Sundale - A Mondale Retrospective

Five months ago I was walking home across a vacant sports field in Engadine, listening to music and thinking about story writing. This is a common scenario in my life. I had probably just listened to Rebellion (Lies) by The Arcade Fire because that song makes me think about story telling. I don't think I could ever write a major motion picture based on one of my novels without having that song somewhere on the soundtrack. I'm getting ahead of myself..

One day I would like to have movies based on my novels. Before I have novels I need to write stories, and to create stories I have to, well, write. To write you need characters and when it comes to characters I don't have many, but I do have Dale.

I've always liked writing, but I have a personality where I expect a high standard of my creations almost immediately and writing is one of those things where your first draft will almost always be rubbish. It's very easy to become discouraged. I've written a few short stories in my time, and started and left unfinished many more. I've also come up with four novel ideas in the past five years where I've written about a chapter of each before giving up. One of those books featured Dale. Two of the other story lines I figured Dale could participate in. So I thought if I was semi-motivated to write three stories I should be able to completely motivate myself to write three of them into one tale and as Dale was my most established character then it could be him being the star of an opening credit's vignette while Montreal indie rock played over the top.
And, before I'd arrived home I'd talked myself out of it completely.

After Winter came and I found myself with the time and energy constraints of a more demanding job and a longer commute it made my want to write skyrocket. Perhaps because I'd rather retire to the background of a dust-jacket photo sooner rather than later, perhaps because I started reading more than before on those long commutes, and also experiecing more inter-personal events than I did as a 100% teleworker. So, I decided to write that story of Dale, and to force me to write it I vowed I would publish one snippet every Mondale no matter how rough it was.

I'm quite happy with my decision to force myself to write, even though The Tales of Dale did not go in any of the directions that I'd originally planned. Writing to a schedule and with a target of quantity taught me a lot about how to write and what I should have done to develop and advance a plot. I learnt a lot of things I should do by learning what not to do. It was very rewarding. I received a bit of criticism for the stories I wrote, warranted, and the demand to keep producing eeked out some real stinky stuff. It also forced me to improve my writing to overcome those complaints, and by the end when I had ten thousand words of Dale stories I could see as a draft, I saw ways of pacing, foreshadowing, and hiding guns that I'd known about in theory but never been able to put into practice. A lot of the content will go through the metaphysical shredder, but I can edit, rearrange and change some of what I've written into something better.

Lastly, in this semi-apology for anyone who read through every word of every story I wrote out of love for me rather than any actual interest in the plot, I want to say that building characters is one of the coolest things that the human brain can do. Dale, Karl and to a lesser extent the rest of the gang are as three dimensional as a braille limerick as this point, but the more I wrote them the more they came to life to me. They started to do, and mainly say things that I never expected or planned to say. Sure, those things were mainly "ordering coffee" or "complaining about catching a train", but they did it themselves. It's amazing to write a dozen pages in one prolonged burst, read back afterwards and say "where did that part come from?"

I hope my readers found something worthwhile in reading Dale. He does share some qualities with me, and for that I thank him because it makes writing so much easier when you can relate to your main character. If this experience did make me a better writer then it will also hopefully mean you can read better things from me for free sometime soon. Essentially, I learnt that it's not the quality of your characters and ideas that help you write, those things help, but the most important thing is fundamentals and scheduling. It's true.

If you hate Dale, good news, he's gone for the rest of the year and you can read my upcoming thoughts about things like how to introduce polo shirts into a business shirt only office from my own perspective from now on.


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Simple Pleasures

I will now provide the context surrounding the moment this afternoon when my brain said "this, this is the life."

I was in a good mood. The ten minutes it had taken me to create two dozen similar symbolic links early in the day was already starting to show its potential increase in effeciency when the type of Unix command I type hundreds of times a week took half of the usual time. Plus, at about this point I was crossing the 40 hours of work for the week mark. This made my clueless brain feel as if the weekend was surely around the corner.

My attention turned to a perl script I was updating. First, however, I fetched some yogurt from the fridge, partly out of hunger and partly to celebrate my increase in corporate OPM. I returned to coding and put in my headphones. My music was on random and some glitch-hop/dubstep tune by Ill Gates started playing.

There I was, a man wearing business casual, sitting at a computer and eating yogurt with a dessert spoon straight out of the one kilo tub. Between mouthfuls I put the finishing touches on a ballin' perl subroutine, just as a thick, loud dubstep drop came through my earphones. Despite lacking both elegance and melody, the repetitive, pounding rhythm touched me somewhere primal and suddenly me writing my script and the first human - standing over a slain mammoth corpse - shared the same spiritual space and senses. He seemed confused by what dubstep was, but a lot less than you'd expect. And it made him feel pretty pro about hunting that mammoth to death.

Eleven

My Dad bought me my first watch when I was about seven or eight years old. It was a simple, black LCD watch which showed the hours and minutes, and if you held down one button it showed the date, and a different button switched the display to the current minute and second.

Shortly after I first buckled that watch to my wrist I fell in love with the number eleven. There was something magical about it. It was the only number that would ever fill every slot on the display with the same repeating digit. (It was a 24 hour watch, so technically it also did that at 22:22, however I was seven years old and this time existed only in theory).

Every day at 11:11 I would spend a whole minute feeling happy. I would tab between the hour : minute display and the minute : second display to make sure I caught the moment when the time was 11:11:11, and this was like some sort of numerical climax to me. I would then go back to playing with Lego or writing crappy stories or whatever things I do did with my time.

I quickly decided 11 was going to be my favourite number. This, I believed, made me pretty fucking unique compared to my peers. Most of them had 7 as their lucky number. They barely understood the concept of a two digit lucky number, one of them even said to me once "Your lucky number is '1', twice?'" What philistines. No wonder none of them have online journals. If they did I'm sure they would all read exactly the same.

I remember, the year of the first watch, how I yearned for November to come. Once it had, I counted down the days to November 11 and on that day I gleefully tabbed between the hour : minute, minute : second and day/month screens on my watch. For a wondrous second the time was nothing but rows of repeating "1"s. I didn't know much at the time, but it felt like the greatest thing mankind had achieved was creating the digital watch.

That November I was too young to have been taught about war and Remembrance Day, so a fuckton of 1s was all that mattered. A few years later when I did find out that November 11 was already a special day for non repeating number reasons I was immediately unimpressed and jealous.

Later in life bad things started happening to me on the eleventh of the month. In 2002 I broke my leg on July 11, caused a car accident on December 11. I injured my wrist on September 11 2008, and I'm pretty sure I caught a cold or something heinous on some other 11th somewhere in between. I decided 11 was my lucky number no more.

Now, even more years since then I have completely lost interest in the significance of eleven. So, when today's date was a long string of repeating "1"s I did not care at all. I especially did not have a 500 word long opinion about it. I don't have anything to say to elegantly finish this entry.

A Photo Entry

image 1047 from bradism.com


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Bangarang

The last few weeks I've been reading a lot of the medieval fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice. I've also been trying to teach myself how to play chess. I'm not sure if the two things originated from the same medieval curiosity, but I found this coincidence of concept amusing. Both have been very good methods of keeping myself entertained on the train. I read the second half of Storm of Swords, the best part of the series so far, in less than a week. I found myself almost looking forward to the long train journeys in some perverse way. They offered over an hour to read a book, and chess on my smart phone to play when I was too sweaty to read.

There's something awesome when you're in the middle of a good TV series or novel and all you want to do is escape from real life and pick the story back up. I had a thought, triggered by that feeling, that perhaps that could be what I was best at in life. Consuming media. There are many talented writers, musicians, photographers, video game developers and the older I grow the more obvious it becomes to me that I probably won't be joining their ranks. Watching TV, however, and reading, playing computer games, listening to music. I am so awesome at that. Next to convincing myself to have a beer on Sunday evening it's probably the most advanced talent I have.

At what point in life do you accept that you are average and embrace spending the rest of your life trying to balance making money with spending it on entertainment and experiences with friends and loved ones? If I spent less time trying to write and photograph and be creative, and dedicated that time to finding new and exciting limits of entertainment, how much more satisfied could I be?

After being thrashed countless times by programmed chess players who never make mistakes I decided I would stop trying to guess my way to chess mastery and I Googled chess opening strategies. After trying to read about them for about five minutes I then started watching YouTube videos on chess opening strategies. At this point it hit me that the way chess masters talk about chess is exactly the same way that Starcraft II pros sound when they talk over epic replays of 1v1 matches. Except instead of a strategy being first made famous by a Korean teenager in April, it's a strategy first made famous by an Italian in 1400. Obviously finding life's purpose by entertaining one's self is not a novel concept.

Preoccupied

'I don't understand what they're protesting,' said Kate.
'Money, basically,' said Susan. 'They're protesting because the system is rigged to support the rich and not the middle class.'
A waiter arrived with their coffees. Susan lifted her sunglasses and made eye contact with him, a thanks spoken in body-language only. The server winked at her in reply, and Kate saw. A snicker escaped.
'As I was saying,' Susan said, turning away from the waiter, 'That's why they call themselves the "ninety-nine percent." They're upset because they're the majority but the richest one percent has more than the rest of them combined.'
'Is that true though? Or just in America. I thought in Australia things are actually pretty good,' said Kate.
'I think we're better off here than America. I think they're out there protesting to show solidarity,' said Susan 'One world, you know? All connected.'
'Maybe,' said Kate. The two sipped their drinks, watching the small gathering of people chanting at the other end of the pedestrian mall. A light breeze blew between the city's towers; it cooled their coffee and fluttered the cardboard banners the protesters were waving. There were close to a hundred of them, although it wasn't obvious how many were activists and how many were photographers and gawkers. Under the shade of a close by shopfront two police officers stood, facing each other and holding a casual conversation, but each with an eye on the crowd.
'House the homeless!' a lanky campaigner with a long beard yelled at two passers-by. They appeared to be tourists, and ignored him.
'Greedy Bankers is Greedy,' the man yelled as they left.
'Fuck the police,' a blonde haired girl cried in the general direction of, but not specifically at the two constables.
'I don't think they know what they're protesting,' said Kate.
'They're probably all former student politicians who left uni after they got scared by how high their HELP debt was getting,' Susan said.
Kate nodded, watching with interest as a second pair of constables walked towards the group from the opposite side. They singled out the blonde and approached her. Several of her chivalrous male friends surrounded the three and a swearing competition occurred. The two officers ignored the curses and spoke a stern warning to the girl, words Susan and Kate were too far from to overhear.
The roar of jet engines overhead drowned out the antagonised crowd, and as the airspace cleared Susan heard a chime from her handbag. She pulled a phone out to check her message. As it loaded Kate's phone beeped too.
'A picture message,' said Susan. She used an older phone, and squinted at its tiny screen. 'What is that? Sand dunes? Some weird pile of cakes?'
Kate had a smart phone with a five inch AMOLED display that didn't reflect glare from the spring sun. In high definition she made out the details Susan missed.
'It's a penis,' said Kate, 'a penis and balls.'
'Ahhh,' groaned Susan, dropping the phone she'd been intently starting at onto the table, 'who?'
'Peter,' said Kate.
Susan chanced another look at her phone to check the sender. 'Yeah, Peter.'
The two exchanged uneasy glances. Peter had worked with them, until a month ago.
Both pairs of officers had met with the protesters now and the four policemen stood with their arms by their sides at the head of the crowd.
'What we should do,' said Susan, 'is steal all their banners and take them down George Street where that crowd of girls is camping out for the new Twilight movie premiere, and hand them out to them.'
'I would like to see the cops visit them with the water cannon mobile,' Kate agreed.
Cameras were being clicked rapidly, documenting the idle policemen. Several people sitting on nearby steps were hammering the keys on their laptops, sending updates via 3G modems to Facebook and Twitter.
'Peter was a bit weird, wasn't he?' said Kate.
'He was quiet; I never got the creepy vibe from him though.'
'Until now!' Kate glanced back down at her phone, and then hit the back button.
The police and protesters had separated, and four more officers had walked down the mall to help keep the peace. The eight of them stood sentry as the group chanted 'We. Are. The 99 Percent.' A young Indian guy walked past the police and to the edge of the demonstration. He unfurled a paper banner that read 'TEAM EDWARD' and held it above his head. His friend quickly ran close brandishing an iPhone and photographed him posing, the real activists filling the background.
'That's going on the internet,' said Kate as the two men retreated hastily, abandoning the banner at the protesters feet.
'Why do you think Peter sent us a picture of a penis?' Susan asked.
'I don't know, and I don't want to look at it to try and find some hidden message either.'
'Do you think it's his?'
Kate's phone beeped again.
'Ugh,' she said, but looked at it anyway. 'It's a message from Emily,' she told Susan after reading it. 'She says "Eww, that guy from your work that you gave my number to. First he never calls me and now he sent me a dick picture. WTF?!"'
'You gave him Emily's number?' Susan asked.
'They met at my housewarming. Emily asked about him, and then Peter told me he wasn't going to that work drinks because he wouldn't have a partner. I thought I could set them up.'
'Do you think he sent his picture to every girl he knows?'
'I don't know,' said Kate. 'Hey, let's ask Kevin if he got one.'
Kate tapped Kevin's name and held the phone to her ear. The protesters changed their chant, spelling out the word "occupy" and then explaining what it spelt. Kate used her free hand to block her other ear.
'Hello?' Kevin's voice answered her call.
'Hey, it's me. Strange question, did you get any weird messages today?'
'Weird?' said Kevin. 'Uh, no.'
'Oh, ok, don't...' said Kate.
'Unless you count a picture of Peter's rock hard schlong as "weird!"'
His laughter echoed out the speakers. Kate grimaced.
'Is it his penis?' she asked.
'Well, obviously I don't know for sure, but that little willy! It would explain why he always pissed in a cubicle with the door locked.'
'Ahh, too much info,' Kate warned.
'Wait,' said Kevin, 'so he sent it to you too? What a creeper!'
'Yeah, and Susan. Who else did he send it to?'
'Michael forwarded it to me, but I told him I seen it. Mike said all the dudes got it. Even Tim and Charles. I also got another photo of a penis on my phone, but I think no one's seen it yet. Should I forward it to you?'
'Bye, Kevin,' Kate said and hung up.
'Everyone got it,' Kate passed on to Susan, 'all of management, everyone.'
'Everyone?' said Susan. The protesters were chanting louder and the circle of police around them were standing tall and moving in closer. 'I think maybe I should call him. This doesn't really seem like something he'd do.'
Susan unlocked her phone and cleared the penis from the screen. She tapped the keys until she was in the address book. Four cyclists cruised down the mall, zooming between cafe and the protestors. They wore baseball caps instead of helmets. One was shirtless. Susan dialled Peter's number as the cyclists darted around activists and police. Several officers waved their hands and yelled irately, but the cyclists were deft and stayed out of reach.
Susan put the phone down. 'No answer, straight to voicemail.'
'He's probably on the phone explaining his penis to someone else,' Kate said, 'or his phone was hijacked and whoever sent the picture threw it in the harbour after they ruined half his friendships.'
One of the cyclists pushed his luck and was plucked from his seat by an officer, who pinned him to the pavement. The wheel on his upturned bicycle spun in the air. The protesters uttered an upset groan and changed their chant from "people over profits" to a chorus of "fuck the pigs". The remaining cyclists sped away. Officers in black uniforms and helmets were starting to assemble at the end of the mall. Photographers seemed to be spawning endlessly, swarming around the riled up crowd and peppering them with flash bursts. Unaffiliated pedestrians in the mall were dwindling, Susan and Kate watched from the end of the mall warily.
'I know,' said Susan, 'use your fancy phone to check Peter's Facebook. Maybe he posted an apology or some explanation.'
Kate's fingers tapped and wiped over the surface of her phone.
'I can't find him,' she said after a minute. 'I think he unfriended me.'
'Or deleted his profile. Can you check if he's still in my friend's list?'
'Ok,' said Kate, then 'No. He must have deleted his profile.'
'This feels wrong. I'm going to call him again.'
Susan tapped her phone and dialled Peter once more.

The blonde protester was standing a few feet from the main group, placed less than a foot from the face of a policewoman and chanting. The officer stared her down, saying nothing. In a sudden burst of movement a second blonde activist sprang from the back of the pack of the protesters in a stumbling, ungracious sprint.
'Still not answering,' said Susan.
The emerging blonde swung the wooden pole her banner was stapled to at the policewoman's face. She had no time to react and it clipped her cheek, sending her spinning. Blood arced through the air on impact and the first blonde shrieked. There was pandemonium. The riot police sprinted towards the scene while the nearer, uniformed officers tackled the assailant. Two male protesters emerged to scuffle, but they too were restrained, their arms twisted behind their backs as they struggled. The rest of the activists dropped their signs and huddled together in a mass by a wall. Most had their hands up. Police and photographers surrounded the cluster. The "Team Edward" placard was caught against a step close to the violent blonde's foot, and as it flapped in the breeze the blood spatter across it was obvious.
'Jesus,' said Kate, resting her empty coffee cup on the table. 'Idiots.'
'Have you seen or spoken to Peter at all, since he quit?' asked Susan.
'No, have you?'
'No,' said Susan. 'I can't shake this bad feeling.'
'What?' said Kate, 'that he's slipped after a shower while holding his phone and accidentally took a photo of his junk and then sent it to his all his contacts before he cracked his head? That he's been kidnapped by a Mexican cartel and that was some weird ransom note? That he's killed himself and sent everyone he knows a photo of his dick as some ultimate, pointless "fuck you" protest?'
There were sirens now, a harmony of sirens. The sun still shone bright, but Susan started shivering.

Idea

Volunteer to work with terminally ill children.
Win their trust with my sense of humour and fairy tale height.
Be their friend in their time of need.
Make them smile and laugh.
After they die, inherit their Lego.

It was a dark and stormy night

For the entire day it rained. I didn't see much of it. The only time I ventured out of the house was for a 9pm basketball game. We did not win. After, on the drive home, I filled up with petrol and then walked through the rain to pay. I was wearing my singlet, Jordan shorts and thongs, and steam was still leaving my shoulders as my heat met the cold air.
The shop attendant asked me "do you play basketball?"

"Yes," I said.

"Ok. What pump?"
"Four," I said, pointing to the number on my singlet.

After I was home from this adventure I showered. In my musings this year I have posted about the shaver I can use in the shower, as well as how I feel the need to do as many things as once as possible. I recalled these two things while showering, and what followed was my first attempt at shaving and washing myself with a body puff at the same time. I learnt some lessons, but overall it was a positive experience.

10 Years



Dear Diary, or, as you will be known henceforth in an attempt to seem less girly and pansy, Bert the MAN journal.

November 24, 2001


It was on this day in 2001 that I first had the urge to write things, date them, and then put them on the internet. It was a sunny day, the first of a long summer following my penultimate year of high school. Like most of my creative endeavours it began with the simplest of whims, a phrase of description that popped into my head that I wanted other people to read:
"[W]e went to Vivek's after some organisation wrangling and ended up there with Sam and Ryan. We crashed there the night, hey, what am I saying? Crash is too cool for us... we slept over and we put on pajamas (sic) and had pillow fights. Perhaps imagine something in between and you'll be fine."

Fortunately for that whim I had a whole day, nay, a whole summer free to turn that notion into a reality. I spent the afternoon using notepad and Photoshop, creating a horrible mess of colours and tables and ending up with Brad's Summer Journal.

That's not a pisstake, this is actually what it looked like for the first year.

That's not a pisstake, this is actually what it looked like for the first year.


I had been writing things and putting them on the internet before the journal. In the year prior I had sporadically created a newsletter called Brad's Vital Statistics, which I believe further traces its roots to a gag email series I'd sent out in year 9 called Men's Day. After I started sending out BVSs, imitations from Ryan, Sam and Willy emerged to compete. There was some definite rivalry about who had the "superior" publication, and it was my competitive nature to first turn mine from an email into a weekly HTML page, and the same nature that made me think of publishing a daily journal rather than an irregular newsletter. After school finished for the year the competing publications dried up, and I envisioned the Summer Journal as my coup de grĂ¢ce, the ultimate competition killer. Ten years later and, Sam, Ryan, Willy: I win, biatches.

Ten years is a long time to consistently publish your thoughts and ideas on the internet. What kind of benefits do you receive in life from meeting your commitment to such a thing? That's something I have pondered, so to celebrate a decade of journaling I thought I would look deeper into what life is like as a practiced journaller.

The number one benefit of a long running journal is perspective. I do tend to encode my real feelings into a lot of entries cryptically (not all, some are pure introspective info dumps, like this one.) This means that I can read at random my thoughts from any period in the past ten years and immediately access the feelings and state of mind I had at the time. The more I have done this kind of time travel the more apparent it has become to me how insignificant many of life's stressors really are. There are regular problems, and there are life changing problems and the former is much more common than the latter, despite what our minds try to tell us at the time.



I seem to have close to 10 epiphanies a week, half of which I disregard completely and a few more in which I realise that an earlier epiphany was quite incorrect.

April 30, 2005

The second notable advantage of perspective is learning that time is incredibly slow. I'm not kidding. Anyone who tells you that "the years go by so fast" could only believe that because they don't have a monthly summary of everything they've been doing for the past ten years. When you have access to a full journal of your life, and not just an archives listing, it becomes horrifyingly obvious that life is not fast, and that in general our society probably watches too much TV (and reads too many books.)

The second benefit of journaling is, for me at least, the requirement to justify your beliefs. It's very easy to think you believe or understand something until you're forced to explain it to someone else. And journaling has the added benefit of forcing you to explain it to yourself. It helps to develop wisdom. When I write something about myself, or the way I think something works, the fact that I've posted it is proof that I've considered it deeply. Or that it's 3am and I've just arrived home from Shenanigans.

Another benefit of writing relatively large quantities of words is the improvement to my spelling and grammar.



It's not until after you paste a[n] MSN quote into Microsoft Word that you realise how badly we all spell. It's also not until after you look deeply into many things in life that you work out what things are wrong and what things are simply spelt differently in America.

March 24, 2002


When I first started writing journal entries my use of English was akin to a lottery pick playing in the starting line up in his rookie season. Sure, there were some moments of brilliance, but overall it was unflattering and befuddling. Ten years of writing for an audience, no matter how tiny that audience has been, has motivated me to spell correctly and train hard in the off-season. Now I am like an experienced role player. I'll occasionally do something brilliant, but I'm mainly going to be picked for games because my fundamentals are rock solid.


Another side effect of long term journal writing is the mental effects. There's a narrator living in my head. Not many of the journal entries I think of end up published. In fact, 95% of them aren't even written. Instead their spoken inside my head and judged by the faceless panel that filters my thoughts in terms of prose, entertainment and potential for running jokes. My written "voice" is actually the way I think the majority of the time.



I often catch myself thinking in narrative. Basically the same style most of my entries have been written over the years, that's how I actually think... The problem is that when I catch myself thinking in narrative, I often chide myself for doing so. I scold my mind: 'Who are you talking to!?'


And then my brain replies 'Well, I often catch myself thinking in narrative. Basically...'

February 7, 2007


I don't actually remember what life was like before my inner monologue was always in first person, past tense. If I'm actively engaged in something that requires my full attention it does tend to fade to the background, but at all other times it's there, sometimes to the point where I don't even think I'm the person doing the things I'm doing, I'm just the one watching them happen and providing context for anyone listening. This I actually believe is a little disconcerting at times.



I was writing this and someone called "Ronnie" rang. They left a message on the answering machine and I said "Heh Heh, Ronnie, what a shit name" and then my brain said "Brad, your name's Ronnie", and then I had to hide the knives.

BVS 13 - October, 2001

Finally, a journal is an epic summary of the voyage of self growth that is life. I realised that pretty early on, reading back over my past entries and realising how my ideals, values and life skills all increased or changed. While my grey matter is still reasonably crisp I can usually read between the lines to recall and deduce the events or advice which guided me in a new direction. If I read for long enough I start seeing long, interweaving strands that start at my current characteristics and wind back through time to the events and forces that weaved them. This is like perspective, in that it helps me appreciate the journey of life as the slow, unstoppable thing that it is. It's also a separate "cool" thing, because it's really fascinating to see how simply and repeatedly we are changed, influenced and reprogrammed over the course of our life.



[Y]esterday I wrote that I was documenting my progress through life... because I keep discovering things about myself and writing "today I discovered that". Like, today I discovered that I didn't know how to gel my hair properly. Alex showed me. He's 14 and he knows how to gel his hair properly, and I didn't. But now I do. Another step towards self discovery.

April 15, 2004

The bradism.com archives only go back to early 2004, this is mainly because I was still refining the filter on what is and is not suitable to publish on a journal that you can find by googling my full name. Of course, in the early days it wasn't hosted on a .com domain and everyone used Dogpile. The other reason is obviously so that I can have a second 10 year anniversary of bradism.com in early 2014. It's humorous to note that it's not only I that have changed and grown in the past decade, but my journal has changed and grown too. That's a journey I will spare you the details of for now. For today, happy birthday journal, you have been a most excellent tool in life so far. I'll see you again tomorrow.

Man Journal Short Cuts

I'm not sure what physiological characteristic of pre-historic Bonobos makes me feel like less of a man for having a lawn with long grass, but once it grows past a certain length it's a hard one to ignore. Sydney, with it's warm, wet spring means our lawn grows rapidly and, as mentioned earlier, uneconomically when it comes to having a gardener maintain it.

Last weekend the lawn had reached that height again, and I decided that this time instead of pulling out my wallet I would pull out my penis and man up instead. I drove to Bunnings, put my penis away again, took out my wallet again, and then I bought my first ever lawn mower.

image 1050 from bradism.com

This was not only my first lawn mower, but my first attempt at mowing a lawn. And also the first time I've felt solely responsible for the state of a petrol engine.

When I was speaking to the staff at Bunnings about what I needed to buy beyond a lawn mower in order to make it run he said I could buy petrol from a petrol station and that I should buy a starter pack with oil. First, however, he mentioned that I should remember to buy the oil removal next time I was in, "because you need to change the oil every year, just like a car." And then he paused and stared at me to make sure the expression on my face indicated I understood this very simple concept. Which I didn't, but I recognised the conversation checkpoint and I faked a nod. Then I considered whether or not I should just take my lawnmower with me to the mechanic when I take my car there each year.

On Sunday morning the sky was clear and the air was warm. I set about assembling my lawn mower, then I filled it with petrol and then I started it. When the engine kicked into life I felt so manly. Seriously, I thought to myself "I feel so fucking manly right now, I can't wait to write about this in my diary."

Then, I started mowing and suddenly it became very obvious why the gardener would become upset with me every time I made him wait until the grass was super long before he mowed. It was not the same as having a haircut when your hair is long. You need to empty a grass catcher into a bin. A lot. It took me about two hours. I did not receive $100. I need to mow the lawn at least four more times to make this investment into a lawnmower worth more than the cost of having the gardener in each time. I will probably do it every weekend.

Once the last blade was shortened and the sound of the engine was quietened for the final time I was sweaty, yet satisfied. At the start of the day my masculinity was questioned and my grass was overgrown. Now it was my pubic hairs who had assumed that description.

image 1051 from bradism.com

Later on Sunday evening I built my new PC with the parts I bought to replace my old PC. It was not as manly as mowing but everything worked and for the first time in two months I have a PC again (and there is journal jinx potential here, so I am calling it out now so that it doesn't happen. Good.)

Doing both manly things and nerdy things on the same day made me feel like a sensitive, new age guy. And I tried to make a joke where instead of "having my swag on" I "had my snag on", but it sounded like I'd messed up eating a sandwich at a BBQ so I edited that out.