PD through PD

Personal Discovery through Professional Development.

I spent way longer on that title than I wanted to.

 

I’ve done a lot of learning and growing in recent times. My work has taught me so many things that I probably would never have learned otherwise, and it’s kind of hard for me to keep track of it all. Every tiny nugget of wisdom changes who I am and the way I move through the world, and week after week, month after month, all those learnings are adding up to something quite spectacular. I feel like my heart is growing, and I can care more easily and more deeply. I’m also learning a great deal about not caring too much, and knowing where I end and another begins.

 

That’s why I sat down at my computer this morning and started reading about burnout. I’ve noticed in the past few weeks in particular, my patience has been at an all-time low.

Working in mental health, sometimes the people that I support seem (to me) to be “stuck”: they’re in pain, and they don’t want to do anything to change their circumstances. As someone who loves to rescue people, it’s been challenging for me checking my inner-white-knight and being with people where they are. I’ve felt a lot of frustration and, in the case of one person, two years of it built up week by week until I finally realised I couldn’t hold onto it any more and I had to share it. My manager and I sat with the person and I let some of those emotions out from behind the dam and it was cathartic. I realised that my frustration was actually concern, and that all I wanted was the best for the person and I was worried about them.

 

Since then, I’ve found it really hard to keep my frustration removed from my client interactions. I’m really struggling to sit with people where they’re at because I want so badly for their lives to be different. And that’s an interesting one that I’m still working through: How can I still care about the people I work with, without caring so much that it drains my cup? The solution, I think, are boundaries: in a nutshell, being okay with not taking on other people’s stuff.

 

I find it amazing that three weeks I was noticing these experiences and I didn’t really take any heed of them. Looking at them in hindsight, they are increasingly alarming signs that I was heading towards burnout. I’m grateful that it was brought to my attention seriously, so that I can give it the serious attention it merits. I’m more aware now of what I’m feeling relating to work: what feels good, and what feels draining. As my awareness grows, I’m more informed about the decisions I make: what boundaries to set down, and how I want to work in a way that is sustainable and joyful. I want to value self-care more (which, even as I write it I’m thinking “I don’t have time for that, my black belt grading is coming up, I’ll self care in two weeks from now”) and be okay with letting myself rest and heal more often. I want to continue developing methods of decompressing between appointments and after work, maybe seriously get back into meditation and reconnect with that well of inner peace within me.

 

I don’t really know where I’m going with any of this. I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, and the cobwebs of nightmares still cling to me. I guess I just wanted to say, to myself and the world, that I value my wellbeing, and that I’m continuing to work through stuff. I am continuing to seek that balance between growing and resting, and I’m getting better at it all the time.

The Best of the Breath: Part 3

This is the third, and probably final instalment of my favourite moments from Breath of the Wild. If you’d like to read my first two, you can read them here and here.


Several times upon my journey I came across a young couple named Tye and Sorelia. Newly married, they were roaming the forests of Hyrule looking for the rare flower called the Silent Princess. Tye had heard rumour that, if you declare you love before a freshly plucked blossom, you and your partner will live a charmed life. He had intended to venture out into the world on his own to find his flower and swear his love by it, and Sorelia could not bear the thought of the danger he was exposing himself to on the quest. She decided to buckle on her adventurer boots and go with him, to protect him and to share in their adventure together.

When I heard their story, the first thing I did was reach for the Silent Princess in my pack. I thought to myself, “Here at last is the end to their journey! No longer will they need to huddle in the rain and fight bokoblins every day.” And yet speaking to them, they were both overjoyed in the adventure they were living, full of risk and passion. I decided not to give them the blossom they were seeking, because in a way, they had already found it.


In the village of Hateno, there was a strapping stableboy named Manny who pined after Prima, the young mistress of the inn. It was the stuff of cheesy adult fiction, except that Manny could not bring himself to utter a word to his beloved. He besought me to inquire what Prima wanted most in the world, and when I asked her, she invented the idea that she would only be interested in someone who could give her one hundred Restless Crickets. Manny begged me for ten, which I gathered for him, which he did nothing with. Apparently he was paralysed by anxiety and couldn’t bring himself to find any others.

I however had no such compunctions. I took to the field, cutting grass and sneaking up on crickets day and night until I had precisely one hundred. I went back to the inn and, five at a time, dropped them in front of Prima. She did not thank me, and with an annoyed look, simply inquired whether I wanted a soft bed or a regular bed. I left her with her plague of crickets and turned my efforts elsewhere.


As I have said previously, combat has been my favourite part of the game. Eventually I became so adept that, for fun, I would drop down into a pit full of Guardians and fight off four of them simultaneously, deflecting beams back at their owners, darting in and out of cover, electrifying some, hitting others in the eyes with ancient arrows. For the ones that still had legs, I would cut them off with an ancient weapon before they even fully initialised, swinging my ancient battle axe in wild circles to end them before they even realised it had begun.

Imagine my delight, then, to discover that in the depths of a great canyon were the ruins of a Forgotten Temple covered in the decaying remains of Guardians. I strode right through the front door without attempting to take cover or stealth past them as five or six lasersights turned and locked onto me. Batting two of the beams aside simultaneously, I continued to walk right through the temple, an unstoppable force with impeccable timing, Guardians exploding all around me as I strode every forward. They protected an ancient shrine, and a priceless treasure: a statue of the Goddess Hylia in proportions scarcely before imaginable, easily ten times the height of me. It was a profound experience humbling myself before her and receiving her blessing.


I heard rumour of a ruined coliseum that monsters had since made their home. I could not resist the call of a good fight, and made my way across the mountains to enter it from above. I scoped out the place thoroughly, working my way around it from above and identifying what manner of creatures occupied it. Rather than approaching each of them stealthily as I normally would, I equipped my full Knight Armour (84 defence) and approached them in single combat, besting them one after the other. From moblins to lizalfos to bokoblins, and finally to the Silver Lynel at the base, I conquered them all without challenge. It was a brutal slaughter, and when it was over there was no one to hear me yell “Are you not entertained?!”

I was beginning to feel like the game had no more challenge for me. Until…


Far across the sea, I made my way to an island called Eventide. Once I set foot on the beach, the voice of an ancient monk resonated in my head and darkness overtook me. When I awoke, I had been stripped of all my armour, weapons and items, on an island full of monsters. My task was to find the three orbs and place them on their pedestals while surviving the trials of the night. It was exhilarating.

The first thing I did was avoid the bokoblins and set into the forest to find some tree branches as makeshift weapons. A storm came as I was carefully making my way across a bog, and I noticed that lightning struck the water not once, but twice. Curious, I pulled out my Sheikah Slate and discovered a metal chest at the bottom of the swamp. Inside it was a soldier’s sword, a much greater weapon than my humble stick. I foraged for mushrooms and crept through the night. I found a camp of bokoblins and killed them, cautiously using their campfire to roast my mushrooms and sleeping lightly until morning. It was exhilarating feeling so vulnerable.

It was a greater challenge still to fight a Hinox, whose healthbar far exceeded the capacity of my weapons to damage. It was only in hindsight that I realised I could have taken the orb around his neck by stealth, and instead I peppered him with the handful of arrows I had scavenged, broke most of my weapons upon him, and then used Magnesis to beat him with a metal crate for several minutes while he tried to climb the hill I was on. I was not proud of that particular battle.

By the time I climbed the summit of Eventide, I had acquired most of the weapons of the enemies on the island. I was once again a walking badass, a big fish in a small pond, and I was sad to end the challenge. The Trial of the Sword DLC looks to be exactly what I’m craving.


I always felt a little guilty exploring Hyrule, completing shrines, hunting dragons and spending weeks in the game chasing wild horses and falling stars while Zelda was locked in a life-or-death battle with Ganon. Whenever I spoke to Impa, she reminded me to save the Princess as soon as I could because she had been struggling for one hundred years straight and could use a break. When at last I unlocked the final memory, I realised that I did not want to delay any longer, and even though I had five shrines yet to be discovered, the time had finally come: I was going to assault Hyrule Castle.

My preparations were extensive. I made one hundred ancient arrows to deal with the Guardian Stalkers, Turrets and Skywatchers. I had already upgraded every single piece of armour in the game to maximum defence (save one pair of earrings which required a fragment of a falling star). From my home in Hateno, I took from their displays the weapons of the fallen Champions: the Lightscale Trident, the Boulder Breaker, the Scimitar of the Seven, Daybreaker and the Great Eagle Bow. As I was preparing, a blood moon began to rise so I cooked dozens of dishes to maximise my health and defend me against every element and condition I might face. And the dawn broke, I made for the Castle, not wanting to risk another blood moon whilst I was inside.

Inspired by the final memory, I chose to wear the Hero’s tunic and Hylian trousers, wielding nothing more than the Master Sword and a shield. It would have been safer to equip full Guardian armour, but I wanted the Ganon to know I wasn’t scared of him and was more than a match for his sentinels. I enabled the four talents of the Champions (I usually kept Daruk’s Protection and Urbosa’s Fury disabled because they interfered with my playing style) and strode right up to the Castle gates, cutting my way through dozens of Guardians and reflecting their beams right back at them.

Having announced my presence and defeated all of the sentries perched on the exterior of the Castle, I began to explore in earnest. I wasn’t expecting such a complex dungeon, and it took me several hours to uncover each of the rooms and their many secrets. I loved discovering the ancient barracks, whose inhabitants reached for the gleaming weapons on the walls when they noticed my intrusion. It was a great pleasure, too, swimming through the docks and finding the many ways which the palace might be breached. I felt a chill run over me as I returned to Zelda’s study and the lone Silent Princess growing there. When I discovered her bedroom nearby, I loved that she had a Royal Guard Bow on her mantelpiece, and I was deeply moved by finding her journal on the table. I was stunned to find that Link was not in fact mute, and chose to be silent for his own personal reasons. And what a thrill it was to find King Rhoam’s hidden study, where he wrote in his journal about the struggle he had with himself for pushing Zelda so hard to be the Princess his Kingdom needed.

Most exciting of all though, earlier in the game I had paid an absurd amount of money to a crazed shield surfer and he imparted on me the rumour that a legendary shield lay waiting somewhere in the Castle. After many hours of searching, deep in the bowels of the dungeons I came upon a test for knights who wished to prove their skill. The skeletal giant, Stalnox, lay waiting in a chamber for me to approach, and I defeated him swiftly and without issue. And then, after so many hours of dreaming, it was finally before me: the iconic Hylian shield, to join me at last, in the last of my adventures.

It’s hard to describe how much I love Hyrule Castle, and how much it means to me. It’s dangerous enemies, secret passageways and powerful items and that incredible music tantalised the adventurer in me. It might well be my favourite place in the game.


When I finally entered the Inner Sanctum to confront Ganon, we battled magnificently, and I loved every moment of it. After it was over. my save file+ told me that I had completed 46.15% of the game after sinking 185 hours into it. At first I didn’t know what to do with my life: I had been so invested in the adventure, and now it was finally over. Eventually I decided I didn’t want to 100% the game (those Koroks, man, I still had 635 of the 900 to find), but would at least find the remaining shrines to free those monks from their 10 000 year wait, complete the compendium (I had about 18 photos to go) and finish off the last side quest, cooking royal cuisine for that enthusiastic stablehand. I had finally relieved Zelda from her long struggle, and there will still adventures yet to be had. Hyrule is a large place with many secrets yet uncovered, and I have many hours ahead to experience them yet.

Reflections on 2016

2016 has been a bad big year for me. (That was a genuine typo, or perhaps a Freudian slip. I’m very tired.) Lots of people (myself included) have complained about 2016 as the year of Trump and Celebrity Deaths. And lots of people have urged these not to become the theme of the year: to choose to see love instead of fear, hope instead of despair. Lots of things have happened in 2016, and for me personally, and in many significant ways it’s been the most eventful year of my life.

Peppermint (The Muffinthief) Silvermane had just come into our lives, and I learned what it meant to be a responsible pet owner for the first time ever. I mean, I knew all the theory, I’d just never had enough responsibility to care for the welfare of another sentient being (apart from poor Lyota). It was a great challenge for me not to despair when she toileted all over Beth’s favourite rug and our bags, causing my black belt to reek of cat pee. I had never been so hurt and so angry in all my life, (except perhaps for that time the Sorting Hat believed I might be in Slytherin), and I really did consider giving her away again. My relationship with Peppermint is a work in progress, and I’m coming to terms with her infrequent levels of affection and her dislike for being picked up. We’re living pretty harmoniously at the moment.

I got married, too! A very big event indeed. So much organising, and so much money! Still, apart from the blur of congratulations and the extensive photo shoot, I still remember how beautiful my bride looked and how wonderful it was to spend the day in the company of friends and family.

Our second trip to Japan was incredible, and brought many new and treasured memories. Among my happiest moments were putting on samurai armour and walking the streets of Miyajima, grilled dango at Mt Inari, Anita and all her antics, and most of all HogwartsVisiting South Korea for the first time was quite an adventure in itself, and I’m very grateful to have formed the memory of Hot 6 on a Starcrafty night.

While I hate to talk about work, I must admit it was a huge year for my career as well. I started working on a new mental health project in my organisation, one that had some very rocky moments. It was, and is, a stressful and rewarding part of my life. I’ve learned so much professionally and personally, the growth I’ve undergone in my practice this year is quite immeasurable. (We also won the Outstanding Team and Team of the Year awards!)

I’ve done three chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) performances this year, mainly o-temae, and acquired enough implements to perform ryakubon (a portable tea ceremony using a platter) and chabako (a tea ceremony set to take on picnics). To my great sadness, my teacher has returned to Japan (though she will visit in the following months) and we shared a beautiful chaji (formal, themed tea ceremony including a kaiseki – a special meal and sake).

In my study of martial arts, I’ve undertaken some extra duties for the school as well. I clean and do extra training after every class, and it’s been wonderfully gratifying transforming the building week by week, item by item. As I said to another student recently, if there’s a piece of paper in the building I know what it says. It’s been especially rewarding for me to take the initiative and buy, clean and organise things for the benefit of the dojo, talk to the neighbouring shops to reestablish good relations, decorate for the holidays and create beautiful, open spaces so the building can breathe. I’ve been teaching more, too. I’ve probably taken about a dozen classes in the school, as well as teaching taiji to a group of Mum’s on a carer’s retreat.

Beth and I moved out of our small townhouse and into a unit with three bedrooms. Moving house is always a massive project, and it’s been fantastic having enough room to just spread out. I’ve got my study, a room of swords and computers, Beth’s got her den, full of herbs, books and crystals, we’ve both got a loungeroom that isn’t tucked under the stairs… It’s been a wonderful year for decluttering and refocussing.

 

Speaking of refocussing, I’ve actually got a few resolutions I’d like to make for the New Year. I’m going to try making them SMART (or at the very least, Specific and Measurable). They are:

  1. Watch The Appendices (Making of) The Lord of the Rings for half an hour every morning for a month, or until I’ve finished them all.
  2. Go for a run once a week for at least three months.
  3. Do weights once a week, preferably after every class at the Academy.
  4. Study Japanese for an hour at least once a fortnight. I’d love to say that I could do it every other day, but I don’t have a lot of desire to spend my extra energy on study outside of work and training!
  5. Be more mindful of food. This is a hard one to measure, but maybe

Welp, it’s looking like this year will be a good’un. Can’t believe the end of year holidays have passed by so quickly. Here’s hope, for a bright 2017.

10 000 views

10 000 views already! Seems like a milestone to come upon quite quickly. It feels like only a few months ago I posted my 1000th blog post (when in reality it’s been two and a half years). As I said in that post, at the height of my blog’s popularity I was averaging 200 views a month (between 5-14 a day), which frankly astounded me because I had never intended for anyone to read it except incidentally. Changing the name and url of my blog drastically cut down views because google still linked to my old url’s which no longer work, but since that change they’ve slowly built up to about 150 views a month.

And you know what my most popular post is? Outstandingly, by a huge margin, it’s my Katawa Shoujo: Shizune and Misha’s path. Why this one, and not any of the other excellent (better?) ones? No idea. Must be one of those situations where its popularity builds upon itself. I guess my blog is going to be known for my love of that game that made me a better person. (To be fair, I did put a lot of effort into those posts.)

To celebrate my 10 000th view, here’s the long-awaited sequel to my favourite search terms that people have typed into google to find their way here. (For the original lists, see here and here!)

  • “weald and orgasm videos”
  • “arrogant taekwondo instructors” and “arrogant oh do kwan”
  • “neaning of scalebtino” (This redirected someone to my blog on the Kinsey Scale. Probably not what they were looking for! XD)
  • “what does it mean when you dream calling xin?”
  • “how to weald the kung fu long staff” (I’m so touched someone thought that I would have any idea.)
  • “the tao, violence, logos 1”
  • “morrowind taoist monk build” (YES! Someone getting into Role Playing as much as I did!)
  • “skyrim astrid hot” (twice!)
  • “master moy lin shin drinking whiskey” (Oh dear XD)
  • katawa shoujo changed my life (me too buddy. Me too.)
  • wu-wei dao karate belts
  • female ninja iga ninja village
  • old tatami apartment tokyo
  • “what could you prefer in a life patnar looks , intelligence &weald”
  • “aunty dreem weald bathing photo”
  • weald class big vagiena
  • “weald.sex.big.ass” (How my blog turned into some kind of porn database is beyond me)

Rambling life update

It’s been a little while since I’ve just blogged because I felt like writing. I’ve been missing the part of myself that loves to write, and I haven’t been sure what to write about these past months. So I’m just going to write about everything. I’m aware that the internet is a place that takes things out of context, and I’m cautious of maybe some people taking stuff the wrong way, but I just need to get it out of me, free-association style.

 

Things at the dojo have been going well. I haven’t trained in much karate lately, though I’ve recently taken on the condition to be at all the taiji classes to help with instruction as needed (though I’ve only taught the odd class or two). I’ve also taken on the job of keeping the building clean and presentable, and it’s something I take great pride in. I seem to have boundless energy for the endless list of chores that come with polishing a place I love so much, and it’s strange for me to vacuum and sweep and scrub for hours whilst my own house slowly gets dustier and dustier. I love so much creating beautiful spaces, and handling each object in the dojo and finding a new place to put it that makes it shine.

 

I’ve been really into Non-Violent Communication lately. One of the side-effects of organising groups at work around a certain topic is that I research the shit out of it and put something together in a meaningful way to me. I’ve noticed in the past months that I’ve been much more aware of my feelings and needs, and that my confidence to talk about them and make requests to meet them has grown too. It’s been so wonderful for me that I’ve been trying to help those around me gain the same knowledge so they can practice it too, and I can’t help but wonder if people are getting sick of me riding around on my high horse telling them how important it is to verbalise needs.

 

I’ve been wondering about a lot of things lately, to be honest. My self-esteem seems to go up and down. One day I feel I’m one of the best human beings I’ve ever met, and that I’m growing into someone courageous, generous and loving. The next I feel like I’m upsetting everyone I meet and doing more harm than good.

 

Today is one of the latter days. I’m feeling worn down from all the things happening in my life lately. I performed chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) last weekend, and the practice leading up to that took up a lot of potential rest time. Incidentally, it was a really beautiful day, and we served tea to so many people and brought smiles to their faces and joy to their hearts. Or so I hope. It was exhausting, though, giving so much of myself so that the day would go well (and so that I could help sensei as a way of thanking her for the beautiful wedding gift of a chakago). With that and all the extra time I’ve put into being at the dojo, either to exercise, teach or clean, I’m feeling so run down. Flags have started popping up to alert me to the fact I am on the path of burnout.

 

Two weeks from now I’ll be in a new house, and that’s so exciting and so daunting. I still have piles of journals here from my old place two years and two moves ago that I haven’t picked up, and I’m starting to think I should just chuck them out. I kinda think it’s unrealistic that I’ll successfully pack up all my worldly belongings over the next week and a half whilst continuing to work and train as much as I do.

 

I think what I need most is a few days of not very much. Watching Daredevil on Netflix (I got Netflix, by the way. Can’t believe we’ve lived without it for so long.), playing games (Uncharted 2 next? Finishing Guild Wars 2’s personal/living story? I’ve been on such a roll lately, I’ve probably finished a dozen games in the past few months.), spending time with Beth. What I don’t need is to worry about what people want, to vacuum or pull over to change a tyre or to hold a door open because I fear being judged. I desperately crave to be selfish and “unproductive”, doing things just for the pleasure of doing them rather than because it would be “the best thing to do with my time”.

 

I’ve been seeing a new counsellor by the way, for probably eight months now. She’s so much more than I realised I wanted; intellectual, curious, compassionate. It makes for a safe place to explore myself, and to examine unhelpful beliefs and values. What I’m working on at the moment is my chronic lateness, my beliefs around productivity, my inability to relax when there are other people around and my subconscious fear of negative judgements from practically everyone I meet. It’s really nice to do be working on my own stuff again.

 

Well, that’s it for now. I’ve got other stuff to explore, and I’ll do that privately. Hope you’ve all been well <3

Painballing

I may have discovered a hidden talent of mine. Yesterday I celebrated my last week as an unmarried man by gathering my close male friends and shooting them with projectiles that travelled at 329km/hour. I had only been paintballing three times before then, with some measure of success but nothing outstanding. However at Paintball Skirmish (pretty good prices and a good variety of games, even if some of them were only a minute long) I seemed to find my calling.

 

I daresay I was the best player on the day: I usually shot three or four people per match, and I only got eliminated thrice in the ten games. I think my surprising success was due to an innate tactical knowledge, the ability to adjust strategies on the fly, and general skill with the paintball gun.

 

My previous experience had taught me that the trick to paintballing was to move frequently and be where the enemy did not expect you to be. The other 27 players largely found some cover, hunkered down and leaned out of cover to take pot shots at each other until someone got hit. Because headshots didn’t count in Paintball Skirmish, I felt safe to poke my head above a barricade and just survey the situation without fear of being eliminated. When I saw the opposition hide, I would move when they weren’t looking and catch them off guard.

 

Through this strategy, I was able to get well under the three meters required to force a surrender by charging around whatever they were taking cover behind and yelling “SURRENDER!” at them while shoving a gun in their face. (The last two of these was because I had run out of ammo and figured it would be more fun than waiting for the game to end.) While it was risky to be standing up exposed to the opposition team, waiting for the other person to throw their hand up and leave the field, no one shot me while I did it. I think the helmets of the other players (and the stress of the game) gave them tunnel vision, and they didn’t notice me taking out their team mates until I was in their face as well.

 

I found it very easy to use the paintball guns as well. Other people commented that the balls didn’t fly perfectly straight, and that it was hard to hit a target even if you were aiming right at it. For some reason it didn’t bother me the same way: I would take one shot at a target, adjust it based on that ball’s trajectory, and then usually hit the target with maybe one or two additional correcting shots. While they were haphazard, there was a general sense of direction, and I was even able to factor drop into my shots and fire over targets to hit people hiding behind them. It was easy to shoot one-handed as well, leaning my gun out of cover and then taking a few well-placed shots at targets. Through this skill, as well as moving from cover to cover, I single-handedly hit all six of the targets the fortress was attempting to defend.

 

I sucked a little more in the last few games, getting hit in the leg while behind cover. Not really sure how it happened, but kudos to whoever nailed me. The very last round where everyone was told to just get in there and discharge all their remaining ammunition at each other sucked royally. Because there were no longer any teams, there was nowhere safe to hide: I was constantly flanked, and the referee starting the game while I was standing in the middle of the field certainly didn’t help my cause. It was from this round that I acquired all my of bruises, one of which raised a lump on the back of my head. It was fun, but in the future I think I’ll avoid being shot from all sides.

 

Overall, definitely something I’d love to do again and see if I can improve on my tactical practice and skill. I’d like to try paintballing where headshots count (because it makes it riskier to survey the field) and see what difference it makes!

My 2002 Diary

Going through my childhood diaries has turned out to be more emotional than I anticipated. I mean, I always knew they got me down, though I hadn’t quite anticipated how much they’d affect me. Immersing myself in their contents for more than a few minutes at a time brings me right back to the way I felt when I was writing them, and that’s been a bit difficult to overcome. I’ll have to be more selective about which entries to read fully, which to gloss over and which to skip. As Bethwyn reminded me last night, “I am not that person. I am me.” Anyway, here are the highlights of my journal as an 11-year-old!

***

My brother and I bought our diaries at the same time, and he excitedly wrote a “fact” on the first day of each month. One of them was “As a stunt, a man ate a whole heap of lacky bands and then fell off a building. The lacky bands in his stomach made him bounce off the ground.” Classic creative genius.

***

Much of what I wrote was about the troubled relationship with my brother. He was cruel and punishing in those days, and yet I had so many good memories with him as well. For instance, he kept me indebted to him through an ingenious sticker system where I bought expensive stickers and then put them together in various combinations for modest prizes. He also sold me some tags which prevented him from opening doors, touching items and seeing or remembering things. (They were expensive, and didn’t seem particularly effective.)

***

As in my 2001 diary, I was very dramatic. For instance, I referred to a small patch of grass on the oval as “The Place that Evil Cannot Go”. Sapo was still among my closest friends (although I renamed him “Desdemona” from the Cairo Jim books), and I named Katrina my shorm (the person who I would trust with my life if they asked me for it) before I realised it was stupid. I swung wildly between hating and loving my closest friends.

***

I was still obsessed with finding someone to love romantically. In the end, I concluded I didn’t love anyone at school, not even Jessica Carroll my best friend who I courted for most of the year. In fact, she got so sick of my attention that she invented a friend named Melanie White, who she convinced me used to be in love with me and I’d forgotten all about her. I spent much of the year trying to get more details about Melanie, gathering information rigorously (including a phone call where I spoke to someone who sounded suspiciously like Jess putting on a voice). In hindsight, I’m pretty sure Jess was just trying to deflect my affections but was in too deep to back out of the complex spirals of lies she had to spin to keep me from harassing her.

***

Speaking of imaginary friends, I created an imaginary sister named Sarah, and an imaginary girlfriend named Velvet Dark (named from my favourite game at the time). I even wrote an elaborate story about how I reluctantly used violence to deter a bunch of bullies and win Velvet’s affection on her first day of school.

***

It was very important to me to keep announcing how bored I was, even though I was having fun.

***

I was pretty hardcore religious back then as well. I donated like 80% of my pocket money to charity, always took great pains not to use the Lord’s name in vain, and prayed the rosary just for the pleasure of it. When Jessica offered to teach me how to use her magical powers (healing, telekinesis, x-ray vision, telepathy, granting people speed and strength, making people nicer, powers of death and powers of resurrection), I refused them for myself because I considered it unholy black magic, even though they sounded really super awesome. I was obsessed with not sinning and taking God very seriously.

***

That made it really awkward to explore my emerging sexuality, and I felt really, really awful about becoming a sexual person.

 

***

I was also strangely obsessed with coming up with nicknames for Katrina.

***

After watching Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and playing craploads of Perfect Dark, I created an amazing game where I got points for shooting cars, cyclists and pedestrians while my Mum drove me places. I started off with my “Agent Peace” (sedatives) character, and when I earned 5000 points I would earn enough to “genetically transform” into Agent Destructo (explosives), Agent Blast (magnums), Agent Shocker (electricity and lasers), and even the legendary Agent Dark (pistols, machine guns, shotguns, blowdarts, radioactive grenades, crossbows and lightsabers). In each case I’d have a variety of different weapons and ammunition strapped to my body and clothes – I knew where each gun was, how many bullets it had in the magazine and how many spare magazines I was carrying for each. As we were driving around, my Mum would glance over and see my hands working furiously, spinning imaginary guns as I shot at passersby.

***

I invented a “trademark”, what I now call my emblem. Well to be fair I invented a few, though this one is actually meaningful and appeared on 30/05/02 in its earliest form. It’s a symbol I still use to this day.

Xin

***

I was really obsessed with privacy as I started my journey through puberty. I considered it the most heinous crime to have my privacy violated, and it happened surprisingly often as my friends shared secrets I told them and my brother punished me by going through my stuff. I think it was the start of me casting out on my own, believing that I could only trust myself and that if I just had enough strength I wouldn’t need other people. Even then I had begun to think about suicide. Sad and dark times were ahead.

***

Things weren’t all bad though. In one entry, I randomly wrote the following:
“I have incredible mental powers. Most people would have seen a psichiatrist by now, but not me. I can resist and smile very easily.”
I was a resilient young man, determined to face the world with a smile on my face, to forgive and to love in spite of my pain.

 

Reading these diaries has been an interesting experience for me. I’m not sure how I’ll go reading the next year, the worst of them. I think it will be elucidating and worth the effort though, so look out for that in the future. Now to go shake off all this old stuff that’s come back up.