I wish my name was PAT, I could make lots of jokes about being Pat the Ex-Pat, because that's what every inhabitant of this floating universe called expatriate community is: a permanent EX.
You've left several identities behind, several jobs, countless unfinished tasks, languages you were just about beginning to master, they all belong to the past.
Like Jennifer Aniston, the permanent ex.
Another affliction I have come to recognise with some concern is the expats' addiction to change. The need for stability is the yin but the craving for more novelty is the yang.
So I have got that awful beast called German Language under my belt now, went back to my profession fighting my way up with my teeth and fingernails, proved to the world I hadn't lost the career train, though the world couldn't have cared less, it was just my ego. And am now realising with some dismay that it all now stands on the verge of being throw behind me. Done that, what's next?
This is one of those magical days in which the kids are both coming home quite late, and I find myself with a plan-less stretch of hours ahead of me, that my restless mind will soon fill with stormy thoughts like the sky in a Van Gogh painting.
In such circumstances I have a double-I technique of meditation: watching TED lectures on my I-pad while I I-ron. And then I decide that it is indeed time for change, because these TED people really do spark my fire, I want to be an activist, kick some ass, change the world.
Then this old joke pops up into my mind.
There is a little monkey filing her fingernails in the jungle. The giraffe comes by and asks her: what are you doing little monkey? And the little monkey says: I am filing my fingernails, so when the big mean lion comes by, I will kick his ass. Then the zebra comes by and asks the little monkey: what are you doing, little monkey? And she replies: I am filing my fingernails, so when the big mean lion comes by, I will kick his ass. Then a beautiful tucano flies by and asks the little monkey what she is doing, and she says: I am filing my fingernails so that when the big mean lion comes by, I will kick his ass.
And then the big mean lion comes by and asks her: what are you doing, little monkey? And the little monkey replies:
OH, NOTHING MUCH, FILING MY FINGERNAILS, TALKING SHIT.
(the Italian expression for talking shit is "sparare cazzate" which literally translates into "I am shooting out some bullshit". Ma niente, mi limo le unghie, sparo cazzate.)
Oggi non traduco, I-ron waiting.