All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Day #7: What did you eat today? (Not really a question to ask someone living in poverty if you want a happy answer!)

English: Fish and chips in Ireland

Yes…I am a masochist! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day seven of the ’30 Day Blog Challenge’ sees a question that you really shouldn’t ask someone living in poverty if you want a happy answer.

In fact, if this blog were a motion picture, just after that question was asked would be a moment of silence followed by a tumbleweed rolling slowly across the screen. You see, for those who missed it, I am one of the 2,265,000 who live in poverty (academics, until you’ve experienced poverty, you can take your ‘relative poverty’ and feed it to the starfish) which means I don’t always have the luxury of eating on a daily basis.

My food budget is what some people spend on coffee and pastries every day and although I do my level best to make it stretch through the week, sometimes it’s just not possible to do this.

Thus my food intake for the day has been zip, zilch, nada, nothing. Unless you count air, I did have a nice couple of mouthfuls of hearty air.

So to say I’m looking forward to silencing the growling belly demon when I get my Newstart Allowance tomorrow would be an understatement!

In the meantime, whilst you’re munching down a sandwich or enjoying your Friday Fish and Chips, I urge you to read the best article I have read all week on the subject of poverty; Walk a mile in someone else’s battered shoes… (via The Punch) and then, if you can handle them, read the comments – most of which illustrate the writer’s point perfectly and echo the same uninformed judgemental statements I’ve heard over the last five years.

And people wonder why it’s so difficult for someone to fight their way out of poverty?


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Day #6: Five pet peeves…

Only a few days ago I was asked about my pet peeves as part of my Sunday Stealing post. Thus, in the grand tradition of trying not to repeat myself, here are five additional pet peeves guaranteed to drive me insane!

1. Your and You’re

However much I enjoy the fact Twitter connects me with the outside world, it appears 74% of users (made up statistic) do not know the difference between these two words. So, as an incentive to encourage proper use: if I see it used incorrectly I’ll smack your (as in belonging to you) bottom until you’re (as in a contraction of you are) sorry for what you’ve done!

2. Library DVDs

Borrowing a DVD from the library does not give you the right to use the disc as a frisbee, coaster, nail fail or spoon. Other people will be borrowing this DVD after you and would rather not get 90 minutes into a 100 minute film and have their player throw a tantrum because you spilled your nail polish on the disc whilst using it as a mirror!

3. The Doctor

Repeat after me: the show is called Doctor Who; the character is called The Doctor. The next person who gets this wrong will be sternly scolded and made to write this 1000 times in the hope that it sinks in.

And whilst we’re on the subject, it’s not Dr Who; it’s Doctor Who. Otherwise the sister show would be called Rhwod!

4. To be continued…

Television show producers, you need to understand one thing. If you’re show is threatened with cancellation it is because your not doing you’re job properly (annoying, isn’t it?!). Tacking a cliffhanger ending onto the last episode of a show is not only a pathetic attempt to emotionally manipulate the studio but shows a total disregard for the viewers who have invested time, energy and passion into your show. It’s not difficult to tie up plot threads whilst leaving ambiguous questions to run with if you’re recommissioned.

And whilst we’re on it; if I ever see the words “XX Months/Weeks/Years Later” as a way to resolve a difficult cliffhanger again, I really don’t know what I’m gonna do. But it will be ugly, involve Brussel Sprouts and be something you remember for a very long time!

5. Jeggings

No! NO! A thousand times NO!

Over to you…do you have any pet peeves that drive you to randomly threaten people with Brussel Sprouts and/or just simply  annoy you?


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Day #5: Some thoughts on mainstream music…

Back in the day I used to visit the cinema, on average, once a week. If I could spare the time from work I would watch two or three films in a day. The same could be said for television, aside from the shows I have no interest in (anything that falls under ‘reality’, The Sopranos, anything that is or resembles Packed to the Rafters), I would keep up to date with everything, whether that meant watching it on first screening or catching up via a DVD marathon.

Given I always wanted to enter this field and I have a massive passion for well written, well produced, original story-telling, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone.

When it came to music I was a latecomer (although I listened to many CDs and artists growing up, courtesy of my father’s love of this medium) it wasn’t until I began travelling and explored my interest in folk/folk-rock did I begin developing a passion for this art form.

By the time I arrived in Australia I was a bone-fide music lover with one of the most insanely eclectic musical tastes of anyone I knew. At the time of losing it my iTunes collection had several hundred thousand tracks across nearly a hundred genres; although the majority of this music would never (unless you travelled to a parallel universe) be considered mainstream.

I never had a hatred of mainstream music it was just something I didn’t connect with emotionally. And for me to truly love something I need to have an emotional connection with it. From time to time I would catch a song on the radio that I would like and make sure I added it to the collection but after a few weeks it would sit on the hard drive gathering digi-dust, never to be played again.

Whereas music from artists that most have never heard of (e.g. Runrig, Serena Ryder, Peatbog Faeries, Salsa Celtica, Malcolm Middleton, Josh Ritter, Paul Mounsey, The Walkabouts) was played with such frequency I learnt every lyric, key change, beat and breath. This was mostly due to these (and other) artists becoming a source of great inspiration for my writing, which given the genre I was writing and characters born from the shadows of society, a mainstream soundtrack was rarely called for.

Now, the majority of the radio shows I listen to fall under news and opinion (Radio National, ABC Local Radio, ABC News 24) and I simply don’t have the funds to purchase music the way I once did. If you were to ask me the last mainstream song I heard, it would probably be Adele’s Someone Like You, which reminds me of the last boarding house I was in; another of the residents would listen to his radio constantly and this song seemed to be played every three or four minutes (quite a feat considering it’s a five-minute track!)

On the occasions I catch music playing in shops my reaction is 95% of the time the same. I find myself overwhelmed with a sudden urge to ram ear-plugs so deep into my ear canals I run the risk of never hearing again. I can’t stand the poor-excuse that passes for lyrics, I abhor manufactured boy/girl bands, Justin Bieber’s hair bugs me, rap is ARRGGHHH and the chances are whatever song you’re listening to will be from an artist that the world will have forgotten this time tomorrow, such is the rotation of shows like The X Factor, [Insert country of choice]’s Got Talent, The Voice and whatever other reality talent shows exist that I’ve never – nor want to – heard of.

So, to say my opinion of mainstream music isn’t very high would probably be an understatement :)

However, there are always exceptions to every rule:

P!nk
My love of P!nk has been well documented over the years. She is probably the only ‘mainstream’ artist I would purchase on the day of release.

Beyoncé
Brilliant, inspiring, admirable, magnificent, [insert positive adjective of choice]

Adele
However much the aforementioned song reminds me of a terrible period of my life, her talent is undeniable.

Kelly Clarkson
‘Never Ever’ is an eternal reminder of the highs/lows of Adelaide 2007. Possibly the only talent show contestant I rate highly.

But I’m always open to suggestions. Do you have any favourite mainstream artists that are worth checking out?


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Day #4: Bullet pointing a (bad) day… [Part 2]

Previously, in Day #4: Bullet pointing a (bad) day…

Addy woke up feeling refreshed after two hours sleep, wrote a blog post for four hours, deleted it at the bequest of an auditory hallucination then began drinking a rogue bottle of wine he discovered in a cupboard following last week’s alcoholic binge to mark the anniversary of the day he should have died. Meanwhile, Elisa was revealed to have had an affair with the pool boy, who was the illegitimate son of Rodriquez, brother of Jose, who was planning to usurp Manuel, distant cousin of Elisa and the current Earl of Belgium. Whilst all this was happening, the blogosphere began asking whether Addy had finally gone completely bonkers or if he just polished off the wine he found and decided to write an ill-advised drunken blog post.

Find out in the second part of today’s exciting blog challenge adventure…

  • After posting the first part of today’s challenge I threw my jacket on and went for yet another walk.
  • I ended up in the library where I printed out a letter I need for an interview with Centrelink tomorrow before borrowing a few books; a new Christopher Brookmyre novel, a crime thriller by Scotsman Stuart MacBride and a book on poverty.
  • After leaving the library I had a small anxiety attack before browsing the DVD store and returning home.
  • Once home I had a bizarre conversation with my hallucinations whilst cooking pasta.
  • Watched Pretty Little Liars with dinner.
  • Questioned why I was watching this rather odd choice of a show with Meadhbe, Grace and Kathy. Strangely, they were enjoying it.
  • After finishing up the wine I settled into the computer to give my poverty post another go.
  • After fifteen minutes of staring at a blank screen I decided to try to write it as a stream of consciousness.
  • This didn’t work.
  • So I forced myself to write as best I could before editing it for nearly three hours.
  • After another thirty minutes of editing I hit ‘publish’ otherwise I could see myself deleting this version as well.
  • After this I quickly wrote my Teaser Tuesday post and scheduled it for tomorrow morning, as I need to be up early to walk the 10kms to a Centrelink appointment at 9am.
  • This appointment (a job capacity assessment) has been stressing me out all weekend as it will effectively decide my mental stability for the immediate future, so I’ve been trying not to think about it.
  • I then had a shower.
  • Changed into my pyjamas.
  • Played a game of Puzzletters to try to relax.
  • Then remembered I had to finish my bullet pointing a (bad) day post – which isn’t all that easy considering I’m somewhat tipsy :p
  • And even though it hasn’t happened yet, once posting this post I will probably browse the ‘net and Twitter for a short while before heading to bed with the hope I’ll get some sleep so I’m in good form for tomorrow’s early appointment.

 

Tomorrow: Day #5: Things you want to say to an ex…
(Hmmm, could be an interesting one!)


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Day #4: Bullet pointing a (bad) day… [Part 1]

When I woke up this morning I was actually in a rather good mood; but as the day has progressed, so too has my depression. It’s one of the problems of trying to deal with mental illness – you never quite know what you’re going to get! So, here is part 1 of today’s blog challenge post. Can you spot what the turning point of the day was?

  • Woke up at 6am after two hours sleep.
  • Lay in bed dreaming about having someone to cuddle and then make breakfast in bed for.
  • Got out of bed at 8:30am and listened to the radio whilst eating Vegemite on toast and reading my daily websites.
  • Had a shower and cleaned my teeth.
  • Began writing a blog post at 9am about what it’s like to live in poverty.
  • Finished writing the post at 1pm and felt good about it.
  • Began editing the post and – after Kathy (voice in my head) pointed out that two sentences didn’t sound right – deleted the entire post.
  • Went for an angry walk around the block to clear my head.
  • Returned and drank a glass of wine (leftover from last Thursday)
  • Became angry with myself for drinking a glass of wine (as I live in fear of developing alcoholic tendencies again)
  • Went for a second walk around the block to clear my head but the voices only increased in volume.
  • Returned home and had a half hour conversation with Meadhbe, Grace and Kathy (voices in my head) who were all encouraging me to drink due to my inability to write two sentences.
  • Began drinking to appease them.
  • Sat down to write second attempt of ‘what it’s like to live in poverty’ post.
  • Wrote: “F***ing S**t” in block capitals.
  • Changed the font of these two words several times.
  • Increased the font size of these two words several times.
  • Exclaimed to myself: “Oooooo, someone’s stumbled one of my pages!” when I realized a sudden explosion of hits on my blog. Thank you to whoever did this :)
  • Drank a fourth glass of wine to celebrate this fact.
  • Wondered if I would be able to salvage my mood (and with it the day).
  • Began bullet pointing my day because I couldn’t focus on anything else and decided to make it a two-part post!

Perkier installments of the 30 Day Challenge…

Day #1: Five ways to win my heart…
Day #3: A novel staggering in its originality, imagination and explicitness…


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Day #3: A novel staggering in its originality, imagination and explicitness…

For today’s installment of the challenge I must write about a book I love. Already Quest for a Kelpie, The Hotel New Hampshire, Thirteen Reasons Why, Northern Lights and Memory and Dream are jumping up and down screaming “Me…pick ME…pay attention to ME” as if they were tantrum throwing toddlers unaware at being moments away from being sent to the naughty corner.

For a change, I’m choosing to share with you a book that has come and gone from my life four times. A novel that I love, cherish and adore beyond measure, from a writer that very few people have ever heard of, let alone read. A book called Thongs.

Before I say anything else it needs to be made abundantly clear that Thongs is not the history of wedgie giving underwear, nor is it – for any Aussie readers amongst you – a frothy rom-com concerning the love life of a shoe salesperson.

Thongs is the most intellectual, lyrical and spiritual book about sadomasochism that will ever be written. In a slight 192 pages Alexander Trocchi, a writer who is criminally underappreciated, delivers a story staggering in its originality, imagination and explicitness.

“On a cold morning in February 1922, some Gypsies moving across country between Madrid and Escorial came upon the naked body of a woman. In this fact alone there is nothing remarkable. Spain, perhaps more than any other country in the world, is the land of passion and of death. And in Spain death is cheap, from that glittering death in the bull ring to the quick thrust of the stiletto in a narrow street in a Barcelona slum. No, this death would have called for no further comment had it not been for one striking fact. The naked woman had been crucified.

I first came across this book in Leakeys, a second-hand bookstore, shortly after arriving in Inverness in 1999. Having never heard of Trocchi before I purchased it on the strength of the cover (above) not knowing anything about what beauty lay before me. I read it in one session whilst sitting in the middle of Craig Phadrig forest on a particularly lazy afternoon. Upon closing the book I was speechless; in awe at the power of his words and the devastating story he weaved.

Between late 1999 and mid 2000, I lost this book. I do not know where it went or what happened to it. Whilst perusing the second-hand bookshops of Toronto I found it again and purchased it in a heartbeat. The second time I read Thongs was on a train between Toronto and Niagara Falls and, upon arriving back at the hostel, I realised I’d inadvertently left it on the train. For the second time in my life I had misplaced a copy of this great book.

Thus the Gypsies saw her first from a long way off, stuck like a scarecrow against the pale horizon, and as there was in that arid part of the country no crop to be protected, they approached to find out what it was.

In 2005, I was doing a tour of the secondhand bookstores of Melbourne in a quest to locate a copy of Young Adam (another Trocchi classic) after recently having watched the film adaptation at the Melbourne International Film Festival. In a nondescript bookstore in Prahran I located a copy; and sitting next to it, a dishevelled edition of a much-loved book from my past. The third time I read Thongs was – once again – in one session. After leaving the bookstore I cycled down to St Kilda and sat on the beach for a few hours to polish it off. Nearly six years after first reading it, Trocchi’s words still retained their enormous power over me and I cycled home in silence.

After misplacing two copies of this book I guarded this copy with my life. Knowing my girlfriend at the time would have casually discarded it into the trash (she’d done it before with other books I’d bought) I hid it where I hid my second journal (because I knew she always read my ‘main’ journal). After breaking up, Thongs took pride of place in my ‘these books fucking rock’ section of my writing desk slash bookshelf. Unfortunately, following the breakdown in 2007, I lost it along with 99% of my books during the necessary sell-off of my possessions.

The body was covered with thin red lacerations as though before death the woman had been whipped mercilessly with fine rods. Across the belly on a fine silver chain was slung a small metal plate which bore the inscription: Carmencita de las Lunas, por amor.

And then, once again, the book came back into my possession. After hooking up with Sammi in Glasgow (2008) she took me to a second-hand bookstore she used to visit with her Grandmother and, upon witnessing my simultaneous (very noisy) orgasm when I spotted it, purchased it for me as a present. After reading her choice passages whilst sitting in a park not long after, I read Thongs for the fourth time on a train between Glasgow and Fort William the following day. And again on a train(s) between Luton airport and Guildford a few days later. Each time I read it my entire being became overwhelmed by the sheer brilliance of this masterwork.

As far as I know this fourth copy is sitting in a box in my parent’s attic waiting for the day I am no longer cycling through homeless and mental health crises so we can be reunited. But given the ‘luck’ I’ve had retaining a copy through my life, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out it had been stolen by Arrietty and her kin.

Even if it has been lost, I’m positive this book will boomerang back into my life one day for we have a literary connection that will never be severed.

For love…”

 


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Day #1: Five ways to win my heart…

After successfully completing the 20 Day Challenge I began a new challenge on Tuesday, which failed spectacularly because of the events of this week. Thus, I have decided to begin a whole new challenge that, once again, has been pinched (with affection) from The Bipolar Place.

1. Be open-minded

However much I think fondly of our respective times together, however much I loved being with them, each of my three girlfriends inflicted long-term psychological damage on me regarding a single aspect of my personality.

I often refer to it as a fetish, but people who have read my Fifty Shades of Addy (Password Protected) post have informed me that it is such a tame fantasy they cannot understand why the women who claimed to love me informed me I was: disgusting, repulsive, grotesque, disturbed and downright evil (in the Satan eating babies sense) regarding this part of my personality.

In all honesty, neither do I.

So, if you want to win my heart, you need to be open-minded. Not just about this, but about everything.

2. Prefer board games over mind games

Having been on the receiving end of emotional abuse I abhor mind games. If you employ manipulative, blackmail, insulting or controlling techniques to get your own way I suggest re-enrolling in kindergarten as this is where this sort of behaviour belongs.

From my experience, board games are much more exciting – especially when combined with a little bit of sexual creativity; Strip Hungry Hippos, Spankabble, Underwear Pursuit (basically, you strip every time you get a question wrong until you’re both in your underwear, then only the loser of the overall game removes them – otherwise, unless you’re a trivia god, you’re both gonna be naked far too quickly!) to name but a few.

3. Cook me a jacket potato with butter and cheese

I cannot recall a single time any of my girlfriends cooked me a jacket potato with butter and cheese. Granted, it’s unlikely this rather simple gastronomic delight would be the winning dish in a series of Masterchef, but I love them!  Cook me one and you’ll win far more than my heart :p

4.The three C’s: creative, caring and compassionate

I suffer from a mental illness. Even when I’m medicated there are going to be periods where I’m a grouchy b’tard. There are going to be times when I don’t make any sense. There are going to be times when I have trouble crawling out of bed. There are going to be times when I might not be able to say the right thing. Someone who has the compassion to understand it’s an illness and not my personal choice, is well on the way to winning my heart.

I have a history of homelessness. If you’re caring enough to walk up to a homeless person and have a conversation with them to find out if they’re okay and/or make their day with a friendly smile, rather than turn your nose up in superiority as you walk past, you’ll be well on the way to winning my heart.

I like being creative. I love making people birthday, Christmas and anniversary presents. I might write you a story or organise a random treasure hunt-esque date of adventurous mystery. You don’t have to do any of these things, but as long as you’re open to finding new ways to express yourself and cherish others who do the same, you’re well on the way to winning my heart.

5. Understand that you cannot change me into somebody I will never be

Throughout my life I’ve only met a handful of people who accepted me for who I am. I am not perfect. I will never be perfect. I do not want to be perfect. I like having flaws and foibles. I like being wrong sometimes. But understand I’m always working to be a better version of myself.

I’m fully aware that women enjoy changing a man, by all means help me change into the person I want to be, but if you can’t understand that you will never change me into someone I will never be, no matter how hard you try, your heart and mine are not compatible.

I fall in love with a person. Their heart, their soul, their beliefs.

I do not fall in love with the idea of a person and I have no desire to be that ‘template’ for someone else.

Not again.

Those five things are in no particular order and are not an exclusive list of things I want. In in all honesty, there is only one thing you need to do to win my heart. Something so simple most have forgotten how to do it…

Tomorrow: Day #2: Something I feel strongly about…