Monthly Archives: February 2016

I forgot what I wrote about last time

and that’s how I know it has been a while between posts. It is Sunday afternoon and the sun is shining. I had my 10K steps for the day by 1330 and the dogs and I have just had a nap. I need to finish some presentations for tomorrow but I am having a difficult time settling down and PowerPointing — is that actually a verb??? What does that mean then? This afternoon, I am unsettled. Actually, I have been unsettled all day.

I see my banjo out of the corner of my eye and that reminds me that I have a lesson tomorrow morning and still need to practice. Friday night, I went to see one of my banjo teacher’s bands play. This time it was the Stringlers. He’s also in one called the Sons of Navaronne. It was a great show, in a cramped Irish pub just off Rembrandtplein. The woman next to me was English and her son lives in Seattle. And she thought Paul was my husband. She kept thinking that. While I know my language skills are not the greatest, I am pretty confident I am understandable when I say “No, he’s my banjo and my Dutch teacher, not my husband”.

Last night, I went to Rotterdam for dinner and the Cross Linx festival. It is an incredible experimental music festival of sorts. I heard so much beautiful music last night, made in unexpected ways. I came away with the fact that there is something about violin music, alone without any other instruments, that makes me swoon! Don’t worry, I am not thinking of taking up the violin! I realized that I had simply never heard it alone, always as part of an orchestra.

Technically, Astrid is not allowed in the center of Rotterdam due to her age. I didn’t realize that until I had already gotten there. So now the question is will I get a fine in the mail? It is not impossible that at the city limits her plates were scanned. In the Netherlands, there are lots of roadside scanners – flitspalen I think they called. Anyway, you get flitsed – meaning that your plates are snapped if you are speeding and then the ticket arrives through your mailslot which you just pay and don’t protest. There’s very little actual law enforcement on the roads. Automate everything you can in terms of routine things. So, it would not surprise me if Rotterdam had a system in place that scans every auto that comes inside the Centrum zone for age. The good news is, I can still go to the outlying areas of Rotterdam, just not the Centrum. 😉 Or if I go to Rotterdam next time, I should definitely take the train…

Yesterday I also had interview to join a social club. I passed the group interview and will be joining them on a trial basis – which really reminds me of the Groucho Marx quote “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”. It is kind of more than a social club but that’s the easiest way to describe it.

So, why am I unsettled? I feel a little overwhelmed right now. I have a lot of pressure at work, which is going to increase this week. And while I am basically an optimist and I have to believe that I will get where I need to go for work, sometimes it is hard. Especially when lots of people consider it a lost cause. I am struggling a little not to take the professional as personal. Socially, I am struggling a little too. I am having a tough time relating to and reading people. Then I think maybe I should stop until I get better at it. But I won’t get better at it if I don’t keep doing it. It is a terrible cycle 😉

And I am getting alot of contact from R. right now. I am so grateful for it since almost 16 year olds are not well known for their communication skills 😉 He sends emails like they are texts. Which means I have to wait for about six of them before I get the full picture! It is heavy emotionally. I can’t tell him that, I just need to be there for him. That’s my role.

And I got the new Macklemore & Ryan Lewis album Friday morning and it reminds me so much of Seattle. So maybe I am also a little homesick…

There you have it, well, enough of it. 🙂 I better get started on finishing these presentations since they are both things I have to deliver tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

Routine routine

I have a habit of making up words in Dutch, things that I think naturally should be the right form of the literal translation that I make from English. I don’t even know I am wrong until someone points it out. There’s a manager at work that I meet with every two weeks and she has been known to say fairly often that I seem to be adding to the Dutch language again. One of my favorite words that I have made up is regelmatigsche – which is a lovely combination of regelmatig (meaning consistent or regular) and automatische (automatic). Automatic consistency 😉 I think this has potential. And it is a good word to describe where I am right now.

I have lots of things to do that need this sort of automatic consistency like my banjo lessons, my Dutch lessons, the care of the pets, the work patterns, getting 10K steps everyday on the FitBit and so forth. I guess I could easily describe myself as a process nerd.Anyway, today I was having a long conversation with my coach and this time our session was over kids and parenting instead of data analysis and forecasting. I felt like I could actually give her some useful information, especially in return for all she has taught me over the past few weeks. It felt good to be useful because over the past few weeks, I have struggled with feeling that I was being useful rather than the bad kid in the class.

Yesterday afternoon I went to Paradiso to see the Tennessee Studs. They are a local bluegrass band of exceptional talent. It was a great way to spend a rainy and cold Sunday afternoon. I hope one day that my banjo playing is that good… maybe when I am 70 😉

An update from last week, Moortje is not doing so great regarding his blood and kidney values. That was really hard to hear from the vet. Right this minute he is sitting next to the laptop, hoping I will get the hint and move to a more comfortable position for him. I will in a moment because like they say in Dutch “dogs have bosses and cats have staff”.

Well, that was fun!

Home tonight after a very short visit to Madrid. I saw enough of it to know I would like to see more of it so I think I will be planning a trip there this year. It will also give me some time to brush up on my Spanish since English is still not that common.

I am happy to see the pets. I’m going to unpack my suitcase and get some sleep since tomorrow I am helping someone move. It is good to be home 🙂

Here comes that Rebel Heart again…

the album, of course. I am listening to it alot again. Lately I’ve been feeling pressure that the way I communicate is too different for some people to handle well. Not that I am sitting around dropping the F-bomb and insulting people but rather that in some ways I am too direct. Hahahaha, yes, you read that correctly. I am learning here that when it comes to matters not involving feelings or emotions, there’s one level of directness that is expected. The Dutch do that very well. However, when it comes to communicating directly about feelings or emotions, directness does not apply and is apparently a little discomforting. You guessed it, socially I am a walking liability 😉

This past weekend, I had quite a few conversations on this topic, with very interesting and mixed results. I also have a greater understanding of why many people who are not Dutch do not date the Dutch. Like any society, there are different cultural norms in play. And I run right over a few them 😉 Which then leads to the question, do I want to conform in order to have greater social success? Or do I want to continue to grow and take the risk that I will continue to have the same problems (or new ones)? I think you can guess which way I am heading…

Not to conforming. I did put some new social rules in place for myself. I am going to stop evaluating and analysing and just do. I think I was a little too caught up on creating and nurturing a connection instead of letting it appear or not by itself. I am very project oriented which spills over into my social life as well. I am leaving the project functions outside of my social life, I can continue to be that way everywhere else. Socially, I am going to plunge forward without all the pre-thinking.

Why? Because as I discovered at the meetup and then afterwards, it is much more fun and you enjoy it for exactly what it is, rather than worrying about how this stacks up against the project plan. It is a matter of saying Yes, to everything that is possible. It also is likely to make it easier for me to avoid the emotionally unavailable because I just went through my second experience with that since July. Since I seem to be doing something that attracts that or I ignore the signs of it, I need to change my outlook 😉

Currently, I am waiting on the vet to call back. The cats went today and it was traumatic for them. Moortje was so angry, I have never seen him like that. He was growling and hissing, kind of like Mikha used to do everytime she had to go to the vet. He’s lost 700g since July which is not very good news. I am waiting for the blood results for both of the cats. While logically I know he’s already old and continues to age, I am still hoping that he will be around a bit longer.

I am off to Madrid tomorrow and I was hoping for warmer weather. However, it is only in the low 50s and with rain. Bummer that I won’t get a sun break! Oh well, if you have to spend a lot time sitting in meetings, good weather doesn’t matter! I definitely plan to check out the Madrid nightlife 😉



Happy Birthday, boys…

Not to the usual boys that I refer to but to my brothers, Cedric and Dylan. Today they turn 40. And they share their birthday with Ronald Reagan and Bob Marley which in a way matches nicely with how different they are, even if they are identical twins.

Cedric and Dylan, I’d like to tell you that on 6 February 1976, my life changed dramatically. I went from being the Center of the Universe to Big Sister. In some ways, I think we are still traumatized by that shift in identity 😉 Suddenly, there were two little people who couldn’t play, could only cry and eat and poop and got ALL of the grown-ups attention. I remember Mom would hold one of you and Oma the other and then they would switch. You can rest assured that you never lacked for attention 🙂

As we grew up together, I remember always feeling like there was something special about my family. I had twin brothers. In the days before fertility drug enhancing multiple births, twins were still kind of an alien species. And I actually had a pair to call my own and boss around in my attempts at directing self written holiday plays.

We’ve always had a rocky relationship as siblings, no doubt pre-determinined by our strong personalities. And I am sort of sorry that I did try to sell you a few times. But come on, you did read my diary despite the lock on it!

As you have grown into the men you have become, I hope that you recognize the capable and warm people you are. And I hope as you join the sensible shoes generation that you realize how much is possible for you with your strengths and talents. While I might still like to make some of your choices for you (what can I say? Big Sister runs deep) I am grateful to be part of your lives and to see you as you are.

For this coming year, and for those thereafter, I hope you will continue to change  your corner of the world and live fully. I hope that you will find the partners that make you want to try better for tomorrow and know that they love and accept you as you are. I hope you will take Mom’s legacy and spirit into another generation. I hope you will always have enough cheese for your needs.

I love you both.




Injury avoided

Well, except perhaps to my hope that I would be able to perform tremendous acrobatic feats on the trampoline! I have to say, it was a lot of fun! Like any good grownup, I made sure to try everything first much to the giggling of 7 year old girls. I am pretty certain they had never seen a grownup be so silly 😉 it also helps that they actually were correcting me on my grammar. Yep, that was humbling!

Anyway, the birthday party was lots of fun! Growing up with my brothers, our birthdays were mostly family events, which I understand why. Birthday parties were something that I knew other kids did pretty frequently. We were always the new kids in the neighborhood so we didn’t go to those parties on the same scale. I remember on my 16th birthday, I went to someone else’s Sweet 16th because it was on a Saturday and her parents had rented a restaurant and everything. I remember going shopping with my mom for the vintage cocktail dress. I think I probably still have it somewhere 😉

We were moving again that year and my birthday ended up not being noticed in the ruckus. About a week later, my parents figured it out. I remember thinking that I could add this to the list of things that made me such a tortured teenager 😉 but truthfully, it didn’t really matter. After all, my classmate had already really stolen my birthday!

I got home last night and went to work since I had taken the afternoon off. Alot of my coworkers are in Seattle this week so they were all wired up to go. I did resist the urge to fire up the Nespresso because that would have been a complete inversion of my workday! Anyway, at the very respectable hour of 11pm, we were in bed.

I woke up this morning with some interesting discomfort. I imagine that’s the trampolining. I will try yoga today to get the soreness out. My yoga class the other night was really good, even though it was in Dutch. She was really slow but deliberate. In other words, holding the poses so long you want to cry.

As for the weekend, there’s a birthday party to go to, a meetup and I feel like I am forgetting something…

One vet visit down

and one to go. The boys went this morning. I couldn’t find their pet passports, which are in a box around here – somewhere. I have to see if I can find them before I go with the cats on Friday. Anyway, the boys did very well. Henry weighs in at 7.4 kilos and George at 7.2. This means they are roughly 16 pounds each. Which the vet was fine with, she even complimented Henry’s muscular physique – HA, just like Rollins 🙂 They were glad not to have to get more than two shots and an exam.

I am dreading taking the cats. From a practical perspective, there’s the wrestling to get them into the carrier. This is not made easier by the fact that they run when they see me coming because they think I am coming to give them medicine… which is usually correct.

I am listening to the old Alanis album Jagged Little Pill. I had forgotten how much I had liked this album and rocked out to it when it first came out. I remember driving across country from Washington DC to Seattle and blaring this in Astrid across the Dakotas 🙂

Tomorrow I am helping out at a birthday party for 7 year olds. We are going to a trampoline place – this was my idea. I am looking forward to flying across the space. You know, as a chaperone, I need to make sure it is safe for the kids 😉 It should be alot of fun. It is also my Oma’s birthday tomorrow, she would have been 105. And Oma had very definite ideas about the importance of Fun 🙂 Mom’s clown tendencies were definitely from her mother’s side.

Tonight I am going to a yoga class and I really hope it is in English. Dutch yoga is distracting for me because I really don’t know the names of all the body parts. Like the other day I was talking to a friend and she kept using the word verkering in reference to her and her now husband. I kept think verkering=uitkering (compensation from the government like unemployment/L&I etc) and I couldn’t figure out what the hell the Dutch government had to do with her marriage. Then I finally asked because I really lost the thread of the story and she told me that verkering = relationship not compensation! We had a good laugh.

I learned a big lesson yesterday about expressing myself. I (still) tend to assume that if you are my friend, you automatically know how awesome I think you are and how much I love you. I thought that I really needed to only work on expressing my feelings when it came to non-friendship situations. The sound you hear is the cluephone – I finally answered it 😉 So, in a blanket declaration, if I haven’t ever told you how awesome I think you are and how important you are to me and yes, even how much I love you, consider yourself told 🙂 And I will try to remember to do it more often.

I still have so much to learn about people and myself. 🙂 And the song that just started as I wrote that sentence is You Learn . Ironic 😉 oh, wait that’s another Alanis song…


The 5th string is for evil…

I found a little banjo humour on the internet. I can really relate to the message… it is a drawing of an angry looking banjo with the phrase “the 5th string is for evil” as opposed to 4 string banjos 🙂 I think I might like to have that on a t-shirt! I shared it with Paul today during my lesson.

Speaking of evil, it has been a wild week. The wind is especially strong today which is suiting my mood. It feels like I am all over the place. Not in a bad way rather being tossed back and forth between circumstances, memories and choices. Perhaps this is also being influenced by a book I was finally able to get from the library, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-up. I had gotten as a gift on Amazon but they wouldn’t let me have it because to them I am in the US and for whatever reason, ebooks are not worldwide *rolling my eyes*

So, last week, I ran the gamut from some leftover Seattle stuff, really shocking work moves from a former manager, really good conversation and direction from the new and to Henry Rollins at the Paradiso. Oh, yeah, and in between there somewhere, I managed to make some progress with TD – which took nearly all of my patience and meet some more new people. Looking at in paragraph form, it doesn’t seem so intense, more like it should be a normal thing. In regards to emotions, it definitely was not. I was doing alot of the Wonder Woman pose and putting lavender oil under my nose last week.

Curious about the Wonder Woman pose? If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you check it out. It works for me and not just because I crave the cool wristbands… Wonder Woman If you are expecting me for an intense conversation or meeting and you don’t see me right away, you can imagine what I am doing 🙂

George ate some nylon socks over the weekend because he just doesn’t get regular meals around here. That meant that yesterday he had the worst gut noises. We spent a good hour in the rain trying to find the right grass for him to eat and self medicate. Apparently it worked because this morning he was bouncing off the ceiling as usual to make sure I would get up and appreciate how terribly hungry he really is… Henry was of the opinion that he shouldn’t have to spend time in the rain just because his brother is weird enough to eat socks. I had to remind Henry that family sticks together, even in the weird moments. Ironically enough, they have a vet appointment in the morning for their checkup. I am taking the cats on Friday because all four at once was too much to handle.

We’ll see how this week plays out. Next week I am off to Madrid for a few days for a work meeting. I know, I have such a difficult life 🙂