Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Venice

Sitting in the quiet of a shared rental apartment, drinking coffee (not cappuccino) and eating chocolate-filled croissants. This is the first time I've been here in about six years, according to the blog and to my notebook. Certainly I haven't been since G and U stopped going because of their kids, which is five years ago.

Venice sounds like Sunday, no traffic and hardly any voices. The apartment is only about fifty metres away from the main traffic stream between the Stazione and San Marco, yet we hear nothing but occasional voices (in Italian) of residents and the workmen restoring the house at the head of the alleyway. The quiet is very refreshing, almost meditative. It feels a bit like the places we used for our retreats.

Mind you, the busy buzzing world is still out there, only 50m away. There's a supermarket just the other side of the bridge, where we bought groceries last night. (I'm here with members of the meditation group, though we won't be meditating as such. One is here now, two more arrive on Friday.)

I don't see much change in Venice, though of course shops come and go. Perhaps looking for change here is as conceptually wrong as looking for it on the artificial Main Street of Disneyland. It's all about continuity, repetition and predictability. That may be the reason for the phenomenon of tourists travelling huge distances to shop in the same chain stores that are known to them from their home countries. Or perhaps the tourists who do shop there don't have those stores, perhaps they only know them from advertising and fulfill a long-held aspiration by visiting. I've never been in such a chain to see who actually shops there.

Today's forecast is for cloud and storms towards evening, so it'll probably be just a day of local wandering. Biennale tomorrow and Thursday, forecast to be dry and mostly sunny.

Making coffee in the pretty but minimally-equipped rental apartment: ripped-open packet of coffee, spilled grounds in the sink, boiling water in a saucepan, using towel as a potholder. It reminds me of Winnie the Pooh bumping down the stairs on the back of his head, thinking that he might possibly be able to think of a better way to do it, if only he weren't being bumped on the back of his head all the time.

Yes, I did just quote Winnie the Pooh. It's not all Tolstoy all the time.

"Mystifyingly equipped" might be a better description. Dishwasher and washing machine, two fully-equipped bathrooms, wifi and computer and widescreen TV — but no potholders or sharp knives, and only one bar of soap between the two bathrooms. And remind me to tell you about the process of locking and unlocking the door.

I came here by train, overnight via Munich. I slept surprisingly well, the bed was long enough and comfortable. One learns quickly enough to suppress the initial reaction of startled fear when the train tilts into a curve and your head goes down.

My cellmate was a youngish DJ, on his way to a music studio in Treviso to record a new song. It seems a busy and very hard life, he'd been home for one day in the last three weeks before heading off on this trip. I didn't ask for his name or any particular questions about his music (in fairness, we only spoke during the dozen minutes between waking and his disembarking). He probably thought of me as a harmlessly pleasant old guy.

For the first time ever I find myself thinking in terms of what I can and cannot afford. I've truly never thought that before, up to now my income has always been sufficient for what I wanted to do (and its corollary: my wants were always simply and cheaply fulfilled). That has changed during the last few years, and not because of inflationary wanting. I can't really afford to be here now, I have to watch my expenses if I am to get through the week on the handful of cash I brought.

The reason is that my income hasn't kept step with inflation. If I remember rightly, I am earning the same hourly rate now that I was in 2002 when the currency changed. I certainly cannot remember negotiating or being given a raise. Yet costs have doubled, the beer that used to cost four Deutschmarks now costs four Euros.

I'm experiencing a really strong urge to delete this, to censor myself. Fuck that. This will be the truth, or as much of it as I can bear to make public.

Noon. Time to go outside and do stuff.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Sis said...

Glad you're back (Venice and blog) although both are short-term. I can't believe that it has been six years - time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future. Be at peace in venice.

September 26, 2012 at 5:55:00 PM GMT+2  
Anonymous Andy said...

There's nothing wrong with Winnie the Pooh!

Yes, there is a crisis in the world and wages have been kept the same almost everywhere, I think. The only solution is a new job somewhere else but, I think, as one gets older, one wants the hassle of change much less. Not really a good thing.

October 11, 2012 at 9:17:00 AM GMT+2  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

You haven't talked much about your work (or about anything for a while). Sorry to hear it is not going so well.

October 23, 2012 at 6:10:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger Aggers said...

Hey Fudge, tell us more about unlocking the door :p

November 13, 2012 at 12:52:00 PM GMT+1  

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