Erection 2007: The Clean Up

Sunday, November 25. 2007
Get the tissues.

And if you didn’t have a hard-on at the sight of Maxine McKew dancing around at the prospect of cutting Little Johnny off at the knees, well, you’re probably as much of a cold fish as the wanker who took offense to my Kevin07 t-shirt at the polling booth yesterday.

Welcome to the only political commentary of the year. And no, the quality isn’t likely to improve.

Some eighty consecutive polls suggested that Little Johnny’s spin ‘round the lower house was coming to an end, the man himself wiped off the scum and spittle and told his own party they faced annihilation at the coming election; few people have dared be so correct in their calling of the result. The swing to Labor has been as high as 9% in some states, making up not only the ground lost when the Latham Bomb went off but paving the way for a majority bigger than even Hawke won. Seats that were already Labor territory were pushed even further into the red while marginals toppled like dominos. Steven “who?” Smith called it fifteen minutes after the polls closed in the east, and his giddiness was understandable. You could just imagine him shaking like a five year old who’d worked his way through the cookie jar and was making his way to the cooking chocolate on the top shelf.

Mal Brough came tumbling down, his concession statement still full of the bullshit he’d been propping up his military intervention into the Northern Territory on behalf of the little kids and the ailing government in general with; his just another in a run of outs that might just see Little Johnny beaten down, humiliated and lining up at the Centrelink office with the rest of the four percent. Don’t let that door hit your arse on the way out. It belongs to Kevin now, buddy boy. Malcolm Turnbull held on and managed to smile, because he knows his run to the top job just got a whole lot shorter and easier. Can’t win them all, I guess.

At the current figures, Labor won’t lose any territory. The Nationals coughed up three seats, the Country Party lost their only holding. And while the current figures point to a national swing of just over six percent, the votes were stacked even higher in what was already safe ground, so it won’t end up being a truly massive win – but be damned, that kind of thinking, because it’s been big enough. The people have spoken, and it couldn’t be clearer than this. Here’s how I read it:

This is what you get for fucking with the people. Trying to cut out the unions, trying to take control of the workplace, trying to set things up so you can make the people take the fall next time things turn sour, trying to get rid of unfair dismissal laws: don’t fuck with us. The people have spoken. In few countries does democracy’s calling ring as loud and true as in Australia – between compulsory voting and real accountability, or at least, accountability unmatched anywhere else, the people’s choice is loud and clear. And all you stuck up, cold fish conservatives, like the one I’m about to tell you about: suck it, suck it hard.

I happened to line up behind possibly the only hardcore Liberal voter in my suburb. Working class all the way, out here. He took offense to my Kevin07 shirt, on the grounds that political material isn’t allowed inside the voting area (a rule to stop people handing out how to vote cards right at the door, they have to be six metres away) and was probably just pissed off he knew what was coming. He asked me to take it off, or turn it inside out. I told him it could be Kevin anyone. He didn’t like this one bit, and became all the more agitated. By this point all around here watching our exchange – but he was getting no sympathy. He took up his argument with the official (who was there only to direct traffic) and it went like this.
Wanker: He can’t wear that in here. Make him take it off.
Official: Nah.
Wanker: Fine, I want to complain. You have to help me.
Official: Nah.
Wanker: What! I demand satisfaction!
Official: Go sit in the corner.
Or something like that. The guy wasn’t going to lift a muscle to help the guy’s cause and even if the wanker was right (I’m pretty sure he wasn’t) he was just being a wanker.
One liners I didn’t use, because I’m a gracious winner:
I would take it off, but it’s covering all my swastika tattoos.
I have a singlet with ‘Howard Is A Wanker’ underneath.
You don’t have to try that hard to get me naked, big boy.
Go tell it to Castro, Paco.
And there it is. I don’t hold terribly high hopes for the incoming PM, but he made his case on some big points that are close to my own experiences. Up to now I was an avowed Democrats voter, but their relevance has been phased out after they sold out their supporters on the GST issue, and being a Green voter is now more important. I parked my wagon fully inside the Labor camp this time, because high ideals are one thing, but teenage idealism gives way to reality and realism. The way the lower house works means anything other than a vote for the main parties is wasted – but I won’t go that way in the Senate. As much as one vote can change things.

So that is the wash up. The celebrations went long and hard last night. This is one hangover I’m happy to have.

The needle and the damage done

Wednesday, November 21. 2007
I had two blood samples taken on Monday afternoon. Usually I make a point of getting these things done in my right arm, just so I can make a point of saying to the nurse that I’m left handed. It’s a conversation starter, if nothing else. The nurse was really chatty, so there’s no need for that kind of thing anyway, it turned out – but either she was more brutal than necessary, or I’m starting to fall apart.

Because I have the gnarliest bruises coming up right now, you have no idea. The first one is on the inside of my elbow, the other on the back of my hand (yes, she went for the back of my hand vein, for reasons not fully clear) and my god, it looks like I was stabbed. Or I had my hand crushed. The back of my hand is all turning that lovely black to blue shade, second only on the sickening scale to the florid white of someone just about to hurl their guts up. I’ve been noticing more and more that I take longer to heal now that ever – scratches stay around for weeks, bruises hang about like awkward boys on underage dancehall walls. Piercings stay sore much longer than before. I’ve heard lines about young bodies heal quickly, but the down turn is startling.

And I know that getting needles in my arms never used to leave such vivid reminders. This next story needs one forewarning – if you ask the Bancho about what went on, I was nowhere near as big a pussy as he will tell you I was.

It was Golden Week. I had an urge to go see the Bancho, who was a full days train-jumping from where I was bunkered down, and I almost rashly jumped on the plan to get there. I threw my bag of stuff together and got on the bus to head to the local station. I felt nothing but healthy, and had been since my new year’s brush with death. It’s a long way, jumping the Tokaido line all the way from Saitama to Nagoya, but dedicated readers will know I’ve done all that and more, many times, and will doubtless take comfort in my perseverance. This was the second time doing it and it’s about an eight hour day. All the way I was fine, listening to my earphones and taking in the sights. I removed the earphones to catch the sparkling sounds of the schoolgirls around Shizuoka – the accent, gentlemen, is worthy of framing. It was only right at the end I felt a tickle in my throat.

Jumping the gates at Kanayama station, I followed my directions to the right bus and got off one stop too far – as it turns out, no bad move because I caught the Bancho coming my way on his bike. The Bancho’s life then was something of little brother envy and worship for me. The petulant pup I was, he was the lanky junkyard bully turned self-proclaimed ruler of all surveyed lands and all beyond, should it need ruling. And it almost always did. Walking into the student’s dorm building, there was a big poster laying out the rooms and who lived where. On which he had scrawled in huge black letters, This Is My House! Fear ME! Or similar sentiments, since he has a way of articulating his will much more succinctly than me. I’m wordy. The scene, that’s not for me to tell you about. I hope he will, one day, when he’s good and ready.

We went for beer and grilled meats on sticks. It was good, but I was feeling concerned about the growing discomfort in my throat. I dismissed it, and now, knowing what I know, Jesus that was stupid. Who was I to know? The next day we woke and I had a fever. But we had a beach to get to. The Bancho takes no shit like that and promptly medicated me with donuts and aspirin. Aspirin with caffeine in it. Those pills are magic and got me to Hamamatsu with little trouble. We got to the beach and reclaimed his surf gear – the story of which I again, implore him to tell. Criminality is in the eye of the beholder, my friends, so go nuts man. By the time we’d hauled all that stuff down to the water, I was again feeling less than fine. But the sun was out, we were young and there were waves. We were the only people on the beach swimming, too, a fact that only seemed to amuse the locals. Who were out in force for the local kite flying festival – a novelty still unmatched in my experience. In the water you could look back toward land and see the sky filled with kites that looked tiny, but were bigger than cars on the ground.

By the time we had beers for lunch, I was dead. All positive effects were gone and I couldn’t swallow. But worry, me? I had the Bancho to entertain me. He was struggling to get signal on his phone to check the basketball scores, it was the last game of the playoffs and his Seahawks were going for broke, history beckoning. Oh, and remember that this was FOUR YEARS AGO, all you people on the train so proud of your mobile phones that can take pictures and browse the interweb, and that new plasma TV you just bought? The model they didn’t sell two years ago and can’t get rid of. Bite me.

As the Seahawks lost, so did I. The rest of the festival, trying to chat up local girls, getting back to his place – all a blur of pain and fever. Nothing we got over the counter helped. The next day he took me to a hospital, and get this – the doctor gave me nothing and sent me away. By this point I couldn’t swallow water. Maybe rest would help and I’d wake up feeling fine. How wrong I was. The next day, all the more worse I was. So back we went, and the doctor again told me no, you’re fine, but have some meds just in case. So long.

As we sat waiting for the nurse to fill the prescription, the doc came out and said, hold on, did you say you haven’t had anything to drink for about a day? Maybe you should get on a drip, just in case. Ok. So out the back I went, and onto the drip I went. They took some blood and tested it, just in case, and he comes back and tells me, hey, you’re pretty sick. I could have told you that. You’ll have to stay here for a while.

A while turned into the rest of the week, making it the worst Golden Week on record. It was also the longest I’ve gone without eating anything, since my throat was too swollen to get anything down. I had a constant drip in my arm the whole time. They used every possible point on my arm, both arms, and the back of my hands. They put liquid and meds in the drip, but since I couldn’t swallow, and fever medication can’t be given via a drip, it had to be a suppository. I could tell you about the seeming coincidence between how cute a nurse is and how kindly she will shove things up your arse – but it might have been the forty degree plus fever talking, so there’s nothing too scientific about it. What was scientific was the level of smell I was producing, since they didn’t let me near the shower and I was sweating like a bastard, and had no change of clothes. Hey, I had only planned to be there a few days. The Bancho came when he could and told me stories. Stories that made me laugh, which caused only pain at the time. Ah, memories.

It was the Friday I decided I felt good enough to leave, and told the doctor. He objected, but I insisted. I waited for the Bancho to come and we made them see it our way. Against medical advice I was out of there, and not a day soon. I opted to take the bullet train back to Tokyo. Might have been the wisest choice I’ve ever made, that.

The moral of the story? I had no bruises on my arms whatsoever. Sure, I nearly died of fever, and was surrounded by some very sick old men in the public ward, and the cost of it set me back a ways, but I was tough. And with the varying insurances taken out on me by an over-protective bureaucracy, I made more back on re-imbursements than I ever gave the hospital in the first place. Take that.

I need to get out more

Monday, November 19. 2007
It’s been too long. The official excuse will come later. The vivid, bullshit World I Live In excuse is the returning fear of the blank page and growing paranoia. If you’re not paranoid, you’re not paying attention. I see creeps everywhere, out of the corner of my eye, and they shout at me, but only when I have my earphones on, and just loud enough that I think I heard them. Is this what getting older is like, with added bonuses like losing your eyesight? I see paranoia creeps and they all come to tell me the same thing. They’re going to come at me from a blank page, and they’re going to come when I close my eyes with it in front of me.

It’s been way too long, and is it a coincidence that I’ve been drinking again tonight before I post? The wagon has been under me for at least two and a half weeks, so fear not, that’s not a demon I have to deal with. I’ve been working almost every night for near three weeks solid now, tonight is the first time I’ve had two nights off in a row for almost a month. It’s good to be making money, but the cost is higher than just taking my time to do it. It’s getting to me, that place, and I want to see the end of it. Officially, I’m over it by a long way – at least I have the sense to say that and get other plans on the go. That place is full of people who bitch and moan about it but don’t do jack shit to improve their deal. They can all eat the shit they get served up, because they keep coming back and don’t see that down the road they serve something different. It might just be more shit, but it might be milk and honey. Might just be.

Split second half chances are what makes or breaks things down. Maybe if I played more often they would come around more often? I’ll have let it go by tomorrow. Really, there wasn’t any more I could do about it and hey, it’s the better outcome, it really is.

Damn, I do love the summer. Days are long, hot and filled with girls who seem to be competing in a contest to see who can wear the least and still get away with it. What’s not to love? They all break my heart, too, especially that girl in the red dress who was waiting for someone near the Burke and Wills statue and he turned out to be the guy least deserving. Breaks my heart, just like the half chance girl I was talking to while waiting for the doctor to jab me again this afternoon. She’s going to South America soon anyway, but it was such a hot afternoon and I had a couple of hours to kill – we could have got something icy to drink, and no harm in asking. Except the nurses called our names at the wrong times and I was finished before she was and hanging around just for her? Well, now the beer tells me it might have been almost cute and endearing but beer tells me lots of things that aren’t right. At the time it would have been creepy, I thought.

Other than these things, I do love the summer. It’s never this hot this early in Melbourne – we have to wait another month for this kind of action, usually.

Plans move forward. Targets are met, jabs are finished, medication acquired. It’s all ready to roll. Watch this space.