Seeya, Gramps

March 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

Near the start of 2003, just after the Canberra Bushfires, my Grandmother on my Father’s side died. She’d been sick for a while. When I’d last seen her at Christmas she’d spent most of the day sitting down, too tired and sore to move around, to play with her Grandchildren, the youngest of whom just didn’t quite get what was going on. I knew -in an abstract manner- that she was sick, but it didn’t really click. So when she died, it was a surprise. I was sad, I was angry. I didn’t like the idea that someone I knew could simply be taken away from me in a moment.

On Sunday, my Dad came downstairs, asked if I was nearly ready to leave with my Mum to go and see some rellies, and said he needed me to come outside and speak with him. I knew before I opened my door what he was going to say. I’ve been expecting the words for years now. Overnight, my Grandfather (on my Father’s side) had died. He’d spent the last few months in a Nursing Home, and years before that with a carer at home, dealing with the fact that he was slowly, inexorably withering away thanks to cancer.

They say that a long life is a blessing, but at 85 years of age, I worry that my Grandfather had had a few years too many. I sit here and struggle to find the words to say that I loved my Grandfather, that I think it’s sad that he’s now dead, but that I’m not sad. That I wished it could have ended with less pain for him, less pain for the family. By the end he thought he knew what trouble he caused, he loved that we came to visit him when his health deteriorated yet again, but he seemed to wish that we didn’t have to. I don’t want to say that he’d given up on life, but he’d given up on “being a burden”. For the last few months he was on a no antibiotic order, a death sentence of sorts, once you’re in a nursing home.

I remember when I was young, I looked up at him, grey hair turning to white, he showed me how saggy the skin on his arm was, and I laughed as only a child can, laughed at how bizarre it seemed. We used to whistle at each other, our own little act, since it was something my sister couldn’t do. A little older, I marvelled at how fit he was, compared to my family and I he seemed like an unstoppable force, going for “light walks” at my running speed, always staying active and alert. Once he started getting sick, he slowed down, but we could still sit around, both reading books, comfortable in each other’s presence, comfortable in the silence, with nothing needing to be said. The last time I saw him there was silence, undercut with the unceasing buzz of the hospital. But it didn’t feel the same. It was the silence of things that wanted to be said, but from people who didn’t know how. By the end I’d managed to force out “Love you, Grandpa.” The words strained, though the intent was not.

I look back and choose to remember the good times, the times when I was young, when he was healthy, or at least less sick. I find it sad that I never truly got to know Grandpa (while I’m also grateful that I knew him as long as I did). I never got to see what he was like as a healthy man, through the eyes of an adult. I find it sad that a good man has died, and I find it sad that he spent so long dying, so long as a version of himself that wasn’t really him.

But I don’t feel sad. I feel relieved that it’s over. I look back, and wish that it had been more like my Grandmother. That one day, much to my surprise, I’d been told that he’d died. That I could cry about it as simply as I did back then. But then my goodbye would be too late. An addendum to his life, not a pained farewell in a hospital room. So I can’t really say what’s for the best. Is it better to linger on, or to be snuffed out in a moment?

I don’t know, but I know I’ll miss my Grandfather.

Smile

October 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’ve often struggled with what I want in life. Obviously, I want happiness, I’d like money, and I want to be surrounded by people who like me. More than that, I want the people around me to be happy. That’s why I can spend a whole day cooking food, hoping that the people around me are having fun, and by proxy I have fun, because there’s nothing better than a smiling friend.

Yet I often act “jerkish” or “standoffish”. I try to keep people at a distance (for a while both physically and emotionally). I’ll tease and send out jibes at people, with the hope that they know it’s all meant it jest, but with the fear that think it’s the opposite.

Anyway, the point is that I have this weird compulsion to mix insults and jokes because I really want those around me to be happy. That’s really not at all strange, now that I’ve written it down, but it seems stranger in my head, though I guess nearly everything does. As per usual though, I continue to digress.

At work I scan files. After I’ve sorted some files, and started scanning them, there’s not really a whole lot to do so I usually look at the people at the reception desk. A quick glance, a “hey, I know that person” as I wave to my Dad’s cousin or see someone from school. Usually they don’t notice, sometimes I get a glance back. Today I met eyes with a girl, and she smiled at me. Not a condescending smile, or a flirty one, just a nice, friendly smile. Being the adult that I am, I of course responded by quickly turning away, turning redder than a can of coke, and resolutely staring at my monitor until I saw her leaving.

But when I think of her smile, as lame and insipid as it sounds, it makes me smile. It’s like an infection, spreading itself around, forcing the corners of your mouth up. So maybe all I need to do to make others smile is the same.

If only I didn’t look like a gibbering idiot when I did.

Lint: A Review

April 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

It’s an interesting task I proposed, I’ll admit, but I’ve found in life, that once you agree to do something, you have to go the whole way, no half assing it.  And so now I’m doing this.  A host of words on this piece of belly button lint.
It’s something that seems easy, something that everyone knows, even if their mileage may vary.  Some light shreds of cotton, polyester, or whatever your clothes are made of, drawn in, resting where they’re most comfortable, in the warm embrace of your harsh chest hair and gut, like an embryo in practically no ways whatsoever.  You go to change, to shower, to collapse into bed, and you notice something in your peripheries.  This dark ball of fuzz, so you reach down, pluck it out, cringe a little at the disgusting thing you face, and you abandon it like Frollo attempted to do with Quasimodo.  That is to say, down a well.  But think, this is part of you, it has grown from you, this isn’t something you should ignore.  This is something beautiful.
The light shines through it, from a distance.  An ethereal transparency, that transcends description.  It produces a glow that is almost halo like in beauty and power.  Moving closer, a wealth of threads become visible.  Like the invisible threads that hold us all together they intertwine and intermingle, like a Redneck Christmas party.  I try to follow any one thread, but I lose it, I spy another, but it too disappears.  To think of this as a bunch of strings too simple.  It is a living organism, sentient and amazing, like a Jellyfish, except that it won’t sting you, and doesn’t live in the ocean.
I stare at the whole thing.  It’s dark, but not as dark as I’d expect, given my penchant for black clothes.  There’s a streak of colour, a deep blue, normally melancholy, yet strangely uplifting compared to the grey that surrounds it.  Like the light at the end of a tunnel, it speaks of hope, and of the future.  It knows where it is, and what it is, and it doesn’t care.  It only wants to move you, to touch you, like your uncle Larry after a few too many beers.  There’s a hint of brown there, just a tiny speck, swamped by the foreign bodies around it, the black kid in a troubled texan school.  It speaks not of hope, it cares not for dignity, it cares only for survival, to make it through.  Maybe in the future it will find some people who are more like it, in creed or colour.  It might find a nice girl, and settle down.  Eventually the nightmares of its past will fade, years spent visiting a stuffy man in a stuffy room can be thanked for that.  But deep down, at the back of its mind, it will always wonder what it did wrong.  Whether maybe, just maybe, everyone else there was right.
I pick the lint up, throw it into the air.  It floats slowly down, a leaf on the wind, buffeted by minute breezes, and micro climates.  It hovers for a second above my hand, a last ditch attempt to escape, like a hooker nailed to a washboard as the hammer comes striking down.  It resigns itself to its fate and lands.  If anything it seems even more beautiful than before.  Absence makes the heart fonder, and all that.  I know now that it can’t leave.  I must have it forever.  Nobody else could understand the beauty here.  I find the evidence of my past discreptions, my impurities.  They won’t do, that I know.  I burn them, a silent effigy to their successor.  They stare at me as they burn.  Their beautiful past behind them, age has twisted them beyond recognition, more so than the fire ever could.  They should feel relief, they should thank me.  I am doing this for them, not for me.
I hold the most important piece, I cup it in both of my hands.  I breathe in its scent.  A whiff of myself in it, mingling with the scent of clothes, the air outside.  A faint memory of a girl I used to know.  It evokes her, now I see.
This is why it must remain.  This is why I need it.  For her.  The one who I allowed to walk away.
You can never leave me lint.  Never.

Gameplay Substance in the Open World

November 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I get a lot of weird looks when I mention this -or at least, a lot of theoretically weird looks- but I prefer Grand Theft Auto 4 to Saints Row: The Third (henceforth referred to as GTA 4, and SR 3).  And most of this isn’t because I think that GTA 4 is that great(though I do really like it), but because I really don’t “get” what’s so fun about SR 3.  I’ve spent 20 odd hours playing the game, I’ve finished the main story, I’ve done a decent majority of the side missions, I bought the DLC, and I’m still waiting for it to get fun.

Saints Row 3 managed to be a game that was somehow compelling, despite my disinterest in its narrative, while also not being fun.  It has all the elements that I usually like in my open world games.  Big guns, expensive looking cars, explosions, and yet, none of them felt good.  They were simply elements on a list somewhere, checked off on the challenge to making this “game.”  There’s no tension to any of the previous elements.  The cars move smoothly, and cleanly, their maximum speeds pathetic, particularly given the wide gaps between everything in the environment.  To crash in any reasonable form is an amazing feat.  The guns have no weight to them, and shred through the enemies you face.  Killing them is as difficult as matching 2 tiles, the crosshair to their head.  The only danger you face is when you stand in the open, placid and gormless for a while, letting its poorly designed “tank” enemies crush you.

And most disappointing of all are its explosions.  They start strong, a bright moment of glory, but their impact quickly fades, leaving only shells, tangentially related to what was hit.  To help illustrate my very wanky point:

Comparatively, everything in GTA 4 feels like a challenge.  The cars are weighty, and require practice to master.  The guns are imprecise, and if you stand out in the open, you will die.  The fun of it comes from the combined mental and physical challenge of planning what you’re doing, and executing it.

GTA 4 is a rage to better rags story.  Its story is about a struggle, and its gameplay enforces that.  You play the underdog, as unlikeable as he is, and the gameplay reinforces that.  SR 3 has a story of revenge and anger, where things go wrong, and things go right, but as you play it it’s a constant series of perfection.  Nothing bad can happen while you play, everything goes exactly how you want it to, and that’s just boring.

Things in life are better if you struggle to get them, and that’s why I prefer GTA 4.

My own time

October 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve come to realise that there’s a problem or six with how I do this thing.  I’m not just thinking this because I failed to update my daily updating blog two days in a row last week, thought I’ll admit it has factored into this, it was also partially inspired by the recent launch of the Potaku website.  This is a blog that I will hopefully contribute to, if I ever have anything worth saying in the future.

But, looking at it, it’s made me wonder why exactly I write.  Writing’s something I do on my own time, something I do for other people to read, even if I never spruik it.  I write it to  get things off my chest, so that I can talk about ideas. so that I can meander on and say things that have no point or purpose.  So mostly, I’ve given up on the idea of trying to update daily.  I’ll probably try to keep it up for the rest of the month, but realistically, I’ll probably give up again.  The aim of this was to motivate me to write things, something I have fun doing.  But if I spend three hours worrying about what I’m going to write, it’s not very fun.

So as with everything else I do in life, I’m going to chill, and see how it goes.  Because I’m slack like that.

Self Sabotage

October 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

You’d think it would be easy.  Type something, anything, once a day, for a few weeks.  It doesn’t matter if it’s crap, if it has no point, if it meanders about incessantly.  All that matters is that you hit that “publish” button.

And yet it seems to be so, so hard.  “Oh, I’ll do it later,” I say.  Or I forget about it completely.  I look at what I’ve written, and I don’t think it’s even worth an appearance on my 0 readership blog.

So, as per usual, the biggest enemy is myself, and that leaves you with this.

Anna’s Quest

October 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is a simple enough blog post.  This one solely exists to redirect anyone who has stumbled here.  Where, good friend, are you being redirected?  To Anna’s Quest.  Anna’s Quest is easily the best point and click adventure game that I’ve played in recent years.  It is an absolutely gorgeous game.  It is well written, well designed, and a lot of fun.

It’s also cheap.  So, you, random person who is reading this, I implore you to please go and look at it.

And I’m not just saying that because I helped test it.

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