Sunday, June 23, 2013

How am I

I had a family day today. As always because it is inevitable, I'm asked how I am. What am I doing, what am I going to do. Where am I going, when am I going. I'm afraid I couldn't give an satisfactory answer to many of those questions. But since everyone was asking me, I suppose people are interested in it. So for everyone who wonders how I am, what I'm doing, what I'm going to, where I'm going and when I'm going, here it is!

- How am I -
Considering the fact that my boyfriend/fiancĂ© is on the other side of the ocean and I miss him, good. I'm a little lonely, but skyping with him every day, and keeping in touch through whatsapp helps. Doing things alone is the weirdest of it all. I kind of like doing things on my own, but I wish I could do it on my own WITH Michael. 

But my health is good, I'm sporting twice a week. Horseback riding dressage on Monday and yoga on Friday. I bought a bike and cycle everywhere now so you could say I'm in shape! No moodiness here, no stress at work. All in all I'd say I'm doing better than some people I know.

- What am I doing -
My time mainly goes to working in the gadgets store. I sell stuff there. It's a relatively small company and with a very personal atmosphere. I feel at home there. I actually once quit and got another job which I straight up hated, and the company was so sweet as to take me back. It sounds kind of dull, working in a store. But honestly, you meet so many interesting people. It's diverse, and because it's a small company I got quite a few responsibilities bigger companies would never let you have.
At work
Of course I don't only work. I generally work 4 days in a week. The other days I try to get in as much time with Michael by gaming and skyping. When he's sleeping or busy, I do my sport things, game night on Thursday and walks in nature areas. I also do a lot of reading, you'd be surprised at how many hours of my week go to reading.

- Where am I going -
Easy one. United States of America, Florida, Gainesville. Why don't y'all visit when we're settled!?

- When am I going - 
Yikes, I wish I knew. The visa process has been going for about a month now. But you know how these things work, it can take forever. My estimation is that I'll have my visa around Christmas. So about half a year. That's quick for a visa but an eternity for me and Michael. Bureaucracy is never efficient. So it's a realistic possibility something goes wrong and it will be even longer.

I will visit Florida in between at least once though. 

- What am I going to do -
Well, isn't that a loaded question? That's pretty much straight up asking me to plan the rest of my life. I have a lot of things I want to do, but whether they are realistic is another story. So the answer I give you all is the one I have hopes of actually happening.

I'm going to move to Florida to live there with Michael. I hope to get a job in the horse world there (if anyone can help me out there I'd be really happy!). Gainesville is close to Ocala (a horse area) and I will try to get a job there. Probably starting low all at the bottom of the chain as a stable hand. Then I'll try to work my way up to eventually horse riding instructor and maybe starting an outdoor trips company. I'm also interested in horse breeding, but without an equine education I'm sure that that will be impossible.
Artificial horse breeding
If the horse thing doesn't fly, I'll simply work at a store there too! Hopefully there are stores as awesome as the one I work in now.

There you have it. Lot's of uncertainties. But I'm ready to go now. Not a single doubt any more. At least the slow visa process gives me enough time to fully ready myself to leave the Netherlands behind. Like the Dutch football player Johan Cruiff says: Elk nadeel heb ze voordeel (every disadvantage have it's advantage). 

And yes, that grammar mistake is supposed to be there! Haha.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Feet failure

my expectation of Yoga
Last week I had a yoga lesson for the first time. I went with my friend Jessica because yoga seemed to us a nice way to keep our bodies and sanity into shape. First we had to cancel 2 weeks in a row because of sudden appointments, but finally we managed to both show up eventually.

When you are early, they ask you to enter the yoga room and go lie down on a mat and relax. So this we tentatively did. It felt a little weird, and I really wanted to laugh. Every now and then I glanced to my side to Jessica and it just made me want to burst out laughing even more. However, the room was a quiet and relax zone and soothing music was playing. Laughing was not an option.

The teacher entered after about 10 minutes of me staring awkwardly at the ceiling and wriggling myself in more comfortable positions, and we could all sit up. She announced that today they would focus on feet. Oh dear. I am not a feet person, this was not what I expected. Jessica looked sceptical too. But we were here to try new things, so we went with it.

But boy, did it made me feel awkward. One hour of fidgeting with your feet is 59 minutes too many I can tell you.
"Get your foot close to you and take a good look at it. Look at how the muscles go, where the hard parts are. Now just feel it, acquaintance yourself with your feet". Just feel it, I was feeling myself up. I was scrunching my nose in displeasure as a glared at my feet. "Your feet carry you aaalll day, they do a lot of work for you. They deserve some recognition. Look at your feet and thank them for all the hard work they do". Okay seriously? I have to thought talk to my feet now? I tentatively thought "Thank you for all your work feet, I appreciate it" towards my feet, but my feet responded with a sarcastic bite "No you don't" to which I had to agree that I didn't. I was lying to my feet. An all-time low. I shook my head in shame.

We had to stretch our toes, and then our heels. I obediently did, but right besides me Jessica was squirming and making annoyed noises. Finally the teacher looks her way and asks what is wrong. Poor Jessica got feet cramps! Guess this yoga lesson wasn't going stellar for her either. I couldn't stop it, a giggle escaped from me which I quickly smothered. But not fast enough, I got a raised eyebrow from the teacher.

The feet exercises kept coming. Now we had to spread our toes, and clench them. Now we had to point our big toes forward and the rest back. First lying down, and then sitting. And every single time my feet were in my line of sight, I scowled at them blaming them for this waste of my time.

Now we were going to massage them. A slooow boring ordeal of pressing and rubbing your feet. FEEL them she says, LISTEN to them she says. Lady, my feet are my slaves, they don't need this kind of fawning over. And every-time while we are all concentrated on our footwork, she asks us to track our thoughts. "What are you thinking of right now?".
Well, I wasn't about to tell her what I was thinking off. My inner dialogue was vicious. It went along the lines of "Effing waste of my time, one and a half hours of my life I'm never getting back, this is bullshit, aren't we supposed to stretch in catlike position or something, oh there she goes again with her feet, I can't stand the sight of my own any more! Wish she would shut up for once and do some proper yoga."

And after all this caressing and massaging, and appreciating and loving, the torture came.

That's not how it generally works right? Isn't it the rule that you first break someone or something completely down, to build them back up properly? Well here they lull your feet into a nice content state. They feel all warm fuzzy and loved, and smile brightly at their owners. "Thank you owner, for finally acknowledging all I do for you! I loooove you!"
happy feet
What happens then? The teacher makes us walk around on our tippy toes for a couple of minutes. Okay okay, I can do that no problem. Now walk a couple of minutes on your heels. Oh no oh no oh no oh no oh no. Seriously, OH NO. Try it people? Don't judge, try. It's excruciating. And it didn't end there. Now we all walk on the outer sides of our feet, and then on the inner sides of our feet. Think you are done? NO! Spread your toes and try to walk on the part below your toes. Now claw your feet in little birds feet, and hobble on them for minutes, very long and excruciating minutes. I was murderous. And my feet weren't any happier. The poor things felt deeply betrayed. I do not think they will forgive me any time soon. How can I blame them?
sad feet
Then finally the exercises are over. It was relax time again. "Lie down on your mat, close your eyes and focus inwards on your breathing. Whenever your attention wonders, gently bring your attention back inwards towards your breathing." We lay there for maybe 10-15 minutes? I'm not sure how long. But every time my thoughts wandered to my games. Minecraft, Diablo 3, RPG. Then with a shock compared to cold water in your face in the morning, I realised my thoughts had wandered and dragged my panicked attention back to my breathing. Where I rapidly inhaled and exhaled a couple times in a row as if to catch up.

And besides me, Jessica was fighting her own battle. Every time she felt herself slowly slip into sleep to jerk awake in a spasm to continue the breathing exercise. Suffice to say we were both happy when it was over. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. Man was I glad it was over. We made our great escape and laughed and laughed. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

RPG continued

So I told you guys about the new RPG (role playing game) I would be running. It's called the Dresden Files and it's based on a fantastic book series - read about it here -. The rpg books of it were impossible to get hold off, so my friends (it was my birthday gift) ended up ordering it directly from the source. Then it was sent to Michael's parents house where I would pick it up later. I was so excited to run my first game of it, and to get into the mood ALL my players decided to start reading the series or at least the first book. You are most welcome Jim Butcher ;-)

After long nights preparing the scenario's and plotting the multiple layered plots (which are childsplay compared to the real books, but hey, I'm just a girl in the world) I just finished it all in time for the first session. It all went a bit slow as we puzzled our way through the new rules. We all decided it was a fun night. The second session I was way more prepared and everyone got the hang of the system.

We played, and we laughed our asses off. It was a hilarious session. Ofcourse things didn't quite go as I expected, but that definitely made it way more fun. One of the players, Declan Aylward offered to write a recap of the first 2 sessions. He has written recap's more often for our other games and they are always very nice to read. Good summaries to refresh your memory of what happened last time.

So Declan started writing, and we waited... and waited.... and waited. Finally Declan sent us a message saying he got very enthusiastic and it ended up more like a novella. And when he sent us the whole story it was amazing. The session itself was hilarious but when reading it back in the form of a small book, it's even more awesome. I just wanted to share the story with everyone who reads this blog. A warning though, in a word document it reads 12 pages. So be prepared to sit down and relax for a little recreational reading.

It's also a glimpse to you non-nerds out there of what we are experiencing when we play. This is the story we played out together as friends in our minds. The decisions we made talking to eachother and rolling dice is what made part of this written story.

Let me know if you decide to read it, what you think,and if it changes your view of role playing board games or not! If you aren't going to read it, your loss! Because I think it's GOOD.

Read it here

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Came across this interesting video on Facebook

Isn't that crazy? My mind is figuratively blown. Especially at the end, when they set a white actress up to supposedly steal the bike. Males are offering to HELP her steal it. A white male gets ignored, because he gets the benefit of the doubt. The black male is immediately approached and judged. And the female gets help even though she admits to stealing it.

Are we all really this simple?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Location destination

The destination of our future location is... Gainsville! This little college town lies in the armpit of Florida. I've been there twice and it seems like a cute and beautiful town where you can also have fun. Best part about it for me? It lies a 30 min ride away from Ocala! It's the regional horse Mecca, and I'm really hoping to land a low horsey kind of job there. So if anyone has any connections there, please put a word in for me. Much obliged.

It's not the plan to permanently live in Gainsville, but nothing is impossible. I still prefer seasons and mountains, but for now Gainsville will do. My estimated time of arrival right now is Christmas time. Way long, but I'm hoping it might go faster.

So, Gainsville. I bet everyone will visit me in such a sub tropical paradise! Maybe if a miracle will happen I'll even end up with a TAN *gasp*. The sun finally came out here in the Netherlands, and my body doesn't do tanning. It either does staying white and reflecting sun, or turning lobster red and peeling into snow white immediatly the day after. Such is life. At least Michael is the same. Two white pillars in a sunny land.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bread Blasphemy

Just a quick note. I just came back from doing the groceries and I was shocked and abhorred at our grocery bread. To be completely honest with you, it was close to that terrible American bread! It's not yet spongy, but it sure is going that way. I poked the bread to see which had the hardest and tastiest crust only to find out they were all soft. Bread blasphemy. The biological bread had a medium crunchy crust but for the price they asked I could just as well go to a bakery and get it there.

So that's what I did! And yessssssir, the bakery had delicious bread. Om nom nom... I love our quality bread. I might just have to open a bakery in the States to introduce the deliciousness of fresh crusty breads.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Visa has taken off

The visa package has beent sent! Michael had to do most of it, I only gathered passport photos, a biography form and a letter of intent to marry. But the mail is real snailmail, it goes so slow. It took that package 6 working days to get to Michael. Isn't that a little archaic by now?

I thought it would take approximately 4 months from the moment we sent the package to get the visa, but I might have been wrong. We overlooked one step where it said: see processing times. That link takes you through a whole maze of links but in short I puzzled out the processing time to be between 1 and 5 months. Oh dear. That means in worst case scenario I'll get my visa in 9 months. That's freaking forever. I could get pregnant and deliver the baby in that time. It's ridiculous.

We'll just have to hope the process will go fast, but I doubt it. We have started the application right before summer holidays so if anything, we are probably stuck with the 9 months. It's a known fact all govermental employees go on holiday duuring this time. It's practically required.

I can't be apart from him for that long, we have to figure out what to do. My tourist visa that's the same for all europeans and is automatic, has a total of 3 months that we're allowed in the States. I have used 2 weeks so far. So worst case scenario we nurse that time and smear it out over the 9 months.

This is not a happy prospect. The only thing to do is hope it won't be as bad as I fear. I will keep you updated.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ze French

It's incredible, but I got my luggage money back! Completely. Even better, both companies refunded my luggage money. KLM refunded my 56 euro I paid online for the extra luggage, and Delta refunded 90 dollars to Michael with a cheque for the money we paid at the counter.

This raises my opinion of both companies. I was especially displeased with Delta, but in the end with Michael calling them he got it sorted out. KLM had good customers service all the way through, except when that French guy was so rude. But hey, the French right? What else would I expect.

I suppose that's racism, but it is what I expect by now from the French. The people I have encountered in their free time are nice and normal, but every time I have an encounter with a French person who works (say restaurant, customer service, bus, etc) they are rude. And mean. And short. Just terrible! I almost can't describe how horrific French people working in a service job are.

To Americans the whole of Europe doesn't have an ounce of customer service. But I can tell you there is a difference between the countries. We Dutch like to keep it plain and direct. We don't care how you are doing today, so we don't ask. When a customer wants to pay something he stands before the counter and holds out the item. Sometimes he might even say, "this please". The salesman will accept the item, scan it and say; "that'll be this amount". Customer gives the money silently, and the salesman will return the change and say "there you go. Come again!" The customer will grunt or nod and walk away. That's how a typical Dutch exchange goes when you shop. But you see, we aren't rude. We just keep it simple. No ruining of peoples' day, the exchange just slides in through your consciousness and out again. It doesn't add anything to your life, nor subtract it.

Now if you would go to America, that's a whole different story. Here they might care or not care how you are (some do actually want to know how you are) but everyone will happily greet you with a, "Good-day sir, how are you doing today?" The customer will smile brightly and reply, "I'm doing just great, thank you for asking, how are you?" This will seemingly please the salesman immensely and he will inform you that he is also great. "If you need anything, anything at all, don't be afraid to ask me, I'll be right here!" "I sure will, thank you!" will be the last reply of the customer.

Well, in my humble Dutch opinion that's a lot of energy and effort spent on idle talk. But I suppose it could make your day better. Someone cares enough, or pretends to care enough to inquire how you are, and listens to your answer. They are there to serve you and you feel great. The check-out goes quite similar. "Could you find everything you wanted sir?" "Why yes, thank you for asking, what a wonderful store you have". The salesman will smile and nod and thank him for the kind remark. There will be a lot of pleases and thank you's, and when they leave, "Thank you, come again, have a nice day!" And the customer will reply, "You have a wonderful day too and good luck working today!" The salesman will throw out another thank you as the customer walks through the door and it's over.

Man I get tired just writing about it. Just an energy drain. I understand it, because it actually adds something to your life. But I'm Dutch at heart and a utilitarian.

But now I went to France on holiday. I've been to Paris, Lyon and some of the countryside. I haven't seen the whole of France, but I am acquainted with the culture by now. If you go into a French store you are (like in most Dutch stores) ignored. But if you need help at any point during your shopping experience you are in for a treat. The French do not like to help you. They will make this clear. I cannot give you the dialogue, because they usually talk in French, and it's hard in any other language than theirs to be so utterly rude. But it goes something like this. "Excuse me could I ask a question?" The salesman will at first try ignore you. Maybe you'll go away. When you ask it again, they will sigh deeply and look in your direction. They will simply look at you until you speak your business, giving you a death stare the whole while. "Ok so uhm, well I was wondering if you have this in a size 7..." They grab the shoes, stomp away, and (if you are lucky) come back with the size. It will be given to you roughly and they will either immediately walk away, or stand there staring at you with their arms crossed over each other. Nice and awkward, thank you.

When you finally -against better judgement- decide to buy something, it will take you time before you get their attention. Because obviously, talking to the other salesman is more important. They'll laugh, haha it's so funny. You don't know what it is, you don't speak French, you just hope it's not you. When you finally get the attention of one of them they'll be pissed off for interrupting their conversation. They'll snatch the item from your hands, scan it, and angrily (in French) repeat the amount you owe them. The change will be thrusted in your hands and they will immediately continue their conversation.

This is just an example of their rudeness. The rudeness knows no bounds though, I am not capable of writing accurate enough situations that shows how French Service people treat you. It's out of my reality.

But in short, I hate ze French. Yes it's racism, I'm sorry. It's not personal. I'm sure you are a nice person. But please don't start working in a store.