Mind Cleanup

We are nearing the year’s halfway-point, which is a good time to take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture that is coming to life. We are the painters. What are we creating?

emoji reading newspaper-smiley

Thanks for the coffee, Yemen.

Amsterdam will be hosting the biggest coffee convention, World of Coffee, later this month. According to some accounts, coffee’s origins lie in Yemen. As one of the most troubled (to put it mildly) countries in the world, many western countries (including the Netherlands) provide Yemen with aid in all sorts of ways.

Earlier this week, an article in Dutch newspaper het Parool was brought to my attention that described the troublesome trip that Yemeni coffee farmers had made to the embassy in Jordan, in order to be able to attend the coffee convention. Representing their country and their coffee at such an international event, would not only boost their confidence but perhaps also the production and trade in Yemen. Sadly their visitor’s visa were denied by Dutch authorities. So much for lending a helping hand…

A similar feeling of disappointment and frustration was shared and described well by fellow blogger Glenn Redus in his post When hopeless people keep fighting.

Society of shame through loyalty

Another article from the same newspaper brought me new insights on intercultural communication and how different people from different cultures react to guilt.

The article describes how a child that breaks something in kindergarten is asked “Did you do this” and if the child answers with yes, it is rewarded by not being punished and receives praise for being honest. When the same child applies the lesson from kindergarten at home, a parent from a different culture may expect a different reaction from their child. When a child looks a parent in the face and says “Yes, I broke the vase”, this may be interpreted as shameless, causing the punishment to be more severe instead of less. The “right way” to admit guilt would then perhaps be to lower your head and say nothing… The article proceeds to explain why these are valuable lessons for law enforcers and social workers. It was an angle I had never thought of.

Body language

#worldpeace #bodylanguage #faketan #USA #answeringquestions #smileandwave #dumbblonde

If you had only the hashtags above to go on, what would you think we would be talking about?

I just realized they would apply to the Miss America competition as much as they do to the G7 summit. Adding the “dumb blonde”-hashtag may even refer more to the Drumpf than to any Miss America contestant…

The news about the exclusion of the swimsuit round from future miss America competitions has surely reached most of you..? I don’t think anyone really understands what the point of this decision was but it sure did cause a commotion.

And to summarize the G7 summit (or the G6 + 1 summit, as some have been calling it), all you really need is the legendary picture below.

donald-trump-angela-merkel-g7-summit

mirror

My parents stayed at my place for four days, which was plenty… We had all sorts of constructive and enlightening conversations that will need some following up on at a later stage.

An interesting conversation I had with my dad, was about his brother and sister. My dad was telling me he felt he needed to reach out to them, as they had all dealt with their own personal health issues and he wanted to let them know that he cared. He admitted he was a bit hesitant to do so, as my uncle always “claims to know more than his doctors” and “refuses to follow their advice or take the pills he has been prescribed”. The irony of the fact that this is pretty much a summary of himself, was lost on him at first. When laughingly, I told my boyfriend about this conversation, he said “it’s always the traits you recognize in yourself that annoy you the most”.

I’ve been trying to apply that hypothesis on myself the last few days. There are many things, particularly about my parents that drive me completely up the wall. Which traits of my own am I secretly recognizing in them…? I haven’t figured it out yet, to be honest. Perhaps it’ll resurface in a future mind cleanup.

Yesterday, I made a really simple but surprisingly yummy bulgur-based tabouleh salad, with the ingredients below.

170 bulgur

1 bell pepper

1 red onion

fresh mint

fresh coriander / cilantro

Fresh parsley


Lettuce mix

Gyros pork strips (optional)

You basically just prepare the bulgur, according to instructions on the packet, fry the pork strips (if you choose to include them) and mix all the other ingredients (chopped up, of course) together and voila! A wonderful meal, that I encourage to make “too much” of, as the leftovers make a great take-to-work lunch.

Wow, I just posted a recipe on my blog… Never thought that would happen… LOL.

Unnecessarily blessed

These thoughts were prompted by Pernille Ripp’s blog about her once-in-a-lifetime experience of flying first class on an intercontinental flight. It reminded her how some people are “given more because [they] had more to begin with”. And it’s true.

growing up woman

As we say in Dutch, “I’ve always held up my own pants”, which means I have always taken care of myself. Having said that, I do live in a country where I had the chance to go to University for a relatively low fee (all though it still hurts) and was able to do so during a time that “the state” still provided students with a small monthly allowance, so that did make a big difference.

All though I always worked during my years as a student, I did have quite a secure safety net, knowing that my parents would have my back if anything went wrong.

I was lucky with the student dorm I had, which was relatively cheap and run by a very reliable housing association. Renting from this association, gave me the possibility to move into a lovely apartment (at a fair and affordable rent) after I finished studying for another couple of years, as I figured out what I was going to do with my life.

A few years later I moved into my current home with my boyfriend, G, that we do pay quite a hefty sum for, but nothing out of the ordinary for the city we live in (but ridiculous really, if you compare it to a comparable house in a different area of the country). We can afford it and still live quite comfortably.

house owner

And now, by no merit of my own whatsoever, I may soon be a living in a house of my own. I mean, an actual house, owned by me (and G).

This “situation” has undeniably sent my score on the scale of privilege soaring through the roof, all though I am still struggling to refer to it as a “blessing”, as many seem to do.

People keep telling me there are several reasons why I should want a house of my own:

  • Renting a house sends your money into the pockets of strangers, whereas owning a house sends your money “into the structure” of the thing you own (and therefore back into your own pockets).
  • It’s an investment for “later”.
  • It gives you stability and a “sense of place”, as you build a home and become part of a neighborhood community.
  • The monthly payments of a mortgage are usually lower than the rent.

This last point is usually the one people throw at me first, but because it bugs me the most, I put it last.

And the part I really really really hate, is the part where I have to admit that someone is giving me money (like I said, no merit of my own), making it possible for me to, not only have a house of my own but also pay EVEN LESS than I already do.

And I’m doing just fine! I don’t NEED a lower monthly payment. I can think of so many people that would benefit from this possibility so much more than me.

privilege ladder

Such a sucky system.

And all I can do is say what; Thank you?

I really should be grateful.

And I am.

It’s just…

unjust.