Unto the breach

nytimes comment

First thing I did this morning was respond to a NYT editorial, and they published my comment. You can read it here.

gouna

Only three days left before I move my stuff out of here. I shall miss this place, despite its many faults, which I have documented in many, many prior posts.

gouna cat

I shall miss Sandy, who today decided she wanted to spend time with her Daddy in the house or on the back porch all day. It’s as if she knows something’s up, and when I go catch the bus at the front gate nowadays, she awaits anxiously, and is always there by the gate when I return, having waited hours for me to come back.

And this is a cat I shall abandon in 4 days.

gouna cat

Should I take her with me to the new place?  No. This is where she belongs, and I would only leave her again in a month’s time, when I return to America.

I’ll give the pool guy some money, and a bag of cat food, and tell him to fill Sandy’s bowl while I am gone, until one of this villa’s owner arrives on the 17th.

I look forward to moving to the new place.  There is more wind there (thus less bugs, presumably), and easier proximity to Abu Tig Marina and downtown, without having to rely on Gouna’s creaky old shuttle buses, with their over-talkative drivers. Maybe, also, there won’t be any Italians coming every weekend next door, or overly intrusive maintenance people, who love to linger on the street by this house, living their days in an unfree state of incessant sai’di conversations.

They say you are not a true expat unless you leave your country for a long period of time. I have been in Egypt for 6 months. Does that qualify?

Of course not.

Then again, how can I be an expat if I have merely returned to the country where I grew up?

I have kept this blog going to document what it’s actually like to leave the United States of America as a direct result of the November 2016 election.

It was a form of protest, yes, but also, more pointedly: a derisive refusal to continue to live in FLA amidst the unspeakably vile.

When I was in High School, I wrote a crappy short story called Kindred Asunder that I submitted in my Creative Writing class.

That was a very long time ago.

It looks like not much has changed; I was already on to this shit at 17, but had no answer to the implicit question: what do you do when there is no reconciliation possible; when it’s not that a divorce is needed; but there was never any true union in the first place?

It is obvious something is going to have to give. Something major, perhaps even catastrophic.

What is the thinking man or woman to do?

Well, instead of being consumed by impotent rage, and making the mistake of saying stupid inflammatory things, or worse, going postal, the true expat will retire to a walled garden, enjoy his mahshi, and keep an eye on the vulgarians from a safe distance.

Is that a cop out?

Absolutely.

The key to be a successful expat is not to stay in one place too long; never trust anyone; be honest without oversharing; have a valid Western passport; never get involved in local political discussions; and always have enough in the bank to keep the gig going.

If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that there are people who are prepared to go as radical as necessary to control the outcome of things.

If you are thinking about becoming an expat, is that your fight?

Or do you cede ground to the rabid con artists and true believers and move on?

Well, that is the Gouna way, from what I have observed after living here for six months.

The only thing is, what happens if and when you’re cornered? When you run out of countries, or money, or room to breathe, and the so-called “populist”/fascisto walls close in on you everywhere you go? What happens when the orange grenade is about to blow your precious, little feathered world to smithereens?

What do you do then?

What do you do when the visigoths finally breach your lovely Epicurean walled garden?

Who is going to save your ass?

You?

leaving america

The Exploding Brain

Consider the culinary.

My wife and I had lunch here yesterday

If you are planning to leave America, and lead a hedonistic lifestyle in a place like Gouna, you might think to yourself that you are being irresponsible.

Should you not be doing more to save the world?

Relax.

As an Epicurean, you don’t have to sweat such trifles.

For you have arrived at a stage of life where your goal is to achieve true happiness.

There is little you can actually do to prevent or even materially reduce the general misery that is so prevalent in the world: the best you can hope for is to remove misery from your own life.

A quote from one of my favorites books might be useful here:

“… grasping the way things really are is the crucial step toward the possibility of happiness.”

It’s not the indolent life that is sought by the Epicurean; rather, it’s the stripping away of all that is non-essential to happiness.

This means seeing through things such as avarice, jealousy, overweening ambition, and the desire to dominate others.

It means wanting very little for oneself except a calm life, far away from the din of the hordes of anxious believers, though there is nothing wrong with enjoying what life has to offer, such as the meal shown in these pictures.

Happiness means that if you had only 6 minutes left to live, that you would be perfectly content sitting completely still for 5:59, without any illusions, but also without any fear of what lies ahead, since as an Epicurean, you already know that when your élan vitale is snuffed out at the 6 minute mark, you will no longer care about anything.

Unless your brain perchance has pre-exploded.