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'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND

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. 

lunedì, luglio 02, 2018

In praise of the pooch

So between running, breastfeeding, three weeks of Asian meal portions, being sick, biking, and not actually putting on all that much weight when I was pregnant with the Monkey King, I'm actually the least heavy I've ever been in my adult life and have been for a little while now. And up until last week, I would say, I was feeling cynical about that, because my belly still was, and always will be, poochy and flabby.

Two full term pregnancies concluding with big old monster babies coming out au naturel and one surgically-concluded trimester of a pregnancy my body had no idea had terminated itself fucked up a lot of stuff down there, which has left it a really bad idea for me to do things that will ever resurrect the six pack (or more honestly the 2 x 1.5 pack) I rocked for a little while between babies and before Godzilla. And you know, I really loved that stomach. It was great. Not too show-offy, not unnatural looking, but gosh it looked strong and awesome, and I wanted it back, and I have been having to accept that it will not be coming back. Not when sit-ups or Pilates group classes or plank challenges or whatever the fuck risk pushing my organs out of my own body.

It's been a road, but finally I'm there. I got to the point where I started seeing my permapooch as a badge of honour for how I'm still wearing my bladder on the inside; an emblem of picking and choosing when and where I pee. And I'm even past that point, in the sense that about a week ago I decided my pooch is actually adorable and anyone without one is missing out because they're decorative.

Give my narcissism enough time . . . it will find a way.

This is similar to something that happened around 20 years ago now, when I messed up my knee. A lot of limitations came home to me then, and they had a paradoxical effect of making me appreciate all the magical things my body COULD do. That was a sort of watershed moment; I started liking my body a lot more, and it laid the groundwork for me to eventually start treating it better.  

giovedì, giugno 07, 2018

Oh give me a home, where the Germans are rude bastards

I’m still here . . . Are you? If not I can’t blame you. It’s been hard to keep my head, or rather my typing fingers, above the water as work gets busier, children get more interesting, and we keep complicating our own lives whenever it seems like we’re getting into some sort of routine. My latest idiocy has been a three-week work trip to Asia that the Monkey King and my mother have joined me on, as I continue my quest to be both a high-powered executive primary breadwinner and an extended milker. It’s been going mostly well. The China and Japan legs were very successful in terms of showing the mum the world, and work. Japan was particularly child- and senior-friendly, and totally bloody charming to me; I’ll go back, with and without family, as soon and as often as possible.

We’re wrapping up the tour in Thailand, which is much less so. I don’t think it’s my imagination that things feel a little less cheerful and welcoming than they did four years ago. And to be honest the way my personality is shaping up I just can’t stand being in places like this. After our last trip here back in 2014, I divided the world up into four kinds of countries: places that are completely awful for everyone, like, say, Eritrea; places that are awful for poor people but lovely for middle class people, like here; places that are pretty good for most people, like Japan or most of Northwest Europe; and places that are very bad for poor people and pretty bad for middle class people, like North America or the UK.

I think those categories still work for me. And I can’t stand spending time in the second category. Don’t get me wrong; we’re eating at nice restaurants and getting massages and drives everywhere here - I’m not shunning the benefits of having lots of money in a country without lots of money. But I know too much about what’s been happening politically here to imagine that the status quo of poor people just smiling and being polite and deferential is just fine with Thai people, and it all feels icky. And the racialized aspect feels icky too. It feels icky to see the old white men with their young Thai wives here. It feels icky to see Thai nannies carrying white women’s babies for them during shopping excursions.

I know I’m not going to be helping anything by avoiding traveling in countries like this, or India (though I will), and I’m not going to help anything by judging THE FUCK out of all the white tourists who gobble this place up like it’s a Jell-O shot at a sorority party (though I do). But this is me - and me wants to go home to Germany, where service providers are secure enough in their livelihoods and persons to be positively rude 50% of the time. This trip has given me enough perspective that I will positively welcome the rudeness, at least for the next few weeks.

Also, I miss Godzilla so much I could scream. Three weeks was about two and a half weeks too long to be away from him. I think it’s been good for him and the F-word to have some time together, especially over the F-word’s slow time (Germans don’t really work in May), and it’s been good for me to have the time with my mother, and it’s been good for the Monkey King to get only—child levels of attention and affection for a few weeks. But damn, do I miss my big boy.