Epic adventures in international relocation #3

a growing sense of discombobulation is overtaking me as we head into the final five weeks.  everything seems to inch forward to a state of almost completion, and then founder at the last step.  can nothing be finalised until the very last week!  fuck!!

1. we’ve pretty much got tenants.  i say “pretty much” because, as ever, it won’t actually be finalised for a few more days.  they came through yesterday, put in an application immediately, transferred the deposit today, BUT can’t get into the real estate agent to sign the lease until monday.  i don’t mind since we’ve only had two open-for-inspections so far and i thought we’d have to have way more.  but this delayed signing means that we still have to have our open house on saturday, just in case they pull out before monday.  i said to lana i’m happy to take that risk – we have a bank receipt for a $3,000 bond from them after all – but she said it’s better to be safe than sorry.  or some other platitude.  and since it’s already thursday, it’s too late to cancel and people will still knock on the door anyway.  i remember when we were selling our moonee ponds place, i turned people away all the time who knocked on the door outside open-for-inspection times.  i don’t care.  but i guess i can suck it up for one more inspection.  and since i’m sure we’ve already got tenants, i just won’t clean quite as much.  i may even loiter about the study in my houseclothes, casually checking my facebook.

the tentative tenants have a 5-year-old daughter and a baby on the way in february.  the lady’s a makeup artist.  thank god i hid my makeup bags away when they came through, with their mismatched collection of l’oreal powders and blushers, rimmel eye makeup and avon lipsticks, and my eyelash curler with old mascara caked all over it, and my foundation sponge that’s degrading about on par for…a two-year-old foundation sponge.  holy bad makeup hygiene!

2. i really hate the open-for-inspections.  they deserve a place on their own in the list.  joel doesn’t like too many personal or identifying items left about so on top of everything else, i have to do a security sweep, turning photo frames around and hiding them under the bed.  personally i couldn’t care if they see a photo of us.  what are they going to do with our photographic identity and our soon-to-be-vacated address?  anyway.  i hide handbags, valuables, keys and jewellery in odd spots and later can’t remember where i’ve put them, and have to stop myself from going to the police station to falsely accuse inspectees of pilfering my sunglasses.  we have random stuff like um a reptile collection, living and stuffed, that has to be concealed or disguised.  everything i tidy, rufus runs behind and untidies.  i can never be fucked to clean out the pantry and i’m pretty sure there’s a colony of small moths breeding in the dry goods section.  WHAT-EVER!!  i’m sick of hiding the cats’ food bowls, making up the cot perfectly (as if zadie doesn’t just get a blanket flung randomly over her each night), and putting big wanker pillows and cushions all over our bed.  basically i hate the pretense that we don’t live in chaos.  go away, and let us revert back to our filth.  breed away, little moths.  you’ve picked a good spot.  you know i ain’t never gonna bake anything.  all that self-raising flour is YOURS.

3. actually, one good thing is finalised.  rufus got the 16th out of 18 positions in his kinder class for next year.  i am excited, but not elated since it’s costing AUD$4,225 a term.  for that price, dude better come out conversant not only in mandarin but also in hakka.  and aramaic.  and able to assemble a scale model of the taj mahal out of popsticks in mere minutes, and fingerpaint lucratively saleable copies of old masters.

4. my dear lizards colin and fairy have been released into suitable native parkland somewhere out the back of laverton.  no-one tell Parks and Wildlife as this surely contravenes the conditions of our wildlife licence.  i’m not ashamed to say i shed a tear as joel drove off with my two little friends in a pillowcase.  i know colin will thrive but i am quite anxious for fairy, with his half a tail and three legs.  the lack of leg in particular will rather hamper his predatory endeavours.

5. i can’t decide what to do about weaning zadie.  i think it will be easier on her if she’s weaned before we get there, so it’s one less thing for her to adjust to; but it’s surely unfair on her to be weaned in this hot weather.  also i am feeling too busy and stressed to deal with the inevitable mastitis and emotional issues that come with weaning.  and i like having an excuse to eat cheese sandwiches late at night.  but on the other hand, i don’t like the stage in our feeding relationship she’s currently at:  pinching my neck throughout, kicking me in the arm, and worst of all doing that thing where she suddenly flings her head around without releasing, dragging my nipple through all her new teeth.  and i am sick of having to wear clothes that enable easy feeding every single day.  but back to the other hand, i will never get sick of being able to sit in the recliner and watch bad teev.

well that was decisive.

6. we’ve decided to sell my car.  i’m putting it online this week but if anyone’s interested, let me know.  i drive a very soft bargain.  it’s a black 2005 honda civic, manual, less than a year out of warranty, never had a problem, full service history, economical, and in the top 5 of least emissions according to Choice.  can easily fit two car seats, and a massive pram in the boot.  takes off fast!  has loud stereo!  i want $12,000, which seems $5,000 or so cheaper than like models online.  genuinely cheap price because i want a quick sale – i’m moving overseas, for reals! 😉  69,000km on the clock.  rego until november 2010, and RWC.  tell all your homies.

the bad thing is when we sell the honda, we will have to drive joel’s ShitTruck until we leave.  summer comfort!

7. finally making some headway on all the little jobs around the house.  one day this week i was disgusted to find i’d exceeded my $1,000/day transaction limit on my EFTPOS card.  my “loot”?  one new dishwasher spray arm; two new windows replacing ones that were cracked; a downlight inspection and one new transistor in the lounge; the RWC certificate for the car; less weeds in the garden.  ungratifying.

8. we’re being jacked around with the house in HK.  it now may not be available until after chinese new year (middle of feb), but on the other hand may still be available in the middle of jan, or the end of jan.  this is making it impossible to book a shipping date, and means the cats will probably have to languish sadly in a HK cattery for an indeterminate period of time.  we have two weeks in a serviced apartment provided by my work on arrival, but then it looks like we’ll have to move into temporary accommodation for a random amount of time, and then finally into our place.  boo.  also, the start-up costs for renting in HK are prohibitively expensive.  AUD$7,000 BOND!!!

9. but speaking of shipping, tomorrow 18 packing crates are being delivered for us to have a practise pack.  they call them crates so i assume they’re quite big.  the measurements on the website are all in cubic square metres though, and how the fuck am i supposed to operate on those terms.  if i ever run a shipping company, everything will be measured in units like “half the size of a fridge, not one of those big ice-making ones, just a normal one” or “the size of a shopping trolley”.  how’m i gonna hide 18 crates for saturday’s house inspection?  i guess i could make a pyramid and fill the inner ones with valuables and reptiles, and the outside ones could be decoys filled with magazines and undies and stuff.

one good thing is the shipping company does all the packing.  so once we’ve done our practise packs over the next two weeks, we just leave everything in a big pile in the middle of the floor and the dudes come on the specified day and pack the boxes themselves.  the bad thing is rufus then has to sleep on a fold-out couch, and zadie in a borrowed little cot, for the next three weeks.  even worse, joel and i have to sleep on the futon.  if you’ve ever read any of those autobiographical novels about childhoods of extreme privation, usually set in england or ireland, how they sleep on beds made out of an old door resting on four piles of bricks, with overcoats for blankets?  well that is about how comfortable our futon is.

in 2006, when i was pregnant with rufus, turning over each page of the calendar was an important mental marker for me.  flipping through each month brought me ever closer to the most remarkable and unimaginable event i had so far experienced.  and when i finally got to turn to october, his birth month, for the first time, my blood turned icy.  “sometime this month, i am going to have a baby.”

this week, when i turned over to december, i was assailed by the same feeling.  this is the month!  the next time i turn a page on a calendar, i’ll be a northern hemispherian.  we will have begun what may well be the craziest thing we’ll ever do, scratched a long-irritating itch, started to fulfil one of our Masterplans for Life.

still, fuck.  basically! 🙂

1. our house is absolutely and rock-solidly let.  i have the lease in my hand.  actually i think it’s inside one of my cookbooks.  sometimes i put important stuff inside cookbooks because i never otherwise open them, i.e. to cook, so i know it’ll be safe.  i think i mentioned this earlier, but the tenants were only the second people to view the house.  this was marvellously convenient because we could immediately set about retrashing the joint from door front door to back in the embryonic stages of packing.

2. i’ve sold my car.  boo!  but, yessss.  we also got lucky:  the first person to look at it bought it.  we put a really cheap price on it in the hope that we would sell it quickly, but it still feels good to not have to field phone calls every night and take strangers on test drives with my two bambinos hostage in the backseat.  having the money from the car in the bank is good.  having to drive joel’s ShitTruck until we leave is not good.

i had to drive it somewhere the other night and i:  could hardly reach the stick shift; took a corner in it as if i were still driving my superlight, responsive honda, and nearly overturned it; jammed the sunroof; and failed at turning on the A/C.  and on top of all that, i couldn’t eject the fucking CD!  so my journey was set to the loud sounds of some twanging country songs, which i not only didn’t enjoy but couldn’t conceal from other drivers (see above re. half-open sunroof).  i looked a hot mess (literally:  see above, again, re. inability to turn on A/C) at the end of my five-minute assignation to the next suburb.  the purpose of the trip was to pick up a spare cot and fold-out bed for the kids to use for the next three weeks.  i couldn’t figure out how to open up the boot of the ShitTruck, only the window of the boot, so i had to feed bits of cot in through the open window and then wind it up, while double-parked in a tiny footscray street.  the fucking thing is about the size of a B-double.  SHITTRUCK!!!!!!

3. jonty and herschelle have had their immunisations and the fat one is now microchipped (surprisingly, jonty was already chipped.  who knew!).  they will depart in their wooden travel crates on 23 december, and due to us moving into a temporary abode upon arrival in HK, they’ll have to live in a cattery for six weeks 😦  but the cattery is in our neighbourhood, so we can visit them and take them helium balloons and cards etc.

4. joel has bought me a new work computer.  it’s still in its box because we won’t have time to look at it until the weekend (maybe), but this is the first time i’ve ever had a computer that was mine first, and that is EXCITING!!

5. dr starkey is for sale.  anyone want to buy a snake?

6. tomorrow is the day our essential possessions are being “uplifted”, or so the shipping company insists.  so we’ve spent this week sorting things into Storage, Rubbish, Other People, and Shipping.  it has not been fun.  well, moving never is, but it’s quite a bit less so when it has to be completed in stressful 30-minute bursts around work and childcare.  but there’s 18 boxes taped up in the kitchen, eagerly awaiting their resurrection tomorrow.  it’s the first time i’ve used those vacuum-sealed packing bags and might i highly recommend them.  got our doona down to the size of a travel pillow, which equalled freeing up three tea-chest boxes for my clothes.  joel thinks i’ve overpacked but it’s not like he has to be three sizes bigger than the average chinese woman and look for stylish and comfortable office attire over there.  he pointed out that 2.5 of my boxes were filled with singlets, jeans, thongs and trackpants.  whatever, my love.  whatever.  why can’t he just go back to filling his one tiny little clothes box and leave me be?

7. a skip is coming on saturday to haul the cubic fucktonne of hard rubbish behind stashed behind our garden shed.  it’s a tiny shed really, about four square metres.  like a large cubby house.  you wouldn’t believe it conceals 300 bricks, two rusted wheelbarrows, a huge old dead TV, some old computers, many tree branches, a vacuum cleaner, two desks, a sideboard and a hall cupboard.  now you see the trouble we’re having with packing.  i have a very neat house, but it’s all a facade.  any hidden space will be chocked with years-old flotsam and jetsam.  only last night i opened the laundry cupboard to find the iron and a box of old payslips from when i worked in the fish and chip shop in 1994 fell from a high shelf and nearly KO’d me.

8. last night, after the little people’s bedtime – like stealthy cowards – we boxed up all their books and toys.  despite our daily explanations for the past month or so, the two little crestfallen faces this morning at the sight of the empty shelves and baskets was quite moving.  our neighbours, and a kindly family from playgroup, each donated a box of playthings for the toyless little urchins.  these borrowed toys proved to be so far superior to anything we boxed up, full of operable mechanised functions, lights, songs, shiny and sparkly and crinkly things, that when we open the boxes with a flourish in hong kong all “look!  the clever man brought this train set for you ALL THE WAY TO HONG KONG on his BIG RED SHIPPING CONTAINER”, they’ll be like “er are you fucking kidding?  i’m going back to australia now to hang out with elsie and her flashing rotating towering phantasmagoria.”  right?

9. and today i paid HK$29,500 for rufus’s first term at kinder.  um and my visa isn’t even approved yet.  shit.

also tonight is our last night in our bed for a while, so i should go there.  everyone cross their fingers that zadie only gets up once or twice so i can enjoy its thick, well-sprung, contour-hugging comfort, because tomorrow night it’s pancake-thin futon and old mismatched sheet set all the way.


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