Shiki No Uta: Another year ends

The sun’s retired for the evening, put an end to heat and perspiration,
In the midst of all the smoke another year drawing to a close,
Another decade, too, color me mind-blown,
Standing outside, lapping up the cool breeze like an explorer awaiting daylight,
Deep in thought underneath the moonlight,
Seemed like only yesterday that it was January,
The past ten years still fresh as a daisy in this treasure trove of memories,
Time moves at warp speed, faster than Justin Gatlin when he was juicing,
If life’s a speeding car then Schumacher’s the one driving,
Took a seat under the verandah, like Marcus Aurelius I’m meditating,
On what’s changed and what’s remained constant since twenty-eleven,
Began aged mid-twenties, leaving it on the cusp of mid-thirties,
Metamorphosed from angst-ridden insecurities to wisdom and maturity,
Heavy duty thoughts swirlin’, thank goodness for these soothing beats,
Got Shiki No Uta pumpin’ as the reflection goes deep,
The clock ticks on, got me musing on the concept of time,
Can’t reclaim it when it’s gone, there’s no reset or rewind,
Finally opened the gates to this citadel, they’ve been closed for a good while,
Welcomed some new peeps into this life, others were sadly left behind,
Ain’t nobody’s fault, everyone got their own road, not all will stay for the long haul,
Can’t place expectations on anything or anyone, enjoy ‘em as long as they’re around,
Can’t cry over what’s been had and lost, life only moves forward,
Change is inevitable, some less comfortable than others,
This ten-year gauntlet brought about a variety of experiences,
Took up wing chun, mind and body scrambled at first,
Eight years on I’m still lovin’ it, while forming special bonds with fellow teachers and students,
Saw parts of the world, from the US to Japan and NZ, also reacquainted with my homeland,
Re-learned my mother language, perfection can wait but continuing to make improvements,
Even the working out’s changed, I ain’t immune to the ravages of time,
This vessel carries the scars from countless voyages in the high tide,
Gotta tone down the bluster and flash, that’s a young man’s game,
All about maintenance and strength, keep the body tight well into old age,
A long-time gig in Penrith came to a halt, ten years was long enough,
Had to leave the shores of familiarity, I guess, can’t grow without a little adversity,
Can’t forget the horrors of twenty-eighteen, mind, body and soul were tested,
First-time experiences of the hospital kind, guess I couldn’t duck and dodge ‘em,
Can’t say that I enjoyed it, but I can smile at the memory,
Proved that I had it in me, to go to war and come out with the victory,
Won’t always be a smooth ride, mishaps are part of the journey,
Some of my own making, we humans are extremely flawed beings,
Can knock you down or be your best teacher, gotta treat it like the latter,
The great ones always learned from mistakes and failures,
Time remains undefeated, can’t out-swim a white pointer,
Gotta ask myself what I want ‘fore facing off with the reaper,
‘What will be your legacy? Hate it or love it that shit matters,’
‘You can be defiant but can’t live life as an island,’
‘Someone’s bound to remember you as long as you’d existed,’
‘Find your purpose and pursue it, fuck the haters and doubters,
‘Forget about opinions, everybody’s got ‘em,
It’s your life, Bruh, chase the dream as long as you ain’t violatin’ or killin’,
Small steps every day, no matter how long it takes,
Walk alone if need be, if it matters you’ll always find a way,
This inner voice reverberates, the moon’s bloomin’ unabated,
Tomorrow’s a new day, year and decade, a hat trick of clean slates,
Drawing up a list of goals for the following year,
Make the most of it, got nothing to lose or fear,
No temporary fix, gotta contribute to the future and test the character,
Something to take along the journey ‘til the casket’s six-feet under,
Headed back indoors, the wind’s getting chilly,
Not long now before we ring in 2020,
Bring on the new chapter, time to spread these wings,
Fly high, Soldier, a new dawn begins!

Rainbow: First Blood

New Year’s up and runnin’, sun turned this land into a furnace,
The heat continue slayin’, under the shade still feel like I’m fryin’,
Another meeting with the doc looms large, pleased to have come this far,  Another milestone could be ‘round the corner,
Hoping to be off these meds sooner rather than later.

Warning: This post contains some shitty references and stronger-than-usual coarse language


The Christmas ornaments were eventually boxed up and stored once more and the New Year festivities drew to a close. Much of the early days of the year were spent sweating like a pig, painting the ceilings of the living room and kitchen and celebrating my father’s birthday – in that order although the sweating was a never-ending cycle rather than an isolated activity. January was the peak of the Australian summer and boy, did it deliver. Painting the ceiling in that heat and humidity was a trip, I found myself having to constantly wipe my forehead and eyes in between coating the ceiling with fresh paint. I also took quick breaks once in a while to allow my neck to relax as staring upwards for long periods of time could lead to some rather gnarly head and neck pain and I can only imagine how Michaelangelo must’ve felt while painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The project took up almost the entire day, beginning with collecting the paint and necessary equipment from the tool shed in the backyard, moving the furniture around, laying down the drop sheets, mixing the paint, carrying out the project and then finally re-arranging and packing everything away hours later. Strategically laying down those drop sheets in order to spare the wooden floor below from any drops of paint in addition to moving and covering furniture was probably the most excruciating aspect of the task at hand. Every inch of that dark brown wooden floor had to be protected from any drop of that white ceiling paint as my mother would have blown a gasket if any drops made contact with that wood.
But in the end, the sweat and sore neck, shoulders and back were worth it as the ceiling shone a nice, bright white as though brand new once more. It was a day well spent.
Aside from sweating like a child nervously waiting to confess their sins to their parents and giving the ceiling a much-needed make-over, the family and I also celebrated my father’s birthday. A naturally laid-back man, he was content to spend the day with the family for a rather hearty pizza party at my sister’s apartment rather than go buck wild and paint the city red, not that he was ever the party like a rock star type in his youth. Mind you, Dominos and Pizza Hut didn’t get a cent from us as my awesome and amazing sister made two different pizzas from scratch and we as a family damn near ate ourselves into food coma for the next few hours. We spent the entire afternoon in one space but it was time well spent.

It was back to business a week later, though.

Once the sixteenth of January rolled around it was back to the matter of my health and ongoing recovery from Ulcerative Colitis. I had a meeting with Dr. B scheduled for the following week and he had requested that I submit a stool sample and undergo another blood test one week prior in order to get a better idea of the state of my health and bowel functions. The significance of this meeting could not be understated – positive results could see a further reduction in my Imuran and Mezavant dosages and my birthday was also during the following week so I was looking forward to an early birthday gift from one of the good doctors that had played a major role in helping me conquer this damn disease.
But first, I had some shit to attend to, literally, as well as another pesky needle in the arm to endure.
And so on the morning of the sixteenth, following another trip to that porcelain throne, I donned on a disposable glove, took a deep breath and…….yeah, I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that I went mining for gold and came away with a decent-sized nugget that I placed in the small container provided to me by the pathology clinic located close to home.

For the record there was no blood or abnormalities so eureka for me! Not that I ran down the streets naked to announce the good news like Archimedes did.

My father and I drove to the pathology clinic that was located inside a small shopping center not far from home at around mid-morning. I submitted the container that held the stool sample to one of the receptionists, who in turn took it to the appropriate lab, and my father and I then took our seats in the waiting area, accompanied by a decent number of patients who were intermittently watching the morning news on a television screen behind the front desk. The sweet smell of coffee and donuts wafted through the automatic doors whenever a patient walked in or out due to a small Donut King stand situated not far from the clinic.
I was called in by a nurse after a fifteen minute wait and took a big drink of water before following her into one of the clinics, a rather tight space that, once the doors were closed, would have made a claustrophobic feel uneasy. I took a seat and answered a few questions regarding my contact, address and medical details before the nurse asked me to present my left arm, on which she strapped a tight clamp to raise a vein on the crook of my left elbow. She disappeared into another room for a while before returning with the needle plus a few tubes to place blood samples in.

Oh boy, here we go…….

I braced myself and gritted my teeth as she drove that needle through my arm and drew a few tubes’ worth of blood before placing a band aid over the wound. The nurse neatly packed the tubes away before giving me the green light to leave.
“No strenuous activity for at least two hours,” she instructed, “especially with that left arm.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I nodded, “all good.”
“Have a lovely day.”
“You too. Thanks.”
And that was that. Another jab done, another load of crap submitted. Recovery and monitoring life is fun, ain’t it?

I’d also kept up the blogging throughout this time, still recounting the trials and tribulations of 2018 in addition to churning out stories and poems based on random anecdotes from my childhood and past experiences and some that I conjured up from my imagination. I have a rather good memory when it comes to occurrences in my lifetime and while I can’t say that I lived a life that rivaled that of Forrest Gump’s there were more than a few interesting stories in that enormous storehouse to tell. I had a rather good momentum going, writing whenever I could spare at least half an hour in a day and posting at least one entry per week and giving readers a glimpse of what I can do with words although recalling some of the more brutal months of the year 2018 still made me shudder with discomfort and shame. I didn’t mince any words and kept it raw and honest as I wanted my posts unfiltered and to come straight from the heart.  

One day as I was writing, something within me began to stir. No, it wasn’t a need to rush to the can, rather, it was old, familiar feelings that I hadn’t been acquainted with for more than ten years. You see, I had set my sights on becoming a writer of some degree sometime towards the end of high school, mainly because English and writing were my strongest suits in school and I’d always been told that I was a rather good storyteller, plus I enjoyed putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and allowing my imagination to run wild like streakers on the football pitch prior to being apprehended by the long-suffering security team. I’d written several poems when I was younger for fun, but also as a means to combat anxiety, depression and other ill-feelings, and along the way I also decided to write some stories that I contemplated turning into books one day but none of these projects took off as I was crippled by both fear and a slacker’s lack of drive and no one was willing to slap me across the head and tell me to quit fucking around and focus. I was also my own harshest critic and would pack it in whenever I found myself trapped in that desolate place known as ‘Writer’s Block’ and would give up far too easily if a particular story seemed to be heading nowhere rather than gut it out and make adjustments. I was a different beast back then, an insecure little wuss with a chip on his shoulder, a stark contrast to the determined fighter that stared colitis in the face, flipped the bird at it then kicked its ass and was once also voted by the Wing Chun Academy as its Instructor Of The Year.
Anyway, as I typed out the colitis stories a voice in my mind wondered if maybe I could rekindle the whole ‘I wanna be a writer’ thing and turn this tale into a book.

Holy crap, did you just go there!?

I had to laugh. Even this older, wiser version of myself dismissed the idea as a pipedream. Me? A published author? Yeah, good one, dude!
But what if you succeed?
Well, there was food for thought. I wouldn’t know unless I tried, right? A cacophony slogans and clichés instantly ran rings around my mind.
Give it a try; go hard or go home; be brave and be strong; live with no regrets; it’s now or never; go out in a blaze of glory…….’
Yadda yadda yadda and all that jazz.
And let’s not forget the ol’ Bruce Lee quote, ‘Don’t fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.’

The more I thought about it the more it seemed to light a fire in my belly. Shit, right then and there I felt that I could run up and down Kilimanjaro without a break before circumnavigating the globe on a paddle board! But every yin has a yang and voices of doubt suddenly began to speak up, going toe to toe with that inner drill sergeant that had pushed me to fight on during times of strife. Anxiety kicked into overdrive and I felt as though I had regressed back to being that fucking kid again, the one who was bullied almost every day of his life in school and made to believe that he was a nobody.

Go ahead and try, Chump. They’ll all laugh and boo at you and you’ll crawl into a cave and suffer until the day you die. No one will look for you or miss you, and it’ll be archaeologists, not your loved ones, who will eventually discover your rotted corpse, still sitting balled up in a corner with his face in his hands like the motherfucking loser that you were.

Brutal, ain’t it. The mind can be our own worst enemies sometimes but it can also be our greatest strength. Amongst those voices of doubt, my inner drill sergeant was fighting his way through to gain my attention and once he got it, he immediately and aggressively slammed in his two cents like the would-be victor of a dice game throwing out their winning hand.

Where your balls at, Fool!? Didn’t you learn anything from your past? You kicked severe pancolitis in the ass in the space of a few months, the Wing Chun Academy voted you Instructor Of The Year a couple’a years ago and you’ve lived to tell the tale of every shitty day that you’ve had since you was a little kid, even the darkest ones that should have broken you, so why you still selling yourself short!? Don’t you fucking tell me that you’re scared shitless of daring to pursue your dream! You’ll kick yourself for the rest of your life if you don’t try and you’ll be letting those jerks that picked on you a long time ago win. You bitch-made motherfucker, listen to that Nike slogan and JUST DO IT!!!!

Domino, motherfuckers! Man, if that drill sergeant was a living, breathing person I’d imagine that he’d look and sound exactly like B.A. Baracus from The A-Team. I wasn’t about to disrespect a direct order like that and as I wrote and posted one blog after another I began to listen more to that drill sergeant’s profanity-laden pep talk. Turning my story into a book did seem like a rather wild idea for now but it wasn’t totally impossible. I didn’t even care if it garnered bad reviews, if it didn’t become a top 10 best-seller or if readers decided to mock me for my symptoms rather than learn something while being entertained. I’d been called plenty of nasty names and was on the wrong end of many insults and taunts in my youth so no amount of shit-talking and harsh feedback really fazes me anymore. I just wanted to get my work out there and fulfill that goal. It didn’t matter when and how long it took, I just wanted it done before they bury my ass in the dirt or scatter my ashes. I had all the motivation in the world to do it – I felt as though not enough people knew about this disease and there is presently no real cure for it, maybe I could make a difference by telling my story. Thinking about it conjured up that ol’ quote from Tupac Shakur;

“I’m not saying that I will change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”

No, I’m not suggesting that anything I write will alter the course of human history but maybe retelling my battle in raw, no-holds-barred form could spark the minds that will set about putting this disease to justice once and for all and save many bowels and anxiety-riddled minds everywhere. At the very least, it was worth a shot.

Without Me: Hard Call

Driving down the highway, all by his lonesome,
Silver steed shootin’ straight like a laser beam, no explosion,
Admiring the ever-changing scenery, mountains, fields and trees,
Tempted to pull over and capture it, this shit’s Instagram-worthy,
Got Without Me soaring from the radio,
Not the Eminem song but the one by Mac Demarco,
The serenity washes over, got him thinkin’ ‘bout her,
How life’s been treatin’ her, been two years since he’d seen her,
Funny how life works, ain’t no guarantees,
Can’t take nothing for granted, regret’s one vindictive seed,
People included, even the tightest bonds aren’t immune,
Best friends become strangers, ‘together forever’ seems like empty platitudes,
Some folks gotta learn the hard way, been an interesting few years,
How’d it come to this? They were thick as thieves.

‘Twas at a crossing on the way to the train station, complete strangers that got to talking,
Two lone wolves headed down the same way, it was a welcome change, alleviated the work-induced headaches,
Parted ways through different trains, that was the end of that,
Fate thought otherwise, built up something ‘fore knocking it down flat,
Reunited not long after, they might as well had been stalking,
Same way, same place, didn’t see this Groundhog Day thing coming,
Decided to hang for a while, long days can work up an appetite,
Shared a meal, nothing special, just two friends grabbin’ a bite,
Must’ve looked like something more, had onlookers clutching at straws,
Opposite genders can hang platonically, sorry for the spoiler, y’all,
Called it a night after an hour and a half, walked to the station once more,
And just like that, a new friendship was born.

That’s the way it went, nothing more nothing less,
Don’t get y’all’s hopes up, they ain’t anything but friends,
So it seemed before things started to feel differently,
Might as well had heard that little jingle from Love Actually
So much for keeping it platonic, this couldn’t be happening,
It’s the end of the friendship if it ain’t reciprocated,
Sure looked that way, she wasn’t having none,
Good luck scaling that wall, must’ve been funded by Trump,
And so it went, two years riding that fucking carousel,
Round and round it goes, got him feeling sorry for himself,
Donned the mask daily, hiding his true feelings daily,
She ain’t playin’, in the Friendzone he will stay,
That cold and brutal, barren place,
Fake-smiling and feigning neutrality, ‘twas an incel’s nightmare come to life,
Cursing fate for its cruelty, didn’t ask for all this pain and strife.

Two years spent playing a role to which he was resigned,
Beginning each day thinking of her with a sigh,
Eyeing a promotion that will never happen, it’s lonely when feelings remain unrequited,
Life ain’t easy in the Zone but there was a welcome reprieve,
Work and life got them separated, allowing a recharge however brief,
Chopped it up, still, whenever possible,
Difficult proposition with the different time zones,
He finally got over her, that was a relief,
The burden’s lifted, it was the sweetest kind of freedom.

But it couldn’t last, wasn’t long before they were reunited,
Picked up where they left off, forbidden feelings rekindled,
Once again on that sick cycle carousel, Jason Wade sang about this shit,
Crushing on her once more, she remains painfully indifferent,
Sick of living a lie, of feeling torn up inside,
Gotta come clean, though it could blow the friendship to smithereens,
Couldn’t see her in person so planned the next best thing,
Gonna do it by phone, soldiering on reluctantly,
Called her that night, D-day began with chatter and laughter,
‘Twas like old times, past two years had been like no other,
Time to get serious now, will the union come undone?
Got kinda emotional, no lie, now it’s out in the open,
Told her the truth, no bullshit, just like peeling off a band-aid,
She remained composed, thankfully handled it with grace,
She didn’t reciprocate, but promised that they’d stay friends,
It was too good to be true, it was the beginning of the end.

Continued to talk periodically, hangouts ended effective immediately,
Takes two to keep the ship afloat but one half’s bailin’ on the lifeboat,
Maybe she’d moved on, had she found someone else?
‘Fine by me,’ says he, wished her nothing but happiness,
Can’t keep what ain’t truly yours, might as well let her go,
Hurts like fuck but time heals open sores,
Slowly drifting apart now, sailing off to different straits,
No parting words or tearful goodbyes, maybe this was fate.

Back on the freeway, headlights on as the sun starts fading,
Two years now since they’d drifted, five since the first meeting,
Will they cross paths again? Maybe if pigs start flying,
You’d played your roles well but that chapter’s done and dusted,
Smile at the memories, look back with fondness and nostalgia,
But don’t flog a dead horse forever, living backwards can’t be good for ya,
Drive on, young man, the future’s still bright,
You’re still breathing, still living, still driving, you’re still very much alive.