That’s Too Bag

As a woman, I don’t understand how men survive without bags. This might have something to do with the size of ladies’ wallets and pockets. I have a giant wallet and yet that is not because of all the money in it (unfortunately). Next to that I know own a smart phone – almost the smallest you can find, but still too big for the pockets in my jeans and other trousers.

Long story short: I carry bags with me wherever I go. And I’m okay with that. It means I can carry tissues with me, and lip balm, and sun glasses, when the sun shines. A bottle of water, some food, a book. A vest. You know – stuff. Wherever I go, I need stuff. And hence, a bag.

I like bags though. I like seeing beautiful bags in a shop, or hanging from my arm. Not that I own many, because a good bag is expensive, but still. I have one little black bag which my mother had bought when she was my age more or less. I’m still using it often – so very useful. Next to that I have a few other bags, but truth be told: they suffer. They suffer because I use them to stuff things in. The bag I used to take with me to class (and to cafes) has died. So recently I bought another bag to sill have one for school.

Say hello to my new love, the Cowboy Bag. It’s pretty giant, but that’s okay, since I will use it as hand luggage on planes too. You can stuff it, it all fits. It’s my new partner in crime when I go out for the day too. When buying this, I imagined myself traveling around with this bag, sitting in trains and airports and going to class with my bottle of water (1,5l).

Sometimes it feels like  a bag is more than a means of transport. Sometimes it feels as if it’s a partner in crime, a mate who accompanies you everywhere. A reliable one. So yes, I can kind of fall in love with them, and get all enthusiastic about the topic.

Do you like bags? Do you carry them around and love them? And if you’re a man: how do you manage without them?

Badassness (with Irene Adler)

It seems like the stream of bad news hasn’t come to an end yet. As things turn out, I will be going to Russia on my own, with a delay of a month. On my own! A month too late! I’m only a little bit completely terrified.

There is a big upside though. If I survive this, nothing can scare me anymore. Without a doubt this will be the most badass thing I’ve ever done, maybe even the most badass thing I’ll ever do. Being badass is something good. I mean, the real badassness. Not the ‘look I can drink two bottles of vodka in an hour’ kind of badass. No, I mean the ‘I’m just going to do this shit’ kind of badass.

According to the Urban Dictionary, there are a few explanations as to what this ‘badass’ thing is. (I guess that counts for every word you can think of.) Here are some rules the dictionary presents us:

Unspoken Rules of Being Badass:
1. First rule of being a badass. A badass does not talk about being a badass. Period.

2. Second rule of being a badass, a badass does not try to be a badass or look tough. A badass simply is a badass.

3. A badass stays true to themselves, always. This means being themselves for themselves, and not being fake to impress others.

4. A badass does not give up. Badasses will always push themselves for the better, no matter how hard it gets.

It seems that they aren’t so unspoken anymore, but okay. I’ve broken the first rule already, unfortunately. Does anyone else notice the movie reference I suspect here?
I’m doing a good job on the second one though. I don’t want to be badass! I’d much rather go together with a friend and on time to Russia! This is just a case of ‘I didn’t choose the thug life, the thug life chose me’.

And, if I’m bragging anyway, the fourth rule definitely fits as well. I have spent quite some time trying to get this shit done. If I get to go, it will be because of me, and not because of anyone else. I arranged it. I found out what we needed to do, and I did it. And even with the delay and sudden loss of company, I will still go. I don’t want to give up now. Not now, after everything I have done.

Luckily there are always examples when you need them. After recently having re-watched Sherlock Holmes, I have found Irene Adler a fitting example of old school badassness. Look at the clip, note this catchy soundtrack and enjoy the powah.

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!

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