Friday, February 27, 2009

P in Puff Daddy

P has a project abroad again. In a few weeks, he’s off to Ireland for the next three months (luckily coming back home on weekends).
I’d love to write a whole piece on the place he’s been sent to – which caused us fits of laughter all night long. Unfortunately, the information is classified, as everything always is at the Cool Consulting Company. The name reminds P of Puff Daddy… Wherever he gets the connection with the rap star is beyond me, but from now on, that’ll be our code name.

Puff Daddy is a tiny village with 400 inhabitants (fit of laughter nr.1), who, I assume, all work in the one factory where the project will be. Do a search on Google image, and you’ll get one picture: right, the local Guinness pub (fit of laughter nr.2). Do a search on “hotels in Puff Daddy”, and you’ll get : “sorry, no results” (fit of laughter nr.3).
P’s first question was: how will I get there??? Me: by boat (fit of laughter nr.4, by now the tears were streaming down my cheeks, and I could not utter one serious word anymore). Sure enough, one more search on Google confirmed my answer : main means of transportation in Puff Daddy = the local ferry port.

When we went to bed, I wanted to tell P that, despite all the laughter, I will be missing him like hell. I found no better way to express my feelings than by starting to sing:

My Bonny is over the ocean,
My Bonny is over the sea.
My Bonny is over the ocean.
Oh bring back my Bonny to me.
Bring back, bring back,
Oh bring back my Bonny to me, to me.
Bring back, bring back,
Oh bring back my Bonny to me.

(followed by fit of laughter nr.5)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blogging in Brussels

I have to admit that I get a bit jealous when I read about whole blogging communities in, let’s say Paris. There are blogging-dinners, blogging-parties, people make new friends through their blog, etc.
So – not - happening in Brussels (or maybe I’m secretly left out?). I did a quick search on to prove my point : the number of blogs in Paris is infinite, in Brussels : 2 pages, done. Try to google Brussels + blog : nothing interesting either. There’s the city blog , and a few boring websites on the institutions of the European Union, but that’s it.
Anyway, I wouldn’t be N if I wouldn’t continue my search with even more determination. They have to be out there : kindred spirits, twenty- or thirty-somethings, writing their way through the world – which happens to be Brussels. I stumbled upon a nice one today here, Brussels’ skyline template and everything. My quest has only just begun, so to all you Brussels bloggers out there (if any) : please let me know you’re alive, kickin’ and writing!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Secret single behaviour

Living on your own for more than five years can lead to certain habits that are not necessarily appreciated by whomever you end up sharing a roof with.
This was made clear once again to me just a few moments ago. I took the Tupperware with leftover-cake from the fridge, and sat happily eating it, straight from the box. Afterwards, I put the box back in the fridge – only to find P staring at me, beaming “you have done IT again”. So yes, I confess : sometimes I drink straight from the bottle (but only the little ones, that I finish myself anyway), and I eat things straight out of the Tupperware, box, whatever. Is it really that bad?
The only one I share these things with, is P – and he’s acting like I’m some stranger with at least five contaminating diseases. I would never do it with food or drinks that I know I’ll be serving to guests (well, ok, maybe my parents don’t count as real guests)
P’s slightly “under-the-belt” argument was that this kind of behaviour is “setting the wrong example for a kid”. Ok, point granted. But we don’t have one, do we? And Phoebe the hamster can’t make it on her own to the fridge.
I could continue writing now about all P’s nasty habits – but I’ll rest my case. And only drink from the bottle when he’s not home ;-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Brussels' impressions

Impression 1
Homeless person with the obligatory blanket and dog….and cute, fluffy rabbit on his lap.

I always wonder where they get the cute puppies from. I had to restrain myself more than once to ask them if I could have the puppy and take care of it. And now this : a rabbit?! How do they provide food for those animals? What does the rabbit do while he is sleeping under his carton-made bed? And why do these animals always seem sedated?
(OK, I admit : I worry more about the animals than about the homeless people themselves. Shame on me)

Impression 2
Police car standing at the edge of the park, “one with chocolate please” sounding through its speakers.

I stare unbelievingly at the police car and the two cops inside it, only to hear the words repeated “one with chocolate!!”. Ten meters later the mystery is resolved : cop nr 3 is standing at the van selling ice cream and waffles, with or without chocolate topping…

Impression 3
Coming home, welcomed once again by the smell of cannabis

No, don’t worry, it’s not P having found the ultimate relaxing drug. And we haven’t moved to Amsterdam either. This is still Brussels, and these are still our annoying twenty-something neighbours – who have fallen into the habit of smoking pot every single weekend, filling the hallway with intoxicating fumes. Luckily, P rather enjoys the whole complaining-game lately, so I leave it up to him, while I spray lavish amounts of air freshener down the stairs.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I came back home from the hairdresser in high spirits. The spirits were dwindling fast however once I opened my mailbox. It’s baby-overload once again. One friend is pregnant – for the second time, and another friend just gave birth to a beautiful little boy. And while I’m so happy for them, restraining myself from running to the nearest baby-clothing shop, I’m fighting back tears as well. So what else to do but writing – hoping it will take the edge of the turmoil inside.
I’ve found myself longing for a baby for almost five years now – unable to stop the raging hormones, hearing non-stop the by now deafening “tic-tac” of the biological clock. The despair has come to such limits that I do things like calling horoscope lines, asking to the clairvoyant lady if I’ll ever have a baby, and when (I can’t belief I’m writing these embarrassing facts about myself on a public blog). Anyway,you know what she said? That I needed some more patience, that I would easily have to wait one more year. But in the end, my dream would come true. Yeah, right. Saying to someone who has been waiting for five years to wait one more year…It’s just a bit too cruel, don’t you think?
So here I am, all dressed up, shiny hair, ready to go out for sushi with P and some friends, while all I want to do is hide under the duvet and cry my eyes out.


When was the last time you wrote a page-long handwritten letter? Right, you probably can’t remember. Neither could I. But a few days ago, the fountain pen was calling out from its dusty corner in the bottom drawer. So I sat down at the table, blank piece of paper in front of me, armoured with pen. And after five minutes, all that had appeared was “Chère Erika” (our lovely landlady in Barbizon). This wasn’t working.
I flipped open my laptop, and in less than ten minutes the letter was written, even in flawless French. Talking ‘bout conditioned behaviour…
I sat down at the table again, and carefully copied each word from the screen.
When my letter was finished, I felt as proud as more than 25 years ago after writing my very first word “aap”*

* meaning “monkey”, and it really was the first word I learned to write

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Inevitable insomnia

I really shouldn’t have bragged about sleeping. Ever since writing the previous post, insomnia’s back. I go to bed, armoured with relaxing book, meditation track on my Ipod, camomile tea, lavender on my bedside table…..and: nothing. Or rather : a lot of things. My mind takes off on a journey of its own, hopping from one subject to another. Last night’s trip went something like this:

- What should I do job-wise?
Reading job descriptions that even faintly resemble my previous job make me nauseous. Granted, I still have six more months to think about it, but still….Should I do some teaching again? I really liked it in Fonty…If only my mom hadn’t become ill….
- Will the cancer come back?
I can’t help it, but last year made me realise that my parents won’t be around forever; I consider every moment that I can spend with my mom as a god’s gift – and the fear that she will become ill again is always there. If only P were awake now; I need a hug, badly. A tear is sliding down my cheek because I had such a wonderful day with her today.
- Thinking about shopping with my mom :where will I find a saree in Brussels in time for the Indian wedding we go to next month?
- P is so tired lately. The four-day trip to India won’t make it any better. What can I do to make him happier/ more relaxed? If only I had the money to buy that watch he likes so much….
- F***, I still have to find a birthday present for my godchild A
- Back to work: should I accept the compromise the union and the ex-company are offering me, or should I continue to fight, only in the name of justice? I feel soooo angry. Now I have no career, and no family.
- When will I have a baby? Why does my world look like it’s crammed with push chairs and pictures of pregnant friends on Facebook?
- Tomorrow I have to iron – no more excuses (I don't know where the neurological link between ironing and babies comes from...)
- OK, let’s try to sleep again. Picture every thought as a log on a river that is slowly drifting away. Oh shit, the logs are turning into coffins! I knew I shouldn’t have watched that goddamn movie. Ok, great, now the river is full of piranhas eating their way through the coffins.
At which point I turned on the light, and continued reading in “Petite Anglaise” until 2.00 AM. 4 hours later I was awake again, as P had to get up to catch an early Thalys train to Paris.

Of course, my midnight thinking has left me non the wiser. Nor is the ironing done. I haven’t found a saree yet, or suddenly got pregnant. I’m still clueless on the jobfront, and my official dismissal papers that arrived in the mail today didn’t do any good for my mood in general. But: I got A’s birthday present! Although I think I would’ve achieved that too without an almost sleepless night…

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sweet sleep

I really don’t know what hit me, but ever since last week Thursday, I feel I could sleep and sleep and sleep. Maybe I’m making up for all the sleepless nights from the past months. Maybe it’s the stress and tension from my job for the past years that is finally leaving me. Whatever it is, it’s nice to sleep again (I almost forgot how it felt). However, seeing my days cut in half each time is less funny. When I get up around noon, I feel a bit torn in two. One part of me thinking : god, I’m really turning into a lazy, unemployed looser. The other part arguing : hey, after all I’ve been through, I deserve some extra sleep and rest. Nothing wrong with it!
Whatever part of the argument wins that day, I always try to compensate my lazy mornings with over-active afternoons : cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, baking, ironing, going to the gym, etc – fighting of the urge to take a little siesta.
I’ll give it another week without alarm clock to see what happens. For now, I just enjoy those warm sheets way too much to force myself to get up.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My funny Valentine

I got a nice breakfast, a night out to the movies, a romantic dinner, and a classical music concert. What more could a girl want :-)?
Ok, I ironed all his shirts this weekend, gave a Valentine’s card, an I-tunes gift voucher, a “you’re sweet”-inscribed piece of chocolate, and more fluffy – cute things I won’t reveal here – so I guess the mutual efforts were in balance.

Next on my Valentine’s list : a really lovely e-card from my friend C – who is Americanized enough to stubbornly stick to the fact that Valentine is not just for lovers, but also for friends.

And last on the list : a email saying “happy Valentine” in the subject from my ex-employer. No joke, I promise. Let me explain : all the employees have a kind of benefits card, which gives you discounts on all sort of things. Apparently, they didn’t close my account yet, so I still receive the benefits, and the emails – including the one with all the Valentine-actions. While I’m basically at full open war with them right now, they irony of the email wasn’t completely lost on me.

So I’m loved by P, by my friends, and even by the company that fired me. How lovely can life be :-)

Friday, February 13, 2009

(Un)human resources

You sometimes wonder why people choose a certain profession, or why they do certain studies. Let’s take my former boss, HR director of a large company. He studied psychology, and later choose HR as his career path. Yet, I’ve never encountered a person who is so uninterested in people as he is. To give just one small example : he never ever asked me how my mom was.
Yesterday, thank god, was the very last time I had to face him. We tried one last time to sort things out without going to court – but he decided to just be rude, stubborn, and unwilling to compromise. The girl from the union who was with me, said she never saw anyone behaving so disrespectful and arrogant.
So much for the *human* in human resources.

I tried to stay brave through it all – controlling all emotions. But tears came anyway (luckily after I had left his office). I came home, feeling more tired than ever. Today, I slept until 2.00 pm, feeling drained of all energy. Finally, I managed to kick myself out of bed, went to the gym and ran for about an hour.

It’s over, I still can’t believe it. I never have to go there again. Whether I win or loose this case, it really doesn’t matter. Finally being able to stand up for myself and my rights is the greatest victory of all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The arrival of Clio

Today was D-Day!
I just went to the garage to pick up my new car. It will probably never look this clean again, both inside and outside. The drive from the garage to our place was way too short!! I could spend hours driving around our neighbourhood, just for fun. I stood 10 minutes just looking at it with a big goofy smile on my face. And I realise that my writing today is rather crap, and that if I write anymore it will just be more nonsensical car-stuff.
Yes, I am in love…….

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Things you can do in 1 week

Buy a new car and start a lawsuit against your ex-employer.

Mind you, it’s not the smartest idea.
And I am talking from experience right now.
The car means going to different banks to get different offers for a loan, and going to different insurance companies to get the cheapest insurance. It means going back to the garage once you actually have the loan to pay the car. Next, drive to the place smack in the centre of town to get your licence plates. And then, finally, go and pick up your car (tomorrow!!!).
The lawsuit means re-actualizing all your forgotten knowledge on social legislation, calling and emailing endlessly with the guys from the union, and get your membership of the foresaid union back in order (if you want them to pay for the whole lawsuit, that is). And, oh yes : confronting your ex-boss to tell him you’re no longer taking all his sh**, and that your lawyer will get in touch with him (actually looking forward to that part).

So, in all, I will be very happy when this week is over. I’ll have gained my freedom back, I’ll have my very own car, and I’ll have stood up for my rights.
And… uhm, yes,… I’ll be able to sleep, eat and breathe again….

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.....(and an Ipod)

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

Or so the song goes by Janis Joplin.
Just to tell you that, after driving a company car for three years, the time has come to buy some wheels of my own (I got fired, remember?). I don’t know if I’ll have a job again that comes with a car. Let alone that I know when I will have a job again, period. No car is not an option – I’m still recovering from my 6 months without one in France; won’t make that mistake again.

So far my car hunt has led me to
1) a Renault Clio, 3 years old
2) a Toyota Aygo, 6 months old
The Clio is bigger and has a more powerful engine. It’s a Renault, and that’s the brand I’ve been driving the past three years and am happy about. I know the car dealer, and the excellent service I get there.
But (o-oh, here we go) : the Aygo comes with an Ipod Nano!!!
And guess what refuses to work since last night? Exactly, my Ipod!

All your advice, dearest readers, is more than welcome :-)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Episode 3

If you're reading this, it means that you're still checking this blog. And wow, that alone deserves an applause! It has been ages since I've written anything - but I feel it's time to pick up the blogging-habit again - or at least try to do so...
What happened since my last post?
To give you a summary : my computer crashed, coincindentally I did as well (but I wont spoil you with all the juicy details), and the icing on the cake : I got fired last week while being on sick-leave.
So here I am, sitting on my kitchen floor with my back against the central heating, looking at my blog, and realising this is the beginning of a new chapter (clichés can be so useful sometimes).
After France ("Between Brussels and Barbizon"), and after getting back to the job I didn't want anymore and slowly drowning in the aftershock of everything that happened (" Trying to keep her head up, and her feet on the ground"), now it's time to turn the page: here's to "Episode 3"! Cheers!