martedì, dicembre 09, 2014

giovedì, novembre 20, 2014

Moving to, moving away

Well, I won't say everything has been going absolutely seamlessly with the preparations to move to Krautland, but they have been remarkably smooth. For example, I've come across a nasty little catch-22 where full-time contractors moving there can't get public health insurance, but it's illegal to not have health insurance . . . a private insurer would probably take me, but being a child-bearing-age woman, a mother and a pinko, that option is both too expensive and too contrary to my blah-blah-blahs. But I get to override the catch-22 with that special-statute-for-journalist thing. Fancy.

Anyways, things have been moving so smoothly that to be honest I'm sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Job, they say, is the oldest book of the Bible, and I'd say certainly the one nearest to my heart. I'm conscious of having led so far what would be considered by billions to be a charmed life, and fuck me if that doesn't make me nervous. When you've done nothing to deserve it, when there are so many better people who don't have it, how can you not be scared of it being taken away?

Another thing, not unrelated to my ridiculous angst, is that my application for Australian citizenship is also chugging along fast. There is every chance that when I fuck off out of here, I will be doing so as an Australian . . . and I can say it's just a potentially useful piece of paper, but A) I've spent longer here now than anywhere besides Canada and B) last night I had an erotic dream about Crocodile Dundee, and he left his hat on. I'm still breastfeeding, by the way. I don't have erotic anything about anything in the normal course of things.


 At least that's what it would have sounded like if anyone in Australia could play the bass.

I do wonder what my time here has done to me, and that is a question I won't be able to answer until years after I've left, probably. I do know that I've never felt so much like a trespasser anywhere, even in countries where I didn't speak the language that well. There isn't much nice you can say about what happened to the native people in North America - probably, at best, that if a bunch of busybody immigrants on the make headed to Europe right after the plague killed most of the population, something similar would have happened, so it's nothing personal. But there's something a little spookier going on here.

Australian aboriginals have been in situ basically longer than anybody has been anywhere. 70,000 years, by some reckoning. 70,000 years ago, if you wanted a bit of rough in Europe, you could fuck a Neanderthal, and go on fucking Neanderthals for the next 40,000 years or so. 70,000 years is basically an unfathomable amount of time in human history.

And here aboriginal people have been, on what is by global standards quite the fucking dump of a continent. Always catching fire, or flooding, or sending up swarms of poisonous things, and mostly desert at the best of times. They made it work for 70,000 years in this fucking dump. That is fucking insane. If anywhere "belongs" to anybody, this place belongs to them, and when you are, like me, fundamentally a south-of-Eboli-Catholic - about three catsprings away from a straight-up voodoo animist - ignoring that belonging is fucking creepy. Sure, you can do it legally. We own a good square kilometre of the place. But spiritually? Oh dear me no. Spiritually, being here creeps me the fuck out. Crocodile Dundee I am not. Even if I've now seen his spirit dong. 

martedì, novembre 18, 2014

Happy snotday

Ugh. The boy's second birthday has come, as has colds.

Melbourne, you fuck. Under an ozone free sky and sandwiched between the desert and a deep blue sea - a deep blue sea where the next continent over is fucking Antartica - the weather is the physical manifestation of the emotional state of a 12 year old girl. It hasn't been uncommon for the mornings to start off just a few degrees north of freezing and peak around 3 pm close to 40 degrees. Nor is it uncommon for that temperature to plummet so fast when the wind stops blowing from the desert and starts blowing from the sea that your lower body is still warm from the baked asphalt and your upper body is twitching in the chilly breeze. And then on a normal windless day there's still a good 10 degree swing between sun-in and sun-out.

I actually don't mind it too much. 85% of the time, it's better in most ways than a lot of the places I've lived - I'm really having to gird myself up in weather terms for moving back to northern Europe, for example. But I do believe these big temperature swings make it easier to catch colds than it should be. And the big heat is really unbearable here. We're going to get quite a lot of it this summer, I think, what with everybody in Canada complaining about how the cold and snow is coming down on them like the wrath of God and these things usually going oppositely.

You want the wrath of God, beaverbeaters? Try weather that can't decide whether to kill you fast with fatal heatstroke and poisonous cold blooded creatures, or kill you slow with skin cancer and respiratory disorders from all the fucking air conditioning. And then cover it in flies. Fucking millions of flies. Who get caught in your toddler son's snot bubbles on his second birthday. Poor kid.

Anyways, the boy is two and the best thing ever. 

martedì, novembre 11, 2014

Throwing shit out

Things are ticking along amazingly fast towards departure. I really like this practice I've got going of only putting a few things on my to-do list - things I can reasonably accomplish within a few days - and then scratching them off. And making them bite-size. For example, "Throw Shit Out." That I can do. If I throw out one box of shit once a week between here and February, I'll hardly have to pack a bag at all.

Talking with a good accountant there has also helped. German tax law. Hah! The three words together look so funny on the page. It's like writing "God is good" or "Life is hard". Three words with whole fucking universes of meaning behind them to the degree that even saying them is at best meditative or mantric and at worst totally fucking incoherent. Anyways, he seems to be a good accountant and was able to quantify for me what I do before we leave and what I have to do right after. The Byzantine nature of German tax law looks to be working out for me at the moment too, since they have a special, obscure statute for self-employed journalists that seems to promise to make life rather easier for me.

And maybe I'm counting my chickens, but I think that this move might be a relatively easy one based on the fact that we know it's going to be fucking devastatingly hard and we started - okay, realistically, I started intensive preparations for it back in September. We've both done the trans-global moves a few times before, together or singly, and I think have both tended to leave stupid, stressful amounts of time to ourselves to get everything done. But now that we have Godzilla, we're not quite so dumb. A little better, I hope, at managing our time.

We'll see. I'm curious myself to see how much of my own hair I've pulled out by the time we leave. 

lunedì, ottobre 27, 2014

POP!

That is a POP! of relief. A POP! of all my fretting muscles suddenly relaxing, as though flooded by a wave of healing grappa.

A different forest kindergarten has said yes to Godzilla next year, starting from August, providing that we send him to their playgroup starting when we get there February, which we'd been planning on anyways. We didn't have a trial day there - the pricey neighbourhood forest kindergarten was the only one in the city proper we did a trial day in - but I did go visit it. Funnily enough, on a visit I was near to blowing off, since it was scheduled for the day after the kinder in the pricey neighbourhood built up our hopes and dreams only to dash them a week or two later. My taxi didn't show up so I was one bad decision away from just cancelling at the last minute.

I'm pretty damn pleased - the neighbourhood it's in, which is close to where we stayed on our visit, is a good one in the sense of safety, schools, parks and forests, hospitals and transport (S-bahn AND U-bahn). Better, in fact, than the pricey neighborhood, certainly in terms of public transport, which will be important to the F-word, who will be working in companies all over the region. But it's on the uncool side of the Rhine, so it's cheap enough for us to live in a pretty decent flat or house. And when your grand total (as mine) of Exciting Cultural Events for the last year has been one opera and one ballet, and you're planning a second child before very long, cool neighborhoods aren't too important.

Indeed, I rather fucking hate cool or fashionable neighborhoods. I just don't like the class of people who pay a premium to hang out with other people who pay a premium to hang out with a certain class of people, be that in the sense of gentrifying neighborhoods or just straight-out chichi neighborhoods. The pricey neighborhood with the cocktease forest kinder floods all the time, for god's sake, but is still twice the price of where we're going. I guess it's prettier, to be fair, but pretty isn't the point of Cologne. It's an ugly city. One of those Rotterdam-type places that got all knocked down and built up again more for utility than beauty. The point of Cologne is the green space and the attitude.

But mostly I'm pleased that there is one less thing to fret about, and as I've mentioned before, I was breaking all previous fretting records over this forest kinder thing. I mean, sleepless nights, the whole deal. No negative emotion has ever got in between me and my sleep before. Not heartbreak, not grief, not job stress, not school, fucking nothing. But this . . . well. POP!