Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Formal Retraction

In her previous post, the author claimed that today is her one-year anniversary of arriving in Australia. It has since come to light (courtesy of someone smirking sheepishly) that tomorrow is in fact the anniversary. Yesterday was the day they departed. And today a year ago they were in mid-air, ie. Nowhere. Which explains a lot.

As you were.

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Monday, 27 April 2009

One Year On...

We arrived in Melbourne exactly a year ago today. I have absolutely no idea how I should feel about that - perhaps, as I explained in my Lessons post, it will hit me by the end of the week and I'll write something more emotional and meaningful then than what I'm about to write . . .

The big question all year has been: do you feel settled yet? I wish people would leave off the 'yet'. Some of them look confused and / or disappointed when I say, emphatically, "No!" Most of those are Aussie and don't know me very well - they want me to feel settled because they love their country. It's nice - would the majority of Brits feel the same way if the situation was reversed, or would they say: "What the hell did you want to move here for?"

Just before the Big Scary Trip, The Australian and I had one of our Big Talks, at the airport, over a glass of red wine (my third - hey, I'm a nervous flyer). We generally try to avoid Big Talks because in the past they have led to either babies or emigrating. But at the airport I was babbling on about not wanting to put down roots here in case I can never pull them back out again. In short, I was saying to him: "You can't keep me here! I won't stay! I'll run away from home and never ever speak to you again, so ner!" He looked at me with the usual confusion that follows one of my outbursts and then said, "Don't worry, there's no forever going on here - I don't want to settle permanently any more than you do." (Those might not have been his exact words but, as I said, I was on my third glass.) "Ohhh!" I replied. "Great!" And then I rambled on a bit more about San Francisco, and other places I'd like to live like . . . er, San Francisco (can you hear me, Green Card people?).

But for now, we're here. And despite my almost-constant state of alarm at being an alien, here is a wonderful place, a great adventure. It's not Home - if there's one thing that 9 long-haul flights in 8 years has taught me it's that I'm very, very far from Home - but it's like a fantastically scary, exciting, hundreds-of-nights-long sleepover.

Over the next few days, look out for my growing list of Things I've Discovered Since I Got Here (not the actual title of the list. . . I will try to think of a better title - it only took me 54 tries for my novel so bear with me).

It seems fitting to end by telling you about the demise of my Ugg boots . . . they are no more. Well, just one Ugg died, in fact, but even Crazy Slipper Lady can't go out in her right Ugg if the left Ugg is at home in the corner, rejected for the simple crime of shrinking while being soaked because of . . . *a substance I can't name in case my son ever reads this blog*. My new boots are equally inappropriate for a suburban homemaker, and reveal that my inner teenage rock chick has woken up in time for Winter - okay, they're not that bad, but they *do* have three buckles on them. Let's rock!

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Sunday, 26 April 2009


I've never had much luck keeping a diary. I always thought the cause was a general flakiness on my part, but in truth the only thing slightly flaky about me - despite my hopelessness when it comes to footwear, my forgetfulness of personal details, and my fear of nearly all social situations that don't involve very close friends and wine - is psoriasis.

No, the real cause is my uptightness. I can't put the words down about my personal life as events unfold unless I'm sure they will accurately reflect the truth and continue to do so forever n' ever. Or maybe it's not even the truth - it's not as if I'm averse to gross exaggeration - but it's something about needing to see things from a distance, needing that perspective. Maybe it's because I know how wildly inaccurate I can be when I'm up close to something. I can storm out of an argument ready to take drastic - bloody! - action, but an hour later I feel like a wally and have an uncomfrtable wedgie - that's my tail between my legs.

So, often my blog posts are written a few days after the *insert embarrassing public encounter* took place. That's the only way I can explain why I haven't been able to write about the Big Scary Trip. But while I gather my thoughts, here are some of the lessons I have learned since I set off on my London adventure:

1. Window seats - never again. I'm an aisle girl, ie. far too socially inept to say "Excuse me, I need to get up and use the loo" to a total stranger (a total stranger I've been bumping elbows with, receiving trays over the head of, and trying not to fall asleep on, for 12 hours).
2. You cannot defeat jet-lag, no matter how clever you think you are. No amount of lavender spray, reading really boring books, deep breathing, or whispering in earnest "please please please go to sleep" alone in the dark at 3am will work.
3. Londoners are very pissed off. "What's that effing bus lane for?" "That coach is EMPTY! What is the POINT of it?" "This is a DEAD END! Why? Why? It's effing Ken Livingstone!" - all copyright My Dad, in the first three minutes of collecting me from Heathrow (which he will obviously never do again now...)
4. Removing the responsibility of two small children does not necessarily free you up to achieve great things...it does free you up to watch Trisha and stroll around the shops in the April sun, however (but see 2; I was a Trisha-watching, window-shopping zombie).
5. I love doing readings, and become a bit of a performing maniac when faced with a room full of booksellers, publishers, agents and the like. Who knew?
6. Him Indoors can manage without me very, very well indeed.

More anon.

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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

She's Got A Ticket . . .

Indulge me as I make a timeline - I feel the need for that kind of perspective on the eve of my Big Scary Trip.

March 04: first baby born
March 05: writing starts in earnest
Sept 05: sign with first agent
Sept 06: part ways with first agent
Nov 06: take part in NaNoWriMo, starting the book that has since become The Girl You Think I Am
Dec 06: second baby born
March 08: sign with second agent
April 08: emigrate
August 08: receive offer of publication
April 09: I can't believe I'm sitting here, in Melbourne, after a pretty standard day in the sun - supermarket, housework, playdate - while The Australian swipes at the telly (Wii Tennis) while running back and forth to the stove, where pasta is on the boil, on the evening before I'm due to fly to London - all by myself! - for the trade launch of my book. It's bonkers.

Since the success of the Sydney weekend, when I discovered that the children do not spontaneously combust when I leave them (flaming cheek), I've been feeling quite calm about the trip.

But that's all over.

I'm so churned up I don't know what to do with myself. I keep swerving wildly between:
1. panicking about being without the children (just little things like: what if the plane crashes? should I leave them a video-diary telling them how much I love them? I know...I know what this all sounds like - I'm flying cheap but it's not Air Kamikaze. It's such a very long way, though).
2. panicking about making huge blunders during the big scary party (what if I accidentally drink too much wine and talk an incredible amount of poop and end up being snapped sprawled in the gutter for the front page of The Bookseller?).

At the same time, I'm so thrilled to have this moment, I could grab a microphone and do a Leona Lewis ballad. I'm thinking: ooh, I wonder if the flight attendants will sense I'm a soon-to-be-published woman and upgrade me. I wonder if people will roar with laughter as I read from my book at the party (nb. there will be a special slot for me to do this - I wasn't just gonna whip it out mid-conversation). I wonder if I will really, really like being away by myself...etc.

I thought I was going to be able to say some very profound things about this whole business - maybe I'll get more coherent after the event. You can only hope.

Until then...

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Monday, 13 April 2009

Not Stuck!

Flew a kite today for the first time ever. And none of the things I feared would go wrong went wrong! (did not strangle anyone with kite string, did not give innocent passers-by concussion by making kite dive bomb, did not get kite tangled with other, more professional kite, did not fall over while walking backwards to find good wind... Completely and utterly not stuck!)

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Sunday, 12 April 2009

Stuck! the sequel

First we brought to you: Stuck In A Dress. Now, for your viewing pleasure, we bring you:
Stuck On A Bike.

"Oh, shit - help!"

"Mum, what are you doing?"

"I'm stuck! Go get your father! And put that camera down or I'm confiscating all your toys!"

"What's confiscating?"

"Argh, I mean it, I'm stuck! Get help!"

"What seems to be the trouble here?"

"Well, I thought I'd have a go on your bike."

"In the garden?"

"Yes, you see I haven't ridden for a while so I thought I'd start with a very short ride. But I can't reach the seat, so I shimmied up the post and clambered on, and now I can't get down."

"Come on then, down you get. Now go and play with something more suitable."

Watch out for the next exciting installment of: Stuck!

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Saturday, 11 April 2009

Dress Rehearsal

Last weekend I did something I haven't done for a very long time. (No, Mum, it wasn't 'the ironing'. And no sniggering at the back there, either!) I went away for the weekend to
Sydney . . . without the children.

For five years I had not even contemplated leaving them . . . okay, that's a lie, I had contemplated running to the hills an awful lot, but they were local hills and I only intended to stay long enough to regain my sanity (I said no sniggering at the back!).

But there were two compelling reasons to go; one being that my parents had made the huge journey from the UK to visit us, and were heading home via Sydney; the other was that the weekend would be a dress rehearsal for a much bigger, scarier trip.*

Telling my five year old went as planned:
"Nooooooo! Mummy you can't gooooooo!"
"But I will bring gifts."
"I don't care, I want you heeeeeere."
"Big gifts."
"Okay, have fun!"
I tried to explain it to my two year old, but he just kept repeating everything I said and blowing raspberries. We set off very early in the morning, which had its benefits - well, one benefit, which is that I am incapable of any emotion other than severe grumpiness before 9am, so there were no tears.

The loneliness of a hotel room for one was odd at first, but pretty soon I was living it up rock star style - yep, I raided the mini bar, and soon had my feet up, a Pepsi Max and some roasted peanuts at my side, and a copy of a friend's excellent new YA novel in my lap. (I meant retired, recovering alcoholic rock star addicted to legumes, obviously.)

My folks and I hit the streets of Sydney, posed in front of the Opera House, took a ferry to Manly, and marvelled at the flying foxes in the Botanical Gardens (a particularly entertaining moment, as my mum - having travelled halfway round the world and taken about 800 snaps - had at this moment discovered that her camera had 'zoom' . . . She zoomed quite a lot that day.)

When I called home to check how the children were coping without me, they screamed and cried and begged me to return . . . okay, they did not - they spared me five seconds before tearing off to continue the fun they were having without me, but I'm sure that deep down they were very distressed . . . way, way deep down. It was an epiphany - all of a sudden the possibilities rushed at me. Writing retreats! Weekends with girlfriends! But most importantly, the thought of that big scary trip no longer makes me well up or tear out my hair with guilt. I can go. I mean, I can let myself go, (and not just with the roasted peanuts).

*which I'll tell you about in the next few days or this blog post will enter records for length/sobbing/wailing/moaning.

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Thursday, 9 April 2009

Need a giggle?

I realise that my blog is becoming a directory for other, funnier blogs, but I have to mention this one - Slightly South of Sanity - which has had me in blissful fits of giggles this evening. Oh I do love a laugh. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, 8 April 2009


While I'm wrestling with picture books (you should see the paper cuts) check out this funny and honest new blog called The Fertility Diaries.

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