Geplaatst in Amsterdam, Personal

Steeds meer dames achter het glas

De afgelopen dagen zie je bij steeds meer winkels een plexiglasplaat hangen boven de kassa ter bescherming van het winkelpersoneel. Zo ook bij de Primera op het Limburg van Stirumplein. Wanneer ik oogcontact krijg met de dame achter de balie vraag ik haar of zij tegenwoordig een nieuwe baan heeft dat ze achter het glas zit. Heerlijk, zij begrijpt mij meteen. Wat hou ik toch van de Amsterdamse humor. We geinen nog wat verder. De discussie gaat over of de dames inmiddels niet te oud zijn en of zij nog wel wat zullen opleveren. Om de dames gerust te stellen herinner ik hen aan de tweeling van zeventig uit Slotervaart die na 50 jaar pas hun werk als dames van lichte zeden neerlegden. Zouden deze dames eigenlijk nog leven? Gevat als de Primera dame is merkt zij op dat juist de heren in de rij hierop het antwoord weten. Ja, ja, heren wat hebben jullie daarop te zeggen?!

Gebbetjes als deze zijn goud waard in een onzekere en spannende tijd. Voor mij hebben jullie ook een vitaal beroep! -by Bregje

Geplaatst in Amsterdam, Lifestyle

The addiction of materialism

A Buddhist monk is supposed to lead a simple life without attachment to anything that can lead to greed, envy or possessiveness.
Temptations of the modern world are hard to resist. Even monks are hooked on their cellphones and wear fashionable sneakers nowadays. 

Have you ever been to a children’s party? Children are overloaded with gifts. As a result that they can’t focus on using any of their toys to the fullest. Some toys eventually end up in the attic without ever been touched. 

Back in the seventies we had plenty of toys as well. Toys that would spark our imagination and creativity instead of like most modern toys which have only one assigned function. We did not have an entire hospital or circus in our toy box. We created our own circus using real life toads. Believe me, we had great fun.

In a material world where marketing has such an impact on us, where we’re surrounded with technological devices and money comes out of a hole-in-the-wall it is so hard to teach a child to appreciate their possessions and feel the responsibility to take care of them. 

I’ve always been good at saving money. I am a bit embrarressed to admit but at an early age I did not like to be invited to birthday party’s because I had to spend 50 cent of my allowance on a gift. When I was 12 years old I had enough savings to buy myself a secondhand bike. I was so proud of my bike. I treated my bike as if it was my baby. After taking good care of my bike for several years I was able to sell the bike for a good price. 

I count my blessings that I do not have to raise a child of my own in this material world. I have no idea how to raise a non-materialistic child in this material world. -Bregje 

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

Horror

While there are many benefits of social media, there is also a dark side to it. 

Bullying is of all times. Up to twenty years ago bullying was mostly verbal and physically. The bullying happened in the absent of parents and teachers. Once the bully got caught there would be a repercussion for his/her action. At home you were safe of harassment. Now a days it is so much harder to get away from the bullying.  I am talking about cyberbullying. It is in your face 24/7. Anonymous inappropriate and harassing messages and images distributed to a very wide audience. With just a tap on the keyboard and one click of the mouse your good reputation is down the drain. Once posted it’s a h*** of a job to erase its records. There have been many stories of young teens committing suicide because of online bullying. 

An other new phenomenon is the online dating. Today’s world of online dating makes it much easier to search for a match, but it also makes it easy for scammers to search for targets. There are many types of scams, from fairly innocent to very severe. Like ‘cat fishing’.  A “catfish” is a person who creates a fake personal profile on a social media site using someone else’s pictures and false identity to pretend to be someone other than him or herself. A catfish usually intend to trick the unsuspecting person either into falling in love with him or her or in some twisted way to get back at the other. In worst case they even take over your identity. There are also cases of romance scams. They use psychological tricks to lure in often lonely singles by gaining their trust and affection. Using lies to try to make easy money from an unsuspecting victim. 

Unfortunately there are many more disadvantages associated with the coming of social media. Just think of your privacy is at risk, the addiction, the lack of emotional connection, misleading information and so on. 

The question is do the benefits of social media really outweigh the disadvantages? -Bregje

Geplaatst in Amsterdam, Dutch

What makes a Dutch Dutch? 

A friend of mine, born and raised in Romania, asked me to blog about what makes the Dutch Dutch.

Doing some research on the net I discovered that there are many articles out there on the Dutch and their habits. Even courses are offered and books are written on how to handle the Dutch culture.

Dutch assertiveness and directness are notorious. Many internationals would probably say that the Dutch are often blunt to the point of being rude. It might take some all-out effort to get used to it without taking it personally. If you manage, it does have its advantages. At least you know where you stand.

It also striking that the Dutch are such a moaners. Their favorite subject to complain about is being too busy. An other great source of inspiration is the weather. Regardless of which season it is, there is always something to complain about.

The Dutch cuss a lot. A substantial number of cuss words they use are references to diseases, genitals or profanity. Furthermore several English cuss words are commonly in use. I do not mind a little cussing as long as you do not insult anybody. Unfortunately not everybody is aware of the impact of their cussing.

What else to know. Do not ever drop by unannounced as specially not at dinner time. They might consider your barging in as rude. Dutch like everything carefully planned out, such as the exact amount of food per person. There is a high probability that they will sent you away since there will not be enough food to share. On the other hand they are appreciated for being spontaneous, punctual and ‘cozy’.

Which brings me to the point that Dutch people are considered ‘cheap’. It is common that after they offer you a biscuit with your tea they will put the lit back on the cookie jar. I think Holland is probably the only country where they use a ‘bottle scraper’ to prevent wasting food. The Dutch have regularly been involved in wars. They learned how to survive by been budgetary and planning ahead.

Except when it comes to soccer the Dutch have no strong national pride. Holland is known for its progressive and tolerant attitude, regarding to the legislation and the freedom of religion.Sadly over the years Holland has become a lot less tolerant. I think it partly has to do with the national attitude. It’s all about modesty and being down to earth. Their motto is ‘doe maar normaal dan doe je al gek genoeg!’. Literally this means ‘ just behave normally, it’s crazy enough’. In away their modesty and down to earth attitude makes them a bit narrow minded and judgmental.

I suppose I have to dedicate another article on this topic, there is so much more to write about.

To what extent do I recognize myself in being typical Dutch? I have to admit, obviously apart from the bad habits, I am quite Dutch. -Bregje
photo credit: avlxyz Earl Grey. Hot. via photopin (license)

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

Finding your significant other

If there would be a God, for God’s sake, why is finding and keeping your significant other so difficult?

It all starts with physical attraction between two people. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if chemistry would be automatically mutual? There would be no more fear of being ghosted.

Or what about having a strong physical attraction between the two of you but there is no emotional connection!

Or even worse. It happened to me several times. Finding out years later that the guy I was madly in love with also had a crush on me, but neither one of us picked up these signals.

If you are lucky you’ll be struck by cupid’s arrow. Wedding bells are ringing…Your heart is racing, your palms are sweaty and your appetite gone. You can’t sleep. Focusing is nearly impossible. He is on your mind constantly. You realize you must be sick — or, even more serious, in love!

Unfortunately being in love is no guarantee for a ‘happily-ever-after’.After a period of romance at some point you run into the first obstacles. Every relationship has its ups and downs. Hanging in there, tackle problems, and learn how to work through the complex issues of everyday life. Love requires some hard work.

When you manage to stay together for a great length of time, a new problem arises. You might get bored: the same routines, the same annoying habits, the same predictable experiences and your love life is down to zero. Facing the menopause besides dealing with symptoms of aging, isn’t easy. When you get to this point of feeling yawn-y in your relationship there are several options. Be miserable, run, cheat or put some effort in and spice things back up.

I am afraid we have all been deceived. Love isn’t a fairytale after all.

In spite of all the heartache and effort we all like to share our life with someone precious. ‘Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away to others.’* -Bregje

*Brian Tracy

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

Give a little whistle!

Last weekend eight colleagues and I, went on an outdoor high rope adventure trail. One of the most difficult trails around Holland as our instructor insured us. It is designed to test your nerve and awaken your senses, by testing your skills, swinging through the trees crossing rope bridges and tarzan swings at heights up to 15 meters before returning to earth via numerous zip line, relying on just your safety cord.

After the first part of the trail you have to decide to continue or throw in the towel. Continuing means there will be no way back for at least an hour. At first I decide to go on but after reaching the next obstacle I change my mind and go back and chicken out. As soon as my feet hit solid ground I regret my choice.

Why did I listen to my little voice inside? Off course it was trilling but there was no life-or-death treat.

‘Take the straight and narrow path 

and if you start to slide,

give a little whistle!

Give a little whistle!

And always let your conscience be your guide.’   

– As sung by Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio

It might have been my gut feeling based on previous experience that I decided to quit. Over the past years I have been at several cross points were I had to make life changing decisions. I guess this time I choose the easy way out. -Bregje-

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

Parenting

Parenting is probably one of the hardest jobs to do. You need a license to drive, a diploma to swim, a certificate of conduct if you want to be a teacher and so on, but there is no diploma required for having children.

Do you recognize the following? You rather give up in exhaustion than enforce limits. Let your child butt in and take over every adult conversations on behalf of disciple your child. Leaving your precious back home to avoid an another embarrassing scene at the grocerystore.  Instead of encouraging your child to dress him- or her-selves, you take over because you’re  in a hurry. They nag about the rain, so you’ll take them by car.  Using the IPad as a virtual nanny.

Most parents know it’s not commendable to spoil a child materialistic. However how many parents are aware of pampering a child or not setting boundaries can also have a negative influence on the behavior of an infant. Instead they stick closely to their children as they attempt to shield them from being hurt or disappointed. Constantly telling them they’re so special.

What will become of these childeren? Some highbrows think we are raising a generation of narcissistic kids who think only about themselves all of the time and feel a sense of entitlement.

Time will tell… -Bregje-

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

Mixed race

Can you imagine having to pretend that you’re adopted because your white mom can’t acknowledge you being her daughter because of the color of your skin.
This happened to June Cross, a daughter of an interracial couple in the ’50’s. She narrated her life in an intriguing documentary called ‘secret daughter’. https://youtu.be/dIqrUVpU40M

My first reaction was how can a mother not acknowledge the existence of her own daughter! Unfortunately it is not all white or all black.

Up to now some people still view interracial relationships as immoral, unethical and in some places even illegal. The majority of biracial children have difficulties being accepted by either the white or the black community.

Growing up in Amsterdam, in my late teens, I remember lot of my classmates were the opposite. They were proud to be bi-racial and felt sorry for me being fully Caucasian.

Not so long ago I saw this video on Facebook on people having their ‘ancestor dna test’ done. This dna test uncovers where your DNA comes from around the world. Your DNA can tell you where your ancestors lived more than 500 years ago.
The results show that we’re all a lot more connected than we think we are.

In a few more centuries we might all be biracial and all have the same geographic roots…  -Bregje-

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

Warm welcome 

I’ve been asked to work as a substitute teacher for two days a week for the next two months. I agreed.
Yesterday I started my temporary job. My new co-workers and supervisor gave me a warm welcome. My direct colleagues are so helpful and involved. So is the supervisor, he came to my classroom twice. Once to tell me that I can probably stay for a longer period of time and once to ask me if I had a nice day.

A good start is half the battle…. -Bregje-

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

Talented

How come that some kids are born with an outstanding talent while others are not?
When I was kid my sister was a bright student while I had to work hard to even pass. My mom use to comfort me by telling me I had other talents. It took me years and years to discover my own talents.I guess it took me so long because my talents weren’t really visible like being a great musician for example, as this kid who plays the piano (link below)

At the age of 12 I won a club competition. I was asked to join the federal tennis-training. My mom wasn’t to fond of the idea me giving up my entire social life and hers to do an individual sport.

What if….? Would I’ve been the feared opponent of Steffi Graf? I am afraid not. Do I regret? I did for a long time, I often dreamt of either being a top athlete, musician or artist. Unfortunately this dream always ended by my alarm clock.

Of course just like everyone else I have different kind of qualities, but up to today I never had any significant talents.

Going public with my blog, seeing all the views by all the visitors, shows for the first time in my life that I also have a demonstrable talent… -Bregje-

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

‘ A good neighbour is worth more than a distant friend.’ But what about co-workers? 

As a teacher your job includes, besides tasks and responsibilities, a cast of co-workers, parents and students who you’ll be working with day in and day out. There is an excellent chance you spend more time with them than with your beloved ones. Therefore I tend to bond with the people I work with. Having business orientated conversation as well as small talk and private conversations. For me that’s important because it makes collaborating at work much more relaxed and enjoyable, since you have a better connection with each others. Over the years I developed a tight bond with ‘my cast’. Despite of I decided, because of circumstance, to leave my workplace after 6 years.

Eleanor Roosevelt once quoted: ‘Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.’ I disagree. I think many people can leave a footprint in your heart although they just pass by. I think that’s what makes leaving my job so hard. We might not see each other again, but I’ll cherish our great working relationship. Thank you. -Bregje-

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

The heart and soul of Amsterdam

In August 2010, Amsterdam’s 17th-century Canal Ring was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. ‘Sites are selected on the basis of having cultural, historical, scientific or some other form of significance, and they are legally protected by international treaties. UNESCO regards these sites as being important to the collective interests of humanity.’ But what about the heart and soul of Amsterdam!?

The identity of the Amsterdam culture is also determined by its residents. What really concerns me is that the balance between the amount of tourist and the residents of Amsterdam is really getting out of hand.

I developed an enormous allergy to a certain kind of tourist over the past few years. Some giveaways how to spot an obnoxious tourist. They wear ‘Amsterdam hats’, carrying Van Gogh Museum or Heineken gift boxes, wear their backpack in their front, ride and park their yellow rental MacBikes where ever they please, and get stoned and drunk all day, every day.
 Amsterdam is one of the biking capitals of the world and the Dutch are outstanding and experienced bikers. Unfortunately most tourist have never ridden a bike in their entire life and and therefore taking a ride of Doom on their rental bikes. Not to mention the pedestrians walking around like Amsterdam is as an open air museum, not paying attention to any kind of transportation.

The beer-bike tourists can be labeled as the most nuisance of all. Beer-bikes are huge pedal trucks for drinking party-crews. Aspecifically the kind that have decided their drunkenness would be even more awesome if broadcast to an entire city. This type of tourist like to show their appreciation for historic architecture mainly by urinating on it.

The presence of an overload of tourists in the city is an expense of the quality of life in neighborhoods, and it impacts the availability of affordable subsidised apartments. Amsterdam is overcrowded with tourists and forecasts show that this will only get worse.

Please do not rip out the heart and soul of my presious Amsterdam. -Bregje-

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

Childless-not-by-choice

From an early age I had it all figured out. Have sex at the age of 18 and start a family- husband, two kids and a dog- at the age of 28. 

Before I knew it I turned 38. Being allergic to dogs and my biological clock ticking overtime. Unfortunately, even though I had a relationship at the time, after a long journey I stayed childless-not-by-choice. I have grieved my childlessness. What first was an open wound in my heart is now an inflamed scar. 

What helps me grieving is to see that the grass isn’t always greener at the other side off the fence. Right now I even think life without kids isn’t so bad after all. Kids have a way of zapping all the meaning out of life. You have to clean up after them all the time, you can’t be spontaneous anymore because you have to plan everything ahead, your body changes, they suck your energy, you go broke, your friendships may suffer, kids do stupid things, you worry all the time … Me writing this does not mean that I never really wanted to have children in the first place. Don’t even dare to think that. Believe me never being called ‘mommy’  or having to answer the question ‘do you have children?’ every-time you meet someone new is a heavy cross to bear.
Realizing that there is a downside to having children is part of my grieving process. Like for a while I focused on parents with disabled children, blessing myself not to have a disabled child. 

Filling my time has never been a problem. Finding people to spend time with in the weekends, even tough I have a big network of friends, can be difficult. Let’s face it, parenting takes a lot of time; time experts say that it takes eight hours a day to raise two children to the age of 18.

Right now my biggest challenge is to acquire myself a new place in society and amongst my peers, who do have children, in order to fill the void in a life without children. -Bregje-

Geplaatst in Amsterdam, France

Camping

According to ‘wiki’ is camping an elective outdoor recreational activity. Generally held, participants leave developed areas to spend time outdoors in more natural ones in pursuit of activities providing them enjoyment. All with the purpose to enjoy the pure nature. Well my parents took this literally.

For me this disaster started when I was about 11 years old. I did not mind camping, but my parents decided to take us to a naturist campsite. I never forget the moment when our car entered the campsite. Imagine being a teen and being exposed to others than your own close relatives walking around in their Adam and Eve costumes. Discovering that there are so many different shapes and sizes. Some hidden under a big belly or behind big bushes, others fully hairless or pierced on places you can’t even imaging being pierced.

The first hour my sister and were astonished by what we saw and giggled till we pied our pants. All sweaty putting up our own tent, we were ready to go for a swim. The giggling and staring abruptly ended when we found out that swimwear wasn’t allowed at the pool. No way that I was taking of my shirt, ever!

Have you ever seen naked people play tennis? For those who have not, let me describe what I remember. Except for the white tennis shoes and knee socks as prescribed in the ’80 most people played tennis fully naked, some partly dressed. I guess determined by their size some man kept their underwear on as some women wore a bra to protect their private parts from whipping around. I will not go into further details, I leave the visualizing up to you.

In some cultures you have to take of your shoes by entering the house. On naturist campsites they have their own habits as well. Like bringing your own towel to sit on when you are invited to friends. Rather than putting on some cloths when it’s raining, people rather take it off.

Most campsites have a shop where they sell all kinds of stuff. Bread, candy, detergent, dairy products and all kinds of fruits and veggies on display racks. Pretty convenient to have a store like that on your campsite, you would think. But would you still buy your grocery’s there when I tell you naturist do shop naked as well. Can you imagine grabbing a guy’s crown jewels instead of a cucumber by mistake! -by Bregje

Geplaatst in Amsterdam

My tolerance is reaching its limit.

I am back home, as in back in Amsterdam, Holland. To my sorrow my trip to ‘The Big Apple’ has ended. Although seeing friends and family is nice.

Today I have lunch with one of my friends at the waterfront when a canal boat and a private boat bump into each other. To my opinion a captain of a small boat should know that bigger boat is less flexible. Not only because of their size, but also because of their ego’s. As I write this… Actually it might be the other way around. Men with small boats have bigger ego’s. Like men with big cars have small penises. Both captains get into a verbal fight. The passengers of the small boat seem to enjoy this verbal feud and start cheering like they are watching a game. The 10 passenger, all in their 60’s, are on day trip visiting ‘the big city’ of Amsterdam. You can tell they’re provincials by their accent, loud voices and way they behave. This sophisticated looking lady is clenching her fists like she is ready to fight. An also well dressed elderly man tries to lure out the other captain by provoking him to fight, meanwhile filming the scene.

Amsterdam gets a lot of tourist like this who miss behave themselves. Thinking in Amsterdam you can do whatever you want, because no body cares. I’ll bet they don’t act this way or would be amused if I would act the same way in their hometown. Not to mention the tourists who visit Amsterdam to drink or to get stoned.
Back to my story. As the captains were arguing, both boats are sailing in opposite directions. The cheering of passengers works like waving a red flag to a bull and the captain of the small boat jumps on the canal boat and runs upfront to the other captain. At that point we loose sight at the canal boat. I grap my phone and call 911. I tell the lady what just happened and point out the location of the incident. My hart is pounding. She ask me to describe the boat, the captain and the passengers. She tells me that a car is on it’s way, several calls came in on this incident. They might call me back as a witness Twenty minutes go by, the captain of the small boat has not returned jet. The so called sophisticated man, who before tried to drain the weasel, leaves the scene by foot and walks in the direction of the canal boat. After a while the older man returns to the boat and he takes over. He makes a turn with the boat and sails in the same direction as the canalboat. Meanwhile we see two policemen on the bridge. These men only know there was a crash between two boats. For my own safety I do not want the provincials to know that I called the cops. They ask me if they were aggressive as well. Maybe not aggressive but they sure adds fuel to the fire with their obnoxious behavior. One of the cops responds to me ‘what’s new!’ I go back to my friend. The boat with the ‘new’ captain, passes the cops.At the same time a boat of the water police department arrives at the scene. To my question if they have found the captain one of them respond ‘he just took off’. My friend and I leave the scene.

One hour and half later I have a call of the water police department. The cop, mr Stevens, wants to know if I am still at the scene. He would like me to describe the incident again, but since he is not able to write anything down, he will call me back later.
Seven thirty I get another call. The same guy. He asks me to describe what I’ve seen. I tell the whole story and he asks me some more details. Luckily the captain of the small boat came to his senses on time and left the boat. The cop thanks me for my input as a witness and that he has enough information on claim for damages. Outraged by his comment about the claim, I tell him that I called 911 because my concern of the safety of the captian. I don’t care about any claim. My tolerance is reaching its limit for sometime. Of course I am not talking about all provincials and tourists but a large part does not know how to behave like a guest. To my opinion these ‘guest’ ruin livability in Amsterdam. Mr. Stevens could not agree more. The police has to deal with this kind of visitors every day!

My respect to these men and women who join the police department. -Bregje-