Friday, May 02, 2014


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at the age of 13 i suddenly became very unhappy with my looks (what an unusual story... i can just see you shifting to the edge of your seat in anticipation...). right there and then i decided i was too fat, too short, too long-nosed, too heavy-bosomed, too wide-thighed, too curly-haired and too generally bloody wrong. this impression persisted all the way through my teens and my twenties, despite (or possibly aided by) the hours and energy i spent trying to change and/or forget this regrettable state of affairs. Nor did I get much help from that most infamous threesome of devils (diet, fashion, and booze).

 then, on the cusp of my fourth decade, I became a mother. And for a few years, I did not have any time, energy or inclination to look at myself in the mirror, let alone consider what I saw there. And so it was not until sometime later in my thirties that my attention was drawn to a most remarkable transformation (one which had apparently been occurring quietly and steadily while I wasn't looking). One day, I happened to glance in a mirror on my way out of the door, and was shocked to catch sight of a strikingly beautiful woman (I know this is all sounding very Andersenian swan-ducky now, and yet another original episode to this fascinating tale, but bear with me, the ending is not so happy as in Andersen). There she was, in my mirror, this slim, fine-legged, round-hipped, beautifully-bosomed, cheeky-nosed, gorgeously curly-haired nymph. And she was smiling. This discovery of my own beauty (a combination I suspect of maturation, loss of baby-fat, a growing sense of compassion and declining eye-sight on the part of the observer) (i.e. me) left me breathless with delight. Followed a few years in which I could simply not get enough of mirrors (and self-portraits) (and portraits by adoring men) (or professional photographers) (or anybody really), of trying on new clothes, and writing secret odes to my feet (really pretty feet) and perfectly-shaped ears. Blah blah blah. Seriously, it was REALLY NICE....

 and it lasted for a while. Until one day... (oh those original paragraph introductions... can you tell i'm a writing instructor). Until one day, the next wave of major life transformation hit (affair, blah blah, divorce, blah blah, pregnancy, blah blah, self-employment, blah blah, too many kids, blah blah, too little sleep, blah blah, teeth falling out, blah blah, hair falling out, blah blah, and... more blah blah), and in the aftermath i once again had neither time nor strength to lift my eyes towards any mirror. Besides, I already knew I was beautiful. Right? so things went on, as they do, fast-forward, fast-forward, all the way to this week: I went to the hairdresser. For the first time in years. And the thing about the hairdresser is that, no matter what else happens there, you are going to have to sit for an hour (or more) in front of a huge (GIGANTIC) mirror filled completely with you (and the busy hairdresser). So I did that, and came out in tears. In the hairdresser's chair in front of me, sat a greyish older woman, with a distinctly lined face set in a mask of permanent dissatisfaction, flabby skin hanging off in various places, deep dark blue rings under her spark-less eyes, a face sharp like the beak of a crow, and very VERY little hair. The new me.

And i know i'm supposed to think that this is silly, because beauty is how you feel, not how you look, blah blah, and ageing is a beautiful thing, blah blah, and probably most of it is just me being tired, blah blah, and oh my god there are actual real problems out there in the big big world, and even in my tiny tiny world, that should instantaneously bring this so-called tragedy to its real (and ant-like) proportions, but... ... but i don't care that it's petty and small-minded, or that it lacks perspective. I don't care that nobody cares about this but me. I am weeping for youth and beauty lost, I am weeping for missing like crazy the beautiful nymph who used to live in my mirror, and I am stabbed with envy every single time I look, with a green-yellow heart, at the ever more stunning nymph growing out right from under my (newly flabby) chin.

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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

you know who i really miss?

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i miss me. i forgot to look in the mirror for so long, now i don't dare. something tells me, from sly half-glances over my shoulder, over a child's head, putting on my coat, rushing to the door, that the woman in the mirror is no longer someone i know. you go away long enough, people change. their face, their voice. you stop writing long enough, the ink dries up, the paper yellows. i am scared. what if it grates? what if i have turned into someone i don't know. or like. it's deeply unsettling, this shyness in facing myself. and so i go out of my way to avoid any encounter. no journal by my bed. no blog. hours spent on internet, reading other people's stuff. no batteries in my camera. no money for blank notebooks. no ladder to reach the high shelf where the poetry is stored. no proper light-bulb in the closet. how long have i been tiptoeing around like this, hiding from myself?

i keep saying it's a good life, this new life, and it probably is. but i miss me. and it makes me wonder, how can a life of mine be real good, if i'm not in it?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Toini in the world

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I. "Mama, weet jij waarom Sinterklaas een wit paard heeft?" "Nee, waarom?" "Nou, duizenden jaren geleden waren witte paarden alléén voor rijke mensen, en Sinterklaas was rijk omdat hij een bisschop was, dus kocht hij een witte paard..." "Oh." "Ja, gelukkig maar, want nu zou hij het niet meer kunnen betalen, hij is nu niet meer rijk, nu moet hij voor die hele fabriek betalen..."

II. "Mama, waarom bouwen ze van die grote hekken overal?" "Dat komt omdat de Amerikaanse President op bezoek komt." A long silence. "Is die man zó gevaarlijk, dan?"

III. "Mama, geloof jij in God?" "Ja." "Ik niet. Maar.... er zijn wel andere dingen waar ik in geloof..." "Zoals wat?" "Nou, sommigen mensen zeggen dat als het regent, dat het God is die huilt, dat geloof ik wel. Jij ook?" "Nee, dat geloof ik niet." "Dat is gek!"

IV. "Mama, weet je wie ik het lekkerst vind ruiken?" "Nee, wie dan?" "Tomas, boven op zijn hoofd. Ik vind het zo lekker om hem daar kusjes te geven, maar hij vind het vaak niet leuk, en dan roept hij nee, en dan stop ik." "Oh." "Ja... maar weet je waarom ik het toch blijf proberen?" "Nee, waarom?" "Omdat Tomas nog géén 'ja' kan zeggen..."


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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Toini's joke

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'- Waarom bromt een bromvlieg als hij bromt?
- Omdat zijn vleugeltjes snurken.'

he says it's a joke. i think it's poetry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

home-made roman

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he made it himself (with the help of the local larger carpenter), and painted it by copying the design of his playmobil roman shield. he is ready to conquer the hood.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

his glossary, lovingly captured by her

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De woorden van Tomas 

"ongo" - ja, en, goed              
tam - daar, kom 
pashishi - keokkeloere tijdmashine 
kloea - koekkeloere 
pie - piertje 
moffel - moffel 
alie - arie 
tako - traktor 
moent - mond 
panie - mevrouw, meneer 
wauw - groot 
mana - klein 
op, ma - niet meer, weg 
loefa - sloffen 
pjapa - muts 
pjaap - piraat 
pjama - pyama

... and the ones she forgot:
klaan - boob
goenen - shoes
één - more
groot - big
toma - Tomas
tafu - table/chair
ala - Babcia Ala
laba - Isabelle
tono - Toini
fini - finger
bovu - upstairs/downstairs
bini - upstairs/downstairs
buj - swing
grum - pig
mu - cow


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40 day-plan - swim in the sea - screenless nights - bow in front of my man - listen - allow madness