On the first day of Winter
The third Angus Wallpaper of the Month.
Now into its third month of making my journal just that little bit less narcissistic.
The third Angus Wallpaper of the Month.
Now into its third month of making my journal just that little bit less narcissistic.
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The woman with the fake tan stepped into my office, sat across from my desk and lit a cigarette.
At least, she would, sometime in the next 20 minutes. Smelling the future has advantages, but precision isn’t one of them.
Last night I went to bed with some wine in me and my socks on.
This morning I woke up and the first thing I noticed was two neatly laid out socks on the pillow next to my head. The second thing I noticed was that I wasn't wearing socks.
I could sense Dale groan as the latest passenger selected the eighth floor. The lift would now be bussing its way up every floor of the building. I didn't empathise.
'Jackpot!' I enthused to Ben, who was top floor management and both wearing a tie despite his responsibility for the business casual policy as well as being squished next to me at the back.
'Jackpot!' he replied, 'God, it's been a while since I've seen one of those!'
'Going on three weeks!' I recalled over the sound of the ninth ding in the past few minutes.
'Well Ben, this is my stop' I said to his imminent chuckle.
'Ah, well good to see you' he replied. We should catch up again soon, let me know next time you go downstairs for coffee.'
'Definitely' I winked as the doors slid shut and I stepped out. Dale peeled himself from my back.
'Ben signs our payslips' I answered his unasked question. 'That's why we lie.'
'About the jackpot...'
'Right. Yeah, we stopped at every floor yesterday. And on Monday. But lying is better than awkward silences.'
Dale just rolled his eyes. I'd noticed a change in him since last Tuesday, I was yet to identify why. I figured he needed more coaching.
'It's good to have a back up conversations related to office topics. Just pleasantries. Stereotypical jokes that everyone chuckles at despite hearing them all the time.'
'So,' probed Dale, 'that's why we say "Jackpot" when every floor gets picked?'
'Right,' I confirmed. 'And we say "I need a coffee" whenever we get given work in the morning.'
'I guess' Dale replied non-committal.
'I know why you're grumpy!' I guessed. 'Hump Day!'
'The middle of the week, the most isolated day of the work day. Last weekend is forgotten, next weekend is still to far away...'
'And that's supposed to cheer me up?' Dale asked as we arrived back at our desks.
'Well, we are going to the bar tonight. You coming?'
'I thought we go to the bar after work on Fridays?' he countered.
'No we go to the bar during work on Fridays.'
'Oh.' Dale processed. 'I'll pass.'
'Awww,' I patronised. 'Sounds like someone hasn't got over their case of The Mondays.'
Like a starters gun, Dale counted five minutes of desk appearance from that office pleasantry, then walked away. It may be hump day but what Dale needed more was a Smoothycino.
In his left hand Dale carried his Smoothycino. With the right he wiped the rain from his face. He stood in the lobby, momentarily, before the lift dinged and a crowd filed in. Dale selected the ninth floor then retired to the back of the lift. From there he saw a slender, manicured finger select the tenth. Dale's mind raced of tales about eyes meeting across crowded rooms. But this time it wasn't a room, it was an elevator, not an eye but a finger. The Smoothycino he held melted faster than it should as he watched her brown eyes stare vacantly at the doors in front of her while all those between them departed onto the lower floors.
Finally it was just the two of them in the elevator now as Dale's second to top stop arrived. It was a regular scenario borne from a multitude of delays. However this time Dale sensed an opportunity, a chance to grow. Time stood still, as if it was waiting for him to grow the balls.
'You must get sick of being on the top floor sometimes' he offered.
She looked at him. She was pretty.
'Yeah...' she smiled, melting Dale's heart, 'but... the view's good from up there too!'
Two shots of finely ground coffee were already flowing through Dale's veins. The caffeine's diuretic effect spilled into his orbital frontal cortex.
'The view's not so bad in here either...'
She frowned at him! Dale froze, staring back. Hope, awkwardness and shame were written up on his face.
'I think you may have gone beyond office pleasantries' she chillingly read between the lines.
'Oh...' muttered Dale. Inside his head the reaction was a lot more vulgar. For what seemed like minutes Dale just stood staring stupidly.
'Are you getting off now, or just going to keep standing there?' she asked him.
Dale looked around stupidly.
'The doors won't close; you've been standing across the sensor for at least five minutes.'
'Smart and good looking!' was, for some reason, Dale's response. The mood lightened. She laughed.
'Listen, I'm Bry' she said. 'and if you'll agree to get off now I won't ignore you in the lift in the days following all this gaucheness.'
This seemed like a good deal. She offered her hand. Dale took it and shook. He assumed slamming the emergency stop, pushing her against the wall and madly making out with her would also be beyond office pleasantries.
'It's a pleasure to meet you' he said.
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Recently I have both developed and noticed a minor idiosyncrasy.
I am a casual winker. (WINKER!) However it has been getting progressively worse. I basically wink every day. It's not a random wink though, it's what I call my "that's right" wink. It's an arrogant little facial flex I use when I'm too lazy or cool to say "that's right". Which happens more often than you think because people often ask me questions like 'Are you coming for coffee?' and 'Is this train going to Belair?'
The problem with this comes from my natural urge to analyse things and process them with my inner dialogue. So very often when I come to a realisation about a puzzle I've been mulling over in my head, I'll wink.
It was when I first noticed this phenomena that I processed what I've just written here. It was on that day I coined the term 'That's Right Wink' after identifying the pattern. Of course, like all other conclusions once I reached this I winked.
Given my propensity to get sidetracked by things I've already thought about, now every time I wink I think back to my realisation about the wink.
So recently I have both developed and noticed a minor idiosyncrasy; I keep winking twice.
I woke up this morning and I was the coldest I'd ever been. Well, not literally. I mean this day last year it got down to zero and once I did visit the snow and make a snow-woman with boobs, but they were all a while ago. Too long passed to still have attributed temperatures. So getting out of bed it was the coldest I'd ever been.
The sun was out though, and I had the day off work so I could study for exams. This meant watching NBA finals, going to the seaside for lunch followed by the gym. My exam is in that gym after all, so I was getting acclimatised. So with all that sun, gambling and working out I was hot. Hotter than I've ever been.
But after I cooled down from the gym my neck was sore. Sorer than it had ever been. So I set the spa to 40 degrees and went inside to study.
After recapping identifying business opportunities and business entry methods it was midnight and I figured it was time for a spa. So I stripped down to my bathers and walked outside. It was cold. In the spa it was hot. I was slowly being cooked as the tension in my neck was boiled away. It was so hot my skin prickled. I was hotter than I'd ever been.
Once simmered, it took me eight minutes to get out of the spa and back into the brisk night air. The wind rallied chills that racked my wet body and stuck to me. My bathers attached to my legs like an icy blowjob. I was cold, colder than I'd ever been. Even considering all the recent, attributable memories.
I dropped my bathers and made a naked sprint to be in my living room. There I was alone, but warm thanks to the wood stove that was bathing the room in its enticing glow. Wrapped in a towel I stood and slowly evaporated back to room temperature.
I had a thought as I dropped my towel. I turned to face the fire, only inches away. The warm draft curled between my legs. I made a mental note to install a fireplace into the bathroom. My balls were lifted by the gentle warmth and I was there, happy, happier than I'd ever been.
Tomorrow is my last day as a university student. Ever. This is scary. Also I wrote a bunch about it but then FireFox loaded a link in this tab and I lost it all. It was deep and insightful. Oh well.
I'm now officially highly educated. Any spelling mistakes in this entry will be highly eyeronic. Oh wait, I guess not.
Today was not a good day for To Do lists. Not the weekly to do list I draw on my bedroom window with whiteboard marker. No, a bad day for my yearly goals to do list, scrawled on butcher paper from Woolworths and stuck on my bedroom door. I crossed off three things from it today, big things.
Pass uni was one of them. It's gone.
Finish my Elimination Final tribute frame. That's done. I bought the frame and cardboard at Marion after the exam.
Finally I finished reading 'Social Intelligence' by Daniel Goleman. A great book which gives the psychological and neurological details about human behaviour in a very easy to read way.
I would almost have been able to cross of producing the Faux Pas mixtape except this one Goose song is terrifically difficult to mix out because it ends so loudly and abruptly.
My brain hurts, I left a little piece of it on desk 5L.
Today was the nonchalant beginning of the rest of my life. Figuratively speaking. I was at work for what I suspect may be my career. Trying to avoid all of that I was speaking to Josh through Meebo and he greeted me to the 'Real World', at the same time warning me that it would get 'kind of samey'.
Not to worry, I believed, I'll be able to spice it up with the same jazz I've applied to every other bland meal that fate has dished up.
Seeing that my first day out of higher education was, ironically, spent training in diluted amounts I was afforded the chance to peruse for lunch. This, perhaps by design, took longer than expected and so I found myself in the bowels of Woolworths, Rundle Mall with a very angry stomach and cans of chunky soup for $1.99 each. Of course I reasoned I could finish two cans. This week I'm all about reaching lofty goals. I bought a bread roll as well.
By 2pm, after not finding a large enough bowl in any of the kitchenettes and resorting to a Tupperware cake container I found in the trays and jugs section, I had 8 minutes worth of boiling soup: 130mls heated per minute. I also had one semi-large tea-spoon. It was the best implement I'd found during that eighth of an hour microwaving. 30 seconds later that spoon was submerged somewhere in a pool of chunky potato and bacon soup and I was digging it out with a pair of paddle-pop sticks.
After the hour it took me to finish that soup I realised that, yes, the soup was bland. But as usual something had come along to spice up my life once again. Then I caught the early train home.
I got my HECS debt statement today. The last 4 years of uni shenanigans has cost me 20 grand.
I'm going to have to win a lot of blackjack to pay that off.
A hard day at the office wasn't measure by how much code was designed, reviewed, or added to source control. Any conception that a busy day would involve actual work was severely misguided. The method Dale used to measure how intense his day went was to count the number of emails he sent. Or alternatively he'd check if he'd stayed at work past five.
It wasn't that actually working was too challenging or too drab. If Dale told the truth he'd say it was his favourite thing to do at work. The occasional puzzles to solve, solutions to be implemented and added satisfaction of a job completed were fulfilling, and in a different way than being invited to a team lunch for one department and team drinks for another department on the same day was fulfilling. But white collar workers aren't bred to spend all their time working. Their duty is instead to spend most of their time passing work around via emails like a pinball, bouncing from cubicle to cubicle and shore to shore with attached discussions about what work needed to be done, but never with an impolite accusation at whoever needed to do it. Merely the suggestion to investigate it and then most likely pass it back.
That's not to say that passing work around is in itself a difficult task. But for someone as socially impotent as Dale an increase in the volume of emails equated to an increase in a days mental effort.
'Is Chandra Singh a dude or a chick?' Dale asked me.
'No idea.' I replied. 'Just start it with "Greetings".'
'Can't do it.' said Dale. 'I need to refer to them with an assignment, as in "I need him, or her, to do this work for me".'
'Don't worry; we have online tools for this kind of thing.' I laughed.
A few minutes later Dale still had no answer.
'Google India image search comes back with mostly women for "Chandra" but it's pretty much all dudes for "Chandra Singh.'
We both pondered.
'I'll just tell them to get Russell Shah to do it.' Dale decided.
'Ah, poor Russell.' I said. By this stage of the project Russell was probably getting seriously overburdened.
Dale stared at the open email composition window, left now with only the most important detail, the sign off. Company policy dictated the structure and formatting of his actual signature. Thankfully, however it did not clearly specify what word he should write above his signature, followed by a comma.
'This is me telling them to investigate' Dale considered aloud. 'So I can't use "cheers" really. And they don't work for me so I can't use "regards" either.'
'Thanks?' I asked him.
'No,' he frowned, 'I used that yesterday.'
After six minutes of nothing else Dale decided that "warm regards," would add a friendly informality which he thought may help with his relationship with Russell given the amount of work he kept giving him. The send button was his flipper and he bounced all of the work he'd been given for Thursday into pinball limbo.
'What time is it now in Chennai?' Dale asked me.
'7:50 in the morning, won't be anyone there for a while'
'Sounds like we've got time to get a coffee then.' He said.
We both chuckled. There was always time to get a coffee.
'Might get a muffin too!' Dale didn't chuckle again, just nodded solemnly.
I locked my desktop. Dale turned off the 'Free Shot' light above the drain.
The Tides of Electric Circus
What kind of human nature compels one to line up for 30 minutes? The quest for a $20 door charge to drink beer in a cramped environment? Prestige? The quest for one of your friends to perhaps get some pussy in Operation: Rebound?
Why do people line up for small venues when really there's nothing particularly special inside? Sure, the barman was both friendly and generous and the door lady was quite attractive but that wasn't my motivation. What was my motivation? Running personal protection for the friend above. The tides of the electric circus line aren't scheduled by the moon, the people rise and swell even without the moon to pull them. I swear to god my back pocket was reached into at least three times. I managed to manoeuvre a glance behind at least once and I'd testify someone was blowing their nose with one of my backup tissues. I had arms, legs, hips, breasts and stomachs crushed into my back for twenty minutes and I held strong until I unexpectedly found myself in the club and overwhelmed by the new tides, the rise and fall of Calvin Harris.
The Tides of Vindaloo
Every speed bump I've driven over since Friday night has reminded my oesophagus and by association myself of the extra hot vindaloo I ordered and consumed on Friday night. The tides of vindaloo are not like normal tides either. They don't raise and lower like a moon controlled draw bridge. They lurk and snigger, waiting for moments like basketball games or important phone calls to swell. No one believed I could handle the sweat inducing curry last night. No one will believe how solid an effort it truly was, even the waitress was impressed.
This took way to many weeks.
Dale stifled a yawn as he tried his best to appear impatient, with a dance of shuffling and glancing. He stood in the lobby watching with interest as the floor numbers digitalised above each lift bay jumped between ten and two. On his watch were the same numbers, there reading nine four six. A lift chimed. Doors split open and each of the latecomers filed in.
This crowd of tardiness Dale had come to attribute to the Friday Principle, wherein lateness was permitted to a percentage of normal weekday lateness. For Dale that was fifty percent – around 22 minutes - or one train later. Dale treated the rigidness of scheduled start times with the same respect the family of managers above him gave to spending budgets for new projects.
The doors joined again and the lift began traversing upwards, just momentarily, before shuddering to a stop on the first floor. A small contingent of extras joined the lift and like a team of childish inquisitiveness began lighting up the panel of selected floors until every one below Dales was chosen.
'Can you feel it?' a feminine voice whispered next to his ear.
He turned to see Bry, who looked particularly astonishing in her chosen casual Friday outfit, although without breaching any level of office conservatism.
'Feel what?' Dale's heart beat faster. 'Oh, shit! Uh... ever floor's lit up. It's like that...' his brain fumbled.
'No!' grinned Bry over the sound of another floor achieved 'bing'. 'The Pressure! The pressure to be late without being too late.'
'I'm feeling more pressure regarding making small talk' he admitted, after an awkward, considering pause.
She laughed in what was quickly becoming a disturbingly empty lift.
'You just need more interesting things to say' she said.
'Like about how we're running late but not too late?'
'Mmmm' she hummed, like the fan on a server box, processing his feelings and returning responses. 'I have this theory: that on Friday it's alright to be late to a certain percentage of how late you are normally, but increased. I think that's interesting.'
Dale pondered this.
'I'm interesting' he thought. 'I don't think the world is interested in my interestingness though. I don't think she's interested in my interesting interestingness. Hey... that's my theory.'
Her eyes contacted his, dragging them back to the conversation.
'Like that!' she said. 'You're thinking something, you should be saying something!'
He furrowed momentarily, and then asked: 'So, got much planned for the weekend?'
'Gosh!' she said. 'What a dull question!'
Dale looked about, embarrassed, but the lift was now rising with only two onboard. It reached the ninth floor.
'Sorry,' he started. 'I'll get better at small talk...'
'Oops! Forgot my floor!' Bry interjected, stabbing the tiny '10', illuminating the last of the lights.
'Checkm... Bing... Yahtz...' Dale stammered.
Bry laughed warmly, but with firmly eyebrows raised.
'You're going to start getting my emails' she said. 'Hopefully that will give us something to talk about.'
Dale's feet found carpet; perplexed. The doors closed on her as she waved goodbye.
'...Jackpot' whispered Dale.
Seventeen months ago I was hurtling through darkness across the Nullarbor. It would have been about 3:40am, but that seems specific and betrays the fact that I really don't know the time. That's without considering the difficulties of time difference with daylight savings factored as well.
That morning, which I think was yesterday morning, I'd been asleep in my bed. But that was a pie, two iced coffees, a bouncy ball, a couple of abos and a schnitzel away. Thousands of kilometres on cruise control. A pipeline had been followed that I don't think had started yet. I was on the longest straight length of road in the southern hemisphere and simultaneously asleep. Or awake. I remember very shitty coffee which I was more thank thankful for. Just the concept of working out how shitty it was bought me minutes of consciousness.
In the back-seat my Dad and brother were sleeping in seats were I was either not sleeping or maybe sleeping. I hadn't slept at all since being in my bed, but I'd woken up over the Western Australia border.
In the front passenger seat was Steve. He was also staying awake through coffee analysis, push-ups and reading a fantasy novel in the light of the glovebox.
'Fox!' I spotted it first. That's how roadkill poker worked. Whatever you spotted first you added to your hand and whoever got the best hand won. I was almost on a full house. Two dead roos and two dead bunnies. Steve had three foxes and an echidna. It was going to be close.
'Fox!' I repeated, blinking rapidly as I realised it was 2 hours later and I was in the passenger seat. My fingers touched my chest, feeling the saliva that had trailed down my shirt. I didn't remember all the micro sleeps that had prevailed. I didn't remember the sun.
'Thanks' said Steve. Driving across the Nullarbor at night is essentially just turning your high beams off when trucks approach. Doesn't seem that complicated compared to real life, which was spreading a distance away now.
I woke up in the backseat. I'd chosen 15 minutes of napping over showering at a truck stop. The sun was rising, but not in a shining way. It was grey, the sun was fucking lazy. Casting monochrome illumination over wherever we were. I eventually roused myself upright and sought out a sandwich and juice. I made eye contact with Steve as we mentally acknowledged that we'd spent six hours and six hundred kilometres forging through the darkness with essentially the power of our minds.
I woke up again. I'd chosen 10 minutes of napping over showering at the truck stop. I could smell the steam over the scents of my dreams. We were eight overtaking lanes away from where I thought we were in the last paragraph. A totalled car was wrecked next to where we parked, dragged to the rest stop from wherever whoever had died. I stretched my legs for the sake of the cliché. The summer dirt seemed damp. I went back to drooling on my self, hung from a seatbelt above a pillow.
Two weeks ago Alex turned 18. In another week my Dad turns 50. By the end of the year Steve turns 21. This ramble basically proves I cannot describe the value I have for these three people in my life, my brothers and my father. My whole life I'm basically in a tiny cabin hurtling into the unknown with only their support, conversation, teasing and character to drive me on. I'm independent, I could live without them. But with them I can achieve those impossible things.
I'm the only one not celebrating a milestone life anniversary this year, which makes me feel strange. Because they all seem to be pretty secure in their paths, tracked along pipelines, whereas right now I feel like I'm hurtling into the unknown darkness without enough sleep. Every time I close my eyes I can remember the uncertainty that's ahead. But It's remembering moments like that trip that I know that I'm never alone. And I remember that sunshine and model hills are found in any direction. Whether they're in your dreams or after you wake up I'm still learning.
Happy Birthday kin.