The Not So Romantic Comedy

Here we have the most pre-written (and no doubt rewritten) blog post so far!

So one Saturday I stood in place a short distance away, and watched a bride walk down the aisle towards me. This was always going to happen eventually. I knew that one day an old crush or flame would call upon me to celebrant at their wedding.

And in a way, I knew it was always going to be HER.

I remember another Saturday, far too long ago now, before I moved into the Mansion but while my friends Stu & Alyce still lived there, we arranged to meet at the local sports club, our regular haunt, for a few drinks.

However, as the time to meet grew near our friend Sangas had messaged to, once again, change the venue to his flat, as this was where we’d been continously hanging out at his and his girlfriend’s insistence for the last month or so both Alyce (Stu was out of town for a gig) and I were annoyed at having to go there again when the promise of the club had been made earlier in the evening.

When Alyce’s friend Autumn texted to see what she was up to, we decided to blow Sangas & his girlfriend off and go to the originally planned venue, especially as we could meet Autumn there now.

Being single I instinctively asked what I always asked at the time. It was a question of great forethought and intellect.

“Is Autumn hot?”

Alyce confirmed she was.

We met Autumn at the club and Alyce was right. Not only being hot, Autumn was also a lovely girl, friendly, personable, good sense of humour, did not act awkward about meeting a friend of a friend whom she’d never met before – even inviting me to a party at her house that was taking place a few weeks later.
(I wouldn’t be able to go – for two reasons, the first was Sangas was holding a fundraising trivia night the same night… the second we’ll get to shortly)

Over the next few weeks I would make every effort to go hang out with Autumn whenever Alyce did. A small part of me was so determined not to screw this up, I tried to date one of Alyce’s friends before and it had ended badly. So this time I made sure that Alyce was okay with it before I proceeded, and with helpful encouragement from her, I did. She even deliberately arranged a bowling night with the intention that I could get to know Autumn better.

Autumn brought a guy friend with her. Whilst Autumn was insistent he was simply a friend of the family, this would be the first hint that the ladder I was sitting on was not the ‘Relationships Ladder’ but the ‘Friends Ladder’.

(For a brief description of what I’m talking about with the Ladders check here:
http://laddertheory.cosmicgopherproductions.com/ )

However fully aware if I didn’t make a move soon I would most certainly be on that Friends Ladder I psyched myself up to ask out a girl. And one day after work I called.

Let me tell you now: I suck at girls.

Despite the fact I’m still single, I think I’ve gotten a lot better over the years, but this was not in the ‘a lot better’ period. This was in the ‘I wince a little when I think about it’ period.

So I called Autumn.

She picked up. She didn’t have my number, so I had to say who I was, and that was where it all went horribly wrong.

Oh Past Liam. While ‘mind vomit’ is a lot less of an issue now (unless alcohol is involved) it was then.

So it went like this:

“Hey Autumn, this is Liam. Alyce’s friend.”

Autumn seemed surprised, and a little confused to be hearing from me.

“Hey Liam, what’s up?”

It seemed so simple. Ask her to come to see the musical Alyce was in with me. Just her and me. She was going to go see it anyway. Half the work was already done. So simple. It would relatively hard to screw this up.

Don’t worry, I found screwing it up quite easily.

“So…. I was calling to see… to ask if wanted to go with me to see Alyce’s musical?” I did pause at the end of that sentence. Whether it was very long or it just seemed like a very long time I’ll never know. But after I paused at the end of the sentence I swear Autumn was silent for a while. Knowing full well what a ‘long pause’ normally meant when you asked a girl out… I panicked. And immediately wanted to fill the silence.

“This was just a long winded way of me asking you out,” I added. In case she didn’t know. It is not wise to say this. Especially not in that way. Not for a 23 year old male.

Another long pause. I opened my mouth to stick my incredibly small feet in there even further in there when Autumn finally spoke and saved me from further embarrasment.

Kind of.

“I’d really like to hang out with some more Liam…. just as friends though.”

Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.Shit.

Shit.

As the link above describes. This is what we call doing an unintentional ladder jump. From the Friends Ladder on to the Relationships Ladder. However, as with most ladder jumps, instead of making to the Relationships Ladder I instead was kicked in the head and plummeted straight into the Abyss.

I awkwardly got off the phone call. Grabbed a six pack of cider. Drove to an old dirt road in the middle of nowhere and drank the entire six pack. Being a complete light weight this wrote me off so I went to sleep in the backseat of my car and called in sick to work the next day.

When I recounted the tale, word for word, to Alyce she appropriately responded

“I can’t believe you said that.”

I know. I couldn’t either. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Even worse, we still had to go see Alyce’s musical together, since we were both going anyway. As friends.

A small part of me, with encouragement from Sangas that I could ‘turn this around’ (I couldn’t) hoped that perhaps I could work my way on to the Relationships Ladder from there.

The non-date pretty much cemented in my mind that wasn’t an option. Though we got along as friends I could tell the chemistry I wanted to be there was pretty one sided. Autumn ended the night early, straight after the musical, and I went drinking with Stu & Alyce.

And logically, everything should’ve ended there. She wasn’t interested. We would never be anything more than friends. I wish I could tell my past self that would never change.

In retrospect, I think a small part of me clung the idea that it might. Unfortunately, after everything that happened, I rarely hung out with Autumn after that night. We were friends on facebook. Something which probably kept the less sane part of mind hung up on her.

Months went by. Months.

There WERE other girls. I asked out other girls. I got shot down. But for some reason, my thoughts kept coming back to Autumn.

It was stupid. And lame. And potentially a little creepy. And I knew all this.

When many months later I realised how much of an idiot I was being, I unfriended her on facebook. It was much easier to get over someone if constant reminders weren’t popping up all the time.

Besides, it had gotten beyond a joke now. Even I never mentioned it to my friends because I couldn’t justify still being hung up on someone after so long.

It’s time to talk about this great ability I have, that I don’t have complete control over, to compartmentalize things. It’s probably why I so succesfully worked at so many different locations in one of my old jobs, I was able to lock stuff away in my mind and not think about it until I needed to.

At some point or another, that happened with Autumn.

Without a constant reminder (the curse of facebook) the memory of her became locked away in my mind.

Until Alyce’s a birthday party over a year later.

It was literally only a couple of days before Alyce’s party that I flicked over the facebook event to see who else was going. Alyce & Stu are two of my closest friends so I knew most of the people coming anyway which is why I hadn’t bothered to look.

Autumn was right at the top of the list.

And in the back of my mind, that box got ripped open and everything hiding away in there came creeping back in.

I remember looking in the mirror and noting how much weight I’d put on recently. Cursing myself for not exercising more. Hating that a girl I once harboured a long crush on would now see me in a worse physical conditon than she had previously.

It won’t be so bad. I told myself. Plenty of people at the party. Chances are you’ll barely see her.

I did see her. I spent most of the party with her. Autumn hadn’t known many of the other people there, so when saw me we stayed hanging around each other all night. She didn’t stay so late because she had to pick her current boyfriend from another party.

I brought up me asking her out the previous year at one point. She had no memory of it.

That bruises my ego a little. I thought. But at least she didn’t feel awkward around me.

She invited me to her farewell party that was happening the following week. She was going to England FOR TWO YEARS. Even after she left the rest of the night was awesome. Even the hangover the next day was bearable.

Ah, my ability to compartmentalize things worked great that night. I awoke the next day a little hungover, but happy that I’d had a good night out. I drove to Stu & Alyce’s to help them clean up after the party.

I remember rolling up a massive extension cord when my phone rang. The number wasn’t in there.

And the box in my head sprang open surprising even me.

“It’s Autumn,” a voice in my head said hopefully. “After last night she realises she wants to be more than friends.”

The flood of emotions surprised even me. Even that part of me saying that. I was over her, wasn’t I? Apparently not.

It wasn’t Autumn.

It was a couple calling about a wedding.

And now the box was open and I once again fallen for a girl who not only had a boyfriend, had rejected me once before, but was also about to go to ENGLAND FOR TWO YEARS.

I spent the next week in a weird emotional state. Hating the situation. Hating myself for bringing this on to myself.

Hating myself for re-adding her on facebook that night at Alyce’s party.

Autumn went to England.

And stayed in my thoughts for far too long.

Once again, there were other girls. In fact, a girl I worked with, Jenna, made me forget all about Autumn for a long period of time.

When I got a new job, I asked Jenna out.

She turned me down too.

The abyss isn’t so bad. I should build a house there.

And then somewhere in the haze of the Jenna rejection, the failing at the new job and having to return to my old one, a newly single Autumn came back from England.

I never told anyone, but I had a plan.

Get fit.

And win her over.

(I still sucked at girls. I realise now this wasn’t a wise mindset, but I was less experienced then. )

I think this plan lasted about a month.

By then Autumn wasn’t single anymore. And wouldn’t be again.

And I wish that was the end of the story.

But it’s not. We know where this story ends.

I heard along the grapevine that she’d met the new boyfriend when she’d bought a car upon her return to Australia.

Years later I would find out she actually met him at a Bachelor & Spinsters ball.

During the early days of their relationship, part of me clung to the hope that maybe it wouldn’t work out.

However a few months in I was at Stu & Alyce’s house, and she was on the phone to her friend Maggie, and she mentioned Autumn was moving in with her boyfriend. To the town he lived in. A good three hours away.

And look, I knew that night in that moment, even before that moment, that nothing was ever going to happen with Autumn. I guess that reality of it never sank in until even the vague possibility of it never happening was completely destroyed.

I put on a facade at Stu & Alyce’s house that I was okay with it. In my head I wasn’t.

I went to the shops on the way home to pick up some groceries. While my mind wandered through a valley of self hate and acceptance of the situation the universe decided to surprise me even more.

That same night I found out Autumn was moving away, I walked out of the supermarket to find Autumn sitting on a bench waiting for her sister. So I sat down and talked with the girl who was completely unaware of the fact I’d harboured a crush on for years.

We talked about her moving away. We talked about Stu & Alyce’s upcoming wedding. We talked about how I was going to be Groomsbrant. (Groomsmen/Celebrant) In my head, I knew where the conversation was going.

Don’t say it. A voice in my head silently begged her. Please don’t say it.

But the universe seemed to have long since decided my life needed to resemble a romantic comedy. So the next words out of Autumn’s mouth were:

“When Brendan and I get married, you’re so being our celebrant.”

I think that wedding could potentially kill me.

Despite that, I held that night positively in my memory for a long time. As though the universe was granting one more chance alone with her, sitting outside woolworths waiting for her sister while we ate cabanossi and salami. (For a long time after that, both cabanossi and salami always brought back fond memories of that night)

There’s this line in one of my favourite songs, “Almost” by Bowling for Soup, it goes like this:

…and I almost got popped for a fight with a thug
that almost made off with a bunch of the drugs
that I almost got hooked on ’cause you ran away
and I wish I would’ve had the nerve to ask you to stay.

I’ve often thought back on that night, wondering if I should’ve said something then. Even though I know now it would’ve been a tragically sad end to the story.

Though, two or so years later, I never would’ve been celebrant at her wedding, so MAYBE, just MAYBE, that wouldn’t have been so bad….

When Autumn got engaged the initial announcement on facebook effected more than anyone ever knew. One person did. Rachel Merz, my friend, I told her because she was online after I got back from my run.

I’d been sore from the run I’d done a couple of nights earlier, and was planning to skip the run that night, but reading “Autumn Pearce is engaged” spurned me to go for a run to clear my head.

In the days to come though, I would accept it. A part of me was even happy for her. If she was truly in love and it would be a dick move not to be.

“It’s weird,” Alyce told me frankly. Who has full rights to say ‘I told you so’ now.

“It’s not.” I argued, because I’d convinced myself it wasn’t. “It’s perfectly normally, I’m a completely sexless entity to her, she’s forgotten I even asked her out that time. I’m the completely sexless should to cry on.”

“It’s still weird. You shouldn’t do it.”

“It’ll be fine.” I stubbornly told her. “Besides, she wants me to be her celebrant so much she’s willing to change the date of the wedding to suit my schedule.” I totally rocked that ‘friend zone’ thing.

Alyce was right. It was weird. But because I didn’t have a problem with it when Autumn initially asked me, I didn’t give it a second thought. I was sure I was okay with it.

In a way, it would be fitting in my mind. If I wasn’t going to marry her myself, then at least I could confirm she getting her happily ever after by my hand.

What I hadn’t realised then was that nifty ability I mentioned earlier to compartmentalise stuff had kicked in.

It would be a solid year later, when the wedding plans were firm and I actually sat down to write the ceremony…. And that’s when I realised it bothered me.

It bothered me a lot.

And the worst part is: I’d gone past the point of no return.

Arguably from the moment she’d been willing to change the date of her wedding to suit me, that was when any sort of backing out became awkward.

Also: the wedding was out of town.

Also: they organised accommodation for me the night beforehand.

So I stayed at the same venue as the majority of the wedding guests, trying to blend in. It was a little awkward but not so bad.

And the wedding wasn’t so bad. I feel ashamed to admit that once, just once, the groom made a statement in the wedding preparations I didn’t agree with and a voice instead of me snapped ‘If it had been me I wouldn’t be like that.’

But it wasn’t me. Autumn had fallen in love with this guy. Not me. He was who she choose. And on their wedding day, I was okay with that.

The ‘celebrant me’ kicked in as I helped set up for the wedding. During the ceremony. When they kissed. All was well.

But I would be lying if the urge to get the hell out of here and embark on the two hour drive home the moment the ceremony ended wasn’t overwhelming.

Also: the universe wasn’t quite finished laughing at my expense.

On the very same weekend I called a girl I’d gone on a date with a few days earlier, seeing if she wanted to go on a second date.

She gave me a familiar long speech, about how I was a great guy, and was really easy to talk to, in fact, she said, it had been a while since she met someone she could really like open up to and talk without a filter like she could with me.

Though, it would seem, that wasn’t enough: she said our ‘relationship’ would only be platonic. This conversation had happened before. Numerous times. And numerous times I’ve been okay with being ‘the friend’. But ever since Autumn asked me to be her celebrant, I fervently put a stop to the notion of being someone’s friend after they’ve turned me down romantically.

Because clearly if I remained friends I’d be celebrant at their wedding five years later watching them marry someone else.

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The Completey Wise and Logical Decision To Do 300 Push-Ups a Day for 20 days

So my friend Emma and I were discussing the craziness of Crossfit one night, which of course lead to looking up hilarious Crossfit fails videos on youtube.

As youtube does, it suggested a video that I also might like on the right hand side of the page. The video depicted a man a claiming massive gains from doing 300 Push-ups in a day. 300 a day? This is madness! After watching the video (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUzyaHo0QQc ) it was revealed it wasn’t 300 in a row, it was 100 in the morning, 100 in the afternoon, 100 at night shortly before bed. This seemed do-able.

Plus, I had other motivations, one of which I’ll discuss next blogpost, the other was that the guy in the video kinda annoyed me. Not just his personality, but because he already had a ripped physique going in. Sure he could do 300 push-ups a day! But what if an everyman did it? A slightly overweight everyman who was doggedly persistent.

So I decided to do it.

Telling only a few close friends and family (all who strongly questioned my sanity but were all very encouraging) as I wasn’t sure I would succeed, plus there was an ‘incident’ with public announcements when I did the 1000 mile challenge last year I may discuss at another time.

Promising to detail the entire thing, and do a humourous as I could youtube video at the end I set out to complete the 300 pushup a day a challenge. The results are below. Don’t get dissuaded by the overly detailed first two entries, they briefer (but attempting to maintain humour) as they go on:

300 Push-Ups A Day Challenge.

Day 1.
Morning 100
Wow, this was relatively easier than I thought it was going to be. Pacing myself I effectively did 20 lots of 5. So I’d do 5, very short break, and then another 5 etc until I hit 20 (it would take about five minutes) then I’d take a five minute break and repeat. Didn’t really start getting major fatigue until about the 80 mark.
Afternoon 100.
Okaaaay. That was harder. More effort required. I fear the final 100 before bed.
Night 100.
My muscles hate me. I have succeeded. I crawl into bed to read my arms are too tired to hold the book up. Sleep please.
Day 2.
Woke up and deliberately put off getting up as much as I could as I knew the push ups awaited me. Luckily, didn’t put it off too long because I had a wedding to get to that afternoon
Morning 100.
Oh god. Everything hurts. Carrying the stuff from my car down to the where the wedding was taking place was near torture. A small part of me is praying for death. Oddly, the first 100 of the day, while taking much more effort than all previous efforts, was completed in an unintentional faster time.
Evening 100
Great fear of the this lot was had. Wasn’t so bad though. And don’t anywhere near as destroyed after as I was expecting.
Night 100
Business as usual. Tried to watch a tv show and do so at the same time. This would prove to be inadvisable.

Day 4.
Surprisingly I’ve noticed it’s a lot easier. Each 100 takes generally the same amount of time as it did in the beginning, but I am nowhere near as destroyed as I was on the first couple of days.

Day 7.
Each session of 100 now only takes 25 minutes or less whereas on Day 1 each session took about an hour. Finding it relatively easy now I jokingly suggest to my friends Emma, Ben & my sister-in-law Penny that I should start using the 10kg weight vest I own to do the push-ups in for bigger gains. All three advise me this is a terrible idea, and wisely suggest I try doing it after the 20 days is complete. Ben very wisely reminding me of the last weight vest injury which dislocated part of ankle and left me unable to run for seven months. I completely agree it would probably be a bad idea to start using the vest. Not using the weight vest is a completely logical decision done with reason and forethought. So of course….

Day 9.
I have used the 10kg weight vest for 200 of the day’s 300 pushups.

Day 10.
Muscle soreness as returned. Also blind stubbornness has too. I manage to do all 300 push-ups in the weight vest. I have also concluded it would be awesome to start taking the daily progress shots with a walking stick so I could edit it all together to the song ‘Puttin On The Ritz’

Day 13.
I accidentally oversleep and have to skip the morning 100 to get to work on time. To compensate I do 150, in the 10kg weight vest,  when I get home. After the date I’m about to go on I plan to do another 150 before bed. The date is horrible enough to almost warrant a blog post all of its own but that ain’t happening. Either way, depressed I make it home and don’t even switch on the lights in my apartment. After an hour of moping I decide to do the second 150 for the day without the weight vest so it’s easier.

Day 15.
I have now officially missed the morning 100 for three days and have to compensate with two lots of 150 after work. I bait myself into a false sense of security but not using the weight vest for the first 50 then BAM! Weight Vest time. Bet you didn’t see that coming did you, muscles? No? What are you to do about it?

Day 17.
I have noticed an unsettling ache in my left shoulder. This is the point where I tell you that due to recovery from the aforementioned ankle issue I’ve done the entire challenge one footed (ie; with one hooked over the other – they’re slightly harder than normal pushups.) I suspect the weight vest may play a role in causing the shoulder ache especially when….

Day 19.
….
I skip the weight vest on the day’s second lot of 150 completely and notice the shoulder doesn’t hate me anywhere near as much. I wisely have kept the weight vest under wraps telling only Ben of my disregarding of his completely logical advice.

Day 20.
Last day! I do the morning’s 150 on time (once again skipping the weight vest for the first 50 before subjecting my muscles to surprise torture), and then do the last 150 on the challenge when I get home from work. I am done! I take the last photo to celebrate.

beforeandafter

The Perils of Automatic Doors

I was with a friend the other day and as I walked through the automatic doors of the mall we were deep in conversation and, as he happened to be looking at my face at the time, he noticed the almost imperceptible flinch that happens every time I walk through them.

“Dude, did you just flinch?”

I sighed and nodded.

Believe it or not, this story goes back to when I was three. Mum and my brother Steve were eating at a cafe in the mall, and I was running around outside the cafe as three year olds do, go in and out of the automatic door, it was a game.

It would turn out to be a game fraught with peril.

At one point, distracted, I was standing in the dead of the doors when they started to close. Being too small to activate any sensor I noticed too late they were going to close on me. As the doors hit my arms I shifted leaving all of the body out of the door’s grasp, but planting my head now firmly jammed between the two, seemingly closed, doors. I shifted and strained but couldn’t budge either my head or the doors themselves.

My brother Steve ran over to see if I was okay. Then attempted to single the door to open. I remember him waving his hands in front of the sensor causing it to open and release my head from it’s entrapment.

To this day, if you pay real close attention whenever I got through automatic sliding doors there’s imperceptible flinch. This flinch used to be a lot MORE noticeable.

In fact, until age 12 I used to raise my hands and wave them in front the sensor, an almost exact repeat of what Steve did years earlier, whenever I walked through them. It occurred to me as I started in high school, that among other eccentricities this was probably one best kept hidden, and promptly shoved my hands in my pockets whenever I walked through them.

The hand waving thing still occasionally happened if I was on my own, very occasionally, and especially if no one else was around, so even in my mid twenties I would absentmindedly do it.

Alas I appear much more normal now. I don’t think anyone’s seen me do the weird hand wave in years.

But still, every time I walk into a mall, or a shopping centre, or a video store, pay real close attention and you’ll see me ever so slightly flinch.

It’s hard to break the habit of a lifetime.

A Healthy Regard For The Consequences

There’s this old list that gets forwarded around of New year’s Resolutions. It’s been attributed to Billy Connolly but I don’t actually think he wrote it – but there’s one that says
“Why do people say ‘Life is short’?! Life is one of the longest things anyone ever does!” Which has truth to it, and is funny BUT the sentiment behind ‘Life is short’ also holds true.

I have a friend who was born with HIV.
I know a friend of a friend who went to the snow and was found dead of hypothermia the next day. They reckon he went for a couple of drinks, nothing major, at the bar at the resort where they were staying, and got lost wandering back to his chalet.
A girl I went to high school died of a brain tumour.
My fourth and fifth grade teacher died of cancer recently.

None of these people are what’s considered ‘old’. When I say the phrase ‘Life is too short.’ or (probably more likely) ‘Life is too fucking short’ these are the people I’m thinking of. These are why I don’t do certain, like waste time finishing a book I’m really not enjoying (a movie maybe… less time commitment… but not a book) Or when I’m about to enact a plan that seems crazy and very little chance of succeeding. Life is just it too damn short to not have a good time trying, even if you fail.

It was one of two phrases that entered into my mind at the pub the other night when someone asked about my last blog post.

It was just a regular at the night at the pub with a few friends. I’d had a fairly lame day of work and was happily relaxing over a couple of beers.

Then Joe (not his real name) raised the topic of the blog post and asked the true identity of the aforementioned ‘Jenny’. Even though Joe knew the real Jenny, I stuck to my guns and claimed he didn’t. Either I didn’t do this very well or he just didn’t believe me.  He asked if he guessed correctly would who Jenny was would I confirm her identity? Figuring I’d hid Jenny’s true identity relatively well I agreed – and was immediately surprised when the first words of his mouth were Jenny’s real name.

I froze.

And then I lied.

“No way,” I said immediately, trying my best poker face and taking a big swig of my beer in an attempt to hide my facial expression.

“But it was that line,” he proclaimed. “That line where you said ‘she’d often stated she wasn’t good at reading between the lines’. I know who said that, after I guessed her everything else fell into place.”

Of course everything fell into place. It WAS the bloody girl he was talking about.

I sat there considering my options. If I wanted to it would’ve been easy to continue the lie, he’d bought it, and the conversation topic had moved on to other things.

I’d lied to hide her identity so she’d never find out.

There’s this scene in the graphic novel (and animated film) “The Dark Knight Returns” where an aged Bruce Wayne is about to do something that could kill him if he sat back and  let it. He decides at the last minute not to, saying to himself ‘It would be a good death… but not good enough’ I’d often thought about this when potentially giving up on something. Both that and ‘Life is too short’ often floated through my continuous inner monologue.

I could’ve let Joe believe he guessed wrong. There’d be no chance Jenny would ever find out.

Then again, if by some freak occurrence, I died tomorrow, say by an unexpected avalanche (a common occurrence in Canberra), or a meteor (another common Canberra occurrence)… well, if I died tomorrow  everyone would move on with their lives. As they should. And  Jenny would go on being none the wiser.

It would be a good death… but not good enough.

Debbie could tell her. Debbie (also not her real name), was the one who I’d accidentally skyped about the dream, she knew.

I didn’t want Jenny to know because I was worried it would make her feel uncomfortable whenever I saw her. And I’d already stated I’d never say anything myself because that would be a dick move to her and her boyfriend.

But Joe *had* guessed correctly. I can only conclude he is a keen observer of the human condition, a mystery novel fan, or watches way too much CSI. And I downright lied, and if there was that modicum of doubt, he could express that to Jenny if she ever raised the blogpost had been about her.

Plus, if he ever told her, it wouldn’t be by my hand. There’d be no intention behind it. If she was going to find out about it, that would probably be the the most relatively drama free way to find out. And I rarely saw Jenny these days.

Life is too short.

So I turned to Joe, and before I could overthink it anymore (me? overthink something? never!) I said:
“You really got it from that line? That one single line!”
After all, he’d earned it.

Excitement and amazement burst from his mouth.
“I was right?!?! I knew it! I KNEW IT! It all made sense. You said you’d been trying to message Emma, and I’m guessing Debbie would be right next to her on your contacts.”

Joe promised he’d never tell. Buuuutttt after giving it a full five minutes thought the prospect of him telling her didn’t bother me so much.
If I died tomorrow? Say by a random ninja attack. (another common Canberra occurrence). Or, you know, a car accident. (This will never happen. My driving is awesome.) Well, that death… would now be good enough.

There’s a line in a book I read recently:
“Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat. I’m not crazy. Yes, there was a time when that may have been debatable, but the insanity plea no longer washes. Everything I’ve done was with forethought and a healthy regard for the consequences.” -‘Sex and Sunsets‘ By Tim Sandlin

The above actions were not the first time this year that quote has been relevant.

In case you didn’t know (because I never mention it, like ever, certainly not on this blog) I once spent a year writing a book about tracking down and interviewing every girl I’d ever had a crush on, from age six to present.

One of those girls was a lovely lady I’d worked with years earlier. We’ll call her Abigail. I’d  sent her a copy of what I’d written so far, which I thought was light hearted and funny. (It’s got a ‘tee-hee-hee’ tone I would tell people who said it sounded like a ‘stalker book’)

Her response was not positive. In fact, it was the worst I’d gotten to the book at the point.
“I don’t want to be involved in any part of this and that includes the use of any part of my name.”
(Clearly she didn’t think it had a ‘tee-hee-hee’ tone)

It would break me mentally for a few days. This is all covered in explicit detail in the book. What I didn’t cover was the humorous aftermath.

Before I’d even got copies of the book printed up whenever I ran into someone from the law firm where we’d both worked, one of two things happened:
Either
1. Within a few sentences of greeting they’d say “So I read an early draft of your book, I thought it was pretty funny”. It had apparently become somewhat underground email forward. Getting a copy normally involved a conversation between co-workers that went along the lines ‘You’ll never guess what Liam’s up to these days. Screw it I’ll just email it to you so you can see for yourself.”
OR
2. If they didn’t mention the book I would cautiously raise it in conversation (making no reference to the girl in question, simply stating what the book was about) the mere mention of the book seemed to end the conversation prematurely and I would often never hear from them again.

Oddly the same reaction you got with 2. was identical to the reaction I got when I ran into a co-worker and casually mentioned the rumour I’d heard, that happened after I left,  about one of the senior partners getting caught having a threesome with a secretary and unnamed third party in the boardroom after hours.
In regards to that rumour eventually I learnt this reaction was because all employees had been ordered not to comment on it.
I did wonder whether a similar mandate had been made in regards to my book. Or whether the ones that broke off all contact after it’s mere mention had simply deemed the concept a ‘stalker book’ without knowing of its comedic content.

After receiving that email from Abigail I didn’t have any contact with her. For fear of getting sued, her reaction had been so harsh and so dismissive I genuinely questioned whether I’d fallen for her, or had fallen for an idealized version of her I’d had in my head. Being aware of this, I did my very best in all future interactions with females to not put them up on a pedestal in my head.

This would fail spectacularly with one particular girl. (Yes Alyce, if you’re reading this I know whose name you’re saying right now) But that’s a story for another time.

Many years later I was preparing for my 30th birthday when my friend Trev made what he thought was a hilarious suggestion.
“You should invite that girl you used to work with. The one from your book. The one with the quote on the back.”
I looked skeptically at the webcam I was talking to him through.
“Abigail? Well, looking at it from all angles, the odds my actually be more in my favour now. She IS nine years older than me, and if the prospect of turning 40 next year is bothering her as much at the of turning 30 did back when we worked together, then she might actually consider it. Of course, the chance she may slap on restraining order on me could be a slight hindrance on our budding romance.” I mused.

He laughed. But the seed had been planted. And if there’s one thing my friends should be aware of by now, is that if a crazy idea forms in my head, then it only takes the slightest bit of encouragement for me to throw myself head first into it.

That encouragement came from Kirsty, who, two days later when I told her about the entire idea, happily pushed me towards it.
“She hated the book,” I pointed out. “She said, and I quote, ‘I don’t want to be involved in any part of this and that includes the use of any of part of my name.'”
“Maybe she doesn’t like books!” Kirsty declared. “A fear of papercuts maybe?”

That afternoon I toyed with the idea of sending Abigail an invite. It had seven years since we had any sort of contact, and ten years since we’d seen each other in person. Surely things would’ve cooled enough bynow that simply sending her an invite wouldn’t land me with any sort of restraining order. I mean, a single email in 2007 then an invite sent in the post seven years later? No way the consequences would be that bad. Worst case scenario she tossed the invite in the bin the moment she got it. Maybe I would get a nasty phone call.

And what if I died the next day? What if a random piano fell out of the sky and landed on me? (A common Canberra occurrence) Or a lightning bolt randomly struck me killing me instantly? (Another common Canberra occurrence.)

If I died then the book itself would be a nice humourous coda to the whole Abigail situation.

It would be a good death. But not good enough.

So I sent her an invite to my 30th. I knew she still worked at the law firm, and was fully aware of how well the office mail system worked. If the letter had ‘Personal’ written on it the mail staff weren’t allowed to open it.

It’s why I long suspected that time a mysterious package a lawyer had received that contained human feces  – Yes, someone shat in a bag and posted it to him – was an inside job. They’d written ‘Personal’ on the envelope so it hadn’t been let loose on unsuspecting mailroom worker.
(The mailbag stank that day, it wasn’t hard to guess what it might be)

I made sure “Personal” was clearly put on the envelope, even wrote my return address on the back and sent it.

I wasn’t crazy. I had a healthy regard for the consequences. When I told the rest of my friends, and my housemate at the time, about this in the following days, this would be an argument I would have to use continuously.

The general consensus seemed to be that she wouldn’t show up. But I’d thrown myself head first into this now, and my blind optimism was unstoppable.

“I’ve seen ‘The Right Kind of Wrong’ okay,” A film in which the lead character pursues a woman he meets on her wedding day. “Beautiful things that seem impossible happen everyday.” I would stubbornly quote.

My friend Sare even bet that she would cover the entire bar tab if in fact she was wrong and Abigail did indeed show up.

I knew, of course, the odds of her appearing weren’t great. Hell I’d even decided, if she did show up, the first thing I would say to someone would be ‘the universe just turned on its head.’

At around 11pm on the night of my 30th someone made a smart arse comment about Abigail not showing up. Not bothered in the slightest I adamantly declared
“She could still show!” Before adding “Kind of beating a dead horse now, aren’t I?”

But I was okay with the fact she didn’t. If she had, don’t get me wrong, that would’ve been awesome. But hey – if the next day I was randomly trampled to death by a herd of Wildebeest (A common Canberra occurrence.) Then I know I would’ve given the Abigail situation my best shot, and I was done now. That death would be good enough.

Because it’s in situations like this, like with Joe & the Jenny situation, and Abigail and my 30th that life is just too damn short to act otherwise.

Dream A Little Dream of…. wait…. who?

The following story is all true, I deliberately changed names and fictionalized extremely minor things to cover my own arse, and the identity of another who probably doesn’t deserve it. (But would complain if I didn’t so we’re back to covering my own arse again)

I woke up and looked over at Jenny sleeping in bed beside me. She yawned and stirred herself awake.

“You’re not going for a run this morning?” She asked. I smiled and leant down and kissed her.

“Thought I’d take a day off from running,” I told her. “How  about I make us breakfast? Feel like pancakes?”

She smiled and nodded and I walked into the kitchen while she jumped in the shower.

In the kitchen I grabbed some blue food colouring and added it to the pancake mix while I made them. Jenny eventually appeared behind me and wrapped her arms around me just as I was serving the last pancakes on to the plate.

“You’re in a good mood this morning,” she giggled looking at the brightly blue coloured pancakes. “What brought this on?”

“Just you,” I said smiling at her.

We ate the pancakes chatting and then went shopping. Afterwards we headed to a party at a friends house. We came home to ours and fell asleep on the couch, in each others arms, watching some old episodes of Quantum Leap.

My eyes shot open.

“Well, that’s new,” I said to myself, extremely surprised at the dream my subconscious had just thrown up at me.

Other than admitting that Jenny was ridiculously hot I never thought I felt anything more than friendship towards her. At least consciously anyway.

But here I’d just had a dream where we were dating. Full on, living together, sharing an apartment, falling asleep on the couch together, dating.

This wasn’t the first time my subconscious had seemingly blindsided me with me information via my dreams, and certainly not the first time it had managed to produce a dream so vivid that when I woke up I was confused as to how I had gotten to my bed. The reality of the dream seemed so real it didn’t seem logical to suddenly be waking up in a different place to where I was a moment earlier.

Unlike last time, however, my subconscious was a little more forgiving. The last time the reality of the dream had been set in the ‘present day’ so to speak. In that dream I’d still lived in house I was living in at the time, still went to my sister’s place and walked the family dog, Lentil, like I used to do. That dream had been harder to distinguish from reality than the previous night’s. When that dream had happened it literally took a good few hours for it to completely dawn on me that the dream hadn’t happened.

This time the dream had been set in an alternate reality, or at the very least in the future. The life I was living in the dream was so different to the life now it was easy to distinguish between what was reality and what wasn’t despite the dream being so vivid and real it was disconcerting.

Of course, as Jenny was a friend of mine I still saw her on a regular basis. That freaking day in fact. Immediately I put to work 4 years worth of high school drama classes in an attempt to act normal around her. I pondered whether it was like in sitcoms where the girl in question is completely oblivious yet everyone, especially the audience, are completely aware of the fact.

If I was being totally honest with myself, which wouldn’t happen for at least a couple of weeks, I could’ve just told her about the dream. Irregardless of her boyfriend. Not for an attempt to win her over, but due to the sheer comic nature of the entire thing. I’ve had dreams about hooking up with friends before. (Minor aside: I would like to point out, in this particular dream while there was a lot of relationshipy stuff, we did not have sex… apparently even in my dreams I don’t score…)

Having absolutely no romantic inclinations to the person in question I’ve told them about it figuring they’d be as amused by the whole thing as I was. Ninety percent of the time it was all fine. The other ten percent it confirmed their long standing (but completely untrue believe me) suspicion that I’d actually harboured strong romantic feelings for them. So ten percent of the time it was awkward for a short period until they got over themselves. Sometimes I pushed the ‘healing’ process along by deliberately talking with them about girls I was actually interested in.

I’ve actually had the ‘just friends’ talk delivered to me by a number of female friends despite the fact I wasn’t interested in them. So maybe it was the fear of accidentally triggering that conversation with another friend that caused me to hide the details of the dream and attempt to act normal around them and not like I’d just had a dream where we were in a loving committed relationship.

Except…. except….

I was on skype one day waiting for my friend Trev to come online so I could tell him all about it. Nothing like having a friend over the other side of the world who can laugh at your expense but who is also completely removed from the situation.

But I got impatient waiting for Trev’s timezone to sync up with mine and opened a message window to my friend Emma and told her the entire thing, typed it up as quickly as I could and hit send.

Except it wasn’t Emma. It was someone right next to Emma on my contact list who happened to actually be friends with Jenny, and was not separated by continents and timezones like Trev was. And man, did she take great amusement and mockery of the entire situation. She had a field day. For days.

Trev came online late that night when the timezones synced up and told him, even adding on the accidentally messaging to someone else. He did what all friends do in the modern age and immediately facebook stalked her. As well as her boyfriend.

Trev didn’t openly acknowledge the obvious reason for why I was fighting so hard not to actually tell Jenny about it. He knew when I’d had similar (though in at least one case, far more erotic) dreams about other friends I’d told them about it. I didn’t even hesitate when it happened with my old housemate Tam. We laughed about it the next morning. We thought it was funny.

Except this time…. this time…..

Trev’s final notes on the entire situation were simple.

“She has a boyfriend, so there’s no real way to make a move without coming across as a dick in some way shape or form. So the smart and logical thing to do is just forget about it and remain friends.”

Then, after further commenting that she was, in fact, ridiculously hot he added:

“……BUT if in some how or some way, something ever does happen between you two… you HAVE to give me details.”

I found this little exchange so amusing that, in an effort to make some peaceful conversation with my housemate at the time (a relationship which deteriorated further and further as the lease came to an end) I told her about it.

Her response was of course, to look up Jenny on facebook. Her words stung a tiny bit.

“Wow, there’s no way YOU have a chance with girl like her. She’s way out of your league. She’s like actually hot.”

Now, I take up argument with this comment, and not just because there’s indirect slight on my physical appearance. It’s not the “she’s out of your league” comment. That part’s true, I’ve been quite clear on Jenny’s attractiveness. I have issue with the ‘there’s no way YOU have a chance with a girl like her’.

People date out of their league all the time. And it’s even okay to acknowledge that you are, in fact, dating out of your league. Or at least trying to. It’s the moment you let that fact BOTHER you is when the situation becomes an issue, and insecurities begin.

I’m trying to keep this post relatively lighthearted because the last one (or maybe two) were a bit of a downer. So on this topic I’ll just make two quick points:

1) If you’re dating someone who you think is out of your league, and think about it a lot, that’s okay, that’s AWESOME. Focus on the positives though. Not the ‘they could leave me at any time because they can do so much better’ – this will only breed negativity and unhappiness, think the positive route ‘This is awesome. They could’ve had anyone and they choose me. This is great.’ because this second statement, well it’s more true than the first negative one.

2) As for perusing someone you think is out of your league I’m going to use a quote from the book ‘Shit My Dad Says’:
That woman was sexy. . . . Out of your league? Son, let women figure out why they won’t screw you. Don’t do it for them.

Okay….. I admit it….

Crushes are a very young thing. Someone I contacted for my book said that. (oh god, I hear you say, again with the book). At the time it annoyed me because I was writing about crushes and the way she said it was patronizing and a little arrogant.

Crushes still happen when you’re an adult. However, as I’ve made it clear by now, it is an entire different ballgame. Because as an adult you don’t have the ‘I don’t want to make high school a living hell’ line. As an adult you realise, or at least you should, that if you have a crush on someone you should just admit it and tell them. Worst thing that can happen is they reject you. You might hate yourself for a tiny bit, but you’ll get over it. It’s highly unlikely the world will end.

I’ll allow two exceptions.

When it’s someone you work with, there ARE complications. Sexual harassment laws are in place. You have to be careful. It can be considered unprofessional. It can get you in trouble BUT if you think about it, and it’s safe, and the worst that will come is utter awkwardness around the person in question YOU SHOULD DO IT ANYWAY.

And of course, if the person is in a relationship. Especially if they are married. Then most of the time there is nothing to be gained and maybe you should consider ‘just getting over it’. (Jenny’s not married btw. But she does have a boyfriend.)

So after weeks of fearing Jenny might figure the whole thing out, and eventually acknowledging to myself there may be a reason, in this case, that the dream happened when it did, I woke up one morning and realised I’d put a considerable amount of brain power into something that I didn’t need to.

I like romantic comedies. This should be my one shame as a man, but really, I just don’t care if other people pay me out about that. Thing about a lot of romantic comedies though is the rules are different to how reality works. You’re rooting for the sweet guy in the movie who’s pursuing the girl of his dreams despite the fact she has a boyfriend. The boyfriend is often portrayed as being a douche in some way shape or form so you know you’re in the right that you’re happy she ends up with the nice guy stereotype.

(Another quick aside – ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ is the one chick flick I’ve seen where the boyfriend/fiancee character is NOT portrayed as a jerk! And so is the one chick flick I’d recommend everyone check out. )

Except in reality, while this is the case some of the time. (The boyfriend being a douche) There’s a lot more to it. She was clearly with the guy for a reason. Couldn’t be that, you know, there were admirable qualities in him that she fell in love with that you’re not seeing because you’re biased there, could it?

I wasn’t going to be a dick and go after a girl with a boyfriend. Especially not when she seemed happy with the guy. That’s not being fair on her, that’s purely being selfish.

If she was happy, I was happy. And I was okay with that. And it was this startling revelation that meant I didn’t act weird around her anymore. Which was good, because shortly after that the whole nasty redundancy happened and I could use all the friends I could get.

I am curious as to whether Jenny ever figured it out. She’s often spoken about not being able to ‘read between the lines’ well. Then again the mutual friend hadn’t noticed any change in behaviour. When I wrote my book (oh god, he’s talking about the book again) about tracking down and interviewing every girl I’d had a crush, seemed to be an even split between the ones that knew I had a crush on them and the ones that didn’t.

And this Grey’s Anatomy quote (yes, along with chick flicks I watch Grey’s Anatomy) echoed in my head a couple times when I was ‘trying to act normal’ around Jenny. To give some minor background, the guy has been shot and can’t get medical attention so is saying his last words.

Charles: Can you find reed? When this is over, can you find her? I always … I always had a crush on her. I don’t think she knows.

Mary: She knows. Girls always know.

Charles: Well, tell her anyway.

Did she figure it out? Does she know? It doesn’t really matter. I’m sure I’ll tell her someday. To be honest, part of me kinda hoped she did. The rest of me, however, is firmly in the camp of her never finding out about it until I tell her.

So the logical thing to do is to write a goddamn blog post about it that she may read, right? Lol, oh well. I thought the story was amusing.

Things that keep you anchored when things are going to fecal matter

This was going to be entirely different blogpost. I may still finish the original one day, when I started writing it was going to be humourous piece on feelings forming for a female friend, and how as an adult the only time a ‘crush’ should exist (ie; when you having feelings for someone and don’t man up and tell them about it) is when the person you have feelings for is in a relationship (which the girl in question did), thus revealing how you feel would not really be beneficial and would mostly create drama. (not to mention a surefire trip to the abyss) There’s also professional reasons not to make a move if you work with them, even then there are situations where it’s probably safe to. (however inadvisable)

It was going to be a slightly gutsy post because while I changed/fictionalized some details to cover my arse there was a semi-high possibility she’d actually read this and probably put two and two together and figure it was her. Despite that I was going to humorously reflect on my views on the situation were different from me of ten years ago.

I had about the half the post written up, I thought it was good, and then I got made redundant from my job and everything kind of went to shit.

It wasn’t entirely unexpected. We knew the company had been bought. We knew there’d be changes. Once that paperwork went through for the merger the redundancy axe went swinging and landed directly on me. For the first time since I’d finished school I was unemployed and that scared the crap out of me. Not to mention a week earlier my car had breathed it’s final gasping breath. (though I’d rather humourously managed to sell it online for a $200 despite listing everything wrong with it in the ad.)

First day after it happened I was pretty destroyed. I literally avoided driving over certain bridges because I was concerned that the temptation to pull over and jump off would be a little too great. The spiral of self hate was pretty epic.

Poor old blindly optimistic Liam had disappeared. The kind of blind optimism that fueled some of the craziest adventures. Running 1000 miles. Becoming a marriage celebrant. Writing a book about tracking down and interviewing every girl he ever had a crush on.

The blind optimism that even made the long shot “no chance in hell” ideas that failed fun. Gaining 29 inch biceps in a year. Inviting that girl I’d had a crush on years earlier (who was nine years my senior) to my 30th birthday party despite her violently bad reaction to my book. (“I’ve seen ‘the Right Kind of Wrong’ okay! Beautiful things that seem impossible happen everyday!” I would adamantly declare to disbelieving friends.)

But that moment the redundancy axe landed on me, there was no blind optimism. My blindly optimistic self had taken a vacation to Alaska.

I had a lot of friends and family looking out for me, and that’s probably good because two things managed to bring me back to a close approximation of my old self.

On the Monday afternoon was when I’d been told about being made redundant. We had the Tuesday off to deal. Wednesday those that were leaving had to come in for their final ‘bullet to the head’ meeting as I jokingly called it. (I was later informed this may have been in bad taste)

The first thing that saved me happened on Tuesday afternoon, I want to talk about here, I really do, but feel the friend involved would prefer I keep it quiet, for fear of his own embarrassment.  Suffice to say it was an act of great kindness that stopped me from descending to the darkest depths of despair in my mind.

The second thing was the wedding I did on the following Saturday.

I became a celebrant five years ago, while the idea had always appealed to me, it wasn’t until an offhand dare from a friend caused me to take action and actually do it that I actually took the course and registered with the Attorney-General’s office. (the latter being a remarkably painful process)

I’m not stressed during a wedding ceremony. I may be stressed getting to a wedding ceremony (but that could be a by-product of having a potentially untrustworthy vehicle for most of my celebrant life), but during a ceremony I’m all calm. Once I’m there the worst is over and I’m making do.

In a week where nothing seemed right, and everything was uncertain, and I felt so much that I didn’t know what to do, I found myself with in a situation where I was sure, I was steady, I knew what to do. People looked at me for instruction. I was confident. I was balanced. I was calm. Weddings were MY world. My ball park. No one could take that away from me.

I flirted with a pretty girl. (Just flirted… nothing more…. from experience it’s unprofessional to do otherwise, but that is a story for another blogpost)  I hummed along to the last of the couples chosen wedding music as they started taking photos and I packed up my gear.

When friends and family saw afterward they could see a difference. I wasn’t a totally broken person anymore. When an organised temp job fell through later that week I was okay.

I was well on my way to being back to my old self. I’m not totally there yet but I’m pretty close.

I’ve got a casual job doing data entry work, so I won’t starve and or go homeless.

My friends. My family. Being a celebrant. These are my anchors. The things that keep me sane when everything is falling apart. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

Sleepless In Canberra (like Sleepless in Seattle without Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, the love story…. or pretty much everything else)

Well…. it seems that my last blog post received some of the reactions I was expecting.

The topic of my sleeping patterns required a entire blog post all of it’s own. And so here we are… believe it or not, there’s an actual reason for me only sleeping five hours a night. Plus I’m procrastinating from writing something else so….

High School.

To be more specific, a least desired part of High School: for two weeks of every year our Phys Ed classes were replaced with ‘Social Dance’ in which the boys and girls classes were merged (normally separate for PE) and we learned to dance. There was a few aspects of this I disliked, but you can read my book for the indepth discussion of that. (jump to the Camille chapter, it’s all covered there)

But the day I’m focusing on… was bad.

My eyes were watering. I was exhausted. I felt like I hadn’t slept in three days, because, well, I HADN’T SLEPT IN THREE DAYS.

One girl, whom we’ll call Paige, rotated around the circle, and she was so subtle and so elegant with her reaction to my appearance.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” She asked.

Every movement felt like effort. I looked like shit. The bags under my eyes had gone so black it looked like I was sporting two black eyes. My watering eyes were bloodshot as all hell.

You know how when you wake up from a dream, and think back over the dream you realise it had a sort of unreality to it? Like it was faded and different and in retrospect didn’t feel real? Well all of reality had that dream like state to it.

In the days that followed my body would relent it’s incessive onslaught of insomnia and allow me to get an hour or so of sleep. Due to sheer exhaustion it would hightail straight to REM sleep and give me a vivid dream. Unfortunately as all of the reality had the same dreamlike state to it, there was a brief period where I was unable to distinguish what I had dreamt from reality.

So adequately described in “Fight Club” everything felt like a copy of a copy of a copy.

On Day Two the doctor told me he couldn’t prescribe/advise sleeping pills due to tenous side effects. “Eventually your body should relent and sleep,” he said “Another day or so and you should be fine.” he said.

On Day Five when I returned to the Doctor’s office looking like I’d had my arse kicked and clearly had gone way too long without sleep he gave instructions to pick up sleeping pills, and some herbal alternatives called goodnight formula.

Day Six was spent mostly sleeping, but when I woke up I felt more exhausted than I went to bed. This was WHY he hadn’t wanted to prescribe sleeping pills in the first place. Plus everything still felt like unreality.

Day Seven I tried to sleep without the pills. Day Eight I managed to score a couple of hours sleep which was enough to sustain me.

After a few days the insomnia passed just as mysteriously as it arrived.

And then about a year later it made a return appearance.

I was at a different school by then so there were no dance classes. I did have to cycle to school though (my parents didn’t have a car so asking for a lift was out) and doing that for a guy who hadn’t slept in three days was sheer torture.

I would have awkward conversations with my friends about events that hadn’t taken place because I dreamed them in those two short hours of sleep my body had relented and given me after four days.

I’d walk up to attractive girl at school who I had never had any classes with and didn’t have the guts talk to and start a conversation because I remembered have a long and deep conversation the day before only to find I dreamt that and she had no clue who I was.

And just as mysteriously and quickly as the insomnia arrived it disappeared.

When it happened the next year I was ready. I started drinking Pepsi Max to keep myself coherent during insomniac days. If after three hours tossing and turning in bed I hadn’t drifted off to sleep I started doing school assignments. Oddly my schoolwork productivity increased, thought I did get my first C in an English class that semester (I always got A’s in English) so MAYBE that was a sign that the work wasn’t that ‘up to standard’ But in fairness I still got A’s in IT in the assignments I did on sleepless nights.

And, once again – say it with me now – just as mysteriously as the insomnia appeared, it vanished.

I had thought with school finished, with me working full time, not living at home, and being on medication that caused drowsiness that the following year I would be free of the insomnia for good.

I was wrong. I was so wrong I’m literally shaking my head as I write this. Oh Past Naive Liam. How I wish I could travel back in time and inform you of the days to come. Maybe tell you the technique that eventually rid me of the insomnia for good. But alas, time travel is currently impossible, and so…

It was 10:30pm at night. The time I normally went to bed. The time my uni student housemate mocked me for going to bed so early. Once joking that I was weak because I was getting a good ten hours sleep at night. (Yet also perplexed as to why I had so much trouble getting up in the mornings)

I’d taken my meds and lay in bed drowsiness kicking in making it hard to stay awake. I lay down in bed, lights off and waited for sleep to claim me. And waited. And waited.

Around midnight, desperately clinging to my last shred of sanity the unsettling sensation dawned on me was that the insomnia was actually defeating the drowsiness effects of the meds.

Shit.

By 2am I would’ve sold my soul for some decent shut eye. Please stupid insomnia rattled brain, please just allow the rest of the body to sleep. I tossed and turned. I shoved my head under the pillow. I switched on the light and tried reading. I tried warm milk. At 6am the sun began to rise. And I headed to work, walking around the city all day in a zombie like state.

If riding to school and social dance had seemed tiring on no sleep, having a 9-5 job which involved walking everywhere for most of the day almost killed me.

I took a day off work. Still no sleep.

On day three I grabbed some sleeping pills and succumbed to three days worth of exhaustion. For the next week I operated in an entirely different zombie state but it was due to the drowsiness of sleeping pills and not lack of sleep. Sleep I was getting plenty of.

I stopped taking them and a few months later the insomnia reared it’s head for a single night.

It was around this time I read an interview with writer Greg Wiseman who was asked about one of his characters who changed from one form to another overnight, and if the fictional character ever slept.

Greg’s response was “she gets by on very little. I get by on about five.”

My housemate’s mocking of my sleeping patterns, and the words of someone I greatly admired finally struck me. Would it be possible to get by on five hours sleep a day? I barely functioned on no sleep. But I functioned. And I was used to staying up late talking with my friend Sare at that stage. I’d done the five hours sleep unintentionally before.

And maybe if I trained myself to only sleep five hours a night I’d function a lot better when this bloody insomnia reared it’s ugly head again.

And so it began, surprisingly, it only took me about a week to get used to it. I’d have an energy drink in the mornings to wake me up, and I’d always had trouble waking up in the mornings before so that was relatively unchanged.

As my friend Alyce pointed out to me years later, I always look like crap in the mornings. I suspected this has always been the case, and can guarantee you that ‘looking like crap’ never went away during insomnia period.

Speaking of insomnia: with the five hours a sleep night it never happened again.

That sentence was worded awkwardly for a reason. Because many years later, at the insistence of friends and family members that only sleeping five hours a night wasn’t healthy, and was repeatedly sighted as a reason for my ‘perpetual lateness’ (despite the fact the ‘perpetual lateness’ dated back to primary school long before ‘late night Liam’ was around) I decided to give normal sleeping patterns a try.

For two weeks I reverted back to normal sleeping patterns. At first I was irritable about how much less time I had because I was sleeping all the time. I was moody, I still had trouble waking up in the mornings, I was still perpetually late, and I felt even more tired and exhausted all the time.

You know how you get cranky from over sleeping? Well by that stage that was me if I got more than six hours. (which yes, did happen on Saturdays and Sundays when the fight to wake up was a lot harder to justify) And I was getting 10 hours a night.

I was short tempered at work. Short tempered with housemates. Short tempered with my friends. I was an emo jerk.

So if course me being in the best of moods is when the insomnia reared it’s ugly head. It took one night of no sleep to send me running back to my five hours a night.

And I get it’s not ‘normal’. It’s normal for me though and I’m okay with that. When I lived in shared housing I was used to moving around quietly after midnight (or 10pm depending on when the housemates went to bed). When I go to the coast with friends, travel and stay at a friends house, I’m content to read and keep myself occupied until 2am when they’ve all long since gone to sleep.

It’s become so normal that I actually feel better when it starts getting darker outside. Once even going as to post an FB status on a particularly bad day that said “I wish it was night. I always feel better when it’s night.” (This immediately followed by my friend Stu informing me that was because I was a ‘gay sparkly vampire’. Ah friends, you’ve got to love ’em.)

I read up on polyphasic sleeping patterns earlier this year. Essentially sleeping for 20 minutes every four hours so essentially only sleeping for 2 hours a day. There other types of polyphasic sleeping, one in particular is spreading it out to equate to four hours a day, so with five I’m actually doing pretty well in comparison.

For the most part I function fairly normally. I look like shit in the mornings and am generally in dire need of either a run or caffeine to return to normal. Other than that you couldn’t tell I only function on five or so hours sleep.

It assumes me a little when I mention actions I’ve done 1am in the morning and see I look of disbelief on someone’s face. It’s a gentle reminder that to them 1-2am is a foreign time that is generally spent sleeping.

I remember watching a movie a couple of years back, it might have even been ‘The Santa Clause’ with Tim Allen, and there’s a scene where the father and son wake up in the middle of the night and it dawned on me that there was no longer an almost time of the night that if you’re awake during it doesn’t feel right because everyone else is asleep. Everyone is generally asleep when I’m moving about at night so that’s not unfamiliar to me.

I accept this may change when I get a girlfriend. (Note: I’m using the phrase ‘when’ now. OPTIMISM!) Unless of course she has the same sleeping patterns as me in which case I should probably marry her.