Part one

I kind of lost track of chronology due to sheer exhaustion, so this instalment won’t be neatly divided into days of the week.

My dear friend G arrived on Saturday and ensured that I will remain grateful forever by offering to paint ceilings. My spine makes various things impossible – painting ceilings is one of those things. So I spent the first few hours tearing off the remaining wallpaper in the living room. Finishing the task coincided with G and Husby beginning to sand various parts of the room, which created so much noise that I ran upstairs and made sure not to get any rest anytime soon. Some wallpaper there was coming off, so I grabbed a corner, thinking about nothing in particular, and pulled at it.

Old Vumman, as it soon transpired, had three hobbies. One was placing motivational texts along the lines of “If you dribble when you piddle, be a sweetie and wipe the seetie” (yes, SEETIE) everywhere. Those are gone by now. Another was putting nails in every wall, at random spots and random angles. Those are mostly gone. The third hobby, however, was wallpapering. The living room had one layer. The gym room and my future office had six. Using the steamer helped only partly, because the last layer was something between plastic and paper, just thick enough to refuse to come off, and just paper-y enough to tear off some of the wall, which is made of something that may or may not be cardboard. If I had known, I wouldn’t have pulled at that corner, just tried to glue it and told myself that I adore Old Vumman’s wallpaper choices… but… well. See the picture above to get an idea how far I got after two days of doing this. Layer four was actually quite pretty, looking as if some graffiti artists came over, sprayed paint in the air, then sneezed (many times), but all of the many wallpapers formed a semi-whole that would neither come off all at once nor one layer after the other.

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Photo: my birthday party. This is not the final decor of the living room.

We’ve now officially moved out of Amsterdam. The place where we now live, Almere, is a small-ish suburban-ish town-ish – I’m going to tell everyone it’s a village, because I like the idea of living in the countryside more than in the suburbs. It most probably isn’t because “Town-ish people” wouldn’t make a very catchy blog post title. Most probably.

 

Thursday, Oct 3

A day of two very important events: my 42nd birthday (and as we know 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything) and the house keys being passed from Old Vumman to us.

The Old Vumman proved not to be all that old and not half as weird as we expected her to be. She was actually quite nice and a bit talkative. The proceedings began with her wishing me a happy birthday and handing us a pot of chrysanthemums (which in Poland are a funeral flower). This was the last bit I really understood before she launched full-speed into explanations of something. Husby listened and I sort of let the word-flood wash over me, until I caught something that kept repeating. Cliquot. Cliquot. Cliquot. What can she possibly mean, I wondered, then she briefly slowed down just enough for me to understand that it had to do with rubbish. Did the rubbish collectors expect only top quality drinks handed to them as… uh… tips…? Later Husby explained to me that she was actually saying “clicco”, because the rubbish bins, when they’re being dragged to the pick-up spot, make a click-click-click sound… Ah. Obviously.

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Judging by my social media and the news articles, humans finally figured out that the climate crisis is 1) real, 2) going to kill us all. Obviously “all” is an incorrect word to use, because the rich – who are causing all this – will do just fine. (The American president, for instance, didn’t attend the climate summit – he, personally, doesn’t have to – yet.) A lot of post-apocalyptic cli-fi writers probably already described the new, crispy world that neither they nor I will be a part of, because we’ll be dead. When the climate anxiety becomes overwhelming, what can we really do apart from breaking down?

I’ve been doing my best to avoid politics, but the G7 summit, Mr Trump’s latest policies, and Mr Bolsonaro’s little ego trip – “I’ll only take your money if you apologise to me” – made me realise that it’s not going to be possible anymore. Because it’s not you or me who can really make a difference. It’s the rich and the politicians they bought.

 

Individual action doesn’t solve the problem, but…

Elizabeth Rush in Business Telegraph (this article was widely reprinted around the world):

Last fall, as I landed in New Orleans, a seed of existential anxiety lodged itself deep in my gut. It was my fifth flight in just over a week. I was in the middle of a tour to promote a book on how coastal communities around the US were already responding to the climate crisis […] I could see the landscape that my air travel would play a role in diminishing – the additional CO2 in the atmosphere melting Arctic sea ice and Antarctic glaciers, causing sea levels to rise. What am I doing here? I wondered.

[…] At the end of my presentation last year in in New Orleans, an audience member asked me whether I still have hope? […] The hope I do have resides in the fact that as the climate crisis comes home to us in deeply unsettling ways – in the form of heatwaves and freak storms, wildfires, and permafrost melt, twisting the world we know into new and disturbing shapes – it is also building unlikely coalitions amongst people who might not appear to share affinities at first glance.

(I recommend reading the entire piece.)

I’ve spent a good chunk of last week in my favourite hideaway – the Magical Garden, courtesy of my two wonderful friends, G and B. But I didn’t get as relaxed as I usually would. First, G showed me a picture of the garden a few weeks ago, during a drought. (See the main photo.) The grass turned yellow. Once the weather returned to normal, whatever “normal” even is these days, most of the grass returned to life. Most. G is resigned to the fact that the next year might be the last one when the garden will actually have any grass in it.

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