Mind Cleanup – March/April

Just like my previous mind cleanup this one encompasses two months. While my motivation to fuse January and February was that I felt I hadn’t collected enough mind clutter after the first month of the year had passed, I can not say the same about March and April.

I would have loved to not write about the C-word… but a mind cleanup can’t be a real cleanup if it tiptoes around the elephant in the room…

Early stages

Working at a company that relies mostly on people’s travel plans, the situation has been in my face every day for many weeks now.

I started an overview document on the COVID-19 epidemic somewhere around the end of February. It was meant for internal use only and looked very similar to the briefing I had made a few months before to put the Australian bushfires into perspective. I had previously done the same for Typhoon Ursula/Phanfone in the Philippines and the social unrest in South America.

We were getting some questions from backbackers and digital nomads in Asia but everything seemed under control, as far as our work was concerned.

The first case was confirmed in the Netherlands on the 27th of February. On the 11th of March it was declared a pandemic. The next day was my last day at work before a week long holiday to Ireland.

Pandemic travelplans

I checked up with my oldest brother, T, (who works in the medical sector) if it was OK for me to go on with the trip I had planned long ago; he said it should be fine, if we didn’t mingle with large groups of people and washed our hands often.

I double checked with my second brother, D, if he was still OK with my plans to come visit him in Ireland. He was. My boyfriend and I had already decided to go by ferry which proved to be the best choice for so many reasons:

  • No stressy airport queues and waiting areas.
  • It was just the two of us in the car to the ferry, just the two of us in the ferry cabin, just the two of us from the ferry to my brother’s home. So very little chance of contamination!
  • As we came by car I could take some larger gifts a long, such as a reasonably sized painting my dad had made of my newborn niece.
  • Smaller ecological footprint than air travel (which was the original motivation to choose this means of transportation)

Lock Down

During our stay in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s day celebrations were cancelled, which was probably the first moment the Irish realized the severity of the situation.

A few days later we received word that all non-essential human movement was now prohibited in France. We were assured our trip home would not be a problem. We did decide to cancel our initial plan to follow the “cute windy roads” home and just stuck to the boring (but efficient) toll roads back.

During the week that we had been in Ireland everything had changed. My workplace was now closed and everyone was working form home. The clean cut and standardized information document I had started on a few weeks earlier had exploded into a monstrous behemoth with chapters and themed infobundles and newsflashes and hour-by-hour updates… It was pretty insane.

April

The first moment I realized April had made its entrance was when I started seeing A to Z blog posts appear. At that point, I realized I was too late, too unprepared and too exhausted to catch up. I also decided that I could do the challenge on my own at any moment in the year, if I wanted to. Instead of stressing myself out with the obligation of having to write and post one blog a day I could even spread it out a bit more, if I wanted to.

That way, every month would consist of a mind cleanup (or every other month), one lifetip and an Alphabet inspired post. Being able to publish a minimum of three posts a month sounds like a satisfying idea (and it’s close to one a week, which would be ideal).

Music

A category that I never have trouble writing about, is the music category. Songs that featured in some way in March and April were the following ones:

Flowers is not a new song of Ms Arie’s, but it is new in my life. Her songs always make the world look a little bit more beautiful and this one is no exception.

What triggered me to re-listen this next song from the 1995 Disney rendition of Pocahontas, I don’t know. Its effect actually caught me off guard and I couldn’t hold back a tear or two when I took in the words. It was as if I had never really listened to it. Every sentence in it hit home at that moment and it moved me deeply.

Another song that felt quite prophetic, albeit in a completely different category was the new Nothing but Thieves song “Is everybody going crazy”:

When I saw that my favorite Dutch hip hop artist Typhoon had finally released a new song I couldn’t help but smile. The lyrics are in Dutch but the title of the song translates to “Everything is blessed” and I guess that is just something we need to focus on sometimes.

Another song that put a big goofy smile to my face was a song called “Think About Things”. I first heard it on Spotify and wanted to share it with my brother, as the lyrics reminded me of the mental conversation I had with my one year old niece in Ireland a few weeks earlier.

When I looked it up on YouTube I … needed some time to process everything that was going on in the video.

When I read the comments I realized the awesomely, awkwardly tall viking of a man was actually the artist that would have performed at the Eurovision Song Festival as the entree for Iceland, had it not been cancelled.

Seriously… Tell me you watched that video and didn’t crack a smile… It can’t be done. You’re welcome.

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!

Gender – dogmas and taboos

This morning I came across a touching Indian commercial:

It brought several things to my attention;

  1. Apparently, Hindi does not have it’s own equivalent of “proud” or “sorry”, which I find interesting…
  2. Feminism is still relevant, but it only counts if men get on board too (and no Caitlyn, you don’t count).
  3. Sharing the load when it comes to laundry would be way welcome in my book as it is one of my least favorite chores (and one that I always tend to postpone a bit too long)
  4. Oh look, it’s Ariel… where have I heard that name before… water…. bubbles… mermaids… princesses… Oh wait, didn’t I get all worked up about an Ariel in my previous blog on transgender kids? Time to go back and get that follow up blog done!

Recap

So let’s  go back to that previous blog of mine and summarize it, real quick. The issue I discussed there was transgenderism in kids, illustrated by the examples given in an interesting documentary I saw. The fact that these kids declare that their body’s gender does not coincide with the gender they feel they truly are, is not a choice. Everything from that point on, however, is. And they’re big choices, too.

Some of the dilemmas I faced in the face of theirs:

  • Is it cruel to let a child go through puberty and feel their body change into the thing they dread or is it a necessary thing they must experience in order to be sure this is not what they want?
  • Should we block puberty for a while so the kid and its family have more time to make up their minds?
  • How do we know we aren’t blocking other forms of development in the process?
  • Should these kids be allowed to make this decision at all?
  • When has there been enough psychological help and can there actually be determined that crossing over is the only way forward?
  • From what age should cross hormones be made available?

In a conversation I had in regards to all of this with my great friend and champion in thought provoking remarks, Zeefje, she asked me straight up if I had something against transgenderism in general or just the fact that children were being allowed to make decisions about their gender at such an early age. It is a question I have not really found the answer to yet either, or perhaps I haven’t really dared ask it. I’ll see if I can come up with something resembling an answer in the course of this blog and if we’re lucky maybe even put it into words in an understandable way…

Puberty

So, imagine a kid; 5 years old, without being burdened by notions of what society expects or how gender roles are divided in the world, but very clear about the fact that they may have been born one way, but are most certainly the opposite.

puberty_growth.jpgAnd then as they edge closer to those pre-teen years they become self conscious. They realize what they are feeling is actually very odd. They are, as I have now learned, in the phase of “gender-non-conforming”. They may already have run into a bully or two. They change. They were bound to change anyhow, because puberty is on the doorstep.

Puberty is turbulent enough as it is. It is a phase in life when we all doubt ourselves as we start to  form our own identity and claim our spot in the world. Our bodies change. Our emotions change. Our relationships change.

Kids struggling with their gender can now take hormones blockers to stop the process of transitioning into their biological gender. This is obviously a temporary solution. I guess it buys time. It gives the gender-non-conforming child the chance to witness the changes in the bodies and behavior of gender-conforming peers and decide how they feel about this.

Boxes and gray areas

boy-girl_91.JPGAnd now I’m getting to one of the things that bugs me in all of this. I guess I feel that the real curse is the fact that we have certain expectations of a girl and other ones for a boy. These are often opposite and not supposed to be mixed up. I feel that if the box labelled “boy” and the box labeled “girl” weren’t so sharply defined some of these kids would have a lot more wiggle room to figure out who they are and may not feel the need to cross over at all.

I have this feeling that these boy-girl labels are weighed down more by stereotypes in American society than on this side of the pond. No, I have no hard evidence to back this up. It’s just a feeling.

My point is that if you grow up in a household and society that is laden with taboos, where “that’s just the way it is” is a legitimate answer, I can imagine a subtle feeling of discomfort with your own body can get out of hand real quick. You may feel that if you don’t fit in box A, that your only choice is to transition into whatever box B is.

Don’t sell your soul

I can go on about this for a lot longer and I do feel there is still more to say about all of this but Zeefje already talked me through a lot of my frustrations and confusion and I think I’m not doing anyone any favors by elaborating more.

To conclude this topic I want to go back to Ariel. The girl in the Frontline documentary gave herself that name and I though it was ridiculous at first. I saw it as an another sign she was just a confused child, trying to live a delusional dream. She chose the name of a Disney princess… Silly silly, right?

Wrong. It is actually the strongest and most symbolic name a child in her situation could ever choose and it gave me chills when I finally figured it out… You go girl. Find your feet. Spread your wings. Just make sure you don’t lose your soul in the process.