15 April 2014

Take me back to Sth Island, NZ


My People - Michaela

I love this gal.

Michaela (Mick) and I grew up down/up the road from each other in Worrigee, NSW. We both went to Nowra Technology High School (Mick in the year below me) and we caught the same bus to school. As I got older I started to notice this cute girl on the bus. I'll be honest, I had no idea she lived four houses down the road from me. See, Mick didn't catch the bus in the mornings... only in the afternoons and my house was before hers. So I'd get off at my house and she would still be on the bus. I could only assume she lived further out of town.

By the time I was sixteen, I'd grown quite fond of this cute little blonde girl on the school bus and throughout a series of awkward teenagerisms her and I ended up 'boyfriend and girlfriend' for a short time. Mick and I ended up together a few times over the next couple of years. Somehow we would be together, it would end and we'd manage to reconnect as friends afterwards. We've spoken about it since and each in our own way we struggled 'fitting in' as teenagers. She was this odd, quirky, yet intelligent kid who was very artistic. She spent her weekends riding horses and playing with chickens and other animals her family had on their property. I was older than my years, a little dorky, a basketball, film and music nerd and spent most of my weekends building cars with my brothers and my Dad... so each in our own way we were outsiders to the teenage norm of the time. And in hindsight it made sense that we spent so much time together.

By the time I was eighteen in 1998, I'd ended up in a serious relationship post-school as Mick and I drifted apart. My girlfriend at the time and I moved to Canberra in 2000 to start the next phase of life. Then in 2002 I was moving house and I found an old box of memories I'd kept. In that box was a letter written to me by Michaela from a few years earlier and she'd given me her email address. I thought finding that was a sign so I emailed her from my work computer on the chance that she was using the same email address. It turns out she was. And not only was Mick really happy to hear from me, but she also lived in Canberra in the same suburb as me. She'd moved to Canberra in 2000 as well to start University and we were living walking distance from each other again... what are the odds? We caught up sparingly after that, seeing each other every few months and it was great for our relationship to kick off again and grow into an adult friendship.

As we get older, we're further removed from those two teenagers who 'didn't fit in' but what we have now is closer than ever. We've talked about that a fair bit as we both love the nostalgia attached to growing up where we did and the time we spent together as teenagers. But whilst we love that part of it, our friendship is very much about how we are now. We've been at each others weddings and have seen each other through the good, bad, high and low that comes with adult life. All from a friendship that started on the school bus.

Mick still has that quirky, odd little girl inside her but she's also grown into a mature, smart, loving, understanding, accomplished, adventurous person who I am proud of and love so much.

Michaela.

Mick.

One of my people.






26 March 2014

I'm happy

Oh G'Day All...



I know... I've been a little absent. I've had a lot going on. I've been stressed. Me? Yeah, me. I'm usually such a cool customer but I've been stressed. I've been planning out life in excel spreadsheets to figure out just how long this tunnel is and if the light at the end is for me & mine... or is it for someone else? Metaphors, motherf*cker!

It's not been easy times and what does that mean for me? It made me want to be private. Not a Facebook status update for 6 months, no blog entries, no sharing my life with the world. I had a full plate and there wasn't enough to go round to share with y'all. I had to look after my Brown Life as a number 1 priority.

Don't read too much into this, just the world didn't give me anything easy for a little while there. Felt like a trying time set out to take my measure as a man and I got the better of it in the end. It's been all very adult. Working hard for positive stuff and the phrase that comes to mind is that 'nothing worthwhile is easy'.

It wasn't.

It's still not.

But I'm happy and I'm back. 

Yes.

I'm happy.



Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.


5 January 2014

33 at 33 - Review of my 2013 goals

Well, it's 33 things in 2013... and I did ok. It's amazing some of the things I didn't do; they seem quite easy in the whole scheme of things but I guess life gets in the way sometimes. I've achieved a hell of a lot more in the past 12 months than what's on this list but it's great to look back and see that I've realised most of the goals I set for myself. Here's a rundown: 

1. Lose 10kg - NO GO. I got from 125kg down to 118kg so not a bad result.
2. Type a letter to a friend on my vintage typewriter.
DONE!
3. Go to an N.B.L basketball game (so I have a formal basis for hating that league). DONE! Went to Australia v New Zealand (mens and womens back to back), so I'm crossing it off! For the record, it was fantastic.
4. Complete the Canberra Year of the Steak blog with my mate Craig
- DONE! We are going to continue it.
5. Have a romantic picnic with my wife. DONE!
6. Help Lauren achieve a photography exhibition. DONE!
7. Finish reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
DONE!
8. Do a weekend in Melbourne to catch up with Kat, Leela and others. DONE!
9. Bake a cake. NO GO. How f*cking hard is it to bake a cake? Not really, I just never got around to it.  
10. Dunk in a basketball game. NO GO. I was diagnosed with a torn left patella earlier in the year... struggled to still play let alone dunk it. 
 11. Build a chicken-coop and get some chickens. DONE!
12. Pay out a credit card.
DONE!
13. Install a rain-water tank at home.
NO GO.
14. Cook a meal at Shawfoot Manor from my new Italian cookbook. DONE! 
15. Make a will. DONE! Well, I gave all the information to my solicitor so I'm checking it off.
16. Build an outdoor cinema in my backyard and invite friends over to watch old movies. DONE! Check it!
17. Go for a massage.
DONE!
18. Hire a luxury car for a day, suit up and hit the road with my lady. NO GO. 
19. Shoot a roll of film with Lauren's Hasselblad. NO GO.
20. Travel to another country. DONE!
21. Go to another city/town for the sole reason of watching live music. DONE! I went to Sydney January 4th to the Opera House to watch Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Possibly the best live gig I've ever seen.
22. Go to a gig at the Phoenix in Canberra.
NO GO.
23. Eat dinner at a 'hatted' restaurant. DONE! Courgette in Civic for my friend Brendan's bucks dinner. 
24. Go to an arcade and play video games.
NO GO.
25. Go to a zoo. DONE!
26. Go the the dentist.
DONE!
27. Take a photograph that I’m proud enough to frame and hang on the wall at home. DONE!
28. Host a dress-up party. DONE!
29. French Night at home with my wife... French food, wine, cheese and movie. DONE!
30. Buy something awesome from a country/flea market -
DONE! It was a garage-sale, but I'm ticking it off!
31. Teach my friends how to play Mahjong. DONE!
32. Buy a really NICE belt. I don't have a really nice belt! DONE!
33. Play Blackjack at a casino NO GO.

So in the end I got through 24 of the 33 goals I set myself in 2013. I'm pretty happy with myself for what I've done and it gives me a good idea of how to set up my goals for 2014. 

That's all for 2013. 24 of 33... cheers, 2013!

Family Christmas 2013 - Nautical Xmas!

So for Family Christmas in 2013, my friend the lovely Sarah and I decided we would combine our efforts for a nautical themed Christmas.

Our group of friends kicked off at D'Browes in Narrabundah where we had cracking good meals and the staff seemed to enjoy our efforts at dressing up. Good people there, good food, good value and cheap corkage... can't go wrong!


I didn't actually have my camera with me, so these pic are by my friend Chi Chu.

We then moved along to Brown HQ where things got fun/messy/hilarious.










Backyard Cinema

Well, basically a big-ass television in the backyard... but I like to embellish.

Around 10 years ago, I was at a friends home and saw an amazing old front-projection TV. I'd never seen anything like it before, nor since. I told my friends Rita and Pete that I really wanted that TV if ever they got rid of it. Some 10 years later, they have been storing the TV in their garage all this time waiting for me to come get it.

On the afternoon of New Year's Eve I finally got to picking it up and the below was the result for NYE at Brown HQ. Started out with Wall-E, then Madagascar 2, then Smokey & the Bandit followed by some Family Guy.




30 October 2013

33 at 33 - working my way through it!

17 ticked off the list... at least now I'm more than halfway there!

1. Lose 10kg - 8 down, 2 to go.
2. Type a letter to a friend on my vintage typewriter
3. Go to an N.B.L basketball game (so I have a formal basis for hating that league). Went to Australia v New Zealand (mens and womens back to back), so I'm crossing it off! For the record, it was fantastic.
4. Complete the Canberra Year of the Steak blog with my mate Craig
- It's underway!
5. Have a romantic picnic with my wife. DONE!
6. Help Lauren achieve a photography exhibition. DONE!
7. Finish reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
DONE!
8. Do a weekend in Melbourne to catch up with Kat, Leela and others. DONE!
9. Bake a cake.
10. Dunk in a basketball game.
11. Build a chicken-coop and get some chickens. DONE!
12. Pay out a credit card.
DONE!
13. Install a rain-water tank at home.
14. Cook a meal at Shawfoot Manor from my new Italian cookbook.
DONE! 
15. Make a will.
16. Build an outdoor cinema in my backyard and invite friends over to watch old movies.
17. Go for a massage.
DONE!
18. Hire a luxury car for a day, suit up and hit the road with my lady.
19. Shoot a roll of film with Lauren's Hasselblad.
20. Travel to another country.
DONE!
21. Go to another city/town for the sole reason of watching live music. DONE! I went to Sydney January 4th to the Opera House to watch Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Possibly the best live gig I've ever seen.
22. Go to a gig at the Phoenix in Canberra.
23. Eat dinner at a 'hatted' restaurant. DONE! Courgette in Civic for my friend Brendan's bucks dinner. 
24. Go to an arcade and play video games.
25. Go to a zoo.
DONE!
26. Go the the dentist.
DONE!
27. Take a photograph that I’m proud enough to frame and hang on the wall at home.
28. Host a dress-up party.
29. French Night at home with my wife... French food, wine, cheese and movie.
DONE!
30. Buy something awesome from a country/flea market -
DONE! It was a garage-sale, but I'm ticking it off!
31. Teach my friends how to play Mahjong.
32. Buy a really NICE belt. I don't have a really nice belt! DONE!
33. Play Blackjack at a casino

30 September 2013

My People - Sacha

Sacha. That's my guy. When I start typing I start smiling straight away.

 
In April 2012, Sach and I travelled to the USA together. As a young bloke, I'd never travelled. The first overseas trip I did was in 2010 with the lovely Larry. So last year when Sach came to me with the question, 'would you be keen on a boys trip to the US to watch a heap of basketball?'. Didn't have to think about it too long; nor did I have to question whether I could spend two whole weeks with Sacha. He's one of those people who values his own time and space; and also extends that understanding to his relationships with other people. It makes him quite a considerate person.

Two mates travelling around the US together watching basketball, drinking at random bars, eating and just being guys. Great fun and the whole trip reinforced for both of us why we are mates. If you're lucky in life you have a friend like Sach. He's an intelligent thinker and has a great ability to understand people's idiosyncrasies. Sacha really gets how people tick but also it's a respect of other people's feelings and emotions. You never have a conversation with Sacha without him genuinely asking, 'How are you?' And he wants to know. He cares.

Sacha loves chicken wings, good beers and good laughs. He has a love of Michael Bolton, Phil Collins, the Doobie Brothers, Hall and Oates. No, he's not a 50 year old white guy... he's a 29 year old brown guy. He's well into the NBA and a mad Boston Celtics supporter. He's also quite the baller himself. One hell of a three-point shooter when he's on and plays the game with a competitiveness not often matched. He's also a faithful Collingwood Magpies supporter and is very big on clothes and fashion. That's one thing about Sach, he always looks good. Always makes sure he's well-groomed and looking sharp. I remember when we were on our trip we got a few days out of LA and Sacha hadn't shaved for a few days. He looked at himself in the rear-view mirror of the car and said, 'my mother would be horrified if she could see me now'. He places great pride in how he presents himself to the world. Pride. That's my guy. Pride in himself, pride in his work, his relationships with people, in how he gives himself to the world. Sometimes he can be too proud but in a time in the world where many people don't care enough... I'll take it. 

Sacha Jeeawody. That's my guy. One of my people.


29 September 2013

Maybe I'm an introvert

I'm a happy guy. I am good with people. But a recent personal discovery of my being is that... I don't care much for social situations with large numbers of people; and I become very quiet and reserved.

Does this mean that on some level, I'm an introvert? Perhaps. I remember as a kid I often played on my own at home on the weekends. We lived in a rural area out of town so there wasn't really neighbours or easy access to my school chums as a little kid. I often filled my weekends playing Lego, Matchbox Cars, computer games, videos, GI Joes, etc on my own. I wasn't some sort of lonely child, I had two older brothers I loved and had a great relationship with my parents; I just managed well in my own company.

Then the awkward teenage years came. For a couple of years I was made fun of as the fat kid in my year at school. When you're put in a negative situation like that, it made me very self-conscious. High school is hard enough but when you're a target of harassment (from other kids who are no doubt just as insecure as you) it's much worse. I endured only a couple of years of this before a combination of growth-spurt plus exercise meant I was the fat kid no more. I don't know how kids go through their entire schooling life being the target of negativity. I remember always dreading social situations with groups at that age. I felt like I was constantly being analysed and judged. I remember taking so much time to get dressed before going to these sorts of events. You needed to make sure you looked right and fitted in, I didn't want anyone to have any ammunition against me where I could be teased.

Now as I think back to my group of friends at school I realise that I didn't confide in those guys. I found that I often sought out female friends and they were my closest confidants as a teenager. More often than not these girls were removed from my usual social circle. I found I could talk to them without feeling like I would be analysed, teased, whatever it may be. I remember being constantly accused by my mates that I had feelings for these girls and part of me probably did to an extent; but the relationship wasn't about that. It was about friendship and closeness with an individual. A friendship where I could say whatever I wanted about how I was feeling and feel completely uninhibited.

Maybe this is the point I am getting to? I really value and love those individual friendships. Where the individual or small social situations are intimate and personal; I love it. But do I enjoy social situations with larger impersonal groups or at large events? I don't think I do. It feels false and it makes me nervous. I find even with my group of friends I often seek out individuals in that setting rather than interacting with the group. Don't get me wrong, I can put it on. I can pretend to be the uber-socialite and I quite enjoy the challenge of public speaking. But it's not personal. 

Of course I enjoy talking to people, I value interacting with people and I feel like I can be a good friend in this respect. My wife tells me I'm the person that 'people talk to'. I regularly find that people single me out to tell me their problems, talk to me about things that are happening in their life. Some of the things people have told me in my time would blow your mind. Divorce, criminal history, affairs, domestic abuse, problems at work, discovering your parents are not your biological parents, drug addictions, spiritual acknowledgements, sexual abuse... Apparently I'm that guy you talk to. And I don't mind. In fact, I enjoy being that person. Everyone needs someone to confide in whether it's just to unload on a sounding board or seeking advice. That's personal. That's intimate. That's helping somebody. That's what relationships and interaction should be about.

But throw me in the middle of a party of people and I'm looking for a quiet corner of the room to disappear to. So am I an introvert? I'm a writer, so maybe. Maybe I'm just getting older with a better understanding of what I'm about. Maybe I'm an introvert. Maybe as I grow and change I'm analysing life situations more. Maybe I'm not confident meeting new people. Maybe I'm an introvert.

Are introverts truly introverts or are they a product of a society that's becoming more and more selfish? More it seems in many situations conversation isn't about sharing, listening and engaging anymore... but about people talking at each other. I'm very fortunate that I have a group of friends who are talkers as well as being thinkers and listeners. However in other times I've had those interactions in a group social setting where the person was irrelevant. People were all talking at each other to say 'their thing' or 'get their point across'. In those same situations I've been introduced to people who barely look me in the eye and I'm sure they aren't listening when a mutual friend tells them my name. Those actions in fact contradict what I feel is the value in human relationships and why we socialise with people; interact with people. So if the value is taken out of that? Then why bother in the first place? To quote one of my favourite films, 'If the rule you followed brought you to this, what use was the rule?'

I love people. I love interacting with people in a way that's honest, intimate, ungoverned, meaningful. But put me in a large group of people? I'll be over in the corner, cheers... Maybe I'm an introvert?

2 September 2013

French Night at Brown HQ

One of my goals as part of my 33 at 33 was to have French Night at home with my wife. What better day to have 'French Night' than Bastille Day?

French beer.
French wine.
French cheeses.
French food. 
French music.
French movie.

It sounded like this...



And looked like this...