Sunday 30 March 2014

The Lieutenant

My eighth book of 2014 is The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville. This is the best book I have read this year and Australians should have to read this. It is fiction but based in facts around the First Fleet.

The story is so relevant to recent events in my life that I related to the point of tears. Even if you aren't where I am in a place of hopelessness and acceptance, you will find this book brilliant.

Without the usual guilt you get from tales of the English meeting the original Australians, this book bases the history we all know in compassion.

You will see that world and moment in time through the eyes of a physicist who falls in love with a black girl but can not love her because he has made a commitment to a life that he chose before he discovered who he was.

There is a scene in the book where the protagonist realises that he didn't find the person he was until he met this amazingly brilliant woman who he could be himself with. As if he became a person because she accepted and expected he was that. They shared a love of language and a great intellect but existed in a time and place where it was not allowed. They shared a mutual respect.

There is so much more to this book than a love story. There is a love of science and of history. Kate Grenville is an amazing writer who took me there. There, where everyone should go.

Should I read this? Oh my goodness, yes.
What did I learn? Life is not something that you should let happen to you. You should experience it. Live it. Love through it. Fail. Get up again. Learn and learn some more. Regret nothing.

Saturday 29 March 2014

Curvy: How one man's lust made me see myself as fat

Curvy. Voluptuous. Hourglass. Buxom. Luscious. Curvaceous.

They were all words a recent boyfriend used to describe me. He lusted after curves and it was all he ever cared about when we were together or apart. It was almost an obsession and one he proclaimed was my most alluring characteristic.

For all the people who have called me a narcissist, I have never really thought of myself as being physically beautiful. For me, beauty is about your soul. It is your kindness and compassion. It is having a mind like a steal trap and always improving it. It is an ability to express your thoughts and convey real emotions. It is about authenticity and sincerity in actions and words.

Yes, it can be dressed up with a fit body, nice clothes or makeup but without a solid baseline, none of that makes you beautiful. People see through the socially acceptable beauty that is but skin deep. That makes that kind of attraction fleeting. Although I appreciate an attractive person, I do not crave them if they have no more than that.

This man I was seeing is quite amazing with words. He can convey in a paragraph more than most men I've known could say in a novel, with one of the great Russians writing on their behalf. He could paint a picture with words, that hastened your beating heart or restarted a stalled one.

The problem was that instead of focussing on any of the things I care about improving in myself, he pointed only at those curves. He would write to me each night about them and lay with me for hours, always concerned with them. Those bits and bumps that most women work hard to hide or exercise and diet away.

Now, some men act as though them accepting you aren't a supermodel is them doing you a favour. This was in that vein but a little more insincere. With him, it was as if nothing else about me existed and if I were any other women with any other brain or talent or soul that it would not matter.

After a while, I started to become very self-conscious of my curvy parts. Words like voluptuous and buxom made me think of tavern wenches in old stories where drunken men with little to no inhibitions would hit on anything in a skirt.

Before him, I always thought I was ok with a need to exercise more and lay off the cheese but now I feel more aware and a little alarmed at my curvy physical nature. What before was a part of who I am but not that important, makes me feel bulgy and awkward.

He has gone now, on to curvier pastures but his legacy lingers. It will take me some time to work my way back to being confident with who I am and in knowing that I am not the sum of my fatty bits. As I move away from that continuous maths view of curves back to my discrete maths underlying building blocks of the world view, I will ignore those men who focus on that aspect of me.

Even if I was a supermodel or whatever some guy's exact physical type is, I'd still rather be loved or lusted after for the other parts of me that I think are quite special and wonderful. Not the aspect but the attitude. Not the shapely shapefulness but the happy happiness beneath my smile. Not the fat or skinny parts but the thinking and speaking parts.

We must all find that beauty inside us and not let anyone break that with their obsession. If we don't then we are held to the standards of others and will only disappoint.

This is why I will always ask: Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?

Violation of Volition

The preceding ten days has been a maelstrom of insanity accented with violations of my space and time. Yes, there have been major multi-dimensional offences committed.

The most distressing moment was when I realised that someone had complete access to my online presence, my online information and consequently my inner most thoughts via one of my laptops that had been stolen.

I have a habit that I developed mainly through work that has me writing an email that lets me honestly express my thoughts and feelings on a matter without any intention of ever sending it. Just writing it down gets it out of my system and I don't dwell on it anymore. It is always more brutally honest than I would ever be in reality. My email drafts folder is my Picture of Dorian Gray.

There are rules to this that I always honour in case by some cruel twist of fate, the dreaded email is sent:

  • Never address the email to anyone;
  • Do not mention the name of the person it is for; and
  • Delete the email after a couple of weeks.

With the recent theft of one of my laptops, I have learnt a few lessons:
  • Always set your laptop up to require password access;
  • Encrypt your drives; and
  • When a laptop is stolen, change all your passwords immediately.

The more recent set of rules is a result of the said theft of one of my computers on Thursday afternoon.

Yes, insurance covers it and it was reported to the police and all that. I am fine, no harm except that I now must lockdown my online presence and seriously reconsider my venting mechanisms.

Since Friday morning, I have received a few emails from people who were surprised to check their electronic post and find that they had grumpy or delightful or confusing notes from me. Luckily, none of the people who got these letters were the intended recipients so they laughed it all off and complimented me on my ability to insult or wow a person with such eloquence and lack of profanity.

There were (until I deleted them all yesterday afternoon), just under a dozen emails in my drafts folder that consisted of voluminous amounts of my thoughts on different subjects. Nothing terrible but nothing I actually ever wanted to share.

It seems that the person who took my laptop is the same person who has been making my life very difficult this last few weeks and finally got some ammunition to use against me. And boy did they use it.

So, the lesson here is to never write it down if you never want anyone to see it. Keep the thoughts in your head or whisper them to your pet rock but don't put them in gmail and then leave an unlocked laptop around to be stolen by a creep on a mission. It makes it far too easy for someone to screw with your life.

Now, with passwords changed, property secured and draft email folder empty, I shall continue my life and hope that no more damage has been done than the Send button being hit on a few ephemeral tanty-driven electronic brain dumps.

Thursday 20 March 2014

You aren't a priority

I have a lot of friends. In fact, it is possible that I call too many people friends.

Today, I had a friend who told me a bunch of truths about myself. One of them being that I am not loveable because he couldn't love me. He told me I love emotionally unavailable men because I do not wish to be loved. He told me that I was never his priority and never mattered. He told me that he never cared about me.

Ok, you can say A LOT of things about me but to say I am not open to love is wrong. Maybe I haven't found a person who can see my uniqueness. Maybe I haven't been around enough lately to make things work. Maybe I am not perfect.

I still think I am someone who is kind and full of love. To give and receive.

So, to that man or friend or somebody that I used to know, I am sorry I wasn't a priority to you but I'm not sorry. There is only one Damana and if you can't value her then it is your loss.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Comfortably Numb

It has been a long time since I shared the workings of my mind and what state I hold after recovering from clinical depression.

I still speak about my depression without shame or discomfort although I often see that in the eyes of those listening. It is still not understood that depression is an illness and not something that anyone would choose.

I would no longer consider myself someone who is suffering depression. It is something that I sometimes fear returning but I don't see myself ever returning to those dire straights. There are now too many tools under my belt to allow that regression.

There is however something very different to me now that never existed before my illness. I have a higher pain tolerance. I am happy but there is an undercurrent of chronic pain that exists as part of who I am now. My pain threshold does not allow it to overwhelm me but like chronic back pain, it is something I have learnt to live with. Unlike chronic back pain though, there are no pain killers or anti-inflammatories that will ease the constant ache. And no, antidepressants are not my friend because I am not depressed. This is an ingrained hurt that is laced between the atoms that make me. It can not be separated. It can not be dispersed.

I described my life recently to a friend as though I live on a super yacht that is my current happiness. This yacht is sailing on a giant lake of pain where at no point you can see all the edges. There is a thin film of sadness that reflects pretty colours and is often left in my yacht's happiness wake. However awful that may sound, it is a state that I understand and survive in quite happily... if not relatively.

Recently, I experienced immense happiness. Not just happiness but a spark of hope. Hope is something that was beaten out of me a long time ago and although I hold optimism in life and the future, I do not hope for more than what I am gifted with now... which is a lot.

Today that happiness fizzled and whisked away in the wind. I was left on my yacht on the lake, relatively happy.

The problem with this is that relativity has shifted. From the joy of beautiful hope to a sweet pensive sadness and down to what now feels like a comfortable numbness.

There are still endless reasons to smile. There are still reasons to be optimistic. There are still great moments to be sailed. The problem is, the numbness leaves me feeling it all as if I were floating outside my body watching someone else pilot me. Being John Malcovich with me as the puppet.

A part of me knows that the numbness will recede and I will sail my yacht of happiness again but the yacht will feel smaller and the pain lake bigger and the oily film of sadness slicker and thicker.

This all makes me wonder why I'd ever attempt or accept a happy state again if it ever presented itself because when it rejected me and left me floating unmoored, the vessel I travel in will be smaller.

I shall ponder this as I ponder many things, all the while feeling comfortably numb.

Thursday 13 March 2014


Each day, I grasp life in my hand and try to make sure I do it right. That I don't fuck it up and in doing so, do the best I can be.

Yesterday, I let the sand run through my fingers.

I let things be what they are. Accept that what is, is. Accept that what will be, will be. Que sera sera.

And today, life feels better. So much better. Coated in chocolate better.

Sometimes, it is best just to let it go. Let the sand run through your fingers.

Monday 10 March 2014

Dark and Lovely

Characters. There is an album that I remember from when I was in my formative years. It really did shape me in ways. Stevie Wonder can do that to you. He changes the way you think. Music does.

If you have not heard it then you should take the trip, and it is a trip.

There is not a song on this album that can't teach you something.

Cruel To Be Kind

I was in a crap situation until today, where there were two awesome people who were going towards a place of pain and suffering for more than just themselves.

So, I broke it. Stopped it. Took it beyond recovery.

Sometimes, the one who ends it is not the coldest but the strongest.

Life is too short

When I was very young... when my age was just a single digit, I heard about how many books were in my school library. My school wasn't very big and I knew there were bigger libraries in the world and so many more books. Of course, not all books are worth reading but even if only 20% of them were and it took me a week to read each one... well, I'd never live long enough to read all the books I wanted to read.

I lay in bed and wept.

Now I am older and I have read so many more books but still they keep writing more that I need to read. There is non-fiction to go along with all the fiction that is still out there.

So, I don't watch television or movies much. And there is much much more time but still not enough.

So I lay in bed and weep.

Sunday 9 March 2014

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

Since I am not counting Green Eggs and Ham, book 7 of 2014 is Neil Gaiman's The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

I have read a lot of his books, starting with Neverwhere. Maybe that was my mistake because I have never enjoyed any of them the way I loved that story. American Gods disappointed me and made me realise that books others rave about can mean absolutely nothing to me and that is ok.

This book is good. It starts slowly though and makes me feel as though it was written with a movie in mind for it. I really hope that isn't the case but it sure feels like it.

Gaiman paints pictures with simple and accessible words unlike any modern authors I can think of today. I do enjoy reading him just for each individual sentence. He is a master like that.

It's a short book and obviously a short story that had to be told as a novel. It is easy to consume and enjoyable.

Should I read this? Yes
What did I learn? When we are children, the world is magical. When we grow up, we are too broken to see that magic anymore. That thought makes me sad.