martedì, marzo 06, 2012

The epic of Spliffgamesh

All's not well yet, but it's getting there. Probably it is all well and I'm just too nervy to admit that in case I jinx it. What a kick in the fucking face this has all been, and what a kick in the arse it is to start thinking more seriously about leaving Australia. Here's the timeline:


1. 8:30 am: I stumble out of bed, make coffee, etc., look at the palm trees, consider whether to go about my day in a sarong or nothing - for some reason I wasn't planning on kayaking, as usual. Had I been up late the night before? I don't even remember now. Oh yeah, I was sick.

2. 8:45 am: Which just made all the proceedings that little bit more pleasant when I opened my Facebook and saw a message from Magnum that seemed to make it imperative I get back to Canada.

3. 8:48 am: I start checking on flights. There's no way I can make it to Canada within 24 hours. There's only one direct flight from Oz to Canada each day, out of Sydney, which leaves at 12:15 and which I didn't have a prayer of catching that same day. All the other options are shit. Even if the F-word gives me a lift to Brisbane instead of the regional airport, which he's willing to do as soon as he's awake - after Magnum's email I'm too distraught to decide whether or not to wake him up - any flight to Northern Ontario is going to involve a minimum of five incredibly time wasting transfers, many of them in the US where I get to fester like a fucking boil in security line-ups.

The fastest option, it becomes clear, is leaving the next day from Sydney on the direct Vancouver flight, and the smartest option is taking the night train there, since then I can just pay for a sleeper instead of the incredibly overpriced hotel room I'd otherwise have to get, since there are no flights from the regional airport that are guaranteed to get me to the Sydney airport on time for the 12:15 departure.

4. 8:48 am: Complicating all this at the time is a bunch of Skypes and phone calls with Magnum, Luke Duke and Elvis, after Elvis gets home from work, as we all figure out what to do and try to work out how serious the situation is.

5. 9:30 am: The news from Magnum's end is that it's very serious, but will almost certainly be resolved one way or the other by the time I can make it to Canada.

6. 9:42 am: I dither, and the F-word pulls me up - reminds me that I'm rich, and that if I stay home I'm gonna fret more than is worth the $3400 this fucking odyssey is about to cost, whatever the outcome, and I realize even in a best case scenario I'm going to be needed here for a couple of weeks. My boss, who has been in a similar sort of emergency situation, agrees, and tells me not to worry about this week's issue if things are bad.

7. 10:00 am: I buy all the tickets and pack my bags as sensibly as I can given that I'm about to head into temperatures a full 60 degrees Celsius colder than the temperatures I'm presently in. We ruin the evening of some friends whose kids we'd promised to babysit so they could catch a concert; the F-word needs to drop me off at the train station and I realize I can't be alone, not for as long as I can avoid it. I realize I don't give a shit about ruining our friends' evening, despite my chronic social guilt, which strikes me as odd at the time. They are all support, of course. They're good guys.

8. 10:00 am to 7:30 pm: The F-word spends hours feeding me, and dealing with my fretting, haphazard packing, and explosions of tears. He is all patience. There is something about having a man whose emotional life has been difficult enough that when your own hits the wall you know he knows what he's talking about.

9: 7:30 pm: The train leaves for Sydney. I have a sleeping car to myself, which I full with gales of tears until I'm tired, and then I lie down around 8:30 pm. I have a refreshing but intermittent sleep, during which I get up every two hours or so for the water fountain; I try to fight the uphill battle of staying hydrated whilst travelling whilst recovering from a cold and whilst a lot of water is coming out of my eyes. I also use my private fancy sleeping car bathroom, which is the coolest thing I've seen in Australia that wasn't flora or fauna. I'll upload a picture for you someday. Once or twice, I bust one of the coach-class customers in my private bathroom, and give them really dirty looks, before I remind myself my pinko sentiments are meant to abhor the idea of separate train classes.


10: 3:30 am: Magnum sends a text saying that the worst of the danger seems past. I do a lot of hysterical relief laughing and God-thanking.

11: 6:32 am: The train arrives in Sydney central and with aplomb and assurance, I catch the overpriced airport train. I get there super fast. So fast that I have two hours before the check-in for the flight starts. I spend the time eating lychees, making faces at babies, and feeling alternately relieved and worried.

12: 8:30: In the line for check-in. At this point, I start cursing Australia for being so far away. It's been 24 hours since I got the panic button news. If I lived in any other place I've lived in my life, or even been to in my life, New Zealand excepted, I'd either be in Northern Ontario or near to it. But the only place I'm in at this point is a shitty city that I hate an eight-hour drive from my house, on the opposite side of the planet from where I'm aiming to go.

13: 9:15: Through security, I shop for presents for my younger relatives and do qi gong, since I know what lies ahead.

14: 11:15. The flight takes off on time. I'd ordered a veggie meal the day before but the caterers hadn't delivered it. A flight attendant showed me my name on their list and explained it was the caterer's fault, as if that was meant to make me less hungry. I eat pretzels, and I watch:

- A Dangerous Method
- Jack and Jill
- The Immortals
- J. Edgar
- Les femmes de sixieme etage
- The Ides of March
- The Swap, a short film about awkward swingers

They are all crap. LFDSE came closest to not being crap, but it was still crap. Masturbatory gross old French man fantasies about how a dewy young Spanish woman could come to love him masquerading as a romantic comedy. Crap. TIOM also could theoretically have avoided being crap, given that the performances were all quite good, but was hampered by one of those clever-17-year-old scripts that seem mandatory for 'intelligent' vanity projects. J. Edgar was poo on a stick; I need more than two hours of Leonardo di Caprio playing dress-up to think that a movie is worthwhile. The Immortals - look, I understand 95% of films made are highly formulaic, but I hope at least a film will make some effort to make its formula less evident, or palatable, or something . . . for heaven's sake . . . please.

Anyways, the films were all crap, and by the time I was done watching them, we still hadn't arrived in Vancouver. That's how far away eastern Australia is from western Canada. More than seven shitty movies distant. The voyage is through time too, as you fly over the international dateline, so when I arrive in Vancouver it's Australian Monday, but presently


7:25 am: Have you noticed that this is before I started the flight on Australian Sunday? Neat, eh? It's actually 14 hours later. The flight is theoretically a through one to Toronto, all on the same plane, but there's a two hour break where the passengers have to clear customs and re-check their bags, since we'll be arriving in Toronto's domestic terminal. I breeze through customs and past all the suckers waiting for their bags, and get some hash browns. They are fucking good hashbrowns. They are so fucking good that I linger over them more than I should.

8:30 am: I'm sweating it out in the security line, which suddenly got crowded; the Toronto flight leaves in half an hour. As my bags get checked, the guard finds my nice Swiss army knife in my purse; in my abstraction the day before (two days before?) I'd not checked to make sure it wasn't there, and apparently the security at the Sydney airport ain't too tight. There's no time to mail it to myself so I lose it. I'm momentarily perturbed - I'd had it for ten years, and it was a memento of the Bluebird chapter of my life, and as unedifying as that period was it's not easy to let go of such mementos. But as I rush to my gate, I realize that despite its many bells and whistles, in practical terms I could replace it by buying myself a nice new corkscrew, since in ten years that's all I'd ever used it for.

9:00 am: The plane for Toronto leaves. The flight is uneventful, except that I accidentally kick a guy in the nuts whilst getting out of my seat while he's standing in a way that I think was meant to be out of my way but was just really awkward. He goes "hee hee" in a really pained way in sort of doubles over, but doesn't fall or turn red, so I conclude it was a glancing blow, and he's just a bit shocked. Otherwise, I nap.

Canada is big: the flight takes five hours or so and we cross some time zones, and arrive in Toronto at

4:15 pm: Bang on time. The next plane to the town in Northern Ontario with the hospital is, however, delayed. I realize I'm gonna miss visiting hours at the hospital, which makes me sad, and I get some very poor Thai soup to console myself. I go down to my terminal at the appropriate time, and it being domestic there's a lot of doors casually opening and closing onto the tarmac. The air that comes in is cold. I check: it's fucking -27 degrees cold. When I left L___, it had been in the low thirties. I wonder if I should put on my long johns but don't.

7:35 pm: The final plane leaves. I'm sitting up front so at least I can stretch my legs out. The flight attendant won't let me use my e-reader on take off which annoys me because I'd just got to the bit of Dangerous Liasions where everything is going to shit.

8:24 pm: I get to Sudbury. Luke Duke and Elvis are waiting, and I'm over the moon to see them, especially since they're gonna smuggle me into the hospital.

9:17 pm (or around 1:17 pm on Monday in Australia, in case you're keeping track - a full two days and a bit since I started moving to get there): I get into Mum's room. She's awake. She looks like shit but still better than I'd been expecting and I hug her carefully around all the tubes. After some words of endearment, she tells me I was very silly to come all this way.

I smile and bite my tongue, successfully not saying "well, it was silly of you to get elective surgery with all its inherent risks of complications when you could have just switched from red wine to white wine instead." I'll save that one until she's feeling a little better.

domenica, marzo 04, 2012

Funny you should mention that

Speaking of emergency trips home to Canada: I'm on one. I don't want to get into it too far until I'm 100% sure the danger is passed, but suffice it to say it is now 48 hours since I heard the emergency news, and I left as soon as I could, and I'm still only in Toronto, destination Northern Ontario Hospital.

Fuck living in Australia, man. Fuck it.