Abnormalities

It’s common knowledge around these parts that my family is full of eccentric-type nutters, myself included.  Not that it’s a bad thing but it has its moments.  In a world where mental illness and mental stress are now the norm – some members of my family can give those categories a run for their money, be somewhat challenging or at the very least, downright entertaining.  I’ve managed to keep a lid on most of mine over the years but I suspect that if I had ever done drugs or alcohol I would be spending a bit of time in the local mental health unit by now.

My father is no exception.  I wouldn’t call him crazy but he is definitely out there.  I suspect he has undiagnosed adult ADHD from my stints working with psychiatrists and my discussions with them about him over the years.  He has managed to navigate through his life in blissful ignorance in times of stress with a somewhat childlike attitude to problems and an attention span of a mudskipper.  Mum undoubtedly has shouldered most of the day-to-day burdens, bills and disasters and would probably only now just be getting out of prison for murder if they hadn’t separated twenty years ago.

I get along pretty well with Dad although it can be hard work keeping up with a conversation with him as he flits from one subject to another, talks loudly at lightspeed, looks blankly at me when I ask him a question, says “eh?” and then answers it.

Shopping is fun with Dad albeit a little scary because I never know what he is going to do next.  I have lost him in department stores because he has wandered off or stopped to have a detailed conversation about almost anything he can think of with somebody he doesn’t know.  Going to the cinema is a real challenge as I can’t hear the dialogue over my father’s constant queries about what is going on.

I often take him with me when I go to buy something because he gets bored and has nothing better to do but I try to refrain from taking him into electronic stores because he is likely to come out with something that he didn’t want and knew nothing about but just had to have because it was shiny and had a lot of buttons he could press.  I took him with me once when I went furniture shopping and he managed to smash a three hundred dollar lamp because he was so excited looking around at all the fancy items he wanted to buy he didn’t see the two-feet-tall designer lamp sitting on a side table near his gesticulating right arm.  The manager insisted, however, that we didn’t have to pay for it after I purchased a very expensive guilt-driven dining suite and my father purchased a plush leather recliner that he said he was going to buy anyway.

They certainly broke the mold when they made my father – and for all his oddities and foibles growing up with him was never dull.  He often took me on his adventures and I always returned home not always unscathed but still alive.  He added to my childhood ideals and experiences.  To me being different, odd or eccentric is just another facet of being human.  Thanks to my father and my family I don’t really believe that there is an ideal to live up to.  Human beings are made to be faulty – it’s just the way it is.  We break, cope or strengthen in different ways depending on our map of the world.

I’m not even sure that there is such a thing as being ‘normal’ or whether it is just a media-generated phenomena that the disillusioned and brainwashed feel the need to aspire to. Thank God for weird dads.

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Tattoo me

I’m a tattoo lover.  I’ve had tattoos for quite a while and most of them have been placed in covert places to avoid the scrutiny of stuffy co-workers and management lest they have a conniption.

In the last few years, however, I have come out of the tattoo closet in a big way and decided that it is okay to display tasteful body art in places that can actually be seen all of the time by every freaking person on the planet.  I have decided that I really don’t need to please anybody but myself and can be an eccentric nonconformist if I want to be regardless of that woman in the corner store’s worry that I’m going to steal something from her shelves.

I now sport an expression of creativity and of love for my pets, past and present, intertwined with roses down my right arm.  Some people like them but others behave as if I am going to rob them at gun point.  This isn’t a real problem for me as it sorts out the cheese from the crackers as far as I’m concerned and I am left with those who actually like me for what I am regardless of a bit of extra colour on my skin.

My mother came around eventually.  She is stuck with me regardless and she knows it.  The same goes for my husband.

One day when I am old I might regret having had them done but I doubt it.  When my memory fades a little all I will have to do is look at my beautiful body art and be reminded of my life and the happiness those furry little souls gave me when they were around and I will almost certainly smile.

Beginning Again

It’s been a while since I posted but lately I have found that I have more time on my hands and more motivation to put my ‘creative writing’ skills to use once again.

I am having somewhat of a sabbatical from work at present – or rather a prolonged ‘holiday’ suggested by my husband after my work-from-home job as a medical transcriptionist became less than desirable and started to create moderate-to-high stress levels in our household.  Five years as a medical transcriptionist was enough for me, particularly as our company transferred to foreign ownership and I found that after a long-term projection I would wind up doing the same amount of work for less money – but with the same amount, if not more, stress from line count quotas, English second-language dictators and other transcriptionists with a propensity to cherry pick the best dictators given half a chance.  My recent difficulties in a Singapore hospital and the resulting anxiety and insomnia from my health issues sealed the deal and I sailed off into a semi-retirement sunset and slept soundly for the first few weeks afterwards.

Over the last two and a half years while I have been working I have also been dabbling in photography and what started out as a sideline interest has now blown out into a full-blown obsession with all things pertaining to Canon cameras, lenses, shutter speeds, apertures and ISO.  I am devouring camera magazines, doing online study courses and joining photography groups locally and online.  I am offering my services to all and sundry in an effort to gain more experience working with light and attempting to direct my models like a true professional.

Of course now that I am no longer chained to the computer for prolonged periods of time I am taking obsessive to even greater levels with softboxes, speedlights, strobes, a gathering of an assortment of toys, blankets and fluffy objects for future anticipated shoots of babies, puppies and anything in between.

My husband, as usual, keeps his distance most of the time from my hobby and rarely bats an eyelid over my purchases or my must-have items.  His motto in life of having a happy wife is to have a happy life might be short lived if he ever got wind of my pro Canon 5D Mark III I bought for a ‘good price’ last year, however.

In the meantime, I am slowly becoming what is known as the uncle Arthur in my husband’s family.  I get invited to all the best parties and functions and my popularity is soaring in my small social set.

I am slowly finding myself again.  My grandfather, the only other member of my family to ever pick up a camera and do something worthwhile, would be very pleased.

The Black Dog

I watched a program on television recently that dealt with the issue of suicide and mental illness and how prevalent it is amongst our younger generation.

Don’t get me wrong.  Suicide and mental illness are not limited to the younger generation but it is especially heartbreaking to lose a young and troubled soul without feeling sorrow for a life not well-lived and the unimaginable anguish of the parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and school friends left behind.

Suicide has touched us all to some degree, whether it be somebody we know, somebody close, a friend of a friend or even our own morbid thoughts at times when things have been at their darkest in our lives.  I have not escaped unscathed with my various health difficulties without wondering at times whether it is worth the effort of struggling with the pain and functional difficulties that I have been left with.  I keep on top of it.  I keep busy.  I work and study and develop interests to keep the black dog at bay but others may not have the support that I have had or indeed the will to keep on dog paddling when they would rather sink to the bottom of the abyss.

The reality of the abyss was brought home to me again last year when my son’s best friend decided that he simply did not want to keep on paddling for another minute more.  He left behind a beautiful family, many friends and a community of people who he had helped in his short life wondering what had happened.  He didn’t drink, smoke or take drugs.  He went to church and believed in God.  He was kind, generous and loved.  He was planning a trip overseas and had booked the tickets.  He did not appear to fit the profile of a depressed and mentally ill young person and he simply slipped through the cracks.  He had sought help a few months before his death and unfortunately was not followed up.

The abyss will always be there.  It does not discriminate.  It can affect anybody.  There is no clear answer but it is clear that we need to become more aware of our fellow man and be a little more compassionate.  ‘There but for the grace of God go I’.

I’m back…..

Well I’m back.  It’s been a while.  Nearly a year in fact.

I will now use the old cliche that ‘life got in the way’ but illness and time has a way of not playing fair… and so here I am.  I hope to be able to add reasonably regular content this time around.  I will also attempt some half decent stories every now and again.

I have my good friend Jo to thank for bringing me back from the writing dead.  She has started her own blog and I don’t want to be outdone.  So thank you Jo.  I hope to be critiquing your blazing good foray into legendary writing status in the near future.

For the record it has been a nearly interesting 12 months in parts.  I’m still soldiering on with my MT work and making a half-decent attempt at pegging doctors’ and their linguistic idiosyncrasies.  I fear I will never reach the great heights of MT elitism but I’m earning a regular income and that has got to account for something.  I’m not aspiring to great levels, simply because I would like to have a life and health restrictions limit me to part-time MT semi elitism only.

In the meantime I will be finding at least one or two days per week to jot down my thoughts and process the flickerings of literary creative goop bouncing around between my ears.

Stay tuned….

Friends

I went out to lunch with a few friends the other day. Doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary, but to me, it was important.

Having friends is important to me. Not because I want to be popular or I need to have a lot of friends to make myself feel good about me, but because any friendships that I am likely to have in my life generally mean something, and are not superfluous.

My husband is my best friend, of course. I believe that above anything else in a relationship of such longevity, friendship counts above all else. Our relationship is not perfect, that’s for sure, but it’s interesting.

My lunch friends are important to me in other ways. These are people that I once worked with for many years. We enjoy each other’s company and we have many things in common. Our get-togethers are a mutually beneficial arrangement for  catching up with the gossip, staying in touch, and enjoying a good social outing. It’s good for my soul. As I live on an island, I can get quite isolated at times, particularly as my husband works away. These ladies know this, and I thank their caring spirits for making the effort for me.

I don’t come by my friends easily, or quickly. I have always been a person who prefers not to be part of the ‘in crowd,’ and was never invited in anyway. I’ve always been a little different. Part of me wanted in, but the other part not really liking it once I got there. I have found that it’s not always good to be like everyone else, to ‘fit in.’  It can do your head in. Over the years I have made peace with the differences, because this is what makes me who I am. I am a little odd, a little eccentric and creative, with a few strange ideas. I don’t invite people into my space willy-nilly. It takes consideration, deliberation, and a little self-projection.

Having said all that, I am quite open to meeting people and sharing ideas and knowledge without encroaching on too much personal space. Just because I don’t fancy having 150 friends on Facebook doesn’t make me a social pariah.

I have less genuine friends, however, than you can count on two hands, but my friendships are valuable, and all enrich my life in some way.

With the advent of new technology, it has become possible to form closer bonds with my established friends, and create one or two new ones. In the last few months, I have been lucky enough to meet a like-minded person studying in the same course as I am, and we are now communicating across thousands of miles of time and space, using computer video links, emails, and forums. It has been a major undertaking for me, as creating a new friendship takes time, patience and balance, to get it right.

I’m in no hurry, and the dye has been cast before me. I am lucky enough right now to be able to enrich my life a little more, share experiences and travel alongside another willing co-conspirator up the street of serendipity for a time to see what happens.

I’m looking forward to a place where we can look back down the miles and say, ‘do you remember when we…?’

The love of dogs

You’ve got to love dogs. Or any pet for that matter. You have pets for a reason. Hopefully for a mutually beneficial arrangement that provides love, companionship, warmth and loyalty.

All my life I have been around animals, mostly dogs, but I’ve managed to find ‘strays’ in many furry variations over the years, including a mouse that I smuggled into my room when I was six. Not long after I had made a nest for him in my top draw, he disappeared, only to reappear in my mother’s top drawer. He was quickly dispatched to the kid down the road who was allowed to have mice.  I tried my luck again and again, and all sorts of creatures ‘followed’ me home, including a white kitten, a chicken, a turtle, a lizard and a rabbit. Most of them were given to good homes at a rapid rate by my mother, who was not an advocate of many things that had more legs and less toes than her.

Not long after my seventh birthday my grandmother came to live with us and brought along her furry friend, Angel, a black and tan terrier. Finally, something my mother couldn’t get rid of. My salvation had arrived! I was in dog heaven. I told all my friends I had a dog. I took Angel for walks, I fed her, shared my icecreams and lollies, washed her and talked to her. Angel lived until I was seventeen and she set the precedent for the rest of my life.

My first dog was a German Shepherd. I named her Nishka and took her everywhere with me. She was my copilot on the road, my wingman and my protector. She was loyal, loving, and gone too soon.

Many years later a wonderful little fellow came into my life, much smaller than Nishka, but my greatest love of all. Jackson was my main furball, my best buddy, and a true gentleman. He was with me through thick and thin, sickness and health, for almost thirteen years. When he left me a part of me went along with him on his journey.

Right now I am the proud mamma of two lively Bichons and a little old Maltese. They bring me a lot of joy, and keep me going through the good and the bad. They each have their own personalities, and they all have different views on how things should be done around this place. Ruby is the boss, although the other two think they have it over her. She swans around the house like a diva, and of course, expects all the trappings becoming to her status. Angus is the strutter. He struts around this place like he owns it. He is full of himself, but no match for the conniving diva. Dylan is the senior citizen of the troupe. He has been with me for nearly fourteen years, and is the son of my best buddy, Jackson. I treat him well and with the respect that he deserves. He’s seen it all and done a lot. How he tolerates Angus I will never know.

They are like children, my dogs. They are naughty, mischievous, loving and they are constant. They will always be what they are until they die. Dogs don’t pretend to like you, they don’t lie, take your money or stay out late. They are just there, and they are happy to love you for what you are, despite your perceived faults and failings.

I will always have a little piece of heaven as long as I have a dog.