Tuesday, 31 December 2013

So long 2013. It’s been emotional.

Hi everyone,

So here I am with my New Years Eve wrap-up on 2013.  Those of you who are regular readers know it’s been a big year.  I’ve drafted and redrafted this post a couple of times in my head today.  For want of any better ideas, I’ll hit the high notes in a quick recap and then see if I can extract any lesson or pearl of wisdom or whatever.  Does anyone know what the sequence of keystrokes is for a Brief Insightful Observation?  Ctrl-Alt-O maybe?

So, this year: a chronology somewhat unreliably and completely arbitrarily prepared from memory…


Disaster struck: one morning I woke up and was completely out of cornflakes!

In other news, within the space of seven days I was fired from my job and my wife served divorce papers on me.  You’d think the starting January out like that would be kind of for the best: “get the year’s disaster’s out of the way” and everything.  Truth is, that really doesn’t make you feel that much better.  What does make you feel better is the way everyone in your life who you needed to rally round does rally round.   In this regard, special mentions to my sisters Kate, Jennie and Fran, my parents, and my dearest friends Heather, Kris, Donna, Darlene and Giselle.  I couldn’t have made it without you.


Not a significant month: I looked for a job (work had given me eight weeks notice) and discovered the legal job market was something of a wasteland.  On the plus side, one of my contacts in New Orleans referred me to a lawyer, Mr Brett Bonin, to protect my interests in the divorce.  I can’t recommend him highly enough: exceptionally acute and incredibly … the only adjective that fits is ‘gentle’.  When you’re at your lowest, he’s the guy you want in your corner.


My eight weeks notice at work ran out, and having nothing to hold me in Melbourne I shifted to the farm at Shepparton and kept looking for work.  One opening showed up with a certain plaintiff firm and I went to an interview with them.

In running news, I did one of my first very-long-distance runs.  One evening at about 7pm (after a ferocious freak storm had rolled through!) I set out on a 50km run from the farm to Shepparton and back.  I was struggling - and more walking than running - by the end.  I finished at about 1am.  I can say I was proud and a little ‘incentivised’ by this: Doing that, you come out feeling a little bit less breakable.


Job market was still crummy.  I went to a second interview for the job I mentioned before … on a Sunday … at a pub in a town 200 kms away.  After some nagging I was then asked to go to a third interview in Melbourne for the same firm.

In this month I did the first of the foot races that I think appeal to me most: a race against a machine.  This was the Puffing Billy race - a 14km race against a steam train through the Dandenong Ranges.  There’s something incredible in racing against steel that can’t feel pain and an engine that doesn’t get tired.  I know, I know: “Marshall versus The Machine”!


There was still no word on the job I’d been interviewing for and I was beginning to go a little crazy for want of a job to go to.  Unemployment doesn’t just suck: it’s incredibly tedious.  I started sending enquiries about jobs to firms in my area essentially at random.  As it happened, I sent one to a certain firm on the same day one of their personal injuries lawyers said she would need maternity leave.  It was a match made in heaven: they needed a short term lawyer, and I needed a job to get some money in, give me a reason to get out of bed, and give me a chance to work out what my next step in life would be.  One interview later they gave me a date to start!

This, I should add, was just as well: I was about two weeks away from applying for a job as a slaughterman at the local abattoirs on the strength of their ad saying “no experience necessary”.


The most blessed month of the year for me: I was able to head over to the USA to see my darling daughters.  As only so much time was available to see them (and as time was something I had a lot of) I took a couple of days going across to explore Los Angeles and Dallas.  This had two corollaries.  One: I’m pretty sure Santa Monica answers my idea of heaven on earth.  Two: I made a new friend in Dallas - Lori, a friend of a good friend there.  One can never have too many friends!

Time with Grace and Rachel in Louisiana was … divine.  I had not seen them except on skype for 18 months, but they knew me and were as loving and beautiful as only your own children can be.  Things might not be easy living like this, no indeed, but for such children no sacrifice is too much.


I started the new job, back being a plaintiff lawyer.  I have loved being back on this side of the fence, and made a new friend in the form of my assistant Renae - the sort of dear friend you can trust with anything.


Life continued.  I think it was in this month I completed my first official marathon - the Shepparton Marathon - which I entered on the spur of the moment and for which I did nowhere near enough training.  I finished in a fairly crummy time upwards of 5 hours.


I cannot remember this month in any great detail.  I think it was about this time that I found I could run in the lunch-hour at work and have a shower and be back at my desk by 2pm.  Wonderful discovery!


Epic running month: one weekend I did the 10km “Run the Maine” in Castlemaine (largely because I needed to go there anyway to see a client).  The next weekend, the Melbourne Marathon.  This time I had trained properly and equipped myself to match, finishing in a respectable 4:30-odd.  The next weekend, another machine-race: the “Sweat versus Steam” in Echuca, racing a paddle steamer over 13kms.  For this last, sister Jennie and her husband and the parents came up to make a morning out of it, and I was very pleased by that.


An old and dear friend - Jane - came back into my life through the magic of Facebook.  There are many things that make a man happy, but few more so than a friend you thought had slipped away reappearing unlooked for.


The festive month.  Not much, I suppose, to share for the first few weeks of the month.  I had a beautiful Christmas skype with Grace and Rachel and they loved the presents the family and I here had sent to them.  All I need to do is figure out how to top this for their birthdays!


Can I get a lesson from all of this?  Yes.  It’s that friendship, and kindness, and love, really are what matters in one’s own world.  I know, I know: it’s nothing that countless writers haven’t said before.  But it’s an insight for me because there are other things in this year I could also be proud of if I wished - being offered two jobs in a crummy labour market with a sniff of a third.  Or a bundle of publications of greater and lesser significance.  Or not slumping back into strong depression again.  None of those things especially matter to me, save perhaps the third.  What matters is the bonds you have with people.

With all this in mind, I am very ready for 2014 to begin tomorrow.  Quod bonum tenete.

Friday, 27 December 2013

South again

Hi everyone,

Typing this at Flinders.  Dad, Michael and I came down yesterday to roll hay and set up for a builder to finish the shed.  Will probably return to Shepparton on New Years Day.

Things are very green down here.  It's been 6 months; I forgotten how like a garden this part of the world smells.  I'm hoping to get in a few good runs and maybe a swim while I'm here.

Feeling a bit lost at the moment, although i think most people feel that way between Christmas and New Year!  Certainly I'll be grateful to leave 2013 behind me.  I must not drift.  The drive down yesterday afternoon took me through the suburbs of outer south-east Melbourne, a place which (from having handled a lot of cases from there) feels like the place hopes and dreams go to be mummified.  Shudder.

More later.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Boxing Day morning

Hi everyone,

Typing this one just after breakfast on Boxing Day.  Hope you're all having a good Christmas.

Currently I'm really stuck in a Yuletide slump.  The next week has been mapped out for me by Dad and Michael who, in their usual style, made plans around me being available and then (and only then) asked "you didn't have anything else planned did you?".  I'd be more unhappy if it weren't for the fact that in still paying off debt and, apart from entering a few races, can't really afford to do a bunch of things.

Skype time with the girls in about an hour, which is great but awfully bittersweet.  Feel terribly sad at having hurt people.  Why did I give Mum and Dad the chance to be grandparents and then not make things happen to match?  Why did I take the job at Halls?

Why did I get effed up?

I know I won't feel like this forever.  Hopefully I won't feel like it for more than a few hours.  But now: right now  I feel like there's a big heavy cannon ball inside my stupid chest.

More shortly.

Friday, 13 December 2013

A Friday evening post

Hi everyone,

Typing this before I get on the road and while I have a bottle of water.

Disappointed by today.  Even for a day where I knew most of my work would be non-billable, to see my figures at 17% for the day and 68% for the week is just depressing.

I have these flashes of my mojo, but too much time spent not being as good as I can be.  And what saddens me is that in my ears I still hear the ex's voice telling me "you can't hold down a real job".  Every so often I have these flashes of brilliance, but mostly what I'm seeing this evening is a shitload of emails with little red flags which mean "follow up".

I know I can get this back on track.  Compared to the waist-deep s+++ I've been in at other times, this is just a week or two of being off my game.  But still: I suppose I'm acutely sensitive of where I score on the "loser index".

There's one more full week of work to go.  Let's make the bastard count.

More shortly.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Thursday Thousand

Hi everyone,

Something of an up-and-down day here in lawyer land.  The morning wasn't actually unproductive, but it was a little taken up with non-billable work.  Still, I was able to send off another journal article today, for one of the ABA newsletters, so there was that too.

Things were more productive after lunch, and I was feeling my legal mojo kicking in, so I'm feeling kind of good for tomorrow.

Went and did a site inspection at Mooroopna after work and feeling more confident about liability in a certain matter.  Then to Victoria Park Lake to grind out a few kilometres.  Very pleased to report that they were enough to get me up to 1000 miles (yes, miles) for 2013!  Let's see if I can do even better in 2014!

Warm night this evening.  Weather expected to be hot for a while.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Pre burger

Hi everyone,

Typing this while watching the end of The Cleveland Show and before Bob's Burgers.  The importance of TV in my life is kind of disheartening.

Up and down day at work.  Couldn't focus for shit in the morning.  Went up to Yarrawonga to see a new client with Renae in the afternoon.  Went well and should be a very good file for her to run.

Country drying out between here and the border.

Still just feel badly off my game and can't seem to come out of it.  I think I'll give it a week and if I can't shake it, go see the doctor (for want of any better ideas).

Monday, 9 December 2013

Tuesday lunch-hour

Hi everyone,

Quick post before I get back to work.  I just went to the post office and mailed some depressingly pedestrian gifts for the girls.  It was one of those times when, out of the blue, it hit me just how damn far away from them I am.  Less than awesome, as feelings go.

If I'm honest, knowing that makes most things feel pretty pointless.  All this dreck that I get published is just so much blather.  And even having gotten fit and healthy seems, I dunno, kind of hollow without my own little family to share it with.

I'm kind of making peace with the likelihood that I might well not find someone new, and in any case I'm not 100% sure I would want to.  I'd still like to have a little family of my own, but I also feel like that would be to treat a second wife or further children as (so to speak) a silver medal.  That isn't how you should treat someone.

Sorry - I know I'm being kind of a downer here!

More later.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Sunday afternoon

Hi everyone,

Typing this on a Sunday afternoon.  

It's been a quiet few days.  Office Christmas function on Friday night, which went well and far better than the GVLA dinner the Friday before.

Farm work yesterday.  A mile or so of steel posts lifted one by one with the backhoe and a lifting chain and the earth rammed tight about them with a crowbar.  I put this up on dailymile as 'rowing' and I surely have blisters to match.

Last night I finished the first draft if a sort article on a recent Privy Council decision.  I've spent this morning sketching the outline of a short piece for the ABA Workers' Comp newsletter.

When the day cools down a little I'll head out for a run.  Legs are tired but I kinda need it: having one of those slightly schizophrenic days where I don't much want to interact with anyone but keep checking Twitter and Facebook hoping someone will communicate with me!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Another hot and buggy night

Hi everyone,

It's another warm night here, and the window outside my room is again crawling with insects.  In the neighbour's paddock near to the house, a header is still grinding round at midnight.

A wind has just come up; not sure if any rain is in our future, although I imagine the grain cockies must be hoping not.

It was another 'blah' day at work: working ok but not how I was a while ago.  Good chat with Oldest Sister Economist on GoogleTalk about the challenge to the ACT's same sex marriage law.  The more I think about it , the less I'd be willing to predict the outcome, although I have a feeling the court may refuse to decide the matter on the grounds that the Commonwealth can override the law simply by declaring it invalid and no constitutional issue arises unless one of the states passes a gay marriage law.  I guess we'll see next Thursday when a decision comes down.

Parental units back from Flinders. All well.

Very tired tonight.  More tomorrow.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Warm Monday night

Hi everyone,

Typing this post on my phone in bed on a bloody warm, bug infested Monday night.

It's been a mixed day.  Tolerably productive, but I felt off my game and I'm still not working at anything like my peak. This annoys me.

Someone reminded me today that the office Christmas function is this Friday.  Seriously thinking of baling on it.  For one thing, I'm still feeling the aftershocks of  Friday night.  For another, the last two work Christmas functions I've been to have been A-grade screw ups for somewhat different reasons.  I don't really want to know how this one might unfold.

Added to which, I'm not feeling exactly Christmassy anyway.  I love the people I follow on twitter and all who are thrilled to have a month of holiday movies and music and the like ahead of them, but this year I'm not even close to feeling it.  It's not a "bah humbug" thing.  It's more... I don't know. Apathy?  I suppose that word gets close.

Not much else to record for the day.  Just feeling - I dunno - a little bit directionless.

More tomorrow.