First up, apologies for the lack of a post last week. I’m trying to stick to a weekly schedule, but things got ahead of me and I was laid up with the Mutant Martian Death Flu™ for most of the week. When I have been well enough to be up and about, I’ve mostly been organising things for the move back home, which is less than seven weeks away now. Yes, we’re coming home. We’d have liked to stay, but they’re changing things up on the campus here which means Jenny’s position will no longer exist. I’ve been job-hunting for when we get back, and Jenny has signed up for some fill-in teaching work next year.
I’ve also started on a regular editing gig for pop-culture news startup ComiConverse, which is taking up some of my wordsing skills, and finishing the novel is taking the rest. I should hopefully be able to keep it up when we’re back in Melbourne, but it’s just a casual gig so it’ll only be as a supplement to whatever else I end up doing there. Still, it’s good work, and I’ve already got some great positive feedback from it.
The rep from the moving company came to take a look at our things on Monday. It looks like we should be able to bring back all our stuff within our 3m3 limit. We were well under the limit for the trip over here, nearly three years ago, but in that time we’ve accumulated rather a lot of books and clothes, a couple of musical instruments, and a few pieces of furniture that all need to be shipped back to Melbourne. Packing for a holiday is stressful enough; I’m not looking forward to literally packing up and shipping off our entire lives here. At least we’ll only have to live out of our suitcases for a couple of days.
I am looking forward to coming home. Melbourne and Australia seem to be in better shape than we left them, all things considered. While I might disagree with many of his government’s policies, our Prime Minister is no longer a complete international embarrassment. (Although it appears Tony Abbott is still doing his best to do that job.) Our state government seems to be much more competent than the last one. More fundamentally, though, I miss Australian food — and good coffee.* I miss our friends and family, and our cats. For that matter I miss having regular work — everything I’ve done here has been more or less ad-hoc, with hours varying from week to week.
I also miss being at home — wherever home is — for the vast majority of the year. As I write this, I’m sitting on a four-hour express train to Beijing, where we’re based this week. For the last three years we’ve spent 37 weeks of the year in Nanjing, and of that time we spend 14 work-weeks (Tuesday to Friday) in Shanghai and Beijing. We’ve made a few friends in Shanghai but it’s still difficult.
All that said, though, I am definitely going to miss Nanjing. We’ve made some great friends here, and while we’ll definitely stay in touch after we leave I know we’ll miss them terribly. I really appreciate the fact that between the ubiquity of public transport, the cheapness of taxis and the convenience of our electric scooter, we don’t need a car here to get by. Even though the place we bought in Melbourne last year is very conveniently located for public transport, we still expect we’ll need a car there. And we won’t even be moving in there straight away; our tenants’ lease runs out in September, and my parents have offered to take us in until then. That gives us some time to find our feet, and to find work if we haven’t already.
I’d also like to add a little reminder that I’m doing Movember next month — which will involve shaving off my beard for the first time in about eight years. I’ll be posting regular picture updates to my Mo Space (linked at left), Facebook, Tumblr, and here if I can get the hang of posting photos to WordPress. Please consider clicking through and making a donation. I’ll also post thanks to everyone who chips in, of course. In advance of the actual mo-growing, my mum Cathy has matched my starting donation, and we’ve also received some donations from the members of STC South Camberwell and North Balwyn Cricket Clubs — thanks fellas!
*There is one place in Nanjing that does proper Antipodean-style coffee: Motu, run by a Kiwi couple. It’s 14km away, on the far side of town. I’ve tracked down some places in Beijing and Shanghai that do it too: Barista Coffee near the Lama Temple in Beijing, Café del Volcan and Vinyl Ganesh in the French Concession in Shanghai. Beijing’s Bookworm, where I’m now finishing up this post, isn’t bad for coffee either, and has the added bonuses of being additionally a bar, restaurant, bookshop, lending library and performance space.