Gang, I’ve been granted a stay of execution: the agent replied to my email yesterday (though I only got it today after a lovely day away from the computer), along exactly the lines I’d hoped (good news about the shortlisting; she’ll get back to me re. my MS as soon as possible). I’ve also got a much better idea what she meant when she said it would take some time to get back to me – she hasn’t even started the full read, but she hopes to have a response for me by the end of the year. As Llewie said when I told him, crikey. These things really do not happen overnight. So yes, there’s relief here at DoctorDi HQ – I’d convinced myself that I already had an answer, and it was no. Ah, it’s great to be alive and still in with a battling chance.
Speaking of chances, I’m starting IVF today. I went in for a blood test this morning and coughed up the cash – goodbye, zero credit balance, you were so fine and fetching while you lasted – and I’m currently waiting for a call from the clinic to say, “Shove that nasal spray up your ancestral Percy nose and pump.” Nasal spray that flattens out my hormones until I’m in a quasi-menopausal state. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Especially for Llew. After Maureen the nurse told us what to expect of my moods and side-effects this morning, Llew said, “Mmmm, I think I might go back to Shanghai,” to which I replied, “Actually, I think I will” – after all, no one’s asking him to snort drugs and self-inject hormones, so if anyone’s going back to Shanghai to wait out the clinic-induced crazies, I bloody well think it ought to be me. Hey, the drugs are taking effect already – and I haven’t even started using them yet…
In other news, it’s a scorcher here today, and I am so glad to be a beneficiary of that ocean breeze. Neither Llew nor I could sleep last night (pre-IVF butterflies), so we got up for a swim at about a quarter past six, and an hour later I’d been for a brief run and a second swim (the water temperature, btw, is perfect right now), still enabling me to be downtown at IVF Australia by 9 am. I love the beach. Love it. And while I am usually vile first thing in the morning, this morning was so brilliant I almost felt I was glimpsing another, early-rising me. It was strange but thrilling. I can’t really fault mornings like this one, it was a beauty.
And I can’t really complain about yesterday, either. Sometimes I need a day pass out of the office, and a tax appointment downtown with Llew and our accountant provided the perfect excuse to leave the computer plugged in at home where I couldn’t check email and otherwise obsess about the agent. I continued reading Reunion on the ferry, then strolled into Dymocks. Boo hiss to them, really, because they were one of the big corporate bullies in the parallel importation debate, and it feels a bit like sleeping with the enemy going into a Dymocks store now, but I had my gift card from my birthday and it had to be used. Mission accomplished: I strolled out again with the Australian Writer’s Marketplace, which was finally on the shelf where it was supposed to be. It’s a useful resource for any Australian writer, although I was interested to note several Sydney literary agencies I’m aware of are not listed, so it’s by no means an exhaustive directory.
After the tax appointment and lunch with Llew, I strolled up to the State Library, spying Charlotte et al‘s Brothers and Sisters prominently displayed in the Library store. Thank you very much, I thought, I’ll be having that too. Now laden with three hefty tomes, I felt properly justified retiring to the Mitchell Library for the remainder of the afternoon. I settled into one of the armchairs by the racks of periodicals, read all the fiction in the spring Meanjin, then polished off two of the short stories in B and S: Charlotte’s, because I know her (though really only because she’s pretty tops towards me, a sort of unofficial mentor, if I can even say that), and Michael Sala’s, because he’s an emerging writer. This is surely a terrific break for him, having Like My Father, My Brother included in an anthology alongside work by a short form heavyweight such as dear, dear Robert Drewe, and other disgustingly talented writers like Christos Tsiolkas. Really good on Michael Sala. Reading his story second was sort of my way of congratulating him, and it did not disappoint. I think we can expect a lot more excellent stuff from him.
Charlotte’s The Cricket Palace is such a showcase of her skills that I am so chuffed this book’s out – it’s possibly my favourite piece of her writing that I’ve read so far, although I really wouldn’t want to call it. I both laughed (out loud, shattering the deathly quiet of the library as only my hyena cackle can, and I defy anyone to read about Ruth’s family’s ad hoc podiatry and not do the same) and had to wipe my eyes at story’s end. In fact, first I stared off into the middle distance and slowly replayed it all in my mind, and that’s when tears started dribbling down my face. So big props to Charlotte – way to go, mate! I felt I loved and knew both these women so intimately; no mean feat across 28 taut pages.
After I read Michael Sala’s story, it was time to go, and I ambled through the Botanical Gardens (kicking off my sandals thanks to the invitation at the gates to Please Walk on the Grass – how lovely is that?), then around the Opera House forecourt, pausing for the fascinating Trent Parke photography exhibition by the entrance to the Studio, which documents his twelve months backstage, before buying a gelato cone by the ferry wharf, which I was just polishing off when Llewie arrived. I tell you, I should leave the office more often.
POSTSCRIPT: the clinic called, I’m good to commence treatment, so sit tight and here we go.