Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Food Statement

After looking through and reading this photo essay on the fridges of people from different professions in the US, I wondered what my fridge says about me when I'm not listening.

Here is my pantry and two fridges. This is a 3 adult household with a software engineer, a primary school teacher and a university student.

What does your fridge say about you?

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Officially Old

As my 35th birthday approaches, I wonder what age is "officially old".

It keeps moving as I age but I wonder if I should be looking back and remembering when I was young. Instead, I feel at my peak each year. As if there is so much more ahead of me than behind me.

My mother just turned 63 years old. She is sharp, vibrant, beautiful and brilliant. Nothing is out of her reach. She is writing a book, teaches 5th and 6th grade, tweets and facebooks and wants to go to see Janet Jackson with me in November. She isn't old to me.

Maybe it's 80 or 90 years old but then there is my grandfather who was born in 1900. I met him when he was 96 years old. He died at just over 100. He had all his own teeth. He said it was because he always chewed sugarcane. It's fibrous and cleans even with it natural sweetness. He chewed beetle nut and walked over ten kilometers each day. He walked slow but he walked. He laughed at jokes and smiled at our youthful wit. He wasn't old to me.

Maybe it isn't about an actual age. Maybe it's about your attitude to life.

Recently I met an amazing man who inspired me to see life as wonderful. He taught me to not treat anything as a tragedy, no matter how Shakespearean it seemed. He was my muse, yet he condemned himself to the life he entered via an early contract promised to honour. It was sad to watch. He was my friend and taught me so much but partially through knowing that I never wanted to sacrifice my promise and happiness for an earlier agreement. I never want to be like him.

Life is following your passion. Finding it. Naming it. Living it. Holding it. Pushing it.

Promise me something. Promise me that YOU will be everything you can be. That you will follow the amazing that you are. Hold the hand that takes you home. Live your dream.

Putting Up Walls


Monday, 25 July 2011

The world has gone mad

Gosh, today was a day to not remember. I woke up barely able to breathe. It felt like someone was sticking pins in to my lungs. After seeing the doc, it appears that is all caused by badly inflamed lungs. I now get to use this cool thing called a spacer that delivers ventolin to my lungs to help ease the inflammation faster. The doctor reminded me of my friend Zaynab. She is a stunning and brilliant business analyst at Thoughtworks who is from Zimbabwe and of Indian descent. This doctor had a similar accent but he is a South African Indian. I miss Zaynab. She is far away in another land. Another nomad.

I'm watching friends in turmoil and feeling helpless. All I can do is love them. Be their scaffolding. That's what I always say friends are supposed to be. Friends are scaffolding. They hold you up until you can do it yourself. Will just keep doing that.

I'm listening to people who said they were friends but then show their true colours. In the past, that would shatter me and gain more than a passing paragraph in a post prefaced with a lolcat picture. Now, it just seems to be something I accept and put behind me. Those people don't much matter in the Damana Show.

I'm seeing a beautiful world around me. Being mindful of what is buzzing by. Absorbing the gorgeousness of existing. This and one other thing has made me want to show that more. I've decided to keep writing and describing my life and world. Even if no one reads it, I will again. Each day my view of the world will improve and I will look back and see how I saw it now... then... now.

Even on the days when it is hard to breathe and friends are in pain and people disappoint me, life doesn't seem too bad. There is beauty and kindness in my life. I am a lucky one.

What's for supper?

Me Me Me

"When it comes down to it, I let them think what they want. If they care enough to bother with what I do, then I'm already better than them" -- Marilyn Monroe

Half Hero - Half Man

Monday, 11 July 2011


Everyone seems to have a purpose. A reason why they do what they do. Each day. Every week. All year.

I don't have a purpose. A reason for doing it. No driver. I just do it because it's what I do. Go through the motions. Put in the effort. Head home exhausted.

Is this how it is meant to be?

Sunday, 10 July 2011

I'm Sorry

Kate Miller-Heidke says it best when she croons "please, please believe that I'm sorrrrrry".

My friend Angela Ferguson pointed out the other night that I was in a facebook friending frenzy. She does have a way with words. It's what makes her the kind of friend who you stop and listen to.

Ange was right, I was on a friending spree but it wasn't out of boredom or mania. This was purely due to the fact that I want to make contact with new and old friends.

I am back in a good place and people energise me. All those people who have touched my life are welcome back in, if they feel they want to return.

In the past, I shut down anything that harshed my mellow. These days, you'd need to use an accelerant and a match to really upset me. Not that you should try that.

So, friend me already.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Standing Before the Wizard

How gingerly I walk the tight rope that runs across the gauntlet of my chiseled ethos and the driving need to not harm others.

While Olga and I joke of our constant struggle with buyers remorse, the actual struggle that I have faced this week has been one of cognitive dissonance.

Instead of my strong ideals pushing me to follow a course of action, I have found that two opposing powerful beliefs have clashed so violently, I am left in a state of real and present anxiety. Last night was the first time in my life that I lay in bed and experienced true paralysing anxiety. The kind that leaves you unable to breathe and without a rational exit.

The Internet poses many interesting questions and leaves us open to a myriad of situations that would never have existed in a world of pen pals and rotary dial telephones. There are benefits and losses. As a scientist, there seems to me to be endless positives to this futurist Jetson-style world we live in. I long to look outside and see flying cars but then the reality of 3D conceptualisation crashes head on in to the fact that most people have trouble merging in to one lane, as they drive on a linear surface in their 1 tonne boxes of steel reinforced status anxiety.

Everything is accelerated. Faster. Dizzier. Manic. We love it but oh how we cherish the moment it all stops. The duplicity of our stop-go lives leaves me in a state of confusion, often. Then I sit down and wait, think and process then understand the source and meaning of my life momentum.

Last month, an old colleague touched base with me. We often share facebook comments or take a passing glance as the photos posted on flickr. We worked together a long time ago at Quarantine, in Canberra. That was a place full of old guys who had moulded in to furniture and found young upstarts like me too energetic at times. This guy was part of the furniture.

He was fun to talk to online. We even had a coffee while I was visiting the capital recently but the real meat of the story comes in the dark menacing form of the online shadow. A person who sees you are suffering or in a bad place, from your mood online and decides to exploit that for their own gain. I have seen this multiple times and mainly during my deepest depression when people saw I was at my weakest. Luckily, I had good people around me and although I made errors in judgement, there was nothing that caused too much pain. Ask anyone on the Internet and they will have a story of duplicity and betrayal for you.

At first I wondered about the reasoning behind the behaviour of these people. What makes someone prey on another member of their species? What perks up inside them when they see someone who they perceive as weak? What is the reward they seek at the end of the hunt?

The last question is interesting. The WHY of it all.

From my recent experience with a shadow, it was some kind of moral test. A game of positioning and baiting. Pulling me in to a situation and then abandoning me at the point where I stood alone before the Wizard. I am still not sure if I passed or failed the test. What I do know is that as soon as I made the decision to no longer play, I was answered with boredom and disinterest.

So, this will happen. It will happen with people who you once knew. That's a great way to make contact. The best way to respond is to refuse to play the game. Follow your moral compass. Trust your gut. Make decisions based in thought and not reaction to sensory stimulation.

Honour yourself.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Imaginary Friends

There are billions of people on the Earth. Thousands share your popular culture. Hundreds live in the same socioeconomic and cultural group. Dozens will call you friend. A fistful will love you, the way you love them.

Where Tuna comes from


There are many moments when I call a friend to tell them I'm having a bad day and then cheer up as soon as I hear their voice. Then I mention nothing of my troubles because those troubles have melted away to nothing.

Sometimes reaching out gives you perspective. To have someone to reach out to is sometimes enough. It's the knowing that you have someone, if you ever need.

All the rest is forgotten in the happiness of having wonderful people you love, who love you back.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011


How Manly You Are

After a night breaking shoe rules at inner-west parties, this rebel awoke to a medium to rare headache. Maybe it was the projectile expulsion the previous night but I felt slightly seedy and not overly precious on Sunday.

Allison and Kellie had been at an all you can drink foodie and wine birthday dinner the night Bernarda and I rocked Linda's housewarming but that didn't stop Allison from going for her normal swim. Today it was at the heated outdoor salt water pool under the coat hanger in Milson's Point. That is an iconic pool. It's one of the first sites I found when Google Earth Street View came online with Sydney snaps.

That area means a lot to me. Milson's Point. I used to work at a company called BCode with Sydney offices above Luna Park. In summer my days consisted of witty repartee with an Irish hardware engineer I wish I'd married and the day long screams from Luna Park-goers riding the scary rides.

Luna Park rides aren't like new parks where you accelerate towareds the ground at the speed of fright. They are those old rickety rides that make you wonder mid-ride if they have been doing the regular maintenance and what years of wear and tear can do to steel. Thus the screaming soundtrack while we worked. The view rocked, if that helps.

Allison chose a good pool for a cold winter Sydney day of swimming. She did however demonstrate the frustration of commuting to Manly on a weekend. Getting from Milson's Point to Manly requires a ferry ride back to Circular Quay and on tp Manly. Not a shirt ride or the most crow flyey path.

The easy enough journey to Manly was made painful by the hangovers that we all had persist past lunch time. Bernie and I were meant to meet a Circular Quay but after we realized we were about to miss the ferry, I got my kindly taxi driver to swoop by pick he up somewhere between Darling Habour and Circula Quay. Sydney people know that area as a deadspot aimed at tourists and lost folk... often interchangeable.

After rescuing B from no mans land, we sat at the ferry terminal and tried to make conversation. It was a major fail and she declared that Candy would be the only one without a hangover and this our only hope. Candy is intolerant of alcohol and can't drink. She's so much the Enetgiser Bunny that it lessens no outing when she attends. Candy was leaving home after giving a maths tutorial and was running about an hour late. No, half an hour with our detoxicating disadvantage.

That slut of a city (as referred to by Bernie) had a calm harbor this day. Luckily for my rolling tummy and the packed ferry of tourists crossing the ditch with me. The sail boats were out and the sun was shining so after my body turned suitably numb, it was quite a beautiful day.

We ended up at a microbrewery, known mainly to the locals. It's always amusing to listen to Manly locals bitch about the hoards of tourists in their British accents. Hate those invaders.

Within arriving, I finished my smuggled in Red Bull and started on Kellie's hair of the dog cure of bubbly, lemonade and oj. It's a personal mix but works wonders for postponing the hangover until later. During this micro-cure for a macro-hinderance in a microbrewery, I managed to hit an attractive blonde waiter while telling an exaggerated story requiring massive hand movements.

That was nothing on K's rant about "gingers" and why they are devil spawn. A post for another day and another writer probably.

We spent hours there and then by a fire in another pub. Candy arrived with her new haircut that for some reason encourages men to approach her and share their secret fantasies of dressing her up as an anime character. It's amazing what people think it is ok to say to one hairstyle that you simply can not say to another hairstyle. If only men realized that we women don't change our looks or dress each morning with their fantasies in mind. *sigh*

I sat there in the last pub doing my best to imbibe an enthusiastically purchased final bottle of bubbles. We were all forcing it down at that stage. No hair of the dog would help at this stage. The hangovers had caught us while we were at our tired weakness and unable to hold them back with our 30 something denial.

Thinking at that point of how rare an afternoon I was having in spending hours eating, drinking, hitting attractive men and discussing life, the universe and everything with my four best friends, I smiled. It was a smile that warmed me from the curls on my head to the heels on my feet and all the bits in the middle. That or I was too near the fireplace. I'll believe the former.

I'm too lucky with this friends thing. Telling Bernie on the boat ride home that a person's friend portfolio tells you more about them then any brand they outwardly portray, I realized that I'm surrounded by brains, beauty, charisma and kindness in spades.

It didn't matter that the place was Manly, it was a day for the girls.

Soul Mates

I will quote anyone if they help argue my point. In this case, it is Samantha in Sex and the City 2. Carrie compliments her for not dumping her friends and going off with a handsome man. She laughs a haughty laugh and says something about how they worked out long ago that men and babies don't matter because the four of them are soul mates.

It wasn't until I heard that a second time that I realized that I have soul mates. People who fill in the cracks when we are are together and make everything feel complete and whole again. People who act as scaffolding until we can hold ourselves up.

There is a corny story that talks of people existing as a perfect vase long ago. One day, the vase shattered in to many tiny pieces. In time as we live and are reborn, we will find the pieces that fit in to us and make us whole again. They are our soul mates.

Do I believe it? Yes, to an extent the idea is good. There are people everywhere but only a few that we fit in to and them in to us. We may travel a million paths and never find that one or few people who make us feel complete. Those who we didn't know were missing until they appeared. Not something we lack that is fulfilled but something that compliments and increases who we already are.

So often, life is either a compromise to accept people in to our lives or a series of shut doors to ensure we don't let the wrong people in. It may even become the case that we reject so many people by default that we don't let certain _right_ people in. I don't believe this is the case with so-called soul mates.

If someone is meant to be in your life then it doesn't matter if they come along too late or too under the radar to register at first because they will continue to reappear until one of you realises.

Is this the same as 'true love' and 'forever friends'? No. I'm not sure those exist. They are fluffy concepts wrapped in Hallmark and coated with pink fairy floss.

You laugh and say soul mates are the same thing. Maybe I'm aging and becoming more idealistic but I'm not convinced. There is too much evidence in my life that says that not making early sacrifices will result in true friendship found. It's a combination of waiting, trusting, not trying and always being yourself. Then when you find it, there is no real effort required to allow it to happen. It simply works. It makes sense. It is easy.

My only active advice is to not let it go. Hold on to it as other forces will surely push to re-sever. Not in a way that forces it because that can cause stress to but more in a way that is conscious and mindful of it's value.

Value the valuable. Somethings lost are wounds we my never recover from. At least for a few more lives, when we attempt to find them again.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Perfection and Assured Disappointment

How on earth can you live with a declaration of perfection thrust upon you when a person first meets you?

It's impossible, right?

I sat across from someone on the weekend who said "So, you're a perfect person?" I'm still not sure it was a question so let's assume it was rhetorical. I did however respond with "hardly". That's because I'm so flawed that I exist in a plain of existence that looks like a whole lot of floors - carpeted; tiled; wooden; floating; and even cave dirt.

There is only one way forward if you do not deal with this unmaintainable perception, in the very early stages.

Like any other belief, it should be based in fact and the one overruling positive and absolute truth is that there is no perfection. In nature... In mathematics... In concept... there exists beauty in flawlessness but that is only relative to the broken and rebuilt. People are failing from the second they are born. Even supermodels abuse airline staff and destroy the facade of perfection with ugly manners. Even rare and exotic triffid-envied tropical orchids wither and die when their time for perfection is passed.

Maybe that is what he meant. Maybe I was perfect for a short passing moment in time. Obviously, I left before I could rot in to the rainforest floor. Obviously, I wasn't snoring at the top of my lungs during his favorite movie. Obviously, I wasn't sulking about the wrongs of me suffering first world problems while other less fortunate people struggle to survive this imperfect world.

Everyone has heard me quote Marilyn Monroe when she said that if you can not take me at my worst then you don't deserve me at my best. This may be a point when the corollary kicks in and spits up on the embryonic idea that you should give me time to fail and see if I still fit in to your view of perfect.

I'm an odd person in many ways. One is that I celebrate the breaks in people. The cracks that make people the glorious random souls they are. The tarnished lives that sprout the best stories from histories lived. All an acknowledgement that there is no actual normal. There is no simply average. There is a bell curve we fit under and round holes we must fit our square peggedness in but that's it.

In our failings, we hold the key to the individuals we are. In accepting those breaks and stains and scars in those and others, we celebrate that although there is no perfection that there sure is a whole lot of really interesting, amazing and magical people.

Pedestals are precarious places. Be awfully careful not to put someone on one unless you are willing to catch them when they surely fall, after a few too many wines.


Airplanes. A great place to write. I spend so much time on them writing stuff that I wonder if that is why I travel at all. It is the perfect place to write. I can sit in a cluster fuck of people and ignore them completely. Pump the music up and chip away at the thoughts in my head.

This time, it was Sydney and Canberra that borrowed me for a while. It was meant to be more Sydney than The Capital but minds changed and plans went with them. Don't ask me why. I'm not sure I know why yet.

Bernarda was the first to see, squee and hug me on arrival in Sydney. We jumped out of separate taxis outside Allison's place in Surry Hills across the street from each other. Wielding a bottle of bubbly and the sweetest, most loving smile she greeted me. Reminding me why Sydney is another home for me. A place I belong and long for.

On this plane, they are serving food but I only want a red wine. I used to worry about the order of things before. Like dessert after dinner, when I now have it before if my mood guides me there. There is the rule of wine with food. Responsible service of alcohol except when the food is plane food and eating that is not so responsible.

Ahhh.... responsible. I want to only ever write it with a lower case R. It is far too big a word already, without engrossing its importance. Feeding its ego with stress and overvalue.

Bernarda and I got Allison's neighbor Claudette to let us in to her place. Claudette knew to expect a Brazilian called Bernie or a Darwin girl called Damana to turn up and ask to be let in. We took the third compound option and the neighbour smiled as she let us in. We know the people on that street very well. Allison has been there for a long time and I lived four doors up from her for a short time. That was at a time when my life was falling apart and I couldn't keep my ducks in a row.

Oh, do ask me about ducks later. There is a story there.

We let ourselves in to Allison's and as Bernarda grabbed the flutes, I opened my suitcase and made the big decisions. Must I change out of my Black Milk lace bell bottom tights or would they sensibly help me acclimatize?

We got distracted by the glasses of bubbly and discussions of new wave condoms before important lacey-like decisions could be made. The bottle was empty as we swanned out the door and hailed a cab heading for Linda's place in Marrickville.

Marrickville to me will always be a suburb close to the airport that is home to one of Australia's best boxers. It will also now be the suburb Linda lives in, where a week earlier down the street a man shot himself in the head when cornered by police for a recent criminal act. Associations.

Linda is an American friend who was having a housewarming. For some reason I always end up at her parties and leave said parties with trouble trailing loose behind and many incriminating photos imprinted in digital worlds.

This party was no exception. The moment when you hear yourself declare "let's make these photos look hilarious for facebook" is often the end to what could have been a fun and reserved night. I don't know if it was the mulled wine or the shots of grey goose in large plastic party cups but all I remember after that declaration is lying on Allison's couch and requesting a bucket with some water in the bottom.

Seeing Linda later for a girly cheese dinner brought out another Damana Sex And The City moment. Apparently, on arriving at Linda's she asked me to remove my shoes. Everyone else had but I kept ignoring the instructions and giving one reason that I thought would explain everything. "These are Campers heels". This seemed like a free pass to break the no shoes rule. Even lying on Linda's bed in shoes.

Fortunately, Linda is nothing but class. She expressed her discontent and we continued a lively night of wine and cheese and wine. Next time, I'll find an attractive man to help me take me shoes off. That could be the new doorman for Sydney inner-west parties.