Wednesday, 29 July 2009

I Wasn't Kidding...

Apparently we are moving house with one of these. Yep, I mean the trolley, not the van behind it. To complement this plan I shall be handing boxes to passers-by: "Just pop that seven doors down, would you? Ta."

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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Flexible, Perplexible Me

Oh, Life, you surprising thing you. Just when I thought we'd decided on the next step:
Move bayside

Get dog...
...You pull one of your famous stunts and we find ourselves with a rather different outcome:
Moving 7 doors down the road

Got cat

Moving down the road seems horribly unadventurous; just a bit too easy. Maybe emigrating took it all out of us and we'll have to move seven doors at a time from now on. But I find myself wondering how on earth we're going to do it - practically, I mean. We can't really load it all into a removals van, drive for approximately four seconds, and then unload it all. Surely.

I could nick a trolley from Coles and move us bit by bit. Reckon I'd have us out of here and into there in roughly 97 round trips.

There's no one more surprised that we're sticking in this area than me. Except maybe The Australian, who said this morning that he never would have imagined in a million years - judging by my determination a few weeks ago to try somewhere new - that we'd stay. "Yeah, well, like I keep telling you, I'm very flexible." He laughed, long and loud. I can't think why.

He's only getting away with the derisive laughter because of the surprise he brought home yesterday. I received a text while he was at a meeting: Do you want a cat? I replied: What?? He texted: He's so nice. I replied: Call me. Half an hour later, no phone call, and he's on the doorstep with a sheepish grin and "Shadow", a 10-month old Tonkinese whose favourite position is to lie between me and my laptop, demanding attention. 'The dog ate my homework' should now be altered thus: 'the cat fell asleep on the delete button'.

I leave you with the wonderfully talented Tim Minchin, whose song Inflatable You inspired today's blog post title.

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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

There's No Place Like...

I've come to the conclusion that I'm more of a homebody than I ever imagined. When I went away to university, when I officially moved out of the family home for good, and again when I emigrated, I allowed myself to believe that I was slightly more exciting - that I wasn't bound by piffling concepts like "feeling settled". But the gig's up. I don't need to know where I'm going to be in five years but I need to know where I'm going to be living in August - right now I don't, and suspect that's why I can't write. And when I'm not writing, I'm hideous.

On the same theme but slightly bigger picture, the trouble is I'm not convinced I can ever truly feel 'at home' in Australia. As much as I love it, as much as Melbourne itself feels like somewhere I could be really happy, being here feels like being away. Even after more than a year, it doesn't even feel real. It's got the allure of adventure, and of learning new things, and of being an alien (for all I moan about that side of things, and for all the other Poms in this place). But it's not home.

We've been given the heave-ho on the lovely house we've been renting since we emigrated (and not because The Australian has singed one wall with the bbq - they don't know about that yet - but because they're selling it). This house is in a very nice neighbourhood, with very nice schools and very nice neighbours. It's... very nice. And what have I decided? We should leave the area completely. Jack this place in. Start again somewhere else in the city. Meet new mums. Make the children say goodbye to the friends they love. Wipe out all of my useful local knowledge (fortunately that's not much, as happens when you walk around with your head in the clouds).

It sounds selfish when I put it like that. Maybe it is. Maybe the children will hate me for a little while. Maybe the neighbours won't be as nice elsewhere. Maybe the new place (mythical right now - we might be on a park bench if we don't find somewhere soon) won't be a better fit.

Maybe you simply have to stay still a bit longer for a place to feel like home.

Gawd, it's all a bit sombre in here. Let me lighten the mood with a writers' joke:

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.

She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"

"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."

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Monday, 6 July 2009

Pinky, Perky and Parky have left the building

I'm pleased to announce that the Meg Ryan Talisman did the trick - the big red cross has been wiped from my front door. Judging by the number of neighbourhood folk who've inquired after my health since my self-imposed quarantine was lifted, I must have briefly been part of Local Gossip - how thrilling.

Funny how life can give a writer unexpected gifts of insight - being cooped up all that time (okay, it was 5 days but I have 2 small children so triple that) and then getting back into the swing of things again was a really useful exercise seeing as the new YA novel I've begun is about a teenager suffering from agoraphobia...I got a small but useful whiff of what being safe and sound at home feels like and how much of a mental leap it is to go back outside again. Just a hint of the mindset I'll need to get myself into - maybe it wasn't Michael Parkinson's fault that I got ill after all, but my own mind playing Method Writer.

Speaking of mental leaps, it has taken me a long time to be able to write "funny" again. When I wrote Girl, Aloud (Jan 2010 - don't all rush out, it's aaaages away) I had no agent, and no expectations other than to please myself. And I did. I made myself laugh something rotten (terrible thing to admit but if you can't laugh at your own jokes...) Since then I've completed a more serious book. At first it was a struggle not to stick silly jokes in, but after a while the voice became second nature. Now I've had to go back to funny, only it's not just myself I've got to please...I worry that if I can't recreate the scenario in which I wrote the first book, I'll never make a success of this one. Barmy? Yes, especially considering the fact that I was 8 months pregnant when I wrote Girl, Aloud.

The Australian had better RUN.

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