It’s the morning of December 28th, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table at Pat’s place in Lismore. Pat is wandering around the house doing bits and pieces. Jack and John are sitting on the verandah discussing the state of the world (from fishing licences to global warming).
Over the last few years, things have been a little troubled, due to the disruptive behaviour of one family member, but things seem to have settled down this year, since he’s received some help.
Within maybe 6 or 7 years, I’m pretty sure I’ll be living back here. I had a look through the real estate pages in the paper today, and I’ ve also had a look in some real estate shop windows over the last few days. I have a fair idea of where I’d like to live, and am reminded by some good advice I received from a friend: “Blocks of land seem like a good idea, until you realise you’ll spend all your time mowing the grass!”
Some of my friends in Sydney worry I’ll be bored moving back here, missing some of the things I take for granted in Sydney. I remind them that it’s not the outback I’m looking to live: it’s Lismore, a reasonably cosmopolitan regional city, and a place where I have friends and family.
In the meantime, Surry Hills in Sydney remains home. I moved to Sydney in 1995 thinking I’d be here for only a few years until I got “Sydney” out of my system. I thought I’d return to the country within a few years, but then I fell in love, and my career took off, and now it’s twenty five years later.
Our biggest change in Surry Hills this year was that, after years of waiting, we finally have a light rail/tram. I can hear the “ding ding” sounds from my bedroom at night. I’ve only caught it a few times, as I’m already pretty well-served by public transport. It improves access for me to George Street, which I’m pleased about.
This year, there’s been a couple of long distance trips to Canberra, Lismore, Melbourne and Brisbane, and I had three weeks working in Darwin in the middle of the year. It was THE BEST time of the year to visit Darwin. The weather was sublime, and I was there when a number of major cultural events were underway: the Darwin Festival, the National Aboriginal & Islander Art Prize, and the National Indigenous Music Awards.
Family & Friends
After years of ignoring “Facebook”, I began to use it more regularly this year. Like many, I’ve had concerns about privacy and data misuse, but I’ve concluded the advantages of being able to re-connect with friends and family way outweight the disadvantages. As a result I’ve re-connected with cousins I haven’t seen for almost forty years, and even met some for the first time.
I received this lovely message from a family member the other day.
The little lady with the blue shirt on James reminds me so much of Mum. I see so many of your old photos and can see just how much the O’Briens look alike. Always thought Meg and Uncle Johnny we’re alike. Silly old me, but sometimes I get a bit emotional just to see people whom I never knew look like my own family.
Work has been pretty enjoyable this year. After the “managerial turmoil”, of the last few years, it’s been great to have both a Managing Director (David Anderson) and Chairman (Ita Buttrose) who both enjoy widespread staff respect, a reflection they both have many decades of experience working in the media.
For the last few months of the year I’ve been enjoying “Work-Free Wednesdays”, as I’ve come to call them. Because I’ve gone into “Excess Leave” (meaning I haven’t take all of my annual leave over a few years), I was instructed to take some time off. Rather than take a month or so, I asked if I could take Wednesdays off instead. In reality, I’m still probably working my full-time job, but in both a practical and emotional sense, it’s been really fantastic to have a break in the middle of the week. I’ve been enjoying getting up late, going out for a morning coffee, going to the movies, having lunch with friends, going to galleries, and going for a swim. It’s been absolutely awesome, and I look forward to continuing this in 2020.
This year, I was also strongly involved in a group called, “ABC Pride”. Part of the “Pride In Diversity” groups which are part of many large organisations today, ours is a staff-led initiative to both support LGBTIQ+ staff, and to hopefully contribute to making the ABC a more inclusive workplace. One of the most exciting things coming up in 2020 is that we’ll have an “ABC Pride” float in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Keep an eye out for me!