Saturday, 31 May 2008

"This won't hurt a bit"

So I go for a blood test today, not too worried—figure it’ll be over quickly at least… I have big veins! But by the time they even call me in I’ve already guessed what everyone in the room is having blood tests for.
The nurse seems pleasant enough.
“Does it hurt?” she asks, needle already embedded into my flesh.
Somehow she’s managed to miss my HUGE VEINS.
“It’s fine,” I lie.
I forgo complaints as there's still a needle in my arm - and no blood in the tube. I don't want another needle I just want to be out of here. I think I'm going pale. She loosens the tourniquet and somehow manages to get blood without it - I told you I had big veins - but it still takes her forever .
I make the mistake of watching. I wish she didn't know I was a doctor - I'm sure it psyched her out.
Why is this taking so long? The needle is STILL in my arm.
“Really it doesn’t hurt,” I keep telling her, only by now it hurts to say it.

FINALLY she removes the needle and I dive for the examination couch, it's that or the ground.
She realises how pale and clammy I've become as she presses the cotton wool into my arm.
I wait for it all to go away.
She guiltily gives me a box of juice and I'm on my way. 
Then in the evening I pour my soul out and send the story of my blood test to my friend. She mutilates it. "I hope you don't mind."
"Oh no, It's wonderful, really, I like it lots"
And I'm right back where I started.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Do you know about this picture?

Here's an image I posted a little while back. A reader asked me for more information about it as he and his partner have a particular affiliation with it and are keen to see if they can get an official print or something. But I only know that I like it. 

Does anyone know more about it? The artist? The title? The owner? 

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Transparent Wild Wednesday

"Hi John, you're looking like you had great sex last night. Have you got those reports?"
"No mum, no he's not my cleaner he's my sex buddy."
"Actually I feel like crap, but I don't want to talk about it with you"
"Yes it was good for me, but not as good as when we did it in the ___ with B_____."
"I don't normally donate to charity on the streets, but you're cute so I'm making an exception."
"You're driving me crazy with all these acronyms and jargon, speak to me in ENGLISH and show me how clever you can be without being a wanker."
Wednesday's the day to imagine you've taken a truth serum. To use the buzzword of the decade, make yourself transparent. Be honest, open and maybe even bold. While honesty can be confronting, it can also be refreshing. Life lived in the protection of our expectations is not necessarily a whole lot of fun, nor much of a challenge. So scare yourself, scare those around you; effect change or just do it for laughs, but see how transparent you can be and see what difference it makes to your day. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Dance Dance

On my birthday I typically send a selected group of family and friends crazy doing things that are a little out of their comfort zone, but hopefully still a lot of fun. This year I had them all ballroom dancing. A private lesson I arranged with the delightful Virginia at Logan Dance Sydney who had us laughing sweating and actually moving to the music in some form of order. They do same-sex ballroom/Latin (like I really know the difference) dancing classes there on Sundays but we had the place to just us on Saturday evening and it was a hoot. I was laughing out loud, and a lot. Can you get any gayer than this? I don't know but after seeing the top dancers at the 2002 Gay Games, I thought it looked like the ultimate thing to do and Saturday was the day. It seems it was even more popular than I expected - there is talk of going back for more... It wasn't all same sex, but my brother got to dance with quite a few of my male friends... he is a particularly good sport.  

Speaking of gay themes, and dancing, there is a TV show I've just seen my second episode of called Skins. It's UK based (and UK readers probably know more about it and have probably seen - or missed -  the end of the current series). It's targeted to a late teen / young adult audience and is really a lot of fun. Innovative and certainly entertaining plots with a decidedly cute blonde (above) in the cast... and significant gay themes. I'll be keeping an eye out for Skins on SBS, Mondays at 10pm.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

It's My Birthday

I got my package (mentioned in a post below). It arrived at work no.1 on Thursday but I had to leave it there until after work no.3 Friday because I was basically working right through... And then it was so big I couldn't fit it into the car (bloody convertibles!) but managed to squeeze it in, levitating on the front seat/dashboard and obscuring my view of the road. I don't think I ran over anyone on the way home. 

So it gets home - but I'm starving and the pizza I've picked up with the levitating package in the car has precedence. The Frenchman can't keep his hands off it though, and we break through the box, the multiple layers of plastic wrap (elegant though it is) and place my new imac on the lounge room table. 

It comes to life and looks beautiful. We both smile. It asks for a photograph and we're surprised by the huge flash it creates as it immortalizes us on the big BIG screen. I try to find the picture to paste here - but I'm a little lost and when I find it, it is so small... need to learn more about the settings... I've managed to connect it to my pc and as I type the files are downloading from its hard drive. Easy. The more I use it the more fun it is and I'm just getting started. 

And now I'm exhausted - I didn't sleep much at work last night and I have a big day ahead. I'm excited by it all already, exhausted, excited, and so in need of sleep. I'm back to the apple orchard. It feels like home.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008


A reader recently asked about traveling to Stockholm where he plans to travel solo.

It just so happens that I too will be headed to Stockholm, in less than a month now. My initial experience there was back last century when I was studying in Oslo and took the overnight train there for a weekend. I arrived in the early hours and needed to pee... of course you need money to use toilets there (very foreign to an Australian) and nothing was open for me to change any coins. So my first impressions of Stockholm were quite urgent, and the automatic toilet I ultimately found, door accidentally ajar in a pretty little park by the water is etched in my mind forever.

But there's more to Stockholm than the toilets. Though I'm sure a good many readers will have memorable toilet stories of their own... Most of my memories though, include ice & cold with sunshine to make it all sparkle, and old parts of the town and very little social interaction - because I was very shy back then. I have a collection of pretty photos (none digital) and no recollection of cute men - because I wasn't really out to myself and well, everyone was wearing parkas and things anyway being winter and all.

So what can one expect from Stockholm in 2008, in mid June?

If our experience of the rest of Sweden is anything to go by, an avalanche of Saabs and Volvos, some striking design in the way of architecture, homewares and men (we're wondering if Stockholm will keep up with Gothenberg's high cute man index) and more light than you can find in a convenience store. And these are the things (not in that order) that I am going to be looking for. Of course to get over jet lag I will need a swimming pool, and if that swimming pool has a simple classic architectural feature, nordic gods swimming and a cafe with designer forks, then I might as well end the holiday there and come home, my itinerary completed.

We're looking for accommodation to book, because while friends' friends have invited us to stay with them - we don't want to impose. So if anyone has suggestions on cool places to sleep, please let us know.

Do any of superchilled's readers have suggestions of things one MUST NOT MISS in Stockholm? If you're Swedish, you have no choice but to comment. (I'm afraid it's the law.)

Wild (Package) Wednesday

Where do I sign?

It's Wild Package Wednesday, I'm afraid that's the theme we're running with today. Get your hands on a package. Pack your own, or someone elses. Find something you want to wrap up, or just, make up something that seems to fit the theme...

I'm awaiting a very much anticipated package very soon... While I'm wild about what's in the package, I'm happy to be wild about the delivery agent too...

(How many wild package clichés can we come up with today?)

Monday, 19 May 2008

Out of your mind?

We all live inside our heads. Sometimes to escape we'll take things, or do things that make us feel somewhere else, but ultimately we all get back to that same old place we know so well. We may have partners, lovers, friends and family who all interact with us, but regardless of how many we have or how close we are to them, our thoughts largely remain our own. With edited excerpts making it to the outside world when we open the filters wide enough.

One of the big questions of life is: Who do we open the filters on our thoughts to? Who do we let know everything we are thinking? And do we really actually let them know EVERYTHING we think - or just a less edited version than everyone else gets?

When we open the filters up and our thoughts get out into the world, we're exposing ourselves to challenge. Our essential existence can be questioned and discussed, laughed about or mocked, or it may well be supported and encouraged and empathised with. But when you open up, you don't know which way it's going to go, and the uncertainty about the possibilities can be crippling.

One bad experience can make us withdraw way back, to the world within our own heads, where little escapes and much is processed, and reprocessed. But focusing on the bad is never the way to go - there are usually a whole stack of positives that we ignore for the one negative experience we have.

When we find people we can really trust, we can open up and throw our filters away. It's a liberating experience, a whole new world, but it takes work - time and shared experiences that you build steadily. And just at it takes time for you to trust someone - they need time to establish trust in you. You have to earn it. You need to keep their confidence. You need to allow them to talk without feeling the need to filter, without criticising or dismissing in an offhand way, but exploring what they say and what they feel... and by being truthful with them. Telling them more than just what they want to hear. It can be a bit of work, but it's well worth it, with relationships strengthening powerfully through it.

Once you have people who know you without these 'filters', you start to have less anxieties about what the rest of the world thinks. And step by step life gets easier and easier, you live less in your own head and more at peace. I think some call it enlightenment, but that's a whole other story.

Welcome to a rather cerebral Monday.
I feel a spectacular week coming on.

Saturday, 17 May 2008


Superchilled and The Frenchman are heading off to Iceland a little later in the year ( ie late June).

What do we know about Iceland?

Not a lot.
It's an island that touches on the arctic circle.
It has long long long daylight hours - ie. no night in summer at all really, which means we won't have to sleep.
The people are white in winter, and according to London Preppy - very attractively so, but what are they like in summer?
If they look anything like the photo here - I'm not coming back.
Björk comes from there.

But what else is there to know?
Sure, I have the Lonely Planet guide - but I can't get past the cover.
Where are the places not to be missed?
The places to go, things to do, swimming pools to be swum?
Do we have any Icelandic readers out there? Or are you all still in hibernation?

Iceland : the ultimate superchilled destination.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Things I Love

  • Meals in with friends who are staying the night.
  • Getting into the zone when I'm designing things.
  • Swimming in warm glassy ocean waves at sunset.
  • Being pushed back into my seat as my flight takes off at the start of a long holiday, then the surreal feeling when it's dark and quiet in the plane and my brain is on holidays yet very much fired up.
  • Dancing crazily at home on my own, the music turned up loud.
  • Checking out a cute guy and finding us both bursting into laughter when we realise we're doing the same thing.
  • Breakfast at diggies cafe with friends.
  • Uncontrollable laughter after a sexual peak.
  • The Frenchman (technically not a 'thing').
  • Friends who anticipate my thoughts.
  • Hot chocolate desserts.
  • Helping people emerge from their anxiety / depression.
  • Playing on the beach with kids.
  • Being able to trust someone completely.
  • Making someone smile.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Wild Health Wednesday no. 2

Last week it was time for your physical check up. But while we do the physical things quite well, we often forget the rest, and it has come to my attention recently how many people are suffering in silence with depression, anxiety, panic... Often putting on a brave face for the outside world but absolutely freaking out inside. It can affect anyone and often does, with gay men more afflicted than most. One such patient just recently told me how he has been feeling severely depressed for literally decades, but has been trying to keep a brave face for the people around him. The bottom line is there's a lot that can be done and in Australia at least with medicare you have a lot of options that won't cost you a fortune.
So rather than freak out - take it to your doctor and talk about it.

I've re-posted an article I wrote for 1234Men below for further detailed information. I hope it's useful but please feel free to ask me more either in the comments below or via email.

Be wild and talk about what's really happening with you. It's a Wednesday thing...

Deep deep down...

Feeling a bit blue? Not really feeling sociable? Keeping away from friends and activities that you used to really love? Bored with the idea of sex? Losing your self confidence? Maybe this describes you or someone close to you. If it’s been more than just a few weeks, then it might well need treatment.

I’ve diagnosed so many people with depression in the past few weeks in my clinical practice that I figured a post here on the subject is in order.

Men are typically brought up to hide any negative emotion, ‘tears are for girls’, ‘be a brave boy, don’t cry’ … you know the drill. Acknowledging you have depression can be a serious step outside of what society considers normal manly activity. When we have these feelings, we can feel it’s a weakness, a flaw, and so we typically hide them from the outside world. We get angry and moody and behave irrationally. Sometimes it will make us withdraw into our corners and hide from the outside world. It may make us scared to go into public places, or contribute to anxiety problems and panic attacks. Sometimes we want to withdraw from life completely – end it all, ‘life’s just not worth living…’ But invariably the feeling of hopelessness is there, it’s like you’re in a submarine, and the world is happening right above you – you can see it – but you’re just can’t get to the surface, you’re on your own, deep deep down, and it can feel like you’re sinking fast.

But you’re not on your own… Depression is incredibly common. Around one in five people experience it at some point in their lives. This also means that most of us will have someone close to us experiencing it at some point, if not ourselves.

People will do all kinds of things to get around depression. Sometimes the odd drink might seem like a good idea, but being a depressant itself, alcohol will in fact just make it worse; similarly party drugs can give a transient high, but often return to a deeper low.

There are a number of things that can in fact help to resolve depression. Simple things like regular exercise will improve it (aim for 30 minutes per day of whatever exercise you enjoy that keeps your heart pumping at least a little faster than normal), talking to a confidante as a regular thing can help get through down times (and strengthen relationships too), just talking out loud with someone can significantly improve our feelings. Professional counselling with a trained psychologist working with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is very helpful, and this may be combined with prescribed antidepressant medication for optimal effect. St John’s Wort is a natural remedy which has mild antidepressant effect and useful on it's own for milder forms of depression. Certainly there are a lot of antidepressant medications on the market which are extremely effective at treating depression, and the right one can be prescribed according to individual needs (if one doesn’t feel right – there is another sure to work for you). In Australia the cost for these treatments is quite low, and recent changes to medicare mean that you can get rebates for the cost of referred psychologist treatment.

Your GP is the first point of call in order to fully assess depression and anxiety issues, and it’s important that you have a GP you’re comfortable with. There are also other counselling and support services detailed at the end of this post.

Suicide in gay men and youth is much more common than in the general population. Depression is commonly connected with this, and a society that is not welcoming, tolerant nor supportive will only exacerbate this. Feeling suicidal is a very scary and alien thing. It's important that you see someone if you feel this way as it IS something that will pass, but you may well need help to get past it.

We need to recognise depression in the people around us and to make an effort to support them. We need to continue to press for law reforms to recognise gay relationships and support them. We also need to become more visible, to provide positive role models for the youth and indeed young adults around us who need something to aspire to that they can identify with. It is easy to be complacent with what we have, but in Australia we still don’t have equality which is itself depressing. Changing these things may seem insignificant but can be enormously powerful for the mental health of all gay men.

The bottom line is Depression is common, it is treatable, but it can have huge effects on our lives and the lives of people around us. Recognise it, treat it and help prevent it, and your world is going to be a better place.

For more information see the links below.

Beyond Blue (Australian National Depression Initiative – highly recommended)
Gay and Lesbian Counselling and Community Services of Australia

The Trevor Project (no not me) an organisation in the USA which operates a 24/7 suicide & crisis prevention helpline for gay and questioning youth.

Do you have useful links from your country / state not included here? Please email or post a comment with details.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Hot Things Monday

The weekend has been awesome and I've been too busy to post - so here is a feast for you for Monday. I've been saving him up for just such an occasion.
May the week be as promising.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Strange Sightings

Singing in the... Toilet?

Last weekend in Byron Bay for the ocean swim, I'm at the surf club where I've picked up my race gear and go to the mens' - because I'm always a little anxious pre-race. And as I stand there waiting for a vacant cubicle, there's singing happening. I can't quite pick which cubicle it's from, but it's loud and interspersed with commentary, which I think might be part of the song to start with, but I'm not sure until it then becomes obvious that this is, in fact, a telephone call live from the toilet... The accent is distinctly Irish and he just doesn't stop, not for a second. The singing (not any tune I know, more like a child in a field singing in the sun as he or she skips to some random fairy tale in their head) just keeps on going. A cubicle frees up , and now I'm next to the guy. He doesn't seem worried by anything happenign around him, and volume is not an issue for him either. I'm not sure the other person on the line gets to say much because there isn't much in the way of gaps here in the music, and as I leave the men's the melody of this mixed song, conversation follows me outside and half way back to the race area.

Somewhere in the conversation he talks about wanting 'lots a pills'. I think he's already found them.

I wonder if he's still there, or if his mobile batteries have run out yet?

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Wild 'Hidden People' Wednesday

'LOOK AT ME!!' people.

We all know them, they stand out in a crowd, they're loud, they interrupt conversation, they are louder and brasher and often more irritating than anyone else, but still they manage to dominate conversations and parties and just about anything where they are found. You'll often leave an event because of them or have a much different time than you might otherwise have had were they not there.

Today is the day to look past them. To find the people who are being shut out by these irritations. To engage them instead, and make up a wall to defend against the 'look at me' people. It's not always an easy thing to do, and it can take planning. The quiet people often have a lot more to say, and are a lot more interesting once the loud people are shut up, or disengaged. The 'look at me' people will say the hidden people are boring, but they think anything that doesn't have them at the centre of attention is boring. So don't listen to them. Shut them out, and rapidly they will wither away, and the interesting but quiet types will come to the fore making life a whole lot more interesting.

This Wild Wednesday seek out the voices of those who are normally suppressed. The people you never hear, and see what they have to say when given the chance. It might be as simple as asking someone their opinion on something - work, social or otherwise - whose opinion you have never heard. Or it might involve moving someone out of the way so the voice can be heard.

Who and what will you discover?

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Late Night at the Beach House

I'm sitting in the beach house, The Frenchman is doing his traditional thing of sleeping on the couch and everyone else has gone to bed. Madonna's Hard Candy is on repeat, but only I'm listening through the headphones, it seems more personal that way, and it takes me away from everything... Here I am in veritable paradise - Byron Bay where it has been a sunny day, I have swum a fast time in the ocean swim had food prepared for me, had a sunset swim in the crystal clear ocean, yet I'm getting away from it all, my solitary time to verbalise my world on my own personal blog, that I don't know who reads. . Go figure.

I was reading this article in this weekend's Sydney Morning Herald today about educating children (and people in general I guess) not just to have skills and know things, but to be positive, engaged in and have a meaningful life. They call this positive psychology. And in reading this it made me think about my engagement with the world around me. Certainly I am one who thrives on engagement, this is kind of why I have this blog I was thinking after reading the article. I get frustrated when I can't engage with people and I then tend to withdraw into my own world, today to the ipod's 'hard candy'. Last night I went to bed around 9.30pm. Anyone who knows me knows that that's just not me. And no there was no fever / illness / jetlag. Sometimes I think I could try harder to engage with people - but simultaneously I think it shouldn't have to be hard. Perhaps I should take up drinking for the social lubricant effect (it's not going to happen) . For the most part I do engage well. And certain there are a lot of people around with whom I could sit in a room for hours and talk unceasingly. They are just usually too busy to borrow them for as long as I'd like.

The article also talks about 'flow', a state it describes as being totally absorbed with whatever it is you're doing as if time has stopped. I experience this both with my work with patients and when I'm working with design / photography. The world could seriously be falling down around me and I'd hardly notice. If I haven't got to that state for a while I do tend to miss it - much as if I haven't swum for a while - I tend to need a hit of it to continue, or my perennial glass half full starts to become a glass half empty. So reading through the article I realise that without knowing much about philosophy or psychology I'm on track for this 'positive psychology' life, and feel some degree of contentment.

So now that philosophising is over, and trust me, it is, I'm going to tell you that here it's the end of the swim season - and I'm kind of glad to be over the whole competing thing, because I think it's time to diversify my training schedule. Despite this I was looking for some new swimwear as my current ones are falling apart. I tried on some aussiebum's at the only place that actually stocks them that isn't online (strangely here in Byron Bay), and to wear them properly (and be able to go out in public) I'd really have to shave pretty much every pubic hair I own. So I decide that I'm not made for aussiebums, or vice versa, and look at the boring speedos in the store which I also leave on the rack. And when I check my email I have a mail from teamm8 who have sent me pictures of gorgeous men in underwear (not the swimwear I'm looking for) who I have to add look like either they have really perfect skin, or the have had a big dose of enhancement. So I decide to post this one here. You looked at it before (or instead of) reading this. There were more but you'll have to go to their site for those (and they didn't pay me, damn it, to say this). But in the vein of my philosophising above I don't think going there will bring you true happiness... If you do, do you think they're photos or illustrations? The line is very blurry... If you read the elastic band on the underwear in the photo I've posted here, do you think they are trying to say something?

Anyway. I think I've had my flow now for today. The waves are still crashing on the beach, The Frenchman still snoring on the couch, and everyone else still in bed. Madonna has been replaced with random but appropriate itunes tracks and perhaps, maybe I've engaged with you for just a little bit.

Saturday, 3 May 2008


Reading the paper at diggies, my Morning Smoothie at my side, waiting for Jamie to arrive, enjoying just being there, just absorbing the energy of the day and the truly stunning day around me. I used to feel uncomfortable sitting in cafes on my own , but these days I don't give a damn. The ocean in front of me - waves folding onto the beach warming air and clear rays from the rising sun. I could stay suspended there all day. Jamie arrives and we both decide on smoked salmon eggs benedict. And it's the perfect breakfast today, our last Friday breakfast together for some months now as he's off training the Chilean Olympic team... and he won't be back until after the Olympics. Damn it. I'm gonna miss him. I'm late to work because we're talking non-stop and there are so many things to discuss before he leaves, and also in no rush to leave the beach.

When I arrive at the hospital it seems I have nothing to stress about as the day is relatively quiet (though the office staff under much stress for operational reasons). I get to spend time with patients I've seen before who need review, and need the time to explore various aspects of their terminal illnesses. They're all strong characters today in their own ways, which makes it a lot more fun and we're all joking despite the seriousness of it all. I end the work day feeling good and full of energy.

Then I go to gym where I do... gym stuff because well, does anyone really want to know what gym workout I do? But it's a light session today because this weekend we're back in Byron bay for our annual ocean swim, and I don't need muscle fatigue in the race. I decide against take away for dinner as I've got too much energy left after my sub-maximal gym, and so I shop and cook a stir fry of fish, choy sum, snow peas, slivered almonds, oyster mushrooms and flat rice noodles. I've not cooked this with fish before - but it works and I'll do it again.

The week has been filled with so many awesome things, life is progressing in ways I would never have expected 6 months ago, and I still have so many more things that I want to do... I still need more hours in the day.

The weekend is here. Another long weekend for us as we're staying on in Byron bay for 4 days all up.


Have a great weekend. If I'm not too busy chilling out I may post updates along the way.