Lazy Luddite Log



Back in 2010 I wrote an ‘autoblography’ in four installments, each covering five years of adult life from eighteen to thirty eight. That done I moved onto other things. 2015 passed me by and now in 2020 I reckon it would be worth giving my latest decade similar coverage. So here is what I recall was significant for me from 2011 to 2015.

I consider July 2012 to be the best month of my life. I had recently finished a stint in data-entry for the latest Australian Census. This surprisingly fun role had left me with plenty of back-pay and I was living a life of leisure. I did some interstate travel. I participated in my favourite intervarsity choral festival of MIV. I hosted a cracking fortieth birthday party. And my love life was coming along rather well. I call it the best month of my life and I even suspected as much back then. It is good to be aware of such happy times while they are happening. But I need to backtrack a bit.

I started a new and recurring interstate fling part-way into 2011 that lasted till late 2013. I also entered into a non-exclusive yet committed relationship from 2012 which overlapped with that fling. I fondly recall a relevant moment from MIV. I was lunching with both those concerned but then excused myself to visit the loo. They took the chance to confirm that everything was fine between them. Consent was assured in a warm yet matter-of-fact way. I recommend excusing yourself as something to do during gatherings. You never know if your friends need to ‘talk behind your back’ and it may well be for your benefit – they could for instance be organizing a surprise party for you!

Since 2012 my relationship with Belinda continued in the form of regular dating and communication. We became companions rather than partners (terms I use to distinguish between the meeting and the merging of lives). Our relationship is non-exclusive partly because she had even older commitments that have since been confirmed by cultural marriage. I may have other interactions if the opportunity arises (keeping in mind that I’m rather reserved and somewhat fussy). And I can be considered polyamorous simply because I have the ability to share.

Moving in a choral scene had definitely given me much but I think I made a contribution too. Till the end of 2012 I was MonUCS social-secretary. I enjoyed this so much more than any sort of party-political role. My task was to facilitate fun for others, something I do in my personal life anyway. I organized pretty much everything I had intended, from a hedge maze visit to nights for bowling and pool, and retired from the committee after two years. But I stuck with MonUCS and averaged singing in two concerts in every three. By then I felt I knew who my personal friends were and we did more stuff among ourselves. I even started a role-play game with mostly choral friends in late 2013.

Also in 2013 I started working as a sometime invigilator and then note-taker and integration aid at tertiary institutions. If the Australian Census had been my best employer, this would over time become the role that suited me best. It was in education but had the freedom and variety that teaching had lacked. It was casual but I was soon getting more and more shifts. It was of definite value to those I served but it could at times be edifying for me too.

Alongside work I made occasional contributions to civic life. One involved getting choral friends Jess and Paul along to a meet-the-candidates event. Another was to be an interviewee for an oral history project in 2014.

I have had a look over my photos from the time and they remind me of assorted things worth remembering. I had the regular company of Belinda on dates involving everything from Mongolian barbeque to boating at Fairfield Park. Holidaying with London visitors Steve & Nieves was always a good way to see old friends like Sean, Jen, Paul & Helen all at once (rare in our ever-more distinct adult lives). There were some fine costumes on show at Halloween parties held at Greta Street. And other events with Korner friends included seeing the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary special at the Jam Factory, witnessing a roller-derby game complete with ska band, and dog-sitting for the Bowies.

A few things changed in 2015. One was that my long-time share arrangement ended and I moved a mile into a neigbouring suburb. It was surprising what this small shift did to my preferred public transport routes and shopping destinations. Some old routines changed as it took more effort to attend MonUCS and less to attend half of Craft nights (since I now lived in one of the two houses that hosted it). Dad visited on one occasion seemingly to check that my new abode was okay. There was an unusual sense of purpose to his visit. Soon I think I discovered why.

In July a close friend of Dad pressured him into calling Lukas and I to tell us he had lung cancer. We went into a frenzy of calm yet grave activity. He was taking what medical help he could. Some of that time he spent at home with help from others. Some of it he spent in hospital and the last few weeks in a hospice receiving palliative care. It was September and he enjoyed having the door of his room left ajar to better smell the springtime garden he could otherwise only see. We made sure his friends knew and got a chance to visit or call. We did what we could. Dad died at the age of 76. He had been smoking for over five decades and I think he got away with more than many smokers do. Only six months before he had been camping with amateur prospector friends. Only three months before he had been living independently and taking walks at his local beach. And even in his last week he managed to enjoy small things like dark chocolate. That is the sort of talk that informed his eulogy.

Organizing the funeral that October was a lot of work, especially in a small family. Our parents had been divorced for decades and Mum could do barely more than ask how things were and confirm the odd fact for us to pass onto the civil celebrant. Dad's own relatives were far away in Germany. Still I think Lukas and I did well – friends of Dad even commented that they now had a model of simplicity for their own funerals. But it made me feel older somehow. Surely it was the sadness and stress of it all and yet, I almost feel as if the death of a parent triggered aging itself in me.

Well, that was a lot of ground to cover and a huge contrast from start to finish. I will give it a rest now and return to this topic in six months to cover 2016-2020 at the tenth anniversary of my ‘autoblography’.