(no subject)

There has been such a huge release of tension in the last two weeks. Yuri's exams are over. My birthday has come and gone and I'm still here. (As a bonus, I've now lived longer than my dad). The weather has warmed right up. The house now has pictures hanging on the walls and feels so much more like home. The Google "perf" cycle is over and I read my peer reviews (all very nice). My husband is happy. My kitties are happy. I can hear Firbank munching his chicken wing right now. I'll pick up the bone fragments later.

I even went to the gym this morning (and I'll have to go again tomorrow or I'll seize up). Plus, I'm playing better on my violin than I ever did at school. Maturity isn't all downhill.

Did I mention maturity? Well, I still like Viz.

Whining; also, how have you been?

Why is it depression is so hard to admit? A month or two ago I remember wondering if the black dog was near the door. Now I spent whole days practically jumping out of my seat, running blindly from the twitch that doesn't let me concentrate on anything at work or at home because I haven't given it demanded attention. The only relief seemed to be practising violin, but the twitch even made it into that sanctum more than once. I can fight there, but not at work. It's not a twitch. It's the black dog and it has been shaking me hard in its spine snapping jaws. For the last few months at least. I couldn't let myself see it until now.

Sigh. I have a lot of work to do again. Hopefully I'm better equipped this time around.

Sorry to have stalled this journal. For a while I thought it ended with dearest Dax's passing (daxen, catkin, rolly polly bratkin [ to the tune of "fish heads"] ).

So more than a year has passed. The life has played out mainly over on Google Plus. Look for me there +Nick Verne if you want to see lots of pics. Lots of good stuff has happened - renovated house, Yuri at uni and so on. That means blissful happiness, right?

Don't panic, I'm not in danger. I'm just trying to get out of the black dog's jaws.


From Kitties&Nieces

Poor old girl. We had to let her go today. She had a difficult last year and her health was in a permanent decline - diabetes, kidney problems, IBS - so the question was "How much is she enjoying life?" The answer was "Not much at all." There were glimpses of her old snuggly self, but far more defensive hiding in safe places, trying to sleep off the discomfort and generally having a bad time with the litter box. I was worried that I might be calling "time" too early, but I think she really was ready.

Goodbye, baby cat. You were mine for twelve years. I'll miss you.

(no subject)

Mum and Sarah tell me our cousin Jenny's house has been severely damaged in the Christchurch earthquake. She's fine. Other more distant relatives were there, but news has yet to reach us. I can barely remember who these people are. I have numerous cousins, aunts and uncles in New Zealand (grandparents having passed away long ago), but I really don't know anyone. That's what twelve years on the other side of the world will do. Also, twenty five years with no visits to New Zealand has an effect. My family has been large in reality, but in my mind it has been small, shrinking disastrously on my father's side early and making me think of it only in terms of loss and contraction. This is at right angles to the truth - the family has expanded with marriages and children. It just hasn't included me very much, what with being the gay uncle on the other side of the world. We came back to Australia to improve the situation.

I'll be going back to SF for Google IO in May. It's been nearly a year since I was there for Pride 2010. Looking forward to catching up with friends, wondering how many more of them have moved on. Soon enough I'll be as rootless there as in New Zealand.

Mum has been on a fantastic adventure - a personal mission of mercy to a destitute family in Queensland. Their farm house in the Lockyer Valley was made all but uninhabitable by the floods. Via an online bridge playing partner she heard of their plight and decided to do something about it directly.

None of that organised charity - just collecting donations, purchasing replacement hot water system, washing machine and fridge (not necessarily new, but working), bringing up all sorts of household goods and delivering them during another torrential downpour in which the car was temporarily bogged. Luckily this was within meters of the house.

Amusingly, the family has since had attention from the state premier, the local disaster relief agencies and so on, all "just checking to see who might have fallen through the cracks". Word must have got out that a Sydney woman was doing more useful things on her own. Probably scared a few officials who were getting too bureaucratic. Process-oriented people: fine in the slow times, not good emergency responders.

My own adventures have been a bit boring. Lots of work, two weeks of an annoying summer cold, an air conditioning breakdown during the heatwave, parking fines in our own street, and next weekend marching with Gayglers in the Mardi Gras parade. Oh, and the Abba World exhibition last week. And a movie night with friends that same night - Faster Pussycat Kill Kill featuring the late Tura Satana's boobs and kick-ass moves. And Mardi Gras fair day the next day. And Bingay at the Beach (actually, the Paddo RSL) yesterday. I'm going to be completely gayed out.

Losing a Friend

We didn't spend that much friend time together, but it was the best quality. A backyard bbq party in Balmain. A bottle or two of wine shared at our work offsite in the snow. A crazy beautiful evening in San Francisco eating Ethiopian food at New Eritrea then stumbling into the Academy of Sciences Museum dressed up as a night club. Your infectious smile and wicked sense of humour.

I'm going to miss you, Mike. 42 is no age to be leaving this world.

(no subject)

Here I am again. Not dead. Didn't forget you.

I just got a little clogged up on the "talking about me" front. Life has been quite interesting, really.

1. I have been playing my violin. Some improvements are happening. I have been slack about finding a teacher, but that should be remedied soon. I took my violin to the local violin maker for a check-up and routine maintenance, being nearly thirty years since its last repairs. In that time it accumulated some scratches, dirt, a few other things like the sound post position are going to be adjusted. Then it's time for some real lessons to bust out of the old bad playing habits and make some new good habits.

2. I've been less anxious about work. Mostly, I stopped hesitating to write up my thoughts for people to critique. I'm no longer worried to look like an idiot a few times before getting it right. That's a huge change - the old anxiety was quite stultifying.

3. We're on holiday. As I write, yuriverse and I are staying in a lovely gay retreat in the hinterland near Byron Bay. We're on a road trip. So far we've been through the Hunter Valley, visiting a couple of wineries (Lindeman's for Yuri's favourite plonk and Brokenwood for my childhood memories of weekend stays with working bees, labelling, boxing, cleaning, etc.). From there we drove to Mum's unit in Tuncurry to stay the night. This morning we embarked on the leg to Binna Burra (near Bangalow, not the lodge in Lamington National Park) after a quick turn around the breakwater. We're here a couple of nights followed by three in Noosa. I'll update after that.

4. Our plans for renovation have been in front of council. We're not through yet, but it looks hopeful. After that it will be time to really plan. Neighbours across the road are moving which is sad because they have been so nice to us. Let's hope the new owners will be equally nice. I hope for some friendly pooves but it'll probably attract a young yuppie family with its four bedrooms and backyard pool. Still, any of you well healed lj-ers thinking of moving to Balmain? Come and get this!

5. Cats have been their usual selves, with a rather unfortunate side issue of Dax's GI distress. I have cleaned up rather too many accidents although all have been in litterbox proximity. Unfortunately, the proximity is a bit too far in some cases. Gross. Dax will make a recovery soon - she has had a course of antibiotics and was responding but the tract itself takes a while to settle down. Vets are still waiting for test results on the "specimens". Poor Dax. It's hard to cuddle her when you're afraid of squeezing something unwelcome out.

6. Friendly catchups have been a pretty regular thing. Friday evenings have usually been fun until shortly after dinner at which time we all conk out like boring old men. Aging. It keeps happening. However, a couple of Fridays ago I made a point of taking in the newly reopened Imperial Hotel. I was in the front bar which didn't look that different from it's old self. A bit shinier, less closed off now you can look through a wall (did it have a fish tank? I forget). There was more to it but I didn't see it. A couple of beers, a few songs on the jukebox, a conversation with a young Asian guy who (wrongly) though he might get lucky. One or two familiar faces spotted. No desire to look downstairs or in the back bar with the shows. Maybe that's where all the changes have been made?

7. It's my birthday soon so start saving now.

(no subject)

Too much guilt over my Lj languishing patiently. When do people return from the glitter and shallowness of Facebook? Why has lj been forsaken?


I'm going for an ultrasound on Thursday. No, I'm not pregnant. We're just trying to see if there are gallstones. The pain situation has been rather nasty these last two weeks. Heart problems are not on the table, nor (it seems) are reflux problems. Pushing the area got the required "ow" from me, so the doctor mentioned gallstones as the most likely thing.

Woo hoo.

Back from the trip

I got back from my San Francisco "Google App Engine / Gay Pride" trip yesterday morning. Firstly, apologies to everyone I failed to see when there. Social opportunities were always pretty minimal outside my work agenda this time. I was lucky enough to run into a few of you and I promise next trip I'll budget some proper social time. The second thing, I was staying nearer my old neighbourhood with some generous friends who gave me their guest room for the week, saving me from having to take a hotel room downtown. I wasn't able to get into Parker Guest House which has been my usual for the last few trips. They were full when I tried to book (the last minute), which was understandable.

Anyway, it was a quickie week, working in Google's SF offices, then down to Mountain View to meet developers using Google App Engine. The bigger deal for me was marching in SF Pride for the first time! Hooray! Two hundred and fifty Gayglers and I assembled on Beale St and waited hours and hours for the parade to begin.

I was pretty damn tired for the parade and here's why.

Pink Saturday Bummer

Of course I wanted to look at Pink Saturday's Castro party. It's always been a pretty happy and very gay crowd when I've been before. Steven and David (my hosts) and I took Muni to Castro before emerging at street level.

This time the vibe was just wrong. The energy was pretty excited but who the hell was there? It looked like a lot of drunk college kids on Spring Break, a lot of Halloween gawkers up around Market and Castro. Further down Castro toward 18th looked more like the usual Pride crowd. You know, the Gays, the Dykes, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the communities by and for whom Pride was created. There were no drinks to be had on the street, a change from the previous time I went (about 2006). Lots of people had them anyway, so I assume you could get a drink in a plastic cup from a bar and walk outside with it.

There was no getting into a bar in less than an hour with the crowd so thick. We threaded our way past the Midnight Sun toward 18th and Noe where we exited the barricades. We headed for the Pilsner and had a couple of beers in the back yard. It was definitely decompress time. That was enough for Steven and David. They went home and I decided to take in Eros. As I figured, it was busy and I stayed "busy" with a few nice gents for an hour.

So now it was about 12:40 and Muni had just closed. No problem, I could always go up to 17th and Market and get a cab when the steets reopen. But what was this police tape blocking Market St at Noe? Stern cops were telling us we had to take a detour around it. I headed for 18th thinking I could slake my thirst and bide my time. (The steam room is quite dehydrating. Who knew?) A short while longer and the streets would be open and I could get a cab home.

Except there was now a line of baton wielding cops clearing 18th St including the sidewalks. I overheard some younger women talking about a shooting, and now I was sure it must have been tonight and not some other street party. There was no choice but to divert to 19th street to try and get out of the Castro. I wished I had gone right instead of left at Noe previously. I was in no mood to try and retrace my steps. I already spent energy going uphill and decided to maintain the high road, all the way up to Market St. OMG the steepness. Up and up winding toward Twin Peaks and still no cabs in sight. Finally an hour and a half after leaving Eros there was a vacant cab coming the other way. I crossed Portola and flagged it down.

The driver confirmed the shooting to me. He had taken passengers to the hospital, friends of some of the injured.

WTF, people? First Halloween ruined by gangbangers and now this?

Give me back the overtly, scarily sexual Pink Saturday. Exhibitionists masturbating in windows above the crowd on Castro St, sluts doing it up on top of bus shelters in front of appreciative (and often uncomfortable) audiences. It might have been distasteful to some of the gays, a "bad example". But would gangbangers ever be found in a place like that? Do the East Bay radio stations hype it as a great place to party? No. Do we get crowds of kids completely unconnected with the LGBT communities swarming in and falling down drunk by 7 p.m.?

When was the last time you heard of gay guys settling scores with guns? In a crowd? When gay guys want to get back at each other they bitch each other out, or sleep with each other's boyfriends. They don't fire into a crowd that might contain a future Mr Right. Who the hell is armed? Territoriality and trying to prove that we're big scary men is utterly useless to us. We already said we're a bunch of fags. We are the people that the straight thugs are trying to prove they're not.

If the price of dismantling homophobia is to invite thugs into our parties, I say keep a little homophobia around. Let them be afraid of our cock sucking and ass fucking. It might be "antisocial". That's a matter of opinion. Public sexuality in an adults only street party strikes me as plenty social. Use it to keep the thugs away.

I'm not just complaining that my night was ruined. One man ended up dead. Several others were injured. I got home very late and very tired. I'll take a lot of convincing that Pink Saturday should continue.