Some thoughts on returning to university (for a third time)..

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After finishing high school I was offered two choices for tertiary study; primary teaching or social welfare. Whilst I wasn’t quite sure what social welfare was I was very sure I didn’t want to return to school after already spending the past 13 years there! And so, social welfare it was. It took some time to adjust to tertiary study; writing my first real essay, referencing, research, the cost of texts, (the dread of exams I already excelled at). All throughout my course I silently pondered each subject; not really seeing the relationship between why I had to learn about politics for example if I was going to counsel people about their problems; and it wasn’t until my last year that I actually got a real taste of what social welfare really was until my first placement. It was here in the field that everything fit together; and I realised why I was taught politics; sociology and psychology and all the other “ology’s”.

Upon completion of my degree I worked within the field, and for some time felt that I was “making a difference” and good at my chosen career. However after 6 years my passion began to wan and my empathy for other people’s problems diminished until I became a cold, uncaring, “I’ve heard it all before” type of person. Feeling that I was not benefiting myself or my clients I left the field and returned to study my real passion, English.

Although I had been a somewhat avid reader (albeit ‘junk’ material rather than scholarly works) for most of my childhood, it was a particular teacher in my senior years of high school who first passed on the love of literature. His recital of T.S Eliot’s ‘The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ was inspiring to say the least and one I will I remember until this day. In hope to become a published author I enrolled into a BA arts degree majoring in English and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my studies. The course forced me to read material I wouldn’t otherwise have read which were outside my chosen genre of interest and introduced me to the works of great writer’s such as Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. I loved studying poetry, (especially my favourite poets Eliot, Coleridge and Frost) and found doing so like solving a puzzle or decoding some secret message as each stanza was broken down and mere beautiful words and phrases gained meaning and insight.

While studying, my writing developed both in literacy skill and influence and I filled notebook after notebook with poems, character development and plot ideas. The beginnings of stories and novels were begun and then discarded as I deemed them unworthy, but regardless my passion was strong. I learnt about the process involved in getting work published (or at least attempting to); and vowed that on completion of my studies I would dedicate my time to finishing work for publication. However, as it often does; life got in the way. And so after two children, and many, many attempts, I have yet to even finish a piece of work let alone submit one to a publisher. Initially this caused me much disappointment and frustration within myself (and towards myself) for my lack of commitment and felt that as it stood my degree was a waste of time and money. I have now come to the realisation that this is not true. Although I may not become the published writer I always dreamed of being, my love for English has been strengthened and my understanding of the subject deepened and for that my course was not a waste at all.

This year I begun a BA of Secondary Teaching and am once again excited and inspired by my studies. Although I am only into my first week I am already imagining teaching a class and the reward of hopefully passing on my love of the written word to young minds as was once passed on to me. Let us go then, you and I…

 

Panic; ATTACK! (A concrete poem)

                                                                                               Spiralling

                                                                                                                out

                           of

                             control.

                              Reality fades

              into darkness.

 

This scary place,

Where I am,

alone.

 

 

                                                                 Alone

                                                                  with

                                                                 myself;

                                                                   The

                                                                Enemy.

     Whispers in the shadows…strangers stealing sanity…

     So dark…no air! Gasping, shaking, twitching, praying;

                                                             Please stop…

                                                                  God!

                                                            Make it stop.

                                                                There’s

                                                                    no

                                                                  more

                                                                  breath.

    Stillness.

                                                                   Am

                                                                     I

                                                                  dead

                                                                   yet?

 

 

© T. Rymer

 

 

Milson (Chapter 8)

Chapter 8

Milson travelled back home much the same way as he had left all those years ago. He walked and hitchhiked, as all the money he had was to go the funeral parlour. As Milson drew near his home town, he travelled with an old woman in a Datsun that never exceeded 80k’s. Milson didn’t mind though, he enjoyed the woman’s company. When she laughed the wrinkles around her eyes made her seem younger, and she knew everything about everything. She talked about topics from antique collectables to effective surfing techniques. She knitted and played snooker, and had a schooner at the local pub every Tuesday. Every Sunday she went to church with her daughter and grandchildren.

By the time they had reached the centre of town, Milson didn’t want to leave the car. The woman must have sensed this and bid Milson goodbye fondly, wishing him the best of luck with his journey and ‘God Bless’.

Milson wished her the same also and found that he actually meant it. His wishes for the old woman were not simply hollow sentiments. Milson wondered if this was due to the charming allure of the groovy gran, or the death of his mother.

As Milson watched the rust bucket putter down the road, he felt as if something had changed in him. He felt free; he could breathe easily and stand tall. Milson walked down the main street, stopping at the shop windows, remembering afternoons spent gazing into the sweet window, wishing, just wishing, someone would take pity on him and treat him to some treats. ‘Guess they figured I didn’t need any’, Milson thought as he passed his old school.

The smells of the schoolyard lingered on the breeze. Milson was taken back to his school days once again. Rotten lunches, long hot days squeezed into a classroom like a school of sardines. The teasing and taunts were not forgotten. Milson thought it funny that now those days didn’t seem so bad. At the time it hurt so much. Each day as unbearable as the last, now however, he knew that it was all normal. Kids were cruel. Fat kids, freckly kids, kids with glasses and braces were teased all over the world, and yet, Milson was self-centred enough to think he was the only one.

As Milson came to this realisation, he had reached his old street. As he neared his house he slowed his pace, and saw in the distance a crowd formed in his front yard. Milson eased himself in amongst the strangers and intently watched the punters in action.    

By the end of the auction, a young couple, with a small girl with golden blond hair and emerald green eyes, had been the highest bidders. Milson couldn’t have been more pleased.

He watched the family joyously hug and kiss, and enter his house.

‘It’s now your house. You’re home. May you have happier memories than me’. Milson whispered under his breath.

 Milson took one last look at his house, and left for the last time.

 

* * *

Milson went to the funeral parlour. He was relieved to find that the mortuarian’s were not as bloodthirsty as he had imagined. They showed Milson an array of caskets in his price range and Milson chose a white coffin with gold trimming.

At the graveside service, Milson was surprised to see quite a collection of mourners. His mother’s congregation had attended to pay their respects, as had many of the local townspeople. Milson listened to the minister’s service intently. He presented a fairly traditional service, complete with a responsorial psalm and a rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’.

Milson expected that he would feel differently then this. As he listened to the words of praise stream from the minister’s mouth, Milson suddenly felt a tear trickle down his face. Soon, his vision was blurred and he faintly sensed the crowd moving away. Milson was now alone with his mother, after twenty-three years.

            ‘Twenty-three years’, Milson thought. Twenty-three years of living alone, in squalor, unknown and unloved, un-nurtured and faithless, living a life of fear.

Fear of what’? Milson wondered. Milson wasn’t really sure why he didn’t ever return to his mother. Deep down he guessed it was because he knew things between them would always be the same. That nothing would change, that his mother had her way of living, and as long as Milson lived with her, it would be his way of living also.

But now, as he sat by her, rigid and lifeless in a satin lined box, he felt no fear, for there was nothing to fear. His mother was gone. Now, guilt and remorse replaced the fear and anger he had carried all these years. ‘Why didn’t I just go and visit her once’? Let her know I was alright? She might not have cared either way but…at least she would have known…at least I would have known’.

Milson stood up and took a single carnation from the ground. He placed it on top of the casket and said a silent prayer for his mother. He figured she deserved that one final gesture of love from her only son.

As Milson walked away from his mother’s graveside he suddenly noticed the feel of the sun upon his neck. He closed his eyes and lifted his face towards the sky. Milson was finally glad to be alive. He determined from then on that he would take full advantage of his time left on this earth, before the cycle of life was complete, and he returned to his mother for the very last time.

 Milson inhaled the warm summer air deeply, and took the first step towards the rest of his life.

 

 
The End

Milson (Chapter 7)

Chapter 7.

It was Christmas Eve, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. That is until Milson comes along.

Milson had spent the past week on mischievous midnight missions.

On the eleventh night of Christmas he had decided to raid a seemingly vacant house. Vacant that is, until Milson entered and set off the alarm. A short night with little reward.

On the tenth night of Christmas, Milson’s “true love” gave to him, two hundred dollars cash and white substance in a small tin. Milson’s gut tightened as he recalled that night. It had started off successfully. A silent entry with no injury.  Milson was just settling into his surrounding when a thin, pale man entered the room wearing nothing but a black satin robe and a woman’s wig. Milson’s admirer did not appear shocked to see him, which shocked Milson, however not nearly as much as when the man stopped dead in the middle of his romantic ramblings, rolled his pupil pinpointed eyes back into his head, and fell gracefully through the glass coffee table with a crashing thud. There he stayed. Milson obviously did not. He scooped up random objects and money from the debris below and headed off into the night somewhat shaken and sexually confused. 

But, he didn’t let it get him down. Milson carried on with determination late into the ninth night of Christmas. Which, consequently stole some of his bravado towards the business when he met a rather challenging colleague: a crim with a crowbar. In the scope of things Milson was quite fortunate not to be brutally beaten that night, but it seemed fate must have been looking the other way, just as the crim was when Milson snotted him over the head with a lamp. Milson luckily escaped with a few bruises, a hundred dollars and a 6-pack of VB. ‘Well, why not?’ Milson had thought, ‘after such a hard days work I deserve a hard earned thirst’. Milson had walked home with the cider in his hand and a bounce in his step. He whistled a merry carol and when to the bottom of his refreshment, danced a merry jig as he tooted into the vibrating VB bottle.

By the eighth night of Christmas Milson was tiring of his second occupation. His chronic anxiety had returned, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to hide his demeanour at work with the children. He was slowing developing into a cranky, old, sour Santa. His soul was beginning to feel rather sour also. Milson did not feel remorse at all for stealing personal belongings, for he thought them pointless anyway, although did feel terrible for the fright he had caused.

The worst was on the eighth evening. Milson was spent. Time was dwindling. He found a large, luxurious two story house in an affluent estate, amazingly easy to enter despite the large gates. The vast amount of vacant land surrounding the abode allowed Milson enough coverage and space from the public eye to scale not only the towering barrier, but the building itself also. Milson had successfully made it onto a balcony which had called to him from above, waving him over with the soft, white curtain that billowed from the open doors.

Milson obeyed and met the curtains face-to-seam. He also met a young girl face to face and made her scream. Loudly. The girl threw a large ceramic object at Milson, which whizzed past him at a dangerous speed before shattering on the ground some distance below. Milson was backed against the balcony, projectiles and screaming increasing by the minute. Milson took a deep breathe and jumped over the balcony. He free-fell for what seemed like eternity before suddenly stopping. His head pounded and ears rung. He was sure his lungs had stopped working. He couldn’t move. Suddenly, somebody released the hounds. They’re teeth were not miniature machetes like the terrier’s; but blinding blades shining smooth with salivation in the shimmering moonlight.

Milson suddenly felt fine, fantastic in fact, and decided he may go for a run. He picked up what was of worth, (which upon later survey amounted to fifteen dollars and two crystal fairy figurines), and bolted for the barricades.

By the seventh day of Christmas, and after the previous night’s episode, Milson decided it was the Sabbath Day and one of rest.  He had pawned all his collections, and now counted all his ‘savings. Milson was very relieved to find he finally, had (just) enough to purchase a basic coffin and service for his mother.

 

It was time to go home.

 

Milson (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6.

Milson loved his new job. For the next four weeks he would be Santa Claus Monday to Saturdays. Loved by all; bringer of joy and laughter and lollies and gifts. Finally, Milson was popular! Granted, he was a fat, hairy man with glasses in a velvet red suit, but hey, if that’s what it takes.

In the first day of his new found calling, Milson had felt more feelings of contentment and innocent love than ever. The children all looked at him with wide eyes. Gentle to the touch, softly bequeathing Barbie dolls and bikes. Milson was relieved to see that not all wanted game consoles and money. Money for Christ’s Sakes. Since when did Santa’s elves make money? Shit, if they did, Milson thought, wouldn’t it be easier to just kidnap an elf or two and start an underground slave labour counterfeiting con? Yeah, but not as rewarding, he figured.

He remembered one boy in particular. How he had shyly slipped into Milson’s lap, he peered above with questioning eyes. Milson had cheerfully greeted him, asked if he had been a good boy. The child uttered a barely audible ‘yes’ as he fretfully looked around him. Milson had asked if his mother was nearby and found himself somewhat confused as the boy responded with a flat ‘No’. Milson tried his technique of offering sweets in attempt to win the boy’s affections. It seemed to work as he gratefully accepted and thanked Milson.

“What’s your name Son”? Milson had asked.

“James” He replied hastily, shortly followed by “I have to go now”.

With that James pushed himself off Milson with a force that astounded him compared to his previous tenderness. Milson caught James’s wrist; “You haven’t told me what you would like for Christmas James”.

Milson’s eye’s still stung when he remembered that familiar look in James as he replied; “I just want a good Mum”. 

During the latter half of his second week, Milson found much pleasure in his clientele. However, the pay itself was not so rewarding. That Thursday evening as Milson sat in his room counting his earnings, he realised it was time for something drastic. Milson peered at the calendar that screamed “Twelve Days to Christmas”!, and decided to make a plan.

“On the twelve day of Christmas, it occurred to me, I may have to do some B&E’s”. Milson sung, only half jokingly as he got out his pen and paper. Milson spent some time calculating his current savings and sighed stressfully as he realised he had a long way to go. With this conclusion, Milson put on his Santa suit and prepared for some overtime.

 

* * *

 

The evening was cool and sharp as Milson walked the strange streets. He wandered amongst the homes, and peered in at the families bundled around the television, glowing in its warm light. Finally, Milson came to a house. It looked very much like his home, his mother’s home more to the point. The yard was dishevelled, and as Milson entered the weeds whipped around his boots, trying their best to prevent Milson from invading the property. Milson lifted his legs higher and trampled through the battlefield, slowly and silently making his way towards the back door.

Milson found a side window slightly ajar. He hoisted himself onto a discarded bucket and ungracefully wiggled through the window. On the other side Milson felt his way below and found the floor. From there he shimmied in, until he could shimmy no more.

“Fuck”. Milson muttered as he felt one of his boots slip away. He hastily lifted his bare foot and stood upright. His heart was pounding so hard he couldn’t hear his surroundings. He took some time to calm himself until eventually his ears adjusted to the sounds. Clicking clock, trickling tap, so far so good. As Milson’s ears carried on their work, his eyes joined the party as they begun to seek out their treasure. Milson noticed he was in a bedroom. The dormant bed displayed in the middle of the room lay flat. Milson relaxed and walked over to a large dresser holding treasures for the taking. Milson filled his sack with jewels and tried to prevent the jangling now coming from his booty bag.

Milson then heard another sound…some kind of scuttling. ‘Mice perhaps’? Milson heard a low growl below him. ‘I’m pretty sure mice don’t growl’ Milson thought as he looked down.

A small pointy faced terrier peered back with narrowed eyes and furrowed nose. Suddenly Milson saw a flash of white as he felt pain sear through his leg.

“Little Fuck!” Milson hollowed as the terrier tore into his ankle with microscopic machetes. Milson shook his leg forcefully and sent the mutt slipping and sliding to the other side of the room. Milson wasted no time and leaped head first out of the window. Within seconds he found himself sprawled in a garden bed, with his left behind boot below him. Milson raised himself up slowly at first; however upon seeing lights within the house flicker on in alert, he grabbed his boot, booty and fled.

 

* * *

 

In the early hours of the morning Milson still sat wide awake in his room. He surveyed the scene in front of him. “On the twelve day of Christmas, an old bird gave to me, two silver necklaces, five gold rings and a small bag of children’s baby teeth”. Oh, and not to mention an incredibly aching Achilles tendon inflicted by a fucking terrier. Milson felt ridiculous. All that effort for practically nothing.

 Milson hid his treasure and retired to bed. He planned to cash it tomorrow after work, and then, he would go out again. However this time, he was making sure there were no dogs.

Aside

Milson (Chapter 5)

Chapter 5.

That morning Milson awoke feeling refreshed and re-energised. He ate a hearty breakfast of eggs, toast and juice and anxiously accepted the words of encouragement and support from his roomies.

At 8.47am as Milson stood outside the grey, concrete consumerist construction, he took time to prepare before entering into the unknown.

‘Appropriate attire’. Check. Beaten-up briefcase. Check. Beaten-up briefcase containing one 1-page rushed résumé including vague contact details and curry stew residue. Check. One confident, apt applicant… check? Milson wasn’t so sure. Milson took a deep breath and a step towards the automatic doors. They glided open and Milson hesitantly hobbled through into the bright, stark surrounding. He was directed to a tea room where six other large men sat in catharsis consuming coffee. Milson sat at the end of the table some distance away and shakily removed the ‘résumé’ from his case. Some of the other men glanced his way, and then easily returned to their conversations, obviously unthreatened by his presence in the present situation.

Suddenly a well-dressed woman entered the room and held all to attention. She stated her name and position and the procedures of the interview process. With that she called the first applicant and returned to the lair.

Milson watched the men enter in Santa mode. Full of chubby cheeked confidence and robust. They returned withdrawn and blank. Not one made eye contact upon leaving. Not one spoke or sussed out the panel and their vulnerability to bribes. Just as Milson was ready to leave in fear of entering an alien-run brain washing unit, his name was called by the extra-terrestrial leader herself.

Mr Hauumer, Milson”. Statement. He was expected to enter. And why not? It was just an interview. What could be so bad?

As Milson entered the cold room he knew what could be so bad. Three firm faced females sitting propped behind a mahogany matriarchal table. They fired questions from left, right and centre. Milson answered all as honestly as he could, yet when finding himself rambling on about his loss of childhood and lack of seasonal spirit, he knew he had lost them.

‘Fuck Dickhead, shut up. They’ll think your some kind of nut case’. Milson peered above his glasses at the silent surveyors above. Their faces had softened. Milson relaxed.

By the end of the interview, Milson had left the room in, and with a smile. As he walked through the tea room, he held his head high and greeted the remaining applicants ‘good-day’.

For the rest of that day Milson was on cloud nine. For the next week that followed with no contact from the prospective employers, Milson dropped nine below zero.

He passed the days at the refuge drinking and smoking and playing cards. Listening to the others tell of tales repeatedly told.

Just as Milson had given up hope and was ready to pack it all in, he received a call.