Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sex and the City

My friend called the other day: "I watched an episode of Sex and the City and got a déjà vu!" No wonder. I don't even bother to watch - I'm living it! Wikipedia: "The quirky series had multiple continuing story lines and tackled socially relevant issues such as sexually transmitted diseases, safe sex, and promiscuity." Well, that's what my life is - it's quirky with multiple continuing story lines where most of those very relevant social issues are being tackled. Sometimes the real thing is much quirkier than the series. I have a friend who follows my adventures as if it were a soap. She calls me every once in a while for a detailed update. I'm always surprised how she manages to remember all the characters for I can hardly keep up with them all myself.
I can't help but wonder: if the series were such a success, what conclusions should I draw about my life?

Friday, 26 February 2010

Money cooking

It's time for a recipe again. Let´s do some money cooking. Here is my recipe for the annual tax declaration. You can find the original recipe (for Dutch tax payers) here.

Serves: one
Total cooking time: approximately 8 hours
1 year overview from your employer (or 1 for each employer if you have more)
1 overview for the value of your house
1 year mortgage costs overview
1 year overview of health insurance and medical care costs
1 end of year balance per bank account (I use three)
1 year overview of the preliminary tax returns
1 year overview of the hours you worked for your own enterprise (1305 hours in my case)

1. Compile the overview of the hours you spent working for your own enterprise. You can use different ingredients for that. I used: my agenda, the company blog, company newsletters and mailings, bills and outgoing invoices. Print the overview.
2. Compile the overview of health insurance and medical costs. Compile the overview of the preliminary tax returns. Print the overviews.
3. Make copies of all other overviews and documents.
4. Put all the printed and copied documents together in a folder and bring that to your account.
5. Breathe freely!


Wednesday evening I had my salsa lady styling lesson. Usually we do a lot of complicated dance moves and I totally suck at it. It's very frustrating and I keep on attending the lessons because I know I can learn a lot, but pleasure is not one of the reasons I go there. Yesterday was a little less painful, though. Our teacher decided to give us some theory which means we had less time for complicated dancing. She let us hear different salsa tracks and asked what kind of movement would be appropriate in each case. One of the tracks was very surprising. For a moment I thought I heard the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the Nutcracker, but of course it was a salsa. I asked who was the artist and she showed me the picture of the album - Classic Meets Cuba. Some moments later I realised I wasn't mistaken, it was indeed the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy! Today I took the time to search around and find out it's a composition from the Classic Meets Cuba CD by Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion. Anyway, at that moment I said: "I'm not sure I would be able to dance salsa to this music. Whenever I hear the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy I feel like dancing her dance." And you know what? Most women in the group had no idea of what I was talking about! They didn't know who the Sugar Plum Fairy was and even when I said she was a character from the Nutcracker, they still stared at me blankly as if I were trying to explain how they can build queries in BusinessOne.

Whenever I find myself in a situation like that I start wondering how people manage to live their lives without having such basic experiences. Apparently Nut Cracker is not that basic...

I haven't managed to find the Cuban Sugar composition online, so here the Cuban Dance (based on the Hungarian Dance 5 by Brahms), just to give you an idea:

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Conversion frustration

My project at Versteegh is moving towards the end. Now we are extremely busy with testing, making last adjustments and preparing all the data to be converted from the old system to the new one. The latter drives everybody absolutely crazy. There are enormous amounts of data to be converted: suppliers, articles and customers. I got lucky too - have to prepare a sheet with 6000 lines of customer data for conversion. I was doing fine until yesterday afternoon all of a sudden I saw that I missed one record somewhere. For 6000 customers I only had 5999 country codes. Help! I thought I was lucky to discover and fix the problem in only one hour. But then all of a sudden I had 5998 customers and 5999 country codes. I've spent another hour today to fix that. Now I realise that my conversion table will need a very thorough check after it's complete. Tomorrow is another day...

Roll The Dice - Guadeloupe

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


A mistake has cost Sven Kramer a gold medal yesterday in the Men's 10.000m speed skating . He was disqualified for skating in the wrong lane. That's what the whole country is talking about now. I've found out about it around 23:30. More or less right after it happened.

A friend texted yesterday afternoon to let me know that the new elections are scheduled for 9 June 2010. I'm completely up to date now. Thanks!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


The Dutch government collapsed Saturday over whether to extend the country's military mission in Afghanistan. The government collapsed and I found out about it full 24 hours after it happened. I don't watch TV and don't check the news sites frequently. Besides, Saturday evening and Sunday morning I had other things on my mind. Bu still I am amazed it's possible to live a day without noticing that your country doesn't have a government.

I don't think I would have managed to keep up this blissful unawareness for such a long time if I lived in Ukraine. My mother would have called me first thing in the morning. A neighbour would pop in to borrow a couple of eggs and discuss current political situation. Several friends would call or text. I would have overheard some conversations on the streets, in a shop or a tram.

I do realise it's important to stay informed even if just for the sake of being able to make a choice during the next elections. But I also realise how luxurious life in the Netherlands is if we can live for days without talking about the collapsed government every fifteen minutes. I love this country.

Ukraine right after the elections: Pension funds appear to be empty. My mother cannot receive her money for several days in a row now.

Monday, 22 February 2010


I looked out of the window into the grey Morgenstond afternoon. Grey apartment blocks, bald trees and cold rain - just as expected. I was staring out of the window. Grey apartment blocks, bald trees and cold rain... Grey buildings, bald trees... wait, there is a heron down there in the grass. The grass was green, but it didn't change the greyness of the scene. The heron was grey. And it didn't move. It was standing there staring straight ahead and not moving. I looked at the heron for some time and then moved on with staring: grey buildings, bald trees, a heron... Oh, there is another heron on the roof and one more on the roof of the opposite building. They stood there, their hair messed up by the wind, and did not move. Next to the heron on the right building I saw a seagull. It was, just as the herons, just sitting on the roof and staring straight ahead. No movement. Suddenly I started seeing birds everywhere. They were emerging from the grey picture, they were everywhere: herons, seagulls, crows, jackdaws, magpies. They were sitting on the roofs, on the balconies, in the grass, in the trees and none of them was moving. They were all staring straight ahead ignoring the rain and the wind and me staring at them out of the window.  The little space with grass and trees surrounded by three buildings seemed to be equipped by a bird guard with several dozens of birds each knowing it's place and task. I looked a little longer trying to discover the treasure the birds were guarding with such devotion, but then I was done brushing my teeth and moved away from the window.


Oh, by the way, Axe Dark Temptation shower gel rules! Try it.

Friday, 19 February 2010


I went to the hospital today to do some tests. I like doing tests in Dutch hospitals. Every time it's a little adventure: cards, stickers, corridor maze, well tuned procedures and fancy equipment. A nice woman at the tests registration desk gave me a little plastic container for the urine. This suddenly reminded me of a documentary I saw some years ago about a photographer whose choice of topics was rather controversial. For example there was a photo of a naked woman holding a penis of a horse. There was a scene where the artist discussed with a model what she should eat to get her poop soft so it would get out slowly and look like a sausage, so he could make good photographs of that. Yeah, the guy is definitely a pervert. What was his name? The photo's look good, though. Anyway, in the same documentary they showed how they shot a photo of a woman peeing in a man's mouth. She was standing there with a man laying underneath with his mouth wide open and the photographer asked: "How are your aiming skills?" "My aiming skills are fine", said the woman confidently. Well, as far as urine tests are concerned, my aiming skills are fine too. When I submitted my container at the registration desk I made a mental note: drink more water!

The guy who took my blood was very friendly. He put a needle in my arm and said: "You haven't felt much, have you?" I agreed I'd felt no more than a little prick. "You did it well. It looks like you've done it before." - I complimented the guy. "That too" - he said. "But you also have very good veins." Somehow this felt like a compliment too.

The needle left a little mark on my arm -->


I don't like sports. I never practiced any sports and I do not enjoy watching any of it. There's one exception - figure skating. I love it! This goes way back into my childhood when I lived in Saratov with my grandparents. My grandparents would watch a lot of sports on TV. Football and ice hockey were for my grandfather who was a footballer in the thirties. Figure skating was for everyone. My grandparents had a B&W TV. Not many people had a colour TV set those days, so the commentary would always mention the colours of the costumes. Somehow that stayed carved in my memory.

My grandparents have both passed away some time ago, there are colour TV's and the programmes are getting more and more complicated each year. And I still enjoy watching figure skating. It's a pity they broadcast the competition live from Vancouver - it's too late at night. Well, I guess I'll have to wait till the next European Figure Skating Championship 2011 in Bern. There will be no time difference then.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


I looked at the list of tasks I have to get done by the end of the week and saw this:
  • Friday 8:30 - appointment with the doctor
  • tasks for the my current job at Versteegh – enough to fill 8 hours;
  • book flight tickets to Kiev, book flight tickets to Riga, order books for my mother, fill in declaration forms, sort out banking issues, personal administration, collect documents for the annual tax declaration – 4 hours (at least);
  • Photobeads administration – 4 hours (at least);
  • write and send three job application letters – at least 5 hours;
  • laundry, groceries, cleaning – 3 hours;
  • Friday 22:00 - dancing
Guess who’s gonna work during the weekend? If you guess right, I’ll send you a card.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


I have this Musik lamp above the mirror in my bathroom. My father has connected it to the wires in the bathroom and built in an inner switch, so we wouldn't need to use a socket. We attached a string to the switch. The lamp would go on and off if you pulled the string. For three years in the row the lamp worked perfectly. Until yesterday. Yesterday I was about to leave for a dinner date, in a hurry of course. I put some lipstick on and was ready to go. Pull the string to switch off the light and... the string is loose in my hand and the lights are still on. I am very fond of my girl power, but fixing the lamp at that very moment was not an option. It's made for bathrooms so it's double isolated and has an extra tight closure - no way I can open it in a few minutes to attach the string again. For that reason repairing the lamp is going to be a challenge anyway, even when I have time. I had a manual for it, but my ex boyfriend took all manuals of all the possible equipment in my house with him when he left me a year ago. We still haven't sorted this out. These things take time, you know.
Anyway, back to me in a hurry and my broken lamp. Leaving the lights on was an option. But leaving five 15 watt lamps on for 5 hours goes against my nature. It's too bad for the environment and not good for my wallet either. All of a sudden a brilliant idea struck me. I took a towel to protect my hands from the warmth of the lamps and turned each of them slightly so the lights went out. When I came back home and needed the light back on again, I simply turned the lamps back. I have to admit this is slightly more complicated than pulling a string, but works for me! I think I'll wait for my father to repair the lamp when he comes to visit in July. ;)

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


"You left me with a big question mark in my head. I've spent a week thinking about our conversation. Why did you say all these things to me? What do you want? I don't understand you."

Well, he is absolutely right. I can be very direct and explicit, but at the moment I really don't know what I want. It's a matter of choice and I have an issue with commitment. I thought the typical role pattern is supposed to be: the woman wants stability, the man doesn't want to commit. But now it looks rather another way around. On top of that all I'm tired of men claiming my attention: "I can't dance with you longer than five minutes!" "I'll kill all your dance partners, so I can dance with you." "Are you intentionally trying to avoid dancing with me?"

I have to stop dealing with men and start looking for a well paid job instead!

Monday, 15 February 2010


I've been to the Valentine's salsa party in Zoetermeer tonight. I came home hungry. As always after I've spent several hours dancing I had to eat. I went for the salad that was in my fridge. The salad was over from the dinner tonight. We didn't have time for the salad anymore, because we had to hurry in order not to miss the bachata workshop before the party. I made the salad of the vegetables that were over from the S(adness) A(wareness) D(ay) Brunch we held earlier today. While I was eating the salad a question rose in my head. Why do I enjoy having people over at my place for a meal or a night? Friday night I had a dinner with my friend. Later on another friend popped in for a tea. They both stayed for the night. So there were three people (including me) having breakfast at my place. There were four people at the Saturday dinner before we went dancing. Three of us came back to my place after that, so again, two guests stayed overnight. (The overnight guests were the main reason I couldn't blog for the past two days.) And on Sunday five more people have joined us for the brunch. Sunday dinner was very quiet - just the two of us.

Every time after I've organised a meal for a large amount of people at my place, I promised myself: not again. Next time I'll keep it simple and easy: I'll invite less people and just for drinks and snacks. And every time I break this promise. And every week I can't resist inviting one or two friends for a dinner at least once. Am I trying to show off my cooking skills? Am I enjoying serving and taking care of people? Or is it a way of escaping the reality? Have I really accepted the fact that I'm single?..

Skye - I Believe

Friday, 12 February 2010

Pasta and chicken gratin

It's been a while since I shared any food inspiration with you. Here's one of those lazy recipes I use when I have no inspiration and no time to cook something new or complicated. The original recipe can be found here (in Russian). Mine is modified.

For 4 persons you will need:
300g chicken filet
300g pasta (spaghetti and tagliatelle are not suitable for this dish)
1 red or yellow paprika
1 small onion
150g grated cheese
100ml cream
1 stock cube (bouillon cube)
                                                                        salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pan of slightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and a little olive oil and cook until tender, but still firm to the bite.
2. Bring a smaller pan of water to the boil. Cut the chicken filets in bite sized pieces. When the water boils, crumble the stock cube into the boiling water and add the chicken.
3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Butter the oven dish. Cut the paprika in small pieces. Peel the onion and cut it in pieces approximately as big as paprika pieces.
4. In a little bowl mix half of the cheese with cream, salt and pepper.
5. Drain the pasta and put it in the oven dish. Take the chicken out of the stock and add to the pasta. Add paprika, onion and the cream&cheese mixture. Mix everything with a large spoon.
6. Scatter the rest of the cheese over the pasta and put the dish in the oven for 15 minutes.


The whole exercise will cost you about 20 minutes + 15 minutes oven time. I didn't have any paprika today, so I used a tomato - works!

Thursday, 11 February 2010


I was busy in a chat conversation when my friend called.
"Hold on, I'm chatting with a friend."
"Is he handsome?"
"?! No."
"Then why are you talking to him?"
"?! He can pilot a plane and make breathtaking photography."
"Do you have a photo of him?"
"Check his Facebook profile."
"Hmm. How old is he?"
"Forty something."
"He is too old for me."

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Front yard

What is the most embarrassing experience you ever had with a person of the opposite sex? It happens to me every once in a while that I order much more food than the man I'm with. I don't have any problems with my weight, but somehow I always feel uncomfortable if he says "I'll have a salad" after I ordered a nice steak in butter sauce with mashed potatoes and mushrooms in sour cream on the side. Next time I should remember to ask "What are you having?" before ordering.

Some days ago I had a way more embarrassing experience. The important lesson I've learned: always keep your man busy. When he has nothing to do he starts looking around. And seeing things. He was wandering around the house while I was making pancakes for breakfast. Looking out of the kitchen window: "Oh, you have quite a big garden! Why is it such a mess?" Examining the paintings on the wall in the dining room and then moving his eyes up to the ceiling: "You should brush off those spider webs." Looking around the kitchen: "What's up with the ceiling? Neighbours leak? What a shame! Why don't you paint it white again?" He was standing behind me when I pulled a ladle out of the cutlery drawer. That painfully reminded me that the last time I cleaned that drawer was 6th of April! He didn't say anything when he was staring out of the window in the dining room and don't want to know what he thought. The last thing he said when he was leaving was: "And clean up your front yard!" I think it's time to employ some neighbour kids again...

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


She cuddled up to me and I felt her little body pressed against my back with her legs between mine. "Are you cold?" - I asked.
"Yes, but it's ok. I just need to hold you for a while and I'll be fine. What time is it?"
"Quarter past eight. Did I keep you awake all night?"
"No. What's up?"
"I'm ill. I've got a bad cold."
She reached out with her hand to feel my forehead. Before she got a chance to do that I got an outbreak of terrible cough. I wonder how she managed to sleep through this all night long. "This is very bad! Shall I make you some tea?"
"No, I'm ok, I just want to sleep. So tired..."
She looked at the cups with tea I've gathered on my bedside table during the night. "It's all cold, it's not good. I'll make you warm tea." She came back in some minutes with a mug of hot tea and left the room again. Bathroom, dressing up? I was half asleep, had no idea how much time had passed before she came in again. "Drink some tea." I obeyed. "I have to go now. Take honey, drink a lot of warm tea and don't forget to eat. Call me, when you're awake." She waited till I produced some kind of an affirmative sound. Then she kissed me on my forehead. "Love you." I heard the front door shut behind her.
"Does she still have my pink underpants on?" was my last thought before I fell asleep.

Katie Melua - It's all in my head

Monday, 8 February 2010


50% of the votes are counted now. Viktor Yanukovych is winning with only 5% more votes than Yulia Timoshenko. She might get a little closer to the finish, but probably won't make it all the way through.

<--This will be the new President of Ukraine for the next four years. [Here I heave a great sigh.]

Sunday, 7 February 2010


Games tonight: usual time, place and participants. I have lost a couple of games (see me in blue hopelessly left behind) which is fine. I hardly ever win in this setting because I'm not quite as fanatic as for example J1. There is a new dimension to our game evenings - a Wii. I have won two bowling games. The rest didn't want to bowl anymore after the two games we played, I don't know why. The variety of sports games on Wii has kept the guys busy while I had my tarot session. Today's cards has gotten me rather depressed, but nonetheless have helped to make a decision. It´s not like I trust tarot, but it does offer a little more comfort than throwing a coin or a dice. After J1 got knocked out in a Wii boxing match he'd had his tarot session too. I wonder whether he'd gotten any answers.

Saturday, 6 February 2010


Have you ever heard of an alpha female?

Friday, 5 February 2010


"Grab the nearest book to you right now. Not your favourite or most intellectual book but the closest one to you right now.  Now go to page 56, find the 5th sentence and type it in your status message. " I'm sure this sounds familiar to you if you use Facebook. I usually don't participate because the book nearest to me is ALWAYS the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Usually the word that can be found on the required location is not much fun. Usually it starts with an 'A'. For example the 5th word on page 56 is 'arbitrary': 1 decided or arranged without any reason or plan, often unfairly 2 happening or decided by chance rather than a plan. What does the Longman Dictionary do on my desk? I use it to look up the exact meaning of English words or determine whether the spelling is British or American when I write my blog posts. And because I blog every day and use the dictionary very frequently, I don't bother to put it back on the shelf in the living room. I usually refuse to give an answer to a 'what is your favourite [song, actor, etc]' question. But I'm sure my favourite book is a dictionary. Any dictionary.

But today there was one more book on my desk. I was carrying it in my bag to read on the train on my way to and from work. When I finished reading it I took it out of my bag and put it on my desk. So now I can actually do the exercise. Finally I can post a sentence from a book in my status. I'll let the world know I actually read books! I rushed to the page 56. 5th sentence. And I found this: "Dat libido van mij is een gek ding: hij komt en hij gaat." (My own translation into English: "That libido of mine is a crazy thing: it comes and it goes.") Hmmmm..... Will this look good in my status? I guess not. Maybe I'll have more luck next time.

Nevertheless, I really liked the book! It's a good read. And a good laugh. Do you know which book I am talking about? Put your guess in the comments. I will send my own copy (stamped and signed) to the first person who guesses right.

Totally irrelevant, but very beautiful:

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Urban Dictionary

The featured word in the Urban dictionary today is 'vaguebooking'. Vaguebooking is an intentionally vague Facebook status update, that prompts friends to ask what's going on, or is possibly a cry for help. Something like this:

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


It's that time of the year again. February. Shops are flooded by red hearts - the 'how-to-make-your-man-puke' stuff. I never got a point of all these red hearted things. Have you ever bought any of it? It's not like Christmas, so you cannot reuse them next year. Unless you have a new Valentine of course.  Maybe I'm so annoyed by all this because I realise there will be no Valentine's card on my doormat this year. Although, my love life changes quite rapidly, one never knows.

My friend and I think of organising something nice for all our single friends on the Singles Awareness Day (14 February). Nice concept, this SAD, a good reason to have a party.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Emotional stability

(click to enlarge)

I was chatting with J1 in Skype when my phone rang. J2. 
Me (to J2): one moment, I have to round up my conversation with J1.
Me (to J1): I'm closing off - phone
J1: Mr X? ;)
Me: No, Mr Ex ;)

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