A sparsely-attended morning tea, an awkward 15-minute handover meeting, and 8 years of my life is over.
I don’t think my relationship with the City can be better summed up by my leaving present: a book about the art and people of the Dampier Peninsula so I can “enjoy reading about the culture of the area you’re heading to.”
For the record, the Dampier Peninsula is 850 kilometres North of the area I’m heading to.
So long, City of Rockingham. It certainly was a thing that I did.
The car went first. Then the furniture. Finally, on Wednesday, I drove Luscious and the kids to the airport and they went too. I’ve a couple of days of work and house tidying left, and then I’ll follow them. Rockingham is over, and our future– at least for the next 2 years– lies in Karratha.
I’ve lived in Rockingham, on and off, since the age of eight. That’s a gnat’s breath short of forty years. It’s my home. No matter where I travel– including this move, for however many years it lasts– no matter where I move to, my new location is viewed in terms of where it lies in relation to Rockingham. I’m not moving 1600 kilometres to Karratha, I’m moving 1600 kilometres away from Rockingham.
Back to work today, for the final time. All that remains is to count down the things I won’t be doing again: the New Year’s Eve event I won’t be doing again has finished; the Australia Day event I won’t be doing again is ahead; the Symphony Orchestra concert I won’t be doing again happens after I leave.
These are happy days.
It’s July 2016. Every morning I park my car in the car park at work, and give myself five minutes to cry before I get out and face the day.
Today is no different. What was a dream job when I started has become a nightmare I can’t bring myself to face, but can see no way of escaping. 2 years under a manager who was psychotically work-obsessed to the point where the three co-ordinators who worked under her (I am one) would take turns in being the first to talk to her, so we could report back which personality we were dealing with that day, have taken a toll. She left some months ago, but has been replaced with someone even worse– a career monkey, utterly disinterested in the welfare of her staff and of the projects being worked upon in the name of her section. She ignores vital paperwork, distributes blame in buckets, throws her co-ordinators under buses on a daily basis, is untrustworthy, cowardly, and is ruining everyone around her. Already, of the two co-ordinators with whom I’ve worked for the last 4 years, one has left to take up a job with another City. The other will soon fall pregnant and take a year’s maternity leave. Me? I’ve cracked under the stress. I’m seeing a work-appointed therapist, and I’m on a work-management program. I can’t sleep. I’m eating every piece of badforme in sight. I’m drinking. I’ve used up all my sick leave. Writing is out of the question. There’s no hope.
Today is a therapy day. My therapist asks me a simple question: What would you be doing, if you had the choice?
Been a while.
I don’t normally talk about my day job on this blog. I like to keep my writing world and my employment world separate, for the very good reason that I don’t want the one to affect the other— working in the arts field leaves me too open to accusations of using my employment position to advance my writing career, and it’s a lot easier to simply keep the two things disassociated and avoid the possibility altogether. However, this is one of those rare occasions where I’m going to break that self-imposed taboo, because my day job is the reason I’ve not been around here lately, and I think that deserves an explanation.
I work as the Arts Officer for a local government. Every year we produce a beachside sculpture exhibition called the Castaways Sculpture Awards—50 or so sculptures along our officially-the-second-best-beach-in-the-country foreshore, each one made from recycled materials. It is, without patting myself on the back too hard, pretty bloody specky. You can check it out here, here, and here if you don’t believe me.
See? Good, innit?
The event has been steadily growing over the past 5 years: apart from the central exhibition we run a week of schools workshops, a separate two-day schools exhibition, a flash opening night and a free public forum featuring a series of guest speakers. We co-ordinate a team of community volunteers to staff our information tent, and many of the artworks are for sale, and we co-ordinate those sales as well. This year, the event expanded to incorporate a poetry competition that received over 150 entries and a photography competition which, at the time of writing, had attracted 140 entries with a few days to go until closing. All this, organised by two people—myself, and the Co-ordinator, my immediate superior.
Six weeks before this year’s event, she resigned and left.
Since then I’ve been co-ordinating this event as well as taking on the duties of both the Co-ordinator and Officer positions, essentially working two jobs as well as applying for the vacant Co-ordinator job and going through the application & interview process for that, culminating in working a 19-day week during the exhibition and aftermath. The event went off like a bomb. I got the job. It’s all ended pretty darn well. But in the meantime, it damn well ate my fucking life. Things are back to normal now: the beach is back to its pristine self, I’ve had a normal-person weekend, and I’ve got a week off coming up where I’ve been able to tie my fingers to the keyboard and undertake mass wordage.
But in the interests of catching the hell up, and there are a few things that’ll sound a bit out of date along the way, let’s settle in for a bit of updatery, shall we?
As part of the literary focus of my job here with the City of Rockingham, I’m in the process of creating a register of local writers, in order to build a database of writers in the Rockingham region. The City already keeps a roster of Artists, enabling us to communicate news of competitions, opportunities, events and the like. Now I want to do the same for writers.
If it’s of interest to you, and you’re in the area (or, at least, close enough to the area: remember, I once joined the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild by persuading them that Perth was a Western suburb of Canberra……) you might want to contact me.
It is to be noted: a) all details are private and won’t be released to anyone outside City of Rockingham employees; it’s purely an internal database, and b) the intent is not to create a nuisance list or telemarketing list, rather, it’s a list of people to whom I can send such writing related info as comes my way, should I think it appropriate, so my intention is not to bombard you with a million emails a day. However, if there is a City of Rockingham event that might fit your expertise profile, you may get contacted by someone not-me asking if you’re interested. That I cannot control……
If that’s fine, get in touch. Put “Writer’s Register” in the subject line of your email, and include the following in the text: Name; Address; Phone Number; Mobile; Email address; Website; “Interests”. And I’ll add you to the list.
THE COOLEST ADVICE EVER
Morning tea today was a going away party for a fellow in our team who has decided to call it quits now that he’s turned 70.
Yeah. Seventy. And you should hear the plans he has for what he’s going to do next.
So when he was asked what the secret was to his energiser-bunny level of enthusiasm and passion, he gave this reply, which is too damn cool not to share:
Always have something you can’t give up on.
I should be half this cool at his age.
Overheard at work today
“It’s Detective Goran, not Inspector. He’ll never get promoted with his attitude.”
Where do you start……?
IN WHICH CALLISTO SHAMPOO AND CHESHIRE NOIR DISCOVER THAT WHAT THEY’VE DONE OVER THE LAST NINE MONTHS WAS THE EASY PART
A huge hello and welcome to Vincent John Parker, who joined us all at 9.50 last night, much to everyone’s delight.
Lovely to have you on board, little guy.
ANOTHER SALE, AND A SURPRISE ONE TO BOOT
Received an email from the froody editors at ASIM last night. They want to buy Instinct, a story I wrote in cahoots with Nigel Read, for their special collaborations issue, number 22, due out this December. Which is cool, especially as I’d forgotten about it and had no idea where it had been sent out 🙂
Could be an interesting issue: Luscious and I have just completed our own collaboration entitled C, which we’ll be submitting to the same market by the end of the week. If it gets picked up, I could have my first double-banger!
WELCOME TO MIDWICH
I’ve been banished to the Fremantle office for 2 weeks, before entering my permanent work posting at Booragoon. How much do I love being there?
One of the women asked me what else I did (Her exact words were “So why don’t you want to work full-time?”). When I told her I was a writer, she replied “Yeah, but that’s like the kids at school doing their art.”
Later in the day, one of the other women (there are three, plus myself in the office) complained about the “raucous rubbish” the radio station was playing, and bemoaned the fact that we’re not allowed to switch channels so she could listen to something decent. Which radio station? MIX 94.5FM, known to all and sundry as Bland FM. All INXS, all of the day…..
I’m in hell.
WHY I HATE FANTASY, or READ THE MASTERS BEFORE YOU TELL ME HOW GOOD JULIAN BLOODY MAY IS
Picked up a copy of The First Book of Lankhmar the other day, which collects the first 4 of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & The Grey Mouser books in one volume.
Ill Met In Lankhmar, which I haven’t read for a few years, is still the best fantasy short ever written. Yes it creaks a bit at the hinges, and the dialogue is overblown and unnatural, and filled with comic book portent. But for all that, it is still the best fantasy short ever written. Read it again, or if you’ve never read it before, get your nose out of that fucking Harry Potter box of toilet paper and read it for the first time.
Fantasy with consequences.
A pox on your Fiests, Mays, Brooks’, Jordans, and their evil brood.
THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
Saw the last episode of Dr Who on Sunday night, many thanks owing to the Sunday Night Crew, who came through for a Batfam in need.
I should have guessed the owner of the voice, shouldn’t I? That’s what comes of trying to be too clever and second guess the obvious. As to the Bad Wolf, hmmm. When is a deus ex machina not a deus ex machina? When you’ve set it up all season, and yet it still manages to feel like you’ve written yourself into a corner and had to jump free with a mighty bound? Because that’s what it felt like, in a lot of ways. Sigh: I can’t wait until you’ve all seen it, so I can discuss it properly without dropping spoilers.
A flawed ending to a series that has seen some amazing highs (Dalek and The Empty Child being the absolute pinnacles, for me) , and very few genuine lows (Only The Unquiet Dead and Father’s Day missing the mark). It’s going to feel like a long time before the second series. I’m hoping there’s a box set before Christmas: I want to hear the commentaries on these episodes.
I’VE SAID IT BEFORE, AND I’LL SAY IT AGAIN
Song of the moment: Dancing In The Moonlight Thin Lizzy
WHAT A BUTCH WAY TO INJURE YOURSELF……
2 months before Erin was born, I was involved in a car accident when the driver of another car decided stop signs were for other people, and blessed me with a lifetime of chirporactor bills.
A straight spine may be the shortest journey between hips and skull, but I’m made of more interesting stuff than that. Of particular fun is the spot just between my shoulder blades, where the spine takes a 20 degree turn to the left. The chiro keeps putting it back where it belongs, but every now and again…
I rolled over in bed the other morning. That was all. Just rolled over. Spine went pop. Audibly.
My chiro had better name his next boat after me, that’s all I’m saying. At least I can stand up straight again.
NORMAL BUSINESS HAS BEEN RESUMED
Thanks to Luscious, the depression has passed. And hopefully, the block as well. I owed Mynxii a single-panel cartoon for the next Swancon progress report, and drawing it the other day seems to have released something: I’ve come up with the plot for my Eidolon story, plotted out my Fading Twilight story, and best of all, worked out what happens to finish the novel and written 800 words of same.
Lyn’s out with the kids all afternoon, so I’ll get some more done today as well. Thank goodness that’s over, until the next time.
I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT THIS
I’m part of the workforce again, as of Monday. Unavoidable, and it’s exactly the kind of part-time job I wanted, but I find myself in deep ambivalence about the whole thing. Thing is, anything that isn’t writing or being at home with my wife and children is an interruption, nothing more or less.
Ah well, can’t have everything. I don’t want to work, but lifestyle demands. Better get off my arse and sell this novel…
A DOCTOR WHO JOKE WITH SPOILERS
Thanks to the kindness of friends (and I can’t help but think it was their way of contributing to snapping me out of my depression. If so, it worked) I have a shiny DVD filled with the 1st seven episodes of the new Doctor Who series. We sat down with the kids and watched them on the weekend. We had to: the boys wouldn’t go back to their father’s house until we did 🙂
They’re all pretty damn good, but episode 6, Dalek, is perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who ever made. They’ve done with a single Dalek what nobody in 26 years was able to achieve with whole armies of the buggers: turn it into a genuinely terrifying machine of war. Based loosely on an audio play (I think) called Jubilee, the plot can be narrowed down to Single Dalek stalks entire compound of heavily armed and scared shitless humans. The story is by turns frightening, tense, and filled with such pathos and tenderness that you find yourself with tears in your eyes at the possible fate of a giant pepperpot with a latex muppet inside.
It gives nothing away to tell you that at one stage, in order to gain knowledge of his enemies, the Dalek accesses and downloads the entire internet in less than a minute.
Cassie’s comment? “My God. How much porn must he be watching?”
Dalek Porn. Don’t think visually…
I AM SERIOUS, AND DON’T CALL ME SHIRLEY.
How frustrating! Martin brought the comedy classic Flying High to the Sunday Movie Night (It is a comedy classic! It bloody is!), but the disc went spla part way through and so we didn’t get to see the whole thing. Mind you, as someone pointed out, Martin and I could probably have recreated the rest of the movie in 3D, so constantly were we quoting along with the action 🙂
I was having weird time traveller comedy moments all the way through: laughing at jokes that were 15 minutes away from being on the screen, as my memory ran ahead of what was being shown…
The biggest pain is that I now have to rent it out, and Flying High 2, so I can watch it properly.
THERE IS NO SAVING HER
What’s sadder than watching Big Brother? Watching it on the TV and at the same time having the webpage up on your laptop and scrolling through pages reading about it.
THE BLUE REVOLUTION CONTINUES
A lucky 2-all draw on the weekend, but we’ve got another point in the bag and remain undefeated. The mighty Bassendean Juniors juggernaut rolls on.
Aiden got some quality minutes under his belt, played as a striker in the first half and in central midfield in the second. He even got in a good, crunching tackle and made a header!
You know, the Premier League season has just ended, and clubs will be looking for holding midfielders…
The boys and I placed the second tyre on the potatoes on the weekend, leaving a few shoots above the rim as the vaguely-remembered Better Homes & Gardens magazine had advised (I think). I went out to the backyard this morning, and those shoots are already high enough that I could put the third tyre on.
I think I’m raising triffids…
PISS OFF, DOROTHY
A tornado! A frigging tornado! A frigging tornado ran straight through Maddington, turned left, came down our street, destroyed the roof, fence, trees, and backyard of the guy across the street and left us completely alone!
Okay, some tubby girl and her dog knocked on the door and asked us if we’d seen a witch anywhere, but I just gave her 5 bucks and told her to see a counsellor. But a tornado! A frigging tornado!
Had a job interview yesterday, and as we were blacked-out because of the tornado, (A tornado! A frigging tornado!) I wasn’t able to shave, running razors across my face in the dark being one of my least favourite activities. There was only one thing for it: off to the barber’s.
I’ve been married twice, and each time wanted to have a proper shave at a barber’s on the morning, only to find it was unfeasible for various reasons. I tell ya, I was missing out. That shave was smooth, and I got a bit of an understanding as to why women and local gangsters in crappy mafia movies spend so much time and money on getting their hair and faces done. It ain’t cheap (44 bucks for the shave and a haircut) but the sense of confidence it gives you is worth a packet. This self-pampering business is seductive.
Well, here’s some news: the much-loathed job now, well, isn’t.
I handed in my resignation today.
Two weeks from now I shall be free of the stinking shitpile that is the Australian Public Service, to spend the rest of the year pursuing my writing and other financial options (of which I have a couple, although I’m afraid I shan’t be sharing those with you just yet…)
Is it a big gamble? Yep. Is it as scary as hell? Ho Yus! But the simple truth is that after 10 years I just couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve paid my pound of flesh many times over in both my professional and private lives. If I didn’t take the opportunity to free myself of the depression and stress associated with the hated-8-hours then I was going to crack up and/or never get out.
The impetus to get the Napoleon Novel underway and make a successful product out of it keeps growing.