venerdì, dicembre 27, 2013

Freedom isn't free

So I have an elementary degree of familiarity (can use a cab, order dinner and get myself to the hospital) in five languages; six if you count Spanish, which I hesitate to do since that's really just a big old cheat with the Italian, and yet I'd be a hell of a lot more comfortable if I suddenly woke up in darkest Spain tomorrow instead of darkest China, despite having buggered my brains out over Chinese for years. Anyways, out of all of them, English is the only one that uses the same adjective for "without cost" and "at liberty". It's not a linguistic group thing either; German has "costenlos" and "frei".

I'm sure there's some conclusion to be drawn there, about some sort of bizarrely culturally specific Anglo notion of the essence of liberty being that someone doesn't have a price tag attached, which either makes Anglo notions super-mercantile or super-anti-mercantile. Or maybe not. Maybe somebody reading knows some languages that aren't Chinese, French, Italian/Spanish, and German wherein there's a word like "free" that means both things and I'm just full of shit.

Christmas with the F-word's father drove me around the fucking bend.  I just keep ending up back here. Except more so. And I have to not talk about it with the F-word anymore because the F-word is angrier than I am, with reason, and I don't need to dump any more of my anger on to him. Although when his father closed the car door on my arm I did scream for a bit. Thank god we're back in Melbourne. 

giovedì, dicembre 19, 2013

Relative time and feelings

Dear oh dear, Christmas is depressing here, with the heat and the cultural vaccuum and the lack of my family. We're closer to the F-word's family, which frankly makes it worse. His father and stepfather nearly broke up a few weeks ago, which will make the Christmas dinner a rip-roaring good time this year. It's frightening when people of a certain age stay with partners I assume are far more trouble than they're worth - if I was the F-word's stepfather, I would have been out of there years ago; how could solitude be any worse than having a, well, a bit of a massive douchebag for a partner? Does the spectre of solitude get so frightening as you age that you tolerate being served spaghetti shittingnese every night until one or the other of you is carted off to the old age home or the grave? What a dreadful thought.

I can't answer those questions, lucky me. I've never had to choose between a douchebag and solitude as a gay man in my mid-fifties. As a straight woman in her mid-twenties, which is the last time the choice presented itself, it was a no-brainer. Though in retrospect it did take a good half-year, maybe more, to pull a trigger I knew full well needed pulling. Maybe that's what really changes over the decades - maybe it's not that you develop a need for companionship at any cost when your senior years become visible over the horizon.

Maybe in fact the reality is that time moves a lot faster when you're in your fifties, and before you know it the death-throes of a relationship that would only last a few months in your youth stretch out to years, and you don't really notice because you're so much busier than a person in thier mid-twenties; work, kids, grandkids, some big stupid fucking house to take care of, some massive fucking jerk-off lawn to mow, increasing health problems, your own slow physical deterioration, etc. etc. I'm also guessing that kids change your emotional outlook a lot; I've been lucky to have a lot of love all my life, but my feelings for Godzila make everything else look a little grade-school, so maybe when you have a bunch of kids and grandkids you just don't spend as much time thinking about your own unhappiness and how to remedy it.

I don't know. I'll talk to the F-word's stepfather and get back to you.

domenica, dicembre 08, 2013

Emotional arson

I looked at my grandparents' home on Google Maps today. It's still there, for the moment. Like a ghost. Of course I had a look at where my grandmother's bedroom window was to see if I could see her ghost too but I couldn't. She was in the nursing home for a fair few months before she died, which was more than a year ago now, and before that she generally wasn't up to staring out the window at that beautiful, pastoral changeless scheme - owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and zoned for never developing. It will look like that long after I'm gone myself even if I live to a hundred, like she did. Unless the English grow their balls back. It's possible. Stranger things have happened, right?

I've been thinking about her and that house a lot because I dreamt a week or so ago that I was there partway through the renovations by the new owners - looking a new staircase they'd had put in, having a last gander at that excellent value, excellent quality but ELECTRIC ORANGE carpet they must have got a deal on back in the sixties, basically disapproving horribly of all the changes. I thought to myself, "the fire hasn't happened yet," and then realized that was because I hadn't set it yet.

It gave me a very funny feeling when I woke up, because there is a part of me that is absolutely persuaded that somehow Granny burnt that house down several months after her death. And another part of me is persuaded that out of all of us, I'm the closest thing to her, despite or because of all the negatives in her character, and certainly because of her absolutely depressive personality.

And yet I continue to not be depressed. Never say never but I haven't had a bout of crippling or extended depression for ten years now - I just turned 35 and the last one ended before I turned 25, I'm pretty sure. That's a very long run. And I can try to take credit for that by mentally congratulating myself for those years of psychoanalysis, all that physical exercise, efforts to be conscious about self-actualization since the psychoanalysis ended, comparatively daring life-choices in an effort to be true to oneself, etc - or luck in the sense of finding someone I love who I don't have to compromise much for at all, being eligible for a tonne of passports, lucking out in the job I've been working at for the past six or seven years, blah blah blah.

But the truth is without Granny I would have had no idea how to address being a depressive person. Without this baffling woman in my life, I would have had no idea how to start even trying to deal with myself. I wish I could thank her for that.

mercoledì, dicembre 04, 2013


Godzilla really looks a lot more like the F-word than like me . . . but when he watches Peppa Pig, I can't stop seeing myself as a teenager, whacked out on mushrooms for the first time and watching Planet of the Apes.

martedì, novembre 26, 2013

Elder care

It's always easy to see what other people are doing wrong. No, that's not true. It's often easy to see what other people are doing wrong. Sometimes people are really fucking doing things wrong all over the fucking place, one big fucksplosion of FUBAR all over their fucking selves, with backdrafts and stray bullets of fucktardation washing over those close to them.

And you realize it's pathological - they are fucking up because something deep inside them, some integral part of themselves, deeply wants to fuck themselves up, and the people close to them are just collateral damage. You can look at it, and say "this fellow is acting out, self-sabotaging, because of this and that trauma, this and that terrible parental modelling, this and that trained self-loathing", and while you can't really understand because the trauma is so outside of your own experience, you can get it. You can get that this person is fucked up, and isn't a big fucking cyclone of fuckery for the sake of being an asshole, but because they can't help it.

But you know what? When the foundations of your metaphorical house are groaning as the winds of a metaphorical fuckstorm this fuckwit has whipped up whistle around the windows, the fact that they can't help it is about as useful to recall as the fact that a non-metaphorical storm can't help fucking up everything in its path while your roof is blowing off.

And for the first time I really understand all those villain types who struggle to get power of attorney away from the plucky-if-grumpy elder hero. I'm now being forced to wonder how many of those villains are too anxious to get their hands on their inheritance to wait for the old fucker to die, and how many are just deathly scared that the pathological financial irresponsibility of the plucky grumpy elder will entail massive costs for the villain and the villain's spouse and children when the elder runs through every penny his assets are worth, every bit of credit available to him, doesn't declare bankruptcy out of some fucked up sense of pride, has to be supported in a reasonably comfortable manner by the villain because that villain isn't a complete asshole, and leaves the villain inheritable debt.

I realize, generationally, I am about as alone in my fears as a teardrop in the ocean. Welcome to the twilight years of the baby boomers. Those miserable, overentitled fuckers. Not to a man, or woman, obviously. There are lots of lovely ones. But that cunts sure do stick out like sore thumbs.

sabato, novembre 23, 2013

Bringing home the hauntingly painted bacon

The F-word's exhibition opened really strong out of the gate - sold seven paintings during the wine-and-cheese do. SEVEN. My hope had been four - maybe eventually seven during the full three weeks it's running to cover the cost of the exhibition - what with the economy being what it is. Instead he covered his costs in the first two hours. That is a fucking awesome result. Remind me to be nicer to him from now on since he might outearn me someday. Maybe let him put some shoes on from time to time and get out of the kitchen. He'd sold a couple of things already up in NSW but they were at mixed galleries - to get such a result out of his first dedicated show - I'm very pleased for him.

It was an interesting experience as I'd never actually been to an art show opening before. It's a social occasion to a large extent, yes, but there are some people who are really there to buy. Mailing list types, I guess, who go in there with a buddy and shop hard, like normal people shop for shoes or clothes, or, you know, whatever it is guys shop for now that people don't use CDs anymore. Whisks? Aprons?

I can see it. If you are actually into your house being an interesting space with walls that do more than keep the cold out (not me) and if you aren't already an artist producing enough to cover your own damn walls (not the F-word) it'd be a really fun thing to shop for. It seems like an expensive habit but if you're earning a decent wage and just buying one painting every other month (you'd need a hell of a house and store-room for more than that) it's cheaper than many other shopping habits.

And in the case of first-time exhibitions before an artist has established a market and before the artist and the gallery owner has really figured out how to price things, it'd be such a ripe and exciting way to find bargains. There was one painting the F-word sold that I think was underpriced by at least $200, probably closer to $400, even by the standards of an artist's first show. It was a little below mid-size and priced more for size than for content, as it was one of the more accomplished paintings - probably the third-best painting in the exhibition. I know the people who bought it and they aren't bargain hunters; they would have bought it just for its looks. Which is nice.

But my mercantile mind goes where it goes. It's not even a question of buying something for its potential to appreciate; it's just I know this painting as a work of craftsmanship is worth a good bit more than it was priced at. Which sort of mindset is right and fitting for the wife of an artist - anybody who thinks that mercantilism and painting don't go together has not been paying attention to the last 4,000 years.

domenica, novembre 10, 2013

Reading list

The F-word is getting ready for his first exhibition in about two weeks' time. Inbox me for the info, if you wish, although I think I have precisely zero Victorian readers - insert mandatory joke about cultural prudishness here - and then insert joke about verb "insert" in the context of discussion of prudishness.

And I'm just trying to seize what downtime the boy leaves me to enjoy reading books before starting with languages again - German will get underway in mid January. If that sentence sounds whiny, i shouldn't. The boy gives me a fair bit of downtime, especially now that he's started having one uber-nap instead of three micro-naps every day. But I'm disproportionately upset about having got into The Lacuna, a Barbara Kingsolver book. 50 pages in I felt like it was seriously overwritten but I kept going because of the mother-child relationship making it reasonably interesting; 300 pages in I started suspecting I was wasting my precious time on what was less of a story and more a collection of quite nice, let it be said, sentences and descriptive passages. Once I saw the narrator safely off to Asheville and no longer gave even a fraction of a fuck, I gave up. Not something I usually do at that point. So given the lack of time I suffer from, and given it was a reccommendation that wouldn't have crossed my desk otherwise, I'm miffed.

When we were packing in L____ I made myself up a box of books I had that I wanted to read in Melbourne. Hard for me to gauge what I'm going to be able to get through in the 20 to 22 months left to us in Australia, what with the boy and language studies, but there's always the library here, which is quite good and where I got that Kingsolver waste of time. First book outta there after ditching it was Oliver Sacks' Island of the Colour Blind. I have a real weakness for him. I don't know if he's my favourite pop science writer, but he's certainly the one I like best who's most prolific, and I'd have read even more of his stuff if airport bookstores stocked more of it - it's perfect for that. Anyways, this book feels like a bit of a departure from the rest of his that I've read. He's writing about someone else's party - clusters of disorders, genetic conditions, or mysterious ailments in Pacific islands that other people are studying, mostly, but he got to go look at. It's tota

mercoledì, novembre 06, 2013

When I was younger, so much younger than today, I didn't have so many people working for me

Maybe I caught some sort of virus in India but it looks as though I've become dependent on having people working for me in the house.

No more cleaning lady, though the one we had in L_____ was a fascinating sociological experience. She was doing cashwork for us and people like us, and eventually let it be known she was also collecting the reasonably generous benefits the Australian government provides for unemployed single mothers, but DAMN could she ever rip into aboriginal people for wroughting the benefits system. She'd really get going about aboriginal people sometimes. Told me the same story five or six times about how some aboriginal lady asked her to watch a $20 note for her and then started screaming at her later in the evening, claiming it had been a $50 note. I guess she evened things out in the karmic scheme of things by not showing up for our final houseclean with ten minutes notice (luckily the agency our agents suggested had a free afternoon), keeping an extension cord she'd "borrowed" from us and $20 I'd overpaid previously. Much good may they do that poor dropkick. All the wroughting she could manage, and yet was barely keeping her head above water, financially and emotionally . . .

So hard to get good help these days. 

Incidentally, and I don't know if I've written about this before, many white Australians can really rip into aboriginal people here for things that, well, characterize white Australians quite a bit of time. I don't have time today to really get into the use of aborigines as paranoid objects by white Australians despite the home help I'll describe in a moment. But to be brief, the image of aborigines a broad cross-section of white Australians of varying sociological classes has presented to me, once it got comfortable enough with me to imagine I wouldn't be too judgy, (hah!) is of lazy, unreliable, sloppy drunks who rip off the government and anybody else they can manage. Well . . . yeah. Ebony and ivory, baby, you're all a bunch of fucking keys, apparently. I only met a few aboriginal people up in L_____. They all seemed fine. Maybe slightly more friendly than the white people, which is saying very little indeed, bunch of fucked-up, home-is-my-castle, atomized, mumbling mangiacakes. Quite a few aboriginal families in our old neighborhood and they never really stood out, besides the blackness. Slightly more nasal accent. Seems unlikely I'll meet many more. I haven't seen a single person I would have guessed is aboriginal in Melbourne. 

Anyways. Back to help in the home. We hired a gardener in L_____ to look after the property. Big part of why we moved, actually. I wouldn't have been able to excuse hiring a gardener for a property we were living in - only an income property - but even before the baby was born we weren't keeping on top of that massive beast. Buying a 1,200 m2 property in the subtropics was a pretty stupid way of discovering I don't actually like gardening.

And now that the F-word is working fullish time we've needed to address the childcare issue and we've done that by hiring an Italian girl to come and play with Godzilla during the afternoons, while I work. Lots of fun for him and good for me too, since I was really not ready to put him in even a nice family daycare. We're paying her enough to motivate her to like the job but since it's just afternoons it's still cheaper than family daycare. And it does the trick for me, what with the Chinese workday not starting until noon here - gives Godzilla and me time to have a little fun together in the mornings.

Linguistically we're hoping for the best too. The F-word is only talking to Godzilla in Italian still and with S_____, who only got to Melbourne ten days ago and doesn't seem to speak a word of English, having a good time with him, maybe he'll be handy enough to play with his cousins and pick up Romance languages fairly easily in the future.

I hope we're doing right by him. Planning our next trip to Europe for next September, when we'll do the family interviews at the German waldkindergartens - he won't even be three yet when he starts, if things go to plan. My gut instinct was to do with German what we're doing with Italian now, to make things easier for him when we arrive. But given my German is practically non-existent and the F-word's limited to aphorisms and swearwords, that's not really possible. And if Godzilla can get his foot in the door with Romance languages it probably opens more future avenues up.

Decisions, decisions. At least German kindergarten lasts a long time and there won't really be academic expectations of any kind for him until he's seven or so . . . gives him a good four years to get used to the new language through play.

domenica, ottobre 27, 2013

Merry October

Until I moved to Australia, I never appreciated how important Halloween and Thanksgiving were for keeping Christmas shit out of the shops in North America. While we were in the small towns up north - L____ and the F-word's hometown, Shepparton (which ranks third in the dump factor in the "Dumps I've Slept In" competition after Reggio Calabria and Delhi without having any of the charms of either, or any of the charms of anything else for that matter) - the streets were already rife with Christmas merchandise. It was bad. It was annoying. It was a headfuck.

And do you know what? It's over. Now, I don't know if I'm a city person, or just not a small-Australian-town person, but I feel like someone has taken my head out of a vice. Suddenly there is a social and civic culture that is producing things besides Christmas merchandising and decorations in early fucking October. There are things happening besides domesticated half-hearted hippies talking about what dishwasher they're gonna buy for the house they spend waaaaaaaaaay too much fucking time talking about* while they drink overpriced coffee in an overpriced restaurant where there are no good cheeses. There are parks and playgrounds, which are used and full of kids, because not everyone is sheltering in their backyards. There are galleries. There are botanical gardens. There are people everywhere, which Godzilla - heaven knows where he gets his gregariousness from - is thrilled about. There aren't mosquitoes, or biting ants fucking EVERYWHERE. And the restaurants . . . and the food shops . . .

So anyways, just a note to say I don't have much to bitch about at the moment.

*However, people in Melbourne, even more so than people in the other larger cities I've lived in, spend a MASSIVE amount of time talking about neighborhoods. Nobody likes ours, which is cheap. The ones people like are expensive, and I can't tell the difference between them. Money can be a hell of a homogenizer.

venerdì, ottobre 18, 2013

Misanthropy at bay

Well, here we are in Victoria. Staying with my father-in-law over the weekend since we don't move into the new place until Wednesday and even cheap hotels are expensive in Melbourne. I'd say all the hard bits - like a three-day drive south, packing and getting the house clean after finding tenants, and finding a new place to live - are all done.

Wednesday we signed for the new place, after Godzilla and I spent the day in our new neighborhood, Reservoir, eating at local restaurants, playing in the playground and quizzing other parents and children about the area - well, I quizzed, Godzilla touched their hair. It looks great. I mean the IGA down the street alone shits all over L______ in terms of lifestyle. It's probably the most woptastic neighbourhood in Melbourne, which as far as I'm concerned is great, and 80% of everybody who isn't a wop looks to be some other kind of non-caker. That's how you find the neighborhoods with the good food - the ones where the freshest immigrants can still afford to live. Not that we chose Reservoir for lifestyle on purpose. After a process of elimination based on relative safety, being in the cheap inner public transport zone, and still being in our budget (rent income from the L____ house minus agent's commission minus gardening costs), that pretty much left Reservoir. Still, I'm pleased.

I wonder both when and if I'll miss L_____. I expect I'll miss the house soon. The F-word is already feeling odd about how different people are living there - I'm just glad they're paying rent I consider exorbiant. As far as the town itself goes . . . you know how recent memory can occur - almost like looping film as though your brain is processing no longer being in a place and carrying out normal routines? And while there's usually something rather sweet or wistful about that, everytime my L_____ loop plays and I cue myself up to feel sweet or wistful, since it WAS beautiful, what with the plants and the birds - I realize the loops are empty. There's nobody in them.

That's not to say I wasn't fond of people there and don't have fond memories of people there but the memory loops are so devoid of people. Just walks on empty streets to and from the grocery store and runs in sports fields, as I did for hours and hours, with no fucking people in them. Frankly, it's creepy. Nearly post-apocalyptic. But that's pretty much how it was, since everybody was in a car all the time. I could walk all the way from our house to the town center, a good half-hour, without seeing more than one or two other people on foot.

My brain my be processing the difference with Melbourne, which is so full of people walking around. People using the parks, people using the sidewalks, people using the trains and trams. I'm sure at some point my misanthropy will kick in and I'll be sick of the sight of them. But for the moment it's just such a relief. Like waking up from an unsettling dream. If you have to live in a country at the end of the world I guess it's better to do it with a few million other people.

martedì, ottobre 08, 2013

Bye bye Brisbane

Just back from a ventiquattrore to Brisbane, for no other reason than we'll probably never go to Brisbane again. We'll be back here of course, to see to things about the house, but will probably be in and out of the Gold Coast for that. Which is a shame, because I fucking hate the Gold Coast, and I'm quite fond of Brisbane. I wondered during our little shindig what would be happening right now if we had moved there instead of L____. Probably pretty much the same thing as is happening now, but with more second thoughts.

The weather is just so constantly perfect in Brisbane whenever there aren't catastrophic and lethal floods, and it's big enough and has enough immigrants to be worth the time of day. And then there's the GOMA. I've enthused about it before on here. I love it, and every time we go - I reckon we've been five or six times over the last three years - I find something that touches me deeply, which is remarkable for a modern art gallery combined with a philistine grump like me, who reckons pretty much everything is crap.

This time it was the video installation Angelica Mesiti put together, Citizens Band.  Beautiful. I mean it won by having throat singing, first of all. Throat singing is one of those things for me . . . if I had massive, stupid money - I mean, more interest on my capital than an average yearly salary - I'd take a few years of my life and go off to northeast Asia and learn how to throat sing. So right away, it won. But then the way it was put together spoke to me so much as an immigrant. Especially with the bits from Paris. And then there was this sort of thing, which I had no idea was even a thing. Of course it was the four musicians involved who made it great but it worked very well as a video installation according to the artist's intentions as far as I could understand them.

domenica, ottobre 06, 2013

This way out

We're leaving for Victoria on Thursday. Possibly we're jumping the gun, but possibly we've dallied too long . . . one of those frustratingly unresolved things. There's a verbal agreement for a tenant for the house to take possession ASAP, and the F-word is 90% sure he's getting a job offer that starts in Melbourne in a week. Nothing set in stone yet. But we've got to go - he has to prepare his exhibition, that starts in a month, and I, personally, am simply ready to stop sitting here twiddling my thumbs. The sooner we get to Victoria the sooner we can find a place to rent in Melbourne and the sooner I won't be living with the F-word's father in the sticks (and the sticks of Victoria is the sort of stick that makes you want to poke your own brain out). And I'm really excited at the prospect of Melbourne. I like it quite a bit from what I know of it.

Reckoning on what I'll miss here. I suppose the colours would top the list. The colours and the birds, which overlap quite a lot, what with all the lovely rosellas and lorrikeets. Such a range of vivid greens, even now, while we're semi-officially droughting. Such a pleasure to see the sun rising over a low blue mist and multi-hued hills here of a morning, if you sort of tune out the disgustingly ugly houses. And there are so many flowers. The jacarandas are flowering again at the moment and I'm pleasantly surprised we get a last few days of enjoyment of that, though I think they have jacarandas down south too. Last year they didn't flower until December and January. The introduced tree species get so confused here - in Northern Rivers at least and much of the rest of the country as well, I believe, you don't have a predictable season cycle at all. Out of the three years or so we've been here there hasn't been the same year twice, if you know what I mean. And everybody talks about it like that's really weird. I suppose they've inherited that ability to be consistently shocked by weather unpredictability from the British, along with their fixation on home ownership and violent drunkenness.

For all that snarking I'm going to miss some people too. My neighbours, a few good friends. Well, only two in my case, but the F-word's a lot more tolerant of other people. And yesterday we went to Byron Bay after passing a gallery where the F-word had sold a painting (for lots of money! Yay!) and called up a couple who we'd met a few months back, before Canada, to buy some baby stuff from. We'd hit it off a lot at the time, Italian paterfamilias and highly-paid-work-from-home-mum like me - lots in common (though I'm guessing from the size of their house and the fact it's in Byron Bay, the main thing we'd have in common income wise would be the same figure but with an extra zero). But life intervened; we haven't got to Byron much, we'd been busy, and their paterfamilias's car was stolen with his cellphone and F-word's number in it, so we never met up again, until yesterday. We had a great time. It makes sense. They're among the first people we've met here who are in a situation, professionally, financially, and educationally, that's anything like ours. And the only other two we've met are the two good friends I'm going to miss.

I understand that makes me sound like a snob but I can live with that. When we first headed here the F-word warned me I was going to find that people weren't going to be that interested in books and the world and whatnot. I thought that'd be fine, I'd just get interested in the crap they were interested in, like gardening or rugby or whatever. That was flat out dumb of me.

Anyways, I think my Northern Rivers experience would have been a lot better if we'd been living in a different town. But then we would be cash-strapped and worrying about money now, instead of having lots of padding to let this move to Victoria go pretty smoothly even if the F-word doesn't get this job that starts Monday, or if the tenant changes his mind at the last second.

martedì, settembre 24, 2013

(Smashed with a) poker face

So, we are closer to getting on our way. There are a couple of applications for the house. I'm starting to hope we'll have a contract signed by the end of the week. We'll see. Getting impatient. Or antsy. Or something. One thing definitely - sick of L____.

I guess I've been showing it to people here though I haven't meant to - guessing that on the basis that some of them seem to be taking our decision to leave personally in a way that I hadn't expected. Offended on behalf of their town, I guess. Now, as a rule I save my vitriol for this blog and for close friends who seem to enjoy it - I've never launched into what a ripoff dirty hippie roach infested dump L____ is to people who are actually living here. Except my Pilates instructor, who's also not from here, and with whom I'll have the odd bitch-off about how much we fucking hate this place. So my guess is the people taking our decision personally in some weird way are wildly projecting their own internal questioning about what the fuck they're doing here too.

It's an easy answer. In each case the lady half of the couple is from here. Also in each case the lady half of the couple is from a dirty hippie bullshit family who's giving her zero support. And the gentlemen's families who are elsewhere and far from perfect, of course, are at least not dirty hippies and are ready and willing to give lots of support. There's that tension already, and then you combine that with rental prices being so inflated here that we don't even need to know what negative gearing is, they must be doing some serious internal questioning about why they're servicing these mammoth mortgages they've got just to live in a glorified roach-hole.

And you know what? Now that I'm writing it all down - maybe they're right to be personally offended. I've met some lovely people in our time here. I'm close to my neighbours in a warm and friendly way that I've never been before. Some people who we've met here I hope will be lifelong friends. But at the same time I've never spent so much social time with so many people who bore my fucking tits off.

All these single-income families with mothers who are staying at home not because they want to but because it's the fucking Waldorf holistic thing to do, whose brains have consequently turned to mush. All these fucking homeopaths and naturopaths and other quacks cashing in hand over fist on the undeniable fact that most the doctors who are desperate enough to work in a fucking little podunk town like this are shitty listeners, and usually shitty practitioners in most other ways too. All these fucking cashed up New Age dickheads who make fun of hipsters because they're too old and rural to be hipsters themselves, with their unvaccinated children coughing up their lungs and spreading measles around their fucking private yoga gradeschools. All these fucking representatives of the modern bourgeoisie with their kids' teeth rotting out because they've successfully campaigned against fluoride in the town water. But at least their brains aren't being fluoridishly controlled by The Man while they spend $8 on a small envelope of fucking organic pre-seasoned lentils.

Fucking fuck, they're right to be personally offended, because the people who have been taking things personally are the people I have been least able to take for the last three fucking years but have still spent hours and hours and HOURS of precious fucking time with because of who they're married to or who they're mutual friends with or fucking WHATEVER. Oh, these fucking small town obligations to not shrug your shoulders and suggest they manufacture themselves a few relaxing orgasms . . .

I guess I'm less subtle than I think I am. 

Blessing counting

I have to keep reminding myself how lucky we are. The example that springs to mind is co-sleeping and not falling all over ourselves getting Godzilla on a sleeping schedual. He's fallen into a pretty natural one of three naps a day and a solid night, skipping the odd nap here and there, with no effort on our parts. It's a bit of a knee-jerk to raise an eyebrow - hmm - how many more body parts can I mix into this metaphor - and wonder why other parents fall all over themselves making super efforts to get their kids sleeping predictably. The answer is pretty simple when I stop thinking about it like an overentitled asshole, of course, which is we didn't have to get Godzilla on a schedual, and the fact that we were relaxed probably helped him get on a schedual as fast as babies stressed out parents try super-hard with.

But my goodness, it would be sad if we weren't co-sleeping. No matter how ratty he is during the day (and to be fair, his "ratty" is still pretty good) that time at night when we're cuddled up, and he's all peaceful and making cute little sleeping baby sounds, is always adorable. It's basically eleven extra hours of bonding that parents don't get when they keep their babies in nurseries. I do question the whole nursery concept in any case. I mean, in the six million years of human history, how many have we spent hiding our babies in a different cave when we go to sleep at night? Just seems like something you'd have to be bucking a lot of natural instincts to do.

It does mean you need a lot of other surfaces in the home that are good for having sex on, though. No card-tables-doubling-as-dining-room-tables or oversoft sofas here. Because while I'm sure that in the six million years of human history a lot of them spend it getting busy when they thought their children were sleeping peacefully, I'm just not going to do that.

martedì, settembre 10, 2013


We're getting ready to go. Maybe prematurely since we won't actually get on the road until either the F-word gets a contract in Melbourne - always a lot harder to do when you're not right there - or until we get tenants for the house. It's getting listed today.

We'll see how long it takes. It's a pretty nice house to be honest. I'm going to miss it. Not so much as the structure it is - though it's a remarkably good structure by the standards of this fucking burnt and jerry-built* land and I'll miss the lovely kitchen in it forever - we will DEFINITELY budget to custom-build the kitchen if we buy a place again. It is really worth it to buy a place cheap with a fucking terrible kitchen and then spend some of the money you didn't spend buying the house on getting a perfect kitchen. But then we had really good builders taking care of it and I'm sure having shitty builders would have changed the nature of the experience. Anyways. I hate talking about houses. How did I get stuck in this train of thought? Where was I? Right.

It's not the house I'm expecting to miss so much as the fact that it was the setting for Godzilla's babyhood, which is already winding to a close. Last week he was standing up without holding on to anything while he wasn't thinking about what he was doing - he was all excited about bathtime - and while he hasn't replicated that trick yet since then he's stopped seeming like a little baby to me. He's a kid already. Seems much more so a kid because he has this personality on him. It's the same personality he's always had, which frankly is a much more beautiful, open and smiling one than I would have expected from the child of two neurotic bridge trolls like us. He can just project it a lot better now through sounds and doing stuff. The last couple of weeks has also seen the beginning of tool use, at least in the sense of banging one thing against another to make good noises instead of just waving the one thing around randomly. Tool use - getting him toward the whole corvid level of intelligence. My lovely little boy.

Anyways, I'm not feeling terribly nostalgic for his lost babyhood because he's kinda better now and I expect will only get more and more fun for the next several years. Probably also helped along by the fact that, though this is an unpredictable world and I'm not as fresh a slab of meat as I once was, we are planning on doing the whole baby thing again. Possibly sooner rather than later now that Australia has voted a misogynist suited penis into power who clawed back the female vote by promising a maternity leave scheme which is far less insulting than the one presently extant. But I'm guessing it will be easier to be maudlin over Godzilla's lost babyhood once we've definitively left the house where I've spent many happy hours rocking him in the dapples of dusty Antipodean sunbeams during his sleepy pupae phase whilst watching Game of Thrones.

And I'll miss the neighborhood, but I'd miss it anyways, because it's not gonna be there. When we moved in, we had a lovely lady in her late 80s on the right side - she was the first non-us non-medical person to hold Godzilla - who keeled over and died all of a sudden a few months back. A young couple has since moved in, and while they seem nice we aren't used enough to them to miss them.

The 97 year old living on the left side is in hospital now. She loves Godzilla and doesn't have enough babies in town so we visit her every week. She wants to come home and I hope for her sake she does. People that old who go into nursing homes last about two weeks before they die in sheer self-defense at the scale of the change. But that'd mean installing a $27,000 elevator in the front of her house and I don't think her family will go for it. A shame. It's her money and what she wants. She should be able to make a big fucking bonfire with it if she wants. But it's not just the elevator, of course; she'd need round the clock in-home care, which if you do it right but don't do it for your parents yourself, costs about as much as moving into a five star hotel.

I've always thought I'd like to be able to die at leisure and take care of business before winking out, but comparing my two neighbours is starting to make me think the way the one on the right did it is the way to go.

 And then the fella two doors down who sort of adopted us, because he considered buying our house before we did and just couldn't let go of all his great renovation ideas, is moving too. So. There you are. We've been lucky with our neighbours, but they're all leaving one way or the other. It's almost like fate is conspiring to make us feel like we shouldn't let the door slap our asses on the way out.

*If that is some sort of ethnic slur I apologize to whomever I've insulted.

venerdì, agosto 30, 2013

Expunging the record

Done my Chinese. More importantly, passed Chinese. Well, I would have been pretty pissed off if I hadn't after all the work I put into it, but maybe not very surprised. Anyways, not only did I pass Chinese (with flying colours since it was at an Australian university and all you have to do to get bumped up the curve is breathe through your nose), but that pass marks the end of my Asian studies certificate, which means I could put it on my CV, which means I could delete the last bullshit job I still had on my CV to make the space look good.

It was working at a language school in northern Italy, and when I say working I mean getting high all the time and having sex with everybody who looked nice. I daresay I wasn't the worst teacher in the school but then when you're working in ESL with British people abroad in their twenties all you have to do to get bumped up the curve is not throw up on yourself in class. I left on bad terms, both with the school's administration and socially. There are a lot of places for women to go through their let's-spread-this-around-and-see-what-happens stage, but a smallish city in Italy probably isn't one of them. That town should have taught me all I need to know about why living in smallish cities isn't for me, and yet here my family is, feverishly moving out of L______ after spending way more time here than it deserves.

I had a great time in the Italian place, don't get me wrong, but it didn't belong on a really awesome grownup resume, which is what I've got now. Seriously, it's beautiful. Not one fib, not one thing that's not relevant to whatever I might want to do next. Beautiful resume. Really beautiful. I would totally hire myself, reading it. It's like that feeling you get when you're looking really terrific, glance in the mirror, and realize that all things being equal you'd totally make a pass at yourself.

Speaking of the let's-spread-this-around-and-see-what-happens stage, not to use her name or anything because I don't want to be one of those people internet-trafficking in her, but what the fuck. If somebody spends her adolescence getting whored out to Disney by her parents, she's going to grow up acting like a whore. I don't know why everybody has saved up their impatience and disgust for when she actually starts demonstrating some (albeit pathetic) agency when we all know what happens to 80% of child stars and the strongest reaction to her as a child star was that she was sorta annoying. Not that her parents were flogging her out. Not that it's disgusting and unnatural for a child to have been in that position with that sort of attention for so many years. Not that there's something absolutely repellent now in terms of a generation of weirdo mothers being up in arms about how they or their children are somehow owed some standard of behaviour from a girl whose parents made her star in a franchise that the parents of America used a totally inappropriate babysitter for their own daughters.

What the fuck.

mercoledì, agosto 21, 2013

Out of my element

Home again home again pukety jig. Can't pretend to be a bit happy about it. No matter how psychologically over buttered it is in Canada, it beats the loneliness and boredom here. And of course Godzilla just drives that home. How dare I raise him on the opposite side of the planet from so many people who love him?

Well, we're moving to Melbourne as a sort of stop-gap measure pretty much as soon as we can get this house rented out, and that's something. Yesterday I realized that if we stay here it's just a matter of time until I go full-on Madame Bovary. Squalid and stupid as all that sort of thing is, I think loneliness and boredom are the sort of drivers that make you stop caring that it's stupid and squalid. They're poisonous.

Speaking of, I'm really enjoying how breastfeeding and the consequent 80% drop in my sex drive is giving me a sort of objective, out-of-body perspective on the whole institution of sex. It all seems so deadly important until you don't care. Incidentally I think that sort of attitude makes Madame Bovary shit more rather than less possible.

sabato, agosto 03, 2013

Le mot injuste

Today I felt a feeling that I haven't felt in years and years. It's that feeling which is shared between the experiences of getting dumped, dumping someone, someone dying, and saying goodbye to loved ones when you first set off on a big trip. You know that one feeling I mean? Not the big awful grief of death, not heartbreak. Heartache, I guess. There's probably a better and more specific word for it in some language I don't know yet. I think REM called it losing your religion once upon a time. I used to love and respect the person I'm upset with at the moment so much and now I'm just down to love. That's hard for me. I have so little respect for anything, respect is a scarce commodity in my consciousness, and it turns out it's horribly difficult to let go of the dribs and drabs I've clung on to over the years.

(Monster of selfishness exhibit one: his son is so victimized by his behaviour and I know I should be feeling, if anything, sympathy for his son, but right at the moment the strongest thing I feel about the situation is ashamed.)

Well, be that as it may, today Godzilla waved at his uncle Elvis. And then at me. And then at everybody who waved at him first. I feel like he entered the human race today. Which made up for the losing the religion. It made up for the fact some poor little 18 year old rear-ended us at a red light this morning and then burst into tears. It made up for the fucking cretinous fruit plucked by the F-word yesterday or the day before or whenever it was. My son is officially a little person who communicates.

giovedì, agosto 01, 2013

Running away from my problems

So today, the F-word did something - and I write this in love and respect - cretinous. Or rather, he didn't do it today, but today the thing he did some time ago bore its cretinous, cretinous fruit. Nothing too interesting - no sex, no crime, no bloodshed - an honest, if fucking enormous and insanely cretinous mistake, which he apologized for whole-heartedly as soon as its extent became clear. But I came as close as I come to hitting the wall - very close indeed - as this cretinous news was laid on me on top of a bad night's sleep with a restless Godzilla, deadlines, and a last desperate push to finish the coursework for Chinese class while my parents are still around Shanghaiing Godzilla daily - we're leaving their house on Tuesday.

Anyways, I didn't hit the wall, and I went for a run instead. A good, angry run, that lasted an hour, and gave me time and the chemicals to let go of my utter fury and contextualize the problem in the greater scheme of our shared life, which made it seem small indeed - and indeed, I hope it is. So all's well. Ish.

But it got me thinking about something I've been pondering since Godzilla was born: how the hell do new mothers who don't have time to exercise not lose their minds? How do mothers whose professional and emotional lives don't permit them to break an aerobic sweat daily not fucking kill everybody ever? How do you deal with this much exhaustion, this much responsibility and concern, this much bending, lifting, and twisting while a beautiful 25 pound sack of awesome clambers all over you, without having an opportunity to run around a bunch and keep your energy even? I have no fucking idea. I really don't. People are amazing.

giovedì, luglio 25, 2013

Mmmm, salami

So there's a lovely episode (as if there are any other kind) of Yes, Prime Minister wherein the PM comes to understand that he will never be able to use the nuclear deterrent; his opponents will never give him a reason to because they will use salami tactics.  Being "home" again as I am, I'm understanding that a little too well; Magnum is a bit of a shit-disturber when he's buzzed (which he generally is) which is supposed to be okay - I'm used to it. Why change a 34 year track record now?

The problem is that I've reached a stage of life where I'm not just critical of his choices, but I know they were bad ones, and I'm frustrated by his refusal to address them. Also, as the mother of an eight month old Godzilla I've reached a stage of life where I don't get very much sleep and my temper is rather frayed.

So when he teases me for being grumpy or snippy or whatever else - which I know I am and always have been, not only when exhausted - it's getting hard to accept the slices of salami coming off while I sit on all the nukes in my closet, and not bark out the sort of potentially devastating shit we just don't say here, like "I didn't know drunk absentee fathers who combine misogynism with being totally whipped by his much younger wife knew big words like 'truculent'."

This is the problem with the nuclear deterrent, isn't it? Either you can't use it because you're not a total fucking asshole so it's a huge waste of money, or you'd only use it because you're crazy. With exhaustion, in my case. You can't use them tactically, really. They're just big, tragic, awful dangerous things sitting there and making everybody who thinks about them depressed.

Anyways, I'm taking his son jet-skiing tomorrow, maybe that will fix it.

giovedì, luglio 11, 2013


Back on the Chinese, for the last time - work won't pay for any more courses after this one - they've probably figured out I'm not likely to be moving to China -  and it's the last in my Asian Studies cert, and I've got no more fucking time and desire to do another, Godzilla being with us and much, much more fun.

It would be an exaggeration to say it's going well. It's going - that's all I can say for it at the moment. Made possible ONLY by the offices of Granny and Nonno shanghai-ing the boy at every opportunity during this visit. I couldn't be doing this without their help. And I don't feel too bad about it; they are cashing in a tonne of time with him. My father won't come see us in Australia; the next time they see each other, Godzilla is going to be walking, talking; a totally different person in a lot of respects. Better they bank all the baby time now since it'll be mostly over when we're next back.

I'm not doing as well with the Chinese as Godzilla is at becoming a member of broader society but the a-ha moments and established knowledge that are coming on (mostly thanks to a lovely, lovely flashcard programme called Anki) do make me wonder if this is a little like what his brain must be like - sudden connections and clarities in terms of dealing with the rest of us, that are not at all permanently established, and that get confused and ultimately frustrating when he's tired. Without the deadlines, of course, and he's not paying tuition either. Or having work pay it. And he gets a lot more kisses and cuddles. 

giovedì, luglio 04, 2013

There is a Thing happening at the moment.

Well, it's been happening for years but I can go weeks without thinking about it while I'm abroad; when I come back here it comes into sharp relief. Heartbreaking shit. You know. The sort that involves a kid and his dad and some really poor parental decisions. It was always heartbreaking and now that I have a Godzilla it's so heartbreaking that it's actually giving me the shits, because of all that maternal instinct newly present in my bosom.

(As an aside. I'm always fascinated by the physical symptoms of stress, probably because I don't have a lot of stress so I can take an academic attitude toward it. Isn't it interesting? Hard thing to measure but the statistical negative health impacts are compelling. Makes cigarettes look like apples.  And I'm eternally grateful that I get the shits when I'm stressed, and not, say, getting the opposite. Or sleeplessness, or eczema, or whatever. I knew this one girl who would lose her hair almost in clumps around exam time.  But abstract thinking about stress and poo is probably a blog post for another time.)

So I will just trot a bit of a cri de coeur about how fucking terrible it is that parents will make their children pay for the other parent's mistakes or misdeeds, more or less on a conscious level. I mean, in degrees of blame or culpability, I know a lot of justifiable victimized feelings float around, particularly when the pregnancy was unplanned, or possibly even underhandedly planned, and with a partner who it was obviously not going to work out with. But seriously, the child is not even on the fucking continuum of blame or culpability. And yet ultimately, if you just walk away feeling bad for yourself he's the one who pays, and for the rest of his life, even if you're feeling all fucking victimized because a bunch of years ago you stuck your dick in a nasty bitch who turned out to be batshit crazy.

I take a huge amount of comfort these days looking at the F-word, and knowing that even if he really pissed me off one day and I tried to take an axe to him, there's no way he'd abandon Godzilla*. He would fight me tooth and nail in the courts and he would tolerate whatever batshit craziness to make sure that he was part of Godzilla's life; indeed, the more batshit crazy I was, he'd fight all the harder to have and maintain custody because YOU DON'T FUCKING LEAVE YOUR KID WITH A BATSHIT CRAZY PERSON, DO YOU?

* If he survived of course. I'm pretty handy with an axe.

sabato, giugno 29, 2013

We were all babies once

And as much as I hate to admit it, most of us were probably on the same continuum of adorable as Godzilla. What happens to us? How is it we can go from being so protected to so wounded?

Of course I know not all little babies are as protected as Godzilla even if they were adorable. I try not to think about it. It's a recipe for futile heartbreak. But sometimes you meet people who it's too brutally obvious didn't get the protection they needed. Alcohol is a helluva drug.

Coming back to Canada is always a little too psychologically over buttered. Maybe that's the real reason I stay away.

mercoledì, giugno 12, 2013

Just call me Mrs. Danvers

So you know my grandparents' home I was whining about a few posts ago? A week or so after the sale closed while the new owners were having the plumbing replaced, it burnt to the ground. 

I feel a bit like I did that with the power of my mind.

venerdì, giugno 07, 2013

For the love of money

Using this online foreign exchange service some friends here recommended (which thankfully I did just before the Aussie dollar entered a slide that I think will be longish term) is making me miss Grandad like, frankly, nothing has since his funeral. I would love to be able to show him how to use this thing. He would be so excited about it. I would love to show him a side-by-side comparison, online, of how much the exchange would cost with a bank service and how much it would cost with the trader service; talk to him about the relative speed, rates, fees, security, etc. And then we could talk about international currencies. I would fucking love that. We would totally bond over that, like we bonded over nothing while he was around.

My Grandad would make a really good ghost. He'd just be so interested in all the things that are possible now. 

He and I are most similar in money terms which was a bit of a shame. At the point where he died I was just poised on the edge of having enough money to have money values like his, so we never intersected while he was actually around. He died when I was a little more than halfway through my job with the television company and I think I had just got used to having a salary big enough to make me feel like my appetites weren't being constrained, which means I had stopped spending my lunch hours giddily shopping my ass off and had started thinking about money as something that maybe I should work on having long term by making it do things for me.

Godzilla and I just got back from a trip to New Zealand visiting Rodelinda, BTW, and in its Land-that-Time-Forgottish way that country also reminded me of Grandad. Lots of sensible old men dressed in respectable, durable woollens they'd obviously had longer than I'd been alive. For the first time in years, I actually shopped my ass off there - buying respectable, durable woollens.

Love you, Grandad. If you're haunting us I hope you're enjoying it.

giovedì, giugno 06, 2013

Vanity unchained

Remind me to stop looking at job ads. I have a really great job. I'm overpaid and underworked, and getting all sorts of experience that will look better and better the more I stick it out. And I have enough friends working at charities and NGOs that I should be a little harder-nosed about how attractive it might be to work at one of them myself.

Toward the end of the quarter (now) is when the really interesting bit of my job crops up, which is writing big fancy involved market/financial reports about a few different sectors and countries that have to be pleasurably readable to Anglophones and ESL types alike. I tend to act a little put-upon around this time of the quarter and think I should probably feel stressed out because while I'm generally fairly indispensable at work (my best professional advice to anybody - manouevre yourself into indispensability) THIS shit is my real bread and butter - the font of all the other blessings that come along with the job.

But I'm not stressed, actually. In fact this "stressful" period is what keeps my brain young and sharp as the undergrad on speed I once was. Researching, writing, and writing so people want to read it. Chasing that high grade, which given my utter lack of long-term professional and academic ambition (I did my masters because it was cheap and gave me something to do with my spare time while I was still wrapped up in screwing Bluebird in Paris) was always an end in itself while I was in school - cracking the professorial code and deciphering how I needed to present arguments to get a nice ego-stroking A+. In this case there's no A+, just people active on the markets you cover treating your reports like a Bible, which is even better for the ego, and much, much better on the pocketbook.

So. Basically my professional life at the moment is successful because it lets me manifest my monstrous vanity. And there's only one thing to go to from there, of course. Do the same thing for an organisation with some sort of useful social purpose. Then - oh, then, what a constant sop to my vanity performing well would be! It would go from monstrous to gargantuan, behemothish, titanic, et cetera.

Maybe that's not such a good thing. So remind me to stop looking at job ads. Until the mortgage is paid, at least. 

lunedì, giugno 03, 2013

Winter in the city

Today was one of those days when as soon as I walked out the door, people started giving me the shits. It happens a lot in L____. Fucking full of shitful people. Halfway downtown some lady who'd just been offended at the post office stopped me on the street and told me about it so that the next time I go in there I should cut the rude lady's brain with my tongue. And you know, in the abstract I don't have a problem with that sort of thing - the approaches from crazy people, not the brain-cutting-with-tongue. It's just something I associate with living in larger cities where there are benefits to make up for such things, like restaurants where I actually want to fucking eat and shops where I actually want to shop and some sort of fucking cultural life that extends beyond discussing housing renovations over overpriced woodfired pizza whose fucking magical hippie 1000 year old sourdough base taste like an old communion hostie.

But L____ is full of people with fucked up brains, shitty buskers, and panhandlers, as if it was some sort of fucking metropolis. I guess it's because you can't freeze to death here. In Canada you have to go somewhere big enough to have shelters, or to Vancouver. And I guess meth is permanently changing the nature of country towns all over the world. Even though Australians are so fucking half-assedly lazy they actually import their meth instead of cook it themselves. Immovably inert motherfuckers. God. No wonder these xenophobic fucks are so scared of boat people. Anybody with the fucking nous to scrape together such a big pile of money and brave so much uncertainty, danger and discomfort to come to this fucking place on a leaky Indonesian fishing boat is going to be able to put this fucking snoozefest of a culture on the barbeque and eat it for brunch.

Anyways, we're going to Canada soon, and with a little elbow grease Melbourne soon after, which is the least Australian place I've seen in Australia. I'll put up and shut up. Godzilla makes things easier. It's hard to keep a hold on a pisser when he smiles, which he does most of the time.

lunedì, maggio 13, 2013

She says I'm weak, and immature, but it's cool; I know what money's for

I know I'm getting old for a few reasons. One of them is that I'm cranky there's nothing as nice as Maxinquaye getting made anymore. There probably is, of course, and I'm just not hearing it, being old, living at the end of the world, and spending all my time - very happily - with someone whose favourite music is listening to me deedle the title music from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

BTW I'm also cranky that there's no movies that good getting made anymore. Which is rich coming from someone who has been to see a new release in the cinema once in the past three years.

martedì, maggio 07, 2013


The efforts to find Godzilla a kindergarten in our German destination continue - trying to get onto those 24 month waiting lists . . . with moderate success. We have a built-in handicap, which is also an sort of litmus test, in that the initial approach to the schools has to be in English. Of course the forms go back in German, but if there are any exhaustive questions about the parents or child, those go back in English too, with a laughable Google translation by its side for form's sake.

We hope to be reasonably handy with the language by the time we get there, but there's no doubt that it will be immensely useful to have Godzilla in a school where the staff talking to us in English won't be seen as some sort of cultural imperialism, or as a practical impossibility. And given we're only applying to public German schools, that's apparently a challenge.

The upshot of all that is he's only on the waiting list at two schools. And one of them I'd be tempted to take him off the waiting list for, as it's a Waldorf school, which when I applied seemed like a really great thing. Then I read more about Waldorf and realized it was a cult. Seriously. And I'm not talking going to websites like, which I have no doubt exist, but reading books on the Steiner/Waldorf system leant to me by enthusiastic friends.

I don't have any problems with cults as such; I just can't accept them pedagogically. Education is a field full of discoveries and awesome, as is child-rearing, and if you lock your pedagogy or philosophy of child-rearing into a cult, which by their natures claim a higher knowledge of how the world works that doesn't have to bend to evidence from other fields, then you end up with a stunted pedagogy. The weaning-your-child-at-nine-months thing was the first red flag. There were others. And there is the racism thing. Sure, you say, it's not racist anymore. Alright. Then it's not fucking anthroposophy anymore, is it?

Anyways, Godzilla's still on the waiting list, particularly for the nursery, since it's a forest kindergarten. We'll see what happens. 

mercoledì, aprile 17, 2013


The F-word and I are rewatching The Sopranos. I'm glad. Not only because I'd forgotten pretty much all of it since I was high the first time through, but because I'm seeing it in a new light now. Being high all the time had helped me not notice the plot holes, which are now apparent, and I'm no longer wrapped up in thinking this is somehow perfectly crafted story television in the traditional sense. But things that left me utterly cold enough last time to have completely forgotten in the interim, like the "Isabella" episode, now seem like pure literature.

There are probably a few reasons for this, like not being high, and having spent a few years letting my own years of psychoanalysis settle and process, and gaining a family of cautionary tale Italian descendant in-laws in the Livia vein, but in the case of "Isabella" I guess the big one is now being a mother myself. Having a different relationship with the idea of a mother as the force that drives the child, and the damage a mother can do. Also having a different relationship with the whore/madonna dichotomy, which in my case isn't so much of a dichotomy as two utterly necessary stages of life, but in a generalized sense from a male perspective I appreciate now probably has a lot more than I'd understood to do with revenge and insecurity.

What sort of man will I make Godzilla into? The question has been there since years before he was conceived, which is part of the reason I got my man-hating ass into psychoanalysis in the first place, but until we saw his whang on the ultrasound it was a fairly academic question. And the "Isabella" episode helped me get it into a somewhat more coherent form. I don't know what sort of man I'll make Godzilla into. I suppose the best I can hope for is that it's a secure one who won't hurt himself and other people too much seeking to replace me or to make up for my shortfalls or to get his own back on me when he goes looking for a partner. A man who won't have extended hallucinations while having a depressive episode about some sort of idealized trogladyte infant existence with no luxuries but with a mother who loved him and made him feel safe.

Fuck, that was a good episode.

martedì, aprile 09, 2013

The maybe move

Yes, so, I think we are deciding to move to Melbourne for the rest of our time in Australia. On one level it's a purely financial decision, almost a financial no-brainer, though there must be some sort of catch somewhere. Our house here in L___, which we paid relatively little for, will fetch a great deal of rent due to its location and the prevailing economic conditions here, while a house or flat appropriate to the size our family will be during our Australian stay, in a decent, well-connected suburb in Melbourne, will be almost $400 less a month to rent (though a great deal more to buy). Even after the agency and gardening fees we're still likely to be comfortably ahead.

And then, as I discovered to my disgust while we were in Melbourne last week, everything is cheaper there. Gas, food, clothes, every fucking thing.

And then on a less financial level I think the F-word and I have discovered we're not country people. We're not even suburb people. We haven't fucking gardened since Godzilla was born and if you think that'll fly on a 1200 square meter lot in the subtropics you've got another guess coming, buddy. The jungle is closing in Apocalypse Now-ishly. A large part of me is thrilled at the possibility of renting this place out just so we can get an agency to take over the garden.

Anyways, on a less getting-away-from-this-shit and a more getting-into-some-new-shit I'm a little excited. I like Melbourne. It's an ersatz Toronto, which is limited but fine, and the weather is shitty there, but a) it can't be worse than Brussels was and we won't be there as long and b) living in the subtropics has taught me the limits of the happiness-inducing qualities of good weather. Particularly in terms of insects. It turns out cockroaches loooooove good weather. And that good weather periodically involves typhoons and rainy seasons which aren't fucking good weather at all.

Also when we got back from holiday we found out that our next-door neighbour had died - a really delightful woman. Very old but quite hearty; it was a surprise. She was out in her garden all the time and very fond of Godzilla - she was the first person who wasn't medical or parental who held him. I miss her terribly. She'd have been a delightful neighbour anywhere but I really treasured her in a place like this, where people don't tend to be awfully friendly. Anyone who replaces her will be worse and I'll be sad and resentful every time I look at them.

lunedì, aprile 08, 2013

News flash

The trip to Victoria was some sort of emotional and professional success for the F-word and he will be exhibiting there in November/December. On top of that I think we're moving there around the same time. If we have two years left in Australia I don't think I can bear to spend them here. All the natural loveliness is wasted on me since I don't surf, garden, or enjoy skin cancer. Still under deliberation though.

giovedì, marzo 28, 2013

Abattoir blues

Went for a run this morning and things were still all Nick Cave-y. At least they're pretty here. Pretty creepy.

Literary illgrimages

Visiting Victoria, so the F-word can try to flog his paintings in galleries in Melbourne and organize an exhibition for later this year or early next (email if you'd like to see his 2012 work; it is awesome). We drove over three days, what with being loaded down with a carfull of paintings and Godzilla, which time was made less trying by me being able to work unbrokenly on the iPhone and on the computer by turning the iPhone into a little hotspot. Wow. Technology is magic - makes my life so much better.

We're staying in country Victoria and passed through Wangaratta to get here. I'm not much of a one for literary pilgrimages. I do understand how space shapes mentality which in turn shapes writing, but frankly I don't much care to see it for myself; not being a scholar or an obsessive I'm pretty much alright just enjoying the literature. I visit Anne Bronte's grave when I'm walking in that remarkably part of Scarborough by Saint Mary's, which happens every couple of years, and I've been to Haworth, which I might well have done even without her sisters, since I like Yorkshire, hiking and moors. Those sisters and Haworth are a pretty quintessential literary pilgrimage though; hard to think of a more formative environment for fevered novelists than those big skies and claustrophobic homes. There was also something very appropriate about the unchallenging beauty of Mircea Eliade's house in Cascais, though I stumbled on it purely by accident and would call The Sacred and the Profane, the only book of his that I've read, many things, but probably not literature. It is due for a reread though - have to occasionally challenge the palate with the even-a-stopped-clock-gets-it-right-twice-a-day ramblings of right-wing racialists, whose intellectual strengths are best seen in their ponderings on the mystical.

Anyways, if you accept Nick Cave as a poet Wangaratta is another quintessential and far less pretty pilgrimage than either Haworth or Cascais. . . that dump and the denuded landscape around it suddenly makes Henry's Dream sound more like tarted-up anthropology than a rocking opiate nightmare. God, country Australia is a hole on the face of creation. Don't come here. Just listen to Henry's Dream. Since the F-word is from Nick Cave country and fucked off away from it only slightly less definitively, I'm taking this literary pilgrimage for the team. 

venerdì, marzo 15, 2013

All our friends here don't vaccinate their children and send them to private school.


The vaccination thing I've gone on about before, and no need to recycle that again, except to point out I've got gently aggressive about it. "Godzilla was vaccinated yesterday and slept through the night without a peep!" and "we've been following the government vaccination schedual for Godzilla and he's double his enormous birthweight at four months and smarter than your two year old", etc. Well, implicitly. I'm not into insulting other people's kids, especially when those same kids are busy fighting off the tail end of whooping cough. But I suspect I'm gently spoiling for a fight.

Some of the lifetstyle aspects of our friends here annoy me a lot. I don't have a problem with privilege, as should be obvious considering what a privileged lifestyle my family can and does enjoy on my inflated pay and the fact that 90% of my close friends have two degrees and the time to read books. Or not much of a problem. Nothing that can't be sorted out with the help of a pscyhotherapeutic professional, anyways. But I do have a problem with the abuse of privilege, which is what I consider the middle-class-anti-vaccination movement.

Oh, so you don't want to line Big Pharma's pockets with a taxpayer-subsidized vaccination programme? Great, let's all pay great stonking wads of cash out of pocket to a bunch of fucking homeo-and-naturopaths when our kids come down with whooping cough, assuming they're old enough to not get hospitalized/brain damage. I guess the poor people will find a way to manage.  That's a much fairer idea. Much more fucking equitable and transparent. Fight the man, assholes, you are fucking radical, you fucking Che Guevara of the Australian yuppie movement. Fuck.

Sorry, I guess I did just recycle that there.

Anyways, the other thing that annoys me but is a little more complicated, I understand, is how all our friends here are all over private school enrollment for their kids, which frankly makes me feel icky. It's something you just don't do in Canada unless you're buying something really awesome, in the sense of a super-equipped school with awesome facilities and jet packs and shit. It is far, far less what it is here, which is the difference between a four star and a five star hotel - pricing out the riff-raff. Which, I appreciate more and more, is at least partly code for not sending your kids to school with aboriginal people.

I detest private school on that pricing-out level. But at the same time I have to ask myself, and answer if I look into my heart "maybe yes", whether or not I would send Godzilla to private school if we stayed here. The two tiers are established now; teachers compete to get into the private schools, where troublemakers can just be kicked out and life is, understandably, much easier for them, and resources are better, and all the rest of it. I'm glad we're leaving for a country without that sort of two-tier system before I'm thrust up against that moral contradiction.

My tax burden tripling seems like a small price to pay. Example: I've got Godzilla onto a waiting list for a Waldorf kindergarten in NRW. It costs 100 euros a month, which is mostly for the food. The local Steiner school costs almost exactly 25 times that. Well tee fucking hee . . . them tax eurodollars do go somewhere.

lunedì, marzo 04, 2013

Accidents may happen

Do you suppose it's possible to write a really terrific, nearly perfect book by accident? I always thought that Brideshead Revisited was an Ishiguro-esque masterwork in terms of a not only unreliable but downright assoholic narrative voice but I found out the other day when I was reading the preface that Waugh seems to have "meant" it. I'm not convinced though. You can't have Anthony Blanche walking on three times and saying such devastatingly skewering home truths about what jerkoffs everybody is and not have some idea what you're doing, surely? Julia is stupid, Sebastian is duplicitously weak, and Charles is ruined by charm.

I thought the whole point of the book as a "Catholic" novel was that everyone of note in it is such an utter ass, so parasitic and useless and cuntish and atomized and miserable despite being surrounded by Baroque aesthetic excesses and pots and pots of money that in the end they have nothing - certainly not even each other - except God. Not a "panegyric", surely? But according to Waugh, it was. What the fuck, I ask you.

In other news, this morning as I wiped a long trail of regurgitated breastmilk off my back, I noticed I'm getting my figure back. Running and breastfeeding will do that, I suppose. That's nice. I've also started doing a couple of hours of Pilates a week so I won't be incontinent when I grow up and that's having an effect too, round the waist.

It's interesting. I broke my knee in a jeet kune do class, oh, twelve, thirteen years ago, and that was when I first got some awareness of myself as a physical person, and started enjoying exercise. And now, after packing on 60 pounds and tearing my asshole open bringing Godzilla into the world, I have a different attitude again. Not to looking good but to having exercise as a bit of get-mummy-brain-back-in-order-time so I don't lose my shit with Godzilla (especially now; my precocious little prodigy is being precocious about teething, which is awkward since he's too young to be handy with a teething ring), and also to being as healthy as I can manage. That's down to realizing how much this munchkin depends on me, and also to Mum almost dying round the time he was conceived because of a thing that was really down to her lifestyle. No granny for Godzilla. How awful a thought. Well, fate may choose to rub me out while he still needs me and before I see his children but I don't intend to help it.

giovedì, febbraio 28, 2013

Storms and steroids and supermen, oh my

Possibly you've been hearing about all the flooding in Australia. Especially if you're English. We've noticed that the English media tends to go apeshit with Australian weather catastrophes, which I think is partly down to the English obsession with the weather and Australia being a cultural limb of England, if a withered and odd limb, which means Australian weather is fair game. I think a much bigger part of it is a conspiracy aimed at trying to persuade the English not to just move here en masse. Which, even knowing Australia as I now do, I would probably do if I was an English masse.

Anyways, we're living one of the places it's been flooding. Luckily this town is built to flood since it will flood at least once in a normal year, and we live up a hill, so it's had very little impact on life. Besides making running really, really muddy. Luckily I'm weird enough to get some sort of sensual - hmm - enjoyment isn't the word - interest out of getting muddy, soaking feet. You know, that transition to warm dry feet to cold wet feet to warm wet feet to the intense relief of stripping off the soaking sneakers and socks once you've finished up. I don't like it, but I don't mind. Especially since I'm a fatass and getting wet is better than getting overheated.

In any case it's not stopping me. I'm back up to five half-hour runs a week, which is where I'll stay until Godzilla starts eating solids instead of just boob, when I can let my fat burn off with hour-long runs, which will hopefully coincide nicely with him being old enough to sit in the jogging stroller my sister in law is giving me, and to come with me. Which will also coincide with being able to run barefoot on the sandy beaches around here again, which is a much, much more pleasant sensual experience than running in a muddy field in a pair of sneakers that badly need replacing.

Less likely than the shitty weather is that you'll have heard about all the doping scandals in Australian sport. It's the sort of thing that gets drowned out by the Lance Armstrong thing I guess, although it's coming from the same place - that sports doping has permanently outstripped any testing regimes for it and now legal and regulatory bodies have to become investigative instead of just - ah - whatever you call something that relies on testing. I guess they can try. But I wonder if the world has already reached the psychological point where we accept that's just what professional athletes do.

Fine. Fuck professional athletes. I really don't give a fuck. My concern is more for my son and anyone else who's presently young who might be into sports. If we could all just decide that we're going to be content to watch a bunch of doped-up professional future cancer patients do freaky things on television and everybody else is just going to enjoy themselves if they do sporty or exercisey things, I'm all for that. Or replace the professionals with a bunch of Blade Runner type things. That'd be great. I don't suppose that's how it works though, is it?

It's really amazing, all the things parenthood makes you give a shit about that you'd never given a shit about before.

giovedì, febbraio 21, 2013

First world problems: family house

I dreamt about Scarborough last night. I was taking the train into town with my aunt, and some cousins I think, and we passed a row of houses along the cliff front with superb design values and shiny new burgundy funiculars heading right down to the beach.

"I always thought that if I got really rich I'd buy Granny and Grandpa's old house back," I remarked to my aunt, "but maybe I'll just get one of those instead."

She smiled her approval, but even in the dream, and even though they were beautiful, I didn't mean it. I was just saying it because I knew she wanted that house gone. I knew those houses on the friable sandy bluffs would slip into the sea, maybe in a matter of mere decades. They weren't legacy houses. They weren't something my children could use with their children.

And neither will G&G's house be. I don't blame them one little bit for selling it, my aunt and my mother, and that's even before I factor in the emotional side of their lack of healthy attachment to that house. There were basically zero candidates in my generation to use it on a regular basis, aside from me, and that not for at least two years, and that only for holidays, which - England being England, that fucking deregulated dump of a country with all the inconveniences of northern Europe and few of the benefits - would be untenably expensive and difficult in insurance, maintenance, services, mold, etc. terms.

Mum did consider it until faced with the resounding indifference of my generation, some of whom are more into wilderness holidays, others of whom are more into Caribbean resorts, and others of whom just don't have the money to jaunt off across the Atlantic for a short stay in fairyland, and she worked out the sums in her head, and said if I cared to spend time there with my family she'd just rent us a holiday flat because it'd be cheaper. I won't let her do that of course, but her point was made.

But - besides Magnum, whose chip on the shoulder about G&G has become deeply ingrained over the years, and besides the littlest, whose reasons I won't speculate much on because I don't know - we did all make our final pilgrimages back before Granny died. Considering how much she disliked us I wonder if it was actually the house we were saying goodbye to. Especially as the littlest did make a pilgrimage back after she died, and was with his mother when she handed over the keys. Last night's dream and today's heavy nostalgia was sparked off by him posting pictures of the empty house on his Facebook page.

I'm spending a small fortune putting the furniture and some other odds and ends from the house in storage; in fact if the timing works out, it'll cost about the cash amount Granny left me in her will, which is serendipitous to the point that I'm half-managing to convince myself it's what Granny intended at some deeply-buried level of collective unconsciousness. And I'm glad that's waiting for us when we get back to Europe, in a way I'd have to write for a long, long time to quantify. But it's strangely gutting to remember the house. It's making this song stick in my head:

Nick Cave is at his best violent or mournful, I always think.

And I think what's pulling at my guts the most this morning is the way the house smelt. A sort of combination of Fairy washing up liquid, fabric softener, the greenness of the garden, lavender, cleanliness and a hint of the mold that one was always fighting back in the attic. And Granny, of course. It smelt inescapably like her. And as little fondness as we had for each other - I loved her, but it wasn't possible to be fond of her, and I think she was fondest of me by the time dementia had helped her forget I was her granddaughter and not someone she used to know from the bank - that combination is probably my favourite smell in the world that doesn't belong to my mother, father, old man or son.

Gone forever now, I suppose. Of course Granny being dead meant it would be gone forever anyways, house being sold or not, but when I saw the pictures of the empty house on Facebook that sort of reasoning was beyond me. Anyways, when I die, if I've been sufficiently good, I expect the afterlife to smell more or less like that. And I hope that in a couple of years if I stick my face into the wardrobes, etc., that I've had socked away, I'll still be able to sniff a bit of it out.

The other thing that's pulling at my guts is that the house was ours, as well as G&G's. A common point of reference for me and my brothers and my cousins, wrapped up in our mutual childhoods in a way no other place is, either singly or collectively. In the same way G&G were ours - a shared and difficult way that most outsiders, even those who didn't get on with their grandparents, couldn't possibly appreciate because of our very particular circumstances.

Well, as my boss (who's Buddhist in the same way I'm Catholic) told me, aging is a process of falling away and letting go. I don't think any material falling away and letting go will be quite so psychologically fraught as this one, though.

domenica, febbraio 17, 2013

Sydney flavoured bacon

Just back from a Lunar New Year trip to Sydney. And gosh, was it nice. Cosmopolitan (ergo est enough Asians to make it feel like a real city) with a different kind of food every meal and all sorts of people hanging around doing interesting things.

The more I travel in Australia the more I have a sense that Australians aren't all bad and that it's the special cocktail of white middle-class anti-vaccination NIMBY hippies, bankrupt farmers, meth addicts and dispossessed Aborigines that makes our particular region so fucking annoying. The F-word assures me, though, that where we are is really terrific in terms of Country Australia, which cross-country car trips and stays in Shepparton, the Victorian dump the F-word hails from, both back up.

All of which is a long way to say that I'd probably like Australia better if we lived in Sydney, but if we lived in Sydney we'd need to be rich, and if we were rich we'd live in a better city somewhere else, like Singapore.

Nonetheless it was a good trip, during which we got to see a so-so exhibition of Alexander the Great crap from the Hermitage and a really nice Francis Bacon exhibition at the NSW gallery. The Bacon exhibition was just gravy. We had no idea it was there, just stumbling across it in its closing week. Not as good as the one we saw back in 2008 but still very good and it made me feel like I was part of the wider world again to just stumble across something like that and be able to see it . . . sigh . . . oh, wider world, I miss you.

The most important outcome of the trip, however, was watching Godzilla spend it being as good as gold, looking around calmly during the exhibitions, and gawking at all the skyscrapers and trains, and charming people in restaurants. He slept better in all the hotels than he does here. I know babies change every day but I can't help be hopeful he's gonna be a good traveller - heaven knows the poor mite will be doing enough of it by hook or by crook.

lunedì, febbraio 11, 2013

Endless dithering

Counting down to the departure. I always seem to be doing that. Well, hopefully we knock it off since Godzilla will certainly get attached to the next place.

The big holdup is me. We had agreed on normal-hemisphere fall of 2014 so as to avoid having to pay Godzilla's plane fare, and now we have to push that back by months so that I can get citizenship here before we go. Just in case - retch - Godzilla or his eventual sibling(s) think it might be a good idea to move back here permanently and I need to spend a lot of time here one day. And things like that. A few more months and paying an adult plane fare for a two year old would be worth not having such major headaches as an old person.

I feel it's all a touch time sensitive because as little as I want to move during the first months of an eventual sibling's life when Godzilla is rampaging around as a toddler, I also don't want to wait too too long before the next one, being old, and, well, hmm. It'll all take careful planning and workarounds and anyways, I'd always thought a biggish gap between kids isn't a bad idea. In my heart of hearts I suspect three years would be better for Godzilla, and the new one, than two. My main concern is that waiting those extra months would be a wrench for Godzilla as he enters the age of reason. But I suspect it'd be better than having him be Australian.

Anyways, we might have the next one the way nature intended, by accident, any time starting from nine months from the next time we manage sexual congress. I'd always looked askance at people who planned their children and was shocked to eventually be one of them myself.  And who knows. Maybe the next one just won't be forthcoming. I hope not. This motherhood shtick is pretty awesome so far and I'm willing to do it again, and as a grown-up watching my parents age, mercifully slowly, I'm so grateful for brothers . . . I'd be sad not to give Godzilla, and the new one, that.

mercoledì, febbraio 06, 2013


Every time the F-word and I discuss it, it seems our departure date from Australia moves up a little. Good enough reason to discuss it daily. Last night I had a nightmare that I called my message service and my voice had an Australian accent. Retch.

No matter how soon we move, though, I'm starting to be concerned we won't be able to do it before I succeed in offending everybody. Yesterday evening, I asked a friend who's just sent his kid to a private school (as fully 35% of Australian kids are) how his kid's new Krav Maga school was going (it's actually an Ananda Marga school). I thought I was being hilarious but it turns out I wasn't. And in the case of a anti-immunizer whose little girl had come down with whooping cough, when I saw into him in the street before approaching them, I screamed "is she still contagious?"; I was with Godzilla at the time and though he's been vaccinated the hell I'll risk subjecting him to some fucking avoidable hippie germs no matter how embarassing it may be to others. 

And today, I started visiting daycares - Godzilla'll need a couple of days a week next year, if for no other reason than to firm up his immune system and his ladykilling skills - which was interesting. The one with the enormous waiting list was the hippiest hippie place I'd ever seen. It gave me a super-bad vibe, in that hippie sense. You know how hippies sort of twitch a lot even though they do yoga and are meant to be relaxed? I think perhaps the sort of people who are attracted to that sort of thing have a fuck of a lot of noise going on in their heads to drown out with chanting and contorting and shit, and jogging just seems too disco to them or something. Anyways, all the employees were twitching like that. And they were all too skinny. If ever they gave Godzilla a hug I'm concerned it would hurt him.

So halfway through my visit I realized the waiting list was enormous not because it was objectively awesome (the conditions as described were like the other centres I'd been too, except it was darker and dirtier) but because hippies'd like it. Which I announced to the F-word loudly across the parking lot when he came to pick us up. It's the summer here of course so all of the centre's windows were open. Oh well.

You may be noticing a theme here. Which is that I fucking hate hippies, it turns out. I'd always thought I was one and maybe I am. Maybe I'm engaging in a bit of self-loathing here. Which is something to analyze another time. I've got deadline.

giovedì, gennaio 31, 2013

That's alright momma

Mum left a freezer full of cookies, cake, tomato sauce, and meatballs. Every time I eat from the stash it feels like a hug and a kiss from her. Astounding how seeing her with Godzilla, and having had Godzilla, and having had her help for a month has made me appreciate her about 1000 times more. And I'd thought I was already pretty appreciative. She's the best. I know a lot of people think that about their mothers, but even other people generally admit my mother's the best. What the poor woman did to deserve a shower of assholes like us I really don't know. Well, I guess Luke Duke is pretty nice.

As I alluded to in the last post, Tweak makes me appreciate her even more. The main reason why is that Tweak just isn't fucking nice to the F-word. It really looks like a case of familiarity breeding contempt somehow, which I thought wasn't something that applied to parents and children. The F-word, as is obvious as I'm with him, is a really exceptional person, and to see that go unrecognized by his own father makes me want to vomit. The other reason why is that I'm never quite sure when Tweak is joking. For example we were, I thought, joking about my pregnancy fat and about how fast Beyonce lost hers, but about three minutes in it became clear he'd thought about it quite calculatingly and was absolutely serious that while she dropped hers super fast due to being rich and having dietiticians and personal trainers, I had a year before people started making fun of me. Ergo est, he wasn't joking. He wasn't trying to be a jagoff either. He was just being Tweak.

And Tweak being here at the same time as Mum made me realize that I'm very, very lucky to have her, and indeed Dad, rather than someone like Tweak, even though I think he does mean well, and even though Mum's tomato sauce shits all over his, despite her being such an English rose. The F-word's family does generally have the effect of making mine look better. Gosh, I miss her. I think Godzilla does too in his senseless, sensual way. He's a little more easily bored today, which makes sense after a solid month of Granny cuddles.

martedì, gennaio 29, 2013


Nothing, not even childbirth, has made me appreciate my mother quite as much as my father-in-law. Thanks, Tweak.

venerdì, gennaio 25, 2013

Enormous weakling pussy

Taking a break from running today. And not because the rainy season has finally hit - running in the rain is pretty nice - no flies trying to malinger on you or sun getting in your eyes. And not because I don't want to be running. And not because I can't; we have a few more precious days of Mum and she does try to shanghai the baby at every opportunity.

No, I'm not running today because I can't. Midway through the route I'd planned for myself yesterday my knee started hurting and I cut it short, and I know I have to take at least today off. It's only sensible. I'm big and fat and post-pregnant and haven't ran for a year, and my knees are crappy. No use taking a stand over it.

But you know what? It makes me feel like an enormous weakling pussy. That's a feeling I'm trying not to feel and certainly won't act on, because being willing to act on that feeling is what makes men dumber than women. Nonetheless it's kind of pissing me off. After Mum leaves on Thursday this is gonna get a whole lot harder.

Oh well. We're spending the Australian winter in the Canadian summer so things'll get easier again, and in any case it's just three more months or so until I can take more regular breaks from being right next to the boy, when he starts expanding his gastronomic repertoire. At the moment such breaks revolve around hoping he finishes feasting on my bosom right at a time when the UV index isn't too high and his father is present so I can get out of the house for a bit.