Although later on I added some offline entries back to late 1999, my “blog” – then called a diary – actually began with this entry:
"M offered to pay for private hospital! My life changed absolutely when he came into it. I hope the delay hearing about his citizenship application does not indicate a problem. It shouldn’t. But there will undoubtedly be more about M as this journal grows." QUOTE FROM MY JOURNAL Christmas Eve 1996.
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M finally got his Australian citizenship in 1997. The process had begun in 1991. I had my hernia operation around Anzac Day 1997 at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (an excellent public hospital) after a six month wait as it was elective surgery; hence M’s offer 4-5 months earlier. I had meantime found another use for bicycle shorts, though I don’t recommend them as underwear in a Sydney summer. I saw Mardi Gras 1997 on TV in emergency at Prince Alfred where I was waiting to have the hernia pushed back into place, having for once failed to do so myself, only to be told by a cheerful nurse after the deed was done that it was just as well she’d succeeded as they couldn’t have admitted me anyway because they had no beds.
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I don’t usually perform lucubrations on my Brother at this hour. There, that will have them running for their dictionaries; and I’m only using my Brother because it saves powering up the PC; I just have to keep my eye out for the sticky "w"– the w key on the Brother is a bit erratic.
And I’m only performing lucubrations because I’ve just finished Hell Week (as the Quitnetters call it), having made a determination that this cigarette quit will hold. I did run from July 1998 to just on New Year 1999 almost ciggieless, and for a couple of extended periods in 1999 and 2000. I suppose I have in total smoked over the last year half of what I would have. However, I now know I cannot be a moderate smoker, so it has to stop. My advice to anyone out there: if you don’t, don’t start! It’s an evil drug really. I, poor fool, started in my 30s, as an alternative, I think, to strangling children: teachers may know what I mean.
Anyway, Hell Week is when your sleep patterns are disturbed and you are likely to have vivid dreams. I woke at 5.00 am after a rather well-produced and well-scripted dream involving my late grandfather, Betsy B. and her children (an in-joke: sorry), a gas bath heater (which exploded), and a house called Ninglun’s Home. It’s only when I give up smoking that I learn what a weird imagination I have!
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So yes, I am thinking of M. Right now he would be thinking of whether the Karakoram Highway will open when it should in two days time so he can proceed back to Shanghai via Xinjiang.
A word about our relationship, because quite frankly it will be interesting (to say the least) when he comes back after 12 months travel. Don’t get the impression he is my exclusive "property": he isn’t, nor should he be. After all, he didn’t leave Mainland China for some other form of servitude! It did take me a while to get my head around this.
In the first year (1990-1991) we were pretty passionate (well, for me anyway!). Meantime the odd person thought (or on some occasions said) I was being used. "He’s just after your money" was not right, as I didn’t have any. Indeed on one embarrassing occasion in 1990 I had to borrow from him to help pay for a meal we had–as he never ceases to remember, casting it back up at me among other of my faults when the occasion arises. "He’ll get his permanent residence and you’ll never see him again" said a woman who had actually lived in China and seemed to have learned only to dislike the Chinese. Well, that didn’t turn out to be true. He got his permanent residence in 1995; he paid for my postgrad course in 1998.
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The rules we are conditioned to (which are essentially heterosexual) don’t entirely apply to gay relationships. This can be liberating, but can also lead to deep existential anxieties. "If it feels good, do it" is on the other hand far too shallow. Too many gay men (especially young ones?) fall victim to mindless hedonism, and it can be (not always, though) dehumanising. As I write this I am painfully aware of how hard it is to generalise, and how presumptuous it is even to try! Yet I hate predatory relationships with a passion. Life is too short, and other lives are too precious, for that. I hasten to add that there are plenty of heterosexual predatory relationships, many of them called "marriages".
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I’m thinking on these lines too because I recently had occasion to have a heart-to-heart with someone just setting out. We all have to learn for ourselves, of course, and we all make mistakes and have painful experiences. In some ways I don’t envy the young. But on the other hand there is just as much chance that experience will prove joyous and fulfilling, and the young by definition have a longer time-span to look forward to. (DO stay safe! Too many young have died young. Don’t believe that crap about living hard, dying young, and leaving a beautiful corpse. ‘The grave’s a fine and private place/ But none I think do there embrace.’ A somewhat ironic allusion to Marvell, really!)
How to avoid a predator? Never do anything you’re not comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to be assertive about what you are comfortable with. If the other person does not respond sympathetically they’re probably not worth knowing (even if they are rich!). Walk away. No-one should force you or cajole you to do anything. A good relationship, friendship, or whatever, is not conditional.
On the other hand, one of the joys I have found since coming out is being able to relate across ages and cultures much more freely than would otherwise have been the case. I have learned so much from people from all sorts of backgrounds, and I hope have sometimes given something in return. And, not to appear too solemn, had some good times!
So if you are young, be open, learn what you can, but don’t allow yourself to lose yourself–if you know what I mean.
WOW: What a lucubration– and now the sun is well up and it’s time to put on my new patch.
Yes, that was the record for non-smoking until the past year!
The nearest I can get is my Sydney Boys High Communities Column for Fortnight ending March 6, 2004: Term One, Weeks 5 and 6.
February 22: The first day of the first month of the Islamic year 4124 CE. February 25: Ash Wednesday. This day marks the beginning of Lent. Ash symbolizes sorrow for wrong doings and foreheads of churchgoers are marked with the shape of the cross with ashes as a sign of penitence. March 6: Holi — This festival of colour celebrates Spring, where people play with liquid and powdered colours, light bonfires and blow horns. (Hindu and Sikh) March 7: Purim — Purim is known as the Feast of Lots, which celebrates the deliverance of Jews in Persia from the machinations of Haman. Jews dress in costume and give gifts of food to each other. Learn more with this PDF file Multicultural Calendar from the Australian Department of Immigration.
Before long I should have some facts and figures about Sydney Boys High 2004. With a handful of exceptions, Year Seven have been surveyed and tested. I have spoken, I think, to all the relevant new students in Year Eleven, and just have a few more in other years to find out about. It would appear Year Seven is about the same in terms of languages backgrounds other than English as Year Seven 2003: about 80%. Two classes are 100% LBOTE, or near enough to. (I am allowing for a small number of absent students in hedging that.) The mix, however, is a little different. Please remember that "language background other than English" extends to anyone in the family (including grandparents) who speak in a language other than English. On the other hand, we do have a sizeable group who have been in Australia for less than three years: I think "a few weeks" is the upper limit! Some of those have come from countries where they spoke English, such as New Zealand or various African countries, even though their parents may have been born in a non-English-speaking country.
Perhaps some of these students have a bit more insight into the HSC Area Study "Journeys" than the rest of us. Mind you, I guess we all are on some kind of journey or another, and as an English teacher I have been making Imaginative Journeys all my life!
On the actual 29 February I posted Here is some truth about Obama’s religious position and More on the Blogger Meetup. That referred to this – and it is incredible that this is four years ago!
After coaching tonight I caught the slow bus from Chinatown to arrive on a cold and wet Sydney night at Newtown’s rather wonderful Courthouse Hotel for the blogger meetup. That’s not our group in the picture on the right. I was late, so I missed Marcellous.
Even before I had settled into the group for an hour I met of all people someone I had taught English with at Dapto back in 1970, one of the Spender sisters, Dale and Lynn, the former a rather well-known feminist writer, the other no slouch either. It was Lynn I saw, though initially I thought it was Dale. We both contemplated the years that had flown since then with some amazement, though I have to say I am a minnow compared with what those two have done with that time. (See also When I was a twenty-something conservative in transition…)
Someone whose travels eclipse M’s trips in duration, if not quite in exotic destinations but he comes very close, is this person:
I’m an Aussie who has just spent 2 1/2yrs roaming around Europe with my dog, a very large Alaskan Malamute by the name of Bondi. Our adventure began in May 2005. So far we’ve travelled around much of UK, including a week-long walk across Scotland; spent 2 months each in Spain & Paris, plus a 5 week circuit of Ireland; done a load of family-tree research; a coast-to-coast crossing of England on foot along Hadrian’s Wall path, and a side-trip to dive wrecks in the northern part of the Red Sea. Most recently we completed a 20,000km 20-country tour of Europe by car, and 3 months in Scotland.
I also discovered what the wonderful header on Dancing About Architecture is all about.
Check here to learn more about what this meet was and who was there. I imagine a relevant post might appear before long too. Topics as various as knitting, historical reenactments, and Number 96 — that site was especially referred to — were being talked about as I, noticing that it was getting dark out, decided I had to set off home, which I did via an excellent Chinese noodle shop in King Street.
Newtown at night is, I have to say, far more interesting and far more pleasant these days than Oxford Street.