Jetlag Express

I’m not sure how it affects others, but to me, Jet Lag is like a net that envelops your brain. When you wake up you feel its presence. I usually think, quite optimistically, that this is just the normal “tiredness” that will go away with breakfast and a coffee.

An adequate dose of caffeine and water tends to help, but as the day wears on, the net is slowly wound in, resulting in a feeling like you brain is being drawn towards the back of your skull. It’s an all-encompassing pressure, focused on the front of your head; unrelenting.

 

And then, once the day’s work is over and you feel like you can finally get some rest, your body catches up. You’re alive and ready to fight another day. All those hormones that you’ve been dumping in your system to wake yourself up finally line up with your diurnal cycle, and you’re in party mode. Since you’re usually not at work at this point, an offer to go for a drink or a dinner sounds like a good idea, and without your internal alarm clock telling you to go to bed, it is really quite easy to enjoy the night well into the wee hours. Even when you actually behave yourself (instead of saying “Ah, I shouldn’t drink tonight…” and then smashing half a dozen cocktails), you can still find that midnight creeps up on you with surprising stealth.

 

Last week I was in the States, and now I’m in Germany, writing a little bit of AG and preparing for three days of meetings before jumping on the plane back to Tokyo. Due to the way your cycles work, travelling east is always harder than west (think of it this way; if you go 8 hours east, you start work in the new zone roughly when you would be going to bed.

There is a significant drop on two sides of this runway...

There is a significant drop on two sides of this runway…

If you go west, you start work roughly at the time you’re wrapping up for the day, so you’re at least in “watch TV/play games/generally be awake” mode).

So, I’ve lucked out this time.

 

However, I did get to see the Grand Canyon, and I’ll admit, it is pretty Grand. Next time I’ll try and get there at ground level.

 

Thanks also to those of you who messaged me after my last post. I had only just landed in the States when trying to write this current chapter. I think I have it back on track now, and I have had a lot of time in the last 6 or 8 days (I’m not sure which at this point) to ponder how I can close off the last few threads of this story without it becoming too much like some kind of repetitive teen action movie (something that I’ve begun to fear after watching too many of Cinema Sin’s “Everything Wrong With” videos).

 

Enjoy the view.

Writing yourself into a corner

Sometimes, there comes a point when you are writing that you realise that the path you’ve wanted to follow may not completely resolve with the reality of the story as it has unfurled so far.

I’m at that point now. I’m thinking about scrubbing the last couple of chapters of Arctic Gale, or at least hacking away at them.

Or, I could change the way that I want to go forward.

it’s always a bit hard. When you’re writing a character, they form themselves around the original plan that you had in mind. If you decide to change things then you suddenly have to resolve a number of issues around that character’s traits and behaviors. And then there are things that just don’t make sense. Why would the rebels suddenly accept Kate back into their midst after she was obviously captured by Depoc? Or is that something that is resolvable?

How do the news reports about Cole make any sense? If he was the rebel leader, then Kate killed him, and that’s not acceptable.

If he was a double-agent, then why would Depoc go to the trouble of reporting him as part of the rebellion?

These are the issues that I am currently facing. That and jet lag.

PS I’m also starting to take notes about setting up in Japan in another Page on this blog. I’m updating it as I go along. There is a lot more between where I’m up to and the present day, but the process is still ongoing, so no rush…!

From 36,000 feet

Okay, I will admit that this is a bit cool.

 

A couple of people have previously suggested that I should spends some of my time on planes writing, but I’ve never really gotten into it for a number of reasons.

 

Firstly, sitting on a plane is one of the few times I get to watch movies. For example, Gone Girl is pretty good. So is that other one I watched yesterday but I have forgotten literally everything beyond “I watched a good movie yesterday”.

 

I usually schedule my flights to be overnight. That really isn’t hard when your going from Sydney to Europe or the States; it is always night somewhere. So I use a lot of flights to catch up on sleep.

 

But last night I had an early night; asleep by 2200. And my flight today, whilst early (0915 departure), was not so bad as I stayed in the airport hotel. It’s also Sydney to Japan so there is no “overnight” part. So I thought I’d give it a crack. AG Chapter 28 is my first “Mile High Chapter”. Enjoy it. See if the oxygen deprivation has made any difference.

 

I also have a free WiFi card. That is pretty awesome. I’m writing this as we dodge a thunderstorm over Indonesia. That doesn’t happen everyday.

 

I’ve flown over Indonesia thrice this week, and the current big news story is about the Bali Nine; a group of Australian drug smugglers that were arrested in 2005. Two of them were sentenced to death, and their imminent execution by firing squad has been all over the news in Aus over the last few weeks.

 

I will admit that I’m not a fan of the death penalty for any crime. I think taking a stand on life or death is uncompromising. As soon as you make an exception, like Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot, then it doesn’t take long for the exceptions to wind all the way down to crimes where no-one is even killed.

Sure, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that killers or war criminals should go unpunished. Heck, you should be studying these people to find out how to prevent that kind of lunacy again. But in my mind as soon as you say that it is alright to kill someone then you are condoning murder, and I’m not down with that.

 

Being executed is probably my greatest fear, as unfounded as it is (says the guy who watches Air Crash Investigation before boarding planes). There is something unbearable about knowing the exact moment of your death and being able to do noting about it.

 

When I was in year 2, we were told to do a project on a “Celebration,” a little project to teach us how to use a library to look up information. I’m not sure what possessed me at that time. Maybe I had seen something on TV or read it in a book, but the topic of “Public Execution” came to my mind. This kind of behaviour was typical of my entire schooling; I would deliberately find ways to bend our instructions whilst still staying within the teacher’s parameters…. but I digress.

A 7-year-old Crud hit the encyclopedia hit the books, dragging on a couple of unsuspecting kids along for the ride. At the time I thought nothing of it, but we studied about five different methods of execution that had been used in public, such as beheading, hanging, the electric chair and such…

Anyway, the teacher did that barely-contained-rage-grin that they do when they want to smack you for being a shit stirrer, but knowing that their instructions were fully complied with, and the incident was forgotten.

 

But those few encyclopedia pages still stick in my mind. I think it is fair to say that I have a bit of an imagination, and since that time I have had visions of being led down those hallways and strapped into a gurney or chair and getting the fuck killed out of me. Even now, writing this, my pulse has skyrocketed at the thought.

And then you hear the stories of the people who were exonerated after the fact. I can’t remember the guy’s name, but there was someone executed in the US for allegedly burning down his house with his kids in it. He maintained his innocence until he execution, and after the fact real arson experts concluded that there was no way that he could have done it. But, through some circumstantial evidence, he too was murdered by the state.

 

I’m not really going anywhere with this. I know that this topic is a controversial one, especially considering that most of you are American, where I know public sentiment is different to that in Australia. Our last execution was also a case whereby the prisoner was most likely innocent. I usually keep my opinion on the topic quiet. Like most political or religious topics, it usually tends to degrade into name-calling, and you can end the day with fewer friends than you started with. But with all of the hype at the moment, and the proximity to some of my doomed countrymen, I thought that I should at least say something.

 

I hope you’re enjoying AG. I’m only just now realising that I forgot to make Kate read her mysterious note. I guess that is for next week/month…

Dairy of a Tired Man

Okay, so the first thing I have to say is “never move overseas”.

Some extra caveats on that if you also have to set up a company and raise a new family. It’s not good for your health…

Anyway, I shouldn’t whinge too much. I’ve had a lot of help from people over the past couple of weeks so it serves as an important reminder to always look after your friends lest you need their help!

For the first time in 15 years I don’t own a car. I wouldn’t call me a petrolhead, however I do admire engineering in all shapes and sizes. Cars are just a part of live in Australia, especially once you go beyond the reach of our relatively inadequate train system.

It does, however, feel great to be freed of the incessant insurance, maintenance, petrol and registration fees…

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing recently, however I am currently in the grip of that bone-drenching fatigue that comes from having too many small and relatively achievable tasks to complete. I find it so interesting that when you get to this point you look at your to-do list and even though you know that you can easily complete half of them without any effort, your brain simply looks at the list and goes on vacation.

No amount of coffee can dig you out of that hole. You simply have to harden up and get on with it.

There is an interesting bit of research that came out recently that said that when you get stuck in that funk, the best thing to do is find a task that takes less than a minute to complete. It might be filling out an application form, cleaning up your desk or taking out the garbage. That simple act re-starts your brain to the point where you can then get back into the thick of getting stuff done.

I’m really not sure what else I should put in this post. I’m sure that once I finish the move next week that there will be a million processes that I can describe to you (unless anyone has the specific desire to hear about Japanese Corporate law and how you set up a company there…)

…on the importance of being killed

I’m not sure what brought my mind back to that morning, but something must have set me off.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before here, but let me recap. Please note that this story is a few years old, but I am in a bit of a writing mood so I want to play with it a bit. It has been a while since I last told it anyway.

A few years back a friend and former flatmate moved out from my apartment. I knew at the time that he had some mental instability, however it was something that never really got in the way of our relationship.

Early one morning he buzzed the intercom and asked if he could pick up some stuff that he had left in the apartment. I said sure and let him in. I could smell the whiskey on him almost before I opened the door, and the man that stood in the doorway was clearly disturbed. He was wearing old pants, a back protector (kind of like an armoured vest for motocycles) but no shirt, and carrying his helmet. I had been working the night shift the previous night though, so I didn’t really give a shit.

I told him i was going back to bed, but he asked me to check his emails.

“The computer’s on, go nuts” I said drowsily.

“Man, after all the shit I’ve done for you the least you can do is log in for me.” There was something in his voice that made me think that arguing was probably not the best idea.

“Fine.” I sighed as I sat in the computer chair, which faced away from the kitchen. “What’s you user/pass?”

“XXXX@gmail.com,” he said, before mumbling something.

“What was that?” I asked, starting to swivel my chair.

“I said XX…” and then he was upon me. He put his left hand on my left shoulder, and I instinctively moved my left hand to brush it off – and it was my left hand that caught the knife. I can still remember the hot pain as the blade bit into my hand and neck, and the eternity of swirling counter moves that spun through my mind. It was probably only a second, but it felt like an hour before I remembered that my brother was crashing at my place. I screamed once, but the pressure was still on my neck and it was hoarse and quiet. I wriggled in the chair and grasped the knife tightly, cutting my hand more but removing enough pressure to call out my brother’s name.

In the police report, he said that I sounded like I was gargling water at the time, and almost didn’t bother getting out of bed (he was also working the night shift at the time).

There was a scuffle and eventually we got the upper hand. The guy left (he actually buzzed again 5 minutes later, before the police arrived, to ask if we’d let him in to get his helmet back), and after the police had gone we got a call telling us that he was locked in a mental hospital.

I think he was there for about 3 months at least – long enough that the police didn’t bother charging him.

Once we got that call we unlocked the door and wend shopping. I remember going to the supermarket and thinking “you know what? Fuck it. I’m going to buy some fatty bacon and enjoy the shit out of it.” I also decided at that time not to let myself play the “what if” game. Before that point, I used to beat myself up over everything. For example, I had a female friend that I really wanted to date, but like all nerdy teenagers, I always botched it and ended up in what would be known as the Friendzone a decade later. But after every meeting, or phone call I would keep doing the “what if I had said X, or done Y… then things would be different.”

It was paralyzing me to the point where I know that I came off as more than your average weirdo. Thankfully I was forgiven.

But after that day with the knife-wielding maniac (and he actually was diagnosed with Mania, so I can say that) I stopped playing the What If game with the past, and only did it with the future.

I think, in some ways, it has made me a bit callous. I know that when my Dad died my reaction was less screaming and wailing and more “Okay, so that happened, let’s go through the motions of getting the funeral sorted.” But in other ways, it means that I (think) that I am focusing my energies on more productive thinking, and more productive What If games (i.e. those looking at the future, or business cases etc).

Now, I don’t suggest that you go out an get someone to almost kill you. It is a risky game. However, I think that sometimes you need a kick in the pants to change your thinking. I was reading the story of Sophie Hayes  (http://sophiehayesfoundation.org/about/), whose story is terrible not only in what happened to her, but the fact that it is happening to millions of women across the world – and I suspect if I step outside my hotel I could find a victim within 200m (I also wrote about a similar book some time ago: Slavery, Inc).

To think that something as terrible as being trafficked can happen to someone and yet they are able to continue with their lives makes your day-to-day problems seem pretty insignificant. So if you’re bummed about how much school or work sucks remember that there are sometimes worse things that can happen. And, in all likelihood, there is someone who can appreciate your story and maybe give you some advice.

Okay. I think that is enough. I am quite tired yet hopped up on a strong, after-dinner espresso. I think that I will crash soon.

Oh, and there have been two AG chapters in the past week for those of you keeping score.

Today’s picture is a boat that got burned in order to help guide some spirits home…

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