woensdag 26 november 2008

We interrupt this programme for….terrorist attacks / We onderbreken dit programma voor…terroristische aanslagen.

I was planning to write a day-to-day account of our adventures in India, but this takes some priority. When M. and I were going to look for some breakfast, a disturbing headline in the newspaper caught my eye.
“Terrorists Paint Mumbai Red”, so the Herald said.
I quickly bought a copy, for three rupees, and started to read.
This paper says there are 80 killed and 250 injured, some other places online say there were 78 dead, some 87, some even up to a 100 - but I am guessing it will be something along those lines. As far as I understand, there are still some people being held hostage as I write this. Currently it feels rather surreal.

The rather strange thing is, if we had done things according to plan – we probably still would have been in Mumbai. We were planning to stay for a week, but M. hated it there and we left early. We would have left at the old Victoria station – one of the places that were hit. The Taj hotel, one of the hotels that were targeted, was in the street where our hotel, Harbout View, was. It was literally just a few steps away. We actually passed the Taj on several occasions, when walking to the Gateway of India. We saw most of the places that got hit and attacked.

The paper here does not give information on who these terrorists would exactly be, but online papers tell me it would be the Mujahideen of Deccan.
The weird thing is that, since we’ve been without a TV for a week, we wouldn’t even have known about it if I had not seen that paper. So, to my friends and loved ones reading this blog:

I am all right, though mildly scared. It does seem to be safe in Goa though. I do not know if this will or should change my travel schedule, but I’ll try keeping you posted.


Deze blog moest eigenlijk het verhaal vertellen van onze dagdagelijkse avonturen in India, maar deze gebeurtenis heeft enige prioriteit. Toen M. en ik deze morgen onbijt gingen zoeken, zag ik uit mijn ooghoek een krantenkop.
“Terrorists Paint Mumbai Red”, schreef de Herald. Oftewel: “Terroristen Kleuren Mumbai Rood”.
Ik kocht snel mijn eigen krant, voor 3 rupies en begon te lezen.
Deze krant zegt dat het 80 doden waren en 250 gewonden, sommige andere online bronnen spreken over 78 doden, of 87, sommigen gaan zelfs to 100 – maar de waardegrootte is wel duidelijk.
Van wat ik begrijp, zijn er op het moment dat ik dit schrijf nog steeds mensen die gegijzeld worden. Het voelt allemaal een beetje surreeel aan.

Het vreemde eraan is, als we het reisplan gevolg hadden - zaten we waarschijnlijk nog steeds in Mumbai. We wilden er eerst een week blijven, maar M. had er de pest aan en dus zijn we vroeger vertrokken. We zouden vertrekken aan het oude Victoria station – een van de getroffen plekken. Het Taj hotel, een van de doelwitten, was in dezelfde straat als ons hotel, Harbour View. Het was letterlijk maar een paar stappen verder. We zijn het Taj meermaals gepasseerd, toen we naar de Gateway of India wandelden. We hebben de meeste aangevallen plekken gezien.

De krant hier zegt niets over de identiteit van de daders, maar online kranten vertellen me dat het zou gaan om de Moedjahedien van Deccan. Het rare is; we hebben hier geen TV en we zouden niet van de aanslagen hebben geweten als ik de krant niet had gezien. Dus, voor alle vrienden en dierbaren die deze blog lezen:

Ik ben in orde, maar toch een beetje bang. Goa lijkt wel veilig te zijn. Ik weet niet of dit mijn reisplannen zal of zou moeten veranderen. Ik hou jullie op de hoogte.

(Above – a picture I took of the Taj Hotel a few days / Boven: een foto die ik een paar dagen geleden van het Taj Hotel heb genomen.)

Ps: B., I know you are reading this – please try to calm down my family, I know they will be going nuts. I miss you more than ever. I hope to get back to you in one piece, and I will try calling you when you are awake <3.

zondag 23 november 2008

India, Day Two

India, Day Two.

After our brief overnight stay near Mumbai airport, we took a taxi to Mumbai centre. This is about a 20 km drive, which of course did take longer than 20 km in Belgium.
Originally I had intended to drive around in India – I even applied for an international license. But hell, I’m not nearly suicidal enough to do that! Cars in Mumbai are packed so closely together that one wonders how they do not actually hit each other continuously. I think there are about 4 lanes of cars packed on what was originally intended as a three-lane road. However, one cannot be sure, as road markings are virtually non-existant. They don’t really signal with lights either – the only warning to other road users is perpetual honking.
Safety belts, of course, are optional – as are helmets. This is worth mentioning, as a lot of people actually use a motorcycle as transportation. We saw entire families on one motorcycle – mom, dad, a baby or two – all without helmet of course.
They would get instantly arrested in Belgium, but it seems to be perfectly fine here. We did actually see one car being stopped by the police, and one really wonders what exactly you have to do wrong to get a ticket in Mumbai, or how the cops even notice someone did something in that giant anthill of cars.

There was no airco, which wasn’t too bad, since the open windows let in a pleasant breeze while driving. The scents interchange between the pleasant scent of incense and a foul rotting smell, as a lot of trash does end up on the street. And in a country as hot as India, decomposition sets in fairly quickly, certainly on foodstuffs.
Mumbai is strange, skyscrapers followed by slums, followed by some more decent housing and monumental colonial buildings like the Victoria station to boot.

Before my trip, a lot of people told me the poverty there was quite appalling – and that is quite true. We saw a lot of people living on the street; whole families in fact. On a human level, it is quite a culture hock. We really do not know how good we have it. On an objective level, however, Mumbai is a fascinating city of contrasts. We were only there briefly, but it seems diverse as well, as we saw both Hindus and Muslims – no, it seems they have not all moved to Pakistan.

Upon arriving at our destination, a small lodge M. found in her Lonely Planet guide, we got a bit of a shock. The residence was being renovated, and we couldn’t stay the night there. Serves us right for not booking, I suppose. M. was dragged off by some people trying to get us to sleep at their place. You see – it’s all about money, and competition. Foreigners are thought to have money – so everyone wants to make money on them. I was waiting on the street, watching the bags – a bit lost. M. was gone for quite a while and I was entertaining some Indians that were rather curious about tourists. I was actually starting to get worried when M. finally returned, describing all the places she had seen as ‘closets’ – rooms with no windows and a hole in the ground for a toilet. She said she suspected some of these rooms were actually somebody’s living room – that they were trying to make money any way they could. She then disappeared with some other people, coming back with the same result: the places she had seen the second time were not places she’s like to stay in either.

We then upgraded to a fancier hotel, Hotel Harbour View, which was slightly out of M’s budget – about 50 euro per night per room (apparently you pay per room here, not per person).
However, it did live up to its name – it had a lovely terrace, from which you could see the harbour. If you looked slightly sideways, you could see the Gateway of India.
I have actually seen it in my dreams, before I even knew it existed – strange, maybe some weird subliminal thing.
There was also food served at the hotel terrace – and it was rather good. Later that day we walked down to the Gateway. There were a lot of beggars there. The beggar situation is a bit unpleasant – thing is, you could probably spare a few coins, and they do need it – but if you give money to one of them, they just swarm you, apparently.

We went down to a nearby beach – paying triple the normal price for a taxi, as we later found out. The beach was not so impressive, and dirty by our standards. However, there was a nice view of the Mumbai skyline. We attracted the attention of a young kid, who didn’t seem to be a beggar, just someone who found westerners quite funny and strange. There was this curious guy who followed us for a while, I’m still not exactly sure why. We also passed some teenage boys who were playing in the sea, and yelled "I love you" at us. This made M. roll her eyes, but I actually thought it was hilarious.

Since there was not that much to see, we returned to the hotel and had dinner on the terrace there, which was rather nice. I had chicken Madras and M. had some vegetarian thing made of lentils, I believe. We both drank some lassi - that is a dairy drink, for the record, not a drink made out of dogjuice.

Oh, bonus: this hotel had toilet paper. Most hotels don’t: it is luxury product here. So we didn’t have to go out to buy it, at least. M. went to bed early that day, I took the opportunity to use the Internet and reassure B. and the parents.

I had one more drink on the terrace, talked a bit with the reception guy, took a shower and went to bed clean, at least. And thus concludes Day 2.

India, Day One


Day one of the India adventure.

I left home at about 1:30 AM. My flight wasn’t until 7:15, however I was never one for getting up very early, and I would have had gotten up at about 4 to be at the airport at 5. Besides the fact that I am actually quite bad at getting up I didn’t have anyone to bring me to the airport at such an ungodly hour. So I decided to pull an all-nighter.
B. was so kind as to lose at least some sleep over me, as he was the one who brought me to the airport, where he managed to get some Starbucks coffee. Currently the stand at the airport is the only Starbucks in Belgium. Not that I am so very bothered about that – I don’t actually drink the coffee stuff.

After B. left to get some much needed sleep, I wandered around a bit, ended up drinking overpriced hot chocolate at Starbucks anyway, and read the first chapter of The Selfish Gene. Before I knew it, M. arrived, dropped off by a friend (she did find a victim willing to get up so early).
We first traveled from Brussels to London Heathrow, a fairly short flight. In London we got some snacks and some rest.

Upon boarding to Mumbai I got a curious surprise – I had been promoted to business class. I am still not quite sure why, but my theory is the following: M. had booked the flight under some special promotion – I booked about two months later and paid about 200 euros more. What I didn’t know, however, is that British Airways has some sort of class between economy and business – comfort class I believe. I had inadvertedly booked comfort class – probably because there wasn't any economy class left on that flight at the time.
However, I'm guessing that comfort class got overbooked too, and I ended up in business. This meant M. and I were not going to sit together – but I was going to travel in style. (I hope she doesn’t hate me too much for it).
I’ll tell you: I could get used to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. We actually got a food menu we could chose from, a personal entertainment system and seats that were basically cushy cocoons of comfort. I actually spent most of the flight sleeping, because I was absolutely shattered from staying up all night. Near the end of the flight (which was about 8 hours long) I watched Brideshead Revisited, which technically has been revisited twice over since it used to be a series. It’s basically ye olde bisexual movie with a whole bunch of English nostalgia and a truckload of Catholic guilt. Oh well, I saw it for free anyway…

We arrived at Mumbai airport shortly before 1 AM on the 19th, local time. Our luggage took some time to arrive, and we worried that something might have gone wrong on the transfer from Brussels to London. But it arrived eventually, late but intact.
I even still got to change some currency at the airport, which was a lovely bonus. Upon exiting the airport, I briefly thought the whole event was going to end like a bad soap series: M’s ex, whom she was going to travel with originally, actually showed up there. However, M. made it rather clear she wanted nothing more to do with him, and fortunately our pick-up from the hotel was already there. It was only a short drive to our hotel, Highway Residency, and the car smelled pleasantly of incense. I was quite content to have arrived. Our hotel was basic, but clean and comfortable.

And that, we would later learn, is certainly not an evident thing in India…

maandag 17 november 2008

India, here I come

This post will be shorter than I'd like it to be - in a perfect world it would have been filled with thoughts on the journey, and stories about how long it took to get everything in order. However, I still have a giant pile of underwear that I have to classify in "will be coming along" and "will not be coming along".
That, and I really have no clue where my summer socks went. I think they were stolen by garden gnomes, or at least hidden by my mother. See, in my mind my mother has this intricate psychosocial experiment where she hides something of mine, and I have to spend hours or even days or weeks trying to find the hidden object.When the lost object is found, she does it with a new object and the cycle starts anew. On bad days this even involves several objects at the same time! She, of course, calls this sophisticated form of psychological torture "cleaning up".

Anyway, I still have a bunch to do before I leave. On some level, I'll never be quite "ready". One can take precautions, but really, when travelling for a month anything can happen. I just hope for the best. I've never been anywhere in Asia, so I gather culture shock will hit me quite hard. That, and the heat. And the jetlag.

Opinions on my journey have been divided - from being the opportunity of a lifetime, to coming home in a casket. I shall very much try to avoid the latter.
I have no idea if or how I'll be able to reach anyone once I'm there, but I'm hoping this blog can become a travel blog, at least for a while.

So, I'll keep you posted....I hope!

vrijdag 7 november 2008

Work, Boobies, & Geriatric Roadrage (a week report)

I've had a rather curious week. This in itself is not unusual, because I manage to get myself into weird situations without even trying. However, most of this wasn't even my fault.

It started on Monday, when I was going to meet the girl who's going to replace me at work. Why do I need to be replaced, you ask? Well, that in itself is a bit of a story. Long story short : I'm going to India for a month.
This came to be because I thought the work project would only last until the end of September - or at the very last the end of October - so when my friend M. mentioned she was going to India, I actually started looking for ways to come along. Since it apparently was not too late to get a seat on her flight and a visum....well, India here I come.

Of course, the thing is, the project at work is not quite finished and has been prolonged a little. By a little I mean several months. And this is how it came to be that they need a replacement for me.
My replacement is a psychology graduate (or like one of my colleages says : a psychopathy graduate) who shouldn't be doing silly administrative jobs any more than I should, but apparently the so-called economical crisis can be felt on the job market.

Now to add to the visual image : The young lady came to take a job interview of sorts, along with two guys from the agency that recruited her. Now here's the twist...one of these guys...is my dad.
Not many people at work know this, at least not from me, as it isn't something I'm particularily proud of. But I digress.

Back to the interview: The unfortunate choice of location for this event was the porn room.. Well, it's not called that, of course, but that's what I call it in my head. It is, as a meantioned in an earlier blog, the place where field-working guys from our company eat. However this little messhall has some a particular wall decoration: namely posters of naked women. There's also some particular literature to be found on the tables. And I don't even mean Playboy or Penthouse: no, there's stuff of a slightly more seeedy and hardcore variety. As I mentioned before, I find this mildly amusing. It's also slighly surreal.

Imagine this scene: I'm sitting in between my dad and the replacement. Sitting across the table from us were my boss and my dad's colleague. Myself and my replacement had excellent view of some nudie posters (there isn't a direction you can face where there isn't excellent view) and my dad ended up sitting right next to a magazines that had headlines such as "I like semen" and "I like to be banged hard".
And while imagining this, keep in mind this is a job interview. Also keep in mind, the girl actually took the job.
See, I want to capture this moment. And I want to play it in my head every time I hear the word "surreal". Oh, and if at all possible : I never want to discuss it with my father.

So, that was another thrilling Monday. Tuesday was more calm. I booked a hotel in Mumbai, so we'll have a bed and a roof over our heads for the first night we're in India, as we'll be arriving after midnight local time. I don't exactly feel like running around trying to find a hotel at the spot. And these people have airport pick-up. Of course the owner insists on calling me "Sir" in his e-mails. I wonder if he just uses the title in a unisex fashion, of if he'll be very surprised to find two girls at the airport.

Yesterday I went shopping. Christmas shopping one could say. As I'll only come back from India on the 17th of December, I might not hve much time when I come back. I also went and bought some new underwear, as I'm very particular about what I will and will not wear, and it's hard to find that where I live - let alone in India I suppose.

When I was walking home fom the shopping trip, something hit my hand and my shopping bags with a considerable thud. It took me a few moments to realise that I had actually been hit by a car! Looking back on it, I was lucky to be holding some bags ,because otherwise my hand might have taken more damage.
Oh, and what's worse : the guy in the car didn't even stop and just went to park his car further down my street. I cought up with him : it was a geriartic case with glasses and an equally mummified wife. When I suggested to him he might try to be more careful driving, he actually got very mad and rude towards me. Obviously I called the cops, who are lazy as usual, and told me not much can be done unless a doctor can actually prove I've been hurt (which isn't really the case, and if it were I still don't know if I'd like to invest time in it.)

However, I'll say it here. If you come across a burgundy car with the Belgian number plate CBZ-943, RUN, they are geriatric road pirates!

So this is how I conclude this week's events in my personal life. This weekend I'll be in Monschau, Germany, for the Mensa weekend. I'll let you know if some stories can be told about that...

vrijdag 31 oktober 2008

Know Thyself

After long deliberation...

Deep thought...

Philosophical pondering...

B. and I have come to the conclusion that "when we run out of condoms, we watch an art movie".

Yup, that's who we are. Nothing earth shattering. Probably not even interesting for other people, and not nearly as funny as it is in my head.

So I mostly wrote this down for myself, so I wouldn't forget.

(Ehm, sorry about this post, my sugar bun, my evil twin made me do it.)

Hooked on Heroes

(This blog contains minor spoilers)

I have recently started watching Season 3 of Heroes on BBC 2. The Beeb usually airs things earlier than Belgian TV AND the big bonus is that there are no annoying commercial breaks: TV as it should be.

I have not really been all that impressed with most new series for the last few years. Sure, I like the occasional 24 or Prison Break, but I can pretty much live without it.
Heroes is one of the few series I was truly excited about, alongside the new Doctor Who, which I really started liking after it was revamped by Russell T. Davies.

First and foremost Heroes is a geek feast. It has many references to other comics/series/movies that we adore, yet it makes sure not to be plagiarism. The most obvious parallel, of course, is with Marvel’s X-Men.
I think the character of Hiro Nakamura(who is a comic book geek himself), actually even calls Shadowcat/Kitty Pryde by name once.
And then of course there is the comic book within the series, 9th Wonders, that is clearly appealing to the comic book fans.
But there are smaller, more subtle references to other oeuvres, such as calling the man who has the ability to become invisible Claude Rains.
Season 3 has some clear references to The Fly, but I’ll let you figure out for yourself where that is.

References aside, I loved the show from the start because it’s visually very dynamic and does interesting things with characters. Besides having these great super powers, the characters are fundamentally human, and fundamentally flawed.
I like how some people have powers contradictory to their nature. Such as Claire being the unbreakable yet petite teenage girl, Linderman being the crime boss who has the power to heal, or Hiro, who can control time and space, while still being geeky and clumsy.
The storytelling is sound, and even manages to weave in time travel fairly well. It also tends to have a bunch of twists that make things more interesting.

I think Heroes, alongside with other series/films about people with superpowers, calls out to something deep within us. It raises questions like: Is this really all that we are, as a species, or can we become more? Where is humanity going? What’s the next step in our evolution?
While decades of sci-fi have been about the “what if” of scientific evolution – cyborgs, spaceships, futuristic weapons – the new generation of sci-fi is more often playing on the “what if” of human evolution. This is in a way even more disconcerting – and exciting – because we are, literally, going further than skin-deep. It’s being taken to our very core: our DNA.

In any case, I'm not the only person loving it, because after 3 seasons Heroes is still going strong.
While I didn’t find Season 2 to be as stunning as Season 1, there is in fact much to be liked about Season 3: Villains.
True to its name, it sheds more light on the role of the “bad guy”, and shows that all is not black and white. Moralities are explored, and glimpses of the future show us that today’s hero might be tomorrow’s villain, and vice versa.

Without being too spoilerific: Season 3 tells us much more about the character of Sylar. We learn that his “hunger” for other people’s powers is in fact part of his ability. Claire is going through a personality change that is both interesting and scary to see, and Mohinder…well, let’s just say Mohinder stops being goody two-shoes quite dramatically.

See, my hands are itching to write spoilers, but I won’t – I rather hate it when I read them myself.

I want to see more! Is it Wednesday yet?

dinsdag 28 oktober 2008

What would MacGyver do?

Just a short little blogpost, because I quickly wanted to share something funny I found on the world wide web. This is now my desktop, ladies and gentlemen. I have stooped to toilet humour...and I'm loving it.

For the record, I did not make this image and in no way have a claim to it. It's just something I liked and I wanted to show to my friends. I don't know who the author is, I found it on The Comic Forums.

It also brings back memories.

I loved MacGyver .
I stayed up until 10pm to watch MacGyver.
I yawned in class because of MacGyver.
I annoyed teachers because of MacGyver.
I made other kids jealous by watching MacGyver .
I was a rebel because of MacGyver!

Of course, I was 10 when I watched MacGyver.

Darn, it used to be much easier to be a rebel back then.

F.A.C.T.S. 2008

I am a bad blogger. I do a lot of stuff, after which I’m tired, and end up not blogging. When I’m not tired, of course, I usually do not have much to blog about. At least nothing recent. So the post that is about to follow should in fact have been posted (and more importantly, should have been written) about two weeks ago. But let’s disregard that fact for now.

Every now and then I choose to unleash my inner geek. Well, every now and then has become exponentially more often since I met B. We have some sort of mutual geek influence going on. So, once again,‘t was the time of the year to be jolly. Or rather, it was the time that the city of Ghent became geek central again for two days: F.A.C.T.S. 2008.

I have been to F.A.C.T.S. 2006, and quite enjoyed it. It was the closest thing to a convention that I’ve ever been to. Apparently it was famous enough to draw quite a crowd even two years ago – because it drew not just people from neighbouring cities, but people from neighbouring countries.
I sadly missed F.A.C.T.S. 2007, to go to the Mensa weekend in Daverdisse. Going to the weekend does score me geek points on another level, but it’s not quite the same. On the bright side, that is where I met B. However, that is another story.

Now back to the geek stuff. F.A.C.T.S. stands for Fantasy - Anime - Comics - Toys - Science-Fiction. So imagine that crowd. I usually go there because it’s sci-fi and comic book paradise, but there’s something for everyone.

Of course there’s the obligatory Star Wars and Trekkie stuff. There are a lot of statuettes, books, posters and various memorabilia to be grabbed. You have (semi-)celebrities signing pictures - for a fee - but apparently some people are willing to pay for it.
We caught a glimpse of Richard Hatch, better known as Tom Zarek in the new Battlestar Galactica.

There were a bunch of games to be bought there, both second-hand and new. This always interests B., and I must admit I’ve also been getting into gaming again. There were also some games to be tried out, but with a place as crowded as that, we didn’t really get to play. I’m not much of a wait-in-line person anyway.

And then of course there is the cosplayer crowd. For those who don’t know: cosplayers (from: costume players) are people who dress up as (their favourite) characters. From what I understand, it originated in the manga and anime community – but it has spread to (Western) comic book, movie and television characters.

I think some of my friends still silently believe I dress up as an elf or something on weekends. I don’t. However some costumes really are very nice. There was a rather impressive General Grievous costume – a huge contraption with a human being in it. The manga boys and girls (and sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which) are generally quite pleasing to the eye. Some have built huge replicas of weapons. By huge I mean they’re sometimes bigger than the person wielding it.
I saw a Mystique walking around, which is impressive, since you have to be, well, all blue. Same for the Aayla Secura I saw.
Anyway, it’s really a feast for your eyes, if you’re into to whole people watching thing. You can bump into life-size remote controlled R2 units, or watch some Jedi knights jump around on a Dance Dance Revolution.
Oh, and did I mention scantily clad barbarians?

I’m still not inclined to dress up though. And If I would – it would have to look impressive.
I did get a handmade neko (cat) skull hat and a kitsune (fox) hat from a Japanese dude from San Francisco. So, I can look like a geeky idiot in wintertime now. A unique geeky idiot even, since the guy doesn’t usually sell his stuff in Belgium.

The rest of my loot was mostly comic books. I haven’t read them all yet. Mostly because I still haven’t finished Persepolis, which I got for my birthday from B., and the copy of Watchmen that I borrowed from him. The only thing that I have read by now is Marvel’s Poptopia, a comic that I might write a few words about on this blog. Hopefully soon!

As for F.A.C.T.S. – two days was not nearly enough time to spend there. I’m planning to go back next year, so that Mensa weekend better not be planned then, you hear?

Oh, and below you can see one of my silly headgear thingies :

vrijdag 10 oktober 2008

Silly Things I Do

When I was in elementary school, I had a classmate who was rather forgetful. “If your head wasn’t attached so firmly to your body, you’d forget it at home, too”, the teacher used to say. The same teacher used to send me to the lavatory soon after my arrival, right after he asked: “So did you have chocolate milk again this morning?” . Meaning I had forgotten – or simply not cared about - wiping my mouth off.

Many years have passed since then, yet I have never quite mastered the art of getting chocolate milk off my face. I have also reached levels of forgetfulness that my previously mentioned classmate could only dream of.

Often I kind of envision myself as a nutty distracted cartoon professor figure. This image of myself is probably entirely in my head, since to unsuspecting onlookers I am by
far not nearly enough into science, too young, the wrong gender, and haven’t really had any instances of having my hair stand up after electrocution. This is not because I haven’t been electrocuted, mind you – I have been at least twice. It has more to do with my hair being long and not really prone to stand up straight, electrocuted or not.

Yesterday wasn’t really a case of forgetfulness in the strict sense of the word – fortunately, or I’d have to explain why I had forgotten my security pass for the third time.
No, I went to work quite normally, yet in the car I noticed something was off. My jacket felt kind of weird on my arms while turning the steering wheel. Then, of course, I noticed it wasn’t my jacket at all. I had gone out in my boyfriend’s jacket. Now in my defense – they’re both black, the same material and apparently a similar size. The latter being mostly because I wear my clothes quite tightly, because in size I’m somewhat taller and quite a bit broader than my beloved. Fortunately, however, I didn’t tear the bloody thing and was able to return it safely to its owner.

And I live to be a moron for another day.

dinsdag 7 oktober 2008

Beverly Hills 90210

Soms, heel soms - zie je een tekst waarvan je weet dat de schrijver er plezier mee heeft gehad.
Onlangs gelezen op : "Orale seks in Beverly Hills 90210 schiet in verkeerde keelgat".

Ach, wat voel ik me weer lekker puberaal.

dinsdag 26 augustus 2008

Try something new! How about an armed robbery?

It was B and I’s 7 month anniversary. Of course, I only realised this in retrospect. We had in fact both forgotten it, which all in all is not a big problem. It’s only annoying if one person forgets and the other goes on a guilt trip about how forgetting this ever-so-important date must signify a lack of love.

But I digress.

We went to a snooker place in Ghent with one of B’s friends. They’re both regulars there, but we ended up chatting, not playing snooker. The waitress, Betty, was an old acquaintance of the boys. In fact the term “waitress” doesn’t do her justice – while she doesn’t own the place, she basically runs it.

It was already quite late – or quite early, depending on your view – about a quarter to 1 in the morning. I heard a noise behind me, and noticed two men rushing in from the front door towards the bar. We were sitting at a table further away, not at the bar itself. I paid no attention to it at first. About two minutes later I heard some shuffling again, and I saw the two men at the door. Well, I only really saw one of them, as the other one was standing mostly behind the first, from where I was sitting. I only saw him for a second or so, but something rang a bell in my head, saying not all was right there. While he was partially facing me, I couldn’t see any of his face, as there was something covering his head. I don’t even know why, but I focused on his left hand. He was clutching a handgun, the kind one sees in American action movies. I had never actually seen one in real life.

Of course the men were gone before I could react, and the next thing I recall was Betty running into sight and stating something along the lines of: “That was a robbery”.

Thing is, I wasn’t shocked. Or scared. There was just a feeling of complete surrealism, like I had just seen a pink elephant sit down next to me and had seen it ordering a beer to boot. You see, Ghent is supposed to be a rather safe city. I studied in Brussels, which isn’t very safe. I live in a part of Antwerp that doesn’t really have a good name. I’ve been harassed up to a certain point – but I’ve never, ever, seen a gun. Guns, like space aliens, are only supposed to exist in Hollywood movies. Now you may find this a very naïve view on life, and of course I’m not stupid enough to think there are no guns in Belgium – but it’s just not part of the world that I live in.

Of course, the real circus only started afterwards. Soon the place was crawling with police and all of us had to give a statement. It was a rather long night, and I had a throat ache that was getting worse. Still, it’s an interesting experience. And it shed some light on how hard it is to actually give a truthful statement. It’s very hard to remember everything you’ve seen in a blink of an eye.
Afterwards the cops even made pictures to register how exactly we were sitting and a forensic expert was let loose to search for fingerprints.

We stayed on a bit longer, to keep Betty company. Some time before dawn I started feeling too ill to stay, and we left for B’s place.

A few days later we got a call from Victim’s Support, which we both gracefully declined. No trauma there. Just a slight shift in my worldview, which might not be for the better.

From what I know, they haven’t caught them yet. That’s slightly disconcerting – the fact that they’re still running loose.
As for me, I gained an experience. And I did tell B that we should do things that aren’t routine. Well, I guess this qualifies as “not routine”.

So….I wonder what’s up for next month. Apocalypse, anyone?

donderdag 14 augustus 2008

Two for the road

I am a notoriously bad reader.

This, actually, is a rather curious thing. I was the first in my class to read and write, in fact it stood out so much that my mom was told I could skip the last year of kindergarten and go straight to first grade. Fortunately, she did ask me my opinion, and I preferred to stay with my friends rather than to read and write more.

While I had acquired the skill early, one could say it never grew on me. One thing remained through elementary school, high school and higher learning : I only ever read stuff if I absolutely had to. One exception on this rule were the one or two books I read during summer break, usually while on a plane, in a car, or near a pool. I usually regretted reading in cars, because it makes me nauseous. The other exception were comic books, or as one should say more respectfully : graphic novels.

I'm not really sure what my problem with reading is. I'm not dyslexic, or so the experts say, even though I do keep switching letters and misreading stuff. Sometimes this leads to humor only I can understand. While other people read an article about sinking stocks, mine is really about stinking socks - which is far more amusing for someone who is as easily amused as myself.
However, this weird switching apparently is not dyslexia, but should be linked to some "mild concentration problem" that they have not really diagnosed yet.
Thing is, large chunks of black text almost frighten me. I notice the parts that are not printed upon just as much, and I'm distracted as they run over the pages like little white rivers. Not to mention that every sound I hear makes me have to go back and reread the last two sentences. And there are a lot of sounds in the world.

This is a problem, because I do rather like fiction. Quite a lot. So my little reading problem has driven me to film, but also to the medium of comic books. The first time I actually really got into them was because of Star Wars. As a young girl, I was completely enamoured with the original trilogy and I jumped on the possibility of reading new stories with my favourite characters.
And thus I stumbled upon a writing form that was a revelation to me. You could read it like a book, it even had that pleasant paper smell - but the illustrations were beautiful, they spoke to me - and they were nowhere near as scary as monumental blocks of black text. So at 13 - an age that most girls give up on comic books - I started reading avidly.

I did so for years, until my mom moaned it was a far too expensive hobby, and I stopped reading. I only really started again once I had a job - and my own money.

When we left for Cyprus this year - we being my parents, my boyfriend and me - I fell back to an old tradition: I brought along some novels. Graphic novels.

Lately I've been experimenting. On of the things I've been reading was American Virgin by Vertigo.. American Virgin was a rather atypical buy for me. I'm usually much more into sci-fi and superheroes. But American Virgin caught my eye, first of all because of the covers (yes, I'm guilty, I like male eye-candy). I asked my comic book salesman about it and he recommended it (thank you, Peter).

The book tells the the story of a young preacher, Adam, who preaches sexual abstinence to young kids. However, his life gets turned upside down when his fiancée is murdered while in Africa.
The search for what really happened to her brings him - literally and figuratively - to places he's never been before. What follows is an exploration of culture, morality, sexuality and the human heart. And while the book may lead you into African bachelor huts, gay bars, and sex parties - it never leads you into vulgarity. That being said, this is not really you want your dad to read (which is why I I quickly muttered something about me not being finished when he asked if he could borrow it).

So far I've read four out of five bundles: Head, Going Down, Wet, and Around the World. I'm yet to get my hands on Sixty-Nine. Yep, I think someone was going for suggestive titles there.

The other title I was reading was Anita Blake : Guilty Pleasures, a Marvel adaptation of one of the novels by Laurell K. Hamilton. I'd noticed the name of Anita Blake before, mostly in the days that I still read and wrote fan fiction.
While the book does have some male eye-candy again (I swear, I do actually read other stuff too!), some of it is mildly disappointing. The plot is not truly thrilling. The atmosphere is good and the darker drawing style is suited to the story. It does draw you in after a while. What bothered me were Anita's "thoughts" that are unfortunately very much splattered all over the pages in little- and not so little- blocks. While I can see the appeal of a film noir-esque narrating style, this is just too much. I like it when a story is told by action, not thought. Sometimes it's just annoying, long-threaded girlie prose. And sentences like "Luther is overweigh,t over fifty, chain smokes and yet he's never sick" would work much better if they where left out altogether, and the book would just show an old, fat, smoking guy. Which it does. Only there's text to boot. And frankly, the whole vampire-slayer-who-digs-a-vampire is so very last century (Buffy, anyone?). I might give it another go though, let's see if anything interesting happens.

Now, in the meantime, I think I'll temporarily steal the boyfriend's copy of Watchmen.

dinsdag 15 juli 2008


Nederlandse versie

De regering is aan het vallen, maar laten we het hebben over meer interessante zaken: Het is vandaag precies een half jaar geleden dat B. het in zijn kop had gekregen om mij te kussen. Wel, dat was het om 4 uur ’s ochtends welbepaald, toen hij nog te weinig remmingen had om het te laten en ik te moe was om teveel na te denken over gevolgen.

Nu ja, misschien in er context nodig. Ik kende B. al een aantal maanden, sinds oktober 2007, toen we elkaar leerden kennen op een “gastronomisch” weekend in in de Ardennen, georganiseerd door mensen die ik hier niet bij naam ga noemen...

Hij heeft me blijkbaar voor het eerst gezien bij een introductieles lachyoga, een redelijk genant experiment dat ik in de toekomst niet snel zal herhalen. Ik herinner me niet meer dat hij daar was, hij herinnert zich dat ik er niet echt lacherig uitzag.

Op een of andere manier is hij erin geslaagd om de volgende dag met mij aan tafel te zitten. Er volgde veel onnozele humor over eikels. Het is beter om hier niet over uit te wijden. Nu, toen was er wel een klein obstakel. Ik was toen nog samen met mijn ex. Uiteraard is dit voor sommige mensen geen obstakel, maar laten we ervan uitgaan dat we nog een zekere graad van moraliteit hadden.

We zijn daarna nog in contact gebleven. Ik ben voor hem zelfs terug op MSN gekomen, waar ik normaal een hekel aan had (ik ben een IRC-mens).

Fast forward een paar maanden. Nieuwjaar 2008: het memorabele nieuwjaarsfeest waar ik met zowel mijn ex als B. naartoe ben gegaan. (Kayelleke + 2 – ach, ik ben nooit echt conventioneel geweest). En ergens op die avond een kussengevecht dat toch erg seksueel geladen was.

Ongeveer een week later maakte mijn ex het met me uit, na bijna 4 jaar, via het internet dan nog wel. Eigenlijk nog passend ook, omdat we op het internet begonnen waren. Kwade tongen zullen zeggen dat hij het heeft uitgemaakt omdat hij jaloers was, maar laat ze maar praten, wij weten zelf wel beter.

Ik ben in die week nadat mijn ex het had uitgemaakt veel bij B. blijven slapen. Héééél cliché eigenlijk, gaan uithuilen bij een vriend. Nu ja, niet letterlijk huilen. Dat doe ik toch alleen als geen kat het ziet. Maar ik had er nood aan om niet alleen te zijn.
We hebben ons best wel geamuseerd in die week. We hebben uren zitten praten – over de wereld, over evolutie, over mensen en over heel veel onnozele dingen. En onnozele dingen heb ik zeker gedaan, zoals toen ik heb per ongeluk redelijk pornografisch materiaal liet zien uit de Nacht van de Wansmaak. En toch liep hij niet weg....

En een week nadat het uit was met mijn ex, ergens rond 4 uur ’s nachts, kreeg mijnheer het dus in zijn kop om mij te kussen. Met enorme verwarring tot gevolg, aan beide kanten. Die nacht hadden we uiteindelijk besloten om te wachten. We waren in de dagen die erop volgden nog naar Leuven gegaan voor een voordracht over de verschillen tussen mannen er vrouwen – hilarisch eigenlijk, omdat we beiden niet echt het rolvoorbeeld van stereotiepe gedragingen zijn. We hebben ’s nachts nog zitten praten – in een frietkot, of all places – waar hij me de redenen uitlegde waarom hij wel een goed vriendje zou zijn en ik hem waarschuwde voor alle redenen waarom hij het niet lang met me zou uithouden.
Toen we twee dagen later samen naar de film gingen, zijn we gestopt met “wachten”. Ons fameuze wachten heeft welgeteld 4 dagen geduurd. En zie hier...we houden het al een half jaar samen uit. Twee mensen die allebei zeer slecht zijn in relaties. De wonderen zijn de wereld nog niet uit.....

English version

The government is falling, but let’s talk about more interesting stuff. Today it’s been exactly six months since B. got it in his head to kiss me. Wel, that was at 4 in the morning to be more exact, when he was left with little inhibitions and I was too tired to really contemplate the consequences.

Well, perhaps some context is needed here. I had known B. for a few months, since October 2007, when we met on a “gastronomical” weekend in the Ardennes, organized by people who will remain unnamed here.

Apparently he first spotted me at an introduction class for laughing yoga, a fairly embarrassing experiment that I shall not repeat in the foreseeable future. I don’t remember him being there, he remembers me not being very jolly.

One way or another, he managed to sit next to me at the dinner table the following day. Much silly humor about acorns ensued. Trust me, it’s better not to go into detail. However, there was this small obstacle. I was still together with my ex then. Obviously this is not an obstacle for some people, but let’s assume we still had a certain degree of morality left.

Afterwards we remained in contact with each other. I even came back to MSN because of him, which I normally hate (I’m an IRC-person).

Fast forward to a couple of months later. New Year’s Eve 2008: the memorable New’s Year’s bash to which I went both with my ex as with B. (Kayelle + 2, oh well, I’ve never been all that conventional). And somewhere that night there was a pillow fight that was rather sexually charged.

About a week later my ex broke up with me, after about 4 years, through the internet to boot. Actually it was kind of fitting, since we had started out on the internet. Malicious gossips will probably say he broke up with me because he was jealous, but let them talk – we know better.

In the week that followed the breaking up thing, I stayed over at B’s place a lot. Veeeeeery cliché actually, your friend being a shoulder to cry on. Well, it wasn’t literally crying. I do that when no-one’s looking. But I needed the company. We had a lot of fun that week. We talked for hours – about the world, about evolution, about people and a lot of silly stuff. And silly things I sure did, like when I accidentally showed him some fairly pornographic material from Nacht van de Wansmaak (Night of Bad Taste). And still he didn’t run away…

So a week after my ex had broken up with me, at about 4 A.M., B. got it in his head to kiss me. Terrible confusion ensued for both parties involved. That night we decided to wait.
In the days that followed, we went to Leuven to see a lecture about the differences between men and women – hilarious, actually, since neither of us are a role model for stereotypical behaviour. We talked a lot again that night – in a snack food place, of all places – where he explained to me the reasons why he’d make a good boyfriend and I explained the reasons why he wouldn’t put up with me for very long.
When we went to see a movie together two days later, we stopped “waiting”. Our waiting had lasted for exactly 4 days. And look…we’ve been putting up with each other for half a year. Two people who’re rather bad at relationship. There are still some miracles left in the world…

maandag 7 juli 2008

Bye Bye, Baskerville

This is old news. However, it is news that rather affected me. On june 30th, my dear doggy Baskerville passed away. Now, the name Baskerville was a bit of a joke. He was a small crossbreed, nowhere near dangerous. It was hard to see his eyes most of the time - he was a huge ball of curls and the front side rather resembled the back side.

Anyway, on the morning of June 30th we called the vet because the dog was swollen and refused to walk. The vet told us his heart was giving out and that his body was filling up with fluids because circulation was failing. So we decided to put him to sleep, because letting him die like that would just be cruel.

Incidentally, June 30th was also my boyfriend's 3oth birthday. (I shall henceforth refer to the boyfriend as B., since it's rather silly to keep up coming up for alternatives for the word "boyfriend").
This is a fairly typical example of the mess that is my life - death and celebration of life in one bloody day. I couldn't write this shit if I wanted to.

To add to the general feeling of coincidental cosmic nuttyness, I managed to kick B's computer and it apparently stopped working. This was when I was at his flat alone and was trying pleasingly arrange his B-day gifts. One of the gifts in fact was a bowl with two fish, which I now believe was definately some sort of compensation for the previous pet-loss. One of the fish later died, and now there is only one poor fishie left. We named it Hercule Poisson. Another gift was a HUGE stuffed frog. He likes frogs. I like mice. Variation is key. And we're both just big kids.

Anyway, the computer later turned out to fine, as I had only dislodged a cable somewhere, but I was still a bowl of nerves by then. I pretty much celebrated the evening by getting more drunk than I've ever been. Which in fact is not at all drunk, as I nearly never drink. I was just a bit more...exhuberant. I suppose alcohol doesn't really work for me. Still : violet flavoured gin is pretty nice. I'll leave it at that.

zondag 4 mei 2008

Yikes, I have a job

My absence can be explained by one simple thing: I have been busy. One of the reasons for my lack of free time is that I now have a job, albeit a part-time one. I can now in all honesty say I’m no longer a jobless bum. It’s funny how it came to be, really. I had kind of set my limit for job hunting for 3 months. Reasons being that a) lack of cash is bad for my spending habits and b) doing nothing is bad for my morale. Since I haven’t found what I have been looking for, I just took something that came along (read: something that apparently no-one else wanted to do and yours truly agreed to).

I now work as an administrative monkey for a company that shall remain unnamed, who in their turn work for Bayer – that would be the people who brought you Aspirin.

The job is in the Harbour of Antwerp; I can actually see ships coming in from where I work. I can also see a nuclear plant, so if that blows, well, I’m rather screwed. (Just a side thought: is it just me or does it seem to be a BAD idea to have a nuclear plant right next to your most important river? If there is waste, or an accident, the river can carry it all the way to the sea.)

Anyway, I basically work in a container on a construction site. Occasionally it smells quite badly there. Bonus: I get extra cash for working in a “hazardous environment”. I think I should have gotten a helmet. Not that I really need one, it would just have looked cool. I did get to see their fabulous *cough* security video and now have a super-duper security badge. Yes, I’m all responsible now. Apparently you need to keep your car away from the huge tubes all over the site, because they can leak hazardous materials – like acid. A car is rather required, since there is no public transport available for several kilometers around there. And I don’t want an acid hole in my cute baby car.

Oh, another thing. As far as I know I’m the only female in the company, except for the cleaning lady. Yes, apparently it’s so bad that while signing one of my contracts I saw it said “Mr.”, not “Miss”. Furthermore there is no women’s loo. So every day is an adventure really: will I startle the shit out of peeing men, or won’t I? I have of course found the obligatory collection of naked titties posters. It wasn’t really hard to find – they’re displayed in the canteen. (So apparently food and sex do go together.)

While telling this to friends, I’ve had several people tell me I should sue them for this. Apparently, women have sued companied for less. However I’m not inclined to do so because a) I actually like my co-workers b) they pay me well for the dumb monkey-job I do and c) I find it F***ING HILARIOUS. So I’ll just not sue, and keep you posted. Thank the Gods I’m not American…

woensdag 9 april 2008

Games that really don’t go well together (but I’m going to play anyway)

Since I’m taking advantage of the fact that I’m currently unemployed, I have been finding ways to spend my time. Now of course, shopping is always nice, but not such a bright idea if you have no income.

Long story short: I’ve returned to an old love of mine. Games, that is. Meaning I started using the boyfriend’s X-Box. I started with Carcasonne, which I actually really like as a board game, too.

The heavier stuff came when he bought a copy of Devil May Cry 4.

I decided to give it a go. Now keep in mind, the last time I played with a games console things were still in 2D. Yes, that long ago. I did have some 3D stuff on the Game Boy, but that’s hardly the same. The 3D thing does take a while to get used to, but to my great surprise I didn’t get absolutely slaughtered. I played the game in human mode, which is supposed to be for beginners. There is actually a rather great run through the controls in-game.

I’m still getting used to the game. I’m unsure if it will be in my favourites eventually, but I’m loving the graphics. Besides anatomically bouncy babes, Nero and Dante are actually rather nice as far as male eye-candy goes, so that keeps me happy. Eye-candy aside, the setting is beautiful and the swords are just übercool. The game itself is sometimes a bit of a weird combo between killing things and puzzle-ish things, which imho kind of disturbs the pace of the whole thing. But we’ll see. It looks like I’ve reached addiction level anyway.

Another thing I’ve been playing is a Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team game for the Game Boy. Yes, I know the target group are kiddies. But I always liked the Pokémon games – it appeals to the collector in me. This on is slightly different, because you play as a Pokémon (I’m Torchic). It is a bit more childish than the other versions I played and there is slightly too much talk in it too my liking. Yet I find it strangely charming in some way. So I’ll be playing that, too. And now the door is open for a whole range of new addictions!

Dead Rat Bulging

My ex sent me some interesting pictures recently. Don’t get me wrong, this is not some sort of nasty break-up retaliation. We’re actually chatting on pretty much a friendly basis. He just let me know about the carnage that went on in his house.

Recently he had been terrorized by rats. He actually tried to build a non-lethal trap, but the things didn’t want to be caught in it and ate through the linoleum. Now, I like rats a lot. I actually had one as a pet. But when they start eating your house, action needs to be taken. So he did. Slaughter ensued.

Now the thing that struck me – you know how sometimes in comic books corpses have bulging eyes? – well, this is a dead rat with bulging eyes! Go figure! It’s actually based on fact. Well, I’ll keep this entry short. Enjoy the corpses!



PS: If you really haven't had enough dead rat, here's its dead mommy

zaterdag 5 april 2008

The Science of Vomit

The boyfriend and I went to an Iraqi restaurant in Ghent on Wednesday night. We went, of course, not to bomb the poor people but to broaden our culinary experience. The buffet we had there was indeed an interesting feast for the taste buds. There were some very extraordinary combinations of meat stuffed with what I believe were raisins, pasta and chicken that somehow had an olive taste, and even some foods that I actually had eaten before, like the börek. It was not the greatest meal on earth, but by far one of the most surprising I've had lately. The people serving us were also rather nice, and I suspect the establishment might have been new.

Anyway, the morning after, the boyfriend wakes up from having to vomit. To this day I don't actually know if it was related to the food, or if he just fell ill coincidentally. I was fine in any case, and I ate pretty much all the same things that he did.
Being the strange people that we are, we actually started talking about vomit later that day. In fact, we even took to googling it. And yes, good old Wikipedia actually supplied us with an article all about vomit.

I learned things about the human body that I never really wanted to know. Like the fact that there is such a thing as fecal vomiting. Yes darlings, that would be rather shitty.

But, more interestingly than puking poo, is that there is actually such a thing as the science of vomit. It's called emetology.

Allwords.com descibes it as :The study of the causes of emesis, i.e., vomiting, usually sub-specialities of gastroenterology or neurology.

The fact that it's a sub-speciality is kind of disappointing. I was already imagining the kid that would go up to his or her parents and say: "Mom, dad, I want to study vomit when I grow up. 'Cause frankly, puke makes my heart beat faster."
Now off course there's plenty of jobs that don't really count as things that people want to do passionately. But most of those jobs don't require you going to med school first.
Then again, you could be a highly educated emetophile. I suppose there really is a fetish for everything.

Ah, people - you got to love them. Just sometimes it's safer to love them from a safe distance. Like out of vomiting range.

woensdag 2 april 2008

In vino Veritas

(scroll down for the English thingy)

Een paar dagen geleden wandelde ik over de Vrijdagmarkt in Gent, toen de bovenstaande affiche me in het oog sprong. Ik dacht, wat krijgen we nu? Is dit een affiche van de Vereniging voor Liefhebbers van Pseudo-Hentai met Lesbische Ondertonen? Maar nee, het is de nieuwe reclamecampagne “Hello New Me” van de goede ouwe Veritas. Juist ja, dezelfde Veritas waar onze bomma’s knopen kopen en onze moeders terecht kunnen voor al hun kousebroekwensen. Blijkbaar willen ze zichzelf een nieuw imago aanmeten. Ik hoop voor hun dat hun nieuwe doelgroep nu geile puberjongens zijn. Tienerjongens die van knopen houden.
Ik vind het amusant, maar vermoed dat de mensen van de reclame misschien net iets teveel wijn hebben geconsumeerd...

English version

A few days ago I was walking around on the Vrijdagmarkt in Ghent when the above poster caught my eye. I though, what’s up now? Is this a poster from the Association for the Lovers of Pseudo-Hentai with Lesbian Undertones? No, it’s the new advertising campaign "Hello New Me" from good old Veritas. Yes, that would be the Veritas where our grannies go to buy buttons and our mothers go to have all theirs dreams about tights fulfilled. Apparently they’re going for a new image. I rather hope their new target group are horny teenage boys. Teenage boys who like buttons.
I remain amused, but I suspect that the advertising people might have consumed slightly too much wine…

donderdag 27 maart 2008

Wijvenweek (Nederlands/English)

(scroll down for the English text)


Blijkbaar is het wijvenweek deze week. Het grappige is dat ik er niets van zou hebben afgeweten als mijn vriendje er niets over had gezegd. Ach, het is weer een vrouweninitiatief. Leuk, dus ik ga op hun site kijken. En dan ben ik meteen weer teleurgesteld, vooral als ik de thema’s lees.

Maandag 24 maart: mijn wijflijf
Dinsdag 25 maart: shoppen
Woensdag 26 maart: mannen
Donderdag 27 maart: mijn huishouden
Vrijdag 28 maart: kinderen
Zaterdag 29 maart: wat mannen niet begrijpen
Zondag 30 maart: vrij bloggen/inhaaldag

Excuse me? Can you be more f***ing cliché? Is dit nu écht het enige waar vrouwen over kunnen schrijven: winkelen, venten, huishouden en koters? Waarom gaat het niet eens over ambities, avonturen in andere landen, vreemde hobby’s (ik ken een dame die last, bijvoorbeeld) etc. En dit moet dus empowering zijn?


Maar soit, it zal mijn mond, oftewel mijn pen, oftewel mijn keyboard eens opentrekken. Ik heb een paar dagen overgeslagen, so let’s get right to the point: mijn huishouden.

Ik heb geen huishouden. Ik woon bij mijn ouders. Als de kelder leefbaar was, zou ik er clichématig intrekken, maar voorlopig leef ik in de living. Mijn kamer is onbewoonbaar en dient als opslagruimte. Er leeft vast iets – iets niet menselijk – ik gok op muizen. Ik kan niet koken – als mijn leven er vanaf zou hangen zou dit echt een probleem zijn. Ik ben door de jaren heen gevoederd geweest door mijn oma, mijn ma, mijn ex-lief en een plethora van restaurantjes die dat wel willen doen mits betaling. Het is mijn droom later in mijn eigen huis/appartement/caravan te eten van papieren borden met plastieken bestek dat meteen daarna in de vuilbak verdwijnt. Milieuvriendelijk – not. Maar gemak heeft zijn prijs.

Een paar dagen geleden hielp mijn huidige vriend me mijn – nogal uitgebreide – CD-collectie op te ruimen. En lag zoveel stof op dat ik er braakneigingen van kreeg. Maar soit, na 4 uur zag het er beter uit. Nu nog de rest van mijn spullen (yeah, right). Gelukkig ben ik dus omringd door mensen die wel iets van huishouden afweten. Anders was ik hopeloos verloren.

English version

Apparently it’s “wijvenweek” this week. A week in which women bloggers are encouraged to write about female issues. The funny thing is I wouldn’t have known about it if my boyfriend hadn’t told me. Oh well, looks like a another women’s initiative. Sounds fun, so I had a look at their site – and was instantly disappointed, especially when I read about the themes.

Monday March 24th : my body
Tuesday March 25th: shopping
Wednesday March 26th : men
Thursday March 27th: my household
Friday March 28th: kids
Saturday March 29th: what men don’t understand
Sunday March 30th: free blogging

Excuse me? Can you be more f***ing cliché? Are these really the only things women can write about : shopping, guys, housekeeping and rugrats? Why isn’t it about ambition, adventures in other countries, strange hobbies (I know a lady who does welding, for instance).
And this is supposed to be empowering?


But oh well, I guess I’ll open my mouth, or my pen, or rather my keyboard. I missed a few days, so let’s skip right to the point: my household.

I have no household. I live with my parents. If the basement was habitable, I’d move in, but so far I reside in the living room. My room in not habitable either and serves as storage space. Something probably lives there – something not human – I’m guessing mice.
I can’t cook – if my life would depend on it, that would actually be a problem. Through the years I’ve been fed by my grandmother, mother, ex-boyfriend and a plethora of restaurants that were happy to oblige in exchange for a small fee.
It’s my dream to have paper plates, plastic cups and plastic cutlery in my future
house/apartment/trailer. It just disappears in the trash after your meal. Environmentally friendly it’s not. But comfort has its price.

A few days ago my current boyfriend helped me sort out my – rather large – CD-collection. There was so much dust on it that I wanted to throw up. But oh well, after 4 hours it looked better. Now for the rest of my stuff…(yeah, right!)
So fortunately I’m surrounded by people who do know about housekeeping. Otherwise I’d be hopelessly lost.

I’m Dreaming of a White Easter

Ah…Easter. The time of colourful eggs, bunnies, family foodfests, religious rituals you don’t really know the meaning of …and snow.

Yes, snow! We had a White Easter this year. Television tells me that it has been 57 years since this happened last in these parts. (These parts being Flanders, Belgium.)

Well, we might have to give op on white Christmases, but hey, climate change has given us a new alternative. Going skiing for our Easter holiday, for example.
Since Easter came early this year, our unexpected snowfall also coincided with the beginning of spring.

So perhaps next year, we can just switch seasons. Spring will become winter, summer will become spring, autumn will become summer, and winter autumn. This might get it right for the next few years, until climate switches again and we’ll have new seasons all over again. It keeps things fresh and exciting!

Climate madness aside, I was rather happy to see snow. It’s a pretty sight, despite the timing. I recalled the tale of a Cypriot tour guide, from when a visited a couple of years back. Apparently snow was so rare there, that when it actually snowed, parents would let their kids skip school and take them high op into the hills in the early morning, just so the kids could get a glimpse of what snow actually looked like.

So no, I don’t mind the snow. Nor do I mind the random heat waves. It’s delightfully crazy.

Climate change? Bring it on, baby!

donderdag 20 maart 2008

RIP Hugo Claus

Belgium, or rather Flanders, mourned the loss of the writer Hugo Claus yesterday. The television station Canvas even changed their programming for something one might call a "Hugo Claus Special". I saw part of it, but wasn't really inclined to sit through all of it - though there are worse things to sit through, like sports programs, Flemish soaps, or those ever popular shows where they give a makeover to your house, yourself, your boyfriend, oh hell I'm sure there's some where they restyle your pooch's fur. But I digress.

I'm feeling rather ambiguous about his death, and the media frenzy around it. On one hand, I'd like to say he was overrated, he's being portrayed as the man without whom Flemish literature wouldn't have existed.
I must admit I'm hardly in a position to say so,though. I cunningly made it through high school without having to read any of his books and I was only marginally exposed to some of his poetry. Consider me not a fan.
On the other hand, I'm struck, as a human being, by the man himself. He's always looked somewhat arrogant and artistically interesting on camera - which quite amused me. But mostly, I consider the plight of a writer with Alzheimer's disease. It's somewhat like a pianist losing his hands, or an athlete losing his legs - there's inherently a twistedly ironic human tragedy in it. A writer who has lost his tool for creativity - the ability to form pleasing sentences - suffers a sad fate indeed.
So our acclaimed writer, Hugo Claus, decided to end his own life. He requested euthanasia yesterday, and received it. I had a sort of sad smile on my face when I read he died in the same hospital where I was born. Circle of life and all that.
I have great respect for the man, frankly. He chose how to go and when to go, before his mind was completely gone. Chapeau, as they say here.

So, instead of commenting on all the books that I didn't read, let's stick to something that I can actually say without making up a lot of nonsense: the world is lacking another interesting person as of yesterday.

dinsdag 18 maart 2008

I'm not part of a representative group

Ah, let's just jump right into it, shall we? While I'm on a not-so-exciting journey in search of work, I'm trying to earn a little buck here or there - well, rather a euro here or there, but that is another matter.

An old classmate referred me to Field Quality Control , because he had parttaken in some of their surveys. It's basically a simple concept. Companies want to know how customers will react to a certain product, so they get a selection of relevant test subjects who give their honest opinion about said product. They give you a small fee for your troubles - not much, but hey, it might pay for a t-shirt or DVD.
Anyway, I decide to take a chance and call them up. The phone gets picked up by a sweet girl. One is never sure if these people are actually sweet or just paid to be, but let's give her the benefit of the doubt. She notes down my information, but basically says: "We'll call you if something comes up, but right now you don't belong to any target groups we are looking for."
Of course, this can be coincidence. Perhaps they'll call me next week with three surveys. But somehow I'm dubious. See, here comes the semi-feminist rant.

I suspect it's more that females with two diploma's, no husband, and no children - who aren't even cohabiting, the horror! - are simply not an interesting group, and certainly not one that should be taken into account when testing products. Nope, sir,we want the unschooled types who got knocked up at 20 and have two more kiddies by the age of 27.
Hey, it's not that I don't get it. Capitalism doesn't really care. And it's probable that those three kids make great consumers right from the moment they can form words. "Mommmmie, I want a Barbieeee! *smashes self of floor*"

It's just sad that young, smart, single women (who by all means should have all the potential to have capital as they only have themselves to spend cash on) are not an interesting group for some reason. Hell, apparently, they're not a representative group.

To be honest - I HOPE their excuse is money, because if the good married housewife with kiddies is representative of the ideal, average woman - then let the FSM l stand by us all.