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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Why? Why must I sleep?

I officially feel like a college student in a way I never did at HACC.

Jetlag sure is a bitch. A couple of nights ago, I was bedding down at 7:30pm and waking up around midnight. It's a little better now, although the lack of sleep is still affecting my brain i.e. I am saying the most STUPID things in class. Every time I open my mouth, something malformed and ill-conceived drops out of it. It's affecting my self-esteem rather dramatically.

I've started to practice the cello for around two hours a day, with the intention of increasing that to three in a fortnight. Occasionally I manage to sound all right, but sight-reading tenor clef in orchestra rehearsal has resurrected my long-disused faking skills. Thank Christ for my training as a master faker in my years as a violist. As far as muscle pains go, so far, so good (knock on wood), although lugging my laptop all around campus on Monday made my shoulders super-tense (I've since procured a new battery for my cheapo iPaq and can return to looking uber-faux-yuppie with my PDA-and-infrared-keyboard setup).

I suddenly hate being the new girl. In the past, I didn't mind so much, but entering fulltime music school halfway through a course as a 26-year-old is less of an adventure. This is not like HACC, where I really didn't give a shit whether I made friends or not. I would genuinely like to get to know people at West Chester. For a start, I'm not taking completely veggie courses, so it would be nice to have classmates I could rely upon as study/practice partners or just to take notes if I miss a class. And I'm probably going to be working with these people for a few years, not just a semester, so I should try to form some bonds, right?

Most of the people in my classes are much younger than me, and have their own established friendships already. I don't feel like imposing myself on them. When I was a teenager, I couldn't stand mature-age students. The few classmates at West Chester that are my age (three total in all of my classes, as far as I can reckon) don't really seem interested in being friends. Maybe that's because everything I say lately identifies me as an utter moron with verbal diarrhoeia; I'm not sure.

This was so much easier when I lived on campus as a new uni student ten years ago and spent my time systematically increasing my alcohol tolerance. Or when I had an office job and spent eight hours a day sitting next to the same few people. Or when I was an actor and had all my socializing needs happily fulfilled at work.

The bright side, of course, is that music is a generally solitary pursuit, and with no social connections or obligations whatsoever, I am forced to practice during breaks in my schedule to avoid looking like a lonely nigel wandering campus by myself. Hence, two hours a day, easy!

Will the rain ever stop? It has been overcast ever since the thunderstorm on the night we arrived home.

All of this whining aside, I really am glad to be where I am. Except for the lack of knowledge I have regarding my household's next paycheck, things are pretty good.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Home sweet home

Huzzah! I am home!

29 fucking hours of travel. A nightmare.

First, thanks to alleged terrorists and retarded and pointless overreactions to alleged terrorists, our plane was an hour and a half late taking off from Brisbane airport, since all boarding passenger had to turn out the entire contents of their cabin luggage in the search for that most dangerous of substances, liquids. They even threw out my Sharpie. Can't have that dangerous Sharpie ink on the plane. We were then subjected to perfunctory full-body pat-downs (women in one line, men in the other) which I daresay wouldn't actually stop a terrorist who put his or her mind to it. In any case, I didn't feel any safer or less safe.

After roughly thirteen hours of flying, we arrived in LA four hours before we left and banged around for five hours waiting for our domestic flight. Something about the jetlag scrambled my brain, and I checked our luggage far too early, which of course meant that our luggage was among the last to be loaded onto the baggage claim conveyor belt in Philadelphia.

This made us miss the most convenient train into the city, which made us miss the best train to Downingtown, so we had to sit at 30th Street Station for an hour and a half waiting for the last train of the evening service.

Just as the train pulled up, a giant thunderstorm hit.

Between the first and second stops, the train came to a halt. The thunderstorm had brought trees down all over the place. We had already hit one lying on the tracks, and were now faced with another, more insurmountable tree-hurdle, which had not only blocked our way, but brought down powerlines.

I guess we were stuck between stations, unable to leave the train, without any power but the dim auxilliary lights, for about two hours. The guards finally consented to ripping out the emergency windows because of the stifling heat and the awful stench of Friday night revellers throwing up copious volumes of alcohol- and nicotine-laden vomit in the first carriage. Eagles fans fresh from a preseason game pissed into a cup in the last carriage. The folk in our cabin tried to make light of the situation, and even made some passingly amusing conversation, but it was bloody awful.

Eventually, a "rescue train" pulled up next to us, and we were herded into bright flourescent lights and sent on our way. At least I managed to finally finish The Satanic Verses on the way home.

I'm weary. But goddamnit, I can't sleep for the bloody jetlag.

And, oh dear God, there's so much to do.

I take comfort in a joyful reunion with the cats, and the blissful insomnia of blessed, blessed unlimited FiOS. Oh, internet, real internet, I've missed you so.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Priceless gem from the comment box

Two hours ago, I received this priceless comment from an anonymous reader regarding a blog entry I posted over a year ago:
Gee, I'm glad I saw this blog. Cuz I'll do everything I can to stop any petition. I'm not going to allow a song written by a group of jackasses I've never heard of actually become our state song. There's nothing wrong with the song we have now about our country side and our history (unless you live in Philly). Personally I think it's not any of your buisness what our state song is unless you were born in this state. No one wants the opinon somebody who just moved in and I definately don't think our state song is up to some idiot from Germany. There are a ton of songs about PA and do u really believe that a parental advisory-marked song would become our state song?

Too many things at which to laugh. "Idiot from Germany"? Do you think he confused Australia with Austria? In any case, I sincerely hope he never breeds.

In sadder news, the State Library of Queensland is closed for renovations until early December. This depressed me. However, Matt and I spent today at Lone Pine doing cheesy things like hand-feeding kangaroos and alerting rangers to the presence of a water dragon that had become good and stuck trying to climb through the links of a cyclone fence.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Vacation blues

There's so much going on both externally and internally that I don't know how to put it on a screen without resorting to cliches and cheese. So fuck it.

I feel terrible for Mum, who will be checking out of hospital finally this Friday - the day we fly back to the States. At least we spent some good quality time together on day leave. There are feelings of hope and tenderness there which I haven't felt in a long, long time. I just want her to be happy.

Visiting Dad's grave was not as gut-wrenching as I thought it might be. There's probably some residual anger in my grieving process - when I gave the monument masons the chosen picture of Dad to mount on his gravestone, and they told me it "wasn't very good," I came close to snapping, "Well, shit, I'm sorry we didn't think to organize a glamor photography session while he was DYING OF CANCER." I held my tongue.

I miss Lucy, Jason and Anthony with a keenness I haven't felt in a long time as well. I suppose that happens when you visit faraway loved ones. Bittersweetness and all that.

Anthony says he doesn't read my blog unless I mention him in every entry.

I'm currently staying in the home of my Greek father, John, his wife Prescilla, and my 13-year-old brother, Mihali. This is Matt's first encounter with this side of the family. Things are going well, but every day I feel completely exhausted, as though from some sort of subconscious emotional overload.

Today I went back to my old school, and was given a tour through the older buildings as well as the sparkling new facilities. Do other people find their schools have some sort of hold over them, or is it only because I went there for eleven years (and enjoyed it more than I probably should have)? From the moment I stepped onto the grounds, I started blushing uncontrollably. Spotted through classroom windows and rear doors were glimpses of many of my former teachers, ten years older, which seemed to make the blushing worse. It only subsided when I sat down for coffee with my viola teacher, Loreta, in the relatively new ($6 million) music school's staff room.

Somerville's school fees are now $10,000 per year.

My feet ache from ludicrous amounts of walking.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Tell her she's dreaming

I am convinced that I am actually living in a dream and that I'm not really here.

Buttons keep coming off things, for a start. I'm not kidding. At least eight buttons have come off my clothes in the last four days. I think I've had that many buttons come off my clothing in my entire adult life previously. I must be dreaming. It must mean something subconscious, like when I dream about all my teeth falling out. I wonder what buttons falling off means. I'll have to look that up when I awaken.

Also, I am being stalked by Bryan Ferry. Not literally -- but this is a dream, after all. I saw his name in a magazine, and discovered that Matt doesn't know of him (another clue that I'm dreaming - how can Matt not know who Bryan Ferry is?). Suddenly, he was everywhere. I saw him four more times in the same magazine. And walking into a bookshop a little while later, I discovered no less than three of his albums amongst the secondhand LPs during my extremely brief and cursory examination of the shop's wares before I stopped looking in alarm.

Aforementioned magazine was the most recent issue of UK Tattler, which also proved that I have no current connection to reality by containing stories about £115,000 bottles of perfume and face masks made of beluga caviar.

The light switches work. This is a very advanced dream.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I still call Australia home

I am in Australia! It's kind of chilly.

Catching up with Jason and Lucy = awesome.

We spent yesterday ... uh, Friday Pacific Time, in Los Angeles. Since we hired a car, it was actually a great day. Matt and I totally geeked out at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Tomorrow I'm going to see Trevor and Mum.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's hot.

You know, I really wouldn't mind all the snow and freezing temperatures I have to endure in the wintertime here in Pennsylvania if it weren't for the stinking goddamn summers. I didn't think a few months of decent weather was too much to ask for, but apparently it is. We're lucky to get two weeks of decent weather in the spring and fall.

We are now living in Downingtown permanently and fulltime, although it's nowhere near as complete as I wanted it to be before we leave for Australia. There are boxes everywhere, and no kitchen floor - the fridge and the unconnected oven/stove are in the living room. The most complete room is the bathroom, and even that's missing wall tiles, a finished ceiling, and two pieces of drywall.

The other day, Matt and I spent hours packing up the last of our belongings in Harrisburg, cleaned the rooms, and made it back to Downingtown exhausted at midnight. The next morning, I woke up and stumbled through the moving rubble to the bathroom, and saw an unfamiliar salt shaker on the lip of the sink. Strange, I thought. Maybe Matt picked that up somewhere and brought it home. I walked out of the bathroom and saw an unfamiliar box. That's odd too, I ruminated. Maybe Matt packed it when I wasn't looking. I wonder what's in it. The box was full of unfamiliar new kitchen utensils.

"Matt? Matt can you come down here and look at this?"

As Matt pulled himself reluctantly from bed the mattress on our bedroom floor, I suddenly caught sight of a set of blue drawers that also didn't belong to us.

For a few seconds, I honestly thought that we had deliriously packed up somebody else's house without noticing. The next thought was that I had developed some sort of memory problem and didn't recognize my own belongings. Four hours sleep a night can do strange things to your understanding of existence.

Luckily, it was nothing more sinister than Matt's brother, Ryan, moving his stuff in while we were out. The in-laws gave him a key. Ryan is looking after the house and the cats while we're in Australia. I was kind of embarrassed about the state of our house, but he's been roughing it in India for the past few weeks, sleeping in the jungle covered in ants or something, so our unfinished floors and walls are an improvement.

I just found out a few minutes ago that Mum is back in the psych ward, and has been since Sunday. She reduced her medication again. This has been the reason for her hospital stays the last three times at least. After the last time, a court made her take injections at a clinic for a while, but when that injunction expired, she took liberties again.

It seems every time Matt comes to Australia, the first thing he has to do is visit my mum in a mental institution.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Moving sucks my goddamn balls.

However, I discovered yesterday that the theme for third anniversaries is leatherrrrrrrr. Matt and mine is coming up next month. How wonderful!

I'm going to be in Australia in five days. Fuck. There's so much to do. My house has been attacked by the moving tornado.