Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Evolution From 'The Cool Girl'.

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”

I was reminded of this passage largely because the trailer for the movie Gone Girl was released today. The quote above is taken directly from the book on which the movie is based. The passage itself comes very early on, and it was the hook for me to keep reading, because the passage rang true in many ways. This is startling because I have read so few contemporary fiction novels in the last two years. At its heart Gone Girl may be a detective novel, but to me at least (for reasons that become clearer if you read the book), it is all about this passage.

Thinking about that quote again tonight also crystallised a few things. I write here when I am sad or mad, and not when I'm glad or happy. There's only one thing I'm sad about these days, and really, there's not much I can do about it. Since Valentine's Day (around the date of my last post) I've pretty much decided to forego active attempts at dating. 

Yes, I've made such pronoucements before, but that was in the hope that by 'not trying' someone would fall into my lap. And I've actually followed through on this for two months now before telling the world this time. Previously, it was the whole 'something will happen when you least expect it' type thing. This time though I've not deleted accounts as a form of a grand gesture, I've just avoided visiting the sites because I'm Tired. So Tired of trying to find things that I can't ever find. As expected, when I'm not actively seeking someone, they're not actively seeking me either. It's been an interesting experience.

Which brings me back to 'The Cool Girl'. Prior to the online dating thing, that passage describes my ideal imaginary girlfriend. These three years have pretty much taught me that reality gives way to imagination. 'The Cool Girl' would never be interested in dating me for all sorts of reasons. Mostly because that passage describes the typical version of 'fun' and that is definitely not my idea of 'fun'.

The other thing that I've learnt is that I have a very minuscule chance of finding the person for me online. I realised this way too late. Also, the person I actually want is different to the person I think I want. I think I want two thirds of that 'Cool Girl' (you pick which third to leave out) and what I actually want is a pretty, smart girl who wants to talk to me about the things I love, and doesn't get bored of me being comfortable with my sedentism.

This both pleases and terrifies me.

Now that I'm at least 90% happy with how my life is turning out for perhaps the first time ever, I am even wondering why I even need a girl in the first place. Is it physical? Is it to inflate my self esteem, so I can say this to friends and colleagues:  
Because we are together this pretty, smart girl thinks that I'm worthy of spending consecutive days with, never thinks I'm boring, loves me in spite of my disability, sleeps next to me in my formerly empty bed, and is someone I can invite to your momentous events so I don't feel uncomfortable and awkward.
If all that is true those are pretty shitty reasons. And this is what I'm still trying to figure out. I'm 'lonely', but I've always been 'lonely'. I don't know what life feels like without 'loneliness'. Would the 'pretty, smart girl' end the 'loneliness'? If not, what then?

The answer to that terrifies me too. 

Monday, 17 February 2014

The WB Standard

Last year I moaned about why I hate Valentine's Day. This year I decided to do it on social media.
Because I haven't met anyone who has the brains of Doris Kearns Goodwin, the artistry of Joan Didion and the looks of Kristen Stewart you love birds make me sick, and also a tiny bit jealous.
For the past two years my friend Nikki and I have formed a pact of sorts: to be each other's valentine. I gave her some awesome books on atheism last year. Part of this pact stemmed from contradictory emotions we shared, loathing the sentiment of the day, but we felt bound by our mutual loneliness.

Lorenz and Hart tell us that 'each day is Valentine's Day', but if it were, I would want to shoot myself, because the day has turned into an excuse to rub your happiness in other people's faces. Maybe I'm too cyncial, or maybe I am the opposite.

A few weeks ago I finished my third viewing of the family drama Everwood, a wonderfully underrated story about life, death, the bonds of family, and of course first love. Sublimely written, and acted, I would recommend the series to anyone. I come for the writing, I stay for Amy Abbott, the heroine of the series. She's everything I wanted in a girl when I was 16: smart, beautiful, earnest and witty. Oh, Amy, if only I could play piano like Ephram!

Amy is only one in a long line of WB women. There's Joey Potter, Rory Gilmore and Peyton Sawyer too. All play the same archetype: vulnerable, smart, good looking and oh so literate. See the problem here for a future mate is that all these fictional characters set a far too high standard compared with reality. Some smart people would say that it is just another excuse to avoid getting hurt.

And I suppose that's true. Many years ago when I was at the height of my first love (non reciprocated) a mutual friend of her and I said something I have never forgotten.

To expect is to demand, and demanding can only lead to disappointment. Don't demand, don't expect, just let it happen.

Wise advice. Pity I never bothered taking it.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Do I Make You Feel Uncomfortable?

Lately I have taken part in some conversations which have led me to conclude that absolutely no one likes an angry cripple. My antipathy towards my disability has been well documented, and now that I have been healthy again for well over a year I can say with certainty that my physical disability is by far the worst thing in my life. It's not even close.

I hate it with a passion you cannot even comprehend.

But if you walk that is not what you want to hear. How do I know this? It is because that every time I express visceral hatred about my disability, your kind tries to talk me out of it. But look at what you can do, you are so much smarter than many who can walk! Well thanks, but that is not the point. The customary cliche crippled folk like to use is to ask you to spend a day in a wheelchair. Sorry walkies, but a day isn't enough. Try a lifetime.

It is not totally your fault. After all, the mainstream media teaches you that there are only a few disabled people who are 'successful'. Despite being a crip, do you know what else they have in common? They are all members of the disability pride brigade. From the savvy and smart, to the plain condescending, and finally the most annoying category, the athletic martyrs, these people all tell the world that they LOOOOVE their disability. If a walkie suggested that life might just be a little bit tougher because they are disabled, they cry 'ableism'. Of course, how individuals respond to their own disability is up to them, but the fact that the other side of the argument is hardly presented at all really, really does my head in.

The person who can walk needs a balanced portrayal of what life is like having a physical disability. It should be okay for me to tell you that day to day life is a constant stream of hardship, because it is. And you know what? It is healthy for me to tell you this. I spent 27 years trying to repress my anger on the subject. It led me to bad places and a ton of bad decisions.

Part of this was due to the fact that I was conditioned, both consciously and sub-conciously, to tell walkies that I was 'lucky' by comparison. While part of that is correct, let's deal with some brutal truth here. I was also incredibly unlucky. Through no fault of any one person, and for some reason that won't be discovered in my lifetime, not quite enough oxygen entered my brain during a crucial stage of my gestation. I blame no one. I was just unlucky.

However, I am extraordinarily lucky that I have two parents that transformed me from a diagnosed 'vegetable', to someone who aims to be a psudo-intellectual. None of this anger is directed at them, nor will it ever be. They should be (and are) proud of every decision they have ever made when it comes to my upbringing. But at the same time they have the right to be upset at the hand they have been dealt too, if they choose to be. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they are not.

I do not expect you to understand how difficult my life is. Fortunately, you will never be able to. These are my issues. And this is my anger. Just because I choose to express this anger and wish my life was never this way, it doesn't mean that I want to die. I have a lot of unfinished business. But I'm not anyone's miracle either.

When people ask me about my disability, I tell them this.

I make the most out of a very bad situation    

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman Has Left The Stage

"Think of how many Hoffman performances are memorable because you don't want to think about them for long because they make you uncomfortable, not in that phony undergraduate drama student sense, but because they tease out some buried truth about humanity, maybe about you in particular, often within the context of a character you never expected to connect with, much less identify with." Matt Zoller Seitz


A towering figure in life and acting Philip Seymour Hoffman died 9 days ago, and yet many already feel his loss permeating through the past, present and potential of film making. Hoffman had a omnipresent career for the past 15 years, I never got tired of seeing him.

During the last week of 2013 I saw Hoffman in two of his more recent films: A Late Quartet and The Master. Two more different films you could not find. In the former he plays a violin player who is repressed in every sense of the word, emotionally, professionally and sexually. Watching that performance is an exercise in restraint, as Hoffman's character Robert Gelbert slowly combusts from the inside. In The Master, Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd in which he essentially channels Jim Jones, both in charismatic and maniacal ways. Hoffman oozes arrogance onscreen in a way he never did before. Though I have seen almost all of Hoffman's films, it is in The Master that he gives my favourite performance.

Almost all the obituaries have highlighted Hoffman's tendency to play outsiders. Whilst this is true in some cases (most notably in his other collaborations with Paul Thomas Anderson) I think this characterisation does him a disservice. In The Ides of March Hoffman plays the ultimate insider, as the campaign manager for the slick politician Mike Morris, played by George Clooney. Hoffman's performance is centred around the Machiavellian cynicism that I have confronted in all of my political life. The difference in Paul Zara, (Hoffman's character) is that you get the sense that while he enjoys the thrills of political oneupmanship, he has no idea what he believes in anymore. His final scene with Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling) in particular, unpacks everything you thought you knew about the character and reveals true despair and emptiness. Paul laments a wasted life.

Hoffman was certainly the greatest actor of Generation X. His ability to inhabit complex characters remains unmatched. Even when he appeared in material that was beneath his vast talents, you always had to look twice. He was not a villian for the sake of it, there was always a deep emotional resonance that contributed to the character's dastardly behaviour.

The tragedy of Phillip Seymour Hoffman is not that he has left us, but that he do so far too soon. I think he would have made a great Teddy Roosevelt in my imagined biopic. And he would have grown old gracefully while rewarding us artistically, like another recently departed thespian, Peter O'Toole. His Oscar winning turn as Truman Capote may be Hoffman's most obvious legacy, but to me his ability to play every kind of emotion will always stand the test of time.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

From Hope to Despair: The NDIS and the Battle for Individuals to Advocate

Three years ago this month an article I wrote on the failures of the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was published on ABC RampUp. I had attended an 'information session' designed to inform carers and people with a disability about what the new scheme would entail. There was no information, just propaganda. From then on I began an angry quest to stop the NDIS.

And I failed.

When the legislation was passed through both houses of the Australian Parliament, Julia Gillard considered it to be one of her greatest achievements as Prime Minister. I say that it was her worst. The reality was that the institutional power was always against those who opposed the NDIS. When the NDIS became law, it was said that many cried with joy. I cried tears, lots of them, because I was scared and terrified. I believed that the NDIS would be the tool to disempower hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, all in the guise of helping us. I remember talking with my parents. 'We are going to get screwed, and no one understands! How do I make them understand?'

Even I underestimated the devastating effects of the NDIS and it hasn't been implemented yet.

Wesley Mission gave me the opportunity to attend Griffith University's NDIS Symposium on Monday (the 3rd of February). It was an all day conference, designed to give various aspects of the disability sector the opportunity to discuss the tools that they need to ensure that they are ready for the NDIS. It was not a pleasant day in the slightest. I was angry going into the conference, I left in helpless disbelief.

Throughout the day, the majority of the 200 attendees and all of the speakers seemed to be in a trance like state. 'The NDIS is the best thing to happen to the disability sector in decades!' they would say. Yet not one of the speakers gave an explanation as to why. Instead they voiced the same concerns that I have expressed over the past three years. This is not me gloating. I take no pleasure in saying any of this.

The most interesting and insightful session was the first on eligibility. The Government Senator responsible for the NDIS rollout, Mitch Fifield suggested in his National Press Club Address in November last year that the NDIS would cover 450,000 Australians with a disability. However according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics there are 2 million people with disabilities. What happens to the other 1.5 million who don't fall under the purview of the NDIS? To me this is the most basic question of the whole conference.

It was left unanswered.

The question of who is not covered under the NDIS is a vexing one. If a person with a permanent disability is over 65 by the time the scheme is implemented in their state, they will not be covered under the NDIS, and they will instead be part of the Department of Aged Care, denying them access to auxiliary services on top of their care needs.

It is even worse for those who have a mental illness. According Caroline Earlich, Senior Research Fellow of the Griffith University Health Institute, of the 429,000 of those in Australia who are considered to have a 'serious mental illness', only 60,000 will be covered under the NDIS. She stated that the requirement of the NDIS that participants must have a 'permanent' disability is problematic when defining mental illness. The paradox is this: the people with a mental illness who require the most support (eg homeless, disenfranchised, or the most at risk of self harm) will receive the least amount of support.

Currently there are three trail sites for the NDIS. These sites are located in the Geelong region of Victoria, the Hunter region in New South Wales, and for children who live in South Australia. The issues that these trial sites have confronted are staggeringly obvious for those of us who have had any experience with disability bureaucracy. On an organisational level, the conference speakers repeatedly touted the employment opportunities for people to access in the newly formed National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), the body responsible for assessing applicants, and maintaining the case files of those who are successful. This undermines the very purpose of the scheme. Assessing the needs of those with a disability to fit government funding models is a highly skilled and complex process (more on that below). If applicants are not assessed correctly, they will not get access or the support services they require. If this is the case, you may as well ditch the scheme entirely. At minimum, those who aim to work with the NDIA should have tertiary qualifications in disability services, and ideally have experience in the field. Failure to do this will result in a 'pink bat' type of situation for the disabled, where ill-equipped operators will be able to gain access to employment without the necessary skills to help those with disability, thereby putting them in grave danger.  

For people with disabilities, the assessment process and its outcomes spell danger for us all. Presenters from Griffith University and those within the disability sector, repeatedly cited statistics from the trial sites which indicated a correlation between intellectual and verbal ability and their opportunity to gain access to services.

Put simply: if a person has no skills to advocate for their own needs, it is highly unlikely they will have the opportunity to access the necessary services that they require.

This is the trouble with a person based advocating system, as promoted under the NDIS for people who lack basic comprehension skills. How on earth will you be able to 'advocate' for what you (or your carer/guardian/caregiver) needs when you don't understand the information that is provided?

Again no answers were provided.

On a personal level, I am worried about my own future. The services that are provided to me at the Youngcare Apartments are based on a model called 'block funding'. The aim of block funding is to pool the resources of a certain group of people so they can access the support funding they need in a cost effective fashion. I would (with an uneducated estimate) guess that the person with the most needs in terms of support at Youngcare would cost the Queensland Government upwards of $2 million a year. There are others who would cost more than $1 million a year. No government would give those amounts of funding to a single personal (or their advocate) so they can allocate their funding how they wish. There are just too many risks. Therefore, 'block funding' says in Youngcare's case, that if I put my funding in a pool with the 16 other residents, we will be able to combine our collective resources and get access to around the clock support.

In other words, it is a free marketer's wet dream.

Opponents of block funding suggest that it undermines the ability for people with disabilities to choose how they want their support services allocated. While this is true in some cases, the argument misses the bigger picture. One of the presenters at the conference, Dr Donna McDonald, Senior Lecturer and Convenor of the Disability Studies Program at Griffith University (who also is hearing impaired with a ton personal experience in the sector) labelled block funding, 'draconian' for the very reasons highlighted above. When I directly challenged her as to whether this was an economic or moral response, she unsurprisingly answered the latter. While I'm sure Dr. McDonald is a powerful advocate on her own behalf, she fails to understand that block funding is the only method in which I have ever received the appropriate amount of support, and I'm not the only one. Block funding is my choice, and the majority of those who advocate for Youngcare. Block funding may not be the answer for Dr McDonald, but it is for us. While the great majority of the Conference delegates appeared to share Dr McDonald's view, the Government has yet to decide whether a block funding structure will be an option for those who want it under the NDIS.

I have resigned myself to the fact that the NDIS is here to stay. Rather than take on the huge despairing monolith that the NDIS has become. I aim to ensure that block funding is an option for those who want it, and for those who don't even realise they want it yet, but will one day realise that they will.

I may have lost the war, but I will never give up the passion for this battle.     

Saturday, 1 February 2014

'Her' & The Evolution of Online Romance

'Love is crazy. Love is a socially acceptable form of insanity.'

'You always wanted a wife without the challenge of wanting to find someone... its perfect.'



Her, though nominated for a bunch of Academy Awards is not the type of movie that will win any prestigious prizes. It is not a film with a significant political message, nor does it have a happy ending. Marketed as a quirky romance, the heart of the film is angry and disaffected. As more and more people turn to the internet for dating there is a particular emotional resonance throughout the movie that will appeal to lots of people. Her may be set in the not too distant future, but it is very much film of its time.
Theodore is a lonely man in the final stages of his divorce. When he's not working as a letter writer, his down time is spent playing video games and occasionally hanging out with friends. He decides to purchase the new OS1, which is advertised as the world's first artificially intelligent operating system, "It's not just an operating system, it's a consciousness," the ad states. Theodore quickly finds himself drawn in with Samantha, the voice behind his OS1. As they start spending time together they grow closer and closer and eventually find themselves in love. Having fallen in love with his OS, Theodore finds himself dealing with feelings of both great joy and doubt. As an OS, Samantha has powerful intelligence that she uses to help Theodore in ways others hadn't, but how does she help him deal with his inner conflict of being in love with an OS?
Her is perhaps the very definition of a critical darling with respected film critics giving it near universal acclaim. The film has been on their radar since 2012, when noted film critic, Mark Harris tracked the film through pre and post-production, in amongst storyline tweaks and casting changes. Her seems a natural fit for the cinefile who loves to over intellectualise, but this film has stayed with me during a four week period, and through two viewings for other reasons.

I have been involved in three online relationships. In my early 20s, I had never experienced any form of relationship, let alone one conducted online, so I thought such relationships had the advantage of 'looking past' my disability, where a desirable female would have the opportunity to get to know me first (and possibly fall in love) before I revealed my worst characteristic at a time of my own choosing.

The only thing the two parties can rely upon in an online relationship is their words. This is a double-edged sword, words can either act as the most profound form of love, or act as the mostly deadly weapons with which to vanquish the most stable relationship. Her makes clear throughout the movie that Samantha never was, and never will be human. However, the same rules apply for her and Theodore as they did to me and my objects of affection. For this reason, the film catalogues the joyous, sexy, happy, painful and bloody carnage of my past online relationships in all their complexity.

Loneliness.

In order to even comprehend the possibility of starting an strictly online relationship, both parties have to be desperately lonely, whether they admit this to themselves (and each other) or not. Typically, one that considers an all verbal relationship will be introverted, and more often than not have severe psychological and emotional issues underlining this tendency. This dooms the relationship before it begins.

Blank Canvass

The one advantage that an online relationship has over all others is that you can project the best version of yourself onto others. If your partner tells you about an interest that you are vaguely ambivalent about, you can type the subject into Google and act like you are an expert. Yes, this is considered to be lying, but you just want her to like you as much as you like her. You can also avoid topics that are too emotionally uncomfortable with a witty retort and the right choice of emoticon.

Isolation By Choice

The apex of the honeymoon exists when she is the only person in the known universe. Conversation on largely superfical topics lasts several days, even weeks or months. You begin to approximate physical intimacy, and at the time this satisfies you because you have tunnel vision and think that she is the only girl who sees you for who you are and vice versa. Those little white lies are meaningless. You neglect your other friends and family. When you do see them conversational topics consist of her alone. These people tell you to be careful with your heart, but you have developed myopic hearing.

Comfort

The two parties supposedly know each other intimately by now. Well past the honeymoon stage, the only thing they have in common is routine, and the relationship is reduced to stilted conversation about menial topics that provide no insight into feelings or emotions. You begin to wonder in the back of your mind where the spark went, but you tell yourself that the medium is the problem and not the personalities.

The Unveiling

In an attempt to salvage a decaying relationship, you encourage your friends to interact with her. To make things easier, you may invite them into your online conversations so your sliences aren't quite so prolonged. Your friends being the good people they are tell you that they really like her, but they secretly (and justifiably) have conversations behind your back where your judgement is openly questioned. You begin to crave real physical intimacy and feel your approximation is nothing but an elaborate charade.

Trust Eroded

The silences kill you, where each quiet minute feels like a bomb going off in your chest. Only now you begin to realise there is a serious problem.  Discussions turn into arguments and she is not online when you are. Upon her return, you ask her where she has been, and she tells you. You think she is lying, but it doesn't matter if she is or not. You imagine her getting drunk at the local bar, half the world away, hooking up with her 'best friend'. And there right then the trust is gone. There is nothing left to salvage.

The End

On reflection, you don't deal with the problems that arose and you don't learn important lessons because it wasn't real anyway. You never kissed her, never fucked her. 'I love you' was just a sentence you kept repeating when there was nothing left to say, it had no real meaning. You look her up months later, only to find out she was doing the same thing with some other guy the whole time. This does not hurt because you are not surprised in the least. You are in the same place only with your heart a little more hardened. And you are lonely.

Maybe the next time won't be as bad?

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Thriving in 'The Shit Hole'

In retrospect, September 26th 1998 was probably the most pivotal day in my family's existence. I remember it like it was yesterday. Dad had to rush to the airport at lunchtime, a stressful event in any case because that was the day the Adelaide Crows were playing in their second consecutive Grand Final (which they subsequently won, in a huge upset). However it was even more treacherous because he was having a second interview for the position of Primary School Principal at Matthew Flinders Anglician College (MFAC) on the Sunshine Coast. I was on VCR duty that day in case he didn't arrive back in time for the start of the match.

Just over two weeks later on October 13th, the family found out that he had got the job.

It is hard to exaggerate how angry I was.

The year before we had stayed on the Sunshine Coast for a week. At the time Dad knew someone who taught at MFAC, so we took the 30 minute drive from Caloundra to Buderim. As we drove through the Buderim main street I remember my exact thoughts 'What a shit hole! I'm glad we don't live here!'.

On January 13th 1999, we arrived in the shit hole, a town where there were more nursing homes than fast food outlets. I was 15. This in my eyes was an abysmal, catastrophic decision. I was giving up our Footy Park membership to live in this geriatric abyss?

When I moved to Queensland, I said that I would have to live there for 15 years before I could call myself a Queenslander.

I am still South Australian.

Though I maintain permanent residence in 'The Land of Thugby' I still miss my Footy Park membership more than any activity in Queensland. The move is the best thing that has happened in my lifetime, but at least in Adelaide it doesn't rain torrentially and the majority of the sporting population plays REAL football.

Despite this, I have to thank 'the shit hole' for so many things. At the time of the move I was a real dickhead, with no real purpose or life goals. The move to a different locale cemented my thirst for the political. And I was lucky my parents found a good high school that identified my talents and supported them. Though I wanted to move away from the Sunshine Coast the second I arrived there, and still wanted to every day after that, I was also lucky that I was in the right place at the right time.

Enrolling at the University of the Sunshine Coast and their vastly underrated politics faculty allowed me to be an enormous shark in a tiny puddle, with great educators and compatroits. I developed academic confidence and excelled whilst completing two degrees. That was something no one thought I could do when I was still living in my hometown.

Though I have absolutely no desire to live in Adelaide or the Sunshine Coast ever again, I couldn't have asked for two better stopovers on the path to independence.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Fallen Buzzer

In my apartment complex, we have a buzzer system in order to summon carers as we need them. They are connected to a mobile phone which each of the carers carry during the course of a shift. If for example, I need to go to the toilet, I simply press the buzzer and the next available carer answers it. As soon as they arrive, either the carer or myself turn the buzzer off to indicate that my request has been answered.

Normally I have a buzzer attached to the headboard of my bed so I can reach to press it when I want to get up. Through sheer happenstance the velcro that attaches the buzzer to the headboard came apart sometime on Friday night. I was fast asleep so I didn't hear this. When I awoke at nine yesterday morning the buzzer was on the floor. What was I to do?

Every carer who works at the apartment knows I'm not the most jovial person in the mornings so they don't come in to my room until I buzz for them (this is at my request). The nearest buzzer is connected to the wall, above the headboard. I like to sleep at the bottom of my pillow with only the very top of my head touching the pillow. In order to reach the buzzer connected to the wall, I have to inch up the pillow so I can reach the wall buzzer, using the muscles in my upper body. By 10am I was halfway up, and at exactly 10:53 I reached the buzzer.

The first carer responds about three minutes later.

'Good morning sleepyhead! Have another late night?
'Well yes, but the buzzer fell off the headboard and I only just got to the one on the wall after two hours' I replied
 'Shit, sorry! the carer says
'Not your fault. Can you fix it? I was going to get up, but now I need a nap'

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Greatest Cripple Ever Known

In my bedroom I have this picture framed on my wall.



I purchased it three years ago at the start of my battle with debilitating depression. My psychologist suggested that rather than constantly looking at things that reminded me of past events, I should focus on a person that I admired most. That every time I thought of the traumatic events that led to my depression I should look at this picture and focus on my goal of moving out of my parents' home.

There are many reasons that I instantly chose Franklin Delano Roosevelt, some are obvious, others not so. He is arguably history's greatest political leader. He was also physically disabled. Numerous historians believe these two tidbits are mutually exclusive. That Roosevelt's ability as a political leader, the same qualities that helped him withstand the enormous challenges of the Great Depression and the Second World War have nothing to do with each other. I would respectfully disagree. In most cases, having a disability teaches you empathy, compassion and a greater understanding of human nature. We are not merely people who face challenges every day, we excel in life because the tenacity and persistance required to live are transferred into all other pursuits. It was certainly true in Roosevelt's case.

A new book, The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency shares these sentiments. Tracing the 12 years from when Roosevelt first contracted the polio virus in 1921, at the age of 39, to when he was first inaugurated as President of the United States in 1933, James Tobin argues this period shaped the fortunes of FDR's presidency more than any other. Prior to his illness, Roosevelt was like every other upper class New Yorker of his era, who lived a privileged childhood while his overprotective mother doted on Franklin's every whim. Educated at an exclusive private school before entering Harvard, it seemed that FDR lived a charmed life. Destined for a career in politics Roosevelt served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the First World War under President Woodrow Wilson, he then managed to secure the position of Vice Presidential candidate in 1920 for the Democrats as part of James Cox's quest to become President. The Democrats were soundly defeated.

It was the first time in his whole life Franklin Roosevelt did not get what he wanted.

While pondering his next political move, he contracted the polio virus and things were never the same again.  When the illness began to take hold in April 1921, he did not get out of bed for 6 months, largely left to his own devices and a lot of thinking time. He decided on two interlinked goals: to walk independently and to revive his political career. Tobin's book recounts Roosevelt's singleminded drive to achieve these goals.

As strange as it sounds, the lack of technology in the 1920 and 1930s worked to Roosevelt's advantage. While much of Tobin's book argues that Roosevelt never 'hid' his disability from the American public, the lack of constant media coverage certainly worked in his favour. As I have argued previously, a person with a physical disability will never be elected to high office in today's political environment. Regardless, Roosevelt used his disability as a political advantage, creating a new narrative as the cripple who overcame insurmountable odds. Though he would eventually forego his desire to walk independently, his legendary political career was forged between April and October of 1921 in his bedroom at Hyde Park.

Though the book doesn't delve into Roosevelt's Presidency I would argue that without the polio there would be no New Deal, which in turn means no welfare state, and in turn no basic social reform programs, which sustained economies worldwide for the latter half of the 20th century. Without the greatest cripple has ever known, life as we know it would not exist.

If there's one quote that encapsulates Franklin Roosevelt up it would be Tobin's last:

Early in his Presidency FDR discussed the merits of implementing a policy. An aide told him 'You can't do that!' to which he simply replied:

'I've done a lot of things I can't do'

Thursday, 2 January 2014

'The Unsound of Limb...'

I'm currently reading The Man He Became about how Franklin Roosevelt won the Presidency of the United States in spite of his polio. Given my two areas of academic interest: political leadership and society's attutides towards people with a disability, this book is a natrual fit for me (A review of the book may come when I've finished depending on time restrictions).

However one quote in particular jumped out at me, which was taken from Robert Murphy's The Body Silent and I just had to share it because it encapulates the frustrations of my entire life as a person with a disability.
The disabled must comfort others about their condition. They cannot show fear, sorrow, depression… or anger, for this disturbs the able-bodied. The unsound of limb are only permitted to laugh. The rest of the emotions, including anger and the expression of hostility, must be bottled up, repressed, and allowed to simmer or to be released in the backstage area of home…’  

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Further Notes on 2013

As discussed in previous posts, 2013 has probably been my favourite and best year to date. Despite this a few key things have disappointed me. Unfortunately life can never be perfect.

Aside from the steady progress on my thesis, this year has been a dreadful one for my profession. The 2013 Federal Election was the worst in my time involved with politics. Two castrated major political parties, led by two uninspiring leaders fought a campaign devoid of policy discussion. It is no wonder voters chose the worst of two very bad options. At least I got my first two writing gigs as a political scientist out of it.

The area that best encapsulated the political failures of 2013 more than any other was the disability sector (again). Predictably, the majority of stakeholders are still holding on to their 'magic beans', otherwise known as the NDIS. This was demonstrated in an article published on RampUp this past Friday attacking Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey for saying that there may be cut backs to the scheme to make it more efficient. As I argued in my (yet to be published) comment to the piece:

While a properly instituted scheme would of course increase productivity, the current model as proposed by the political community just doesn't get the job done. On this score, Hockey, Cormann and Abbott are absolutely correct. And they knew this from the beginning of 2011 (as I did). Back then, I predicted in various forums that this argument would come out eventually.

It was suggested that I was being negative for the sake of it as well as trying to build my reputation on the back of my (correct) stance. The rhetoric on display here demonstrates that no one, not the government, the opposition, nor the feeble
Every Australian Counts has the slightest clue on how to develop an equitable cost effective disability policy that serves the interests of all parties.

There are numerous critics of the NDIS who saw this all coming, have expertise in developing policy and actually know what they're talking about. These people, myself included, were dismissed as radicals and zealots. Maybe now those voices can be heard. The best thing the Government can do now is scrap the whole model in the name of 'fiscal restraint', start again and get the formulation of a new policy right this time.
It staggers me that supporters of the scheme trot out the same ineffective arguments time and again, which argue the wrong points from the wrong perspectives. At this rate, 2014 is looking to be more politically disastrous than this year.

Speaking of disastrous, that is certainly one way to describe my attempts at dating this year. Or rather my failure to generate any interest at all, particularly after a shocking start. Personally, this is perhaps the year's greatest disappointment.

However, for every tragedy, there has been a triumph, which is more than I can say for the previous few years. The biggest triumph is however yet to come. At the end of next year my single greatest achievement will be complete.

Now that will be something to celebrate.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

2013: The Year of Living Properly.

December 27th marks my first full year of true independence, something that was 29 years in the making. As I’ve often discussed, people told me constantly through my childhood that this year would come; I never truly believed it would happen. To me the dream always remained a distant hope, one in which I was not confident in taking. I did not think I could cope on my own without the distant gaze of parental supervision, the ever-reliable cushion that had helped me survive.

2013 was not only the year I proved myself wrong, it was The Year of Living Properly.

One with the necessary help, I have lived the way I have always wanted to. Life for me is not easy with each day providing more challenges than the last. This is why I must give credit to Wesley Mission Brisbane, the real unsung hero of the operation. Though I do a lot of volunteer work for Youngcare, and they get most of the media attention, Wesley Mission are responsible for funding the services, and the salaries of the carers, which comprise more than 30 staff members. They all come from a number of backgrounds, from the young to the experienced. Though their origins may be varied, all of the staff are of the highest quality, without exception (It helps that I have had the final say in recruiting them since I became chairman of the Residents’ Committee in August). Staff often receive huge amounts of unjustified criticism from many Residents, as they perform thankless tasks that we all take for granted.  However, I could not have achieved anything this past year without their help.

For the first time in recent memory I am on top of my PhD thesis, which is due for completion at the end of 2014. Currently, I only have one more chapter to write (an extended examination of Kevin Rudd), mostly because I have been able to consult with my two supervisors on a more regular basis and have had more frequent access to much needed resources.

Most importantly, 2013 has been a year of fun. Though I had been able to attend both the Brisbane Writer’s and Film Festivals in the past, I attended almost triple the number of events this year now that I am a fully fledged Brisbanite. In April, the undoubted highlight was being able to meet Tegan and Sara, my musical heroes. This was only the peak of many concerts I attended, which included a diverse range of artists such as Taylor Swift, Julie Andrews, City and Colour and Mandy Patinkin. I have even managed to catch some live theatre too. On average I have been going to the cinema once a fortnight. It is a simple pleasure I cherish every time I go.

The biggest lesson I have learnt this year is that 2013 is only the beginning. I can do what I want, where I want, how I want without having to justify myself to anyone. It has made the terribly traumatic journey of the previous two years worthwhile.

I made it through the darkness and I’m genuinely happy for the first time in literal decades.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

My Top 7 Films of 2013

As is my custom I've been ranking my favourite movies of the year since I saw my first one of 2013.

Tonight the Australian TV Show At The Movies began its best of 2013 movie poll. I've added two more films that I saw at the Brisbane Film Festival In November that have yet to be released in Australia and are thus ineligible for this poll.

So in reverse order:
7. The Spectacular Now
6. Stories We Tell
5. This House (National Theatre Live)
4. Frances Ha
3. Slience in the House of God: Mea Maxima Culpa
2. Blue is the Warmest Colour
1. Foxfire

Be sure to follow me on my Twitter feed in 2014, as I will attempt to review every film I see next year in 140 characters with a letter grade from A+ to F

Sunday, 8 December 2013

(She Knows Me) All Too Well: Why I Am A Taylor Swift Apologist

Perhaps the most fitting way to end a year of highlights occurred last night when I finally got to see the wonderful Taylor Swift in concert. When I wrote here about discovering her a few years back it was met by faint echoes of derison. 'She writes for 12 year old girls' some said. Those voices grew louder as the years progressed, particularly as she became a walking tabloid headline due to high profile romantic missteps. Granted, her confessional songwriting style isn't for everyone. After all its not cool to like pop anymore (unless you're a fifteen year old Kiwi who claims to be 'original' but is in fact highly derivative). Though last night the median age of spectators at Suncorp Stadium was young enough to be my daughter, I am a Taylor Swift apologist of the highest order, a huge fan, and she is probably my second favourite artist behind the irreplacible Tegan and Sara.

To me, Taylor Swift is the greatest romantic poet of her generation. Notice how I didn't bother saying the words 'musician' or 'songwriter'? While there are some great musical arrangements on the majority of songs, such notions are purely subjective. Her skills as a writer of romantic prose are however beyond doubt.

The qualities that set Taylor apart from her contemporaries in this genre, most of whom I am ambivalent about, remain her trademark contradictory assets: the ability to make the universal seem personal and the personal seem universal. To her the song may be about Jake Gyllenhaal, but when I'm listening to it, that point is irrelevent. It is about me.


The song that best demonstrates this is All Too Well off of her latest album Red. The song heightens these qualities to great affect, and invites listeners to interpret the story in their own mind. I know each time I do, the same story from my past comes up in my mind, particularly because of a series of lyrics in the middle of the song:

And I know it's long gone
And there was nothing else I could do
And I forget about you long enough
To forget why I needed to...

'Cause there we are again in the middle of the night.
We dance around the kitchen in the refrigerator light
Down the stairs, I was there, I remember it all too well, yeah.

Maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much,

But maybe this thing was a masterpiece 'til you tore it all up?
Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well.

And you call me up again just to break me like a promise.
So casually cruel in the name of being honest.
I'm a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
'Cause I remember it all, all, all... too well.


Superficially these lyrics may seem simple, but behind that first look lies an unmatched specificity and a simile that is particularly devastating: You call me up again just to break me like a promise. So casually cruel in the name of being honest.

This resonates because we have all been here, but have never been able to express such emotions as eloquently. The 12 year old girls going to their first concert, the 30 year old cripple who has been desperately unlucky in love, and the group of 50 year old women cheering to my left for two straight hours have all felt like a crumpled up piece of paper in their darkest moments.

Taylor knows this too, prolouging the set at the beginning of the night by declaring that the audience were going to hear two hours of love songs. You were either one of the 40,000 who attended last night and bought into that entirely, or you dismiss her as another teen pop starlet at your peril. You may not like the romance, but I revelled in her poetry. Despite the million dollar set up, the cherography, the dancers, and the fireworks I could have (and wanted to) listened to her for another two hours just to hear more stories of how I gave my heart away, how it was restored, and then how I gave it away again.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Keating Interviews Episode 2: Hawke Eyes on the Legacy Prize

You simply cannot talk about Australian Politics in the 1980s without mentioning the mechanics of the relationship between Hawke and Keating. Whilst this episode remained as dynamic and interesting as its predosessor, this humble reviewer has heard this narrative too many times.

Keating rose through the ranks of the ALP opposition under the leadership of Bill Hayden, becoming both the convener of the all powerful NSW Right Faction, as well as State Secretary of the NSW branch of the ALP. As Keating tells it, Hawke would not have secured the leadership from Hayden if it were not for Keating's support. However as I argued in my review of Paul Kelly's book The Hawke Ascendancy 
It is particularly valuable to view these events with hindsight given the way that the party dealt with Hawke in 1991, in exactly the same fashion that he deposed of his predecessor just short of nine years earlier. It suggests a historical karma working against Hawke’s marvellously Machiavellian exploits. The power dynamics of the ALP are fickle.  
When Hawke assumed the ALP leadership on the opening day of the 1983 electoral campaign he did not want Keating as Treasurer. The latter was green and had a steep learning curve when the ALP returned to government 5 weeks later. Keating spent the better part of 1983 learning the fundamentals of macroenomic policy, culminating in the float of the Australian Dollar that December. Hawke claims it was his idea, but Keating says otherwise. It does not really matter, but the petty squabble over credit goes to the heart of the Hawke and Keating conflict and their contradictory relationship.

In Keating's mind 1984 was when the power really began to shift. As the year commenced, Hawke called an ill-advised early election, with a ridiculously long campaign to boot. Around the same time, Hawke's daughter suffered a drug overdose and the Prime Minister sank into a deep depression. While Hawke claimed this lasted for 6 weeks, Keating contradicts him by stating that this period for up to 3 years, perhaps not coincidentally the one which is universally regarded as the most fruitful years in the Hawke Keating partnership. Keating is second banana to no one in his eyes, even the ALP's most successful Prime Minister.

Throughout the mid eighties the volitile love hate relationship between Hawke and Keating continued, especially over economic policy. The 1995 documentary series Labor in Power hears from both men and is worth watching to capture the multi faceted debates over their policy legacy in more detail. As I have argued previously:
...the Hawke Government discarded the Australian Settlement comprised of White Australia, Protection, Arbitration and State Paternalism to pursue a policy of economic rationalism, with Keating as the architect of many of these policies in his role as Treasurer. Such policies were in fact the domain of the Liberal Party before this period and betrayed many of the policies that the ALP held dear. The Hawke Government achieved this economic reform through various methods of deregulation including floating the Australian dollar and deregulating the labour market through a process known as the Accord. The Accord was an alliance with the trade unions designed in order to prevent a wage explosion that crippled the two previous governments by ensuring that wages were stablised and unemployment was kept under control.
The legacy battle is so contentious because Hawke and Keating are opposites. While Hawke had the touch of the common man and was electorally appealing, Keating had the policy vision and knowledge to drive their duel agenda when they were both focused upon it. And I think that is why, in my mind at least, you will never get a four hour interview series with Hawke on his public life. Hawke captured the feeling of politics, relying on instinct, where as Keating is the explainer. While Hawke was more successful at the time, Keating has won the battle with revisionists. Despite being 90% correct throughout the episode, Keating is telling his story, his way, as if it was the only version to ever exist.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Keating Interviews Episode 1: The Passion for Power.

I'll state my bias from the outset. I have long regarded Paul Keating as my favourite Australian Prime Minister. When I took a trip to Parliament House in 2010, the very first thing I bought was a Paul Keating Prime Ministerial Mug. Keating's vision is the reason I love politics, even though my political love affair began on the night of his defeat. His commitment to the Republic, to the Arts and to the less fortunate resonates with me. I also adore the fact that he shows contempt and bile to those who he dislikes, and doesn't really give a shit what anyone else thinks about it. So when it was announced that Australia's best political interviewer, Kerry O'Brien, was taking part in a four hour interview series with Keating I was understandably in raptures.

The first episode at least lives up to my extremely high expectations of wanting to find out what motivates Keating. He has always had a different kind of personality as opposed to other prominent Australian politicians. Less inclined to enjoy sports or farming, Keating is known instead for his passions for the fine arts and classical music. This week's episode went a long way in telling the viewer why Keating adores these pursuits. For him, like politics, it can be simply refined in one word: passion. His description of his love of certain classical music pieces are akin to his famous diatribes in parliament. They are filled with the aggressive knowledge of superiority. In his mind Keating is right to love these interests, and those who do not are missing out on something fundamental.

If there is one characteristic that defines his career it is this certainty, and the first episode tracks this wonderfully. Keating left school to enter the workforce at fourteen, immediately joining the ALP. When Keating describes his brief tenure at the Sydney County Council Transformer Handling Bay, he believes that this was his schooling in the ways of the working class, perhaps arrogantly so. Also during this time he actively sought out the infamous former New South Wales Premier, Jack Lang. Keating sat at his feet and quickly learned intricate the ways of the ALP.
"People will tell you that you have plenty of time, but the truth is you haven't got a second to waste."
The above quote came from Lang talking to the young Keating. This describes Keating's quest for power more than anything else. The highlight of the episode charts Keating's initial campaign for ALP preselection in 1969. At the age of just 25, he visited over 30 plus branch meetings per month in the electorate of Banks in New South Wales in order to obtain victory. At the last minute there was an electoral redistribution and Keating ended up running for the seat of Blaxland, having lost his base of his support, he had to begin the process of attending 30 more branch meetings a month, just squeaking through to victory against his factional rivals.

Having arrived in parliament during the middle of Whitlam's term as Labor Leader. Keating in his own words '…played the game, got to know people, got to judge them, see what they really thought and try to put coalitions of people together inside the place.' In other words he began the process of rising up through the ranks of the ALP like a modern political operative ahead of his time. By the dying days of the Whitlam Government in 1975, Keating obtained a portfolio at the age of just 31.

Keating's passion had become the process of obtaining and deploying of power within the ALP. The next challenge would be how to use those skills to his advantage. 
……………………………………………………………..
Other great Keating Quotes in this episode

"Having enemies worries some people. For me it's a badge of honour.”

“The great things are always worth doing; they’re hard because they’re valuable."

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Promise Rescinded: The End of Rudd as Told in Quotes

Kevin Rudd has just resigned from parliament, His most tulmultious years cover the life of this blog. They also cover the evolution of my feelings of antipathy toward the Labor Party, for which he is partially responsible. I feel the only accurate way describe his legacy in the immediate aftermarth is to quote this blog (Larger, more academic thoughts will hopefully be published in a book that extends upon my thesis in a few years time)

On The 2007 Election:

I had followed every Federal election up until that point only for it to end in tears, quite literally. Then two days after my 23rd birthday that all changed, and finally the ALP under Kevin Rudd stormed into power. The four years of being a member of the party, volunteering on polling booths, the early morning meetings, the trips to Brisbane, and agonising through several leadership challenges all paid off at 7:20pm Queensland time when election analyst Antony Green called the election in the ALP’s favour.
 On the Stimulus Package 03/02/09:

The question is this: When will leaders recognise that economics is always a long term exercise? One must always plan for the future. The transformation in politics towards continual campaigning and generating short term political capital has come at the expense of overarching economic policy. While Hawke, Keating, Howard and Rudd learn this lesson in Australia, our citizens will suffer. No stimulus package will fix that.

On The 'Rudd Honeymoon' 04/04/09:
What is it in particular that draws the voters to Kevin Rudd?

Even as a Labor Party stalwart I acknowledge that Rudd is about as benign of a leader as the public can get. He does not have the ability to capture the public imagination like a Whitlam, the ability to mix with the public like a Hawke, or the turn of phrase of a Keating. What may propel him into stratosphere of popular opinion is his ordinariness. Except every time he is on television trying to look like a ‘man of the people’ I cringe because (at least to me) he comes across as pathetic try hard. The one thing that he has going for him is the Howardesque ability to read the public mood, something at which Turnbull and his Liberal colleagues have no clue how to do at the moment

However all of this doesn’t explain why the public feels sympathy for Rudd after he acted like a complete dickhead. Yes, he’s human and is entitled to make mistakes, but such luxuries are not normally afforded to your average politician.
The First Bump in the Road 30/05/09:
...Rudd has yet to prove he can actually govern. He can certainly give out money to bribe voters, he can certainly use rhetoric to his advantage, but the question still remains if he can actually turn it into reality.
The Media Backlash 12/06/10:
...the micromanaging, the almost insincere repour with the public, the need to obsessively claim all the power and all the responsibility within his own government... but for what? To explain that he’s a control freak, well again Marr plays the part of Captain Obvious here. All Prime Ministers need to be control freaks.
The Coup 23/06/10:
If Kevin Rudd managed to defeat the Liberal Party’s second longest serving leader (John Howard), and the opinion polls still had him winning the upcoming election by a reasonably comfortable margin, then where to for Gillard when she reaches inevitable crisis? And where to for future Prime Ministers who piss the wrong people off? That is something both Labor and Liberal members should fear. Maybe Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t so crazy after all?

Rudd Resigns as Foreign Minister 22/02/12:
The wider consequences for the ALP are brutal, whatever the outcome. Challenge or no, a former Prime Minister will be gone for good by Tuesday. Although it is of course easy to say and much harder to do, if both Gillard and Rudd worked together on policy and not undermined each other and worked cohesively just as they had promised in 2006, the ALP could have been staring down numerous election victories, a decade plus in power, and two bloody good Prime Ministers. What we have instead is a bitch fight on a national scale.
The First Challenge 24/02/12:
It has now been confirmed that Australia’s last two Prime Ministers will contest a leadership ballot on Monday to determine the leader of the ALP. Rarely has a political event carried more weight outside of a traditional electoral contest. Whether Gillard or Rudd emerges victorious, the wider implications for Australian democracy are indeed worrying.
The Second Challenge 21/03/13:
An ALP leadership challenge was brought on by former leader Simon Crean, hoping that Rudd would stand against Gillard, only for it not to happen. Confused? So is the rest of Australia.
The 2013 Election:
So the 2013 election is underway and while I'm interested in the scholarly aspects of life on the campaign trail, I'm nowhere near as invested as I used to be. Kevin Rudd and the ALP doesn't care about me, nor the people I care about.

The transformation is complete. Kevin lost the ALP. And the ALP lost me.
 

 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Keating Interview Part I: Initial Impressions

Good god what an extraordinary hour of television that was! So much to take in. So much to process. I feel about 20% smarter just watching it. And there's three hours to go! I have to rewatch this again, take notes and soak it in. I have decided to do a comprehensive review of each of the four episodes. First one will be up Friday.

I don't think I've enjoyed a political hour of television that much. We saw so many sides of this complex genius and crucially we saw the human side for the first time too. Just extraordinary! Compulsory viewing, my birthday came early.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

'Phone Rings, Door Chimes, In Comes Company'


Stephen Sondheim's 'Company', first performed in 1970, may well be the perfect musical for someone in their late 20s/30s, particularly those of us who are single. It is the best discovery I've made this year.

About 4 weeks ago I saw the DVD of the 2011 revival performance with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which stars Neil Patrick Harris, (How I Met Your Mother) Stephen Colbert, (The Colbert Report) and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) amongst others and completely fell in love with it. In my current incarnation I can relate to every single minute 

The plot is outlined below. 
Originally titled Threes, its plot revolves around Bobby (a single man unable to commit fully to a steady relationship, let alone marriage), the five married couples who are his best friends, and his three girlfriends. Unlike most book musicals, which follow a clearly delineated plot, Company is a concept musical composed of short vignettes, presented in no particular chronological order, linked by a celebration for Bobby's 35th birthday.
It is not until the final song that Bobby comes to the conclusion that he sees the value in these relationships. ‘Being Alive’ is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard, not only because Bobby comes to a fundamental conclusion through song, but it is because we have all come to the same conclusion at some point in our lives. ‘Alone is alone, not alive’ might be one of the few phrases that sums up the biological need for intimate comfort, connection and support.
Someone has been kind enough to upload the entire performance up on YouTube. Believe me it is well and truly worth 2.5 hours of your time. Like all great art, it captures a time in one’s life that is both personal and universal