The Q&A

Hello there, dear readers, today is our national holiday, so drink a Belgian beer or eat some french fries to celebrate that Belgium exists, okay? There is nothing special today, shops are closed etc, and I must admit there was more of a Belgian spirit when we were in Brazil.

But okay. The real subject of this post will be the questions Zaychishka gave me. She nominated me for the Liebster Award. If I remember it right, I got one (or a few) already, and sometimes I forget or ignore them, but her questions were interesting. I’m not giving any  more random facts, because there are barely random facts left about me, and I’m not nominating anyone because most of you know each other very well. It’s purely the questions that I’ll answer.

Zaychishka is a blog on Russian and Ukrainian fashion. (Since I’m mentioning Ukraine now, I want to take a second of virtual silence for the victims of the plane that has crashed there. A very, very tragic situation. I’m incredibly sorry for what happened there and wish there was a way to console all the people who have lost someone.) Her blog is very inspirational, interesting, and of course very relevant for me!

Now, she’s given me some nice things to think about. Here we go:

1. What subject did you least like the most in school? (it could be from elementary, high school, college/university etc)

Hmmm, probably our religion class in high school, that wasn’t much about religion at all, or the philosophy class at university. Philosophy can be very interesting, but the way the professor approached it seemed to utterly bullshitty to me. I skipped at least half of the classes. No regrets.

2. If you could be any animal what would you be?

A cat, clearly. A cat that gets spoiled, like ours.

3,Which ancient culture fascinates you the most?

Hard one! Ancient culture are always nice to read more about. I’ve been studying Latin in high school, so I know quite some things about their culture. I would love to know more about the ancient Egyptian culture. And the Celtic mythology is something I never fail to like as well!

4. If you could talk to anyone in the world, who would be the person you would want to have a sit down conversation with? (dead or alive)

This question is too hard. Though there is this dancer in the Mariinsky theatre who has such a strong and almost royal attitude. I’d love to find out where she got it from.

5. Have you ever been mistaken for a celebrity?

Never!

6.  How did you build up the courage to put your words out their- with your blog, for all to see? (or did you even need any courage at all?)

I need less courage to blog than to talk about certain things, just because I don’t have to face you every day. Though I mind my words sometimes, since this is still the Internet. I’ve never got a bad remark or insults, so I feel like I can say about everything here. And that’s a very good feeling!

7.Where are you from? Which country?

Well, unless you skipped the first part, I think that’s pretty clear!

Not the classiest thing to eat... But still very good and very Belgian. Source

Not the classiest thing to eat… But still very good and very Belgian.
Source

8. What is a funny misconception about the country you are from? (Or stereotype).

That we all speak French. In fact there are three official languages here: French, Dutch and German. The German part is very small, but the other two are almost equally as big. I live in the Dutch speaking part.

9. What is something that you do that you consider relaxing?

Reading, and dancing in a way too. Especially when you’ve finished a class or something, and you’re tired in a good way, and you can sit down then…

10. What inspires you to blog? (this is a very good & timeless question)

The overload of things I want to share. I need to get it out, or it gets stuck in my head. I need space there, so I need to get the words and movies and songs out every now and then.

11. What would be an ideal dinner & dessert? Any scenario would work, let your thoughts run wild.

I would like a walking dinner, so I can try everything. And some vegetarian lasagna with olives and a glass of wine… And of course I never say no to french fries with beer. Maybe not very lady-like, but too good to refuse. Seriously. And afterwards, some sweet melon, or tiramisu, or how is it called… You know, it’s a chocolate dessert, hard on the outside, but still fluid on the inside. That is good. That is very good.

That was that for now! Feel free to be inspired by this and answer the questions as well, and go say hello to Zaychishka :)

So I bought a new phone

It’s a smartphone, and it took me about half an hour to feel the first regret coming up. I managed to add a  startscreen and I can’t throw it away now. To add to the pleasure I can’t even find a proper manual. There is one in Polish, but honestly, my ‘mobile phone Polish’ isn’t that good. Yet. So now I’m sitting here, wondering if I’m too old or too old-fashioned, and if this phone and I will find a way to get along.

It’s no surprise that it took me such a long time to get a smartphone. I’m stubborn and I told myself and everyone else that I would not give in to this hype! And the sight of all those finger prints on the screen is terrible! (It is. IT IS. After 1 hour I can already say that it drives me nuts.) But the coming year I’m going abroad and somehow my parents and I belieeve that there will be a day when I get stuck in an airport, and then it’s nice if you can surf the Internet. Plus: this thing has a functioning alarm clock, which my now old phone didn’t have. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Since I can’t take my very good not phone alarm clock with me abroad, I needed a device that had an alarm clock.

Am I better off now? Hard to say. It took me many years to finally become friend with the Internet, and I have the feeling that this new phone will need some time as well. Unlike all the other people, this is just not my thing. I don’t know how they do it, but they seem to know what to do immediately. And I sit here and watch the black screen and try to see through its secrets.

I think I’ll just send carrier pigeons again.

 

Edit: Thank god there is the YouTube! Now that’s what I call a friend. I removed my home screen. Well, the one I accidentally added. Okay, at least that’s one thing I’ve overcome!

That Night With the Teddy Bear

When I went to university, I had high hopes that my life would become less boring and that I would have some interesting stories to tell later on. And well, that came true. I’ve lived through longs days and long nights, and I have been in situations where I would suddenly think ‘how on earth did I end up here?’. It’s safe to say that university did more than just teaching me Russian and Polish.

And since some stories are too good not to tell, I will now dig into my memories to tell you one of my favourite stories. It’s one of my favourites because it is absolutely random and funny. Stick with me, reader, if you want to know what the link between long nights and curious teddy bears is…

This story takes place during the second semester of my first year at university. That year I had a sweet nothing with a guy I will call X, because I find that an appropriate letter when you want to protect someone’s identity. We were definitely not a couple, not even fuck buddies. At most you could call us kiss buddies. And text buddies, because we texted a whole lot. Since we would only meet at night, this was our way of staying in touch.

X liked going out and drinking and did that a whole lot. He could, because he rarely attended his classes. I did attend all of my classes (okay, except for one, completely useless bullshit class), so I also used my nights for sleeping. So one night, it was a Monday in April, I went to sleep at midnight and slept for two hours. For some reason I woke up after those two. I heard my mobile phone freaking out since my inbox was full. My inbox is always full. I don’t know why I am the only one struggling with that, but okay. My phone was vibrating with a passion, and I was awake and annoyed by it, so I got out of bed and started deleting texts so the next ones could arrive safely.

Apparently, X had been sending a lot of messages, asking where I was and saying I had to come. I believe there were even sad smileys involved. I told him I was trying to sleep and that therefore I couldn’t come. He replied saying I had to come. I told him I was trying to sleep and that therefore I couldn’t come. But of course he didn’t listen. For some reason (I could guess what that reason was) he seemed to need my presence. At some point he suddenly said: I have a bear for you!

A bear? I thought. How can he have a bear for me?

I figured that it was a typo and replied that I liked beer, but not tonight. I was trying to sleep, you see. I needed my sleep so I could attend my class the following morning.

Not a beer, he replied, a bear.

A bear.

Do you have any idea how weird that sounds? When a guy tells you he has a bear for you, and it’s around 3 am, that sounds very, very weird. Especially because he wasn’t the romantic type and I didn’t suspect that he would have bought me a gift to deliver it at home at 3 am.
Time was passing, so yes, we were heading towards 3 am and I still wasn’t back asleep. And I didn’t know what to reply to that text saying he had a bear for me. So I said: Oh, now I understand.

I think he was too drunk to understand that I didn’t get the bear thing, or at least that I had understood him so wrong. So he said: I’m bringing it to you.

No, I said. I’m trying to sleep, I need my sleep, and if you come over now, I know I won’t be sleeping.

I must have said that a thousand times. He didn’t listen though. He said he would be quiet, but added that he was on his way.

So I sat there, 3 am, thinking oh no, oh no, oh no, he’s coming with his bear and I don’t want that, and I will not give in, not to him! At the same time I couldn’t believe that he was really heading towards me. Nevertheless I kept on trying to make clear that I didn’t want him here, that he shouldn’t come, and so on.

Time kept going. 3:30. Well, there goes my sleep.

Suddenly he texted: I’m at your door.

I lived in a house with five other students, and my room was on the first floor, right above the front door. I could have looked out of my window to see if he was really there. But somehow, I didn’t dare to do that. Somehow, I couldn’t believe he was really there. I don’t remember what I replied then. Maybe I still repeated that I needed my sleep. But he kept responding saying he was really there, and that it was cold.

About half an hour had passed after his text saying he was there. It was 4 am. I didn’t know what to think of it, until he said: Hurry up, it’s cold ;(.

So I put on the light, brushed my hair a little and said to myself that even if he wasn’t there, I didn’t have to tell him that I went to take a look. Then I went downstairs. Our front door is partially milk glass, and I could see a silhouette.

So he has really come.

I opened the door, and there he was.

With a teddy bear in his arms. An innocent teddy bear.

He only wore a T-shirt with short sleeves and shorts. In the middle of the night. No wonder he was cold. And he was carrying a quite big teddy bear who wore a red knit cap. I didn’t expect to see this, so the first thing I said, was: “Are you insane?”

Still I felt compassion and let him in, since it really was cold. And after all, you don’t get a teddy bear delivery every day, right? Then he told me the teddy bear came from a student bar. How romantic to get a stolen teddy bear as a present! He also told me that he even got lost on his way to me. Normally, that road would have taken about half an hour, which is already long when you’re wearing so little and it’s night. And then he even got lost. All just to get that criminally acquired teddy bear to me. I almost felt flattered.

It was quickly decided that he could stay, though I warned him to keep his hands off me for the reason I had been repeating so often already. Next to that I was determined to not give him what he wanted. But okay. It ended up with him sleeping so deep and me lying awake. Of course. But at least he listened to me when I said he should keep his hands off me.

The next morning I ‘woke up’ (though I didn’t manage to fall asleep for real), went to take a shower and ate some yoghurt, all while he was still asleep. Then he woke up as well. I gave the teddy bear back to him and told him he should return it to the student bar. What could I do with it? Nothing. And I didn’t want something stolen sitting in my room. He accepted it, but never returned it, as far as I know. We walked back to town together  until our roads parted. Right before I left for class and he would continue what he called his Walk Of Shame, he asked for a kiss. Coming to think of it, that must have been the only time we publicly kissed in daylight.

We never did any better than kiss buddies, but still: how many people can say they had a teddy bear delivered at 4 am?

Exactly.

The Wink

Some of you might still remember this very old post of me about the first and second time I saw the beautiful Son of the Neighbours. But if not, here’s a small recap: so I have this neighbour (well, if you ignore about four houses in between us) who is very pretty and who currently doesn’t even live here anymore. But his parents do and he used to live with them. How surprising. The first time we met was on a lazy Sunday and I didn’t look all too well, so I was embarrassed to say at least. Traumatized is more like it. Then the second time we met I came straight from a holiday, and again didn’t look good.

So I gave up on him.

Now today my parents and I left the house to buy luggage (have you ever thought of how much luggage you need when you go away for 4 months?). I have been working today, and I’m not allowed to wear jewelry or makeup to work. Since the shop we were going to is so close to us, I didn’t put on some masacara or earrings. Then we left our house…

… And there he went, straight past us. And he winked. He winked. He winked at me! That might have had something to do with the half eaten apple he had in his mouth (one trip should be enough to carry luggage and an apple, right?). It was a good wink, not a creepy one. Of course.

I did my best not to melt, not to faint, not to run after him screaming MARRY ME! HAVE MY BABIES! Though it has to be said that this boy has an incredible disturbing timing. Why does he never show up when I look good? I take care of my looks so very often, and he only sees me when I look tired and boring? Oh well, our love is doomed since he lives elsewhere and is older.

But something about this is too funny to not tell everyone :)

I just killed Eva Braun

It’s been a sunny, warm Monday in July, holiday, summer, and I have witnessed the Third Reich fall. I killed Hitler. I killed Eva Braun. I dropped bombs on the others. They fell from my hand, slipped through my fingers.

You see, exaggerating is also an art. Of course I killed no one, especially no people that have been dead for ages now. But I was reading a book about Eva Braun’s niece, and when I put it away, it felt like I had a choice. Will I let her live? Or will I let her die? I didn’t have to continue reading, I didn’t have to kill these people.

On the other hand I knew that the end is always inevitable. They would have to die anyway… So I read on. And watched it all happen. And felt a very weird kind of guilt.

You see, it kind of feels that I’m the one who does all this because I am reading on. I felt that quite clearly when I was reading Bring up the bodies, a book about Thomas Cromwell. I knew we were reaching the point were Anne Boleyn has to be executed. When I put the book down to do something else (which was hard, sometimes, though I knew what was about to happen), I suddenly felt the guilt creeping upon me.

You are killing here. But you have a choice. Will you let her live?

No… No, I want to read on.

But you will kill her. And there will be no turning back.

But… But…

No. You have to choose. Choose wisely.

Needless to say, I kept reading. Because ignoring the end doesn’t make it any different. The last page was waiting for me and the scaffold was waiting for her. I could only apologize to her, inside my imagination.

Is there some kind of word to describe this? The feeling you are killing the people who die in your book? And do you feel the same way?

First timers

I drove a car alone for the first time.

I slept at home (big home) alone for the first time.

I took a tram for the first time.

I have had a year at university without having to retake an exam for the first time. (It’s been my second year and last year I had to retake only one, but still.)

This feels like growing up!

To tear a kingdom apart

Today I read Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. This book tells Cromwell’s side of the downfall of Anne Boleyn. Together with him we live the day that lead to her execution.

Not that I’m obsessed.

I’m just curious… Anne Boleyn tore a kingdom apart, she managed to get a queen out forever, to cut the bond between England and Rome, and to be the first queen who was ever executed. That’s quite much for a young woman. Seven years she has been working her way to the top. With her French past (she was a maid of honour there) and her pleasant character she was said to be ‘exotic’, though apparently she also had a bad temper. When she came at court to serve the queen, she quickly got some admirers since she was seen as the most stylish and accomplished woman there. Then she caught the king’s attention, and there we go. For seven years she seems to have refused to become his mistress, she resisted his seduce attempts. That may have been what kept him going for her… I guess she was one of the few women to do that.

Eventually, Anne became a queen, but that success only lasted for three years. May the 19th, 1536 – Anne’s been beheaded. It was probably the lack of male heir she promised to give the king which opened up the path to downfall. We’ll never know for sure what happened and how it happened.

Anne Boleyn - image via Wikipedia

Anne Boleyn – image via Wikipedia

I find it so interesting to read about her. How did she do that? How could she become so important? That’s so intruiging. Some people just seem to have A Thing that makes them irresistible. Much like Cleopatra, who managed to seduce the two most important men of Rome at the time. Accounts say that she wasn’t pretty… But still she was so powerful and attractive.

I guess it’s not so much about looks, but more about a strong desire for power and the ability to charm people. I suspect that such abilites are something you are either born with or not. Of course you can learn how to do small talk, but to be able to get everyone at your feet, that must be something inside you that’s always been there. I think.

To me this is very intruiging. I know I’m not like the two women I mentioned here, but it can no harm to learn from them! (Though they both didn’t die a natural death.)

By the way, in the clips I have found on YouTube from the movie The Other Boleyn Girl, Anne is almost always crying. I cannot imagine a woman who has been fighting for seven years to be queen weeping all the time. While The Tudors Anne had stronger nerves and more dignity. I believe that that is way closer to the truth. You cannot get where she got when you’re emotionally so vulnerable.

Things I Learned When Going To University

Yesterday I hopefully had my last Bachelor exam in Belgium. Our system here works like this: three years of Bachelor, and then one or two years Master. Since I want to go studying abroad next year, I would do my third Bach year there.
It feels good of course to have finished all my finals. I’ve been working so hard since February to come to this point: no more exams! No more work for school! Freedom! Now I sit in my garden, typing this post, and I can, because there is nothing more I really have to do.

Yesterday we also emptied my room. Belgium is small enough for everyone to go home during the weekends, so so far I have lived in two places the whole time. From Monday to Friday I lived close to my university, and the weekends I spent at home. It is incredible though what you can put in a room so small… Students all live in small places, I had the luck of finding a big one, but I filled it for sure! I made it my mission to get as much stuff in boxes and bags before my dad would pick me up. I spent almost two hours cleaning my room… I didn’t realize how much I had there, and how much should have been thrown away ages ago. I found information about how the university works again… Only two years ago I started something so new and exciting, and there was still proof in my room. Proof of the time when I still needed maps and information. Next to that I found pages filled with words and their translation, words which I now often use.

Has university been what I expected? For the biggest part, yes. It meant freedom, it meant going out as long as you want, it meant exciting nights, booze and guys. This came at a moment when I really needed such a thing. I’ve told you more than once how I had enough of the rules at high school, and I found my life boring back then. That definitely changed when I started going out at university… It didn’t turn out that well all the time, but it gave me stories to tell. I like to have stories to tell. I’m still convinced that going to university came at the exact good moment and is the best thing I could be doing now.

Next to all the knowledge I gained in my classes, I did also learn a lot of other things. So, here’s a little list of Things I Learned When Going To University:

* Freedom! Freedom! I like freedom! And I don’t abuse it!
* Having an opinion of exactly one page.
* Cooking is way more about heating things up than about following the rules so the food won’t kill you. (Luckily I don’t eat chicken though.)
* Every day can be a good day to go for a drink.
* Guys can be assholes and/or cowards.
* I take the wrong decisions, but in the end I always make a good, important decision and all is well.
* When it’s fun, you should stay.
* Not everyone likes hygiene like I do. Unfortunately.
* Though water can sometimes be enough to clean things…
* You can always do more than you think – like reading ten giant books in 13 weeks.
* However hard you try to avoid it, bullshit will always be somewhere.
* But at university it’s less than in high school.
* I like water. Like, a lot. In high school we couldn’t drink during the classes. Then I went to university and now I carry a bottle of 1,5l with me almost all the time.
* I need food the entire time.Preferably every 30 minutes. Or else my stomach can revolt…
* Whatever I do, I need my breaks and relaxing. I can never keep on studying from 8 am until 11 pm without some distraction. I accept that.
* Mornings are just not my time. I mostly wake up for real in the evening, and then I feel like my day can finally start… I also accept this.
* Dancing and writing are real passions, like things I need, physically, mentally. I need to dance, I need to write. It keeps me sane and happy. It’s not just a hobby in some way…
* Make sure you always have some food at home.
* Food expires fast.
* I like freedom. I like the freedom to say that twice ;)

Now I feel like a new exciting part is coming up. I’m looking forward to going abroad. It’s terrifying and it freaks me out, but that’s exactly why I want to do it. Moving all my stuff out of that room felt calming in a way. Finally clean. And ready for a new episode. These two years have been fun, I cherish the memories, but I’m not longing to it. There will be something else.

And that feels awesome.

On exams

I’m in the middle of my exams and right now there’s a discussion going in my sweet little country on this very topic. There are people who want to get rid of exams in high school.They say it is better if there is a constant evaluation throughout the year.

It certainly makes for an interesting discussion. Currently I’m studying for my university exams, which are different from the high school ones, of course. We get a few days (or at least one…) to study for every final. In the first years of high school, we had three exam periods. You could have either one or two subjects each day. The last two years we only had two exam periods. You could still have one or two subjects on one day. Let me tell you though that two on one day is pretty hard.

Fast forward to university: the amounts are huge, the stakes are higher. Failing an exam means you have to retake during the summer. The pressure is on, while in high school, you were so very likely to succeed.

I do think that these kind of exams need practice. If you’ve never had exams in high school, it will be a big shock to suddenly have to get through such a giant amount of knowledge. Suddenly you have to sit in front of a professor and answer questions and it’s goddamn important. This needs some habituation, some practice in order to build up the stamina for it. Exams are tiring and demand a lot of you. But I’ve been working on this stamina since I was 12. If you take that away from people, they are probably more likely to fail in college. At least, that is what I think.

Now, speaking of exams, I’ve got almost only oral exams nowadays. That’s a challenge, because there is a big difference in failing on paper or failing in front of a professor. But on the other hand I like to dress up for it. Suddenly you see guys in suits walking on the streets. That is nice! I too dress differently, because I see it as an important thing to look better than usually. Somewhat more chique. I wear heels and necklaces and try to pick clothes that you don’t wear everyday just like that.

I would not take the risk!

I would not take the risk!

There is a girl in my class though who is a very good student, but she comes to oral exams in shorts. Of course, since we are with about 20 people in our class, the teachers know us quite well. Still I don’t quite understand how she could dress so… regular and summer-like. It was a very warm day, yes, but to come to an exam in shorts? Dressing up in a chique way is also a way to show respect I believe. And a way to show you know how to dress according to the situation. My dad once told me that on an important meeting at work, the men in suits would get a handshake, while they may have been less important than some others.

The way you dress can make people look differently at you. In some way we all respect men in suits just a little more than a guy in a regular sweater. This impression you make can be important. If you go to an interview, you want to make sure that you look like someone who is capable of doing the job. Well, I guess it’s quite the same when doing exams. I want to show that I am aware of the importance of the exam, as well as the fact that I’m very capable of doing it well.

This is sometimes a lie.

But you get the point. When I look decently, the professor might just have a subconscious respect for me and my knowledge and it might just show a little in my grades…

What do you think, should exams be banned in high school? And is picking the right clothes important for exams, interviews and so on?

I’m being repressed!

A few days ago I dreamt that I had to go to a class in primary school again, with people from my current university class. As the time there passed by, I got more and more frustrated by the thousand rules there were, even for the most simple things. The teacher went insane because we did things like we do them in university, and I got insane because she tried to control us.

I’ve had a similar dream before, about going back to high school. In that dream I just had the strong feeling that I couldn’t do that anymore. And I’m convinced that that is true. You see, I’ve got a bit of a problem with authority. I overreact to it. There are thousand little rules for everything, and many of them seem completely useless to me. Of course you need rules to keep a world going. Obeying the ones like ‘stop for a red light’ make sense though and therefore they are not hard to cope with. But having to have all your tests signed by your parents, even the smallest ones, is something I can’t get my head around. We had to do this in high school, yes. Back then I didn’t question it. But by the age of 16, something in me started to loathe the system in which we had to nod at what the teachers said. In which we found ourselves surrounded by fences so we couldn’t get out. In which we had classes that were close to ridiculous.

Of course there were reasons for all of this. But that doesn’t mean that I accepted it. As ever I didn’t dare to go full rebel, as the teachers are still the people who have to give you (good!) grades. My rebellion was sighing, shaking my head, looking angry and dressing inappropriately for a catholic school.

I enjoyed that.

At university we have so much more freedom. You can run in late and it’s okay. You don’t even have to attend all classes, though I do. It’s still dangerous to openly disagree with a professor, but there seems to be less abuse of power. Which there kind of was in high school. Some teachers for sure enjoyed their power too much. I remember one time a kid in our class was somewhat ill and coughing all the time. He had a bottle with water and some kind of medicaments. But oh the drama, you cannot drink inside a building, so the teacher said (barked, like we would say in Dutch) that he couldn’t drink.
We spent a long hour with a coughing kid. It was annoying as hell, but of course it was not his fault.

That, in my eyes, is just abuse of power.

In theory we aren’t allowed to drink or eat inside the university buildings, but it’s never a problem. Honestly, I barely survive a two-hour class without water and food. I guess I moved to university right in time! And I surely could never go back to a system that lets someone cough his lungs out while he has a fucking bottle of water with him. Rules are not my thing. Especially unnecessary ones annoy me to death. So I’m happy to be in a place where you can kind of do what you want! And in case you wonder, I did stop being the light rebel who dresses inappropriately. I guess it was just really an effect of the bullshit we had to live by.

To end this on a bright note, here is a sublime video. Repression has never been so funny!

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