Dumb Dream

capgun

This dumb dream
With little room to breathe

From the chest
Doomed to die I confess

Chorus says
Tragedy is senseless

Results show
No desire to end this

Chaotic
News breaks and our hearts freeze

No relief
Our hopes are upended

Uprooted
Youths gone this instance

Despondent
No succor, safe distance

Please now please
Desperate admittance

Run up, shout
Second guess this amendment

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Dr. Strangehair (Or How I Learned to Start Caring and Feel the Bern)

sanders

They say politicians are in the back pocket of corporations. But, come on, that’s not fair to corporations. Politicians are more or less employees of corporations at any rate. Let us give corporations credit where credit is due, they know how to game the system into serving their interests over the interests of the people. This creates an environment where the American people feel powerless or that when they cast a vote, they’re simply choosing between the perceived lesser of two evils. Which in turn leads to apathy and disengagement from political discourse.

Maybe I’m anti-corporate, I don’t know. I don’t consider myself anti-corporate and I don’t think I’m anti-capitalist. But I’m certainly not pro-corporation. If there’s a corporation out there that doesn’t kill small businesses, underpay their workers, poison the environment, or lube politicians with greenbacks in order to persuade them to act contrary to the interests of their constituents, then please, tell me. Until then, maybe I am anti-corporate after all.

Annual shareholders meeting.

Annual shareholders meeting.

Politicians who are not beholden to corporations or fringe special interest groups appear to be in short supply these days. Especially at the federal level. However, there is a slightly ogre-ish malcontent stirring up some trouble as of late though, and he might be just what we need. He’s a socialist but he prefers the nomenclature “democratic socialist” or “progressive” when asked. Even though Socialism is a big bad scary thing in American politics, I seriously doubt that most Americans even know what it is.  I recently heard an educated, well-traveled American confuse Socialism for Communism which could suggest that perhaps, like this person, many do not know the difference.

It’s been posited (pretty much only in America and almost no where else) that Socialism is an evil, no good, very bad shitty way to do things. Socialism already exists in America (par example: social security, unions, Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act, food stamps, unemployment, workman’s compensation) so we can just go ahead and dispel the notion that democracy and socialism cannot coexist. The vast majority of Europe is also a reasonably good example, but whatever. Europe talks funny, it shouldn’t count.

If you haven’t realized it by now, the mad scientist-ish politician I’m talking about is Vermont Senator and victim of continual static electricity, Bernie Sanders. The only thing people can hang on him is that he’s unpolished and *GASP FAINT PISS PANTS* a socialist. Recent journalistic hit jobs on him would suggest that his being president would bankrupt America because his fantasy overhauls would carry a hefty price tag. That is completely true but only half of the story; the net cost of his proposals would come to benefit Americans and actually be cheaper than current healthcare cost projections. The Wall Street Journal estimated Sander’s “plan” would cost $18 trillion over the next decade, but neglected to mention that Sanders has not released his actual proposal and that their estimate is based on legislation proposed by Rep. John Conyers. And here’s the kicker, actual healthcare cost projections for the next decade in the system that now exists would total around $42 trillion.

Bernie on the campaign trail.

Bernie on the campaign trail.

Bernie Sanders has conservatives salivating because they feel if he were to win the Democratic nomination that Republicans could put a red tie on a mop and win the general election. Avowed Sanders supporter though I am, if I am to make an inference based on the most current campaign finance figures, every candidate should be afraid of Sanders.

Bernie has surpassed one million donations already. Not bad for a guy who declared less than five months ago. It’s a record-setting pace, beating both of Obama’s presidential campaigns which set records of their own. And with average contributions $30 or so, his supporters represent a well that can be returned to over and over again. He raised just a little less than Hillary Clinton this past fiscal quarter, and she has a donor list that is topped by Wall Street firms and corporations that read like a who’s who of assholishness. Both raised more than any Republican, but that’s not necessarily a fair comparison when the Republican field is crowded like some milquetoast country club fundraiser for reseeding the greens.

When you look at those figures and the sizes of the crowds who come to hear him speak, it’s clear that although he prefers to be referred to as a democratic socialist or a progressive, his supporters view him as a true populist. If you were to assign designations to politicians based solely on the way the populace responds to them, Bernie can’t be anything less than a legit populist. Clinton would be a Borg cube. Jeb Bush would a flavorless milkshake. Bobby Jindal would be an elf that makes cookies in hollow trees. And Donald Trump would be a dustbunny riding the jet stream of a fart.

The Cash Money Records crew. (not pictured: Bernie Sanders)

The Cash Money Records crew. (not pictured: Bernie Sanders)

Alright, my Sander’s stiffy aside, let us circle back to the original jumping-off point. Corporations may or may not be a work of the devil blah blah blah doo doo-doo. Corporations are not democratic entities. At their best, they are meritocracies, at their worst they fuel themselves on kitten blood and baby tears. They have a lot of clout in Congress, but how bad is it really?

Look, another group of innocent people at a school just got blown away for no good reason. And it seems likely that little will change in the aftermath. Politicians who aim to move against the gun lobby receive not-so-subtle notices that Remington or Winchester or whoever will relocate the factory in their district. So, unless they want a bunch of upset, newly unemployed voters to deal with, then they better step off. It’s an entirely tangential undertaking to unravel the myriad reasons why this works on politicians but shouldn’t. But I’ll leave that for another day.

umpqua

Each shooting is one too many.

This is just the most recent example of why we maybe sort of kinda need a person to run the country who isn’t at the yoke of big money. There’s also issues like the Keystone XL pipeline. It seems a safe bet that any Republican, if elected, would approve it because, duh, oil money is the best money. Instead of focusing on nature and people-friendly renewable resources they’ll opt for the pipe because their short and curlies are firmly in the grip of corporations. They need that money for re-election. And if they don’t take that money and choose a different route, that money could potentially end up in the wallet of their opponent.

Over-dramatic?

Am I being needlessly melodramatic?

I want Sanders as president because he can’t be pinned down or penned in by CEOs and lobbyists. I think the rest of the country wants that too, whether Sanders represents their ideal candidate or not. Let’s be real, you’re not likely to find many gun-loving bible thumpers preaching the gospel of conglomerates. Just like you’re not going to find a single mom working two jobs praying for a boardroom full of neckties to come and save her.

Cynicism is not an attractive trait. But my cynicism, and the collective negativity that the American electorate feels towards politicians is merely a reflection of our ever-diminishing hope that they will achieve something, anything that will make us feel safer, live healthier, or prosper. We feel this because their means and methods are so plainly obvious. Bernie’s are obvious as well, but we know with him that he’s on our side, not the side of money.

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We the People of the Gun

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower


At a recent role-playing game session we undertook a pen and paper adventure that takes place in modern-day United States. Our characters needed to procure guns for a mission so it fell to me as the lone American to explain to the rest of the group how we would do that. I talked about background checks, waiting periods and the gun show loophole as well as private sales. There was a brief moment of awed silence before my Norwegian friend put his hands to his face and said from behind them, “What the fuck is wrong with your country?”

I could only shrug.

It’s confusing to me and many others why guns are such a problem. And the reasons why are numerous. I mean, we have a gun-control supporter for president and a Democratic majority in the Senate. On the other hand the NRA is a powerful group and their lobbyists are if nothing else, effective. But they are outnumbered by millions of other people who probably don’t want their faces blown off.

What do they actually do anyway? Meetings must be so boring. "So, guns...pretty neat, right?"

What do they actually do anyway? Meetings must be so boring. “So, guns…pretty neat, right?”

There are also statistics like these which don’t just suggest, but actually prove that owning a gun doesn’t make you any safer. Women and children are more likely to be shot if there’s a gun in the home. People who carry guns are more likely to be shot and a higher gun ownership rate is directly related to more homicides and suicides.

Maybe part of the issue is that gun advocates avoid reading the data. Another part is the lack of focus of gun-control supporters. What part of their platform is most important? It’s a bit of an echo chamber at times, a bunch of people are calling for tighter restrictions but the nature of their demands can be quite vague. Which is part of why their argument is easily dismissed and lost in the shuffle. Gun ownership reform would actually necessitate several steps and to anyone on the fence it can seem overly complicated and perhaps more trouble than it’s worth.

Worth. There’s an important concept in this discussion. What is it worth to Americans that less people die?

Just watch The Wire already. I'm sick of reminding you.

Just watch The Wire already. I’m sick of reminding you.

Part of this discussion is difficult to have because if you’re playing the odds, young black males are more likely to be shot than anyone. Gang members and their victims usually aren’t NRA members and a lot of Americans who don’t live in those environments simply don’t care about what happens to people on the fringe.

When a Newtown, an Aurora or an Isla Vista happens though, it hits a nerve, doesn’t it? The attention to, and resultant anger over gun violence is disproportionately loud and white when you consider how many die on inner city streets every day.

Mass shootings are on the rise but they are, statistically-speaking, only a small part of the yearly gun death tally. But that’s not to downplay the total number of gun deaths per year which is both mind-boggling and unacceptable. Over eleven-thousand in 2010. Current trends indicate that between twenty-four and thirty gun homicides occur every day.

I would have said that cable news networks are something akin to the blind leading the blind but at least the blind get stuff done. CNN still hasn't found that airplane or make their holograms seem utterly pointless.

I would have said that cable news networks are something akin to the blind leading the blind but at least the blind get stuff done. I mean come on, CNN still hasn’t found that airplane.

Maybe shootings are over-reported? It certainly can reach a saturation point where you just can’t take anymore and it makes you feel numb. But that said, even though we know that news outlets choose salacious topics for the sake of higher ratings, shouldn’t the fact that we are inundated with reports of gun violence be enough to mobilize people into concerted action? I guess no, not really.

I come from Michigan where hunting is huge. But I don’t think hunters are the problem as not every hunter is a gun-nut and vice-versa. I also don’t think handguns are the problem. I think it’s the lacking background checks and prevalence of semi-automatic guns.

When the founding fathers wrote the Constitution they could not have known how guns would advance. They could not have predicted the accuracy, the power, or the rate of fire. Guns in the Revolutionary War couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. (Okay, maybe they could if you were standing in the barn.) If you told the framers of the Constitution that more people would die from guns every year than American soldiers died in battle during the entire course of the American Revolution their wooden teeth would fall out of the powdered-wigged heads. They would think we were being invaded by the British again.

"Why is everyone giggling?"

“I wish someone would just hurry up and invent the internet already, I’m freezing my teacakes off.”

For the staunchly pro-gun crowd to argue for an iron-clad Second Amendment and state that the will and intent of our forebears must be strictly adhered to is in contradiction to Thomas Jefferson’s views on law:

“I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

And oddly enough, some politicians and the NRA think more guns would solve the problem. (Reminder: I pointed out earlier in this post that higher gun ownership equates to a higher gun fatality rate.) There is a thought, a very-dumb-not-good-at-all thought, that we should arm teachers. Right. Is it just me or is that pants-crappingly insane? Let’s arm overworked, under-appreciated, underpaid people who work with children. Sarcasm noted?

My point being that humans are flawed. We are dumb, we are passionate, men with boners do stupid things, you name it. Trained professionals still accidentally shoot themselves all the time. Some people forget to lock up the house before they leave so how can you expect a gun owner to remember to lock the gun cabinet?

Us humans are not always as great as we wish we were.

Us humans are not always as great as we hope we are.

Guns, on the other hand, are perfect. If maintained properly and used effectively, they kill things pretty much all the time. The notion that guns aren’t the problem seems willfully ignorant to me.

Some gun advocates say a gun is not a weapon, it’s a tool. Well, I’d say that I teach children and that’s the silliest thing I’ve heard in a while. Guns were invented as weapons. The Chinese made them so that they could shoot other people that they didn’t like. It was later appropriated to hunting but it started off as a weapon and still is, by definition, a weapon. Sure, you can kill people with tools, but you can’t build a house or even a spice rack with a gun. Therefor, it’s not a tool.

You know what? Screw it. If someone can provide video proof of themselves constructing a spice rack with a gun I'll eat my hat.

You know what? Screw it. If someone can provide video proof of themselves constructing a spice rack with a gun I’ll eat my hat.

A weird little thing I’ve heard is that guns aren’t the problem, violence is. Well, for starters, “What?” And my follow-up, “Huh!?” There seems to be a general disconnect there that ignores that guns are a shortcut to violence when our basest desires cannot be resisted. And that the violence that stems from gun use is more likely to be fatal and harder to prevent. So to that logic I can only say, “(sound of blowing raspberries.)”

We are exposed to media that romanticizes guns. In video games, guns solve problems. However, I don’t think that video games are the issue. Of developed nations the U.S. leads the way in the rate of gun deaths per year and other developed nations have the same access to television, toys, books, movies, and yes, video games, that we do. In fact, in Japan where video game ownership is higher, the gun death rate is so low that by comparison it’s as if no one is ever shot in Japan. You are 147 times more likely to be shot to death in the U.S. than Japan.

Promo pic from the Japanese manga/anime Fist of the North Star. This is about the only picture you can find of Fist of the North Star that won't erode your soul. Oh, Japan. You wily devils.

Ultra-violent entertainment is even more commonplace in Japan than in the States. For example, here’s a promo pic from the Japanese manga/anime Fist of the North Star. This is about the only picture you can find of Fist of the North Star that won’t erode your soul. Oh, Japan. You wily devils.

What’s the difference then? Gun laws. They have super-strict background checks in Japan and the low gun death tally shows it. Their laws help weed out people who are unstable and potentially violent from having guns.

We don’t actually have that. We have criminal background checks which aren’t required in private sales or at gun shows and are based only on convictions, not a psychiatric report or even an interview.

We need new laws so what about the lawmakers? Well, here’s the biggest obstacle of all: Members of Congress spend half their terms worried about re-election which is why precious little ever gets done and why their approval rating is in the crapper. I think that installing term limits would end that, but do I think it would ever happen? Hrrrm…not bloody likely.

An atypically productive session of Congress unravels at the appearance of a sunbeam.

An atypically productive session of Congress unravels at the appearance of a sunbeam.

Gun ownership is popular in many states and more and more guns are being made every year which means more jobs which gun makers threaten to take to another state if the local elected official starts talking about gun control. So I kind of understand why the buckle so early and often. Politicians are not entirely chicken shit. But they’re not not entirely chicken shit.

Guns provide the illusion of power. The sense of control. But statistics show that the introduction of more guns equals more death and more chaos. In Australia when a mass shooting occurred the conservative government in office passed sweeping gun control laws and there hasn’t been a mass shooting since. Several politicians were eventually voted out of office due to the backlash from their pro-gun constituencies but they seem to bear no regrets because they were doing their job in making the country safer. That sort of plain logic doesn’t compute to American politicians.

Personally, I’m in no rush to move back to a country with a government whose politicians think that their jobs are so much more important than protecting the citizenry that they won’t even write a law. I’m content to just watch from afar for now.

I See a Man Without a Country

I’m an American sasquatch and I’ve been in Europe since the beginning of September 2012. My girlfriend Cynthia and I spent a few months travelling and then getting certified to teach English before landing in České Budějovice, which is in the southwestern corner of the Czech Republic. We’ve been living and teaching here for almost eleven months now. We love our flat, our jobs, and are making more friends all the time. After initially being strapped for cash upon arriving here in CB, we now make enough from our teaching jobs to pay for trips without needing any of our (her) savings for funding. Everything is great and every day feels like we’re living the dream. Except for one thing, one huge problem.

We don’t know what to do next.

At first glance, it seems like one of them good problems. We’re living in Europe, regularly travel and can afford to do so and live comfortably while only working part time. But we don’t feel that CB is our permanent home. We have aspirations to make a real home somewhere, you know, the kind of home you renovate and buy furniture for. We’ve accumulated very little in the way of personal effects in order to keep ourselves light and streamlined for more travel in the future. The biggest thing either of us have bought so far are an acoustic guitar and a typewriter, but both are so cheap that they could be easily jettisoned when we go to move again.

If CB isn’t our permanent home, then what is? She’s from the state of Washington, specifically an island town near the San Juans and I’m from the thumb knuckle of Michigan. Seattle perhaps? Detroit maybe? How about other cities? We share a former boss who would hire us in a heartbeat in San Diego but it would require making coffee again. What about Colorado? Montana? Alaska? A lot of European countries bear consideration based on availability of work; Croatia, Germany, Austria and a few others included. Hell, even though it’s America’s attic Canada is on our radar.

I think this is the Prime Minister of Canada. Truth be told, I don't know who's in charge of any country nor can I find most of them on a map. 'Merica!

I think this is the Prime Minister of Canada.

That last part may have sounded a little silly, but it’s quite simple to me. Why is Canada even an option if we decide we’re going to go back to North America? Why not just go back to America? Well, even though I sometimes consider myself a proud American I can say that Canada seems so damn attractive to me because they seem to care more about their own people.

There’s the whole universal health care thing. Yeah, we kinda sorta maybe got some health care in the United States now, but it’s a lot of half measures because Republicans are obsessed with low taxes and protecting big businesses. I’m skipping the political debate here, but I could go a lot further. And anyway, since the Democrats don’t have a solid majority in the Senate and are in the minority in the House, we got a camel for healthcare reform. Just so you know, a camel is what you get when you design a horse by committee. In first world countries, free healthcare is damn common and America doesn’t have it. Countries we tend to look down our noses at have a better record of taking care of their sick and elderly than we do.

Anyhoo, what’s another thing that is important for young people to consider who may want to settle down and have a family?

Paid maternity leave, another thing that America doesn’t have. Canada has fifty weeks of it and here in the Czech Republic you can choose to have up to four years of paid parenting leave. That’s right, four years. Granted you only get a percentage of your salary, but being on leave for that long right up until your kid starts school means no babysitters or daycare if you don’t want any. To make it sound even a little crazier, the parents can switch off during parenting leave. Yeah, it almost sounds like magic. Next thing you know I’ll be telling you that every kid here goes to Hogwarts and that you can find herds of unicorns in the forests of South Bohemia.

Biggest drawback of living in the Czech Republic? Nothing gets done unless Jaromir Jagr wills it so.

Biggest drawback of living in the Czech Republic? Nothing gets done unless Jaromir Jagr wills it so.

To be absolutely clear, the Czech Republic does have a lot of problems. We aren’t planning on starting a family here or anything. People are not always very kind to visitors or humans in general, there are ongoing issues with the Romani, the roads here are Michigan-level bad and the government is Chicago-level corrupt. And yet, every one has healthcare and paid parenting leave. So, yeah, you gotta take the good with the bad, but at least the people are being looked out for.

Is it silly to have considerations like these affect your choice of where to raise a family? I don’t know, to me it seems pragmatic, maybe too much so I’m willing to concede. Maybe to others it seems too opportunistic, but I’m from the motherfucking land of opportunity so yeah, I like a sale. What’s that? You’re giving away free healthcare and paid parenting leave? Gimme gimme gimme.

But there’s also the point I’m trying to make. And that is, “Hey America, what gives?”

One issue that I find really agonizing and that affects my view of America greatly is gun control. I.e., the lack of it. It breaks my heart that I would rather not live in America because of the gun problem than live there and have to stomach it. I can’t change the way I feel about it, plain and simple. I’m not afraid of guns, I don’t want everyone’s guns to be taken away and melted down, and I don’t think I’m in great risk of being shot. I just frankly am quite depressed when whacko birds with guns mow down a bunch of kids and nothing changes because a bunch of other whacko birds with guns think that the solution is more guns.

If I'm being honest, I do really like Seattle quite a bit and I lived there for three years. I just don't have the same feelings about it that Cynthia does. I'd rather live up in the islands near where she grew up.

If I’m being honest, I do really like Seattle quite a bit and I lived there for three years. I just don’t have the same feelings about it that Cynthia does. I’d rather live up in the islands near where she grew up.

I love America, but I don’t always miss it. Okay, I’ll be honest, I rarely miss it. But I am a misanthrope with little to no feelings so this isn’t news to those who know me best. I don’t miss things often, I don’t do whatever “homesick” is, and even though I love my family, I don’t choose where to live based on where they are. It has nothing to do with them, and as cold as that may sound, I was raised thinking I could do whatever I wanted if I worked hard because that’s part of the American identity and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. I don’t exactly know how it sounds for me to say that, but as an American I can expect to be welcome in a lot of countries and even anticipate less stringent VISA requirements than other non-European Union citizens. With those and other advantages available to me it seems silly to not make use of them.

Cynthia and I have differing views of what being American means and whether or not we should live in America permanently. At the present, I’m thinking that there are countries and situations that people are born into where they’ll never get to leave their country even though they want to. Whether it’s because they’re poor or oppressed, they will die having never crossed the border. I hate to get all heavy handed here, but am I wrong? No, I’m not. So I think being American means making the most of the chances we get and using our freedom that way. Cynthia’s opinion on the matter is that America is a part of her, it’s where she’s from, it’s where her closest friends are, and the Northwest specifically is where the people who she relates to the best live. She’s not wrong to feel those feelings, you might never have friends who get you like the people you grew up with or met in college. And she is much more sentimental than I, but not to a fault. I mean, come on, she quit a job that she liked quite a bit and moved out of the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard that she loved to go on an adventure like this. So I don’t think she suffers from an abundance of sentimentality and I also don’t think she’s incorrect to feel the way that she does.

So, does that mean I’m a bad guy? Am I too hard, too distant and callous to consider living anywhere but America? Does it mean I hate America now?

All Detroit jokes aside, it's got a certain Berlin post-wall thing happening at the moment. If it continues, it could become an entirely different kind of city than what is the norm in America.

Detroit’s got a certain Berlin post-wall thing happening at the moment. If it continues, it could become an entirely different kind of city than what is the norm in America.

No, if anything it just proves that I’m feeling conflicted and that our predicament is a complex one. Detroit is atop the list of places in the States where I’d want to settle, so I don’t think I’m completely anti-America nowadays. Actually, I have several places I’d be willing to live. However, when it comes to Detroit I want that city to be great again and I want to be a part of it. I also love the idea of cheap ass real estate. However, if we don’t settle the issue of which country to live in will we always be looking? Will we ever really settle in a single spot?

Having kids would probably do that. We know a Czech family here and we’ve both taught their daughters. I’ve never been entirely clear on what the father does but I know he commutes to and from Prague regularly these days. His work used to have the family living in New Zealand and I think both of the girls or at least one was born there. The older one is seven and the younger one is five. They both are fluent in Czech of course as their parents are Czech born and raised. But because of growing up in New Zealand for a little bit, the seven year old is fluent in English with no accent and the little one for her age is about a decade ahead of any other five year olds when it comes to English. At some point they either decided to live in Czech Republic again or his work required him to, but whatever the impetus for their return was the experience was incredible for their daughters. Parents are shelling out money here to teach their kids English and these two girls are light years ahead of their peers because their parents lived abroad. I could have bilingual kids solely because I raised them abroad and the doors that could leave open for them are a great many if they keep up their second language.

I’m getting way ahead of myself here. We don’t even know if we’re staying here in CB past this school year yet but we’re looking into finding work elsewhere before we decide. The likeliest course of action is that we stay in Central Europe. If not here, Germany, maybe Austria if there are jobs anywhere other than the bigger cities.

In Berlin there are lots of cool things things to see and do and lots of cool people to meet and party with and lots of free time to do all these things because no one has a job in Berlin.

In Berlin there are lots of cool things things to see and do and lots of cool people to meet and party with and lots of free time to do all these things because no one has a job in Berlin.

An aside, Germany and Austria would be slam dunk propositions to move to if we felt that the salary/cost of living ratio was doable and met our travel expectations. Vienna (Austria) or Hamburg (Germany) would be a dream if we could do better than break even but we’re not confident that we could. There is no work to be found in Berlin so that’s right out, so maybe the small to medium sized cities have a better ratio of pay to cost of living. Par exemple, CB compared to Prague is a dream. I don’t envy friends who live in Prague and the rents they pay or the commutes they have to deal with.

This is literally a can of worms. And so is the VISA process in most countries.

This is literally a can of worms. And so is the VISA process in most countries.

In a nutshell, moving to Germany is a whole other can of wax or ball of worms when you start thinking it out. Finding work, a flat, getting VISAs in another country, it all shaves years off your life. After all that we’ve been through here thinking about going through it again leaves us both a little short of breath. There’s also where I started this whole post: we are really loving where we live now. We have a massive ass place at a fraction of the cost of the smaller Seattle apartment we used to share and we’re right by Germany and Austria and countless other places that are easily enough reached by bus or rail. We both really like our bosses and our landlords are the greatest people on the planet. They bring us more furnishings whenever we need them as well as the occasional cake and just yesterday one of them invited us on a cheapo day trip to Vienna. So if we take the leap to another country, are we falling prey to the “Grass is always greener on the other side” trap? Because let me tell you, the grass here is pretty fucking green.

So yeah, it’s totally a bunch of pansy ass first world problems, I can admit that. But they are problems for us none the less. Do we move back to North America? If so, where to and when? Do we stay in Europe? If so, where and for how long? If we leave Europe we will regret it forever? If we leave CB for somewhere else in Europe will we have it as good?

At some point we will make a tough decision and cross our fingers and toes that it doesn’t lead to a long, regret filled life where each day we cook alive in a personal hell with the crushing realization that we ruined ourselves by making the wrong choice and that no matter what we do, each morning the brimstone oven fueled by our self inflicted misery will fire up anew and the hot suffering will bear down on our minds and hearts even fiercer than the day before.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays!

And now, an old favorite from Kids in the Hall to take us out:

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