giovedì, agosto 21, 2014

When I can't say anything nice . . .

. . . I come here.

Have you ever met a total douchebag, and then for coincidental reasons become quite well-acquainted with their family, and their family is lovely so you wonder how the douchebag got to be so douche-y, but then after a couple of years I guess the family gets comfortable with you and you realize where all the douche in the bag came from?

Also, unrelated but pertaining to the same category:

Have you ever met a total douchebag who was actually the sort of really useful person whose social conscience and energy makes the world go around, but is a douchebag nonetheless - not because they give their A-game at work and not at home, but because they get pissed off when they decide their partner isn't giving their A-game at home so they're just a big old nasty hypocrite so far as the people who actually have to spent time with them are concerned?

Anyways, neither of these are really my problems, and the second one, hopefully, won't be anybody's problem soon, at least not in my family.

I'm "home", in Canada, at the mo. Godzilla is having an awesome time with cousins and uncles and grandparents and I'm having a pretty good time. Particularly with my brothers. Maybe having a child has launched me past part of the almost generational gap that had hitherto existed between us. They're a lot older than I am but that "lot" means less with every passing year. Before long we're all just going to be middle aged. Arguably we already are. I don't feel middle aged and they mostly don't look middle aged, and if we can stay off the sauce, judging by the patterns of our older generations, we're not statistically middle aged . . . but there you are. 

lunedì, agosto 04, 2014

Left behind

I guess we are doing something that I'm not sure is a good idea with Godzilla. I guess all parents, no matter how thoughtful or deliberate, do things to their kids they're not sure are good ideas.

The fact is I am taking it on faith - a rather leapy sort of faith - that raising him multilingual isn't the worst fucking idea of all time. He is speaking English and Italian now - understanding both, using words from both - and then on Saturday, he said his first German word. So here it is. Here we are. Here I am thinking about it and wondering if I'm doing the best thing or the worst thing ever for him.

On Friday we're leaving on a two month trip. First for Canada, and then Italy, where he gets to use his Italian muscles, and then Germany, where it looks as though the F-word, the boy and I are going to be visiting about a kajillion kindergartens. The books tell me it'll all be okay - that when we're going, in the midst of a language explosion that has already started, he'll be able to handle all this like it's nothing. My common sense says it'll be okay, and the three plus years that kindergarten runs in Germany is going to be a really sufficient and indeed terrific amount of time to ease him into the language thoroughly and fun-ly enough to let him excel at school, if that's what he'd like to excel at.

And I guess I hope it is. Being really good at school is one of the things that has made my own life so easy, comfortable and interesting (to myself at least). That is what I'm worried about, I guess. That having three languages doesn't just mean having three languages but having a smattering of three languages instead of being really good at one language. That's not how it works. I know that, but I don't know it, not first-hand, because the only language I'm really good at is English - to some degree or another, I suffer all the rest.

And here it is - even more profoundly than fearing I'm wronging Godzilla, and this is what I have to focus on. Here we are, at a threshold that my common sense and linguistic research tells my disbelieving brain that Godzilla is likely to waltz past without missing a step - a threshold I'll never pass. Realizing that if all this works the way it should, that before this kid of mine can reliably piss in a pot, that he is going to surpass me, just blow me away at something, and the reason I'm scared is because I can't do it for myself, I can't even imagine it for myself - but it's going to be just fine for him.

Suddenly the trepidation, the fear, the worry my near ancestors must have felt when their kids (with their strong encouragement and indeed insistence) started going to school instead of burning charcoal and being bandits is a lot easier to understand.

giovedì, luglio 17, 2014


I've been having a weird week. Sort of weird bad, I think it's safe to say. But not too personally bad - abstractly bad? Bad at arm's length?

Obviously the last entry rant was a symptom of one of those bits of badness and there has been little to do there except accept and move on. And I have. I mean - it's funny already. I thought it would take months to get funny. "Editors Note". Hah. That's . . . great. And the author in question is being incredibly grief-stricken and active about trying to resolve the situation - though to be honest that was part of what I was so pissed off about - I knew that the author was going to take a degree of emotional responsibility for the event that meant I was going to be the one ending up comforting her. And anyways, as far as I'm concerned, it really was my fault for not literally wrestling the final proof away from her and doing it myself. It's my name on it.

The bad came in three, with news that a plan for an early escape from this national penal colony is almost certainly not going to happen for us - accept, move on, decide to enjoy a little more time paying laughably low taxes - and then with some real weirdness in the family.

We only have one real weirdo in the family - and - gosh. It just blows me away when people act in such a way that is obviously not in their children's best interests, from any analysis, with any rationalization. I know we're all deeply flawed beings and as parents we make so many decisions that are so easy to second-guess, and it's so hard to know if you're doing the right thing, and so much harder again to know if anyone else is . . . but I guess I've created an introverted, closed little world for myself full of good people and I generally blunder around making the assumption that everybody is doing the best they can raising their children, and anyways maybe the decisions that look incredibly stupid to me are actually correct and I'm the incredibly stupid one for not being able to understand their context.

But once in awhile - and it's often been this particular crazed baby momma who is disgusting me now who has been the one to snap me back into a cold reality where some people are just nasty cunts, and they ultimately don't shut that off with their own kids - I have to look out of this pleasant little world I've built around myself, and it's heartbreaking. Particularly when the victim is a kid who I love.

Anyways. I'm not as upset as I could be. In this particular instance (which has to do with getting the kid in question an EU passport), I thought there was an 18-year cut off, which the baby momma was going to fuck up forever by denying consent. And there was, but the country concerned changed its laws. Like, just now, it changed its laws, and I was alerted to that the same morning that the crazy momma showed her crazy, which was terrifically serendipitous timing, and means that the kid in question can take care of this as an adult in a few months without her input, and makes me feel - I don't know - that maybe God is on this kid's side in the lifelong struggle he's going to have dealing with his momma's crazy (what a thing to think in a world where kids who are loved as much as this one, or should be, are being sold, or shot out of the sky on a Malaysia Airlines flight over Donetsk, or otherwise blown up - but there you are).

At first I was giddy with joy that the laws have been changed, and I'm still grimly pleased that this shitty dog of a woman can just be over-ridden and her contemptible little muscle-flex has ultimately done nothing except once more demonstrate her crazy. But mostly I'm caught up in thinking what's going to happen to this kid in the life-long struggle he's going to have dealing with his momma's crazy.

venerdì, luglio 11, 2014

Sometimes it's good to have an anonymous blog

AH FUCK why did I let a fucking Australian be the one to approve her own final proof???? So fucking embarrassing.

I wrote her a nice little editor's note . . . Which was titled 'editors note' in the print run. Those are literally the first two words in the first run of the first hardback book I have ever edited because she couldn't wait for me to get back from China to check the fucking proof. I never saw the chapter headings. I should have insisted. My fucking name is on it. At the bottom of the fucking 'editors note'.

Fuck fuck fuck a fucking duck.

My only consolation is that no one outside of the state is likely to see it. But it's a bit shitty to work so hard on a thing almost purely as a portfolio piece just to end up with something you don't want to keep looking at because who knows how bad it gets if those are the first two fucking words so it will go nowhere near your portfolio. FUCK.

lunedì, giugno 30, 2014

Green eating

The F-word cares more about organic food than I do because he grew up in Shepparton, a cancer/asthma hole due to the fucking disgusting farming practices there. These things tend to vary from country to country in a way that I suspect made organic produce low-ish on my personal list of knee-jerk priorities. The fact is, disgusting vermin like warm weather, Australia is a warm place, and it's fucking awash in bugs, rats and mice, and hence in pesticides. Whereas Canada, Europe, New Zealand, etc., sort things out with the help of the weather - frosts and things. As much as I enjoy insulting Australians, I daresay it's not just stupidity that makes the farmers here such avid consumers of dangerous pesticides relative to the rest of the developed world.

Also, I daresay it's not just the Australian necessity to monetarily screw your neighbour as roughly as possible that makes organic food here so fucking expensive. When a country is overrun with vermin, growing organic isn't going to be as easy as renaming yourself Harvest, having sex in a field on the solstice and hoping for the best. I understand that. But I also understand that before 2007, buying organic food here was cheaper than buying normal food in Europe, and that the exact opposite is true now.

Anyways, we're grinning and bearing it and as of a month or so getting weekly boxes of local seasonal organic produce delivered to the door. It's not too expensive, though I'm a little pissed off by how much less expensive it is in Belgium, where I got the organic deliveries to the office, and in Toronto, and in NRW (yes, I've already checked). And it saves me a buttload of time no longer spent grocery shopping, and a buttload of money as the presence of all these perishables in the fridge guilts me out of just buying pizza. And, of course, it's tastier than standard fruit and veg. Sadly, the only way to get tasty produce here - as it was in Belgium, I now recall - is buying local organic. In Belgium the reason was that so much cultivation was hothouse or transported long distances. Here I have no fucking idea what the excuse is.

Most of all, though, what I'm enjoying is the challenge. It's winter here which means winter vegetables, which I've always hated. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, other bitter greens - have always despised them, never bought them willingly. Now we have to make friends, because I don't have the time or money to go pick out only the things I like from an organic store. I have to look up recipes, I have to think, I have to plan and strategize - ferment, blanch, saute, dice - and it's working. All of this cruciform crap is actually becoming delicious to me. I guess it was about time I grew up and ate my greens.