Monthly Archives: September 2010

It’s been some time ago…I’m not going to bore you with the details. Too few and equally too many. I guess that is the point of where confusion strikes. I’m still batteling chronic pain, so the last weeks I’ve mostly been spending time in bed. Today I had an appointment with my physiotherapist to strengthen my back and neck. My dates with the gym have been few and far inbetween so it’s time to get myself back to a work-out routine.

Well I promise to be better at blogging, but here are some pictures from the last days…


Out with Victoria in town


I treated myself to some pampering


Victoria got a black^ white striped shirt from H&M


Cooking for the family


…whilst watching History Channel on the laptop

Just came across a really great website – – where you can be your own stylist, create chic sets of clothing and embed it on your blog. Isn’t it neat? Hereby style by FracasNoir…

Reinout surprised me with a candle light breakfast downstairs. Berries, coffee and Champagne was a perfect start to my Sunday. Today I’m going to try to relax a bit. I just finished a great book (although long and sometimes a bit tedious) called Satan’s Circus by Mike Dash. It’s based on the documents of the first and last execution of a New York police man Charles Becker. I love the book, and its ending provided more than food for thought.

I’m in general a staunch anti-death penalty believer, so the book only asserted my thoughts. And although it never went into great depths of looking into alternative leads (it’s still not clear if Charles Becker was behind the murder of Herman Rosenthal, and a lot of the evidence (if not all) are circumstantial), one can really feel the tragedy that is left behind in the wake of a murder and subsequent executions.

Two passages struck me as so very human, giving a testament to what really matters in life:

“When most of the reporters had left, Becker’s corpse was removed to the autopsy room for the usual examination, arms dangling, head hanging back, legs swinging. Dr. Farr stripped the black cotton shirt from the lieutenant’s hulking body and was startled to discover that it concealed the little photo of Helen [*his wife] that Becker had kept on the wall of his cell. The dead man had pinned it to his undershirt, with the face turned inward, over his heart” Pg. 330 – Satan’s Circus by Mike Dash

On Charles Becker’s widow, remembering her husband…

“to remain the widow in memory of a man who was put to death by the great state of New York for a crime he didn’t commit. He was not an angel; he never made a pretense of being one. He was just an ordinary human being, and that is why I loved him so.” Pg. 354 – Satan’s Circus by Mike Dash


Satan’s Circus, by Mike Dash


Candle light breakfast

The first salsa lesson after the season stop, and I’m a bundle of nerves. It’s not so much that there is a gap of a season between my last spins but more like two. The last time I saw my salsa teacher was not in the class room but at the hospital. And the patient was me. It had started with the occasional loss of balance and loss of coordination of my limbs in the classroom. During one lesson I fell down on the floor and started hysterically crying. “I can’t feel my legs, I can’t feel my legs” I blurted out in sobs.

My sympathetic salsa teacher, who is also a good friend of mine, told me to take it easy and quite for the day. I sipped on a bland mineral water, which just enhanced the iron taste in my mouth, and eventually went home. Limping.

Some months later it happened again, but not after a salsa lesson but a visit to the chiropractor. I started to limp on my left side, and lost my feeling in my right. All the worst case scenarios started to enter my mind, and when my own doctor didn’t seem to think it was all that bad (true it can always be worse!) I went to my neighbour (who is also a GP). I suggested to him, that maybe I had a stroke. He said a hernia at worst. Still an examination at the hospital wouldn’t be a bad thing.

A final visit to my own GP (at this stage I could hardly walk and the pain was agonizing), I was referred to the hospital. I came out 10 days later.

The time that followed is sort of blurry. Lots of medications, steroids, morphine like painkillers, lumbar puncture to take my spinal fluid (nasty shit) and MRI scan to check my brain and spine. Results took ages to get, but once they came they were not all that great. Probably MS. You say MS and you think of wheel chair. Middle age women with Ecco shoes, vein supporting tights, and some unsightly outfit. You don’t even look at them, and if you do, it’s with pity.

I was so angry. Foremost with myself. At this point I would be having by showers laying down and would have to be crawling back to the hospital bed (I refused to be helped). Still the nurses were great, and I would often talk about my checkered life with them. My passion for salsa (I had been doing triple spins just days before it happened!), my blog, beauty and fashion (one nurse was a beautician so she would do my hair as my extensions had turned into dreads).
I told my salsa teacher I would be at her end of season party, but needless to say I didn’t make it. I was more busy spending time with my physio therapist learning to walk without dragging my foot.

Months later, and I’m doing much better. I still have a lack of sensation in my right side, and my left arm is more weak (I noticed it yesterday when holding the tension with my partner).

It’s a continuous battle to explain people, why I am tired, why I sometimes loose my balance, why I cry out in pain if something cold is applied to my right side (it feels like hot). Still I  have learnt so much from this experience. I feel humble, and I feel I got this for a reason. I wanted to write about it, but with upcoming mortgages and insurances it might do more harm than good. Still what the fuck! I got this. I could have equally had HIV, and should I be ashamed of it? The only time I truly feel ashamed is when I don’t take care of my son enough. When I have no energy to run after him. Occasionally I do get the look of strangers, probably thinking I should be more engaged and not let my husband do all the work. I know I should. And still when my energies are depleted, or close to being so, I cannot really do more.

But the whole point of this is that when shit hits the fan, it doesn’t mean the end of your life. I salsad my ass off yesterday. And it felt great. I work full time (albeit being in some semi-constant pain, but it’s manageable), I work-out, I cook and take care of the house. And most importantly I haven’t lost my family.

Recently on Holland’s got talent, there was a couple dancing, with the lady in a wheelchair. I thought to myself, If she can do it, so can I. Whatever happens, there is always a solution. It’s just a matter of looking at the glass half empty or half full. I prefer the latter.

I always dreamed of a Valentino dress. It’s the Ferrari of fashion (not to mention the same colour!), which would make any girl, woman and lady quiver with delight. It’s what Sharon Stone wore in Basic Instinct (or so I imagine), and it’s what Jackie O would have worn if Valentino would have started his career just a little bit earlier. It’s the epitome of Catherine Deneuve (although I believe she’s always been the muse of Yves Saint Laurent). It raises the question where you draw the line between fact and fiction. Equally so, I was handed down on a plate of mine another fact, of which I’m not sure, if and how, the fiction comes in.

My then boyfriend would talk about his ex (in mostly positive terms) as this bright, intelligent, femme fatale, slightly neurotic (aren’t they all) who would drag him down the street of PC Hooftstraat (along with his credit card and bank account I might add) and a few hours later they would come out with bags containing Valentino dresses.

As much as I despised her obvious sense for style and luxury I envied it too. I told my boyfriend he wouldn’t have to give me a Valentino dress. If I wanted one I would buy one myself.

A few months later I once nearly did. We were invited to a wedding, and I kind of got the idea it was a glamorous one (they never are in the end, at least not in Holland…but hey I’m a sucker for illusions), so I ventured in one evening in the only (I presume) Valentino store in Amsterdam. I was greeted with respect, and a very gay man immediately took me under his wings to show me the latest collection. I must have been decently dressed to be getting such gracious reception, but then again I was the only one in the shop.

I tried a few items on and fell for a red dress, with a high split. It was difficult finding the price tag, but I knew I had to if I stood the chance of ever walking out with it. To my disdain it was close to 3000 euros and I wouldn’t only get a red dress to parade, but an equally red bank account. I made my excuses, uttering some unintelligible words and made my escape.

I’m not sure if it was my looming period, but I felt crap, unworthy my boyfriend, who had only a few months prior, been walking down the streets with a Valentino clad, drop dead gorgeous girlfriend on his arm (the male equivalent of a Hermes bag).

But the story doesn’t end there…
Last week a newsletter from (the best kept secret of the online outlets of outlets). I quickly logged on and found the most amazing bargain I had ever wished for. A black, fitted Valentino dress for a mere 300 euros. As soon as you could spell ENTER, I was logged on to their site, making my purchase. The package came only a few days ago. And guess what: It was all I expected and even more. I maybe haven’t joined the Mile High Club yet, but girls I do own a Valentino!


Sleek, fitted Valentino dress


The proof is in the pudding as they say…

I’m in Reinout’s office, which is increasingly becoming more of my own. It’s great, a turn-of-the-century villa, a stone throw from where we live. It’s quiet today as Reinout is in a meeting off-site. I have the attic room for myself, and working with great speed on diminishing my action list. It’s raining outside and the comfort of knowing that I’m inside, with my dog next to me, and a free mind to roam wherever it decides to go. I feel lucky, blessed. Life is not as bad as it seemed a week ago…


Work for today


My new view

It’s been one of those loooong days. Two meetings, one of which lasting for half a day. Dinner that didn’t work out so well on my part (I dread another veggie burger), numerous glasses of wines later and a late night business conversation with my hubby.

Eventually I’m so tired of business, I make my excuses to leave for the toilet. Toilet excuse is not enough and I need to make several hints including jawning and complaining my body is aching before he gets it.

30 minutes later and finally in bed after a hot shower. Looping Afterlife’s -Shine. Mediterranean sunkissed beaches, French kissed lips, naked skin… I still long for that holiday.

The first time I came across an album of Putumayo was in a small lunch cafe on a side street off the Haarlem market square. It was one of those cafes that takes great pride in their organic coffee, vitamin infused smoothies and vegetarian sandwiches.

Each time I walked through the door to order a honey coated goat cheese bagel, I was not only greeted by the smiling owner, but the exotic and foreign music that was streaming through the obscured speakers. It took me some time before I inquired about what kind of music it was. Perhaps because every time a new CD was playing. But after a while I started to recognise the similar beats and ambiance that swept through the venue like a tour de force. Commonalities yet polar as music was ranging from Italian salsa to Finnish tango, mixed with Arabic lyrics and sub-Saharan beats. Confused? No, it’s nothing short of lyrically breathtaking.

When I found out the secret, a small alternative record label called Putumayo, I knew I had discovered the holy grail. I immediately asked if I could make some copies, and the ones I couldn’t, I would buy at the Fair Trade shop a few hundred meters down the road. I would put on Putumayo whatever the occasion and naturally Putumayo compilations would fill the ever diminishing space on my iPod (yes it was before iPhones).

Around the same time of my discovery I started another love affair, the one of salsa. This lead me to my 24/7 existence in the world of Latin. I literally ate, breathed and slept salsa, and my dreams – both day and night – where consumed by nightly escapes to Havana, Cali and Rio. There I would trawl the streets, like an urban explorer, and occasionally my gaze would fall on a local. The nocturnal aftermath is not so hard to imagine.

A year later, or so I believe, my dream would get a strange real life reproduction, and curiously Putumayo plays a role in this tale too! It was a rather unhappy time. A time of loss, confusion and to some extent sheer desperation. It was a time of falling out of love, perhaps mostly with myself. I will not go into the details for respects to others, and to avoid any personal repercussions of my own. But suffice to say, during a trip to a Mediterranean island, I had a very similar encounter to the ones that had plagued my dreams…

My friend and I were sitting at the hotel restaurant, talking about life and business in an ever eclectic mix. Two men were attending the tables. One, slightly older, in his mid 30’s caught our attention. Days went by and I must admit, my friend and I, would position ourselves at the section where this waiter would serve. One evening, as we were looking for a convenient place at the neighbouring bar, in search of a grand finale nightcap, the waiter and his friends offered us to join them. One drink succeeded another, and not before long, the first deep rosy light of the sun started to emerge. For an unexplainable, yet perfectly clear reason, we all decided to go swimming at one of the deserted rocky beaches. It became the defining moment, when I embarked on an affair. The moral aspects set aside (it became the pivotal nail in the coffin containing a broken marriage), it didn’t so much transform me, but more so set me free. I was suddenly that exotic creature blessed with wings, free to fly in any direction and to any place.

My lover, who was Serbian, had the most amazing voice. With his accent ridden, yet clear and melodic, he would take me to different places on the island and tell me about stories from his home country. Stories of lust, greed, love, beauty, money, violence and revenge. His one-person audience was in total awe. I think I fell in love. Or at least I told him so. Numerous times.

His apartment was an untidy affair, the kind of poetic, almost cinematic disorder you would find watching a French film. The only thing is, this wasn’t an apartment in the St Germain district but a concrete 10 stories building off the local marina. In his bedroom, with a suitably stained mattress covered by a crumpled sheet, stood a single chair, a guitar and a desk with a computer. When he was gone, I would score his enormous database of music and to my utter (but pleasant) surprise found several compilations of Putumayo. It dawned on me that the music, so often being played in the background during our nocturnal, intimate explorations, came from these playlists.

I recall reading the book City of God, by Paulo Lins, whilst listening to Cores by Da Lata. It captured the very essence of what my eyes and mind were consuming from this second-hand paper back I’d picked up at a book stall.

My love affair only lasted for a mere two months. A summer fling, where love turned to madness, and desire to despair. I knew I had to end it and so, on an October morning, a friend sent a ticket for Milano, Malpenza. It became my escape. On that morning, feeling sad, lonely yet excited about a new adventure I was about to embark upon, I put on my iPod and looped the song which will forever be associated with this time of my life; Hanina. I tucked a sweater underneath my neck, closed my eyes and listened intently to the haunting vocals that emerged through the headphones. An intense sadness overcame me but I was too tired to fight it. Instead I fell asleep.



Forget Indian Summer, and say hello to pouring rain and cold Eastern winds. I found myself staring at a summer wardrobe filled with flimsy dresses and kitten heeled shoes. No other solution than do bring a whole load of winter and autumn gear from the near forgotten, mahogany cupboard upstairs. In the end I settled for a black suit, white top, and a three quarter length coat. That and block heeled shoes from Etro. I’m ready for accidental encounters with mud pools. Still my demised holiday is not forgotten. And my friend’s wedding which I didn’t bless with my presence is still a black stain on my conscious.

But events that never happen, and decisions altering the course of our lives will soon be forgotten. After a couple of days of relaxation and spending time with the family I got back on the horse with my work. I can sense it’s going to be a busy schedule and if last year was all about making sure the foundation is right, this is the time for execution. This week I’ve decided to make my plans for the end of the year, What I want to achieve before the church bells rings for 2011. Because if this year got somewhat botched, then next year will set the record right.


What lays ahead?

It’s wonderful weather, Indian Summer. A gentle breeze is sweeping through our open windows making the french doors open and close to a rhythmic beat. A lot has happened in the last days. Thursday we were suppose to finally go on our summer holiday. For various reasons we had to cancel. I felt cheated of the one thing that offered the prospect of relaxation. Also I was missing out on a very close friend of mine’s wedding. Guilt doesn’t even cover my feelings. Instead another day at work was looming. Well shit happens, I try pragmatically to rationalize.

Thursday, 7 pm
A major argument later, and I landed myself in a bookstore searching for something meaningful to read. I picked up a book called Easy Money by the Swedish crime writer Jens Lapidus. It was in Dutch, so the perfect peace offering for my husband, if it wasn’t for that he hardly ever reads. Still… I weighed my options, knowing that he happily reads Baantje, read the Zahir when I first met him, and listened with great interest to The Shadow of the Wind, which I was reading to him on our way back from our last holiday. In addition, perhaps it would teach him a few things about Swedish culture which appears a mystery to him. 10 minutes later I was on the train back to Haarlem writing a personal note in the book…