Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.




I was born in the early hours of december the third, 1975. Unlike my brother, who was born upside down after a long and difficult labour that nearly killed him, I popped out of my mothers womb in less than 2 hours. My mother, who loves a good valium as much as she loves a strong martini, didn't even take any drugs. This is in contrast to my brothers birth, where she was so drugged up she didn't even notice the medical students who had crowded their way into the operating theatre to witness the rare breach birth and the subsequent surgical manipulations that prevented my brother from being strangled by his own umbilical cord. I guess this set a precedent for the rest of my life, or at least until my teenage years, of always feeling like my brother got all the attention.
My first memories are: looking at a pair of roller skates hanging on a doorknob, playing in a sandpit, and being pushed around in a little blue toy car. This little blue car had pedals so you could drive it. The pedals were fixed gear so that if someone pushed you very fast, or if you rolled down the steep driveway that seperated the garden from the main road outside our house, the pedals would spin around crazily and try to trap your feet. It felt dangerous and exciting. That house in which I first lived, in Sydney, my father sold to John Laws, a famous radio presenter, in a sale he always regrets. We then moved to Melbourne.
I started my education at a boy's only private school in a suburb called Malvern. I wore a strictly enforced uniform of shirt, shorts, tie and blazer, with little polished black shoes and socks that always had to be up. My mother is very fond of reminding me that I loved to poo my pants, and I was often sent home with my dirty underwear in a plastic bag. The first teacher I remember properly is Ms Mundy, my 2nd grade teacher. I was fond of her at the time, she seemed like a wise old grandmother and was very kind to me, but there is something about her that recently I have had a hard time trying to reconcile. There was a Japanese boy in my class, I think his name was Yoshi. He didn't speak that much english and so generally didn't have many friends. He always seemed to have a runny nose. He was a bit hyperactive, and Ms Mundy made him set under her desk and if he said anything or interrupted her lesson in any way she would give him a short sharp kick. At the time we all thought this was hilarious, but it was only a few years ago I re-examined this memory and realised what a cruel and humiliating thing it was to do to a person.
Another memorable teacher I had at school was old Mr Philips, who liked to whack naughty boys with
a wooden ruler. We had to hold out our upturned hand for him to do this, and hope that he didn't hit
the knuckle on our thumb, which really hurt. Mr Dougherty was another teacher I remember, he was
the first teacher that made me think I had some special skills different from other boys - a nice feeling and a big part of developing my identity. He once sent me down to the headmasters office to read him a story I had written. It was a murder mystey; the gardener did it. I remember drawing a big picture of a bloody axe on the cover of the manuscript, in red and blue texta. I guess in the end primary school was pretty fun, but I should say something important; I fought a lot. I loved to fight. I fought with my friends and with my brother, and with strange kids I met in the park or who I met riding around the neighborhood on my bicycle. Its odd to me now. I seemed to be fearless. Coming home with a bloody nose or a black eye was nothing to me. I had rage in my soul.
It wasn't until my family and I moved to Singapore when I was thirteen that the rage subsided. I didn't stop being angry until later, but I stopped fighting. I don't know why the rage was there in the first place but I can give a few reasons why it went away. Firstly, my brother, who is older than me, didn't join us in Singapore. My parents gave him the choice and he decided he wanted to stay in Australia and go to boarding school. I don't know if this was a good choice, but he turned out pretty good in the end, and it certainly stopped us from fighting all the time. I love him very much, but our childhood was defined by competition. Another reason I stopped fighting was that the new school I went to was co-educational. That was awesome and scary. I had already been interested in girls for some time, but had absolutely no contact with any women other than my mother and the pictures in my father's porno magazines. So meeting and talking to girls every day was crazy good, though I was pretty shy at first. In my first year in Singapore I managed to score my first kiss, but it wasn't until my second year there, when I was fourteen, that I broke out of my shelI. I met this guy on the first day of the school year, Luke, we are still good friends. We bonded over a lie I told; that I had smoked marijuana. I still feel guilty about this. I've told Luke I lied about this, and he doesn't seem to care, but he still mentions it if someone asks us how we met.
Anyway, Luke really had smoked marijuana, and he had also fucked chicks and even knew how to talk to them, impress them even. A popular guy. We became good friends surprisingly, because at the time I think I thought of myself as a bit of a loser. Oh, well, things change. I lost my virginity about a year later, to a poor, miserable girl I suspected had been abused by her father. Recently she contacted me online, on Facebook. I'm not sure how to respond. My first time with her was pretty bad, I was hopelessly drunk and had to stop halfway to go and throw-up. I think I might have vomited on her too, a little bit.
It was around this time that I really got into art, music and drugs. I got Edvard Munch's woodcut of "The Scream" tattooed on my arm when I was fifteeen, and my mother was so outraged she tried to scrub it off with steel wool. Good old mum, she loves cleaning. I took LSD when I was sixteen, though I had been experimenting with marijuana, speed and heroin for a little while before then. But the acid was different. I took it on a beach in Thailand, during a full moon party. It really changed my outlook on life. I stopped being dark and angry and started to see that many good and beautiful things existed in life. I even changed the kind of clothes I wore, from black and gothic to bright and colorful. I mean, I guess this is a typical story of a teenager, tuning out and turning on to the hippie mentality, and you are
probably anticipating a dark turn of events where I end up in rehab with a monkey on my back, broken relationships and a prison record, but none of that happened. I wouldn't recommend drugs to anyone now, because I think they make you lazy, but my experiences were pretty positive. But anyway..... I graduated from highschool with extremely high grades, despite the fact that I didn't study much and might of even had an LSD flashback during one of my exams. This really annoyed my first proper girlfriend, Saska, who was very studious. There is a lot I could say about this wonderful and beautiful girl, but I guess the most interesting thing to tell is that she was a Christian and believed in saving herself for marriage. We dated for almost two years and never had intercourse. Of course I tried to persuade her, I told her, you will only lose it when you are a little older to someone who doesn't love you or even care about you. When school ended, all of us in this strange little enclave of an international school had some big choices to make. Mostly they involved going back to our country of origin, but Saska went to study at Oxford in England. And of course, she lost her virginity to some random guy exactly the way I predicted. Even now, I still feel a little cheated by this, but I know its a selfish and shallow emotion.
The second most interesting things about my first girlfriend was that she was the school captain. It was a case of the good girl, the teacher's pet, going out with the bad boy, the druggie, the rebel. But really, were any of us that bad? I may have been a bit on the wild side, but it was a very priviliged school we all attended, a mecca of money and education. My father may have been a middle class university lecturer on a contract that paid for my school fees, but some of these other guys I went to school with were fucking LOADED. One guy was the son of a Hong Kong property developer and had his own apartment in the city with a maid, chauffer and endless rooms of gold-plated furniture, even though he lived in the school boarding house during the week. Another girl was the granddaughter of Mr Shaw of Shaw Cinema - if you have ever seen a movie at an Asian cinema you would know who I mean. One girl I think was some kind of princess from Bangladesh, I once got really drunk and tried to make out with her, she ran to the bathroom and cried. The other school captain, there was always a boy and a girl, was a smarmy golden boy from Malaysia I never liked. He's now in politics, married to the prime minister of Malaysia's daughter and very probably could become the next prime minister himself. I went to India when this little dream world ended, and ended up in another dream world that nearly killed me. I caught amoebic dysentry and was so stoned all the time I let myself go without proper treatment for weeks. I ended up one night in a ratty hotel room in the holy city of Pushka, in Rajastan, bleeding from my anus and hallucinating danger signs around me. Big red danger signs flashing "WARNING YOU ARE ABOUT TO DIE". I crawled out of bed and called to my friend in a morbid whisper. He woke up and took me to the hospital on the back of a hand-drawn wooden trolley pulled by an old indian delivery man. On the way there we passed a dead cow; it had died in the night and Brahmin priests were covering it with an embroidered white sheet while chanting, because cows are sacred. I survived, in the end all I needed was a saline drip and some good hardcore western antibiotics. But I have a photo of me taken at this time, sitting in a rattan chair. Man, was I skinny.
I moved back to Australia and lived in Sydney, the city of my birth. I dropped out of university after 6 months and spent a good 3 or 4 years going to outdoor bush parties, travelling around the east coast and hanging out with hippe types, we called ouselves "ferals". I learnt how to twirl a firestick, make a 3 paper joint and wire up a sound system. I ran a club night in Sydney for about a year and dabbled in graphic design. I went out with some strange and wild girls. Concurrently, and perversely, I also held down a part-time job in a law firm as a paralegal. I would rock up to work in a suit and tie with my dreadlocks and lip-ring, and work on a case representing the chemical giant Monsanto, who was being sued for manufacturing a faulty IUD that made women infertile, and then at night hang out with a bunch of green activists and bitch about big industry and globalisation. I went to a WTO conference in Melbourne and got caught in a riot.
But ultimately, it was all kind of unsatisfying, so I went back to university to study design. I became very close to my grandfather, a really talented architect, and he became my mentor. But at the same time, he fell out with my father over property and they ended up suing each other. A huge family rift occurred and I was stuck in the middle. Once when my grandfather was sick and in hospital he asked me if I would kill my father. He meant it as a kind of joke, though it came out all wrong. But still, I thought, how the hell could he say that to me?
But I also met my current girlfriend, who I care about more than any other person I have ever known, at university then, so things weren't all that bad. In fact they were pretty good. I saw her in the jewellery workshop and changed all my design projects to jewellery so I could spend more time there. She acted very cool and aloof to me at first, but summoning up the nerve to ask her out is one of the things I am most proud of in my life. On our very first date we ended up making love on the floor of my apartment. It was amazing. I met her parents, who are Japanese ceramists, and learnt a whole new way of designing. She comforted me when my grandfather died and I had to speak at his funeral. It was a total cock up, a humiliating experience. I read a speech I wrote from a piece of printed paper, too fast and too quietly; none of the old people that filled the church could hear. I was so nervous. One of these old people, a female friend of my grandfathers, asked me if she could have a copy of my speech, I told her she could have the copy I had with me. I went back into the church to retrieve it from the pew where I left it, but the priest had put in the bin. I never saw the old women again. After that, I moved to Japan with my girlfriend. I worked really long and hard hours at a graphic design firm, but just designed shit, shit and more shit. Real estate catalogues, english textbooks and financial reports. We went to a lot of Tokyo subculture parties together and I became really interested in fashion. My girlfriend was designing really beautiful acrylic jewellery at the time, so we decided, during a trip to Venice, to start a jewellery business. I gained tremendous satisfaction in building the business and seeing people wear and enjoy my girlfriend's designs. But I was a little jealous, I felt my own creativity was dissolving into thin air. So I applied to study a masters degree in Holland. When I was accepted my girlfriend cried and cried. She thought we would break up and it would all come to nothing. But its OK, I came to Holland alone at first, but she's joining me next month, to come and live with me in this little apartment in Eindhoven where I am writing this now.