#IdowhatIwant

People like patterns. Routines. Set sequences of activities in hierarchical order executed at expected times during mapped out time-spans. We’re creatures of habit that way. Which is fine. It’s fine. Totally fine.

Until it’s not fine. Until it becomes an imposition on the way you fill your days and the way you distribute your energy. Because sometimes – you just don’t feel like ‘doing things the way you’re supposed to’. Some days ‘living up to expectations‘ is a chore-too-far.
(omg how clever is that wordplay on a door too far?!)
And since ‘following the herd‘ is not (and has never been) my penultimate goal in life – I have spent a lot of years teaching myself that it IS ok to (want to) override these patterns. And choose yourself and your own needs over what is expected. I suppose that’s where 2020 hypeword ‘Selfcare‘ found its birthing place.

These are the days that I personally can NOT deal with the phrase ‘have to‘. Someone will tell me ‘you have to…somethingorother‘ and all my mouth is willing to reply is (in Dutch, obviously): ‘Ik moet niks!‘ (I don’t ‘have to’ anything).
(Exactly the reason why all those management books teaching you how to be a great leader always warn against using words like ‘must‘ and ‘have to‘ and ‘need to‘)

These are the days that I cancel things. Cancel activities. People. Promises. Not in that unbearable sjw #cancelculture way but simply in the ‘I‘m scratching things from my agenda for some much needed me-time‘ way. And I don’t have to justify that choice to anyone – which pretty much means that anyone thinking they have a say in such matters gets a less than pleasant treatment (sorrynotsorry).

These are sadly also the days that I start viewing those simple, boring, household questions that everyone ask in their mindless chats as frigging booby-trapped trick questions.

An innocent:
‘Hey, how’ve you been?’
Is suddenly a question asked by someone who MUST be thinking I’m having a mental breakdown or something right?
Fine? Why? What’ve you heard?!’

And someone asking me for my plans for the day makes me feel like I SHOULD be doing something with my day, because saying ‘I got nothing planned‘ every damn time feels so lifeless. Like I should be booking my agenda full of exciting things. While we’re in damn lockdown.
I’m couchpotatoing and Netflixing. Like everyone. Duh. Why. Are you going skydiving into a dunktank filled with sharks or something?‘ (but that’s not a socially acceptable answer, eh?).

These are also the days when a question-out-of-interest suddenly feels intrusive judgement. For instance: that one obsession for a lot of people (dinnertime – wtf, why is that of importance to you?) triggers the over-the-top dramaqueen that is inside me:
‘What are you making for dinner tonight?’
‘Wine.’

(And then I sit there imagining their semi-shocked and semi-amused face at the silliness of that answer). Meanwhile my head will go: -Suck it. I don’t have to conform to people-who-cook. I can just order in food and that won’t make me a failure at being a human.-. While they were just interested in what would be on my plate. Whoops!

The thing is: I realize all too well that, on most of my days and in most socially accepted regards – I do not fit the bill. Nor would I want to. But I want people to think that I do (#contradictions). Yet I desperately want to make my own patterns. I hold to my own routines. I follow my own trends. #IdowhatIwant.

I WILL have dinner for breakfast (starting the day with pizza is just awesome). I will make breakfast for dinner (because pancakes are just a meal. No argument). I will answer plain questions with complicated answers (I’ll let you know how I actually am instead of going the standard ‘good’ at the how’re you? question) and I will withhold any sort of detail on a question asked out of genuine interest. I can spend the nightly hours doing daytime things and have no qualms napping away my Sundays.

And regardless how wrong that behavior is for society. For me that way of living is more than OK.
Even if that means sometimes posting silly rants like this in the relatively anonymous freedom of the web, hoping to find like-minded souls that tell you that you’re not wrong for behaving like you want to instead of like you’re expected to.

Home Office Dangers

First of all let me get this straight (#unpopularopinion incumming):
This whole C-business forcing us to be cooped up at home – I don’t mind it one bit. YAY for the home office!

Seriously. I had to work in the office yesterday. Do you KNOW how (after a 6 month detox) UNBEARABLE it is to wear -gasp- underwear and heels FOR MORE THAN 8 HOURS?! Excruciating. It’s fucking torture.
I have no qualms about working from home, setting my own times. Wearing what I want and speaking to who I want, virtually, whenever. It suits me just fine. Human interaction? PFAH. Overrated!

Although. And this is where today’s blog comes into play:
I have made some epic mistakes when it comes to working from home. Everyone has, I imagine, with Zoom/Skype/Teams meetings suddenly becoming normalcy instead of exception and with webcams becoming a valid part of life instead of an always covered laptop option. Hell. There’s an infinite flood of bloopers reels like found above to underline this fact. And I am no different.

I mean. There was that one time where I was muted in a meeting but making loveydovey eyes at the ex. With my teammates commenting on why I looked so radiant and why I was mouthing sweet nothings to someone off camera. Not a smart move. Or that time someone else walked in naked (not on cam, thank the lord) during a board-meeting but I still broke out into hysterical laughter during someone’s passionate speech. Autsch! That wasn’t easy to explain.

Obviously there was the time when the wineglass of the night before (only half consumed because it was…just…too…much) was still perched on the edge of the table within cam-view while talking to my manager (big whoops!) and the time I was happily bouncing along to some Christina Aguilera song (you know which one) with a meeting that I was first into already open. With the cam on. AWKWARD SURPRISE DANCE SHOW!

And fuck. I still have trauma’s from that time that my hair decided to go full unkempt curl afro hair explosion and I joined a meeting that automatically switched on cam. I did not need my teammates to see the horrendous state of my hair Teams, tyvm. Douchewad.

All of them…not my proudest moments.

But then today. Oooooh today.
I had an office day yesterday. Tough day. Heavy day. Headache inducing way-too-much-work-day (that went well, luckily). So I had planned my agenda to empty of meetings today. Recovery mode you know. I am an ambivert after all, people drain me. And it was great. Got a lot of stuff done. Was being all productive. Was having fun with some texts I’m working on. And then the Lead Sales on one of my deals calls. I figure he might have important input so I take the call. Without (once again) realizing the cam would switch on (normally solo calls are just that…calls).

And I’m sitting there. In my penguin onesie. That I live in these days. But don’t necessarily need my colleagues to know about. Normally I go pro-at-the-top-part-at-the-bottom. Not today.

And well. That look of surprise and the hesitant ‘ehhhh….you realize the cam is on?’ were not the highlight of my day, let me tell you.

So there. Please.
All of you.
Be aware of the dangers of the home office.
Mostly to your composure.

The Need for Speed

In todays episode of ‘connecting completely separate things in totally unlogical ways’:
The speed limiter on my car and it’s relevance in personal development!
DUNDUNDUN.
You guys ready for this? It’s gon be farfetched and awesome. I pwomise. You know me by now!

So. This morning I’m in my car right. Places to be, people to see, the works. It’s early, I’m on the highway and I’m a responsible adult so I’ve put my speed limiter up to 105 km/h (since it’s a 100km/h speed limit).

I don’t use cruise control, obviously, I like to be in control of my pedals instead of letting that car think for me too much, but the limiter I do use when I try to avoid getting more tickets (I have this rebellious nature that makes sure I cannot be restricted by something as petty as a speed limit. I drive my speed, tyvm). The road I’m on is often inhabited by mean cops trying to punish you for just wanting to get where you going. Even if that’s a little faster than appreciated. So fine. I use the limiter.

Thing is:
I might even be too stubborn for this speed limiter that’s just doing it’s job. It prevents you from driving faster than the speed you’ve set, regardless of how much you press down on the gas pedal.

It’s infuriating, really.

And I WILL hold that pedal down, even if it doesn’t make me go any faster. Especially if there’s an old lady in a Suzuki Swift overtaking me just because I’m keeping to a government imposed limit instead of driving to my max potential. UNFAIR.
Self-induced roadrage. Selecting a limit for yourself and then getting frustrated for not being able to drive your car over it. I’m such a weirdo sometimes.
Especially since I found out that flooring it and then double tapping overrule that limiter. Guess how often I drive the limit now?

Indicative of my life, really. Because that’s how I am with personal limits and boundaries as well. Great in setting them, awesome at determining them, good at recognizing them and then….totally incapable of upholding them. It’s a total defect in my human capacities. Horrible, really.

Because I KNOW that there’s a limit to what I’m capable of. And that there’s boundaries that I should set for myself to work within. That there’s reasonable reasons to hit the brakes every now and again and that there’s lines you just shouldn’t cross. That there’s no way I can always drive at full speed and live free of restrictions enforced by the world around me. It’s impossible.

I know that when I tell myself ‘this is as far as I go’ I SHOULD actually attempt to make that a truth. That when I tell myself ‘no more’ that doesn’t mean ‘just a little extra can’t hurt’ or ‘it’s too much but I’ll survive’. And yet I always find myself pushing the pedal to the metal in spite of turning on that speed limiter.

I’m a burn-out guarantee in those terms, or so they tell me. The fact that I’m willing to continuously go above and beyond my speed limit, in fear of being overtaken by elderly women in a Suzuki Swift (or more capable, experienced or ambitious career tigers) is NOT the way that the car was designed, nor the way I’m built to survive.

I’m a heartbreak guarantee in those terms, so life’s taught me. The fact that I’m able to be talked into things my brakes scream for me to brake at for the sake of love, or to endure speeds that I’m wholly uncomfortable with – is NOT what that speed limit is for, not is my heart meant to suffer it.

I’m an addiction guarantee in those terms. Because even when I set limits and then effortlessly shove them aside when I feel like it means that ‘stopping at that last drink’ or ‘not ordering that extra fatty, cheese loaded pizza’ or ‘I can keep gaming for an hour, I don’t need the sleep’ is GOING to break me up someday. Sooner, rather than later. If I don’t crash the car into a wall first, that is. Obviously.

Safe to say:
After giving myself a stern talking to I just drove the entire way back from work…without switching off that speed limiter. At least that I CAN change. Now for the rest of it….

Play your cards right

It could have been so different.
It should have been so different.
My heart knows it. My soul believes it.
It is nothing but a solemn truth.

If only the world had been different.
If only we had been different.
They knew it. We never believed it.
But it was always an undeniable truth.

If only it had been a different time. A different place.
If only we’d have different names or found ourselves in a different age.
There could have been a different truth.

Yet you can’t always play that winning hand.
And there’s definitely no winning it all.
When you’re holding the winning cards….
To a different game.

Personal Blogging – The science of stars

You guys.
Hey. You there. Yes. You. Reading this.
Can you tell me something? Is my head getting bigger? I feel like it must be getting bigger. Oh man. What if it gets so big that I can’t wear headbands anymore? My hair is too short to stay back on its own. I NEED HAIRBANDS!
And my ego? Can you smell it from where you’re sitting? God, I hope not. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you did. Hell. I’m sometimes even surprised that I can still walk with all the feathers currently crammed up my bee-hind.

Honestly – I joke (a little) but these past almost-three months have been a parade of things that are great boosts for feeling good. About myself, that is. Because who knew: one of the perks of personal blogging is a daily shower of loving likes and liking to be loved that totally gets you in an ‘awwww yissss, I’m feeling mahself‘ kinda zone. Booyah!

Ain’t no one over the top like my girl Christina <3!

That little number on the bottom of the blog telling the world how many people follow it – is increasingly getting bigger. 850 it was this morning. That’s insanity, isn’t it? And don’t even get me started on the amazing comments I get. They’re so lovely and nice and heartwarming (sometimes maybe even a little too much so, actually. You know. that #awkward category of a bit-over-the-top replies? I still need a manual on how to handle those, man. )

But that following-‘o-mine? It’s growing. Faster than expected and quicker than I understand. But I love it, none the less. That tiny number getting bigger and bigger. Soon, I’ll not even call it small anymore, I wager. I wonder when that is.

It leads to me cracking my brain though – I AM an overthinker after all. Because with all the people bashing the little star to ‘like‘ my content. With all the hilarious, lovely and nice folk finding the ‘comment‘ button and with all the daring, brave peeps who actually hit ‘follow this blog‘ I wonder: how does this work in the brains of people that are not-me?! And how much of it is actually…yaknow….real? (In as far as an entirely virtual puddle of words can even be real to begin with).

So naturally. I’ll start with myself (center of the universe and all that, right). And tell you the science behind stars in my eyes. And the process of a like-and-follow-from-moi. Because reading blogs from other magnificent writers around the world has now thoroughly banished my 1/2 hours pre-bed-book-reading entirely. I read blogs now. Fuck books. And likes? They exist in these categories (aka: why I wonder if other people are weird like me, in this regard) if you ask me:

  • The ‘hell-yes-this-is-awesome’ star
    When I read something I genuinely like I’ll hit that star like there’s no tomorrow. AND read the next 5 entries on that blog. Or the next ten. And bash the follow button so they might never escape me again. The best of likes, this one! The purest one, too.
  • The ‘support’-star
    I start my mornings these days plowing through my reader feed. Catching up on the blogs that caught my eye and made the follow list. And most of these? Regardless of what they post – I’ll give them that star cause they’re just that awesome. Me and mine deserve all the stars of the world, after all. Support stars, woohoo!
  • The ‘Oh-but-I-commented’-star
    I love nothing more than the posts that evoke a reaction. That elicit a response. That make me WANT to comment on my perception, their effect of the truth in them. But if I comment on something I’d feel weird if I didn’t also grant it a star. Cause youknow. I commented.
  • The ‘I-just-walked-in’-star
    I bloghop. A lot. A lot a lot, actually. Cruise from one blog to the next from an entries suggestions list, or the comment section, or the list of likes. You find new gems that way, quickly. And hey, when I read your latest post I have this ‘Mount Everest’ urge. I gots to let you know I was there. So have a star! And should I end up in your neck of the woods again and be star-inclined again: guess what – have a follow!
  • And then there’s the category I don’t personally ever ‘star’ in – but acknowledge none the less:
    The ‘GODDAMN-I-NEED-ATTENTION-PLEASE-SEE-ME’-star. You know, where your phone explodes because SOMEONE likes ALL of your postings in the span of three minutes. Causing your poor ears to suffer a continuous wave of BLEEPS as they do so. Please don’t. Really. I rather you actually READ my stuff, and not like anything instead of just…forcing me to singlehandedly click away each and every one of the damn notifications. ANNOYING AS FUCK.

And though I thoroughly enjoy the ‘bleep’ telling me that somebody hit that star on a writing of mine – I WILL admit that it takes the last place in that hierarchy of recognition. I appreciate comments above all else. People that read what I write and felt moved to formulate a response. Be it a compliment, a joke or their interesting view on the topic: I like that look inside other peoples brains the very most. Followed closely by the eg0-stroking ‘follow‘ (because at least that number validates my ‘hobby’ in a way). And only then is there the like. Always with the fear that it’s only a star from those latter two categories. Attention-whoring. Not actual appreciation. But yaknow. Still awesome.

Because, after all, we ALL deserve that pat on the back. That ruffle of the hair. That golden star sticker and that virtual appreciation because ‘we’ bloggers do what many don’t: share ourselves. Online. And that deserves any and all recognition we can give! Huzzah!

PPS.
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

Darkness

Today I am pondering the concept of darkness. Just to keep it ‘light‘ on your Saturday reading, right? Wrong.

It’s not going to be the basic ‘light-and-shadow-y‘ absence of light in our day to day lives, but the more metaphorical shape it may take, that I want to take a gander at today. Just for the hell of it. So letsa go: a talk about darkness:

That dark pit that resides within all of us, regardless of how bright we try to make our days and actions. That hiding spot for all our thoughts and feelings of vengeance, hate, cruelty and viciousness that we hold within ourselves, no matter how much we try to deny them power over us.

I have always been one to quickly give in to that darkness. I probably would’ve done very well as a pirate in the Black Sails universe (of the quotes found later in this writing). At my core I’m just not a very nice person, is the gist of it.

A black-and-white thinker, like myself, is effortlessly lured to passion, easily led to love but also swiftly bound for anger and quick to hate. The extremes of these emotions have always found grounds in my life, as I’ve always willingly given into them. It’s the dramatic streak that I have as a writer, I’ve always told myself. This incessant need to stir up the type of drama in my life that would do well in any of the classic Spanish tele-novellas. But it’s there, regardless of where it finds its origins. A darkness. And in me, it’s not that well hidden or deeply entrenched as in some of the better specimens of human. It’s always right there, just below the surface.

I assume my life would have been a lot easier had I not been so inclined. Things tend to go a lot smoother when you don’t drive them to the edges of their capabilities and preferably slightly over a breaking point, just to see if you can still fix it. But it’s what I do. My Modus Operandi. My go-to MO.

When I am wronged, I don’t focus on recuperation. I focus on retaliation. When I am hurt, I don’t make attempts at healing but attempts at getting even. When I am angered, I look for the ways to vent my frustrations and when I am sad, I find the ways to return the favor to the one who caused it. And when I give in to the darkness, I keep wanting more of it. It feeds itself.

It’s why I’ve often had these ‘stoplight‘ exes. Insane stories, memoir material all-round. Guys by whom I’d be hurt, and who I’d hurt back worse, only to put a great big band-aid over the cuts and bruises and have another go at it to see just how dramatic the story could get. It’s why I always feel that draw back to ‘rebooting‘ old loves. Because there’s already story there, that can only be added on to, and which then soothes my drama-craving soul. A merry-go-round of idiotic painfest bound to burn into cinders with me merrily watching myself go up in flames every new chapter.

There’s a Dutch saying: ‘Gedeelde smart is halve smart‘ (Shared sorrow is half sorrow) , meant to lighten the load for those who are feeling worn down. When you share your sorrows with a willing shoulder, they might carry part of the burden for you. I, however, abuse that saying to the max of its other context. When there’s sorrow on my plate, I will make sure to lessen my load by dealing it to other guilty parties, where and whenever possible. It’s how I’m wired.

Truthfully: I do try to resist. And I often even succeed.
Honestly: It’s been getting better over the years, I have a more firm handle on my darker urges and generally succeed in remaining on the ‘good‘ side of things.
Frankly: These days I tend to recognize and thwart these unhealthy tendencies way before they come to fruition, so much so that I’d almost think I’m getting the hang of this adulting thing.
Actually: These past three years I’ve even managed to avoid falling into these age-old character-traps altogether. Sometimes.

But that doesn’t mean it’s no longer there.
That voice of darkness (as so beautifully put in that first Black Sails quote below). I do see it now, for what it is, when I tell myself to act in certain ways. And though the lure ‘of the story‘ is often still there, I have learned how to rewrite the current narrative to better suit my needs, instead of boosting my story lines with some additional drama.

But sometimes. Oh sometimes. I just crave the drama. Need that darkness. Sometimes – I just want to give in. Guess I just really like that cloak it’s wearing (see quote 1). And lucky for me, quote 2 ties into what I firmly believe. It’s that same darkness that tells us most about who we truly are. THE place to learn all that we can be. So you know. I’ma add a bit of darkness to my light. Always.


Spoiler alert:
Read on for a lovely scene and two terrific quotes from my new go-to series.
Don’t do that though, if you haven’t watched season 3 yet (and still want to!)

Spoiler alert: This is an actual outtake from a seasons 3 episode of Black Sails – if you’re following the series but haven’t made it there yet: don’t open it! 😉 If you do watch: start at 02:20 to learn about darkness in the Black Sails world. Or just read the quote below.

Quote 1 from Captain Flint:
 Maybe you went too far. Maybe you didn’t go far enough. Maybe you did it just right. The point is that while you were doing it, you heard a voice telling you that disciplining him would prevent him from repeating the offense, a voice that sounded like reason, and there was a reason to it, as the most compelling lies are comprised almost entirely of the truth. But that’s what it does. Cloaks itself in whatever it must to move you to action. And the more you deny its presence, the more powerful it gets, and the more likely it is to consume you entirely without you ever knowing it was there.

Quote 2 from Captain Flint:
You must know this. You’re too smart not to know this. They paint the world full of shadows and then tell their children to stay close to the light. Their light. Their reasons, their judgments. Because in the darkness, there be dragons. But it isn’t true. We can prove that it isn’t true. In the dark, there is discovery, there is possibility, there is freedom.

A series of unfortunate (pet-)events

Disclaimer:
Before you start reading this: know that I am a true and honest petlover. I love the fluffy, the scaley, the scruffy and the slimy all in equal measure (except for wasps and jellyfish cause they freak me the fuck out). I cuddle puppers and have fostered loads of kittens and I volunteered at the animal shelters rescue ambulance so yaknow – I love beasties in general. But I also have a morbid sense of humor AND a long history of pet-insanity that led to this post (as inspired by a ‘goldfish escape’ in yesterdays Tinder Tales and Herbs request!). No harm was intentionally done here, but laughs there were a-plenty at their misfortunes.

Series 1: The slippery slope

Aquariums are DA BOMB. Seriously. I can park myself in front of one and just stare at the fishies for hours on end, especially if there’s some wavy water plants or bubbles in there. We used to have one when I still lived at home. And ours had this tiny cute little smiling eel-like creature in it. It was frigging adorable. Until one day…it wasn’t there anymore. Sad business. I must’ve spent three goes of cleaning the tank and looking for him, and an additional couple of hours staring at it, hoping he’d show.

Now. Fish have a habit of ‘disappearing’ (aka being eaten by bigger fish) but this particular creature would’ve been a tiny bit too big to have been eaten. So it was a mystery to us where the little bastard went. Until, months later, when we were moving the aquarium we found mister eel. The weirdo had (apparently) managed to slither out of the aquarium through the small gap where the air ventilation system dipped into the tank and went and fell down to the floor where he…welllll….shriveled up and petrified. YIKES!

Series 2: Does this castle make my ass look fat?

Our aquarium was always root of many a story with fish doing the weirdest of things. Like mister eel. And then there was the tragic tale of Fishy McFish. Fishy wasn’t the prettiest of fish, but boy, did he grow. A murky greyish yellow and definitely determined to become the biggest of his brothers and sisters the fastest, he was. He swam around the tank like he was the king of it, and in that capacity often perched in the arch of the obligatory little stone castle that we had smack damn in the middle of it.

One day I sat myself in front of the tank, looking at the fishies going about their day to day business. Except for Fishy McFish. He seemed very intent of guarding that little castles arch. A little bit too intent, I concluded after 3 minutes of watching him not move, before realizing he was literally…not…moving. I will spare you the gory details, but Fishy had grown so big that he’d got himself stuck in that arch and perished. We had to unceremoniously hack him out of that castle. YUCK!

Series 3: Big bird not big enough

Awww man. This one time we found a cockatiel sitting in the middle of the street. Obviously we took him home. The fact that the psycho was sitting right there might have warned us of the fact that we were taking in a not-really-normal bird. But hey, I loved birds and he needed help, you know. So we installed him in the house, and (I kid you not) this stray turned into the BEST (yet, weirdest) bird ever.

He was tame as the best of them, loved cuddles, had an obsession with tomato soup (which he’d used to dip his entire head into if he got the chance) and he LOVED our dogs. Used to flitter down and walk around like he was one of them. Wanted to be one of them, as such. A bit too much, as it turned out in the end.

We had a pug (the infamous Sjeng) around that time, and a Parson Jack Russell that both had issues with food. Which meant that around feeding time they’d start a contest of who could inhale their plate the soonest to then start ogling the remains of the other hoping they’d get a chance. Which was fine. Until this STUPID bird decided to land right in the middle of them during feeding time, like the ‘big dog’ that he was.

Not the greatest plan, I might add, and naturally he had one of them snap at him in protection of their bowl. He was untouched, mind you, just got a very close encounter with glistening white teeth. Enough to actually SCARE him to death right on the spot. A heart attack. Plop. He actually made one of those stiff and dramatic drops to the floor like they do in cartoons. Poor bird.

Series 4: I’m a bit tied up right now, baby

Apparently fish and birds had an interesting shelf life at our place. Or we just got the nutcases, also possible. Take for instance our voliere of goldfinches that we used to have outside in the yard. They were delightful little creatures, always busy working on something or others and chirping cheerily while doing so. At one point one little finch was born which…was a little slow (we always suspected). He was a fat chubby little thing, always fluffed up, a lot less flighty than his brothers and sisters and just a bit…funny. We loved him for it.

And then one time Dommie (a derogatory ‘Stupid’ in Dutch) decided he would have to make a nest. He worked on it diligently, plopping little bits of feather and twigs in a corner of the cage. So, we (as the accommodating pet owners) got him some nesting material. Stringy fibers very suitable for nestbuilding, specially sold by the pet store for that purpose. I wonder if they ever got any complaints from other people.

Because when we got down in the morning Dommie had strung himself up. The dumbass had gotten himself stuck in a tangle of the material and somehow managed to wrap it around one of the branches and…actually…hung…himself. We found him slightly swinging in the breeze. Dead as can be while trying to bring about new life. Damn tragic. But a teeny bit hilarious, at the same time. You shoulda seen him. It was funnier than it reads. Really!

I wonder what the common denominator was for all these accidents. Maybe…we were so horrible that all of them opted out in the most extreme of measures. Or maybe they were actually all just a little ‘special’ (like attracts like, after all). But all of them were awesome while they lasted, and unforgettable in their deaths. At least.

Maybe I should rethink getting a pet to help me through corona though…
Just maybe.


Tinder Tales – Why ARE we here?

En wat zoek jij op Tinder, dan?
Translation:So, what are you looking for on Tinder?

It is THE most seen line (by me, anyway) on Tinder that tends to come up in pretty much ANY conversation I have on there (there’s quite some data available). And it vexes me to no end. Seriously. This poor sentence, strung together as it is, enrages me so much that my brain is only willing to formulate THE most irrelevant, snide, cynical or stupid replies to (what I feel is) the most obvious question ever:

  • Wait. This is Tinder? I thought I was on the dark web, looking for a new slave!
    That ended in an immediate unmatch, guess it was the wrong answer.
  • Boreddom, just checking out what’s on the market’
    This somehow always leads to a pouty ‘oh, so you don’t actually wanna hook up or meet someone then?!’ as if I’m committing a heinous crime, abusing Tinder for my own malicious purposes.
  • ‘I’m looking for the best spot to purchase a new goldfish. Mine just escaped.’
    Never actually used it, but still want to.
  • ‘I’m hustling boys and selling raffle tickets for my softball-club’
    Actually used, AND successfully so!
  • ‘I have a serious sports injury and my physiotherapist suggested I practice the swipe-right motion for recovery-purposes. This seemed like a good place to get some practice’
    Only got a ‘haha’, followed by a quick diversion to whether we should swap numbers so we could also swap pics of our genitals (you can assume correctly that I did not go for this ‘tempting’ offer)
  • I just ordered some IKEA furniture and I need someone to come build it for me’
    Also actually used, and successfully so. Hell. That particular dude even stuck around for three months or so after.

Anyway, you catch my drift, right?
The question. Is. Lame.

Because when you’re on Tinder – you know why you’re on Tinder. They know why you’re on Tinder. Everyone you mention to that you’re on Tinder knows why you’re on Tinder. So honestly, WHAT answer ARE you expecting?
I guess it’s an easy conversation maker. And I suppose the generic answers would either hint towards being on Tinder for ‘fun’ or for ‘more’ (which is an important distinction to make if you’re a fuckboy trying to get laid, I suppose). But maaaaaan – can you uncover this crucial information a bit less auspiciously and generic?

These days, seeing as I’m in picky-as-fuck-and-not-really-interested mode anyway – I imagine myself sitting on the couch next to a big ole lever. With Tinder potentials popping up on the table in front of me, spinning in circles slowly so as to be assessed from all angles. Blurting out their boring lines and silly questions.

And when they opt for the ‘So, what are you looking for on Tinder?’ I PULL on that lever. A hatch opens. They disappear into the dark despairing depths of ‘the well of Tinder Fuckboys’ and all I hear is their elongated cry on the way down:
‘Buuuuuuttttttt IIIIIIIIIII waaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnteeeeeeeeeeddddddddd annnnnnn eaaaaaaaasyyyyyyyyyyy scoooooooooooooooreeeeeeeee, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!’.

Extremely satisfying fantasy, to be frank. And a lot more imaginative than the general Tinder populace, sadly.

Up for some more Tinder Tales?
Keep it going!
Tinder Tales – Picture Perfect
Tinder Tales – Virtually Unique
Tinder Tales – Why ARE we here?

Winning over Justice

One of my core values is, and has always been Just- or Fairness (‘Rechtvaardigheid’ is the much broader Dutch word that suits me better). It’s what drives a lot of my behavior and it’s what has the most profound influence on the way I’m getting through my days. Obviously, since that’s pretty much why it’s a core value. But I digress (in the first paragraph already? Jeez, Zoë, get it together!).

Finding out what your core values are isn’t exactly the easiest of processes, and in my experience it was quite a grueling endeavor to get to the point where I can recognize AND maximize them to my advantage. I have my employer and line of work to thank for that opportunity, as my participation in several high potential and/or success programmes with intricate personal development courses allowed me to delve this deep into my being and reflect on the person my values make me. The company and this knowledge have helped me grow as a person over these past 5 years. Immensely so, even. Especially now that I know, acknowledge and accommodate my core values on a more daily basis. Actively, instead of passively.

Fairness as a core value isn’t too complicated when viewed on the whole. As long as the things happening around me are (perceived by me as) fair – life is good. And when they aren’t? I get itches that need to be scratched. A balance that has to be returned. A wrong that has to be made right. Which, overall, is quite doable because I have created a world around myself that feels ‘fair’ to me. As far as possible (with the chaos in the world etc.).

But when you look at it on a more detailed level – fairness isn’t exactly an easy feature in a world like ours, that is built on imbalance and unfairness. There’s a lot of scenario’s where this value comes into play (way more than you might at first consider) and a whole lot of them are outside of my realm of influence altogether, leaving me in the negatives when I perceive unfairness and can’t do anything about it.

In the past, I’ve had periods where things just ‘weren’t tying in‘ to how I needed them to be. Times where I saw injustice done (to me or others) or viewed the world around me as being set up to work against me instead of with/for me. Fight or flight situations, to me, that couldn’t be looked away from. Grinding into the core of my being and steering my moods and actions. Which, looking back, weren’t all handled in the best of ways (I’m definitely a ‘fight’ kinda person).

Those moments ranged from silly things to more important matters. From the intangible to the material and from physical to emotional. There was the time that my colleague (started at the company at the same time and performing less well than I was on all fronts) got almost double the salary increase that I did. A cringe of unfairness to me, not because I’m all that much concerned about salary but because the unfairness of that process struck a nerve way down deep.

Was it because he was a guy in a predominantly male environment? Or the fact that his supervisor saw him as a buddy instead of as an asset while mine perceived me as a chore? It didn’t matter – it was the injustice of that (albeit relatively small) difference that had me all worked up. It got fixed after I spoke up about it (still a proud moment) and showed me how ‘just taking it’ isn’t always the best course of action.

There were moments in relationships were boundaries were unfairly created and/or crossed, resulting in increasing unhappiness and ugly battles – withering, eventually, into breakups. And that time earlier this year, when I joined a (male) softball-team in which I can’t play several of the positions ‘because I’m a girl’ (as stated by the sports association, not the team-members, fyi). Lots and lots of small and bigger things that play up in my day to day life where I feel a twitch in ‘the justice department’ of my heart and soul. And something I have to manage and work on, to avoid having it taking over my thoughts and actions, resulting in losing control.

So when I first felt a twinge of injustice in my current job, I immediately jumped on the reflection train to see where that originated and if it was something I need to do something about. You see, as a bid manager I have a daily focus on putting together, writing and WINNING the best deals for the company I’m employed at. I have to meet standards and requirements, deliver quality and outperform the rest of the competition and win over the clients that will ‘grant’ us their contracts (which, due to that single word means that it is actually mostly a subjective matter, instead of an objective process). And now I sometimes wonder: ‘is this the job that I should be doing?’

Because yes. It plays into my competitive side, A LOT. It’s important deals, there’s a broad field of competition and I can really ‘shine’ when things go well. The work is fun and challenging and the rewards are awesome. But. There’s a but.

This job – however much it might suit me in some areas – is never going to be ‘fair’. There’s deals I will win based on politics and smart sales-speeches instead of content and quality. There’s deals I will lose even though we’re the stronger competitor on that same level. There’s moments the quality of my work, however outstanding, will not determine my results and moments I will be judged for those unfair results over my actual work, however unfair that might be.

And that chafes and aches sometimes because it feels like a lack of control over my position in this world. If it’s not my work and effort that determines my success (like WAS the case in my last position as a software tester), if I can’t be at the steering wheel of people’s perception – am I really in the right place?

This Monday I won my first (solo-managed) deal. It was a team effort, obviously (as are all our deals) – but it was ‘my’ first win as a bid manager. An important contract, a very visible deal within the company and something that will surely benefit me and my employers in the long run. It. Was. An Awesome. Feeling! Truly. Top of the world. Cheering. Happiness.
Same thing happened last month when we won another (way bigger) deal in which I did all of the actual writing. Ecstatic joy all-round. But the strange thing was: we had not expected to win that one based on the quality of our work. While I lost a deal earlier this year that had us going ‘THIS IS IN THE POCKET!’

And that just, somehow, feels wrong. It feels great when it’s all well and good – but at the same time there’s this invisible ax looming over my head that I feel might drop at any moment on any other deal I work on. Because frankly – I don’t think that I have (enough) control over outcomes to be fully confident in my own abilities.

Still. I’m on a winning streak now, and I feel like (considering the quality that I do put out) we’re currently giving ourselves the best possible chances of winning when we’re not counting in the effects of the politics and powerplays. But I do wonder – in the long run – can I really thrive in a job where the end verdict on your person(al success) is based on results that find a foundation in an uncontrollable unfairness? Can I find a way to soothe that part of my core that revolts against the process? Can I put simple results over that need for just- and fairness?


Meditational Disaster

Please, on an average day – do NOT come and talk to me about the concept of ‘feeling’ energy. Or aura’s. Don’t preach to me about prayer, or mindfulness or *gasp* meditation. That whole floating bubble of illusion (or hallucinations), feelings and ‘getting in touch with your inner warrior’ is not my cuppa tea. At all. AT ALL. The most I’ll do is throw in a hefty facepalm and a breathless laughter at the sillyness of it all when it comes to me partaking in such things. I just….can’t.

If they work for you – have at it my dear lady (or sir). But that’s a boat I’m not getting on board of.

HOWEVER.
I AM the type of girl that says ‘I’ll try anything. Twice. (just in case the first time was a bust or a fluke, yaknow).’ So naturally, I HAVE downloaded a couple of those ‘breathing’ mindfulness-apps (turns out, I’m a pretty adequate breather on my own). Tried my hand at meditative yoga (which is not meant for hypermobile bodies, seeing as I’d have to re-insert my dislocated hip halfway through most sessions). AND turn up a ‘night sounds’ Spotify playlist to help soothe my nights (THAT actually works. Thank the lordy).

This playlist addiction came about after I discovered a guided meditation thingy on Youtube that I ACTUALLY connected to. One that describes visuals that I relate to and that has my imagination drifting off into a soothing sleep. Relaxing. Peaceful. Calming. UNTIL LAST NIGHT.

This dude is actually quite great, in other situations!

Imagine that it’s 3 a.m., after you’ve seen the clock turn to 1, and 2 and then 3, without your head seeming to be willing to make any attempt at dozing off (bastard!). Those are the times for desperate measures, so I got myself up out of bed and went and made some warm honeyed milk (that’s one of those inventions better than sliced bread) which I drank perched upside down on the couch, staring at the shiny balls on the Christmas tree (the world looks so different when you’re upside down, and I’m just weird like that). All good, so far.

Then all of a sudden it’s 3:30 and I figured that sleep is really a must-have if my brain has to actually work in the morning, so I hopped back up, discard the empty glass and scurried over to the toilet for a pre-bed visit (nothing sucks as much as having to get back up after you just buried yourself into a blanketnest).

BOOM. A male voice suddenly starts talking. In my man-less house. 3:30 in the morning. While I’m on a toilet in…not exactly a lot of clothing….ALONE. I don’t have to explain to you how my heart shot STRAIGHT into my throat. How I froze on the spot, panic gripping my heart and stealing my breath. Trying to figure out how to react, what to do, WHAT WAS HAPPENING. Fear striking in the most absolute of ways – nightmares coming true in front of my eyes. Ragged breaths, everything.

An adrenaline spike the likes of which has never been seen at this particular hour of night overcame me, and I was pondering if exiting a toilet, scantily clad, during a home invasion would be a smart move and whether I could get to my baseball bat in time. And just as I’d dedicated myself to that goal, the guy continued speaking:

Much of this meditation has to do with your subconscious mind.’

GODDAMMIT JASON.
Turns out that casually tossing your phone on the bed MIGHT (and will) pop up your Youtube to the ‘sweet soothing words’ of Jason unknowingly. Who WILL speak his sweet nothings and scare the LIVING DAYLIGHTS out of poor innocent girls with a bit of insomnia.

I’m pretty sure my towering adrenaline levels (and another 2 hours of not being able to sleep because of that) were NOT the goal of that particular guided meditation. Guess who’s getting deleted from my ‘play later’ Youtube list?!

Ps. Laughing is said to be healthy. Looking back on it now – I’m having a very very healthy day thanks to this nightly insanity. I’m such an idiot sometimes!

Pps. I’m SO TIRED OH MY GOD!