Fairytale Of New York: Happy New Year

Happy New Year, time to kick it into gear,
Leaving the horrors of 2018, a new adventure begins,
May this be one of good health and prosperity,
Confident in the knowledge I can overcome adversity.


Because the Christmas period was spent at my aunt and uncle’s house and then my sister’s apartment it only made sense that the responsibility of entertaining the family during the first day of 2019 would fall to us, a passing of the torch if you will. The sun had decided to unleash its wrath upon the land on the first day of the year and the temperature outside soared to levels that would could allow one to fry an egg on the sidewalk and maybe some bacon on the side while they’re at it. Summer was well and truly at its peak and I can only imagine how crowded the beaches would have been.
We were happy to take on the role as hosts but there was a catch. The air conditioning in the main house, now almost twenty years deep on the job, had all but decided to pack it in. Different parts of the house would remain warm and stuffy while the living room, where the air con was situated, would be the only area that would adequately feel that precious cool and even then it didn’t feel like anything full-strength.

Should have replaced that thing months ago.

In our defense it functioned well enough months prior but then that damn contraption decided to rebel against us once summer had arrived of all times, like a long-suffering employee that had once again been denied a pay rise.
Is that impeccable timing or what?
We knew that keeping the celebrations in that steam bath of a main house would have been tantamount to insanity and so we assigned the living-slash-dining room area of the granny flat in the backyard as the main gathering area as the air conditioner there was in good working order. It was a shoe box compared to the main house and much of that box was overtaken by a wide dining table and a massive couch in the corner that covered almost a quarter of the room but it was still an ideal setting for a rather small gathering, we weren’t exactly catering to the entire suburb.

My parents, sister and I prepped up that granny flat, tidying up, setting the table and bringing meals from the kitchen of the main house. My aunt and uncle arrived shortly before lunchtime and just as it was during Christmas at their home and Boxing Day at my sister’s apartment, we spent the day indoors chatting about a range of subjects over food and drink, mostly picking up where we left off from during those two days. We also heard from relatives that lived interstate, and once again we texted them some photos of the meals that we were enjoying to show them what they were missing out on. The massive couch in that room also unfolded into a bed and we unrolled it for the day, allowing all but two guests at a time to have a good lie down while conversing. Several people took turns napping throughout the day but I never got to have a turn on that couch since I was the primary caretaker of that granny flat and so was automatically assigned the duty of host and the host never sleeps. It wasn’t a role that completely suited me as I was far from being your usual talkative, do-the-rounds-type of host and mostly faded in the background.

I also retreated into my room once in a while for some ‘me time’ and read a few pages of Days That Changed The World. After five days I was close to the very last chapter that looked at the September 11 attacks and it was quite an incredible journey that this book took me through over these past few days, witnessing the rise and falls of ancient empires, the impact of the migration and settlements and the conflicts and ideas that brought out the best and worst in people, all of which served as the spark for a chain of events that shaped the world as it is today.
Kinda makes you wonder what could have been had some, if not all, of those events had never happened. Would life, as we know it, have ended up better or worse.
It was the same type of experience during my recovery in August and September of the previous year with some of the random, mostly historical articles that I read on the internet. That’s the beauty of reading about history, you find yourself thrilled, fascinated, horrified, amused and stupefied by the events in the past that paved the way to the present day. Then there were also some of the notable people that stamped their names in the history books, a collection of heroes, villains, weirdos, geniuses, artists, performers, warriors, inventors, politicians and royalty, some of whom lived lives that sounded too damn strange and disturbing to be real.

Hirō Onoda, I am looking at YOU!

The truly twisted were often at the mercy of their psychological shortcomings, egos and/or some ideal, often flawed, that they embraced wholeheartedly at the expense of their judgment and common sense. They would have easily made some of the nutcases that you hear about in the news today seem normal and tame in comparison. Even the ways that some of these people met their demise would make you cringe. Take a look at the painful, embarrassing and unfortunate way that Arius the Heretic died. As a one-time victim of Ulcerative Colitis reading that shit (no pun intended) gave me the creeps!

My uncle had fallen asleep on that comfy couch when I walked into my room and upon exiting I noticed that my aunt had joined him in Dreamland and so my sister and parents were left to continue the conversation. My parents were seated on a dining chair each, their backs to the table, while my sister sat on the couch, looking as though she would gladly doze off, too, if given permission to do so. That sure is one comfy couch, yet somehow I never feel drowsy whenever I’m sitting or lying on it. Whether I was immune to that couch’s comforting touch or was simply too hyperactive and anxious to fall for its charms is something that I haven’t quite figured out yet.
The sun was still shining bright at around 4pm and it was my mother’s turn to fall asleep on that couch. She was mostly running on fumes throughout the day, having stayed up past midnight the previous night, so that rest was well deserved. My aunt and sister stayed indoors enjoying the artificial cool from the air conditioner while my father and uncle converged outside to admire the plants and trees in the backyard. The afternoon sky had kicked in and the sun’s rays mixed with the damaging smog spawned by passing cars’ fumes to render the sky a light shade of pink. Thank goodness we had one working air conditioner, it was still tropical weather-warm outside and the air inside the main house was so thick with heat that it might as well had been one massive sauna

No need to go to Iceland for a good spa session, the main house’ll do.

I spent most of the afternoon outside with Pops and Unc but once in a while, I retreated to the comfort of the air conditioned granny flat. I even entered the main house at times to see if it had cooled down in there, which I knew was unlikely, but I did like the change in scenery so to speak. I also took some time in the main house to have a light meal between lunch and dinner, so lost were my family members in their respective conversations that they had left some of the food in the house unattended and so yours truly took full advantage like Garfield going for Jon’s unguarded dinner.

Meh, it’s still the holiday period. Let’s continue to eat, drink and be merry!

My aunt and uncle both headed home at around five in the afternoon and that left my family and I to a family dinner an hour later before my father and I drove my sister back to her apartment and then calling it a night. It was a nice way to spend the first day of the year and I looked forward to bringing Dr. B some more good news a few weeks later during our next meeting. My birthday was also up for the end of the month and so I hoped that a reduction in my dosages was on the cards as an early birthday gift.
But first, it was time for some rather serious business of a different kind – I’d allowed myself to splurge during this period and so it was time to make up for my ‘transgressions’ through training. My father and I had also agreed to re-paint the ceiling in the main house and so that was something else to take care of. The holiday period had come to an end and it was time to find out what 2019 had in store.

Shadow Of The Day: Reading On The Sly

Read about your story, stumbled upon it when I should’ve been working,Work days drag on and on, like Jack Torrance I’m succumbin’ to madness and boredom,
Surfed the web on the sly, just a short break, not trying to be defiant,
Skimmed through google and YouTube in between dealing with clients,
Read about your plight, I can’t lie, ‘twas a depressing read,
Had your whole life ahead of you but it wasn’t meant to be,
Born into misery, a battler from jump, no time for a childhood,
Momma didn’t care, step-dad was a turd, you did the very best you could,
Took care of your younger siblings ‘cuz the ‘rents wouldn’t do shit,
Shared your life online, provided your audience with a glimpse into your life,
Started a blog, too, airing out feelings you’ve held onto for so long,
Strangers on the ‘Net made you feel like you belonged,
You let them in, openly, shared with them the good, bad and fuckin’ ugly,
Unsure if they were even listenin’ but ‘twas better than keeping it boxed in,
Depression and anxiety, suicidal thoughts, poverty,
Other nasty shit best left unsaid, it was all fucking grubby,
Also shared what was deep in the depths of your heart, you were one of a kind,
Had a lot more to give, crippled by the demons that infected your mind,
Coped with it the only way you could, the blade’s sweet kiss cut deep,
Can only imagine how many nights you’d cried yourself to sleep,
Pain and suffering are poisonous in extra large doses everyone has a breaking point,
Twelve years old you’d seen enough, time to check outta this joint,
Got dressed in your best, even the make-up was sharp,
Like you were headed to a party in those jeans and white top,
No celebrations to be had, ain’t gonna be no happy ending,
Took matters into your own hands and even live-streamed it,
This doll’s irreparably broken, the New Year was two days’ shy,
No turning back now, noose is tied, tears flowed as you uttered your last good-bye,
Fifteen minutes the feed lasted, if only you knew the uproar generated,
No one listened when you were living, hope Mom and Pops get what’s coming to ‘em,
Closed that link, back to work, fuck it, can’t stay focused,
You were just a kid, it shouldn’t have ended like this,
That shit stayed for the rest of the day, like a stubborn stain,
Just won’t let go, rotting within like a fuckin’ plague,
Been almost a year now since you checked outta here,
You would be thirteen, in different circumstances who knows what could have been?
Fly high, little angel, no one can hurt you now,
Hope you’d found peace and happiness, wherever you are,
No more tears and sadness, your abusers are long gone,
It’s a shame you couldn’t be saved, but now you’re free, keep shining on.

Rest In Peace.

All The Stars: The Last Few Days

The end is nigh, time to leave this year behind,
For the first time, had to battle for my life, glad to leave it on a high,
Taking it easy for the last day, no FOMO for yours truly,
All due respect to the masses going out to celebrate and party,
Taking the lessons learned for future battles that lie ahead,
Gonna be a long life, hopefully, gotta stay prepared.


The year 2018 was soon down to those final five days of the year, long-considered a limbo of sorts that connected the Christmas Season to the New Year period where it was very easy to lose track of the time and date. For some people these last few days were spent on a much-needed holiday that probably started during the Christmas period. Others might take time to reflect on the year that was and come up with resolutions for the next year. Some might try to mend some fences and get their affairs in order so they can enter the new year on a clean slate. Others might finally start on some long-overdue projects around the house that had been put on hold for longer than the cold war due to the demands of work and home life (and, possibly, also due to lack of motivation to just start). Whichever way they went, one thing was for certain; damn near everyone on the planet would be gearing up for New Year’s Eve, planning the mother of all blowouts that would reach its zenith when the clock struck midnight to leave 2018 behind, guns blazing, and enter 2019 with an almighty bang.

Well, having already done the holiday thing a few weeks ago, for my household it was mostly about cleaning up and fixing things around the home. In addition to repainting the ceiling and tending to the gardens, the wardrobe in my old room in the main house had long been one big disorganized mess, as it is with most wardrobes that last from an individual’s childhood up until the day that they move out. I’d taken my clothes with me but left the other crap stored in there and no one bothered to get rid of them, much to my relief as I wasn’t too keen on disposing of any of those items just yet. But a clean-up was long overdue and so with my mother’s help I finally set about clearing up that cave. My clothes were long gone, now stored in my current wardrobe, but that old space still housed the boxes that contained my old video game consoles, some old toys from childhood that somehow evaded that boxes in the garage, mementos from school and a whole bunch of other random items that could easily have been included in a time capsule for my childhood and adolescent years.

How the hell can such a small space house so much crap!?

As it is with most ‘spring cleaning’ projects I was unenthusiastic in the beginning and it took some effort to rouse my body into action but as my mother and I cleared up the space into something resembling order I warmed up to the task. Digging through those old blasts from the past quickly became a rather fun nostalgia trip as I was quickly reunited with items that I hadn’t seen in more than ten years. Among them was an old pass from a now-defunct amusement park, my old school bus pass, several old wallets that varied in appearance and material depending on which stage of life that I had used them and of course, some of my old, expired school and travel IDs and driver’s licenses, complete with unflattering mug shots. I took one look at them and immediately wondered what the fuck I was thinking in terms of what I was wearing and the way my hair was styled in each picture. It’s quite incredible, the powerful effect of old photos from your adolescence and early adulthood. It can touch your heart and make you yearn, through misty eyes, to relive the good ol’ days once more even just for a while, but on the other hand can also make your skin crawl with shame and regret at some of the trends, fads, styles or whatnot that you bought into. Everyone is guilty of it at some point in their lives and I was no different.

Ugh! Burn that shit!

I also discovered what seemed like a mountain of old birthday and Christmas cards that I had kept in some of my drawers throughout the years, all still in their original envelopes and still in great condition, along with some of the school awards that I had earned back in the day. Those little school award cards (yellow ones for good deeds, blue ones for outstanding deeds) were seen as badges of honor for students back in the day and served as fuel for bragging rights but, in reality, they were just pieces of paper with your name on it that expressed how great you were at kissing the teacher’s ass. I sat there for a while perusing through those greeting cards and awards, taking a brief trip through memory lane before soldiering on with the cleaning. It took roughly two hours to clean up that old closet but it turned out to be two-odd hours well-spent and my old closet looked a hell of a lot better, too, for it.

How ‘bout that….this closet has a floor and walls?

I also started reading an old book that I found in my old room during the clean-up that I had received as a Christmas gift a few years ago titled Events That Changed The World. It was quite a fascinating read and included such events in history as The Athenian Navy’s victory over The Persians in The Battle Of Salamis, The Assassination Of Julius Caesar, The Rise and Fall Of Constantinople, The Fall Of The Bastille, The Storming Of The Winter Palace, both World Wars, The Moon Landing, the invention of the telephone and the 9/11 Attacks. That book certainly helped me pass the time as thirty minutes would easily come and go quicker than I could believe after reading just a few chapters! It would be a stretch to say that I am a history buff but I do find reading about moments and stories from history, particularly the macabre, the twisted and the downright unbelievable and hilarious, a rather soothing and fascinating experience. I’d done plenty of reading during the thick of my recovery, exploring the classic novels that my father collected over the years in addition to the random articles on the Internet that I’d stumbled across (the infamous Bone Wars that uncovered the fossils of some of the most iconic dinosaur species in North America from 1877 until 1892 was a rather amusing and interesting read as well as some of the weird and disturbing ways that some historical figures met their ends) and this book that had been collecting dust in my old bookshelf for years quickly became my constant companion during these last few days of the year 2018.

The next day was spent outside washing the family cars, Christina and Sylvia, under the broiling sun. Although I was drenched from the splash back as a result of rinsing the vehicles with the hose on full blast the sun’s intense heat still damn near killed me and I sweated like a blacksmith standing close to a kiln. Having not cleaned the vehicles for quite some time some of the dirt and grime that had accumulated on them were quite difficult to scrub off and at one point I worked so hard at trying to remove a gnarly stain on Christina’s front bumper, scratching away like a stressed cat, that I was almost certain that I’d take the paint off. Thankfully it was nothing but red after I’d burned my forearms silly rubbing off that piece of grime.
I should be more diligent with this shit.
Cleaning up Sylvia also came with its own challenges. She was not quite as big and burly as Christina but what she lacked in length and width, she made up for with height. Being vertically-challenged, trying to scrub Sylvia’s roof tested the endurance in my toes and calf muscles as I was forced to stand on tippy-toes while scrubbing as much of her roof as I could manage. I might as well have been trying to give LeBron James a head massage without asking him to sit down first.

After a few buckets of water, plenty of scrubbing and several sprays of the hose both cars shone brightly like diamonds under the sun in bright red and silver, respectively, burning holes into both of my eyes whenever I made direct eye contact with them, Christina in particular. Maintaining eye contact with that shiny red for more than a few seconds would have come at the cost of one’s eyesight, like Christina had suddenly become Chernobyl’s infamous Elephant Foot for the eyes.

My sister dropped by on the afternoon of New Years’ Eve and we as a family spent the last day of the year together. Earlier during the day, I took some time to reflect on my run through the twelve-month gauntlet of first-time experiences that I didn’t quite sign up for, which was the best way I could sum up the year that was 2018. I paced around the backyard as I meditated, admiring the various plants that my parents and I tended to every weekend, looking back on how I started the year in great shape and good health before being ambushed by a serious disease that I had no idea even existed and then bouncing back again. It was certainly a year of firsts from a health standpoint, for the first time I’d experienced being a hospital patient, I’d undergone a blood transfusion and colonoscopy and was then forced to play the extended role of a recovering patient on medication.

Quite the odyssey, huh? I might as well change my name to Homer.

I lived my entire life believing that I didn’t need to experience any of that until I was at least middle-aged.
But deep down I knew why I had to go through it.
As the cliché goes, life is full of surprises and challenges and sooner or later we will all be severely tested. When I look at my life I can’t say that I faced any serious hardships. I wasn’t born into extreme poverty, never had to fight for survival on mean streets, I grew up in a stable home and never battled substance abuse or any life-threatening health conditions. Prior to this year my hardest personal battle was putting up with bullies in high school and as downright sucky as that experience was, it was a picnic compared to some of the shit that others go through. It’s not like those jerks left me scarred for life or anything of the sort.
I guess life saw it fit to throw colitis my way to truly test my mettle and in doing so attacked an aspect of my life that I thought I had completely figured out – my health and well-being. Not only were my mental and physical strength tested but this year also forced me to re-evaluate the way I lived, ate, slept and trained, which I walked around for years believing were pretty close to spot-on.

You know, this humble pie tastes really good. Put some crow on it.

But despite being humbled, it was an empowering feeling to know that I had it in me to fight back rather than lay down when life decides to derail the train and that I had passed that fucking test before the year was out with flying colors, staying cool and calm during the heat of battle though there were definitely some bad days.
Not bad, eh?
We had dinner as a family before taking it easy for the rest of the evening, preferring to stay home and eventually tuning in to catch the midnight fireworks on TV. We had gone to watch it live in the city many years ago and while having a ringside seat to the show was an exhilarating experience, dealing with crowds before, during and after was not, especially during the home commute where the train station almost resembled a bomb shelter housing the population of an entire small city while inside the trains, passengers were crammed into carriages like sardines in a tin. Still, it was another tick off the bucket list and we could say that we did it but, yeah, staying home turned out to be a far more appealing option.

As the last few minutes of 2018 ticked by I paced back and forth around the living room while my parents watched the live TV coverage of the New Year’s Eve party on Sydney Harbor, my way of trying to stay awake as drowsiness began to creep up on me. I didn’t need to think long and hard about any New Years’ Resolutions, I simply resolved to continue living healthily, stressing less and of course, to keep the colitis dead and buried forever.  
They will probably be my resolutions for every year from here on out.
Not really resolutions, more like lifestyle choices.
A few minutes later, we bade farewell to the year 2018, warts and all, at the stroke of midnight and for the next fifteen minutes watched the fireworks on TV light up the sky above The Harbor, accompanied by a soundtrack of some of the musical hits from the year that included the song from the Black Panther soundtrack that inspired this particular blog post.

I headed to bed afterwards with a clear mind and looked forward to what 2019 had to offer. I’d like to think that I took the lessons learned from 2018 to heart and was hopeful that 2019 would be a glorious year. A new year meant new opportunities and a clean slate so I was keen to see what it had in store.

I’m ready, let’s go!