On internal accents

In which my internal dialogue grows accents

Disconcertingly, my internal voice has started talking to me in the accent of Zelda the Destroyer, Ruth’s wrestling character in Glow. I have no idea why this might be, but it is particularly startling because I’m not having a lot of actual conversations at the moment, so much of what I do is narrated in this strange accent. I speak no Japanese–I haven’t even been able to work out ‘thank you’ yet. So there aren’t many opportunities for conversation, not even the small talk or the little jokes between people that we use to smooth out awkward interactions. Well, there was the man outside the 7-11 where I stopped to buy myself a sparkling water today (it’s hot and humid and I needed the sparkle) … there was a small bench outside the 7-11 and a few people were sitting on it so I sat down thinking it was probably more polite to drink my sparkling water there than as I wandered along the street.

I sat, and as I gingerly opened the bottle, trying to make sure it didn’t fizz on me, the man next to me laughed. It seemed like one of those things you might do when you’re sitting next to someone in the shade of a 7-11, and so I laughed with him. But then he started talking so I shook my head and said, ‘Sorry, English.’ ‘Ah, English,’ he said and I thought he was going to be one of those people who then starts a conversation in perfect English and makes a person feel embarrassed about their own lack of being able to talk to people outside their own language … anyway, he didn’t start talking in English, he kept talking in Japanese. It was about then that I realised as well as sparkling water it was possible to buy sparkling ale and I think he’d enjoyed a few out in the sun. I made my excuses as politely as I could given the circumstances and left.

And that’s about the extent of my conversations, my language barrier compounded by the fact that there aren’t really a lot of tourists here, or at least if there are they are lost in the Tokyo population. It’s not like visiting Paris where a person can hardly breathe for tourists and you get to the end of the day and wonder if you’ve even crossed paths with a Parisien. And while I’m not staying in fancy accommodation by any means, nor is it a hostel where people might go to the dining room to gather at the end of the day…mind you, even if I were at a hostel I’d probably be older than most of the other people and unlikely to get into any conversations there either.

So, having Zelda’s accent in my head is straight up weird. I will say that because it’s only in my head, it’s an excellent imitation of Ruth doing a poor imitation of a Russian accent. However excellent my imitation might be, I’m very much hoping that when I wake up tomorrow it will be gone.

On noodles

In which I eat before bed

As it turns out, the noodles were absolutely not to be missed, and definitely worth staying up for. I went down in my dress and carrying only my room key, expecting that we would be given a packet of two-minute noodles and sent on our way. Not so! The breakfast room opens again, but there are curtains around most of the buffet tables (there are four, all quite small), with only one small space at the servery open for the woman who has the noodle shift to do her work.

People come down in dribs and drabs, most of them wearing the lounge suits (I would call them pyjamas, but that seems maybe a bit rude, because they aren’t pyjamas but are in the hotel rooms with a sign that tells us we are welcome to wear them around the hotel). The woman gives a token to each person and then, when she has made their order calls out the number and tells them their noodles are ready. When she knows we don’t speak Japanese, she calls, ‘Thank you for waiting, noodles are prepared for number 7.’

I rarely eat before bed these days, because I always sleep terribly if I eat or drink too much too close to bedtime (probably I always slept that poorly but now that I’m middle aged I don’t like being tired the next day and get tired more easily and so on and so forth … all of that is a long-winded way of telling you that I wasn’t sure I’d actually eat the noodles, but I did want to see what it was about.

As soon as I saw them, I was in love and knew that they would be exactly what I needed. The noodles are the perfect size. Small enough that I don’t feel over-full and uncomfortable before bed, large enough that I feel sated. The noodles and the soup are both light and thin. Also perfect. The whole thing is extremely cozy, and because it is shared with other people, it is also a reassuring touchpoint, reminding you that you aren’t alone. All hotels should offer something like it, because as wonderful as holidays are it is pretty lonely when you realise that there are all these millions of people around but not one of them knows your name.

And now I’m extremely tired again and about to fall asleep. I wanted to tell you about my day–not that anything amazing happened to me, but I did discover a bit more about this amazing city. Maybe I’ll be able to stay awake long enough tomorrow night.

On departures

In which I make it

It turns out that an hour is enough time to get a domestic-international connection in Sydney airport, but it’s highly stressful and you don’t get a chance to sit and watch the airport go by. Sitting and watching the airport go by is one of my favourite things … mind you anyone watching me go by would have thought I was leaving my dying grandma and never going to see her again the way I was sobbing at the departure gate. Combination of the stress of realising how close my connection was going to be (but knowing that they don’t book it if they don’t think you can make it), but also growing deeper and deeper roots into my house into the next stage of my life.

I’m exhausted now … the only reason I’m still awake is that I’m waiting for the hotel’s noodle service in another twenty minutes. I could’ve gone to sleep hours ago, but there’s something so beautiful in the idea of a ‘noodle service’ and I’m only in this hotel two nights so I don’t want to miss out. Weird thing to not want to miss I know, but there’s been little in the way of rational thought the last couple of days. I’ll be a lot more lucid after a meal of noodles and a nice long sleep.

Talk tomorrow xx

On farewells

In which I’m grumpy, even if I know I shouldn’t be

Sometimes I think, ‘Well, if I just keep talking eventually I will have something to say. But mostly I have no more to say than a person who has nothing to say and no less than someone who has not a lot.

We went out for lunch and it was father’s day. We didn’t know that when we booked. Really we were supposed to be going out for a meal together–the four of us–because I’m going away for a bit, and that’s what you do when someone goes away. You all go out together. So now I’m feeling slightly grumpy that my lunch wasn’t really for me and not only that the meal wasn’t all that great because of course they were doing the whole set menu thing that all the cafes and restaurants do on their busiest days. And I’m grumpy with myself for being churlish, so I’m mostly trying to talk myself out of that.

But we wouldn’t have gone out if we’d known it was father’s day. First, because the meals are always rubbish on days like today. And second, because I try not to buy into the commercialism of it all. I had a wonderful father, and my children’s father is wonderful, but there’s too much pain and hurt in the world regarding fathers and as much as I think it’s important to celebrate the good, I don’t think there’s any need to make the hurt greater than it already is. It feels extremely exclusionary to me. I try not to make a big protest about it, but equally I don’t make a big song and dance about the celebration of it either.

And now I really must go and pack. It’s my worst thing. I’m even worse at packing than I am about being gracious when my farewell lunch gets taken over by something I don’t even agree with.

The puppy is still cute.

On the news

In which I am becoming older

I should have had a bit less to drink than I did especially because I’ll be out again tonight, and it’s been a long time since I had wine two nights in a row, but it didn’t do me any harm, and it would be business as usual, except … the puppy. Productivity zapper that’s for sure. I simply cannot allow it to not be in my lap as I type, he is beautifully affectionate and (at the moment) the perfect size. So while I did have lots of plans of things to be done today, instead I have been wandering aimlessly around the internet, falling down such rabbit holes as dear mariella on The Guardian website.

I scroll through The Guardian and ABC apps a couple of times each day, so I do feel like I’m up-to-date with the news, but I am always surprised when I am in a group of people because they always seem to know what each other is talking about, and I am very often simply nodding in that, ‘Ah, yes, I strongly agree, but have nothing further to add’ until I’m able to generate a quick quip which shows I’m listening and enjoying the conversation even if I don’t properly know what we’re talking about. I think part of that is to do with age. I suppose when I was young, it didn’t bother me that I didn’t know what older people were talking about because one I knew heaps more than they did anyway and two (paradoxically but nonetheless logically) I expected them to know more than I did. Now, I feel that there is a whole world that is not only separate from mine but entirely inaccessible to me. The older person’s world would one day be mine, but the younger person’s never will be. I don’t suppose this is an original or startling revelation, and probably if I’d been listening I would have heard older people telling me about this some time ago.

Which is a long-winded way of getting to the thing I wanted to tell you about which is that I really do miss newspapers, by which I mean news printed on paper. Especially the weekend newspaper. Living in Adelaide our printed papers choice has always been pathetically limited, but I did used to get The Advertiser delivered and I occasionally still buy it. And I like the Financial Review, although less so now that Laura Tingle has gone to the ABC. I have The Saturday Paper delivered but it doesn’t last all that long, and can certainly be cleared away from the kitchen table well before Wednesday which is the day that I used to sweep all of the weekend papers away, leaving whatever hadn’t been read forever unread.

I’m off to find some toys for the puppy now because when it isn’t on my lap it is chewing at my knitting or dragging my socks to its bed. I don’t like either of those things.

On puppies

In which the puppy arrives

Three days missed, but I’ve got an excuse, a reason even, because I got talked into getting a puppy. The last time we had a puppy, it was an Absolute Disaster there is no other way to describe it. A beagle, brought into our lives at the height of its tumult. Cancer, dementia, infertility, beagle. Anyone who knew anything about beagles–about cancer, dementia, infertility, puppies–looked at me with horror in their eyes, and they were right. I had no idea how to care for a dog, let alone a beagle, and it was an added stressor I really did not need.

But while we were living in Abu Dhabi, we grew used to having a dog in our lives. In response to the needs of my youngest boy–I’m serious when I say he didn’t just want, he needed a dog–we fostered a little white terrier that was waiting until it had its rabies jabs cleared before it could join its family in Australia, and then adopted a wonderful dog. She was about nine years old when she came to us, a corgi crossed with a german shepherd and about as far from a beagle as you could get while still being a dog. She was what dogs used to be, back in the days when getting a dog was as simple as waiting for your neighbour’s dog to have a litter and there was none of this putting yourself on waiting lists with breeders. She barked when anyone knocked at the door and they stood on the other side frightened until they opened the door and saw her. Short, tail-wagging…beautiful old thing.

We brought her back to Adelaide with us, but she got older as we all do and one Saturday the end of her life came much more quickly than any of us had been ready for, but it was the best way to die. One bad day, surrounded by people who love you.

It’s funny that having a puppy has made me notice the space where our beautiful dog used to be. It reminds me how it was to be greeted by her every time I came home, or got up in the morning in the way that only a dog can do. ‘Oh my god, you came back, I had no idea you would come back, this is the best moment of my life.’ And when I was lonely, the only adult in the house, she would sit, quietly, just being with me. I had never been a dog person before, but she turned me into one.

And now we’ve got this puppy and it is the sweetest, cutest thing on the planet. As much as sometimes I do regret the passing of time, I like the way this puppy reminds me that life is easier than it was all those years ago when that beagle came to stay. Because when I look at this puppy I’m not terrified.

On television routines

In which it’s a bit late on Sunday evening

It nearly happened again. I was on my way to bed – tea cup on the sink, check on the boys, lights off – when I remembered: BLOG! But I was kind of relieved because it gave me an excuse to turn the television back on and finish the episode of Vera. I do like the show, but it finishes a little late for a Sunday evening so I never watch the whole thing. It feels quite old-fashioned watching television on a Sunday night, but Rake has started it’s final season so I’ll be in front of the television every Sunday night for another few weeks yet. I find the Vera programming interesting because on the one hand it’s quintessential Sunday night ABC (British drama, although the space for British drama has morphed into crime over the years) but on the other it’s almost eleven o’clock by the time it’s finished which is a little late for your typical ABC Sunday night viewer I would have thought. But then what would I know about running the ABC? I mean, I would never have cut PM back to half an hour (a change which has DESTROYED my evening and that is no exaggeration–an hour-long PM has defined my evening routine ever since I was a child and my dad had it on in the kitchen while he drank a long neck of Southwark and got our dinner ready). Vera is reaching it’s conclusion after its somewhat horrifying climax and it will give me nightmares and why on earth would anyone watch such a thing this late on Sunday night? Oh, that’s right, because they’re a blogger.
(The jury still out on whether this daily blogger caper is a good idea–but see you tomorrow all the same)

On Saturday

In which Saturday night is not a rockstar night

I was just on my way to bed when I remembered that I’m a blogger and I have to post something every day because that’s what I told myself I would do and I am determined to do the things I told myself I would do. I know, that sounds ridiculous even to me, but anyway, here we are and I must quickly think of something to say.

Thinking of something to say is more difficult than it sounds because I’m exhausted and I’ve been writing all day and into the night and I don’t think I’ve got any words left to share with you. Don’t feel sorry for me though, because in about five minutes I’ll be crawling into bed. Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, the mister is having a nap in the back of the car. He has been jackhammering tiles all day so is more exhausted than I am, but teenagers needed to be taxied to places and in the end he decided he would just hop into the backseat and sleep rather than drive all the way back here only to drive all the way back there again. This is the price you pay when you move to a city without paying proper attention to where you live in relation to where your children go to school and thus where their friends will be located during their sociable teenage years. And of course they should get themselves there only the public transport between here and there is lacking to the point of non-existence and the party doesn’t end until one and a P plater’s curfew is 12. We could say you have to be home before your P plate curfew but I was a teenager once and I do get that if the party finishes at one, you want to be there until one. So, the back seat of the car it is for the mister (insert ‘joke’ about that’s where he was when he was a teenager too and something something irony, funny ‘joke’).

The other advantage I have over the mister besides access to a bed is a cup of tea. The mister only made his decision after he had left home so he hasn’t even got a thermos.

I think we can all agree the world would not be worse off if I’d simply gone to bed without filling this space with noise.

On Friday

In which I remain distracted, but am finally focused on the task at hand

I’ve spent way too much time this week distracted by the horrifying spectacle out of Canberra, culminating in the previously unthinkable relief that our prime minister is Scott Morrison. I’m not actually relieved about that because along with the deplorable human rights abuses committed by him, he abstained from voting for the marriage equality legislation despite his own electorate voting in fovour of it. Still, I guess overall it’s situation unchanged for someone with my politics so the week has ended as it began only I’m a little more despairing about the state of politics generally. I fear that the ‘they’re all the same narrative’ is set like concrete in our psyche now and that cannot be good news for civil debate. Oh, and the planet is still on fire and the Australian government certainly won’t be rocking up with a hose to fight it.

Anyway and anyhoo, the mister did ring me only moments after the results of the vote were announced to say that our new puppy will be arriving on Wednesday so life does go on for now at least and I’m fairly certain the sun will rise tomorrow as they say.

As a result of my distraction this week, it’s now 8pm on Friday night and I am in front of my computer, a toasted sandwich for my dinner and a shitload of work to do. I’ve finally switched ABC News 24 off and am listening to Double J’s playlist of greatest women on their spotify playlist. It is ace. And to be fair, even working is better than sitting down in front of the television watching my team who promised so much so early in the season lose the final game of the season.

I did have a much more interesting post underway for today but then I ran out of time to polish it off, because I was too busy writing even more emails to politicians, so it’s this mish-mash of nothingness instead. Until tomorrow.

PS I’ve tagged this Friyay. It’s a word I learnt from instagram. I’m using it ironically just in case you were wondering. I’d never use it for real.

PPS As well as getting my blog back on track, I’ve started a tinyletter, you cant sign up for it over here over here

On distraction

In which I spend the day attending to work as best I can

I can’t look away from the ABC and the news about the Liberal party eating itself. And trying to stay logged out of twitter. But I’m not sure what to say. And although it’s my dad’s birthday today I don’t want to write about grief or even about relationships…

…so today I’ve been getting some of my writing projects tidied up a bit, and as well as getting to work on my blog I’ve been doing some tinyletter work lately. So far, I’ve only posted them to myself but I’m getting on top of things now, so if you want to subscribe, the link is on this page over here