Sunday, 30 January 2011

IFFR part one

It’s that time of the year again. IFFR. Lantaren/Venster, Luxor, Pathe. It’s the air of creativity and belonging. It’s fully booked restaurants, busy cafes and overcrowded bars. It’s snacks in your bag. Lights out. Hope to see something wonderful. Discussions. Questions to the makers.

Unfortunately not much luck for me yesterday. Lantaren/Venster has moved out of the centre and we were rather unprepared in our planning. We missed 2,5 of the 5 shorts in Oh Stranger. These are diploma films from the young film makers and even though they did pass a long list of gatekeepers – no treasures there.

Small Town Murder Songs looked promising, but something went terribly wrong with the sound. No film without the sound. We got our money back, but I’d rather watch the film.

‘The Swordsman in Double Flag Town’ is a treasure once you get used to the voices – the film is dubbed into English (from Chinese). And for the photography fans among us – excellent!

I think we all have expected a little more from Las Marimbas Del Infierno, although it does have a lot nearly hilarious dialogues. A bit too many things unexplained and an end that’s a little too open. I’ve given it a ‘3’ which isn’t bad at all.

I’m looking forward to Friday!

Yeah, blood...

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Today I talked to a friend who thinks The 4-Hour Workweek is a very neat idea. I haven’t read the book yet so cannot tell you more about it. But as far as I understand, the idea is that you only do work that brings in the most money and you outsource all of your minor tasks.

I was wondering which of my tasks I could outsource and realized it’s time I get a cleaning lady again. Cleaning is certainly something that takes up a lot of my time and more importantly it ruins the peace of my mind. My apartment is not very big and I am not cleaning very often or too thoroughly. It’s just that I procrastinate so much beforehand and in-between it makes me tired.
Hey! That´s what I need: outsource procrastination! I’d gladly pay someone up to €10 per hour to take that task away from me. Anyone?

Nothing to do with anything, just a nice song: Martha Wainwright - You Cheated Me

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Running late

I’m running late. Sometimes a wave of panic covers my body with cold sweat. I am running out of time. It took me too much time to learn surviving without too much effort. I took too long to realise there’s no reason to follow a conventional path. It lasted ages before I discovered my strengths, weaknesses, desires, needs, myself really.

It’s too late for me to develop my acting skills on professional level. It’s late to become a dancer for competitions. I’m late with being a young successful whatever. Now it’s more and more catching up, hoping I’m not a well established loser. It’s too late to choose a profession. I’m running late for earning enough money for my dream house or a good retirement allowance. It’s getting late for getting children – this thought is the most scary of them all.

I’m running late and I feel the pressure so bad at times, I can hardly move. I try to wave away the time and the thoughts of it and do some chaotic attempts to move in the right direction. If I only knew what the right direction was..

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sinterklaas eggs

My friend: Why do you have chocolate Easter eggs in January?
Me: These are not for Easter, they are for Sinterklaas!
My friend: Chocolate Sinterklaas eggs?!


Saturday, 22 January 2011


One of the writing prompts for today: write a leaf about having options. If I am to write about the International Film Festival Rotterdam the story would be about having no options whatsoever. Online tickets sales started Friday at 20:00. All good films were completely sold out by Saturday 01:00 when I finally had the time to order.

 I’ll attend two festival days this year. I wonder how (un)lucky I am.

Friday, 21 January 2011

True connections

We feel connected with people who attended the same school, college or university; with people who studied the same subject, who work at the same company or have a job similar to ours.

We feel closer to someone when we know they have the same hobby, like the same music or have the same car.

We identify ourselves with people who were born in the same town or country as we. We identify ourselves with people who grew up in the same place as we. We identify ourselves with people who live in the same country or city. With people who speak the same language.

Sometimes our tone of skin, our gender or sexual orientation is enough to feel a connection.

If there’s so much we have in common with so many people, why are true connections so rare?

Kettel - Church

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Writing prompts

I decided that when I lack inspiration for my blog I'd use writing prompts and just right about whatever subject is prompted. So if you catch me writing on some absolutely random topic, you know why. Today is the first time I have no topic for the blog after I've made this decision. Write a leaf about spooning. Write about what? Spooning?

I checked the dictionary to be sure I understand what spooning actually means. Besides the act of picking up something with a spoon it also means a couple, resting comfortably front to back like two matching spoons. I am absolutely not in a mood to write about sex or intimacy of any kind tonight.

There’s no way I can write a page (that’s what they mean with a leaf, right?) about using a spoon the way it’s supposed to be used. One day I might challenge myself to come up with a list of hundred ways to use a spoon. One of them will definitely be using a spoon as a little shovel in the sand. My grandmother refused me that pleasure when I was about five years old. She bought me a shovel instead. I still remember. I think it was my greatest childhood trauma. To tell you the truth, every time I pack my bag to go to the beach (which doesn’t happen all that often) I have to resist the temptation to put a table spoon in. I don’t do that because I know things that seemed exciting when we were kids can feel very usual now, when we’re grown up. And I don’t want to ruin the fantasy of excitement to spoon the sand into a castle, a wall, a street or a river.

When was the last time you'd built a sand castle?

Monday, 17 January 2011


I’ve read two books of Malcolm Gladwell before, and was quite enthusiastic about them. I didn’t need any readers’ reviews to decide whether to buy Outliers or not. I am not going to recommend Malcolm Gladwell as an ultimate authority on whatever topic. It takes a lot to impress me that much and so far not many writers have managed. But he usually has a point and his books are quite entertaining because of the case examples and research he quotes.

So I set off to read Outliers: The Story of Success. As expected, the reading was entertaining with all the examples and case studies. I read, and I read, and I read, until page 161. That’s when I stopped. Totally lost interest in the book. Switched to something else. Huh?!

I’ll tell you what happened (now I understand it myself). Up to page 161 Gladwell talks about the conditions for the great success derived from his observation of successful people.  Three things so far: practice 10.000 hours in what they became successful at; be born at the right time (which is different for different professions) and grow up in the right environment. 

And that’s where I stopped. I don’t have an ambition to become the next Bill Gates or anything like that. But I do like the idea of becoming above average successful. And at the page 161 of Outliers my hope of getting there was fainting. I don’t doubt growing up in the right environment. My parents have geared me up beyond most people’s dreams. But it seems there’s nothing I’ve practiced for 10.000 hours. And I’m not motivated to figure out whether or not I was born at the right time (year, month, day). You see, I just don’t want to have a proof that I won’t make it.

Ok, ok, I know – there’s much more Gladwell talks about and it might not be discouraging at all. So I should stop being afraid of it and just read on. But it seems my self-confidence is more of an illusion…

What I did in Brussels

Had a dinner at an Indian restaurant on Friday night.

Shopped at Rue Dansaert on Saturday. Saw and tried on plenty of designer clothes. Bought some.

Met a man who can cook wel AND pilot a plane. If he could dance I'would marry him.

Got a bottle of Kinnie.

Was driven around in a white Mercedes.

Partied in Autoworld till three in the morning (from Saturday to Sunday).

Got a fresh croissant at a bakery at 3:30 in the morning on Sunday.

Had a late (14:00) brunch at Le Pain Quotidien (mmmmm…) on Sunday.

Friday, 14 January 2011


“What’s the matter?”
“You have that undercover look again…”

OK guys, when I have that undercover look aka spy look, aka mysterious look, aka intense look it most probably means I am confused. That’s how I look when I’m confused.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011


“De uitlaat is los, mevrouw.” Bij iedere verkeersdrempel maakte de auto een krijsend geluid. Ik wilde niet wachten tot ik op een snelweg door de bodem zak met de snelheid van 120 km/u. Had ik geen zin in. Dus dan maar naar de garage. En erg verrassend was de mededeling van de garageman niet. Zucht.

“Kunt u meteen kijken of de auto de APK gaat halen? Anders laat ik hem misschien niet repareren.” Kijk, de uitlaat is het probleem helemaal niet. Dat is zo gefikst. De APK echter… Nou ja, met mijn allochtone connecties heb ik al een paar adresjes gevonden waar ze je auto goedkeuren zonder te kijken. Voor maar €150. Maar ondanks mijn allochtoonheid rijd ik liever veilig. Bovendien heb ik geen zin in de zoektocht naar een “nieuwe” auto. Zo’n gedoe altijd.

Terwijl mijn auto een lang weekend bij de garage logeerde, begon ik me mentaal voor te bereiden op de minder legale APK. Aan kennismaking met de lokale autodealers wilde ik liever niet denken. Ik had nog traumatische ervaringen van de vorige keer, een jaar of drie geleden.

Ik begon over mijn auto te denken alsof het een persoon was. Een soort zus. Of huishoudhulp. Of zo. Herinnerde me opeens dat ik haar beloofd had om haar te stofzuigen na het vervangen van de voorruit. Nog steeds niet gedaan. Voelde me meteen schuldig. Als ik haar dingen beloof en vervolgens mijn beloftes niet nakom dan heb ik het ook aan mijzelf te wijten.

Maandagmiddag belde ik de garage. “Ja, hoor. Hij is klaar. De uitlaat is gelast, ik heb de rubbers vervangen en de APK ook maar meteen gedaan. U kunt er minstens nog een jaar mee vooruit.”
MINSTENS!!! Van het weekend gaan we naar Brussel. Feesten!

Voor het slapengaan: Emancipator - All Through the Night

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The catch in social networking

So now I’m totally addicted to Instagram. If you are not familiar with it – it’s a photo sharing social network application for iPhone. It has more than a million users and all of us think we know something about photography, can make nice pictures and the whole world is interested in what we eat, what we do and how our kids and cats look like. And while most Instagram users like to believe it’s all about photography, all that really matters are the connections.

“Are these your feet? Time for a face pic!” “This looks yummy! Are you a good cook?” “Your daughter is very sweet!” “How many cats do you have?” “Where are you from?” “Feeling better yet?” “I want this t-shirt!” “It’s waiting for you in Japan ;)” Why would you want to know all this about someone from Norway, Japan, Russia or USA?

Once you’re connected, you become less strict in jour judgments of your connections’ photos. Even more remarkable, once you spot a great photographer you hope they post something personal. As if to prove they’re human. As if that would justify why you’re following them.

Today one of the better photographers has posted pictures of his apartment. ‘My room.’ A computer, a single bed. He must be single. ‘Miranda’s room.’ He’s got a little daughter! Oh, he must be divorced then! Some more photos and we know he’s 35, divorced indeed and he rents this lofty apartment, one of the 100 built in a 150-year-old former factory building. All of a sudden I get this warm feeling from seeing a person behind little perfect works of art, from understanding what’s his life is about (at least partly), from feeling empathy. And while this warm feeling lasts I will follow him and like his photos.

That’s how it works. Simple, right?

My last post on Instagram tonight: Late dinner

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The secret of success

Do you enjoy shopping for furniture? Let’s disregard Ikea. Do you? I’d probably love it, but the sales stuff in ALL the furniture shops makes it impossible. We’ve been shopping for a table and a coffee table for a month now and still we have none. We’ve seen several really cool dining tables for the reasonable price. But once we start interacting with a sales person…

A sales person: “Are you looking for something special?” – a standard question. Me thinking and keeping it in: “No, I’m looking for something so damn usual I wonder why I’m not at Ikea yet. I’m leaving right away!”

A sales person: “This table [coffee table, chair, couch, any piece of furniture really] has a unique character.”  Me, keeping it in again: “Cut the crap. I don’t have time for this. I’d rather move on to the next shop.”

A sales person interrupting our conversation: “Have you been to this shopping centre before?” Me, really pissed off with the interruption: “Yes.” – Resuming the interrupted conversation and walking towards the exit at the same time.

A sales person after overhearing my remark about a bench: “This bench fits perfectly with the table. I’d say you cannot buy one without the other!” Me thinking: “We’ll buy neither.”

A sales person: “This table is 100cm wide so there’s also plenty of space for decorations.” Me: “I buy a table to be able to put food on it, not decorations. I’m not a decorations type of person.”  A sales person: “No, you certainly should decorate such a table! You cannot buy it and put it in your house just like that!” Me, keeping it in yet again: “All right, I won’t buy it.”

I was wondering why it never takes me more than an hour to get something at Ikea even though I have to compromise heavily. And why does it take a month with regular furniture shops even when I actually find exactly what I want for the price I find reasonable?

And then it hit me! I now know the secret of Ikea’s success. It’s not the low price or anything. It’s the absence of annoying sales staff!

It’s been quite a while without music: Berry Weight – Cowboys and Indians

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Gewoonterecht and gedoogbeleid

Gewoonterecht (not quite the same as custom law, but close enough) and gedoogbeleid (something very Dutch apparently) were two completely new notions to me when I came to the Netherlands as a law student 13 years ago.

To put it in a very simplified manner: gewoonterecht = everybody does it this way; gedoogbeleid = nobody ever gets punished for doing this. It didn’t take me long to embrace these two concepts. For me they represent freedom, pragmatism and overall sanity so typical for the Dutch society.

Some time ago I have received a fine for parking my car on the pavement. I spent six weeks making photos of my neighbours’ cars parked on the same spot. And today I used my favourite legal concepts to protest against the fine. In my letter I basically said: look at the pictures – everybody does it; you haven’t punished them so why punish me. Let’s hope it works. :)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Flight tickets paradox

Do you remember the time when you could book flights for a relatively high fixed price and still for that price you’d have to make sure a Saturday night is included? Moreover, a one-way ticket was three times as expensive as a return. Remember? Several years ago this still was the case. Thanks to the budget airlines not anymore. Now we live in a complete chaos which appears to be quite fun if you actually take some time to puzzle around. Here’s a little case study.

Suppose you live or stay in Milan and have some business to attain to in Umea (Sweden).  The cheapest flight according to is €532 and that includes two stops in-between and spending about 10 hours at the airports and in the air. And does not include €15 handling costs.

Well, if you are heading North and spend so much money and time to get there anyway, why not visit your friends in Norway? And while you’re there why not add to your country number and spend a couple of days in a Baltic capital (Riga, Vilnius or Tallinn)? And if you hit the road for a longer time, why not visit your parents who live in the Netherlands? Use the sites like or to find the flights, but book them directly with the airline.
Here we go:

Milan-Umea – €104
Umea-Riga – €62
Riga-Oslo - €37
Oslo-Amsterdam - €44
Amsterdam-Milan - €57
5 flights with 3 different airlines.

Now do the math. Absolutely right: €304! It leaves you €128 (+€15 if you wish) to cover a couple of hotel nights and some meals.

Long live flight tickets chaos!

Monday, 3 January 2011


Happy New Year! I am back from Malta with too many impressions to mention at once. Just one thing: if you haven’t been to Malta yet, go there NOW!

<-- Triq Sant' Orsla in Valletta.

It’s time for the resolutions, or in my case goals. And this year I am not just going to set goals. I am going to plot the world domination!

For that it’s essential that I have an easy access to pelmeni at all times. So if you know someone who is in charge of new products introductions in Dutch supermarkets or someone who can tell me more about that (a supermarket manager?) please do let me know at Any information would be highly appreciated!

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