Monday, November 30, 2009

One Good Thing

What a madcap week! One of the most intense weeks I have experienced in quite some time.
The epic stadium of theatrics began on the evening of Friday 20th when I received a text message from my ex-boyfriend's partner asking me to call him. When I did, he informed me that our mutual friend had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and he had been admitted to hospital urgently and was awaiting further news.
When a friend is in trouble, I switch into 'Emergency Ben' mode and suddenly become rather efficient and focused. I just wish I could be like that more often without the triggers of other people's incidents.
I visited whenever I could and provided levity for that is what I do in situations of gravity, I simply cannot help it. It lightens everyone's mood and helps me to cope with the nastier side of life, so it’s a win-win situation.
What humbles me the most is how incredibly brave my ex has been whilst facing such danger. His attitude has been indomitable and that sort of strength touches my heart.

It was also a very sad week for a school friend of mine whose brother had gone missing (back in the UK) at the weekend and appallingly, was discovered dead a few days later. I felt so utterly helpless and saddened by this news, but the outpouring of support online via facebook was incredibly touching.

During work hours, I was kept occupied with doing two jobs. For those who aren't in the know, there is a guy at work who deals with all the sales material, proof reading copies and posters etc for the sales department and also handles the mailing out of larger items around the country. Due to his long-service leave, he is able to take time off quite frequently and I am more than happy to cover his job whilst he is away.
This involves me juggling my own job, his and also spinning a few plates all at the same time. Normally, I am quite adept at this sort of thing – the busier I am, the more in control I seem to be, but I think with the other things going on, I became a little bit frazzled this time. Sure, the heavy work load did prove to be a distraction at times, but when I stopped for a breather, I often felt overwhelmed by it all.
I hesitate as I write this for I don’t want it to sound like I'm making it 'all about me'… I don't want to be one of those people who make other people's severe problems into their own personal drama. That's not who I want to be.

On the Thursday night, I attended the book launch of acerbic journalist Catherine Deveny's third book of collected columns. It was a terrific launch and Catherine was her usual brutally hilarious self. Early on in the evening, she announced that she knew a guy whom I should be introduced to, so I waited around for a while as the book signing shenanigans continued and eventually she introduced me to one of her colleagues. "Michael, this is Ben, he works for Penguin Books. Now, off you go…" and she gestured with flapping hands for us to talk as she dashed off to attend to her adoring fan base.

I said to Michael; "I can get up on stage and tell jokes, sing my heart out and perform in front of hundreds, but I am hopeless at introducing myself to guys!" which, ironically, proved it wasn’t true as it seemed perfectly acceptable as an introduction.
We chatted for a while and then Catherine joined us before driving us to the Retreat pub in Brunswick (with a few other people in tow – I could tell a story here about the events of the trip and the discussions involved, but that's a little more private than I think you'd want to know about. Let's just say that conversation revolved around a certain operation I once had and Catherine proved how crippling funny she can be, even whilst driving.

At Retreat we had dinner and had a good old chinwag and lots of laughter. A few of us even played Spin the Bottle (albeit with a knife) which I have never played before and, despite feeling deliriously immature, really enjoyed the thrill of it.
Michael and I got on rather well (Well done, Catherine) but I couldn’t stay out too late as it was a 'school night', so I caught a taxi home.

So, with two jobs, a friend in hospital, a death and an unexpected night of near-debauchery, I had experienced a manic week.
The recent weekend which followed was thankfully a peaceful one. I was unable to visit my ex as he was still in the ICU post-surgery (they were only able to remove half of the tumour as the other half is attached to too many vital parts of the brain) but he is out today, back in the wards.
Chores were done over the weekend and I baked a couple of cakes. The highlight of the weekend was having a sort of 'date' with Michael. He came over and we had an afternoon of DVD watching with some pizza. We had a splendid afternoon and it was nice to finish off a run of heavy days with something so pleasant.

What I find difficult to reconcile is this feeling of guilt. Here I am enjoying this one good thing that has happened to me while other people are suffering. The juxtaposed emotions are conflicting and I am awash with tension as I try to do what's right.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Golden Heart

Heaven knows I am not the easiest person to live with so I am impressed that Mum managed to get through three weeks in the same apartment without throttling me.
Having lived alone for the past six years, I have become a little set in my ways. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just awkward when people come to stay as it can be a bit of an intrusion, no matter who it is.

It had been three years since mum had last visited and back then it was with other family members. This time, it was just the two of us and I have to admit I am rather grateful about that. Sure, there were occasional moments when I could have done with some personal 'down time' and I did become a little exhausted with the itinerary I had organised for her – I only have myself to blame for that – but having the chance to spend some quality time together was pleasant.

As with many family relationships, there is a bond which transcends the tensions and conflicts which often arise when in close proximity for a long time. We may have had the odd minor snap between us (usually through my own impatience), but each time it was dispelled with a touch of humour. Both of us despise conflict and although this can be a flaw in some regard, it can actually be a blessing between two like-minded people.

We had great enjoyment attending various theatrical events and eating out at numerous restaurants and cafes in and around Melbourne. My wonderful friends were often on hand to assist with invitations to their homes and meals out.

Some of the best times were had when it was just the two of us discussing our own lives and our individual idiosyncrasies. Mum and I share a lot of beliefs and values. We often share opinions with each other that we may not be able to repeat to others for fear of being chastised. It is moments like these where I feel an emotional and spiritual intimacy with my mother and although we do not agree on all things, there is an unquestionable understanding between us.

From my Mum I have inherited a lot of qualities but to itemise them here would reek of egocentricity and I fear I do enough of that already, albeit it self-deprecatory mainly. Oddly enough, we also both share similar insecurities, so we can find solace together when necessary.

Mum has a gentle soul and a golden heart and it has been a pleasure playing host her during her stay