Monday, May 16, 2005

Hell of the Long and Winding Road

Soundtrack: Leftfield / The Song of Life

I need to tell you about my sister. My sister is an example, a shining fucking example of inner strength in the face of adversity. If I find myself beating myself up, or feeling blue, or awash in self-pity I can turn my mind to my beautiful fucking sister and draw strength and courage from her. I love her.

I'm not sure how it works but I guess my sister has been gay her whole life. She slept with boys when we were growing up but generally she kept to herself or hung around with me. We have been close our entire lives, best friends in the face of a fucked up home life and the twisted moralities that surround you in situations of domestic violence.

When she was 18 she joined the Navy. My brother had joined a few years earlier and I could see the appeal. Get the fuck out of where we were and instill some sort of order in her life. A schedule. Discipline. All the bullshit that the military is so proud of. Also, she could save money and look after herself and look after me.

She did for a while. Every Christmas the only present I would get would be from my sister, and she didn't fuck around. A bike, a skateboard, a stereo, remote control cars, all the things that we thought normal kids would get and that we always felt we missed out on. She devoted her fucking Navy life to looking after me.

She was attacked on a beach by four men.

She pretty much knew she was a lesbian after that.

I cannot conceive what would run through your mind, the dark doors of your mind after something like that. I cannot conceive how she held her head high and continued to fight on and be strong and not let any fucker hold any power on whether or not she would be happy.

She came out as a lesbian and was kicked out of the Navy. She came out as a lesbian in an article in Who Magazine. Her face was a double page spread with the words, GAYS IN THE NAVY emblazoned across it. That's pretty much coming out.

My mother found out my sister was gay when she bought the copy of the magazine.

My (evil) grandparents admonished my sister and told her to ask the Navy's forgiveness.

Forgiveness for fucking what? Cunts.

So my sister finally began to crumble at this point but you never would've known. She was always the first to dance, the first to smile, the first to laugh and take me out and do silly voices and run down the street grinning and jumping and holding her head high.

My sister was the only one of us three kids who saw my mother as she lay beaten on a hospital bed unable to communicate except for scratching a few lines of ink on a piece of paper. I have that piece of paper. It says, "I love you guys" and I find it impossible to look at it.

The next day my sister flew back to Melbourne and came to my house and we knew...

My mother and my sister always had such a fucked up relationship but they were close. Closer even than my mother and I and I was always the favourite. So when Mom died, I saw my sister's eyes change, I honestly did. They're still, four or five years on, they're still darker.

So she hit the junk. And I tried everything I could to get her out, to get her back but she was gone, gone, gone. So all I could do was love her, show her that she still had something to live for. That I loved her so fucking much. She'd ALWAYS been there for me and now she fucking needed me. But it's so fucking hard watching someone on junk. You can scream, you can beg, you can reason but you'll be lied to. So after a while I threw my fucking hands in the air and gave up.

Well, I didn't give up. I stayed close, but I didn't know what to do.

After a few years she rang me up out of the blue and told me she had been thrown out of her house, she was stuck, she was homeless, she had nowhere to go. I was living with a girl and two other boys but I had a loungeroom so I invited her to stay. She promised me she was clean.

She had been there a week when my housemate came up to me and said he had found a needle in the bathroom and that she had to go. I didn't know what to do. You're asking me to kick my sister out on the street? I rang my brother who lives interstate. His words were, "Gee Matty, you're in a tough situation aren't you?"


I stalled for a day or two and eventually my sister talked her friend into letting her stay. I felt bad, disgusted at myself, angry at her, sad at the whole fucking situation. Fucking junk.

So why am I telling you all this?


Inner strength.

That was a few years ago and now she's clean, in love, working hard and fucking outrageously happy. Once again, she's proved to me that she has the fucking guts to climb back up just when life is at it's darkest.

And here I was today, worrying about money.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Hell of being Frank

Soundtrack: The Hives / Hate to say I told you so

I stood outside the pub, tasting the acrid warmth of my Stuyvesant and digesting the once mooing flesh of a newly made bovine friend. Thoughts drifted as they do, thoughts of the brunette caressing me, thoughts of the secret future I have stored within that is but a breath away from revealing, and then...thoughts of...Frank?

So I chuckled and gagged on the smoke, hiccuping and snorting at the same time. Who is this weirdo in the back of my mind that thinks such random stupidity? I have no idea but as I'm at a loss for anything else to write about, other than my leering over Har Mar Superstar below, I'll tap tap tappity away on my thoughts of frankness.

To be frank.

So I wondered, like the chicken and the egg, at the genesis of this and the man behind the word. And I saw an old country town, almost western style and I saw Frank as he lurched through dusty streets and face to face with the common man, would tell them just exactly what he thought of them.

(To be honest, it was late and cold and I was tired so the Frank of my imagination could come up with little more honesty than telling everyone, You Stink!)

Ah, Frank, genesis of the Well of Honesty. Telling it how it is! No-one spared his acidic yet wise tongue as it painted the world the colour of truth! Frank! Go to him for advice for you shall not be handed loaves of half-baked truths, Frank shall slice straight to the crust of the matter and you shall toast his forthright manner as later you rise to the challenge he has presented to you.

Mythical Frank. And I stepped back inside the cosy comfort of that country Hotel and prepared myself to somehow explain this rambling thought process to my companion and just before I did I had one final mental image.

That of Frank's Headstone which read:

Here Lies Frank. Though He Never Did.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Soundtrack: Nina Simone / Here comes the sun

There is an edge that some of us will come to in our lives. It is like looking into an endless mouth of madness future where the cycle that we live in will never end. You see only a haze of drink and escapism and partners and pain both your own and of others around you. It stretches into forever and it feeds upon itself like a snake eating its own tail. It, as any self-respecting abyss of madness does, has voices and blackness and a strong, strong allure. Its winds, a siren’s call to those sailors who have drifted too close to its edge. And into its blackness, many have been lost. Forever.

I stood on the lip of my own personal Hell. I could have blamed those around me, I could have covered it in lies both mine and other’s, drowned it in alcohol, pushed it from my mind, hidden from the world when the pull was too strong. It has crouched deep, deep within me. But it has never truly left me. Insidious, wicked and dangerous it lurks. Poised for that moment of weakness, then sinking its fangs into me when I am unaware or flailing.

I stood on the lip of my own personal Hell, one foot hanging over, ears prickled by the cacophony of frenzied madness it spewed forth at me, wind at my back, eyes closed tight, arms wide open, scared and ready to fall, fall, fall, sweet, easy, short term release. Not to death, this is no death, more a surrender, but neither is it truly a life worth living. It is the end of reason, the end of truth and wholeness and caring and honesty, strength and love.

I stood on the lip of my own personal Hell and I don’t know what it was, determination or blind luck, but I opened my eyes. I opened my eyes and the only voice I heard in that split second was my own. Stop. You are more than this. MORE. THAN. THIS.

My foot hit the ground. The wind eased. And the light, the LIGHT!

No God this light, my voice is my god. My soul, my guide. I stopped on the edge. Me. Behind me I could hear the voices of those close, but in the end it was I who was ready to tumble. I. You.

I stopped on the edge of my own personal Hell and though it has yet to recede far less disappear I have its number for I screamed its name at it, identified it for what it really is. My Hell. You are mine. I do not belong to you. These are my demons that inhabit your world. I have the power to control them. I have the weaknesses that release them. And as I cried their name and stared them straight in the eye they swirled and smoked and as wisps, ghosts, curled into my open hand.

I clenched my fist, and there they remain.

My demons are not Alcohol. But it is a key to the door that imprisons them, an expressway to memories and fears that live down deep. It is a wrecking ball that smashes through every defense I build and exposes the hatred and anger and pain within. But I am so much more than my demons.

My demons are not Alcohol but in its grasp they take flight and if I am not wary, they can spit venom and sink their talons into me until I am but a carcass, a shell of the man I am. Hunted and preyed upon by vicious and dark thoughts.

No, not alcohol but it gives these creatures form and shape. I unclench my fist and these are no ghosts that rise up, these are living, breathing, roaring bodies of pain and hate and sadness.

Though I am strong, strong enough to stand, strong enough to face them, I do not need to empower them lest they extinguish my good spirit by destroying those who stand close. I have seen the demon alcohol. I have seen it smash my mother in the face with its bullish strength, I have seen it take her will to live, I have seen her wrap herself in its poisonous embrace. My demons are not physically violent, my demons live in my mind. My demons eat at me with honeyed tongues and flawed logic. But they are as destructive as any I have witnessed. But I could never destroy another, so I point them at myself and collapse under their weight.

But my strength has been awakened. Giants. Giants of patience and self-worth. Tall they stand and from a vantage on their back I can see for miles and miles and miles. I can see light ahead, and green, and I can feel the sun on my face. These giants and demons do battle day by day and the giants win until I slip, and lubricated underfoot the giants tumble and are devoured by gnashing teeth and black thoughts.

Recognizing this has taken so much time. So much hurt. It has taken finally reaching a point on the edge of the abyss where the baggage you keep is exposed and you scream and scream in anguish not at the world or those around you but at yourself. I no longer sleep. I am here once more as the sun rises after a long lonely night, exorcising through these words.

But I did it. I found my courage, naked though I am left here before you. I did it because truly, I want to be naked. For the light to shine in every corner of my soul and finally lay bare my secrets, my burdens, my baggage. I can’t take it any more. I am ready to be happy. And I have laid it here for all to see and I don’t give a fuck because in life you need courage, and in honesty there is courage in endless supply.

What you have witnessed in the last few posts is a man’s battle with his brain as alcohol consumed him in times of trouble. I have done it all my life, drunk to hide the pain, drunk to escape, to justify, drunk to forget. You have seen this man, this me, collapsing under the weight of exaggerated emotion as each day brought new pain and struggle and I turned to the wrong source of comfort. The false escape. There is no escape. That is the lesson. Escape brings but more baggage, more demons, and I’m fucking full enough, begging your pardon.

So, shivering and bare, empty and afraid I am not. My actions have given me strength, my memories have given me wisdom, my friends have given me love and these times have given me the experience I needed to finally begin the long upward journey.

Bartender, just a glass of water please.

Monday, May 2, 2005

Everybody wants to work, no, no, not me

Soundtrack: The Beatles / Hard Day's Night

I think we've established that I don't believe in God. But I believe in a plan. I believe we must have been given consciousness for a reason. Consciousness of the world around us and also the ability to make our own choices, our own internal choices. Seems to me some people come to more moral crossroads in their life than others, though maybe that is naive. It also seems to me that some people create their own crossroads for reasons of their own. Deep, soul deep, unhappiness within themselves which leads to the need for constant shifting, moving, trying to find a place of peace, of calm of quiet happiness.

But in my mind, these things have to be worked at. I hate it, my ego hates it, it believes that happiness is deserved and why the fuck should i have to work at something so goddamn simple. But my brain, which I trust, explains it a different way and maybe this applies only to me or maybe it applies to you too, but hard work brings reward (in most cases) so if you're looking for a REAL special type of happiness, a true Zen-like peace with yourself, well then first you've got to take a serious fucking look inside, face the black and work motherfucker work at it. Fix it, tune it, repair it, for recognising it is only half the battle. Recognising it is scary, you can stare at it for a while and then run run run, hide from it, flee flee flee from it, bury it back down until it returns once more and you curl up under your desk your stomach in your hands and your heart in your mouth and you think why the fuck is it here again?

I coasted through High School and got straight A's, I coasted through my twenties and thought success would come to my band purely because WE thought we were cool. I've coasted creating this magazine I make because it's silly and it's fun...and the whole time I've done these things, ten, fifteen, twenty years I have ignored the quiet, strong little voice in the back of my head.

You're a good worker matty, apply yourself and you can achieve anything.

Funny, that's what my Mum always told me.

Work is hardest when your not at your strongest. But the answer is so fucking simple, the answer is so damn clear. Everytime you put aside your bullshit and just get on with what you have to do, the load gets lighter and shit gets easier.

Such an elementary lesson, but for me, so fucking tough to put into practise.