sabato, settembre 08, 2012

Cpl. Punishment

All in other people's business at the moment. Usually these days I sleep like a heavy, heavy brick but last night spent a good couple of hours lying there worrying, and almost all of that mostly about other people (Ren had had a fucking acrobatic day, which always reassures me - the kid's a good mover most of the time but when the wiggles are non-stop it's the only thing that makes me think everything's gonna be fine). One family in particular, who we'd had cake with that afternoon, with two young kids. There'd just been a conflagration that finished with the dad smacking the boy, and we arrived when all was calm again.

I don't really have two minds about smacking kids. I don't know if I'm going to do it, but if I do it, there's no way I'll be able to see it as anything but a failure on my part. I was smacked a lot as a child - well, not a lot, but as a fairly normal part of my existence as a fathered person - my brothers even more, and while we turned out magnificently I don't think it did us any good at all, and I still feel angry and resentful when I remember it. And as an adult, remembering it and remembering what brought it on, it was never something that I can see excusing it as proportionate - never when I was hurting somebody else and needed to be stopped all of sudden, never when something shockingly dangerous had nearly just happened and I needed to be taught never, ever to let something dangerous like that nearly happen again, or never for whatever big horrible things it is children do, some of which I certainly did. It was when my father was pissed off. And while I respect my father a lot, I don't respect that at all. It was a form of incontinence. And with this family, it's the same. It's when the father is pissed off.

Nonetheless, while not having two minds, I'm finding all this a little confusing at the moment. He's a good man, a good friend, his marriage is always semi-on the rocks, and this is exactly the sort of thing that'll get him stripped of custody if his wife chose, because even he admits that when he smacks, it's because he's flown off the handle, not because he calmly and coolly reckons it's a good idea. And at the same time, I don't know what would make things better. I don't have children; I've never had to emotionally go to the edge the way a pissed-off parent does. I think he's making a big mistake making smacking his kids part of his parenting strategy, in terms of his future relationship with his kids and wife, but it's not as though I have a range of tried-and-tested techniques to offer as alternatives.

You know, I think i don't mind being in other people's business at the moment because it distracts me from dwelling too much on my own semi-imaginary problems. I'm starting to understand gossip a little better.

lunedì, settembre 03, 2012

Middle class orgasms

There are watersheds in everybody's life and one of mine came this morning when I managed to get the price of the huge new air-con and its installation under $2000 and felt pretty ecstatic about it. This sort of combined with another absurdly low tax bill for the last financial year, which I got yesterday, and pushed me into some sort of state of rapture. In the past, I could only get that sort of joy from drugs or sex with someone I'd wanted to have sex with for awhile. I think in a key way our standards for happiness get lower as we age. Or less exciting. I don't know. Maybe it's just that all the woppy bartering and tax dodging instincts previously fairly latent in me have now come to the fore, as monogamy and sobriety cut me off from other vaguely naughty thrills.

I shocked my accountant yesterday - when he showed me what I'd have to pay I burst into joyful laughter and possibly let out a whoop; the expression on his face when he handed the figure over had looked like he was bracing himself for a fist to the face. It is incredible how low income tax is here, for the self-employed, anyways. I'm coming to understand you get screwed in other ways - standard ways like high property taxes and capital gains taxes, and also in ways far more offensive to my pinko sensbilities, like sales taxes, expensive "optional" medical services like dental and eye-whatever that aren't optional at all, and really high rego, etc. costs for running cars on absolutely execrable roads (which is a fundamental economic necessity anywhere rural in Australia, and in any Australian city that's not Melbourne). Nonetheless it absolutely gives me a financial boner every time I realize how little income tax I'm paying.

Anyhoo. Apparently it will be a stinking hot summer here. I've heard people forecasting that the last two summers and they've both been pretty bearable, although when we've had guests from northern climes they've acted like they were in some sort of humid version of hell. Probably a lot of that has to do with times of year and the 60 degree spread you get coming here from the north in the winter. That's why I'm blowing a retarded amount of money on the new heating/cooling unit - my mother is coming out after Ren's born and I'm sure I'll be preoccupied enough staring at the baby to not want to be thinking about whether or not she's melting.

The selfishness comes in the fact that I find the winters here fucking unbearably cold. We have this twee little fireplace, recessed in the wall, fucking good for nothing besides heating the chimney, I expect. Why in heaven's name people think they're a nice design feature . . . don't get me wrong, a pop-out fireplace is lovely, a Quebec heater is lovely, even a non-recessed fireplace does fucking something to the air temperature around it, but when I look at our fucking recessed fireplace, instead of seeing a nice domestic blaze, all I see is an emblem of fucking Oceanic design stupidity.

domenica, settembre 02, 2012


We took off to Brisbane this weekend past. I needed a little, I don't know. Gallery time, I suppose. Something for me before the baby comes. Galleries and restaurants and hotel sex, like the last 13 years, which are about to come to a crashing, shrieking, uterus-clenching, insomniac, impoverished end. Of course we'll try to break the baby into galleries and restaurants and we'll see how that all goes. My hopes aren't high.

But this weekend was rather lovely, even though I felt like a whale and huffed and puffed my way up stairs and had to have naps and things. We went to GOMA, which is my favourite modern art gallery, as far as modern art galleries go, because it tends to have a lot of Asian modern art in it, which tends toward - at least what makes it to Australia tends toward - the representational and communicative and therefore not the wankery. Here's an excerpt from what was the highlight for me. And of course it's not just the communicativeness, it's communication from a poorly-known other. I spent a good 31 years being a pure Europhile with vague ideas of everything east of the Urals being the place Marco Polo discovered spaghetti.

Asia is making Australia bearable for me in other ways. I've started my contemporary Chinese politics course - the one whose exam I'm deferring until sometime next year as it'll overlap with Ren getting born - and it's fascinating. There's no doubt the terrorism course I did earlier this year was a poor offering, but it was even poorer for me because of its overlap with my graduate studies. But these - as far as Mistress La Spliffe is concerned, these are uncharted and fascinating waters. It's more my job than Australia which has got me into all of it, of course, but Australia and my job aren't really separable at the moment, and it is rather fantastic to have cheap school in English again.