morning head: No “u” in Qantas

It’s seventeen minutes past five in the morning, precisely an hour and twenty six minutes since the diminutive ruler of my existence woke up and decided he wanted some strawberries. As it turns out, on this particular occasion this was not an especially painful time to get up. After all, in what appears to be becoming a pattern, I crashed out at 6:30pm last night whilst putting afore-mentioned dictator to bed.

It’s a testament, perhaps, to the capacity of the human species for delusion. Here I’ve been thinking that the three-day clusterfuck of cancelled flights, missed connections, and slightly cranky (though nevertheless apologetic) CuntasTM 1 staff, hadn’t really resulted in a bad case of the jetlags, and yet the moment I’m anything but rigidly upright and moving, I’m asleep.

Similarly, I had apparently managed to convince myself that three weeks of spontaneity and relaxation might translate into a degree of mental/emotional refreshment that’d allow me to actually squeeze any of the mountain of extra-curricular activities on my to-do list into the schedule. Not so. Though perhaps this has something to do with the travel-induced narcolepsy.

I am beginning to wonder if there was a chapter missing from my copy of the parenting user manual, or if previous generations have been complicit in a great conspiracy. People seem to manage to get things other than child-rearing and day-jobs done, with little more ill-effect than bags under the eyes and a mild case of accelerated ageing.

Where are they getting the pills? You know, the ones that allow them to function on mere minutes of sleep. If youthful misadventure is anything to go by, they’re not taking amphetamines. Or if they are, amphetamine production has apparently moved on from the apocalyptic, face-chewing lunacy of my youth.

Can someone write me a prescription?

At any rate, the despot got his strawberries, and I got an extra hour before work to waste writing about the lack of extra hours I have to get anything done.

1 – Is there a “u” in Qantas? No. Is Qatar pronounced “kwutar”? No. Well, there you go then.

morning head: Happy Fucking New…

Like so many children of the 80’s, suddenly faced with the fact that we’re firmly middle-aged (a fact made plain not by our grey hairs, dad-bods and sagging tits, but by the icons of our youth dropping like those proverbial fucking flies) I am wont to reflect on 2016 as being a pretty shit year, all told. This despite all non-celebrity-death related metrics suggesting that life just keeps getting better.

Unlike most of my contemporaries, however, my 2016 was largely unaffected by luminary bucket-kicking, or for that matter, by the election of a bigoted megalomaniacal orangutan to the highest office in the land. But don’t get me wrong. I am not without feeling. And yes, based on my current place of residence, I’m sure the next several years will be fucked six ways to Sunday by that toupéed, little-fingered fucktrumpet.

But I’m not all melodrama and heavenward fist shaking over a few deceased famous people. I am sad that so many of them died early, probably as a result, indirect or otherwise, of their copious self-medication. And I am sad that some number of those felt the need to self-medicate because of some degree of mental illness. I am sad because I am an empathic person. And I share their disease.

Depression, a dominant theme of my 2016, is about as lonely as illness gets. It’s not helped, of course, by moving to the opposite side of the globe from family, from the people who seek my company out, who seek to understand, who ask “hey, what’s going on?” rather than “what the fuck is wrong with Gethin?”

The real loneliness, however, comes not from geographical isolation from one’s friends, but from others’ incapacity to understand, however much they might seek to.

No matter how much explaining happens, no one else will ever be inside your head, will feel the same, will truly understand, even if they have experienced something similar. And depression is an insidious little fucker, who convinces you that it doesn’t exist, that the problem is just in your head. Which it is. And also that it’s all about you. It’s. All. About. You. It’s all because of you. It’s all your fault. It’s all in your head.

Coupled with the repeated disintegration of marital harmony, another major theme this past year, which is all my fault, or maybe all in my head, or either way definitely possibly all about me, 2016 probably qualifies as the worst year of life so far. Even taking into account the prodigious volume of sheer delight that infused so much of my year, because toddler, that statement holds true.

Also, I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and find that the witless orange cocksplat soon to ascend to the Whitehouse is all in my head too.

I’m generally not one for New Years, for the arbitrary assignation of numbers that have nothing to do with any true shift in the world, change in the seasons, period of renewal. Still, sometimes it helps to draw that metaphorical line in the sand.

So, here’s the line.


Welcome to 2017 motherfuckers.

The year of no booze.

The year of the novel.

The year of understanding.

The year of dark fire.


Happy Fucking New Year.

morning head: Cold shoulder.

Greetings from out here in canal country, where the humidity is up, and the atmosphere is frosty. Somethings, it turns out, ain’t nearly as far way as you thunk they’d be. Bumblefuck being the prime example. Closely followed by broken dreams and marital discord.

Out here, just north of Lock No. 16, and south of Bridge 5, with it’s little white-picket sign for Bill’s Gun Shop, ain’t much a happening. Apart from the roar of motorcycles, as those with some semblance of remaining freedom make use of the local lack of helmet requirements and shatter any illusion of pleasant isolation.

Blessedly out of necessary (and, in its way, much appreciated) in-law-share-housing, and into the backwoods, there’s plenty of time and space for parenting to take its heavy toll.

Things have been silent on the communicatory front, not because there’s been nothing to say, but quite the opposite. The struggles of vanishing productivity, ineffectual medication, and a wildly fluctuating state of spousal respect, make for a crowded head, and little capacity for mouthing off.

There’s a hollow about here somewhere, beckoning. If it wasn’t for the ever increasing enjoyment of watching the wee man laugh at his own farts, I might just be tempted to go and crawl into it.

And of course, there’s Trump. What the fuck can anyone say in the face of that?

morning head: Night-blind.

Tip-toeing across creaky floor, night-blind. Trying to still clinking of ice cubes in glass of water. Careful not kick anything in the dark, especially the bed. Desperate to avoid waking the kid.

Approximately seven and a half minutes since his last bout of weening-rage.

He is somewhere on the bed, breath rhythmic, in sync with his mother’s.

Fumbling out of t-shirt, pants.
Shapes resolve themselves, darkness receding. Kid is there. On my side. Spread-eagled. Sideways.
Fumbling back into t-shirt, pants. Top-toeing across creaky floor.
Couch. Doghouse.

morning head: Restructure.

We’re gradually establishing a routine again, a little bit of structure.

Morning off. Kind of. Off in the sense that a bout of laughing and squealing from the far side of the bed dragged me mostly into consciousness; off in the sense that I was informed in no uncertain terms that there would be no coffee before leaving the house, unless I wanted to stay home on my own, in which case I could make my own bloody coffee whenever I wanted; off in the sense that I actually chose to get out of bed. So not.

Children are insidious little beasts. They become so gradually and subtly enjoyable to spend time with that we end up (semi-)consciously choosing to remain in sleep deficit for the simple pleasure of watching them run around a cafe, leaving a trail of dry Cheerios, in their pyjamas for half an hour.

I am lost. Like a Western Australian bureaucrat, I have been desperately clinging to the past, terrified of this new and confusing future, where the old ways of doing things are cumbersome and ineffectual. And like the private-sector executive, brought in to ‘restructure’, my own diminutive corporate hitman is highlighting the redundancy of most of my long-standing habits.

I no longer remember what my hobbies used to be, let alone the last time I stayed in bed all day, just because I can. I’ve forgotten what getting up an hour before my brain needs to function is like, or shuffling into the office, secure in the knowledge that I won’t have to actually do anything more than turn on the lights for the next seven and a half hours. Making a leisurely breakfast, with the use of two hands, or without dancing around trying not to step on undersized toes, is but a distant memory.

Most days, for simplicity’s sake, I don’t make myself food for several hours after I’m up. I sure do get my fair share of Cheerios though, usually straight off the floor.

morning head: Imagine.

To paraphrase the late John Lennon, some of you reckon I’m a fucken dreamer. It’s true. I am. Personally, I blame it on growing up on a farm, with hippy parents, and having to make toys out of nuts and twigs and shit like that. Not that I’m not grateful. When we moved to the city I was the only guy in the whole school who’d ever ridden a motorcycle. Not that I ever got to show off the skills acquired on the old Yamaha Peewee 50 to my newfound city-slicker mates. But the lack of He-Man and Transformers and whatnot in those early years certainly left me with a vivid imagination.

I have, mostly, lived in other worlds. At the end of the Year 7 rowing season, I was given a Mighty Mouse badge, because despite being the smallest guy in the squad, I refused to cox, as though I was ever going to be a competitive oarsman. At the end of the Year 10 rowing season, I was given a Ninja Turtle toy, because while everyone else was busy working on their pecs and their wife-beater tans, I was reading comic books, believing that somehow stories of heroism and triumph in the face of adversity mattered as much as being able to boast of getting a hand-job from Emily Lighting in the Bear Pit.

I was rather stung at the time, by the implication that I didn’t quite meet the requirements of pubescent development, but looking back I can’t really fault those guys, whose social compass was pointed firmly in a southerly direction. But what they saw as childishness, I recognised simply to be an imagination that would refuse to let me be content with the accepted norms of social and, later on, career advancement. Of course, most of those guys who had a hand in the Ninja Turtle doll (and Emily Lighting), now own houses and make between three and five times the salary I do. Ain’t dreams great?

But still, I do not begrudge my (low-paying) choices. And I still (mostly) happily live in a world that ain’t quite real.

Case in point: I have this persistent, and rather envious, vision of the contented stay-at-home parent, the one who’s accepting of the (temporary, God I hope it’s temporary) abandonment of one’s goals, hobbies, extra-curricular activities, and normal life in general. I am, in fact, pretty sure that every stay-at-home parent who is not me exists in this state.

Don’t get me wrong, There’s part of me that realises that, like the existence of God, a happily chaste1 priesthood, and other such fairytales in general, the contented full-time parent is a fucking figment of our collective imagination – it’s an ideal, a construct, an impossibility to aspire to; it’s a story we tell ourselves to make sense of the inexplicable, unpredictable, and existentially terrifying reality of no longer being your own first priority.

I am, generally speaking, rather loathe to make use of cliches, necessary as it is to possess a certain level of literary genius to avoid their use giving one a distinct air of intellectual dullardry. So at the risk of sounding like the Michael Bay of the blogosphere, I pronounce my continued amazement at the capacity of one’s children to teach one about oneself.

Of course, it doesn’t necessarily extend to everyone. There’s always the parent who blissfully continues to keep their kids on a fucking leash because they’re incapable of being self-reflective enough to realise that using a bit of string to stop your offspring killing themselves while you’re busy tweeting pictures of your almond-milk three-quarter decaf long-macchiato does not qualify as being a good parent.

But the voluntary c-section, raw-food-cafe-dwellers aside, some of us very quickly begin to pay attention to our own bullshit the moment a little sponge comes along.

You probably think you know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Expletives. It’s a fair assumption, what with my stubborn refusal to cease calling people a retard, because apparently the former PM doesn’t qualify as argument enough for it’s continued use; and, naturally, there’s my fondness for using terminology once reserved for the female genitalia as as much of an insult as those colloquialisms for the penis commonly are.

You’d be wrong though. As much as I (unsurprisingly) want my child to have a healthy knowledge of those words that will have me on his teacher’s speed-dial, so they can talk to me about his use of “naughty” words2, I’m actually referring to the likelihood that he’ll end up being as much of an emotional retard as his old man if I don’t make a few subtle changes.

I’m not really sure how I envisaged the hackneyed manifestation of one’s children being one’s greatest teachers, but I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with this newfound desire I find I have to be a good example to my kid/s.

I’m not talking about presenting the little fuckers with a role model who is a well-spoken (see 2), “successful” member of society, I’m referring to the realisation that my frequent inability to not be ruled by my emotions is going to very quickly rub off on my progeny, particularly as he currently teeters on the edge of speech, and is already testing boundaries and learning to effectively manipulate his parents.

I’ve yet to come up with a solution. So far therapy, medication, and marriage have not solved the problem. But I am yet determined not to ruin the child anymore than I have to. I imagine it’ll remain a rather tortuous, not to mention torturous, route for the next… well… ever? I can also imagine, however, that like climbing K2, it’s worth it in the end. I’ll probably lose a few digits, maybe an arm, to frostbite, but I’m sure the view’s fucking spectacular from up there.



1 – Yes, mostly the priesthood is referred to as celibate. Yes, also, language evolves, and I am all for an emoji winning the OED Word of the Year Award (not really, but you know…), but this one of the few evolutions that gives me the shits. Celibacy has to do with MARRIAGE, and nothing else. If you want to refer to a man of the cloth who does not stick his dick in someone else (or variations thereof), then he is CHASTE, not celibate. A celibate priest is free to do what he fucking likes with his willy, he just can’t get married. And if that was recognised and accepted, there’d be less need for Royal Commisions into Child Abuse in the Catholic Church, and George Pell could uncomfortably die wherever he fucking liked, and none of us would give two shits about it.

2 – One of my biggest problems with “naughty” words, is that they’re really not. They’re words, and that’s it. It’s the use of them as weapons that’s naughty. Not to say they shouldn’t be used as weapons, but like any weapon, when they’re used as tools of segregation, oppression, violence, etc, that’s a problem. Instead of demanding that everyone stop using retard, cunt, or moist, those words that make some sections of the population’s skin crawl, we ought to be demanding that everyone learn to use them appropriately, and stop being such dicks.

morning head: Familiar.

The boy comes back the day after tomorrow. Rather excited. And rather frustrated. As always. Ten days worth of free time has resulted in about half an hour’s work.

Partly the fault of the ongoing saga of broken motorcycle, but mostly the fault of being unable to concentrate on a single fucking thing for more than five minutes. It’s not procrastination, though there is that; it’s distraction. The barrage of information is getting out of hand. Everyone is vying for our attention, constantly.

We’re becoming so used to having access to everything at our fingertips that we want access to everything, all the time, all at once.

I have six windows open, in three different browsers, and a total of fifty four tabs. I have two pieces of writing open in IA Writer, two Word files, my to-do list app, and Evernote – so I can clip stuff off the web and make notes for more things to do and think about later. And music streaming. And app updates keep bouncing up and down along the bottom of my screen, incessant, screaming at me to do something with them. Give. Me. Your. Attention.

And that’s just the laptop.

I am going through the phone and shutting down notifications on absolutely everything. I am tempted to go entirely offline for a month and re-introduce only those things that life/work was harder without. It would probably be the last social media would ever see of me, and for most of you, I would simply cease to exist. I’m not quite there yet.

This is not the first time I’ve had this inclination. I suspect I will eventually give in to it. But like my disinclination to stop drinking altogether, I am wont to cling very hard to things that don’t really serve me particularly well, but are nice and familiar.

morning head: ‘Fraid Knot.

At some point in the night I woke up, damp with sweat, half choked by my necklaces, and struggled to rid myself of the offending tangle.

In the wee hours, an ungodly time to be awake, the alarm goes off. The charger cable for the phone has got looped around my wrist in my nocturnal thrashings and when I reach out to silence the infernal noise, I fling the phone halfway across the room, and have to get out of bed to turn the fucking thing off. At least I’m awake.

At the chaos of my desk, I’m forced to tidy the detritus before I can even consider working. It’s like a briar patch of cordage. Headphone connectors, proprietary power cords, and enough USB cables to garrotte a fucking elephant. Who even uses mini-USB anymore? Fuck’s sake.

The more I think about it, the more I realise the state of my head is much reflected by the cords in my life.

Nary a day goes by when I am not standing in the street, patience frayed, with one foot on the brake of the pram, trying not to wake a sleeping kid while I swear bloody murder at the knotted earphones that hang around my neck.

Tangle-free earphone cables, my arse.

morning head: Lolly.

Just when you think you’re about to give up on a show, that it’s only just worth wasting three quarters of an hour of your life for, it goes and gets all meta, and suddenly it’s near midnight, you’re four episodes down, and the four a.m. get up is toast.

The to-do list, already a Homerian epic, is staring balefully at me from the desk. Prioritising is not my strong suit. I have a skewed sense of responsibility. No other writing until current contractual obligations are fulfilled sounds reasonable. Unless of course, the redrafting, is getting shunted in favour of trying to fix the motorcycle, again, and making cold-brewed coffee and cleaning the house.

You know things are getting dire when mopping the fucking floor is higher up the list than getting paid.

No spending time on other projects, because I ought to be finishing the one already signed off on. Avoid revisions like the lunatic on the bus who’s trying to give away lollies that’ve probably been up his bum. Instead find anything that can conceivably be considered more urgent than… ooh, look, all those empty whisky bottles on the back of my desk could do with a dusting.

morning head: Stink Eye.

I’m not sure which is the more disconcerting thing to wake to, the sunlight streaming in the balcony door, or the cat, mere inches from my face, giving me the stinkeye because dawn has come and gone and he hasn’t had his fucking breakfast yet.

As a general rule I’m either out of bed and at work well before the sun makes an appearance, or I’m out of bed and desperately trying to be alive enough to attend to the cupboard-opening, drawer-emptying needs of the smiling juggernaut whilst attempting to brew coffee with the free hand – also before the sun shows up, though by a narrower margin.

This whole waking up in broad daylight is become a foreign and disturbing experience. The brain doesn’t know what to make of it. The cat does: breakfast.

This is more familiar, existing at the whim of miniature dictators, and the body responds independently of any activity north of the shoulders.

Several cups of coffee in, and the brain is still trying to plot a course through the strange and uncharted waters ahead, an ocean of time so vast it’s almost terrifying. I fear in attempting to cross ten days to myself I might just sail off the edge of the world.


morning head: Thermostat.

I stayed in my father-in-law’s place a while back, on the tail end of a New Jersey winter, warm enough to be out in a t-shirt during the day. The house has more occupants than it used to, and in his absence, we stayed in the master bedroom. The thermostat is cranked up to Unwelcoming, the heated floor in the en-suite set to 99°F. 99 fucking degrees1

It was summarily switched off, windows cracked, electric blanket unplugged at the wall.

It’s impossible to sleep in such conditions, like trying to drive when the cold-blooded passenger has the hot air in the car blasting in your face so hard the mucus in your sinuses has dried solid, and your eyelids have fused to your desiccated eyeballs.

Like the diminution of the House of Isildur, the wifey’s desperate need to be at all times enveloped in a cocoon of hellish heat has been somewhat lessened by the mixing of her father’s bloodline. Somewhat. But I’m still in the Doghouse, which leaves me the option to sleep with the balcony door cracked – that is, to sleep and actually be able to breathe at the same time.

Which is all good. Until the temperature really drops. It’s like a fucking Scottish summer in here this morning, and I’ve become blasé, sleeping without socks or pants or twelve bloody blankets.

I’m pretty sure it’ll be January before I can feel my extremities again.

1 – That’s 37.222°, for the antipodean contingent

morning head: Caffeine.

“…we’ve been all raised by television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t.” – Durden.

Some of us are pissed off. Some of us just try to get up at four in the morning and blog. Some of us get up and blog because we’re pissed off.

This is the first time in [insert number between 7 and 121] days I’ve managed to get out of bed before his nibs.

Sometimes the rage is inadequate, and someone to act as a mirror to failure is required. And coffee. So much coffee. I am responsible for the economic stability of East Africa.

morning head: Symbiosis

A cruel symbiosis exists between the stay at home parent and his ward. In some sort of punitive circadian rhythm the days align themselves like waves, the troughs of parental energy in sync with the lows of the child’s ability to cope with a fucking thing.

Developmental leaps, those mutant swells crashing uneven and askew on the misshapen beach of the parent’s tolerance, as the child tries wrap its expanding understanding around moving one finger at a time or what the fuck it is supposed to do with these knee-things, all seem to peak at times when the rest of the universe is trying to drag the hapless carer beneath the surface.

And then it passes, and the little imp becomes cherub once more, up on his feet now, and it’s all smiles as the parent watches him totter along the edge of the coffee table, gripping tight the home-made, pool-noodle edge-buffers, while around them bobs the flotsam of things the parent wanted to get done over the last week, and the strewn wreckage of the toy basket, thrown into yesterday’s wild surf in a desperate attempt to save the child from drowning in his own frustration is ignored, irrelevant in the face of all the things now within reach on higher surfaces.

morning head: Lemniscate.

Time since last shower: 3 days (and counting).

Time since last moment without fatigue: 219 days (I think. I’m too tired to actually fucking remember).

Time since last crossing the living room floor without stepping on a toy: 81 days (approximately).

Time since last bender: 164 days.

Time until next bender: ∞ (eternity’s a long time, but not as long as the last half hour before the wifey gets home from work).

Time since last day without to-do list: 221 days.

Time since last shit taken in peace: 13 days.

Time since last guilt-free moment of relaxation: ? (Who the fuck knows? Christmas, maybe?)

Time since last day I haven’t smiled, laughed, and nearly fucking choked on the cuteness: 300 days, 11 hours, 7 minutes and 50 seconds

morning head: Post-Life

As if a to-do-list wasn’t enough of a reminder that you’re failing as a post-social human being, the list never shrinking, unable to keep up with the prioritising of All The Things over moments of quiet, of contemplation, of taking a moment to work out where, and who, the fuck you are in the world anymore, which by the way isn’t why the list doesn’t shrink; the moments of quiet are moments of silence, raging, blank silence, vague and inarticulate. No, to hammer the point home, there’s a sub-to-do-list, yet another bunch of stuff you should be doing, which is actually stuff you shouldn’t be doing, or rather, doing instead of other stuff: Turning off screens an hour before bed, not standing in a brightly-lit bathroom while you clean you’re teeth, laying off the fucking sugar so you don’t wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a train… it goes on. The ends of days anymore are become mindless, a cycle of washing dishes, picking up toys and scrolling through MyTwatFace feeds unseeing, glossing over the endless babbling shite that we all put out into the future. Perhaps if the post-human augmentation/upload phenomena, the manifestation of our nihilistic desire to survive the impending cultural extinction, ever really takes off enough “people” will be uploaded to spend the rest of the Elon Musk Post-Life EternityTM sifting through the collective Instagramtic inanities of the early twenty first century searching for some meaning, while outside the wires the Post-Yellowstone-Eruption nuclear winter rages through the winds farms, powering our Tesla home batteries that keep us all in a comfortable state of post-life.

morning head:

Typing speed has slowed to approximately three words a minute. Must be the chill. Nothing to do with the pre-dawn state of my head. Or with the constant looking over my shoulder in dread of the wee man waking up.

Time is like a contact lens that has washed out in the swimming pool: Impossible to get hold of; Practically invisible. In fact, just give it up as lost, you’ll be less stressed. And while you’re at it, give up trying to fill it with so many things. Just. One. Thing. At. A. Time.

Trying to scale back the amount of stuff swirling around one’s brain is no easy task anymore. I’m often full of lamentations about the amount of reading I don’t do anymore, the loss of the endless nights of socialising, and long dope-addled summers of my relative youth, in which I achieved any amount of things (and nothings) on a regular basis.

Certainly, my inability to go to bed at midnight, read until half three, and get up in time to be at work by half six is somewhat diminished, in these days of daddyhood and greying hair. But it dawned on me the other day, that much more things were done in the days before the instant dopamine-gratification of social-media and smartphones.

My eyesight was better too.

Morning, retweeters.

morning head: Thursday, 24th July, 2015

The heady sense of freedom that accompanies several days to oneself, like the early days of a smack habit one imagines, is a dangerous high, a false and short lived euphoria. Like the junkie curled up in the pee-drenched corner of the supermarket parking lot, one soon finds themselves crushed beneath the weighty comedown.

Infants are creatures of the moment, like goldfish, and anything prior to the last fifteen seconds is vague and irrelevant. Certainly after three days of being away with mum (that would be “mom”, America) the child looks at me like I’m a stranger. All previously established routines are null and void.

Familiarisation and comfort training, begin all over again. Indoctrination by the Tiny Dictator. Stroller-strike is the flavour of the day: waiting until we’re at the furthest point from home and then deciding that I’m to carry him the entirety of three kilometres home, without switching arms so often, thank you very much.

Tomorrow we’re onto nap-strike, and the day after it’ll be the food. I can only assume that this is eventually going to morph into the refrain of set-upon dads everywhere:

That’s not how mum does it.

morning head: Wednesday, 22nd July, 2015

Never having been one to take heed of my mistakes the first time I make them, there comes the moment when the excitement that the wifey and the wee man are coming home early from the bush finds itself brought to an abrupt halt by the realisation that I haven’t done nearly as much as I could have or wanted to while they were away.

It’s a common problem, it’s causes manifold. I tick most of the boxes on the “this is why you don’t get anything done” list:

1. Overwhelmed by length of to-do list. Check.

2. Suffers from ego depletion. Check.

3. Caught in the Facebook/Twitter dopamine cycle. Check.

4. Compensates for dopamine slumps with coffee. Check.

5. Compensates for over caffeination with beer. Or whisky. Or wine. Check.

6. Compensates for slight inebriation with coffee. Check.

7. Deals with attendant physiological stress by going to the nothing place. Check.

This is a typical male trait, the nothing place. It’s how we deal with stress – by switching off. This might be accompanied by an activity that does not appear to be completely and totally mindless: driving, tinkering in the shed, whittling. And the wifey will ask what you’re thinking about, and to the reply “nothing”, states firmly that you can’t be thinking about nothing.

Which is not true.

Certainly, sometimes we say nothing, because saying “I was thinking about having a banana cannon on the front of the car so I could shoot bananas up the exhaust pipes of the cars in front of me” is, well…

But more often than not, we are in fact not thinking about anything. The smarter of us have learnt to couple this with activities that don’t invite analysis of our cranial activity, like playing video games. Which is perhaps not that smart, because once we’ve turned the xbox off, we’re no better equipped to deal with the to-do list than we were to begin with.

It might be much cleverer to go for a run, but of course, that would require some willpower. Which brings us back to point 2.

It’s a vicious circle.

morning head: Tuesday, 21st July, 2015

I vaguely recall stumbling downstairs in the darkness to turn off the alarm. The extra alarm. The one that goes off after the four I have already turned off on the phone beside the bed, after half an hour of ABC News Radio innocuously attempts to drag the heavy blanket of sleep from over my head.

I also vaguely recall, back in bed after the offending racket was muted, the rain thundering gloriously on the balcony and my hand, independent of any connection to my brain save the acknowledgement of the convenient excuse, sending a message that I would not be joining my erstwhile workout buddies in a session of stair running.

Exercising in the rain? Not a fucking chance. That’s the providence of non-parents, of people with the energy and drive to anything more than what is absolutely necessary for survival.

Which right now, should include me. I’m in the house alone again. I have all the time in the world, a to-do list longer than War and Peace, and a can-do attitude. And yet my body is stubbornly refusing to go the distance. It’s apparently sending me a message, independent of any connection to my brain: Get up before dawn? On one of the three days between now and 2030 that I can keep sleeping? Not a fucking chance.

morning head: Wednesday, 15th July, 2015

The miracles of the brain’s resilience are manifold. Having a kid is a little like being Phineas Gage,

…an American railroad construction foreman remembered for his improbable survival of an accident in which a large iron rod was driven completely through his head, destroying much of his brain’s left frontal lobe, and for that injury’s reported effects on his personality and behaviour over the remaining twelve years of his life—​effects so profound that (for a time at least) friends saw him as “no longer Gage.”1

And yet,

A report of Gage’s physical and mental condition shortly before his death implies that his most serious mental changes were temporary, so that in later life he was far more functional, and socially far better adapted, than in the years immediately following his accident.2

Now the wifey and I might differ very slightly on how large an iron rod our son has driven through my brain, and I’m not at all certain I’m going to get any more functional or socially well-adapted the further through life I go.

I am certain, however, that despite the great big hole in my head through which all manner of details fall, that I retain some capacity for repair.

Case in point: I have a submission deadline today. I have been mulling over this particular story for several weeks now, daily getting slightly more anxious that the deadline loomed, I had not put a word of it to paper, and despite my rather extensive reading on the subject of inspiration, really had no fucking idea where I was going with it.

Yesterday, some 40 hours after the wifey removed the iron rod from my head, and took him out bush with her, I banged out three quarters of the story without really having to think about it, and left myself with the final paragraphs and a clear line of sight to the end to write today.

This might be the first deadline I have not blown in… ever.

Morning, crowbars.

1 – Wikipedia contributors, ‘Phineas Gage’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 29 June 2015, 06:11 UTC, <> [accessed 15 July 2015]
2 – ibid.

morning head: Tuesday, 14th July, 2015

It’s practically silent. Even the sound of construction outside, usually a grinding addition to the cacophony inside, seems remote. The house is cold; clean and empty; I’m standing in the middle of it in a trance-like state wondering what the fuck to do now?

One step at a time they reckon: one paragraph, one workout, one day without smoking crack. Sound advice, and easy to follow when there’s someone else relying on you for absolutely everything. Let’s face it, when you’re in charge of an infant, it’s impossible not to follow.

I’m hungry, feed me; I’m not hungry, get that fucking spoon out of my face; bring me a different toy; stop stacking the blocks; I just shat myself; hey where did my block stack go?; fuck this crawling business, carry me; I just shat myself; put me down…

It’s life in the moment and moments are all there are. Take the quickest thing on the to-do list, the list that started with ten things and now fills a small mole-skin, three random scraps of paper and half the internal storage on your phone, and try to sneak it in while the ADHD Dictator is distracted by the spin cycle of the washing machine.

And then all of a sudden you have the house to yourself, and once you get over the shock, you realise you don’t know how to do quiet and space and time anymore, and your to-do list was apparently written during a recent crack-binge:

  • Empty bike
  • Sort Jackson in shed
  • Post kitchen on Gumtree
  • Dismantle yard

Morning, Twelve-Steppers.

morning head: Monday, 13th July, 2015

Somebody posted a little picture the other day of the parenting triangle. The triangle part, I believe, is merely a way of injecting some visual appeal into the post so they can get a few thousand likes and retweets, rather than four – which is the number of their parent friends who are not too busy trying to defy the rules of the parenting triangle to pay attention to the Facebooks. It goes like this1:

Parenting Triangle

1 – Actually, the original was the Motherhood Triangle. It’s here if anyone (Lorien) wants to go there and ream them out for perpetuating gendered parenting stereotypes.

Throw into that mix a full-time parent who is also trying to change careers, kick start a long-dormant novel, take on paid editing work on the side, and submit short works of fiction to tight deadlines… And you can narrow that choice to 1, and it’s not a choice.

So naturally, when I’m faced with three and a half days to myself, child-free, wife-free, (day) job-free, I have a list of things I can finally just get done. I’m inordinately excited by the prospect of some unfettered productivity. And a clean house.

In response to which, of course, my body goes into protest, strikes me down with some sort of plague, and says stay. the. fuck. in. bed. Oh, and don’t even think about getting all brainy on me, I’m taking that away from you as well. Just you stare at the wall motherfucker, stare at the wall…

Morning, protesters.

morning head: Sunday, 12th July, 2015

There’s a classic co-sleeping position called The Doghouse. It doesn’t take much imagination to work it out. Mum has her usual side of the bed, the kid has the entire rest of the bed, and Dad can curl up wherever the fuck he likes, as long as it’s not on the bed.

It started innocently enough. The child was sick, not sleeping much at all, and I took up residence for a few days in the spare room. It was to everyone’s benefit. There is next to no possibility of me being an adequate parent human being if I don’t get a decent sleep. It’s not selfish, it’s simple fact.

More simple facts:

  • I am largely incapable of going to bed at 8pm.
  • A decent sleep is approximately 8 hours long.
  • I get approximately 8 hours of sleep approximately once a week.
  • To get up in the morning and get some work done before I’m on duty currently requires at least four alarms, and twenty minutes of staring at the blue-light dispensing screen of my phone, groaning while it banishes the last traces of melatonin from my head.
  • This is not a classic co-sleeping position.

Thus, two months later, I am still in The Doghouse.

Morning, pooches.

morning head: Wednesday, 8th July, 2015.

I went to sleep with screen blindness, brain a melatonin-starved little raisin, shrivelled and dry.

I am torn from strange dreaming by the cacophonous warbling of Katy Perry, a rude awakening from shirt-fronting speeches by front-bench ministers who talk the talk then toe the line. The radio has been whispering in my ear for nearly an hour and a half.

There is a reason my wireless is set almost exclusively to news radio. Not because I have any particular love of listening to bullshit political rhetoric, but because I have no interest in being subjected to the likes of Ms. Perry. Apparently, not even Radio National is safe.

I note, however, that she is fighting to buy the convent out from under a bunch of nuns in Los Angeles. She likes the building is seems. And has the support of the Arch[bishop/deacon/etc]. No prizes for guessing how she got him on board.

Morning, pop-whores.

morning head: Tuesday, 7th July, 2015

This thing, whatever it is, morning head, began as a crank, something to be inserted into my head to forcibly turn over the engine of my brain, to get the faculties moving so I could get on and write. It was never intended to actually be a thing.

But apparently, living under a tiny dictator is rather more all encompassing than I expected, and what began as a kickstarter has somehow turned into a musing on being a parent.

It’s a fucking op-ed for The Cliché Herald Tribune: TWO-BIT OCCASIONAL AUTHOR BECOMES PARENT, BLOGS ABOUT IT.

Next up: Page 3 girls.


morning head: Monday, 29th June, 2015

Morning Productionists.

Wait, no, it’s afternoon. Of course it is. There’ll be no writing in the morning. Not if you’re attempting to make any kind of schedule for yourself while you’re being a parent.

They don’t tell you this. Or maybe they do, but that knowledge is experiential, completely immune to transference. Naturally. The species would die the fuck out overnight if the realities of parenting could actually be related to the unwary, the hopeful procreators.

That’s not to say it’s not worth it, but the fact is: You. Have. No. Idea. What. You’re. Getting. Yourself. Into.

Which is true of all of it. The good and the not good. It’s not bad, it just ain’t good. Learning rarely is. [Insert banality about ease and things worth having here]. People love to throw these at you. “Enjoy the process.” “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

Fuck off.

If the journey is so great, why to we need a plethora of hackneyed little proverbs entreating us to enjoy it? Parts of it are great. Parts of it are not. Anyone with half an ounce of intelligence and a modicum of self-reflection will accept it all as part and parcel, but don’t try to tell me that spending 13 hours on a 43 seater bus with 72 other people, two of which are not-small children who are seated on your lap and have one of your earphones each, depriving you of the only succour available, should be enjoyed. Is it worth it to go to the wedding, to drink beer and dance to blistering high-life on the deck of a boat on Lake Volta? Of course. But it still ain’t good.

Somewhere or other in the last week or so, someone described parenting as the days flying by, but the moments dragging on and on and on and on. Truer words…

Time flies when you’re having fun, but Jesus does it drag when things are rough.

I wouldn’t exchange being at home with my son all day for the world. But some days, I’d give my right leg for 5 minutes alone.

morning head: Monday, 22nd June, 2015

Of all the traditions started by my late paternal grandfather, a monument by anyone’s reckoning to all that is good in the human species, the one that seems to be made manifest in myself in gargantuan proportions, is the one that in all likelihood going to be the death of me.

I’m not talking about the butter. I like it more than I should, sure, but if the old codger could eat a tub of lard in his dad’s shed with a spoon and still live to a ripe old age then I’m pretty sure my fondness for a cheese-like layer of butter on my toast ain’t going to be what gets me.

No, the habitual morning grumpiness, is what’ll do it, no doubt through the agency of my darling wife. But if by some miracle I manage to escape the ceramic-titanium frying pan in the head, I’m pretty sure these 4am starts are gonna kill me.

My grandfather lived in simpler times. Roles were clear cut. He was the patriarch – albeit a largely relaxed and benevolent one. But you did not go anywhere fucking near the man until he’d been up for at least an hour. Unless it was to bring him a slab of butter with a sliver of toast underneath it.

I don’t have that luxury, more’s the pity. I live in the world of self-help, of open chakras and pilates and “fucking well learn to deal with your emotions you man-child”.

So now it’s all in bed by 8:30, and yoga, and not drinking, and meditation. For fuck’s sake. And getting up at sparrow’s fart to write.

In fact, now that I think about it, the whole argument is moot. I’m already dead. Or, at least, the me I know is. I’m still not very happy about getting out of bed, but at least I’ve been up for three hours, and had my butter, by the time the wifey comes to life.

And I suppose I can begrudgingly admit that the early writing is paying off. New contract signed this week.

morning head: Wednesday, 27th May, 2015

The alarm buzzes silently at my wrist. It’s an experiment, to find a way to drag myself out from beneath the blankets of oblivion without waking the wife and child hours before they need to be awake. It’s unnecessary. I am awake already.

The cries of snot-clogged infant from the next room have done what many a screaming alarm clock has failed to. It does not take much where he’s concerned. It’s one of the bitter ironies of human nature.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a lighter sleeper, capable of arising with little prompting and a spring in my step, ready to get to work, rather than having to be bitch-slapped into a modicum of wakefulness, plied with at least a gallon of coffee and then cajoled into doing anything other than staring blankly at the newspaper.

It takes nothing more than the slightest stirring from the small thing in the middle of the bed now to wake me.

It’s not what I was after.

Luckily for me, such occurrences are usually the result of an empty belly, and I’m not much good on that front, so I can roll over and go back to sleep while the wifey sates his hunger.

Not this morning.

I’m not sure in my wildest fantasies (and they mostly are) or darkest dreams (ditto) I’ve ever envisaged sucking snot out of a child’s nose1 in the wee hours.

Morning, breathers.

1 – The propaganda for the Nosefrida is highly misleading. Like the calm, oxygenated faces of soon-to-be crash victims on aeroplane safety cards, the images that depict smiling babies on the receiving end of a Nosefrida are so far removed from reality as to constitute criminal activity. Just try shoving a tube up your baby’s nose, and see how long they maintain that happy, trusting smile while you forcibly vacuum their boogers…

morning head: Tuesday, 26th May, 2015

4:40am. Who’s fucking idea was this?

Don’t answer that.

I’ve been building to this for a while. Nearly 8 months in fact. Apparently this is now the only time I’m not overrun by the mundanities a being a bloody grown up.

They don’t tell you this. It’s all “enjoy every moment, because one day you’ll be a grown up and you’ll have to be responsible.” I don’t recall anyone ever saying “enjoy every moment, because when you’re grown up, the only time you’ll get a minute to yourself is when you’re taking a dump.”

Grown ups are dicks. Like politicians. They conceal the truth until it’s too fucking late to do anything about it.

But here we are. Dawn is but a distant dream. And I am on the verge of blowing the third deadline for the same piece of writing.

At least this little experiment is finally fulfilling its intended purpose: to get the words moving before I attempt to do some real work. It’s helping. Really. Not procrastinating at all…

Morning, delusionists.

morning head: Friday, 22nd May, 2015

The sun is coming up, a pastel wash like the sea of pink, v-neck t-shirts that discolour the grungy ambience of trendoid pubs everywhere. Unlike the crashing waves of metrosexual fashion-nuggets, however, this is a tranquil backdrop to a quiet and pleasant morning.

For the first awakening in living memory (i.e. the last couple of weeks), I don’t feel like I’ve been run down by a vehicle with too many wheels.

The wee man made it all the way to 4:30am. Fuckin’ luxury innit.

What’s more, he went down for his morning nap in silence, peaceful, and late enough for me to simply sit up and enjoy the sunrise, instead of crawling back to bed to desperately squeeze in as much shut-eye as I can before being dragged back into the fray.

This is the goods.

They say after the initial struggle for breath, drowning is really quite peaceful. Smacks a bit of religion to me: one of those comforting fictions created by people who are scared shitless of dying in the water.

But it makes for an appropriate analogy. The brutally early mornings have been a struggle, but the need for air seems to have passed. This is peaceful. The old (or, rather, young) self will soon be dead.

There is only the middle age. In bed before 9. Up before dawn. I am become run of the fucking mill.

Morning, clichés.

morning head: Wednesday, 20th May, 2015

This is morning #11. In the last five days. I’ve gotten out of bed so many times, at so many hours of the night I have no fucking idea who I am anymore. Though that might be related to my sudden change in social status from #lazygoodfornothingwriter to #stayathomedad. Get a real job they said…

There are no more mornings off. There is only Morning On. And Afternoon On. And Evening On… Let’s face it, there is only on. Stay at home parents who get anything else done are not real. They’re fairytales, the daydreams of people who can’t tell you the last time they ate breakfast after the sun came up, who only emerge from the house to walk the child to sleep in the stroller, and who no longer remember whether they have carpets or hardwood floors.

When I started this, it began with “This is morning #4.” I have been trying to put more than four words together since Saturday.

I have come to the realisation that the only way to achieve anything anymore is to do it during the hours of darkness, when the rest of the family is asleep. Unfortunately for me, I’m pretty much comatose by the time the sun goes down. The sum-total of my ability to function once whatever scraps I manage to shuffle together for dinner hit the bottom of my stomach, amounts to staring blankly at the television. It typically takes approximately half an hour after the show has finished for me to register that I’m gazing at a dark, silent screen, and trundle off to bed.

The only solution, it would appear, is to get up hours before everyone else, and attempt to smash out a few words before the beasts are set free again.

This is the death of romance. The late-night scribe, slightly drunk and revelrous with his words is no more.

The portrait of the artist is a health and safety poster, a guide to heavy lifting, function over style.

morning head: Friday, 15th May, 2015

There’s wonderful sense of false clarity that follows a weekend of late nights and over-indulgence. That first wake up after sleep sans substance-abuse. It’s not a clear head, it’s just the absence of a messed up one. Longtime self-medicators will know what I mean.

This is how I feel now. Morning off… on… er… I have no fucking idea. I don’t even know that it’s morning, except the clock and the sunlight tell me so. Cold shower has done little to help.

I have slept approximately 5.5 hours in the last 39 or so. No, I have not been taking cocaine. Lately.

Welcome to the realities of long-haul flying with a child.

Despite the seating fiasco, and being none too impressed with ending up rows away from my wife and infant son, flanked on either side by people who not only blocked my quick access to the aisle (and hence lending easy assistance to the wifey), but also slept the majority of a fourteen-hour flight in which I managed almost fuck-all shut eye, I can’t lie and say there wasn’t some tiny part in the back of my head that didn’t gleefully think: well, at least I’ll be largely off duty, stuck as I am in the middle of strangers.

I suspect my atypical inability to sleep on the plane was what the hippies call instant-fucking-karma.

And the reality of being stuck in the middle of a darkened plane with an infant in the gloomy distance is not, in fact, the mindless shitty-movie-fest that one imagines it to be. The only thing worse than having to be alert on an aeroplane is actually being alert on an aeroplane.

I did, however, watch Alex Garland’s exceptional Ex Machina, so something worthwhile (other than losing an entire day and not waking up in a gutter with a raging hangover) did come out of the whole thing…

Morning, Time-Warpers.

morning head: Friday, 8th May, 2015

Still crawling out from beneath the wreckage.

The schedule has been rearranged. Morning off.

Trying to make a deadline I’ve already missed. Some days, the coffee doesn’t help. Some days nothing helps.

Speaking of train wrecks, wake up to find the UK has decided to crawl right back into their’s.

There’s really not much to be said.

Morning, Nihilists.

morning head: Wednesday, 6th May, 2015

This morning is a fucking train wreck. Waking up feels like trying to drag myself out from beneath three tons of twisted, broken steel, bodies and tables from the dining car.

All thanks that the wee man is content to lie on the floor and chill. Morning on.

Cold turkey is fine, but one thing at a time. I’ve tried going all out, dumping multiple dependencies at once – sugar, alcohol, caffeine, refined carbs. I’ve made this attempt more than once.

Typically lasts about three days and then I wind up passed out in a kiddy bath full of cheap scotch, a hypodermic syringe full of cold-press coffee in one arm, and the remains of a white chocolate cheese cake smeared all over my nether regions. There’s probably a cigarette stuck in one corner of my mouth for good measure, slowly burning away as I slumber, happily sated in the aftermath of my gleeful swan dive off the back of the wagon.

As I said, one thing at a time.

Seemed like a smart plan.

They call it the reward cycle or something. Cue, routine, reward, repeat. The key, they tell me, is to recognise the cues, the impetus to get high, and then either change the routine, or replace the reward. Don’t fight the after dinner slump, the craving for chocolate bingeing – after all, with a strength of will like mine, I’m doomed to fail. No, just replace the reward, the kilogram bag of peanut m&ms, with something else.

So I did. Coffee.

And here we are beneath the bent and broken carriages of that train we were riding to sobriety.

But who says I don’t learn from my mistakes? Replacing that late-night sugar binge clearly didn’t do me any favours. You think I’m replacing this morning’s desperate need to consume a gallon and a half of thick, black coffee with something else?

Not a fucking chance.

Morning, repetitionists.

morning head: Monday, May 4th, 2015

The perils of getting enough sleep. I’m up mid-cycle and the early turn in turns out to be wasted. Morning on.

I’m a creature of habit, and engage in an ongoing (read: failed) process of attempting to replace bad ones with good. Apparently I lack the mental determination. Ego depletion, it’s called.

I’ve never suffered fools particularly lightly – in fact at the age of approximately ten, I was told by my teacher that under no circumstances would my t-shirt on our screen printing day be allowed to say I’m surrounded by idiots. It continues, as the observant will have noticed, in my lack of faith in the survival of the human species.

I may think the general population are fucking morons, but I don’t necessarily hold myself apart from that. And it would seem this is the perfect example. I squander my finite resources, much like the lot of us, who will soon be living dying on a deforested, saline little ball floating silently around in the void.

I know my ability to self-regulate has its limits, same as I know if I train too hard I injure myself. And yet I do so repeatedly.

I am a reflection in microcosm, of the collective stupidity of humanity.

“The difference between genius and stupidity, is that genius has its limits.” – Einstein.

Unlike my self-control, which appears to be in direct and opposite proportion to my idiocy.

Morning, bampots.

morning head: Sunday, 3rd May, 2015


Not today. No rest for the breeders.

I was off rotation. Except there’s no such thing. Not being in charge of getting up at first chatter, and averting the saturated-nappy crisis, is not the same as not having to get up.

I’m trying to create a plausible mental schedule, one where I can find regular time slots in which to work.

Yes, I can hear you laughing.

It doesn’t have to be a three hour stint. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day. But some sort of roster would satisfy my (really bloody aggravating) need for self-structure.

This is the hemispheres of my brain using different code.

My left brain is running OSX, apparently. It loves creativity. It actually thinks it’s built for it. It fails to understand the nature of tools. A schedule is a wonderful thing, but its a fucking means to an end. Imposing one for the sake of imposing one is about as useful as sewing a cow’s udder to your face.

My right brain is running… my right brain doesn’t give a fuck what it’s running. Does it have a keyboard and a blank page? Yep. We’re off.

I have been moving since the moment I got up. It is now almost nine hours later.

Failing the arrival of the effective sleep-reduction tech I’ve been waiting for, I’m going to have to resort to more mundane, and frankly rather boring, methods of staying alert and focused in the hours after my progeny has trundled off to bed.

I am considering reviving such cheerlessly middle-aged practices as yoga and meditation. Ho-fucking-hum.

Morning, hill-toppers.

morning head: Saturday, 2nd May, 2015

There’s sweat in the crook of my knees. On the verandah, bright sun and cool spring air; birdsong and cherry blossoms and the smell of new leaves. Coffee. Not enough coffee. There’s never enough fucking coffee.
The wee man is asleep, and I’m using the few minutes of peace I’m going to be allowed today to shlep nonsense instead of trying to make a deadline I’m already past.
Stay at home parenting is not compatible with trying to change the direction of life. The realities of familial responsibility. The cold, hard facts of having to abandon the frivolities of childlessness. Drinking, even in the depressingly small doses I’m permitted these days, kills any chance of success here.
I am reduced, mostly, to night time work. After dark when my brain is sub-optimal, sub-functional even. I drank a beer yesterday evening. A beer and a half actually, not realising that Flying Dog Imperial Porter has an exceedingly high percentage of alcohol by volume. Last night’s work wasn’t.
I might have countered this with coffee, except that I was on morning duty today. We’re on rotation now. Day on, day off. I am attending baby boot camp, apparently, in preparation for my imminent dispatch to the Western Front.
I’m told that having a child, at least in the early years, is effectively an abandonment of all but the most essential of one’s passions or hobbies. All but one. All but that one that you must desperately squeeze in in every spare moment, every three minute stint while the child is on the boob.
I’m having trouble reconciling this with my desperate need to procrastinate, to avoid writing every chance I get.
This might be why I’m still working a day job. This might be why I’m here.
Morning, procreators.

all posts

13No “u” in Qantas
1Happy Fucking New…

13Cold shoulder.

10‘Fraid Knot.
8Stink Eye.
24Thursday, 24th July, 2015
22Wednesday, 22nd July, 2015
21Tuesday, 21st July, 2015
15Wednesday, 15th July, 2015
14Tuesday, 14th July, 2015
13Monday, 13th July, 2015
12Sunday, 12th July, 2015
8Wednesday, 8th July, 2015.
7Tuesday, 7th July, 2015
29Monday, 29th June, 2015
22Monday, 22nd June, 2015
26Wednesday, 27th May, 2015
25Tuesday, 26th May, 2015
22Friday, 22nd May, 2015
20Wednesday, 20th May, 2015
15Friday, 15th May, 2015
8Friday, 8th May, 2015
6Wednesday, 6th May, 2015
4Monday, May 4th, 2015
3Sunday, 3rd May, 2015
2Saturday, 2nd May, 2015