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The night off to my right is about as black as it's possible to get without being completely blind. Frogs are singing. In fact, there are things out there making noises I'm not sure I've ever heard before. It's raining. No lightning. If my Indiana Jones-style hangup wasn't toads I'd be out there right now walking around. I've missed this. I feel like a visitor anywhere that doesn't feel like this.

Got a good feeling about 2011. Got a date the day after I get back. Got a good friend setting up residence the day after I get back. I managed to get a good friend in Sussex a slot on the ghost story anthology. Got work offers myself with the same outfit. Feeling good about what I'm making which - I'll say it again - I never thought I'd feel again. Plus my craft is really coming together. The exercise is paying off. I've had a couple of people notice. I think I'll be seeing more of my family in 2011, which'll be fantastic. I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen or how it'll play out, but I feel pretty calm about it. I'm on better terms with sleep, and my dreams and I are doing okay. Drew wants us both to see Thailand this year, and I'd be up for that.

Got a good feeling about the date. We met and started riffing off each other like we'd known each other for years. I like that. And she's an author. Still, no expectations. Just looking forward to it. Really makes me want to get my act together though, I'll tell you that. I'd like to see Howard again and just have a drink someplace. He's a good talker.

Rose and I have gotten a lot closer. Realised just how solid the core friends I have are.

I do like coming back here. It makes me sane whether I want to be or not. I wonder if at some point I'll pretty much leave for good. I hope not. But everything changes.
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Right now the world past the verandah is totally dark, except when it's lit by the strobe of heat lightning above and behind the treeline. Thunder that shakes the walls and floors. Really missed this.

Just had Dad fill me in on the construction of explosive bullets, using mercury or soap. Then - and this pretty much sums up my relationship with my father - he asked me:

"You ever fired a rifle before? You pulled off some really good shots yesterday."

"Yeah. Rifles. Bows. You don't remember when we used to go shooting?"


"Do you remember me sitting at the dining room table helping you make dum dums?"

"No. When was that?"

"Shooting? King Junction. Dum dums... dunno. Childhood."

"Oh yeah. That was a while ago."

"You don't really forget."

"Yeah, like riding a bike."


It's worth mentioning that King Junction was the cattle station we spent every holiday we had between my ages of zero to fifteen. Some day I'm going to make a therapist very happy. Or I'll just let go and move on.

Very happy with the short story for the anthology, even if I have no idea where it's going. The opening paragraph is one of the few pieces of my own writing that puts a big smile on my face.

Taking my second crack at liking the Doctor Who reboot. Christopher Eccleston stuff... no complaint. Tennant stuff, still shits me. Lazy, lazy, lazy, frickin' shamefully lazy in places. Pretty sure Gaiman had the same opinion if that lends my view any clout. Hoping they pick up their act. And yes, I know, Blink is great.
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- Last night my brother and his family came on over. My nephew is a lively quick-minded genius. Nothing small-town about him at all. If he can get out of here when the time's right I think he'll go far.

- My new niece is some kind of fairy-goblin that reminds me a *lot* of Cavalorn's daughter. Which surprised the hell out of me. It kinds burns that they'll never get to meet while they're this age, never knowing the kind of bizarre crap they would have inflicted on the neighbourhood.

- My mother's terror of tree frogs endures.

- Alan wants to take me for a run sometime next week. Got no interest in hunting but I'm curious to see if I can keep up across broken ground in this heat while carrying whatever we'll be carrying. Guns, presumably.

- A massive wallaby turned up at the scrub line this morning. Just loped around, grazing. Dad's dog isn't anything like the pack my brother keeps. Stumpy's a blue heeler/collie cross that's almost exactly like a Ribena-fuelled five-year-old kid. Took Dad ten minutes of work to get the dog to even notice it. Stumpy's not a killer, he just plays. Bounces around. Likes a chase. One time Dad stopped the truck, pointed out a wallaby in the middle of the road and the dog took off. Wallaby didn't move. Dog slowed down. Wallaby stared at it. Dog stopped. Looked back at Dad, waiting for backup. Wallaby took off. Dog took off after it. He's sweet.

- I look right and see jungle. Soundtrack is the constant flatline trill of cicadas. At night it's the kiss-face sound of geckoes. Queensland gets a lot of flak, but most never really give it a chance. Just go on and on reinforcing what they've been told to think about the place. Personally it'd take a bit of work on my part to be able to live here, but in a lot of ways this is the dream.

- Penguin emailed an offer for Rowley Monkfish to be included in a forthcoming ghost story anthology. Been working on that the last few hours.

- Probably won't be posting photos 'til I get back to a decent connection. Doing it from here could wipe the folks out for the month.

- I hear Melbourne's rainswept and freezing. Up here it's at least mid-30s and muggy. At least two showers a day and I'm living in the swimmers I picked up in Reykjavik, which are the only shorts I own. This whole year I've dodged the cold. Melbourne had one of the coldest winters in years and I was in 40+ New York with sweat raining off me. It's been 12 months of heat. Even in Iceland. I could do that forever. I've been really lucky this year.
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Gutentag, mein homies.

Well the plan was to update regularly, sort of, via the only computer with a working net connection inside of a five-mile radius. What I didn't allow for was the possibility that the USB ports might be borked. Nil transference from the Eee... so I'll transcribe stuff later maybe.

Been here a little over 24 hours now. Folks are sleeping and the dog's run off to play with the dingoes, I think, so I figured I'd do some work. Gotta be up early to shoot dead-but-dangerous branches off some very tall ghost gums.

It's good being here, but it sets off survival instincts the same way being locked in a box sets off survival instincts. Also I'm out of phone range unless I go stand in a field. The Bedouin have a neat trick for getting SMSes fired off in the middle of nowhere. Type it, hit send, then throw the phone as high into the air as possible. So if I had to, I could do that. But in the short term best bet is via here or email.

Tried taking photos. There's a lot here that's photoworthy, but at the end of the day I think it'll be an album that looks pretty samey: jungle, scrub, trees, dogs, trucks, kids, sky. See how I go I guess.

The for-real post I tapped up yesterday was slightly more informative.

A friend I haven't seen in ten years (she wrote the song that featured in Razors) got in touch, so it'll be good seeing her when I get back.

FNQ feels like Mississippi, if Mississippi lacked kudzu and breathed beneath your feet.
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Drinking juolukahvi (I think I spelled that right.) Christmas coffee. Spiced with a bunch of stuff. J brought it over. Had to buy a plunger just to use it, but worth it.

It's going to be weird not being here. I say this as someone who gets homesick and knows it. But Over There is absolutely the right place for me to be. It's the next evolutionary step. It also means I can get to anywhere I need to be, which makes me a more viable proposition. €1-300 for a return flight to London is nothing and I'm fine with cattle car. I may not be able to sleep in my own bed but sitting in the cab of a Toyota bouncing across some busted track in the bush and I have trouble staying awake. I figure I'm meant to be doing this... even if I don't know precisely what it is that I'm doing.

I think my folks are having to face the fact that this puts me even further away from them than I have been for the last 12 years. I think they've already done the math on how many days we'll have left together. I know I have. I'm not sure what happens if they become so infirm they can't care for themselves. If it comes to that I'll fly back and settle in Cooktown for the duration. Hoping I'll have made enough by then to keep us all in some sort of style or comfort. I think Dad'll be okay. He always said if it got to that point he'd just walk out into the scrub and we wouldn't see him again. He's said it more than once and it always spooked me, but the older I get the more I think I'll probably wind up doing the same - if it came to that. I think my brother's on the same wavelength. I know I've mentioned it here before, but one of the last times we saw our grandmother it was at a nursing home in Cairns. Broke my heart. Didn't know what to do about any of it. But I do remember turning to Alan as we walked out of there and the exchange went like this:

"Listen, if either of us ever gets..."

I like my brother. Took a while, but I do. We're remarkably similar, just took different roads. If he was mildly aspergic and looked up rather than around we'd probably be sharing a house.

I've always said our father saw me as the prototype for him. Stress-tested me for three years before v2 came along. At the end of the day the code and mechanics all have the same base. Alan became more like Dad, and I still think I might be adopted. If it weren't for my grandfather who was an English political activist and academic, and a career Navy man. Saved a lot of lives during the war, running Coastwatcher operations, single-manning a patrol craft avoiding Japanese shipping to collect marathon surveillance groups from the PNG shoreline. The older I get the more I look like him, and the more he seemed to take an interest in who I was turning into. I only wish I'd been a few years older - and he a few years younger - so that we could have had some proper conversations.

My family doesn't know where we come from. Our lineage has been masked on both sides by some sort of melodrama we haven't been able to unravel. I know that my great-grandfather worked as a bodyguard for unsavoury types, eventually meeting his end in a gunfight someplace in Canada. He made a lot of his fortune gambling, and that had something to do with it. And I know that there was some deep shame about my paternal great-grandfather. He came from Middlesex in England, and I'm pretty sure he wound up in Sturt prison in Townsville when my grandfather was born. All I know is that at the junction of those two families are a group of people who seem to be pretty good at shooting, gambling, situational strategy and toughing it out - and not that great at the long view. Case in point: Dad's deaf in one ear. The reason for this is he was stalking a razorback boar across someone's property. He was alongside the house when it came into view, muscle-memory kicked in and he'd shouldered and fired the rifle before thinking about what happens when sound encounters a hard, flat surface. The sound of the shot rebounded point-blank at him. He got the boar, but still... that's us right there. Do what you have to and any negative results become elements of what you have to do next. Roll with it.

If a life is a lock we seem to reach for dynamite before thinking about a key. It's subtle, and weird, but it's there. I wish I knew more about where we come from. Hell, my surname isn't even Rogers, technically. It's Colledge. Rogers was a name my grandfather took in order to distance himself from his own father and the associated shame. Whatever that was.

I guess I'm thinking about all this now because I spent three days out there. I've got city feet and bad habits, but the code is still there. I like being in Melbourne. I like having a good bed even if I can sleep on a floor. I like good coffee even if I can live without it. The older I get the smarter I get about what I've been told and what's actually true, and it's like chipping a mould from something kiln-fired. I get the feeling the purpose of my life is to have all of this revealed a piece at a time, and then I'll die. That and working out people.

I don't know if any of that makes sense. It's been wriggling to get out for the last few days.


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March 2012

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