This week I've been feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, the lot. I can't quite put my finger on why. There might be several whys. Sometimes there doesn't have to be a why at all. It hasn't been much fun feeling hopelessly inadequate, not sleeping well (that's a problem I haven't had in ages), and being even more obsessive about the passing of time than I normally am. There's been a lot of news - the plane crash that killed the 2 Degrees boss and his wife; Jesse Ryder; North Korea; Nelson Mandela; the new Chinese leader; and the George Taiaroa murder (that was absolutely terrible), but I've been too introspective to pay much attention to it and I feel bad because of that.
My uncle - Mum's third brother who's 69 - has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He smoked up until a few years ago. He's lived in South Canterbury all his life and knows people from childhood. I've seen him on a fairly regular basis, most times I've gone down south, but I've never got to know him that well. I've never felt we've got much in common. He's quite a complex character I think. He's been married three times and has seemed quite bitter ever since his second wife pretty much took him to the cleaners. I guess we're all terminal, but this has happened so suddenly (the news I mean, not the cancer which has probably been around for some time) that it's a real shock to Mum's family. My uncle is a very private person and although I haven't named him and hardly anyone reads this blog anyway, he'd probably shoot me if he knew I'd written this paragraph.
On Tuesday I saw Julie at the rest home. The place is run by the Catholic church (she isn't a Catholic herself but most of the inmates are) and you get the impression they're nearly all waiting for God. I think you can become institutionalised, and subservient, very quickly in a place like that. Julie plans to move out of the home later this month, into a flat that someone has hooked up for her. I've lost track of the number of times she's moved. She had some extremely dark thoughts when I saw her. I don't expect her next move to lighten her mood but I'd like to be proven wrong.
I was on edge for the rest of the week. By Friday the constant foot traffic behind my desk (to access the nearby loos and canteen) was starting to get to me. That lunchtime I got my hair cut at the cheapest place I know of in town, a barber's with old furniture, run by an old man. I think he recognised me from my previous visits. He asked me what I wanted and I made a bad job of pretending to have some clue. Inevitably when I returned to work, some of my colleagues noticed my chop and wanted to know where I'd got it done. Oh god. Our local CEO has now moved on to bigger and better things within the company, and on Friday afternoon she had her send-off. Lots of anecdotes, lots of jokes, lots of supposedly funny pictures on Powerpoint slides, and lots of wanting to get the hell out of there.
Straight after work on Friday I went round to my cousin's place for an Indian takeaway and a couple of glasses of wine. I don't drink a lot and when I do it's nearly always either with my cousin (her husband doesn't drink) or by myself. My cousin's husband showed me their Kindle. It can store up to 3000 books, and in some ways is better than a book. For instance you can't increase or decrease the font size in a physical book. Don't know what "repudiate" means? Just click on it and it brings up a dictionary entry. It felt like science fiction somehow. (Mum has an e-reader too but I don't think it's as sophisticated. It does however come with a lot of classics already loaded.)
I've so far resisted the temptation to buy a smart phone. Actually that isn't quite true; I haven't needed or wanted one so I haven't bought one. But this puzzle stuff will soon make one a necessity. So what do I get? I know, I'll ask Tom from the autism group. He emailed me screeds of information about phones, and went into all kinds of technical detail that I didn't even try to understand. Apparently it's all about what version of Android you have (Tom says I shouldn't go down the iPhone route) and whether it has a single or dual core. You can even get quadruple cores. I wonder, can you also get Apples with multiple cores? That brings to mind this sketch from the one remaining Ronnie.
Tom came over yesterday. He brought half a roast chicken and helped me with some tech issues, but oh boy. I was feeling anxious anyway and he didn't help. He's got an inquiring mind, which is generally a good thing, but it means he asks lots of questions. Yesterday I could almost physically feel the impact of each one. I had to explain why I wanted to go to America, which was hard because I didn't really know why. At one point he wanted to know if I'd done any home improvements lately. Well not really. I mentioned the chairs that I did with Mum last weekend. I said the stair rail needed painting. He said, yes, it looks really grotty. Thanks. "I can tell you're not interested in doing renovation." Thanks. While I was sorting out lunch he looked at those chairs and picked them up and turned them over. "Why aren't the screws in fully?" They don't go in all the way. Look, you try. They did go in all the way, but there was some good reason why we hadn't fully tightened them which I could no longer remember. Out came his Swiss Army knife and he started tightening the screws. "This one is missing a screw." Yes I know, they came in packs of fifteen, I'll get another one.
I'd had more than enough of Tom by this stage. I asked him how he planned to spend the rest of the day. He got the hint.
As I was walking through Te Aro yesterday, post-Tom, I saw this game of bike polo going on. I'd heard of it, and even Segway polo, but never expected I'd see it in action.
Today I went tramping at Cannon Point. I'd done that trip before, six months ago. Only four of us went today - some people (including Danielle) were put off by the dodgy weather. It did rain a bit, but nowhere near enough to outweigh the benefits of getting out and about when you've been feeling like crap. Even driving there and back seemed to be of benefit, and I now feel like I'm bouncing back from my latest bout of depression. It wasn't a very long walk; it took in the reservoir lake which must have provided most of the Hutt's water supply in the past. On the walk somebody mentioned smart phones and I said I was looking to get one; it was suggested I get the Galaxy Rav 4 or something. Whatever, it was clearly expensive. When I said I didn't want to spend more than $300 I got comments like "but a smart phone is such a useful tool; unless you get a good one you won't appreciate how powerful it is." That's OK if you've got the money.
I heard Hello Old Friend by Eric Clapton on the radio on Friday night. It's just a lovely song, simple as that, and I've been playing it a lot this weekend. For some reason it reminds me of Richard (as it happens he was born the same year that the song came out). I miss Richard. So much is made of where we live, but if you've got friends nearby that hardly matters.