Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The dream

A few days back I posted a blog piece on the dilemma faced in being true to your ideals and values, while also having to pay the bills (The good, the bad and the ugly-november 2011). This is a dilemma I am facing and the night I posted the blog piece I asked for guidance to come to me in a dream.

The dream.... It was long, vivid and so real. I was looking at buying a house and came across a very large city apartment. My first impressions were 'no'.. not enough windows, it is claustrophobic, not what I am looking for.. and the outside traffic noise is very loud. But then I saw some good features; lots of cupboards and storage space (yes I am a practical gay man!), the rooms were very large, and location was convenient. Though it wasn't really what I wanted, I began to sell it to myself by focusing on the good points and how I do need a place to live and if I wait too much longer... then what?.... I might not find anything better etc... Then something odd happened, my friend Mark appeared. Mark was a dear friend who passed away five years ago this November. He was as always 'there for me' and here he was now accompanying me on a second trip to check out the apartment, where I seemed to be selling it to myself more and more... Mark stopped me and in a friendly and caring way he highlighted all of the negative aspects of the apartment and asked me why I was settling for it, when it was obviously not what I was looking for. I looked at Mark, his words of wisdom ringing in my ears and my folly slowly dawning on me. I was silent, thinking, staring ahead at Mark dressed in his handyman's overalls. The window behind him framed his kindly and unassuming stance. 'That is so you', I thought and then I found myself remembering how much he had been there for me in the past and how much we had loved each other. He was right and had told me what I knew but for some reason was scared to see. At that moment. the bright morning sun flooded in behind him, creating an angelic effect. He smiled in that warm, supportive way, never patronisingly, though he was often right and then he disappeared in the brightness.

I awoke with the word 'settling' in my mind and a lyric from Neko Case wafting through the air " thought that you could outrun sorrow... '. It all comes together now. Once more I settle out of fear. This isn't for me. It isn't terrible or wrong, but it is not inline with my values and ideals. I am just settling, because I do need to pay the bills and this was all that was there. I feared that if i didn't take it, nothing else would have come along. An image of trying to outrun something unseen or unknown is conjured... Sometimes fear stops us from waiting.  We take what we can to get us through, to outrun what is unknown, be it sorrow, pain, poverty.. the list goes on. But if we were to bravely wait...then what? Something better? Something marvelous or magnificent? What if this is the best there is? Or in thinking this, are we too scared to dream? Too fearful to realise our ideals?

Neko Case- 'Magpie to the morning'

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly- November 2011

The good:
Recently, a dear friend and I saw Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’. This film had a lovely understated quality about it. Yes, Woody Allen still writes for Woody Allen, leaving his male leads to imitate him, but Owen Wilson does get away with it better than most who have come before. One thing I like about Owen Wilson is that he is adept at using the space in between words to communicate, via a look, a movement etc…where Allen is sometimes too verbose and his wit, while still charming, is often too mature for these younger actors… still enough of these minor quibbles.. An important point is that the morning after watching this film, I awoke still feeling it's warm glow within me!

This film is Allen's love note to Paris and watching it, made me fall in love with the city as well. A huge feat given that my one and only visit to Paris in 2010, did not leave me  impressed. But after watching Allen’s opening montage….Paris and I seem to have now made up. The long glances we exchange, communicates the shared forgiveness for our past folly, as well as our hope for a brighter future together…ahhhh… Do you see what Allen has done to me??? The Parisian tourism board need to put him on their books! 'Midnight in Paris', the title itself is captivatingly romantic, as is the thought of walking it's streets in the rain... I shan't bore you by talking about the plot or the themes of denial, self-trust, honesty and one’s search for meaning and happiness (a regular theme for Allen), I will say that it was a delightful and in some ways a subtle film, which is well worth watching. Now, through the magic of the internet, allow me to present to you the opening sequence to 'Midnight in Paris' and prepare to fall in love!

The bad:
Having to choose between ideals and paying the bills.

Recently in one of my paid roles, I was presented with a situation where I began to question if my ideals are in-line with my employer. This led me to do much soul searching. I realise that no role will be exactly in-line with our ideals, or if it is at the start, the lines can shift over time. So here I sit pondering, if I am being stubborn, idealistic or am I simply being ‘true to myself’... perhaps I am being all three. But alongside that thought is the concern of how do I also ensure that I can pay the mortgage and eat. I ask you, do we change the world, or does the world change us?

So this month’s ‘The bad’… is dedicated to the uncomfortable struggle we face in our ongoing quest for congruence in our lives, between our actions and our ideals.. and the tightrope we walk between staying true to these ideals, finding a compromise and betraying ourselves and selling out.

The ugly:
Media personality Helen Razor once talked very openly about Mr Buzzy, her intimate ‘self-help’ friend… Which reminds me of a sad and in some ways an ugly tale. This is a tale of a man I had recently been seeing and how I inadvertently put myself out of a job.  You see, I was helping out at ‘that store’ again and this guy I was seeing, decided to visit me there. We talked about the products, pointed, giggled, made some jokes and then before you could say ‘batteries included’ I was selling a ‘self-help friend’ to this guy.. to my guy!
After this purchase, I have to say that it was a long time in-between hearing from him and now it seems that I have put myself out of a job! (if I can describe it that way).. Last I heard, he and the 'self-help' friend were very, very happy! So word to the wise.. if you are ‘involved’ with someone, try to avoid selling them ‘self help’ intimacy aides that will only make you obsolete…

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue- November 2011

Something Old:

'The Smiths' seem to be buzzing about at the moment, maybe it is because they have released a new collected box set of their LP's (which are too expensive for me to buy right now, plus I already have three of the LPs on vinyl). For the person wanting to 'explore' the Smiths, let me say that if you buy just one Smiths LP... though I love 'The queen is dead' and 'Strangeways here we come', go for 'Hatful of Hollow' it is brilliant! And it has some great live recordings on it as well. Anyway, here is 'something old' from the now defunct 'The Smiths'. Apparently this is a demo recording! I do love the live and rawer sound of it! As well as the extra refrain around the 3.10 minute mark (something like - 'there is a light in your eye that never goes out') which is not on the final version found on 'The Queen is dead' LP.

The Smiths- "There is a light that never goes out"

Something New:

The Black Keys have a new track and it has a great video clip. There are so many things to love about this clip: It is done in one continuous take (which I love). There is a lady who quickly pops her head into shot (look at the 'office window' at the 29 second mark) and then realises 'whoops!' The guy dancing in it is brilliant and can come to any of my families parties anytime!!! (I can see my aunties twisting, rocking and rolling along with him). Lastly the track itself has so much energy!

The Black Keys - 'Lonely boy'

Something Borrowed:

This is apparently off a Christmas LP they released. All I will say is that not only is the tune great, but the clip is full of cheesy Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass goodness as well! I have to confess that the song itself is one of my favorites.

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and "My Favorite things'

Something Blue:
Louis Armstrong performing on the Bell Telephone Hour: The American Song, February 2, 1964! I have heard a few variations of this tune, there is an earlier version I am quite partial to, however this here is a live clip of Louis and crew, which is a real treat to see!

Louis Armstrong- Basin St Blues.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random images from walking about

Every time I drive past this, I think- Oh! I should stop and take a photo... so I finally did.

 Piano falling apart in someones front yard:

Stuck on a side wall in the back streets of Northcote:

Eureka tower, Southbank (running late to have dinner at my brother's, but finding time to take some photo's!):

Raining in the lanes of Fitzroy:

The city at night:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A training guide for the European counsellor- Introduction.


As a counsellor trained in the humanistic approaches, one thing that I have trouble with is containing the conversation. It often takes me most of the session to get the client to finally stop talking about themselves and to focus on me! I really want to get to that point much quicker in my sessions so that my client has more time to sit and listen to this wise bard (yes, me again). When I say that clients can learn so much from me, I am not just humbly stating the obvious. My life experience has led me to a place where I am generously able to offer the most excellent of advice. So I recently set off looking for books, training or whatever I could find to help me get out of the humanistic rut I was in.

After much searching I was flabbergasted to discover the lack of assistance for counsellors such as I, who need help in making the focus of the session ‘me’ and my brilliance. Most of the books I found were all ‘client focused’. These books were so Western and so polite, they made me throw my arms up in disgust and make some random unintelligible noise beginning with ‘Phugh!”. These guides all lacked  passion and life. Are counsellors expected to be blank faced emotionless robots who summarise, repeat phrases and rattle off generic phrases like …’how do you feel about that’, ‘what are you feeling right now’, ‘tell me more’ etc. Where is the gusto and fiery emotion of the European?  It’s about time someone put together a few pointers for the European styled counsellor. Yes, the counsellor who is not afraid to say it like it is, who won’t take crap and whose motto is ‘If you ain’t gonna take my advice, then don’t waste my time!’ By George, I am feeling inspired just rereading those few lines that I, myself  have typed! As no one is able to pull themselves away from ‘actively listening’ to their clients for long enough to assist us, the us who need more than the lifeless humanistic approaches offer, then it seems left up to self-inspiring I to bravely lead the way and re-write the bible (so to speak)!

Yes, I will kindly write a guide for you and for all the budding ‘European counsellors' everywhere who may need some guidance on how to bring honest emotion, good advice, truth (which does sometimes hurt, but remember, it is for your own good), passion and engagement back into the counselling session!  I am also excited to now present the only factual thing you'll come across in this guide, which is:

Actual studies show that it is not the style or the model of counselling that matters as such, it’s the quality of the counsellor-client relationship!

Everyone knows that Europeans are the experts on relationships! Whether these relationships last or if there will be faithfulness in them, I cannot say (in fact I don't think there is a word in European for 'fidelity', but don't quote me on that!). Do stay tuned for haphazardly presented snippets, tricks and tips that will bring out the medallion wearing, mono-browed European within. Throw the word ‘counsellor’ in, grab a coffee, some cannoli and congratulations! you are now officially a European Counsellor! 

Now go out there and change some lives!

matteo schiavello.