Monday, April 29, 2013

The End or the Start?


This is it then, the last day. Waking up was a big deal. We both looked at each other and said, this is the last day. In 18 hours we are on the airplane. My dad texted me at 6.30 AM warning me about the sporadic trains going to Brussel. I guess he thought we were going today, but it gave me a proper heart attack. What if I had gotten the date wrong and he remembered it right? I said this out loud, but Michael ignored me. So I just shrugged it off and went back to sleep. We would have been too late anyway if we left at that moment.
first packing attempt


So now the final things to do. Finish packing, cleaning up, getting the last items we need for our trip. It's nerve wrecking. Travelling itself to start with, makes me nervous. The day in advance I think I have to pee every hour, I keep shaking my hands to get the tingling feeling out of them and I have panicky moments of thinking alp the reasons that could make me miss my flight. And that's when I go on holiday! Now it's a much bigger deal, we are effectively migrating Michael back to the States.


The biggest concern will be customs. Michael might have a hard time in Brussels and I might have a hard time in Atlanta. You never know when they randomly pick you out and interrogate you. At least we have a long lay-over so it won't be a problem even if they are wondering why I have a second pair of underwear in my hand luggage (CAUSE IT'S HYGIENIC OK?!).

It's time to get down to business. And like Michael and Michael's friend Sean would say: Let's fuck this chicken.

our last day together in the Netherlands

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Story Glory

I wrote this story when I was 18 years old, 8 years ago. It was my first and pretty much my only short story. Over the years I've made little tweaks here and there to improve the story and I'd like to share it with you. Writing is a passion of mine, and it's my dream that one day I'll finish writing a book. Not only finish a book, but hope that my book will actually change and affect peoples lives. It's a big dream, and you gotta start somewhere. This is where I started.

I would like it very much if you could leave your opinion in the comments. Thank you!




Lucy’s Adventure

Darkness was all around. Lucy reached out her hands, looking for the door. She felt the rough structure of the wall, rubbing against her fingers. It should be close. Her hands sliding over the wall, she came to a stop. An iron door cling blocked Lucy’s hand from moving further. She sighed with relieve. Grasping the cold metal, she pushed the door open.

She immediately sensed that something was wrong. An unnatural rotten smell hit her like a wall. It crawled into her nose, and it spread throughout her body. It was sickening. She recoiled slightly. A cold crept into Lucy and her hands turned clammy. The meeting was supposed to be here but everything was dark… Too dark. She wiped perspiration from her face. Was the Earl in there? She doubted it. Lucy held her breath as to not breathe in the poisonous air. She listened if she could hear any sounds that would tell her if anyone, or anything was in the room. But nothing but deadly silence was around her.
The Earl wasn’t here.
Lucy gasped for breathe and immediately gagged, the stench was unbearable. What was going on? She was not sure she wanted to know. Not where the Earl was and not what the source of that stench was. She felt her heart beating in her throat and could hear nothing else. Lucy swallowed hard, it sounded as a thunderbolt in the stillness. Feeling dizzy, Lucy staggered back and reaching for the wall behind her she slowly moved away. It was for the best if she would get the hell out of here.
Steve could investigate what went wrong, tomorrow.
If she were to make it out of here.

Lucy let of go the wall and turned around to run back. Though while turning, everything spun twice as fast as it actually should have. She tried to grab the wall to get her balance back but collapsed on the floor. Nausea swept over her. Vile gall in her mouth made her vomit. Lucy moaned. She dragged herself back to the wall, and tried to close the door to stop the stench from getting to her. Although she felt weak and miserable she was able to get up and closed the door with a loud bang. She heard something stir inside the cursed room and her heart skipped a beat. It was all the motivation she needed, slightly swaying, she started to run. Her footsteps echoed in the pitch black hall. Scared by the sound of her own footsteps, she began to ran even faster. Not far now.
Placing her foot on a loose stone, Lucy lost her balance again. A loud thump followed after she hit the floor. Everything went wrong! Everything was wrong! Her wrist throbbed with pain. Worthless is what she was. She blinked hard, to stop her tears from coming, but it didn’t work. She lay there on the floor crying.

Then, her crying stopped. Time almost seemed to stop. Holding her breath and ignoring the pain in her wrist she listened for sounds. Now far behind her she heard scratching at the door. The iron creaked while the door cling moved downwards. Lucy wiped her tears away. It wasn’t the time. Silently she got up onto her feet. Holding her bruised wrist she sneaked towards the exit, careful not to make a sound. A vaguely silver glister told her the exit was a few meters in front of her. Finally! She threw away all caution and ran to the door. Reacting on her movement, the door far back slammed close and heavy breathing announced something coming.

Lucy panicked and threw herself at the exit, and it flew open. Gasping for breath, which she only now realised she had been holding, she locked the door. A soft moonlight and a gentle breeze welcomed her. It was very much time to go back. Duke won’t be happy.
-
Please leave a comment with what you think of my first short story, written 8 years ago.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Time flees

Three more days until we leave the Netherlands. It's been stressful for me, but mainly for Michael. It's my job not to mention the fact that we are leaving. When we think about it, it hits us hard. We already had several final goodbyes and that can get pretty heavy.

You have to understand that we Dutch are a sober people. We don't hug a lot and we try to keep things light. So when you say your final goodbyes and everyone hugs each other and says they'll miss you, that's very emotional. At least it's incredibly good to hear all the kind words everyone tells Michael. It's difficult to leave everything behind you know. But when you hear what you mean to the people you got to know, it feels good at the same time. He has become a part of their lives, and friends and family have taken him in their hearts. For them it's sad to see him leave not knowing when they'll see him again.

That's the hardest thing for me. It tears at me that I don't know exactly how long we'll be apart. I know we'll be alright, we've done this before. But I will miss my boyfriend so much. These are the things we try not to think about.

With brute force I set my mind at our coming flight. Let's think of practical things and deal with the absence when it's arrived. Carpe diem.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My wings have no feathers

Just to make this clear. I'm not afraid of flying. 
warning: this is a really long blog



That said, I am someone who has a strong sense of survival. Whatever is going to happen, whatever is gonna go down, I´ll be one of the people who survive it. The key is preparedness. I have a stack of at least 10 books solely based on how to survive certain situations. A simple small SAS survival book, a "when shit hits the fan in the whole world" survival book, books which teach you what to do if you get lost while hiking and so on. They aren't just decoration or for my piece of mind, I've read most of them and glance through them every once in a while.

It's easy to think you are invulnerable, or that "those kind of things" don't happen to you. But they can happen to you. Everyone thinks they won't fall in a crevice while hiking or that they won't get stalked by some rapist. But it could be you who breaks their leg and gets stranded on a mountain while it storms and it could be you who gets kidnapped in a foreign country and executed on television. That's the brutal truth of it.

Enough scaring.

The important thing is that I am aware of this fact and thus I prepare myself mentally what to do if such an occasion occurs. Am I being paranoid? Only if nothing happens to me. If anything bad does happen and my preparedness helped get me out of that situation I am suddenly smart for it. Don't blame me for wanting to err on the side of caution. I'd rather be made fun of and never need my preparation than die/suffer unnecessarily because I went full ostrich mode on the world.


But why am I here ranting about this on my blog. My blog that's supposedly about my transition of moving from the Netherlands to the States. Well, obviously I am going to fly there. As a matter of fact, in exactly one week I'll be on an airplane with the destination Florida! And every time I get on an airplane I ask myself, what if we crash? So I have read up on the subject and prepared myself. Read on if you wish to live, puny mortals.

The chance that you are in an airplane that crashes is 1 in 9 million. Quite low, although still higher chances than winning a lottery. However, it's completely out of your hands if an airplane crashes or not. So it could definitely happen that you got unlucky and bam, engines catch on fire. Whatever safety measure they have for solving that is naturally not working, cause why would it. Now what do you do!

Let's stop there and rewind.

What do you do is the wrong question. Maybe not the wrong question, but you already should have done something before this all went down. Mainly, the seat selection. Don't buy all those airplane companies when they say that it doesn't matter where you sit. It does.

A couple studies have been done based on the data of already crashed airplanes, and a study has been done where they crashed an airplane on purpose with dummies in it. First of all, the site Popular Mechanics has poured over all the details of old plane crashes. You can read their conclusions here. But I'd like to summarize it for you.
Survival rates for various parts of the passenger cabin, based on an analysis of all commercial jet crashes in the United States since 1971 where detailed seating charts were available. (Illustration by Gil Ahn. Diagram Courtesy of seatguru.com.)
Long story short, sitting in the back significantly increases your chances of survival when the planes crashes to the ground/water. The first class and business class who are in the front have the worst chances of survival of all the seats. So that's pretty clear.

Then there are other studies which show where you are better of sitting in case of a fire.
In an article in the daily mail it describes that when seated more than 6 rows from an exit it increases the chances to perish. Though when you look at it logically, sitting close to an emergency exit will increase your chances in whatever emergency there is, not just with a fire. The picture above shows your survival chances based on seating areas. Apparently when you solely look at fires, being at the front is more favourable. This article also mentioned a marginal difference in your survival chances depending if you have a window seat or an aisle seat. 6% increased odds if you sit at the aisle.

Third, a documentary The Crash has done a test by crashing an airplane with dummies and analysing the data. The Telegraph wrote an article about it here. Now one test doesn't say much, but it's results support the study of Popular Mechanics.
"The Crash" found that the first eleven rows were completely ripped apart with a force of 12G. The back of the airplane felt forces around 6G. Their conclusions were that while none of the first class would have survived, 78% of the economy class would have, and the further back they would have been sitting the better their chances.

They also experimented with dummies in 3 different positions. One in the proper seatbelt and bracing position, one with a seatbelt but sitting normally and the last one without a seatbelt and sitting normally. The unfastened dummy would have died, the one in a normal position would have suffered severe head injuries and the dummy in a "proper" position would have been fine. So don't underestimate those seatbelts! Also worth mentioning, make sure your seatbelt is snug and as low on your abdomen as possible. That part of your body is better suited to absorb shocks (same counts for seatbelts in cars).

So how I have interpreted all this information is to sit within 5 rows of the exit situated nearest the rear end of the airplane and to have an aisle seat. And thus when we ordered tickets and could choose seats, that's exactly where Michael and I will be sitting!

So let's go back to the future again. The engines catch on fire and you are in the perfect seat. What do you do! Well thankfully the site wikihow wrote an article where they describe how to best increase your odds of survival. It all comes down to paying attention and preparing yourself. You can read the wikihow article here: http://www.wikihow.com/Survive-a-Plane-Crash. I suggest everyone at least read it once. You never know when that extra tidbit of information might save your life.

I will hopefully never need any of this information. But coming next week, I'm prepared. No crash is going to get the best of  me.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Swan Market

Today Michael, my mom and I went to the Swan Market. My sister and her husband own a little catering business (Kok au Van) and sold biological burgers there. So we hopped in the car and drove to Rotterdam to take a look. It was way bigger than I expected. Stands were eeeverywhere. The best part of that all, was that most stands sold home-made or self-designed products. I was especially inspired by all the jewellery stands. One stand (mcreate) even sold horsehair products! Imagine my fascination. How they made the bracelets was so ingenious! I might use that myself if I can figure out how they did it.

After this stand though, my mom and Michael hared of back to the burgerstand.
In case I wasn't clear about this in my earlier blogs, Michael has worked with Marit and Rolf for over a year on festivals. Kok au Van sells burgers made of animal friendly meat. And yes, of course slaughtering animals is not friendly, but the butcher they get their meat from makes sure the animals have a great life before they become snacks. Guilt free meat eating! And if you don't eat meat - like me - then they also sell home-made vegetarian burgers made of chickpeas.

The fresh burgers get cooked on a big grill with lavastones, and the whole festival season of 2012 Michael was the grill chef. All 3 slaved away and invested a lot of their time in Kok au Van. However, Michael goes to the States at the end of this month. My sister knew this and thus they knew he wouldn't be around to help. But when we visited them on the Swan Market today they were sporting a huge line of people. They were so popular! My sister hadn't completely counted on that many people wanting burgers, so when Michael offered to help them out for one last time they happily accepted.

So there he was behind the grill once more, completely in his element. That was so good to see, it warmed my heart. It was a good and touching goodbye to the work he did while he lived in Holland. One last time he saw Rotterdam, and one last time he worked with Marit and Rolf in Kok au Van.
there is Michael to the right
So what I tried to say with this little interlude to Michael's goodbye is that I roamed the market alone! The plan was to look and shop at the stands with the 3 of us (mom, Michael, me) but both my mom and Michael were helping out Kok au Van. I wasn't helping out because I'm not much use anyway, so I figured I'd get out of the way.

So Michael and my mom tagged along on the market up to the horsehair product stand, and then went back to eat a burger. After I was done wandering one section of the market I came back and found them helping out. I hovered awkwardly for a little while before deciding to get back to the cute stands.

On my facebook page I uploaded a whole album of the stands I found particularly cool. You can find the album here. You don´t have to be logged in to see them. There are too many stands that caught my attention to post them all in this blog.

It was a great day, and when Kok au Van sold out early we left for home. There, all 3 of us sat in the sun soaking up vitamine D and napping away while listening to the screaming kids of our neighbours and the whistling of the birds.

A good good day.








Friday, April 19, 2013

Short term time period type

Every day is a second last day now. Yesterday we had our second last meet up with our rpg friends. Today will be the second last family dinner. Both Michael and I are easily annoyed and angry with each other the closer the day comes that we fly to the States. Who knows how long it will be before he sees the Netherlands again. Who knows how long it will be before I see Michael again.

I'm glad that I got two more weeks in Florida with him. But even that comes too soon. Being apart for such a long time is going to suck. We both know it's what has to happen before I can move to the States. It's like the usual sayings in Dutch: "After the rain sunshine will come." We have to man up now to get our reward later.

Unfortunately looking at the future and knowing it's the best thing for the long run, isn't one of my strong suits. I'm more of a, living in the moment type. Well, maybe not living in the moment but more living in the short term time period type. If I were truly living in the moment I'd be busy enjoying every moment I still have with Michael while he's here! But all that's going through my mind is that he won't be here in eleven days!

Enough of that. I need to focus more on the positive. Because sitting here and having a stagnant life isn't going to make us any happier. So even though we will probably be depressed for a short while (relatively), Michael will pave the way for our future together. Something I should celebrate instead of complain about!






Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sammiches

I'll have you know I'm a lazy person, a sloth even. Yeah, I'm not afraid to admit it. When I come home, I take off my shoes and throw them wherever I happen to walk or sit. Just like that. Not even looking where they land. You know what? Taking those socks off too. Where do I leave them? Doesn't matter, wherever, as long as they are not in my direct line of sight.
Look! It's a Slothoni!

After taking a shower, do I clean out the drain? I try to. I look at it and go. Alright  it's time to get a tissue and clean out the shower drain. How bad is it. Just a couple of hairs? Screw it then, no one will notice. Is it really full and clogging the water, well I suppose I can reach over to get a cottonwad, bend all the way down to the drain, and wipe the hairs away. That'll be one of my better non lazy days.

When I go to bed, I undress as I walk to the bed. I throw an article of clothing every one meter or so. The whole floor lies scattered with clothing I carelessly discard. I don't care, it gives me a better view of my wardrobe. Floor > closet. That is the harsh reality that is mine.

And somehow, Michael still loves me and lives with me. I'm amazed at it myself. Of course I try and clean up after myself, but my laziness is ingrained into me. It's a slow process improving myself. 

So when I wake up in the morning, don't think that I would take the time and effort to eat breakfast. And definitely won't take the time to make lunch for my break at work. Both breakfast and lunch seem like excellent ideas and I will definitely make both, but.... not today. And that's how it goes everyday. A day may come when I will eat breakfast, when I forsake my laziness and even make lunch. But it is not this day. An hour of cereal bowls and milk when the slothfulness comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we procrastinate! By all that I hold dear on this good Earth, I will not make breakfast and lunch!

Thankfully, I have the sweetest boyfriend on Earth. He appreciates food, and is of the opinion it's very important to have a good meal in the morning and afternoon. And because he knows me, he knows I always cut it close to leave home and be on time for work. So Michael makes sure I always have a lunch. Every single day, he gets out of bed early to make me breakfast (if I got out of bed on time) and make sammiches for me to eat at work. 

Whenever I once again shower way too long - debating if I should clean out the drain or not - I run downstairs, grab the sammiches in the plastic bags, kiss him goodbye, and sprint out the door. And it's not just the same sandwich every day. He tries to keep it interesting, switches things up. I never know what I can expect on my sandwich but it's almost always good. Not only do I get bread, but he packs leftovers from dinner too. Just in case I get really hungry. Sometimes a cup-a-soup pack, or a granola bar. My boyfriend takes really good care for me. I'm incredibly lucky. There aren't many out there who do that.
Good Guy Michael

The most amazing thing is, that he has done this for a very long time. It would be easy to do it for a month and make a good impression. But consistently, every single day I work, Michael gets up with me, and makes me breakfast and lunch.

He not only forgives me for being a sloth, he makes up for my deficiencies. And when I come back the 15th of May, and go back to work. Well, everyday I will get up and stare at the empty table. Everyday I will be starving at work. And everyday the absence of food will remind me of the absence of Michael. I don't need him to be gone to appreciate what I got now. Cause I know.

Moments like that will be the hardest. But at least, when I can finally move to America, - I - can be the person who makes the sammiches. Then I can repay Michael for being such a faithful and enduring boyfriend (by then husband!). And that day, WILL be the day I make breakfast and lunch. Because I might not do it for myself, but I will do it for Michael.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Occupational Therapy

After a rather rigorous day at work I was in the mood for something mindless and relaxing. Michael suggested to take a walk in the forest, which is normally great, but today I couldn't even bring up the energy for that. I make jewellery every once in a while. So I decided to do some more of that today. I could unwind a little and Michael could sit beside me watching TV. 

First, let's go back a little in time. I have been making key-chains and bracelets made of horsehair for my horseback riding school De Eendenkooi. They can sell these to get money for our new cafeteria that's being built. Before this, I hadn't really made much jewellery. It wasn't the first time I made jewellery though! If that had been the case I wouldn't have offered my riding school that I make them key-chains  Imagine not knowing if you can do it, and then delivering horrible looking products *shiver*. 

Anyway,  my first attempt was when my brother married. I made my own fake pearl necklace with golden coloured beads. Looking at it now, it's not all that pretty, but back then I was intensely proud of it. 

So that shallow dip in the art made me aware that it's all quite easy really. So when the riding school was looking for ways to earn a little extra, I decided to volunteer. Here are some samples of the key-chains I made. I apologise for the space the pictures take up in this blog, but I haven't found a way to place them sideways. Silly Google blog. 



And here is an example of a horsehair bracelet I made:
I especially enjoyed the bracelets and the one key-chain with the braid. It's a 4 strand round braid that I just learned, and I'm very proud of myself for mastering it.

So after all this horsehair key-chain fun, Michael asked me to make one for him too! That was quite a challenge and a an honour, because it had to be manly, and generally beads aren't very manly. I kept it simple and non-shiny and this was the result.
Not my best work, but Michael seemed satisfied with it. He also suggested I make a key-chain for his mom. He picked out what kind of beads he wanted for it and I took it from there. It's finished and I think it's pretty awesome, but his mother will get it when we fly to Florida so it will have to wait a bit longer. I don't want to ruin the surprise! 

But to get back to the topic of what I was doing today after a rigorous day at work. I decided I was going to make a necklace. I don't necessarily need a necklace, I don't even like wearing jewellery much. It's the mindless process of tinkering with the little rings, beads and wires that helps me relax. If I don't know what to do with it I can always give it away if someone thinks it's pretty enough to wear.

I decided to play it safe and simple and made a black and metal looking necklace. The goal was a classy sophisticated necklace that doesn't look like I made it myself. That in itself is quite a challenge so I didn't want to risk screwing up with fancy colour combinations. I started with folding a metal wire in half and tying it in a knot in the middle. There I fixed a pandora like bead with 2 smaller metal beads. This is the eye catcher of the necklace. Initially I planned to hang something from that loop at the bottom but I later removed it.
I busied myself for a good 30-45 minutes to figuring out how many black beads I wanted between the metal beads. In the end my shortage of black beads led me to decide on a 3 to 1 ratio. That didn't even help me much, because as you can see in the picture to the left, I had to make my necklace artificially longer with a chain. If I hadn't it would have been more like a choker necklace!
Of course, I then screwed up by accidentally cutting the wire too short to tie a knot in it. Which then took me a good half hour. Yeah, half an hour. No. I'm not exaggerating. With 2 jewellery pliers and tweezers I managed after a way too long time to get the little knot in. Man, was I mad at myself. You can bet I did the other knot very carefully and that took only 3 minutes. 

After a little finishing touches this became the end result:


I would love to hear what you guys think of my first serious necklace attempt. Is it worth wearing or does it need more improvement before it looks like a "real" necklace?

The result doesn't even matter though, because it definitely kept me occupied and distracted! I have a feeling I'll be making a whole lot of jewellery when I come back to the Netherlands without Michael.


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Friday, April 12, 2013

Bridal Pleasures


I'm moving to the United States of America to be with Michael, so I will be needing a visa. Without being married to your partner you can´t get a visa. Here in the Netherlands you have the registered partnership thing, and that counts as a marriage for all paperwork and administration purposes. Not for the States though, so in short, we're going to have to get married sometime this year. 

This might seem like a big deal to some people, but for me it really isn't. From my teenager years onwards, I have always been resistant against marriage. In my view it was a way to "claim" the other person. To possessively own them and show the world they are yours. Using it as a way to cement your relationship. I could just imagine the people thinking "if we marry, it's harder for her/him to get away from me!". In my opinion that is an entirely wrong reason to marry. If you truly love each other, you don't need the institute of marriage to happily spend your lives together.

I do NOT

As I got a little older my strong opinion eroded into mild dislike. I still didn't care for marriage, but if my partner insisted on it I wouldn't make an issue of it. By now I could accept that some people seriously thought it was the ultimate gesture of love. Not that I agreed, but I could sort of empathise.

One reason I could accept as valid to marry was for practical reasons. And of course, marrying so the American government recognises Michael and me as a couple and thus being able to live together, is very practical. This is the reason why we are getting married this year. But like I said, the marrying itself means little to me. We are not going to have a ceremony, it will be pretty much a signing of a contract. Wedding parties are fun, but to be honest I rather save the money/not go into debt.

However, I am disappointed that I won't be having a wedding dress. Now don't you think that because I was anti-marriage that I didn't dream about wedding dresses. I have always adored them. They are so beautiful and I would love to be like one of the Disney princesses.
A snow white wedding dress! I love it

To make up for the lack of a real wedding, my sister and I went to a wedding store where they put me in make-up, did my hair, ate lemon wedding cake and put on lots of wedding dresses (this was a paid for package deal). Secretly I vowed that if I did find my perfect dress I would buy it anyway  but I have a very particular dress in mind. So I did not have any real hope of encountering it. And I didn't.

It was a great experience though. I kind of felt like a bride, and seeing myself in a beautiful dress with a deceivingly amazing figure and beautiful hair made me feel so good! I'm not going to upload the bridal dresses pictures, but here is a picture of me with 20's style hair. It looked so nice I'm sure I'm going to wear my hair like that when we marry.


The make-up is a little heavy for my taste, but it still looks pretty. In the end I have to admit that I'm a little bummed out we won't be having an actual wedding. The dress, the people, the om noms (but mainly the dress) can make it into a fantastic day. But because I don't agree with the principals of marriage it seems a little hypocrite to celebrate it. Then add to it that I still not care enough to justify spending all that money on it. But... a girl can dream can't she?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Crack with a cherry on top

I'm not a fan of the American fast food industry, but there are 2 pieces of food I just can't get out of my mind.

#1













Michael and I were road tripping in the States during the summer. While we were driving through some obscure small town he suddenly exclaimed in joy and pointed to a Krispy Kreme building. Now I had no clue what Krispy Kreme was, so Michael explained to me that it was a doughnut restaurant. But that wasn't what got him all excited, it was the Hot Now sign!













So naturally we had to drive through, and he ordered more doughnuts than I thought we could eat. But when I took my first bite of that doughnut it was like (a dutch saying) an angel peed on my tongue. That thing was goooood! So delicious and fresh. Man, I never had a doughnut like that before in my life. I don't think Americans understand the doughnut horror we experience here in the Netherlands. There is not a single doughnut shop that I know of. All our doughnuts come from supermarkets and are dry and gross. Seriously, there are no delicious doughnuts in my country. It should be a sin. 

Those doughnuts have a special place in my memory closet. And every now and then I open that drawer and look at it fondly and I'll say to those past doughnuts, don't you worry now, I'll get you some friends soon!

#2

In the Netherlands, we don't have tasty milkshakes. All we have are some thin, chemical tasting milkshakes, or the milkshakes that Mc Donalds sells. 

When I was visiting Michael in Alabama it was ridiculously hot. And I emphasise ridiculous. Rain might not melt you, but the sun definitely will. So we went by Chick Fil A and he got himself a cookie and cream milkshake to cool off. I was trying to watch my fatness level so I passed on the milkshake and had a water or something (gotta stay hydrated!). Michael convinced me to take a sip of his milkshake and it was incredible. I think they put some addictive substance or drug in there cause that can't be normal.


The next time we visited Chick Fil A I also ordered a cookie and cream milkshake. Seriously, look at the picture above. LOOK AT IT. Do you see that? That's what pure temptation looks like. If there ever would one image to encompass the meaning of temptation, correction, of -pure- temptation, it would be the cookie and cream milkshake. It's freaking heavenly. It will kill you, and it will rejoice in the slaughter. But whatever, it's worth it. 

So I got one every day for a week. That was a good week I can tell you. But after that week I checked myself in the mirror and I swear, I had already gained weight. So then I downgraded the goodness to a miserly once a week and it was difficult but manageable. Now I am wondering though that when I move to the states, how the hell am I supposed to stay in shape with that tower of crack tempting me every day. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring finally caught up with April

Although you wouldn't think so, but here in Europe it is actually spring. The last few weeks have been literally freezing but today was the day we got greeted by Spring. I was having lunch with a friend in a cute little lunch room we've been dying to try out for months. We sat outside in front of the cafĂ© in full sunlight. The air was cold and crisp, but the sun was warm and welcoming. It was glorious, marvellous. After a while we took off our jackets and almost our sweaters. We ordered scones, apple pie and chocolate cake with banana and cream. A nice big pot of tea completed the picture. Sitting there for a good two hours, watching the people, chatting away. 
Swag, a cute  lunch room
That's how I see the Netherlands. Those little quaint places, sitting in the rare but warming sun, watching the people shop, having a coffee and loiter about. Having a delicious bite of a scone with clotted cream and jam, studying the old architecture around you and watching the pigeons chasing crumbs. Good conversation with your friend, sipping tea and gossiping about people you don't know passing by.

This is what I missed in Canada when I studied there for a semester. This is what I missed when I was in the States. It's different on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. They don't have the history that Europe does, they have a culture unlike ours and everything is so freaking BIG. That's not necessarily a bad thing. The upside of not having centuries of history is that they made the country completely their own. They have shaped it exactly like they wanted to and could spread out, instead of having to cram 10 houses in 1 square meter. Then there is the american dream, which defines the country. It binds people together and makes them what they are. I can respect that.

While I was enjoying the sun and thinking this, I realised that my biggest challenge in moving to the States will be accepting that I am in an entire different country, a different continent. I have all these ideas and expectations of how a country should be, how life should be. But that will just hold me back. If I try to recreate in the States what I have here, I'll never be happy. Only if I fully integrate myself in the american culture and lifestyle do I think that I can make myself a true home in the USA.

That sure as life is going to be difficult. I'm positive that it will take time, but now that I'm aware of one of the obstacles in my way of moving both physically and mentally to the States, I feel like I'm already getting closer.

Friday, April 5, 2013

So long, farewell and hello there

I look to my right and I see rocks, I look to my left and I see rocks. I turn slightly to glance behind me, a mountain. This is what they told me, guard the rocks and guard the mountain. This is what I do and I excel at. Looking through my environmental suit I glare suspiciously at the two other guards. For all everyone knows they were the one behind that big accident a month back. I continue my round and check the security sensors. All clear. Or wait, is it? As I look closer I see a disturbance, an irregularity moving parallel to the perimeter of the rocks and mountain. SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY! I radio my collegues and we are off to check it out.

This is what I do every thursday night. Together with Michael and some of my RPG friends. RPG you say? What is this RPG you mention. Role Playing Games. And no, we do not do this:











What we do is this: 












And I can tell you, it's really awesome. It might seem nerdish and yeah! You are right it is, but I love it. I love going every week and be a total nerd in a different world. Sometimes science fiction and sometimes fantasy. It's all awesome. 

We have 2 more sessions before we depart for the States and this unfortunately means that Michael is leaving the group. This also means yes, that I'll be leaving the group when the time comes when I permanently move to America. This makes me sad! But I'm looking forward to try and start a new group. Michael even suggested to put up an ad in craigslist which says; send you rpg resumes here and we'll consider you. Can you imagine that? Applying for such a nerdy acitvity? But then again, I don't want to end up playing with annoying people who drive me crazy. I recently got the rpg books from the Dresden Files from Michael and my best friend Jessica, and I can not wait to try them out. To design a campaign and play it for a long time with a group?

Awesomeness, and I can't wait!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First world problems



Today I saw that Michael had already gotten one of his suitcases out of the dusty corners behind the couch. I guess when you pack to move back home, you need to start early. Can't do that the night before you leave, like I usually do. When it is finally time for me to pack to make the big move to my new home, I will have to sell everything I'm not going to be able to take with me.

That prospect scares me. I am looking forward to moving to the States and building up my life. Have our own place, meet new people and friends and explore the hopefully beautiful area around. But getting rid of all my shit?! Like, everything I can't put in my suitcase? That's painful. I guess I'm a minor case of hoarding, but my useless stuff isn't useless to ME. It's adorable, cute and has all kind of memories attached to it.

1
I made 3 photo's to make my point. The first picture is an adorable little clock in a glass dome. The numbers are roman, below the clock there is a little treadmill of horses that go around one way, and then the other. It always stood on my grandmothers desk and I think it's awesome.

2
The second picture is of a long bamboo stick. This stick is actually a fighting stick which I bought with a very good friend at an Indonesian indoor market here in The Hague. We both bought one and vowed to practice on each other every day. Of course we never did, and the stick is far too tall for me anyway. But it has served me in many spider killings and as a reassurance that burglars and zombies won't get anywhere near me.

3
The third picture is of a beautiful chest. I paint little miniatures for board games and all the paint and brushes I keep in this chest. It's practical, it's pretty and it sparks my imagination that I live in the old days.

So as you can see, this is all stuff that I can't really bring with me. I'm going to make an exception for the little clock, but I'm afraid I have to leave behind my fighting stick and paint chest. That, and everything else. Yes I know there is such a thing as sea packages, but I just can't take everything with me. All my precious books have priority and then all my hobby equipment like the paints IN the chest.

It's a first world problem, but it's my first world problem. Time to make choices, and getting rid of useless baggage is part of moving on. It's going to be difficult and hard and I'm preparing myself mentally in advance. But in the end I guess it's just part of saying goodbye.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Counting down the days

41 more days together until I go back to the Netherlands and Michael stays in the States.

The reason he can't go back to my country is because he has stayed here too long. You are allowed, as an American citizen to spend 3 months in the Schengen countries (which consists of pretty much 4/5 of Europe), and the Netherlands is one of them. Then they require you to leave, and to be away from the Schengen countries for a minimum of 3 months before you are allowed back in.

Now Michael has been here for quite a while. I'm afraid that when he leaves, they will see he overstayed his welcome and either fine him, ban him or both. Often, when you are a respectable looking American or Canadian they overlook it, but then you never know do you? I'm simply assuming the worst case scenario of the maximum ban (7 years) and not expect him to visit my home country for quite a while.
But there is always the chance there is no problem whatsoever, and I sincerely hope that is the case. It won't change our plans, but at least we would have the freedom to see both our families whenever we wish.

I just try not to think about it for now. When the time comes that we go through customs, let's just hope luck is on our side.



Monday, April 1, 2013

Nice to meet you

I have decided to start a blog. Why would I think my life is interesting enough so that others would want to read it? Well, first we will have to start with a little introduction of who I am.

I am Doni Planken. My age is 26 at the moment of writing, and I live in the Netherlands, The Hague.

I met my boyfriend through an internet game called Utopia. We fell in love over the internet and skype. Deciding that we both knew enough about relationships and our own feelings to know where we stood, we agreed that we were in love and wanted to be together. 2 months later we met in real life and ever since we have been happy together (bet you won't get that song out of your head now huh?). Michael has tried to move to the Netherlands, but due to very strict rules here we have been unable to attain him a Dutch visa. Since the United States of America is a little easier in accepting people we decided I will move to the States instead.

A little easier doesn't mean easy though. A long road of forms and waiting periods are ahead of us. It requires us getting married too. Not that that is a problem, it's just unfortunate that we can't have an actual wedding because all our funds will be spent on paying for Michael's and my move to the States.

The reason I start this blog now, and not sooner is because Michael will be flying back home the 30th of April. I will stay for a short 2 weeks and I regret to inform that Michael will stay in the U.S.A. until I have my visa. I expect our separation time to be about 4-6 months. It will be HARD. We had hoped our long distance relationship times were over, but here we are again. But we are going to suffer through it, because in the end it will be worth it. It's our dream to live together in a nice place. To have horses and dogs, a laid-back job and no financial worries. But dreams have a tendency to run away from you. So we are just going to have to chase them.

And that's what this blog will be about.