a The Transit Lounge: March 2005

Back in the Day: I had a quarter life crisis, headed to Osaka, Japan for the unknown–only to discover that a passport plane ride are not necessarily a ticket to escape. Some Years Later: Settled back in Oz, the man of my dreams ended up in Tokyo for work–which is how a passport and plane ride showed me home is where the heart is. And Now: Well as luck would have it, we are about to embark on Japan Mark 3, with a baby in tow and another on the way...

Tuesday, March 29

Recurring Dream

Yesterday I had a moment when I finally understood the enormity of what my father had felt when the world discovered John Lennon had been shot.

It's over. With Paul Hester gone, it is no more, never will be and never can be. The possibility has been tragically taken away.

I grew up listening to Split Enz and later, Crowded House, at first forced upon me by my sister, Gitte, and her best friend Emma, and later of my own free will. I even fell asleep every night for a good 15 years under the watchful eye of Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, Paul Hester and other Split Enz and Crowded House band members staring down at me from the hommage my sister had plastered across our bedroom walls.

Over the years particular CH songs had found their special niches in my heart, especially Distant Sun and Italian Plastic, the latter of which Hester had actually written himself. As I have said many times, including on this site, I can listen to Crowded House through anything, and often do. The older I have gotten, the more meaning I have been able to gain from the lyrics, and have found myself flying the CH flag more often than not, introducing fellow travellers from other parts of the world, and their ears, to the beautiful CH harmonies.

Being away from home, away from Australia, their music is something I use as a link back to my homeland, my family and friends, particularly when I am feeling lonely. This is especially so, being that their Best Of "Recurring Dream" release has for me a particularly strong association to northern Australia - whenever I hear it (which is a few times a week) I am flooded with fantastic memories of long drives between McKay and Townsville, taking in the spectacular outback and coastal scenery in this part of Oz with my mates, singing at the tops of our voices and having the feeling that it doesn't get any better than this - and loving every second of it.

Last Sunday, I was cooking to the strains of Crowded House when someone asked me about the band. I went into my usual spiel, saying that they are the greatest band in Australian music history and that Neil Finn is by far one of the most superior song writers of the last and current century. I talked about my favourite CH and Split Enz songs, and put them on for everyone to appreciate. I talked about their final concert on the steps of Sydney Harbor, and how I would move heaven and earth to get to a reunion concert if there were to ever be one.

Sadly, little did I know as I was explaining this, a sad and wretched fate had already decided during the previous 24 hours that this hope would never be realised.

The same way that such dreams disappeared in an instant for Beatles fans like my dad the world over 25 years ago when John Lennon was killed, the moment Paul Hester died, so did that dream of mine, as it did for thousands of other Crowded House fans just like me.

RIP Paul Hester - you will live on in the hearts of those who knew you, and in the legacy you left for the rest of us, your music.

Monday, March 28

Don't Dream - It's Over

"There's a battle ahead
Many battles are lost

But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're travelling with me..."

Paul Hester 1959-2005

"Only the shadows ahead
Barely clearing the roof
Get to know the feeling
Of liberation and relief..."

Tuesday, March 22

From Japan...With Love

I have noticed whenever I get stressed in Japan, I tend to also get a dose of homesickness. At the moment, the pressure is due to me trying to figure out a way to continue working legally here in Japan as my visa expires in...well let me see it is midnight now, so in 24 hours.

An 11th hour internet search at around 4am this, no wait, now yesterday morning, has seen me change my mind on the type of visa to try for. So today/yesterday (whatever it is now!) was decidedly frantic.

As I lay in bed before trying to sleep, I found myself trying to force my eye lids to shut as I worriedly wondered about my future in Japan - that is, if there will be one, and how I really have no control over it, that what ever will be will in fact be. Then I realised that precisely 18 months ago, September 22 2003, in a not so distant place called Melbourne, I was lying in a different bed, again wide awake, pondering the same thoughts about, what at the time seemed like a far away place, called Osaka. Only that time excitement stood in place of worry.

My year 12 psychology teacher taught us that love and fear trigger the exact same responses within our body, physically, yet we interpret them different emotionally. In my expert opinion, I can claim this is also true in the case of stress and excitement too.

Right now I'm not so sure I can accurately justify my feelings in words. Oz is with me wherever I go. I proudly where my heart on my sleeve when it concerns my family, my friends, my life in Australia. I never thought I could feel this way any other place. 18 months ago, Japan to me seemed about as far away and different from North Croydon, as Berggen, Norway, on the opposite side of the world, where as it so happened my boyfriend at the time was living.

My last night in Melbourne was spent packing (clothes and suitcases had been stewn all over the house for days), drinking champagne with my family and 4 of my best friends.

I remember how difficult it was the next day at Tullamarine Airport to turn around, with my back to my family and actually walk through those large, white sliding doors that lead to Immigration - Something about those doors represents a finality to me, like it is the point of no return. I had no idea what was in front of me, but I knew I couldn't turn back both in the physical and metaphorical sense. It can sometimes be difficult to take a step forward when you are not sure what it is you are leaving behind, you just know in your gut it is somehow an important part of you but at the same time, you must go on...all of a sudden, it was just me, myself and I.

Let's fast forward 1 1/2 years to now - 23 March 2005 and just simply acknowledge that so much has (obviously) happened during what can now only be described as a short time in my life to get me to today. What was once so strange and new to me is as familiar as the roads I used to sometimes jog through "around the block" of my parent's house. So much so that when I have visitors here, that I sometimes do not understand why they have pointed particular "everyday" things out.

I forget that I once used to double take at the same stuff and, a classic example was last week when an Australian friend who was here on business had drinks at our place, and upon using the bathroom proclaimed "Interesting toilet!". I thought he was referring to the posters we have up in there and so I made some remark about them. It wasn't until a couple of days later, I realised he was referring to the toilet itself, as all western style toilets in Japan come compelte with a basin and tap sitting in the cystern where water flows in for you to wash with, which is then used to fill up for the next flush. I had a sudden flashback to me using the toilet for the first time in my first apartment here, thinking "What the....?"

I think about how hard it was for me to initially leave Australia, but how good it has been for me in the long run. Now the situation is a little different and I am possibly going to be faced with the prospect of having to leave Japan, whether I want to or not. No matter what the circumstances are under which I leave this country, it is going to be just as difficult, if not moreso.

Just as I proudly talk about all things Australian, I now do the same for the Land of the Rising Sun. Osaka has taken up a residency in my heart. A place that has imparted so many values on me, a place I feel homesickness for when I am not here. I place where I have grown up in so many senses of the phrase, a place where I have found my own two feet. A place where I have learned the importance of family and true friends, a place packed full of memories from the bad and ugly to the just outstanding and rocking, a place that has opened up my eyes to the rest of the world and my place in that.

A place that I call home.

And leaving here will be one of the hardest things I will ever have to do. Except this time, there is a difference - I now know exactly what I will be going home to.

Monday, March 21

Oasis

Liz - "They're Japanese, they're too polite to ask for their chair back"
Nat - "And you're taking full advantage of that."
Liz - "Of course."

Troy & Liz - "We have a slight obsession with our skin."

Troy - "Did you see how much older than me she looks?"

Liz - "How old do you think I am?"

Troy and Liz - "Q10 is the fountain of the youth."

Cliff - "You wanna make out?"

Cliff - "We have the coolest apartment in town."

Sunday, March 13

Zing Times

Liz: "It's subtle but noticeable." Talking about the headflick move during the dance-off with Dan.

Cliff: "Just hold me."

Cliff: "How many of us are there? Let's all just jump into the taxi, slam the doors and not give the driver any choice."

Friday, March 11

The Last Goodbye

Today I said my final farewells to one of my most favourite travelling companions.

Where do I start? You were the best, the greatest and, above and beyond anything else, you were my most loved. There is now a huge void in my life and it is made all the more worse by knowing I won't ever see you again, won't ever feel you close to my skin. You were so treasured in my heart and will be forever more. I miss you already.

I remember the first time I saw you - almost 2 years ago on a rainy day during my lunchbreak. I was window shopping in Greville Street Prahran when I first spotted you - I was instantly stopped in my tracks! You looked that hot, with all your chains and metal buckles hanging off by your sides. At a first glance, people would say you were not my type, and I began to wonder what my parents would think when I brought you home 'cause if there was ever a case of love at first sight, this was it and I instantly knew I had to have you, at any cost.

That first weekend you were with me was so funny. I remember going into Scubar with you clinging so tightly to me - obviously the nerves. I mean to be honest, I was still sizing you up and I knew my friends would be too. You know how it is, I mean as much as we all say we don't care what other people think, the opinions of our best mates certainly do matter to us. And I didn't tell anyone about you before hand, maybe secretly hoping my mates wouldn't notice. Wishful thinking I guess. As soon as they saw us, they gave me a smile and a nod, so quick that it's meaning of approval would have been lost on you, managing to do it without bringing any attention to the situation, as only mates know how. The green signal was given!

We danced for hours and from that night on, we were practically inseperable. I knew it was meant to be and that this thing was going to last. And I didn't mind because that's just the way I wanted it, and you never gave me any reason to believe that it wouldn't be anything but forever.


As time wore on, I knew I could count on you through anything. You knew how to make me feel better about myself, and I found it comforting being around you. People would always comment on us when we were together, especially on your style - you could do funky, conservative, classy, whatever damn look was in fashion, and pull it off effortlessly. And somehow that seemed to reflect on me, you always made me look my best too.

When the time came for me to move to Japan, I struggled to leave you behind, and some last minute rearranging saw that you joined me here in Japan. During, our time in Japan there have been periods where we didn't spend so much time together. If I am to be completely honest, there were times when I had tried others on for size, so to speak, but in the end, I always came back to you, old faithful. And you never got jealous, although by your tone, people were arguably mistaken at times. Last Summer was particularly hard. There were times when I couldn't even look at you, without feeling hot and bothered by the mere sight of your appearance. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but the Osaka heat and humiodity certainly got to me in ways I never expected. I even forgot about you for awhile. I can't say I ever felt too crash hot during this time. Everyone noticed too. I didn't feel whole but I never reaslied it was due to you not being in my life.


It wasn't until I moved house at the begining of November and I found a photo of me with you hugging me the way only you knew how to, that I decided I had to get back to good, and find you again, see if you were in any condition to let me bring you out again. Of course you were, looking fabulous as always, and once I had you again, the flattery came think and fast from those around me.

Things stayed good until just a couple of weeks ago, the night that Freeza closed. Since the first instant I saw you until that fateful moment when that anonymous somebody dropped the candle over you, I never knew you had such an aversion to candle wax, such an allergy it seemed! Your outlook changed completely. I saw you in a light I had never expected, and you were....so different. I started to panic, recognising that this was a pivotal moment between us, especially as I had no idea how to even begin rectifying the situation.

I just knew I didn't want to be near you, couldn't be around you. On the suggestion of my friends, I put you in the freezer. I mean I didn't know how to handle the matter, and I guess doing that was just a way of prolonging things without having to deal with what I knew was inevitable. By last weekend, I had cooled off considerably, enough to at least look at you again, immediately I started to pick. Sad to say I couldn't help myself. Picking at you so bad, I thought it would only help, little did I realise it was actually tearing shreds off you completely. Literally.

Off all things that idiot had to spill on me, it had to be candle wax...the ONE thing that nobody can seem to get out of clothes! Not even here in Japan. I tried, I honestly tried to save you. I heard that the freeza was supposed to harden the wax enough to pick it off - if it is not splashed across your garment in huge quantities. That visit to the Chinese Cleaners this morning, when I shoved you hastily into the nasket of my bike, was honestly a last ditch effort. I knew if she couldn't do it, it couldn't be done.

The ride home was the longest ride ever as I had to come to terms with the fact that my most favourite pants ever, my dark green, cotton that had been washed and worn to softness perfection, Dangerfield "Made In Melbourne" hipster wide leg pants, with the belt band and the metal hooks, were irreversibly damaged, were in fact ruined.

Those close to me know how much I love my clothes, how difficult it is for me to even contemplate throwing anything out (even if I haven't worn it for years), and how much I love a good piece that has certainly provided value for money. Which is why these pants are now sitting in my wardrobe until I find a tailor who can make a carbon copy.

Ironically, today it rained for the first time in months. But at least in the rain, nobody could see my tears. RIP my dangerfield tried and true - there were some good times. If only cotton could talk.

The Origin of Love

Where is the origin of love?

When is the origin of love?

Who is the origin of love?

What is the origin of love?

Which is the origin of love?

Why is the origin of love?

How is the origin of love?

Friday, March 4

Take The Pressure Down

Oh my - talk about feeling the stress and the pressure of trying to stay longer in Japan. Just had a meeting with a lawyer, who I think was more interested in being in a foreigner's house more than anything else. He basically told me what I already knew, just more formally.

I do have some options, one of them being studying Japanese, which is something I have been considering anyway, and then going onto a student visa, which still allows me to work up to a certain number of hours per week. This is perfect for me, I just have to consider the costs (full-time courses are very expensive here in Japan, although full time can mean anything from 2 hours to 6 hours per day). The course that would suit me best is a 5 minute bike ride from my house, runs for 3 hours each morning, which still allows me to continue my current work. I am waiting for a reply on the email to make sure they can support me for my student visa campaign. It is also the one of the cheapest courses I have discovered. I am worried though that the 3 months I have to sign up for will not give me student visa elgibility because the minimum student visa is 6 months and immigration can turn around and simply say well a tourist visa will do just fine for this - which is cool if I had bucket loads of money taking out the necessity of working!! Still the lawyer advised me to apply anyway and see what eventuates...which in itself ain't so much of an option.

I do, however, have a meeting tonight with a mate who runs, of all things, a hostess club of course. There is something in Japan you can do which is some kind of a personal sponsorhsip, basically where someone is "responsible" for you and acts like your guarantor, for lack of a better word, promising the government that they will give you X amount of yen per month to stay here. Basically immigration want to be reassured you have the funds and resources to live in Japan, no matter what your visa status is. The thing is, it is not like I actually have to get to receive this said money, as I am able to support myself. So I will get the details of this personal sponsorship tonight as I am fairly sure I can rely on some of my Japanese friends to assist me in this case. I think the hostess guy is willing to sponsor me himself, but I m almost fairly certain this is if I go and hostess for him. Something I am not inclined to do - my hostessing days are over, especially seeing as March is my no-go alcohol free zone! I enjoy my early nights too much now (and it has only been a week since Freeza closed - can u believe it? I am dying for Saturday night to roll around so I can....sit at home, watch DVDs and so some well-needed study for my writing course, and then waking up Sunday and doing more of the same, refreshed and well rested!).

Still I have been feeling the pressure and stress of this all, especially this week and it is manifesting itself in some weird and wonderful ways including swollen glands protruding from my neck like golfballs, gout like tymptoms in my toe and knee joints (wouldnt surprise me if it actually was) and appendicitis like pains - which is weird cause I had my appendix out about 8 years ago now. Oh and I took it all out on Cliff, and especially Troy, earlier this week, which didn't leave me feeling any better, just more tense!

So the count down as it stands is 20 days. Maybe I will be on the shores of sunny Australia a lot sooner than I think, although I something tells me I won't be returning home just yet (or is that just blind stupid wishful thinking??).

What an intense week it has been and it is only going to get worse!