Who Says You Can’t Go Home…

It is a rainy September day and this inspires a heavy melancholy stemming from the days when left I home to return to class. The last sun rays lingering through golden leaves and the smell of autumn trigger an irrational homesickness.

In the past few weeks I have been working on a show called “Home Is Where…”, which used interviews with Third Culture Kids to explore the notion of belonging and well.. home. Third Culture Kids (TCKs) are those who spent a significant part of their developmental years outside their parents culture, creating their own hybrid culture. On paper, this would make me one. In practice, my parents have been the textbook examples of integration and I happily grew up in a small town in the Netherlands. Happiness is relative, there was definitely a subconscious sense of “Otherness” not to be explored until decades later: the main evidence was my restlessness, my need to leave home.

“Home Is Where…” is part of a bigger project, an online oral history library on SoundCloud and hearing the different testimonies on how TCKs struggle with the notion of Home, made me realise how lucky I am.  I have always known where home was, even though returning forever would be Option Z.

Then #Brexit happened in June and (unrelated) my parents sold the house I grew up in.

Our family home by my sister’s Lomo

As I drove away last July with the boy next to me, my sister in the back and a car full of childhood memories: it felt like an anti-climax. My parents waving goodbye on the driveway, with me desperately trying to avoid the kerb while reversing… My mind was on the road before I even turned the corner.

Back in London the realisation hit.

#Brexit is a complicated matter and to me it felt I became the Other. When the UK rejected to be part of the EU after a campaign built on xenophobia, I cried. There are many valid reasons to have voted Leave but the main narrative of the Leave campaign was so hateful, it coloured the result. For the first time in my 14 years on the island, Option Z suddenly moved up the Alphabet of choices. Simultaneously, the house that I see when speaking about Home will no longer be that.  That what was once my nuclear family-of-four has levelled up into three couples. With their own lives and their own homes.

I wanted to hold on to a home where my friends are, where I drink in the same bar every time I return, but my friends are starting their own families and the bar changed ownership. I live out of suitcases and boxes, I don’t decorate where I sleep: always ready to move. Home was always somewhere else. Not yet here and now no longer there either.

The salvation to my lost soul is a homebody who fixes everything to his liking: modifying living rooms, bed rooms and car interiors within the limits of rental agreements and space. Wherever he is, he creates comfort and happiness.

Back in London the realisation hit: wherever he is, home is.

Order this and cry for joy (Serendipity)

FxCam_1389786807541This morning I woke up with a writer’s hangover, meaning that this was not caused by overindulgent alcohol consumption for a change but by negative feedback on a project. Let’s be fair here, not just the project, more specifically – my writing. It was a short email, the bulk apart from intro and sign-off read:

[…] I really did not like it. Too contrived, too many and too vague characters, too few inspiring, original or even funny situations and very questionable dialogues. I don’t see any way this can be improved (not even through improvisation.) […]

Dear Reader, I cried. This project has taken years of preparation and indeed some stress in the last few months. So after having had to initially control my disappointment because I was in a meeting, all the while self-doubt eating away at my soul, I allowed myself to be upset for about two minutes. It seemed silly to wail for much longer, especially over someone’s opinion, but long enough to process the pain. I got comforted by my amazing housemates and I decided to sleep on it.

 …I allowed myself to be upset for about two minutes. It seemed silly to wail for much longer, especially over someone’s opinion…

Waking up felt like having been through 15 bouts of heavy-weight boxing and not having come out as the winner: physically and emotionally bruised. I am still annoyed at myself for not (yet) being a better writer. Still today is a day to be kind and this has already been  greatly helped along by two incidents this morning:

A radio interview with British crime-writer Ann Cleeves, who is now hugely successful; having two of her creations transferred to the small screen on both BBC and ITV. She confessed herself being very lucky: one of the reasons why a television series was now made was because the person, conveniently in charge of ITV producing, picked up her book in a second-hand shop. Ann had been writing since 1986 and felt that success, though lucky, had also been a long-time coming. She literally told anyone who was writing now to keep on going and to just enjoy it.FxCam_1389786709940

Secondly, I got a postal package. An unexpected package, when not containing Anthrax and the like, is one of the most exciting things that can happen on a day. Most delightful, the package contained a belated birthday present in the shape of Apricot jam with Schnaps and a chocolate liqueur. More importantly, it also contained a postcard with my cousin and her family’s best wishes for the new year and a casual afterthought:

“..you’re already a writer, the rest will come along in time…”

Postcard linesSerendipity made me smile, as I turned the postcard with pictures from the Würstelhütte and Käsekrainer, reading the small print: “Order this and cry for joy…”

“..you’re already a writer, the rest will come along in time…”

A Hero in A Pizza place

It was busy, I was hungry and decided to go for pizza. It was a craving I had been having for weeks but never quite gave into. Today was going to be the day. I was hungry to the point of ‘hangry’: the state of upset one gets if food is not consumed soon enough. Walking around the food-court, I discover an amazing stone-oven pizza place Franco Manca, with a pizza for the price of a luxury sandwich. Had I not upgraded to buffalo mozzarella that is, which I had. Now it was just the price of a pizza. They had oil and chili flakes on the side, which was just great because I didn’t have to ask for it.

I carried my tray with the steaming hot pizza to a table and hangry as I was attacked it with my hands. Folding the gorgeous chewy dough to keep the melting cheese and tomato in place, I inhaled the slices. It was amazing. Suddenly, I felt watched and there was indeed a lady at the opposite table, feeding her baby in a high-chair and looking at me. First I thought she might be upset at the way I ate but then I recognised the look. She too was hangry. The baby got fed in double-time and her partner, a man, who was sitting behind her was clearly unaware of the situation as he tried to distract the baby. I think everyone should be taught to not distract others when eating. The lady barked something at the unhelpful man and he backed off. Franco Manca's sourdough pizza

After the baby was fed, the lady got up and walked to the pizza place. The baby was crying for his mother. The man ignored it for a good few minutes, then started imitating the baby to distract it. Hm. The lady came back upset, clearly too hangry to make a decision. The man looked at me and asked with a strong East European accent that sounded like a demand: “What is that ?” The lady smiled apologetically. I smiled at her and said it was the tomato cheese one, the second one the list. I omitted the buffalo mozzarella bit, it seemed too complicated to explain from such a distance. The man looked at the lady as if to say “See, easy”. He didn’t get up though. Nope, she walked back and queued to order. The baby started crying again.

The man lifted the baby out of the high chair and let it loose in the food court. Hm. The baby couldn’t find his mother so wandered off. The man looked at me smiling as if sharing a joke, I was hoping he would walk after the child before it reached the corner. Eventually the man did, he walked after the child – leaving all their belongings: bags, pram, coats and all unattended at the table. When the lady turned to see where her table companions were, I saw a moment of panic: stay in the queue or go back to the table? I tried to make eye-contact. I signalled the two were off on a wander and that I would keep an eye on their stuff. Luckily, this is really easy to do with one hand.

A few minutes later, this Franco Manca is really fast too, the lady came back with two pizzas. Then the man showed up and put the baby back in the high chair and started eating his pizza. The lady peeled a satsuma and gave a bit to the baby. She then cleared the table of all the baby debris and put it back underneath the pram. The man kept eating. The baby offered the man some satsuma. The man kept eating. The baby offered his mother some satsuma, who exchanged it for a new part.

Finally, she started her own pizza, with the same urgency as I had just 15 minutes before. Two bites into her pizza, the man deposits half his pizza on her plate and tries to take half of hers. The baby waves around a bit of satsuma.

As I am watching the heroic lady help him shove half a pizza on his plate, I get up and realise that if this glimpse of a possible future: I am perfectly happy to wait.

Predictions, predictions – bring on 2012!

The first post of this blog is dated October 2008 in which I talk about “having to write”. This need seem to disappear for a year until October 2009 when I got some sad news and realised that I “had to write because that’s what I do best.”  Since then I have shared anecdotes about my London life, my struggle with the so-called Quarter Life Crisis and my search to find what I wanted to do.

Is it ironic that tears, tantrums and two years later, what I want to do turns out to be writing? Writing, which comes as naturally to me as breathing, is a legal profession (unlike breathing). Perhaps a lazy choice but I feel that my challenge in my chosen profession is not so much the writing as the ‘getting paid’-element of it. It makes me happy, so if we go with the “start your profession from a passion”- mantra, I’m on my way.

Who’d have thunk? Apparently the fortune teller who 18 months ago predicted that “by the end of 2011 I would have discovered what I wanted to do and do it.” It gave me something to hold onto this crazy, chaotic year and amazingly, 2012 will start with a new contract as a social media writer and a few creative writing projects in the pipeline.

It was also predicted that I would possibly have settled down with house and man.  Keyword being possibly as she also pointed out that “I’m bad in relationships… but I try.” Points for trying then: the house has materialised on The Square but no suitable Prince Charming yet. (Being told you’re bad in relationships doesn’t mean you have to lower the standard!)

In any case, the guy needs to be flexible (ba-da-boom) as 2012 is going to be busy. Thanks to your suggestions I shall finish the list of 2012 challenges with these three:

  • Witness a birth ( note: animal birth is allowed too)
  • Learn how to shoot a gun. ( because it scares me and it should be about challenging yourself.)
  • Learn to sing “Ave Maria” – the Bach/Gounod version. ( I just listened to the Maria Callas version. It won’t be like that.)

Soon I’ll start my brand new blog with the how/what and why but for now I wish you a Happy New Year and leave you with the video below. Have a great 2012!



One Man Two Guvnors

I was kicking the blues yesterday and what better remedy than seeing One Man Two Guv’nors at the National Theatre. My really cool sister got us tickets on the third row in the stalls – great places, but thank god not the first row with the amount of audience participation that was involved…

The brilliance starts with the 1960s band ( think very early Beatles, when they still wore the silly uniforms)  that plays a few songs as the people coming into to the auditorium: it is worth it to come in a bit early.

One Man Two Guvnors is written by Richard Bean and based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni. The story is now set in England 1963, James Corden stars ( and I mean that in the shining meaning of the word) as Francis Henshall, a hard-up and hungry musician who takes a job for a small criminal Rosco Crabbe.

Rosco is in Brighton to claim his fiancee the dim Pauline. It’s to be a marriage of convenience – Pauline’s dad Charlie owes Rosco’s family money and with Pauline and £6000 this would all be settled.

The play however, opens with Pauline and wanna-be actor Alan’s engagement party as Rosco is supposed to be killed a week before by his twin-sister Rachel’s boyfriend Stanley Stubbs.  Shock and confusion when Rosco (and Francis) join the party.

Soon a slap-stick comedy of confused identity commences, and to make things worse Francis accidentally gets employed by Stanley ( yes- the murderer and the boyfriend) too. He now has two guvnors to serve and keep happy. Oh and Rosco turns out to be Rachel in drag, who is waiting for her boyfriend Stanley -geddit?

James shows off his skills with his portrayal of Francis. He’s quick-witted in improvisation when bantering with the audience and his physical ability is admirable. He owns the slap-stick scenes – a particular high light when hungry Francis has to serve lunch simultaneously to his two masters in two different rooms. Add  a bumbling waiter and an unsuspecting audience-member to the mix and it turns into perfectly choreographed and hilarious chaos.

The second half is much calmer than the first, but there are still gags aplenty. Francis develops a crush and all the characters need to discover the truth about each other. Throughout the performance, scene changes are accompanied by songs of the band and all the characters have a chance to shine in a transition number: be it singing , showing off their musical skills or even their bodies….

We literally cried with laughter all night: the situations are incredibly silly and entertaining. It is the complete package and delivers with a beautiful set, in words, music and action. One Man Two Guvnors is one perfect piece of entertaining theatre.

Ten things to do on a first birthday

1. Jump on a big mattress like a trampoline, trying to avoid small heads and feet of fellow birthday guests while doing so.

2. Have animated dialogue about new big schools that will be attended after the summer holiday when conversation-partners both turn four.

3. Read books about princesses with glitter hair and animals with touchy-feely soft skin and sing-song along with long-forgotten nursery rhymes.

4. Take the birthday-girl on a reluctant walk: half-way through she decides that crawling in easier and faster.

5. Help out in the kitchen and let the near-four year old help peel hard-boiled eggs for dinner buffet, realising this might not be too efficient when she is munching through the one she peeled.

6. Preparing plates with rice, chicken and vegetables for near-four year old with same-height friend who turns out to be just two – damn these Dutch are tall. Try to hide veggies underneath rice: fail.

7.Bounce on green plastic bouncy cow with birthday girl – joined by sister, lots of kisses and cuddles and picture taking.

8.Open presents and admire ourselves in the mirror – completely dressed in pink accessories.

9.Play domino.

10.Saying goodbye and being called back when standing on the stairs: to have to promise I will invite both sisters and parents to my party when I next have one and that we can watch Rapunzel.

10 Happy Thoughts

  1. Like yesterday and the night before I am sleeping in a bed tonight, a
    by Louise Carey @ allposters.com

    real one. True happiness is one huge real bed.

  2. Above is evidence of the generosity and patience of my crazy lovely wonderful friends here in London.
  3. My crazy lovely wonderful friends from NY are still in touch and thinking about them makes me smile.
  4. Writing projects are going well, pilot is still going and I managed to finish a play this weekend.
  5. Just in time as I have now started a ‘voluntary placement’ and I’m an official content writer and content manage- to-be: writing about theatre-stuff. Well soon. As soon as I set it up.
  6. Money vs. opportunity: I am learning a lot about websites, will soon be a SEO and keyword placement wiz.
  7. I feel confident in what I am doing, because I have been doing this blog thing for years now. Finally something I just get.
  8. Working remote and flexible means there is no problem in me going home to NL next week.
  9. Hopefully the right eye can be fixed and I can see the world despite dawn or twilight again. Like normal people.
  10. I will see my niece and her first two teeth celebrating her first birthday! I cannot wait!
  11. Bonus: Gunning For 8 Hours Sleep In Real Bed.