(This is going to be a bit all over the place).

YOU know, I think this was a good year. Apart from a tough last four months a lot of great things happened and there was a fair bit of growth.

Sitting on the grass with some friends and feeling really connected to them after playing soccer at a park was a memorable January moment. I used to struggle a lot with ‘feeling connected’ to people and this was an encouraging way to kick off the year.

The first half of the year is a bit of a blur. I was moderately happy in my job, house and life. I can’t even remember if I was fighting sin successfully or not. Hmmmmm. Just at this moment I’m a little disappointed I can’t think of anything too exciting happening from February to April. My house, job, friends, infatuation all carried over from the previous year…so yeah…(Half an hour later Chris returns to this section) Actually I do remember something good that happened in the first half of 2009. I felt a small attraction to a couple of females. It was pretty exciting at the time. ‘Look, I’m changing’.

In May the year went from ho hum to yay. I went to a week-long journalism conference. I didn’t leave the week thinking ‘wow, this was great,’ but I gained confidence that I can succeed, because I went out of my comfort zone and didn’t do too badly. The food was good too.

This would begin the best part of the year for me. For the next three weeks I was looking forward to a three week holiday. The holiday itself was great as well, haha. I had my first jet plane flight, spent some quality time with one of my best mates, went to a same sex attraction retreat in Sydney and enjoyed exploring by myself. In the past I would have been ‘oh no people will think I’m a massive loner/loser ’cause I’m by myself,’ but I didn’t mind. In some ways, on holiday and later, I truly felt like an adult man for the first time. Maybe it used to be like I was walking around in a man’s body worried that someone would discover I was a scared 15-year-old inside. But now I was an initiator entering my world with confidence and power. In June/July/August this was a powerful feeling in my life that did seep out a bit as I wearied in the third quarter.

I came back to my regular life on top of the world. Yeah, baby. In the second half of the year I started playing table tennis, which gave me another weeknight out along with my Christian small group. I also moved houses in July. At the time I liked the house: it was cheap, I had plenty of space to cook and my own bathroom, the bike track was nearby and the internet was fast. But apart from two long conversations with the people I lived with, we exchanged about three words a day. I think their ambivalence to me was more draining then it seemed at the time. I would stay there three months.

Also in July work got a little bit exciting. I was given the role of sports coordinator and quickly became a little bit obsessed with making the football pages look great. I succeeded. Truly it is exciting to help make an ugly arrangement of words and pictures beautiful. We also changed some of the sports graphics at my instigation (five months on I still have to push for them to be used properly, ugh). Filling in Sunday afternoons had been a problem for me as I wanted to attend church in the town where I work, but didn’t want to follow this up with an hour long car drive to visit a friend or see family. So I basically spent it on the internet. Then I decided to take soccer pictures. So for about five weeks I spent Sunday afternoons on the soccer field shooting pics of the local games. I enjoyed it; it filled in time and I got some good shots. Also got an infatuation with a soccer player; whoops. It was mild and he went overseas and the crush disappeared. Amazing that. Usually my infatuations lingered way past the time they should have, but maybe I was changing so I wasn’t so desperately clinging to people.

So we come to my late year funk, which seemed worse because I had just been in the best mood of my life for a couple of months. It was September when the funk started. Nothing bad happened to set it off; just lots of little things. My exciting infatuation feelings were gone, work was boring, I looked at porn on September 16, my house didn’t feel like a home, winter was lingering, friends were busy more often, I spent $400 at the dentist etc etc. Then I tried to find a new job and it just didn’t happen. There weren’t that many jobs that matched my skills and experience, and I didn’t even get an interview for the ones that did. I felt stuck. I felt like small town life with its narrow-mindedness was sucking the life out of me.

Also late year I had about a month and a half of truly horrible sleep. Like four hours one night, 3.5 the next and then five the next. Lack of sleep can ruin a day even when I can function pretty well on an oily rag. I’m back in a sleeping cycle and have even had a couple of day time naps, which is highly unusual for me.

The thing about my funk is it wasn’t entirely situational. Though my problems were real they were the same ones I had in June/July/August when I felt great. It was kind of like mild depression or something though it wasn’t because I wasn’t sad or apathetic. I just felt crap. But it wasn’t all horrible. In early October I had a day in Melbourne with three friends. It was the kind of day you want to make a fragrance out of because it was just good. The train broke down or something on the way home and we had to wait an hour to catch buses. Good travelling times. Also I made a new friend in town and built some stronger. The past 10 weeks I’ve averaged a game of tennis every week or so with four different people, which has been great as well.

Towards the end of the year my job got ridiculously monotonous. I was/am doing crap and struggled to get a story in the first 15 pages of the paper most weeks. (This means I’m not doing any of the exciting big news stories, but am further back in the paper with the less important articles). Part of this is because I’m kind of a sucky journalist; part of it is the nature of the news team at my paper. My boredom with work led me to try to make it interesting. I’ve tried to get out of the office as much as possible to take pictures at places a half-an-hour drive away. As the weather warmed up if I happened to be near a beach at lunchtime I went and hopped in the water. For me doing new things or old things differently gives me a feeling of confidence and freshness.

The past two months have been defined by my third place of residence of the year, which became a home. I had to get out of second house, so I placed an advert in my newspaper seeking a room. The only genuine response was from a family seeking another boarder. So I took it and had the first second storey bedroom of my life and someone else to cook my meals. The really affecting thing has been some of the interactions. With people in real life I always feel like I’m the one engaging. I’m the one asking the questions, probing the answers and making suggestions. This a perception that isn’t entirely based in reality. It’s also because I myself drift towards the role of the listener rather than the talker. Lately I’ve noticed my friends engaging me more (ie phone conversation with mate last week he listened and probed as I detailed three issues I was dealing with.) Anyway the point of all that was to say the mother in the house engages me a lot about my life and criticises and suggests stuff and gets in my face. I think it has been helpful without making me feel like a 16-year-old dealing with a mother-type figure. I man up when I need to. 

Yeah, the guy I mentioned in my last blog post who was boarding at the same house as me was a pretty big part of October, November and early December. As it is so recent it sticks in my head, but in ten years time I don’t think it will define 2009 for me. Though sitting in a big outdoor spa with him at night sipping beer and talking about deep stuff is a pretty powerful memory. I learnt a lot because of him and still am. My main summarisation of the situation after he left in the other blog post still stands: I shouldn’t have gone and sought masculine validation from a broken 19-year-old, but should have sought to build him up as a man.

Sometimes I feel like such a late developer. This year I bought my first slab of beer, my first mobile phone contract, my first debit bank card I can use over the internet, my first plane ride and asked a girl out for the first time.

I feel good right now about the future. Maybe I’ll quit my job and move to Melbourne without another job waiting for me. Maybe I won’t. But I’m not scared of taking a risk and I know if it goes bad; it’s only going to go so bad. Maybe I’ll find a girl and get married. Maybe I won’t. I will be sanctified either way.

And God? He knows and He was here. He’s working on me. He’s awesome.

Here’s to 2010. With Him.

Bring it on.


Be the man

I’VE been weird places with my brokenness this year. Like, I have been interested, infatuated, one-sided emotionally interested in four guys this year. It’s crazy. I thought intensely desiring a guy would disappear as I got older and dealt with my issues, but it’s intensified. Yeah, yeah…if your memory stretches back four months you’ll know my last two posts were also about this topic. That’s because nothing frustrates me more about my battle and it is the hardest part of it to deal with.

So who was lucky number four; you ask? Well a couple of months ago I had to move house and I was looking to board somewhere as I hoped (and still do) to move to the city soon, which ruled out renting on my own. The people that responded to my advertisement in the newspaper were a married couple in their mid-40s with a big house and only a daughter at home. They also had a young guy boarding with them. Maybe I set myself up for it; I did start to wonder what the guy would be like and whether we would get on and what he would look like. I didn’t envisage how it would end up though. It was worse then I could have imagined and better.

First impressions were he was an average looking, nice late teenager. Three weeks later I was fighting to stop thinking about him. I don’t know what exactly clicked or reacted that set me off. We had a few conversations in those three weeks. They were nothing special. But he was busy; I was busy, so there wasn’t much more than that. Even though we used the same bathroom I hadn’t seen him shirtless or anything, so there was nothing that way either.

My guess is that I kind of set myself up for it with wondering too much what he would be like and hoping that we would get on and it would be a healthy male bonding experience for me. There’s nothing wrong with hoping, but I’m sure my brain could twist that into a ‘well if you’re not going to be mates, you might as well get some excitement by being infatuated with him’. Another thing is I don’t talk and spend time with a lot males whom adhere to cultural ideas about masculinity. This is a guy who plays football, seems confident, gets drunk on the weekend and has a large group of ‘mates’ he hangs with frequently. He seemed like he was having a pretty good life in ways I guess I felt I missed out on when I was 18. (Part of this is irrational. It’s the excitement of the foreign as opposed to the guys I’ve known for a while and are friends with).

Other reasons? I guess he comes across as kind of self absorbed. I don’t know why that should be appealing. But it’s one of his notable characteristics. He seems confident and also makes himself vulnerable. He talks deeply about himself quite easily…..what’s the point of writing all this down? I guess I’m curious as to why it happened, how it won’t happen next time, what’s happening inside me that I need to deal with.

To begin with I fought this infatuation well. ‘Dear God, this is my idolatry. I want to want you more than him, but I don’t right now please forgive me.’ Must have prayed that heaps for a few days. I also told a few people about the infatuation. My parents (that was a pretty good conversation in a way; they are people who absolutely care for me and though they don’t know the right responses to make they listen and engage) and a couple of friends. It was downhill from there.

I hated having an infatuation on a housemate, because you can’t get away from him. (It could have been worse thankfully he was away on the weekends and often went to his room and watched a movie). I hated it how my brain was trying to plan my morning around seeing him. ‘Okay, if we have breakfast at 7.15am and shower at 8.05am we might just catch him at 8.20am when he brushes his teeth’ or later ‘if you do shorthand practice at 7.50am you will see him walk to his room’. It was crazy stuff. Then I’m wondering whether I’m doing this cause it’s the best way to do it or because it increases my chances of seeing him.

I ‘loved’ having an infatuation on a housemate. Like, I actually got to talk to him and see him. Usually my infatuations are with guys in the distance. For example the infatuation went super strong the night we had a spa. There’s an outdoor spa at the house and I hadn’t had one, so I was going to have one and he said he would join. It was an amazing hour and a half of good flowing conversation, mainly him sharing things about his life, with a couple of beers. It, and the other couple of times we had spas, would literally be like a shock to me. I would think about them and what was said for a couple of days later. It would literally take those couple of days to recover. Here was a guy I liked sharing stuff with me, being friendly and having a pretty deep convo. It was kind of intoxicating. The convos were also unhelpful. Let’s just say the last one we spent half the time talking about girls. He said stuff that wasn’t healthy to hear and I asked probing questions I shouldn’t have. We also chatted about God, sin etc a bit as well.

Thankfully he’s leaving in a few days. The part of me that was sad about this has mourned. The other part is counting down the days and can’t wait to not have this interest taking up a lot of brain power. It’s the bigger part now. It’s possible I will never see him again; I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’m going to take some good things away from this: the acceptance from a ‘guy, guy’ who I didn’t know three months ago, insights into the lives of younger guys and a first-hand knowledge the guys I envied five years ago don’t actually have it all.

It’s weird. I was totally wrong about him. He wasn’t just the confident and happy person I imagined him to be. He was also insecure, broken, frustrated and hurting kid. The funny thing is that I wanted him to bestow on me masculine acceptance, but he actually needed me to initiate a healthy form of masculine encouragement for him. Apart from the sin in my head and in my questions, this is the biggest thing I’d do differently if I could do-over the whole episode. Instead of hoping he’d come to me and be what I needed; I’d go to him and be what he needed. A more mature guy to come alongside him and cheer and fight. Instead of seeing myself as weak and him as strong; I’d see us as both weak and strong in different ways.

I welcome any thoughts or insights you have…