I’m new

On day two of the lyrics challenge, I might as well name the Rules that go with the Three day Lyric challenge:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
    I actually wasn’t nominated, but felt free to invite myself to the party, as from Sparks from a Combustible Mind kind of gave me permission to.
  2. Share one of your favorite song/lyrics one at a time for three days.
    On day two I will be sharing Stevie Wonder’s song “I’m new”, which should be a mandatory addition to everyone’s lives.
    Yesterday I wrote about the lyrics of two songs, which (imo) could be seen as two sides of the same story.
    Tomorrow’s post will be about Silence, pero en español.
  3. Nominate three other bloggers each day.
    I will follow in Melanie’s footsteps and skip this rule, partially because I don’t really have a following and partially because I think it’s nicer this way (because it paved the way for me to join in).

So have a listen if you don’t know this Stevie Wonder song already and let the lyrics quench your soul’s thirst like a big glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.

 

Try to envision you as the oldest living someone, being every night and day all alone
Going through ages and ages, places and spaces with never finding that someone to call your own.
Like a treasure chest of dreams long forgotten, hidden for good in a stolen lost and found
But just when fate was calling quits, love appeared in the midst of despair, came and turned your life around
blossom gif
I’m new.
New like the first day of spring
New like a nightingale that’s just learned to sing
I’m new, new like the very start of dawn
Like a child that’s first born with your love.
I’m new.
You’re standing among a crowd of six billion people, crying out for help, but no one understands
‘Cause much to your dismay, you’ve been taken far away to a land where joy is pain and sorrow’s a happy man
Where an aching heart’s the sign of the mighty and a love-filled heart looks down upon with fault and shame
But at the very instant all was through, lady luck appears, says “love can do” and changed you like a Christian who’s been born again
I’m new.dove-fly-gif-jpg
New like the fresh morning dew
New like a work of art that’s finally through
I’m new, new like a first flight of a dove
So safe and secure with your love.
I’m new.
Love took a long time coming to me
But I’ve gotta say I owe my thanks to him for sending you my way.
‘Cause I’m new.
New, like the first winter snow.
Like the start of forever, with infinity to go .
I’m new.heart stripes
New, like the birth of the sun
Forever young I will be, ’cause with your love;
I’m new
New, like from a restful night of sleep
New like a starving man that’s had food to eat
I’m new, nothing compares nor can compete
Sharing with you the sweetness of your love,
I’m new.
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Ode to Louise

Day 1 of my (own twist to the) Three Day Lyric Challenge.

A song my father introduced me to is a song by Leo Kottke about a lady called Louise. Small town gossip said that “she’d act the little girl” but that in reality she was “a deceiver” and that we shouldn’t believe her, because “that’s her trade”.

The song describes how Louise received gifts from men, whose “intentions were easily traced”, insinuating that she was either stunningly beautiful and would lead men on with her appearance, or that perhaps she was even a prostitute who inadvertently had some male “fans”.

Halfway through the song Kottke describes how people thought it “kind of sad” when Louise was found dead in her room. The song paints a picture of a lonely and misunderstood woman who ended up taking her own life.

Kottke bids her farewell at the end of the song with the words “the wind is blowing cold tonight. So goodnight, Louise, goodnight”.

Leo Kottke’s guitar intermezzo is mesmerizing on its own, but with the lyrics he really tells a tragic micro-history. I am not sure when I really started to see the whole image but when I did, I really felt for Louise.

A second song has recently entered my life that has a similar effect on me. After having given it some thought I realized that it is actually the same story, but this time from Louise’ point of view.

The first time I heard the song it stopped me dead in my tracks and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This had to do with the singers vocal range and the pain he put into the song. It was only later that I learned that it is actually a cover of a Nina Simone song, called “When I was a young girl”.

The song, in the version of Marlon Williams, is over six minutes long and can be summed up by the last 4 lines (which he manages to spread out over two heart-wrenching minutes)

When I was a young girl I used to seek pleasure
When I was a young girl I used to drink ale
Out of the ale house and into the jail house
Right out of the bar room down to my doom

Be sure to listen to Nina Simone’s version too, which is beautiful as well (but less haunting).

Whoever this young girl is, all I can say is: I am sorry the world wasn’t kinder to you. Good night, sweet girl, good night.

 

 

 

 

Songs linked to people

A blogpost I came across through WP’s “Discover” section posted on the Village Voice explored the realm of nostalgic songs that stop you in your tracks and catch you off guard with the wave of emotions they can unexpectedly summon.

All though the mentioned blogpost referred specifically to songs that brought up memories of deceased loved ones, the people I refer to in this post are (luckily) all still with me.

Forever tied to my first boyfriend: Last request

lyrics last requestA song that came out in the year I broke up with my very first boyfriend was Paolo Nutini’s Last request. It wasn’t a song or an artist I ever listened to with him or that I think he would enjoy in any way, but for me it’s the absolute summary of how that breakup went.

 

Forever tied to my brother: Speechless

I remember being drawn to tears once when my playlist threw Lady Gaga’s “Speechless” at me while I was cycling to work.Lyrics Speechless

I remember being confused by the sudden rush of emotions and my incapability to stop the tears from rolling down my face. I remember feeling stupid and being annoyed by the blotches my sadness was inevitably decorating my appearance with. I actually don’t remember if anybody noticed though, or if I did anything upon arrival to get my face back to normal…

A lot has happened in the life of my brother since that one day. He is still not completely out of the woods but both him and I have learned a lot since then. He has moved away from that most dangerous ledge he was balancing on and I have learned to love him in a way that is good and healthy for me as well.

Forever tied to my father: Tell her you belong to me

This bitter memory that Beth Hart describes so heartwrenchingly in “Tell her you belong to me” doesn’t apply to me in the same way as it does to her, but it still moves me deeply when I hear this song.

lyrics tell her

The first time I heard it was when she sung it live on a Dutch breakfast radio show and explained that what she describes in this song is the hurt she felt when her father got remarried to a woman Beth could not get along with. The pain she felt when her dad didn’t seem to be choosing her side is so evident and true that I can’t imagine it would leave anybody indifferent.

In my case, the above situation also took place, but with me as a witness and not so much on the receiving end of it all. For me, this song is a conversation that ( I think) never took place between my father and his son(s), but probably should have.

Forever tied to my boyfriend: Fanfarra

My boyfriend is the type of guy that holds his heart on his sleeve and can literally sob over things of beauty. I love this about him and sometimes wish I could be as open as he is.

One of the first times I witnessed such an explosion of emotion in him, was when we were driving through France and Sergio Mendes’ CD was put on.

I was driving so I couldn’t see his face, but through all of the drums and joyous singing I noticed a deafening silence coming from beside me… And when I looked over at him that’s when I saw them; tears. Lots of them.

I remember him saying he hadn’t heard that song before (it’s the opening track on Sergio Mendes’ album Brasileiro) and that it caught him off guard. He’s a percussion player himself, so the drums in the beginning obviously gave him the chills followed up by the joyous singing… I get it. On a rational level.

So yes, this song is forever tied to the tender soul of my bf, G-man.

What are the soundtracks to the story of your life?

 

The benefits of alcohol

I went to a family (in law) get together last weekend. It was the first time I met many of them and I felt quite welcome.

However, looking back on the evening later, I realized there had been several awkward moments and slightly tense exchanges. Everything was resolved quickly, as the general atmosphere was good and there was genuine love present.

civilized wine drinking
…or not.

I came to the conclusion once again that most of the irritated glances and insensitive remarks had one thing at its core: alcohol.

This morning, as I strolled through my news and blog apps, I stumbled upon several alcohol related stories, finally ending up at this one, describing the health benefits of wine.

And I couldn’t help but cringe… No matter how intellectual people get about what “good wine” is and what foods you can (or can’t) combine it with, the conclusion for me is always the same: it is poison.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are situations in which alcohol can be used for good; as a disinfectant for example. I also know alcohol acts as an anticoagulant, which I suppose can be positive for some people. I guess snake venom and plant toxins have been used for medicinal purposes since the beginning of time, so why would alcohol be any different?

The thing is that most articles and blogs I read about the benefits of wine (or other alcoholic beverages), to me, are just sorry attempts of drinkers trying to justify a bad habit. I truly believe more bad comes of it than good and hardly any drinker consumes their poison to a degree that is beneficial to their bodies, let alone their spirit (no pun intended).

coca cola harmless

If I ever were to bring this up at a party (risking acute ostricization or eviction to pariaville) I imagine one of the reactions I would get, would be “That Coca-Cola you are drinking isn’t exactly good for you either”, which would absolutely be true.

I was going to say that drinking Coca-Cola may harm my health but at least it doesn’t turn me into a shitty person, but I guess diabetes can make you kind of moody too, so I’ll have to rethink that one…

But you catch my drift. Alcohol is not cool. It’s not good for your body, your self-esteem or the general atmosphere in the room, and I think you know it too.

 

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.

Another discussion the Dutch are failing at

As I was watching TV just now, switching from channel to channel like a 21st century zombie, I came across the following commercial:

It’s a public announcement from the Dutch 4th & 5th of May-committee, that starts out by reminding us we had lost our freedom during 5 years of World War II. The voice over continues by saying that since then, we have passed freedom on from one generation to the next. It’s something that should not be taken for granted and something we are responsible for, together. She finishes off by telling us that on the 4th of May we will be remembering the victims and that on the 5th we will celebrating our freedom. Her final question is: “How will you pass our freedom on?”.

It was only three weeks ago that I wrote about the Dutch national remembrance and celebration day, and the confused guilt trip I have been going through in the wake of it. But while I was watching the above commercial I felt I hadn’t said all I needed to say.

You see, as so many other places in the world, Dutch society is no longer succeeding at hiding it’s true (pretty racist) colors. Some of you may have heard of the discussion we’ve been trying to have about our family friend, “Black Pete”. If it rings no bells, feel free to read an old  blogpost of mine about it.

zwarte pieten en sinterklaas

Some of the same people that are trying to ban Black Pete from the Dutch celebration of Saint Nicholas, have been trying to ask for a more equal representation during the May 4th remembrance.

The point they have been trying to make has to do with a lot of things, but the one they have been speaking about most is the role of the Dutch army during the Indonesian National Revolution, which took place between Indonesia’s declaration of independence in 1945 and the Dutch recognition of its independence at the end of 1949.

During the two minutes of silence that we hold at 8PM every year, we remember all victims of WWII during the first minute and victims of other wars in the second minute. According to the protesters, we only focus on “white victims” and choose to ignore the victims in Indonesia, for which the Dutch conscience is not completely clean.

remembrance king

A couple of weeks ago, this group of protesters announced they would disturb the two minutes of silence with a noise-demonstration to bring attention to their cause.

Politicians have tried being civil, saying: “If you are protesting to demand respect, you shouldn’t start out by disrespecting others. There is a time and place to discuss and demonstrate, but this isn’t it.”

Just like with the Black Pete discussion though, there was a small window of opportunity for society to defuse the bomb before it went off. You see, the right reaction to a person telling you that you hurt them with something you did (or didn’t do), in my opinion, is: “Really??? I made you feel that way? I had no idea and I am so sorry! Please, join me at my table. Let’s talk.”

I know, I’m naive that way…

FB frames

But I’m seeing friends on Facebook (yepp, I’m still there) putting frames on their profile pictures showing the Dutch flag and stating “I will be silent for 2 minutes”.

For most, it’s probably just a well-intentioned attempt to pay their respects to the dead. It bothers me though, because it’s so much beside the point that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

The noise-demonstration is not a protest against being quiet. It is a protest against being ignored, marginalized and disrespected. The fact that you don’t understand why they feel this way, doesn’t make it less right. It just makes you ignorant.

So in their stupor of petrified ignorance my fellow countrymen are only achieving one thing: proving the protesters right.

Jaar van Verzet

Ironically, this year’s theme is “resistance” so we are all being encouraged to stand up for what we believe is right. I think the people that came up with the idea were hoping we would be standing together AGAINST racism, though…  wupps.