Sunday, January 31, 2010


Is my iPod psychic? I believe he is (yes, my iPod is male)
Today, ironing my frustrations away, I put the little pink guy on shuffle, and this is what he came up with:
1. All that she wants, is (another) baby
2. Should I give up, or should I just keep chasing pavements?
3. I want to make up right now, nana
4. The boy does nothing
5. Destination unknown.
By that time, I thought it was really getting too weird, so I just switched to City Owls and their cute Fireflies.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The secret N Files

Lately, I often regret that this blog is not anonymous anymore. There’s so much I want to write about, so many things I want to get of my chest. But at the same time, I don’t want everybody to know. So what to do?
For the first time, I'm actually thinking about stopping the blog altogether. It’s not really helping me anymore in anyway.
My mom: is still ill – but who wants to read about cancer, right?
My job: I am still enjoying it, so not much to write about either.
INSEAD : long time ago
P : still the typical consultant, working ridiculous hours
So there, my life in a nutshell.
I have a few wonderful friends who are always there for me, and whom I can trust. And I still feel lonely as hell from time to time. Cause believe me, a dream you can’t share with anyone is nothing more than a real nightmare.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Catch me if you can

I wrote a page-long post today, then erased it all. It was just a bit too gloomy and sad - while I wanted to end the day on a happy note.
So if you, just like me, are feeling a bit down, then maybe this will do the trick.

Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too!
I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled, I realized I'd passed it on to him!
I thought about that smile and appreciated its worth.
A single smile, just like mine, could travel round the earth!
So if you feel a smile begin, don't leave it undetected.
Let's start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Today I went back to my grandmother’s house – for the first time since she died on 11 November. I was a bit scared to walk into an empty house, but it didn’t feel like that at all. Somehow, without wanting to sound creepy, it felt like they were all still there : my grandparents, and my great-grandparents, who also used to live in the same house.

Going through clothes, books, jewellery, etc. I realised that they were so much more than “grandparents”. I found pictures of them as a very young couple during the war. Pictures of my grandfather in his “resistance”-uniform, pictures of my grandmother working in a factory, pictures of them and a bunch of other people, all dressed up in hats and funny clothes because the war had ended. Looking at all those pictures, I had so many questions. Same thing with the clothes. Grandma, when did you buy this coat in “Western Germany”? Granddad, who are all those people with you on stage? And what was the play you were in?
My mom answered some of the questions – and she knew most of the people in the pictures. I realised the irony of the situation: I have studied History with a capital H, but I didn’t know my grandmother was forced to work in a factory. I didn’t know my great-grandfather was sent to Germany to work there during the war. Sure, I had heard my grandfather tell a few war stories about blowing up train rails – but why the hell didn’t I know more?

Now I feel like I want to know each and every detail....but the main sources of all the stories are gone. My family history is gone. It’s just me and my mom and the memories we share. And the house. The house we want to keep so badly. The house that’s been in the family for 100 years – where my grandfather and my mother grew up, and where I spent every single afternoon after school. Mom says we have to sell it one day – and I know she’s right. But we’re far from ready to say goodbye.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Funny Friday

For the first time since our wedding, I was walking through the “Galerie de la Reine” in Brussels, where we took a lot of pictures that day. Head in the clouds, full of memories, I first thought my eyes were playing a trick on me. But no. There he was, on a terrace, in the Galerie: our wedding photographer Leopold! Happy and surprised to see eachother again, on the very spot where we took so many pics, he took the coincidence one step further: “ Ah! Unbelievable to see you! When you get home, there should be something in the mailbox for you.”
And indeed. In the mail, there was a postcard from Leopold. With a wedding picture of P and me...taken in.... the Galerie de la Reine!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bring me a bed

This week was all about being tired. I don’t know what hit me, but no matter what I do or how many hours I sleep: I’m tired ...dead-tired.
Some people say it’s the cold weather. Others blame the short days. P’s traditional answer is “get a blood test”, my mom’s eternal solution is “take vitamins”. Somehow everybody (even me) seems to miss the most obvious: I’ve been working like crazy.

I started working again 2 days after getting back from Mexico, jetlag included. No time to recuperate whatsoever. At school, my energy is drained by a small group of three female students. They’re quiet – very quiet. They give no feedback. They don’t react. They’re just....quiet. I’ve tried roll plays, games, videos, songs, articles, group discussions, you name it. I’ve tried every trick in the book. They stay in hibernation-mode. I have to pull every single word out of their mouths. They always look (extremely) bored. Yesterday, I worked for more than five hours on today’s lesson. I took a topic that interests them, I went to the library to look in every single Dutch course book for cool activities, I spent hours online. At 9.00 pm I thought I had the best lesson ever made.
Today in class: you’ve guessed it....same-same-same. At the end of the lesson, I was ready to start crying. And then, suddenly, the girl I thought hates me most, came up to me and said “The lessons are really good. We like it – better than with the first teacher. You make us talk. It’s good. The others say so too. Thank you.”

I’ve never been more surprised in my life.
And I’m tired. So tired.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


For the curious ones: this was the itinerary of our honeymoon:
Brussels – Madrid - Buenos Aires ( + Tigre) – Puerto Madryn (Punta Tombo + Peninsula Valdes) – El Calafate (Parco Nacional Los Glaciares) – Salta (Quebrada de Humahuaca + Quebrada de Cafayate) – Buenos Aires – Iguazu – Buenos Aires – Mexico City – Puerto Vallarta (beach!) – Mexico City – Madrid – Brussels.

*sigh*...Argentina! What can I say? It was amazing. Patagonia was breath-taking. The northern Andes was overwhelming. Missiones was awesome. People ask me what the highlight of the trip was. I answer: “the boat trip with a small Zodiac and being really close to gigantic whales”. But then P mentions walking through a colony of 800.000 penguins and I start to doubt. Or I take a look at the 900+ pictures we took, and I’m really at loss.
We saw icebergs, dessert, rain forest, canyons, beach, pampas, etc. We had close encounters with monkeys, huge lizards, armadillos, quatis, lamas, toucans, thousands of colourful butterflies, sea lions, penguins, whales and a lot of dogs. We took a total of 15 flights (Mexico included). We were 13.000 km from home. And no, we didn’t dance the tango in Buenos Aires (but we watched it!). The people were super friendly, the food was delicious, the organisation was spotless. So sorry folks, no complaining in this post (you can imagine how good the trip was if even I don’t...well, you get the idea!).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2009 - 2010

Inspired by Res Ipsa’s Cliff Notes on 2009, I looked back as well. And I can only conclude that it’s been a strange year. Far better than 2008 – but then that wasn’t too difficult.
It was the start of episode 3 on this blog – reflecting a lot of changes in my life.

I was home on sick-leave, simply trying to stay alive. I got fired. And suddenly I had 6 months to get myself and my life back on track.
February – March – April
I truly enjoyed my time off. I bought a car. I went to India for a wedding. I learned to smile again. P asked me to marry him. I lost my grandfather.
First INSEAD reunion in Paris.
May - June – July
I found a job without really having to look for it. A drastic career change as well : I started teaching again. Bye-bye HR.
Second INSEAD reunion in London.
I bought my wedding dress.
August – September
I went to Mexico for the first time to meet P’s family. My mom needed to get surgery again. I got really stressed because we still didn’t have a date or a venue for the wedding.
October – November
A lot of teaching, and a lot of wedding-preparations. P was staffed on a nightmare-project, and came home after midnight every single night. My grandmother died. My mom started yet another chemo-therapy.
I got married! And together we discovered Argentina. For the first time in my life, I celebrated my birthday and Christmas outside of Belgium, far away from friends and family. We ended the year in an airplane.

Voilà, that was it! Not an easy, but an interesting year. A turning point after only going downhill all through 2008. So, what will bring 2010? A few trips to Geneva, no doubt – as P is staffed abroad again. More teaching. Finally some good news about my mother’s health? A secret wish. And hopefully all the best for all my dear friends!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cold enough?

It’s around -4°C in Brussels and there’s about 1 inch of snow in the parks. Although it’s a lot colder in a lot of places, these weather conditions are doing strange things to our city and its inhabitants.
People are:
1. Wearing snow boots. Yes, the huge ones in all kinds of wrong colours. The inch of snow apparently makes people think they’re on the slopes.
2. Refusing to wear a coat. “I’m 16, I wear a body warmer and a scarf, and the more I cough, the cooler it is.”
3. Walking on the street instead of on the sidewalks. Simply ‘cause the sidewalks are icy and the street is not.
4. Walking on the icy sidewalks with high heels, and swearing with every slippery step they take.
5. Crawling into their car through the trunk ‘cause the doors are frozen (I’ve seen that twice!)
6. Still sleeping with the bedroom window open (yep, that’s us)
7. Taking a hot water-bottle to bed (yep, that’s me)
8. Coming late into the office / classroom every morning: tramlines fail, trains are endlessly delayed, and traffic is impossible.
9. Not taking their coats off once they’re in the office / classroom – I feel like I’ve been teaching Eskimo’s with headscarves this week.
10. Complaining – but I can’t think of one weather-type Belgians don’t complain about.

Personally, I’m quite enjoying it. Every morning, I put on my thermal underwear, followed by 4 more layers of clothing – yes, I look fat. I get about 10 static-electricity shocks per day, and I have a Marge Simpsons-hairdo when I take of my hat. I’m the only fool in our street who bought 5 kilo’s of kitchen salt (and stood sweeping snow and melted ice for more than 30 minutes) to clear the sidewalk. I try to convince my students that it’s warm enough in the classroom, while I drink gallons of hot tea. And I keep telling P to stop complaining about the weather. But when I walk to school in the mornings around 8.00 AM, when it’s still pitch dark outside, and my nose is freezing off, I’m thinking of Buenos Aires too...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

December 5, 2009

Our wedding day. Already seems like a long time ago.
It was great – to throw in a cliché : it was a dream come true.
But it also felt like being in a movie that someone was playing in fast-forward mode. Everything happened so fast – although it started at 7.00 AM with all the preparations, and ended around 4.00 AM the following day.
Some moments I’ll always remember:
- the night before with K, K and C, celebrating my last “single” night with lots of Italian food. Sharing the bed with K, giggling until after midnight.
- Crawling into the little Fiat 500 for the first time, legs and wedding dress up in the air.
- Arriving at city hall, seeing lots of friends and family waiting for us
- The surreal civil ceremony with music from Mary Poppins.
- Entering the church, and seeing the baker and his wife from my former neighbourhood. What a surprise!
- Realizing that the church is freezing cold, but still feeling warm.
- Seeing K at my left side, being very serious, holding the rings ready.
- Not feeling nervous once – even not when saying my vows. And while saying them, looking into P’s eyes and feeling very very happy.
- P putting the ring on my finger and giving a kiss on it.
- Leaving the church with lots of surprises: a shower of paper hearts, and a mariachi band!
- Kissing too many people at the reception – while all I wanted was a glass to drink and something to eat.
- Entering the great art-nouveau office of the architect of the Flagey building, with jazz-music in the back ground; and with the help of our photographer feeling like being in a 30ies movie.
- Crashing for a coffee in the café Vaudeville, after taking lots of pictures – and being offered free champagne, strawberries AND access to the very old Vaudeville theatre for more pictures!
- Entering the dinner party with everybody standing up and clapping for us.
- Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet suddenly making a surprise entry
- Wonderful speeches by R and C
- Ending our first dance so beautiful that everybody thought we practised it. But honestly : we didn’t!!
- My parents, sitting alone at their table, very late into the night, holding eachothers’ hands.
- Lots of dancing, and more dancing (memories get a bit fuzzy there)
- Ending the party on the dance floor; just me and my maids of honour.
- Being treated like a princess all day long

The day after was a bit like a black hole. We were dead-tired, and so many things still had to be done before leaving on honeymoon the next day. Opening all the presents, going to the bank, packing for one month, bringing the cars back, etc. I was so tired that I even can’t remember how we got to the airport early Monday-morning. I fell asleep in the taxi, I fell asleep at the gate, I fell asleep on the plane.

The story of the honeymoon itself is for another post!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Mrs B is back

I'm back!
Married, and after a month-long honeymoon through Argentina and Mexico.
I have two days to conquer the mountains of laundry, mail, wedding gifts, etc,...and than I have to start working again.
But first things first : I need to go to bed now. Weird, as my Latin American clock says it's only 4.00 PM.