in, extreme distress washed over and I ended up clinging to the stand up boxing bag as if it was younger me telling him I was here and we were okay. My legs got rubbery so I held tighter like the bag was a buoy as the tears flowed as screaming into my mind were all the times my parents had abandoned me or threatened to do so.

It wasn't often but they were searing moments of childhood pain; a dagger to the heart of feeling safe, valued and loved which I never gained again until I had a family of my own.

Life is full of horror and my childhood was blessed with prosperity even as my head was in a prison of malformed flesh that drew rebuke and ridicule from parents and peers alike. 

You can have all your physical needs met yet still feel like a sick, useless fuck that should have done the world a favour and actually drowned all those times they thought I had. That's especially enhanced when you're sent into an environment where you are destined to fail then be held up as a failure by the rest when that certain failure occurs.

My child is fine; he was okay with my missing that call. But there were times when I walked home instead of taking the bus to avoid being exposed to chronic bullying from the Catholic high school kids who got the backseat because they got picked up first. But often I'd tire and go to the house of a family from our church and phoned home to ask to be picked up. My mother would come, eventually, but pissed at me for forcing her to something she didn't want to do. So I got to enjoy the passive or active hostility that came with having asked them for help when she picked me up.

That stayed with me for life; that expectation that my parents would be pissed off at me if I asked for help. They made me feel shit about money, assistance with moving furniture to student housing and even use of computer discs—I once took one from the presumed-for-family use box of discs only to have my mother shriek I was a thief and emasculate me in front of my friend. Before every term exams they threatened to no longer fund uni if I failed a single course even though they could have signed the paperwork for financial emancipation where I could have then got the exact same amount of money from Austudy—the then scheme that funded students—but without the threat of withholding it or destroying my future on whim if I dared fail a single course. How's that for fucking motivation?

The chemistry has passed, torment has eased. Writing this helped—it always does. But I hope to get to a point soon where I don't relive a horror memory that is tangentially related to what my son experiences then suffer an acute chemical reaction where I cry and have to cling to something lest I fall down with grief.

Fucking cricket

Cricket, along with golf, is one of the more elite time wasting ways of displaying manly (slash) athletic prowess on the planet. At least the eco-damage footprint of an oval is less than a golf course but on the latter you can drive between holes (and over them if you are Donald Trump).

Cricket was forced on me by sheer dint of being an Anglo male in an English-Australian household of the '80s. With two posh poms as parents there was no escaping the chronic malaise that is cricket.

There were two TV channels then, and in Summer that meant one of the was tuned to just cricket which, like German operas, goes for days. My audio childhood soundtrack is of the distant murder of commentators, and cricket commentary is of the more boring style with long stretches devoted to the issue of seagulls on the pitch, with a sudden burst of excitement that someone rolled a four or a six or they were out.

I hated it and still do. I was forced to play the game as an inmate of an all boys private school (though as a day boy, not a boarder) even after being withdrawn from sport and PE because of my under cooked skeleton. I was in a grade of skill so bad we had to travel 200 kays to find an equally opposing awful team to play. My school had four grades of sporting prowess and I was a D. I once bowled someone out after my feeble bowl landed mid-pitch and rolled along the ground towards the wickets and was about to be ruled a no ball on account of its shitness but the batter took a joke swing at it, missed, and the ball gently rolled into the base of the wickets so he was out.

I fucking hate cricket.

My stupid body was not great for running, catching or throwing things because it was deformed in utero. Yet I was still forced to participate in this ritual of boys to men, until, that is, I went to counselling on Saturdays instead of cricket where instead of failing to throw a ball I had my balls fondled by the cousellor.

Fucking cricket.

I remember the first time I was struck by a ball in the game my body was not able to play properly. I was in slips  about two metres (six feet) from the batter when the ball was cracked into my thigh and dropped me. I still remember the fear of the hard, head killing missile coming at me but striking low instead of high. In my thigh and it hurt. I had a massive bruise and I of course did not want to play cricket. Ever. Never ever. Yet forced to at multiple points in childhood. The last time ever was being a fully kitted up opening batter for the opposing team at my brother's birthday, lumbering out to the pitch in the pads, box, gloves and fucking helmet to have a missile thrown at me and I was out first ball; a birthday miracle for my brother. I hated cricket, hated it, but it was his birthday and he needed players so I mucked in despite my fierce hate.

I hated the hours of sideline boredom where you waited 90 minutes until your turn to bat (as the most shit of the shit I would bat last) but where you were not allowed to read a book because you had to watch the game.


Fucking cricket.

I hated the ads for cricket and that the back half of the weekend news was all about cricket. There could be a war on somewhere in world that would get three minutes then it was off to the sports desk for all the latest about cricket for the next 14 minutes until the weather report which would, of course, impact on the cricket.

Fucking cricket.

I remember the night of September 11, for the attack happened at about 10 pm Australian time, and I stayed up half the night in shock, watching. And from that point on chyrons, the scrolling heading updates on the bottom of the screen, became a thing. So did the use of alarming white on red BREAKING NEWS! for sudden, horrid events.

Only now I see that alarming BREAKING NEWS! has just been employed to deliver important information about ... fucking cricket.

It's something to do with "The Ashes", the Oz on UK cricket contest over the rights to hold a trophy urn that supposedly contains the burnt remnants of wickets and shit from the first big match between the two and then the battle to have it is held with great twin national solemnity by the citizens who have a love for cricket.

The urn is the size of an egg cup.

The world is filled with things more interesting than cricket; I would get more value from watching a doco about crickets the animal than anything to do with cricket the game unless it was a doco about a serial killer that preyed on people who played cricket and likely killed them with one of the many implements from the game that can be easily turned on people. There's the bat, the ball and of course wickets which are sticks with metal coated points. If you were being attacked by a zombie horde then you would have that and armour both since cricket pads are greaves, you already have a helmet, gauntlets and box, and other cricket pads could be refashioned as arm, back and chest armour.

In fact I think that is the only practical use for cricket; that it's dual use technology for when civilisation suffers a societal-imploding event where modern tech has failed.

Fucking cricket; I hate it. If you love it then rock on but I will not stand for it; not in this house. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

I (heart) chickens

We have nine recent hatchlings—with three already home when we lost the three chickens to the likely fox—and by Christmas they'll be ready for outside in their own pen while they finish maturing. Chicks are adorable, even when they squeeze out a healthy dollop of "the brown" as they tweet from your palm.

But the adult survivors on the outside (the gray chicken and one brown) have altered their behaviour due to the trauma of the attack; such as going into the hutch at night without prompting for me to close up and fox proof with kettle bells on the lift up side sections and a bin in front of the raised ramp that covers the sliding hatch above. 

It's my job to get them in at night and out in the morning. When I arrive they can be seen at the grill above their door side-eyed waiting with impatience from their enforced corral. 

I nearly called the brown one by the name of the dead scruff—and a pang shot through me. The feathers of their death battle (and the gray's survival) have churned into the dirt of the pen or blown away but each time I look at the back fence I recall the dread at seeing the dead, the two browns and the scruff, lying by the fence stiff in death then the relief of finding the two survivors. The gray one having fought of the fox since it did not escape with its kills and there was a puff of the gray's feathers over the fence from where the attacker landed having bitten it in the arse before being put to flight.

The gray chicken had another wound that we did not see, the underside of the bite, but she survived that injury too. The tea tree oil on the first wound—then second when we found it—helped her recovery and now there's healthy scarring from her battle.

I've been spoiling the survivors by expanding their range of treats to include leftover pizza—blue cheese garlic on a pizza base from Pizza Capers—bread and now cheese. I scattered lumps of a desiccated babybel cheese that I threw over the pen fence then finally hand fed, to one chicken at a time, chunks from my fingers through the gap by the gate. 

The fox attack did a number on me—my home became unsafe for living creatures in my care—and my forever feeling unsafe is a core component of my being, fostered from a childhood where I felt unsafe and unloved even as I enjoyed the security and comfort of white male middle class prosperity. 

The brown and the gray like me better now. The brown lets me stroke her and she's not afraid to walk between my legs. They gray chicken is still wary and does not like to be touched, but then she's recovering from having her arse nearly bitten off by a fox—a fox she fought off.

The gray chicken is a survivor and so am I. We bonded through the loss of our brood as much as a man can bond with a chicken that won't let him pick it up. But in time I hope she'll see me as no threat and, like her, I protect the brood—a brood expanding by 0–9 depending on the sex of the new adults.

It's one of our family's mottos; "we protect the herd". And, by extension, that applies to any collective noun of animals in our care—be it a brood of chickens or a pounce of cats.


The scary door

With thanks to Futurama.

I was on pick-up for theboy from school and arranged to meet in the usual spot which was the foyer. I arrived about 10 minutes early.

Schools, by dint of necessity, have thick doors that lock off the admin area from the public. It's a door with a key that you have to use each time you open it. 

I know all of this because after the first door slam—which I was not expecting as I perched on an arm rest and waited for the bell—triggered a fight flight response. The door slam shot through me and out the other side and my PTSD-afflicted under brain reacted. Even as I knew logically nothing was wrong my brain chemistry fired and I started crying.

I had to then watch the door instead of the corridor for my son and hope he saw me and the way out because if I didn't know the door slam was coming then my fight flight worsened. 

I was shaking, and crying, but not big outburst tears, just fat trickles that rolled down a trembling face. Some of theboy's peers walked past and I'm not sure if they saw I was crying or not but if they ask theboy, who has been my carer in times of acute panic, he will explain I got injured in the workplace and that's part of the result.

We've arranged for a new meeting spot, under some pine trees. It will be shady there—and there will be no scary door.

I hate that my under brain—my upside down in Stranger Things terms—still has this capacity to react. I've been good with sudden noises but they happened at a distance; the concussive power of that door slam was something else entirely—I could feel it and my underbrain cooked off and ordered me to flee. 

Except I couldn't as I was meeting theboy. So I bore it, watching the scary door, crying and waiting for him to arrive.

Then we had a kick-arse ride home on the trike with him in the back. 

The scary door; for me it's a real thing with real life implications. But I'll treat it as I treat all such triggers, with guarded suspicion and avoidance where practical.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

It's a yes

Ozzers in the postal survey said yes to same sex marriage in every State and Territory.

Will this now mean our LGBTIQ comrades now get to marry the person they love? 

We'll find out...

UPDATE: Sucked in, bigots.

UPDATE2: It wasn't okay to say no. It was their right to say no but it still didn't make it morally right. And if your very old book can't handle how gender and sexuality works in reality then maybe it is time to re examine your sticking with that motel drawer stocking stuffer.

UPDATE3: I was watching interviews with LGBTIQ people in the aftermath and one reaction was that it was horrifying but yay for today and another woman said "we should be celebrating after a yes vote in parliament"; i.e. LGBTIQ people were put to stress and distress for no purpose given it will be a free vote in parliament that could and should have been held without the need for this process.

So it's a qualified celebration because it caused distress that was not needed. I'm so sorry they had to go through this to get a right that I enjoy solely because I am male and heterosexual.

I deleted the ! from the title of this piece because it is joy writ with pain.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Injury manifests

I'm worried I'll be the one who has to tell theboy about the chickens and it triggered an attack; just the idea of his distress tripped me into this state. I'm not frightened, not yet at least, but crying and distressed because of his soon-to-be-distress.

That's what it is to take an injury to the mind; that you have moments like these where your fear of normal parenting trips you into an attack.

I know I got my PTSD is a self-determined heroic manner—I copped one in the service of the state—but it's at moments like these that I hate the injury and the failure that caused it. I'm reacting in advance of an unknown but likely distressing reaction. I know logically I am fine—a cat and or fox attack on an urban chicken brood is a normal risk you take—but he loved those chickens and I loved them and they were taken from him and taken from me.

The universe; it's mostly crap. There's some good bits but there are times when it's mostly crap. Having an anxiety attack about a likely anxious response is not normal and should not be normal. And a child shouldn't have to come home to a parent that can't do basic shit like this because they got wounded in the brain. All of that is mostly crap.

I have an hour to pull it together if thewife can't do the intercept. So it's time to arrest the quivering hands, the tears and heightened raw emotion with logic, coffee and Valium. 

UPDATE: Have just realised that "a cat and or fox attack" implies the possibility that a cat has teamed up with a fox. It wouldn't be the first time a like duo has spawned...

UPDATE2: He was both sanguine and sangfroid; he started designing fox traps.

Less eggs; leg and chicken

The right leg egg popped during ministration and after a mass of it drained there was padding applied to soak the rest. I'll risk a shower soon and see how it went in the night.

But before shower and egg check I went outside and found three of the chickens murdered in the night; not eaten or carried off—just killed. 

Two of the chickens survived; a brown and the big gray one. In fact judging by the feathers spread around the yard and over the fence that belonged to the big, gray chicken it seems big chicken fought the murderer off.

I gathered the three slain for the plastic bag and thewife check and tried to rake the feathers from the murder sites but the plastic rake, sun-worn made brittle, quickly snapped. I used a kid-sized metal rake but that was too much bending and had to give up.

The survivors won't come out of their zone at the back of the fence near the window. I left them some Pringles in easy reach to make them feel better.

From now on we'll have to lock them away at night instead of leaving them to perch on the old hutch lest their enemy come back.

I loved those chickens, and I loved the scruff who looked like Don Music from Sesame Street. They're now in a bag, ready for the bin.

That's the perils of urban chicken ownership; the occasional loss of 60 per cent of your brood to a spree killer.

I suspect it's a cat that should be locked up at night—but not the usual interloper that torments our house-bound cats by sitting on the mat outside the screen door so they'll charge it with a metallic clang and freak me out that someone is breaking into the house. That cat would have had a go at them by now.

RIB, chickens, RIB (Rest In Bag).

UPDATE: I moved some water near their chosen spot and spread out some grain. They both came out and let me stroke them and check them. Then the brown went into the hutch. So they appear to be okay save for the fact they lost three sisters in the night. I don't know how a chicken deals with trauma. Well I know how the gray one dealt with it---fierce pecks, flapping wings and clawed feet; she's got five natural weapon attacks!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Left leg, right leg, deflating egg, inflating egg

With thanks to Dr. Seuss ... who was not named Seuss and was not a doctor.

The left egg dent is still oozing but the flow is slow and while it's back to gauze to soak it up it just means more time to heal but heal it will.

Enter, stage right, the next egg. It's been in my leg for years, rising then falling. But I could feel the mass move near the surface so it's being attacked now to defeat it instead of it going back down.

The heated magnaplasm on the gauze was the hard part—people who wax have my fist raised in solidarity—and the padding and pain means the stance of the gun slinger is back, feet spaced apart with deliberate steps up a dusty street then draw!

Well, in this case we're drawing out whatever that lump is that has lived in my leg for so, so long. 

My body is missing bits and is part artificial because I got dudded in the womb. On top of that there's this shit to deal with.

But it's not as bad as lefty was at its worst and the fresh memory of that elicits a blissful sigh that righty merely stings when the left was brain melting.

Hooray for the re-frame; because it could always be worse.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Leggus Eggus Horribilis

The worst leg egg of my life blossomed on my left thigh and when it reached its zenith it presented as a golf ball sized lump of fluid atop a volcano of inflamed flesh that felt like hard rubber.

I’ve spent all of November off from riding as I waited for it to take its course. I had to give up all notions of modesty—and I feel vulnerable when naked because I am ugly—and let my wife tend to it with efficient ministration.

There was no active penetration; we used a blister-popping agent to with padding to cook it off then absorb the disgusting mix of pus and blood that seeped from within. I could feel it oozing out after the first shower post-pop as I soaked in falling water, the ooze viscous, seeming alive.

It’s taken three days to drain and now I just have a bandaid. But I still can’t ride until it’s completely healed lest I open it up.

At the height of it, because of my aging balls, I had to walk like a gun slinger in a showdown, legs apart with deliberate strides, so my balls didn’t hit the lump or I braced the lump within a fold of PJ pants then took micro steps, the lump facing forward and walking with severe discomfort instead of insane.

It’s amazing how quickly your life contracts when you’re in agony and dealing with a health crisis; you’re just focused on getting through it.

I used to sneer at the phrase “at least you’ve got your health” because I never had it but now I’ve got a re-frame; an experience so much worse than usual that I can now say “at least I don’t have a lump of infected fluid bulging out my leg the slightest touch on which is utter agony”.

So it’s a positive for that. I liken it to the time we owned that duck. It was a nasty chicken rapist and we’re glad to be rid of it. But I got to experience owning a nasty duck and re-framed the experience as “at least we don’t have that sociopathic duck anymore.”

Because it could always be worse than it is—so, for right now, at least I’ve got my health.


Sunday, November 05, 2017

Demon defeated by D&D

I had to drive across the ACT and back and in doing so had an anger attack about childhood. When I got home I announced I was rubbery in a quavery voice, went to the shed and cried.

Then my son came in and asked if I wanted to play D&D. I've been running him through solo adventures starting at level one. He was midway to a ruin to explore it when we last we left it having critical killed with a scorching ray a dire badger before it even got out of its den mouth. 

I said no initially, that I was too rubbery. But as my wife pointed out I needed to do something to get me out of the anger grief cycle I was spinning in.

So I changed it to a yes and we spent a couple of hours outside under the patio as he took on a skeleton infested tower as a lone dwarven wizard and we ended the session with him having been tracked by a ghoul then dashing its skull in with his club when it climbed up the tree after him. 

My parents mostly gave me grief for being a pen and paper gamer. My mum supported it—even got me gaming products as presents—but my dad disapproved and made it clear with his snooty derision that a proper boy should be playing cricket, rugby and doing nightly exercises as per that Canadian Air Force manual for fitness he gave me that displayed perfect men doing physical movements that I either could not do or could only do with pain and distress.

I had a body that did not work where I got bullied when I walked out the door to school and bullied when I came in at home from a pair of over bearing people whose egos got in the way of normative parenting. My only place of safety was inside my head and AD&D, which I then played, was a tool of safety and welcome; respite from a reality that judged me warped and weak. 

It was more than delicious that I broke away from having relived the memory of my father chasing me through the house with the intent of ripping my arms off and re-experienced that trauma to be in a state of acute tear-filled anger to then go play a game that gave me wellness to escape an environment that was toxic to my identity and mental wellbeing. Within minutes the terror-rage had abated and I was in GM (or DM) mode running theboy through his game. 

We make our own lives but we live with damage, damage, damage done to us through scorn or seeming love. The trick is not inflicting that damage on others—to break that cycle—and use the things that give and gave you joy to bond with a child that loves you back.

The best revenge is doing well and I got to play D&D with my son.

Suck shit, horror childhood and the monsters that lurk there still, I win again.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

"the fuck"

My psych asked for my middle name and after giving the real one added that sometimes it's "the fuck". 

As in 'I'm Mikey "the fuck" X!' and it's typically yelled after a space out when I've flipped from sitting and crying to anger and oratory.

I do have tickets on myself—but then I'm a stellar performer. It's hard not to kiss your own arse, non-physically speaking, when you realise you're a golden snitch and worth the most fucking points.

Hooray for validation through trauma; not recommended but it's a good outcome for a person who self-hated—even with the PTSD and the rubbery bits.