Monthly Archives: December 2008

And so it’s finally the day to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new.  To me this New Year feels more special than others in the past. Perhaps because I know there are so many changes around the corner. It makes my belly flutter….literally as the baby inside me is making himself (or her) known.

13 years ago I had a similar experience. My situation was entirely different than it is now, but I knew that New Years Eve that the life I had known was about to change….for good. I had spent 5 days in Amsterdam when they called from the hospital in the morning of New Years Eve to tell me my mother had no more than days to live. Perhaps a week at the most. Her condition had taken a rapid turn for the worst. Had I been so oblivious to it all? In my mind she would pull through. We had been making so many plans,  like travelling the world together. She only had to get better and in my naive state of mind I thought that  she could and would.

I managed to get a ticket for the same day home, and later that evening I was at her bedside. It was only 5 days since I had seen her last but she seemed so frail, her breathing weak and laboured. She was still coherent and I talked to her for a while whilst I moistened her dry skin with a Rochas body lotion that she had got for Christmas. This body lotion still remained with me until just before my wedding in April, when I finally let it go.

That evening I stayed with my mother’s friend and celebrated, as much as one could, New Years Eve. That evening it dawned on me that I would lose my mum, and my New Year’s wish reflected this new found insight. I wished my mum would die a peaceful death with those close to her among her.

On January 7, 1996 she died.

This New Year’s Eve is an entirely different one. Full of love and joy and optimism for the future. This year my wish will reflect what I truly hope will happen next year.  I’m in a privileged position to be able to be able to do so. I hope all of you can do the same and may all your wishes come true.

When you are looking at a year that has passed you can sum it up as a good year or a bad year. Because there is always some event that overshadowed the rest and tips the balance in favour of one or the other. So when it’s my turn to look at my own year, I’m pleased to say it was a good year. It was certainly not easy, by far not, but nevertheless it brought me a lot of happiness as well as insights and discoveries that I wouldn’t want to be without.

The year before (2007) I had met Reinout and in a matter of 6 weeks dating, I moved in with him in his temporary shack in Breda (it was in fact a very nice apartment that he could use from his friend). There we lived in a crowded but happy existance for 2 months until he moved in with me in my house in Haarlem. This was in December 2007. We scarcely had the time to get the Christmas tree up and  had to subsitutute a few missing bits and pieces from the house, which resulted in a few frantic IKEA visits. It was a strange time, when suddenly we had to form a new family unit of the three of us as well as a dog and a cat. We all struggled in our own ways but with time an every-day pace set it.

My divorce came through early this year, and it was not easy for any of the parties involved. I was so tired from the whole ordeal and on top of that my father had died a few months before and I was battling with that estate too. There were times I didn’t see the ending in sight. But with the divorce behind we could move on.

We had talked about getting married, and decided upon April 26. One day Reinout whisked me away to the Hague and presented me with the most beautiful ring I had laid my eyes on. That it was too big, didn’t matter, and they took out one diamond that Victoria got for her ring. Later on March 27, Reinout proposed, exactly a month before our wedding.

The next weeks went quickly, we got married in a beautiful and memorable ceremony and went on a honeymoon. A week after we got back, our baby was conceived. I believe I felt it and that month I had a strange premonition that the pregnancy test would turn up postive. It did! A few days before Reinout was fced with leaving his previous company and so it must have been very odd to have me barging through the doors one mid-morning, with tears falling down my face proclaiming I was pregnant. Like he didn’t have enough on his shoulders. Reinout looked lost, dumbfound and I wasn’t sure if he was happy or not. But he soon lit up like a sun and I felt a pang of relief. I think that afternoon changed a lot in both of our lives.

The next months Reinout battled and worked on his new company MMO Life in a furious speed. I have never seen someone so focused and dedicated.  If this period was difficult for me, it must have been a 100 times worse for him. But all the hard work was paying off and towards the end of the year they went live with their first site MMOhub. To say that I am proud of Reinout is an understatement. Perhaps a deep respect is a better description. I will leave it at that, because whatever I say will pale in comparison to what actually went on in those months.

On a personal level, Victoria began to thrive and excel in school and at home. There were a lot of tantrums and battles there too, but they paid off. Perhaps she is no more happy or sad than the average 10 year old, but she’s in a stable and loving environment with a dad that loves her and sees her as often as he can and the family here with me and Reinout. She also got her own dog, Cecile, a cute little Jack Russel that has taken centre stage in our family.

What 2009 entails is difficult to predict. I’ve learned, perhaps the hard way, that life cannot be scoped out and executed according to a project plan. We can all steer it to a certain degree and predictability but Murphy’s Law is a fact of life. Still my gut instinct is that despite the glooming economy and various world events that leaves a lot to be desired, 2009 will be a great year. I have decided to make a personal commitment, to primarily myself, to take make that happen.  After all we are all in charge of our own fortunes.

wedding

One of the most memorable moments of 2008

The approaching New Year has not really hit me yet…until today that is. I went into town for my daily lunch and a brisk window shopping walk when it struck me that it’s New Years Eve tomorrow. My life has clearly become a one big isolated bubble since I went on maternity leave. It’s quite a feat I know which day it is. Fortunately the banging of New Year crackers were calling for attention, and thus I was reminded of tomorrow’s importance within 2 minutes of leaving the house.

Haarlem was crowded and bustling and after four attempts to find a restaurant with an available table I managed to get a spot. I dug out my note book, and inspiration was not late to come. First of all I compiled my action list for the coming days and then started to think about some more medium to long term priorities. Sometimes inspiration can come in the most hectic of environments. Here I was sitting in an overcrowded restaurant, oozing of fried bacon and steaming soups mixed up with various human scents, and yet it was the perfect place to start thinking of a new start anno 2009. That’s the best thing with the New Year – a clean slate, where all our sins are forgotten. After writing down my creative thoughts and wishes I could feel a new beginning drawing to a near. 2009 will be absolutely fabulous!

December sky

The sky is magic

“Sometimes being totally fucked can be a liberating experience.” Happiness in the Air that I breath.

Inspiration is fuel for creativity. A life elixir that injects us with visions and dreams of our own destiny.  It’s so easy to get lost in the mundane day that leaves very little to imagination. Children have it in abundance though. It’s like they have a special set of eyes that can transform the most dull object into a gem, or create palaces out of card board boxes. Their fantasy is without limits, and one little object or event can set a whole train of thought in motion. To the child there are no barriers to becoming the president of the United States, a celebrated movie-star or a firefighter. It’s all possible.

My own dreams when I was that age was to become an archaeologist, just like Indiana Jones. I was destined to find a big treasure one day. I still haven’t given up that dream. It will happen one day, I am sure of it. Of course the treasure has become something more metaphoric, but nevertheless that treasure is still out there waiting for me.

A personal list of inspiration

1.    The beautiful manor house in the countryside of France. I imagine our family celebrating our Christmases there, lavish parties and candle light dinners with my husband.
2.    The Count of Monte Christo. When Edmond Dantès is wrongfully incarcerated in Chateau D’if, spending 14 of his best years, the only thing that never leaves him is hope.  Hope in the form of knowledge that freedom is on the other side.
3.    My head on the chest of Reinout, listening to his heartbeat. It puts me to sleep.
4.    Running in the morning along the boulevard of Sliema, Malta. I reenact those decisive and brutal battles between the Ottomans and the Knights of St. John, the latter being the victorious, albeit at a great price. One has to be prepared for sacrifice to achieve Victory.
5.    Victoria goofing around (as long as she doesn’t make a mess)
6.    Dancing salsa with an excellent dancer to the classic rhythms of the Lebron Brothers. I loose myself completely in the arms of a stranger.
7.    Cafe del Mar vol 6 playing whilst looking out over a glittering sea. The haunting voice of the woman singing in Portuguese sets my mind in trance.
8.    Bellodgia on my skin
9.    Pillow talk with my husband
10.  Paris through the window of a taxi, consuming street life around me.

Perhaps this is more a list of what makes me feel alive, but then again that is just another facet of inspiration. Without those moments, trivial as well as life changing, our lives would not be the same.


salsa

Dancing, heartbeat, skin…

After the mouse incident, Victoria and I headed into town. It’s her last week of holiday and I want to take all the opportunity to spend some quality time together.  Recently a new boutique opened up not far from where I live. I was pleasantly surprised to realise that it was a genuine vintage store, selling YSL and Valentino clothes among others  from the 1950’s to 1980’s. I was lucky to find one black crocodile purse and a snake skin clutch. Yes I know, I deserve to be shot, and turned into a human handbag. But I so happen to love vintage bags, and besides these animals died sometime post World War II.

We ended our day in town doing some baby shopping to the improvised sitting room-turned-baby room. I am now technically ready for D-Day.

susanne waldau

Ending the day with a cappuccino and a magazine

victoria

Victoria is showing her mad streak

vintage bags

Vintage handbags

baby room

Sitting room-turned-baby room

baby room

part II

There is one thing I really can’t stand and that is mice. I cringe just thinking of them. Unfortunately we have a mice nest in our shed and Reinout refuse to put poison out in case our dogs (and cat) will find it. Fair enough, but don’t let me see the dreadful creatures.  You can probably see where this is leading. I was getting ready for a walk in town with Victoria and put on my boots. But the second boot was a bit tight and I could feel something was stuck at the end of it. It also smelled horribly. Like something had died in there. I had a bad feeling something actually had, and I turned the boot upside down and dead mouse fell in front of my feet. I screamed. Not just any scream, but one of those ear piercing, heartfelt, I am dying screams. The whole house was alerted, Victoria, Reinout, Caroline our cleaning lady and the dogs ran to my rescue. I pointed at the revolting creature that haplessly lay there on the floor. Cecile wanted to play with it, but Reinout was swift in his reaction and picked it up in it’s tail. I was having a fit, feeling my breakfast I had some 4 hours before reaching my throat.

As I was just about to leave and didn’t have another pair of boots to wear I changed my socks (they stank), sprayed some perfume on the boots and left for town. But everywhere I went I could feel a faint but nauseating smell of dead mouse leaving a trail after me. Luckily I managed to find a nice pair of boots on sale (I had a good excuse for some emergency shopping) and the mouse boots….they are now with the shoemaker. I asked them to do a complete overhaul, especially on the inside. The shoemaker looked perplexed at me and then at the boots…I knew what he was thinking, they were oozing and I made my immediate excuses. I think I will leave them there until the New Year.

boots

A new pair of brown suede boots…lucky me!

Reinout came in just before 10 in the morning to wake me up. For a moment I was utterly confused and didn’t know who the man with the big head and striped shirt breathing in my face was. I was  in the middle of a dream. The most surreal dream, which I still can’t decide if it was a pleasant one or sheer horror. I went on to tell him.


“I dreamt I was on the beach with you and your company. But when I started to get undressed and checked the other people on the beach I realised to my dismay that all the women had huge breasts. I am talking G cups

Reinout smiled. “Well I must have been enjoying that.”
“Yes you were certainly. I felt so bad so I decided to blog about it, and asked you guys if I could use one of your laptop. But none of you had any!! Which was really odd because you had a meeting at the beach.”
I thought for a moment. “Well actually it makes sense now. You didn’t need them because you were checking out the babes” Reinout laughed as in agreement.

I wonder why I had such a dream. Perhaps it has something to do with our small talks over lunch yesterday. Reinout was telling about his old classmate who was not so smart “but what a rack”. I must admit, the notion of plastic surgery did enter my mind when I saw the stars in his eyes recalling those days. It was evident he was once again in lala land.

monica bellucci

Natural beauty

My eyes are stinging, a sure sign I should actually log off and go to bed. But before I do I will share a  really sweet picture of Reinout and Buddy which I took last night.

reinout and buddy

The weather has been glorious, so we decided to take Buddy out for a walk in the woods. For many reasons Haarlem is a great place. Not only is it a charming city just 20 minutes from Amsterdam but only 15 minutes from both the sea and the forest. It’s not a forest in Swedish terms, more like a very large, wild park, but for the Dutch I suppose it’s close enough. Next to it is an old-style pancake house which we dropped into when our extremities were turning blue of cold.  A couple of hours later we were back at home, frozen but in good spirits. We sat down to watch the Assassination of Jesse James after which I tucked into a couple of slices of old pizza as my dinner and then slipped into a hot bath which Reinout had prepared. I have now finished my book which I have been mentally chained to for the last couple of weeks (the girl with the dragon tattoo). In fact it has been recently been made into a feature film and will premier in February, 2009. Something I shall look out for…

reinout te brake

Reinout couldn’t stay away from his emails

reinout and buddy

Playtime

susanne waldau

It was freezing cold, but I managed to close one button on my old jacket

I woke up early this morning. The scent of tuberous was still lingering in the air. The sun had started to rise and gradually our bedroom shifted from a reddish glow to a soft white light. Reinout was still asleep, so it was with a lot of effort that I turned over to get my laptop that was neatly tucked under the bed. The operation  wasn’t completely soundless because he stirred and turned around. But the warmness that was spreading through our boudoir must have exercised it’s immense power over him too and so he was suddenly wide awake.

Two minutes later we were both sitting with our laptops trailing the net in our own personal directions. I was going through the news as usual and came across a cultural editorial on the phenomena of Nicole Kidman. A name that has become synonymous with cool, elegance and glamour but also fragility, vulnerability and loneliness. It’s a combination I dare to say few women possess and even fewer master. Perhaps the closest icons of our time have been Grace Kelly, Princess Diana and possibly Marilyn Monroe. What is is that makes us so obsessed with these women, when they are clearly so detached from the average woman’s wants and needs? And yet we desire them, to the point of consuming them until they perish literally or as a figure of speech.

I admit I am one of those women….the follower that is. Although I loved Madonna, and consumed pop culture like any other teenager, I worshipped Grace Kelly. It was not her claim to royalty that made her my object of desire. It was her coolness, her demeanour and allusiveness. All the attributes I wanted to possess too. Perhaps I saw some reflections of myself in that. I was shy, often mistaken for being cool and aloof. I just needed a bit of beauty and elegance and I could take on that role too. Needless to say it was not that simple, and when we strive to take on the role that someone else created, we merely become actors and in worse case props to our own surroundings. My feeling is that Nicole Kidman has become just that. A statue to be adored and admired in equal measures. A statue that in the cold light of day feels less appealing to revere and behold.

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman in Chanel No 5 advert