April 27, 2015

Holiday Dilemma

My faithful tentEach year, I face the challenge of packing the little red Toyota with the bare necessities and the other, apparently useful, objects for camping: sleeping bags, kitchen utilities, a tent, folding chairs and a change of clothes.

This year, however, the plans are slightly different.  The trip to Ireland involves an airplane and that causes some restrictions in my preparations.  The plan is to go to Ireland, rent a small camper van and travel around for a week or two.

Paper or digital

On the one hand, I don’t have to be bothered with folding chairs and a heavy (but really spacey) tent and such.  On the other hand, I have to keep a check on the number of books I can bring along.  The thing is, the list of books I’ve been saving for the holidays is still growing:

  • Haruki Murakami’s Strange Library and Kafka on the Shore
  • Ali Smith’s How to be both
  • Stephen Fry’s More Fool Me
  • Kate Fox’ Watching the English
  • J.K. Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling
  • Natsuo Kirino’s Grotesque

The Strange Library isn’t very thick so that’s fine.  Kafka on the Shore I already read before, so I could consider leaving that one home.  The other ones I don’t know yet.  There is a possibility that I won’t be reading much at all, in which case bringing them is a waste of weight.  I could go digital.  That would mean buying digital versions of books I already have, or having to buy new books.  Books which I won’t be able to feel the weight or the touch the pages of; that takes away part of the magic of reading for me.  The fact that I’m considering the option of an e-reader feels like I’m betraying my faithful paper companions.

Counting 

The number of things I can bring back is also rather limited.  I don’t think I’m fit for airplane travels.  It forces me to calculate about ridiculous things I don’t want to be considering.  That seems to defeat the purpose of going on holiday.

Nevertheless, I can’t wait to go.  I just have to accept that it will take a bit more effort than the average holiday.

 

Cecile

April 1, 2015

The Shadow of a Story

cponte_brick_wellI was looking through my folder of stories for the one I had started this week and I came across a document name that was unfamiliar to me: The Well. It was last modified in February 2012. I opened it to find one short paragraph:

She pulled the vines away. With her fingers she traced the lines etched into the bark. It was a complex pattern but one line was a semi-circle starting and ending at the floor. She took a few steps back for a better view. Yes, she was sure. It was a door.

All of sudden, I vaguely remember writing this. But where was I going with this story? What did I want to say? It feels like just waking up from a dream. You remember that you had a great adventure but all that remain is a vague feeling, all details gone.

What a loss!

Anyone else ever experience this?

Vanessa

March 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

©Bonnybxx @ pixabay.comThis year there are three Friday the 13ths.  The first one was in February, the second is today and the third will be in November.  Three Fridays to avoid ladders, black cats, breaking mirrors (that’s generally a good idea), and opening umbrellas while being indoors.  The list of things that are best to be postponed is long, depending on how serious you take it.

Jeopardizing the Future

The superstition about umbrellas is one I enjoy in particular.  They’re handy objects on rainy days, but they can bring some bad luck, too, by opening them indoors, or picking them up after dropping them.  And apparently, umbrellas aren’t gift material either.  (I wonder if I should be worried. I ended up with one at my wedding.  Although I’m not sure it was actually a gift; it was in a plastic wrapper, but not wrapped as a gift.)

Another one I should have known before getting married is that as a single woman you should never drop your umbrella, the chances of getting married in the future will be in jeopardy.  It’s an interesting take for  a story.

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March 11, 2015

Our Digital Writers’ Café

Workplace_EpicantusWhen we were still at uni, Cecile, Sofia and I would meet up in the library, study hall or café to write together, or better said, we would sit together and each work on our own story.  This motivated us to write, and we wrote a lot!  We could pick each other’s brain if we got stuck, or have a little break from writing and laugh together.

But… times have changed.  We no longer live, study or work in the same city any more, and having children means we are a lot less mobile.  So where to find the time, energy or motivation to write?  The days slip by and the number of unwritten stories in my brain pile up.

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March 6, 2015

Reading Is for Girls

Reading, as a past-time activity, is still regarded as something girls do, and as something bothersome that has to be done for school (i.e. the marvellous and intriguing book reports).  Looking back at my schooldays, I have to say this is quite accurate.  During the primary school days reading was fun; it became a bit more serious by the time we had to give presentations on the book we had read, but it was still enjoyable.  It changed with my A-level years, where reading books was mainly a school related activity.  The choices were limited, the assignments predictable, and, basically, just enjoying a book was not much of an option.

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February 23, 2015

A Total Paper Book Lover

Vanessa's bookshelvesI choose bringing extra books instead of extra shoes when I go on holiday.  My husband, however, is more modern.  He simply takes his e-reader filled with a dozen books, giving him ample choice while sitting by the swimming pool.

I know all the advantages of an e-reader: lightweight, adaptable font size, etc.  I even know that they are technologically well created, your eyes won’t tire as they do when reading on a regular screen.  And yet, I can’t give up my paper books.  There’s something special about curling up on the couch with a paper book: the smell, the heft, the feel.  It’s more than just nostalgia speaking! Continue reading

February 21, 2015

Curiosity Kills

Whether it’s Christmas gifts or birthday presents, the hunt to find them has always been a lot of fun.  But then the fun instantly stopped the moment the gifts were discovered (or at least I was convinced I had), the excitement replaced by a sense of guilt (I wasn’t supposed to find them) and disappointment (the new hunt wouldn’t be for another year).

©Action Press/ Rex Features

These days I’m no longer hunting, instead I fish by asking questions about the possible gift.  In return, I receive only cryptic answers that really could be about anything.  The vagueness keeps me going, nurturing the hope that I might figure it out, and at the same the desire that I don’t.

It’s a bit contradicting.

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February 14, 2015

Getting the Hang of My Own Culture

(Courtesy of koenincanada.com)

(Courtesy of koenincanada.com)

Although I’m not an expat, I enjoy reading the blogs written by expats about the Netherlands.  It’s insightful to know about their experiences, especially when it comes down to Dutch habits like directness, or birthday well-wishing.

Rude, direct of efficient?

The most re-occurring experience is the rude attitude we have.  (See for example Netherlands by Numbers.  They dedicated an entire blog to this topic.)  We prefer to call this directness, but I suppose it all depends on the point of view.  Yet whether it’s rudeness, directness or maybe just efficiency, it all comes down to how it’s experienced by someone unfamiliar to it.

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