One Eyed Life

During many previous posts, I’ve made a small note of being visually impaired. Though I’ve often wanted to post this, I have never actually gotten around to it. I finally got to it now, because I have had a few posts in mind but they wouldn’t make a lot of sense until I made my audience aware of this little situation. So here is the story of my disability.

When I was born, the doctors discovered that my eyes were underdeveloped. The left eye was beyond saving. It has never had any ability at all. It’s just aesthetic, I suppose. The other wasn’t much better but there was still hope for it. As a baby, I received multiple operations. The doctors removed the lens from my eyes. They also transplanted a cornea twice. Since I was so young however, my body rejected the donor organ. The doctors decided not to try again since it didn’t seem to work. During my youth, I’ve had a few other operations concerning my eyes. One was to fix a condition in my eyes that had kept deteriorating my eyesight. The other is a small tube above my eye that drains a certain harmful liquid from it and thus keeps the pressure down.

I have an enormous medical history in this regard. Most of it would mean nothing to you all. Admittedly, some of it is a mystery to me too. I don’t understand all the terms.

What I do know, however, is what this means for me. Unlike what people tend to think, I can’t tell you what I see. I don’t have a reference for what ‘normal’ people see so I can’t compare my own eyesight to it either. But I have had wonderful doctors who have explained the situation to me.

Because I only have one eye to perceive with, I can not see depth in any way. I can observe that it exists in the world. I can understand that one tree is closer than the other because it is bigger and that its roots are lower in my field of vision. But the actual depth that there is, I can not see. I live in a 2D panorama.

Additionally, my one-eyed life has made my field of vision smaller. When people walk to my left, I can not see them. When they walk to my right, I can often see them vaguely from the corner of my eye. This is why I like it when people walk at that side of me so they aren’t simply a voice to my left. I like to know where they are. That makes sense, right?

Finally, a noteworthy consequence of the removal of my lens and the damaged cornea. The lack of a lens means that I can not make things in my field of vision look sharp. It also means I can not filter light as well as other people can. My cornea, after its second transplant, was also rejected by my body. This means it is damaged and vague. This further increases the vagueness of my environment and the light sensitivity.

Of course, this explanation too, is more just a vague view (pun intended) of my daily life. So I will try to explain it. First, I’d like to elaborate on how light works for me. When I see light, it becomes distributed across my whole field of vision. It is the same with fogged up windows or shower doors. Light becomes a cloud of light, rather than just one point. This means that it makes it harder to see anything else besides the bright scattered light. In the dark, this means that there is only darkness and pools of light around me. Naturally, I rely on my other senses during the dark since my eyesight is practically useless.

The vagueness means that I see more unclearly than the first smartphone’s cameras. I have less pixels, I suppose. Things in my life are blurry. Yes, my glasses help to compensate it a bit, but I can still not see fine detail. Sharp contrast and large details make it possible for me to function in life (reading the computer with inverted colors and big letters, for example). But the majority of my life is simply shapes. A slim blot of color on the street can be a person walking or a person on a bike. A big dark block in front of me on the street might be a car or truck. I can’t recognize the faces of friends or family. I recognize them by their voices. I can’t read ‘normal’ text. I can’t define things in the store unless I know exactly what to look for. For example, when I need shampoo, I will look for an abundance in purple somewhere, since Andre Lon’s packages are nearly always a pleasant violet hue. So I know that if I find those, I find other shampoos too. This is how I often find my way through stores. I go by large details since I lack the small ones. My mind is always working overtime to try to identify what I’m seeing through the clouds of vagueness.

The fact that my brain works hard is one worth nothing too. Even I find it easy to ignore this part of my disability. It means that everything I do, from walking to the train station down the street to buying a sandwich will always take more energy than it will take other people. I do my best to lessen the work my eyes have to do. Sometimes I close them while I do chores at home but the effect of closing them does not make up for the energy spent. I often find myself needing insane amounts of sleep over the weekends to compensate for how much of myself I have been giving away in order to keep up with other people.

I must admit, this is something that I really still struggle with. Even if I admit to myself that I have been doing too much and that I need some time to regenerate, I do not always take the time to rest up. I will feel that since other people can do this, I can too; even though I know I can’t. I’ll continue to do my homework and attending classes; pushing myself onwards.

At the end of my past schoolyear, I felt that I was really on the edge of a burnout. I had exams and a project due. The project was to be done in only one week and it took up all my time and energy. I enjoyed it, for sure. It gave me a chance to show off all my talents. Yet even things I like can really take up my energy because it just means that I spend countless hours on them, like I did with this project. Honestly, school should not have lasted even half a week longer. I could not have done it.

I know that I probably make my situation sound bad with that last paragraph, but it really isn’t as pitiful as people might think. I am also an individual. I’m not just a blind girl who needs to be admired for trying to make something of life. I also cook and clean and do chores. I navigate the streets on my own using my cane and all my sense. I travel with buses and trains and everything. I visit friends who live hours away that way. Life isn’t so bad but it is just a work in progress that I can cope better with every day.

As it has been to me, may destiny be kind to you.

Advertisements

7 Lights I Don’t Want To Be Seen In

‘Street light’ and ‘lava lamp’ will not be featured on this list, although I really love lava lamps. I used to have one when I was younger. It had green light in it. Perhaps I’ll buy another some day, though I am not sure where I should put it…

Anyways, the lights I am talking about here are metaphorical. These lights represent perspectives people have had of me or those that I would rather continue to avoid.

Photo 04-10-2017, 20 24 45

  1. Trophy wife

Never will I complete someone else’s life. I’m not something to be shown off to friends. I am not a status symbol for anyone to have. I’m not someone who will bring another person into certain circles. Let us not even indulge upon the ‘wife’ portion here. Being a trophy girlfriend is bad enough.

  1. Other half of a heart

Why do people see their partners this way? It does not make sense to me. If someone else is the other half of you, then you are only half a person by yourself. So if that person is not there, you are incomplete. It makes your accomplishments slim because other people can do the same thing but it will be their own thing. You will only do it as half a person. Besides, I don’t want to be bound to someone like this. Being ‘the girlfriend’ is not something I ever aspire to be.

  1. Blind person

Yes, I do not see well. Technically it comes down to being visually impaired, but that’s not where the problem lies here. Saying this uses the word ‘blind’ as an adjective for the word ‘person’. This means that ‘blind’ describes ‘person’. I feel that saying this puts too much emphasis on something that is only a small part of me. I’d rather say ‘person who happens to be blind’. This way, the words behind ‘person’ simply give additional information. Besides, the word ‘blind’ could be anything here since I just ‘happen’ to be that.

  1. There when convenient

I initially called this ‘there when needed’ but that didn’t complete describe where I want to go with this. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the people who only come to you when it suits them; when they need something. There are also those who come to you only when it fits in their schedule. Rather than fitting you into their life, they will wait for life to give them a gap where you can fit. I’ll say no thank you to that.

  1. Entertainment

Obviously, I don’t want to be a person who exists simply to amuse other people. There is more to me. Of course, I can also comfort people and advise them about life, but the pendulum swings both ways. If I am going to give my time to people to help them out, I hope they will be there for me too when I need someone.

  1. Easy

OK, before you all call this one an obvious one, I must tell a short story. Recently, I had a crush on someone in my life. A close friend of mine and I were discussing relationships around that time. He explained that he was picky about people. I answered that I was too but then someone just came along. His reply was that he was not that easy. Ouch…

  1. Typical

You will rarely hear me say this, but I do not consider myself to be a typical person. Granted, everyone is unique. The media has a certain view of people of my age, however. Movies, books and social media depict them in a certain way. I am not that.

Things

Photo 03-10-2017, 22 01 17Minimalism is such a thing lately. I find it interesting, not that I would pursue it. I have too many books, pillows and plushies for that. I even have a small fluffy pink thing that looks like a cute dragon head to put my phone on. I tell myself it is so I don’t hear my phone vibrate when I’m trying to sleep. It’s either that or the thing is too fluffy and cute to lose.

I must say though, having less ‘things’ is nice. I have done a challenge of which I do not remember the name, that my mother recommended to me. This was a while back but I remember it. On the first day of the month, I had to get rid of one thing. On the second day of the month, I had to be rid of two things and so on. The challenge is to keep this up for the entire month. In that mind, I emptied my home of 496 different things. Granted, sometimes two of the objects were a pair of earrings, but it was still something I threw away. I feel like my home got very much de-cluttered.

Lately I’ve also been more cautious about what things I want to have. I bought a new tv stand where I can keep everything. I moved my radio into the closet too along with my two game consoles, all the games, controllers, CDs, DVDs and a box full of incense. It now feels much more logical to have all the things in one place. For my bedroom, I purchased new nightstands. They are still in the process of being filled but the drawer on my side of the bed has a handful of things. They are kept out of sight in that drawer so it looks very neat in my home.

In this fashion, the big closet I have in my living room is getting empty ever so steadily. It still contains my books and a hundred picture frames as well as my fish tank. But some day, I hope to empty it out a bit more too. Quite recently I tossed out the diaries that were sitting on the shelf. Why would I have to keep them? They are put to better use as recycled paper or cardboard rather than on a shelf in my house.

Some day maybe, when I move to a house that will be my own, I will not have a need for such a large closet. I can already assure you though, that there will be a book closet that might be just as big.

The Best Pet

Tinny

If there is one thing that my home makes evident about me (aside from my love of Zelda) it is the love I have for cats! My feline friends are in picture frames and I have statues of their brethren. I even have a self-designed mug of a cat. I always pick this mug when I drink tea or hot cocoa. I’ve been considering making a few more to make up a bit of a collection of cat mugs. Thoughts?

Cat mug.png
This image is wrapped around my mug

Anyways, cats are a wonderful pet to have. Though I am sad to announce that I currently have none since my landlord doesn’t allow them in my apartment, I have grown up with them. My family has always had cats. I vow to have a handful of fluffies again soon enough!

  1. Cats are quiet

Our felines can lurk around your house without you even knowing. They move on silent paws. They are the true hunters of the night. These little ninjas make sure you can still live in peace and quiet. Though some will occasionally meow incessantly in order to be obeyed. So I suppose we ought to keep them happy!

  1. Cats are cuddly

Of course, not all cats are cuddly. It depends on their personality and the way that they have been raised, whether they will like human contact. The cats in my life like to be affectionate. Tintel likes to sit or sleep on my lap. Mike likes any kind of cuddling and wants to be as close to your body as he possibly can (going so far as to plop down on the floor in front of you so you will pick him up). Gabber doesn’t mind lounging on people too and being petted. Should I get more cats in my life, I will be sure to raise them to love cuddling since it is an absolute delight! Tintel would often crawl into my bed with me at night and sleep with me until morning. I miss that still.

  1. Cats are clean

Cats tend to be neat animals. They will clean up after themselves and will even clean themselves. What little people might need to do is clip their nails (if needed), shave them or brush them. Though the former two activities might not make your cat too happy, the latter is often a bonding experience.

  1. Cats are independent

Unlike dogs, who need everything to be done for them, cats can live out their lives with little attendance. Feed them, clean out the litterbox, give them some attention now and then, perhaps brush them and make sure they are healthy by observing them is really all you need to do. It leaves time for other activities (or just more cuddles).

  1. Cats are generally soft

Let’s be honest, the simple fact that most cats are fluffy is absolutely alluring. Even random cats on the street make me stop and attempt to pet them. I do this even when I should be rushing off to class. Cats will be the bane to my grades.

  1. Cats have amazing eyes

The variety in color and shape of said eyes does not take away from their brilliance. There is such depth in them. I always feel like I can truly see a cat’s soul when looking at the creature’s eyes. For example, Tintel has a very strong gaze but she can look at you with kindness and love too. Mike on the other hand, always carries sweet, twinkly eyes on him; a sign that he always wants to be hugged. Gabber, the more introverted of the three, has calmer eyes.

  1. The bond with cats can be magical

I can honestly say that Tintel is one of my best friends. I don’t go out and party with her. I don’t ask her for advice about life. I confide in her though and I confess to her. No matter what I do in life, she will still love me and enjoy being around me. I might not be pretty or perfect, but she only cares that I care. If ever I was sad, her being near me always made me feel better. Her love has always been a divine gift, in my eyes.

Being Bad at Something is Good

Over the past few years, I’ve been nurturing a child of mine. No, this is not a human child. This is a story that is as close to my heart as a child must be. I must nurture it, grow it, see it mature. I must guide it into becoming something wonderful that makes the world better. That is a bit like a child, no?

But I often told myself that I wasn’t ready yet for such a great thing. I wasn’t good enough. My vocabulary wasn’t able to captivate my imagination. My characters weren’t fleshed out enough yet. My world needed more content. I needed more experience and skill. I felt my skills weren’t good enough. My dialogues were insufficient. My ability to capture emotion in characters was short-sighted. My story didn’t make sense. I did things wrong that ‘experts’ said one should not do when writing. I simply was not good enough in so many ways.

Then comes the obvious truth however. One can not become good at such an art without trying. If one never starts writing, one will never become good. I’ve considered writing something else first, to hone my skills, but I decided that a different story would not be as close to my heart. If I do not believe in it and love it and yearn for it, then how can I write it? That is when my thoughts started changing.

There was also the thought of later. I can’t start now because I’m studying. I have enough to do for school. I can’t spend my time writing. That thought too, makes no sense. Writing is a joy (or it always was to me) so why would I not use it to diffuse the stress from studying? It would create a balance and keep me happy. It’s never too soon nor too late to start writing. Today is as good as any day.

My writing style will become more flowing as I progress. My vocabulary might not be abundant but if I use it wisely, I can make anything sound classy. Being aware of mistakes that experts point out is the first step to internalizing the correct way. So that are all these ‘not good enoughs’ truly? They are lessons to be learned from so to become better at this craft.

I know my lessons are obvious ones. Write now and not later. Write what you believe in. Write if you want to write. Write something terrible so you can become better next time. Sheer determination and desire is pulling me through at this point.

I’m sorry that this post is a bit short and a bit obvious too. There is not much structure to it either but perhaps it helps another writer regain their faith in themselves. If I can believe, then they can too. Just keep on writing, fellow humans, and also look forward to that book series that may one day come out where the author line says Tristin R. F. Worth!

May destiny be kind to you.

Time Heals Nothing

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor hourglassThe Oxford dictionary has two definitions for time as a noun and three in the category of verbs. Each definition has countless sub definitions. This, to me, just makes it more confusing. What exactly is time? I consider it to be a measurement of the passing of an existence; a sequel of events and movements.

I stopped to think about the idea of time today because I was conversing with a friend. He let me know that a girl he had had his eye on had rejected him. They had gone on a date but she had concluded that they were better off as friends. He felt genuinely sad about this. My first instinct was to tell him that time would heal all wounds. Yet then a small voice in the back of my mind sounded, “Does it?”

My fingers stopped dead in their tracks as I was typing a reply to my friend’s message. Was time really a medicine for all things? It took me a minute to realize that time has little to do with any healing processes.

Of course, there is the obvious notion that time does not cure sickness. Common colds cure from rest and proper nutrition. Other illnesses are cured by antibiotics or other medicine. Some sicknesses, sadly, can not be cured. Yes, it takes time for the measures to take effect, but it is not time itself that heals.

On an emotional level, time is also out of business. I have also spent my time on heartbreak and rejection of some kind. I am a millennial, we all have our love stories so I also have mine. Looking back, time never solved anything for me because it just kept on passing. It did not change my thoughts (or my heart) on anything. I just carried on in the same state. Time never changed that I felt sad or that I missed someone. The simple passing of time only reminded me of all that I could have spent with them.

There have however been things that made the thoughts and emotions pass. Proof of that is myself. I am here still. I am no longer sad. I am not hung up on a past love interest. I too have moved on. What caused me to move on was never time. It was rather the kindness and presence of other people as well as (deliberate) changes in my own life. Sometimes I got so busy with a new hobby or study that all my energy and excitement was raised again. Then I would not feel sad about someone because the time I would’ve liked to spend with them is spent on something else that I am passionate about. Sometimes friends showed me these new things in life or made many little changes to my life to ensure it would be ‘mine’ once more. In that way, it belonged to just me. In the old life, it was common to have a person there with me. In the new life, I was alone and that was okay. There is also the possibility of a new love interest coming into my life or simply new people that amuse me on a platonic level to the point where I no longer feel a need for that former person.

Yes, time drives change. Time allows space (pun intended) for old things to become new. Encounters between persons is enhanced by time. Time itself, however, is not what heals. It is changes. So if you are dealing with heartache or rejection, change something! Even if it is the color of your hair or walls. Change will help change your heart.

May destiny be kind to you.

 

What I Learned At Abunai!

Abunai
Myself as princess Zelda and my friend as Link (Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)

Isn’t this a cute picture of the legendary hero called Link and his counterpart Zelda; princess of Hyrule? Well, dear reader, the royal one is myself in a glorious costume that indeed makes me feel like a queen of a kingdom. I will resume with some context to help you understand the situation.

My friend (in the green suit) finally managed to convince me to attend a Japanese convention with him. The convention called Abunai spans two and a half days. The event starts on Friday afternoon and continues until early evening on Sunday. In full costume and with appropriate props, my friend and I dove headfirst into the experience of Japanese culture. I had not a clue what awaited me within the halls of the hotel building aside from other cosplayers and merchandise.

There was more than that, I soon discovered. Among workshops, music, games (both in video style and board versions), acts and the previously mentioned, there were countless other things to lay one’s eyes on. Yet for me, the most glorious treasure that I discovered at Abunai is the lessons I have learned.

I have limitations and it is okay to admit to them. On Saturday evening, I was completely exhausted to the point where I just wanted to cry and go to bed. However, there were some complications with getting home as well as with my friend noticing how exhausted I truly was. Honestly; this was a new level of tired for me as well. Once in bed, my muscles kept tensing so I still could not fall asleep. Lovely…

I don’t like to depend on others and would rather be able to keep control of situations myself. An example is again what is mentioned above. I wanted to make the choice to retreat to sleep yet was unable to since I could not drive to the location where we slept by myself. Being dependent on other people can be very tedious. Another situation is that I often did not know my way in the building or the halls or rooms where too dark for me to navigate in. I had to ask my friend for his arm or hand so I could safely move on through.

I prefer my long, white cane over my short, indicative one. Before this becomes confusing, I will explain the difference. Since Abunai is a busy place, I decided to take my short white cane with me. This one tells people that I do not see well and that might give them a hint about perhaps stepping aside. I also have a longer cane with a ball at the end. This one I roll on the ground in front of me to detect obstacles or differences in ground level. Since Abunai is so busy, this one would be inconvenient to use. However, I have noticed that I felt a little insecure when I had to use my small cane. I enjoy the safety and assurance of the longer cane.

Junk food really doesn’t suit me for a multitude of days. At the event there was a food court where you could buy all sorts of foods. The most healthy option were sandwiches. On the first day there I consumed a pizza. On the second day I had a cup of instant noodles. These foods got very tiring after a while. They do not grant a lot of energy so on the final day I insisted I wanted something better. Thus, we discovered the sandwiches. Happy days! This point also concerns sodas. I wanted to drink water for days yet the opportunity did not arise to really come by said water.

I do not associate as much with Japanese culture as my friend had hoped. I was often confused at who certain characters were. I recognized a few of them (though often after my friend pointed them out and led me to them so I could see them more closely). The anime that was mentioned rarely rang a bell. The music at the karaoke bar was no too common to me aside from the Disney songs and the song I sang with my friend. We have a song, even though we are not a couple. Still, we claim it is our song and we would not dare sing it with anyone else. A girl asked my friend to sing it with her but he said he wouldn’t song-cheat. I ‘awww’-ed for a while.

My energy levels can’t cope and it becomes too overwhelming. Though my friend thinks this might be due to the fact that it is my first time going, I am still fairly certain that the whole thing is just a little too much in total. There are so many sounds and sights to take in. It also takes a considerable amount of energy for me to navigate with my bad eyesight. Keeping up with my friends can be tiring. Plus, we often spent our time there until well into the night. That is not something I can truly keep up with.

I have not yet made up my mind about going again next year. I assure you that it was a fun and interesting experience that I am grateful for having. I got to sing karaoke, play a childhood game, make a bento box that looked like a dog and play a board game called orthelo (and win 49-17, ha!) but it was a little much. Should I go again, then I would do so for only one day.

May destiny be kind to you.

PS: For those readers on the coast of the United States, I hope you will be safe and sound when Harvey hits. My wishes go out to all of you.

 

Cats! And What They Don’t Have To Worry About

TinnyTo make sure your day might be better or stay better, here is a cat post. These fluffy things deserve a spotlight now and then, even though they’d probably hide in a sock drawer if we physically tried that. Instead, I will write about them. Here are 6 things cats don’t have to worry about; accompanied by that depiction of a lovely fluffy.

  1. Shoe sizes

Or any sizes of clothing, for that matter. Even though some people dress up their cats, something I do not do, there is little to worry about when it comes to sizes. Even if there are size worries, that’s because we insist that they need to wear things. Silly humans.

  1. Paying rent

Many cats live in homes that we pay for. We pay all expenses that they need. Cats don’t even understand the idea of trade or monetary systems. They don’t need a salary, a job and they don’t have bills to pay.

  1. Bedtimes

The lucky fluffballs just sleep when and where they desire. One cat I know (she’s basically my cat but lives with my parents still) who sleeps in the weirdest places and on weird objects. Of course, there are the mainstream boxes she uses. But she is also found sleeping atop plants, in fruit baskets and the ultimate oddity; in the dishwasher…

  1. An education

Cats don’t need a university, even though a cat food company disagrees as they published commercials called ‘Kitten Kollege’. I highly suggest watching them for entertainment purposes, even though they don’t align with my point here. Cats don’t need to figure out what they want to do with their life. They just ‘are’. All of them are cats and that’s all there is to it. Their mothers teach them everything they need to know and instinct tells them the rest.

  1. Cleaning up their room

Cats don’t own things. The most they may ‘own’ is a certain windowsill that the dominant diva cat declared her own. They don’t own toys and such that they keep in a separate room like human children. What little they do interact with, we clean up for them. There are no mother cats that tell them to go clean their room.

  1. Interior design

Even if cats do decide a portion of a place is theirs, they don’t have places such as IKEA that are trying to tell them what their home should look like. They don’t need to install bathrooms and kitchens and then buy matching paintings, plants and blankets for literally everything in there (the bane of my wallet’s existence).

Culture Shock: The Netherlands

For those of you who are thus far informed, I am a Dutch person. This means I am from the Netherlands (not to be confused with the ‘Deutsch’ from Germany, please). As every culture has their own traditions, habits and assets, so do we. Since I have been lucky enough to compare this culture to those of other places I’ve visited, I’d like to summarize the main cultural aspects of the Dutch. And no, I am not going to talk to you about wooden shoes, tulips and windmills.

Culture shock

  1. Straightforward

Dutch people are very straightforward. They don’t like to waste your time or their own. They are brutally honest and can be very blunt. This might seem rude to some but this is how the Dutch are in their daily dealings. In our minds, it just means we are being honest and sincere. We don’t like to play around or be made fools of or do the same to others. Phony compliments aren’t really a good idea in this country. Just be real with us!

  1. Celebrating a newborn

This one occurred to me when I was on my way to visit my friend and her boyfriend to meet their newborn baby boy. While I traveled I was conversing with an American friend and I told him how we celebrate. Besides cards and bears, we also have a treat for guests. The parents provide the treat. Round biscuits are covered in a layer of butter and then sprinkled with a treat we call ‘muisjes’, which translates to ‘little mice’. The small circular objects are made of sugar and coloring. Packaged muisjes contain either white and blue, white and pink or white, blue and pink substances. The colors of the musijes indicate the gender of the child or children that was/were born. When I visited my friend, I was given a biscuit with white and blue mice.

  1. Koningsdag

In the Netherlands we have an annual day of celebration called Koningsdag (King’s day). Though during some years we had a queen ruler and then it would be called Koninginnendag (Queen’s day).

On Koningsdag, people celebrate the king. Most citizens however use the day as an excuse to drink and party. People can sell their used goods on the street without needing permission for it. As a child I often visited these markets to look for cheap toys.

It is also common for people to dress in orange, as that is our country’s color. Some people dress in symbols of the lion as well. The date of the day corresponds with the birthday of the king (or queen) that is currently in power.

  1. Terraces

The cities in the Netherlands are not prone to parks as you would find them in the United States, for example. We do not have big squares within the centers dedicated to greenery and ponds and benches where old men can feed ducks.

Instead of this, we have terraces. A terrace is basically an outdoor eating place. Restaurants and cafes have tables and chairs set out on the pavement in front of their locations. Guests can enjoy the weather and a nice plate of their favorite food at the same time. This is the ideal place to catch up with friends, in my opinion. I love going out for lunch and/or drinks with friends, weather permitting, of course. Our weather is very bipolar, after all.

  1. Stroopwafels & Hagelslag

Let’s talk some more about foods. First off there are stroopwafels. This treat is the combination of a waffle and a cookie. And yes, they are delicious.

Hagelslag is sprinkles that is eaten on bread. This is a common breakfast and lunch food. My mother still eats two slices of bread for breakfast and two for lunch. The hagelslag she (and I) eat are made from dark chocolate. They can be found in various chocolate types and also some fruit-flavored types.

  1. It’s all flat

The Netherlands has gained the nickname ‘the lowlands’, which is rightly given to it. The reason why it earned this name is that the land itself is located blow sea level, shielded from the waves by dykes (constructions of dirt and grass that are like extensive ‘hills’ around the country). The country itself is very flat, too. If you want a summary of the landscape; it is level, with small creeks dividing off square of grassland. That is basically what the Netherlands is.

  1. Happiness

For some odd reason, it seems the Dutch think everyone needs to be happy. Everyone is trying to enjoy life. Everyone is living the good life and everyone is going on vacations and showing off their pictures. Additionally, this country often scores well on rankings of happy countries; usually accompanied by the Nordic countries, Switzerland and Canada.

  1. Camping

I wasn’t completely aware of this one being typically Dutch until I browsed across the internet a bit. It turns out that the Dutch are quite prone to camping. My family does it every year. Often times when I mention it to friends abroad, their response is, “Oh, I’ve done that once.” or “I’ve always wanted to go camping.” Yet here in my country, nearly everyone has done it before. And why not? Camping is absolutely delightful. In many instances, I prefer the forest and my tent to a luxurious hotel.

  1. Dutch cuisine

Ever wondered what the Dutch restaurants have to offer? Well then, I challenge you to find a Dutch restaurant. They practically do not exist. What comes from my mother’s kitchen is not what you get in any restaurants here. We’ve adopted countless cuisines from abroad and thus relinquished our own. Even in my own kitchen, it can’t be said that I eat Dutch foods.

  1. The G, J and R

Since I am writing in English (to an audience that understands Englih) I am gong to talk about these letters from an Anglophone view. The G, in Dutch, is a very hard and rough sound that has no equal in English nor in other languages I am familiar with.

The J, on the other hand sounds like the letter Y in English. An example is the Y in the words ‘you’ and ‘yard’. That is how our J sounds.

The R works the same as the R in Spanish, if that helps anyone. The R is rolled and thus gets a more vibrant sound to it. Add onto this that we have countless words that sound with ‘gr’ therefore giving them a very hard and lively sound right off the bat.

On a note; the region in the North of the Netherlands known as Friesland (I know that sounds funny) has a more gentle G. The rule for this is quite strange though. When the letter is placed at the start of a word, it is pronounced in the way an English G would be. However if it is found later in the word, it is pronounced in the same hard manner as the rest of the country says it.

Peculiar folk we are.

Many Little Things

Summer is quickly approaching! In theory, that is. It’s been cloudy all week and we’ve even had rain. One sign that summer is here though is that it’s insanely humid. The levels are always above 90%. I don’t like it.

But in such times of ‘darkness and gross moisture in the air’, I must remember to appreciate other things. Instead of once again sitting on my couch and listing off all the things I like (I have done this before) I am going to make a little list here of actual things that I appreciate.

  1. Random greetings on the street. A number of days ago, I was on my way to school. It was just an ordinary day and I was traveling to take an exam. The street were fairly empty since it was about 8 in the morning. Someone on a bike passed me by and said, “Good morning to the pretty lady with the white cane!” I resumed my journey smiling and with the feeling that the day was okay.
  2. Cat pictures. Those persons who don’t understand the joy of cat pictures on the internet have not yet indulged enough, I assume. I have over 60 on my phone. I once spent a day incessantly spamming them to a friend since her boyfriend had broken up with her.
  3. Healthy treats. The past few weeks I have done little else but remain cooped up in my home. I had a big project to finish and I wanted to do it correctly (I passed so it paid off). All the while I consumed healthy snacks; tomatoes, carrots and apples are at the top of my list.
  4. Music. I mean both the music that I destroy my speakers or headphones with as well as the chance to play it myself. Now and then I love to go all out when playing my guitar. It is a great method to calm myself down. It is a form of therapy, if you like.
  5. Beautiful words. Is this a strange thing to be appreciative of? In my opinion not. I am a perfectionist. This shines through especially in language. I enjoy learning new words and trying to internalize them into my daily life. My latest love has been the word ‘pedantic’.
  6. A good phone call. During the busy period I experienced the past few weeks, at one point a friend asked if she could call me. I allowed it, half-knowing what she would have to tell me. I was right. She told me that her and a friend of ours were now dating. Beyond this part of the conversation, we continued to talk for hours. After we hung out, I went to sleep feeling pleasant.
  7. Sweatpants and sweaters. How else would I have survived the busy times full of projects and studying?
  8. The comfort of my own home. Even the most beautiful hotels and my best friend’s home can’t compare to my own home. It’s my little castle. I’m the princess of this palace. I can do as I please, dress how I like, eat what I want and schedule anything when I desire. The freedom is endless. Plus, here I have thermostat powers.
  9. Naps. This has been another way for me to survive the busy times. I did not get a great night’s sleep. I had a few hours at night and another few in the afternoon. In between these times, I would work on school-related subjects.
  10. Genuine compliments. Recently I had to defend my project. Afterwards, I received a huge compliment on my report. The teachers said it was very well done. There was a lot of research and details. They also said that it was pleasant to read. One of the teachers said, “I wish I could write like you.” If becoming an author never happens, I can just write business reports for a living to please the eyes of investors.
  11. Time to breath. Now that the schoolyear is coming to a close (for better or worse), I have time to breathe. That is also why I got a chance to think about things and write this piece.
  12. Genuine inspirational quotes. Here’s one; “May destiny be kind to you.”