Friday, November 21, 2008

Daydreamin' (Contentment and the Sliding Door)

So I woke up really late today, which made me realise that I have absolutely nothing to do today. When you live alone, there's usually something to do, but my odd jobs are all done, the DVD player is hooked up, the groceries were bought, there was not a dish or a cup out of place, the drought and the rain conversely take care of the lawn and the car wash, and so I sat on my deck reading the newspaper and I realise that at this point I should have felt desperately unfilled there wasn't a wife to wake up with or a small child showing me a drawing that allegedly was me but looked like three lines and a cross, but I wasn't this morning. My neighbour, Barry Tosser, was fiddling around in his back garden, all beard and wasted motion, talking aggressively to his lawn mower while small children round around the back garden listening to Eminem directly across from my deck. Next to wear I love is a giant vacant block of land they just forgot to build a house on, where harried single mothers and people who are now regretting that a puppy wasn't just for Christmas now it's a giant labrador mingle in perfect safeness as they go about their day. As I sat drinking my juice this morning, a particularly and suspiciously made up middle aged woman in leopard skin track pants stood outside my house for about fifteen minutes, just standing idly in the vacant block, looking at her watch, tapping it, making sure it worked. Eventually, she threw her hands in the air (and she just did care) and walked off, clearly disappointed that the expected action she was waiting on had not occured - a lift, a transaction, perhaps picking up a child from an errant ex husband - and swearing into the general direction of the sky, just a giant labrador with big floppy ears and a bewildered smile nearly bowled her over from the opposite direction. All across Kingston - which is hardly New York mind you - a million different dramas are playing out rapidly, some beautiful and some tragic, but for me today there was no drama, no unpredictability, no real reason to even be awake, which sohuld really shame me into doing something, but it's beautiful sitting down at the moment, resting, thinking, maybe doing a crossword or unpacking the Super Nintendo if I'm feeling radical and adventurous...meanwhile, the Leopard Skin lady is back, she stares intently at the ground, pouts and throws her hands skyward again, before retreating in a final surrender and flouncing off, just as a blue Nissan comes hurtling round the corner, pulls to a stop, and wonders why there's no one there...I'd tell him, but from the look of him, best not to get involved...

Contentment is pretty hard earned anyway not to appreciate lazy Saturdays. I was initially a pretty contented child. I was pretty resillient too, my emotional immaturity usually followed by cloud based thinking and an ability to get up and try again. Contentment was easily attained in my school anyway. One time, I got a stopwatch, which pretty much brought the whole school to a standstill. It was a classicly 80s watch with a stopwatch function, and everyone was amazed that I could now time, say, how long our lunch orders took to come back in the basket or how long it took the fat kid to eat a packet of Samboys. It was a glorious day for me when we had to do a run around Burnie and I was able to get out of it by just offering to time everyone with the NASA watch. My girlfriend (if you can say that in Grade 2) was a girl called Sarah, one of a pair (obviously) of twins, and we were boyfriend essentially because she liked She-Ra and I liked He-Man. The best day I ever had at school was one day in about 1986 when it snowed and they abandoned school. I'm sure that it was just sleet, and if someone showed me a video of that day the teachers were just bored and sent us out to play in the rain so they could have a smoke or eat the better quality saveloys we were deprived, but I remember it being pristine white snow and Bing Crosby crooning from underneath the caterpillar. I do know that myself, Sarah, a girl called Kasey, a boy called Adam and another boy called Todd all huddled together (easy) under the bottom part of the music room, a little bit down a sloping ramp where you could sit and do things that were banned like publically trade cricket cards (two Yallops for every Boon) or play marbles. As we all sat together, Sarah held my hand and looked out onto the snow/rain/sleet/drizzle and said, and I remember this very distinctly, "does life get any better than this"...it sticks in my mind as the most adult relationship moment I've ever had in my entire life. Even know it seems quite strange, and I know that I said back "no, no it genuinely doesn't" and we all sat in utter silence gazing out in the world. In no way does the fact that Sarahs defection to Rainbow Brite completely ruined our relationship take away from the fact that's it's not only one of about, oh, four moments in my life of complete beautiful contentment, but she was so beautiful at the moment, if she'd asked me to run away with her and steal some Twisties, we'd have been off like a shot...

Not everyone I went to school with was contented though. The first kid I ever knew with what you would these days call issues was a kid called Daniel I went to school with - he was a freckle faced kid, bright ginger hair, about the size of a 5c coin, and I know he didn't have any friends at all. I'm not sure how this panned out, whether not having any friends made him this way or he lost friends by being an aggressive little runt, but I know that his public persona was very much like Scrappy Doo - he was always on edge, always looking for a grievance, and just like Scrappy Doo you kind of wished he wasn't there. He was just an easy outlet to get yourself out of social hell as well. In hindsight it was no wonder he was such a miserable little gimp, as his life was one long string of harsh abuse and being pushed over, but he made it hard for himself just by his actions, and his sheer lack of social ability. One time everyone, as an act of macho daring, had to jump off the top of the school fort. I couldn't do it, I was scared of heights (although subsesquent visits to the fort at an older age revealed it was hardly the Grand Canyon) and still am, and so after everyone else had jumped, I had to do it from the second top rung of the wodden fort ladder, which would have had me condemned as a complete gimp until I left the school except for when I landed, Daniel was still sitting at the top completely terrified and almost crying. He was just that kind of kid - a kid called Nick at my school said philosophically once that if you peed your pants Daniel probably pooed his - and things weren't helped by his mother, a big fat woman with a funny smell off her, sort of acrid coconut and bushfire, taught us singing. She loved her job, she was incredibly enthusiastic, and would jiggle up and down like a lava lamp while she taught us the actions to the latest Peter Coombe hit. She wore these horrible light pink tracksuits as well, which looked a bit Sadidas on her plump little self, and I'm sure she thought she was helping, but she wasn't helping Daniel adjust at all. One time, he chucked a massive spaz just after PE, a real three Taz outburst, because his lunch order bag had chocolate milk in it instead of banana. He threw his lunch order bag, and Nick came over and said "imagine if they gave him strawberry" - I miss Nick, I wonder what happened to him after he got expelled for breaking into the art class and trying to plant a bomb, he used to be so wise...

The last day of Grade 2 was a great day, it was sunny, an entire summer watching Australias rubbish cricket team was upon us, Sarah was talking to me, everyone had brought in board games, was wearing casual clothes (or, as a girl I work with calls them, home clothes), drinking milk and swapping footy cards like anarchic rebels, we had about ten minutes of basic classes before we could run amok (quick, someone grab a cricket ball, it's anarchy in the PE!) and best of all, we got to cross a great divide. Between the Grade 2 and Grade 3 class was sort of sliding door thing, one of those big grey ones in a concertina style, with quite an emphatic clunk when it was locked in place. This was the most exciting moment of all, as we were allowed, nay, privileged enough to cross the great sliding door divide into the Grade 3 classroom, a real and almost mythical paradise city where the chalk was green and the desks were pretty. The problem was, and we don't know if this was the moment they chose to tell him, Daniel was kept back a year. He didn't make the leap, as his emotional issues and outbursts and inability to colour in the lines (Nick again) meant that he had to repeat Grade 2. We didn't know this until, like a hapless mouse caught in a trap, we all got up on the count of three to move and only 29 little ducks came back. So, we all sat at new shiny desks, while he sat at his old one, forced to watch us. I can't begin to imagine this was in any way a positive moment for him, and he watched us with the most hateful and hurt look I've ever seen one human being give. He was grey, he was embarrassed, and if it was these days, frankly, his Myspace page would have been the giveaway for a future rampage. If Sarah had taught me something about contentment, this was the exact opposite, absolute discontenment taught at an early age - a moment so ineptly handled by the school who should have at least taken him away to an office so we couldn't throw stuff at him - and as we sat in our new desks waving to him, while there was nothing he could do back to us, until inevitably someone had the good sense to shut the door with it's emphatic clunk, leaving him behind in his own miserable world, desolate, alone, and only some nasty white chalk for company...given the circumstances, some of the things he wrote on the board about us all, well, I guess you could forgive him for that...

As for today, I've ended up drinking a delicious lime spider, watching cats wrestle in a basket on Youtube, and leopard skin lady finally got picked up, fuming...I guess for everyone, it was a contented day all round...eventually...

17 comments:

Trish said...

I love your writing.

Please add more paragraph breaks. Huge blocks of words are intimidating and difficult to read. Thank you.

I love your writing.

Moe said...

I've been wandering through your posts and smiling all the way! Chuckling now and then as well
:-)
I thought I should come over and say thanks for the visit and comment and sort of got lost in a world of Big W and mind meanderings...I'll be back

Miles McClagan said...

I know, but it's how I write! I know I should be more paragraphically correct, but I can't do it! If there's meant to be one thought per paragraph, I like 15 fighting with each other!

Thanks for visiting...I get lost in Big W every single day you know...it's now just a store, it's a narrative device!

rhubarbwhine said...

Next time you have nothing to do, pop up here and do some of my somethings. I'll trade you - I;ll insert the paragraph breaks in return.

Miles McClagan said...

I have guttering to do tomorrow, but otherwise the schedule is clear! Should there be a 2nd version of this place with paragraphs? Would someone do my guttering in return?

Kris said...

The great snow storm of '86, I remember it will. It did make the playground of Upper Burnie Primary a more dangerous place.

I had about six 'Daniels' in each of my years at school. Murray was my favourite though, he could vomit on command, and (just when you think that act couldn't be topped), he'd eat the vomit! One slow day, he went through that process three times before the teacher cottoned on and threw him out.

Good times.

Baino said...

Ha! Someone else banging on about your lack of paragraphery! Yay! I bet you talk as you write?

I wasn't so much 'held back' as my best friend was 'bumped up' in grade 2 . . .I had to emigrate to escape the embarrassment.

Actually, today is my 'contentment' day. It's cold and blustery (don't get blown off your roof now) so I'm going to dig in with a doona and a DVD . . who knows, might even try your Lime Spider recipe although it's more hot chocolate weather in not-so-sunny-Sydney!

Miles McClagan said...

I'm never sure if it was a snow storm, or I've just exaggerated a big rainstorm in my head...I know they said go nuts kids...you realise Murray is probably able to parlay that into a big career now? They hired a wrestler called Droz to the WWF just because of his ability to vomit on cue...they even called him Puke at first...

I know, I do! I have to, it's how I remember things! I was nearly moved up a year, but I wasn't because I was crap at sport and art. True nuff. It's not too bad here today, but I might sit out on the deck...and remember, Hartz Lime Mineral Water! It's the key to the lime spider creation! I only drink one a week though, to make sure I don't get sick of them (I haven't tried an orange ouzo spider yet...)

Miladysa said...

I like the way you write - without the paragraphs - sorry Trish and Baino. Like Baino mentioned - I imagine this is the way you speak. Through your words I can hear you voice so clearly.

Your blog should be compulsory reading for teachers.

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend :D

squib said...

poor Daniel, that's sad

I think your current paragraph breaks are fine (but then I don't use fullstops at the end of my paragraphs so what would I know)

Miles McClagan said...

I think it was really cruel to make him sit there - even if he was a twat! It's hardly character building is it, I don't think you can take a kid with emotional problems and make him stand out so much...

Thankyou both for the paragraphical support! I can't write any other way! If I did, er, it'd be rubbish!

the projectivist said...

i don't mind the lack of paragraphs - it's the font size i have to take you to task over!

(in return you may pick on me for my lack of caps.)

now then.
what happened to Sarah?
i neeeeed to know.
does she wear blue eyeshadow?
and
if you don't know what happened to her, i would greatly appreciate some investigation into the world of 'friends reunited.com.au' to check her progress.

ps. pictures help too.

Miles McClagan said...

Now I've got to worry about font! It was bad enough on the Blogger chat when people had a plan...so much to think about!

I don't know what happened to anyone - the girl I liked in Grade 12 has a child, I know that, I don't know where anyone is anymore! I'm scared to look! I'm not sure if she had blue eye shadow, our relationship was entirely based on a He-Man/She-Ra dynamic...if I go back to Burnie, I might go scouting for past folks...

Mad Cat Lady said...

I don't believe you should look up old school friends. All the little girls who were mean to me at primary school are reportedly all terribly nice now.

I just feel guilty now whenever I imagine them roasting in hell.

Miles McClagan said...

Well I don't have any real desire to look up everyone who was mean to me...maybe one or two nice people...I prefer the illusion that they grew up to be horribly mean adults and are suffering in menial labor...

Megan said...

Suffering in menial labor is good. Poor Daniel.

I don't mind the paragraphs either. Or lack thereof.

When you get published the editor will take care of all that, anyway!

Miles McClagan said...

Exactly - although it would be quite a job trying to break the paragraphs down, but that's why they get the big bucks! And yeah, it was a shame for Daniel...I don't blame him for the chalk attack...