Mind Cleanup – “now” vs “before”

There is always one “Mind Cleanup” entry sitting in my drafts folder, where I can dump quick words, quotes and links that I might want to write about later.

What usually happens is that days and weeks go by without me having time or mental space to write. That “now is the moment” feeling seems to be more difficult to find than “before”. I haven’t really pinpointed the exact cause of this or when it changed exactly.

Let’s analyze this right here and now, shall we?

What was different “before”?

  • If I count the amount of blogs I have written over the years I see that 2015 was my most fruitful year, boosted by a Blaugust challenge on the one side and the shock attacks in Paris on the other, followed by the rise of Daesh as a political and cultural phenomenon. It was also the year I started my current job.
  • 2016 was the year I volunteered at the Roskilde Festival for the first time. In November of 2016 my boyfriend and I moved in together. November was also the month the Agent Orange was elected president of the USA.
  • 2017 was a continuation of 2016; dealing with the POTUS situation, finding my feet in my new casa and volunteering at Roskilde Festival again (and writing a ton of stuff about that here).
mirror
Let’s reflect

Wow, that little walk down memory lane actually really cleared things up for me.

The reason 2015 was a very good blog year is because I had just come out of a job that had filled my system with pent up frustration, that I was finally able to vent when I left. I know that anger has always been the best fuel for my writing flow. The Daesh attacks added to the momentum as society around me reacted in all the wrong ways to the traumatic events in Paris and the growing threat in the region.

The US presidential race in 2016 and the resulting election of the Drumpf, was a deflating experience. I think I am still coming to grips with the reality of the situation and haven’t regained my blogging mojo since. It may sound like a sorry excuse, blaming the POTUS for my writer’s block, but it makes total sense to me and I think I’m going to stick with it.

An additional factor is my current living situation. I love my boyfriend and I love the house we have together. The one thing I am NOT happy about in our new house is the placement of my desk. It’s too dark and my desk is a bit too small. This has caused me to spend less time on the web with less chance to get inspired by random stories to spin into blogs.

It’s an easy fix, really. All I have to do is move some furniture around, right? Ah, but you haven’t taken into account the lazy-fart-factor! Also, I don’t think I have really admitted how much the desk situation really bothers me until now…

So, the rest of this blog consists of random words and themes that I once jotted down to maybe address in a future mind-cleanup-blog. All though a lot of it has gotten old or is still way too complicated for my current brainspace I have decided to just share them with you, without any further editing:

Newsy Stuff

emoji reading newspaper-smiley

  • Bizarre wildfires in Greece, locals blame authorities
    •  Why would you want to find someone to blame for this?
  • Nicaragua riots!
    • Will Ortega allow history to depict him as a brutal dictator, like the one he once fought to replace?
  • Stef Blok – Dutch minister of foreign affairs and royal ass-wipe
    • Made “insensitive remarks” earlier this year and somehow didn’t lose his job
    • Worst part: I think he doesn’t even realize how much harm he can do with casually calling Suriname a “failed state” and ruling out the possibility of different ethnicities ever living together in peace.
    • Shame is what I feel. Another win for the racists and bigots.
  • Zwarte Piet discussion in the Netherlands
    • exhausting discussion, but I will not back down for my opinion.
    • I am losing friends over my anti-Black Pete stance (or Facebook friends… not really friends, I guess)
    • It’s an open wound in our society and it’s starting to fester. I say; chop off the limb and be done with it!
  • Kavanaugh debacle
    • Typical frat boy in a grown up body.
    • What I hate most about him (and his kind):  the aura of entitlement.
    • Ridiculous TV trial.
    • Feels like the nail in the coffin of US credibility.
  • Brazil elections
    • What’s up with this twisted fascination / longing that Latin America has for dictatorial type leaders?

Music

emoji music

Music I’m into right now:

 

Greeting St Peter

People who died over the last few months and have made the world a little less beautiful because of it:

  • Tante Djirah
    • my great-aunt. And great she was. Pure goodness.
    • Love her and miss her!
  • Aretha Franklin
    • RESPECT.
  • Kofi Anan
    • I grew up with him at the head of the UN.
    • He was a symbol of eloquence and thoughtfulness.
    • Seeing and hearing him speak reaffirms my belief that political correctness is a virtue and is never synonymous to dishonesty.

 

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“The sound of silence” en español

Ahhh, there’s a real chance this song may annoy the hell out of me in a couple of weeks because I’ve been listening to it quite obsessively and for this blogpost I will be dissecting and translating it, which isn’t always beneficial for one’s relationship to a song.

But here we go; the song is by the incredibly talented Jorge Drexler and is called “Silencio”.

The lyrics are really very simple, as is the song as a whole. As a matter of fact, I think this song would be super nice to use in a Beginner’s Spanish course!

So, press play above, and read (or sing) along with the lyrics below.
Todo el mundo intentando venderte algo
The whole world is trying to sell you something

Intentando comprarte
They’re trying to buy you

Queriendo meterte en su melodrama
Trying to pull you into their melodrama

Su karma, su cama, su salto a la fama
into their karma, their bed, their leap into fame

Su breve momento de gloria
their brief moment of glory

Sus dos megas de memoria
their two megabytes of memory

Subirte a su nube
They try to upload you to their cloud

Como un precio que sube
like a prize that rises

Para luego exhibirte
so they can expose you

Como un estandarte
as if you were a banner

No encuentro nada más valioso que darte…
I can’t think if anything more valuable to give you…

…nada más elegante…
…nothing more elegant…

…que este instante...
…than this instant…

…de silencio.
…of silence.

Silencio
Silence

El índice vertical entre la boca y la nariz
the raised index finger, between the mouth and the nose

El eco en la catedral
the echo in the cathedral

La brisa en la enredadera
the breeze in the ivies

Entremos en el sonido hasta el penúltimo matiz
let’s enter into the sound until the penultimate shade

Hagámosle caso al gesto de la foto de la enfermera
let’s follow the gesture of the photo of the nurse

Y cuando el ruido vuelva a saturar la antena
and when the noise returns to saturate the antenna

Y una sirena rompa la noche, inclemente
and a siren rudely breaks the night

No encontraremos nada más pertinente
we can’t think of anything more relevant…

…que decirle a la mente…
…to tell the mind…

 

“Detente!
“Stop!”

[Hook]

Bésame ahora
Kiss me now

Antes que diga algo completamente inadecuado
Before I say something completely inadequate

No hay que desperdiciar una buena ocasión
We shouldn’t waste a good occasion

De quedarse callado
to remain silent

[Hook]

Y cuando el ruido vuelva a saturar la antena
and when the noise returns to saturate the antenna

Y una sirena rompa la noche, inclemente
and a siren rudely breaks the night

No encontraremos nada más pertinente
we can’t think of anything more relevant…

…que decirle a la mente…
…to tell the mind…

 

“Detente!
“Stop!”

 

 

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.

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?

 

Firing up my soul force

You know how festive days such as mother’s day and valentine’s day always get responses along the lines of “What’s the point of being nice to your mother / lover once a year? It should be done each and every day or not at all.”?

All though a tad cynical, these people are right, in a way. So are the people that say that emphasizing or reinforcing their love on this given day is an important reminder to not take such a beautiful thing for granted.

A national holiday we have in the Netherlands and that I write a blog about almost every year (see here and here) is our World War II remembrance day (4th of May), followed by Liberation Day (5th of May).

All though I have always payed my respects (two minutes of silence at 8PM) and always did my best to celebrate my freedom consciously, I must admit that lately, I feel like the previously mentioned cynics when it comes to remembrance day…

Every year I make an effort to ask my friends and co-workers what they will do when the clock hits 8 PM on the 4th of May. I always try to remind them that it is not just 2 minutes of “having to be quiet” but that these 2 minutes can be used to explore our own thoughts on the current state of the world and honor those who have died for the freedom we now so easily take for granted.

quote wars Enoch Powell

I always feel fired up and ready to act after liberation day. And then… NOTHING. Maybe I write a blog about my white privilege and dive into a couple of Facebook discussions and call my friends out on their inherent racism… But that’s it.

I feel icky just admitting that. I feel useless and I feel hypocritical. If only the world wasn’t collapsing under the weight of all the racism, bigotry and hate mongering, then I could act as if my help wasn’t needed.

But it is, and so is yours.

It seems the Dutch committee for 4th and 5th of May celebrations agrees that we all need a kick up the ass, and therefore decided the theme of this year’s WWII remembrance should be RESISTANCE. Even more, it has been decided it should be the theme of the whole 2018 calendar year…

Museums are adapting their exhibitions to this year’s theme and special education series are being compiled at schools, where WWII veterans and war heroes are stopping by to tell their stories.

I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence, but the Dutch year of resistance happens to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. The exact date of his murder was the 4th of April and on this day last week I watched the movie Selma.

The general story line and historical context were not new to me, as I hope it isn’t for anyone else. The film did however contribute to a better understanding on my side about what resistance entails.

It requires courage. It requires perseverance. It requires not taking “no” (or “wait” or “I can’t” or “It’s too hard”) for an answer. It requires caring more about the cause than your own well being.

As Dr King said in his legendary “I have a dream”-speech (which does not feature in the film, btw):

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

So yes; SOUL FORCE!! And now that I come to think about it, I actually wrote a blog about it just last week, only in the version of super woman Valarie Kaur. She didn’t call it Soul Force though. She called it revolutionary love.

And then former American president Jimmy Carter showed up at Stephen Colbert’s late show. Such a sweet and wise man; I had no idea! He reminded me of the willpower it takes to love those that seem undeserving of that love but the importance of doing it anyhow.

It seems my generation’s greatest purpose in life is to achieve inner peace or “zen” or a perpetual state of “Netflix & chill”. These are actually all thing I excel at, but I suddenly realize that being relaxed is making me complacent and -oh the horror-, indifferent.

I need to refuel my inner rage and channel it into something productive and less egocentrical.

Pff… I think I’ve even written about this before… What do I do to get out of this cycle?

I need to start planning some field trips.

Goals for the month of May:

  • Visit at least one exhibition, museum or lecture that fits the “resistance” theme.
  • Make a grumpy looking stranger smile.
  • Think of a good present for my bf’s birthday.
  • Bake a cake and eat it too, but with friends (especially the undeserving ones?). Or maybe it should be humble pie.

To be continued!

In the Lyme light

A very close friend of mine has been battling chronic Lyme disease for five years now and even though I have always tried to be supportive, I am only just starting to understand her struggle.

In May of 2017 I accompanied her to a national awareness event, focused on Chronic Lyme disease, called So Strong. It was incredible, in every sense of the word. It’s hard to believe how much is still unknown.

What do you do when you are certain there is something very wrong inside you but doctors tell you it’s all in your mind?

What do you do when you finally receive a diagnosis that makes sense but also reveals there is a big chance you will never truly recover?

My dear friend broke down in tears when Jesse Ruben climbed the stage and played this song:

It helped her, the way crying sometimes does, and it helped me, the way a slap in the face sometimes does, I suppose…

So when we heard there would be a sponsor event the following year, to raise awareness and collect money for the treatment of Lyme patients, we agreed we should put a team together.

Fast forward to 2018 and here we are! I will be running to collect money and invite you to sponsor me and help my good friend Anneke to get better, as the chronic form of Lyme’s disease is still not fully recognized in regular medicine and therefore neither are the treatments she needs.

If you would like to contribute; here is the link to the sponsor event’s website. I’m afraid it’s all in Dutch, so feel free to contact me via the Facebook page if you need help navigating the website.