giovedì, ottobre 20, 2011

The toilet that is Brussels

Or black hole? I don't know. I do know 90% of the jobs advertised in my field are there. I guess the cheap cost of living - cheapest west of Germany, until you get into places like Portugal and Spain where they don't have enough trains - and the tax regime for expatriate workers has helped them sew it up. There are the odd jobs advertised in my field in warmer places. I saw one in Barcelona the other day and almost drew tears from myself, resisiting applying. The truth is I'm not looking for a job. I have a really splendid job. I mean, I'd be hard-pressed to think of how this job I have could be improved. I don't even really want a raise. And I'm going to India soon, for heaven's sake. It's an awesome job. It's just . . . Australia and I are really not bonding.

Malcontent is an ugly word, but it's me. I have a lot of ingredients for happiness here - splendid man, splendid job, some friends - more friends than a malcontent like me deserves, to be frank - nice house, big garden. And I'm not unhappy. I have been this last week I've been sick, because being sick here feels a bit entombing, especially coming off a two-month jag of being with my family, who cluster around and fill me full of pills and concern when I'm sick. Now I'm not unhappy. But I'm malcontented.

I think if my 30s have something to teach me - and I reckon they have a shitload to teach me - one of the things will be how to live well as a malcontent. A year ago today, when I was in Italy with the F-word and we were preparing to move here, I thought moving here would teach me to be contented; that when I had a huge paycheque, a nice house, fresh air and my best man by my side I'd stop being such a bloody little strop. Well, no. Now I'm accepting it's not outside factors that are going to content me. Being a bloody little strop is just who I am and I could be ensconsed in a fucking 50 foot statue made of gold and I'd still be a bloody little strop about it. 

I think I'm leaning towards returning to Europe for a couple of reasons, and these days the dominant one is certainly that Australia is too far away from my family. Europe's far too, yes I understand that, and I understand that with the life I've built for myself here I'm probably going to end up seeing more of my family than I ever did in Europe. But I can't tell you how unsettling it is to know I can't just pop home for the weekend if there's an emergency. Not because it's financially impractical, not because of the jet lag (though there's no arguing with that) - but I literally can't. The journey home is a minimum of 24 hours, if everything runs swimmingly, as it so rarely does. 24 hours is radically different from 8. My parents are getting old. The prospect of those extra 16 hours and what could happen in them just makes me want to vomit.

So there's that. There's also - okay. I haven't let go of the importance of externals. There's also just missing the piss out of Europe. During the F-word's and my time in Rome I think we were both already realizing that we'd confounded our utter impatience with Belgium with an utter impatience with Europe. Rome is dirty and uncomfortable and inconvenient like Belgium (though actually in those days I'd say it was rather cleaner, which surprised us) but people were so different, and rather warm. I don't want to move to Rome - the F-word would in a heartbeat but I won't raise Italian children - but I guess it was lovely and different enough that it was a reminder that getting sick of Europe is pretty much getting sick of life. It's all so strange and different.

Anyways. Blah blah blah. I have a lot to think about these days. And it's all thinking. We're not going anywhere for years. Except I'm going to India in December, that's pretty awesome, and we're planning trips to Cambodia and Bali soon. Yay! Why am I such a bloody little strop when life is so exciting?

lunedì, ottobre 17, 2011

Domestic worries

I won't complain about the 2011 Jane Eyre adaptation again. Not after nursing my flu through the 2006 miniseries. It was dire enough to make me feel like Comic Book Guy and I have no further comment. Luckily by the next day I was feeling clear enough in my head to read the book again and flush all that shit out of the loo of my brain.

Speaking of shit, I've been as sick as. That doesn't happen much anymore. In Belgium it seemed to happen pretty much monthly but I think moving to the subtropics clears up a lot of such complaints. But when it does happen here it kneecaps me, pretty much. This is the second time in the last year or so, the time before being when we first arrived in Australia. I guess long plane rides combined with the sinking "oh shit I'm on the wrong side of the fucking PLANET" feeling are a pretty good recipe for getting fucked up. I haven't been for a run in days, and of course when I did go I overdid it, despite knowing I was sickening. I'm a genius. Anyways, I'm feeling a lot better, and wondering if it was a coincidence that I only started feeling a lot better when I started doing such-and-such and eating such-and-such. When it comes to my own health I tend to be some sort of holistic nutritionist Italian farmer's wife, even while laughing at everyone who uses homeopaths and non-doctoral-advice. Ah, the sweet smell of hypocrisy.

In the interim, after getting his ass kicked by me the F-word has got some fucking contractors in, finally, to tell us what the score is with our kitchen. It looks as though it'll max out at $10,000 though I'm hoping for $7,000. Considering we argued an extra $10,000 off the cost of this place on the basis of the shitty kitchen I'm okay with that. Except I  wish it'd been done while I was in Canada. I'm really shocked by how attached I am to this project.

The fact is that while the kitchen is in such a state, we're tied to this house. We can't rent it out in this state, and we wouldn't turn a profit on the sale. And even though we have no solid plans to leave yet, that plays on my mind. It's not a question of feeling tied to the house exactly - I'm very fond of the house. I just need to know we can leave. I guess it's a question of being tied to L---. If I lose my job we have to go, which makes me simultaneously terrified of losing my job and rather eager to lose my job. The terrified part of that balance would, I think, be lightened if I knew we could rent the place out.