The New Ascetic

Wine glass and laptop on floor of empty apartment

In April of last year, we—that is, my wife and I, our three children, and (at that time) two cats—relocated to Amsterdam. And, in April of this year, we decided to move back to the UK.

One would think that an undertaking of this scale would take some time to plan; but, due to a cock-up on the part of the removal company and my wife’s mad packing skills, we managed to get it all done in less than a week. So now my wife, three children, and cat are back in the UK, together with all of our furniture and possessions. And I am still here.

For the last six weeks I have been living an altogether spartan lifestyle in an almost completely empty three-bedroomed apartment in Amsterdam. Life is pretty basic when all you have is a chair and a laptop. Wake up. Watch TV on laptop. Go to work. Come home. Make dinner. Sit in chair. Watch web series on laptop. Go to bed. Watch film on laptop. Repeat. As an experience though, it’s not been as bad as I thought it might turn out; I miss my wife and kids, of course, but the opportunity to watch or listen to whatever I want without interruption has not been unenjoyable. I’ve found myself watching a lot of short-form video, just long enough to eat a meal; the TED talks are a good length for this, although there are so many now that the gems can only be found through the “you should watch this” filter of friends’ recommendations. I’ve also enjoyed the various weekly Geek & Sundry podcasts that Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton and others produce on a regular basis. In particular I can recommend Susan Cain on The Power of Introverts, and Felicia Day playing Sega Bass Tournament is hilarious.

I’ve also taken the opportunity to fill in some of the blank spots in my film ‘to watch’ list that didn’t interest my wife: in the last few weeks I’ve watched Eyes Wide Shut, Tree of Life, Serenity and Showgirls, to name but a few. I also finally got around to watching Firefly and some of Dollhouse in one Whedon-powered week—sadly I ran out of free time before watching the entire Buffy series.

And now, I’m leaving too. Just a few last tasks to take care of. Apparently UPC—the Dutch cable TV and internet company—want their equipment back when you cancel a contract, so that’s one unexpected trip for tomorrow evening; and I’m still not completely sure I’ve cancelled everything I need to cancel, post-wise. One last chance when I come back next week for the final inspection with the landlord, then our ties are forever cut. Back to the Fens we go.

One thought on “The New Ascetic

  1. Love the line “has not been unenjoyable”. With just one kid I sneak in mornings & feel lord of my time.

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