I have a little rebel in me

John Oliver’s recent “last week tonight” episode reminded me of a blog idea that has been in the back of my mind for a long time now. Let’s start with the clip that triggered this:

At the 7:07 mark, a man steps up to defend confederate statues by speaking about his family heritage at a community meeting in North Carolina. He says he always felt proud of his great grandfather’s involvement in the American civil war. His ancestor had stood up for his rights and was willing to fight and die for them. The man says it reminds him that he has “a little rebel” in him. You can tell he feels he is being robbed of this feeling now that the confederate statues are being shown in a different light.

As much as this makes me giggle, roll my eyes and shake my head, I do get it. Profoundly more so than I may care to admit, at first glance.

My own heritage is filled with adventurous globetrotters, standing for what they believed was right in the context of their time.

inleiding_01

My great grandfather, for example, was a preacher from the rural North of the Netherlands who travelled to the Dutch colonies (in current day Indonesia) at the beginning of the twentieth century for what I imagine would’ve been missionary work. I know very little about him or what he did there exactly, but as a colonizing power, you can imagine we Dutchies do not have clean hands in every aspect.

I hope to be able to find out more about him and what he did, some day. I am proud to be a descendant of a man willing to venture into the unknown. I can only hope he did more good than bad for the people of Magelang.

The preacher had a son, my grandfather, who was born in Palembang, Indonesia in 1915. All though I’m not sure about when exactly they returned to the Netherlands, I do know my grandfather was attending University  in the Dutch city of Delft, when  the Second World War was at its peak.

I can imagine his international upbringing made him more conscious of global issues and the miles he must have made at sea as a child traveling from Indonesia to the Netherlands, would have tempered his fear of open water. So, when faced with a possible Nazi labor deployment, he decided to flee the country by boat with two companions and his Belarussian wife, who refused to leave his side. Across the North Sea, in England, they joined our queen and the allied forces to fight fascism across the globe.

Foto+van+de+Dag++vaarkrant+2As I wrote a few years ago after my own tribute to their voyage, the so called “Engelandvaarders“, or England sailers, are an important part of Dutch WWII history and even have their own museum in the seaside town of Noordwijk to commemorate them. So yes, I am proud to be able to call myself a descendant of theirs.

At the same time, I know my grandparents chose to join the KNIL, or Royal Netherlands East Indies Army, a military division that is not without controversy. As with my great grandfather’s deeds and position, I do not know the details of my grandparents’ role here (yet). What I do know is that following World War II, “the KNIL was used in two large military campaigns in 1947 and 1948 to re-establish Dutch control of Indonesia. The KNIL and its Ambonese auxiliaries have been accused of committing war crimes during this “police action”.”

So yes, still proud… but very conscious of the fact that the reality they were facing and that facts they were presented with at the time, must have made them feel the cause they were fighting for was a just one. If this is still the case today, now that we can zoom out and look at the end results, remains to be seen.

Next in line is my father, who was born in Indonesia in 1947 himself and has travelled the world during much of his life, doing development work in South America and the Middle East. How many people’s lives has he actually improved? How many people learnt how to fish themselves thanks to the projects he led and how many “merely” received a charity fish? How much money was wasted on corruption and how much was actually spent effectively? How many projects brought people what they really needed on the long term and how many were merely set up as short term tools in the Dutch political agenda?

So… I guess my point is, I am proud to say that I come from a lineage of adventurers and people wanting to make a difference in the world. If their cause or methods were always good, is up to debate. A debate I am willing to engage in.

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The seven sins; minus four, plus one

All though I have a certain fascination for religion and spirituality, in truth I am a devout atheist. My interest stems from an anthropological curiosity for mankind, its history and psychological necessities.

A thing that I have spent many hours philosophizing about is the role of religion in defining the boundary between good and evil. As I am most familiar with Christianity and I run into its symbolism almost on a daily basis, I have often pondered about the value and appeal of the seven sins.

Dismantling the seven sins

I have come to the conclusion that of the seven, there are four that I don’t consider to be all that bad;

  • c812d7bc02a55367723694dbc3232d118b976ac02cbda8f8f302c12d332a347aLust – Why would you demonize sex?
  • Gluttony – what’s wrong with enjoying good food?
  • Pride – I suppose they mean arrogance, which is an annoying trait for sure. But a cardinal sin? Mwoah….
  • Sloth – Aaaugh, don’t judge my laziness; I need it! Even neuro-scientists agree.

The one in the list I haven’t made up my mind about yet, is wrath.

  • Wrath – Merriam-Webster dictionary say wrath is “strong vengeful anger or indignation”. I think everyone has the right to feel anger and definitely indignation. However, I know people that douse their words with the poison of bitterness and hate and that is really sucky, to say the least. At the same time, I am convinced such words always come from people that are hurting themselves and in a very distorted way are actually crying for help. 

And then there’s the two that would also qualify as evil, dark and nasty in my book;

  • Envy – No doubt about it; envy is ugly and anyone that feels this needs to work on eradicating it from their system. No good comes from it.
  • Greed – The core of almost all of mankind’s suffering, if you ask me. 

The eighth sin.

Envy and greed are both dark paths, that every person has walked down, albeit briefly.

A state of mind that may come across as innocent to some but deserves strong condemnation is the passive aggressive feeling of:

Indifference

All though I know many people that let matters of the world get to them in a degree that I feel is unhealthy, indifference is probably the feeling I fear most in the world.

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Morituri te salutant

“Those who will die, salute you”, is what fighters in the gladiator pit supposedly said in ancient times, before fighting to the death in an arena full of bloodthirsty onlookers.

Athlete and silver medalist Marieke Vervoort could have greeted the crowd in the same fashion before her race last week. She is most certainly a fighter. Just like the gladiators of old she does not want to die. And just like them, it is likely she will die before her time. She is an athletic hero, named paralympian of the year in both 2012 and 2015. She also happens to have progressive myelopathy.

She has never made a secret of her feelings towards euthanasia. But when she declared the Rio Olympics would be her last, the interwebz exploded, convinced she was going to celebrate her silver medal on the 400m with a some super special suicide pill that she must have been saving for the occasion… or something radical like that…marieke-vervoort-euthanasia

Last Sunday she took some time at a press conference to explain what she meant and basically told the world to take a chill pill themselves.

She explained how she had indeed signed papers several years ago, giving her the possibility to end her life and that these were partly what had kept her going for so long. Make no mistake, this woman is not choosing the easy way out. She is already dealing with a degree of pain on a daily basis that you and I can’t even begin to fathom. She explained it as follows:

Yes, I have euthanasia paperwork ready. I’ve had them since 2008. Because I can tell you it’s really hard to deal with this disease en endure the pain. But this permission I have for the euthanasia process, which I have in writing and carry with me, gives me a sense of peace. It’s this feeling that helps me live. I can enjoy every moment I have now. But when the time comes that I have more bad days than good days, I will have my euthanasia papers ready. But that moment has not arrived yet.

So, when she said these would be her last olympics she was basically just announcing the end of her topsport career, not the end of her life.

She will continue living her life to the fullest, as she always has. She will continue facing her pain and her progressing paralysis head on, as she will all the hateful fools that feel they have a right to judge her.

As her disease creeps on, she may completely loose her sight (it has already deteriorated to 20% of her original vision) and her epilepsy attacks will become more frequent. The cramps in her body will keep her awake during the night and the wheelchair she sits in will no longer be powered by the muscles in her strong arms. She lives in constant fear, not knowing which part of her body will give in next.

She directed her strong plea for euthanasia at the people and politicians of Brazil and other countries where euthanasia is still a taboo and a crime above that.

I hope people don’t feel [euthanasia] is murder. Just being in the possession of these papers, which is something I obtained legally in my country, gives me tranquility. If I did not have this option I may have already committed suicide.

You don’t just beat your opponents, you beat the odds. You don’t just break your personal (and world) records, you break taboos.

Right on, Marieke. I salute you.

 

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!

Growing up trans

Not only is this blogpost extremely long, it is also another one of those posts that is bound to offend some people. I considered changing it up to make sure I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings but there’s no point in being disingenuous. This blog is supposed to help me figure out what I feel and think about things and if the conclusion turns out to be that I am a horrible person then… well… I’ll have to deal with that another day…

So, the other day I saw Hanna. Hanna, the movie I mean. I had seen it before but sometimes you need to re-watch a movie to truly let it sink in.

The part that had seemed sort of irrelevant the first time and that really stuck out to me the second time was the role of Hanna’s friend, Sophie; a slightly annoying British girl racing through puberty with hormones flaring all over the place, both confused and intrigued by modern day concepts of gender and sexuality.

I remember sort of rolling my eyes at the stereotypical girl Sophie represented, which ironically is something she does constantly as well (rolling her eyes, I mean). She’s the kind of girl that wears ass-showing shorts with an air of cluelessness that makes it both endearing and incredibly dangerous at the same time. The wise-beyond-her-years kind of adolescent that claims independence while sitting on her father’s lap. The kind of girl that sees an interview with Miley and decides she’s “gender fluid” and wants to kiss a girl to taste her cherry chapstick.

For a second I was tempted to say it’s “a thing kids these days do”, but as I was typing it I realized that’s not really true at all. Adolescents have always experimented with their sexuality. Is it more frequent nowadays? Or more evident? Or is it just the fact that we have all these new words like bi-curious, gender fluid, gender queer, lipstick lesbian, etc and that glossy magazines like throwing them about randomly when discussing the red carpet outfits…?

It confuses me if the above is good or bad for the acceptance of homosexuality in mainstream society. On the one side it is great that LGBT issues are being dragged out of taboo-constricted closets. That we are having these talks out in the open is great and hopefully it will help us all to feel comfortable with each other’s preferences and  most of all: ourselves. However, if people start declaring themselves bi-curious as a display of their rebel heart and naughty spirit I’m afraid the Michelle Bachmanns of this world will have a field day.

These ultra-conservatives will raise their intolerant voices, quoting scriptures and handing out tea party sponsored leaflets for their delusional “counseling center” to cure you of your abomination. And sadly, they could use these hipster bi-curious kids to back up their claim that it is not natural nor something people are born with. Worse even, they would say is a condition you can be cured for and have proof to back that up.

I can imagine it must be frustrating for those still struggling with their coming out to see youngsters play around with the concept of sexuality and gender and go back and forth as they please. Gays and lesbians must have been told “it’s just a phase” by friends and family (and themselves) a thousand times before they dared come out for the fact that these feelings are here to stay. The fact that there are people running around all the time demonstrating that for them it is in fact just a playful phase that you can laugh about later on in life, isn’t doing much good for true LGBT-ers.

mirrorsm-264x300And then yesterday I saw this Frontline documentary called Growing up Trans, that in turn made me feel like a conservative bag of bones. It startled me especially when I heard myself yelling “but it’s just wrong!” at my TV screen. That’s the type of thing an ultra christian hillbilly would yell at a picketing, right?

The premise of the documentary is that it is becoming more and more accepted for people to come out for their transgenderism and not only that, but the possibilities to actually do something about it are also becoming more easily available. The documentary follows a bunch of kids varying in ages, the youngest being about nine. These kids have voiced their unhappiness with their bodies to their parents and have been supported in this in different ways and degrees.

The documentary presents us with the dilemma: These kids have found their voices and are clearly much happier if they can dress and act as the opposite gender. In a child’s body it hardly makes a difference. But as puberty sets in, these kids are disgusted by their bodies that are transitioning into what they feel is the wrong direction. So do you start giving them hormones at such an early age, so that they don’t need to go through the trauma of growing breasts or getting facial hair? Or do you wait for puberty to pass and then check again when they are adults to see if they still feel the same?

At some point an expert in adolescent medicine says:

The majority of children with gender dysphoria will not grow up to be transgender adolescents or adults. But I think the challenge is that we are not able to definitively predict for whom gender dysphoria will continue and for those that it may not continue.

She adds:

Early intervention does make a huge difference. Once some physical changes of puberty have occurred […] they are irreversible. So really starting puberty blocking medications as early as possible is really important for some people who are really experiencing distress.

We slowly get to know several kids and all seem to know very well what they want and don’t want. They all describe their changing bodies as horrifying and want the process stopped before they become the one thing they do no want to be.

gender eye.jpgWe are introduced to Kyle, aged thirteen, that is on meds; anti-depressants that is. He has dealt with the psychological consequences of feeling trapped in the wrong body and not being supported in this by his parents, most of all his father. Kyle is past the phase of puberty blocking and wants to go straight to the cross sex hormone therapy.

Kyle’s father really struggles with the decision he faces and that is when I surprised myself a little bit, when I felt I actually agreed with him for a great part. During a meeting with a doctor about the testosterone treatment, he hears what all the consequences are of going down this road. The upsides and the downsides. The perks and the risks.

After the doctor’s explanation Kyle admits he does wish he could have kids of his own some day, something that shows you the immensely difficult decisions you are asking a thirteen year old to make. Decisions it is hard to believe such a young human being could grasp the full scope of. That is why I totally got it when his father said:

Up till now it’s been things that were reversible: we change your name, we refer to you as he and him, sure fine. But at thirteen […] you need to think a little bit more about that. And those are things that your parents should be there for; to help you be as certain as you can when you make a decision that later in life could have a huge impact. So there’s a lot to think about.

Contrary to the other kids in the documentary Kyle is lucky enough to have a friend going through the same process, John. It is endearing to see them talk and philosophize about their parents and the effects their decisions and feelings have on them, fathers in particular.

John is very eloquent and comes across as smart and very sane. He tells us how he came out as lesbian at the age of seven and then as a transgender in his freshman year. John’s father is not going along with the transitioning process at all. He wants to support his kid and he wants him to be happy but he is incapable of seeing John as a boy. He refers to him as “G”, the first letter of his birth name and has not changed the pronouns to male yet.

The dynamics in this family are what got me all fired up and what made me want to write a blog about it. Just like John, his father comes across as someone who thinks before he speaks and is honest and clear about his feelings. He is also very religious and fears John is choosing the path of eternal suffering. He hopes and prays for his child to find his way back to “what is right”.

Despite me not being religious I do see that the underlying sentiment this father has is one of pure love and care for his kid, even though his wife questions this at some point. It was really heartbreaking to see. The stakes are so incredibly high here it just blows your mind.

Imagine John’s father worrying about the fate of his daughter’s soul. How do you make a decision if that is on the line? Imagine having to choose between your child’s eternal soul and his happiness on this earth.

At the same time John expressed feelings of extreme depression and besides suicidal thoughts even homicidal ones towards his family. At some point he even asked his mother to check him into a clinic so he would do no harm.

That was the last drop for her. Unlike her husband, John’s mother let go of her faith and the biblical teachings she grew up with to fully support her child and provide him with any possible means to find the way back to happiness. In turn, this created a void between her and her husband. Imagine having to chose between your child’s sanity on one side and your marriage on the other. Your love for your kid versus your love for the man you made that child with.

The contrast in John’s family couldn’t be bigger than with the family of Ariel; a kid that completely rubbed me the wrong way, no matter what gender or sexual orientation se has. The high “like” frequency in her sentences, the vocal fry, the neurotic body language, the Kardashiany tears-on-demand… just annoying. Don’t get me wrong, she has enough to be nervous and teary about and I do see her life hasn’t been easy, but she’s just chosen the wrong version of girl puberty to go through, if you ask me…

gender-sexuality.pngAnyhow… After seeing the heartbreaking struggles in John’s family and then switching over to this kid… I guess that’s when I started yelling at my TV… Ariel was going to get her hormone replacement therapy, despite being only thirteen (instead of the usually required minimum of 16). Her therapist felt she was ready. I don’t know this kid. I have never met her. I know I have no right to judge. But… still… just seeing her and hearing her with that all-over-the-place energy really made me feel she was not done with therapy yet.

(If you are curious to see just this part of the documentary to understand what I mean, go to this link and fast forward to minute 54, and watch about five minutes from there)

Actually no, maybe that’s not it… I don’t think she needs more therapy. She clearly knows exactly what to say and what it all means, in theory. But she sure as hell is not ready to make decisions about cutting off penises and growing breasts. Her idea of transitioning into a woman consisted of picking out pretty clothes, playing with make-up and finally growing up and marrying prince charming. She may not need more therapy but she definitely needs to grow up and experience a little bit more of life before being allowed to say yes to this…

And when I heard the therapist going along with her clear inability to grasp the true and real consequences of the hormone treatment…

ARGH, it’s just WRONG!wrong1

And by golly, I hate extremely long blogs and this one has definitely turned into one, even though I still feel I have not fully explained my point of view… So I’ll just leave it at this for now and maybe come back to it on another day…

Feel free to bite my head off in the comments below.

Message received

argument stubbornI love being right almost as much as being proven wrong. I don’t enjoy being contradicted per se, but I do enjoy it when someone shines their light on a situation from a new angle, putting my truth to the test. I don’t mind admitting I was wrong (or at least incomplete) when new facts are presented to me in a fair way.

This happened to me a couple of months ago, when I got into a cyber discussion witih a Jewish FB -er. It happened to me again last week when a fellow WP-er, Being Woke, called me out on my use of the word “exotic”, among other things.

All though part of me is still a bit defensive and wants to emphasize how good my intentions are and that that should be what counts, I know deep down that she was right to cyber-slap me on the wrists.

polar bear facepalm.jpgLet me summarize what happened. I read a blog in which a muslim girl described how threatened she feels on a regular basis (and during one especially aggressive encounter in particular) by looks and remarks she gets about her muslim appearance.

Instead of stating straight away that I hated that she had to deal with these kind of reactions, I inadvertently channeled my inner oaf and pretty much asked her to sympathize with the burden of my white privilege.

I told her how muslim women (or anyone foreign looking in general) stick out in my predominantly white hometown and how I struggle sometimes with how to react. I tried to explain how I would want them to feel welcome and acknowledge their presence, but at the same time I know that they would much rather just blend in. So how do you forcefully help someone blend in, when in all truth they stick out like a sore thumb?

Making myself explicitly not look makes me feel like a silly child ignoring a former friend on the school yard. It doesn’t feel nice or friendly or welcoming or productive in any way. Looking at the person in question however, even if it’s just to give her a smile, might make her feel uncomfortable and exposed, which is pretty much the opposite of what I intended in the first place. My idea was to acknowledge the facts, show her that I see her but that this has no negative connotation.

And then I earned myself a one way ticket to hell by referring to foreign looking people as “my exotic compatriots”. It’s  really bad… right?

My comment was met with a verbal eye-roll and a couple of questions to top that off:

I personally do not believe your stares are required to acknowledge someone’s presence. Do you stare at people who look like you to acknowledge their presence? Or is that reserved for those who don’t look like you – and therefore are your stares for them or to fulfil your own curiosity?

The answer to the first question is probably “no” and I go back and forth on how to feel about this. I know she is implicitly calling me a racist here, and I myself have admitted at some point I am not perfect in this field. The answer to the second rhetorical question is “yes” and again, I know I am being expected to feel bad about this.

What I want to say is that I have been on the receiving end of stares myself. I grew up in a country where my appearance stood out and I was the odd one out in a crowd. I tread a fine line here; because even though my skin and hair color made people point at me and call me names that have a negative connotation I will always be privileged by the simple fact that I am white.

Or as Louis CK puts it:

So, yes I am white and “thank god for that shit, boy”.

I am guilty but I mean no harm. I am one of the good ones, I really am. I understand why it must annoy the hell out of you to be called “exotic” and have us whiteys defend ourselves by saying we meant it as a compliment. I understand you feel you are being compared to a tropical parrot or something.

I should have never touched the word. I understand that now. I do want you to know I didn’t mean it as a compliment… or an insult, for that matter. I used the word as an adjective, to describe all my fellow countrymen and -women that may have lived here their entire lives and maybe even their parents did too, but lack the Northern European look the majority of us Dutchies has. I wasn’t saying you are not Dutch. Or less worthy. Or extra sexy-feisty-squeezy-easy. Or whatever other negative connotation it may have.

So, let me be completely open and disregard all political correctness for a minute and ask some frank questions of my own:

    • How can I, as a member of the white majority population, find the balance between acknowledging your values, respecting your right to wear different clothing and help you blend in? The only way I can think of is stop looking all together, which is most definitely not what I want. I love my sense of wonder!
    • Can I, as a white person, ever say you are too sensitive? Thin ice cracking, thin ice  cracking, thin ice, thin ice…
    • Am I allowed to say “I understand” or is the impossibility of me ever getting the struggle of a person of color so evident that it would always be either a lie or a display of my ignorance?
  • Why does us discussing semantics feel so silly?

Anyway, I promise I will never stop trying to improve myself and trust I will find a balance at some point, all though I am starting to sense that it is almost inevitable to tread on some toes along the way. I apologize beforehand. I really do try!

Mind Cleanup – 2015 overview

Happy new year everyone! Hope you had a good transition from old to new and that you are ready for what 2016 has in store for you. If you’re not ready yet, you will have another chance to start with a clean slate soon, when the new year starts according to the Chinese (goodbye sheep, hello monkey!).

So, using my new mind cleanup tool, I want to glance back on 2015.

emoji happy.pngUppers

  • My current job gives me such a strong feeling of belonging that I can’t imagine ever having felt insecure about the decision to apply (which I totally did)
  • I am so lucky with my bf, who’s love I never doubt, even (especially?) when he says I’m an idiot (because it’s usually exactly what I needed to hear on that particular moment).
  • Climate agreement achieved!

emoji disappointed.pngDowners

  • My parents’ dog was hit by a car and died
  • My family can no longer be together in the same house. All though the decision of the family members in question to take no more shit from each other and just deny the other’s existence has brought some peace into the equation, it is a very sad status quo for many of us; my father in particular.
  • Terror & mass-shootings have become matters of “When” rather than “If”.
  • The hypocritical and nearsighted response of the Western world to the Paris attacks, completely ignoring the equally real suffering, pain and losses of life elsewhere bummed me out big time.
  • The Dutch soccer team did not manage to qualify for the European Championships, despite reaching the final in the World Championship 2 years prior.

emoji SeeNoEvil.pngThings I tried to ignore

  • Everything Trump
  • Bruce’s transition to Caitlyn and the world’s revelry about this
  • I-am-this-and-that declarations on social media.
  • The guilt I feel about my ecological footprint
  • My laundry

emoji music.pngMusic related thoughts

  • I still think it’s a pity Grooveshark quit and do not feel Spotify fully fulfills my musical needs.
  • There is a lot of pretty awesome sounding electronic music being made these days! To name a few: C2C, EZA, Jarryd James, Låpsley, Alt-J, Oh Wonder.
  • Ariana Grande is an amazing singer and much more talented than I was prepared to admit, until I saw this.
  • Adele’s comeback was so ginormous when it comes to view counts and online viralcy that the actual music never really lived up to it for me. She’s incredibly sweet and charming and I love that she is part of  current day music, but I definitely don’t have her album on re-play.

emoji lightbulb 2.pngEpiphanies

  • Rugby is really fun to watch!
  • If I can’t kill and prepare an animal myself, I should become a vegetarian.
  • I am a privileged person. I don’t need to feel guilty about this but consciousness is vital.
  • It’s not always up to me to solve conflicts between people. Even more so, removing myself from the equation as self-appointed mediator can actually be the solution in some cases.
  • I am not an atheist in the sense that I believe what has been scientifically proven. I leave room for spiritual ideas and am willing to admit that science is also “just a theory” in many senses. However, I am very strongly nonreligious. Stronger even, I am anti religious, unpopular as it may be to say so.
  • Blaming DNA for any shitty traits you (or I) may have is a poor excuse and does not give you permission to be an asshole (or a drunk or whatever).
  • Doing a month long a-blog-a-day challenge is actually really hard.

emoji sunrise.pngEpic moments

  • Summer with my brothers and kids
  • Learning how to dive and becoming PADI open water certified
  • The opening of the Engelandvaardersmuseum in Noordwijk

emoji paella.pngEpicureous 

  • I have a shrimp allergy and I’m sick of it.
  • Couscous tastes so much better the next day!
  • Peanut butter cups are actually very easy to make and, imo better than the supermarket kind.
  • I met a Canadian girl during a food tour in Ljubljana (amazing city btw) who, when I asked what the difference between lager and pilsner is, illustrated this with some common knowledge from “back home”: Lager is like having sex in a canoe; it’s fucking close to water.
  • I really don’t like potatoes.

emoji hourglass.pngEpilogue

  • 2016 is going to be awesome, have a good one!