Bad, worse, worst

Light in the darkness has come – finally. I received an answer from Russia quite soon, telling me I needed to fill in a form. Suddenly everything seemed so easy. Just fill in the form and send it to them. Then they finally can start making your invitation. There was one document I still needed, but after calling our coordinator at half past ten in the evening, he sent it to us.

This sounds like a solution, doesn’t it? I agree.

So this morning all I had to do was fill in the form some more and send it. Before doing that I was heading to the shop in our street to buy some bread. I ran into our neighbour, more specifically the mother of my good-looking ex-neighbour (her son – the one who winked at me!). By accident I had decided to wear my new, loose pants. For a change I felt quite fashionable while running into her! She immediately asked when I would leave for Russia.

And for the first time, I could give an answer I am quite certain of. That’s such a win – looking good and being able to give positive answers to questions about my trip to Russia!

When I came home, I send the stuff they need over there and now I have some sense of certainity. I’m no longer waiting without knowing who’s doing what, if they’re doing anything anyway. I have taken control for a part. I have sent mails until I figured out what was going wrong and now I’ve managed to get it straight.

The bad thing is that I will miss a month over there. It makes this adventure somewhat more terrifying. But after all my efforts and all the waiting, I didn’t want to give in. The worse option was going to Poland or year – honestly, though, I don’t really want that. The worst option would be staying. I must confess that while going through all the stress and doubts, this option didn’t seem so terrifying anymore. It’s so easy to just re-enroll yourself in the same university as the former two years. It takes perhaps two mouse clicks and it would be okay. On the other hand, I know I would hate to stay when almost my entire class is abroad, and two of my hometown friends.

I have made the decision to take the risk and arrive in Russia with delay. It’s bad, but at this point I can live with it. At least I’m going away. And at least I have done what I could to get this done after all. It’s a victory still!

Update: the not really news

My mind is occupied by Russia, Poland and visa right now. It has been the entire holiday already… ANd now we’ve got some more news. Well, “news”. To be honest, it’s not even really news. It’s guessing.

You know, the 7th of August I send an e-mail to the university in Russia I want to go to in two weeks. They answered saying they didn’t have information about us.
The 11th of August, the day our coordinator returned, I called him and explained the situation. He said he thought everything was okay and said he’d take care of it.
A few days later, I called him to ask how things were going. There was still no news.
Yesterday, the friend who would go to the same university went to see our coordinator. He said that he still hadn’t got an answer from Russia. Apparently, making the invitation we need in order to get the visa, takes a month. So we won’t be going to Russia until half September. And that’s the optimistic take. It’s more likely that we miss at least an entire month.

Needless to say I wasn’t happy to hear this. It isn’t even real news. It’s half news. It’s guessing. Now the questions rise as well. Is missing a month very bad? Can I still go to Poland for a year? Does the university in Russia really know we are coming now?

Today I sent a mail to Russia asking if they were really making our invitations, and one to our coordinator, asking if going to Poland for a year is still an option. And now I’m waiting again. At least I am sending mails around. I do what I can to get answers and to arrange this all. No one can ever say I didn’t try. I have sent mails to Russia in Russian, I have called our coordinator as soon as he returned, three times that day, until he answered the phone. I called him again though he had said he would e-mail us if he got more news. I have sent two more e-mails today.

And now we’ll wait again. At least I have done something again. It takes away a little part of the powerless feeling I got.

I WANT TO GO TO RUSSIA. How hard can it be?

 

Just to clarify: I also really want to go to Poland, but since I just have to send some documents for that, the desire is calm and peaceful. But since going to Russia is so hard, I want it more and more.

The Punishment

They gave me a ridiculously long, shapeless black dress to wear, which made me trip all the way to the court. Two guards held me firmly by the arms, and suddenly I was glad about that. At least I wouldn’t drop on the floor.
The court was a high, dark building. Some daylight fought its way inside, but there was only big window, placed directly above the main jury. I figured it was done like that to create a dramatic atmosphere. Not very original, I thought. But I see through it. The thought somehow consoled me a little bit.

The judge was an old, partially bald man with a sharp nose and cold eyes. He wore a black dress as well it seemed, or something that resembled it at least. How does one get a job like this? He’s probably frustrated because he had always been too shy to talk to women, I decided. I imagined him in a bar, unable to find the right words to talk to that pretty brunette with the cute smile. Seemingly humble I bowed my head, but inside I was grinning.

“Nina?” he suddenly said. The room got quiet. All men in black were staring at me. I looked up.

Bring it on.

“Yes”, I said. The judge looked at me with angry eyes. Was I not supposed to speak? Then someone should have told me.

“We have come here to look at your punishment and to decide upon new ones, or, in the best case, the abolition of it.”

I nodded, but at the same time thought: Punishment? What punishment?

“Are you sorry?”

That was unexpected.

“What for?”

The judge took a deep, disapproving breath.

“Apparently you are not sorry.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

“You’re only regret is that you don’t understand?” He smiled bitterly, then continued talking to the men in black surrounding me. “I don’t think it’s time to stop the punishment.”

Some men mumbled in agreement. It was too dark to see their faces and that annoyed me.

“Let’s see what that punishment included so far. We noticed that you wanted to be loved, so we sent some boys you trusted your way. We let them use you and make you feel that you’re not good enough.”

Oh, that seems to have worked.

“But apparently that wasn’t enough. So as soon as we saw you wanted to go to Russia, we delayed everything. In short, your punishment is broken hope.”

I bowed my head again.

“As you still seem to refuse to show remorse, we might need to refuse to let you go to Russia.”

Don’t cry.

“On what grounds then?” I tried again. The evil judge gave me a death stare. The light grew weaker and I barely saw anything anymore. I looked at my hands clawing in my black dress.

“I think we haven’t made our point clear yet”, the judge said. Some more muttering in the court. Heads nodding. I sighed. How was it possible that I was being punished without knowing why? Apparently they wanted me to figure that out by myself, but I couldn’t find a single thing I had intentionally done wrong. Of course I wasn’t a saint, but who is? And yet it didn’t matter. The punishment would go on.

“Unless now you show remorse. We grant you one more chance.”

I didn’t even try to say anything anymore.

“Get her out.”

The guards took me by my arms again. I lifted my dress, turned around and started walking away. Daylight was still forcing its way in. It appeared to be a sunny day. Right before the guards would let go of my arms, I turned to them.

“Do you have any wine for me?”

Waiting

Waiting.

Waiting for my grades.
Waiting for the list of destinations we can go to.
Waiting for the confirmation that we’ve been accepted.
Waiting for my grades.
Waiting for the invitation.
Waiting for the visa.

Everything I did this year was to make sure I could go studying abroad the coming year. I worked very hard, because good grades are required. I have done what I could to make sure everything would turn out fine. To make sure that I could leave at the end of August.

The end of August is getting pretty close, and I still have nothing, no invitation, no visa, no confirmation of the host family. With every passing day I start to think more and more that I’m not going anywhere. Normally I’ve got at least four months Poland that’s safe, but the first semester is still one big black hole. And that scares me. There are only three people who want to stay, two of which are Polish. So if I have to stay, I’ll have classes with just two people sometimes. Isn’t that the most terrifying tought? For me it is.

I have been doing everything I could to make this work. I even send an e-mail to the university in Russia, to which they responded that they don’t have any information about us. And as long as they don’t send the invitation, we can’t get a visa and we can’t go.

That’s what we’re heading at. We can’t go. Though I have done what I could. Though everyone else is going. Though my entire life has been constructed to leave.

I’m afraid.

A Matter of Pride

For some reason there seem to be two approaches to the word ‘pride’. You can be a) proud because you did something well or b) proud and arrogant, because you think yourself better than others. When searching for appropriate quotes, I found among others this one:

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Apparently, pride is a bad thing. Being pride means being stuck-up. But why? There is also the good part about pride after all. You are very right to be pride when you get your diploma for example. Why is this word such an ambiguous one?

You see, there is also this quote:

“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Well, this still doesn’t point out whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it sounds a lot better. Maybe we can be proud and find God at the same time. Yay!

For me, pride means that I get out of bed, dress up and straighten my back. It means not thinking myself less than others. And the strangest thing about it, is that it only grows stronger. After having been hurt so badly by That Guy, my trust was broken, my self-esteem was dented, but my pride appeared and took over. I have never had a straighter back and a more royal way of walking than in that twilight zone, when I was hurt and didn’t know why. It killed something on the inside, but the hole that was left, got filled up with big fat pride. It even surprised me how strong that one was. You would think that a sad self-esteem level would lead to a general tendency to think you’re not good, right?

That didn’t happen. I was sad, but I wouldn’t want it to show. Maybe this pride boost had a lot to do with my  desire for revenge. When That Guy and I would run into each other, he shouldn’t see a sad, broken girl. He should see a strong, proud young woman. Both of these lived in me, but I wanted to show only the strong side. The side that wouldn’t let anyone mess with her. How can you be strong if you’re not proud of what you are and what you do? At least for a part?

During July I worked in a kitchen as a holiday job. I was very happy to have a job, despite the fact that in theory I couldn’t wear makeup and jewelry and I had to wear a shapeless white shirt and such a hygiene cap. Not very sexy. Taking away the ‘dress up, makeup, jewelry’ part feels like taking away a part of my personality. So I had to make up for that by having a good attitude. A straight back, a kind smile, elegant walk (although I had to wear shoes that looked like clogs). It was a good training in maintaining a proud attitude despite the lack of scenery such as earrings.

Pride is not a bad thing. For me it means strength, not letting people hurt you. It means not immediately assuming you are not as good as others. It means revenge, because it’s the thing you will not let them break.

So can we all please stop stating pride is something to run away from?

“Pride is holding your head up when everyone around you has theirs bowed. Courage is what makes you do it.”
Bryce Courtenay

The Thing and I

The Thing I’m speaking off is the smartphone I purchased a little while ago. You may rememer that we had a difficult start… And that was the top of the iceberg! Two or three days after I got that Thing I discovered that I had paid a whole lot for just using our own Wifi. Apparently though, when your own Wifi signal isn’t strong enough, the phone changes to another signal and then you can start paying.
Thanks for telling me that when I bought the Thing.

Then, a few days after this had been solved, something else came up. Of course. I wanted to typ a text message, but the keyboard wouldn’t show up for longer than a second. I managed to typ the message, but it looked like a drunk text. You can imagine how happy I was. Putting it off and on didn’t work, but removing the battery and sim card for some reason solved it.

Now everything seems to be normal. *knocks on wood*

Even better, I start to enjoy the possibilities this Thing offers me. Yesterday I couldn’t remember where the Olympics were in 2012. Then there was the Internets on the Phone and I quickly found out again. Also, I downloaded an App that recognizes music. Isn’t it brilliant that such a thing exists? I fall in love with a song every now and then, but it can be very sad when you don’t know the song. When I like a piece of music, I want to listen to it over and over again, or at least have the possibility to find it again. I do have a great memory for music, so the pieces I want to find are already somehwere in my mind. That’s not enough though. I want to know their names. There were some pieces I really liked but never knew what they were. These pieces were used at the performances of our dance school. I still recognise all the music that’s ever been used in a performance, because we’ve heard them so often, and I have the dvd’s. Now, after eight years, I finally tracked the music down.

I found it!

I’m so happy. This music has the memories of the performances attached to it, but next to that it triggers my entire body to dance to it. Some music has that, a way of making everything in me wanting to move. And now I know where to find it. Wonderful. I will share one piece with you already now, and the other might follow another day!

For those interested, the App I used is Shazam.

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 :)

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