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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Dispensary
Situated in a picaresque laneway just off Hargreaves Street, The Dispensary is a medium-sized bar and diner standing just opposite a flower shop and barber, so you’re always greeted by a lovely fragrant scent as you enter.
The staff have never been anything less than polite to me. They are professional and clearly love what they do, and take great pride in their establishment, as they should.
The Dispensary is probably most famous for its extensive drinks list – red and white wine, beer, cocktails, rum, vodka, whisky, gin, aperitifs, digestives etc.
My personal favourite is the peach flavoured aperitif “Rin Quin Quin”.
Regarding their menu, they change it on a regular basis, which is both a blessing and a curse, as I die a little inside when a favourite dish of mine vanishes from their menu. But this policy allows for plenty of experimentation from their chefs and without it, I never would’ve experienced many wonderful dishes, such as their latest gyoza recipe.

TAFE Day 1
So I walked the short distance to the bus stop and seated myself on the red stool. Shortly afterwards, a blond woman in her 40s approached and said good morning. This surprised me as people tend to ignore me.
I bus was packed, and I had no choice but to sit alongside a high school girl at the back, right amongst a raucous group of guys. Out of habit I apologized to the girl.
The only thing to note along the way was a boy tapping me on the shoulder and indicating to the buzzer ahead of me, but I was too thick headed to understand what he wanted from me; instead, one of the raucous high school boys pressed the buzzer for him.
That embarrassment aside, the bus ride passed without incident. I got off at Mitchell St. and begun my trek to the TAFE City Campus. I’d barely exercised over the past few years and it wasn’t long until I was exhausted. It didn’t help that it was extremely warm, either. I’d forgotten to bring a bottle of water and soon found myself dehydrated.
It was the first day, and like I expected, it was rather a bore; we were writers, who wanted to write. But for the most part, we sat in our chairs, rather uncomfortable chairs in my opinion, and listened to them prattle on about classroom etiquette.
I don’t blame them mind you. A few years ago, when I first did this course, I recall a bunch of students ignoring one of our teachers, Peter Wiseman, and instead watching YouTube videos, or using Facebook.
The only thing I did at home was watch Aurateur’s stream. First, let me explain about Twitch. It’s a streaming application for people to broadcast themselves playing video games. And millions of people tune in to watch these streamers. Some streamers make lots of money and receive thousands of viewers. It’s a full time job for them. Every day they stream for 9 or 10 hours, playing games like Fortnite. And they make their living via viewer subscriptions, advertisements, merchandise, and so on.
Aurateur is my favourite streamer. He’s an expert at the Mario Maker series of games. Nintendo built a series of tools for gamers to create their own Mario levels, and then play them. I frequently find his streams hilarious because the majority of the levels he plays are so terrible – after all, the levels he plays aren’t created by professional level designers.
Day 2
I only had one class on Tuesday. Manuscript Development. That’s what I’m writing now. I don’t have any great ideas or anything. I’ll just document what goes on when I go to TAFE. Very exciting.
As my class doesn’t begin until 1pm, I ask my mother if she’d like to have lunch at The Dispensary. I figure we can squeeze in a meal at midday.
I order the gyoza as usual. My mother likes the flathead here but I suggest she try something different; so, she asks the owner about the scallops, and they sound really good. She decides to order them. Unfortunately, it turns out they don’t have any. She ends up ordering the flathead again.
Despite that disappointment, we still enjoy our meals. We also receive a side order of potatoes, which are delicious. For drinks, I order the French aperitif Rin Quin Quin, and my mother a lemon lime and bitters.
In class we learn about Vogler’s story beats. I already know about Vogler. I did an assignment a few years ago about his story beats. I suppose this is my punishment for quitting the course two years ago.
The student sitting beside me, a young woman who’d barely spoken, seemed distressed about the task set by out teacher. We had to create a character for our novel. I reached out and suggested she based her character on herself, but this seemed to annoy her more than anything; “what?” she muttered in response.
It was a minor thing but I instantly regretted having made this interjection; later when I left the classroom for a toilet break, I saw her being consoled by another student, her hands covering her face.
Day 3
The classes today were editing and short fiction writing. Editing didn’t interest me, I had the first assignment from two years ago lying around the house somewhere, and if I could just find it, I figured that’d be job done.
Short fiction writing was probably the class I was most looking forward to. Until now I’d always been instructed by Ian and Peter, but now I’d be meeting Tru. What’d she be like? Would she be nice, like the others? Or more like Umbridge from Harry Potter?
I had nothing to worry about, as class panned out about as well as I could’ve hoped. The task she set for us was to select a colour we identified with, and write about whatever that came to mind.
I selected pale blue. Well, I grew up south of Melbourne, in the beachside suburb of Chelsea. On the paper I actually wrote the beach didn’t do much for me. I couldn’t swim so whenever I’d go there, I’d just walk along the sand and stare out into the distance, until I got bored.
I also wrote about depression. Feeling blue and all that. Specifically, the few years after dropping TAFE for the first time. I described going days without performing basic necessities like showering and brushing my teeth. I guess they appreciated my honesty because I got a decent applause when I finished.
I could feel my ego swelling as everyone else read their respective stories. No one else topped my story. Tru liked mine best. I was the best writer in class. I didn’t say any of this, of course. I just sat there, quietly basking in their praise. Trying to take it all in, humbly.
I’m an arsehole.
Day 4.
I see that woman at the bus stop again. She greets me the same way as before, only this time we strike up a conversation. Her name is Trish, like my mother. I don’t actually tell her this. When I mention I’m doing a writing course at TAFE, she mentions her husband used to do a course there, involving visual arts.
We get on the bus together, and she manages to find a seat at the front, but I must settle for a seat at the back, again amongst a gaggle of chattering high school kids.
Trish and I both get off at Mitchell Street, but somewhat to my disappointment, she gives no sign of recognition to me as she departs.

As I’m waiting for my class to start, I get a surprise as I see one of my old classmates again, Meredith Adams. She has to travel from Kyneton every time she attends TAFE.

To put it mildly, I'd been in a slump for a while. My life lacked any direction and purpose. My friends tried to help, and I kept insisting to them that I knew I needed to make changes with my life, but as time passed, my words grew increasingly stale. I still hadn't taken any action, and my friends knew it.

I'm somewhat amazed they had the temerity to put up with me through all those years, as I was so tiresome. I really was sick of myself. Evidently I wasn't sick enough, though, because if I was, I wouldn't have so relished those moments, when I would abuse myself, because I was such a weak person and a part of myself felt that I needed the spotlight, the attention, the sympathy.

In retrospect I would come to regret projecting myself in this light as people rightfully viewed me as damaged goods, a light touch, sensitive, someone who must be guarded against the harshest realities. At times I found myself mistrusting anyone should they pay me a compliment; surely these words were intended only out of politeness?

Some of the friends I spoke to proposed that I head down to our local beach every day, with the intention of ordering a coffee or some such beverage at the nearby cafe. The ultimate goal would be to make regular trips, day by day, and strike up a "cordial relationship" of sorts between consumer and owner, and if possible any other regular attendees.

It was a very promising idea and in this moment I set out for the beach. Ultimately the trip failed to realize its potential as I was cowardly and never even approached the cafe entrance where a small crowd of people had gathered. I stood alone to their left on the boardwalk, looking out at the waves, as I often would. Then I left.

I can never commit myself to a task, can never apply, and sure enough after only a few days I'd given up on the whole idea of making acquaintances at the cafe. I never ended up going there in the end, anyway, I only stood on that boardwalk, doing nothing, watching passers-by frolic across sea and sand. Thereupon I switched my radar to our neighboring suburb, just because it was a tad larger and had more to offer in terms of eateries and the like.

Ultimately I considered it a good move, or at least something more lively occurred, compared to what transpired down at the beach. I'd walked down to the main shopping area, I had a bit of money in my pocket and was looking to pick up some lunch, actually, maybe considering the time of day, it would've been brunch - in any case, I suppose it was a weekend as it was very difficult to find any place I liked that was open. I swear, all the sushi places, all the Asian eateries were locked, and any place that was open just didn't interest me.

So, I kept walking, up and up the street, and I kept a pretty heavy pace, which I really shouldn't have, as I'm not in good shape, rarely exercising as I am. So I walked right up to the very top just to ascertain that there were no promising cafes or the like that I'd missed out on.

As I walked back through the streets, feeling utterly defeated, my ears detected a sound - not for the first time, I realized I'd heard this music while making my initial progress through these streets. Glancing in the direction from which the music was being played, I observed a woman playing some instrument, though I forget what it is now.

Standing on the edge of the pathway, I took the wallet awkwardly out of my pocket and strode across to her. Wallet in hand, I took out the ten dollar note and placed it inside her guitar case. All of this to me seems like such a wild moment, like a flurry of actions, nothing done in a composed way; as she said to me, "oh my God, thank you so much, God Bless You," my eyes were fixed on the pavement beneath, my hands furiously wringing the wallet shut. Then I strode away in a rush without looking at her. I felt exhilarated and began to sweat and itch.

In the aftermath I reflected upon my action, how I had contributed and made someone happy, even if it was only brief. Walking back home, I told myself, no matter how badly you or others may view you as a person, you have brought some light to this world, haven't you? At least a little. Even a tiny donation such as that proves you are capable of some good.

Back at home I fantasized about approaching the busking lady and somehow striking up some sort of light banter. Maybe I'd ask her about her musical inspirations. I despaired somewhat as I'm not so musically inclined, my brother is, and we might hit a wall there, but in these fantasies we always seem to overcome these issues and create a fluid dialogue amongst ourselves.
 

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Hey Andy? **** off you idiot.

Nice post, Jeff. Next time, ask her if she'd like to take a break and grab a cold drink.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
The strongest impression left from this encounter were undoubtedly the words she spoke to me. For the most part the only people who'll acknowledge my presence is my family; leaving that environment, for the most part, I find myself feeling isolated, invisible, stranded; I have this tendency to separate myself from the rest of the human race, like I'm the only one with problems, and everyone else are successful, they're all winners, and on the odd occasions when I find someone who shares some of my dilemmas, a person I can really identify and relate to, it's so amazing to me. Though, as I write this, I recognize such feelings are groundless. Alienation. Loneliness. Depression. Not rare things.

Where was I? I was speaking of how much her words resounded with me. I still hear them ever so faintly inside my head. As I said, mostly I talk to my family, and on occasion, medical professionals of various occupations. But this was a different kind of experience. Maybe because it was so spontaneously driven, with little fore thought, did I blunder through and not even glance to see what she looked like!

I told my friends about my experience and if my memory serves, they gave me advice on what to do, some of which was serious, some was pure jokes, no doubt. I didn't really listen to anyone in particular. I was planning on returning to the same spot tomorrow and hopefully she'd be there again. In my mind I had a vague hope that if I walked by as she was playing, perhaps she'd remember me as the guy who gave her the generous donation from the day before, and therefore, somehow acknowledge my presence?

But it wasn't to be. It was a Sunday and she wasn't in that shopping area. After returning home I joked to my friends that she may have been at Church, remembering that she blessed me the day before. Feeling increasingly foolish I walked down to the same strip the next few days just to chance upon her, but she didn't return. This routine of walking down to the beach and our neighboring suburb for the busking lady lasted only a week or so, and I gave it up with the reason that it was dull, there's nothing to do in our little town, you needed to explore the city to find anything worthwhile.

And so with that, I resumed my passive, sluggish, languid, do nothing lifestyle. I know what happened in this period, but at the same time, I don't: when you live in this manner, the days blur into one another and become identical. You know what's coming, day after day. A part of you is actually comforted by this kind of undemanding lifestyle. Every day you wake in the evening or night, possibly late afternoon. Soon after waking you take your rejection medication. Maybe you pick up an old book and head off into your bedroom. Your brother might come inside to talk to you. You have conflicted feelings because when your brother hasn't spoken to you for a little while, you stress and wonder if you've done something to aggrieve him. But then there are times when he wants to talk but you just prefer to be alone.

And then, like you are now, you may opt to use the Internet. All night sessions as is often the case. I don't watch as much television as I used to, something I sense has happened with other people, too. The Internet is obviously a massive influence. Still, I enjoy watching television shows and movies with my family. My enjoyment is really dependent upon their mood. If I'm watching a show I like but I notice my brother isn't happy, it's impossible for me to enjoy it.

People leading happy lives driven with purpose and worth, they have stable jobs, work they enjoy, families they've built and raised, who they love - and for that they are content and thankful in life. These things I mention, like books, television, Internet, they can be used as an escape, to plug the holes in your life, mask the void, or at least attempt to. But they're never enough in and of themselves, you need more.
 

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チャットキラー;9418403 said:
I told my friends about my experience and if my memory serves, they gave me advice on what to do, some of which was serious, some was pure jokes, no doubt. I didn't really listen to anyone in particular.
i assume those friends were people on XT chat? In fact I seem to remember this occasion as it might've been one of the few times I've ever been on XT chat. well, the chances are you don't really get any meaningful advice or support from random names on the internet. although it might be better than nothing. I'm not going to tell you "make some IRL friends" because i know it won't be that easy for you but in some way you should move towards this direction. And you can be sure there are people out there who can offer support and positive change for you and for whom you can also be a positive influence. And I'm sure you'll find those people at some point in your life. Or maybe some of them are already there, you've met them but haven't opened up to them because you're not ready yet or are too afraid. Essentially all those barriers we create which separate us from other people are the creation of our own mind, I've noticed it again and again in my own case and I also have hard time with it. But by now I also know these can be overcome.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The concept of making a friend seems like pure fantasy land to me. I'll try and explain. Well, obviously there are various 'avenues of friend making', that is, different places and such in which to meet people and develop relationships. And really, in society, there's so many places where you can make friends... it's not limited to a few places. I mean, sure, there's popular meet-up joints like bars, but anywhere where there's people, it's possible.

But naturally I don't help my cause by hiding myself from the world practically.

Aside that, what makes me doubt is everything that DOES happen when I try a normal, average conversation with someone. I can't make a good impression. The person talking to me isn't so into the chat and they're not going to be dwelling in the future about me and the conversation they had with me. The people I speak to... we're not connected. Frankly, they are adults. They have that status. I need to grow up.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
And so my life continued along this stale and barren trajectory for the following months to come. Up all night, with few exceptions, I would often occupy myself at our desk. Even my surfing habits were limited; often I'd do little else but waste the night chatting away with my friends on a football message board. Sometimes I might check a French photographers gallery of North Korean photos, or go through a selection of my favorite reading blogs, but even at 3am, when I'd long exhausted my Internet usage and was well and truly tired of it all, I still couldn't force myself to log off.

A side of me did like staying up through the night - the quiet, everyone fast asleep, being left alone - but eventually if you maintain such a sleeping pattern for a sizable period as this was, you snap, you want to change, you want a break from the monotony that your life has become. You want some color, some cheer, some brightness. You want to do something. Anything. Well, maybe not anything. If my memory serves me correctly, I'd been looking at some photos of the Melbourne Zoo on flickr, and the Snow Leopards caught my eye in particular. Well, you know I ended up going to the zoo. Unfortunately I didn't catch a good glimpse of the leopards as they were sleeping right at the back of their enclosure. And I understand why red was so scornful of me when I said I felt bewildered by Flinders St Station; the second time I went, for the writing club, suddenly the station layout was absurdly simple.

In retrospect, the zoo was an interesting experience but perhaps not altogether enjoyable; this was my fault as I was constantly stressing about making the right decisions with transport, and holding out irrational fears that I'd make a monumental error and never get home and therefore miss my rejection medication. I need to take it morning and night otherwise my lungs will be rejected by the immune system.

The zoo trip complete, I developed a cold and upon recovering from it lapsed once more into the same old lethargic routine. This was only broken by a trip to our local pathology lab for a diabetes test - which I was found not to have - and then a trip to the Alfred for a routine check-up and lung function. When some of the nurses saw me, they asked if my mother was outside, waiting for me, but in my dry voice I told them I'd come by myself. Was it for the first time? they gasped. No, I said, a few times by now. Well done, Jeffrey!

And of course the write club. My friends, who are reading this, thanks you guys, seem to think I struck something up with a lady called Allison. Actually the name brings back memories as back in school, I fancied this girl called Allison, and one day when we were heading for home, she turned right but before she was out of range, I gave her a wave and she waved back. I'm not totally convinced by that recollection, though. It seems too good to be true and oddly disconnected from how I generally viewed our relationship at school: not close. She had her friends, I had mine. I'm sure there was a kid she liked, too.

But the write club. Well, the conversation was very friendly, but we didn't connect as people, I mean, all of the interests we expressed diverged from the other. When she told me about her interest in sci-fi, well, I don't read much, but I spoke about Stanislaw Lem's themes, but she had nothing to say about that, can't blame her. She likes Asimov and Tolkien but I can't say much about their work, only read Fellowship of the Ring... truthfully when the rest of the members had gathered, she was immersed in dialogue far more with them than with me.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It was becoming a familiar pattern by now. I'd attempt some kind of activity and once through with it, I'd return home and give a full account of exactly what happened, step-by-step, wishing for my readership to somehow glory in my achievement. Actually, part of me recognized that this was why I'd went out in the first place, at least partially: it wasn't for the experience, I did it so I had new material to draw upon for my writings, and upon these I hoped to gain a portion of approval from my friends. As I traveled to the zoo and the writing group, my mind would inevitably drift back towards my friends, and it emboldened me, gave me strength, when I pictured the moment in my mind when I would at last return home and tell them about my day.

But these days, I would say to them, were draining for me. Obviously my sleeping pattern was a major factor. These two trips to the zoo and the write club, because I'd woken up the prior day at some time in the evening or night, I found myself staying up all night - and so by the time I was making preparations in the morning, getting set to leave, I was already tired. My lethargy was alleviated when I kept my mind and body active, so I was fine for the most part; only when I sat idle on the train could I feel the weight of my tiredness.

From my side whenever I undertook one of these trips, I always regarded it as something exceptional, a truly rare event. Maybe it didn't even occur to me that I could sustain these outings on a regular basis. I knew it was possible for other human beings; my own parents, in the space of a week, chanced to make attendance at a concert and opera. Sometimes I think to myself, "why don't I go to the movies tomorrow?" I could just go. Why not? Just go. To me it seems incredible, almost frightening, to say so decisively to oneself, to be so spontaneous... and then do it. I know some people who are capable of arriving upon an idea and executing it straight away. But I delay, and stall, and contemplate the 'what ifs', what can go wrong?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
One of these friends who I so refer to is a man from England, Bill. Amongst all of the contacts I've established, he is one of the closest and a person I've shared a lot of myself with, and he with me. Often it has been the case that I've revealed too much about my self to him and as a consequence of this I hurt him. Well, he felt sad. Recently he said he was going to send me an unused Hugo Boss shirt of his, he showed me a picture and it looks good. I may have to get a pair of jeans as all the pants currently in my possession are really daggy looking.

I'm mentioning this shirt as Bill wants me to go to a bar with his shirt on. These past few days I've even performed a few searches, looking for good bars situated around the Melbourne CBD. I was turned off by the bars that looked too expensive, though. The kind only fashionable, high-class folk would dine at. The women would wear stylish dresses and the men suave suits. I said, half-jokingly, half-serious, that I'd prefer to be surrounded by a pack of slobs.

I am grateful that Bill is sending this shirt. I know it's nothing compared to having a family to raise or a full-time job to commit to, but once again it gives me something to do, an objective. As usual there are doubts; not long ago my hair was a mess and to solve this problem I shaved it right off. That was a few weeks ago, and presently it's in a state of regrowth, hopefully to a condition that I can be satisfied with. But if the shirt arrives shortly, as Bill seemed to be expressing, I wouldn't want to stall the trip because I'm uncomfortable exposing the public to my bare scalp. Even as I type this now, I recognize the foolishness of these words.
 

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It's probably rather unrealistic to imagine that you could walk into some bar and start making friends there, especially as you don't drink. It would be somewhat difficult setting for you IMO.

Your best bet would be places where most people share your interests. Places like this writing group you visited (or maybe some anime club or manga collecting group, if something like this even exists in your city - even though those places might be full of freaks IMO :D). Just keep going there week after week and you're bound to get to know like-minded people even if it takes effort to come out of your shell at first.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I was watching this anime a few days ago and I was really enamored by its concept. Basically the show introduces us to our protagonist, an unnamed college freshman with "dreams of creating an idealistic rose coloured campus life for himself". One night he's sitting alone by himself in a ramen stand, or at least he thinks so, but then he realizes a figure is sitting across to his right. He says he is a God who is trying to help the student find love - he knows the student has feelings for this woman called Akashi and so every episode the student joins a different "social circle" - be it a film making circle or a tennis circle - with the hope of getting close to Akashi and succeeding in creating the ultimate campus lifestyle of his dreams.

I've only seen two episodes but it always goes wrong for him somehow by some chance happening. It could be something very small. Maybe he hesitates a little and doesn't totally go for it, and if he did, things would work out differently for him.

The clock rewinds back to the start after every episode, where he joins a different social circle.

There are anime clubs in Melbourne... it'd be cool to talk about this one.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
In this present moment my favourite television show has been the Showtime drama Homeland. Perhaps the main reason why I regard it so favourably is down to the excellent leading performances as given by Claire Danes, who plays CIA Agent Carrie Mathison; and Damian Lewis, who plays Nicolas Brody, a former marine Sergeant in the US Military. Both of these individuals are severely damaged from past experiences, mentally, physically, they are lonely and find it hard to connect to those around them. Their relationship on the show is a fascinating one, at times self destructive, but in other moments they revel in a sense of freedom that is unbecoming for them. They learn they can be free and open about themselves for once in their lives.

Whenever I develop an obsession towards a television show, my mind tends to create flights of fancy. In this case, there was a period of a few days where I longed to sign up to Australia's Defense Force. I'd join the Army and become a man, I told myself. Naturally, like all my ideas, and least of all this absurd plot, it all fizzled out before long.

One of my friends suggested that I check out an anime or manga club as it may be in my interests to meet anyone with similar interests to me. It was a good idea and perfect timing as it turned out; after performing my search, I discovered that such a club had been set up very recently, indeed, at this very moment, they are busy making preparations for their first ever meeting. This meeting will just be a meet-and-greet, though; members show up, say hi, have a chat, hang around a bit. Then we leave. Future meetings will be more elaborate, with anime screenings and the like.

I glanced through the profiles of those who had joined. The friend who advised me to join also warned that such clubs may be full of "total freaks". I felt like he was referring to myself when he made that remark, or perhaps I thought to myself, I'm really the freak who'll be joining this club. I felt comforted when I saw profile pictures of members who had pale white skin and uncertain smiles. I felt scornful whenever someone listed Bleach or Naruto or some other rubbish anime as one of their favourites, then felt guilty when I reflected upon my bitter thoughts.
 

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チャットキラー;9426028 said:
I glanced through the profiles of those who had joined. The friend who advised me to join also warned that such clubs may be full of "total freaks". I felt like he was referring to myself when he made that remark, or perhaps I thought to myself, I'm really the freak who'll be joining this club. I felt comforted when I saw profile pictures of members who had pale white skin and uncertain smiles. I felt scornful whenever someone listed Bleach or Naruto or some other rubbish anime as one of their favourites, then felt guilty when I reflected upon my bitter thoughts.
If I'd think you're a total freak then I wouldn't warn you about joining a club full of "total freaks" now would I?
 
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