Tag Archives: absinthe

Origins #25

26 May

Rene had sent through what effectively translated to “It’s not gonna happen. Leave me alone.”

I had conceded that I was out of options and that all I could do now was grit my teeth and try to get through a shitload of unexpected feelings while trying to cope with all the other shit I had going on.

Stress proof

People often get the impression that I’m unaffected by what’s happening in my life. My former manager Mike Monarch, once told me:

 “Nothing ever rattles you. You just keep going no matter what’s happening. It’s like you’re stress proof.”

I’d received many similar comments over the years. I appreciate that people saw me that way, but I had never thought it to be true. Things affect me just as badly as anyone else, but things still need to get done when you’re doing it rough, so I try to carry on and not react, which I suppose looks the same as not being affected.

ectqp

That’s the only way I knew to do things, so that’s what I was going to do.

Everyone’s a comedian

In the following week I tried to hunker down. I tried to distract myself. I tried to not feel anything by doing anything and everything else I could think of.

It wasn’t working.

Having had Rene demand I ask her out and then reject me with practically no explanation was hard enough, but everyone at work was still hassling me with jokes and teasing about her having stayed at my place. I tell you what, after the 47th “How’s Rene?” of the day, my patience would wear thin.

ok-fine

But I couldn’t snap at them because no one was allowed to know that we had hooked up, or that she had demanded I ask her out, or that she then told me we couldn’t go out, and that left me completely head-fucked. All they knew was it was fun to make jokes.

What’s reality got to do with it?

On top of that, the standard hassles from my manager Gus continued:

“I need this project finished tomorrow and this other project finished by Tuesday, and this is a new project that I want done by the end of the week and I need you to show Larry how to write the XML for those other projects, and there’s a bug causing the system to show the wrong name on the third page of the sign-up and that also affects the back-end in the participant surname somehow, I need that resolved immediately.” – Gus

“Listen, Gus, I’ve asked you to put things like this into an email because there’s no way I’ll remember all that. Also, there’s no way I can get that first project and second project done in less than a month, so there’s no way I can achieve those deadlines, let alone do all the other stuff you just listed.” – Me

“I thought you were supposed to be a good developer. A good developer would be able to keep up. Stop being so negative. Just get it done.” – Gus

“I’ll do as much as I can but I’m telling you right now, no one could get all that work done in such a short period of time.” – Me

“Stop wasting time arguing about it. Just do it.” – Gus

Gus always asked for the impossible. Even at my best I could never keep up with his nonsensical theories on how much work could be done in an hour, let alone a week.

do-it

I was doing my best not to think about Rene, but I’d run into her sister, or cop another joke about her, or see her name on a file, and I’d get distracted thinking about it. So not only was it already impossible to keep up with Gus’ ridiculous demands, I wasn’t even running on all 8 cylinders.

Cat, please exit bag

I’d nearly made it through another week but I didn’t think I could cope much longer.

After work I received a phone call from a former Everlong colleague, Bea. Bea had worked admin at Everlong for 7 years before quitting in frustration that they wouldn’t give her a shot in marketing. Bea had moved on not long after Gus had started, so she knew all about his bullshit, and she knew Rene fairly well too.

Bea and I had gotten really close in the time we worked together and I was stoked to hear from her. She told me how well she was doing in her new marketing job and how her manager there was praising her performance.

And then she told me she’d heard a rumour about me and Rene from some of the girls she used to work with.

I wasn’t sure how to handle it. I trusted Bea and desperately wanted to talk about the situation, but I’d promised not to. I asked her what she’d heard. She said that everyone was sure I was a total player and I’d had a one night stand with Rene and that’s why Tim Everlong was furious at me.

I told Bea that I’d tell her the truth, on the proviso that she not tell anyone else, and that nobody else knew anything, so if the word got out, I’d know she was the one who told. I made her promise.

dktpnky

I sat there at my kitchen counter in my shitty little apartment and told her exactly what had happened. The cool evening breeze rushed over me, hurrying its way between the open balcony door and the open front door as I relayed the tale.

Bea asked all the questions I’d been asking. All I could tell her was that I didn’t know why Rene had acted the way she had, or what was going to happen from there on out.

Two bags, one cat

As I hopped up to get a drink I turned and faced the open front door. There was Larry from work.

cat

He stammered out,

H-h-h-hey, are w-w-we still hang-hang-hanging out to-tonight?

I’d completely forgotten I’d made plans to watch The Jersey Shore with him that night. I had no idea how long he’d been standing there. I told Bea I had to go, hung up, and told Larry to come in.

He was flustered. Larry is the sort of guy who is flustered a lot anyway, but this was more than he standard jitter. He was properly nervous. He’d heard something that clued him into what had happened between me and Rene and he was clearly stressed out by that.

I asked him straight up, “What did you hear?”
“Nothing… I… didn’t… didn’t. Nothing. Nothing at all.”, he said, visibly shaking.

I told him it was ok. It wasn’t his fault he overheard.

Larry’s the sort of bloke that loves a bit of gossip and I knew he’d keep my secret because he thought I was some sort of superhero because I could talk to women without making it awkward. Oh, how wrong he was, hey?

Unlucky Larry

I went through and told Larry the whole ordeal. There was a lot of “what are you going to do?”, “What about Tim? Do you think he’ll fire you?”, “what about…”

nervous

I explained my plan to cop it on the chin and not let it affect me. I told him I was happy he knew because I’d been unable to talk about it until then, and I thought having someone who knew everyone involved and could see it from a less stressed-out perspective would help.

We yapped about it for hours while the queued episodes the Jersey Shore dribbled by with stories of drama that felt disturbingly relatable. Eventually Larry called it a night and I was left to deal with knowing that I’d  broken my promise.

r2qfh

I had very much needed to talk about it, but Larry probably wasn’t the right guy for the job. I’d become good friends with Larry and valued his opinion on things, but he was a very nervous guy and a lot of the points he had raised were the opposite of calming. Whatever I’d gained by letting the truth out, I’d lost to the new concerns Larry raised.

Denial will do the trick

Fucking drama. All that effort to avoid it and it had still found a way to detonate itself all over me. I was caked in it and there was sweet fuck all I could do about it. Except of course, to pretend it wasn’t happening.

no-prob

It was a foolproof plan. And it worked, for all of a day, that being the next day at work, but it was a Friday and maybe the glimmer of the weekend ahead had more to do with me getting through it than the THERE IS DEFINITELY NOTHING WRONG attitude I’d taken on.

im-fine

I’d gotten very quiet. I got through the usual Friday night after work drinks session almost completely silently by focussing mostly on stuffing my face with food and pouring beer in my mouth between bites. It was not an elegant solution, but it was working.

Before I left for the night, Larry reminded me that he was having a party at his place that Saturday.

What’s that, little fairy? You can help?

I spent the rest of that night and most of the following day in bed. I don’t think I slept at all. I remember staring little holes into my ceiling. I remember looking at my phone wondering when I would actually sleep. I remember not wanting to go to Larry’s party.

See, Australia’s greatest motorsport event, Bathurst was on the next day, and I always get up early to watch that, usually about 5:30am.

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But I had to go, because Larry didn’t have much luck with people showing up to his parties. There was a very real possibility that if I didn’t go, he might end up with nobody there at all. Plus, Larry’s place was barely two blocks away from mine so I really had no excuse.

I was happy to see that other people had showed up. The core group of the guys from work were already there when I arrived, which was great because they were all good for a laugh, and a laugh was exactly what I was in need of. Well, any distraction really, and therein lay the problem because there was a partygoer there I hadn’t anticipated… a little green fairy.

IMG_3320

Larry had heard my stories about enjoying the very fancy ritual of having an Absinthe and decided to buy an entire bottle of the most aggressive, high alcohol content Absinthe he could find.

Larry offered me some. I accepted. He couldn’t finish his and offered it to me. I accepted. His sister couldn’t finish hers, so she offered it to me. I accepted.

shots

It turned out very few attendees were willing to ignore the face-kicking nature of this super-charged Absinthe to get to its ever-so-pleasant mind numbing effects. But I was willing.

damn-good-stuff

I was very willing.

And as the bottle emptied, so did my mind.

I didn’t have any problems.

Everything was fine.

The more Absinthe I drank, the less static I could hear.

My mind was getting quiet.

All my thoughts were drifting away.

I was breaking free.

wine

What’s your poison?

I don’t remember anything after the third full glass of Absinthe I consumed. That little green fairy had deceived me. She wasn’t calming me down. She was trying to drown me. She was trying to poison me. She was trying to suck me into the darkness forever. She was trying to kill me.

I drank roughly 3/4 of that bottle of Absinthe and I’m fairly certain I gave myself alcohol poisoning in the process.

giphy1

The rest of this I only know based on what people later told me, or the evidence I discovered for myself…

Larry was so worried about me that he had someone drive me the two or so blocks home. Despite the short distance, I managed to vomit in their car, the first of several times for the evening.

grgl

 

I always loop my key chain around my belt loop to ensure I never lose them, but I had forgotten that somehow, and after I opened the front door to my shitty little apartment I apparently walked straight on with the key still in the lock, and fell face first when the slack of the chain came tight.

wasted

Based on the evidence I found, instead of taking the now bent key out of the lock, I kicked my shoes off and climbed out of my jeans. Then I crawled onwards, leaving the front door wide open. My key left in the lock, with my jeans dangling off it via the chain.

No joke

I know this all sounds silly and funny now, but I’m not kidding around when I mentioned alcohol poisoning. I’ve drunk a LOT in my time. I’ve woken up with the sort of hangover that left me promising to never drink again, and then done that again the next day. I’ve been unable to get out of bed from Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon, but I have never, ever felt anywhere near as bad as I did the morning after all that Absinthe.

That was the only time I have ever been worried I wouldn’t survive.

frg

To put it into perspective a light hangover lasts a morning, a regular hangover lasts a day, and a severe hangover lasts a weekend. It took me more than a week to recover from this one.

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I felt how this looks

I was physically, mentally, and emotionally destroyed.

So much for denial.

Full circle

And with that, we’re now back to Origins #1.

That’s not the end of the story. The drama only escalates from here. Things get more insane with Rene, and I’ll introduce you to Mia, who makes Rene appear rational by comparison. Dear lord, what a life I’ve lived.

Seeya next time.

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Origins #23

23 May

After yet another awkward moment with my boss’s daughter I was trying to ignore the bombardment of mockery from my colleagues regarding the fact that she’d spent the night at my place. I’d made it through the day, despite the surprise meeting, and had escaped the office at last.

I spent the rest of that day trying to figure out how to deal with my very complex situation. I had found myself between the proverbial rock and hard place and there was no obvious way out. Rene had asked me to keep the situation secret, so I couldn’t talk to anyone about it, which meant I had to put up with all this teasing despite currently trying to deal with being rejected by a girl who had literally demanded that I ask her out.

I really needed to talk to someone about it. Like, realllllly needed to, but I’d agreed not to. So I stared holes in the walls and ceiling hunting for a way to not get too stressed out about it all. Even though I was confident I’d figure it out, there was still emotion to it.

The scenario had hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was hurting very, very badly but I don’t think I was capable of understanding just how deeply I’d been cut. All I knew at that point was I wanted the situation to change as soon as possible. I don’t remember that night especially well, but I’m sure I didn’t sleep a wink.

Another day, another billion jokes about fucking the boss’s daughter

I trudged off to work again. I’d been knackered the day before but I had gone another night without sleep, so I was completely annihilated. And the jokes came my way all day long.

I tried to politely deny their insinuations as they come in from my colleagues in my little room. I tried to dissuade their innuendos as they came from colleagues from other rooms around the building. I tried to calm the tide as they started coming in via email from our head office. I couldn’t keep up with them. They came in faster than I could read them.

It was not an easy day.

I wasn’t sure how to cope with it, and I wanted Rene to at least see what I was dealing with, so I collated a few of the more ‘entertaining’ emails and forwarded them to her. Rene replied that it looked like everyone was having fun and that she wished she could get in there and fire a few responses back.

But… Powderfinger!

If you recall from earlier, my favourite band were doing a farewell tour before retiring. I had tickets to their show that night. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, but there was no way in hell I’d miss that show.

Powderfinger always had the ability to articulate the world I’d been living in and convert what I’d been dealing with in my life into a form of music that resonated deeply in me.

I assume their music sounds dated to anyone listening for the first time so many year’s later, but they were hugely influential on me when I first heard them as a 16 year old kid in high school.

In a lot of ways Powderfinger played the role of providing a soundtrack to key events of my life. When I left school and started to work as a pizza delivery boy I would listen to Internationalist on loop for hours on end in my car. When I went back to study multimedia they’d be on high rotation on my clunky portable CD player and my very first mp3 player. They seemed to be at every major music festival so I’d often see them live and be ever amazed by their ability to grab a crowd by the ears and leave everyone smiling at the end.

I wasn’t alone in liking them. They were Australia’s biggest band for nearly a decade. They won all the awards an Aussie band can win and were heralded by critics and punters alike.

I was 31 at that point and I suppose their retirement shouldn’t have been as important to me as it was. Something I had always enjoyed was coming to an end. One more thing was being taken away from me. For reasons that I’ll explain a little later, I had always found those moments difficult.

Nevertheless, I could be sad about it later. I had one more chance to see them live with thousands of other die-hard fans, and that’s exactly what I was going to do.

Exhaustion? Bullshit! Grab us a drink

There was one solution for any and all problems where I grew up, and that was alcohol. I’d always thought that a very primitive approach to problem solving, but I was out of ideas and I wasn’t about to waste the last opportunity I had to see Powderfinger, so I met up with my friends for a drink before the show.

We found our way to some fancypants bar a very short walk from the venue and proceeded to do our very best impression of liquor consumption machines. It’s funny the way a quiet drink leads to a loud drink. In this case it lead us to the loudest of all drinks; a drink I had only recently become accustomed with in Europe… Absinthe.

Being a fancy pants bar, they not only had Absinthe, they did the whole ritual of  burning the sugar with the fancy spoon and everything.

 

You know there’s something wrong when the bar tender’s going to that level of complexity and all you’re thinking is “just get me the fucking alcohol, mate.”

A few more rounds (or ten) and it was time to go to the show! I might not have known exactly who or where I was but I was ready to have a good time.

HOLY SHIT. THEY’RE SINGING MY LIFE AT ME.

Powderfinger were known for writing songs that people related to. Even completely sober I related to those songs. Half full of absinthe, dealing with everything I was dealing with, the impact was amplified.

I mean, they started with this…

and then threw this in.

I’m sure you get the idea.

They played a bunch of brilliant songs. The crowd was loving it. The band was loving it, and letting us know it too. It was a big love-in. They even played that same stones track I’d heard them playing as I foolishly leaned in to try and kiss Rene only a few days prior.

It was as good a show as anyone could have asked for, and like many other things in my life at that point, it was coming to an end weather I liked it or not. The appropriateness of the moment was not missed by anyone as they finished a bittersweet night with thousands of people singing along to their most beloved, most bittersweet song.

And with that a present became past

The encore had been and gone. The second encore had been and gone. That was the last time I’ll ever feel the buzz of joy that always tingled its way through a packed crowd at a Powderfinger show.

It was over. The thousands of screaming fans begging for more couldn’t change that reality and eventually we rall ealised that and began the inch by inch shuffle to the exits.

I was forlorn. The nostalgia had drowned me. That moment in time summed up exactly how I was feeling about my life. Everything was on the verge of slipping away and there was nothing I could do about it.

What’s that you say, alcohol?

You think I should send Rene an email? Oh surely you jest, old friend. Now is hardly the time for such things!

Oh how I wish I had not listened to my old friend alcohol, but I didn’t recognise him hidden in that disguise as my new friend Absinthe. So after I got home from that very sentimental show, I sent Rene a very sentimental email.

I can assure you that if there is a way to convert a cringe directly into an email, I managed to do so that night. I don’t remember much of what I wrote, but I know it included the following concepts:

“You don’t need to reply to this.”

“I really don’t understand what happened.”

“I like you more when you let your guard down.”

“If you get your head around whatever you’re dealing with and want to hang out, I’ve got some free time Sunday”

Oh God, the shame! It’s so humiliating to think about the fact that I actually hit send on that. Fuck.

embarrased

Just one of many, many, many more cringey things to come though.

 

Next time…

Rene replies to the email she didn’t have to reply to and my sneaky little buddy Absinthe gives me a few days rest before he doing his level best to kill me.

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