Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Dog and Donkey Show

All my life I have wanted a puppy to call my own. I wanted one that would fit in my pocket, that would follow me around, ecstatic in my mere presence. I wanted a fluffy one, with a round belly and big eyes. I wanted a little dog that was small enough to be an inside pet, one who would lay at my feet and no one would notice.

And what Yours Truly wants, Yours Truly generally gets - that is, of course,  after Yours Truly begs, pleads, cries, whinges, creates convincing Powerpoint presentations, gives the silent treat
ment, stamps her foot, carries out nationwide surveys and calls various radio stations to rally behind her cause.

Never give up on your dreams, kids.

Anyways, that is how The Boyfriend and I ended up bungled into his truck, rattling our way up the mountains to procure the cutest canine ever known to man. I had him all picked out - a white Maltese Shih Tzu cross, the eldest of the litter, a healthy, bouncy cherub of a dog. I could barely contain my excitement. The Boyfriend struggled to steer as I gripped his entire head in a hug of gratitude, weeping tears of joy, praising all the gods I could remember the holy names of.

"This is the best day of my LIFE," I proclaimed, turning down the radio for the seventh time so The Boyfriend could hear me utter these heartfelt promises for the seventh time. "This is going to be AMAZING. He will be the best-behaved dog in the WORLD. I will buy BOOKS. I will buy INSURANCE. I will buy you a PINT."

The Boyfriend's eyes were fixed firmly on the road, his lip set. He'd been uncharacteristically quiet. I felt like he knew something I didn't. I didn't care.

The lady who owned the dogs was enormous, her jovial presence made all the more overwhelming by her protruding stomach. She led us to the litter.

The puppies were about the size of a babies fist, blindly trotting around, bumping into the cupboards, yelping and nibbling at one another's ears. They were the stupidest, most beautiful things I had ever laid eyes on. I glanced at The Boyfriend, whose expression had also softened. My heart swelled - I wanted to take them all home.

I spotted the white one I'd been besotted with. I picked him up and he was pudgy and lovely, but as I did so, a weird little brown and white one caught my eye. His teeth poked out over his upper lip. He walked in a diagonal line. His ears were perky and lopsided.

"The runt," the large lady said, nodding in the brown and white dogs direction "The others won't let him near the milk. He's a bit weaker than the rest."

The breeder might as well have performed a cleverly choreographed dance in a bikini, holding a flashing billboard with my name in luminescent letters pointed towards his little face. The runt was curled in my arms minutes later, a giant hole in my purse and a big smile plastered on my face.
We got home and Alfie - I'd his name picked out for the last two years, which might give you some indication of the extent of my obsession - started to pine. He keened all night long. I woke up and held him like a baby, which didn't help at all. I assumed my lack of fur and excess nipples was doing little to assure his motherless heart, and cried with him.

I cannot imagine that there was ever a more poignant moment in The Boyfriend's life than at half two that morning when he was rudely jilted from much-needed sleep by the dual high-pitched wails of his new tiny dog and his girlfriend, the latter crying rivers through her Sudocrem-slathered face, hair askew, nose running alarmingly. I could see in his eyes he was weighing up the positives for remaining in this beguiling relationship. He closed his eyes, resigning himself and lowered his voice to a whisper.

"What. In the name of God. Are you doing."

"Alf..Alfie m-m-misses his maaaaaaaaaammmyyyyyyy..." My sobs broke anew, making the glass shake in the window panes. "I...I...I'm supposed to be h-h-his mammyyyyyyy....!!!"

The Boyfriend responded by pulling his pillow over his head, not in the mood to deal with that particular bout of insanity. I picked up Alfie in a snotty huff, and stormed down to the bathroom, where the dog proceeded to spray me with the runny excrement that seems to be the token of all new borns.

The first weeks were tough. The regular bowel movements and incessant barking aside, I literally threw myself in front of a car the day Alfie escaped the front garden and tried to scare down a passing 4x4 by plonking all two pounds of himself in front of it and growling. It was a lot of responsibility for a veritable disaster-piece of a human being such as myself but I persevered -under the ever-watchful eye of the well-rounded Boyfriend.

Alfie shat - a lot.

He urinated - more than I thought a dog that size would actually be capable of expelling.

He howled.

He hated his walks, and dragged on the lead.

He was quick to snap at Dobermans and German Shepherds, a lack of unawareness of size and stature only matched by my own idiocy while inebriated.

But even with all that said; even though we had finally been granted our visa, and even though we were finally making the long-awaited plans to get a house of our own with a long lease - Alfie was the first thing that made Australia feel like home.

Discrimination Nation

For our entire first year in Melbourne, The Boyfriend and I had been house-sharing. Privacy was non-existent and when I was in one of my notorious bad moods - which came upon me suddenly and violently, much to the chagrin of anyone within a twenty mile radius - I had no where to vent. I felt very claustrophobic. 

At one point, I even reminisced about our time with Fat Shite and Sour Puss, entertaining the theory that maybe they hadn't been so bad and that I simply struggled with space sharing. Such was my temporary insanity - I knew I had to get out before before being besieged by similarly ludicrous thoughts.

Fat Shite was, and always will be, a thundering imbecile in all hypothetical universes.

In saying that, The Boyfriend and I began the arduous process of procuring a little house of our own. 

The sponsorship was in the bag - we had four years to work in Australia. The Boyfriend was contracted with the company who granted him the visa, and I was free to try my hand at whatever I pleased as a de facto. We would be able to apply for permanency after two years on the visa, and everything seemed to be slowly coming together. We could enter in to a twelve month lease - a notion heretofore shelved as a mere passing fancy.

I insisted we live by the beach. I wanted sand, sea, and sun; and I wanted it on my doorstep. The Boyfriend brought to my attention other, more affordable, more logistically sensible locations and I snorted derisively, arching my eyebrows to point towards bayside.

Every weekend was spent at viewings. We traipsed through glorious newly-builts, shabby weatherboards and pokey apartments. We applied for every single one that piqued our interest and received tens of rejections promptly afterwards. 

Perplexed, we couldn't understand why getting a house was proving such a challenge. We had full-time guaranteed work and glowing references. We had narrowed our search to pet-friendly accommodations. We offered six weeks deposits instead of the traditional four. We were doing everything right, and still getting knock back after knock back.

I was in work one day. Mr. Delhi was eating his breakfast and I was making coffees for some customers. The Boyfriend and I had put in another house application, and were anxiously waiting to hear back from the real estate agent. 

 The house was a pig-sty; our last resort. It leaned slightly to the right. It was painted a dirty yellow. There was broken windows in the porch, and a shed at the back that the landlord solely claimed for his apparent collection of rusty bicycles. We applied purely out of panic. 

As I steamed the milk, I felt my phone go off in my pocket. 

Ten minutes later, I was smoking a cigarette and cursing everyone who walked by. We'd been rejected, yet again. The landlord wanted someone local.

I've talked to a lot of Irish people who have moved to Australia and the majority have had some complaint or quibble when it came to securing a place to live. Young Europeans have a reputation of being careless backpackers down under, and landlords are reluctant to entrust their property to a couple without roots or ties to the locality. They want long-term renters. It was a desire I can understand now, but couldn't fathom at the time. Homelessmess for The Boyfriend, Alfie and I loomed ever closer.

The Boyfriend's youngest sister and her friend - let's call them Shinaynay and Awnyayyay - were on their way to Melbourne. The Boyfriend's entire family were certain the girls wouldn't make it, such was their lack of faith in Shinaynay's navigational prowess. They arrived, drooping and wide-eyed from the journey. The Boyfriend showed them to their makeshift bedroom in the back porch. It had been erected from plywood and impatience in just under two hours - and it showed.

We planned to get stinking drunk that weekend to gloss over our misery. Beanie Face joined us in our debauchery, along with his brothers - of which they are too many for me to bother naming or completely recall. 

We went to the local station and were awaiting our train towards the city, when we were approached by two burly, gun-toting policemen. 

"Get your feet off that bench," one grunted at The Boyfriend, who had been sitting on the back of the bench, feet firmly planted where one would normally place ones arse. 

The Boyfriend did as much, but the policeman remained steadfast. "There's signs everywhere saying you can't put your feet on the benches," he scolded, hand on his weapon. 

We all looked around for these signs. There were none, and The Boyfriend remarked on their absence. And I don't mean he made a brassy comment highlighting the cop's bullshit. He actually said "Sorry, I didn't see any."

Then, in an act worthy of the badge, the policeman demanded to see all of our passports. He questioned our visa validity. He asked us where we were living, and when we would be "going back home." We were asked to repeat ourselves frequently, such was his inability to distinguish legible sentences through our seemingly incomprehensible accent. 

I was sure we were all going to get shot in defence of a bench. The ludicruity of it all was almost enough to make me laugh aloud. Almost.

Our train rocked up just in time. We bailed on, and left the chuckling policemen at their post, forty kilometres from the city, at a suburban railway station. 

I was seething. The minute we disembarked, I strode right into the closest bar, ordered reams of tequila shots, smoked three cigarettes at a time. I pointed fingers at unknowing strangers, admonishing them for their assumptions, lecturing them on their convict history, dribbling inebriated insults and tarring them all with the same proverbial brush.

Australia is known for being a bit racist, Ireland is known for being a bit drunk. 

That night, both stereotypes were immeasurably justified, by one ridiculous policeman and one equally idiotic Yours Truly. 

Discrimination breeds discrimination - and that's a lesson I'll be forever grateful for learning. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Bob's Your Carbuncle

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. And I mean, let me describe myself physically. I'm sure you've got a grasp of my self-deprecating, perpertually cynical, self-pitying personality. I'm about to paint painfully accurate pen-picture of Yours Truly.
Brace yourselves.
The Boyfriend tentatively describes me as being "of medium build" which I have naturally translated as morbidly obese. I have an abnormally large forehead. I, like many others I am sure, spent a large part of my existence over-plucking my eyebrows. I also have a tongue that requires more room than my prominent eye-teeth are willing to supply, which results in a lispy, sibilant quality to my speech. In short, I spit a lot when I talk, a tendency I literally cannot control. 
To add to all this horror, I have to contend with a propensity for acne breakouts that actual doctors have likened to the carbuncles on the bottom of boats.
It's something to do with my ridiculously inefficient immune system. My body, along with all its other shortcomings, is seriously lacking in iron. Couple that with growing up with Da Mudder's charred Sunday roast beef dinners, and the inevitable distaste for red meat that followed, I grew up a pale, sunken-eyed, boil-ridden girl. 
When I was fourteen and on the precipice of puberty with all the wonderful side-effects that accompany that exciting transition, I got my first carbuncle.
 It hung off the side of my face like an aching weight, a veritable mass of green and yellow pus, immovable and unsusceptible to every single acne-fighting cream, gel and soap bar that is known to man. The thing had its own orbit and I don't think one person looked me in the eye for the entire year I had to haul it around the school corridors.
I was subjected to abundant laser treatments and poultices before my very expensive and very useless dermatologist finally stumbled across an antibiotic that banished the boil for good. 
The dermatologist in question was left with a healthy college-fund for her son and a clap on the back for cracking a difficult case. I was left with slight scarring on the left hand side of my nose and an esteem-level firmly rooted in the soles of my feet. 
Anyway, years passed and the carbuncle never surfaced again, and I - eventually - was again able to look at my reflection in the mirror while washing those prominent teeth I was telling you about. 
And then I moved to Melbourne and after leaving my shitty job with Boss and Sappy, I got another shitty job with Mr. Delhi. To be fair, it was one of the only jobs I've had over here where everything was above board, pay-wise. 
I also genuinely liked Mr. Delhi, and adored my colleague - let's call her the Punjabi Princess - who was also from India and one of the nicest, most diligent and humble human beings I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  
And while The Boyfriend and I waited to hear whether we were going to get sponsored for the second time, and while things rapidly deteriorated at home with the new housemates Todd and Copper, and while in the throes of nicotine withdrawals,  a carbuncle pushed its way back into my life. Specifically, on to my chin. 
It was my third week at the greasy spoon and I was sporting a spot on my chin that had South African poachers sniffing the air in incomprehensible, innate desire. I was staring at the ground. I had asked the Punjabi Princess to serve as many customers as possible so as to avoid the questionable looks and open-mouthed gasps. I had been expertly manoeuvring my face to the right to obscure the worst of the rhino-esque horn protruding from my face. I was secretly pleased with my coping mechanism.
But Mr. Delhi was a very blunt and... vocal individual. When he rocked up to check on proceedings at the cafe, he could not help but wildly point at the offensive sore.
 I nodded, smiled empathetically. 
"Hoho...yes.... A spot, yes... Yes,yes, I do know it's there... Hideous, yes... Hoho.... Yes, I should stay off the beer... Hoho."
Inside, I was repeatedly stabbing him in the eye with the serrated knife I held in my hand. But I kept it together and hid my despair admirably. I didn't even have a smoke that evening.
I felt very adult. 
However, after the third consecutive morning that he greeted me with the same exclamation of disgust, I had a compete mental breakdown. 
I cried. 
I cannot believe I cried. 
I usually save my tears for when I know I'm losing an argument with The Boyfriend. It was a mortifying display of emotion. 
Mr. Delhi blustered profuse apologies. I accepted, snottily and gracefully. 
I decide I had to go to the doctors that afternoon. I got off work early, and waited almost two hours before the receptionist let me in to see the man with the prescription pad. I babbled my complaints and demanded some antibiotics. To my complete surprise, he gave me a years worth of pretty pills and sent me on my way. I'd finally found something I liked about Australia - its lackadaisical practitioners of medicine.
I had my hand on the door handle when he asked me if I'd been doing anything differently in my life lately. I thought about it for a few minutes. I then puffed out my chest a little and proudly announced the nine days I'd gone without a fag. To which he replied - and I kid you not here - "Ah, yes. That can cause skin breakouts. Your body is reacting to the sudden lack of nicotine. You probably shouldn't have gone cold turkey. Maybe cut down slowly."
Strike that previous statement. I'd found something I loved about Australia. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Escape from Maxx's Gaff (If You Say It Fast, It Sounds Like It RhymesWith Alcatraz. Honest. Go on. Try It.)

Day Five, 0545hrs
I was late for work this morning. My sleep was broken and uneven, punctuated by moans and groans from Maxx's room. I can only assume he had decided to view one of his many pornographic DVDs late in the night and his vigorous and vocal appreciation of the film had been long and loud. Realising the hour, I leapt from the bed and pulled on some pants. 
I opened the door a crack, and put my hand over my mouth to force back the bile that had climbed my throat. Maxx was wearing some sort of transparent kimono and dancing with an invisible partner in the sitting room. Temporarily frozen in horror, I stood staring as he made his final pirouette. There was no music, which made the whole display even stranger. 
He pupils, though minuscule, widened slightly as he rounded to face me, which I took as a recognition of my presence. His hands dropped to his sides to hide his modesty and he took off out the back door. I grabbed my Myki and dashed out the door, fervently hoping my brain would do me a favour and suppress the entire scenario. I'll probably need to consume a lot of alcohol to aid this process, but I'll do it - for my health.

Day Seven, 1830hrs
The cafe is closed today due to a bank holiday. The Boyfriend is working, however. He leaves at the crack of dawn and I bring my book and accompany him. He spends the entire day doing his jobs, while I simultaneously read and sleep in his ute. It was better than the alternative.

Day Eight, 2143hrs
We sat down to watch a movie tonight. Maxx was out the back in his shed/house, distributing pills to his neighbours' children. As you do.
The police stopped by half way through Adam Sandler's epiphany. They asked us where Maxx had been that day and what had he been doing. Tod, our housemate, was somehow shunted to the front door to answer the police queries. 
The officers were about seven feet tall and wide, with huge guns toted at their belts and looks of extreme disdain plastered across their chiseled faces. I was, for some unknowable reason, convinced we were going to be arrested and went in to the bedroom to retrieve our passports, as if they would be of any discernible use in a drugs bust against our dodgy landlord. I'm not all that great at thinking on my feet so when it was my turn to answer whether I knew of Maxx's previous whereabouts, I simply gurgled and felt my eyes fill with tears.
I loathe myself at times. Actually, most of the time.
Tod was thankfully able to brush aside my muteness and convince the men that we were innocent and frankly clueless as to what was going on in the house. 
We need to move out. Tod and Copper don't have the money for a deposit somewhere else but surely they see the necessity in getting away from this semi-naked nazi and all his associated madness?

Day Ten, 1057hrs:
I got really, really poleaxed last night. I'm talking five litre boxes of wine poleaxed. All I remember from the evening is confronting Maxx in his silken - and free-hanging - bathrobe. I slurred and pointed my finger aggressively and shouted that he was, in my opinion, "reeeeeallly, reeeeeeeally fuckin' weeeeird. Like, reeeeeeaaallllshsshshhhhlurrrp." I then sort of slumped into my own lap, finger still doing a fine jaunt in Maxx's direction. Oh, alcohol. How you transform me.
Max stared at me for a while and sucked in a wet breath.
He replied, bug-eyed and unblinkingly; "I like you."
I kid you not.
I think I might die here.

Day Fourteen 1236hrs:
We have convinced Tod and Copper of the urgency of finding somewhere else to live. Maxx declared the front garden as a cigarette-free area, which was pretty much a notice of inhabitability in our eyes.
Tod and Copper had decided they weren't going to pay the owed last weeks rent and so our departure is to be silent and stealthy. 
I've decided to wear the fluffiest pair of socks I own, so as to dull my walk out the door.
 Stealth defined, me. 

Day Fifteen 1647hrs:
Tod occupied Maxx with pointless conversation, while The Boyfriend carried our belongings from the house of horrors to the ute. 
At one stage, I saw The Boyfriend literally duck and roll with a laundry bag in his arms. 

Day Sixteen 1023hrs
We are out! We are free! We are fobbing off Maxx's phone calls with impromptu hang-ups and lots of "going though tunnels"! 
Ah, the liberty. Everything is going to be a-okay, from here on in. We're living with good friends, in a good area. It's good vibes all 'round. 
I might try and give up the cigarettes again! 

Day Twenty One 1545hrs
Everything is not a-okay.
And I just bought forty Marlborough Gold. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Eff Word Features Prominently Here

I am painfully aware of my many, many flaws - and daren't defend them -  but I do ask that people accept them or excuse themselves from my overbearing presence, as I simply can't be arsed changing my person to suit the easily offended. One of these flaws is my embarrassingly acute naïveté.
 Gullibility was a burden I carried across the international borders, saddled to my shoulders like a teething toddler. Australia was going to be the answer to all our problems, where all our dreams would come true, where careers would start and houses would be bought. Oh, the humanity.
If you're planning on doing the Australia thing and are trying to secure a job, take this advice from someone who's learned the hard way  - lie through your fucking teeth about everything.
For starters, lower your expectations. The path to making it in Oz is fraught with obstacles, and sometimes it is difficult to clench ones jaw against what seems like a relentless tirade of setbacks.  You won't wear cork-screw hats; you won't change race in the ever-present sun; you won't forget what rain feels like. Your arrival will probably not consist of a warm, arm-outstretched welcome; you probably won't dine at the Sydney Opera House every other evening; the people you promised to rendezvous with will probably live more than an hour away.
 In fact, everything is about an hour away.
The working holiday visa can be an absolute nightmare. You can only work for six months at a particular job, which leads to your application being overlooked due to a lack of commitment. You aren't an Australian resident, so, even though you know you can perform the duties with your hands behind your back, your application just won't make it past screening.
There are the few lucky ones - the tradespeople with papers, the engineers and nurses, or the people who have one of those elusive Friends-Of-A-Friend-Who-Can-Get-Your-Foot-In-The-Door (a rare creature indeed, nowadays). Those folks will fare just fine.
But if you are a pasty, blushing Arts graduate (s'up?); or have no degree or trade to your name; or if you haven't an occupation-implied degree - I'm looking at you, Business and Science and All Other Miscellaneous graduates - you have one glaringly obvious option: hospitality. 
It's a good one if you are running out of money, and want quick cash. It'll pay the bills, and the work isn't exactly back-breaking. Genrally, it's cash-in-hand so the six-month time limit is avoidable. You'll feel you wasted those years in college - let's be serious, if you've done an Arts degree, you probably have anyway - and you'll feel under appreciated. You'll balk at the early starts - I still struggle to unstick my eyes when my alarm caterwauls in my ear five times a week at 5.30am.
You'll soon grow tired at the corporate customers constant accent mimicking, and condescending tones. You'll want to rip your managers face off when they painstakingly teach you how to operate a sweeping brush (I've had four jobs here and I've been "taught" this particular skill three times, without ever even getting the chance to display my prior knowledge of a well-brushed floor) You'll be talked down to, and you'll probably meet some of the rudest people in your life over that counter.
But you'll also meet some of the best. My first job alongside Boss and Sappy was undeniably heinous at times, but it's also where I met some of the finest individuals gracing this planet (shout-out to N, N, E, E, L, K, S, B, R, L, C and I). Mr. Delhi could have treated me a bit better in hindsight, but I wouldn't give up his friendship for the world. It was working in a cafe that I met my first Polish and Lithuanian immigrants in Ireland. Working alongside them dispelled many a notion I hadn't even realized I'd been holding true.
It was working in a cafe that I met a Indian girl arranged into a marriage by her family to gain access to Australia so she could work and make a life. Arranged marriage seemed a hideously unfair and almost barbaric practice in my mind until I met her and her husband, and witnessed first-hand the love they genuinely felt for each other.
It's through working in hospitality I have gained an understanding of the importance of treating everyone equally. I'll never have notions about myself, and I have no time for those who consider themselves above certain works or associations.I used to shy away from the customers in suits; now I high-five them as they strut through the door.
I'm not saying that I'm fulfilling all my potential, or that my job is something I'm totally happy with. It's not as challenging as I would like. The reason I've changed jobs so much is probably due to boredom.
I don't think its unfair to say that most Irish parents consider their children successful after a stint in college and a nice secure office job procured soon thereafter. It's an ingrained attitude that is inevitably passed on to the following generation.
I count myself among those who once believed in these simplistic and lofty ideals. "You're good at writing. Do journalism." There's a sentence I've pretty much been battered with since I first got the elusive "three stars" on an essay about penguins when I was nine years old. Such a straightforward conclusion, my little life and my little goals wrapped up in a neat little sentence.
Well, fuck journalism. I don't want to write what someone else wants me to write, within a deadline someone else determines. I will write for myself, and not just because I am most likely the only one interested in what I write (and Ma, of course.)
Australia has been far from perfect, and most days I agonize about whether we made the right decision. It has, however, given me the confidence to be myself, and I'm not a bit ashamed to tell you all that Yours Truly is a proud Cafe All-Rounder, well rounded in every sense of the word.
So if you're over here, and you're not making the millions your cousin's friend's girlfriend's brother claims to be making as High Executive Bejewelled Fucking Chancellor of all the Mines in Western Australia, don't panic.
You're doing just fucking fine.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do The Opposite

So now that we were not-so-settled in at Maxx's Den of Debauchery, Yours Truly had to secure another source of income, post-haste. The Boyfriend insisted I didn't take the first job I came across, that I negotiate a wage, that I try to get a position worthy of my time and effort, somewhere I would be happy. I laughed off his lecturing prattle, insisted with an arched eyebrow that I was fully mature enough to do my own job-hunting, thank you very much.
Then, I asked him for a lift to a place miles away where I had secured an interview the following Monday.
He agreed, and as the sun made its slow ascent into the air that foggy January dawn, The Boyfriend and I were on our way to Prahran, a suburb just five kilometres from Melbourne's Central Business District. Prahran is an area primarily dominated by full-time, fake-breasted, 4x4-weilding mothers. Most of the shopfronts displayed are dedicated to high-end fashion brands for toddlers, organic and vegan-friendly cafes, or hand-crafted jewelery and sarongs. Every hand is immaculately manicured, every pair of eyes hidden behind Chanel sunglasses, every cup of coffee is Fair Trade.
Amidst such spectacle, stood Yours Truly attired in my Kmart finest, shoes worn to the sole, pants slumping at the crotch due to over-wear, sweat running down my forehead from the deceptively gentle-looking slope I had to climb to reach the place at which I desperately needed to be hired. Several Glam-Mams shot me disturbed glances. I hadn't time to worry about their haughty opinions - I had an interview to ace.
The cafe looked as out of place on the street as I did - more of a greasy spoon compared to the monochrome stylization of its counterparts. There were about six tables inside, and a small sandwich bar. It was a far cry from Sappy and Boss' set up in the city, and at that moment in time, that suited me to the ground.
No one was around. I was supposed to be meeting a man with a heavy Indian accent; the owner, in fact, of the cafe. Let's call him Mr. Delhi.
 After half an hour of waiting, I decided to ring him to see what was causing the delay. He apologised most profusely, and assured him he was on the way. He told me he would get his "associate" to let me in, so I could sit and wait in comfort. Moments later, a bedraggled looking man in too-tight shorts slowly opened the door, and invited me to wait inside for my interviewer.
I could hear The Boyfriend's voice in my head, shrieking at me to leave right now, to try the job sites again that evening, to forget about this man who couldn't even deign to keep his own appointments.
So I sat inside and waited, staring at the ceiling determinedly, so as not to view the Associate's rather confrontational outfit (it was a cold morning, the poor cratur)
Finally, Mr. Delhi  arrived in a flourish of Hindi and Punjab, shoes polished to the point of blinding, hair swept carefully to the side, chef's coat clearly visible at the collar of his overcoat. He thanked his Associate, who was really just the guy renting the room upstairs over the cafe. He shuffled back upstairs, grumbling and pulling his Speedos out of his arse.
 Mr Delhi bid me sit down ad we talked for exactly four minutes. He asked me all the normal questions and I answered as honestly as I could, considering I could barely understand what he was saying. His accent was insanely strong and I suddenly felt a pang of empathy for the many Aussies who'd responded to The Boyfriend's linguistic idiosyncrasies with mere blank looks of confusion and sometimes, actual pain.
On a completely unrelated note, here's a tip if you're coming to Australia and want a cruisey job - try hospitality. You can't go too far wrong making a sandwich, the money is decent, you don't have to work weekends and an Irish accent accompanied by a relentless smile will get you anywhere. On a related note, don't stay in any hospitality job for too long - it can become absolutely soul destroying if it's not what you love.
Then, all you can do is write blogs to vent your frustration.
Anyway, The Boyfriend picked me up after my meeting with Mr Delhi and listened quietly to my synopsis. He scowled when I was finished. "Where would you be goin'?!" he spluttered "All the way out here, for him not to even show up 'til ten minutes ago? D'bollicks." The Boyfriend is all about punctuality.
I was offered the job and I took it. The Boyfriend shook his head in bafflement, his advice unheeded; Yours Truly simply happy in the knowledge that I could afford cigarettes again.
We're very different really, The Boyfriend and I. Mostly, in that he is almost always right, and I am almost always wrong.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014


Living abroad is hard for many reasons but the one that proverbially cherry-tops the situation in its entirety, is the ever-present fear of someone getting seriously sick back home. The Boyfriend and I both left grandmothers at home, and considered ourselves fairly lucky to count ourselves among the few of our collective friends to have living grandparents as part of our respective families.
When New Years Eve in 2012 rolled around, we were calling Maxx Power's house of horrors our home. Tod and Copper were great housemates and even better drinking comrades. They were still jobless, but had accepted that this would most likely be the case until after the seasonal holidays.

As a result, money was tight. The Boyfriend and I were still pinching pennies, resigned to the fact that we would soon be shelling out thousands for return flights to Ireland and also terrified of the impending impoverishment once we touched back down on Celtic soil. Tod and Copper were flat broke, and avoiding paying Maxx the rent by offering to fix various problematic electronic devices around the house. It seemed to be working in their favour, and so we decided we would indeed celebrate the end of the year - in a fashion. We bought some five litre boxes of wine - you read that correctly - at a cool thirteen dollars each, and made a half-arsed plan to stumble into town once we were suitably inebriated and watch the fireworks.

At five in the afternoon, we were all shitfaced. I had seized control of the music playlist, and was allowing exactly thirty seconds of every song before loudly exclaiming I'd discovered a better one and proceeding to play that instead. To this cacophony, The Boyfriend, Tod and Copper were playing a boisterous game of charades, cigarettes hanging from every corner of every mouth. It wasn't our finest moment, and it wasn't the most sophisticated of soirees. But we carried on the pretense, boldly ignoring every job- and money- and future-related worry that so obviously plagued all of our minds.

Maxx wobbled in to join us for a while, waving a giant black sex toy around while blowing pungent cannabis smoke in my face. I sat there, grinding my molars to dust, painfully aware that this was only our third day in the house, resolving in my temporary, anger-fueled lucidity to get new accommodation as soon as was possible, no matter how short the time we had left.

The Boyfriend and I were having a cigarette when he got the phone call. Initially, we assumed it was his family's expected well-wishing for the new year. I could hear The Boyfriend chattering away from our room. Slowly, his voice got lower and my gut sank.

His grandmother, at an awesome ninety-three years of age, had passed away during the night. We would not be able to make it home for her funeral and that was almost harder than hearing the news of her death. Absence, unfortunately, comes part and parcel of living twenty six hours of a plane journey away from where you grew up.

Granny had had a typical big Irish family, and had been widowed as a young woman. I can only imagine what Ireland was like at the time, I can only guess how hard it would have been to raise a family of eight when a man was the sole bread-bringer and one suddenly found themselves without that man. I can barely fathom how she successfully survived it, and went on to become a grand- and great grand- mother. I'd only met her a couple of times, but remember one thing clearly - her huge, calloused hands. She was clearly a woman unafraid of hard toil, a woman used to graft. Her hands were physical reminders of her achievements. She had lived a life and lived it long and well.

And as The Boyfriend regaled us that afternoon with fondly remembered  stories of his father's mother, half-sad and half-amused as he lost himself in nostalgia, I realised that some things cannot be fixed and that some things cannot be changed. I told myself that night that if Yours Truly can live long and live well, I'd be considered among the greats like Granny. All my worries over visas and jobs and idiotic housemates and smoking and the future would pale in comparison.

 I'd live up to the Irish mantra, and assure myself it would all be feckin' grand.

We toasted Granny that night as the fireworks exploded overhead and for the first time going home didn't seem like the end of the world.

Fifteen days later, we got an email notification that our application for a 457 visa had been accepted and that we officially had the right to work and live in Australia until 2017.

We were sponsored. I like to think The Boyfriend's grandmother got sick of my whinging, and threw us a bone.