David and me

He got a girlfriend late last year, and then I went away for the summer and only gave my parents and everyone around me a week’s notice, confirming to the world or at least to him and a few others my eternal flakiness, my unfathomability, which if I were younger, richer or more famous could be substituted for charming, cute eccentricity but now that I’m older and considering whether I should lie about my age on my résumés it can be called what it is: I am not special. I am just one more guy, and my foibles are actually not endearing.

I did not resent the chick, because good on him and good on her, and even when he had more time when we would get together for a night out I would drag the vibe down, I was always confused and a slight nameless fear would always take over as I was out in the clubs or in the bars. I am dazed, was and am, that for a few months I would feel moments of happiness with Lizeth and Karina and then I would get home and have to clean tables while no one looked at me and I resigned myself to being on the bottom rung once more, nameless and contractually unworthy despite my brain.

He is a virulently anti-religious Israeli-Australian, who did not think but simply did, and got somewhere, whereas I did not think either but simply felt, and got nowhere, but I did write a book about Bolivia, Peru and Paraguay and it’s my most cherished possession even if it never gets published and I never become known as The Author. At some point I suddenly was not sure what to talk to him about, he had climbed. This was after twelve years of knowing each other, to his eternal credit because I shed people after half a year and shed interests after two months. After so long I had stopped being interested in soccer despite all appearances and knowledge; the Western Bulldogs somehow started winning again and it mattered but didn’t, we had already blown it eleven years ago, and I had stopped going to dance classes and never proved to anyone in Australia that there’s more than meets the eye, and wouldn’t know where to begin, and if I did know where to begin I would back out of the path before it flowered.

I really thought that I had already reached an impasse with this blog, that there is only so much that can be said about loss, and that fighting against issues and the people who represent them is anger-inducing and serves for nothing on an individual, emotional level; I believed but I didn’t believe, I wanted but had resigned to not getting, and I asked myself how LuLi and the crowd kept up their blogging passions for a year, two years, when I was dead after two weeks, but then I got typing without thinking and somehow all this came out.

Chalk-line provocations

Imagine there’s no countries? John Lennon’s youngish but ageing hand rises up, his long-haired ideas swirling once more. The pic of him curled up naked around Yoko was a clever photograph, probably representative of many relationships where one person loves the other more and is nakedly dependent on him/her while the other half stares out in detached indifference. I don’t care about the man, I grew up with the Beatles occasionally playing in the background but think they are ever-so-slightly overrated – I only really dig two or three of their songs. Plus the conflicts that broke them up seem to mostly be by John’s hand and again, I’ve no time for people who profess to save the world while they treat the people immediately around them like shit. But suddenly after twenty-fiveish years of decrying his anti-everything, anti-religion, anti-nations, I suddenly like his unattainable idea of us all ditching the artificial constructs that turn cousins against each other and have very little use in a day-to-day, food-in-mouth sense: nationalism, religion, political spheres.

I’ll say it, not that this is all that controversial: the human race would be better off if the globe was not covered by nation states (countries) and ruled by them. What are countries if not an excuse to dismiss portions of our fellow people and not have to feel responsible for them? If I were my brother’s keeper as opposed to simply my Australian brother’s keeper, the Zimbabwean government would not be cowering under the cloak of sovereignty, the Taliban could not lock its women into cubicles, the diamond mines wouldn’t be such deathtraps. Injustice is untouchable simply because it happens tucked behind the borders of foreign countries?

Why does only one set of people benefit from gas and oil deposits when people a few hours away get nothing? These borders lock possessions into one place and keep people hemmed in like doomed cattle in others. I’ve taken that airplane trip and it’s utterly mind-boggling that things can be so different only a short ocean away. It’s not as if Mali, Bolivia, Tajikistan, Yemen, Haiti et al are light years’ distance from us, and yet only a couple thousand kilometres away from where we zap reheated dinners in microwaves and pay our bills online people have to dedicate a whole day of their workaday schedules to wash clothes by hand and queue up for days to get anything done.

We are raised to develop instinctive love for our countries and to rejoice in the downfall of others, yet how are Anglo-Saxon Aussies different from Anglo-Saxon Kiwis, really? Why should Bolivians distrust Peruvians so when they are no different from them at all? Isn’t Darwin much closer to Indonesia than it is to Perth, shouldn’t the Indonesians be more relevant to them?

 

Enough badgering, I’m not flash at debating-style writing and I’m too apathetic to ever win an argument. Somalia dove stateless into anarchy in the 1990s and that little nationless social experiment descended into copious amounts of war and violence, although curiously resulted in Somalia developing the best telecommunications in Africa.

This post, like many things but for the opposite reasons, was ‘inspired’ by the Olympics, by the gruesome sight of Sudanese Ismail Ahmed Ismail, silver medallist of the men’s 800-metre run, having no choice but to wave around the flag of the nation of Sudan on a lap of honour, the very symbol of a government who indirectly commits genocide against his own people in the infamous province of Darfur.

John Carlos, who raised one gloved fisted hand on the medal dais at the 1968 Olympics and ruined his life simply because he disowned the United States nation that had disowned his race, asked: “Why do you have to wear the uniform of your country? Why do they play national anthems? Why do we have to beat the Russians? Why do the East Germans want to beat the West Germans? Why can’t everyone wear the same colours but wear numbers to tell them apart? What happened to the Olympic ideal of man versus man?”

And yet I loved Paraguay beating Argentina in 2005; I loved the rivalry between the French and Italian soccer teams. My dream is to go to Paraguay and Mali, as opposed to going to some vague shapeless Guaraní-ville and Bambaraland. Despite everything, I gave a shit whether my fellow Australian Steph Rice won or not, that Adelaide United made the Asian Champions League Final last night. But why did I? What’s all that got to do with me?

Friday

I was in my car, my small white thing that is maybe a few years away from death but for the current years serves me well enough, though it would subsequently refuse to yield to my will the next day. It was early in the morning, there was a painless sun out, an October sun that would intensify in the months to come.

I drove with the palm of one hand while the other fiddled with radio stations and cassette tapes. Distracted drivers may die, according to the TAC, but driving my car with my one hand had become a pleasure that compensated for other boredoms. I pressed a cassette into the player but reneged: the music needed to be softer. Why don’t I feel like being funkified if it’s too early in the morning? Are we more emotional creatures at night, would a bunch of blogging about feelings be impossible if it wasn’t for the darkness of night-time? Is that why we are condemned to take care of business at the emotionless hour of nine o’clock in the morning?

Prince’s When doves cry appeared on the radio and I gave myself over to it while I drove with my outstretched arm on the wheel and my shoulder linking to it popping up and down, my stomach jumping and contracting as I drove through the intersection followed by an L-plater taking her/his or his/her driving test.

I parked and suddenly I was on foot, knowing that apart from my Bolivia dreamtimes I never set foot on foot anywhere anymore, I had slightly lost my faith in my body. That’s the goal: to reduce my life to simply what my body can produce and what my mind can produce, and not be sidetracked by the irrelevant and mediocre sideshows all around us. But it won’t happen yet because I will not feel complete with simply what I can bring to the table. I will always need someone else’s input.

I was alone, on my feet, alone with my body, my person, and there’s all of these things out there in the world, lots of options, each day we can do anything, but there’s nothing to do, nothing that can be done that can change anything at all that does not involve the slow process of natural change. Everything stays the same, and I looked around and suddenly had a slight suspicion that the M.G. experiment will not end well. The working world had locked me out, I could not contribute any kindness to anyone, I just didn’t have any chances. Being alone in the sun in a decaying suburb will play a few mind games on a fellow.

An adage for our times

Adage against money from yesteryear (circa Native American times): “Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

Adage against money from today (circa 1993): “Try as she might, Demi Moore was unable to climax while having sex with money.”

 

All right I admit it, I’m not against money per se, go get it and use it to get happy all of you; I just wanted an excuse to make that joke. The pic is too priceless.

But how can you say such things?

Tiekoro watched Nadie busying herself with the children, and noticed the dark rings around her eyes and the nervousness of her movements. She was suffering; she was afraid. If she wavered, what would become of him? He would have liked to take her in his arms there in the middle of the crowd, as he had once before, and murmur: “Don’t be frightened. I’ll never leave you. Never. And I’ll never allow you to become a servant again. You’re the dearest thing I have in the world, now that my dreams and ambitions are gone.”

But how could you say such things to a woman?

A heartfelt moment that stopped short before it could become heartfelt, in a period fiction I love called Segu (by Maryse Condé). How do we say those things to the people we love? The short answer is that we don’t end up saying them. We can go entire lifetimes without letting the people we are closest to know that we respect them and love them and despite all appearances don’t exactly take them for granted.

This is not a ‘go right now and tell people how much we love them’ piece. It’s simply me wondering about how the strongest force on Earth is not love, hatred, anger, sadness or anything so literary. The strongest force is the social distance between people, the inability to reach out to people, ours and strangers, because that is not what is done; that indefinable social fear that prevents people from standing out in a crowd, the fear of losing face. It paralyses. There was a woman I once met who was writing a story about how politeness got in the way of a married couple’s relationship, and I though how true it was, and too inevitable.

I got into a slight row with my Mum today and apologised and I feel bad but worse is that I feel utterly incapable of truly apologising, of breaking down all those walls that are always there, the uncertainty and the discomfort I feel in their presence. It pains me that I’m taking a rare break from hiding out in my bedroom to type this downstairs and my Dad has wandered over to turn the TV on and I just wish I would be left alone and that he doesn’t talk to me, even though he’s a good guy. He’s probably the best guy around but I would barely know because I’ve never spoken openly to my parents at any stage. They’re probably lonely after thirty years in the same marriage, and probably expected that their high-flying child of fifteen years ago would have reaped a lot more by now, and I haven’t and probably contribute to the malaise in a small to immense way.

My little brother is my dude. I don’t have D’n’Ms with him but if anything that’s what makes it a good one, the fact that there doesn’t need to be, that I don’t need to know his stuff in order to still be important to him. I could walk away from this country without qualms but for my bro, my dear bro… but I could never tell him these things, that I would choose him over any chick, that some things are just more important than vagina. How could I tell him he’s number one? He intelligent, commerce at Melbourne Uni etc etc, but when it comes down to it he’s just a knockabout teen and would cringe at all of this shit.

Blood cements those things even without them having to be said. But I drove away she who must never be mentioned because we do not share common blood, because I needed everything from her and wasn’t happy with her simple assurances that I was important when her actions told me otherwise. For better or worse I’ve lost her and I don’t know anyone I can be heartfelt to anymore, it’s all just socially accepted small talk crap at this point, and I miss it, I really miss being able to admit my fears to someone.

Morriña

Morriña, a beautiful Galician-Spanish word that describes a state of sadness, of longing for what is lost or will never be. It is called saudade in Portuguese, a word that has a surprisingly expansive Wikipedia entry (in English) on the subject of sadness and longing – seriously, have a look. Saudade was listed by the BBC as being the seventh most difficult word to translate in the entire world.

Morriña is a word I have only ever read once, on a soccer website. The piece was a description of the north-east city of A Coruña in Spain, situated on a chilly part of the coast that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, where as a pastime locals sit silently on rocks and look over the ocean in pensive longing, with morriña. A friend of mine who had been to Cuba told me that something similar happens there.

A Coruña was the place where the locals pinned all of their sporting-based dreams and hope on a single game of soccer at home in A Coruña in 1994, a stadium situated right next to the ocean where one can feel the spray come in. The Deportivo La Coruña team missed a penalty kick in the last minute and someone else won the Spanish ‘premiership’ as a direct result, leading to more anguished glances out over the waves for a small city that had up until then still never seen glory. Ten years later they had another game at home in 2004 to reach the European ‘Grand Final’, but this time someone scored a penalty kick against them and the team immediately faded from the pinnacle the year after, disappearing into the ether of what might have been, provoking a new longing for what could have been, might have been, had been, but consequently never was.

There are always new things out there, but can we argue with the heart when it tells us that a particular person and moment that is lost can never be replaced?

Magic defeats Wall Street

Yeah sure, if the financial world falls then the jobs disappear, we lose our chance at having money and consequently freedom but… but, did anyone else feel their heart rejoice at least a tad that the all-knowing money changers bit the dust? Goddammit, the part of us that feels has been copping defeat after defeat at the hands of those people who don’t feel; my mate who analyses things mathematically has beaten me (Johnny Go-with-your-heart) in so many bets that I may as well just bend over for him at this point, but as it turns out, ALL YOU BUSINESS FLUNKIES WERE NOT CORRECT JUST BECAUSE YOU HAD ALL THE MONEY. You are as fallible in your theories as the rest of us.

You fucked South America and Africa in the 90s with your neoliberal, privatisation theories (NB: I hate -isms!); they turned out to be wrong. And yet your social conservatism, which was supposed to be the safe option, has brought the U.S. Republic plummeting and fast-tracked China’s ascent to glory.

Would the world be any worse a place if we all just wore grass skirts, rode bicycles and lived on riverbanks? But then if we were so simplistic I would kiss goodbye to writing and trips to South America, which are the things that make me happy.