Monthly Archives: November 2015

I don’t care if the world knows what my secrets are…

singing along to Mary Lambert. I had to think about that line for a minute and decide if I did agree with it. Which meant I had to dig further into thinking about what my secrets might be and what would bother me about them being in the open? Then I realized pretty quickly that while thankfully I am not walking around talking about every single thought and emotion I have, I don’t really keep much buried anymore. Sometimes, I have to work a little harder to discover what it is and that can take a while. I wouldn’t classify that as secrets rather as unknown.

Last night I went to the Girl Geek meetup and in addition to all the tech geek topics, we went deep into neural science, conditioning and definitions of feminism. I enjoyed it, 12 or so women, all geeky and all passionate about various topics. I thought that I would only stay for an hour or so but I ended up staying three.

So, if you are of the American variety of the species, Happy Thanksgiving πŸ™‚ I hope that your time with family and friends is filled with laughter, kindness and a healthy sense of renewal. Of course, if the Black Friday madness is your thing, then I wish you lots of success with that πŸ˜‰

My mom always used to buy roasted turkey from PCC on Thanksgiving for the pets. She would slice it up very finely and they would get on their plates. I remember that my dragon cat, Mikha, would go nuts for the turkey whereas Lientje thinks turkey is gross. She still does, if the wet food the cats get is turkey, Lientje walks away. It was the one time a year you could safely approach Mikha if you weren’t one of the very few people she tolerated.

As for us, Mom and I would do everything but the turkey. I miss her stuffing. I can’t get the exact flavors no matter how hard I try. I think that also has something to do with getting sidetracked while I am making it – I suddenly start thinking of more things to add. Whereas Mom had strict rules about not adding too many things. We would go to the movies around 4pm, precisely when the rest of the world was sitting down to dinner. Then we would eat afterwards while the rest of the world was at the movies, in a food coma, or later heading to the malls.

I get a lot of my contrary tendencies from my mom. It doesn’t help that my dad is not exactly Mr. Conformity either. In my DNA, I have a doublescoop of Do It Your Own Way πŸ˜‰ Well, actually we all do in varying degrees of intensity.

The weather has gotten pretty cold and on the bike, you need mittens. You might remember that I had a collection of my mom’s Bartell’s mittens. Well, I still have them. With the move, they just happen to be buried in a box somewhere. Yesterday, I needed to take the train to the Hague for a customer meeting and I could not find a pair that matched either my coat or each other, so I followed in my mom’s footsteps and wore two mismatching ones. The important thing was to keep my hands warm. I did remove them before walking into the building πŸ˜‰

Okay, back to work. Later today off to homework help where I plan to learn some more Dutch and dig up my rusty knowledge of area and circumference formulas πŸ™‚

Rain, rain, go away

Okay, it has stopped for all of five minutes. I know this because I can hear it coming down on the skylights. It is not decreasing in volume. We’ve reached a standoff, the boys absolutely do not want to go outside and I do not want them to go potty in the house. So, that means when the rain lets up just a smidgen, I have to push them outside and say very sternly “Go Potty Quick” and George just looks at me from outside and shivers and drops his head down like he’s the most mistreated dog in the world. If this rain keeps up, I might give up on unpacking and learn to build us a boat of sorts…

Yesterday, I nearly missed my banjo lesson because I got sidetracked by family tree hints. It turns out that my mother’s cousin died the same day she did. I thought that was so strange. I thought I was reading it wrong. My oma was one of six children. This was the child of her oldest brother. I just got sidetracked again, adding new bits to the family tree. Thanks again, Laura, for getting me hooked πŸ˜‰

I did make it to banjo in the nick of time. It was a good lesson, despite the fact that I still can’t get “Oh, Susannah”quite right. She’s a tricky dame. I am going to try another approach, stop counting the notes in the bars and simply play them. However, it is easier said than done. Especially since certain bars are repeated so then I am really counting the notes. Which doesn’t make for the most effective playing.

I went to the office today and turns out, everyone else decided to Skype in. Tomorrow I am off to The Hague for a presentation. I am taking the train instead of driving. I think it is much better for Astrid to stay tucked into a warm garage instead of going out in the freezing rain and cold. And to combat the weather, we’ve discovered a new winter drink – a bit of Frangelico in hot chocolate – yum, yum.

I’m going to the Thanksgiving dinner at the American Book Center on Thursday. I have to bring a starter or a dessert to share. I am probably just going to buy something since I’ll be going from homework help directly to dinner. They have a veggie main dish. I think I am mostly going because it is a little lonely here on American holidays. And hey, if the food and company are not good, I can jump on my bike and go home. Or go in search of hot chocolate and Frangelico πŸ˜‰

I am giving up on

the attempt to build the temporary closet that I found on Groupon about six weeks ago. I started to try it today, figuring I could whittle down several boxes full of clothes once it was finished. On a sidenote, you only borrow moving boxes here, you have to give them back. On Thursday they came for the first 40 but I still have a few more to go! Anyway, I am relatively handy with IKEA so I figured Groupon furniture could hardly be more difficult. Except it is. I have a single sheet diagram which is not very clear. More importantly, there are several parts missing. I imagine I have put them in other boxes just to get them out of the way. Which is frustrating and a perfect example of why this living out of boxes was getting old.

Irritating. I went to part of the living room that is my office and starting working there instead. It is amazing how many notebooks I have. Yet somehow I am always looking for paper. Well, I won’t need to do that anytime soon since I can now see them. As for my clothes? Well, sometime this week, probably on a day I go to the office, I will stop at IKEA and get a closet of sorts. Not a permanent one but one big enough to hold my clothes so I can get more boxes in the pile to be returned.

Pretty chilly today, under 40. The boys are wearing their vests when we go on walks. I figure if it is cold enough for me to need two layers then they could probably use one too. Henry appreciates this and has told me that he wishes Columbia would make their Omni Heat jackets for dogs.

I practiced my banjo. Tomorrow is Monday which means I start the week off right, with a banjo lesson. I am making the effort to practice more often so that eventually I can play music with other musicians instead of only dancing and singing along.

This year has flown by. In a little less than three weeks, I am off to Curacao for a week. I am excited for warm weather, snorkeling and living in a 50 sq meter beach bungalow. Most of all, I am looking forward to doing nothing and letting my batteries recharge before the holidays. I don’t have plans for this year, at least let me say I am not expecting any guests. However, the period through Christmas through mid January remains hard.Β  Hence filling up the emotional strength batteries in Curacao – well, that and the really good price of tickets πŸ˜‰

I know I am not the only one

who has purchased the new Adele album today. I have to say, she was smart not to make it available for streaming purposes. I just paid my 11.99 to be able to download it. Her very powerful voice fits my mood today. And she seems to charm the pets as well, since Moortje is lying directly behind the speakers and the dogs are in their basket, tucked around each other like bookends.

I had a great time at homework help yesterday. I learned a few things about the Dutch language and was reminded of formulas for calculating area and circumference. I plan to do it again. Tomorrow, I’ll be teaching some teenagers to begin coding in Amsterdam Noord. I was a little nervous before I went, knowing my language limitations. It was a relief to discover that children are alike the world over, they all love one on one attention!

Bit of a difficult moment at work today. With the current dynamic, I am working much harder on keeping my thoughts internal. This morning I had a particularly difficult set of meetings and the worst part was that I didn’t feel I could respond with my thoughtsΒ so I just gradually withdrew further and further so that by the time two hours had passed, I didn’t even feel like I was in the room anymore. I chose to head home after that so I could get some work done without worrying about dynamics and politics. I spend a lot of time working with organizations and talking to them about building trust and change and yet somehow, in my own organization that’s not really present.

At any rate, I will take the weekend to do some thinking about what I want and where I will achieve it. From there, I will have to make some decisions.

I am grateful that I have things to do that empower me all over again. Yesterday’s homework session was one of those things. I think I am going to skip most of the things I had planned to do outside the house this weekend. There are plenty of things to distract me from unpacking and I think I will be wise, acknowledge them and resume doing what I need to do. I am starting to get a little irritated with the residual boxes. Right now I am in the danger zone. I have enough unpacked that I could keep going as I am and leave the rest in boxes for the next few years πŸ˜‰

That’s right, it is Thanksgiving next week. That’s probably also accounting for a little bit of why I am feeling slightly out of sorts which if I look deeply enough, I realize the out of sorts comes from feeling lonely. I think I am missing having a family at this moment. Not that I don’t have an extended one, I know. I am just far away from everyone.

Enough, I am going to go learn some more Minecraft code for tomorrow πŸ™‚

Things to think about

I thought I was having a bad day on Friday by sleeping through the alarm, missing my first meeting (in person), forgetting my wallet and having a presentation fall apart. Then came the news alerts Friday night about what was happening in Paris. Since France is just on the other side of Belgium, it feels awfully close to home. I think some of the things I have realized over the weekend is that it isn’t understandable what happened. I am reminded that since no one of us is guaranteed a specific exit time and place, we need to make the most of the days that we have and the relationships that we have in our lives.

In my messed up presentation on Friday, I said to the audience “Do the right thing for the change you wish to create” instead of following a formula. They all looked at me as if I had gone around the yoga bend. I was surprised by myself and a little embarrassed but as I was thinking about on the way back to the parking garage, it really is a statement I could get behind. Kind of like my Mom’s tagline of “Do good only”. Last week I signed up do some volunteer work twice in the month. This week it will be homework help with youth who are struggling at school/home etc. And next week it will be with a group of female teenagers who are Muslim. The goal of their program besides homework help, is to give exposure to other possibilities for women. Both opportunities are centered on empowerment. I think that’s a message that resonates with me strongly.

Speaking of empowerment, R received a mobile phone from his latest family so he has been calling me fairly regularly. He usually calls when he is in the cafeteria at school. If I remember school food correctly, I can understand why he is looking for a distraction! Some calls are better than others, depending on his background audience. Either way, I am glad he calls, even if I don’t always know what to give him as advice.

I had my first glΓΌhwein of the year with Marianne on Sunday. We were at a potato festival of all things and next door to the festival building was a small wine bar. It is pretty powerful stuff, I would have thought heating it would cook the alcohol right off but I was a little wobbly navigating through the park after that πŸ˜‰

Going for Indonesian tonight with a friend. We’re going to talk job opportunities and possibilities. I hope that I have something useful to add to the conversation. Tomorrow night, I am going to the movies. I want to see both Son of Saul and The Lobster. Obviously not in the same night πŸ™‚ Thursday it is off to Amsterdam Noord for a Wild West theatrical production complete with banjo music. And finally, Friday to Utrecht for a housewarming party. Heh, I just realized that I am doing a good job filling up my calendar without intending to do so! The weather we are having, rainy and stormy, makes me want to stay home and hibernate so I have to give myself a little push sometimes to leave the house πŸ˜‰

Trees, boxes, brothers and other things

At this very moment, two men are digging up a corner of my new backyard to place an 8 meter high tree. Apparently, the city removed one in the spring and as such had to wait until the right time of year to replace it. And the tree had to reach the right height. I now understand why they had to come in through the bedroom window instead of trying for the curve in the hallway.

In the meantime, we’re still camping among the boxes. It is getting better slowly. Cedric and his best friends, Tanner and Katy, were here from Tuesday night through Sunday morning. So while there was alot of good eating (at restaurants), beer testing and conversation, there wasn’t much time to unpack. Particularly since last week I was at various nerd conferences from 7 am to 7 pm. Not expecting anymore houseguests for awhile. I have to say, between Tanner and Cedric, various tasks involving engineering talent got done without my even having to ask. I definitely appreciated that πŸ™‚ We did have a really good visit even if there wasn’t much time together due to my overscheduled work life.

Tonight I am going to see Carmina Burana at the Concertgebouw with some friends. We have 10th row seats so I am looking forward to being thrilled out of my mind. As Jonathan says “We’ll be able to feel their vibrato” Not entirely sure what that means in regards to the music world but I am looking forward to it.

The Halloween party and after party were a good time. For the Halloween party, everyone enjoyed themselves and my moldy eyeballs, pumpkins and Zombie punch were a big hit. Marianne and I had a good time πŸ™‚ I am glad I could be part of her first Halloween celebration and she makes an excellent wingwoman!Β Β Here you can see the punch that was empty by the time it was off to the after party! Zombie punch