Sunday, November 17, 2013

New love

He is funny.
He is intelligent.
He is musical.
He is dramatic.
He is reasonable.
He is sexy.
He is exciting.
He is great.

The occasional address he gave in Perth in September was the first thing I saw of him. Then I saw Rock and Roll Nerd, a documentary from 2008 in which he transforms from a nice, shy and starting comedian into a rock star/comedian/composer/actor. After that, I got lost in the endless (but unfortunately still limited) amount of youtube films. I am living in the world of Tim Minchin and I want to stay here forever.

Again and again, I am struck by the combination of his musicality and his, imbued with intelligent messages, songs and jokes. Both the sounds and the content move me. I would like to keep all of this to myself, so I don't have to share his world with others. But in fact, he is already very famous and I am never the first to discover someone or something. So I turn into a desciple and preach the gospel of Minchin.

My friends roll their eyes when I tell them my stories. My enthusiasm and devotion are not connecting with them. They watch the things I show them, but they don't believe me. They know about my missionary zeal or the never ending dedication with which I lovingly and vigorously focus myself on new discoveries. They already have wondered about my fascinations and do so now again.

So I remain alone in Tim Minchins world. In which god and jezus are not a taboo, in which lovely lullabies are actually not so sweet, in which nothing is taken for granted and in which love, involvement and humour predominate. If you're looking for me, this is where I am.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Now what?

Why would you quit your job in these times? Didn't you like your job? Why would you walk away from all those securities and submit yourself to an adventure that is only guided by uncertainty? What are you doing now? What do you want to do? How are you going to handle this? What are you plans exactly? And... how do you earn your money now?

These are a few of the questions I got since I quit my job last Feburary, both from friends and from people I've just met. The strangers are easy to distract by asking them about their own work/job/life purpose/hobby. It's harder to talk about something different with friends and acquaintances. They want to know the ins and outs. They want to try to understand what I am doing. Often, this causes a lot of stress for them, that they directly fire back at me.
My honest answer to their questions is: I don't know. I am on a search, and I want to do a lot of things. But I don't know what or how or where. I was looking forward to do 'something else', but I don't have a clue what that is supposed to be. But not having a clue is not the right answer in a world where the economic crisis, melting polar ice and impending wars are a constant threat. There are too many uncertainties already, why the hell would you create even more?

Creating a new life is not easy. Not without stress. Not relaxed. But the vacuum that occurs when all the certainties disappear, leads to new ideas and new plans. I have to get used to the fact that 'everything' is possible again. I myself, and not my incoming mail, will decide what my day is going to be like. Of course there is money to be earned. Of course there are bills to be paid. But fortunately, the bills are relatively low, as is the money. So they cancel each out, which leaves time. Time to figure out 'Now what?'.

I'm not alone in this situation, I knew that. Next Monday, (October 7), the Dutch documentay show Backlight airs an episode about 'my generation' and how it 'handles the crisis that influences them in a time that is about carreer, founding a family and thinking about the future'. Everyone who asked me
one of the above questions perhaps should watch Backlight first. Then we'll talk.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013


The music documentaries are always the highlight of my IDFA adventure. Last year however, none of the music films I wanted to see fit my tight schedule. They had to compete against documentaries about the financial crisis, Afghanistan and other terrible issues.

So, I missed Big Easy Express, a film that made me incredible happy at a later time. Imagine: three (quite famous) folk bands, in a train, crossing America.

It's so simple. And so much fun. And so nice. After having crossed the US from east to west and from west to east, both over land, I started loving films in which this happenes.

The bands: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford & Sons.
The journey: from San Fransisco to New Orleans.
The music, the train, the drinks, the skies.

You don't need more to become very happy and ready to pack your bags and become a traveling musician. Untill then, and while awaiting the beginning of summer, I strongly advise you to watch the film. So you'll be prepared once you'll hit the road.

Friday, May 24, 2013


For days, I've been trying to find the right words to persuade the people that actually read my blog, in case it is necessary to persuade them, to join the world wide protest against Monsanto tomorrow (Saturday). In my head, I hear the critical voices of friends that wonder why I get wound up over this, and I can see my friends with children using their Saturday to finally clean up the house and getting their weekly groceries. I totally understand how busy they are, and ask myself: how can I explain the importance of this to them?

By explaining to them who or what Monsanto is?
(A huge multinational from the US that once started producing chemical weapons (like Agent Orange) and has been focussing on GMO products.)

By explaining why their work method is wrong on so many fronts?
(- Farmers have to buy their seeds on a yearly basis and whenever an individual farmer by accidents gets Monsanto's seeds on his field, he still has to pay them for property rights.
- Monsanto's genetically modified seeds can only grow when they are sprayed with Roundup, a pesticide that destroys everything and is very harmfull for people and nature.
- GM products were only used for feed for cattle and pigs - which then already led to deformed animals and many deseases, but is now also used for our own food, which brings along those symptoms to the human world.)

By talking about the power of multinationals and the European Union, who is not putting the needs of its people first?
(After years of lobbying by Monsanto and American diplomats, the EU has written a law which, apart from studies about GMO products and their effects on our health, prohibits the use of non-approved seeds in the European Union. This means many European seeds races will disappear and in time you will be violating the law when you trade some seeds with your neighbours.)

By explaining that it is really time for us to wake up, rise up and tell our governments that we, the poeple, have an opinion that should be heard, as a democracy implies?

Whenever I started writing, I lost the courage. Who am I to tackle this huge subject and give enough objective information, so my friends will stop their busy lives and fight for a greater cause? While reading and watching all the information I could find online, I realized I don't need to use my words: others have done it much better. (The quotes above come from the Dutch March Agains Monsanto Amsterdam Facebook Page.)

So hereby, I call for your attention! Take some time and surf the net. Read, watch films and try to educate yourself about the world we live in. If you still don't see any need for action, then don't do anything. But if you happen to feel discomfort, a feeling of disbelief, anger and the will to take action, then do something. Be like a hummingbird in a burning fire (see the second film).

And be inspired by Rachel Parent, who really believes in what she's doing!

Wake up!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


It was July 2002 and I was flying back to Europe heavy heartedly after having traveled for eight months. I was done with packing my stuff and carrying around my backpack, but I wasn't ready to leave the big wide world yet. That first trip had awoken the travel bug in myself, and I couldn't wait to discover other places. The world slowly passed underneath us, while I pressed my nose agains the airplane window, looking for new destinations.
We flew over mountains. Endless mountains, empty and dry, without any sign of forrest or water covering the brown dirt. I looked at the flight schedule to see where we were: Afghanistan.

Since that flight, that moment of astonishment about the vastness, and knowing that there are actually people living there, I want to see it myself. My discovery happened a few months after the US invaded the country in their search for Al Qaida, which has delayed my plans, and will do so in the near future.

In the meantime, Afghanistan and its people still fascinate me, and it is still with wonder that I watch reports and documentaries about them. At the moment, the Dutch broadcasting network VPRO has a series by journallist Natalie Righton, who moved to Kabul in 2010 to report from inside out. Though it is clear how dangerous it is to live there as a western woman, her story also feeds my desire.
One day. One day I will see it for myself.

Extreem leven

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Online friendship

Whenever I'm abroad, I realise how precious friendships really are. The absense of my friends makes my daily life a lot quieter, and boring. I realize how their presence always inspires and feeds me and how I enjoy having them around.
Nowadays, it's practically impossible to not stay in touch, thanks to social media and the internet, who make distance a relative concept. I have daily chats with friends on Facebook, I Skype at least once a week with friend A. and exchange long emails with M. about the Important Stuff in Life.

Over the last years I - and I am probably not the only one - have had many discussions about the online versus the wordly friendships. Being an advocate and consumer of social media, I love being able to learn about the lives of my online friends, even if I don't see them often in the offline world. I personally think social media don't devalue friendships, they mainly create the opportunity to maintain friendships that wouldn't exist otherwise. I know people who I rarely see in daily life, who I've met while traveling and who I consider to be dear friends of mine.

Like my friends Sam and Heinrich, who gave me a ride eleven years ago in New Zealand and who I've seen four times since, in different places on this earth. I don't know anything about their daily life, their favorite restaurants or how their house looks like. But I know who they are, what they do and where they live. I know they have a dog and two cats and that they love to travel, and thanks to Facebook I can see glimpses of their daily life. Whenever we meet again, it feels like we just saw each other yesterday. On one hand that is thanks to the social media and on the other hand, it's because they are great guys and our friendships apparently doesn't need weekly updates. Knowing that these gentlemen are living their life on the other side of the world and are also a part of my life, even though it might be small, is very dear to me.

The American Paul Miller was offline for the last year, but last week, he got reconnected to the online world again. He concludes some interesting things about the pros and cons of our online life.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Economic training

The economic crisis is Big Business, not just for banks and companies, but also for the movie business. In recent years, countless documentaries and films have tried either to clarify an aspect of the crisis or to give a dramatic interpretation of the impersonal stories we get to hear in our every day lives.

In my IDFA notebook, most pages are devoted to documentaries about the crisis. While watching other films, in the dark I will take notes about beautiful shots or ways to conduct an interview. In the case of the documentaries about the crisis though, I mainly get to scribbling down the vast amount of facts that are shown, hoping that afterwards I will be able to make sense out of them. Sometimes, I manage to write down a note about the cinematic aspects: 'beautiful graphics' or 'the interviewee looks out of the frame', but my notes mainly consist of lists of numbers and dates associated with catastrophic events. Another recurring thing are notes like 'I need to read more about this' and 'I have no idea what this is about anymore' (halfway in a film). 

Since I now have the time to write down my notes into my official IDFA booklet, I'm rediscovering my plans to learn more about the subject. I am planning to rewatch some of the movies I saw, like I.O.U.S.A. (2008!), Enron (2005), Four Horsemen (2011) and of course Academy Award winner Inside Job (2010). Next to that, I am going to read Joris Luyendijks blog for the Guardian and the writings of Ewald Engelen, a Dutch financial geographer. 

I'm hoping this all might lead to gaining a little more knowledge about the situation we are in. I am open to more suggestions, so bring it on!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Three weeks ago, my Facebook feed was filled with raving comments on the Backlight episode The Tax Free Tour, on tax havens, offshore economy and how known and unknown multinationals are able to multiply their profits. Everyone was outraged about the role The Netherlands appear to play in this, and praised the brave filmmakers and speakers in the film. A sudden realization, it seemed, about our favorite companies (Apple, Starbucks, Amazon) that, now they apparently use our country to evade paying taxes, turn out to be really bad.
Their other practises; the situation of their employees in other countries, their claim to deliver 'fair' products and the exorbitant amounts of money you pay for having their logo on whatever you get from them, haven't kept us from buying their products. But that is going to change now!

Before pointing a finger at others, let me first admit my own Apple addiction. I really love how their products look and how they work. I never visit Starbucks or use Amazon, but yes, I too am part of the problem of our times, in which we seldomly link actions to our anger.

Just a few days before the Backlight episode, I expressed my frustration and anger about the unfairness of this world to a friend, and he called me naive. There was no news in what I was saying, things have always been like this. And even if I were right and the world would perish one day because of our behaviour - as I suggested in my rant - would it be any different from other Great Empires, that long, long ago suffered the same fate? And, he added, I probably knew as little about the economical crisis as he did, and all those smart people who once got us in it, probably would also come up with solutions to get us out. So why get so upset?

His somewhat condescending remark about my naivety got me thinking. Is it really ridiculous to worry about big systems, because you don't exactly know what to do about them? Is it naive to hope that fixed patterns can be changed? The responses to The Tax Free Tour gave me new hope. The more information we have, the angrier we might get, and who knows, maybe there will come a time when we actually do link our anger to action and won't buy new Apple products anymore.

Untill then, I remain naive and I sincerely hope that my laptop won't break down any time soon, so I won't have to deal with a terrible dilemma.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Last week, me and my physiotherapist discussed the pain in my back that I've been feeling for a while which sometimes can be so intens that I don't know how to move my body, and at other times disappears for days or even weeks. She asked me if I had suffer some stress lately?

I tried to shrug in a nonchalant way; it hadn't been that bad. Sure, the last months I experienced some stress because I was about to become unemployed, by choice, in the midst of this economical crisis. And yes, before that, I had been stressed at work sometimes, but nothing extreme. Afterwards, I realised that my reaction might have been a little misplaced. The prospect of a new, unknown future causes more stress then I'd like, but is nothing compared to the stress I've had at work in recent years.

I don't say this to earn some pity. What actually really surprised me was that I never realized how much stress I often feel and have felt. Only when the stress at work led to frequent fights at home, I realized that perhaps, it might be time for change. Without having a clear plan of what I want to do with my life, looking at the future as it presents itself before me, my choice to quit regularly freaks me out. Whenever I explain my lack of plans to friends, family and acquaintances, I can see how the very idea of my present life freaks them out as well; "But, but, how are you.., and what will you.., and then what...?". Their reaction doesn't really help to lower my stress. So all in all, it's not really strange that I have this pain. Stress can have many physical effects, which I already knew for a long time (years ago, an extreme stressful situation led to a swollen lip and too much tension has also led to involuntarily throwing up).

But the possibilities that arise also give energy and lead to a thousand ideas for a possible new life. And that changes the stress into excitement and a positive energy, because of which I look forward to start all those new adventures.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


I just entered the train and am about to sit down. When I take of my coat to get ready for the ride home, I hear someone mumbling behind me. At first, I think the grimy voice is accompanying the middle-aged woman on the other side of the aisle. He asks her loudly if this train is going to The Hague. She hesitantly answers with a nod and then turns her back to him.
As the train slowly begin to move I listen, partly involuntarily, to his monologue:

"My mitts are freezing man.
When I get home, I have to take my medicine. I totally forgot to take them.
I went to buy a ticket. Costed me three euro. And now they don't check them. But I still had to pay three euro.
I borrowd a tenner from my daughter.
Freezing mitts daddy.
Is this the train to The Hague?
My mitts are freezing.

This and that and so and so.
Where are we? Delft. Oh, Delft. I lived in Delft for twenty-five years. Now I live in The Hague for eight. But I grew up in Delft. Does this train stop at Holland Spoor or at the other station?

Last week, I scammed a ride on the train, but it still costed me money. This is where my daughter lived. But now she lives in Zoetermeer.

My phone is at home. My phone is at home.
My phone. Is at home.
I have to call my daughter soon though. I have four children, and seven grandchildren.
And I love all seven of them.
I have to remember to take my medicine.

Where are we now? We're still not in The Hague, right? This looks familiar.
My mitts are still freezing."

The announcer calls for the next station: The Hague Holland Spoor.

"Ah, that's my stop. Holland Spoor. That's where I have to get out."

As he get's up and gathers his stuff, I carefully look behind me, to see who this voice belongs? He's in his late fifties, long grey hair, and has very bad breath.
As he walks to the train doors, he keeps talking. The other people around him look at each other and smile apologetically to their fellow passengers. although we listened to his monologue involuntary, we whisper to each other that it must be a hard life to live.
I just hope he feel's warm soon.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Time is a strange concept when you're traveling. At some point, you forget what day and date it is and feel detached from the rest of the world, that is defined by an ever continuing ticking clock.

On the other hand, time is the only thing that determines your trip. In the morning, there's check-out time. Then it takes time to travel to your next destination, and you normally take more time to actually get there, including breaks. Because when you're traveling, it's always time for a break: a coffee break, lunch break, toilet break. And of course, you want to arrive somewhere in time, so you have time for dinner and a nice evening. The next day, it starts all over again.

Then there's the time difference. Eleven years ago, I still had to calculate whether it was the right time to call home, now, receiving replies on emails arrive a lot later than they usually do (eleven years ago, email didn't function like a conversation like it does now, it was more like writing a letter, you didn't mind the wait).

And it has gotten worse. Thanks to wifi, you're online and available everywhere. The only problem in New Zealand is that the internet still comes from Australia and therefor is so expensive that you have to purchase time limited internet access.

So if, after a relaxed day that was actually determined by time, you want to get in touch with home, taking the time difference in account, you are also dependent on the 30, 60 or 120 minutes that you purchased for a lot of money. And then, the people at home have to be there and have to have time to talk, chat or reply your email.

It's not easy to be a world traveler.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Driving in foreign country is always an adventure. Last summer, I violently touched a deer, when I was driving through the States, which damaged the car in such a bad way that a poor guy had to drive up for four hours to replace it. The deer apparently survived, because it was nowhere to be seen.

On the other side of the world, where it is already an adventure to drive on the wrong - or right (though left) side, the roads are paved with small animals that are united with the tarmac in different heights. Besides the fact that they take many forms while dying - long and stretched or small and round, there are also an awful lot of different kinds: white butterflies, little round birds, stretched out mice, opossums or other rodents.
As a true vegetarian, I'm always afraid of these kinds of accidents, I prefer to refrain from any animal suffering whatsoever. However, the number of stupid birds that scarcely escaped the destructive effects of my tires is huge and sometimes the situation demands for the sacrifice of a bird instead of a human - that's obvious of course.

But every time there's a little pile of animal on the road and I drive along or over upright legs, tails or wings in an almost casual way, I wonder how 'mankind' got to be so superior? What makes us better than these animals, and why aren't we bothered by their deaths? We travel to the other side of the world because only there we can find pure nature, we try our best to take pictures without any proof of human action ("too bad of that lamppost", "hey, why didn't they put that fence just a little to the right?", "ugh, that stupid farm ruins my photo"), but we only shrug when we pass the hundreds of lives that once were. Of course, I realize that with all the misery in this world, roadkill in New Zealand will score low on the list - they still had a great life before they met my car. But still. But still. But still, I wonder every time again.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


You can only start all over when you leave the old behind.
By suddenly renaming something the Old, that for years had been the Present - my job, it feels like my life turned upside down. My job had determined who I was over the last few years. I committed my time, energy and love to a place, the people, the work. When I told strangers about my job, I also told them about me.
Of course, not everyone sees it that way. People have jobs that don't say a thing about what they like or find important in life. People who work at IKEA don't necessarily like to arrange or build things or love Scandinavia. But in my case, by leaving my job, I now don't belong there anymore, I'm not a part of a place that felt like home for such a long time.

There's no better way to separate the New from the Old than leaving. In this case by traveling to the other side of the world for a few weeks (which lead to envy from people at home who have to work and to pity from other travelers who are on the road for months).
The problem with traveling though, is that you are constantly determining your identity. The first things people ask when you meet them are: who are you and what do you do? I still have to get used to talk about my new occupation, and I always feel a little insecure when I tell them. But it is a relief to see that no-one questions me and everyone just accepts it when I tell them.

They already believe me. Now I have to start believing it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


People love rituals. We are creatures of habit, who like to know what is coming, so we can live our lives quietly and without any hassle. Everything that disrupts the ordinary has to be normalized as quickly as possible, because we want to feel safe.

When you want to start again, you need to change your rituals and habits. You have to break with existing patterns, to make place for new ones. Resigning your job means that work rituals will disappear: snoozing in the morning, getting a coffee when you arrive at the office, incoming emails that will determine your work, time ticking away too slow, but more often too fast so it's too late for lunch and almost time to go home, chats with your colleagues about life after work. A new job will replace some of the stress. because even though the coffee cups and your lunch buddies will look different, the snoozing and chats will probably still be a part of your life.

Without having a new job, without lunch buddies or coffee in the morning, your new life feels like a huge black hole of unknown depths. Sure, you can make yourself a coffee at home, you can have lunch with potential partners and force yourself to start snoozing early in the morning. But facing the unknown nature of your work, which only gradually will become clear, goes against all human behaviour.

It's frightening not to know what is going to happen over the coming months and eventually years.
I regularly feel like I'm jumping into a pool of icecold water, that takes my breath away. It's like that typical sauna feeling when every fiber in your body cries out: WHY? Why jump into this bath, when we were having such a great time in the eucalyptus scented heat? But you know, while the fibers in your body keep shouting at you, that although the heat was indeed lovely and safe, once you'll climb out that cold bath, those little screaming fibers will start purring like kittens because the next feeling will be so much better than if you hadn't jumped.
So whenever I am mentally catching my breath in the cold, I imagine the wonderful feeling that will come next, and I try to be confident that everything will turn out right. The lack of rituals can only mean that there are endless possibilities and anything that will happen might become a new ritual in time. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Once, I did this theatrecourse of a week, that was titled 'Again'. You had to repeat things, but each time like it was the first. So I jumped for half a day like I hadn't jumped before, and I had to sink to the ground and stand up again in slow motion for at least one and a half day. We were given a time frame (the duration of a song, five minutes starting now) and couldn't change our pace. It probably won't sound all that exciting, but I still have fond memories of that week. It was when I found out that there are numerous ways to do something that seems the same in a different way.

It feels like I'm starting over again. I'm not talking about the New Year and the twelve empty months that lie ahead and that I get to colour. Ten years ago, I graduated and got my first job. Slowly, I found my way: I found what I liked to do and what I didn't like so much. I had several temporary jobs untill I decided to err on the side of caution and take a 'real' job. And by a nice twist of fate, I got the job I knew would be mine when I applied for it.

Now, after working at this amazing place for six years, I choose the unsafe path and step into the unknown. I am going to try to do something I'm not so good at: to follow my heart. I am going to try to do the things I really want to do, but that actually scare me too much. And more and more, I am reminded of the course I did years ago and the fun I had finding new ways to go down and push myself up again. Whenever my daily panic attack hits me and I feel like jumping into a pool of icecold water, I try to focus on how I pushed myself up again. I guess it will be like that in real life too.

I will start again