Castaway

image 1899 from bradism.com

How I looked after four days without internet...
And another week of holidays with internet.

image 1901 from bradism.com

We stayed in Sol Duc Valley - world wide web dead-zone - the past three nights and, surprisingly, I did not miss the internet all that much. It's not like I prepared with much offline content. I just did lots of hiking, listened to an audiobook, sat in hot-springs and drank $1.49 cans of craft beer from the resort store to get through.

By my second day offline, woodland creatures were literally visiting me.

image 1900 from bradism.com

This morning I ate breakfast at a waterfall. Eventually we emerged from the valley to free motel WiFi and a bunch of notifications that were almost all completely dismissable. What is the value of the internet, really?

Posting pictures of breakfasts at waterfalls I guess.

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Worth It

image 1896 from bradism.com

After flying to the other side of the planet, then driving to Forks, Washington, we woke at 5am which was more pre-dawn gloom than twilight.

image 1897 from bradism.com

After another 54 miles of driving on the wrong side of the road, followed by 4 miles of hiking through temperate rainforest, we came to a washed up tree on a misty beach we had nearly all to ourselves.

image 1898 from bradism.com

It was breakfast time. Fruit, yogurt and cereal. Because some things you never need a holiday from.

The Great American Journal Entry

It was the west of times; it was the north of times.

After driving 100 miles from Seattle I found a beautiful place on a spectacular lake which has convinced me that, on a spectrum, pizza most definitely is a vegetable.

image 1893 from bradism.com

Where else in the world does it cost on average $9.90 for a six-pack of IPA craft beers, and $2.50 for a cucumber?

Americans (who are on vacation and/or working in the service industry) are incredibly cheery. We passed one man on the Enchanted Valley trail, past Fire Creek, who asked us how our morning was. "Good," we told him. When we asked how he was, in the brief seconds that our paths were crossing, he said "not bad" and instantly I was concerned.

image 1894 from bradism.com

There is a distinct preference to avoid internalizing thought in this state. I was in the cereal aisle at Safeway trying to pick a breakfast/concede a daily sugar injection while a woman stocked the shelf beside me.
"Here we go," she said, opening the first of her cartons with a packet knife.
"Whole lot of boxes today," she added. We were the only two in the aisle.
"Just what I love," she said, pushing the first box of apple-cinnamon granola onto the shelf. "Stacking a whole lotta groceries."
How I was supposed to respond to this I had no inkling.
I don't think any of these people would enjoy my novels.

Bare Branches

It crossed my mind, this morning as I crossed a bridge, and a southerly wind whipped at my face, that Autumn is the most dramatic of seasons. Less than three months ago it was forty degrees, I could literally walk outside in shorts at any point of the day, and now I'm contemplating driving the long way home just to keep the heater pointing at my feet. I'll have to remember this for next Autumn's video...

image 1887 from bradism.com

Yesterday I had a craving for pasta, and all I really had to cook was a whole butternut pumpkin and a whole bunch of leftover pulled-pork. Well, it turned out pretty well after I turned it into a soup and dished it up on wholemeal spaghetti.

This morning marked the one week mark of having my new mouth-guard. It did turn out I opened my mouth too soon when I journal-jinxed my first major dental and not long after the temperatures dropped below the high-thirties the pain in my tooth returned. My endodontist's current theory is that nocturnal grinding is stopping the inflammation in the nerve from settling. Honestly, I don't believe that, but so strong is my desire to eat Weet Bix and berries with tiny seeds again that I was willing to pay $200 for a night-guard made custom for my mouth.
My dentist warned me that the first week would be challenging and that I might wake up to find the mouth-guard out of my mouth, under a pillow, or have trouble sleeping. I've had none of these problems, from the first night onward I've put it in, fallen asleep, and woken up with it in my mouth six and bit hours later. This is only reinforcing my theory that I am not a restless sleeper. I think it's also character revealing. I'm well trained at ignoring people and things that interfere with my personal space even if I don't want them there. One morning on the train a woman had the point of her high heel stuck into the toe of my shoe and I went twenty minutes without even clearing my throat.

In the USA they don't call it Autumn, they call it Fall. As in, I wonder how much further the Australian Dollar will fall before I start buying cereal and yogurt over there. At least it won't actually be Autumn in a couple of weeks, in both hemispheres, and at least I don't have to pay for major dental in US Dollars.


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A Routine is as Good as a Holiday

The daily grind cops a lot of hate, but I spent three days in Melbourne two weeks ago and my poop schedule is still all over the place.

image 1869 from bradism.com

In my twenties I lived for adventure. I traveled around the country going to music festivals. I asked around on Fridays to find out where the weekend’s house parties were. I went to bars and even clubs, and sporting events and I socialised with strangers and it made me feel good. I liked being able to reflect back over the past year and define myself by the experiences I’d had.

In my thirties I find experiences stressful. Am I having enough fun? Should I be taking photos? If I don’t share at least a snippet of this on my phone to other people, did it even happen? And the opportunity costs! If I go to this cafe, what if I miss out on a highly rated other restaurant that I’ll never have a chance to visit again? What if I don’t see all the sights? What if my favourite song actually doesn’t feel as moving live as it does on the sound-engineered record?

These days I live for routine. Planning ahead, making sure every part of my day will be like an array of aligned dominos just waiting for me to knock them over and surf the dulcet clack-clack-clack all the way to the next day. I always have a delicious fruit smoothie for breakfast. I know when my coffee and gym will fit between work meetings. Incidental exercise always happens at the right times of the day. I never need to iron a shirt at the last minute, or work out what to eat for lunch, or find myself bored.

This routine isn’t clockwork. On the contrary, every week I find ways to rearrange and tweak it, defrosting fruit before bed, adding new recurring meetings to my work calendar, switching fabric softeners. That’s what truly makes me so excited by my routine, not the fact that I enjoy all the mundane parts of my life, but that I am able to schedule them so seamlessly to make more time for more routine.

Melbourne seems a bit weird.

Melbourne seems a bit weird.


Maybe my dependence on routine for my self-fulfilment is the reason I didn’t find my most recent vacation particularly enjoyable. I tried to plan my days there too, where I would buy yogurt and cereal for the AirBnB, when I would get my steps in, how to keep my carry-on luggage below the 7 kilogram limit. It didn’t help both my flights were delayed considerably. No holiday plan survives first contact with a budget airline.

On my final day in one of the world’s most livable cities I found myself unexpectedly needing to buy lunch and falling apart trying to decide what to eat, how many calories I should allow, how much I should spend. I ended up consuming an over-cooked and underwhelming chickpea burger for $20 on the corner of two dead downtown streets, then arrived at the airport over an hour too early for my flight home.

The best thing about a routine is that if you fail to appreciate your breakfast, your walk, your coffee, your conversation, you know that the next chance to savour it is only a day away.

Uprooted

You’ll definitely have noticed by now the decline in breakfast related entries on my journal over the past twelve months. The root cause of this has been the crack in my tooth which ran all the way to the nerve. Like most of my injuries, this appeared from the ether like the misdirected spell and neither filling nor crown were able to relieve the symptoms of pain whenever I bit down on something small and firmer than peach flesh. This excluded all the good breakfast cereals.

First thing this morning I munched down on berries, yogurt, and a bowl full of crushed up Weet Bix, rolled oats, and muesli complete with flaxseed clusters and pepitas. And I had no pain. Later, I sucked down mouthfuls of Bhuja nut mix with sultanas with no regard to which side of my mouth the nuts and grains should be masticated. This was amazing. For the first time in over a year I was able to chomp without lightning bolts of agony racing down my jaw. A shroud was lifted. I felt like I might not be a completely broken down human being existing on this planet out of habit.

And the secret to this turnaround? It was simply to pay an endodontist thousands of dollars to drill a small hole in me and extract out the pulp of nerves and blood vessels in my tooth that were connected to the pain centre in my brain. That was it! I can’t believe how easy it was. What else can I get root canaled? My hamstring tendon? My lumbar spine? My iliotibial band? My Western Bulldogs fandom 2007-2010? And after all that, my wallet?

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.

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