- Bike riding is terrifying. It seemed like a good theory, but everyone looks so confident. It’s going to take me a while to adjust to that once I start riding (I’m giving myself a bit of time – besides, the bike in the house is too high, and I refuse to ride a too-high bike!)
- I have to get a maintenance contract for the furnace. I didn’t even know I had a furnace. It turns out, though, that there’s a hotwater service with a booster that heats the water both for showers and stuff *and* for the all-through-the-house heater things. Nice, if apparently a little inefficient. I have to keep remembering to turn off the heating when I leave in the morning.
- Those heated towel-rail things are the best ever. At first I was just in love with the warm towel when I got out of the shower, but I have also discovered they are a wonderful way to dry clothes… well, woolens at least – not sure about synthetics yet…
- A bed that looks like a double bed may in fact be two single beds pushed together. Sighsigh.
- The community created around New Years’ fireworks is kinda amazing – bunches of people gathered in the street, sending things up into the sky (mostly – I saw one go whizzing off down the street at foot level – eek!). It meant I was surrounded by things going off. I stood on my balcony for a short while, wrapped in my doona (I was sickly and couldn’t go out and play with the Dutch kids) and then started worrying about whether bits of fireworks come down… hot… clearly my Australian childhood didn’t prepare me. Didn’t prepare me for the fire in the street, either – apparently completely normal. So used to freaking out over fire! Also, there’s a limited amount of time that people can set off fireworks in (from 10 am on new year’s eve to 2 am on new year’s day). Anyone letting off fireworks outside that time is made to clean up the mess the fireworks leave on the streets on new year’s day.
- Health insurance is compulsory and about 130 bucks a month – cheapest. Sigh.
- Electricity will likely cost me about the same amount per month. Eep.
- Tiny birds hanging around for winter are extremely cute.
- There seems to be a thing about candles – they’re always lit in windows in the evening. Intriguing! And kinda pretty too!
- It’s really odd walking down the street, passing windows without curtains in them and then thinking ‘oh my god, that’s someone’s loungeroom and they’re watching TV! I am such a voyeur!’. I’m so used to street-front windows only belonging to shops!
- (Old) Dutch stairs are the steepest ever. I hit my knees if I try to go up too fast. Calling them ‘ladders’ would probably be less misleading. Seriously, my foot doesn’t fit on the step. Which is okay going up, but coming down is a bit scary.
- There’s an extraordinary array of curry pastes and powders, and vegetarian not-meats at the supermarket. Like, extraordinary. Scary, even, one might say! I think I’m just overwhelmed with the variety and not being able to tell whether any of them are vegetarian!
- Dutch cheese is squishy and comes with wax on the outside.
- I really have *absolutely* no clue what people are saying to me in Dutch. As a result, I’m tuning out a lot of random conversation around me. I didn’t even realise until I was in the supermarket and suddenly realised the girl who had been pondering the cheese next to me was in fact speaking English…
- There appear to be 10 TV channels which are mostly shopping channels, at least for some proportion of the day, and many of the ads are terribly American.
- Dutch talk shows look a lot like they’re taking place in someone’s house…
- You pay for *all* maps, including tourist maps with lots of ads in them, and bus route maps, which are apparently wrong anyway.
- I haven’t yet discerned whether cafes are in fact coffeeshops, and eetcafes are cafes, or what. I’m poor just now, but I plan to find out soon. Also I have a coffee shop across the road from me – cutely called Ragamuffin, and done in Jamaican/Rasta colouring) which explains why everyone parks on the pavement and puts their hazards on, just outside my house!
- Everyone parks on the pavement, almost everywhere. The streets are *very* narrow, and really not designed for cars at all.
- There are some pretty people in this town… and some of them own some pretty awesome coats
- The inner part of the town feels like it should be stress-free, with no cars around, but the bikes provide traffic instead!
- Dutch lessons are expensive! Thank goodness work’s paying.
- I am not a fan of being called an ‘ex-pat’. I get why I am, but I have associations with Singaporean ex-pat society (it was my first encounter with the term, I think, and with what it might look like) and they are ugly.
- Lots of Dutch people work 4 days a week. This is completely acceptable. This I kind of love. It’s also part of this whole ‘you work your hours’ thing. Although my boss has made some suggestions about ‘coming in on the weekend,’ most people seem to stick fairly closely to their assigned hours. Nice.
- For working 40 hours a week, I get…. 8 weeks of holidays a year. Although again my boss said something about how no body takes them all. I am dubious about this fact, though…
- Everyone says that the Netherlands have ‘really high tax’. It’s about 30%. From what I remember, that’s pretty close to Australian taxation (though I don’t know if they have a tax-free threshhold thing).
spending quality time with navel
January 28, 2011
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January 3, 2009
Baby in this case being me (and that’s one of the few chances you’ll have to see me refer to myself as ‘baby’) and the bad thing being neglecting this blog shamefully. SHAME! I have been prompted to make this potentially one-off return (who can say? I have broken too many promises to the internet to trust myself to stick to anything… ever…) by, first of all, the brand spanky new year, second of all by the title of my blog glaring balefully at me from my bookmark bar, and third of all by Paul Gowder’s engagement with this post. If you want to see where I’ve been waxing lyrical, it’s been over there (poor Paul, I practically took over his blog for a moment there), over at AWB’s, long-windedly at Books Do Furnish a Room (a design philsophy I already adhere to) and more locally I’ve been Hoydenizing (they’re up for a weblog award. If nepotism counts for anything in this day and age, go vote for tigtog and Lauredhel. They do a great job at HAT).
But if I’ve been neglecting ma blawg, you should know I am an equal opportunity neglector. Although I have a small review (well, apparently I am wordy and long even when I am simply reviewing other people’s work!) coming out, the promises of papers have once more drifted into the ether. I have yet to write the terrifying email to editors of serieses my poor PhD might be welcome in (seriously, I started writing one: ‘Dear Prof. X, I was considering submitting a proposal for a book based on my PhD for the series X, and wanted to give you a chance to say no before I…’ wait, no, something’s not right here…). I’ve got plans for papers that really need to get underway, mostly for special issues which will probably, with my luck, already be packed to the rafters. In other news, I am peeling skin from burnt shoulders (seriously, it evokes kidness for me, back when I used to paint PVA all over my hands just to pull it off slowly later on), learning to hoofer, reading, ah, god, fiction! and being generally a lazy bum. This’ll change any second, no doubt ;-). I have also applied for a job (eep!) in Ireland (accents, sigh…). That took a fair bit of doing, in the end, trying to enumerate the responsibilities of tutoring etc. But it was good to have done. I have heard nothing, but we shall see (I figure a thousand and one people applied for the job, as who doesn’t love an Irish accent, really?). The job kinda looks perfect for me, but probably half of that is just the process of writing the job app and trying to convince them of that…
I have to say, though, my friends, that laziness is extraordinarily relaxing. As are days at the beach, especially where there are waves involved. I shall try to be a bit more disciplined here at the blog, but you know me. Promises, promises… But happy new year, intertubular world. I hope it brings naught but fun, happiness and surprises of the good kind to you all!
P.S Thanks to all who sent me virtual congrats, both here and privately. You made it possible, midears! I should probably also let you lot know that I have been awarded a ‘Vice Chancellor’s Commendation’. Scare quotes designate me not really knowing what it means, but they tell me it’s for excellence in research. Suh-weet! You’ll let me know when I cross the line into boasting, right?
October 17, 2008
I’m going to be a doctor. A Doctor? A PhD.
My examiners’ reports (for those of you not from Oz, you might not know that we don’t get a viva, or a defense or anything; we’re too geographically isolated for that. We get three reports from different examiners) arrived a little while ago. The HDRU (Higher Degree Research Unit) people wrote to me, making me panic by saying that they’d been forwarded to my supervisor, who would write a report about them, and then the committee would meet and come to some kind of a conclusion. I was sure that this meant that there had been massive discrepancies between the reports, but as it turns out, the answer to that worry is ‘No.’
I hadn’t written about this anxiety here, but I’m going to describe it now, because I know a few people round the place are waiting on results, and everyone who’d come before me told me stories that just didn’t match with how I felt. I didn’t want my reports. I sincerely didn’t. I wanted having handed the goddamn thing in to be the end of it. I wanted that to have been enough. Enough of an achievement, to just get it in. I wanted no criticism, not even constructive criticism. I know this is childish and stupid, but it felt like any tiny piece of criticism would be enormously devastating; would erase the whole goddamn thing. I’m like this at the best of times (insane, I know, and unsustainable, I know that too; we’re working on it, ‘kay?). My supervisor had completely lost any capacity to convince me of the worth of my work by the end of the thesis. I fell for the probably stupid and untrusting belief that she would say anything positive to get me to hurry the fuck up and hand it in (ooh, she deserves more than that, my friends! I am a terrible person!) I have a general tendency to believe every negative thing to the nth degree, and to disbelieve anything positive (generally by the bad bit of me telling me that people have investments in making me feel good. This is silly, I know; most people can’t be bothered having those kinds of investments.)
But really: I had worked so hard, but I was so so so horribly aware of its flaws: of stilted patches, of argumentation I remained unconvinced by (even as I was convinced enough to write it), of examples that didn’t match the argument. Quite possibly lots of this happened in imagination; I haven’t dared to pick the thing up again since I submitted it. When I received the letter that told me my supervisor had my reports, and that I would get a copy of them soon, my heart pounded and I (did I mention childish?) called my mama and said all of the things I’ve just said. She told me I didn’t mean all of them, and I assured her I did. And she ran out of comforting things to say, as is inevitable when someone has already decided the situation will be devastating with a tiny drop of negativity.
And then the reports came in. I am a wimp. I called my mama again, and made her sit on the phone with me; the first reading of my reports, then, was out loud. If I’d thought about it properly, this is dumb: words get weighty in the air.
But these reports, my friends, these reports?
Glowing, i believe is the term. I have had to carry around a copy of the reports with me, for when the bad bit of me starts to think I must have made up the positives. Pinching doesn’t work, even though it (my present state, not the pinching so much) feels dreamy. These reports have gone a fair distance to restoring some of my faith in academia (!), not because I like people who like my work (though I do), but because there is no point-scoring in them, no ego, massive amounts of encouragement, of a recognition of what they see as valuable and a real generosity in both the reading and articulation of why they call it (and they do) “a remarkable achievement”.
I could boast by pulling out ‘the best bits’ (as my sister wanted me to do) but I’m not going to. I’m just going to say: I didn’t want my reports; but the affirmation they’ve given me is… well, let’s just hope that this brief moment out from the ever-present imposter syndrome lasts; because it is astonishingly gorgeous. And that’s despite the numerous typos I have to fix!
[raises champagne glass] Cheers! (and be sure to meet my eyes; no seven years of bad sex for me, thanks!)
September 23, 2008
That’s right, my friends. I’m off to potentially sunnier, probably cloudier, definitely deliciously rougher climes for about two weeks. I’ll be back then with my overly involved take on why Half Life roolz Bioshock so hard it hurts. That’s right, kids, this is theory central, this is 😉 Take care, one and all!
April 14, 2008
EY lovelies. I want nothing more than to hang out here and post banal crazy shit. However, I am also being very stern with myself, given that I have a thousand and one things to sort out. I am currently half-moved, a situation I recommend not at all. I am out of my old house, and unable to return (!), and not yet into my new house (thanks to crappy sydneysider housing costs and stupid market etc etc boring boring boring shit). On the *hup!* side, the place I do have will have all the uniqueness of being mine-and-mine-alone, having my shiny new fridge (am total adult now!), and the Sly Fox as my local (! bring on nightly $6 cocktails and Wednesdays of Kingness! Woot!). In the meantime, I am also trying to get a final draft of my final chapter to my (final?) supervisor. After which, she assures me, I will take two weeks to make the ‘cosmetic’ changes she is suggesting (at least one per page, however, which makes me feel a little less comforted than I think she intended…) and possibly a lil longer to write an intro and conclusion, and hand the bastard in. We’ll see. I’ve been promising to finish this thesis any minute now for, oh, months, really. If you pray, send vibes of goodness, or drink in sympathy to people, now would be the moment to do so.
In other words, I will be back, but I may be some time…
(in other other words, this bastard may kill me yet… ;-))