Monthly Archives: November 2016

Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down

I realize that Weebles might not be well known so looking on the internet this morning, I see that someone else has created the perfect image for this post. No idea who Julie King is but thanks all the same πŸ™‚webbles-julie

I am a little wobbly this morning. It is not due to a caffeine shortage but rather that it is Thanksgiving in the US. I figure if I want to be able to do anything with the rest of my day, and I have a busy one, then I should purge myself on digital paper and then get it moving. So, welcome to my morning “Pull yourself together” moment.

Ugh, today is a hard one. I have been feeling a little out of my skin over the past week, more prickly and easier to tear up. I didn’t quite figure out why until yesterday afternoon when I was having coffee with Little C. Then when I was telling a story about my mom, it suddenly all landed.

I know you don’t need a national holiday to miss someone or to celebrate it with family. This year, I am missing Raven as well. What are the chances of finding another partner in crime who liked to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast?

Last night, before I went to sleep, I talked to my mom and made a list of all of the ways my life had changed and what I wished she had been able toΒ see. Things that I was really grateful for and had learned from.

I think that this post is really going nowhere today. I’m going to go to work and see if that doesn’t help. In the meantime, if you are celebrating today, Happy Thanksgiving πŸ™‚

On to the third…

Tonight was the second round interview, with the US via Skype. I passed and am on to the third with the local team. I am pretty excited. I wasn’t nervous today, probably due to the lavender oil under my nose, and also because I decided to treat this as just a conversation. It worked, it went really well.

Of course, yesterday I outed myself at work that I had a second round interview and if anyone had suggestions from their network as to potential replacements, please let me and my manager know… that created a few awkward moments in the meetings. It needs to be done though. It didn’t feel 100% great. However, part of being open to something new means that you need to make sure everything is taken care of that you can. I remember when I first started thinking of moving here, I started asking people six months in advance if they would be interested in my job. I wanted to be sure that my customers were taken care of.

I don’t think it will be a six month window this time. And neither does big C, my manager. First thing this morning, she sent me the job description that will post for my review and input. That felt kind of awkward. πŸ˜‰

GG and I went to see Anneke van Giersbergen again last night. She had gotten me the tickets for my birthday. It was awesome. While we were at dinner and talking about all the career opportunities, I said to her “I just want to be cool”. It sounds funny, doesn’t it? Coming from a 43 year old woman… I don’t mean hip, I mean I just want to be myself in all 1000 variations and be able to do my best work. To me, that’s cool. I want to love what I do and who I do it with. And I want to be learning. So when the interview question came up tonight about my familiarity with the Linux command line, I answered – I would need to learn it and would look forward to doing so!

In the meantime, I have been researching all the potential visa questions, since I am here on a 5 year visa. One big difference between the Dutch and the US visa system is that with the type of visa I have, my partner would have automatically had work clearance as well. I think this is a significant difference because I am pretty sure that in the US, it doesn’t work that way. And if it did before, that will probably change under the new administration! Interesting really, how systems differ between social values.

I have two years left on mine and then I will need an extension, which is not automatic, especially not if I change employment. I’m willing to take the risk though.


Not getting up yet…

It is Saturday morning, just before 10AM. Lientje has returned from her breakfast and the boys are still under the covers, making elephant like noises. As for me, I am drinking coffee and mentally organizing myself. However, first, I am appreciating that this morning I woke up on my own speed, instead of to the sound of the contractors next door – who during the week tend to arrive at 0630 and have no problem using all their outdoor voices and tools.

Knowing that this will be going on until March doesn’t make me like my new neighbors very much. The entire house was gutted and then they are also building out. Since the houses here are attached to each other and share common walls, you can imagine that I am far more involved in their renovations than I want to be. The neighbors themselves aren’t here, they live in the peace and quiet of Amstelveen. They put a note through our mail slots telling us the timeline and that they hoped we were not inconvenienced. But without any contact information so it is a rather passive aggressive way of not saying anything at all.

The houses here are old and there’s the Dutch habit of when you move you take everything with you, even the floor. You can imagine then that there are lots of renovation projects. I can’t quite understand it because I think it is rather wasteful. Renovating every time you move. When I move from this house, you can rest assured I am leaving the floor behind. Along with the appliances and the kitchen. πŸ˜‰

Thursday morning, little C and I had our weekly date. I was sporting a mild hangover and so I went to the hospital wearing my yoga pants and my Cure t-shirt. Luckily, in a hospital people are wearing all manners of different clothing, so no one really looks twice except to wonder if my ankles aren’t cold (they are not full length yoga pants). This time we were relatively calm, no dancing with the IV poles. They give her a new medicine now which makes her really tired. We think that’s not the real goal, but rather to keep us in a state of good behavior…

We had a really interesting discussion, even if not accompanied by pole dancing. This time, we talked about introvert behavior, parents and children, cultural practices and the nuances of coffee service. I also needed to share some news with little C. Thursday afternoon, I had my first interview with another company. I needed her common sense input.

I passed the first round and will have the second round Tuesday evening. With next week being Thanksgiving in the US, I think they were in a hurry to get it scheduled. At the moment I am not nervous, I am trying not to get too excited. Culturally, they are very different and a great deal smaller.

At the same time, emotionally, I am having a little trouble with the fact that I am doing this. I think this is normal. I love my manager, like I mean, I love her. And I love the company I work for, I just don’t love the local version of it. I know that one of the things that bothers me most is the fixed culture and I know that I am one of the exceptions to it, which is partly why I have some difficulty. I know that by leaving, the monoculture will have gotten one person stronger. I don’t want to leave my fellow exceptions to the rule, knowing that it makes it harder for them. However, I also don’t want to wait another 7 years for the monoculture to shift significantly.

In my head, I have already made the decision to go. In my heart, that’s the catch. From the analytical perspective, I know all the reasons why I am looking and what I am looking for. The heart says “Don’t let them push you out. You can outlast them, just keep going. We have been through things that required our endurance before.” This is true, before I would keep going, no matter what. The difference now is that I’ve learned that endurance is not always what it is cracked up to be. There have been things I have held onto and kept doing that I should have been smarter about earlier.

I have decided to redirect my endurance. I do like that fact about myself, that it is a character trait that I have. I am redirecting my endurance to making sure that I am always doing things with and for purpose. In this case, finding a company that I can have more impact in because culturally it is open to that. If it is not this company that I am now interviewing with, then it will be another.

Last night, Rupert called me with some exciting news. He and Meredith are coming at the end of December for 10 days! I am so excited I want to leave for Schiphol now and start waiting for them. I won’t though, I will wait until December at least starts πŸ˜‰ I can’t wait to see them. I am trying to get Cedric and Dylan here as well but as with all family things, that remains an effort. However, I am going to email them now as a reminder.

We were supposed to go to Prague for Thanksgiving weekend. However, GG has a super amazing life changing interview on Cyber Monday so we’ll be staying in the low lands. I figure Prague will still be there in the spring πŸ™‚ That means that I have only visited two new countries this year. I am going to have to up my game in 2017.

I’ve been typing for an hour and I think I have my head in order for the rest of the day. It is time to officially wake the boys up and get to the park before it starts raining again. Here’s hoping that your weekend is a good one πŸ™‚



Frustration Station

Today I had a mini meltdown at my banjo lesson. I was struggling so much with “Shady Grove” that I actually started crying because I couldn’t get the pull-off right in the second bar. ARGH. No matter what I kept doing, it wasn’t happening right – the tone was off, the tempo was too slow, it messed up the next notes, you name it. The worst part was that each time I was raising my anxiety level and getting further and further away from ever being successful.

Then Paul said we should just move to another bar and I wouldn’t. I was determined to get this damn thing down. Which only made it even less likely to be successful. That stubborn repeat the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result was not a side of me that Paul had seen before. He was surprised that I could so easily get wound up and trapped in this head banging ritual. HAHAHAHA, if he only knew how familiar that is for me.

After finally switching to another bar, I realized exactly what my problem was. I couldn’t solve the problem and I didn’t know another way to do it, since playing music is not really a strength I have. This why I kept repeating the same technique over and over again, with the same result, because I didn’t trust myself that there must be another way to do it, I just needed to take a risk and try something different. Hello, Introspection… where have you been?

So, today’s lesson was that even with something as small as a banjo technique, if I don’t know the subject well, I don’t let myself take the risk to try another way – I get trapped in the idea that I don’t know! Well, shit and shinola, now that I know that, I will be doing some conscious work on taking the risks and trusting myself. It ties into the anxiety that I usually have about whether or not my level of work is high quality enough – do I really know everything about the subject, etc? I think the latest catch phrase for it is imposter syndrome. Whatever it is called, I know I’ve got a case of it.

It’s like when I have to present somewhere. I am always worried that I do not know enough, that there must be some detail that I have overlooked. Have I prepared enough? Which secret sources of information have I forgotten to absorb? Will I be articulate enough, in either language? Those kinds of things. To the point that I usually make myself slightly nauseous and have a couple of dry heaves to get it out of my system on the way there.

Inevitably, I do well with my presentations. The content is usually too much, way more than they wanted and no one fell asleep or walked out. If anything, they have over estimated their knowledge and I have underestimated mine. Silly really. We’re all simply people and exchanging ideas and knowledge. Last week I left a presentation with an enormous bouquet of flowers as a thank you. I am wondering at what point will I stop having the dry heaves and worrying that I don’t know enough? Will I ever get there?

I have an idea from where it comes from. When I was growing up, my parents would always ask if I had really done my best? On my report cards, there would usually be a comment or two that I wasn’t quite living up to my potential. If I came home with a certain grade, the question was always a form of what could you have done to make it higher? I know that comes from having parents who placed a high value on the importance of education. That part I value because I like being a nerd. Where it left some dents is that I always wonder if I really did my best? I’m also really tough on myself in terms of what I think is my best. I think my best is something that I have never yet reached. Inspiring on one hand, frustrating on another.

This afternoon, I had booth bunny duty at a developer conference. It was fine because no one was comfortable approaching me directly, they all made their way to my male colleague. Then they would be rerouted because he’s in marketing and technical questions are not his thing πŸ˜‰ I have to be back there tomorrow…

I picked Astrid up today, she had her service for the winter and got detailed. Such a beautiful car… Robert asked me again if I wanted to sell. Nope, not going to do it. Of course, since she had her service, the radio won’t work without the code. It took 116 minutes to get from Haarlem back to the garage here due to rain and traffic, with no radio sadly. It is about 10 miles from door to door. Uh huh… Astrid says she wants a helicopter add-on kit. Sort of a more aerodynamic Chitty Chitty Bang Bang look.

Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

Leonard Cohen

His passing last week, on the wake of all of the other news last week, seemed fitting. Almost as if there was no reason to remain, that it really was “Closing Time”.Β  I can’t begin to count the number of memories I have that definitely have a Leonard Cohen song as part of their soundtrack.

His music and genius was something I shared with everyone I loved, regardless of age. On the mixes I would make for Raven, there was Leonard. For my mom, there were 10th row floor seats at Vancouver’s GM Place to see him sing. I remember that she would crank up the Leonard Cohen any time she had to spend time doing something boring, like sorting through boxes. And she would sing along. When she got her first MP3 player, it had was full of Leonard Cohen and the Gipsy Kings.

When we went to see him at GM Place, the Canadian border agents thought we were nuts. To come all the way to Vancouver for a concert… But it was Leonard Cohen. On the way home, around 1230, we stopped at a Tim Horton’s and tried to find our way to some kind of vegetarian dinner. I remember we were the only two customers and we had really crappy bagels and machine cappuccinos. But it didn’t matter, because we were still wrapped in the magic of seeing him live.

The US Customs agents were not as polite about expressing the confusion as their Canadian counterparts but I chalked it up to a combination of their ignorance about the greatness of Leonard and their too tight polyester/rayon uniforms. Sometimes it is easier to empathize with someone when you take a look at the fabric choices they have to make. πŸ˜‰

I thought that one day, if he was still touring at 84, which would not have surprised me, I would have taken Raven as well.

On the other side of the musical spectrum, GG and I saw Regina Spektor last week and last night we saw the Cure. I am still listening to them now, sort of burrowing myself in their genius or trying to extend the experience.

Tonight’s the biggest moon since 1948. I saw a hint of it last night but tonight the clouds are covering it up and it is raining. It seems appropriate.

Oh, no…

that’s what I thought when I saw the messages come in this morning. Lots of condolences via WhatsApp. So terrible. I wanted to climb back into bed and yell “DO OVER”.

I had to tell theΒ pets this morning that we were not going back to the US any time soon.

You hope that people will surprise you, in a positive way, mostly. I know at this moment the popular vote indicates that HRC is in the lead but with the STUPID electoral system that we have, it doesn’t really matter. I have to take that as one bright spot, at least he didn’t really win based on the popular vote. Or at least not yet, I suppose that will still take a few days to count all the votes.

I came into the office today, I am typing from there now and I just had a meeting with a group of people that rebalanced my sense of decency. They are a small startup making mobile apps, which is cool. What is much cooler is that they work with the Syrian refugees that are processed in the Netherlands to teach them to program, to help them land jobs faster. An hour in discussion with them and I felt like moments like these help with the shock and despair. It could have also been the mix of their entrepreneurial energy and that they were a little bit unusual.

Many of the reactions I’ve heard today from people I know is a determination to double down and do things that make a difference. I like that. I think it is a very healthy way of giving the finger to the coming Administration and not buying into the BS. And in the meantime, I’ll be playing the Ramones at full volume…