Friday, January 29, 2010

Stronger drugs needed

The tryptophan isn't working today.

Well, it is. I don't feel depressed; I just feel sorry for myself. Which I know, I'm far too good at. I know my problems are and have been tiny, but they're my problems, and even if I make mountains out of molehills, it still looks to me like I have a mountain to climb.

Money is a really big worry at the moment. I should be happy, because my big book finally arrived, and that's worth a lot of money to me, but I don't know what I'll do when it's finished. After all, it's big but it's only two months or so of work. My resources are stretched thin because I've been spending quite a lot just on living.

It doesn't help that Mrs Zen pressures me for money, which has made me resentful, and I feel bad about that. The root of my resentment is that she broke our marriage and has suffered nothing for it. I know she is trying to be encouraging when she tells me she doesn't care whether I find someone new, but it hurts, because it matters to me that our marriage broke up and I don't understand why she thinks it's okay. It isn't. I am wracked with guilt for my part, constantly feeling it for the things I could have done better, for not giving more, for not being a good enough father, for the hurt my children are going to feel, if not now then in the years to come. I have moved on from blaming her for not giving anything, which she didn't, because what's the point of that? She came back to Brisbane, felt secure in her dad's house and basically said no to everything except sitting in her armchair for the rest of her life. She still does and she still wants me to pay for it.

I gave her half of my English money, the money I had hoped I could use to pay a deposit on a flat, because I am going to have nowhere to live. She has her dad's house and I don't have a home, depending on the charity of a friend, worried all the time that he will get sick of me and ask me to leave, and I just won't have the money to go anywhere else. It wasn't enough though. The next day she asked me for more money to pay for her hire car and travel when she gets to the UK. I couldn't believe it. I just gave her a lot of money to pay off her debts, because she won't make a budget and just overspends because she knows that I won't let her go without and make the children suffer.

I gave her the money I felt like I needed to build a life, and that wasn't enough. She has the life she wanted. She decided to stay where she was and make my life unpleasant enough that I would have to move out. Whenever I tried to talk to her about how unhappy she was making me, she'd say "you can always fuck off". Eventually, I did. But I know that I had my part to play in making her feel like that. I could have sacrificed more. I could have focused more on her happiness and just given my own up. It's what she wanted, and usually, I like to give people what they want.

I got angry with Sh and I feel bad about that too, because she was saying how hard it is to have kids and that I am not understanding enough of Mrs Zen. Which may be true, but it's pretty hard to live with someone who just says no no no to everything you want. We didn't negotiate or compromise: I just asked her and she would say no. She'd never talk about anything: if I tried, she'd always say, no, my favourite programme is on (and she had so many "favourite programmes"!) or she wasn't in the mood, or she just ignored me. One time she literally just got up when I was midsentence and went to bed, without saying a word. It's really hard to build a partnership with someone who is only interested in communicating their desire for more money. Now Sh is unhappy with me and I deserve that. It wasn't her fault she struck the nerve of guilt that is bothering me. It is so hard though to make friends, because I need them and they don't need me. Everyone seems to already have a life and I am in the position of having to intrude on it to try to carve out my own. We were going to go to a meetup together tonight and now she doesn't want to. I was already nervous about it, obv. (because I'm nervous about everything) but I was looking forward to it and now it's such a source of stress that I don't think I can even go. Never mind. I can get some work done instead.

I also got the bill for the car I damaged when it ran into me. It was enough that I won't be able to do some of the things I wanted if my insurance doesn't pay any. It's a pretty good metaphor for my life. Someone rams my car because it's in their way and I am at fault for it.

I feel like I am just not equipped for having a ruined life. I was okay when I just had a simple life, me and Mrs Zen and Zenella, living in Yeronga. I loved it here then. I was good at that and it was good for me. Some days I just don't know how I can get from here to anything that feels like I want to live it. I used to have enough love for myself that I would find a way, I would find enough small things to get by. Now I don't have that and I am so needful of others to supply the fuel for my fire that it just becomes another reason to hate myself.


I went to the doctor yesterday. He says I may have a vitamin B12 deficiency. I looked up the symptoms and I couldn't help feeling pleased. Maybe I am just unwell, I thought. Maybe I will just have some injections and this will all be okay.

But there is no injection, no magic wand, no one to rescue me. All I have on my side is me: an alien marooned on the wrong planet, lost and lonely, no way home.


On the plus side, Mrs Zen dealt with my car insurance for me, and it will only cost 500. Which is going to hurt, but it could have been worse. Just an arm, I keep both legs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Get cracking

There is something just slightly odd about religionists who believe it is sign of saintliness that you whip yourself. Are you quite sure it's healthy to go without women?

Personally, as a celibate by the choice of the entirely uninterested women of Brisbane, I do not believe it's healthy. But I haven't felt the urge to give myself six of the best either. But now you mention it...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I became an Australian yesterday. It feels like more of a deal than I thought it would.

I think that is because my kids all turned up in Australian flag tattoos, with hats and flags in Australian colours. It felt like they felt I was honouring them by becoming a citizen. And I felt that I was becoming part of what they are part of.


Today they returned to school. In Australia, you do not have the same class each year. They throw everyone into the blender. So it's especially nervous for the kids.

You can't help thinking as you sit watching them at their new desks: please do not harm my fragile beauties. I do not care how much they learn. I care only that they stay well and are not broken by the rough and tumble of school life.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The well

Reading this post, I was struck by the thought that the saddest thing in my life is that when I was happiest, I had no one with me to share it with.

Yet it may be that it is a good thing that I was able to feel it without needing someone else to validate it.

I was happiest drinking coffee on a cold morning in the main square at Shimla. I had left behind the aggressive whiny child I had been in my twenties and discovered myself, a flawed but real human being. I was doing something I would never have believed I was capable of, travelling on my own without the fear of strangers that made me unable to ring a pizza place a few years earlier.

I was thin, handsome and confident--not overweening, simply convinced that I was as good as the next person, that when I walked into a room, I would find people who wanted to know me, women who would be into me, men who would find what I had to say valuable. And of course these things are true for all of us; you don't need anyone else to point out for you why it's true--you can find it if you go looking for it.

I found it by surrendering, by giving into the truth that I should be measured by what I am, not by what I'm not. I think that it's easy if you have a belief that people are fundamentally good to believe that you too are good, so long as you allow yourself to believe that you too are human. And I do do that: I think about what people are, not what they promise to be, not what they lack, but what they have. Mrs Zen sometimes would say to me that I was dissatisfied with her because she wasn't an intellectual like me.

But I never was. I loved her for what she offered, and never thought less of her for what she was not. We are capable of inspiring each other and showing each other beauty; we just don't know it. As I stood in the square in Shimla in the cold, I was warmed by knowing that I had been able to win her back simply by offering myself, not a scrambled version of me.

The second happiest time in my life I did share. We sat and drank coffee and Mrs Zen told me the doctor had confirmed her pregnancy. I suppose you would think that Zenella's birth was as happy a time, but I don't think it is the right word. I felt fulfilled. That may be even a richer feeling than happiness, I don't know. I have been so far from fulfilment since then that it seems a strange, foreign place I think I once visited but truly never saw.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Worth it

The other night, I was at a poetry reading. I mumbled a poem because I'm unaccustomed to public speaking, and afterwards, I was talking to a younger man who was set on emulating Bukowski.

He somehow found Bukowski admirable, and was perplexed by Eliot. But, I said to him, both Buk and Eliot were reacting to their own nihilism. Each had concluded that the world has no meaning or purpose, which is a distressing conclusion to reach. Buk reacted by not caring about himself or what happened to him, and by seeking personal oblivion, so that, one supposes, he did not have to think any more about it. Eliot reacted by trying to find small shreds of meaning in an absurd world. The difference, I suppose, is that Buk says we cannot live, Eliot we must try to live.

I tend to agree with Eliot, as it happens.

So this guy is saying, I have been doing the greyhounds, because of course Buk did the horses. And the guy is talking up the dogs, like it's a trial of manhood. No, I say, it has to be poker. Because you have to suffer.

See, that's Eliot for you: man must seek out suffering so that he has a reason to live.

And the guy is saying, you're awesome.

So I'm ready to rationalise that away, that he's just impressed by intellectualism or whatever, and then I realise that it would be easier just to accept that he thinks I'm awesome.

And in that moment, I began to recover. I became myself again. Started to become myself.

I am thankful for the people who have sustained me when I would have found it impossible to believe that I deserved it. On balance I feel much better about what I have had than I do bitter about what I have lacked.

Bukowski was wrong and Eliot thought too small. We have meaning because we create it among ourselves. I've always believed it and still do. We have meaning because we will sustain each other, and it begins and ends with the love we have for one another. I've always believed that that is what there is for us, and I won't stop.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


So we are dancing at the casino. I don't like the music or the place, but I'm dancing because I like the woman, and maybe she is interested in me.

I'm going for a drink she says.

So I follow her, but she's moving pretty fast, and she walks past all the bars.

So fuck it. I know no woman wants me. They even run away so that they don't have the awkwardness of saying good night.

What's the point of my even bothering? No one will ever want me. I don't have enough to offer even to be worth bothering to tell me you're not interested.

Why bother doing any of this? Just accept that you are shit and you have what shit deserves.


Okay, so I've sobered up and now I'm able to laugh at it. It's all material for my memoir "How I wooed and was completely humiliated by women on several continents".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I am manic

I am manic and I don't know why. I feel like I have been filled with petrol. What a pity I have nowhere to go! Still, it feels good to feel the blood in my veins, and I can, I can feel it slooshing round, smashing against the walls.

I am manic and this is the time, if you ever want something from me, to ask for it. I have stopped caring about money, time and everything else but how much I love you, and if I have any love at all for you, you will find me willing to express it in money, time and everything.

I am manic and sometimes I wonder, is this really me? Am I really a coin with two sides? Because believe you me, I can be a pain in the arse, and I can drag along the bottom of it, but other times, I soar, and I can believe in a life on the wing.

I am manic and everything is possible. I have known times when everything is possible and that is hard to live through, but sailing downhill at a million miles an hour is easy.

Tomorrow it will all be gone. I will be a shell of who I am, clinging on to life by my fingertips, and every time I am manic I try to have love for that shell and make him feel loved. I make plans for him; I store up goodwill for him; I send him messages like this to remind him that we can fly. Buddy, we can fly!

I am manic and I know there is a price to pay. I don't care. It is like love you know has to end. Do you mourn it? Do you try to cling onto the kisses, savour the caresses, stretch it out in your memory until it it overwhelms you? Or do you simply say, I am loved and that is all there is to say about that? Well, sometimes we do. Sometimes we are saying, I cannot love you truly because I am bent on memorialising you. But sometimes we just breathe it in, let it be the perfume in the air that sustains us, live and then it is gone and all we know is that it once was and now is no more.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Super Leeds

"What we can say for certain is that Leeds look like a team who have finally found their feet and rediscovered some pride."


Yes, I was down t'pub. Yes, I shouted myself hoarse. Yes, we are the greatest football team, the world has ever seen.

Marching on together

we are Leeds we are Leeds we are Leeds we are Leeds we are Leeds
we are Leeds we arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre Leeds
Marching on together
we love to see you win
la la la la la la
we are so proud we shout it out loud

i am worn out
man u 0 leeds 1
that's what it is
eat it bitches

Friday, January 1, 2010

Respecting the nym

I am particular about names. When people are introduced to me, I generally ask what they like to be known as. If they're Michael, I might say, is that Mike? It stems from my belief that we all deserve freedom. You should be free to be who you want to be. If I respect you, I will call you by any name you wish to be called by. I call it "respecting the nym". (Your "nym" is what you are known as online. I've been Dr Zen as long as I've been online, and I've definitely had times in my life when I've preferred being Dr Zen to David, and times too when the opposite is very much true. Yet I've retained the nym, and have not surrendered my anonymity -- even though I'm not very anonymous when it comes down to it.) It was easy for me, for instance, to call Zenella by her full name when she asked me to. (We had always known her as "Zeni", I guess, and we actually called her Zenella so that she would go by Zeni.) It wasn't a big deal for me. I just switched her mental label.

Some boys have been teasing Naughtyman about his name. Which makes me sad because I love his name. It is deeply meaningful to me, redolent of my ideal of masculinity, aspirational and hopeful. But I told him he could be known by his middle name (although he is named after a deceased cousin and it would be awkward for some of his relatives if he did go by that name), or he could call himself Thomas (his favourite name for the obvious reason) or any name he chose. But he decided he would be Naughtyman after all.

As I've blogged boringly in the past, I never cared much for my name. I'm nothing like a Dave, and, with the exception of C, no one here who actually likes me calls me by it (although just about everyone in the UK calls me Dave, so it's not like it bothers me). But David is ballsachingly formal. Because there is Dave, anyone who goes by David is announcing that they are pompous. Still, most people who know me in Australia call me David.

Some, though, call me Davey, but only my sisters and Mrs Zen--and recently, to his credit, M. I suppose they are the people who know me best, and they know it's what I call myself (although, let's face it, my email addy is a big hint).

Why do I like it? There's a simple reason. It's because my granddad called me Davey and when I was a kid, I loved my granddad to bits. I cherish his memory to this day, because he never did anything to make me sad, bar ask me to kill him when he was in his last days (I was too cowardly, I'm ashamed to say, and I've always regretted it, because I do not at all believe it a sin to end a life that is already ended).

My granddad was not my blood relative. He was my dad's stepdad. I never knew his biological dad. He left my nan when my dad was a child. She drove him out, and when I found out the truth about all that, I lost respect for my nan. But in any case, my step granddad was my real granddad. He loved my dad and he loved me, in his own idiom, without reservation. Unlike my dad, he did not mess around with love. If he loved you, he loved you, and you knew it. He was a generous man, willing to share his last crust, and prided himself on owing nobody anything. He never had a penny in credit in his life, always rented, no mortgage, and lived simply. I stayed with my grandparents when I was in my late teens, for some months, and his life had a simple, but dignified, rhythm. He would fix up the fire, eat breakfast, walk the dog, put a few bets on, buy as much beer as his budget would stretch to, generally a fourpack, and relax and watch the races if they were on telly, reading--he read everything--and listening to the local radio.

He was courteous when he met people in the street, but treated intimates with a rough humour that it was easy to understand was a show of affection (well, easy for me and for J, who adored him, but not so easy for my mum, who was hurt because he teased her for being a snob, which she was sure he was not). When he saw me, he would say "what you doing, smackhead?", dragging out the "k" as Scousers do.

I remember when we were kids, he would visit with our nan. They would have saved up money and would treat us to ice creams and sweets. I loved it when they visited. Granddad introduced me to horse racing and communism, for which I thank his memory, because he showed me that the former was a challenge worthy of a man's time, and the latter was just an expression of our desire for fairness. He did not believe the world was just, but he believed it ought to be.

I remember he would come into our rooms before he went out to the pub and he would tell J that he was going to "clip out for a slider", and she would beg to come. Today, Zenita loves to sip my beer or wine, and she is just like J in a lot of ways. I only hope that she grows to be as beautiful a person as J, albeit perhaps better able to cope with the downswings a little better. Everyone in our village who liked a drink knew my granddad. He had more friends in my home town than our dad.

I think he was a good man. He seemed that way to me. He did not build anything, grow anything, change the world or do anything that left much lasting mark, but for all that, he never diminished the world he lived in, and no one would say, I'm sure, that he had not on the whole been a positive for the world. What more can any of us want to be said of us?

When he died, I was proud to read his favourite poem at his funeral in his memory, and I hold it dear to this day, because it expresses the simple credo that fuelled his life, and because I am like him, mine too:
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!