Mind Cleanup – May

 May flew by in the blink of an eye. Time to reflect!

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Self reflection

When I ran into this post on Bored Panda about what introverts love in life I started to wonder about where I fit in. I can identify with all but 3 or 4 of the 20 images on the list, which pretty much proves I am an introvert, right?

On the other side though, I know some of my friends  and colleagues must wonder if I ever shut up and if I have the power in me to not wordvomit every on of my ridonculous thoughts at them as soon as they pop up in my brain. Also, I sometimes feel the need to skip across a room, instead of just regular-walking. Not something you would expect of an introvert… maybe a slight schizo one…?

introvert-me.jpgI also have both an urge and extreme dislike towards being the center of attention. So, what’s up with that? I decided to do a personality test just now and even after answering a trillion questions the result was “right on the borderline for the Extraversion vs. Introversion dimension. We can’t say for sure what your style is for this dimension of personality.” Bleuh, I hate being called “regular” or “average”…

Luckily though, it turns out my personality type does have a name, which I found out after reading this little article about outgoing introverts. So there you have it: I’m an outgoing introvert!

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Epicureous

  • I love elderflower flavored drinks.
  • Jamie Oliver’s so called 15 minute meal recipes actually take about 45minutes to an hour to prepare.

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Movies / Series

The other day I somehow stumbled upon an old episode of the Graham Norton Show, in which guests Matt Damon, Bill Murray and Hugh Bonneville have such a contagious amount of fun that it had me laughing out loud multiple times. If you’re having gloomy day: go for it. It’s bound to cheer you up.

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Music

Last weekend Brazilian guitarist and incredble vocalist, Badi Assad, visited the small village in the North of Holland, where my parents live. Amazing show, lovely lady!

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Cowabunga

Daydreaming about possibility of going on a big trip in 2017/2018.

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Bummerama

The state of my country continues to worry me. We are all doing quite well for ourselves but for some reason little is left of the tolerance and open mindedness we were once known for.

The most recent example is the way a startling number of my compatriots reacted to Sylvana Simons, a Dutch TV celebrity that had criticized the Zwarte Piet element in our yearly celebration of Sinterklaas on several occasions and has now joined a slightly controversial political party to get her point across in a mor substantial manner.  I for one, agree with her and wish her the best of luck. Luck and an extremely thick skin.

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Looky here

As a tribute to David Attenborough, who celebrated his 90th birthday at the beginning of May, Aardman Animations made a trilogy  of small videos, “interviewing” some of the animals he visited. Such a lovely gesture. Happy Birthday, sir David!

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Epilogue

I have quite a few nice things lined up for the month of June!

  • Beth Hart performance this upcoming Friday.
  • Pub quiz next week.
  • Aunt’s birthday celebration on the 4th of June and my mom’s the next day.
  • Trip to Copenhagen at the end of the month.
  • Summer!

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

Smother my spirit in privilege

A thing I have been struggling with lately is a term that has been around for years now and that I thought I understood. It’s something I have written essays about during my studies and even blogged about in a roundabout way. Looking back at all that now, I’m not sure I ever really truly checked myself properly or if I understood the full scope of it. I’m talking about white privilege.

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Perfectly in balance…

It’s been following me around all week.

I feel like such a fool to admit this but it hit me only recently that I’m not just someone on the outside looking in on a situation of inequality and racism in a distant country. I’m right there with everyone else and I can no longer say my hands are completely clean.

This does not mean I actively did wrong. I can even say that there is nothing I could or should have done differently. The only thing that was missing all this time was intent and true consciousness. So what changed? Well, a few things happened:

One of mfinger one.jpgy co-workers is adopted. Despite the fact that she is Dutch to the core, she mentioned she ALWAYS get stared at. Everywhere she goes, she gets looks. Not negatively per se, just sort of subconscious stares from people, lost in their own thoughts about her different skin color and appearance. I was surprised by this and told her I couldn’t imagine why people would do that and was sorry she felt uncomfortable at times because of this. And then it hit me and I felt like an idiot…. because I am most likely one of those staring people too…

fingers two.jpgThe other day I saw Law and Disorder in Philadelphia, an episode in the documentary series by Louis Theroux. One moment that especially moved me was the part where they apprehended a nineteen year old kid, running from the police. He was slammed to the floor by the police and mocked for saying he ran because he was afraid; and no, the fact that they yelled they were police didn’t make it less scary. They hardly gave him the opportunity to explain himself and had no sympathy whatsoever for his ordeal. He was black and walking down the street in a notorious neighborhood, therefore he was a drug dealer, a liar and a thug.

Watching white people assume only the worst about people of color makes me feel awful. Yes, I know about the statistics and how crime numbers seem to prove their higher tendency to choose the wrong path, but I can’t help but wonder about the chicken and the egg and all that… Philadelphia is a long way from home though, and it’s quite easy to turn a blind eye to the situation there or at least convince myself that it has nothing to do with me.

fingers three.jpgMy eyes are open now… Especially since, last Thursday, when I read an article by Arjen van Veelen, announcing the release of the translated version of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the world. His book, written as a letter to his 14 year old son, is:

[…] a tribute to James Baldwin, who wrote The Fire Next Time about the same topic to his teenage nephew. At the same time it is a refinement in book form of “the talk”, being the conversation that black [parents] have with their children about how to behave while being stopped by the police. Coates expands the talk with the question: how do you live in a body that inspires fear in others but also experiences fear itself?

Despite our own police brutality incident in The Hague a while ago, people at the bottom of Dutch society are faced with a less imminent threat to their lives than in, say, Ferguson. Arjen van Veelen reminds us that this does not make Coates’ book any less relevant for us Dutchies to read, as we have so much more to lose.

Van Veelen describes how our prime minister became terribly upset over the riots in the Hague and showed his support for the small businessmen who’s shops had been looted. He displayed more grief for those broken windows and lost revenues than for the man who had died in police custody days earlier.

It’s precisely this deafness for the pain of the people at the bottom of the food chain that causes these festering wounds. According to Van Veelen there have been many explicit warnings from Cassandras in all shapes and sizes about the situation in The Hague, even specifically warning for a Ferguson-like situation with tired police officers with short fuses and dangerous biases.

The deafness is systemic. The people that, like Coates, were critical of the system and spoke of institutional racism have long been seen as too radical.
[…]
There is a certain eagerness to speak about racism as long as it is about the past or about America. […] Oh yes, sometimes another opinion is given a small space in the paper, but it is hardly generous – it’s the Dutch stinginess; one cookie and then close the cookie jar, you’ve had your turn. This mono-culture had physical consequences, like what we have seen the Hague. Broken windows are the opinion piece you get when the mayor and the newspaper are incapable of listening.

As an advice to Coates, who may  be visiting our country in the following months, van Veelen says:

Less people die in the Netherlands, so there is no need to fear for your life. Here, only your mind is smothered.

Come on over, mr Coates and give us some spiritual CPR!

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This blog actually started out as part of my previous blog, but it kind of got out of hand so I decided to split it in two and give my white privilege a blog of its own. I do realize it is quite a heavy topic and scrolling through my blogs of late, I see it is becoming harder to digest as a whole.

I hereby promise the next 5 blogs I write will be shorter, easier to read and lighter on the morality scale. 🙂