Because the world needs more overwrought candour.

Friday, January 21, 2005

I wonder if the metrosexual scourge has made it harder for gay guys to find each other. If the whole dress-well stereotype of gay men was created in order to be able to identify other members of the gay subculture in a world of poorly-dressed men, how much harder is it now that heteros are wearing distressing jeans too?
Someone told me this joke recently and it appealed to me, but everyone I've told it to winces. Is my sense of humor that far out? Here tis:

If Milli Vanilli fell over in the woods, would someone else make a sound?

See, it's great. You love it.


My plan to become a marriage celebrant in Japan isn't going as well as I thought - the position has been filled and there is only a dim hope of 'future possibilities'. I'm probably going to end up in sex work or something equally unfortunate. If I was cute, coy, willing to laugh at silly jokes told by Japanese businessmen, and female, there'd be no problem - hostess work pays ridiculously well, without the whole stripper nastiness. But is there any demand for hosts? No. None. I mean, I can simper with the best of them. But that, clearly, is not enough.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Another week away, down past Portland, at Jules' holiday house at Cape Bridgewater. Jules' family were old colonial pioneers down there until a two-generation application of bad business practices saw them lose their land to intruders from the West. But that's all water under the bridge, and both families - old owners and new - come down with associated aunties, cousins, friends and kids every summer and holiday amicably. Jules tells me he wants to be buried at Bridgewater, which is not something I've ever thought about, but it shows the ancestral meaning that the place holds for them. Jules' dad built a house down there in his early twenties, scavenging unwanted bluestone from old prisons and massive timbers from the railroads and the land from his brother, a tiny remnant of the mini farming empire. He did well - the house is startling. Flat to the ground, unobtrusive, the inside is dominated by sheet glass windows that stretch the entire length of the house, giving a view from coast to coast and the best sunsets in the world. He lived in a caravan for the two years it took, working as an abalone diver when licenses were cheap and we hadn't discovered the insatiable Asian desire for their flesh. Now, Jules and his friends harvest abalone on the side once a year, the midgets on the shoulders of giants, diving off the edge of the cape itself, perhaps five hundred metres from a seal colony. The seals are prime targets for sharks, and while I've thankfully only ever seen one in my fevered imagination, a five metre white pointer took the prop off the seal tour boat a few weeks before we arrived. Diving for abalone is a remarkable experience - modified to withstand attentive fish and the churning swells near rocky shores, the critters are solid muscle and you can rip their shell off before they'll let go. You duck dive off a bommie (rocky underwater outcrop), through four metre kelp strands and hang on to the base of the seaweed, scouring the area for weed encrusted shells. The swells roll through, swirling the kelp around you and it can be disorientating. Once, I was too ambitious and stayed down too long, trying to lever a particularly stubborn abalone off with an ab knife. Coming up fast, I was snared in a kelp net, the slippery brown strands wrapping around my arms and legs, keeping me from the surface. I panicked and struggled wildly, streams of bubbles trickling up to the surface, and the kelp relented.

The week was good, full of sun and surf and alcohol. The young un's form a separate party and live separate lives to the adults, thrashing utes around the fields, surfing, swimming, playing soccer on the beach. For the first time, we canoed out to the seal cave, just around the tip of the coast. Bridgewater has the biggest swells in Victoria, I think, and when we rounded the coast, the swell picked up. We wanted to get out of the water for lunch, so we tried to get alongside a rock platform. The first canoe aimed for a crevice and paddled hard on the crest of a large swell, lodging there as the water fled back. Inspired by the seeming ease of the feat, Willy and Jack (who had been drinking) decided to ditch the whole crevice boarding method and paddled full tilt at the platform, only to slide backwards and sideways and into the water as the wave retreated. The two clung to their submerged canoe with panicked expressions - scared of sharks and seals and the sea. The seal tour boat was watching us, tourists with video cameras and concerned expressions. While trying to help Wil and Jack in, Jules and I fell victim to another wave, so there were four of us being churned around with two sinking canoes. With a good deal of luck and grunt work, we got out, but it was terrifying, and probably stupid. But for all that, a hell of a lot of fun - the tour boat operator yelled, "we'll submit that to Funniest Home Video's," so stay tuned.

Two of the guys there had Japanese girlfriends, who were more than happy to brief me on Japan. I now know how to say cheers (kambai!) and that Tokyo and Osaka have a dysfunctional relationship similar to Melbourne's relationship to Sydney. I had a fascinating conversation with one of the girls, Satomi, who was a lot more lively and extroverted than I would have expected for such a gender segregated culture. She told me that she'd been at uni (but studying Home Economics, so you feel qualified to be a housewife) and worked for a while (as an office lackey - the glass ceiling is more like concrete in Japan) before becoming disillusioned with the whole deal and taking off alone to Australia and Asia. I was nodding along, expecting her to conclude that her taste of freedom made her want more, when she abruptly changed course. "But now that I have traveled, I am much more happy to be a housewife and raise a family," she said. Go figure.

I paid for my ticket today, so it's official. I am going to Japan, in a month from today. I've been waking up at the witching hour, 3 am, for the last week or so. 3 am is the time when thoughts that have the strength to permeate sleep force themselves upon me and pester me until I'm a wreck. Is this stupid? What if I don't get a job? What if I hate it? By day, optimism reasserts itself, but at night I'm easy prey. I made the decision to go when I was in a different frame of mind, a little down, a little over Melbourne, and now I'm in the upswing of summer but my ticket's still booked, any hint of a career is on hold and now I've got to go. God, I hope it's worth it.


Oh, and what's with intelligent young women adopting ditzy personas? A couple of people I met down south were obviously highly intelligent but didn't act it at all. They even simpered on demand, when the occasion required. Perhaps they think they'll never get a guy if they seem more intelligent than him. Whatever it is, it's hugely unappealing. Please stop it.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

There was a party at our house last night, and I took myself out of commission by about two in the morn, after being plied with drinks (I may have been involved in the plying as well). As I slumped into bed, ready for a drunken assault on sleep, two horny young things opened the door, obviously nervous because they were talking QUITE LOUDLY to ward off demons and discovery. They flicked on the light in order to find a fresh bed in which to sport and despoil, only to find me, rather drunk and rather unhappy at this invasion. I hope I muttered something witty and angry, but my reaction was probably closer to a cross between a leer and a grimace. They fled. I slept. And as usual, missed the interesting part of the night. Every time I slink off to bed at one of our parties, the real fun starts - lines of coke in our pantry (perhaps just a rumour), police, drunken girls breaking chairs, people getting frisky on the couches, etc. I need more stamina, I think. Anyway, this time we had an infestation of fuck-hunters, a team of disgusting men who I hope had no connection to any housemate. They would rove through the crowd, seeking women, ascertain with military precision their relationship status and, if single, their likelihood of putting out. At a predetermined time, they would meet back at the rendezvous point (a blue sofa) and share their findings, isolating the eligible and concentrating their forces on these weak points. I really hope they all ended their nights with an unsatisfying, drunken wank. Or got together, after finding that their sex drives were best suited to each other. Really, who are these people? Who let them in? Oh, and people were snorting some kind of white shit, substance unknown. Woo. And as always, we housemates got attitude from people were better dressed (they had badges) but were unaware that we were the rent-payers and their hosts and that they were here on our sufferance. Next party: nametags for housemates. Perhaps even a uniform. Authority, that's what we need.


In an interesting turn of events, my lovers of last year are returning one at a time, bringing back a surge of mixed emotions with them. One to combat loneliness, another from overseas with a new boyfriend left at home, the third coming from overseas in a week. I don't know how to feel. I'm off in a month, which means I leave everything behind except a sweet sadness, a melancholy, a memory, the things I keep close by. There's always a residue of love, the lingering. I didn't know how I'd feel about the new boyfriend, considering how much it hurt when we parted, but love, like an illness, leaves behind an immunity, a vaccination against further invasion and so we could talk freely, in a strange, sweet post-mortem, a tiny bubble of time given to us before she left again for her real life in the mother country. She was careful not to let me hope, careful to emphasize the difference between what was and what is, what will be, and yet for one moment of one day there was a possibility that opened and closed, a window that held neither vain hope or pain.


I applied for a working holiday visa at the Japanese consulate, and was kinda scared about it. I'd called the visa section a couple of times, seeking information, only to be given the cold shoulder by the brusque man on the other end. When he appeared at the window, I knew it was him - middle aged, resenting his post amongst the wide-eyes, given a little power to flaunt and make lives difficult. He flicked through my documents, told me I'd missed something crucial and made me fill out some forms. I nervously took the completed forms back to him only to hear dissatisfaction erupt from his mouth. "Look, you can't live in any one place for more than three months," he said. "But.. but we want to." He sighed. "Just put Osaka for three months and Kyoto for three months." From there, he went through the entire form telling me what to write and what to leave out, and even smiled. From arsehole to Mr. Helpful in three minutes or less.


My brother studied Japanese in high school, and I'm trying to pick up the most basic bits of the language from him. I don't think it's going to be easy. In formal conversation, you emit a "Hie!" for yes, with military pronunciation (Sir! Hie, Sir!) and "Ooe" (I think) for no, which sounds like yes in English. My time would be better spent practicing charades for several hours a day.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I haven't written in a while - got back from Perth not long ago. Perth was nice, full of sun, beach and relatives. And shark fears. Can't forget those. There's a shark out there somewhere with a disposition for regularity - two years in a row, it has dropped by the suburban Perth beaches, which groan under the weight of the summer throngs, and selected a fine morsel in the early days of January. The first year, it killed someone, but I think the second one got away. Needless to say, the beaches are empty in early Jan now. But even though we were in the off season, we were still terrified of sea beasties. One day we swam in a protected little pool, content and safe, until we saw a fin nearby. But everyone started pointing, not screaming and it soon turned out to be a stingray masquerading as its larger and scarier cousin. Prick.

Not much to write about my time away, except that my gran is old and getting older, weighed down by emphysema, and you can see she's terrified of what happens next. But what is there to say? She's too strong and set in her ways to take up the crutch of religion at this late a date. Words of solace are impossible. She reads the West Australian daily to see if any of her friends have died. Her bridge group has dwindled through attrition from 15 to eight. What is there to say?

After a quiet week in Perth, we headed south for Christmas to a small town featured in Tim Winton's West Australia. Two cousins came along, 15 and 13, both precocious (broken family) and strangely difficult to deal with. We'd been warned about the thirteen year old - an ADHD child, apparently - and she was a handful, but not in the way I'd expected. West Australia has three times the rate of dexamphetamine prescription, and there was no way she was escaping chemical control (a substitute for a stable background?). Drugging someone into a placid, cow-like mentality seems medically dubious - especially since she seemed not to have a attention deficit, but rather a deficit of attention. The third child, she sought attention for so long they gave it a name and a prescription cure.

I got back on December 30th. I generally hate New Years - overhyped, too many expectations - and was fine with going to a party till midnight and skiving off home. Darling Melinda invited me along to the party she was going to, which sounded fun, but at the last minute she suddenly remembered her new beau was to be there and he would therefore be due a large proportion of her time. I begged off, and made a couple of desperate calls - ah, Willy, up to anything tonight? Oh, I see - but just ended up sounding like a pathetic loser. My housemate walked in, about to head off to her party and found me playing with the new kitten. She took pity on me and cajoled me into going to her party, which turned out to be much fun, although I have a dim, embarassing memory of meeting someone called Jedda, like the early Australian film, and asking her whether she was part-Aboriginal, when it was clear as day she was very European.

Other news - I got offered a position with Nova, but I think I'll turn it down. My brother and I found a fantastic opportunity, which hopefully we'll nail - we'll be Christian pastors in Kyoto, performing marriage ceremonies for Japanese couples who lust after the look of a Western wedding. Seriously. I'd heard of it, but never thought I'd get to do it. What fun! Robes, confetti, Japanese characters chopped up into bite-sized Western syllables, and decent pay too. Hope we get it. We bought our tickets today - leaving mid Feb. Isn't it strange - I made these plans when I was depressed and wanting to change everything around me, so of course life starts picking up in Melbourne, and I'll get to Japan and suffer immediate culture shock and loneliness for the first month.

Thinking: Perhaps the reason tall poppy syndrome is so entrenched in Australia is because there's no equivalent of the American Dream. So we attack those with dreams, the high achievers, dragging them down to our level to be equal in mediocrity. And the underpinnings of mateship and egalitarianism mean we can't scorn those beneath, just those above.

Really, is there any incentive like envy? Over in Perth I came across an article about a 23 year old who'd published a book and written four more, an intelligent guy, clued in, nice work ethic and I thought goddamn, why am I waiting. So now I have a plan for a book, which will no doubt be shit.