Category: Journal

No More Tea or No More Alcohol

I was having a discussion with Joasia about the benefits of tea. You see, I love tea, and I drink it pretty much every day. I don’t drink it much at home, but I drink it almost exclusively when I’m working. My favourite, easy access flavour of tea is Earl Grey, and I’m really not fond of the weaker, caffeine-free, herbal and green teas that are quite popular nowadays. No, I like black tea.

When confronted with the question on what I would choose; never have a drop of alcohol again, or never have a drop of tea again, I found myself choosing tea over alcohol. The day to day pleasure I get from drinking tea completely obliterates the occasional enjoyment of alcohol. Not to mention the health implications. Interestingly, Joasia chose the opposite, which was also a surprise. For her, tea is simply a vehicle for infusing her body with warmth.

To hit a cup of tea at just the right temperature is amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it for all the penicillins in the world. Having said that, I’m glad I won’t have to make that choice just yet.

Last Night’s Training

Last night’s training was not amazing. I believe I’ve been steadily progressing over the last couple of months and I’ve been feeling pretty good about it, but yesterday I got my arse kicked by pretty much everyone I rolled against. I think I’ve become a little bit predictable to my training partners. I like to play the deep half guard game, and it has left me vulnerable to a couple of things that I need to work at. I do especially poorly against people who play a very dynamic game, with a lot of movement.

I’ll be going on holiday for the coming few days, which will give me some time to think about this while I let my body heal a bit. Let’s see what I can come up with.

Weekend Trip to Warsaw

Last weekend, Jim and I joined Joasia in Warsaw. I have been there several times before, but I have never quite enjoyed it as much as I did this time. I’d like to give the presence of Jim all the credit, but I think it has more to do with the way the trip unfolded.

First of all, when I was supposed to depart on Friday evening, right after work, two passengers decided to check in their luggage but not show up in time for the flight. This meant that their luggage had to be taken out of the hold for safety reasons. By the time that had been done, we had lost our take-off slot and we had to wait. When our next slot came around there was a giant thunderstorm, and so we got pushed even further. Then it turned out that the cockpit crew would be working for more time than they are allowed, so a new cockpit crew had to be arranged. In the end I was about 2,5 hours delayed and only arrived in Warsaw at 00:30.

Jim had already arrived and had met Joasia at a cocktail bar called Woda Ognista (Firewater) and I joined them there. This place had been recommended by my homie Mounir, who had discovered all the places to go when he had gone to Warsaw for a bartending competition several months ago. I arrived just in time to order and we ended up pounding a bunch of drinks before the place closed. It made for a few and energetic arrival.

The hotel we were staying at was very centrally located and while a bit dime-a-dozen, it did the trick just fine. The next morning we got up early to take an Uber to Legionowo, where Joasia’s from, in order to have breakfast with Joasia’s mother. While there, we ate delicious food, had some delicious home-made, bathtub liquor, and also helped do some household chores that required some tall people.

After that we took an Uber to the Royal Castle, which is a place I had visited before, but was eager to show Jim. The second time around I had an awesome time looking at the place with my upcoming D&D campaign in the back of my mind. It was tonnes of fun to have that perspective. Also, for some reason I can’t quite explain, I had a better appreciation of a lot of the art and furniture in the castle.

Afterwards we went to have pierogi and shot of rabid dog and then were reinvigorated enough to walk around the old town center of Warsaw. Having played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, it’s easy to imagine the old town of Warsaw as the backdrop for a lot of Geralt’s adventures. Very cool, too.

At night, we had dinner at Under the Red Hog, a communist-inspired restaurant with a strong satirical bend to it. I made all the right choices; a delicious truffle-mushroom-cheese soup, with some wild boar sausages as a main, all accompanied by a bottle of beautiful Hess Zinfandel. After dinner we made our way to the Kita Koguta cocktail bar, which was very cool, but perhaps slightly too busy. There I learned the differences between triangles and circles when it came to choosing a bathroom, and how people at this particular bar seemed to disregard the triangle and circle rule that I had just learned. A few doors down was the Kiti Bar, which came highly recommended by Mounir, so we ended the night there.

The following day I woke up more refreshed than the previous day, despite having had more alcohol the night before. We made our way for breakfast at a Wedel eatery, which specialises in chocolate, which was cool, and we had a relaxed breakfast. Incidentally, we were sitting outside in a really nice part of Old Town, and watched people who were dressed to the nines go to church. We were also sitting opposite of a museum dedicated to Marie Curie, which was a beautiful little building, very well maintained and kind of perfect in a lot of ways that I have a hard time putting into words.

We decided to wander the city a little bit more and make our way to Łazienki Park, which I remember to be beautiful and quite from one of my previous trips. Unfortunately, on a Sunday where it’s beautiful weather it was jam-packed with people. There is a monument to F. Chopin in the middle of the park, which was, to our luck and surprise, holding an open air piano concert, which we ended up enjoying.

All in all it was a very fun and successful trip. I’m glad to have seen a side of Warsaw that didn’t suck, and I’m also glad that Jim and I had the opportunity to see another place other than Amsterdam or Chicago together.

Ten Years

Yesterday it was exactly ten years ago that my mother died. She died in a hospital in Imperia, Italy at 15:00. We went to the park where we spread her ashes, and remembered her by enjoying the warm weather, strong winds, each other’s company and all the excited dogs that were being walked in the park. Jody had made delicious sandwiches, I had brought ginger beer and vodka, and Robin had squeezed a bunch of limes, so we could make our own Moscow Mules. Ruurd and Moulsari were there as well. When the weather turned bad, we decided to have dinner at an Italian restaurant in Hoorn, ate food, had wine, drank limoncello until we were all drunk and happy. It was a good day.

(I think it’s really appropriate that yesterday was such a windy day. There was so much energy in the air. Wild is the Wind, after all.)

I realised that I haven’t been sad about her death for a long while now. Sure I’m sad, but not in a way that it momentarily stops my heart when I suddenly realise. Nowadays the first thought of the day after waking up is no longer the crushing realisation of her departure. She pushed me in the right direction and for a while the momentum was gone, but I feel like her death has now galvanised me and I have regained momentum in life. I can only hope that my brother and sister feel the same way.

Natural Charisma

It’s interesting when you meet someone with natural, undeniable charisma. Last week I was invited to a party at the house of one of Joasia’s acquaintances in Exeter.

The previous night I had gone a little overboard celebrating the release of our new software with my colleagues and afterwards had some food with Robin and Mounir at Rum Barrel. During our stay there, Sam joined us with a lady friend, and we got bombarded with different rum drinks. Needless to say, the following morning, when I flew to Exeter, I was feeling a little rough. I picked up some limoncello to bring to the party; to cure that which ails you, you need a hair of the dog that bit you, as they say.

Anyway, the acquaintance is a mathematician at the university of Exeter, and as a result there were a lot of really cool, smart people at the party. Number theorists, lecturers in logic and the like. Luckily, I wasn’t the dumbest person in the room for a change, since there were also a few civilians at the party, like myself.

One of them was a Scottish neighbour by the name of Keith, and from the moment he walked in, he and I were chatting. He was a bit older and confident, and impressively charming. He was a radio broadcaster and unsurprisingly had a way with words.

We shot the shit, and I couldn’t rightly tell you what it was that we chatted about, but the conversation and the limoncello went well together and helped me forget about my mild hangover. It’s unlikely I’ll ever meet Keith again, but he’ll go down as my single evening man crush of 2018.