Always in the Last Place you Cook

Tomorrow I'll be flying to Melbourne for a few days to visit my brother and his kids. Family is very important to me, but I can't lie, a tiny part of this trip is about using up some of the credit I have left on my Myki from my visit in April. There was a minimum top up and I didn't use anywhere near the whole balance.

Being very organised, I didn't start packing until around 10pm the night before my flight. After cramming four days of clothes into my carry on I realised, crap, I have no idea where my Myki actually is. I'd taken it out of my wallet and left it in my study somewhere, I was sure. But where in this room full of drying laundry, CDs, notebooks, camera shit, unused online shopping purchases and boxes of Lego was it? I searched for an hour. I found all my wallet's other D-League cards, including Oyster, Opal, and a dozen loyalty cards I'd picked up so I could get free stuff on my birthday. Still no card.

I nearly gave up, but I checked one last place and of course, there it was, on the floor behind my giant goddamn wok.


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Children

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Parenting is not something which comes naturally to me, but this weekend I was entrusted to keep alive two small humans for over 24 hours.

To get through this I needed to draw on the advice and examples of other child-raisers in my life. Most recently, I saw a mother swan with four developing cygnets crossing a lake in the hope of a feed. When I offered noting, the mother coloured the water with fecal discharge, which the trailing offspring sucked up for nourishment.
I put this in the maybe pile.

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I was proud of myself for lasting the first day of babysitting without resorting to TV, candy, or violence. I gently led the children to believe that playing Lego was their idea, and killed several hours building “spaceships” which were in fact a carrot, and an octopus’ car. I didn't even need a drink that night.

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My greatest challenge early on Sunday morning when both children were crying about how their sibling “hated them” or had said something mean. I solved this by explaining that, as brother and sister, they would always be in competition for emotional superiority, and the earlier they developed a thicker skin to their family member's trolling and jabbering, the more successful they'd be.

Ultimately - despite never feeling completely comfortable that I could sit on the toilet for thirty minutes without interruption - I think I did a capable job of fostering children. Made possible completely by the knowledge throughout that it would soon be over.

Working Overtime

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The NBA season tipped off about a month back, and I still don't know the results of a single game. Usually I have my foreign-priced League Pass account setup by now, would have fallen asleep to a couple of games each week, watched a bunch of highlights whenever time allowed.

This year I'm giving up basketball until I finish the manuscript for my third novel - Law and Odor: Cold Case.

Doing this probably isn't necessary. No doubt I'd finish that manuscript at some point anyway, but I just feel like some extra motivation might help me get it done sooner. And every NBA gif in Messenger is a handy prompt to get back to work, and not just a reminder of my separation from the sport I used to love. I read that pain and trauma is the source of many great artworks, and perhaps this could be mine.

It has nothing to do with the cost of a League Pass subscription, or Golden State being unreasonably stacked.

My Thing Flowered

Trying to be a writer has a lot in common with trying to be a gardener. You put a lot of work in, then wait weeks or months to see if something grows fruit and flowers, or gets accepted by a magazine or anthology. (Or withers and dies right in front of you. RIP 2018’s attempt at growing a passionfruit up the three storeys of my house).

I pondered on this metaphor late last year, when the lilies on the balcony produced four beautiful flowers despite little attention over spring. I wondered if this was perhaps a sign that I would sell four stories in the following year. (I sold two in 2017, so four felt like a realistic expectation for improvement.)

I never told anyone about this thought, but wouldn't you know it? I have sold four stories this year! (So far, I'm happy to exceed flowery predictions…) Only one has actually made it to print so far, but I remain optimistic...

When November rolled around, I checked on the lily pots to see their progress and I saw that my thing plant had a flower.

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I like this thing. I don't know what it is, but it's been on our balcony for at least a few years after it was given to us by our friend Elliott. It's still in the original pot, and only gets occasional love from the watering can, but it always plugs away growing new fronds to replace old ones, never dying. I didn't even know it could flower!

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So the question is, what prophetic sign is this? If a lily is a short story sold, is a thing-flower an agent? A manuscript request? A book deal? My first subscriber to the bradism.com mailing list?

Only 2019 will tell.


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My Thing Finished Flowering

Who knew such sizeable beauty could erupt from the tips of something so nondescript and plodding?

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Panic! at the Disco did.

The Demise of Sydney's Nightlife Was Not Exaggerated

East coast Australians like to act as if Adelaide is backwards because you can't go to a Woolworths at 10:30 at night and buy yogurt.

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But what's even the point if all the discounted lines are already gone?

I love Sydney

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I hate Sydney. Though it is where I do some of my finest fast walking. It's got skyscrapers and a huge IT industry and trendy bars. That said, I can only tolerate it - the traffic, the prices, the population - in short bursts. Like pointing a hairdryer at just the right spot on your armpit, the heat can make you feel alive. But hold your brain up to the collective body warmth of four million people for too long and it browns the surface, sealing in the juices.

I had a productive twenty-four hours in the harbour city, attending a cloud computing conference, and spending much of my downtime writing a story about a spiced rum loving detective who can smell the future. So much writing that my fingers hurt.

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I flew back tonight into different kinds of clouds. The wind might be howling, but it's good to be home. Ironically, the spiced rum I drank in a trendy Sydney wine bar was actually from South Australia.

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Sydney at least has this Kookaburra going for it.

Still Life

I suspect you need an ego to be a successful farmer. I spent months growing a handful of nectarines over spring, pruning, watering, supporting and fertilizing the tree. All of that was easier than actually eating the eventuating fruit (which is more than I can say about whichever bug or critter has been snacking tiny circles in them since they turned red.)

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As diligent as I was growing this food in my backyard, I don't trust that I did it right. Maybe it's supermarket conditioning me to only eat vibrant, symmetrical shapes. Maybe it's just difficult to eat something you raised from birth. It's hard to enjoy the sweet, juicy flesh of a nectarines when you're wondering if it's going to ironically sicken you.

That's why I only eat fruit I grew on work nights.

Uneasy Lies The Head

For those bradism.com fanatics out there I'm sure there has been much gossip and speculation regarding my lack of breakfast entries this year.
I do still love eating cereal, yogurt and fruit together in a bowl, however, 2018 has conspired to prevent this simple joy from me. And by extension also from you, from getting to experience it second hand via my website.

For those really rusted on followers of my life you may also remember my gun teeth.

And here is the point of the entry: everything you ever journal about is doomed. My teeth, like many of my body pieces, have succumbed to uselessness as the years have gone by. I needed a filling last year, and as the weeks passed it was clear the cavity was more complex than anticipated. And when I returned for maintenance I had my first experience with 3D printing. The weakness in my tooth was mapped from every angle, and then a porcelain fragment (like what they make toilets out of) was cemented next to my tongue. That was cool, I thought.

Alas, not even the greatest of mankind's technological achievements was enough to reunite me with pain free yogurt mush munching. The implant didn't sit right and after fifteen months my dentist decided the best solution to my chewing pain was to crown the tooth. After all these years, it was time for me to face major dental.

So I sat in a chair for over an hour while humans standing extra-close to me did things inside my mouth. This is not the home territory of the introvert.
Earlier in the day I'd spent the morning trying to troubleshoot an unresponsive message queue in our production environment, and for this experience in the chair I tried to pretend that I was the mainframe, and these dentists were the sys-admins, and my mouth was a terminal that would return output only when prompted. This metaphor did distract me from the drilling, and then I fell asleep for a lot of it.

Eventually they were done and almost all of me woke up and paid a lot of money for this second chance at eating toasted oats and Bhuja mix for the rest of my life. (My jaw and right side of my tongue got another couple hours of rest.) Now the pain is returning, which is expected, given what my nerves have been through. Will it work? I hope so, but there's no guarantee in our lives. If you're out there, if you're reading this now with non-hurting teeth, appreciate it. Live life for today. Crush some Weet Bix into a bowl, slice up a ripe banana and add some muesli, cover it with vanilla yogurt. Stir it into a delicious paste. Eat it. Eat it while you still can. Don't become like me, sick with belated regrets. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.