They’re Coming For Me

I live in a suburb, and in the middle of this suburb is a village. It’s called Crows Nest Village. As far as I can tell, a village is an area with a high proportion of people vs things to do. None of this is important. The village is largely divided by a road.

I’ve been frequenting this village for a month or so now and have noticed something. I’ve never seen a magpie on the West Side of the street and I’ve never seen a pigeon on the East Side. At first I thought, funny observation, but as the rule continued to grow without an exception, it became more and more bizarre. And this morning, I saw a pigeon and a magpie duking it out on a crossing. Right there in the middle of the street. Shit you not.

I know what you’re thinking. A magpie would kick a pigeon’s ass. This is true, but the pigeon had four other pigeons right behind it, and three up on the roof of the bank overlooking the crossing. And that magpie was all alone ‘cept for her children who were squealing in the background. I’ve got a lot of respect for single mother magpies that still manage to go to work. Fuck knows where dad is.

I didn’t want to stick around to see who won. You don’t want to be standing watching a gang fight when it finishes. Because then you’re left facing a dozen pigeons (there’s a dozen now) full of pigeon testosterone that have just killed and are thirsty for more. Fuck that I say, so I went on my way.

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Lounge

I had my lounge cleaned recently. It did not go so well. Please find below my email of complaint.

Hi, I just thought I’d share my not-so-great experience with All Carpets coming to clean my lounge.

Here’s what I expected:

  1. My doorbell would ring, there would be someone here to see me.
  2. I would buzz them in and they would come to my door with the stuff required to clean my lounge.
  3. They would clean my lounge.
  4. I would pay.
  5. We would all smile and they would leave.

Reasonable, right?

I got this:

  1. A phone call 20 minutes before arrival, cancelling me. Seriously. Lucky I don’t have a job and didn’t need to take the day off work or anything.
  2. The guy said he would call me tomorrow, and hung up.
  3. The next day I got a call, the guy was 20 minutes away, was now OK? Sure, I said, why not.
  4. 20 minutes later I got another call, he was downstairs, could I come down. Sure, I said, why not.
  5. I went out the front. I saw a van with a guy in it, on the phone. He appeared to wave at me to just wait. Or to come into the van, I don’t know. I stood like a goose on the footpath waiting for him to finish his more-important-than-me phone conversation.
  6. He came out, said quite a few words, asked me where he could park. I said I don’t know, was he looking for something different to the spot that he was currently in? I felt guilty that I was not more of an authority on parking around my building. He said he’d park in the loading dock of my apartment block. I said he probably couldn’t. He ran off into the loading dock area. I waited because I can’t run. He came back and told me that parking wouldn’t be a problem. I was relieved and worried, which rarely ends well. He parked on a weird angle actually blocking where the trucks come in (we have quite a busy loading dock).
  7. He said he wanted to come up and see my lounge before he brought his stuff up. That sounds good, I said. The wheels were in motion.
  8. He checked out the lounge. It seems to be a leather and cloth mixture, he said. He didn’t seem sure and I didn’t know you could mix leather with cloth, I was worried again. Is that like a hybrid cow/sheep/cotton plant? But he’s the expert, so I smiled.
  9. He asked me to come down again to help him carry stuff up. I said I have a back injury, I can’t lift anything (true). He said so do I (true) and he promised to only give me light stuff. What a sweetheart.
  10. We came back down, and my building manager was there furious that someone had parked blocking the loading dock. So this lounge cleaner argued with him. Looking to me to back him up. As though together we could convince the building manager that removalist trucks do not in fact require access to the loading dock. He took the building manager to one side, I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but lounge cleaner put his hand on building managers shoulder and my god I thought the building manager was going to thump him. He lost the argument.
  11. He got the cleaning stuff out of the van, left it in the loading dock area in the way of anything that moved and hopped in his van and took off. I’m left standing (once more like a goose) next to the lounge cleaning machine (from the 80’s), hoping that no cars come or go because I really didn’t want to try and move the thing and wind up flat on my back.
  12. He came back maybe five minutes later. He explained that he parked in a spot but couldn’t work out how to pay for the parking, so hadn’t, so would have to come down and check it later. I then got the five minute diatribe on what he thought of parking and how it made him feel when he had trouble finding a spot to park. I shrugged my ignorance of local parking for the tenth time and smiled, like yeah, I hear ya man, parking sux.
  13. I was handed a bucket and a hose to carry. He was right, they were quite light. Wheels in motion again!
  14. Fast forward a little bit and he’s finished with the lounge. It looked it over and with great subtlety brushed my fingers over the bits that didn’t look clean. I didn’t want to say anything because that would be rude. He noticed and assured me that the lounge was clean, but just appeared darker in certain spots because it wasn’t dry. He also explained that you can’t put too much cleaning stuff on it. And I thought, whenever someone gives two excuses for the same thing, only one is really true.
  15. He asked me to help him carry stuff out. But only to the lift, he could take it from there. So I carried the bucket and hose the 7 metres from my apartment door to the lift and we said our goodbyes. He said something about parking as he got in the lift.
  16. The couch is now dry, and it’s not clean. I’m not sure what chemicals are used, but it seems to brighten up the fabric around stains. I seriously have a stain that I didn’t know was there before.
  17. I can live with it (there’s children starving in Africa, why do I need such a clean couch?), but if I’d seen all of this in a premonition, and seen my not-really-very-clean couch at the end, and seen my wallet $140 lighter, I would most definitely not have bothered.

A special note to the defamation lawyers, I am referring quite specifically to the ‘All Carpets’ you will find at http://www.allcarpets.com.au. Bring it on.

I got a reply to this rambling email. A thank you for amusing the poor chap in charge of customer relations, and an offer to come clean my couch again.

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Australia Day

It’s Australia Day today. I live in Australia. This I believe translates fairly directly to It’s my country day.

AKA ‘Slap A Jap’ day, ‘Target A Turban’ day, ‘Flog a Wog’ day, ‘Stabbo an Abo’ day.

Stabbo an Abo. Part of me wishes that this actually happened at some point. I like the idea of someone being racist (it is after all racist day) to an aboriginal. On Australia day. It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a spork. Maybe this will be the one thing that makes everyone sit up and thing, whoa, hey, racism is kinda dumb!

Hello horsey. My, you’re tall. Mind if I get up on you? Let’s talk about racism. None of this will be funny.

Where does racism comes from? Where does it breed, what leaky tap is the source of its flow. Are you racist when you’re born? Sort of. But you don’t have specific prejudices toward particular races. So what we’re really interested in is how racism can grow over time. The obvious culprit is the racist parents. This is fairly simple and hence of no interest; let me attempt to be interesting.

Patriotism. Let’s think of this as a form of pride and put it on a scale. What is patriotism? It’s about me being proud to be Australian, isn’t it? I could also feel proud of living in Sydney, or even the particular part of Sydney I live in, or the village is that suburb, or the East Side of the street in that village. But do I feel proud to be from earth? Well no. Not really. And why not? Because who am I better than?

For me to be patriotic, I need to be proud. To be proud I need to be proud of something, and doing something well. And the only way to measure doing well is to do it better than someone else. So patriotism is a form of comparison. One of the great things about patriotism is that I don’t actually need to do anything myself. I’m here to be proud of things done by other people that live, or lived, in my geographical location.

I have nothing against patriotism per se (by all means, keep God Blessing whatever nation you call home), but I am wary of what it breeds. And what it breeds is a sense of belonging to a group – not so bad, right? And how is the group defined? Well, by geographic location, which our leaders have neatly split up into political regions, let’s call them countries. So the first divide: by geography, comes in the form of ‘by country’. Another divide is the culture one. Often this coincides with political borders, but not always, and rarely perfectly. So we’re divided into little groups, by country, culture and colour. Good for us, nothing broken yet… But read the below and snap your fingers when I say something racist.

I think no harm is done to say that Oz is better than the UK at rugby. Off to a good start. How about, African countries seem to produce more than their fair share of Olympic sprinters? Not racist of course because it’s nice. And measurable. What if I suggested it’s because they all grow up running from lions? Still not racist, we’re just sittin’ chattin’ ‘bout statistics and survival of the fittest, strictly comparisons. But it sounds a little off, doesn’t it?

The French are a little grumpy. Racist yet? Americans are fat, and it’s someone else’s fault. Doesn’t really seem racist, although I suppose technically … Ahh, maybe I need to just comment on a group based on their skin colour, without direct comparison … I wouldn’t trust a black woman to clean my house, she’d probably steal something. There we go, good old fashioned racism. So what did I need to do: mention skin colour, not just culture, not just geographical location, and remove any obvious reference to statistics. But also I picked on something that we’re sensitive about. I could say the same thing and replace black woman with Armenian man and it doesn’t sound so bad. Just a racist though, but we haven’t seen it before, so it’s not really perpetuating something. Perhaps you know an Armenian man living abroad (if you’re from Armenia I’m sorry. I suggest you stop reading) and have heard stories of him being subject to racism, then you’re reaction to the above will be worse. But what are the odds of that, how many Armenians could actually find their way out of Armenia? So easy, just to be a little bit racist. This brings me to my next point.

Is it really that bad? A little joke about the Armenians?

Yes and no. You may know you’re not really being racist, just saying racist words, not believing in the crux of the message – perhaps just aiming to amuse. But what about the person you’ve shared this comment with (assuming they’re not Armenian. Why are you talking to Armenians)? What if they don’t spend time pondering what’s racist and what isn’t? They’ve just been given a little bit of permission to be racist in future. This spreads. And this, I suspect, is why some people are a little over-sensitive about the whole thing.

This does not help. Here’s another ‘spot the racism’ game. No clues this time, just think.

•       I went to a party on the weekend and met this black girl who was really nice.

•       I went to a party on the weekend and this black girl was there who got completely drunk and broke my glasses.

•       I went to a party on the weekend and this Irish guy was there who got completely drunk and broke my glasses.

•       I went to a party on the weekend and this really tall guy was there who got completely drunk and broke my glasses.

•       I went to a party on the weekend and met this girl from Bolivia who was really nice.

It might sound racist, but can I not use someone’s race as a way of describing them? Being Irish, to some, is an interesting trait, as is being tall, Bolivian, or black (assuming that you’re not in Ireland, at a basketball game, in Bolivia or Kenya). Is saying ‘Kenyan’ less racist that saying ‘black’. Of course not, it just sounds less racist, but neither of them are. There’s white Kenyans, you know. And a million shades between white and black. If you want to refer to someone by some feature, be it physical or culture or country of origin, then you damn well just do it and don’t be scared of sounding racist. By the way, I’ll skip the fact that ‘Blacks’ and ‘Whites’ aren’t those colours. I’ll skip the fact that more and more often, this is an artificial distinction (a manifestation of a discontinuous mind), especially when ‘interbreeding’ (what a horrible term) has been involved.

Some more:

•       I wouldn’t trust an Armenian man to clean my house.

•       If you want a good accountant you simply must go Jew or Asian.

•       Quite frankly generalisations annoy me and I don’t feel the need to think of any more.

Generalising is a sign of an efficient mind. When building knowledge of anything, you start broad and narrow in.

When you have little knowledge of snakes, it’s best to not cuddle any snake that you come across. If the need arises, you can go on to learn about the differences between different breeds of snake and then you can cuddle pythons to your heart’s content (they reciprocate). Your brain does this by building a model for objects and ideas in your head.

Someone not familiar with cars will just see a car. They’re all the same. Most will notice the difference between a 4WD/SUV and a Mini. This is because your brain has gone from having one model: car, to two: big car and little car. It did this for you when you started observing different cars. Some will look at a car and know the make, model and year. Their brains have created many different models for many different cars. The differences may be as subtle as a different coloured indicator, but that’s all your brain needs to look up the right model and return: 1993 BMW 535i, series II.

Feel free to swap out my car analogy for architecture, planes, trains, art, psychological traits. Often it’s to do with our professions. Perhaps you can glimpse at a line of code and know what programming language it was written in. In this case, your brain has created a model for many different programming languages. More abstract than a car, but the model works in the same way.

And now, on to people. If you’ve never met an Asian (funny how ‘Asian person’ or ‘Jewish person’ sounds fine, but ‘Asian’ or ‘Jew’ seems a little harsh) then you probably apply the same stereotype to all Asians. Any Korean, Japanese or Chinese person would see this as silly. And the French, and the Americans, and so on. Take the Americans (and if you’re American, take the Brits). What are your stereotypes? Now imagine that you go to live in the US. You may get to know some Texans, some Californians, Bostonians and New Yorkers. As you do, your brain will probably build a model for each of these sub-groups of American (the model would include things like personality and accent and so on). Assuming that your stereotypes are negative, you may ease off a little on some of these Americans and go harder on others.

I’ve deliberately picked a dominant white group here (although white Americans/English that have been to France may have copped a little racism themselves). What about the middle east? A rather diverse group I’ve heard, but with the help of maybe a few media headlines, we’ll just bunch them all in together, wrapped up in one collective turban. They all wear turbans you know. Your brain has one model for ‘Middle East’ and your positive or negative stereotypes will be applied whenever your brain identifies someone as matching that model. I wonder how many God-fearing White-loving Christians know that Jesus was a Jew from the Middle East. How they block out this fact?

You get the picture. But the big question is, is this a problem? No, it isn’t. And it isn’t a problem because it isn’t solvable.

For a conclusion, just read the above again faster.

If you got the impression from the above that I’m racist, read it again slower.

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Convenience

If I were to make the joke that the convenience store below my apartment building was not very convenient (on account of them not opening on a Sunday), I would not be funny. If you find that funny, then great. Thank you. But this is not funny. In my first week at living at this new apartment, I found my way down to aforementioned inconvenience store. Four isles. Tampons, cereal, internet café, I-don’t-remember.

I wandered around as much as one can in such a shop. Do you have bread? I asked, as though I was asking for anise-flavoured condoms. “Uh, noooo, only in these sandwiches”. The lovely lady said as she idiotically waved her hand toward the sandwiches fridge. I will not be buying 8 sandwiches in order to get 16 slices of bread and a lot of leftover corned beef. But props to her for the cross-sell attempt.

This was a month or so ago; I’ve settled in my new home now. I have not been back, except for just now. I was after lemonade. I challenge you: spend the rest of your life if you care or dare. Find a ‘convenience’ store (in inverted commas, forevermore) that does not sell it. ‘We have mountain dew’: a consolation. I care little for your mountain dew, wench.

I mumbled something about Moses selling out and left.

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Vaguery

I hate vaguery in writing. I don’t like when in a TV show someone goes for a job and the person writes down a number on a piece of paper and slides it across the desk. Would this change your mind? I imagine the writer’s meeting where this decision was made. “You can’t just say one hundred and fifty thousand out loud. It will date the show. It will alienate people. It’s an unnecessary detail.” Bugs me.

I also don’t like about myself that so many things make me think of the meeting that took place for the thing that I’m pondering to have come about. It’s happening more and more often. I saw a packet of sultanas in the supermarket that has ‘EXCITING’ on the packet, in the same shape that happens when Batman smacks a bad guy and the caption says ‘thwack’ or something. I hated everyone in that meeting. Sultanas are not exciting.

How the fuck am I thirty five or six and still not able to spell unnecessary first go. I got it right on my third try. I have an IQ of $150 for god’s sake. No god, you do not get a capital. I know that Mum and Dad do, but where were you in my tender years. God you’re annoying. There, you got a capital, Mr Big Shot at the start of the sentence.

All right, that got real messy just there. Let me get back to some sort of clear story.

Ah yes: bed wetting.

I remember at least one of the times I wet my bed (as a child). I was dreaming that I was standing at the toilet, weeing. I wasn’t. I was lying down in bed. Weeing. What the fuck, brain? Why would you do that? Do you have it in for my pyjama bottoms? Did you and my sheets have some sort of falling out?

A few years ago I fell asleep whilst doing a wee. I was standing up, but was so tired that I had leaned forward and leant my head against the cabinet above the toilet. I tinkled and let my eyes close. I woke up just as my face started to slide across the cabinet. Remarkably my knees stayed straight and I was just tilting to the side. Ever since then, when I’m lining up to (part of me wants to say ‘drain the lizard’) do a wee, I worry that perhaps I’ve actually finished, have gone back to bed, and if I begin to wee now, it will be in my bed. So now I have this mental check that I do. It’s like pinching myself to make sure I’m awake, but rather than resort to physical violence, I just think something that I think I couldn’t think if I were asleep. Like oh, that tile is interesting and tiles are made in a factory by people. You never dream that shit.

I was reminded of this when I went to check for the poo smell. I never found it and now it’s gone. I’m sorry to have lowered the tone like that.

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No discernible passing of time

I cannot even describe how my heart felt when she walked in. This will not stop me trying. Part ‘wow’ part ‘phew’. She’s not a fatty! Am I shallow? Fuck yes I’m shallow. Is she beautiful? Fuck yes.

If you’re wondering, I had a nap since the last post.

I don’t mind telling you (why would I, it’s my book), that she looked gorgeous. Little blue dress, the sort you could lose a hand up. Short hair. Eyes that said stop wanting to fuck meBad Dirk. I feel guilt, to an extent, because I get to be one half of our relationship and she’s only a quarter. Because she has another half, ya know?

It’s 8 years ago and we’re in Venice. I’m jet lagged so go for a wander, on my own, and get lost. As planned. There’s a large square there. People that aren’t me would remember – or look up – the name of the place in preparation for writing about it. Well shut your mouth. Anyway, I’m tall (unreasonably so) and was wearing a jacket so didn’t look as thin (unreasonably so) as I am. I imagine I appeared quite imposing. The generalization I had formed about the Venetians from the seven I had come across was that they were all as cool as cucumbers. Not rude, not aloof. As cool as cucumbers. Venetian number eight and I rounded the same corner, in opposite directions. Nose-to-nipple, the poor old man squealed, just a little. And then returned instantly to a state of cucumber. I liked that I made him squeal.

My brother in law was a quick-stop-laffa. Baldwyn is his name. It’s aboriginal for ‘great warrior with great hair’. That’s called staying in touch with your heritage. It’s also the name of the town where he was born. I call that getting confused about which label is for which text box on the form that you fill out at the hospital. For all I know his Mum wrote their address as 107 Highview Street, Malcom. I said he was a quick-stop-laffa. He still is, I imagine, but he’s no longer my brother in law (it is he that is gone, not my sister). He would laugh, genuinely, loudly, heartily … Then stop. Instantly. Every muscle in his face would go from having the time of its life to just hanging there like doonas on a washing line. It was unnerving.

And this is what the Venetian was like. A squeal, (and since you weren’t there, a minute flailing of the arms) then nothing. Are you alone? Try and minutely flail your arms. I did just after typing that and quite enjoyed it. Go on, treat yourself, have a little mini-flail.

The Venitian man’s squeal lasted for perhaps 200 milliseconds. Erica and I a few years. On and off, you know how it goes. When I recollect now, it’s all good. When I recollected shortly after the last time we were together, it was all bad. I assure you I am the only person to have experienced that phenomena in the history of the universe.

I took a good solid relationship with a nice, smart, fun, pretty girl (I will call her ‘Milk’) to make me realize what Erica was. And if I don’t get Erica, if the right combination of words and thoughts and memories and imaginations don’t take place. If she doesn’t end up in my arms, then god take mercy on the soul of the next girl that I convince myself I would be happy to spend the rest of my life with. I should have told Milk that up front: I would be happy to spend the rest of my life with you. But I didn’t. I told her I want to spend the rest of my life with you.

Big Difference.

If you’re reading this, Milk, firstly, what the fuck. I didn’t know you read Dirk Masonly? I digress. If you’re reading this, sorry for thinking I could relax and just be with someone who was maybe 8/10 (as a partner, not some crass rating of looks – that’s a two-part scale). But I couldn’t relax.

Also you annoyed me.

Enough of the girl comparison, I fear I’m sounding more and more like a jerk. No wait, it’s my book/blog/billboard, I’ll be a jerk if I damn well please. And I might as well get this out of the way here and now. Cunt.

It has just now begun to smell like poo in my apartment. Excuse me while I go and investigate.

Keyword: bed-wetting.

 

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Hello There

I’ve just finished a dirty lunch with the girl of my dreams.
Why so dirty? I hear you ask. Excellent question. You see the thing is that uhm, she is somewhat … umh, unavailable. What with the husband and all.

Oh stop it. That does not make me a home wrecker. I consider myself more of a home makeover specialist. You take this, you put it over there, it isn’t load bearing; extend the living area outside with similar floor treatments; give this bit over here a lick of paint; and voila, you’re old place has a new lease of life.

She’s amazing, this girl. For the sake of this story I will call her Erica. (Because her real name is Erica and her husband will never suspect a thing if I use her real name.) Beautiful, every bit of her. There is no part that I don’t want to use to wake her up with a prod. She does things to me (mentally and physically) that only chicks in love songs do to effeminate masculine singers from the 90’s. But enough of that, you can picture your own damn girl.
We met today for a tawdry lunch. It was to be our last. I was there first; she has the upper hand. That’s because she’s got the better relationship. This is how it works. She has everything to lose, I have nothing to lose. I’m like Arnold Schwarzenegger in … every movie he’s ever been in.
But, dear reader, the sparks fly. Oh do they fly. I started with low expectations, which reminds me that I have not yet described myself to you. I am the sort of man for which a woman has no expectations. And if she does they are immediately disappointed. So here I am: me. And Erica.
We’re at a restaurant for lunch. She booked, because I’m still a child. I know that I’m not, and she knows that I’m not, but she books anyway. I think on the off-chance that I won’t be OK dealing with the whole booking procedure. Or maybe just because she’s being nice.
I’m here early. And not early for 12pm. I’m early for 11:50am, when I expect her to be here. I check the entrance every four seconds. I send her a text: I’m checking the entrance every four seconds. This is a mistake, because now I know she’s across the street watching. Making sure that I’m checking the entrance every four seconds. My neck hurts. She arrives.

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