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.