Christmas has come and gone. New Year’s has come and gone. Now I find myself sitting in a tiny dorm room at Griffith University in Brisbane reflecting on my first twenty four hours of the Clarion South experience (more on this in the post above).
First things first: Christmas. Despite pledges to keep our preparations in check, we still managed to leave most of the important things to the last minute – like the Christmas tree decorations. Despite the last minute frayed nerves, events went off smoothly, presents were issued with glee and the family lunch was not the anticipated disaster we expected. I ended up with a bevy of cool, almost-metrosexual t-shirts, a few shirts, and plenty of DVDs. Likewise the rest of the family received DVDs in plentiful supply, which was good considering the lazy days we spent post-Christmas. My only headache was the crazy string. The girls sprayed the stuff around with feral abandon and caked the house in crappy plastic smelling goop.
The lazy post Christmas days were damn enjoyable but I did find myself at least a little flustered on the day I was to board my plane for Coffs Harbour. Aside from uber amounts of packing, I managed to finish the ironing pile (of my work clothes) that had been for months roaming from place to place around the house like a fabric gyspy. I wanted to ensure most things were taken care of before my extended leave of absence.
Leaving Ange and Hayley at the airport lounge was emotionally harder than I thought. The moroseness was only exacerbated by an hour delay as the plane taxied, then returned to the terminal citing a ‘technical problem’. As it turned out, they ejected some fool from the plane for bugger-all knows what. After that, the flight was riddled with (minor) turbulence and I gained absolutely no sleep.
Fortunately the medication kept me primed as I changed planes and swiftly arrived in Coffs. Mum met me at the airport and was looking better than when I’d last seen her. I quickly settled in and soon found life amongst my siblings, assembled as they were for the first time in 14 months, to be pleasant. William and John are bloodthirsty boys who practically had Damien chained to the X-Box. Being the less fun brother, they found I wasn’t too good at the whole X-Box thing, although I did enjoy playing Godzilla and Halo 2. Despite the bloodthirst, the boys are displaying keen intellects and John in particular is an especially talkative and inquisitive kid. Courtney spent much of her time with friends while I was there, so I had little chance to connect with her again, although I did buy her a $2 set of combs as a surprise after she had a haircut and complained of having a poor comb. I told her the combs were bought from the hairdresser. A little white lie can’t hurt, especially as it is the technique rather than the comb that’s causing her grief. Stacey seemed much the same – fairly well adjusted but fairly non-talktative. I guess she’s overshadowed by the boy’s noise and Damien’s bluster.
While there, I took the opportunity to connect with mum and Damien (who became steadily more broody as the days wore on) and very much enjoyed our chats. The days were filled with trips to the shops, the headland and more shopping. We bought the boys a few goodies and they seemed well pleased with them, but it was the Chanbara swords that most took their interest. The boys, Damien, and I had a few lengthy combat sessions, which the boys thought were terrific.
New Year’s was spent quietly at mum’s, sitting around a bonfire as we stared into the forrested landscape and the starry night beyond. It was quiet, but very pleasant. The next morning I awoke to find Stacey wander out to the lounge room (where I slept) and plonk herself down on the other lounge. It turned out that only a few glasses of Bailey’s and champagne has caused her to lose her guts all over Courtney’s room. The smell hung around all day like… a bad smell.
We finished my visit (and Damien’s and Stacey’s, who were up from Sydney) with a meal at the Sawtell RSL club. The dory was divine but the kids desserts were wangled our way into were in this tiny little cup that rivalled a thimbel for size.
More heart-wrenching farewells followed the next day (yesterday) as Damien and Stace drove me up to Brisbane in his new yellow (and black striped) mini. The car is pretty cool and is rife with plenty of nifty gadgets. The trip was held up by some inexplicable traffic just south of Tweed Heads but we ended up in Brisbane just after 3pm NSW time. We had a little trouble finding the off ramp but soon ended up on the Griffith Uni campus. I became a bit flustered when I couldn’t find the dorm but soon I stumbled across the convenors.
So here I am. Read above for the details so far.
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