Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Existential Angst

Ok, the title's just a standard phrase and to be honest I'm not quite sure what it means. Fear of existing? Anyway, just quietly I'm shitting myself right now. Last night I visited a place I haven't been to for years. A place that used to be home. Last night I cried myself to sleep with worry for my future. It seems so self-indulgent to be able to write about it here, but I hope it does me some good. At the core of the problem I still feel like a scared and lost little boy. Can you imagine me jetting off to the other side of the world to teach English? Honestly, I can imagine it, although I have a very good imagination... Just at the moment I'm feeling thoroughly incapable of just about everything. I won my respect two years ago when I got help for depression, and fought through it even when my family made it harder. I can't ever go back there. I don't think I could ever hate myself the way I did, but last night my brain was going over and over my failings. I couldn't sleep. I was thinking about what Seva said, and just jetting off to Poland before the end of this year, but it's a sink or swim situation, and at the moment I'm too fragile. I know shit all about how the world works, and I've never really dealt with the whole process of dealing with money I've earned, dealing with banks, travel insurance, finding accomodation (let alone in a country where my current knowledge of the language would allow me to say "I am not an elephant", but sadly not "Can you please tell me where the real estate is", "How much is the bond", or "Are you trying to fuck me over?"), passports. I know no one's going to be able to fully understand and everyone reading this will just be thinking "Ben, you are capable of anything we are," but it doesn't feel like that. To be honest, last night I thought about some pretty messed up shit... self harm, but before anyone gets too worried, I wasn't fantasising about it, I was just getting worried that I may want to do that again sometime. This time I'm actually looking out for myself, so things will never be as bad as they were before (I tell myself)... I'm just so scared I could slide back into depression, and that's a place I can never go to again. I'd die. Ok, now for the part where I convince myself it's all going to be ok: I'm going to have to fight for it... hopefully I'm scared enough to get my arse into gear and do something to keep myself moving forward. I don't know what the first step is, but I guess it could be anything. Last night I was defining myself by what I'm incapable of, which is really unhealthy, and I had to stop my brain from doing that, but like seriously, I'm 21, I can't drive, I can't swim, I'm still living at home, I've never had a relationship, or a proper job, it's a miracle I can tie my shoe-laces really, although I only learnt that at a really late age (grade 4), and I only learnt to ride a bike in grade 7. Ok, this is really counterproductive, so I'm stopping it. I also realised that, although quite recently I've been very comfortable with being single and alone, when I'm feeling depressed and insecure I just want someone to hug me. Last night I felt so alone, just lying there in my own bed... but then I'm not really relationship material when I'm busy turning myself inside out. Anyway, my first step is to actually do something productive... sadness and anxiety registered in blog, I now need to get on with my day.

Today's my last day of prac English teaching at this place (I need to line up some more somewhere else)... we may or may not be having a barbeque. I'm going bowling tonight too... possibly going over to someone's house tomorrow, whose boyfriend, I have been told, now hates me because he found out I'm gay, although I don't know whether or not that was just a throw-away comment on the part of the person who told me. Part of me wants conflict tomorrow, because I've never really had a bad reaction to that, and I've noticed the only time I do anything to help myself, is when I'm fighting to defend myself from someone or something else. Ok, I said I'd end this, do something productive, and I'm blathering now... end of transmission.

Wish me luck,

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My country has gone mad...

I got up today to do some serious work for once... which I am doing - I'm only taking a momentary diversion for this.

As I got breakfast (ice cream of course - oh, how health-conscious I am), I looked at the paper (Courier Mail: Tuesday, Sept 27, 2005), and hidden inconspicuously down near the bottom of the first page was this story:

Jail for browsing if caught in net
Even reading books promoting views the Government deems a threat to Australia could mean jail under new laws to be debated by state and federal leaders today.
The new anti-terrorism laws will revive the Cold War-era Sedition Act, rewritten to target those who incite violence against those in the community.
Reading material deemed suspicious or threatening on internet sites could bring jail terms.

WTF?? Even reading a "suspicious" website could put you in fucking jail. I thought the only things worthy of that on the internet are fraud and indecency with regard to minors.

Ok, so I turned to page 8 for the full report... Here's the first paragraph:

A throw-away comment posted on a website praising a terrorist attack anywhere in the world could land a person in jail under tough new laws to be debated by state and federal leaders today.

*Deletes previously written comment* - joking, but seriously, even "throw-away comments" can put you in jail... This is bad news for the incorrigably flippant-at-heart out there (me). I'm gonna have to watch what I say... just to get things straight; I hate terrorists, and terrorism, and those fuckers need to be stopped (yes, and I mean the terrorists on both sides), but seriously, I don't want to live in a world where someone's lacking sence of irony could land you in jail over a silly comment. Argh, I'm scared... I'm too flippant with these things, and there have been about five things I've just been dying to type during this paragraph... only because I know I shouldn't... and the scared side of me has gone "Oh, no, better not type that" (not as if anyone actually reads this, but there are search engines). I feel like Australia is turning into a mini US. But what happened to the free speech the US was so obsessed with? Oh well, maybe we should resign to it... Come on everybody, let's start burning books. The next step would be to start rounding up the... I was going to make an ironic comment about racial purification... thus comparing this to the first steps of the most evil form of Fascism, but I don't want to go to jail. Need I say, that hackers regularly break into my blog and post radical political views I don't share?...

Tomorrow's my last day of prac teaching at the school I'm currently at... trying to line some more up...


ps. Spammers fuck off... I do not want to join an internet dating agency, fund potential American college students, or buy toys for my horse... - What we need are more laws regarding spamming... send those fuckers to jail... or even off to have a nice shower... - Everyone, take care of yerselves!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Houses, Family, Travel...

Ok. I've got a few things on my mind today...

Firstly, my mum and dad are planning to jack the house up, shift it 50cm to the west (to comply with the regulations), and build rooms in underneath. It's an enormous job. We have probably the shittest house in the street, and it's filled with our stuff and our complicated lives. So it's going to be stressful. In a huge survey of stressful life events, renovation came third after the death of a loved-one, and divorce. What worries me is it's uncharted territory. Most of the fucked up stuff in this family is history, and while it's not exactly the Brady Bunch, we're all existing now. My mum had to have a talk to my dad this morning. If you know about my dad, you'll understand. She's worried he's going to pull a swifty and force the house to be sold, and then rip my mum off. The other worry is that he rubs people up the wrong way. My neighbour Simon (who, I will grant, is an arsehole), seems to have rubbed his builders up the wrong way while his house was being raised and moved away from ours. Thus, they left him with the job just over half done, and he's having to do the work on it himself now. It seems the builders have told other building companies not to do work for Simon, because he hasn't had anyone else around. Just as an aside, my dad saw Simon one morning, hammering asbestos pipes away from the side of the house, before he realised what it was... we didn't see him for a few months, so he was probably having a freakout about that, and going to doctors etc. So anyway, my dad want's to renovate the house in about April next year... that's just way too soon. Mum's saying probably around this time next year. Anyway, whenever it happens, I'm not looking forward to it. It will be sooo stressfull, and I just hope everything goes ok. I really hope this doesn't split the family up. That may sound strange for you who know my attitude to my father, but really, I don't know what would happen to my mum or my older brother without my dad. As usual, my family is going to come across to the whole neighbourhood as completely eccentric. My mum's bought a huge tent thing, which can go over or under the trellis in the back yard, and in there we can store a lot of our stuff. My mum's also worrying about the cats, which sounds strange, but it's a totally valid worry, cause it's going to be stressful on them, and they don't understand. They're very old, and we've had them for half my life, and I don't want them to run away and die because of this. Another worry is where everyone is going to stay for the weeks-months it takes for the house to be liveable again. I don't know where I'm even going to be at that time. My mum's thinking she'll camp in the backyard with the cats...

My other worry/complex of worries is concerning my future and where I'm going with it. Yesterday I had prac experience, and I met up with Seva and Colleen, who are two lovely ladies from my TESOL course. I never get jealous, but I'm so jealous of them, because they've actually started work at Langports this week. Seva's a teacher, or at least she was a teacher until she quit, so I can understand that she's right for a job there, but they accepted Colleen too, because they are so understaffed at the moment. Colleen's not a teacher. She got accepted because she's done some certificate in something as well. When I saw Colleen yesterday, she told me that she started teaching there on Monday. I asked her how it was and she said "You have NOOOOO idea," and she said it's pretty full-on, all the preparation and stuff. I want this experience. I want to be tested. At this stage I don't care if it's payed or not, but I want, I want, I WANT. The Language Partners program we do on Wednesday afternoons is making up 10 hours of my practical teaching experience, but I'm very conscious of the fact that it's not a classroom situation. It's just talking. And while I am learning from it, it's a minute amount and I feel like I'm stagnating again.

I was speaking to Seva about it yesterday. Seva and Colleen are both in their forties, married and with kids. Around them I feel so young and naïve, and I know I have so much to learn about the world, but around them I'm so conscious of it. I'm also jealous of Seva and Colleen because they're doing another TESOL course, and this one is the CELTA course, which is heaps more recognised. It's a thousand dollars more than the course I'm doing, and you're teaching through it the whole time, so you'd come out of there a lot more prepared. I'm absolutely kicking myself for choosing the other course... not that it was bad, but to teach in Australia you need CELTA (Seva and Colleen's jobs are probably not strictly legal, it's just that Langports was so desparate... around 70 new students enrolled in one day). The Teach International course is more than enough to get a job overseas, especially in countries like China where they're just snapping up any native speaker to teach English. But it comes down to the fact that I wanted to get a lot of experience here in Australia, on my home turf, before I did it out in the big wide world. My goal country is Germany, but I'm thinking of starting off in Poland first... I think I mentioned this in another posting, but they just look after you there so much better than in Germany, because they're desparate for teachers. Seva was saying I should just jump in the deep end. Sink or swim. (Isn't it slightly ironic, that I literally cannot swim?) It won't be to hard to find a job in Poland, even before I leave Australia. Many schools will find accomodation and even pay for it, or provide food, and if I start at a franchise school (or "chain school") like Berlitz, they'll provide a week long training course at the start to make sure I'm teaching to their method, and I'll have access to all their resources (which means I won't be staying up to midnight every night for the first few months writing lesson plans and getting callouses on my fingers from cutting things out with scissors). Definitely a plus! The trouble is though, that I don't have money at this stage... I'll need money for airfares and to keep me going until the first payday. I'll need emergency money, and lots of it. I don't speak the language aside from a few basic phrases (and the obligatory random weirdities I always learn first). I know nothing about travel insurance. I don't know how to handle money and budget for things... I have so much to consider, and I'm still a blue eyed babe. To tell the truth, although I'm worried about suddenly being expected to teach (which is why I want lots of experience here), I'm more worried about surviving in the world... I still live with my parents and I've never really had a proper job of any sort. I've been busy having issues. Now I'm 21 and I've got no clue. I think maybe sink or swim would be the best for me... because I will refuse to let myself sink... but the thought of it scares me so much. Even yesterday, talking to Seva, and considering simply heading off overseas (after getting a loan from Cash Converters to cover the initial expense), I felt like I was about to have a panic attack. I've come a fucking long way from where I was a few years ago, I'm not working against myself anymore, but I'm still really only halfway to coping as a normal adult in the world. Just recently I've been speaking to a friend who was in a very similar situation to mine, who's been living in overseas this year, coping for herself, and I've got two friends in China at the moment. If a human is capable of doing that, I know I am too, but really, I'm just in a bit of a fragile state at the moment... But I'm really considering just dumping myself in it so I have to cope on the spot. We'll see...

Just read in the newspaper that there's a guy in America, from Idaho falls I think, who has claimed that the Yakooza hired an elecrtro-magnetic generator from the Russian Mafia, and with it caused hurricane Katrina... I love a good nutcase.

I was also talking yesterday to a lovely girl, Fiona, who is a part of the Language Partners program at Langports, and she said she'd talk to her Polish flatmate, Marek, to see if he wouldn't mind giving me practise in Polish with a native speaker. At this stage though, my Polish is very limited, but it'd be fun, so I hope this guy agrees. Another friend of a friend, Annette, is Polish, but she refuses to speak Polish, which is a shame. I'm sure she's got her reasons though.

Anyway, that's it for me today. Byebye!!

My knoweledge of Polish:

Dobry dzień – Hello/good day!
Cześć! – Hi!
Jak się masz? – How are you? (informal)
Jak się Pan ma? – How are you? (formal – to a man)
Jak się Pani ma? – How are you? (formal – to a woman)
Dziękuję, dobrze. – Fine thanks.
Co słychać? – What's up?
Nic nowego. – Nothing new.
Mam na imię ... – My name is ... (informal – with first name)
Jak masz na imię – What's your name? (informal – with first name)
Nazywam się … - My name is … (formal – with last name)
Jak pan(i) nazywa się? – What's your name (formal – with last name)
Przepraszam. – Excuse me/Sorry
Przepraszam za mój słaby polski. – Please excuse my poor Polish.
Mowię tylko trochę po polsku. – I only speak a little Polish.
Znam tylko kilka słów po polsku. – I only know a few words of Polish.
Nie wiem. – I don't know.
Nie rozumiem. – I don't understand.
Czy rozumiesz? – Do you understand.
Proszę mówić głośniej. – Could you please speak louder?
Dziękuję. – Thank you.
Gdie jest ...? – Where is?
Kiedy jest ...? – When is?
Kto jest ...? Who is?
To jest... - This is…
Co to jest? – What's this/that?
Czy to jest …? Is this/that …?
Czy mogę zadać pytanie? – May I ask a question?
Czy tak jest poprawnie? – Is this correct?
mężczyzna – man
kobieta – woman
kot – cat
pies – dog (Widzę psa – I see a/the dog)
ptak – bird
motyl – butterfly
mucha – fly
karaluch – cockroach
pszczoła – bee
orzeł – eagle
krowa – cow
słoń – elephant
ryba – fish
sarna – deer
zwierzę – animal
niedźwiedź – bear
kurczak – chicken
kolor – colour
biały – white
czarny – black
szary – grey
czerwony – red
zielony – green
żółty – yellow
niebieski – blue
purpurowy – purple
brązowy – brown
pomarańczowy – orange
dom – house
w domu – at home
Idę do domu. – I'm going home.
auto - car
Jestem australijczykiem – I'm Australian (male)
Czy jesteś australijką – Are you Australian (female)
Do zobaczenia! – Bye!
Do zobaczenia jutro! – See you tomorrow!
Do zobaczenia wkrótce! – See you soon!
Kocham Ciebie! – I love you!
Czy kochasz mnię? – Do you love me?
Chcę Ciebie. – I want you.
dobry – good
zły – bad
duży – big
mały – small
miły – nice
wysoki – tall/high
niski – short/low
krótki – short (in length)
nowy – new
stary – old
słaby – weak
silny – strong
Mój kot jest miły. – My cat is nice.
Tvój pies jest duży. You're dog is big.
Jesteś słoniem. - You're an elephant.
Jestem pszczołą. - I'm a bee.
On jest motylem. - He's a butterfly.
Chcę jeść motyla. - I want to eat the/a butterfly.
Ona jest ryba. - She's a fish.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The morning after the night before, and the afternoon before the night after.


There was a little gathering last night at Dan's place. Nyssa came along, driving in her car. Dan and I drank quite a lot. Nyssa taught me some Belly Dancing, and Line Dancing. Dan taught us some latin dancing. I taught some German. Dan taught some guitar. A lot of beer was drunk. Outside it was amazingly windy. Lucas vomited at the train station and then wandered through the gale to Dan's place. Nyssa drove home. Dan and Lucas and I went and stood outside in the wind. Items of clothing may or may not have been displaced to some or any extent. I walked Lucas as far as the train station, cause he was pretty drunk, and cause I was curious about where exactly he vomited. It was a pile of leaves which had greedily slurped up the regurgitate.

Upon departure, we heard eerie music, like a high pitched pipe. It wasn't a sound the wind could have made. It was coming for everywhere. Thusly unsettled, and freaked out by the moving trees, wind in my ears, and fast moving shadows rushing along the ground from the nearly full moon and some clouds, I ran down my street. Running drunk, scary enough in itself, but scarier if unsettled and being chased by shadows, was strangely exhillarating. It took me ages to get to sleep last night.

I'm going to a party tonight, but first I really need a nap. I woke up crazily early this morning.

On another note, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was alright. Not amazing, but good. Some funny lines in there. Every time any text came up on the screen, the cinema was filled with childrens voices reading it out. Every time a mildly amusing line was said, the cinema was filled with childrens voices repeating it. Every time the impossibly cute rabbits went "weee", someone squealed. There was one father who had a very loud laugh, and laughed at the most random things (like a vehicle covered in mud). Had a beer with Russ after the movie, and a cheese and bacon traveller's pie. Spaghetti was saved for me when I got home. I was tired and beery, and it was a big plate. Ugh, I feel like bed now.

No profound thoughts to be shared.

Good night!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Exhibit A: Sideburns


Yes, this is my second posting. I do plan on writing here a bit more from now on. Just to update: I'm doing a TESOL course now (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), I've done the in class part, and I've just got some of the online electives to go. I'm such a brilliant procrastinator. I'm also doing prac teaching at a language school in the city of Brisbane at the moment, which is fun, but I want to be tested more, have to do more work, because I don't really know how much I'm learning just from facilitating conversations.

Anyway, yesterday I sat in on a class in the morning. They were intermediate students, and they were learning about how to describe people physically...

...lanky, skinny, wiry, stocky, petite, curvy, chubby, slim, shapely, well-built, overweight, slender, bald, double chin, sideburns, broad-shouldered, long-legged, high cheekbones, six pack, ponytail, pigtail, goatee, flat-chested, broad-chested, pigeon-chested, big-boned, bony, skin and bones, handsome, gorgeous, attractive, hunky, cute, scruffy, pretty, beautiful...

The teacher was trying to explain sideburns. He pointed to his own very short ones, and two of the students, Smith and Kevin (don't you just love Asian names!) had small ones too, and then Kevin pointed to me and said "He has big sideburns", and the whole class turned and laughed at me. It was kinda funny, especially when the teacher said "Yes, he has fantastic sideburns". Oh lordy.

They were given magazines and they had to work in pairs and go through them and find someone they found attractive, and describe why they found that person attractive. It was really funny, especially when some of the students hadn't grasped what some of the words mean... I remember one girl saying "He's very slim and stocky". It's a great activity, but part of me was uneasy with that. I guess it's something most people wouldn't think about, but if any of the students were gay, and not comfortable with it, they might have had a really hard time of it. That's why I don't think I'd ever use that activity, because you'd never be able to tell if you're putting even just one of your students in a really awkward position of deciding whether to be honest or lie. Something that's not often thought about. I remember my German teacher got us to describe our ideal partner - hehe, "Tall, dark and handsome" may have raised a few eyebrows. End of rant.

One of my conversation students in the afternoon was called Hoon.

With the Japanese accent he sounds halfway between he and she. Kind of like adding a y sound after the h, like hyee. Much mirth and merriment ensued when I asked a question following on from what someone was telling me about a male friend of theirs: "Did she... ?"

I'm kind of on and off, half-heartedly starting to learn Polish, because it might be a great place for me to begin teaching. My favorite thing is that they have a one syllable word for elephant: an animal which is hardly common in their country (słoń pronounced a lot like swan). And they have a crazy two syllable word for bee which is a much more common creature in Poland I'm guessing (pszczoła - which is a p followed by an sh sound, followed by a ch sound like in chair, followed by an o like in hot, and then followed by wa). I'm crazy, I've taught myself the words for frog (żaba) and needle (igła) before words like food.

I'm going to see the Wallace and Gromit movie tonight. I'll let you know how it is. Before I forget, I must command you all to see the movie The Jacket. See it at all costs! It's great. It's beautiful. It has Keira Knightly and Adrien Brody in it. Get! Now! Watch! Enjoy!