Mind Cleanup – March 2016

Epiphanies

  • I need to stop telling people in “the real world” about my blog...
  • … or I need to own up to my thoughts and opinions and face the music when stuff I write here reach the eyes and ears of people I know.Oh-hi-gif
  • (Hi friends and co-workers!)

mirrorSelf-reflection

  • cuddle donkeys.jpgJust like everyone else, I need oxygen to live. I also need water and nutrients. And chocolate. Pretty straight forward stuff. However, I can also run out of animal love. I found this out last weekend, when I visited the petting zoo (don’t start, I live in the city, I need to get my furry fix somewhere…). I felt so replenished after having cuddled with a donkey that I realized I had run out weeks ago and only now felt complete again.

emoji happyUppers – Cowabunga

  • Donkeys.donkey.jpg
  • I got a new bike after my previous one was stolen (again!). Thx Zeefje!

emoji disappointedDowners – Bummerama

  • Caitlyn supports Trump… Now this really got me fired up. This is some new level donkey droppings. WHY is this even on TV?! And why do I know about it? Argh… I don’t know where to start but my dog, it really truly deeply annoys me…

emoji SeeNoEvilDenial

  • When I was walking home on the 24th and saw many government buildings in The Hague had flags hanging at half mast, I decided that we had instated a national day of mourning in memory of Johan Cruyff, and decided to act as if terrorists didn’t exist.

emoji musicMusic

  • My dad bought Coldplay’s latest CD for my mom… which confused me… and surprised me in a pleasant way…
  • I’m going to see Beth Hart in June!

emoji film.jpgMovies

  • New Indiana Jones in the making. O.o
    (don’t want to get excited, but most of all don’t want it to suck. Still kind of hoping it’s an April fool’s joke…)
  • Deadpool: Very funny. Pretty brutal. Go watch!
  • I re-watched Frozen, after having expressed my dislike for this film a couple of times, which is apparently “not done”. Friends told me I probably didn’t like it because I didn’t really get it the first time. I needed to watch it again. So I did.
    • My summary of the movie before re-watch:
      It’s about anxiety, poor communication and anti-social behavior
    • How people summarized it to me:
      It’s about love, self-worth and letting go of fear.
    • My summary of the movie after re-watch:
      It’s about bad parental advice, bad judgment and poor communication, with a small bit about love and family at the end.
    • What would have made me like it more:
      • Explain the origin of the trolls.
      • Better understanding of why the troll-king found it necessary to remove all memory of magic from Anna’s mind… Really don’t see the use in that.
      • Explain the origin (and use) of the ice-magic gift/burden
      • Leave out the Olav-song and the troll-wedding-song
      • Explain Kristoff’s background. Did he just leave his parents because some rock troll decided to keep him? Or was he actually an orphan? Where are his folks?
      • Make Sven more reindeerlike. Why does he have to pant like a dog?

I still don’t like hearing kids sing “Let it go”. It’s not a healthy song. It’s a frustrated angry song. It’s an “up yours”, a “fuck you all” an “I don’t care” in a fancy dress. Elsa is not a likeable person.

Hakuna_Matata

It made me think about Hakuna Matata and I wondered if that isn’t also a “fuck you all”-song. I don’t think it is. I think the final effect might be the same; which is doing whatever the hell you want, but Hakuna Matata is not an angry song. It has a “Don’t worry, be happy”-message, that might have irresponsible and anti-social behavior as a side effect, but not as a goal.

look-downLooky here

This new mind cleanup category will be where I will dump tidbits that I saw or read over the past month and that I want to share with the world:

emoji paellaEpicureous

  • I have been going through an avocado craze phase in my diet. I found a small fruit and vegetable store near my house that sells ultra ripe and yummy ones, which has spiked my avocado intake by 2681%. I have come to the conclusion that eating more than half an avocado a day makes me feel bloated though. Kind of interesting, kind of a bummer.

 

emoji hourglassEpilogue – What’s up, April?

  • I have a week off in the first week of April. Still no plans. Looking forward to it, though!

Two kinds of people

I ran into this tumblr page the other day that made me go: “YES, I am totally THAT person!” several times. There are many more images on the original page but I chose a couple that speak to me, personally.

Let’s agree to refer to the images on the left as person A and the image on the right as person B, OK?

For example, this image below…. Man, it triggers so many feelings….Anyone care to admit they are person B?

I doubt anyone will, because the people that have these issues are completely blind to the terror of the toolbar. I can’t begin to explain how much I hate these things… So yes, I am totally utterly a person A in this case. My mom and dad? B’s all the way, despite my advices…

two kinds of people 8

Another webpage related one is this one below. I think I am a bit of both but mostly A. I sometimes have one or two browser windows open and several tabs in each. Both windows would preferably have different themes, obviously (ie one work-related, one with private-matters). 😛

two kinds of people 5

This is the last computer-themed one, and I try to be person B as much as I can here. I rename all my downloads to something comprehensible and try to order them in logically named files and everything. As little as possible on my desktop itself, if I can help it.

two kinds of people 1

Now… this next one is about Sudoku and all though I am crappy with numbers I do give these numerical puzzles a shot every now and then. It’s usually a sign of extreme boredom during train travelling and it usually ends up in me being Person B.

two kinds of people 4

I worked at a car company for about a year and a half and drove in many pretty cars, worth more than the house I am living in now. Many were automatics and I do get why people would prefer this….  But I can’t help it, can’t really explain it, call me European, but I am in the end really a person A.

two kinds of people 7

Now this is really one of my few OCD issues, if I have any…. And to make a long story short, it HAS TO BE picture B. Never A, nonono.

two kinds of people 2

How about you?

Thirty kms down the road

In last Saturday’s blog I briefly mentioned the rivalry between the soccer team from Leeuwarden, which is Cambuur and the team from Heerenveen, which is SC Heerenveen. I also mentioned it’s kind of complicated, but I’m going to try to explain it the best I can.

Background information
To understand some of the animosity between these two teams, you need to understand Friesland a bit. And don’t worry if you don’t totally get it, most Dutch people struggle with this province as well.

Friesland is a rural province. You know the famous Dutch cows? They’re from here. See a big black strong looking horse in a movie? It’s probably a Frisian.

People here tend to be slightly conservative. They have their own language and anthem (and this last thing is particularly important for this story) and get quite touchy about its status. Other Dutchies like making fun of them and can get to them quite easily just by calling Frisian a “dialect” instead of a language. Quite a large minority still walks on wooden shoes.

boer-op-klompenI hope you’re starting to get the picture here. They’re farmers; if not for real than surely in spirit. They’re simple people with small vocabularies, not particularly fond of strangers. Tractors are cool. A meal is not a meal without potatoes. Yes, kind of like hobbits, except the landscape is completely flat.

Heerenveen
Heerenveen is a town just barely more than a village. In the rest of the country it’s mainly known for its sport related activities. The have a sports Academy and lots of facilities for top sporters to train. The ice skating stadium here is loved by everyone with a heart for speed skating thanks to the amazing atmosphere and surprisingly good conditions for a low altitude track.

Frisianness shows its charming sides here. People are proud of their background and show this by wearing embarrassing home knitted sweaters with the Frisian flag on it. Sportmatches here are family events, where everyone knows eachother in a jiffy, if they didn’t already and Frisians and “Hollanders” mingle quite harmoniously.

Before every SC Heerenveen match, the Frisian anthem is played and sung loudly by all.

Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden is the capital of Friesland. It’s also a small town but with big city aspirations/pretensions. People from Leeuwarden don’t particularly like to be described as Frisians. Don’t ask me why, it’s beyond me, because they’re pretty much the same. Ok, maybe they don’t walk on wooden shoes, I’ll give them that…

Leeuwarders consider themselves to be open minded (they really aren’t). Sure, there’s a bigger chance a L’warder will attempt to speak some English when encountering a foreigner, but it’ll still be a pretty cold welcome, imho…

Anyhow, there’s a soccer club here in a neighborhood called Cambuur. The story goes that factory workers came to Friesland for some reason (to process milk? Really, no clue), and that they settled down in this neighborhood.

I’m not sure about what era this would have taken place or if any of this is true but what I do know is that Cambuur soccer club was founded and it’s fanbase ended up having an anti-frisian sentiment

SC Heerenveen and I

I was introduced to SC Heerenveen by one of my best friends. Her uncle worked at the stadium and knew most of the players on the team quite well. He would get tickets for the matches all the time and when his own kids couldn’t go, we would be invited. I have fond memories of these matches and my friend and I became die hard fans in the end, more than the rest of the family.

We started going to away games as much as to the ones at the home stadium and made new friends in the process. There was always an easy going atmosphere, with funny chants being invented on the spot without ever getting truly harmful or insulting to anyone (OK, maybe towards the referee once or twice) and always in good fun.

Our biggest and realest rival was FC Groningen, from the neighboring province, that had “Pride of the North” as their slogan. Obviously, we didn’t agree. The match against them was the match of the year and no matter what happened during the rest of the season, this one needed to be won in order for it to be an OK year. We would steal each others flags or decorate each other’s cars / buses in the rival’s colors and things like that. FC Groningen supporters were actually quite comparable to SC Heerenveen fans, in hindsight. A lot of ugly words, gestures and chants did go back and forth during these “Derbies of the North” but it was really all quite innocent.

Heerenveen and Cambuur

This is how it went for years, until Cambuur got promoted into the Dutch premier league after years of absence. This changed the whole ball game, literally. Cambuur doesn’t have fans, it has hooligans. Dads don’t take their kids to these games like they do in Heerenveen (and Groningen), let alone their wives and mothers. They’re all punks. For real.

Their presence in the premier league didn’t only change the game, it changed traffic too, as statements through bumper-stickers, caused middle fingers to be raised by complete strangers while waiting at a traffic light. My friend even had a guy make a throat slitting gesture to her once, just because she had a Heerenveen shawl in her car… It was weird.

To make matters worse, the current coach of Heerenveen used to be Cambuur’s coach. When the announcement was made he received threats and Cambuurders vowed they would block all roads to make sure he wouldn’t be able to leave town. Even now, some years later, it is a very delicate matter that drives the Cambuur camp into a blind rage from time to time.

The animosity is such that Leeuwarders / Cambuurders refuse to sing the anthem of Friesland as they consider it to be the anthem of Heerenveen, as it has always been sung at Heerenveen games. They even avoid the word Heerenveen all together and refer to the city and the club as DKV, which stands for Dertig Kilometer Verderop. This translates to: Thirty kilometers down the road… All I can do is roll my eyes and hope we beat them this season.

The first meeting will be on the 1st of November and the return game is on the 31st of January. All though I will not be wearing my shawl in public that day out of fear for my life from these yellow-blue lunatics, I will be crossing my fingers all the way…

Calvin & Dad

Today I am going to take the easy way out and post a bunch of images from one of my favorite comics of all time: Calvin & Hobbes. But to demonstrate that I did put in SOME effort, I decided to highlight Calvin’s relationship with his dad, which is quite hilarious if you ask me…

Let’s just start by saying Calvin’s Dad is an office bum that comes across as kind of dull at first. He tends to take the easy way out when it comes to chores and all though he loves his family, doesn’t always seem totally in sync with them.

calvin snowmen protest

calvins dad on vacation

He’s kind of paranoid about his privacy:

calvin & dad future

He cares for the environment, science and atheism:

Calvin & Dad leaves

He ‘s got a magic father book that contains all the knowledge of the world:

calvin & dad parentbook

calvin & dad parentbook 2

And even though the book is secret, he still shares so much of his wisdom with his son:

clv37c

All though sometimes even he doesn’t have the answers:

Calvin & Dad 6

And all though he hardly ever smiles, he’s actually hilarious and I suspect he has his colleagues cracking up all the time. He reminds me of Louis C.K. in a way!

calvin & hobbes bedtime negotiations

Calvin & Dad 4

calvin & dad

Luckily Calvin knows how to rebuke. But of course, Dad has the last word.

Calvin & Dad 5

But it’s all good, because he totally understands and respects the Calvin & Hobbes symbiosis:

calvin hobbes bedtime story

Hail to Bill Waterson!!

From me to me

Inspired by today’s prompt on Daily Post, I am going to write my fourteen year old self a letter. But for any of this to make sense to you guys, you need a little bit of background information first. Let’s make it a sweet little list with bullet points, shall we?bollie en eva

  • I lived in South America for eight years
  • I moved back to Holland at the age of twelve
  • I had been a fanatic horseback rider in Bolivia and continued with this in Holland.
  • I got a horse for my 13th birthday.

I see my fourteen year old self:

A skinny girl with sloppy blond hair (to my mother’s horror). Not a loner per sé but completely fine with just her own company. Friends tend to invite themselves over, as she never does. Mom and dad are still together even though dad is abroad a lot for work. Mom and her have a complicated symbiosis.

More than a decade and a half have passed. What do I tell this teenager? Not sure yet, but here I go:

______________________________________________

Dear Epi,

This is your future self. I know the answers to many of your questions, but I can’t tell you the answers. You have to find your own way. Your soul, mind and conscience are sound and will guide you well. Trust them. I know you do. So much so that some people might call you arrogant. Maybe you are.

You have seen so much more than your class mates. You have traveled the world and speak three languages fluently. Enough to make any young adolescent big-headed, right? In some ways you are much wiser than the kids your age but as far as academics go: you suck. Sure, the school system is different and yes sure, the teachers seem to be out to get you but that lazy attitude of yours isn’t doing much good either. Be honest to yourself.

You still have one foot in the past. Fearless as you are, I know that you are afraid of forgetting your previous life. You might be even more afraid of being forgotten, all though you must know it is bound to happen.

You know how fast things change at international schools. New kids come and go every year and it won’t be long before your best friends make new alliances, start new adventures and enter a new phase that doesn’t include you.

You are somewhere else. And it’s beautiful too, in its own way. Focus on that! You are making new friends. Friends for life, even! I know you feel this new crew of friends is special, even though you are not ready to admit it. You have vowed to return to South America as soon as you can. You are determined to leave this place and never return, but I think that might just be puberty talking…

I won’t give it all away but I can tell you that things didn’t go as planned… But I have watched far too many sci-fi movies to be telling you to change your course. This spot right here is my reality. My here and now is your future. Many of your “what if”-s and “I wonder”-s have played out and have been answered. 

From your point of view I am probably an old boring fossil now, but I still feel the kid in me is alive. And there is still a great big empty canvas in front of me! I’ve started painting the corners but we still have quite a way to go, you and I. There are still new adventures and experiences for us to encounter. And we are going to do great.

You have become a part of me and I thank you for all the mistakes you’ve made. It taught me a great deal. Never stop being you. I know you won’t. 😉

Lot’s of love.

Your’s truly (no really totally truly, I am yours….),

Epi 2.0 

Sad songs despite my good mood

First of all I want to come clean and admit straight away that I missed day four in my daily-blog challenge, so today I am posting twice. One in the morning and one in the evening, I’m sure that’s spread out enough to make it count as two separate days in some other timezone…

Anyway, the second confession is that I really don’t know what to blog about. Nothing really makes sense as a follow up for this morning’s blog. So, how about some music…?

I am actually quite an optimistic person but for some reason tend to enjoy melancholic and slightly sad music. So, my idea for this blog is to give you the top five of ultra moody songs.

There’s no particular order for these songs so listen to them as you wish. Here we go!

This first song really gave me insane chills the first time I heard it. The only right version is the live version, in my opinion. The song is written for her father, who re-married and whose wife would not let him have a proper relationship with his daughter. This is Beth Hart, begging her father to stand up for her…

Another song that caught me unaware and brought a lump to my throat for reasons I still don’t truly understand myself is by Lady Gaga. In this case also, the live version is actually the best.

This next song is by Maria Mena and I think she is wonderful. She’s such a beautifully troubled soul that I love to listen to on quiet evenings with a comforting cup of tea. I have never been in a complicated relationship and don’t have any past I would need to let go of. However, I totally understand the “fear of normalcy” she sings about.

No melancholic list is complete without the Civil Wars and all though it’s hard to choose, this is one of the songs I always come back to.

A singer that makes Maria Mena sound like the happiest kid on earth is Sinead O’connor. This song in particular has so much anguish in it that I can’t always deal with it. But on some nights: Full blast out of my speakers and howl to the moon! The video is new to me too, to be honest…

So that’s it for day 5 of Blogust. I’m back on track.

And if you have any melancholic music tips, do share!

Anti-evolutionary procreation

The subject I am going to discuss today is quite a delicate one and I don’t think I will be able to really say what I want to say without offending people, so I think I will just be straight and blunt about it and not even try to be subtle…

What happened is that I read this article in Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant, written by a guy called Anton de Wit, about single women who wish to have a child via IVF. The article I read was a reaction to an opinion piece that came out in a feminist magazine called Opzij. The writers of this piece in Opzij were upset about the fact that half of all hospitals in the Netherlands refused women for IVF who were not in a steady relationship.

Some of these hospitals decline requests from single women on the basis that they do not have a sperm bank on site and not merely because the wannabe mother does not have a partner. According to some feminist groups these rules are preposterous and discriminatory. A woman is made for motherhood and anyone who stands in the way of this wish is a bully.

mother simple linesAs Anton de Wit sarcastically sums up: “Why shouldn’t [a single woman] be allowed to be artificially inseminated? What if she can’t wait for Mr Right any longer or keeps on hooking up with douchebags that aren’t man enough to take on the responsible task of being father? Isn’t procreation a human right (…)?” and then adds: “Reproduction has, in the biological essence, always been a thing between two people, a man and a woman. Sure, thanks to scientific progress and shifting social conventions we have been able to reduce the first to merely a sperm donor.”

It’s a pity, in my opinion, that the feminist point of view was defended by a (single?) woman and the article in the Volkskrant was written by a man, which turned it into a “man vs women” thing for people looking for an easy point to score. You could easily turn it into a “Oh, that’s just typical; a man trying to take away a woman’s rights to be independent”-thing, all though that’s not the point at all. Because, as Anton very sharply adds:

“But when the conception has succeeded another individual appears with its very own rights, that we can not push aside so lightly – namely the child. (…) Does a grown up’s wish to have a child have more ground than a child’s wish to have parents?”

I, as a woman, must say I totally agree with Anton here. And even more so, it stirs up the devil’s advocate in me that wants to say:

If you can’t find a partner that wants a child with you, you weren’t meant to procreate! It’s anti-evolutionary. You are messing with the universe’s (or Darwin or God or whatever) plan…..

And to those whose feelings I just hurt: I’m sorry. I don’t enjoy seeing you sad, but it is truly what I believe…

What a difference a morning makes

Any one who has been to Holland knows it is a very organized country. Maybe even over-organized. Both the Dutch weather and landscape are quite predictable, as is our infrastructure. Every thing really works quite well all though you would never believe it if you heard my fellow countrymen complaining about the train delays every day.

In some countries they wouldn’t bother to put out an announcement about a delay unless it is several hours overdue. In Holland we organize our days up to the minute which means a 5 minute delay is a big deal.

Den Haag zonesMy job is located right in between two train stations, being The Hague Central and the Hague Holland Spoor. This means I have the luxury of being able to choose which route I take to work each morning and no delay ever really affects my plans for the day. All though I love the variety I always end up regretting it when I decide to start up my day by getting out at the central station. I’ll tell you why.

In the map provided above you can see the two stations marked in red and the area that I work in marked in green. If I choose to walk from the central station I walk through an area with a lot of high government buildings and offices. This is roughly the area marked in yellow. The shops and lunchrooms on these blocks are well adjusted to the many men and women in fancy suits that come buy for a quick coffee or more elaborate lunchmeeting. Wifi and superfoods all around…

People tend to be in a hurry here, and tight deadlines make for short fuses, I guess. When the train pulls in, people squeeze to the door and start pressing on the “open” button even before the train has come to a full stop. When the door opens the rush begins, in quite an unapologetic way. They push their way to the public-transport-check-out-scanners in a survival-of-the-fittest kind of way and then click clack click clack their shiny shoes onwards towards their desks. I imagine their is a picture of their children there to remind themselves why they do this every day and some sort of inspirational card on eye-level as motivation.

I am not often in a hurry. On the one side that is because I always get up quite early and on the other side it is because my job doesn’t require me to be in at a very specific time. I also just don’t enjoy the feeling and try to avoid it as much as possible. If fate makes it so that on some morning I end up arriving at Den Haag Centraal station it is what I consider to a bad start of my day, because even though I am not in a hurry myself, the frantic atmosphere there does get to me.

It’s hard to explain how the sound of someone walking can spike someone else’s stress levels. I don’t see the person behind me. I don’t know where they are going or anything else about them. Just the sound of high heels in this determined, short-interval kind of way makes me want to turn around and slap them…. or trip them… or maybe give them a massage and help them relax. It varies. 😉

And there’s not just that one person behind me. They’re all over the place! Some are already getting their caffeine fix (and maybe a muffin) at their favorite coffee house. Some are smoking one last cig before entering the office building. Some are on bikes or even skateboards. And in that little moment in time I am one of them. One of the tiny little insignificant ants pouring out of the ant-hill that is the station. Following the flow. Walking, going, clicking, clacking. No eye contact allowed.

And then there is the other station; Den Haag Holland Spoor, on the other side of the city center. This side of town is more of a residential area (the blue areas in the map above) and some might even consider it to be a bad neighborhood (all though it’s definitely much better than it used to be). It is an area where a lot of immigrants live and the shops and restaurants illustrate this as well. People don’t rush here. They give you their blessings when you sneeze. There might even be some eye contact and an apology when you bump into someone. Either that, or you could get stabbed… at least that’s what people tell me… But I’m hoping that only happens to people with karma issues.

As soon as I walk out of this station and cross the street I am pretty much the only person walking there. The Turkish baker is already open as are the fruit and vegetable stalls. The hair dressers (for all types of hair) are usually still closed when I walk by but the occasional one might be open for the early cabbies or what not.

Sometimes I walk past the mosque where some activity might be taking place depending on the day of the week or time of year. Then I walk through China town where smells, colors and alphabet change again. Everything is still closed. The only shoes you hear are mine. I can also choose to walk another route that takes me past a park and an urban garden area. The last part takes me past the red light district where it is always surprisingly busy…

And then I arrive at work; completely chilled out but very much awake.

The cleaning habits of “high potentials”

“On sunny days, the city’s high potentials gather in great numbers and nip from their little cups of wine, talk about their exams and grades, about racism and the semantics of sexism and traveling to Nepal or other places with poor people they could help out during socially aware holidays.”

Sunday in the Vondelpark. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This is a translated quote from an article I read a couple of weeks ago. It’s a scene that takes places every time the sun comes out in Holland and in this specific case the author witnessed it in a park in Utrecht, all though it could be anywhere really. She described how the park turned into a society of its own, with segregation of upper and lower class and every one trying to defend their status in some way or other.

And then the she hits us with some truth:

As the so called high potentials go home they leave behind scorch marks and a spectacular amount of litter in the grass. Cleaning up is something high potentials apparently only do in poor countries these days.

She describes the war zone of trash behind for the cleaners to pick up and how it reflects on our society as a whole. She interviews some of these cleaners, who describe how people throw trash in front of their feet while they are sweeping and assuming they are doing them a favor that way.

Talking about saving the world and totally disregard this when it comes to the scene right in front of them is painful to witness, and I may even be guilty myself up to a certain degree… I traveled abroad and did volunteer work with rural communities in Ecuador. I helped set up classes about preserving the environment through recycling and sustainable gardening. In all honesty my recycling habits back home are quite deplorable, all though I do try…

Reminds me of a blog I wrote many years ago, when I guess I still considered myself a high potential, despite not having the career moves to back that up. The blog was a short analysis of a short story (so yes, this is a paragraph about a blog about a story from a book 😛 ) in which a girl is offered deliverance from her guilt of being a westerner.

So I guess it’s up to me to start with the gal in the mirror! How about you?

A for August

Exactly one week from now it will be the first day of August and instead of starting with good intentions, fresh new promises and strict commitments in January, I decided to just start completely randomly in the eighth month.

Contrary to new year’s resolutions they will not be plans for the following 12 months but just for the month of August itself and we’ll just decide how to proceed when September comes peaking.

So what are my goals for the month of August?

  • Post one blog a day all month
  • Eat at least one piece of fruit every day of the month
  • Go jogging at least once a week
  • Add one new item to my bucketlist

And that’s it for now! So to sum it up: 31 blogs, >31 pieces of fruit, >5 jogs, 1 bucketlist item in 31 days.

See you on the other side!