Friday, 29 November 2019

A foray into dating

Last Tuesday was a curious sort of day.  It started out with an agitated phone call from FBIL at 0730. He was at Mum and Dad’s, and was terribly alarmed at how short the water supply is getting and whether it’ll be necessary to have him, Barry and me up there on a roster to help Dad cart water. This isn’t such a bad idea, although it’s hard to know if the situation was actually more dire now than it was when I had been up there 8 days earlier.  FBIL does tend to catastrophise.

Farm worries aside, I was feeling good as the day got underway.  To my own moderate surprise I had a flash of courage and asked someone if they’d like to Go Out on Friday evening.  To my much greater surprise the person in question agreed.  Yes, I know this made a lie out of my many “single by choice” posts, and yet I kind of want to explore that side of life.  The date in question fell through a few hours later due to sudden other plans by the lady in question.  Maybe she was on the level; maybe it was a polite way out.  I suspect the latter, but in any case one can't sulk: there's nothing worthy in pursuing a lady who does not wish to be pursued.

It got me thinking, however, that it might be good to try.  After all: if it worked for the old guy in the Coke ad, why not?  I'll believe anything that's endorsed by a major corporation.

Anyway, I paid some money to the operator of a certain app, and also reinvigorated my profile on another faith-based app.  The results were ... well ... disappointing.  From the first -

Now, possibly my standards are too inflexible (there was a lot of swiping left).  Or possibly I'm not made for this world in its more secular orientation.  That's plausible, right?  This lead me to the second option, which was church-based.  This had a desirable quality of being up-front about the lay of the land:

All of which leaves me here with about 20 days to run on a fairly useless subscription of which I've now stopped the renewal.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this exercise, save perhaps to be grateful the universe cut to the chase.  The world is still full of other and better experiences than dates; I'd better go out and explore a few more of them!

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Does anyone know if it's all still here?

It's been a funny sort of weekend here.

Saturday was a good night's sleep with me on my feet about 0745.  As usual for Saturday, I began with laundry and groceries and coffee before I found my way back to the Casa.  I had a quick Facetime with the girls: they were on their way to Houma for bowling and a sleepover for their best friends (another set of twins).  Rachel claimed that she would score twenty strikes, and naturally this lead to a wager of a box of Wagon-Wheel biscuits against a brick of Community Coffee on whether she could do it.  Rachel may be over-optimistic but she's willing to back herself!

In the afternoon I set out on another long run.  I was surprised to find that I'd kept to a sub 6 min/km the whole time: this is basically race-pace for me.  Running is a somewhat different experience for me now.  Part fitness, part penance, part meditation, part masochism (the flesh is sinful and it is virtuous to punish it) and part me-time.  I feel like maybe I need something harder - or to make my runs longer - or something.  I don't know if I care if I smash my knees and hips up (my hips are feeling the pinch at present): I'm more concerned not to leave experience unexplored.

Running was followed by blogging (post to appear on my workblog), Mass and a drink at the Great Northern.

Sunday brought a local festival at which SES were having a community education table.  I'd organised our involvement at this one and was fairly anxious that it not go astray.  Happily, we have a good team and the day went smoothly.  It was a little alarming, though, to find how may people assumed that we are an arm of the fire services.

Community Ed at festivals means a lot of time talking to children and explaining to their parents why storm preparedness matters.  I was utterly tired by the end and made a beeline for the Charles Weston Hotel for a few revitalising drinks.

The weekend feels, in a way, oddly empty.  There's been something particularly that I've been trying not to think about, but it's a trifling matter that shouldn't have been bugging me.  I have the odd feeling that something in my life is out of place.

Well, no matter.  A decent night's sleep and I should be fine again.  Roll on Summer.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

What you feel afterwards.

I imagine most of my readers (I mean, there's maybe two of you) are aware of the fires currently cutting a swathe through New South Wales.  It might be expected that such an event would lead to a certain amount of stupid politics.  Today the politics became, however, brainlessly malevolent.  An 'activist' named Sherele Moody, appearing at a Greens-sponsored event, had this to say -
"After a cataclysmic event like this, domestic violence peaks. … Women become extremely unsafe, when generally the men return home from the fires and subject them to domestic violence."

Now, I've never served in the fire services.  Perhaps our friends in the gold uniforms are made from different stuff to State Emergency Service or Red Cross volunteers, but I suspect not.  So I think I can speak with some authority as to what happens when an emergency responder returns home after a difficult job.
I've responded to God-knows-how-many severe storm events where I've spent a night patching roofs and cutting up trees.  Afterwards, I haven't had a yen for violence.  I've had a yen to wash my skin clean of sweat and oil and rain and mud and to get the smell of two-stroke off my hands.
With Red Cross, I responded in the wake of the Melbourne stabbing attack in 2018.  After a day of talking to deeply upset people in Bourke Street I was starting to lose it myself.  I messaged my ex-wife to ask her if she could give our daughters an extra kiss for me before she put them to bed, because they seemed like the last half-decent things left in an otherwise utterly fucked-up world.
As an SES Peer, I've spoken to crews that were deeply distressed after turning out to provide scene protection for the body of a man who tried to cross the road ahead of a B-Double and failed.  These good people had smelled bits of him slowly frying on the hot asphalt of an Australian summer's day.  When that job was done all I wanted was to go for a walk beside the sea and clear my own head of the images it was carrying.

I've responded to riverine flooding where I've spent a night laying sandbags on a levee that was in danger of failing.  When I went home all I wanted was to rest an aching back and shoulders.

I've gone home after a rescue that went wrong, where the extrication took twice as long as it should have or where our command-structure fell over, and spent days asking myself what I should have done differently.

I've sat in a staging area on a major land search after the news came through that the body of the subject had been found.  Every member present from every agency was sitting there with aching feet and a grubby uniform thinking "well, fuck".

I've finished my shift in a relief centre after an evacuation of the residents of four city blocks following an incident and thought "yes: this really is worth doing".

I've come back to LHQ after a road crash callout where everything went to plan, when every member of the team from veterans to someone just out of fundamentals had done what they were trained to do and extricated the casualty and placed them in the care of paramedics without a single misstep.  I've driven home feeling eight feet tall and bullet-proof.

I've looked at a pager as it blurted out a storm warning and thought "no.  Just no.  I'm not up to it tonight" and begged God to send the storm cell into someone else's patch (this usually seemed to be that of Cobram SES.  Sorry Cobram)

Despite some of the more breathless media reportage, not many emergency services people are heroes.  We're not made of steel or iron or even copper.  For the most part, we're very ordinary people who sometimes find ourselves in extraordinary situations.  All of us from time to time discover more intense emotions than we knew we could experience.  Wife-beaters?  Maybe.  Any organization is liable to contain a few pieces of human garbage.  Firies coming out of the event in New South Wales will have experienced things well outside the range of ordinary emotions.  Few of these emotions will have been pleasant.  Next time Ms Moody wants to translate that into "by the way, these guys are probably going to go home and clobber their girlfriends", maybe she should do it in the privacy of her own skull.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

... and leaving her children behind.

I'm sitting at my desk at lunch-hour watching a late spring rain fall outside my office.  I'm wondering what the Hell has gone wrong in the world.

I have (or had) two good friends in Shepparton.  I came to know them through SES (where else).  They seemed to be a good, decent couple, getting by and raising three children aged from about 7 to 14.  About six months ago, the wife and mother left the family, to be with her boyfriend interstate.  It hit my mate out of the blue.  I remember being appalled by it.  A double standard, I suppose: in my mind a man who deserts his family is worthy of contempt, and if he wilfuly refuses to support his ex-wife and children, he should be shunned.  But a woman who leaves her own children to be with another?  That strikes me as almost monstrous.

This is one my mind because of a story that popped up in a recent Times (London), describing just such a situation

I like to think I can make sense of most types of human behaviour, even truly evil types.  But I can't begin to understand a person voluntarily leaving their home and spouse and children for - what? - a lover.

On balance, the most appalling acts in the world may not be committed by a Ratko Mladic, or even by a Codey Hermann.  All it takes is a person with no apparent sense of shame.