I reached a momentous point in my life this week, and I wanted to document it. For the first time in my 17 year work life – and roughly equal number of workplaces (an average of one per year, it’s true) – I received a promotion. The job itself is not important, for this piece. What I wanted to record was my emotional and mental state at this time.
As I left the house yesterday morning, the words that came to mind were “neurotic”, “anxious” and yes indeed, “febrile” (as in, “nervous energy”). I could not help noticing that iTunes Genius selected The Killing Moon, by Echo and The Bunnymen as I walked down our street to the station in the dark. As I passed one house, the sensor lights automatically switched on, and I flinched the same way I do every morning. It’s a reflex.
“Fate, up against your will”
Ian McCulloch intoned, and I found myself gravely concerned about the end of life. I saw myself as a lonesome traveller in the dark; I had to leave Littlest Miss H alone on the couch, first watching Cinderella; then Finding Nemo. She had wrapped her arms around my arm as I sat next to her to eat my WeetBix, and each time I wanted to take a mouthful I had to extricate myself from her embrace.
I was stepping forward, my teeth were gritted, I was grimly determined. I already feel overwhelmed with the enquiries I receive in my current role, and I’m about to expand my knowledge base and responsibilities. I reflected on the wisdom of those who advise to be careful what you wish for.
As the City Loop train passed from Flinders St station to Southern Cross, I looked out the window at the lights on King St, next to The Grand Hotel and from the carriage I felt like a ghost observer, already dead, and I thought about my previous job, working as Night Manager just up the block on King St, and I thought about my dreams as yet unlived, and unfulfilled. The dream of filmmaking, my experience and knowledge of Melbourne by night, that is not dead. That dream will not die.
I emerged from the underground Flagstaff station to Sugar’s The Act We Act, and I was walking like a zombie, in slow motion, my feet heavy in my Colorado boots. The same boots I wore on location in South Africa all those years ago, working as Second Assistant Director on a German telemovie. The time I had sunk a lot of our money into trying to reclaim my happy childhood life in Africa, and merge it with my desire to work in film. I was fired from the crew, because – in the words of Paul Westerberg – “they said I had an attitude”.
Magnapop’s Slowly Slowly blistered on afterward as I walked through Flagstaff Gardens, and it brought to mind again nights on King St working at the short-lived XS nightclub; oh yeah, I was thinking of all my failures past, it was a gloomy retrospective late late show, all the low points of my life flashing before my eyes on my deathbed. And all this, because I had secured a job that I wanted!
There was a ghost tree dividing the path before me. As I walked on, a pile of vomit was splattered in front of a park bench on the path. I could imagine the reveller or junkie sitting in that seat, leaning forward to hurl his or her guts out. A silhouette passed me by with a small orange spot glowing before his bent head, and I smelled cigarette.
Up on the seventh floor, the lights weren’t on yet. It was not yet 6:30AM. I was first in the building. I was ready for the change. Training starts on Monday.