venerdì, luglio 30, 2010


I'm legal for Australia. I cannot believe how fast and effeciently my application was processed. I am composing not so much a prayer as a paean of gratitude, pre-emptively, and perhaps my expectations are too high, which so far runs a little like this:

Dear Australia,

Thank you for not getting on my tits all the goddamn time, like some countries I could name.
Thank you for welcoming this poor huddled mass of hyper-educated middle class Caucasian woman despite the interesting conviction of some of you have that the country's all full up,
And once more, thank you for not getting on my tits.


Mistress La Spliffe

I plan to recite it every morning.

But just in case you think I might have gone soft, here's my first sweeping complaining-type generalization about Australians: I have yet to meet one who knows how to use a comma (maybe over-influenced in a literary sense by Ned Kelly?). But frankly at this point I don't care so it doesn't really count as a complaint. They could just jettison punctuation completely if it doesn't stop them from being as awesomely effecient as they are relative to the people among whom I've been living for the last three and a half years. Nevertheless it's been remarkable.

giovedì, luglio 29, 2010

The Shoddyssey part III

I've just realized I've got something like 10 weeks before we leave Brussels. Obviously in one way that's an extremely happy thought; but in another, nuts-and-bolts short-term sort of way, it's like this place is putting me through an extended exit hazing in terms of all the absolute bullshit I have to go through with with taxation, local and utilities authorities just to put this scaphic pond behind me. Whenever a suspicion creeps in that I might miss this place, some new incidence of idiocy rolls out.

And this week it has been contrasted painfully - sweet-bitterly, because the potential future sweet is rather more dominant than the transient bitterness - with the utter competence of the Australian authorities. There have actually been a few examples thereof in the last few days, but here's the most remarkable: the F-word called the Australian taxation office to reconcile some old charge. The first thing they did was offer to call him back, since it was an international call. The second thing they did was patch him straight through to the person who could help him, who did - within five minutes the issue was rectified AND he got guidance on what to do when he gets home.

In the meantime, I'm contrasting this with the pie-eyed idiocy and utter fucking runaround I've got from moronic Wallonian public servants over getting my tax refund, which has been pending since fucking April . . . luckily the HR manager took pity on me and that's being sorted by our accountants, or something.

I've decided to try to deal with the rest of the bullshit that crops up by always choosing the Flemish language option when calling large institutions and trusting that they'll speak English, because honestly, three years in this place has left me convinced that the only reason it doesn't sink into the sea is because the Flemish are holding its head above the water. I don't know what's wrong with the Wallonian school system that it creates such a quantity of myopic, bovine, lumpish idiots with which the country's civil services have been burdened.

And I really hesitate to approach the Flems in this fashion . . . it feels really disrespectful to call people up and ask them to speak in another language in their own country. But I've been driven to it by fucking years of dealing with these Frankish dolts.

Anyways, another painful point of comparison between where we're going in Australia (this district) and Brussels is that it's fucking winter there, and the middle of summer here, and the weather is still better than it is here. Adjectives of disgust fail me.

These years in the wettest, moldiest parts of northern Europe have left me with a mighty revulsion for those human traits that have left us incapable of controlling our violent and acquisitive urges sufficiently to all live in harmony in the subtropics. No; instead we're a race of jerk-offs, who have hounded each other to the degree that uninhabitable temperate rainforests, which is certainly what Belgium must have been before being burdened by Belgians, have provided a sodden recourse for entire civilizations.


All else is going well or badly, depending on whether it involves Belgians or not. My visa case officer has all my papers and is processing them, now that the Mounties have came through; she's suggested it'll be another month. The darling woman got in touch with me the day after she got back from vacation; if she was Belgian . . . well, luckily she's not.

Work would like me to spend a week transiting in Singapore to get to know some people there; that's fine with me as we wanted a transit week anyways, and I have a feeling the food and the botanical garden will be superb.

Also I need the nice gentle introduction to Asia that Singapore is reputed to be. Shanghai didn't really count because I was staying at the Four Seasons, which was like a Four Seasons anywhere, except with better food. I have a feeling that in the coming years I'll be eating great quantities of mind-bendingly delicious food, to the degree that the wonton soup they serve in the lobby there will seem utterly plain and uninteresting. But nevertheless I'll never forget it; just at the moment I needed wonton soup the most, there it was, fucking deliciously, after a near-total desert of anything even vaguely Asian in my diet for the previous three years . . .

With the cat, I don't know where things are at. The vet - Wallonian of course - went on holiday after leaving me in the dark about the fate of her blood samples, so the whole process is basically at a stand-still until the end of next week. That's bothering me.

And everything else ticks by . . . slowly but surely.

martedì, luglio 27, 2010

I only count one Belisarius

Reading Count Belisarius. Almost none of the magic of I, Claudius. I suspect Graves was eating fewer magic mushrooms during its composition, or had eaten too many in previous years. Or possibly I, Claudius was better because Claudius's narrative voice fit in more naturally with Graves' standard narrative voice. I don't know, I think I'll need to read a few more of Graves' novels to be sure. It's not like Count Belisarius is crappy or anything. Good fight scenes, certainly.

Briefly talked with Rodelinda this past weekend, while she visited and amidst dozens of other things, about how I was sort of scared that one day I'd run out of good books to read. Now that I've read Middlemarch suddenly the world of literature looks finite in a way it never did before. She pointed out, in her erudite way, that that was stupid thing to be afraid of. I hope so. I just fucking hate getting stuck with a crappy book; it's like having sex with a stupid man.

lunedì, luglio 26, 2010

You wait and you wait and you wait and you wait

The ginger beer is coming along beautifully - bizarrely so. I kept a jar apart from the main bottlage to test as it goes along. My only concern is that it was already delicious and delicately effervescent on Monday night after bottling it Monday morning, and it's not supposed to be ready for two weeks. But it's hard to see how it can get any nicer, although it's still a little too sweet, which I guess will go away as the ginger bug works its magic. I'm concerned that it'll taste yeasty instead. We'll see. The waiting is the hardest thing.

Anyways, it's still in progress and so is the second round of kim chi, but I think I can start to go out on a limb and say Wild Fermentation is ace.