Category: Journal

Mourning the Loss of a Number

When I moved to the UK I switched my Dutch mobile subscription to a prepaid number so that I could hold onto the number. I had that number since 2001, so I would want to keep it. One of the stipulations was that you’d have to use it at least once every six months or so. Unfortunately, I must have missed using it, and it got disconnected and assigned to a new subscription.

Goodbye, +31 653 212 414, you will be missed.

A Fun Day

My passport is expiring soon and I was offered two choices; for a renewal, I could either go to the embassy in London or return to the Netherlands and do it at the airport. A quick investigations of those two options showed that doing it in the Netherlands was about three times as expensive, but it would afford me the opportunity to go and see my family, which I had not done since early December. So I booked two tickets, one to fly round trip to Amsterdam on the same day so I could submit the application, and a second for a weekend the next week in which I could pick it up. Today I went to submit the application.

I got up super early in the morning, drove to the airport, flew over and had a pretty smooth time submitting the application. The only snag was that the passport photos which I had made in England were not in the right format (despite the photographer assuring me that it would be valid for Dutch passports.) The lady who helped me apply told me that my photo was rejected because of my “cage fighter ear”, which I thought was funny. Luckily I could get new ones made at the airport, which took five minutes, and are actually better photos, despite getting very little sleep.

I took the train into Amsterdam, met Moulsari, my brother, his new girlfriend Kataryna, my friend Mounir, and Ruurd and my sister for a big, steak lunch. Had a blast. Ruurd and my sister dropped me off at the airport. The airport was quiet. I breeze through security. Flew back to England and drove home. I’m pretty tired, but I’m feeling good about it. It was such a fun day.

Next week I fly back on Thursday evening, pick up my new passport on Friday and fly home on Sunday. I’ll have a bit more time, and if it’s half as fun as today was, then it’s worth the time and effort.

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 fee├źn 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.