mercoledì, novembre 17, 2010

Conspicuous consumption

So for a variety of excellent reasons we're not letting on to people here about how much I'm making at my job. When the F-word pointed out the non-disclosure would be necessary I admit shrugging a little, because who goes around talking about how much they make anyways? Besides pricks, and while I'm a prick in many ways, that isn't one of the ways. But I've realized that's going to be harder than I thought.

Case in point: I am going to buy this fucking gorgeous sewing machine today. The Bernina Bernette 82e, the nicest mechanical machine I can afford, worth around $400, which is (in my head at least, because not having the brain for math I like to pretend 1 euro = 1 A$, which also stops me from spending too much money) four times as much as I spent on my last sewing machine, which I sold on my way out of Europe for half of what I paid for it.

Fine, right? I'm all excited and happy about it, and quite proud of myself for overcoming my extreme hesitancy to spend any money on myself. I accepted a good fifteen minutes of consumerist pep talk from the F-word - normally even tighter than myself - about how I could afford four of these things if I wanted, how I needed a machine anyways and would have to buy a nice-ish one sooner or later, how I'd proven to myself I was going to use it by using the shit out of that Singer until things went apeshit when M disappeared, how I deserved to reward myself after all the shit I've been through over the last 14 months - and when the F-word starts saying shit like that I believe him because he never says shit like that.

Here's the problem. When I went into the sewing shop yesterday, it was on a tip from someone in the F-word's family about how there was a big sale on Janomes and how I could pick up a basic machine for $100. I couldn't, actually, none in stock, but there was a big sale on Janomes, and I could have picked up a machine for less than half of what I'm going to pay for this one today. Now, we reckon this member of the F-word's family gave us this tip on the basis that she reckons I don't have a lot of money. So when we tell her that I just spent four times what she was expecting me to spend on the new machine, what is she going to think?

I've never had in-laws before, you know, certainly never Italian ones. Less than two weeks in, and I'm already concerned about what she is going to think. For heaven's sake. With the extended family, I think I'll just build an image of myself - since we'll be living in another state, it shouldn't be hard to maintain - as a naive and recreational shopper who has no idea how to handle money. Probably less trouble than the alternative.

lunedì, novembre 15, 2010

Week two in Australia and so far I have to say I love it, though I'm relieved we won't be settling in the town where we are at present. Too many of the wrong kind of farmers. Today we bought a car, my first car ever, a 1996 Hyundai station wagon that we have re-christened the Shitneedle - and it was painless. Registered for Medicare, got a bank account, tax file number, all painless. Belgium is already starting to seem dreamllike and impossible; yesterday we got a passel of bitchy mail from a bunch of institutional morons there, and it was like the final scene of Carrie, except that I don't give a shit. Fuck 'em. May the cunts rot.

The birds here are mind-blowing and sometimes - since the spring weather is temperate, and many of the trees are European, and culturally the place is like England and Canada made a baby together - the birds are the only thing reminding me that I'm on the other side of the planet from where I've generally been. It's a shocking case of convergent evolution that kookaburras and I came to be on completely different continental landmasses but that I still sound like them when I climax.

So I'm happy but I have to admit to the occasional wave of absolutely crushing homesickness. That isn't something that ever happened to me in Europe, or at least not since I was 19 or 20 or so. And I think it has more behind it than simply the vastness of the distance seperating me from my family, which is what I'm really homesick for (although when I was talking to Luke Duke the other day and he told me that Toronto was getting the first little knife-like gusts of snow blowing through the air I did get a knifey sort of pang). After all, neither Europe nor Australia is exactly walking distance back home, and now that I've joined the overpaid classes the tickets back are not prohibitive in either case. I think what's more at issue is that my brain is understanding that I'm going to stay in this place - something it never had to consider in Belgium - and that this place is already so much like home, but it doesn't have my family in it.

Oh well. When the waves come I accept them, and remember that it would be a thousand times worse to have a family I wouldn't miss.