The Last Dance Before the Music Stops

September 2, 2012 at 10:34 am (Uncategorized)

We’re galloping toward the end of the Grand Tour, I am desperately sorry to say, and the time in Cefalu is already flying by. We’ve been joined by two gatecrashers: Llew’s parents arrived from Australia on Thursday, inspired by our rave reviews into booking their own Italian sojourn. They’re staying with us for a week, then heading off to the Amalfi and then on to Rome where we’ll meet again, though this time in separate accommodation. This apartment was huge for 2.5 of us, but we’re pretty cosy now! It’s been wonderful seeing the Touring Toddler’s response to the arrival of his grandparents; we weren’t sure how long it would take him to warm up, but in the event it was no time at all. He’s absolutely loving them being here, which of course is the best possible reception for Grandma and Granddad.


It’s funny after 3.5 months abroad to be suddenly talking about Australian politics and Australian society and Australian sport and Australian media again… I haven’t missed it, and aside from catching up with family and friends, I am not looking forward to going home. I just don’t want to be there anymore, and I am not sure what we are going to do about it as Llew feels very much the same. I had thought that a trip of this magnitude might attend to the itch to be elsewhere, but all this prolonged and exquisite scratching has only inflamed it.


We have a great life in Sydney, we love it, it’s home and we’re very privileged to have a place there, plus it hopefully goes without saying that we love our family and everyone in our wide circle of friends, but none of it has been able to extinguish the desire to start all over again somewhere else. And that desire has been compounded by a gradual but steady erosion over the past few years of my natural affection for other Australians. I’ve always liked my country, I’ve always liked my fellow Aussies, I’ve always been a big believer in the place and its people. But I realise from this remove that my faith has been quietly diminishing over time – there’s a variety of reasons for that, it’s not one thing – and now the thought of having to go back makes me want to cry.


I guess I am a bit disillusioned politically, philosophically, economically, intellectually and socially, and while perhaps I have no one but myself to blame for that, still I seem to feel better about things now I’m out of Australia. Of course, that is partially a function of denial: we have been avoiding addressing the reality of our situation, which is that we’re both unemployed. We have a child. We have a mortgage. We have bills. None of that is going to be pleasant – reentry promises to be unusually turbulent and we face a really hard time trying to work through our prospects. Hopefully we’ll eventually come up with some sort of plan for our future. Currently all we know is that the job market is pretty terrible for both of us, not just in Australia but around the world. Besides which, Llew doesn’t even want another job like the one he had, working in finance for a big bank. So he may well be starting from scratch in another industry, or taking a number of risks trying to work for himself. I have no idea what his next job looks like or where it will be.


And what job shall I start looking for…? It’s not exactly a great time to be an out-of-work writer – journalists are losing their jobs, and those that still have them are holding on for dear life. Part-time or full-time? And will I even earn enough to pay for the childcare I’ll require to return to the workforce at all? And what will be the effect on the Touring Toddler of all these huge changes to our household? Speaking of which, without jobs we can’t even afford to live in our own home upon our return. We need rent income to cover the mortgage repayments, so immediately upon landing in Sydney, we’ll have to find new tenants, move the rest of our stuff into storage and stay with Llew’s parents until we sort ourselves out. Really, the whole thing is a shambles. No wonder we favour denial. Denial’s been fun.


I had a dream last night all my teeth fell out, so the party is definitely winding down as my subconscious starts cracking the whip. I’m officially concerned for our future. But in the meantime, hey, we’re loving Sicily, and if we’re going down, we’re going down in a blaze of misspent euros. We’re in Italy, and it’s a beautiful life.



  1. charlotteotter said,

    Oh, I’m all about going down in a blaze! Squeeze the last drops of fun out while you can.

    Plus, I have no doubt that with your talents and ability that you will find work easily back home. Have you considered Corp Comms? It does nothing for the poet’s soul, but it is one way to use those journ skills while also bringing in a salary.

    • doctordi said,

      You and me both, Charlotte! We are catching those delicious final drops with wide open mouths.

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. Yeah, I am starting to wonder about Corp Comms… I have just been out of that world for so long – and I was on the sales side the last time I was there – that I have no sense of exactly what I am qualified to do. I have a very strange CV. But I guess with a PhD and years of freelance journalism experience, surely someone out there would have me…

  2. David said,

    You’ll make it — you’re both resourceful, clever, and dedicated. It’s the people with blinders on who never seem to find their way forward. And there’s a lot to be said for the blaze of glory. I’m too conservative to do it, and I often think I will regret that fact. There may not be much time left to enjoy life in a recognizable way, if the world is in fact going the way it seems to be going. Memories are precious sustainers when things are hard. You’ve got them.

    • doctordi said,

      I like to think that’s true, David – thank you for reminding me that I always have been resourceful in life and there is no reason to think the trait has abandoned me now. I have recognised, though, a tendency toward panic employment, whereby I take the very first thing I can, just to start getting some money through the door. That’s my survival instinct in action, but I think something a little savvier and more sustaining is required now. I am turning 40 in 8 days – it’s time to get serious. Just to bankroll the silliness, you understand, which as far as I can see is really what makes life worth living.

  3. soph said,

    yep transition back to reality will bite it hard and i feel the pang in my tummy for you. your friends,summer and vino will get you through…..had that teeth falling out dream……nasty.xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

    • doctordi said,

      That dream really was nasty, Soph – I ended up looking like a hillbilly, ‘Deliverance’ style.

      Thank god you’re in Sydney!!!

  4. litlove said,

    Oh Di, I had so hoped you would find something before the prospect of Australia loomed too large. How frustrated you must feel, and of course you express beautifully the sense of dislocation that successful travel will bring in its wake. Isn’t it the pits how good things also have negative side effects? But I am a strong believer that the universe will provide, IF you are in a position to receive. Who knows what the next episode will bring? But for sure, it will bring both good and bad things, and probably neither triumph nor disaster. I think we always underestimate the ability of life to be bland. Bit I also have every faith in you and feel sure that you and Llew will find your new path. You have to burn bridges and clear dead wood in order for new things to grow and new routes forward to be discovered.

    • doctordi said,

      You’re so right, Litlove – your comment makes me smile because I think you’ve caught me out on my expectation of HIGH DRAMA, when in fact this shall probably all resolve itself in the most mundane fashion.

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