Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I've got different kinds of therapy. One is to crawl in bed, and listen to iBooks until I fall asleep. Another one is to soak in bath until I'm all pruny. Or I go online, and I look for pictures of cute animals (thank you, Cute Overload). Or I go to interior design sites to get ideas for my dream house. This room would do right now. A bit girlie, but not too. A TV. Nice bed. Beam me up, Scotty.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Drip. One more milligram of salt in my green tea. Drip, drip. A hint of mascara on the keybord, while reading useless discussion forums on line.
“Hello?” ... “No, it’s hay fever season, you know. Got to go know. Bye”
Drip. Dark blue circle on light blue tshirt.
Write – erase, erase, erase. Not allowed to write anymore. The truth cannot be told. Drip,drip, more drip. Off to bed.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I’m stealing a few lines from Res Ipsa’s latest post. I hope she won’t mind :-).
It’s a quote from Paul Auster :
"The most important thing for a writer of fiction is to tell the truth."

It was a Thursday afternoon. Alice walked into the first pharmacy she saw. “A pregnancy test, please”. Pfew, the words were out. But instead of just giving her the stupid test, the pharmacist started asking annoying questions: “Is your period late? I mean, I could give you a test, but it would only tell you anything if you are late. You could try it 4 days before your period as well, but that’s usually only done when the pregnancy is not wanted.” Alice managed to mumble a silent “ok”, and dejectedly walked out of the pharmacy. Oh, the irony. She wasn’t allowed to get pregnant, and now she wasn’t even allowed to buy a stupid pregnancy test. She just wanted to have a tiny sparkle of hope to brighten up her day. She just wanted to enjoy the tension you feel during those 5 seconds when you wait for the results. She knew it would be a -, and not a +. But at a certain point, you start hoping for miracles. Maybe some little naughty sperm fish managed to escape the condom. Maybe God pulled the same trick as he did with Mary. Maybe, maybe,maybe....
People all around her had started to think she had fertility problems. Why else had babies become a taboo-topic during every conversation? Why else was she still not pregnant, when everybody knew she was desperate to have a baby? For Alice, and for a few of her best friends, the answer was very clear : The Boy, or now “The Man”, didn’t feel ready (yet). Sure, he wanted kinds (some day). Alice had been dreaming of kids for the last 6 years now. Patience had become her middle, first and last name. She had stupidly assumed that the door to babies would be opened after the marriage – but instead; it had stayed closed. Nothing changed. She still had to burry her deepest wish under several layers of “I’m happy, nothing’s wrong with me!”
Sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn’t. Every time a friend announced a pregnancy, a birth, or even a “we’re trying”, Alice felt nothing but hurt and six years of ignored feelings. She couldn’t be happy anymore for others. She just felt it was all very unfair. “Why not me” was a question that drove her to insanity.
What also drove Alice to the end of her wits, was that she still didn’t understand The Man. What was holding him back? They were together for years, knew each other even longer, were happily married, and really loved each other. What did she have to make of his “some day” when she was already 34?
Since the beginning of therapy, more than a year ago, Mister Shrink had to hear the same things over and over again. Alice battling to move forward in her relationship. Alice doing everything possible to realise her dreams. And Alice feeling defeated because there’s no way you can plan or force those things when you and The Man are on different timelines.
Friday afternoon, after work, she tried it again. Different pharmacy. “A pregnancy test please”. She walked out with the latest digital model, one that could even tell you how many weeks you were pregnant. It took longer than the box said to see the results. Maybe this was a good sign? The + flickered once, briefly. Then again the waiting-sign. And then, very bold and black: - . Mission accomplished. For almost a second, Alice had felt a little spark of hope. It was ok, she told herself. Some day there will be a +. You have to believe in that. You need to have faith.
She praid and asked for faith and patience again in church on Sunday. She walked home, looking forward to brunch with friends. She came home, happy and feeling peaceful. “Alice”, The Man said, “I’ve got some news. JW is pregnant”. Her morning prayers apparently hadn’t reached God yet, ‘cause Alice felt a few very hot tears rolling over her face. The Man’s only concern was “Why can’t you just be happy for other people?” He had no clue what Alice was feeling, not the past 6 years, not now.
Alice didn’t want to feel the pain, she didn’t want to cry for hours. She wanted to show The Man that she could be happy, that this didn’t have to ruin their weekend together. And she tried – but failed. Ending up in bed with a tranquilizer, feeling that her tears had only pushed The Man away again, instead of bringing him closer, she finally fell asleep.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Job

Yes, I’m still teaching. But lately, I’m also doing other stuff at school. Two to three times a week, I’m the one “in charge”. Meaning, the manager is gone, and I keep the school open. I answer phone calls, I do all kinds of admin stuff, I welcome new teachers and new students, I make sure there’s coffee for everyone, and I turn off the lights when classes are finished. I’m also getting paid to do the following (drum roll) : spend time on Facebook, and write (picture me with a very big smile).

Let’s get to the Facebook thing first. Just as I was planning an e-holiday (very 2010 according to trend watchers), manager T asked me to make a Facebook page for our school. Next thing you know, I spent more than three hours on damn FB figuring out how it all works. I couldn’t shake off the guilty feeling associated with being on FB during work..but hey...I had to!

Next thing: the writing! My very first “writing in a professional context” (ok, not counting the hundreds of job ads I made in a distant and dark past)! I had to write two articles about the school. I had no clue how to begin. Then I remembered how I did writing assignments in school : just start writing when the deadline becomes very visible. And that’s what I did. With very satisfying results, as I might add (sorry for the bragging). It was also the first time in a very very long while (let’s say since uni) that I wrote anything in Dutch. And I was relieved to see that I still can :-). It was translating the two texts in English that gave me headaches.

To put it shortly: I can’t complain about The Job. I mean, really: I do what I like, and on top of that I get to spend time on Facebook and I can do some real writing. On the other hand, I *can* complain about P not feeling like sushi tonight. Damn. Life was almost perfect...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stop it

I want to let go, believe me. I want to put it out of my mind, and just let things be. But apparently, some forces in this universe are working against me. So whatever strange energy-field is causing all those "coincidences" - just stop it, ok?
- putting adds for baby clothing on my Facebook page
- asking me "need tips to get pregnant"? every time I open my hotmail account
- sending hundreds of pregnant women to cross my path
- all the people from asking "and, when? you're married, over 30, so..."
- making everybody think I'm pregnant every time I look a bit tired
- doing strange things like putting the letters "pregn" as word verification when I want to leave a comment on another blog; or playing "Let's grow a baby" on the radio when I turn it on.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Brand New Bike

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present : Mrs. B's Brand New Bike. Yes, indeed, that's one item down from the wish list. Still 4 to go!
As requested, I got sponsoring - lucky me. From the belgian government, no less! A word of explanation for our foreign friends : as of this year, companies can give their employees "eco-vouchers" - a kind of extra-legal benefit. What could we buy with the eco-vouchers? (P had them, and I got those of my dad as well. So we had a total of almost 250 Eur. to spend)
- about 30 energy-saving light bulbs (boooring).
- eco-friendly cleaning products for the next 10 years (yawn).
- isolation material (for our rented apartment?!)
- plants (for our 15m² terace?)
- and...and...the only thing that made any sense : a bike!!!
So last Saturday, it was off to Decathlon to do some bike-shopping. (and bike-pimping, 'cause what's a bike without a shopping basket in front, right?)

Outside the store, on the parking lot, trying to get the bike into my small car:
P : N, this is not working.
N : It has to!! The bike fits! Push some more!!
P : N, I really think you'll have to ride it home.
N : NO WAY!!
P : ok, and...*why* have we just bought a bike?
N : Well... yes... to ride it of course. But I'm NOT going to ride my brand new bike all the way through Kuregem (read: neighbourhood in Brussels where you really don't want to ride a brand new bike).
In the end, the bike went into, and again out of, the car (with only some minor injuries to the bell).

Sunday we went for a test-drive. After 30 seconds on the road, the score was "one car with squealing brakes" for team N. After 5 minutes on the road, team P decided it was time for a coffee-break. After the coffee, both teams cycled home through the rain. Defeated? No way! Just getting ready for "the big game" : taking my bike in the morning and ride it to work during rush hour. (pray for me, please).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Episode 3 - the sequel

The first of February one year ago : it was the start of “episode 3” on this blog. In other words : I started crawling out of a very deep black hole. Little by little, I reshaped my life. Looking back now, more than one year later, I wonder if it’s time to end this particular chapter or not.

- I have learned that “letting go” doesn’t mean “giving up”. Although it’s still something that doesn’t come naturally....The struggle continues. Letting go of a dream, of a wish,...is hard to do. Especially if you want to fight so hard for it, like me, while all you can do is just rely on faith and confidence in the future (I’m really starting to sound like one of those new-age, pop-psychology books here, don’t I?)

- I’ve realised I always fall into the same traps. I want to plan and organise my entire life – while some things, like the love of another person, or new life, can’t be planned or forced – but are gifts that come to you (now I almost sound like my parish priest)

- I still think of others first – and I forget about myself. In small things (“ok, I’ll re-schedule my entire calendar of it suits you”), but also in big things (“ok, I’ll consider moving abroad again just because you want it”). I know that this is one of the reasons I pushed myself over more than one limit in the past. I still believe in getting out of my comfort-zone. I no longer believe in getting so far away from it that I get completely lost. However, I’m terrified that it will happen again.

- I have no “brakes”. I know that now. When I work on a project, I don’t stop until it’s finished – even if this means forgetting about lunch, dinner and sleep. When I do sports, I go on until I drop dead. When I’m reading a book I like, I have to finish it – even if it’s 4 am. I go to work with a fever. I liked working part-time, but I’m already doing more than a full-time again. Friends from uni still remember me for my white nights during exam time. Good thing : I’ve learned to say “ok N, time to stop. Now.” And it’s actually working (sometimes).

- I’ve learned to be proud of what I do. For the first time in my life, when people ask me what I do, I feel not ashamed when I tell them. Even when I had the job with the big company car and the truckload of responsibilities, I still considered myself “inferior”. I was “only” the recruiter, or “only” the HR consultant. All that is gone. I’m a teacher and that’s the best job in the world for me.

- Which brings me to my last point. If I have learned one lesson, than it’s this : find out what you really want to do, and do it. Don’t let anything hold you back. I stayed in the wrong job in the wrong company for years. For all the wrong reasons.... Career changes, insights, knowing what you want,....: it doesn’t come in a fortnight. It’s a very long, difficult and on-going process (which, sorry, can’t be solved by just doing an MBA and thinking that that will provide all the answers and solutions). In a way, I was very lucky that others helped me on my way by firing me – it changed my life completely.

So after France and the start of this blog ("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"), "Episode 3" began. There’s still some work to do – but I think those will be live-long projects just ‘cause I’m N.
To be completely honest, I’m still hoping for one more live-long project. That day, will be the real end of “Episode 3”.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's in a name...

Mom and dad are going to Turkey next week. Their first real holiday since the whole “cancer-chapter” started 2 years ago. They’ll be staying in a very nice hotel - already tested by P and me 3 years ago.

Mom : And you know what? Every room has one of those things you want!”
Me : What mom?
Mom : Well, one of those things to do sports on TV.
Me : No way! Every room has a Wii fit???
Mom : Yes, the lady at the travel agency told us, and I read it in the brochure as well. And it’s free!
Me : Wow - that’s amazing!
Mom : But there are many hotels that have that now, you know.
Me : (slowly beginning to see what was going on) Many hotels?
Mom : Yes, I’ll show you when we get home - almost every hotel in the brochure has those things for free in every room
Me : (now fully realizing what was going on) Mom, that’s “Wifi”, the same thing you have at home: wireless internet. The computer game is a “Wii fit”.
Mom : Jeezes, Wifi - Wiifit - wewewe; I can’t follow anymore.
Me : It’s ok mom, just enjoy the sunshine :-)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Books of the week

Lately, I’ve started a few books, but never finished them. Just because after the 20 or so first pages they failed to capture me, and because I thought it was a waist of time to continue reading. Surprisingly, one of these books was “Atonement” by Ian McEwan. People say it’s the best book of the last 10 years – but I thought it was written in a style mainly to please the literary critics. A good book makes me forget that it’s a book – I’m in it, I live it. Strangely crafted sentences, weird narrator-jumps, changing viewpoints, style-experiments,....:they usually don’t work for me.
So I was quite happy this week when I finally managed to find 2 books that I really like, and that I will surely finish.

Book 1
“Ma vie est tout à fait fascinante” (my live is completely fascinating) by Pénélope Bagieu. It’s a “BD” (French for comic book), and a little bit of googling learned me that...Surprise....Pénélope’s drawings became famous thanks to her blog :www.penelope-jolicoeur.com.
The little paperback already made me laugh out loud while waiting for the metro and while eating cornflakes in the morning – just to show you how funny it is. Page after page, I completely recognise myself. From the one where she begs her boyfriend to have a small kitten, to the one where she walks next to her Velib ‘cause she’s too afraid to ride it. If you’re female, and you live / lived in a big city as a twenty or thirty-someting, this book is yours. And it’s good to practise your French as well :-).

Book 2
“Pope Joan”. Yes indeed, another book about the fascinating life of a woman, written by Donna Woolfolk Cross. I’ve only started it yesterday, but oh boy : this is a page-turner! History, drama, intrigue, love,...I think it has it all. And I discovered today that the movie is coming out next week! Finally I’ll find my way back to the cinema.

Should I mention book 3?
All right, it’s “The yoga Bible “ by Christina Brown. I’m experimenting a bit with getting my body into strange postures, and the final goal is to get myself back to the gym. (don’t bother – female logic).

All right, yes, there’s a book 4.
(Which I should bring back to the library tomorrow). “Catholicism for dummies”. I have many Muslim students, who are very serious about their Ramadan. They asked me what Christians did during their Lent. And, shame on me, I could only guess “Uhm...no candy??”. I wouldn’t be N if I didn’t ran to the library straight after school to find out, not only about Lent, but about every single detail you need to know as a practising Christian.
As for my Lent-project, I decided to do 2 things : spend less time on Facebook. And don't buy any new clothes. Project 1 is going ok (just checking it every 30 min. instead of every 10 min.). Project 2 is a success as well (lingerie and shoes are not clothes, right?)
Heaven, here I come!(well, only of they've got books there, of course...)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A dizzy afternoon

Today, I had a nice pizza for lunch. After that, I went to my favourite bar for coffee and a "mousse au chocolat". I started reading my new book ( Pope Joan), and everything was just fine. I was enjoying a very long and relaxing lunch break.
But you feel something is coming, right? Right.
Suddenly, I got as dizzy as could possibly be. Everything went black and I was about to faint. I managed to get off my bar stool, and hurried outside - hoping the fresh air would do some wonders. But it didn't. I got to a bench just in time, and I collapsed - right there. On a bench, on Place de Brouckère - a square where fainting is the last thing you want to do. I slipped in and out of consciousness, and I managed to call P - who could do nothing else but talk to me, while I was lying there in "homeless-position".
"Go back to the bar, go back to the bar" was P's advice. Only, the bar was 20 meters away, and I couldn't stand on my legs even if the king had asked me to. Finally, slowly, I came back to earth. With shaky legs I managed the 5-minute walk back to school.

Collegue : "Wow, are you tired!?"
Me: "No, but I just fainted - in the middle of Place de Brouckère."
Collegue : "No way! Here, have some chocolate."
Me: "Thanks." (I didn't mention I just had a complete chocolate mousse).

All in all, it was a scary experience: fainting when you're on your own, in a place where more than one handbag gets stolen every single day. I haven't got a clue what happened. Maybe my book was too exciting, maybe my coffee wasn't strong enough.Anyway: this one is getting ready for an early night.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My wish list

In no particular order :

1. a new bike
2. a new laptop (this one is really dying)
3. a new cell phone (also dying)
4. a Wii fit
5. a baby

All donations are welcome. (I realise that this, in the light of the last wish, might sound a bit weird.)

Monday, March 1, 2010

The book seat

Last Friday my two maids of honour organised an “after wedding shower” for me. The goal was to provide me with a survival package for my first year as Mrs B.
First, they took me to one of the coolest, newest, hippest places in Brussels (top restaurant, loungey club, great DJ, live band, cocktail bar etc all in one). Then they managed to literally burry me under a pile of gifts. A voucher for a champagne breakfast. A voucher for a fancy lunch. Another voucher for a “sweet sin” (read: chocolate). Yet another one to go to the theatre. And a final one for the spa. All valid for two persons. So I can choose: bring Mr B, or bring a friend.
That was not all. I got two trashy gossip magazines...and a gift voucher to take a subscription to another girly magazine for one year. I got chocolates. And more chocolates. I got a designy box for the kitchen. And : I got a book seat. I had never ever seen one of those things (apparently it’s an “Australian design”) – and since I’m an absolute book addict, I think this is one of the best and most original gifts I ever had! By the time the waiter came with my second cosmopolitan, I had disappeared under the foresaid pile.
We managed to close the place at three am, after American pool-lessons from at least 4 guys, and after free cocktails from Eros Ramazotti’s impresario.
Finding the car and managing to get out of the underground parking lot was the last challenge of the evening. For me at least, ‘cause my two maids still had to convince the cops that “no, they only had a glass of wine during dinner” (right...).
Anyway, the cops believed the lovely girls, somehow I didn’t have a hangover, and everybody lived happily ever after.
I’m already looking forward to my survival kit for my second year of marriage :-)!