Twenty Five

 Posted by on March 17, 2009  AutoBio, Family, Thoughts  Tagged with: ,
Mar 172009
 

There has been a meme going around the Facebook community whereby people write an autobiographical list of 25 factoids about themselves. Mine took a while to type (I am both a windbag and a very slow typist) so I thought I may as well post it here too, for posterity:

twenty-five

1. I have been on the fence about doing this 25 THINGS thing… First, I was going to ignore it, then planned to make up 25 facetious things, but in the end just decided to do it. That internal mental tussle between different options, that ends in doing nothing new at all, is the state of my mind at any given time; passionately ambivalent about most things. The wheels are spinning constantly but forward progress (if there is any) is slow.

2. I am the first member of my family (on either side) to be born outside of Australia for 4 generations, which is very rare down there, where most people have shown up rather recently. I alone was born in Scotland. My parents met at university and had moved to Edinburgh while my dad was completing his studies and, once he was done, they moved back to Australia where the rest of my siblings were born.

3. As far as I know, even though my family has been in Australia for quite some time, there is no convict in my ancestry. This has supposedly been verified on my father’s side; a point of pride for my dad but actually a great disappointment to me… I haven’t given up hope that a long hidden cut-purse or pick-pocket will someday fall out of my mother’s side of the family tree if I shake it hard enough.

4. My earliest memories are from growing up in Tasmania, some from possibly as far back as 2 years old but it is hard to date them because there is nothing in the memories to place them into a time-line. The first memory that CAN be positively dated is of my baby sister Rachel, from when I was 3 years old, because she died when I was 3 and a half. I remember that day too. My father and I are the only two people left in my family who have any memories of her. If she had lived she would have been 42 now.

5. Most men have experienced a time in their childhood when they felt bullet proof. I never had this feeling myself. Although I feel childish now as an adult, back when I actually WAS a child, I felt like a feeble old man. Water terrified me back then, probably due to an episode when I was kick-boarding in the sea at around the age of 5. When the kick-board was flicked out of my hands by a wave, I went from misplaced confidence to abject terror within two gulpings of sea water. Thankfully, my dad spotted me going under and was able dive in and fish me out in time. Consequently, I didn’t learn to swim until I was about 17. That is very rare in Australia where your typical kid can swim almost from birth.

6. I look atrocious in a Speedo.

7. Many years later, when living in Japan, I was at the most crowded beach I had ever seen in my life; an absolute sea of humanity covered the sand. I went up onto the heads for a better view from which to take a photo of the crowd (otherwise nobody would believe such a scene back in Australia). Just below me, a group of little kids was out in the deep water with kick-boards. No sooner was I reminded of the day that I lost my own kick-board many years before…. than one of the kids was caught in the backwash of a wave coming off the rocks, lost her kick-board and went under the water. She was a long way from shore and the life-guards. So, without pausing to take off my shoes and clothes, I jumped in and grabbed her. It was impossible to clamber back up the vertical rocks, so I swam for the shore, which was hard going due to the extra weight of my sodden clothes. Anyway, I got her to safety. This is one of my proudest achievements, certainly the one where my presence on planet Earth made the most difference to someone else.

8. I am not sure who is the more cruel; Father Time or Mother Nature.

9. I have a wine coloured birthmark on my back that I didn’t even know about for years, because it is in my blind spot and nobody had told me about it. I got quite a fright when I saw it in a mirror for the first time, as a self-conscious teenager.

10. My role as the eldest child was to flush out all my parents’ bad genes to spare my siblings from asthma, excema, allergies, high blood pressure and who knows what else… I’ll probably be bald in a year or two whereas all my 4 brothers have hair thicker than coonskin caps. Despite all that, I have very good eyesight and excellent teeth. At least, I did last time that I checked… I haven’t been to the dentist since 1997 nor the doctor since 1998. I don’t like medicos and their negative trip; “you have high cholesterol” “you have an enlarged prostate” blah, blah, blah…

11. I am agnostic about everything I can think of. When other people emphatically state anything with absolute certainty it mystifies and even annoys me… However, I must confess that I am a bit jealous of the self-righteousness that must be the dividend of their dogma investment.

12. As a small child, I used to believe that we all went to some “real” place when we dreamed. According to my childhood cosmology, if you saw someone in a dream it was because both of your minds had actually met each-other in some fantastic dream-place, a sort of sleepy-time heaven. I now realise that this is utter bollocks but I still like the idea anyway. Sadly, I rarely remember dreams any more. Maybe only twice a year. I’ve always had trouble getting to sleep, and once I have gotten there, also have great difficulty in waking up. Despite (or perhaps because of) those two facts, sleeping is one of my favourite things to do. Also, perhaps related to this lifetime of sleep deprivation, I have a really bad case of Yoda-eyes.

13. Speaking of him; Star Wars changed my life. The Phantom Menace changed it back again.

SW_memories_1

14. I can tolerate more than the average amount of filth and chaos in my apartment, or my work space, but I like the emotional spaces I inhabit to be minimalist; tidy and free of clutter. I have a hard time dealing mixed feelings or divided loyalties… which is something I need to work on. I am only just realising that life is about achieving a balance between opposites rather than purging one for choosing the other.

15. Anyone who says that I have a fear of emotional commitment clearly has not seen me hold a grudge; till death do us part.

16. I have definitely been in love at least once- either that or it was Stockholm Syndrome- and it is probably true what they say; that true-love never dies, but what they don’t tell you is that the permanence is actually the worst thing about it.

17. Drawing was an escape for me when as a kid. Sadly, I’ve lost that aspect of it now that it’s a job that I get paid to do but my fondness for both it and animation (which I’ve had as long as I can remember) has not diminished even after working in the industry since the age of 17. If I wasn’t working in Animation who knows what I would do…. My current outlet for personal expression, outside of my professional work, is making comics in my spare time… which combines a love for drawing with a recently discovered interest in telling stories. The problem I am dealing with now is reconciling the desire to say something with the fact that I have nothing very original to say… which leads to a curious blend of feeling both full and empty at the same time. But Auden said: “Art is clear thinking about mixed feelings.” so maybe there is some fuel for material there after all…

on_drawing_1

18. There is so much focus on winning in our culture; stories about winners and how to be one… but it is the stories about losing and losers themselves that I am drawn to. I think that it is funny when we call other people “loser” as an insult. By definition, there is only one winner in any event, which makes all the rest of us losers. I learned to identify with being a loser years ago and I have a lot more peace of mind now because of it.

19. I have done hardly any traveling in my home country but way more than my fair share elsewhere in the world. I lived out of a backpack for about 5 years straight, during which time I travelled throughout Asia (while working over there in various animation studios) and also explored both North and South America and did a bit of looking around Europe. I still have a mental image of myself as some global hobo, but the sad fact is that I am fairly sedentary these days. I still have some adventures that I want to go on, so I may strap that backpack on again sometime soon….

20. During a backpacking adventure trip through South America, myself and my childhood pal Peter narrowly avoided jail time when we discovered that some rat-bags had been smuggling drugs under our seats. After our intercity bus had passed the security checkpoint outside Lima, searched from end to end by fierce-looking guards bristling with weaponry, the two shady characters sitting behind us pulled about 8 bags of coke (or heroin or god knows what) out from slits under OUR seat cushions, flashing the two gringo patsies some shit-eating grins as they left. By the time we figured out what had actually gone down, they were off the bus… It was a sobering moment when we realised what would have happened had the guards found the stuff… I would be Facebooking now from a Peruvian prison.

21. My palate can only hear foods when the volume is turned UP; Indian, Thai, Hunan… and some of my best friends are carbohydrates. The smell of baking bread, or any pastry, is irresistible to me.

22. I’m a late starter and slow bloomer in just about everything. I still cannot drive. I am not at all acquisitive; by the time I buy the “latest thing” it is already old news. I don’t own much and the stuff do I own I’ll keep for years. While working in LA a few years ago, a friend referred to me as an “LA quadriplegic” because I didn’t drive or have a celphone. When my old analog TV dies, after the switch to all digital broadcasting happens, I probably wont buy a replacement.

23. Though raised in a rural area, I am a city person at heart. Sure, cities are the orifices of the planet and disgusting sometimes… but orifices are the places where you have the most fun.

24. I have never understood poetry. I know that is a deficiency in me. I like the use of the word, as in ” that movie was poetic” but, although I enjoy lyrical, poetic qualities in many other things, I cannot connect with the real thing at all. Poetry always seems like a song that is missing the music, to me.

25. Being ironic was once the way to go; I looked up to people who always ” took the piss” and could see through hypocrisy, the manipulations of the media and whatnot. That approach still has its place… but after I realised that detachment is my natural state anyway, and that I need something in opposition to my over-active Bullshit-Detector to achieve some balance in life, I am now grateful for those rare books, artworks, music, experiences and people that burn away the fog of sarcasm once in a while, and allow me to truly feel something.

  12 Responses to “Twenty Five”

  1. I love your list! I just love it:)

  2. There's so many quotes that I'm gonna steal from this list for school papers (I'll make you into a highly acclaimed world anthropologist or something). "Poetry always seems like a song that is missing the music." "I am not sure who is the cruellest; Father Time or Mother Nature." – so good- the water story is pretty amazing. Almost drowning and then being saved. Then saving someone who was drowning. I can relate with #18 so much. For some reason when I get to know someone's flaws and screw ups, I like them way more than the perfectly programmed robotic-like achievers. <– After writing this, I realized that it's just me admitting that I'm a loser. :)#22- I respect that. You could probably write 100's of other interesting facts based on all of your world traveling (which by the way I'm very jealous of). Where's the crotch sniffing story? 🙂

  3. You are a wise man. Teach me!

  4. #15 Hi-lar-eee-us. Oh, and good call on dropping the sarcasm. It's too easy, and a bit of a yawn, really. I remember I thought that if I ever stopped, I'd instantly turn into a one-note, annoying, Up-With-People-style bore. Once I stopped, I realized it's the sarcasm that's one-note & annoying & a bore… not as bad as the up-with-people folks, but, still…I'm glad you chose to do this up right. Though I'm sure the facetious list would have been much fun too.

  5. I love your list James and am reminded why I have always enjoyed the way you see. Thanks !

  6. #6- If you're not going to post a photo, perhaps you can post a drawing.

  7. #1 Understandable…my response to the request was flippant, but mostly it creates a conflict in my head between how I want to be seen and how I can be seen (which I would consider normal). Some people seem to be doing the 25 things as a attention getter more than anything else. Two of them, yours and another friends of mine has been touchily vulnerable and have required a lot of bravery and thought. I have to commend you on your willingness to present this kind of information about yourself.#7 Amazing-and you should be proud#11 Don't be, they are scared and pathetic in their false security#13 Hilarious!#17 Change the nature of your interpretation-those of us who create are the story tellers and it is our interpretation that helps create and influence points of view.#18 Smart#20 Lucky#25 Phenomenal

  8. Man you set a the bar pretty high but I will try to live up to this…I will work on my list and post it ASAP 🙂

  9. #3 – I just recently found our "cpnvict" – Samuel Clift of Breeza Plains. Now I find I have family in Tasmania, NSW and NZ. And I hope they're all faring well in these bush fires.

  10. You look GREAT in a speedo – or so John tells me.

  11. Jamie, I generally hate the “25 facts” challenges myself and I’ve had about 25 requests on Facebook that I like to ignore.

    However, yours is interesting, and I’m glad that you took the time to finally do it.

    I also like that you’re interested in the stories of losers… and the fact that most of us are “losers” too.

    Anyway, it was superb seeing you at WC (Dawna says hiya!), and I’m glad you gave me that cake product thing.

    It was powerful, but not as much as your laughter.

  12. Prior to reading “Thoughts” I sent you an e-mail with attachment. I just got off the phone with my daughter and now understand Face Book. I enjoyed your candor. I learn from others much now, than in my past. Thanks for sharing…

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