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While flicking through the channels this evening I stumbled across
on SBS. At first I thought it was the TV series but as soon as I tuned in I realised it was the Luc Besson original. I’ve seen the film a half dozen times at least. It was right at the part where Nikita has two weeks in which to turn her behaviour around and the music, coupled with the alluring appearance of Jeanne Moreau, had be tumbling back to when I first saw it all those years ago. Within minutes I was glued to the screen and hooked.
Last month I re-established the writing habit. This month I’m re-establishing the yoga habit. Bit by bit I’m reclaiming those parts of myself that I’ve allowed to slip away. I only need to do 20 minutes each day to reap the benefits but I usually end up doing more. It’s something that my body is telling me I need to be doing and whenever I listen to my body and act upon it I feel a whole lot better both physically and mentally. I also feel a whole lot younger as I reclaim the nimble flexibility that doing yoga facilitates.
I’m still adjusting to the fact that at work, all I have to think about now is the job itself. For ages I’ve had to squeeze so many other things into my day - endless phone calls to so many trades and suppliers; countless emails to the builder; more calls seeking legal advice and clarification than I care to remember. Somehow I still managed to do my job and come up smelling of roses but how, I’m not sure. I guess I just put it down to experience. But now? Now my head is free to focus solely on the kids.
I met the new Prep children today and taught them for the first time. All but a couple are five years old. It's so amazing! They not been on the planet for more than five minutes and yet their personalities are so distinctive and their drawings utterly beguiling. It never fails to instil wonder in me that as a species we learn so much at such an early age. This is my fourth year at the school and my love affair with the place shows no sign of abating. How lucky am I to have landing such an amazing job.
Something that I've noticed since resuming yoga is an overall lack of balance. Poses I've been able to do since I was a teenager are proving to be a struggle. It's early days yet so no doubt I'll get them down pat soon enough but it's disconcerting nonetheless. I'm assuming it's age-related and that doesn't thrill me but it does emphasise the need for a stretching and balancing program and thus the value of pursuing yoga seriously. Clearly, nimbleness is not the only casualty of the aging process and one's sense of balance is not something that one surrenders willingly.
Someone was smiling down on me today. I was searching for a suitable high resolution image of a David Hockney painting and another of a Fred Williams. What I found were two paintings dealing with precisely the same theme. Both were of high quality, enabling me to create large panelled prints for the kids to fully appreciate them. A colleague who dropped into my room and saw them said, “Well, they certainly fell into your lap, didn't they!” They certainly did and they'll now form the stimulus for two large murals which will ultimately grace the walls of the library.
It finally arrived today, the email from the builder claiming that all the rectification work has now been completed (it hasn't) and that there are two key items which he refuses to take responsibility for, effectively establishing a demarcation line over which we'll probably go to tribunal. We for our part intend to be as mindfully stubborn as he is and will refuse to part with the last $20K until such time as the rectifications are completed in full. I have to admit my blood boiled when I read the email but that soon passed. Cool heads must ultimately prevail.
It's approaching midnight. The temperature outside has dropped from 40 to 27. Downstairs our first house guests, my sister and brother-in-law, are asleep. Tomorrow they fly to Vietnam. Upstairs, my partner is asleep. I have the first floor all to myself for a while. The two clocks quietly tick away at opposite ends of the house. In the corner the dog shuffles about and makes herself comfortable. On the street below the muffled sound of voices, vehicles and car doors softly permeates the stillness. In a few minute I'll climb the stirs and go to bed. But not just yet.
After seeing my sister and brother-in-law off at the Skybus terminal this morning I allowed myself a luxury I've not had nice I can remember: I allowed myself a day off in which to do absolutely nothing of consequence. I slept for a couple of hours on the couch, watched a documentary online, pottered about aimlessly and thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process. There's a lot to be said for doing nothing in particular. I'd like to think I could do it more often and maybe I will. Tomorrow however, it's back to work and into the thick of things.
My sense of balance is returning. I was more able to hold demanding poses while doing yoga this evening and in the process found myself contemplating the whole issue of being here, right now, alive on the planet. I'm not sure that many people think about life and their level of health in such a fundamental manner but to my mind the whole purpose of being healthy and well is precisely to do with that. We arrive here by a mathematical fluke of nature and it seems to me we should do our best to take care while we're here.
A haze of smoke blankets the city this evening and much of the state for that matter. To the north and east, fires are burning out of control engulfing homes, threatening lives and laying vast tracts of land to waste. Just when we were beginning to hope we might have been spared such loss and destruction this year, the fires of a couple of weeks ago notwithstanding, weather conditions and in some places the arson's hand has created bedlam for so many. My heart goes out to those who in a few short hours have lot everything they once owned.
I learned today that a colleague succumbed to cancer overnight. I didn't know her well but it put me in a sombre mood and reminded me once again of the need to be thankful for every healthy day we have. I spend so much of my life working with healthy, happy children. It's easy to forget that for many, life is a struggle and for some, a struggle that can't be won. We spend so much time focused on the future and what's still to come that we forget to appreciate what's right before us in the here and now.
I'm so sick of reading or hearing about the violence that men inflict upon women and children. A man who throws his girlfriend over a balcony to her death. A man who abducts a 12 year old boy, tries to molest him and ends up strangling him. A man who stalks a woman and brutally murders her. And today in the news, a man goes to see his 11 year old son play cricket at a country playing field and beats him to death with a cricket bat in front of horrified onlookers, many of them children.
The news today was full of stories about the murder of young Luke Batty by his father. So was my mind. I kept trying to shut it out but the awful magnitude of it kept creeping back in. I know dreadful, terrible things happen every day all over the world but, like the murder of Jill Meagher a couple of years ago, there's something about this crime that cuts to the core. The circumstances in which it happened, at a children's cricket match on a typical afternoon surrounded by family and friends.
It doesn't compute. It just doesn't make sense.
I finished painting the room that will become my art studio today. It's what we currently call the sun room. It's the top storey room which opens out onto the roof deck which, when it's finally filled with plants, we'll be able to refer to as the roof garden. I also unpacked my new desk which has remained in its box since the day it was delivered shortly before we moved in last July. I was going to wait until the whole house was finished but in the end I decided that gratification delay is over-rated as an incentive technique.
Mum was born 100 years ago today. One hundred years! The world was a very different place in February 1914. She even pre-dates WW1. I used to joke out her 100th birthday, telling her she'd be getting her letter from the Queen who's not so many years behind her in age. Sadly, that never came to pass.
I posted some delightful photos of her taken 12 years ago on Facebook. The response has been overwhelming. I guess there are a lot of people on my friends list who wouldn't be on the planet if not for her.
Happy birthday Mum.
Much as I've been impressed to date by our new Head of Junior School there are a couple of things that have made me pause and take note. Assuming such a role is never easy and the transition period in inevitably complicated by the sense of dislocation with the job one has left behind coupled with the inevitable comparisons people make with one's predecessor. I like the woman and wish her well but the woman she's replaced was a class act second to none. It will be interesting to see how she measures up over the coming weeks and months.
My blood still boils when he emails us but I'll be damned if I'm going to let that weaken my resolve. I'm talking about our builder. He's clearly not happy that we're withholding the remaining $21K. Well, that's just tough. If he hadn't fucked us around so many times we wouldn't be in this situation. If he'd responded to our emails when he had the opportunity we could have resolved all of this by now. If he was a decent, honourable human being we would have met him half way. But he's not. He's a manipulative, self serving, obsequious arsehole.
I can barely believe that after all this time, our builder is still creating problems in our lives. With his silly games and attempts at one-upmanship continuing today I simply dew a line under things and told him we're seeking legal advice and that we'd be in touch in due course. Then this afternoon the heavens open up and once again, after countless futile attempts by the builder to solve the issue, the roof in bedroom 3 started leaking again. I'm so utterly fed up with all of this occupying my mind and attention! It just never seems to end.
More dreadful news today. A married couple were brutally murdered in their suburban home yesterday. Turns out their daughter used to attend our school and her mother was a librarian at one of our feeder schools. We swung into action and organised counselling for the kids who knew her. Some of my colleagues knew her personally was were very shaken. No one knows who or why. On the news this evening they said police had taken 'an arsenal of weapons' from the premises today but little else was revealed. Again, I'm just so sick of hearing about such awful things.
The good news is we had a visit from the builder's new manager today, an experienced man who basically agreed to complete all of the disputed rectifications. I also visited our solicitor who assures me we are completely within our rights and protected by the contract to withhold the money until the work is done. The bad news is a colleague at work who had her baby shower last week and went on maternity leave on Monday has just lost the baby, capping off what everyone agrees has been a very bleak week. Let's hope the coming one is better.
I'm not sure when I became such a stay-at-home sort of guy. In my younger days I used to be out and about so much. These days I'm happier to be at home. Having such a great house certainly provides an incentive but the habit pre-dates our time here. It goes back to London, although I was a lot more outgoing while I was there than I am now. The constant work in the house is perhaps the biggest factor now. So much of my spare time and energy is still taken up with the ongoing painting and settling in.
This is the first time I've written at my new desk in the sun room of the new house. This is the room that will become my painting studio. During the day it's flooded with light. In the heat of summer it becomes unbearable by mid-afternoon but apart from then it's an amazing area in which to work. During winter it's the warmest room in the house.
I have so many paintings in my head. They've been put on hold for so long but the time for doing them is fast approaching and soon now, very soon, I will begin.
It pisses me off that my mind-space is one again filled with the work that needs to be carried out by tradesmen on the house. For a while I was revelling in the freedom of going to work and not having to concern myself with such distractions but suddenly I'm having to organise time off work to deal with things that should have been dealt with months ago. On the upside, the builder has caved in and agreed to complete the rectifications he was trying to dodge. Perhaps we should have bared our teeth earlier. Still, better late than never.
I watched the premiere episode of
The Real Housewives of Melbourne
this evening, the latest spin-off from the original US franchise. The mother of one of my students is a key player on the show, along with the mother of another girl who completed Year 12 last year. What a hoot! It's easy to lose sight of the demographics of my school and the fact that when the girls say such innocuous things as “we went down to the beach house for the weekend” they're not referring to some quaint, dilapidated weatherboard building but rather some multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art megastructure.
I don't know what it is about staff meetings at school but I can be as bright and bushy-tailed as anyone as I enter the meeting yet within five minutes of sitting down my eyes begin to feel like lead weights and within ten minutes I'm all but dribbling on the shoulder of the person next to me. It's like a form of narcolepsy. Today I was sitting listening to our Head of School address the staff about the new strategic direction of the school for the coming year when suddenly I awoke to find her staring right at me.
A new law was passed in Uganda this week outlawing homosexuality: 14 years gaol for the first offence and life imprisonment for “repeat offenders”. It's also a crime to know someone who's gay and not report them to the authorities. They originally wanted to introduce the death penalty but decided otherwise. Hitler would be proud of them. So would Idi Amin. It beggars belief that such attitudes can prevail. Some people question whether being gay is natural or unnature. A more appropriate question would be is whether homophobia is a form of mental illness and whether it can be cured.
As one month passes and another one beckons a question begins to take shape: what if? What if the transition, if not totally complete, is complete enough in order to make a decisive step in a new direction? What if I was to make March the month that separates all that's been from all that's to come? What if I jumped off the deep end into a new metaphoric ocean and set my sights on a new shore? What if I took the challenge and launched myself into the future I've always known was there for the taking?
The Tip Jar