Thursday, 30 August 2007

As the dove flies over, the cricket will come to nest

Madame2Bar: Are you still worrying about surgery?

2BarRiff: Yes.

Madame2Bar (Starts massaging 2BarRiffs shoulders): I wish I could say something to make you feel better.

2BarRiff: You don't need to feel that you have to say something to make me feel better.

Madame2Bar: I don't have to say anything. I want to make you feel better, to comfort you with an inspirational saying like:

"As the dove flies over, the cricket will come to nest"

2BarRiff (in a menacing tone after picking up hard object): Run.

Playing the Changes

I've had some good/bad news recently.

To background, I've played guitar (and other instruments) on and off for about 25 years. Over the last 4 years, my left (fretting) hand and arm have felt, well, weird. It wasn't pain, exactly, but it was discomfort. I found that, by the end of a session, my left hand was so weak it could barely grip. Lately it's been in the middle of a song with too many bar chords that my hand has started cramping, because I've been overcompensating with my thumb to both push the strings down and to actually hold my hand up to the level of the neck.

About 18 months ago I finally saw my doctor about it, after some initial dabbling in physiotherapy, and he referred me on to a sports injury specialist. Over the last year or so I've been through a combination of physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation therapy and lots and lots of scans. To the point where I finally cracked and said that I am willing to consider surgical options because nothing else is working.

Monday saw me go in for a pressure test on my left forearm and the results indicated that I do, indeed, need surgery. (I'm not detailing the type of problem or surgery as it's not exactly common and don't want this site to show up in searches for it - email me for the gory details).

And that's the good news - after 4 years or so, I now know what the problem is and there is a treatment for it.

The bad news is that I've had to make one of the biggest decisions of my life and hang up my guitar(s).

This is precautionary as I don't want to get any worse prior to surgery. It's also precautionary in case the result is that, even after surgery, I'm no longer able to play.

In contemplating this, I have been quite sad. See, we usually are defined in 2 ways - external (how others see us) and internal (how we see ourselves). As we try to minimise the influence of the external definition, so we try to grow the internal definition.

My big internal definition is as a musician, even though my career path has lead in other directions. No matter if I've only played for 5 minutes in a week, or 50 hours, I still see myself, in part, as a creative, musical type. Picking up an instrument and bashing out something reasonable is what I do and what I love. And now I face the real prospect of that part of me disappearing.

One of life's lessons is that we need to roll with the changes, but without losing who we are. I guess I have allowed the thing I need to look at changing to be very much part of who I am. And just when I was about to buy a new pedal to add to my collection. Sigh.

Anyway, my list of questions for the pre-surgery consultation so far are:
1. Will the procedure return me to 100% function?
2. If not, will I still be able to play a musical instrument again?
3. What is the post-op recovery time expected to be?
4. Will the scar be sexy?

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Curse you Alice!

In looking back at the last post it has become scarily obvious that I am easily influence.

I have taken it upon myself to read a chapter of 'Alice in Wonderland' to the Princess each night before bed. A dual purpose literacy expanding/father-daughter bonding thing.

What I didn't expect was the verbosity influencing my writing.

Better hold off reading any James Joyce for a while...

Of Wedded Bliss and False Economies

It may come as a shock to the casual reader, but the 2Bar household does have it's fair share of spats and arguments. Not the crockery smashing, pet kicking, punch throwing types of arguments mind you, but there are times when things between Madame2Bar and myself are decidedly frosty.

The cause of the latest dispute? A kettle.

Now, almost everyone can agree that the main cause of dispute between couples is frequency of sex money. When two people have divergent views on what should be spent, and where, arguments will arise because, with money, we are dealing with life at it's most fundamental.

Our very survival in this modern age rests on our ability to earn and our ability to spend. Not only does our ability to earn affect where we live and how often we eat, it is also seen as a cornerstone of social standing. The ability to spend one's money also has an effect on how well we live, plus the appearance of being able to maintain one's budget values our wisdom. We are familiar with terms such as 'miser', 'spendthrift' etc.

Add to this such feelings such as guilt ("It cost how much???") and desire ("We need to get it now!!!") and the mix of outside and inside pressures is heady and dangerous.

To begin the story, then, when the 2BarKettle ceased to work it was obviously time to get a new one. And so Madame2Bar did just that. Eschewing more expensive options and features, opportunity knocked in the form of a grocery store special and a replacement was obtained for just $14. A bargain! Won't 2BarRiff be pleased?

Well, not exactly. See, despite my CPA qualification, I like to think that I also know the value of a dollar and, indeed, the value of value. Purchasing the cheapest does not necessarily work out in the long run. I am often of the opinion that the middle road is best and this holds true for purchasing decisions - balance out the expensive with the cheap and then match the features of the average - my middle of the road philosophy.

Now, as a good husband, I needed to hold my tongue and encourage Madame2Bar's thrift and frugality. As a human being, however, the opportunity to make a point is very, very, VERY hard to resist. And I resisted as long as I could but eventually had to point out that I didn't think the new kettle would last long and the money spent would turn out to be wasted as the $14 would have to be added on to the cost of the new kettle when the old one soon broke down.

Soul crushing it was to Madame2Bar to find out that though she tried to do the 'right thing', it was not right. But not as soul crushing as it was when the 2BarKettle Mk II boiled it's last within a couple of weeks of purchase. And the temptation to make a point, coupled with the temptation to say "I told you so" proved intoxicating and unavoidable. So I had to make the point and tell her so.

And that, dear reader, is when arguments start.

As a mea culpa, I must humbly point out my own failings in this matter, and they are:
1. Madame2Bar was ignorant of my 'middle road' philosophy because I had never told her of it and thus she thought buying the cheapest was something I would approve of;
2. Love conquers all, except when we succumb to the temptation to score points at our partner's expense;
3. Madame2Bar was already feeling down about the expiration of the second 2BarKettle and did not need my added input; and
4. It's only a bloody kettle.

As an act of contrition, we went shopping on my day off and used a gift voucher that I had been saving to purchase the 2BarKettle MkIII. The new kettle is indeed a fair unit, melding increased volume, a hidden element and an extremely comfy grip - long may she serve the 2Bar household and all who sail in her.

New kettle, soothed egos, tears dried, lessons learned. Ahhh, in the words of Uncle Remus, everything is, once again, mighty satisfactual.

Nice Doggy!

The Bomb was staying with Nanny for some babysitting yesterday. While walking to the park two dogs were excited to see them and were barking behind a fence.

Nanny said 'Say hello nicely Bomb'

My son walks up to the fence and says ' Hello Nicely!'

Steps back and looks up at Nanny and says 'How did you know his name is Nicely?'

Just Gorgeous.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

What a week, what a month, what a year ....

Great horny toads, what a week it's been for your humble correspondant. Should I regale you with the details? Why yes, I think I shall.

Sunday Night
8.00pm Resolve to go to bed early due to upcoming big week
12.30am Go to sleep after reading book

6.00am Wake up and get ready for work
7.05am Arrive at work
11.15pm Leave work
11.20pm Home
12.00pm Sleep

6.00am Wake up and get ready for work
7.10am Arrive at work
4.00pm Suddenly realise had offered to help non-for-profit body with some accounting issues tonight. Curse violently for short time.
6.00pm Home for Dinner, read kids story, put to bed
7.00pm Leave for meeting with non-for-profit body
10.45pm Home
12.00am Sleep after reading book

6.00am Wake up and get ready for work
6.50am Arrive at work
5.20pm Leave for massage
7.00pm Stop past home from massage to read kids story, kisses goodnight etc
7.35pm Back at work
12.55am Respond to cajoling from Madame2Bar (via SMS) and security (via fat security gaurd) and prepare to go home
01.10am Back home, go to bed, attempt to fend off Madame2Bar's affectionate advances
01.12am Fail to fend off Madame2Bar's affectionate advances
02.30am Sleep

6.00am Wake up and get ready for work
6.55am Arrive at work
08.30am Head Honchos from Sydney arrive for all day meeting. 2BarRiff is quietly soiling pants
11.00am 2BarRiff finishes introduction. Gets to point of meeting
06.15pm Meeting finishes. Adjourn to restaurant for quiet celebration
06.40pm Pick up new set of glasses on way to restaurant. Looking quite spiffy
07.30pm Restaurant. At table surrounded by foreigners who are far richer than I. Proceed to laugh at stupid jokes and ignore indecipherable accents.
10.30pm SMS Madame2Bar to say on way home and enquire as to her state of dress
10.50pm Arrive home, determine Madame2Bar's state of dress (or lack thereof as it turns out)
12.05pm Fall asleep after, well, ahem ...

05.45am Wake up and get ready to pick up some of the honchos from Sydney for impromptu morning meeting
07.30am Honchos are picked up and meeting has begun
10.45am Honchos depart for airport. 2BarRiff departs for his intray and emails
12.05pm 2BarRiff departs for restaurant as his staff have organised celebratory lunch over good result from Thursday
12.50pm Arrive at lunch. As host am charming, witty & erudite. Would be more so if the employees of a certain local radio station weren't so loud or so close.
02.30pm Pay bill (no tip for you, young waitress, if you continue to forget my drinks), farwell staff, leave for work as meeting scheduled for 4.00 pm
03.05pm Arrive at work, assorted paperwork: legal opinions, tax opinions, Workchoices changes, sign this, that and the other thing etc, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.
04.00pm Arrive in bosses office for meeting. Receive beer. Start drinking
04.05pm Meeting finished. Back to office for more paperwork: budget numbers, KPI review, etc etc etc
04.10pm Tire of effort. Go in search of people to talk to. Find Business Development Manager.
05.20pm 2 beers and half a bag of biltong later, leave for home.
05.30pm Arrive home. Leave for fast food restaurant.
06.15 pm Arrive home. Coherence starts to fade.
08.00 pm Sleep.

06.55 am Awake apparently unmolested.

And, far from being restful, today has been netball, shopping, ice-creams, lunch and quiet time for the kids as I get dinner ready (defrosting chicken for slow cooker) since Madame2Bar is at an all day craft thing and then has a movie tonight. This afternoon will be grocery shopping, refereeing children's fights and some cleaning up around the place. Have scheduled sleepy time for 5 minutes after kids are in bed.

Monday, 20 August 2007

I'm SOOOO excited!

The pool is being installed on the 29th of August!!!! Thats next Wednesday!

When they said the pool would be in before summer I thought maybe end of November beginning of December but not end of August! We only signed up on the 4th of August and here's a list of what I've done so far;

  • Pulled out all the plants I wanted to keep and replanted them in the front garden
  • Organized liquid limestone people to pour limestone once pool is in
  • Pulled out rest of bushes and plants and filled a 9cubic meter skip bin
  • Had Adrian clear all the cooch away and level the backyard
I'm pretty impressed with myself. I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I have. Probably because I have a plan and a goal to work towards as before it was too overwhelming. Didn't know where to start in the garden.

The Princess is even more excited about the pool as I said she could have the day off school to watch the bobcat and crane. Doesn't say much about her enthusiasm for school hey!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Pool Update

I haven't had time of late to write much here and I didn't want to be insensitive to 2Bar as he is having a hard time at the moment. The pool is still going ahead and I have been busily ripping out and replanting our many numerous bushes, agapanthas and shrubs and relocating them to the front yard. I've had ball! As I've said before I'm not much of a gardener but by crikey I've loved every moment of ripping it all out.

Our bobcat operator Adrian (a lovely Irish man) has finished digging out the cooch and leveling the backyard ready for the pool hole to be dug out. Here is what it looks like now.

Just glorious! No grass or bushes just lovely neat dirt! The kids are having a ball. The Bomb thinks it's one lovely big sandpit and The Princess is enjoying getting dirty. Who is that girl???

Have a look at the Ponytail palm that 2Bar and I dug out of the ground. It's beautiful but it was hard work digging and pulling it out! I am told they are very expensive especially at this size so I hope we haven't killed it.

So now the finance has gone through and the backyard is cleared it's just a matter of waiting for the shire to approve our request for the pool, which will take take between 4 to 6 weeks. How many other people are applying for a pool in this shire that it takes so long???? Anyway, then the pool people set an installation date, they inspect the site and confirm where we want the pool to be put. It's so exciting!

2BarRiff notes: Click here to see the 'before' shot.

An Accidental Man - an analysis

Just posting song lyrics is probably the lamest thing a blogger can do outside of cat blogging so I thought I'd pen some, er, thoughts as I seem to be about to liveblog another bout of depression.

This was the first Marillion album I owned, even though it was a remix album, so a little later I bought the original as well.

One of the tracks that didn't get remixed was 'An Accidental Man'. It never really stood out until recently, when I heard the simple, yet effective, riff in iTunes and repeated it about 10 times to catch the lyrics.

The song isn't a 100% representation of me or my depression but it is close. If you changed the phrases 'I was taught' to something like 'I taught myself' then it would probably be more accurate.

Sometimes I do feel like I've fallen into the 'job' of being a man without really wanting it. The demands of the role aren't something that I've ever looked out for but I find myself having to shoulder regardless. Maybe it's a lack of direction or even a lack of adulthood. I guess I just don't feel together in the way I see men like my Dad are together.

My parents, and those of the kids I grew up with, were migrants who came to a new country with very little (including very little English) and so had to carve out new lives in a new land. I think that taking the big step to leave home for a new, strange place helped forge a sense of calling, which helped them through the rough times.

I can't help but think that this calling hasn't rubbed off onto me. And maybe it's helped fuel a sense of directionless that seems to accompany my more depressed moments.

Probably the lyric I most identify with is:

So try and understand if
I don't say all I can
A stranger to myself I am
An accidental man

When I'm struggling with depression I don't tend to say all that much about it. (Fortunately, Madame2Bar can pick up on the moods quite easily because she's quite smart and I'm quite not subtle). I don't like talking about it because I'm not really the communicative type to begin with, let alone trying to analyse complex feelings that relate to parts of me that I don't normally interact with. Sometimes, not being able to talk about it means exactly that - I would if I could, but I can't.

I hate depression for the disconnect and the lost feeling. I hate the way it makes me feel wrong and small and inadequate. I guess I feel like a failed person, someone who has stumbled their way into this life.

An accidental man, indeed.

Here is a a live (bad) Youtube of the song. I was most impressed that, despite my exile from the guitar, I was still able to work out the main riff in my head.

Ewww, video captured on mobile phones at concerts sucks. Here's a copy of Marillion's best known (probably) song Kayleigh so you can see how they sound with better sound.

An Accidental Man

I was taught from the much too young
To never give myself away
I was taught for every secret
Theres a price you have to pay

An accident of gender
An accident of birth
That holds me to this point of view
This time and place on earth
This time and place on earth

You ask me how I'm feeling
I only wish you knew
How hard it is for me to share
Share those kind of things with you

Its not that I don't love you
Its just I cant connect
cause I was taught from much too young
To shine and not reflect

I'm an accidental man

You ask me if I'm happy
I only wish I knew
cause happiness is not something
That I ever learned to do
Its not that I'm complaining
Its all the same to me
If everything that happens, happens Accidentally

I'm an accidental man

I was taught for every secret
There's a price you have to pay
I was taught from much too young
To never give myself away

I was born to worthy causes
I was born to take the reins
I was taught from much too young
To never give myself away

An accident of gender
An accident of birth
That holds me to this point of view
This time and place on earth

So try and understand if
I don't say all I can
A stranger to myself I am
An accidental man

- Marillion

Ooo, it's happening again

It's now past 1.00 a.m. and I'm still awake.

I finished the work I was doing about 20 minutes ago and yet, despite the dry, sore eyes, stiff neck and cloudy head I can't move myself to bed yet.

What's happening again is that I can feel the depression creeping up again. It isn't tiredness but it just hides there. I know if I go to bed I will lie awake pondering things and before you know it, it will be a downward spiral into 'that place' again. At least if I'm here blogging I won't be working up a blue funk while trying to sleep.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

The Toolkit (Part 2)

The first part of this post is here.

4. 2 particular business cards
a. One is for my psychologist. While she isn't on call, she does encourage me to get in contact if things become hard and the next session is too far away. When I was in the deepest part of depression following my breakdown, she called up out of the blue a couple of days after a session, just wanting to make sure I was alright. That was probably the start of me getting better.
b. The other card is for my massage therapist. I have a regular session every 3 weeks but I can sometimes get an appointment at short notice. She is, besides being fantastic at the massage thing, also good at knowing when I want to chat away for the hour or just have a quiet session. I originally started going to sessions due to an arm & shoulder problem but the therapy has also been helpful for my depression - by relieving physical tension it enables me to feel less tense in other areas too.

5. Credit Card. I have a couple of credit cards. One, in particular, gets most of the use for bill paying and car related purchases. Credit cards have been our biggest budgeting issue as a couple and it's only recently that we have been able to control them, and ourselves. I have another one that I never really meant to get, but did anyway many years ago. It's been used for some big purchases in the past - for a brief time I was keeping a company I worked for afloat with it while waiting on some big cheques to clear. This credit card forms part of my toolkit because it enables me to pick up the phone, call Madame2Bar and say 8 magic words: "Pack the bags honey, we're going to Bali".

6. Photos. I have 3 special photos in my wallet. The main one is of the Princess and the Bomb looking all cute and is my display photo. Another is of the Princess when she was probably not even a year old - it's a period of time that neither Madame2Bar or I remember very well as we were too busy coping with PND. The final photo is now 10 years old and was taken at our engagement party, way back when we were young and pretty. I have never been one to keep happy memories, instead I've allowed myself to often become captured by bad memories or over-wrought 'what ifs'. These 3 photos represent images whose happy memories cannot be re-interpreted.

So that's my toolkit. Not very macho - sort of like depression, really - but it really is useful.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The Toolkit (Part 1)

(Note: I'm in 2 minds over this post. While it is true and honest, I can't help thinking it reveals a side of me that is more sooky or soppy than I'd prefer. But, in the spirit of adventurous self discovery let's hoist the mainsail, damn the torpedos, set controls for the heart of the sun and straight on until morning. Or something like that.)

One way that I've found to combat my depression is to have tangible items that I can rely on. See, depression has a way of making you not trust your thoughts. What you believe is true in a normal frame of mind can seem totally not true when you're going through a low point. The stuff in your head just cannot be relied upon. So I look for things that don't give my screwed up mind any chances to second guess them. These things are simple, tactile and portable

In order to have my tangible items on hand, I have constructed a toolkit in which to carry them. This toolkit is also known as a 'wallet'. Here's what's in it:

1. $5 note. This note has a particular purpose. It is there so that, when things get tough, I can go and get some doughnuts - nature's perfect food. Doughnuts always make a person feel better and are thus one of the antidotes to depression. I know, and trust, that the sublime combination of fats and sugars will never, ever treat me bad. In fact, I often think that doughnuts were created just for me, since we are such a good fit.

2. Drawings. I carry a notebook in my pocket when at work. Aside from making me look extremely dorky, it allows me to jot down odd bits of information that I may need later. It is also useful as a way to distract the Princess and the Bomb when waiting for meals to be served (or doughnuts to be bagged). So, of the many masterpieces they have created, I have saved a couple for my toolkit. Being able to see a picture of myself as the Princess sees me is a marvelously objective way to counter the low self view that I sometimes carry.

3. Guitar Pick. This guitar pick (Dean Markley, Bright Yellow, .96mm for the trainspotters) reminds me that I can take an hour off from work, go to a nearby music or second hand shop and bash away on a guitar or two. It also reminds me that I am more than a deskfull of reports and PC full of emails. I have powers beyond mere accounting and deep within my heart lies a powerful combination of creativity, melody and rock 'n roll.

(I've split this post into 2 parts because it looks quite big and I have no idea how to do folds or jumps or whatever they are in Blogger).

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Pool Progress

We thought we'd share a bit on how the pool is going.

Currently the model and accessories have all been picked out, contracts signed, finance almost finalised and location has been set. Turnaround time looks to be about 10 weeks from when we give the word so all things appear on track for installation just as summer starts and therefore a pool party for the Princess' birthday.

Now, dear reader, please use your imagination. Currently you would be standing at the shallow end looking towards the deep end. There would be no grass, weeds, sand or bushes just sweet, sweet limestone. A small border garden. All straight lines. Mmmmmmmm.

Just out of shot to the top right will be the solar heating. And yes, we are in the middle of winter - that shot was taken 3 days ago. Since then, Madame2Bar has taken a scorched earth policy to the garden. Anything that can be salvaged is now replanted out the front while the rest is waiting for the Bobcat guy to clear up in a couple of weeks.

Anyone want a trampoline? Pick up only, $70. Perth.