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.