21 October 2008

It was the time when Brussels dreamed...It was the time of silent film...It was the time when Brussels sang...

Back to the real world, siiiiigh...

I had such a great time in Paris and Brussels. The weather was amazing, particularly given it's Autumn; the sun shone every day, I got some colour in my pasty pommie skin and I got to model all my new tshirts. Plus I got to spend an entire week with Salette, sleeping in every day, staying up late drinking cocktails, and getting tangled up and lost in each other. Paradoxically, we lost all track of time but the week just seemed to fly by. I was surprised (and delighted) how well we got along given we were never out of each other's company the whole time AND she got the flu towards the end. Coming back to gloomy old London was something of a let down, compounded by the separation anxiety I felt when I had to go home on Sunday night, and then I got sick on my first day of work.

Paris was Paris, only this time I got to see another side of it than the through the purely tourist lens. I didn't realise quite how many tourists there were until I started seeing other parts of the city, although there suddenly seems to be a law in France requiring everyone to smoke all the time and stare at my girlfriend. What the fuck, Frenchy? We stayed in a lovely hotel in the Marais with lots of windy little streets and cute cafes nearby. I got to meet Salette's brother who was on a detour from a work trip and I got the whole "what are your intentions with my sister" routine (luckily I had anticipated this and was prepared with a suitably laconic response). We ate loads of fabulous French food and got a hot tip from one of Salette's artist buddies on the best Italian place in Paris. We saw an amazing artists-in-residence centre that used to be the city funerial depot in the 1600's, so it was already a magnificent building, but they ripped the guts out of it leaving two massive open areas with modern workspaces and living quarters scattered throughout. It seemed like the whole of Paris turned out to see it on the open day and the bulk of the funding came from government which really gives you an idea of how importantly the Europeans view the arts. Contrast that with England where there's nothing even remotely like that kind of centre, let alone that level of funding for art, contemporary or experimental or otherwise; here it's all musical theatre and pantomime.

The highlight of the trip for me would have to be Brussels. It's a really wonderful city, quaint and clean and beautiful. The architecture is gorgeous and the streets are cobbled and plus there's hardly any tourists so you can walk around pretty much everywhere without being buffeted by the rampaging hordes or molested by armies of African dudes selling trinkets. We stayed in this lovely B&B with exposed beams and a mezzanine bedroom which was right across the road from the main prostitute pick up zone, although surprisingly it wasn't the least bit tacky or sleazy. We saw a brilliant live performance piece by a New York theatre company called 'Rambo Solo', where this guy described the book "First Blood" in it's entirety while behind him three video screens showed him doing exactly the same performance in his apartment at three different time periods. Seafood is big in Brussels, much to my delight, and the food was perhaps even better here than in Paris. We drank a staggering array of beers brewed by insane monks in ridiculously elaborate glasses and only barely made a dent in the available options. Salette did her annual clothes shopping pilgrimage to her favourite fashion designer and even let me pick out a couple of things for her to try on (she didn't end up buying any of my choices, though).

Can you believe it, Xmas is fast approaching and it looks like I'll be stuck in merry old England this year. It's stupidly expensive to fly back to Oz at that time of year and I'll only have accumulated 3 or 4 days of leave in the new job, so even if I could I couldn't. Salette is heading home to do family stuff in a cabin in the woods of Minnesota so it looks like I'll be hanging on like a solo...it's been a long time since I spent Xmas on my own so I'm not sure what to do with myself. They've just cut the price of an Xbox to £100 over here so perhaps a week of nerdy gaming locked away in my festering dungeon of manly funk would be a fitting xmas pressie to myself. I'm meeting Salette in San Francisco on Boxing Day so she can show me around her old stomping ground and show me off to her friends. We'll be there over New Year's as well so that will be cool. Have to start doing my research on all things San Fran...if anyone knows of anything worth seeing, help a brother out.

I started my new job this week and so far it's going swimmingly. Everyone's so nice! They've really welcomed me and gone out of their way to help me settle in. Granted, it's only day 2 so no doubt by this time next week they'll pull off their people masks and reveal themselves as the hideous alien fiends they are and attempt to lay eggs in my stomach. As you might have guessed, I'm still struggling to shrug off the robes of cynicism and suspicion of people who are being nice to me at work. It's been so long since I encountered genuine niceness and people pay attention to me because they're interested rather than acting out hidden agendas or using me to further their own ends. There's already a project lined up for me to start on, plus I've volunteered to write a pitch for some research work in the Czech Republic (which I've tentatively titled "Czech it out!"). I've got two weeks to settle in and get up to speed before diving in head first, which is exactly the way I like it.

Things couldn't be going better at the moment and the surest sign of that is I'm not in the least bit suspicious or expecting the other shoe to drop. I'm just making the most of the these good feelings and enjoying the change in fortune while it lasts...

6 October 2008

Went down to the Chelsea drugstore to get your prescription filled...Was standing in line with Mr Jimmy And man, did he look ill...

Only four more days in the Salt Mine...

There's a big few months of live music coming up over here. Last week I took Salette to see Gotye at Bush Hall in Shepherd's Bush on the end of his European tour. The venue was awesome, small and classy, but he was a bit unwell and the place was full of drunken Aussies who'd rather chit-chat at the top of their voices than listen to some kooky kick-arse music. I've not seen him before and only knew two of his songs ('Heart's a Mess' and 'Learnalilgivinanlovin') both of which I kinda like. I'm geeking out over seeing Unholy Alliance on Halloween night - Slayer, Mastodon, Trivium - then there's Russian Circles in November, and Fantomas and Isis in December.

This week got off to an interesting start as Angry Man slipped the chain at the local post office when they lost not one but two of his packages. Then I got along to the local sexual health walk-in clinic for my first ever check up. Now that Salette and I are starting to get serious (I slipped a "Will you go with me?" tick box note into her purse, and administered The Frigid Test with spectacular results) I figured it was about time I found out just how skanky and diseased my boy junk really is. She got tested only recently (all clear, woo hoo!) so you might say there was a modicum of onus upon moi to do likewise (if I ever want to get laid again, that is). I can't decide if it's a sad indictment or a refreshing burst of enlightenment that the ultimate sign of commitment in these crazy modern times is a mutual sexual health screen. "I'm free of disease" is the new "I love you", and "I'll never hurt you" has been replaced by "I won't kill you with my dick." Who said romance is dead? And all I had to do was endure the ignomy of having a swab the size of a baguette shoved up my pee hole. A small price to pay to once more ride bareback on the saucy sexy gelding of sauce along the sexy beach of saucy sexiness.

I was intimidated by Salette at first...truth be told I probably still am a bit, but it's slowly turning into awe and admiration and amazement. It's not just how I feel about her, it's how she makes me feel about me. I'm a better person when I'm with her and I'm starting to see what she sees in me...I always suspected I was awesome. I know that I'm in love with her but I haven't told her yet; I've wanted to so many times but she calls me Swifty because she thinks I rush into things. It's not the first time I've been accused of falling in love too hard and too fast (wait, or was that sex?) Plus, what if I tell her and she doesn't say it back and it breaks the spell and I realise I've been hallucinating this all along? I had a nightmare that I showed you all the picture of us from Dr Phil's party and you all said, "There's no one in the picture but you." But I wouldn't say it because I want her to say it back...just because I want her to know that's how I feel and hope that it made her happy. Still, a little reciprocation is always nice...reciprocate my brains out, baby!

I've missed being in love: the fragility of it, the power of it, the indescribable joy and the unbearable pain of it. Love is the only contradiction Nature will tolerate. I feel consumed by her, like I can't expand fast enough to contain this feeling inside me. I have no recollection of my life before her and am terrified by the thought of a future without her. Do you think I've finally atoned for all the people I hurt and Baby Jeebus is allowing me to be happy again? Is she is my reward for enduring the wrath of the Harpies? Or did I go insane from loneliness and grief and simply imagine my perfect woman?

And anyway, I SO do not rush into things! Ok, maybe I do but only when I know in my heart they're real and they're right and they're worth taking a chance on. Otherwise I'm all defensive and Pat Benetar...ask anyone. I sense that she feels the same and I know she's been hurt before too; she's unsure and cautious and she wants to know that I'm not gonna run at the first sign of affection. Hardly! I'm like a starving puppy tied to the clothesline of neglect in the backyard of indifference who's getting his first proper meal of chunky Pal affection at the RSPCA shelter of love.

Little by little I sense her slowly opening the blast doors of the furnace of her feelings for me, and I'm basking in the heat. It's truly wonderful to discover someone who likes you just as much as you like them and to see them dropping their guard to let you into their fortress. I'm taking advantage of our trip to Paris to maximise the romance factor and tell her I love her in some super romantic location. Should I do it pre-shag or post-shag, do you think? Which would have the most impact? I kinda feel that mid-shag might lose some authenticity, or be drowned out by the moaning.

I hear from the kids less and less these days. I write every week but I maybe get a reply once a month or so, and even then it's only a couple of lines. It's hard not to take it personally but I guess this is the price I pay for leaving them. The price of my happiness was to lose the only two things that made me truly happy, the only two things I did right in this life, the two things I'm proud of and love the most, who'll always be the best of me. I only hope the trade off from them forgetting about me is that I start to fade from existence and become invisible so I can spend all my time in the girl's change room at the gym and become known as the Crying Pervy Ghost Guy.