giovedì, dicembre 22, 2011

Petty cash and classy fuck yous

Busy as a lavatory attendant after a five-star chili eating contest today, but thought I would share this fine example of Australia folk art with you before getting on with my workload:

I can't remember if I've pointed it out before, but there is nothing in the world like visiting Shepparton to make me feel like the biggest snob in the world. And I really don't think I'm a big snob. But goddamn this place is trashy. The thing is it's pretty rich - there is a lot of money here - so while I've seen and have lived in places that are far rougher or more dangerous or more "backwards" in social and infrastructure sorts of senses, including my hometown, I have never, ever seen such a fucking trashy place as this.

The F-word has pointed out that I spend some time sounding like my grandmother here, which is probably true. My grandmother. I think I've mentioned her in the past. She's been on my mind for a few reasons lately, probably mainly because it's almost Christmas and while I like elements of the F-word's family that doesn't stop me from missing the hell out of even the prickliest members of mine at this time of year.

My grandmother's a depressive and not averse to turning her internal fury onto the people around her once in awhile. But you know what, some of the fucking trashtastic pettiness and squabbling I've been witnessing here has been making me appreciate even her sour, ragey side more.

I don't think I'm speaking out of turn if I tell you some of the trashtasm lately has been about wills and bequests and their use as emotional weapons. My grandmother, who's pushing 100, lost her power of attorney a few ministrokes back, but before that she went through a phase of threatening to cut everybody out of the will and leave her estate to charity, or a school, or something. Nobody was really bothered, though. I mean it was evident she was unhappy about something and everybody was sorry she was unhappy, but nobody minded too much that she wanted to write all of us out of her will at once.

I guess we're all reasonably solvent, and it's her money, and I supposed at the time that's why we could just shrug off the idea that she was pissed off enough at the world to chuck her family out of the will. Actually now I don't think that was why we could treat the idea with such equanamity, I think it was because it was ALL of us who were gonna be written out of the will. She was considering using that last message a dead person can send without supernatural aid to deliver a resounding "Fuck you!" to all of us at once, and that was okay somehow.

Because what she wasn't doing was choosing favourites. She wasn't being a fucking petty little prole counting over her pennies and deciding how to reward the faithful and chastise the indifferent, how to communicate degrees of love and distaste and disfavour from the other side of the grave; her last conscious gesture in this life wasn't going to be setting a cat among the pigeons over what would amount to a pissy little sum of money. No. It was just going to be a grand, big, and somehow vastly classier "fuck all y'all!" 

mercoledì, dicembre 21, 2011

How to tell you're (as in I'm) a shitty pinko

1. You make more money than a school teacher and you pay 13% tax

2. The phrase "That disgusting fat little fucking prole is a bad person for trying to make this all about dollars and cents" issues forth fully-formed from you, both mentally and verbally, and you still mean it

3. You had your own tuktuk driver in India

Oh please, hand me control of state funds and the military, I'm gonna make this all a big communist paradise, obviously. Fuck.

Speaking of proles. We just spent three days driving down from L___ to Victoria, camping and picnicing on the way, which was pleasant, in all but that I had to use a lot of public toilets. Which isn't strictly unpleasant, actually, since say whatever you want about Australian culture, and there's precious little to be said, but it does feature a great many public toilets, most of them quite clean, especially after a week in Delhi.

Anyways, I was using one in a small country town in the middle of NSW (we drive inland; it's a helluva lot prettier than the Pacific Highway, and zero traffic, even at this time of year), and sort of lining up for a really terrific poo (Lord love you, anonymous blogs), when suddenly three women burst in and starting puking really loudly, in the other two cubicles and in the sink. It actually put me off pooing, which I didn't know until then was possible. Here is the conversation they were having:

Girl 1:(Retch) Girl 2 (retch), can you come (retch) hold my hair back?

Girl 2: (Retch) No (retch).

Girl 3: What (retch) did all three of us (retch) eat?

Girl 1: (Retch) Dominos (retch)?

Girl 2: Chinese (retch)?

Girl 3: Well (retch) I don't know (retch) but Girl 1, you (retch) puked all down the side of my car. You're going to have to (retch) clean that off.

Girl 1: No (retch) way!

Girl 3: It's either that or you walk home.

Girl 1: Fine (retch). Get together some paper towels then (retch). Get lots.

Obviously I offered to get them help and wished them well but they all seemed pretty laid back about the situation. Also they were all the size of three of me, and I'm no lightweight, so I guessed they could all stand to sick a few meals. 

giovedì, dicembre 15, 2011

Being back is nice. I don't like people enough to like India. I was actually a little sorry to leave, as pointed out before, but then I got to Singapore, and suddenly there were no goats eating people's rickshaws or malnourished three year olds begging by the side of the road or tiny, bony women weighed down by cords of wood while their husbands walk ten paces in front of them, and I could breathe without choking.

It threw me into some strange conjectures and conclusions about how a fairly non-corrupt, efficient authoritarian government is a way better deal for citizens than a corrupt, inefficient democracy. There is no way anybody could pretend or argue that a Singaporean at the bottom of the social scale has less agency than an Indian at the bottom of the social scale, and I write that as someone who's aware of the problem of maid abuse in Singapore. It comes to an idea as fundamental as there being no agency, no self-determination, no control in hunger. I've never understood the thinking of anti-democratic pinkos and fascists so well. They have a point.

Yes, yes, I know, Singapore is tiny and India has 1.2 billion people in it. But that's sort of the point, isn't it? How the fuck are you supposed to run a country with any sort of useful centralized vision or plan or goal when there are 1.2 billion people in it? What is the point of a government governing 1.2 billion people that isn't deeply cynical on the part of the people doing the governing? The country's structure of government is based on the British exploition of the Mughal exploitation. It's fucked. A minority vote in a country like that could represent a group of people as big and as diverse as Europe. It's an even more fucked system than the idea that the US could somehow, theoretically be run in a representational fashion by two parties based on the east coast, because at least in the US the individual states are in a condition to do things besides fuck up and pocket bribes. 

So yes. I've never understood the thinking of anti-democratic pinkos and fascists so well, but I still do feel it's retarded. The problem isn't democracy, but the nature of the democracy. I feel myself as I age and see more stuff getting increasingly anti-federalist, and definitely increasingly feminist . . . but more on that when I'm not on my way to a BBQ.

martedì, dicembre 13, 2011

On the way out

Well, shit. It's my last night here and despite all my whining I think I'm going to miss the place a bit. As I predicted my attitude started changing as soon I started meeting people who weren't overentitled rich men. Mind you - a bit. I'm still reasonably happy to be going. It's just so fucking dusty; a scirocco that lasts weeks and weeks. And that's on top of the stink of the traffic, and the way this city feels like it must be suspended over a sea of poo. Every time there's a hole in the ground (be it a construction site or a sinkhole, of which there are many) or even just standing water, the smell of shit is overwhelming. I can't get used to it; I don't want to.

Also - and without changing the subject, since the phenomenon is down to proximity of the city water pipes to the city sewage pipes, I'm told - I'm getting to the point where I'd kill for a fucking salad. I've followed the rules - no tap water, no ice, no uncooked food - and avoided Delhi belly with success so far. And of course, the food being Indian, it's even been pleasant. But shit, what I wouldn't give for a nice rich salad with lots of cucumber and red pepper and baby spinach and olives and sundried tomato and maybe a bit of anchovy all mashed up into a fatty dressing. Well, actually I wouldn't pay any more than $10 for one. So I guess $10.01 and up is what I wouldn't give.

Yesterday was a funny day. I went to the Red Mosque, which left me pretty cold; it was nice, but making a particular effort to dress modestly and then being swathed about anyways by the attendants and realizing on the way out that they'd done so so that they could try to hit me up for a gratuity on the way out ground my gears. Also - same problem as in Europe. I couldn't look at that fantastically beautiful monument to faith without seeing vast fucking shitloads of money that could go to helping poor people being blown on expensive wonders to the glory of God who's already perfectly glorious on his or her own merits. The more jaw-dropping they are, the more they fucking piss me off. And the Red Mosque was jaw-dropping.

Then my tuktuk driver offered to show me the Sikh temple, and I was curious, especially as everywhere else he kept trying on insisting to take me was somewhere to shop, and as much as people may consider it the duty of Westerners to blow the maximum amount of money possible whilst visiting developing countries so as to encourage their economies, I was fucking done with shopping. I don't need any more fucking shit. Jeebus. Anyways. On the way we got stopped behind a Jain procession. Twice. The same procession, twice. I don't think I've had the most streetwise tuktuk driver in the world. Oh well, it was neat. But that left me a bit cold too. I'd met a shitload of rich Jains at the conferences and was feeling cynical. That's not fair, considering that the tenets of the religion are rather lovely, but my brain just wasn't feeling fair.

Being aware of my unfairness, I was sort of prepared to be a bit fucked off by the Sikh temple too, but I wasn't, I suppose because it was around lunchtime and they were doing that Sikh thing they do of giving free vegetarian meals to anybody who wants one. It was lovely.

So all that made me wonder a little bit - the Sikh temple was ornate as any Baroque church but it wasn't fucking me off like everything else does. While I was wandering around the Red Mosque I thought a little sadly that being all fucked off about everything was really getting in the way of appreciating beautiful things like I used to when I was a aesthetically overwhelmed chickie in my 20s, wandering around Europe in disbelief at what lovely things men had made. But then in the Sikh temple, I was touched in the way I had been as that aesthetically overwhelmed chickie in her twenties. I have to spend some time mulling all this shit over, I guess.

lunedì, dicembre 12, 2011

Well, now

Jessica, you fuckcake, stop buying books.You've only got two eyes, and no fucking time. You think you're still in school, chickie?

domenica, dicembre 11, 2011

It's like everyone's blogging out loud

Now that work has slowed down and I'm starting to have a little time to myself that isn't fucked by jetlag and not having to spend all my time with overcashedup businessmen, I'm enjoying being here more. People tell me New Delhi has a reputation for capital-city-type coldness and indifference, but I guess that is either starting from a much warmer cultural base than most places, or doesn't apply to foreigners, who even in the rich and business districts are in pretty short supply.

I'd say people gape and stare a lot more than they do in Shanghai. I'm enjoying children running up and giggling and asking me where I'm from (especially when they don't ask me for money) and then telling me all about themselves, and enjoying grown women doing similar things. The men don't do that, not with me, but I expect they would if I was a dude.  I'm also guessing if I was a dude it'd happen a lot more often, since the women who start talking to me are either by themselves or with one other woman, and there aren't actually that many women on the streets by themselves or with one other women. It's still visibly a man's world here. The place offends my feminist sensibilities even more than my pinko sensibilities.

But getting back to not whining. People just sort of start talking to you here, and then tell you all about themselves. It's nice. I guess that's why hippies and people like that like India so much. I don't know - I'll ask some hippies when I get back to L--- - their enjoyment of a place with such jaw-droppingly inquitous social divisions and brtual treatment of women is something I'm finding confusing at the moment. Anyways, handbrake on the whining. Yesterday a woman who runs an NGO that does slum visits and things did that - just started talking and telling me all about herself - and that was super-interesting. I guess those sorts of NGOs are a pretty big employer here. They even have one for the street dogs in most neighborhoods doing a capture-spay-release programme.

What tourists there are - the others staying at this B'n'B, the ones I see out and about doing stuff - seem pretty wrapped up in shopping. Well, things are unbelievably fucking cheap here, especially with the rupee having gone to poo earlier this year. I just wish I needed more stuff, but that's the price of being efficient and already having done most of the Christmas shopping, and not really giving much of a fuck about clothes.

I've gone to town on the bookstores, though. They are awesome, and they are cheap. Among the ten or so books I've picked up so far, for example, one is John Berger's The Success and Failure of Picasso which A) you'd never fucking find in an Australian bookstore and B) cost $8 instead of the $20 that the online retailers'd charge. I've never had a stop button when it comes to books so that is gonna be my contribution to the local economy. That and my tuktuk driver.

I'll admit it. The idea of e-readers makes me feel deeply melancholy. But that's a conflicted whine for another day.

sabato, dicembre 10, 2011

Getting off on the wrong socio-economic discourse level

You know what? So far, I don't like India. It's just not my cup of tea. But I'm pretty sure that's not India's fault - I think it has a lot to do with my introduction to it. If I had been introduced to France or Italy without being able to communicate meaningfully with anyone earning less than six figures I'd probably have found them pretty unlovable too.

Just about everybody I'm meeting (admittedly an economically rarefied group, as I'm here for work so they generally own or work high up in large businesses) who I'm capable of having a really involved conversation with, obviously in English, is demonstrably extremely comparatively rich. Everybody else I'm meeting doesn't speak much English at all. And the extremely comparatively rich ones have all the tedious reflexes towards the tedious justification of their own existence as extremely comparatively rich people that help make the extremely comparatively rich fucking tedious all over the world. So that's not exactly endearing the place to me.

I don't bring up the begging here in conversation, for example, nor the homelessness, the general scenes of human squalor right next to massive, ornate, guarded, barb-wired residential compounds, nor the malnourished children who aren't in school. I don't feel able as a first-world consumer who enjoys cheap textiles and medicine to editorialize on a phenomenon I believe my own buying habits support. No - the extremely comparatively rich Indians keep bringing all that shit up with me. And they use the same language to describe the discrepancies in destiny that the extremely comparatively rich all over the world use; the poor people are lazy, they're feckless drug abusers, that's the way they  prefer to live, there's plenty of work for the people who want it, panhandling is an industry, etc., etc.

I guess to some people hearing it, it'd sound like some sort of awesome mystical Eastern acceptance of the cycle of existence, because it's being said in an exotic accent in an ancient city where monkeys roam free and where Mahatma Gandhi snuffed it and where Monkey, Pigsy, Sandy and the monk Xuanzang walked to from China to get the sacred scrolls, but to me it just sounds like a bunch of Ayn Randian bullshit that'd sound right at home on the lips of some fucking cokehead Fox News fishbelly troglodyte. Ayn Rand's pretty big here, BTW. That's even grosser than the fact that when I blow my nose, the snot comes out black because the air here is so fucking filthy.

venerdì, dicembre 09, 2011

My very first person

So I have my own tuktuk driver, speaking of Westerners seduced by inexpensive personal services. I'm paying him at the same rate that Indians pay cabdrivers, as far as I can figure out, and tipping him like a drunk Canadian - which is exactly, precisely, the opposite of ironic - and that seems like enough to make him 'my' tuktuk driver. That means he waits for me outside offices and conferences and restaurants. He seems happy and I'm happy because he speaks pretty decent English - almost enough to chat, definitely enough to know what I'm saying when I say where I want to go.

Also he's Sikh, and for reasons I don't fully understand, I feel safe with Sikh guys. I think it's because somebody mentioned years and years and years ago, when I was very, very young and impressionable, that if you're a woman and you're ever getting hassled in India, you just find the nearest Sikh guy, who'll kick the shit out of the Hindus or Muslims who're hassling you, on principle alone. It's either that, or that single, lonely emotionally charged moment in that wasteland of a film The English Patient where the hot Sikh guy was washing his hair. 

I'm quite happy to pay the driver what a cabbie would get because tuktuks are better than cabs. A little crammed, but they're all open-air, and since you sort of have to let go of the idea of personal safety as soon as you're near a road here if you're in anything short of a tank, you might as well have something all open-air. Especially since there's not much air here. Shanghai is obviously a fucking mess of a place but it's close to the sea, and not so damn dusty, so this is the first time I've ever had the experience of the air catching at your lungs as you breathe it.

Another reason I reckon middle class European descendants and Nazis are so seduced by this place is that it feels pretty European. There's not much culture shock. Obviously there's some; I mean, realizing dying one day will be easier than I'd thought because as much as I like it, this plane of existence is pretty much a shithole for, like, 2 billion people, is somewhat shocking. But it's not really culture shock. Truth is, I feel like I'm more or less back in Europe here - it feels pretty much like Southern Italy with a fuckton more people, wild monkeys, and the relative populations of the middle class and the gypsies + refugees reversed. 

Anyways, I'm done pondering other people's reactions to this place for awhile. First I'm gonna sleep, and then tomorrow I'm gonna drive out to the Taj Mahal (not in a tuktuk) and have my own fucking middle class reactions.

giovedì, dicembre 08, 2011

Negatives and positives

You don't have to put me on suicide watch yet, but realized with a start this morning that having visited India will make it a little easier to die one day, because it's a fucking rotten world in a lot of ways. I suppose I can know that people are malnourished and even see videos of it and even do a graduate degree in international relations whose fundamental basis is that some countries are more malnourished than others and there are eventual consequences to that, etc., but when people are actually malnourished right there in front of me, and there's a lot of them, I suppose I understand what it means a little better. It means there's something really shitty about existence. By they way - I'm staying in one of the richest quarters of New Delhi and mostly just bouncing around between office districts - so basically, I haven't seen shit yet.

On a positive note, more than 50 hours in to the trip and I still don't have the shits. And now it's off to work for me.

Offended pinko sensibilities

Well, you know what, I'm just not comfortable with this place. It offends my pinko sensibilities. I'm starting to suspect two things:

1. That Nazis pretty much lifted the framework of their racial theories wholesale from here. There's something seductive about how things are arranged here, with some people locked into servile roles all their lives based on their ethnic background but not many people complaining too horribly hard - certainly no so hard that wealthier families aren't outnumbered by their male, live-in servants, nor so hard that things have changed a great deal in terms of this organization after 60 or so years of democracy. It would seem like some sort of arrangement of destiny to Europeans without a postmodern education.

I'm sure it must have had some sort of Romantic appeal to the kind of half-educated minds that could go all Nazi. I'm not calling India's prosperous Hindu classes Nazis, mind. Just that they provided a blueprint that stupid German cunts who could only read well enough to get totally the wrong idea out of Romance literature went to town with 80 or so years ago.

2. That European descendants who go all ga-ga over India are far more seduced than they'd prefer to admit to themselves by how cheap everything is, especially servile labour. Yes, it's really neat and picturesque how religion and its rituals is still such an overtly integral part of the culture here, but there is no way I'm believing a lot of those university profs and undergrads and whatnot I know that ended up on long-term yoga retreats here weren't very, VERY seduced by the way their shoes disappear and reappear spotlessly clean, or how they can always have a taxi waiting for them, or how they don't have to walk to get food, and shit like that.

You know what, it actually makes me hanker after China a bit - ugly, unseductive, unromantic China. You still have cheap domestic labour there, cheaper than seems right, but nothing like the same obvious inequalities as here, at least in Shanghai. For God's sake, I saw a fucking three year old begging on a busy cross-city avenue just now. He had to scramble to make it back to the curb when the light changed, and he almost wasn't tall enough to mount it. I mean, shit. What the fuck is seductive about the sort of culture that allows that, except that so many people here are so inescapably and eternally poor that middle-class Westerners can come here with their middle-class money and have a developing world experience that matter-of-factly offers luxuries they could never dream of at home?

martedì, dicembre 06, 2011

Blasé no more

I'm in New Delhi. You know, at this point, I thought I was getting more or less used to travelling and had got a little blasé. It turns out I was wrong. India has that effect on people, I suppose. I've never seen this degree of poverty, except among Italian gypsies and refugees there, and I've certainly never seen this degree of servility, and I've only been here about 9 hours, most of them asleep. Damn good breakfasts here, though.

I'm off to a beauty parlour in a few minutes, BTW, and pretty excited about it. Beauty parlours and restaurants are really the only two entrées I have to the life of a city when I'm there for such a short time, as on these business trips. I realized that the first time I tried to get waxed in Shanghai, where the almost hairless women in the parlour gave up trying to use that wax on my tough Italian fur, and just whipped out the straight razors instead. But I'm guessing Indians have hair a bit more along my lines. The hairiest men I've ever seen in my life were all Indian, so hopefully they'll have the technology to sculpt me a bit.

UPDATE: Indeed, this is the right country for Sasquatchettes to get themselves sorted. Top marks! Pits, eyebrows and moustache for the cripplingly high price of $3.50 ($3.97 with tip). A damn good job, and as painless as it can be, but threading makes me cry, which amused the salon mightily. "Your first time?" No ma'am. I'm just a big baby. Now that I've raised an appetite through excruciating if minimized pain in the name of beauty, I'm off to stuff my newly hairless face.

giovedì, dicembre 01, 2011

No need to nightmare alone

This has been doing the rounds and if you need a bit of unsettling I reccommend it. And now this one. Oh geez. Officially, I've never been more freaked out by comics. Maybe because I don't read them, but still, there you are.

mercoledì, novembre 30, 2011

Amour propre

This is getting ridiculous, but considering it probably has a pretty short shelf life, I'm going to enjoy it, and this is what I'm going to enjoy: fuck, I am a total peice of ass. I can hardly keep my hands off myself. It's all the running and Fitocracy and rope skipping and delicious subtropical fruit instead of Belgian chips and beer. I am just . . . so . . . hot.

That's awful to say, isn't it? But it's not that often people really enjoy the way they look, so I'm going to enjoy it. I'm sure in a few more weeks or even days I'll be back to thinking I'm really ugly and could stand to lose another 10 pounds, and in a few more years I'll be so swollen and damaged and exhausted with babies or just life that I won't even remember looking in a mirror and wanting to fuck myself more than almost anybody in the world. But for today, I'll just enjoy.

All the more remarkable as Romola has been here and she's been baking desserts and I've been eating them, a lot of them, probably enough calories to keep a small refugee camp going for a month. Holy SHIT, were they good. Here are two:

Zucchini chocolate muffins
Carrot cake with cream cheese icing

Even though Romola's visit rounded off two weeks of having houseguests and I'm happy to have my space back, as is the F-word, I'm still totally bummed out she's gone. She and Rodelinda hold a very special place in my heart, on their own and us as a unit of three, and Melbine and a few others hold the same sort of place; this place of having been my friend and my partner in silliness for almost half my life so far, and having the same sort of beginning-of-adulthood experiences.

I'd be lying if I said part of that wasn't the same beginning-of-intellectual-beingness experiences. Maybe that sounds like pretensions to intellectuality (sic?) that aren't appropriate, but there you are - our brains were trained in quite similar and I think largely positive ways. That undergrad degree helped knit some pretty lovely bonds. I don't know what subject I'd push my kids into, but I think I'll push them into something where their brains'll get a chance to develop in parallel with a bunch of other people in relative intimacy. Probably something where they have to share a dorm with their classmates. I think that's mostly what did the trick. Just as long as it's not the army or brothel school or something.

domenica, novembre 27, 2011

New houseguest this one, from undergrad this time, and it's substantially more relaxing. And it follows up a really, really nice city break in Brisbane to celebrate my birthday. What a wierd town that is. I guess it'd be more normal if we explored it more? I don't know. It seems too big for what it is. We kept ending up at South Bank, one of the most successful, if highly disturbing, civic embodiments of Star Trek I've ever seen - for the art gallery, for a showing of Pygmalion, for the modern art gallery - or else we were in New Farm, where the hotel was. And that seems to be all we bounce between when we go there, on the river, or else by foot.

Chinatown's a dead loss there. Where are all the Asians? I had been promised Asians. Oh well. We still managed Shanghaiese, Korean and Japanese cuisine within the three days, and the Shanghaiese cuisine was quite good. Yay for soup dumplings!

The modern art gallery was actually fucking great. I don't remember the last time I enjoyed an art gallery so much. Maybe because I finally found all the Asians there. I do talk in generalities so I will about art as well now; I find in terms of art peices created in the last five to ten years Chinese and Taiwanese art speaks to me more than white person art, probably because the art I see from there is intended to. It's intended to mean something to people besides the artist. Maybe in China and Taiwan itself the art scene is as full of self-obsessed wankers as the art firmament is here, but the stuff that makes it into Anglo galleries is awfully communicative. And the trip to the art gallery yesterday was a bit of a kick in the face, especially after spending so much time in L--- where any art up for sale anywhere is all fucking hippie wank. Well, at least they're putting themselves out there.

Anyways, this was awesome. This was awesome, and this was awesome. Although that last one is actually Australian. This was a real kick in the head, and so was this, though that last one is some sort of German. So it wasn't exclusively Asian charm, just heavily so.

mercoledì, novembre 23, 2011

DPJ will not be writing a book on graciousness anytime soon

We have houseguests at the moment, as I believe I mentioned, and it is a little odd. Living at the end of the world, of course when people come here they have to come for awhile, even though I think generally these sorts of things should top out at a week.

It's okay. It's practice for when there are kids in the house, I suppose, since I'm not taking any time off and had been studying for the Chinese exam - just a great deal of constant fluster, dealing with moods, and not having enough sex. But I think I'm gonna tell everyone who comes here to rent a car, from now on. It'd be one thing in a city, but the L--- region really needs a car to be appreciated with. Especially now that it's started raining, and will keep raining for the next three months, and neither the F-word nor I have time to hand-hold and babysit.

Well, okay. Maybe it's not okay. Reading that last paragraph over I guess I'm getting a little frazzled. The world's leading hostess, I am not. It doesn't help that it started raining yesterday and is likely to continue for the next three months.

But fuck it. I'm going to Delhi in two weeks, and Brisbane tomorrow, and looking forward to both changes of scene. We're also thinking about Angkor Wat or Tasmania for Christmas, now the the F-word's family doesn't seem likely to come here to celebrate. My preference is Angkor Wat, since I think Australian holidays should probably be reserved for when we have children and greater imperatives to travel places people and I can understand each other, which Australians and I can do, as long as I use shorter words than usual and they actually make the effort to incorporate some lipwork into their "speech" instead of just mumbling like sleeptalking drunks. 

Especially the case that I reckon we need to keep Australian vacations in reserve since there are exactly two places in Australia - Alice Springs and environs and Tasmania - that I have the least fucking interest in going to. Otherwise, I reckon we live in the prettiest part. Tasmania's pretty big, though. I reckon that'd need a good three or four visits to appreciate.

By the way, since I seem to be making it a habit to discuss other people's business on here and I feel like I'd be doing him an emotional disservice if I didn't mention it now; Squidsy is going for joint custody after all. That changes my perspective a lot. I reckon they're both still fuckups and it hardly makes things cleaner but at least he's stepping up as a parent instead of a pseudo-uncle.  I reckon I'm just going to delete all this shit about other people soon because as much as it bugs me it's not my lookout. But I feel it'd be doing him a disservice, albeit anonymously, albeit unknowingly, to not point that out now.

lunedì, novembre 14, 2011

Frustration: geopolitical and self-imposed

I'm starting to learn the perils and annoyances of being in a small town with a large circle of acquaintance. There are all sorts of expectations of side-taking and an obligation to be pretty nice most of the time, and it's really getting on my wick. I'm starting to suspect the city is the natural habitat of a misanthrope like me, the only place to find something like solitude, and I recall now the last time I tried to live in a small town, I ended up sneaking off to Paris in the middle of the night.

In particular, but not in isolation, the situation with Squidsy and his wife has been getting me down. They've both done unforgivable things to each other. The thing is, Squidsy's wife isn't talking about it all the damn time. . . I'd rather not get into the specifics of other people's lives, but suffice it to say he's done things that have probably hurt her comparably to her fucking off to Canada with their child. Going by an objective analysis, they're both fuckups. And if we lived in a big city, I could take my distance from both of them. Not here though. I guess it's a signal and unignorable cautionary tale for the F-word and I - that we have to make sure we can always believe whatever each other says. If we can do that, I think we can weather a lot, or at least not transmogrify into total shitheads.

In other news, I have my Mandarin exam in less than a week, and two visitors in that time, and I don't feel fucking ready. At all. Fuck. Fuck. Why I am I learning such a fucking hard language? Why not Spanish? I practically already speak Spanish. Or fucking German? Something fucking Indo-European, for fuck's sake? Why am I such a fucking retard? Fuck.

giovedì, novembre 10, 2011

Physical experiments in running

You know what's really good? When you make your morning smoothie with coconut water instead of milk. Holy shit.

I seem to have slipped back into the running routine, despite the heat. Just getting up earlier to do it, and tolerating being a lot hotter. I guess I really am addicted now. It's still mostly for the physical joy of it, and to hopefully make things a little easier on myself to squeeze out a baby, and to admire the birds, and things like that. But I also like how it makes me look. Today I got a "stunning . . . stunning" from a passing trans-sexual, who really actually was stunning and had obviously worked hard at being so. I'm choosing to believe she wasn't being sarcastic.

Not paying attention to my body for years, it's coming as some sort of revelation to me that when it's hot I need to drink more before I run or else I'll get a headache, and when I drink more before I run I need to pee more. Thank god for the seclusion and trees here, and the lack of poison ivy. I guess if I was living in one of the cities here, which had been a brief future possibility until the F-word found his snazzy new job in the area, it'd be a lot harder to pee al fresco. But along with shit food and reprehensible drinking habits, Australians have also inherited the British passion for public lavatories, so it all works out.

Speaking of cities, next week we're getting in visitors, three in two weeks, and part of that will be over my birthday, which we're gonna spend in Brisbane eating Asian food and being exposed to some sort of internationalist culture. Can't hardly wait.

mercoledì, novembre 09, 2011

Drinking through the heat

It's fucking HOT here. That's nice. Though I've been running a little less because it is really too fucking sweltering to get going by the time I get going these days. That's okay though. I think when I actually do get out and run I'm killing it twice as hard because of it being so fucking hot.

In the swelter a young woman's thoughts turn to cool and refreshing drink, and when she works unpredictable hours and is preparing for her fucking Madarin exams they cannot always be alcoholic, and so I'm drinking a whole range of things I've never drank a lot of before, never having lived so extendedly in such a sweltering place and never having had to put the same premium on sobriety.

1. Coconut water. Not from fresh coconuts, they don't sell those here. A friend of a friend at a market got a good supply line to some coconut plantations up in the for-realsies tropics (coconuts need seaside and constant heat so there are no plantations here, the winters do sometimes approach freezing at night) and started trying to sell them around L--- as they're sold in Chinatowns and other Asian-type neighborhoods all over the world, chilled and with a hole cut in them so you could drain the deliciousness with a straw. He stopped pretty fast because the main reaction he got from the market was "what're those?" This from a country that puts desiccated coconut in its fucking coffee, for fuck's sake. Now he runs a sausage stand. Sigh. Fucking Australia.

Anyways, there are no fresh coconuts here in any quantity, but luckily the supermarkets cater to the high Asian student population, even if no one else does, so I can buy pop cans of coconut water, which have no crap in them - just coconut water and sugar. It's a touch over-sweetened, and it's part of what is keeping me pleasantly padded despite hour-long runs and big kayaks and other sundry elements of my get-my-body-in-trim-so-I-can-try-to-avoid-pre-eclampsia-or-whatever-the-fuck fitness routine.

2. Iced tea. The shit you buy makes me want to retch. I know that's still the case because yesterday when I went out to my Mandarin tutorial I bought some and wanted to retch. But the last time I was in China, I picked up some fucking awesome tea, and was given some by ethnic Chinese colleagues not from China who wanted to show me how much better their tea is than Chinese tea, and surprise surprise, really good tea makes really good iced tea too.

Especially now that we have our own garden to flavour it with. It was last year's clementine glut that really got me going on the iced tea - cutting those fuckers up and dumping them in a pitcher with some lightly sweetened tea was a good way to get rid of them.

3. Kombucha. You could probably guess from the kimchi and ginger beer production that I'm sinking into the world of fermentation, and now I've found the easiest one of all. Particularly in this hot climate, which accelerates the kombucha's fermentation, so it's ready in four days instead of a week. I'm not much of a one for super-fizzy drinks, but the fizziness of the kombucha is just right -  dialled down a step or two from that disgusting sweet wine Italian teenagers and the British drink - Lambrusco? Is that it? - so it gives your palate a tiny tickle without going down any less smoothly.

The only problem with the kombucha is that the F-word is a total pig for it. I can see him controlling himself when he's drinking it but it's obvious he wants to sink the whole pitcher, and I know someday I'm gonna fucking come home and there'll be no fucking kombucha, I'm just WAITING for it. Like back when I used to not hide the reefer from him because I thought that as an adult he should be capable of self-control. I'm not so silly anymore but I can't hide the kombucha; when I pour it off I keep it in the fridge, and our fridge isn't big or dirty enough to hide things in.

martedì, novembre 08, 2011

Retro ranting

Some fucker of a friend of mine on Facebook put up a vid of Sheena Easton singing that fucking "9 to 5" song because they'd had a flashback to being a kid listening to the Minipops singing it. (Hey, fucker? I can't remember if I told you about this blog, or if you read it, but if it's yes and a yes, you fucking fucker, you have burnt my fucking balls with annoyance over this). Sometimes I worry that the kids these days are getting fed anti-feminist, overly-sexualized narratives and expectations in their pop music, and maybe they are, but I can't think of one more pernicious and disgusting than Sheena Easton's "9 to fucking 5".

Some bint stays at home in a state of zombiefied boredom while her wage-slave meal-ticket goes and pisses his life up the wall at some crappy job for some cunt somewhere controlling the means of production,  and then she only blossoms into something like existence after he commutes home, blows his salary on her material desires, and gives her a good fucking. As if, in real life, a man can consistently work a nine to five job, come home, and be in the mood for blowing his paltry salary on his woman and then maintaining a boner for anything like enough time to actually satisfy her physical needs. And as if, in real life, a woman can spend her days sitting around in a mingled state of utter boredom and high sexual tension without losing her fucking mind or, I don't know, actually going to find something to do that doesn't involve waiting for her nightly ration of pampering and cock.

Honestly, I have never fucking heard a more blantant combination of capitalist and anti-feminist propaganda, in song form or out of it. And then the fucking Minipops singing it. Oh, fuck. I mean adults are dumb enough to buy into that shit; how the fuck were children supposed to figure out that 9 to 5 jobs kill your emotional existence, let alone your sex life, and that women should do things besides waiting around to be spoiled and nailed by a meal-ticket to get some happiness out of life? The 9 to 5 dynamic is evil. It's repugnant. It's exploitative. In fact, it's everything Dolly Parton says it is, in her own, vastly, IMMEASURABLY superior "9 to 5".

PS I mean frankly I can't even fucking BELIEVE that both of these songs qualify as the same category of THING, the fucking Dolly Parton song is so much better that it shouldn't even be from the same planet as Sheena Fucking Easton's song. It seems utterly bizarre to be caught calling them both "songs". That is all.

lunedì, novembre 07, 2011

Carbe diem orbos

So the downside of the F-word being gainfully employed is that he can't come to India with me in December. Shit. It would have been so much funner with him. Oh well, I guess theoretically it will be a work trip anyways, and I should concentrate on working, confining my fun and shopping and exploring to the weekend.

I have a sense, though, of urgently having to carpe diem, and go to these weird new places now before we have babies, when we won't have the energy, money, or nerves to haul kiddies around the world too much, or at least not to places we haven't been to before and don't know the ropes of.  My experience of Asia remains confined to Shanghai and Singapore; I have a feeling that's like trying to get a sense of Europe through Newcastle and London (ergo est just not on).

How long do I have, I wonder. We just thought through the schedual for next year's magazine - there are four downtime weeks. I chose one in June so I could go to Europe to see the grandmother, if she's still alive. I didn't say I sort of hope I'm already in my third tremester by then. I didn't say it in part because I don't know if I am sure I sort of hope that. Life is so lovely right now without any kids in it. I wish our fucking birth control methods would just spontaneously fuck up and take the decision out of my hands. I don't have the mental equipment for it.

And I don't even nearly have the confidence to make it - to say, okay, now I'm going to start trying to do this to some poor, unsuspecting unborn spirit floating around in the ether waiting for its next crack at karma and the eventual escape from the cycle of existence. I don't want to be looking at my kid in ten, twenty, thirty years and be thinking, sorry, kid, you didn't deserve me; you should have been born to someone who wasn't a monumentally selfish lightfoot with a pottymouth and zero housekeeping skills. You deserved someone less opinionated, less mentally unstable, less misanthropic, less Dread Pirate Jessica, in short.

By the same token, in ten, twenty, thirty years, I'm even more petrified at the prospect of all of the things my children could have been but weren't because I didn't have them, and maybe they were born to some fat suburban reality-television watching cockwanks who didn't even read to them or take them anywhere nice for their holidays instead, and they're fucking miserable and spending all of their unconscious energy wishing they'd had a family like us. 

I'm also petrified of dying while they're still in their formative years. Sometimes inconveniently, I actually am religious in a recognizably Christian sense, and the idea of still having some sort of recognizably conscious existence and having to impotently watch the world fuck my child up after I'm dead just makes me want to vomit all over my computer. Holy fuck.

What a fucking world, man.

domenica, novembre 06, 2011

Let the record show . . .

. . . that November 6 was the first time it occurred to me that maybe we'd stay in Australia. You know. It's the summertime here. The F-word's all employed, and I'm incredibly overpaid. The birds are singing, we go to the beach a lot, the economy's tanking and I'm figuring out how to shop so things are feeling a tiny bit cheaper, I can still visit home for a couple of months at a time, and we have some really nice friends here . . .

I'm being cautious as hell with this feeling, mostly because the same practical objections exist to us living here permanently that were already in place before I felt this feeling, which by-the-by is a feeling I usually associate with my first month in a new place, not my eleventh, so it's weird. The main one is I can only be happy here while I'm incredibly overpaid and I don't know how long that will be the case. If I can stay incredibly overpaid here for the next five years, then we can start thinking about staying. If I don't, we have to leave. Simple as that. I don't think the odds are good of me staying incredibly overpaid for five years. Call me a pessimist. I don't even know if I'm going to keep feeling overpaid once we make babies.

Also, I suspect - and this is a case either of shocking paranoia or shocking egoism or both, and I'm glad I have a blog to voice it on - I suspect that our friends here, (besides Squidsy, all other couples), are on a charm offensive to get me to like it more here. Ever since I got back from Canada (during which time, the F-word told me, he'd let the cat out of the bag about our frustrations and our plans to move back to Europe eventually), they've been so damn nice. The men have been more courtly, even gently flirtatious, and the women have been so helpful and decent with kombucha starters and aloe plants and advice about reusable menstrual pads.

I understand they all have their own frustrations with the place, and many of them (they are all, by-the-by, either both non-Australians or melanges like us) have their own plans to leave eventually, if only for a few years. But I suspect the F-word in particular is a welcome ingredient in all these barbeques, etc., that we're having, and as another non-Australian who can talk about things besides reality television I'm welcome too, and that there aren't so very many of us, and now that they've got us they don't want us to leave again. Actually, I don't have a problem with that at all. Personally I'd be heartbroken if any of them left before I did. Even when Squidsy's wife did a runner, even though we didn't have much in common besides enjoying good food and abusing Australia, I was sad for days.

Speaking of Squidsy's wife and us not having much in common, I'd lent her a copy of La Cousine Bette before she left which she couldn't read because of the prose being too dense. Which reminds me to tell you that La Cousine Bette is fucking good read. Holy shit. What an awesome book. Balzac must have had some serious problems with the women in his life because they're all repellent or pitiable. There are one or two men in the book who aren't - maybe even just one - so I guess he had almost as many problems with the men. Holy shit. Such a brutal narrator. Like an entomologist with particularly good prose watching species of the most disgusting kind of insect. I bet he was a fucking joy to live with.

venerdì, novembre 04, 2011

Sweeping cultural generalizations: Australian/French Canadian edition

I'm doing better here. This past week has been the first time I've been able to emotionally realize that we're doing pretty well here; I'd been realizing it financially and whatnot before but this week is the first time I felt a little bit of contentment. Uncoincidentally, it was the week the F-word got a real job.

Still had an episode in the supermarket on Thursday, though, where tears actually came to my eyes. The other night I'd been chatting with some people about the relative merits of English supermarkets (they are public school types, orgasming over how lovely Waitrose is), and I realized at this point I'd be fucking excited to go to a Tesco. Not just in terms of the prices, but in terms of stuff that wasn't crap. Still, I'm getting better at using the farmers and their markets here, partly thanks to the F-word putting in his time at the falafel stall at all of them, and I would say we are eating really good food again now.

And we've got people here, ones who I actually like and like spending time with. Some of them are malcontents like us, most of them have children. It's actually good they have children because there'a a lot of adult talk I just can't tune into, so then I can start drawing or something with the kids. I'm enjoying it while I can. I'm told by all and sundry that when I have my own children, I won't give a fuck about anyone else's anymore.

One of the people we have here is Squidsy, whose wife did the runner with their boy. I feel for him, though not as much as I feel for the kid. And don't wholly not understand the wife, either. I see the impossibility of their situation and it's going to the courts, where it belongs when people can't communicate anymore when they need to.

But I do feel as though they had a massive hurdle to overcome on their way to communcation that tripped them up utterly. Australians are the most Anglo of Anglophones, at least that I've met so far, and that means settling annoyances or disturbances in the continuum with, at worst, passive aggression blossoming into violence or something close to it once a threshold's been crossed. In terms of settling differences through communication that's really not how the French do it - not any of them from anywhere I've met them.  At worst, it's a lot more nasty and high volume right away - skipping the passive aggression and jumping straight into the violent language (or flat-out violence sometimes; France at least has a pretty high rate of wife-clobbering); just usually not the same degree of violence as an Anglo who's really let things fester.

To Anglos the dynamic makes Francophones look like unstable bitches, and to Francophones I think the dynamic makes us look like we're utterly and provokingly emotionally uninvolved, right up until some seemingly arbitrary point, and sometimes the ensuing, unexpected explosion is frightening.

I've been thinking of Bluebird a lot in relation to this, mostly in terms of how relieved he seemed to get when I went ballistic on him, maybe five or six times over the course of our 3.5 year relationship. No matter what sort of fucking Nazi rally bloodboiling rage he was in, once he pushed me over the edge where I couldn't ignore his shit anymore - once I started stamping and yelling and and cursing and storming out the door - suddenly everything was sunshine again, and usually stayed that way for weeks or even months, and when Bluebird was sunshine he was lovely. I remember one of the reasons I decided to leave him was because of that, actually. I just didn't want to be with a man who was training me to be angry. Angry's fine; it's just not the sort of shit I want in my head every day, at least not against the person I'm fucking. Diff'rent strokes.

martedì, novembre 01, 2011

Real jobs and real chocolate milk

Two things. First, the F-word got a real job, which is awesome. He'd been making ends meet and pulling his weight financially in the household, but had had to, you know, hustle a bit. Not like rentboy hustle, like bustle-hustle. A few days here, a few hours there, a few days of hoop-jumping to get government money; that sort of thing. All quite precarious, stressful, and boring. Some of it was very lucrative, like the supply teaching, which is almost 3 Cs a day here, but that was the most stressful of all, since it was generally with country teenagers.

The least lucrative and the least stressful was working at a falafel stand at a series of local markets, of which there are a plethora in the neighboring towns. He quite enjoyed that, but the guy who runs the stall is the one whose Canadian wife left him with their son for Canada, hence he's shattered, and she'd been the one mostly running the stall, hence it's not really running like a well-oiled machine . . . hence the F-word was making minimum wage (which, admittedly, is really high in Australia; around $15, and that's on par with the US and Canadian dollar at the mo).

Considering our taste for holidays, expensive cheeses, and paying off our mortgage super fast so we can move back to Europe in style, his unpredictable schedual and lack of extra money has been frustrating for both of us. I guess there was also a lurking fear of me suddenly losing my job, too, and what we'd manage to pull out of our asses then. It's not a very realistic fear unless I go mental at the next conference I attend and start writing poetry on the walls with my own poo. But what if I really want to and feel I simply can't? No, I refuse to feel so stifled.

So that's all great, but what's even better is that it's a real job, by which I mean a good one - adult education, socially useful, with a non-profit instead of one of the cunt cowboy schools he and I have both had more than enough of, non-ridiculous commute AND, best of all, only two days a week, which means he has his mental space for art without having to waste his time hustling for short jobs, and for afternoon sex. He was getting to the point of wanting a job so bad I think he would have accepted one that wasn't real, in the sense of good. So I'm relieved. It is fucking difficult to live with artists when they're not artisting.

Also while in past conversations he's been fond of the idea of being a house-husband, when the possibility arose before him he couldn't do it. I understand. I couldn't be a housewife either. Not because of not feeling it'd be unfulfilling or whatever, but I just couldn't emotionally accept going down to only one income for two people in such a precarious world, which is his feeling, more or less. Maybe we'd feel differently about it if we both couldn't get real, in the sense of good, jobs, and our situations were either nothing or 50 hour weeks (I've done the 50 hour weeks; I'd rather do nothing). And maybe we'll feel differently when there are kids in the picture. Maybe we'll both want to stay home then even if we were still only working 16-20 hour weeks. Hard to say.

Anyways, the second thing. I've figured out the not-at-all-rocket-science of homemade chocolate milk. It's just like an iced latte; you mix together some sugar and cocoa in a few drops of hot water and then put in cold milk and ice. I can't believe I've been such a fucking shithead as to buy pre-packaged chocolate milk at the store like a fucking doofus for 32 years. Well, let's say 28 years, since 4 is the first time I remember agitating to be bought chocolate milk. That's 28 years of being a total shithead. Okay, let's say 24, because maybe my parents wouldn't have let me boil water unattended until I was 8 or something. 24 years of being a total shithead. Sometimes I fucking blush for myself. In the last year alone I must have blew about $100 from not having figured that shit out. And it's so much better, especially using that sort of cocoa with the superfine chili powder, so that it's a spicy chocolate milk. Try buying that shit in the store. You can't.

lunedì, ottobre 31, 2011

Parasites and prawns

So. Two things. First, I saw my accountant yesterday and discovered I'd saved more than four times as much as I needed to for my income taxes this year. That was mostly down to my paranoia and I had been pretty sure I was oversaving, but it was still good news. Thrilling news, in fact. But later, something was added to the thrill, as it dawned on me that the figure was really far too low. I ran a quick simulation to see what I'd have to pay if I was an employee instead of a contractor, and realized I would have had to pay twice as much - easily.

And that set me off, of course. I'd had an abstract understanding for some time that tax systems in the Anglo countries serve to wed the interests of the extremely rich to the - what would you call it? Entrepreneurial class?  Sounds too flattering . . . small business class? I'm not sure. I'm sure there's a real word for it somewhere.

In Australia I think it has the effect of sort of uniting the interests of everybody who owns a shop or service with cunts who are really, really rich - fixing things up so we pay very little tax. Which means we - the self-employed, the really really rich - are effectively being subsidized by proportionately higher taxes being paid by poor people and by employees. (Less so by poor people now because the tax-free threshold has just been tripled, this year, to north of $18,000, which is enough to live on, if not live on well in the cities - but of course raising that limit also benefits people making a lot more than $18,000).

I can see the arguments for it in terms of job creation but I think many small businesspeople are like me, with no or else very casual employees, and I can see an argument for it - a very theoretical one - in the breaks being offered for the self-employed to encourage them to get into something a little bit risky. But the thing is, in an Australian context being self-employed isn't really riskier than being an employee. This isn't Europe. Severance pay is poor, notice periods are short, and there's a perfectly adequate public healthcare system - from what I can figure out, all private coverage buys you in Australia is cups of tea when you're in hospital, where you'll still get taken care of by a public-system doctor if there's an emergency. The new mat leave scheme isn't something employers pay into, it's a government handout, and it's as available to the self-employed as it is to employees. Unless you as an individual or you as represented by a union (and unions catch MASSIVE fucking flack in the media here) can negotiate a really great contract with your employer (as does still happen, actually, since there's a labour shortage in so many fields in Australia), there's really no substantial benefit to being an employee.

There is one, actually, again in theory. Superannuation payments. Employers are required to contribute, I think, a figure representing 10% of their employee's base salary into a sort of retirement investment account - the sort of thing that's done in the US and Canada too, a replacement for a decent pension, and the reason why normal people's lives have got completely fucked up by financial markets over the last three years, and the reason why so many things suddenly seem "too big to fail" - if they do, an army of broke, angry pensioners will start voting Commie, or something. And of course nobody pays the self-employed superannuation benefits.

But the thing is, if I was an employee, there's no way by base pay would be this high. When I negotiated my contract, I asked for more money to make up for no super. And when jobs are advertised in my field and pay is mentioned, the super contributions are always part of the ad - you're expected to think of your pay as a combination of the two.

So. In conclusion. I've left the middle classes and joined the parasite classes. And I don't feel bad about it. Well, I do, but not bad enough to not keep the money.

Second thing. To celebrate me joining the parasite classes, we went for a run on the beach in Lennox Head last night, and then out for dinner to the Lennox Thai Garden. And shockingly, it was MARVELLOUS. I whine alot about the poor quality of rural Australian food, but there are three restaurants in L--- that are quite decent - I mustn't knock it too much. But this was the first time that we'd been outside of the big cities here that I'd had a meal where I actually felt that it was proportionately good to how fucking expensive it was. I had this sort of coconut soup and some king prawns in tamarind sauce, and everything was actually fresh - especially the king prawns - they were enormous and delicious. Good lord. I was really shocked. The idea of value for money when it comes to food is really something I didn't think I'd ever experience again in this fucking countryside. Top notch!

domenica, ottobre 30, 2011

Being bled

So I don't have many running mishaps anymore, in the sense that my body's got used to it to the degree of no longer being flatulent outside packed churches, and no more chafing. Yesterday, however, a funny thing happened. As I was running or before I set out - I'm not sure which - I scratched my back. Just a wee scratch, nothing serious. But I suppose because I was running and my blood was up, and because it was a hot day so I was sweating like a racehorse with rabies, it bled rather more than it should, and the blood spread rather more dramatically than it should. And I was wearing a white shirt, too. When I got home and took a gander at it, it was AWFUL. It looked - I don't know what it looked like. It looked like I'd been hurt, though. It looked like a television stabbing.

The funny thing was I hadn't been running somewhere secluded. I'd been running in a park that was crowded with dog walkers and other runners, or at least crowded by L--- standards. And out of the two dozen or so people I was, you know, within seven metres of as I ran, there was one - ONE - who pointed out that I was bleeding. Right at the end of my run. That doesn't seem normal too me.

The other funny thing, BTW, is that when he said that, not knowing, indeed, that I was bleeding, I immediately craned my neck to try to look at my ass in case it was the Red Dragon coming early, making him cry "No no no! Your back!" Sorry for the graphic reminder of menses, concerned man on the sidewalk. 

mercoledì, ottobre 26, 2011

Attention, readers with dicks

So yesterday I found out that from a former deep-sea commercial fisherman that deep-sea commercial fishermen consider it a rare treat to catch a small squid, tube it, microwave the tube for a few minutes, and then fuck the tube. Apparently it's all nice and warm and slimy. There you go. If you ever have a squid and nowhere better to put your dick, you can crack right into bestiality and necrophilia at the same time, and apparently it's really nice.

Sorry, but I just had to share that one. It's one of those things that when you hear it you can't just keep to yourself. It's like King Midas's hairdresser digging that hole and whispering "the king has the ears of an ass", except instead I've got a blog. 

Ahhh. That's better.

Free university

I'm back to enjoying Chinese instead of thinking that learning it is a horrible untenable burden I'm a fool to subject myself to, free university courses or not. In a complete lack of coincidence, it seems I enjoy it more when I have more time to focus on it and actually prepare for class instead of completely ballsing up every time the professor asks me something (which is a lot because there's only two people actually showing up these days) and, oh yeah, when I actually show up for class myself (which I haven't done in weeks due to travel, illness, time zone mix-ups, etc.).

A week ago I'd been toying with the idea of dropping out after this course but now I think I'll persist. I'm finding being back in L--- trying but one thing about this place is there's fuck all to do, which gives me time to run and work out and get back a tummy I haven't had since I was smoking a pack a day in the skinny part of Europe, and it also gives me time to learn Chinese, and once I breed I probably won't have time for either of those things no matter how culturally, erm, calm, I'm finding this place, so carpe diem, right?

Also, I guess I'm having a moment of appreciation for getting free university again. My parents paid for my undergrad. I just worked during the summers to pay off accommodation and stuff like that, but the key issue was that I didn't leave it with any debt and I didn't have to hold down a job and study at the same time, at least not extendedly - I switched majors and did a couple of courses in Toronto during my first summer while I was working, but I was 19 then and could do anything, except talk to boys. And then I did my masters in France, where the tuition was just a couple hundred dollars, and since it was a thesis masters there wasn't a shitload of classes and I managed to work at the same time with only a minor mental crisis or two. Working and writing the thesis at the same time - well, that really sucked.

But it gave me a bit of understanding of how unreasonable or evil the demands on Anglo-land students are now (and would have been in Canada back in the 90's too, including for me if I hadn't had supportive middle-class parents, even though tuition was thousands of dollars cheaper then).  Them leaving university with so much fucking debt, with years or decades of debt slavery ahead of them without even a paid-for house to show for it at the end of it, and being told by wankers "well, just hold down a job while you study", as if that was such a fucking simple proposition, and as if your average undergrad student could get a job that would pay even a fraction of its tuition after covering books and the other necessities of life that we all have to pay for once we don't live with our parents anymore. I mean, if they could make that much money, half of them probably wouldn't be going to university in the first place.

And the other fucking germ of genius I've heard spreading around is to study where you grew up - assumedly continuing to live with your parents - which is a bit of a kick in the arse for your parents, I suppose, and also suggests a misunderstanding of what university is about. I studied modern languages, general humanities, and international relations. Those are three things I couldn't have studied at my local university. Medical schools? Legal departments? Engineering? Teacher's college? I suppose all those people should just stay home in their shitty little podunk towns and study American Lit or forestry instead? Fucking hell, man.Why not just bring back feudalism while you're at it so we all know where we stand?

There's no misunderstanding of anything, though, of course. The transformation of aspirational students into fit young wage slaves is almost certainly a matter of policy. I've been spending a fair amount of time mulling over wage slavery, having signed up for six or seven years of wage slavery myself by buying this house, and putting myself into the situation where it'll be a minor disaster if I lose my job in the next three and a half years. Wage slavery seems to be a necessary condition for economic life as it's understood in Anglo-land, including Australia (noting, though, that this is a place where conditions for citizens going to university are actually pretty great; they haven't quite rolled back all of Gough Whitlam's good work here yet); it keeps salaries down for long hours without having to go to the political trouble of letting too many immigrants in.

It makes me quite bitter, you know. Now that there are all these great ways to grow food and make stuff, in the developed world - hell, in the whole world - we've never been so well equipped to be idle and to be able to pass most our time doing nice things, like learning things or making things or spending time with our families. And instead we live in a society where people work 40 hour weeks as a matter of course, and don't even know what they'd do with themselves if they were idle, and spend their free time watching reality television and fretting about angry young people having peaceful demonstrations about corporate greed and how their student loans are fucking up their lives forever, and other people live with famine and malnutrition.


Anyways, it's making me appreciate someone else (work) paying for my Chinese courses, which aren't expensive, this being Australia and students not being fucked up the ass here yet, but are still more expensive than I'd like to pay for myself. That was my point, several paragraphs ago.

domenica, ottobre 23, 2011

Record love-found-and-lost event of the summer

Oh Jesus. Today we drove to Lennox Head for a barefoot run on Seven Mile Beach (which was lovely, but that after running the Yamba to Angourie beach barefoot the day before after no barefoot running since August, and then walking around Lennox Head barefoot to get an ice cream, the bottom of my feet feel like I've been dancing on cheese graters; tomorrow'll be a kayaking-only day) and on the way there, there was this little retard dog running around the fucking highway sniffing up at cars going 100 km or more. We managed to pull over and the F-word called it over; I bundled it up and ran it over to our car.

The fucking moron dog. It was adorable. I mean, fucking adorable. It was the sort of dog I wouldn't buy in a million years because it was the epitome of everything disgusting about eugenicist practices - obviously some sort of lapdog spaniel type of thing, with beautiful melting chocolate eyes popping out in front a brain so fucking retarded and degraded from the wolf this moronic little thing had been bred down from that it thought it was a reasonable idea to run around the highway sniffing at speeding cars. Fucking brainless. It's fucking immoral and disgusting to breed an animal that fucking stupid. A sheep would have enough fucking sense to not run around a highway sniffing at cars.

In the dog's defence, I'm almost certain some cunt of an Australian dumped it. I mean, you could be the shit-dumbest thing on legs and you wouldn't go sniffing at speeding cars on a highway, right? Not chasing them like some dog that still had a bit of wolf in it; just being a fucking moron about them. I don't know, I don't know dogs, and I don't know how stupid they get. Pretty stupid, I guess. But the thing was that age - you know, where it's not the sort of adorable puppy you see on toilet paper advertisements anymore - and it was acting so expectant about the damn cars.

Anyways, this fucking moron dog was fucking adorable. I took it in the car and it just looked so excited and happy to be there. It was cuddly. Like, teddy-bear cuddly. I'm allergic to dogs so not prone to cuddling them, but this was a cuddly little motherfucker, and my brain was still echoing to panicking imagings of the little retard getting its brain squeezed out right in front of me, so I was just sitting there cuddling this adorable little retard. And you know what? For 20 seconds, we had a new dog. The F-word felt it too. But another lady, whose car was full of similar sort of spaniel dogs, pulled over and offered to take it to the vet to get its microchip checked, and basically take care of business. I could hardly not accept. My hives were already bubbling up and she looked so capable. So I brought it over to her car, popped it in, and that was the last of it.

I went back to our car and started crying like a baby. This afternoon I called all the vets in the area to see what had happened and also because I really didn't want to go on thinking the thing had been dumped. On such a busy highway, too, where there were quiet country roads around. I'm not saying there's a good and bad place to dump animals, but doing it on a busy highway instead of a quiet country road - you might as well drown the dumb fuck, or shoot it. Anyways, it hadn't been taken to any of the vets. I reckon it was some sort of fancy breed and the lady kept it. That's fine with me. Better the dumb little fuck is with a eugenicist than dead or in a pound. But I guess I'm still a little down. For 20 seconds that stupid little shit was my dog. And I loved it.

giovedì, ottobre 20, 2011

The toilet that is Brussels

Or black hole? I don't know. I do know 90% of the jobs advertised in my field are there. I guess the cheap cost of living - cheapest west of Germany, until you get into places like Portugal and Spain where they don't have enough trains - and the tax regime for expatriate workers has helped them sew it up. There are the odd jobs advertised in my field in warmer places. I saw one in Barcelona the other day and almost drew tears from myself, resisiting applying. The truth is I'm not looking for a job. I have a really splendid job. I mean, I'd be hard-pressed to think of how this job I have could be improved. I don't even really want a raise. And I'm going to India soon, for heaven's sake. It's an awesome job. It's just . . . Australia and I are really not bonding.

Malcontent is an ugly word, but it's me. I have a lot of ingredients for happiness here - splendid man, splendid job, some friends - more friends than a malcontent like me deserves, to be frank - nice house, big garden. And I'm not unhappy. I have been this last week I've been sick, because being sick here feels a bit entombing, especially coming off a two-month jag of being with my family, who cluster around and fill me full of pills and concern when I'm sick. Now I'm not unhappy. But I'm malcontented.

I think if my 30s have something to teach me - and I reckon they have a shitload to teach me - one of the things will be how to live well as a malcontent. A year ago today, when I was in Italy with the F-word and we were preparing to move here, I thought moving here would teach me to be contented; that when I had a huge paycheque, a nice house, fresh air and my best man by my side I'd stop being such a bloody little strop. Well, no. Now I'm accepting it's not outside factors that are going to content me. Being a bloody little strop is just who I am and I could be ensconsed in a fucking 50 foot statue made of gold and I'd still be a bloody little strop about it. 

I think I'm leaning towards returning to Europe for a couple of reasons, and these days the dominant one is certainly that Australia is too far away from my family. Europe's far too, yes I understand that, and I understand that with the life I've built for myself here I'm probably going to end up seeing more of my family than I ever did in Europe. But I can't tell you how unsettling it is to know I can't just pop home for the weekend if there's an emergency. Not because it's financially impractical, not because of the jet lag (though there's no arguing with that) - but I literally can't. The journey home is a minimum of 24 hours, if everything runs swimmingly, as it so rarely does. 24 hours is radically different from 8. My parents are getting old. The prospect of those extra 16 hours and what could happen in them just makes me want to vomit.

So there's that. There's also - okay. I haven't let go of the importance of externals. There's also just missing the piss out of Europe. During the F-word's and my time in Rome I think we were both already realizing that we'd confounded our utter impatience with Belgium with an utter impatience with Europe. Rome is dirty and uncomfortable and inconvenient like Belgium (though actually in those days I'd say it was rather cleaner, which surprised us) but people were so different, and rather warm. I don't want to move to Rome - the F-word would in a heartbeat but I won't raise Italian children - but I guess it was lovely and different enough that it was a reminder that getting sick of Europe is pretty much getting sick of life. It's all so strange and different.

Anyways. Blah blah blah. I have a lot to think about these days. And it's all thinking. We're not going anywhere for years. Except I'm going to India in December, that's pretty awesome, and we're planning trips to Cambodia and Bali soon. Yay! Why am I such a bloody little strop when life is so exciting?

lunedì, ottobre 17, 2011

Domestic worries

I won't complain about the 2011 Jane Eyre adaptation again. Not after nursing my flu through the 2006 miniseries. It was dire enough to make me feel like Comic Book Guy and I have no further comment. Luckily by the next day I was feeling clear enough in my head to read the book again and flush all that shit out of the loo of my brain.

Speaking of shit, I've been as sick as. That doesn't happen much anymore. In Belgium it seemed to happen pretty much monthly but I think moving to the subtropics clears up a lot of such complaints. But when it does happen here it kneecaps me, pretty much. This is the second time in the last year or so, the time before being when we first arrived in Australia. I guess long plane rides combined with the sinking "oh shit I'm on the wrong side of the fucking PLANET" feeling are a pretty good recipe for getting fucked up. I haven't been for a run in days, and of course when I did go I overdid it, despite knowing I was sickening. I'm a genius. Anyways, I'm feeling a lot better, and wondering if it was a coincidence that I only started feeling a lot better when I started doing such-and-such and eating such-and-such. When it comes to my own health I tend to be some sort of holistic nutritionist Italian farmer's wife, even while laughing at everyone who uses homeopaths and non-doctoral-advice. Ah, the sweet smell of hypocrisy.

In the interim, after getting his ass kicked by me the F-word has got some fucking contractors in, finally, to tell us what the score is with our kitchen. It looks as though it'll max out at $10,000 though I'm hoping for $7,000. Considering we argued an extra $10,000 off the cost of this place on the basis of the shitty kitchen I'm okay with that. Except I  wish it'd been done while I was in Canada. I'm really shocked by how attached I am to this project.

The fact is that while the kitchen is in such a state, we're tied to this house. We can't rent it out in this state, and we wouldn't turn a profit on the sale. And even though we have no solid plans to leave yet, that plays on my mind. It's not a question of feeling tied to the house exactly - I'm very fond of the house. I just need to know we can leave. I guess it's a question of being tied to L---. If I lose my job we have to go, which makes me simultaneously terrified of losing my job and rather eager to lose my job. The terrified part of that balance would, I think, be lightened if I knew we could rent the place out.

giovedì, ottobre 13, 2011

Not the good kind of chesty

New Jane Eyre? Ugh. It was nice to look at. I was with it all the way up until the end, actually; I mean, it was beautifully shot and sort of spooky enough that I could just ignore my fangirl reactionaryism any time they changed or skipped a line (to be fair it was one of the better "altered" scripts I've heard); it was a good and consistent vision of the book. Rochester being stripped of all his silliness wasn't the way I would have done it, but it did allow for things to be paced reasonably well, since his silliness takes up an awful lot of time.

But sheeeit. I know Michael Fassbender is really nice to look at himself, but giving him unseeing eyes and a beard is really not the same as chopping off one of his hands and cutting up that pretty face of his. What a bloody cop-out. Oh well. The film wasn't a waste of time and that's more than I can say for most such films. I'm going to try to sit through the BBC miniseries now, since I have a nasty flu and am not capable of much more than passive observation, which is making me feel really great about the Chinese test I'm gonna flunk tomorrow.

I usually deal with L--- pretty well but right now I'm bored enough to remember what it was like to be depressive. Since I'm running a temperature and have a nasty, chesty cough, there's a lot of things I just can't do - concentrate and run are two of them - and without them, there's fuck all to do in this shithole, since the F-word has taken the car to go working at some local markets, which cuts out the possibiities of driving somewhere, or having a nice mid-afternoon fuck.

It's times like this that I badly miss living in cities or other places you can actually enjoy having a little walk outside. And I don't think it's until today I've grasped the irony of that statement. But in small-town Australia, everything is far apart, and even if it wasn't, who gives a shit? It's all small-town shit, and ugly to boot. Usually I can keep busy with Chinese or exhaust myself with a run but at the moment neither's possible. I really have to give some serious consideration to how I'm gonna deal with being a heavily pregnant woman and a mother since the hormones, extra weight and exhaustion are probably gonna leave me feeling like this a lot. I think what'll do me is stopping the language courses and switching to history courses at Griffiths. History courses I could always manage, sick or well, high or sober.

martedì, ottobre 11, 2011

Ladyporn and 19th century domination

This looks like the ladyporn of all time. The fact of having a film version of Jane Eyre is always a minor event in Dread Pirate Jessica world, because of the importance that book has assumed for me (and my vocabulary) over the years - me and millions of others, which is why, I suppose, they always make new versions of it. I can practically recite the bloody thing backward so I get a pseudo-academic kick of seeing how film versions of it depart from my own internal vision of it.

I never expect to enjoy them as films or as a vision of the book. The book's unfilmable. Or rather it could be filmable as a 10-hour miniseries directed by David Lynch and starring ugly people, but you know who the audience for that would be? Me. I think the Charlotte Bronte and the David Lynch fans would be almost equally turned off. Which is one of the reasons I suppose it's never been done yet. Still, if I was a billionaire, I'd try really hard to persuade David Lynch to do it. I don't know another director who could communicate Jane's emotional life as it's communicated in the book.

Because the book is about Jane, of course. It's only about the romance and the melodrama as showcases for Jane's fucked-up brain, a brain that's only going to be able to really embrace the romance once Rochester's wings are viciously and painfully snipped; a Jane who only evinces signs of getting turned on when she's at least getting the illusion of control and equality - or domination - over her partner. Rochester's big sexy manliness, which has been much commented on, is I believe in part made so awfully big and so awfully sexy to show us the depths of Jane's happiness when she manages to fasten it to herself with a watch-chain, which by-the-by is a reversing motif Charlotte Bronte used to express possession between Jane and Rochester - I could cite pages but this is a blog and no-one is giving me credits.

Rochester didn't have to lose an eye and an arm in the fire when his wife offed herself to open the way for a legal and sexy reunion with Jane. Charlotte Bronte chose that for a reason, and for a very good one - because after so many hundreds of pages with Jane and her hallucinatory but strong internal monologues, the reader would understand almost as well as the writer that the only way someone like Jane was going to be happy with Rochester was with a tamed, dependent Rochester. It's actually all pretty psycho, when you think about it. Fuck, it's a good book. I really, really wish David Lynch would turn it into a miniseries.

Anyways, I don't expect the movie to be terrific, but it'll have Michael Fassbender emoting out Rochester's big sexy scenes, so it's gonna be hot. He's not ugly enough for me to think he'd do it in my David-Lynch-directed-miniseries-fantasy way, or indeed for me to imagine him acting out the Rochester who has become part of my brain from so many years - how many, nearly 20 now, of loving that book? - but that's not what ladyporn is about.

Ladyporn is about the odd times when it makes sense somehow that Mr. Darcy goes swimming in the middle of Pride and Prejudice so Elizabeth gets to see he's packing some heat under all those clothes, or when the director of the Great Escape chooses Charles Bronson to be having a shower during the inspection scene and not one of his skinny-ass little co-stars, or the scenes in the Nolan Batman movies where he's toplessly getting out of bed after a long night's fighting. Ladyporn is gratuitous. Usually it either comes in dribs and drabs or it's so poorly done I feel condescended to. But casting a man who looks like a Daniel Day Lewis who's got beat with the pretty stick, and who is actually, you know, good at acting - casting him as one of the most romantic Romantic heroes of all time, who's walking around with the biggest boner in 19th century literature - now, that is Ladyporn.

Lizards, rainbows and shit

Back in L---. The frogs are singing, the bats are flocking, the plants are burgeoning, the lizards are scuttling (besides myriad little ones, we have two giants hanging around - one sorta iguana-looking thing and a bluetongue. If they were rats I'd try to have them killed, but since they're lizards I'm really enchanted, which I think is less because lizards are cool and more because my disgust receptors have alerted my brain to the fact that lizards aren't very closely related to me so they're less likely to give me diseases) and the rainbows are arching. It's all rather idyllic and bizarrely tropical springy considering my body was preparing itself for winter last week (which confusion probably explains my cold), and if it wasn't full of Australians here (besides my Australian of course, who would have made a homecoming to a giant pile of shit to be shovelled a happy event) I guess I'd be pleased.

I do miss my family though. Particularly when I hear this song, which is a favourite with Luke Duke's kids, who I miss so very, very much. It's hard to be so far away from them, and from the rest of the clan. After two months there the main conclusion I'm coming up with is that even eight weeks gives me barely enough time to catch up with them, and makes me neglect my friends, and once a baby comes out of me the odds are excellent I won't have time to speak to anyone anymore who can't donate bone marrow, which isn't exactly a nice feeling - but I also suspect that would be largely the case even if we lived back home.

Watched a fuckton of movies on planes - must have been around 15 - and none of them were memorable, with the exception of the Darjeeling Limited (the others, of course, I don't remember). Bridesmaids was one of them. I guess I was expecting Shakespeare or something, having heard from enough people that it was awfully funny and somehow important in terms of women in the movies, or something. I did smile occasionally. Which is more than I usually do at American comedies. Now, though, I can't remember when it was I smiled. Oh well.

giovedì, ottobre 06, 2011

Canada with better weather

Flying out of Canada tonight. I've been spending a lot of time with my family; not quite enough, but the closest I've got to enough since 2007. Glad to be going on one level alone - on the level that I'm missing my old man something awful, and not just in the old in-out-in-out sense. And it'll be nice to have my own, "owned" environment back again, so I can start eating just what I want to (within the confines of what's available in fucking White White White rural Arseendoftheworldalia) and working and studying and playing and going places just as I want to.

But I'd rather be here. Even with the shitty weather. Back in the days when I was anticipating Australia being like Canada with better weather, I guess I should have clued into the fact a little more clearly that what I really wanted was, well, Canada, with better weather. Which is Vancouver.

But what can I say? If we moved here, as in Canada, the F-word would spend half the year whining about the cold and covered in hives, unless we moved literally here, as in Vancouver, in which case housing would be cripplingly expensive since everybody in China who can afford to is moving here, and that at a point where I'd lose about $30,000 of income from paying actual-developed-country income tax rates, which it turns out I just don't feel ready to do, for all my self-righteous pinko braying. So there you are. And here I go. Home again home again.

The F-word aside, who is really not helping since after not having had a two-month break from Australia he's gagging to leave it, there are some things in Australia I'm gonna love hitting that I'm gonna ponder hard for the next 24 hours or so to make this bitter pill of departure easier to swallow:

1. Running on the beach
2. Tropical weather
3. Awesome birds
4. The bits of tropical rainforest those fucking slack-jawed wastrel trogladytes haven't got around to hacking down yet
5. Cheap, accessible accredited adult education
6. Slightly cheaper alcohol than here
7. The big cities - lovely, delicious culinary outposts of Asia now
8. Our orchard
9. All my nice Le Parfait preserving jars

Well . . . blah. This two months has gone way too fucking fast and nothing's gonna change that. Oh well.

mercoledì, settembre 28, 2011

Please relax that asshole, ma'am

Had an actual sleepless night last night. I think it's been years since I had one of those that wasn't on purpose. It's from spending so much time with my mother, of course, more than I have in years. Lord love the woman, because I certainly do,  because she's a jewel among woman, but she worries, and it's infectious.

And of all the people in the world who don't have much to worry about, I must be in the upper hundred thousands. Her too. I mean, holy shit. I could stop working right now, as could my brothers, and she and the father already have, and we'd still know where our meals were coming from for a good forty years. But there you are. We both have depressive personalities, like her awful mother before her (her awful mother, by the way, has just turned a fairly spry 99; never overestimate the power of positive thinking), and when you're a depressive, you can be morbid about it or you can be an asshole about it or you can fucking worry.

Usually I choose the asshole method, especially since that course of psychoanalysis a few years back, before which I tended toward the morbid, which is just a variant of the asshole method. I'm my awful grandmother's awful grand-daughter, after all, and the asshole method is way, way better for the depressive than the worrying method. There's just too much guilt, stress, and - well - worry involved in the worrying method. But the worrying is really infectious. When someone else worries that much, one starts to wonder - well, why aren't I worrying too? Is this hubris? Are the gods about to strike me down? Well, shit.

And then one gets down to worrying.

For this sort of reason, I think the asshole method - as long as the asshole understands they're an asshole and tries not to go apeshit with it - is actually preferable to the worrying method for the people around the depressive. I'd rather be stuck on a desert island with another asshole than a worrier. At least you can have fun playing with assholes. Yeah, I said it. God, I miss my old man. Just another week or so.

giovedì, settembre 22, 2011

Life without kitchens

So did you know that in Singapore and Hong Kong a lot of the apartments are built without kitchens? When I was told that I was too busy scraping my woppy jaw off the floor to make rational inquiries like whether or not the classic Parisian “coin-cuisine” counted as a kitchen or not in terms of my interlocutor’s standards. Because if they don’t (and really, as far as I’m concerned, they don’t; the only person I’ve ever met who made a coin-cuisine work was Portuguese, and we all know they’re the MacGyvers of Europe) then half of urban Europe doesn’t have a kitchen either.

But then I went to Singapore and traveled elsewhere in Asia where space is expensive and labor is cheap, and understood that a life where you ate and drank everything except ramen noodles out of a shop could still potentially be a life. Not my life, mind you. There have been periods of – let’s call it “violent self-actualization” - when, if I hadn’t been cooking, I probably would have somehow left this life either literally or figuratively. When I imagine a me who doesn't cook, I just get this vertiginous vision of bobbing off into the ether like an untethered balloon. As tedious as something like, say, clementine marmalade is to make, there’s a special significance in that tedium for someone like me, who does too much living in her nerves. I hesitate to use “earthy” words because my clementine marmalade is out of this world, but there is something grounding about coaxing some raw ingredients into a marvelous symphony of deliciousness over a period of several hours or several days. You wouldn't believe what I can do with tapioca now, of all things.

But not having a kitchen could be a life – but only if you had enough Asians around. For some it’s THE life, and not only in Asia. There is a Cantonese branch to my family tree, the older members of which have a lovely big house with a lovely big kitchen in a lovely Toronto neighborhood, where they don’t cook a damn thing. Instead – and since they have the disposable income to manage it, let me make it clear this is a choice I whole-heartedly applaud – instead they eat at this place. Even better, they bring me with them. Lai Wah Heen is the first place I had lobster dim sum, and the first place I had Peking Duck. It’s the first place outside of China that I had sea cucumber. And it’s the first place I’ve been to that made darling little dim sums that looked like piggies. Their dim sum chef is specially qualified in making life-like dim sum. This restaurant is so awesome; I’m not a frightfully materially conscious human being and as stated probably wouldn’t have much of a life without cooking in it, but I think Lai Wah Heen and the possibility of eating there all the time is probably quite a good reason, in my books, for seeking to be stinking rich.

Anyhoo. If you're ever stuck in downtown Toronto with an expense account, now you know where to go.