December 31, 2007

New traditions

I'm almost on my way to a newyear's eve party. As always (well, the last four years at least), we're barbequeing (mind you, in winter) with a fairly fixed group of people by now.

When I would tell people about it at first, they'd look at me weirdly. By now, I just got a shrug and a 'oh right, again huh'. Teehee.

Happy new year everyone, hope you're as excited about the year ahead as I am!

December 30, 2007

Little vegetables


Over the last few days I've been listening to a cd called Hang on little tomato.

Everytime I see the cover and this title I have to think of something that happened over 12 years ago. Strangely enough, it's one of the memories that stand out most of my year in Hobart - my hostbrother talking to his food and saying: "you just sit there, little broccoli".

(Honestly, he was quite normal the rest of the time! Well, as normal as teenage boys can be.)

December 29, 2007

2007

I can't resist doing this post.

If I would have to summarize the year: rollercoaster ride.

The first two-thirds of the year were overall pretty crap, with the occasional good thing thrown in. The last one-third of the year has been the complete opposite, with me bouncing around all over the place.

The bad:
* jobhunting, on and on and on and on..... seemingly never ending and having it take over my life;
* too much uncertainty about where the hell I was going;
* seeing too much of certain medical people, ugh;
* being spooked too often by those people above;
* seeing every new idea turn to nothing again and again;
* dating bad men;

The good:
* the fab new job, wheeee! I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that this is working out. The long wait has been so worth it.
* S.
* St. Petersburg, London, Bulgaria, Belgium - anything that required a plane or a longish trainride!
* being excited about new plans, new ideas, new inspiration.
* having my friends stick with me.

December 28, 2007

Questions

Part of the fun in my job is the big variety of questions people ask. The most recent hit:

"Do you have Kim Dae-Jung's postal address?"

Uhm, no. Weird stuff.

December 22, 2007

Eek!

So, this trip to Morocco.

It started out as a not very serious comment (or so I thought....) on a second date: 'hey, maybe I should convince you to come to Morocco with me!'. I laughed it off then.

And now look what I've gotten myself into. I still can't quite believe that I am really going. Next time I see the person who made that comment is middle of next week, in Madrid, after just seeing him off at the airport to Athens.

Eek!

December 21, 2007

Back in time

Through Jules and Cookie, just because I felt like it.

— 10 years ago —
1) How old were you?: 19
2) Where did you work?: student at the time, part time work at my parents' hotel
3) Where did you live? Leiden
4.) Where did you hang out? would go back to my parents regularly, and was only slowly getting to know people.
5.) Did you wear glasses? Yes
6.) Who was your best friend? P.
7.) How many tattoos did you have? 0
8.) How many piercings did you have? 4 (two holes in each ear)
9) What car did you drive? very occasionally my parents'
10.) Had you been to a real party? yes. Are there non-real parties?
11.) Had You had your heart broken? no.

———–5 years ago———–

1.) How old were you? 24
2.) Where did you work? still a student. no parttime job as far as I can remember.
3.) Where did you live? Leiden, again after just returning from 12 months in Osaka.
4.) Where did you hang out? SSR - student club; various bars/cafes around the city (Mr. Jansen, de Kroeg etc)
5.) Did you wear glasses? yes
6.) Who was your best friend? T. & M.
7.) How many tattoos did you have? 0
8.) What car did you drive? none
9.) Had You had your heart broken? no
10.) Taken/Single/Married/Divorced? very single

—————-2 years ago——————-

1.) How old were you? 27
2.) Where did you work? ESA
3.) Where did you live? Leiden, had just returned from six months in Tokyo
4.) Where did you hang out? around Leiden (the Burcht, van Engelen); spending more time in Amsterdam.
5.) Did you wear glasses? yes, always
6.) Who was your best friend? different people - T/M/H/J
7.) How many tattoos did you have?: 0
8.) How many piercings did you have? 5
9.) What car did you drive? none
10.) Had your heart broken? nope
11.) Were you Single/Taken/Married/Divorce? single

——————–Today——————–

1.) How old are you? 29
2.) Where do you work? at a government agency
3.) Where do you live? Leiden, still
4.) Do you wear glasses? yes, lenses don't work.
5.) Where do you hang out? spending a lot of time in Amsterdam, at good restaurants, at friends' houses etc.
6.) Do you talk to your old friends? most of them, yes. although some have disappeared.
7.) How many piercings do you have? 5
8.) How many tattoos?: 0
9.) Has your heart been broken? still not.
10.) Are you Single/Taken/Married/Divorce? surprisingly, taken.

Winterwonderland




Isn't it gorgeous?

December 18, 2007

Well, that was fast

In my current work I don't do anything with Japan. In the interviews I made clear that, despite my cv being so much about Japan, I really was okay with it; that I was looking for something else; that I really hoped to do some different things.

Despite all that, it's probably almost inevitable that it'll pop back in my career at some point. And that's fine - in five years or so I wouldn't be surprised if I would love to do something Japan-related again.

I was pretty much offered the Japan-job today. I was pretty sure it would happen at one point in this job (it's just silly to have a Japan-job, but not have it worked by the only Japanese speaker in your department) but not within three months!

I said I'd think about it, but that my initial reaction was not to take it as I'm so happy doing something quite different right now.

Weird huh.

December 12, 2007

Hooked?

In April of this year, I had never been to Antwerp, Belgium. Ever. Which is strange considering I've travelled across half of the world, and Antwerp is much closer than even my parents' house.

So, it was time to change that.

I guess I liked it so much that I went back last month.

Weirdly enough, I am going again on Sunday (for the essential Christmas shopping) ....
How does that happen? Not go to a close-by very fun city for 28 years, and then go three times within six months?

December 03, 2007

Kimonos

Shamelessly stolen from kimonomomo:

go dress your own kimono-doll!

Very fun. Oh, and if anyone still needs ideas of what to buy me for Christmas, you now know where to find the gorgeous stuff at the kimonomomo-site ;-)

November 26, 2007

Good news day!

* I heard from a long lost friend from Australia. She was one of my best friends when I lived there, but we've lost contact since a few years. Out of nowhere I got an email this afternoon from her telling me that she's in Europe (woohoo) and.... moving to the Netherlands next summer! So so cool. Can't wait :-D

* after the disaster of involuntarily having our flight from Madrid to Amsterdam rescheduled about 12 hours earlier last week, we managed to cancel that flight, get our money back, and book a much better flight late that evening. Yay.

* I am most likely going to be involved in a very cool project at work as off January. Fingers crossed it all goes like I want it to!

* am also busy at work with setting up what could be a very interesting meeting. So hoping that this will work!

November 23, 2007

Surrealities of life

This is still a couple of months away (so my next few months of Toastmasters will come in very handy) but.... I am going to give a workshop/presentation on how to jobhunt, how to figure out what you want to do as a career after finishing school, how to find that perfect job etc.

Bwahahaha! I cannot stop laughing about this - too weird.

November 22, 2007

Good food!

Have been trying out some new restaurants lately, very very good:

- last week was lunch at the Zijlstroom, a newly renovated restaurant on the outskirts of the city. Would love to try out the dinner menu there once too....

- dinner this weekend at Scheltema, another new place which doubles as a theatre complex. Much more posh than expected but good!

- today was an unexpectedly good lunch at Shirasagi, what was supposed to be a casual lunch with Koreans turned into a visit to a place where I've wanted to go for ages - great sushi and sashimi followed with nabeyaki udon. Yumm!

-----

In other (bad) news, the airline switched our flights which means that instead of flying home from Madrid at 7pm in January, we now have to get up ridiculously early to leave with the rescheduled flight at 7am. Argh! Guess I'll have to wait a bit more to see Madrid....

November 20, 2007

Travel planning time

I just borrowed the Morocco LP from a friend.... it's time to start finding out where exactly I'm going in January!

Wheee, this is half the fun of travelling.

Festival time

A couple of film festivals are happening, or are about to happen, so I'm seeing some good stuff:

* last week a documentary about child soldiers, political dilemma's and the very fine line between truth and fabrication at the Cinema & Justice month in Den Haag

* tickets booked for IDFA! By heart, I think I'm going to a movie on women in the Congo, on dictators in Chad, on something about Sudan and - just to be different - on elections and politics in contemporary Russia.

You'd almost think I am moving away from Asia.... Not quite so, just returned from a pretty interesting discussion night about whether to stay or go in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. Pretty good. And actually useful for work!

November 12, 2007

Friday #2: Flip Kowlier - Welgemeende

And the continuation of Friday's concert was fabulous also. Great weekend!

Friday #1: Tom Pintens.

Okay, the video is slightly odd, but the concert on Friday in Antwerp was great!

November 04, 2007

Saturday

My Saturday night:

1) seeing and hearing a trio breathtakingly play a piece by Novak on piano, cello and violin at the Pianola museum. Absolutely stunning.
2) frustratingly watch a group of friends try to find eachother in different parts of the city by frantically calling and texting. Sigh.
3) playing with all the cool kiddie science gadgets at NEMO. Whee!
4) cheering for the architects competing Idols-style to win a prestigious building project at ARCAM.
5) loving the chocolate letters at El Hema.
6) being bored while lounging between the Rembrandts at the Rijksmuseum (although I did love the chocolate fountain!).

Yep, I think those were the highlights of the night.

Where I still want to go to? The Museum of Bags and Purses!

October 30, 2007

Changing the topic: Travel

Another highlight of this week: I've just booked new travel tickets! Woohoo.

Am spending five days in Marrakech and a short day on the way back in Madrid in January.

Cannot. Wait.
Hugely exciting.

October 29, 2007

Less cryptic

Okay, I wasn't quite expecting that response to my previous post. Here's an attempt at explaining things more clearly.

In the back of my mind there have always been two careerpaths that I've wanted to pursue, that seemed like the best careers I could want, doing challenging, different and interesting work.

With the new job I'm now at the beginning of one of those two. Yay!

The second one of those is something I've always dreamt about but I have never seen a way of making it happen. It would demand a lot of discipline, a lot of guts, and I suppose I've been lazy or not confident enough in my capabilities - and have decided to pursue the first career actively. For the moment. With (belated) success. It's still in the back of my mind, and I have vague plans of returning to it at some point in the future when life is more settled down. The only way I would be able to start in this before is if a vacancy would come up, a position that would launch me in this career but would also give me an advantage as it would ask for some very specific skills that I definitely have. But clearly this would never happen.

THAT very job has just been advertised.

October 28, 2007

Ignorance

Some things you are better of not knowing. I really wish I hadn't seen a particular page in this weekend's newspaper.

What do they say? It's better to regret something you did, than something you didn't do?

Looks like we're back to writing a job application letter.... :-/

October 22, 2007

Goals

Whenever people have asked me where I would want to be in five or ten years, I would never have an answer. Or it would be some vague answer about how I'd want to be in an interesting/challenging job, have different interests outside of work, blah blah.

And even though you probably don't HAVE to have a set goal, I do think it would give you a bit more direction in whatever you're doing.

I think I finally have one. I'm quite amazed. And I think I have an idea of what I have to do to get there.

That doesn't mean that I'm throwing myself in a new thing that I HAVE to accomplish (like previously - when jobhunting turned into quite a disaster). Luckily. But I'm looking forward to all the fun stuff that is going to come along with it!

Yay!

Becoming famous?

Remember my post on the internet video?

It's been in the magazine for about two weeks now and slowly people are starting to react on it.

I've had comments from co-workers, a random email from someone unknown who's in a closely-related organization, my old boss, friends, a client I have spoken to on the phone a few times, etc.

See, I'm slowly becoming famous!

Easy answers

The question I am asked most these days:

"Aren't you disappointed that you are not working on Japan in your new job instead of these other countries that you don't know much about?"

Answer: definitely not.

October 21, 2007

*bounce bounce*

Ugh, I'm starting to bore myself with the bouncey-happy feeling of the last couple of weeks. Suppose I can't complain though, wouldn't want it to be any other way!

Anyway, the weekend was fab - as always:

-----

I've been emailing with Julia about her upcoming move to the Netherlands... it's made me realize I wouldn't have a clue how to go about something huge like that myself. I haven't even been able to help much with her questions as moving here from abroad seems to require very different information than what I know of this country... or so it seems to me.

Another friend of mine has just done the same - but then moving from Tokyo to New York. Eek again!

I know I've lived abroad a fair bit myself, but then everything was perfectly arranged - whole organisations (in the case of Australia and the first time in Japan) or an instant social network (in the case of the last time in Japan) were there for me to set me up and keep me going. I'm not sure how I would handle something different if the opportunity came up... which is not totally unlikely in the future.

October 17, 2007

In Orbit


Soyuz to ISS
Originally uploaded by macchi.

(I'm cheating, as this is not really 'our' Soyuz, but it's close enough. Can't find the proper pictures)

Friday, a year. That's how long MetOp has been in orbit, after finally finally a successful launch in October 2006. And it's being celebrated of course.

Received an invitation today for this party and I'm ridiculously excited about it and can't wait to go. Funny in a way, although I've always complained about the content of the work that I was doing there, the organisation itself was fun and very interesting. And definitely can't complain about the freedom I was given in doing whatever I wanted.

I am really looking forward to seeing my ex-colleagues again, and it is one of the few places of work that I've stayed in touch with after leaving.

Despite all that, resigning in April was the best decision I've made all year. I can't quite believe how different my life is right now - new job, new guy, great friends - I'll just keep on enjoying this for now....

October 14, 2007

Video fame

I always feel weird seeing myself back on film - the voice is odd, the person on the screen doesn't look like me [or, at least not like the 'me' I think I am] etc.

I just watched back an interview I did in May. A simulated job interview for a national career magazine - for them it's to fill up pages in their magazine, for me it was purely to get feedback on how I interview and to use that to improve my interview skills.

So weird. Although, it didn't feel as weird seeing it now as I had expected, but still... not sure what to think at all!

On the good side, this was one of the meetings in late spring that finally pushed me into trying out new things and realizing more what I needed to do. And I have the job I want now. So it definitely wasn't bad.

And now it's up on the web and in print for the whole country to see. Yikes.

October 13, 2007

A new favourite [updated]

The gig on Friday by Wir Sind Helden was great! I guess I can add a new favourite band to an evergrowing list. At the least, a new addition to my cd-collection. Perfect music for a happy mood like this afternoon.

Can't wait for the other live music things that I have planned.... Finally some drum'n'bass again in two weeks time, possibly Miss Kittin the week after, and finally the Arcade Fire in November. Yeah.

-----

It's two weeks later, but have more to add to the above list:
Aphrodite was great (but short)
Miss Kittin is a definite by now
Seeing Flip Kowlier and Tom Pintens in Antwerp (am currently listening to Flip's music to find out what I'll be seeing)
And I should maybe also be seeing a musical or something similar in Brussels next month...

Good stuff (*^-^*)

October 08, 2007

Work evaluations

Had my first official work discussion with my boss today - what I should be aiming for in the next year, what is expected of me, that kind of stuff.

No mention so far about my performance (I suppose I should take that as a good thing) except to say that I need to be less quiet. *sigh* When will people ever stop saying that?

But, best part of the plan for the next few months: "You really should be looking at and planning of future visits to your countries." Teehee.

So, when's the best time to visit Malaysia? I think I'll hold off on South (and North?) Korea until after spring...

October 2006

I realized today that I was here (photo 2 & 3) a year ago exactly!

I've seen some cool places over the last 15 months or so, huh...

October 07, 2007

Moroccan cuisine

I currently have a big Moroccan tajine on loan from a friend who's off to Uganda for a few months to see gorilla's and more.

It's been sitting in my house for months though, without having anything to do. Saturday, though, was spent shopping for ingredients for the following dish. It turned out quite well luckily!

Now.... off to Morocco to buy one for myself?

Moroccan fish tagine with coriander couscous

Ingredients
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp ground nut oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1 preserved lemon or normal lemon, chopped
12 green olives, stoned and roughly chopped
1 tbsp home-made harrissa (see below)
125ml/4fl oz white wine
200ml/7fl oz fish stock
1 pinch of saffron
500g/1lb 2oz mixed firm fish, such as monkfish, gurnard, mackerel
200g/7oz mussels
100g/3½oz cherry tomatoes
couscous and coriander to serve
For the home-made harrissa
3 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-2 lemons, juice only
4 tbsp olive oil
salt
freshly ground black pepper


Method
1. Heat the ground nut oil in a tagine and gently cook the onion and garlic until soft.
2. Add the cumin, ginger, cinnamon stick, preserved lemon and green olives and cook for two minutes.
3. To make the harrissa put the chillies, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil into a food processor and blend into a rough paste.
4. Stir in the harrissa and cook for one minute.
5. Add the wine and fish stock and the saffron and bring to a gentle simmer.
6. Add the fish and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the mussels and cherry tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cover. Cook gently for 6-7 minutes.
7. Serve on a bed of steamed couscous and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander.


(from here)

October 04, 2007

New challenges?!

How to make a smooth entrance into a new group/club? Just become friends with the president of the club. The rest will take care of itself.

Which is generally a good thing. Except for the fact that because of the above, I've now also had to tell an audience of unknown people what I would do with x-ray vision superpower (anyone, what would YOU do with it?!). This in addition to having had to discuss pregnancy yoga only a few weeks before.....

September 27, 2007

Wir sind Helden - Endlich ein Grund zur Panik

New! Music!

Finally some new music to keep me entertained:

* Wir Sind Helden - tomorrow at Paradiso (see above)

* Broken Social Scene - the mail delivered the latest cd by one of their main people today. yay!

September 19, 2007

Hmmmm

Funny how I can't think of anything interesting to blog about when things are going well.

I'll try to improve on this soon.

September 12, 2007

Update

Things are good. I think I'll like this job (and am scared I have expectations that are much too hight).

For now though, I'm being overwhelmed with lots of information and trainings and so on, but it's all good. Getting to know lots of new people but they seem fun.

But, there's good stuff ahead:

tomorrow - an event on Indonesian human rights
friday - great night out in Amsterdam. yay.
saturday - a taiko-gig! so cool, I'm going to be so homesick for Japan after that.
sunday - the homesickness will continue after meeting one of my friends from Osaka (if she'll confirm....!).

Yay ((*^-^*))

September 10, 2007

Counting down

Well, not really anymore. Only one more sleep: I start the new job tomorrow. Yay!

The last two weeks have been really good, not having to worry about hardly anything anymore. And I can't believe that as of tomorrow I'm yet again in a new office but this time it should more or less be for real.

I'm trying to stop myself from looking at it as the start of a new life. It really isn't. It's possibly an improvement of one part of life. But there's so much going on all of a sudden that it does feel as if I'm starting something completely new and different right now because it's all happening at the same time.

Very strange. But very good. Can't wait for whatever else is around the corner!

September 09, 2007

Coriander

Another highlight of the last weekend was Friday night - a delicious dinner with four good friends.

Originally, the plan was a pretty decadent night out. Well, okay. It still kind of was. We just had dinner at a restaurant with only one Michelin-star instead of three.

We walked into Koriander at 7:30pm. We walked out again at 1am. Great evening of amazing food (we had a surprise-menu: the best parts for me were the white bean soup with sole (I think?), the main course of duck breast (sp?), lots of cheese, and so on....), good conversation, lovely atmosphere - good stuff.

So, now we'll have to start thinking of what restaurant to try out next year....

St Nyk


de grote kerk van Sint Nicolaasga, 13u, 08-09-2007!
Originally uploaded by macchi.

One of the highlights of the past weekend: the church in Sint Nicolaasga.

September 06, 2007

Digiphobe

So I finally managed to get a semi-new laptop. Yay!

My old one was dying and this new one is fast and spiffy. Great stuff. Except that I am already stuck with stuff that I need to install on here. Argh. Why can't things like these ever work the easy way, and the way I expect it too.

At least my old one is still working for now which means I can do all the fast internet stuff on here for now, and am not completely out of the loop with everything else that I still have on my old one. Am too impatient thought. I want everything to work NOW.

*sigh*

September 04, 2007

Murakami

I was just reading this article in Time about Haruki Murakami. One of my favourite writers but as I was reading I realized I haven't read any of his latest books. Mostly my own fault actually. I have this hang-up about wanting to read books in their original language if at all possible. Which in Japanese still is possible except that it's just becoming too tiresome so I don't bother anymore.

Bad Machi. I have a whole shelf of Japanese books, half of which still need to be read, including this very cool sounding book by the other Murakami: Ryu.

The Time-magazine hints that Murakami's next title would be about Japanese nationalism... could be very interesting. I'd love to read his take on it.

I should really let go of that rule huh...

Piiictures!



Stories will follow, but for now a preview of shots from Bulgaria. With of course the rest viewable here.

August 28, 2007

Attempt nr. 1

Although we didn´t have a plan for the week in Bulgaria, part of the plan was to do some hiking.

Unfortunately our guidebook was pretty vague on the options. A lot of areas are said to be excellent for hiking. But without giving the details that we wanted.

On Sunday, we decided to head to the first spot on our newly made itinerary: Veliko Tarnovo; the town with the view as described below. We were met by very enthusiastic hostel workers, one of whom excitedly started telling us about an Ecotrail (3, actually) which leads to a nearby monastery. Perfect for our hiking requirements. "You cannot miss it" were the reassuring words of our Bulgarian.

We set off with a pack filled with food, camera´s, extra clothes and so on. We returned looking like two drowned muddy cats..... In between disappearing marks, an unfindable trail and a heavy rainshower we had ended up only across in the other part of town, without having even spotted the monastery.

Ah well. Tomorrow is attempt nr. 1 (again involving a monastery) but hopefully we can laugh about it as much as the first one! Weirdly enough, it really was a very fun day.

August 27, 2007

Bulgaria, day 3

I've just woken up in a tiny very laid-back hostel in the mountains in the middle of Bulgaria. The view from the balcony looks across to a huge fortress on the next mountain. Narrow cobblestoned streets lead up to the hostel, with rivers gushing down after last night's rainstorm.

A quick glimpse of life during my holiday. Gorgeous country, really friendly people, good food - what more could I want?

August 22, 2007

Wheeeeee!



I'm not very sure what's gotten into me.... cycling home today, in the sun, just being overwhelmed with this feeling of complete happiness. It's definitely been a very long time.

I'm most likely getting way ahead of myself, but have so many things to look forward to. Giddiness when thinking about tomorrow night. Then, Friday is my last day of my current job. Excitement about the flight on the following week on Saturday. And in two weeks time there's the mystery weekend. And I still have to even start my new job yet.

Too good to be true? Dunno, but I'll enjoy this as long as it lasts.

August 19, 2007

Another summer post


Today was supposed to be the first proper barbeque of the year (after the other 'first' was rained upon heavily so that doesn't count).

The picture above is what the weather looked like this afternoon. So far for good bbq's this summer.... I cannot wait for some sun next week.

August 18, 2007

Summer in Amsterdam

I spent Thursday night tucked in under a big blanket, underneath an umbrella, but in a sun chair and in a beachy atmosphere. Well, the beachy atmosphere was gone by the time it started raining (see mention of umbrella).

But, before that I did manage to take a few pictures across the water at this outdoor cinema. The light was amazing but I don't think the pictures capture it well enough. I love all the new development on the IJ in Amsterdam, and this shows a little bit of what they're doing (the eastside of the station is much more 'ready' though, this side is mostly a lot of construction and cranes still).




Finally

Getting up early (-ish) on a Saturday morning can be worth it, if it means getting tickets to an upcoming Arcade Fire concert! Woohoo!

I've wanted to see them live for ages but keep missing the concert announcements (or decided not to go to the festival where they are playing today). Not this time. Bigger venue than I want, but can't have it all. Now I just have to wait until November.

Short preview is in an earlier post of mine.

August 15, 2007

The best thing ever?

Looking through my blog and the labels I use there's one category that I use much more often than the 'w*rk'-one: Travel!

My shopping of this afternoon included a guidebook to Bulgaria, where I'm off to in only 10 days with a friend for a week - if nothing goes wrong with booking our tickets tonight, that is.

I love these last minute ideas. We got talking about it last week because she knows someone there (and I need to check if my Bulgarian acquaintance is still/again there). Besides that we have no idea what to expect which is - in my opinion - one of the best reasons to go.

Expect pictures and stories in September!

*POP*

Don't worry, it's just the sound of a bottle of champagne being popped open.

Everything seems to be fixed for my new job: woohoo!!

And details for those who are interested, I'll be going back to the type of work I was partly doing for a while in Tokyo. In a way very much the sort of thing I've been looking for.
To be more precise, I'll be working on facilitating international trade from the Netherlands to a few countries in Asia (South Korea, Malaysia & Afghanistan - yes, a very odd combination). I start in a few weeks and am very excited.

But first, I'm off to book a (well-deserved?) holiday.

Oh, and thanks for sticking with the blog despite all the venting here at times!

August 13, 2007

The complexities of dating

Having a lot of friends in relationships by now, I'm mostly left to fend for myself when it comes to dating.

Which is not a bad thing in itself. Except that I feel that I’m slowly becoming brainwashed by all these horror stories on American-style dating (rules? huh?) and whatever other styles are out there. Clearly I’m still quite firmly set in Dutch reality (Groningse nuchterheid?) which is very very good. It all seems to be a hell of a lot more confusing than how it used to be in university though. At that time you just sort of end up hooking up with a friend of a friend at a friend’s party or something like that.

Maybe I’m getting too old for that, but somehow it doesn’t seem to be how it works anymore. Which is leading to some interesting evenings and new people… Fun, but sometimes a bit too complicated for my liking.

(and yes, this is the drawback of a non-anonymous blog – am not sharing any more, you’ll have to live with the crypticness)

August 09, 2007

Superstar

I've been thinking for some time that I want to start doing some new things.

So, I've just signed up for an evening class on theater! It doesn't start until another 1,5 months but I'm already really looking forward to it. Something completely new, that I've never done before. Can't wait!

[update - actually, 'acting' is not completely new. I was telling someone this evening about the movie a bunch of us made a few years ago. SO much fun! But of course, it doesn't really count as proper 'acting'.]

Jinx?

With final job discussions still a week away I'm starting to become a bit nervous. I'm quite convinced that they'll offer a good package but still. I'll hold off on the champagne for now just in case.

But, I have told lots of people including my current place of work. And as always, it's not until you leave that you find people are suddenly different. My boss seems to have been in shock for the past few days. Oops. And other colleagues who I hardly ever speak to are also coming up to congratulate me and to say how sorry they are that I'm leaving. Okay, that is the thing you do but considering the short time I've been here and that this isn't even official yet it's still a bit surprising. Oh well.

I hope to be out of there in 2 weeks and can't wait!

August 06, 2007

Internetlessness

Highlights of the five-day-weekend-without-internet:

* I got a job offer!!! Final negotiations are still to be held but fingers crossed that it all works out the way it should. Champagne to follow after I've signed the contract.

* A huge night out on Friday at 11.

* Books, books, books and more books at the Deventer book market - apparently the biggest in Europe!

Pictures of everything else are here.

These are some of my favourites:




August 01, 2007

Airports

I quite like wandering around airports, seeing people rushing around - coming back from farflung places full of stories or leaving for weeks of adventure. Or at least, that's how my mind romanticizes it.

I'm at the airport three times in four days this week. But only one of them is for a fun occassion: picking up a friend who I haven't seen for a long time (actually, when I explain to friends who's coming over - a Russian friend who lives in Japan and is transitting through AMS - the next question is usually: Oh, I suppose you haven't seen her for a very long time then, right? Uhm, not quite - three months. That's actually less than some of my real life friends at home!)

Unfortunately the other two occassions are not so fun: seeing off the friend above, and today waving off a good friend at home who's off to the jungle of Uganda for six months. Sigh.

July 28, 2007

Holiday

After a fairly chaotic week, I decided on Friday that it's time to take a break so I have the coming week off work. Very very good.

Although I'm planning some serious stuff, it started with a wonderfully relaxing day at Elysium. We spent the whole afternoon wandering from sauna to steamroom to deckchairs in the sun to the restaurant and back to a sauna. I feel almost completely zen, ready for a good week.

But first, a semi-serious meeting to take care of tonight, before saying goodbye to a close friend who's heading to Uganda! Why do almost all my friends always take off travelling to the strangest places? So not fun (for me of course, it's great for them).

July 24, 2007

Pet #1 & Pet #2

My evenings this week look like this:

- come home and feed Nemo-1, -2 & -3 (yes, they are back, but I've been told these are actually not their official names);
- feed Machi;
- take a walk through town and feed Garfield-1 & -2.

It's all good though. By the time I have my own pets, I know where to call in some favours.

*evil grin*

July 23, 2007

Domestic travel prep

So, no foreign travel is planned for quite some time. Sigh. But, I'll try to see as much as I can of my own country in the meantime.

Last year, my mum and I decided we should start doing yearly hiking trips. The first one took us to Nijmegen and surroundings, in two weeks time we're going to an area around the IJssel river, just a bit further north. We booked hotels today and I'm really looking forward to it!

See, good travel doesn't necessarily have to be far away.

July 21, 2007

Wizardry

I tend to start buying stuff if I'm delayed travelling. Not good.

So, today, stuck at the airport/station for a bit I innocently wandered into the bookshop. And am now immersed in Harry Potter Part 7. Wheee!

(I'm truly not that addicted to the series, but yes, I do wanna know how it finishes before all the spoilers start appearing!)

July 20, 2007

Addicted

It took me a full hour to get my computer up and running tonight. Gah.

True sign of addiction I suppose, with rebooting and so on, et cetera, while I should really get some sleep and I'll have proper access again in a couple of hours in the morning anyway. And I've resorted to IE because Firefox won't load. Grr.

So, addicted. It must be that. Alternatively, it's time for a new 'puter.

July 18, 2007

I like work on days like today

Although the content of my work might not be so interesting over the last two years or so - I do get to do fun stuff.

My 'department' (all three of us) decided we needed to have some fun so we spent the afternoon at the Kröller-Müller Museum. One of my favourite museums in the Netherlands in a stunning part of the country. Then, nice food and wine while loving the sun. Bliss.

The below are pictures from the museum's huge sculpture garden





July 17, 2007

Shellac

How to know you bought a cool new cd:

* when the cool guy behind the counter actually shows the other cool guys what you're buying and they're all nodding in approval.

The kind of stuff that makes a normal day just that much nicer!

(an old draft I forgot to post)

July 16, 2007

Japan in the Netherlands

Japan and the Netherlands have a shared history that goes back over 400 years. It is quite interesting to see how the Netherlands has influenced Japan in unexpected areas - medicine, language etc. This long history of 400 years was celebrated in 2000. Lots of events, the royal families visited, lots of attention.

And now, 2009 is going to be another celebratory year: 400 years of Japan-Netherlands trade relations. The first time I heard about it, and when I told friends, the reaction was: "But haven't we done that already?".

As you can probably tell, I'm a tad sceptical about the whole thing. I don't see the point in another stream of standard activities if it isn't done well, with good thinking behind it: tea ceremony, kendo demonstration, kabuki play, etc. - it just doesn't appeal enough. Japan has so much more to offer but I always get the feeling that not much is done with the rest. Luckily, it seems I might have an opportunity to have some influence on this. I'm considering getting involved in some of the organisation behind all this.... Could be potentially fun. Not to mention good for my networking skills.

Make-over (part 1?)

I have spent the last couple of weeks (months?) talking to a lot of different people about how to tackle this jobhunt which hasn't been giving any results.

Although in general these meetings concerned similar issues, looking back I find that I've taken a very clear single idea away from all of them. This has actually been very good.

One meeting that impressed a lot brought home again, and quite urgently, that much of getting jobs, meeting new people, creating new opportunities is about presentation and first impressions. Something I've actually written about much more often on here already.

In any case, it's time to start doing something about it - because the more I see the way people around me act, the more I have come to realize that there is a huge gap between who I am and how people see me. And it is now actually interfering with how I want my life to be. After discussing this with a couple of friends, the standard reaction was that I definitely shouldn't change me. But that's absolutely not what I want either. I just want people to see who I am much much quicker.

So, the make-over has started. And surprisingly, it seems to be working. Just little things for now (it's amazing how different you can feel with new hair) but I'm completely confident that I can pull this off. Even if it will take a bit of time.

P.S. Over the last few months it seems this blog is turning more and more personal - almost a personal diary. Scary, especially because it's all not so anonymous anymore.... :-/ Anyway, bear with me, there've been some posts lately that worried people I think but it is usually a spur of the moment thing, not to be taken too seriously (I think).

July 15, 2007

Weekendstories

It feels as if this weekend was a proper one after a long time:

* dinner with best friends, drinking wine and chatting the night away on a summery night
* good beer and company in my favourite cafe where I hadn't been for ages
* of course something cultural: Japanese calligraphy
* a picknick in the park, unfortunately with a sun that disappeared much too often
* music, dancing and beer and much unexpectedness at a party organized for charity (although am not sure what charity exactly)
* a Sunday-afternoon with wine, sunshine, fun company

What more could I want?

Good stuff. And no thinking about jobhunting crap. Even better! I'll start worrying about that again tomorrow.

July 08, 2007

Changes

In preparation of the upcoming interview I've been looking through the first couple of months of this blog. That might sound strange but the interview is actually for an organisation that I did some work for while I was in Tokyo (which is really when I started writing here).

And as I started this blog off thinking of making it fairly intelligent, without the random touristy and weekend stories, I was looking to find more details on what I had done for them - my memory already seems to be worsening!

That lead to two observations:
* the attempt of
making it fairly intelligent, without the random touristy and weekend stories,
hasn't worked. So, I didn't find anything useful.

* I think I actually write much better now than I did back then. Some of the posts are just painful to read. Ouch.

July 06, 2007

Nemo! (x3)



For my friends' sake, I hope I'm better with fish than I am with plants.

As of today I'm in charge of three Nemo's while my friends are of holidaying in St. Petersburg. So fun!

I think I get overexcited about silly stuff - a while ago I could just barely restrain myself from posting a picture of my plants which were blossoming (which is quite a major happening in my world)!

July 05, 2007

A long five days

So, I have a new job interview scheduled. Finally! It's been months. And it actually sounds as if I have all the qualifications which probably is a first....

But... the consequence of all these meetings over the past few months is that I'm already freaking out about it. And mostly about: What To Wear.

I seem to have lost all objectiveness on my own wardrobe (if that were possible to have) and am completely confused about what looks good on me, what an appropriate outfit is to interview in, what colours I should wear to give off the impression that I want etc etc.

Gah!! This is gonna be a loooong five days until the interview. I'm calling in some people to help out I think.

July 02, 2007

Whine, whinge, sulk

*sigh*

Feeling ultimately sorry for myself after this morning's appointment with the dental surgeon.

At least this was the last time, and I have another full day to sulk around the house.

Of course, I had planned to do much usefulness, but so far: nada. I think I'll just get on my couch with a book and/or dvd.

[/whine]

June 29, 2007

I like Thursdays

Or at least, I liked my last Thursday:


Lots of fun, great show - almost 2,5 hours of loads of favourite songs. I'm getting all excited about going to many more concerts again. There's this for example, which is becoming increasingly tempting....

-----

More fun stuff yesterday: I had lunch at my old place of employment. Such a good ego boost! Have to do that some time soon again ;-)

-----

I'm also loving the book that I'm reading at the moment: In search of Kazakhstan, the country that disappeared. A travelogue-type book describing life in Kazakhstan, with a combination of current affairs and history (oh, and no mention of Borat). Very interesting, but the places he describes are so different from what I've seen. I think he also goes to Baikonur so that should be a good test to find out how to really judge the book.

June 27, 2007

Mememememememememememe

Okay, Jojoebi appeared out of nowhere and tagged me. So, 8 random facts about myself.... But first: the rules.

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. (I'll uhm, ignore this one....)
5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

My random factoids (can't promise they'll be unknown to all of you):
  • Most decadent traveling experience ever so far has been Moscow: picked up by diplomatic car from the airport, flying in a private jet with four others. Aaaaah, bliss.
  • Two of my creative accomplishments during university: I starred in a movie and I am on a CD!
  • I want sunglasses!
  • I am really bad with my finances and fear I'll get into big trouble once I need to be responsible :-/
  • My most favourite career/dreamjob would probably be something in journalism-type work.
  • Worst type of men to (almost) fall for: the married type.
  • I'm really having difficulty being involved in the campaign for reparations for comfort women. I'm pretty sure more is expected of me at my volunteer place, but really... it won't help!
  • I hate it that I don't have any foreign travelplans booked :-(

June 26, 2007

Democracy is overrated

Someone told me a few months ago that in my search for the perfect career I should pay more attention to the times that I get worked up or upset or excited about something. Admittedly, this doesn't happen all that much so strongly.

But, the thing that made me mad today was on the front of tonight's newspaper: one of the three coalition parties in the Netherlands (and many of the opposition parties) still thinks we should go ahead with a second referendum on the newly agreed European treaty.

Although it'll be months before an official decision is made I'm sure this'll be in the news for a while coming. It was a bad idea in the first place when they tried it two years ago. You cannot have the public decide on such a complex and huge issue by just answering Yes or No in a referendum.

Although I can understand that the policitians need to show the public that they did take the concerns at that time seriously. But they should also have the confidence that they did listen well (if the debate would have continued in a constructive way like it should have) and that the current treaty is the result of those concerns two years ago. Why does it warrant another referendum? Because I'm not confident that we'll get a Yes-vote out of it this time...

The European Union strikes me as inevitable and the Netherlands has a lot to gain from it.

Okay, maybe I'm overreacting. I hope they'll decide against it after all.

But still, is it bad that I sometimes think too much democracy is a bad thing?

Inspirationless

I seem to have lost all inspiration for blogging lately. Not sure why, I think I'm too busy with other stuff.

Things are good though, I think:
  • of the bbq's I mentioned below, one was rained upon heavily, the second was wisely cancelled, the third one is expected to be sunless and wet as well.
  • more fun stuff this week: seeing Pearl Jam! I saw them over 10 years ago, as the first major live gig for me to see. So, this will be one big nostalgia trip I think :-D
  • just home from a totally bizarre movie: Inland Empire by David Lynch. I think I need to sleep on it for a night before deciding what I actually think of it other than BIZARRE.
  • no more guy-stuff to complicate things for a while - which is very good actually (sorry, no more juicy details to share for this story...).
  • I'm busy trying to find ways to pull off a 'new & improved' machi. I think I finally got kicked into action last week although now I just need to figure out how to make it work.
  • although I'm very confident that this jobhunting crap WILL finish someday, I can't quite imagine anymore what it's like to not have to constantly be on the look-out for interesting vacancies, to not feel guilty anymore about not writing new application letters etc etc.
  • one week to go until dental surgery :-/ I was completely freaking out about this last year, this time around I've hardly given it any thought so far which is very good.
  • I cannot believe that I've been writing this blog for over 2,5 years already and it's still up and running....
Okay, not sure if the above summarizes into 'life is good' but weirdly enough it does feel like it.

June 21, 2007

BBQ Season

As of today it's officially summer. Coincidentally, I will also have my first bbq of this year tomorrow.

Considering the fact that there have been a few semi-heatwaves already, I'm making up for lost time: I actually have three bbq's planned within the next week.

Unfortunately it looks like it might just probably be raining for at least the first two of those. Definitely bad planning!

June 19, 2007

More on today

I guess that when several people start saying the same things to you, you should start reconsidering your own view maybe?

My head hurts from the meeting this afternoon. Very confronting but very good. Still, new ideas, new inspiration. But also a desperate need to get out of here on the next flight out.

So, I've been looking at tickets to the US in two weeks time. And then I started googling night classes in writing and journalism (don't laugh).

If I am seriously going to consider the latter than there's no way I can get to the US any time soon. Or any other place for that matter. *sigh*

Geography

This morning was spent trying to sort out some stuff for a Russian friend of mine - she's coming to visit for three (3!) days in August and - of course - needs a visa.

I know it's nothing we can control, the country that you're born into, but it makes so much difference. I have now had to declare that she is under my care for the whole three days that she's here, and hopefully that will be enough evidence for the Dutch consulate to grant her the visa....

Very fun that she's coming of course, but sheesh, the bureaucracy surrounding these things is incredible.

June 17, 2007

Stork


stork
Originally uploaded by macchi.

I spent part of today discovering a part of my own country unknown to me: the Betuwe. Despite me flying off to various parts of the world over the last few years, I'm determined to also see more of my own country at the same time. Today was kind of accidental, but turned out to be very nice.

During the next two/three months I have at least a hiking weekend planned in Overijssel, a barbecue weekend in Zeeland and a reunion weekend in Friesland. All in parts of the country that I've never really visited so am quite looking forward to those weekends (even if the main aim is not exactly sightseeing)!

This picture is one of my favourites of the afternoon - a stork watching over its nest. I really like the combination with the dark, threatening sky in the background.

And some more pictures of the day below....







June 14, 2007

A book post

  • am waiting excitedly for the sequel of the exchange which resulted in this book a little over a year ago. My book is waiting to be sent out (not telling what it is yet, in case the recipient is reading) but apparently some books have already arrived at their destinations.... very excited!
  • my boss gave me his copy of De Joodse Messias yesterday (literally translated as The Jewish Messiah). I've read some of the books by the author, Arnon Grunberg, but this is quite a controversial book. My boss is now describing Grunberg as 'sick and perverted'. Very curious ...
  • amongst the stack of books waiting to be read are books on Ruanda, Kazakhstan, Europe and the world in general. I think it'll be non-fiction for a while....

June 13, 2007

Escape vs. ...

This past half year has been really hectic, as you know.

One thing that I'm still happy about though, is not taking (all of) the initial professional advice that I got. The happy pills are still in my house somewhere, in a box unopened, and in a way are a reminder that I don't need them, don't want them and can be fine without them.

But sometimes it would probably just be easier. Either that, or allowing myself to escape.

Or I should just go to bed and sleep.....

June 08, 2007

Londinium, continued

Pictures from the three days in London are finally up here! Enjoy, as usual lots of buildings, very few people.

Antony Gormley







One of the coolest things we did in London was seeing the Antony Gormley exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. At first I wasn't quite sure what the exhibition would be like but it shows some fascinating stuff.

This must be a sign

I've been thinking for a while now that I should pop over to my old place of work to say hi and see how everyone is.

I think the universe, or something, is telling me that I should too: a letter and fancy certificate from the colleague I shared my office with, bumping into an old colleague on the train home tonight, a missed call from yet another colleague, and meeting even another one in the city. This is getting scary.

June 07, 2007

Wild Spirit

I first heard of this exhibition via I am not a tourist and had been waiting for an opportunity to take a look at Steve Bloom's photos.

They are definitely stunning! Unfortunately I only had a few minutes to walk past on my way to a meeting but definitely worth having a look when you're in the area.

June 06, 2007

Pampering

Dutchcookie started talking about Princess Days (tongue firmly in cheek!) ages ago, which caused a bit of an uproar on-line...

Tomorrow will be a true Princess Day though. Finally!

- sleeping in
- hairdresser
- shopping
- talking about me
- soaking in the sun
- and I might just add in a facial or something else nice

All very girly, but I can't wait. Absolute bliss. These past three/four weeks have felt so chaotic, but at least now it's time to spend some of that hard-earned money. Yay!

And then followed by a weekend of few plans (so far, at least) - even better.

June 05, 2007

Uhm, right.

Best (or just, plain dumbest) quote during the past weekend:

Him: "I wasn't here [shiatsu massage seminar] yesterday as I was at a workshop on Tibetan Buddhism. But well, it's pretty much in the same league, isn't it?"
Me: "Huh?"
Him: "Well, Shinto is the Japanese version of Buddhism, right? So it's pretty much the same thing."

Right. Sure. Bye.

Rotterdam





The above pictures are the view from my hotel last night. They're not as good as I was hoping they would be, but still, a pretty good view if you ask me.

But anyway, Rotterdam. I've been going there more regularly lately but it's still a city I don't understand. I'm only ever there to see a movie, or a concert, or whatever but never really in the city. Everytime I go, I get a stronger feeling that the place has potential. It is starting to feel like the kind of city that has some really cool places to go out at, to eat at, etc. if you only would know how to find them. Which clearly I don't. Yet.

Passing across the Erasmus bridge yesterday though, and seeing the architecture and so on in that area, the city has definitely done a great job on putting on a new image. It's definitely on my list of places to get to know better!

Speaking of Rotterdam, for more and regular shots of the city, check out this photoblog.

June 02, 2007

On scapula, supraspinatus, latissimus dorsi and more

If I ever come on here asking for advice whether or not to take another interpreting job - tell me not to do it.

I was thinking of getting certified, but unless my Japanese dramatically improves (and I see no reason whatsoever why it should) I really don't want to do this anymore.

The money is nice, but it's just not worth the stress, the anguish, the insomnia, the insecurity and so on in the week preceding and on the days of the job itself.

On the plus side, I do meet interesting and different people but it's just not good enough.

Luckily, tomorrow they will be talking about how to reduce stress so I'll definitely be paying attention! For now, I'm heading to my tv to watch the second part of the video that they sprung on me this morning... Argh.

May 30, 2007

Whoops, I forgot I'd been tagged

Via chimera and iggy (and hopefully am not forgetting anyone).

Each person tagged gives seven random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write on their blog seven facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and need to read your blog.

1) My head is almost spinning... When does July start again?

2) Newest favourite quote as seen on the London tube: "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - by Virginia Woolf

3) I'm thoroughly frustrated that I have NO travel planned from now on. And no, weekends in Gelderland and Friesland don't count. Grrrr.

4) You sometimes hear that you could probably make a personality sketch of the books people read or what they have in their house. So, riddle me this, my latest reads and purchases: Platform - Houellebecq, Strange Days - Murakami (Ryu), Cosmopolitanism - Appiah, Small Gods - Pratchett, In search of Kazakhstan - Robbins. Hmm.

5) Have taken on a two-day freelance gig. If the guy on the phone was right, I should definitely be changing careers! Actually, come to think of it, it could solve #3 ;-)

6) Am recently discovering that I'm very clueless and naive about some stuff (oh, and cryptic, but too many people are reading this I'm afraid...). It's weird how things are always so out of balance....

7) And another recent discovery - Lauryn Hill's unplugged cd. Excellent music for coming home late at night needing to clear my head (see #1).

Unfortunately it seems that almost everyone else in the blog-posse has been tagged already so am leaving this up here for who ever feels like continuing on to their own blog - it's yours!

May 29, 2007

Londinium

Back from a long weekend wandering around in very British weather. Ugh.

But, had a great few days - despite some accomodation issues, the weather, and a big delay on the flight back.

It confirmed my idea that I'd really enjoy this city to live in for a while. Met some old friends again which was great and definitely added to making this a good weekend :-D

Am superbusy so if you see pictures appearing here or on flickr anytime before the weekend that is not actually a good sign since I should be doing other stuff! so, more later.

May 24, 2007

Random dots

  • I can't make up my mind. I was walking around the Ministry of Economic Affairs this morning and thinking: 'this is the type of work I want to do. International, challenging, etc etc. I should stop bothering with all the rest of it'. Then tonight I was at a civic forum (is that the word?) - participative (is that English?) democracy at a very local level. And thinking 'I want to know more about this, this is fascinating stuff'. Gah. Although admittedly, I suspect the first thought might be recurring more often....
  • am looking for information about legislation in Japan. Can anyone help? I don't know where to look... apparently there's a legal revision entering into force on June 7 (or being confirmed then?) and it should be about day-to-day living conditions of inmates (specifically on death row?). I don't really know where to find out more - this is all I have. Anyone?
  • Two more sleeps until London! Wheeee!
  • Lots of jobhunting stuff to work on - don't know when though...
  • The more I read Japanese over the last few days the more I'm freaking out about the interpreting job. I can't back out anymore, can I? :-/
  • Oh and, my resolutions from the beginning of the week (pc off by 10pm, in bed by 11pm, breakfast!) are failing miserably.... *sigh*

May 22, 2007

Lists

I tend to make lists of stuff I need to do. And then generally don't pay any attention to them.

Lately I've been doing much better though. As in: my lists are long....! And the good thing about the current lists is that I'm really paying attention to them and that there's a fair bit of crossing off to be done as well. Excellent. I feel I'm actually making progress.

Unfortunately the length of these lists is not diminishing as new stuff is added even quicker than I can work to get rid of the old stuff.

*sigh*

As always this is again proof that I need to be busy to actually get myself into gear and working. Gah. And currently I'm not even getting around to the more important (but more difficult and time-consuming) things. Like tomorrow's meetings.... I know I'll hate myself for this in the morning.

May 20, 2007

Hmmmm....




Semi-continuing on from yesterday's post, of course I enjoy most of the stuff I do related to Japan. Such as this afternoon, when we had organized a sake tasting session. Ten different types of sake with explanations about what makes sake different etc. And of course sushi! Very good afternoon.

As a result I now have half a bottle of bishonen sake at home which should be drunk in the next few days. Does anyone want to come and help?

Osaka

(sorry, a mushy post)

I was chatting to a very good friend of mine earlier this afternoon which made me realize again how much I miss some people. We hardly ever properly talk, but really, I should just make more time to stay in touch with these friends!

It also made me realize that my travels over the past half year have all been connected by one thing: Osaka.

I guess by now I can honestly say that I made some close friends when living there in '01/'02. I can't believe it's already been five years!

The trip to Krakow was together with a friend I met in Osaka. St. Petersburg was partly to see a friend I met in Osaka. Antwerp and most of all Leuven was to attend a wedding of friends from Osaka. And the upcoming trip to London is together with the Krakow-friend and we'll be meeting up with a friend who we met in - you guessed it - Osaka.

Seriously, travelling to see friends is one of the most ideal ways of travelling. It is so good to find out how people are doing, and to have them show you their life and their city.

Maybe it's the wine from tonight, but I can't help feeling really lucky to have these people as my friends. Not surprisingly, the friend I openend this post with is also an Osaka-contact. Can't wait to see him again - hopefully this year too as a trip to Spain with many of these people is supposedly on the calendar....

May 19, 2007

Pulled back in

I don't actually want to do anything with Japanese in a future job (let's put that another way: I don't want a job which is 100% focused on Japan). And for the past two years, since returning from Tokyo, I haven't been looking in this direction at all.

Yet, I keep being pulled back into the Japan-field.

Of course, I ultimately chose to take these opportunities because I think/hope I can use them to my advantage in other ways. And not least because I enjoy them.
But still, it is turning out to be tough to completely step away from Japan.

So, the next two weeks will be spent frantically brushing up my Japanese knowledge on anatomy and the like. *sigh* At least it is a big compliment that the person I will be interpreting for specifically asked for me, right?

May 18, 2007

Phones

I admit that I don't particularly like phones. I would much rather make appointments and communicate through email - especially if it's something where it is important to make a good impression and then the phone just seems a lot more risky.

But, I also do see that it is so much more effective. In my last job almost everything would be communicated through email. I tend to do this as well in my current job but my boss picks up the phone, or even better, gets up and walks over to the other office even if he's busy doing other stuff. And he gets things done immediately.

Not surprising of course. And I don't really know why I don't like phones but I'm definitely going to change my ways with this.

Am I the only one like this? I can't be alone in my dislike of phones, right?

On a similar note, someone said the other day that texting should be illegal in romantic relationships. Absolutely. So why aren't we picking up the phone to actually talk to eachother? Gah.

May 16, 2007

Ontlurken



I should probably write this in Dutch, but let's not confuse too many people.

Just stumbled onto Zezunja's post on the Dutch de-lurking week*. A fairly hilarious idea I thought, and I know there are plenty of people reading this but not making themselves known, i.e. lurkers.

Now is the time. From 14th May until the 20th May.

I look forward to finding out who else unexpected is reading!

* There should also be an international/English week, but haven't been able yet to find out when. January, I think?

May 15, 2007

Monocle

I posted about the magazine before, but the new issue of Monocle again has some cool features it seems:

- M-Flo! A big piece on one of the members, DJ Verbal. Plus a single to listen to on-line. Yay.

- there should (can't find it online) also be an article in there on what is supposedly the world's most bicycle-friendly city: Groningen! My furusato, in a way, so quite surprising to see it in this magazine.

Maybe I should start buying it but at E10 per issue...

May 14, 2007

Too many hats?

Sometimes it feels like I'm too busy for my own good. Not often, but at the moment I have a To Do list which is much too long with way too many different things on there.

My evening tonight:
* in the train home studying about local government and the politics behind it all;
* sending out some emails for an ex-student club thing I'm involved in;
* making some phone calls to prepare a meeting that I have on the weekend for a Japanese alumni association;
* continuing on to my inbox from my volunteer work to write some emails and prepare tomorrow's PM meeting;
* finally getting around to having a look at tomorrow's AM meeting and focusing on that for a bit - actually the most important of the list!
* and finishing off with a few jobhunting ideas...

And I wonder why I'm tired. Luckily tomorrow is a day off (well, after my two meetings that is...)

[disclaimer - despite evenings like this, I love the stuff I do. If I wouldn't have things like this to keep me occupied, thinking and challenged I'd turn into one huge couch potato! Yuck.]

May 08, 2007

Two things

* I sometimes forget that this blog isn't quite as anonymous anymore as it started out.... Hmm. Not bad in itself, but I sometimes catch myself having written stuff that maybe shouldn't have been out here. Or I find out about people reading who I didn't think were reading at all (although this is usually a good thing I think). Oh well.

* One of the things that is suddenly very different since leaving my last job: I don't speak English anymore! My life used to be bilingual. English in the office, a little bit of Dutch/German/French in between; Dutch outside of the office with English mixed in with certain friends and so on. Right now it's all English. Except for the occasional phone call or meeting with non-Dutch friends. Quite bizarre.

May 06, 2007

Meme

I've run out of inspiration for the one-post-a-day-thing, so am tagging onto Jo's meme:

1. PICK OUT A SCAR YOU HAVE, AND EXPLAIN HOW YOU GOT IT.

I have a small dent in my shin when I fell onto the corner of the back part of a furniture truck which was unloading my parents' new living room furniture when I was about 10 or so.

2. WHAT IS ON THE WALLS IN YOUR ROOM?
In my kitchen: a 1960's Mao poster. In my living room: a hand-written Japanese kanji scroll and a blue African print-type cloth.

3. WHAT DOES YOUR PHONE LOOK LIKE.
A very standard Sony Ericsson model. I would LOVE to use my hot pink Japanese phone here though!

4. WHAT MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO?

All kinds. Lately, a lot of Zita Swoon, Arcade Fire, starting to listen to some more drum'n'bass again, etc. And online stuff through 3voor12 and Pandora of course.

5. WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT DESKTOP PICTURE?

The same as it has been for two years or so (too lazy to change): a view across a gorgeous Mexican lake.

6. WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW?

To sleep (in 15 minutes!). And a proper job, what else?

7. DO YOU BELIEVE IN GAY MARRIAGE?

Well, yes, just as much as I believe in any other marriage I s'pose. Although I mostly see it as a great reason for a fantastic party!

8. WHAT TIME WERE YOU BORN?

No idea.

9. ARE YOUR PARENTS STILL TOGETHER?
Yes. 30 years and counting.

10. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?
Just turned on a drum'n'bass collection cd.

11. DO YOU GET SCARED OF THE DARK?
Nope, not really.

12. THE LAST PERSON TO MAKE YOU CRY?
Probably my GP.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE COLOGNE / PERFUME?
Don't have many but I like the Naomi Campbell scents.

14. WHAT KIND OF HAIR/EYE COLOUR DO YOU LIKE ON THE OPPOSITE SEX?
Dark hair, blue/greyish eyes I think.

15. DO YOU LIKE PAIN KILLERS?
Nope, but hardly ever have a reason to take them.

16. ARE YOU TOO SHY TO ASK SOMEONE OUT?
Probably yes. Although it hardly happens that I'm interested enough in someone to want to ask him out. And I'm getting better at it :-D

17. FAVE PIZZA TOPPING?
Mozzarella, tomato, basil. Yumm.

18. IF YOU COULD EAT ANYTHING RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Nothing. Too tired!

19. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU MADE MAD?
No idea, I hope no one!

20. IS ANYONE IN LOVE WITH YOU?
Not quite yet, getting closer maybe/hopefully....

May 04, 2007

A quick work post

Just because I guess I should update with what's going on:

# a three-day-a-week job is great! Unfortunately my bankaccount is not so great :-/
# even though the job itself is supposed to be quite administrative, my boss almost immediately started to put me onto some of his other projects. It feels so good actually to be taken seriously again, to have someone respect and value your opinion, and to be thinking again!
# I share the office of my boss and am going to learn so much from him. Very good.
# it's also quite the social experiment. I've never been particularly good at just talking to random people but at the moment I don't really have a choice unless I want to have lunch by myself every single day.
# working in Amsterdam is fun! I really should move there.
# have a couple of quite exciting (scary?) informational interviews scheduled...
# have been invited to test my interviewing skills for a column in a national magazine. Still trying to figure out how I can make that meeting next week, but I really should go.

All in all, although unemployment was fun and it would have been good to have it last longer than just one measly week, resigning and then taking this temp gig was a pretty good decision.

Yes, the sky really was that blue



Talking to Chimera the other day we both agreed that we love the Sartorialist and wouldn't it be cool if we would also have enough guts to make pictures of people. And I don't necessarily want to take fashion pictures of cool people or anything, just an attempt of bringing life into my shots. Because I know just buildings and churches and streets are not all that appealing.

Alas, this is what you will see again when clicking on to the Flickr-shots (not in a seperate set unfortunately, I need to upgrade *sigh*). I just feel weird and embarrased when focusing on people in my pictures. I try to, but these are not out there on Flickr, because it just doesn't really capture what I want to do. I'll keep experimenting I guess.