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Author: Justin (Page 1 of 34)

September 11: Fucken Monday

This is a brief return to almost-normal service to illustrate the fact that Fucken Monday rests for no one. This was my first Monday back at work after my week off, so of course it was extra Fucken.

Things started off well enough: no one died at the breakfast table, for instance. The Elderbeast asked if we were going to the gas station. As regular readers will now, the Monday Morning Trip To The Gas Station is part of the Monday routine now … and yet I had manage to complete forget about this in the space of a week. This necessitated getting ready to leave the house a few minutes early. Meanwhile, the Kinderbeast had a trip to the zoo today–for which he needed to be at school by 8:45am–so we needed to get even more ready a few minutes early than usual.

Normally getting the Kinderbeast to school for 8:45am would not be a problem. Normally …

I get the lunches ready, then remember that I’m supposed to pack the Kinderbeast’s lunch in a disposable plastic bag, which I assume means that all of his lunch needs to be in disposable packaging. So I take everything out of the tupperware and repack it. We’re now just a few minutes later than usual, but still relatively early so all is well. We get to the gas station and there’s no queue, so we drive right up to a pump, which is all good.

I’ve promised the Elderbeast a traditional Monday Morning Hot Chocolate, so I pay for the petrol and for a hot chocolate. We then turn to the hot drinks dispenser. There’s a guy in front of me, and in front of him is another guy who is making a coffee. He finishes, and then makes another coffee. The way it works is that you pick your cup, you put it under the spout, you select your drink, and the machine pours it out. Then you retrieve your cup, you put the lid on, and you get the hell on with the rest of your life so the person behind you can make their own drink.

Not this guy.

This guy makes FOUR–that’s one, two three and, then, four–coffees. He has the little cardboard trays ready for all of them. I’m standing there realising that there’s now a very good chance we might be late for the Kinderbeast’s bus because this guy at the front of the queue has decided to make all of the coffee in the known world using this one, insignificant, gas station drinks dispensers.

I then notice there’s a car waiting behind mine at the pump. I step out the door to see if I can move my car anywhere, but all the parking spaces are taken. I have no choice but to leave the car where it is for now. I step back inside and someone else has taken my place in the queue, and I’m too British to say anything about it.

Naturally, the machine also runs out of milk, since this one guy is making every single coffee that can possibly be made. So we have to wait while the assistant refills the machine. Finally he’s done. He puts his coffees in their little paper trays and carries them around to the counter, because it turns out he hasn’t even paid for them yet. Then, proving that karma can be a beautiful little shit when it wants to be, he ends up spilling half of it down his shirt–because carrying four gas station coffees in little paper trays isn’t something that any human was ever designed to do.

The two people in front of me make a perfectly acceptable number of drinks: that being one each, and we’re finally done. I get back to the car and find the poor Kinderbeast crying because he “missed us”, and we’ve obviously been gone seventeen years in five-year-old time. I give him hugs and tell him he can come in with us next time and we’re on our way.

We get to school with a healthy five minutes to spare (and, in case you were worried, the Kinderbeast is fully recovered from his trauma at this point). Then I realise, with all the lunch shenanigans, that I’ve forgotten to pack the Kinderbeast’s water bottle. There’s nothing I can do about it now: I don’t even have time to go to the shop over the road and buy him a bottle of water. I explain this to the teacher, and she asks if he has his hat.


Luckily they have spare hats. I kiss the Kinderbeast goodbye and tell him I hope he has fun at the zoo. And we’re done.

Except Monday has still got a little bit of Fucken left for me. I’m going round the roundabout, turning right onto the main road. A car pulls out at the second exit, into the outside lane. I’m on the inside lane, ready to the take the next exit. I figure the car is heading to the same exit as me: there are two lanes, one for each of us; it’s all good. Except, no–this car is actually taking the next exit and does it by cutting riiiiiight in front of my lane. Luckily I trust no one on a Perth roundabout, so I’m already keeping well away from the driver. Nevertheless, whoever it is still gets treated to an extended earful of my car’s horn.

And, I’m glad to say, that seemed to be all the Fucken that this particular Monday had for me.

September 10: Yes

Today my thoughts are on the impending marriage equality survey. And I’ve finally worked out exactly what it is that troubles me about the whole thing … it’s the fact that it exists at all. By existing in the first place, this survey is legitimising the option of a ‘no’ vote. It’s saying to people: you are allowed have a choice on whether some people should be denied the same rights and privileges as other people. It’s basically handing Australians a government-mandated right to be a bigot. It’s saying: it’s okay if you believe that not everyone deserves the same rights–we’ll give you that option and, if you vote for it, we’ll support that option.

We should never have to vote on whether one member of the human race should be afforded the same rights and privileges as other members of the human race. The answer is always a resounding yes. It’s such a vast, gargantuan, and universal failure of our political leadership to hand this decision over to the populace that it’s sometimes hard to see the sheer scale of the moral vacuum that has allowed this to happen.

There’s a reason we call people leaders: it’s because they’re meant to lead us, not hide behind us. They’re meant to guide us. They’re meant to ensure we don’t go down the wrong path: the one that leads to the abyss instead of the field. Deciding that one person doesn’t have the same rights as another is the path to the abyss. Let’s choose another path.

September 9: Unplanning

I had planned to watch a film with the Elderbeast this evening, but he disappears early to a friend’s house for the rest of the day and a sleepover. I take the Kinderbeast to a birthday party, but end up leaving him to play and coming home for a bit to cook and clean up the kitchen. Coincidentally, my mother-in-law drops by for a welcome visit at the same time. After that I collect the Kinderbeast from his party. Then we camp out in the front room and I decide to start sorting out our crates of LEGO into some new sectioned tubs that I’ve bought. I don’t yet know how I’m going to sort the LEGO (by colours? by type of brick?), but I get started anyway. The Kinderbesten plays with some of the LEGO. At one point I decide we need some background entertainment, and I put Rogue One on.

The rest of the day goes much the same, ambling nicely along according to no fixed plan. I’ve decided to think of it as unplanning: a day where you may have had some preconceptions about how the day was going to be structured, but those plans get thrown out and replaced by whatever happens to come next.

Unplanning. It’s cool. I must do more of it.

September 8: Balance

It’s Friday, the last day of my week off. With the Kinderbesten returning from school at about 3pm, my week off effectively ends there. Inevitably, I’ve been reflecting on whether my time off worked.

I took the week off as a bit of a reset. After everything that had happened this year, I wanted some extra time to myself so I could work out what life looked like for me now. I didn’t have a grand plan as such; just an instinct that a week off was the right thing to do.

I did some of the things I wanted to do; ran out of time for others. I was sick, so I had some downtime, but not in the way I’d intended. I watched some TV, but didn’t get the level of binge-watching in that I thought I might. I’m left thinking that the week off wasn’t the awesome, inspiring break it perhaps should have been. I’m left thinking that a week off work should be like the best Christmas present ever, given the alternative of getting up every day and going to work. I’m left thinking that my week off didn’t work.

But then I realised something: holidays often feel awesome because they’re a change from dull and tedious daily life. And my daily life isn’t dull and tedious. Sure, it’s somewhat repetitive, and it’s often tiring, but it’s by no means awful. My job isn’t awful either. Having the time off has made me realise that my week off wasn’t awesome because the rest of my life is already pretty awesome. My life has it’s low points and its highlights, but overall it’s pretty well balanced.

So, I guess my week off worked after all.

September 7: Sick

Sick. Yes, I am.

There are three types of Being Sick. The first type is where you’re mostly able to get on with things and continue in denial that you’re sick (and this is usually when you make everyone else around you sick). On the other extreme, there’s the Being Sick where bed is the only option. Then there’s the sweet spot of Being Sick where you’ve accepted that you’re sick, and that you should do nothing, but where ‘nothing’ can still be watching TV or reading a book, or generally chilling out.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t that kind of sick.

September 6: Luck

It’s halfway through my week off and I think I’m getting sick. I’m tempted to bemoan my terrible luck. However, whenever I catch myself trying to pretend I’m in any way getting a raw deal, I like to remind myself of something.

I’m one of the luckiest people in the world.

For starters I’m white, male, straight and able-bodied. This level of privilege already gives me a head start, and it would be churlish on that basis alone to suggest that I’m particularly cursed with misfortune. I’m also healthy, relatively comfortable financially, have a decent enough brain in my skull, and don’t live in the middle of a war zone. Just to add insult to injury, I have a job that I enjoy, have a handful of exceedingly awesome friends, and have two Kinderbesten who are healthy, smart and generally decent miniature human beings.

So, yeah, let’s all curse my rotten luck shall we πŸ˜‰

September 5: The Art of Relaxation

Today is possibly the only day of my holiday that I have in which to properly relax. By that I mean I get to drop the Kinderbesten at school, then I get about six hours in which I have expressly decided not to mow the lawn or tidy anything up or visit financial advisers.

Properly relaxing brings its own set of dilemmas. I’m the sort of person who still likes to get some vaguely useful things done with the rare gift of free solo time, so I have scheduled in some writing. I also want to have some quality time on the sofa in front of the TV. But, do I attempt to binge-watch a TV series? Or do I watch a film? Or two films? Should I watch something I’ve never watched before? Or revisit an old favourite? If I want to watch a film I need to watch it at the right time so I can have time afterwards to do some writing. Or, do I watch a film after lunch? In which case I need to time it so I can see the end before the Kinderbesten come home and ruin everything. Should I also get a laundry load in the washer? Can I properly relax in the front room if I haven’t tidied the toys away from the TV cabinet? Then I should probably wipe it down too and do the job properly. Maybe vacuum the carpet as well. Oh, and I’ll need to grab a shower before it’s too late. Oh, maybe I should do some reading. I hardly ever get time to read during the day. But if I read, will I have time for writing? And for watching a film?

Wait a minute: where did all that free time go …?

September 4: Now And Then

Today is the first day of my week off and I start it, somewhat annoyingly, by meeting with a financial adviser. The meeting is at 10:30, but I have to be out to drop the Kinderbesten at school for 9am, which means I have 90 minutes of time to kill. The financial planning aspect, plus the inconvenient timing, has prompted me to think about living in the moment vs planning for the future.

I’m looking forward to a full week off work, which means I’ve felt able to have a relatively lazy weekend–given that I have a whole week in which to get things done. In part, I’ve taken the week off because I want to do things (such as gardening) that I don’t usually have time for during the average working week. I’m also taking a week off because I want to have some time to do … nothing.

One thing I have learned during this year is that you can spend too much time looking at the future. I’m now finding it almost refreshing to be taking things one day at a time: to live in the moment. On the other hand, this financial adviser meeting reminds me that I *do* need to keep an eye on the future, or possible futures: I need to make sure I’ve got adequate insurance; I need to make a will; I need to make sure that the Kinderbesten are covered if anything happens to me. I need to be there for them now, but also in the future. I need to be in two times at once!

So, when it comes to living in the moment vs planning for the future … ultimately you’ve got to do both. Too much of one will come at the expense of the other. The future is out there, waiting, whether you like it or not. But, if you’re not doing something with the [majority of] the moments that you’re given right now, maybe it’s time to stop and smell the roses.

Oh, and the financial adviser meeting was a big waste of time. So, I don’t really know where that leaves all of this …

September 3: Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day in Australia, so I guess that’s what I’ll be talking about today. It was a #childfree weekend, but Rachel brought the Kinderbesten over in the morning to give me gifts and have some late breakfast.

Father’s Day itself means very little to me–it’s an excuse to sell cards, and there’s rarely a day goes by where I don’t, in some way, get a more genuine sign of appreciation from the Kinderbesten. In some ways, I’m still surprised to find myself a father. In other ways, it feels like something that I always wanted to be, even though I never actively sought it out. Inevitably, now that my marriage has ended, the Kinderbesten have become the main focus of my life and my relationship with them is all the better for it. While I still make sure to have a life of my own, I’m content to come home from work each day and cook for them, make their lunches, get them in the bath, put them to bed, etc. And I never forget how lucky I am to be able to do that.

We ended the day, mostly by a quirk of timing, by watching one of the most father-centric films I can think of: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2. I’ll always love it because it’s funny and awesome, but also because almost every character gets to provide at least some commentary on fatherhood: whether it’s Rocket acting as a surrogate father to Groot; or Nebula and Gamora fighting over what their own surrogate father took from them; or Drax innocently revealing his father’s fireside tales of his own conception. Obviously the theme of ‘father’ vs ‘daddy’ is the big one, and the last ten minutes or so will probably never stop bringing tears to my eyes.

I’m pretty lucky that I get to be both a father and a daddy πŸ™‚

September 2: Solitude

As this is a Saturday, and one of my #childfree weekends, it’s hardly surprising that the topic of solitude is on my mind. I’m in the, perhaps, enviable position where I can truly appreciate the relatively rare times I get to myself. I spend my working day surrounded by people and most of my spare time surrounded by my family.

Then, every second weekend, the Kinderbesten stay with their mother and I get the house to myself. After more than a decade of marriage and family, being entirely on my own is enough of a fresh experience that the novelty has yet to wear off. I do find myself missing the kinderbesten, though, and every so often I get a hint of what a [home] life spent entirely alone might be like, and I’m not sure I’d like it.

I enjoy my own space, I’m comfortable in it, but I’m also grateful to spend much of my life surrounded by people I love.

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