Think twice

It’s not often that you get smacked in the face with a truth so profound that it makes you swallow a whole lot of words you have carelessly said in the past.

But it happens.

As it did to me, last Friday, on my way home from a match with my carpool buddy. We’d closed down the club, as we usually do, after a pitiful loss followed by a night of merriment with the team now that the big C is letting up a little. And under the light of the moon, in the dead of night (2 a.m. is one of those times that the world just seems a bit alien, amirite?) we were walking to his car.

Man. Dyou know it always makes me happy knowing I have someone to walk me to my car round here?‘ I said to him, while glancing at three or four cars standing at the far end of the parking lot.

He looked at me questioningly.
Puzzled.
Confused.

It was only then that I realised…
Really really realised…
How much that weird kind of fear is a part of my life. That strange kind of fear of having to go anywhere. Alone. At night.
Because I’m a woman.

You see – I’ve always kinda shrugged at the whole women in charge movement. Sort of held my hands away from the heat of #metoo. SJWs. Lifechangers and people making noise.

Not because I think they’re wrong, on the contrary. Just mostly because I tend to not agree with their methods, most of the time. Not that I’d know a better solution. A way that would be wiser. A quicker path. Not at all. But even when you don’t know what is right – you can still have an inkling about what feels wrong, I suppose.

The anger. The passion. The urgency. I never really connected, I suppose. I don’t have the heart of a world-changer. I’m well and good living in the confines of my head, most days. But I admire them all their quest. Their mission. And the justness of their cause.

Because as we were walking to that car I found myself explaining to my 6ft-plus strong Iranian teammate (who, I suppose, might look intimidating to anyone who doesn’t know his kindness) that I was glad not to be alone because of the cars on that lot.

Cars belonging to the standard night-population of our specific parking lot. The type of loud-bassed-big-mouthed-small-dicked small-town gangsters dealing in even smaller misdemeanors and filthy attitudes. Nothing to be particularly scared of, in general. The types of gangly youngsters with a bark way worse than their bite.

Unless it’s 2 a.m. and you are a woman walking to a lonely car on an empty parking lot with a small crowd of slightly criminal onlookers.

They’re only there because the cops sort of allow them to be. Figuring they’re better off on an off-site sportspark parking lot than at the local McDonald’s. Or the town center. Or wherever else they’d park their stupid asses.

And though they would not stop me from attending matches, or closing down the club, or walking to my car when I’m alone – there’d be anxiety gripping my heart none the less if I had to.

The ‘what-if’ fear. The ‘are they going to…?’ uncertainty. The ‘this might be a mistake’ surety.

Thoughts I had to explain out loud to him. Feelings so familiar they’ve been a part ofmy life so long that I usually don’t even pay them any mind. Fear that is so standard to me as a girl. Because he never had, and will never feel any of them. Because he’s a guy. And he doesn’t have to ever think twice about walking to his car alone at night.

And suddenly all of the girls up in arms started making a whole lot more sense. Because when you really really think about it?

That shit be crazy, man.

On happiness – in general, in particular and in total and utter honesty

I hail from the Al Bundy era.
Something that I’m simultaneously proud and secretly ashamed of, I guess. Those were the days, folks, those were the days.

These days that show, to many, is a desperate reminder of all that was once wrong with the world. Or still is, in many ways. A shining example of misogyny, capitalism, the American way of life and love gone wrong.

I still think it’s fucking hilarious.
And accurate.
And spot on.
And still very very hilariously amazingly so wrong that it’s right.

You catch my drift, right?

Married with Children was awesome. Period.

But what’s always stayed with me the most, as it was both a huge part of my upbringing as well as a subconsciously ingrained into my mindset is the thought that lies at the very core of that show – and my understanding of life:

‘It is someone elses job to make me happy’.

Me being a ‘mere’ woman like Peg. A wife. Spouse. Trophy. Or eternal ball and chain. Call it what you will.

It was interesting, growing up. Because even when I was watching that show and clutching my sides from laughing too hard at Pegs shenanigans and Als hopeless mean attempts at sputtering back – I sorta knew that her expectations were so wrong. Unrealistic. Unfair.

But I was taught the same exact thing myself. From a mom that was a classic ‘victim’ of the world. Of men. Of life. From a mom that was, probably, a classic mix of damsel in distress, barbie doll and golddigger that is ideally attractive to always-the-same-wrong-men. A Peg, to the core.

And it is there that I was infused with these thoughts…these beliefs…these undeniable ideas of how relationships should be. How love worked. How a life together should look, and feel and be. Because in the world of Peg, and my mom and that time and this current age still, sort of – it is someone else’s responsibility to ensure my happiness.

They are in control of doing the things that give me joy. So they should do them. They are capable of providing happiness. So they should give it. They. Them. THEM.

Me being unhappy? Their fault.
Me not feeling great? Their problem.
Me not getting all I want from ‘us’? Their fix.
Me having needs that are unmet? Their responsibility.

It’s how I always treated my partners. How I always felt it WOULD be. How I was always taught it SHOULD go. No matter my own opinions of the matter, of course. That’s what your childhood is right. Fitting that certain drawn out mold, regardless of how well you fit it. You do things the way you’re supposed to do them because that’s how they’re done.

And I know you’re reading this KNOWING how wrong it is to feel that way, right? I mean, we’re a strong, progressive and independent bunch around here, are we not. Or, at the very least, we’re very familiar with all of the selfhelp books and power-Instas slinging quotes our way on how we’re the captains of our own ships.

I knew it was wrong too. Like. The way you can sometimes feel something’s wrong without knowing why it’s wrong or how you should be fixing it. Just wrong. Still did it. I still DO it, actually. Expect that. From them. Freakily.

Admittedly – I HAVE gotten better at it, over the years. Providing my own happiness. Fixing my own shit. Owning my own (and our) issues. But the damsel in distress mode is still programmed into my brain. I’m still wired to be the poolbunny waiting for her cocktails. I’m still Rapunzel waiting for her prince to make everything right. It’s still my go-to-move. And I somehow kinda still sorta maybe want to be…too…if that makes sense.

This ‘job’ of theirs is still my first expectancy and first disappointment in any new connection. That need for them to MAKE me happy. Sense my needs, tune in to them, value them, uphold them. Preferably without me telling them how to. It’s still how I’m built to love.

Even though I KNOW it’s not their job to make me happy. It’s mine. It’s MY JOB to BE happy, and do everything I, myself, can to make that happen.

And, if we’re lucky – it’s our PRIVILIGE to share that mutual happiness. Together. Not work at achieving it for the other. THAT’S how it SHOULD be.

But let’s be honest. That new mindset is a whole lot harder to achieve than it is to admit. And that old way of living is a whole lot harder to lose than to complain about. Because sometimes I wonder how much of these types of faulty wirings we can still fix at this point.

Maybe it’s easier to find someone exceptionally good at doing that job that shouldn’t be a job. Just kidding.

A jab of truth

Life…

Is returning to normal.

It might be slowly, but it definitely is surely.

And as survivors of the 2020 pandemic (doesn’t that sound dramatic), we can definitely say that we made it through all of the 5 stages of grief at one point or another:

The grief over the loss of life as we knew it. The loss of life-before-COVID. The loss of our taken-for granted freedoms and happiness and pretty much everything that came with our era of advancement.

They were all there. For me at least. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And now, now that the world is at the precipice of opening…and the corona-era hopefully at a close: hope!

But still. Those 5 stages?

They were all definitely there.

Denial – when we first tried to reason away the ‘just-a-flu’ disease gripping us. Or, if you’re one of the anti-vaxxing crowd…still in that phase.

Anger – when we reared up against the doctors, the government, the rules and limitations and the general unfairness of our lives suddenly changing. Not to mention the working hours. Sudden changes. Deaths all around. All hell breaking loose. Really good time to get really really mad, right?

Bargaining – when we tried to find our way around rules. Looking for excuses why they wouldn’t apply. Why we felt ok taking the unnecessary risks. Why it was acceptable to break covid-regulations to keep our social lives intact. When we tried to explain thingsto our advantage. Bending and shaping rules so they might fit. Even though they never did. There sure was a lot of bargaining.

Depression – when, at some point, we all realised we’d have to buckle down. Actually grit our teeth. Take in the burden of obedience to make our way back to whatever this new normal will turn out to be. Forced into our houses. Our zoom environments. Our isolation and our own devices. When loneliness and hopelessness really got a hold and the light at the end of the disease-numbers-tunnel seemed impossibly far away.

Acceptance – When the vaccines where approved. When regulations were in place long enough for the most of the rowdy crowd to give in instead of fight. When we got used to living regulated and boxed in. And more importantly: When the invitations were sent. Limits lifted. Numbers went down. Quick.

Now my first vaccination will be jabbed into my arm on the 25th. The second one a month later. Now my country is opening its doors and borders again. Now all of the harsh rules and regulations are being lifted next week. Now I get to shop without a mask again. Play sports without a watchful eye on law enforcers showing up. Invite friends over without the curtains closed and return to life like it wasn’t derailed for over a year.

And now that final stage is here.

Hope – when we see the darkness winding down and the shimmers of light pointing us towards another round of taking-normal-life for granted. And though I hope we’ll be back to normal soon, with COVID as a bleak and distant chapter and memory of life…

I also hope we remember. Cause in the end. We’ll be the ones in the history books making it through all of those stages of grief. And thriving in spite of them.

I hope.

Still here

I miss you.
But you're still here,
And that feels kinda silly...
So I'll punch your shoulder and call you a weirdo.
See?
Who's vulnerable now?

I miss you.
And you're still here,
Which totally feels stupid...
So I'll gnaw your thigh and get you a new drink.
See?
Who's needy now?

I miss you.
Even though you're still here,
And no matter how stupidly silly that is....
I love how you make me miss you when you're still here,
Almost as much as I hate you leaving.

Wait.
Who am I kidding.
I totally hate you leaving more.

But I love that I get to miss you.

Oh. And you.
Just sayin'.

I should know better.

Every day – and I literally mean every single day – I do things that can only be qualified as ‘stupid’. Actually, plainly and undeniably stupid. For no other reason than me, apparently, being a stupid person. Yet, every time I undertake one of these stupid endeavors, I am well aware of the fact that it is – in fact – stupid. Which (if you’re being honest) makes the whole thing even more stupid.

Stairs, for instance. Stairs are one of my weaknesses.
My multitasking tendencies mean that I often think that I can combine my time spent walking up and down stairs with other tasks, so as to save mere moments of time. Now, if you grew up in a household that had any respect for safety – you will have been brought up on the wisdom that you shouldn’t run with food (or lollies, or forks or scissors) because you’ll totally fall and hurt yourself. Same goes for stairs. Don’t go up or down stairs too fast, or while holding evil objects or while unfocused.

Yet, now that I spent some time in loverboys house, who is the proud owner of a set of stairs, I see myself casting all of this wisdom aside. And internally yelling at myself for doing so, while still doing it.

Chargers, for one. I have this thing about taking chargers with me from the top floor to downstairs and the other way around. But I can’t be fucking bothered to pick up the entire cable.
Aka – I walk up those stairs with a cable dragging behind me. Which, as you might suspect, makes it an easy risk for tripping over said wire. And, seeing as I’ve already took a tumble down these stairs on that exact reason, is something I should NOT do. Yet still do. I’m stupid.

Clothes, even worse! Somehow my brain thinks that getting dressed halfway down the stairs is a smart move. It isn’t. Especially when you’re trying to survive a heatwave by slipping on a tiny dress, grandly nekkid, and getting stuck while throwing it over your head while taking the stairs. RISQUE!
Can you just imagine the scene if that goes wrong? I can. It ain’t pretty.
Yet after said incident I still found myself doing THE EXACT SAME THING this morning. Being acutely aware or the stupidness of it.

I should know better.
But I never learn.

Einstein would call me the stupidest of stupid.

On the job

Have you ever had the type of job where you lost track of reality?
Not in an ‘constantly- hallucinating’ kind of way, but in a way where you’re so focused on your own goings-on that you forget the bigger picture?

I have (obviously, or I wouldn’t be writing this blog).

My job mainly consists of (as I subtly put it) making money for my boss. Which I do by winning deals, as a bidmanager. Or tendermanager. Or dealmaker. Whatever title works for you. And the deals that I win tend to be either result-based or people-based deals with public entities. Aka. I make sure that we’re allowed to do projects or place people within the companies that we do business with. Yawn. I know.

The thing is – my job works with big numbers. They’re big deals, with big revenue, big capacity requests, huge demands and humongous effort-to-win. Which makes them both challenging and awesome (to win). BUT. AND IT’S A BIG BUT – They’re VERY separate from the day-to-day-lives of the colleagues of my 20k+ worldwide company.

They don’t see what I do. They don’t feel what I win or lose. They don’t know what I achieve, or fuck up or whateverthefuckIdowithmytime. UNTIL. UNTIL it hits them.
Which is a very thin line of understanding. You (or at least I) often lose track of what effects my work ACTUALLY has in the heat of the moment.

It works like that with every job. At McDonalds, for instance, my interaction with a customer ended the moment I handed them their food. My targets were met, my script was done, my mission completed. But that’s only when things started for them. They still had to see, eat and judge their orders. Yet, I never really considered that part of their experience. Wasn’t my job.
My job at a clothes store? I checked out after the customer interaction. Advising them on their choices. Ringing up their purchases. Done. But that’s when their lives continued. Fitting clothes at home, actually wearing them, all that stuff.

Today I was confronted (or challenged, to put it positively) to look beyond. In my own part-of-the-process I was responsible for writing a bid. A bid that included a person. Well, multiple (12) people actually, which were part of the team we were offering to a client. And in my silo-of-peace which is our bid, I only recognised these people as input-items in a text I was writing. Until one of them accepted a different offer for a different project.

Suddenly I was confronted with an actual human being who made an actual choice who took him to an actual place which was beyond my scope. And my world crumbled.

The thing is – we very much are eager to forget that our actions, choices and thinking are only of import to the things we do for ourselves. And just as this real life human being choosing something different was an inconvenience to me, my choices might be the same for others. But I didn’t realize, because of the routine-that-is-work.

But every choice I make reflects on ALL the people that either get (or don’t get) a new job because of me. Get new opportunities because of me (or have them taken away). It determines the path of the company and MANY of the people within it. And all I register is that I need to write 2 A4s of text to win a bid that is just a bid to me. It’s insane. Stupid. And irresponsible to think that my only effect on this world is my direct environment. Because everything I do causes its ripples in my company.

And everything we do in life, causes ripples for those around us,

If only we were more aware of the profound effects we can have on the world.
We’d live in a better one.

Road to success

The ‘success’-reel that is Social Media has been an ongoing topic (of complaints) for as long as Social Media have been a thing. The constant overflow of happy moments, with little (or no) attention to the failures, dark moments and ‘really seriously wrong’ things in the lives of those involved keep causing ruckus when it comes to our online intake. And I totally get that. All of it. Both the need to show off the successes, the good things and the happiness, AND the complaint that it’s stupid, unfair and unrealistic to do so.

It’s a mindset thing, obviously. One that, very paradoxically, we can’t really seem to pick a side in either. Because we’re taught to celebrate our successes. To revel in our wins. To be (overly) ambitious and to overachieve and and and. The rose-tinted glasses and the happy shiny sunny world are a big part of our personal path to paradise. But simultaneously we don’t think that we should be showy with these kinds of things. Simultaneously we think that people should be honest about how they got where, instead of just highlighting the end-results. It’s mindboggling really.

Take my LinkedIn feed, for instance. It’s generally got at least three posts on it from happy graduates describing their never-easy-path-to-that-diploma. Stories on how they battled the system, or themselves. On how they endured, persevered and struggled-but-overcame. Stories on how hard they worked, on how well they scored and on how proud they were. All’s great for them, obviously. In the end. Yet those victorious moments are very seldom enriched with the stories on how they also skipped school when they were younger, which is why they had to battle through three layers of education. They don’t detail how they fought their parents over not wanting to do homework. Or how they chose sorority parties over exam-crunching. They don’t show the frustration and tears over yet another failed exam. The corners cut, the C-sses that fill up the graduation sheets and the overall complete lack of reality in how-the-future-will look.

I take it all with a grain of salt.

Same goes for my Facebook feed. Man. It’s overflowing with weightloss or personal journey successes. Girls I know who lost 30kg in two years time (mad respect) and now look like shimmering happy stars in their own right. All the power to them. Yet their pretty-new-body pictures and cheerful power-posts and motivational speeches very rarely reflect the moments I personally KNOW they must have. The secret binges (and purges) when the crash diet just overwhelms. The tears when the scale AGAIN isn’t showing a decrease, even though you worked so hard. The moments in bed when you wonder why everything isn’t working out for you even when you’re doing everything right and the world is just horrible and you’re never going to reach that target goal and the fact that you’re even bothering is just insane so you just get out of bed and order a pizza cause fuck’all anyway. You know what I mean.

I take it all with a grain of salt.

Same goes for the happy parents showing off their precious new baby. With no mention of the bouts of anger and yet another period. The waterfalls of tears on yet another failed treatment. The intense horrors of a miscarriage, negative result or whatever-else-it-took to create that beautiful baby. Same goes for the loveydovey powercouples who got hitched in the most gorgeous locations, with the fanciest cakes and most beautiful dresses. No mentions of the nightly bitchfights and horrible inlaws. That one-time-we-cheated or the fact that they secretly feel that they’re just settling anyway.

Every journey to the top and every personal success has an ugly side. They’re all gritty in the down and dirty deep recessesses. The dark corners where failure and history and doubts and selfpity fester. And the fact that we don’t see them, that we’re not shown that they exist – doesn’t make their existence any less true.

Yet. I’ll admit. When people DO show their struggles. When they do get up close and personal, when they share all of their distress, and hardship and dark moments….I ALSO check out. I can’t take all of that. Shouldering all of those is a LOT harder when you know other people have had to endure them as well, and they’ll probably be in you future too.

Which is why one day I’ll resent the ones that showboat all of their successes. And the other day I’ll detest those who can’t get it done. Why I often find myself wishing I knew better, and sometimes I wish I didn’t know at all.

Because no matter what the topic – knowing that there’s a world outside your own personal bubble…that IS or ISN’T so much like your own…
Most often is not a comfort. It’s a weight that’s there. And honestly. I REALLY do want to lose some weight.

Wait. Maybe quitting Socials is just the simple solution here. HM!


Personal Blogging – The I-thing

One of the lessons about writing that’s stuck with me throughout my entire writing career (even though calling my writing endeavors a career is very ambitious) is a very simple one.

You should not start a sentence with I.

Not only does it apparently feel like an eyesore – it also quickly turns repetitive, is viewed as narcissistic and is just generally ‘observed’ as an unpleasant way of writing. I’m not joking. These were all things that I was told AND they’re on the internet so they must be true.

And honest to god, I’ve bent myself in pretzels over the years, trying to avoid starting my blogs with the word I. I’m a good little writer like that. Well-behaved, following the rules, standing in line. Yaknow. Blending in. Gotta do it right, or not at all, innit?

Well. Let me tell you one thing I’ve also learned:
This madness is completely and utterly stupid. For me. In my blogging.

Truthfully, I get how a book written in first person narrative MIGHT get a bit annoying to read if it’s 200 pages of ‘I this‘ and ‘I that‘ followed by some ‘and then I this and then I that‘s. My eyes would not be happy when submitted to so much I-ness either. It’s a sensical rule. It makes sense. There’s some good thinking behind it. It helps. It’s smart. I can’t fault the rule in that regard.

But. And it’s a STRONG but here. When it comes to PERSONAL blogging. You know, the type of blogging where you write solely about your personal life, and personal things happening to your very own person (and the unfortunate buggers involved in your personal inner circle). When it comes to personal blogging – I think it should be all about the I. I write about I, so you might expect some I’s along in the process.

Which, I guess, IS kind of narcissistic when you look at it. But honestly – the entire concept of me thinking my very-normally-normal life is interesting enough to bother the rest of the interwebs with is already the epitome of self-importance, ain’t it. So can’t really fault myself there.

So if I can’t really fault the rule for existing, nor myself for feeling it doesn’t suit me regardless…I think I might be stuck in an impasse. To I or not to I, that’s the question. And I think I’m just going to stay on the pretzel-path of attempted non-I-writing. But I refuse to completely avoid the I-thing from now on. I got rights too, yaknow. I can do what I want.

I will I.
And so should you!


PS. Wanna read more about the ins and outs and hows and whys of personal blogging round here? Click on, brave warrior, click on!
* Personal blogging – Risky Business
* Personal blogging – Dirty little secret
* Personal blogging – To be recognisable or to be unique?
* Personal blogging – Out for the count

* Personal blogging – Listless
* Personal blogging – The science of stars
* Personal blogging – The personal touch
* Personal blogging – The Voice

* Personal blogging – Patterns
* Personal blogging – Art of repetition
* Personal blogging – Choices
* Personal blogging – Looks matter
* Personal blogging – Clickitty PSA

Insanity

They say...
That trying the same thing...
Over and over again...
But expecting different results...
Is insanity.

But then why is it...
That when I gave you my heart...
I gave you all of it...
No holds barred.

Even though I knew...
Even though I see...
Even though the past has shown...
That it's not meant to be...

Mine.
Or ours.
Or Anyones at All...

Because love?
Real...honest...and true love...?
It's just the drop before the fall.

Isn't it.

But I'm still jumping.
For you.

Wee smirk

Man, I’m a sucker for accents. Totally and completely smitten with people who take sounding charming-as-fuck to the next level by putting a special layer of awesome on every word they speak.

It’s probably a remnant from my youth-trauma, growing up as ‘a Limburger‘. Limburg, for the Non-Dutch out there…is a province round here in the south of the country. And the people that live there…well…they have heavy accents. A soft G that they’re ridiculed about. And a practically semi-German pronunciation of a lot of things. It’s not like Frysian (which is its official own-language-within-a-country) but most Dutch people will confirm that ‘Limburgers’ practically speak their own language and are not understandable for anyone that isn’t from round there (hell, the people from one town to the next almost have entirely different accents altogether, even).

And. Honestly. Most people would also agree that that particular ‘Limburgse’ accent…isn’t particularly attractive. Pretty horrid, actually. Plus – it’s been proven that people instantly think that people with this accent are a lot less intelligent as well. Which, for someone who leans on their IQ quite a bit – is stupendous.

Anyway – that’s my accent-trauma, I suppose. Even though these days I can manage to pass for someone not-from-Limburg on my good days, I’ve been told. It’s slowly fading (about time, after 15 years of not-living-in-Limburg). But wherever I go in the Netherlands, people instantly know where I stem from, without question. ‘You’re from below the rivers, aren’t you?‘. Le sigh. Yes. Yes. I am. -wipe tear-

So, people that DO have attractive accents get me all hyped. Especially Australian. That’s instantly drool-inspiring. But I like a lot of ’em, to be fair. English, any way it’s spoken, just gets me every time. Hell, I watched Outlander pretty much only for the gorgeous Scottish (men) and pretty phrasings (and Frasers). Peaky Blinders for the Birmingham yumminess (and Cillian Murphy, obviously). Call the Midwife and Land Girls for…well…everything. And don’t get me started about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie movie. Generally, period pieces in pretty accents are totally my thing.

And when I came across Derry Girls yesterday, I instantly rejoiced. Irish accents – praise be the Lord! I wasn’t disappointed. It’s awesome. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this accent would fall in the ‘attractive’ category (it doesn’t) but it’s a feast for the ears none the less. But the words they have. It’s epic. They make me happy. The ‘wee’ everything they manage to slip in everywhere. YUM.

Aka – I was sat on me couch fer the entire night. Havin’ a wee smirk at all the goings on in 90’s Ireland. And for a moment I could forget my horrible roots and accompanying accent thanks to these wains and their madness!