mercoledì, agosto 26, 2015

Life/life balance

After five weeks back in Canada it's almost obscenely nice to be back home, and to feel like I have come back home. It's a first, actually. Going back to Australia from Canada always felt like eating a big plate of ratshit, and going back to Belgium not much better. And my peregrinations before that to Italy and France and the UK, though years long in some cases, never felt and were never planned to be permanent. Back to the F-word and to our lovely new kitchen full of fully functional appliances and excellent knives. Back to milky European air, forests, and bakeries all over the place. Back to mattresses we spent a lot of money on. Back to a place where all the problems on offer are my own, and are modest.

Some of my close family members aren't in terrific places at the moment. One is living out the end of the chapter of what could have been with his estranged child, who is suddenly grown up and leaving town; it hasn't been loud or messy, but I think the way things have turned out over the last three years has made this the great tragedy of his life - let alone the child's. It's something I used to be angry about, but now that it's resolved as a tragedy it's just unutterably sad. You can be mad at a drunk driver for causing an accident, but seeing them living with a missing limb afterwards is pretty pitiable no matter how it happened. Another close family member is going through a gruelling decision-making about where to be living, and another is dealing with the deep and fairly crippling depression of his spouse.

It could all be much worse and I'm very grateful it's not. And I'm very grateful that I was there for a good long stretch to share in these problems. But when you're out of your own element and fully in someone else's, the immersion is quite complete. It's the only way for me to do it, of course. And it's not a bad way to do it. I think I probably get more quality time with my brothers and parents than most people my age, because of these long visits. And because it's vacation time, it's fun, and doesn't feel like dragging myself dutifully to holiday get-togethers I'd rather not be at - God knows we got enough of that shit in Australia. But it is so nice, physically and emotionally, to be back in my own space, without caring any less about what's going on with my people. 

mercoledì, agosto 12, 2015

If I could torture other people half as well as I torture myself I could make a really good fucking career out of it. 

mercoledì, luglio 15, 2015


I was wondering how the flies would get in my ointment. As a basically dissatisfied person, I wondered, what will I find to be dissatisfied about here? The weather is actually enjoyable after four years of cancerous sunshine, the social protections are great and inexpensive, awesome conditions for the boy, good cost of living relative to income, forests, parks, outdoor swimming, strangers are nice to each other, etc. etc.. Everything's awesome. What am I going to find to bitch about? Anything?

It turns out that the only thing that has cropped up is that I feel uncomfortable living in a country whose politicians and population feel so comfortable holding another country's head down a toilet.

There was obviously criminal wrongdoing leading up to this situation - obviously years of Greek books being fudged, Greek businesses dodging taxes, and French and other European banks making criminally irresponsible commitments. I don't suggest it's a good thing that northern European taxpayers be on the hook to the tune of billions of euros to paper over these criminal acts and incompetencies. I do suggest it's a fucking terrible thing that Greek people suffer conditions that look like total defeat after total war in a way that will be of immense profit to private investors.

And I suggest it's utter and complete bullshit to suggest Greeks brought this on themselves, and that there is some sort of moral reason why they can't be allowed to cancel their debt. They can't cancel their debt because they're not allowed to cancel their debt. Not like Germans were allowed to cancel their debts, over and over, because who was going to stop them? Last time anyone tried to, they turned into the fucking Nazis and fucking massacred everybody. If Greeks swing to the extreme and violent right, as I am sure they will if present proposed conditions are enforced, there's just not enough of them for anyone to care.

There's no positive-looking scenario for Greece right now but what is being levered through the EU and the Greek parliament at the moment is terrible. I hope it's a joke - something nobody expects will be accepted - an unspoken way of kicking Greece out of the euro without anybody that anyone takes seriously having to explicitly say "we're kicking Greece out of the euro". Otherwise - if these machinations are meant to succeed - I think for the first time I can confidently say fuck this place.  It's a semi-socialist paradise to a pinko like me, but at the same time, it exports the most virulent and predatory aspects of its capitalists the way Saudi Arabia exports violent religious fundamentalism.

I'm still not ever leaving, though. And frankly, after four years in an actively genocidal country, it's still a moral relief. 

venerdì, luglio 10, 2015


When we bought our house in L_____, back in Aussieland, it was in a very sweet neighbourhood. A sort of oasis of old-fashion Australianness, where neighbours still made eye contact and chit-chat - preserved by virtue of the fact that the people living there were fucking old and had been living there for decades and decades.

The inevitable happened and they started dying. One next door neighbour, who was so sweet I'm pretty sure she turned into some sort of fairy godmother on her mortal demise, died in her late 80s, while we were there. Her family, also a bunch of fairy godpeople, and reasonably well-off and harmonious, screened the buyers of her house - not for cash but for niceness. They had all these emotional connections with the house, and the neighbourhood, and didn't want it to get suckier. I thought that was remarkably nice - and lucky for us.

And when we moved and rented our place out, we did something similar - not to the same extent and I suspect the Fairy Godpeople family took more of a financial hit than we did - we chose tenants who seemed like they wouldn't be a fucking burden on the neighbourhood. Of course as a landlord you do that for your own sake as well. But we're happy with the way things have been going with them.

And then the other next door neighbour - a sharp-tongued lady in her mid-90s who I was quite close to - also died. Her family sold of her house ultra-fast to investors, who rented it out ultra-fast to a bunch of fucking loud, violent, harassing pigs, and who don't want to be bothered with what fucking pigs their tenants are, despite also not wanting to be bothered to pay the 8% interest a month to get a management agency to be bothered for them - it's a private rental.

Pigs will be pigs - whatever. I get that.

What is sticking in my craw is that these cunt landlords, who live and have "artistic" white-collar jobs in an exponentially more expensive "hippy" city on the coast, are the fucking scourge of the modern economy - fucking moron middle-class jerkoffs who think investment properties are a license to print money and who settle whichever sort of tenant in those properties with zero regard for the neighbourhood or even the fundamentals of their own investment. People who seriously don't give a shit to the point of not wanting to pay someone a small amount of money to give a shit for them, and who, when confronted with the issue of their pig tenants, want to address the situation by not being contacted by the neighbours who are actually having to deal with the anti-social behaviour and instead by outsourcing their responsibilities as owners to the government - city council and the police - despite them not even living in that city.

Fucking parasites. Fucking middle-class, WASP, yoga-twisting granola-munching hypocritical self-obsessed devoted individualists who a fucking fascist would be justified in spitting on in disgust.


martedì, giugno 30, 2015

Rage against the lawns

Hah hah. After all the interest on the mortgage, expenses, renovations and repairs we netted a whopping $1,000 renting out our house this year. Fucking. Property. BARONS. I'm gonna go buy me a swanky car. It'll have to be diecast, but whatever. But I'm thrilled about it because at least we weren't spending money on the fucker. God, I hate the present model of home ownership. HATE. IT. What a way to lock away all your means and assets and force the population to agitate for political and economic models that impoverish the young, so that despite us being so very, very rich in the west, most people always feel a little poor and desperate.

Fuck it. Fuck it hard. And I write that as someone who waited until late to buy a house and so doesn't have a mortgage that feels like it's strangling us. And who now lives in a place with cheap rent and lots of tenant rights so theoretically I'll never have to jump back into this fucking bilgepool. We will, though. Once the house in Australia is sold and we've lived in this apartment long enough for the kitchen to have paid for itself. My money philosophy is pretty much based on keeping fixed costs low so when he have enough cash again to not worry about mortgages again we'll spend it.

I do like the German model of relying on rentals better, of course - though I think it started running away with itself when everyone decided to move to Berlin a few years ago, and they've just had to slam down some pretty tight rent controls there. Our apartment was completely bare when we moved in and we had to get a kitchen installed. It's about half-half here - half the apartments already have kitchens, half don't - and the ones that are empty when you move in are about two hundred a month cheaper than the ones that aren't. So if we manage to stay here a good four or five years, which I think we will because it's lovely, we'll be ahead of the ball.

One thing is making me savagely joyful though - having a lawn, hiring someone else to mow it, and still coming out ahead. Fucking. Lawns. What an emblem of the decadence of Western culture. Which, BTW, is a point where I'm in agreement with one of the subjects of this fascinating documentary. As well as in thinking that "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a fucking gross, rape-y song.