An update from the laptop of Diane Lee (that's not particularly regular).
We made it home.
Well. After much drama (and expense) that included navigating lockdowns and flight cancellations and quarantine and import/export permits in four different countries, Bella and I are finally back on Australian soil. I arrived in September, she made it back in December. Thank God!
We are both adjusting to life back in the Australia but Bella is loving being back home. Friskies. Fancy Feast. Big window ledges to sunbake on. I'm loving the fact that I can cross the road without dying and the clean, open spaces—and fresh air—but I miss the convenience of Vietnam. There were at least four mini-markets, five cafes and six restaurants within 100 metres of my apartment. Everything was in walking distance, and if it wasn't—it was quick, easy and cheap to grab a motorcycle taxi.
But coming back home has been a good decision.
My anxiety—which I didn't experience before Vietnam—has disappeared. I'm near my family and long-term friends. I've moved back into my lovely unit with its dishwasher, washing machine, gas cooker and garden. I have work (new part-time job + freelancing). And chickens (two bantams named Chicky Minaj and Henny Lamarr). I may need to get a car, but I'm holding out for as long as possible and making do with Stan 2.0 (my bicycle) and public transport.
For the first time in a long time, I'm able to plan, because I don't have the threat of Vietnamese immigration police and impending deportation hanging over my head.
I don't know what 2021 will bring, but I approach it with optimism. It can't be any worse than 2020, right?
Not having to navigate Vietnamese Immigration or company lawyers or the god awful banking system—which gave me hives—has freed up a lot of real estate in my head. As such, it means less worrying and more doing. I've committed to the following projects this year:
Creating cost effective, online courses for people who are new to writing
Provide a cost effective manuscript consultation service for new writers
Offering my knowledge and experience with social enterprises (established and start-ups) as a consultant.
Printing and selling my travel photographs at markets.
While I was in hotel quarantine in Sydney, and later self-isolation on return to South Australia, I published a couple of books:
Vietnam: It Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time
This book is a collection of essays documenting my time in Vietnam from go to woe. I was naïve and innocent when I arrived, and left a different person with a whole new perspective.
You may or may not know that—apart from publishing to the Diane Lee Project—I also publish on Medium. Usually, I post to both, but some pieces end up on Medium and not on my blog. I can't explain why; it's just the vibe of the thing. Here are a couple of aforementioned pieces:
One thing I learned about trying to get both Bella and myself home from Vietnam to Australia is how truly awful the Australian government is. It's hypocritical, cruel and chock full of double standards. And did I mention corrupt?
It has de facto locked out its citizens and permanent residents from coming home. If, by some miracle, we do manage to get home, we are charged an exorbitant fee to quarantine: $3000, in fact. That's on top of the tens of thousands of dollars it costs in flight tickets. And that's if we can actually get on a flight because the government, in its wisdom, decided to put a quota on the number of people per flight per city per day. Cue airline extortion. And homeless, jobless Australians, many of whom are without health care and with pressing visa and issues. Not to mention decllining mental health from all the stress.
But if you're a sportsperson, celebrity or politician, come right on in!
So, I didn't get mad—I decided to get even. I'm pursuing a class action against the Australian government for mental, physical, psychological and financial trauma caused by its response to the pandemic. I have almost 3,000 people in my Facebook group and it has grown rapidly since I started it in July.
It's important work and needs to be done. Just because there's a global pandemic does not mean the government can act unlawfully. Which it is. Which the class action will prove.
Stuff I'm done with.
Some of you know I write erotica. Not anymore. After four books and one box set, I'll be retiring from doing anything further in this genre. Contrary to popular belief, it's not fun and I don't enjoy it. Here's why: