The problem with the Internet is it never turns off

I had to watch myself on Skype last night, which was hard. The beard’s gotten so long it gets in the way of my food, I get moustache hairs in my meat which feels barbaric — and unemployed now for so long, I waver between thinking it’s been the most relaxing two months of my life or possibly I’m going mad, or maybe both: surrounded by so much ambiguity in where we’re going for 90 days over the winter when we have to leave the goddamned Schengen states, how we’re going to deliver a credible homeschooling curriculum to our two kids who are like really smart and cool and how that has its own challenges: wondering if my wife is sizing me up now as a project manager, as we get our kids out the door to some 9-5 camp at the FitKomm up the street and then sit in the homeschool room reiterating the curriculum with subtle power plays that feel like my last job, detailing the plan, building consensus: after all this and a long walk I ask my mom and Dawn if they want to go up the street for a beer and neither of them answers, they just keep reading the newspaper, so I say I’ll just get one out of the fridge, the fucking Kühlschrank, and sit outside: Dawn says why are you so angry (and puts the word in italics), mom waiting by her side for an answer from me, and later offers in private It’s a mid-life crisis, that’s what it is, and it’s real — or why, as a writer for The New Yorker recently suggests, us Americans are just wired this way, we don’t know how to relax, we can’t, we have to keep working: deep down inside we don’t want the free time we think we do, don’t know what to do with it, we’re lost to ourselves and don’t know how to live and no one’s really talking about it.

The kids come home tired from the FitKomm camp but thankfully met a South African girl who’s only eight and speaks four languages fluently including German and English, here with her kid sister, her South African dad and Ukrainian mom, seeking asylum because mom’s country is at war: compared to us Americans considering residency as a WTF, indulgent mid-life ‘figuring it all out’ manoeuvre — like, we just came here because we could, so why not? Why not hire lawyers, animal behaviourists, start a blog, homeschool? Go into depression over it, parlay it into some cottage industry. Figure out how to capitalise on some self-induced trauma and then complain about the success it brings, how it changed us.

Can’t keep up with the weekly bio vegetable deliveries to the Gemüse cellar, feels like The New Yorker or some ass who blogs every day, it carries a weight of expectation when it lands at your doorstep, and we get stressed out when the Gemüse goes off and starts to rot even though it’s not our responsibility really, and you can’t compost here, so we bag the rotten vegetables and they leak into the bottom of the trash that only gets taken once every three weeks so you better not forget to take it up the street — mom writes it on the calendar in cursive — and the dog gets sick because someone gave her rain water out of the barrel that might have dead worms in it — and those bites all over mom and the kids, probably fleas: have to cover the beer, the coffee, the juice with a coaster or the bees could get in there and sink to the bottom if you’re drinking outside, you’d never see them until they’re down your throat, stinging — and with all this I’ve stopped reading, broken my daily drink limit, and committed myself to thinking blogging is real and legitimate, a meta-life as real as real life and leading me somewhere, important. If you believe a writer lives in two different worlds, can you live in either, and both? And once you’ve chosen one have you compromised the other?

Ginger nearly got her ass kicked by a swan today who was fluffing itself up and about to take her eyes out, and Charlotte — when she runs up the road to the FitKomm camp — looks like a turtle, her rucksack so big, like she’s just learning to use her legs, how to balance herself with so much weight on her back, all the extra layers and shoes and water bottles she’ll need — all of it’s out of proportion to her body, but she’ll grow into it just like the rest of us.

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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23 Responses to The problem with the Internet is it never turns off

  1. walt walker says:

    I feel like you snuck inside my head, took my thoughts, and put them into your own words. You are right about us. Living over there will bring it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ksbeth says:

    and the growing into it, is what keeps us going.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Yeah Beth, this time allows us to question and rethink lots; we’re lucky. That piece by The New Yorker struck me, was featured on a friend’s blog, poking the box as it were: do we know how to relax and do we need to work as hard as we do? And then apply that to kids, and well — there you have it…’nuff said for me, for now…’standing on the shoulders of giants leaves me cold.’

      Like

  3. Tish Farrell says:

    It’s hard not being in your own space, and with others not in their own space. Perhaps you need to let yourself unravel – just for bit anyway.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Good advice, and astute as always. This fanfare can spool out all over the carpet: all the dynamics of gender notwithstanding, the man thinking he needs to have some purpose. It goes on from there. Glad to have an audience though as the smoke collects and pools out from under the hood, on the side of the road here, ha! Cheers, Tish — Bill

      Liked by 2 people

      • Tish Farrell says:

        Anyway, you do have a purpose. You are documenting transition – for you, your family, the places you are transitting through. Maybe you can come up with a particular angle that gives YOU a project, and can suit the girls’ home schooling needs. Perhaps they can suggest something. You know, like a quest where you each have to bring something to the Round Table. For one thing you are travelling across Europe in interesting times…I’m just rambling, but you’ll get the drift. Never mind the exploding car, saddle up the trusty steed, Sir Knight…get the young squires into their chainmail…

        Liked by 1 person

      • pinklightsabre says:

        So much truth in that Tish, and not far from what I’ve been thinking – even the allusions to the knights, by golly! Seems a boundless volume of opportunities to tie in history, art, literature…we need to focus and start cuttin’ scope already.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Anonymous says:

    Serenity now!!!
    I feel crummy quite frequently and then feel crummy about feeling crummy. Why can’t we just be crummy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Who’s this anonymous fellow. Stupid phone. RM

      Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Yeah, I want my money back dammit. How’s it, you using a phone? Now I’m confused. I thought you didn’t do phones. I was just opening my hatchback here to write about that, how it all started with pagers.

      Like

      • rossmurray1 says:

        The school got me one. It was time (social media demands etc.). I’m in MTL today with Abby for med stuff so it’s handy. I’ll try to keep it under control.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        The school got you one so you could like, spread the good word about the school via LinkedIn or some other bullshit. You were my last hope, Murray. Well, have fun with the video games and the stock reports, and the hourly tracking of the weather, and the little videos, and the bleeps when someone farts while they’re reading your post, and I guess I’ll see you on the other side, if I can get your attention.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        “Try to keep it under control.” I just read that. I just noticed that – ha! Good luck, bucko!

        Liked by 1 person

      • rossmurray1 says:

        Quit distracting me. I’m playing scrabble with my daughter on iPad.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Elyse says:

    I found that the simplest things were what drove me over the edge when we were in Europe. The big things I expected, but the little ones snuck up at me and hit my exposed underbelly. I tried to laugh more than I cried, but sometimes it was freakin’ hard. (I once had a total meltdown in a hardware store when I’d forgotten my dictionary and couldn’t remember the french word for “nail” — how can I not get a nail at a hardware store ….

    Thanks for that New Yorker article. I’m mid-way through my last week of a theoretically 3 week vacation. I’ve had 1 — ONE — day off. I work peripherally in litigation and deadlines change constantly — as soon as I plan to take time off a new deadline plops itself down in the middle — or better yet — at the tail end of it. My deadlines are set by courts (for their convenience, not mine) and the whims of my clients constantly change. I am going to have a nervous breakdown, for sure. But thanks to that article, at least I know I will not be alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I have to say, I’m part-glad and part-sad about your reaction to the article. Glad you took the time to read it but sad it resonated the way it did. I could go on here, but another time. I just hope you get some rest and time with your loved ones. And thanks for spending a moment here. Best, – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your posts are my vicarious expat experience. I’m kind of glad I am where I am…

    Had to laugh at the line, “Ginger nearly got her ass kicked by a swan.” Any other dog name doesn’t quite work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s our dog, Ginger: happily happening upon a German swan who’s about to fuck her day sideways, there ya’ go, lad. Close call.

      Like

  7. Dina Honour says:

    The first week we were in Cyprus I likened it to landing on Tatooine. Then I found out I was allergic to Olive Trees. The irony was so thick I could taste it..in between the watery, itchy eyes and the running nose. Eventually I made peace with it. But it took a while. Give yourself some time. It’ll be worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thanks Dina, I believe it will be worth it, which is why we’ve committed ourselves to this. I think we are on the same frequency; it’s nice to have your support and encouragement. Sorry if that sounds bland but know it’s more than that. I’m just struggling to find the keys now in the dark. Cheers, – Bill

      Like

  8. Yahooey says:

    The article reminds me of another I saw a while back. A rant on busy as a badge of honour; pissing contests with weekly hours as the piss. It’s all very unhealthy and the standard reply to busy is: That’s good, your not in danger of losing your job (boy do I hate that one). People who aren’t busy are seen as lazy and/or unwanted. It’s social pressure literally killing you.

    I have pages in my notebook with thoughts similar to the ones in your blog. What I like about writing them down is it stops my mind from going further down the rabbit hole. It’s like I don’t want to be thinking about things I’d be embarrassed rereading later. I’ve made the mistake a couple of times and those entries are painful.

    I’m enjoying the German sprinkles but the word that made me smile is bio. It’s the same word in French and I struggle to remember the word organic when speaking English.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I’m glad you checked out the article, it makes me think a lot and that’s good. Lots in your comment does the same, and glad the word ‘bio’ resonated with you too, funny: I’m trying to incorporate some of the local language in my posts as you can see. So much more to say on the topic, but I have to let it stew for myself personally. Just think something’s wrong; what you say here is the same thinking. Looking forward to hooking up sometime soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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