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. 

venerdì, giugno 26, 2015

All happy Mistress La Spliffes are the same

It is really awesome here, which is why I haven't written anything here for awhile. I kind of love it. It's only been - what - four months? - but if you have read this you know me well enough to know I hate most things right away, and I still love it here. That's a record for me loving a place, I think. Well, I kind of love Toronto and I was there for ages, but that's different.

This place has:

- Doughnuts
- Beer
- Cheap and awesome daycare
- Forests
- Parks
- People. We've been so busy setting up that we haven't put a lot of energy into seeing people (old friends, I mean) but nonetheless in the last four months we've seen more of them than in the whole four years we were in the antipodes
- A great deal more and very little to gall me

Even the language issue, which is a big one for me, is not that big a deal - we've managed all the bureaucratic stuff we've needed to with our unterschwein German. And it is coming along. Not to mention Godzilla is learning really fast. He has that crazy sense multilingual kids have of what to talk to who - Italian to his daddy, English to me, German to Germans - but when he has a temper tantrum, he has it in German, which is hilarious. Like a mini and very cute rant scene from Der Untergang. Here's my favorite riff on that, BTW.

I expect I'll start blogging more when I have more to complain about. We're going to start trying to make another baby in a couple of months, so I'm sure that will be full of inappropriate and plaintive stories.

mercoledì, maggio 06, 2015

On being a cunt

I suspect family problems are self-perpetuating. (Look at the fucking wealth of privilege in that sentence! Shows you how many family problems I've had . . . ) I suspect when people are at a point where they're able to be really furious with the people who they emotionally know should be the ones they're closest to in the world, they have to search for reasons why they're right about why the other person is such a cunt . . .

Readers, this may be a shocking degree of self-unawareness, but I'm always sort of shocked when people think I'm a cunt. I try to squelch down my more cockroach-y thoughts, or else save them for this blog. This may sound like bigging myself up but I honestly don't think I'm a cunt, not these days anyways . . . and I'm sort of sad and surprised that my in-laws think I am. But maybe not as surprised as I would have expected myself to be. Things are so glum on that score at the moment - really quite bleak - that I guess they need an explanation as to why, and the pinko foreign wench poisoning the minds of their menfolk is as good an explanation as anything.

You know what . . . oh well. That's my first reaction, anyways - which is a sort of reflexive participation in this self-perpetuation of family troubles getting worse. These are people you may have noticed I don't have much time for, and when I get offended by being disliked or scapegoated by them, it's perilously easy to think through all the ways I really, really don't have time for them. But I just have to not do that. These are the F-word's people, and Godzilla's too, and I can't contribute to an alienation there. I don't even feel right sitting back and letting them create that alienation all on their own, which fuck me they are doing a good job of.

But I will thank the good Lord that they are on the other side of the planet. 

domenica, aprile 12, 2015

Schadenfreude from the source

Well, Germany is not Belgium. Things have been much easier here than there so far, despite the relative language handicap I've got relative to Brussels. Most everything that doesn't involve German delivery men, who I think are recruited from some sort of scum somewhere so primordial that its origin must be from a separate genesis-of-life event, has been happening smoothly and on time - tax and social security excepted but hey . . . this is Europe. If that was going smoothly, it wouldn't be Europe.

It wouldn't be anywhere, I suppose, besides Australia, and even there it's descending into chaos - the runaround with Centrelink over my Family Tax Benefit has been retarded enough that it makes me question if the rebates were with it, which I suppose is the point.

I still follow Australian news, though less and less, and saw with schadenfreude that such benefits are being cancelled for families that refuse vaccinations. In L_____ many of our more intimate acquaintances belonged to a discrete group of massage therapists, homeopaths, and wives so dedicated to their houses that it threw me violently up against the wall of exactly how fucking socially retrograde hippies are, which I'd been suspecting for years, but whatever. . . where was I?

Right, I think I might have mentioned the time we were at a big Christmas party with all of them, which was basically Godzilla's debutante party - he was three or four weeks old, so short of his first round of vaccinations. And it came out that all of the little rugrats running around and practically licking my baby had never been and would never be vaccinated - two of them came down with whooping cough just weeks later, luckily when they were old enough to not be in serious danger (which Godzilla would not have been), and unluckily at the right time to really kick out the legs of the older one, who'd already been struggling at school and then missed weeks together . . . lost track of what I was going on about again.

Right. Anyways, these social retrograde single income families were so dependent on family tax benefits because of that single income-dom that I wonder how their firm persuasion not to let their children be vaccinated, that they really tried to rhetorically clobber us with at that party (perhaps noticing how I started trying to physically shield Godzilla from any microbes in the air), is running up against their incomes.

I would like to subtly inquire, but we started peeling off from them socially, uncoincidentally at exactly that time, and have spoken to exactly one of them since we left town. So there's no way to come out of the blue at this point and subtly ask "hey, how are your dumbfuck opinions that you were willing to prioritize over your and my children's safety holding up against your annual income falling by thousands of dollars?" Nevertheless I enjoy thinking about it.

In less vicious good news . . . it's springtime here and so very, very beautiful . . . I love it here. I've even chosen the graveyard where I'd like to be buried eventually if my dream funeral of being chopped into pieces and fed to birds in a final act of charity turns out to be impractical. We're moving into our more permanent apartment in a few weeks, which is good - it's a pretty nice apartment and at the moment we're coming up on two months in the temporary glorified studio, which is beginning to challenge our mutual affection. Unfortunately it means at least three more attempted encounters with German deliverymen. Oh well. Maybe it's an unsubtle way to encourage car ownership and all those passels of assholes are actually lovely people. 

giovedì, marzo 05, 2015

Poor low-level sociopathic parasite

I've lived, in the sense of had long-term rental contracts, in six countries, all with their own way of doing real estate, and I can say one thing without doubt; if you would like to meet a certain kind of scum of the earth anywhere on earth you happen to find yourself - the low-level sociopathic parasite kind - go to a rental real estate agency. I'm not saying all rental real estate agents are scummy - I'm just saying rental real estate agencies are probably the right places to find scummy people of the low-level sociopathic parasitic kind.

I've been lucky in generally living in places where I could shift to talk the language a bit, which, stunningly, includes here. My German isn't going to win any awards anytime soon, but it's adequate to get sold to and as a consequence it seems we have been able to rent directly from a landlord, as has usually been the case. The only place I've had to use an agency was Australia, where I've been on both sides of the coin, and been most disgusted with scummy parasitism as a landlord rather than a tenant.

Anyways, as I mentioned, we seem to have found a place to live which is a direct rental from the landlord. The contract is signed, I've transferred the deposit and first month's rent, and I have some keys, and I still can't quite believe it, because of that thing about how much Germans complain, and how much we were told it would be impossible to find a place as foreigners,

When we chose this place - which I think I also can't quite believe we've got because it's quite lovely and 200 euros below our budget - we'd been looking at another place, an agency rental. In fact we'd been there twice. And when I told the agent for it we'd taken something else, he was quite indignant we had made him go there twice, and that we had asked him to talk to the landlord over whether he would be flexible about including the two parking spots in the lease (we don't have a car anymore, so . . .)

This agent stands to make Euro 2,400 off of whatever tenant signs the lease on this place . . . and he was bitching about having to have a conversation with the landlord and visit an apartment twice after putting it on a real estate website. Euro 2,400. That's much more than a month's pay for most people here. And that was too much work for him.


That's not the real issue, of course, which he couldn't talk about, I suppose because he thinks we don't know about it. The real issue is that German real estate law is about to change, in an effort to throw the brakes on runaway rental costs here - as of next month agencies aren't going to be able to charge tenants fees anymore, and will have to charge landlords instead. And that means landlords just won't use them, because in most of the cities here, this is totally a landlord's market right now, and all they have to do is put a sign in the window (which is what ours did). Which means that rental real estate agents are about to feel a pinch and have about three more weeks to cash in.

I guess when the agent heard our shitty Anglo accents and saw my financial records in our "application" package for this place . . . he saw euro signs . . . the last he's likely to see for awhile, since any tenant who can help it (which we aren't - the three of us are living in a glorified furnished studio that the lease runs out on in April, and we are all ready for violence) will wait a few weeks to start looking. Probably already spent it in his head.

I kind of feel sorry for him.