Monthly Archives: November 2008

A friend of mine just sent me a video clip, which touched my heart. The combination of cinematic narrative and lyrics leaves a haunting impression… Watch it here

Good night!


My off day is continuing, although I’ve done a fair bit of work today, such as cleaning up my computer, emails, and consolidating my plans for a personal project of mine. Nevertheless my mood is not lifting. So I start making a list of New Year’s resolutions for the next year. Hopefully this will get me rebooted.

My top 18 list (and not in order of relevance, but as they spring to mind)

1. Start training and get back into shape
2. Dance, Dance, Dance (at least 3 days a week)
3. Find my passion in life
4. Launch (codename for now)
5. Become financially independent (it’s of course relative)
6. Blog, blog, blog – I love writing and it gives me inner peace
7. Become more assertive – I used to be but somewhere it got lost
8. Follow my dreams (in terms of priority it’s numero uno!)
9. Close off certain chapters in my life
10. And start others
11. Look ahead
12. Have fun, and enjoy life
13. Write down my goals and achievements as they come every day
14. Not measure myself with other people – I am who I am and should follow my own course in life
15. Be a little bit selfish and think of what I really want (and do not!)
16. BUT know when to prioritise myself and when to prioritise others (the difference between looking out for my own interests and being an egocentric prick)
17. Be with people that gives me energy and scrap the people that don’t
18. Spend more time with my family – life is so short, and I want to see my kids growing up to become beautiful, happy and loving people

It starts HERE!

A happy picture from the archive

Some days feel completely off for no reason. You wake up, the sun is shining (which it is in fact not, but for sake of argument), and you have a brand new day in front of you. And still, you rather crawl under the blanket and fall asleep, waking up to yet a new day where everything feels great again. Today is a day like that. Perhaps dreams have something to do with it. I had two very strange dreams. The first one I was in a synagogue, and there were a lot of people everywhere scattered on the floor, like a massacre had taken place. I looked up, carefully, and the only face I see, that I recognise is Simon. From there on I can’t remember anything anymore. The second dream I get a call from my stepsister, who I haven’t had any contact with for over 18 months. Long and complicated story, but I still love her. She calls me and I’m really happy to hear her voice. She tells me about the last year, and although what she tells me are good news, I notice a sadness in her voice, loss and perhaps something close to confusion. That’s when I wake up. I tell my dreams, and it sets off a quarrel, over my dad. I try to put it behind, but in fact an eerie feeling is still lingering.

I read the news, whilst Reinout brings me yesterdays dinner leftovers in bed. They taste even better than the day before. I’m suppose to share it with him, but before I know it the plate is almost empty. So I go for a shower. The water is cleansing me, not only on the outside, but on the inside too. I lay down and let the drops hit my face. I feel relief.

After shower I make myself a citrosan (cold and cough is still there). Then I go upstairs to one of the guestrooms. There I have a little desk of mahogany that used to be my grandmother’s. I’ve decided to set up my home office there. In fact it already brings back positive memories. Because my mother gave me this desk when I was so fed up with my IKEA room. It sparked off a passion for antiques which I still nurture to this day. Antiques are in fact memories of the past, good and bad. But with that also comes security and stability. Security and Stability, I savour those common, rather dull words, digest them and re-digest. It feels safe.

My new office

Just got back home from a 3 hour lunch and shopping stint in town. I’m completely busted and my feet are aching. As my vanity still presides over comfort, I stubbornly continue to wear my high heels and boots.

Well time for a hot cuppa tea and my Cosmo.

Until soon…

Flowers for the living room

Body Shop and Lush products…time for a bit of luxury

Mindless relaxation

Last night we were out for dinner to celebrate a small business victory of my husband. We ended up at a really nice restaurant called Restaurant Fris. Reinout who had already been out for an early celebration came home in a funny mood, going on about suspect pictures and associations I was publishing. I guess it was all down to his voluminous alcohol intake, which may have started a tad to early for a Friday afternoon. Nevertheless he assured me all was well and he still loved me (a girl’s got to hear these things once in a while).

So we ended up at the restaurant, ordered about 5 starters – all at once – and started to devour our food. Somewhere halfway during dinner I managed to choke on my soup, which started off a hysteric cough attack. Great, just my luck! People were looking at me as I was the plague personified and apologetically I ran into the bathroom to spare them of the worst sight. 5 minutes later I came out and dinner was gone.

We ordered our desserts. As we were waiting, doing some small talk, Reinout saw the opportune moment to lay into me. I can’t disclose the topic – yet – but it’s sufficient to say he made me look like a dimwit prick with no sense of urgency, work moral, or brains for business. Perhaps he had a point. My pregnancy hormones rapidly started to rise, and tears were welling up in my eyes. I won’t cry, I won’t cry I kept repeating like a mantra, which also managed to serve as an involuntary block for the worst insults that were being launched at me. I managed to unblock myself, as the new me should be more susceptible to criticism. It worked, and I could see were he was getting at. In fact I was happy he was telling me “as it is”. It hit home. And as I was laying awake in my bed in the wee hours of the morning, I was racking my brains, going through every single detail of his monologue.

It felt good though, and waking up this morning, to a nice cup of coffee and good morning kiss, I felt strangely alleviated. After all tomorrow is another day”

I have with fascination followed the Swedish debate on feminism. Here is the one country in the world with the highest rate of working mothers, superior childcare system, 18 months paid maternity leave which can be shared with the father, and with women earning closest to a man’s salary (a whooping 88%). And still there appears to be a need for a feminist party, feminist organisations, laws etc etc. It’s perhaps not unlikely that gender equality is taken so seriously given all these initiatives, but as a Swede with a foreign mentality it often appears on the brink of absurd. To the point where I really wonder if women want to be treated in all aspects of life, the same as a man. And how does that impact the role of the man? I have this perception of the Swedish man being utterly confused if not in denial. At home, he is expected to share everything with his partner. Whether it’s the dishes, the ironing, cooking, cleaning, you name it. In contrast, how many women takes care of the car and garden?

I can see the rationale though, as women are becoming a major breadwinner in the family, and often has to come home to a second job. Still I can’t help but wonder if men can be pushed into a new role by public opinion. Will we see a backlash?

At the same time, I wish some of the things Swedes take for granted would be part of our Dutch reality. Although on the surface Holland is an emancipated society it has it’s short-comings (from a female perspective).

First of all most women with children (and a good percentage of women without), work part-time. It’s not uncommon for a mother of two to work 2 days a week or not at all. Although I’m not an expert I believe this derives from primarily two reasons, legacy and social structure. Legacy, as until a few decades ago it was expected of the woman to stop working when she got married. Social structure because of the poor childcare facilities. It’s difficult to get childcare in Holland and if you do you pay a fortune. It’s not uncommon with a bill of EUR 1000 for full time childcare. I believe in Sweden you pay about 10% of that. With the average woman’s net income of about EUR 2000 a month, is it really worth working for?

I would say yes, in the long run it is. Not only to be able to earn some money, but I think in contrast to many Dutch men and women, that children will be better off seeing both their parents working rather than one. It paints a more accurate picture of how society really is, and that both parents has to take a responsibility towards the family. Second of all with the mother at home portraits men and women and their qualities in an unequal light which is then carried on the child until adulthood.

In fact from a historical perspective, women have always worked, unless they were from the upper classes. Therefore it cannot be seen as a legitimate reason to argue that it has always been this way.

But this set aside, there are other “news” that would make the most liberal Swede to choke on his morning coffee. Take prostitution. In Sweden prostitution is illegal to “buy”. They are now even considering a law which will make it a criminal act to go to a prostitute abroad. Here in Holland, whilst they are closing down Red Light Districts, we are nowhere in sight of banning prostitution. Perhaps it should be seen as a woman’s explicit right to sell herself, and a man’s right to buy. No matter what values we put on it. I’m painting of course a very simplified picture to a complex problem. I doubt we can ever find a way resolve these social dilemmas. But coming back to the basic point, do we really want to see men as female clones? Not for me thank you. But playing the devil’s advocate with my own arguments, I’d rather be tied up in bed than tied down with chores. Reinout you know what to do!

OMG! I can actually wear Reinout’s underwear. Funny enough it doesn’t look too bad. I take a picture, but in fact it looks awful. I now really look like Homer Simpson. I know Reinout would be mortified if I published it here, so this is how I look like…more or less

Now off to bed!

I can’t help but thinking of Paris, the city of light and love. We are going there next week, first to Disneyland and then a few days shopping, dining and socializing. Every time I go there, I make a personal commitment to visit the Christian Louboutin store. It has become the holy grail of shoes to me, like my quest for Fracas 10 years ago (which took me two years before I found it in an obscure perfume store downtown Milan). This time, given that I have (with a few exceptions) kept to my shopping ban, I might splash out. I love the red sole, and the patent leather that has become his signature trademark. It’s the kind props that could come straight out of a novel by Henry Miller.
Paris is my far my favourite city. It oozes glamour and sophistication, something Amsterdam sadly falls short of. The women look fantastic, from 17 to 70, they know how to work le chic. Ah well, with France hopefully not being too far away from the horizon, it won’t be long before I can count myself to being part of this elusive specie.

Milling through some of our old pictures from Paris I found these…

But before I forget, any good restaurant tips are most welcome!

Fooling around in a Parisian hotel room

Mon cherie

Jonathan, our favourite Paris boy

I had a long sleep-in this morning, until just before noon. Sleep must be the most underrated forms of luxury there is. I should know having been an hopeless insomniac for years. What started off as busy spells at my previous work, with sleepless Sunday nights, turned into a weekly nightmare. Not long before soon, did I start taking tranquilizers. Tranquilizers or sleeping pills are such an easy solution, but even after a few days it can lead to an addiction. I don’t have an addictive personality but the choice between not sleeping or popping a pill was easy.

In the beginning it was manageble. I kept myself within the advised dosage of one pill when needed. But as with any substance your body soon grows accustomed to it and one tablet wasn’t enough. In then end, after 3-4 years of taking them I could take as many as 5-6 a night, and sometimes even more. The social implications that addictions have are larger than we tend to believe, most of all for the family who bares the immediate brunt. My daughter suffered terribly from this. There were times I really tried to stop, but then could be awake for 2-3 days in a row. Those days were unlivable. I suffered migraine attacks, and what in hindsight was probably close to paranoia, seeing things that were not there.

It nearly ended in catastrophy, almost… But then there is something called life, with all its unexpected twists and turns, and that is really what got me out of it.

I think with any addiction, substituting the substance with something else won’t solve the problem, even if that substitute is benevolent. Personally I tried yoga, reading books, changing temperature in the bed room, calming teas, music, acupuncture, even a short stint of anti-depressants. But none of this had any major effect on my sleeping disorder. I remained sleepless.

It was only after I met my husband, that I finally managed to kick my habit. And it wasn’t even difficult. In fact from one day to another I stopped altogether. This has led me to believe that even though with all the good intentions and the greatest of professional help, an addiction can’t be cured until the root cause is resolved. For me that root cause was unsafety. Even though I seemingly lived in a safe and stable environment, I’ve felt unsafe, for in fact as long as I can recall. But being in a new environment made me feel safe and secure again. The cause of a problem may vary from person to person, but unless the main problem is not dealt with, the symptoms will continue to exist. But how does one conclude what the problem is? A problem that may be so deeply buried, under heaps of other issues. It’s like a web that slowly needs to be untangled. Well for me, even with professional help, I couldn’t understand nor find it. Sometimes, and probably mostly, it’s a strike of luck. An unexpected change in once life, such as changing jobs, break ups, new relationships or a move, in short a change of environment. It’s hard to explain, as it’s quite intangible, something individual that everyone has to find out or discover for themselves. I can only think of one word that captures the essence…. serendipity.