He was born with a birthmark just under his eye. It was red and shaped like the claw of an all bit forgotten bird. While his parents had hoped it was a scratch from the birthing process, the likes of which would fade with time, this was not the case. Bringing in the new millennium, was the curious and ever increasing occurrence of babies bearing claw shaped birth marks. All marks were a fierce red and did not fade with the passage of time. Alfred Apstley Jr. was a carbon copy of his grandfather on his mother side but for the beauty spot, where “an angel slipped when applying lipstick” – his mother said. In the years to come; friends of the family, teachers, parents, sports coaches and girlfriends would all hear the same story. Whenever Alfred heard his mum repeat those same words, he’d compulsively touch the mark. Beyond affectation, this gesture and attention would cause his face to warm and contort in mild discomfort. Alfie’s career as a baseballer was cut short by a calf strain the game following a triple on debut. As a shy rookie, he’d shown promise coming through the UCLA youth team and then finally transferring to San Fran on a scholarship. It wasn’t until he hung up the gloves and returned home to Seattle that he realised just how much he’d missed the familiar wide-open streets and the coastline stretching down through Tacoma. He’d set out one morning on food, intending to grab a bite to eat and stretch his legs – but continued to walk south for miles. He was dressed in a white shirt with thin red stripes and a baggy set of old jeans which he’d tucked into his socks. His body washed ashore months later, bloated and punctured by rough tides. His parents identified him by the mark hinder his eye which had expanded to resemble a bloated red-stained tear that had welled in the socket and rolled from side-to-side.
The motivation that comes from a conference is startling, but I don’t see the next hurdle. Do I need to chase it down, to jump over it?
Passion alone won’t cut it, you need to be able to communicate clearly to different people: what you do. “Looking to the future, but swamped with the everyday” – “We write the strategy and take out the trash.”
These two quotes encapsulate a helplessness within the industry and a lack of clearly defined roles.
1. Financials (equality & access) – we strive for equity.
2. Curriculum (these programs need to be integrated and bedded down) – who do I need to speak to about this and how can I influence them?
Put your head above the parapet, and have it chopped off, the moving target of a tall-poppy blowing in the wind. Awkward as hell, but I love your hair.
How can I help you?
What can we learn here?
Let me share something with you.
I’d like to teach you something.
Core product, we are not. Orphans, playing the second string in an orchestra.
Current and future are one.
BRUCKNER played gently in the background, reminding me of home in Stuttgart. It was odd for happy music to be played softly – especially German music. She looked at me and smiled. ‘What is it? I said, turning my focus from the wall to her cheerful features. ‘Welcome back’ she said merrily, ‘where were you just now?’. ‘This music reminds me..’ I said trailing off as the waiter broke our line of sight, bending between us to plonk down our meals. ‘Can I uhhh, get you another coffee?’ ‘No,’ ‘Umm, no thanks’ we each replied. She leant in towards me, conspiratorially, her new white top glowing. ‘It’s funny watching people eat, don’t you think?’ I was caught off balance but rallied with ‘yeah, ingesting things is weird, if you think about it, like – what are we even doing’. She laughed ‘yeah, what ARE we even doing’ she echoed. I leant in towards her and took a small sip of water dramatically. Shrugging, she asked ‘how was that?’. I sighed somewhat impatiently, ‘did I tell you about the call I got from a telemarketer yesterday?’. Her brow furrowed ‘no, no I don’t think so’. I settled in ‘so, I got a call yesterday from someone saying that my account was going to be cancelled, so they needed me to confirm my details, basically I turned on this guy, maybe a bit harsh but I just let loose and was like -how do you feel ripping off old people!- like seriously, how do you sleep at night?!’. She said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s awkward when you actually speak to them, so what did he say?’. ‘He gave it back, and said he believed in what he was doing, it all came out in a jumble, like he was just waiting for me or some poor bastard to ask.’ ‘Anyway I said something like, karma will get you back man, karma is a bitch, and get this, then he shouted back at me, he shouted back “I AM IMPERVIOUS TO KARMA” and then hung up on ME – ha – isn’t that crazy?!’ ‘Ha – well yeah, I guess,’ she said picking up her cutlery. ‘We’ll maybe he’s a modern Wiccan,’ she said. ‘The broach church of the candle heads?’ I said, sarcastic and bating some explanation. ‘No Wiccans are like Pagans – witches and black magic – it’s coming back around,’ she said rather pointedly. Starting from the back of my eyes I could feel an intensity and my face cracked into an uncontrolled grin from ear-to-ear. ‘What do you mean?’ I said coaxingly. She shrugged ‘look, I don’t give away the farm the first time someone asks’. I gestured with open palms ‘I never asked for your farm’ I said jokingly. She picked up her knife and fork and stared at me as if to say “shut up and eat”. I gave up.
SYSTEMS CHECK! You have arrived, at work.
Patience: wavering around fourteen percent,
Respect: just off 40,
Ambition: dialled at 69 percent
Hope: faltering at 9
Joy: on the boil
Kindness: 1 empty cup
Connection: synthetic prototype in test
Aptitude: grinding on at 5mph
Friendliness: needs an oil change
Politeness: green light 71%
Care: red light (broken dial? Call maintenance)
ANUAL REPORTS: Teeth grinding (asleep). Tension headaches. Eye deterioration. Arm pain. Futile interactions occurring often. System reboot December.
Thursday training for the military.
Thunder cracked overhead.
In the blue corner we were worn and weary.
In the red corner were spikes, spurs and pauldrons.
The guts kept spilling.
Hand over hand, minds recoiling.
Moments clatter together in a whirl –
As life is wrung out, dissipating.
When you say something to someone else over the phone about a person ‘not attending’ (but the person not attending is with you while you are on the phone).
I/You say ‘It’s only me that will be attending, such-and-such will not be attending, so you’ve got the diet coke version of the team, Team Lite, if you will’.
Obviously suggesting that I/you are less than the full compliment, however the second (accidental) interpretation is that; the other person is fat.
Thus I/you realise the dissonance of message – what I/you said and how it was may be received might be at odds. Alas we often communicate things that are understood in ways that were not originally intended.
Sadly, in this case we were too afraid to name the potential misunderstanding for fear of the the potential harm it might have caused. Because if I/you explained it – by implication we’re admitting to have spoken without thinking the full potential implications. Then, in ‘naming-up’ the different ways such things could be interpreted it shows that those things have a potential of being ACTUAL views, expressed by both parties (the reality of things). And so, it falls into the too-hard-basket. Good graces, and common courtesy meant that a silent slight registered. Meant or otherwise; it fell from our heads into our hearts. Pangs of worry and toxifying our mind and making us giddy. A bowling ball gleefully knocking down our fundamental principles of respect, care and dignity landing in a pool of deep-deep red.
Hope and good faith were afterthoughts. In honesty, I’m not sure this all made sense. Different readers will have their takeaway, for that there is no shame. We only ask for the benefit of the doubt. The guilty action, the innocent mind, I/you.
To the recent question: ‘Do you feel like an adult yet?’
The answer is probably ‘Yes. A sad, confusing adult’.
‘You’ve got enough money. Just get on a flight to Switzerland and end it if you’re so unhappy.’ This was how every Sunday afternoon played out, with mum trying to clamp down on Gran’s complaints about being old and frail and forced to carry on without Poppa. I poured coke and orange juice into my cup by halves. Gran frowned, and I knew instantly that it was because I’d poured my cup first. I handed her a plastic cup, filled the the brim. Brown lizard was her favourite. A guilty treat that we both delighted in; to my mothers reproach and eventual resignation. I’d nod through her annoyance, knowing that Grandma wouldn’t let me pour out the sink. When I smiled, victorious, mum would redouble her efforts, saying ‘that smile won’t last if you drink that garbage’. Mum was a real straight shooter. At home, the options were soy milk or water. Occasionally we’d have a small bottle of sparking apple juice to share, if we were stranded in town between busses on the weekend. That was years ago. Before Joey Romance came on the scene and poisoned our Sunday’s with aftershave and scouts. The same full decade, during which Mick Comain stole my gameboy at recess from my back pack and Laxel the wonder dog had to be put down. She only had three legs and constant distemper – but we loved her so much we never replaced her with another puppy. It’s always been a harsh muddle or memories and feeling reflecting on my youth. The shrinking horizon of dreams, possibilities and imagination came with the knowledge of things like: daylight savings, wearing underpants, electricity bills and making my own lunches. When I go to Laxel and mum’s grave, I’m not sure if it’s out of habit or choice. I wanted to be an astronaut, now I can barely spell it without the help of auto correct. Staying on the path has been easy, breaking away will be hard.
Loving and trying to express thanks – experience only : no parables, to be had.
I walked into class. Checked in, because it’s 2021. The gent at the counter mentioned my birthday.
‘Oh you’ve got it all’
What a strange breach…
I might just grab a small takeaway coffee please.
Just a large capouccino?
No a small flat white.