Aan een klein meisje

My mother received a poem, written out on a typewriter, from an anonymous sender. She held onto it until her death. It must have been quite special to her. Having read it, I can understand why.

Aan een klein meisje

Dit is het land, waar grote mensen wonen.
Je hoeft er nog niet in: het is er boos.
Er zijn geen feeën meer, er zijn hormonen,
en altijd is er weer wat anders loos.

En in dit land zijn alle avonturen
hetzelfde, van een man en van een vrouw.
En achter elke muur zijn an’dre muren
en nooit een eenhoorn of een bietebauw.

En alle dingen hebben hier twee kanten
en alle teddyberen zijn hier dood.
En boze stukken staan in boze kranten
en dat doen boze mannen voor hun brood.

Een bos is hier alleen maar een boel bomen
en de soldaten zijn hier niet meer van tin.
Dit is het land waar grote mensen wonen…
Wees maar niet bang. Je hoeft er nog niet in.

Annie M.G. Schmidt

Paris, 2023

Last August, Joasia and I had a great trip to Paris. It had been a very long time since I had been there, and it had been even longer for Joasia. The city was fantastic, the people were wonderful, and the food was amazing. We went to D’Orsay, which is my favourite museum, did one wing of the Louvre, and made it out to Versailles. We dined in an old wagon of the Orient Express, were serenaded by opera singers, had a wonderful Reuben sandwich from a Jewish deli, saw cemeteries and the catacombs, and much more. I was sad about the Notre-Dame, which had been a highlight of previous trips, but the rest of the trip more than made up for it.

Joasia took a nice photo of me while we were having a drink at a cocktail bar on the first evening.

The Bear

One of the most worthwhile television shows of late has been The Bear, an incredibly intense and beautiful series that follows an ensemble cast of people who try to turn a simple, neighbourhood restaurant in Chicago into a world class establishment. Central to the story is Carmine “Carmy” Berzatto, a world renowned chef who, in the wake of his brother’s suicide, inherits the restaurant together with his sister. Carmine is a complex character, and his relationship with his brother was complex too. As the show progresses, it dives into the complexities of relationships, as well as the human experience, in a beautiful way.

Despite this beauty, the show tends to be quite raw. Carmy comes from a dysfunctional and self-destructive family who bring out the best and worst in each other. When I watch an episode, I do so with a mixture of fascination, revulsion and recognition. I know all of these people because I grew up around them. Each character on the show represents someone in my family. Each event has a parallel in mine. Each triumph, each celebration, and each failure and disappointment. Each barely controlled fear and anxiety which results in a fight or argument. I recognise them all.

There is a flashback episode in season two, which shows a Christmas celebration, which features a few characters that are not on the show in the main timeline. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Carmy’s mother, and Jon Bernthal plays Carmy’s older brother. They deserve all the accolades. I both hate and love these characters, as much as I hate and love who they represent(ed) in my own life.

What a beautiful show. A beautiful, beautiful, ugly show. I get emotional just thinking about it.

Steve Jobs on Consulting

I have never found Steve Jobs to be an inspiring or inspired person, but I just came across a quote of his that I agree with.

I don’t think there is anything inherently evil in consulting, but I think that without owning something over an extended period of time, […] where one has a chance to take responsibility for one’s recommendations, where one has to see one’s recommendations through all action stages and accumulate scar tissue for the mistakes, and pick oneself off the ground and dust oneself off, one learns a fraction of what one can. Coming in and making recommendations and not owning the results, and not owning the implementation, I think is a fraction of the value, and a fraction of the opportunity to learn and get better. You do get a broad cut at companies, but it’s very thing. […] You might get a very accurate picture, but it’s only two dimensional. Without the experience of actually doing it, you never get three dimensional.

Fifteen Years

Lieve mamma,

Het is vijftien jaar geleden dat ik je voor het laatst heb gezien. Ik ben blij om je te vertellen dat het nog steeds goed met me gaat. Jouw afscheid werd met de jaren makkelijker, maar daar lijkt nu echt een einde aan gekomen te zijn. Ik schreef al eerder dat ik eerst je miste omdat ik bang was, en dat ik je steeds meer begon te missen omdat ik je miste als ouder. Dat gevoel wordt alleen maar sterker.

Ik begin mezelf nu pas goed te leren kennen, en er zijn erg veel eigenschappen en trekjes die ik heb waar ik de herkomst niet goed van ken, of niet goed begrijp hoe ze zich over de jaren ontwikkeld hebben. Daar heb ik jou voor nodig, iemand die mij dat vergezicht kan bieden. Ik besef me, natuurlijk veel te laat, hoe belangrijk dat is. Ik wou dat ik meer tijd met je had kunnen spenderen.

Ik heb je nodig om mij te vertellen wie ik ben.