Like every good thing in life, holidays have a start and also an end. I regret nothing.
The only thing I planned to do during my one-week holidays was stay away from news. I’m proud and happy to report that I had an almost 100% success rate, the only exceptions being when I opened my inbox so I could shovel out the junk accumulating there to spare myself a lot more shoveling tomorrow. But I never clicked on a headline.
The effect of this strict information hygiene regimen has been fast and powerful. Some time around Wednesday I started to notice I wasn’t as jumpy as before. I could browse Twitter and Facebook and not get annoyed by the most glaring manifestations of utter stupidity. By Friday, I was able to even laugh at them.
The obvious and unsurprising conclusion was that taking a break from current events can do wonders for your mental health. Regrettably, I know that too many people are addicted to news the way I’m addicted to nicotine and will probably be unable to undertake such an experiment despite the benefits. But maybe it’s worth a try. I mean, if I could go a few days without nicotine, and I have, then maybe you could go a few days without news. It’s amazing what you can discover when you do this.
Life in the big city
… is as crappy as ever. The heat is always worse in the city because of all the concrete and while I will admit that today specifically there’s a nice cool wind, the fact remains that the one thing arguably worse in the city than winter is summer.
We had to come back for a few days to do a couple of things that require our physical presence but we’re beating it as soon as we’re done because I’ve only been here for less than 24 hours and I already feel constricted. Talk about acquiring new habits such as being able to wake up and go out in the garden to see the sunrise.
Okay, so there is a kind of a garden behind our building but it’s not the same since the sky is not completely visible for reasons of many other buildings. Plus I’d have to walk down three floors if I wanted to see the sky lighten here. Better watch it from a balcony. So not the same.
Also, we’ve had the pleasure of reuniting with that most precious of summer sounds: a neighbour doing repairs in their flat. Ah, the buzz of whatever that machine is called that cuts tiles. Oh, the rumble of that other machine that crushes the old tiles. Hooray for the good old hammer and nails that sound like a bloody oil drill* when they reach you amplified by all the brickwork from the other end of the building. Also, dogs’ barks and bird songs sound like the animals are producing them in an echo chamber, probably because of all the buildings around.
And life in the country
Speaking of animals we had an interesting night last week. There’s always a dog barking somewhere in the village and they all start barking when the jackals come down from the mountain in search for food (grapes are not done yet, guys, give them another month**) but that night it was just one dog. Which I will catch.
It started yapping about two in the morning — a small, frantic, angry yapping that went on and on, and on, and on, beyond any reasonable limit. My problem was that I’d misplaced my ear plugs and I was too desperate for sleep to turn on the light and start looking for them. So I used my headphones to block the noise.
Unfortunately, they tend to fall out when I fall asleep and move, so I was unprotected for the second act of that night performance, which this time featured a cat. A tomcat, to be precise. A tomcat that had chosen our garden over all others for his serenade. I could have told him he was making a mistake: Big C can’t stand cat serenades. He responds to them swiftly and vulgarly. Which is what happened that night, robbing us both of more sleep.
The cherry in this noise cake arrived at dawn, when a bird started making sounds like nylon being crumpled by a big hand. You know nylon? That plastic sheet that crunches when you crumple it? Yeah, that sound. It was a dialogue, really: one bird chirruped in a normal bird way and the second one responded with that sound. No idea what they were discussing but I wanted to get out there and strangle nylon bird. Or better yet, catch it, wait until it falls asleep and start crumpling nylon by its head, see how it feels.
Other than my noise woes it’s been a pretty good week. I did a lot of writing and, as I boasted in a previous post, some querying, too. It’s now time to get back in the saddle and see what the world has been up to while I wasn’t watching. Nothing good, I’m sure.
*I’ve actually no idea how noisy an oil drill is but it must be noisy since it’s a drill.
** Yes, jackals eat grapes, straight off the vine.