After the highs of last week, the end of the week brought sobering news. Within the space of 24 hours I heard of two passings: one a friend from the States, the other a new acquaintance in Amsterdam. After a long week, the news left me emotionally drained, and I went offline and turned inwards for the weekend.
On Saturday morning I got a call on the landline: the grandfather of a friend had passed away in the night. These three deaths- one a friend, the other an acquaintance, one I never even met- affected me greatly, and I spent the weekend thinking of them, all three of them. I carried them around with me all weekend, like heavy bricks. I had all of the natural reactions to death- sadness, nostalgia, mourning, loss, regret, thoughts of the last time we met, thoughts of those left behind and unfinished business.
But I thought about life as well. I spent the weekend thinking about the passing of time, and what you should do with your time, and who you should spend it with. I thought about who you want next to you at the end, but also for the entire duration of life. And I thought about what, on a daily level, you should do with the time you have, and what will be left behind after you pass. These heavy bricks became lighter, less of a sad load to carry, more of a means of building something, a foundation to lay down, a path to pave, a direction to take.
I didn’t come to any firm conclusions or answers, but I did realize that way too much of our time is spent caught up in distractions and obligations and damaging emotions, when what you really should be focusing on is: love, compassion, kindness, friends and family. I am grateful that I took the time to think about these three men and their lives, and I appreciate the guidance that I received from it, guidance that they will never know they supplied.
In the end, it all boils down to love. I am going to use these bricks to build a path of love. That’s my direction, that is what I am taking from this weekend on introspection and remembrance of three lives passing.
In our walk around Vondelpark yesterday, I picked up a stick and threw it for Mylo. I don’t know why I bothered, he never plays along with me, and it’s usually me throwing a stick around a park and going to pick it up again myself.
But this time he did! He ran after the stick, actually picked it up, and brought it back. You know, like a dog!
With all the whooping and hollering I was doing (“GOOD BOY! YOU’RE A GOOOOD BOOOOOY!”), you would have thought he was bringing me back the Nobel Peace Prize that he had just won for physics.
But no, it was only a stick.
I made to throw it again, and he yipped and yipped as if he wanted that: ”Yes! Throw it again! I will get it again! YOUR MIND WILL BE BOGGLED AGAIN!”
And so I threw it again, and he chased after it again.
When he got to it, he sniffed it, and then lifted his leg and pissed on it, thus effectively ending our little game of fetch.
This week started in something of a rut. I’ve been bluer than blue, and this blog is not the place to get into the finer details of why. But to sum it up, I was blue about everything. EVERYTHING.
Yeah, sort that out if you can.
Every day I spent every spare moment in bed, alternating between sleeping and quietly crying.
Mylo stayed by me constantly, he never once left my side, whether I was sleeping or sobbing or watching episodes of Cougartown to get my mind off of things. See, he’s even here now as I write this.
Here now, here always.
In fact he was the only element of my life that I wasn’t crying over, the only thing that made me happy, and the only thing that made me laugh this week so far.
I’ve written before how accurate he is when he senses that I need him, and this week really proves that for me. But he seems to need me as much as I need him. This worries me, because as I have written before, he no longer has his pack. I am his pack, and I’m not so sure I’m up to the job. How do I know what a dog really needs? He is always watching me and waiting for me to do something, but what exactly? I’m not sure.
The best I can do is give him back all of the attention that I am getting, and in the only way I know how. So there are walks in the park, failed attempts at playing fetch, whole TV series that we watch together, and in just a little while I’m taking him on my Bagels & Coffee date.
We’ll figure it out. Somehow we will find the balance between people needs and dog needs, and meet somewhere in the middle.
Last night around 1:30 am, I was plagued by thoughts of Lola, and how much I miss her (more than I have ever experienced before), and the hole that is in my life these past 10 months that she’s been gone (a big hole, a huge hole). This happens often when I have a spare second of thought, and most often when I am laying in bed trying to fall asleep. (That would have been when I would have been drowning in the sounds of her snoring.)
(It’s so quiet now.)
Knowing that I would be facing another sleepless night if I didn’t do something, I call in the reserves: I drag a peacefully sleeping Mylo up from the foot of the bed to my pillow, and I cry quietly into his furry neck. At any other time if I drag him to me he bears it for a moment and then squiggles away, but these times I think he senses the sadness (I feel him turn his head and peer at my face) and he lets me cry it out without fuss.
Within minutes I am calm again, and he tosses and turns for a moment before going back down to the foot of the bed, away from all sad insomniacs who wet his fur with tears. We both fall asleep.
In my dream we are all by a lake, and Lola is in the water swimming. Only the deepest water that she was ever in was the bathtub (which she loved) and she isn’t quite strong enough for full-on swimming, so she dips under, fights her way back to the surface, dips under again. I am watching her from the shore close by, watching for the moment where she won’t make her way to the surface, won’t be strong enough to come up again, watching for when I will have to jump in and save her. But she swims.
When I wake up, it reminds me that I never brought her swimming like I wanted to. I always thought she would love that, attracted as she was to the water.
Her Happy Spot
Then still later in the park I run into my neighbor who also has a Cavalier King Charles, called Lady. We bonded over our cavaliers before on walks in the park, laughing over their breed-specific traits while the two cavaliers would sniff eachother in greeting and then ignore eachother completely (another cavalier specific trait- they don’t care for other dogs, can’t be bothered with them, much prefer the company of humans).
Now, however, catching up with her and Lady is always painful. I see Lola in Lady, in how she looks and acts. I lean down to give Lady a little cuddle (her fur is so soft, Lola’s used to be that soft, etc) and of course my eyes mist up.
I see, or at least I think I see, a spark of recognition in Mylo’s ears and stance as he sees Lady and runs towards her. Does he miss Lola too? Miss her like I miss her? I worry that he is lonely with no other dog in the house, that he is left wanting now that half of his pack is gone.
He sniffs at Lady and I guess that tells him all he needs to know: No, not Lola.
What I guess people don’t realize, when they first start learning a foreign language, is that it is something like a jigsaw puzzle. You don’t learn the correct grammatical form of a sentence in the past (“I watched a film”) and then remember it completely each time after that. This is because you don’t automatically know each verb right away (“to watch, watched”, “to fall, fell”, “to go, went”). So you pretty much spend a lot of time searching for the missing puzzle pieces, trying each one that seems like it might squeeze in there. (Whoops, no, that’s an eye not a flower.)
And you get it wrong lots of the time. Even know, six years later in the Netherlands, I feel I am only just starting to wade in the waters of Dutch. I have an inherent shyness that prevents me from trying Dutch with those closest around me. I’m perfectly fine trying it out on strangers, I can blabber away at someone I don’t know- other dogwalkers in the park, shop assistants, waiters, bartenders, not a bother. I see the looks on their faces (confusion mixed with a bit of dismay) and it doesn’t bother me (Abandon all hope, all ye Dutch strangers who enter my vicinity). And besides, if a stranger is the only one to see me fall flat on my Dutch skills, then in my book it never happened, end of story/einde van het verhaal.
However, with my Dutch friends and coworkers- all who are waiting patiently for me to try my Dutch on them- I clamp up. I suppose it’s something about them seeing me as inferior, or stupid, or unprofessional. I just can’t seem to let them know (yet) that they’re right on all above counts.
Japan was the first time that I was really immersed in a foreign language, day in and day out. I threw myself into learning the language, but quickly got further along with learning how to write Japanese than how to speak it. The difference in how women and men spoke the language, and how younger and older people spoke the language, only added to the confusion and I spent a lot of that year not knowing what was coming next. Where were they taking me? What were we supposed to do next? What page should I turn to in the textbook? Why are we here again? Everything was a surprise, and my shyness prevented me from asking too many questions. I suppose while there I developed a very laid-back let’s-see-what-happens-next attitude. Because I had no choice, most of the time I just had to see what was happening next to figure things out.
I also did a lot of nodding. I nodded to show that I understood, but more often than that I nodded to show that I had heard the speaker say something….but what that something was was anyone’s guess.
(I was that strange foreign exchange student that everyone seems to have in their school. There I was, smiling and nodding, saying “Yes, yes” and going left when they had just told me to go right. It was a confusing year, but also one of the best of my life. I wasn’t held accountable for anything, not even for having a clue. It was brilliant.)
Here I thought I was going on a nature hike. Turns out we were trying on kimonos.
My group of Japanese friends and I were sitting around our hotel room in Tokyo one night, having taken an overnight bus across the country on a girly trip to Tokyo Disneyland. I had bought a small rainbow-colored bag that hung around my neck like a necklace, only big enough for money, change or a small telephone (none of which I ever really had, but I loved the rainbow look). One of the girls, Yukuri, was admiring it, and quite in keeping with Japanese politeness, told me that it looked very good on me.
I nodded my agreement (“I heard that you said something, yes, but….”) before my brain had the chance to register what she had actually said.
You see, in modest Japan, if someone compliments you, you deny whatever it is they are complimenting. And you do so politely and demurely.
“You are very beautiful.”
“Oh, no, no, that is very kind of you, but I am not beautiful. My face is shaped like a pig and my legs are stumpy.”
“You write Japanese so well.”
“Oh, if only that were true. I aspire to one day write a great novel in Japanese, but until then I hope you can help me write my own name. Right now it looks like mud on paper.”
But you should never agree, or even thank them and leave it at that, as that would be seen as very rude and obnoxious.
So for me to nod to Yukuri’s compliment was essentially for me to say, “Yes it does look quite fetching around my neck, doesn’t it?” And that was just not on.
Yukuri threw a shifty glance at me, and that would have been the perfect chance to correct myself, or to deny it as was the polite thing to do, but that would mean admitting to the fact that I walked the days and nights of Japan not having any sort of clue whatsoever, and so I clamped up and cringed inwardly, preferring her to think me obnoxious rather than stupid.
I think that’s when she realized that Amanda no comprendo Japanese-o. The gig was up.
Many is the time that I will be with a group of friends, or in a business meeting, and will be honestly trying to concentrate on totally understanding the Dutch that is flying around the room. But you know how things are: your mind skips a word, and then a sentence, and then starts to wander (“Ooo look, there’s a bee on the window…spring really is here….”). The next thing you know, everyone is laughing at a joke, and it seems like it was such a funny joke! They all look so happy!
So I laugh too, and I smile too. Aren’t we all happy right now? Isn’t it good to be alive? We’re laughing!
And inevitably someone will see me laughing and ask, “Did you get that?” This is a polite Dutch thing to do, to make sure everyone (every-foreign-one) understands, it is not to be mean or to call me out.
But call me out it does. My smile freezes, before completely natural, now made of hard cement. And the trusty old Japan trick comes back: I nod. ”Yes, yes, I got it.”
Meaning: I heard that you said something, and I understand from those around me that it was quite so very funny. And so I, too, got caught up in the moment.
Meaning: I “got” it, like you get measles or the flu. It was a matter of contagion, not comprehension.
Luckily, now that I am an Official Dutch Speaker with an Official Dutch Speaker Diploma to prove it, these awkward occurrences are happening less frequently. But it is taking a lot of mind-power to stay mentally In The (Dutch) Game, and so I fear that now I scowl in concentration more often than nod in happy confusion.
I’m sure most people speaking to me would prefer friendly-looking ignorance to angry-looking comprehension, but they luckily have no say in the matter.
And come to find out, the joke is never really as funny as I had hoped.
This quote from Jonathan Safran Foer’s ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’:
“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
This quote from Nicole Krauss’ ‘A History of Love’:
“I try to make a point of being seen. Sometimes when I’m out, I’ll buy a juice even when I’m not thirsty. If the store is crowded I’ll even go so far as dropping change all over the floor, nickels and dimes skidding in every direction. All I want is not to die on a day I went unseen.”
A- AmandaBlog&Kiss: This year I bought the domain for my blog and gave it a spiffy new makeover. And then shortly thereafter completely fell out of tune with blogging. My timing is always impeccable at best! But as the year draws to a close I find myself drawn back to blogging more and more, so here I am again! ….and now the domain registration expires in less than 20 days. Did I mention my timing is brilliant? Because it is. (Note to self: Let’s remember to update that, hey?)
B- Barcelona: A wonderful trip to Barcelona with friends this summer. What a great city! Even more great when you throw away all intentions of doing anything touristy, and just relax and spend some quality time with friends. That’s what life is all about, right?
Barcelona Alley at Night
C- Camera: Probably one of the nicest birthday gifts I have ever received: my new Canon camera. Dave knew that I regretted ever giving up photography, so for my birthday he surprised me with a new camera. I totally wasn’t expecting it. I’m having a lot of fun with it. Am I good at it? Nah. But it’s a learning process, and I’m okay with that.
D- Driver’s License: I finally put one foot in front of the other and went down and took the exam for my Dutch driver’s license. I passed! …And since then I haven’t gotten into a car at all, except for maybe a taxi here and there. But damnit I have that little piece of plastic, and that’s good enough for me. And if anything, it’s made me a completely better cyclist. True story.
E- Events: I organize the events now for the hotel. It was an unexpected but welcome turn of events (no pun intended) and I’m loving it!
F- Family: Family in Ireland, Family in Scotland, and Family that visited Amsterdam. A lot of family time this year. It was lovely, and something that cannot be underestimated when you are an expat who lives far from home.
Family Time in Amsterdam
G- Games: Mediamatic gave me a huge present this year wrapped in the shape of an exhibition on nostalgic arcade games and a three day conference on mobile gaming. I went several times, and several times more, to play games that I used to love before video games became crap, such as Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt (video here). Yes, this was a highlight of my year, you’d better believe it.
H- Hotel: I bore everyone to tears saying how much I love my job and the hotel where I work. So I’ll skip this and just say: Best. Job. Ever. (Damn I did it again didn’t I? Sorry!)
I- Ireland: We made a last-minute trip to Ireland this year for family purposes, and while the aim of the trip wasn’t that great, hanging out with everyone was, as always.
J- John/The Colours of Amsterdam: The joint production with John of our new blog blew back some creativity in my life where it was sorely lacking, and from that spark many others followed. Now if only John would contribute some more! (HINT HINT JOHN.)
The Colours of Amsterdam
K-København: I got you this time, K, you tricky bastard. A wonderful trip to Copenhagen with 2 friends to visit a friend that was studying there for the semester! This was my first foray into Scandinavia, and it’s true what they say! It’s a very clean place.
Three Girls on a Boat in Copenhagen
L- Lola: My lowest low of 2011, maybe of my entire life. She’s almost always been the L when I do these posts. I still miss her daily, and cry for her often. I can’t get a respite from the guilt that came with her death, or the big hollow hole inside of me since she’s been gone.
Lola sleeping whereever the hell she wanted to. One of the many things I loved about her, and what I miss today.
I have to double up on M here, because I have two important ones:
M- Mylo: I have spent the last half of this year with just one dog, and seeing how Mylo’s personality has changed as a result of going from a 2-dog to 1-dog household has been fascinating. And he’s been an important part of the support that I needed after Lola died. I guess having no other dog around to compete for my attention has given him one hundred percent access to me, and sometimes I feel that this has overwhelmed him. I can’t help it, I just have a lot of cuddles to give, and now one dog less to receive them.
Mylo, will you be my new best friend?
M- Milan: Twice. Once with Angela where we yapped for 36 hours straight and never once got tired, and once to meet up with my cousin from New Jersey. Both times were great, and I cried when I had to leave my cousin. It was really special being with family in Italy, that’s all I’ll say. …And I might have been a bit drunk. And holy shit do you know about aperitivo? This Milanese tradition should be spread worldwide!
Angela overlooking the Duomo as the sun set
I told my cousin to meet me on top of the Duomo. A happy and very high reunion!
N- Nederlands: I’m not sure if I’m learning the language, or just fooling myself, but twice a week I sit through a three hour class, so surely some of it must be seeping into my brain by osmosis, right? My exam is in January, guess I’ll see then.
O- Overtoom: Still kicking it on the Mighty Mighty Overtoom, 6 years running. Best street in the Dam.
Q- Queen’s Day: The best Queen’s Day I’ve had in Amsterdam, mostly because I wasn’t trying to fight through crowds of drunks. Instead we sat at the bottom of our stairs and had friends drop by to drink. What stuff we didn’t sell in the rummage sale was taken away by the crowds after we left it there, and I am judging this Queen’s Day as the best by how a pair of my bikini bottoms are still wrapped around a bike’s handlebars in front of my house, nine months later. How my bikini bottoms made it outside and around the handlebars is anyone’s guess, I really don’t know. But it makes me laugh every morning to see they are still hanging there, waving like a flag.
R- Rome: This year we went to Rome and soaked in some heavy sun (blimey that’s a hot sun down south) and some ancient culture. We also met up with our old flatmate Veronica, where we continued our tradition of jumping in front of some of the world’s best landmarks.
Coffee in Rome, because that's just what you do.
Jumping in Rome with Lake
S- Scotland: Met up with my parents in Edinburgh for a 5-day break. It was nice to get back to Scotland, and even nicer to spend time with the old folks. A lot of drinking was done. A lot.
T- The Stone: I have an old friend to thank for getting me writing again, at least writing fiction, and I look forward to more editions of The Stone literary magazine.
U- Uncategorizable: My 11/11/11 Party, aptly titled “The Return of the Hat”. Everyone played along nicely with the theme.
11/11/11 AND hats! What better excuse to throw a party?
V- Valtifest: The festival that marks the end of the summer festivals, and for me it also marked one of the few times this year that I overdid it so badly that I was in tears the next day. There’s just something about a party with a dress-up theme! Gets me every time. (See 11/11/11 Hat Party, above). This year’s Valtifest theme was “All in the Family”.
We dressed, we went, we partied.
W- Writing: I fell out of love a little with blogging this year, and immersed myself more into writing offline. It’s an emotional process, which surprised me to find out. You have to put yourself into the characters and feel what they are feeling in order to write about them, which doesn’t always translate into good writing, but is interesting to experience nonetheless.
X- Xpat’s Life for Me: As an expat, you simply learn to live with the fact that your other expat friends won’t always be there with you, that in most cases, one day they will move on and the tide that brought them to you will just as easily take them away.
Y- Yankee: More and more as each year passes, I feel a little less American, a little more country-less. Although based in the Netherlands for the foreseeable future, I don’t feel very Dutch. So where does this leave me?
Z- Zombie Geisha: This year’s Halloween costume had to fit into the Zombie Walk that I was going to, but I didn’t just want to be any old zombie. So I stepped it up a notch and went as a geisha zombie. I wore a kimono, carried a parasol, and had brain sushi on a plate. It was definitely in my top three Halloween costumes to date. Except when I had to take the makeup off and took half of my face skin with it. OUCH!
Mmmmmm brain sushi!
Sooo, that’s a wrap! See you all in the new year! Roll on 2012…
I just woke from a dream where I gave Lola, my dog, to a friend to bring her to her new owners. The friend left, and Lola walked out behind her, not looking back.
After a few minutes, the panic started to rise in my throat. I turned to Dave. “But….can I….will they ever let me come and see her? As often as I want?” I asked.
He tried to explain that it might be hard to see her again, and the sad look on his face brought the panic in my throat rushing upwards. I started to choke and sob as the realization sunk in. What had I just done? Had I given her away for good?
And that’s how I woke up, choking on tears.
I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep again tonight.
Since losing Lola in early June, I’ve been having a pretty hard time. It’s not easy spending months on the verge of tears, waking at night from nightmares or not being able to sleep at all from thinking of her (and her death). Even now, going on 5 a.m. and 5 months after the fact, I am sitting here trying to see my typing through the tears. I’ve tried several times to blog about her, I’ve tried to give her the eloquent eulogy that she deserves, but in this one crucial time, the proper words have failed me.
How can I possibly summarize in one blog post what she meant to me? The words end up clunky on the screen, inadequate and dull for a dog who was so full of love and sweetness and who made me smile every day for the seven years that we shared this life. (Every day.)
We started a list of all of the small and funny ways that she made us laugh and what we will miss about her. The list goes on and on.
There is so much that I miss.
There is a lot of advice out there about getting a dog, raising a dog, living with a dog, training a dog. But what they never tell you about bringing a dog into your life, is that one day you will have to say goodbye. How are you meant to deal with that?
I am working through a lot of sadness, emptiness, and guilt. Her death, too soon and too sudden, was harsh and unfair for a dog who was so mild-natured and delicate. I didn’t have a proper chance to say goodbye, it was over before I realized that it had even started. How am I meant to deal with that?
I wish that I had the energy to write more about her and what she meant to me, but for now I have to make do with the fact that she was no stranger to this blog. I hope she knew how much I loved her, and that I continue to take her with me everywhere I go.
I’m sorry for the delay. I’m going through something of a personal crisis lately, one big event has changed the way I feel about many things. I don’t feel that I can blog again until I face this one issue in words, and until then I have to stay a little away from my blog. But I hope to have a post for you soon. So thank you for your patience. I’m still here.
If I had to give advice to someone who was going through a hard time, I would say to them: Keep it to yourself. Don’t share your hurt, don’t share your sorrows, just keep it to yourself.
I didn’t keep it to myself. I was hurt and I told people that I was hurt, I lamented the pain, I wanted a shoulder to cry on, and I showed my bruises to friends. That’s me and my ‘open book’ policy I guess (Hello, My Name is Amanda, and I’m a Blogger…).
But now I really regret it. I should have kept everything to myself. Now, here, on the other side of the pain and hurt and hard times, here where the grass is much, much greener, I am constantly being reminded that I was once hurt and in pain.
Friends, who are only doing so because they care and are interested, keep asking about the pain. “You know that hurt that you felt? Does it still hurt? Do you still feel that pain? That pain that you’re trying to forget?”
They poke the bruises where the skin is still tender, and they ask questions in front of people who don’t know what I went through, so it spreads like a virus, and more people ask questions.
“You were hurt? You went through pain? How bad did it hurt? Was it painful?”
So my advice to anyone in a similar situation? Just….keep it to yourself. Because when you’re over the pain and ready to move on, the last thing you need is the whole world poking at your fading bruises.
So last month a little anniversary passed by, and it was only on my walk home from work at 5:30 in the evening that I remembered that that particular day (25th of August) was the day that I moved to Amsterdam 5 years before.
I’m sure I had a lot to say about that only-to-me-momentous occasion, but if I did it is now forgotten. It probably went something along the lines of “Oh my it’s been 5 years, times have been good, times have been bad, I’m still here, baby, wooot.” Although I hope it would have been more flowery and poetic.
Also, I think I would have added a Josh Ritter song to the post, because it was just before my move from Brussels to Amsterdam that I had been first introduced to his music, and I fell in love with the sound immediately.
On the train to Amsterdam, I listened to one album in particular for the entire 3 hour journey. I was striking out on my own, feeling vulnerable and sensitive, having just left my home, my friends, and my relationship, and it felt not unlike a bird taking flight for the first time on shakey wings (oh hey look, guess that flowery and poetic post is still in me somewhere!).
Several songs, it seemed, were made for just such a trip. For instance the aptly named “Leaving“, or the appropriately titled “Roll On“. And, of course, “Come and Find Me Now“, the lyrics of which made my heart weep wondering had I made the right decision:
Though I’m here in this far off place
My air is not this time and space
I draw you close with every breath
You don’t know it’s right until it’s wrong
You don’t know it’s yours until it’s gone
I didn’t know that it was home ’til you up and left
Anyway, since that trip just 5 years ago, I have seen Josh Ritter live in concert three times in Amsterdam, and once in Ireland. He is a fantastic performer- he and his band really give a lot back to their audience- and I fall in love all over again with his music every time I see him smiling and singing on stage. I have mentioned him on this blog plenty of times. His music stepped in at an important time in my life, and he continues to deliver with every new album.
So I guess it’s no surprise that I saw him again on Tuesday night. Which I suppose means I average one Josh Ritter concert for every year in Amsterdam. Can you see why his music is so special to me?
Because of several factors (weather, work, stress) , I really wasn’t feeling social that night, and I was just sort of coasting through the concert when one song in particular started. My friend, who is normally very reserved and doesn’t get outwardly excited about much, leaned down and whispered to me, “Have you heard this one yet?”
I hadn’t, but something about his question and the look on his face made me perk up and listen harder. If he was this excited about a song, then it must be good.
It ended up being a song so beautiful that it made me cry.
Here it is:
I was so swept away by this song, that I didn’t take in all of the lyrics. I remember being a bit confused by some of them, but it wasn’t until later when I saw the official video that it all made sense.
This amazing video is by the drummer from Josh Ritter’s band, Liam Hurley, who is apparently a puppeteer as well! I haven’t been able to stop watching the video or listening to this song since I heard it first.
If you ever have a chance, and you haven’t seen Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band yet, please please go see them live (they’ll be back in Amsterdam in April!). And then think of me, on the train to Amsterdam, striking out on my new life, or in the balcony above in Paradiso, listening to this music with tears in my eyes.
So I’ve been back for just under a week now. There is still a lot to say about my trip to the States, but I’ve recently gotten some bad news, and it just makes me want to curl up under the covers and sleep for awhile. A good long while.
On the subject of suicide, I can completely understand where the idea comes from. Where you want to turn off, stop the negative thoughts from just always being there, clogging your head.
But most people have a catch inside of them where they can see that they can live through a bad time and come out on the other side, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A silver lining, whatever you call it, all those stupid cliches.
Unfortunately for others, they can’t see that. The thoughts in their head are too much to bear, it all becomes too tiring. And too heavy a weight to carry.
I’m not sure how he took his life, and I’m not sure I want to know how. I never, in a million years, would have considered him as the kind of person who would do that. Always cheerful, always positive, always smiling. But you never really know the internal demons that people struggle with on a daily basis.
I’m just so sick that I didn’t find him earlier, and have a chance to see how he was, how he was doing, what he was up to. For years I’ve looked for him online. I found out through a friend the other morning that he took his life just this January. So recently.
It was a pretty eventful weekend on several levels.
So here goes:
- It was Queen’s Day this past weekend. You know the story: lots of people, lots of orange, lots of mean drunk Dutch people, but also lots of friendly fun ones too! So many other bloggers have already given their 2 cents about Queen’s Day with lots of photos, so I’ll leave it at that.
- Lola turned 6 years old! Where does the time fly? I remember when she was just a smudge of a puppy.
In love with a smudge.
That was the summer of 2004, and now here she is, big and hairy and 6 years old. This is the longest relationship I’ve ever had.
42 years old in dog years
- I had an unexpected guest in the form of Petra Jordan, a long-time friend from my days in Brussels. Several friends from far away were in town this weekend for Queen’s Day, but Petra was the only one that I actually got to meet up with. You just can’t make plans on Queen’s Day weekend and expect them to come to fruition, end of story. But I always have a good time when Petra is in town, and it was good to see her again. This week she heads into the studio to record her album, so keep an eye on her site or her facebook!
My favorite song of her’s has always been ‘Home’, because I always thought it would be a great summer festival song. Also because I know the story behind the lyrics, and the subsequent outcome. I can’t wait to hear her singing it one day during one of Europe’s music festivals!
- I snuck into The Next Web Conference and for an hour or so acted like I belonged there. I listened to a talk by Tim Ferriss, author of ‘The 4 Hour Work Week“. Tim was also staying at Hotel V for the weekend. He’s a nice guy, I’m totally not surprised that he’s a successful business guru.
- I drank a lot. No surprise there then! It was fun, but I think it’s time to rein it in a bit. Have to focus on some other things for awhile, and drinking tends to steer me away from those things.
- I also let the crazy out one night. In the most horribly vicious way that I could muster. And I woke up the next day absolutely disgusted with my behaviour. Because in my drunken stupor, I set out to cause pain, and cause pain I did. But when I woke up the next day I realized that I had hurt myself just as much, and I haven’t felt right since. The fact that I was forgiven just kind of makes it worse. I have too many unresolved emotions floating around inside that are absolutely killing me, so it’s time to focus on ridding myself of the negativity so I can be happy and carefree again.
- Oh and I also met a Cosmic Buddha Jigolo! He was……interesting? Definitely an abstract thinker, to put it mildly. I’m not sure if I believed him when he said that he was a jigolo, but his story was so detailed and out there, that I can’t help thinking that he maybe possibly could have been essentially a male escort. Bizarre.
He told me to pose in my most Buddha-like pose, and then took this photo and proceeded to tell me that he costs €1,300 per day. A-w-k-w-a-r-d.
Trying to keep a straight face at that insane price tag.
- And a quick mention, although my friends are already sick of hearing about it: I got this beauty and haven’t been able to stop petting it since. I have finally joined 2010! Huzzah! My, it’s awfully bright and sunny here!