domenica, febbraio 05, 2023

Woman of the world

 Today, at the end of a week of staycation - enough of it in the F-word's studio to convince me that what I already thought was a Good Idea should be a Family Business - as I walked my foldy bike and no luggage through one busy metropolis's train station on my way to another busy metropolis's train station a couple of countries over, it struck me that I'm living the dream. One of them, anyways. The one about being an international woman of mystery with a foldy bike. Calm, assured, knowing what to do, where to go, in several countries, in several languages.

Then I got on the Thalys and it took me five minutes to find the button to flush the toilet 

venerdì, dicembre 23, 2022

Fixed on the Now

 So it's taken me until middle age and a really inconvenient number of countries of residence to fully appreciate I don't just or even primarily like moving to new places; I like leaving old places. Not the scorched-earth-and-bridges-bird-flipping-out-the-window sort of liking leaving, though that has certainly had its place in some departures. It's more the intensity knowing you're leaving brings to your attitude to a place. Seeing the seasons cycle for the last time, watching the rise and fall of the rivers, the states of dress and undress of the locals. Last Christmases (though I must say the Christmas here at the moment is communicating a pretty strong don't-let-the-door-hit-your-ass-on-the-way-out; the Christmas market isn't even a tenth of what it normally is for some reason, and what's the point of Germany at Christmastime without the markets if you're interested in not blowing your own fucking head off?), last ceremonies, last hard-rubbish nights, and always, every day, that sharp, sweet, sad consciousness of it being last, last, last; keeping your mind fixed on the Now, your eyes and ears sharp for every little bit of it. 

I've got really shitty for German culture for enforcing Sunday Silence rules. These grumpy morbid fuckers need a day a week to practice being dead, I've grumbled. And here I am, spending my whole adult life to date practicing the art of the Ending. 

No regrets but I really have to cut this shit out, it's not fair on the kids, though I don't think I'm lying to myself in thinking the move is very, very much in their interests. Kids have a sense of place. I assume. Of course they do. My internal geography is still the shitburg I grew up in and couldn't get out of fast enough. I could find my way from one way to the other of it blindfolded, though I assume the drunk drivers would take me out first. 

In fairness to us, this next move is the first we've chosen, ever, based on being pretty sure it'll be an enjoyable place to live. There was Australia of course, but I don't think I was excited for that on the basis of thinking it would be enjoyable so much as a sense of adventure, of something completely new, and of being really sick of religious architecture and northern European winters. Also I remember I wanted to be able to afford a house. Man, 13 or whatever years on, what a weird thing to remember thinking. "I wanted to move to Australia so I could afford to buy a house." Hah! Sounds as stupid as the line I used to spit endlessly about having moved to Germany for the weather. The city where we were living in Oz was basically washed away in this year's floods and we'd still probably need a 50 year mortgage if we wanted to move back.

Anyways. Let's see. 

domenica, maggio 10, 2020

The pandemic is hitting me psychologically most strongly in the sense that this present orgy of premature reopening, this disregard for basic science in rich Western countries, is keeping me from any near-term prospect of seeing my family back home or down south. 

There it is. Isn't that dreadful? That's what's keeping me awake at night. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to die without a good reason and I'm all pissed off because the fact that western Europe and the USA have decided on a "model" meaning years of waves of infection while we wait for a vaccine that might not come, or herd immunity that might not be that meaningful, is going to spin out the time until I can see my family overseas, and maybe in the meantime some of them will die.

But the other way it's hitting me psychologically is this realization I thought I'd already come to many years ago, that I didn't think could disturb me anymore, but it turns out it does when I see it in mass action - the political leadership of the richest Western countries really does not give a shit about people. At all. There is no meaningful social contract in the USA, the UK, and maybe not even here, I'd say, despite how fond Germans are of patting themselves on the back over how well they think they're handling this.

All there is, is dominance. Power. You can hate paternalism all you like. You can even hate socialism if you like. But if you don't have those two things and still have a political power structure that makes the rules for your commerce, your behaviour, and tax collection and redistribution (or fucking lack thereof), all you're left with is power. A power that uses you and does not give a shit about you and will happily see you dead if that lets it maintain itself. 

All the cynicism I practiced when times were good didn't prepare me for this. 

venerdì, settembre 20, 2019

So whonely

I guess this blog is inching towards being defunct. But it isn’t yet. Now that life is regaining some sort of shape after a particularly, acutely crazy year, I am wondering how that is going to translate into what I write and what I spend my bits and prices of time on.

And frankly I’m wondering what happens to me. What with one thing and another in terms of having young kids, aged parents, no friends in this new town yet - no friends in spitting distance - over the last few days, it’s came home to me that there’s no one to take care of me anymore. Everything and everyone around me wants a piece of the Spliffe. No one is handing out pieces.

This came home to me the other night during a date evening with the F-word, wherein we were having a lovely time, and at a certain point, after a little liquid courage and a lot of deliberation, I told him one of those deep dark suspicion things that you even forget half the time that you’ve got because it’s SO deep and dark, and so fundamentally challenging to who you are and who your loved ones are that you almost have to make an effort to remember. (Nothing criminal. Nothing dangerous. No panicking, thank you.) He responded with about 30 seconds of titillated shock. That’s about it. And then back to talking about the bitch at work, basically.

Admittedly his work is rife with bullshit, and a big problem. But to have had all of this deliberation and doubt about sharing this idea or this feeling with him, this thing that’s been weighing on me for the last four years or so, wondering what will change by me saying it out loud, and then 30 seconds later back to his work bullshit - which at a certain point just feels like a variation on the work bullshit he’s been complaining about for the last 13 years - 10 minutes later back to his family bullshit, the same bullshit I’ve been handholding through for the 20 years we've known each other . . .  and this - Thing - of mine down the memory hole like I’d never said it - I don’t know, man. I mean I can’t even talk to him about what happened and how I feel because if he forgot what I told him, he can’t be trusted to know it. Does that make sense? If this Thing is so inconsequential in his eyes that he could get back to his Bitch at Work schtick 30 seconds later then he just shouldn’t know about this Thing and I don’t want to remind him of it.

Anyways, the F-word is what he is. His problems are what they are, and they’re real. But that moment made me realize how alone I am with my own problems. That’s who I am, and where I am. And I’m not sure how I’m dealing with that.

lunedì, marzo 11, 2019


I'm starting to suspect I have no inner life. Not in the way that I used to. My brain is just not being what it was; it's like my imagination has lost its attention span, or like some sort of fantastical muscle I took for granted has atrophied.

There is this combination of me spending too much time with trivialities on my phone instead of giving my thoughts space, and of being a combination of super-tired and super-preoccupied for seven years because of the children. Those things play into each other. The children don't give me much time to think, so instead I read about 19th century female spies or whatever trivia on my phone, which means I definitely don't have time to think, so I just look at more trivia on my phone, and then fall asleep before my brain has had a chance to explore its own inner life in the way it used to. It's a nasty situation. But there you are. It's also acute. The kids are getting less and less tiresome. Things won't be like this forever.

At the moment though, that's combined with being jumpy and twitchy as we summit this sort of fulcrum-point I feel like we're at as a family, financially and practically, of moving into a new place and calmer, less-worrisome shores . . . a good place, but one that I guess I'm a little petrified is either illusory or out of our reach in some way I haven't yet understood.

For reasons specific to this year - the move, the changes, and the fallout of having used an absolutely terrible financial advisor and of having to use contractors I don't trust as a foreign stranger in a city . . .  because of them, even though money isn't a problem (in the sense that we're not desperate for its lack), it's squatting on my brain, this dread of being ripped off or of ceding control for a second and letting someone else's incompetence cost me . . . oppressing me, in a way very similar to seasonal affective disorder; I had to realize rather than intuit that money was the problem. When you have SAD you feel the depression, not the weather.

Anyways. Again, fairly acute . . . I hope. I hope! Because with all this acute stuff, this not sleeping, these worries, these money paranoias, the constant triaging crisis of trying to be a decent mother to two young kids, and carrying around the world's best distraction device in my pocket . . . I feel like I have no inner life and I don't know if I can get it back. I don't know if I can have a brain-case that's not full of fretting, washing-dressing-cleaning-sleeping routines, interesting kitten gifs, and a dull, pounding, endless exhaustion. The endless rose garden it used to be up there is looking pretty concreted-over.

Concrete is what it feels like, really; like one of those valley rivers in an old mill town outgrowing its usefulness to the Philistine money-grubbing developers around it, getting concreted over for some shitty housing blocks and commuter roads. And I'm starting to be afraid I'm not going to be able to get planning permission to demolish all that shit and rehabilitate the river, even if I manage to manage all this acute stuff better, or move past it. Maybe I'm too old, or too tired, or too corrupt.  And we all know what happens to concreted urban rivers, right? Or maybe we don't, because other people spend less time on their phones than I do. Well, they get shitty and smelly and dangerous.

Well. One can only try. And delete the Facebook app from one's phone.