Monday, 26 November 2012

'Are You Sure You Want You Delete Your Accounts?'

In July last year when I started chronicalling my adventures in CripDating™ I thought my journey would never end. I thought that I would remain unloved terminally. That there was no person for me. This journey would never end, because I would not be satisfied unless I had tons of sex, and broadcast the status change to the world ‘Todd Winther is in a relationship with…’

That never happened, at least not yet. But I have been happy, finally moving on from the past and I have met some truly wonderful women in the past year and a half. But love (with equivocation) is hard. Multiply that difficulty by ten and the challenge of finding the smart, beautiful, quick witted, compassionate woman (who loved me too) was hard. Getting over my fractured self esteem was harder still. Those were the goals I wanted to achieve, and I blitzed even my pathetically low expectations.

I felt loved. I am loved by new extraordinary people. People that I know who would do anything for me. I know this because they have. I now know that women that I am attracted to are attracted to me, legitimately. I now know that my instincts and gut feelings are to be trusted again. I now have confidence that a wonderful woman (who I may of or may not have met yet) will love me the way I want to be loved.

Currently I have failed in my big picture goal of finding a ‘girlfriend’ but I have closed down all of my online dating accounts because I have everything I need, and a whole lot more I didn’t expect.

Friday, 23 November 2012

You Cannot Try Hard Enough

‘It is not a tragedy’ she says trying to sound both sympathetic and supportive. Trying so hard, but failing miserably. She can’t do anything to make this feel better. Poor girl, it is harder for her than it is for me.

What she does not know is that it is indeed a tragedy of the highest order. You see tragedy and I are old foes. I thought I had him beaten. Finally. I got cocky. Then in one foul swoop, he won again.

People often ask me why I am so cynical. It is because I know first hand that you always have ten failures before you have one success. That wanting something with all the passion and willpower you have means fuck all. That every time I think I’m okay, a personal tragedy happens to remind me not to become so complacent. I have survived 29 years and one day and happiness across the board has eluded me every day of my life.

Two years ago I wanted to die. I was convinced that my life was pointless. I look back on the time since and I have no tangible rewards, I have no house of my own, no girlfriend, and the PhD has made lackluster progress since: the three things that I want to achieve most with all my passion and will power. And yet if I had died when I wanted to I wouldn’t have met TCF, Miss Gravy and The English Lass: all three I count among my closest friends. And that is just one positive thing.

I promised myself I would play the long game. I will not let this defeat me, and one day, one day I will get what I want. I have to believe that for my own sake even if I don't right now. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Happy Returns

It is my birthday on Thursday. I shall be turning 29. I didn't just write that because I am expecting a lot of well wishes, but because it simply marks yet another passage of time. A marker which indicates that my longevity is rewarded. To me it means that I will enjoy a day of cricket, some well wishes and time with my parents who deserve a lion share of the credit for my survival and productivity. Birthdays have diminishing returns for me as the years pass. So instead, I'd like to highlight the small things that have made the current passage of time extra special.
  • Thanks to the people who gave me hugs when I needed them
  • Thanks to people old and new who put their trust in me
  • Thanks to the people who doubt me, because I take great joy in proving them wrong.
  • Thanks to the artists and philosophers who continue to inspire me
  • Thanks to the small but loyal group of friends that I have, because I continue to need you most of all. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

NDIS Out of Wonderland: Where Reality Ruins the Fantasy

Independent think tank The Centre of Independent Studies (CIS) released a report today on the cost viability of the NDIS. It has backed the arguments I've been making for two years. It is important to note that while the CIS is not a bastion of social progress, these concerns are REAL. Here are the main points:
  • The NDIS may be the most significant social reform since Medicare. However, the NDIS will not ‘be like’ another Medicare. In budgetary terms, it is another Medicare.
  • In fact, the NDIS will be a monster of a government program. It will start big and get bigger, and grow to become the new leviathan of the Australian welfare state.
  • The government’s cost estimates of the NDIS have been revised upwards regularly. Early estimates found that the scheme would cost about $11 billion. Revised estimates from the Productivity Commission increased the total cost of the scheme first to $13 billion, then $13.5 billion and later to $15 billion a year.
  • However, the commission’s widely used figures of a $15 billion scheme providing services to 411,000 people do not reflect the true cost of the scheme when it will be fully operational in 2018–19. These figures do not take into account wage increases, price inflation, or population growth from 2009–10 to 2018–19.  (The QLD government estimate that I will need $100,000 per year of funding, qualifying as someone who needs a 'low amount of care', in terms of hours, so how will $50,000 per person meet the needs of those with more severe disabilities?).
  • This has led to a dichotomy between the estimates and the implementation timetable. As a result, the actual budgetary cost of the NDIS will be substantially more than the commission’s estimates and substantially more than the figures being used in the public debate. 
  • Around 500,000 people on the disability support pension, and another 600,000 people aged 65 and over with a severe or profound disability will also miss out on NDIS funded supports as well. Together these groups represent more than 1 million voters with a vested interest in seeing a bigger and more generous NDIS 
I choose to let these points speak for themselves.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The 'Happy' Mash Up

Long before the term ‘mash up’  reached cultural significance in the early 21st century came a song which remains a long time favourite of mine. Performed on The Judy Garland Show in 1963, the song is the combination of Barbra Streisand’s cover of the popular American jazz standard Happy Days Are Here Again, and Judy Garland’s cover of Get Happy which she sang in the 1950 musical (and one of the best of its era) Summer Stock.

At the time of the song's recording, Streisand had released her cover earlier that year as part of her first album (recorded at the age of 21), which established her as a multi talented performer in a career which has lasted five decades. Garland, meanwhile was at the later stages of her decline, which ultimately led to her tragic death in 1969. In a sense one can envision Garland metaphorically passing the torch of diva superstardom midway through Happy and saying to Barbra “It’s yours now, treasure it”. Don’t believe me? One only has to look at the two versions of the same film: A Star is Born. The 1953 version was the last of Garland’s cinematic critical successes. The 1976 version represented Streisand at the peak of her fame. For the record I think the 1953 version is far superior.

The Happy Mash Up is the song that will be played at my funeral if given the choice. The suitably melodramatic arrangement is a wonderful counterpoint to the tenacious lyrics. Some make the mistake of thinking that this song is overwhelming positive, mostly with reference to the gay rights movement, but I take the mixture of melody and lyrics to be the ultimate expression of tenacious behavior. Even on my most cynical day (and there are many), I am determined above all else.

If however you play this version and think of me I will haunt you in your dreams forever.  

Monday, 5 November 2012

My First 'Session'

So here I am writing about sex again. Unlike the previous occasions I chose to write about it, I am now entirely comfortable with myself as a sexual being. I know what I want, I know how to get it, and more importantly I know how to ask for it. So when I went to see The Sessions yesterday, I was surprised to see how much I regressed.

The Sessions is a well made film (for an accurate review read Ebert), but to be blunt it was probably the most painful experience I have ever had in a cinema. I saw so many of my hopes and struggles played for laughs to make the audience feel comfortable, and this in turn made me decidedly uncomfortable. My first time was not unlike Mark O’Brien’s. I too paid for sex, because I had no other choice. I lost my virginity at 20 after feeling so sexually repressed I felt that I no could no longer control my own body.

Like everything I could not keep this choice private. Someone had to help me logistically to get in and out of my wheelchair, and that remains to this day the greatest thing that person ever did for me. It is a tough thing asking someone to help you prepare for sex  (‘Hey let’s go so I can have a good fuck!’ isn't the appropriate motivational technique) let alone having that same person come in and out of the room before and after the event. Though I did not find these circumstances embarrassing, I found them to be an annoying imposition. Just like the rest of my life.

I don’t expect people against prostitution to understand the motivations behind the decision. At the time I thought that I was never ever going to have sex with someone who cared about me. Thankfully I was proven wrong. I wanted sex to be an act of affection. I wanted sex to be special. I wanted to sex to be about love. My first time was about none of those things. It was biological. It was an expression of relief, physicality and (yes) anger. No cuddles, no kissing, no post-coital conversation except ‘Will there be a next time?’

I don’t regret what I did, but as I saw The Sessions, all those painful memories came flooding back. How long it took my body to get used to the sexual touch of another person, all the logistics and manipulation of my body, and the indignity of it all. My most vulnerable moments were projected back at me as a tool for laughter, it made me feel like I was 16 again.

That’s why I had to write this. Deciding to go to a stranger for sex was not my choice. It was one of the toughest decisions I ever had to make and should not be subjected to ridicule. If you go and see The Sessions think how far you would go to feel physical love. If you have never had to answer that question consider how lucky you are, and then think twice before laughing about it.