Mind Cleanup: Shedding indifference

All though 2016 ended with a slight whim of apocalyptic dystopia this new year is growing on me. There are actually more people that do think like me and they seem to be growing louder, which has put my desire to go into fullblown cocoon-mode to rest somewhat.

Self-reflection

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When my boyfriend asked me how I looked back on 2016 and what I expected of the year to come I said 2016 was my Hobbes year and 2017 should be more of a Calvin year.

As many of you surely know, Hobbes is not only the surname of  “one of the founders of modern political philosophy”, but it is also the name that mr Bill Watterson gave the tiger that completes the legendary cartoon duo: Calvin & Hobbes.

Hobbes is the (extremely sarcastic) voice of reason in the equation, whereas Calvin is the type that “demands euphoria” and is shocked when his mother doesn’t honor the ritual of scooping out the peanut butter properly. He’s the kind of kid that does not take “because I say so” for an answer and will call you out on your bullshit. Every. Single. Time. Regardless of your status or position. He will cause a one-man-riot for causes that are important to him and will suffer the consequences of his actions with his head held high. Calvin, despite being named after 16th century theologian, John Calvin, is actually pretty much an atheist if you ask me.

Anyhow, the point of all this is that 2017 is a year in which I hope to be more vocal about what I feel is right and allow my outrage to be heard whenever values I hold dear are under threat. So there.

Time to answer some self-reflection questions from my list!

How quickly do you jump to conclusions about people?

I’m afraid I can actually be quite a judgmental person, all though I am getting better at this.

Which physical feature defines you?

As most of the members of my family I have quite a pronounced chin and tend to duckface a bit when I concentrate hard on something. I also have a relatively large nose. Sadly, no broomstick flying skills, ’cause yes, I would make a great witch. 😛

What is your star sign?

Sagittarius, all the way. And apparently, I am also a skunk.

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Not sure if any of this is true or whatever but it does fascinate me…

What are you good at and what would you like to improve?

Hmm… this is a hard one… I guess I’m a good listener (when I want to be?). I’m pretty good with most animals, does that count?

There was a time in my life when I thought I should improve my public speaking skills. I totally lose my cool in front of a group. As a matter of fact, I think I’m just not much of a group person. Small talk: also not my forte.

I would like to be less awkward in these type of situations, but would prefer to just upload this skill, a-la-matrix, and not have to go to some group therapy to achieve it. 😛

If you could choose anyone living or dead, who would you choose to go on a roadtrip with?

Not sure… Michelle Obama stole my heart big time in recent months, so maybe her? Actually, road tripping with my boyfriend has always been awesome, so he’s definitely also invited.

And…… after giving it some thought…. maybe our most-hated Dutch politician, Geert Wilders. There are so many things I don’t really understand about him and his rhetoric that I would like to ask him about in a chilled out environment. All though there is very little I can agree with him on, I do feel sorry for him as well, as he is forced to live in some bunker with constant protection. A roadtrip might mellow him right down…

Movies / Series

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Recent recommendations:

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: loved it more than I expected. Maybe even more than the Harry Potter series… better acting, if you ask me!
  • Sing: Watched the trailer and feared I had already seen the best bits, but there was more than enough goodness left for me to giggle at during the film itself. My boyfriend even got a bit emotional at some point… no joke…
  • The Bridge: Danish – Swedish detective series, that I enjoyed very much. Only watched the first season. I hope the following seasons are just as cool!

 

Music

I was introduced to Stevie Wonder’s 1995 album “Conversation Peace“, which sadly I didn’t know at all. The first song “Rain your love down” is a heart-warming, head-bobbing song that at first glance may sound like a love song but is actually a plea to god to rid the world of “hunger, hate, war, and greed”.

The song that gave the album it’s title is one that chokes me up just a little bit every time I hear it… When you listen to it, remember it was recorded in 1995…

 

If you are looking for a lighter song, listen to “Tomorrow Robins will sing“, which of course also does point out the world is pretty sucky but hey, tomorrow robins will sing!

(all though I must say the robin in my garden only kinda chirps and doesn’t really sing… but maybe Stevie can’t tell which one it was that he heard. Or maybe I really have to wait till tomorrow…)

Epilogue

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To conclude this mind cleanup I would like to put in my two cents in honor of black history month, and leave you with a couple of my favorite quotes from Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

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Mind cleanup : Septem- and Octo- ber

As I gave this blog a title just now, I realized that September and October have pretty weird names, considering Septem and Octo sound a lot like the Latin words for seven and eight but in our calendar actually represent the ninth and tenth month, respectively. O.o

Anyhoo: I cut my hair and donated a 30cm long braid to wig charity, finally fulfilling a point from my bucketlist! It was really really short, making it impossible to put it up in a ponytail or anything of the sort for the last 5 weeks. I have managed to keep it out of my face but can’t wait for it to grow a little more so it actually properly fits in a ponytail again. It doesn’t look horrible on me though; that was a relief. 😛

Music

The music scene has been pretty interesting lately!

A song that is not necessarily brand new anymore but I still feel I should mention is Alicia Keys’ song In common. I am fascinated by this song and the video clip even more so. It’s got and old school feel and sounds pure, ethnic and raw. I’m not always a big fan of the way Alicia uses her voice but this one has been on repeat, if not in my playlist then definitely in my head.

On a sidenote: my goodness, that woman is really beautiful!

A new band, at least for me, is Equador. This song below is haunting and beautiful. Great for chilled out evenings. It’s one of those songs that I plug in my headphones for to hear it in all its complexity.

I don’t know how she does it by Sia always manages to touch a chord with me. Her new song the Greatest is so beautiful and the video is another one that I love to re-watch every now and again. In my mind I dedicate it to my brother, who sometimes needs reminding that he is in fact “free to be the greatest”.

A man-shaped woman called LP came smashing into my living room the other day with her song “Lost on you”. You’re welcome!

Epicurious

Earlier in September I experimented with brownies with date-based dough. Really really nice! The recipe can be found here.

Film

In remembrance of the 09/11 attacks the film Extremely loud and incredibly close was on TV here in the Netherlands and I was quite blown away by it. A recommendation for those of you who haven’t seen it yet.

Self reflection

The other day I saw a book called 999 questions to ask yourself. All though I didn’t buy it, I did like the idea. So yes, this cheapo right here did NOT support an upcoming inspirator and author, possibly preventing her to ever publish a book again and instead decided to look up and invent 100 questions of her own. So yes, this may possibly be the answer to one of the questions I should be asking myself: Why might people consider you a sucky person?

What I will be doing is answer 5 open questions and 5 this-or-that questions in every Mind Cleanup blog, starting with this one. So here we go:

What nicknames have people given you?

Name: Epi
Who started it: Maria Isabel, our Bolivian help’s daughter, a long long time ago
About the name: It’s the one nickname that kind of stuck with me and that has always re-surfaced even when I moved or created a new group of friends.

Name: Flavio
Who started it: my brother gave me this name when we could both barely talk.
About the name: My brother still calls me this. Nobody really knows why.

Name: Piep
Who started it: My mother
About the name: This name is actually one of the many derivatives that has come from the first one, Epi. My last name starts with a B, so my mother would sometimes call me: Epi Bee, which somehow got shortened to Peebee, and the finally Piep. In Dutch this translates to squeak, as in, the sound a little chick would make. 😛

Name: Konijnenkont (translates to Rabbit butt)
Who started it: my dad
About the name: I don’t think my dad really refers to me with this name anymore. Probably because my butt is no longer small and cute.

What fills up your heart to bursting level?

  • Baby animals
  • my goofy, kind-hearted bf

Which three things did you not have or do as a kid that you wish you did?

  1. music lessons
  2. a (cooler) tree house
  3. more time

What was topping music charts on your date of birth?

Prince – Purple Rain

Can you handle blood?

Yes, I once aspired to become a veterinarian (before I found out I suck at chemistry and that this was a requirement) and as a matter of fact I donate a pint of my own every now and then.

This-or-That

  1. Overworking or out of a job
    All though I am lazy by nature I did not enjoy being unemployed.
  2. Pizza or pasta
    Tough choice! As a poor cook I am a big fan of both of these options. I think pasta has more variety options though, so I’m going with option 2 in this one.
  3. Hard Truth or White Lie
    Hard truth.
  4. Knitting or Crocheting
    Neither activities are things I know anything about but as a clothing wearer I will go with knitting.
  5. Starters or Dessert
    Starters. I totally have a sweet tooth, but little snacks and pre-dinner bites make me so much happier than ice cream or cake.

And even though October is no where near finished, I am going to hit the publish button on this one. Next time: the moving house edition!

Mind Cleanup – April

All though May has already kicked into gear my April Mind Cleanup was still due. So here it is. The first topic mostly has to do with celebrations that have taken place in May, but the discussion started on April 30th, so I think it does count for this blog…

emoji lightbulb 2Epiphanies

All though it is something that is not always apparent (to me) a heated discussion that broke loose nationwide last week has reminded me that Dutch society is broken, or at the very least torn.

The discussion started on twitter, where a young woman posted a picture of herself holding a sign reading “No 4th of May for me”.

Beside being Star Wars day, in the Netherlands the 4th of May is also Remembrance Day. On this day we commemorate all the victims of the Second World War and all wars after that.

The point of this lady’s protest-selfie was not that she thought one day was too short to remember ALL of the victims of ALL wars worldwide. She was upset by the hypocrisy of it all. She felt it was all just a farce; how we all pat ourselves on the back for beating fascism in the second world war on the same public square where days earlier our own homegrown, contemporary far-right groups gathered to promote their racist propaganda.

Her hashtag “geen4meivoormei” exploded on twitter and poured out into all other forms of social media and even into the morning newspapers. Most of the reactions I read did not agree with her and you can imagine how some of the harshness that was slung at her, demonstrated she was on to something.

What saddens me the most is that the 4th of May celebration is precisely the kind of day she should be participating in most actively, as it is perhaps the only day that us Dutchies ever shut up for long enough for someone else to be able to make a point. We shut our mouths for two whole minutes.

How useful would it be if we used those two minutes to analyze our own xenophobia, guided by someone who has perhaps been on the receiving end of it? I hope somehow this outspoken young woman finds her way back into this national day of reflection and helps it be an inclusive one, where everyone feels welcome and represented.

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Epic moments

  • I spent a couple of days in Prague at the beginning of the month. Verdict:
    • Beautiful, beautiful town.
    • April is a great time to go, as the fruit trees on the hill are in bloom and the weather is very pleasant (or maybe we were just really lucky, not sure)
    • Love the goulash, not so much the dumplings.
    • A lot of booze-related tourism
    • Friendly people despite of this.
    • I had so many really really deep philosophical talks with my bf that we started to believe we were being haunted by all the great thinkers of Bohemia in our sleep!

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Self reflection

It’s been two years since my trip across the North Sea in the Yvette II and 73 years since grandparents made their trip in the original Yvette.

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Epicureous

I really like sweet potato and especially  when I cut them into fries and bake em in the oven. The only thing I haven’t mastered yet is the right dip to go along with it…

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Movies / Series

I finally got around to watching the 2nd season of Fargo and I absolutely loved it! To my own utter surprise, I really appreciated Kirsten Dunst in it and may even forgive her for the horrible job she did in the Spiderman movies. Apparently she is better at playing difficult roles than she is at easy ones.

So yah, totally recommend Fargo season 2, even to people who haven’t seen season 1 (there is very little correlation between the two seasons)

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Music

At this point I don’t even know if this has much to do with music anymore, but apparently life gave Beyoncé a big truckload of lemons and she made some serious lemonade. I have only seen snippets of the music video and am not completely sure how I feel about all of that but that it’s one for the history books can hardly be denied.

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Cowabunga – funny moments

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Bummerama

  • Ecuador earthquake. 😦 The Japan one was nasty too, but I have a little Ecuador shaped compartment in my heart and my entire heart goes out to those struggling there to rebuild their homes and lives. If you are wishing to contribute to this process and you want to be sure that the money makes it all the way down to those who need it the most, take a look at Runa Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund

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!

Movie yays and boos

You know how, back in the days when people still used to buy these things, guests would stroll over to the cabinet with all the CDs and DVDs and rate your taste? It says so much about a person, don’t you think? I’ve written blogs about my musical preferences in the past, so it’s time to reveal where I stand on a filmographic scale. It was really hard to limit these two lists to just ten movies but I managed, in the end.

thumbs up

All though the thumbs-up-list was much longer than the thumbs-down-list a couple of minutes ago, I managed to bring it back to ten, with pain in my heart. The movies that survived the cuts are all movies that I recommend to anyone. They’re not the best or most complex movies I’ve ever seen but I could definitely re-watch any of these on any giving moment for the ten millionth time and not mind for a second.

I will give every movie three key words to illustrate my affection for them.

  1. Snatch
    hilarious, quotable, interesting
  2. American History X
    confronting, intense, thought provoking
  3. the Mexican
    odd, light-hearted, amusing
  4. The Dark Knight
    dark, troubled, awesome
  5. Hotel Rwanda
    tear jerking (only movie that ever accomplished that with me), important, full of love
  6. Finding Nemo
    Deep 😉 , inspiring, beautiful animation
  7. La Vita e Bella
    unique approach of WWII theme, motivating, heart warming
  8. Shrek
    Fun, amusing, clever
  9. Sleepers
    captivating, gruesome, stirring
  10. Collateral
    Surprising(ly good acting), entertaining, uncomplicated

thumbs down

The next ones are pretty bad, all though I still think I owe a special shout out to every movie ever made starring Steven Seagal… Let’s bowe our heads in sorrow for all those mistakes and hope they some day stop being aired on TV.

I’m afraid I can’t summarize in 3 words how and why these movies are so bad, but I’ll try to be brief.

  1. From Paris with love
    Oh John… I never even gave the rumors about your alleged homosexuality any thought until this movie came along. You tried so hard to be manly and bad-ass and failed so terribly horribly miserably.
  2. Saving Private Ryan
    Did we REALLY go to this much trouble to retrieve one insignificant dude from behind enemy lines? Just to save one random mother from any more grief? I.just.don’t.get.it.
  3. the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
    I like Sean Connery, but wtf was this? I’m even into superhero stuff, but this was such a weak attempt that it failed in all senses. A pity, because it did have potential, imo.
  4. Lost in Translation
    Slow, boring, overrated. I want to say how much I hate Scarlett Johansen’s acting (in general, not just in this flick), but I know how guys get when I say that, so I’ll just leave it… 😛
  5. World War Z
    Apparently zombies are hot & happening, and I was prepared to embrace this fact, as I thought Brad knew his way around the undead since his stint with the vampires twenty years ago (!), but boy was I wrong. This was just disappointing, predictable and boring.
  6. Seven Pounds
    Watching Will Smith being depressed for 123 minutes is not my idea of fun. It’s a total downer. No happy ending or nothing. It doesn’t suit you, Will. I like you funny.
  7. Gran Torino
    This wasn’t even a disappointment as I kind of knew it might suck but I also kind of hoped Clint had one more good movie in him… but nope… just meh.
  8. Crash
    I actually don’t hate this movie. I actually was quite impressed with it, I just never want to watch it again as it plummeted my faith in humanity down to an all time low. I don’t need that kind of truth. I am cynical enough as it is.
  9. Pitch Perfect
    Beside the fact that the story was uninteresting, boring and predictable, the singing wasn’t particularly inspiring either. Can’t think of any good reasons to watch this again in my life.
  10. Indiana Jones – Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
    All though I’ve put this movie on nr ten, it definitely doesn’t mean it’s the least bad of all of them. It’s actually the only one that actually made me angry, because I was actually looking forward to it. I wanted it to be AWESOME. I craved for another Indiana Jones movie. Bad special effects are totally OK. A little self-mockery is fine too… but this was really truly an insult to everyone. This should never have happened and I regret having spent money on it. Shame on you, Harrison, but most of all you, STEVEN SPIELBERG!