lunedì, dicembre 31, 2012

Nose to the lovely, lovely grindstone

So I'm back at work after just six weeks off, one of them when I was still just a big belly instead of a mum. It's not too bad, so far. We're going to have to see how we manage. I love my job, which helps, and it's easy, which helps, and it's from home, which is indispensable, as Godzilla is boob-only until May or so.

I love my job a little more than usual today because I treated myself to a subscription to the Economist a couple of weeks ago, so as to have a magazine to read while breastfeeding - I'm managing books and in fact my attention is quite manipulated by the shockingly good Wolf Hall, a Christmas present, at the moment, but magazines are easier for those hands-are-busy, grizzly times. Since I'm a student it was much cheaper than usual - is that normal for these sorts of subscriptions, that they still cut deals for students? - and when I told my boss about it he told me to invoice the company for it. Alright then, please and thank you.

And then being a contractor I get to write it off, and write off all the money theory books by heterodox economists and anarchists that I'm so fond of. I think I'm extremely lucky to have such boring tastes. But then my self-regarding cockroach brain tells me that if I liked porn better than economics I'd find a way to be able to get that for free or write it off.

Slightly more stressful, though I'm looking forward to it very much, is my mother getting here for a month or so on Sunday. I have to do some things to get ready for that, and I have to do them, or nag the F-word to do them, which is almost as much trouble, as our housecleaner is still on holiday. Mum thinks she's coming to help, of course, which would include cleaning and all the stuff that needs doing that I'm going to do, but she'll be forbidden; after the medical emergency immediately following Godzilla's conception back in February I'm going to try to restrict her role to conversational/ornamental/cuddling the baby. She's flying through Auckland to get here so in my estimation an 18 hour plane ride is quite enough exertion, please and thank you.

giovedì, dicembre 27, 2012


Holy shit. I got eight hours of sleep last night. I'd forgotten how terrific that feels. Not in a row, mind, but this past week or so Godzilla seems to be experimenting with the idea that night time is for sleeping, and only occasionally waking up to suckle. I'm not counting on it lasting of course, but motherfuck, do I feel awesome today. For the moment, feeling human today aside, all this parenthood jazz is more or less agreeing with me, though less sleep is, I've noticed, fraying my temper. He's just so lovely. I can imagine this being very, very different if he was colicky - if his nature was different - but it isn't, so there you are.

What I'm finding observationally interesting about myself is that I've forgotten labour to the point where I can now think, to the point of planning, about doing this again. My memories of labour, up until the point where I was tearing myself open pushing Godzilla out and then staring at him, are more or less memories of memories, particularly when it comes to the pain. That's amazing to me - what a terrific capacity we have for forgetting pain - because directly afterwards, even though everything was awesome as soon as he was out (probably the main advantage to a natural birth, though one I hadn't fully appreciated before the fact), I was pretty sure I'd never fucking well do that again, given the choice.

I mean, that first night, although experiencing beautiful emotions I'd never felt before, I started thinking through the modalities of adoption, probably from China, where I think I'd be a decent candidate due to the language and trips and work associations and whatnot. Now, I'm thinking I can do this again. Maybe in two years, when I can get my body back up to scratch. I'm still loose-jointed, easily tired and fat, though my BP came back to normal pretty fast and I'm off medication.

My fatness is interesting too. It's not a LARGE fatness. It was, at first, but after almost six weeks of Godzilla sucking me dry I've shrank quite a lot - not much bigger than usual - but so soft with it. Wobbly, sort of. And my stomach is like an underinflated waterbed. Luckily no stretch marks. I guess I can thank the Mediterranean skin for that. Or maybe all the coconut butter. Dietary fat, possibly. Who knows. What a lot of trial and error all this crap is.

martedì, dicembre 18, 2012


This is Godzilla's favourite lullaby, which is nice, but gives me some pause, because I suspect it's slightly less about pinko themes than poor Victor Jara's usual songs are and is actually about smoking a cigarette after getting laid. What sort of heartbreaker have I let loose on the world?

At least it's beautiful. And at least when I forget the Spanish lyrics it has that nice simplicity of a lullaby that lets you invent your own lyrics without really thinking about it, a la "I was rocking my darling son, wishing he'd go the fuck to sleep, the phone rang off the hook, while the oven went beep beep, ay ay ay, etc".

Victor Jara and Caetano Veloso are both rich sources of lullabies. Not that Godzilla needs them at the moment. He's a pretty placid kid so far. But he seems to like listening to them, and I like listening to them, or singing them, depending on the circumstances. He likes this one too, but what cunt doesn't?

 I should just look up Spanish songs with "ai ai ai" lyrics.

domenica, dicembre 16, 2012

Excuse me while I disinfect this guy

I'd understood there is a lot of contention among parents and anti-vaccination advocates about the standard vaccination schedual for infants in most countries. It was contention I was more or less prepared to ignore.

I mean, I understand there is a risk of damage with vaccinations, which is why a few families have collected major civil awards in the US when their kids got fucked up by them, and I can give credence to the idea that most children are over-vaccinated on most normal scheduals because there's an unhealthy financial relationship between most public health services and pharmaceutical companies. Sounds like a likely story. I also understand vaccinations don't equal immunization, given that I've been vaccinated on schedual and have been tested and am immune to NOTHING - my immune system showing a disdain I can't help but admire. "You're bothering me with dead pathogens? Sister, please. Talk to me when you've got real problems."

But given Godzilla will be doing a lot of travelling starting soon - given he won't be spending all his time in this isolated little podunk town while his immune system matures - and given that I think vaccinations are a social responsibility in a crowded and transitable world - I don't have many second thoughts about him getting his jabs on schedual, the poor mite. Of course I'm worried something will go wrong a la lawsuits, and of course I've heard the horror stories about children crying for days after the jabs, and I don't buy that old chestnut that infants don't feel pain, but I'm not as worried about these things as I would be about him sitting on an airplane for 14 hours at eight months of age while hundreds of possibly filthy individuals get thier breath recycled all over him and his unvaccinated immune system. 

And not, it turns out, as worried as I would be if he hadn't had any vaccinations and was just hanging around this podunk town where it turns out our entire circle of friends has declined to have their children vaccinated against anything. This came out at a Christmas party this weekend to which I'd taken Godzilla and I was so glad I'd been too busy breastfeeding him through a growth spurt to let other people have even a modicum of success in their constant efforts to manhandle him and his cuteness. No wonder everybody gets whooping cough here every winter. Fucking hippies. They have it done homeopathically, apparently. That's where they lose me altogether. I can buy into an unhealthy financial relationship between government and pharma with more alacrity than the most paranoid hippie but the point where homeopathy becomes a viable alternative is where I step off the crazy train.

giovedì, dicembre 13, 2012


New lessons from motherhood: breastmilk is delicious. At least mine is. Tastes downright sugary, like a super-delicious creamy melon thing. No wonder the Godzilla goes nuts for it.

Thinking a lot about fatherhood recently, probably because of being a mother and having a nice father for the Godzilla. And realizing the degree to which I as a mother in a welfare state am supported, and the degree to which the F-word as a father isn't. The "parental leave" is meant to be transferrable - meaning both parents can assume the "primary" role in theory. In practice, the fucking noobs he spoke to at Centrelink didn't think it was possible and were shocked when he could point them to the literature, plain as day on their website, explaining it was. Also in practice, the paid leave needs to be taken in a block - I believe that's exceptional - in most of Europe it can be taken in the first three years of the kid's life - which is another obstacle to sharing it out as BOTH parents need it.

And as I deal with public health nurses and parenting groups - ah. Cabin fever and a degree of loneliness as my besties in Canada and Europe breed and remind me of our isolation here, I've had to stop going. It is fucking disgusting - I can't stand these great big hormonal clusterfucks of gender exclusivity, male or female. I mean there are no men at the parenting groups here. Just great flocks of women. I suppose partly because they're all during the day and the men can't get leave and so many women here don't work, but if I was a man and wandered into one of those things, I would be so miserably uncomfortable.

The first parenting group I went to, they gave me three publications: a magazine featuring a kazillion local retailers where I could buy baby crap, a soft'n'cuddly book about the first three years of life, and 'something for your husband' - a fucking,  a fucking manual about babies, done in the style of a car manual, ergo est breastmilk = "fuel", diapers being "under the hood", and lines like

"To make enough breast milk, mum needs rest, sleep and food. Your help is vital. Cooking, cleaning, answering the phone, entertaining guests, shopping, doing the laundry and dishes, along with all the things you did before, are a few small things that will keep the breast milk flowing."

Now I understand that a lot of you love truncheon monkies out there are pretty unreconstructed, but how the fuck is this sort of talking down to men like they're fundamentally useless plonkers supposed to be good for anybody? And I write this from Australia, where men do run toward the "fundamentally useless plonker" end of the range with astonishing regularity in families where they aren't relegated to the role of hands-off primary breadwinner.

Anyways, I don't have enough sleep to launch into a real rant about masculinity in Australia but I just wanted to point out that attentive fathers have suddenly become devastatingly sexy to me, possibly because the love of my life has just become one and my hormones haven't betrayed us. Consider this Baby Bjorn demonstration video, that I watched after buying one the other day to make sure I knew how to use it.

The "product developer" in it is an absolutely bog-standard looking Swedish male (alright, bog standard in Sweden is a few steps up from bog standard in many other places, but nonetheless, he's not that hot Swedish guy from that show about vampires that's got the little girl from The Piano in it.)  But because he's handling infants tenderly without breaking them, I just think he's marvellous.

Also I've taken to watching documentaries to pass the time while Godzilla is feeding, and I saw this one, which was interesting in bits.

mercoledì, dicembre 12, 2012

The politics of the bosom

Godzilla was up all night again, attacking my bosom. Another growth spurt is due, so that's fine, and I got in enough sleep early in the morning to feel reasonably human now. I keep reminding us that this period is probably the worst period it's going to be sleep-wise, until or unless we have a second child, who could possibly be colicky (Godzilla is coming up to a month with no danger signs so I think in his case I'm starting to count my chickens, and say he is not a colicky child), and whose needs as an infant will overlap with Godzilla's needs as a toddler. Another reason to move to Europe for the next one - it'll be easier to persuade some family to come out to help out.

I'm tickled pink breastfeeding is going so well and that the behemoth is thriving on the bosom, but I've decided to forever give up on being judgey about women who don't do it. The health benefits of breastfeeding are demonstrated and unignorable, and formula is pretty gross. But breastfeeding is hard. It's tiring in terms of the waking for feeding, it's tiring in terms of the milk production, it hurts until you get it right, and it's all down to the mum. If she's not well supported by her spouse, like I am - if she doesn't have good guidance in the beginning, like I did - if she doesn't have a flexible enough schedual in terms of how she makes her money, like I've got - how the fuck is she supposed to do this?

All my Chinese colleagues breastfed, despite working crazy long hours and having retardedly horrible commutes. For a full year, at that - that seems to be the magic number there. That involved a LOT of pumping. I admire their dedication but the fact that a year is so much the norm there was something helpful for them, no doubt - nobody would be giving them funny looks for stepping out for half an hour at a time to drain their ladies, or storing the milk in the communal fridge, etc.

Bottom line, this is not easy, not at all easy. It needs a lot more support than I'd understood. All women should have the opportunity to do it for at least the six months it's been conclusively demonstrated that there are huge benefits to mother and child in terms of full-time, exclusive breastfeeding, but what that means in effect is that all jurisdictions need to be providing at least six months of maternity leave at full pay and with job security, which is the case in so few countries I think I could count them on my fingers.

And the marginalization of fatherhood, both in terms of leave opportunities and in terms of the infantilization of men . . . well, that's probably a blog post for another day, as Godzilla is stirring and my bosom is preparing for the next onslaught. But Australia being the fucking cemetery of masculinity as a useful concept that it is, I've been coming across some doozies that I'm bursting to rant about.

lunedì, dicembre 10, 2012

Night of the living shithead

He's back. I knew he'd be back, by the nature of his departure. Sex and financial scandals permanently disgracing an Italian? Please. 60% of the population of that damn peninsula finds those sorts of scandals fucking aspirational. I knew he'd draw out the court cases, I knew he'd position himself as anti-German and anti-austerity. And I'm quite sure it will work. Let's see.

Call me a cockroach but I'm fiddling a bit here while Europe burns. Our schedual has moved up and I'm hoping for a euro circling the bottom of the crapper just before we move back in a couple of years, before the world realizes Australia is an unstable open pit mine and the ass falls out of the dollar. Just hoping that a decent education system will cling on in the part we're moving to, and that the part we're moving to doesn't attract too many desperate economic migrants. Lots of unknowns in this world. One of them isn't that the only way to get Berlusconi out of politics is to get him out of Italy.

Oh well. Back to staring at Godzilla. Motherhood is such a crazy emotional and intellectual experience. Today one of the many things it's taught me is that if you want to encapsulate your own placenta, it's probably one of those things that even a frugal householder should consider outsourcing for a few hundred bucks. That was easily the most disgusting experience of my life. I had a feeling it would be, so I'd been putting it off, and had to do it today when the F-word accidentally left the chest freezer unplugged overnight - couldn't let that thing go off - not when my Chinese medicine doctor told me what it'd be worth on the open market. So now it's dehydrating, preparing to be encapsulated, after having been steamed with some ginger and pepper and pureed.

And I'm not a squeamish person, but holy fuck. I've realized I'll never be able to murder anybody, no matter to what depths of moral depravity I may one day sink, because that was just so eeeeeurgh even though (or perhaps because?) it belonged to me and I don't need it anymore. Actually I think the really gross thing was reckoning it belonged to Godzilla as well as me. But it's not as though I could wait until he reached the age of reason to ask what he wanted to do with it. The worst was looking at the wee umbilical cord and realizing it was probably his first plaything in the womb - babies do play with them, apparently. But again it's not as though I could save it for a rainy day, and there aren't any cord blood banks here, which I suspect are a massive fucking scam anyways.

Anyways, that's my advice to prospective placentophages out there. Outsource, outsource, outsource.

lunedì, dicembre 03, 2012

What's in a name?

So far, several months of negotiations and second thoughts. And, as a friend of ours pointed out this weekend in one of those sudden, shocking moments where you get to observe someone else's sadness, self-knowledge and tolerated chronic misery, the F-word and I "are one of those couples who like each other." Imagine how it goes for the ones who don't.

Anyways, I think we're more or less there now. The first name we agreed on months ago, when we found out his sex, without much problem. The middle name was harder because I wanted a hyphenated last name. Well, I didn't really, I wanted Godzilla to have MY last name, and so did the F-word, and a hyphenated last name seemed like the only option. The F-word and I both have epic last names, so having a middle name would have left Godzilla with an epic all-round name.

But I've been questioning why I'd by so keen on him having my name; as a feminist gesture, it just shows the ongoing ownership of my father instead of the new ownership of my old man, and if I wanted a real feminist gesture I'd at least go for my mother's maiden name, which I don't want to, because it's one of those uber-twee Yorkshire last names that wouldn't be twee only in the context of some sort of Wuthering Heights arm-up-your-cow's-vagina-delivering-her-young-on-a-windswept-moor scenario. The Industrial Revolution and land clearances ruined a lot of names up there.

So anyways, now I've got my way on the middle name and I'm thinking of giving up, unsolicited, on the hyphenated last name and just giving Godzilla his dad's name, and perhaps adopting his dad's name myself when we get married in preparation for moving back to a civil law country, though perhaps not if I keep working in the media.  This was really initiated by filling out the form for his birth certificate and realizing that with his first, middle and two last names, there will be very few forms with sufficient space available to get it all down.

And a lot of my resistance to using his dad's last name only was that there are a lot of undesirables in his dad's family, criminally speaking. Every Calabrian has family they're not proud of - or at least shouldn't be proud of - but there is a bumper crop on the F-word's tree. But since I seem to be getting my own way in terms of moving away from Australia sooner rather than later, where that element has thrived, I'm feeling able to back down.

giovedì, novembre 29, 2012

Godzilla's emergence

Well, predictably enough, I'm Wiped to the Fuck Out. Happy with it, because Godzilla, if I do say so myself, is the awesomest baby to ever awesome shit up. And the F-word has taken my breath away with how good he is at being a dad. I was expecting something like it, obviously, or I wouldn't have procreated with him, but to see it in practice is fucking beautiful.

I'm not doing much in the way of sleeping anymore - Godzilla's growth started spurting on Sunday night and he's been on my boobs pretty much non-stop - has already gone from weighing just under 10 pounds at birth to just over now after losing some ground his first couple of days, when he spent the first night in the special care nursery and then ran into our breastfeeding learning curve. That means not really sleeping. Which at the moment is okay. It's fascinating what the human body can bear, especially when the payoff is a fucking supercute baby who isn't too hard to soothe and gives great cuddles.

The birth - objectively speaking I'm told it couldn't have gone much better. The F-word described it as a snuff film (though he was splendid as a helpmeet for the duration; I didn't want to kill him once). It was pretty awful while it lasted. I found it to be a true truism that as soon as the contractions are finished you can't remember what they felt like, in any except the vaguest possible terms: fucking horrible. I went into labour spontaneously the morning I was to be induced, thank god, because I've heard induced labours are worse, and I was already having a lot of James Brownsian "I can't go on!" moments.

No drugs, except a little nitrous oxide in the beginning, which I gave up on when it wasn't fun like being at the dentist; in fact it made me sick. And I didn't not take drugs to be tough or natural or because I thought it would be better for me and Godzilla; I didn't take drugs because I really didn't think they would help. The pain wasn't the problem. In fact when it really started hurting - which was the physical act of pushing Godzilla out - that's when things were easiest. The pain sort of reminded me of what I was doing, whereas up until that point I had pretty much lost the plot, and then Godzilla was out, and everything was worth it.

One thing pregnancy, childbirth, and the hospital time afterwards has convinced me of is that women should get a bit more control over how they do all this. Or at least not get judged for their choices. If they want drugs they should have them. If they don't they don't. And it was probably a mistake to put so much pressure on me to get an induction on my due date. It's true Godzilla's stay in the special care nursery for observation was probably down to him spending those extra days in the womb - he breathed in some meconium - but he was fine without intervention and the labour could have been much, much worse for us if I was induced, particularly as early as the preceding Monday. And I had what I consider a very responsibly led pregnancy, with a great midwife.

Anyways, time to get cuddling again. He's just so awesome.

giovedì, novembre 22, 2012

Proud to announce . . .

Last Sunday night, our beautiful son - let's call him Godzilla - came into the world. He is terrific and last night he even let me sleep a couple of hours in a row. More to follow when I'm less busy staring at this miracle of awesomeness.

mercoledì, novembre 14, 2012


I guess I'm on holiday until the baby comes out, now that the China essay's done. It's a bit odd because I can't have the sort of holiday I think of as a holiday, which usually has kayaking and running around and other forms of movement involved. In this heat and at this stage of pregnancy a 5 km waddle is the absolute end my tether and lots and lots of sleeping is going down extremely well. Also it's a really open question when the holiday will come to a crashing, screaming, ass-ripping-open end, which has never been a marked feature of my previous holidays.

It makes me think they should market luxury cruises geared to women in the 38th week of their pregnancy and up. Confinement cruises, staffed with really good midwives and obstetricians. Pre and post natal classes, lactation consultants, fruity virgin cocktails. Last through the first six to eight weeks after the kid's born, feed the mums lots of calcium rich foods, let them lie around or go for little waddles around the decks. Spend most of the boats' time in the national waters of countries with the good kind of passports to get the kiddos the useful citizenships. I think it could be a real winner - I'd certainly be all over that idea at the moment. I guess in this liability-rotten world there's little chance of it ever happening. Maybe out of Asia? Birth is already so medicalized and confinement so institutionalized in the developed countries there it's hard to see what the legal issues could be if you just transferred that super-medicalization onto a nice boat.

Well, off to do some eating and sleeping. Have to carpe diem. The midwife is sweeping my membranes this aft so through the night and this time tomorrow I could be in the insomniac, nauseated grip of the most excruciating pain I've ever known. Happy holidays!

lunedì, novembre 12, 2012

Five days' grace

Praise be . . . all test results have been very positive, so no more pressure from the medical team to induce until next week. Ren has at least five days to come out on his or her own, which I hope will be the case, and if it isn't, I'm pretty sure I'll be ready to be induced by Monday.

Here they jump straight onto prostoglandin gel and membrane rupturing; both intrusive and only going in one direction, basically, and certainly not without risk for the baby; not to mention it means a ward admission that can stretch into three or four days. With my sister-in-law's practice in Toronto they'll go for an at-home mechanical stretch and sweep as a first port of call - less dramatic but also less complication-prone. Apparently in a lot of England they'll give you a week of the TENS machine and Jeebus knows what else. And a dear friend who had a baby in Belgium soon after we left started off with oral medication. So there's no international consensus on the best way to do this.  It's not like "infection? Antibiotic!", "diabetic? Insulin!" sort of thing. There's not even any consensus on when or if to induce during a normal pregnancy; from one place to another it'll be one week or two weeks or not at all if the baby looks to be doing fine in there, or it will be at the mother's request if timing is important, and, indubitably, it's often done in reference to the medical staff's convenience.
And this is just one aspect of pregnancy and delivery. Expand it, and things go even more doolally. Since sister-in-law sent me the diagnostic sheets for essential hypertension during pregnancy, I've found out that I had been pushed to take more medication than would have been countenanced in Canada. In China, a friend in my situation was given no medication at all, but then hospitalized at week 36 and her baby delivered by C-section almost immediately. And the drug of choice, when it's used, varies from place to place as well; here and in Canada they'll use labetalol, elsewhere they'll use methyldopa, elsewhere other things . . .

Or, in general, ward admissions. Here, if it's a normal delivery, you go home four hours afterward. Other places, a day; other places, three days. Not to mention all the places where they let you have your baby without going into hospital at all. Huge differences. 

Things don't need to be the same everywhere. Pregnancy isn't an illness and it wouldn't make sense that dealing with it would be as straightforward as dealing with an illness. And every woman I've spoken to has experienced her pregnancy, symptomatically, in a unique way - unique from other women, and unique in terms of each of her own pregnancies.  But I don't think the range of approaches owes its diversity so much to the range of pregnant-person-experiences as it does to the vagaries of local practice. Which means it's important - really important - for pregnant women to know as much as they can about what's going on and what her options are. I'd never really appreciated that before.

That's a fairly frightening thought because most pregnant women don't have it as easy as I do and don't necessarily have the time to know as much as they can. It's like superannuation retirement savings plans. How the fuck is a person with a full time job in, say, childcare or construction going to have the time and the financial background to fully inform themselves of the best way to invest their own money while saving up for retirement? That's why all that pension money wound up in managed funds that all suddenly went down the toilet in 2008.

Anyways, I need to stop using my maternity leave to rant on the internet and start finishing that last essay for my Chinese politics class. I suspect that's the real reason I was resisting induction, you know . . . have to knock that bastard off first.

Well that's odd

Some odd things happened yesterday. The thing in itself wasn't odd - it was just the sort of standard conversation I as a massively pregnant woman (BTW today is my due date according to the twelve week ultrasound) have quite often with strangers about when the baby's due, advice about delivery - lots of walking, try to keep off your back (which sounds more like contraception advice to me) etc. The odd thing was that I realized after the conversation that it was the first time I had had a conversation with a recognizably aboriginal person, even though I've now been living in Australia for more than two years.  The other odd thing, which took awhile to register, is that at the end of the conversation, she thanked me, even though she was the one offering advice and good wishes.

Australia is really making my skin crawl. I'm no Étienne Brûlé but I've got first nations friends, family, and I'm pretty sure I've never gone anywhere close to two years in Canada without chatting with a first nations person in various contexts, and they've certainly never fucking thanked me for it. This is . . . weird. I've become casually acquainted, living here, with more Maori people for heaven's sake, and it's not like this podunk shithole is some sort of high-powered Kiwi job magnet. And there are a lot of aboriginal people about, though few that are actually from around here - there were hundreds who were relocated from Sydney during the Olympics twelve years back. (Yep. They still do that.)

Well. I don't know what the take-home from feeling weird like this is. Except that Australia's not the place for me. It's stolen country being squandered by its parasitic thieves, who somehow don't get treated as parasites by the people they stole it from. Probably because they killed too many of them. I've heard from a few different people now the same anecdote about conversations with drunk white South Africans (of which Australia is pretty full): at some point, when the conversation turns to apartheid and what shitty people white South Africans are, out will come the blurt: "you can't judge us, you just killed all your blacks." On reflection one of my South African business contacts in Belgium said something similar about Australia when I told him I was moving here, though not while drunk and not so harshly.

sabato, novembre 10, 2012

The refreshments of childlessness

I'm on a TENS machine today, courtesy of my Chinese doctor, trying to get this labour ball rolling. A once-hourly auto-electrocution of the back and buttock, starting early as possible and running as late as possible. Not something I ever quite pictured myself doing, I must say, but a lot of pregnancy has involved things I never pictured myself doing. I can add auto-ass-electrocution to the list of things nobody ever warned me about pregnancy, alongside heartburn, over-medicalization, sasquatch poos, and stroopwafel and cheese sandwiches suddenly being really good. 

I should have started with the machine last night but instead we went out for dinner with our only childless friends here, which was lovely. As the F-word and I were driving home we realized that we'd spent most of the night talking about politics and making the filthiest jokes possible as opposed to what we spend our time with our childed-up couple friends talking about - their houses, their children, their health, their income and, once the evening reaches a certain point, their relationship issues. It was an unsettling realization.

The fact is, and last night I had to stare this fact in the face, I get fucking bored talking about houses, children, health, income and relationships. It's just not all that interesting. Not compared to, I don't know, telling someone to sit on their hand for 15 minutes so that when they jack off they can pretend it's someone else, or Julia Gillard's misogyny speech (which was part of a masterful tradition of trashing the shit out of opposition members; she didn't get into the Paul Keating brand of colourful insults like "all tip and no iceberg", "peice of desiccated coconut" or "low altitude flyer", but she didn't need to - that poor dumb fuck Abbott having spent years of public life setting himself up. Almost no notes, and 15 minutes of pure, merciless, factually accurate trash talk. You hardly ever see anything that awesome in an an Anglo parliament or congress, but you can see it relatively routinely in Australia. These people are only good at talking when they're pissed off).

Maybe all that will change when we have children, say, tomorrow or something (WTF?). I guess the centre of gravity of the world shifts quite a lot. But somehow the realization of how things are hemming in for most of our friends here is chilling. I hope it's not inevitable. Again I have to thank goodness for my job, which in any case will force me to keep focusing on big political and macro-economic pictures beyond home renovations and how my spouse is somehow deficient of competency or understanding or things like that. Not that there's anything wrong with the personal but I don't think it can be the only thing on your mind. It puts too much pressure on your immediate environment being your only source of happiness or stimulation. I love the F-word too much to make my relationship with him the absolutely centre-point of my waking consciousness, no matter how emotionally dependent on or attached to him I am in reality. Nobody deserves that much pressure. And my kid won't either. Easier said than lived, I expect.

Fucking eye-ties

Just turned my out of office maternity notice on. Eep. Except my main preoccupation is that Ren still won't come out for two weeks and I'm squandering this expensive, expensive time where my mat leave benefits are something like a third of my big girl salary. Not that it'll happen . . . pretty sure there's no way I'll be going the standard two weeks over. I'm still getting some pressure to have an induction Tuesday, but I'm still feeling in the driver's seat about it . . . nevertheless Ren's head's engaged now and I've been having some contractions, so I'm getting a little less unamenable to the suggestion. I guess I'm hoping he or she just pops out on her own. We've made dinner plans I'm really looking forward to tonight, so hopefully that will do the trick.

Spent a vicious fuckload of time waiting to be seen by the obstetrician yesterday, which let me get most of they way through Christ Stopped at Eboli, one of those books I'd been meaning to read for ages. This morning's appointment let me knock it off. I've been reading tonnes, in part thanks to waiting around for medical people, and in part in panic, anticipating that soon I won't be reading at all . . . or that the reading I'll be doing will be kid's book to a kid for, oh, eight years or so? Anyways, I got to knock off Christ Stopped at Eboli and it was pretty great.

It didn't speak to me too directly in terms of my own cultural experience of the South. We're mountain Calabrian and I suspect have always pretty culturally distinct from how the Basilicatesi are described in the book, with the main difference being how much nicer they all seemed. Seems legit. I've met a lot of people from Basilicata, indeed one supremely unamusing weekend I spent fending off a really, really nice boy from there who'd spontaneously decided he was my new boyfriend - not in the stereotypically macho woppy way, but like something straight out of some sort of doctrinaire Catholic romance novel if such a thing exists, determined to save me from myself because I liked oral sex and smoking cigarettes - and they've all been really nice. Calabrians aren't. We're just not very nice people. Not particularly horrible, I mean not Venetians or anything, but not nice.

You can get the experience of this just by crossing the straits of Messina on a ferry in 20 minutes or so; you're no more or less likely to get your purse snatched in Messina or Reggio Calabria but people will be nicer to you in Messina. Everything cultural in Rome and south of it I've experienced in Italy has been really nice in a somewhat Spanish style, bar Calabria. I love going, of course, because I have family there, so they're nice to me, and so are the other people in the village, because I'm not a stranger. But it must be hard going for tourists.

Anyways, all that having been said, while I didn't feel at any point like I was reading a description of my cultural experience of the South, it's a terrific book that really resonated with me in political terms, in terms of my experience of the South. Carlo Levi's political incarnation was Communist, but the book is a war cry against the spiritual dominance of the nation in all its standard political forms over the region, and that rang true. Calabria is probably more violent and mafiaed up than anywhere else in the country, but I'm reasonably sure that's because of and not despite the role of the national government and the economic dominance of northern investors over the past 60 years or so.

But no time to get into that today. What I really wanted to express was how happy I am that I decided to read it in English instead of Italian. My Italian is good, maybe better than my French once it gets warmed up, but I fucking hate reading in Italian while it's safe to say that French is a damn good time to read. I hate Italian literary expression. I hate the literary verb forms and I hate the flowery fancy flouncy roundabout way Italians write when they're writing something erudite. French literary language is also artificial relative to spoken language but the literary tenses are transparent - usually resembling the present or infinitive - and French writers have been expressing themselves with perfect clarity for a good four centuries.

This real dislike of Italian literature may be a failing of aesthetic feeling on my part, but fuck, does it ever make me want to throw whatever I'm reading across the room.  I can still read the old poetry without getting pissed off; you just read it out loud, and the beauty of the sounds outweighs the opacity of expression. Indeed Petrarca and Dante have a real spareness to their expression that's beautiful. But anything from a fucking novelist - ergh and nope. I think the only exception I can think of offhand is Alberto Moravia, and all I've read of his in the Italian was The Conformist, so I don't know if that's generally true. The big tip-off was hating The Name of the Rose in Italian a few years ago and then loving it in English last year or something. Now I've just given up trying.  

mercoledì, novembre 07, 2012

Perverts, pitocin and paranoia

Post mortems and some sort of national soul-searching about how white men don't matter in electoral terms anymore aside, now that all that nonsense is finished in the States I can come out and say I bet Mitt Romney would be one sick, fun lay. He just has that smooth look about him that screams expert closet pervert who'd figuratively break you in half. If I had to choose which of those men were to be president or even a dinner party guest he wouldn't rate, but he'd be the one I took home. Obama seems like a nice person but he'd be the sort to do it with the lights out, I bet. Probably candles and potpourri and music and crap like that.

I'm seeing the OB tomorrow and my midwife thinks I'll be advised to get induced on my due date because of my blood pressure. I'll probably make a stink about that and insist on waiting for another week, as much as I want to get all this over with. There's no getting around the fact induction makes labour more risky and more painful. The risk is the big thing for me (I can say that now, while I'm not in pain) - risk for the baby, and risk of a c-section. Already having essential hypertension that creeps in whilst pregnant, I really don't want a c-sectioned uterus on top of that. For the next pregnancy, which I'm already thinking about despite not wanting to do all this again at the moment, that'd lift me right out of the low-risk category that lets me do all this with midwives instead of spending hours and hours and hours waiting to see one of the few and very overworked OBs in this fucking podunk town on the one morning a week they take appointments, which is the morning I have the most work to do.

The good news there is that if that IS what happens - if I do end up c-sectioned - it's settled that we're leaving Australia earlier than planned so we can make the next baby somewhere with a functioning medical system. Where being overseen by an OB doesn't involve only being able to get appointments on Fridays despite my work schedual (it drives my crazy; it's like there's an assumption here that women don't work and don't need to schedual things around work, and the biggest problem is that's true for women around here, in large part - offends my feminist sensibilities) and having no continuity of care. Back to big-city Europe and the combined mandatory insurance/national health care schemes for us.

martedì, novembre 06, 2012

You guys aren't fucking done yet?

I'd been hoping to wake up this morning and for the US election to already be over. Shame the time differences aren't quite different enough. This has certainly been the year I've come closest to ignoring it altogether, which has been refreshing. It's tedious to have to pay so much attention to something so totally outside of my control, while also tedious to have to pay so much attention to something whose outcome is ultimately probably quite unimportant for most of the world. The foreign policies of the two parties involved are just not different enough to matter.

I guess I could start caring on the basis of which party is most likely to have policies leading to a devaluation of their currency but frankly it seems like a waste of energy. I'm guessing whoever wins it'll be an ongoing race to the bottom that will continue to fuck the productive economy of my homeland while enriching its bourgeoisie and creating an ever-widening income gap that I plan to be on the money side of when I buy a second home there, but still deplore.

In that vein, Bad Lip Reading has been incredibly helpful.

I find this contextless absurdity to be such effective satire because the scripted nature of two-party politics in the US has become so painfully nonsensical and distant from practical policy that the dubs make about as much sense as actually listening to these people talk.

Say what you will about Australia, and there is a shitload of bad shit to say, and I say a lot of it. But - probably because of its smaller size, probably because the contagion of political puppetry hasn't wholly spread here yet, probably because Australia is just so fucking rich, probably because it's a multi-party proportionally representational parliamentary system, probably because the federal government plays a bigger role in day-to-day life here vis-a-vis the incredibly corrupt and inept individual states - there's still some sort of concrete relationship, even if a tenuous one, between what federal political leaders say and enacted policy. For now. And I've been enjoying it, and it makes US political posturing all the more tedious.

All that having been said, I'll be upset if the people who don't want women to be able to get abortions or birth control win. At 39 weeks pregnant, you appreciate like never before that no one should have to do this until or unless they really, really want to.

giovedì, novembre 01, 2012


My blood pressure, the midwife tells me, has responded splendidly to the increased medication. Mostly I'm glad. I think I'm approaching 49% hoping I'll be induced early, but my common sense still tells me it's best to avoid any medical interventions that are evitable - Mum was quite the salutary tale in those terms back in March. I'll just keep walking lots, eating spicy foods, banging my old man, drinking pineapple juice, and doing all the other things that are all said and aren't proven in the least to bring on labour, but which are all more pleasant than someone clawing at your membranes or giving you the sort of drugs that aren't fun.

You know I recall, over my more questionable years, the hesitancy with which I introduced new recreational drugs into my diet; just a little try, just a little more, okay, that seems fine - probably as a result of having a fucking plethora of food allergies. I don't think that was a bad thing to do. What shocks me is the degree to which there's pressure to just pile on the non-recreational drugs willy-nilly. Makes me think there should be more of these. As a matter of common sense. But common sense and normal medical practice are often poles apart; money's such a spoiler. Witness antibiotic sales and resistance in India.

BTW I've realized and am accepting India annoys the fuck out of me. I met lots of lovely people from there but it's a total fucking mess and the parts of my job that pertain to India are the most purgatorial because of dreadful communication infrastructure and practices. Maybe I need to go to more developing countries to put it in perspective, since comparing it with China, the only other putatively developing country I've ever spent any significant amount of time in, is unfair. It's really not at the same stage of development (or non-development) at all. And in respect to those countries as far as possible I'm comparing apples to apples, since my references are Delhi and Shanghai, not, I don't know, Hyderabad and Hong Kong. Thanks to the kiddo, I'm missing a conference in Hyderabad this year, which is 100% alright with me. Hyderabad looks like a dump to end all dumps. Well done, kiddo.

Anyways, in delivery terms, will also try getting a bit of a kickstart from the Chinese medicine doctor. He has quite a reputation in town for helping women through pregnancy, including helping them get pregnant. Hmmm . . . over the coming years I'll be looking out for lots of moxibustion-scented little junior Svengalis . . .

mercoledì, ottobre 31, 2012

More international baby making

So it seems I no longer have just straight-out hypertension, but now have labile hypertension, which means my blood pressure fluctuates wildly from really fine to totally not fine. I'm not sure what that means in practice and I don't think my medical team does either, besides putting me on alert that I might get induced soon. But the baby and all of my internal organs seem to be in very good shape after multiple tests, and now that we're past week 38 I'm close to not giving a fuck. I don't want to be induced - cascade of interventions, etc. - and I don't want a Cesarean (BTW did I mention that they call them "caesars" here? Like the salad? It's distracting) because that will put a further two-week delay on me getting up and having a nice run and kayak. But I'm getting to the sweet spot of pregnancy where I'm quite, quite close to not giving a fuck. Let's wrap this shit up. Surgically, drugged-up-edly, in 24 hours of mind-bending pain, I don't give a fuck. Move on to being a mother, whatever that's going to be like, instead of being a massive cumbersome swamp donkey who can't stop eating Hobnobs. 

You know, I'm a champion whiner, but I've been so happy for the last eight years or so. I do question whether or not I have any idea what the fuck I'm doing throwing a new, dependent, pukey, poopy, soul-consuming ingredient into the mix. My midwife is childless, which I can't help but partly ascribe to her witnessing thousands of women tearing their own assholes open to deliver, but her explanation for it is that she has a terrific lifestyle and understands that a child will change that completely (and I doubt the almost wholly unpredictable shiftwork would be a benefit either - Luke Duke's wife is a midwife and their family is running a total juggling act where all the balls would go disastrously flying without the intervention of grandmothers). I have a really nice lifestyle too. I mean, one of the best I've ever even heard of. Why am I messing with it like this? And will my brain be able to make enough sense of it all to steer me away from post natal depression? Time will tell.

Elsewhere, in stuff-your-noise-Jessica-other-people-have-it-so-much-worse news, Lexie's old mum, who has moved to France and largely resolved her brain problems, is about to give birth at 32 weeks because of having a cervix only too willing to dilate. Worse things have happened. The outlook is pretty good for most babies born that early. But of course not 100% good, and it's certainly early enough to be concerned, and the baby will have to be incubated, and they will have to be full of worry for months. And on top of all that, she doesn't have coverage there - she's a resident, but hasn't got her carte vitale yet. Don't ask me how the fuck that happens, the situation is rather too serious to get judgey about. Her current hospitalization, which has been going on for some time, is running more than a thousand euros a day, and when the baby comes out and gets incubated, it will be much, much more. Fuck.

Reminds me of that story of the Australian couple who had their baby at 26 weeks in BC while they were on vacation and are now in hock to the province to the tune of a million bucks. Funny how Australia and Canada have a robust enough reciprocal fiscal regime that the debt is enforceable, but not a robust enough reciprocal medical regime that the mother and baby's expenses were covered by Australia's Medicare (which I suspect is actually a bit of bullshit on Canada's part - lots of countries have lots of reciprocal medical regimes, and Canada has none, which dollars to doughnuts is down to medical care being run by a series of provincial gas factories instead of by the federal government). Personally I made the decision not to travel abroad beyond the age of viability because of really not wanting to get into shit like that, and yes, I do seriously question the wisdom of couples who decide to travel abroad past the age of viability. But being incredibly dumb does not mean you should be in hock to the tune of a million dollars. Or else we'd all be in hock to the tune of a million dollars over something.

domenica, ottobre 28, 2012

The body socio-economic

The crib is side-carred and equipped with a nice new mattress, the car seat is installed, the hospital bag is packed, the maternity leave replacement is fully briefed; in fact outside of thumb-twiddling and worrying I'm not sure there's a great deal else to do. The lady who will cleaning our house for a couple of hours each week is coming in tomorrow, my will needs witnessing and sending off to my executor. And on Friday I think I had contractions. They really sucked. I realized for the first time that this is really likely to hurt an awful lot. So the upshot is that I can't wait to have this baby, whilst dreading the actual process.

Well, moving on. I feel like this week we're taking two very significant steps toward joining the middle classes. First is that as mentioned we're hiring someone to come in for a couple of hours a week to clean. That is going to be awesome. We've fallen into some gender stereotypes here that are ill-suited to us and I think hiring a professional and splitting the costs is the only way out without me wanting to skewer the F-word's balls and have a nice BBQ with them before his frightened eyes. Second is that we're installing a hand spray bidet, like what south Asians and Scandinavians have. Like one of these. The baby and the cloth diapers were the excuse but the truth is we've wanted one for ages. Why wipe when you can rinse?

Another thing that the baby is excusing is me buying a deydrator, which arrived today. One of my aunts, who has since lost her marbles, had one, and made the loveliest sun-dried tomatoes without having to fart around with leaving them in a half-open oven like my parents did (here, of course, actual sun drying is as impractical as it was in northern Ontario; it's jungly and humid and they'd just go off or be stolen by lizards) so I've wanted one for ages. The excuse for that one is needing to dry, pulverise and encapsulate my placenta. Too many people who I take seriously have reccommended it for me not to, and on top of that this is probably my one and only chance to eat human flesh without having to face any disturbing moral dilemnas. Coz it's mine. And it does seem like a lot of bother to spend nine months growing a perfectly healthy organ and then just incinerating it with all the other medical waste.

Anyways, I'm going to go practice on some bananas now.

mercoledì, ottobre 24, 2012

A lot to not know

I'm wondering two things a lot these days: what sort of mum I'm going to be, and what sort of person Ren is going to be. It's probably illusory to think that I have a greater degree of control over what sort of mum I'm going to be than what sort of person Ren is going to be, especially as the two things are so intimately linked. But I do, of course. It's me, and I'm a reasonably self-possessed person, or at least one with a lot of expertise at seamlessly rationalizing her own actions - hard to tell the difference when it's yourself.

So anyways, I'm wondering what sort of mum I'm going to be. I don't know if you can extrapolate from how one is as a fetus-carrier. I reckon I've been a pretty good fetus carrier so far. No drinking, no coffee, lots of sleep, reasonable exercise, yoga, sensible eating besides the patisserie industrielle, used bottled water to boil my food in Shanghai, and all that good stuff. But not crazy. Not crazy like refusing or even hesitating to make that two and a half month trip to Asia and Europe during the second trimester. Having done it, enjoyed it so much (even without coffee, raw cheese, beer or crab meat), and looked back on advice from various people not to do it, it would have been an absolute travesty to have listened to them. Especially what with Granny dying since. Fraught as our relationship was, it'll be good to be able to tell Ren that she saw him or her "in utero". And it would have been much harder to miss her funeral.

Anyways, yesterday morning my blood presure seemed to really spike so I went to the hospital. I was thinking, and I suspect hoping since I'm really tired of being pregnant and I want to meet my kid, they might deliver Ren early to avoid the risk of pre-eclampsia, now that we're full term. But my blood pressure, pee tests, and the trace they did of Ren's movements versus heartbeat were all absolutely tip-top. I felt a little bad for making a fuss, but not really. Not really at all, actually. It won't do to take any risks with Ren. I already understand that. I can't even sound the depths of my fear that something will go wrong in the next little while, and I suppose I'll be worrying for the rest of my life that something will go wrong for him or her. And while I've never been terrifically cavalier about my own safety, I'm also deeply afraid of leaving the kid without a mother; I don't know if I'll be any prize, but I'm almost certainly better than nothing. Anyways. Back to risk. What I'm curious about, about myself as a mother, is what's going to count as a risk.

Probably the thing most outside of my control but what I'm least worried about is how the F-word will be as a father. He'll be great. I feel that even if something happened to us as a couple, he'd still be great. He's started dreaming about the baby too now, which somehow I find incredibly emotionally reassuring - like his brain has really started to take what's about to happen to us on board. Last night our dreams were wildly contrasting. He dreamt he was driving us home from the hospital while I nursed Ren, and I dreamt that Ren was a majestic moose emerging from the Grand Canal at the palace of Versailles. Both seem auspicious.

martedì, ottobre 23, 2012


We are on the final stages of nesting. (That makes me think the baby is probably going to come out today; just about the last chance to catch us unawares. I suspect that's wishful thinking, though.) This is our first and that makes things a little awkward in terms of not really knowing what we're doing. Ex. we have a lovely bassinet-stroller Mum bought us to sleep Ren in but what if Ren doesn't want to sleep in it? And what if we don't want Ren sleeping in it even if Ren likes it because it'd be easier to have the baby in arm's reach in the middle of the night/in the middle of a nap for a feed and a change? So we're getting a crib now that we're going to sidecar to the bed so we don't accidentally suffocate it but can still reach it to pull it over to my boobies. And of course if we have the crib now we don't have to buy it later.

Now this part is annoying. Gently used baby things, which we're largely relying on, are a dime a dozen here, like anywhere I suspect. Possibly more so here, because of the baby bonus - parents get $5,000 dumped on their laps for each kid they push out. That was introduced by one of the right-ish wing parties, by the way, which shows you exactly how much money is floating around this country. So new baby things are wildly inflated in their prices, and used baby things are ubiquitous and cheap. Whatever. I'm not going to get all indignant this morning about how fiscally retarded Australians are. It's good for us there's so much cheap baby stuff floating around. I think the only thing we've bought new is a carseat. That's not the annoying part.

The annoying part is that some friends promised us a crib - absolutely unsolicited, I might add - some weeks ago. Maybe months ago. We hadn't heard anything else since. I called them on Monday to check up on it, because with lovely quality cribs floating around the second hand markets for $50 or less my priority at this point is just fucking getting one and refitting it as a sidecar co sleeper, so if they can't help us that's bloody fine, I just want to know so I can move on with my fucking life. That's not how I expressed it, of course.

The answer was reassuringesque; the family has a surfeit of cribs, perhaps three extra ones floating around, and they want to give us one, and they'll set something up and get us one. Of course we haven't heard from them since. This family has a bit of a reputation for promising things and then floating off with the fairies, which screwed the F-word over a little from a work perspective last week. They have two young kids so one should be patient, but A) I'm eight and a half months pregnant so I'm not fucking patient and B) it irritates me in principle when people make promises they can't live up to, especially when they're unsolicited. I mean, why not just keep your fool mouth shut? Save some time.

lunedì, ottobre 22, 2012

À la recherche de la pâtisserie industrielle perdue

There's a lot of things I've given up over the years. A lot of them over the life of this blog though I'm not sure they're catalogued here.

- Cigarettes (since 2006)
- Binge drinking (since 2009)
- Marijuana (since 2010)
- Casual sex (since 2005)

Hard to say how permanent all of these are. I'm pretty sure the marijuana one is just going to last as long as I'm breastfeeding and/or living in a country where it's still treated like it's something for the naughty kids. I didn't plan to give up marijuana; I just moved to Australia and realized I couldn't act like the middle class adult I am and still keep smoking it. Hard to explain what I mean. Look: in all the cities I've lived in or visited long enough to need to get high in Canada or the US, when you want marijuana you call someone and they come to where you are and sell you some, usually from a selection, or else you go to where they work, like a grocery store, and buy it while you're carrying out other errands. In Benelux and Germany, it's even more middle-class. You buy some from a store or from a park and then you smoke it and nobody minds as long as you don't litter or breathe it out on normal people, like cigarettes.

Here - it's such a rarified thing on the one hand (see Nimbin) that it turns me off. Like the coffee shops full of Americans in central Amsterdam. On the other, it's something that people on the very low end of the social scale do - and I myself can hardly believe what a snob Australia has turned me into.

Just a side rant for a moment on the subject of my snobbery. It's classist, not monetary. There aren't that many poor people in Australia, relatively speaking. One of the things I hate about Australia is how it's shattered my illusion that all the human race needs to advance as a species is a sort of universal prosperity. There's practically money hanging off trees here, and people are still buggering up their lives in dumber ways than you can imagine. The F-word's job involves a lot of people who can't hold down a job for various reasons, one of them being that they refuse to work for less than $25 an hour, and some of these people have fine backlogs from dumb little shit like speeding or fair dodging ranging from $10,000 to $28,000. Squidsy, who's become my benchmark for okker Ozzie inertia, is about $6,000 in debt and won't get a job because he can't find anything around here that's not in the service industry, but he wants to go back to university and has to get out of debt first. He could just suck it up for half a year, pay it off fast, and then go back to school for retraining, but he'd rather stay on the dole, pay the minimums, and complain for fuckin' years. At the same time, his Canadian wife, who has exactly zero uni or professional experience versus his five year degree and work background, is making a good monetary and social go of this place by retraining as a pastry chef in a paid apprenticeship and singing with a band on the nights Squidsy has custody. Anyways, I was writing about something else. Back to it.

So I've given up a lot of things. Probably some of them are permanent gives-up. I hope so, anyways. I hope the cigarette thing doesn't come back. Money vampire. Or the casual sex; F-word sex is a lot better. He doesn't do weirdo shit like shave his balls. Probably the binge drinking is behind me too. Nothing against it in principle; I just can't handle the consequences. But I can't ever say never again, because one of the other things I'd given up - back in the physically buggered aftermath of my thesis defense, when I think my whole gastro-intestinal system was overhauled - was eating in any substantial amounts what the French call pâtisserie industrielle. I'm not sure what you call it in English. Confectionary, maybe? But that might include candy bars, which I never really gave up completely. I'm talking about packaged, processed cookies or packaged, processed things-that-look-like-they-were-baked.

Pregnancy 86'ed that. I blame Miss C in Paris as well. Not that she got me any - I don't think pâtisserie industrielle has any place in her life. But when I was visiting her during my second trimester in the small town where she's rented a very pretty house,  she bought me a fresh madeleine from a local bakery on our way out of town. Prior to that, I'd only had madeleines years before, as a poor starving student in Paris, in their vastly inferior pâtisserie industrielle form. When I got back to Australia I started craving madeleines - a first for me, as they're rather bland and uninteresting - and somehow that got confounded with pâtisserie industrielle. And then I needed first, chocolate digestives. Probably not coincidentally, immediately after my grandmother's death - chocolate digestives were always present and doled out as great treats in her household. And then, after this episode of Bottom the other night, it was Hobnobs. One good thing about Australia is its good supplies of British pâtisserie industrielle, which despite the Frenchiness of the term is the best pâtisserie industrielle. Not the most convincing fame to culinary fame out there but hey - it beats Australia. All this place has going for it is cheap kangaroo meat.

Anyways, end of ramble. I'm rambling a lot these days. I like it and other people tolerate it. I think it amuses them to see me blathering so much when I usually don't blather much at all. Now I'm off to my acupuncturist to ramble at him for awhile until I fall asleep full of needles. Ren is 37 weeks old today. That means if he or she popped now, it'd count as a full term pregnancy. That is a good feeling. Especially since I've already filed my October invoices and should get paid for the whole month even if my mat leave ends up starting this afternoon. No sign of that, sadly enough. A little tightness at the top of the uterus, the odd cramp. At least I know they won't let me go too far over, though getting induced looks like the sort of thing that makes a shitty thing shittier. Any road. I'll manage.

mercoledì, ottobre 17, 2012

International baby making

The baby's head is now descended. The midwife reckoned that's just normal, and that it's still not likely to come out until sometime in November, but my colleagues in Shanghai are sure that means it'll pop out any time now. I do get the impression from research of east Asian maternity practices, though, that they're generally in a bit of a rush there. In traditional Chinese medicine, 36 weeks is considered full term, versus 37 weeks here; in Taiwan, episiotomies are the norm (basically the only way you get away without one is if you push the baby out before the doctor can find a scalpel); and my colleagues, most of whom have had their one babies (many of them in this auspicious Year of the Dragon), seem to have got induced much more often than mummy friends here.

Induction talk is interesting talk to me - my blood pressure is good and steady at a decent level but it's pretty likely I won't be allowed to keep Ren inside much past our due date because of it. Sounds like a bit of a kick in the bum. Of course, the whole thing sounds like a bit of a kick in the bum. Last night I read some of The Birthing Partner, which is meant for the F-word of course, and it was rather - frank.  I suppose to prepare the menfolk for what they're about to see. It doesn't look like on TV. We have a friend of a friend here whose woman just had a baby, and the other week we bumped into his mum; she described how he spent most of the 24-hour labour and subsequent c-section sobbing in the corner. Even she was scornful. I reckon the F-word is more resilient than that, but who knows. I really hope he is. I'm not sure how you summon up the healthy amount of loving respect for a man who spends your difficult delivery sniveling in the corner like a 5-year-old who's not getting a pony for Christmas.

Nonetheless, after another incredibly hot day here yesterday, no matter how gruesome delivery looks, I have to say I'm looking forward to it. Looking forward to meeting the baby, looking forward to beginning to drop weight instead of continuously packing it on under a hot Australian sun, and looking forward to not being pregnant anymore. The second trimester was a lark; this one is for some other kind of bird.

In the meantime, I'm trying to cobble together my assignments for the Chinese politics course, and working on one at the moment about social security there. It's pretty interesting, both on paper and in practice. On paper it's lovely, and for many people no doubt it is lovely, but in practice it gives a total miss to the informal sector and suffers badly in that much of Chinese society is still not contract-driven. Maternity leave there looks rather better than it does here, and if you work at a big company you'll even get what you're due. If not . . . well. Not. It's interesting.

Pensions, too. All over Asian developed countries they're hitting a wall in terms of elder care as the birth rate shrinks but in China that wall is already hit. With the one-child policy 34 years old now and a low birth rate before that, we're getting into the generation of professionals who are taking care of themselves, their kid, two parents and potentially a bunch of grandparents - exacerbated by the older generations having got uprooted by the Cultural Revolution or the suddent death of the iron rice bowl in the 80s or agricultural land expropriation for industry.

And yet, especially since the US and EU economies made a nosedive into the toilet, the economic plan in China is to stimulate domestic spending to keep manufacturing high and unemployment low. It's hard to think of a place with a greater need for a good pension system. They will have hard work to do to provide it. No doubt they'll manage something eventually. It must be awfully handy that all the money insitutions are government owned and controlled.

lunedì, ottobre 15, 2012

Counting down

Did you know that you can get really horrible cramps in the tendons going up the side of your leg from your ankle? Cramps bad enough to wake up up in the middle of the night and set you whimpering with pain? Pregnancy is such a litany of physical joys. And within days or weeks (months no more) I get the pleasure of, as one friend who recently birthed put it, "deciding the only way to get through the next few hours is by tearing your own asshole open to push the baby out". We've been doing some perineal massage, which is uncomfortable enough to make me think childbirth is going to be really, really, well - probably best not to think about it.

I finally got Game of Thrones out of my system by watching it all and spoiling all the Song of Ice and Fire books. After a lot of intensive work on it, I really don't give a shit about what happens to anybody on it anymore. This is the only way for me to deal with television - marathon viewings and other various surfeits until I can just move on. I have those two essays for my Chinese politics class to write before I deliver Ren, not to mention work, not to mention all the other administrative-type things I should do now so I won't have to during my confinement. There's no more time for medievalesque nudity, intrigues and swordfights. I really don't understand the appeal of waiting for a television show to air and then watching it and then waiting for the next one. But I've never been one to delay gratification.

At the moment, one of the administrative things I'm doing is wrapping things up in terms of shipping/storing some furniture my grandmother left me until we move back to Europe. The second Google result you get when searching for pertinent companies hooked me up with one 35% cheaper than the one my aunt and mother used. They don't care. They just wanted to wrap everything up. They also came close to accepting a lowball offer on her house, because it was cash. If I ever turn into a real asshole, instead of just an amateur, remind me to cash in on estate wrap-ups. There's something so vampiric about it. My mother and aunt can see what's happening, but they don't care. They're solidly middle class - they don't need money from the estate - they just want to finish up and move on. I'm of the mind that even if you don't care, on principle you shouldn't let people be opportunistic cunts. But who knows how I'll feel when or if I'm in their positions.

sabato, ottobre 13, 2012

This is how commies turn fascist

Met four very different Justice of the Peaces yesterday. In one case, I suspect the furthest-right party in the country just got my normally-pinko vote because of how nice the ones at the local MP's office were. In the other case it's a good thing this isn't one of those states where everybody walks around packing heat, because I'd have blown kneecaps off at a minimum. It isn't a good idea to antagonize a lady in her eighth month of pregnancy.

It had to do with the letter dissolving the PACS with Bluebird, which, going as it is to France, had to be in French. So far so explicable. I'm sure the French will raise their whole separate suite of roadblocks, France being what it is, but for now they're not the problem. The French consulate needed me to get a JP to witness my signature of the document. I figured that would probably be fine - just do it as a stat dec.

Now, the odds of finding a JP anywhere in Australia, especially New South Wales (the most populous state, and apparently one of the worst for second language education) that speaks even the basic French that was involved in the letter are probably less than 1%, because this is a monolingual dump. This is the only country I'm aware of where educated people who consider themselves intellectuals can be monolingual. Wholly monolingual. Chestnuts about stupid American monolinguals don't stand up to scrutiny; I've never met an American who couldn't fathom the basic concept of say, Spanish or French existing through a few words, a few lessons. I've certainly never met an  American with pretensions to intellectualism like that. Basically, I'm talking about having enough knowledge of another language to make fun of it. Not even that is on the cards here.

That rant aside (for the moment), I understood there was just about no chance of me finding a JP within a day's drive that could understand French. But I expected a stat dec would be okay, or just a little JP stamp next to my signature on a French letter (yes, the condom euphemism has struck me too), given all the consulate needed was a validation of my signature.

Was it, fuck. As far as the first two JPs were concerned, anyways. Long term readers remember my frequent struggles with Belgian Kafkaism. I can sincerely state, and I've thought long and hard about this, that all of the Kafkaesque bureaucratic nonsense in Belgium that I ever butted heads with never quite equalled the idiocy of the over-pickled middle-aged painted bimbo (she looked like one of the blonde bitches from Muriel's Wedding with the addition of a slightly updated haircut and about 30 years) at the courthouse explaining to me over and over that the content of the stat dec didn't matter to her, but she couldn't accept the content because it was in French. She ended up in that rhetorical hole when I offered to write down a side-by-side English/French translation on the stat dec, so that it could be ensured, one assumes, that I wasn't writing down a violent anarchist manifesto involving blowing up her house and workplace in my kooky man-man language that she would be  consenting to with her signature.

To be fair to her, she called in one of her colleagues to back her up - an incredibly lazy sack of clock-watching shit the F-word and I had already had to suffer when getting some docs certified for our mortgage - which he did by saying it was my problem with the French consulate, and I should sort it out with them. Expressed himself rather rudely, which I'm not too sore about, given he had that sort of swollen non-sun pinkiness that betrays he's gonna die of something heart-related soon, so it's not as though the world will have to bear him for long.

Finally - since this was all at the local courthouse, and you never know when I'll run into them in less auspicious bureaucratic circumstances - I thanked them very kindly for all of their help (which felt quite good, since I doubt even those sorts of mouth-breathing inert troglodytes could have missed the sarcasm) and left. If you read the last entry about Bluebird, you may appreciate that yesterday was a difficult day. I was, after all, carrying out a step that severed the last lingering paper-tie to a fairly unfortunate chapter in my life, but which my crocodile brain was warning might end up messily. So as I left the courthouse, I was distraught that everything hadn't been tied up.  But I decided to try again, and went to the only other JPs I could find, at the local state MP's office. I was feeling a little iffy about it, preparing myself for another round of bullocks, especially given the political context of him representing the furthest-right party on offer, and me being a foreign dago with a stat dec in a foreign dago language.

Was it iffy? Was it, fuck. The lovely ladies there didn't bat an eyelash. They told me the same thing as the courthouse JP - the content doesn't matter, a  JP just signs off on your signature - but followed that idea to its natural conclusion - so it doesn't matter that it's in French - instead of derrrrrrrrr. I wrote it out, rang a little bell when it was done, and another JP came out and excused herself for, I suppose, not having instantly appeared out of thin air, because they'd been having a little morning tea with mudpies (a sort of chocolate cupcake). I told her she was lucky; she looked at my belly and said "actually, I think I'd better get you one too."

Short version: first people I saw were impossible, obstructionist civil servant cunts happy to waste my time and theirs because French made their brains explode; the next set were employees of a right-wing, nationalistic party who helped me as instantly as they could without bending the space-time continuum, and gave me a cupcake.

lunedì, ottobre 08, 2012

Bluebird's final chapter

Being such a fluttery little creature, or these days such a fluttery enormous creature, and having practiced the sort of Jungian analysis that lets me perceive myself as a collection of historical selves, sometimes it's hard for me to understand that today's Mistress La Spliffe is the same person as Mistress La Spliffe several years ago. Nothing special there. But the past sometimes does intrude on the present.

What with procreation and entering the moneyed classes and being the family's primary breadwinner, I've spent a sizable chunk of the last six weeks or so sorting out my financial affairs, in case I suddenly die, or something like that. And I've realized, or rather been forced by circumstances to pay attention to the fact, that I never properly "divorced" Bluebird. Which is basically fine, because I never properly married him. We had a PACS. Correction - as far as I know, we have a PACS. And I think I should get rid of it. The law is relatively clear, in that the PACS isn't recognized unless we're living together, which obviously we're not, and it means very little outside of France. And it could be automatically got rid of by marrying the F-word, which I would do if we return to a civil law country. Nonetheless I'd like to ditch it now.

The thing is, Bluebird, well - he's not a boogeyman to me anymore, exactly, but given how our relationship ended I do have what I consider a reasonable degree of fear of him having my physical contact details or any possible weapon to interfere with my family's safety or comfort. A PACS is easily broken with a registered letter, even without his current address - the last I have is from 2006. Remember then? I hardly do - but of course I have to provide my current address, and if his address from 2006 still works that means giving mine to him through the registered letter, which in turn goes through the French consulate here and then the greffe in Paris and then to his last known address, whether he's still there or not (ah, European bureaucracy, I missed you. A little. In a masochistic way).

It's a fear easily addressed by using a PO box that I established for work mail (no way I'm printing my home address on the million business cards I hand out all over the world; since the Delhi conference I've been getting a lot of heavy breathers on the phone and have no wish to ever have one on my doorstep) but it means that I'm now combing the internet for any association of my name with my address and getting rid of them, as far as is possible for a woman with a reasonably public job who belongs to a bunch of clubs and occasionally sends irate letters-to-the-editor.

The point of this post? I used to be retarded, and that still matters. I'm not saying I'm not anymore, just that I used to be a bigger retard than I am now, and did really retarded things like getting PACSed to a rich, beautiful psychopath. Most of the ways I was retarded are just fairly good stories now, and feel so distant they might as well have happened to another person. But just as I'm preparing for a really new phase of life - the last big rite of passage before menopause - one of my old retarded decisions is sitting there, still being something that's happening to me. I think the most unsettling thing about it isn't so much my ongoing fear of Bluebird, or my appraisal of how stupid, masochistic and self-duplicitous I used to be in terms of my romantic entanglements. Rather, I think it's realizing that however nicely compartmentalized my brain feels, the past is always there. Not some other country you can just emigrate out of. More like a messy garage attached to your house you have to try to clear out from time to time, and sometimes there are big old brown snakes living in all the rubbish who might try to kill you.

Similes fail me. The gist of all this: I want to put my PACS with Bluebird to bed, and I don't want him to be able to know anything about my life now, and I'm still afraid. This tedious, tedious story hasn't been quite wound up yet.

domenica, ottobre 07, 2012

Dreams and paranoias

Last night, I dreamt I was still pregnant, and went for a run in Scalby, close to my grandmother's house. A house I may well never set foot in again, depending on how we manage the furniture I've inherited and how fast it sells. (Which is a thought I haven't got used to since it has been the most constant building, perhaps the only constant building, in my peripatetic life; but as little as we got along I fully understand Granny was the sun that pulled the system of her establishment into some sort of order or identity, so what would be the point of setting foot in it again?) No mention of the extra 20 kgs from my dream self of course, as she ran. It was glorious. Powering lightly up hills that would have me breathing like a bellows at a gentle waddle now. Feeling that great lightness of limb which has been turning into a distant memory.

I miss running, and I miss kayaking, and I miss not giving out a fatty grunt every time I squat or roll over or get up. I like feeling Ren moving around in there, and I like how awesome my hair looks, and I like that random strangers show me some interest and kindness that is totally fucking un-Australian. And that's about all I like about being pregnant. Any fear I have of a bad labour or being a bad mum has now been almost totally overwhelmed by being sick of being pregnant. By week 37, when Ren is pretty much mature by any measure, I imagine it'll be overwhelmed completely; at the moment my only concern is he or she not being fully baked on arrival. I'm paranoid about needing specialist care here. My guess is that what's available here in L____ or Brisbane, if things go pear-shaped, is better than in even the cities in Canada, and worse than in the buttery-beery bits of western Europe, and that's not good enough for my kid.

This weekend the F-word and I discovered twin paranoias about Ren, sparked off from this sordid affair with no winners and six losers, especially the girls involved. And it's something that has been at the base of our minds since Squidsy's wife tried to split to Canada with their son. The F-word was concerned that I'll abscond to Canada with the child and without him and somehow use my massive brain power to work out a way around the Hague Convention. I was concerned that at some point he'll decide that he wants us, or at least him and the kid, to stay in Australia and under the terms of the Hague Convention I'll be stuck on this fucking retarded rock at the end of the world for the next 18 years. I think we reassured each other effectively, as far as we can. Both are far-fetched fears, for a ream of practical as well as emotional reasons.

But the fact is we both suspect that people can go a little crazy once they have children. And the fact that we have these twin guns that can be pointed at each other's heads would ordinarily be fine - the happiest of couples are happy because they have massive arsenals of pain they're choosing not to use. But we don't know what sort of freaks we can turn into once a child is involved. I guess we'll see. Squidsy and his wife are a bit of a special case - time has demonstrated that Squidsy was probably worth running away from, and his wife's big fuckup was thinking he was an appropriate person to be making babies with in the first place. And the other couples we know who are going ballistic mostly, I suspect, didn't like each other very much in the first place. But, well, there you are.

martedì, ottobre 02, 2012

Jobs I hate

Holy fucking crap, I hate the sort of work most people have to do. I know that, because I'm doing it right now - a little extra stuff to get this year's bonus. Tedious, tedious shit, with lots of counting in it, geared toward letting someone who doesn't oversee our sort of work know all about what our sort of work is. I love my normal job, which has so little counting aside from working out exchange rates. It has spoiled me. But what can I say? I like getting bonuses. I'll do a lot of tedious shit to get a bonus. If it works out to be better pay per hour than the things I do to get normal money, well gosh. I guess I'll just get my brains bored out and do it.

But arrrrrrrrrgh. Seriously. How do all the people out there who have jobs they hate get through the fucking week? It baffles me. Utterly. And frankly I hope it always will.

sabato, settembre 29, 2012

The Invisible Growth Spurt

I'm buggered, today and yesterday. I'd stopped being buggered for awhile, which I attributed to the midwife putting me on iron supplements, and I'm still a lot less cranky and negative than I'd been feeling beforehand. The present buggery, combined with the way Ren is moving, I can recognize as another growth spurt. Which is good. But this kid is already enormous. I don't think there's any way we're making it to 40 weeks. I just hope we can make it to the end of the month, mostly so I can get paid for another full month. Australian mat leave money is much less than half of my normal salary. The financial pill will have to be swallowed sometime, of course, and we're getting to the point of fetal maturity where the outcomes are going to be pretty much the same for me and for Ren that they'd be at 40 weeks. But I'd rather the financial pill not be swallowed too soon.

Must be weird for the kid, these in-utero growth spurts. Some of the fastest growing it's gonna be doing in its life, in the most confined space it's ever going to have to stay in. Still, they say kids like it, based on how they calm down when they're swaddled. Well, to each his or her own. Ren seems happy enough in there. 

Read The Invisible Man yesterday in between drifting in and out of naptime. I haven't seen any of the horror film adaptations of it, but I was expecting something rather horrible. I mean, at least scary. Or attempting to be scary. It just read as funny, though. Or attempting to be funny. A novella about a cranky asshole who makes himself invisible, fucks everything up and gets beaten to death by townsfolk. Was it meant to be scary, or funny? I guess "scary" changes a lot with time. I mean in 1897 when you're dealing with day-to-day things like cholera or suffocating London fogs that make you die or everything smelling like shit all the time or industrial machinery that cuts your fingers off, then you have a very different sort of fear threshold.

Also watched the first episode of Game of Thrones around nine last night, while too tired to read but not yet willing to fall asleep. It was engaging enough that I'll probably try to watch the rest during maternity leave but it left me wondering if the creators are taking the name of "missionary style" a little too seriously. It's just an interesting way to place something as in olden-times or mythical-times - all that doggy-style sex. Every sexual encounter was doggy style, besides one blow job. By the third time people were doing it doggy-style it was getting comical enough to me that it stopped me suspending my disbelief. 

martedì, settembre 25, 2012

100 years of attitude

Granny died last night. 100 years and three hours old. She's having a small funeral day after tomorrow, because everybody showed up for her birthday party, and what with so many of these people being so geriatric, you can't expect them to make more than one outing a week.

I'm left feeling - gosh. Sad, yes. But also not. We didn't get on that well when she was herself, as long-term readers may have gleaned. Our moment of tenderest complicity that I can recall was this. And my greatest psychological fear for myself is that I'm too much like her - that one day I'll be dying at 100 years and three hours old, with loving children around me, friends who still showed up for my birthday, one of the nicest sorts of lives you can imagine behind me in qualitative terms, and still have spent the last 60 odd years utterly miserable and victimized-feeling. Agro-depressive, in other words. I was chatting with my Chinese medicine doctor, who's also a good friend of ours, about it, after my aunt called to tell me Granny was on the way out. He asked if she had the tendency to conserve her resources through her depression and I answered, honestly and without guilt, that if he meant emotional vampirism the answer was probably yes.

There were things I would have liked to have out with her, but by the time, say, eight years ago (to be charitable to myself) that I had the psychological maturity to have had them out with her, it was too late; she had reached a point of dependency that would have made it intolerably cruel. My aunt did have it out with her, years and years and years ago, when Granny was still capable of a good fight, and my aunt had the best, so far as it goes, relationship with her after that. This is part of why my main bad feeling at the moment is worry about my mother, who also missed her window to have it out with Granny, and who had a helluvalot more things to have out with her. But when I talked to her now, I felt reassured. Now that Granny's gone - now that this woman who she'd never been able to confront properly is no longer a dependent, physical presence who she'll never be able to have it out with - she looks like she's doing a little better. So I'm not sad.

But I am sad, because I loved Granny. There you are. A lot of people did, whether she wanted or encouraged them to or not. She made two lovely daughters, who in turn made two lovely happy families, with decent kids and contented husbands, and who had careers that made the community much better instead of worse. She made grandchildren who, whatever our faults, are the sort of people who loved their grandmother even if their grandmother wasn't particularly lovable, and that's something in this naughty world. It doesn't matter in the end that she was the way she was because depression is an "illness" or because of the difficult circumstances of her own early life - it doesn't matter that she had excuses. We were all still hurt. And also we all still loved her, and we wouldn't be here without her.

I wish, though, she had been born my friend instead of my grandmother. It's only when I realized that I processed her being gone and had my cry. We both would have made a better hash of things that way. There were a few things she said to me after she lost her marbles that make me think she would have preferred it too. Another life, Granny.

domenica, settembre 23, 2012


My milk started coming in on Saturday. Somehow, that was as important in the process of me realizing I'm going to have a baby as when I first peed on the stick in the two lines popped up. Or when I first felt Ren move - not just jab or kick, but move. Certainly much more important than all the aspects of pregnancy which have been unpleasant.

It's a little absurd because it's so rare, but I was really worried that despite having boobs that look designed to both please and feed the multitudes, for some awful reason I wouldn't be able to make milk. Especially as I'm 20 kilos up - 20 fucking kilos - and I'm really relying on breastfeeding to help me shift some of that tonnage. But there's something a little more visceral and complex going on there as well.

I don't think I'm going to feel less accomplished as a human female if I have to use a lot of pain relief during the delivery, or even if Ren needs to be sliced out. Childbirth has always been awful and dangerous and that old chestnut - don't know if it's true or not - that Spartans would only put your name on your gravestone if you were a man who'd died in battle or a woman who died in childbirth really speaks to me. Bref, I'll be happy to do pretty much whatever to not die or be too uncomfortable as the creature comes out, same way as people try not to get killed or hurt in a war, without feeling like any less of a woman. But it's going to hurt if I can't figure out how to breastfeed, especially as I don't have the sort of job or lifestyle that discourages it.

Anyhoo, at least they work.

lunedì, settembre 17, 2012

Old Man River, he just keeps rolling along, in between nap breaks

Slowly, slowly, with big breaks in between, things are getting done. Administrative things, physical things. Today I got a start on baby laundry. I know that's a little crazy given it's possibly two whole months pre-emptive (they won't let me go past 40 weeks, my midwife thinks, given my blood pressure) but my energy levels are so uneven that I can only do things as I have the energy for, in short bursts, and in between naps and just sitting here enjoying feeling Ren moving around and being two weeks too big for his/her age.

And there are so many cloth diapers to wash. We have a bigger range of gifted cloth diapers than I had any idea existed eight months ago. I reckon we've got one of everything - enough to start a museum. I already have a pretty good idea which kind is going to be my favourite - we'll see if I'm right. And indeed, we'll see if we can keep our balls together to keep using them instead of switching to disposables. The money difference is just so huge (especially given that we didn't pay for any of the diapers in the first place) that I'll feel like a bit of a shitheel if we don't.

Among the administrative things getting done, I found someone who would insure me at a reasonable price - the same big old bank we have our mortgage, etc. with. It turns out the two other places I'd applied to were too fly-by-night to actually have a consultative nurse in on the process who could work out exemptions (that is, the F-word and the baby won't get a payout if I kick the bucket from something related to my high blood pressure, which is rather a shame, as it's certainly the most dangerous thing on my horizon, besides the dumbcunt way Australians drive), so it was easier for them to just say no.

Seriously. That's Australia. Somehow, it's better business for a company to employ a bunch of phone jockeys to decide the whole process by asking people a bunch of yes or no questions than it is to pick up extra clients by outsourcing some to a consultative nurse. They're too lazy to go to the trouble of taking your money here. One really does get a feeling, sometimes, of a country full of people just weighed down with all the cash in their pockets, looking for some fucking relief from having to carry it all. Anyways, I doubt it's just Australia. It's just this is the first place I've had to go through these sorts of processes.

Anyways again, I really would like to get as much done, even ridiculously pre-emptively, as I can in the next week and a half. Before my brain turns to utter mush and during a week of work downtime for the Chinese national holiday, I want to take care of two assignments for my uni class in Chinese politics. The exam I've deferred for half a year or so - can't do that with the assignments. And I think they'll be fun. Certainly more fun than pre-washing three or four dozen diapers.

Anyways a third time, this pretty much describes my mental and working rhythm at the moment: