Monday, 30 April 2012

Not the post I planned

Hi everyone,

This is not the post that I drafted, and thank God for that.

Today was one of those days when I was struggling to keep a good attitude.  In particular, my very first conscious thought when I woke up was "OK Monday: It's time for you to kick me in the groin again".  Now, I can tell you about my day if you desperately want to hear it.  It's not, I'm afraid, terribly exciting.  In essence I was working flat out to get a bunch of stuff done and painfully aware I was falling short.  There was kind of an up-spot in the day in the form of lunch being provided because I was at a seminar.  The seminar was on how to network, as somehow I volunteered to attend a firm networking function Thursday evening.  Those of you who know me, know that this sort of interaction is not my natural fit.  I'm a fairly boring person and I find talking in those sort of settings rather difficult.  Still, it could be useful for me (things being how they are) and, really, what's the worst that will happen?  I'll look like a doofus.  Considering the firm is letting me go anyway...!

I caught up with Dad at the Guild meeting tonight.  He's doing well, although he looked like the cold snap is not making his joints move any easier.  I feel pretty bad for him.  Hope he's OK.  I was back here by 9:30pm and, because the blues had had a bit of a hold on me today I decided that the best thing I could do was go for a run as that always brings me back to even keel.  I ran the 4 miles to St Marys in Coburg in good time considering I hadn't been running for a couple of weeks, then came back here, had a shower and made dinner (pasta, bell pepper, onion and tuna).  Talked to Sophie and Toby for a bit, which was an education.  Sophie and I were sharing a bundle of differing perspectives on Albury and the Riverina region ands trying to identify friends in common.  And we learned that Toby is a Korean pop music buff...  I now know far more about K-Pop than I ever did before!

On the job front, I've arranged to see the recruiter my employer recommended at lunch tomorrow.  I also spotted a job at Victoria University (in Melbourne, not Texas) that I'll shoot an application off on when I log on.  The more, the better.

OK, I guess that's it for the day.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Unfair. Unbalanced. Unmedicated.

Hi everyone,

Well, today got off to an 'interesting' start. And it got off to it early, in the form of three seriously weird dreams. When I say weird, I‘m talking about the sort of weird that had me scanning the label of last night's bottle of wine thinking "what the Hell are they putting in this stuff?". Anyway, the wine didn‘t contain anything you wouldn‘t have expected, so I just wondered vaguely what my subconscious was trying to tell me and went and had a shower and got the day underway.

I‘d earmarked the day to go to the office (surprise sur-sodding-prise) and by the time I got in there I was feeling distinctly strange. That is, my head felt like my brain was swelling inside it, there was a constant twitching ringing noise in my ears, I was having trouble thinking clearly, my eyes felt like they were about to start doing this zoom-lens thing, and anything contentious had me becoming insanely combative. After a while it dawned on me that I'd now forgotten my medication two mornings running, and that the last time this happened I'd felt exactly the same way (that time was last December, and unfortunately was the morning I was meant to be running a highly contentious matter in the Magistrates Court; I wound up screwing up badly enough for it to be raised in the performance management meetings). I was feeling bad enough to consider going back to Brunswick to rectify the situation but decided to press on since I was there. I managed to get more-or-less into my stride, apart from feeling a bit strange and (at about 9:00pm) I had this weird feeling that Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean was about to come around the corner and lurch into my office with cutlass in tentacle.  This was less fun than it sounds: for one thing, there was nothing on the syllabus at law school about dealing with homicidal octopodal figments of your own imagination.

What was actually worse was that I heard that bad voice of mine coming out again. There was a story in the Sunday Age newspaper over an utterly insignificant issue that I began composing a response to inside my head. This is where that voice came out. I'm sure you know the voice I mean. Some of you have been unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of mine. The one that drips with contempt and disgust and barely concealed rage. The one that's aggressive and obnoxious and that won't concede anything and talks over the top of any disagreement. It honestly makes me ashamed to think of the times Joni was on the receiving end of mine.  Sometimes it was over utterly unimportant things (the merits of Harry Potter novels or the movies Casino Royale or 300).  Sometimes it was over things that really did matter (no, I'm not giving specifics).  Do I wonder why a lot of the time she preferred to spend time with her friends rather than with me?  Not really, no.


Sometimes sorry is an utterly inadequate word.

The day wasn't, in any event, a huge success.  I cranked out a fairly detailed letter of advice, but by 11pm I was out of time to do the case review that I need to finish by tomorrow.  There'll be trouble over that.  Dinner at the office was an improvement on the last crop of office dinners and was kind of the high point of the day (it turns out it's possible to make up a packet pasta with bell pepper and tuna using the cookware in the office kitchen).  So, at least there's culinary progress being made.

OK.  It's late and it's surely bedtime.

See you tomorrow.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saturday and Lunch

Hi everyone,

It's been a really good day!  I was out of bed earlier than is my wont on Saturday, which was great as suddenly I had a bigger chunk of the morning to do stuff in.  Leaving the blind open overnight was a great idea - when the sun's up and the room's bright, it's kind of hard to rationalise curling up for even more sleep.  Score!

I used the extra time to read over some things and look for jobs on the web.  It feels good to be flexing my historian's muscles again, it really does.  I was hoping to skype with the girls and sent a message to Joni using Facebook Messenger, but FB has been playing up again and so she only got it after the girls were in bed.  Will try again tomorrow.  At a bit after midday I headed over to Jennie and JPs' place for lunch.  Mum and Dad and Fran and Michael were already there by the time I got there (I hit crappy traffic on Nicholson street and Punt Road).  Lunch was great - rolls with ham, salami, chicken and salad vegetables.  Mum and Dad look well and the place at Shepparton wasn't damaged in a hailstorm that swept through there a week or so back.  Fran still looks like she's doing well.  What I noticed suddenly was that she doesn't talk in that garbled mumble she always used to use a lot.  Honestly, maybe getting out of nursing was the best thing she could have done for herself.  Also, she had a chocolate egg with a little fluffy toy duck for Grace and Rachel, so I'll put that in the next package to go over - I was really touched by that!

Sigh: the people in this world I love most are all on opposite sides of the planet.

We all got on the road again at about 4:30ish.  I decided to get my groceries from the Safeways that Joni and I always used to go to when we lived in that area.  I'm pretty over office dinners, so I made a point of getting some actual meat and fresh vegetables as well as the usual grocery odds and ends.  I've also been craving wine for a while (I appreciate that that sentence makes me sound like a poor man's Oliver Reid) so I also went to a Dan Murphys on my way back to Melbourne as they usually have wine at bargain basement prices.  When I say bargain basement, I mean I walked out of there with four bottles of Cab Merlot for $10.00.  OK, it's not the world's greatest wine, but at $2.50 a bottle it doesn't have to be.

When I got back here I cooked up some of the meat I'd bought (kangaroo burgers!) with a roll and some onions and gravy -

and added to the nutritional value with some oranges as well for dessert.  It was a pleasant evening with some of the housemates - Toby (who describes himself ethnically as a bananna: yellow on the outside, white on the inside (his exact words)) experimented with adding wasabi to red curry.  When he mentioned this to Amrit - one of the Indian housemates - he got the same look of despair that I'd have to give to someone who smothered a piece of rare Scotch fillet in tomato sauce.  Some things are common to every culture on the planet!  I feel a lot of sympathy for Amrit: he's working here in IT, but he has a wife and a little 6 month old son in Mumbai, so we're kind of in the same boat.  He's hoping to bring them out here, but that brings up the challenge of finding a place to live and getting her and his son a visa.  Poor guy.

I'm a little ashamed to say I didn't put the rest of the evening to great use: I wound up watching the end of The Goonies and then a bit of Star trek for a bit.  And now, blogging, cleanup, water and bed.

Oh, and Mum brought my runners up today, so I can get some running happening.  Endorphins ahoy!

OK, I guess that's it.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Garlic and Avignon

Hi everyone,

Blogging horizontally tonight (tired and with a headache). I‘ve got the TuneIn Radio app on my phone playing French pop music from Radio Star in Avignon.

It‘s been a busy day. I did an interview with an employer witness at a hospital at 8am and went to the office from there. Spent the day doing a bunch of mopping up work - settling defences, drawing briefing letters, arranging surveillance and so on.

Lunch was supplied by the firm, along with an address from two of the articled clerks about the current state of online retailing in Australia. From what they said, the major retailers have grasped that they need to get on  board with online retailing, but haven‘t grasped that it‘s not enough just to have an online store; they need to offer competitive prices.  Why DJs think I‘ll buy dishware (for example) from them when I can buy it for a third the price from is difficult to understand.

Friday drinks were good. I picked up a microwave lasagna on the way back here and spiced it up with some garlic powder and cayenne pepper. A bit too much garlic powder, judging by the inside of my mouth.

Haing lunch at Jennie‘s tomorrow and will have to break the news to parentals about the whole “sacking my arse for incompetence“ thing.  Otherwise the plan for the weekend is to apply for more jobs. Called another recruiter today. No call back yet.

Ok, I guess that‘s it for the moment.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thursday evening

Hi everyone,

It'll be a brief post tonight - it's already after midnight and I need to interview an employer witness on site at 8:00 tomorrow.

The day was, in any case, not specially eventful.  Court in the morning, in a matter with an unrepresented litigant (which is only the second time in my career I've faced such a thing).  He's sacked his solicitors and is seeking new representation.  The Court has put the matter over for two months to let him find someone prepared to take the matter on (which I think will be difficult; certainly I would not have been keen to act for him in my past life).

Speaking of my past life, I had a first interview at a plaintiff firm this morning as well.  I think I did the interview OK and gave a good account of myself and (discreetly) outlined why they should hire me.  I managed to find some enthusiasm from somewhere, chiefly from the part of my brain that has heard that they pay well.  Well, let's see if they offer me a second interview before we get too worried about whether I want the job!  If all else fails, there's always Plan C (standing outside the Magistrates Court with a sign that reads "Will litigate for food").

I tried to work in the evening and did get a few things done but by 9:00 decided to throw the towel in.  I ducked out to Officeworks to print off some more photos of Joni and the girls to update the ones on the stickyboard at the Casa.  I was back here by 10:00 and had dinner and then spent a pleasant couple of hours yakking to some of the housemates.  Came back up here to have a shave and shower and type this post.

OK, I guess it's bedtime.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Skype and Memories

Hi everyone,

I'm starting this post at midday on the tram to the office.  The logistics of getting to the office from my place while the Anzac day march was underway looked discouraging, so I slept a bit later, skyped with Joni and the girls, watched a bit of the march on TV, read a few things I sourced yesterday and otherwise filled in the morning.

To be honest, the march was kind of disquieting. Melbourne‘s currently in a cold snap and the rain this morning has wavered between drizzling and pounding. It was just kind of disquieting to see so many of the old men walking bare headed through it. I know it‘s pathetic but I kind of worry about that sort of thing.

Still, I always seem to see something new each Anzac day - this year, a group for the WW2 British-Karen alliance from Burma.

It was seriously awesome to skype with Joni and Grace and Rachel. Joni had given each of them one of those jam-and-butter cookies I sent over a little while back, and that meant a lot to me. Although Grace did seem a little unsure about her one, and Rachel was enthusiastically dismantling hers, giving poor Joni a job with the dustbuster. I guess you‘d say it was a vision of "home". Joni and I used to talk about the feeling of home a lot when we were courting. And now, it‘s wherever she and they happen to be.

[Insert an 8 hour gap for me to get to the office, do some stuff, and then come back to the Casa]

As I was saying, we used to talk about "home" a lot when we were courting.  I made her feel like anywhere could be home (she told me) and she made me feel comfortable in my own skin in a way I never had before.  I guess I'm talking in cliches here, but it doesn't mean they're not true.  And I guess that's what makes me miss her and our girls so much.  Once I never thought that my bit of Australia would feel foreign.  And now I don't think it'll ever again feel completely like home.  I miss holding her in the night and drifting off to sleep with her.  I keep going back to a little road trip we made just before I began my current job - a Sunday driving around the Yarra Valley, with the girls in their front-facing car seats for the first time and Alan Jackson and Norah Jones on the speakers, and how at about 5pm, we stopped to let the girls stretch out at a football oval at Croydon.  I love the photo I took of Joni and the girls there in the afternoon light (can't post it for formatting reasons) because I knew how precious that moment was.  I know... I'm rambling... Sorry.  Sometimes when I'm really thinking about that sort of thing, I just drift into memories.

Skype and memories.  That would make a good title for a book, no?

Today wasn't the most productive day I've ever had - kind of struggling to focus but I did at least finish what I set out to so I guess that's something.  Dinner at the office and then out of there at 8:30pm.  Had a look at the website of the firm I'm having a preliminary interview at tomorrow and thought through how to answer the obvious questions.  Feeling OK about it.

I guess I should wind this up and go and have a cleanup and an earlyish night.  Missing my little family like hell tonight.  Well, the sooner I get on and do the things I need to here, the sooner we'll be back together again.  Soon, soon.


OK, I should turn in or I'll be rambling again.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Hi everyone,

Not sure what my state of mind is today. Partly because I just spent a significant chunk of time lurking at a very chilly tram stop due to a collision of some type back down the line. This is not an experience it‘s easy to feel positive about.

Added to which, tomorrow is a public holiday, which would be great if I didn‘t know full well I‘ll be at the office. Some more of my hallmark incompetence came out today, leaving me wondering if decency mightn‘t require me to refund quite a lot of wages to my employer. Or at least to pay back to them the difference between what they‘ve spent paying me and what they could have spent had they instead employed a chimpanzee or perhaps a moderately intelligent houseplant.

As I said, I‘m having a hard time thinking constructively this evening.

When I was finishing my law degree, back in 2001, I had a quotable quote all set to go with my photo in the law school yearbook. (I don‘t actually have a copy of the yearbook, I should add: right after my photo was taken I had a sudden attack of fear over something - it‘s a long story involving coffee - and walked out; I expect my photo is listed as “unidentified“ which, with its denial of identity, seems quite appropriate). Anyway, the quotable quote was going to be “talent is no substitute for hatred and desire“, referring to something at law school I had very little of and the two things I had in spades. The point is that, if I‘ve learned nothing else from the last year and a bit, I‘ve learned that talent is an astonishingly useful thing. I‘ve also learned that (pace Clive James) desire can be sated, or at least, exhausted. And I‘ve learned that hatred will eventually burn itself out.

* * * * *

Well, I‘m back at the Casa, and in a rather better frame of mind. For one thing, I was back in enough time to watch a new Big Bang Theory on Channel Nine, and there‘s nothing like something that makes you laugh for improving how the world looks. And I had dinner with a cluster of the housemates downstaies which was also a welcome change from listening to the voices inside my head. And now I‘m lying in bed with ABC FM on having read some of the book of Hosea and now, typing this.

I‘ve been missing the girls even more than usual lately. Whenever I see parents out with kids, or even a picture of a parent holding a child (like the one on the Coles delivery vans) I just get a pang. It‘s more than just missing my little princesses. I think you‘d say I miss feeling like a father, and doing all the little things I used to love doing, like going to their room last thing at night to make sure they had noonies and were covered up, or playing little games with them on the floor, or reading them Henry‘s Awful Mistake with all the hand gestures (Rachel always thought that was hysterically funny), or keeping those busy little hands occupied long enough to change them.  Thank God for the future, that I get to be a dad for the next three score years and ten (yes, that adds up to 104 years once you count my current age... I come from long lived stock).

All of which leads me to a reminder (one can‘t call it a conclusion) I didn‘t expect to reach when I started typing: Bugger law school. Bugger my job. Bugger a whole swathe of other things. I need to find a way of always reminding myself that the list of really important things in life is pretty short. And that Joni and Grace and Rachel are always going to be at the top of mine, and never need to be in doubt about it.

And BTW, skype date tomorrow morning!!! I am a happy little Vegemite!

See you tomorrow.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Good day, with the world's lamest workout!

Hi everyone,

There was a lot in today.  And most of it was good.

So the day started off awkwardly.  I slept through my alarm, so my first coherent thoughts of the day were along the lines of "Mmmfh ... it's 8:10am.  I need to be in court at 9:30...   WTF? IT'S 8:12AM (sic) AND I NEED TO BE IN COURT AT 9:30!!!".  I dressed in record time and bolted for the tram stop and was at work dead on 9:00am.  A couple of phone calls later I headed for court and attended to this morning's matters.  Never was I so glad to subsequently get my first coffee of the day in.  And at about that time I got an email from Joni re yesterday's matter which resolved my core concern so that was a huge plus.

I spent a healthy chunk of the day preparing for the afternoon case review (singular).  I also had one more of the meetings regarding my impending departure from the firm.  They'd put 30 June as a timeline for me to find other work, which is great - if I can't find work by then, then clearly the economy's so bad we're all screwed!  If I can go earlier, great, and if at that time I have a job on the line but need a week or two more, then they're open to flexibility.  Really, if you're going to be sacked, this is the firm to be sacked from.  And I guess it makes business sense for them too: by doing it this way, they keep me invested in the firm and not just losing all motivation to work, and ensure that when I leave, I'm not going to want to badmouth the firm.

By 5pm I was on the fence about working late.  As tomorrow is clear, and Wednesday is a public holiday, I figured that another late night tonight would translate into a strong temptation to coast tomorrow, so I gave myself the evening off and came back here.  I planned to go down to the garage and do another burst of exercises like last week.  You remember how I did all those sit ups then?  Well, the muscles at the bottom of my stomach were pretty sore, but I thought they'd gotten over it, so down I went for some exercise.  Stretching - fine.  Star jumps - fine.  Push ups - I assumed the position and felt the weight of my innards slump into the aforesaid stomach muscles >faint whimpering as I found myself in a world of hurt!<. With that I guessed that I wasn't going to be able to do a whole bunch in the way of exercise and came back up here, where I engaged in the worlds lamest workout.  Was I listening to "Eye of the Tiger" while bench-pressing a rhinoceros?  No.  Was I watching a replay of Rumble in the Jungle while pumping iron?  No.  Was I watching The Big Bang Theory while doing arm lifts with a bottle of mustard in one hand and a jar of Chicken Tonight in the other? Yes.  Yes I was.

Dinner was going to be tuna, pasta and tomatoes, but I was all out of pasta so I made rice instead.  Sadly, rice is a bit letdown when you have your dial set for pasta!  Still, there's plenty of it, and what I didn't eat tonight will be great as a side with some crumbed fish.

Tomorrow is a quiet day, save for going to the doctor about midday (nothing dramatic, just need a prescription renewed).  And the Anzac Day public holiday on Wednesday.

OK, I guess that's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Weekend over it.

Hi everyone,

So another weekend has been and gone. It‘s 11:20pm and I‘m waiting for the tram back to the Casa.

If my tone sounds flat, it‘s because I‘m struggling to find my ‘up‘ button. I‘m not actually having an attack of the blue devils. It‘s just a “dissatisfied with myself“ kind of thing.

Yesterday I indulged myself with a couple of hours at the Bailieu Library before going to the office, which was good. Good, but for one thing: for about 4 months now I‘ve been trying not to think about whether Joni finds me to be just a nuisance now, hence the usual lack of responses to text messages, emails, fb messages, letters and so on. I‘ve tried not to think about it, and always to find a doubt of which to give her the benefit. And yesterday while I was at the Bailieu something on facebook was just kind of the last straw and I sent her a couple of fairly hurt fb messages.  I don‘t know what, if any, the fallout will be. Maybe I‘ve finally fucked my marriage up forever. I don‘t know. I don‘t know.

I spent about 5pm to 11pm on Saturday at the office. Dinner there.

I slept too late this morning to make it to Mass, so I kind of started the day out annoyed with myself. In to the office from about midday to 11pm. Productive day, and I got to hear the NY Met. Opera‘s production of Verdi‘s Macbeth in the evening on the radio, so that was a plus. Dinner at office and now, heading back to the Casa.

I sent a job application off today, to one of the Universities for a research associate‘s job. It‘s not a job I‘m wild about, chiefly on economic grounds (part time, and pay is not great) but I may have limited options! So, let‘s keep our lines in the water.

I guess that‘s it for now. A little tired of myself this evening. Still, the sun will rise tomorrow and things, I‘m sure, will take a turn for the better.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Before turning in.

Hi everyone,

Just a quick little coda to the evening. About to sleep.

So I did indeed do microwave pizza for dinner. Thank God for chilis and garlic powder! Would have been awful bland otherwise. Had a yak to some housemates over dinner, then came up here, ate some of the cookies I bought at Coles and read for a bit. And now sleep. Not sure if activities for the weekend. Likely a lot of work, and also some of the homework from the exec coach today. And looking at jobs. And God willing, skyping with my three favourite ladies!


See you tomorrow.

Another Friday night

Hi everyone,

It‘s another Friday night. As per usual, I‘ve spent the early evening drinking my employer‘s wine. As per reasonably usual I‘m fixing to be in bed by 9:30pm. And as per not especially usual, it‘ll be microwave pizza for dinner. Not sure about the tv component yet. Will depend on whether I have the run of the Foxtel or not.

In case it‘s not apparent, I‘m on the tram and a little bit buzzed at time of writing.

It‘s been a desk heavy day - a brief court appearance in the morning and otherwise in the office all day. I met with an executive coach who works with the firm today. Essentially, the idea is to help me plan my next move. I was a little surprised to find that I‘d already thought through most of the issues in terms of satisfaction vs dollars. Kind of pleased with myself. Still, this process could be helpful and show me something of value, so let‘s give it a go!

I had a quick message chat with Joni last night. She explained that Rachel does seem to have been getting more clumsy lately, hence the occ therapy. God but I hope she‘s ok. Poor little pudding. It‘s one thing for me to be hopelessly unco and have done special PE. That‘s fine - that‘s my life. But I want their little lives and everything in them to be as damn near perfect as my pissant efforts can make them.

Ok. My stop. More later.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Hi everyone,
Another day of working hard but yet still running behind. I know it shouldn‘t matter to me, but the fact us that it does. I can tell you what I did today. In case you‘re having trouble sleeping or something.  In essence, I waded through a bunch of material to prepare for case reviews, discovered shitloads more things I hadn't done, squeezed in a County Court appearance, and overhauled an advice on a matter.  I've had more exciting days.

By 6pm I decided to be lazy and not work the evening as well, so I decided to go to the Bailieu Library at Melbourne University and research a few things that happen to interest me.  I went on the tram past the Melbourne City Baths (pictured), where I used to go to the gym and swimming pool a lot, at another phase in my life, and I felt ... something.  I don't know.  Nostalgia?  Not really a yen to have that stage of my life back, but something.  Anyway, so I went on up the Melbourne Uni.  Now, I'll never concede that Melbourne Uni comes in anywhere but second to Monash University in academic rigour (I'm sure you can guess the source of my bias!), but it surely has better architecture - that beautiful sandstone Gothic that this city did so well in the late 19th Century.  I tried (not successfully) to get a picture of the clocktower over the South Lawn in the moonlight (pictured).  It's really beautiful.  Sadly, Monash Uni was built in the 1960s in an ultra modern style that dated very quickly.  Lots of glass, stainless steel and concrete.  Great university, but timeless it its buildings are not.

So, my evening was spent looking at an interesting (to me) area of cultural history until I headed back here about 9:30pm.  Dinner was Macaroni Queso Mexicano (you can guess, I'm sure) and an episode of Married With Children.

I had an email from Joni today.  It seems Occupational Therapy has been recommended for Rachel.  I emailed back to ask if everything was Ok, but I think it was bathtime by then so I think the email went by the wayside.  I'll follow up later.  I worry about my little Rachel-Bear.  I hope it's nothing bad and that at worst she's just inherited her dad's physical co-ordination (which is still quite a curse: I actually did "Special PE" at one point in Primary School; for some reason, Joni wasn't surprised when I told her!)

Oh yeah, and they tested the fire warning system at work yesterday - I've uploaded the audio here.  Really, listen to it.  It's the most inappropriately cheerful evacuation message, with a little chirping siren to go with it.  If you didn't know it was telling you to evacuate, you'd swear it was selling laundry powder.

OK, bedtime.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Of ups and downs.

Hi everyone,

It‘s really been a day of ups and downs here.  I should have known it‘d be challenging when I woke up and a little voice in my head told me: “enjoy this little post sleep moment of being warm and contented and at peace; hang onto this moment, because this is the best you‘re going to feel for the next 18 hours“.

The voice was right. The day was a frantic slew of action on files, leavened with a couple of cajoling phone calls to other people and a tincture of panic.  This was broken up by a departmental meeting at lunch and half a dozen case reviews in the afternoon.

By 5:30pm I was drained but still had a lot to do, so I called a break, made myself a hot chocolate, and did some other stuff for a bit. Specifically I looked for jobs and did some brief research in the thing I mentioned yesterday. This lead me to formulate a hypothesis that I hadn‘t expected would present itself. I was heartily pleased over this and it gave me a burst of new energy which I translated into absorbing a new file and drafting an overdue defence. I had dinner at the office and got the last tram back here.

Why am I putting all this effort into a job from which I‘m being sacked? Am I dedicated? Too nice a guy? Desperate to have good references? Any suggestions are welcome. Because I suspect the answer is that it‘s because I‘m as dumb as a box of rocks.

Ok, time to sleep.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Another tram

Hi everyone,

Here I am again. Late tram back to Brunswick.

Actually, I shouldn‘t complain. A large whack of the evening was spent drafting up an application for a research job at one of the universities. And since all of the history jobs I‘ve looked at want publications, I also quickly scoped out another area for research. Since the few publications I have were all 10+ years ago, I was casting for something I can slough off a quick 5,000 odd words on, and lighted on a recent manifestation of millennialism, a field where I‘m reasonably familiar with the concepts and arguments. Watch this space.

The day itself was a bit disappointing. Not as much done as I‘d wanted to do, and there‘ll be Hell to pay tomorrow. I‘ve managed to fuck up and disappoint people. Again.

Met with the recruiter today. The job market is tight, but still pretty good for insurance and workers compensation lawyers. He had in mind a couple of workers comp decence firms, and one plaintiff firm, who he understands are hiring. They apparently all pay pretty well, and it‘s work I know but, honest to God, I really don‘t want to do more litigation. But on the other hand, the sooner I pay off the moving debts, the sooner I can be back with my little family. And I think that will swing the balance: when I was emailing my CV today I found a photo of the girls when they were only 2 days old, and my heart melted. I know where I have to be.

I guess that‘s the update for another night. Bed feels good already.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Note from the management

Hi everyone,

I had a longer entry typed, but after an hour of messing around with I still haven‘t been able to recharge my aircard, so I‘m going to post this from my phone and turn in. It‘s a fitting coda to a day that‘s been as much fun as a long car ride with the flatulent offspring if Jabba the Hutt.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

This Sunday night

Hi everyone,

Not sure how this‘ll go: blogging from my phone with a rapidly flattening battery.

It‘s been a full weekend, I think. I slept disgracefully late on Saturday (no, not giving times!). As I foreshadowed on Friday night, I took my laptop to Hungry Jacks to use their WiFi to sort out the problems skype was having, which took about 40 minutes. Then back to Brunswick to collect the car to go to the 60th of an old friend at Kyneton. It was a good get together; a lot of the people I worked with at the last job were there. My old boss and his wife were making a weekend if it, staying over at Daylesford. And three of the secretaries I used to work with were there too. One of them I felt especially bad about, as she seems to be getting over another mental breakdown. Poor thing. Everyone asked after Joni and the girls, which was nice, and they also said I seemed to have lost weight! It was great to catch up with them again.

I was craving fresh coffee by the time I left, so I stopped at Woodend where a couple of take aways were still open. There‘s something great about fresh coffee when you‘re out and about in cold weather (Woodend and Kyneton are both up in the Macedon Ranges - it was chilly up there last night!). It‘s one of those unfailingly comforting things. 

I got back to Melbourne about 10:00pm, in enough time to skype with Joni and the girls. They were in their highchairs and eating handfuls if pecan Special K. They‘re just such beautiful, beautiful little things. I miss them!!! Grace was talking a lot. Rachel seemed quiet, but Joni says she‘s benefiting from the speech therapy, so she must just have been feeling quiet. I miss them. A lot.

Today was spent getting groceries and going to the office. Got through about 66% of what I‘d planned to do and checked out some useful employment sites Jennie had emailed to me. Dinner at the office (an experience which has rather lost its novelty!) and now, blogging from the tram.

So there you have it: my weekend. Hope all yours have been good too.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Hi everyone,

Here I am on the couch on a Friday evening.  Nothing fancy; just channel surfing.  I'm afraid this might not be as long an update as it should be.  Sorry.  I really should have been in bed a couple of hours ago.  Horribly tired

So in the highlights, on Wednesday I had the meeting with my boss(es) and HR as discussed.  The key message was that they seemed to keep having similar problems wkith my work every week.  I guess that's true.  They agreed it wasn't for want of trying - God knows I've tried, and for long before I came to my current employer, but I just seem fundamentally ill-suited to defence practice.  I really couldn't argue.  Indeed, I had to admit that even if I could come up with two or three good weeks on the trot, I couldn't guarantee that I could sustain it.  So, although no end dates have been set, they got across the message that this would be a good time for me to look for a job elsewhere.  We've agreed to meet again Monday week and reassess from there.  I really can't fault the process.  They've been pretty good with the time frames, and giving me fair warning, and I appreciate that they're running a business too, so I've also tried to be reasonable.  As I see it there's no point being difficult.  What would I rather have them say about me as referees?  "He tried hard, and he had a great work ethic, but he just wasn't the right fit for our line of work; it was a shame to lose him" or " he was difficult, defensive, and always thought he knew best; we were glad to see the back of him".  So I've had a look at a few things.  There's a research job at University of Melbourne that's vaguely within my field, as well as an advocacy job for Melb Uni Student Union (well within my capacities).  And I've also called my last recruiter to see if he has anything on the boil.  I've also had a look for history jobs.  Interestingly, there's a fair bit of that work in the US (but bugger all in Australia).  Some in Texas, with the TX Historical Commission, and some in Maryland, with a professional history firm.  Both of which would put me a damn sight closer to Joni and the girls than I am now, but which also require more recent publications than I have.  So, it looks like I'm stuck here for the foreseeable future, but I'm optimistic that this is just a bit of a bump in the road.

Which is kind of encouraging.  Thinking how I've struggled to cope with things in the past, I should be a blubbering mass in a corner right now, but I'm not inconsably stressed.  Sure, it's a nuisance I could have lived without, but I'll find a job no problem, so Joni and Grace and Rachel will be OK, and we'll plan the rest of it from there.  As Dr Facilier says in The Princess and the Frog, this is just a minor setback in a major operation.  Although he does say that just before the Voodoo creatures eat him, so maybe that isn't the best turn of phrase in the situation!

I should add that I had a great conversation with Jennie about work and all the other night, and her fellow is happy to review my CV if I need.  He's been looking for a job in recent times, so he's got a pretty good idea of what will sell, so that's a great thing to have on my side as well.

Work has been a bit frustrating this week.  Two matters adjourned at the door of the Court because the plaintiffs decided they weren't ready, and a matter today that we settled after a morning's bargaining.  Worthwhile, I think: it actually settled for about the true value of the case; I think in this case negotiation actually got a better result than a finding by the Court would have done.

This evening's been quiet.  Friday night drinks at work, which morphed into dinner supplied by work too (long story), and then I came back here to the Casa.  While we were in the boardroom which is the drinks venue I got a rather good photo of the sunset on my phone, which photo is herewith.  Then back here, where I saw the last half or so of the Nicole Kidman / Will Ferrell movie Bewitched, which I though was a lot better than the critics gave it credit for.  For one thing, it had a good cast (c'mon - Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Michael Caine ... what's not to like??).  For another, I'm a fan of both of the leads.  Nicole Kidman is a remarkably good actress, even if she's a bit limited (to steal Dorothy Parker's comment on Katherine Hepburn, she runs the gamut of emotions from A to B).  And Will Ferrell has an Arthur Askey like level of detail to his comic technique (although you do realise, when you see Stranger than Fiction, that his dramatic and comic styles are remarkably the same; the dramatic side of his work is essentially the comic side, with the volume turned down and the kinetic energy turned off.  Oddly, this gives him a genuinely tragic style.

The other thing I caught was about half of Napoleon Dynamite.  I remember it was Joni who introduced me to that movie.  She said it was one of those films that you either find enthralling or that you find stupid.  I was odd inasmuch as I found it neither: it just seemed to me incredibly sad - a long story in which there really aren't any winners among either the cool kids, the adults, the weirdos or the wannabees.  Just a parade of different types of losers with lives going nowhere.  That, and how they respond to it, give the movie its pain, but also give it its humanity.

Here endeth the Roger Ebert impersonation.

This will be a busy weekend.  Tomorrow morning I'll need to head to somewhere with free Wi-Fi so I can reinstall my malfunctioning Skype (my little aircard doesn't have the bandwidth), so I'll be off to the State Library, or McDonalds, or Starbucks.  While I'm at it I'll overhaul my CV and draft up a few letters.  In the afternoon I've agreed to go to the 60th birthday of an old friend I used to work with, up at Kyneton.  A lot of my old contacts will be there, so it's a good use of money and petrol to reinvigorate those contacts, things being how they are, as well as being able to see a lot of old friends too.  Sunday I expect I'll need to go to the office.  for better or worse, I'm still on the payroll, and they're still entitled to have me try as best as I can.

And somewhere in there I need to go for a few runs!  My knees and hips are still a bit for from the triple-Tan a week ago, but I think by tomorrow they should be able to cope with a bit of exercise.  Here's hoping, at least!

OK, my eyes are closing. According to me, it's highly bedtime!

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Quick update

Hi everyone,

This will be a double-quick update. Will do a longer one tomorrow.

The big news is that I had another meeting with my boss and another partner and HR yesterday. It was conveyed that they feel this would be a good time to look for work outside the firm. This didn‘t come as a total shock. In some ways it‘s kind of a relief. I spent yesterday evening scoping out jobs and today called a recruiter (waiting on call back). Naturally it‘s a bit disappointing, and of course I‘m worried about providing for Joni and the girls, but I‘m also kind of looking foward to a new challenge - maybe even something in the history field!

I‘ll update this more tomorrow. Although if you know of anyone who might want to employ a personal injuries lawyer with 9 years PQE and who majored in history and has an honours degree therein, get in touch. Would be happy to work in the US - much closer to my girls!!!

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Warning - could be whiny!

Hi Everyone,

This is a quick post before I leave the office.  It turned into kind of a late night and - you guessed it - an office dinner.  It's been a reasonable productive day.  A few critical things brought under control, and a two hours conference with counsel and some employer witnesses in the afternoon.

Depressingly I have a strong suspicion that tomorrow I'll be told I've got two weeks to clear my desk.  I've tried, God knows I've tried to give the firm what it wanted.  I'm too-aware that I've fallen short.  Oh joy.  I'm happy to start again, and to look for work in a different field like I said in yesterday's post, but this isn't a great time to be out of work.  I've already been preparing the ground with Mum and Dad, mentioning that there are "rumours of staff cuts" because I can't bring myself to tell them that I'm a gnat's wing off being sacked for incompetence.  It just feels wrong to saddle them with that sort of shit when stretching the truth will do just as well.

Feeling annoyed with myself that I sent Joni a fairly snappy email warning her that this is how the wind is blowing.  Gripe.  Never fair to take this sort of shit out on her or the girls.

OK, it's 10:30pm.  Time to wheel my backside out of here.  At least tomorrow I have a matter on tomorrow where we have a great defence.  If I'm going out, it's going to be with a bang.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter Long Weekend - an audiovisual fiesta!

Hi everyone,

This post was written over the three days I was away over the Easter long weekend at the family's new place at Shepparton.  It was mostly written on my phone at night in multiple sections.  I'll try and edit it into shape now, but if it seems a little Frankensteinian, that's why.


It's 9:10pm as I draft this, and I‘m in bed (well, specifically on a thin foam mattress on the floor under a doona) in the house on the new property. It‘s quiet as a crypt here. You can‘t hear a motor running, or a dog bark, or a bird call. The only audible sound is one mosquito and the click of my phone as I type.

So much I want to say. Well, I think I should cover the day first. I didn‘t sleep well last night. It took me a long time to sleep, and even when I did I had rather unsettling dreams involving food and busses.  I don't recall the details, although I remember they weren't enjoyable.  Anyway, I found I woke up tired.  I had a bit of breakfast, and Dad and Michael and I were getting ready to go when one of the neighbours (well, actually one of the neighbours‘ property managers) rolled in seeking Dad‘s help with pulling a calf (since he‘s the only person in the district who owns pulling tackle). This did mildly annoy me - I got the feeling his good nature was being a bit abused. Still, it didn't seem to trouble him so I guess that's what's critical.

We got on the road about 11:00am and came up to the new place. It‘s an impressive bit of geography. The house is frankly palatial. Well, not in the sense of something you could find on Toorak Road in Melbourne or St Charles Avenue in New Orleans, but it's large with mains power, running water, reasonable carpet, and multiple bedrooms. The gardens have run a bit to seed and there's an abandoned tennis court. I had limited time to explore the rest of the buildings, although they appeared to run to a large shearing shed

shearers' quarters, a machinery shed and a general storage shed,

as well as a set of yards clearly built for sheep rather than cattle.

We unloaded the mower and other things we‘d brought up, then headed over to the block at Rushworth to get some furniture we had over there. This took us through Rushworth township

and then on to the block there.

We loaded up a lounge and a couple of armchairs and a few other things and then came back here. It was dark by the time we were back here, with a full moon the colour of honey hovering over the horizon. We unloaded the furniture, then heated up some stew Michael had made for dinner, followed by the present early night.


I slept pretty well last night, but for a weird dream of which I can‘t recall the details. The foam mattress being on the floor was surprisingly good: my spine felt better than it had in ages when I woke up. I woke up about 6:30am and lay listening to the dawn chorus for a bit, then realized that there was no reason not to get out in the clean air and see it up close and personal.  I took a bunch of photos in the light of the rising sun of the sheds,

the nearest paddocks,

and of the steam rising off the dam.

I also encountered a friendly native in the shearing shed.

I did a 360° video near the gate to the paddocks - you can hear the birds in the background.

By this time Michael and Dad were on their feet too and Michael cooked up breakfast of toast, sausages and baked beans. We took a look over the paddock at the stock up here

and looked into a fairly unappealing little shack some distance from the house.

The morning was otherwise taken taken up with work around the house and sheds. Dad scoped out the cattle yards and various sheds. I moved 3 barrows of firewood up to the house and also retrieved a bed base out of the shearers quarters and washed the dust off it to put my mattress on (not a complete success: I‘m lying on it at this moment and I can feel my backside and parts of my spine sagging between the slats!). I was also able to check out an older couple of items onthe place. One was a trolley cart of which the wheels were cut from whole rounds of a tree.  Judging by the weight of it and what little metal fixings for harness remained on it I‘d say it was designed to be pulled by bullocks.

The other feature was the little shed beside it. When I had a look inside, it turned out that the tin roof had been simply laid over an earlier roof of bark, and the walls were logs with the gaps filled with stones and mud.

Going purely from general knowledge of history and so on I‘d put its construction in the 1870s-1880s (basically, it has to be before better construction materials were readily available and while large logs and sheets of bark were readily available; the 1880s seems a reasonable guess noting that when the Kelly Gang made its last stand at Ann Jones‘ hotel in Glenrowan in 1880 it had still made sense for that building on an established rail line and with a significant potential clientele, to have had a bark roof).
After lunch we moved some more furniture about and cut some of the fallen branches off the road fence. Michael did the cutting; I did the chucking away. We were able to cut off a respectable amount of firewood as well. I found time to take another 360° video while we were about it.

As the sun went down I got a few more pictures of the sun refracting through the west-facing glass of the front door and its adjacent window. We got a fire going in one of the fireplaces.

I took another 360° video of the fire and the surrounding room. It made me think of the fire we had going at the home place, when Joni first came out here and we had the home place to ourselves for two nights, and it made me miss her a lot. I took a picture of the fire and typed her a quick email that‘ll send when my phone next has some reception.  As yet I haven't heard back.  I think sometimes the time delay means she gets these things so long after the event there seems no point replying, which just breaks my heart.  It's like the universe is trying to get the whole "no-one gives a damn because you're so far away" thing into my head.

The dynamic between Dad and Michael remains interesting to watch. What I recall saying about it once before bears repeating: Michael is the son Dad never had.  And I couldn't be happier to say it. He can talk agriculture in a way that I just never could. And having him about seems to make Dad feel young too. I know that I should be jealous and bitter and all, but I'm genuinely not. It just seems to be a really fortunate way for things to have panned out. The other thing is that we've all had a few doubts about whether this is a good relationship for Fran. Hearing Michael talk about her, my feeling is that it is.  That is, that he does care a lot about her and wants to make her happy, even though his manner with her might be a bit offhand. It might not be the sort of relationship I‘d want, but it seems to work for them, which is good enough for me.


I'm blogging this before I forget it. I've just woken up from a series of dreams, all of which involved blazing conflict:
  1. A fight with an old friend Vincent L who was convinced I‘d been bad mouthing him and his mother which I had no recollection of doing (I should add that I haven't seen Vincent in a couple of years);
  2. A blazing fight with Dad at Glenhope over the Corporations Act after a distant family member had gotten into trouble; for some reason I was back at my last job when this happened;
  3. Two dreams, both set in the Disney movie The Aristocats - which I‘ve never seen! - where I‘d gotten into a fight with a pet store owner after some prize cat had gotten too fat, and where I then began to act in the most inflammatory ways imaginable, although more by being mischievous and insulting than actually violent.
I have no idea what any of this means.


Today was a good way to end the weekend.  We spent some time re-wiring the electric fence unit which is in one of the sheds, to get it back a bit from the weather.  I took a couple of photos of the surrounds

And another 360-degree video.  After that was done we set to, cleaned the place up a bit further and got on the road.  Traffic was heavy with people returning to Melbourne.  I took a couple of quick snaps of the countryside by the Hume Highway.

We got back to the home place about 4pm.  I stayed for dinner and drove back to town about 9:30, getting back about 11pm.  Will log on, upload the photos and videos and post this and then turn in.  This will be a big week at work.

* * * * *

Over the weekend I've thought a lot about the email Jennie sent me, urging me to think about doing something more rewarding with my life than just being a lawyer. Oddly this has been counterpointing inside my head with that John Mellencamp song, Rain on the Scarecrow.

Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plough;
This land fed a nation, this land made me proud

Those of you who know me understand that I've pretty well made peace with the fact that I‘m not going to be a farmer. Despite a lot of attempts to learn and absorb that sort of knowledge, it‘s something for which I have less than no aptitude. I still have a twinge when I see a statue like “Young Herdsman and a Bull"

but I know that isn't me, and that trying to be that person could only lead to an ocean of regret.

Well there's ninety-seven crosses planted in the courthouse yard;
And ninety-seven families who lost ninety-seven farms

I‘ve also been able to accept in the last few months that I find being a lawyer profoundly unsatisfying.  I can admit that from almost the first day back in 2002 (or even when I began my law degree in 1997), I've found it an immensely stressful chore, rather than a challenge to be excelled at or an actual career to be pursued.  It must be the only thing I've ever found that combined mind-numbing boredom and gut-wrenching stress. There's just no way that a vocation should feel like this.  Where a disastrous interview for another job in the legal field so messed with my sense of wholeness that it spoiled what should have been a lovely long weekend away for Joni and me (Easter 2009). Where I'm so automatically afraid to leave my work for any length of time that I didn't - to my unending regret - take time off work after my girls are born. Where I have such a low opinion about myself that - even after working for him for 8 years - I could barely bring myself to ask my boss for the luxury of working from home one day a week to care for Grace and Rachel. And where having my ‘dream job' with my present employer has regularly seen me driving home hating myself so much that I could only think of how much better off Joni and Grace and Rachel would be without me, and in the end fairly regularly getting my head read and having a multiple-repeat prescription for antidepressants.

Being a lawyer is a good thing. I‘ve been able to help a lot of people and do some things of which I can be rightly proud. But there is no way on God‘s earth I‘ll do it forever.  Jennie's thoughts - that I should look at working in a historical or history-related field - actually seems instinctively right.  By way of example, when we were messing around with the electric fence unit this morning, I noticed an odd manufacturer's stamp on a door inside the shed -  a pattern of Stars of David and crescent moons.

With the maker's name being H&T Vaughan Ltd.  And the first thought I had was - will the ASIC database tell me when they were incorporated?  When were they active?  How did this lock mechanism come to be here?  And why did their logo use the customary symbols for Judaism and Islam?
Maybe you can't fight your own programming.

And grandma‘s on the front porch swing with a Bible in her hand;
Sometimes I hear singing "Take me to the promised land"

Tonight, Easter Saturday 2012, marks 5 years since I was (a) baptised and (b) received into the Catholic faith. Looking back on the process, I‘m not sure what to make of the fact that I didn't or couldn't (and I'm not sure which it was) tell my family I was going through the R.C.I.A. process. I have no idea what Dad would have made of it, save that I almost think he would have been just slightly embarassed even though I‘m not sure why. And I think Mum would have responded with perhaps slightly discouraging indifference. On the other hand, Kate and Fran would have been polite about it, and I think Jennie would have been positively encouraging and would have rather wanted to attend the service.  In hindsight, I regret not sharing this particular detail with her.  I'd love to say something deep and profound about having converted, but all I can really think of are platitudes and that seems inappropriate.  Suffice it to say that I am glad I swam the Tiber.  And even more so this evening now that a judicious prayer to St Joseph has kind of helped show me a way though a knotty little moment. 

* * * * *

Thanks for sticking with me through all of that...  You've been a great audience!

See you tomorrow.