Monday, July 29, 2013

Lead out, Echelon, Slipstream, Drafting

A yes moment.

When cycling home I got caught in a headwind. It was particularly rough. While struggling to move forward I flashed back to six years ago.


[april 2007]
Location, The Netherlands, Veluwe

I was a student of 20 years old studying Earth Sciences. It was my first year. Approximately 17 students were in our year. Everyone got paired to do research in fieldwork in the Veluwe. Small strips of land were distributed between the groups to research for a week. We all slept in a lodge farm. As is the Dutch way we cycled to our research strips. The weather was lovely if a little windy. At some point my partner Jelle and I  were handing out with another group. We had to get from point A to point B and of course, having bicycles and all we cycled.

Being with 3 boys however, I didn't realise they cycle crazy hard and fast. Suddenly they all cycled behind each other, Jelle called it a "train". From the back of the cycle "train" I breathlessly called to Jelle what the purpose of this was, while I struggled to keep up with the insane speed of the boys. "In the Tour the France they do this, they all cycle in a row so only the front person has the headwind and the other cyclists can save energy." With Simon up front we cycled for a good 3 or 4 minutes. Suddenly he swerved left and dropped behind me to which Friso was the front person. he too cycled 3 or 4 minutes to which he swerved left and dropped behind Simon. I was getting nervous, and was already exhausted from the cycling tempo. Now Jelle was the head of the train. And then Jelle swerved to the left and I was up front. Wind immediately barrelled at me, but I wanted to prove myself. I'd show the boys that even though I'm a tiny girl I can do all they can! I put my head down and pedalled like crazy, determined to maintain the speed the boys set. Only then did I realise that the train was so efficient! Being the head cyclist opposed to one behind it was much more tiresome and I was feeling it. After what felt an eternity I finally believed enough time had elapsed and I swerved left to fall back behind Jelle. Completely exhausted but triumphant.


[June, 2013]
Location, The Netherlands, The Hague

Back to cycling home from work, struggling against the headwind, hardly moving forward at all. Inspired by my flashback I looked at the guy in a bit in front of me. Going not particularly fast but quite a good pace I decided to catch up with him. Once I caught up, I slowed down a little and stayed right behind his bike. Immediately I could notice the effect. Every now I got impatient and felt it went a little too slow. I moved to the side to prepare to pass him. But of course I underestimated the wind again. I got spoiled tailing my one man train! Wind blew hard in my face and I steered back behind him. I saw him look half back, feeling or knowing someone was a little too close for comfort. Yes, I felt like a stalker, a creeper, but it was so worth it! Staying happily if somewhat awkward behind him for a good 15 minutes he finally took a turn away from our communal path!

I sadly accepted this fact and mused if more people did what I just did. Just follow a total stranger to avoid the headwind. While pondering this I put in a little extra energy to maintain the speed I had the whole road, to compensate for the wind. The luxury of the windblock was gone, but those 15 minutes had been glorious. Even though I was now back to struggling and getting slightly out of breath I was pleased.

Then I tossed my head back to get some hair out of my eyes. I noticed a person cycling behind me. But a little too close for comfort. I swung my head around to get a better look and there she was, a girl about my age following close behind me to avoid the wind! I couldn't believe it. This was hilarious. Hilarious and perfect. Flashing back to the moment I was the front cyclist back in 2007 I grinned, put my head down and turned it up a notch. I would take my duty as head of the train seriously! Glancing at the passing windows out of the corner of my eyes I saw she still followed me closely and I felt immensely proud to be worthy of being followed. This was a good day. The guy in front of me had led me an easy passage halfway to home, and now it was my turn. In my mind I was riding the Tour de France and I was bringing the girl closer to the finish so she could make her winning end sprint.

After about 5 minutes she had taking a turn I didn't take and she was gone. The train had fallen apart. I felt a little sad and mourned the loss, but the yes moment stayed. Best cycling moment  since 2007.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Idle hands make an idle mind

I have sent a care-package to Michael! That's a thing we try to do every now and then when we are apart. Make a box, or an envelope, with all kinds of little surprises and gifts. It let's the other know in a more physical way, that they are in our thoughts. Items that we can actually touch and hold, instead of a digital screen that tells you it loves you. The mail system is pretty slow though. It also doesn't help that he lives in a rural area where they don't even deliver mail to your house. They are required to get a PO Box! No PO Box, no mail.

The package got posted on Friday, but it will probably be sent on it's way to the States by Tuesday. It takes approximately 6 days for a package from the Netherlands to arrive at Michael's house. So the package will probably get there Monday the 29th.

This time I kept it small. There are mostly mementoes of our time spent together, pictures, a letter, an usb stick with movies we can watch together (his internet usage has a data limit), and other things that I think he'll appreciate. Even though it's small, it took me over a week to gather all the things. A lot of thought has to be put into a care package, because otherwise it would be a careless package! Ha ha, get it? I made a joke.

Since I got these 2 jobs I have been getting many hours. So many in fact that I have to carefully plan when I can get some Skype time in. Sometimes our schedules are exactly opposite. When he comes home from work and goes to bed, I wake up and go to work. It's pretty rough I have to admit. Never before have I worked this many hours in a week. The working itself is not what gets to me, it's when I don't go to bed on time. If I don't get my 8 hours of sleep I feel like a zombie the entire day. But when I have a morning shift in the hotel, I have to get up at 5-5.30! You try going to sleep at 9 pm. That's crazy early! So zombie mode is hard to avoid.

But so far good. When I wake up and he comes home, we quickly video chat for 10 minutes. When I come home from work and he's about to leave, we squeeze in a video chat. I can't wait to fly to the States and visit! It's simply time to cuddle my boyfriend and harass him in real life. This digital stuff won't do for much longer. Hopefully end August, maybe end September. It will be glorious!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A bad book is your worst enemy

Since the month March, I have been stuck in a book. To the Lighthouse from Virginia Woolf. The book has 154 pages and is quite thin. I normally blow through books of 500 pages or more in a day or 2. But this book is so. incredibly. boring.

Apparently it's high standing literature and a favourite of many out there. Hence the reason I wanted to read it. But I can't for the life of me understand why this book got rated so highly on Goodreads. She writes very poetic indeed, but where is the story? Is there even a story? I don't know, and that seems to be the problem.

 Unfortunately I got this pet peeve where I have to finish every book I start. Now I have had some exceptions where I simply gave up, but I remember every single book I haven't finished and they are an everlasting thorn in my side. So I'm determined to read through this. I mean, it's so TINY. How can I give up on such a thin book. I'm on page 69, not even half-way. Admittedly, the book has gotten slightly better after page 40, as was promised in the reviews. Still though, I struggle.

You'd think that it's not a problem right. Who cares if you are in a book read set-back. Well, on Goodreads there is this book challenge. And I challenged myself to read 50 books this year. I was well ahead of my challenge, but because of this bane of a book I am now behind. I NEED to finish this in order to make my challenge of the year.

I don't know what to do really, this is a problem for me. I want to spend my rare spare time on things I like. But I can't convince myself that putting aside a 154 page book because I can't finish it, is a good idea. The only thing to do is to just force myself and struggle through this monster. It might take me more months and put me way behind my challenge. But what do. Time to man up and read this... thing.

A quote by a famous writer which ironically, has written one of the very few books I have put aside (Midnight Children).
"A book is a version of the world. If you do not like it, ignore it; or offer your own version in return."
Salman Rushdie

I cannot take his advice, I will not ignore it! Sacrilege!

Does anyone else have this problem? Being stuck in a book but out of principal reasons not being able to move on? Sometimes you just have to stick to your principals!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago

Do you ever have those moments that you just feel bitter about the past? I do. Sometimes you just can't help yourself. They sneak up on you. Like a stalking ninja you are oblivious to. When he gets close enough to go in for the kill he pounces. In those moments - thinking of the past - I can feel an overwhelming array of negative emotions who just try to barrel me down and hold me back.

Living in the past is a big no no. It doesn't matter what kind of religion you are part of, what spiritual beliefs you have or if you just think that living in the past is stupid, everyone agrees that holding on to your past brings you nothing but trouble. Knowing this might be half the battle, but you still have the other half of the fight. How does anyone stop these moments from happening?

My demon of the past would be my old friends from university. I cannot think of them without feeling betrayed. Whenever I accidentally think of any of those people, or of that time period, all I feel is resentment. And it's such a waste! It was a great time for me. I grew as a person, did a lot of fun stuff and gained experiences I wouldn't give up for anything. Ruining that by focusing on the negative things that happened seems a waste. And I know this. But still I can't prevent it.

Often I fall in the trap to wallow in self-pity and hatred. I viciously go through old pictures and bring back bad memories and emotions. Fortunately this doesn't last very long.  In the end I come to the same conclusion I always do. Everyone deserves to be happy, and who am I to want to deny people that. I take a deep breath, and forgive them - and myself - for the past. Let it stay there and move forward. Then I feel a lot better and I can let it go.

Until the next time.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

When you don't have to find things to do

When Michael left I was worried I wouldn't have anything to do. That I would probably get bored. I prepared myself to take yoga lessons, extra horseback riding lessons and signed myself up to be administrative help for my riding school. At first it helped and I needed it. Now however I find myself short on time. Working 3 jobs at the same time leaves me a little strapped for time. Surprisingly, I am not stressed. This might still come of course. Right now however, I feel good about spending my time useful and making money.
I actually managed this one Friday. WOO AAH!

For Americans this probably doesn't seem too weird. For a Dutch person it probably seems a little out of the ordinary. I even heard jokes how I am already preparing myself for the American mentality. That's good to hear. But I think the main reason in the Netherlands that people work mostly 1 job is our taxes system. You don't get the "discount" over your second and third job. You get some of it back a year later when doing the administrative tax works, but that doesn't help you in the right now. It is much more to your advantage to have 1 job with 40 hours, than 3 jobs with a total of 40 hours. 

But in a crisis not every has that luxury. I'm very lucky to have landed these jobs, and they are all incredibly fun. My new job, in the hotel, even wanted me to spend a night there. I got an upgraded room, free 3 course dinner with drinks, and unlimited breakfast buffet. I took my sister with me and we had a great time. Here is a panorama photo of our room. For a hotel in the middle - right in the actual middle - of the city centre it was a huge room. 

Today I worked in the store from 10 to 6 and when I got home I took a nap. Now it is time to get ready for working the wardrobe in the club. BRING IT ON!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lovely and Lonely

The weather here in Holland has been great. A perfect 20-22 degrees Celsius and a cool breeze makes the temperature in this city at the beach perfect. I've had a couple of days off when the weather was this good and it was a great opportunity to go out and get some sun vitamins.

The downside of this is that Michael is not here. I'm not the kind of person who has quantity friends. You know, ALOT of friends but not very close. I'm the kind of person who has a few friends that I know very well and am close to. But the problem with that is that whenever I want to do something fun, I don't have any friends to do it with me. It sounds ridiculously sad but it has mainly to do with location and schedules.

You see, I studied in Amsterdam and lived there for about 3-4 years in a period in life where you make the most friends. So many of my friends are located in Amsterdam. I live in the Hague. You see the problem? Furthermore, the friends I have in the Hague all have, without exception, a 9-5 job. I however, have a retail job and have days off on the most random of times.
friends not in the Hague
So on these sunny days, usually on a weekday, I am without friends to hang out with. When Michael was still here I would hang out with him and go to the forest, dunes - not the beach, he hates sand - or wherever we wanted to go. What I end up doing is simply go alone. I have never had a problem with going to places alone because honestly, I like the peace and quiet.

I went to the beach alone, and that was actually a big step for me. First, because I am ridiculously (or realistically) paranoid that my stuff gets stolen when I take a swim. Secondly, I've always seen going to the beach as a group activity. But the weather was too nice, and I am - present tense - too pale to skip a good opportunity to tan. I ingeniously laid down my towel very close to the water so I could an eye on my things at all times. Then I settled down and enjoyed. When idly looking around, I realised that about a quarter of the "spots" taken on the beach were taken by a single towel. Apparently it's not that uncommon to go the the beach alone. There I saw a young man reading, there I saw a woman sleeping. I suddenly felt less like a loser and could actually enjoy my day.

Kind of silly how important I find the public view of my activity. I hadn't realised I cared what strangers thought of me (when going to the beach alone) until I had decided it wasn't weird at all. That was quite the epiphany.

Also the forest and the park behind my house have seen me pass by on the lovely summer days. Slowly strolling around, listening to bird sun and the rustling of leaves, soaking up the sun rays. When I was in the city centre I had lunch in that cute tea house I wrote about a while back. Ate a scone and had a cup of tea while I watched the people outside. It is quite wonderful and I enjoy it completely, but it could even be better if I had Michael here to enjoy those activities with me.

But alas, it is not an option. So for now I will simply have to enjoy life on my own. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cause there ain't no parteh like a workaholic parteh

It's pretty cool, I currently have 3 jobs! I had been applying for other jobs because I need more hours and now I have 3. Can you imagine it? I feel so privileged and spoiled.

I don't know all the details yet, and that will come soon enough. But for now I am very pleased with myself. Earning as much money as I can now, so the move will be that much easier. The downside of all this is that I don't get a lot of sleep. At the moment of writing this I can barely keep my eyes open! This is also the reason I haven't been updating much. And although that's bad for my blog, it's good for my wallet.

The visa is still in its review state, and likely will stay there for a couple of months more. The estimated time for this step in the process is 5 months. Michael is convinced it will be faster because we are so obviously an easy case. We will see. I hope he's right, but the pessimist in me doubts it.

At some point I will have to take a medical examination in Amsterdam, to qualify for the USA visa. The States want you to have a ton of vaccinations and at the examination they will give you the missing ones. So I have prepared and requested a list of my vaccine history. It's pretty scarce actually, I could use a couple of updates. But it's good I know this now, because now I can find a cheaper alternative. I'm positive that if I let the consulate doctor give me the vaccines that I'll pay the highest price. And one vaccination can easily be a 100 euro. Ouch right?

Well, since I worked from 11 pm to 5 am, then slept from 6 am to 10 am, and then worked from noon to 5 pm and then had dinner with Jessica in the city centre until 8pm, I am completely exhausted. It is not even midnight, but I am ready for my soft and cosy if way too hot bed.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Humanity's worst

These are the worst character traits in my opinion. Note that I'm not claiming I'm perfect, and I probably have some of these character traits myself. Why else would I find them the worst? We are always the hardest on ourselves aren't we. So even though I sometimes show them myself, I find these traits in people most unappealing. I work hard at eradicating them and in my humble opinion, everyone should.

Okay, now that is clear. Here we go.

5. Inconsistency
Make up your freaking mind and stick with it. How can anyone know how to interact with you if you always respond in a different way. I give you a hug now, you're fine with it. I give you a hug tomorrow you punch me in the vag. Your child tries to grab a cookie on the table, you allow it. Tomorrow your child tries to grab a cookie from the table and you spank him. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY. Can't you people see you don't make sense?

4. Disloyalty
Friends and family who betray your trust. Often with a thoughtlessness that is beyond comprehension. These people are in dire need of some life lessons, the hard way. Examples are best friends who sleep with your significant other, the dad who always says he'll show up but never does and the brother who sells the car you lend him in hard times. 

3. Cruelty
If you have a need to be cruel to other living things be it animals or humans, something is wrong with you. Learn to control your desire to inflict pain and perhaps you should go see a shrink. 

2. Feeling of superiority
You really think you are that great? You are not better than anyone, I don't care how much you have accomplished in life. If you feel better than others you are by default worse.

1. Judgemental mind
Who are you to judge me? Show a little respect. If you can't, just keep your mouth shut. You are wasting my precious time. These people are the worst, and they are the most subtle. They take tiny little stabs at your persona. The frown, the raised eyebrow, the eye roll. They don't approve of the things you do, and they will make sure you know but never making it too obvious. 

Well those are my pet peeves when it comes to people. What are yours? What character traits in people do you think just makes them the worst person out there?