I met Maria in the evening and we went and got hot chocolate and pizza (not together, that would be disgusting...I think). We talked about our lives since Amadeus and what there was to be gained from studying abroad, especially for how it coloured your time back at home. We made merry and discussed the real world applications of some very exciting science in which Maria is involved; whenever I talk to my friends who do science, I wish that linguistics would change the world more often.
I went to Matilda the Musical. It was amazing: the music was infectious, the choreography joyous and expressive and the actor playing Miss Trunchbull was so perfect, I almost forgot Pam Ferris entirely. Almost. The show had some weak points- Matilda's Sudden Onset Telekinesis only lasts about half an hour in this version, making one wonder what the point was- but all in all I enjoyed myself immensely and I would highly reccommend everyone to see it.
In the evening, I met with Alana for a quick dinner; she's a very busy woman, having made something of herself over the past few years and sadly an hour and a half was all she could really afford. Still, I was grateful for what I could get- and Alana is another Australian friend who took a year abroad and so understands the sense of longing I feel. She told me about her adventures in America and I was very jealous, before remembering I had my own stories to tell from Australia (although she already knew most of these).
Charlotte, who had also recently delighted at Matilda, and I went for breakfast at Hot Poppy's, a favoured haunt of yore, where they serve heavenly hash browns about which I had apparently raved before, but quite forgotten, so the pleasure was fresh once more. What to say of Charlotte? She features quite heavily this week- our conversation is always the same, which is to say it's wildly different every time. We go off on such odd tangents, and into such strange avenues of thought that the following utterance
"You have twangled away our good family name"flowed quite naturally. I actually got some prime candidates for the Quotes of the Year competition, so keep your eyes on this dark horse.
Next up was Beppe, who I met only briefly at the end of my last tenure in Melbourne but who was still very eager at the thought of getting coffee together. We spoke and I learned more of his life (I really didn't know him all that well when we left), including the fact that he's a bloody polymath: he's studying Physics and Mathematics, with a minor in Italian and, from what I can tell, rocking all three. Well done, sir.
In the evening, I went to some improv shows- one of which physically injured me with how funny it was- and then at the end, got up and had a go myself.
It didn't go well.
I was very rusty, and while I don't think I broke any of the rules per se, I also don't remember garnering any laughs from the (admittedly meagre) audience. Alack.
Josiah and I grabbed a quick coffee at a very upmarket cafe in amongst the hectic hugger-mugger that is his life. Josiah, as I later described him to Charlotte, is rather like if Santa Clause lost a lot of weight and then decided to do student theatre- magnanimous, avuncular with just a hint of jazz hands. He suggested I open a puzzle room and I thought that I'd do it in the style of the Riddler- point a gun at people's heads and not let them leave until they'd figured out complex math. People would pay for that, right?
I met Simon briefly at the university and we chatted for half an hour about art and ethics and also there was a bird above us, tearing up food and then throwing it at us. It was rather odd, but Simon has always been big on animal metaphors so I'm sure he can whip something up about the bird being our mothers or something.
I'd originally been planning to buy a cheap ticket for Avenue Q that day but sadly someone else snapped it up and so it would have been $110 for me to attend, which would have been almost my entire remaining budget. Instead, I went to see some fireworks and then get drunk with Sam, a man I met at the hostel I stayed at in Cairns. It was nice and, best of all, cheap, which was really what I was looking for.
I played an epic session of D&D with Laura, David and a handful of people I'd never met before. I was Draffh, a half-orc bard who was racist against the other half-orc bard in the party. Sparks flew (metaphorically: no one cast lightning bolt), there was more than one barbed comment traded and then interdimensional pirates arrived and we had to put aside our differences- well, not quite, there was a bit of a skirmish mid-air once the ship vanished. It was incredible fun- just the right mixture of theatre and lore and tactics and luck. I really enjoyed occupying the world Dave had created (for he was dungeon master) and I'm eager to get back into roleplaying as a hobby.
Aspen and I got lunch- not at Pancake Parlour, this time, signalling our character development. Once again, we spoke about politics more than I remembered, but this isn't a bad thing. After all, Aspen had a lot to say about identity politics and geek culture (she works in the gaming industry) and her insights are always interesting. Although, she told me the truth about Zero Dark Thirty and I was outraged because that film was boring as fuck and it turned out they made half of it up! Why couldn't they make up something interesting?
I then got a train to Richmond and went to a poetry open mic event and read my poem The Gaijin Pit. People seemed very receptive and everyone asked me how long I was going to be in Melbourne and were saddened to find out I'd be leaving so soon.
I then got a train to Parliament and went to another improv session and got up on stage again- this time, it went better. I got a few laughs (and actually nabbed the final line of the show before the lights went out), and I felt better about my long-dead theatrical career. I mean, I'm not Sarah Siddons, but I mimed carrying an amputated leg quite well.
I then got a tram to North Melbourne and went to see a different improv show with Charlotte. There were lots of different improv formats on display: some, like a segment where four pages of a show were scripted and the rest was improvised from there, were fascinating; others descended into rather predictable dick jokes. Still, it was lovely to see any theatre, as it's quite hard to find in Japan, and Charlotte's company was as enspiriting as ever.
Srini and I got a coffee and discussed the merits of Nolan and Whedon, much as we ever did. I remember Declan railing at us to 'shut up about Batman' and I'm sure he'd be heartened to know that three years later it's still our go-to jumping off point. Much as with Aiden, Srini and I often have very different views on films and get quite deep in our analysis but we can discuss them without falling out or arguing and thus benefit from the others passion and insight. If only the internet could take note- he certainly had the only cogent argument I've heard in favour of Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor.
Srini accompanied me to the uni, where I met with Julian who seemed to have settled right back into Melbourne like a salamander in a bonfire. Obviously, he and I didn't have so much catching up to do so instead I viewed our conversation as more of a cataphoric kind of reminiscing- a sort of crystal ball, showing me what my future might be like when I finally quit Japan. He's moved back in with his parents, which I hope not to do, and turned vegetarian, which I swear not to do, but overall he seems happy. I hope I can take the move back so well.
Then, Charlotte and I met once more (to date, the final time) and made a flip book at the Academy of Moving Images (we actually made two, slightly different but thematically related, reflecting the way we view the world). Interspersed with this, we sang snippets from our improvised musical Hot and Cold which was variously about a relationship ending, an orphan finding her family or a completely ordinary day where nothing really happened at all. And then we had to say goodbye and it played out much the same as last time- I really hope I see her again and, if not, well at least we had the time we got.
After that, I went to another poetry open mic, read The Gaijin Pit and The Turkeys Voted for Christmas and received the same enthusiastic response for both. I wish I could perform like that every day- it really got my blood pumping and made me feel alive. But such things cannot be.
I had to check out of my hostel this morning, and then went to meet Dave on campus for a final goodbye hang out. We discussed the future developments of the D&D campaign, and I really wish I could be there to see them. Things are going to get interesting.
Then I met with Aiden and Wilson for lunch; these two have actually been hanging out some in my absence and I kind of like that because I'm the one who introduced them. We went to eat at a Japanese restaurant, and it was funny to think that just a year ago that would have been the closest I'd ever been to the land of the rising sun. Aiden and I discussed music and covers and how context (especially music videos) can totally change your experience of a song. And then we said goodbye (I've been saying goodbye a lot recently).
Wilson and I then chatted for some time- he's had some very major developments in his life since I last saw him and is yet another person who did a year abroad. Although, to hear him describe it, I think he didn't have quite the same experience as Alana or I. I really marvelled at all he had done in three years and it made me feel like I have some catching up to do- although, I don't regret most of the choices I've made.
And that brings us up to now- I've still got one social engagement left, dinner with Henry, which I will write about in a longer piece discussing how I felt about the holiday as a whole, but here's a quick preview: it was fantastic.