Monday, March 18, 2019

The More I know, The Less I Understand






I don't understand anything. I devour so much information, but I don't understand anything. I just don't get anything at all.

I don't get religion. I'm just not religious. When I'm thinking logically, I just don't believe in a God, a creator. The stories in the books made up by men thousands of years ago, the division those stories have created... the fact that people let these stories rule their lives sometimes with violent consequences, I just don't get any of it.

And yet from time to time, walking through a quiet cemetery, looking at the names in Poets Corner in Westminster, thinking of Gaudi sleeping in his Sagrada Familia, I feel something. I don't know what it is, this feeling. It's emotion. I was holding back tears in Westminster and each time I've wandered awestruck in Gaudi's church, and I just don't understand what it is. What is this feeling?

I get the same feeling watching a documentary about life, the universe and everything. Invariably I find myself shaking my head thinking, I just don't get it – what is it? The universe is so vast and life is so mysterious that, you know, is it so strange to blame it all on a great creator? What is it all? What is existence and where did it come from?

In Indonesia a few years ago a guide told us, if anyone asks you about your faith, just say you are a Christian because they simply won't like it if you say you are atheist. I agreed that this is what I would do, in this largely Islamic country, but I wondered why I should have to lie. Why does it matter to someone else that I have a different way of thinking to them?

On the island of Lombok, I remember the palm trees and the cowbells and the call to prayer. I felt peace. I felt their peace. They were praying and, I presume, also feeling peace. It was pure and beautiful and although I don't get religion, what harm was it doing to me? If anything, their faith was giving them peace and on a superficial level, it was giving me peace. I didn't understand the words being sung in the call to prayer, but I respected the sound and the sentiment and I guess yeah, I was touched by it.

Our fruit and veg suppliers were Muslim. They used to call me brother. We got to know each other, told each other our stories, had many laughs and treated each other with kindness. I thought of my guide in Lombok and wondered if I would have to lie to these guys about my beliefs. I didn't think so. They called me brother every time and I thought I don't care about your beliefs and my beliefs, if you call me brother, that's good enough for me, we are brothers.

If someone wants to pray, if they need their rituals, we don't have to understand it to accept it. We're all the same, we just have different ideas, and that's totally fine.

What I really don't understand is why an extremist, fanatic coward unleashes on a peaceful group peacefully going about their own business. I don't get it. I don't understand anything at all.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thespian


Recently at my Responsible Service Of Alcohol course... I hate these things. I hate any form of structured learning. I'm just shit at it. Always have been. I was shit at skool which is why I left at age 16. The skool thing was a joke, by the way. I know how to spel.

So anyway. Came to a point where we were told we had to role play. Confrontation situation where a drunk customer wanted another drink and the bar person had to refuse in the right way. I turned around to my team of two travelers, banged my palm down on the table and said, Giz a farking drink ya bastard.

The very polite Indian guy who was, in my mind, playing the bar tender, looked confused and asked my what I was doing.

Role playing. Like we were told to do. You're the responsible bar tender, I'm a drunk customer, and this French guy is the best man at my buck's night, so you know, Give us some fucking drinks ya prick. Another palm slapped down on the table. I was really getting into this. The Indian guy and the French guy, not so much. They just looked a bit confused.

I made the Indian guy play his role. The French guy was just silent, but that was okay because he was my best man and I was the belligerent one who had to be dealt with. There was conversational noise going on all around us. I looked around at the conclusion of our role playing bit and realised that absolutely no one else had done the role playing thing. They were just chatting. Even the instructor - who I had been expecting to be wandering through the room and taking notes, was just talking to a group about their travels.

I turned back to my Indian bartender and my French best man. Shit, I said sheepishly, sorry about that.



Monday, December 03, 2018

The Colourful And Curly Ride Of A Loser's Life.

I never thought I'd be this old. I look back and from this viewpoint, I thought I'd be dead already. Yet, here I am. In spite of my destructive ways, in spite of my hardcore partying days, I'm still, disappointingly, resolutely, reluctantly, still here.

So convinced was I that I would never make it to old age that I have never followed through with anything. One golden relationship, yes, but nothing else. No other life passions. Well yes, I am passionate about many things. My interests are infinite and ever increasing, fractals and kaleidoscopes of things and things and things of interest.

But career-wise, work-wise, nothing has sustained me. Why study one thing and devote your life to it when there are so many things. I admire people who can do this. I understand that this is the secret to success, but I have been completely incapable of doing it.

No formal qualifications and I've masqueraded as a chef, one time standing between Guilliame Brahini and Matt Moran at the Sydney Opera House, they having earned their chef outfits, mine merely a costume. I've been a magazine editor, freelance writer, interviewer of famous musicians and comedians, writers and actors. I've won a national award for my short fiction, been included in writing for academics and popular writers alike, have reviewed so much theatre as though I'm some kind of authority on all things drama. When in fact I'm just a bum on a seat who loves the magic of theatre.

But for all that, I am unqualified. I have no pieces of paper, and for the longest time this seemed to me life's ultimate joke. How the hell did I do this... how the hell did I get myself into this... how is it that I am coaching and teaching newbies in the way of coffee and seeing them go off into the world and become respected baristas in foreign lands... how... squint... how did that happen... how...

Now, however, it bites me in the arse, this lack of qualification. I am a journeyman. Knower of lots, expert at nothing.

I am old, unemployed, and seemingly unemployable. Looking back, what a colourful and curly ride it was. I think I just needed to have jumped off before now.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

When You Are A Loser

When you accept that you have lost at life, it gets easier after that.

Once Upon A Time In A Banged Up Little Cafe

I had so much love from so many random encounters this late in my life, largely because of the now-closed cafe. This is one of them. It's Jodie, Ann's helper who finally I had the chance to work with more closely front of house. Man, the laughs. Such a wonderful co-worker. Such a great friend. Such a beautiful encounter. I have been lucky enough to have had many such wonderful encounters, all unique, all kinda loving and amazing. I feel so much gratitude for these random encounters that have meant so much to me. Thank you, Universe, you have been kind to me.

Making Contact With An Angry Stranger

Just had one of those public transport experiences you sometimes hear about, and I feel emotionally overwhelmed. Guy gets into a crowded tram in track pants and no shirt. Nuggety guy, clearly in trouble, anger oozing out all over the place. He's right next to me, muttering and clenching his fists. I just watch him, wondering what we're dealing with here. Suddenly he takes a wild swing and punches the perspex divider between the seats and the stairs. People jump up and scream. I more or less know what I'm dealing with now, and I put my hand on his shoulder and ask him, hey buddy - what's up. He tells me women, man, women will fuck you up. He smashes his head into the perspex divider, and I can hear the zen in my voice as I tell him, don't do that, don't hurt yourself. He looks at me, we have eye contact. Okay. Don't let them fuck you up, I tell him. He waits for me to elaborate. I'm so calm as I tell him, stay calm and strong in your mind and don't let anyone fuck you up. He softens and asks me what I do for work. I tell him that I make coffee for people and I make them happy and I like making people happy because making people happy is such a cool thing. He tells me I am a cool dude, bro, and we have the first of several handshakes, and we exchange names. We talk some more about our plans for the night. He lashes out again at the door. I tell him seriously mate, stop hurting yourself, it's not worth it. We talk some more and he gets off the tram, asking for my name again. He points at me and tells me, thanks bro. I sit down in the crowded silent tram, and then I just start to feel overwhelmed by what just happened. I just wanted the guy to stop hurting himself. I don't think he was going to hurt anyone else, but who knows. I'm alone on this crowded, now silent tram, processing what just happened. And then all this fucking beauty happened. As people left the tram, they came over to thank me. Thank you for doing that. Thank you. You handled that really well, thank you for keeping us all safe. So yeah, feeling a little emotionally overwhelmed right now.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

St Julian And Hospitality.

Not much humour going on in Lee's head at the moment, but I did think this was funny... I just sent a poem off to a mag and at the end of the bio I said that I'd like to thank St Hospo, patron saint of hospitality, for supporting my less than impressive writing career. Then I googled patron saint of hospitality and found out about St Julian. 'St. Julian the Hospitaller is also the patron saint of clowns and circus workers, innkeepers, fiddle players, jugglers, childless people, and murderers.'

Yairp, that's hospitality.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Angel Whisper

The tassels at the back of my beanie
touch my neck
like an angel's fingertip's
gentle caress
and the angel tells me
it's okay, it's okay

Saturday, August 04, 2018

I Cried

Today in the cafe... it was a good day. Busy, but more importantly, many laughs were had. I can't express how fortunate I feel to be working with the current Team Awesome. Ari and Jodie are amazing humans. It's really sad to think that our paths might never have crossed, given that I can't imagine them not being in my life.

At the end of this beautiful day, an older guy comes into the cafe. He's on the phone organising coffee for other people. He says into the phone - yes, that's where I am now. Does Veronica want a chocolate brownie too? No? All good then. See you soon.

He orders three coffees and the chocolate brownie. I think it's a bit odd that he's wearing sunglasses on this overcast day.

As I make the coffees he tells me brightly, "Your coffee is highly rated by my daughter. She loves your coffee. She thinks you're the best barista in the area."

Naturally I'm happy to hear this and ask who his daughter is, thinking she must be a regular, maybe one I know by name.

"Oh, we've been in here a couple of times." His tone suggests I wouldn't remember them. Not regulars then. "My daughter is in hospital."

I keep glancing at him in the mirror, trying to remember. There is something there, but those sunglasses make it difficult. Then it comes to me.

"Have you both been in her exactly twice? And did you sit at that table by the door both times?"

He smiles at me. "Yes, that's us."

I remember them clearly now. They made an impression. They struck me as a loving father and daughter. I remember her plain beauty and something about her presence, her vibe. She seemed to me to be enthusiastic and appreciative. I remember her mentioning hospital and thinking she doesn't seem to have any injuries and seemed in good health. Maybe she was referring to someone else, I thought at the time.

Back in the present, I asked the man if his daughter is okay.

"Well... yes," he says through sunglasses clearly not worn as protection against the glare. "She has mental health issues that she has to be hospitalised for sometimes."

"Ah. I'm sorry to hear that. I do remember you both. She seems like a lovely person."

"Oh you got that right. Lovely person." In that tone, I can feel the love. "There's just this thing we have to deal with. We just have to get through it."

The transaction done, I tell him that I hope his daughter is okay and that I hope he is okay. I tell him to take care. He thanks me with a smile and leaves the cafe.

I close the door and... I don't know exactly what it is... the fact there is so much care and love about him or the fact that he is doing this mundane thing like buying coffee and sweets before returning to whatever it is that they have to get through, but watching this basically very decent, loving, gentle old man cross the road, it breaks me. Alone in my banged up little cafe, I just cry. I really fucking cry.