Wow, that’s better! I’ve filed my story and all’s well (yesterday I was sick with anxiety over whether or not I’d done a good job – I’d been recommended to the editor by my Volunteer Reader, and the idea of letting down VR made my gut twist), which is a huge relief and just a load off because it required a lot of work, a lot of research, as have my other big jobs of late, of which the last in a three-part series is due next week. So I haven’t quite cleared the decks, but I can breathe again for what feels like the first time in weeks. Without doubt this has been the busiest Sept/October of my freelance career. Financial crisis? That old thing? We just threw it out and now it’s business as usual.
Anyway, I feel a million times better having had the okay, because I went for a 10 km run, jumped in the water and even caught a couple of waves for my trouble. Then I came back to my desk – scene of my recent 12-15 hour days, and I know a lot of people put those hours in all the time, but man, I didn’t move from out behind this big old block of wood – and drafted my next post for the Varuna blog, and now I am finally back here for what feels like a breather. Hey, gang, how you doin’?
So the good news is we’re going to Shanghai (cue desk dance). As Darkling Deb said, it’s just like Thredbo. Llew and I are just up and leaving town for a couple of weeks. As in, we leave next Friday. I didn’t really believe it would happen, but then we just got online the other night and booked our tickets and now we’re going. I’m heading to the Chinese Consulate tomorrow to pick up our passports. It’s starting to feel real. It’s been soooo loooong since we’ve been anywhere together. Three long years since we had an overseas holiday, or really any sort of holiday at all. We did go to WA for a week for the Surf Lifesaving Championships about two and a half years ago, but that was a surf club thing for Llew’s rowing crew, and I was sick, freezing and convinced I had hypothermia the whole time. Thank god we were near wine country. I managed to self-medicate with three straight days of dedicated wine tasting before we flew home. But even that was many moons ago. I’ve aged since then. I need a holiday. We both do.
Shanghai. Shanghai is one of those cities I’ve always been busting to see. I’ve always been fascinated by hubs of grubby iniquity, and there’s nothing like an opium den to really pique my curiosity. Not that I expect I’ll actually get to see one, but that’s where they used to be. I know the deplorable reality of drugs, they’re not glamorous, and they destroy lives, but still there’s always seemed something, dare I say it, romantic about an old-fashioned opium den… I don’t know when or why I first thought, “Cool, I’d like to get me some of that” of Shanghai, but it’s one of those towns that’s always been high on my hit list, and one of the only ones in my top ten I’ve not yet seen. Also still to come: Havana, Cuba (I’m riveted, always have been, and can’t believe I’ve never clapped eyes on the place) and Cairo, Egypt (not only home to the pyramids, but also the great city that graciously spawned a very old and dear friend I never get to see because she’s, you know, an actual Egyptian). But Shanghai is only 10 hours from Sydney, so this time, Shanghai it is. I’ve heard some dicey things about that People’s Republic firewall, but I’ll definitely be trying to blog direct from the Bund. Won’t that be fun?? I really think it will.
In other news, the tenants upstairs have moved out, and we took the opportunity to beg the body corporate to do something about the lack of sound-proofing between our two apartments. Finally the owner came round, although it took some doing, and for the past two days I have listened to the thump, crash and chatter of workmen overhead, thinking, Gee, I hope the underlay’s not down yet, because that’s as loud and clear as ever… It pains me to say the new underlay and flooring is now down, and there’s been no improvement whatsoever. I gaped at the workmen yesterday when they did the sound test between floors. I was trying to proof my story and wanted them all to die. And then one walked past me holding a roll of what looked like yoga mat material, and I pointed at it and said, “That, that’s it? That’s all?”
“It’s very expensive,” they assured me.
“Oh, I’m sure it is.” Yeah, they’ll get that right, don’t you worry. No mistake there. “But it hasn’t done anything. It’s no better at all. Not. At. All.”
And then I started pulling out tufts of hair, standing on the upstairs landing already seeing into the future, when the new tenants move in and I’ll be able to hear their every conversation, argument, phone call and sex act. Tears sprang to my eyes.
“Sorry,” they said.
I tried to speak but just had to turn on my heel and walk away. And now I’m down here listening to them finishing up and all I want to do is scream my head off. I’m confident they’d hear it.