I’M PROUDLY A MEMBER of the NTEU, because on and off, I’m a casual academic, amongst other places, at the University of NSW. Generally they’re a pretty good union, but every now and then they drop some piece of communication to their members which sets me off. Boom! Papers go flying around my ‘office’, cups of tea get drunk, drafts get drafted. This morning the following made me breathe deeply and try to imagine calming blue surf while I was on my bus:
I VOTED JUST NOW for Anthony Albanese in the Australian Labor Party’s leadership ballot.
ROUTINES MATTER. MY GRANDFATHER could roll and light a cigarette one-handed, without spilling any of the tobacco from his pouch. My own morning routine involves dismantling and refilling a stovetop coffee maker, which I’ve discovered I prefer even to someone else making me a coffee at a shop, in a much better machine. I think my grandfather and I—apart from respective addictions to habit-forming substances—share a taste for ordinary rituals of making and busy-work. Disassembling, washing, refilling and heating the machine does a wonderful job of occupying time and activity while I wake up, and it’s not the same if I just hand over $3 for the same drink in a paper cup. I can well understand the dilemma of the quitting smoker, who asks herself or himself, hanging desperately out for a denied cigarette, never mind the actual drug, what am I supposed to do with my hands?
YOU WAKE UP UNDER a slowly rotating fan, the sweat pouring from your body onto the sheets of the bed you barely remember sleeping in. A tatty venetian blind casts narrow shadows across the room in sepia. One of The Doors’ songs, naturally, plays slowly, as you give a monologue describing your mental disintegration, and the progress of your terminal journey through another country’s trauma.
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