Of course the moment you start that the brain goes almost totally blank. What shall I write about? Will it be readable?
So I’m just home after the subscriber briefing and season launch for the Sydney Theatre Company.
First some organisational criticism (let’s get the small pains over early). We are all told to be there early to pick up tickets because it will start promptly at 5pm. Except that the doors to the theatre didn’t open till 5 minutes after 5, by which time people had been standing waiting by the doors for more than twenty minutes. Several of the older patrons were getting faint or ill being in a crowd over that time. As someone who is still post-operative a hip replacement my legs were getting tired from standing that long.
Second, Jessi and I intended to go to the Bar At The End Of The Wharf after the briefing for dinner and a drink (her 22nd birthday was the day before). We also saw at least a dozen more people doing the same. Unfortunately the Bar was closed for a private function. To make matters worse, while there was a sign at the top of the stairs to tell people there was no sign at either the top or bottom of the lift so people with movement difficulties had to walk all the way to the end of the wharf to find out. (Another unnecessary task for my new hip and easily tired legs.) So bad scheduling and bad signage guys.
Going to the subscriber briefing is great fun. Listening to Andrew Upton talk about the plays provides an excellent background. He tells you why a particular play, where it might sit in a playwright’s works, how he managed to get Hugo Weaving back for more Beckett. Then there is the excitement of discovering the actors and directors that will be gracing the stage next year.
Today’s Daily Prompt was “What are the earliest memories of the place you lived in as a child? Describe your house. What did it look like? How did it smell? What did it sound like? Was it quiet like a library, or full of the noise of life? Tell us all about it, in as much detail as you can recall.”
I have no memory of the absolute first home I lived in, the family left when I was only one and moved into a brand new home in a quite new suburb. I lived in that house for almost eleven years.
My parents could probably have been described as a young, upwardly mobile couple with a couple of kids. That could apply to several of the couples with new homes close to us. Nobody knew the term “yuppy” and Australia was full of young couples riding the post war success of the country. This was the time that Prime Minister John Howard used as his yardstick of the “lucky country”.
When I returned to the house after an absence of many years the first thing that struck me was how short the street was. In my memory it extended a long way with a huge hill for billy carts. In reality the hill was only a hundred metres long or so, the whole street less than five hundred. Continue reading
When I think of a soldier taking “The Long Way Home” I think of the lyrics of that old Scottish song “O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and Ah’ll tak’ the low And Ah’ll be in Scotlan’ afore ye”.
By tradition it’s sung by a Scot wounded on an English battle field to his mate. He’s going to die and the fairies will take him through their land along the low road back to Scotland while his friend will walk.
The same is true in modern war. Those that die find their way home long before those that live.
One of the things we have come to realise in modern warfare is that coming home often does not stop for the soldier when he walks off the plane from the battlefield.
So the play “The Long Way Home”, produced by the Sydney Theatre Company and sponsored by the Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley, explores both the reasons and the problems of Australian soldiers as they come back both physically and mentally from the battlefields of Afghanistan.
The play was written by Daniel Keene after a many week workshop with returned soldiers who now fill almost all the roles in the production. The soldiers do an excellent job, it’s impossible to tell these amateurs from the professionals.
It’s hard to write critically about this piece of theatre since a weakness in a performance, a badly delivered line or bad stage movement, are both forgivable and almost unseen through the strength of the connection between audience, the performers and the work.
A simple set and simple costumes are enhanced by some vivid video and lighting changes. The production is well designed and well directed.
Almost from the first “The Long Way Home” deliberately grabs the audience and plays with it’s emotions, moving us through fear, sympathy, understanding and sometimes even love. The playwright and the performers have not shrunk from the task of making the audience understand all the dark times and feelings these men and women go through as they come back.
There is a large bunch of bloggers who have put a graphic on their blog proclaiming that they will post once a day or once a week for the entire year.
I’m not one of them.
Sorry, but I like to publish posts that have value and meaning. I can’t do that every day or every week. When I post I like to think it is worth reading and there are times that this depressed, worn out writer can barely manage to drag himself out of bed and put in a day’s work.
Lately I’ve been suffering. Four weeks ago I stopped taking my anti-depressants and stopped seeing my therapist and the one real change was that my energy levels dropped. Getting to work was hard enough, writing and editing a blog post impossible.
One of the things I decided a while ago was that I’m not going to make any promises about posting to this blog and I’m not going to feel guilty when I don’t. I think quality is more important than posting too often.
Drag, drag, drag.
I don’t know why I bother to get out of bed. I don’t want to do this anymore. Can I please get off?
I have three days of long weekend and nothing happening. Nothing will happen tomorrow, nothing will happen the day after that. On the holiday Monday nothing will happen.
There are two possibilities for tomorrow. It will either be pain or boredom. The day after that there are two possibilities, pain or boredom. As far back as I can remember every day has been either pain or boredom. As far into the future that I look I see only pain or boredom.
I’ve decided to stop taking the anti-depressants. They don’t fix anything and I hate the side effects and dietary restrictions.
(I find it amusing that they call them side effects – with modern anti-depressants the side effects are actually more reliable than any effect they have on depression. Ninety-six percent of all people who start taking antidepressants experience a change in their sexual function and the best they hope for is around 20% of people taking an SSRI will gain a benefit.)
Can I die?
Will somebody please kill me?
If I curl up in this corner and sob quietly will I still get paid? Can I pay my rent if all I ever do is cry?
I like the idea of getting on a plane to the US, going to a gun show in one of those gun-toting redneck states to get a nice large pistol and taking a hike out into the woods.
Would riding my scooter under a truck hurt? It looks easy. Seventy kilometres an hour down the Gore Hill Freeway – just one little twitch and I’m under a truck.
Do I have to play this game? Can’t I lose gracefully?
I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting here on this blog. Truth to be told my depression is currently so bad that I can barely write and when I do it’s so black and dark I can barely get myself to read it over, let alone edit it for public consumption.
I’ve just got over a two week stretch with a chest infection and bad asthma. It wasn’t helped when the first Doctor I saw gave me the wrong antibiotic for a chest infection and it got worse for a week before the right one started fixing it. I’ve been taking so much medication that my body is a mass of bad side-effects. I just tried to have some crackers, cheese and dip for a snack but the skin on the roof of my mouth is sore and it felt like eating daggers. I’m shaking constantly from the steroids and other drugs. I’m also having really bad postural hypotension so standing up is a slow and dizzying process.
At the moment my depression truly has me in it’s grip. I don’t see any reason to keep on living.
I think I make my biggest mistake of the day first thing every morning. I don’t think I can be blamed that my autonomic nervous system kept my heart and lungs working during the night. No, that’s not my fault, but every morning I wake up and open my eyes. Big mistake. On most days that also means I’m starting the process that gets me off to work.
I was just reading an incredibly interesting web page about a new sort of guitar cable – an analogue optical guitar cable.
The company that has developed it is getting ready for the NAMM show – the biggest music industry trade show of the year. I’d say they are looking for a company to manufacture the cable under license.
They have certainly spent some money on developing the product they even have patents pending so they probably hired a patent attorney. They spent some money on a promotional video. They have a well designed logo and the product looks well designed.
I also assume that even a small booth at NAMM costs a fair bit. The two original inventors have also expanded the team.
The one thing they haven’t spent money on is a technical writer for their web page. The errors in grammar and sentence construction are one thing but I suspect that the person who wrote it may not have English as their first language – there is some strange word misuse such as “resolve” for “resolution” or “solution”.
I should be dead now. I’ve been close. My life could have ended several times over the past forty years or so, a victim of depression, the mental illness problem that society constantly denies. I’ve been picked up out of the gutter by Ambulance officers having a massive asthma attack while stoned off my face on a combination of booze, pills and grass. I’ve imagined jumping off a balcony, I’ve thought of driving into a sandstone cliff, I’ve looked at a pile of pills.
Most people realise that suicide is the largest killer of young men under 25. Not many people know that suicide becomes a larger and larger killer the older you are – when measured as deaths per thousand of the population suicide is a bigger problem in older men, it’s just that other causes of death outrank it so we only hear about the young, where it stands out.
I had my first bout of depression when I was in high school though at the time I didn’t realise it was depression and nobody else did either. My mum realised I was not in a good place one day when she was driving me to school. I said:
I don't believe this is Wednesday morning, it feels like Monday morning.
It must have been the way I said it or something because she asked:
Why? What does Monday morning feel like? Monday mornings I want to be dead. Oh, that doesn't sound good. I guess not.
Mum thought that this feeling was due to me “not fitting in” at school. Not fitting in was actually the three years of constant, savage bullying I underwent at Killara High. Killara High is a general public high school in a fairly affluent upper middle class section of Sydney. At the time it had a fairly good academic reputation and was certainly considered one of the best general public high schools in NSW (as distinct from selective public high schools like North Sydney Boys where my friend Robin was bullied).
I have a confession to make. I’m a total nerd when it comes to text and text to HTML conversion systems. You see plain text is just so easy to type and plain text files never cause problems years later when save formats change. Then you just need a way of encoding format in the plain text files.
If you work in a good command line environment there are also a large number of tools that work on plain text files. Unix was actually developed as a document management system – that was how Thompson and Ritchie got the funding to do it from their bosses at Bell.
It was a Unix system, man and mm files, that was my first introduction to specifying formatting in a text file. The drawback of systems such as those that we used under Unix was that they were hard to read – here’s an example of a man file:
\&\fIperldoc\fR looks up a piece of documentation in .pod format that is embedded
in the perl installation tree or in a perl script, and displays it via
pod2man | nroff \-man | $PAGER\*(C'\fR. (In addition, if running under HP-UX,col -x*(C’\fR will be used.) This is primarily used for the documentation for
the perl library modules.
This is a particularly convoluted example but you get the idea – not easy to read.
When web pages came along several projects struggled with a way of making it easier to write web pages with systems that allowed the user to write in simpler syntaxes that were easily translated into HTML. BBCode, from the Universal BBS, was one of the first.