Lazy Luddite Log

27.12.08

Pansy

I was standing at a bar ordering a lemon, lime and bitters. The woman behind the bar was dressed in a particular way. A man standing next me suddenly muttered "she sure is a lesbian" or something to that effect. I was rather taken by surprise. I cannot say whether my face looked like a smirk or a grimace but whatever it was I then looked away. I must have had some effect because he then asked "was that rude mate?". My answer was "well it would have been if you had said it to her". He seemed satisfied with that. We got our drinks and went our separate ways...

But I am anything but satisfied with the exchange. With the fact that something like that can happen. With the fact that I was too much the wimp to say that it was offensive to me too. What if I had been more quick-witted? What would I say? "There should be more of it"... "they can serve drinks as well as anyone"... "you sure are of Indian background".

I erred on the side of caution and just as well - one must be careful with strangers in bars. But it irks me that these attitudes exist and that I have to be exposed to it. The woman staffing the bar chose to look a particular way that is associated in our society with queer identity. Is she then inviting or giving license for the passing of comments on how she is different from her customers? Am I politically correct or was that stranger just bloody offensive?

I fared better a while back with a case of racism. Admittedly I had a friend with me and we felt safe then to discuss with a man the fact that we were very much relaxed with the fact that there were barely any 'Aussies' in our train. My comment that I was accustomed to it because of the school I went to seemed to placate him somewhat. We made the conversation into one of comparing notes on life experiences. After he left a young migrant woman thanked us for expressing our opinion - something she would have been too scared to do.

That is the quandary. Often the things that matter - the issues for which a opinion needs expressing - are also things that may risk provoking adverse responses. Does one take a stand or does one play it safe? Prejudice needs to be challenged but that involves exiting ones comfort zone. Can I become less of a pansy? Maybe that can be a New Year's resolution...

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14.12.08

Changes Berk

My last post fell far short of its potential. I say how I have been blogging for three years and then say nothing of what I have experienced in that time. So in this post I will talk about me rather than Carl Sagan...

The other thing once I had published that post was to think "after three years it is time to change the look of this blog". So I chose a new template for it. In the process I lost some of the specific sidebar links I had originally inserted and had to redo them from scratch. But life has changed and the links therefore have changed too. So what has changed for me?

Home

In that time I have continued to live with the same housemates. We have a knack of coexisting which combines a sufficient level of both consultation and non-interference. We only comment on something if it truly matters. It helps that we are pretty tolerant. It also helps that we are long-standing friends. This is a rare thing to have so I will look to maintaining it for as long as it works and serves my needs.

However, while my household has stayed the same, I have lived in three premises in my blogging time. The factors that went into the decisions to are too mundane for me to bother with here. What I will say is that moving provides a fantastic opportunity to get rid of a whole lot of stuff one no longer needs. Ironically I now have a bigger room but fewer possessions than I did in the last place. Other factors in life have allowed for having less stuff - becoming politically non-active means I get a lot less paperwork coming into my life.

Work

I have gone in my blogging time from part-time to full-time work. This change has pros and cons for me. I am honestly too attached to having spare time and flexibility of time-commitments that part-time work allowed. I find the demands of five-days-a-week difficult to cope with. Sleep has become so attractive that I recently have been dreaming of sleep. But I am determined to keep an interesting mix of things in my life so sleep sometimes suffers.

Then some of the things I want to do have to be prioritised. Solitary pasttimes such as creative writing suffer because getting away from the house for a walk on the Scotchmans Creek or hanging with friends are more attractive. I think another factor here is that if one works all day in front of a computer then one is hardly likely to then want to play with a computer at night (this is one factor separating me from my many geek friends).

I am having a lot more money to use. What is interesting however is that I still live like a skinflint. I walked from an inner suburb to the City a few nights ago just to get the Nightrider home despite the fact I can totally afford a taxi home at present. I have worn out two crappy pairs of leather shoes since starting my current job back in April and it was only last week that I bit the bullet and spent over $100 on some new shoes. The one area in which I am happy to spend more is on fun things or on friends - shouting student friends to dinner for instance is now simplicity itself.

Politics

My blogging time corresponds to the final phase of my involvement in the Australian Democrats (I am currently on the books as an associate member of the Victorian Division but have done bugger-all for the party since the last Federal Election). We have suffered so much collectively and individually (well the ones of us who ever put any kind of personal investment in the thing) and the end result is that I am spent as both an Australian Democrat and as any kind of political activist.

As a result dabbling in things like the peace movement is gone (sorry Nuclear Free Australia). Avidly following political news is gone since it seems I always needed the incentive of involvement to do that. Supporting the next-best political party is off my personal agenda because of the "all is fair in love and war" culture of that party and the way I have personally been subjected to that (mind you I did vote for a Green in recent local government elections).

I am left with a few things however. I have a vast body of experience and understanding - one day it may come in handy for me or others. I have the scholarly interest in aspects of politics that I started off with (I still want to further develop supporting text for my Political Objectives Test). And I still have some good friends from my party days - we need to make more effort to keep in contact than we do.

Pasttimes

Party politics may have gone but I have a new activity that gives me plenty to do. I have been a member of MonUCS in the past but somehow it never worked for me back then. There was a lack of 'culture-fit' and frankly I was then too timid to overcome that. I have been an active member now since O-Week 2006 and this time it has worked. I am that bit more confident in new and different settings (something for which I have the Australian Democrats to thank). Also however they are just that bit more like the kind of group I always fit into. And with that has come something I need - challenge.

I am lazy and scared. I shrink away from anything new and different including anything that I find difficult. I find part-singing difficult. The best thing I can say for my singing is that I have a nice timbre. But I am severely lacking in technical ability (including memory and mental agility). But I try. I am given a chance to try. Last night I was in a caroling gig in which we covered all four parts with just seven choristers. It was scary but still I managed. Mistakes were made to be sure but I am aware that a significant part of performance art is 'smoke and mirrors' - we know we make mistakes but the audience (lovely elderly citizens at the Huntingdale Golf Club) are only aware that we are singing in a way that they cannot and lending something different to the atmosphere of their festive dinner.

Friendships

I have always had some excellent friends as well as the luxury of one or more big friendship groups from which to draw such friends. Nonetheless there was a time - awful as it is to admit - that I was kind of tired of my old friends. Nothing seemed new and interesting in them. And - yes - the fact that my scene was 'overgrazed' in terms of intimate relationships was a factor in this. I wanted something fresh in my life. I even sat down one day in a public library with the White Pages just to see what ways existed for meeting others - from my past method of common-interest groups to (yikes) the notion of dating sites! That exercise left me at a loss (and if an imaginative person like me felt that way how must so many in society feel?).

That was several months before I started blogging. A few months after I started blogging I was wandering around Monash Uni O-Week. I was there to visit friends in groups like FOME but it also struck me how O-Week is a 'sampler' of all the interests and hobbies that society has to offer. I collected information on something I had never done before (waterpolo) and on something I had done (choral music). I then examined the dates and times that these two groups regularly met. In the end it was logistics rather than personal preference that decided which of these two I went to and I went to MonUCS. It was one of those moments in life in which the path divides into two and one walks along one of those paths. I went for something old rather than something new but sometimes "everything old is new again" and that holds true for me.

As a result of mixing in a new and different cross-section of society I started to find relationships happening (mind you some old friends forcing a mobile phone on me may have helped too). And the interesting thing is that the more others observe one as a person in a relationship the more they will themselves consider you at some future time as worthy of dating. I had spent huge swathes of my life 'between relationships' (a worthwhile experience for me in that it has helped me to be emotionally self-sufficient). Suddenly however it seemed I was getting interest from one or more directions. Just as well I am a sober person or I may have got intoxicated by this atmosphere and taken advantage of others (the risk is definitely there).

I think it is important for me that I was spending time with new friends within a new setting. In a scene that is regularly getting new participants (like Korner) those new participants will quickly be invested with the old assumptions of the group. If you are regarded (for instance) as a nice friend but never as a candidate for partner then that will be perpetuated. Old impressions last. But with a new setting I find I have had the chance to be just that bit more attractive a person. And that seems to be something I can now carry back to older settings. I feel that I am perceived just a bit differently now with older friends as a result of the way my newer friends have allowed me to be. And with that I have a renewed appreciation of my older friends. Some of us have been together forever now it seems and it is my hope that we will continue to do so.

Aging

Changes in my life have made me feel younger and fresher. But the fact is that I am getting older. I cannot say I am a 'young adult' anymore despite my behaviour and living circumstances. My body has been telling me this - so has my doctor. One thing that hit this home to me was the fact that I now take a tablet to combat a genetic propensity to too many Triglycerides in the blood. This came as a bit of a shock to me twelve months ago. I have always taken medicine for Asthma but this was new and different - this was an 'old person condition'. I am aging. Life expectancy tells me that I may be something like half-way between birth and natural death.

That is a whole lotta time but still this is a sobering moment. It makes me look at things a bit differently. I have decided I need to spend more time with my parents (a bit of a challenge logistically since they are divorced) because they are very much at the other end of that timeline. And have to work better to find a balance between 'deferred gratification' - which helps one live longer better - and living in the moment because that is ultimately all we ever have.

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