Thursday, December 26, 2013

It's the season

Merry Christmas everyone!


I hope everyone had a very nice Christmas. Mine was not fantastic but averagely acceptable. The older I get, the less I start to care about Christmas. It's mainly a whole lot of stress for no particular reason. The decorations are nice though.

Tomorrow is my last day at the store! I'm very excited about it, as it is one more step closer moving to the USA. It will give me a lot more free time to get things done. My excitableness level isn't where it should be. Worries and doom scenarios are roaming through my mind. But with every important journey and decision I go through this. It's simply my natural inclination to only think of the worst things that can happen. Thankfully I've learned to ignore the black thoughts trying to change my mind. Examples of when I go through the same thing; switching high schools (this was an EXCELLENT decision), first driving lesson (a necessary evil that I am glad I went through), visiting Michael for the first time, all airplane flights, standing my ground on a principal matter when everyone else tries to change my mind (seriously, that is a hard thing to do, peer pressure is a bitch), going on a euro train trip with my best friend and leaving New Zealand to go home.

In all occasions I was worried and doubtful, but I am glad I went through with all of them. And this is how it will be this time. I know this in my head, but the rest is worrying me to no end! It is all part of it, how can someone move to another country without being scared?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Everybody is busy

Hello!

me riding my bicycle
It's been quite a few days since my last post, but even I can't blame myself. The holiday season is coming and December is a busy busy month. Shopping for gifts, trying to spend time with friends and family and still working my 2 jobs. Someone asked me what I do in my free time, and right now, it's sleeping. I take a lot of naps, to try and cope with my irregular working hours. As long as I sleep enough, I feel okay. There were 3-4 days in a row where I was short on my sleep, and you could immediately tell . Grumpy, distant, less effective and I felt stressed and a little panicked about everything I still have to do.

But now that I made sure I am rested again, the world is more manageable. I promised myself I wouldn't add on to the holiday stress by trying to accomplish things I need to do for my emigration. So far I succeeded in this, but it's tempting. When you work much, you need to be very careful to keep a healthy balance. It's easy to get overstrained/overworked if you don't pay attention, and when that happens you lose more time to recovery than (in my case) I would have gained being emigration productive.

Michael and I are hardly seeing each other these days. Both being very busy at work and life and having our schedules clash makes for an almost skypeless week. It's not as bad as it sounds, because we know that soon enough I'll be in Florida and it won't be a problem. But I do miss talking things over with Michael. All my mundane decisions in life now go without his advice!

Working so much has reaped it's benefits. My savings account is where I want it to be, and since I'll work a little longer in January than I anticipated, my savings will even be a little higher than expected! I need to buy a car as soon as possible once I arrive in Gainesville. My laptop is at least - if not more - 3 years old and I expect its demise any day now. So I have money set aside for that. And just those 2 things will already cost me like 4000 dollars! And then of course I want to have a little extra money to buy my own things, like some house decorations, kitchen machines and clothing.

In these days I have went to the hotel Christmas party, disco bingo night, and I won a delicious pie, but my amazing high heels broke off :(



I have gotten free tickets to the Christmas circus, and I will be going with my brother and his son (my nephew) and my sister.

 My mother and her boyfriend will be going on their holiday in Leuven. That's a weekend I won at work for having made a good "exam" for this course day we had to follow. Since I don't have Michael here, I gave it to them to enjoy.


My horsebackriding days in the Netherlands will be over soon. Coming Monday is the last day I will ride! And my second last RPG day in Amsterdam was last week, and the very last one will be the 9th.

A beautiful night in Amsterdam

That is all.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Visualisation of the dream

My ticket has been booked. The date is 25th of January! I told my hotel work that I'd be leaving. The contract was until the 9th, and I was planning to be completely off afterwards. However, they said they would like me to work until the 20th and thus offer me a second contract of 11 days. Which is kind of funny. I agreed to it, but I will tell them I want to work a maximum of 3 days a week. A girl's gotta have time to say goodbye to all her friends and family!

But now I'm still in working mode. I manage to trim a day off per week, so instead of 50h a week I'm closer to the 40h a week. Which makes a ton of difference to be honest. That extra time in a week is golden.

I thought I would have issues with "selling" my stuff, but I looked around and I concluded I don't have that much. Most of what I have is worthless junk. The famed bamboo stick went to the friend I bought the sticks with. My prized chest will go to my best friend, who enjoys the same style of furniture as I do. The clock of my grandma I will take with me.

Funny story, I actually acquired an extra item. I have gotten a painting from Michael as my early Christmas gifts (and awesome earrings!). I found this cheap but qualitative store in The Hague with real paintings and big too. They had sick discounts. After the true love of our lives was sold before we bought it, we settled for my second favourite one, and Michael's third favourite one.

What I love about it, is that it symbolizes the dream. My dream to journey, to go to beautiful places and find that perfect location to get a lovely cottage/cabin/home. The more I look at it the more it draws you in. I can't wait to unwrap it and hang it up when I get HOME.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's official

My passport has come in the mail together with a scary sealed envelope. It has big letters on it which say DO NOT OPEN. Very tempting, but that package needs to be given to the guy at the airport who let's me in. Better I control myself and not open it.


Now it's time to book my airplane ticket. I'm thinking I'll book it the 25th of January. I would prefer the 18th, but in this case I figure it's better to take a little extra time to make sure I have everything taken care of. I won't be back for quite a while, so all the paperwork, cancellations and address changes need to be perfect. And not the least important, I need to say goodbye to my friends and family. Now the emigration is a close reality everyone around me is telling me they don't really want to see me go. Noone believed this would actually happen. I was always fully honest and up front with the proceedings, but I suppose they thought it would go wrong somewhere. Michael and I got into a fight over the flying date. I prefer a week later and he accused me of constantly putting it off. The worry he has I understand, but to be honest I find it more important to leave with good closure, than to keep my boyfriend happy with a week early.

A stressful time is coming for me. I don't see myself as a material girl, but I hate to throw my stuff away. I have now started project "Find my belongings a good home". The bamboo fighting stick I was talking about in one of my earliest writings will go to my old friend Roy. We initially bought them together, so I figured now (10 years later) he might want the set! And he did! One lovely awesome item has found a good home.

Then the chest I wrote about in the same article has found it's way to my best friend Jessica! She generally likes the same oldish medieval taste in furniture so she'll take good care of it.
Obviously getting rid of my stuff has the lowest priority. When I looked up a check list for emigrations I made my own to-do list and boy is it long. It's good I made a list, it makes it a bit more manageable.

My acquaintances ask me about my plans. Am I lazy for not wanting to repeat the same story over and over again? It's driving me a little crazy.

Yes America.
Florida.
No not Orlando, about 3-4 hours drive North of there.
Nope no work yet, will take a couple of months.
Yes, I will marry him yes.
No, not a big deal.
Yeah it's scary.
Yes I have a home.
I've been there, it's fine.
He's a court analyst, yeah he earns well enough for now.
Oh how interesting that you and everyone else has been to Florida for holiday or wants to go, please do tell me more.

Oh well, just 1.5 months and I can tell the story in reverse!



Friday, November 29, 2013

Working out

I posted a while back about this Abs challenge. I've dutifully followed the exercise regiment everyday and I am very proud of myself. 3 more days of working out and I will have finished what seemed like an impossible challenge. Normally I'm not the exercising type, I rather sit on my ass in front of the computer, or on a couch reading a book. But this one, for some reason, caught my fancy.

Just exercising for 24 days will not bring miracles or obvious results. I am aware of this. So I paired it with quitting chocolate for a while. About 4-6 days into my challenge I realised I was addictively eating chocolate. Way too much of it and too often. Since I like to see results of what I do, I decided to remove chocolate from my diet and take it easy on desserts in the hopes of seeing improvement. The first 2 days I was constantly thinking about chocolate, and I became aware I was probably addicted to it. It does have stuff in it that makes you crave it, makes your body crave it. But now that I haven't eaten it for a while it's really easy.



My body has a delicate balance when it comes to weight. I aim for 50 kilograms, although 48 would be the considered "ideal" weight for me. When I gain one or two kilo's, it is immediately noticeable in my face and stomach. Once, I weighed 55 kilograms. All you out there are laughing, only 5 kilo. But seriously, I looked FAT. I had a chubby face and all my pants were way too tight. Mild weight changes effect me exponentially. Because I weigh so little and am so small, a kilo for me is more than a kilo for you.

Dieting on chocolate in combination with the exercises had an immediate effect on my body. I mean, you probably won't see much of a difference, but I lost one and a half kilo and trimmed some of the fatties away on my stomach.

Good times! Perhaps I shall work out more often. It gives me a proud and accomplished feeling. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm such a loser

I was an hour early at the consulate. I was not late, this was good and planned. The consulate opened at 13:30, so I was cold and a little miserable while waiting. The first one in line was me. A girl I saw and recognized from the medical examination was second. We talked about our visa's, both the K1 fiance visa. Her boyfriend lived in Virginia. She and I both discussed the papers we had to gather and things we had to do to get here for the interview. Here is where I discovered that I was supposed to have transferred 180 euro to the consulate bank account and should have brought a copy of the payment with me. I felt like she just hit me in the face with a brick.

Nothing to be done however. All the other papers she had collected that I had never heard off could not be magically conjured at that moment either. The time that the consulate opened had arrived and an grumpy and expectedly impolite officer/guard asked everyone to stand here and there. Did I have any electronics on me? Yes ofcourse, my phone. Get rid of those please. You mean shut it off or disassemble it? No, get rid of it somehow, NEXT.
If only they had that sign there
Well. I did not know that. Everyone else in line apparently did know you could not have electronics on you. I panicked, made an expensive and useless phone call to Michael who yelled at me and was angry about the forgotten payment. The solution ended up being a café who didn't mind holding on to my electronic belongings. I got back in line (the last person now).

The guards were suspicious by the sudden absence of my previously present phone. I swayed them in the end to believe me I truly left them at a café.

Then a confusing, chaotic and uncomfortable process of putting your bags in baskets and getting through the metal detector. Which ended in me trying to quickly get this part of the interview behind me by walking away on my socks and leaving my shoes behind. At least that got a smile out of the guard, while I hastily mumbled something about nerves and scurried away this time with my shoes on. Obviously thén I had to scurry back because I had no clue where to go because I didn't listen to the guard in my embarrassment.

By this point I felt like I did at my driving exam. I was going to fail this anyway, so why worry. I didn't make the required payment, and come on, we are talking about Americans here. They are not going to go easy on me! It was completely my fault anyway, because I totally missed it.

I got in line as the last one. I saw the girl getting her visa, yay for her, grats, good luck etc etc bye. The people before me all had so many more prepared papers and documents than I had. It was like I was in high school again, and I studied just enough to pass, and everyone else was going for that 10/A+. Well whatever, I managed to graduate then, didn't I? Who says I wont pull it off again.

The lady behind the window was ridiculously nice. That was unexpected. She asked me for my birth certificate and I said to her: Look, I don't want to waste anyones time so I'll just tell you this right now. I didn't make the required payment because I forgot, I understand if we need to reschedule now.

She was so kind to me. She made several phone calls and enquiries and in the end it was possible for me to pin the money. Which normally wasn't allowed. I thanked her profusely for her effort. My idiotic mistake was undone by a woman's kindness. After that little bump in the road there were some doubts over the lack of financial documents (only 2) but it didn't come up again later.

Then I went to the window where the immigration officer stood. He asked me 3 questions. Was I married, was Michael married and how did we meet. After all questions were answered within 1 minute, he informed me the visa and my passport would arrive in the mail within 4-5 days. My jaw dropped open. All that worrying and preparation for nothing. All the gathered evidence and duplicates. It seemed that my 'studying to pass the exam' was still excessive!


In short: I got the K1 fiance visa. Which means I have 6 months to leave for America, and from the day of arrival I have 90 days to get married. After which a whole new process starts to get me a permit and stuff.

Hurray! I got a visa even though I almost screwed it up! The loser that is me didn't end up ruining her own future.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Visa Interview

Tomorrow is the deciding day. I will keep this short, because I have things to prepare. This is the reason why I have been so low on blog updates lately. The all important and all defining interview will happen tomorrow. I will go to the consulate in Amsterdam, where they will quiz me to see if I actually meet the requirements. Emails, photo's and chat logs have been printed. My bank statement lies ready and I made notes for the possible questions they will ask me.

If I screw up, that´s it. No emigration. If everything goes right, I will permanently move to the United States of America, Florida, in January. Yes, that early!

I´m very excited for it to all be over, and me just happily living together with Michael in our own apartment. Say this interview ends bad - which it won't - then the other option is the American Friendship act. It means Michael can start a business in the Netherlands and acquire a visa that way. It's much more expensive, and not at all what we want, but hey, at least there is a back-up plan.

Now it's time to make copies of all my documents and organise them in such a way I can find them in a second! Odds are I will know at the end of the day (tomorrow) if I have been approved or not. I will let you know.

<3

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Medical examination

In less than 3 hours I have my medical examination that is required prior the interview. I'm a little bit nervous, but nothing gets decided today. The only thing happening will be a full physical, vaccinations and a chest X-ray.

There haven't been any updates on my blog lately. This is not because a lack of time, but because a lack of inspiration. Every now and then I don't mind writing a short blog in which I didn't put a lot of thought in (like this one). But I prefer to have updates where I'm happy with what I wrote and pleased with the quality of writing. So as a consequence I have about 5 half written drafts which I decided were not worthy, and that is one of the reasons why there hasn't been any publishing for so long.

But the short  update on my life is that today is the med exam, and in exactly one week I have the all important and determining interview! There I get to hear if I will get my visa or not. Chances are high I do get it, but I'm still a little nervous. All the paperwork is in order, and I'm ready to go.

I will definitely let everyone know in detail how the interview went.

PS. Some comments have been disappearing from my articles. If you can't find your comment any more, I didn't delete them. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Abs-So-Tightly Right!

The 24 day challenge called Abs-So-Tightly Right! has lately gotten my attention thanks to my cousin Jessica! She had posted it on Facebook calling out to her friends to join her and all do the challenge together. I got excited right away, what better way to exercise than to know your friends are suffering with you. So I made an FB event and invited all my female friends.

If I haven't gotten you in my Facebook friends list, but you do read my blog, consider yourself invited to join us. Monday the 11th us girls will start the 24 day challenge to get our abs in Abs-So-Tightly Right shape. I'm going to see this thing through and be sure I'm ready for those Christmas dresses.

Join us!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Written in blood

Well that low didn't take very long (see previous blog). I feel great now! The only thing bothering me still  is a insanely annoying cut on my right middle finger, right by/under the nail. It keeps opening and bleeding, and it hurts. Even while typing :( so you better appreciate me writing this update! It is written in blood.

I actually wanted to give this "article" the title; Mountain. As in, a valley because I felt bad, and now mountain because I feel good. But written in blood sounds cooler,  and typing this really does hurt.

Maybe the terrible and mind numbing pain of my poor little cut shows me the wonders of life! No, really, all kidding aside, I think my "I don't feel good in my own skin" period is over. This blog helped me put in perspective what was wrong with me, and once I wrote it down I could work on it. Such is the power of the mind, huzah.

This was my method.

The weather has been typically Dutch: overcast, rainy, cold. It's nice. I decided to take a walk in the park next to my house, in the rain. A variation of what Michael de Graaf suggested in a comment on the previous article. He suggested meditation. However, since I do not know how to meditate, I did the next best thing. Immersing myself in greenery and nature. It brings me back to the things I really love, and what really matters.

Then, I read some reviews about the antibiotics I'm taking. Man, those people have it bad. Obviously only people who have something wrong with them will leave a review so I wasn't worried. But I did feel lucky to only have my sleep influenced. So I looked at the future and knew being tired for 2 weeks was not the end of the world, and that I should get over myself. Which I did.

Once those things were accomplished, I focused on why I like to work, during work. This brought back the pleasure in working again. Moving, staying busy, having a purpose, helping people to have an enjoyable time, experience or item. Learning new things as long as you want to.

Today I learned how to clean glass without it looking like a snowstorm!
Yesterday I made a salad I was proud of and that people ate!

And as the cherry on top, today I heard I won the ISO14001 test my hotel gave its employees. As a prize I get a voucher to go the Novotel Leuven for 2 nights including breakfast! And it's for 2 persons. Isn't that awesome?
I erased the other 2
names for privacy purposes
Time to stop typing and spare my finger. Until the next time!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Valley

Lately I’ve not been feeling very well. I blame this mainly to the antibiotics treatment I’m taking right now. A tick had attached itself to my leg when I went sheepherding. It was a very scary one, and it refused to let go. The result was that the head of the tick is now stuck in my leg, and not even the doctor can get it out. She decided it was best I underwent antibiotic treatment in case it had Lyme.

Ever since I started it, I have been sleeping badly. Waking up constantly, and having disturbing and very lifelike dreams. As a consequence I’m grumpy, stressed and easily annoyed which in turn affects my work, friends and family. The doctor warned me it’s a strong treatment; but perhaps my body is overreacting a little.

At both jobs I have to check myself constantly. The shop and the hotel require good and flawless customer service and that is a little difficult for me with my sleep shortage. That, is the reason why I’m always obsessively sleeping enough. I need to get my 8 hours of sleep or else I can’t function properly. Less sleep and there you go! It turns me into a bitter old hag.

Whenever I struggle to stay kind and helpful to guests and customers, I have to take a deep breath and tell myself this is not me, and that the thing that is currently annoying me, is not actually annoying. I just think it is because I’m tired and full of drugs.

That gets very exhausting after a bit, constantly having to check, remind and reprimand yourself. As a result, I get even more tired and I get the tendency to snap. Which I have to stop from happening if I want to do my job right.  It’s a vicious downwards spiral.



This brings me to lists. It might be time for lists, to bring some structure in my life. With the interview coming closer the stress increases. Sleep shortage and stress together can burn a person out, and I need to prevent this at ALL costs. I do not have the luxury to burn out at this moment in time. By making lists, I can give myself peace of mind. It won’t have to worry about things it normally needs to remind me off.  

For example, I need to make an appointment for the medical examination. The exam needs to take place at least one week before the interview. Then I also need to keep track of the antibiotic treatment, what times I have to take the pill, for how long, and that I need to make an appointment with the doctor 10 days into the treatment. But I also have to make sure I got enough American passport photos for the medical exam and the interview.  Those ‘to do’ things, are just the tip of the iceberg – just think of all the furniture I need to get rid of!-.

If I make a list of everything that needs to happen and prioritize it, so I know what I have to do first, I think I’ll be able to rest more and stay “zen”. Normally I rely heavily on my subconsciousness to remind me when things need to happen. The thoughts lie dormant and reliably rise up when I need them (like every first Saturday of the month I have lunch with my best friend). But I can also imagine that it takes up room (RAM) in my mind and costs energy. Like when your laptop is in sleep mode. Its energy usage is low, but still present. The advantage is that it can turn on whenever you need it. That’s how I view my mind.


I hope the physical list will help shut down my mental list to free up some room (RAM) to relax. This theory of mine might be based on nothing, but I have done it in the past and it has worked before.  


Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Here in the Netherlands we don't have a Halloween hype yet, but we are slowly starting to celebrate. So my Happy Halloween shout-out is particularly for my American friends.

As a nice Halloween gift Life gave me quite a scare today. And I'm not even talking about that terrible and horrible nightmare I had. When I came home from work I suddenly saw an envelope with my name on it lying on the coffee table. It was from the Amsterdam Consulate. I was not expecting mail from them, so of course a dreadful feeling creeped up on me.

My mom told me that envelope had been lying there ever since I got back from Florida. She had moved it today on top of a pile of papers, where it apparently did catch my eye. But she didn't even TELL me I had mail. I ripped open the envelope and quickly scanned it's contents and got a little sick. The letter had been sent October 1st (it was now October 31st) and informed me my scheduled and final interview for my visa was November 7th.

That's in ONE WEEK. It also informed me of the required medical examinations, which you have to have done at least one week in advance. So even if I had all the forms gathered (which I hadn't) I was too late anyway.

That sure was a panicky moment, and got me quite scared. Did I just ruin my chances of a visa because I missed a letter? A letter, to be clear, that shouldn't have been there yet. The Amsterdam Consulate was very explicit in their instructions. Only after I gathered all required documents was I to sent them a form where I declared I was ready. That had never been sent.

After I told Michael he screamed things at me for 5 minutes (capslock = screaming in my head), and then went into denial. I was pretty pissed he was mad at me, because in my opinion I'm not to blame. If anyone is, it's the consulate or my mother! But while Michael was pretending this wasn't a big deal and he wasn't that mad at me (which he was but yay for the attempt, I salute you brave boyfriend), I was writing an email to the consulate explaining the situation.

When it was finished Michael proofread it and made some changes and I sent it. Within an hour I got an rather annoyed email back from them stating it pretty much was my own fault for reasons that don't make sense to me. But they also attached the new appointment for my final interview. Praise the stars! They had mercy on me.

The interview is now the 26th of November! I'm still not sure I'll have my last form by that date, but chances are about 85% I will. Let's hope I get lucky. I don't know if you guys realise how big of a deal this is.

On November 26, I have the interview with the Amsterdam Consulate to determine if I qualify for a K-1 fiance visa. They will most likely give their answer immediately or a day after the interview. This is MAJOR. My future will be decided in less than a month!

I'm scared and excited. Perfect feelings for Halloween I say.



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tangled thread

I'm not good at critical thinking when it concerns politics. This post is a somewhat tangled and messy thread of thoughts. My feelings of worry influence a big part of my life. Such as wanting to have a little house somewhere remote. Or such as my big collection of survival books. So even though I can't properly explain what I mean, I feel I should write about it, since it affects the topic of this blog. Catching dreams. My worry for society shapes my dream into wanting to have a safe haven in case all hell breaks loose. 

My fondness of dystopian books is counter intuitive. I read to escape from an already depressing world. Because reality is often disturbing. Thus, I read, to lose myself in another world. Then why would I read about books where the world is even worse than ours. Not only worse, but they believe it is paradise while in fact it's the opposite.

Dramatic movies with bad endings are taboo for me. I refuse to watch them, claiming I don't need fiction to make me feel terrible. Just watch the news.
Books seem to be the exception, and I do not comprehend why this is. It's possible that the books manage to put into words what I feel in my heart, while movies do not get the message across. We are on a crossroad where the development of our world could go so many ways. And it is all too easy to imagine that we as a human race choose the wrong path. Dystopian books show me that possible future and make it more real.

But this gets a little too philosophical, that is not my strongest suit. I will leave that to the late night drunk conversationalists who think they are brilliant and deep. However, I cannot ignore the fact that it does worry me.

What makes me write about this now, and not before, is the Dutch government. Especially in relation to the spyness of it all. Big Brother is watching us. Apparently the Netherlands is particularly active in spying on our phone calls and reading our text messages. After this whole Wikileaks and Snowden stuff, all our Goverment says is: It is necessary to combat terrorism, though we are worried about our privacy. But even Ray McGovern, an old CIA emplyee, says we shouldn't allow this to happen. That the extent of spying going on in the world, and in particular the States (my future home!) is not necessary to combat terrorists and in fact even hamper it (source). And sadly, most Dutch people say: Go ahead spy on me, I have nothing to hide.

It seems to me that the Netherlands could easily evolve into a form of government like in 1984. A totalitarian government where they are watching your every move and pretend this is the perfect world to live in, and for the greater good. More security cameras are being installed, our phones are tapped without reason, banned books, mandatory fingerprints, police patting you down without cause in "risk areas", readily access to your internet accounts/public transport data and internet censorship.

And of course the Dutch people let it all happen. We will be the cause of our own downfall. I hope I'll be safe in my cabin in the middle of nowhere when that happens. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Barbie Boat

This is a story about a dream that was caught, but that resulted in bitter disappointment.

Some people are good with money. Others are not. Examples are people who buy without thinking, and regret it later. That is an example of someone who is not good with money. 
Then you have people who think twice, thrice, about buying something before they purchase it. They are good with money. 

I have a theory to explain the difference between an easy shopper and the thoughtful shopper. The spender and the saver. Because I work in a store, I encounter many a family who are shopping. This involves their offspring who will want to have everything the store has to offer. “I like this mom! Oh wow this is so cool, look, look, LOOK MAMA LOOK.”

Most of the times the parents buy their kids gifts. But this is not about them. It’s about the kids who have their own money saved up. They get to buy something with their own savings and their parents are there to guide them in the process.

It’s quite endearing to watch to be honest. When they finally decide on something, it’s usually the most stupid thing I, or the parent, can find in the store. The parent will repeatedly make sure their kid is aware he is spending all his money on this thing. He will not be able to buy anything else. Are they sure. Okay then, go ahead it’s your decision.

The kid will probably regret it hours, days or weeks later. But that is part of the learning process.

But I’m assuming everyone had these moments in their youth. So that is not what determines and shapes an easy shopper or a thoughtful shopper. What I think shapes a person, is a dramatic, terrible and failed purchase. One you will regret and remember the rest of your life. One that impacts you so much, that you will never make the same mistake again. A life lesson learned.

The Barbie boat was, is, my life lesson learned.

The age of my person when this life milestone was reached is unbeknownst to me. It would be my guess that I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old. A tiny little girl, long blonde locks of hair, a piggy nose and slanted asianish eyes when laughing. Always talking, talking, talking. This tiny little girl was very good at saving. She did not like spending her money on herself. She preferred to buy silly things she thought would make great gifts. If she was going to spend money on herself, it had to be something she really wanted. She finally found such a thing. It was on the television, a commercial, about a great and fantastic Barbie boat. It had a little house; you could go inside the boat. It could probably house 3 Barbies at the same time. And as the icing on the cake, it had a blender incorporated inside the boat that could make milkshakes and drinks! It sounds a little unreal even now.


Of course she was absolutely smitten with the Barbie boat. She did not yet have the funds, but she was a marvelous saver (and beggar) and after a few months (probably weeks) it was time. Her mother knew she wanted that Barbie boat desperately. What she didn’t know, is that her daughter wasn’t in love with the boat, but with the blender. She saw strawberry smoothies floating in her dreams, thought of recipes for fantastic milkshakes and delicious juices. She couldn’t care less about the Barbie boat. It was pink, and therefore the blender was pink, this was good. But the Barbie boat was a means to an end. Buy the Barbie boat, get the blender.

Of this her mother was unaware. She naturally thought that her daughter wanted to play with her Barbies, on the Barbie boat.

So there they went, with a big envelope full of money. That little girl is one of the many kids I had in front of my counter. A piggybank, envelope or tiny wallet. The shyly asking if they can have the “Barbie boat”, and then slowly, oh-so-slowly, digging out the money, taking forever to count.

That’s what tiny Doni was doing. She shyly pointed to the Barbie boat behind the counter (a testament to how expensive it was) and slowly pried the coins and bills out of the worn envelope. When a hundred gilders were reached – a high amount even for an adult – her mother asked if she was absolutely, positively sure. She nodded yes; the blender was almost within reach. Nothing would stop her now.



Then the purchase was made. The Barbie boat was hers.

Back home she sat down and marveled at it. Excited, she got her strawberries and got her milk. With a big smile she sat in front of the boat, put the ingredients in the blender, and pressed on.

It didn’t work.

She pressed again. Nothing.
A moment of silence.
Then the trembling of the lower lip and watery eyes full of panic and disbelief.

She cried, asked her mother, asked her father. But not even her father could make it work. And now it became apparent to the parents that it was not the boat she wanted, but the blender. If her mother had known this, she could have helped her daughter, since the blenders sold separately from the boat (and were a lot cheaper).
But alas, it was too late, the purchase was made. The blonde locked girl was devastated. And she hated herself for not realizing that the blender could be gotten separately. Blinded by the commercial of the Barbie boat, blinded by the praises the TV sang. She had spent a fortune. It was a black day, an empty night. The Barbie boat was despised, and never played with. Perhaps she even kicked it once or twice. She vowed something like this would never happen again.

And that’s the day I became a thoughtful shopper.

I believe that if you as a child had an experience like that, that it shapes you. If a family member had bought a new blender for me, or gave me my money back, the life lesson would never have been learned. By letting me suffer then, I remember this milestone in my life now. Everytime a child comes by the shop with their envelope of money, I remember the Barbie boat. And I wonder, if that will be THEIR Barbie boat. I hope it is.

(To this day I do not know why we didn’t just go back and get a working one, my child mind has not remembered such insignificant facts. You would think there would warranty on it, but perhaps little Doni has damaged the blender herself, or did the warranty not extend to the blender. The blender did actually work; here is some proof!)


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Punch a baby deer in the face

I want to take this opportunity to express my anger and hate. In particularly to people who have the audacity to try and demand a greeting from me. First of all, if you say Good Morning to someone, that person is not obliged to say it back. It is their choice. Same with any other kind of greeting. Hello, Hey, Good Afternoon, How are you, Good Evening, etc.

Now I always respond in kind whenever someone greets me and wishes me a good day. However, if I greet someone and this person does not reciprocate, I don't really care. That is their right.

So what happened to me twice recently, and has happened occasionally over the year.

Example #1. I work in the store. A man in his forties comes in with his daughter who is around her early twenties. As always, I greet them as they enter the store. Hello! I call out to them. His daughter gives me the friendly I have heard you nod. The man walks a few steps and then says Good Afternoon. I give them the smile which tells them I heard them and appreciate their response.

But then the man walks closer to where I am and says Good Afternoon again. I look at him puzzled. Then a couple seconds later he walks straight up to me, looks me in the eye and says - very loudly - Good Afternoon. Obviously demanding a response of me. His daughter stands beside him looking mortified. I say, yes sir, good afternoon, I did greet you when you walked in, you must have not heard me. His daughter confirms this. "Oh okay" and away he walks.

I absolutely wanted to throttle that man. How does he have the audacity to treat me so rudely just because he THINKS I did not greet him, while in fact I was the first one to welcome him in my store. And then, after obviously being rude, he doesn't even give me an oh I'm sorry or anything like that.

Example #2. A case that is not as bad, but because of the recent example #1 I was a little more annoyed by it. It's early morning, 06:45 am. I just arrived in front of the hotel on my bicycle in the rain and was in the process of: parking, locking, removing lights and put a plastic bag over the saddle against said rain.

2 garbage truck men are busy emptying the bins. Good morning says one. I respond in kind, Good morning I call out over my shoulder while locking my bike. A few seconds later, in a more insistent and impolite tone, the garbage truck man again says, Good moorning.

I sigh deeply. Just done with my cycle, I walk past them towards the hotel and hiss "I SAID Good morning, maybe you should listen better instead of demanding another response".

To this he simply laughed. Good for him I suppose, for it was not my intention to ruin anyones day. I on the other hand started my working day infuriated by the rudeness sheltered by so called politeness of some people.

Am I the only one who gets mad by the rudely repeated greeting until you respond, again? Do you think it's also impolite to demand a response? And even more so impolite when they already answered you!?

Let me know what you think. I can't be the only one who wants to punch a baby deer in the face when this happens. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Flying sucks

Another adventure in the pocket. If you could call it an adventure. This trip wasn't as bad as the one in May to be honest. But it had its bumps. My flight to Washington (where I would transfer to Amsterdam) was delayed by a little more than an hour. I had a window of 1h and 40 minutes to make my flight to Amsterdam. Taking into account the time it takes the airplane to taxi, the people getting out, finding and walking to the gate where your next airplane awaits and the fact that they close the doors 15 minutes before take-off, I wouldn't make my flight.

Or so the person at the United Airlines desk informs me. I could instead go via Frankfurt. It would take a total of 5 hours longer and I would arrive in Amsterdam at 12:00 instead of 07:00.

So be it. It got me a $7 dollar meal voucher (which I didn't end up using) for the inconvenience.

Waiting for the delayed flight to arrive, I noticed that the delay had gotten less. First 10 minutes less, and a quarter of an hour later it was another 10 minutes less. Now I had the suspicion I WOULD be able to catch that flight. I discussed it with an extremely nice and helpful United Airlines person, and it was possible to fly with my original plane if I made up my mind within the next 15 minutes. She could fix the luggage to go to the right plane within that time frame.

I discussed with Michael - who pulled over on the road to do it - and we decided I would try and catch the flight. That I would otherwise arrive so much later was reason enough to give it a try. But when I went to change my flight plan, the person was replaced by an old hag. This old hag was in the foulest of moods and has never, ever, ever, heard of service. She moaned, sighed, scowled, and very very slowly typed in her computer to see if it was even possible.

It's possible you old hag, said my inner dialogue. Your colleague just told me! But of course I stayed polite and said "I'm so sorry to be a bother but it would really help me out". Not even a smile. After 5 minutes on the phone with someone she finally got my flight changed. Then I asked if she also fixed my luggage. She mumbled something along the lines of "do it yourself" and then announced she had to help with the just landed airplane.

Booo.

My connection from Washington to Amsterdam was made, easily. There was time to spare. But when landed, indeed like I suspected, my luggage wasn't there. In the end it wasn't a big deal, they brought it to my house late afternoon the next day and I got all my stuff. It might even be better this way, because it spared me having to tote my suitcase around the trainstations and trams.

All in all it was a decent flight, but it contained some stress. And stress is never good for you. Another fun fact of the day, I had called United Airlines twice, to verify that I had a special meal request; vegetarian.

Arriving on the plane, I was not listed! Fortunately they had extras, so all was well. Even though everything worked out in the end, I will not be taking United Airlines again. Not because of their chaotic organisation or bad service experience, but because of their crappy planes. Compared to US Airways and Delta Airlines this airplane was ghetto. To America ánd back.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It's coming

The time has come. I will collect all papers required for the visa. About 50% is taken care of. One of the more important files I need is Proof of Good Conduct. Which won’t be a problem for this law abiding citizen. They want of me: a list of taken vaccinations, proof of good conduct, 6 American pass photos and proof of our ongoing relationship.

As soon as I have all these papers I am to send the consulate a form indicating I am ready. Then they will schedule an appointment for the interview and for the medical examination and x-ray. These results will be forwarded to the consulate and soon thereafter the interview will occur. If approved, I then have 6 months to go to the States.

Wanting to finish my contracts at both jobs which both end at the end of December, I will be leaving in the month of January. Seems my rough estimate has been quite good! Giving myself time enough to go through my possessions and making sure all Dutch paperwork is taken care off, I will take 2 weeks before making the big move.

Not only do I need to take care of paperwork and possessions, I need to say goodbye to all my friends and family. Maybe a farewell party guys?

I’d like to add, that people are MORE than welcome to visit me/us. We have a lovely guestroom with a 2 person bed. We have great Florida weather, but also air-conditioning if you can’t stand the heat. And the best feature of Casa Michoni is the swimming pool 30 seconds walking distance away from our backdoor! You can have the best and cheapest holiday here. So come all, come.  But eh, please not all at the same time okay? ^_~

After arriving in the United States of America, we shall need to marry within 3 months. We will hurry and rush this process so I can apply to legally work here as soon as possible. This can take 3-6 months. So 3 months will be the minimum that I will be unemployed. That’s heavy.


But let’s not linger on the problems to come, but celebrate a dream almost caught.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Break the law by doing good



In game terms I'm a Lawful Good person. Meaning I value the law highly and think it should be used for the good. I am reluctant to jaywalk, I want nothing to do with illegal practices and when fined for something I did wrong I do not get mad but chastise myself for breaking the law in the first place. A law abiding citizen is how you could describe me.

Then why, every time hackers do something illegal, do I cheer them on and hope the governments never find them? I don't understand myself in this matter. It's important that everyone follows the law, this will help a country thrive and keep people safe. But when Anonymous bombards another company website because they support a - in Anonymous view - wrong cause, I cheer. When someone is suspected of being a major hacker and arrested, I mourn.
Hacking and messing with companies, throwing personal information on the public web for everyone to see is wrong and bad. Yet still I feel like they are fighting the good cause and are doing good. Is it that I think our own governments can't be fully trusted to listen to the people? That it needs drastic action to put things to light?

Just think of WikiLeaks and Snowden. They are supposedly criminals, but I can't help but think they did the right thing. But then again, by their actions peoples lives have been ruined, people have been hurt. For someone who respects laws highly and abides by them, why do I condone this behaviour? I can't figure myself out. I'm being a hypocrite and I don't know why.

Mainly my condoning of wrong behaviour has to do with keeping the internet a free place. I don't want it to be controlled and patrolled. For example, I caught myself approving of the FBI struggle to seize the personal BitCoins of Ross Ulbricht. Drugs are bad, corruptive and a danger to the world, I'm happy the website Silk Road got brought down. That Ross guy is a person who deserves to be in jail if all the accusations against him are true. But when I read that the FBI couldn't get all his money because it was encrypted through the internet, I cheered.

It puzzles me. The only thing I can come up with to describe my approval of some "criminal acts" is that I do not trust the governments in the world. I may feel like they have too much power, and they themselves do not abide by the law. Simply changing it as they go along to be able to do whatever they want. Misuse of laws happens too often, or unfair punishment compared to the crime. When a hacker can gets a sentence that is heavier than a murderer, I lose faith in my justice system.

By keeping the internet a free place it works like a last and final "check" to the happenings in the world. Kind of like our Dutch First Chamber and the American Senate but then for the world. The government can't shut you out and control the information.

Does this make my a chaotic good person (some who is good at heart, but doesn't believe in following the laws)? I don't know. I still follow the laws diligently, but I have to say I'm happy that there are people who test the boundaries and look out for what they think is the greater good. But then again I'm also happy that the governments try to contain these "criminal acts" because I wouldn't want those people to have too much power either.

Life isn't black and white, and sometimes that's confusing. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

See me fun fun fun fun

People have been wondering what it is I actually do these 2 weeks in Florida. There have been the flimsy and unavoidable jokes of getting "some", and although that is certainly part of our activities, it is not the only thing.

This update is to set your hearts at ease and assure you I am having a wonderful time.

Squirrel counting has been among the high praised activities, and it may not sound exciting to you but I can tell you it most definitely is. There is something to be said about having a day of total relaxation. A day which you can devote to looking out the window, entertained by little critters alone. Especially after weeks of working 50h a week. It is my well deserved respite.

But I am not a person who prefers to lounge about all vacation. My choices, when Michael is at work, are limited, and thus we have made sure that on his days off we have explored and adventured. First off all, the house is not finished yet. Furniture was missing of which - as you know if you have read my previous updates - the dinner table. That itself was an adventure that kept us quite busy.

Gainesville is a big city. Not population wise, but definitely a city which is spread out over the land. The downside is that you really need some sort of transportation other than you feet to get around, the upside is that it has space available for lovely nature parks. Thankfully they also use this available space for such purposes. We have visited, for example, Devil Millhopper geological state park. This park is IN the city itself. It is a sinkhole with wooden stairs spiralling down to bring you close to the depths of it and a looping trail around it. You have to pay to get in, and this money is used to maintain the park.



On walking distance of the house, literally 5 minutes walking if not less, is the Ring Park. Perhaps not a State Park, but it is even more beautiful than the Millhopper! And free. It consists of a long road that is available for dogs and their owners to walk on, a flower garden (even a fish pond) and a long winding creek that passes through the whole park and followed by hiking trails. Its water bubbles up from underground in several places and is very shallow with tiny sandy beaches, fishes and pebbles in its bends.
Ring Park

We have graced Manatee Springs with our presence. But alas, there were no manatees to be seen. Those take refuge in the springs waters during the winter time. We did see a small alligator and the wonderful spring itself. So blue, cold and deep. I was amazed by it. Michael said all springs look like that. I marvel at it still. What was even more frightening was that people actually recreationally swim in there, even though the alligators are lurking. I suppose the water is so clear he can't sneak up on you. Chomp chomp?


alligator



Then 3 days of where Michael was hard at work. I swam in the swimming pool that is a 30 seconds walk from our backdoor, took walks in the Ring Park and daringly took the bus to downtown to lunch with Michael.

downtown
swimming pool
Next was Paynes Prairie Reserve, also a State Park. And BIG! Full of wildlife and long hikes. Paynes Prairie hasn't seen the last of me yet. I plan to walk there many miles yet. Forest bordering stretched out plains where wild horses, bison and alligators roam. Not that I saw any.


Saint Augustine, a city next to the Atlantic ocean is one of the few cities with historical sites. You could almost call it "quaint". The Spanish influence is quite noticeable and to be honest I thought it was quite cool that there were still remnants from 500 years ago when they first landed. They even build a fort. It was closed because it is a National "park" but you can't have everything. The plans to swim were thwarted by flags, but can you imagine the water was 80F? That's almost 27 degrees Celcius! 2 flags were flying in the gentle breeze, a red one for dangerous current, just one step below DO NOT SWIM ARGGHHH, and a purple one which told us DANGEROUS MARINE WILDLIFE. Which to me, translates to sharks, sharks and deadly jellyfish. I went with my feet in the water and dreamed away for a while, swimming will have to happen another time. When I don't risk being eaten by a shark.

Fort closed due to shut down

The one time
Michael takes
a picture...
Beautiful Floridian beach





Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blizzards and hurricanes

Sitting out here on Michael's parents porch, around 27 degrees celcius in the evening time, makes me wonder how South Dakota can be covered in layers of snow. Tropical storm Karen is on it's way to hit the land, and even stands a tiny chance to turn into a hurricane. So in the North we have blizzards and in the South of the USA we have tropical storms who are potential hurricanes!

It just shows how big the United States of America is. I come from a tiny country, if it rains in one place it will rain in the other. If it's snowing, it's snowing everywhere. But here it's so big and vast, every state is practically their own country. With a different climate. And that's a foreign concept to me.

Person A lives in the USA on October 1st 2013 and so does person B. But A is hiding in his house with the airconditioning on because there's a heatwave, and person B is hiding in his house because the door is blocked by a meter of snow.

I'm happy I'm here in the South, swinging away in a perfect temperature. Wearing a t'shirt, shorts and flipflops. I don't even have a jacket with me.

South Dakota can keep their snow.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Squirrels are more fun than ducks

I'm lying here on the sofa, in front of our open backdoor. Basking in the sun like a cat. I look outside and I see beautiful trees. They are deciduous but I don't think I've seen them in the Netherlands before. Around the branches of these elegant trees, tufts of moss are artfully draped. It gives a fairytale feeling. A little too pretty to be normal.

Every now and then a branch bops up and down and the leaves rustle. A squirrel gnaws on a nut, his little paws holding it and his little teeth biting it. Another squirrel vaults on his branch, and the first one looks up in alarm. The nut disappears and he scampers away. Its like he's made out of paper, he moves so lightly. His tail points straight and stiff behind him. My guess is it's a balance thing.

Squirrels on the ground look up at the sudden movement, see it's just their squirrel friend and continue to dig in the ground. What they are exactly doing is a mystery to me. Digging hidden nuts up. Or hiding them away for the winter?

By the grace of their tails they seem to move like a wave. Hop hop, smell the ground, hop hop smell the ground. He finds a nut, sits on his hind legs, tail arched behind him and nibbles on it. Another suspiciously glares at the sky. Maybe a drop of rain hit him on the head? I would glare too.

3 of them scamper around the thick trunk of a tree, in what I assume is play. Then a human walks by. All in sight vanish, camouflaged and frozen. If you look well, you can see the little eyes peering at the human, assessing the danger.

I stretch on the sofa and get up to get myself an iced tea. The little creatures ignore me.

Squirrels are so darn more interesting than ducks.



Squirrels, wanna, they wanna have fun, squirrels

Wanna have fun
They just wanna, they just wannahaaahaaa
They just wanna, they just wannahaaahaaa
Squirrels wanna, wanna have fun squirrels.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Malfunction

Things have been going a little weird since I'm back. Everything feels quite natural and that's good. But there have been talks and things have been said and I'm not sure what I think about all that. So I don't really know what to do. Right now I'm just trying to enjoy the vacation and the 4 days off I have with Michael. No use in fighting and ruining our relax time. 

I'm leaving it in limbo for now.

We've bought 2 little bookcases for only 15 dollars! It's very nice dark wood, I'll take a picture!

At first we bought one, to put besides my side of the bed. I constantly have to put my water bottles and phone on the floor, it's a little inconvenient. When we saw how good the quality for the price was, we decided to put it on the living room instead. But when putting it together, Michael accidentally put the bottom plank upside down. And the bottom of the plank is light brown instead of dark brown. Unfortunately  he already hammered the nails in there so there was no repairing it. Or, as he himself said: High Risk, Low Reward.

Thus we bought another one for the living room, and put the failed bookcase in the bedroom where noone will see it but us. 

Next, we had the problem of not having a dinner table and chairs. I myself value dinner at a table with the tv off, highly. It's very important to me. Dinner time is the time where you sit with each other or your family and have a little quality time. Sitting on a couch with your plate in your lap, looking at the tv, does not qualify as quality time to me. So we were hunting for a good deal on a dining set.

We visited a lot of places but in the end settled a table in Walmart and separate chairs in Walmart.
There was a mix up though, which resulted in us getting only one set of chairs for the price presented. The other set we would have to buy for 30 dollars more. Yeah... that's not going to happen. So we bought one set. We will go back today, to see if the lady was right or if the offer is still going and buy another set. If we can't get another set, we will bring the chairs we already bought back and search for something else. Michael doesn't mind having 2 nice chairs and then buying 2 uglier ones, but that's a no-go for me. You just CAN'T have 4 chairs at a dinner table that don't match.

So we'll see! I'll let you know if we manage to get the pretty chairs. 

God I even bore myself with this blog, my apologies. Homely things going on here, and they aren't always interesting.