martedì, dicembre 05, 2017

Update, per se

Yeah, I'm one of those bloggers who don't really blog now. Oh well. Don't have a moment to scratch myself these days, as the kids don't say. But it's quite a learning time. Here are things I've learned recently that are mainly appropriate for sharing on a blog and not elsewhere:

1. Now I get why so many families, especially Italian families, favour the eldest child. I always thought it was some pathetic peasant-honour-culture-aristocracy-knock-off, and so it may be, but it's a chicken and egg thing between that and the fact that the eldest child has the most scope for pure, idyllic moments of "what is this splendid miracle of life and creation in my arms and before me" because they're alone. This felt like a pretty important thing to get. It makes me forcibly take more idyllic moments with the new Monkey King, who obliges, being a happy little cuddle potato, and I bear it in mind, because . . .

2. Parents totally, totally blame their kids for how hard it is to be a parent. That's a bullshit thing to do, but it's still done, and me being a parent means, among other things, that I need to constantly call myself on my own shit, which includes this.

3. My business back home has complicated tax implications . . . complicated like an AWESOME SEX PUZZLE. There is a part of me, a version in a parellel universe, who is a very happy, very boring international-finance accountant. And that version of me is a fucking sicko in the sack to make up for how boring and detail-oriented her job is. I think I'll write a book about her. 

lunedì, ottobre 16, 2017


Just got back from a two week trip to Canada, where I had some business. The business was concluded to my satisfaction, but it was a devastatingly sad trip, having a front-row seat to one of my brothers carry out stages 3 and 4 of completely torpedoing his own moral and physical existence, and a front-row seat to the impact that is having on the people closest to him.

I was pretty fucking happy to get home yesterday. Speaking of: 

Me: So hey . . . even though the Monkey King is still breastfeeding all the time, I think I'm ovulating again because I actually really want to have sex with you beyond affectionate maintenance.

F-word: That's great news! That means . . . .

Me: We can be frustrated together

lunedì, settembre 25, 2017

An Idiotic Solitude of One's Own

Mum told me once, when I was safely out of childhood enough to not take it personally but still too flip and dumb to think through the horror of it, that when she was a young mother, with three kids in quick succession - Irish triplets you could call them in Canada - that there were times, particularly at family get-togethers where children are encouraged to be rowdy and overtired and oversugared and the jolly, carefree, drunk paterfamiliassholes won't go home when it's fucking time to go home already, when she felt so unsupported, overwhelmed, and unlistened-to that she'd run out to the car to howl with tears.

And during this time in her life she had a recurring fantasy she would comfort herself with while she cried: it was of New York (she'd never been there), where she had a small apartment, all to herself, whose decor was classically simple, spare, and all white.

I don't have three kids in quick succession, I'm brilliantly supported and listened to, and when we're at parties and I say it's time to go, off we go. But a couple of months ago I started noticing that I was looking at Vespas a little too hard. A little too lingeringly. A little too I-could-actually-thatily. It got to the point a couple of weeks ago where this conversation happened:

F-word: You're not seriously thinking about buying a Vespa, are you?

Me: No! Of course not. Don't be silly.

(A few beats as my honesty gets the better of me)

Me: I'm thinking about a Yamaha. They're about a thousand euros cheaper and don't need as much maintenance.

I could use a motor scooter like I could use a hole in my head, and indeed one would be likely to rapidly follow the other. But I guess I had some sort of unexplored fantasy of lonely wind-through-the-air super-woppy freedom, and idiotic as I knew I was to even consider it, I also knew there was an excellent chance that one of these mornings I was going to wake up (or just get out of bed after being awake for a bunch of hours because the Monkey King is a fucking light sleeper) even more idiotic. Idiotic enough to go buy myself a fucking motor scooter.

My mother's New York bachelor apartment is my Euro 3000 motor scooter, which is great in terms of showing how much better I have it than she did, and provoking in that she never could have afforded her idiotic escapist fantasy and I can afford mine so in a moment of weakness I could make it happen.

Anyways, it's not going to happen now. The company I work for is encouraging me to start working out of their offices again, in a nearby but not-nearby-enough-to-commute city, which means more money going out in the normal course of things, and now I can't afford to blow Euro 3000 on an idiocy. If the change happens, and luckily it won't until the little Monkey King is of an age we were planning on him starting kindergarten, I'll have to get an apartment there so as to be able to spend a couple of days a week physically in the office.


If it happens, my bachelor won't be all white. But I've already sort of planned what art is going on the walls. And I'll be getting a Murphy bed, which is basically the furniture equivalent of a white colour scheme - fuck, those things are cool and child-unfriendly. 

domenica, agosto 20, 2017

Emotional offsets

I've been relieved this week that we came back to Germany via the US, especially as we were there during That Week when the gloves came off after never being convincingly on. A man who built what was political in his career by exploiting white discomfort with black men, and then centred his campaign around white discomfort with Hispanic people, not only won a presidential election but was so beholden to a hardcore voter base of racists that, that week, he couldn't even trot a "Nazis suck, amirite?" when a Nazi killed some nice white lady who had never shown up to a demonstration before . . . and then having to listen to people parse all this as though it had some sort of implication besides "holy shit we live in a racist country".

Combining spending that week in Santa Fe, where as I've mentioned white people seem to think they're pretty woke but which seemed extremely efficiently and permanently segregated on racial and economic lines, and hearing from "liberal" people (God does it irritate me how Americans use that word) about how counter-demonstrators, antifa and BLM types aren't winning their side any friends, as if the endgame here is for white people to be gently urged into disliking black people less and disliking white nationalists promoting ethnic cleansing more - oh wow. That place is fucking la-la-land and not in the cutesy Ryan Gosling way (saw that movie on the plane and it added to my anti-American sentiment).

Anyways, I was relieved to get back here from there, Germany's own social problems and shitty weather and assholes belching second hand smoke all over the places notwithstanding, and that was lucky because if we had headed straight here from Canada, where we had a lovely time, especially Godzilla, it would have been a lot harder. I actually meant to write about what a lovely time we had in Canada rather than kvetch about how hard the US tweaked me out to the point I'm happy to be back in the European hegemon that's dealing with its racial problems by keeping refugees imprisoned in the poorer countries of the south, but well, there you go and now it's time to get the kid to kindergarten. 

giovedì, agosto 17, 2017

Do you know the way to Santa Fe

We've just finished rendezvousing with (rendezvouing? No idea how to conjugate that. Meeting up with. There you go) some family in New Mexico after a visit to Canada, and it was a fascinating time. Santa Fe is an interesting place. Simultaneously a massive shopping centre for and run by well-to-do white women (which obviously I'm not able to whole-heartedly knock) and the place outside of northern Canada with the biggest, most visible concentration I've ever seen of First Nations residents.

Because of the circle of acquaintance of the family we were visiting, and because of the neighbourhood we were staying in, and because of a rabbit hole of Southwest American jewellery I seem to have fallen into, the only time I spent with the white people who live there was when they were trying to sell me something. In a context where the main things for sale are First Nations culture and craft, that was creepy.

But as deeply as I fell into a jewellery rabbit hole - and it was fucking deeply, because besides the awesome way that stuff looks, the history of the making, materials and marketing is giving me so much to think about in terms of the livelihood of artists in general and identity artists in particular; I'm probably going to spend the next year wrapped up in reading and thinking about this - there was no occasion to actually give money to dealers. Everything I wanted to buy (and I bought much more stuff than I'm accustomed to buying because it was awesome and because I could) was available as direct sales from the jewellers themselves.

So there's a whole class of white people uselessly and lucratively piggybacking there. They pat themselves on the back over what an enlightened part of the US they live in because it's all peaced out and left wing; oh yep, the shopkeeps got straight into that with me when they realised I wasn't from around there. I know Trump is giving people bad cases of the cringes lately but I still felt cornered, not having brought up politics myself; it's like having a few drinks with a German and having them spontaneously bring up how the Holocaust was awful and not their fault,  but I digress.

Anyways - in Santa Fe - simultaneously back-patting while overtly living out the racist, colonial model of something-for-nothing exploitation that has never been truly faced and has made the US in general the fucking shitshow basket case of a country that it is today. After a week I was glad to leave. 

venerdì, giugno 09, 2017

giovedì, giugno 08, 2017

Penguins vs Tim Tam vs the socialist state

A couple of weeks ago, after a friend back in Oz sent me a packet of Tim Tams, I started a research project into what other shitty-but-irresistible industrial confectionary is suitable for the equivalent of the Tim Tam Slam with a hot and very strong coffee (and yes, I'm still breastfeeding and exhausted, how could you tell?)

It's been fascinating and delicious process, and will probably be a full-fledged blog post for another time, with rankings and extremely graphic descriptions. But as anyone with an elementary knowledge of these things would guess, the most compelling, if not the most attractive coffee straw substitute for a Tim Tam has been the Penguin Biscuit (and yes, I live on the continent and had to make a special trip to the town centre to an English specialty shop to buy them for an extortionate price).

The comparison is compelling mostly because there has been a long-running rivalry between the two biscuits that tends to bias along British or Australian lines, which is a reach because to my tutored and objective eating-hole, the Penguin seems like a cheap rip-off the the Tim Tam. And seeming like a cheap rip-off of the Tim Tam - the most basic (in the loaded sense of the word) chocolate coated industrial confectionary I thought you could find - is a hell of an accomplishment.

A Tim Tam always struck me as little more than shaped, coloured sugar with only a marginal acquaintance with chocolate, redeemed - but what a redemption!- by the fact you could use it as a straw for coffee. Eating a Penguin changed all that. Compared to a Penguin, a Tim Tam is a flavour and texture rollercoaster through a wondrous realm of subtle, edgy, raw cacoa-ity.

While as good for sucking up coffee and becoming saturated with it in the process as a Tim Tam, a Penguin is ONLY sweet and nothing else until a few seconds after you eat it, when you get a tinny feeling in your mouth, and then five minutes later, when you get an uncomfortable leaden sensation in your tummy. They are awful. They are putatively chocolate, yet I - a breastfeeding gourmand - am seriously considering throwing out the rest of the packet.

Nonetheless there is some sort of debate in the industrial-confectionary-consuming world about the relative merits about Tim Tams and Penguins, and nationalism is all tied up in it in a tired, fucking stupid way that is grinding my gears so much today, as the U.K. shows every sign of heading to the polls with landslide intentions to try to piss the lingering drops of its socialist state up the wall.

Basically, I'd like to see an emotional commitment to universal education and healthcare that's even mildly on par with the emotional commitment so many Brits somehow maintain to the pretence that Penguins are as good or better than Tim Tams. There's no way to abstain or to vote Conservative at this election that isn't an admission that Great Britain is basically finished, and should not restart, as a reasonably nice place to live for most of the people in it.

I am dreading the results, I really am, and I'm all out of Tim Tams with which to binge my way out of the sorrow.

martedì, marzo 28, 2017


I can't believe how fast time is moving with the Monkey King's babyhood as compared to Godzilla's. His was languorous almost - in a nice way - and the Monkey King's is speeding by. I can guess why - I'm a lot busier now, for example, and having had one baby I'm probably better at picking up on how the second one is growing and changing.

But a lot of it, again, is how Godzilla was as a baby, and how the Monkey King is. When I published the mandatory welcome-to-the-world-baby Facebook photo after he was born, one of my cousins commented "you've given birth to a fully grown boy!" and - well, yeah. Godzilla was really good at being a baby. The Monkey King, as I've mentioned before, is struggling to be a boy. Maybe because he has his brother to watch - a sort of mediating figure between the Baby World and the Whatever Mummy Is World - or maybe it's more noticeable because of him being born with a full head of hair and even as a big newborn, had that wizened newborn look that made him look old because of the hair.

But I think the main thing making time speed by is the realisation that this is it. There is not going to be another baby coming out of me and so many of the Monkey King's firsts are so closely related to my lasts. I will almost certainly not teach another baby to talk or walk or sit or smile or eat or drink or any of those mind-bogglingly fundamental things. When Godzilla was doing all that, they were my firsts too, and I had a pretty good idea they'd happen again, because it was something stated between the F-word and me, that we wanted at least two.

But now I've got a pretty good idea they won't be happening again to me. I think the only way we'd have three kids is if a cool half-mill fell in our laps in the next couple of years, and a cool half-mill isn't gonna be falling in our laps.

I'm not sad about it exactly. I guess in the best of all possible worlds I'd like three, but we don't live in the best of all possible worlds and my two are the dearest things in any possible worlds. But it does seem to make everything now acutely - acute. And that speeds things up, because existence





martedì, marzo 14, 2017

My independence seems to vanish in the haze

Using that fucking beast of a cargo bike daily has given me some weird Greek mythology monster body, whereby I have the flapping belly of a woman who gave birth three months ago perched on top of the ass and legs of a goddamn Thundercat.

Speaking of things that are a little complicated but make my life easier, we're hiring help. A cleaner and a babysitter for some of my work hours. The cleaner is self-explanatory, and the older I get the more I think it's both insane and socially irresponsible to not hire people to clean your house if you can afford it. She's a retired nurse from Bulgaria. The cost of living isn't insane here, but it's not retired-Bulgarian-nurse-pension sane. Also kind of awesome to have someone in the house who can give emergency medical aid, even if it's just for three hours a week.

For the babysitter - well. Godzilla we made it to almost a year without help with his care while I was working, but . . .  it's not only a question of there being two of them now and that being more tiring (though it is) or of the F-word now working full time instead of part time (though it is); it's also a question of personality. Godzilla was, I realize now, a super chill baby. In retrospect the occasional shocked looks I'd get from parents with older children when I'd just put him down for a nap when he seemed a little cranky, or put him down for the night when we were at someone's house for dinner, and continue with whatever I was doing or saying - now I understand them. I always assumed the default for babies was super chill, like Godzilla. It isn't.

Because the Monkey King is a sweet, laughing, happy thing - if you are holding him, staring at him, and playing with him. He is a lovely sleeper - if you sleep with him. You may notice that is not fully compatible with working, even working from home. . . and so, help. I met a very nice seeming Italian lady today who can take the lion's share of the job, and who actually wants to work on the books, which is great, since childcare costs are tax deductible here (they weren't in Oz), which will make me feel better financially about having to get care in for the Monkey King nine full months earlier than I did with Godzilla, if not emotionally.

But there's the blessing of the second child . . . I think you're a lot more forgiving of your own shortfalls, even if they still feel like shortfalls, because you get that no matter how you handle parenting situations you're always going to be second-guessing yourself anyways.

Also, a few years of this mothering stuff has demonstrated to me that the proverb about how "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" is one of the truer ones out there, along with "when the elephants fight, the ants get squashed" and "live hoping, die shitting". I can't be a good mother when I'm stressed and tired. I snap. Like all stressed and tired people. I actually told Godzilla to shut up yesterday. I wasn't even that mad. He was sitting in front of me in the cargo bike, making a really irritating shrieking noise in the Monkey King's face that I'd asked him to stop making earlier that day, and suddenly there it was: "Godzilla, shut UP!" And you know, a day later, mostly what I feel about that is glad that he shut up, because it was a really irritating noise.  

giovedì, febbraio 23, 2017

Non-Messiah awakened to vacuity

I read a comment years ago somewhere or other, somewhere I haven't been able to find again, by somebody's son who happened to be Jewish - that's all I remember about him - that Jewish sons and mothers had weird tension with each other and existence because of the possibility that the son could be the Messiah and the mum could be, I guess, Messiah's Mum. Which must be a helluva letdown every time the son hasn't been the Messiah.

Anyways, that's interesting to me because as far as comparisons to the Messiah go, it's mostly the Catholic mums I know holding their babies who go in hard for Madonna and Child archetype stuff. I guess we don't have tension over how our sons might be the Messiah so much as about a thousand years of expensive, beautiful and ubiquitous iconography forcing us to look at ourselves that way. I certainly thought about it a lot when Godzilla was a baby. All those lovely sleepy hot subtropical afternoons, holding him and nursing and watching David Attenborough documentaries; a fat calm little baby with a steady and warm blessing sort of gaze, and me able to shower occasionally. It was positively Michaelangeloesque.

Well, I guess there's a good reason that God made Jesus the oldest, because fuck me if there's been a single Michaelangeloesque moment since the Monkey King was born. Not once have I felt like I was channeling the Madonna. And not once has the Monkey King seemed Jesus-y. Not ONE TIME.

And that's not only because the house is now a zoo and Jesus is more manger-y. It's also because as gorgeous as the Monkey King is - and he is actually really, objectively, a crazy gorgeous baby - he would be a fucking terrible model for someone looking to paint a nativity scene. The second those eyes are open, he is ALL MONKEY KING. He sings, he dances, he tries to talk, he follows everybody with those eyes, seeking contact; he mimes chewing when we sit down to eat. When he was a month old or so, I woke up in the middle of the night and looked at him; he was glaring at me with a perfect crescent frown on his perfect little face, and as I looked into his eyes, the frown drained away and his eyes gently closed.

There is no time for the sort of calm, universal objectivity of blessing. He is . . . too much of a monkey. Not too much of a monkey for me . . . but too much of a monkey to accord with all those calm, blessing sorts of archetypes.

Of course Godzilla played and made eye contact too - he wasn't a sleepy baby - but this new kid is not quite three months, and he's already a kid. Not a baby. It's like he's just skipped that. I've had sleepy imaginings of him pulling a Hercules and strangling serpents if they venture too close to his bed. 

mercoledì, febbraio 01, 2017


I'm fine. I am more than fine. I'm the mother to the hairy little Monkey King as well as Godzilla. I am the mother of a brood.

Well, two isn't really a brood, but you know, it's totally different from one. More exhausting. More consuming. More beautiful. More existentially worrying and fulfilling. More frustrating. More logistically challenging. It changes my view of what I want from my life and death. It changes things almost as much as going from none to one. And having a sense - a pretty fucking strong sense given the health and financial challenges around another pregnancy - that the Monkey King is going to be our last kid; that gives a different rhythm to life. Now for the rest of my life, which until its end is part of the rest of our lives.

Thank god I have a cargo bike with a baby seat insert or I'd be fucked instead of thrilled.