On the road to hell

Watched the death toll and wounded count rise. Saw and heard the vids. Kept checking back, maybe just to make sure it really happened.

Vegas on top of Catalan on top of hurricanes and those everyday bombs that keep getting dropped in the names of “democracy” and “decency”. I’m not sure how much more humans can handle. I lay the blame on the heads of those idiots in charge, those same idiots who’ve always been in charge and who will continue to be in charge long after “voted” officials are gone from office. I lay the blame on guns and gun makers, capitalists who put a buck before humanity, and the vast majority of Americans who feel this is their life and they’ve a right to do whatever the fuck they please while alive.

Well, there you go. NRA fanatics, capitalism, and “freedom” all rolled into one. Multiple auto and/or semi automatic weapons (fuck the official reports; I heard those gunshots and they weren’t from a fucking rifle) at an open air concert in Vegas.

And wow. A full day has gone by without some fucking gun rights idiot claiming that if only someone in the crowd had a gun they could have taken the shooter down. That’s the most common argument put forth by those people: that more guns are safer because if some nut job starts killing people, another law abiding and upright citizen can kill the shooter dead on the spot. Never seems to happen.

What also never seems to happen in a simple acknowledgement of the FACTS. FACT: Europe has less guns and more gun control, and although there are gun related deaths and crimes here, we haven’t seen these mass shootings on the same scale as the US. In fact, we’re not even ON the same scale. The US has one all their own, and gun deaths are listed in the tens of thousands every year.

The Netherlands is shocked if gun deaths surpass several hundred.

And no, don’t bring up the idea that NL is so much smaller than the US and that’s why there aren’t as many gun deaths. That’s bullshit, and you know it. In fact, compare NL’s stats to any state in the US and I think you’ll still find the gun deaths here to be less. Skew it anyway you want; guns kill, and making guns easily accessible makes it easy to kill.

…What I don’t get is why the rest of the world allows a paranoid, gun-toting, bullying minority to rule them.

Gee. Maybe I just answered my own question.

One more thing I’ll risk saying because I think it needs saying: Thank Goddess the shooter was white. Enough color bullshit from the states. Acknowledge you’re discriminatory. Acknowledge your white privilege. Acknowledge you pay women less, think foreigners are dumb, and still treat African Americans like slaves. Exceptions don’t count; you’ve got to talk about the MAJORITY now. Saying ‘we’ve got a black guy on staff’ or ‘there’s a woman on the board now’ only makes it worse. It sounds as if you’re saying ‘Well, we let one of you in. That’s it; we’re done. We’re not racist or sexist anymore, see? We’ve got one of you on our side. He/She will even back us up, because we’ve let them into our club. We’ve given them money and power beyond their reckoning, and they’ve caved in and given up their morals just like we knew they would because everyone does it. Now, go away. We’ve business to attend to, boy/silly woman.’

AAAAARRRRRRRGH!

Ah. And can we talk about free speech? A news exec got the ax after an off-color comment on her personal FB page. Let’s see… You can’t protest in the streets by marching. You can’t protest at work by taking a knee. You can’t protest or even speak your own mind on your social network pages for fear of being fired. So when does this free speech kick in? Btw, I’m NOT defending the comment. Off-color is a very kind euphemism. But when and where in the “Land of the Free” are you supposed to exercise your “right” of free speech?

For many decades, you’ve only been free in the US to talk about the freedom in the US. Let’s not forget the McCarthy years (and if you’ve forgotten, or are too young to know, look it the fuck up). Let’s not forget the wording of the Patriot Act. Let’s not forget Guantanamo Bay. Let’s not forget the burning crosses on people’s front lawns, the public shaming of victims of sexual violence, the physical abuse of the LGBTQ community.

Freedom my ass!

The US likes to make things two sided. You’re for guns, or against guns. Coke or Pepsi. Democrat or Republican. Left or right. Christian or Muslim. Black or white. Man or woman.

There’s far more choice in the world.

There’s far more grey in the world.

If you force your black and white viewpoint on me, then fine. I’ll pick a side. And from where I stand, you’re in the wrong. Or at least, you’re more in the wrong than in the right. I can’t discount the fact that you’re a human being, too. You must have people you care about, things you love. You must experience some sort of emotional connection to the world, even if it’s a small and skewed one. Maybe all you feel is fear and anger. Well, I can relate even to that. Certainly, there have been days – weeks, even – when I’ve felt the world would be a much better place if 95% of the people in it were dead.

Those are my little fantasies. In those fantasies, generally I just wake up and people are gone. Not even the bodies to deal with. Total fantasy, and I realize that.

Today, though… I don’t think that particular fantasy will come up for me. I am in shock over the violence in the world – all over the world.

We are on the road to hell.

Advertisements

Rehumanize Yourself

Burkini bans. Geert Wilders. Islamophobia. The world is battering at me with reasons to be anxious.

Saw a bit on The Daily Show at a Trump rally. They had an on the street interview with a woman who didn’t think women could ever be President because of our hormones. It’s hard to see a fellow female be so damned closed minded; never mind when MEN do it. I consider it akin to men voting for a candidate that favors cutting off all men’s balls. Maybe there’s one or two freaks out there who say yeah, let’s cut all our balls off, but most men wouldn’t think it was a good idea.

Got body checked this morning by an old guy riding a bike. Many things crossed my mind. I felt affronted that I was reduced to nothing but meat: he looked like he was trying to figure out if I looked good enough to gobble up. My negativity spoke up and said oh, god, do I look THAT bad?!? while another rebel part of me pointed out that some people would consider it a compliment to be able to pull at all at my age.

If the gurus and saints are right, nothing happens that isn’t perfect in our lives: perfectly timed, perfectly executed – everything happens for a reason, even when we can’t perceive that reason. This, too, crossed my mind as the moment the body-checking man passed me my iPod (on random shuffle) began to play ‘Rehumanize Yourself’ by The Police. And then it hit me: this man had passed me by and did not see my smile, my nod in greeting to him because his eyes were too busy devouring and degrading my body head to toe.

Rehumanize yourself, indeed!

Too often I hear ‘they’re nothing like us’ these days. Nothing could be further from the truth.

People want to be happy. Society faces a problem because some people get off on abusing others – and that is a serious issue. But saying someone from another culture is too different from yourself is just sticking you head in the sand. Everyone wakes up in the morning. Everyone has to pee and shit. Everyone worries about the future, and every single one of us is afraid of something. These are huge similarities, that supersede any differences in skin color or religious views. But humanity is being whipped to a frenzy right now. Politicians are hammering home narrow and dangerous ideas. An entire generation that ‘slipped through the cracks’ of the capitalistic bubble are now being heard. You didn’t invest in your schools when you had the chance, and THIS is your outcome: poorly educated people with little to no chance of advancement on the money train, so they end up lashing out at people who don’t deserve it.

It’s happening again. That’s all that’s running through my mind, and I wonder if I’m here to stand witness to the next great war.

This behavior begins at the smallest level. It begins with the man who body-checked me this morning. His dispassionate assessment of me as sex object rather than me as a person. It is a small disregard of my humanity. But as we allow these small disregards to stand without censure, they begin to add up to larger and larger societal problems. Burkini bans. The right to choose. Equal pay for equal work. Health care for all.

I do not want to prosecute the man who body checked me. That does not and will not help the situation. I want him to understand on his own why what he did was wrong. But the only way to do that is through education. And you gotta catch people young, when their minds are still open and flexible. Very few of us have mobile enough grey matter to make leaps of understand once we’re adults.

Back to current espoused policy. Geert Wilders came out with his platform for next year’s elections. In addition to several anti-Muslim measures, it includes more of the same: cuts to the elderly, cuts to the disabled, cuts to schools and art, cuts to public broadcasting. It is a frightening prospect. How his party managed to compact so much hate into such banal political wording I’ll never know.

This is a loop. A circle of compliance and fear. I see it happening around me. And yes, it scares the hell out me. I think what frightens me most is that so many people can’t see the bigger picture. Everyone says yes, yes, it’s horrible, they’re terrible to say/do these things and I, for one, don’t support them. Yet it’s happening. If the rest of us ignore right now the rise of these right wing extremists, WE will be the ones to answer for the next batch of atrocities.

Don’t get me wrong: I understand the drive of these people. The anger they feel. What I don’t get is why everyone turns this anger on each other rather than those that rule us. Because make no mistake about it: you are ruled, whether you live in a country with a king or president or prime minister. We have been taught to worship strips of paper. We have been told that “they” want everything we have and they’ll do anything to get it. I don’t give a damn if you insert Syria or Muslims or Putin into the “they” – we all hear it. And it’s ALL a lie. It’s a slight of hand, a flash of something shiny to distract you. Oldest trick in the book and it’s still used because it still works.

You’re being played.

If you’re hearing you don’t have a choice, you’re being lied to. If you’re hearing pat answers placing the blame on someone else, you’re being lied to. No one problem is simple to fix because it wasn’t simple to create.

Everything is connected.

Time to wake up.

So history tells us

images-1.jpg

Maybe I shouldn’t say anything anymore. Someone overhears me, muttering in a corner, and somehow they think it’s free and open season on conversation. So they respond with a comment, which then brings someone else in to make a different point. Ye gods. Next thing I know there’s a fight going on caused by my ONE muttering. Had I said nothing, never been overheard, maybe everyone would have gone on their merry way and no one would walk away with a bruised ego. As it is, I have an old Uni friend and my uncle arguing on FB at the moment. Of course it’s political. Seems everything is political right now, or turned into a political argument. And both of them are pointing fingers at the other one, saying it’s your fault things are so bad in the US.

MY comment – the original muttering – was that ALL American citizens better re-think what the fuck they’re doing. Not Republicans. Not Democrats. Every. single. citizen. But no. In the US, it’s got to be them against us. Always has been, and probably always will be. Want to know WHY the US has a two party system? Because it falls into the easy ‘them or us’ category. It makes it easy to pit people against each other, draw lines in the sand, start fights.

Divide and conquer. That’s what the fat cats have done, and boy! Do they have YOU over a barrel.

By keeping one side chanting ‘USA, USA’ and the other side shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’, no real issues get addressed. Health care, once a hot topic in the states, isn’t discussed right now though I’ve heard umpteen complaints over the problems in the system Obama founded. And it should be.

The United States has the most expensive health care in the world. And it’s not very good. The doctors aren’t good. The board that watches docs and kicks out the quacks isn’t good. The drugs you get – IF you can get any medication, which seems to be damned difficult unless you’re asking to get hooked on some opioid – are horrendously expensive.

They keep telling you it’s great. I’m telling you it isn’t.

I would have thought when Michael Moore took a bunch of people down to CUBA to get their health care problems addressed in Sicko that more people would have sat up and said ‘Cuba? Cuba has better health care than the states?’ but it seems they didn’t.

I remember the time I had to go to hospital after getting mugged and dragged down the street. Not my choice; I got banged on my head and my sister insisted I get checked for a concussion. I spent over an hour on a gurney, waiting to be seen. When I finally WAS checked, it took a whole 20 minutes – 15 of which was given over to a class of med students who came in to look at my uneven pupils, a semi-rare condition I was born with. A week later I was slapped with a $2000 bill.

My physiotherapist apologizes to me for charging €31 for a half hour session.

Even in Ireland, where health care was FAR more expensive than here in the Netherlands, it was far LESS than in the states. A visit to my GP cost €21 each time in Ireland. Last time I saw a GP in the states it was $80 – and that was 25 years ago.

And health insurance? I think my policy is costing around €130 a month. When I was in my 20s and HEALTHY Blue Cross Blue Shield cost $300 a month.

Let’s just think for a minute. If everyone in your country is sick, disabled, in pain, and unwell, how high do you think your production will be? How about the quality of your products? People make mistakes when they’re not feeling well. Now think about a healthy nation. A nation where everyone gets taken care of. How much do you think they’ll be capable of? And how high will the quality get?

This is basic stuff. One plus one equals two. Why can’t you see that?

Let me make myself clear: this is NOT the fault of the doctors, nurses, and health care professionals in the field. It’s the fault of the ENTIRE SYSTEM. A system that asks young people to burden themselves with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt from school. A system that sees the health of its citizens as an opportunity to make a buck. If you are poor, uneducated, or disabled, you’re not really ‘part of the system’. You’re just a burden. The scapegoat of society, the blame for all ills of the nation. Never mind what your POTENTIAL is; right now you’re a drain on resources. That makes you bad. All of you, from your head to your toe, from your childhood to your death – BAD. You stink from it, and it’s a stink that will never wash off.

This football team maniacal feeling of ‘kill the other guy’ isn’t new. Nor is the ‘if you don’t like it, get the hell out’ line. In fact, I heard the second line enough that I did just that – got the hell out. I’m not alone. The US has had a record number of people giving up their citizenship for new nationalities.

If you seek out comparisons in history, you might find the disturbing fact that all totalitarian systems had an exodus of intellectuals prior to the final crack down.

History repeats itself.

We are growing more divisive at a time when we need to come together. This phenomenon isn’t happening only in the states; here in NL we have Geert Wilders, who’s been likened as the Trump of the Netherlands. In Britain, it’s Nigel Farage. France, Marine Le Pen. Organizations like the Sons of Odin – basically vigilante groups – are gaining ground.

Things are spiraling out of control. Everyone’s trying to say it’s not so bad, they’ve got a way to fix it. Everyone is lying. It IS that bad, and you can’t fix it. Not fast, and not easy. There is no action you can take that won’t have negative consequences somewhere. Politicians like to espouse simple lines and simple solutions. They act as if we live in an open ended universe, where all assets are unlimited as long as you keep working or digging for them.

The truth is, there’s a limit. This isn’t an open ended system. It’s closed. We use it up, that’s it. There is no more. No way to fix it. If you take more than you need, someone goes without. THAT’S the true law of the planet.

And like children, some people just can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar. They must take, they must comment, they must incite violence.

This world is not theirs alone. Injustice always topples. Always. And hate will always instigate hate.

So history tells us…

Why?

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST IS A RESULT OF MY RIGHT WING, FASCIST FAMILY AND AN EMAIL I RECEIVED THIS MORNING. REPUBLICANS BE WARNED.

imgres.jpg

Fucking goddamn right wing extremists. I’ve shot guns. Grew up shooting weapons, as a matter of fact. My dad thought it was necessary. I never got a thrill from it, it never made me feel like I was someone ‘big’. It was just loud and violent. As an adult, I’ve never had occasion to need a gun…though had I had one, it may have been pulled a few times and who knows? Maybe I would have killed someone with it. It sure as fuck wasn’t necessary in my life. It will never BE necessary in my life. I don’t need something that makes killing easier. I don’t want to kill an innocent animal. I don’t want to kill any person (though I WOULD be tempted).

And I’ve never understood people like my brother or my uncle, who are so hard right that they fully believe the ‘you can take my gun out of my cold dead hands’ motto. Do you fanatics really think that a hand gun, a shot gun, or even a semi-automatic is gonna make any difference? Honey, those soldiers aren’t gonna show up on your door. They’ll send a drone to bomb you. You’ll never see a face to shoot at. So what the fuck?

You think you’re safe with a gun? You’re not. You’re far more likely to be killed by that weapon than be saved by it.

Let me tear down a few lies here. ‘Cause I was told that the in Europe no one could own a gun. In Europe, the army roamed the streets in full combat gear with machine guns. In Europe, people were helpless if anything should ever happen.

Plenty of people own guns here, and most are farmers. Each country should know; guns are registered. And once in a while – even here in sleepy Holland – a civilian gets shot and killed. The numbers are way low in comparison to the states. I believe that’s due to the difference of how easy and available weapons are in Europe vs the states. There isn’t a gun shop on every corner, in every town, with a huge selection of weapons. Truth is, I don’t know where a person would buy a gun – and I’m so fucking happy about that. There’s no corner store I can point to and say ‘yes, I’m pissed off; let’s buy a gun’. I’m sure there are illegal ways to get a gun; there always are. But there’s no easy access, no walking out of a bank after opening an account with a new rifle. I think that makes a HUGE difference, and baby, I’m living it. I am not afraid here of someone pulling a gun on me. I can’t say that in the states.

As for that passing by fully weaponized police or army on every street corner, I’ve heard the states is far closer to that right now than here. Of course I’ve seen authority figures with weapons. Of course I’ve seen some army guys with guns. The Netherlands hasn’t been hit by any big horror, but we’ve had one or two scares. But guys with helmets and machine guns are NOT standing on every street corner. And even if they did stand on every corner, I’d bet my last buck that I’d still be able to approach and speak to them and get a civil answer. I wouldn’t have to hold my hands up and say ‘don’t shoot’.

While I can’t condone anything that’s been going on in Turkey, I can say this: the civilians there pulled the army out of TANKS – without weapons. They just did it en masse. They had hands, and planks of wood, and stones. I didn’t see anyone walking around with a gun, pointing it at this person or that person. People were killed. Weapons were fired. But the coup failed because citizens just said no. It didn’t take guns to do that. Yes, I know forces loyal to the current regime were a major player in some of the skirmishes. Not all. And the video of the people stopping the tanks and overtaking them – that’s powerful. Very powerful. I didn’t see one fucking gun in any of those shots. Not one (other than the tank itself). Obviously, you don’t need weapons to stop a tank.

What is it about America and violence? The puritan paranoia from old? Why are there so many people who commit their lives to violence – not just in deed, but in thought and in word? Why are there so few negotiators and peace makers?

As an expat, I can tell you this: Americans are brain washed. America has this way of closing off borders without needing walls. Maps stop at Canada and Mexico (hell, WEATHER doesn’t even exist outside the good ol’ US). I’ve seen those US news reports; grew up with them. The spin they put on things. The subtle messaging, day in and day out. It took me at least 5 years to crack the box my head was put in by American propaganda. To learn the TRUTH.

The United States sucks. I’m not talking about the basic principles laid out in the Constitution or Bill of Rights, I’m talking about the daily execution of those ‘principles’. Everyone gets stuck on certain aspects; freedom of religion, free speech, right to bear arms. And oh, goddess! Why are you treating these old pieces of paper like holy relics? They’re badly written. ‘Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’. What the fuck is THAT supposed to mean? That it’s okay for a serial killer to do his thing ’cause that’s what makes him HAPPY?

Can you imagine living in a place where most of the population is happy and satisfied with life? I can; I’m here. Why isn’t the world looking to Malta, one tiny place with a very happy populace? Or Denmark? Or even here, in the Netherlands?

Why do we lead with violence and hate?

And why do we make it so damned easy to kill each other?

A little summer inside me

imgres.jpg

It’s been a few days. I can tell I’m full of unsaid things; it’s hard to figure out where to start. The red is back on my news button. I can walk again without pain, thanks to finding out just how sadistic my physiotherapist actually is. And I’ve collapsed in on myself.

Went out for a walk yesterday, the first actual walk in weeks. I got my lotto ticket – plus a freebie because once again my ticket hit a couple of numbers – and made an appointment to take care of my hair. Felt a bit Frankenstein-ish for the first 15 minutes; I kept expecting pain, so I minced my steps and kept my eyes on the sidewalk because the last thing I wanted was to trip over an uneven paving block. I was also just nervous. Being out in public, dealing with Dutch again first hand…I don’t know. It was weird. I felt overly shy and intimidated, though there was no bleeding reason for it. I realize now what I didn’t realize a few weeks ago: my language teacher wasn’t just teaching me Dutch, he was giving me a lot of confidence to continue to TRY to tackle the language. Feels like I did a runner; haven’t used any of my language skills lately and although there’s much more I can read, I think my comprehension of the spoken language has taken a nose dive.

Not pleased about that.

But it’s great to move without pain or some sort of tugging sensation in my back. And my physiotherapist…well, he said some patients call him a sadist, and I get it now. He took my leg, crossed it over my body, then pulled it up so my foot was about the level of my head. HUGE stretch. I thought my leg was gonna snap off. Then there were the sitting twists, with a pain point on my spine that was SO bad when he touched it I really didn’t think I was gonna twist at all. In the end, though, I sat up, then stood up, without pain. Can’t argue with the result.

Yesterday I woke up to a bloodbath in Nice, today to an attempted coup in Turkey. Portugal is just about bankrupt, Italy’s oldest bank is about to go bust. As I wrote to a friend, I was very excited to be here for the beginning of the euro. These days I wonder if I’ll be here to see it break up. I’ve also been following local news, and a pattern has emerged. There’s a neighborhood half way between me and downtown that’s a problem. If someone’s been shot or arrested in Rotterdam, chances are 60% or greater that they’re coming from this location. I’m keeping an eye on it. And the neighborhood. Things get too hairy and we’ll bug out to a new location. Of course, things have to get a lot worse than what they are now before I’d consider moving. I’m living in a land where one shooting will be talked about for days, even weeks, because it’s that rare.

…So I feel like I need to stop lolly-gagging. My bro is nagging me to take it easy and I agree; I can’t go off and start hauling around a bunch of heavy shit or crawling on the floors to clean something right now. I also can’t continue to sit on my ass like I have been. Or if I AM sitting on my ass, I should be doing stuff like language lessons on my computer. Language is weird right now. My reading skills are above my speaking/hearing skills, so I catch far more from subtitles on tv than I do from listening to dialogue. But the written word has become symbols to me; put a few letters together this way and it I know what it means in Dutch, tho I probably won’t recognize the word if it’s said. I’m not reading with that inner narration voice I use in English. I just recognize the symbols. And I realize I could become fluent in the written word and not be able to speak for shit, if I let it happen. Trust me to do it the opposite way of most people.

Keep finding myself saying ‘no, I don’t WANT to smoke’. That’s weird. And I’ve been having a few headaches, too. Don’t know where my smoking level is at because I haven’t cared to keep track. Whatever level it is, it’s going down.

Off the pain killers, too. That’s good; I’ve managed to stop with 8 pills in reserve for the next emergency.

*sigh* Funny how when I’m up I have nothing to say about my emotions but when I’m down that’s all I can write about. Maybe that’s denial. Or maybe that’s just a touch of normalcy. There’s more things going on outside of me than inside right now (or so I tell myself). Can’t tell and I could give a fuck. All I know is that I need to concentrate a bit on the outer stuff. Walking normally. Being able to respond to simple things in Dutch again. Going out alone without feeling weird. That’s tough, but manageably tough. A challenge, but a challenge I can handle. Though I have to admit I was probably red in the face and sweated up a bit yesterday after Dutch this and Dutch that. I’ve got the weekend to walk out some of my stored up mania. I can go back to some language lessons and listen again. Get my ear back. Move forward.

And I’d like to do something summery. I don’t know what. BBQ, swim in the lake, a festival. Something. Something to tell me that yes, this is summer and I did something that only this season offers. There’s a deep ache in me for summers of old. Running thru the grass. Boating on a lake. The smell of charred meat in the air. The taste of corn on the cob, lathered up with butter and salt. Sitting around in the sun, drinking beer with friends. I miss all of that.

Somehow I’ve got to get a little summer inside of me. A little sunshine nonsense to tell me the world isn’t all that bad. People still have fun. It isn’t all red news buttons and pain and work.

Orthopedic Shoe Poster Woman/Child

After all my waiting, planning, and anticipation, I was shocked – SHOCKED – yesterday when the appointment to pick up my new shoes came and went with nary a notice. Wonderful to realize you’ve missed something 15 minutes after the time you were supposed to be there. Lucky for me they had time later in the day. So here they are:

IMG_0758.JPG

There’s been loads of compromises on these shoes as well as indulgences in exactly what I want. I think they turned out pretty damned cool. I need to go back to the shop today; one heel is too tight and I didn’t notice it until after I’d been walking with them for half an hour. But I’m confident that they’ll fit me in for a simple adjustment like that. Because I have become

Orthopedic Shoe Poster Woman/Child.

Yes. They snapped pics and asked me to come back for a special meeting of rheumatologists, headed up by my own rheumatologist, to discuss orthopedic shoes in general for RA sufferers. I’m back Monday evening to be a model and a spokesperson. Guess I’m that perfect blend of chronic sufferer, optimist, and affable person for them. I don’t mind. If every person who suffered from RA got a pair of these shoes, I think there’d be less of those damned chairs that zoom around. Who wants to sit and ride when they can walk? Wait…that’s just me again, isn’t it? Whatever, man. Get that heel adjusted and I might not take these shoes off all summer long. They don’t even make my feet look big.

Ah, I’m at that point again. I’ve let things slide long enough that now I’ve a mountain of work. Writing to people, cleaning, following up on notifications from this and that. I must like it. Like the challenge of tackling a lot of stuff at once. Because I do it all the fucking time. *rolls eyes* And damn me if it doesn’t come at times when I’m busy with life. There’s 50 things I WANT to do before rolling up my sleeves and tackling the bleeding HOUSEWORK. Meh.

Today I’ve a huge…why am I typing this? I’ve got my camera. THIS is what I’ve got:

IMG_0759.JPG

Flowers. Yes. More than that. These flowers were picked up at my local market. Outdoor market, not supermarket. Three large bunches for five euro. That’s less expensive than at the stores, and these blooms are much fresher. The guy wrapped them all up in brown paper, so I walked home with this HUGE bouquet in my arms. I’ve never won anything like a beauty contest and I KNOW these aren’t roses, but walking home with them wrapped up made me FEEL like I was wearing a crown.

I now believe every woman should, once in her life, walk down the street with a huge bouquet of flowers in her arms. Sounds silly, I know. But it really is quite an experience.

Since my camera is out and ready, I’ll share with you some of the other things I’ve been excited about. My new dining room table (remember – it was FREE) with green and purple chairs:

IMG_0760.JPG

Ignore any clutter. The place isn’t finished.

And here’s one of my new chairs:

IMG_0761.JPG

A comfy seat and probably the one you’ll be sitting in if you visit.

Pretty cool, right? It feels good to have a few items of furniture that don’t look like I’ve had them for 20 years. It feels even better to know we got everything at a good price. I mean, how can you beat FREE?

I’m doubly glad for the flowers and few nice items considering the state of the world. Things are shaky again, and just to be safe we need to quiet down and save money this summer. Currency exchange rates have gone haywire since Trump’s been announced the presumptive Republican candidate. Every country in the world is selling off dollars and US assets. If it keeps going like this, the dollar will be the same as a junk bond – worthless, and risky to invest in. Americans better start to think for once in their lives.

But when has THAT ever happened?

Ach! No. more. politics. It’s hard for me at times because what’s happening politically has a huge impact on the day to day here. Very different from the states, where a federal law or decree can be issued but nothing much changes in people’s lives. Here it has real consequences.

What I can tell you, without grousing over politics, is that I’ve got a lot of new neighbors these days. None of them are Dutch. None of them look Dutch, speak Dutch, or act like the Dutch. Case in point: the downstairs neighbor had a full on fight a few days ago, complete with screaming and bloodied participants. The entire building turned out to find out what was going on. One guy left with his shirt ripped off, his pants almost down, and blood dripping down his face. Not really what you think of when someone says ‘Holland’.

And hey! I don’t expect these people to be in good shape. They’ve all suffered through a lot, and undoubtedly all of them need PTSD counseling. The clothing doesn’t bother me, the language doesn’t phase me. What DOES phase and bother me is the culture clash. The Dutch are open, friendly. When you walk around your neighborhood it’s kind of expected that you greet other walkers with a hello and a smile, or at least a nod. The newcomers don’t. Not even the women; let’s not get started on the men who, at times, won’t even look at you if you’re female much less acknowledge that you just spoke.  And no, it’s not ALL of them. Many are open, friendly, willing to learn and make friends. Just. not. all. It’s those few who are closed down and refuse to integrate that stand out and cause the problems. And yes, those few make me feel a wee bit unsafe. It doesn’t even seem like they WANT to be here.

I want to be here. The next decade may be a very trying one on the European continent. Hell! It’ll be trying no matter where you live on this planet. But I’ll stay where I am, be a patriot – YES, a patriot – for my new homeland. After all, how could they cope without Orthopedic Shoe Poster Woman/Child?

The EU in Three Minutes: Eurovision

I think I’m over my disappointment with the Eurovision Song Contest. I’ll buy the CD, like I always do. Support the cause. But I’m not buying it for the ‘winning’ song. Ugh. I’d rather not hear that particular piece again. Guilt drenched songs do not go over well with me. No idea what the full lyrics are, but make no mistake about it – it was a fuck you, you’re all guilty message to the EU. And someone voted for it. A lot of someones. Yeesh.

Australia should have won, hands down.

Supposedly Eurovision happens with no political agenda. I noticed this year that was mentioned, as it usually is. But it’s impossible to do Eurovision without political agendas, and that’s part of the reason I like to watch it. Each country has their own rules for picking the song and the performer, but make no mistake about it – each country has enormous influence over what’s going to represent them at the contest. Many are handpicked by Eurovision committees to give the look and the message they want to send out to the world. So I consider it a good snapshot of the current internal reality of each country involved. Sometimes the message is straight up in the lyrics. Sometimes it’s more subtle. Here are the messages (in no particular order) that caught my ears:

Belgium – What’s the Pressure

What’s the Pressure – funky, danceable, and performed by one of the very best we saw Saturday night. Keep your eyes and ears open for Laura Tesoro – she’s young, but she’s one of the most polished performers I’ve ever seen. Impeccable performance. What’s the message in this song? It’s all about the Belgium people, their mindset. Do you hear it? Culturally, they’re laid back, and that’s reflected in the title – what’s the pressure? Kick back. Dance and have fun. Why are you getting so upset? Remember this song is coming from the land with Molenbeek, the EU hotspot for homegrown terrorists.

UK – You’re not Alone

You’re not Alone – in many ways, this song was structurally the strongest in the contest. The boys did a good job on the night, but what they needed to do to win was a spectacular job, and in that, they failed. This one’s pretty easy. And considering the Brexit vote is looming, can you tell which camp had a hand in this one? Pro Europe. We’re here with you. ‘We’re in this together’. Even though they’ve resisted joining the single currency. Pretty clear the UK wanted this message to go out to their people and the world. Stay. in. the EU.

Georgia – Midnight Gold

Midnight Gold – one of two bands on stage on Saturday, and the only band I’ll take seriously. A deceptive sounding song; it’s basically a blues based thing, but they have some great chord moves, a flattened vocal delivery that’s VERY effective, and a skip beat that makes this harder than you might think to perform. That’s not even mentioning the Voivod mid section. There’s no message here lyrically; it’s just a cool rock song. What you should be paying attention to is what’s coming out of Georgia. Great rock music. Great rock music comes out of a certain balance in a country. Too much freedom for the people and they get laid back, don’t have that edge to make rock. Too much restriction and they go further than just rock. What you’re hearing here is what I’d call ‘garage’ rock. It’s a sound a group of kids could make in their garage, playing their instruments. But this IS Georgia’s pop, which means their regular rock is much heavier than this. Strife in that country, two years in a row. The world should be checking out what’s happening over there.

Latvia – Heartbeat

Heartbeat – I was not very impressed with Justs in the semi-final. But man, did he go to 110% in the final. Great performance of the song. The message here again is not in the lyrics, but in the song itself. This is LATVIA. One of the old Eastern Bloc countries. The EU has this unspoken feeling that the old Eastern Bloc countries are a bit less sophisticated than we are in the west. The first year these countries participated, I think that was pretty damned obvious. What I’m impressed by is the huge advance in sound they’ve all taken in such a short time. Snappy, urban, right there in the centre of what’s wanted at Eurovision. Message: We’re hard workers, and we want to be part of Europe.

Russia – You Are the Only One

You Are the Only One – Frankly, I’m not impressed by this song at all. It’s here for one reason: it’s coming out of Russia, and considering the current strife throughout the world, Russia’s message in this song is important. For this, you have to ignore the lyrics and the song entirely. Look at the video. The play with the backset is a direct take from last year’s winner, Heroes. Russia is trying to figure out how to do Eurovision. Trying to assess what Europe enjoys and likes. They’re a step behind rather than being innovators, but they ARE trying. Message: We want you to like us. What can we do to make that happen?

Lithuania – I’ve Been Waiting for This Night

I’ve Been Waiting for This Night – Again, this is coming out of an old Eastern Bloc country. Huge advancement in the song structure, the performance, the production, the video, the entire package. Same message as Latvia. And they sent a real heartbreaker!

Australia – Sound of Silence

Sound of Silence – Dami Im is an incredible performer. She seems to be gifted; like all she needs to do is open her mouth and those fantastic notes are just there. Australia isn’t part of the EU. I just put it here because it deserves a listen. And it should have won.

Germany – Ghost

Ghost – The mournful mother of the EU. Oh, so sad. The children are squabbling and being less than momma thinks they can be. Pretty simple to figure out. What’s much harder to figure out is what’s up with the outfit.

Azerbaijan – Miracle

Miracle – It’ll take a miracle to heal this love. Yep. Pretty straight forward opinion on the state of the EU, even tho they’re not really involved. They  must be happy they’ve not applied for membership.

Netherlands – Slow Down

Slow Down – Don’t even bother opening this up unless  you like country flavored folksy soft pop rock. The Dutch talked this one up heading into the competition. Slow down. Considering the recent no vote on Ukraine, this one is pretty easy. And living here, I can back the sentiment in the song. I think the Dutch DO feel things are moving too quickly with the refugee problem and the ongoing financial difficulties of more than one member of the EU. These are people who speak four languages and smoke dope, and they’re saying it’s too much to handle, let’s take it down a notch. Better listen.

Ukraine – 1944

1944 – Here it is. Guilt in a three minute song. Ugh. And maybe that should tell me something, too, about the overall feeling in Europe. It’s guilt. Deep, heavy guilt. Guilt over the refugees. Guilt over the war. Guilt over the relations with America, guilt over wanting to have relations with Russia. Guilt over having to say no. Guilt over admitting to a growing right-wing problem. The EU is in desperate need of a good counsellor right about now.

 

There you have it. Three minute snapshots of the participating countries, and some pretty good music once in a while. Eurovision. Yeah. See Europe in three minute songs. They named it well.

Een Goede Plaats om te Beginnen

images.jpg

Word of the day is sleep. Turns out it was a major word yesterday, too. Fell asleep several times while sitting with the tv on. AND slept thru til 6:30 this morning. Almost a normal night. I feel incredibly fucking tired despite all the rest.

I feel like I’ve shut down.

Continue reading “Een Goede Plaats om te Beginnen”

Back Burner Boil

images

I did well yesterday. Very well, in fact. Enough to put a gold star on my forehead today. I went out THERE for 3 hours – three whole hours – and never bit my tongue. I never even felt annoyed at anyone. I also didn’t stop writing.

Waiting for the metro. On the metro. In the stations. Up the escalator. Down the street. In the shops. There wasn’t a single place I could go where my head wasn’t narrating some epic scene. Popped into my favorite coffeeshop for about half an hour and took advantage of sitting and a table in front of me. Out came the notebook and pen. Scribble, scribble. Strike out. Notes climbing up the sides of the paper like word ladders. The experience certainly reminded me why I now get so much done on my computer. It’s faster. And far neater. There was a time I found a blank screen on my computer intimidating. Now I’d rather face that blank screen than have to pick up a pen and later unravel my own spider-crawl writing. What a mess.

And I wrote my novel long-hand!

Ah, well, you won’t catch me at that again.

More social commentary. Good goddess, I had no idea I had so much to say about society. So much to say about PEOPLE. I get so wound up at times that the only thing that comes out of my mouth is ‘morons’ and curse words. Sure as hell never thought I’d be writing insightful stories, breaking people down into two sentences that smack the truth over your head with a quick slap, slap on either cheek. Of course, this is manic me talking. No one’s published yet. No one may ever publish my stuff. So who the fuck am I to say it’s good? It could be shit, yes, it could. I don’t believe it today, thank you. Try me again tomorrow.

Okay, embarrassing confession coming up. Everybody turn away.

I queefed yesterday in public. Full out fart coming up the alleyway and getting an extra phfft from my labia. It was LOUD, too. I hope my cough, which generated the fucking thing in the first place, covered up most of it. For fuck’s sake! For a moment I thought Terrance and Philip from South Park were going to make an entrance. I mean, that’s a new one for me. I’ve got to age where I let my farts go if I need to and to hell with where I am. I try to be discrete, try to only let them fly when I’m away from other people. But sometimes they just slip out (and yes, a part of me is a little afraid of becoming my dad in this; he farted every time he walked). Yesterday it happened in the coffeeshop with about a dozen people as witnesses. SOoooooooo very happy they were all toking up. Maybe if they heard it they thought they imagined it.

My farting gives me pause. If I’m farting this much, how much more is my obese sister farting at this point? She liked to take it up the ass, too. I can’t help but think that served to loosen up her anus even more. She must be a farting machine. lol! Well, that gives me something to chuckle about. Farting too much would be exactly the type of thing she’d never mention, even to her doctor. It wouldn’t fit her perfectly coifed and manicured life. Ha!

Alright. Enough with the farting.

It’s Sunday, a lazy day in any language. Seems the whole world gets a little quieter on Sundays. Dawn breaks a little later, the birds sing a little softer. It’s a recurring pause in our timeline, a point for tidying up last week’s mess and preparing for the days ahead. I got a lot of mess to clean up. And I’m not sure what I’m prepping for. So Sundays can get confusing for me. I can feel a little like an old record stuck in a groove. TV reruns. News re-caps. Oh, please! You can’t tell me nothing happens on Sundays. Still, there it is, every damned Sunday: the week in review. Look at all the violence shoved into one three minute montage. This week the focus is on the sea of immigrants coming to the EU. Yeah, like I said: I catch the news whether or not I want to. So I’ve seen the pictures. I’ve heard about the video of the drowned child. I’ve listened to what the politicians are saying, both the excuses and the accusations. I can no longer say nothing about it. While politics are politics and I refuse to make this blog into a political arena, the situation is encroaching on daily life and thus it IS affecting me, in many ways. And, as usual, I can see both sides of this fence with equal clarity and reason. On the one hand, you have this huge humanitarian crisis. The people risking their lives to get to the EU do so because it’s less a risk than staying in their own country. I think people should stop and give that some thought. Mothers and fathers are risking their children’s lives to get here because it’s LESS a risk walking hundreds of miles or getting crammed into the back of a truck or getting on that overcrowded, leaky old boat than it is to stay. It’s the better fucking option, even if they do die along the way. These people need help, not aggression. On the other hand, this problem is HUGE. Everything carries a price, like it or not, and few of the EU countries involved have a solid financial foothold in the world. Greece is drowning. She may never recover. Hope if you wanted to see Greece, you had your chance. She’s dying and will never be the same. And the infighting! This has reignited those age old adversities between England and France, Germany and Europe, Germany and France. The small kids – Greece, Ireland, Portugal – are going DOWN, people. Good-bye. Not going to survive this. England is doing what England always has; addressing the entire situation with a haughtiness born of empire and never fully beaten out of them.

The EU may crack over this.

I, for one, would be sad to see it happen. Cohesiveness without absolute uniformity IS possible. What I don’t understand is how so many insufferable politicians have managed to secure seats in the EU parliament. Mary Harney from Ireland was a horrible health administer; under her rule millions were wasted building facilities that then lay unstaffed and dormant. She was also the one that got called to task for flying to France to get her hair done – on tax payer’s money. Yet despite all this, she sits in EU parliament serving as CHAIR for European Steering Group on Sustainable Health. Un-fucking-believable. If ya let eejits like her in, no fucking wonder everything is in such a goddamn mess. Bleh. Someday there will be a new story, and Mary Harney will serve as fuel for it.

If I ruled absolute, first thing I’d do would be boring, boring, boring. I’d modify ALL accounting standards across the board. Wipe the slate clean. Make everyone go back to solid, basic accounting principle. Honestly, the rules have become as convoluted as tax law. And about as logical. They were designed that way. So, out with all that. Get back to what we really need to know: CASH FLOW. Not the cash flow offered by accountants these days. REAL cash flow. Real money doing real things. Yes, some of the pretend money flow is valuable information. Depreciating large assets over time not only helps track the value of the assets, it also helps track regular maintenance AND replacement needs. But that shit should be put on a separate page and not integrated AT ALL in the main bulk. It’s not real; don’t fucking include it. There’s plenty of comedic scenes built on people not really knowing how much money they have. Just watched one last night in an Ab Fab episode (Season 2, Poor). Funny, yes. Very real, too. Claiming “invested” money as cash equivalents is ludicrous. Unless you cash them out right then and there the numbers are MEANINGLESS. Keep them off the report, too. And the will-o-the-wisp nothings that financial wizards whip up over night to become the next hot thing to make money on should just be illegal. Full stop. Banks would get their balls snipped and have to go back to being banks, not investment houses. Banks would have extreme regulation, as a matter of fact. No more taking money on both ends to fatten their own pockets. Nope. You earn money the old fashioned way. Worked for a fucking long time. Trickle down economics just let the bear loose. Now we’ve got a really BIG, fat and ANGRY bear to deal with. Shoot the motherfucker. And yeah, 1%. You’d go back to your 50% tax rate and you’ll like because there will be nowhere else to go. Really sorry that you have to give up that golden back scratcher this month, and really sorry that your single master goldsmith won’t get his commission. But that money will feed thousands and fix vital railways and provide wells for water and education for kids. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

*shudder* Sorry. I was just channeling the spirit of the accountant/financier/economist in me.

I guess with all this spilling out of me I shouldn’t be so surprised at the nature of my stories right now. There’s a lot going on with that back burner right now.

Broken Bones, Answers, and Good Thoughts

Saturday. I actually slept in and got 8 hours last night. It’s weird how long an 8 hour sleep seems to me these days. It’s equivalent of a 12 hour sleep in when I was 15. I feel so much more refreshed today it’s almost a night and day type situation (and if the weather was 10 degrees cooler, that’s just what I’d say. it isn’t and i’m damned hot).

Spoke to my brother yesterday. I hate telling him when I’m having a bad time. I hate telling anyone when I’m having a bad time. I feel stupid, like when I get a bone fracture in my foot (currently nursing one). I know nothing can be done; my bro can’t help my emotions and doctors don’t do shit for a hairline fracture near a toe. Oh, but tell them (everyone says). Well, I’ve told my brother but not my doctors. It’s too f***ing hot to go to hospital and get irradiated only to be told what I already know – got a hairline fracture, stay off of it. Wow, tough diagnosis.

Anyway, here I sit with my slightly damaged foot and my jumbled mind. My bro knows and is on the look out for all the signs that I’m falling too far, too fast. I feel pretty good today. Must have been the extra sleep. Or maybe my head is quieting down all by itself. Is that possible or am I just kidding myself now? Don’t know; don’t care. Just pleased enough that I’m not off the rails this morning. I didn’t shout at the tv or start to grind my teeth while watching the news. I did tear up a bit at a comment on my last post, but those were tears of gratefulness because someone else out here took the time to make a comment and reach out to me. It’s not what I started this for, and not what I expected. But since I often feel like a lone pimple on society’s ass, it hits home when someone says to me ‘I get it. I know what you’re saying and feeling. I’m right there with you.’.

Made a decision WITH my brother yesterday, which is kind of new for our dynamic duo. Usually, one of us takes the forefront and becomes the leader, making decisions while the other does the back up support system role. Yesterday we spoke frankly about our financial situation, and decided to NOT go ahead with language courses this month. It was a tough decision; we both know our limited language skills are holding us back from fully enjoying life here. But with Greece ready to exit the EU, Austria holding a referendum to leave, and Spain looking at the exit, it’s just stupid to spend cash right now. I fully expect to experience closed banks here at some point during the summer. So we’re tightening our belts, paying off debts, and hoarding cash. I just don’t want to be caught off guard. I’m glad my bro agreed with me. It was touch and go for a bit on the language course. We’re both smart but very lazy, and we know we need a regular class along with a teacher who has expectations of us in order to get us actually working! So I’ve doubled down on my commitment to try and learn on my own. The more words I can add to my vocabulary, the better. I know I’m forming sentences like a 3 year old. I know I mix up the tenses, and get the definitive articles wrong sometimes. But I’m also understood. Any time I can get through a simple transaction completely in Dutch I feel like I’ve won something. In fact, I usually celebrate with a happy dance (yes, the Dutch have seen me and yes, they must think I’m a little crazy but they mostly smile at my antics).

farewellmelancholia made a comment to me and asked ‘isn’t it funny to finally be the foreigner?’. I wanted to make a public answer to that. Immigration is a big issue in the world right now. It’s certainly right in my face at the moment. And I went out to read farwellmelancholia’s blog; she’s facing the fish-out-of-water syndrome as well. So here’s my answer, farwellmelancholia. I LOVE being the foreigner. I’ve cried over some of the racism and nasty comments and behavior I’ve received (yes, there are bigots here in Nederlands). And I haven’t even received many nasty remarks or looks! It’s given me an entirely new perspective on people in general. I hate that there’s hate out in the world; hate for not being a certain color or religion or sexual preference or language speaker. But there aren’t any lines drawn in the sand; these borders we impose are of our own making. For the first time in my life, I’m looking at people as PEOPLE. It doesn’t matter where we’re born. It doesn’t matter where we grew up. It doesn’t matter what language we speak. It doesn’t matter our religion or political affiliation. We all have common ground. Everyone smiles when they’re happy and everyone cries when they’re sad. That SHOULD be enough to clue us into the idea that we’re ALL human, and holding prejudices towards strangers whom we know nothing about is completely wrong. So leaving the safety net of home-spun English speaking society has been the best thing I ever did. And how ever much I struggle with Dutch and gripe about my slow progress, it’s all worth it. Even the language has things it’s teaching me. I’ve had to strip my conversation of localisms and phrases that don’t translate. I’ve noted how Dutch does things differently; being someone who’s struggled with weight and body image for ALL of my life, I was startled to start saying ‘I have hunger’ rather than ‘I’m hungry’. It put a different mental spin on the entire issue for me, and began to free me from my food addictions. Just by studying the frigging language! I can only imagine what differences I will feel when I become fluent. The Dutch are accused of being too forthright and it’s true: they don’t pussyfoot around with niceties or subtle putdowns. If they want to tell you to fuck off, they’ll tell you to fuck off, not insert some snide comment to eat away at your self esteem and guts for the next 40 years. Since I recognize a very big people pleaser inside of me, I’d love to be able to adopt this forthright, up front way of talking. Hell, I’m having a hard time pulling up the truth when I talk to a counsellor right now. And why? Because I was taught to lie right from the start. English does it all the time. I’m beginning to think it’s built into the language.

And how weird is it to say we’re foreigners on our own planet?

Sometimes I wish I could live to see the next 100 years. Other times I’m grateful to know I won’t be around. I honestly don’t know if humanity can survive. If climate change doesn’t get ya, wars will. I don’t believe any space travel will save us; it’s too little, too late. Terraforming should have been started 30 years ago. Sorry for the bleak outlook. It’s what I see. And it’s why I never had any children. Who could send someone they love out into a future that looks like it ends? I couldn’t. I can’t. I feel guilty enough thinking about the possibility of a pet or a plant outliving me.

But if I’m wrong, if all the horrible things I see in motion can be avoided, if humanity can SOMEHOW pull themselves out of this shit and work together…I want to say it will be better. That people will stop exploiting other people. That by reaching out to the stars, the divisions we feel here on Earth will melt away. I don’t know if that’s true. I DO want to believe it. Can we rise above what we are? Can we take a leap of faith without grasping at the entangling safety net of religion? Can we work in harmony without enforced compliance? Can we learn to share our resources so that no one goes without food, shelter, or health care?

In part, the answer to these questions is being formed right now. It’s what we decide to do TODAY that will make an impact tomorrow. I can’t do much. I can’t change the world. But maybe I can learn a little bit more about it, change a few people’s minds about the world or other people, or, just by my actions as a caring individual, help to tear down the walls of prejudice just by my presence. I think I’ll hold onto that thought this morning. It’s a good one.