Nah that's a lie. But it's easy to say to everybody. It's the small talk that keeps people off your back.
The truth, I've been selfish, really selfish. I haven't had the faintest interest in anyone's shit lately. Now I could go into every reason in the book to explain why that's the case, but in the true spirit of not giving a shit about anybody, I couldn't be bothered giving value with a response. It doesn't really matter anyway. Truth is, people listen to what they want anyway, and I'm no exception.
This kind of attitude has been good for me. It has set the stage for a form of weekend retreat away from myself. I would like to have an actual retreat, but that's not gonna fly when you have a full time job, a self employed business, and various other sordid affairs. It all came to head when my body has failed on many occasions, to be my friend. Migraines became constant, and neck pain unbearable. I can normally block that shit out, but it became so bad it distracted every facet of my life. I couldn't concentrate on a simply conversation anywhere without the pain becoming a factor. I'm not kidding, I would forget something I was told not ten minutes before.
So I finally went to the doc. And well .. How else can I say this? I'll just out with it .. I'm on meds. For long time readers you will know that this is the ultimate faux par in my twisted opinionated philosophy on life. Only take drugs for recreation, not for function. Yeah well .. in a moment of weakness, I took the plunge. It's a MILD dose of anti-depressants, and it's only for a few months. And well, I hate to say this, but it's helping. This may either be the ramblings of a emotionally numbed meds patient, or of a level headed reformist. But it has curbed the stress riddled life that I can't seem to escape these days.
It's funny when you numb yourself to the issues of others, that your own inner voice, that voice too strained and tired from shouting and not being heard, starts to get a word in. Imagine my ego's shock and horror when it finds out it know's you're there.
I cut my hours to the gym, and starting riding to work, this means I'm not driving very much, another luxury I miss dearly. I will go and see another therapist, it's been a while. The drinking and the drugging are forcibly reduced due to the meds, and that's probably a good thing. I've given up having those late night benders the way I used to anyway. For one I can't have all my friends under the same roof, they seem to find a way to deceive each other, in the end. Then I'm left to work out which lie I'm supposed to act out in front of the other. And makes that dreaded migraine come back.
So fuck it, I'll go people watching at the pub all by myself, or stay at home, have a nice bottle of wine, play my own music (of which I no longer have to justify to anybody), live in my dream world and get some sleep for once.
Couldn't really put that into 140 characters, some things need elaboration.
I have been accused of knowing a lot about very little, jack of all trades, master of none. This may well be the truest summation of my entire life, except for one. I have been, and whether I like it or not, continue to be, an expert of pulp fiction, in all it's wonderful forms. Since I was young enough to play a Michael Jackson record, I have learnt to appreciate the power of pop culture. I can recognise bullshit from twenty yards, the reason for this is simply because I loved it. As a child this was never evident at first, and at the risk of seeming disingenuous, resisted it. In other words, I truly believed my own bullshit, but I didn't want anybody else to know that.
Now my love affair with the words of nothing has faded, but I feel this experience, above anything else, holds me in good stead to truly appreciate this topic. So yes, where was I? ...
Bullshit has come in many forms, through many mediums over the years. Television, radio, newspaper, public speak, but my favourite I can safely say without any level of bias is .. The Internet. You must understand, when I adopted this strange marvel in the late 90's, I thought this would be the saviour of everyone, crossed borders, transcended religion, preference, race, class, and sexual orientation. You were truly bound by nothing, could speak to anyone you wanted, about anything, you only needed log on, and there you were. And there have been many things in my life that the Internet has provided me with. My gorgeous wife, my best friend, a wealth of knowledge on photography and design, an extensive music collection, and some very nice porn.
But of course, with a flood of convenience comes a new level of laziness. The modern human relies on the Internet for everything. Directions, shopping, friendships, relationships, interaction. A lot of these things rely on the warmth of human sensory, to truly make it real, to make it memorable, to make it worthwhile.
My work involves talking to people, and people don't want to talk on the phone anymore. A workmate commented on the fact that no one is concentrating on the phone when we call them. I answered, because they don't care anymore. They have the option of spouting their opinion into the ether, without a face at the other end, no consequence, no alter opinion, no devils advocate, nothing to challenge, nothing to teach, nothing to learn, nothing to grow. This is why you must sit back, and bask in the magnificent bullshit that is, The Internet. There is no better way to incubate bigotry, create new and amazing ways to forward ill informed, ill advised, anonymous, non sensical, bullshit.
So then I turn on my Facebook feed to reveal a viral video involving a Ugandan tyrant called 'Kony'. I watch the video, well most of it. After all, YouTube has eroded my attention span to the average length of a video to about five minutes. I make a few smart ass comments, before I know I'm being crucified for making a joke. But I ask you, what good will come from clicking 'share', with the same gusto I share a video cat playing the piano, or a funny meme starring Willy Wonka, or a fat kid body slamming a kid teasing him, or a Rick Astley 80's film clip?
You see the problem? Every thing you say, every thing you do, on the Internet, commands about five seconds of your attention, and before you can click on the next bandwagon to jump on, you've forgotten why you were so passionate about the thing you just clicked on in the first place.
Where were you when I was seeking support against the Gulf War in 2002? Where were you when the scientific journals made it official that climate change was a very real and present danger in our society? On a more personal note, where we you when I was depressed, reaching out for help, in the middle of a suicide? All of this was made very public, by me, and on the Internet. It wasn't crafted into a well produced 30 minute video, using graphics of the circling earth, in high definition, to a soundtrack. They are still very real, and they still happened. Point in fact most of these 'issues' that have occurred in the last 10 years, during the Internet age, fuck all has been done about it, and I'm starting to lose hope that anything ever will. So will excuse my cynicism of the generation that made a home in the Internet, says a lot, but does nothing about it. The bullshit will reveal itself.
My boss made a very good point the other day. He thinks 'social media' won't be all it has cracked up to be. In his opinion the medium will get hyped beyond itself, the bubble will burst, and the original ideas that the Internet created will eventually be overrun with disingenuous messages, fuelled by messages of commercialism and ulterior motives. In other words, people will see through the bullshit, and everything will become pulp fiction. Because the Internet might breed dumb mother fuckers, but smart people still exist. I'm just convinced they no longer exist on the Internet.
But you know what, if you want to prove me wrong. I invite you, I urge you, fuck, I beg you! I'm too old and too fucking tired to continue to scream to an audience of none. You have everything I do not, so stop talking about it, and do something about it. And I'll give you a clue, just clicking a mouse won't do the job.
Conventional wisdom tells you that, age and time tend to sort through various stages in your development. In your teens you make mistakes, in your twenties you learn to overcome those mistakes. In your thirties you forge your own path, and work hard to progress, and if you work hard, pay attention, in your forties you can reap the rewards.
Slight problem though, what if you're about ten years behind the game? What if you spent ten years going around in circles? What if you see people ten years your junior passing you by? What if you see your old school mates, buddies, colleagues ten years ahead? It's not that I didn't live my life, far from it. The last ten years of my life has been wonderfully challenging and rewarding. I have so much to show for it, a deep and fulfilling marriage, a passion for photography, a handful of lifelong friends, and a hard drive full of memories. But while some things were discovered and invented, other things were put on the shelf. I went to sleep in 2002, and I woke up in 2012. I have pains in my body where I didn't have before, my conversational skills have left me, my sense of drive and ambition has been replaced with a steady malaise, and my never ending optimism and imagination can now only be found at the bottom of a wine bottle. How do you find the passion and the fire to do great things, when the key ingredient - youth, has gone?
I want to call myself a photographer, in many ways I am, but I can't take the next step. I try so hard to find people who can challenge me, teach me, collaborate with me, and all seems to be forthcoming, only to have everyone cancel at the last minute or lose interest in my ideas. So I continue not to grow, doing the same jobs that are always offered to me, which isn't enough to make a living off. Shit, I barely make any money off it at all.
And so therein sits my day job, Monday to Friday, in an office, on the phone, working for a great company, but working a lousy uninspiring job. I want to do more sometimes yunno, and someone younger has less responsibilities, less to hold on to, more mobile, more flexible. So I get opportunities, but I knock them back, so of course that leaves only one person to blame, myself.
This is when the self loathing kicks in. And I'm jealous of others, people that I love, respect and admire too. One feeds into the other, and the self destruction begins.
I had a little snap this week, lucky for most of the time I hid it well enough for people not to panic. Those who are closest to me saw the seams splitting, and it was impossible to hide it from them. That really broke my heart. I feel a little better now, but I'm still a little embarrassed about it.
So what's to happen about this? Honestly I'm not sure. Newcastle has served it's purpose in the past, but I'm not sure it's any good for me now. I have obligations to meet, and so I can't go anywhere for a good long while until they're done. So I might have to go back to sleep for a little longer. I just hope the next time I wake up, another decade hasn't passed.
I generally ramble on the Internet. Been doing so for ten years. I just can't help myself. So I find the best way to deal with that is to spread my crazy around across several places. I have tried just withholding information, but it just comes up inappropriately somewhere else.
Since the people that read this, are the people that know the most about me, I should introduce all of my crazy to you...
'the_untitled' was founded back to 2002, on here .. LiveJournal. There's a handful of you that are still around since the beginning. Most don't read here any more. In fact, I'm pretty convinced no one does. I take a great deal of comfort in that. The darkest part of me generally lives here. If you didn't know anything about me and only read this blog, I think you'd be very scared. I personally don't blame you. It wasn't always that way, but then again other social networks didn't exist then either.
Then there's my Tumblr, 'I Am Ampersand'. Ampersand (or the symbol '&') was an identity I took on after meeting the girl, my muse, that would later become my wife. It encapsulated the adoption of a new attitude, the embracing of all things, a new level of trust, a higher level of honestly, a greater level of transparency .. no secrets. This is where I cross post many things, most of my thoughts live here. It's mainly images, because that's how I communicate these days. I find words quite cheap, and images are a language I understand better. There's a few songs and words in there as well.
Over the past year or two I've been working on creating a photography diary. It has gone under several names. But in the end settled for Timmy Johnston, plain and simple. Here I talk about what I now consider to be the beginning of my life's work. It is the most official, and it represents my business, and my craft.
I did create a network, called Project REMIX Australia, loosely based around electronic dance music. To this day I'm not sure what to do with it. I used to have a lot to say about the state of dance music in Australia, these days I'm not so happy about the direction it is going. My heart's not in it, but I guess I'll see if I adapt it to an arts network. This all hinges on whether other artists are keen to collaborate with me. We'll see.
I do have a Facebook and Google+, but I have really got myself into trouble posting entirely way too much on there. Too many people can see it, I'm pretty sure it has limited my career opportunities and ended friendships. I think I've wised up to the friend filters that exist... now. I'm going to make a conscious effort to stick to location posts, links, and photo galleries, and leave the ranting over to Twitter. It's about as bare as my Live Journal these days.
So there you go, you know it all, pick your poison, or pick them all, if you dare.
During the Australia Day celebrations, I passed a stall displaying the ancestry of the 'First Fleeters'. That is, related to those that came out on the First Fleet to Australia. From my childhood, and school studies I know myself to be one. I was a descendant from settlers Anthony Rope and Elizabeth Pulley. I remember being quite proud of that when I was 14.
Today, I also had a long and detailed discussion with many Koori ancestors, about what Australia Day means to them, and as such marks a long and profound blemish on the knowledge of their ancestry. In short, it virtually wiped an entire generation, due to the 'White Australia' policy. The biggest historical blunder of the rather short settled Australian history that we have. One of the greatest shames 'white Australia' carries with them.
Despite the fact that I know about my ancestry, I'm not particularly proud of my generation, nor the ones surrounding ours. I don't think we have done very much with what we have been given. A weight that I have carried from an early age, maybe because at an early age I have been too intelligent for my own good. At least that's what people would tell me.
And so as the years go by, I have been humbled. By the past and the present. By my actions and those of others. In years gone by, the shame of it got the better of me, and in my prime, let it rot away at my insides. I was too ashamed to 'succeed'. Now that I know better, it's too late to make the most of it. Catch twenty two as it were. But hey, you live and you learn. No complaints.
Now that I feel like the book of my life is at the beginning of the second half, I start to wonder how the first half was written. Where do I fare? Where do I sit? And the scariest thought of them all, do we even have a future at all? So why does it matter anyway?
I understand that it is in our nature to either 'flight' or 'fight', this is the reason I believe we inevitably find ourselves in such a polarised debate right now. Tempers are on edge. Those who have given up are simply pig ignorent, while those who choose to get in there and get involved are finding themselves overburdened by the truth of the world, taking on way too much, and are feeling defeated.
So while I deeply sympathise with those who have been harshly done by in the past. My thoughts and fears do not lie in the past, but in the future. Bigger fish to fry as it were. If we can't seem the sort out the problems of the past, what hope have we got of any in the future?
So while it might appear at face value that I lack the sympathy for those that have been wronged in the past, I'm sorry, but it is not my intention at all. I'm just a little distracted by the meteor hurtling toward the earth, destined to kill us all, along with all the history, or in some cases, the lack of it. Either way, once it hits, it wont really matter to anyone, anymore, anyway.
The pieces are coming together .. by falling apart
I love the chaos, it's where I fit in, like the mortar between the bricks, a weak binding between a strong and dependant mainstay. I'm where others are not, to create the spaces that are needed to make the thing do it's work.
I'm where you are not. I don't copy, but I don't initiate, I imitate. It's not an original idea, it is, as old as time. A devil's advocate, if you will. To unbalance the equation, a reaction rather than an action. I'm not proud of it, as others would have led you to believe, somewhat ashamed, and attempts to rid myself of it, it still pops up when I least expect it.
I have always looked young, acted innocent, played the fool, it is only to play the part, in an act that required a jester. It was never really me, but only the part that was required for the job. When I was younger, I mistook it for who I am. When I was older, I mistook it for who I was not, wrong again. We deal the hand we are given, and we play the hand that was dealt. I didn't know better, and I put my best foot forward
Like all roles, can be typecast, become expected, often disguised as the actor themselves. But I am none of those things. So if I don't want everything you think that I am, and want everything I am, what do I want to be?
A conductor. A person that keeps time, disrupts movement and sound but keeps the orchestra playing. A man that plays no instrument, but keeps the song in time, a quiet observer, an inactive participant, but a quiet administrator.
I love the story, but I want the story to be honest.
And so as the small talk and the small life, gets smaller and smaller, until it disappears, slows down, quietens down, till it's as loud as the crashing waves behind the landscape of my mind's eye. And then in an instant, is gone.
So I continue to live in this world, it is wonderful, I may never leave. I just thought you might like to know
It's amazing what brings you around. For me it was a phone call, a drive, and a dinner.
The phone call came from a friend of mine. It was long overdue. She left me a message, I left her one back. She called me back and we talked. We haven't talked in 6 months. Not properly anyway. We realised that we haven't spoken in ages, and this simply wasn't good enough. So when I drove back from Sydney, and she had slept off her hangover, we should catch up. And that we did. Not a major deal, just for chats and burgers in the park, in the rain. It was perfect.
The drive did me good. Kel and I went to Sydney for the afternoon. We hung out with Danii, and we chatted about the frustrations of the last 6 months. We got to chat a little about the upcoming cruise. We normally go to a harbour cruise every year around Australia Day. And this year it appears to be back in the style that we remember. Just as we are coming back to attend. We're really looking forward to it. Kel and I got to chatting on the drive, and we had a ball in the process. Sure, we fought, but it was the good fight, the fight that makes we laugh, and makes me a better and happier person.
And of course we had dinner. We went to Sydney on the Saturday night. We had to go to King Street, Newtown. It's my favourite place in all of Sydney. We really wanted to go to Kilimanjaro, but when we arrived it was closed down. Shame really, it's my favourite (not to mention my only) African restaurant anywhere. But instead we went to Astino's and still managed to drink in the atmosphere. Always full of movement, music, people, and variety. If I could take the rest of Sydney away from Newtown, I would move back in a second. It was great to enjoy the atmosphere, free of the past experiences that caused us to move away in the first place. Kind of what it was like in the first few months of 2007, when we were new to the town and back from New York.
There is hope, I will hang on. And I will try to remember.
This will probably be one for the photo blog later on, but for now it's a random sprinkling of thoughts ...
It's a pretty tough time. You work hard for 5 years, you feel like you're at a stage in your craft where you finally start believing what everyone tells you. That you are that good enough, that you have talent, and that you deserve success and an abundance of work. Unfortunately the amount of jobs in Newcastle have dried up. Cancelled gigs, no email requests to events where there was once many, all emails to mentors and senior photographers have so far gone unanswered, and the people you hope to model for you have gone and chosen other photographers for their work (not a deliberate choice I know, but the timing really sucks). Hopes of moving in a new direction have all but fallen on deaf ears, and in the meantime the area that's your bread and butter have forgotten about you.
It doesn't help that I find no inspiration in this town, none. At this point in time I hate everything about this place, I can't find anything in common with anyone, and nothing helps me find inspiration in people. Hell, I feel like taking up landscape photography just so I can get a excuse to get away from people for a while. It's times like this I wonder why I ever left Sydney. Sure I know why I left (for personal reasons) and I'm glad we did for that. But in terms of my work, I feel like I've taken a huge step backward. I have bounced back somewhat, gained connections, found work, taken on a few new opportunities. It has however been a lot of work for very little.
So what do you do? Put the website on hold, stop the blog? After all, no one actually reads it. Once I thought I could follow the footsteps of Daniel Boud and create a great dialog along with ever improving photographs. What good is a dialogue if you don't have an audience. I already have an inner dialogue without an audience, that's right here. I'm constantly paying out money to maintain a site that has very little relevance. I find myself up late squeezing an entry in between the day job, gym, dinner, chores, photo editing, and sleep. I get half way through it wondering 'who the fuck is actually going to care that I wrote this?'. Why not just try to sell some photos and create a slick portfolio instead?
I think it might have something to do with my insatiable need to tell stories. To share an experience, and hopefully receive one in return. I could always try and be a writer, although I don't think my literary skills would stand up to that. My thought of being a teacher in the craft has always been in the front of my mind, but again I think about my failed attempts to gain a lot of demand in private tutoring in Newcastle, and wonder, is it me? or them?
Which I guess leads to me the point that I keep coming back to. Is this town slowly killing me? or am I doing this all on my own? Because I feel like my spirit is dying more and more every day, like motivational quicksand. Is the issue I'm having bigger than my beef with the city limits, or would I have this problem anywhere? So do I take the plunge, move again, to escape the problems I have, only to have to start all over again, the same way I did 2 or so years ago?
I promoted a free (yes that's right - free) photo shoot for Movember since April to go to the charity. A dozen guys had mentioned that they would love to take part. The last weekend in November rolls around and without any notice, I get a grand total of zero.
This is all starting to become a bit .. familiar isn't it?
In the last 6 months I have organised events, birthday parties, farewell parties, and now last weekend a full winery tour.
Would you like to know how many people actively voiced their express interest in going to one of these events? In total, it was over a hundred Would you like to know how many people have attended? In total, no more than five different people.
OK sure, people get busy, I understand that. But I don't like to waste other people's time, and I would hope to expect the same courtesy. So why is it then that when I talk to some people about my intention to organise something, get together for a proper catch up (not just some five minute conversation about work or the weather) and at rare occasions, something a little different, do they start committing to me their plans. Only to wait until the last minute, and only when prompted, do they pull out. To make matters worse, some don't even respond AT ALL.
It never used to be like this.
I accept that most people lack common courtesy, but I was hoping people would still have common sense. If you don't want to go, just say so. If you're not sure, just say nothing in the first place. Why express an interest when you have no interest in going?
You're probably thinking, big deal. This isn't high school, just harden up and get over it. Well, making friends, proper friends has been harder and harder to do. I find it harder to identify with anybody that shares my tastes, interests, and philosophy on life. I find it easy to hear everybody talking shit*, all the time. The most aggravating response, which occurs at an alarming rate, is 'well what about your wife?'. To which I respond by saying that she, unlike any of you right now, is amazing. She has an incredible amount of time and patience for me. But why must I have to be attached at her hip, there's only so much one wife can take from someone like me. And I bet you have more than one friend or associate.
Over the last 6 months I have been going through a lot of changes in my life, it hasn't been easy. Monumental shifts in the way I see and treat people have occurred with many growing pains along the way. The only real obvious places they have shown up is probably here, and the occasional short form rant on Twitter.
In this time, I have turned apathy to action, sought remedies and treatment on my physical pains. I've taken action, done the hard yards, and I'm proud of taking the difficult path. I put myself out there, try to be there for others, despite everything that may or may not have happened in the past, as a gesture of good faith. But in the end, no one cares.
So the store has closed, the shop has shut down. You're going to have to get your product from someone else. You can't say I didn't try to give Newcastle, your work, your circle of friends, or even your favourite pub a go. I know it's not me, i've examined me from every angle, been overly critical, made the necessary changes, and I passed with flying colours.
So in short, don't bullshit me, don't pretend to be something with me, that you're clearly not. I'll be on my way.
*talking shit by my definition is simply words that do not follow appropriate action, if any at all.